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"Walking the beat those first couple of months was bizarre. You never knew if your partner was going to suddenly grow fangs" -- Pat Mifflin, Retired Policeman.

The Awakening is the name given to the return of Magic in 2011, the Year of Chaos. The event signifies the beginning of the Sixth World of the Mayan Calender, a turning point to a new era of magic, drastically different from the Fifth World that preceded it. In a broader sense the Awakening describes the rise of the world mana level and the transformations of nature and humanity associated with it. And in that sense is considered to be ongoing by some scholars. Finally the term Awakening is also used to refer to the emergence of magical talent in any specific individual.[I 1] Anyone who begins to show magical talent is said to have been Awakened, and those who can/do use magic actively are said to be Awakened.

A three-thousand-year lull in the flow of mystical energies subsided, and Magic returned to the world. Elves, Dwarfs, Orks, and Trolls assumed their true form, throwing off their human guise.

Tipping point versus process[]

While most attribute the Awakening to a single date based on the Mayan solar calendar, the Awakening actually happened more gradually over the period of several years, even decades. For example, one consequence of the Awakening, Goblinization, did not occur until a decade had passed. The Century Ferret, probably the first awakened species, was discovered a decade before 2011.


The decades that folllowed the Awakening were years of turmoil, panic, and chaos, as the Horsemen of the Apocalypse raced across the Earth. Primitives cultures that have never lost touch with their mystical past began to utilize magic against the great nations that had supressed them for so long. The vast global telecommunications network collapsed under an assault by mysterious computer virus. Nuclear missiles were launched, but failed to detonate. Dragons soared in the skies. Epidemics and famine ravaged the face of the Earth. Clashes between newly Awakened races and the rest of humanity became common. All central authority crumbled and the world began to spiral down into an abyss.

Arguably a very catastrophic event for most of the people in the world. For some, it brought great opportunities, for others it caused great strife. Out of the devastation and anarchy , order slowly reemerged.

Individual awakening[]

Variations on this theme of awakening are used to describe people who are not full magicians. The terms "groggies" and "sleepies" have been used as derogatory ways to describe aspected magicians.


  1. The usage of "awakening" to describe the emergence of magical talent seems to have died out in the transition to the 4th edition of Shadowrun.


  • Shadowrun: First Edition, pp 6, 12 (1989).