Ring Side Report- Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box Set

Product– Shadowrun Sixth World Beginner Box Set

System-Shadowrun 6th Edition

Producer-Catalyst

Price– $30

TL; DR-Strong start to the six edition.  95%%

Basics-What’s old is new again!  Shadowrun celebrates its 30th anniversary with its 6th edition. Let’s dive deep into the new edition and see if its wizzer or hot drek.

base mechanics-attribute + skill, roll that many six sided dice, count 5s and 6s for good, over half 1s is bad.  Same dice pool mechanics you know and love and most likely won’t ever change under the current Shadowrun development team.

So What changed?

Edge– Edge is one of the two MASSIVE differences in 6th Ed.  In 5th Edition, you rerolled dice or rolled extra dice at the start of a pool.  Now, edge is more an ala cart menu where a character choices to reroll extra dice, add successes, or even change the critical glitch range of an opponent.  You can only choose one option each round, but now edge begins to flow a lot more. Gear, items, and even differences in ability between you and your opponent will earn you up to two edge an ACTION.  That means some people with impressive defences being fired at by multiple opponents will earn edge each attack, not each round! So edge is gonna flow quickly.

Combat-Combat keeps the spirit of the previous edition but massive changes to how actions work and the nature of killing each other.  For actions, there are two types of actions: minor and major. Minor are smaller actions like moving while major are your spellcasting and attacking.  This ties into initiative. Initiative is still reaction and initiative plus a d6. A character gets two minor action to start and one more minor action for each d6 beyond the first.  This ties into multiple attacks. Four minor actions can be converted to one major action meaning if you have 3d6 or more dice for initiative, you can make two attacks a round.

In addition, initiative isn’t rerolled nor do we ever remove counts as we go through a round of initiative.  Initiative is just rolled once, play moves from high to low, and goes back to the high. Just like most other RPGs.

Killing People– The bread and butter of Shadowrun is shooting people, and this is still strong in 6th Ed.  When you want to kill somebody, you now compare the attackers attack value (determined by the range of the weapon) vs. the defence value of the target’s armor.  If someone has an advantage of four or more in this comparison, that character earns one edge. In addition, both people may earn edge based on situational modifiers such as darkness and abilities.  The target of the attack rolls a number of d6s equal to the reaction and intuition while the attacker rolls a number of d6s equal to their agility and firearm skill with both sides counting fives and sixes as successes.  The side with more wins with ties now going to the attacker. If the attacker wins, the difference in hits is added to the attackers weapon damage. A massive change is now the defender only rolls a number of dice equal to its body attribute with the five and sixes reducing damage as in 5th edition.  Since the defender doesn’t have many dice to reduce the damage, weapon damage is also reduced as well.

Magic– Magic is also revamped.  When you cast a magic spell, you no longer choose a threshold as thresholds are no longer part of the game.  You roll a number of d6s equal to your magic and spellcasting attribute. Each spell has a number of success needed to cast the spell and expressly indicates how a target avoids the damage.  It’s clearly written and I not

Skills-Skills are massively reduced with multiple skills being rolled into one skill

Ok, now let’s look at my thoughts.

Mechanics or Crunch-The crux of the game is the d6 rolling system, and that doesn’t change.  I love the reduced skills and faster flow of the game. The flow of edge is fun as it provides more player control over the game and less like subjective story candy.  The nature of magic and matrix actions also works well. The one thing I’m kind of iffy on is the nature of armor. Armor and weapons having a separate state is ok, but I don’t like that armor is divorced from reducing damage.  That feels off. But otherwise, the nature of quick play becomes central to the gunfight nature of the game. I’m optimistic about the nature of the full game’s mechanics. 4.75/5

Theme or Fluff-It’s Shadowrun.  You like corporate dystopia and Tolken fantasy, you’re going to like what 6th edition still is.  This is more awesome future fantasy in Shadowrun 6th edition. 5/5

Execution-The box set is well put together.  I like the layout of the books. The character sheets teach the game well to new players.  The biggest issue I have with the quick start rules is I would like a few more pages of explanation to some of the materials.  I discussed the materials with a few other Shadowrun GMs and those discussions really helped me solidify the rules. Most people will not have that luxury.  The full rules will clear up those issues, but for now, a few more pages would help tie the material together. In addition the art looks amazing, so that gets me ready for a whole new attitude to play.  If you want to see a full breakdown of the product check out my unboxing here:https://youtu.be/ruxgYe5usLw   4.5/5

