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Out of Print Shadowrun Books Available as PDFs

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the merry-christmas,-chummer dept.

Role Playing (Games) 41

The current design team for the Shadowrun table-top RPG, FanPro, has intended to make out of print resources available via the web for quite a while. In what is hopefully the first in a series of such offerings, they've made the Gamemaster's Screen and Critters Sourcebook available for download in PDF format.

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FP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11192268)

Cool, 2 direct downloadlinks on the frontpage. Bye bye server. ;)

Re:FP? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11192433)

Yeah, this discussion is just smokin'

Good for them. (3, Interesting)

OneDeeTenTee (780300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11192285)

That's one thing that annoys me about most paper and dice RPGs, there isn't any way look at the materials and give them a good try unless you know some gamers or have the willingness to shell out cash for something that you might not use again.

Re:Good for them. (4, Insightful)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11192425)

That's why it's so important to support your local gaming shop. When something
new comes out, I always flip through it at the store to determine if it's
something worth buying and I've never been hassled. If you get everything
online and the local stores disappear due to lack of community support, you
will always be at the mercy of whatever content Amazon (or whoever) decides to
make available to you.

Also, people who run local gaming shops are far more likely to have a personal
interest in the material than large retailers (like Walden's). Get to know
them and they can be a wonderful resource for getting introduced to new systems.

Re:Good for them. (1)

thomkt (59664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11194497)

Unless your Friendly Neighborhood Gamestore is Things From Another World and they plastic wrap all their books.

- Kyle

Re:Good for them. (1)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197399)

Every 'F'LGS in my area has the idea that shrinkwraping all the books they sell is a good idea and that looking at the books for more than 5 minutes is a capital crime. And the word discount is a very dirty word they have never heard of.

Re:Good for them. (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11198939)

Gaming stores that started out as comic stores often have this mentality.
Once they realize that gaming books are references, as opposed to investments,
they generally lighten up some. When you have something you're interested in,
ask them if they have a copy (used or new) that you browse through. If they're
not gamers themselves, they may not understand how gamers shop.

Educate them.

Re:Good for them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11211829)

Except that amazon already allows you to read a few of the pages from books that they sell. Combine that with the user reviews available on the site and you can get a pretty good idea of what the book is about before you buy.

Re:Good for them. (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193340)

Of course, that's the case with any other book, game, or other media product. Just be a cautious customer, and ask around first.

The Matrix was based on Shadowrun (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11192480)

Well, according to an old CA rumor [] , anyway:

November 10, 1997... "This film may be based in part on a novella called 'Virtual Realities', originally published in the sourcebook of the same name for the 'Shadowrun' role-playing game. Briefly, it's the story of an entity named Renny which lives in the global computer network called the Matrix. Other people, human beings, are able to enter the Matrix and manipulate data, but Renny is much better at it because he's spent his entire life in the Matrix. Eventually, one of the human beings hired to help 'train' Renny discovers that Renny isn't an artificial intelligence at all, but a real human child that has been cut off from all 'real-world' stimuli so that he focuses solely on the Matrix world -- the only world he knows. The story, by Christopher Kubasik, is excellent and well-told.

"Having spoken with the line developer of the 'Shadowrun' RPG, I know that a film based on this novella is in the works. However, all references to the RPG are being removed in the interest of streamlining the story (and possibly avoiding licensing fees). That would explain some of the plot differences, as well as the fact that the film is set in 2197 rather than 2059 (the date of the game world). It's hard to say what similarities the film will have to the original story, but I'm still looking forward to it."

Also, there was a fantastic "MMORPG" (we called 'em MUDs) located at, back in the bad old days. Great source material.

Re:The Matrix was based on Shadowrun (1)

glowimperial (705397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193402)

I heard similar rumors. The novella in question, is really excellent, one of the few really great pieces of literature to be attached to a RPG. Shadowrun always had excellent backround material.

I think that some of the problems with a Shadowrun based movie might be the involvement of Microsoft, who owns all of the electronic rights to FASA's material. So no games or MMO's or possibly even the movie without the interaction of FanPro, Microsoft, the author of the Novella. Might be too many fingers in the pie for the film to get made from that material. I am not sure who owns film rights to FASA's material. That might be a murky area, given the post-FASA state of affairs.

ICE are also releasing pdfs of old material. (4, Informative)

rjforster (2130) | more than 9 years ago | (#11192663)

And new material for that matter. For example, right now their newest game HARP is available as a PDF for just $2. This is less than I spent on the plastic lyfjacket cover for my printed copy!

