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The World of Shadowrun

Shadowrun is a science-fiction/cyberpunk/fantasy role-playing game by FASA Corporation (recently purchased by Wizkids, LLC). Based in a semi-dark future in the mid-21st century, it portrays a world controlled primarily by Megacorporations. It draws heavily from the Cyberpunk genre, but adds a twist: magic has returned to the world, bringing with it a new element to the normal gritty guns-and-technology aspect of the world.

Shadowrun is a study in contrasts: bright lights against dark slums; huge corporations against individuals; the spiritual world of magic against the dim realism of technology. It's a game where the human spirit struggles to survive in a world that is becoming increasingly mechanical… and a world where those who embrace technology struggle against the chaotic forces of magic.

Amidst the shadows cast upon society dwell a particular type of criminal: the Shadowrunner. The Shadow community includes those who have dropped out of 'normal' society, instead performing their work underneath the sight of the powerful forces that control the world. Secrecy is their key, functioning out of view, sometimes even amidst the standard world of the corporations. Some Shadowrunners are simply criminals into making a quick buck; others are doing work for their own conscience, fighting the 'evil' that they see within the world. Still others are on a personal mission, whether it be revenge, self-improvement, or whatever. But whatever brings them together, they perform a vital function.

Corporations have to appear to be aboveboard, but in the highly competitive world of 2061, sometimes the laws need to be overlooked, or simply broken. Corporations need a way to perform this task with secrecy, discretion, and above all, plausible deniability. So they hire Shadowrunners when they need industrial espionage, sabotage, assassination, or whatever. Individuals called fixers act as discreet contacts to connect Shadowrunners with Johnsons — usually corporate representatives providing a job and pay for that job. These under-the-table dealings form the bread and butter for most runners, though they are not the only source of opportunity by far.

Shadowrun Archetypes

While it doesn't have the AD&D concept of 'character classes', Shadowrun does provide 'archetypes'. The rules are structured in such a way that, although it is certainly possible to cross over between classes, there are enough restrictions that most players fall 'mostly' into one of the standard archetypes; there's a lot of variation possible within each one. We encourage people to come up with creative concepts, but it should have some sort of tie to the Shadow community. Otherwise, it's going to be difficult to interact with other people.

Street Samurai. The Street Samurai (or 'sammie') is a character based primarily on cyberware and bioware (implanted technological devices to augment the body's natural functioning). Many of them choose to follow a code of honor, though others simply are out for money, power, or some other form of personal gain. This archetype tends to start out extremely powerful out of chargen, but may tend to find it more difficult to advance. This character archetype encompasses a wide range of capabilities, but usually they are designed primarily for combat.

Face/Fixer. Social skills are very important in a role-playing game, and in Shadowrun, it's not what you know, a lot of the time, but who you know. The Face is the ultimate practitioner of the social arts. She knows everyone, and everyone knows her — at least, by *some* name. People are the key to getting things done, if you just know how to motivate them. Faces usually use cyberware or bioware, skills, magical abilities, or some combination of these to improve their social abilities. Most fixers and Johnsons on the game will fit this archetype.

Detective. Sometimes, you need to know more information. Information, or legwork, is the key to getting things done. The detective uses good old-fashioned police work to find out information, along with a network of contacts. Sometimes they use the Matrix, or whatever means are necessary. Often, they're former law-enforcement officers who've gotten screwed over by the corporations, or had something hit their conscience one too many times. Or sometimes, they're just looking to be a bit more independent, get out of the rigid hierarchy of the corporations. Whatever their reason, they often use their skills, cyberware, and bioware to find out what they need to know.

Cyberdocs. Somebody has to implant all that 'ware, or fix you up when you get busted. Doctors do just that, and there's a pretty penny to be made from cyberware. Often doctors combine themselves with another archetype, though sometimes they are simply a field medic. Magic can definitely help in surgery, so some doctors choose the path of using magic to heal.

Engineers. This archetype applies to just about anyone who uses their skills to develop new gear on the game. This is more of a support character, at least until you've gotten enough cool gear developed to make yourself really useful on a run. Just as a caution, we're rather careful about what new gear we allow PC's to develop. While we like it, it's something that involves careful control of game balance. Often, engineers have modifications that help them with their work, such as cyberware or bioware to augment their intelligence.

Covert Ops Specialist. In some ways, this character is a variation of the Street Samurai. Instead, though, she relies on stealth and infiltration to accomplish her work, rather than brute force and sheer power like the Samurai. Often her equipment will provide her ways to sneak into places undetected, ways to kill or incapacitate silently, and skills oriented toward doing things quietly and surreptitiously.

Rigger. A certain piece of cyberware called a Vehicle Control Rig provides a character with the ability to directly control a vehicle, or even 'become' the vehicle. Using the abilities of cars and drones instead of their own 'meat' body, a rigger can enjoy the ability to direct an entire fleet against a target, or use that fleet in order to perform just about any task from surveillance to transport. Using a 'Remote Control Deck', riggers can even control their drones and cars from miles away.

