Sapients

Your character’s metatype or species is part of their High Concept aspect, and can be invoked and compelled. Most have accompanying stunts, but you only need to take those stunts if you want your character to exemplify these common traits. An Internet Troll technomancer doesn’t need to spend on any troll stunts if they’re relying on their Matrix abilities.

Panhumans

The main metatypes occur in all human populations; there are also subtypes that have a peculiar relationship with both bloodline and geography. Melting pots like North America manage to get all the metatypes, though some are rarer than others. There are occasional surprises, like the oni subtype normally found in Japanese orks cropping up in Europeans, traceable to a single Japanese ancestor. Height and weight for each variant on Runner’s Companion p48.

All metatypes can be invoked when dealing socially with members of the same metatype and compelled for bigotry.

Dwarfs

Dwarfs comprise 14% of the world population in 2076. Average height 120cm (4’) and weight 54kg (119#). Projected lifespan over 100 years. The nose tends to be large and long, and ears slightly pointed; body hair is well-developed and head hair profuse, with extensive facial hair on males. (Dwarfs are commonly used as spokesmodels for shaving products.) Gestation period is 284 days; birth weight is 5.6% of the mother’s weight; suckling time is over 15 months; almost always one child. The Alps seem to be associated with dwarfs, which are born more in proximity to them and people with heritage there. (Germany p24, Shadows of Europe p60)

Dwarf (1): +1 Bod, +1 Focus.

Variants

Elves

Elves comprise 15% of the world population in 2076. Average height 190cm (6’3”), weight 80kg (176#). Projected lifespan over 200 years. Body hair is sparse to non-existent and head hair is fine; eyes are almond-shaped and ears come to a definite point. Gestation period is 360 days; birth weight is 5.2% of the mother’s weight; suckling time is over 25 months; usually one child. Elves have a popular image as vegetarian, and a majority are, but they can digest meat as easily as a human.

The elven nation of Tir Tairngire has been promoting the language Sperethiel, perhaps the most complex language on earth, using protocol modes (rising and falling), levels of emotional subtlety far beyond any other language, plus very efficient information transfer. Conveying a short phrase of Sperethiel in English often take several complex sentences. Even in Tir Tairngire, though, only the upper crust have complete command of the language, due to its difficulty. (Electronic training programs and basic linguasofts are globally available, though they aren’t good enough to grant the command possessed by a Tir noble.)

The percentage of elves born in Tír na nÓg and Tír Tairngire is unusually high; 41% of births in Ireland were elves in 2011–2020. (4.1% were dwarfs.) The percentage is not as high among people of Irish descent born overseas.

Shadowrun, Fourth Edition p71.

Elf (1): +1 to Face, Prod, and Rock when it helps to be glamorous.

Variants

Sperethiel

The following is complete fanon that I made up to get the Shadowrun source material to be a better match to existing archaeology.

Sperethiel is structurally a Uralic language (a bit closer to Finnic than ) with extensive loanwords from Proto-Celtic. It has a logographic script, called High Sperethiel, which is reminiscent of Egyptian Hieratic, and a very logical featural alphabet (with composed glyphs like Hangul) that feels much more recent. (There are rumors that Ehran the Scribe bolted Low Sperethiel onto the project after figuring out that people would need an onramp to the language.) In addition to a grammar and dictionary, Sperethiel comes with the Sperethiel Canon, a collection of poetry and literature written entirely in High Sperethiel. The canon includes treatises on beauty, nobility, and the duty to preserve the natural world. Perhaps the most spectacular work is Caynreth and Oak-Heart, a ballad of the first Elven Queen, who ruled through beauty and inspiration.

In 2017, the Xavier Foundation (Tír Tairngire p50) started a media blitz for teaching Sperethiel and spreading traditional elven culture to all elves. Every major metropolis had a Sperethiel School that encouraged parents of young elves to enroll their children, to get in touch with their heritage.

Carromeleg

Carromeleg is a concentration of will and energy. There is no outward stance of someone ready to employ carromeleg; a practitioner appears at ease until the last moment. When two masters meet, it is sometimes anticlimactic as they size up their outward stance; what follows is a silent battle of will, which ends when one bows, ending the contest. It is only taught to elves and it is fiercely guarded by masters who want to keep it as an elven tradition. Bounties have been placed on those who attempt to teach this martial art to outsiders. (Run & Gun p129, Arsenal p157) Whether carromeleg is a mashup of capoeira, krav maga, and iaido with a philosophy cherry on top, or an ancient martial art, is not distinguishable based on currently available data.

