Shadowrun

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"Watch your back, shoot straight, conserve ammo, and never, ever, cut a deal with a dragon."

"A standard mission is 20 minutes of objectives, three days of planning, and 600 seconds of mayhem."

Shadowrun is a Tabletop Game from FASA (of BattleTech fame) that straddles the Cyberpunk and Dungeon Punk genres.

It's set Twenty Minutes Into the Future (first edition in 2050, second edition in 2053, third in 2060, and fourth in 2070), with one major difference: In 2012, on the "zero date" at the end of the Mayan calendar, magic (which has its own, millennia long tides) returned to the world. Humans mutated into various other races (elves, dwarves, orks, and trolls), dragons awoke from eons-long slumber, and some people gained the ability to cast spells. The Native Americans were the first ones to use magic on a greater scale and they used their newfound power to re-take most of the western North American continent; however, the real movers and shakers are the megacorporations, who have achieved extranational status and are now exempt from most laws. In this world, the players are Shadowrunners, freelance operatives who take jobs that corporations, governments, and other entities can't (or won't) handle themselves.

Probably the most popular Cyberpunk role playing game, which pisses off Cyberpunk purists to no end (due to the system's blend of cyberpunk with fantasy species and tropes). Games were made for both the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo in the 90's. Both were very different from each other, and the Genesis version was considered a classic for its console(the reason Greg Muzyka left medical school to work for BioWare), while the less-popular SNES version is thought of as one of the console's hidden gems. There was also a Japan-only game for the Sega CD. A recent[when?] adaptation for the Xbox 360 and PC, however, has been much less well-received. The primary reason you will find it referenced is the rare use of cross-platform multiplayer between the 360 and PC versions (This game is also the reason it is rare, as gameplay was massively unbalanced in the favor of PC players due to superior controls). A new game generated massive funding via Kickstarter some years ago and proved very popular and successful when it was completed and released.

It has a strictly fantasy offshoot, Earthdawn. For a while, it has been stated that Earthdawn is actually a prequel to Shadowrun placed in the Fourth Age (Shadowrun being Sixth), but this connection is no longer used officially, as the two games are now managed by different publishers. There's also a Space Opera offshoot in the works, Equinox, but it currently looks like Vaporware.

Has a Character Sheet.


Tropes used in Shadowrun include:
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Literally; In the first editions (1-3), until 2064 (the 2nd crash), only three AIs existed (Mirage, Morgan/Maegera and Deus - the last of these being the big, bad kind of AI). All of them were extremely powerful entities but all of them vanished in Crash 2.0 which ended the 3rd edition. In the 4th Edition, starting 2070, lesser A Is started to appear. Self-awareness can't be written into a program; it has to occur on its own. The best that the corps can do as far as creating AI goes is to monitor their most data-intensive programs closely and see what happens. Second, the result may be self-aware but not sapient, like a dog or a cat. Or it could be the very rare third type where it still is somewhat like its original program. These are called xenosapients because they are so alien to metahumanity that they are pretty much Starfish Aliens. Then there are the metahuman-like A Is. Some have just spawned from nothing, some from existing programs and others seem to be based on people that got trapped in the Matrix during the Second Crash or later events.
  • The Ageless: Dragons have this as a racial trait, as well as some elves.
  • All Deaths Final: If you die in the tabletop game, you're dead. Not so much in the FPS, where you can be resurrected within the same round if your buddies care to do so and have the MP.
  • All There in the Manual: To be specific the Sixth World Almanac. It explains what happened in the background. This is somewhat necessary because of the Retcons from the previous editions, new players getting into it, and just clearing things up. However it's written In-Universe so Unreliable Narrator is in effect. (Also there is several misprints in it too.) Still worth it for background information
  • Alternate Continuity: The 2007 video game - according to the developers/The Other Wiki, it should be considered Shadowrun In Name Only.
  • Amusing Injuries: Taking the Cursed disadvantage causes this with a character's magic. Rulewise it causes glitches to happen more often when casting magic and causing you to make dice rolls for otherwise automatically successes. An example they give is summoning a water spirit can set your clothes on fire and using Improved Reflex is glitched will result in your character tripping over their shoelaces.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The immortal Elves and Greater Dragons, together and separately.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Chinese Triads deploy their goon squads based on traditional numerology - Four and Five are unlucky numbers, Seven and Eight are particularly lucky.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: The Mystic Crusaders. take a wild guess who they really are...
  • Ascended Fanboy: Many of the writers of 3rd and 4th edition, who grew up playing 1st and 2nd edition, such as Adam Jury, Steven "Bull" Ratokovich and Bobby "Ancient History" Derie.
  • Attack Reflector: The Reflective Shielding initiate metamagic ability, first described in Awakenings: New Magic in 2057.
  • Augmented Reality: How the Matrix works in 4th Edition.
  • Author Existence Failure: Nigel Findley, R.I.P. 1995
  • Backpack Cannon: The Ballista Multi-Role Missile Launcher, which is also an Awesome Backpack.
  • Badass Crew: Any sufficiently experienced crew of runners that have worked together for a length of time.
  • Balkanize Me: Large countries like China are split into many small countries, Russia is split in 2, Germany into a Confederation of 6, Africa into tribal nations no more then a few miles across. North America is similarly divided, see below.
  • BFG: The Thunderstruck Gauss Rifle, assault cannons, sniper rifles, etc.
  • Big Bad: The Horrors.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: If someone is in public, they're on several cameras at once. Everything they buy is put on file, every transaction they make leaves a datatrail straight to them, every ad they show interest in is monitored... All so that the corps get more of their money. Thanks to them, in many places it's illegal - or at least very suspicious - to have your commlink switched off in public.
