NEWS

Street Legends supplemental review

  • 83 Replies
  • 16758 Views

UmaroVI

  • *
  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 2655
« on: (19:05:37/01-05-12) »
This is my, Tsuzua, and Squee’s review of the Street Legends supplemental. It’s not a review of Street Legends itself - only the new material.

Quick Summary: This product has well-written background pieces on the characters, but they often veer away from helpful information and plot hooks and into fanfiction-esque writing about blatant Mary Sue characters.

The biggest problem, however, is the abysmal quality of editing. There’s numerous errors in the character sheets - on average 2-3 per sheet, and many of them blatantly obvious things that should never have made it into a published product. Also, the character sheets are not made with consistent style or notation - something that could easily have been fixed with a proper style guide.

General Problems:
As mentioned, the character sheets are done in an inconsistent style, which makes them confusing to read. Some characters do skill (specialization) 4 (6), others do skill (specialization) 4 (+2). Some list skill boosts as Skill 3 [6], others as Skill 3 (+3). Some hackers list matrix IP on a second line, others do not. Some people list languages separately, others under knowledge skills. This is the sort of thing that could be easily fixed, and not having done so exemplifies the lazy, sloppy editing endemic throughout the Street Legends supplemental.

Software and cyber/bioware suites really should list their components - there’s no reason to not take a little bit of extra space to prevent the reader from having to cross-reference like that.

Characters have martial arts, but none have any maneuvers. Why?

Typos:
Here is a list of typos I happened to notice while reviewing. I’m sure there will be an errata soon to fix them.

P6 “had place bounties” should be “placed.”
P12 “smart skin2” should be “smart skin 2.”
p29 “KnowledgeSkills” should be “Knowledge Skills.”
p38 “Bug City then-Captain” should be “Bug City, then-Captain.”

Character by Character
Because the different characters were done by different writers, I’m going to review each separately. Due to spoiler concerns raised by FastJack, I spoilered the remainder of the review.

[spoiler]
Street Rage:
On the whole, Street Rage is one of the better characters. His background gives a good explanation of his motivations, and it’s easy to see how to integrate him into a campaign as an antagonist. The picture is good and matches the description well.

His character sheet has some errors. He has “Home Ground,” but no indication of what or where it is. Also, his goggles have Smartlink, but not Image Link, which is illegal.

Hard Exit
I find it hard to care about this character’s existence. She’s basically just a shadowrunner who’s better than your PCs will ever be, with no indication of how she might be relevant to a game and a background that reads like a fanfic. The artwork is good on its own merits, but doesn’t match the description: while it’s believable that the drawn character is part Tejana, there’s no way she looks Tejana enough to be discriminated against purely on the basis of her appearance as the her background suggests.

Her cyberarm has 2 empty capacity. This is very odd because she could have another point of armor with no drawback at all for 1500 nuyen. Why wouldn’t she do that? The brackets on her cyberarm and the implanted commlink are erroneous - the right bracket after “2/2” should instead be after “hot-sim.” Her H&K 227-S is listed as using subsonic ammo, but has AP-4 listed instead of AP+2.

Kane
Kane is pretty cool and his background story is fun. So...what do you do with him? There's really no plot hooks here – he's a character with a finished story arc. Why do I care? He seems like someone's wish fulfillment fantasy, not like a useful NPC.

Kane’s armor doesn't total correctly. It should be 11/9, but is listed as 13/13.

Mihoshi Oni
Mihoshi Oni has an interesting enough writeup, and is more easy to integrate into a campaign than some of the others, since she's a freelancer for the Yakuza and thus could easily come in contact with many PC groups. The fluff is a bit on the fanfic side, but okay enough, and the picture is great.

Mihoshi is listed as having Unarmed Combat 8, which is illegal and also odd since she’s supposed to be a Blades specialist. She cannot have both Arcane Arrester and Magic Resistance since they are exclusive. Why does she have Moderate Addiction (Alcohol)? There's no mention whatsoever of this in her backstory. Finally, Mihoshi has a quality called “Mundane.” No such quality exists and none of the other mundane characters in the book have this listed.

The Smiling Bandit
He's actually relevant! It's easy to see how PCs might care he exists, and he has motivations and personality besides “being more awesome than you.” Gold star!

