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E-MU EM8635 Emulator X3 64-Bit Streaming Sampling Synthesizer with Multi-Core Support
E-MU EM8635 Emulator X3 64-Bit Streaming Sampling Synthesizer with Multi-Core Support

5.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately no longer available, August 20, 2014
From its first Emulator sampler back in 1981 E-Mu Systems has been known as a pioneer in sampler technology. The move to software samplers is no different. The Emulator X series from its inception has been regarded as one of the best software samplers you can buy, and with the X3 you get the pinnacle of that series. Unfortunately Creative Labs, the current owner of E-MU, closed its doors on the Emulator X samplers and no longer produces them. While that means there will no longer be support for the product as of this review the X3 still stands as one of the best true samplers you can get.

The Emulator X3 is a TRUE sampler. You can plug a mic into your computer and record anything directly onto the X3 as a sample. From there you have the largest palate of editing parameters available from any sampler to manipulate your sample in any form imaginable. The X3 is based off of E-MU's EOS operating system, which means you have the same power from the hardware samplers. This also means you have capabilities that are mostly exclusive to the X3.

One of these exclusives are E-MU's signature Z-Plane filters. This gives you the ability to morph between several different filters or signal processing states real time. The X3 has over 50 Z-Plane filters at your disposal. Others have done Z-Plane filtering, but E-MU is the original and in many ways still the best. On top of the Z-Planes you also have a host of other parameters, including a waveform editor and over 100 tempo based parameters.

Another neat exclusive is automated sampling (Synthswipe). Say you have a synthesizer or drum machine you want to sample. With the X3 all you have to do is plug the audio channels and midi from the synth into your computer and tell the X3 to autosample. What the X3 does is send MIDI note data to the synth to play a set of notes that are sampled, then laid out on a pre-set keyboard range all pitched, spliced, mapped out and pretty much ready to go automatically. It takes a little work to get the autosampling feature to do just what you want it to, but in the end it can save you a ton of time if you do a lot of patch sampling.

You get a number of other tools at your disposal. Xtractor gives you the ability to isolate, eliminate, or process a single instrument on a full mix. So you can sample a song and take out the vocals or get that drum riff you always loved looped without the background mix getting in the way. You can even pitch shift the instrument you extract or apply filters. TwistaLoop will create tempo maps from any audio source for use with MIDI devices and sequencers. Region Xplode works as a beat slicer that also exports MIDI timing and will mapped the sliced loop automatically.

From what I remember X3 also came with Translator by Chicken Systems. This neat application allows you to import from nearly any sample format you can think of. Of course SoundFont, AIFF and .WAV files can be easily imported. However what if you have samples from other proprietary formats? For instance do you have old Akai SP-1200 sample CD's lying around? Import them. SF2? HALion? Ensoniq? Kontakt 2? GigaSampler? EIII? No problem. Your X3 can be your one stop shop for a ton of your other sample formats.

The X3 has integrated effects that sound very much like the hardware effects that came with the last Proteus and Emulator samplers and synths. In other words they work well for the sounds, but I wouldn't rely on them exclusively. It also supports 64 bit, multi-core CPUs for more powerful processing. The X3 also comes with a huge library of award winning sounds including the entire Proteus 2000 library (as Proteus X and has over 1000 patches), Beat Shop 24-bit Drums and Grooves, Xtreme Lead soundset, and a massive 1.4GB grand piano. You will find a patch for any musical taste from electronic/club music to classical and most everything in between.

As noted before the X3 is no longer being sold by Creative/E-MU and is considered a legacy/end of service life product. That means it will go no additional updates and no additional support from Creative. Your best bet at finding this awesome sampler is aftermarket and used resources. Be sure that you get all the included sound disks as well. The Emulator X is the most powerful TRUE sampler out there. Sound designers should get this while they still can.


