It is the year 2075 and many events have occurred in the past that have led to this dystopian future.
In 2011 the “Awakening” occurred. This event heralded the return of magic into the world and the beginning of the sixth world (each world refers to a new world on the Mayan calendar which either has an influx or outflux of magic). The minority that were capable of reaching into and controlling the mana which flows throughout the entirety of the world were called the awakened and were met with fear, distrust, aggression and wonder.
Before the awakening the seeds of big corporations began to be sewn in the USA. Laws were passed that eventually led to what is known as “extraterritoriality” which is basically the ability of corporations to bypass all laws whilst on their own property. After years of abusing this corporations have basically taken over the world. Governments of different nations remain only because they are able to make laws and enforce them to an extent thus making life easier for the large corporations.
Not long before the Awakening there were what are now known as spike babies born. These babies were orcs, elves and dwarves born from normal human parents. After the Awakening these babies were born far more often leading to what is called metahumanity. Some years after the Awakening “Goblinization” occurred in which many normal humans suddenly began transforming into giant tusked creatures called Trolls which were quickly added to the ranks of metahumanity. There is a great deal of racism against those not in the normal human group especially from Policlubs such as Humanis. The worst of the racism is often directed at orcs and especially trolls for their large difference in appearance.
Years after the Awakening, the internet crashed. A new type of internet was then built that used every device to create a massive network of devices. This was called the Matrix. Due to its wired nature it was hacked and eventually it too crashed thus leading to the new and improved Matrix. The current day Matrix is a mostly wireless network where every device contributes to the network and is able to access it. Almost everyone carries a Comm which has its own PAN (Personal Area Network) which allows it to connect to devices nearby. This, in essence, allows anyone, anywhere to access any device in the world. This has also allowed hackers to use what is called a deck in order to gain illegal access into nodes on the Matrix from near anywhere many times.
After years of research, physical augmentations have been made a reality. Ranging from eyes to arms to respirators, you can install just about any device into your body which will somehow increase your bodies limitations and abilities. You can even have these devices created out of biologic material at a higher cost (and at an even higher cost it can be made from your own cells). This has also lead to a realization of what is called Essence. Essence is a the life force of a metahuman. This is what allows the awakened to use magic and also has an effect on social skills and a few other attributes of metahumans. It has been found that using augmentations can lower the essence of a person. Cybernetic augmentations have the worst degradation, but even biologic augmentations have an effect on it (unless it is made from your cells).
AR and VR
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have become a reality as well. Augmented Reality is a system that can be installed in goggles, cybernetic eyes, contact lenses or other optical devices that allows the user to see the real world whilst receiving somewhat transparent AROs that let them interact with the Matrix without losing their senses of the real world. Virtual Reality allows users to fully immerse themselves into the Matrix including their senses thus enabling them to act faster within the Matrix and to explore it easier and more quickly. Whenever possible hackers will often prefer VR to AR when decking (hacking) because it allows them to do far more in a much shorter time than simply using AR. VR has also led to the use of SimSense cards. These cards can be recorded on by a person and it will record everything that person sees, hears, feels and so on. This can then be used by someone else allowing them to experience the exact same feelings. This has led to some major addictions for many in metahumanity.
As a Shadowrunner team you are tasked with doing what other won’t do and what corporations can’t be associated with. You have no method of income other than being paid to do jobs. This allows for a great deal of freedom as you are not held to any single corporation or business, but also means that you are screwed if you can’t get good jobs and complete them well. The greatest shadowrun teams are those that have a large number of contacts and play on each other’s strengths in order to complete the wide assortment of jobs they receive. Some teams choose to be robin hood esque where they will steal from the rich and give to the poor where as others prefer to simply steal from the rich and give to themselves. There are very few that you can trust and those that you do trust could betray you at any moment. In the end, being a Shadowrunner means constant danger and work, but if done right you can lead an exciting and lavish lifestyle and become a legend amongst other shadowrunners. Even if none of it works out, hey, at least you’re not a wageslave.