Advance Scout

Guided by his dimensional compass, the Scout roams the infinite universes, ever treading from world to world and plane to plane, seeking the latest tidings of new RPG-related releases...

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 killed trying.

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.


S is not only the first letter in Shadowrun, and of smuggler, it's also the first letter of Scout and of send. Hey, speaking of which, why not drop me some e-mail and let me know what you thought of this article. As always, your comments, suggestions, or complaints are welcome. You can also let me know if you want to see a particular game covered here, or just say hi.

a.k.a. Scott T. Watkins

RPG Scout