Shadowrun: Collapsing Now is a sourcebook, specifically a “Runners Resource Book” for the Sixth World Edition of Shadowrun covering a variety of groups that shadowrunner might work for or against. It suffers from a lack of direction and uncertainty if it is a player or GM facing work. For the lore and background information, worth picking up for Shadowrun Games Masters, but not an immediate must have unless you are featuring one of the highlighted groups in your campaign.
Shadowrun: Collapsing Now, is a Runner Resource Book for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, providing a look at some of the groups that shadowrunners might work with, for or against.
It begins with an introduction, as expected, which is actual rather useful in explain the purpose and organization of the book, well done. One of the ubiquitous fiction sections follows before we get into the meat of the book, the ten organizations. Each of the organization sections ends with statistics for operatives for that group and sometimes other things too.
Starting with the Freedom Network, a European (specifically Dutch) originated set of groups with a shared anti-magic/anti-technomancer agenda, running from a respected think tank down to thugs on the ground. It is, in many ways, the Alt-Right mapped to the Shadowrun world but with an anti-magic stance alongside the nationalism. Includes references to, but no rules for, advanced counter magic and anti-technolmancer tricks this group has access to.
Next up, Greenwar, everyone’s favorite eco-terrorists, and their ties to the greater ecological movement. It is an interesting chapter that explains some about Greenwar’s methods and aims and a rouge sketch of their organization with much implied but little explicit about the leadership there of. Included with the Greenwar NPCs are new, unpleasant weapons like the acid thrower and spore grenade which are signature weapons of the group.
Grey Cell is next, it is an interesting group, well financed and deeply informed, with access to elite operatives, cutting edge technologies and magics and dedicated to quashing magical threats. Intriguing and . . . totally out of place to my view of Shadowrun. They are heroes, their operatives are Professional Rating 8 (special forces level) and they are probably backed by a dragon. Who needs the player characters to save the world when you have Grey Cell? It is a fun idea after a fashion but just does not fit in my view of the Shadowrun cyberpunkish dystopia.
Halberstam’s Brain is pure creepshow, a crazed AI (more or less) and a genius toxic shaman are harvesting human brains and using them for processing power and torture, which they call research. They are both evil and have even more evil plans for the future. They must be stopped, which make them excellent villains. Very good support for the horror side of Shadowrun which is a rarely used sub-theme. A new adept power (Improved Mental Attribute) is included.
The Monads are next, leftovers of the big metaplot threat of the last edition, which I had my problems with (overwriting character’s personalities does not usually make for a fun play experience). Where to find the holdouts that are still around and what sorts of tricks they have, interesting powers but dangerous. GM will have to be careful how they use monads for the reason noted above and the fact that they can totally screw over tech-based characters with very little effort.
Ordo Maximus follows, turning back to the magic side of things, the Ordo is a secret society of the right and wealthy masking an inner circle composed of those infected with the vampiric virus in all its happy variants. It talks a little about the organization of the Ordo, some of its projects and an actual section on advice on using the Ordo in a campaign. The Ordo is interesting, but we already have the Megacorps, the Black Lodge, the Dragons, Immortal Elves and the Tirs, various governments, the space for conspiracies is getting awfully crowded . . .
The Sea Dragon rears her head next. Moving from being a background character to a major player, if not the major player in North America, this section helps to explain how that happened without anyone noticing, which I find highly suspect. Apart from that, a valuable resource on what resources The Sea Dragon brings to bear on problems, which you should avoid becoming one of.
Why do shadowrunners not form a union? The Shadow Chapters section tries to answer that question and the people trying to change that equation. Given the ways I have seen shadowrunners portrayed over the year, such a task seems Sisyphean at best and this section does little to change my opinion of that.
There is a megacorporation among law firms, Stark, Theissen and Van der Mer, and they are given some coverage here (they also figured heavily in the 5th edition adventure Toxic Alleys), a bit more about the founders of the firm and how they became so powerful and who they work for. There are some implied jobs but mostly just information.
And ending the book, is the Yakuza, with a discussion of their manners, methods and history. The Yakuza of the Sixth World rose in power along with the Japanese Imperial States and the Japanese Megacorps, but somehow they remain powerful while being extremely limited in their recruitment, primarily only recruiting male, non-metahumans of Japanese origin for the higher ranks (and -to a lesser extent- at all). Except for BTLs and a little over a page on what the Yakuza are doing in various parts of the Sixth World, there is little here you could not get on any other source on the Yakuza. This section could really have benefited from some Yakuza specific plot hooks and advice on playing ex-Yakuza characters.
As is sadly usual, there is no index. It is an interesting book, containing a lot of interesting information on the Sixth World but I am not sure who this book is aimed at, the information in general is aimed at Shadowrunner but there is also information that is obviously directed at Games Masters and should not be available to players . . . Ultimately, it needed more support for both sides, more information on playing campaigns centered around these various factions and more support for the GM to be able to do so.
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[3 of 5 Stars!]