Shadowrun: State of the Art: 2073
Publisher: Catalyst Games Labs
Release Date: 12/20/2011
Get it Here: DrivethruRPG.com
State of the Art is a series of releases capturing odds and ends that have been put out for a few years now. If you look at DrivethruRPG.com, you can find a couple of previous releases although those are not only a lot longer, but also a little pricier too. 2073 is a hodgepodge of various bits for the system that either didn’t make it in to a previous release this year for whatever reason, or simply wouldn’t have fit anywhere else. As such, they’re all just collected into 2073 and loosely held together by the “JackPoint” forum to create a narrative.
The pieces are as follows:
1) Hestaby Addresses the UN. This nine page piece of fiction is pretty much summed up by its title. The Dragon Hestaby addresses the UN/Corporate Court about recent Dragon/Metahuman relations and the…let’s call it strained relationship…that has occurred as of late in the in-game metaplot. This piece also includes commentary by Jackpoint users and a rebuttal from Aztlan. It’s an interesting piece but I’m really hoping Catalyst Games Labs doesn’t a full “Dragon Vs. Metahumanity” war planned as a story arc. Just the concept reminds me of when White Wolf introduced the “Week of Nightmares” and how that not only went over like a led balloon but pretty much helps tank the Original World of Darkness. Considering how good the writing has been for Shadowrun lately, I’d like to think this is a red herring for something else, but you never know. This section also reuses some art from previous releases this year so I’m sure someone will have a quibble about that.
As well, it’s a little odd that this piece is here as it could have fit with Artifacts Unbound or Conspiracy Theories as it makes reference to both products and unfortunately, you do need to own one or both to actually get the full depth of what’s going on in this piece in regards to artifacts being mentioned and the assassination that takes place.
2) Ares Arms. This is six pages of vehicles and weapons, along with running commentary from Jackpoint users. Vehicle stats are interesting, especially if you play a Rigger or run a story with a lot of people playing them, but nothing here is going to make you say, “HOLY CRAP! I need to shell out eight bucks so I can use that tank/hovercraft.” There’s enough vehicles stats out there already.
3) 2073 Character Corner. This is four pages on a character named Samantha Roth that is done in the same style as the character compendium Street Legends that came out earlier this year? Was wasn’t this in that? I don’t know? Maybe it wasn’t done in time? Maybe the page count would have messed it up? Maybe she was thought of after the fact? I don’t have an answer for you. Ms. Roth is not an especially interesting character or one you’ll need for a particular adventure or campaign. Like the rest of the bits in 2073 so far this is just…kind of here.
4) Thailand. This is three pages on the state of Thailand in the Sixth World. I found it interesting, as I always find the cultural anthropology/sociology bits of the game to be the most interesting, but again, it’s not something that is going to sells 2073 on its own.
5) Street Legal. Eleven more pages of vehicles, but this time it’s standard ones instead of military grade types that we saw in Ares Arms. Interesting stuff, but nothing vital to a campaign by any means.
6) Awakened Flora. Yes, you read that right. It’s six pages of magical plants. I found this interesting, like the Awakened Kudzu that can act as an Astral Barrier, but I’m not sure how many other people would. I mean, my adventures tend to be more thinking/talking than guns a blazin’, and so this works for the things I do (Blame my many years of being a Call of Cthulhu keeper/Vampire: The Masquerade Storyteller) but more those that are more combat oriented, I can’t see these plants coming up very often or any sort of story where a GM would NEED something like this.
Basically, everything in State of the Art: 2073 is interesting, but there are several problems with it. The first is that I have no idea who would pick this up aside from people who buy EVERYTHING Shadowrun related. Nothing in this is important, pressing or needed to play Shadowrun, nor is there anything in SotA:2073 that you’re going to go out of your way for. The second is that, due to the mix of materials in here, very few people are going to be able to use this as a whole. You might use the vehicles, but not the plants, character bio or Metaplot speech. So on and so forth. It’s hard to justify an eight dollar price tag for what’s here when all the pieces in this are mainly filler at best. Finally, you pretty much have to be a diehard Shadowrun to buy this. For the same price as this you can get two Shadowrun Missions or even a full length missions like Anarchy Subsidized. It’s not newcomer friendly by any means so unless you don’t have a problem purchasing everything with a Shadowrun label on it, there’s no real reason o pick this up.
Again, the writing is well done and what’s here is neat, but at the end of the day, State of the Art: 2073 is too all over the place to recommend for the average Shadowrun fan and for the price tag. Nothing within is going to improve or even necessarily enhance your campaign. It’s all just stuff that is kind of there. Do yourself and favor and pick up something else unless you absolutely need to own everything Shadowrun related. As the lower right hand corner of the supplement says, this is a “Shadowrun Data Dump.” That’s exactly what you’re getting and if that description doesn’t make you instantly want to put down eight dollars towards it – then don’t.