Shadowrun

Catalyst Game Labs => Catalyst's Shadowrun Products => Topic started by: UmaroVI on (21:43:21/07-05-11)

Title: Fun in Bogota
Post by: UmaroVI on (21:43:21/07-05-11)
A few of the posters on Dumpshock suggested I should share this here too. So here it is! It's a bit late for a review, but I wanted to wait until we had finished the mini-campaign to give my final opinion so it would be based on actual play more than on theory.

Adventures in Bogota
Thanks, CGL

Me and my gaming group just finished playing in a great mini-campaign based on WAR!, and using the setting information. We played free agents who worked for various factions doing “off-the-books” missions, with the occasional side mission. I wanted to thank CGL for making such a fantastic product and provide some feedback and review on the various sections, along with sharing some of our favorite moments.

The PCs were:

Jake, a neo-tribal Night One; he’d left his people after he lost his legs in an accident and had to get cyberlegs. He was trained in primitive weapons like bows but didn’t object to using technology.

Pyne, a gnome technomancer; he was apparently based on one of the player’s old Otaku characters (since they were all kids).

Hans, a human physical adept martial artist type; he used Krav Maga and a variety of weapons.

I was playing a Qabbalist mage.

The Bogota Background sections:

We were coming in as outsiders, so as players, we didn’t read this section until after the game. However, I could see how well-written it was from how the GM brought the setting alive. We could visualize the NPCs we met so well that pictures were completely unnecessary. Our GM also used lots of the “Shadowtalk” quotes as results for legwork checks - we really liked the consistent characters we interacted with online, and the carefully-inserted grammatical errors gave them the feel of REAL forum posts.

I also really loved the level of detail and development about Bogota, and the way it covered everything from street gangs to pop culture figures. By the end of the mini-campaign, all of us could practically have drawn a map of the war zone in our sleep.

Finally, I wanted to mention an important improvement in WAR! over previous Shadowrun material dealing with wars. WAR! has a nice, clear reason for the conflict. Previous wars, such as the Euro Wars, seem to have been fought for no better reason than so that shadowrunners 30 years later could use war surplus, but this time it was good to know that we were fighting over carnivorous trees.

Global Hotspots:

So, as I said, our campaign was Bogota-focused, and we didn’t use this too much. However, when we needed a break from the intense situation in Bogota, our GM used the “Fleshfinder” adventure as a fun distraction so we could relax a bit and have an adventure in Poland.

We had a pretty rough time with the ghosts at first - especially since we’d never encountered actual spirits of the dead before - but that was a pretty cool twist. After we pulled back, we came up with a final solution to the ghost problem by going back in with gas grenades and flamethrowers - Pyne somehow managed to guess that these weapons would be super effective on them.

After that we had a great, lighthearted dungeon crawl and finally managed to find the knife we were sent in for. Hans decided to keep the weapon and make it his Weapon Focus; from then on he kept it handy in a pocket of his MOSLTOV.

Military Equipment:

On the whole I thought this material was great, and added a lot to the campaign. But I do need to complain about 1 overpowered item - the Ares Shockbeam. We found this weapon was simply way too effective - it lets users deal electrical stun damage twice per initiative pass! It wouldn’t be as bad if there were weapons in the core book that did just as much, or maybe some sort of special ammunition that did the same thing with burst-fire, but the Shockbeam has unique abilities that just made it too good.

Other than that, the weapons added an amazing level of detail. Choosing between three different types of bayonets and the advantages and drawbacks of each really made us feel like we were in a war zone - it wouldn’t be a proper futuristic war without bayonets!

The Thor shot stats proved to be really useful. Our game’s finale involved a Thor shot being fired, and if our GM hadn’t known the exact damage values, it could really have put a damper on our fun - but since we knew the exact damage values, we had no such problems!

After the mess with Form Fitting Body Armor, it was nice to see Softweave as a mechanic for extra armor that’s easy to use and has nice, clear rules. All of us really enjoyed the way it added depth to shopping for new sets of gear every time we increased our strength or body with karma.

