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Zhan Shi
I have yet to see a Shadowrun (game) book which I would call "bad". The books I liked the least were the various Rigger books, but that's just because vehicles/drones/rigging have never interested me.

My personal choice for best SR book, if I were forced to only pick one, would be "Cyberpirates!" Info on a part of the SR world which does not see a lot of press (Africa), plus some of the most entertaining Shadowland chatter.

Favorite SR adventure: Universal Brotherhood; or more properly, "Missing Blood". It's got Nigel Findley's evocative fiction, plus some of the creepiest art ever in an SR product.

While the merits of Shadowrun novels have seen considerable debate, I do find them valuable for the backround info they provide. My favorite novels in this regard would be the "Dragonheart Trilogy".
For reasons I really don't understand myself the first rigger black book will always be my top favorite.

Least favorite I suppose would be the 3rd edition ... lets see ... Players Companion? that introduced all the 'other' races of metahuman. There were a few useable parts of the book but coming from 1st and 2nd edition it just seemed like a lot of the stuff in there was unnecessary filler around the 1 or 2 things I might actually have used.
I hate to break it to you, but most material in the 3rd Ed Companion was taken from 2nd Ed Companion. Only the Ghul was new IMO.
My greatest dislikes up until this point have been the various Shadowrun companions. They introduced a lot of stuff that didn't need introducing, and then did it badly (ie shapeshifter PCs). I also disliked YotC (inspite of having written for it) because of SURGE, and finally Renraku Arcology:Shutdown.

The thing all of these have in common is that they all basically tried to turn Shadowrun in to something it, until that point, had not been. Of course some people will like that exact same element, but for me, they were big turn offs.

My favorite books? Shadowtech, for the awesome and informative Shadowtalk, Corporate Shadowfiles for basically being an Economics 101 book (I know nothing about economics) that was directly useful to me as a GM in so many 'runs. And SR4, for tempting me to come back to Shadowrun after I walked away (see YotC and Arcology Shutdown) and keeping me here now that I'm back
Mine's more like a top group : Cybertechnology - mostly for the Hatchet Man section, Virtual Realities - only for the fiction w/ Renny, Underworld SB (weakness for the syndicates), New Seattle, Dragons of the Sixth World.

But I would have to say that the one book I read again and again is Shadows if Europe.
Im a huge fan of Shadowbeat, for the musical/media inclusions...yay creating rockers and journalists that get tied up in running! grinbig.gif

I also really liked Fields of had great crunch with the weapons(yeah, the Barret Model was there but it wasn't all THAT bad now), but Matador's commentary in that book was fantastic, and i think anyone looking to get into the Shadowrun game should be made to read it. It could certainly cut down on the ''mindless killers'' that people could bring in.

Shadowtech had great additions to the game as well as really good Matrix-chat going on.

Rigger Black Book i kind of like for nostalgic reasons. It's REALLY old-school looking but fun anyway.

(EDIT: Target: Wastelands!!!) and Shadows of Europe were two of my favorite of the SR3 books, with Magic in the Shadows following suit. They were really well written and a great read, and brought alot to the table, in rules or background, or both.

And i didn't mind the companions. We got some great mileage out of them.

Im not sure if i have a least favorite, but the old Matrix 2 book i think i read once and put aside. It improved alot later, but that one i recall just not giving me enough fantastic info as compared to some of the others ive read.

EDIT: I edited this post because of a massive brainfart. I stuck down ''Survival of the Fittest'' because i was thinking ''the book which gave rules for surviving in different places, like arctic, desert and space'' which was, indeed, Target: Wastelands. It had nothing to do with the damn GDs. grinbig.gif
SotA: '64 has a ton of stuff in it I've used over and over again. I dig Adepts, I dig cops and robbers, I dig spies -- voila. My SoNA book just kind of falls right open to the Tir Tairngire section (I got a lot of mileage out of it), and I'm a big elf fanboy so both of the original Tir books are favorites of mine. For all it's many flaws, I love Cannon Companion.

