Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2013/07/15/tabletop-review-shadowrun-fifth-edition-quick-start-rules/
What can I say? While I’m knee deep into my review of Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, it’s easier to churn out a quick review of the new Quick Start Rules for the game. Think of it as a starter to the main course. So why should you care about the Quick Start Rules when you can just get the big honking 400 page Fifth Edition Core Rulebook? Well, there are lots of reasons. The first is that the QSR PDF is free, while the Core Rulebook costs money. This way, you can get a glimpse of the changes to the game and decide if you want to sink money into a new edition or stick with an older one like 2e or 20AE. The second reason is that with the QSR, you can get an overview of the rules and jump into an adventure with one of the premade characters it contains. That way, if you have chummers who are long time vets of the Sixth World and you’re a relative newcomer, you can use this to have a basic grasp of the game and join in the fun rather than sit out wondering why your pals get together with torn up sheets with a bunch of scrawled statistics on them and hucking a massive load of dice around a table.
So why care about these new Quick Start Rules when CGL just released a Free RPG Day 2013 set along with Battletech: A Time of War QSRs on the flip side of the booklet? Well, that’s a good question. If you picked up the Free RPG Day 2013 set, you’ll find that it’s mostly the same thing. The Free RPG Day 2013 set had 35 pages, while this new QSR only has 31, so obviously something has changed. What’s changed is primarily the layout, font, a TINY bit of wording, and some new sideboards. I really prefer the layout and style of this new set of QSR, although I do find it odd that we have two sets of the them coming out a month apart from each other with wildly different styles.
Like the Free RPG Day 2013 version, this set of QSR comes complete with an adventure entitled Fast Food Fight, which gives players a chance to use one of the included pregenerated characters and slag it out in a McHughs eatery with a few antagonists. The adventure is throwaway filler to be sure, but it’s a great way to experience the mechanics of combat in Shadowrun first hand. The adventure is forgettable but fun, and it does its job of making a very deep and complex game easy enough for a brand new gamer to get into and comprehend the basics of how things work and what to roll when and why.
One tiny change worth nothing that makes this version of the QSR so much better than last month’s physical release is this version has a DECKER! DECKER DECKER DECKER DECKER DECKER! Not a HACKER, but a DECKER. Sorry about that, but it had to be said. It’s great to see the return of the term and character type, as it is such an iconic part of the game. I also think the art in this new set of QSR is massively improved over the Free RPG Day 2013 set. Especially the Street Shaman. There is some great art in here, and it’s a great example of the pretty pictures you see in 5e should you choose to purchase the core rulebook.
About my only complaint with the QSR is that there aren’t any rules for character creation in it. Most QSR sets including character creation rules. We’ve seen this with everything from Tunnels and Trolls to Call of Cthulhu or Vampire: The Requiem. This is mainly because the rules for a lot of other games, both character creation and gameplay-wise, are simpler and easier to cut through than Shadowrun. Shadowrun isn’t RIFTS level complicated, but even with the new streamlined character creation rules for 5e, there’s no way to have done an accurate character creation set of rules for the game without increasing the page count big time. So, although I’d love to see that in a set of Shadowrun QSRs, it’s not going to happen unless you do first or second edition rules, and what’s the point in that?
All in all, the latest set of Shadowrun Quick Start Rules are by far the best in a long time and well worth picking up. I really do feel Fifth Edition Shadowrun is a huge improvement over 20AE, and the entire system feels like a blend of the best both Second and Fourth Editions had to offer. If you’ve ever been interested in trying the tabletop version of Shadowrun, now is the time to do it. Grab the Quick Start Rules and, if you like what you see, buy the core rulebook and start ‘running!