Saturday, November 17, 2012

Review: Shadowrun Parabotany

Shadowrun: Parabotany is one of the line of PDF only supplements being released by Catalyst for the Shadowrun 4th Edition line. The PDF was actually released back in April 2012, but despite picking it up shortly after it came out, I just didn't look at it and it has languished in my collection ever since. Recently I decided to pull it up and give it a read.

As you may expect from the name, this supplement covers awakened flora in the sixth world. At this point some of you are probably thinking "Oooo, magic plants, big deal." I must say the thought crossed my mind as well when I first picked it up with the added "what possible use could I have for this, it's probably even less use than the military equipment catalogues in my game." How wrong I was. This may seriously be one of the most useful of the PDF only supplements to date.

So what do you get for your money. Well you get a 51 page PDF with the image of a car driving into an awakened tumbleweed on the cover. This is followed by the now familiar Jackpoint page.

After this is the meat of the product, lots of pages on plants (still boring you say, well it isn't.) This is split into subsections

  • 27 pages of Paranormal Plants - new plants discovered in the sixth world that weren't in the fifth
  • 5 pages of Blighted Plants - awakened plants that have been corrupted by their environment or turned toxic
  • 2 pages of Mutant Plants - mutant members of regular fifth world plants
  • 3 pages of Engineered Plants - plants that have been developed by the corporations for security purposes
  • 4 pages of Botanical Advances - details on new advances in plants (yes really) and information on new forms of plant based alcohols and drinks
  • 7 pages of Game Rules - information on the new abilities and powers of some of the plants, information on creating your own awakened flora, information on various plant based magical compounds, paints and drugs
  • Plant index - an index to all plants in this PDF, plus those plants detailed in other 4th edition supplements
Still doesn't sound like much, well it's hard to get into the details as to why this is so useful. Each of the sections contains interesting plants that can be used to both add colour to the world of Shadowrun, and to surprise your players with. An example from each section
  • Paranormal Plants - Sleeping Willow - A willow tree that has the ability to record what happens around it. If you sleep under the tree then you will dream in great detail of a random day around the tree. Incidentally recently the Corporate Court ruled that recordings made by the tree and played back in someone's dream, is not admissible as evidence
  • Blighted Plants - Gomorrah Apple Tree. An apple tree where the consumption of its fruit starts a rapid petrification process in the eater. Once paralyzed the tree extrudes tendrils that then such the life essence out of the unfortunate victim
  • Mutant Plants - Dropping Pine. What seems like a normal pine tree that defends itself from being attacked or chopped down by weakening branches so they fall off onto the person below
  • Engineered Plants - Thornblades. A grass with stems consisting of small wooden pikes that can be placed among regular grass and are capable of piercing the soles of most regular footwear

This is just a taste, but the supplement is surprisingly useful for almost any game. Even a deep shadows game set in Shadowrun will find some use inside, even if it is only the plant based compounds and the security engineered plants. I highly recommend Parabotany.

Parabotany can be purchased from DriveThruRPG for $7.99.

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