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Shadowrun: Wolf & Buffalo
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2015 06:35:44
Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2015/08/24/tabletop-review-shadowr-
un-wolf-buffalo/

Every runner has an origin story; we just rarely ever hear them. Established characters in the Sixth World canon are generally introduced to us after having been veterans of the shadows for many years. It’s rare a character is seen being exposed to the underbelly of the Oligarchy (or Coporatocracy if you want to be blunt) that controls the planet in the 2070s. Even when you and your chummers make their own PCs for Shadowrun, you rarely act out the origins of a character as you might the embrace of your Vampire: The Masquerade PC. Instead, you just whip up the character and the backstory is either told through sessions via flashbacks, story hooks or general PC conversation. That’s what makes Wolf & Buffalo an interesting piece, as you see a character getting exposed to the harsh reality of life in the shadows with no warning whatsoever and how they react to the insanity of it all. It’s a point of view we rarely get, and so even though much of the perspective is, “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? SO MANY BULLETS! BODY COUNT HIGH! NOT A GOOD DAY!” it’s nice to see something other than a jaded snark filled reaction to corporate fueled gloom and doom.

Lena is your average young teenage girl in the Sioux Nation. She’s got a dysfunctional family, a government that treats her as a second-class citizen since she’s half Anglo (Remember this is the Sioux Nation. In Shadowrun prejudice runs all ways, be it white, black, troll or ghoul.) and a life she was hoping to improve by joining the SDF (I kept reading it as RDF and I was like, “Veritech rip-offs are in CGL’s OTHER game line.”). Unfortunately the government found a cheap out to excuse her for service, even if they didn’t specifically state her rejection was due to not being pure Native American.

Of course, if Wolf and Buffalo was just about late teen angst and the struggles of growing up half-Lakota, half-white, this would be more a tale for Sherman Alexie or Americo Paredes rather than a writer for Shadowrun. Instead we have to have some sort of Catalyst (no pun intended) that brings Lena into life within the shadows. In this case, it’s a smuggling ring gong wrong, the destruction of her family, attempted rape with a side of murder thrown in and a late awakening to her shamanistic potential. That’s quite a lot to be hit with in a single day – and all before she’s legally old enough to vote, to boot.

The rest of the story basically has Lena blundering around, trying to stay alive as people try to kill her and friends try to help her (and die as a result. Seriously, she’s Clementine from The Walking Dead bad in this regard, but far more likeable). Lena finds herself in over her head with talisman smuggling, “demon” summoning and not one but two totems making their presence (and requests) known to her. The end result is a fast paced story with a higher body count than most full-length Shadowrun novels and a story that shows you just how strange life can be in the Sixth World, not to mention how quickly things can change. One minute you might be the mayor of Seattle, and the next, a highly sophisticated A.I. has taken over your body and you’re dropping your pants in public, defecating on a street performer.

Wolf & Buffalo is a really good story and I enjoyed the chaotic nature of the tale. Sure, the protagonist was in over her head, whined constantly and really only survived because everyone else took a bullet (or ritual knife) for her, but it makes sense. I mean, when you were 17/18, could you process being a channel for ancient spirits to funnel magical energies through while being tasked to recover a sacred artifact to your people and dodge heavy fire? No, you’ll probably piss yourself. So Lena is an extremely believable character. Hell, she’s even likeable in spite of being the type of character who’s usually relegated to the supporting role of a story and who you get really annoyed with – especially when they show up in a summer blockbuster. Thankfully good writing saves the day.

That’s not to say the entire story is without fault. I do feel the climax/ending is very weak. Not only is it very similar to the same ending used in the author’s full length novel Borrowed Time (which is really good and you should purchase it), but it involves not one, but TWO Deus Ex Machinas to get the main character out alive. One alone is acceptable, but weak. TWO, however, did have me roll my eyes and wish for something better. So a great start, but a really weak finish. The end does detract from the overall quality of the story, but it’s still a good read and worth getting if you’re a Shadowrun fan.

Finally, as this is a piece of “Enhanced Fiction,” we get some stat blocks at the end of the book. This is another weak area. I love that the main character got statted and can be used as an NPC in your own adventures. The second character, however, dies in the book, so I don’t see the point of giving them half a page of stats. I’d have given this to one of Lena’s friends that survived (or anyone who survived the story really) as that would be more useful overall. The two stat blocks are the only “crunch” you’ll get in this, so hopefully you’re just looking for a fine short story that allows you to spend some free time in the Sixth World. With a price tag of only three bucks, you’ll certainly get your money’s worth with Wolf & Buffalo.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Dirk L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2015 16:37:28
This is what a Shadowrun novel should be like.

Shaken tells a story in the life of PI/vigilante/runner Jimmy Kinkaid, a near-burnout street mage with an attitude, the mentor to match, and the hots for his ally spirit. This alone all but guarantees I like this book. But it's narrated interestingly, the protagonist is appropriately biased, the book does give him is share of sucker-punches - and I really like the narrative flow, even if it may seem a little slow to some. It's not Michael Bay, it's Fargo. It's a voyage through the decrepit, broken world of Jimmy Kinkaid and damn, it's a nice ride.

