Jordan Weisman, the creator of Shadowrun, is back and Shadowrun Returns (for Apple & Android tablets and PCs) is the game that Shadowrun fans have been waiting for a long time. A graphically rich 2D turn-based single player game with deep story interaction, meaningful character development, and highly-contextual tactical combat, Shadowrun Returns is not only going to make some old geeks (like us) very happy but it will introduce new players to a dynamic gaming universe that is beloved around the world.
Created almost 25 years ago, Shadowrun remains one of the most original and cherished role-playing settings. The game world’s origin story mashes-up the dystopian Cyberpunk future of a Blade Runner with the high fantasy creatures and races of a Lords of the Rings in an organic way that produces iconic characters, environments, and situations.
Here's how it works:
According to the Mayan Calendar (and lots of tabloids), the world will end on December 12, 2012. It’s part a 5,200 year cycle of death and rebirth that, in Shadowrun, actually charts the ebb and flow of magic from the Earth. So, on 12/12/12 magic will return, end this world, and wreak holy havoc while starting the next. Aboriginal cultures, who maintained their mystical traditions, are the first to feel the return of magic and use their newfound power to reshape the political, financial, and physical world around them. As the magic increases, Elf and Dwarf babies are born to very surprised parents who carry the right combination of long-dormant genes. But all of these events pale in comparison to the horror of "goblinization", which painfully reshapes the teenage bodies of those unlucky enough to carry dominant Ork or Troll genes. And then the first Great Dragon rises from its 5,200 yearlong hibernation and circles over Tokyo, signaling that the world has truly AWAKENED.
Fast forward two generations, to a world transformed not only by the growth of magic but by the acceleration of cyber technology—a continual effort to improve upon the gifts that nature gave humanity; by the inevitable maturation of the World Wide Web into the Matrix—a network directly accessible by the human brain; and by the near elimination of governments as they are replaced megacorporations—monolithic entities who see only customers, not citizens.
And moving through the dark shadows cast by the gleaming towers of the corps, are Shadowrunners – disposable assets and corporate pawns scratching out a living using a combination of technology, magic, and street smarts. Shadowrunners live between the cracks and operate outside the law, doing the dirty work that corporate wage-slaves won’t soil their hands with and occasionally acting as the only protection the citizenry can turn to.
Welcome to the world of Shadowrun, where man meets magic and machine.
There are a couple of key ideas at the core of Shadowrun Returns.
Deep, Interactive Stories
We intend to follow a braided anthology structure for our story. Jordan, his partner Mitch Gitelman and Mike Mulvihill, who led Shadowrun game development at FASA Corp. will craft and structure the meta-story, then supply key information for a group of writers to weave into their own short stories, which we'll then use as the basis for our missions. To ensure an authentic tone, we'll incorporate the storytelling skills of many Shadowrun authors and designers who've been carrying the flame over the last 23 years such as:
Michael A. Stackpole
The result should be an overall narrative that is layered, textured, and satisfying.
One of the many innovations in Data East’s Shadowrun Super Nintendo game was a unique conversation engine that opened up new avenues of conversation based upon information you learned through interactions with characters and objects. We intend on taking a similar path with a new twist or two.
Contextual Gameplay in Four Realities
Four realities overlap in the world of Shadowrun (the Physical, the Digital, the Mystic, and the Astral) and associated character classes such as the Street Samurai, Hacker, Combat Mage, and Shaman, each have the ability to view and interact with the world in ways the others can’t.
Here are some ways that selecting each character class allows you to see the map from a different perspective:
Street Samurai see a threat assessment overlay of the environment that notes enemy appraisals, options for cover, potential weapons, and statistics for drawn weapons.
Combat Mages see magical auras, granting them the ability to locate magical items, identify spells being prepared, and find the intersections of magic lay lines where they can recharge their power.
Hackers/Deckers see the digital control circuitry that allows them to manipulate the physical world via the digital one.
Shaman see the “true world” that lies in the astral plane, distinguishing the true nature of people, plants, creatures, and magical objects while buildings and other “dead” objects appear as mere shadows.
Missions (aka "Runs") in Shadowrun Returns can require interaction with all four realities simultaneously, requiring you to use information learned from each character’s perspective to coordinate their context-sensitive actions to get the job done. . . and survive.
That’s why we decided to make Shadowrun Returns a turn-based game—so we can offer you a wide range of context-based gameplay options from which to craft a your plan.
The Streets Tell a Million Stories
One of the things that we feel most strongly about is that the world of Shadowrun was created for all of us to tell stories within. That’s one of the beautiful things about in-person tabletop role-playing—the stories are extremely relevant to you and your friends because they were made by you and your friends.
In honor of that tradition, we plan to release our PC-based level editor when we release Shadowrun Returns so that everyone can create their own Shadowrun stories & “runs”. When you upload your stories, you can make them available to your Friends Only or the entire Shadowrun community.
The game we want to make is very humble by modern blockbuster game standards but it is still way beyond the ability of a small start-up to fund by itself. The restraints on the license from Microsoft made it impossible to get established publishers interested in Shadowrun and so it remained just a dream for a long time until Jordan saw the recent successes of some other veteran designers on Kickstarter.
Crowd sourcing to fund creative content represents truly profound change to the status quo. While we watch financial models for the creation and distribution of creative content continue to erode, Kickstarter charts a direction for how fans can directly impact development of creative content they want by funding its creation.
We hope that Shadowrun Returns is a creative concept you want to help make into a reality and we thank your consideration and support.
It is strange to be required to license your own game in order to make a new version of it but that’s what can happen when you’re old and keep changing companies. Here's the fast-forward version:
And so, our favorite game has come full circle and Jordan is again leading the development of a world he started oh, so many years ago.
And for those of you that have been around since the very early days, we want to make sure that YOU understand that WE understand and that we'd love to see things like this (and more) in the game.
Ares Predators and Ruger Super Warhawks (yes, with smartlinks), Maglocks and Doc Wagons, datajacks and credsticks, dermal plating and wired reflexes, “chummer” and "drek", Ares and Fuchi and Aztechnology (Oh my!).
But that's not all.
Mr. Johnson(s), Lofwyr (can’t leave him out can we?), gangers, toxic spirits, Renraku Arcology, The Sprawl, the Redmond Barrens & the Ork Underground (oh yes), UCAS, Tir Taingire and even the Sioux Nation, but most of all you WILL be saying (or is that screaming?). . . “Never EVER Deal with a Dragon!”