    • Averted in that they point out that while every single inch of the urban landscape is under ubiquitous surveillance, the different owners of all of those surveillance cameras (that is to say, the different megacorps) do not like to share information with each other. This is how shadowrunners can still survive in a Big Brother world—by knowing where the invisible borders are and the cracks between them, and crossing them back and forth as rapidly as they can. They also get away with it because there is so much data recorded, that it's too expensive to process all of it without a good reason, and the Megacorps generally hate spending money without a guaranteed return.
  • Big Good: Harlequin and Dunkelzahn fill this role, despite being as ethically-questionable as anyone else in this setting.
  • Bizarre Baby Boom: Unexplained Genetic Expression, responsible for the emergence of elves and dwarves among the population.
  • Black Market: Hell, in the world of 2070, they're this close to advertising. Anyone up for a trip to the Crime Mall?
    • One sourcebook mentions Hacker House, an online store for illegal hackers' gear that openly advertises its existence. The trick is finding it, then hacking into it in order to use its services.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Cyberspurs, which can emerge from wrists, elbows, and knees.
  • Bland-Name Product: Both averted (sourcebooks list purchasable vehicles made by Ford and Chrysler, among other things) and played straight (McHugh's, AKA McDonald's).
  • Blessed with Suck: The Latent Awakening quality. Why? The game master gets to pick what you become, and what spell/ability you start off with. If you pissed him off he can screw you over. Also, all of the Infected qualities. All of them.
  • Blood Magic: Practiced by Aztechnology mages, and others.
  • Blood Sport: Urban Brawl, Combat Biker, and Aztec-style Court Ball.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Insect Spirits. Street Magic points out that they can't be called evil since they are incomprehensible to Metahumanity.
  • Brain-Computer Interface: Monitors are as dead as print. If you're a sissy, you can use non-invasive neural interface electrodes, like in Neuromancer. Real users have input/output jacks drilled in their skulls - it's the new HD!
    • Which have been replaced by electrode headbands and nano-paste, display glasses and ear buds. Everything old is new again!
      • The transition from headjacks to display glasses and earbuds is mostly due to the ubiquitous nature of commlinks, and the transition from Virtual to Augmented Reality. Most people use their commlinks as smartphones, and tend to wear them externally with the aforementioned display glasses, earbuds, and fashionably hidden trodes. Hardcore hackers have their commlinks and simsense systems implanted directly into their brains. Technomancers don't even need to use commlinks at all.
  • Brain In a Jar: Multiple examples
  • Brick Joke: In the 4E core supplement Arsenal one of the shadowrunners in the FastJack section was talking about rescuing a Corp's kids. The kid had a single use .22 caliber pistol with a cartoon character on the side. The shadowrunner was amazed at how they cost more than his gun. Later in Augmentation when talking about a nanoforged gun one of the other shadowrunners (Baka Dabora) asked, "Yes but does it have a cartoon character on the side?"
    • Things like these tend to show up in the flavor text of a lot of the game's sourcebooks.
  • Britain Is Only London: The timeline of 3rd edition describes Teesside as part of London.
  • Bug War: The Insect Spirits don't want to kill humanity, but given that they need human sacrifice to cross over, it often becomes this when they get involved.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: What many runs all too often turn out to be. Especially if you've got a Killer Game Master.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Many of the earlier novels. Before the 2nd Edition, when the game really found its voice, Shadowrun was portrayed very much as Dungeons & Dragons In The Future (!!), with a heavy emphasis on bizarre creatures, cyborgs, mad science, and otherworldly spirits. This led to such things as characters somehow rising from the dead, invasions by Eldritch Abominations across the planes, and (especially) a dying corporate CEO having his brain implanted into a glorified tumor in a jar, communicating via Matrix hookup. Nothing is ever declared non-canon, per se, but whenever a sourcebook finds itself having to cover material from this earlier era, the Shadowland commentators make a note to remark on just how utterly bizarre these events and creatures are, many thinking them to be just hoaxes or exaggerations.
    • For example, in the novels, Dunkelzahn's death was a Heroic Sacrifice meant to help his agents prevent a premature invasion of Earth by the Horrors because of a side effect of the Great Ghost Dance. But in all subsequent sourcebooks, this aspect of the event is never touched upon, with Dunkelzahn's death being an assassination by unknown parties.
      • Which still fits in the continuity of the game, technically, as only maybe two people know what really happened to Dunkelzahn (Harlequin is one of them, and even he's not entirely sure). As far as everyone else in the world is concerned, it really was an assassination by unknown parties.
      • Actually, the book Sixth World Almanac did touch on this in the history section, with a fringe-sounding group theorizing that Dunkelzahn committed suicide, based on a video of him making arcane gestures shortly before the explosion that killed him.
    • Also true in-continuity. Megacorps control the media, and it's virtually impossible to get the truth out.
  • Can't Stop the Signal: Some of your contacts and Mr. Johnsons can be pirate stations that are dedicated to getting the truth out. These can vary from "The Underpants gnomes are stealing everyone's underwear" to "The Mega Corps dirty little secrets hour." Generally they can't pay you in cash, but information is almost as good if not better in the Sixth World.
  • Cast from Hit Points: When magicians cast spells with a Force greater than than their Magic rating, Drain does Physical damage instead of Stun. Also, some uses of Blood Magic.
  • The Cat Came Back: Using the Advance Residence rules this can happen with your apartment. No matter how many times you change the locks and passcodes and re-arm the traps, friends and family members keep getting into your apartment.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Trope Namer.
  • City of Adventure: Seattle, Hong Kong, LA, Neo-Toyko, Lagos, and the Insect Spirit infected ruins of Chicago.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: While magical power is itself an inborn trait, shamans and hermetic mages are strongly implied to derive their means to shape that power from belief; later supplements, especially Awakenings: New Magic in 2057, seem to make this even clearer, implying that one can base their magic on anything from ancient myths to the cartoons they watched growing up.
  • Combat Medic: Doc Wagon High Threat Response Teams and imitators are Combat Medics For Hire.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: The adventure Harlequin. The PCs are on a mission when things go haywire, with corporate police closing in from all directions. A van pulls up beside them and the driver says "So, are you guys going my way or would you rather stick around and wait for your new friends to catch up with us?"