Summary-I’m looking forward to this edition.  The changes look good and thought out, for the most part.  I think it’s gonna take me a few games to come around on the armor thing.  It’s not bad, but it is different. Good different? We’ll see. The rest looks like well done, modern game design streamlining the process and avoiding the random crap that really don’t make a game fun.  The physical product is amazing as well. Solid cardboard and writing help get me into this one. I just need more of it to really make my life as a gamer easier. That said, I’m in. I’m invested in the 6th edition of Shadowrun. 95%

Ring Side Report- Keeping It Classy: The Barbarian

Product– Keeping It Classy: The Barbarian

System-Dungeons and Dragons 5e

ProducerKim Frandsen

Price– $5 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/275287/Keeping-It-Classy-The-Barbarian?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– Fantastic Third Party Content! 99%

Basics-BARBARIAN! Can you solve the riddle of steel?  Keeping it Classy: The Barbarian is exactly what it puts out to be-a barbarian splat book, but it’s even got a more for the rest of the table.  Tons of new content for your barbarian characters and a bit of extra stuff for the non-barbarians out there with a new race, backgrounds, and some new toys.  Let’s take a look at this book.

Mechanics or Crunch– This is a great book with lots of amazing content!  The new paths are great. The new race is fun, and the new toys and backgrounds will fit anybody.  Heck this one book has more barbarian content than almost all the current official DnD books out there!  It’s not perfect as a few small issues crop up in wording on abilities, but you can easily look past that to see a phenomenal product. 4.9/5

Theme or Fluff-Your barb is not just a dumb meat shield.  This book gives your hunk of muscle story from fun backgrounds to each path getting a full story treatment.  Each path entry is short enough to not keep it in one world or setting, but long enough for it to be something to latch onto and build more of.  This is the same for everything else here. Backgrounds? Not too long to wear out the welcome, but long enough to really get you hooked. Lizardperson race?  Fun and full of enough story to make it something you want to read, but won’t lose interest in like an encyclopedia. Weapons? Pictures and descriptions for you to see in your minds eye.  All told, this is a great product for the story based groups out there. 5/5

Execution–  PDF?  Check!  Hyperlinked?  CHECK! Great layout and ease of readability?  CHECK! This is a product you can fly through, see the flow and major beats of in five minutes, and then dive back into for each section you want to really learn about.  It’s a fun read that flies by. I also like the liberal use of pictures. Most of the pictures are free to use art, and that’s not bad! The pictures are related to the text, and the pictures break up the text while reinforcing the ease of readability.  There is new art, and that is well done too! There are a few things I do think are a bit different such as weapons getting two sections instead of one describing the weapon and any special properties. Not wrong by any stretch, but it’s different. Also of note the book is five bucks for 40 pages.  The core DnD book (which isn’t hyperlinked or a PDF!) is 293 pages for about 40 bucks originally, so this is below price for the content your are getting! All of this adds together to a well crafted, fun to read book. 5/5

Summary–  I really like this book.  It’s a quick read that’s a fun read while still being a satisfying read.  It’s a barbarian splat book that doesn’t just have barbarian stuff in it. It’s got enough fun pieces that any players may want to pick this up.  Have an hour and want to see a well produced book? Check this one out! 99%

Ring Side Report- Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh

Product– Shadowrun: Chrome Flesh

System– Shadowrun 5e

ProducerCatalyst Game labs

Price– $24.99 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/151893/Shadowrun-Chrome-Flesh?term=chrome+flesh?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR– Solid book for solid chrome! 95%

Basics– We can make you better, stronger, faster!  Chrome Flesh is the Shadowrun book focusing on our chromed out runners who are more machine than man.  This book provides several options that run the gambit from new metal to shove into your arm, living organism that live inside you, and the dreaded nanites!  This book also builds on the nanite CFD storyline that is forefront in Shadowrun 5e now while building out the world in general.

Mechanics or Crunch– This book is pretty, but maybe a little to pricey regarding your soul.  I like what the book has on offer, but most of the new teck feels a bit too essence heavy or have too many drawbacks such as touching nanites at all.  The newer things suchs the biotech feel like there should be more new tech. I’d like more of the new and less of the old chrome. But, what is here I do like seeing. 4.5/5

Theme or Fluff-This is where Shadowrun books have always excelled and keep doing so.  The book reads like a reddit thread with chapters starting with a story, moving to a discussion by one person in the world, and then the hard crunch.  The fluff of the story and the discussion really make the world feel alive. Even details regarding the tech feel realistic. A solid story and character interaction and delivery really makes the book shine.  5/5

Execution–  This book looks pretty, has a good lay out, and has amazing tables that really help you use the old and new tech together and even find it!  But, there are a number of small errors that take away from the presentation like errors at the top of tables mislabeling essence and capacity.  Also, I love the story, but the repeated nature of a few of the stories and character discussion make this book run a little too long. Solid book with a few errors hurting the presentation.  4.8/5

