Sprawl Sites (1990)

This is Sprawl Sites (1990) and it is probably my favorite Shadowrun…I don’t want to call it a  sourcebook because it really feels more like a tool kit. I love tool kits!

Basically, it is a set of encounters, modular world pieces and contacts (Shadowrun’s ingenious NPC archetypes). Everything you need to throw together a scenario on the fly, really. The locations are probably the most useful – in addition to floor plans, they also include notes on who or what might be there and how they work. Most GMs will already have a good idea of what a restaurant is like, but they might be a bit at a loss for what a Talismonger shop is like. In this way, Sprawl Sites contributes a lot to the lived-in feel of the Shadowrun world.

I love Shadowrun contacts. I think these brief rundowns, accompanied by portraits, is an excellent way to give GMs barebones NPCs to work with that are interesting, encourage creativity and have a clear place in the overall world. There is probably an argument that you don’t necessarily neeeeed these contacts in addition to the ones in the core rulebook, but I don’t honestly see how having them is a bad thing. I might feel differently if they weren’t all illustrated by Jim Nelson.

The random encounters are maybe a little less useful than the rest, at least in terms of throwing stuff together on the fly. There are like, 130-something of them and they are organized thematically, so like, Yakuza encounters and Troll encounters, etc. I see them more as kind of encounter seeds – more useful as a framework for prep than a random game element (I am not a huge fan of random encounters though). Again, these all gave me a better handle on how the world of Shadowrun works and feels.

More books like this, please. Pure, modular, scenario building resources.

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