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Chrysalis
Hi all,

Another review from me. This time it as you may have already guessed about Feral Cities. This review will be divided into three parts: Chicago, Lagos, and the rest.

Chicago was actually quite nice, it was nice that those of us who have never even played third edition get to read about a city where insects have gone amok and where the answer to all the city’s problems are special forces units in ghostbuster suits, leaving downtown Chicago with a supposed huge background count and Mad Max like groups around it. One thing that really stuck me was the different districts did not really mesh. They really did feel like they had just been plonked into the environment. So on one side we have mad inventors living in suburbia and on the other we have people who don’t shave with mirrors and make armor out of tires.

The most sympathetic character surprisingly in the Chicago section is the Lone Cockroach, who standing in front of a long abandoned kindergarten in only his raincoat you want to bring home make a cup of tea for and slather your younger brother in honey in the off-hand chance he accepts the offering.

Overall, Chicago was well written although I found that the ecology section did not really fit the book. I would have preferred on having more adventure hooks instead.

Lagos I have almost gone through. I started on it yesterday for a few hours and I have trying to read through it today as well. While fascinating in some ways, I did feel that it kept on going on and on. It was really you feel you have finally reached the end of the chapter and oh look you have another ten pages, and it doesn’t help that the chapter runs over the same material, just from different angles. Meaning that you have to read through another page of? look danger? before finding the important part about how actually dangerous drinking the water is.

So after getting bored with the text, I played a bit of a game. The word water or waterway can be found 96 times, which would mean with the law of averages be repeated at least twice per page. In comparison flesh and slavery combined only came out to 56, being repeated only once per page. I guess the moral of the story is don’t drink the water in Lagos and when you want sex go to the nation of Asamondo.

However, if you continue reading the chapter on Lagos, it does reward you being an excellent description of a chaotic town where everyone has their hand out. This is actually the first time Africa in any detail has been described and I thought it the real gem in Feral Cities.

The other urban wilds are Bogotá, GeMiTo, Geneva, Karavan, and Sarajevo, which are much more in brief with their descriptions.

I felt the idea of turning Geneva into a wild zone interesting as an intellectual challenge. However, considering how much of the world’s banking is located there, the sole international database for SINs, the United Nations, CERN, connection with Orbital Zurich, and being a country’s capitol. This attack would have effective for about 10 minutes before someone decided that the best way to remove the techno-menace would be several strategically placed EMP bombs. Switzerland having a populace that you will never see violent until someone takes away their money.

Karavan was an interesting concept, but I kept feeling that it was very similar to concepts from the 1980s of land cities in the mid-west of the United States.

The focus of the book really was on two cities, the conclusion of Bug City and the introduction to a new region through Lagos in West Africa. Ample material to pick from, Chicago was varied and a very different city in comparison with Lagos. The other urban wilds were useful, but not as immediately useful as Chicago and Lagos. I would have actually preferred on tighter writing with both cities so that Feral cities would balance it out with more information on other urban wilds.

The most negative thing I can say about the Feral Cities is that it lacks cohesion. I do not mind that they have decided to take cities and turn them into post-apocalyptic world visions. The problem I have is when there is no structure to each city.

To explain what I what I mean by a lack of cohesion, Lagos is covered in a general manner in the beginning, some of the outlying nations are covered in the middle, and then Lagos is again covered in a bit more detail at the end. This gives the impression of having three to four writers who were given the topic to write about, but covered it by going in slightly different directions. It also means that is hard to find references because you have to skim through the entire chapter for it. To be honest, I kept on thinking how Robert Young Pelton's the World's Most Dangerous Places not only was better written, but more short and to the point.

In short, if you want to buy a book which is specifically about Shadowrun and surviving the most dangerous cities in the world this is for you. However, if you’re like me who likes a better written, more balanced book with more cities, regions and adventure ideas I recommend picking up Robert Young Pelton's the World's Most Dangerous Places off amazon instead.

No I am not Robert Young Pelton.
Ancient History
The above post is brought to you by Robert Young Pelton.

