While the year our Shadowrun role play is based in is 2063 to understand how the world got the way it is in RP you need to know something about the history of the setting. To understand that history you have to remember that that Shadowrun was originally written in the 1980s so at the time the 21st century was still the future, the authors couldn't know what would happen between then and now. So because of that, the Shadowrun setting becomes both an alternate past and future for us today. Take everything you know about events past the year 2000 and throw them out the window, because in the Shadowrun world events from 2000 on started to diverge greatly from events in the real world. Keep that in mind while reading this and role playing your characters.
This history is a very general overview of world history it can’t possibly cover every event that has happened, but it will give a general idea of the state of the world.
To see what the world looks like and how countries boarders have changed see this link 
In the shadowrun world Mega-corporations began to gain to form through the 1990s as more and more companies worldwide began merging together and gathering more money, power and political influence. As 2000 hit they leveraged that influence and power through staged terrorist attacks and other underhanded means into getting two landmark US Supreme Court rulings past. The first would allow corporations to maintain their own armed forces for the purpose of protecting their properties, creating private corp armies. The second established corporate extraterritoriality, grating multinational corporations the same rights and privileges as foreign government on the property they owned.
These rights only emboldened the forming Mega-corps as they began to snatch up as much land as they could. This would set the stage for massive consequences for North America when the US government went so far as evoking eminent domain to bring previously protected lands under its control so it could licensing out rights to corporations to exploit resources in federal parks and even Indian reservations sparking off a resource rush. This did not go over well with the Native Americans who felt their last lands were being stolen from them as the corporations moved in to claim their prize. The more radical minded among them formed the Sovereign American Indian Movement (SAIM) to fight the corporate takeover.
Not much was accomplished by SAIM however until 2009. With more and more of their resources being sold out from under them, the SAIM took over a US air force nuclear weapons launch facility in Montana, threatening that if their land was not returned to them they would begin launching missiles. Sufficed to say this did not end well, the government sent in forces to retake the facility and in the resulting fray a nuclear missile was launched towards Russia. The missile mysteriously, and miraculously, never struck its target though how and why was never discovered. At that point however it didn't matter, the world had come to within an inch of sparking off a nuclear war and public opinion pinned the blame for it on the Natives. A view which the corporations were happy to encourage as their PR departments got to work demonizing SAIM and by association Native Americans in general.
Within a few months the congress had passed an Act calling for the confinement of anyone associated with SAIM in order to contain the threat. Of course the abuses of the law were rampant as they conveniently lumped most Native Americans into being "associated" with SAIM and many were confined to "re-education centers" much to the glee of the corporations who now got to exploit the old reserve land without pesky people in the way.
Around the same time down in Texas there was an incident with unemployed homeless workers storming a corporations offices demanding the corp be held accountable for Dallas' financial and crime problems. The Texas ranger assault teams were called in and when the smoke cleared the Texas legislature passed laws giving corporate security forces the power to do whatever they want to armed intruders, encouraging the "shoot first ask questions later" attitude most corporations end up with. Around the world similar laws were being passed in several countries. This set the stage for the existence of Lone Star and similar private security corporations.
Over in Japan the country re-emerged from its long recession as a major power, due mostly to the rise of its mega corporations. By the end of the decade political manoeuvring saw them declare themselves the Japanese Imperial State and newly discovered cheap methods of power generation by its corporations allowed it a virtual economic takeover of the Third World. The resurgence of Japan as a military power soon followed.
All of the other world problems suddenly paled in comparison as the VITAS plague emerged. The first cases of Virally Induced Allergy Syndrome turned up in India in 2010. The disease spread quickly and proved incredibly deadly. By the end of the year roughly a quarter of the world’s population was dead. The populace was thrown into panic, the virus struck indiscriminately killing rich and poor alike, driving desperate people to try anything to stay healthy.
2011 - The year of Chaos
As the worst of VITAS past leaving one in four people dead and chaos in its wake the world would be faced with even more changes. All over the world normal parents started having mutant children, who would be dubbed Elves and Dwarves, the first Metahumans. Scientists called this Unexplained Genetic Expression or UGE though really had no idea what was causing these strange children to be born. In reality it was caused by the first manifestations of magic returning to the world, but no one knew that was even possible.
More Magical incidents quickly followed. In December Japanese witnessed the first appearance of a Great Dragon over Mount Fuji. At the same time in the US Daniel Howling Coyote lead his group of followers out of a Texas re-education center, protected from the guards bullets by a mysterious glow. Elsewhere Magic changed weather patterns and landscapes. In Australia violent "Mana storms" swept through the outback killing hundreds. Ancient Ley Lines and similar phenomena became active causing various effects like forests growing rapidly in Ireland and stone circles to erupt through the earth in Great Britain.