Unfortunately, his character sheet is one of the most error-ridden. He can't have 2(5) matrix passes - he should only have 1(4). He has Erased and Code of Conduct, both of which have different versions and with no indication of which he has. He has a commlink with System 4, and a lot of enormously expensive milspec programs that he can’t use properly on it. Also, for a guy who really, really hates having cyberware to the point where he refused to implant actually useful things like an Encephalon, why does he have datajacks? You don’t actually need one anymore, let alone two.

Slamm-0!
The background fluff is a gag that goes on waaay too long. It should probably be about half the length it is, and contain about a quarter the number of in-jokes. All I have to say about the picture is that it looks like a man with above-average agility if I've ever seen one!

Like the Smiling Bandit, Slamm-0! is an error-ridden mess with a commlink that can't run his ridiculously expensive milspec programs. Especially inexcusable seeing as he has hundreds of thousands of nuyen worth of expensive milspec programs with options and stuff...but he a commlink that can't use them. He has Codeslinger, but no indication of what matrix action it’s for. He has Inspired (Matrix Graffiti), which doesn’t need to be picked for a specific artisan skill, and he doesn’t have Artisan. Slamm-0!’s earbuds have no rating. His baseball bat is weird. First, it's a more effective weapon than any other non-electrical club in existence. It does as much DV as a mace, but with -1 more AP. Also, it has -1 concealment? That means it is smaller than a heavy pistol. What?

Buttercup
“In metahuman form, Buttercup appears to be a petite Japanese girl in her late teens.” This does not even remotely match her picture, which is the epitome of NO KAWAII <(x-x)<. That aside, the fluff answers the important question: “why do I care.” Buttercup will hire shadowrunners, and the entry explains what she'll hire them to do, where, and why.

I'm assuming that the various ways Buttercup works completely differently from other free spirits (like being able to Summon, or apparently being able to earn karma without making spirit pacts) is because she's too cool for rules. However, why does she have unexplained bonuses to Counterspelling, Etiquette, and Spellcasting? I can't find any source on her character sheet. Are those in addition to the specialization bonuses? Are they only for the specialization? What's up there? Lastly, Business Lingo is a specialization of a language, not a language.

Damien Knight
The fluff does a good job establishing Knight's history and provides some usable plot hooks, but could really use more “why do I care?” It’s a bit more forgivable for him, since he’s a fairly important character for everyone in the sixth world to know about and it’s not too hard to think of plot hooks related to him.

Damien Knight is wearing too much armor for his body, and is encumbered – but it isn't factored into his statblock. Also, he has a Satellite Link..on a Signal 10 commlink. Satellite links are only Signal 8, so this is pointless. Finally, he has no sim module, but he has Biofeedback Filter instead of Armor.

I like that he has a cyberarm, with nanohives to boot, so at least that's it for the “cyberarms mark you as an obvious killer cyborg, oh noes” and “nanohives were never meant to be put into cyberlimbs” arguments.

It is odd that he has no geneware – PuSHeD seems like an obvious thing for him to have gotten, in particular. Also, SR4A p119 lists him as an example of someone with 7 social skills... but he doesn't have 7 in any social skills.

Anne Ravenheart
She completely fails the “why do I care” test. She's a comically powerful mage who used to hire shadowrunners, but now doesn't and just uses in-house Ares teams, and investigates vague things for vague reasons.

She can't have 5 watcher spirits, only 4, because her Charisma is 4. She cannot have Magic 14. Her maximum magic is 13, since she has 8 initiations and 1 point of magic loss due to cyberware. Also, what tradition does she have? Is she a shaman? It's odd to be a shaman with Intuition 6, Logic 5, and Charisma 4 – but it just doesn't say anything.

Harlequin
Harlequin’s fluff is not bad, albeit far too long. He doesn’t really have any purpose besides showing up and doing awesome things while your party watches, but that’s not really the fault of whoever did this particular writeup. His picture is actually pretty cool, but lacks the buttons he’s repeatedly described as having.

The random number of random force buttons thing is just stupid. Why would you want to roll 20 dice to figure out the force and number of his foci? Why would you care? What does it add? In general, his character sheet reads like someone’s masturbation aid. I especially like the sidebar explaining that his tradition is like Hermetic, but so much cooler.

