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message 1: by Applejaxc (new)

Applejaxc | 1003 comments (Note: This is not original. This is inspired by 4th gen Shadowrun the Pen and Paper RPG)

Shadowrun takes place in 2077. The end of the Mesoamerican Long Count ushered in the "Sixth World", with once-mythological beings (e.g. dragons) appearing and old forms of magic suddenly re-emerging. Large numbers of humans have "Goblinized" into orks and trolls, while many human children are born as elves, dwarves, and even more exotic creatures. In North America, indigenous American tribes discovered their traditional ceremonies allow them to command powerful spirits, and rituals associated with a new Ghost Dance movement let them take control of much of the western U.S. and Canada, where they formed a federation of Native American Nations. Seattle, Washington remains under U.S. control by treaty as a city-state enclave (and is the primary setting).

In parallel with these magical developments, the setting's 21st century features technological and social developments associated with cyberpunk science fiction. Megacorporations control the lives of their employees and command their own armies; the ten largest have extraterritoriality, such as currently enjoyed by foreign heads of state. Technological advances make cyberware (mechanical replacement body parts) and bioware (augmented vat-grown body parts implanted in place of natural organs) common. The Computer Crash of 2029 led to the creation of the Matrix, a worldwide computer network that users interact with via direct neural interface. When conflicts arise, corporations, governments, organized crime syndicates, and even wealthy individuals subcontract their dirty work to specialists, who then perform "shadowruns" or missions undertaken by deniable assets without identities or those that wish to remain unknown. The most skilled of these specialists, called shadowrunners, have earned a reputation for getting the job done. They have developed a knack for staying alive, and prospering, in the world of Shadowrun.

The Shadowrun world is cross-genre, incorporating elements of both cyberpunk and urban fantasy. Unlike in a purely cyberpunk game, in the Shadowrun world, magic exists and has "worked" since December, 2011, following an unexpected return of Halley's' Comet. Among other things, this split humankind into subtypes, also known as metatypes/metahumans. Some of these metatypes take the form of common fantasy races. Likewise, some animals have turned into familiar monsters of past fantasy and lore and both monsters and human magicians have regained magical powers. By the second half of the 21st century, in the time the game is set, these events are accepted as commonplace. Man, machine, and magic exist in a world where the amazing is among the most common and technology has entered into every facet of human (and metahuman) life.
While magic is accepted as common-place, magicians are not; adepts (those who use magic for physical augmentation) and other magic-users form a very small percentage of the population. Elves and orcs are the most common metahumans (with humans being dominant overall, and dwarves and trolls the least common). Cyberware and bioware don't attract much attention, normally, but they are expensive, and wage-slaves working for major corporations usually receive theirs through workman's comp (which puts them in near-permanent debt most often).

Characters in Shadowrun can be humans, orks, trolls, elves, dwarves, as well as certain diverging subspecies (known as metavariants) such as gnomes, giants, minotaurs, etc. In the early days, when magic returned to the world, humans began to either change into, or give birth to elf and dwarf infants, a phenomenon called Unexplained Genetic Expression (UGE). Later, some juvenile and adult humans "goblinized" into other races (mostly orks, but also some trolls). The term "metahuman" is used either to refer to humanity as a whole, including all races, or to refer specifically to non-human races, depending on context. With the return of Halley's Comet new human variants called "changelings" arose. Two of the metahuman races have fictional languages.

Additionally, a virus known as the Human Meta-Human Vampiric Virus (HMHVV), with many variant strains, has been known to cause further change, far beyond that of traditional vampirism, frequently resulting in fierce abominations that are no longer human and sometimes no longer even sentient: bandersnatches, banshees, dzoo-noo-quas, goblins, ghouls, nosferatus, vampires, wendigos, wild fomorians, and others. Most of these species do not consider human/metahuman types as more than victims, and are generally treated as dangerous subjects by society. They are not normally available as player characters. Dragons are also present in the awakened world, though not as player characters. Dragons are very powerful physically, magically, and in some situations, financially; some dragons found the riches they hoarded and hid during the last Awakening. Their great intelligence allowed them to gain a great deal of influence and power quickly and a few have risen to high political and economical posts, running entire corporations or even as head of state.

The game is set years in the future, following a great change that has returned magic to the world. The emergence of magic, the outbreak of the VITAS plagues, the Computer Crash of 2029, the Euro-Wars, and the fevers for independence of Amerindian tribes, Chinese provinces, and everything else that came with the many struggles that ravaged Europe and Asia left the world's governments tumbling and falling. The United States was broken into substates. Monetary value was lost. The world had to rebuild, and rebuild they did, this time in the image of the megacorporations that seized power. Taking advantage of the laws that had been passed years ago, and using their newfound freedom, the megacorps began impressing their power on the failing governments. Before long the world was transformed. Boundaries were redrawn, and the political landscape was changed forever.