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: The UCAS (United Canadian and American States)
  • Convulsive Seizures
  • Corrupted Data:
    • Supplement Virtual Realities
      • The Hog virus takes over the memory used by other files, causing them to crash.
      • Scramble IC will corrupt the file it's protecting to prevent it from being copied.
      • Short story "Virtual Realities". The "Matrix Born Project" file which was the source of the story was corrupted. An attempt is made to reconstruct it but was only 61% successful.
    • Several supplements mention that a computer file was corrupted by some kind of software attack, usually a virus or IC (defense program).
      • Corporate Shadowfiles. Aztechnology got into Shadowland and planted a virus that edited their entry in the title work.
      • Tir Tairngire. On five different occasions someone working for the title country got into Shadowland and corrupted or deleted files about it.
      • Threats. The Alamos 20,000 file was corrupted by a heavy viral attack before Shadowland received it.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: the upper management of pretty much any Mega Corp.
    • Lofwyr would eat you for saying that...
  • Crapsack World: It's Cyberpunk, what did you expect? That said, it's implied things are getting better, albeit slowly-the current century is sort of the "Age of Piracy", with multiple East India Trading Companies.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The only reason most Shadowrunners get away. It's said in the sourcebook by other Shadowrunners as long as you keep the damage down and not kill any guards, you get away scot free. Now, if you turn the building into a Michael Bay set and kill the guards nothing is going to keep you safe. Generally the more you cost them on damages or replacement personnel the more they ignore the cost of taking you down.
    • Also don't steal or do anything that make them want you dead no matter the cost. Reveal Aztechnology blood rituals or steal a set of the Renraku Red Samurai's signature armor, and they might just call down a Kill Sat on you.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: If you install enough cyberware and bioware (performance enhancing thing-a-ma-jigs ranging from computer eyeballs to nanites and so on) that you lose all your Essence, you die. That is, unless your Mega Corp of choice zombified you by intentionally overloading you with cyberware, but the subsequent necrosis, literal soul loss, suicidal tendencies, and cancer will force you to roll a new character two or three scenarios afterward under a sensible GM.
    • Or; you've figured out Cybermancy. Now you're a D&D lich with a phylactery stone protected by millions and millions of nuyen.
  • Cyberspace: It's even called the Matrix. In 4th edition, it's wireless! Better yet, it finally points out that cyberspace can look like anything its programmed to look like: Systems can use the default Tron-inspired iconography, but can be programmed to be anything; libraries with books for files and librarians for security to overgrown jungle ruins with treasures for files and angry natives for security. Deckers in turn can discard their Tron Lines for anything from underage wizards with wands and glasses to BFG-toting commandos. Which leads to the awesome possibilities of Rambo clones getting their asses kicked by librarians or teenage wizards disabling angry natives with butterscotch syrup.
    • Also Unwired mentioned that there are unwritten standards. It says that being a 50-foot dragon in a small tour bus won't crash the node but it causes a whole bunch of graphical glitches and it's just being rude.
  • Cyborg: Cybernetics are common, but the term "cyborg" in the Sixth World is reserved for... Something far less pleasant. Specifically, a cyborg is a metahuman brain implanted into a drone body, which is kept in a constant state of alert 16 hours a day by a cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters. Like cyberzombies (see below), making someone a cyborg is very rarely a consensual procedure, and since adult brains tend to develop severe psychoses more quickly, most corps just use the brains of children instead, since they tend to last longer.
  • Damage Reduction: Part of the system, everything has it.
  • Dan Browned: In-universe: the portrayal of magicians and adepts in popular media leaves the genuine practitioners either laughing or groaning.
    • In-Universe several of the Fast Jack posters say that this causes people to get angry at magic users when they can't do what they think they do.
      • Also literally in the case of the novel Black Madonna which like Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code is based on Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Pretty much what a goody two-shoes team of Shadowrunners will be. Also; though counted as Horrors, Spider Spirits run the gamut.
  • Data Crystal: Optical Crystals.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Practically everything, but mostly Justified due to the Rule of Fun. No one cares about physics when you're exploding heads with lightning bolts.
  • Divided States of America: The CSA, Quebec and California are back, plus many Native American states, but Canada joined with the remnants of the US more or less for convenience's sake, thus forming the United Canadian and American States. The Elves also have their own kingdom called Tir Tairngire.
  • Doppelganger Spin: The Double Image spell in Magic in the Shadows creates a single illusory double.
  • Dueling Games: The First Editions of this game and Cyberpunk were released at about the same time. Sci-fi purists pretty much stuck with Cyberpunk, but there was some degree of crossover appeal between the two. It can be argued that Shadowrun eventually won out (due to its books being a far more common sight on store shelves, and the near-total consensus of "It doesn't exist," from Cyberpunk fans regarding that game's Third Edition), but both games enjoy dedicated fanbases to this day.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Horrors
  • Elemental Embodiment: Several types
  • Electric Instant Gratification: Better-Than-Life chips.
    • Some elaboration: In the future, there is trideo (basically fifth or sixth-generation HDTVs), 3-D VR displays, and then chips which can be inserted into a datajack or other neural interface that, for all intents and purposes, puts you in the action. Actors whose works are recorded to chips must not only be in prime physical condition, but must have absolute mastery over their emotions, because both their physical and emotional experiences are recorded to be experienced by the "viewer". Legal chips have this capacity artificially limited, but BTL chips not only have these limits removed, but the sensory feedback jacked Up to Eleven, beyond even real life sensations. BTL chips are illegal not only because of their addictive qualities, but because an overdose of artificial sensation can sometimes be lethal. Can be considered the equivalent of snuff films today, with a side of heroin thrown in for kicks.
      • There are also actual snuff BTLs, recorded from the victim's perspective, which can very well kill the user as well.