OnStage RS7030 Rack Stand
OnStage RS7030 Rack Stand
Price: $29.95
22 used & new from $24.30

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, August 13, 2014
I am a somewhat old school musician in that I still have lots of hardware based synthesizers, mixers and such. At first I just had a couple rack mountable synths that I just stacked on each other on a desk. However as time went on I found other toys to buy and that stack started to get in the way and started to get all cluttered. I needed a rack mount system. The common systems for musicians tend to come in sturdy cases for touring and such. However since I am only using my gear in a home studio the added expense made getting one prohibitive. Then OnStage came along with this baby, and now I am worry free.

This rack stand is simple, sturdy, versatile and very affordable. I have three rack synths, mic preamp, multi-channel mizer and a rack power strip to mount up. This stand fits it all with room to spare. There are mount sections for 11 single unit rack mountable pieces of gear (or six 2U and a single 1U or three 3U and one 2U... well you can do the math). The stand comes with easy to tighten mount screws and can be placed anywhere the space allows it. The stand is NOT adjustable, but that only serves to keep everything nice and stable.

I put my stand below my keyboard rack, and with my set up there is enough room to put my keyboard pedals right under the rack units on the floor. If I need to make any patch changes on the back I simply grab on end and rotate it around. Simple. The only gripe I can have (and it's a tiny, tiny one) is the protective end caps tend to pop off every time I move the thing. They are easy to put on, so I suppose that makes then easy to come off too. Like I said no big thing, and it's about the only negative I have to say on this rack stand.

OnStage is known for making affordable equipment, and this time they hit the nail on the head with the perfect blend of form, function and value. You get a good deal of quality from this little rack.


COWON J3 32 GB Portable Media Player (Black)
COWON J3 32 GB Portable Media Player (Black)

5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite music player, August 12, 2014
I won't call myself an audiophile, but I will call myself an audio enthusiast. When I listen to music I want to be taken away to another place. I want to hear all the sonic textures that were recorded. So when I get a portable music player I want something that will give me that experience and not just some mp3 player that can give "near CD" quality. I admit I haven't tested every player out there, but I do know what I like. The Cowon J3 is simply the best I have heard. Hands down.

My previous media player was the Creative Zen Vision W (64 GB), and at the time it definitely blew away anything Apple brought to the table. While it was nice to have the large 7" screen for watching movies the real treat for me was hearing my music collection in wonderful clarity. So when it was time for me to replace the aging Zen I did some research (Creative has since lost my enthusiasm) and finally decided on the J3. Right out of the box I start it up and see how it compares, and right out of the box it sounded just like my beloved Zen. So that's a good then. Then I start messing with the Jet Effect settings. That's when my mind was blown.

I thought my old Zen sounded good. Just some slight adjustments and the music comes out with a whole new life I never heard before. All of a sudden small and subtle sounds come alive that before I never really noticed. The stereo landscape opens as wide as the new fidelity. It was like hearing the song for the first time, even though I have been enjoying it for years. Simply put the difference is night and day.

JetEffect 3.0 is what makes the difference. You get a set of parameters to really tweak your sound and get some noticeable improvements. Of course you have the standard EQ settings, however they are five band parametric so you can fine tune the frequencies you want to boost. Mach3Bass is as the name suggests: a bass frequency booster. BBE is a setting that enhances the high end (lower settings are more subtle while high settings more pronounced). Stereo Enhance is what you use to make the stereo separation more pronounced. 3D Surround is an added stereo effect to give a more three dimensional sound. MP Enhance is an on/off setting that restores harmonics lost from audio compression. And finally Reverb adds room ambiance to your songs.

The thing I noticed about the JetEffect settings is they can be a two edged sword. Stereo enhance and 3D surround can be a great way to make the music come alive all around you, but I have noticed some midrange frequencies can get lost in the shuffle. In other words while all those wonderful instruments are dancing around you the center channel vocals or some other instrument can get lost in the background. I recommend tweaking those settings based on several different song styles to ensure you are hearing the best results. Mach3Bass is like any other bass booster in that too much can make the mix muddy, but it's still a superior bass boost over many I have heard before. BBE is nice, but you may need to still tweak the high end with the EQ otherwise some songs can sound tinny. Simple adjustments like setting the enhancements at low levels will give you some noticeable differences. With enough playing around with the settings you can get your perfect sound.

