Hi, My name is Aaron Worsham and I am the head writer of Motor City Shadows. I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the Shadowrun universe as a backdrop for telling compelling stories in Motor City Shadows
The Shadowrun Universe
It is Detroit, 2077 of the Shadowrun universe. This world is now defined by the apathy of higher goal and aspirations given up to stronger, more primal forces. Nations who once served their citizens as representatives have collapsed in their ideology, replaced by their true masters the corporation state who represent only their own interest. The natural order has turned over, making way for unnatural beasts and powers to overwhelm it. Technology has let go any restraint, stepping aside to the onrush of over-reaching advances with deadly consequences. The 6th world is defined by what it has given up. But it is also defined by who is fighting back.
The protagonists of this world are outsiders. Their defining character is their rebellion against the established society that these forces have yoked to the necks of meta-humanity. This makes them criminals against the law. However we the observer find their actions justified against the backdrop of the evils in which they live and from which they hide. Some reject this notion, feeling that Shadowrunners are as designed in the game killers and thieves of irredeemable fate. For our story, we will take a different, aspirational tact with our protagonists and treat them as the reluctant heroes they ultimately will become
Our heroes are a crew of Shadowrunners. Like modern day terror cells or organized gangs of white collar criminals, Shadowrun crews are usually small collections of secretive, untrusting, solitary people working together to tackle jobs that would be too large to do solo. That shared sense of common purpose overcomes the natural tendencies of these individuals and allows them to bond and form relationships, the key to drama. In addition, most Shadowrunners have more moral drives than a gang of thieves. Their targets are generally considered much worse than the Shadowrunners in terms of harm to society and so their ‘Bad guys targeting Worse guys’ mantra allows them a measure of empathy from the reader or listener
Within Detroit is Ares Macrotechnologies. This is the megacorporation that most everyone in Detroit either works now or fears they will one day. Other corporations exist but are insignificant to the great mega. Ares throws its weight around everywhere in Detroit. The heroes live on the outside of that influence, and therefore live on the outside of society. Ares is the antagonist to this story. They indomable side and strength will act as the Empire to the runners Rebels. Mega corporations are not depicted as fascist as in Star Wars. Instead they are leviathans with a singular drive to eat everything around them. Our story will pit a David against the Goliath and the runners will become the sling stone that may fall the beast.
Magic exists in the 6th world as a plot resource to do impossible things and setup impossible challenges. Since Shadowrun is a Roleplaying Game, magic is a staple of the power fantasy most games explore. In narrative magic is a temptation to sloppy writing and plotting. We will try to limit the use of magic in our characters and situations so that the resolution is less Deus Ex in feel.
Meta-Humanity and Critters
Characters within Shadowrun stories are not always humans. Though humans are the more common race, there are other meta humans who through magic are different. Magic can explain any creature time we want to use which is very helpful for the diversity of our stories. A simple conversation between two people is thematically very different when one is a troll and the other is a dwarf. But the risk is falling into the Tolkien trap of using race as a shortcut to define a character’s motivations and personalities. In Shadowrun as in this story, race should define an interesting challenge and not give an plot advantage. Similarly magic gives the Wonderland effect of strange critters based on the common and the mundane. This gives the touch of the familiar in the uncanny, which is always compelling.
In its default mode, it has the Wizard of Oz effect of genre bending all sorts of references into a small space, much like the internet of memes. At another level the matrix is also the Holodeck of the Shadowrun universe. From a purely narrative frame, the matrix allows us to tell stories in very different places or times without transporting the characters there. The stories told in the Matrix will be disconnected from reality.
Much like the Matrix, you can tell different stories here without moving your characters in distance. In descriptive terms the astral and the matrix have two flavors of the same style of storytelling. In our stories we will use them interchangeably or together to serve their purpose.