Street Samurai Catalog (1992)

The Street Samurai Catalog is exactly what is says it is, a catalog of equipment geared toward street samurai, one of Shadowrun’s conventional combat archetypes. This is the revised version (1992) but aside of some stat tweaks it is essentially the same as the original (1989).

Before we go on, that cover. The original print’s cover design is better, but it still sports that painting, which. Yea. That dude might be chromed out and carrying a grenade launcher, but that mustache. That mullet. I 100% believe this guy used to be the “cool” high school science teacher and bought that katana at the mall. Anyway, moving on.

This book is straight cool. For starters, tech books like this give an subtle, piecemeal look at the character of the world, which is something I appreciate. It is an in-universe document and though printed on paper, the design incorporates scroll bars and buttons you’d expect to see in an internet browser or a tablet, long before internet shopping or tablets were a thing, which is kind of mind blowing. This is something that Cyberpunk’s Night City and Chromebook sourcebooks do really well, so much so that I was shocked that the Street Samurai Catalog predates those books by three years.

Speaking of Cyberpunk (the game), this is a good place to talk about how Shadowrun compares, especially in terms of cyberpunk (the sub genre). While I think I like Cyberpunk’s Interlock system better (it sure seems lighter) to play, I somewhat ironically like Shadowrun’s approach to cyberpunk more. The style over substance 80s greed thing in Cyberpunk wears me out. Shadowrun, perhaps because of the unorthodox inclusion of the fantasy elements, feels like it has a warmer heart and soul. It is easier to see its characters as having beliefs and ideals, which gives everything stakes, which in turn makes the world come alive. Cyberpunk’s inherent cynicism leaves me a bit flat in comparison, but YMMV.

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