Like all martial arts, carromeleg needs to be mentioned in a character aspect:

Humans

Humans comprise 39% of the world population in 2076. Average height 175cm (5’9”), weight 78kg (172#). Average lifespan 55–64 years. Gestation period is 266.5 days; birth weight is 5.5% of the mother’s weight; suckling time is over 12 months; usually one child, twins uncommon, more even rarer.

Human can be invoked for adaptability in adverse circumstances.

Variants

Orks

Orks comprise 22% of the world population in 2076. Average height 190cm (6’3”), weight 128kg (282#). Onset of puberty at age 10. Average lifespan 35–45 years, though 1% have a mutation that gives them human lifespans and there are some indications (The Complete Trog p38, 105) that all orks in healthy mana-rich environments can have human lifespans. Body hair is usually well-developed, but may sometimes be absent altogether; head hair is usually more prominent than the sapiens ethnic group from which they descend. The orkish nose tends to be broad and the lips thin, and they have greatly enlarged lower canines. Gestation period is 187 days; birth weight is 4.2% of the mother’s weight; suckling time is over 7 months; usually 4 children, but 6–8 not uncommon. Offspring may be born as human; 95% of these will goblinize at puberty. Orks can be born to human parents.

Orks tend to be hands-on learners and underperform on traditional IQ tests in the Stanford-Binet tradition, and this problem is exacerbated by economic disadvantage, as the task of surviving poverty occupies considerable cognitive resources. They perform as well as humans on the more modern computer-based interactive Wishnevsky-Naam tests, but this has done little to undermine their popular image as brutes.

Ork (1): +2 to Bod. One extra + whenever it is plausible that greater size and strength makes it possible to hit harder or wield a bigger weapon.

Variants

Trolls

Trolls comprise 5% of the world population in 2076. Average height 250cm (8’2”), weight 300kg (661#). Average lifespan 45–55 years, though there are some indications (The Complete Trog p38, 105) that trolls in healthy mana-rich environments can have dwarven lifespans. The ratio of arm to leg length in trolls is longer than in humans, and trolls who need to enter human-ceilinged rooms can move quite quickly while knuckle-walking like a gorilla; this is seen as demeaning. Body hair is usually well-developed, but may be absent altogether; head hair is usually more prominent than the sapiens ethnic group from which they descend. Gestation period is 259 days; birth weight is 2.5% of the mother’s weight; suckling time is over 7 months; usually 1 child. Trolls are capable of vocalizing and hearing infrasound (The Complete Trog p187), which is capable of transmitting simple codes (or humming tunes) that cannot be heard by most other species. (It does make them superb at working with elephants, which also use infrasound and have close to 70 documented messages; while elephant infrasound can travel 10km at dawn or dusk, trolls have a more limited range.)

Like orks, trolls are hands-on learners who usually underperform on traditional intelligence tests.

Troll (1): +2 to Bod. One extra + whenever it is plausible that greater size and strength makes it possible to hit harder or wield a bigger weapon. One extra - for dermal armor.

Take It Like a Troll (1): requires Troll. Use Bod instead of Move to defend against physical attacks with red dice up to your Bod (without Edge factored in). Attacks tagging an aspect like Called Shot negate this stunt.

Variants

Nonhumans

Centaurs

Centaurs are genus Equus, and have cropped up in populations of Przewalksi’s horse, Exmoor ponies, and mustangs. What most centaurs term true centaurs have equine heads; lesser centaurs have human-like heads and are usually cast out of their tribes. Adults stand 1.4m–1.7m at the equine shoulder, with eye level about a meter higher, have human-proportioned arms with three fingers and an opposable thumb, and mass 400–1000kg. Most of them dwell on the Eurasian steppe and parts of the Greece and the Czech Republic; there is a Hopi-speaking population in the Pueblo Corporate Council. The nomadic tribes eat plenty of meat. They have low-light and thermographic vision, and the critter powers of Magic Sense and Search. (Paranormal Animals of Europe p26,Runner’s Companion p63, 84; Running Wild p51; Run Faster p98, Howling Shadows p55) They are fond of a variety of percussion instruments; some have also adopted panhuman stringed and reed instruments. (Attitude p56) No centaur technomancers have ever been observed, but if one ever were, they would not have the usual critter powers. There are confirmed discoveries of feline, canine, bovine, oreamnos, and cervidae centaurs across the world, but they are incredibly rare and usually well-protected by panhuman allies. (Sixth World Companion p87)

Centaur (1): +1 Bod, Magic Sense, Search.