The Rigger books only have one thing to them I like (the "alternate names/same stats" section for each individual vehicle's write-up, something I wish they'd do for firearms also). I could get MitS down to about fifteen pages (I use the hell out of those fifteen, but so much of the rest of it has gone to waste on me it's not even funny) easily.
The original Tir Tairngire book really ramped up the paranoia level for me, but I read it at exactly the right time, before the IE's started getting mentioned a lot. I also really enjoyed the CalFree book, even though I never ran any games in CalFree. Always wanted to, never got around to it. (I still have a six module semi-campaign in outline form designed to go the length of California, somewhere.)

Cyberpirates!, as I mentioned in another topic, really set the bar for grim, meathook dystopia. And that's just for Africa and the Phillipines. (The Caribbean chapter was a bit of a wash for me, too cartoony.) Target: Wastelands was the last book I bought for SR3, and it had all the survival rules in it which I trotted out for the SR: Africa game I was running at the time. It was fun to get the game out into the wilderness.

Going back to SR1&2, the worst books were always the modules. Did any group ever get captured in Harlequinn? My favorite example though comes from Dragonhunt, in which a 5+1d6 Initiative npc is supposed to get the drop on the pc's in their own home, threaten them, and then get away "before anyone can react". The best module I ever ran for SR was CP2020's Eurotour, in part because I went in knowing the mechanics were inapplicable and I should make up everything on my own.

For some reason, I was the only GM in my group to go in for the Critter books, but I liked those too. PAoNA more than PAoE, because I thought the Europe book had a tendency to go over the top, but there was some good stuff in there. (The size comparison for the Megladon always gave me chills, but I have a pathological fear of animatronic sharks.)
It's funny what people like and don't.

My personal least favourite is the Underworld Sourcebook, I'm really not interested in the criminal syndicates, and if I need a Tong I'll make one up.

My favourite is Bug City, I also like Renraku Arcolgy Shutdown and Dunkelzahn's Secrets.
It trolls!
My favorite sourcebook is and probably always will be Cybertechnology, thanks to it's great fluff as well as the whole cybermancy chapter which at the time gave me the creeps (until every GM stuffed his adventures full of 'zombies).
My least favorite is probably Man&Machine just because it was so dull and dry. New gear, new and partially overcomplicated rules (hello surgery rules).
On the other hand, Cannon Companion would've probably been the same but I had the German version of that one, with lots of added Shadowtalk.
Unlike many, I liked the Companion a lot, if only for the build point system doing away with the creation through priorities which I loathed and the redesigned defaulting tree. Did I mention I went from SR2 with a few backports straight to SR4?

Edit: Oh, and I might add that I quite liked the SOX book, but that's a German only book.
Edit2: I'm not old school enough.
The german version of M&M had shadowtalk too, what made it a little better then the english version.
QUOTE (It trolls!)
... Cybertechnology, thanks to FrankTrollman's great fluff as well as the whole cybermancy chapter which at the time gave me the creeps ...

Frank wrote the Cybermancy stuff for SR4's Augmentation, but I don't believe he is responsible for any of the writing in Cybertechnology.
It trolls!
*looking into the credits* Wow, you're right. Along all the chatter on DS I always suspected Hatchetman was entirely Frank's creation, but I never realized, Cybertechnology was apparently written by Tom Dowd alone. That's what you get for not knowing credits embarrassed.gif
Kyoto Kid
...number one (said it many times) Shadowbeat. We even used it in an 3rd ED campaign. Man I miss rockers and reporters.

I like the Rigger books as well only because I am a techno nut. Dittto M&M (expanded Surgery rules aside / would love to see the German version), CC, SOTA '64. SOTA '63 was okay for the Mercenary rules and genetech but a lot was devoted to magic, some of which (Old World Magic) was later rehashed in SoE

Pure Fluff: besides my all time fave above I have to agree with Corporate Shadowfiles. I especially liked the "build your own Mega" framework it introduced. [To my players, blame this book for the Olympus Technologies Group]

For settings it was Bug City all the way with the London Sourcebook right behind & Shadows of Europe rounding out the "trifecta"

For run modules: As much as I rail against IEs, Harlequin & Harlequin's Back (he's the only IE that I actually like because he's such a nutcase. Wouldn't you be too if you hung around several thousand years?).

I agree with several posters on the Companion books. Other than the Build Point & Edges/Flaws rules (which I am glad were incorporated into the core of 4th Ed) I used very little else in the books. Not really into the meta variants as much. Others I'm lukewarm on are the Virtual Realities/Matrix books. Again some useful stuff like the Otaku & building custom cyberdecks, but for the most part a lot to wade through and just more rules to further slow down matrix ops.

