Shadowrun FAQ (for noobs)

September 20th, 2010

1  What can technology do in 2070?

A lot and a little. The biggest advances are in data processing and understanding of the human brain. For the computers, this (a) means countless little computers everywhere. You can message your fridge to order food in when its low, you have voice recognition on your comm (the next evolutionary step on from mobile phones), your car can find its way home when you pass out drunk behind the wheel. And (b) the real computers are able to run incredibly realistic virtual environments and interface with the human brain in real time. The latter is called SIMsense and is a way of overriding the normal sensory input of the human body. It has many wonderful uses and a few really, really nasty ones.

Other advances are in biology, materials science and power storage. The upshot? Biological and cybernetic alterations to the human body. They can give you a new arm, they can rebuild your skull, they can vat grow additional grey matter from stem cells and give your brain an upgrade. And eyes… you can get some really cool eyes, these days.

But there aren't many big revolutions in science. No teleporters or lightsabres. The things that are possible in theory 2007/9, are sometimes possible in practice in 2070. But noone's
radically changed the theory yet.



2  What can magic do in 2070?

No one really knows for sure. At least no one who's talking. All that's definite is that magic is dark, sinister and powerful. Mages have been able to manipulate energy to throw fire, fly, turn flesh into stone or control the very way people think. There seem to be limits though. There have been constraints though – no one has managed to teleport or raise the dead. Spirits and Astral Projection are real, however.



3  Is everybody happy?

No. Really, no. It's bad out there. Stay here in your little corporate enclave where our nice security forces will protect our loyal employees. Seems like every year, the police lose control of another part of the city.  And the VITAS plagues… who did you lose to VITAS? Me? Just my sister. I was kind of lucky. I tell you this, it's a good job the Megacorps are in charge. If it wasn't for us, you'd be left with what remains of the World's governments trying to run things. They had their chance and they failed. Now don't you think you should be getting back to work? You're productivity was down this month, and you really don't want to be blacklisted if you lose this job. Not with little Timmy wanting school vouchers, eh?



4  Where did the metahumans come from?

Us. It began with UGE back in the early 2010's. Children were being born “deformed” (as it was thought back then). So many of them in so many parts of the world, the medical world was baffled as to the cause. Because they fitted the stereotypes so well, it was inevitable that the media dubbed the children Dwarves and Elves. That got about 10% of newborns in the early years. But it wasn't anything compared to what happened to seemingly normal children when they hit puberty (and some unfortunate adults). “Goblinisation” put people in prolonged, agonising states lasting from months to over a year. And they emerged grotesquely changed. With “dwarves” and “elves” setting a precedent, it was inevitable that we got “Orks” and “Trolls.” though they have scientific names. It's still settling down and even now, a human child will occasionally goblinise at puberty (every parent's nightmare). Likewise a troll or an elf will sometimes give birth to a human child. It's getting less frequent though. And everyone falls into one of the races. There are no halfbreeds.
Human and orc get it on, it could go either way, but it will be one or the other.



5  Who's in charge?

There are ten corporations that are called Megacorporations, or triple AAA's. There's barely a government in the world that isn't in their pockets. Megacorps like Renraku, SaederKrupp or Ares run the show. National governments remain for the most part because “the mega's don't want to deal with taking out the trash.” But there are no real rules for the big boys. The manoeuvring and struggle for dominance between them is what turns the greasy cogs of the world.
But perhaps there are also other powers at work. Less obvious. No less dangerous. You'll learn.
6 How many hit points do I get? About 10 – 15.  And you don't get more. One of the fundamental principles of Shadowrun, and you need to get used to this, is that it is easier to dish out damage than it is to take it. You can be the best shot in the UCAS, you can hurl a fireball that will scorch the armour off an Ares Citymaster, but you will never, ever get away from the fact that if someone catches you in the open with an assault rifle, you might die. Even the big players are vulnerable. That dragon might have enough magical juice to level your party in one go, but with the right planning (and a Medium Machine Gun), a single starting character could bring her down. That's why Shadowrun is so filled with plotting, treachery and stealth. It's part of the game. (And oh yes, dragons are very good at all three of these).



7 – Who is Harlequin?

An urban myth. Forget about it. Just because a death goes unexplained, there's no need to go inventing nightmares. Seriously, forget it.



8 – What do Shadowrunners do?

It depends how much you pay them. They range from competent professionals to gangers from the street, but are usually a cut above the common man (or else they wont last long). Mr. Johnson might hire them to steal a prototype or sabotage a rival's operation or something else entirely. As “deniable assets” they can't be traced to their employer.



