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Shadowrun: Data Trails $49.99 $24.99
Average Rating:2.6 / 5
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Shadowrun: Data Trails
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Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/07/2016 18:57:01

Just another fail in the long line of Catalyst fails at Srun 5e.

It has nothing in it for Technomancers and has tons of fluff but no actual mechanics for the "Foundation".

Really just poor all around.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Carl A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/11/2015 19:18:53

I'm really conflicted on what to rate this product. For the price to crunch value, I'd have to say a 2 (maybe even a 1). But I really like the rules for AIs and for that I'd give it a 4 or 5.

I have a major gripe with one thing, though. The terrible excuse for a a table of contents and a complete lack of an Index! The rules for creating an AI starts on page 145, which doesn't even show up in the Table of Contents. Instead, it is buried in a section called "Principles of Insanity". WTF? How are you supposed to know where this is short of memorizing it or looking at every single page?!? If there was a good Index, I'd forgive this, but I have to reduce the rating to a 2 instead.

There is some useful information here, but why is the ToC so terrible? For a premium priced PDF we should get a good ToC AND a good Index. There are apps that will build both of those for you, and this book really needs it.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Jack T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/07/2015 22:45:52

TLDR: Don't buy this book unless you specifically want more Matrix fluff or run decker/technomancer-centric campaigns. Go get Run Faster if you haven't already.

I went into Data Trails knowing that others had already said the "good stuff" was missing from it. I kept a detailed report of how I felt about the book. It started off with five stars, and then after the first section of fluff it quickly dropped off. I eventually had to quit reading and come back a long time later to finish up. I am reading it a second time just for the rules, but now I can't even do that.

First and foremost, their talk back in January about fixing up the proofing process back at the end of January (link below) seems to have not gotten anywhere, as there was a parade of errors in the book. It's hard to stay into the reading when I keep coming across them.

Second, I was hoping Data Trails would fill the void of questions left about the Matrix. All it really did was add some things on and provide a lot of fluff. Most of the fluff is good fluff, mind you, but still. And then the end is padded with a re-explaination of the rules.

I'm giving this a 3 if only because there are added things in here that are -fun-, and some are -interesting-. But in all honestly, I'm highly disappointed in Catalyst and will be taking back my pledge to buy their books until there's been a good amount of time to see reviews.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by William J. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/04/2015 02:08:01

I love the Matrix. And I really like SR5. I think they've done a lot to really improve the game from SR4.

The Matrix resolves faster and its rules are more consistent with the rest of the game.

With that said, Data Trails is terrible. Its the lightest core supplement book released so far. Not just on page count, but also on crunch. A lot of this book is fluff, and don't get me wrong, I love the fluff in SR. But the Matrix doesn't need fluff, it needs more options. There are only 2 really new things, Deep Dives, where you go into the Foundation of a Host and can control it but where the rules get weird and dangerous and a lot more abstract, and playable AIs. There is also one new Matrix action and the ability to modify electronics, which are cool but I don't feel drastically add to the rules.

There is some pretty damn good fluff in here too. The short story, Body Hunt, is an amazing read and even brings back the classic character Wolf from Michael A. Stackpole's Wolf and Raven novel. But, while the story was a great read, the rules to do what is done in the story are not explained. Though it is kind of implied how to possibly handle it. And another other short story, Corporate Sponsorship has a decker data spike a camera then mark it with sleaze, which makes no sense by the rules. Anyway, this isn't actually important, because I don't think fluff and crunch need to match, but it sure is nice when it does.

The problem is there isn't enough content in this book. It has a lot of sample hosts and NPCs, which I don't care about, because I'd rather buy an adventure book for that content. For a core supplement I'd rather have more options for deckers and TMs for players, which can also give more ideas and options for NPCs.

The worst part is that there are rules for NPCs but not for PCs. No prices for wireless-negating-paint or faraday cages. No rules for writing software. Nothing for how much it costs to have a host. This means that NPCs can have these things, while PCs can not. One of the things that helps GMs and players is the ability to theorycraft and steal ideas from each other. Anything the PCs can come up with, the GM can use and visa versa. But that is not the case in Data Trails as the GM and PCs are playing with slightly different tools. Its disappointing.

There is also a lot of word count dedicated on clarifying core. Which honestly, is lame. I didn't pay $25 to get the same content in core just explained to me again. I want new stuff. Exciting stuff. Cool stuff. I just want pointless part of the rules that really slow down gameplay, like hacking cameras or opening doors to resolve faster while having epic things like data steals be even more epic and amazing. I want the Matrix to be so insanely invasive to the setting that a hacker isn't there just to loop cameras and open doors, but is there to mess people up with hacking, like a mage can with a fireball or a street sam with a big gun. I just want the Matrix to matter. This book doesn't help with that.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Marco N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2015 17:25:38

The Table of Contents is a bad joke, important stuff is missing and the organization is horrible.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/24/2015 16:16:56

Shadowrun: Data Trails provides information, tools and background for the Matrix, the successor of the web in the Shadowrun future. Is it vital to your Shadowrun game? Yes, immediately, if you are a GM running a Matrix focused game, and at some point otherwise as it has enough useful information on the Matrix and deckers to be widely useful for any Shadowrun campaign. The product could have been better organized and the GM’s section deserved to be much larger but still a useful addition to the Shadowrun range.

