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T Abletop Game: Shadowrun
Where Man meets Magic and Machine.

"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 that straddles the Cyber Punk and Dungeon Punk genres.

It's set Twenty Minutes into the Future (first edition in 2050, second edition in 2053, third in 2060, fourth in 2070, and fifth in 2075), 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 purists to no end (due to the system's blend of cyberpunk with fantasy species and tropes). Video game adaptations of the setting were made for both the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo in the 90's. The two 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. Another adaptation, a team-based FPS 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 started getting funding via Kickstarter and exceeded its $400,000 goal in just 28 hours, making $1,889,416 total. Called Shadowrun Returns, it was produced by FASA founder and Shadowrun co-creator Jordan Weisman and released on July 25th, 2013.

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 Vapor Ware.

Has a Character Sheet.


This game contains examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: When Dunkelzahn was killed at his Presidential inauguration, the plot appears to have been part of a tie-in to the Big D preventing the Horrors (from Earthdawn) from returning. While this story is still basically assumed to be canon, ever since the publisher split from Earthdawn it hasn't really been referenced.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: More subtle then most examples but this happens a lot when Technomancers first emerge. At least one fixed up her motorcycle before realizing that her commlink was off.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: Multiple examples in multiple supplements.
  • 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 latter one being the big, bad kind of AI). All of them were extremely powerfull entities but all of them vanished in Crash 2.0 which ended the 3rd edition. In the 4th Edition, starting 2070, lesser AIs 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 AIs. 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.
  • Alien Space Bats: two small ones and one big one;
    • In 1999, the Supreme Court grants certain major corporations the right to form private armies as "ex post facto" justification for ending a vicious food riot with a massacre instead of permitting the rioters to accidentally start an outbreak by eating hazardous medical waste. It's implied that the "Seretech Decision" was planned in advance from riot to lawsuit, because it's kind of stupid to transport hazardous medical waste through Manhattan during a food riot...
    • Especially because the same year, the NRC was forced to give another corporation its own nuclear power plant rather than be accused of graft. And the corporation was able to spin an ecoterrorist attack on the plant into nationhood(the "Shiawase Decision") by saying they'd have been able to protect the place better with mercenaries instead of local cops. And an attempt by the ecoterrorist group to clear their name is interrupted by a bombing believed to be the first shadowrun.
    • The real ASB is when The Magic Comes Back in 2011...
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Of the Mega Corps Ares is this. Sure they smuggle guns, start wars to increase business, and run the private police but they aren't bring about the End Of The World through blood rituals like Aztechnology or trying to do a Assimilation Plot like Horizon. They also fought against the Insect Spirits in Chicago. And now use captured Bug Queens to make fleshform insect spirits usuable as guard critters.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: All but outright enforced on Player Characters before the 4th Edition. (Good) Karma is necessary to improve your character, and you can either earn it by doing sufficiently significant good deeds, or buying it outright. (Representing philanthropy and good works to offset the harm you cause) Fourth Edition took the Karma Meter aspect out of Karma and put it into Notoriety.
  • 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
  • Almighty Janitor: Somewhat. At least one supplement points out that bribing the underpaid janitors and rent-a-cops at buildings can make a run a lot easier.
  • Alternate Continuity: the 2007 videogame - according to the developers/ The Other Wiki, it should be considered Shadowrun In Name Only.
  • Alternate History: The Sliding Scale of Alternate History Plausibility starts at 2 (Warren E. Burger doesn't retire from the US Supreme Court in 1986 and Ronald Reagan throws George H.W. Bush under the bus during Iran-Contra; the first Alt!POTUS is Michael Dukakis) and steadily climbs the scale: two SCOTUS decisions allow private corporations to maintain private armies and nuclear power plants; the US sells Native reservations to corporations exploit their resources, provoking a civil war; a pandemic kills about a quarter of the world's population; and then The Magic Comes Back.
  • The Alternet: The Matrix was retconned to be implemented after the Crash of 2029 destroyed the internet. In 2064 another Crash destroyed the wired Matrix and a wireless mesh Matrix was built.
  • Amusing Injuries: Taking the Cursed disadvantage causes this with a character's magic. Rule wise 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.
  • And I Must Scream: Personasofts override the user's mind while active. If they malfunction, the user may be stuck watching his body do what the p-soft tells it. It's bad enough if the p-soft is a benign one, but bunraku p-softs are unpleasant for their users.
  • 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.
  • Arbitrary Minimum Range: Some grenade launcher projectiles don't detonate until they travel a minimum distance after firing to protect the user from being blown up by their own grenade, but also prevents the use of the weapon at close range.