  • Emotion Eater: The Horrors (who also appear in Earthdawn) and a monster in a Ka•Ge magazine short story.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Written into the rules as of the Aztlan sourcebook. PC Shadowrunners are professional criminals who may do anything from bodyguard work to assassination for cold hard nuyen, but if one chooses to learn Blood Magic, they are immediately turned into NPCs. Even shadowrunners don't do that kind of dirty.
  • Everything Is Online: The transition from 3rd to 4th Editions brought about a complete overhaul of the Matrix in which practically everything is wireless and governed by RFID tags.
    • Not just everything, but everyone. Unless you live in a total deadzone, you're likely to have at least a basic Commlink. A lot of High-Sec places require you to have one.
  • Expy: So, there's a guy on The Matrix who uses the handle "The Crawling Chaos" and is more concerned with finding out information about the various Horrors known to exist. Oh, Hell - IT'S NYARLATHOTEP!
  • The Face: Any character with a high Charisma and Social Skills like Etiquette, Interrogation, Leadership and Negotiation. There is usually one in every party and they are the ones that talk to and negotiate with your Johnson to make sure you don't get screwed. On the missions themselves, they serve as whatever the mission needs a smooth talker for: distraction, subterfuge, seduction, you name it.
  • Fan Boy: In-Universe several magic user say that Magic Fanboys are the worst because they will not leave the user alone and beg them to cast magic in a futile attempt to copy them and become a Ascended Fanboy.
  • Fantastic Racism: Elves against most everybody, humans against orks and trolls (though groups like Humanis Policlub will extend it to every metahuman type), Japanese, Native Americans, Non-Native Americans, and Aztlaners at each other's throats, and so on.
    • To be fair, most elves aren't racists. And the elven-ruled racist nations have effectively imploded in 4e, to the point where Tir Tairngire is now run collectively by a Great Dragon and an ork.
      • Just over half the population are racist in some way in 3rd edition. Every npc gets a racism stat of 2d6-6 (0 or less means not racist at all) and around 1/6th of all racists are biased against everyone not of their own race. Mostly this is just a bias though. It would be harder to persuade a shopkeeper to sell you a reserved item for example.
      • This isn't changed much for the PCs in 4th Edition. You can expect nearly every group to have a specific viewpoint on various races, though it's most notable in a bias for/against Orcs, Trolls, and assorted goblinoids. Usually, this takes the form of a penalty on social checks, though.
  • Fantastic Recruitment Drive: People with the ability to use magic are extremely rare. Schools, corporations and magical groups regularly test citizens (particularly children) for magical talent.
  • Fantastic Science
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Both male and female satyrs have large curling horns like a bighorn sheep. They're implied to be the Awakened version of the wild goat. Their saliva can ferment sugary liquids into alcohol.
    • In 4th, satyrs are metahuman; they're an Ork metavariant native to (naturally) Greece and other nearby Mediterranean countries.
  • Fictional Political Party: The U.S. is run by the Technocrat, Archconservative and New Century parties.
  • Five Races: Though the breakdown isn't quite the same as the classic five.
  • Gaia's Lament: Pollution and the side effects of magic have spoiled the Earth.
  • Gambit Pileup
    • Too damn many to count. Every country, Mega Corp, and two-bit astral spirit has a lot of irons in the fire. And then there's the dragons...
    • The circumstances leading to the Second Crash. To begin with, you have Novatech, the largest privately owned company in the world, gearing up for an IPO to solve their cash flow problems. In order to accommodate the massive amount of trading that's expected, the East Coast Stock Exchange upgrades their servers. Meanwhile, Deus, having been disassembled and stored in the heads of his cult members since fleeing the Renraku Archology, decides to take over the ECSE and use its facilities to compile and upgrade its code, giving it almost complete control over the Matrix. Meanwhile again, Winternight, a Scandanavian Luddite terrorist group, has obtained a number of nuclear warheads and has modified them to produce massive EMPs; with the help of a rogue member of Deus' Otaku cult, they have identified two dozen of the world's Matrix nodes. Disabling over half of these would bring down the Matrix permanently and send the world back to the dark ages. The same rogue Otaku also helps assemble a virus to be implanted directly in the ECSE servers to do the most damage. On the appointed day, Deus invades the ECSE, takes over, spreads itself worldwide, takes over dozens of other servers and forces them all to work at upgrading his code. At the same time, Megaera, another AI who had been battling in Deus' "subconscious", breaks free and attacks him. Meanwhile yet again, Mirage, the original AI who had served as Deus' and Maegera's source code, breaks into the ECSE servers to eliminate Deus. While they are battling, Winternight's Jormungand virus is triggered, along with a significant number of their EMP devices. Between the devices destroying vital Matrix nodes, the nigh-unstoppable virus, the battle and subsequent damage caused by three battling AIs, the damage done to the ECSE servers and dozens of others by Deus, and a Dissonance Pool created by the rogue Otaku to amplify everything else's effects, half in hopes of destroying Deus and half out of spite, the entire Matrix collapses.
      • If you didn't get all that, you're not to blame. For the Shadowrun movers and shakers, this was par for the course, the only difference being the collateral damage.
    • Also this can happen during a run too. One story got so tangled up that the runners gave up, shot everyone, and used the MacGuffin as a paperweight.
  • Genre Busting: It combines Tolkenesque fantasy with Classic Cyberpunk.
  • Ghost in the Machine: E-ghosts, after the Crash 2.0, and most notably Captain Chaos.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: English has picked up a lot of loanwords from Japanese. Justified, seeing how Japan took over the world.
  • The Great Politics Mess-Up: to its credit, the first edition of Shadowrun did predict the fall of the Soviet Union—but they predicted it in 2030.
    • This issue has been more or less solved in more recent editions by having the Shadowrun timeline explicitly deviate from our own in 1991. In Fourth Edition, the first true break is in 1999.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: On the Shadowrunner side, you have Hoods who steal from the rich and give to the poor and absolute psychopaths. On the Corp side, you have security guards who just want to feed their families and completely amoral bastards. Although the books obviously paint shadowrunners in a more sympathetic light, neither side is completely innocent by any means.