Shadowrun: Data Trails, is the core matrix handbook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun providing information on the matrix, the global computer network that ties everything together. There should be something for just about everyone (but especially the GM).

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then an (in game world) discussion on the new Matrix (the global computer network of the Shadowrun universe), how it has changed and how it works now. It provides a useful overview of the various Matrices, as each major Megacorps has their own overlay as do most governments and then there is the baseline public matrix (the PubGrid) for those who cannot access something better. A brief description of the appearance and feel Megacorp grids and some others are provided to allow for better description of such environments.

The next section deals with the people who use the Matrix, focusing in the hackers, with notes on the hacker underground, slang, and some of the hacker and technomancer groups you can find (or fight or join). Next there is a short section of new positive and negative qualities mostly, but not exclusively, for hackers and technomancers and including such gems as “online fame,” everyone knows the online you, and “data liberator” where you are so convinced that data wants to be free that you give it away every chance you get. The “Born to Hack” section provides life modules to use with the module-based character creation system of Run Faster, but might suggest some builds for characters even if not using that system. Then the work moves into new apps, programs and forms providing new options for hackers and technomancers both. Following new software is new hardware, commlinks, cyberdecks and more for the discerning hacker.

It then veers back to how the new Matrix works with an overview of how the various corporate grids are patrolled and defended including new IC and NPC stats for some of the security personnel one might encounter. Next, hosts are discussed, which is good as they are the major subsystems that hackers are going to be dealing with. Different types of hosts are discussed, government, retail, R&D and so on, with examples for each type presented both in game terms and a full description of how there appear and why they were shaped that way. A brief run on a host is also given as an example of such things which is useful but it could have been a bit more detailed and explicit references to the rules (and rolls) and where to find them would have made it more useful. But the host section is solidly useful and provides good information for GMs, and things to worry about for PCs. Beneath hosts, indeed underlying the entire new matrix, is the Foundation a realm of deep programming that follows its own dreamlike rules. From there you can manipulate the host on a major level, if you can understand the weird dream logic of each realm and, on the bright side, it is a great place to bring your whole team into to solve problems. Two example Foundation realms: Gnome factory, a 1950s-ish cartoon factory run by garden gnomes for a quick adventure, and Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice (really) as an exercise in roleplaying and intrigue (though it is only minimally fleshed out).

Next is “The Principles of Insanity” which talks about AI of several different types, including e-ghosts, technomancers that have fallen to the dissonance (the toxic shamans of the technomancer set) and a little bit more on the realm of Matrix and UV hosts. Embedded within this chapter are some new rules, the most major of which is playable AI-types, which I think would have been considerably helped by having a few example characters to better understand how the designers were thinking of the various AI-types and how they could function as characters. Additionally some notes on what sorts of additional abilities dissonance technomancers may manifest and how UV hosts affect those jacked into them. There are lots of good ideas and hooks in this section yet everything feels unfinished with just enough information to get started and then the rest will have to be sorted out on the fly.

Lastly there is a section on Mastering the Matrix, which is advice for the GM on how to use the Matrix in a Shadowrun game. Advice on structuring the use of the Matrix for various scenario types, advice on linking the action between deckers and everyone else, ways to present the Matrix to convey different story metaphors and some basic reminders on how combat in the Matrix works along with an example combat. This should have been the first or second section as it help GMs (and players) frame the information in the other sections and it should have been larger. The Matrix and linking adventure in it to the action of the rest of the characters is by far one of the hardest things a Shadowrun GM has to do in game.

Overall a useful work if oddly organized, I cannot help but think that it would have been better if all of the rules information was gathered in one place rather than being scattered about. Also a chart collecting all of the Matrix actions, old and new, would have been helpful.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Rian V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/06/2015 17:04:32

Shadowrun 5 is my first SR edition. I like the fluff in this book - given that it consists of hardly anything else -, but it doesn't answer any questions I ran into while playing as a decker. How do you make your own host? What is patrol IC looking for on a host? How do you make your own programs? Is it possible to create your own deck? Do PANs and WANs maybe offer more functionality than just more security (debatable)? What keeps me from slaving all my devices to the biggest, baddest commlink I can get my hands on and profit from the permanently high firewall rating?

Instead, it adds many questions. I like the idea of the Foundation aka "The plumbing of the Matrix" - a place not unlike UV hosts, as in hyperreal, from which hosts are "grown" from specialized corps. How? Why? No answers. GMing for a decker who really wants to get gritty with the Matrix is probably a nightmare, because it's all very abstract and mysteries are thrown upon the reader which will probably be answered in later books. So either you go along and answer NO questions in your games for the curious players or you make something up and risk going waaaay out of canon with your game.

