In our group of Shadowrun with discussed about magical tattoos last time. Honestly I think there should exist. I think they should be mentioned somewhere. Does anybody knows where they could be?


3 Answers 3



Arsenal knows Bio-Tattoos that alter skin pigmentation and Nanotattoos that alter coloration and design as needed, but no magical tattoos. Not unexpected, but this does contain Astral Pigments (not useful for tattoos) and FAB, pointing to Street Magic for rules on those.1


While talking about tattoos of different types (together with branding and scarring) with a dedicated subchapter, nothing magical here.... wait, there's a somewhat hidden part!

BONE BLACK MAKEUP More for ritualistic types, bone black has come back in cosmetics and tattooing. Made by burning and crushing animal bones into fine powers, this material has been mixed with other materials such as Awakened butterfly wings or ground with dualnatured plants that react with astral objects so that it gives off a variety of colors. There’s some experimentation in getting the bone black makeup to shi colors depending on local mana fluctuations or the presence of astral beings. The Triad use bone black for spell anchoring tattoos and as a material link to their brethren.2

Street Magic

Besides the FAB and GloMoss, which depending on the GM might be suitable for tattooing, there's more on the use of tattoos in magic: As the material for a Quickening it is distinctly mentioned.

Quickening materials are a form of ritual material (see Ritual Materials, p. 81) that may be used with the Quickening metamagic (see Quickening, p. 190, SR4). When quickening a spell to a living subject, an initiate may use quickening materials to bind the magic to the target’s aura. Using quickening materials always creates a physical representation of the spell on the subject, normally a brand, tattoo, or ritual scar.3


There are mentionings in Vice also, twice even - in the starter, and in a later shadowtalk area:

Beyond actual magical operations, such as buying a magical tattoo or warding a building for a period of time, some criminals and organizations offer more specific services for their more exacting or superstitious clients.4

> I heard a story that the first magical tattoos in the Sixth World were accidental, the result of an Awakened artist who had the habit of finishing a session with a simple spell to cut down on the pain from the tattoo. Imagine his surprise when the spell lasted a little while after he stopped sustaining it! Of course it still unraveled, but the hiroshi began experimenting and eventually incorporated the technique into his quickening technique.
> Sticks

> No offense Sticks, but that doesn’t jive. As far as I’m aware, there was no intermediate step between sustaining a spell and quickening it, nor could there be. I’d say the Watada-rengo’s affiliation with the Great Dragon Ryumyo had more to do with the dissemination of tattoo magic.
> Winterhawk 5


While only very little rules are given in SR4, magical tattoos do exist at least as Quickening anchors (see Street Magic), and some magical active substances are tattooed (see Augmentation). They appear to be a rare commodity that is somewhat known and seen as connected to the Yakuza due to Irezumi (see Vice).

1 - Arsenal, Catalyst Game Labs (2nd Printing, 2011), pp.64. The Pointer goes to Street Magic WizKids/FanPro (2006), pp.126.
2 - Augmentation, Catalyst Game Labs (3rd Print, 2012) p.162.
3 - Street Magic, WizKids/FanPro (2006), p.85.
4 - Vice, WizKids (2009), p.8.
5 - Vice, WizKids (2009), p.50


Not specifically.

However Foci (pp191 core book) can take any shape or form really and having one (or more) as tattoos would be very lore appropriate for shadowrun.


I believe that magical tattoos have so far not made an appearance in 4th edition.

In 3rd edition you can find some information in the Street Magic Sourcebook, but as far as I remember the 4th edition book did not contain any mention.

I just checked the index of my copy as well, no mention there.


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