Review: Catalyst Games Labs – The Clutch of Dragons (Shadowrun )

The Clutch of Dragons
The Clutch of Dragons is a supplement for fantasy cyberpunk system Shadowrun written by Jason M. Hardy, James Meiers, Devon Oratz, Steven “Bull” Ratkovich, Scott Schletz, Malik Toms, Michael Wich and published by Catalyst Game Labs.
By Cape Rust

Learn more about The Clutch of Dragons here
Purchase The Clutch of Dragons here
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“Never make a deal with a dragon.” If you have never heard words to this affect then you have never played Shadowrun. This saying is applicable to several game systems but when you are in a dystopian future where magic and technology collide and the world is run by mega corporations controlled by these great Wyrms, then “never make a deal with a dragon” becomes even more important. The Clutch of Dragons is primarily a meta-game sourcebook dealing with the most dangerous beings in the 6th world.


Normally I give page counts here, but in the case of this book discussing the page count difference between fluff and crunch is difficult. Some people would call that “fluff” meta-game information and I am mostly inclined to agree with them. This book includes information on the “Big 5” dragons including plots, profiles and lairs. As well as other information like the development of anti-dragon weapons.


My feelings about this book are completely bi-polar. On one hand I love the back story/meta-game information that Catalyst Game Labs includes in their sourcebooks, but when that meta-game information overwhelms crunch, rules and in-game crunch, my love turns sour, but it is still love.


Publication Quality: 9 out of 10
The cover art on this book looked great but a bit out of place. Shadowrun is a crazy mixed up world, but in trying to capture the enormous scope of a dragon’s size made this cover look more like the cover of a monthly periodical that supported a game involving dragons and subterranean confinement facilities. Other than the iconic Shadowrun text, the viewer is hard-pressed to determine that the small figures fighting the dragon are actually Shadowrunners, not fantasy adventurers. I actually would have loved to see a full-sized dragon in a business suit surrounded by tiny board members. The interior art and layout was at the standard high quality that we have come to expect from Catalyst Game Labs. I don’t think any of the art in this book will win awards, but it is solid and, like any other product, some of it is better than others.

Mechanics: 7 out of 10
The actual mechanics included in this book would normally be a 9 or a 10; it is the lack of mechanics in this book that hurt it. There are in fact so few of them I won’t even go into detail.

Value Add: 5/9 out of 10
If you are looking for rules and crunch this is a 5. For the cost there are simply not enough useful rules, stats or equipment to justify hard or PDF copy. Most books should be viewed for their overall value and as a sourcebook this is still a 5. If viewed as an anthology that happens to have some mechanics tacked on this is a solid 9. The stories and “articles” in this book are great for meta-game and roleplaying ideas. There are hundreds if not thousands of great story hooks nestled into those stories and articles. If you like your game information right up front and in black and white, then this product goes back to the 5 range. I have never denied that I fancy myself a roleplayer not a rollplayer so this book is in the 9 range for me. As a GM The Clutch of Dragons really gave me an idea of how to play a dragon. It opened my eyes to the possibilities of including a dragon in future Shadowrun games and I really enjoyed the writing, for me and my style it was a 9. The biggest fault for me, no matter which end of the spectrum you are on, was the price. Because of it’s bi-polar nature this could have been released as a small sourcebook full of mechanics and a novelized anthology.

Overall: 7/8 out of 10
Depending on which pole you are from will determine how good or bad this book is. If you are a crunchy chart monkey you will not get enough bang for your buck. If you are a meta-game roleplayer there is much to be desired in this book, except the price. I think I would have traded all of the great layout and pictures for even more stories and articles, that’s how good they were. If you are on the fence on this one, wait until the price comes down or it goes on sale. If you are craving more Shadowrun material to read, this one might be a good value for you. Think about what you do and do not want from a sourcebook before you purchase this book. And just like the 6th world, you never know what kind of deal you will get when you make a deal in The Clutch of Dragons.

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