Shadowrun: Sprawl Wilds is a collection of adventures that are intriguing and provide a good starting point for prospective Shadowrun GM’s. They focus more on a complex mission rather than a simple one; they’ll take a fair deal of getting familiar with to run, and they involve fewer felonies than the average shadowrun, but not only do they show off SR5’s new things well and serve as a decent starting-off point for Shadowrun players. Unfortunately, they are not quite perfect, but they’re pretty good in general.
I’m not going to go down and break down each adventure separately, because there’s some spoilers that could be had and I don’t follow the SR:M adventures, meaning that my first experiences with all these characters have been right here. However, none of the plots are overly simple-some of them are more complex, and might frustrate players who want to go in and shoot things, but all offer a decent level of engagement. Unfortunately, some of the twists were pretty obvious pretty early-and this is a spoiler: the uncooperative person, for instance, is obviously a Shedim.
That said, the writing’s rather good, and there’s stats included for SR4A and SR5; you could even run each edition for different groups of players to get a feel for the different systems of each-I’m pretty sold on 5th Edition and my 4th Edition campaign’s in the middle of a story arc, so I can’t pull players out to do one of them now, but I’d expect some pretty good results. There’s nothing that feels overly dumb; again, some of the things can be guessed by someone who’s particularly genre savvy or in touch with the universe, I’m contemplating running Ashes with a group of rookies to see how they respond to the setting and rules and I think it’d work pretty well as an introduction.
Layout and text design all work great; nothing super fancy, nothing super poor; the graphics are in black-and-white but still good; if you don’t care about color you won’t have a complaint, except perhaps on one of the handout maps which has somewhat ambiguous shading (it’s still obvious what the objects in the map are, but it bothers me ever so slightly). On the subject of handouts, they’re all compiled at the end of the PDF; not exactly a horrible thing, but it’s a little annoying for reference purposes, especially since they’re not in the end of adventure wrap-up.
As for the value, I’m sort of torn; on one hand, it is four rather lengthy adventures with large fleshed out casts. However, at the same time, the art is in black and white, and the storylines are all rather linear; with the exception of Ashes which has a number of potential failure points that make things more interesting. There’s a lot of places where the storyline depends on the players going along happily with them-something that works better at certain places than others; these were missions written for a convention, and I suspect that they’d work better for a one-shot game or an introductory session than for a collection of adventures; they’re all satisfying by themselves, but the chance that I’d be able to work them all into a single campaign is rather slim; I’d really have to run multiple campaigns to run them all, and while they all do a very good job of showing off the setting of Shadowrun, they’d be sort of hard to work together. That’s the only thing really holding this back from five stars; as is I give it a 4-star rating, because at $3 an adventure it’s really not a great deal; but if you only run two or three, like I’m looking at doing, that price per adventure skyrockets.
If you’re interested, you can pick up Sprawl Wilds for $12 (at the time of writing) over on DriveThruRPG.
Disclaimer: I am a featured reviewer on DriveThruRPG.