If there are any least liked it is the TT Mainly for personal reasons. Nothing against Nigel's work, as setting sourcebooks go, it is very well written, probably one of the best. It's just that I had spent so much time before it was released detailing Portland and the surrounding area on my own only to see it all a waste.

The Grimoires and MiTS: I too only used a couple sections (primarily adepts, initiation, & Bug Spirits) as I do not play mages much at all.

Others low on the list: Dragons of the Sixth World (just not into that part of the metaplot), Survival of the Fittest (runners vs. GDs - can you say Kobyashi Maru? sure I knew you could), and YotC: SURGE was ridiculous, you want catgirl elves, go play a Manga RPG or Toon (which BTW is a fun game).
Demonseed Elite

Aztlan: My favorite setting book. Not only was it very in depth and conveyed a strong feel of the setting, but the whole subtext of the discussion between the immortals still intrigues me to this day.

Renraku Arcology: Shutdown: Sure, it essentially sets up the Undermountain of dungeon crawls for Shadowrun, but it did so with a uniquely Shadowrun flavor. The writing really had my skin crawling in parts.

Cyberpirates: A solid alternative theme for shadowrunning. Three good settings for areas of the world not usually detailed.

Shadowbeat: I agree with a lot of other people here on this one. Something about Shadowrun really works with Rockers and Snoops. And it's impossible to imagine the Shadowrun setting without a vast mediaverse attached to it and this was the first and only book to really cover that aspect in depth.

Least Favorites:

Shadowrun Companion (any edition): I have never really liked the idea of metavariants and don't really use them. Suggestions for alternate campaigns are nice, but I'd rather see them presented in books that fully flesh them out, like Cyberpirates did.

Year of the Comet: Sadly, I have to include a book I wrote part of in my least favorites! But even during the writing stage the book seemed so disjointed, like they just wanted us to toss everything and the kitchen sink into it. Never liked SURGE, even during the writing phase.

Survival of the Fittest: It's not that I dislike plots that include great dragons, but I expect them to be more labyrinthine than this campaign book was. It shouldn't be so obvious that you are working for or against dragons and it was pretty clear here. It seemed like a pack of adventures to highlight various dragons as opposed to real plot focused on draconic politics.
I haven't read them all yet but favorite so far would be Aztlan. I have plans for my group that will ultimately send them to Aztlan smile.gif

I do like the list above though. It tells me which books I might want to pick up next. Thanks smile.gif

QUOTE (Darksyde @ Oct 22 2007, 12:19 PM)
For reasons I really don't understand myself the first rigger black book will always be my top favorite.

It's because of all the fabulous vehicle illustrations, and the Main Battle Tank teaser in the back smile.gif

I like most of the books. I'll add to all of the ones above, the SR-1 Matrix book for the fun Dr. Halberstam Fiction in the back and the Street Samurai Catalog for the Shadowtalk.
Doh. Can't believe I fogot to mention Awakenings
I loved the first Tir Tairngire book, mainly for the same reasons Mercer mentioned. I also liked Corporate Download a lot (I used almost every bit in adventures, still do, hoping for a SR4 update and info on Horizon).

I would also like to mention the Street Samurai Catalog. What made that book great for me were two simple things: illustrations and Wedge's commentary near the end. (Pick up the tips, Arsenal developers!!!)

On the least liked side: well; Definitely "survival of the fittest" (too simple and somehow stupid runs -first run: dragon lair? come on!)
I also did not like "man and machine" (a little disjointed and convoluted). I ignored the SURGE chapter of YotC and kinda liked the rest of the book.

And I did hate the novels.... particularly the "trilogies" but I could mention others.




Shadowtech. At the time we said it was written by "someone with medical knowledge who didn't know the rules, and a munchkin who wouldn't know a medical fact if it punched him in the face". Somehow it worked though. I think the game mechanics of all the devices in it were handled much better in later iterations, but everything in Shadowtech was fresh. The background material on both the science and the flavor was tight and the advances in technology were the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that Shadowrun really needed to move forward.