Gwynplaine, on the other hand, is much more useful than Harlequin because there are plot hooks built in, and it’s actually relevant to many campaigns. [/spoiler]
« Last Edit: (19:40:38/01-05-12) by UmaroVI »

FastJack

  • *
  • Administrator
  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 5833
  • Kids these days...
    • Coming soon!
« Reply #1 on: (19:22:50/01-05-12) »
Perhaps you should put the information in Spoilers for those that have not purchased the book.

Black

  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 1620
  • Rocking the Shadows since 1990
« Reply #2 on: (20:21:06/01-05-12) »
I like products like these, regardless of whether I will use the characters personally or not.  The expand the Shadowrun universe and give both myself and my players some inspiration for character creation and aspiration.

That said, I play a 2050s campaign and the inner workings of Ares and Mr Damian Knights struggles against Leonard are part of the plot, so it was good to finally see Mr Knight's background in one place and an idea of his stats.  Of course, negoatiation is the key stat here...
Perception molds reality
Change perception and reality will follow
SR1+SR2+SR3++SR4+hb+++B?UB+IE+W+sa+m-gmM--P

Chrona

  • *
  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 3794
« Reply #3 on: (23:48:28/01-05-12) »
great review UmaroVI

The Wyrm Ouroboros

  • *
  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 4470
  • I Have Taken All Shadowrun To Be My Province
    • VU93 Writeup for The Wyrm Ouroboros
« Reply #4 on: (05:01:19/01-06-12) »
Reading through, I pause on Harlequin, and have to express my extreme, extreme disappointment.  As this carries issues, well, spoiler-space is, I suppose, polite.

[spoiler]It has long been an obvious-even-from-the-outside and clear policy on the part of the writers and management to never, ever identify, in any way, individuals or the fates thereof of 'those who performed X Adventure.'  Whether it was a significant one like the various bug runs, or something less so, 'unnamed individuals' is about as far as it goes.

To have violated this policy, placing Bull (and crew) as the runners involved in Harlequin's Back, and having an unnamed someone be the 'last survivor' of the crew that did Harlequin is ...

Look, the reason why the policy existed was to be able to place into Published Adventure your own characters.  "I did that run."  The identities of the people who performed a published run were never, ever identified, because who knows who it was?  Maybe the results of the run were chosen and placed into canon, but the cast was specifically left blank, so that every single GM and every single player could put their gaming group, or their characters, into that slot.

To have Bull be one, and to have functionally killed off every member (but one) of the other violates this policy like ... I can't describe.  It's atrocious is what it is.

Bull, according to what background I know of him, had years worth of issues with the Laughing Man.  Those should have been brought to the table instead of results of published adventures.  Toned down, perhaps, altered as necessary to make them 'believable', but not adventure results.
[/spoiler]
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
Play the game. Don't try to win it.

Sengir

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 506
« Reply #5 on: (06:26:34/01-06-12) »
Bull has always been a vehicle for somebody's supposedly epic campaign results canon...which is a shame, really, for the real Bull whom I respect greatly.

Mirikon

  • *
  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 8980
  • "Everybody lies." --House
« Reply #6 on: (06:37:46/01-06-12) »
All I can say to those criticisms is "Meh." Seriously, is it really that big an issue?
Greataxe - Apply directly to source of problem, repeat as needed.

My Characters

raggedhalo

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 709
    • Insurrection LRP
« Reply #7 on: (07:47:52/01-06-12) »
All I can say to those criticisms is "Meh." Seriously, is it really that big an issue?

I love Street Legends Supplemental, and the characters of Bull and Harlequin, but I was quite alarmed when I saw it.  Especially as it's been handled really well in other products - "unnamed runners" and so on.  I don't have such a problem with the sole survivor of the first Harlequin adventure, because that was set >20 years ago in canon and thus it seems like a safe bet that all/most of them will have died by the time this is published IC.
Joe Rooney
Freelancer (Missions and otherwise: here's my stuff, plus CMP 2011-05 Burn Notice)

My Obsidian Portal profile

rasmusnicolaj

  • *
  • Omae
  • ***
  • Posts: 733
  • Не бойся смерти
« Reply #8 on: (08:58:13/01-06-12) »
And an easy thing to change for a GM that has run an adventure with his group without making the suplement useless.
I really enjoyed reading through Street Legends even though I probably never will use it as a direct gaming resource it was still fun.

I do understand the point the wyrm is making but it is just not an issue for me.

Rasmus
Deplore killings made in the name of religion. Can't it just be for fun?