The best part about this novel - and I'm saying this on top of excellent immersion, well-written characters, and similar world-building - is the fact it is very Noir, very hard-boiled, without neglecting typical tropes and elements of cyberpunk in general and Shadowrun in particular. Jimmy Kincaid is the archetypical Noir protagonist - an anti-hero, a broken, damaged man, struggling as best as he can to stem both the darkness of the world around and the darkness within himself. It also has a detective story, well-executed twists and turns, and a well fleshed out world that is a protagonist in itself (I'm such a sucker for off-hand brand drops), it has an unreachable femme fatale (with a twist that resonates popular fandom jokes without being obnoxious about it - a feat to pull off in itself), well-scaled action scenes and a resolution that, while satisfying for the reader, may not entirely be for the protagonist. Classic.

Now, I've always felt Cyberpunk was more Noir in the digital age than Science Fiction. In Cyberpunk, for all that technology and exotic-hypermodern surface gloss, the heart of the story is deeply human - it's about alienation, about handling the invasion of life by technology, about losing one's self by replacing oneself with technology. It's made of tales of the human condition, much more in the tradition of American Gothic (which largely shares Cyberpunk's neophobia) and Romantic literature than classic Science Fiction with it's libertarian, modernist technophilia that sees technology as the salvation of mankind (Transhumanism would fit the same technological niche Cyberpunk occupies with a more traditional Science Fiction narrative). With its heavily Noir attitude, using most, if not all, classic tropes, and its adherence to classic Noir tales, Shaken (no Job too small) is all I could have asked from a Shadowrun novel, and much more - it could (and would deserve to) stand on its own as a work in Cyberpunk, rather than be considered 'just' a francise book. It's made of the best the world of Shadowrun has to offer, in a way that hasn't been around since the passing of Nigel Findley (in the same way Harebrained Schemes' writing does when at the top of their game).

A great one. If you want to buy any Shadowrun novel to get into this rich and weird world, make it this one.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
by Carl L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2015 11:25:02
I skipped around this book to see if some of the problems I had with 4th Ed. had been addressed. So when I came across the Gear section and saw how they had added even more tedious BS involving the PAN, including how you could change the color of some guns if they were inked to said PAN, honestly I put the tablet down and haven't looked at it since.

I did see something of how they added in benefits for Adepts having Totems, which has been a want for SR fans since 1st Ed., so good on them for that.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook
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Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
by Martin F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/07/2015 07:33:14
the amount of detail in the book is awesome, but good luck finding it

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
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BattleTech: Experimental Technical Readout: Royal Fantasy
by Johnathan B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 21:23:07
A solid, funny way to reprint the old Solaris maps and rules for a new generation of players. An excellent free resource.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Experimental Technical Readout: Royal Fantasy
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by John H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/03/2015 05:50:02
This product is being sold on a false pretense that borderlines on being a marketing scheme. You'd think TRO3150 means this product contains new 'Mechs and whatnot. It's really just a recollection of all the individual faction specific 3145 mini-TRO's.

If you already own the TRO3145 collection, you don't need to buy this blatant cash cow product.

I was expecting NEW material for an advancing timeline. What I got was a mirror copy of stuff I already bought in the past.

Bad sportsmanship Catalyst... I expected better from you, but now I know you're no different from the common chattel.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
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Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Cheyenne
by Kent C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/31/2015 13:16:21
Very good supplement to the Shadowrun universe. Looking forward to the rest that are to come out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shadows in Focus: Cheyenne
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by robert l. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2015 16:05:03
all I can say is about this book is..."it's about time". Shadowrun has been going down hill, especially with the launch failure of their collaborative effort with cliffhanger's over shadowrun chronicles as well as the whole, shall we say the less than popular CDF concept. It nice to see that their is some quality left in this game and this book is one of them. An old school "dic" with a modern twist..nice. Overall, its a novel that won't disappoint.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by Trevor R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/22/2015 10:13:31
Compared to TRO 3145 there is hardly anything new in the product, you read its description and you're expecting new design's, tech etc.. and it fails badly.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Roman K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2015 12:49:18
Wow.

Just... just wow.

I'll explain - any experienced Shadowrun fan will tell you that, by and large, most Shadowrun fiction of old isn't that great. There are some truly fantastic books, but most are actually quite middling at best, with a focus on quantity. This was common in many tabletop RPG houses back in the late 80s and 90s - more books, rather than less books with a higher quality.

This is not one of those books.

To start with, Catalyst have collected and published a truly very high quality set of novels for the new Shadowrun line - fantastic stuff, guys! Keep at it! Better late than never. I'm thoroughly enjoying the past year, even if it's not actually the right year.

Anyways, this is the veritable cherry on top - hardboiled detective fiction (in an urban near-future fantasy world), *far* more Marlowe than Dresden or even Nigel Findley's (RIP) Dirk Montgomery. And it works, with deep character development, a very well crafted Mary Sue motif that spins around itself to reveal humanity at its flawed core.

Hardboiled, action, a pretty awesome detective story, and great character design, never mind the writing quality (which is superb). This is quite possibly the best Shadowrun novel I've read in my life - a position I once firmly gave to Findley's 2XS.

