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Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares $4.95
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
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Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
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Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Peter H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/24/2014 09:14:56

This short piece gives an overview of the electronic drugs of the Sixth World with a very brief set of rules for long term drug use and the consequences. While the informational part is nicely written - from the perspective of an ex-and-now-again-addict - the rules are sparse and not really that much. In conclusion: Good background info, not much game value. Surely nice to flesh out a part of the Sixth World but not necessary to keep running.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 12/26/2013 22:00:57

Sim Dreams & Nightmares is a brief guide to the use and abuse of sim sense technology in the Shadowrun setting. Sim Sense and BTL (Better Than Life) chips, and the addiction caused by them, are a major part of the Shadowrun setting so, good to see them get some more detail. However, this product does not provide nearly enough mechanical information, rather just enough for an overview, which may be enough for most games but it creates more questions than it answers.

Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares, is a short piece on sim sense and related technologies (Better Than Life -BTL- chips, moodchips, personasofts) and their place in the Sixth World of Shadowrun. While made for the 4th edition, the background information remains applicable to the setting and the limited additional rules should be easily convertible to 5th.

The discussions of sim sense and its uses (“opiate of the masses”) are interesting. But the really interesting chips are moodchips (choose your emotion) and personasofts (act like someone else with skills to match) and they are not given enough information to properly integrate them into a game as their mechanical effects and limits are not even discussed and they have so much potential as plot hooks and in game devices.

Additional mechanics for addiction as well as new sim and addiction related edges and flaws complete the product along with a complete list of addictive substances (including skillwires now) in Shadowrun along with prices for various sorts of sim programs.

The subject really deserves more space and clearer rules though it does do a good job of providing an insetting look at sim sense, it is lacking the mechanics to back them up properly.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Kent C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/03/2013 14:22:30

Well worth the purchase. Brings in a whole new light on the BTL and matrix addiction life.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/02/2013 00:04:04

‘Sim Dreams and Nightmares’ essentially has enough content to stand on its’ own as a product. It will be interesting though, to see what other like titles are eventually bundled together for this years’ ‘Runners Black Book’. I mention this as Sim Dreams reads very much like a chapter in a much larger sourcebook. The writing is generally clean and concise, and the approach taken in the JackPoint conversation is a very clever one. The JackPoint posts add a lot of value to the mechanical and story information by showing how this industry is viewed by Sixth world inhabitants. Additionally, it alludes to other occurrences within the metaplot, but does so in a way that would not confuse a newer reader.

I do say ‘generally clean and concise’ as there are still the consistent typographic errors that have become the hallmark of Catalyst products. I do wonder if digital publishing has lowered editorial standards for some companies as they can simply release a ‘corrected’ version if enough people complain. Spelling errors are something that I don’t recall seeing very often when I was buying my SR books exclusively in print (from FASA). This has been a problem for well over a year and it does need some attention - I'd add a star to my review rating in a heartbeat if more attention to detail had been paid.

The front cover art is fantastic; the designer should be commended for this choice as it so perfectly captures the simultaneous appeal of Simsense and its’ contrasting systemic social problems. Again, a very clever choice.

The book is 17 pages long and covers simsense, BTL, moodchips and personasofts (this last one giving you all the tools you need to run ‘Dollhouse’ as a Shadowrun game). Each is given a thorough discussion, as well as an in-world rationale for their use. Shadowrun has always excelled at internal consistency, and this book is another prime example of how to do this well. The last few pages dwell on the mechanics behind Simsense, such as some new Qualities, rules for weaning off Addictions and a table which summarises all of the Simsense with their Addiction Ratings and Thresholds, and a price list at the end.