ICE []

Re:ICE are also releasing pdfs of old material. (3, Interesting)

FLEB (312391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193306)

I won't look down on them for opening up the opportunity (both to themselves and to the customers), but I have to say... I don't think I could play a whole game (assuming it was a book of any decent size) through a PDF. When playing an RPG, you need a lot of content, quickly and easily. I suppose a laptop with the PDF loaded could fit the need pretty well, but I'll take dead trees any day.

Although, this would be a good buy for your players, so you don't have to play "Who needs the book this week?" all the time.

Re:ICE are also releasing pdfs of old material. (1)

EricTheMad (603880) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193840)

I don't think I could play a whole game (assuming it was a book of any decent size) through a PDF.

That's why God invented Kinko's.

Re:ICE are also releasing pdfs of old material. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11193433)

Thanks for pointing out that old ICE is still around. I lost track of them just about the time they entered chapter 7. I'm really glad a company of such storied history didn't just collapse and vanish.

Re:ICE are also releasing pdfs of old material. (1)

battlemarch (570731) | more than 9 years ago | (#11195183)

From their web site:

Middle-earth Issues

Q: Where can I buy or get information on ICE's old Middle-earth products?
A: Simply stated, ICE no longer sells, supports or provides rules, card lists or any other material or information related to our old Middle-earth games. We no longer hold the license for Middle-earth gaming products, so as such we do not sell or support any of our old Middle-earth products including Middle-earth Roleplaying or the Middle-earth Collectible Card Game. If you are seeking information on any of our old Middle-earth games our best suggestion is to do an internet search--there are hundreds of sites out there that have the info you're looking for. If you are looking to fill in the holes in your Middle-earth Roleplaying collection we recommend eBay.

Hummm, so my question is: what would be the legal standing if folks scanned in their old Middle-Earth books into PDF and distributed them free on the net?

Re:ICE are also releasing pdfs of old material. (1)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11199842)

what would be the legal standing if folks scanned in their old Middle-Earth books into PDF and distributed them free on the net?

That would be quite interesting. You're infringing copyright, but a copyright held by someone who no-longer has the trademark license to sell his own work. (They could change the names to be something different from Tolkien's Middle-Earth and re-release)

this was.... (1, Flamebait)

drfrog (145882) | more than 9 years ago | (#11192921)

the worst cyberpunk RPG system to come out,
FASA has a unique ability to overcomplicated gaming rules
{try playing a magic class in shadowrun}

Great story/ background plot though

go look at Cyberpunk from R. Talsorian Games
{yes it doesnt have magic, but its easy to build in }

or even steve jackson games gurps cyberpunk

Re:this was.... (1)

msoya (599813) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193219)

Shadowrun isn't cyberpunk, though. It doesn't try to be. It takes some things from cyberpunk, yes, but it makes something entirely different out of them. For proper cyberpunk, Guardians of Order have released Ex Machina, which comes with 4 settings, ranging from third-world dystopia, to biotech space towers, to America a few years in the future, just how the Department for Homeland Security would like it...

Re:this was.... (1)

glowimperial (705397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193373)

A lot of the rules could get arcane and take a lot of playtime to execute, but I always felt that the level of detail was worth it. Shadowrun, I always thought was too big for pen and paper, it really needed to be computer moderated, with all of the rules running in the backround. It would make an excellent MMO.

An experienced GM and players group can burn through a game pretty quickly, once everyone has a good grasp on the rules and some experience using them.

I always thought that Cyberpunk had a lot of flaws and lacked rules for numerous activities. I'm not a GURPS fan, and am not familiar with those rules.

Re:this was.... (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 9 years ago | (#11194909)

I believe Microsoft owns the license to make Shadowrun videogames. I hope they use it to enter the MMORPG market.

Re:this was.... (1)

glowimperial (705397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11196777)

They definitely do own the electronic rights. There is an E-mail address at microsoft ( that you can contact regarding things shadowrun, but no one has ever recieved a response that I know of. Many people have E-mailed in requests that Microsoft develop this property, however.

Re:this was.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11200882)

Expand, you mean. They're already in the market with Asheron's Call.

