Review – Shadowrun: Double Clutch

24 February, 2022

SR-DCShadowrun: Double Clutch is a sourcebook, specifically a “Core Rigger Rulebook” for the Sixth World Edition of Shadowrun covering vehicles and more things that can be done with them. This book is an essential addition to a GM’s collection for seeing the state of play for vehicles in the Sixth World and the rules for chases and repairing and modifying vehicles. Obviously, anyone playing a rigger or other vehicle specialist will want access to this book but GM should be careful about letting people go crazy with vehicle modifications.

Shadowrun: Double Clutch, is the Core Rigger Rulebook for Shadowrun, Sixth World Edition, providing a look at the current state of play for vehicle and drone technologies along with expanded rules for piloting vehicles and using drones.

It begins with an introduction, as expected, this one talks about why riggers are important and why you want one on your team. One of the ubiquitous fiction sections follows then we begin with: Zen & the Art of Vehicle Maintenance, a look at what rigging is like in the Sixth World, who does it and what sorts of jobs are performed by riggers. While this is all good practical advice of where and what riggers do, I would have liked a bit more about how riggers sense and perceive the world when they are rigged in, it is referenced.

Next is Hot Rods & Cool Rides, a selection of new ground vehicles. Ranging from motor cycles to tanks and everything in between. Mostly these are wheeled vehicles, as you would expect, though there are some tracked and several ground effect craft (hovercraft). Some additional information of how the ground effect vehicles interact with the environment would have been useful. How high can they get off the ground? What are the effects of moving from land to water and vice-versa? There are also a pair of exotic vehicles, a highly adaptable and versatile, but rare and distinctive, gyro-car, and a jet-powered skate board (no really).

Angry Water looks at (surprise!) water craft. The section on watercraft is well written, enjoyable to read and, unfortunately, it is about half useless for gaming purposes. Speedboats, jet skis, patrol boats, all of these vehicles could conceivably be encountered or used by the runners or both. But while four different types of sailboats are interesting how likely are they to be used? This goes double for the replica of the Cutty Sark, cool idea for a ship, but when will it (or its game statistics) ever matter? A lovely, truly lovely world background piece though. The same goes for the Aztechnology corvette, the new UCAS Battle Cruiser, and the Japanese Imperial Navy’s hunter-killer submarine, interesting to know they are out there but do their game statistics matter? Equally, there is useful information that can be provided for cruise liners, massive container ships, and factory ships but knowing their acceleration, body and armor is not part of that and is nearly pointless. My feeling is this chapter could have served a better purpose by providing game information on the small craft and a slightly higher level discussion of navies and shipping for the rest of it. But, of course, this is still the toys section of the book so everything has to have statistics and prices (because runners can certainly afford the 180 million NuYen for their own corvette).

Next up (pun intended) Rare Air, a look at available air vehicles. These are vehicles that runners are more likely to encounter, even if only to cower until they have gone past. There are some hints of wackiness that the ground and water sections could have used, with a jet-pack and glider packs. There are a variety of gliders, copter, small planes and (so nice to see them again) zeppelins. Everything runners are likely to need for smuggling or landing in restricted areas, things to highjack or get rescued by (DocWagon vehicles and such) and things to avoid, such as armed helicopters in various sizes. Overall generally useful and likely to appear in campaign using air vehicles, well except for the two fighters and the spacecraft, but also just good background material (medical tilt-rotors for example). Except, except, grav vehicles, as I mentioned in my review of Power Plays, I do not think anti-gravity technology belongs in Shadowrun, most everything else in Shadowrun is an evolution or extrapolation from existing tech (yes, AIs are off the scale tech too, but very much embedded in cyberpunk fiction) but anti-gravity . . . that is serious handwavium. Worse, if you are going to include this sort of tech and mention that it can do amazing things, you had better have rules for said amazing things!

