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Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana (Advanced Magic Rulebook)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/25/2017 09:46:44

Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana will be on the list to acquire for anyone GMing a magic heavy Shadowrun campaign, both for useful background information on what is happening with magic and new things to play with. For players, sightly less useful but there is still a lot of good information and interesting options for characters here. Overall, one of the more solid works to come out of for Shadowrun lately.

Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana are the Advanced Magic Rules for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, expanding on the earlier rules presented in the Street Grimoire (which is required to use several sections of this work).

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it begins with a section called Seeing the Invisible World which talks about how non-magical people perceive magic with a variety of (in game) first hand accounts of encounters with magic. This is useful for both for players and GMs when describing magical effects to characters who cannot directly see magic.

The Magic Mastery section is the character option section starting with new Mastery Qualities representing the ability to manipulate magic in refined ways all of which have requirements, usually skill based, and which can be acquired after character creation (which is good as many of them have steep requirements) at no increase in cost. Some of these provide interesting options, from improved alchemy to allowing mundanes to assist with rituals and new options for peace makers, which are rare in most game systems. New focused spellcasters: elementalist, hedge witch/wizard, null mage and seer provide more ways to have character to use a narrow section of magic. There is new metamagic, including way for characters to flip to insect or toxic shamanism, most of which builds on that presented in the Street Grimoire but tarot magic and necro magic is new to this book. Aspected magicians are expanded with new options for “apprentices,” enchanters, explorers and the barely magical Aware. Of course, there are new spells, including one that manipulates gravity(!) and a few new rituals, including the necro-magic one that creates animated dead things, always good for a scare.

Traditions talks about, well, traditions and how there are changing under the effects of Unified Magical Theory (UMT) and its effects on existing traditions, updating seven existing traditions which include some radical changes to how some of them work which may cause problems in an ongoing campaign with practitioners of these traditions. Some advice for GMs on how to incorporate (or not) the way these traditions change for existing characters would have been helpful. The eleven new traditions cover a lot of ground and variety, from cosmic to green (plant) magic, Olympian gods to Tarot, red (animal) and necro magic, good tools for players and GMs alike. Fourteen new mentor spirits are presented, including one for religions Holy Text, and alternate versions of three existing totems (rat, spider and wolf) are included again, providing some strong new options for those using mentor spirits. Magic oddities introduces the possibility of hybrid traditions and rules for an awakened martial art (Way of Unified Mana Hapsum-do). A section on magical demographics, i.e. how many magically active people are out there?, rounds out this section and is an interesting read.

No prize for guessing what is in the Blood Magic section, this builds on the rule presented in the Street Grimoire and tries to restrict the use of blood magic as well as presenting a noble path (self-sacrifice) that uses blood magic. There is a lot of information on how blood magic works, what sorts of people are drawn to using it and the dangers of doing so. Additionally, there are new blood magic spells and rituals, blood crystals (functionally magical cyberware) and new spirits (bone spirits and blood shades). Lastly, there is the addiction danger of blood magic which will turn the user of blood magic into a remorseless and casual killer if they succumb. Placing limits on blood magic, social and cultural as well as mechanical, is a good call as maybe that will keep players from messing with it.

Where the Wild Things are drops back into UMT and how that has affected the application of magic and spirits in the Sixth World and what (may have) been behind the explosion in the number of wild spirits in the world and the new sorts of spirts than have been appearing including the spirits of beast, radio waves and vehicles! So much fun to have with spirit here. Then, then, a huge amount of metaplot partly revealed through in-game world discussion. This section concludes with statistics for the new spirit types and new rules for summoning and negotiating with wild spirits.

Advanced Alchemy is just that, with a discussion of corporate alchemy, new reagents, new tools, compounds (which are new ways to use alchemy) and preparations (which are common ways spells are bound into alchemical items). All of which give the alchemist considerably greater flexibility and utility which they sorely needed. A short discussion on how the “dark traditions” (blood, insects and toxic) use alchemy to leverage their forms of magic in ugly but effective ways. Research, Rumors and Legends are five bit of knowledge which, unusually but usefully, each come with a set of adventures seeds both for groups with or without an alchemist in them. This section ends with some brief advice for the shadowrunning alchemist, basic but solid.