With 32GB I was easily able to store thousands of songs at maximum mp3 bitrate. You can add additional storage via a micro SC card, but keep in mind what's stored on the card is considered a completely separate storage set than what's internal. So if you were planning on having a 64+GB music collection just know only one storage location can be set at a time. The screen is a beautiful full color OLED touch screen, and videos look awesome on it. There are other features like TV out, Bluetooth and so forth, but aside from the voice recorder I haven't really used anything else aside from music and a few videos.

The user interface is serviceable. Not exactly the same as what many of you are used to, but at the same time once you understand the logic behind navigating it's really easy to use. Just a few clicks and I have set my music up for the day. The user controlled interface can actually be replaced as they are based on Flash, and there are lot of UCIs out there that you can download onto your J3. I still use the stock interface as it works fine for me.

Like other players you can play songs based on artist, album, genre and other standard ID3 tag parameters. And of course you can play your entire collection and play any list of songs randomly. You also get to see images from your ID3 tags as well, which is a nice touch. The one big disappointment I have is the lack of a reliable way to import playlists. Some people have been able to do it, but I am not one of them. Adding/removing songs is a breeze using MediaMonkey. I'm sure there are plenty of other media players out there that will do the same for you.

The player itself is slick, thin and feels really comfortable in my hand. Thanks to the solid state drive the J3 feels sturdy in spite of it's weight. I have had this device for about two years now and I have zero scratches on the glass (and I use no screen protectors or cases). Gotta love that. It did suffer a nasty fall once that only chipped the paint off one corner... barely noticeable and the J3 played like nothing happened.

The button layout is intuitive, with all of your major control buttons on the right side and the power button and screen lock on the left. On the upper right are buttons for track up/down and pause. Lower right has volume up/down and mute. Upper left is the power button (hold it down 2-3 seconds to turn on/off) and the lower left is the screen lock button (so you don't accidentally make changes on the touch screen). The USB/Power connection as well as the video out and headphone output are on the bottom. The USB 2 cable is a 20pin connector that is used quite a bit in Korea, so it shouldn't be hard to find replacement cables. Having the headphone output on the bottom makes sense if you have the player in your pocket, but when I have it laying the car it tends to want to bend the cable.

So I know I have some gripes about this player... namely the playist debacle and the JetEffect limitations. However I still give this product five stars because four stars according to Amazon says I like it, and five stars says I love it. In spite of the problems I still really love this media player. If great sound is what you are after this is the player for you.


Purple Peacock Feather Full Half-Eye Mard Gras Masquerade Mask
Purple Peacock Feather Full Half-Eye Mard Gras Masquerade Mask

4.0 out of 5 stars Great value on a really beautifyl mask, August 12, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I got this for my daughter, who loves these kinds of Mardi Gras style masks. The finish and details are exactly as pictured, and was delivered with the feather fully intact and ready to display. As far as practical masks are concerned I never trusted these ribbon style ties. This mask was bought primarily as something to hang on her wall. Unless you have experience using these types of ribbon ties I would recommend getting some sort of elastic ties if you plan on wearing this out.


On Stage KS7903 3-Tier A-Frame Keyboard Stand
On Stage KS7903 3-Tier A-Frame Keyboard Stand
Price: $129.95
6 used & new from $129.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for light duty, August 12, 2014
This is a perfectly serviceable keyboard stand for home and studio use. It had a reasonable level of adjustments including height for the keyboard rows (up to height of the A beam) as well as the width and angle of the keyboard mounts. Each point of adjustment has locking mounts to help with stability. All in all not bad for the price. And this is where the differences lie.

