Metahuman Living

Let’s take a serious look at the implications of racial diversity in the Shadowrun world. For reference:
Nickname Subspecies Height Weight Puberty Maturity Lifespan
Dwarf Homo sapiens pumilionis 1.2 m
54 kg
(119 lb)
11.6-13.8 17-19 100 (150)
Elf Homo sapiens nobilis 1.9 m
72 kg
(158 lb)
14.2-16.8 20-24 300 (400)
Human Homo sapiens sapiens 1.7 m
70 kg
(154 lb)
11-13 16-18 75 (100)
Ork Homo sapiens robustus 1.9 m
95 kg
(209 lb)
9.4-9.9 11-15 40 (60)
Troll Homo sapiens ingentis 2.8 m
225 kg
(495 lb)
8.4-9.9 11-15 50 (70)
Puberty refers to the age in years of the onset of puberty.
Maturity refers to the age in years at which the being reaches physical maturity.
Lifespan gives the normal lifespan in years, though exceptional individuals may reach or exceed the one given in parentheses.

These data have been extracted from Earthdawn source material. Some other information from Earthdawn:

Sourcebook Silliness

Ignore the table from Cybertechnology on body weight being linear with Body score. It suggests that people with 1 Body are so emaciated they should be dead.

Another problem with Shadowrun is the art involving Trolls. Most depictions of Trolls tower head and shoulders over the people nearby— and that’s it. The average Troll should be three feet taller than the average Elf or Ork, half again their height. (I can well understand that this makes composition for the artists difficult, which is probably why it happens this way, but it’s important to understand just how big Trolls are...)

The weight on Orks and Trolls seems a little light. At 6’3”, I outmass the average Ork by about 5kg, and my build still qualifies as an ectomorph. Orks are probably underrated for their mass by a good deal. If you assume that Trolls match the artwork rather than the sourcebook heights and clock in somewhere in the 7’9” (2.4 m) range, the mass becomes reasonable and you don’t need quite as extensive a retooling of ceilings to fit Trolls.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

In the automotive industry, there’ll have to be specially designed vehicles that are big enough for Trolls to sit up in. (Consider that a Troll sitting down on the floor is almost as tall as a Human standing up, given that they have proportionally longer torsos than humans, and even if sitting on a cushion on the floor would still loom impressively at the dinner table.) Dwarfs are going to have the opposite problem: reaching the pedals and seeing over the steering wheel are going to be tricky. (And doing so in a Troll-sized vehicle would be really difficult.)

For Trolls, vehicles will have somewhat wider bodies (in order to accomodate Trollish passengers) and the standard Big Bucket Seat for a Troll will supports them fairly well while leaning back 30°-45° without making the vehicle much taller. Some trucks will just plain be big enough for Trolls, and will have low-to-the-floor bucket seats while humans would have seats bearing a closer resemblance to actual chairs. The need for Big Bucket Seats for Orks doesn’t make sense, unless the average weight for them is off: there are plenty of ectomorphs clocking in at 1.9m and 95kg, and they fit in regular bucket seats just fine. (Large Orks may need Big Bucket Seats.)

Public transport, however, will need to undergo massive changes in order to cope with Trolls, leading to retooling of seats, seat spacing, ceilings, and doors on airplanes, bus fleets and subway trains, or the Trolls will be stuck with serious trouble. (Fortunately, the retooling may be required by a much larger segment of the population. Average Elves and Orks clock in at 6’3”, and will fit where tall humans do, but 6’11” individuals among them should be at least as common as 6’3” humans are today, which should be sufficient to generate a change of standards. In general, vehicles in the Awakened world will be roomier for humans, which means that they’ll be packing in fewer people, which suggests that in general, transport prices should be more expensive in real terms per capita than they are today.

Trolls themselves will not necessarily be a massive economic force, due to the fact that they are a small percentage of most populations and their reduced mental attributes and shorter lifespan will make them less likely to get ahead. In addition, due to their larger size, the raw materials cost for clothing, food, and housing will be increased, as well as the extra cost for specialized oversize items. Even the natural economy conspires to keep Trolls on the underside of the population. As a result, very little is found in the Middle lifestyle regions for Trolls. Low lifestyle is common for them, and the few who make it big as bodyguards and so on may enjoy a High lifestyle, but few will end up in the middle class— and the political correctness of the late Twentieth Century died a quiet death as corporate extraterritoriality arose.

The long Trollish arms may make it possible for them to use gorilla-style knuckle-walking for locomotion in low-ceiling environments. Some will make a point of avoiding this, as denigrating to the subspecies.


Housing is another problem. Modern folks get by just fine with 8’ ceilings. Trolls are probably going to need 12’ ceilings, though they’d be able to get by with counters that were still reachable by humans because of their long arms; doorways would need to be altered as well, in height and width. (Dwarfs would get by fine with 6’ ceilings, and would need low counters.) Some apartment buildings will be built with different floors for different metatypes, often making lofts available for Trolls or building apartments with different story heights to have alternating Troll and Dwarf apartments on one side of a building while standard ones were on the other, with every other floor matching up; stairwells could be problematic, with normal stairs being shallow and narrow for Trolls carrying packages, Trollish stairs being laborious for other metatypes, and Dwarfish ones being too small for everyone else. (A popular public compromise will be steps with Trollish width and human height, looking shallow and elegant.)

Metahuman allergies will also complicate the picture. People allergic to pollutants will need to move away from them or gain access to filtered air.


Another interesting thing to consider: clothing. There are going to be sizes of clothing for everyone from short, skinny Dwarfs to big, fat Trolls, and the range around “normal” size is going to vary from those for skinny elves to fat Orks. I imagine that standard Trollish T-shirts will often be used as “sleep-T’s” that are the size of full-length nightgowns, and that Orkish children might find themselves fitting clothes for adult Dwarfs fairly well... but the sizing system has probably gone moderately crazy for men, and would probably be downright nightmarish for women (who already have to cope with a single-number sizing system that varies what number it relates to by manufacturer). “Do you have this in the Petite Orkish size 8?” “Ummm, lessee, I think that’s the same garment as the Tall Human size 13...” The nightmare of European vs. American sizes will probably continue.

Many lines of clothing will avoid using explicit metatypes, and will simply name themselves after particular fashion models, so “Princess Xena” brand clothing, named for a curvaceous Orkish model, might be sized to fit Orks and mesomorphic humans, just as “Galadriel” fashions might be in size ranges for elves and ectomorphic humans.

Fields of Fire states that Orks tend to pay 50% more and Trolls 100% more than humans for their clothing. Doing a basic comparison of surface area (which should be related to the square of the height), we find that Dwarfs should have 50% of the surface area of a human, Orks 25% more, and Trolls 170% more. Alternatively, basing it off body mass (which should be related to the 3/2 power of the surface area), Dwarfs should have 85% of the surface area, Orks 23% more, and Trolls 118% more. I’ll suggest that Dwarfs tend to pay about the same cost due to the off-size, Orks 25% more, and Trolls 100% more, even when prejudices are not operating. (Alternatively, some places will have even markups to pay for the rare Trollish clothing by jacking up the price of human clothing.)


My thanks to Slide(2), Indigo, Hell Hound, Jackie, and grendel on Shadowland for their input.