Also: Wolfman vs. Smiling Bandit. It was juvenile and I wouldn't want to see precious word count used up by that kind of thing again, but for a one-off it was perfect. Shadowtech will probably remain my favorite book forever because it did a lot of things that would be deeply insulting were they to be redone.

Awakenings. It's popular these days to resent Kenson, and I understand. However, in this book his particular brand of out-of-control magic fetishism was exactly what was called for. This was back in the days when everything had its own kooky rules specific to it alone, so the fact that the exhaustive writeup of Voodoo went batshit with the special cases was actually normal. Here was the introduction of an entirely different type of conjuration which could nonetheless play the same game as the original 2. This wasn't Path Magic (overpowered elf crap), this wasn't Idol Worship (Just like Native American Shamans, but with Germans). This was the first example of a truly separate but equal magical tradition since the introduction of the Big Blue Book. Also got points for engaging stories about magical people doing magical things.

This book was one of the main pieces of reference material for Street Magic. All the rules I wrote were supposed to generate the stuff in Awakenings. So again, while I think the rules we use today for this stuff are superior to the ones printed in Awakenings, this book will always be a "favorite" because it broke new ground - and because it had the opportunity to have about 60 more pages of fluff text than Street Magic ever could.

Least Favorites:

Year of the Comet. Every part of this book is shit. You open it up and it gets right on the stupid train with "Ghost Stories", where some jackass writer decides to destroy one of the core settings by having a brand new Great Dragon take on fucking Aztlan in open warfare and win. Aztlan is a nuclear power with the most powerful magicians in history. Also it has its own dragons. I don't give a rat's ass how hard core this new Ghostwalker clown is, there's no way he's taking down the Big A in open field combat. The rest of the book is no better. Cults we don't care about, a rather poorly done Shedim invasion, the ever mockable SURGE, and it all ends with the Pueblo Corporate Council (population 12 million) conquering the Greater Los Angeles Area (population 32 million) without seriously changing its own demographics or economy. Seriously, we'd all be happier people if this book had gone the way of Shadows of Latin America.

Tir na nOg. This is the book where we learn that having ancient and powerful sorcerer kings emulating the rocket-powered economic models of Slovakia will propel you to ill explained dominance in technological fields. Also that the army of a nation with less people in it than the Minneapolis Metroplitan Area is a world threat so long as it is manned by elves, who are of course better than you. Zero points for thrice damned Path Magic, which has always been inane and back then was also overpowered and simultaneously incomprehensible.

Every time someone brings up the acts of Great Dragons or Immortal Elves, it feels like some author is masturbating all over the setting. By the time you get cover to cover in Tir na nOg you find that your hands stick to the pages. The rules are incomprehensible, the descriptions of everything are fanboyish and inane, and at the end of the day I just don't understand why I'm supposed to give a damn about the country at all. They don't have any people, they don't have any natural resources, and they don't want to talk to you or trade. Honestly I'm not sure why I would want to sneak into the country, there's nothing there.


Which is I think interesting. Shadowtech and Awakenings are my favorite books because they were innovative and it worked. But Year of the Comet and Tir na nOg are my least favorite books because they were innovative and it didn't work. Thinking outside the box can really enrich the setting (Awakenins), or it can practically destroy it (YotC).

In other words, it's a risk. Yeah.

Tir na Nog...Not a good book. Not at all. I think that, in trying to step lightly around the Northern Ireland conflict, they completely neglected what would give an Irish setting drama. It's not magic and elves and storybook stuff. It's the conflict between Unionist and Republican, which is basically the defining conflict of Irish history since the 1800s. The "Celtic Tiger" and the events of the past 20 years are amazing in part because they're such a difference from Ireland as, basically, poor, riven by sectarian strife, and basically disunited (I forget it was who said that "The first item on any Irish agenda is a breakup" - politically, it's true.) - Ireland (as an island) is suddenly not poor, at peace, and if not united under one government, basically okay with the status quo. That is close to being unique, for Ireland.

Tir na Nog has the problem of handwaving away the central conflict everybody thinks about when they think of Ireland (...The IRA is as "spiritually connected" as the Brits - WTF was this surprise magic use thing?), and replacing with a setting that...doesn't make a terrible amount of sense, and has no drama to it, either.