Merrow

Merrow are dual-natured aquatic tool-using mammals, three meters long and massing about 500kg; some are magically active. While paranaturalists are arguing over whether they can be considered sapient, many are trading their underwater expertise for goods that can be manufactured on land. They are behind the curve on tech use relative to other nonhuman sentients, since they have had less opportunity to live closely with panhumans. They all have some degree of magical ability, though some have nothing more than an adept-style power of water breathing. They are not playable characters at the start of the campaign, as full communication has not yet been established with them. Their languages use color-changes on their secondary and pectoral fins, as well as frequencies well outside panhuman hearing range, though they are physically capable of vocalizing panhuman tongues. (Sixth World Companion p88)

Naga

Naga, interestingly, belong to multiple snake species, as if a common template had been applied to pythons, boas, cobras (including king cobras), vipers, and kraits. (If you want colorful, check out the African bush viper, the piebald ball python, or emerald tree boa.) Runner’s Companion p64, 84, Run Faster p98. They are typically ten meters long and mass 300kg (though anacondas run on the heavier side). The venom of cobra, viper, and krait naga is neurotoxic, with no known antivenin. Arsenal p84

Naga have their own language, Khmer Nāga, that’s very different from any human language, though panhumans are able to pick it up. (No one has yet produced a linguasoft for it.) Naga raised on different continents with no contact speak the same language; the hints they’ve dropped indicate that they have at least one mentor spirit who has preserved this much naga lore, and they pass on the language to the rest.

Human emotions such as greed and power-hunger don’t occur in naga; their ambitions tend to be satiable once their hierarchy of needs (including security and respect) are met. (Shadows of Asia p152) Nagas can sing and play instruments like the roneat ek and the tro khmer, though it’s a whole-body effort. (Attitude p56)

They also have a capability of producing naga emeralds, whose crystalline structure shifts within the stone and produces a unique swirling effect. There are rumors that naga can use the stones to control their wearers, though that doesn’t stop some people from sporting them as prizes. Naga emeralds are never produced by those in captivity, and they are undoubtedly a ritual link to the creating naga. (Shadows of Asia p152, Parageology p23)

Ectothermy is a challenge for naga in most places. They’re easily able to be active at 30°C (86°F), take a +1 to difficulties at 20°C (68°F), and a +2 at 10°C (50°F). At 0°C (32°F) they become comatose, doing nothing but engaging their Guard power to stay alive. While ectothermy is an advantage when eluding thermographic sensors, naga usually wear electrically heated coats made with myomer plastics that can keep up with their movements. Naga adepts almost always take Fire Within so they can crank up their inner heat when out and about in brisk weather, and sorcerers typically have a warming spell on a sustaining focus.

All naga are dual natured, perceiving the physical and astral worlds simultaneously. About ⅔ of naga only have spark-level magical ability, and for half of them, they’ve learned just enough telekinesis to cast Magic Fingers, or enough Shifting to take human form (matching old legends), or the Fire Within feat. On average, out of every 100 naga, 5 are adepts, 5 are sorcerers, 5 are conjurers, 5 are enchanters, and 13 are magicians or mystic adepts. They cannot be technomancers. Adepts often learn Magic Fingers as an Adept Spell.

Some naga spellcasters have spells to shapeshift into various different panhuman forms, or even hybrid forms with a human face or a human head and torso.

Naga tend to dwell in large family groups, on the order of thirty, and sleep entwined together for body heat. Sleeping alone is seen as unnatural by naga; many enjoy the warmth of their mammalian friends. The Khmer Nāga term for electric blanket is naga slang for a loner naga (even though most naga beds are equipped with one). The Khmer Nāga term for hot water bottle is naga slang for a panhuman who is mediocre, implying that they’re worth keeping around because they can keep you warm, but they aren’t good for much else.

They are ovoviviparous: the mother gestates the eggs for six months, then lays a clutch of 5–9 eggs. They hatch within twenty four hours of being laid. They’re fully grown and sexually mature at 3–4 years, but don’t reach adult reasoning (and Awaken to magical ability) until 6–8. Running Wild p50

Naga are still strongly identified with their base species: their mating pheromones are species-specific, so they only experience lust where fertility is possible. Polyandry is common. Male naga shapeshifted to human cannot sire children. Naga do not have the emotional range to form romantic bonds, though they do feel a community obligation to support gravid females and nurture young. Romantic relationships between naga and panhumans are rare; successful ones are based on a close friendship and depend on excellent communication about meeting their different emotional needs.

The places that naga call their own are in Cambodia (where, in 2050, they are laying the groundwork for building a kingdom around Angkor Wat— Shadows of Asia p152, Sixth World Almanac p24) and Sanchi, in the Indian Union, where a number are followers of the great eastern dragon Muchalinda, who is a Buddhist. (Neo-Anarchist’s Streetpedia p88)

Some volunteers in the Havens have led to development of a few forms of chrome for naga, usually only used by those with no aptitude for magic. There are Havenware versions of Cybereyes, Cyberears, the cyberScape, Simrig, Synthlink, and the Control Rig. Naga deckers are rare, but effective.