    • Lampshaded by a Shadowrunner in Runners Companion:

"Sometimes we do the right thing. Sometimes we shoot people in the face for money."

  • Groin Attack: The Weapon Specialist is depicted sitting in front of a picture which has been shot in the head, chest and groin.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Against anything supernatural—unless you have the right ammo. Vampiric and shapeshifter regeneration, for instance, can be crippled by ammunition made of a material they're allergic to (typically something ferrous or silver), and spirits' resistance to normal weapons can be bypassed in part by APDS rounds or "stick'n'shock" taser rounds - or completely by making the bullets from something dual-natured like metals mined from an Alchera.
  • Gun Kata: Ares Firefight is a martial art completely manufactured by a corp, wherein the practitioner kicks the crap out of people while holding a pistol in each hand. Which he uses. A lot.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Averted. Children of mixed-metatype couples will end up as one of their parent's metatypes, not a mixture of both. Although metagenes can occasionally throw everything for a loop: an orc mother and a human father can have a dwarf baby, for example.
    • Also anyone can have a plain human child. It is hinted that this is more common among parents of different metatypes.
  • "Happy Ending" Massage: Played with a sidebar in the Vice sourcebook. It tells a Runner how to disguise a illegal Magical healing operation as one of these. It recommends actually sleeping with the client only if you absolutely have to. The reason you have to do this is getting a license to magically heal people in most countries is harder and leaves a lot more paperwork (which is a very bad thing for a Shadowrunner) then getting a masseuse's license.
  • Happy Place: Lots and lots of people retreat from their depressing lives by using Simsense, to the point where Simsense addiction is more common than caffeine addiction.
    • Considering that coffee in that place is made of soy like everything else...
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Dunkelzahn set up his own assassination in order to Ascend to a higher plane so he could stop the Horrors from crossing over to our world. Of course it had its perks like functionally becoming a demi-god.
    • The net result of this is debatable at this juncture. Big D probably pulled the strings that set the adventure Harlequin's Back into motion, which bought Earth some 2,000 or so years. Harlequin makes a point that the Horrors won't be stopped by any action short of their utter annihilation.
    • Played more straight with Captain Chaos, who led a Matrix-based attack against the Jormungand virus in order to save the databases of Shadowland Seattle. He succeeded, but was unable to jack out and was about to be killed when Jack-Be-Nimble, a computer program gifted to him by Dunkelzahn, activated and saved his consciousness as data for later retrieval.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Your character if you burn all of your edge points to stay alive. Unlike most cases your character is near death and will need time to recover.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Not only that, but in a different way in every edition!
  • Human Sacrifice: Man, Aztechnology has some dirty secrets.
  • I Know Your True Name: Knowing a free spirit's true name allows it to be more easily summoned, controlled and banished.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Anyone infected with HMHVV (particularly the Kreiger strain, which creates Ghouls) will turn into some kind of monstrous, cannibalistic version of themselves.
  • In Name Only: The Xbox 360/PC adaptation was essentially a vehicle for an online, cross-platform multiplayer shooter with the Shadowrun name tacked on. Accordingly, setting elements such as All Deaths Final were discarded when they got in the way of making a multiplayer shooting game.
  • Intrepid Reporter: The reporters ("snoops") described in the Shadowbeat sourcebook.
  • Invaded States of America: What was Mexico invaded what was left of the United States.
  • Jack of All Trades: Jaguar totem shamans in the Aztlan supplement.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Everyone speaks Japanese and uses nuyen. Including Chinese territories.
  • Karma Meter: A version acts as the game's Experience Points.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: A Night's Work, the original Shadowrun promo from FASA.
  • Kill Sat: Thor shots and giant lasers in space.
  • Knockout Gas: The various Neurostun gasses are often used to take out shadowrunners without killing them.
  • Laser Hallway: Discussed in The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life.
  • Ley Line: The Mana/Dragon Lines.
  • Lighter and Softer - Surprisingly enough, during the transition from 3rd edition to 4th - it's still a cynical Cyberpunk game, and definitely Darker and Edgier than real life to be sure, but 4th edition shakes off the overly grunge-rock motifs of 3rd edition and actually mentions places where life doesn't suck.
    • Also Street Magic says that the Bill Of Rights is still alive and well in the CAS and UCAS. So they can't get a mage to mind probe you or copy your memories out of your implants because they violate the 5th Amendment. (For non US readers that prevents self-incrimination IE the police can't make you confess and testify against yourself.) However Mega Corps have no such limitations on their own property.
  • Like Cannot Cut Like: Monofilament wire and weapons to monofilament armor.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards x Shoot the Medic First/Squishy Wizard: Magic is the most powerful weapon available to most shadowrunners. Magic is the only way to heal serious wounds quickly. The most efficient means of making people more resistant to damage is Cybernetics, which Eats Your Soul. Result; the aphorism, "Geek The Mage First".
  • Little Useless Gun: Light and holdout pistols. Made a little more balanced in the 4th Edition.
  • Lord British Postulate: Harlequin has no stats explicitly because of this. The designers knew that "if you give it stats, they will kill it," and that by this point in the story arc, it was entirely possible that the players would want to give Harlequin what's coming to him, so for the sake of the module, they declared Harlequin to be completely invincible.
    • He has recently been statted-out in Street Legends Supplemental (that's the second Street Legends book, BTW), though his list of Knowledge skills is stated as being only partial and for his spells, it simply says that he has any spell available to him when needed. The rest of it (which is too long to go into detail here) certainly borders on game-breaking. Curiously, there's a bit of Fridge Brilliance with statting him now. Right above the statblock, in a long post by Jackpoint user Frosty (who seems to have been Harlequin's apprentice) states that the ritual at the end of the above-mentioned story-arc "took a lot out of him." So there's no lack of continuity - before the ritual, he was completely invincible, after, he was weakened to the point where a very dedicated team could bring him down - though with how many spells he has permanently sustained on himself at all times and how many he has quickened, any team trying to kill him is going to be in for one hell of a fight.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: Edge (Karma Pool in the first 2 editions), a stat which only Player Characters and Dragons have. It's not so much "luck" as it is the little extra something that lets runners get away with what they do. Dragons have it because Catalyst Game Labs are cheating bastards.
