View Full Version : Recommended Shadowrun 4e titles

Karsa Andshort
2009-03-07, 01:26 AM
I'm planning on picking up a couple of Shadowrun 4e titles to start learning the system and putting things together for a group. (I skimmed over debates about 3e versus 4e material, and while I am quite sympathetic to those whose loyalties lie with 3e content, any group I play with is either going to lean towards what's in 4e or already have 3e material to work with.)

I must buy the core rulebook, but can anyone here give recommendations on choosing between Arsenal, Augmentation, Street Magic, Unwired, and general setting/fluff books? What I've heard so far:

Street Magic is a great and more or less necessary expansion for the magic system.
Arsenal really isn't needed for most gameplay, as it describes military-style equipment which is out of place in normal-scale netrunners' lives (read: unbalancing).

I'm tempted to go with Unwired, followed by Augmentation and Street Magic if the group approves. I suspect that my player group will lean more towards the cyberpunk side of things, so we may even play a version of the game with more fantastical and magical elements excised or reduced in scope.

My understanding of setting books is that I can probably get by with a lot of cheaper material from earlier editions, so I'm less concerned about optimizing my spending there.

With these things in mind, does anyone have any suggestions to help a potential GM out?

2009-03-07, 02:36 AM
Runner's Companion since it opens up more stuff for the character's themselves

Arsenal isn't bad it also gives the rules for modifying weaponry, also, if they can use it, you can to. Adds in some advanced rules for combat, adds in the martial art qualities, which again is a plus.

Augmentation is nice, because it gives your riggers and Street Samurai all sorts of goodies

Unwired is all about the Technomancer and Decker

Street Magic gets awesome and is actually broken if you let them go about making their own spells

Digital Grimoire is 3 dollars, buy it, adds in a bit more for Magic including the Toxic Paths

2009-03-07, 05:45 AM
Arsenal is full of useful stuff for anyone. The largest category is definitely handguns, which are absolutely not military-grade. The vehicle section is just superb, too.

Augmentation is about as useful as Arsenal - good extra stuff, nothing significant.

Unwired and Street Magic are the best, though, because those two systems define the setting: the Matrix and magic.

You don't mention Runner Havens, though, which is just freaking great. (Also, their Hong Kong is totally GITS:SAC 2nd Gig.)

2009-03-07, 06:00 AM
Street Magic is good because it helps define magic a bit more, and opens up more options. So, it might actually help blend the fantasy elements a bit better.

Though really, I think that's more an experience thing.

Still, it has some material one what it's like to be a magician, which is good stuff. (Turns out that it actually kind of sucks sometimes.)

One of the nice changes, is that it opens up Toxic Paths. With the warning that you probably shouldn't. But it makes for some good anti hero material (I had a lot of fun with a Twisted Adept.)

Also, I didn't know this Street Grimoire thing, I might have to get that one.

Augmentation is a nice little book, but I don't think strictly necessary. As to the others, I can't comment since I don't have them.

Emperor Tippy
2009-03-07, 10:01 AM
I would get Augmentation and Arsenal first. They give lots of extra options for everyone without doing any major changes to the base rules or adding anything uber broken.

My problem with Unwired is that it doesn't really solve any of the actual problems with the Matrix but instead makes the Matrix even more illogical. It certainly has its uses but I would advise against just dropping it in, instead of the default being "It's allowed unless I say it isn't" (which works for Augmentation and Arsenal) I recommend an "It's not allowed and/or thats not the fluff unless I say it is."

Street Magic is supposedly pretty good but I haven't played with it overly much (none of the groups I played with ever had a whole lot of interest in the magic side of things so we never really used it all that much).

2009-03-07, 03:02 PM
The main thing about Unwired is it makes Technomancer's suck less when compared to a Decker

2009-03-07, 06:17 PM
Bug City. It's one of those defining moments in the setting and not really covered at all any more in 4th. Bug spirits take over Chicago, fun for all.
Sprawl Sites. Maps are always handy.
Portfolio of a Dragon: Dunkelzahn's Secrets. 1001 adventure hooks. Also another one of those touchstone moments in the setting that's just glossed over by the hacks new company.

I wouldn't really worry about Arsenal being unbalancing, the new deckers are Batman and CoDzilla rolled into one. Gun bunnies are going to need all the help they can get.

Emperor Tippy
2009-03-07, 06:55 PM
Yeah, but what do you expect in a world as networked as the SR world?

2009-03-07, 07:30 PM
Yeah, but what do you expect in a world as networked as the SR world?

I can't imagine playing any character, except an actual Neo-Luddite, who does not spend at least a quarter of his or her starting resources on a comlink and programs for it. And it's freaking perfect - it's cyberpunk, you're supposed to be online.

Zen Master
2009-03-07, 07:33 PM
Richard Morgans Alterered Carbon should be required reading before you're issued any dice.

Karsa Andshort
2009-03-09, 10:26 PM
Thanks, all. This is great information, particularly the correction of my misconception of Arsenal. As it happens, It turns out that I don't have quite as much free time as I thought I did, so I will eventually try to guide a party of runners through semi-dystopian mazes. When that day comes soon, these tips will be invaluable.

2009-03-10, 12:59 AM
Yeah, but what do you expect in a world as networked as the SR world?Which is one of the main problems. You've had deckers showing for what, 50 years or so that no network is unhackable. So what do they do? Start putting peoples motor controls on hackable networks. Oh yeah, that's a brilliant idea. :facepalm: Course, it's not as bad as casting "Summon Semi" and just running them all over.

