The Sixth World

The shape of the Sixth World is not an accident. It did not fall into place by happenstance. It was deliberately designed, and it was not designed for you.

The megacorps of the world, dominated by the Big Ten, have somehow found new ways to flex their muscles and grind people under their heels. Governments are caught between wanting to collaborate and seeking power of their own. Occasionally, they’ll spare a thought for the good of their people. Maybe.

When the system is designed to crush you, the only way to live is outside it. Break away and try to build a life for yourself outside of the megacorporate path. You can fight to survive, thrive, and perhaps even earn a little justice.

Welcome to the shadows.

It’s 2080, Chummer

Look, megacorporate oppression isn’t new to the Sixth World. So what’s changed?

The ever-shifting boundaries, that’s what. The Big Ten is always seeing what they can get away with. How far can they push people and nations before they break? How hard can they hit before the people of the world decide to hit back?

Shadowrunners believe that the time to start hitting back was yesterday, which means today is just about hitting harder.


If you want to understand the Sixth World, you have to understand the megacorps that dominate the world: Ares, arms manufacturer supreme. Aztechnology, beloved by consumers, feared by shadowrunners. Evo, reshaping humanity without knowing what it will become. Horizon, experts at telling you what you think. Mitsuhama, intent of flexing their muscle as the world’s top-ranked corp. Renraku, developing a particularly vicious definition of honor. Saeder-Krupp, overwhelming corporate might combined with the cunning of a great dragon. Shiawase, merging corporate and government power in Japan. Spinrad, cutting-edge fashion combined with industrial heft. Wuxing, trying to funnel the power of the world directly to their front door.

These are the corps that hire—and hunt—shadowrunners.

Mr. Johnson

Mr. Johnson is the code name used by the person who meets you in the back room of a bar, or in a trailer near a junkyard, or in an empty shipping container by the docks. They offer you money to do something of dubious legality and significant difficulty—after all, if the jobs were easy, they’d do them on their own. They provide a chance to earn money and stay just out of the corps’ grasp. They also withhold information, sometimes play you off against other runners, and occasionally outright double-cross you. They are not to be trusted—but you still need them, because bullets don’t buy themselves.


Most everyone in the Sixth World is connected by a vast electronic network that provides the chance to develop relationships over shared interests and use the continuous flow of information to cut through error and find truth. So of course it’s used to divide people into groups based on shared ignorance, and then turn those groups against each other.

The corps are behind it all, trying to make sure Matrix use stays on their terms. But they have to deal with rebels (known as deckers) who take the tools of Matrix architects use and use them to reshape and rejigger the online world, or those capable of shaping it with their own mind (called technomancers). Those rebels are the last hope that some freedom in the Matrix remains.


Along with the dominance of the megacorps, the emergence—or re-emergence—of magic is one of the dominant forces shaping this world. When magic emerged, some people gained the ability to channel unseen energy into spells, while others pulled it into abilities enhanced far beyond normal human capabilities. Individuals conjured spirits from other planes and compelled them into their service. This new source of power vastly changed how the world worked and what people could do, and new tools and techniques are continually being developed.

On top of that, new forms of life emerged in the world through Goblinization and Unexplained Genetic Expression (UGE), giving our corporate dystopia a fantasy kingdom twist. In the Sixth World, nothing is too weird.

Goblinization and UGE

As part of the Awakening that hit the world in the early 21st century, races from legend emerged into reality. Unexplained Genetic Expression brought us elves and dwarfs, and Goblinization introduced orks and trolls. And those were far from the only forms of intelligent life that the Sixth World has seen. Dragons get the most press, but sasquatches, pixies, vampires, ghouls, and more are part of daily life. We all exist together—the trick is figuring out how to live together.


What you think shadowrunners are is as much about yourself as it is about them. Corp drones see them as nuisances or necessary assets, depending on the day of the week. Law enforcement sees them as criminals who need to be locked up. To the common citizens of the world, they are a kind of demon Robin Hood, people who might bring you a taste of justice or who might eat your soul. To other shadowrunners, they are the only people capable of any sort of honest life.

This much is clear: They do the work others can’t do, won’t do, or both. They uncover hidden data, get people out of bad job situations and into better ones (or sometimes the reverse), recover people who are missing, find lost treasures, and if they’re ethically pliable enough, eliminate people for money. They survive, try to thrive, all while balancing ruthlessness with whatever code they claim to follow.