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Shadowrun: Stolen Souls
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2014 13:34:12
I agree whole hearted with the above reviewer. I got this book hoping for a long running campaign source for New York. Nothing of real use to GMs. Save your money, even on sale it was a waste.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Stolen Souls
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Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
by Joanna N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2014 16:35:33
I feel like I might be too easy on this book, because on the one hand it's brimming with potential. The fluff is good and the package, on a superficial level, looks good. Certain sections read just fine, such as the write-up on traditions. But once you get into the technical sections, the layout quickly becomes difficult to follow with way too many haphazardly placed side boxes that don't read well in pdf format. And that isn't the only problem.

This still a major supplement for any magic user. THE magic supplement of 5th edition, this edition's Street Magic in scope. There are a number of adept powers that are extremely desireable, including the new Elemental Body power. Understanding alchemy with the core book alone makes it difficult to imagine the possibilities, but here, you have a much fuller picture of what you can do with the enchanting skill group. The spirit write-up fleshes out the rules for summoning that are barely touched upon otherwise. There's a lot of roleplay inspiration for Initiation that I find handy for visualization purposes. Plus, on the GM side of things, you get more toxic magic and rituals to build your team of ultimate magic baddies to challenge your runners with.

But for all the good that this book does for character options, world building and RP, it suffers in the technical department and some sections are virtually useless. Drain codes for magician spells are all over the place, hardly worth the time to obtain in many cases. There's no rhyme or reason to it, especially compared to the core book. A lot of spells are very questionable in their usefulness, are drain-heavy and are full of mistakes regarding their designation as a mana or physical spell. The adept powers, metamagics and ways are full of missing prerequisites and are a victim of some of the worst layout in this book with no easy way to reference the different sections that apply to them. There are literally at least three sections where Ways appear with no page references between them. Nearly everything is also overcosted, much like the rest of this book. And some powers are just terrible in their cost-to-effectiveness ratio, like Blind Fighting. Some even badly contradict the powers that were present in Stolen Souls, with completely different effects and costs.

For an instance of poor rule clarity, Elemental Strike/Weapon vs Elemental Body. While Elemental Body is a new power and thus is fairly explicit about how it works, Elemental Strike does't really tell you anything about what it does beyond adding an elemental effect for a certain duration. To what degree? Does it boost AP and DV in any way because of the power stacking restrictions? There is so much guesswork that needs to be applied here to figure out just how to work this power into a game.

Honestly, I like having this pdf on hand because I came into the game in 5th edition and therefore the fluff gives me a huge amount of inspiration and insight for using magic in the 6th World. I don't have the kind of knowledge base that 4th edition players might already have from Street Magic. I think this book is more informative than some people give it credit for. But the errors are absolutely glaring and the release probably should have been withheld for at least another month. However, I did see the apology from Hardy about the state of this book and that errata will be forthcoming. Some of the errata has been incorporated just in time for GenCon, though most of it is in regards to the core book and Run&Gun due to them being legal books for GenCon usage. If this book has the spells and adept section revised, this could be a really great product. I don't even care about the spelling and grammar issues really. I just want the Ways and the powers to be useful and comparatively costed to the core.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
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Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
by The H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2014 21:57:04
I'm not a reader of the Valiant comics, but I have to appreciate just how comprehensive the Valiant content is in this game. There's an exhaustive supply of character profiles, writeups for them and major organizations, as well as a slew of ready-made adventures (Event Briefs) to play. Valiant fans will get a ton of mileage out of this one.

Unfortunately, the best part about Valiant Universe is also its greatest flaw. There's a lot of setting information. Too much, in fact. At least, it seems that way...but the ruleset the game runs on (based on Cosmic Patrol) is so sparse in certain places that it feels like a flimsy framework to base games on. I can deal with rules-lite, narrative games that rely on a little handwaving to move things along, and I always expect them to run better with the right kind of group. However, this game doesn't focus on a single GM to keep things in order - it expects you to rotate between each member of the group to narrate the scene, relying on sparse Cues to guide the action. There's little to no insight on solving common problems that may occur beyond a simple "just make it up, I guess!" and for a game that expects players to act as GMs as well, that lack of codified guidance can put them on the spot.

But even beyond that, the rules feel sparse. The basic mechanic is simple enough but it feels like there's little to set characters apart from each other, especially in terms of their powers. Like Marvel Heroic, Valiant has you assign powers a die rating, but unlike that game, the rules don't seem to cover any special effects a power might have (which do tend to pop up in some of the character profiles). Marvel Heroic didn't exactly have clear-cut character generation rules for its special effects either, but at least there were a few options. The lack of them makes Valiant characters feel bland, most of their sheets being taken up by lists of visual and action Cues to add roleplaying.

The game is definitely rules-lite, but it's by no means cofidied like other rules-lite games. If it gave more narration guidance, maybe had optional rules to help make the rules feel more substantial, this game could've easily gotten four stars thanks to the wealth of Valiant content and Event Briefs, which are a good cheat-sheet of sort for GMs. As it stands, Marvel Heroic has more going for it than this game.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Michael D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2014 15:36:36
This book is an unadultered mess that has no right to exist. Virtually every rule is just a repeat of the worst parts of of earlier editions. Skills are a retread of 3rd edition's unreasonable bloat, Character Generation is a retread of 2nd editions unwieldy and under explained Priorities chart, and Combat actions is a retread of 1st edition's swingy Initiative roll system without even the courtesy of including the expanded 1st edition rules that made single shot weapons worthwhile. It's like it's systematically trying to undo every single step forward Shadowrun ever made.