In 2050, naga are not recognized as sentient by the United Nations; the last naga who was ready to testify in front of the General Assembly was assassinated by a team of shadowrunners, and this succeeded in creating a chilling effect.

Naga do not, in general, wear clothing. A minority enjoy expressive hats, often absurd ones, mostly for the effect they have on humans. A naked naga might be a monster, but a naga in a top hat, bowler, or pointy wizard’s cap raises the possibility that they’re a person.

Naga (1): +1 Bod. With the Guard power, you can protect Spot+Magic people from environmental hazards and accidents, including the Accident critter power. Your bite is + and your scales provide --.

Naga Venom (1): your bite inflicts a Neurotoxic Venom on a success with style; refilling your venom glands requires an hour.

Pixies

Pixies look like miniature winged elves, about 45cm tall and 5kg, with skin and hair colors that match the brightest features of the environment they’ve been dwelling in for at least a season. (Earthdawn 4th Edition Player’s Guide p53) They typically have iridescent dragonfly-like wings with a 1m wingspread, though some are more like butterflies; their flight appears to be assisted by mana manipulation, but uses enough of their wings that they have difficulty when their wings get sopping wet. (They start rolling Bod to deal with exhaustion at 20 minutes of flight, or 5 when wings are wet.) They have the critter power of Concealment (only for themselves) and are, at the very least, sparks with astral perception; their bodies vanish at death. They cannot be technomancers. Pixies are almost unheard-of in 2050, and attract attention wherever they go. Paranormal Animals of Europe p94, Runner’s Companion p65, 84, Run Faster p99, Earthdawn Name-Giver’s Compendium p152

Pixies are very close-mouthed about where they came from, and often show stress reactions when pressed on the matter.

Sasquatches

Sasquatches are large, shaggy primates, on average 280cm (9’2”) and 475kg (1047#); DNA typing says they are slightly closer to humans than gorillas. They are omnivorous, but prefer food that doesn’t run away. The North American ones have fur of brown, black, pale yellow, or auburn, and get silver tips on their fur with age. Their white-furred cousins in the Himalayas are called yeti. They were legally recognized as sentient in 2042. They are unable to comprehend spoken language or phonetic written language; they can communicate using sign language, with Perkins-Athabaskan being the one that is most idiomatic to them. (A script— looking like glowing cartoon overlays of sign language— abstracted from the motions of Perkins-Athabaskan allows sasquatches to get subtitles on their Scapes when communicating with non-signers. Datagloves can read their sign language and convert it to speech or text.) Sasquatches are dual-natured, perceiving the astral plane and the physical world at the same time, and have claws. (SR5 p406, Runner’s Companion p65, 84, Run Faster p99) ¾ of sasquatches are sparks; they are often shamans and conjurers and adepts, occasionally mystic adepts and sorcerers, rarely enchanters.

Sasquatches only discuss the means by which they weathered the Fifth World with other sapients when they have a high degree of trust, and thus far no one has betrayed that trust and revealed the details.

The Growp’skitch! sasquatch tribe, numbering about 150, inhabits the wild parts of Council Island in Seattle. (Runner Havens p102) Sasquatch cultural music is made by mixing together sounds from nature, though when they develop a fascination with a music form, they’ve been known to take up anything from jazz to heavy metal. (Attitude p56)

Sasquatches are rare in civilization and anyone shadowing or investigating them outside a sasquatch community gets an automatic +2. They can use a tortoise in the Matrix to get online, but cannot write persona code and use a cyberdeck. They cannot be technomancers.

Sasquatch: +2 to Bod. One extra + whenever it is plausible that greater size and strength makes it possible to hit harder or wield a bigger weapon, or from claws. This stunt can be taken twice.

One of the most prominent sasquatches is Rex, a member of the Council of Princes of Tir Tairngire.

Shapeshifters

Shapeshifters are Awakened animals that can take on human form. They are dual beings, perceiving the physical and astral worlds simultaneously. Their perspective is that of an intelligent animal trying to figure out an alien culture. Shapeshifting is not purely genetic; they often have unAwakened offspring, and a clone of a shapeshifter is almost never a shapeshifter. Shadowrun Companion p34, Runner’s Companion p66, Running Wild p52, Run Faster p100. Shapeshifters cannot be technomancers, and cannot have chrome installed (as their bodies would simply eject the intrusive material instead of integrating it, presuming you could pause their regeneration in the first place to install it).

Shapeshifter (3): You can switch between animal and human forms as a full action and only revert to animal form after death. You have the Regeneration critter power.