Review – Shadowrun: Slip Streams

30 September, 2020

Slip StreamsShadowrun: Slip Streams is very much a book for Games Masters, lots of information, lots of adventure seeds, all expanding on the effects that magic is having on the world. If the magic side of Shadowrun story is your jam, this is the book for you. Otherwise, it is an interesting read and there are no lack of adventure ideas that it throws off. For players, the in game information is a fun read and the new character option is intriguing but not for all campaigns, talk with your GM first.

Shadowrun: Slip Streams, is a Plot Sourcebook for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, expanding on the magical situation across the world but with a focus on events affecting North America.

As is expected, it begins with a brief introduction and a glossary of terms related to astral space, this is very handy and important to what follows. Then the requisite fiction section before the meat of the product begins.

The first section, Frayed Fabric, take a look at the weird events happening across the world, weird in this case meaning magical, ranging from echoes of other times and places to full on gateways between Earth and various metaplanes (other places, usually very magical in nature). This is all in world information but there are a handful of sidebars explaining how certain things function in terms of game mechanics. I highly approve of this, there is little more annoying that having things described that change the way a game world works and then not providing any mechanics for it, even if I think a few of the mechanics could have been more clearly expressed, it is still the right way to do things. However, there lots of interesting things in this section to drop in as background to a game or to use as plot hooks.

Next is Soldiers of III Corps, which ties into one of the big mysteries alluded to in the Cutting Black book, the disappearance of III Corps of the UCAS Army. Now, let me begin by saying that this plot line simply does not work for me, if a third of a nation’s army disappeared (and it is explicitly noted as a third), over 100,000 people in this case, plus a small town of 40 or so thousand people, vanished, it would be noticed. No official look-down on the news or denial is going to conceal that, yet here, it happens. But back to the book, the area from which the disappearance happened has been locked down, tight, by the UCAS government and a mysterious research facility is being built there and rapidly expanded, surely this will end well. The soldiers of III Corps are beginning to return but they are . . . different. Not just mentally messed up, though there is that too, but bleeding purple blood different. Most seemed to have been trapped in a place called Dis, which will figure more as we go on, and bad things happened to them. But the returnees are showing up all over the world and there is a race to get them both by the UCAS Government and other interested parties, things are getting messy, but good work for Shadowrunners. This section concludes with a page of statistics for the guards at the site of the disappearance and nasty people they are too.

Bad Mojo how some of the various power players are trying to leverage the weird things happening to their advantage ranging from various corporations (natch) to a variety of magical groups. Again, good for background material and adventure ideas.

Who you gonna call? Details some of the magical organizations, starting with seven pages on the Black Lodge which somehow fail to actually provide anything useful (for me anyway), but the Black Lodge is one of my least liked Shadowrun trope groups, so this is not surprising. It tries to make the claim that they are not really evil, they just do evil things because . . . *mumble**mumble*. The Aleph Society gets some new information about their quest to bring magic to the masses (but to themselves first). The current status of the Astral Space Preservation Society (hint: they are not doing well) who are one of the few actual white hats in the Shadowrun setting, so nice to see some more info on them. And twelve more organizations including the Voodoo based collective Cracking the Bones and the Catholic Church’s magical investigations, the Order of St. Sylvester. Good information here and many potential enemies and employers.

Hiring Board is, well, exactly what you would expect from that heading, various job opportunities for people. A good idea, not so strong execution. Many of them are only one paragraph long and some get a sidebar giving additional game details but several are extrapolated from pieces in earlier chapters (and thus did not really need to be made explicit here) or give a hiring brief for a massive campaign which the GM will have to make up for bit and pieces in this book. I think an entirely out of game, “look here are ways to work these ideas into your campaign with some mechanics to support it” would have been far more helpful.

Cast of Shadows is a mix of generic and specific NPCs, a few spirits and a new creature. Some of the characters are tied to adventures in the Hiring Board section (but neither directly references the other, a few see p xx links would have been helpful here, people). Again, such things are always vaguely useful for a GM but a few of the specific character would have been better presented as clear examples of this sort of role played by an NPCs who has been influenced / empowered by the magic of a metaplane that wants X to happen.

Lastly, there is new Game Information for various things covered in the book, including new rituals, effects of mana flows, and rules for playing returned soldiers (purple blood and all). Interesting stuff though the GM should be careful and not use it all at once. Sadly, no index, which is especially annoying for a product with multiple sidebars which may need to be referenced.

Overall, a useful resource and good read for a Shadowrun GM. Though again, I lament the (over)emphasis on magic at the expense of everything else. What I liked about Shadowrun is the mix of cyberpunk and fantasy tropes and multiple ways to build to the same effect but the recent direction seems to be all about the magic with technology a poor second.

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