The entire book ends with an index of all of the new things included inside.

Forbidden Arcana is a useful resource for any Shadowrun campaign in which magic plays a major role and even in those where it is just a background element, it is a useful book for the GMs shelf. It does provide considerable support for alchemist characters and anyone playing such will want at least access to this book (a gift for you GM maybe?) but that is probably is not worth the purchase price alone.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana (Advanced Magic Rulebook)
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Shadowrun: The Assassin's Primer
by Nick B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/11/2017 01:04:51

Mostly fluff, with just a little bit of crunch. In comparison to other SR supplements, you almost get what you pay for.

It's mostly advice for for players and GMs on assassin-type characters in the format of a Jackpoint post, but little to supplement actual gameplay.

While I feel that the fluff is pretty decent for what you get, I just can't feel justified in giving this a good reccomendation. If this had included a few more pages of rules or equipment than it might be worth the asking price, but what you get should have been free or Pay What You Want.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: The Assassin's Primer
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Shadowrun: Cutting Aces (Deep Shadows Sourcebook)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2017 14:52:35

Shadowrun: Cutting Aces is a sourcebook for Shadowrun and provides an odd mixed bag of information on the metaplot and setting which providing more options for social-based characters and challenges. As it covers some neglected aspects of the Shadowrun world, such as the Middle East and social skills, it is probably a good investment for a GM but the book is so unfocused unless cons or Constantinople are the focus of your campaign, I cannot say that it should be a priority to acquire.

Shadowrun: Cutting Aces, is a Deep Shadows Sourcebook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, this particular book covers a variety of sins, confidence games and swindlers, Constantinople (formerly Istanbul) and a bit more about current events in the Sixth World.

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then moves into what is going on with the big megacorporations and the world, including the special election for the Governor of the Seattle Metroplex, what is going on with Spinrad Industries in the Middle East, too much news from Faerie, and -perhaps most importantly- what sorts of cons (and thus scenarios) the situations exposed are ripe for.

Next we have Constantinople, in all its glory, which lacks that most useful of props, a map of the city, the two and a half pages spent on the pre-21st century history of the city would have been better used for maps. Oddly, the Constantinople at a Glance sidebar neglects to mention what languages are used in the city. The city is full of interesting places and adventure potential and the new information blocks for NPCs scattered throughout look useful. It is rather off the usual beaten path for Shadowrunners and while the adventure seeds are interesting, more ways to tie the city into an ongoing campaign would have been useful.

After another fiction section, there is Alibi Artists of Constantinople, twelve interesting NPCs done in traditional NPC stat blocks, not the one used in the previous section which contains some information that should be folded into any NPC that can be used into a contact. This section then has a selection of life modules for those who wish to play confidence artists (and use that alternate character generation method).

The Art of Confidence covers just that, running down the basics of short and long cons. It is mostly a list of traditional cons, sometime with more modern names, and some idea of how they run. At best an overview of the subject but sufficient for the purpose of most games.

Gat and Glad Rags is the toys section with new weapons, clothing (armored mostly), modification to armor, gear including many things that can be useful in a con (tailored perfume, social subscription software), a handful of smaller drones. Information for Sale lists the price to acquire various types of information that can be of use to con artists and shadowrunners both. A selection of new qualities, both positive and negative, almost all social oriented follows. Next a few new adept powers (three) and spells (four). Then it sets up the expanded social interaction section with new “social maneuvers” that really could have been better defined and structured. And this section then ends with a shift into a list of five character (personality) archetypes.

The next section, the Grifter’s Bible, is the rules section starting with Factional Reputation, that is how particular groups see you and what you can use such reputation for. A good idea but possibly too much of a bookkeeping chore as written. Expended rules for social skills detail, maybe excessively, the value of things when Negotiating prices for services (i.e. a run) or selling gear or information. Rules and structure for using the Con skill to actually run cons. Some advice on using Intimidation in the game. And the world thing ends with a page and a half example of the new social rules in action.

