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‘Shadowrun’: Your Guide to the ‘Sixth World’

6 Minute Read
May 11 2024
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Shadowrun‘s Sixth World blends magic and dragons with cybernetics and corporations. Here’s your guide to thriving in the shadows.

The Sixth (or Awakened) World was the world of Shadowrun. So named because it was the ‘sixth’ in a cycle of magical resurgence and dormancy. In the Sixth World, magic reawakened around the year 2012, blending a modern world with elements previously at home in high fantasy stories (like elves and dwarves and magic). In the Sixth World, a person was just as likely to run into an Ork running at them with a magic sword as an Ork running at them with a sawed-off shotgun.

This blend of magic and megacorporations was total. This meant that, on the one hand, there was a secret elven nation full of magic and smuggery, but on the other hand, there were also elves who just got up and went to work, middle managers who were hoping that maybe today was the day someone would finally fix the coffee machine down on 12.

And in the cracks between the MegaCorps, in the shadows on the streets, thrives a class of underworlders known as Shadowrunners. Shadowrunners used magic or technology to carve out their own Legends in the shadows of the all-powerful corporations.

As long as they didn’t end up in the thrall of a dragon.

History of the Future – The Awakened World

How did things get to be this way? In many ways, the history of the Sixth World began when Daniel Howling Coyote (nee Coleman) began leading mass breakouts from the Native American reservations/reeducation camps. Accompanying his protests were stories of strange occurrences. Bullets didn’t hurt him. People with clear shots missed. Some said he could walk through walls. At the time, these were the first vestiges of magic returning to the Earth.

Daniel Howling Coyote was marked for destiny. He put together the Native American Nations (NAN) and, in short order, declared war on a country that, in response, had its president sign an executive order legitimizing the extermination of Native American tribes. Howling Coyote organized the Great Ghost Dance—a massive magical ritual that caused Mt. Ranier, St. Helens, Hood, and Adams to erupt simultaneously, proving incontrovertibly that magic had returned to the Earth.

Chaos followed. America admitted defeat, and following the Treaty of Denver, the NAN were recognized. Afterward, a brief crisis followed in which America tore itself apart, leaving the United Canadian and American States (UCAS) and the Confederated American States (CAS).

The NAN, meanwhile, was made up of several nations, including the Salish-Shidhe Council, the Siou Nation, the Pueblo Corporate Council, and the Ute Nation. It took over vast swaths of North America. Magic returned even faster. Mages and shamans started appearing in all cultures.

In the midst of all of this, progress continued its steady march forward, regardless of the reappearance of magic. Armies were starting to fight digital battles. Networked systems and information were the keys to combat in the future. Until The Crash.

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The Crash Of ’29

In 2029, a massive attack on the computer systems of the world caused untold billions of dollars worth of damage. The cause? A mysterious virus known only as the Crash Virus. This virus damaged not only economic infrastructure but also people who were connected to the net. People across the world were unable to log out of the internet because of the Crash Virus and its ability to induce lethal levels of biofeedback in people. The virus was eventually contained by a strike team called Echo Mirage.

via MGM

A few other massively important events turn up the same year. Not long after the crash, a lone-eagle nuclear warhead was launched at Russia thanks to the Ghost Dance. But the missiles never make it to their target. They instead went missing, never to turn up again. Go magic.

Corporations won more and more legal battles, giving themselves the right to govern and a certain amount of extraterritoriality that just got more and more expansive until some corporations had more than enough power to privatize their security forces and hire mercenaries. And that’s what basically puts the world spinning helplessly into the situation it’s in today.

The Sixth World – 2060 And Beyond

Much of the Sixth World shifted through major conflicts and intrigues. But one bastion held out and became a legend on the Western coast of North America: Seattle. Known to many as the City of Shadows, Seattle was a microcosm of the Sixth World. Every major megacorporation had facilities there, including Ares Macrotechnology (guns, guns, and more guns), Fuchiyama Cyber-Industries (at least until they were absorbed by others, but they make cyberdecks), and Renraku Computer Systems who built a big fancy arcology which became an infamous landmark of modern Seattle.

Absolutely nothing has gone wrong with this self-contained shopping mall/industrial complex/housing facility that was capable of supporting itself without any input from the outside world. It certainly didn’t get sealed off or become home to an insane AI.

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The other side of the world fared little better. Many formerly European countries were ravaged by toxic spirits and dragons, as well as internecine wars. But at least they were home to a metric ton of ley lines. You know, so it’s safer:

Germany fared poorly. After a worldwide riot for bigotry known as the Night of Rage, an organization called the Anarchist Movement Berlin gained control of the city, and they descended into anarchy. The anger behind the populist movement gave way to a city divided into East and West Berlin, run by anarchists and corporations, respectively.

In the meantime, though, you get the Berlin Flux State and Shadowrun Dragonfall, so y’know, they can do whatever they want.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom underwent a sort of magical Rennaissance. Magical ley lines and standing stones (like Stonehenge) began reactivating, several of them seemingly in British control.

As for the rest of the world? Corporations (and their employees) became basically nation-states unto themselves. With a governing Corporate Court, they could set their own laws. However, they had to compete with each other on a much more expansive, above-board level. Though for those times when someone needs something done dirty and life is cheap? Shadowrunners are always waiyinh.

>> Of course, you can’t always trust everything you read in a big aggregate dump like this. If you really wanna know the whole story do a little digging and, as always, think for yourselves, chummers.

— Megawatt (07:22:32/06-2-62)

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Author: J.R. Zambrano
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