Here is a Knight Errant drill sergeant explaining the history of Shadowrun to a bunch of raw recruits. Naturally this is useful to players new to the world, as well as potentially long-time runners who have never bothered to look at the past. How’d magic come about? Where did the rise of corporations start? Why are there trolls and dwarfs? All of this is looked at in brief. Properly formatted it’s a two-page PDF. Once I figure out how I want to host the file I’ll place a link to it here, too. If you like what you read, feel free to use this for your own games, but I kindly ask for credit.
A Knight Errant’s Tale: History Lessons
Alright you slack-jawed, drek-brained scum. I’m supposed to “instruct” you, “teach” you a little about world history. The higher-ups seem to think it’s important that you know something of how we got to where we are today, and that’s what sets Knight Errant apart from those Lone Star slots. We care about the past. So listen up, you primitive screw-heads, and we’ll get you back to missing targets on the firing range.
As you know, or you would if your heads weren’t up your asses, megacorporations have all the power. But where’d that come from? Well, 76 years ago, in 1999, New York was out of food. When a Seretech Med-Research truck of medical waste came in, the mobs of rioters thought it was carrying food. Seretech claimed the resulting gun battle between their security forces and the mobs was necessary to prevent something worse from happening. The Supreme Court rightly agreed. Late the next year Shiawase defended their nuclear power plant from TerraFirst! and said that local law enforcement wasn’t up to the task of protecting large corps. Called “The Shiawase Decision”, the Supreme Court established extraterritoriality for multinationals. So, on corp land corp laws rule the day. Now-a-days the 10 AAA-rated corps, forming the Corporate Court, decide who gets extraterritoriality.
Governments then began grabbing land and handing it out to the megacorps. Amerindians weren’t thrilled when their reservations were appropriated. The Sovereign American Indian Movement responded by capturing a missile silo. When Delta Team attacked, someone launched a Lone Eagle ICBM at Russia, but it never made it. The “Lone Eagle Incident” was enough to relocate Native Americans to re-education camps.
At the same time Virally Induced Toxic Allergy Syndrome, or VITAS, appeared in India. It quickly killed about a quarter of the world, mostly in India, China, Africa and Third World cities, even causing Mexico’s government to collapse. And then deformed babies started appearing. They looked like elves and dwarfs, because they were elves and dwarfs. Scientists called it “Unexplained Genetic Expression”, UGE.
All of this came to a head on December 24, 2011, right when the Mayan’s predicted the Sixth World would occur. The great dragon Ryumyo appeared over Mount Fuji. That same day Daniel Howling Coyote, the Native American prophet, led his people out of the Abilene Re-Education Center. Guards swore that some sort of “glow” stopped their bullets from hitting him, and he and his people just walked right out to disappear in a storm. Mana storms devastated the Australian outback, stone circles appeared on ley lines in Britain, forests popped up with peat bogs in Ireland, all over the world floods, earthquakes and whatever else began reshaping the world.
What the F*** are you doing, Samuelson? Am I boring you? I don’t care if a f***ing DEVIL RAT is gnawing your leg; stand at attention when I’m talking!
Alright, well, then the great dragon Dunkelzahn, held a twelve hour and sixteen minute interview with Holly Brighton on January 27, 2012. He explained everything that was happening, and we started calling it the Awakening. Short version: magic had returned. Hard to imagine no magic, right?
The Native American Nations, or NAN, formed in 2018 with the Treaty of Denver. Howling Coyote had been leading a guerrilla war for years, ending with the Great Ghost Dance: erupting several volcanoes and creating storms at military bases. The west coast of North America was ceded to them, except California and our fair city Seattle remained with the USA.
That same year Dr. Hosato Hikita in Chicago invented simsense. From your blank stares, I’m guessing you forgot that’s the stuff letting you literally feel the Matrix. A year later the British corp Transys Neuronet attached the first cyberlimb. Not quite as good as this bad boy I got right here, but it was a leap forward for the time.
Everyone was shitting their pants on April 30, 2021, when Goblinization started: one in ten adults changed, growing horns, tusks, and getting big. People freaked and began rounding up metahumans and throwing them in the same camps that held Native Americans. When VITAS again killed 10 percent of the world in 2022, they realized that metahumans were people, too.
Then something really bad happened: Corpus Christi, Texas, hired Lone Star to do all of their policing. When the police in Seattle went on strike in 2025, the governor fired them and hired Lone Star. Lone Star is a police force. Us? We’re Knight Errant Security. None of this “after-the-fact” bullshit; we keep people safe. And we need to push them out of Seattle.
Yes, I know, they’re called Lone Star Security Services. What’s your point, Samuelson?
In 2026 the first cyberterminals let people jack directly into computer networks. The first users went crazy, but now we have the Matrix, so they figured it out. And February 8, 2029, it all came crashing down. The Crash Virus struck every major computer around the world generally destroying our infrastructure. The president of the USA gave Echo Mirage, a group of CIA, NSA and IRS cybercommandos, the go ahead to fight the virus. They lost. Bad. So Echo Mirage was reformed with brilliant free-thinking hackers and data-miners. Many deaths from biofeedback and several years later the virus was finally beaten.