  • Artifact Collection Agency: the Mystic Crusaders. take a wild guess who they REALLY are...
  • 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.
  • Backpack Cannon: The Ballista Multi-Role Missile Launcher, which is also an Awesome Backpack.
  • Bad Boss: Saeder-Krupp's CEO Lofwyr (the great dragon of the setting after Dunkelzahn) is notoriously thin-skinned about being Out-Gambitted (which is difficult but possible) or failure in his organization, and micro-manages practically every aspect of his company from the bottom up. These tendencies are so well-known that only very stupid, very daring or very desperate runners accept jobs that involve Saeder-Krupp in any way.
  • 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 Divided States of America 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.
      • Also at least one books mentions that despite thousands of cameras watching you maybe 5 percent of them even get a decent look at you. Even then due to Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain it's not uncommon or specious to see someone wearing a hat, AR glasses, and a respirator. Even then if they manage to get a good look at your face it's still really hard to identify someone.
    Lone Star Officer: "Oh look another 20 something Caucasian human. Not like we get a thousand of them a week."
    • Taken to the extreme in Manhattan, where it is a crime to not be broadcasting your SIN at all times, and there are sensors specifically set up to find people who are not broadcasting. It's also the one place where "corporate secrecy" is trumped by the "common good": if Manhattan Inc asks for security footage from a corporation, they are required to comply. Needless to say, it makes life difficult (some would say fun) for Shadowrunners.
  • Big Good: Harlequin and Dunkelzahn fill this role, despite being as ethically-questionable as anyone else in this setting. They're the only ones who seem to be playing the long game against the Horrors, at any rate.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Certain Awakened creatures have thermographic (infrared) vision, including dwarves, trolls, dragons, vampires, centaurs, cerberus hounds, and fomorians.
  • 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 and played straight in several sourcebooks.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Latent Awakening quality. Why? The Gamemaster 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: Street Magic points out that insect spirits 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. Otaku didn't need cyberdecks to access the Matrix (but still needed ASIST tech and a 'jack), and their successors, technomancers, don't need any tech at all.
  • Brain in a Jar: What the game describes as "cyborgs" are scooped brains modified to function essentially like wetware drone computers. The books say that adult brains are less accepting of the radical change in sensory input and tend to go nuts; corps that want functional and loyal cyborgs resort to scooping the brains of children.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Nearly all transactions in the developed Sixth World are electronic, so the literal version of this trope is almost nonexistent outside places that don't have reliable Matrix access or recognize the nuyen as valid currency. Untraceable financial transactions are now made with certified credsticks, internationally-recognized bearer bond equivalents. Depending on the grade, a credstick can carry up to a million nuyen, usable by whomever holds it. Shadowrunners regularly receive these for their services and demonstrates fairly well why bearer bonds are so rare and regulated in Real Life.
  • 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.
    • Another one is that in one supplement someone got a Horizon spam virus onto Jackpoint. The next supplement has FastJack say how he finally managed to get rid of it and that the person responsible has been found and banned.
  • 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.
  • Call Forward: The 4th edition Shadowrun 2050 sourcebook, applying recent rules to an earlier setting. Some of the commentary and chatter is especially interesting in light of later plot elements, like Dunkelzahn's election, the Bug City outbreak, and learning who "The Laughing Man" is.
  • Canon Discontinuity: A lot of 1st Edition novels, especially Dunklezahn's death.
  • 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." Of course this is the Sixth World so the first is probably true and the second is a plant by another Mega Corp. 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.
  • Church of Happyology: Both straight and inverted. You see, the original Church of Happyology is all about removing alien spirits that possess you. The Universal Brotherhood is about putting alien bug spirits that possess you into you. That eat your flesh and want to take over and eat the entire world.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: After the return of magic to the world, the stone circles (and other places of power) regained their mystic potency, including being able to boost the power of magicians who knew how to use them.
  • City of Adventure
    • Seattle, Hong Kong, LA, Neo-Tokyo, Lagos, and the Insect Spirit infected ruins of Chicago.
    • Also Denver and New York City (well, Manhattan, anyway. The other four boroughs haven't really been fleshed out all that well). Ironically, the ENTIRE STATE of Montana had a sourcebook written up by fans, created entirely from bits of fluff found in the official books, in case you wanted to see what the NAN was all about. Like, how it's the only place on Earth that actually creates the base materials for orichalcum. Would've been nice to have had that, FASA...
