Shadowrun primer

The year is 2058 …

Magic has returned to the earth after an absence of many thousands of years. What the Mayan calendar called the Fifth World has given way to the Sixth, a new cycle of magic, marked by the waking of the great dragon Ryumyo in the year 2011. The Sixth World is an age of magic and technology. An Awakened age.

The rising magic has caused archaic races to re-emerge. Metahumanity. First came the elves, tall and slender with pointed ears and almond eyes. They were born to human parents just as were dwarfs shortly thereafter. Then later came the orks and the trolls, some born changed, like elves and dwarfs, but others goblinized — transformed from human form into their true nature as the rising magic activated their DNA. Manifesting as larger bodies, heavily muscled with tusked mouths and warty skin.

Even the most ancient and intelligent of beings, the great dragons, have come out of their long hiding. Only a few of these creatures are known to exist, and most of them have chosen a life of isolation and secrecy. But some, able to assume human form, have integrated themselves into the affairs of metahumanity. They have used their ancient intellect, their powerful magic, and their innate cunning to ascend to positions of power.

The Sixth World is a far cry from the mundane environment of the Fifth. It is exotic and strange, a paradoxical blend of the scientific and the arcane. The advance of technology has reached a feverish pace. The distinction between man and machine is becoming blurred by the advent of direct neural interfacing. Cyberware. Machine and computer implants are commonplace, making metal of flesh, pulsing electrons into neurons at the speed of thought. People of the Sixth World are a new breed — stronger, smarter, faster. Less human.

The Matrix has grown like a phoenix out of the ashes of the old global computer network. A virtual world of computer-generated reality has emerged, a universe of electrons and CPU cycles controlled and manipulated by those with the fastest cyberdecks, with the hottest new code.

It is an era where information is power, where data and money are one and the same. Multinational megacorporations have replaced superpower governments as the true forces on the planet. In a world where cities have grown into huge sprawls of concrete and steel, walled-off corporate enclaves and massive arcologies have superseded two-car garages, vegetable gardens, and white picket fences. The megacorps exploit masses of wageslaves for the profit of a lucky and ruthless few.

But in the shadows of the mammoth corporate arcologies, live the SINless. Those without System Identification Numbers are not recognized by the machinery of society, by the bureaucracy that has grown so massive and complex that nobody understands it completely. Among the SINless are the shadowrunners, traffickers in stolen data and hot information, mercenaries of the street — discreet, effective, and untraceable.