The Shadowrun 4E background material mentions an event called SURGE, which seems to be similar to UGE or Goblinization. SURGE is mentioned twice in SR4A, and at least once in the Sixth World Atlas. The acronym is spelled out, but I can't find an adequate explanation of what kind of change it actually entails. Could someone please provide more detail?



2 Answers 2


SURGE is an acronym of Sudden Unexplained Recessive Genetic Expression. It occurred in the 2060s with the return of Halley's Comet (SR4A, p. 32 & p. 54).

In 2061, a massive mana pulse affected revelers bathing in the holy waters of the Ganges. The traits expressed by some were unusual skin tones and a pair of extra arms. They are called the Nartaki (Dancers) in deference to Shiva, who the people were celebrating at the time. The Nartaki are considered a distinct type, showing no shared metagenetic markers with other types (RC p.49).

Another SURGE metatype are the hobgoblins, an orc derivation. They have less bodymass than the ork. Greenish skin, sharp teeth and prominent ears are characteristics of the hobgoblins. Most hobgoblins are of Central Asian or Arabic descent (RC p. 49).

Other ork meta-variants include satyrs, oni, ogres in addition to the hobgoblins (RC p.50-51)

The Runner's Companion details meta-variants for elves, dwarves and trolls as well.

SR4A: Shadowrun Core Rulebook 4th Edition RC: Runner's Companion which covers alternate rules and additional qualities and meta-types for player characters.


SURGE (Sudden Recessive Genetic Expression) was originally detailed in the 3rd edition Shadowrun Companion (published 2001, in-game 2061/2) Year of the Comet; it presented rules for all sorts of weird features:

Examples of Class One SURGE include pointed ears, tusks, horns, or the ability to perceive the astral world...[Class Two SURGE causes] development of fur or tails, vertically slotted eyes, or even fully functional gills...[Class Three SURGE examples] have included loss of all body hair, unusual skin pigmentation, and even one case which developed an extra knuckle on two fingers of each hand.

(YotC, p. 27)

The in-game story is that there was a second wave of changes, much like UGE but rarer (~1%) that caused these strange traits. However, the rules were to make an Essence (12) test (with a few modifiers), which meant that as a practical matter, something like 15% of all characters would pick up a SURGE trait.

Among people I knew, the rules were not particularly well-received; people tended to make fun of them for allowing characters that would fit best on a Sunday morning kid's cartoon.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I voted +1 to both answers \$\endgroup\$
    – RMorrisey
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 5:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ There was something in the original Companion, that included those additional metatype variants (although I don't recall them being linked to the SURGE event (predated it?). \$\endgroup\$
    – TygerKrash
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 8:15
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @TygerKrash - Those predated SURGE; that was just fleshing out the variation that was supposedly already there (though you wouldn't have known it before the Companion). \$\endgroup\$
    – Ichoran
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 15:43

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