    • For those wondering: The Horrors that did get through have been seen near the start of the Badlands in the Eastern part of the state, Billings is the last site of free trade in the world, the Mystic Crusaders are actively seeking Thor's Hammer, minor dragons exist all over Yellowstone, Great Falls AFB, as in "We fire the 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles laid all over Montana from here!" is under the control of Lofwyr through bartering with the NAN and, to make it absolutely perfectly crappy, if you're Scandinavian you just might express UGE by becoming either an Aesir (a literal angel, forsaking your physical body to ascent to the Astral Plane) or, A Frost Giant! Like Thrym! Which means phenomenal cosmic power, magical abilities, 12' feet tall and double-digit body and strength stats!... and an allergy to anything over freezing point.
      • To make the point: SEATTLE IS PARADISE!
  • 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.
  • Cloning Body Parts: It is possible for characters to receive replacement body parts or bioware that are specifically clone-grown for them. There are also mass-produced "Type O" transplants produced from the cells of one Owen Whiting who lacks the proteins that trigger immune reactions.
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.: The UCAS (United Canadian and American States).
  • 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?"
  • Convulsive Seizures: People afflicted with TLE-x (temporal lobe epilepsy with complications) suffer these. It most commonly occurs in people with move-by-wire implants, which jack up the body's reflexes by putting it into a constant state of seizure regulated by the implant, allowing the user to act inhumanly fast when necessary. Problem is, as time goes on, the implant's ability to control the seizure state diminishes. Therapy and implant upgrades can alleviate the symptoms, but currently the only sure way to fix the problem is to remove the implant (and even then there may still be permanent damage). The disorder can also occur in people who have too many cyber-implants, or those whose nervous systems have been damaged by drugs, toxic chemicals, lethal computer software, or magic.
  • Cop Killer: In the novel Lone Wolf, deep-cover gang investigator Wolf Larson is listed as one as part of his cover identity, to enhance his credibility with the Cutters street gang he's infiltrated. This backfires when he loses contact with his handler and needs to get word to authorities quickly, as he's afraid any other cop he contacts may retaliate against him as soon as they look up his "criminal history."
  • Corporate Warfare: The primary source of income for shadowrunners.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The upper management of pretty much any Mega Corp..
    • Lofwyr would eat you for saying that, thereby proving the truth of your accusation.
  • 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.
  • 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) to 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: Armor increases the dice pool for damage soak tests. Different types of ammunition have better or worse armor penetration values.
  • Dan Browned: In-universe: the portrayal of magicians and adepts in popular media leaves the genuine practitioners either laughing or groaning. Several of the JackPoint posters say that this causes people to get angry at magic users when they can't do what they think they do.
    • 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.
    • Also present and more dangerous for technomancers — things that portray them as being able to disable all electronics in a several-block radius with little more than a thought do not help with the perception that they're dangerous, unnatural beings that need to be either controlled or exterminated.
  • 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.
    • The Street Magic sourcebook points out that a toxic mage or a necromancer is not inherently evil; in-between the lines, it says that any player trying to run these better role play it well.
  • Data Crystal: Optical crystals.
  • Disposable Vagrant: Targets of the Universal Brotherhood, corporations, and Tamanous organleggers
  • 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 kingdoms called Tír Tairngire and Tír na nÓg.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: The Double Image spell in Magic in the Shadows creates a single illusory double.
  • Dragon Hoard: The collective wealth of the dragon Dunkelzahn constitutes a hoard, and his comments indicate that dragons in general tend to accumulate them, whether they want to or not (it's described as a matter of collecting representations of their long memories and pasts). Dunkelzahn makes the rather unusual decision to compose a will dividing and bequeathing his hoard in the event of his death.
  • Drone Deployer: The Drone Rigger archetype, who uses various drones to aid him/her and the team during missions. Also serves as the team's driver.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Horrors.
  • Electric Instant Gratification: Entertainment in the Sixth World includes trideo (functional three-dimensional video) and simsense (recordings of a person's senses and emotions). Simsense actors have to have complete control over their emotions to maintain the audience's suspension of disbelief. Organized crime has discovered a way to jack up simsense outputs and create "Better-than-Life" programs that give the user near-perfect escapism at the cost of addiction, neurological damage, and sudden death. Anything that a person can do can be recorded into a BTL; there are snuff BTLs out there, recorded from either the killer or the victim's perspective. It goes without saying that the latter are often fatal to the user.
  • Electronic Eyes: These are some of the most common augmentations on the market; anybody can get cybereyes that can see, record, and play back spectra outside metahuman normal. Many brands offer cybernetic ocular implants of the buyer's choice, with Zeiss being at the real high-end of the technological scale.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Several types.
  • Emotion Eater: The Horrors (who also appear in Earthdawn) and a monster in a Ka•Ge magazine short story.
