Tabletop Review: Shadowrun: Montreal 2074

Shadowrun: Montreal 2074
Publisher: Catalyst Game Labs
Page Count: 21
Cost: $5.99
Release Date: 12/18/2012
Get it Here:

Montreal 2074 is one of those Shadowrun releases I was really looking forward to. I love it when time and energy is devoted to locations other than the usual areas like Seattle, Berlin, Bogata, Chicago and Japan. As someone that has had running Quebec separatists jokes going since that fateful episode of “The Critic,” I’ve somehow stuck a comedic reference to Quebec liberation in far too many things (“Vive Jay Sherman! Vive Quebec!”) for my own good. Hell, I just did it in my Avengers: Battle For Earth review. So books devoted to locations most gamers don’t normally think of are of personal interest to me, even though I know they’re probably a niche product overall. As you can imagine, I was quite excited for Montreal 2074, even if the page count is a little thin. The good news is that, at only twenty-one pages, Montreal 2074 does an amazing job, covering pretty much everything you would want for running an adventure or full-blown campaign in Quebec’s number two city, save for a restaurant guide. The overall product was so good, I would LOVE to see this become a recurring line. Two dozen pages of interesting locations for five bucks or so. I’d love to see something similar for, say, Barbados, Paris, Miami, Cancun, and hell why not Arkham, MA even though it’s not real. Hey we’re getting new versions of Shadowrun and Call of Cthulhu in 2013, why not have a fun little crossover?

So what do you get in Montreal 2074? Well, for starters, you get a VERY different city from the one in our own 2012 (soon to be 2013). When I think of Montreal personally, I think of the fact it’s got a very strong gothic-industrial subculture (Kinetik Festival anyone?) and it’s one of the best cities for gourmands in North America. It’s a very classy city all the way around. Well…not so much in 2074. In the Sixth World, Montreal is a wonderful example of “be careful what you wish for” as the entire city has fallen to pot since Quebec managed to successfully secede from their Anglophile oppressive overlords. The city has lost much of its wealth and industry to Quebec City, half the population is below the poverty level, and an alliance of Megacorps has come in to try and take over the city, thus reducing the population of Montreal to little more than placated work drones. There is a massive class divide (perhaps even a class war) and a realization that much of the Quebec province is all but controlled by the NAN (North America Nations). However, with the incoming attempts to control Montreal and all of Quebec by this large megacorp alliance, there’s potential for war between the Native Americas and the conglomerates who want to take control of the country, as they have so many others before it. Of course, with all this economical, political and corporate drama to be had, it means Montreal is an EXCELLENT city for shadowrunners. There is a lot of business to be had here, whether you’re a stone cold merc who only cares about the nuyen, or you’re one of the few idealists that works in the shadows, trying to make things ever so slightly better. There is so much adventure potential in this small supplement, that I would be shocked if someone actually picked this up and couldn’t come up with at least six potential hooks for their gaming crew.

Montreal 2074 starts off with a nice piece of fiction, but I do think it could have been better arranged at the end, as readers would be able to understand it more thoroughly after having read the supplement proper. From there, Traveler Jones gives you the history of Montreal, from Crash 2.0 and the death of Lucien Cross, to its current deplorable state. Traveler touches on the inherent xenophobia of the Republic, how to get in and out of Quebec, and the current corporate/political climate. It’s of note that, of the businesses that are still quite productive in Montreal, many build parts for the Matrix.

A full fourth of the book is devoted to the various districts/boroughs of Montreal. While it’s nowhere as in-depth as, say, the old “By Night” books White Wolf put out for Vampire: The Masquerade, it’s still chock full of information. In fact, while reading this, I also flipped through Black Dog’s Montreal By Night and found myself impressed by how well both pieces actually complimented each other. Personally, if I was going to run a Shadowrun campaign set in Montreal, I’d use Montreal 2074 as the overview, as it’s quite excellent, but then for locations, landmarks and other things left untouched by this book (it’s only twenty-one pages, give it a break!) I’d use Montreal by Night to fill in the blanks and gaps. I love how much detail they managed to cram into this section, and honestly, I’d love to see what Olivier Gagnon could have done with, say, double the page count.

From there we move on to a list of the various forces waging war, both covertly and blatantly, for Quebec’s soul. You’ve got the various biker gangs, Asian triads, a weakened mafia, and a bunch of weird little groups like the Failed, the Fallen (expect at least one GM or player per crew to get the two of those mixed up at some point) and the Black Mass. Of course, we can’t also forget the megacorps and local politicians. Each group is given a lot of background information, although I would have liked to have seen more, especially with Le Consortium Pour Le Development Du Quebec and La Gendarmerie. There’s so much that can be done with either group, and I see those two being the main focus of any campaign that takes place in Montreal.

Montreal 2074 then ends things with quick discussion of Quebecois Native Americans and the flora and fauna of the region. The last three pages of Montreal 2074 are devoted to in-game mechanics. More specifically, it’s three pages of stat blocks for various generic NPCs you will encounter within Montreal. There are nine different NPCs, and although I’d have rather seen these last few pages devoted to more information about the city proper, this is still a fine inclusion, especially for those that want stats.

All in all, Montreal 2074 is a great buy for gamers, like myself, who love to read about cities or locations in various systems. I love the city books Chaosium produces for Call of Cthulhu or the “By Night” books for the World of Darkness. Montreal 2074 is a much shorter (and far cheaper) equivalent for Shadowrun, and I’d love to see more books in this vein being released for the system. For those that just want mechanics or stats, you should probably look elsewhere, as you’re just getting twenty pages of fiction for your six dollars. Likewise, if that seems a bit expensive or you just like to pick up adventure compilations, Montreal 2074 probably isn’t for you either. Still, if you purchase Shadowrun books and supplements to read as much as you do to play, Montreal 2074 is a top-notch choice for you or any Sixth World fan you know.



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