Characters in Shadowrun can be humans, orks, trolls, elves and dwarves, as well as certain diverging subspecies (known as metavariants) such as gnomes, giants, minotaurs, etc. As magic returned to the world, Humans began to give birth to infants of these races, a phenomenon called Unexplained Genetic Expression, or "UGE" in 2011. Then in 2021, some juvenile and adult humans "goblinized" into other races (mostly orks, but also some trolls). The term metahuman is used either to refer to humanity as a whole, including all races, or to refer specifically to non-human races, depending on context. With the return of Haley's Comet, new human variants called "changelings" arose. While not as many people were affected by this change as the previous "Goblinizations", it was enough to spark new controversy in the Awakened World, especially since changelings were frequently regarded as mutants or freaks due to the large variety of exotic traits they show.
Two of the metahuman races have fictional languages. Many elves speak Sperethiel, which some of them—being immortal—remember from the last age of magic. Some orks speak Or'zet, which was forgotten until the will of an assassinated dragon released The Or’zet Codex to the public.
Additionally, a virus known as HMHVV (Human Meta-Human Vampiric Virus) with many variant strains has been known to cause further change, frequently resulting in Bandersnatches, Banshees, Dzoo-noo-quas, Goblins, Ghouls, Nosferatus, Vampires, Wendigos, Wild Fomorians, and other fierce abominations that are no longer human and sometimes no longer even sentient.
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