If you're a Shadowrun fan, go buy and read this.
If you're a detective fiction fan, go buy and read this.
Cyberpunk fan? Like urban fantasy? Yeah, you should probably buy and read this, too.
Heck, want to experience something new? Yeah, probably not the best introduction to the setting, but get it anyway - we'll talk about ironing out the background info post-fact once you're hooked.

Want a smaller sample? Go and snag Neat by the same author - great novella, and it ties into the same locations, characters, and story as this novel. In fact, go get that one either way.

Mr. Zimmerman, I have no idea why CGL have been basically hiding you until relatively recently. I realize that writing novels isn't much of a stable day job, but you should really be doing a lot more of it.

Thanks for a wonderful experience, and keep up the good work. Looking forward to anything else of yours that may hit the market.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
by James C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/21/2015 01:35:55
Buyer beware this is not new material or anything that really advances the storyline. I bought it impulsively without seeing the preview thinking it was going to be unseen units and was greatly dissapointed

In a nutshell it's a compulation of units from the other 3145 sources that didn't already make it into TRO3145. That includes the faction specific PDFs, Field Manuals, Era Reports, and some other sourcebooks.

It also means there is nothing new in here unit wise. However just like the print version of the other 3145 TROs the units in here do get new famous pilot, and variant write ups.

There's also a section on variants of older mech models that I have not seen before.

Overall had the product description and name not been quite as uninformative and or misleading this would actually be a good product.

Finally if you prefer dead tree books to the many PDFs then you'll likely want to pick this up as will compile the until now PDF only units into a print edition at last.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Technical Readout: 3150
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Joseph J T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/20/2015 20:05:58
Shaken: No Job Too Small is my favorite of the recent batch of Shadowrun fiction. The story of Jimmy Kincaid resonates with both my love of Shadowrun and my love of noir fiction. The character is genre savvy enough that he views his life through a black and white filter on his cybereyes. Little details like that really draw me into a story. It's a very personal story too, and I love learning more about Kincaid. It doesn't skimp on the rest of the world though, and I love the climax too. My favorite thing about Zimmerman's style is that the way he writes, I can see it in game terms too. There were some spots where I was like "Kincaid totally just spent Edge."If you're gonna start with any of the recent Shadowrun novels, start with this one. You won't be disappointed. Mr. Zimmerman is a fine predecessor to the legends of Shadowrun fiction like Nigel Findley. 5/5 would read again.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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Shadowrun: Run & Gun
by Roger (. L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/20/2015 09:01:17
http://www.teilzeithelden.de/2015/07/20/rezension-kreuzfeuer-
rungun-der-weg-des-kriegers-shadowrun-5/

Vorweg sei erstmal kurz festgestellt, was Kreuzfeuer nicht ist: ein Ausrüstungsbuch. Das möchte man vielleicht glauben, wenn man an den Namensvetter aus der zweiten Edition denkt (wir erinnern uns an das Titelbild von Luis Royo, das so gar nichts von seinem eigentlichen Können zeigte).

Kreuzfeuer oder auch Run & Gun (auf englisch - das Werk aus der zweiten Edition hieß Fields of Fire im Original) ist das ergänzende Regelbuch rund um den Kampf bei Shadowrun 5. Während ich diese Zeilen schreibe, liegen mir die englische Fassung als PDF und die deutsche Fassung als gedrucktes Werk vor.

Inhalt

Es ist ja nicht so, als würde der von „Gun-“ oder „Equipment-Porn“ verwöhnte Spieler ganz ohne neue Ausrüstung auskommen. Von den insgesamt 216 Seiten gehört gut ein Drittel dem Spielzeug. Den Rest teilen sich vier umfangreiche Regelabschnitte und die Prosa drum herum.

Kampf in den Schatten / Combat in the shadows

Den Anfang macht eine kurze Einführung über Sinn und Unsinn des Kampfes. Dabei versucht der Text aus der Sicht eines Runners ein paar Grundregeln zu definieren, die von Spielern als Anleitungen aufgefasst werden können, aber nicht müssen. Generell mag ich die Ideen hinter den Tipps, weil es für die ganze Runde hilfreich ist, sich auf ein Ideal zu einigen. Andererseits habe ich auch immer wieder Spieler erlebt, die sehr dogmatisch an solche Sachen gehen und die menschliche Seite ihrer Figur vermissen lassen. Was auch dieser Text nicht kann, ist darauf hinzuweisen, dass der typische Runner im Eifer des Gefechtes eben nicht das Einmaleins des Kampfes runterbeten kann.

Arsenal

Hier geht es in die Einkaufsabteilung des Buches. Dabei werden nicht nur bekannte Waffen aus vorherigen Editionen mit neuen Regeln vorgestellt, sondern auch Zubehör (z.B. Vordergriff), Munition (EX-Explosiv ist wieder da!) und modische Kleidung Panzerungen für jede Gelegenheit. Es gibt insgesamt wenig Überraschungen und auch keinen Spielverderber, wie die Überwaffe oder ähnliches.

