Review: Catalyst Game Labs – 30 Nights (Shadowrun)

30 Nights
30 Nights is a fantasy cyberpunk campaign for Shadowrun, written by Scott Bieniek, Brooke Chang, Jason M. Hardy, Jason Hawks, Jeff Halket, Trevor Laughlin, Bryan C.P. Steele, and Malik Toms and published by Catalyst Game Labs.
By Aaron T. Huss

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30 Nights is a campaign placed within the UCAS territory Toronto split across thirty nights after a serious event (purposefully vague to prevent spoilers). The book itself is more than just a campaign as it also features a full write-up on Toronto as it stands within the context of the Shadowrun setting. This includes a large map and a number of locations that may become part of the campaign.

***Here’s where the spoilers begin***

30 Nights depicts an escalating series of events that begin as the power drops within Toronto, and only get worse with each passing night. The campaign is literally broken down across thirty nights, kind of like a doomsday clock that ticks away the hours until the end game. Although the end game here isn’t doomsday, it’s just being used as a metaphor and the runners are meant to unravel a host of mysteries across the entire campaign.

30 Nights is written in a linear, flexible fashion. The background story is linear in that it continues on from night to night regardless of what the runners do. It’s flexible though in that each day is presented as a series of possibilities and the players choose which path to take. In fact, at some point they could even flee Toronto and everything happens without them. While this may seem as undesired, the book is actually written to embrace any desirable sequence of events. It even allows for the runners to hop in and out of the scene while that linear background story continues to chug along.

Each night is given its own chapter with a hook, listing of locations, listing of jobs, and listing of people to run into that day. Every day is written in the same basic framework, allowing the game to flow naturally from one scene to another depending on what the runners do or what the players desire from the campaign. The only thing that may affect those decisions is that the foreground story is that of escalating threats with each passing day. So if the runners do pop in and out, they will find things get progressively worse each time they come back.

It’s a very Shadowrun campaign and really fits the dark themes that run rampant in the setting. Possibly the best part, though, is that you can scale the experience depending on the mechanical familiarity of the gaming group. If it gets too hard, the team can simply walk away.

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