Re:this was.... (1)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11201372)

Actually they are leaving the market now. Turbine who made Asheron's Call 1 and 2 acquired the franchise from Microsoft earlier this year and is in the process of moving them away from Microsoft. They are beginning to migrate the billing which is the final step in moving AC1. After the new year they plan to migrate AC2. Turbine is also working on an expansion for AC1 which hopefully combined with the move away from that cursed MSN Zone site and the elimination of Microsoft's poor policies on abuse will breathe some life back into the game. Once everything is moved maybe some players might reactivate their accounts as Microsoft's involvement was one of the complaints from a number of players. What puzzled me about the Asheron's Call franchise was why Microsoft never utilized it's massive marketing machine to push the game like they do with their other products. Advertising for the series was practically nonexistant. With AC1 and AC2 leaving Microsoft's control and the cancellation of Mythica, Microsoft will be out of the market at least until their Xbox title True Fantasy Online is released.

Also in regards to Microsoft owning the license to Shadowrun videogames, there was a title in the works years ago which they axed. It was called Shadowrun: Assassins and was supposed to be released in 1999, but got canceled when merging FASA Interactive into Microsoft Game Studios. They were handing out promo cards and showing a non-interactive demo at Gencon in August of 1998. There was also talk of another title which had never gotten announced.

correction (1)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11201501)

It appears I missed the news back in June and True Fantasy Live Online was also cancelled. There is a response from Microsoft posted here. []

Re:this was.... (1)

The_Dougster (308194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197095)

I used to GM ShadowRun way back around 1991. It really wasn't all that complicated. No more than any of the other P&P games around at the time, and it was considerably simpler than the behemoth that D&D had grown into by that time.

We always had a good time playing it. I think I ran maybe a half-dozen adventures over as many months.

If you read the recent flame war on ZSNES vs Snes9x, you might be interested to know that there is a ShadowRun SNES Rom floating around thats pretty fun. I use ZSNES to run it personally. And yes, I bought the actual game for my now mothballed SNES.

Re:this was.... (1)

glowimperial (705397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197791)

There is both a Shadowrun game for NES and for Genesis. Both totally different games. Suprising, given the costs of developing a video game that they would do 2 totally seperate games for 2 systems based on a RPG, at the same time. Each one has it's merits, but neither is really compelling, in retrospect. The Genesis one is more accesable, and the SNES one can be irritating, but has a better story and graphics. Had either of these games been great or classic, perhaps the Shadowrun license would be much stronger today.

Re:this was.... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11198005)

You forgot to mention the differences in more detail:

SNES Version
* Better story. More engrossing, drives play more. It also is far more linear.
* Better graphics. Assuming you don't hate navigating isometric views. ;)
* Loose adherence to SR character development. The traits necessary to the game are there, but it always seemed kind of forced.
* Worst Matrix decking simulation ever. It was like a half-assed addition at the last minute.
* Clumsy combat system. Aiming that crosshair was not the most natural thing in the world.
* A fairly interesting way of getting new magic. Don't just buy that spell you want, you have to quest for it!

Genesis version:
* Very loose storyline. I was often reminded of the original Mechwarrior, where you'd suddenly remember, "Oh, yes! There was a storyline I was following!" It also means you don't have to follow it at all.
* "Less pretty". 2d overhead view with minimal color palette at times, but still adequate.
* Far closer to actual SR character rules. If you don't choose mage from the get-go, you can't ever use magic. Also, getting cyber reduces your magic.
* Simple combat system. Yet it worked.
* Far more environmental interaction, often via "random" events. Want to buy that illegal HK225 w/laser sight? Better hope Lone Star doesn't randomly check you on the street!
* BEST MATRIX SIMULATION EVER. (For a system at the time) The only thing I ever found nearly as much fun was the original System Shock. It's like they decided to make up for the SNES version. In fact, I'd spend most of the Genesis version parked in one corner of the map, next to the data fence, breaking into systems. (It was also the best way to make money)
* More interesting shadowruns. SNES version had you going up office buildings, shooting things. Genesis version had you sneaking into corporation buildings, avoiding/disabling cameras from the Matrix, sneaking around guards, etc.

They were both fun, honestly, and worth looking for. I think the main thing keeping them from being considered classics was the difficulty in finding them when they came out. The Genesis one is the only one that has seriously made me consider ebaying a Nomad so I could play it anywhere.

More info on Genesis version:

More info on SNES version: index.shtml

Magic in Shadowrun (1)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193680)

Yes, playing a mage char in Shadowrun could be somewhat awkward, but that was probably more due to the fiction than the actual mechanics, from what I saw.

