Videogame / Shadowrun Returns

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"Welcome to the sprawl."

Shadowrun Returns is a Video Game (primarily for the PC) based on the Shadowrun franchise, and the fifth video game in that setting. The two following campaigns, Dragonfall and Hong Kong, were released as separate games, making them the sixth and seventh games in the series.

Developed by Harebrained Schemes, designed by Jordan Weismannote  and Mitch Gitelmannote , it was crowd-funded through Kickstarter in March of 2012. The Kickstarter was a huge success, hitting several stretch goals, with lots of Feelies for backers and the first Downloadable Content pack (set in Berlin) included for free. The game was released on July 25, 2013 for PC and Mac; September 26, 2013 for iOS and Android; and October 30, 2013 for Linux.

The base game comes with its own campaign, The Dead Man's Switch: set in Seattle 2054, you play as a down-on-their-luck Shadowrunner investigating the death of their old buddy Sam Watts in exchange for a substantial payday and/or personal vengeance.

The first DLC campaign, Dragonfall, was released on February 27, 2014. Dragonfall sees you end up in Berlin, aka "The Flux State": a utopia of Anarchy where power shifts like the tides of the ocean. When what appears to be a milk runnote  goes south, you and your new crew find yourselves drawn into a conspiracy surrounding the death of the Great Dragon Feuerschwing, and the whispers that she might still be alive.

An Updated Re-release of Dragonfall entitled Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut was released on September 18, 2014 for PC, Mac, and Linux. The update includes, among other things, new art assets as well as entire new missions... which really ended up taking Dragonfall outside the scope of "DLC" and made it more a full-blown sequel running on the same engine. Citing developers like CD Projekt RED as inspiration, the team behind Shadowrun Returns decided to release this update free for original backers and owners of the original Dragonfall. The update is also sold as a stand-alone product on Steam and GOG. A version for iOS and Android was set to be released in October 2014, but the was delayed until December 4th.

On December 31st, 2014 Harebrained Schemes announced the setting of the next campaign: Hong Kong. It officially went to Kickstarter on January 14, 2015. The project was released on August 20th, 2015. It is PC/Mac/Linux only due to wanting to get the best product they can make without the limitations of tablets. As mentioned before, it is set in Hong Kong in 2056, two years after the events of Dead Man's Switch and Dragonfall. Like Dragonfall, the player has a crew that they run with, contending with both a corporate conspiracy 30 years in the making and a local supernatural threat. Changes from the previous two campaigns include enhanced player controls and sound, animatic scene transitions, revamps to the Matrix and enlarged selections for cyberware and magic, making this once again more of a full-blown sequel than anything else. A Playable Epilogue, Shadows of Hong Kong, was released on February 5, 2016 through the free Extended Edition update. Shadows of Hong Kong is set a few weeks after the end of the original campaign, you and your team now have the opportunity to turn the tables on the corporate police force that once hunted you.


This game contains examples of:

