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Shadowrun: Cutting Black (Plot Sourcebook) $22.99
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Shadowrun: Cutting Black (Plot Sourcebook)
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Shadowrun: Cutting Black (Plot Sourcebook)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/09/2020 14:14:57

Shadowrun: Cutting Black is a sourcebook for Shadowrun and lets you know how and where the metaplot is going with the Sixth World edition of the setting. It is mostly written in an engaging “what is happening?” style gathering fragmented information and shaping it into something coherent. It is almost all primary “in world” data with no authorial analysis, so you only get to see what the people involved can see with no explanations or looks behind the curtain. If you like that sort of sourcebook, it is a fun ride. I have some issues (placed at the end of the review to avoid spoilers) but I found it an engaging read.

Shadowrun: Cutting Black, is a Plot Sourcebook for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, this particular book provides an overview of what changed in the world as the editions rolled from 5th to 6th. Spoilers ahead so stop reading the review here if you want to experience them first hand

The material in this product is presented as an in game artefact of information, which is interesting, if disjointed, presented with information scattered and covering weeks of actual time as it was reported on the shadow boards. The information gathered from fragmentary news reports, first hand data being broadcast and other scraps of data that could be dug up.

Following an introduction, laying out the theme of the book, as is traditional, there is one of the ubiquitous fiction sections and then another, shorter one, leading into Ruptured Detroit. Long story short, Damien Knight and Ares brought all the toys to stomp a massive bug hive under Detroit and it did not go so well. Ares losses were huge, Knight is gone and Detroit turned into a battle ground between bugs and people and mixes of the two. This event is the catalyst for the rest of the events that follow.

Next section, Ghost Army, the UCAS mobilizes and sends a major force to intervene in Detroit and it just vanished. Roughly one hundred thousand soldiers and their equipment (and the area they were passing through) just gone. No explanation given but some very evocative stories from investigating where the army vanished from.

Next section, Blackout, which details the UCAS Government’s response, including abridging the Business Recognition Accords that gives the megacorporations such power. Then cities start going dark, all power and technological systems failing, the cause: unknown. But it causes havoc throughout the UCAS and only the UCAS.

A long fiction section leads to UchrASh which details further bad things happening to the UCAS, invasions from Quebec and some of the NAN states, which are not very successful by cause more troubles. Chaos erupting among the political classes in DeeCee and drumroll please St. Louis and Seattle breaking away from the UCAS to become free(ish) cities.

Detroit Now looks at what the current state of play is in Detroit, who has power, what kinds of opportunities are there to make money and what survived the bugs and the bombs. A great resource for Detroit after the disaster.

Next Atlanta, somewhere outside the UCAS!, gets an update in Atlanta Now! A short section bringing Atlanta up to date and its new status as the home to Ares Macrotechnology. But nice to see the CAS getting some time.

As the Dust Settles looks at some events outside of the UCAS even: the fall of the UK’s New Druidic Movement government and what replaced it, problems in the NAN and Quebec, and a little more.

The last page of the book is the only new game information with Sixth World stats for insect spirits. However, without support material, they are not very useful in and of themselves. No index.

Cutting Black is an interesting read but the lack of actual, well, information on what is happening (rather than just the in-game perspective on it) is deeply frustrating for a GM. Yes, it is a new edition, the Game Designers want to shake things up and tease new secrets to reveal later. I get it. But it makes it far less useful as a resource than it could be. Worse, from the perspective of me as a GM and my Shadowrun game (and I suspect for other long running SR campaigns), it makes a set of big, setting changing moves in the Metaplot . . . that cut across how my Shadowrun campaign has been developing the setting. I have a deep and abiding hatred of major changes made to the setting without involving the people who actually play and GM the game. And the changes here are significant enough that I either have to totally change my campaign or part ways with the new metaplot. As the new metaplot as presented in the book is rife with major actors taking stupid pills, unexplained choices, continued privileging of magic and dragons over megacorporations and technology and other sheer absurdities, I know which I am path I am following. So, while this book was an interesting read, it has almost no use to me as a Shadowrun sourcebook.

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



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Cutting Black (Plot Sourcebook)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/20/2020 02:08:31

I really like the shadowrun setting and eagerly devour everything from this product line but I was kinda dissapointed with this book. It backed away from doing anything new and interesting, the biggest plot point in this book is basically a rehash of Chicago's plot. Chicago's plot wasn't bad per se, but it has been part of the setting for a decade now and I was hoping for something new. They flirted with big changes in the UCAS section, but then backed off. rreally the only significant developments could be made in a bullet point list with maybe a page of explanation split between all of them. So while this book promises big changes to the SR world, the actuall changes are pretty minor.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Cutting Black (Plot Sourcebook)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Zhivko Y. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/21/2020 11:54:39

This book is pretty much what Storm Front was for 4th edition - a wrap-up of some storylines from 5th edition and a setup for 6th edition. It would be logically better suited to be part of the 5th edition line, but a user somewhwere mentioned that the book was delayed, which is why it is coming up now. Being a plot book, it has minimum crunch, so don't have high expectations. The book could have gone through another editing pass as there are a few irritating things here and there, but it is fine when compared to recent Shadowrun releases.