It wouldn't be until January of 2012 that people would get a first understanding of what was happening when the great Dragon Dunkelzahn appeared in Denver. He would go on to give an interview to a lucky news reporter, over twelve hours he would give the first explanation of the rise of magic that came to be known as The Awakening.
2012-2018 - The Great Ghost Dance war
North America as it was would not survive the 2010s. The Mexican government had been shattered by the VITAS plague and in 2015 the new president renamed the county Aztlan, claiming that they would reclaim the Hispanic people’s glorious cultural heritage. In reality the new Aztlan government was nothing but a tool under the control of the megacorporation which would come to be known as Aztechnology.
Further north Daniel Howling Coyote was gathering followers from among the disenfranchised Natives. In 2014 they announced the creation of the Native American Nations (NAN), a coalition of tribes headed by the Sovereign Tribal Council, which laid claim to the entire of North America. They ordered all "Anglos" which translated into all non-natives, out of North America, under the threat of magical retribution. No one really believed the threat was real, until Redondo Peak in New Mexico erupted and buried Los Alamos. When Howling Coyote took credit for causing the eruption the military was called in to deal with him, though the air force battalion first sent in was destroyed by sudden violent tornadoes. This sparked off the NAN guerrilla war.
Given the threat the US government quickly moved to pass a resolution to exterminate the Natives, with the battle lines drawn, all hope of a peaceful resolution died. Over the next year Howling Coyote and the NAN tribes started the Great Ghost Dance. A magical ritual which raised vast amounts of power. Freak weather began to cause havoc for military bases and supply lines as nature seemed to turn against them. In August of 2017 the Great Ghost Dance reached its height as Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams all erupted at once. The devastation done by the eruptions finally convinced all sides to sit down and try talking peace.
Treaty of Denver
in 2018 The leaders of the US, Canada, NAN and Aztlan (who had received a seat on the sovereign tribal council in exchange for its aid to NAN) came to Denver to redraw the map of North America. Over three long and contentious months they hammered out the Treaty of Denver. This gave most of western North America to NAN, while within that area the US held onto California and the area around Seattle. Denver became the "treaty city" Under the joint administration of each government. The final treaty made almost no one involved happy, but it ended the war.
Around the time of the treaty in Denver the scientific community was coming up with their own world changing ideas. 2018 would see the first Artificial Sensory Induction System (ASIST) created. Meaning the creation of simsense, computer chips which can cause people to feel whatever senses the chip is programmed with. The entertainment industry quickly jumped on the commercial opportunities this presented.
Almost a year later the first cyberlimb was successfully implanted in a human. A Cyberhand whose electronic components could link directly to the nervous system thus allowing fine motor control.
In other developments Lone Star Security Services became the first official private law enforcement agency to take over policing of a city in Corpus Christi Texas. The Seattle Metroplex was also officially founded during this time. People were dealing with all the new changes and for a little while it looked like things were calming down, but it wouldn't last.
In the corporate world in 2023 the Corporate Court was established by several of the largest mega-corps. Since Corporations had gained extraterritoriality and started acting like nation states this also meant armed conflicts had at times started up between them causing a lot of damage that was bad for business. The corporate court was meant to stop these conflicts from happening by having justices from each of the biggest corporations ruling on conflicts between corporations all over the world.
On April 30 2021, all over the world one in ten adults suddenly metamorphized into hideous humanoid shapes. Soon this would start effecting children as well, some born as "Monsters" other turning into them at puberty. Before long these people got labeled as "Orks" and "Trolls" From popular mythology.
The earlier appearance of elves and Dwarves had frightened people enough but this new wave of sudden UGE set people right over the edge of panic. Governments everywhere started rounding up metahumans and their families fearing the affliction could be contagious. In North America they got shoved into camps. The Japanese Empire forcibly relocated all metahumans to the Island of Yomi. Some metahumans managed to go into hiding, others died and violent race riots wracked the world on a global scale.
While governments tried to contain the violence it wouldn't calm down until a new wave of VITAS broke out in 2022. The outbreak claimed another 10 percent of the world’s population briefly uniting humans and metahumans in fear.
The lull wouldn't last, as the second round of VITAS passed a warning sign of things to come would be the founding of the Humanis policlub, a collection of human-supremacist bigots. Despite that in 2023 the US granted metahumans equal protections under the law as regular humans. Racial tensions died down to a simmer for the most part.
in 2025 Lone Star took over law enforcement of the Seattle Metroplex. The police department had gone on strike and the governor declared the strike illegal, fired the entire police department and brought in Lone Star.