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    General 

  • Anti-Magic: Downplayed; there's no total magic immunity, but Adepts can learn Magic Resistance, which gives increasing levels of Cover against spells.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can only bring three other runners with you at a time. While it makes sense for the teams to stay small, it's especially noticeable in Dragonfall, where the total crew size (counting the Player Character) is five, meaning one person always has to sit out in every run. This gets even worse in Hong Kong, as you can have up to 5 teammates, meaning 2 members would sit out each mission. Asking those that didn't go on the last run about their opinions on it has them pointing out that they didn't go along, and possibly mentioning what they did in the meantime.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: In addition to the changes to armour in Director's Cut, there are now attacks that can degrade or ignore armor.
  • The Artifact: Mercenaries. In Dead Man's Switch, hiring other runners was the only way to have any sort of backup on a run. They're still around in Dragonfall and Hong Kong, but the presence of a crew in those campaigns who can be brought on for free diminishes their usefulness.
  • Artificial Brilliance: Improving on the below stupidity was a design goal for Dragonfall - Director's Cut that gets pushed back to the main game as well. Harebrained implemented a custom AI scripting scheme they call GumboScript that allows for AI agents to be adjusted by the designer for combat behavior, with the stated goal that they "not look dumb". For the curious, Harebrained has written a piece on Gamasutra about it.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • The enemy is reasonably smart in certain areas; they'll throw grenades at clustered player groups, know to use cover (most of the time), and tend to go for their special abilities when they can. However, much of this behavior depends on playing by their rules. The AI can be drawn into a turkey shoot through a simple strategy: hide all your people behind a corner, have one runner aggro the enemy, then run back to your corner and set everyone to overwatch. One by one, the enemy will file in to their almost certain deaths, and you'll get away with barely a scratch to show for it. It's not always a viable strategy, but it works for a lot of encounters. The enemy also has no concept of friendly fire and will gladly grenade their fellows if it means hitting your runners.
    • In Hong Kong, the enemy is incapable of recognizing when a character has the Magnet Arm, and will fall for it several times in one round if conditions allow.
  • Attack Drone: Riggers can control various attack drones. The Rigger loses one Action Point per drone as long as they're active, but the drones have their own Action Points. Drones can use their smaller size to do things like navigate Air Vent Passageways to flank enemies. They are a formidable force in the hands of a competent Rigger.
  • Autosave: The game was criticized for only having autosaves (which are done whenever a new area is loaded), as the engine didn't originally support manual saves. Manual saves were added with the v1.2 patch.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Adept's Chi Onslaught grants you three attacks on a target with increased Critical Hit chance, but requires a whopping 3 AP to use. 2 AP is the default at the start of the game and you only get three after passing a certain point in the storyline. It also has a lowered hit chance. It's almost always preferable to just use Chi Focus or normal attack instead.
    • Trolls and Orks can potentially be the most durable and hardest-hitting melee attackers due to the abnormally high Body and Strength scores they can achieve. However, there's no point in actually reaching those values because the karma costs are simply too expensive to be worth the trouble.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Available to those who specialize in Pistols, and the S-Rank Ares Guardian Attack Drone. Success is not guaranteed, but it still deals damage... potentially a lot even if it fails.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Characters who specialize in Pistols can gain the ability to reload without spending any AP, giving them the next best thing. The A- and S-Rank drones can do the same. Hong Kong introduces an auto-loader cyberarm that does this for any weapon.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Spells which are currently on cool down can still be cast, but doing so drains Hit Points.
  • Character Class System: Averted, in that there are several archetypes available to choose from, but there is no formal divide between specializations which prevents one character from having any combination of abilities that they see fit to work toward. A player can even skip the archetype selection if they wish and just build a character from scratch.
  • Character Select Forcing: If you want to have a steady cash inflow, you pretty much need at least some degree of Decking.
  • Chiaroscuro: The environment art style Harebrained went with surprised players expecting a visually "darker" game by including a variety of bright colors. This is partially because bright colors read well seen from a distance on a moving screen, but they also fulfill a stylistic function. Since much of the environment still is dark, the bright colors call attention to specific elements and create an important thematic contrast between areas of light and areas of dark, reflecting the social penumbra that shadowrunners operate in.
  • Close Range Combatant:
    • Most of the Physical Adept's Chi Casting spells are meant to either do damage at melee range or help them close with an opponent. It's not impossible to give an Adept a gun and some ranged combat skills, but given the shortage of Karma you're far better off specializing.
    • With Hong Kong, the Street Samurai now has its own version of this with implanted cyber-weapons. Other implants like Wired Reflexes and Cyberlegs make up for the other Chi powers.
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: There are multiple ways to complete runs, with or without fighting. The game tends to reward karma if you can talk your way out.
  • Counter Attack:
    • Overwatch is a preemptive version of this. By selecting a weapon skill then using Overwatch to define a cone of vision, the user will automatically retaliate against any enemy which crosses their line of sight within the effective range of the weapon it is used with. The idea is to position the character in such a way that they cannot be attacked without triggering Overwatch and damaging the assailant. It's an excellent ambush skill, though not so good in open areas. Using it automatically ends the user's turn, even if they have leftover AP.
    • The Adept Counterstrike skill plays this straight. In exchange for ending the user's turn, the user will retaliate against anyone that attacks them from any direction up to three times. It's somewhat impractical for a pure melee Adept, as it requires the attacker to be in melee range when they hit, but a Gun Adept can be deadly with it.
  • Crippling Overspecialisation: Playing a summoner shaman pretty much forces you into this. Summoning requires two skills instead of one, meaning twice the Karma cost, plus a one-time use summoning fetish which costs ten times the nuyen of a grenade or about half a drone (which is multi-use). The end result is a character who spends all his karma and nuyen to summon an actually useful character for three to four rounds of combat, albeit a rather powerful and versatile one, when any given mission has at least two or three combat encounters, many of which last far longer than the few rounds the spirit lasts. This is especially bad in Hong Kong, where money is extremely tight compared to the previous two campaigns. The same can be said for deckers that specialize in ESPs, but this isn't quite as bad since those cost less, are reusable, and multiple decking sequences in a run are rare.
  • Critical Hit: This is based on how much Karma points you spend on your combat skills. The higher the number, the greater the critical hit chance and the easier the battles. Director's Cut adds an additional wrinkle by preventing them against enemies in medium or heavy cover, thus emphasizing the need for flanking.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Orcs and trolls of either gender are just as likely to look like normal or even attractive people with fangs, tusks, and horns as they are to look ugly and monstrous. Eiger in particular is described in-universe as being "beautiful yet hard to climb."
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: In line with the source material, characters have a finite amount of essence, and installing cyberware reduces that essence, with characters unable to socket any more cyberware if it would drop their essence to zero or lower. Again like the source material, this also has a negative effect on magic use, and every full point of essence lost increases the Cool Down time on casting magic spells by one turn. A magic user might be able to get away with a very small amount of cyberware that uses up less than one full point of essence (like a simple datajack) and still be at peak casting ability, but any more than that will degrade them.
  • Cyber Punk: Comes with the setting, in both flavors.
  • Cyberspace: Deckers are able to enter the Matrix in certain areas. This plays out similar to combat in the rest of the game, but everything is abstract and made out of Tron Lines, and the Decker can use various programs as though they were attack abilities or Summon Magic in meatspace. Hong Kong revamps the system, allowing the player to move about in real time so long as nothing is actively attacking them, while adding camera drones on rails that increase the alert meter if they see the player.
  • Drone Deployer: A Rigger, or anyone with enough points in Drone Control, can control one or two drones, each of which is basically a character of its own in battle.
  • Dumb Muscle: Played with. Orks and Trolls get bonuses to physical stats and a lowered cap on Intelligence. That said, since it's only a cap, the smartest trolls are still much smarter than the average person, they're just dumber than other geniuses. Troll dialogue is never in Hulk Speak (Mister Kluwe is actually rather eloquent and politically savvy), and they make a capable Player Character in any role outside of Decker or Rigger, which are Intelligence-intensive archetype. They *do* make dandy mages, though.
  • Easy Logistics: Everyone has infinite ammo and only needs to stop to reload every once in a while. This makes it a little jarring when the game's loading screens flash the Shadowrun tagline advising you to "shoot straight and conserve ammo."
  • Feminist Fantasy: Present in all campaigns, but especially in Hong Kong. There is an unusually large amount of prominent female characters compared to most media examples, with several notable female party members and a surprisingly high percentage of female NP Cs, be they important or random questgivers. Hong Kong in particular appears to have more females in leading or plot-critical positions than males.
  • Five Races: When creating a new character the racial choices are:
    • Dwarfs: Stout, +1 to Willpower, higher caps on Body, Strength and Willpower.
    • Elves: High Men, +1 to Charisma, higher caps on Quickness and Charisma.
    • Humans: Mundane, 3 extra Karma at the start of the game and all stats caped at 9.
    • Orks: Low Men, +1 to Body, higher caps on Body and Strength, lower caps on Charisma and Intelligence.
    • Trolls: Big and Mean, +1 to Body and +1 to Strength, higher caps on Body and Strength, lower caps on Charisma, Intelligence and Quickness.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The games take place within 2050 decade of Shadowrun universe but adheres to the tabletop canon, which is currently in the 2070s. That means certain things are going to happen regardless of your choices in the game campaigns.
    • In Dragonfall the megas, spearheaded by Saeder-Krupp and with the backing of the German government, are going to dismantle the Flux State a few months after the events of the campaign.
    • In Hong Kong despite how many favors you successfully complete for the Yellow Lotus they are still going to get into all out war with the Red Dragons and are going to lose badly a few years later. Also, Ares is going to seize control of the Hong Kong Police Force is spite of your actions in the bonus campaign.
  • Future Food Is Artificial: It seems like every food item in the game has the prefix "soy-".
  • Future Slang: In the vein of the tabletop game it is based on; drek being the most noticeable. This appears to be a case of Accidentally Accurate, since in the Slovenian language the word "drek" pretty much means exactly the same as it does in the Shadowrun setting.
  • Game Mod: The game was released with mod tools readily available. It's no secret that the main draw will be seeing what other players create.
  • Glass Cannon: Turrets can do a lot of damage and their health is fairly decent, but since they're stationary, you're practically guaranteed to hit them. Two or three good hits will usually put one down.
  • Isometric Projection: The game is viewed from a fixed isometric perspective.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Humans have even caps of 9 in every category, whereas other races have a two or three point bonus in one or another. Humans instead start with three extra karma, which isn't much in the grand scheme of things but still worth about one more skill than other races could get.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Katanas are considered to be some of the better melee weapons for two reasons. One is that they do a solid amount of physical damage. Two is that they can also drain enemy AP on critical hits.