YotC: I'm going to disagree here. I hated SURGE, but I could see some of the rest of it. LA, well, numbers don't mean everything - the reality is, if they did, Israel would have died instantly. Denver: It wasn't really a "core setting". Important, but not core. It also was hard to justify - a city divided up that way makes no sense, economically or politically. Two sectors? Yes. Six? Step away from the crack bong. Denver would be a city everybody would run away from, quickly, the same way as Berlin was not a terribly prosperous city when it was divided. Some of the allocations (Aztlan is actually a big one) make no sense - Aztlan's "claim" to Denver always felt pathetically weak. You could justify everybody but Aztlan, though I think the Sioux also have a sort of weak case for a sector. The shedim thing was, I agree, badly done - Um, c'mon, either they're easy to beat or we'd all be zombies really quickly. I dun remember the cult thing, though.

That's not to say that taking risks is always bad for SR, but I think the cases noted underline that when you do it, you had best have everything hanging together really tightly.
Tir na Nog...Not a good book.

My only problem with Tir na Nog is that it was such a closed society it made it very difficult to run anything. It was an interesting read but I've never been involved in a game their.
Kyoto Kid more on my Least Favourites list (& it links to Tir na nOg) is the Celtic Double Cross module. It's name says everything & shdowrunners being shadowrunners, a copper is going to get fragged somewheres along the line.

Trying to get out of the country when you are being hunted down by the entire nation's police force is a lot tougher than getting in.
QUOTE (ThreeGee @ Oct 24 2007, 12:57 PM)
Tir na Nog...Not a good book.

My only problem with Tir na Nog is that it was such a closed society it made it very difficult to run anything. It was an interesting read but I've never been involved in a game their.

Eh, I absolutely hated every aspect of that book, personally. But you definitely hit the nail on the head when you say the worst problem was how closed off Tir Na Nog appeared. I don't care how interesting your setting is, it needs to have room for the shadow community in it somewhere or else the book is going to be worthless for 90% of the groups out there. Neo Tokyo's another setting that suffers from this basic issue (to a MUCH lesser extent) as well. I love the concept, and god knows a guy could easily write an entire thesis on Japan and the way it has influenced all things cyberpunk, but in older books there just never appeared to be that minimum requirement of corruption required to really support the existence of runners in Neo Tokyo who weren't dyed in the wool company men. That's why I was happy to hear that the current writers are adding in an extra dash of internal conflict this time around; I like the idea of playing in a setting that hammers home the power of the corps and requires an extra bit of "professionalism" to survive, but I'd like to think it's possible to keep that flavor while injecting just a pinch more room for freelancers and metas into the setting.
Kyoto Kid
...that's also the feeling I was left with from reading TT, albeit to a slightly lesser degree due to the "unclean" city of Portland. During the Tir's heyday, any Shadow community in the walled city would have been small and usually would have stayed well underground much of the time. In a sense, I considered Portland to be under a perpetual state of Marshall Law due to the visible presence of the Peace Force, which basically is the TT's military.

Being SINless in Portland and getting caught was a very bad thing. Either you woke up with a splitting headache in in SS territory with no armour, gear, and ID or worse, you were selected as prey for the next Hunt. Sporting chaps those Tir nobles are I must say.

In Salem & Eugene, shadow activity would pretty much have been almost nonexistent given the description of how things were outside the wall.

In many ways it the TT seemed a bit like East Germany with the exception that you were shot at trying to get out of West Berlin instead of into it. Unless of course you were an "upstanding" member of Tir society...which usually meant you were tall, slender, had naturally pointed ears. place it was. Never ran anything there again after I closed that campaign.
Are we counting novels here?
I don't think that's allowed, since the answer (for many) would be "Yes" to which they hated.
Hrm. Well, some of the illustrations in the Grimoire had some amusing fine print.

I'll throw a vote in for Shadowtech, too.
Underworld: I'm a sucker for organized crime material. This book also, like several others, contains little to no game mechanics so it's basically edition proof.

Eye Witness: I collected pretty much all of the old adventures, and converted/ran them in 3rd edition. They all had their moments, but this one in particular (despite not really being the flashiest of them) seemed to flow really well and had my, typically unorganized, group working together as a team. It spawned some side runs, and IIRC gave me a few recurring characters who came back into my campaign later.

Dragon Heart Series: The only novels I read, but I liked them.