    • Well, Catalyst isn't the one who instituted it. The original SR and SR2 had Edge for dragons, and several Awakened critters. Without the Critters book, I can't confirm it, but IIRC, Edge is actually a Power available to all Awakened.
    • In earlier versions this was called a "Karma Pool", with NPC's having a "Professional Rating" and "Threat Rating".
    • In certain 4th Edition campaigns, anyone can have an Edge stat, if they're important enough to the story. It's just that Dragons can directly manipulate it.
  • Lured into a Trap: In the supplement Super Tuesday, adventure "Ghost Story". Fletcher Quinn lures the player characters to an abandoned sporting goods store with a faked message so he can blow them up with the bombs he's planted inside it.
  • The Magic Comes Back
  • Magical Database: Lots of these that range from the SIN Database (containing the identity, credit rating and purchasing history of every citizen of the UCAS... Well, legal citizens that is) to the Actually Magical Databases produced by MagicNet, MIT&T, and various other factions)
    • Fourth Edition actually details the methods and limitations of the SIN Database(s) for the first time, so while they are still extremely accurate, there are now cracks to slip through.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: The insect spirits in Chicago.
  • Mayincatec: Aztlan. Their corporations are even step-pyramids, and guards dress up like natives (with better armor, of course).
    • Lampshaded in the Aztlan sourcebook, which calls out the Aztlan upper class's pretentious claims of being proud and noble Mayincatecs: in reality, most of them are ethnic Spanish, while the true indigenous population is poor and exploited.
  • Meaningful Name: Mayoral spokeswoman Lotte Krapp in the Neo-Anarchists' Guide to North America supplement.
  • Mega Corp: Let's just say that there are 10 main corporations, and they're all more powerful than any of the national governments, and leave it at that.
  • Mental Fusion
  • Mexico Called. They Want Texas Back.: The country formerly known as Mexico invades and conquers large chunks of Confederate Texas and independent California.
  • More Dakka: The average character uses an assault rifle. The Weapon Specialist premade character, on the other hand, carries "Combat Axe; 2 Katanas; Medium Crossbow w/20 Bolts; 10 Throwing Knives; 10 Shuriken; 10 Fragmentation Grenades; Ares Predator IV [w/Quick Draw Holster and 10 clips of Explosive Ammo]; Yamaha Sakura Fubuki [w/ Smartlink, Concealable Holster, and 80 rounds of Regular Ammo]; Walther MA-2100 [w/4 clips Regular Ammo]; Aztechnology Striker ( a rocket launcher); Survival Knife; Stun Baton."
    • However, even with all that arsenal she (a female Arabian elf according to the illustration and skills) gets only two shots or one melee attack per turn, at abysmal dice pools.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: In the Combat Biker game the Lancebiker player carries a 2 meter long lance that he can use against other players.
  • Mysterious Employer: Known in the business as "Mr. Johnson" or as just a "Johnson".
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Great Ghost Dance, which would have given the Horrors the means to invade Earth some 2,000 years ahead of schedule. The adventure Harlequin's Back centers on fixing this.
    • Also, the first novel trilogy saw Sam Verner unleash the Spider bug-spirit into the world ahead of schedule as he was searching for a cure for Janice.
  • Neural Implanting: Skillsofts are chips that can be inserted into implanted slots in the head to give characters skills.
  • No FEMA Response: In Bug City, after insect spirits are discovered infesting Chicago and possessing its citizens, most of the city is sealed off to prevent them from escaping. Ares is the only responder, and the Ares Bug War is the setting of one of the books and is alluded to in many a character background.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: In the Augmentation sourcebook they added a rule called Essence pool. It means that if you remove an implant, you don't get the essence back, but any future implants that don't go over the Essence pool limit don't cost you any more Essence. Before, you could kill yourself just by replacing your arm enough times.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Pueblo Corporate Council was founded openly as one, and Aztechnology's dominant position in Aztlan is actually written into a classified section of that nation's constitution.
  • Online Alias: Decker use mysterious and cool names if they're established and competent and ridiculous and common aliases if they're newbies.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: They have horse-like faces instead of human.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: They're a Troll metavariant native to Germany, Central Europe, and Scandinavia, and have varied in appearance as the editions marched on—currently they're extremely tall and very human-like as trolls go, but with skin having a leathery, almost bark-like appearance.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Caused by a virus, with a different flavor for every race.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Light sensitive and something of the intelligent Romero type. They are created by jellyfish from the "Deep Metaplanes" that possess corpses and seek to kill everything. Also, Ghouls, which are created by an alternate strain of the same virus that creates vampires.
  • Overt Rendezvous: Many of the adventures published for the game have runners meeting with their Mr. Johnson in public places such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
  • Par Kourier
  • Partial Transformation: Wolfgang Kies in Michael Stackpole's Wolf and Raven short story "If as beast you don't succeed".
  • Petting Zoo People: SURGE from the passing of Halley's Comet late in 3rd Edition caused animal traits to manifest in certain people, called Changelings. It's mentioned that "cute" Changelings, such as cat-people, can use it to their advantage, while more radically-transformed Changelings - derogatorily called furries - are subject to discrimination.
    • Or, you become The Matron and wind up clearing out a good section of Chicago... with sentient spiders. Not just any spiders, either, but black widow spiders. That now make up the world's largest undetectable observation network.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Occurs in the short story "Balance" in Shadowland magazine #6.
  • Pirate Parrot: Belonging to the pirate Captain Monday of Moro Bay in the supplement California Free State. It may be an Awakened creature called an "eyekiller".
