Saturday, 7 July 2012

Shadowrun: Runners Toolkit Review

Image from DeviantART
So for those of you who don't know, Shadowrun is a game set in a dystopian future where mega corporations run the world and physical and mental enhancements are just part of life. Oh and magic and Elves and Dwarves and frigging Dragons! are running around, and this is totally normal.

Now I've been wanting to play Shadowrun for a while, and figured I better start planning my campaign, in preparation of this I bought myself the Shadowrun: Runner's Toolkit. It turns out it is one hell of a collection of handy reference and game material.

The box includes:

  • A Landscape poster
  • A sticker saying "Shadowrun"
  • 5 books (more on that soon)
  • 4 double sided glossy maps
  • 6 double sided reference sheets
  • A GM screen

Contacts, Adventures, Sprawl Sites
Inside this book there is a very long list of contacts that the players may have each with possible uses for that contact, places you could meet them, similar contacts and a detailed description of how and why a player may develop that particular contact.
It also includes over a dozen adventure frameworks, these layout the background to many different kinds of adventures, it gives you NPC's, their motivations, how much they are willing to pay, pretty much all the details you would need to know to quickly run an adventure. Plus it has a bunch of tables for rolling up random runs.
It also has details on several sprawl sites, these are locations which can be used for lots of different reasons, these sprawl sites also match to the maps that are provided which makes the information even more useful.

This is the Pre-generated Auxiliary Character Kit System (PACKS), it offers an alternative to the character creation system in Shadowrun. It simplifies character creation into an 8 step process, where the player selects different kits, each of which have 'build points', you simply add these build points up to a certain number and ta da! with a good concept in mind you have made a character pretty quickly. I really like this, it saves from having to pour over pages of skills, metatypes, spells, adepts etc. Of course some people like this and they can of course still use the traditional process but I for one think character creation should be quick, the tinkering can come later.

Compiled Tables
This is a simple one, it's 48 pages filled with tables for pretty much anything you could ever need. It lists weapons, clothing, security devices, biotech, chemtech, vehicles, spells and even how long different types of forgery takes. This information is of course available in other sources but having it all in one handy book for quick reference is great.

Anatomy of a Shadowrun
This is an interesting one, a step-by-step walkthrough of a Shadowrun and I mean a literal step-by-step. It goes through everything the players and game master do, plus all the fiction behind it. This is something I have seen attempted before but never this well. It goes into every detail, explaining exactly what is happening and gives advice. This is perfect for new players, giving them brilliant insight into how Shadowrun is played.

On the Run
What kind of beginner box would be complete without an introductory adventure? Well the Runner's Tool Kit isn't about to disappoint us now. On the Run is a pretty exciting run written to help the Game Master at every step. It gives advice and references relevant pages in the main rule book. It's structured in an easy way to follow and gives you all the information needed to run it. My only problem with it is that there is maybe a little too much information, it is a lot to read and even reading through it all before hand, remembering everything would be very difficult, but if you were to split it up into a few sessions that would become much easier.

Reference Sheets
These are awesome.

I suppose I should probably say a bit more. There are 6 double sided reference sheets of very high quality, they are made of a sort of glossy cardboard, very difficult to rip or tear or even fold. One sheet goes through the steps of character creation, another explains how melee combat works, another explains autonomous drone combat. They reduce what are fairly complicated actions in to simple step-by-step guides.

Game Master Screen
The box also includes a GM screen, its fairly standard, 4 panels providing quick reference to some of the most commonly used rules in the game. Its very good quality, just like everything else in the box. Though it is folded weirdly meaning the center folds inwards when opened, with a bit of use this will most likely become less of an issue, but it is a pretty big design flaw.

Overall this is most certainly worth the money I paid for it. It will be a great help in running a game of Shadowrun. If you haven't played a game of Shadowrun before, then I highly recommend this. Hell, even if you have been playing for years, the information in this little box is well worth it.