What few new rules it introduces do nothing but shoot themselves in the foot. For example, Limits are equipment based caps to the number of successes your dice pools can give you and are are supposed to prevent under equipped nobodies from killing SWAT team members with only a few lucky rolls, but in practice the fact that your gear creates caps means that unarmed brawlers are infinitely deadlier than anyone who dared to make the mistake of buying a katana in a cyberpunk game. Honestly, if they were gonna pull this kind of crap, they should've just re-released the earlier editions in PDF format and kept printing 4th edition books for people who AREN'T horribly nostalgia blinded.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
by Steven L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2014 13:57:48
This is a rules-lite RPG based on the Valiant Universe series of comicbooks. As such it really has two main ingredients – the game rules themselves and the setting information.
The setting/sourcebook aspect of this book is where it really shines. Pages and pages are dedicated to characters, histories, organisations and other details that provide a rich environment for superhero roleplaying. I was largely unaware of the Valiant Universe before buying this book but will probably investigate further on the strength of what I have found here.
The problems start with the rules themselves, which take up only a small portion of the total page count. I have read and/or played a number of rules-lite superhero RPGs over the years, including Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul, BASH, Prowlers & Paragons and several others. Each has it's own strengths and weaknesses but all of them, in my opinion, do a better job of providing a complete and satisfying rules set than this game does. It is not so much rules-lite as rules-vague or even rules-incomplete. Most superhero RPGs will have rules or guidelines regarding things like equipment, mooks, gadgeteering, bases and vehicles. This game gives little or nothing on any of these subjects.
The book makes several mentions of what the rules do not cover or cannot simulate. It even admits to not being able to properly define the difference in power level from a reasonably average NPC to a powerful PC! When the rules aren't vague or completely missing, they are sometimes broken. The Luck stat is not well thought out and completely ignores the huge statistical advantage in having a low Luck score. It is possible, through character advancement, to spend points on a power and have it end up weaker than before! Rather than fix this in playtesting or give proper advice on the situation, players are advised to make up whatever rule they like. This is the game's stock response to the huge number of questions it fails to answer.
As a tie-in product that is likely to attract newcomers to the hobby, I understand the reasoning behind going for a rules-lite system. This, however, is not the way to do it. Players are encouraged to take it in turns GMing each scene but are provided with an ill-defined way to determine the outcome of those scenes that is wide open to interpretation. For an inexperienced group of players this is an argument waiting to happen.
The setting material here is very good and deserved a much better game engine than this. A poor effort.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
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Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
by Howard J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/27/2014 12:00:30
This product felt like a rough draft. There aren't as many spelling and grammar mistakes as you might think reading the other reviews, but they are still there. Many of the rules are unclear and could really have used some clarifying examples. There's also a distinct lack of an index or combined tables, which is a particular annoyance in the "Secrets of the Initiates" chapter. Here they give a number of magical arts where the first time a metamagic ability is mentioned it is described, but later arts that share the same metamagic ability don't have a page reference back to the original description. Even in the PDF where you have the ability to do a text search this is pointless annoyance, and probably a great deal worse if you have a print copy. Especially bad are the rules for adepts. Most of the text seems to have been composed using the adept power list from the fourth edition Street Magic supplement, meaning that there are frequent mentions of powers from that source book that didn't make it into this book or the SR5 core rules. Not so bad when it's basically just flavor text (Buddhist Adepts like to use the missing Living Focus power) but not as forgivable when you have a metamagic ability that has a missing power as a prerequisite. Then there what would be minor gripes individually but add up to a just bad experience put together: occasional subheadings listed at the same size and color as their parent headings, alphabetized lists with just one or two items out of order, multiple fonts that are hard to read at zoom levels where other PDFs are usually fine, listing powers for discount in the adept qualities that are too cheap to actually qualify for a discount and so on. And even if you find a new character option that seems to be free of glaring mistakes a lot of the time they just don't seem to be worth the listed time and karma cost.

On the plus side, the art is good and the fiction was fine if that's your thing for a source book. On the other hand it wasn't so good that I wouldn't have sacrificed a few or even all of those pages for an index, more examples and some combined tables.

Definitely not worth the current $24.99 PDF price.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
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Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/24/2014 07:47:33
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/07/24/tabletop-review-valiant-
-universe-the-roleplaying-game/

Well, it’s finally here. After four Quick Start Rules sets and a Free RPG Day 2014 release, the final version of Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game is finally available to all…in PDF form anyway. You’ll have to wait a few more months for the physical copy. I have to tell you I am more than a LITTLE tempted by that Red Leather X-O Manowar version.

If this is the first time you are hearing about the Valiant Universe RPG, then welcome! Yes, much like how Green Ronin has the DC Universe license and Evil Hat has the Atomic Robo license, Catalyst Game Labs has added Valiant’s cast of characters to its RPG collection. No you won’t be seeing a crossover with Battletech or Shadowrun any time soon, but you finally have the chance to play as all your favorite Valiant Universe characters like Shadowman, Ninjak, Sting (Not Steve Borden), Livewire and more. Even better, the system is extremely rules-lite which makes it very easy to learn. The Cue System, or the engine that powers Valiant Universe RPG is a huge paradigm shift for a CGL game. Usually their products are extremely mechanics heavy, with all sorts of little rules for everything. Not the Cue System. This really feels designed for newer or casual gamers, which makes sense as this will be the first tabletop RPG for a lot of Valiant fans. If anything the system is kind of a mix of Cortex, Savage Worlds and the old Marvel RPG from TSR that first made me fall in love with gaming all those years ago. Honestly, the system will probably be a bit of culture shock to CGL’s longtime fans since it’s so streamlined, but for a super hero oriented game, the Cue System is a great choice as it focuses more on imagination and co-operative storytelling than letting the dice do all the work.