A basic premise of the setting is that as the world endured the string of state-changing events and conflicts, the political landscape fragmented and reformed. In North America, for example, some nations broke apart and reformed, as was the case with the Confederation of American States and the United Canadian and American States, while others became havens for specific racial or ethnic groups, like Native American Nations (the Native Americans having used their newfound magical abilities to regain massive tracts of land) or the Elvish principality of Tír Tairngire, which encompasses all of the state of Oregon. Some, like the California Free State, simply declared independence, while yet others became de facto corporate subsidiaries like Aztlan (the former Mexico), the headquarters of the Aztechnology megacorp. Despite the new role of megacorporations, many nations still hold considerable sway through economic, social and military means. For most people, “getting by” means taking advantage of whatever the corps or the government might bring their way.
Megacorporations are categorized as AAA or AA, depending on their power and influence. Some of them are arms manufacturers, cyberware enthusiasts, or security contractors-officially. Unofficially, every corp worth its name dips its fingers into every pie it feels a rich enough slice can be taken from. Most of these slices are from the illegal parts of the aforementioned pies; others are unrepentantly evil slices from hell-pies. Every corp has a different reputation among Shadowrunners, and have greatly different public and Runner appearances. For example, Aztlan has made mesoamerica an actor of the world stage when it was previously a mere spectator (and between 2011 and the Euro wars, it didn't even have a ticket). Its citizens praise it as lifeblood. To Runners, it is a vile, violent, untrustworthy horror show with zero patience staffed by Bloodshamans, evil magic-users who draw power from suffering and death who would rather sacrifice a Runner than pay one.

After the second Matrix crash in 2064, Matrix technology was moved away from the wired network and led into a wireless technology. The most noticeable difference between the Matrix in the 2070s and now is that wireless technology has become completely ubiquitous. Communications and Matrix access is provided through wi-fi nodes placed throughout the infrastructure of just about every city on Earth, fulfilling a service similar to contemporary cell towers—but as these nodes are as numerous as telephone poles, only a tiny percentage of their range is necessary. The nodes of all electronic devices a person carries are connected in a similar manner, creating a Personal Area Network (PAN). People access their PAN with their Commlink, a combination personal computer/cell phone/PDA/wireless device available either as an implant or a head-mounted display. This access can be the total sensory immersion common to cyberpunk fiction, or a sensory enhancement by which the virtual features of one's physical surroundings can be perceived and manipulated. The Matrix of the 2070s is thus not only a virtual reality, but an augmented or mixed reality. Cyberdecks are obsolete, so "deckers" have once again become "hackers". Otakus (also known as Technomancers or Techmages), for unknown reasons, are able to access (and control) elements of the Matrix without their own nodes. These individuals are even more rare than magi, and potentially a million times as powerful (and there is rumor of a corp or somesuch other powerful group that has a standing bounty on them).

Those able to actively interact with the magical energies of the Sixth World are known as "awakened". An awakened character's power in magic is limited by their endurance; Awakened characters who attempt to use magic too powerful risk a "Burnout," where (when magic usually only fatigues them) magical backlash can cause permanent and severe injury. A magic user's approach to working with mystic energy is called their Path. The Awakened fall into three general Paths: magicians, adepts and mystic adepts. Broadly speaking, magicians focus their magic outward, actively affecting the world around them, while adepts focus their magic inward, passively enhancing their bodies and minds. Shamans connect with natural magic forces around them.
An Awakened's "Path" doesn't affect or control their ability to use magic. It is a reflection of their outlook on life, however, and it may affect their motivation. Some Awakened try to contextualize their gift in the framework of an old world religion; some see their abilities to create fire and heal the sick as gifts from God. Some Awakened believe that they are psions of a new world order and think their abilities to fire lightning and fly are manifestations of their Destiny. Others, still, are violent Atheists who believe magic is a mentalist's manipulation of atoms and science and there is a logical explanation (they just haven't discovered what it is yet).
Shamanism (which revolves around summoning and controlling spirits) is most prevalent among old-world cultures (Native Americans, Daoists, et cetera). A spirits physical manifestation often reflects the belief of the summoner; a Dakota Native might summon an Earth spirit that manifests as a great, white wolf where a Packers fan might summon an Earth spirit that manifests as a giant quarterback.
An Awakened's ability to use magic is diminished as he loses Essence (what some call their Humanity). Essence is most often lost as body parts are replaced by cyberware/bioware (artificial things) but can also be lost as the result of being attacked by HMHVV victims (ghouls, vampires, etc) or "unholy" magic (Blood magic and Plague magic, for example). If too much Essence is lost, an Awakened permanently loses the ability to use magic. (there's more)

message 2: by Applejaxc (new)

Applejaxc | 1003 comments If anyone loses all of their Essence, they're dead.
The only way around this is to become what some call a "Cyberzombie" - a magic-proof, mindless abomination employed by some Megacorps and a few militaries (but never officially).

