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(This question has been heavily edited from its original version, please view the revision history if an answer or comment doesn't make sense.)

I can only think of two ways this could happen in Shadowrun, and I'm not certain either of them apply in canon. In earlier editions of Shadowrun, when goblinization was still reasonably common, a child could change metatypes during their childhood or adolescence or be born a different race than its parents. The problem is that the Fifth Edition books give no real indication that this still occurs spontaneously - but it doesn't specifically say it doesn't, either, so I'm looking for other guidance, maybe from less recent books or non-rulebook novels and such.

The other way is if mixed parents could produce children from either parents' metatype. If that was ever in canon, it should still be valid, but I'm not familiar with every edition of Shadowrun (and 5e is the first one I've gotten anything but the corebook for), so memory will not serve to answer that question for me.

Can it be done without significantly bending canon, and if so, how?

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From my memory of SR2, there's still the occasional orc/troll that undergoes later change, but elves/dwarves are born that way. As for mixed parentage, I think it's possible for the children to be either of the parents races. –  Adeptus Jul 18 at 2:43
Mixed parentage is definitely possible, but "mixed-breeds" don't exist; There's no such thing as a half-troll, half-dwarf, for instance. I think it matches the mother, from memory, but I don't have my books on me. –  GMJoe Jul 18 at 7:13
@DavidL Are you asking if Goblinization as a one-time historical event still happened in SR5, or whether Goblinization still continues to happen to people every now and then even afterwards? –  doppelgreener Jul 18 at 7:47
I'm asking if it still happens in the default time period for SR5 (2075, if I recall correctly). Or basically, if there's any way a pair of siblings can be different metatypes. I'm on my way to work now, but I'll edit the question when I get home to clarify that further. –  gatherer818 Jul 18 at 9:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Supposing that the "started turning into the creatures" part you quoted is from p.50, I'd like to draw your attention the specific mentioning of Goblinization in the introductory part of the book:

Then, in 2021 (...) That’s when Goblinization struck. And it was not pretty. Where UGE had created interesting-looking newborns, Goblinization struck people of all ages. The most noticeable symptom was blinding, mind-numbing agony that came in waves. This lasted twelve to seventy-two hours while the victims changed shape, grew tusks and/or sprouted horns, and maybe quadrupled their body mass. Which is how the orks and trolls came back.

Shadowrun 5th edition core, p. 20

So I think yes, Goblinization is still there as it used to be in earlier editions which you can, in my opinion, consider semi-canon: as long as something is not mentioned in SR5 or is not invalidated by what SR5 says, it's canon, though you'd of course have to keep an eye out for changes presented in later and upcoming publications as well, not just the Core... if you wanted canon.

As for your backstory, let me give you a slightly elusive answer (besides noting that as far as I can remember yes, people can undergo the change later, though that's quite rare these days, and yes, you can have a sibling from a different metatype) : Ask your GM. Seriously. There are always anomalies (people born with two heads and so on), there are rare and unique stories (that make them even more interesting), and you're playing a PC whose story is indeed supposed to be rare and very interesting.

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Also, those affected don't have a long lifespan. With the current version being in 2075 ("LIFE FOR A MAGIC USER IN 2075", SR5E Core, p. 68), and Goblinization happening in 2021, that means at a minimum your character would have to start out over 54 years old if it didn't occur again. Non-source reference would also point to Opti's podcast, where he talks about someone undergoing Goblinization after the first initial wave (once again, not source, but Opti's the shizz.) –  Codeacula Jul 18 at 14:03
@Codeacula Err, you could of course also be the natural born progeny of Goblinized ancestors... –  OpaCitiZen Jul 18 at 14:12
For some reason I thought that wasn't possible and now I can't remember why. Truth, then! –  Codeacula Jul 18 at 14:15
I like this answer, and I intend to run everything by my GM, but he tends to appreciate if I try to get a broader opinion first. I have some very small experience with Shadowrun (I think 2e) at least, he's completely new to it. And the community opinions and answers help. –  gatherer818 Jul 18 at 18:58
One of the Shadowrun novels (from 1e/2e days) is about someone who undergoes Goblinization. But that was about 20 game-years ago, so, still not canon for it being ongoing "now". –  Adeptus Jul 21 at 1:47

Fourth Edition's Runner's Companion touches on this (though I've got some memory of it being touched on elsewhere as well).

Contrary to ethnic races, metagenes seem immune to recombination, miscegenation, and dilution. Although members of different metatypes are able breed with one another, the child always expresses only one of the parent’s metatypes—or is born human (as a result of conflicting metagenes suppressing expression). (SR4 RC, 46)

Long story short, we see this here–any parents can have children of either metatype, or a "vanilla" human child. In addition, however, there are many canon characters who are of the exotic metatypes (avoiding the phrase "non-human") who are not children of a parent of either metatype; this typically is rare, especially after the initial Goblinization/UGE thing, but it occurs with several characters.

The addition of the term dilution here may also imply that you have standard humans who are children of, say, a dwarf, who still carry the dwarf metatype genetic code, but simply did not express it.

In addition, in at least one Street Legends book we see three characters who are siblings who have different metatypes, and no reference is made to them being half-siblings or adopted.

Of course, if you're not happy with this, you can also take the adoption route or half-sibling route.

One thing to note is that Goblinization/UGE/SURGE all occurred prior to the 5th edition timeline as a result of a shift in magic; that doesn't mean that similar events can't occur again, but they will likely be a little rarer now (basically, because it's already happened people who are born now almost always manifest their full genetic code according to the current 6th World rules).

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In addition, I think one of the 4th Edition supplements also listed the dominant/recessive genes for metatypes: trolls supersede orks supersede dwarves supersede elves supersede humans, but since I can't find it I wouldn't count on it. Another thing to note is that this also means that you could have a parent carrying Troll/Elf code and a parent carrying Ork/Dwarf code (or even more, assuming that the metatype could be coded for on multiple different genes), and theoretically allow a child of any metavariant from specific couples. –  Kyle Willey Aug 9 at 21:46
I can't remember where at the moment, but some of the canon suggests at least magical aptitude can still be surprised (post-Awakening) but awoken by a strong source of magic (high background count area). I would personally infer that to include species/metatype expressions as well, though I'm not sure the canon is specific in including it. –  Attackfarm 18 hours ago

Can a white skinned, blonde haired, blue eyed couple give birth to one child who is white, blonde, blue eyed and another baby who has dark brown skin, black curly hair, and brown eyes? Sure. However, mommy may have some explaining to do. The kids are siblings (or at least 1/2 siblings anyway).

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This answer doesn't satisfy Shadowrun canon; metatypes work differently than that; metatype genes may also be recessive in certain cases, meaning that you have two people who are "elf-potential" humans who have only human children until suddenly having an elf child. Metatype traits do not always manifest when the genes are present. –  Kyle Willey Aug 9 at 21:32

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