Dragons of the Sixth World

May 30, 2006

Published by Fantasy Productions
Written by Steven Kenson, Jon Szeto, et al.
208 pages; $24.99; black and white with color cover

Dragons of the Sixth World is the latest sourcebook released by FanPro for the Shadowrun RPG, and is the 8th new sourcebook that FanPro has released since they took over the product line from the late, lamented FASA. Dragons of the Sixth World follows up a very well done adventure supplement released at the end of 2002, Survival of the Fittest (reviewed elsewhere by Matthew Pook), which had a very similar theme. In Survival of the Fittest, the players interact with some of the most powerful movers and shakers of the 6th world, the great dragons, and decide the course of draconic society for the near future.

Dragons of the Sixth World builds on the events of Survival of the Fittest, and for the first time gives us an in-depth look at the goals and aspirations of the great dragons. The book is structured into four broad sections. In typical Shadowrun fashion, the book is written as a series of electronic documents on the underground Shadowland BBS. Each section is written by a different author, and offers a biased, perhaps not wholly truthful viewpoint on the information they’re getting across. The first section, “Dragon Download”, starts by describing some aspects of dragon biology, the lifecycle of dracoforms, some interesting tidbits about draconic culture, and then finally goes on to talk more in-depth about the new kids on the block, the drakes. The second section, “The Draco Foundation”, describes the august body of do-gooders and dealmakers created by the big D’s will, and gives us our first look at the organization with any depth. The third section consists of several files that describe each of the most powerful and active Great Dragons. Following the individual files on the greats is a quick file on some of the more active adult dragons, and some of the less active great dragons. The final section, “Game Information”, is a GM specific rules and plot threads chapter, giving the GM rules for player character Drakes as well as several different options for including great dragons and their machinations into your campaign.

“Dragon Download” has the closest examination to date of dragon biology and society we ‘ve seen, and will prove most interesting for SR players new and old. Dragon mating habits, their emphasis on ceremony, a discussion of the dragon “council” and some new information on Memory Crystals will get a curious player up to speed on everything touched on in past SR works, and clues us in to some new facets of draconic society never touched on before. The information on Drakes, on the other hand, is pretty much old hat. If you’ve read Threats 2 and/or the “Dragon Heart” novel series by Jak Koke, you won’t really find anything new here. There are a few more words from Ryan “Ryanthusar” Mercury about his newfound status, all in-game impressions, but no real new data.

The Draco Foundation section, however, is almost completely new material, and every bit of information raises as many questions as it answers. Offered up are small biographies of the members of the board, a quick history of the foundation, and information on major activities since the DF was founded. The section on the DF finishes up with some coverage of the “baby dracos” that have spawned off of the Draco Foundation, such as the Dunkelzahn Institute of Magical Research, and the Astral Space Preservation Society.

The meat of the book consists of articles (each by an individual author) about the great dragons, their habits, ideals, and interests. Each dragon’s article is roughly 12-15 pages in length and reveals new and interesting aspects about their personalities and plans.
Some details to whet your whistle:

  • Lofwyr: The old wyrm’s grip on Europe seems to be slipping.
  • Aden: What do you get when you let the hate of a dragon fester in the desert for almost 50 years?
  • Celedyr: Lofwyr is not the only dragon with his own company.
  • Lung: The details of a thousand year old game of chess played with mana lines will make corporate in-fighting look like a game of pokemon.
  • Hestaby: Momma dragon may not be as sweetness and light as she’d like us to think.
  • Rhonabwy & The Sea Dragon: The past is not forgotten for these two, and many of the rumors are finally put to rest.
  • “A Nest of Serpents” is the name of the final chapter on specific dragons, and it describes some of the lesser known dragons of the Sixth World, mostly adults and less active greats. While everyone knows who Lofwyr is, this section introduces you more fully to characters such as Mujaji, Perianwyr, and Nebelherr, and proves that you can have dragons in your campaign without them having to be all powerful.

    “Game Information”, like all Shadowrun books, wraps up the in-game content with gamemaster specific information, stats, and ideas for using the material in the book for runs. Included are stats for all the dragon varieties, new dracoform critter powers, new uses for old powers, and details about dragons in just about every combat situation you can think of. It also includes options to have PC Drakes, using the priority or build point systems. The most robust and interesting aspect of this section are the run ideas, which give GMs a host of ideas for including dragons in pre-existing campaigns, or in focusing new campaigns around draconic agendas. Everything from simple grab-n-go missions to epic campaigns are laid out for the GM to mix and match as he sees fit.

    Dragons of the Sixth World is, first and foremost, a Shadowrun sourcebook. While some gaming supplements, such as your average GURPS book, can find wide appeal among gamers, Shadowrun books tend to be very specific in their application within the game. “Dragons” is no different. Unless you play Shadowrun, or plan on incorporating dragons into a modern setting, Dragons of the Sixth World will do you very little good if you’re after directly applicable gaming material.If you do play Shadowrun, “Dragons” is a highly enjoyable read that uncovers a great deal of information about some of the most heavy hitting power players of the 6th world…but if you’re a player, that all it is, a good read. If you do not GM Shadowrun, there isn’t going to be a lot here for you to sink your teeth into besides some excellent in-game fiction. As a GM supplement, “Dragons” succeeds amazingly well. This book could literally spawn dozens of campaigns, and keep your runners in Shadowruns for several years. The insight that the GM is given into draconic society and the mindset of the greats could lead to some very exciting and satisfying gaming.So, while it may not be for everyone, Dragons of the Sixth World delivers in spades in its very specific role as a Shadowrun GM supplement. If you’re considering involving Shadowrun’s ultimate NPCs into your campaign, “Dragons” is well worth the investment.


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    1. It’s a very good book and recommendable.

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