Assassin's Night Spoiler Free Review

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  • Omae
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« on: <08-30-21/1306:04> »
Spoiler-free review: AN is an investigation themed campaign that does not rely on extra dimensional horrors or body snatchers. It starts with a Johnson that sends the runners on a fact finding mission to a new setting, Barcelona, and ends with the runners involved in a major assassination. I don't cover the Barcelona setting in this review.

There are three major subplots, which are designed to be optional. You could stick to the main assassination plot, in which case youíre looking at maybe 3-5 runs (like 12-14 chapters) worth of content. The major subplots range in scope, from 2 runs to about 4. The setting, too, appears to be somewhat optional, depending on which subplots you want to include. If you include the section that gets the runners acclimated to Barcelona, add 2-3 runs. Any different setting would require some work of course, changing names and places to fit your location. *Most* things in this book however are not so specific to Barcelona that they couldnít be moved. I'm writing a GM Guide to go into more detail on what those are.

It uses the same format as 30 Nights: new setting info in the front, followed by adventures broken into numbered chapters, then a section with stat blocks and descriptions of NPCs, and finally a map of the Barcelona region. However, unlike 30 Nights, these chapters are not broken up by day, or even by session - at least, not consistently. You have some flexibility in how long each chapter should take. Most chapters are delineated by objective. They follow this pattern:

1 - Investigate lead from the previous chapter, or be handed a lead

2 - Overcome 1-3 obstacles

3 - Acquire lead for the next chapter

However, the book could be easier to digest. I needed to read the entire book and take notes in order to understand the structure of the campaign. Itís written straight ahead like one long adventure, without any helpful markers that indicate where different subplots begin and end. There is some help in the Introduction, but no Synopsis, no cliff notes version that would cue me into the major arcs of the campaign. Maybe this isnít a problem for people who were English lit majors, read fast and can sift a lot of information in their head, but some of us prefer to read a summary or outline and then dive into various points for deeper information. I've made one for myself and it'll be included in my GM guide.

Thankfully, once the whole thing is read, the campaign is easy to grok. Each subplot is contained in its own block of chapters, not spread out across the whole campaign like 30 Nights. Itís also focused, for the most part. The setup is that thereís a job the PCs are hired to do, and all the major events of the campaign happen in pursuit of that goal. There is the occasional ďthe PCs will probably look into this because itís intriguingĒ and sometimes the connection between a lead and the original goal is tenuous, but for the most part, the plot is moved forward by PC actions in pursuit of the original goal.

The campaign happens within the span of a game month, which is troublesome because there might be a yearís worth of play time here. Thatís a year where your players are apart from their regular contacts (if you put them on a plane to Barcelona), have no downtime for training and advancement, and probably arenít diving into their carefully crafted backstories. This is a problem 30 Nights had as well, and for that reason I donít recommend it be played as a full campaign end-to-end unless your group is meeting like twice a week; and whoís got time for that?

I was very happy to see that the level of recommended opposition has been ratcheted up from other published materials. 30 Nights relied too much on gangs and other low level opposition IMO, but AN regularly asks GMs to reach for commandos and shadowrunners.

I only have a few story problems with AN right now (though problems often donít reveal themselves until you start doing the actual work to prepare the adventure). One is the lack of epilogue or denouement. The final chapter is the climax of the campaign and we get nothing about the fallout of these events. I donít need to know the far reaching ripples two years out, but I need to know what the major campaign factions are going to do in the next 24 hours. Are the runners in danger? Do their contacts get burned? Are any of the factions exposed? Destroyed? Gain power? Instead we cut to black, and the GM must have created this already and be ready for it. Thankfully, often in the hands of a skilled GM the ending of an adventure will ďwrite itselfĒ - by this point in the campaign, the GM should know what people are going to do and how they react. But itís still content the GM has to create, content the author should have made.

My second problem is that there is one chapter in the middle of the campaign that is absolute garbage. In four paragraphs it has the PCs go on three entire runs youíre supposed to insert at various stages of the campaign, with nothing more than a premise to go on. This is a book that sometimes spends an entire chapter on meeting and having a conversation with an informant. Thankfully, this one garbage chapter isnít connected to any subplot, itís effectively its own tiny garbage subplot, and it can be completely ignored. Honestly though, thirty-five chapters and I only consider one to be absolute garbage, Iíd say thatís pretty good for Catalyst. I would throw out more than that in 30 Nights.

Buy it or donít buy it? I think this is worthwhile to buy if you like investigation runs, and if you would like to get your runners involved in a big metaplot event that doesnít involve saving the world from body snatching magic demons. If you donít care about Barcelona, you could definitely set the core of this in your own city..


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  • Prime Runner
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« Reply #1 on: <08-30-21/1922:34> »
Thank you for taking the time to write this all up and share it. I know that 1,000 word reviews don't spring out of nothing. Personally, I appreciate the effort.

Can you clarify about the plots vs. subplots vs. runs vs. chapters? Is each chapter one run, or one portion of one run? And then multiple runs ladder up to a subplot? You refer to thirty-five chapters and that's a boatload. What does a chapter represent?


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  • Omae
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« Reply #2 on: <08-31-21/1149:21> »
Sure, you're right I didn't really use clearly defined language.

Basically, the chapters make up runs, which make up subplots, which make up the campaign.

Chapter 1-5 is main plot and getting settled in Barcelona

Chapter 6-13 is subplot 1

Chapter 14 is main plot

Chapter 15-17 is subplot 2

Chapter 18-23 is subplot 3

Chapter 24 is garbage subplot 4

Chapter 25-35 is main plot.


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  • Ace Runner
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« Reply #3 on: <08-31-21/1326:39> »
I'm less than half way through, but I'd say that many (most?) of the chapters would be less than a standard 'run', unless the GM and group build up beyond what is in the book.  Frequently two or three seem to go together really naturally, although whether or not that then fits into a standard 'run' length I'm not sure.