Now, a couple quick notes. First, the game is not up to date with current Valiant continuity. This is because new issues come out every month and games take a LOOOOOONG time to make. So characters like Rai, Dr. Silk or the antagonists from Armor Hunters are not in here. You also won’t see recent story developments so Flamingo is still alive, Monica Jim isn’t a member of the Renegades, and so on. It’s also worth noting for older gamers like myself that this only covers the current Valiant universe. There is no mention of the original Jim Shooter or Akklaim versions that came before it, so if you were hoping to see stats for Magnus, Dr. Solar or Turok….nope. That’s not going to happen for a whole bunch of reasons. On this particular note it also is important to note that the writers of the Valiant Universe RPG only have read the current Valiant Universe and the stat blocks for characters reflect what they have seen and not necessarily what some long-time fans know these characters are capable of. So yes, Master Darque is extremely underpowered in his character sheet and is lacking the ability to create undead creatures or summon demons. Things like this will probably annoy the more anal-rententive fans of the current universe or people like myself who own a lot of old trades/issue runs from the original Valiant era, but it shouldn’t. It’s a game after all and if you can’t wait for new stat blocks for these characters to be released, you can always tweak them to your own liking. House rules and all that rot. The point I’m trying to make is that Valiant Universe: the Roleplaying Game is written by readers of the new universe FOR readers of the new universe and I think that was the smart way to go. It prevents references to characters who have yet to appear in the current Valiant continuity and probably never will, like Mothergod, The Visitor or Nettie. Maybe someday we’ll get a look at “Classic Valiant” as a supplement (I’ll write it up!), but for now the focus is purely o the current version of Valiant’s offerings and that’s the way I like it.

So, remember how earlier I mentioned how the Valiant Universe RPG is extremely rules lite? Well, out of the 210 pages in this PDF, only twenty pages are devoted to rules. I can’t think of any other major release that has that little in the way of rules! This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good is that this makes the rules easy to learn and memorize, but the bad side of it is that things can be a little too vague for gamers used to a lot of structure and mechanics, like Pathfinder or Dungeons & Dragons. So what else is in the book? Well, there are thirteen pages devoted to character creation. Yes, the character making rules are almost as long as the complete mechanics for the game. Now that’s different. This is mainly because character creation is pretty free form. We’ll take a look at that later. The bulk of the Valiant Universe RPG is about the comic continuity itself. Eighteen pages about the core nine comics, fourteen pages on various organizations and secret societies and a whopping EIGHTY-EIGHT pages devoted to Valiant characters. There are roughly three dozen major characters listed here, along with forty eight minor characters or NPCs to throw into your homebrew games. That’s pretty amazing. I can’t think of too many super hero RPGs that give you that many characters right off the bat. All the major characters right now except Rai, Ax, Dr. Silk and the Armor Hunters are here. Again, you might quibble on the stats. Faith probably should have a d4 or d6 in Might and Action instead of d8s and Archer is missing his ability to duplicate any super power or skill, but what’s here is pretty good, if not entirely accurate. Again tweak things to fit your own vision of the Valiant Universe. It’s your game after all.

So let’s talk rules. To be honest, not much has changed since I first reviewed the quick start version of the rules back in May. Each player takes turn acting as the Lead Narratior, which is the game’s equivalent of the Dungeon Master, Storyteller, Keeper or whatever you like to call the person running the show. This allows everyone a chance to both play AND direct. I like the idea very much. Of course, there are some people that like RPGs that aren’t very good at running games and some who aren’t good at playing characters, so you don’t have to do the regular switching of the Lead Narrator role if you are more comfortable using the standard way of doing things.

Characters have five stats: Might (Physical Build), Intellect, Charisma (Personality and force of will), Action (combat) and Luck. Each stat except for Luck has a die attached to it: d4, d6, d8, d10 or a d12. The bigger the die, the more powerful the character is, the better they are in that field. Powers are run the same way. Luck is unusual as it is a random number between 1 and 12. There is no intentional correlation with the Luck number and a character’s power level. When generating a new character, you are told to just pick a number and slap it in. Luck comes into play whenever you roll a die. If your Luck number comes up on a roll, BAM – instant success even if you would otherwise fail. Now the clever min/max gamer will realize something that others won’t. The LOWER your luck number, the more likely you are to actually roll it. Eternal Warrior has a Luck of 10. That means whenever he rolls a 10 on a die, it’s an automatic success. Let’s look at his stats. Gilad has a d10 Might, a d8 Intellect, a d6 Charisma and a d10 Action. Now since his luck is 10, he can never get a Luck success on his Intellect or Charsima. Those dice don’t go up to 10! Your best bet with Luck is to have it between numbers 1-4 as it shows up on any die, thus maximizing your chance for it to occur. However, that is MIN/MAX’ing, which I tend to frown upon. Plus, there is something to be said in a character who doesn’t need luck or is generally unlucky. So while a Luck from 1-4 is best for rolling, it might not be best for ROLE-PLAYING, am I right?

Making rolls is pretty easy. When a character needs to take an action they roll a D12 + the appropriate die on their character sheet. So if you are trying to be stealthy with Ninjak, you’d roll your standard D12 + his d10 in Adaptive Camouflage and then add the results together. Meanwhile the Lead Narrator would roll a d20. Whoever gets the highest wins the challenge. Now it’s not always that simple. There are occasional modifiers to the rolls and some powers might take precedence over a stat die. There are times where you can even roll both a power AND a stat die with the d12 and then you drop the highest, drop the lowest or keep them both! It all just depends. D12+ appropriate die vs. d20 is the universal equation for the Cue System though and it’s extremely intuitive.

