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Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook $44.99 $15.00
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Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Elton R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/03/2015 14:36:22
Ah, Shadowrun. So where does one begin?

In 1986, I was given the Dungeons and Dragons Basic Set (BECMI). In 1990, I encountered the Shadowrun RPG. When you "live and breathe" Dungeons and Dragons, being presented a whole different game that anything else (Shadowrun), it tends to break what you think about games. I was rigidly thinking about classes at the time, but Shadowrun was(n't) the first Skill Based System I encountered. It was the first RPG that didn't advertise that it's different than D&D. Well, of course it was blatantly different -- Urban Fantasy mixed with Cyberpunk -- but what set it apart is the aspect of this review.

-- THE THEMES OF SHADOWRUN --
Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Rolemaster, and Palladium -- basically any game that has an alignment mechanic -- is a game of High Fantasy or Morality. The games are set up to be clear cut. Good guys always wear white hats, and bad guys always wear black. In D&D, bad guys tie young maidens to train tracks and good guys always rescue them in the nick of time. You can always tell the White Knight is on the side of Righteousness, and you can always tell that the Black Knight is the side of Wickedness. In D&D, and the games that profess to be better than D&D, everything is black and white, everything is clear cut.

In Shadowrun, you can't tell the white hats from the black because your character is a Shadowrunner. A career criminal that puts fear into the hearts of good company men and women everywhere. You don't live in regular society, you lurk in the shadows, interacting with society when its demanded. And playing a criminal, or a Shadowrunner, you live in a world where not everything is cut black and white. There are no White Knights, and there are no men in Black. Everything is morally gray in a World of low magic, high technology, and low life scum. What counts when you go on a Shadowrun mission is your own wits and your own truth.

-- Basic Conventions --
Shadowrun's basic system depends on cubes, or craps dice, in order to work. When you roll dice in the system, you roll the d6s against a target number, and the number of dice you roll is your attribute rating plus skill rating. It's that simple. It's not about rolling an icosahedron to get a result. It's about rolling your d6s. For Shadowrun 4th Edition, plan on using up to twelve cubes. In 5th Edition, this can get up to twenty-four cubes.

-- Creating Your Character ---
You create a character in 4th Edition by getting 400 build points (the equivalent of using GURPS Character Points) and deciding on a metahuman species. This can be humans, elves, dwarves, orcs (or orks, which the spelling can be orksome), and trolls. Another supplement upgrades the choices to Metahuman Variants, Changlings (of which you can play a "furry"), drakes, vampires, shape changers, nagas, spirits, and Artificial Intelligences.

After that, you purchase qualities -- good or bad -- and then you purchase your attributes. Then you decide the skills. Skills are divided up into active skills, knowledge skills, and language skills. Active skills are what your character can do. Knowledge skills are what your character knows, they also represent hobbies. And language skills are what your character can speak.

After you have your skills figured out, you use the rest of your build points to figure out your resources. Alternatively, of course, you can pick an "archetype." The Archetypes are sample characters to show you what is possible they include:
* A Bounty Hunter
* Combat Mage
* Covert Ops Specialist
* Drone Rigger
* Enforcer
* Face
* Gunslinger (which is an adept)
* Hacker
* Occult Investigator
* Radical Eco-Shaman
* Smuggler
* Sprawl Ganger
* Street Samurai
* Street Shaman
* Technomancer
* Weapon Specialist

After that, a chapter on how the skill system works, then the combat system. Then, as Shadowrun is a game that mixes the Cyberpunk genre with Urban Fantasy (As William Gibson has so pointedly put it: "Except that the admixture of cyberspace and, spare me, *elves*, has always been more than I could bear to think about.") there are like four subsystems you have to be aware of that makes the game work. The first is combat, which is already covered somewhat. Combat, and Combat Gear is expanded upon in Arsenal.

The second is Magic. The rules on Magic, in the chapter called the Awakened World, has set the notion that Shadowrun is a low magic world. There isn't many spells, and they are, in particular, flavorless and generic but they get the job done. Aside from that, most of the chapter is spent on the culture of the Awakened World and how that world is represented by the rule system. Magic is expanded upon in Street Magic.

The third is the Virtual World of the Matrix. In the 2070s, the world has become truly wireless, for Shadowrun to keep up with the wireless technology that we see around us: iPads, iPhones, and iPods are just examples. People depend on Commlinks (and in 5th edition, the newest generation of Cyberdecks) to interact with the Matrix. Here, a little bit on the subculture of the Matrix is revealed, and how players can interact with the matrix as hackers and technomancers. The last are beings able to interact with the Matrix through the powers of their own minds -- although they give up the ability to be magicians because of it. As for programs, Hackers still run programs on the Matrix, as for technomancers -- they use complex forms and sprites to interact with the Matrix. The World of the Matrix is expanded upon in Unwired.

The last subsystem is the Rigging subsystem. In Shadowrun, you require a vehicle control rig in order to control vehicles and drones. If you are a technomancer, you need an echo or two to immerse yourself into the vehicle system. There isn't really a Rigger book for SR4A.

Finally, the Gamemaster is given clues on how to run the system. As characters complete missions (adventures), they are awarded kharma. They then can use karma to improve their characters.

The last bit is on enemies. It's an Awakened World, and a small bestiary containing dragons, vampires, and spirits are presented. Also a number of other beasts are presented -- but a full selection is available in Running Wild, Parabiology, Parabotany, and Parabiology 2.