  • Epistolary Novel: Many sourcebooks read this way, as they're about 90% narrative postings and commentary from users on Shadowlands or JackPoint, with occasional short stories and patches of Scrapbook Story in between, and a short index of rule information at the end.
  • Equipment-Based Progression: Character progression through equipment/ money (gear) and experience (karma) are equally important. There's actually an exchange rate that Game Masters can use as a guide to convert between the two when deciding how to reward players for their quests. This is unusual in table top games in that gear is a formalized part of the progression system, with the same importance as skills.
    • It depends on what you're playing, as well. For technomancers and magicians, there isn't a lot that can be done with money, since better hacking skills and spells are paid for in karma and cybernetics hurt them much more than it helps. On the other hand, hackers have a lot more use for money to buy programs and cybernetics, so karma is much less useful.
  • Equivalent Exchange: It's pretty much officially established that, at a minimum, the Great Ghost Dance messed up the entire North American weather system for decades. And see also Nice Job Breaking It, Hero below.
  • 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-security places require you to have one.
      • Wasn't all that different in 2nd and 3rd, actually; most people were hooked into the net one way or another.
      • In the 5th edition, seeing that the free, wireless Matrix does them more harm than good, the Megacorps took harsh control of it. From the POV of the Average Joe, this mostly means you have to pay a little more for the service; for shadowrunners (both in-game and out), though, this is a near-complete return to the days where you have to bring in very experienced specialists using highly specialized hacking equipment, both of whom are named after the deckers and cyberdecks of yore.
  • Evil Pays Better: The mission reward table in Fifth Edition has a "Run will make you a cold-hearted bastard" entry that modifies the cash reward by up to twenty percent. Conversely, the "Run has good feelings as part of its reward" entry reduces the cash by up to twenty percent.
  • 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!
    • Also with the about three points of Essence, and the right skills, you can make the Adept version of Bullseye.
  • 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.
  • False Flag Operation: Many. The PCs ought to expect to take part in at least one during their careers. To name two: the "TerraFirst! attack" on Shiawase's private nuclear reactor was likely staged to justify Shiawase's private army (the subsequent US Supreme Court ruling set the groundwork for corporate extraterritoriality) and Alamos 20K brought down the Sears Tower and pinned it on metahumans retaliating for the Night of Rage.
  • Fanboy: In-universe: several magic users 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 Ascended Fanboys.
  • 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.
  • Feel No Pain: A person with a pain editor bioware implant will be completely unaware of their injuries and won't fall unconscious from non-lethal trauma (in game terms, they ignore wound penalties from Stun damage). In fact, they have to examine themselves or consult a biomonitor to realize how badly they're injured; the implant's effects also extend to the sense of touch.
  • Fictional Sport: Shadowbeat includes full descriptions of the new Sixth World sports of Combat Biker and Urban Brawl, as well as information about how cyberware has revolutionized boxing, baseball, basketball, and (especially!) American football.
  • 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.
  • The Fixer: No contact list is complete without one. Fixers can often provide common threads for new runner teams, and most veteran ones know several.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Meat is a delicacy, so most settle for krill and similar mass breeding creatures. Soy products are mentioned often, but the cheapest food available is stated to be Mycoprotein - and over half the population wistfully speaks of fresh fruit and vegetables. Lampshaded at one point in an early book when a character reacts to seeing 'artificial cheese substitute'.
  • Gaia's Lament: Pollution and the side effects of magic have spoiled the Earth.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: This is subtly implied to be why nuclear fission reactors have a marked tendency to melt down since the Awakening.
  • Gambit Pileup
    • Too damn many to count. Every country, megacorp, 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 apocalypse cult, has obtained a number of nuclear warheads and has modified them to produce massive EMPs; with the help of a rogue member of Deus's 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's "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 and a significant number of their EMP devices trigger. Between the devices destroying vital Matrix nodes, the nigh-unstoppable virus, the 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.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: In-story, Technomancer powers explicitly aren't magic and don't follow the same rules magic does, but mechanically Technomancer powers work very much like magic, except in the Matrix instead of reality, because it makes things more streamlined and easier for players and GMs to manage.
  • Genre-Busting: It combines Tolkenesque fantasy with Classic Cyber Punk.
  • 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 later 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: Partially played straight in that a single gunshot is never enough to kill anyone, unless you draw out a sniper rifle and a 10+ dice pool: Depending on calibre guns deal about 7-12 damage per shot and most people have at least 10 health levels before armour is accounted for. Apart from that hiccup the trope is averted: An optimised melee sammy or adept with a katana or an axe will out-damage a gun user on a per-attack basis, but melee weapons can't burst-fire. It takes a specialised build to make melee anywhere near as viable as gunnery, and melee focused character usually have to watch out for incoming gunfire even if they're more damaging blow by blow.
