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Review – Dirty Tricks (Shadowrun)

16 October, 2013

Dirty Tricks provides information about politics in the world of Shadowrun, which is a vicious and dangerous game even more so then today.  It is a useful reference for games masters who want to mix politics with their games or just understand the way such things work in the Sixth World

Shadowrun: Dirty Tricks, a Deep Shadows Sourcebook, begins with the usual short piece of fiction, next it moves into a short primer on politics, focusing on what makes voter tick and what tricks are used to manipulate them.  There is some good information here, mostly using mid to late 20th century examples.  It then moves onto scandals, executive entertainment (escort services), and taking the bullet (bodyguards and security).  These sections contain good general information on politics and are a useful reference for both the GM and players.

After laying the groundwork for political games (in both sense of the word) it moves on to various political hot spots:
•    Seattle, at the exact point that Proposition 23 is going to the vote . . . and its immediate after effects.  It’s a good time in old Seattle, oh, yes.
•    UCAS, an overview of the politics including the upcoming presidential election, senatorial races and various local flashpoints.  This provides good adventure seeds and some additional background on the hot issues in UCAS politics (and how they affect runners) is provided at the end of the section.
•    The South, mostly about the CAS but also some information of Aztlan and Pueblo, there have been big changes in that region which have opened up jobs for shadowrunners.
•    Tsimshian, politics at the edge of the NAN, a small nation and in rough shape -and thus open to Shadowrunners- but it gives a window into some of the wider debates as well.
•    United Kingdom, the Mother of Parliaments is not in the best of shape, new politics, new coalitions.  This section is very much an overview of the current situation in the UK with a few hints towards potential jobs.

Next, the Power Brokers section gives some details on the secret societies and individuals who shape politics from behind the scenes and what their goals are, probably.  Not sold on conspiracies myself, but they do make good gaming fodder.

Lastly, Game Information, a slim six pages of how to apply the information in the book and at least two plots hooks (but not more than four) for each section of the book.

If a GM wants to bring politics to the front and center of their Shadowrun campaign, this is the book for you, otherwise, it is a useful reference as to how politics work in the former US parts North America (with some new info on Tsimshian and the UK).  Though, oddly, the California Free State is only mentioned obliquely, you would think that the UCAS and CAS would have a little more interest in it.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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