Summary-A chromed out Street Sam is always a fun addition to a team.  Chromed Flesh adds lots of new toys for the metal men in your life.  Also, this book really makes you feel like you’re in the world of Shadowrun reading updates on Jackpoint.  It’s not completely perfect as some of the crunch needs more options to fill out the roster of available tech and some minor issues mare a great book.  However, most of these problems can be forgiving by the fact this this book provides updated tables showing where all the chrome toys are in the books. If you are looking for a solid book for a character who wants to trade essence to punch through an engine block, then this is the book for you. 95%

 

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Starfinder Adventure Path #1: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)

Product– Starfinder Adventure Path #1: Incident at Absalom Station (Dead Suns 1 of 6)

System– Starfinder

Producer-Paizo

Price– $23.00 here https://paizo.com/products/btpy9tmf?Starfinder-Adventure-Path-1-Incident-at-Absalom-Station

TL; DR-Not the brightest star, but a decent start.  83%

Basics– ARE YOU READY FOR ADVENTURE!?  Incident at Absalom Station kicks off the first Starfinder adventure path.  Players step off the ship and into gangland warfare as their contact is gun downed within seconds of seeing him.  Why? What dark secrets are at play? Who is involved? Also, this book contains a gazatier on Absolom station, several new monsters, and a whole new world for your players to play in.

Mechanics or Crunch-Ah the intro adventure!  What can a level 1 nothing do on their first day?  Not much, but LOTS OF SKILL CHECKS! Paizo has a history in their adventure paths of having players do lots of checks to get past those first few levels.  This adventure is no different. It’s not bad, but once you get past the first fight, its checks. And, if your party doesn’t have the right checks, then its a slog.  Past that its balanced and fun. After the checks, there are some simple space fights to get those mechanics out there, an exploration with some progressive fights to get those mechanics out there, and then we’re off to the next adventure book.  Overall it’s balanced, but the standard paint by numbers of a new RPG needs to really get players into the system and teach them the rules can be a bit boring. 4.25/5

Theme or Fluff-Repeat after me-PLAYERS HATE FIGHTS WHERE THE ENEMIES SHOULD RUN AWAY.  I’m not talking big bads, I’m talking regular grunts above the player’s level.  Players want to KILL! This adventure starts with gang war above the players pay grade, and the players want everyone dead.  It’s not supposed to happen, but my players are always EVIL, SPITE-FILLED MONSTERS who must kill EVERYONE! If that describes your players, then as written, they will be mad.  For check section I mentioned above, the players need to talk to people, and if your party decides Charisma is for suckers, then that is a SUPER slog as my Cha 10 fighter attempts to talk to people as the -1 to -2 modifier other players hope for 20s to even get the middle of the ground information.  Past that first fitful start, it’s a fun adventure as players can find the roles they need and better understand what they should do next. This adventure runs like a train-slow, clunky start but then smooth sailing the rest of the way. 4/5

Execution-PDF?  Check! Hyperlinked?  NOPE! Why not hyperlink this book?  It’s 60+ pages! Next, Starfinder isn’t going to get the 64 page world building books that went with the Pathfinder line.  That’s ok, but now my players don’t get as much world building as before as unless I print of sections and hand those out, they players either can read the book or spoil the adventure.  The items are nice, the monsters are interesting and have great pictures, and the layout is well done. But, no new races! Part of the fun of Starfinder is if you want to be an intelligent mist, then we got stats for that baby!  But, I’m not seeing that here. Throw me a new playable race each mod! There are a few other issues as some things just don’t fit well. The water world of Heicoron IV is ok, but there are no mentions of how I can play either of the races that live there.  It feels thrown in. It’s not bad, but reference your other books or give me stats, so I can have a whole adventures with the fish people. This is a good but, but it has some flaws that do knock it down a bit 4.25/5

Summary-I’m ready for more, but I have some notes.  Overall, I like what’s here. It’s done well, readable, and a good introduction to the mechanics of the system.  The story itself has a few issues, but those issues are part of every adventure path’s start. I have more notes on the new execution of the Starfinder line.  I want separate books and changes to how they are produced. New races, new tech in the books, and some focus will help improve this line. Will I get that? Most likely not.  But, as a GM running a game, I think this is a good way to get your players rolling dice and understanding how to play Starfinder 83%

Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Arcanis 5E Campaign Setting

Product– Arcanis 5E Campaign Setting

System– DnD 5e

Producer-Paradigm Concepts, Inc.

Price– $25.00 here https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/234910/Arcanis-5E-Campaign-Setting?affiliate_id=658618

TL; DR-Shades of grey are finally comprehensible!  95%

Basics-For the EMPIRE!  FOR ILLIIR! Arcanis was a campaign setting for 3.5 DnD which grew to its own game when 4th edition happened, and finally is coming back into the DnD mechanics with a conversion of DND 5e.  How does the world of the Shattered Empires stack up with a 5e rebuild? Let’s get into it!

