Shadowrun: Shadow Cast is a runner resource book, providing character ideas and suggestions for ways to use the characters providing both roleplaying suggestions and adventure seeds. It is a useful resource book for both players and game masters and a fun read but not a vital addition to your Shadowrun library.
Shadowrun: Shadow Cast is a Runner Resource Book for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, providing a variety, that is twenty, character archetypes, allowing for a wide set of ideas and options for players (and Game Masters as well) to explore different sections of the Sixth World and the people who live there.
It begins with an introduction, then the required fiction piece, and then onto the archetypes of which there are twenty covering a wide variety of character types, some magic, some tech, combat and social oriented, something for everyone.
Each is organized with an introduction to the archetype, several variations on the theme (listed under backgrounds), a set of plot hooks and adventure ideas, and most have a quality path (or two) that tie into the archetypes and lastly, some roleplaying advice for the archetype.
Quality paths were first introduced in the Sixth World Companion and are a chain of qualities that are opened, or reduced in price as the case may be, by certain actions taken by the characters. In some cases, the paths have negative qualities included that provide points that can only be used to buy positive qualities with the path. It is an interesting idea and I have yet to see it in play but the concept is solid. Many of these quality paths are opened up by specific adventures for the archetype.
I am not going to run through every archetype and critique it, that way lies madness, but I will make some general comments:
>While aspects of builds (minimum attributes, skills, qualities) are suggested, the way to get to them through the priority system for character builds (the default system for character creation) is not suggested.
>As this is explicitly a sourcebook for player characters it normalizes the playing infected (i.e. vampire) and blood-magic using player characters. Both of which are . . . problematic at best. The infected character must literally destructively feed on other members of metahumanity which the blood magician has to inflict pain and death on the same to fuel their magic. Is this the sort of thing that we should be encouraging? Yes, Shadowrunners are, by definition criminals partly that is because the system is corrupt, but they do not have to be sadistic murderers as well adding to the misery.
?It brings back one of the most unique archetypes, the burned-out mage, the magic user who has been seduced (or forced) down the road of cyber-replacement and implanted technology.
The book ends with four pages wasted advertising Mug Book, a deck of Shadowrun NPCs and showing six character cards whose achetypes are drawn from the Shadow Cast list. And a two-page index to all of the qualities and quality paths published so far and where to find them which is actually helpful.
Overall, a useful book for character inspiration and to be commended for its roleplaying suggestion and wealth of adventure seeds and plot hooks. But not for its normalization of infected and blood magic users as acceptable character types.
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