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Review – Shadowrun: Firing Squad

13 June, 2020

SR: FSShadowrun: Firing Squad is the first sourcebook for the Sixth World Edition of Shadowrun covering combat, always an important part of the game. The new equipment, combat options and advice widely expand the tactical choices and the discussions of the role of violence and its place in the world and characters’ lives allow for interesting roleplaying if that is your focus. A must have for any Shadowrun GM and any player who enjoy combat focused characters.

Shadowrun: Firing Squad, is the Core Combat Book for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, expanding on the combat side of the game through new gear and new rules and options. Pretty much everything a street samurai could need.

It begins with a short introduction laying out what is in the book, then we have one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, before we find the Weapons Rack section, more new toys for the violently inclined ranging from new melee weapons to guns of all sizes to crowd control water cannons. More options are always good and there is something for just about everyone, lethal, less lethal, probably non-lethal, big, small, it is all here. There are also new ammo types (two) and gear mods (though more of those later). Even a combat chainsaw (from the Ash Arms)! It does fill in some needed gabs, like a portable flame thrower but has some strangeness, such as why the ‘Xiphos’ Tactical Gladius, which is literally modeled on the classic Roman short sword, is an exotic weapon? The second part of the weapons rack section is new weaponry from rEVOlution Arms, weapon designed by Monads (if you have not been following the metaplot, human bodies and brains inhabited by AI) which all use the wild die, which has not seen much use in the game until now, and include wacky things like laser weaponry, PULSE stunners, and more. I have serious game balance questions about some of them (PULSE stunner I am looking at you) but they mostly seem like interesting bleeding edge technology to add to the game.

Suit Up comes next, which is defense to the previous section’s offense, it also introduces a “social rating” for clothes and armor that affects edge gain in social situations (surprise!). So you get everything from Ares customized ‘Bug Stomper’ armor and Mil-Spec armor to high fashion from Armante and Vashion Island. There are also a wide variety of possible modification to armor, some of which are extremely effective and will be highly sought after including one (“mystic weave”) which actually provides some protection against magic!

Customizing Weapons follows which is a section about . . . customizing weapons. Long, short, heavy, light, guns, melee, guns that are melee weapons, it is all here, get the precise weapon you want. My favorite has to be custom style which lets you get a social bonus from a properly decorated gun!

Honing Your Edge provides advice on planning for combat and basic tactics. Much of this is in character, in game world discussion which makes it more interesting. But there are also rules for tactical formations and tactical networks to give mechanical effect to the applied tactics. This is followed by Sharp Combat which includes 32(!) new Edge Actions and two new Edge Boosts. This seems like a lot of Edge Actions, because it is, but it includes all of the sorts of special maneuvers that were separate actions in previous editions, wrapping them all into Edge Actions makes sense. Play will see if tracking all the Edge Actions becomes unwieldy and if they are all relatively balanced. This section ends with Martial Arts, giving players more things to spend their precious karma on in exchange for additional options in combat. The new form of martial arts developed in the Sixth World is easily my favorite part of this section.

These Violent Delights looks at the use of violence as a tool, especially for people such as shadowrunners, both in a moral and practical context, this discussion is again almost all in world. Then it looks at some of the codes of honor existing in the Sixth World, adds a new negative quality of Pacifism and has some additional tweaks to the heat and reputation rules.

Violent Ends looks at the trauma receiving and inflicting violence can cause to people both from an in world perspective and gives mechanical rules for suffering and recovering from trauma. While I appreciate the concept and the deeper understanding of the problems of violence, actually using such rules to inflict trauma on characters seems likely to make players unhappy, so I would suggest discussing it with them before using these rules.

The last section is Fighting Forces which provide statistics for various security forces, paramilitaries (read Humanis) and gangs. Especially for the security forces I would have liked a little more information about standard unit size, expected deployments and, although basic tactics are mentioned, I would have liked that expended on as well.

The book concludes with tables of new equipment, which is nice but would be better if: 1) it incorporated the weapons from the core book, and 2) if the rEVOlution Arms listing included what sort of weapons they are as the alphabetical listing of names is not always clear. The armor list does include the armor from the core book to include the new social rating. As is sadly usual, there is no index.

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