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Shadowrun: Dark Resonance
by Stephen M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/26/2015 10:59:54
I'm not a huge fan of Technomancers in the game but they can and do work better in fiction. Unlike the old Shadowplay novel, this really focuses on the Matrix to the exclusion of all else. No doubt because of who the villain turns out to be. I personally prefer more of a mix of areas in Shadowrun. It's fun to see some of the Jackpointers come out to play even if the Decker plays secon fiddle most of the time by working in AR and no VR references.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Dark Resonance
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Shadowrun: Hell on Water
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/21/2015 06:35:43
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/01/21/book-review-shadowrun-h-
ell-on-water/

I wasn’t sure what to expect diving head first into what is actually my first Shadowrun novel. I’ve read the game books and played the console and now PC games that were set in the universe but never really hit on the fiction. While I don’t think going into this one would be good if you’d never picked up anything related to Shadowrun before, it is kind of an interesting tale about a run gone horribly wrong. Then again, what run ever goes right?

The book focuses on a group slapped together for this particular run. Set in Lagos and Nigeria, this isn’t even remotely an area I’m familiar with on top of being a setting in the Sixth World which means it’s cyberpunk and not quite our own, but you don’t have to rely on knowing the definitions of the Lagosian slurs they use to get by. Two members of the group are professionals from Seattle while everyone else is local and while they’ve been brought in for a particular run, events quickly happen that start kicking things in revealing different secrets of each of the locals that they really didn’t want known. You’ve got a street samurai who has a really violent streak, a dwarf decker with some dark secrets to match her skills, a rigger who detests being everyone’s ride but knows that’s what groups expect from him, and a shaman who’s trying to find her place and some justice as well.

Their job is to simply collect three cases and get those cases and their contents from the mainland and over to the Lagos Island where all the big corporations in the area like to play. The original plan falls apart, of course, so the group that’s barely holding it together ends up having to take the Third Mainland Bridge, a 14km long bridge that they’ll have to take on foot because sections of it have collapsed making travel by vehicle practically impossible. This of course means defending their packages from all sorts of local trouble and getting it across the bridge in one piece to collect on their payday. Being runners and professionals, they didn’t ask too many questions at the start, but after a while they realize they probably should have looked a little more into who they’re working for and just what it is exactly they’re transporting.

The book is told through several different ways. The first of which, the story itself is being told by someone recounting the run to the reader, presumably by someone who knows the runners or at least one of them and the events that happened well enough to recount them. It starts off with them already having picked up the packages and heading for their doomed transport and continues from there with some key flashback scenes and nice headers for the chapters that are flashbacks so you know right when they’re supposed to be happening. I generally hate flashbacks like this, mainly because usually it’s a certain point and then the storyteller goes back to tell us how it happened up to that point which completely kills the suspense. By doing brief flashbacks like this we instead get character motivation for what happens next, just like you’d get if someone were telling the story to someone else for emphasis, and for the most part it works pretty well.

The bigger issue with this story, is that we end up revisiting a few obstacles the heroes already got passed at one point and having them get passed again feels almost unnecessary. It does lead to some rather humorous exchanges and decent action scenes, but at the same time feels like ground retread. It could have easily been handled a bit differently, especially after looking at the map of the city as it is currently and trying to figure out how that particular sequence would have played out as described. So it could have been shortened a little bit or had a few different things happen to move things along. The best thing about this section is it gives a few of the characters moments to shine within the group of runners.

The only other issue I had is the storyteller him or herself. While this is done through that person, the character voice for the storyteller is really strong in the first few chapters and then instead of letting it slide a bit here and there, that voice just drops off almost entirely just to reappear once or twice. It served initially to draw me into it, but then once I noticed it was gone kind of kicked me out of the story a bit. The storyteller’s voice could have been a bit stronger throughout, but it’s not a make or break it for the book itself.