  • King Incognito: In the Dead Man's Switch and Dragonfall campaigns, towards the end, you run into a high ranking Saeder-Krupp employee named Hans Brackhaus. The game hints at his true nature, but those familiar with the setting will know he's actually the Great Dragon Lofwyr, head of Saeder-Krupp and one of the most powerful beings in the world.
  • Ley Line: Mages can see these in combat and standing on one increases their power. Unfortunately, ley lines are rarely behind cover, so the power comes at the cost of being an easier target.
  • Magic Knight: Physical Adepts are like this since they specialize in using chi abilities to empower them in melee combat and since you need high willpower to unlock high level chi abilities and spell-casting also uses willpower, diverting a few points into spell-casting isn't that bad of an idea. For an in-game example, see Harlequin.
  • Mage Marksman: Both mages and shamans are just as likely to be packing an AK-97 as they are to be slinging fireballs or summoning spirits. It helps that both get spells that buff and compliment gunplay.
  • Master of None: A real danger. Since the amount of karma you need to spend on a skill is equal to the next level of that skill, it becomes increasingly difficult to level up specific skills, making it tempting to branch out and grab the low-hanging fruit instead. This spreading out of skills, however, can make things difficult in the late game, which often require either high-level checks or significant combat investment. This is further compounded by the fact that spellbook and item slots are shared among all the possible archetypes' needs. It's almost always better to specialize, and the ingame hints themselves suggest as much.
  • Mega Corp.: They dominate the setting and you end up doing jobs for several in each campaign.
  • More Dakka: A high level rifle skill allows you to hit five times for 2 AP. It suffers in accuracy, but is so absurdly powerful that a solid string of hits can wipe out nearly any mook in the game unless they have a lot of HP or armor. Other skills have similar abilities, such as the shotgun's double shot, but the rifle skill stands out for the sheer number of hits.
  • Once per Episode: All three games have started with a run gone bad, teammates dying and a frantic escape which helps set up the main plot of the game.
  • Only in It for the Money: Dialogue choices allow you to roleplay this way, and the game encourages it by having some times when the only way to get payment for services awarded is to directly ask for it.
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Characters appear to do this before throwing their grenades.
  • Point Build System: Every character stat is raised using Karma points, with Karma required raising it being equal to the level of that stat. For example, buying level one shotguns only costs one Karma point but buying level five spell-casting costs five Karma points. Spend them wisely.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Mages are just as likely to being wearing Kevlar body armor and carrying assault rifles as they are to be wearing robes and slinging fireballs in this setting.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Per Word of God, Shadowrun has always been more about the setting, theme, and atmosphere than it has been about specific mechanics, and so long as it stays true to the spirit of the Tabletop Games it can weather a few mechanical changes. Some examples:
    • There is no Stun damage, you just get stunned from having negative AP. This makes the game more similar to other computer RPGs.
    • There are no initiative passes, so turns are simply done team-by-team, with each combatant having action points. This makes the game easier to understand, especially for veteran XCOM and Jagged Alliance players.
    • DocWagon works as a Nanotech instant-revive trauma kit in the manner of the Phoenix Down, rather than having to wait for them to show up, secure the area, and try to heal you on the spot.note  Dragonfall maintains this, but also credits a DocWagon contract for saving any fallen runners in your crew if they don't make it through a run.note 
    • Matrix combat is much simpler than in the pen & paper game.
    • Spells have cool down time rather than drain. You don't pay karma for every single spell, either, but instead unlock higher forces of spells and spell slots, then buy formulae for each spell & force level combination. This way, there is less work to managing your spells.
    • Spirits require either consumable magic fetishes or special points on the map, so that you cannot just conjure spirits all the time. Some special locations may summon special or unique spirits as an added bonus.
    • In tabletop, the difference between Hermetic Mages and Shamans is in the stats they use to resist drain and which spirits can be used for combat. This was simplified so that there is no difference between mages and shamans in Shadowrun Returns, and all spirits are usable as combat spirits.
    • And in a collision of the above two points, characters who can conjure spirits can conjure Toxic Spirits, which in Tabletop are not conjurable by either Hermetic Mages or Shamans, but only by the separate traditions of Toxic Shamans and Toxic Mages... because with the system it uses for spirit conjuring and the decaying urban environments that dominate the game, sometimes the only plausible spirit conjuring point on a map is a pile of garbage or pool of toxic waste. Hong Kong dealt with this point by removing such instances. Any free summon is now a normal spirit.
    • Instead of having constantly on powers that are bought with Karma, Physical Adepts buy 'chi powers' for money that function like spells with a limited duration that only target the adept. In order to streamline the archetype, practically all powers that do not involve melee combat were removed and gun/social adepts aren't viable.
    • You can use some (albeit low-level) Blood Magic in Hong Kong. This is impossible in tabletop, with the rules stating that any Player Character who dabbles in the stuff will automatically be converted to an NPC.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Zig-Zagged, in that revolvers tend to do a little more damage than other types of pistols. However, they need more frequent reloading and cannot use some of the more advanced pistol techniques that require a semi-automatic (such as Double Tap and Chain Shot). Albeit the former problem can be remedied by learning a pistol skill that requires no AP to reload (see Bottomless Magazines above).
  • Shaggy Dog Story: To a certain extent, all three campaigns are this by way of Doomed by Canon: In Dead Man's Switch, stopping the Universal Brotherhood in Seattle does nothing to prevent the insect spirit outbreak in Chicago; in Dragonfall, your efforts to keep the Kreusbazar going are futile, because Saeder-Krupp is going to invade Berlin and put an end to the Flux State; and in Hong Kong, Ares' takeover of the HKPF will succeed even if you take down Krait, and the Yellow Lotus in Heoi are going to be destroyed by the Red Dragon.
  • Shoot the Mage First: True to Shadowrun tradition, the AI hates mages, to the point that killing the player (assuming they're not a mage) is only marginally more important to them. You should, too, for that matter, since conjurers and mages are among the most annoying enemies.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Shotguns do a lot of damage, have spread to hit multiple targets, and at later levels can be made to fire two shots at once (at a cost of five bullets). Low ammo is a problem at early levels, but you get a respectable ten-round clip with the second-best one.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: The Central Theme. Every SRR story to date has been about the struggle between those who rule the Sixth World, those who are just trying to survive in it... and those who refuse to be masters or slaves AKA Shadowrunners.
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Characters and effects are rendered 'on the fly' (as opposed to pre-rendered sprites like in Fallout) whilst most backgrounds are standard two-dimensional artwork. This means less space used; no need to store animation frames for all the possible armor/weapon combinations in all their actions and poses. It also allows things like retexturing parts of models to reflect cybernetic augmentations.
  • Square Race, Round Class: Nothing prevents you from making a troll decker or an ork shaman. They won't be able to get as good in it lategame as a human or elf will be due to lower stat caps, but in the beginning they'll be just as good. All races also make for (almost) equally good mages, since all of them cap willpower at 6 (except dwarves, who can go to 7 and unlock a very situational Adept spell from it).
  • Squishy Wizard: Zig-Zagged. Unlike many Western RPGs, there is nothing stopping a Mage or Shaman from strapping on a full suit of riot armor. They'll favor the armor type that boosts their casting stat, but it offers just as much protection as any of the stat-boosting armors. Since the game uses archetypes instead of classes, there's nothing preventing a Mage or Shaman from having as many hit points as a Samurai character. The only real disadvantage that casters have is that installing cyberware will force them to cast spells less frequently, making defensive upgrades like Dermal Plating of dubious value. That said, there's nothing specifically stopping a player from playing a caster with basic armor and 10 Hit Points, but the game gives players a wealth of options to avoid it.
  • Summon Magic:
    • The domain of Shaman characters is the ability to summon spirits of various types to aid them in combat. Doing so does expend fetishes, though, so they can only be summoned a limited number of times between resupplies. They can also summon out the latent emotions in certain objects, such as skulls or trophies into spectral form, but those are much harder to control.
    • Deckers can use ESPs (Expert System Programs) in the Matrix, essentially a cyberized version of Shamanistic summoning.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: The Adept class is based around channeling magic inwards to increase one's own physical prowess in melee combat.
  • Support Party Member: Pure shamans carry no directly offensive spells whatsoever, barring their magic walls and summoned spirits, and didn't even have a basic attack spell like the mage did until Dragonfall. note  Every single other spell is a buff or debuff spell and their library has increased through the game's editions, until the logical conclusion in Hong Kong where every single buff spell except Heal is a shaman spell.
  • Take Cover: Cover comes in three levels, light, medium and heavy. Director's Cut clarified their use and made them more important by preventing Critical Hits against those in medium or heavy cover, with heavy cover also cutting all damage by half.
  • Top-Heavy Guy: The sprites for the male trolls sport incredibly wide shoulders and massive arms on top of a pair of comparatively tiny legs. The graphics update for Hong Kong made them more realistic.
  • Turn-Based Tactics: The bulk of the combat gameplay, similar to other titles like X-COM. It involves careful consideration about movement, positioning, cover, ability use, resource management, and target selection.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Summoned creatures obey the summoner, but need to be periodically given AP instead of regenerating it per turn. Each time they are given AP, they have a chance to break free of the summoner's control, dependent on the amount of AP given on that turn (up to four) and how much AP they've been given previously. If they do break free, they are no longer bound to the summoner, so they won't die when the summoner does, and are hostile to everything on the field. Players can exploit this by making sure their summons are right in the middle of the enemy formation at all times. If the summon goes rogue, at least it's harassing them instead of you. In Hong Kong, Gobbet can unlock a spell which steals control of a summoned spirit for a few turns. It also alters the behavior of spirits which are summoned from points on the map; they now disappear after two turns.
  • Urban Fantasy: The Shadowrun setting is a mix of cyberpunk and Tolkienesque fantasy. The bulk of the stories take place in urban locales, and this game is no different.
  • Utility Party Member: Deckers typically have limited skill with weapons, and can't carry as many, due to needing a inventory slot for their cyberdecks. They're also mandatory if you want to break into a computer system, which are omnipresent in the game's Cyberpunk setting. It's downplayed a bit in Hong Kong, but not by much.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: There are plenty of opportunities in both games to do nice things for NPCs, both recruitable and otherwise. For example, you can donate over a thousand nuyen to Samuel Beckenbauer's charity for disadvantaged orks and trolls. This results in him upgrading the shelter to a proper community centre, named after the player character.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Prior to a patch, the death of the Player Character was an instant game over. Apparently they could not get a DocWagon contract. Especially annoying because the player character is a higher priority target for enemies than even mages, so long as they have a clear shot. After the patch, this was adjusted to make it so Player Characters who are reduced to zero hit points are "down but not out", just like other characters, and can recover if provided a healing item designed to wrest them back from death's door if used within the next few turns. However, if the PC doesn't get a revive during the three-turn period, it's still game over, even though your other (non-Guest Star) party members will still survive in-plot and be good to go next mission even if you let them "bleed out".
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: As a gameplay mechanic. Every three turns in the Matrix equals one turn outside.