Patrick Goodman

  • *
  • Errata Team
  • Ace Runner
  • ***
  • Posts: 2100
  • Fixing the fixless since 2016
    • Azziewatch
« Reply #9 on: (09:32:38/01-06-12) »
Wyrm, just so we're clear: You do know that, while the in-character Bull submitted that, the real-world Bull did not, in fact, write that, don't you? I'll let him fill you in on specifics if he wants, but he only provided Devon Oratz with some background on the character of Bull. The only thing our Bull wrote was Kane's writeup.
Former Shadowrun Errata Coordinator

squee_nabob

  • *
  • Chummer
  • **
  • Posts: 218
« Reply #10 on: (12:32:36/01-06-12) »
I stand behind Umaro, Tsuzua, and my review and also want to request the next supplement have more technomancers. I know they are supposed to be very rare in the setting, but right now there are only two published TMs that I can find (Puck and the sample). I would like to see a few more because I play a TM and want to see how I stack up against some of the greats (like Netcat).

Bull

  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 2415
  • Crotchety Old Ork Decker
« Reply #11 on: (12:36:29/01-06-12) »
Actually, read Harlequin a little closer.  The run Bull was on was not the same one as Harlequin's Back.  As i recall HB doesn't require any willing sacrifices on the players parts.  It's a similar concept, but taken to another level, I believe.

The implication is that Harlequin has gone into the Metaplanes several times to plug up "Horror leaks".  Harlequin's Back is just one of those.

(In the original game, Bull did go through both H and H's Back.  HB was the run he did as a favor for Harley that got him and his family out of Chicago, which is the only reason we did it.  The original H ended fairly ugly, which was the start of Bull's animosity toward the elf.  But I avoided specifying that for a reason.  But the final run was an original one by our GM that officially "ended" the original Bull & Johnny 99 campaign, which ended up with 4 dead PCs, 3 who let themselves become sacrifices, and 1 who was an idiot).

I'm not certain about the "sole survivor" of the original Harlequin's run, though.  But yeah, that's not H's Back he's talking about there.

Bull

CanRay

  • *
  • Freelancer
  • Mr. Johnson
  • ***
  • Posts: 11015
  • Spouter of Random Words
    • CanRay's Artistic Work
« Reply #12 on: (15:42:16/01-06-12) »
Hey, did Harley show up in any of the video games that starred Bull?  ;D
Si vis pacem, para bellum

The Wyrm Ouroboros

  • *
  • Prime Runner
  • *****
  • Posts: 4470
  • I Have Taken All Shadowrun To Be My Province
    • VU93 Writeup for The Wyrm Ouroboros
« Reply #13 on: (18:53:23/01-06-12) »
Wyrm, just so we're clear: You do know that, while the in-character Bull submitted that, the real-world Bull did not, in fact, write that, don't you? I'll let him fill you in on specifics if he wants, but he only provided Devon Oratz with some background on the character of Bull. The only thing our Bull wrote was Kane's writeup.

Patrick --

I understand the difference between player, writer, and character, yes -- which is why I phrased it the way I did.  I was quite aware that Bull's writeup may have not been done buy Steven Ratkovich, which is why I didn't rant at him, but rather about the writeup.

The implication is that Harlequin has gone into the Metaplanes several times to plug up "Horror leaks".  Harlequin's Back is just one of those.

...

I'm not certain about the "sole survivor" of the original Harlequin's run, though.  But yeah, that's not H's Back he's talking about there.

I understand where you're coming from, and while the 'sacrifice' in HB is not required, nor actual, it's ... there.  Part of the problem with your implication, though, is that that's the only place it exists.  There's no other references to Harlequin continually going on quests of this type -- which makes the implication in the writeup as I said.  So while I understand what you meant to do, the lack of it being previously set up makes it ... very difficult to take otherwise.
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
Play the game. Don't try to win it.

Bull

  • *
  • Ace Runner
  • ****
  • Posts: 2415
  • Crotchety Old Ork Decker
« Reply #14 on: (19:10:23/01-06-12) »
It's cool.  And it happens.  Devon asked what Bull's beef with Harley was, so I told him the backstory from our old game, and he used bits of it in there to flesh things out a bit, I guess. 

It maybe could have been made a bit clearer, and it's one reason I originally steered clear of explaining anything in Bull's write up.  Better to let it be a mystery than to risk stepping on anyone's toes.

Bull