Shadowrun: Street Legends Supplemental
Publisher: Catalyst Games Labs
Release Date: 01/02/2011
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
Street Legends Supplemental is the first Shadowrun release of 2012. It’s a follow up to last year’s Street Legends. Although this forty-seven page supplement follows the same format as the first book bearing the Street Legends name, you don’t need to own that to use or understand this one. If you liked that book, you’re probably going to enjoy this one.
One of the quibbles about Street Legends was the $45 price tag attached to the physical edition. However the pdf was $25, or roughly seventy-eight cents per character. When you break it down like that, the price wasn’t so bad after all. With Street Legends Supplemental, you are getting ten characters for $7.95, or roughly eighty cents per characters. That’s still not a bad price tag, all things considered and so people who love anything and everything Shadowrun will enjoy picking this up. More casual fans or newcomers will be lost at times while flipping through this, but the book gives enough background and history on each character that anyone reading this will get a decent idea of how to run said NPC, even if all the blanks aren’t filled in.
The other real complaint about Street Legends was the lack of ethnic diversity. Twenty of the thirty-two characters were human after all. In Street Legends Supplemental the spread is about the same. You have six humans, one fomori, one free spirit, one troll and one…elf? I would have liked a little more diversity, but to be honest humans do tend to dominate the Sixth World.
So who do you get in Street Legends Supplemental? There’s Street Rage, Hard Exit, Kane, Mihoshi Oni, The Smiling Bandit, SLAMM-O!, Buttercup, Damien Knight, Anne Ravenheart and…Harlequin. The last one right there is not only the most famous character in all of Shadowrun but will no doubt be the impetus for a lot of people to purchase this supplement. I was really worried when I saw they included Harlequin because giving the stats of mythic or legendary figures has never been a good thing when a game does it. This is because once those stats are published gamers divide into four camps: The first is, “Oh hey! That’s pretty neat.” The second is, “Now I can KILL THEM!” The third is, “Well, this isn’t accurate at all. If you read page 156 of book XYZ, you can clearly see that character ABC doesn’t match the stats. What idiot wrote this dreck?” The fourth is, “I want my character to be that powerful.” Thankfully the first camp is the larger, but holy hell are the other three loud and obnoxious. As soon as I saw Harlequin was in this I immediately imagined message boards filled with petty bitching and fighting about this. The good news is that while you’re STILL going to get gamers who will carry these stats around and say to their DM, “Nu-uh! He can’t do that!” when Harlequin shows up, CGL did an excellent job of keeping the mystery alive in terms of characterization and background…if not stats. You don’t get anything definite about The Laughing Man at all. It’s mostly heresy and innuendo. In fact, his bio is done in such a way that it’s meant to make newcomers to Shadowrun intrigued and veterans crap their pants as to what is coming down the road. Even with the stats, Harlequin is well done and insanely powerful o the point where any smart gamer will take a glance and these and decide not to say…see how reliable an Ares Excalibur actually is by testing it out on him. Still, some of the mystery is now lost. At least they way Catalyst Games Labs went about doing this was the best way possible. I’m just hoping I don’t read someone’s post on a forum somewhere posting the rolls and events that led to their party killing Harlequin.
The other bios are all pretty good as well. I’ll admit that I didn’t have any pressing desire or need to read about the other nine characters in here, but after doing so, I’m glad I did. My favorites were The Smiling Bandit and Damien Knight. Sure 95% of Shadowrun campaigns will never need to use these stats and a majority won’t ever have to outright use these characters, but everything is so well presented that, much like Street Legends, this is a really fun read. With each bio, my wheels were turning about how I could use each character in a campaign. At the same time I was enjoying Street Legends Supplemental in the same way I enjoy a fiction novel. It’s well written, entertaining and something I’m glad I picked up…even if I never use the book in a campaign.
Street Legends Supplemental isn’t a must buy for anyone, but it is a well written supplement any Shadowrun fan who pays attention to the metaplot of 20AE can enjoy. It’s priced nicely and the inclusion of Harlequin alone should be intriguing (and controversial) enough to make some gamers pick this up even if they don’t already own Street Legends. Again, you don’t need to own Street Legends to understand or enjoy Street Legends Supplemental, but if you loved (and/or used) the first, you’ll want to pick this up as well. If you haven’t touched Street Legends for whatever reason, SLS still boasts ten fun characters to use in your campaign or just read about. It’s a hair less than eighty cents per character, which is a great price and I have a feeling that this is only the first of several supplements following the Street Legends format.