There are rules for weapons, vehicles, combat in vehicles, mind control, breathing, being in space and other things that you’ll want for comic book style battles or situations. One thing that is notably missing are hard and fast rules for death. This is on purpose because 1) unlike other comics book universes with a revolving door policy on death, Valiant has been and always will be a place with only permadeath. Now that isn’t to say there isn’t necromancy or ghosts, otherwise we wouldn’t have characters like Dr. Mirage or Sandria, but when you are dead, you are DEAD here in the Valiant-verse. Because the game wants to keep that intact, death in tabletop Valiant only comes about when the Lead Narrator and players feel it is appropriate. Say a heroic sacrifice or it really fits the story. As such you’ll notice when a character loses all armor and health in the game, they are only Knocked Out, Pokémon style. I think that is a good idea, especially since you can’t raise the dead in some fashion here unless you are Master Darque and even then, it’s a mockery of life, not a second chance at things. I like this idea on many levels. This allows the story to come first and the dice to come second, which is how things should be. It makes death more interesting and meaningful when it happens. It also makes the group more co-operative because everyone has a say, not just a bad or jerky LN. This is just one of the many ways the Cue System and the Valiant Universe RPG really focuses on being a storytelling and role-playing game rather than a roll-playing dice fest. Some might not like it while other will love it. I’m definitely in the latter camp.

Let’s talk character creation. Better yet, let’s make one together! I’m going to make a classic Valiant character that might actually have a chance of showing up at some point in the current universe so everyone wins with this example. It’s a Bionisaur, one of the cybernetic dinos from the original Unity that shows up in the Valiant take on Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. I mean, I’m pretty sure Archer & Armstrong and/or Quantum & Woody are going to run into one of these sooner rather than later, right? So we have our concept. Let’s assign stat dice. You get a d6 two d8s and a d10 to make your character. I’ll give the Bionisaur a d10 in Might, a d8 in Action, a d8 in Intellect and a d6 in Charisma. I then have the option of turning my d10 into a d12 at the expense of turning my d6 into a d4. I am fine with this. Charisma is a dump stat for an evil cyborg tyrannosaur from beyond space-time after all. So our final build looks like this: Might: d12 Intellect: d8, Charisma: D4, Action: d8. We have a d12 in Might, so our health is as set on the character sheet – no changes needed. We pick our Luck and I’m going to choose 6 because it is my favorite number and because Bionisaur doesn’t need Luck on his Charisma roll. It gives him a really workable flaw to offset his sheet power.

Next comes powers. We have four levels for powers, with each one giving us more points to spend and a cap of powers. Now Bionisaurs are generally NPC cannon fodder for Valiant heroes, but this one we are making is special and a playable character. I’m going to choose the second tier of powers called “Hero,” which gives me 30 points to spend and a maximum of 3 powers. There are no set powers in the game. You get to use your imagination, but you also have to be pretty clear about what they do. The first power I will take is “Accelerated Healing” which comes from the cybernetic enhancements to the dinosaur. I’ll choose a d10 and the option to “discard lowest” as my option for this power, which means I roll the d12, the Stat Die, the Power Die and discard the lowest of the two non-core d12 rolls. I check the chart and this costs 10 points. So I have 20 left to spend. I next power will be “Tracking” based off of the Bionisaur’s keen sense of smell and its cyber gizmo doo-dads. I’m going to choose a d6 here and also “Keep Both” which will let me roll both the stat and the power die and then add each of them to the core d12 roll. This costs me 9 points so I have 11 left to spend. For Bionisaur’s last power I’m going to take “Protection Against Mental Manipulation.” Because he has a reptilian brain enhanced by computers I’m going to say powers like mind control, illusion, telepathy and the like have trouble with the alien nature of his thought process. This will also help shore up his Charisma based rolls in certain areas. I’m going to do a d6 and “Keep Both” again which costs another nine points. That leaves me with two points left over that I can’t do anything with. Which is fine, as the three powers we do have make him a good defensive villain that can be used as a PC or a midboss antagonist.

After that we get armor with is used (and depeleted) before Health starts to go down. Each character gets a minimum of 10 along with (Might+Action)/2 more points. In this case that’s an extra ten for a total of 20 armor points on Bionisaur. After that you pick your weapons (in this case big sharp teeth, tail smash and stepping on soft squishy mammals,) and you do the personality side of things. That’s it. It took us a page in Microsoft Word to give an example of character creation, which shows you how quick and easy this whole process is.

The book then closes with almost forty pages of adventure seeds, or Story Briefs, as is the vernacular here. These are divided into nine categories – eight for specific books and their characters like X-O Manowar or Eternal Warrior and then one four part story for immortal or time travelling characters like Ivar and Armstrong which will span literally thousands of years across the Valiant continuity. Some stores adhere closely to plots or story arcs from the comics, while some are completely original pieces. The sheer amount of briefs included means you won’t have to create your own homebrew adventures for a very long time. Of course, briefs are well, brief, so the Narrating team will have to flesh things out to make a full story out of them. This is how adventures for Valiant Universe RPG are done though due to the group effort of storytelling and the emphasis towards “on the fly” imaginative thinking. This is neither bad nor good – it simply is. I feel this affords new gamers a lot more flexibility than the on-rails format of most published adventures and it allows the group to think for themselves and become better GMs for it. At the same time, newcomers MAY want a little more structure and handholding with adventures, which isn’t something the current Story Briefs system offers.

