Shadowrun Missions: 04-07: Burn
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
Release Date: 02/20/2012
Get it Here: DrivethruRPG.com
Shadowrun Missions consists of a set of interconnected adventures that take place across a specific city. This season, Shadowrun Missions take place in the city where it all began – Seattle. If you’ve been reading my tabletop reviews regularly, then you’re about to hear me repeat myself with the following statement: Pound for pound, Shadowrun Missions is the best deal in gaming today. For the same price as a comic book, you get a complete adventure in a full colour PDF. The adventures are well written, a lot of fun to play through, and are designed in such a way that even a novice GM can run one with little trouble. Missions are a great way to learn how to play and/or GM Shadowrun. Regardless of your experience level with the system, you’ll find Missions to be a lot of fun, whether you’re playing them as an interconnected campaign or as a series of one-shots.
Burn continues the same streak of quality that we’ve seen throughout this season. This particular adventure continues the “Orc Underground” storyline that has flittered a good portion of this season’s missions. Don’t worry, though – if this is the first Shadowrun Mission that you’ve picked up, you’ll be able to run it having so much as looked at the other adventures in this season. The adventure is written in such a way that it gives you different text blocks and story points based on what prior exposure your players have had to this season. The adventure does play out easier if you’ve done the entire season, however, as there are many references to previous “episodes” as well as repeating characters. This means the players will know the characters, their personalities, and (hopefully) have an established contact/loyalty rating with some. Again, the adventure still plays out just fine with characters that aren’t as established with the NPCs, so don’t worry if you’re coming in with this mission.
Burn takes place over nine scenes, and it’s arguably the darkest Shadowrun Mission yet. The vote to make the Orc Underground an official district of Seattle is inching ever nearer but someone (or some group) obviously doesn’t want this to happen. As such they’ve been setting off a series of “accidents” around the Orc Underground, an incredibly gruesome one that your team will happen upon. The players are hired by the orc decker (yes, not Hacker) Bull MacCallister to figure out who is behind these attacks and shut them down. The adventure is more detective work than combat, which is always a nice change of pace from the typical Shadowrun adventure. The adventure has two, potentially three, fights out of the nine scenes, so a balanced party is best here. One of the fight scenes is a pretty unusual one while the other is a bit anti-climatic even though it’s the “big” fight of the adventure. Speaking of anticlimactic, if you’re looking for some sort of resolution or actual ending to the adventure, well, you’re not going to find one here. GMs and players alike will be disappointed with how the adventure tapers off. Sure, it’s meant to lead into another Shadowrun Mission, but as these are meant to be stand-alones as much as they are a series of interconnected adventures, this will no doubt irk those that purchased it for the former. I was definitely annoyed with how the adventure ended and it made me less than willing to run the adventure as written because of it. It’s still a well done adventure and worth the purchase price, but it’s also the weakest of the Shadowrun Missions this season and you’re better off purchasing and/or playing this once the next leg of the Orc Underground story comes out. A published adventure should never leave players hanging – especially when there is no guarantee when the next part of the plot will be followed up on. Even multiple published adventures that have a running story arc tend to have a beginning and an end for THAT specific adventure.
Although Burn is thirty-two pages long, the adventure itself is only sixteen pages long. The first four pages are a guide for running the adventure and the last twelve pages are NPC stat blocks, some maps, and a debriefing log. This may sound like a lot of padding, but it’s not. All of it is needed to run the adventure properly and is extremely useful to the more novice GMs.
All in all, Burn is a good adventure, but not a great one. It starts off well, but things start to taper off as the ending approaches. In all, it’s a bit anticlimactic in that the fights are dull and there is no actual story resolution, but it’s a well balanced adventure and at less than four bucks, it’s hard to say no to. It’ll probably be something I can give a higher recommendation to once the next leg of the story comes out, but for right now it feels unfinished. Insert Candle Jack meme here chummers. It’s a quality adventure, don’t get me wrong. It’s just not as good as the previous seven Missions of the season and because of that it can feel a bit more lackluster when you read through it than it really is.