Introduction: Year of the Comet
by Rob Boyle
Year of the Comet is a pressurized can of whoopass for the world of Shadowrun. This book contains a series of world-shaking events that will cause aftershocks for years to come. It describes the chaos and upheaval as Halley's Comet, the harbinger of change, pays the Earth a visit in 2061. The comet's flyby also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Awakening, that historic moment in 2011 when magic returned to the world, elves and dwarfs were born and the great dragons awoke from ages of slumber. Is the timing accidental, or does it point to a new stage of world history?
Year of the Comet provides gamemasters with numerous plot seeds to create adventures and campaigns anywhere in the world of Shadowrun. The information, plot hooks and storylines provided allow the gamemaster to craft a setting where the player characters can plug directly into the events taking place or plunge into a spin-off scenario. Many of these plot seeds will blossom over time and in future Shadowrun books, constructing a story arc that players can relate to for years.
Year of the Comet is presented as a series of electronic documents posted by Captain Chaos, sysop of the vast Shadowland archive and data haven-the number one source for shadowrunners on what's going on in the world of Shadowrun. The documents are written by various characters, from hack journalists to shadowrunners to dragons, each with their own prejudices and points of view. Each pieces is marked up with a running commentary by other runners who add to, revise and contradict the original post. These pieces of black information add innuendos, allegations, opinions, rumors, misconceptions, misinformation, lies and sometimes even the truth to the information presented. It is left up to the gamemaster to decide what information is correct and which is just filling, as appropriate to his or her game.
The first document, Return of the Comet, describes the hype, media furor and general mayhem that accompanies Halley's Comet, and also delves into the megacorporate probe race, a sensationalized and highly competitive contest to be the first to reach the comet with a space probe.
The next chapter, SURGE, describes a new wave of transformation that sweeps metahuman society. The changelings created by SURGE are each unique, expressing their own particular genetic traits. This chapter also explains how the world reacts to SURGE, first with fears and riots, then with cultural exploitation. It also describes several new discovered paracritters.
Hysteria crawls around the murky underbelly of Halley's Comet - the cults and religious upheavals that occur as people's hatreds, desires and beliefs are inspired or altered by the comet's passing.
Ghost Stories tells of the "re-birth" of an old dragon, whom the media dub Ghostwalker. The astral form of this dragon claws its way through the Dunkelzahn Rift, reclaims its body, then lays siege to Denver. The resulting political shift comes as a shock to many.
Like Mana From Heaven explores some of the magical disturbances that arise in conjunction with the comet. In addition to unusual fluctuations of mana and in astral space, the discovery of naturally-occurring orichalcum leads to a claim rush as corporations and prospectors seek to mine the highly valuable alchemical material. But the world is truly shaken by the arrival of the shedim, horrible new spirits that seize control of dead bodies, bringing them back to unlife.
Red Sunset, Red Sunrise explains how the eruption of the Ring of Fire brings disaster and chaos to Imperial Japan, leading to a power struggle that rocks the world. California Uber Alles describes a side effect of Japan's calamity, when a racist, rogue Japanese officer stages a coup and begins systematically seizing chunks of California.
A new offensive to clear the Yucatan rebels out of the jungles through chemical weaponry and brutal measures leads to a series of natural disasters, toxic zones and spirit warfare, described in The Yucatan War.
The Aftershocks chapter describes a few of the repercussions that the events above have on the rest of the world. From a Filipino revolt to a CAS-Aztlan border conflict to religious infighting, these events illustrate the significance of the changes enveloping the world.
The Game Information section instructs the gamemaster on how to put all of this information to use. It includes rules for characters affected by SURGE, details on the shedim and new paracritters, and also adventure ideas.