Das besondere an diesem Kapitel ist nicht nur die reichhaltige Bebilderung, sondern die schicke und vollfarbige Bebilderung. Im Vergleich zum Arsenal-Quellenbuch aus der vierten Edition schneidet dieses Kapitel bestens ab.

Meine Favoriten aus dem Abschnitt sind auf jeden Fall der Täuschungspanzer (er blutet, auch wenn Du es nicht tust), das Gürtelschwert (erinnert an die Flatspace-Technologie aus dem gar nicht mal so guten Film Ultraviolet) und die Unterlauf-Kettensäge (sic!).

Taktik und Handwerkszeug / Tactics & Tools

Hier geht es ans Eingemachte. Spieler werden hier an die Hand genommen, um ihren Platz in einem Kampf zu finden und zu behaupten. Es geht um die Befehlskette, Rollen und Redundanz. Die Beschreibungen wirken militärisch und idealisiert und nicht alles davon lässt sich in einem plötzlichen, kurzen und dreckigen Gefecht nutzen. Aber es bietet eine gute Basis, vor allem für den Kämpfer in der Runde. Gleichzeitig hat der Spielleiter etwas, um ohne große taktische Kenntnis Antagonisten professionell auftreten lassen zu können.

Die Krönung bietet die angewandte Taktik kleiner Einheiten in Form der Beschreibung eines knappen Dutzend an Kampfmanövern. Zur Durchführung wird eine spezielle Teamworkprobe fällig, bei deren Gelingen sich eine Wirkung in Form von Boni bei Initiative, Angriffsproben oder ähnlichem entfaltet. Dazu werden ein paar Gadgets vorgestellt, die zu den verschiedenen Manövern passen beziehungsweise die Erfolgswahrscheinlichkeit erhöhen können. Mit dabei sind Teleskopspiegel, Industriegleitmittel oder auch das taktische Netzwerk. Wie auch in vorherigen Editionen ist das PI-Tac (früher auch als Tacnet bekannt) ein ordentlicher Schub für jedes Team, das eine derartige Software trotz schwerer Verfügbarkeit und exorbitanter Preise in die Hände bekommt. Hier lohnt sich ein Blick ins Errata, da die Preise des PI-Tac in beiden vorliegenden Werken überholt sind (aus giga-teuer wird „nur“ mega-teuer).

Spätestens mit diesem Kapitel wird klar, dass die starke Vertiefung des Schwerpunktes rund um den Kampf nicht für jeden Spieler oder gar für jede Runde eine sinnvolle Erweiterung ist. Es bedarf mindestens eines Charakters mit einem entsprechenden Schwerpunkt und Hintergrund, um diese Optionen sinnvoll in die Runde zu integrieren. Und damit das Ganze funktioniert, müssen alle Teammitglieder mitziehen und Entsprechendes trainieren. Das passt vermutlich nicht zum Verständnis jeder Runde von Shadowrunnern, bietet dann aber auf jeden Fall eine sinnvolle Erweiterung für die Gegenseite.

Kampftechniken & Spezial Treffer / Killshots and more

Dieses Kapitel will die Optionen im Kampf durch neue oder alternative Regeln erweitern und beginnt - für meinen Geschmack genau richtig - mit einem Essay darüber, wie man das richtige Maß für seine Spielrunde findet. Allzu häufig findet man auch heute noch Spielleiter, die sehr dogmatisch mit Regeln oder ihren Wünschen umgehen und da ist diese eingebaute Sensibilisierung überaus sinnvoll.

Denn dann geht es darum, den Schwierigkeitsgrad in allen möglichen Bereichen anzupassen. Mehr Handlungen pro Phase? Initiative wie in den ersten Editionen? An Panzerung vorbeischießen? Tödlicher geht immer. Und ergänzend bietet dieses Kapitel eine Kurzübersicht über die ohnehin nicht wenigen Einflussfaktoren aus dem Grundregelwerk, die eine Spielrunde ohne neue Regeloptionen als Stellschrauben im Kampf nutzen kann.

Es werden neue Optionen bei „Angesagten Zielen“ vorgestellt wie auch spezielle Angriffsarten, die sich zum Teil auf Spezialmunition bezieht (z.B. mit Leuchtspurmuni etwas brennbares anzünden oder jemanden durch eine Wunde Blut in die Augen laufen lassen, um ihn zu blenden). Neu sind Trefferzonen mit speziellen Effekten bei Schaden. Neben den 16 (sic!) bei Menschen, wird dieses Konzept auch auf Fahrzeuge erweitert. Und dann folgen neue Handlungsoptionen im Kampf wie „Präventives Parieren“ oder sich „In Deckung werfen“.

Das sind eine Menge neuer Möglichkeiten, die aber im Grunde nicht neu sind. Jede Spielrunde wird früher oder später auf entsprechende Aktionen gestoßen sein und oft wird man sich schnell auf eine Probe und eine Schwelle geeinigte haben und fertig. Neue Regeln mögen inspirieren oder auch einem Disput vorbeugen, bedeuten aber zuerst einmal, dass es mehr zu lernen gibt. Ob das eine sinnvolle Ergänzung für ein sowieso schon als äußerst regelumfassend verschrienes Rollenspiel ist?

