So what is Shadowrun?

Shadowrun and I have a long history. I think the first edition of this roleplaying game came out in the early 90s, and when I first saw it, I really didn’t think much of the idea of blending magic and cyber. I preferred my orcs to stay in fantasy and my cyber to be pure. But eventually I warmed to it, and it’s probably been my favourite setting and roleplaying game of all times.

Shadowrun is set in 2070 (after four editions, initially it was set in 2040 or so). The Mayan calendar saw 2012 tick by and instead of the end of the world, it bought a resurgence of magic in the world. In an already cyberpunk world, suddenly those who held true to old traditions found that magic was real, and across the world, orks, trolls and elves were springing into being.

The resulting upheaval saw a massive shift in countries, with Native Americans forming their own nations, and the US being splintered into north and south again. What emerged from the dust was an entirely different and darker world, where mega-corporations held almost more power than governments. Dragons were the most powerful beings in the world, controlling vast domain.

If there is something that this setting has done well over the many, many years is managing a consistent plotline. Where most games left such details wide open, the world developed between editions. One of perhaps the coolest roleplaying events saw the rise of the dragon Dunkelzahn, who rose in popularity in the world, became President of the United Canadian and American States before being assassinated and vanishing mysteriously. The official line is still hazy on what happened to him.

Cyberpunk staples have seen the massive Renraku arcology shut down as a rogue AI system killed and experimented on the 30,000+ population trapped inside. Future editions saw him beat out, escape and eventually destroyed in an event that bought down the worlds computer systems.

Where it started as a sort of 80s style cyberpunk with elven mages and ork and troll streetpunks, with decking and computers reminiscent of Neuromancer, it has more recently evolved into a more slick, modern, wireless version of the world. It’s a move I think that has lost a little of the charm of the setting, but I’ve grown to forgive it that.

The game is set primarily in Seattle, an isolated megaplex surrounded by potentially hostile nations, but I’ve set my own latest game of it in the eastern equivalent of Hong Kong. The last few months of non writing have seen me plotting five or so sessions of roleplaying fun, mixing magic and tech in a plotline of ancient evil returning to the world. My group did themselves proud, taking down the main bad guy, but left them wondering if they really got rid of the true evil of the story.

Now, still not writing, I’m busy hacking my way through another five sessions of planning. Maybe I might put up the results of this stories sessions to show a little of the fun.

2 thoughts on “So what is Shadowrun?

  1. White Wolf have always been strong on the worldbuilding. I enjoyed shadowrun, but it wasn’t a favourite. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures 🙂

  2. Ah, but White Wolf did the Werewolf-Mage-Vampire-Changling-Wraith-etc world, Shadowrun was originally FASA/Wizkidz/Fanpro. My longest running game was a Werewolf game. They are pretty damn sweet at world building, but I never really investigated the new editions.

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