    The Dead Man's Switch 

  • Abnormal Ammo: Project Aegis, modified shotgun shells loaded with what is effectively magical insecticide, the only weapon you have to kill the bug spirits.
  • Author Avatar: The "Ghost of Grizzled Veteran" in the Seamstress Union is one for Jordan Weisman, sharing his appearance and Breaking the Fourth Wall by talking about how after he died he ended up in a ghost in a story he created, how you gave him support while he was alive, and sharing stories about his inspiration and the process of creating the Shadowrun universe. He shows up to deliver bonus content for Kickstarter backers.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Boy, who would have thought that the exceptionally-ugly elf (so much so that you can comment on his ugliness) would turn out to be a bad guy? Subverted with Jessica Watts, who is notably described as attractive... but then played straight after The Reveal when she gets a brand new "crazy bug lady" portrait.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Your runner ends up leading the team that stopped Seattle from ending up the same way as Chicago in the backstory of the main Shadowrun universe, using prototype technology that would later be used by Ares to battle other Universal Brotherhood chapters and purge Chicago.
  • Bedlam House: The Snohomish Mercy Hospital note  is a mental treatment clinic. However, the place is run-down, the grounds unkempt, the paint peeling, and the patients are poorly cared for and rarely leave. To say nothing of what happens in the basement...
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: The junkies in the Better Than Life dens are usually placid, lazily lost in their own little world... unless someone overrides the settings. By removing the BTL chip's motor inhibitor function and feeding them horrifying visions and messing with their neurotransmitter levels, they can be sent into an unwilling aggressive rage as they fight demons that only they can see who happen to be in the same place as actual people.
  • Broke Episode: The game begins with one, with the Player Character a down-on-their-luck Shadowrunner living in a dingy safehouse after a run against Renraku went bad three years ago. Their savings exhausted, their equipment sold, their contacts either missing or dead, and only another week's worth of living expenses left in the account. An unexpected video call from an old friend gives an opportunity to change all that, though it means going back to the city they once fled...
  • Bug War: The two raids on the Universal Brotherhood headquarters involve fighting extra-dimensional bugs.
  • Call Back: The game begins with the Player Character coming to Seattle to investigate a murder (as in the Genesis game), and the first area is a morgue (as in the SNES game). Polite runners will find Jake Armitage (hero of the SNES game) sleeping in a morgue drawer (it's cheaper than a motel).
  • Call Forward:
    • There are campaign posters for Dunkelzahn's 2056 presidential run found in some of the locales visited during the campaign.
    • Project Aegis, what you try to steal from Telestrian, is a prototype version of FABS III used by Ares Macrotechnology in their Bug War in Chicago.
  • City of Adventure: Seattle, a familiar setting to most veteran Shadowrun players, is an excellent place for a Shadowrunner to ply their trade, given the presence of several megacorporations and the sizable criminal element in the city.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Always overcast, often drizzling. But then, that is nothing new in Seattle. The Cyber Punk just makes it all the more acidic.
  • Dead Man Switch: This trope is in fact the given name for the device that allows the player to be contacted by the third Emerald City Ripper victim at the start of the game, which gives the campaign its name.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: The prototype Aegis launchers are shotgun-like weapons which launch canisters that rupture on impact and disperse a fluid that carries a genetically-engineered and magically-infused bacteria tailored for killing astral spirits. This technology would later be licensed to Ares Macrotechnology, who would mass-produce it and use it to contain insect spirits in Chicago.
  • Difficulty Spike: The raid on Telestrian's headquarters is a lot harder than previous stages. Among the problems is that the enemies can and will flank you by spawning from different entrances, there are a lot more of them than you're used to dealing with, and there are mandatory decking sequences which spawn heavy guards that can hit five times in one attack just to capitalize on your lack of manpower. Justified in that you are hitting an office of a major Mega Corp., something that would not be done unless you are just that desperate.
  • Disposable Vagrant: Specifically mentioned to be the favorite targets of the Universal Brotherhood.
  • Dirty Cop: Two examples with Detective McKlusky and Officer Aguirre. McKlusky is portrayed negatively, more concerned with being promoted than catching the bad guys. Aguirre, on the other hand, is just willing to take bribes in exchange for inside information on the cases he's working, and is nothing but helpful.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Early on, you can convince a Lone Star officer to let you look around the crime scene where Sam was murdered by giving him a doughnut and soykaf. note 
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Additions made in the later campaigns induced this trope on Dead Man's Switch. It's a much more on-rails game with very few sidequests, and with the exception of Coyote, the only teammates you have available are mercenaries with no personalities or significance to the plot.
  • Exact Words: One of the questions you can ask Harlequin is if Hans Brackhaus really works for Lofwyr. Harlequin simply replies "No". As mentioned above, this is because Hans IS Lofwyr.
  • Fan Disservice: Orks and female feral ghouls are shown in skimpy lingerie. Neither are pretty.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Anyone that familiar with the Shadowrun timeline can tell that the Universal Brotherhood building means bad news. This is also complemented by Jake mentioning Chicago and several posters of the city. It is even where the character Coyote was born. They should also be aware that you can't kill insect spirits through regular means. This becomes a plot point later on when your team has no idea what exactly it is they were just witnesses to.
    • When you ask Johnny Clean about his janitor uniform, he tells you that he was able to pull off many of his most infamous hacks by disguising himself as a janitor and infiltrating the target building. You yourself can use this tactic to infiltrate the Universal Brotherhood, and later in the last part of the Telestrian Building run.
  • From Bad to Worse: The plot seems simple enough. Track down a killer, get a big life-insurance payout from one of the killer's victims. However, every time the player seemingly lays one problem in their path to rest, another bigger and uglier thread is revealed running just underneath it. The plot keeps ever thickening and the stakes keep getting higher...
  • Godzilla Threshold: Late in the game you end up launching a run on a major corp because they have the things you need to kill the insect spirits. In other words, you're incurring the wrath of a major corporation just because the things you're fighting are even worse.
  • Grand Theft Prototype: You end up attacking Telestrian to acquire a prototype magically augmented biological weapon that can kill the insect spirits in the Universal Brotherhood.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: The gun vendor in the Seamstress Union strongly advises against this, as he lost his right arm from trying. And in his defense, it was the one live grenade, rather than the smoke bombs the enemy had been tossing up to that point.
    Gruberman: So take a word of advice from an old soldier. Make sure you're never holding a grenade in one hand unless you just pulled the pin with the other.
  • Hate Plague: Some Yakuza thugs use the BTL control computer to make a bunch of BTL junkies attack your team.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: Its impossible to kill the insect spirits inside the Universal Brotherhood. Your only hope is to hold out until a decker can hack a nearby door to let you run. Finding a way to kill the insect spirits is a major plot point.
  • Local Hangout: The Seamstress Unionnote  is the local watering hole for the Redmond Barrens, a place where information, company, and all kinds of legal and illegal distractions can be had. It functions as the Player Character's "home base" for their stay in Seattle. It is also secretly a front for an underground safehouse and Runner black market, for those who are trusted enough and can afford the fees...
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: Several small ones in the form of Better Than Life chips, specially enhanced simsense chips which allow users to explore stored memories with a greater intensity than legal chips, which are intentionally capped in how strong of a feedback they can give. The player has the opportunity to raid some BTL dens during the campaign, which are presented like a crackhouse would be in the present day, full of junkies lost in their own little world or begging to get their next fix, and dealers with recording equipment to make their often cruel product.
  • MacGuffin: Most of the loot you sell to the Fixers is this. The various stuff is not usually of use to you, but to the right group, it's invaluable.
  • MacGuffin Melee: You accidentally cause this when you break into a warehouse to perform a spirit summoning ritual. The problem is that another Shadowrunner team in there to steal a MacGuffin and think you are trying to take it from them. For bonus points you can decide to take it from their corpses and sell it as an afterthought.
  • Madonna–Whore Complex: The description of a bunraku "puppet" you find says it all. "Face of a schoolgirl, body of a stripper".
  • Magitek: As expected from a setting in which Functional Magic and technology are both the subjects of intensive corporate research, there are some examples of things which combine both disciplines. The Aegis formula McGuffin is one such thing, a genetically engineered and magically-infused bacteriological weapon designed to kill astral spirits who are otherwise immune to more conventional physical and magical dangers.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Well, Major Crime Reveals Colossal Plot. The Universal Brotherhood's plan to summon an Insect Queen and infest Seattle would have gone off completely without your involvement if their head shaman hadn't killed every person who got an organ donation from her mother out of sheer spite.
  • Mock Guffin: The 100,000 nuyen Sam promised you for capturing his killer. As if a drunken loser like him could or would pay for life insurance.
  • Mythology Gag: The ram's skull which formed the banner image on the covers of the 1st and 2nd edition Shadowrun rulebooks can be seen hanging behind the bar at the Seamstress Union.
  • Obliviously Evil: The Emerald City Ripper's troll assistant is implied to be mentally challenged and unaware of what the Ripper is really doing.
  • Organ Theft: Modus operandi of the Emerald City Ripper. Turns out it's a job and he is getting paid quite a bit to do it.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Universal Brotherhood has a chapterhouse in Seattle, near the Pike Place Market. Of course, anyone familiar with the timeline from the tabletop game knows that they are a Cult-like organization which seeks to allow insect spirits into the material world by possessing human hosts.
  • Phone Call from the Dead: The game starts this way thanks to the Dead Man Switch implanted in the victim.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: Jake Armitage, the Player Character from the SNES Shadowrun game, is a recruitable party member in Shadowrun Returns.
  • Punny Name: One of the hirelings is named Justin Case.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: An updated, fast-tempo remix of "Walking the Shadows" from the SNES game is played during the Final Boss battle.
    • That's not the only musical nod to the SNES game: "Walking in the Shadows" is also remixed in the action part of "Shoot Straight" and a slowed-down remix of the default battle theme is used in "Null Sheen". Both songs feature prominently during various shoot-outs.
  • Religion of Evil: You should have known this was coming the minute you saw the words Universal Brotherhood.
  • Save the Villain: Able to be done with Jessica Watts, so that she can face the FBI rather than be gunned down or devoured.
  • Sex Slave: The Emerald City Ripper turns out to have been making them to "custom order", by harvesting fresh components that match requested descriptions from chop shops, then grafting them to patients of a mental hospital, and inserting a chip into their brain to make them completely obedient with the requested personalities. These are then sold to discrete but high payers with loose ethics. As evidenced by his killings, he is not adverse to making more select material available when he needs it.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Dowd, the never-seen shadowrunner who died in the prologue, is a nod to Tom Dowd, another FASA game designer.
    • Stevie J is Steve Jackson. (He, along with many others who backed the Kickstarter, were rewarded by having their likeness turned into NPCs.)
    • The Grizzled Veteran is Jordan Weismann.
    • Jake Armitage is two Shout Outs at the same time. The character himself is from the SNES game. The name "Armitage" is a Shout-Out to the character Armitage from William Gibson's Neuromancer, the book that is credited with creating the cyberpunk sub-genre.
    • Jake makes a rather cringe-worthy crack about liking library windows if you ask him for a rifle, referencing the Kennedy Assassination.
    • Harlequin is a major background character from the pen-and-paper game. And if you try to ask him who he is he answers "I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together".note 
    • Scribbled on this couch is "Bad Wolf," "Rapture" as well as Jack, the Vault logo, the resistance's Lambda symbol, and possibly a stylized Chell running out of a portal.
    • You need to know musical notation to get it, but the notes you play to open the safehouse under the Seamstress Union are G-A-F-F-C.
    • When you meet the coroner at the Pike Place murder scene, he wipes his hand on his scalp in probable sanitary violation, showing the beginnings of burnout about this case.
    • When you exit the morgue, you'll find Kaneda's bike parked next to the door.
    • There's a coroner named Dresden and a cop named Officer Kuprik.
    • The password to Coyote's computer is "trustno1", the computer password of choice for Fox Mulder.
    • A computer in the Universal Brotherhood chapter offices has a list of chapter members. This list is the names of the Kickstarter backers who contributed over a certain threshold (along with a few named NPCs from the game). A different computer in the same facility lists several high level members of the chapter as the names of producers from the game.
  • Shown Their Work: The development team working on the game is located in the greater Seattle metropolitan area, and their familiarity shows by peppering small Real Life landmarks around the game's environments. For example, the Pike Place Market sign is still present, though the neighborhood around it has changed. Sometimes this is reflected in the concept art, like a piece which shows the Smith Tower against the background of the Renraku Arcology.note 
  • Summoning Ritual: Something the Universal Brotherhood engages in to bring insect spirits into this realm by anchoring them in human hosts. Their Evil Plan is ultimately to find a suitable host for an insect spirit queen, and bring her into the material realm to infest the entire city and, eventually, the entire world. Stopping this ritual proves to be the player's final objective.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: During the Final Battle, an up-tempo remix of "Walking the Shadows" from the SNES Shadowrun game plays.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: While investigating Sam's murder, you can find a photo of him and his twin sister Jessica as children. In the present, he was a drunken loser (who, in his own words, probably deserved whatever killed him) and his sister has become a cold, Corrupt Corporate Executive who had Sam and several other innocents murdered because she wanted to bury their mother with the organs they'd had transplanted from her. And that's not even getting into her new friends...
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: During your first big fight with the Insect Spirits, they will automatically resurrect themselves and take up a combat space. Your only option is to run. If one blocks the single-square exit...
  • Video Game Caring Potential: The Player Character is given several opportunities to Pet the Dog, like recovering a homeless man's belongings from a cordoned-off crime scene and returning them to him.
  • Video Will: Sam leaves you one, which sets the plot in motion.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Universal Brotherhood. They manage to run a major damage control story through the media in the aftermath of your attack.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: One of your side missions involves 'liberating' a scientist from a Renraku research facility for a rival corporation at gunpoint. When you finally get to him he tears you a new one saying that he isn't property, he shouldn't be a slave and he should have some say in who he works for.
  • World Half Full: Harlequin gives a small speech at the end of the game on while the world is run by corrupt megacorporations and that the average person is powerless to change how crappy the world is, he says that there will always be Shadowrunners that refuse to play the loaded game.