Overall, I think Valiant Universe: the Roleplaying Game is fantastic. My favorite comic book universe is finally melded with my favorite hobby and the result is spectacular. The Cue System is a wonderful way to learn how to tabletop roleplay as the rules are simple and it really focuses on story telling over dice rolling. You have a great co-operative atmosphere that prevents the GM vs PC situations that develop with some other RPGs. Valiant Universe RPG is a very fun and easy to use system. The fact the PDF version of the game is only ten bucks makes this must buy for ANY superhero fan, even if you have little to no exposure with the Valiant Universe. Those same newcomers to Valiant might want to hold on the regular or deluxe version of the physical game as that money would be better spent purchasing a few trades (Start with Archer & Armstrong then pick up either Quantum and Woody or X-O Manowar). After all, you want to know you like the characters before you spend 30-50 bucks on a game you might not play. That’s why getting the PDF version first is the smart bet. At worst you’re only out ten dollars and even if you don’t like the game system, you might want the characters intriguing and want to learn more about them. At best, you’ve got a new gaming system to love and some new comic series to pick up! Again, with a ten buck price tag, any RPG or comic book fan should grab this without hesitation as the game is as well done as it is affordable. Valiant Universe RPG won’t be replacing TSR’s Marvel game or Mayfair’s DC Universe as my top two super hero RPGs, but I can safely say this one of the best new games of the year, Between Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game, Atomic Robo and the new version of ICONS, this is one of the best years for super hero RPGs in a very long time.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe: The Roleplaying Game
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Shadowrun: Gear Cards [Drones & Vehicles, Volume 1]
by Jesse R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2014 19:24:54
My problem with this product is that the file has 2 pages. A cover card, and the Doberman drone. Where is the rest?

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gear Cards [Drones & Vehicles, Volume 1]
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Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/15/2014 23:56:29
SO many bad, obvious errors. I'm a huge fan, very much into mages and was really looking forward to this. There are some good ideas, and many of the fluff sections are great, but the editing is just awful. This is not a professional, ready for sale product. Worse, they announced it was off to the printers the same day it was released.

Lots of references to powers that don't exist yet, often as prerequisites. Drain codes that are completely off. Spells that HAVE to be Physical spells listed as "Mana". Adept powers are massively over-costed and "the ways" make no sense. Even the layout is fairly nonsensical.

It's not like there were no good ideas here. With maybe another month of editing and error checking it could have been good. As it stands, it makes me worry about the company that they released it in this shape.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
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Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
by Thomas C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/14/2014 15:51:40
Lot's of errors in this one. We've got references to rules that don't exist, contradictory rules (on the same page no less), a drekload of spelling and grammatical errors, the writers forgetting that Aspected Magicians exist (and are an option under the core rules), a layout that could be used as an example of what NOT to do (we interrupt this list of things to detail the rules for something else for several pages, with no warning or transition, followed by an abrupt switch back to the list we were in the middle of), rules that were blatantly copy-pasted from 4E (you can tell, because they refer to mechanics that no longer exist in 5E), abilities that list as prerequisites abilities that don't exist (but word is they'll print them in a future supplement) and what is, overall a pretty terrible job.

I want to like SR5, but Catalyst really needs to step up their editing and review process. By which I mean they actually need to edit and review things before they publish. Word is they've already sent it to the printers too, so that means the print version is gonna be stuck with all of this.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
by Stanley B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2014 10:46:49
You know, I gave this book 4 stars are first, because I liked the fluff, I'm a big fan, and it had some neat stuff. I realize that was a mistake, now. Further reading and use of this book (and other Shadowrun books) is actively aggravating me now, partly due to the abysmal editing process. In Street Grimoire alone, they mention at least four different powers that aren't included in the book; two or three of them are perquisites for current in-book powers, ones you can't even pick up by the rules because what you need *doesn't exist yet*. Typos are somewhat rare (the big one is the typo on the BACK OF THE BOOK THAT EVERYONE READS), but there are dozens of editing/grammar errors from leaving in text that should have been deleted or things along those lines. The book actively contradicts other books on pre-existing powers in regards to cost and effect, while other powers are not balanced in regards to price or power. Not to mention the reintroduction of refined and radical reagents; that do nothing mechanically except cost 10-100 times as much as a normal reagent, due to refining processes that mean nothing except the risk of losing the materials, even though the fluff says that the materials make a difference.
From what I've read and heard, the problems with these books isn't that nobody notices the errors; it's that somebody higher up is ignoring them, or thinks the work to fix everything isn't necessary. I am a huge fan of Shadowrun; the setting is hands-down my favorite, and I like the system. I'm starting up a 5th Edition game right now, even. But the quality of the books has honestly made me start to second-guess my choice. I'm not giving this book 1 star because that would be pushing my current frustration onto a product that still has some good points. I can't leave my original 4 star up because of the copious errors and concerns; I don't want to mislead people into buying this book without knowing the problems, at least. If I were to ignore the problems in the book, I could give this a four. At the current state, I can't.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Street Grimoire
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2014 10:53:13
Finally catalyst games seems to be getting with the program. An other good an actually useful book that has information both players and gm's alike that can be used without unnecessary fluff filler material. The spells are solid and the game mechanics are useable for gm's to use in their campaign..and what gm does not have house rules..ain't met a gm yet that was worth anything that did not have house rules. However 2 points of interest that stops this one from getting a 5 rating and first is a big one. 1 proof reading in this book is terrible..if i am paying 25 dollars for this non dead tree version..I expect proof reading of the material for correct spelling and word useage..come on ppl its a free function of your word processor...USE IT! 2. a lil less fluff filler material and perhaps a few same characters from season 5 campaign contacts upgraded with new material from the street grimoire relavant to the character/contact would be nice but definitely not a deal breaker at this point. Overall a good book worth the purchase despite its lack of proof reading and after that debacle with the book "shattered soul", just say no to c.d.f.s., it's nice to see things back on track and YouTube has a posted videos on how to use a spelling checker and how to proof read, look them up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/24/2014 00:54:52
‘Bullets & Bandages’ could be the title of most of my Shadowrun campaigns, but it is nice to have a book specifically dedicated to healing and healers for the Sixth World. Even with SR2 books like ‘Missions’ the role of DocWagon, their tactics, and composition have always been a little hazy which is a shame considering how much potential this organisation has to impact any campaign. Likewise, there is a lot material in this book for those with a medical bent, as well as for the GM, so it’s equally useful on both sides of the screen (and at this price, it’s affordable for every interested player/GM to have a copy).
The writing is solid, from the opening fiction to introductory corporate training piece from a DocWagon instructor, to the rules mechanics which make up the lion’s share of the book.
You’ll find new equipment, spells, Adept powers, toxins, medicines and drones – all useful kit for runners interested in staying alive long enough to collect their nuyen at the end of the run. The Qualities are extremely average, and even unnecessary (Did we need the Negative Quality ‘Pregnant’ with accompanying rules? Could we have left this story element to house-ruling? I’d argue that there are better ways to treat the issue) but there is nothing completely unusable about them.
Overall, the book represents good value for good content, and this is a welcome addition to my Shadowrun books. The value is also increased by the addition of dual-statted SR4 and SR5 rules references, so fans of both editions have a reason to pick it up.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Bullets & Bandages
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Shadowrun: Coyotes
by Roger L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/18/2014 07:45:38
Kojoten sind Schmuggler ganz besonderer Güter: Personenschmuggler. Mit dem Shadowrun 5 Quellenband Coyotes bekommen Spielrunden eine wertvolle Hilfe für den Transport des Runnerteams oder anderer Personen über gesicherte Grenzen an die Hand. Dabei richtet sich das kompakte PDF-Dokument in allererster Linie an den Spielleiter.

