Tabletop Review: Shadowrun: 10 Mercs

Shadowrun: 10 Mercs
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
Page Count: 52
Cost: $7.95
Release Date: 02/25/2013
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com

2013 may have been touted as “The Year of Shadowrun” by Catalyst game Labs, but it hasn’t had a very good start so far. The Way of the Samurai was insipid at best and panned by most critics (including me) and Sprawl Sites: High Society and Low Life was a good idea but executed terribly as it was crawling out for a print release. Things are starting to take a turn for the better though, with the release of 10 Mercs.

10 Mercs isn’t about ten specific mercenaries, otherwise it would basically be an addendum to Street Legends. It does however list some specific Mercs by name and give their stat lists though, if that is what you are looking for. Instead, 10 Mercs is a comprehensive look ten mercenary companies/platoons/legions/etc. Not only does it give the history of each group and the stats of key players, it gives you more than enough information to use any of these gr4oups as possible allies, antagonists or even an organization one or all of your PCs can be members of. Consider running a full Bogotá oriented campaign where each player is a member of the same merc squad instead of the usual shadowrunning rigmarole. In this respect, 10 Mercs is exactly what Magical Societies should have been.

The only real major problem plaguing 10 Mercs is who would use this and how. Most of these merc bands aren’t ones you’ll see doing corporate espionage or going for small bounties on little known runners. (Note the use of the word MOST though…) This means if you are going to use one as an ally or the organization your runners are united through, you’re going to have to come up with some pretty intense missions. Most published adventures aren’t designed for organizations of this scope, power or price tag, Those that are tend to be for the Amazonia/Aztlan conflict and there’s only so much you can do with that before players get bored. So if you want to make regular use of any of these bands, you’re really going to have to hunker down and make some pretty out there affairs for your players. Your other option is to use the organizations in here sparingly or for the climax of a long running storyline or even the campaign itself. That means you won’t get much actual use out of the book playing wise, so it’s a good thing that it’s fun to read and highly entertaining even if it ends up being something you pick up for fiction reading.

So let’s do a quick rundown of the ten merc groups you’ll find within 10 Mercs

  • 58th Battle Brigade. This once great unit has fallen on hard times since the death of its founder. It’s currently locked in a subtle civil war between the founder’s two warring kids – one of which is quality and the other is a drug addled dupe of a triad. There’s lots that can be done with these guys, from cannon fodder opponents, to runners being hired by one brother to eliminate the other.

  • 180th Independent Air Regiment. This is a drone heavy unit and a good squad to use for an adventure featuring air combat or the importance of riggers.

  • 77th Independent Rangers. This is the squad of Jackpoint regular Picador and it is an odd mix of merc troop and D&D lawful good style paladins. It’s a little generic, but you do have a lot of story potential here and it gives your players a chance to interact with a Street Legend. Fans of Picador will be happy to see her stats here.

  • Bravo Company. The squad with the best logo and second most interesting history. Bravo Company has a bone to pick with Aztechnology and thus is a great choice to use in the Bogota conflict. It also feels like the best unit to use if you want to run a campaign where all the PCs are members of a merc unit. Rifleman seems like a fun leader to use with your players and the whole naming convention is sure to be good for moments of light comedy in-between (or even during) battles.

  • Free Marine Corps. They’re friends of Kane. What more do you need to know about them? Seriously though, they’re an independent marine unit with ties to houngans and they too have a bone to pick with Aztlan. It’s also the biggest and most powerful of the ten groups in this supplement so it will be easy to use the FMC if you want to run some lower key adventures instead of big ass battles.

  • Iron Cavalry. Centaurs, Fomori and Ogres, oh my. I always wanted to play a centaur in Shadowrun and this would let me do so, if only as GM. This is a platoon made up mostly of centaurs and other non PC races, so players won’t get a chance to play as members of this squad, unless the new version of Shadowrun adds some of these races in. These guys are pretty bad ass and unfortunately, they also have the power of Saeder-Krupp behind them. Ouch. This is my favorite team in the book and about the only thing they could have done better with the Iron Cavalry is if it had been named Shining Force because hey, everyone knows that’s what you call an army of centaurs.

  • New Assets. This is Quicksilver’s, “Save the Drakes” unit. This section also talks about how New Assets has become more proactive as of late due to the Dragon civil war of sorts going on in the metaplot. This section is pretty short compared to the other nine organizations, mainly because as the Jackpoint crew themselves note, a lot of the stuff relevant to New Assets has already been covered in The Clutch of Dragons.

  • Task Force Magus. A legion of assholes that all happen to be Awakened. Their power is only overshadowed by their complete and utter disregard for anything that isn’t Task Force Magus. Basically a group of complete sociopaths that get paid to kill and have a lot of magic backing them up. This is probably not a group you’ll want to have your PCs members of, but being force to ally with them in a conflict or even take them on will probably lead to some fun (or at least memorable) events in your campaign.

  • Team Zero. A group of dicks that no one at JackPoint seems to like, from Plan 9 to Hard Exit (man, that’s an odd alliance, isn’t it?). Basically it’s a group of disgruntled SEALs and Navy members that left to form their own frat boy merc squad. There are only twelve members, so it’s a good team to pit against your own runners. Plus you won’t feel bad about killing any of them (or the whole squad) off.

  • Thunder Corps. This is both the most amusing and unique merc group I the book. Basically it’s to show how powerful money and skillsofts can be in the Sixth World. The Thunder Corps is basically made up of rich corporate types that make up for their lack of skill with a shit load of money and cyberware to give them an edge. It does, but all the power in the world doesn’t make up for a lack of experience and common sense. They also have quite a trid following.
  • So there you go. The use one might get out of 10 Mercs may be limited depending on what you want out of a Shadowrun game, but it’s a highly entertaining read and offers you a lot of potentials allies and antagonists. It’s the best release for Shadowrun in 2013 so far but honestly, that’s not a hard title to claim.

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