In diesem Kapitel gibt es allerdings auch ein paar Bereiche, die mich gleich mitnehmen. Das wären zum einen weitere Optionen für die Verwendung von Edge wie zum Beispiel zu Gunsten eines Teammitgliedes (ich vermisse den Team-Karmapool aus früheren Editionen). Und dann kommt noch eine Seite von neuen Vor- und Nachteilen, die einem allerdings natürlich erst dann helfen, wenn es um die Erschaffung eines neuen Charakters geht - wobei es sicherlich auch Spielrunden gibt, die ein neues Regelwerk oder Quellenbuch hin und wieder für ein Refurbishing der Spielrunde nutzen (ich, zum Beispiel).

Der vorletzte Teil in diesem Kapitel befasst sich mit Kampfkünsten. Auch diese kennt der Fan früherer Editionen schon, aber das neue Gewandt ist runder denn je - und deutlich umfassender. Über 40 Stile werden präsentiert, die sich als etwas Eigenständiges (keine Fertigkeit) erlernen lassen und einem dann das Erlernen von Techniken gewähren, die zu dem Stil passen. Dabei geht es nicht nur um den bewaffneten oder waffenlosen Nahkampf. Es geht auch um den Einsatz von Pistolen, Akrobatik oder Bögen. Unter dem Strich geht es dennoch komplett um im Kampf verwendbare Manöver, aber ich mag die Idee, einen Shadowrunner oder NSC mit dem Stil „Parcours“, „Gun Kata“ (Equilibrium lässt grüßen) oder „Cowboykampf“ (immer ein Lasso am Mann!) auszustatten. Die verfügbaren Techniken beziehen sich dabei allerdings häufig auf im Abschnitt davor vorgestellte Optionen, die man dann zumindest mit der Verwendung der Technik einführen muss, will man Kampfkünste überhaupt in seiner Runde haben.

Als Ergänzung zu den „Angesagten Zielen“ gibt es zum Schluss noch einen etwa einseitigen Abschnitt über das Reparieren spezieller Schäden, der die Regeln aus dem Grundregelwerk der vorgestellten Schadensoptionen wegen erweitert.

Am Leben bleiben / Staying alive

Hierbei handelt es sich um ein klassisches Spielleiter-Kapitel, das sich um die Beschreibung von nicht-alltäglichen Umgebungen dreht. Hitze, Kälte, verseuchte Orte, Orte unter Wasser oder im All. Dabei wird dies nicht nur von der weltlichen Seite beleuchtet, die allerlei Probleme und Gefahren birgt (inklusive Langzeitfolgen), sondern immer auch von der astralen. Als Bonus werden in roten Boxen verschiedene interessante Beispielorte in den benannten Gefahrengebieten vorgestellt, die als Inspiration oder Schauplatz für Abenteuer dienen können.

Die abschließend beschriebenen Vor- und Nachteile sind speziell auf diese besonderen Umgebungen abgestimmt und deshalb nur für entsprechend spezielle Kampagnen brauchbar. Vermutlich hat man diese deshalb nicht mit den wenige Seiten davor aufgeführten Vor- und Nachteilen zusammengeworfen.

Sprengstoffe für Fortgeschrittene / Blow up good

Wie der Titel schon sagt, geht es um erweiterte Regeln zu Sprengstoffen. Dabei werden zu Beginn die Schwierigkeiten beschrieben, die alleine schon der Erwerb mit sich bringen kann und anschließend werden die verschiedenen Anwendungsmöglichkeiten kurz geschildert und Möglichkeiten beschrieben, eigenen Sprengstoff herzustellen.

Die eigentlichen Regelerweiterungen beginnen damit, was für Auswirkungen eine Sprengung für die Hintergrundstrahlung haben kann. Vermutlich werden Spieler aufgrund der dafür notwendigen Schadenshöhe nur selten zu den Verursachern gehören, der Spielleiter hat hier aber ein grobes Maß dafür, wie Katastrophen den erwachten Spielfiguren das Leben schwer machen.

Greifbarer ist der folgende Abschnitt über Anbringung und Timing von Sprengladungen, damit Gebäude, Fahrzeuge oder Gegenstände beschädigt oder zerstört werden. Im Grundbuch gab es bisher nur Struktur und Panzerungswerte nach Materialart, was es trotz aller Rechenregeln einer Spielrunde schwer machte, sich vorzustellen, wie etwas komplexeres als eine Tür oder Wand angegangen werden sollte. Hier wird auf gut zwölf Seiten vom Gebäudeabbruch über die Autobombe bis zur Schneidladung alles Wissenswerte vorgestellt. Gleich darauf wird Material und Zubehör mit Beschreibungen und Preisen aufgeführt.

Anhang

Den Abschluss bilden Tabellen für die Ausrüstung, die nicht nur das in diesem Buch vorgestellte Material beinhalten, sondern auch die Dinge aus dem Grundregelwerk (Waffen, Panzerung und Zubehör). Dann folgt noch ein Cheat-Sheet zu einigen Optionen, dessen Umfang aus dem entsprechenden Kapitel von anderthalb Seiten auf eine Seite komprimiert wurde - meiner Meinung nach ziemlich unsinnig.