Year of the Comet: SURGE! I apologize to the contributors who came up with it. I don't really have a problem with changelings as the focus of their own game, but I don't want them in my Shadowrun. frown.gif

Favorite: 1e Street Samurai - It started my interest in the game
Least Favorite: Most of the computer/rigging books for lack of understanding of how the stuff works & the old Seattle Source book for having major roads in the wrong locations. The biggest offender IMO
Rigger Black Book - Turbo on an electric engine? Its called a super capacitor not a turbo! Running more air over an electric engine just makes it cooler it does not put out more energy. Using capacitor to store and then release energy may work similar to a gas engine turbo.
QUOTE (tete)
... the old Seattle Source book for having major roads in the wrong locations.

I managed to successfully use it (and only it) to get around when I visited Seattle in the early '90s. biggrin.gif
The favorite/least favorite of the novels is a very different kettle of fish.


2XS It's simplistic at times, and relies too much on the hard boiled detective stuff. But it's a tight story which never gets overly ambitious but still manages to have far reaching implications. I liked this one so much that I managed to sneak in some reference to its events into Augmentation on page 13. And no, it's not confined to the CrashCart description either. Check the Info-santé description. Yes, I went there.

The First Two Books of the Secrets of Power Trilogy. For the first two books, Sam Verner is a perfect Shadowrunner charcter. He has some nice powers, he has to fall back on his team mates for their mad skills, and he gumshoes it through some basic and fairly neat adventures. It was doubtless helped by the fact that I was very young. But if you never read Find Your Own Truth, it never breaks character. Dragons get killed, the main character has gratuitous sex with hot elf assassins, and it never feels like it leaves the street level. Everything magical that happens feels magical.

Wolf and Raven. It doesn't follow Shadowrun rules terribly closely. But that's OK, because Shadowrun werewolves are stupid and this book does it way better. Lots of people have wanted to play Shapeshifters exclusively because of this book - only to be turned away because the rules for PC Shapeshifters were inane and nerftastic. To that extet, Wolf is the D'rrzt of Shadowrun. Or he would be if all his stories sucked, which they definitely do not.

Least Favorites:

Shadowboxer. Holy shit. This book is a train wreck. The plot is a disjointed series of scenes which don't connect in any way. People switch teams multiple times in the middle of the book for no reason and with no enticement to do so (and no reason to believe the other side wouldn't just shoot them). The team continues on a dangerous mission that they are not invested in emotionally for which they will not be paid and noone cares. Also there's no resolution to any of the major plot threads. And some guy goblinizes into a dwarf. And he's the main character. And he dies halfway through the book and then the book sort of wanders around as a third person viewpoint while the rest of the characters take random actions. So bad. So very, very bad.

Never Trust an Elf. Another book that throws Dragons into the plot for no reason. Lofwyr comes in and waves his arms around for no damn reason at all. Nothing really happens for any reason and the book goes on at great length to explain how Ork aging works and it was considered so dumb that it had to be retconned out of the game in Shadows of Asia. I agree. This book was dumb.

Dragon Heart Beats head against wall OK, is Dunkelzahn still President Zombie Jesus? Are the giant brown nipples still inescapable? Damn. Yeah, while hamhandedly making Harlequin's Back go away is probably just as well, this was way too hamhanded. I don't want or need President Zombie Dragon Jesus. That's stupid. These books are stupid. My last laugh on it is that Chico Aze and Inti Jiwana got the last laugh anyway. Hah!

So there you have it. The novels are actually quite different. 2 on my favorites list are there for sticking very closely to canon, and all three on my shit list are one way or another there for having gone their own way with the storyline. I think I'm looking for something very different from licensed fan fiction than I am from a game supplement.

I so have to re-read Shadowboxer! grinbig.gif
Kyoto Kid
QUOTE (tete)
Rigger Black Book - Turbo on an electric engine? Its called a super capacitor not a turbo! Running more air over an electric engine just makes it cooler it does not put out more energy. Using capacitor to store and then release energy may work similar to a gas engine turbo.

...that's basically how I wrote it for electric and FC electric vehicles. In Rigger III they finally came up with a separate term for boosting electric powerplants. Can't remember what it was though (at work & old timer's disease kicking in again grinbig.gif)
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