'Parabotany' is one of those brilliant, gazetteer-style sourcebooks which has a bit of information for everyone and is a pleasure to sit down and read. It does a great service in fleshing out the Shadowrun setting a little more, and moves away from the very traditional topics of sprawls, magic and guns.
In this short work (50 pages), you'll find an impressive list of plants ranging from the Awakened, to the Blighted (those with a toxic background), Mutant (like Dropping Pines and Walking Banana Trees) and those engineered by various corporations. The tumbleweed on the front cover is included, and should make your smuggler or rigger more than a little wary of the open highways. There is a brief overview on the state of food, which is worth thinking about for any GM wanting to breathe a bit more life into the setting. On this note, you'll also find the few pages dedicated to alcoholic beverages useful for your next set-piece bar or club scene.
Near the back of the book as well is a great tie-in to a classic Second Edition book. Here you'll find updates on all of the botanical sections of Dunkelzahn's will, with the various players positioning themselves to claim some of the dragon's hoard. There are a wealth of ideas for potential runs in the section alone.
It took a few readings before I started to really appreciate this book, which is why I have moved my rating from 3 to 4 stars. Initially I viewed it as a curiosity piece, and at the price it seemed very reasonable. It seemed like the sort of supplement which would offer a few oddments to spice up games before finally fading into the background of my digital shelf.
However, that isn't so. Looking over the plants, you can see a range of challenging non-standard security measures; potential wares for talismongers, adepts, mages and shamans; and plot hooks for a dozen and one runs. This does add a lot of flavour to any Awakened character and should be read as both a player and GM resource. For these reasons, I'd highly recommend not only buying a copy, but reading it a few times over and letting the inspiration slowly seep into your brain.
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