This week I'll be talking about a new release for
Shadowrun, called Target: Smuggler Havens. This sourcebook provides detailed descriptions
of New Orleans and Vladivostok, two cities which are known for being frequented by
smugglers (and shadowrunners) in the Awakened world of the 21st century. In addition, the
book includes information about the growing number of experimental undersea communities
worldwide and the corporations behind them. But wait, there's more. You also get source
material for GMing overland smuggling runs, complete with descriptions of the most popular
routes and rules for running border crossing encounters. Now how much would you pay?
(FASA's asking fifteen bucks, by the way.)
New Orleans in the world of Shadowrun is a city where anything
can be had for a price. Goods of all types are smuggled through the city from just about
everywhere, on their way to just about everywhere else. Gambling dens, brothels, drinking
establishments, and the revels of Mardi Gras exist alongside the mysterious practitioners
of voudoun and the Awakened critters and spirits that lurk in the dark corners and deep
bayous. Whether you think of it as the "Big Easy" or "Sin City," it's
sure to be a place where shadowrunners can make some serious nuyen, or get seriously
Vladivostok, located on Russia's Pacific coastline, is similar to
New Orleans in some ways (being a haven for smuggling activities for one), but in the
years since the Awakening it has earned an identity of its own, becoming a cultural
melting pot of metahuman exiles from Korea, China, and Japan, and elsewhere. Add the
Russian military and secret police, a ruthless organized crime syndicate, and the
recently-relocated Yamatetsu megacorp to the mix, and you're starting to get an idea what
kind of city Vladivostok has become: a hotbed of intrigue and a locale for intrepid
smugglers and shadowrunners to ply their trades.
Two years ago, in Shadowrun time, the dragon Dunkelzahn died,
leaving a will which promised to award five million nuyen to whoever could first create a
self-sustaining underwater community, and since that time several corporations have been
racing to satisfy the conditions of the will and receive the prize. Target: Smuggler
Havens describes the underwater activities of the megacorps in the Sea of Japan, and also
relates the current state of affairs in Europe, where megacorps build offshore arcology
blocks in the North Atlantic and groups of eco-pirates wage war against them. Some
attention is given to details concerning the surveillance and security capabilities of
underwater facilities, in case such details become necessary in your campaign <eg>.
This sourcebook also describes several important smuggling routes
that run across North America, mainly between Seattle and New Orleans. For each of these
runs, details are provided concerning the basic route, the terrain it covers, secret stops
and safe houses, what goods are usually in demand, the relative difficulty of the run,
what types of vehicles are most appropriate, and what opposition might be met along the
way. One route, known as the Bug Zapper, runs from Minneapolis to Chicago, and includes a
stop in Madison, Wisconsin, where shadowrunners can find "great beer (that's right --
real beer!), college chicas or boytoys, and the most liberal environment in the
UCAS." Madison is also a haven for metavariants, whose abnormal physiology makes them
outcasts in less tolerant places. "The trade isn't so hot, as they don't have much
nuyen, but with all the other freaks there, you can hide out without getting seen."
This is amusing to me, but Madison is where I live. I'd say it's more or less accurate.
A section at the end of Target: Smuggler Havens includes
additional information for GMs who wish to use New Orleans, Vladivostok, undersea sites,
and the various smuggler land routes in their Shadowrun campaigns. New critters are
described, such as the loup garou and nutria of the New Orleans environs. In addition,
rules for handling border crossing encounters are provided (I believe for the first time
in any Shadowrun materials), and with all the political divisions in Awakened North
America, there are plenty of borders to cross.
Overall I think Target: Smuggler Havens is pretty cool. If you
want to include one or both of these cities into your Shadowrun game, or get your group of
runners into overland smuggling or investigating corporate aquaspheres, then this book
would be very helpful indeed. If these things don't interest you, though, then you might
as well save your money for something else: the range of information in this book is
pretty much limited to what I've described here. And you'll need that money come August,
because that's when the new Third Edition of Shadowrun is scheduled to be released. The
new edition will be an updated, revised, and improved version of the game's main book, and
will include an updated Shadowrun timeline.
Your friendly neighborhood Scout (uh, me) will be
dimension-hopping next week, so there will be no new column. I will return with a new
article and information on new game releases for July when I return on June 30. Until next
time, have fun, and may the dice fall your way. Scout out.