    • Played straight in combat against spirits and other purely magical critters, who are almost immune to non-magical damage. Since guns can never be used as weapon foci, you need to pack seriously hefty firepower to even put a dent into a spirit, and even then the mage will outdamage you without even trying.
  • 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) than 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. Oh, and one more thing to bear in mind: The last time the Horrors came through during Earth Dawn, they drove Gods insane.
    • 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.
    • One simsense star talk about how she and her cast and crew were filming on the coast when the Twin Earthquakes of 2069 hit. They saw the water go out. The two special effects mages there pretty much burned themselves out getting as many people up the cliffs before the tsunami hit. For bonus points she watched them get washed away and her simsense recording implants were still on.
  • 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.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Potentially done to the still alive (but goblinized) British Royal Family.
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: In the fan-written supplement called "Better Living (and Dying) Through Chemistry", The Awakened (magical) version of peyote allows the user to astrally perceive and project as if they were a mage, and gives bonuses for the use of magical skills, thus allowing them to act as if they understood magic better.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Not only that, but in a different way in every edition!
  • Home Field Advantage: Many examples.
    • Shadowrun Companion. The Home Ground edge gives a character a bonus on using skills on the character's home turf. This could include the building where the character lives or a computer system a decker is very familiar with.
    • Tir Na Nog. Followers of the Ways and the Paths gain bonuses to magic use if they are within the part of Ireland associated with their Path. For example, followers of the Northern Path (Path of the Warrior) gain a bonus die for magic when in the province of Ulster.
    • The Grimoire. Druids gain a bonus to summoning and banishing spirits when within a certain distance of their sacred circle.
    • Deckers gain advantages when within computer systems they're authorized to use. Their programs always execute properly, they can gain access anywhere they need to go and they don't have to worry about IC attacking them.
  • 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.
  • Illegal Religion: The elven nation of Tír Tairngire banned the Universal Brotherhood cult within its borders. They had good reason to: the organization in question is devoted to converting metahumans into hosts for insect spirits. Aztlan revoked the Roman Catholic Church's tax-exempt status in 2027 and then outlawed it in 2041.
  • 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.
  • Impersonating an Officer: Supplement Bug City. Truman Technologies operatives dressed up as Eagle Security officers captured Fuchi-employed gang members, lined them up against a wall, and ruthlessly murdered them. This was inspired by the 1929 "Saint Valentine's Day Massacre".
  • 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.
  • Instant Sedation: Upon delivery, narcojet does enough Stun damage to incapacitate the average metahuman. Its description says that it has no side effects.
  • 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.
    • "Yamato damashii" has again become a popular phrase among the Japanese, to the increasing concern of their neighbors.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Law enforcement tends to be contracted out to Megacorps, the areas they cover tend to be somewhat indistinct.
  • Karma Meter: A version acts as the game's Experience Points up through Third Edition — in Fourth Edition, it became one In Name Only and is treated more like standard experience points, but earlier editions explicitly stated that it was impossible to gain Karma from evil actions, even ones on the same level of significance that would award it if they were good.
    • Though a closer example would be Notoriety, which is gained by failing a run, pissing off the wrong people, and incredibly caustic behavior ("Forget giving the money back to the orphanage. Let the brats starve.") It gives penalties to social tests, except for intimidation, which grants a bonus instead. Both apply only to those that would know of said reputation, of course.
    • 5th edition is a bit of a compromise between the earlier editions' take on Karma and 4th edition's. Though you can gain Karma for any mission, like in 4th edition, you gain bonus Karma for good or charitable missions, and less Karma for "cold-hearted bastard" missions (like assassination). This is balanced by the fact that "cold-hearted bastard" jobs pay better, while "good feelings" jobs pay worse.
  • Kill Sat: Thor shots and giant lasers in space.
  • Kiss of the Vampire: The Essence Drain power of some Awakened creatures, such as, well, vampires.
  • 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.
  • Law Enforcement, Inc.: Most police duties are handled by private megacorporations themselves. One example is the Lone Star organization, based in Austin, Texas, who are a reference to the real-life Texas Rangers Division (also based in Austin, Texas), though they are more unscrupulous. Another is the Knight Errant division contracted by the Ares Macrotechnology company.
  • 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.
    • It's also a lot Lighter And Softer then a lot of Cyberpunk games.