Heh. No, seriously, its a fair cop. The organization is a bit uneven and chaotic because the locales are unregulated madhouses occupied by the criminal, the destitute, and the insane. As cheesy as it sounds to say "It is not a bug, it is a feature," the authors were trying to get across how very different these sprawls are comparable to places with working governments and utilities. The disconnect is in part because without any sort of restriction or regulation beyond "Come any closer and I'll kill you and sell your still-warm corpse to the ghouls for a ham," you really can have little enclaves of SCA rejects farming hemp and muttering "prithees" next door to a rape gang that provides them protection in exchange for food and clothing.
Snow_Fox
So it is out there? and Amazon's guess of Xmas '08 was not too far off?
Grinder
The PDF's already out.
Ancient History
The PDF is available, the hardcopy has not hit the street yet.
Snow_Fox
like SoLA?
Ancient History
No, SoLA exists in the realm known as "Development Hell." Feral Cities is actually already been released electronically, and has been printed, but I can't give you a street date on when it will be in stores because I am a Lowly Freelancer, and all Teh Knowledges rests with the people that handle that end of things.
Chrysalis
QUOTE (Ancient History @ Jan 1 2009, 04:32 PM) *
The above post is brought to you by Robert Young Pelton.

Heh. No, seriously, its a fair cop. The organization is a bit uneven and chaotic because the locales are unregulated madhouses occupied by the criminal, the destitute, and the insane. As cheesy as it sounds to say "It is not a bug, it is a feature," the authors were trying to get across how very different these sprawls are comparable to places with working governments and utilities.


Still I would have preferred even an outline than feeling like it is several sources and notes brought together. Maybe more signposting would have been useful.
I belive the Lone Cockroach must be the ""It is not a bug, it is a feature," you are referring to.

QUOTE
The disconnect is in part because without any sort of restriction or regulation beyond "Come any closer and I'll kill you and sell your still-warm corpse to the ghouls for a ham," you really can have little enclaves of SCA rejects farming hemp and muttering "prithees" next door to a rape gang that provides them protection in exchange for food and clothing.


Is this a reference to the movie Doomsday?
Ancient History
Not that I'm aware of.
Chrysalis
Fair enough, although it also involves SCA enactors and cannibalistic gangs. Worth looking at with friends over popcorn. They tried filming bits of it in Glasgow.
Snow_Fox
QUOTE (Ancient History @ Jan 1 2009, 11:42 AM) *
No, SoLA exists in the realm known as "Development Hell." Feral Cities is actually already been released electronically, and has been printed, but I can't give you a street date on when it will be in stores because I am a Lowly Freelancer, and all Teh Knowledges rests with the people that handle that end of things.

lol for those of us long time posters SoLA is becoming the lost grail, or the UB file before Missing Blood was published.
Until I can see the h/c I'm going to doubt.
Grinder
SoLA and Feral Cities are two different books, so where's the point?
Snow_Fox
the point is they are both nebulous at this momment in time and space. some have seen them many have not
wusselpompf
QUOTE (Snow_Fox @ Jan 1 2009, 06:52 PM) *
the point is they are both nebulous at this momment in time and space. some have seen them many have not


as far as I am concerned there is a difference between "I can buy the pdf at several online-stores, have it on my pc and street date will be 13th of january" and "nowbody really knows when and in what way it will be released, but we'll see someday" wink.gif
Wesley Street
QUOTE (Chrysalis @ Jan 1 2009, 11:56 AM) *
Worth looking at with friends over popcorn. They tried filming bits of it in Glasgow.