Rezension: Shadowrun - Coyotes

Coyotes ist ein kurzer Quellenband zu Shadowrun 5, der im Dezember 2013 als englischsprachiges PDF von Catalyst Game Labs (CGL) veröffentlicht wurde. Seit März 2014 gibt es diesen auch von Pegasus als deutsche Variante, die Rezension bezieht sich allerdings ausschließlich auf die englische Variante.

Inhalt
Ein Kojote ist hier eine besondere Art von Schmuggler. Er hat sich darauf spezialisiert, Personen über Grenzen zu bringen, die sie anderweitig womöglich nicht hätten überwinden können. Im Shadowrun-Universum sind diese Schmuggler demnach wertvolle Helfer bei der Abwicklung von Aufträgen, die eine Gruppe von Shadowrunnern beispielsweise ins Ausland bringen. Das Dokument nimmt sich dabei 30 Seiten Platz für die Beschreibung von Coyotes, ihrer typischen Arbeitsweise und der Opposition. Dazu gibt es noch eine einleitende Kurzgeschichte und ein sieben Seiten umfassendes Abenteuer, das thematisch zu dem Ganzen passt.

Transporter
Die Kurzgeschichte Transporter ist ansprechend geschrieben und lässt den Leser eine kurze Grenzüberschreitungs-Episode aus der Sicht eines Kojoten erleben. Dabei wird deutlich gemacht, welche Rolle der Kojote in einem Shadowrun-Abenteuer übernimmt: Die des NSC als Helfer oder Kontrahent.

The Kojote Life
Passenderweise ist der folgende Text über das Leben und Wirken als Kojote aus der Sicht des Protagonisten der Kurzgeschichte geschrieben und tatsächlich taucht eben diese Figur später auch als ein möglicher archetypischer Kojote mit Werten und Ausrüstung auf.

Der gesamte Text gibt einen knappen, aber alle wichtigen Aspekte beleuchtenden Einblick in die Art und Weise, wie Kojote und Shadowrunner miteinander verknüpft sind. Dabei verarbeitet er im Wesentlichen dabei die Optionen, die ein Spielleiter hat, um einen Grenzübergang für eine Gruppe von Shadowrunnern zu einem spannenden Abenteuer zu machen.

Das ist prinzipiell nichts, was Shadowrunspieler nicht auch ohne den Band durchspielen könnten. Die Art und Weise, wie Coyotes Standards beschreibt, dürfte Spielern und Spielleitern allerdings eine große Hilfe sein. Es wird beschrieben, was der Kojote von den Auftraggebern oder Passagieren (z.B. Shadowrunnern) erwartet und was diese von dem Kojoten erwarten können, wie viel man für seine Dienste springen lassen muss und was er dafür zu leisten in der Lage ist.

So umfassend die Beschreibung der Grenzübergänge in dem Abschnitt daher kommt, sie ist an einigen Stellen etwas holprig. So gibt es zum Beispiel bei der Beschreibung der einzelnen Schwierigkeitsstufen immer wieder ganze Absätze, die sich wiederholen, was den Text unheimlich aufbläht und darin potentiell enthaltene kleinere Änderungen unschön verbirgt. Schuldig bleibt Coyotes zudem eine Beschreibung der Grenzbereiche abseits der kontrollierten Übergänge, schließlich ist es für einen illegalen Transfer nicht ganz unüblich, die schwer bewachten und kontrollierten Übergänge zu meiden.

Interessant ist, dass bei der Definition einer Grenze nicht nur Landesgrenzen gemeint sind, sondern natürlich auch die Grenzen zwischen einer Nation und dem Gelände eines mit einer eigenen Extraterritorialität ausgestatteten Konzerns. Nicht zuletzt dieser Aspekt gibt den im Grundregelwerk beschriebenen potentiellen Sicherheitsmaßnahmen einen greifbaren Rahmen, der für jede Runde von Shadowrunnern eine Bereicherung ist - nicht nur für jene, die von Seattle in den Salish-Sidhe-Rat oder von den ADL nach Polen reisen müssen.