9 – What can get away with?

Depends where you are. If you're in the barrens then you can probably walk down the street with an assault rifle in your hands (but keep an eye out for the local gangs who might take offence). Try the same thing in Bellevue and you'll have heavily armed police all over you in minutes. Likewise, who you piss off probably matters more than what you do. A murder in Redmond will get some paperwork filed. Punch somebody richer than you and they'll have a chip in your head faster than you can say “privatised police force.”



10 What magical creatures and places are there?

Lots of creatures, some places. Just as in a manarich environment,  some humans expressed as elves or dwarves, some faction of animals became altered versions of themselves. You wont see unicorns galloping down the freeway, but the zoo might have some depressed looking naga and a few corporate facilities use barghests for their ability to perceive (and harm) astral forms. The big ones are dragons and spirits. The former for their intelligence, magical power and most importantly of all, their ability to communicate with mankind. One has even established itself as the major shareholder and director of a corporation. The spirits because they can be summoned and controlled by magicians. They come in many different forms and wield various abilities. And some spirits are free of any master. These in particular, are to be wary of.



11 What happened to America?

About everything bad you can imagine. It is no more. Instead you have the United Canadian and American States (UCAS) and they've had a lot of territory taken from them. Back in the early 2000's, there was growing popular unrest due to increasing corporate power and the economic woes that had befallen the debt ridden USA along with growing fear at the small, inexplicable phenomena that were starting to happen. The government responded in the usual way of governments that see themselves losing control and tightened their grip with stronger laws, harsher punishments and reductions in civil rights. A terrorist group, called SAIM, motivated by the blanket seizures of native american land struck at a nuclear missile facility in the USA.  The native american movement in general had become something of a cause celebré for the anticorporate and antiestablisment factions and the government didn't like it. Amongst the many dissidents who were being relocated to “reeducation centres”  was included a young man called Danial Howling Coyote. A few years later, during a storm, he led the entire inmate population of the camp out into the night. Guards reported that he was “glowing” and that “bullets would not touch him.” For the next year he was the USA's most wanted individual whilst at the same time support for him grew in many quarters and with all ethnic groups, fuelled by his occasional media statements against the government and corporations, and by his ability to elude the very best attempts to capture him. With incidents of being able to demonstrate real magic, native american shamans (though this actually included converts from any race), made enormous gains in popularising native american belief systems, including a “back to the land” ethos. Scared, the government hit back in all the ways it could and there is a strict media clampdown. Danial Howling Coyote issues a demand to the government of the USA to relinquish control of large swathes of North American territory to his “NAN Council.” This is treated with derision until Mt. Redondo erupts, burying Los Alamos. Danial Howling Coyote broadcasts a message from a nearby reservation taking credit for 'invoking Mother Earth' and an entire battalion of USAF airborne cavalry is sent after him. None survive. The truth of what is happening leaks to the public despite government censorship provoking panic and more civil unrest. Over the next few years, repeated attacks on Danial's guerilla forces are foiled and the USA is now in a state of actual warfare against the enemy within its own borders. In 2017, Danial leads what he called the “Great Ghost Dance.” Four volcanos in North America erupted simultaneously, devastating whole regions. Faced with an enemy it cannot fight, and demands within its own populace, the USA negotiates.  Large territories are ceded to NAN control and other parts of the USA secede of their own accord. After twohundred and forty years of existence,  the USA was no more.

Music in 2070

September 3rd, 2010

Concrete Dreams

Concrete Dreams are the most famous rock band in the world, although they haven't played a concert since 2044 and only produce one album a year. They made their first appearance in 2030 at Club Penumbra in Seattle, although they did not become truly famous until 2032. The band members are Warren Cartwright (Guitar), Andrea Frost (Synthlink), Moira Thornton (Programmer/Songwriter), and François Nyanze (Drumbox). The instruments the band use are predoimantly synths, of various sorts, with Warren Cartwright being the principal player of 'traditional' instruments such as the electric guitar. Moira suffered a nervous breakdown in 2038 shortly after their multiplatinum Nightmares of the Soul album was released. Street gossip says that Moira in fact died and that when the band staged their comeback in late 2039, the apparently healthy looking Moira was in fact an imposter, a vat grown double, rown/created by the bands controlling corporation.


