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Review – Shadowrun: Book of the Lost

3 August, 2017

SR Book of the LostShadowrun: Book of the Lost is a campaign book for Shadowrun and provides a considerable amount of potential adventure for a GM. But is it necessary? Not really, unless your group is already intrigued by the Sixth World Tarot, you do not have to prioritize this book, it is pretty and has quite a bit of fun stuff but all of it will need to be adapted to your campaign. But if a tarot hunt sound like it would be fun for you and your players, then pick this up.

Shadowrun: Book of the Lost, is a Shadowrun Campaign Book for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, this particular book covers how to use the Sixth World Tarot (SWT) in a Shadowrun game and how, story-wise, that tarot deck is affecting the word of Shadowrun. The book is jam packed with beautiful full color art, much of it from the SWT, but, my, there is a lot of art.

After a short introduction to what is in the book, we get two fiction sections, and then it moves into what is known about the SWT in the setting. The chapter called Deck Building talks about the major players who are hunting the SWT and some of the tactics they use. A variety of plot hooks are scattered through this section waiting to catch a GM’s eye.

Next is Aligning the Court which deals with the interaction between the Seelie Court and the Tarot, essentially a useless section if you are not playing a Fae Court game at least it is short. More art and Using Themes and Motifs follows and gives some general advice, do not interpret the cards too literally, and gives an out for the GM (in the form of an NPC, the Wondering Fool) to help players who get lost.

Items and Objects is two parts, first an insetting lecture about the symbolism of the things that appear in the SWT (if you have a deck, it would be good to have it available as you read through this section). Interesting but very dense going without the cards as reference. The second half is a set of divinations (again, in setting) and possible interpretations thereof (i.e., plot seeds).

After more art and a very short piece of fiction there is People, a bunch of snapshots of people involved directly or indirectly in the hunt for the SWT. Useful as NPCs, just to namedrop or as plot seeds, or some mix there of. This section provides considerable amount of inspirational stuff for your game here. Next up, Taco Temple, a new fast food chain that has sprung up in the last couple of years and appears on multiple SWT cards. This section discusses what might be the secrets behind Taco Temple and its relationship to the SWT, interesting if convoluted stuff.

Codes and Puzzles is the setup for how to use the SWT in game, starting with what a character is likely to know about it, then moving into how the various power players perceive it. Then some, but not all, of the puzzles presented on the cards are discussed, others are hinted at. But the bulk of this section is sample operations and campaigns building off of the puzzles on the cards, given who is hunting the SWT some of the easy missions seem, well, too easy when they involve actual acquisition of cards from the SWT. But these puzzles provide a good foundation to work from if you want to integrate the SWT into your campaign.

Cards as Augury talks about how to use the SWT as, well, a tool for prediction. This section covers how its symbolism differs from most tarot decks and some of the patterns that appear in the SWT. It also provides some advice on using divination in a game which is always tricky.

Ending the primary resources is Power of the Cards, which talks about what sort of magic can be worked with the cards themselves, these are usually ritual and are tied to possessing four of the same card (say “2s”) of the minor arcana or any card of the major arcana. Looking at the sorts of effects the cards can generate, it is easy to see why people are hunting for them. But be warned, the effects from some of the cards are potentially campaign changing, a GM should think very carefully before letting the power of the cards loose in their game.

The final section is a bunch of stat blocks for the people referenced in the People section, the problem is, it is mostly just stat blocks. A few get a couple of sentences of tactics, some get a paragraph of background info, but mostly just page after page of stats. There are three new mentor spirits, an alternate Raven, Goddess and Lion, and the highest of high end comlink as new equipment, scattered through here as well. And, as is mostly usual for Shadowrun books, no index.

This book looks beautiful with the color pieces from the SWT scattered throughout and there is so much implied adventure here as long as you want to focus on the magic and mystical side of the Shadowrun setting. If you prefer to focus on the grim and gritty cycberpunk side, this book will not give you much to use. Still, a worthwhile addition to a GM’s library if not a priority.

Note: The link is an affiliate link and if you purchase through it, the author will receive a small amount in payment.  Which I appreciate, thank you.

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