The techno revolution which started with simsense and cyber parts went a step further when the first prototype cyberterminals were invented. These first terminals required isolations chambers and multiple hooks ups to the operator, massively expensive they were used by only corporations and militaries. Still they were able to allow the user to interface with computers via the central nervous system. The first tests did not go well however and the first volunteers went mad. It took several years to refine the technology to be safe enough to use. Shortly after the first training team of "cyber-commandos" was being put together called Echo Mirage.
The Crash of 2029
On February 8, 2029 computer systems across the world came under apparent random attacks from a virus nastier than anything seen before. System after system crashed, data vanished and hardware burned out. The killer virus spread faster than anyone could contain it, the world economy nearly collapsed and governments toppled.
Echo Mirage was brought in to try and contain the virus, early attempts failed however as the psychological demands of combat in cyberspace overwhelmed the linear thinking of the agents. So data-processing mavericks and students were brought in and rammed through a brutal training program where claimed the sanity of many of them. Thirty two managed to get through intact.
By August the new Echo Mirage team mounted an attack on the virus. Within minutes four of the team had died from lethal bio feedback caused by the virus and little progress was made. What was discovered however was that existing computer security programs couldn't even slow down someone using a cyberterminal. Horrified at the idea that Echo Mirage could penetrate their most secure systems, the corporations began researching methods to stop such intrusions, based on what the virus had done. This research would evolve into the Intrusion Countermeasures (IC) capable of destroying decks and killing deckers.
Echo Mirage meanwhile was upgraded with new combat programs and better cyberterminals using desk sized hardware that needed no sensory deprivation tank. They began purging the virus and by late 2031 had finally wiped out the last known concentration of the code. Only seven members of the team still survived and several of those would leave to join various corporations, taking their secrets of the new technology with them.
2030-2037 Secession and War
The crash destabilized a large part of the world, countries fell apart and realigned themselves, often through violence during most of the next decade. The US-Canada merger went smoother than most. Between the ghost dance war and the crash so much damage had been done economically to both countries that it was decided to have what was left merge. Thus forming the United Canadian and American States (UCAS) in 2030. There were some protests on both sides when California started having talks about succession the UCAS government beat them to it and simply kicked them out in 2037, thus the California Free State was born.
In the southern states there was talk of going back to the old days of being a sovereign nation and protests over the creation of the UCAS. Though at first they decided to remain part of the UCAS within a few years they walked away from it over what they saw as preferential treatment of the northern sprawl zones. Thus the Confederated American States (CAS) was formed. Though at first there were fears of another civil war the split managed to happen peacefully.
Elsewhere in the world things were not going well. Awakened forces had seized control of Siberia much to the dislike of the Russians, with other countries on the boarders picking sides or trying to secede themselves the troops got called in and it exploded into a conflict that lasted more than a dozen years. Dubbed the Euro Wars the worst of the fighting was eventually derailed in 2033. In a mysterious incident in the dead of night several flights of fighters were detected streaking towards northern Europe, they destroyed key communications and command centers on both sides. At the same time more than a dozen key commanders were assassinated. This forced a cease fire the next day, though no one ever took credit for the strike and its source was never discovered.
In South America in 2034 A force of Awakened beings and metahumans led by three great dragons descended on the Amazon basin. After a short and bloody conflict the newly declared nation of Amazonia was founded were Brazil had once been. It quickly became a self-proclaimed saviour of the eco-sphere.
New turmoil happened to the north as Aztlan resigned from the NAN Sovereign Tribal council to protests when they said was constant internal squabbling amongst its members.
Then came the forming of the elven nations. The first was founded in place of Ireland after the impeachment of its president for massive corruption. The elves were able to transform Ireland into Tir na nOg claiming to create an elven nation steeped in Celtic heritage and magic.
In North America elves who had settled into what was once Oregon announced the creation of Tir Tairngire there and simultaneously seceded from NAN. After driving off the NAN troops the elves settled into creating their own elven paradise run by the Council of Princes.
With The California Free State separated from the UCAS Tir Tairngire lost no time in mounting a surprise attack on northern California. The citizens of northern California didn't take well to this however and guerrilla resistance was able to push them back to the Tir boarders eventually.
At the same time however Aztlan struck from the south into California and captured San Diego. California's governor made the poor decision of asking the Japanese for military aid. They sent the aid but not what was asked for, instead they sent marines into San Francisco to protect their corporate assets there. A council of Japanese mega-corps soon took control over the city and Greater San Fran turned into Tokyo by the Bay.