Toxic Frog

The strangely named Toxic Frog appeared in late 2059, the first Troll Thrash Metal band to stay in the charts for more than four weeks at number 1. The lead singer (if you can call her that) is Astra Max, a surprisingly good looking troll. There are three guitarists, who alternate between the various roles within the band when they feel like it. Two of them are Elmer and Marco, a pair or identical twins, and JoJo, the only ork in the group. The bands drummer is a huge (3.2 m) troll, who demands that everyone call him 'Crusher'. Street gossip says that Crushers real name is James Tiberius Kirk (his mothers name is Elaine Kirk, and yes, she does watch reruns of Star Trek: The Wonder Years), but noone has been stupid enough to ask him to his face. Yet.


Orks Teef

The worlds first Ork prog-rock band, also known as 'Trog Rock', were formed in 2056 and tour regularly in the UCAS and Europe. The lead singer, Gold Nail, first became famous singing his now-famous cover of 'Wanna be in my gang'. The sight of six huge orks dressed in silver flared sequinned suits jumping around a stage sticks in the mind for a long time. The band has a huge following in the German states, where their lead singer Klaus 'The Quiff' Knockwurst originates from. It's rumored that the drummer, Erei Sallom, used to be an 'Enforcer' for Boris 'The Bludgeon' Smith, the notorious London gangster. Erei's real name is Eric Smith, he's actually The Bludgeons son. The Bludgeon is fiercely racist, and only let Eric live because his wife pleaded him to.


Rivet Joint

Another famous glam rock band, this time populated by dwarves. This British band currently comprises of Grom Silver, Brother Gurnison (lead guitar), Mad Mac McMad (mad dwarf bassist), and Billy the Club (troll drummer). The band are known for classics like the "Stout Dwarf Stomp" and similar. Played in dwarven dives everywhere. Grom is a short stout dwarf usually seen in at least 3" platform soled heavy boots and wearing a brightly patterned sparkly longcoat with hideously long collar. Grom has bright ginger hair oiled and moulded into a quiff, he is usually seen with a hideous grin and has a deep scottish accent. Grom Silver has just completed a wildly popular tour of the UCAS and has retired to his home in Aberdeen to compile a new album (Technicolor Dragon) for the coming year. Half of Grom's family are pirates, or Shadowrunners of one sort or another. Grom originally trained as a roughneck on a North Sea oilrig, but eventually was fired after repeatedly breaking the strict fire regulations by wearing too much hair gel.


Urban Combat Zone

Urban Combat Zone (UCZ) are the latest group to hit the big time. They seem to have a rotating group membership, with the only constant member of the group being an Irish-American Elf called Maxim. The group always appear in public dressed in stylised security armour. They are very popular within the military and merc communities, although Maxim says that his music is actually denouncing all violence in the 21st century. How this ties in with their image is still unclear.


> What they don't say is that Maxim served ten years in Joliet for aggravated assault. It's rumoured that when he was inside he was used as an expiremental subject for some sort of psychotropic black ice which has left him with a split personality. Most of the time he is a normal, peaceful, if alcoholic, pop star, but occasionally he can flip and turn into a homicidal maniac. 
> Snooper


> Rubbish. Maxim has never been arrested, yet alone put in prison. The rumours about Maxims instability were spread by the lead singer of an Aztechnology sponsored band, after UCZ managed to enter the charts straight to number one, just as their band was about to have their very first number one.
> Musicman



An Elven folk group, generally they turn out one album every couple of years. The style is the same as in Irish folk music, but the words tend to be in Sperithiel. The band recently received the honour of playing a private gig for the High Prince of the Tir, he was said to be 'very impressed' by the bands talents, and commended them as great ambassadors for the elven nation. The band currently lives in Seattle, although they regularly visit both Tirs, and the Caribbean League.


The Top Ten For Saturday December 17th 2071.

The top ten has never been a good guide to what music people are buying, but even less so in the middle 21st century. The major corporations often buy huge amounts of new releases, just to get their latest new band into the public eye. The list below is compiled from the KSTS independent TV channel. Also shown are the number of sales so far.