We didn’t really play around with the commlinks too much since our only matrix specialist was a technomancer so I can’t say much about that.

Military Drones and Vehicles:

These were great - fighting awesome warmachines with names like the “Kreutzritter” and the “Ruhrmetall Vogelhund” owned, and the detailed descriptions really gave us a clear idea of what the drones looked like.

At first, we had some trouble with the high-armor milspec vehicles - especially Jake, since he mostly used bows. But it turned out the writers had thought of that - the MRSI software let Jake shoot tanks with two arrows at the same time, which let him blow up tanks with ease. It was a really cinematic moment when he first did that - like something out of a movie!

The naval vessel rules also came up once or twice. Probably the best moment for us was when we dressed up in SCUBA gear to steal a missile boat. We snuck onboard in the SCUBA gear, then got Pyne down to the computer where we engaged the ballast tanks, drowning everyone (except us!) on board. They sure never saw that one coming!

Spells and Adept Powers:

Obviously we didn’t use all of these, but I did have a lot of fun using the Slow spell to parachute us down on missions. Also, being able to use it to stop bullets was a nice side effect.

Echoes:

Pyne really loved Feral Resonance; he picked it as his first echo and tamed all the feral AIs we found. The rest of us were a little confused by his motivation for wanting to capture them all, but he seemed to really enjoy cataloguing them on his commlink - and if nothing else, this echo helped us get into the right frame of mind for a campaign about WAR!

Overall impression:

WAR! scores 10/10 in every area - writing, research, detail, planning, organization, and game balance. I cannot recommend buying it enough. I do, however, recommend nerfing the Ares Shockbeam a little bit. If someone showed up with that they might overshadow someone who is just using a silvergun from the base book. I am sure CGL will print errata for it soon, so it isn’t a big problem.




Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Critias on (22:10:51/07-05-11)
You know there's a good chance this'll just be considered trolling, right?
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: CanRay on (22:14:21/07-05-11)
Considering that it was considered trolling on DUMPSHOCK, well...

*Shakes Magic 8-Ball*  Signs point to "Yes".  *Thinks about things, and throws Magic 8-Ball at random person's head*  I don't know if I've done that here yet or not.  :P
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: FastJack on (23:05:19/07-05-11)
And people wonder why they get smited here?
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: CanRay on (23:47:51/07-05-11)
I don't.  I'm sure I get everything that's coming to me.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Digital_Viking on (00:14:45/07-06-11)
Considering that it was considered trolling on DUMPSHOCK, well...

Well DS would be the experts in that field
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: CanRay on (00:16:44/07-06-11)
Considering that it was considered trolling on DUMPSHOCK, well...
Well DS would be the experts in that field
I resemble that remark.  :P
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Critias on (00:43:45/07-06-11)
Hey, c'mon fellas.  It's not an "us vs. them" thing with DS.  Or, at least, it shouldn't be. 

It's an "obey the TOS and give serious product reviews or none at all, thanks," thing.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Digital_Viking on (07:24:10/07-06-11)
Hey, c'mon fellas.  It's not an "us vs. them" thing with DS.  Or, at least, it shouldn't be. 
You're right, it shouldn't be - and that wasn't my intention to state. Just tired of seeing the continual blind hatred of all things CGL and the current set of freelancers from DS. There's constructive criticism and then there is what they do on a regular basis. Thus, my comment regarding DS.

Anyhow, I apologize for letting that bit of bile bubble up. It was unnecessary.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Mystic on (08:32:28/07-06-11)
If the shoe fits...and it goes both ways. Hey, if this guy had fun using a CGL and wanted to tell everyone about it...groovy, or vice versa.

And ya know, from everything I keep hearing about DS, glad I hang here. 

Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: CanRay on (11:49:57/07-06-11)
If the shoe fits...and it goes both ways. Hey, if this guy had fun using a CGL and wanted to tell everyone about it...groovy, or vice versa.

And ya know, from everything I keep hearing about DS, glad I hang here.
It's not that bad, actually.  Most of the comments about the place is self-exaggeration, really.