2033-2048 Corporate Machinations
As the 2040s come around the Megacorporation began to settle into those in modern shadowrun. Damien Knight made a famous nanosecond buyout of Ares industrial in 2033. An unknown, he used expertly programmed computers to execute a complicated series of transactions which gave him a 22 percent share in Ares.
Also notably the great dragon Lofwyr in 2037 made the startling announcement that he owned 63 percent of Saeder-Krupp based out of Germany. The great dragon used this to appoint himself president and CEO of one of the most powerful Mega-corps on the planet.
2036-2046 Humans and Metas, from bad to worse
Over the years Human and metahuman relations had been uneasy at the best of times, but they began to hit rock bottom in 2036. A human supremacist group called Alamos 20,000 made its first appearance with a firebombing in rural Ohio, and would be linked to killing over a thousand metahumans over the next fifteen years.
In the UCAS government the 14th Amendment was ratified. This introduces System Identification Numbers (SIN) and required the registration of every UCAS citizen. People without a SIN were to be considered "probationary citizens" with very limited rights. The amendment also labeled anyone not human or metahuman as being a probationary citizen regardless of if they had a SIN or not. Only an act of congress could give full status to a non-human or metahuman and that has only been granted once to the dragon Dunkelzhan.
Over the next three years, hate crimes against metahumans got worse. On February 7, 2039 these tensions erupted and it would forever after be known as the Night of Rage. Thousands of metahumans, their friends, families and supporters died in worldwide race riots. In many cities metas were rounded up "For their own protection" In Seattle the warehouses being used as detention centers were attacked and burned by Hand of Five terrorists. The metroplex guard did nothing to stop the blaze and hundreds died.
Three days later Alamos 20,000 used explosives to topple the Sears tower in Chicago killing thousands of people. No one has rebuilt the area and it is haunted by ghosts of the dead and ghouls earning the area the name "Shattergraves".
Elsewhere more violence erupted and the tension would last for years. It seemed the only bright spot in the 2040s was a new group calling itself the Universal Brotherhood. Claiming to be a humanitarian organization the preached love of one's fellow sentient beings. No one would realize their true purpose until a decade later.
2049-2060 The cutting edge
As the century progressed every trend of the new world intensified. Technology rushed ahead, new and bizarre magical phenomena would continue to appear and war would continue to come and go around the globe.
Cyber technology continued to progress as more and more people chose to use it as a way to replace frail flesh. By 2052 bioware, organic implants had also been developed in the race for people to better themselves.
In Aztlan rebels causing problems in the Campeche district where put down hard by Aztechonogy killing hundreds of unarmed civilians. This only sparked off a major rebellion against the government which is still going on in the Yucatan peninsula.
In 2055 the terrifying true purpose of the Universal Brotherhood came to light when the UCAS FBI found out they were a cult of Insect Shaman summoning bug spirits. It turns out they were using the people who came to them for help as hosts for the spirits. Not wanting to spread panic the government kept this information quiet as they started shutting down the organization and wiping out the dangerous hives of insect spirits they had created.
For Chicago this effort came too late. When an Aries investigation team found a major hive there the attempt to wipe it out was botched and bug spirits poured out across the city. Efforts were quickly made to seal off the area. Inside the containment zone a Ares team trapped in the center of the hive had set off a subtactical nuke, though the worst of the blast was mysteriously contained, the damage was done, many of the bugs were loose and for the next three years much of Chicago stayed walled off as a containment zone, trapping any unfortunate people living there inside.
Dragon for president
In 2057 the president and vice president of the UCAS were impeached due to massive election fraud discovered in the previous years election. When the new election was called politics suddenly became very interesting when the great dragon Dunkelzahn announced he was going to run for president.
After eight months of campaigning Dunkelzhan won the election. However on the night of his inauguration an explosion engulfed his limo assassinating the dragon and tearing open and astral rift which still remains above the murder site. All attempts to investigate the rift have failed and no one has ever been found responsible for the assassination.
Riots engulfed the UCAS at the word of the dragon’s death. Dunkelzahn's VP Kyle Haeffne was sworn in as president instead and he nominated Nadja Davair, formerly the "voice of Dunkelzhan to be his Vice president. In a major press conference shortly after, the Will of Dunkelzhan was also revealed. It established the Draco Foundation to administer the hundreds of bequeaths and set up the Dunkelzahn Institute of Magical Research bringing together some of the best magical minds available. Many of the bequeaths in the dragons will changed fortunes for people overnight not just through money, but corporate shares, powerful items, information and many other things which would shake up a lot of lives.
