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Shadowrun: 4e Shadowrun Supplement Books

   
4e Shadowrun Supplement Books

So I've recently taken a renewed interest in Shadowrun. I have a copy of the 20th Anniversary Core Rulebook, and I've been wanting to run a short game with some of my friends, possibly letting it grow into a long-standing campaign.

I was just wondering which of the supplement books are worth buying. Shadowrun material has never struck me as cheap, even by RPG standards, and I don't really want to shell out money on a book that isn't worth it. I've heard good things about both Street Magic and the Runner's Companion, and I was just hoping some experienced runners could confirm/deny these things and/or throw out other suggestions. Thanks much!

The "Core Set" for Shadowrun really consists of Core, Runners Companion, Street Magic, Augmentation and Arsenal. Of the set Runners Companion is what I'd consider a must buy due to the sheer volume of metatypes, qualities and supplemental rules they pack into it for character gen and living in the sixth world. Street Magic is solid - it's much like the Grimmore from 2nd or 3rd edition : includes lots of spells, powers and magician specific qualities. It also deals a bit more heavily with the Astral world, Initiation and other concepts that were touched on in the Awakened World chapter of the core book. It also includes about a dozen or so traditions to help flavor your magicians. Useful but you can still run a frighteningly potent mage or shaman without it.

Augmentation has the requisite cyber goodies to make your sammy drool, and it fixes some bugs in the cyberware rules that existed in the original 4th edition rulebook from Fanpro: not sure if they're still extent in the anniversary edition. Also has rules for cyber-zombies, full body conversions and more. Worth it. The setting pieces about cybered life in the sixth world aren't to be missed either, covers lots of things hinted at in the core book's setting chapters.

I have all the above and I've gotten quite a bit of use out of them.

I don't own Arsenal but my understanding is that it's kind of a must if you want variety with your Riggers and Drone Operators. That said, it's also heavy on weapons and equipment. I passed on it way back when as I thought SR4 was already a bit equipment heavy for my taste, but running a game IRL now I'm thinking it might come in handy as I see how dangerous drones can be in the right hands.

As for the splatbooks it's a judgement call. I liked Runners Haven but I haven't picked up any of them since and I manage just fine, and I can't claim to have really used it either. I just . . .liked it. I would actually suggest the GM screen though - it includes a booklet including a random run generator which includes such perks as determining if the Johnson is going to screw over the party and why. Used it for an ad-hoc session and it worked surprisingly well. On the Run is only a decent adventure but I've canablized it for parts frequently enough that I can recommend it heartily. It has some useful pointers for first time SR GM's by one of the authors of the game as well. The other adventures seem fair to middling so far, but I haven't read all that many.

I like Arsenal, especially for the Martial Arts
Don't ask me what they're doing in an equipment book
rules. It's got some neat gear and yes, very nice stuff for drones. You do need to to watch out for power creep though, especially some of the new armor options for characters.

Everyone seems to be forgetting Unwired. It's a goldmine if your game is likely to have much in the way of matrix action or interaction.

Runner's Companion is hardly necessary, IMO. It's a lot of fun in terms of advanced character creation options, but it may actually take away from the game for new players by making things too confusing.

So I'd suggest the most important as: Street Magic and Unwired, since they expand two vital fields of play. After that, Augmentation, Arsenal and Runner's Companion all give you extra options for player development (and Arsenal is great for generating enemies and environments, too), and Running Wild is excellent for a GM to have on hand.

I've heard mixed things about Unwired, it might be worth another look if it works as well as Avi says it does - I've found core flexible enough when it comes to Matrix play but then again I've never played a dedicated hacker. That said I've run riggers and Augmented Reality features highly in the campaign I run and the PC's I play and in neither case do I feel hampered using just core.

With all due respect I have to disagree on the Runners Companion: the real gain there isn't the metatypes, Changeling and variant races (as fun as they are) but the positive and negative quality lists which provide real options for mundane characters. Don't want your face to have reflex boosts or magic yet want him to be lightning fast? Lightning Reflexes. And Gearhead is a practical must for any Rigger. The best ones come in the negative qualities though: Core is lacking in drawbacks for characters and RC offers drawbacks that are not only varied but interesting. There have been cases where a negative quality from that book has inspired an entire character concept.

That said, I'll conceed the point that RC can make the game a bit too formidable for new players, and in truth there's something to sticking to the base metatypes - it's all too easy to get carried away with all the nifty options and end up with a party of drakes, vamps, shifters and changelings which has the side effect of deflating the specialness/value of those metavariants in game. Runners Companion is a book that has to be used carefully but when used right it can kick the entire game up a notch.

If I may ask, what, aside from insundry paracritters, is in Running Wild?





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