Books for The World of Shadowrun (2)

Dateline: 07/02/97

Last week at this very same spot, we looked over a few of the character creation and equipping sourcebooks that the beginning GM might want to look at. This week, we're going to look at the sourcebooks that show the world and the players behind the scenes. If you're a player, you might want to avoid the paragraphs bracketed by the "Spoiler Warning!" text.

The World:

You'll probably want to start off in your home town or the nearest large urban center. The main benefit to this setting is that you and your players will know the area. This way, you'll be able to acquire maps and even be able to contact the local chamber of commerce for information on the city and surrounding area. Your other option is to go for one of FASA's setting supplements.

It's no secret that FASA's supplements are Seattle-centric. Almost all of the adventures are set in Seattle, UCAS, or in surrounding lands. So you might want to opt for the Seattle Sourcebook.

The other really nice city sourcebook is the Denver: City of Shadows boxed set. Now out of print from the publisher, certain distributors might still have it in stock. It's great -- contains maps and a separate player sourcebook.

If you want one of the following locations, you'll want to hunt for the Neo-Anarchist's Guide to (The Rest of) North America: Washington D.C, San Francisco (also see below), Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago (also see below), Quebec City, or New York City. The NAGNA also has a little bit on each of the four nations these cities are located in (United Canadian and American States, California Free State, Republic of Quebec, and Confederate States of America). The NAGNA is out of print and hard to find. If you do find it, you'll only use about ten to eighteen pages out of this if you confine yourself to one sprawl.

Then again, if you're in Europe, you'll want to get the London or Germany sourcebook. Some people like them, some became sick to their stomachs when they read the words "London or Germany sourcebook." Sorry.

San Francisco and California Free State are covered in more detail in the sourcebook called California Free State. Like the London or Germany sourcebook (oh, go take an antacid), this sourcebook is loved or loathed. Mexico, Aztlan; Oregon, Tir Tairngire; Ireland, Tir na nÒg. And there's one place sourcebook left you should look at, but it's under that

Spoiler Warning!

so you players will want to scamper off to the next bit. Scamper already!

Here we cross over from the sourcebooks to the movers and shakers of Shadowrun with a look at Chicago. In 2055, Chicago is overrun by bugs. That's insect spirits, summoned by an insect shaman, much like how normal shamen follow Dog or Bear or Shark, insect shamen follow Wasp or Ant or Roach. It's not a good thing.

If you'd like to use Chicago in your campaign, you might want to start out before the invasion. Here's how. Get a copy of Bug City, that's the award-winning post-invasion sourcebook for Chicago. In that book are bits from the NAGNA that illustrated Chicago in 2052. Give these to your players. Hide Bug City. Don't let your players read the novel Burning Bright.

Your next step is to find the out of print or hard to find modules Total Eclipse, Double Exposure, Queen Euphoria, and Missing Blood (part of the Universal Brotherhood sourcebook pack). Play the storylines in about that order, mixed in with other normal runs. This will get you time to find a copy of Universal Brotherhood. Play up the UB as a nice humanitarian organization, something like the Salvation Army but don't draw attention to it. Obtain a copy of the novel Burning Bright to get an example of what happens in the first few days of Bug City.

After they run the Missing Blood run, drop Bug City on them, maybe play out the events in Burning Bright with the PCs as the main characters. This is about late 2055. FASA's timeline has Chicago being freed in late 2057, early 2058.

While we're still in spoiler space, you should also check out the book Threats. Thirteen people and groups that could influence how the world will be shaped. A nice book, something is in there for the GM to base a campaign around. Anyway, time to bring the players back into the article.

Spoiler Free Zone!

Now it's time to talk about a few other books that discuss the way things are.

Corporate Security Handbook just went out of print. Many players will be glad at that, as this book lists several tricks of the trade on how to secure a building the shadowrunners will be trying to break into. I like it, others don't. You don't need this right away.

Corporate Shadowfiles is my least favorite book. Summing it up in two words: Business 101. The corporate profiles are nice, but only two, three pages long for each mega-corp with very little on Aztechnology (the de facto "bad" corporation). For more information on Aztechnology, you'll want to get the Aztlan sourcebook. Aztlan is very nice, but unless you want Aztlan/Aztechnology to be a major foe in your campaign or want to have a game set in modern-day Mexico, you don't need this right away.

How things work is covered in the now out-of-print Neo-Anarch's Guide to Real Life. The NAGRL is one of those odd books that's been received with a luke-warm reception. FASA looks at credsticks, fast food restaurants, fashion, and ambulance crews. A mishmash of things in the Sixth World. Not really needed, but nice for flavoring the game. Buy it whenever.

The other "Way Things Are" book is Sprawl Sites. Out of print and first edition, this book gives several building locations and skimpy maps, plus a random encounter table. A note on that random encounter table -- it's not really usable as the encounters range from five minute instant encounters to springboards for complex runs. It's a nice tool to develop a few adventures. And it has more archetypes!

Those archetypes are also included in a booklet with the GM screen. The screen has most of the charts you'll need for quick reference. I keep the clipped on sheet with magic notes over the left panel. You have the players write down their gun's ranges, and you're set.

Well, we're out of space again. It looks like I'll have to dedicate our next column to the Election: 2057 plotline, as well as a few tips for the beginning GM. But here's one right off: If you're GMing a module, buy a thick, dark-colored folder. Put the module in the folder and don't tell the players the name of the adventure or let them see how many pages are left in the adventure. I'll explain why next week.

On to Part Three.

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