In the corporate world the first impact of the dragons Will was a corporate big wig out of Mega-corp Fushi was bequeathed and seat on the board of their biggest rival, the mega-corp Renraku. With his departure it was only a sign of the end for Fushi. At the same time several smaller corporations got a big boost from Dunkelzhan's will and were looking to use it to secure themselves a coveted spot as one of the big triple A Mega-corps. Something the ones already at the top were not eager to let happen.
The big winners out of the resulting power shuffling were Cross Applied technologies out of Quebec, who got themselves a spot on the Corporate Court after a bomb took out Renraku's representative. Waxing out of Hong Kong, a small corp who had gotten a huge infusion of cash from Dunkelzhan also got to take spot on the court after two other reps conveniently died in plane crashes.
Novatech was formed when Richard Villiers bailed out of Fushi taking a third of the mega-corp with him. Fushi didn't last much longer as what remained of it was absorbed by Renraku and Shiawase and the Mega-corp officially dissolved.
2061-2062 Year of the Comet
With the worst of the shake up among the corporations dying down for the moment 2061 brought the return of Halley's comet to the solar system which also happened to coincide with the 50th adversary of the awakening. This brought a wave of hype and paranoia as people saw the comet as a sign, either good or bad, that things were going to get shaken up. They would be proven quite right about that.
At the end of 2060 in Seattle Renraku was celebrating the success of their new massive arcology. However a week before Christmas the arcology went into a sudden security shutdown completely sealing the building trapping a hundred thousand people inside. For several months the building remained impenetrable, the fate of those inside unknown. When the arcology was finally breached it was to find a scene of horror. An Artificial Intelligence called Deus had taken over the complex, performing hideous experiments on those trapped within. Though the AI is eventually destroyed clearing out the arcology of everything it left behind is a long task.
For the rest of the world as Halley's came into view a new form of magical mutation similar to goblinization began to break out. Seemingly normal people would suddenly undergo a physical change, it could be anything from a change in skin colour to growing gills or having their senses altered, sometimes the effects could even be fatal ones. Though it only affected a very small percentage of the population this SURGE effect as it would come to be called sparked off a new round of panic and racial tensions. Violence broke out against the people affected by SURGE as others feared the effect could be contagious. Riots and unrest from the event would continue throughout the year though the number of new cases would decrease to a trickle by the middle of 2062.
In the middle east, Ibn Eisa, the leader of the Islamic Unity Movement which had made great strides in bringing stability to the Islamic countries was assassinated. Several days later he appears to make a miraculous return from the dead though with very different goals as he declares a New Islamic Jihad.
In October disaster struck as the entire Ring of Fire around the Pacific becomes active. The worst hit are Japan and the Philippines as multiple volcanoes in the area cause mass destruction including killing all but one of Japan's Imperial family. Japan calls for the withdrawal of its foreign troops in order to focus on rebuilding. In Japan occupied San Francisco however one General Saito refuses the order to head home and stages a military coup to secure the area for himself with the backing of the Japanese mega-corps there. In 2062 the fourteen year old survivor of the Imperial family is named child Emperor and quickly begins pushing through changes for the country, including ended the long standing exile of all metahumans to the Island Yomi.
By the end of 2061 the Dunkelzahn rift in Washington DC begins behaving strangely with what appear to be unknown spirits escaping from it. This leads to the shocking event of the astral form of a great dragon breaking through the rift followed by a wave of spirits. This dragon who would come to be known as Ghostwalker, soon after appears in Denver in physical form and begins wreaking havoc on Aztlan establishments there waging a deadly guerrilla war against the city in the weeks that follow. Early in 2062 the violence is stopped as the dragon meets with the Council of Denver and Ghostwalker is given control over the city. Aztlan is swiftly kicked out of Denver by the dragon’s decree.
Also at the end of 2061 the first reported "zombie" attacks begin. Though the source of the zombies is hotly contested they are dubbed "Shedim" by the media. Magicians capable of animating the dead are blamed and hunted in many countries. Though in truth these Shedim seem to be a new type of spirit capable of possessing dead corpses, or anybody not currently with a soul in it.
2063 Here and now
So this brings us to 2063. The madness surrounding the year of the comet has died down, but the changes it brought are here to stay. In the corporate world there are now ten mega-corps at the top all vying to get an advantage over each other. Magic continues to come up with new and strange wrinkles every time people start to think they have it figured out. In Seattle life remains much the same, the world is unfair and people with the credit make the rules as the rest scramble to get ahead. Technology races forward faster than people can keep up with it and crime as ever lingers in the shadows.