Considering that we like to get into the heads of anti-social borderline sociopathic neo-@s who shoot people in the face for money, it's actually quite pleasant.   ;D
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Frankie the Fomori on (17:27:53/07-06-11)
 This is from someone who grew up there.

Yes, there are trees in the mountains around Bogotá, they would be called jungle. Not tropical but very much jungle.

So yes the trees work in Bogotá, and if you are willing to think that a little bit of land travel (less then half a day) then so does the commit about getting smuggled out of Bogotá in a sub (they did say if you knew the right contacts....which implies they did not think you just walked up to the waterfront).

I have felt from the first day that i had it that WAR was a great book, yet I held off talking about it because someone would blast me/or ignore my post if I wrote something about it. I am glad this review is in here, Thank you very much for it.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Critias on (17:45:44/07-06-11)
I am glad this review is in here, Thank you very much for it.
*sigh*

Don't thank them, it's not sincere, Frankie.  They're being sarcastic.  They're just insulting War! some more, and adding to the atmosphere that (unfortunately) already made you feel that you weren't allowed to speak your mind about a book you bought.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Mystic on (01:22:33/07-07-11)
If the shoe fits...and it goes both ways. Hey, if this guy had fun using a CGL and wanted to tell everyone about it...groovy, or vice versa.

And ya know, from everything I keep hearing about DS, glad I hang here.
It's not that bad, actually.  Most of the comments about the place is self-exaggeration, really.

Considering that we like to get into the heads of anti-social borderline sociopathic neo-@s who shoot people in the face for money, it's actually quite pleasant.   ;D

Death with a smile and sunny disposition.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Sichr on (04:31:50/07-07-11)
I really enjoyed reading this :)
Yes, it was sarcastic. And yes, it points to some really weak points the sourcebook have. I also bought it. Since I thought that Picture is more than 1000 words I also expect the plan of battlefield. Drones and vehicles description tends to focus on stats and numbers, not the drone itself...
And there was a lot of points where I tend to disagree - Dragons allowing young races to judge one of their kind etc...i.e.
I almost feel like that book was an attempt to built a bridge between Shadowrun and Battletech.
And...well, the worst impression I got was that Aztlan is merely ecconomicaly omnipotent...gathering enought resources to fight another full scale war after Youcatan fiasco, being exiled from Denver, internal struggles with Juan Atzapoalco, Mr. Darke etc, using such powerfull blood magic even under constant overwatch of many powers...
So im keeping this events only as a trid news for my players, slightly annoyed that the setting is falling apart...but then again, it has some good ideas...and since there are those annoying facts Ive listed, there are also questions I love: where they get that kind of power, who is pulling the strings...I hope people who wrote that sourcebook know answers...and more to it...that thiose answers are in line with great metaplot of Shadowrun universe, that was absoultely awesome in previous Aztlan sourcebook...
I began my online activity in shadowrun universe on Dumpshock, that is true...i made about two posts before i find out that there are Forums..so I cannot be judged as one of those heretics, as I understand many people here view "them"...
I dont know what CGL issue "they" have...even that we here in czech republic have heard about some successfull shadowrunners  inside CGL team (hope he gain some Karma from judge :) )
Even when some fans posted some catastrophic visions on Czech comunity servers, Ive been always telling them to not discourage people who are doing good work, Do not panic, and keep supporting shadowrun by buing SR products...
Not all the time Im getting the quallity Ive been expecting...but nobodys perfect, and most the time I read fantastic stuff and tons of inspiration for my games...
Errr....Back to the topic...
War! was not perfect, but then again, what/who is.
UmaroVI`s post is sarcastic, but funny as hell, LMAO when reading it. And he have some realy good points, IMHO. So rather then smitting him for his criticism, dont give him a chance to repeat it ;)
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Stahlseele on (04:59:12/07-07-11)
Quote
I almost feel like that book was an attempt to built a bridge between Shadowrun and Battletech.
Why? O.o
We have Battlerun for that ^^
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Sichr on (05:04:42/07-07-11)
Quote
I almost feel like that book was an attempt to built a bridge between Shadowrun and Battletech.
Why? O.o
We have Battlerun for that ^^