Overall I like the characters and the banter. The run seemed a bit too simplistic and a bit too much like a fetch quest at first. There are far more layers to it but when you break it all down the runners are simply playing the part of couriers here. Granted they’re playing the part of courier and there’s something else going on, but it reminded me a bit too much of why I hate having so many of these to do in video games. This ends up being far more interesting than it first appears. The book does move along pretty well without losing the reader, but it does feel like several of the plot threads get dropped by the ending. The ending does work, but ultimately the reader is left like the runners in the book who are telling each other war stories – all are left wondering about details that the storyteller didn’t disclose at all, so we only really get a taste of what happened. This is nowhere as satisfying as a bigger conclusion and so the book fails to give readers and Shadowrun fans alike what they truly want.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Hell on Water
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Michael D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2015 13:29:35
Atrocious, just atrocious. It's like the developers wanted to undo every good thing that ever happened throughout Shadowrun's entire history. Point buy has been abandoned in favor of the old, clunky Priority Table and is worse than ever with Metatype being a bigger swindle than ever and Magic going from the best choice to being the end all be all. Fixed Initiative Passes have been replaced with the old "roll to see how many turns you get" nonsense that turns Shadowrun's already slow gameplay into an endurance test. The worthwhile statlines for dwarves and trolls has been replaced by pathetic stats for their Priority cost and penalties to cash. Gunplay has been reverted back to the old harsh limitations of "one shot per Pass" that 1st edition knew to get rid of in it's VERY FIRST SPLATBOOK. It's just insane.

The new is pretty bad as well. Mystic Adepts have been changed so that they now get everything that Adepts and Magicians get at the cost of having to spend essentially peanuts to get a few things that the other two get for free. Riggers are more powerful than ever with new drone options that let them eat folks alive. And cyber samurai are more screwed than ever thanks to inflated dice pools forcing them to buy even more cycberware to get the same level of effectiveness as previous editions and Limits causing their shrinking Essence to bite them during legwork.

That brings me to Limits. This is, no hyperbole, the worst mechanic I've ever seen in a roleplaying game. They impose unintuitive caps on how many successes you can get based on your Attributes and equipment that causes all sorts of nonsense such as requiring you to be big and strong to sneak around and making bare fists more likely to finish someone off than a sword. It's stupid, tedious, and serves no purpose. It doesn't even accomplish its stated goal of making better gear mean more since people using no gear only have to contend with their personal Limits instead of both their Limits and the equipment's Limits nor does it prevent crazy lucky rolls from causing huge upsets because Edge points can now be spent to temporarily remove Limits whenever wildly lucky rolls come up. I'd say that Limits are a gangrenous limb of a mechanic that should've been hacked off of this mess during alpha testing, but that would imply that ANY of the playtesting was spent trying to improve the game rather than appease grognards that grumbled about how everything was better back in their day.

In short, burning this book would be an insult to fire.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Sioux Nation
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/16/2015 07:38:11
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/01/16/tabletop-review-shadows-
-in-focus-sioux-nation-shadowrun/

So 2014 wasn’t the best year for Shadowrun. Sure we got the Dragonfall video game, but the tabletop side received a lot of grief from critics and fans alike in regards to what came out that year. I’ll admit it was probably the worst year the game has had in the past five or so, but it wasn’t as terrible as some doom and gloomers made it out to be. You know what though? It’s a whole new year. Time to start over and more importantly – start off on the right foot. Case in point – Shadows In Focus: Sioux Nation. I’ll admit these are my favorite kind of supplements. You get a solid look at a specific location in the Sixth World with a lot of fluff and a dabbling of mechanics at the end. I’m never happier than when the current SR writers look at places that have been left untouched for several editions or that have never been covered at all. I’m still pushing for a Caribbean or Samoa based piece but for now the Sioux Nation supplement satisfies me and then some. It’s a region that hasn’t really been tackled since third editions Shadows of North America and it hasn’t been tackled WELL since Nigel Findlay wrote Native American Nations, volumes 1 & 2 back in 1e/2e days of the game. Fans of the original pieces on the Sioux Nation will be quite happy with the attention to detail and quality in this piece. In fact there was only one really big error I found and that was the supplement kept referencing Fargo as part of the Sioux Nation when in fact it’s in the UCAS. The map in Sioux Nation clearly shows this but the city is actually right on the North Dakota/Minnesota border which is why it’s often referred to as “Fargo-Moorhead” because only the Red River (and state lines) separates the two cities from being one. Speaking as someone that had to fly in there in August, 2014 I can say the characters in this piece are correct in that not a lot happens there. At the same time there were a LOT of “No Vampires Allowed” signs for some odd reason. This amused me but in conjunction with this supplement made me think there is either a Sixth World story by Patrick Goodman to be had there…or some Vampire: The Masquerade piece.