    • 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 Admendment. (For non US readers that prevents self-incrimination IE the police can't make you confess and testify against yourself.) However MegaCorps 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.
  • Longevity Treatment: Multiple forms of rejuvenation. Leonization, the most expensive, restores physical age to approximately 21, a life span extension is a one-time procedure that adds 10 years to your life, while physical vigor simply counters the physical side effects of aging.
  • 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 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.
    • All that power is justified. Harlequin is an immortal elf who lived through the Scourge that occurred in Earthdawn's backstory. He's as old as some dragons, and is the sole survivor of the Knights of the Crying Spire. Dunkelzahn considers Harlequin his knight for a damn good reason.
  • 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 they're cheating bastards.
    • 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 Native American: Literally and in spades. Shadowrun could be considered the great grandmother of this trope.
  • Magic Is a Monster Magnet: The insect spirits in Chicago.
  • Mainlining the Monster: One supplement's shadowtalk includes posts by a sicko who'd kept an Awakened leopard with Healing Factor captive for years, periodically skinning it alive and selling the pelts. The same poster speculated about the possibility of catching a giant regenerating species of shark and selling its meat over and over again.
  • 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.
  • Middle Eastern Coalition:
    • Turkey, Cyprus and Syria were taken over in the mid-2030s by militant Muslim sects (under the umbrella of "Alliance for Allah") and formed an alliance called the Second Jihad to launch an invasion of Europe. It ultimately failed, and the three countries have since broken free from these militant sects' control.
    • The countries of the Arabian Peninsulanote  merge in 2055 after prodding by the Islamic Unity Movement, forming the Arabian Caliphate. It then absorbed Jordan in 2063.
  • 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.
  • Motive Decay: Runners in the early editions often perceived themselves as liberators of truth and crusaders against the monolithic megacorps. By the 2070s, a lot of them seem to have stopped fighting the world order and simply accepted their lot. Members of Jack Point have specifically been called out on this in-universe.
  • Motorcycle Jousting: In the Combat Biker game the Lancebiker player carries a 2 meter long lance that he can use against other players.
  • Murder Water: Toxic Water Spirits.
  • 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. And, on a slightly more mundane note, screwed up the weather system in America for decades to come.
    • 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.
    • There is a difference between knnowledge skills and active skills, however. The first can just be slotted and gives you a bonus to knowledge checks. The second implants knowledge as well, but to use it (for example, to use a skillsoft that gives a bonus to acrobatics), you have to install skillwires, which run through your entire body, are painful as hell to get installed, and effectively let the skillsoft take control of you while you're accessing the knowledge. And if the skillsoft is set to never actually turn off...
  • No Campaign for the Wicked: The rules forbid Player Characters from committing certain evil acts (such as learning Blood Magic) and in past editions required them to do good deeds (or at least spend their ill-earned money on soup kitchens) to gain experience.
  • 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.
    • Those in later books it's been somewhat retconned with the UCAS forces working alongside Ares personnel.
  • 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.
  • Omniscient 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.
  • Once an Episode: Just about all of the 4th edition supplements start off with the reader logging into Jackpoint. The log on screen advertise the different supplement in a in-universe style and show little news blurbs of in-universe news.
  • 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.
  • One Steve Limit: Played with and hilariously lampshaded in The Twilight Wars. The joke is really too good to ruin; suffice it to say that apparently not everyone knows there's more than one Kat in the fiction.
  • Our Centaurs Are Different: Are actually an Awakened form of horse, with equine heads and their own way of looking at the world.
  • 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, and a 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".
  • Paying In Coins: In the Shadowrun universe, the Great Dragon Lofwyr buys the majority of heavy industrial corporation Saeder-Krupp stocks with gold from his hoard, although it isn't specified if it's tons of gold coins or in another form.
  • People Farm: Tamanous and their "fetus farms".
  • 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.
  • The Plan: Multiple examples; the most devious ones involve dragons.
  • Plot Twist: Twists during runs are so common it was literally built into the system by the 5th edition: The quick concept maker for runs included in the core rulebook has a twist table such as heightened security, Your Princess Is in Another Castle or You Have Outlived Your Usefulness on part of the Johnson. Most experienced Shadowrunners get rather Genre Savvy about this and expect things not to go as expected: Those who don't commonly die.
  • 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 Archetype also has Magic skills. So you're Harry Dresden.
    • Earlier editions had the Investigator, who had no magic or cyber, but made do with a bajillion contacts.
  • Prevent The War: In the adventure Elven Fire. Someone is trying to start a gang war in Seattle between the Ancients and other gangs. The PCs are hired by a Lone Star detective to prevent this from occurring.