Vor dem eigentlichen Ende des Buches folgen in der deutschen gedruckten Ausgabe, wie auch im englischen PDF, noch zwei Seiten Werbung. Dann hat man es geschafft.

Preis- /Leistungsverhältnis

Mehr als 200 Seiten Ergänzungen und Optionen für 19,95 EUR ist absolut marktüblich. Bedenkt man die aufwändige Aufmachung der deutschen Ausgabe, ist der Preis unter dem, was hätte erwartet werden können. Mit dem deutschen Grundregelwerk, das für den gleichen Preis fast 500 Seiten liefert, darf man das natürlich nicht vergleichen.

Das englischsprachige PDF erhält man aktuell bei DriveThruRPG für 24,99 USD. Der Preis ist ebenfalls angemessen, vor allem, wenn man die Preispolitik von Pegasus Spiele für die deutschen Versionen nicht damit vergleicht. 49,99 USD für die gedruckte englische Version beim von CGL bevorzugten BattleShop würde ich allerdings nicht ausgeben, eher vielleicht 36,95 EUR, die der Sphärenmeister dafür verlangt.

Erscheinungsbild

Wie schon angedeutet, kann man über die Optik des Buches nicht klagen. Es ist komplett vollfarbig im bekannten Design von Shadowrun 5 gehalten und hat zahllose Bilder zu Ausrüstung und Szenen, die durchweg von guter Qualität sind.

Bei der gedruckten deutschen Version kommt noch hinzu, dass auf dem Buchdeckel vorne und hinten sowie auf dem Buchrücken Logo, Titel und Umrandung als Relief ins Buch gedruckt wurden, was die Wertigkeit zusätzlich erhöht. Anderswo bekommt man so etwas nur im Rahmen einer teuren Sonderedition.



Bonus/Downloadcontent

Es gibt zur englischen Version bereits ein herunterladbares Errata, das größtenteils aber nicht vollständig in das deutsche Kreuzfeuer eingearbeitet wurde. Für dieses gibt es aktuell noch kein offizielles Errata, aber natürlich einen entsprechenden Sammelthread im Pegasus-SR5-Forum.

Fazit

Kreuzfeuer wie auch Run & Gun sind in vielerlei Hinsicht schwere Kost. Zum einen, weil fast jede Seite interessante Möglichkeiten bietet, das Grundregelwerk aufzubohren. Zum anderen aber natürlich auch, weil das Buch den Anspruch hat, die komplexen Regeln noch ein wenig komplexer zu machen.

Der Schwerpunkt liegt hier natürlich bei dem Kämpfer, den vermutlich jede Runde mindestens ein Mal im Team vertreten hat und der kann, darf und muss das Buch verschlingen. Ob er allerdings mit dessen Hilfe aus der Bande von Individuen, die ein Team aus Shadowrunnern ja nun mal meist ist, eine schlagkräftige Kampfeinheit macht, wie es das Buch offeriert, bleibt der Konstitution der Spielrunden oder des Teams überlassen.

Aber selbst wenn die Gruppe nur wenige Teile des Buches für sich vereinnahmt, hat der Spielleiter hiermit die Möglichkeit, bei der Opposition noch mal eine Schippe drauf zu legen, indem er sie nach allen Regeln der Kunst des Buches effektiver und tödlicher macht und so vielleicht die Spielercharaktere dazu zwingt, nachzuziehen.

Allerdings gibt es etwas, was mir in dem Buch gefehlt hat. Und das sind die Optionen, die es der Spielrunde ermöglichen, genau die andere Richtung zu wählen und die im Grundregelwerk vorgestellten Kampfabläufe zu vereinfachen oder zu abstrahieren. Meiner Meinung nach sollte das ein Standardwerk des Kampfes, das dieses Buch ja sein will, leisten können. Andererseits ist dieser Wunsch vielleicht auch mehr meinem Alter und der schwindenden Kapazität für komplexe Regelsysteme geschuldet.

Dennoch ist klar: Wer sich Shadowrun in seiner aktuellen fünften Edition mit Haut und Haaren ergibt oder für seine Runde nach neuen Herausforderungen sucht, wird auf jeden Fall nicht an dem Core Combat Rulebook herumkommen.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Run & Gun
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Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
by William J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/18/2015 13:17:27
This book is actually pretty good.

Its content is honestly almost everything I'd want from a book like this. New cyberware, new bioware, new genetech, new nanotech, and the return of many classics. Some amazing new qualities and life modules. It has advance medicine rules and the return of "brain hacking." But strangely no rules for severe trauma, which was one of my favorite optional rules from SR4's Augmentation. There are also expanded rules for drugs. Not just new drugs but custom made drugs too.

It starts off with some great fluff about an elf that became a Street Samurai, and the danger of watching your close friend turn into a meat sack housing a psychotic AI. A lot of people complain about fluff in the core rule supplements, but screw them. Fluff is awesome and helps set the world. With that said, there might be a bit too much fluff. The first 50 pages are pretty much pure fluff, and that's just a lot to take in when I want to start seeing the meat and potatoes of the book.