You cannot expect a three tiered keyboard stand at this price to be top quality, and it isn't. The metal bars are lightweight and they seem to be able to handle a good deal of weight (I have put keyboards weighing around 50lbs on it with no real trouble). However those locking mounts are made of a relatively brittle plastic that will crack if tightened too tight or if there is too much manhandling. I have had to replace three of them just from my initial installation of the rig. Because the mounts are not high quality plastic some other things need to go into consideration, especially if you do have heavier keyboards. If you play hard you run the very real risk of the keyboard mounts getting loose, or at least the angle of the mount move.

Due to the fragility of the keyboard stand if you are looking for a keyboard stand for road or touring I would steer clear of this one and go for a more expensive brand. This 3 tier A frame stand can work well for a studio on a budget, but if you don't use kid gloves with this stand it will break on you.


Alesis Midiverb 2 16 Bit Digital Effects Processor
Alesis Midiverb 2 16 Bit Digital Effects Processor

5.0 out of 5 stars The effects processor that launched a company, August 8, 2014
As any home studio would say back in the day a song can live and die by the effects processing you put in it. Back in the late 80's a personal studio usually means a cassette 4-track, usually a mic, and a small mixer to try and get the best sound you can from the source instruments, but the big problem really came from how to make the instruments sound grand and professional when you are recording them either dry (straight from instrument to recorder) or in a room with horrible ambiance. Then Alesis came along with the first Midiverb, which was nice. However things didn't really change until the Midiverb 2 was released which blew the doors wide open for pro-level effects for everybody.

The Midiverb 2 was the first affordable full 16Bit effects processor, and back then this was big... really big. Generally affordable effects were analog ones that didn't sound so great. Now just about anybody can get a nice, bright and rich sounding mix that only a digital processor can give. The Midiverb 2 was all about reverb. You have a total of 100 different presets to choose from. Small rooms, large rooms, concert halls, gated reverbs, reverse gates, spring and plate reverbs, and more. Many reverb presets have different time thresholds so you can find just the right amount of echo. Basically just about all the options you can want already set for you.

The effects are super clean with no additional noise or distortion added to the mix. I compared my Midiverb 2 to a friends Digitech multi-effects processor back in the day and there was no contest on which effects unit was the cleanest. My friend's Digitec did multiple effects while mine only did reverb, but you can't argue with the crystal clear sound. The downside for this unit, and many other effects units back then, is you cannot program your own effects. What you get in the box is what you get.

The controls are very simple. You have numbered buttons to dial in the reverb you want based on banks and programs (displayed on a two character LED display). The switch from one preset to another is immediate... at times to the point you get some reverb "feedback" from the changeover. Three nobs control the input level, output level and effects mix level. Other buttons give you the ability to control the reverb preset selection using a MIDI device (thus the name Midiverb).

When it was released the Midiverb 2 took the music industry by storm. Everybody was getting them, and it launched Alesis into a major player for affordable music products that sounded professional. From here Alesis would move on to drum machines, mixing consoles, and other audio devices until they created the ADAT recording system (which was an industry standard for many years prior to digital audio workstation programs on PC becoming the norm).

The Midiverb 2 is still an awesome sounding effects unit for anybody out there who can still use a rack mounted processor. Those of you who do live gigs may really enjoy a classic unit that's easy to use. Now I will admit these days Alesis makes even more robust, easy to use effects units that do much more than the Midiverb 2 can. However if you find one at a really good price you be saving some money while still getting a really nice sounding reverb unit.


Alesis airFX Sound and Effects Controller
Alesis airFX Sound and Effects Controller

4.0 out of 5 stars Special effects that are easy and fun to add to any sound source, August 8, 2014
This is a very cool little effects processing tool mainly geared for DJ's, but many home studio users could benefit from this handy piece of hardware as well. What you get in a compact package are 50 different effects all selected by a single rotary nob. The effects range along the lines of the more crazy stuff rather than your standard reverbs and delays. Time stretching, vinyl noises, flangers, low pass filters, pitch shifting, strobe gate, and a score of others to turn whatever signal you are putting through it into a freaked out special effect. While that in of itself is not a big deal the real claim to fame for this baby is how you can control the effects.