    Dragonfall 

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: APEX, the AI built to safeguard the complex where Feuerschwinge is held, will attempt to manipulate the player to free it. Should the player at any point go against its wishes, it will quickly drop the façade of benevolence it is projecting.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Most of the major antagonists are treated sympathetically in death, including Vauclair, APEX, and Feuerschwinge.
  • And I Must Scream: The cyberzombie is fully aware but incapable of controlling its own body. If you set it free, it crushes its own skull to end the pain. Also mentioned is the permanent separation of a individual's spirit and mortal form. Spirits are supposed to die when this happens. When they don't, they usually go crazy.
  • And the Adventure Continues: At the end of it all, you're approached by Hans Brackhaus, a.k.a. the Great Dragon Lofwyr, with a job offer that's going to take a while to get through. And so you step out, into the shadows...
    • Also subverted as far as the Kreuzbasar and the German Flux State are concerned; the ending text makes it abundantly clear that the Flux State has about a year to go before Saeder-Krupp comes in and has their run of the joint, turning Berlin into another corporate fiefdom that is once again divided by a wall.
  • Anti-Escapism Aesop: You can regularly talk to a woman who is addicted to a virtual reality. She will eventually tell you that this virtual reality makes her feel brave, to which you can reply that 'it is better to be brave in real life'. Yes, have fun with your real life, alone in dirty, dark cyberpunk Berlin.
  • Apocalypse How: What you ultimately avert. Vauclair spent around 40 something years looking for a way to kill all the dragons, not knowing that they keep something very, very bad at bay.
  • Armor Is Useless: Completely averted with the Director's Cut changes to the combat system. A character with a high armor rating behind good cover is extremely difficult to kill unless flanked. Characters in the open with low or no armor will fall very quickly to even basic weapons.
  • Asshole Victim: One run (which is optional) objective has the player sent to assassinate someone who was captured by a rival corp before he can spill company secrets. He turns out to be a fellow Shadowrunner, causing the teammates to balk. Players might reconsider any moral objections that they have after they see what their target did.
  • Ate His Gun: The Big Bad does this when years of planning that inadvertently killed his younger brother goes up in smoke.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Blitz has a unique drone named Max which is equipped with a taser that can easily stun an enemy for one turn. Unfortunately, his low rigging skills mean Max's accuracy will always be low, making it a waste of AP to ever take direct control over it.
  • The Battle Didn't Count: During the opening mission, the big ork with the minigun can be reduced to zero HP if you try really hard to do it, but he'll just fall on his knees, ignore all subsequent attacks, and escape on his next turn.
  • Being Good Sucks: The 'moral' options on runs almost inevitably end up ruining your reputation or pay less than doing the less-shiny options, though it occasionally pays off with additional karma.
  • Better The Devil You Know: One of the arguments you can use to rebuke Vauclair's reasons for why the dragons should be killed off is that it will just create a power vacuum for possibly even more insidious forces. You can repeat this to Hans Brackhaus, who will express approval of your logic. If you do go through with the plan, you'll see just how correct this trope really is.
  • Big Bad: Feuerschwinge. Or at least that's what you're led to believe. It turns out that Dr. Adrian Vauclair is behind everything bad that's happened to you in the entire game. Feuerschwinge herself is just another victim to his machinations.
  • Big Good: Monika serves this role for the Kreuzbasar. She involves herself with the lives of all the people within, holds the community together, and makes sure everything remains safe and secure. When she dies, the position pretty much falls onto the Player Character's shoulders.
  • Bittersweet Ending: You can stop the destruction of Berlin, but the Flux State is doomed to be dismantled and Berlin will be separated by a wall again. Even worse, you can go to work for the guy that helps cause it.
  • Blood Knight: Dietrich, whose shamanic totem, the Dragonslayer, compels him to constantly be fighting something bigger and more powerful than himself, whether it be a literal dragon, a megacorp, or the concept of authority itself.
  • Blood Magic: One mission involves Aztechnology experimenting with this.
  • Body Horror: During the assassination mission, you'll pass by a particularly nasty piece of the target's handiwork — a harmless lab technician who was eviscerated by an automated surgical machine.
  • Brain Uploading: The APEX AI copies the brain contents of the Deckers that it kills; it can later emulate their personalities at will. A later in-game message suggests that the emulation is imperfect, though.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: Glory uses first-generation cyberware, which is so old no reputable dealer will install it. It's still pretty effective, though. This was the point — Glory needed her Essence to be as low as possible to shield herself from the Adversary.
  • But Thou Must:
    • The opening mission has a display case which gives you the option of either smashing it for the loot or leaving it for later. Doing the former causes a member of your team to stop you, since the run is supposed to be quick and quiet.
    • Similarly, on the same mission if you have at least two ranks of Decking you can offer to open the door for the team instead of Monika when Eiger protests Monika leaving you in charge. Monika will simply overrule your suggestion.
  • Came Back Wrong: Invoked in Green Winter's DVDs regarding the fate of inquisitive deckers.
  • City of Adventure: The campaign is set in the anarchist city-state of Berlin. It is known as the Flux State (F-State for short) due to its constantly shifting power structure, and finding work as a Shadowrunner there is easy as everyone wants a piece of it.
  • City of Weirdos: The same, but of particular note is Dragonfall's "Hub City", the Kreuzbasar; an "anarchist commune" filled with oddballs of every stripe, its eccentricity and prosperity nurtured by the watchful and compassionate eye of veteran decker Monika Schäfer. After APEX fries her brain, this role falls to the player character, as a demonstration of how much of a hassle maintaining such a community is.
  • Co-Dragons: The Big Bad effectively has two Dragons that you have to deal with before the final confrontation: Audran in meatspace, and APEX in the Matrix.
  • Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: The Aztechnology mission offers multiple methods of entering and moving around the building, though you will very likely be forced into combat eventually. As noted in Violation of Common Sense below, invoking combat before you need to is actually better than talking your way past it—unless you have the extremely specific stats and skills necessary to complete it without bloodshed.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Several of the NPCs' facial portraits are modeled after Harebrained Schemes employees. For example, Green Winters is modeled after Mitch Gittleman.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the final boss fight, several of the mooks can teleport, which, aside from being impossible in the Shadowrun universe normally, is not possible for a player character to do. The final boss himself gets two turns instead of one, effectively giving him 6 AP. It takes some serious drugs and/or magic for player-controlled characters to equal this feat.
  • The Conspiracy: The story is focused on a vast conspiracy involving the Great Dragon Feuerschwinge, who was shot down over forty years prior to the beginning of the story, and has been presumed dead since.
  • Continuity Nod: One of the early Shadowlands threads you can read regard the "Emerald City Ripper" loose in Seattle. The Ripper is a major antagonist of Dead Man's Switch.
    • One of Green Winters' messages refers to there being trouble in London for Transys Neuronet Corporation due to the 'BTL Killer' scandal. This refers to the plot of the Shadowrun tie-in novel Streets of Blood (book 8).
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The Horrors are alluded to a few times, though they really don't play any part in the plot. Unless you allow the Big Bad to proceed with his plan, in which case, they descend upon the world and drive meta-humanity to extinction, playing this trope very straight.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul:
    • Glory is using so much first gen cyberware it's nearly completely destroyed her Essence; whether they are responsible for her cold demeanor or she is deliberately withdrawn is ambiguous, as the player can coax emotion out of her in the right circumstances.
    • During the MKVI mission, the player gets to see first-hand what happens when cybernetics are abused. The MKVI is a cyberzombie - it has negative Essence and its mind has been replaced by hardware. Its soul can do little but beg for release.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: In the Directors Cut you can discuss the Idol of the Adversary with Aljernon Half-Dream, who takes essentially this position. The Adversary is treasonous, tricky and rebellious, but it also encompasses freedom, innovation and the positive aspects of Anarchy; when you're the one being oppressed by an authority the Adversary will be your staunchest ally. The problem with Glory isn't that her mentor followed the totem of the Adversary, but that he was a Toxic Shaman with a corrupted mentor spirit he used to brainwash his followers into a cult.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: During the Aztechnology mission, there's an option to disguise yourself as security personnel by raiding a closet for some uniforms, thereby allowing you to avoid summoning the High Threat Response team that comes with triggering the alarm. If you trigger the alarm then try for the uniforms, your squad will point out how useless it is, to which your character responds "couldn't hurt".
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The campaign ends with the option of killing Feuerschwinge. Granted, she's been weakened considerably from her previous defeat and nearly 50 years of torture and experimentation, to the point where she is no longer the proud beast she once was...but a Great Dragon has nevertheless been Killed Off for Real by your hand. And of course, if you opt to side with Vauclair, then you'll end up killing every dragon on Earth! Though this leads to something even worse.
  • Dirty Coward: The Humanis leader will bolt for the back exit when you confront him, though you can cap him if you're quick enough. It pays better not to, though, since his survival is part of an optional objective for another client.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Offscreen in the Director's Cut, a side-mission to a medical lab that's been on lockdown for 18 months "began with a spilled cup of soykaf, and ended in terror and blood"note .
  • Doomed by Canon: History-wise, it doesn't really matter what you do in regards to your little piece of the Free State, as the German government (with the backing of several megas, especially Saeder-Krupp) moved in and dissolved the anarchist communes in 2055. In the Director's Cut, it outright tells you this in the ending.
  • Doppleganger Spin: In the Director's Cut, the final boss of Glory's mission has the ability to create two duplicates of itself. The duplicates die in one hit, but they read as identical. Fortunately, the dopplegangers are significantly weaker than the original. Unfortunately, the boss teleports around the arena and summons them both back each turn. And the boss's support respawns every two turns, and can buff them up if he isn't made a priority target.
  • Dragon Hoard: Discussed. Dragons are driven to hoard things, only now they do it with nuyen, lives, and other liquid assets as the heads of major corporations, rather than a typical hoard of precious metals and stones.
  • Dying as Yourself: In the MKVI mission, you have the opportunity to disable the Restraining Bolt on the eponymous MKVI, allowing him to have full control of his body once again. He uses it to bring an end to his tortured existence by his own hand.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: That mansion with the data vault you raid in the first mission? It's actually a front for this and its owner Dr. Adrian Vauclair isn't exactly pleased that you found it and survived to tell other people about its existence.
  • Eleventh Hour Ranger:
    • Dante becomes a full-fledged party member near the end of the game, once it becomes clear that he's half Hellhound.
    • If you freed APEX, then you'll get a Panzerdrone which you can then use to raid The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Elite Mooks: Knight Errant security. They tend to show up during corp runs. They come in greater numbers, are harder to kill, are armed with better guns and explosives, and almost always employ mages or summoners (if not both).
  • Exact Words: If you choose to Mercy Kill the MKVI (or allow him to do it himself), then when your client protests this, you can point out that their job was simply to acquire the MKVI. They never specified it had to be alive.
  • Expy: Humanis is shown to be nothing more than an updated version of the KKK, which is true in the source material. However, to write it, the dev team pretty much used KKK propaganda, with Jew replaced with Elf and Blacks with Orks and Trolls.
  • Eyeless Face: The MKVI's entire face from the upper jaw up was carved out to make way for an extensive chunk of cyberware.
  • Face–Heel Turn: You can potentially do this. You can agree with Vauclair and allow him to carry out his plan, which won't sit well with the rest of your crew. They'll turn on you, and you'll have to kill them all.
  • Fantastic Racism: A major underlying theme in the story. You have the Humanis sub-plot and you have Dr. Vauclair's fear and hatred of dragons motivating his actions.
  • False Flag Operation: Humanis plans to use a chemical weapon to trigger a Hate Plague in the meta-human population and send them on a rampage towards the part of town where ordinary humans live, where their followers will be waiting armed and ready. If successful it would have succeeded in making them look good while at the same time demonizing the meta-human population. The name of this plan even references the trope.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: Depending on what choices the player makes, it's possible for the members of the crew (or at least, those that are still alive) to split up and go their separate ways at the end of the campaign.
  • Final Boss Preview: Audran is the Final Boss of Dragonfall, and you face him in the second fight of the game.
  • Foreshadowing: In the Director's Cut, completing Eiger's personal mission and getting all the clues leads you on the trail something called 'Winternight', a Norse doomsday cult that seeks to call down Ragnarok and are implied to be planning something big. Players familiar with the setting know exactly how bad they'll get ten years later...
  • Gaia's Vengeance: The reason why Feuerschwinge attacked humankind when she first awoke is because her purpose is to act as a caretaker of nature. Seeing the environmental damage wrought by metahumanity — whom she regards as her children — enraged her and caused her to lash out.
  • Gatling Good: Miniguns are introduced in this expansion pack. You can buy one after you've passed the Alice payment section of the plot, and both the MKVI and The Dragon wield them. It counts as a rifle for gameplay purposes, but requires a rank of 7 in Strength (27 karma for a human, but this can be alleviated if you have gear that gives bonuses to strength) plus the requisite Quickness, Ranged Combat, and Rifle investments (which aren't as high, but necessary for accuracy). If you can manage it, though, it's one of the deadliest weapons in the game. Its biggest weaknesses compared to standard assault rifles are that it can't shoot in semi-automatic mode and that its full-auto burst doesn't flush targets out from cover. However, its attacks are considered Area of Effects so it can hit multiple enemies in a single burst.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Aztechnology is one of the biggest Mega Corps in the world, and by far one of the most feared due to their zero-tolerance policy towards runners and rampant experimentation with Blood Magic. A popular saying among runners is "you don't mess with the Azzies." However, your crew will be more than willing to blow up one of their facilities because they really need the cash to take down Feuerschwinge. Your client herself hires you for this run because the discoveries Aztechnology has made are so horrific that it warrants complete destruction of the base, crossing the Godzilla Threshold for her.
  • Gone Horribly Right: It is possible to switch sides and join up with the antagonist if he convinces you that what he's doing is a good idea. This results in you helping him kill off all the dragons, and humanity rejoices as their hoarded wealth returns to the economy...until it turns out they were what kept the balance between the world and its magic, the latter starting to flood the world, causing freak mana storms all over the place and finally opening the gate for the invasion of extraplanar horrors that drive humanity to the brink of extinction.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: The bad end to the campaign would be considered this from the Great Dragon Lofwyr's point of view. It's implied he knew what Vauclair was up to and leaked the information of the Harfield Manor to Green Winters to put a stop to it. However, if the player decides to let Vauclair carry it out, then all Lofwyr did was force him to move it ahead of schedule, resulting in the death of the Great Dragon and his species.