So, let’s actually talk about Sioux Nation. This was one of my favorite pieces released for Fifth Edition so far, mainly because it’s a look at one of my favorite places in the Sixth World and because it was so well written. The Sioux Nation is SUCH an important part of Shadowrun lore and the fact it is rarely mentioned these days shocked me. Doubly so with the influx of new players via 5e and the video games that would otherwise overlook while this might be the single most important country in the Sixth World. Not in terms of power or politics mind you, but because this is where the Sixth World BEGAN. It was Howling Coyote and the Great Ghost Dance that caused the deviation from our reality and the one in the Shadowrun universe, so if you’re new to Shadowrun this is a piece well worth getting just to familiarize yourself with the area. This is especially true for those that have just read the recent novels or played the video games. Sioux Nation gives you a lot of history as well as the current landscape of the country. Some of you might pause at the $7.99 price tag for a supplement of less than forty pages, and I can understand that. However, it’s better to pay $7.99 and see if you want to try the tabletop game via a well written supplement than pay $50 for a core rulebook you’ll need errata for anyway and that you might never use. So for people on staff here at Diehard GameFAN who are interested in trying the tabletop version of Shadowrun, Fifth Edition, I’d probably give them the Digital Tool Kit first and then this supplement second.

Sioux Nation is written in a similar fashion to most CGL Shadowrun pieces. The booklet is written from the perspective of Jackpoint (A Matrix Hotspot for in the know runners for you new chummers) where someone (or in this case, several people) has written up a dossier on a topic with the occasion comment from other members. You’ll learn all sorts of great info on the Sioux nation with this piece such as the fact it comprised much of what we call Montana and Wyoming with a bit of Colorado and the western end of the Dakotas and Nebraska. You’ll discover that tribal politics are pretty similar corporate and UCAS politics. It is nice to see that the Native Americans of the Sixth world have a higher education, literacy and income rate than those in a lot of our real world reservations. I know 4e and 5e have gone Warhammer levels of Grimdark over the more laugh out loud satire we often saw in the FASA version of the game, but this was a nice bright spot in the 2070s of the game. It’s also telling that Angelos in the Sioux Nation are living on reservations now and that they are regarded as little better than free range prisons. As above, so below I guess. I would have liked to have seen the Sioux be the bigger man than what Joe Honkey did (and to an extent still does) to the Native Americans but this is probably the more realistic take on what would happen if the tables suddenly turned thanks to things like magic and Dragons showing up on our doorstep.

Think of Sioux Nation as a faux travel guide. You have the visitation rights, how to enter the country, topography, climate information, important landmarks and people and major cities. Enterprising GMs will be able to form dozens of plot hooks, if not full adventures, out of the various sections in this supplement. About the only thing missing is an in-depth look at the different tribes that live within the Sioux Nation, but that is due to hitting page count more than anything else. For most gamers, the sections on Government, The Shadows and the Law will be of most interest as you’ll get to see some of your targets and the punishments for messing up there. For people who want to MAKE a Sioux Nation based character for Shadowrun, the military section is probably something you’ll want to bookmark since all citizens are conscripted for at least a year of service. Of course, there’s also a section on corporations but it’s markedly different from what you usually see in a Shadowrun piece mainly because there isn’t a focus on the MegaCorps in this piece. It’s A or smaller companies, which was really cool.

