With the tagline “Honor. Skill. And Exceptionally Sharp Blades” Catalyst have released The Way of the Samurai for Shadowrun 4E. At first I wasn’t too keen on purchasing a sourcebook for an edition that’s going to be superseded but relented because of the low price and the positive commentary on the internet. So what do you get for $4.95?
- Opening Chapter fiction – …Round Table…
- Fluff piece – Urban predators
- New Qualities
- New Cyberware Suites
- New Cyberware
- Street Samurai Archetypes
The opening piece of fiction at the start of every Shadowrun chapter or sourcebook is something I never read nor do I intend to. If your looking for a review of the opening prose then I apologize.
Urban Predators is the fluff piece for Way of the Samurai and breaks down the new qualities as if they were classes in an online shooter. I’m confused why the author presented the information in such a fashion as it makes for difficult and when mixed in with the shadow commentary, disjointed reading. Less commentary and a more real world shadowrun write up would have improved this section immensely. The jackpoint article at the front even eludes to the quality of this write-up.
“Slamm-0! managed to waste tons of bandwidth on another of his Matrix games” – Fastjack, page 1, Way of the Samurai.
The new qualities presented in the sourcebook are for characters with an essence of 2.99 or less and provide Street Samurais with sub-classes to differentiate themselves from other street samurais. The new qualities are Bodyguard, Merc, Panzer, Razorboy, Ronin, Sharpshooter and Street Ninja. It is interesting to see the direction Catalyst is taking with these qualities with the prerequisites containing gear as well as essence limits. This results in the qualities reinforcing the characters identity rather than introducing new elements.
The new cybersuites have been a long time coming and I’m glad to see Catalyst continue on from Augmentation. First off I’m a big fan of giving cyberware brand names because it’s an easy way to play up the style over substance aspect of cyberpunk. I enjoyed extrapolating what it means to have Lonestar Calamity Jane cyberguns showing up in the mangalore-bangalore-chennai sprawl enough to warrant a new cybersuite.
Two pieces of new cyberware, Boosted Reflexes and an Arm Blade. The boosted reflexes fill the void between booster-boys and wired reflexes but their cost has already been called into question as being too expensive. The Arm Blade is another odd piece of cyberware like grip feet and the cybertail. It’s not for me but if you need cybernetic swords for arms then here are the rules.
Street Samurai archetypes features an Elven Street Ninja, Dwarf Merc, Ork Bodyguard, Human Ronin, and Troll Panzer. They are complete write ups and intended to be used like the example characters in the core rulebook and used in lieu of designing a character. It was nice to the see the use of art from earlier editions (1st and 2nd) especially the Human Ronin template.
Overall for $4.95 dollars you’re getting your moneys worth. While the fluff is less than spectacular the crunch makes up for it. With a large selection of cyberware suites and some unique qualities you’re going to get a few ideas for your Shadowrun game. However a single street samurai isn’t going to use all of the stuff in this book and there are some glaring omissions (a writeup on Bushido being one.) that can be attributed to the price point.
If you’re a player: ¥ ¥
If you’re a GM: ¥ ¥ ¥