Following the Crash of ‘29, the United States and Canada decided to join teams, forming the United Canadian and American States, UCAS. The south rose again and seceded in 2034 forming the Confederation of American States; one more reason to not trust Lone Star. Florida joined the Caribbean League, and California couldn’t make up it’s mind, so the UCAS did it for them, kicking them out in 2036.
Mundane and Awakened groups rose up, destabilizing Russia, Europe, the Middle East, everywhere. Brazil became Amazonia when three great dragons attacked. An elf tribe called itself Sinsearach, moved to Mount Rainier and separated from the Salish-Shidhe. They’re the guys who control everything outside Seattle. When other elves declared Ireland to be Tír na nÓg, the Sinsearch seceded in 2035 and formed Tír Tairngire. The Salish-Shidhe invasion was handedly defeated, and Tír Tairngire formed their Council of Princes, even including the great dragon Lofwyr on it.
The UCAS Constitution got the Fourteenth Amendment in 2036, creating the System Identification Number and requiring everyone to sign up. We still protect the SINless, but the SINers are a little more important. Keep an eye out for fake SINs as shadowrunners are typically very much SINless.
Samuelson, even a half-baked deckhead suffering from dumpshock and fresh on the streets would put a bullet in your head before you got your hand on your Predator and accidentally shot your own foot.
February 7, 2039, marks the Night of Rage. Years of hate crimes by groups like Humanis Policlub and Alamos 20,000 culminated in that night. Riots sprung up around the world, killing thousands of metahumans and their friends and families. From this the Ork Underground was formed. Don’t expect them to turn on one of their own, but help them, and they’ll help you.
Hey, Samuelson, aren’t your parents Humanis members? Don’t worry, there’s only one troll in the class: your bunkmate.
The Universal Brotherhood formed in California in 2042 under the guise of being a humanitarian group, and branches opened everywhere. In 2055, UB was found to be a front for insect spirits, disgusting alien bugs from some magic realm intent on infesting metahumanity. Governments across the globe secretly shut them down. Then we, Knight Errant, bravely went into Chicago to fight one of the largest hives in North America. The city was walled off, so when the bugs got out, the team and civvies were trapped inside. One of our own set off a subtactical nuke. Somehow the Cermak Blast was contained. Many bugs remained. Ares, that’s us, remember, later worked with the UCAS and mostly cleaned out the city, but the astral space there is dirtier than Samuelson’s mother’s slot.
Now, remember Dunkelzahn? Yeah, he became President of the UCAS in 2057. When his car exploded outside his inaugural ball at the Watergate Hotel, it killed him and left a large and visible astral rift. No one knows who did it. Dunkelzahn’s will was an odd thing, shaking up the world with all the possessions he’d collected over the thousands of years he’d been alive.
Halley’s Comet came around in 2061 and magic levels rose. Sudden Unexplained Recessive Genetic Expression, SURGE, caused fur, cycloptic eyes, tails, you name it, to appear on some people, enough to freak us out again. Storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, everything started blowing up. Then an ivory and blue great dragon, Ghostwalker, flew out of Dunkelzahn’s Rift in astral form, grabbed his body somewhere, and attacked the treaty city of Denver with an army of spirits. Denver had been split up among different countries, Ghostwalker declared it his territory and kicked Aztlan, former Mexico, out of their sector and let the CAS in. Denver stayed pretty much the same, though Ghostwalker formed the Zone Defense Force. Also with his appearance, things were riled up with the other dragons. Other than Hestaby taking Lofwyr’s spot on the Council of Princes, no one knows what else happened.
Back in 2059, the AI Deus took over the Renraku Arcology of Seattle, experimented on everyone inside. Though defeated, he had secretly downloaded himself into people’s heads, who were then freed, forming the Network. When the megacorp Novatech decided to go public in order to dig itself out of debt, Deus planned to use the highest-Matrix-traffic-event ever to become a god in the Matrix. At the same time the otaku, pre-Technomancer if you will, and former Deus servent Pax teamed up with a terrorist group called Winternight to release a worm that would end up destroying the Matrix. This was right after Novatech launched their IPO and Deus started upgrading. The Matrix Crash 2.0.
From those ashes rose the wireless world we have today, thanks to NeoNET, a merger of Novatech, Transys Neuronet and Erika. Technomancers began appearing, too, able to access the Matrix with just their minds. A few years with everyone adjusting to the new wireless world and finding out hackers had just a little too much leeway, NeoNET, among others, earlier this year developed GOD: the Grid Overwatch Division. This was an overhaul of Matrix protocols. With these new systems in place hackers returned to the old tech of using specialized decks to break in. If our spiders can’t find them, GOD will. Then you shoot them.
This is the Sixth World, maggots. Now I’m going to go watch the latest Urban Brawl match. You all head back to the range and try not to shoot each other.
Except Samuelson. You can shoot him.