The most commonplace (and least Essence intrusive) cyberware is cyber eyes and ears that have permeated the middle and upper classes. They're a more foolproof option than hearing aids or lasik and are often sponsored by corporations and militaries for certain professions (high-level security guards, for example, might get extra sensitive hearing or eyes that automatically polarize to counter flashbangs). While many of these replacement 'wares are used to increase productivity, computer-assisted targeting (Smartgun Technology) is one of the most "essential" upgrades for soldiers, security, and Runners alike. The more money someone is willing to spend, the higher quality and more complex 'ware they can receive.
For the Essence-sensitive (and rich!), different levels of 'ware are available:
Alphaware: This is the cheapest, off-the-shelf option, and the worst. Any Awakened stays as far away from these as possible.
Betaware: This is the "Standard" 'ware that can be picked up at a hospital/surgeon station.
Deltaware: This is the +1 edition that is more expensive (often in the +150% range) but less intrusive. Shadowrunners that have been around long enough will eventually lose an arm or a leg and try to get a deal on Deltaware if they can afford it (time and money-wise). As expected, Deltaware is also made of higher-quality materials and includes extra bells and whistles.
Omegaware: This isn't just expensive, but it is very difficult to acquire for most Runners. In order to achieve as little an Essence impact as possible and as best a fit as possible, several in-house procedures are required by the Cyberdock to measure and assess the person getting it. This could take a few days, it could take a few weeks. The price alone prohibits all but Megacorp upper-management from getting anything of this quality, and most Corps won't sell their services to nonemployees, meaning if you want Omegaware, you better be willing to go on a hard run to rack up some favors.

The world currency is the NuYen, which has replaced the USD as the trade standard.

The "Main" corps:

The most recent addition to the Corporate Court, Horizon (also known as the Horizon Group) is a AAA megacorporation that focuses on public relations, media, and entertainment. Its main headquarters is in Los Angeles. While Horizon is best known for its presence in all aspects of advertising, marketing, and entertainment, it also has subsidiaries in consumer goods and services, real estate and development, and pharmaceuticals. Subsidiaries include New Line, Polyaural, and Hisato-Turner.

Ares Macrotechnology, run by Damien Knight and headquartered in Detroit, Michigan, UCAS, is the seventh largest corporation in the world, the largest in the UCAS, and the current leader in the defense and aerospace industries. Its five main divisions are AresSpace, Ares Global Entertainment, Ares Arms, Knight Errant Security Services, and General Motors. Ares is a primary producer of firearms, and is a conglomeration of the former world's military-industrial complexes, incorporating much of what was once Colt, Remington, Benelli, H&K, so on and so forth. Ares was the first company to produce laser-based weapons.

Renraku Computer Systems, headquartered in Chiba, Japan, is the fifth largest corporation in the world, and the third largest corporation in Japan. As the name implies, its business core is computer technology, especially memory storage and databases. Since it acquired one of the Corporate Court's original founders, Keruba International, Renraku permanently seats a representative on the Corporate Court.

Saeder-Krupp Schwerindustriegesellschaft (Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries Company), or S-K, headquartered in Essen, Germany, is the largest corporation in the world. It controls BMW, one of the seven founders of the Corporate Court and thus possesses permanent AAA prime megacorporation status. Since a leveraged buyout in 2038, S-K is wholly owned by the Great Dragon Lofwyr. S-K's main business interests lie in heavy industry, nuclear energy, oil, chemistry, aerospace and telecommunications.

Evo, formerly known as Yamatetsu, is a AAA Megacorporation headquartered in Vladivostok, Russia. It is the largest Russian corporation. Evo is one of the main producers of biotechnology appliances, nano-machines and ergonomic goods for metahumans. Evo has a dominant presence in space, being the first corporation to successfully establish a base on Mars. It is also one of the largest members of the Pacific Prosperity Group.

Wuxing, Incorporated, headquartered in Hong Kong, is one of the Big Ten AAA Megacorporations, and it is the largest Hong Kong/Chinese megacorporation. It is one of the newest members of the Corporate Court (along with Novatech and Cross Applied Technologies) and a founding member of the Pacific Prosperity Group. It is most heavily involved in finance, shipping, and consumer goods and services, but like most megacorporations, it has investments in other areas. Wuxing is well known for its unique magical research, focusing on Spirits of the Elements and Wujen. Its influence with the Pacific Prosperity Group gives it power and influence out of proportion to its relatively small size, and it is starting to make waves in the Sixth World.

Aztechnology, headquartered in Tenochtitlan, Aztlan, is the second largest corporation in the world and the largest corporation in North America. Aztechnology is the number one producer of consumer goods in the world. It is also number one in the Magical Industry. The corporation strongly supports the Aztlaner government, which in turn enacts a number of laws to the advantage of Aztechnology. The corporation is privately owned and does not disclose the names of its shareholders and board members. On the other hand, it heavily uses publicity to support its foods and consumer goods sales.

Shiawase Corporation (シアワセ, "happiness"), headquartered in Osaka, Japan, is the eighth largest corporation in the world and the largest Japanese corporation. It is generally considered the first megacorporation, defined by the Shiawase Decision in 2001. It was founded by the Shiawase family (幸 or 倖) in post-WWII Japan, and to the current day, it remains a family-owned corporation. In 2060, Korin Yamana married Mitsuko Shiawase and Shiawase purchased the remains of Fuchi Industrial Electronics. Japan's Emperor Yasuhito married Shiawase Hitomi, an otaku, in 2064. The machinations of the members of the Shiawase family led to a dramatic shift of power after the Matrix Crash 2.0.

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