What? Never heard of it :)
Im simply too focused SRholic IMO :)
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: FastJack on (07:43:58/07-07-11)
Quote
I almost feel like that book was an attempt to built a bridge between Shadowrun and Battletech.
Why? O.o
We have Battlerun for that ^^

What? Never heard of it :)
Im simply too focused SRholic IMO :)
Just in case the "Never heard of it" wasn't sarcasm (http://www.battlecorps.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=2259) ;)
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Stahlseele on (07:47:06/07-07-11)
Quote
I almost feel like that book was an attempt to built a bridge between Shadowrun and Battletech.
Why? O.o
We have Battlerun for that ^^

What? Never heard of it :)
Im simply too focused SRholic IMO :)
Just in case the "Never heard of it" wasn't sarcasm (http://www.battlecorps.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=2259) ;)
Kinda sad that the Aprils Fools Jokes can trump line products in quality . .
But read it nonetheless ^^
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Crimsondude on (08:18:29/07-07-11)
So im keeping this events only as a trid news for my players, slightly annoyed that the setting is falling apart...
The setting is what? Christ on a stick. One mediocre book that came out nine months and four books ago (One of which is, again, half setting), and the setting is falling apart. Yep. That's a rational examination of the line.

Quote
.I hope people who wrote that sourcebook know answers...and more to it...that thiose answers are in line with great metaplot of Shadowrun universe, that was absoultely awesome in previous Aztlan sourcebook...
Yes. There's a giant roadmap every freelancer is shown based on the original archaic scratchings of Tom Dowd and Paul Hume.

The metaplot isn't a static thing. It's an ongoing evolving storyline. Do you seriously think the Crash of '29's origin as blowback from the machinations of a dude not even introduced until 1995 was planned? For years the big conflict was expected to be Aztlan vs. CAS. Then Ghost Cartels pretty well forced the Colombian border issue into open conflict. Quite frankly, the line changes every time someone new comes onboard. And that is especially true with new line developers (of which SR4 has had a few). That makes legacy projects like War!, which has been an ongoing and developing storyline for sixteen years now, interesting beasts.

Anyway, my point is this: We know what the metaplot is because we're creating it.

Quote
I dont know what CGL issue "they" have...even that we here in czech republic have heard about some successfull shadowrunners  inside CGL team (hope he gain some Karma from judge :) )
I'd just as soon they see the inside of a federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison myself.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Sichr on (08:50:18/07-07-11)
So im keeping this events only as a trid news for my players, slightly annoyed that the setting is falling apart...
The setting is what? Christ on a stick. One mediocre book that came out nine months and four books ago (One of which is, again, half setting), and the setting is falling apart. Yep. That's a rational examination of the line.

Quote
.I hope people who wrote that sourcebook know answers...and more to it...that thiose answers are in line with great metaplot of Shadowrun universe, that was absoultely awesome in previous Aztlan sourcebook...
Yes. There's a giant roadmap every freelancer is shown based on the original archaic scratchings of Tom Dowd and Paul Hume.

The metaplot isn't a static thing. It's an ongoing evolving storyline. Do you seriously think the Crash of '29's origin as blowback from the machinations of a dude not even introduced until 1995 was planned? For years the big conflict was expected to be Aztlan vs. CAS. Then Ghost Cartels pretty well forced the Colombian border issue into open conflict. Quite frankly, the line changes every time someone new comes onboard. And that is especially true with new line developers (of which SR4 has had a few). That makes legacy projects like War!, which has been an ongoing and developing storyline for sixteen years now, interesting beasts.