Decker. Using a datajack implanted in his head, a character can interface directly with computer systems. Using a special type of computer called a 'deck', which contains programs and hardware specifically designed for hacking, a character can go out onto the Matrix and infiltrate other systems (yes, Shadowrun's usage of the term 'Matrix' far predates the movie). Deckers are masters of the Matrix, hacking in to get the information they need, subverting computer systems as they go.

Shaman. Usually following the Native American traditions of shamanistic magic, these characters can use magic to cast spells. Virtually any form of religious magic is practical under this archetype. A shaman picks a totem — a spiritual guide — which grants them certain abilities in addition to simply casting spells. Shamans may also summon 'nature spirits' to do their bidding. Magic and cyberware/bioware are incompatible — if either of them are implanted in an awakened character, the character loses some of his/her magical abilities.

Physical Adepts. Instead of directing their magic toward spellcasting, Physical Adepts instead channel it into improving their body, mind, or reflexes. Physical Adepts can perform many of the same feats that those with cyberware or bioware can accomplish, without some of the limitations. While they do not start off as powerful out of chargen, they have virtually no limit to how far they can expand their skills. Since they are magically-awakened characters, they cannot have cyberware or bioware implanted in them without suffering loss of some or all of their magical abilities.

Hermetic Mages. Remember the old wizards, with their formulas and incantations? That is the path of the Hermetic Mages. Like Shamans, they can cast spells, but instead of allying themselves with the spiritual aspect of magic, they approach it from a more rigorous, scientific point of view. Hermetics cannot summon nature spirits, but they can summon elementals, which are more powerful. The disadvantage is that they cost money to summon, and time. Like the other magically awakened characters, Hermetic mages cannot take cyberware or bioware without losing some of their abilities.

Shadowrun Races

When magic came back into the world, some people's genetics were affected by this. The human race split into five distinct subspecies, each with their own attributes. Each race received a name reminiscent of the mythical race they most resembled.

Humans. Those who were not affected by the changes retained all aspects of humanity. They are humans, plain and simple, with their normal adaptability, luck, and ability to do reasonably well at nearly any situation.

Elves. Taller than humans (averaging just under two meters in height) and slender, elves are more attractive, on average, to human eyes. Their slender, quick forms give them natural advantages when it comes to stealth or any task involving agility.

Dwarves. Much shorter and stockier than humans, dwarves are stronger than humans, more durable, and blessed with a greater strength of will. They seem to stereotypically tend more toward the technical professions, though there is nothing they can't do.

Orks. Despite their somewhat unattractive (to human eyes) appearance, Orks are great to have on your side when it comes to rough and tumble. Though they're hardly as attractive or as intelligent, on average, as most humans, they are blessed with durability and strength well above human average. The weakest ork is as strong as an average human, and more durable.

Trolls. Imagine the biggest bouncer you've ever seen. Now, make him even bigger than that, add tusks and horns to him, and you have a troll: a walking pile of meat and muscle. The weakest troll is as durable as the best a human can normally become, and nearly as strong. Their immense size gives them problems, though, in dealing with things made for the other, smaller races. Trolls aren't as bright, in general, as humans are on average, but their large size more than makes up for this deficit.


In Shadowrun Theme, Denver — known as the Treaty City — has been divided into sectors, each owned by a different one of the nations making up the North American Continent. It is the smuggling capitol of North America, as well, where legal and illegal goods can pass from country to country.

According to the 'standard' theme, moving across the city requires passing through multiple border checkpoints. While that works in tabletop, since it's easy to keep 'the team' together, online it presents a problem. For that reason, we created the 'Free Trade Zone' or FTZ. The FTZ encompasses most of downtown Denver, and provides an area where people and goods can move freely. Upon leaving the Free Trade Zone, a more stringent border checkpoint must be passed.

With the introduction of the FTZ, Denver has become a booming marketplace where goods rapidly travel through the city due to the centralized customs capabilities. Illegal goods are also somewhat easier to move, though there's risk involved. IC Justification for how the FTZ came to be can be found in '+news theme 2060'.


We make no attempt to document all of the rules or provide a complete set of information on our game about the game of Shadowrun. That information remains the property of FASA or of Wizkids, and we have no desire to infringe upon their copyrights. Players of our game are encouraged to purchase at least the core rulebook (Shadowrun, 3rd edition, FASA Corporation, ISBN #1-55560-371-8). It should be available from most major bookstores, game stores, or web-based book vendors. We strongly encourage players to support this fine book and those who developed it by purchasing a copy. Information posted on the game is intended to be a 'quick reference' and is not intended in any manner to replace what is found in the core rulebooks.

All books in use on the game are the third edition versions. A listing of these can be found within the game by typing '+news houserules books'. Once again, we strongly recommend that you obtain a copy of the books before attempting to create a character. It will definitely reduce the level of frustration and confusion you may encounter on the game.

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