In the Shadowrun scenario, only 5-10% of the population were supposed to be magically active in any way at all. Magic users were NOT common, and neither were incidents involving magic. People throwing fireballs at each other after the escalation of a violent argument wasn't something you saw every day.

The other thing you might have found awkward was the fact that there was a hell of a lot of detail there...check out the Grimoire sourcebook as probably the best example. Very very detailed astral space system, and all sorts of other cool stuff.

So was hard, and it was rare...but it sure looked worth it, gameplay wise.

everything was overly complex (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11194044)

rolling 10+ D6 to attack, and 10 D6 multiple times to determine if it did anything gets old after a while.

Re:Magic in Shadowrun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11205174)

Only 1% is magically active, and a large chunk of that is either aspected, physads, or never learns to use their powers.

Re:this was.... (2, Interesting)

mbourgon (186257) | more than 9 years ago | (#11194823)

The difference between Cyberpunk (which I've played) and Shadowrun (which I've been playing for 14+ years now) is that Shadowrun is Cinematic. The good guys pull through by the skin of their teeth. The bad guys always get away - even if a trunk is dropped on them from A Great Height. SR1 was clunky, especially during large combats using burst-fire. But SR3 has really improved things, and our group's been loving it. Once everyone knows what they're doing, it's quick and fun. Even for mages. *grin*

That being said, I'd love for their to be some sort of SR RPG. Tactical simulator, too, while you're at it. Rumors have abounded for years about an SR videogame - c'mon, guys, where is it?

Re:this was.... (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11196453)

There was a rather weak SR RPG for the SNES, adn a very good one for the Genesis.

And I believe the tactical version was the DMZ boxset.

Re:this was.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11205188)

First off, no classes.

Second off, magic is trivial. Hell, even Rigging you have to get pretty deep into before it gets complicated.

Problem Exists Between Sourcebook and Couch, I'd say.

Great news! (2, Insightful)

Christopher Cashell (2517) | more than 9 years ago | (#11193285)

This is really great news. Shadowrun has been one of my absolute favorite RPG's ever since it was released.

Admittedly, the first edition rules were a little rough around the edges, but the stories and setting were all absolutely top notch, and with the second edition rules streamlining a lot of things, I was really impressed.

I would love to see some of the other rulebooks released online, too. Now if I could just find someone to play this with. . . haven't played a table top RPG in years. ;-)

no DRM. (1)

Funksaw (636954) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197071)

So long as the files aren't DRMed, I'm cool with this. I've had to give up on alot of gaming material because with an international move coming up in a few months, I really can't afford to get books in any other format EXCEPT electronic - but there's no way I'm going to get the DRM stuff that alot of companies are putting out through White Wolf's Adobe-ebook based pay-for-play site.

Re:no DRM. (2, Informative)

Drantin (569921) | more than 9 years ago | (#11197854)

Nope, they're just plain PDFs...

Thanks FanPro (2, Interesting)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11201397)

I applaud FanPro on the release of these PDFs and hope they continue to release more. I already own the originals that FASA published, but maybe this will help attract new players. I haven't played in years, but I might be able to attract some friends to the game without having to worry about them abusing my copies of the books. I just hope they release some of the out of print Battletech sourcebooks also. FASA had promised for years to do so since there was still a demand for the books, but not enough to reprint. Unfortunately FASA is no more so that never materialized.

Re:Thanks FanPro (2, Informative)

SR Developer (844256) | more than 9 years ago | (#11203690)

You'll see both Shadowrun and Classic BattleTech PDFs appearing next month at and -- and these will be non-DRM PDFs to boot. We'll also have the Shadowrun Quick Start Rules up on as a free PDF later this week.

Re:Thanks FanPro (1)

Captain Chaos (13688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11206219)

That sounds great, thanks for the update. I haven't played either game in years and haven't been to Gencon since it moved from Milwaukee, but I've been meaning to get back into it. This should help me introduce some friends to the games since I'm leery of loaning my books out after some bad experiences in the past. I'd also like to say thanks for not using DRM in the files. I've got another RPG rulebook in PDF format and I wasn't too happy to find it used DRM, especially seeing as how I had also purchased the hardcopy version of the same book.

Re:Thanks FanPro (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#11209388)

"I just hope they release some of the out of print Battletech sourcebooks also."

For the most part, they've been "working on it" for a quite a while, but they do have the House Davion sourcebook as a PDF as well as some other House sourcebooks in text format here []
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