Truth be told, I've lost track of Shadowrun's in-game "future history" when 3rd edition came out, which we've never got around to play. However, I do know (thanks to various gaming blogs, etc.) that the metaplot has steadily advanced through the subsequent editions.

Now that 5th edition is out, our group is contemplating giving Shadowrun a new try, and I wonder whether the history of the world of the game has been evolving and emerging continuously since 2nd ed., or if there's been some major retcons along the way.

For bonus points (:)), have any new major revelations been made concerning the link between Earthdawn (whichever edition) and Shadowrun? (If they're too numerous to list: Where should we look for a comprehensive list?)

Edit, to answer @Scrollmaster's question: The more detail you provide, the better. However, if no one comes up with a detailed list, even a "There have been no major retcons at all" or a "Xth edition seriously retconned X-1th edition concerning important dates and dragons" (that is, a 3 lines long answer) will also suffice. :) (Sorry, I can't really list my points of interest since I don't remember 2nd ed. too well and I haven't really read 5th edition yet.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that depending of the amount of detail you are looking for, the answer can vary from 3 lines to several pages. So, how much detail do you want? Could you put a succinct list of points to take into account? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18, 2013 at 14:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Scrollmaster I've added an edit to the Q, thank you. Is that enough of a specification? \$\endgroup\$
    – OpaCitiZen
    Aug 18, 2013 at 14:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I remember correctly they have dropped the official Earthdawn/Shadowrun connection sometime in the late 3rd edition timeframe. They've didn't retcon anything major, but simply didn't push it any further. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 18, 2013 at 14:27
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ shadowrun.wikia.com/wiki/Shadowrun_timeline for the win :o) \$\endgroup\$
    – Wibbs
    Aug 18, 2013 at 14:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ There a lot's of minor and a couple of major (arcology shutdown, matrix 2.0, matrix 3.0, emrergence) plot advancements. The most complete writeup (from 1st to late 4th ed.) is probably the Sixth_World_Almanac. \$\endgroup\$
    – Brutus
    Aug 26, 2013 at 18:37

2 Answers 2


Most of the retconning has occurred as the present, real-world timeline has overwritten the future-history timeline of SR.

E.g. as far as I can remember, the 1999 Seretech Decision didn't actually happen. (OR DID IT?!?!?!)

Keep in mind, the timeline of SR has advanced in the Core rulebook and in many of the various sourcebooks that come out - there's usually a metaplot event or two that becomes cannon. (E.g. the Arcology Shutdown)


There are little to no retcons in the Shadowrun canon that mark earlier in-universe information wrong via out of universe means in later editions. This is not needed because quite a lot of the Meta-Plot is presented as "Shadowtalk", making any non-rule-section (or non-"behind the scenes" part of runs) of the book an in-universe text. As these are actually prone to be proven as faulty or biased, there is no real need to "retcon" parts of the universe. Sometimes they just reply with a clarification or a doubtful comment in other shadowtalk at the same time the original statement is published, but at times they just reference the old posts and call the posters names for behavior from earlier.

On a different scale are the campaign books that often paste in a "behind the scenes" snippet for GMs and Players that state exactly how it really is/was to make sure that the in-universe mention is/was not fully credible - and I know of none of these to be retconned up to now, only appended to, as in the case of Dunkelzahn's death.

If you want an example of one of these 'soft retcons' in one book: Take the SR4 Emergence plot, and compare the Shadowtalk/Media parts with the matter-of-factly "behind the scenes" parts that describe what really happened. You should quickly realize some of the "revelations" claimed by the talkers/media are hoaxes.

During these Plot-arcs (and in the history parts in the core books), the whole 'history' of the world gets pushed forwards, into the far future, always 60 years ahead and dominated by the megacorps...

Interestingly, technology in Shadowrun seems to evolve in a way to emulate what we have today plus some 60 years to keep it "up to date" with the futuristic look and feel.

One of the most noticeable examples is probably the Matrix: In the end of 3rd Edition, the first wireless computer networks came up in the real world and computers had become smaller than the typical C64-like Cyberdecks in SR1-3. So they mirrored the wireless connectors into the Shadowrun universe. Then, the first smartphones became popular just about the time SR4 was in planning. To justify an All-Wifi-Matrix (and get rid of old baggage) and make it all shiny cool, the 2nd Matrix Crash was put in between the 3rd and 4th edition. As a result, people ran around with ultra-hacker-smartphones (eh, comlinks). But As that seemed to have gone too far, SR5 was like a technological step back to more boxy Cyberdecks - but they justified it with some shenanigans about yet again fully new matrix protocols that had been established because of hacker and Technomancer fear.


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