There are however many downsides to the book. The threat section talks about a lot of awesome classical threats, like the advancements made in cyber zombies, but there are no rules for them! And it's true that the SR4 rules for them are still entirely applicable to SR5, but still seeing the rules updated for SR5 would be nice. The Table of Content is also total garbage and is pretty much unusable.

Over all, the content is what I want to see, and if you're playing anyone that might want some ware installed into their meat body, you should pick this up. It's well worth it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh
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Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/12/2015 18:50:00
Originally reviewed at:

I try to never mention an author by name when I review something, just in case a piece is negative or critical, lest the creator think it’s a personal or mean-spirited attack on them – especially if I end up pooh-poohing several of their pieces in a row. I do need to mention, though, that I really like Russell Zimmerman’s work. Enough that he’s won awards from us here at Diehard GameFAN for his work on pieces like Elven Blood and the Shadowrun Returns Anthology (along with all the other contributors in that collection). I’ve even contributed money to his crowdfunding efforts for his own FATE based game, Strays. Of course, I’m sure he’ll be the first to tell you that I’ve probably taken a steaming slagpile on some of his stuff as well, but it’s all part of being a critic. I simply bring this up because what you’re about to read is a very positive review, and it’s worth including a preamble that I enjoy Zimmerman’s writing and my support of his Kickstarter, just in case someone thinks there is a bit of bias in this piece. There’s not, but I’m upfront whenever I review someone I’ve donated money to because hey, journalistic integrity. Now, let’s review this novel.

Shaken is not only the latest Shadowrun novel to come out from Catalyst Game Labs, but it’s also the latest piece featuring burned out mage slash ex-Lone Star officer turned paranormal investigator Jimmy Kincaid. As you read through this book, there are numerous references to Zimmerman’s other works, including the aforementioned Elven Blood, but also a lot of other Shadowrun pieces, ranging from Storm Front to The Land of Promise. Most of all though, the book is a direct follow-up to the novella Neat. While you don’t need to read Neat, or any of the other referenced pieces in this novel, it does help to have read them to fully appreciate the book and the characters it contains. I will admit that the book probably loses something if you don’t get all these references, but it’s not like SOME Shadowrun manuals/sourcebooks that not only reference a dozen other expensive tabletop gaming releases, but actively assume you have read and memorized them. So again, you can still enjoy Shaken: No Job Too Small if you haven’t read any other Shadowrun releases. It will still be a good read too, but you aren’t getting the full experience. So you might want to go buy Neat first. It’s short, it’s good and it’s only $2.99. Although CGL would be smart to bundle in a digital copy of Neat with purchases of Shaken for only ninety-nine cents. They’d make a little extra money and move some more copies. Anyway, for those of you who are big Shadowrun fans, expect a lot of famous to somewhat familiar faces to pop up in this novel, in addition to a few less familiar faces.

The first three chapters of Shaken feel VERY different from the rest of the novel. In fact, they read like three stand-alone short stories rather than part of a novel. As such, part of me was expecting this to be a collection of short stories, until I hit Chapter Four and the real story began rolling. So expect a little turbulence at the beginning of the book as the flow changes, not quite abruptly, but enough that you’ll wonder what just happened. The first three chapters aren’t bad. It’s just a different flow and style of storytelling from the rest of the book. It’s more a setup for who Kincaid is, how he thinks, and the way he operates. While these three chapters do feel like they could be short stories in their own right, they do connect back to the larger picture. You’ll just have to be much farther along in the book for those events to circle back around and fold into the overall narrative.

So who is Jimmy Kincaid? In many ways, I view him as a John Constantine analogue for Shadowrun. They look and dress similar, although Kincaid has pointed ears due to being an elf. They both smoke. They’re both quite good as spell-slinging, although Kincaid’s best days are over at the time Shaken occurs. They’re both filled with self-loathing and self-pity, and do paranormal detective work. However, both have a heart of gold and are immensely loyal to their friends, even though they sometimes refuse to admit they actually have any. If you’ve ever read the issue of Hellblazer where Constantine’s friends throw him a birthday party (and he throws up on Phantom Stranger), it reminded me a LOT of a scene in Shaken where the generally morose Kincaid realizes he has a lot of people who like and respect him. Kincaid is NOT a carbon copy of Constantine, though. After all, Kincaid is an ex-cop, has had his magic mostly ripped out of his soul, is much better in a physical fight and is only half the jackass Constantine is. One is British and the other is Pac NW Elven (but not Tir). However, the two are similar enough than if you like Constantine’s movie, TV show or comics, you’ll probably really like Kincaid and he’ll be a great gateway into the Sixth World for you. It also means that I’d read and recommend Zimmerman doing a run on Hellblazer once James Tynion IV finishes his current run on the comic.

