Shadowrun: Unwired is Shadowrun's 4th edition book for extended rules, inventory and options for hackers, riggers and/or technomancers.
That said, itsShadowrun: Unwired is Shadowrun's 4th edition book for extended rules, inventory and options for hackers, riggers and/or technomancers.
That said, its important to clear up a few possible misconceptions about this book: Firstly this isn't an essential addition to making the Matrix work for (which for the sake of brevity I'll just call matrix runners). I think there may be a few cases where, mistakenly elements of the Matrix were poorly explained in the SR4A corebook, and Unwired does clear up in several points.
Secondly this book doesn't add rules for playing an artificial intelligence as a shadowrunner, that's covered in a different book - Runner's Companion. Some rules are included however for GMs to build NPC AIs as allies or threats.
Thirdly, this isn't the only book a "pure" matrix specialist could ever want. Riggers wanting more toys would be well advised to pick up Arsenal or the more recent Runner's Black Book. Augmentation is full of very useful cyberware and geneware for hackers; runner's companion has tonnes of qualites (plus the rules for playable AI runners). Spy Games contains the rules for facial recognition, lip reading and language and cypher cracking software programs. And while I am certainly *not* recommending Shadowrun: WAR!, as its reputation as a book in need of an errata of considerable size (to put it politely), it is the book that provides the runs for military grade commlinks and software.
Lastly, there are some elements in the book that players with little interest in running in the matrix would want to use, if only so as to have greater flexibility - there are situations where a drone with chaser and covert-ops autosoft could be an invaluable tool during an investigation or infiltration.
That said, I'd not recommend this to anyone who just doesn't enjoy using the matrix in Shadowrun.
NB: I've skimmed this book, and I've not played large amounts of it - for example I've never played a technomancer, so for a more rounded view go read and post on the Dumpshock forum and hear from those who have.
I've never played an earlier edition of Shadowrun, so I cannot comment on whether "the new wireless matrix" is one of the best or worst things to happen to the game. Its all I've played.
Beyond this is my impressions of a few months, and I doubt little will change of these. _
So, now that you you know what to expect, how good is it?
Well, lets start with the not so good. This book does not make the Matrix rules simpler, clearer or less intimidating. It doesn't provide an elegant way for a GM to manage matrix action alongside astral plane action and "meatspace" action either, though I have not played the house rules suggestions.
Additionally, the book does not provide Cheat Sheets for common matrix actions; this is an actual problem, because the additional rules, detail and software options can slow down the pace of a run, which doesn't make the game more enjoyable for players who aren't using matrix specialist characters. With well designed cheat sheets it could have *added* the richer more run dense content, but ensured it was easily manageable for the GM to use (at least for the majority of the time), and maybe even speeded up the matrix elements of the run.
But it didn't happen. Instead, an overall slower game, another ton of rules for GMs to familiarise themselves with. Ouch.
Finally, there has been no new edition for referencing pages in the updated SR4A corebook, only the original SR4 corebook. This is an annoyance, especially considering how there is not one good reason to buy or use the original. SR4A's index does go some way to solving this problem, but its an annoyance to see this in a new book nonetheless; even in the PDF versions it has not been updated which is simply unacceptable.
Shadowrun's art is not its strong point. What you see as art work on the cover is leagues above the filler decorating the insides of book. Indeed the artwork is so bad in places its visually a relief that the book is entirely black and white.
I think the book could sell at a higher price point if it contained less, but better art. Doubtless others would have preferred an entirely unillustrated book at a lower pricepoint. Either would definitely be an improvement.
I've never had more than a little interest in the stories and tales of the Shadowrun books and Unwired does nothing to change this. Its caught in the paradox of making it accessible enough to the reader but detailed enough to represent the complexity of a completely alien world, and the result is forgettable to me.
Well, that's the bad dealt with. What's good about it?
Everything else, I'm pleased to say.
The new positive and negative qualities create many interesting roleplaying possibilities, though a large part of me would gladly trade them all of them to Runner's Companion in exchange for putting in the AI rules to Unwired.
The new software and new software options open whole new strategies for using the matrix, and can be used to make a far more powerful opposition; for example opponents using the new psychothropic option now have the potential to inflict negative qualities on a hacker, whereas before any hacker, no matter how ill equiped, could screw up royally and so long as they were only using Augmented Reality mode they would never suffer lasting damage nor face any mortal danger.
Its just a shame that this new richer Matrix experience has been introduced in such a way that, until it is familiar through experience, it slows the pace and reduces the involvement non-Matrix specialists roles.
Shadowrun's "the-whole-shebang approach" to magic fantasy races and cyberpunk dystopean technology and agenda needs to run everything smoothly to be an excellent game, and this book doesn't make help that happen.
I hope that when Shadowrun's fifth edition is released there will be an elegant approach to addressing this, as I think its something that bogs down the entire concept of the game; Shadowrun has a fantastic selection of great toys for runners to pick from and use in wonderful and creative ways, but without an experienced GM the delay in gratification is probably enough to drive many roleplayers off to other games, which is a game shame for a game with a depth and setting ambitious as Shadowrun's....more