Friday, January 22, 2010
from Dunedin, New Zealand
Review: As befits the game`s raison d`etre, magic has been consistently well-handled by Shadowrun`s designers, who have built up a set of rules that combine game logic, mechanical elegance and interpretive license in a way that puts the ultimate conceptual failure of Mage: The Ascension into sharp focus. Awakenings offers several fascinating additions to this tradition. The only caveat is that the most time-consuming of these additions, the voudoun rules, amount to little more than a minor variation on the existing rules for shamanism. Having said that, the voudoun rules are saved by the book`s strongest feature - its fictional interludes. As someone who studies fantasy on an academic basis, I`ve often used Shadowrun as an example of a dopey idea redeemed by superb execution, and Awakenings is my go-to example for this. The game-related fiction in this book is superb, with the collection of `personal confessions` from magicians being the real standout. Shadowrun magicians are fascinating characters, and the pre-existing Grimoire sourcebook didn`t really do them justice from that standpoint. Here the personal experience of being saddled with a mysterious, emergent power you didn`t ask for is covered in lavish and incisive detail. The Grimoire tells you what magicians do - this tells you what it feels like. This book is worth it just for the read. As a sourcebook, it`s arguably the best I`ve come across for any system. If you`re a Shadowrun player who isn`t using this book, you may as well be playing Cyberpunk.