The first thirty pages of Sioux Nation are pure fluff as some people call it, but honestly I prefer the world background and storytelling in Shadowrun 5e to the mechanics, so I’m pretty happy with what’s here. The last ten pages are for written for those who want some in-game information and a little something crunchy to play with. It starts off with a nice transition from storytelling into stats with a set of ten plot hooks you can flesh out into adventures. Then you get information on what it means to be a Sioux Shadowrunner or a Shadowrunner in the Sioux Nation (probably smuggling). Clothes, Language, prejudice and even how some things are different. For example a Sioux character getting a (very) minor version of the Mentor Spirit quality for free. At the same time qualities such as Orc/Elf poser work…differently here. There’s also a look at six character archetypes and how they are viewed (as well as operate) differently in the Sioux Nation. Deckers should especially take note.

For those looking to build a character, there are eight skill packages. Some are worth it while some are not. Names do seem to be applied arbitrarily here. For example the “SDF One Year Wonder” package gives you Automatics 3 (Assault Rifles +2) and Unarmed Combat 2, but the Sioux Army Veteran only gets Automatics 1 and no Unarmed Combat. They also don’t get disguise. I’m sure there is a reason or this that makes sense to the devs but in my head, I would think the veterans would have all the skills of a one year conscript but beefed up in addition to extra skills. There’s also a new version of “My Country, Right or Wrong” for the Sioux called Code of Honor: Nationalist. After that you get a small section on equipment and then nearly twenty adventure seeds. Yes the piece is extremely heavy on world background and storytelling rather than focusing on much in the way of mechanics, but honestly I prefer that. If all they printed were straight up mechanics in a supplement, CGL would have some extremely dull releases.

Overall, I’m very happy with Shadows in Focus: Sioux Nation. This is the type of thing I’d like to see more of. I was not very happy with metaplot pieces like Storm Front and Stolen Souls because things were not going in good directions in-game or out-of-game. From the looks of message boards and other reviews out there my opinion was far from being in the minority. Focusing on fleshing out areas of the Sixth World in 5e without forcing bad ideas or poorly thought out ones that could have been good) throughout multiple books (Remember the Bogota conflict?) is probably the way to go after the year Shadowrun had in 2014. It lets the writers flex their creative muscles without leaving gamers feel railroaded and everyone gets interesting outside the box pieces to boot. I’d much rather read about the a part of the sixth world that has been left alone for a while than yet another Seattle/Bug City/London piece so if we can get another half dozen or so supplements like this in 2015, I think Shadowrun will be in excellent shape. If you’re one of the people who really didn’t care for last year’s output, you’ll be happy to know that Sioux Nation is a return to form and that last year was probably just new edition blues for everyone. The real trick is to see if CGL can keep the momentum going. I wish the piece was priced at five dollars as that would probably be a sweet spot for it, but it’s selling well as is, so if you have the disposable income to spend, grab this and either discover a new part of the Sixth World you’ve never visited or engage in some nostalgia (Depending on when you started running).

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Sioux Nation
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BattleTech: Adventures: Empires Aflame
by Bruce F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2015 00:04:16
I have been playing Battletech since it was first released. I have also been a huge proponent of the RPG for the BT Universe as the richness of the universe truly needs to be explored on every level.

However, for those that may love the universe but not want to mess with canon this product is definitely for you.

This takes the universe asks one "What If?" question then answers it. The answer is exciting and inspiring. Any fan of the Universe will enjoy reading this just for that answer even if you never actively use it. I am certain though that any reader will desire to explore this alternative universe. It's a complete sandbox that is unrestricted and you can take it any direction you want from a small campaign to truly epic.

