Shadowrun: Court of Shadows is a Tabletop Cyberpunk Faerie Tale

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You have seen it. You have felt it. The dream where you are falling, falling, and you cannot see the ground but you know it is there waiting. You may try to brace yourself, you may try to force yourself awake—you do anything to avoid the impact that keeps rushing toward you.”

The world of Shadowrun is an expansive one, taking shape through  five editions of tabletop roleplaying games, a classic Super Nintendo game, and a host of new Shadowrun computer RPGs by Harebrained Schemes. It’s classic cyberpunk, Blade Runner-y goodness with a fantasy twist. Set in Seattle, Washington (though many other locations are also detailed) at the end of the 21st century, a series of digital attacks, mutagenic viruses, and the return of magic has completely altered the world as we know it. Humans live side-by-side with metahumans—mutants that have become fantastic creatures like elves, dwarves, orks, and others. Megacorporations run the world, and plucky mercenaries called Shadowrunners must make a life for themselves in this new, altered Earth.

As if all that weren’t enough, now those Shadowrunners have faeries to deal with!

The brand-new Shadowrun expansion Court of Shadows is an “alternate setting,” giving Game Masters access to the mysterious realm of Tír na nÓg, within which “the Seelie Court flickers in and out of existence like a bright, childhood memory.” Drawing primarily on Gaelic mythology and other folklore from around the world, this mystical setting is a serious departure from the gritty, cybernetic dystopia presented in the Shadowrun core rulebooks. It’s not a book every Shadowrun fan needs on their bookshelf, but for those of you who like fudging the barrier of fantasy and science fiction, this book is chock-full of game inspiration, short stories, and NPCs for use in your Shadowrun game.

While Court of Shadows is ostensibly for the 5th edition of the Shadowrun RPG, the book definitely has more system-neutral story content than Shadowrun-specific game mechanics. Intrepid gamers who want a gritty look at an alien faerie realm, the description of the land of the Tuatha de Dannan can easily be converted from Shadowrun to a game system of your choosing.

When exploring the world of the faeries, just remember what Terry Pratchett wrote about elves; the same advice applies to these Fair Folk:

“Elves are wonderful. They provoke wonder.

Elves are marvellous. They cause marvels.

Elves are fantastic. They create fantasies.

Elves are glamorous. They project glamour.

Elves are enchanting. They weave enchantment.

Elves are terrific. They beget terror.

The thing about words is that meanings can twist just like a snake, and if you want to find snakes look for them behind words that have changed their meaning.

No one ever said elves are nice.

Elves are bad.”

Watermarked PDF downloads of Shadowrun: Court of Shadows are currently 50% off at DriveThruRPG.

What adventures have you had in the weird, incredible world of Shadowrun? Let us know in the comments or tweet to @GeekandSundry!

Image Credit: Catalyst Game Labs

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