Alesis calls it Axyz technology. What that means is you have an infrared sensor that detect the movement and position of anything touching it's field along a 3D plane. In other words you move your hand over the sensor and the effects change depending on your hand's position. This is the fun begins. Plug in your sound source (be it an instrument, turntable or whatever you want to plug into the stereo RCA inputs), turn the nob to find an effect you want to play with, then move your hand around to control all sorts of parameters for the effect. Since it's a three dimensional sensor moving your hand up and down handle one part of the effect like how much saturation will be on the signal while moving your hand left and right handles another parameter like filter cutoff and such. This is what makes the airFX a great DJ tool. Can you imagine in the middle of your set kicking this baby on and having the mix change as you move your hand in the air?

These effects are created by a 24-bit, 44.1kHz effects processor with a signal-to-noise ratio of better than 102dB. When you add the 20-20k Hz frequency response those add up to being actually really good stats. Pro level stats to be honest. What that means is the special effects you add to your mix will not add any noise to it as well, and the effects will have razor sharp clarity.

There are some downsides to this great sounding box. First off it is not programmable in any way. The effects you get are the effects you get. While this can be a small price to pay for some, others will want more. Home studio buffs should know that while the effects are really, really cool they can be duplicated with a decent signal effects program for your computer. What the airFX gives you is simplicity. Another downside for semi-pro and pro studio are the stereo RCA inputs and outputs. These aren't balanced lines that many sound engineers crave. For DJ's they are perfect plugs for the kind of gear they handle. Another minor issue is the power supply is not internal, so you will have to deal with a wall wart (albeit not a big one). While this makes the airFX light and easier to handle it has the potential to cause issues with your power strip.

The Alesis airFX is a super cool and easy to use way to add some exciting spice to your mix. While it is designed for DJ's there are many others out there who can really enjoy this as well for their own parties, personal mixes, or even small studios who want a varied array of cool effects that are extremely user friendly. Lots of reasons to buy this baby, but only if you are okay with its limitations.


Star Trek: Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise
Star Trek: Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise
by Shane Johnson
Edition: Paperback
34 used & new from $3.17

5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest technical source for the movie version of the U.S.S. Enterprise, August 1, 2014
If you loved the new look of the Enterprise from Star Trek: The Motion Picture to Star Trek III: In Search for Spock, and wanted to know more then you are in for a real treat. Mr. Scott's guide gives you an extensive look into the refitting of the Enterprise of the original series into the sleek and updated version in the films. This is considered by many to be the first real science fiction technical guidebook that actually answers all those questions fans have about the subject explored in a book.

The premise is the Enterprise has been chosen to have a complete upgrade, and First Engineer Scott from the original Star Trek series was the primary designer for the refit. The book is written as a primer for crew to get familiar with the changes and improvements made to the ship. The first part of the book is a brief few pages giving an overview of the upgrades. However in those few pages you get a whole world of information and insight. These three pages alone give you so much information that puts just about all previous books to shame. And that's just the beginning.

The rest of the book is filled with illustrations, conceptual sketches, deck plans, and notes covering every aspect of the Enterprise. If you saw it on the movie you will find a comprehensive entry on this book. If you didn't see it in the movie, but wondered about it I'm betting you will find it here as well. Why the corridors are different. The ins and outs of the notable locations like the recreation hall and storage facilities. Explanations on the different phaser models from movie to movie. It even explains the uniform changes from the original series to the movies (including a nice nod to the fan outrage over the "pajamas" of the Original Motion Picture). That is just the tip of the iceberg in regards to all the info you get in here. There is even an Appendix that goes beyond the technologies on the Enterprise (more on that later).