The plot of Shaken: No Job Too Small is a bit meandering. It’s not one straight shot from beginning to end like a lot of gaming novels. Instead, Shaken is more like a river. It has a definite beginning and an end point, and when you’re done, the curves, forks and fjords make a lot of sense, but as you read through it, you might be wonder why there is an abrupt change in the story. As mentioned earlier, this is most obvious with those first three chapters, but the book has several about faces where the core focus shifts from one thing to something very different. This is not a bad thing, far from it. This is more a warning that you’re in for a roller coaster of a ride, and as you’re reading, you’ll wonder if a plot point in a much earlier chapter is ever going to be touched on again and then… bam it’ll be back twenty or thirty chapters LATER. I guess what I’m trying to say is that Shaken reads far less like the usual linear two-dimensional licensed fiction that comes from gaming companies (oh god the wretchedness that is Arkham Horror fiction) and far more like a William Gibson novel for those of you who like your cyberpunk-noir blends (and you probably do if you are reading this review!). So the book is more nuanced, and more in-depth than the vast majority of your gaming fiction. So, again, if you like say, Neruomancer and Hellblazer, you’ll like Shaken. If you like something more straightforward and to the point, Shaken‘s going off its own rails, at times, might throw you for a loop.

Shaken has Kincaid not only battling his own personal demons but those of Puyallup, Washington. Now I don’t mean literal demons. Like aliens, that sort of thing doesn’t happen in Shadowrun, but demons take many forms. In the case of Kincaid, his demons are addictions. Cheap hooch, cigarettes and protein shakes. Most of all is his addiction to Ariana, Kincaid’s ally spirit sidekick. Ariana has most of Kincaid’s magical heft since it was ripped from him by a vampire several years ago. So he’s very reliant on her for more than anything except counterspells and some light hocus pocus. At a point in the novel, Ariana goes away (not by choice) and Kincaid is forced to do things on his own for perhaps the first time since college. Although I absolutely hate it when people read things that aren’t there into a book, it was hard not to see this as a metaphor for Kincaid breaking his most powerful addiction of all – reliance on others to do the heavy lifting for him. At the tail end of the novel another ally of Kincaid more or less says this to him in tough love fashion (Skip’s not one for pleasantries), and after Ariana leaves, Kincaid does learn to trust in his remaining magical abilities and even makes a deal with the devil to get more powerful – if he accomplishes a rather daunting goal put forward by a spirit mentor known as Adversary (again, not that Adversary, devils and demons aren’t literal in the Sixth World). In the end, the biggest loss Kincaid can suffer actually makes him stronger, and he learns to be reliant on himself, rather than a crutch – even a sweet, loveable scamp of a crutch. So there is a quasi G.I. Joe “Now I know” moral inserted into the tale – whether it was intentionally planned or just a side effect of the story as it came to life is a question I can’t answer.

The core plot of Shaken has Kincaid hired to solve the murder of his favorite college professor – a murder that the local police have ruled as suicide, even though he appears to be several pints short of blood. Along the way, Kincaid has to deal with Puyallup locals, the mob, the yakuza, the monster that destroyed him magically years ago, a veritable horde of ghouls, shadowrunners, an angry mage with a vendetta against him, his own hermetic order, and of course, the big bad behind the death of his client. That’s a lot to cover in under 300 pages, but Kincaid does it all with his usual panache and grumbling. As I said earlier, all of the above encounters are connected, but it might not seem so obvious while you are reading it for the first time. Shaken is one of those books where you connect a lot of the dots due to hindsight. It’s a very fast paced read with a lot of death and violence, so the action really never dies down.

The story isn’t all hack and slash though. Not by a long shot. Indeed the characterization of the supporting cast and crew is the highlight of the book. As much as I enjoyed Kincaid, there were actually a half dozen other characters I found I liked better and wanted to read more about. If anything convinced me that Martin De Vries, Street Legend and Van Helsing meets Vampire Hunter D of the 2070s could easily support his own novel, it was his appearances in Shaken. I also loved the character of Gentry, who I think could support his own novel or short story as well. He’s a wacky decker who is equal parts Johnny Mundo, human that grew up in an elvish community (The Tir to be exact) and 90s bike courier. I really liked him and hoped he would end up being Kincaid’s wacky sidekick. He didn’t, but I was happy to see he came back about twenty chapters after he first appeared and play an important role in the climax of Shaken. There was Pinkerton, a black dwarf who shares a similar back story to Kincaid but without the magic and a lot of the gloom and doom angst. I think he’d be a fun character to get the spotlight at some point. Even a very minor character such as the homeless teenage dwarf Gem had potential for more to be written about, as there were story threads about that character left dangling. Seriously, she only appears in one or two chapters, and yet she’s so well written, she had more personality and depth to her than some protagonists in other novels. Great writing leads to great characters. Let us just hope that some of the characters you meet in Shaken get to be the stars of their own Sixth World fiction down the road.

So there you go. I’ve tried to be spoiler free, because there are a lot of twists and turns in the novel (even if the killer of Kincaid’s client was apparent to me right away. I can’t say why, but it just kind of leapt out at me.) and I want you to be able to enjoy this book. It’s a fantastic look at Shadowrun, and even if you’re in the midst of an Editions Wars or you don’t like the mechanics of the game, you can still sit down with this novel and have a good time reading it. Like Borrowed Time, Shaken: No Job Too Small is a reminder of the glory days of Shadowrun novels that we had back in the 90s. With two terrific books that are amongst the best gaming fiction released this year, this is shaping up to be the best time to read about Shadowrun in two decades. Let us hope CGL and their writers can keep the streak alive. Go buy this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Shaken (No Job Too Small)
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