  • Quick Draw: The Quick Draw action in 2nd Edition.
  • Rapid Aging: Adventure Bottled Demon. Anyone who uses the Horror-powered idol will age at a rate of approximately 10 years per day.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The end part of Runners Companion has a Rashmon-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.
  • Research Inc: quite a few, Mega Corp. labs or freelance.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Otomo drones, no doubt being a Shout-Out to RoboCop 3.
  • Rule of Cool: Monofilament CHAINSAWS
  • The Rule of First Adopters: The 5th edition lampshades this when talking about the commercial uses of magic.
  • 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 slave trade and organlegging. The organs are provided in their...original packaging. He has expressed a fondness for submarines and excessively large ships.
  • Sapient Tank: While ground attack drones are "intelligent" after a fashion, their control programs are called "dog-brains" because they're dumb. If the program running it evolves into a true artificial intelligence, then it becomes one of these.
  • Saving The World With Art: The Shadowbeat supplement, which provided rules for creating characters with musical skills, such as rock stars. It also had rules that allowed the characters to put on performances that could sway the masses to defeat the character's opponents. For example, a musician could hold a concert with songs opposing the destruction of the environment, thus causing public opposition to a Mega Corp.'s plan to turn wetlands into a toxic waste dump.
  • 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 Cyber Punk with magic, this is bound to happen.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: All megacorps get this when they reach AA status. Their property is now a nation onto itself (a concept referred to as "extraterritoriality") 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 an intercorporate incident. There are also some nations (like the Tir nations) who don't respect extraterritoriality: Corporations with enclaves in those nations can't screw the rules. Well, not as directly anyway.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Horrors. Cthon in the Genesis Game.
  • 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.
  • Self Healing Phlebotinum: Bioware and cyberware can have repair nanites that will fix any damage done to them.
  • Sentry Gun: Many are available and there's a weapon accessory that can turn any man-portable firearm into one of these.
  • Serpent of Immortality: Shamans who have Snake as their totem gain +2 dice when casting healing spells.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: The Aztlan macuahitl.
  • Shape Shifter 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. From a gameplay standpoint any glitch while using it results in it hitting you instead.
  • Shoot the Medic First: Averted for all but the most desperate. Shooting at DocWagon dispatches is a good way to lose your health insurance permanently, not to mention the risk of them shooting back. And they're usually better equipped and more experienced than you.
  • Shoulder Cannon: Available as cyberware.
  • Shoot the Mage First: Common advice. In fact, "Geek the mage first" is one of the first rules a new shadowrunner learns.
  • Shout-Out: Has its own page.
  • Shrug of God: Reading between the lines in the JackPoint parts of the books seems like this. At one point, the JackPointers are wondering if an EMP would trigger a cortex bomb or permanently disable it. We never get a clear answer, 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."
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Supplement Tir Na Nog. In the title country (the country formerly known as Ireland) Junior Minister Patrick Flanagan was videotaped having sex with his curvaceous redheaded secretary in his office.
  • 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.
  • Solid Gold Poop: In early editions, dragon "bodily fluids" could be used as an exotic material to help in enchanting magic items.
    • In 5th edition, this is not explicitly stated, but it is implied that magic reagents can be made from materials like this, depending on the mage's tradition.
  • 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.
  • Steam Punk: 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.
  • Sword Cane: The Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Real Life introduced the Barton Arms Gun Cane. It fired a single 8 mm bullet that did light damage to targets at close range.
  • Take That: Shadowrun: Gibson Edition, the April Fool's joke for 2010. For some background, William Gibson has infamously stated he hates this game for stealing from him and mashing it with Tolkien.
    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. They did get the increased use of RFID tags right though.
  • Technopath: 3rd Edition's Otaku and their Technomancer successors in 4E.
    • Otaku were introduced as a concept in 2nd edition and elaborated on in 3rd, and could directly interface with the Matrix without a cyberdeck. However, they still needed a Datajack (even in the few places wireless Matrix access existed before the Second Crash, they still needed their jack to get in) and an ASIST like a normal Decker. On top of that, they were mostly teens and children and very few of them could keep their powers past age 30.
    • Technomancers, on the other hand, are a lot less limited. They first emerged after the Second Crash, and rose to prominence in the time between the 4th and 5th editions. They can directly interface with the Wireless Matrix with nothing more than their mind — indeed, cyberware actually hurts their ability to interface with the Matrix as if they were a magic user. They're capable of things no ordinary hacker or decker is capable of, and indeed things that shouldn't be scientifically possible. On the other hand, what they do isn't magic, and doesn't follow its rules, either — their powers don't seem to be anything anyone already knows about or understands, and they don't lose their powers with age like the Otaku did. This freaks people right the hell out, and most people either want them dead, or want to crack them open and figure out how the hell they work.