Author Shane Johnson has made a name for himself in tech manuals in the 80's and 90's, and this book is his crowning achievement. Lots of research has went into it, and the results show. So the big question on most fan's minds are is this information canon? Is it official and considered true to the movie? The short answer is yes. Absolutely... but with a caveat. I would say about 98%-99% of the information on this book is official after considering the changes the franchise has done over the years. There is very little to throw this book away for.

I think some clarification needs to be made regarding the authenticity of the information on the book. The information Shane Johnson gleaned for this publication came straight from the people directly working with the movies. Michael Okuda, Andrew Probert and Ralph Winter were all major contributors and consultants on this book. Several more people worked closely on the film from merchandising, illustration to publications also helped out. Any inconsistencies with current Star Trek canon do fall into the category of the Star Trek franchise itself making those changes. One is the comments in the Appendix stating the refitted design of the Enterprise is now an Enterprise Class vessel. The Enterprise Class designation came from ST designer Probert, and is indeed referenced in Star Trek II on the training simulator. It wasn't until Star Trek VI (released four years after the book was published) that the matter was clarified. Probert himself puts blame squarely on himself for the confusion.

Other discrepancies involve the stardates in relation to the actual Earth year, which again weren't officially clarified until Star Trek: The Next Generation. In contrary to Wikipedia's claims that information came from the FASA role playing game I have yet to find any FASA writer being acknowledged from the many contributors on this book, and suspect the issue on Earth year/stardate comparisons runs deeper into waters similar to the Enterprise class confusion. Transwarp technology is another detail that seems to get everybody all up in stitches. The information on this book doesn't seem to stray from other official designations, at least enough to convince me it's not canon. It seems Transwarp is a term that describes various methods on how get faster warp speeds, and not a specific technology in of itself.

The only other non-confirmed detail is the mention of an Enterprise Class ship (which would now be a Constitution Class revamp) called the U.S.S. Ti-Ho used for initial testing of the first transwarp drive. This name was given by Johnson himself in remembrance of a friend of his. No idea if that bit of detail was officially endorsed or not.

Mr Scott's Guide to the Enterprise is an awesome book to have for any Star Trek fan. ALL other tech books that came after it owe some nod to this publication for the breaking the doors wide open on a truly comprehensive reference for science fiction fans.


Lost in Space Blueprint
Lost in Space Blueprint
by Pat Cadigan
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from $2.95

3.0 out of 5 stars As a blueprint it delivers... mostly, July 31, 2014
You get two fold out mini-poster sized blueprints that are attached to the booklet so that when you open it up you just unfold them and get the complete blueprint. As a blueprint is delivers. You have a full side view of the Jupiter along with various points of interest labeled out and most of the front view the same way. Around these two big drawings is the Jupiter in hyperdrive mode being shown from just about all sides. You also get a small listing of stats like ship dimensions and engine types.

The blueprints are done in true CAD style so they look just like real blueprints. Only I wonder if they traded what could be a clean and clear blueprint for that authentic "CAD" look. From all the sci-fi blueprints I have seen this one is the grainiest and hardest to read. First thing I noticed on this blueprint is the writing on it is really small. Considering how much open space there is on the blueprint I don't see why they didn't go for larger writing. No way you can read the details unless you are up close. You put those two factors together and it really takes away the potential on this item.

Another things I personally don't like, and I can't really blame them on it, is the lack of technical specifications. Many science fiction blue prints do this. They only have the scale drawings with some little details peppered in. However the blueprints that I cherish are the ones that go that extra mile and provide you with more details on the design and science behind it. It's not necessarily a bad mark on this production, but considering how little is out there for the Lost in Space movie it would have been appreciated.

This blueprint is really only for fans of the movie. Since this is pretty much the only publication with any technical details on the ship itself then it's absolutely what you want to get. However if you are expecting a clean drawing with clearly written text and insightful details behind what makes the ship go then you are likely to be disappointed.