  • Point Build System: the most complicated part of the game, at least in the 4th Edition.
  • The Pornomancer: Trope Namer. The term is slang for Social Adepts built to throw around 50 dice at any social roll, where ordinarily, an utter grand master of a skill won't get past 25 dice.
  • Private Detective: Dirk Montgomery is a classic example. In addition, the hard boiled Noir detective is a Player Character archetype.
    • Except that Archetpye also has Magic skills. So you're Harry Dresden.
  • Quick Draw: The Quick Draw action in 2nd Edition.
  • Rashomon Style: The end part of Runners Companion has a Rashomon-like story at the end. It shows how a run is ordered, from the briefing, to the run itself and to the poor wage slave whose work is being deleted, to the end.
    • Also they show one bounty hunter that is annoyed by a cop, to the cop's perspective where all she wants to do is throw the guy to the ground and have her way with him.
  • Razor Floss: Monofilament wires.
  • Red Alert: When a DocWagon Crisis Response Team responds to a "Code Blue" alert.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Several examples.
  • Ridiculously-Human Robots: Otomo drones, no doubt being a Shout-Out to RoboCop.
  • Rule of Cool: Monofilament CHAINSAWS
  • Ruthless Modern Pirates: Kane "the most notorious man in the CAS" is wanted in over 17 countries for piracy. his entries in Jackpoint tend to involve colourful boasts about the people he has killed, ships he has successfully destroyed/ survived/ added to his fleet and the profit he makes from both the slavetrade and organlegging. the organs are provided in their... original packaging. he has expressed a fondness for submarines and excessively large ships.
  • Scaramanga Special: The Century 220ZX light pistol in Ka•Ge magazine Volume 1 Issue 12.
  • Scary Scorpions: The Scorpyrine in Paranormal Animals of Europe.
  • Schizo-Tech: When you mix Cyberpunk with magic, this is bound to happen.
  • Screwed by the Network: At one point, it looked like Catalyst Game Labs was going to lose the license due to an executive embezzling $850,000 from the company. (Article here.) Several authors left the line, and books were delayed, but the game itself continues.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money: All AAA Mega Corps get this when they reach AAA status. All of their property is now a nation onto itself and anything they says goes. However this can backfire when you steal something, from say, Aztechnology and then escape into a factory owned by Ares. This means they can't crossover without starting one hell of a intercorporate incident
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Horrors. Cthon in the Genesis Game.
    • The Horrors are a variant of this. They're actually Evil Without A Bridge To Cross, as they aren't actually sealed in any way.
  • Self-Destructing Security: The Scramble IC program is often used to protect computer datastores with valuable information. If a decker tries to break through the Scramble and fails, it will overwrite the stored information with random characters, rendering it worthless.
  • Sentry Gun
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: The macuitl sword in the Aztlan supplement.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: Mentioned in an article in Shadowland magazine #5.
  • Sharpened to A Single Molecule: Monomolecular axes that possess a monofilament edge capable of cutting through virtually anything. They tend to lose their edge quickly though. In later editions, other bladed weapons can be outfitted with a monofilament edge. There's also a monofilament whip, noted by 'in character' reviews to be as big a threat to the user as to a potential enemy.
  • Shoulder Cannon: Available as cyberware.
  • Shout Out: Multiple examples
  • Shrug of God: Reading in between the lines in the Flashjack parts of the books seems like this. At one point the Flashjack users are wondering if an EMP would trigger a Cortex Bomb or would permanently disable it. We never get a clear outcome so it's up to the GM to decide.
  • Skeleton Key: There are several devices in the game that can bypass electronic locks.
  • A Simple Plan: Probably the scariest words any runner can hear is "It'll be easy."
  • Society Marches On: Some of the older products contain odd examples of this, particularly Shadowbeat, which features things like wrestling dying out as entertainment by the 2010s, professional sports becoming co-ed rather than launching womens' leagues, and a complete absence of blogging as an alternative to network-disseminated news.
  • Sociopathic Hero: This would be you. I.e., the PCs. In some cases, not really a hero.
  • Space Is Magic: Inverted. It's more like Space Is A Complete Lack Of Magic - there's no Mana up there, so magic doesn't function, and Awakened characters tend to get antsy, to say the least.
  • Spike Shooter: The Volleying Porcupine can fire its quills at opponents.
  • Steampunk: Steampunk clothing is popular in the cyberpunk world of 2073. Wrap your head around that.
  • Street Samurai: A common character archetype.
  • Stuffed Into the Fridge: A minor character named Shoot-to-Kill is reputed to have done this after an argument led her boyfriend to go back to an ex. For bonus points she left him a love letter. He came back.
  • Submarine Pirates: Cyberpirates. Some pirate gangs use submarines to attack and loot surface ships.
  • Super Human Trafficking: Of Drakes.
  • Super Reflexes: Available to characters with enhanced reflexes, either via cybernetics, spells, or adept abilities.
  • Swiss Army Weapon: The AUG-CSL Weapon System in the 1E/2E Street Samurai Catalog.
    • And its 4E replacement, the HK XM 30 Weapon System.
    • Literally, the Victorinox Memory Blade in 4E. It's manufactured by the modern-day manufacturers of the Swiss Army Knife.
  • Take That: Shadowrun: Gibson Edition, the April Fool's joke for 2010. For some background, William Gibson has infamously stated he hates this game.

The Mayans’ Sixth World was ushered in not by the end of days, or the powering of ley lines, mana storms, or dragons, but rather the release of a new cutting-edge novel set in the near future by a totally fictional author named, um, Guilluame Gybsonne.

  • Technology Marches On: Updates retconned in advancements in Real Life technology which hadn't been foreseen in previous editions, such as computers going wireless.
  • Technopath: 3rd Edition's Otaku and their Technomancer successors in 4E.
  • Theme Naming: Three humanoid drone models designed for housing cyborg brains are named after manga authors: Akiyama is a lightweight scout and assassin, Otomo is a Ridiculously Human Robot and Tomino is a heavy assault drone.