Or while drunk. It will probably make more sense this way. Herds of cows just down the road but the Glaswegians resort to cannibalism. A huge cache of fancy cars and equipment but we'll stick with bows and arrows and horses, thank you very much. This movie goes out of its way to not make sense.
Prime Mover
Honestly I don't know whats pulled me into this conversation. But honestly I don't ever see SoLA being released other then a bonus online pdf. Material is out of date and the format a thing of the past. If anything I see it being cannibalized for other projects or an nostalgic look back at material offered up. (IIRC it wasn't even finished edited/layout anyways)
Mercer
QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Jan 1 2009, 07:25 PM) *
Or while drunk. It will probably make more sense this way. Herds of cows just down the road but the Glaswegians resort to cannibalism. A huge cache of fancy cars and equipment but we'll stick with bows and arrows and horses, thank you very much. This movie goes out of its way to not make sense.


Doomsday to me reminded me of that old quote by some wag or another, "It was original and good, except what was good was not original, and what was original was not good." That said, Doomsday is a profoundly stupid movie that I enjoyed immensely for reasons that the filmmaker both intended and did not intend; as mindless entertainment goes you'd be hard pressed to find anything as entertaining or as mindless.

Still, as a Shadowrun player, it's hard not to appreciate a movie with cannibals, knights, zombish diseased weirdos, cybereyes, big guns, special ops hit squads, and Rhona Mitra. I preferred to make a game of spotting which scenes were stolen virtually shot-by-shot from better movies. In a lot of ways, it was like flipping through a really awesome basic cable package. "Hey, it's Escape From New York. Hey, it's Aliens. Hey, it's The Road Warrior, and Lord of the Rings and Excalibur and Beyond Thunderdome."

All of this is going the long way round to saying that "you really can have little enclaves of SCA rejects farming hemp and muttering 'prithees' next door to a rape gang" is as good a summation of the "plot" (I use the term affectionately, but loosely) of the movie as anything I have yet read. Of course, so is, "the movie goes out of it's way to not make sense."
Muspellsheimr
QUOTE (Snow_Fox @ Jan 1 2009, 10:52 AM) *
the point is they are both nebulous at this momment in time and space. some have seen them many have not

Except the PDF release is always 2-4 weeks before the hardcover. Feral Cities is no different in this manner than Arsenal, Augmentation, Ghost Cartels, Corporate Enclaves, Unwired, or Runners Companion. Or any upcoming book, or as far as I am aware (I wasn't paying attention at time of their release) Shadowrun 4, Street Magic, Emergence, & Runner Havens.
Demonseed Elite
QUOTE (Prime Mover @ Jan 1 2009, 01:30 PM) *
Honestly I don't know whats pulled me into this conversation. But honestly I don't ever see SoLA being released other then a bonus online pdf. Material is out of date and the format a thing of the past. If anything I see it being cannibalized for other projects or an nostalgic look back at material offered up. (IIRC it wasn't even finished edited/layout anyways)


Yar, it's already being cannibalized for other projects. Some material from SoLA appeared in Ghost Cartels.
Grinder
QUOTE (Snow_Fox @ Jan 1 2009, 06:52 PM) *
the point is they are both nebulous at this momment in time and space. some have seen them many have not


Feral Cities has been releaed. The PDF can be bought at the well-known online shops. The hardcopy version will come into the stores anytime soon.
SoLA on the other hand hasn't been released and probably never will.
Adam
QUOTE (Snow_Fox @ Jan 1 2009, 12:52 PM) *
the point is they are both nebulous at this momment in time and space. some have seen them many have not

As we announced when we released the Feral Cities PDF, Feral Cities has a Street Date of January 13th. It's printed, shipped to our warehouse, and in the process of shipping to distributors and stores over the next two weeks. If you want a copy on the 13th, give your local store a call this week and ask the to order a copy for you, and you should have no issues picking it up on that date.
Daddy's Little Ninja
QUOTE (Muspellsheimr @ Jan 1 2009, 02:46 PM) *
Except the PDF release is always 2-4 weeks before the hardcover. Feral Cities is no different in this manner than Arsenal, Augmentation, Ghost Cartels, Corporate Enclaves, Unwired, or Runners Companion. Or any upcoming book, or as far as I am aware (I wasn't paying attention at time of their release) Shadowrun 4, Street Magic, Emergence, & Runner Havens.