Sprawl Sites (Shadowrun)
Sprawl Sites (Shadowrun)
by Boy F. Petersen Jr.
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Very nice supplement to the core Shadowrun campaign, July 31, 2014
What you have here is very nice resource for Shadowrun game masters who want more materials for expanding their Shadowrun world. You get new player archetypes, contacts, location maps, and a large score of mini-adventure ideas to help keep your runners busy between big jobs. Compared to the newer Sprawl Sites booklets the original towers above them in both content and usability.

The book is divided into three different sections: Location Archetypes, Sprawl Encounters, and Archetypes & Contacts. You also get an introductory article that paints a nice picture of sprawl life (and gives you a sort of guideline on the atmosphere). Each section has enough information to get you going in the right direction. Locations have graphed maps with areas of interest and general stats for NPCs and Matrix/computer terminals. Sprawl Encounters give you something similar to an adventure with an introduction to set the mood, some quotes to use in the encounter, notes on what's really going on, and NPC setup. Archetypes and Contacts are laid out just like in the Shadowrun rulebook. Here is a breakdown on what you get:

Location Archetypes - Each of the 31 locations gives you a brief, but concise description of the archetype. Some locations have multiple stats like the stores, where you get one map and descriptions for a simsense shop, shadowtech shop, talisman store and weapons shop. All in all a really nice listing that helps broaden out many locations you may not have maps or descriptions for. Here are the different maps you get:

Small, Medium and Large Bank
Bar
Med Clinic/Body Shop
Bus Station
Hospital
Casino (three floors)
Small Corporate, Junior Execute and Senior Executive offices
Dock
Fire Station
Coffin Hotel, Average Hotel Room and Luxury Hotel Room and Lobby
Monorail Station
Night Club
Police Station
Policlub Meeting Hall
Small, Medium and Large Private Residence (single bedroom)
Fast Food, Mid-Sized and Large Restaurants
Shopping Mall
Small, Medium and Large Store

Sprawl Encounters - This is the bulk of the book. With over 130 scenarios to choose from a game master is sure to find several to their liking. The includes a wide array of subjects for these mini-adventures. You have Street Gang, Go-Gang, Night Spots, Mafia, Yakuza, Rich Folks, Celebrity, News/Sports/Entertainment Media, Corporate people and security, Police, Magical, Dwarf, Elf, Troll, Ork, Policlub, and Technology-related encounters. Each one with enough details to make a well rounded little adventure.

Archetypes and Contacts - Just more of what you got from the Shadorwun Sourcebook, and more is better. Eight more player archetypes and 34 contacts. Most archetypes are just small variations like Dwarf Mercenary while others are a whole new departure like the Bodyguard and Combat Mage. The contacts are mostly useful, but some are less of a useful contact and more of a means to fill in some NPC gaps (the pedestrian comes to mind). Here is the listing:

Archetypes: Bodyguard, Combat Mage, Dwarf Mercenary, Elf Mage, Former Mage Detective, Former Military Officer (Low-Grade), Former Tribal Warrior, Former Troll Bounty Hunter.

Contacts: Armorer, Club Habitue, Club Owner, Corporate Decker, Corporate Official, Corporate Rigger, Corporate Scientist, Wage Slave, Der Nachtmachen Policlub Member, Dock Worker, Elf Poser Gang Member, Fan (as in your character has a fan), Firefighter, Government Agent, Metroplex Guardsman, Ork Rights Committee Member, Ork Shaman, Paramedic, Pedestrian, Plain Clothes Cop, Reporter, Sasquatch Entertainer, Simsense Star, Snitch, Shop Owner, Street Kid, Taxi Driver, Technician, Terrorist, Wiz Kid Mage,

Finally you get a few pages related to sprawl law including an array of potential offenses your shadowrunners may face while on the job. After that are a few pages expanding on credsticks/IDs. This book is really a mighty fine resource for game masters. The locations can flesh out encounters not readily mapped out. The encounters section gives tons of ideas for short quests. The archetypes and contacts are a wide array of either useful contacts, opponents or just NPCs to fill the gaps on any adventure. I consider this a required resource no matter what version of Shadowrun you use.


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