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Shadowrun is a cyberpunk-with-magic role-playing game, set in the not too distant future, following a great cataclysm that has brought use of magic back to the world, just as it begins to embrace the marvels (and dangers) of technologies such as cyberspace, genetic engineering, and everpresent computer networks.

The game is skill-based rather than class-based, but "Archetypes" are presented in the main book to give players and gamemasters an idea of what is possible with the system. The combat system uses dice-scaling (the more powerful the attack, the more dice you roll.) Shadowrun uses 6 sided dice exclusively.

Shadowrun was retroactively linked to Earthdawn, and is set in the "Sixth World", where Earthdawn is the "Fourth World" and our modern day earth is at the tail-end of the "Fifth World". Such links are not necessary for play, but there is some crossover potential.

Very closely based upon the writings of William Gibson, although less closely than the Cyberpunk 2020 role-playing game, with a much more North American focus on the world than most cyberpunk genre fiction.

Shadowrun was developed and published by FASA until early 2001 when FASA closed its doors, and the property was sold to WizKids LLC, who license the RPG rights out to the current publisher, Fantasy Productions LLC.

Some people complain that Shadowrun separates different types of characters too far. Fighters are useless in computing. Deckers (computer experts) are useless in magical encounters. Magicians can't drive well. Each specialty is so far removed from the others that it can be difficult to write an adventure which involves all the players at the same time. On balance, however, the "contacts" system makes it quite easy for players to acquire the use of skills that their characters don't have (usually for a price), and the unlike most roleplaying games, the use of one skill does not automatically preclude any other.

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