  1. Concrete Dreams – Sounds of a Dragon [Platinum - 1,001,004 sales]
  2. Monster Machine – Truck Stop Rumble [Platinum - 900,400 sales (200,000 rumoured to be an Aztechnology bulk purchase)]
  3. Rivet Joint – Bouncing to the Beat (Remix) [Gold - 600,432 sales]
  4. Urban Combat Zone – Napalm [Gold - 600,431 sales]
  5. Maze – Neverending Circles [Silver - 434,567 sales]
  6. Transdental Smash – Walk in the Park [Silver - 236,500 sales]
  7. Static Hiss – Nothing to hear (on the radio) [Silver - 205,456 sales]
  8. Use of Weapons – Azzie [New Release]
  9. Million Dollar Android – Who needs money? [Platinum - 1,002,456 sales]
  10. Flapjack – Hey Ricky! [Gold - 423,987]

Shadowrunners go Public

September 1st, 2010

In 2051 Shadowrunners go public.


Excerpt from Heavy Hitters: Episode #123

AIR DATE 11/15/51


Donner: Welcome back to Heavy Hitters! For those of you who are just joining us, the topic of today’s show is: Security vs. Shadowrunners. Our guests are Richard, Elise, and Alan, three corporate security officers whose employers will remain anonymous, and the Scorecards, a team of so-called “shadowrunners.” Welcome back to the show.

Guests: Thanks, Daniel.

Donner: We’ve talked about what it takes to do your jobs, but clearly your goals are in direct conflict with one another. Tell me,

Richard. What are your thoughts about the type of “work” the Scorecards are doing?

Richard: They’re criminals, Daniel. Calling them “shadowrunners” might sound romantic and exciting, but in the end they’re nothing but criminals.

Elise: I have to agree with him, Daniel.

Donner: I see you frowning over there, Vindicator. Something you’d like to add?

Vindicator: You better believe it, Daniel. It’s all well and good for these assholes—

Alan: Okay, that isn’t necessary.

Vindicator: —for these assholes to call us criminals, but if they take two seconds to look at the guys who are writing their paychecks, they’ll see who the real criminals are.

Richard: You don’t even know who we work for. You have no idea the good that my company…

Runs-With-Deer: Oh, can it, Dick. The corps are all the same. It’s in their nature. They are soulless, emotionless entities that have completely divorced the human element from their method of operations. They treat their customers and employees as little more than disposable assets.

Elise: You’ve got a lot of nerve. Two of my friends were killed when a shadowrunner team attacked our facility last year. My friends weren’t soulless machines. One of them was a mother with two children. The other was a man who dreamed of retiring to become a painter. These aren’t disposable assets.
These are real people that you’re slaughtering when you play your violent games.

Runs-With-Deer: Slaughtering? We only kill to stay alive. The corps kill every day with the poison they spew into the air and water. They murder thousands with their petty wars and conflicts. How can you compare a shot fired in self-defense to the sort of wholesale murder that corps involve themselves in. If your friends died, it was because of the people they chose to associate themselves with.

Elise: You son-of-a-bitch!

Donner: Someone grab her!

Alan: He’s casting a spell!

Donner: We’re taking a break, but we’ll be back in a moment!


> Ha! I’m pretty sure Runs-With-Deer clocked that chick in the head with one of the cameras. I need to get a copy of that show.

> Slamm-0!


> I love Heavy Hitters. Donner can still light a fire like nobody else in the business.

> /dev/grrl

Sirrurg attacks EuroAir Flight 329

September 1st, 2010

EuroAir Flight 329 Flight Recorder, September 23, 2041



EA329: Uh, that dragon is still coming towards us, and fast—really fast. We are doing an emergency descent to level one five, er, one four zero.

TA: Confirm you wish to descend to flight level one four zero?

EA329: Right. We have already commenced.

TA: Fine, roger, you are clear to descend immediately to flight level one four zero.


EA329: Roger. It would be good if, wait, what’s he doing? Is that…

EA329: [Roaring noise]

TA: Repeat ER329.

EA329: He hit us with some sort of spell. We just lost two engines. One and two.

EA329: [Sound of a loud thump]


TA: Do you request a full emergency? Repeat, a full emergency?

EA329: Afirmative! That’s, dammit, that’s Charlie Charlie.

TA: Roger, full emergency is declared.

EA329: [More roaring. A screeching noise.]

EA329: Shit. Shit. Cabin pressure is dropping. I think he’s breached.


EA329: [Sound of the steward. Unintelligible.]

EA329: One of the passengers…one of the passengers is fighting it. I think he’s a mage.

TA: What is your heading? Are you still…

EA329: [Fire alarms buzz]

TA: What is your status 329.


EA329: We’ve got fire in the main cargo deck. It’s like fraggin’ fireworks out there. We’re…

EA329: [Loud thump. Alarms.]

TA: Status 329.