Upon completing my reading of it I was already planning three A Time of War Campaigns to use this setting as it inspired me in ways that have not happened in a long time. Do not get me wrong I love the canon universe but I have been role-playing in it for about two decades now either as a player or a GM and we prefer to follow canon but at a certain point this has become problematic. This product completely removes that issue and allows us to still play in a sandbox that is Battletech for a very nice change of pace!

Others may like it because there are no Clans. Some may like it because certain 'Mechs still exist and were not destroyed because the Jihad did not occur.

It would certainly be interesting to see more supplements for this product but I like the idea of leaving it as a stand-alone as well for the freedom it gives. Even if you prefer to stay in the canon Universe this product is bound to stimulate ideas for your campaigns regardless of whether you play the tabletop board game, the RPG or the Alpha Strike version of the game.

It truly is worth your time to check it out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Adventures: Empires Aflame
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Shadowrun: Hell on Water
by Stephen M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/09/2015 22:15:02
Without a doubt, the worst Shadowrun novel I've ever read. The characters were wooden and uninteresting, which also applied to the setting and plot. I literally had to force myself to finish the book. I had high hopes for the new setting, but so far it's not living up to the standards set by Russell Zimmerman and Patrick Goodman with their shorter fiction pieces (both of which I Highly recommend).

On top of the rather lackluster publications in the gaming line, I am considering abandoning the Sixth World once and for all.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Hell on Water
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Shadowrun: The Universal Brotherhood
by Kevin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2015 10:43:13
DO NOT BUY THIS PDF!!!

It is unuseable and most of the pages are not readable! This is actually just trash with a few pages in between.

The book itself is possibly one of the best published works for shadowrun so try to get it from somewhere else, but beware the prizes...

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Universal Brotherhood
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Shadowrun: Arsenal
by Tim D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/01/2015 16:07:25
This is the "second printing", not the "second, corrected printing" as one would expect. So there is no errata included, which is just plain lazy.

My one star rating is therefore just for false information, because DriveThruRPG list the last file update date as "March 17, 2014", whereas the Arsenal errata dates from "September 12, 2008". I therefore expected a version including all corrections, but found none. Very misleading!

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Arsenal
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Shadowrun: Run Faster
by Stanley B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2014 15:18:24
To start off, I've been a big Shadowrun fan for years, and I've been having issues with some of the Fifth Edition books, primarily with editing. The first thing I'd like to say in regard to Run Faster is... Thank you, Catalyst, for turning around the recent slump. I was prepared for this to be my last Shadowrun book, but you've most definitely turned it around.

First off, the editing and layout are great. I think I saw maybe two or three typoes all-in-all, but given the book is two-hundred and fifty-five pages, that's pretty good. Things are easy enough to find, without the wonkiness from Street Grimoire, and a lot of the fluff is great (though I have my quibbles about the write-ups on each metatype and their 'culture'). Those were honestly my biggest concerns. I love the implementation of shapeshifters, the various metavariants (Nartaki and Fomorians for the win) and most especially the Infected. Said section gives you everything you need not just to play an Infected, but to run one for your game. It's easy to tell why the Infected are so dangerous, which is a feeling I love to get when I look at possible threats in my games. My players are going to 'appreciate' this book from a much more amusing perspective (side note; mutaqua are awesome).

The alternate Character Creation options are great to have, especially the Sum to Ten system; it's Priority System, but you are given '10 points' to rank out your Priorities. That lets you do things like have an A/A/C/E/E, or a B/B/B/D/E, which really allows for a lot of customization, either to expand your proficiency or increase your specialization in certain roles (yes, it does make min-maxing a little simpler, but I don't let that rule my table. Common Sense is King.). I didn't run through a Life Module yet, but the ideas seem great; the only concern there is that there's a lot of countries missing that I'd love to see for later use.