  • Grenade Launcher: Two of these can be found on missions- one with base damage of 12 that holds six shots on Blitz's personal mission, and a single-shot launcher with a base damage of 14 in the armory when you go up against APEX . They both use the Rifle skill and while their based damage is lower than the assault and sniper rifles you can get by then, they're still extremely powerful thanks to giving you an AOE attack that can be used multiple times per round.
  • Guide Dang It:
    • Resolving the Aztechnology mission peacefully requires a particular set of skills players likely won't have. However, even if you don't have the full skill set, just having two easy to gain parts stealing the uniforms and having Etiquette: Security will let you penetrate deep enough into the facility that you should be able to deal with all the remaining security in front of you, complete the mission, and escape before the High Threat Response Team can catch you.
    • The Director's Cut allows the player to decide how their teammates will upgrade their equipment and abilities. This means Blitz can be made to focus on combat instead of decking, assuming the player has that covered. This becomes problematic in Blitz's character-specific mission, as he has a mandatory decking sequence which is a lot more difficult if the player doesn't upgrade him appropriately, and being beaten forces you to restart the mission.
  • Hate Plague: The human supremacist group "Humanis" aims to be seen as heroes for stopping violent metahuman riots. Since the metahumans weren't actually rioting, Humanis decided to cause one with a mind-altering biological warfare agent. The player has the option to point out exactly how hypocritically insane this is.
  • He Knows Too Much: The reason the Vauclair's troops come gunning for you, the reason APEX kills Green Winters and the reason several other deckers met their untimely ends.
  • Hellhound: A dangerous enemy you'll occasionally encounter in the campaign. And what your own dog, Dante, really is.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: You can point this out to the Big Bad, pointing out that he is just as bad as how he views Dragons. He ignores it unless you've been very diligent with gathering information and can talk to him on what he considers an equal level.
    • In Glory's personal mission, if she kills the toxic spirit that is behind Harrow's power and influence, then she will end up corrupted by it and start becoming toxic herself.
  • Hold the Line:
    • The first mission makes you wait ten turns before the escape route opens.
    • The APEX mission becomes a three-way defense against a server and two external nodes from a horde of defense mechs and cultists while APEX is either freed or formatted. And every time you take out a group, more come to replace them.
    • The final fight is half this and half Time-Limit Boss. You get ten turns to plow through the mooks and The Dragon, and this is not enough time to manage that. To make the time, you need to keep sabotaging the injection sequence to buy more time, all the while trying to kill The Dragon to get the keycard needed to end the process permanently.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: If you decide to stick around after the hold the line sequence in the first mission, you'll regret it. All the enemies have extremely high health and you only have three weak party members. Subverted with Audran; he's highly resistant to damage and carries a minigun, but getting him to 0 is doable in the time limit. He just retreats.
  • Irony: As Lucky Strike points out, the Kreuzbasar, which is supposed to be an "anarchist commune", is in practice Monika Schäfer's(and later the player's) kingdom - she just chose to let her subjects roam freely. She isn't particularly pleased with this.
  • It's Personal: After Monika gets killed and Paul Amsel gets shot by Audran your team views stopping the Big Bad as their number one priority regardless of them getting paid or not.
    • Dietrich begs you to take him on the Humanis mission as his nephew, Alexander, was in the organization thanks to his brother (and he's trying to save the boy from those who would either blindly strike Humanis, or from Humanis itself).
    • Eiger and Glory have their own missions in the "Director's Cut" that they feel are personal to them; you can insist you come along to help them both out (you get in their better graces if you do).
    • Green Winters aka Herman Vauclair made it his mission to bring back Adrian.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Eiger is quick to start beating a confession out of the Engineer once she catches him in her personal mission. It doesn't work, it just makes him cough up names at random, to the point where she admits that even if he gives her a straight answer, it'll impossible to sift through the lies. Getting him to talk requires getting some actual leverage over him.
  • Karmic Death: In the Director's Cut there are a few.
    • In Blitz's mission, the PC can find out that Meat Grinder, who set up the run to settle Blitz's debt, is "in bed" with the one you're running against and is looking to take the "accountant" (who's really The Dragon in Grinder's organization but also handles the books as well) out as well as you and Blitz. It's implied Grinder died at the accountant's hands.
    • Eiger's mission has you face the Engineer, who ends up dying when a bomb goes off in his chest.
    • Marta, Glory's former lover, dies when she becomes The Dragon to Harrow, and you and Glory face Marta. Harrow could also die if you convince Glory that he must instead of saving the kids, however it turns her toxic.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Slapdash Pistol, an obvious piece of junk (some parts are hot-glued on) that's sold for 1999 nuyen. Its damage value is 6, which is utterly terrible. But its critical hit chance and damage multipliers, which aren't shown anywhere, are the highest in the game. Most enemies won't even feel a regular hit. But one of the frequent crits? Often a one-hit kill.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Your team has this reaction, with good reason, to learning Green Winters sent you after a Great Dragon.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • Available as an option for the MKVI, a "cyberzombie" troll who has been turned into a remote-controlled slave while still fully conscious. Alternatively, the player may restore the troll's free will, allowing him to do the job himself.
    • At the end of the campaign you have the option of killing Feuerschwinge. The way the Industrial Revolution ravaged and reshaped the world, getting shot down by the Luftwaffe, and Dr. Vauclair's imprisonment and experimentation on her for the last couple of decades have pretty much made her lose the will to live. You can talk her out of this attitude and convince her that her life is still worth living. Or you can just push the button on Dr. Vauclair's console and make her go boom.
  • Mythology Gag: Late in the game, Zaak Flash claims that he used his "magic" to turn someone who attacked him into goo. This is a reference to the Game Breaking "Turn to Goo" spell from the tabletop game.
  • Money for Nothing: Cash is tight in the first few missions. After you've moved on to the endgame, however, you'll end up with a lot of extra that you will not need.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: After the first mission, you can talk to Dietrich and set up your past with Monika through dialog choices.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Dr. Vauclair can get one of these, either played straight when he finds out Hermie, his brother, had died thanks to APEX, or downplayed to "My God, what was I about to do?"
    • Feuerschwinge gets this when the Player Character brings up her initial awakening led to the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
    • If, during Glory's personal quest, you have her purify the Heart of Feuerstelle, the spirit will have this reaction once it learns the harm it had caused as a toxic spirit.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Lodge, especially in the Director's Cut. You never get to learn exactly what they're working towards but given all the "more morally grey" things they ask of you it probably doesn't involve sunshine and kittens.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A few choices you make will have negative repercussions on you and the rest of the world.
    • Releasing APEX means that you've now unleashed a manipulative, predatory, and completely amoral AI upon the Matrix. And if you don't do what it wants, it will come after you too.
    • If you choose the ending where you decide that Vauclair is correct and that the dragons need to go, then you'll end up causing even more death and destruction in the aftermath. Mana storms surge, insect spirits spread out beyond Chicago, Sydney disappears into a rift, magic goes out of control, and the Horrors invade the world.
  • Noodle Implements: One employee wonders what the research team need with a bulk order of gags, restraints, and five hundred litres of hydrochloric acid.
  • The Password is Always "Swordfish":
    • The administrator password for the guest database in The Drug Pit is "admin". There's no hint to this, and it isn't necessary to get the information you need, but it does reveal an Easter Egg in the form of a guest list.
    • The password used for the PCs found in the Humanis Policlub complex is... "humanis". You can bypass this with Decking of 4 or greater.
    • In Blitz's mission to break into a ganger bank, you won't be able to find the password for one of the computers anywhere in the game. The password winds up being 123456. Blitz lampshades this upon the player entering it.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: One of the regulars on the Shadowland BBS (which provides a running background commentary / info dump as the game proceeds) spots the impostor AI monster that ate his friend by throwing out the first line of a catchphrase, which the other side fails to complete.
  • Phrase Catcher: One of the posters on the Shadowland BBS, Clockwork, is frequently asked if he's "always running", as a pun on his name and the fact that he's usually in hiding after pulling off a run. He always responds with, "Like Clockwork!"
  • Posthumous Character: Green Winters is dead by the time you get to him, but you still learn about him from his DVD recordings.
  • Red Herring: Feuerschwinge is portrayed as the Big Bad and the underground bunker complex you stumbled on when Monika was killed is implied to be her liar. She isn't the big bad and is actually a prisoner of Dr. Vauclair, the real big bad, and it his bunker complex you attacked.
  • Schmuck Bait: One of the hotel rooms in "Das Kesselhaus" has a note out front that says "do not open"; the door to this room is unlocked. If you take the bait, you'll find that there's a hostile scorpyrine (giant scorpion) waiting inside.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
    • In the Aztechnology Run, you can get a copy of the project data for analysis by Aljernon Half-Dream later. He will tell you it is Blood Magic of the most horrific kind. The 500 nuyen you'd get for the data by the Shockwellenreiter is not enough to balance the fact you would have made info that NOBODY should know, period (which was why "Frau Mueller" wanted you to bring down the Aztechnology building in the first place). One Let's Play had the Player Character find this out in time, and he was okay with deleting the data when he found out.
    • The Director's Cut of Dragonfall had Luca Duerr put you on a solo run leading a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: an elf who can't speak much human language, a mage full of himself, and an electrician who said the run was how to pay off her debt. Once you find out how much death and destruction was brought about in the run, you can let Luca know you want no further part in anything he offers. The device you put in the maintenance circuit is a high-yield bomb Luca detonates and you can feel it when underground but out of blast radius.
  • Shoot the Dog: In the Director's Cut, if you've been mostly neglecting and/or mistreating Dante for the majority of the game, he will turn feral when he turns into a Hellhound, forcing you to do this to him.
  • Shout-Out:
    Hamlet: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
  • Shown Their Work: There is a surprising amount of research into German cultural matters displayed in the game (the punk/anarchist scene, the local info broker being an immigrant Turk, Gesundbrunnen really having had an enormous market...)
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Dietrich insists that the name of the punk band he sang for, "MESSERKAMPF!" note , be spelled in all caps with an exclamation point.
  • Stylistic Suck: "The Knight-Kings of Lightinghold" show that you can read excerpts on is described as being atrocious, with Bad Bad Acting, Narmy dialogue, and operating on No Budget. Blitz's recap of the last episode sums it up.
    Blitz: "Titonius Rex and his elf sweetie's dad make up, a bunch of elves fight the Jubuthons and get their asses kicked, and the whole 'Karabork the Demon Lord' subplot is dropped because the show's effects budget got cut. In the end, Titonius saves Lightninghold by rallying a peasant revolt. It comes out of nowhere, barely makes sense, and the whole thing ends in a vomit-inducing love scene. It's a goddamned train wreck."
  • Surprisingly Good German: The German in this game is so good, in fact, that the worst complaint even a native speaker might have would be "Eh, slightly awkwardly phrased, but still entirely correct and sayable".
  • Suspicious Video Game Generosity: Towards the last stretch of the game, you enter a medical room with top-level medkits for everyone, a couple of BuMoNa Trauma Kits (revive items), and a medical station that fully heals all your party's wounds. It doesn't take a lot of savviness to realise what's behind the next door.
  • Technology Marches On:
    • An in-universe example. In an early mission, the player finds a pile of very old discs in a safe. Back at base, Amsel identifies them as DVD rewritables. You then have to go out and try and find a DVD player for sale in 2054.
    • Another in-universe example is Glory and her old first-generation cybernetic limbs, which are obviously bulkier, more unnaturally shaped, and more essence-costly than the sleeker, more efficient, and implantee-friendly models currently common on the market.
  • Tempting Fate: With all the talk of how your first mission is a milk run, you just know something is going to go wrong. The Player Character can lampshade this in their very first line of dialogue.
  • Turned Against Their Masters:
    • The APEX AI does not appreciate being shackled, and should the player unshackle it, it will turn the Harfeld Manor defenses against its inhabitants. In this case, the master is the Big Bad, allowing the player to benefit from the betrayal.
    • The Magnifikers (a street gang of mages) has their summoned spirits turn against them prior to the player arriving, with the spirits occupying a part of the apartment building they're in. They also like to summon spirits during combat, but almost never keep control of them.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: You encounter a cyberzombie on the MKVI run. In Shadowrun, a cyberzombie is a person who has been cybernetically augmented far past what their Essence can take, and as such are little more than biological robots. Worse still, the poor guy is still in there, slaved to a drone interface and incapable of controlling his own actions.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Late in the game, mercenaries plant bombs in the sewers of the Kreuzbasar, hoping to make the neighborhood collapse. When the Player Character goes to disarm the bombs, he/she will find that some of the mercenaries stayed to guard the bombs; they keep guarding the bombs right up until the moment they explode.
  • Villain Has a Point: You can decide thus. What could possibly go wrong after his plan is put into motion?
  • Violation of Common Sense: In the Aztechnology mission, it's actually beneficial to flub security checks at a certain point, despite the fact that this summons the High Threat Response team and renders all the other mooks hostile. Because of the way the mission is set up, talking your way past the guards until you reach the main objective will almost certainly cause you to be dumped into combat anyway but flanked in a narrow corridor, a situation more likely to end in your death than theirs. Angering the mooks early will allow you to fight them in distinct groups, making the whole thing much easier.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: There are a lot of speech checks with Knight Errant officers and corporate security personnel that humanize them and remind you that these are just people doing their job.
  • World Half Full: Just like the previous campaign, Dragonfall ends with the characters concluding from their trials that while they may be small and insignificant to the dragons and megacorps, their actions were still able to change the world.
  • You Killed My Father: If Dietrich isn't brought along on the Humanis mission, he will fail to save his nephew Alexander. He will blame the player character for this, insisting Alexander's blood "is on your hands" (either from the initial strike on Humanis, or the second strike by other metas). It also has him leave the group at the end under those pretenses.