Ghost Cartels is not out in hard copy yet either. SF is a little bit of a Luddite, she likes hard books.
TW
*looks at shelf* Ghost Cartels definitely is out in hard copy!
Ancient History
Yeah, Ghost Cartels is already printed and available.
Grinder
QUOTE (Daddy's Little Ninja @ Jan 2 2009, 02:44 PM) *
Ghost Cartels is not out in hard copy yet either. SF is a little bit of a Luddite, she likes hard books.


I fully understand that, but it's simply wrong to say that Feral Cities is not available yet and will suffer the same fate as SoLA.
Adam
QUOTE (Daddy's Little Ninja @ Jan 2 2009, 08:44 AM) *
Ghost Cartels is not out in hard copy yet either. SF is a little bit of a Luddite, she likes hard books.

Ghost Cartels was available to retail stores on the street date of November 25th, as we announced on November 6th.
Freejack
QUOTE (Daddy's Little Ninja @ Jan 2 2009, 06:44 AM) *
Ghost Cartels is not out in hard copy yet either. SF is a little bit of a Luddite, she likes hard books.


Best check with your FLGS. I got my hard copy a month ago smile.gif

Carl
Critias
I've only read Chicago so far, but -- maybe it's all the Fallout 3 I've been playing lately -- I'm really digging it.
PBTHHHHT
QUOTE (Critias @ Jan 2 2009, 12:54 PM) *
I've only read Chicago so far, but -- maybe it's all the Fallout 3 I've been playing lately -- I'm really digging it.


I'll probably have a hard sell then to convince my roommate to play in Chicago, he played a lot of fallout 3 and left 4 dead, and when I mentioned about a possible game with twilight 2013, he said he didn't feel like playing another post apocalyptic scenario. Man, I just watched a few episodes of jericho, I think I'm a bit overwhelmed with all the survival atmosphere. biggrin.gif
Wesley Street
Mad Max-style post-apocalypse is one sub-genre that gets very old, very fast. And most of the time it makes little sense. Where do all those mutants on motorcycles get the gas for their hogs and the bullets for their tricked out guns when there's no infrastructure? Why is it only the crazy hardcases survive when 99% of humans are decent, law-abiding folk?
kanislatrans
QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Jan 2 2009, 04:23 PM) *
Why is it only the crazy hardcases survive when 99% of humans are decent, law-abiding folk?


"Now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb." grinbig.gif
PBTHHHHT
Maybe the crazy hardcases are probably either the ones that stocked up on stuff just for this scenario, or are willing to do things to others so that they can survive... or the last best reason, because they make for a better, interesting character for people to root for/against.
Muspellsheimr
QUOTE (kanislatrans @ Jan 2 2009, 04:39 PM) *
"Now you see that evil will always triumph, because good is dumb." grinbig.gif

QFTW.

Where is that from? I have seen/heard it before, but cannot recall where.
Prime Mover
Good ole Mel Brooks..quote is from Spaceballs IIRC.
Critias
QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Jan 2 2009, 04:23 PM) *
Why is it only the crazy hardcases survive when 99% of humans are decent, law-abiding folk?

Because your 99% estimate is off by quite a bit, maybe?

I'll readily admit it gets overplayed for cinematic/dramatic reasons in Mad Max style stuff, but even the quickest of glances at the history of the species should tell you that far more than one in a hundred people aren't very "decent." And once society breaks down in any fashion (like a nuclear war, biological plague, or whatever else brings the "apocalypse" to a "post-apocalypse" setting) a whole lot of folks who used to be law-abiding stop doing so.

Tack on a few generations (because most such settings are set well after the apocalypse itself) of good, solid, being-raised-lawlessly, add a dose or two of radiation (both to add to the desperation of a setting and to bring up the semi-sci-fi possibility for freaky mutations adding to people's insanity), and salt to taste, and voila. You've got honest-to-Buddha packs of psychos running around, pretty easily.

Even in real life, I'm firmly of the belief that most of the first world is an empty gas tank and a spoiled refrigerator away from Lord of the Flies. I think the "decent" to "fuck you, I want that" breakdown in modern society is a lot closer to a 50/50 than most people want to think.