Dont take me wrong, but since there are Dragons and AIs on the chessboard, there have to be some "roadmap" since if you present such beings  as hyperinteligent, godlike, immortal cratures that remember possibly creation of life itself, you would expect there are some goals and strategies they follow..and even if those are hidden, there are long-term strategies of companies that rule the world. They are possibly more powerfull than current superpowers - USA, EU, China, Russia...and those powers follow strategies that had been drawn long ago...by mundane human. So Yes, I would expect some continuality and compactness of storyline...am I wrong?
For example - what I got...and I may be totally out of the picture, from little parts of puzzle here and there, 6WA, and Dragons of the sixth world, I have an impression the there may be ongoing mating ritual between Lowfyr and Mujaji...this itself can take years or decades to finish...dont tell me that ideas like this will be gone with new team of freelancers, and that possible (just highly speculative) plots like that, seeds that been planted, ends up in nowhere because "newcomers" dont care, they have their own ideas...?
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: EmperorPenguin on (09:08:13/07-07-11)
The frequency (and prevalence) of sarcasm in this review is downright exhausting by about halfway through.  I had to think through every paragraph to determine if it was legitimate (rarely) or contained a thinly-veiled twist on one of War's already identified shortcomings.

Those of us who have read through War know that it, all opinions on plot and metaplot aside, had problems with both writing and editing.  I'm thankful that more recent releases have suggested it will be less a trend and more a blip on the map.

It's clever, but it's also overdone and tiring.  It did not get any laughs out of me.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: FastJack on (11:05:17/07-07-11)
Crimson/Sichr, let's keep it a bit more civil.


In regards to Sichr's response, remember that turnover happens and continuity changes when new people come on board with new ideas. The main reason I stopped reading Marvel/DC comics is because every writer came on board to a book a) decided to toss out everything the previous writer established because they wanted to do "their" take on the character(s) and b) wrote said character(s) based on their own impression of that character, no matter if it fit with the "known" basis/logistics/powers of the character(s).

The freelancers at Catalyst are a lot better than some comic book authors (I'm looking at you, Mr. Frank Miller), but they do have ideas of how to evolve the storylines. No one sat down (I believe, anyway, I'm not privy to the back room discussions) in 1989 and said, "let's wait a few years then introduce the Otaku. Then later on, we can upgrade them to Technomancers!". Somethings occur organically and have no set plan. The GD's and IE's are not god-like and (most) aren't prescient of the upcoming events, so they are still reactionary creatures. They may have plans upon plans upon plans set up, but plans almost never go off as planned. ;)
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Sichr on (11:35:55/07-07-11)
Im trying to be as polite (and no sarcastic) as possible, Jack. I can see reasons why this is happening. Still, IMO for players is quite difficult to play long term campaign...based on, IE, Dulkezahns Will, if nobody officialy develops this further... IE BigD even foresaw the futre and made many things that fit to that view and worked withthat. You think about Otaku and Techno,mancers, well Ive read assumption somewhere that seeds of Resonance were planted by Celedyr some millenia ago...It seems that there is only one rule that is followed by everyone making shadowrun: Never go to the space. It seems stupid but it works, even if events in official line must be overmanipulated and orchestrated to make it work sometimes...so i thought there was even from the beginning very urgent need for some bottom storyline...if there isnt...well, im a bit dissapointed...like when listening to the joke with no point...
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Stahlseele on (11:55:20/07-07-11)
Never go to space, because mages/adepts will revolt.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: Tsuzua on (12:22:43/07-07-11)
The frequency (and prevalence) of sarcasm in this review is downright exhausting by about halfway through.  I had to think through every paragraph to determine if it was legitimate (rarely) or contained a thinly-veiled twist on one of War's already identified shortcomings.

I'm curious, what paragraphs do you consider to be legitimate? 

As for the metaplot and setting debate, the metaplot has always been not very good and Shadowrun's setting has always never made sense.  Then again, I find RPG metaplots to only be useful for starting a campaign and never during one.  And you play SR for the dwarf pimp shamans and not how exactly the NAN was created much less maintained and its ramification on the Euro Wars.

Edited for harshness.
Title: Re: Fun in Bogota
Post by: EmperorPenguin on (16:59:09/07-07-11)
I thought that perhaps the character descriptions were legitimate.