This is a well-developed discussion of Simsense in the Sixth World, and this will be valuable to both GMs and players alike. Many modules deal with Simsense stars, the effect chips have on NPCs, and even Simsense in sporting events. Reading through this will give GMs in particular a much better handle on how to weave this industry into the game credibly, and even offer some hard choices to player-characters.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2013 08:10:09

Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/03/18/tabletop-review-shadowrun-sim-dreams-nightmares/

I have to admit, five bucks for only seventeen pages of content is a little bit exorbitant, especially for a throwaway fluff piece like Sim Dreams & Nightmares. That alone would generally prevent me from giving something a recommendation, but three things saved the latest PDF supplement for Shadowrun. The first is that the piece is extremely well written. Sim Dreams & Nightmares is a fun read, and highlights an aspect of the Sixth World we don’t always think about – Sim abuse. The second is that the piece has some very nice full colour art attached to it, which is part of the high price tag. The third is that, although only eighteen percent of the PDF is actual game mechanics, what’s here can be really helpful if you have anyone in your troupe that wants to play a drug addict.

Sim Dreams & Nightmares contains two one page pieces of fiction that highlight how real Sims can be and the trouble they can cause. Poor, poor Bull. The bulk of the PDF, however, is a Jackpoint discussion on Simsense, BTL, skillwires, Personafixes and the like that a Metahuman can become addicted to with time. Case in point is Turbo Bunny, who leads this Jackpoint discussion. We all know she hops on and off the wagon like her vehicle of choice is an Awakened pogo stick, but it was nice to see a frank discussion of this side of the Sixth World led by someone who knows it all too well.

Although discussing drug abuse is undoubtedly a very dark topic, Sim Dreams & Nightmares is a surprisingly amusing piece, complete with running gags like Ecotrope having a massive (deserved) beef with Turbo Bunny, or /dev/grrl’s obsession with a sheep comment. It’s good to inject some humour into this piece, but it’s also good that it never becomes a total farce.

Mechanics-wise, you get three and a half pages on how to run addiction via dice rolling instead of just role-playing it out. There are five new negative qualities you get pick up for your character, along with a single positive quality. These qualities range from a generic addition to various drugs to no longer being able to feel a specific emotion, or even losing your original personality due to massive BTL/Sim/etc usage. A good roleplayer can definitely make use of these, although amnesiac protagonist is one of the biggest clichés there is in RPGs. The optional rules for addiction and how to get clean are quite interesting and well written, but I’m not quite sure how much use they will get. This is partly because you don’t see a lot of gamers who play addicts, and partly because the rules are in a throwaway PDF when we’re only a few months off from a completely new edition of Shadowrun. So the chance of these rules seeing play in too many campaigns isn’t very good, unless they end up doing a Shadowrun Missions where one of the PC’s gets addicted to something temporarily. Even then, the new season of Shadowrun Missions will be using the new edition rule set, so again, it’s not bloody likely these addiction and withdrawal/staying clean rules will see the light of day after this PDF.

Finally, the PDF gives you a full page of various drugs along with their new Addiction Rating and Addiction Threshold for easy access, along with half a page of prices and availability for Sim related products. Again, this is a fine idea, but it’s a bit odd to release new rules supplements so close to the release of 5e. Still, only a portion of fans move over to a new edition once it is released, so for those planning to stick to Fourth Edition/20AE, it’s good to know Catalyst is still supporting the system even in its last days.

All in all, Sim Dreams and Nightmares is well written, but it’s definitely overpriced for what you get. The good news is that if you do decide to pick it up, you get a smattering of great fiction set in the Sixth World, along with some potentially useful mechanics for addiction. The bad news is that if you’re planning to jettison 4e for the upcoming Fifth Edition of Shadowrun, what’s here won’t be of any use to you, unless you’re looking for an highly overpriced set of three short stories and some potentially outdated mechanics.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/15/2013 11:35:21

Sweeping you straight in with pages seemingly ripped straight from undernet social media/discussion sites and a spot of fiction thrown in, this is a detailed explanation of what 'simsense' is all about in the Sixth World. If you think video games, particularly first person shooters, are addictive and sweep you in making you feel as if you actually are in whatever scene is being depicted, just imagine something about a thousand times more realistic, and that's simsense.

