Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review: Shadowrun - Sim Dreams and Nightmares

It's been a little while since I last did a review, but I've been reading a bit more again lately so I'll have more coming in the near future.

For this review we have the newest PDF only Shadowrun release, Sim Dreams and Nightmares (available as usual from DriveThruRPG.) Following in the lines of many of the other PDF only releases, Sim Dreams and Nightmares takes a single topic and gives it a nice expansion to flesh it out in the world. In this case we have the topic of Simsense, more specifically in the terms of simsense chips and related uses.

For those who aren't completely up on their Shadowrun technologies, Simsense is a tech that at it's most basic allows a person to live the experiences and sensory input of another in a situation. Mostly used in the entertainment area, simsense is popular in movies in that it can put you right in the action. Obviously it has also found a lot of popularity in the pornography industry as well.

Simsense at a basic level is completely legal throughout the Shadowrun world and is used by billions as part of their normal entertainment. However this supplement isn't dealing with that legal simsense. It's dealing with the darker side. Addictive sims, mood enhancers, BTLs (Better Than Life), persona chips and the like.

So what do we get in our PDF this time? Well we have 17 pages. These pages are broken down into

  • Cover page - 1 page
  • Obligatory JackPoint login page detailing upcoming files and some news from the setting (incidentally the date on this file is for 27 Dec 2074) - 1 page
  • Two short stories - 2 pages
  • Sinsense: The Ultimate Opiate (the meat of the supplement) - 9 pages
  • Game rules and prices - 4 pages
So onto the content of each part. The cover I quite like, and it illustrates the subject relatively well. On one half you have a well to do ork in his finest snow ensemble skiing down a slope in some lovely mountains. His ski outfit appears to be partially a white suit, with bowtie and it looks like there are some people chasing him lending the suggestion that he could be a Bondesque character. The other half of the images is of a down and out ork with a cable running to his datajack, making skiing motions while dressed in a garbage bag in among dumspters in some dark alleyway. It's pretty well executed and I'm quite fond of it.

The JackPoint is pretty much as standard. Two callouts for upcoming products (Parazoology 2 & Storm Front) and a couple of in universe news items. Also a mention long time JackPoint contributor Turbo Bunny who is trying to clean up from doing chips (which is relevant to the meat of the PDF.)

The two short stories are appropriate to the topic at hand, but in all honesty I had a little trouble figuring out quite what they were referring to. I'm not sure why, maybe I'm missing something. I'll have to read them again.

For the main bulk of the book the information is presented, as usual, as a file uploaded to JackPoint and commented on by regulars. The file this time is being presented by Turbo Bunny who is going through the cleanup process after her fall into addiction and back out, and doesn't get the easiest time of it from the other posters. (For more information on Turbo Bunny check out 10 JackPointers, another of the PDF only releases.)

It delves into how governments and corporations can use simsense to help control the populace. There is discussion on how some forms of simsense can contain mental massagers to try and subconsciously influence people, and also discussion on how simsense can help people for rehabilitation and to assist with psychological issues.

Then we get into the types of chips, the ones that can be abused more by individuals.

First up is Moodchips, chips that you can slot to help set your mood level. Next is more discussion on the most common BTL type of chip, Dreamchips (where you can live someone else's life effectively) and tripchips (moodchips with other programming enhancements such as slowing down your perception, introducing other sensations and the like.)

Personasofts are another of the chips touched upon, where you can overlay another personality onto someone. Want to pick what personality your girl has in that Yakuza run Bunraku parlour? Well pick your girl, pick the personality from the menu, slot and go.

The text also touches on the dangers of the common skillsoft, including addiction and the inability to use your own skills even if they are better than the skills you can slot.

All in all this section could be expanded a little more, but the shadowtalk really helps to flesh it out and drops enough ideas that most GMs will get something from it.

For the rules pages we are presented with a selection of new advantages and disadvantages for character creation related to drugs, addiction and the like. This is followed up with advance addiction rules and the rules for going cold turkey. Following that are the addiction ratings and thresholds for the various drugs in the Shadowrun world, from chemical and Bio-Awakened Drugs (BAD) to simsense and magical fetish related items. Finally we have a list of the prices for the various simsense drugs.

Overall I really enjoyed this supplement. The subject matter is an interesting exploration of a small part of the Shadowrun world and it is well written. The shadowtalk within the articles is actually of a higher standard than usual and overall very entertaining, even if we never find out what happened to the sheep (you'll have to read it to find out, but /dev/grrl can be single minded sometimes.)

All in all I think it's a buy for the flavour it can add to your games and some great background for the setting. 4/5 chipheads. (Available from DriveThruRPG.)

1 comment:

  1. Pretty good review, Chummer. Wonder where to get that skillsoft. ;-) If you ever get that craving feel free to check out: