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Review – Stolen Souls (for Shadowrun)

10 October, 2014

Shadowrun: Stolen Souls advances elements of the Sixth World’s metaplot while providing some useful resources and advice.  Do you need this book?  Well, if you want to understand the mystery of the Head Cases, yes.  If you want to run a game set in 2070s New York, yes.  But for me, it is the discussion of extraction tricks and tactics that makes this book immensely useful as it is one of my favorite types of mission to use as a GM.  But your campaign is your campaign, so see if this will help and purchase it if the answer is yes.

Shadowrun: Stolen Souls is a heavy metaplot sourcebook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun providing information on the CFD (Cognitive Fragmentation Disorder) ‘virus’ that is turning people into, well, different people referred to as “head cases” as well as a few other subjects, such as what is going on in New York and advice for extractions.

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then a (in game world) discussion of CFD, its possible origin or origins, how it spreads, how it manifests and what means have been tried to cure victims of it.  This is the largest part of the book, tasking up about half of the page count between in game information and new rules for CFD.  CFD and head cases are an important development in the Shadowrun metaplot, an existential threat to all but especially users of nanotech.  But, as it “rewrites” the personality of the effected, it should be used on player characters only with extreme caution, and certainly with permission before hand, as it is a huge assault on player autonomy.  My recommendation would be to primarily use CFD as a background element and threat but rarely have the player characters directly encounter it (unless they want to make the campaign about it).

Next we move to New York, a battleground for a variety of major players but especially between NeoNET and Saeder-Krupp both seeking to claim the “largest megacorp” spot and the Big Apple seems to be the focal point for that showdown.  There is lots of good information on the city but some supporting contacts and adventure seeds could have really made this sing as far as usefulness for a GM goes.  And an image of the new New York skyline would have gone a long way toward helping to sell the image of the city they are trying to describe here.

Lastly, there is a section entitled Stealing Living Goods which focuses on that most Shadowrun of mission, the extraction (kidnaping by another name).  This section is useful for both GM and player to understand the tricks and perils of the extraction game and what can go wrong, which is a lot.  There is also new magic, both spells and adept powers, useful for non-combat tricks, handy drugs, new vehicles (and rules to modify them to look official) and other handy items to aid in the performance of extractions.  Something for just about everyone in the new toys department.

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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