The Corporations

The monolithic "enemies" of the Shadowrun world (borrowing heavily from cyberpunk mythos) are the Corporations, dubbed "Megacorporations", "Megacorps", or simply "megas" or "corps" for short. Megacorporations in the 21st century are massively global, with all but the smallest corps owning multiple subsidiaries and divisions around the world. They are the superpowers of the Shadowrun universe, with the largest corporations having far more political, economic, and military power than even the most powerful nation-states.

In Shadowrun, corporations are effectively "ranked" by the amount of assets under their control, including material, personnel, and property, as well as profit. These ranks are A, AA, and AAA; AAA corporations are top tier. Most corporations in the AA and AAA level are immune to domestic law, responsible only to themselves, and regulated only by the Corporate Court, an assembly of the ten AAA-rated corporations.

All AAA-rated and most AA-rated corporations also exhibit a privilege known as “extraterritoriality”, meaning that any land owned by the corp is sovereign territory only to the corp and immune to any laws of the country within. Corporate territory is not foreign soil but corporate soil, just like its employees are corporate citizens, though dual citizenship in a corporation and a nation is common.

The AAA corps, and numerous minor corporations, fight each other not only in the boardroom or with tricky deals, but with physical destruction, clandestine operations, hostile extraction or elimination of vital personnel, and other means of sabotage. Because no corporation wants to be held liable for damages, it has to be done by deniable assets: shadowrunners, invisible to the system where every citizen is tagged with a System Identification Number (SIN). They are outcasts, from the streets or disillusioned ex-corp/government/military personnel who threw off the shackles of corp society to achieve freedom. They chose or were forced to work in the shadows cast by the gigantic corporate buildings to support their living. The anonymous conmen, who will hire shadowrunners are called Mr. Johnsons for their favourite alias-name. Players of Shadowrun generally assume the role of these shadowrunners.

The Big Ten

The Big Ten, the AAA Megacorporations (as of 2070):

[Leonard] Aurelius’ father founded Ares Industries, the company that grew into Ares Macrotechnology. Nicholas Aurelius engineered the NASA buyout in 2016 and made Ares a megacorporation prior to Knight’s involvement. Knight himself only appeared on the scene in 2033, when he acquired 22 percent of Ares’ stock through his infamous Nanosecond Buyout.

Former AAA Megacorporations

Shadowrunners are likely to have frequent contact with one non-AAA corporation, Lone Star Security Services. Lone Star is a corporation that has taken over majority of law enforcement services in the UCAS. Lone Star tends to avoid unprofitably dangerous areas such as the Seattle barrens (Puyallup and Redmond).