After that, a whole chapter is presented for Gear, including Cybertechnology and Biotechnology. All of this is expanded on in the books Augmentation, Arsenal, and Attitude. Vehicles and guns are expanded upon in Gun Haven, Used Car Lot, and *This Old Drone.*

-- Conclusion --
This is a game, in my opinion, that should be given to fans of D&D or the d20 System. Shadowrun is a way to ease them into a Cyberpunk future without throwing away some of the conventions that they are used to. Elves, dwarves, orcs, dragons, creatures from our myths and legends -- they are all in there. The game never has been marketed as better than D&D, just different.

Through the game, you are playing a criminal. Orks aren't bad, trolls aren't evil, and elves can work along side them with dwarves. Although you do get the "We elves are better than everyone else, and we make sure everyone knows it!" attitude, its not among the majority of all elves. And although Or'zet allows for Ork Rap, not every Ork is keen on creating their own nation. But it's that these attitudes exist that helps keep the game interesting.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Andrew O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2015 12:58:12
Great pdf. Well put together. We're now happily running a Shadowrun 4e game with my group. Thanks for making this available.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Paul H. D. B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/14/2013 08:37:21
At first this special edition appears to be a rehash, a recombinant of the Shadowrun universe. True, the original information is reiterated, the state of existence that veteran readers of the genre know by heart, is referred to yet again, but this is done in a completely original and creative way. What came before is addressed from a fresh, new perspective that is very compelling because it is give by a person, a native of this dark, dreary projection of the future. The book also expands on the Shadowrun universe, adding additional layers to its history and creating events that bringing new and imaginative concepts to the writer's desk.

The art is evocative and inventive. It gives a great first impression to those who are unfamiliar with Shadowrun and offers a new look to Catalyst game labs' world of the late 21st century. The digital quality is indeed high. It makes me believe that no print edition is necessary because the clarity of the images is so fine.

Well done, CGL, keep up the good work. You deserve nothing but praise.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Stefan M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/27/2013 13:01:19
Really amazing game, and great digital quality.
One of the best things about the system is the grimmy-low fantasy and the matrix-system.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Rory H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/18/2012 04:20:14
Shadowrun takes the biscuit for being the stupidest concept ever for a RPG setting (Cyberpunk with ELVES! to paraphrase a well known sci-fi author). Yet, the quality of production, art, and it's sheer playability have kept this game and IP going strong for decades - even when the cyberpunk fad itself has faded. It deserves it's classic status, and this is a really gorgeous book, with clear dice pool rules and lots of setting material. Highly recommended for even casual or skeptical fans.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Leigh T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/04/2011 18:02:18
Well written with good pieces of fiction before each chapter to give a good idea of the world flavour. You can easily play Shadowrun with just this book, though the other books provide more depth and options.
My biggest con on this is that the front and back covers are put together as a montage which makes it difficult to view and navigate the rest of the book. I don't know why this was done and would much rather the book was set up normally with the front cover and then the back cover so navigation would work normally.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Brook C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/03/2011 18:23:20
This latest version of Shadowrun is fairly streamlined, and as always, I love the setting.
The rules for each activity (magic, tech, combat) work under fairly similar logic, which makes playing faster and easier.
I like how the Matrix has become even more pervasive and integrated into daily life.

The point buy is very flexible, and creates reasonably competent characters, though it is very tempting to minmax.

The illustrations are color and very pretty, and I like the short stories before each chapter.

This may be a problem with PDFs in general, but I find that the pages lag terribly when trying to flip through the book. Not too bad once you can remember where everything is, but still annoying.
As part of the revision from 4th Edition, a lot of the page references have changed, and several of them are off by a page or two.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sebastian B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/02/2011 10:55:33
And 4th
Yea I´ve played it now about 2 years. Its ab good game, but the problems you got in the 3rd are still there.
The rules aren´t really so much faster as said and a lot of the compromises and atavisms of the 1st and 2nd Ed are still there.

NOW to the really nice points, the book got top art, good stories and an overall nice appeal.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Peter H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/24/2011 13:03:28
This is a beautiful book and well organized. They have cleaned up a bit of the rules from 4e but its essentially the same game. If you are an old time fan looking to get back into Shadowrun or new to Shadowrun this is probably the book you should buy. While I do prefer older editions SR4A is streamlined and arguably easier to play. New players may want to pick up the runners toolkit for PACKS as this new edition adds to the slowness of character creation by using a point build system. The Matrix rules are very close to the 1e rules only nodes are now generic and you no longer get to add your reaction attribute. There is almost no difference between a Hermetic Mage and a Shaman from a mechanics standpoint and target numbers are no longer variable. If this sounds like the streamlining you always wanted you should pick it up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by gabe w. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/05/2010 10:43:39
Okay so I have always been a fan of sci-fi but never found the right game but now I have found shadowrun I have realised it's perfect everything about this game is great I wish I could give it more stars.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Fred L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2010 10:04:31
I'm really starting to love the .pdf downloads - being able to transport all of my reference material on a portable hard drive and read it on a netbook is a huge plus. This particular book is gorgeous - and with the money I saved by not springing for a used copy of the Collector's Edition (the only copy I can find locally), I can afford to pick up the supplementary rule books as well!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: 4th Ed. 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/23/2009 19:41:52
I was really impressed by the ground covered by Catalyst with the 4th edition, although taking away some of the favourite things of 2E vets like myself, it did address many issues, combined all the aspects of SR (Magic, combat, driving, hacking) into the one system seamlessly and updated the cyberpunk vision from 80's based cyber to a better extrapolation of modern technology.

Originally I was sceptical of the 20th anniversary edition, but once I picked up the hardcopy I fell in love. It's incredible production values, numerous errata fixes and excellent new fiction are all selling points and all fully translate to this fully bookmarked pdf. This is the new rulebook for our SR group and not a single member has regretted purchasing the PDF.

It also features a full index that spans across all supplementary products.

At $15 this is a real bargain.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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