Product– Street Grimoire
System– Shadowrun 5e
TL; DR– Even with my favorite spell, a few problems hurt the book. 87%
Basics– There is a lot more magic than what you see on the trids, chummer. Street Grimoire is a large hardcover book covering magic in the Shadowrun 5e world. The book spends a long time discussing how magic works (or how it might work), the world and magic, different types of magic, and other canon pieces of Shadowrun before diving into adding hard, crunchy bits to the setting. It covers all types of magic from mages to adepts and everybody in between like spirits with each type of magic (spell casting, enchanting, summoning, et al) getting their own chapter.
Mechanics or Crunch– Overall, I like what’s in Street Grimoire. The book adds a ton of spells even adding my favorite spell euphoria (which used to be called Orgasm) as well as adding a large variety of new spirit options, adept powers, and magic traditions. What makes me less than amazed is the lack of qualities and the types of spells. There are a few, but most can’t be PC qualities. Also, as a magic Decker, I was kind of less amazed by the new adept powers. Some are awesome, but I felt the techno-mages kind of were left in the cold. The spells in the book are good, but nothing sticks out besides my special favorite to really make me take any at character generation. They are a little to specific and that kind of keeps me away when I only get 10 spells to start. What’s in the book is good, but I’d like a bit more. 4.25/5
Theme or Fluff- Here is where the Shadowrun books always shine. The book is written as a conversation on the Shadowrunner BBS as a character writes a long post, and all the other Shadowrunners tare into the poster with comments. It’s well done and entertaining. I just read a 200+ page anthropology book about a world that doesn’t exist, but I wasn’t bored and was pretty enthralled. Good job! 5/5
Execution-While the theme is really helped by the addition of the Shadowrunner BBS conversation, some of the important parts of the book get mixed into the conversation. Sometimes concessions for organization are made to keep the BBS format going. Those concessions can hurt the understanding of the reader. One example is the chapter on magic groups as several examples discussed, but after all the groups are mentioned the book adds a page about group organization. That would be excellent information, but the section wasn’t front loaded in a way I could follow, so I was reading about something else, then a small, in-text section describes how the groups are organized. So, I was a bit lost. That happed a few other places as well. You can find your way, but it does distract from the flow of the book. 3.75/5
Summary– Overall, this is a good book. I’m a relatively new convert to Shadowrun, so the world story side of the book is really helpful. However, this book isn’t the home run I would have hoped for. Mechanically, I want more. As a starting wizard, the book doesn’t have a ton of spells you’ll want to pick up and use. The spells here are great, but you’ll more than likely stick to the spells out of the base book. And that’s kind of a running theme for the mechanics throughout this book. Good stuff, but nothing that will make you build a starter character based on. UNLESS YOU COULD SHANTE THE WORLD SEXIEST TROLL! Just because the book brings back my favorite fourth edition spells as euphoria, it gets a higher grade simply for that. But, this book also suffers from a serious problem with organization. Sure the book “works” as I can read it fine, but as a reader, I felt lost a few times. That hurts the overall presentation. This is a good book, but it needs some work to really make this the slam dunk it could be. 87%