How it came to be
The Storyteller games from White Wolf describe an alternate “gothic punk” world were creatures of the night are engaged in their own secret struggles right under the very noses of the mortals they co-exist with. They all maintain their own veil of secrecy of one kind or another, existing in the shadows of the night, just out of sight.
In the world of Shadowrun the forces of magic have stepped out of the mists of legend and into the neon of the city lights. The Awkened are no longer hidden… or are they?
The World of Shadow starts out much like the story presented by White Wolf. The mad forces of Order, embodied by the Technocracy, work to smother the power of magic and wonder in the world, entrapping everything in their cold, crystaline vision. The power of Corruption, of the Wyrm, twists the plans of these utopians and threatens to brings about the destruction of all that live.
In the early years of the 21st Century, it appeared that these forces were about to achieve their final victory. Powerful corporations backed by the Technocracy and influenced by the power of the Wyrm grew to eclipse national governments. The Seretech Decision of 1999 gave them extraterritorial rights and powers that allowed them to expand unchecked. The Pogrom of the Technocracy began to ruthlessly root out renegade mages and execute them and the Garou were losing their battle against the coming Apocalypse.
A reprive came from an unexpected source. A group of Marauders, acting in concert, were sowing the seeds of the return of the mythic age of magic and chaos. They instructed their acolytes and acted with cooperation previously unknown among their kind until the time was right.
On December 24, 2011, a time of power fortold in prophecy, the Marauder’s acted. In an incredible display of magick that consumed its wielders, the paradox-immune mages sundered the Technocracy’s carefully built gauntlet like tissue and sent the power of magick flooding across the world. Dragons appeared in the skies and mythic beasts in the land and sea. Humanity felt the call of magic once again. The Awakening had come.
The World of Darkness gave way to a World of Shadow. The forces of the light gained a ray of hope, a foothold on the slippery slope. The shadows are dark, but there is a chance that the meeting of man, machine, and magic can offer hope.
The Vampires have benefited from the Awakening by a slight loosening of the Masquerade. The kine are now aware that vampires exist, but they do not know how long they have lived among us or how much influence they truly wield.
Powerful Kindred have infiltrated all of the major corporations. Several of them are actually totally Kindred controlled, such as Haven Industries. The Masquerade is still ruthlessly enforced to protect their deepest secrets from the kine.
The Tremere have taken advantage of the Awakening to allow them to practice many of their magics in the open, although their more esoteric blood magics are still hidden from mortal eyes.
The tribes of the Changing Folk have gained new hope from the Awakening. Garou forces reclaimed the Amazon Basin in their greatest victory against the forces of the Wyrm. The government of Amazonia is secretly controlled by a council of Garou and their magical allies. The Garou are also strongly influencial in the Native American Nations, especially the Wendigo and the Uktena. Wendigo Garou often agitate behind the scenes for the Ghost Dance to continue and drive the non-natives forever from the shores of the Americas, but the other tribes have held them in check.
Some of the Garou have taken to guerilla warfare in the depths of the sprawls: dark strongholds of the Wyrm. The Glass Walkers have become masterful deckers and shadowrunners, as have the Bone Gnawers. The Shadow Lords are influencial with many megacorporations, often fighting secret struggles with the Vampires and Mages who control them.
The Technocracy has been struck a powerful blow by the Awakening, but they have by no means surrendered their grip on Reality. The plan has simply changed. The Technomancers have altered the reality they seek to impose upon the masses to include the hedge magic permitted by the Awakening.
They continue along with their program, controlling the major corporations and working to make magic just another part of “ordinary” reality: a cold science with no passion or wonder left in it. They have even begun experimenting with bizzare meldings of science and sorcery like cybermancy.
Most magicians of the Sixth World use hedge magic, unaware of the larger nature of reality and True Magick. The more outlandish forces of magick are still suppressed by Reality and still summon the forces of Paradox to punish offenders. Tossing a fireball invokes little paradox, but re-shaping space and time is still an affort to the will of the Technomancers.
The Dreamspeakers are strongly involved in the government of the Native American Nations and have been encouraging the revival of shamanic traditions around the world. The Verbena are tied to Amazonia and have allied with the Garou. The Order of Hermes is behind the revival of the hermetic tradition and looks forward to re-establishing the power they once had in the Mythic Age.
The Virtual Adepts have come into their own with the creation of the Matrix. When a Adept/Iteration X war crashed the worldwide telecomm system in 2029, a truce was established that allowed for the creation of the Matrix, the mundane shadow of the Digital Web, increasing the Web’s influence all over the world and becoming a new battleground for the forces of the Awakened.
The Nephandi still lurk in the shadows and hope to bring about their day when their demonic masters will be able to enter the Earth’s dimension en masse. They have already taken control of the Aztechnology corporation with their vampire and bane allies and are using the Aztec blood rituals to speed the time of their masters’ arrival.
The Restless Dead
The existance of wraiths is a debated topic among scholars in the Sixth World. Some of the Awakened know of the restless dead and respect their powers and influence. The Technomancers and their allies work to maintain the belief that appearances of wraiths are no more than “astral echoes” with no real substance.
The heirarchy of the Shadowlands has also been altered by the weakening of the Shroud that accompanied the Awakenings. Wraiths can have greater effect on the mortal world and many of them have become more involved in the affairs of the Quick using their various Arcanos powers. A Wraith subculture known as “nomads” has developed, based on skinridding and taking over various mortal bodies to experience the joys of life again, at least for a brief time.
With the Awakening, the gates of Faerie are open once again, sort of.
Before 2011, the forces of Banality all but overcame the Changelings. The progress of the Technocracy’s program brought on the endless Winter that faerie seers and soothsayers had predicted. Most of the fae fell into forgetting their Dreaming natures and became mundanes.
The Awakening brought about the new Spring that some had hoped would follow the Banal Winter. Changelings and faeries cast off their mortal guise once again and assumed their true forms. But all was not well with the fair folk.
The long winter had robbed most of the faerie of the knowledge of the Dreaming. When they awoke again to their true natures, their memories did not. The vast majority of changelings in the world are ignorant of their origins and have taken on a modern conception of themselves as “metahumans” perhaps mutations of the human form.
Some of the few elite changelings still remember their true selves. They have established nations where their brethern can be safe and the power of Glamor can be protected against the tide of Banality that is rising again. The Elven Nations of Tir Tairngire and Tir na n’Og are mortal enemies of the banality of the Technocracy as well as the blood-soaked madness of the Nephandi and their puppets in Aztlan. The High Princes and true faerie of those nations have been forced to act covertly against their enemies, because the crushing force of banal disbelief destroys the delicate structure of their glamors.
Now between the Awakened Light and the Stygian Darkness is a World of Shadow. In that twilight realm dwell those forgotten by the rigid corporate world, the last hope of change and freedom, the Shadowrunners…