There are all manner of virtual experiences to be had, from mood-influencing through violence or sexual encounters, just about anything that you can imagine. Of course there are useful ones. Think of it like e-learning taken to an extreme, for you can use the technology to acquire instant mastery of a skill that you do not have, without the need to study or train. When you unslot the chip, these ersatz memories disappear, of course... but some poor souls think that they still have those skills, or worse ones from an immersive entertainment chip, and end up trying to do something they cannot do and coming to grief, often spectactularly, in the process. Thought you could climb down the outside of a building? Or could hold your own in a firefight? Or snipe from concealment and take down someone well-guarded?

It's scary, and the way in which it is presented makes it become real, possibly even beyond the confines of the Shadowrun ruleset. If this technology did exist, and it's easy to imagine, people would use it. Heck, most role-players would love it. And tragedies would ensue, and not just for the weak-minded. These are insiduous... An excellent read, thought-provoking source material. Be careful what you slot, chummer.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Sim Dreams & Nightmares
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2013 11:08:30

Review also appeared on the author's deviantart (http://canray.deviantart.com/journal/So-what-have-I-been-up-to-359384984) and www.dumpshock.com.

Okay, so let's start with the title image. The image not only looks sweet, it also hammers home the topic of the file. It shows off, but not with seminude babes (which bore me by now, more than anything else) but with hilarious simsense Johnny Spinrad-esque orc versus RL ork bum. The interior art also is quite impressive. AAS is fast becoming THE artist for Shadowrun in this era, much like Mike Jackson and Geier were in early SR. Not that the others are shabby, but he gets the feel I want Shadowrun to have best, I think. And all the detail that's speaking to dedicated fanboys like me.

The opening story is fantastic and pretty much ... well, it deals with the one thing that defined SimSense craziness for me, early on, back when 2E was new and I had just spent two weeks' worth of pocket money on 2XS. It's just a throwaway sentence in that book, and yet it has stayed with me through all these years. This story is the story of that sentence. And it's written in a way, with tone and flavor, that is worthy of Nigel Findley.

Generally, this details the SimSense and BTL usage as I have done for myself, which I of course like. I'm probably biased here, but I think that's a logical expansion on what has been written, and especially the therapeutic SimSense used to 'resocialise' criminals and addicts I have already used, as a private expansion on what SimSense can do. Also, CGL, you totally owe me brain bleach for Hannibelle's comment on snuff beetles.

As aways with Croteau's writing, it's the little details that get me. Victor Vigilante, the intro-fic referencing that one half-sentence from 2XS, the sheep. Hell, I'd pay if he wrote a "runs gone bad" PDF! I feel that, among the current writers, he is among those who most "get" Shadowrun as I love it (and kudos for the Molly Millions shout-out). Also, he's so far the only author whose /dev/grrl writeups make me actually kinda like her. AAS' fantastic art full of inside jokes (Neill!) is the icing on this delicious epub cake. Old Art has seen re-use too, but thoughtfully; the Bunraku pic is among the best Chernik did for SR, and the down-and-out junkie is the weakest art but at least fits in thematically.

The addiction qualities are varied, reasonably balanced, and flavorful. I know a character who has two of them out of hand, and I certainly will use them as soon as I can. That's what the system has been missing, far more than yet another combat rifle, stats for great dragons or Charm of Nurgle, the spell. As with the additional lifestyle qualities of Safehouses, this adds flavor instead of more items of +2. The new addiction list and the simsense-based drugs price list also add to the game, I think.

Some small dark spots cannot be ignored, though they're a wide trend with CGL products. There are typos, more than one, and sometimes glaring. Proofing apparently wasn't effective enough. Neither was editing, some sentences look positively mangled. If editing even happened, this looks a bit like handed in close or slightly over deadline and just handed down to layout for production without any editing happening because a bad product still sells, while editing takes time that could be put to use making more sub-standard product instead.

9/10, with one point below perfect for the nonexistent editing and bad post-writing treatment CGL seems to consider business standard by now. I rounded up for the local review because, well, it's still damn good.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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