  • There Are No Good Executives: Played straight with almost every corporation, but seemingly averted with Horizon. Horizon actually appears to give a crap about their employees, and develops products that benefit metahumanity rather than attempt to control it. They're also nice to the runners they hire, which has led some younger runners to consider Horizon to be the "good" Mega Corp. More savvy runners, however, are creeped the hell out by this, and conclude that Horizon needs to be up to something nefarious. Later 4e supplements, starting with the aptly-named Twilight Horizon, reveal that yes, Horizon really were just Villains With Good Publicity.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: Darts loaded with Narcoject or Neurostun.
  • Trans Nature: Elves are a subrace of humanity. Some normal humans are "elf wannabees" who want to be elves, and sometimes use plastic surgery to make themselves more elf-like. They're usually looked down upon by real elves.
    • And then, there are "ork wannabes". Real orks' opinions on them are varied; some orks hate them, others will accept posers if they're orky enough.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: The Triads are in control of what bits of Hong Kong the corps aren't. In Seattle, the Yakuza is at war with them.
  • Un-Equal Rites
  • Underboobs: Illustrations in The Neo-Anarchists' Guide to Real Life and Magic in the Shadows.
  • Underground Railroad: In the Aztlan supplement, the Aztlan Freedom League helps refugees from Aztlan escape to the Confederated American States.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The earlier editions used terms like "frag" and "drek" and others for the standard cusswords. In Fourth Edition, it's toned down a little, but you're still going to blank a few slots before the day's done, chummer.
  • Vampiric Draining: Many Awakened creatures have the Essence Drain ability, which allows them to drain Essence (life/magical energy) in order to restore the Essence they lose due to their Essence Loss weakness.
  • Vaporware: Equinox, a proposed Space Opera sequel set in the Eighth World.
  • Vicious Cycle: The Horrors return to Earth every few thousand years.
  • Victory by Endurance: The barghest uses its fear-causing howl to drive its prey for long distances until they are exhausted and it can close in for the kill.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Aztechnology is known as one of the cuddliest, nicest corps around as far as the public know. The shadows know that they're Complete Monsters who mess with blood magic, bug spirits, and Horrors that feed off pain and fear.
  • Virtual Ghost: Ghosts in the machine, people who were logged in during Crash 2.0 and had their minds trapped in the Matrix.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Hey, corps make weapons too. May as well ensure that the market's healthy.
  • We Have Reserves: Killed a CEO of a Trip-AAA? Don't worry, there's thirty other CEOs-in-waiting that will take his or her place.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: Cranial bombs are very, very nasty - one's integral to the plot of the SNES game.
    • They're bad if you get a cranial bomb stuck in your head. They can be handy if you can find a trustworthy surgeon (good luck!) and have one wired to go off when you want it to. This is great for being a terrorist getting captured and holding everyone around you hostage (your mileage may vary with your willingness to actually blow yourself up), or having a Dead-Man Switch that makes everyone want to keep you alive.
      • Unfortunately, the so-called "cranial nuke" is just an area bomb. You can't be Raven without the sidecar.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity/Power Born of Madness: Madness Mages. It's never explained if they went mad because of their powers, got powers from their madness, or were insane when they got their powers. No matter what it's a bad idea to mess with them. One reason is because they are insane and you have no idea how they will react. Another is that their powers and spirits are twisted by their madness so you have no idea what they're even doing.
  • Wretched Hive: Pretty much every city, especially the poorer sections; the default setting, Seattle, has the Barrens. Lagos is the worst.
    • The Denver: The City of Shadows boxed set described The Warrens this way.
    • El Infierno (part of Los Angeles) in the California Free State supplement.
      • Until the twin earthquakes and subsequent flood of 2069 described in 4th Edition's Corporate Enclaves supplement. Then, It Got Worse: two thirds of the LA sprawl are now flooded and demon-possessed corpses often lurk in the ruins. Also, the water is extremely toxic and inhabited by all kinds of nasty fauna. Including giant sharks.
    • Chicago is a literal example, being infested with Insect Spirits.
    • 4th Edition introduces the Kowloon Walled City of Hong Kong. It's so horrifically bad that even the insect spirits can't get a foothold there - the Yama Kings eat them. Yes, I said the Yama Kings. The only insect spirit that's gotten a chance is the Ebony Queen Vam Ly.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Multiple examples, all involving dragons.
  • Yakuza: They're pretty damn successful, too. By accident, a Yakuza front company actually began making more money through legitimate business than crime, and eventually became one of the more famous Triple-A corps.
    • And in true Mega Corp style, Mitsuhama Computer Technologies has thanked its Yakuza progenitors by largely forgetting that they exist, except for doing them the occasional minor favor. As the Corporate Shadowfiles supplement put it, "Why should the directors of MCT risk a multi-billion nuyen corporation to help beef up a multi-million nuyen crime syndicate?"
  • You Have to Have Jews: Almost thoroughly averted in the Seattle Sourcebook -- within this volume you can find listings for any number of Asian, European, Native American and Elven eateries, but not one kosher deli or bagel joint.
  • Your Head Asplode: Cranial bombs and Manabolt.
  • Your Heart's Desire: The Desire Reflection power of certain Awakened creatures.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Justified: In The Matrix, most legitimate users use Cold ASIST, which is noticeably better than current state-of-the-art interfaces and just as safe to use. High-end users such as deckers and computer security people use Hot ASIST, a form of Synchronization which turns them into Technopaths while making it possible to fry each other's brains with combat software.
  • Zeerust: The game updates itself every few years to reflect current technological advances. This has the side effect of making the Sixth World's technological advances appear simultaneously hyper futuristic and five years out of date.
  • Zombie Advocate: There are a few groups fighting for the rights of Ghouls, but to be fair, not all Ghouls are cannibals. The ones that are are usually either feral or just plain evil.