The Mayan calendar flips over to a new cycle today, which is a special day in tabletop roleplaying games. Or rather, a particular roleplaying game: Shadowrun. Originally published in 1989, Shadowrun was built upon the following premise (from Wikipedia):

The end of the Mayan Long Count ushers in the “Sixth World”, with once-mythological beings (e.g. dragons) appearing and old forms of magic suddenly re-emerging. Large numbers of humans “Goblinize” into orks and trolls, while human children begin to be born as elves, dwarves, and even more exotic creatures.

In parallel with these magical developments, the setting’s early 21st century features technological and social developments associated with cyberpunk science fiction…When conflicts arise, corporations, governments, organized crime syndicates, and even wealthy individuals subcontract their dirty work to specialists, who then perform “shadowruns” or missions undertaken by deniable assets without identities or those that wish to remain unknown. The most skilled of these specialists, called shadowrunners, have earned a reputation for getting the job done. They have developed a knack for staying alive, and prospering, in the world of Shadowrun.

Since then, Shadowrun has had four tabletop RPG editions and several successful computer games. Note that the 1st Edition core rulebook incorrectly pegged the end of the Mayan Long Count as being in 2011, but later editions correctly cited it as December 21st, 2012.

Even though these developments of the 6th Age haven’t come true (at least, I haven’t heard any accounts of people “goblinizing”) it’s going to be a great year for Shadowrun! Both Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun Online are computer games that will be released in the coming months. And just today, Catalyst Games announced that they are creating a Shadowrun deck-builiding game, tactical minis game, and euro game, along with Shadowrun 5th Edition!

Shadowrun is a setting I’ve always loved, but haven’t gotten to play nearly as often as I’d like (although I’ve got a great story about about playing in a one-shot where we summoned as giant squid, gave him a gun, and commanded it to assassinate a dragon). I think this is my New Year’s Resolution: play more Shadowrun in the coming year! Now that’s a resolution I think I can keep!