  • 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.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: The Vice supplement talks about this and how there is a huge amount of both 3D HD and simsence porn out there for free. Better then Life porn chips also are widely available. It also talks about how to set up your own porn site.
  • 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... They're right. And beyond just being right, Horizon's CEO and ultimate corporate objective turns out to be not so much "evil" as "utterly insane".
  • They Would Cut You Up: A very real danger for technomancers in 4e and 5e.
  • Tiered by Name: The decker programs sold by Hacker House for the Virtual Realities supplement had numbers at the end of their names. The higher the number, the larger and more powerful the program.
  • Time Abyss: Loads. Immortal elves such as Harlequin all qualify, having been born in the Fourth World and lived through all five thousand years of the Fifth World to reach the Sixth, which began in 2012. All Great Dragons were born in the Second World - the Age of Dragons - which was separated from the Fourth by another five thousand year gap.
  • Tracking Device: The AOD (Activate On Demand) tracking signal, which only transmits when it receives a specific coded signal instead of continuously.
  • 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.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: In any given run, the question isn't whether your Johnson has an ulterior motive and won't backstab you (or at least drop you like a hot potato if you mis-step in any way). The question is how much blackmail material your decker can dredge up on him to make him reconsider.
  • 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.
  • United Europe. Adverted Heavily. You think the political landscape in North American is bad? Europe has had several wars since the Sixth World started.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 villains who mess with blood magic, bug spirits, and Horrors that feed off pain and fear. In the newer supplements, Horizon is this, even to shadowrunners. In true cyberpunk style, they are hiding something...
    • And in Columbian Subterfuge, Horizon's true colors are revealed when they decide to use every trick in the book of propraganda to discredit Aztechnology and Aztlan during the Aztlan Amazonia War.
  • 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. You're bound to have a few Shadowrunners who joined in for the carnage.
  • 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. Of course you can also get one small enough to only destroy your infolink in your head to destroy any data in case of capture.
      • 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.
  • Wolf Man: The "Loup Garou" critter is a human infected with a virus that increases hair growth and recedes his gums, making his teeth look like fangs. His murderous activities aren't linked to the full moon, but follows an even 28-day cycle.
  • 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 went From Bad to 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 was a literal example when it was 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.
    • Ironically inverted with Detroit: unlike the real life version, the Motor City in the Shadowrun universe is one of the safest and most prosperous cities in the UCAS thanks to Ares Macrotechnology and its security division Knight Errant gaining a foothold in the metroplex. There's still some criminal activity running around, but it is far more contained compared to the rest of the cities in the UCAS.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Why you should never deal with a dragon; they always win even if it looks like they've lost.
    • A runner in the Threats book brags that he got one over on Lofwyr, but lost his entire team on the job. He's found dead a week later. Another runner does some digging on the details and discovers that the entire run was a setup: Lofwyr wanted that specific shadowrunning team to do the job (they had all worked against Saeder-Krupp in the past), S-K owned the pharmaceutical lab through a number of shell companies (which had been recently insured against theft), the paydata was bunk (Lofwyr thought he would copy it instead of destroying it as ordered, which made Shiawase waste time and money after they got it), and S-K got to field-test a device to control fenrir against them.
  • 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?"
  • Your Head Asplode: Cranial bombs and manabolts.
  • 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 (Artificial Sensory Induction Systems Technology), which is exponentially 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.
    • Some timelines involve Alternate History close to the date the game was initially released, and some of the more unstable years may have put technological innovation on a bit of a SNAFU. And to be fair, it's hard to notice the "five years out of date part" on your gear when it's the only thing standing between you and getting Eaten Alive by Insect Spirits.
    • Also, these update rarely make major alterations to established continuity, instead portraying the changes as normal technological advancement in the game world. This has the odd effect of portraying a future where wireless technology will go out of popular usage for several decades, before rising to prominence again. In essence, the most current materials made for Shadowrun generally present the most "believable" future, whereas Shadowrun's in-world history gets less believable as you go back.
  • Zombie Advocate: There are a few groups fighting for the rights of ghouls, but to be fair, not all ghouls are serial-killing cannibals. The ones that are are usually either feral or just plain evil. The ethical solution is simply to eat the already dead or just old severed body parts, because ghouls can only survive on metahuman flesh; despite Dunkelzahn's efforts, there's still no substitute for it.
    • The Zombie Advocate agenda has won, enough that ghouls can be PCs now. Not FUN PCs, but PCs.

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