Review: Catalyst Game Labs – Rigger 5.0 (Shadowrun)

Rigger 5.0
Rigger 5.0 is a fantasy cyberpunk supplement for Shadowrun, written by Mark Dynna, Jeff Halket, Jason M. Hardy, Adam Large, Aaron Pavao, Scott Schletz, R.J. Thomas, Malik Toms, and Thomas Willoughby and published by Catalyst Game Labs.
By Cape Rust

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Welcome back to the sprawl chummer; I’m your ride or die; I’m a rigger! Rigger 5.0 is an almost all source supplement for your fifth edition Shadowrun rigger. It includes dozens of new vehicles that travel on land, sea, and air as well plenty of those pesky unmanned doohickeys we call drones. This book also includes more detailed rules for vehicle chases, vehicle combat, and every monkey-wrenches, dream vehicle customization.

If you are not familiar with Shadowrun then you probably don’t very many six sided dice. On top of your lack of D6s, you are most likely wondering, what the heck is a rigger? The easy answer is a driver. However, a rigger is so much more than a driver. A rigger doesn’t just drive a vehicle, they use technology to “jack” into and in essence become part of that vehicle. While jacked in riggers “feel” everything that effects the vehicle. Flat tire, the riggers feet or legs will hurt. Low on fuel, the rigger feels hungry. Riggers learn how to drive and modify most land, sea, and air vehicles, but they play with drones as well. With the proper application of a variety of vehicles, a rigger can fill-in most roles in a typical Shadowrunning crew.

Catalyst Game Labs has really taken the Shadowrun franchise and run with it. I’ve been happy with many of the products they have released for the past few editions. Like most products ,there is room for improvement. I think with a few tweaks of their successful formula, Catalyst can make some runners very happy.

Most of the recent support products that Catalyst has released start with a story. That story acts as a primer for the product and on occasion acts as a thread throughout the product. Most of these stories are well written and compelling. I’ve come across several that I would like to see turned into full length novels. These stories transition into the crunch of the product and by the time you get there you can’t help but be excited about what is going to come next. The combination of prose and killer graphics make these products a real treat.

Rigger 5.0 breaks into 10 major sections including such sexy names as hot rubber and cold steel, on the bleeding edge, and the order of chaos demolition derby. This product basically breaks things down into sea, air, land, and drones with sprinklings of game mechanics up until the end of the book where things get really crunchy and it goes to rules and charts. Nothing unusual about this book set-up, but the interspersed stories, with mock chat room chatter and great graphics, make this product feel like comfort food.

As good as this product is, there are some things Catalyst could have done better. First, there should have been pictures of every vehicle described in the book, even if that meant the book had to be broken down into two or more parts. The descriptions were good, but a picture is worth how many words? Speaking on pictures, as nice as the full color graphics kept up the cohesive feeling of this product, I would have loved to see blueprint style graphics with each vehicle. To get even more needy, each of those blueprints should have included notations, hard points, and in-game stats. Graphics make things more expensive, but when it comes to vehicles, weapons, and gadgets, picture give you one hell of a return on investment. Now this is a real stretch, but because some of the vehicles in this product use current company names, I’d love to see Catalyst reach out to some of those manufactures, send them a description of the vehicle concept, and try to get their designers to weigh in or even submit drawings. Sure that would be a pain, but damn it would be cool!

The crunchy parts of this product are worth the price of admission alone, but the exposition and graphics are the real icing on this very tasty cake. Products like this make me want to bust out a metric ton of D6s and get my rigger on! Even if you are refereeing a game and none of your players want to run a rigger, this has plenty of options for you to hire out to the players or better yet, ruin their run. I could drone on, but you get the idea.

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