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Review – Shadowrun: Market Panic

3 June, 2016

Shadowrun: Market Panic lets you know what is going on with the megacorporation at the top of the business food chain in the Sixth World of Shadowrun.  It is an interesting read and has a lot of background material that with work, could be leveraged into interesting game sessions but there is very little support for the actual game of Shadowrun in this book, it is almost entirely background material.  While a fascinating read, how much use it will actually be for a campaign depends on how tightly your game is tied into higher level corporate politics.

Shadowrun: Market Panic, is a Shadowrun Campaign Book for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, so what does that mean?  It means that this book all about the top tier megacorporations, the movers and shakers in the Shadowrun world.

The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then it looks into what life is like for the average corporate worker via a heavily noted “day in the life” report on a corporate drone.  Some interesting perspective on how life is lived among the corporate masses.  For the average game masters, this is probably the single most useful section.

Next, Courting Disaster, discusses the Corporate Court that oversees sorting out “disputes” between the major corporations.  It gives a brief history of the court and how it has become a major power in its own right even as serving as a tool of the top megacorporations.  The current judges each get a brief description but mostly this serves as a framework for the current corporate power struggles.

The rest of the product is looking at the Big Ten megacorporations in detail starting with Ares and ending with Wuxing and each starts with a one page fiction piece that tells you something about the corp followed by their corporate ranking, list of major shareholders and divisions.  While each is done in a slightly different format, generally each corporation’s history, corporate culture and current plans and troubles are examined along with a short section on typical runs for and against that megacorp are covered.

These corporate profiles are the bulk of the product, filling more than 170 pages of the 210 of the book.  There seems to be some minor editing problems as the information within each profile sometimes conflicts with those presented in others, but arguably some of that can be written off as the idiosyncratic views of the various section presenters.  But it is a bit strange to read one section about how Mitsuhama is now number one, pushing down Saeder-Krupp to the number two ranking while the NeoNet section is all about how they are almost number two.  It also assumes a fair amount of familiarity of the setting name-dropping people and places with little context that could be confusing to a new arrival to the setting.

Market Panic is an interesting sourcebook but it is essentially all deep background material.  Which is interesting reading and all unless you are running a campaign with really high powered characters, the politics between this CEO or that board of directors is really not important.  Especially not to the street level shadowrunner trying to earn the money for their next meal.  A discussion on how corporate politics affect shadowrunner and runners would have been helpful and made this book more than just an interesting read.

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