My biggest issue with the book is structure, as a major event that is part of the first major story arc ("Detroit Rupture") is sent to its own chapter ("Ghost Army") after that arc wraps up, which makes the story confusing at first reading. Given that this separate chapter is a) not very good and b) relatively short, I really don't see the point why it wasn't simply inserted within the main story arc. Another issue I have is that the first story arc is repetitive (read: Chicago all over again, but at a lower scale). The resolution is still better, presented in the "Detroit Now" chapter, and I enjoyed reading that one. "Blackout" felt somewhat protracted and not terribly captivating. Still, since it sets up the next chapter, I guess it was necessary.

So here is the really good bit - the "UCrASh" chapter. It is probably the best one in the book and makes this book worth it. It brings a lot of changes to the metaplot (and national borders, though nothing world shattering) and it sets up a lot of future books and story hooks, as well as wraps some of those (hint: Seattle). There is also a new big player in global politics, only hinted in previous books, which was a pleasant surprise. The two follow-up sections, "Detroit Now" and "Atlanta Now" are also very good, and also provide a lot of potential storylines. "As the Dust Settles" is a good chapter, but I wished it was much bigger, as it finally deals with some parts of the world that haven't seen a lot of attention, like the UK, the Algonkian-Manitou Council and Quebec.

All in all, I gave the book 4 stars mostly because of the UCAS chapter and the two follow-ups. Still, it could have been much better. I bought it at full price because I guess I am too impatient, but if you are not terribly eager to catch up with the latest metaplot developments, you can wait for a discount. I don't believe it is a waste of your money, but again, it could have been much, much better.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Cutting Black (Plot Sourcebook)
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
by Allegra V. R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/20/2020 20:35:00

I recommend waiting for a sale or leaving it be. The plot developments themselves are good to know, but clearly do not take up the 178 pages in this book, what with all the dilly-dallying the authors did in the first few sections. Later parts of the book are good, so it's kind of a pain that it starts rough.

The "Detroit Rupture" section itself is just what the jackpointers keep saying it is- Bug City all over again. The fallout from the events is more interesting, but I think too much time was spent on the event itself (Which was pretty much just a Bug City/Boston CFD rehash).

The next section, "Ghost Army," is dialogue focused. Unfortunately, the dialogue's not that great, unless you enjoy killer lines like "Bravon wun tree this foxtrot Zulu wun wun." The reader can infer that they're using the NATO phonetic alphabet for military radio chatter, there's no need to show the dialect. Personal dislike of mine, I don't like when people write things like "runnin" or "gotta" in dialogue, either. It becomes distraction, rather than enhancing the reader experience. It also feels a lot less authentic when later on they say "Sitrep is red, repeat red." I don't really expect perfection in military lingo, but saying repeat on the radio means you want to repeat the last barrage of artillery fire. It doesn't mean the english meaning. It just bothered me that the author went to the effort of getting the authentic pronounciation of the NATO alphabet/numbers, and kept throwing in things like "fubar" for the sake of it, but still made easy mistakes like that. Honestly, the level of forced military lingo in the rest of the section makes it almost comical- I don't mind over the top, but there's no substance to the characters beyond the fact that they use military lingo.

No major complaints about the Blackout section, but kind of boring to read. Possibly my fault, since I listened to the SCN podcasts and I loved those a lot.

I liked the UCrASh section quite a bit- a lot of places got love that normally wouldn't. The Seattle independence has been a long time coming.

Detroit Now and Atlanta Now were also well written, and "As the Dust Settles" was useful for folks who got bored during the first few sections of the book, but wanted to know what happened.

It's a little odd that a "chiark" (Cheetah-shark?) monster was introduced in "Ghost Army," but not placed in Game Information. There was plenty of white space available for a stat block.

One thing I noticed is that there isn't really all that much art in the book, which is fine for a plot book, but it made the boring sections worse. (I'd also rather them have less art, than hire more artists and not pay them. So there's that.) There's also lots of typos- things that a spellchecker won't catch, but a human editor would ("All most", "Bravon", etc). Some weird grammatical things, too. "Saeder-Krupp controls the rest of the building, renting out half of it. Everything else is rented." So, half of it is rented, and the rest is rented? Par the course for the SR line, but this stuff is still annoying.

Edit: Revising to 4/5, Dani made a good point, and it was only a small chapter of the book. Def won't go to 5/5 though, because of the editing issues and other issues in the book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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