I'm right there with ya on the gas tanks and ammunition thing, though. I especially wonder why the psycho bad guys shoot their guns into the air to show off how crazy they are. Uhh, those things don't grow on trees, guys. Save the ammo for the folks you're going a-viking against, stupid. wink.gif
hermit
QUOTE
Mad Max-style post-apocalypse is one sub-genre that gets very old, very fast. And most of the time it makes little sense. Where do all those mutants on motorcycles get the gas for their hogs and the bullets for their tricked out guns when there's no infrastructure? Why is it only the crazy hardcases survive when 99% of humans are decent, law-abiding folk?

To paraphrase the opening paragraph of the Germany sourcebook's Berlin chapter:

"We don't have the slightest idea why this crazy system works, but we think it's damn cool and thus could care less."

That seems to be the design mentality for LA and Chicago, to a lesser extent, in the new city books. If it's any condolence to you, though, there has yet to be such an utter pile of shit as the Berlin chapter in Germany SB.
TW
QUOTE (Critias @ Jan 2 2009, 12:54 PM) *
I've only read Chicago so far, but -- maybe it's all the Fallout 3 I've been playing lately -- I'm really digging it.

I take this comparison as a compliment, but the Chicago chapter was written between January and March 2008, Fallout 3 was released in October 2008 (IIRC). As mentioned in the Table of contents, inspiration (at least on my part) were Brian Wood's DMZ comic series and China Mieville's New Crobuzon metroplex, aside from the original Bug City sourcebook, of course.
Critias
QUOTE (TW @ Jan 3 2009, 12:59 PM) *
I take this comparison as a compliment, but the Chicago chapter was written between January and March 2008, Fallout 3 was released in October 2008 (IIRC). As mentioned in the Table of contents, inspiration (at least on my part) were Brian Wood's DMZ comic series and China Mieville's New Crobuzon metroplex, aside from the original Bug City sourcebook, of course.

I didn't mean to imply you guys swiped anything from the game (even ignoring the fact the game's set in and around DC, not Chicago)... just that when I read it I was already in a mood for "a lone rifleman wanders a shattered urban wasteland full of roving packs of monsters and barbaric feral humans, bartering for clean water, food, and ammunition, dealing as fairly as possible as he can with every radical, violent, faction he stumbles across" sort of thing.

So it really sounded/read/felt pretty cool to me.
martindv
QUOTE (Critias @ Jan 3 2009, 05:23 AM) *
Even in real life, I'm firmly of the belief that most of the first world is an empty gas tank and a spoiled refrigerator away from Lord of the Flies. I think the "decent" to "fuck you, I want that" breakdown in modern society is a lot closer to a 50/50 than most people want to think.

Just look at New Orleans. Even better, when a friend of mine had to leave Houston because of Rita (although they were already on edge because of all of the New Orleans refugees) everyone in his family's SUV was packing (and not just guns, but AR-15s and such) because they had the foresight to carry extra gas on freeways that turned into parking lots full of cars that had run out of gas on their way out of town.

People are awful, and the world is always a hair's breadth away from Hobbes' state of war.
The Jake
QUOTE (Chrysalis @ Jan 1 2009, 01:58 PM) *
So after getting bored with the text, I played a bit of a game. The word water or waterway can be found 96 times, which would mean with the law of averages be repeated at least twice per page. In comparison flesh and slavery combined only came out to 56, being repeated only once per page. I guess the moral of the story is don’t drink the water in Lagos and when you want sex go to the nation of Asamondo.


Damn you sir. You've just jinxed the way I read this chapter. What a cruel prank.

*shakes fist*

- J.
Chrysalis
It just means that I can screw with your head meat without trodes and psychotropic IC.

It's nice knowing someone read the review.
Snow_Fox
I am not a Luddite!