Six Sample Coyotes
Der letzte Abschnitt des Quellenteils beschäftigt sich mit archetypischen Kojoten und beleuchtet dabei unterschiedliche Aspekte und Möglichkeiten. Dabei sind nur zwei der sechs vorgestellten Personen klassische Rigger und so sind die Unterschiede und Schwerpunkte anregend vielfältig. Die NSC sind dabei teilweise bebildert, wobei die Illustrationen gelegentlich von den Beschreibungen abweichen - ein NSC wird beispielsweise mit einem Cyberarm dargestellt, der sich nicht in der Beschreibung findet.

Piping Hot
Das Abenteuer Piping Hot umfasst sieben der 30 verfügbaren Seiten und beschreibt ohne große Details ein kleines Szenario, dass eine Gruppe von Runnern von Seattle in den Salish-Sidhe-Rat und zurück bringen soll. Passenderweise müssen die Runner dabei die Rolle eines Kojoten übernehmen, sich also mit den Problemen bei Grenzübergängen selber auseinander setzen.

Mit dem restlichen Quellenband (und natürlich dem Grundregelwerk) hat der Spielleiter zwar alles an der Hand, um seine Runde in einen actiongeladenen Run zu stürzen, allerdings kommt das Abenteuer nicht ohne einige Anpassungen aus. Die grobe Geschichte ist dabei einfach und stimmig, die Details sind allerdings eher lieblos ausgearbeitet. So fehlt beispielsweise eine grobe einleitende Handlungsübersicht, die den sich vorbereitenden Spielleiter von Anfang an an die Hand nimmt.

Stattdessen werden wesentliche Aspekte des Runs auch für den Spielleiter nur nach und nach in den Abschnitten aufgedeckt, so dass man unwillkürlich vorherige Abschnitte durchsucht, ob man nicht etwas übersehen hat - zum Beispiel die besondere Natur der zu transportierenden Person. Und während an einigen Stellen die Werte von NSC mit dem üblichen Seitenverweisen auf das Grundregelwerk referenziert werden, haben andere Figuren nur zwei oder drei Werte, die dann nur schwerlich ein dreidimensionales Bild der Figur abgeben oder dem anderweitig Beschriebenen zuwider laufen. Eine nicht unwichtige Figur der Geschichte wird beispielsweise mit wenig mehr Werten beziffert, als einem Charisma von 5 und einem sozialen Limit von 5. Diese beiden Werte würden darauf zurück schließen lassen, dass die Summe aus Essenz und Willenskraft lediglich 5 beträgt, was dieser Figur wahlweise eine besondere Note verpasst, oder sie im Kontext des Runs schwer glaubwürdig erschienen lässt.

Es folgen weitere logische Schwächen und der Spielleiter wird nicht umhin kommen, diese vorweg anzugehen und auszubügeln. Andererseits könnte man behaupten, dass es zum wesentlichen Handwerk eines Spielleiters gehört, ein Abenteuer an seine Runde anzupassen und die Natur der Fehler bedenkend, fällt das Nacharbeiten des Runs eigentlich in genau den Bereich. Die Fehler sind unschön, zerstören dabei aber die eigentliche Geschichte nicht.

Preis-/Leistungsverhältnis
Coyotes hat für meinen Geschmack einen hohen Anteil an in vielen Shadowruns verwertbaren Informationen. Und davon profitieren natürlich vor allem frische Spielleiter, aber auch alte Hasen gehen nicht leer aus. Auf dreißig Seiten finden sich nicht nur viele Ideen, die sich leicht in Abenteuer einbauen lassen oder selber neue Runs ergeben können, sondern auch eine Menge spieltechnischer Dinge in Form von Daten und Werten sowie ein Kurzabenteuer, das Spielleiter wie auch Spieler ins Thema führt. Der Quellenband hat dabei für 7,95 USD einen angenehm kleinen Preis.
Erscheinungsbild
Das PDF-Dokument verfügt über eine saubere Kapitelnavigation und die Abschnitte sind übersichtlich aufgebaut, Tabellen und Bilder lesefreundlich platziert. Die Illustrationen haben eine angemessene Auflösung, die künstlerische Qualität ist allerdings durchwachsen. Dennoch sind die Bilder immer thematisch passend, können aber kleinere logische Unstimmigkeiten enthalten, die man allerdings wohlwollend übersehen kann.

Tatsächlich ist auch der Text nicht völlig ohne Fehler. Mal scheint beim Redigieren ein Wort oder auch ein Halbsatz übersehen worden zu sein, der dann sinnfrei alleine dasteht, mal tauchen bei NSCs Werte auf, die es in Shadowrun 5 nicht mehr gibt (die Fertigkeit Dodge) und dann wieder unterscheidet sich das logische Format der NSC-Beschreibung von einem NSC zum anderen (mal lediglich Fertigkeitsstufen, mal komplette Würfelpools).


Fazit
Ein sehr kompaktes Werk, dicht gepackt mit wertigem Inhalt. Hier macht CGL kaum etwas verkehrt, und liefert Hintergrund, den der Spielleiter schnell in seine Runs einbauen kann, um diese mit Leben und Details zu füllen.

Dabei geht CGL aber gemessen am gesamten Umfang an vielen Stellen auffällig unsauber vor. Ab und an stolpert der Leser über Schreibfehler oder logische Schwächen. Das grundlegende Thema wie auch das Abenteuer hätten dazu deutlich von einer höheren Seitenzahl profitieren können, denn es wirkt an einigen Stellen unnötig kurz gefasst.