Cutting Aces is a interesting resource providing new tools for the GM, and possibly for the players, but it is scattered, covering a lot of ground in different directions. However, maps for the city and tables for the social maneuvering would have made this product more useful.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Cutting Aces (Deep Shadows Sourcebook)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
by Simon S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/19/2017 15:45:40

No problem with the PDF on Android 7 or latest iOS. I use the built in PDF viewer in Dropbox without a problem. As much as I love the printed books, PDF is so much easier to search.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
by Thomas B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/18/2017 23:12:10

the file was corrupted. If I recive a refund I many consider raising my reivew



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
by Ashlyn C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/12/2017 15:21:19

Completely worthless, won't open on mobile or tablet with either Adobe or Google pdf viewers. Won't ever be using drivethruRPG again.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana (Advanced Magic Rulebook)
by Simon H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/03/2017 20:05:32

Interesting! Not the best shadowrun product ever but it certainly has it's charms. Updates and adds a number of new magic rules and variants, such as sub groups and sub paths, details on various traditions of magic with bonuses and penalties. Newly discovered paths of magic are interesting and the addition of a dark grey but not inherently evil set of blood magic rules feels appropriate for shadowrunners.

There are a few typos here and there, nothing major, and also a couple of rule changes or additions that definitely should be up to the GM if they include them in the game or not (and one which I wondered if it was also a typo. Since when can Mystic Adepts not craft? I agree they're a little overpowered as is but I tend to default to the old fourth edition method of mana OR chi rather then allowing them to buy both for each point of magic). Overall I think it's a worthwhile product... though I hesitate to recommend it to everyone at the current price point. It's not too high but I think it's a little too high for an automatic buy.

One reason I might be going a little easy on this (and I want prospective buyers to be aware of that) is I'm a sucker for the metaplot. Minor Spoiler Alert ,

without giving anything away this book has some interesting metaplot moments, including one which necessitates the involvement of Laughing Man, Wordsmyth, AND Orange Queen.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Forbidden Arcana (Advanced Magic Rulebook)
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BattleTech: House Steiner: The Lyran Commonwealth
by Christopher D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2017 11:32:32

Scan is very poor quality. Also the map for the Steiner planets in the back fold-out was not included in the scan. That is critical for understanding where planets are located, borders with other Houses, etc.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: House Steiner: The Lyran Commonwealth
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BattleTech: Era Digest: Dark Age
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/04/2017 15:33:20

This book gives you information on the early conflicts and state of the Inner Sphere during the early Dark Age era of BattleTech (3131-3135), including notable personalities of splinter groups during that period and a history and timeline of events between 3132 and 3134, as well as two new 'Mechs and a new vehicle. All of this information included in the book is done well for the size of the book.

However, I did find one key problem with the portion regarding making characters in A Time of War. All of the affiliations require Era Report 3145 to create a character (unless your character somehow happens to be from the Deep Periphery or Homeworld Clans). Having purchased this book for that specific reason (and not owning Era Report 3145 or Field Manual 3085), I am very disappointed in that part of the book. The rest of the information about actually role-playing during this era (once you have a character) is done fairly well.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Era Digest: Dark Age
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Shadowrun: Book of the Lost (A Shadowrun Campaign Book)
by Julien P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2017 09:20:15

So, I finished reading Book of the Lost, and I really enjoyed it. Dozens of adventure and campaign ideas formed in my mind as I was reading, which I think was the whole point, but it worked. A lot of the proposed stories and plots are very interesting (and I like how the writers used this opportunity to advance a few old metaplots as well). Even something that could have been silly (Taco Temple) was actually quite intriguing and mysterious. Last but not least, the puzzles and riddles hidden in the cards promise to be a lot of fun (and headaches) for runners and GM alike. Not to mention, of course, Echo Chernik's wonderful art.

That being said, there are two things I didn't like in the book:

  • Lack of clear distinction between chapters that can be read by everyone or are written from an in-universe perspective and chapters that are GM only. It goes back and forth between the two, and there are times when, within the same section of the book, you really can't tell anymore if you're reading Game Information or Jackpoint posts. I prefer when the GM-only info is gathered at the end of the books in a dedicated section.