EA329: He hit us! He hit us! We’re…

EA329: [Sounds of engines increasing]

EA329: Up dammit! Up dammit! Negative. I said no. Three seven.

TA: 329. We’re going to route a…

EA329: Did he get him? Did he?


TA: 329. Do you read me?

EA329: No! I mean yes, Transit, we…

EA329: Very loud crash.

EA329: Oh, god! I love you Allie.



> Anyone ever figure out why Sirrurg attacked the plane?

> /dev/grrl


> Nope. 230 people killed and as far as we know, Sirrurg was just bored that afternoon.

> Sticks

Slang Guide

August 31st, 2010

(vul) = vulgar
(jap) = Japanese or "Japlish" loanword
v. = verb
adj. = adjective
n. = noun


Angel n. A benefactor, especially an unknown one.
Arc n. An arcology.
Breeder n. Ork slang for a "normal" Human.
Business n. In slang context, crime, Also "Biz."
Buzz Go away. Buzz off.
Chipped adj. Senses, skills, reflexes, muscles, and so on, enhanced by cyberware.
Chummer n. "Pal" or "Buddy".
Comm n. The telephone.
Corp nl, adj. Corporation. Corporate
Dandelion Eater n., adj. Elf or elven. Highly Insulting.
Dataslave n. Corporate decker or other data processing employee.
Datasteal n. Theft of data from a computer, usually by decking.
Deck n. A cyberdeck. v. To use a cyberdeck, usually illegally.
Decker n. Pirate cyberdeck user. Derived from 20th-centery term "Hacker".
Deckhead n. Simsense abuser; anyone with a datajack or chipjack.
Drek n. (vul) A common curse word. adj: Drekky
Dumped v. Involuntarily ejected from the Matrix.
Exec v. Corporate executive.
Fetishman n. A talismonger.
Frag v. Common swear word. adj: Fragging.
Frak v. Common swear word. adj: Frakking. Interchangable with Frag.
Geek v. To kill.
Go-go-go n. A bike gang or gang member.
Heatwave n. Police crackdown.
Hoi Hi Hello. (Familiar form)
Hose v. Louse up. Screw up.
Ice n. Security software. "Intrusion Countermeasures," or IC.
Jack v. Jack In, or enter cyberspace. Jack out, or to leave cyberspace.
Jander v. To walk in an arrogant yet casual manner; to strut.
Kobun n. (Jap) Member of a Yakuza clan.
Mr. Johnson n. Refers to an anonymous employer or corporate agent.
Mundane n. adj. (vul) Non-magician or non-magical.
Nutrisoy n. Cheaply processed food product, derived from soybeans
Nuyen n. World standard of currency.
Oyabun n. (Jap) Head of a Yakuza clan.
Panzer n. Any ground-effect combat vehicle.
Paydata n. A datafile worth money on the black market.
Plex n. A metropolitan complex, or "metroplex".
Poli n. A policlub or policlub member.
Razorguy n. Heavily cybered samurai or other muscle.
Samurai n. (Jap) Mercenary or muscle for hire. Implies honor code.
Sarariman n. (Jap) From "salaryman." A corporate employee.
Screamer n. Credstick or other ID that triggers computer alarms if used.
Seoul Man n. A member of a Seoulpa ring.
Seoulpa ring n. A small criminal gang with connections to others like it.
Shaikujin n. (Jap) Lit. "Honest citizen." A corporate employee.
Simsense n. ASIST sensory broadcast or recording.
Slot v. Mild curse word.
Slot and Run v. Hurry up. Get to the point. Move it.
So ka (Jap) I understand. I get it.
Soykaf n. Ersatz coffee substitute made from soybeans.
Sprawl n. a metroplex (see Plex); v. fraternize below one's social level.
Suit n A "straight citizen." See Shaikujin, Sarariman.
System Identification Number (SIN) n. Identification number assigned to each person in the society.
Trid n. Three-dimensional successor to video.
Trog n. (vul) An Ork or Troll. From "troglodyte." Highly insulting.
Vatjob n. A person with extensive cyberware replacement, reference is to a portion of the process during which the patient must be submerged in nutrient fluid.
Wagemage n. A magician (usually mage) employed by a corporation.
Wetwork n. Assassination. Murder.
Wired adj. Equipped with cyberware, especially increased reflexes.
Wizard n. A magician, usually a mage; adj. gear, wonderful, excellent.
Wizworm n. slang. A dragon.
Yak n. (Jap) Yakuza. Either a clan member or a clan itself.