Anyway, there are a couple entries which I found especially interesting for me personally: How to build a 'deck replacement from scraps (you can turn your toaster into a weapon now), new qualities and the new Matrix action Garbage in/Garbage out, which will open up many posibilities for shenanigans. Also some example runs and the short Matrix overview for GMs are quite informative and I like that AIs are playable characters now.

Other than that, if you want to find an entry for reference, be prepared to stick lots of bookmarks into your PDF. The table of contents is lousy, to say the least.

Overall an okay addition, but severely lacking in crunch.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Martin F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/05/2015 02:30:09

the layout and design of this book is terrible, its almost impossible to find anything you are looking for unless you know exactly what chapter it is in. which is hard when the table of contents does not list what each of the chapters contains nor what they are about. I would not have purchased if i had know this was the case, and I hope they ditch the design very quickly.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Stephen D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2015 18:04:54

Not really as bad as some of the reviews make it out to be. This is more a setting book for the matrix than anything else. There are some useful new rules: AIs as characters, upgrading comlinks to gain either a sleaze or attack attributes (pick one), and a new take on matrix architecture. At the same time, the cultural shift to a post-Snowden world is going to set some people off. The Matrix is no longer about freedom. Instead the high lethality of the 5th edition Matrix rules have been packaged as a silent pogrom by the corporations against dissenters. If deckers or technomancers are your favorite character type, then you're probably going to feel put upon by this setting element. If your group tends to run with an NPC decker, then you're going to find much of the fluff useful. Just don't expect 4e levels of crunch.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2015 06:02:24

Ok, first let me set this up by pointing out that 1. The one reviewer who first reviewed this book is a paid reviewer. $$$$ equals "5 star" review where I am not a "paid reviewer". I do not get "$$$" for my review of this product. Overall, I give this product 2 stars.

With that said, lets cover what this book is and what it is not. What this book is not is an upgrade for deckers/technomancers/rigggers. If this is what you want, get "unwired" from either the 4th edition shadowrun section of this site or your friend, GM., ect.. This book was written with the clear assumption that we are using "unwired" 4th edition and the game desingners are going from there. What this book is is a set up for technomancers that will be covers in a follow up book, more pay to pay naturally, its worse than "free to play" but you must understand that this is all suppose to support the questionable "shadowrun chronicles", much in the same way the failed "Defiance" mmo was to follow the tv series and parallel each other, these books are to do the same and this book is the into much like ""shattered souls" which introduced CDF, "gag", into the game world. So this book questionable tries to introduce an answer to the question of what is resonance/dissonance? So to the reader I say yes this book is actually more for technomancer and tries to reintroduce the roles of decker and rigger as defined in the video game "shadowrun chronicles". However, one must realize video games rarely if ever translate cleanly into print game mechanics, it just doesn't work.

So as a bridge, this book serves a purpose as a set piece crossover to a reintroduction to the matrix -ONLY-, not to playing a decker/rigger/technomancer. For that reader, one must continue you wait, and of course pay as well, the writers do not provide the material out of the goodness of their hearts, they have bills to pay as well. My suggestion is if you want to play a decker or rigger, get "unwired" or "rigger black book" form previous editions and save your money from the rehash. If you play a technomancer, stay tuned and keep your wallets handy, they are only starting to milk this cow, thus the 2 star MOO!

Finally to the writers, the book suffers from the same poor proof reading that has plagues this entire series, and to I suggest the following; 1. get a proof reader or for god sake..hire an intern to proof read!! 2 stars..nothing more!!!!



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Jan K. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/28/2015 01:11:41

Dissapointing. We have waited so long for data trails and then ... well... disappointing. To much feels like rewritten from older books, packed in new words with little essential new. With stripping elemental parts. No real stuff for technomancers. No essential new informations about AIs. Partly it feels like Catalyst has to write this book but doesn't want to. After the state of Street Grimoire now this. We are back to 4th edition. Thinking of the old paper times when you can't throw an pdf errata here and there or just deliver missing content via an additional ebook.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Data Trails
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Jacob A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/27/2015 16:17:09

So, great fluff book overall. The quality of bookmarks is a bit annoying though. The new programs and apps are cools. The new gear is awesome, especially for anyone running a street level or low nuyen game. The new complex forms are epically evil. The detail on hosts and such is long over due and well detailed. Nice examples built in. AIs are a bit complex but seems they shouldn't be too unbalanced.

But.... the echoes.... seriously. Did the person that wrote that page ever play or even read SR5? I have had to houserule 4 out of the 8 because they are either too poorly worded to make sense, they apply to rolls/actions that do not exist in 5th edition, or they hold zero purpose.

Overall, good book, except for the 1 page of echoes. Hopeful errata will fix that.

Thing they missed (in book and compared to 4th ed), streams (technomancer traditions), nuyen cost for host machines and apps, viruses/worms and other mass hack rules, writing own programs is hiding in the A.I. section but the time doesn't make a lick of sense when applied to decker.

Supposedly they are making a technomancer book for later this month, which is fine with me, if they would have at least proof read a bit better. I suspect we will also see a small book like Data Havens, similar to how they did Aetherology.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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