Qualities are another great part of the book, and I'm definitely going to be using them. Hobo with a Shotgun is flat-out evocative, Lightning Reflexes finally gives an option to the no-magic, no-'ware types in combat and Witness My Hate definitely provides Direct Spells with some extra punch. There's a whole lot more, but I don't want to spoil them for y'all.

The information regarding Contacts and jobs is some useful stuff to have as well, and I love how it highlights some of the concerns everyone should have about a job, including the Johnson's risks. It's a perspective that doesn't get enough illumination at times. The new Lifestyle bits are useful as well, giving much more options to spruce up your home and make it something more than a monthly expenditure. Finally, there's the kit 'packs' at the end, gear with some modifications and the like that are bundled into simple 2,000-20,000/1-10 Karma purchases so you don't have to do the math. Personally, I enjoy doing the gear math, so I'm not likely to use them. It's great for the people who don't want to bother with it, however. Also, the Mono-whip pack is great; you get a mono-whip, and a year of DocWagon with 1 free resuscitation. Given the concerns with mono-whips, that's just what the doctor ordered.

Overall, I consider this book to be the best Fifth Edition book out as of yet (besides Core), and it doesn't even have loot in it. That's saying something for me. I hope y'all find this review useful.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Run Faster
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BattleTech: Record Sheets: Vehicle Annex, IndustrialMechs & Exoskeletons
by Ron F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/19/2014 14:24:22
I liked it. A good addition to the rest of the Record Sheet line. Nice to finally have the non battlemechs in easy to print format.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Record Sheets: Vehicle Annex, IndustrialMechs & Exoskeletons
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Shadowrun: Critters
by Johannes C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2014 14:32:33
This rating is about the quality of the PDF itself, not the book.

This is a remastered version, with vector graphics for text (does not pixelate on zooming, and the text is black),
and high quality images.

It really is a grab.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Critters
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Shadowrun: Gamemaster's Screen: SR3
by Johannes C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2014 14:30:56
This rating is about the quality of the PDF, not the quality of the screen itself.

The text consists of vector graphics, which means it does not pixelate on zooming in,
and the image is of high quality.

Sadly it is only one of the images that were covering the back of the screen.
I see no reason why the other ones are not in the PDF.

Since this is intended for printing, I guess you could put your own choice of images on the back,
but it is still a shame.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Gamemaster's Screen: SR3
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Shadowrun: Renraku Arcology: Shutdown
by Johannes C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2014 14:28:23
This rating is about the quality of the PDF, since I have not read the book yet.

This is a properly remastered version of the book.
The Images are of very high quality,
and the text is dark, and does not pixelate on zooming in.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Renraku Arcology: Shutdown
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Shadowrun: Harlequin
by Johannes C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2014 14:26:14
The rating is about the quality of the PDF, not the quality of the book itself.

This PDF is a scanned version, not one of the remastered products in the classic Shadowrun product line.

That said, this is a pretty fairly OK scan.

The Images are not that pixelated, and the text is readable,
but sadly the font is in effect a grey tone of colour,
which makes reading harder than it should be.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Harlequin
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Shadowrun: The Universal Brotherhood
by Johannes C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/12/2014 14:20:16
This rating is solely about the quality of the PDF.

Some of the other PDFs of the old Shadowrun product line,
have been remastered properly, with high quality images and text.

This one has not.
It has grainy images, which are either too dark, or too bright,
and text which pixelates to an extreme degree if you zoom in,
which makes reading very hard.

Aside from the Cover image, which looks even worse than the rest of the PDF,
the rest of the book is in black and white,
even parts that are in colour in the original version. (Namely the player supplements)

A scanned version of this book, which I saw in PDF-form, was of a higher quality than this professionally sold one.

I would highly suggest to remaster the PDF of this book,
since it is one of the most well-liked books in the product-line,
and since it is one of the hardest Shadowrun books to get.

Until that time I can not recommend anyone paying money for this PDF.

Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Universal Brotherhood
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