Categorized | Reviews, RPGs

The Rotten Apple Manhattan (Shadowrun) Review

Posted on August 17, 2012 by Megan

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    Opening with a fascimile web page, this work provides the low-down of New York in the Awakened future. Just about everything you might need to know if you are writing or running adventures set there, or if your character hails from the Big Apple or intends to visit.

    A short piece of fiction depicts a fragment of a ‘run: the forcible extraction of, of all targets, an opera singer! Then some recent history, beginning with an earthquake in 2005 that caused many people and companies to leave, and others to offer to cover the costs of rebuilding in return for deregulation, freeing the city to grow in its own sweet way. Whilst bodies like the New York Stock Exchange and the United Nations left, a new body – the Corporate Court – established its headquarters there, paving the way for a new role for the city as massive extra-national corporations developed. Much of Manhatten – the primary focus of this book – was paved over and new corporate skyscrapers built on top. Much of the subway and other below-ground areas, if not destroyed in the ‘quake, remain as the domain of the dispossessed and those who nibble around the fringes… and, of course, shadowrunners and their contacts!

    For the corporate salaryman, not a lot has changed. An office to go to, a whirl of cultural and sporting events to attend… yet those too are more often than not corporate-owned and run. Even street vendors often are corporate employees rather than the indepent entrepreneurs you might think. And of course, Manhatten itself is now run by a corporation, Manhattan Inc, contracting out services such as security (NYPD Inc, of course) like any other corporate entity! This all makes it a unique place to ‘run in, with its own challenges and opportunities. One of those challenges is simply moving around. The entirity of Manhatten is access controlled, and you had better have the correct ID (interrogated constantly by wireless of course), or at least a really good fake one. There’s extensive discussion of how the system works and common methods used to circumvent it.

    Next comes a gazetteer of the various places to visit or do business in. Some fine ‘local flavour’ to throw into a game, or enough background for characters who come from any given location. There are personalities and places galore to make the place come alive. This occupies the major part of the book, and is followed by notes on the major corporations to be encountered here. Most of the ‘big names’ have at least a foothold in Manhattan, and a fair few are headquartered there.

    If you know contemporary New York, you’ll find this a masterful blend of what you know with the themes and tropes of Shadowrun… and even if you don’t, its roots in reality lend this imaginary New York an unmatched verisimiltude. Written entirely ‘in character’ astute GMs will allow player access when visiting or researching New York; as well as studying it closely to create the feel of the place. There are no adventure ideas here, but if your ideas or a published adventure lead your game to New York, this will be an invaluable resource for you and your characters.

    Review by Megan Robertson

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