Shadowrun: Cutting Aces is a sourcebook for Shadowrun and provides an odd mixed bag of information on the metaplot and setting which providing more options for social-based characters and challenges. As it covers some neglected aspects of the Shadowrun world, such as the Middle East and social skills, it is probably a good investment for a GM but the book is so unfocused unless cons or Constantinople are the focus of your campaign, I cannot say that it should be a priority to acquire.
Shadowrun: Cutting Aces, is a Deep Shadows Sourcebook for the 5th edition of Shadowrun, this particular book covers a variety of sins, confidence games and swindlers, Constantinople (formerly Istanbul) and a bit more about current events in the Sixth World.
The book begins with one of the ubiquitous fiction sections, then moves into what is going on with the big megacorporations and the world, including the special election for the Governor of the Seattle Metroplex, what is going on with Spinrad Industries in the Middle East, too much news from Faerie, and -perhaps most importantly- what sorts of cons (and thus scenarios) the situations exposed are ripe for.
Next we have Constantinople, in all its glory, which lacks that most useful of props, a map of the city, the two and a half pages spent on the pre-21st century history of the city would have been better used for maps. Oddly, the Constantinople at a Glance sidebar neglects to mention what languages are used in the city. The city is full of interesting places and adventure potential and the new information blocks for NPCs scattered throughout look useful. It is rather off the usual beaten path for Shadowrunners and while the adventure seeds are interesting, more ways to tie the city into an ongoing campaign would have been useful.
After another fiction section, there is Alibi Artists of Constantinople, twelve interesting NPCs done in traditional NPC stat blocks, not the one used in the previous section which contains some information that should be folded into any NPC that can be used into a contact. This section then has a selection of life modules for those who wish to play confidence artists (and use that alternate character generation method).
The Art of Confidence covers just that, running down the basics of short and long cons. It is mostly a list of traditional cons, sometime with more modern names, and some idea of how they run. At best an overview of the subject but sufficient for the purpose of most games.
Gat and Glad Rags is the toys section with new weapons, clothing (armored mostly), modification to armor, gear including many things that can be useful in a con (tailored perfume, social subscription software), a handful of smaller drones. Information for Sale lists the price to acquire various types of information that can be of use to con artists and shadowrunners both. A selection of new qualities, both positive and negative, almost all social oriented follows. Next a few new adept powers (three) and spells (four). Then it sets up the expanded social interaction section with new “social maneuvers” that really could have been better defined and structured. And this section then ends with a shift into a list of five character (personality) archetypes.
The next section, the Grifter’s Bible, is the rules section starting with Factional Reputation, that is how particular groups see you and what you can use such reputation for. A good idea but possibly too much of a bookkeeping chore as written. Expended rules for social skills detail, maybe excessively, the value of things when Negotiating prices for services (i.e. a run) or selling gear or information. Rules and structure for using the Con skill to actually run cons. Some advice on using Intimidation in the game. And the world thing ends with a page and a half example of the new social rules in action.
Cutting Aces is a interesting resource providing new tools for the GM, and possibly for the players, but it is scattered, covering a lot of ground in different directions. However, maps for the city and tables for the social maneuvering would have made this product more useful.
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