Sicherlich wird nicht jeder Leser über die Schwächen hinwegsehen können. Gelingt dies aber, hat man mit Coyotes eine wertvolle Quelle für Informationen und viele Ideen zur Ausgestaltung von passenden Abenteueraspekten.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Coyotes
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Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: The Harbinger Foundation
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/16/2014 06:33:49
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2014/06/16/tabletop-review-valiant-
-universe-rpg-qsr-supplemental-harbinger-wars-the-harbinger--
foundation/


Wow, here we are with our fourth free Quick Start Rules preview of the Valiant Universe RPG. The previous two let you view the big Harbinger Wars event from the side of Bloodshot and Generation Zero respectively. Now we’re going to be looking at things from the point of the most powerful man in the world (both fiscally and literally) – Toyo Harada. This isn’t the first time Valiant Universe RPG fans will be able to step into the shoes of the master of the Harbinger Foundation. In the very first QSR, Unity, you could play as Harada, along with Ninjak, Livewire and the Eternal Warrior. This time however, while one person takes up the reigns as Harada, three others will be playing Eggbreakers, some of Harada’s psiot muscle. This is a really interesting choice, as Harada’s side pretty much wears the black hat from the point of view of many Valiant protagonists, even if Harada himself thinks he’s the biggest white hat on the planet. This will let players see how the other half lives, and also flesh out Harada and his lackeys into more than just two dimensional bad guys should the players ever encounter them instead of playing as them.

It’s worth noting that besides Harada, the other three playable characters are very under the radar ones. I mean, I own every issue of this run of Harbinger and I had to try really hard to remember if the other three (Stronghold, Ion, Saturn) were actually mentioned by name or even more than once in the comics. This is both good and bad. The bad is that, depending on your group, EVERYONE will want to play Harada because they know him and he’s crazy powerful. So the Lead Narrator may have to prevent some bouts of immaturity, depending on the age and makeup of the players. The good news is that the other three characters are virtually blank slates, which means you can play them however you want. You won’t get a rules-lawyer style player saying, “That’s not how they were in the comics!” because there really isn’t enough on any of them to truly flesh out their personality. It also means that for gamers who felt the previous QSRs were a bit too “on rails” since they were name characters in situations that already occurred in continuity, this adventure will be the most to their liking. Not only is part of it completely original and not ripped from the pages of four color goodness, but the parts that are from Harbinger Wars will feel very different because B or C – Level characters (and Harada) are getting the spotlight.

The Harbinger Foundation‘s adventure consists of four parts, all of which have multiple scenes (except for Part Two), which should keep your players busy for one to three sessions depending on how long and drawn out things get. Each leg of the adventure is very combat heavy rather than discussion and exploration, so the length of the adventure will depend on how comfortable you are with the mechanics provided in the QSR up to this point. Remember, you’ll need a copy of the Unity QSR to play The Harbinger Foundation as it has all the rules. It’s free as well (heck, all the QSRs for Valiant Universe RPG are free, so get them all!), so remember to pick that up and read it first to minimize any issues you might encounter.

So let’s talk the adventure proper. Part One has students either working cooperatively or against each other (choose the former as teamwork is always better than PvP) in some “Danger Room” like tasks. This is a great start, as it lets players try out their characters and powers, especially those that haven’t had much face time in the comics. It also lets the players test out some strategy, which they will need for the other three parts of the adventure.

Part Two is only one scene long, but it is a doozy. Harada and Ion Vs. Bloodshot. While this battle is going on (and it will most likely unfold differently from the comics), Stronghold and Saturn will be dealing with escapees from project Rising Spirit. It’s nice to see everyone getting to shine in this scene, while in the comics, it really was just a battle between the two big heavy hitters. When one side accomplishes their goal, the other side’s battle will finish up. Make sure your Lead Narrator can effectively run two very different sessions of combat at once, as everything does unfold at the same time.

Part Three has the Eggbreakers and Harada taking the fight directly to Project Rising Spirit, where they will do combat with the Hard C.O.R.P.S. Scene Four has Harada and his Eggbreakers trying to recruit members of Generation Zero to the Harbinger Foundation. This is a short but easy scene that mainly relies on Harada’s die rolling. If it goes good, this is a short and easy affair. If it goes bad, there is a LOT of combat. Unfortunately, there are some issues with Part Four. First up is that the writing, mechanic-wise, is a bit cloudy and I think it will confuse people who are new to gaming. Re-read the opposed roll information at least twice to make sure you know what you’re doing. Second, the text states, “Take the number generated during Scene Three in the previous Event and divide by two (rounded down); treat any result higher than five as five.” I have NO IDEA what they are talking about here. Is the previous event, the previous scene? Because there is no random number generated in Part Three, Scene Three. Did they mean the Generation Zero QSR? Because there is no number generation in that either. In fact, the only random number generation that I could find is in Part Three, Scene Two of this QSR, and it’s in regards to when P.R.S.’ automated defenses come online. So this is really a bit of jargon editorial should have caught. At least it is free, though, right? A decent Lead Narrator can also fudge through his and make it work with no one being the wiser.

So aside from Scene Four somewhat falling apart due to bad editing and writing, The Harbinger Foundation is still a top notch little adventure and a great addition to the ever growing collection of free releases for Valiant Universe RPG. I’d definitely say the game is four for four so far and come Free RPG Day 2014, I’ll definitely be trying to get my hands on a free copy of the physical version of the Quick Start Rules. You definitely should too. Valiant Universe RPG is certainly shaping up to be the best new RPG of 2014, and since everything released for it so far is free you have absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go download all four QSRs immediately.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Valiant Universe RPG QSR Supplemental: Harbinger Wars: The Harbinger Foundation
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