Then we get drones in Spies, Snipers and Force Multipliers (terrible chapter name), now, drones are just fun and so flexible but much of this chapter just seems off. Again, too much space is given to high end military drones (automated tanks, mini-assault copters, drone fighter jets, submarines) and not enough domestic drones and no building or construction drones at all. Also, the prices are all very odd as there are no really low end drones (pricewise). Right now, here in the modern world, online you can get a flying quadroter drone with a camera for less than $100 but the slightly more capable (?) MicroSkimmer (from the core) is ¥850, the Bust-A-Move toy drone is ¥2,500 (!! pricy toy) and the size of an Elmo doll, while the Man-at-Arms, a man-sized armored humanoid drone capable of using weapons (up to an LMG!) Is ¥4,500? Just odd and does not fit well in a reality that I can understand how it works. However, there are a couple of fun things, the Bust-A-Move being one of them, but also a security drone that is disguised as a (working) vending machine, now that is brilliant. More weird and wacky stuff like that and less high end military hardware would have made this a much more interesting and useful chapter from this reviewers point of view.

Making it Yours in the chapter on how to modify vehicles, adding everything from sensors to alternate forms of mobility, and providing new rigger cyberware options and uses. Chapters like this are always interesting and frustrating, interesting because you get to see the interesting way you can kit out vehicles to suit just about any purpose, frustrating because some player will always find ways to abuse them and because you get weird things like you cannot make a pigeon sized drone that appears particularly realistic (maximum of two levels of realistic appearance, which anyone with an average perception will tag as a fake). Still, fun stuff for all that.

Build Your Dreams are the actual rules for building a vehicle from the ground up, so take all of my comments from the previous chapter and apply them again here. And, of course, every player is going to argue that their custom vehicles can be a junkyard frankenstein because it halves the cost to build with no disadvantages at all. Still, it gives you an idea of why the prices for some of the drones seem so out of whack with reality, they are slaved to the pricing system here. Nice idea, unconvinced about the execution.

The Grease Monkey Way talks about repairing vehicles and provides the rules for the same, defining some of the items available from the core book (tool kits, shops and facilities) and what they can be used for. Again, used parts from junkyards are the cheapest option and come with no issues which is just weird. But a solid chapter for those who wish to take the time to carefully Detail vehicle damage and repair.

Gearhead Anatomy is a wide selection of new qualities focusing on piloting and working with vehicles, not unexpected right? Fifteen Positive, including five driving styles which half the edge costs for a set of themed maneuvers, and some which open up new edge actions for technical characters. And thirteen Negative Qualities. Some quite fun additions to the options, Silver Lining, which lets you gains some benefit from a glitch and Junkyard King, which lets you find just what in needed through various routes. However, among all of this good stuff there is one terrible design choices: Attribute Mastery, which takes the mistake made by Analytical Mind in the core book and doubles down on it. Giving Edge just because you use a skill linked to that attribute goes against the entire purpose of the Edge system as I understand it, what bother to be creative when you just get an edge by doing what you built you character to do? Counterproductive at best and actively corrosive to the Edge system at worst.

The final section is The Rigger Advantage with chase rules and new Edge actions. The chase rules have variants so you can use the system to represent racing or shadowing (something which should probably show up more in Shadowrun actually).

There is an index of sorts, an alphabetical list of the vehicles, modifications, and so on. Which is great . . . if you can remember the name of what you are looking for in the first place. And as the longest section is 38-pages, for drones, which is already neatly chopped into the sub-types of drones, finding things should not be that difficult. So nice to see an index, too bad it is not as useful as it could be. What would have been more useful, from my point of view, would have been a combined table of core book and new vehicles so as a GM you could grab the statistics for, say a van, knowing you had all of the basic options at your fingertips. Also, one of the great sections of the core book was the “Other Makes and Models” section so you could rapidly produce the names of equivalent vehicles, seeing something like that here would have been nice.

Overall, a useful sourcebook verging into vital given the way it expands both the available vehicles and their uses. Every GM should add this to their list of books to pick up at some point. Though I wish it had spent less time and space on military vehicles, especially absurd things (from the point of view of a shadowrunner) like tanks, warships and fighter aircraft. While it is interesting to read have how they have adapted military gear to Sixth World technology, my campaign will never need to use them and that is just as well, my campaign would have been better served with more low end (but useful) drones and civilian vehicles.

Note: The drivethruRPG link is an affiliate link and if you purchase through it, this journal will receive a small sliver of the money.

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