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Are there devices in the canonical Shadowrun universe that explicitly fuse magic with technology? A real node where magic and machine not just meet but become one?

Disclaimer: I haven't finished reading SR5 yet, and have only vague recollections of SR2 - the last edition we played - so forgive me if the answer is obvious... but do give me a pointer, a page number or a term to look for(ward to). I know there's technomancy in there, but it doesn't seem like an answer to my question... or am I mistaken?

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You mean like building robots that could host spirits in them and allow them to walk the Earth? Never heard of it. - Some megacorp supersecret lab researcher. –  MrJinPengyou Aug 26 '13 at 17:47
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Are you interested only in canonical objects or also ways to create them ? –  Trajan Aug 30 '13 at 11:57

5 Answers 5

One thing that comes to mind are Cyberzombies. Their creation is pretty much a fusion of cyberware and magic (and a metahuman, but there's usually not much of that left, after the process is done).

I don't think that they are mentioned in SR5 at all (at least not in the core book, I'm sure an upcoming source book will fix this).

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They're a fusion, but they end up kind of anti-magical, so I'm not sure this counts. It's almost like you take away even more magic than normal in order to get cyberzombies. –  Ichoran Aug 26 '13 at 1:37
    
Really not technically machines, especially if you look at the whole metaphysics of it; yes, it's cyberware and magic in conjunction, but it's really just trapping the cyberzombie's spirit inside their body using magic and forcing memories back into their biological brain using cyberware; there's not a direct interaction between the two. –  Kyle Willey Aug 29 '13 at 15:55

Yes and no. There are machines that can use magical elements, i.e. something that's got anchored magic, alchemy, or magical materials (many new things like this were introduced in 4e) will have a magical effect that could be used as part of a machine, but only tangentially; the only way machines can interact with magic would be using something like an anchored spell to trigger a machine using a physical effect. For instance, you could anchor a spell to go off using a quickened detection spell that would then cause a shotgun firing shot with anchored spells on it into whatever set off the spell, but you couldn't actually make a shotgun that could anchor a Death Touch spell on its projectiles.

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How about Toxic magic? It's the magic of pollution. Pollution is the side effect of technology. It's not exactly what you're asking for, but I think it might point in a direction that's consistent with the fluff as written so far. Being a cyberpunk setting, technology is generally depicted as something we rely on, but that always has a cost, and often that cost is more than we want to pay. The pollution from our technological world twists the natural world, including on the spiritual plane. From there we get toxic spirits and shamans, one of the few black-and-white depictions of evil in the Shadowrun setting.

Maybe the conflict between magic and technology doesn't get a nice clean expression in Shadowrun. Maybe the only thing tech can do to magic is pervert it, and then only as a side effect of what it's really designed to do (like how cyberware reduces a character's essence). Maybe the closest thing Shadowrun has to technowizardry is the interaction of the spirit world with the detritus and side effects of technological processes, resulting in toxic magic.

As it stands, I don't think the writers have ever officially released any true fusion of technology and magic. Even Bio-Fibers (mentioned in another answer) are not really a magic device so much as just using living matter for it's known latent magical properties. Same thing with cyberzombies. Putting a cybernetic device on a magical creature isn't any different from putting one on a metahuman (because even mundane people have some latent magical properties).

I think the only place where the borders between tech and magic get blurry is in the Matrix with Technomancers, but then you're also talking about a construct of human consciousness, a "consensual hallucination" as Gibson put it. It's hard to say just what is going on with Technomancers (and the writers have kept it that way on purpose), but there's no explicit need for Technomancer abilities to be a fusion of magic and tech. They could just be using their brains (nature's computer) as decks and interacting with the electrical energy of the network.

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What? Toxic magic? May as well go and rape the whole Earth, why don't you, ya darned heathen! (+1 for proving me wrong in the way only a ragged figure laughing maniacally as the last vestiges of humanity leave him, his shadow cast upon the unholy union of mana and machine, the binding and subjection of the spiritual to the material, which he, guided by abominations most foul, has at long last finished truly can.) –  the dark wanderer Nov 4 at 9:11

There were a few minor items of 'Manatech' in SR4. Have a look through the Arsenal p 64-67.

Also: SR4 - Anniversary Edition page 264 - Biofibers - a simple living wall that prevents mages from astrally projecting/perceiving through it.

That all said, there is not to my recollection anything that explicitly fuses a computer node with magic. Technomacers and Resonance is subtle hinted as a 'magic' for the matrix, but it's far from an explicit link in the cannon. (E.g. Technomancers can't also be mages is probably a game-balance thing more than a metaplot element.)

Personally, I find it's a great area to explore in a home campaign, since there isn't much explicitly laid-out in the books.

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Technology(i.e. the Matrix) and Magic are opposites in Shadowrun. There are occasional mentions of magical machines in some senses (A working toaster is listed as a viable form to summon a Fire spirit in in Street Magic, 4th ed. and I believe there is a Mystic Adept in a stock adventure who rides a bound spirit of Man that manifests as an old Harley Davidson) and there are certainly non-physical or spiritual things (e.g. technomancy) that are Matrix-intertwined. The closest true magic ever comes to to the matrix, though, is the Analyze Device spell (SR4 Core Rulebook), though before the Runner's Companion errata came out there was a time you could buy both latent Technomancer and latent Magician . That was cool.

Given that you can manipulate metal, electricity, and light with magic you could create a magical machine, but no one in cannon ever has and, really, other than academic curiosity there is no reason to as

1) it would be incredibly difficult, requiring an incredibly skilled and specialized caster with personal knowledge of the inner workings of whatever device you wanted to construct. Technologically literate mages aren't actually that rare, but a mage with the aptitude and ability to personally build and sustain all of the circuitry necessary for computing (or devise, develop, and sustain similar non-electrical circuitry) would be a prime runner indeed. No such person has appeared in cannon.

and

2) Even if such a device could be created (and caused to connect to the Matrix somehow), it would be inherently worse than even a cheap commlink at every aspect of Matrix interaction other than resisting intrusions AND would suck as a computer as well. Multiple decades of driven, competitive, innovative, and incredibly well-funded research has been and continues to be dedicated to making the Matrix and the devices that run it smaller, faster, cooler, more user-friendly, more potentially secure, and basically better in every way. You are not outdoing that with a prototype in a completely new field. It's possible that augmenting such systems with magic might provide the groundwork for future development to advance the Matrix, but Hermetic research has clearly indicated that magic is not a viable method of improving such technology and Shamanic tradition rejects it out of hand.

So my answer is 'No. Not only have no such machines ever been mentioned in cannon but the existence of such a machine is antithetical to the premise of the magic/technology dichotomy that lies at the heart of Shadowrun'.

Edit: Except for Toxic magic. But that stuff will get you geeked fast, if your lucky. Best not to look into it too much, chummer (unless you're a GM). It still hasn't been done in cannon, but it's a totally consistent idea and could make for a really cool campaign.

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