I really want to love this game. I love the genre, I love the setting. I'm excited for the full version of the game.
As a starter set this product has many good qualities, but it is also lacking in many areas. I ran my first session last night, and we had a blast, but I had to do a lot of house ruling to make up for the lack of detail in the rules of the Jumpstart Kit.
Where to start...
Firstly the writing. It is written in a very conversational tone, which makes for enjoyable casual reading, but the downside is that it is not as useful as a rules reference. Sometimes important rules are kind of tucked away in the conversational sentences.
The rules themselves are a bit all over the place and don't always make sense for the world. For example, a "slice and dice", which is described as a highly dangerous monofiliment whip, but it only does 2d6 damage. Most edgerunners are walking around with at least 11 points of armour (damage reduction), so it wouldn't even hurt a typical character. Furthermore, although they are described as being easily able to slice through any organic material, there's nothing mechanically that gives them any kind of special armour penetration to match the fluff. Firearm damage is also highly variable, and there are no pages with costs or ammo counts or anything like that in the book. There is a range chart, and damage values for different types of guns but that's it. There are rules for burst fire, but no rules for full automatic fire. For some reason a character can attack in melee twice as an action but can only shoot once. I'm not sure why attacking with a melee weapon is so much easier than shooting someone with a firearm?
Armour is quite powerful, and for some reason it is assumed that armour covers your entire body, including your head even if you are just wearing an armoured jacket. A light armoured jacket has a 11 stopping power, and a heavy pistol does 3d6 damage, so a character with a light armour jacket will only rarely be injured by a heavy pistol. A heavy armour jacket has 15 stopping power, so even an assualt rifle, which does 5d6 damage won't hurt that much. One thing I do like is that if the armour does take damage it degrades by a point, so over time it gets weaker and eventually the character will take damage and armour will need to be repaired or replaced.
I should also mention that there are no prices to be found for ANY gear in this book. The cyberware selection is highly limited.
There are also no character creation rules or character advancement rules, so you pretty much are limited to using the pregens, which aren't really even complete because only the special ability of the Netrunner is detailed.
When I ran my game last night, I found myself winging it to make up prices for equipment. I created some house rules for armour pentration, so that some weapons that would otherwise be useless could actually be cool. I also house ruled that armour would only protect the locations it would actually cover (a crazy idea), and I added in a hit location table. All in all, I think these house rules made the game a lot more playable and we had a lot of fun, but that was more a testament to my 30+ years of experience as a GM and having good players than to the rules.
In conclusion, I think this game has a lot of potential, and I hope that the final game delivers on that potential, but I don't think the Jumpstart Kit is really that well done. It is a tease, and and as a GM I found it frustrating to work with because there is so much missing.
[2 of 5 Stars!]