  • The Power of the Cards chapter. While I understand the need to include something for players who want direct gains from collecting the Tarot cards, the proposed rewards often feel random and sometimes even, well, silly ("Lofwyr’s ten-ton gold coin", really? Does it simply appear from thin air in front of the runners? Yet the first lines of the chapter clearly states teleportation is impossible in Shadowrun...) Fortunately this section is only 9 pages long.

As a whole, the idea of the Tarot, and the kind of adventures and riddles it creates feel original, different and unexpected for Shadowrun. It will definitely be too "out there" for some people, but after nearly 30 years, Shadowrun can benefit from some fresh weirdness. And who knows, it may even have what it takes to become memorable. Time (or the cards) will tell...



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Book of the Lost (A Shadowrun Campaign Book)
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Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
by Donald B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/10/2017 13:12:52

The rules were well organized and clearly written. I liked the examples and stories. I am very glad I have the PDF because it is over 500 pages. This is a complex rule system that can create a wide range of characters. I want more information about the Native American Nations and other political entities beyond the big 10 corporations. It would help me in developing character back stories. It would provide more motivation for developing ideas for campaigns.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Fifth Edition Core Rulebook (Master Index Edition)
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BattleTech: Record Sheets: Total Warfare Style 3055 Upgrade Unabridged
by Michael m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2017 09:27:00

I am glade that they added variants of these mechs that were created in the 3060's. It helped to keep these mechs relevant. That was an upgrade over the old record sheets. The problem is none of the mechs have a price value, but the clan mechs do show free case in there left and right torso.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Record Sheets: Total Warfare Style 3055 Upgrade Unabridged
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BattleTech: Total Warfare Style Record Sheets: 3058 Upgrade Unabridged Inner Sphere
by Michael m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2017 09:18:43

I am glade that they added variants of these mechs that were created in the 3060's. It helped to keep these mechs relevant. That was an upgrade over the old record sheets. I gave it a 4 because they don't have the prices for all the units they are missing the prices for 5 vehicles, and 5 mechs.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Total Warfare Style Record Sheets: 3058 Upgrade Unabridged Inner Sphere
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Shadowrun: Anarchy
by Mark G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/13/2017 16:44:46

The concept of a rules light Shadowrun variant appealed a lot to me, but unfortunately this book follows the approach of not actually trying and planning and testing and making effort to derive a working system with few rules, but just not bothering to write very many rules and then expecting the GM to fill in the holes - and even being snooty about it in the process. There is actually, no kidding, a paragraph that insults the reader if they ask why a particular rule is vague. But hey, don't worry, it's not like that rule's interpretation determines the value of an upgrade which costs 50% of your starting points or anything. Oh, wait..

So, the great "Cue System" that this book is based on, is actually just a very slight variant of the attribute+skill dice pool system from the original SR with most of the details cut out. There are Plot Points, which let you do.. things.. in that the game gives a few examples of things they might do, but not a decent list. That's ok, though, because there are almost no rules at all for how you get them other than "the GM gives them out". There's also Cues, which.. well, do absolutely nothing. Yes, the system is named after something with no effect whatsoever. It vaguely suggests you might write down a few sentences that represent your character to inspire you when you're playing. That's it.

About the only neat concept that does appear here is Shadow Amps. Essentialy, this combines hacking, magic, cyberware, special gear, and all of the other disparate systems from the original Shadowrun into a single system of "stuff which gives you advantages". This could have worked well if what it was attached to wasn't so threadbare.

You don't need this book. If you and your group can RP a cyberpunk game successfully with this faint breath of a system, then you might as well just make everything up as you go along. If you want rules light cyberpunk with systems that have actually thought through how to be rules light, try Interface Zero Fate or The Veil.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Shadowrun: Anarchy
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BattleTech: Record Sheets: 3058 Upgrade
by Michael m. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/13/2017 15:55:05

Garbage don't buy, you only get 1 example of each mech, it is a limited dumb down version of technical readouts. It is even lacking the normal fluff from tech readouts, I am ashamed Catalyst did this.



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
BattleTech: Record Sheets: 3058 Upgrade
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