Ghost Cartels and Feral Cities are both listed on Amazon.com The date they project ofr ferral cities is feb '09.
Grinder
Amazon.com doesn't have the best reputation for getting release dates right. wink.gif
Snow_Fox
yeah, but it's something
Wesley Street
QUOTE (Critias @ Jan 3 2009, 05:23 AM) *
Because your 99% estimate is off by quite a bit, maybe?

I'll readily admit it gets overplayed for cinematic/dramatic reasons in Mad Max style stuff, but even the quickest of glances at the history of the species should tell you that far more than one in a hundred people aren't very "decent." And once society breaks down in any fashion (like a nuclear war, biological plague, or whatever else brings the "apocalypse" to a "post-apocalypse" setting) a whole lot of folks who used to be law-abiding stop doing so.

I don't think it's off at all. Maybe 99% is a bit of a stretch and "decent" is a debatable term but there are more law-abiding people in the West than professional and amateur criminals. And that would still be true post-apocalypse. A big disaster will wipe out the cities first where most criminal types hang their hats. Bye-bye gangs. Many survivors would be small town, law-abiding types.

Something else to be considered is the middle-class. This is a relatively new phenomena. While history documents the poor and down-trodden turning on each other, we have no historical evidence to support the idea that Suzy Soccer-Mom would trick out her SUV with barb wire and start eating people. It's more likely the survivors would form small farming, mining and/or manufacturing enclaves a la Deadwood than roaming gangs of slobbering pillagers. Even when the Visigoth "barbarians" toppled the Roman Empire the majority of the world was still at peace. Barbarianism is a result of a non-agricultural nomadic lifestyle, not a breakdown in infrastructure.

Mad Max is as intellectually dated as cyberpunk.
Cang
Well i think that its especially hard to tell with the middle class because most countries that get close to or do collapse have massive brain dumps. Why would a educated person stay in a place where hacking each other with machetes are the norm. Not to mention that people who go for power grabs like to take out the educated out first.
Muspellsheimr
QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Jan 4 2009, 01:50 PM) *
I don't think it's off at all. Maybe 99% is a bit of a stretch and "decent" is a debatable term but there are more law-abiding people in the West than professional and amateur criminals. And that would still be true post-apocalypse. A big disaster will wipe out the cities first where most criminal types hang their hats. Bye-bye gangs. Many survivors would be small town, law-abiding types.

False. Today, the majority of the population (I would estimate ~90%) are "good" people. The reason for this is because of the social structure & law enforcement. They have little reason to steal or otherwise break the law, & the penalty for doing so is far greater than the benefit (in most circumstances).

In a post-apocalyptic setting, where society has broken down & the only law is what you make for yourself, "criminal" behavior would rapidly become the norm. If you shut off food shipments to a large city, within 2 days, shelves would be noticeably depleted. Within 4 days, rioting would likely start. Within 1-2 weeks, nearly the entire population would be ripping each other apart for food. Survival is always first, & even the most upright citizen will rapidly become "criminal" if there was no other option (as would be the case without a coherent society).
Adam
QUOTE (Snow_Fox @ Jan 4 2009, 12:12 PM) *
Ghost Cartels and Feral Cities are both listed on Amazon.com The date they project ofr ferral cities is feb '09.

Catalyst Game Labs does not sell books to Amazon. They buy our books from another source, so they get them late and do not always get accurate information.

Ghost Cartels was available to the game trade for a street date [that's the date your local gaming store has the book and can sell it] of November 25th, and Feral Cities has a street date of the tuesday-after-next, January 13th.
wusselpompf
btw: does this street date (13th Jan.) also apply for overseas, or does one have to add two to three additional weeks for shipping to europe?
Rasumichin
QUOTE (wusselpompf @ Jan 5 2009, 01:43 AM) *
btw: does this street date (13th Jan.) also apply for overseas, or does one have to add two to three additional weeks for shipping to europe?


Depends on the retailer.
My FLGS in Cologne had copies of Runner's Companion a few days after the release of the first batch at GenCon.
There where American posters on this board who where still waiting for their copy two weeks later.
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