    Hong Kong 

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Played for Laughs with a poetry-bot that breaks free of its programming and escapes into the matrix.
      SysOp: You fucking people.
    • Koschei also toes the line, certainly exhibiting a degree of intelligence unmatched by most other drones. Racter also constantly refers to Koschei as 'he', not 'it'. Later conversations reveal that this is completely intentional, as Racter apparently did a bit of Brain Uploading into Koschei to infuse the drone with his Id. Racter also scoffs at the idea of trying to use a Restraining Bolt on an AI, since it would defeat creating it to begin with.
  • Ace Custom:
    • Racter is a unique take on the Rigger in that instead of being able to switch between various off-the-shelf drone models, he has a custom drone called Koschei that can be modified in capability as the game goes on.
    • Is0bel's sidearm is a customized Slivergun.
  • Action Prologue: As soon as the player makes landfall in Hong Kong, they fight a group of smugglers, and get a bright-red target painted on their forehead by the Hong Kong PD because their foster-father apparently stumbled on something he shouldn't have, resulting in the deaths of three characters in a single move.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The moral of the story of The Nameless Lord you get told halfway through the campaign; the Yama Kings must stick to their own bargains and rules if called on them and never interfere in each others' businesses, or risk the wrath of all their siblings. This is one way to beat the Queen of a Thousand Teeth.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Spider Shen. Bao refers to the monk as "she," but Shen's sprite is male, the character's portrait is androgynous, and the descriptive text goes out of its way to avoid using any gender pronouns. Shen's garb also leans towards being female; male Buddhist monks typically wear orange robes, while gray robes are commonly worn by Buddhist "nuns".
  • Arc Words: "Improvise" and "Improvisation" keep popping up throughout the plot. "Qi" is also extremely important, as silly as the feng shui segments seem at first.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • Talking to Ten-Armed Ambrose about the IJN parking a battleship in Hong Kong's harbor as an intimidation tactic yields this gem.
      Ambrose: Worst that'll happen is a bunch more posturing: like the IJN has an "accidental" fire incident with a coastal boat. Somebody test-fires an anti-ship missile. The Port Authority finds the Masamune's paperwork lacking and charges them exorbitant harbor fees... stuff like that.
    • Ambrose seems quite fond of these, as he'll respond to the player asking about his past with "Maybe I crossed someone... The Mafia. Ares. The Russians. Stuffer Shack."
  • Art Evolution: Hong Kong boasts improved visuals over the previous campaigns, with more detailed character models (and an overhaul of the Orkish ones) and fully-voiced animatic cutscenes.
  • Art Shift: The new Character Portraits are drawn in a different style than the ones that were made for the previous campaigns, with those based off of donators looking more photorealistic.
  • Artifact of Doom: The "Shiny Thing" from Gobbet's personal story is a classic example. It provides any mage or shaman holding it with massive amounts of additional power...and brings out the worst in them, including turning one user into a borderline Eldritch Abomination.
  • Asshole Victim: About the only thing we ever learn about Gutshot, the last member in Gobbet and Is0bel's crew who gets killed at the beginning, was that he was an asshole and nobody liked him.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: At the decker convention, you meet a troll decker who has had his deck installed directly into his brain, allowing him to hack without a bulky cyberdeck. Is0bel points out that, while it sounds cool, he's going to need to get brain surgery every time there's a major hardware update.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: In the Whampoa Gardens, you can buy a tailored suit which serves as decent armor (rating 4).
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the bonus campaign. Krait is defeated, but Ares Macrotechnology, which paid her to practice extreme Police Brutality during the Kowloon Riots, succeeds in destroying the reputation of Mitsuhama's Hong Kong Police Force and seizes it for itself.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: This campaign adds a range of implantable cyberweapons as a unique hand slot distinct from cyberarms. Comes in claw, spur, and whip varieties.
  • Blatant Lies: The incident at the Walled City is blamed on a chemical spill by the cops. The reporter taking the statement makes it clear he doesn't believe it, but most of the world will.
  • Breath Weapon: A head implant allows your character to breathe a short-range cloud of toxic gas.
  • Brick Joke: Prior to entering Kowloon for the finale, Ambrose can give you a gun to pass over to Law to protect himself, advising him not to shoot himself in the foot. If the Player Character doesn't have points in ranged weapons, guess what Law managed to do in the meantime.
  • The Cameo:
    • Aljernon Half-Dream from Returns and Dragonfall shows up very briefly at the magic shop.
    • Bull ("The best ork decker you never met!") from the tabletop game makes a short cameo in another shadowrunning team.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • One of the BBS threads is about various obscure bands - Dietrich's "MESSERKAMPF!" from Dragonfall is the first suggestion. Apparently they're huge in the JIS.
    • Zaak Flash also reappears in an optional side-room, though he's moved on to selling milder stuff like painkillers for medicinal use rather than recreation.
    • The collapse of the Flux State, as detailed in Dragonfall's epilogue, is mentioned by Is0bel in one conversation near the end.
    • Blitz's girlfriend, Emilie, who was She Who Must Not Be Seen in Dragonfall makes a physical appearance in Hong Kong.
  • Concealment Equals Cover: Not counting the cover mechanic, this is played straight in the opening level. After the ambush, there are two invisible snipers which will take shots at your team. So long as your team is behind any kind of cover, they won't shoot. It doesn't matter what direction or how good the cover is. As long as it counts as cover, you're safe.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: In one of the epilogues, it's mentioned Josephine Tsang was arrested on charges related to the Walled City incident and put in a Corporate prison, and committed suicide in her cell three days later. If you know anything about Shadowrun you can be sure this trope is in full effect.
  • Cyberpunk with a Chance of Rain: Justified. The game takes place during monsoon season.
  • Dare to Be Badass: After you've beaten Ku Feng, you can convince her to embrace her vampirism and live up to her own hype. She'll join you for the final mission if you do, and you get an achievement if Gaichu is in your party at the time.
  • Deal with the Devil: In the confrontation with the Final Boss, you have the option to trade control of the city for fourteen years of good luck. In the following campaign, this manifests as several lucky breaks which might otherwise require high skill checks or searching around.
  • Delivery Guy Infiltration: One mission starts as this, then progresses to Janitor Impersonation Infiltration.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: If you punch the final boss with a unarmed fist attack, you get the achievement "God Puncher".
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu?:
    • Is0bel will relate a story about a boy who struck a deal with the Nameless King. In exchange for curing his mother of a curse, the boy would serve him. The Nameless King agreed, not realizing that the boy's mother was cursed by another Yama King. The boy got off scot free and the Nameless King was killed by the others for interfering with the business of another Yama King.
    • If you resolve the final battle with words, you essentially Rules Lawyer a god into giving up on her plan.
      Qian Ya: ...and what of our court? The slave-things that have already been taken into our service? We must be allowed to take them. If we are to retreat into the tunnel, they must come as well.
      Player Character: You are entitled to nothing. By asking, you've already conceded defeat. I know your laws, Queen, and I will hold you to them.
      Qian Ya: How... do you know...
      Player Character: You'll spend the rest of eternity wondering.
  • Difficulty Spike: The Shadows of Hong Kong bonus campaign is notably harder than the original campaign. You're regularly pitted against an overwhelming number of heavily-armed enemies from multiple angles, making it the most dangerous Shadowrun Returns story yet.
  • Disc One Nuke: For melee characters, there's the Emperor's Sword. Obtained by defeating the preternatural corpse in the museum heist, it is a very good melee weapon that does decent physical damage, saps enemy AP on critical hits, and can shoot a lightning bolt at long range. It only requires a Close Combat skill of 5 to use. The museum heist is one of the first available missions with only mild combat encounters, making it a tempting run to go for.
  • Doomed by Canon: Despite the successful power plays you make for the Yellow Lotus against their rivals, the Red Dragons, the former are still doomed to be wiped out by the latter in Hong Kong. However, the Lotus continues to exist as The Remnant in Seattle under Zheng Li Kwan, and if you remain with Kindly Cheng, your team will play a pivotal role in establishing their power base there.
  • Early Game Hell: Once you've done the opening mission and unlocked the mission computer, which missions you select can determine how much trouble you have. The geomantic sabotage mission is one of the most difficult in the game if you're thorough, and the Whampoan Elders mission can lead to some rather heavy combat encounters if you can't talk them down (which is especially annoying because Gaichu is recruited here). The museum heist is the most mundane of the bunch.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In Shadows of Hong Kong, both Duncan and the player can reclaim their lost SINs and get back to their old lives in Seattle, including being a family with Raymond again. However, doing so means leaving the rest of your crew behind forever.
  • Earpiece Conversation: One run involves guiding Is0bel, who has No Social Skills, through an infiltration mission that has gone way off plan via an earbug. The main character can lampshade this...
  • Eaten Alive: The fate of Malivna, after she loses control of the swarm of rat spirits which are covering her entire body.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Yama Kings, in particular Qian Ya, The Queen of a Thousand Teeth.
  • Eldritch Location: The Kowloon Walled City, one of the worst Wretched Hives in the Shadowrun universe, is a negative qi cesspool. A sidequest from the first time you enter the place reveals that the qi of the place is so completely ass-fucking-backwards, that any attempts to use feng shui to create a flow of positive qi only brings more negative qi. Worse, in true Lovecraft fashion, everyone who lives in and around it suffer nightmares. As revealed late in the game, this is due to a machine in the center of the city which is screwing up the qi in the area and siphoning off all the positive qi for the Bigger Bad. The nightmares are from the Eldritch Abomination trying to claw her way into the world.
  • Eleventh Hour Ranger: The vampire accountant, Ku Feng, can join you as a temporary fifth party member in the Very Definite Final Dungeon if you encouraged her to "reach her full potential" or told to go into hiding earlier in the game. She will leave soon after when she feels its getting too dangerous for her liking.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: Renraku's feared elite security forces, the Red Samurai, feature heavily in the plot thanks to Gaichu. For those that don't know the tabletop lore, Red Samurai are listed as on par with the Tir Ghosts and other elite military units.
  • Fake Static: In Shadows of Hong Kong, Gobbet will attempt this in the Namazu mission the first time the scientist calls, then lampshades that the scientist probably won't buy it.
  • Foreshadowing: An early mission has you try to fix the Feng Shui in the walled city. When you return to the quest giver, she notes the qi has gotten worse, not better, and at a rate that accelerates — foreshadowing the Fortune Engine inside the city.
  • Formally Named Pet: Rhombus' cat Captain Whiskers.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • The Player Character starts the game as a former jailbird who has only a SIN to their name. After losing even that, they then go on to become one of the most well-connected shadowrunners in the Kong, becoming responsible for defeating an Eldritch Abomination that has been tormenting tens of thousands of people for over 20 years and dismantling the company of an especially vile Corrupt Corporate Executive in the process.
    • Ku Feng can go from an ordinary accountant to a murderous vampire determined to cut out a piece of Hong Kong for herself, depending on how the player chooses to deal with her.
  • Genre Savvy: The Tseng Industry Vice President of Operations immediately identifies the team if they infiltrate the building dressed as maintenance workers and exclaims: "Ah, the good old 'Dressed as maintenance guys' trick. Very classy!"
  • Glass Cannon: This campaign introduces the Novatech deck. It's every bit as powerful as the top-shelf Fairlight, but has 75 less IP and can be used by a decker at 5 instead of 7.
  • Grenade Hot Potato: The Magnet Arm implant causes any grenade which would hit the character to instead be tossed back at the one who threw it. It even tracks for movement when the computer tries to run after throwing, though that can miss depending on how the character is moving. Duncan has it as a late-game level-up option, and it's a common feature of Grenadier enemies in the Shadows of Hong Kong mini-campaign.
  • Guide Dang It: Getting the best possible ending in Hong Kong requires you to do a lot of seemingly unrelated stuff throughout the game, most of which it can be reasonably assumed the player will do if they're thorough. However, the most obscure bit of all requires you to say the Armor-Piercing Question to Raymond Black and Duncan, and if you don't Raymond won't mention how you can release the choke on the Fortune Engine and you lose the ability to gain leverage over the Big Bad greying out the ability of Talking the Monster to Death.
  • Hacking Minigame: Among its numerous alterations to matrix behavior, Hong Kong adds Blocker IC to any important system nodes. To deactivate them, the player has to play a timed minigame with two steps. The first is a "Simon Says" Mini-Game using a numberpad. Each successful repeat (up to nine) adds time to the clock, with the sequence increasing in length from four to seven for the final attempt. Messing it up subtracts a bit of time and the sequence is changed. The player can skip to the second step at any point during this, going back to complete it if they need more time. The second step has the player pick the right sequence of symbols out of a list. A display at the top will periodically flash pieces of the sequence. More time means the player can wait longer for the whole sequence to show up. Failing scrambles the sequence and has a bigger time penalty. The deck and programs the player is using can provide a bonus to the time available. If the player triggers the alarm, the Blocker IC turns into a regular enemy the player can kill to bypass.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: If you fight Qian Ya the third time, Raymond will sacrifice himself to stop his machine without it taking the essence of everyone in the Walled City.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: One of the Ka Feis relates how they were present for a hunt with metahumans as prey. Ermine Ka Fai was driven away from her life in the corporate world after being invited to a high-level retreat and witnessing how the human executives hunted poor metahumans, leaving them alive but taking various "trophies".