Mechanics or Crunch-I usually start with theme, but let’s go mechanics first.  If you like 5e DnD, then you will like this. This isn’t a scrap to the base boards rebuild of DnD 5e, it’s a new implementation using the same base mechanics of proficiency, hit dice, et al. you most likely love from DnD 5e.  And honestly, that a good thing. I could give any person playing “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” an Arcanis character and they would be playing in seconds. So that begs the question, what’s different? Well some things are just simple reskins.  The Fury is the Barbarian. It’s got some different parts to it, but let’s be honest-it’s just a new name. Not bad, some theme for Arcanis added, but it is what it is. Some get a much more exhaustive change. Paladins are holy champions, and they might be a tad overpowered if you build them right, but that’s a criticism of DnD 5e itself.  Holy Champions get god specific paths to take that really hit theme hard with powers appropriate to the gods of the setting. The same thing for clerics. There are new races with instructions on how to change DnD straight races toward Aracnis races like there are no Tieflings, but there are Dark kin. New feat trees are brought in so you can master a fighting style with both introduction and advanced versions of those feats.  The book also introduces psionics in a heavy way, but honestly, it’s just the same mechanics you’ve seen time and time again in DnD 5e vanilla. You have powers, the DC of the power is 8 + ability mod + proficiency or you attack with a power and you use ability modifier + proficiency. DONE. Vanilla is my favorite base for ice cream, so this isn’t a bad. Rocky road starts Vanilla, and that’s what this book did. It took the base stuff you know and like and made it something you will love. 4.8/5

Theme or Fluff-So what is Arcanis?  Well, that’s probably the best thing this book does.  You get to feel the Shattered Empires honestly better than before.  It’s a pretty weighty tome coming in over 400 pages, so you get a lot of backstory.  And that’s really what this world needs. I came in when DnD 4e brought about a major change in the RPG world around it.  The Aracnis alone system wasn’t bad, but it relied heavily on me having books that we not in print and knowledge for a world that I could not find.  So, I was honestly in the dark for large portions of this world. Heck, there wasn’t even a great map available. I had fun with what I understood and playing in, so off I went playing and running Arcanis all over.  But, I would always run in to diehards who knew stuff from the wayback. The 5e book fixes this smashingly. I get better breakdowns in things. It’s big, but doesn’t have to dedicate all the pages the base DnD system does to the base rules just saying “GO SEE THE OTHER BOOK YOU BOUGHT!” and can dedicate those words to how the world works.  That’s amazing! The mechanics have been adapted and modified to meet the needs of the theme. Again, that’s a phenomenal way to build your world. As a GM when I run games with this book, I’m not lost. I feel like I finally know as much or MORE than my players. Sure, they are also republishing all the old books with updated rules, but this is a good way to hop in to a world of multiple different empires and groups fighting and in-fighting for control in a quzi roman world.  5/5

Execution-And the low point because I’m a bit petty.  I like the way this book is laid out. I like the text style, but it might be a bit too small.  I like the background, but I would like a background free version to read on my tablet. It comes in a PDF from Drive Thru RPG, so I’m thrilled that we’re moving Arcanis to the Paper free world.  But the things that makes me the least happy is no-hyperlinks in the text. This book is 400 plus pages. Thats a lot of hopping around trying to find pages. Just link the book! The book is bookmarked, so if you read on some readers, you will be fine.  Honestly, it’s small things that minorly annoyed me about this book, but as the RPG industry moves forward, I want hyperlinked PDFs to become the standard! 4.4/5

Summary-The real two remaining question to if you want this book is 1-Do you like the 5e DnD rules? And 2-do you want morally ambiguous semi-roman age fantasy?  If you don’t like 5e DnD, then this book still has lots of background that you might want to put into your game. If you don’t like shades of gray in your fantasy but love DnD 5e, then this is a great source book for crunch including psionics which WotC needs to get out there before they end up just copying these guys.  I like this book. I like the shades of gray fantasy that Arcanis bring to the table and using 5e is a great way to get people into the world extremely quickly since 5e is a snap to learn. My only qualms with this book are technical. Give me a backround free version if I want to print and bind myself or read on a tablet and HYPERLINK THE BOOK!  Will that stop me from reading this? No. This books is a well done resource from a fun world where a fallen Roman empire battles snake people for dominance of long lost relics that belonged to the elven gods that the Roman gods ate for power using slick mechanics. Ya, that’s an Arcanis sentence if I ever saw one. If you want to play in that world, then you need to get this book NOW! 95%