2009-03-10, 01:08 AM
Which is one of the main problems. You've had deckers showing for what, 50 years or so that no network is unhackable. So what do they do? Start putting peoples motor controls on hackable networks. Oh yeah, that's a brilliant idea. :facepalm: Course, it's not as bad as casting "Summon Semi" and just running them all over.

I'll give them this: it is a brilliant solution to the traditional Decker Problem or the "OK guys, go out for coffee while I hack the database" moment :smalltongue:

2009-03-10, 01:57 AM
Oh yeah, if they'd just left it as basic "WIFI" it wouldn't be that big a problem and solved that problem. It was tying EVERYTHING into it and getting rid of VCR's that pushed it over the edge of sanity. I'm really surprised it didn't come up in playtesting. Then again, given the much lower power level in 4th than in prior editions, they may not have been thinking on scale.

2009-03-10, 02:48 AM
I have most the shadowrun 4e books, and here is my take.

Arsenal: This is the first book past the core rulebook you should buy, for a few reasons. First is that it is useful to everyone, and not just one character. It also provides lots of useful equiptment, containing many items that just need to exist and give you lots of new options and make some archtypes(rigger mainly) much better to play. The weapon & vehicle mods, along with the martial arts and expanded combat rules are just icing on the cake. Any game can be improved with this book.

After Arsenal, unwired is most likely the second book you should get. For as major as the matrix 2.0 is to the system, the rules for it in the main book are pretty anemic. This book is pretty much required if you anyone wants to be anything resembling a serious hacker, and the rules and guidelines are very useful for anyone who interacts with the matrix, which is pretty much everyone. In addition unwired provides new rules and echos for technomancers that make them much more viable as players(though if anyone wants to play a techno I'd suggest houseruling to make complex forms cheeper. Mages don't need to buy their spells in ratings, why should technos?). The setting information is also invaluable. The simple sections on how the matrix is used in day to day life really help you flesh out your world.

Street magic is my personal favorite book(biased by the fact that I virtually always play awakened characters), and it is a great book, providing lots of new spells, traditions, metamagics, and whole hosts of stuff for mages, not to mention that the new adept power and adept metamagics make adepts feel like something different then a gimped street sami(just a piece of advice to all you adepts out there, don't spend your PP increasing your attributes or getting init passes, bioware is better at it). Perhaps more valuable is the vast setting information. The sections on spirits, magical threats, astral space, the meta planes, and magical theory really fill up a void that was in the core rulebook. Street magic, however is fairly low on the priority list unless you are playing a magic intensive campaign. Whereas unwired is near essential to play a serious hacker character because the core hacking rules are vague and poorly defined, the magic rules in the core book are fine and magicians and such are perfect ally viable from the start, they don't need a book to make them playable. That said, it's still a great book

Augmentation is an interesting animal. Like street magic, perhaps it's greatest value isn't in the meat of the book(lists of new augs), but in the other sections like the new medtech rules and the setting information on the different types of ware. The new cyber and bioware is great, but it's by no means required, even for street sami characters. The main book allready has all you need to make the strongest, faster hombre on the block, so most the stuff in Aug is for people who install ware for reasons other then having stupid high combat pools(though there is some of that). There are also two new types of ware, gene and nano, which offers new types of way to augment your character without having to install weird parts in you. Nanomachines in particular provide a useful, if temporary, way to buff your character with no essence(though you can get a nanohive cyberware to make them perma). This book is about equal to street magic in terms of usefulness. All the stuff is great, but it isn't required to run any character types. Augmentation is probably useful to more characters, but street magic is more useful to the characters who use it.

Runner Companion is my second favorite book, but probably the last rulebook out of the ones listed you should buy. The first thing the book offers is a basic guide to players on how to be a good runner and assemble a good team. It really goes into what a runner is and what they do and it is very valuable information, even for veteran players. The rest of the book is devoted to character options. There are new character creation methods(the priority system which is much simpler, and the karma system which is my personal favorite), loads of new qualities, expanded lifestyle rules, and new metatypes. From changelings to metavarients to dracomorphs, the book has a slew of new types of characters to play. Want to play a cat-girl who can breath underwater? This book has it. A vampire mage with a huge starting wealth but crippling debt after creation, this book has it. A tiger-shifter adept martial artist, has that too. An AI born out of a highschool computer, totally valid. There are loads of character options in the book, some of which are really outlandish. That is the books appeal, but it is also the reason you should put off the book until you have the others. The character options in the book are kinda weird and often hard to fit into a group. It's cool that you can be a pixie, but how many players are going to benefit from rules on pixies, nagas and centaurs? Not a great deal, and in the wrong group such a character can be a huge problem. Every other book focuses on some core facet of a good running team, but this book is more about how to make truly interesting and unique characters. For the record, I fully intend on playing a free spirit in my next game.

By the by, if your want more info, try the official unofficial forums at Dumpshock (http://forums.dumpshock.com/)

2009-03-10, 03:16 AM
For an interesting read and functioning rewrite of the 4e Matrix rules, you could probably do worse than The Ends of the Matrix (http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?t=48836). It's in out-of universe style, which may bug you, but it fixes a whole bunch of exploits and actually makes sense. Anything else I might put is just the introduction but not as well written.