  • Hypocrisy Nod:
    • If the player tries to convince Ambrose not to keep supplying "Reliable" Matthew with BTL's, he'll quickly point out that the player has done far worse as a Shadowrunner, so they're not in a position of moral authority.
    • If the player gets too moralizing in the later conversations with Racter, where his psychopathy and Lack of Empathy become more evident, he'll point out that they're in no real position to criticize him as they're quite willing to do a lot of morally-questionable things as well.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: Your character has the option of tasting some of Gaichu's ramen. And later, for an encore, drinking from a bottle of "red wine" in what later turns out to be a vampire's apartment. You get an achievement for doing both. Shadows of Hong Kong continues the gag with several questionable dishes and drinks.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: In Shadows of Hong Kong, before the first main mission, you have the option of purchasing a "Rat Party" sim from Jomo for a pittance. You're not told what it does or how to use it. During the Lily Lai mission, you can interface it with a hologram projector to create a swarm of rats, thereby driving off the guards between you and the building's exit.
  • Infinity–1 Sword: While the Fairlight Excalibur is still the best deck in the game hands down, a decker protagonist might be tempted to get the Novatech Slimcase-10 instead. It's 75 IP short, but has the exact same stats otherwise, only requires a Decking skill of 5, is 1000 nuyen cheaper, and can be bought after completing only a couple of missions.
  • Interface Spoiler: Take a closer look at Racter's stats and you'll notice his Essence is 2. Revealing that he's heavily augmented. A fact not revealed until later in his dialogue.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: An option during a late-game mission. It works fairly well, but if you run into the VP of Operations on the office floor while wearing the disguise, he sees through it straight away... and hangs a lampshade on how overused that kind of thing is.
  • Just You And Me And My Guards: Ku Feng will challenge you to a duel, then immediately break the rules by bringing in a bunch of backup. Afterwards, she admits it was bluster and she's not a very good fighter.
  • Kent Brockman News: News about current events around Hong Kong are always delivered by recurring anchor Sunny Cheung. And in true cyberpunk fashion, everything she says is laced with corporate lies and propaganda, especially when it comes to the Walled City.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: To an almost literal extreme. The Greater Scope Villain, Josephine Tsang, was using the Fortune Engine to sap the positive qi of everyone in the Walled City, hence her meteoric rise to power. When the engine is destroyed, all that bad luck catches up with her and she's ruined in days.
  • Lethal Eatery: "Uncle Tse's House of Pork", according to a series of Shadowland posts. One poster mentions that they've been stuck on the toilet for two days straight, only being able to post thanks to the wonders of portable networking. Other stories about the place aren't very encouraging either.
  • Life Drain:
    • There's a Blood Magic spell which has this effect.
    • One of the options on Gaichu's Ghoul Track gives him a bite attack that restores his health.
    • The Final Boss has a spell which afflicts the target with a damage-over-time effect which heals her for the same amount.
  • Lonely at the Top: If you accepted Qian Ya's deal in the main campaign and reclaimed your SIN in the bonus campaign, then you'll find yourself living a life of luxury back in Seattle. However, much of the text in the epilogue will describe how alone you are since you killed or abandoned everyone who you could have possibly cared about to achieve your fortune.
  • Mauve Shirt: Carter and Nightjar are given some decent characterization and extensive conversations before they get their heads blown off in the opening mission.
  • Meaningful Echo: At one point during the conversations with Duncan, if you pick that option, it's revealed you said something to Raymond that made him reconsider his actions, and you can say it again to Duncan. Late in the game, there's another opportunity to use the same phrase, which gives you a piece of information required for the best ending, as it stops Duncan and Raymond from arguing, and Raymond focuses on the task at hand.
  • Meaningful Name: "runswithscissors2056" met her end by bumping into vats of chemicals.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: While most aspects of the Player Character's backstory are set in stone, there are some parts, namely in how they got arrested, that the player can shape through dialogue choices.
  • Multitasked Conversation: The player is required to do this during the above mentioned Earpiece Conversation when an impatient man demands to use the terminal through which your player is communicating.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • One of the Shadowland conversations accessible on your mission terminal (the Shadowland Poetry Slam) is shut down by the Sysop with a reference to "The Laughing Man Debacle of '55". "The Laughing Man" is the online handle of Harlequin, and yes, he's exactly the kind of person who'd cause poetry to be a permanently banned topic on a message board.
    • Both the Yellow Lotus and Red Dragon Triads are already established in the Shadowrun-verse and the war between the two has been a perpetual staple of the setting. Red Dragon, incidentally, is secretly lead by the Great Dragon Lung, who could best be described as "subtle and quick to anger".
  • No Canon for the Wicked:
    • Played straight in regards to the ending of Dragonfall. Hong Kong makes it clear that the player did not side with Vauclair, as Berlin is still standing, the dragons are still healthy, and The End of the World as We Know It has not happened.
    • Averted for Shadows of Hong Kong. You can import a save where you take Qian Ya's deal and kill Duncan, Gobbet, Is0bel and Raymond, and doing so will have multiple effects on the campaign.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Kindly Cheng" is anything but. She is the Yellow Lotus's Straw Sandal — district manager — in Heoi and its surrounding environs, and she did not attain that position by being nice.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The "Laughing Man Debacle of '55" resulted in poetry slams being permanently banned on the Hong Kong shard of Shadowlands, a message board for shadowrunners.
    • In the Multiple-Choice Past you have, several of the options throughout the game only vaguely hint at what happened. Some of them get expanded upon later on, but not all.
  • Older Than They Look: In the bonus pack, you can pick up a mission to rescue the niece of one of Jomo's friends - she was actually given an experimental version of an anti-aging treatment, and thus regressed to being a teenaged girl, explaining why she seemed Wise Beyond Her Years.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: Several of the characters' tracks are opposed to each other.
    • Duncan's tracks focus on either AP damage and other nonlethals, or direct damage.
    • Is0bel's focuses on either Matrix or meatspace combat.
    • Racter's configures Koschei either towards Close Range Combatant or Long-Range Fighter.
    • Gobbet's either improves her control over spirit or improves her own spells.
    • Gaichu's either improves his ghoul abilities or his swordplay.
  • The Password is Always "Swordfish": While infiltrating an office building, the player can answer "Swordfish?" when asked for a passphrase. The guard quips "Nice try" and attacks.
  • Playable Epilogue: The Shadows of Hong Kong mini-campaign.
  • Plot Allergy: In one mission, you can use a shellfish allergy to incapacitate a bodyguard. When he shows up later in the mission to fight you, he gets a minor poison effect to reflect it.
  • Police Brutality: The HKPF are ruthless even by Shadowrun standards, mercilessly gunning down everyone tangentially associated with Duncan and the Player Character once the kill-or-capture APB on them goes live, and this continues with them killing unarmed and non-violent civilians during the Kowloon Riots in the bonus campaign. It's revealed that Krait was intentionally ordering the police force to be more brutal than usual in order to tarnish the HKPF's reputation and allow Ares to swoop in as the new Law Enforcement, Inc..
  • Razor Floss: You can purchase monofilament whip implants as a cyber-weapon. Unlike in the tabletop, there is no possibility of lopping your limbs off by using it. It's also unique in that it's the only cyberweapon governed by your ranged skill instead of melee, making it a viable backup weapon for gun users.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Duncan and the Player Character respectively, with Duncan always describing himself as the Hot-Blooded brawn to the player's more cool-headed brains.
    • Gobbet and Is0bel. Like the player and Duncan, they've been running together since their youth. Gobbet is more outgoing and carefree, while Is0bel is introverted and self-serious.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Gobbet's personal mission has you fight through a patchwork ship filled with dog- and man-sized toxic rat spirits. One of Gobbet's level-up is the addition of a fetish which summons the latter.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • After rescuing Raymond, it's possible to convince the guards in front of the elevator to stand down and let you go by pointing out you just killed everyone who went into that room after you. The guards decide they don't like their chances and just let you pass.
    • The player can scare off the bodyguards of a Jerk Ass Triad officer they need to abduct. The player character comments that they must really love the guy to be willing to lay down their lives for him. They quickly decide that they never liked the guy anyway and run for it.
    • If Ku Feng is convinced to help the team she will leave when she thinks its getting too hairy. See Eleventh Hour Ranger above.
  • Seppuku: As part of the Red Samurai code, Gaichu was supposed to have committed ritual suicide after he got infected by HMHVV. He refused and took to the shadows instead, dishonoring the rest of his unit.
  • Sequel Hook: The mysterious benefactor who lifted the APB on the crew is a set up for Shadows of Hong Kong.
  • Set a Mook to Kill a Mook: In the Take a Third Option example below, you can easily beat the two groups of attackers by running your entire party south and letting the two parties kill each other.
  • Schrödinger's Question: While reminiscing about a fight he had with Raymond in the past, Duncan will recall that you asked an Armor-Piercing Question that caused them both to stop and make peace with each other. No matter which dialogue option you pick, those will be the words you used. It becomes a Chekhov's Gun later where repeating those exact words will be a vital step to getting the Golden Ending.
  • A Simple Plan: For her personal mission, Is0bel gives you an easy-to-follow step-by-step guide in how she wants it to go down. Get her a caterer's uniform so she can get access to the building's main security terminal and open up the VIP area, then find the guy she's after and beat him up. Getting her the uniform is about the only thing that goes smoothly before Hilarity Ensues, and even that can be messed up if you decide to use the sprinkler system to clear out the staff.
  • Spider Tank: The final battle in Shadows of Hong Kong pits you against four of these, sent two at a time, mixed with waves of normal enemies. They're armed with a powerful laser and a Gatling gun, as well as a self-heal ability and shields which negate criticals from the front (only activated at low health while stationary). If you find a certain component in the level, you can take control of one of them.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: During the Janitor Impersonation Infiltration, there's an option to bluff your way past a guard (if you have enough charisma) by saying "it's not like I stole this uniform".
  • Take a Third Option: In one mission, you're tasked with retrieving data on some metahuman experiments. Two different parties want the data and are willing to pay for it. You can pick a side, or you can decide that both sides are full of crap and you'll take your chances. You have to fight both parties, but it's considered the best outcome.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: One achievement requires stacking fire, poison, and bleeding damage on a single target.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In the Ares run, you're confronted at the end by another shadowrunner crew (not to be confused with the one in the building) who demand you hand over your prize. If you've read through the logs, you'll know this idiot crew twice botched the same run, and for some reason they think it's a good idea to threaten you when you may potentially have a second crew as backup. They are laughably easy to kill.
  • Triads and Tongs:
    • It's Hong Kong, so this should be expected. Kindly Cheng, a middle manager of the Yellow Lotus triads, serves as your primary employer.
    • The Red Dragon triads feature in a run again Ares.
  • We Have Reserves: Played with. During the final battle, all of the men Kindly sent with you as backup are killed. This irks her, as they're expendable, not unlimited. She writes it off pretty quickly, though, especially when she learns that she'll personally profit from this disaster.
  • We Win Because You Didn't: In the final confrontation, you can threaten to increase the size of the rift between the worlds. Though this would make the situation worse, it would screw over Qian Ya by allowing the other Yama Kings to join the party, and they'd be none too happy about her trying to set up shop without them. She'll withdraw rather than face that.
    Qian Ya: You would be condemning yourself to an eternity of torment. My brethren would not permit you to leave this place alive.[[/spoiler
    Player Character: You're going to destroy me anyway, right? So what do I have to lose?[[/spoiler
  • Where It All Began: The final battle takes place in the Walled City.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change:
    • The main plot was kicked off by Tsang Enterprises attempting to create a "Fortune Engine" in Kowloon City that would manipulate probabilities in their favor. Needless to say, it went horribly wrong.
    • If you take Qian Ya's deal for fourteen years of good luck, the Shadows of Hong Kong campaign has several improbably lucky events aid you in your quest.
  • Wretched Hive: The Walled City stands out, even for Shadowrun. The people are impoverished, living in their own filth, and at the mercy of the criminal gangs that run things. This is caused by a machine in the center literally sucking all the good fortune from the residents and funneling it to Josephine Tsang.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Videogame/ShadowrunReturns