The purpose of this short story is to introduce players new to Shadowrun the core runner archetypes, set mood and expose a little bit of the lore. More of the lore is explored in History Lessons. Properly formatted it’s a one-page PDF. Once I figure out how I want to host the file I’ll place a link to it here, too. If you like what you read, feel free to use this for your own games, but I kindly ask for credit.
An Interview for a School Paper: About Runners
Wha’d’ya mean you want to know what Shadowrunners are? You livin’ under a dumpster, Chummer?
No, no, I getcha. You want a runner’s perspective on running. Cut through the drek they spew out on over-hyped trids and get the real deal. Well, you keep payin’, I’ll keep singin’ in your ear.
First, you gotta know the common types of runners. There are your cybered-up Street Samurai, as likely to gut you with his cyber-spurs as shoot you through the head, or the magically souped-up Physical Adept able to hit a tin can with a pistol shot from a mile away or slice you in two in a blink of an eye. Whatever they use and however they use it, they specialize in ending lives quickly and spectacularly.
Spellcasters, whether mages using formulas and the “science of magic” or shamans calling on totems, can summon spirits, burn you to death or heal you from the brink. With very good reason both lead rise to the motto “geek the mage first”. By the way, ‘ware interferes with the Awakened, as we’re called, so Phys-Ads like me and magicians tend to avoid getting any.
Now, since just about everything is online, you need a Decker; they’ll hack their way into anything with that deck of theirs, open security doors, turn the turrets on your enemies, steal some juicy info, or just plain make life miserable for the other guys. It’s pretty funny watching the Street Sam fall over when his cyberleg suddenly bricks. Technomancers, just fraggin’ stay away from them. Creepy how they do everything a Decker can but with only their mind. Using what they call “Resonance” they bend the Matrix to their will and make it do things it shouldn’t. They also create things called Sprites to do the same stuff. Be thankful they’re rarer than rare. Riggers are kinda like Deckers, but they focus just on cars, drones and turrets. There’s nothin’ quite like having one at your back with his little army for support.
Finally comes the Face. Not really like any of the above, the Face can sweet-talk their way into and out of anything. With one around the bullets just might wait to start flying. Every team needs a Face, if only to negotiate a raise.
Of course, sometimes your Decker is your Face, or the Phys-Ad throws fireballs.
Anyway, any of the metatypes can be anything they wanna be. While trolls, with our 8-foot frames and horns, make great Street Sams, you might see one of us throwing a fireball next to an elf Decker. More humans than anything else, but orks are second and gaining. Dwarfs, elves and trolls are rarer, but I heard of an all troll group operatin’ outta SoCal. Freedom to choose what you wanna do; that’s why we live in the shadows, omae.
Whatever the team is, they still gotta do a run or they ain’t shit. First, Mr. Johnson hires you, either directly or through a Fixer contact. Trids get that right, barely. Then you spend a lot of time doing legwork. Going in guns blazing may look cool on screen, but it’s a sign of rookies and a ticket to a quick death. Research: only when your team is ready do you start the run. It could be a datasteal; distraction; property damage; wetwork, if that’s what you’re in to; or an extraction, that is “recruiting” high-powered talent out of one Megacorp and into another; Whatever it is, do well and more work follows. Do poorly, and nice knowing you.
Speaking of Corps, us shadowrunners have to deal with them on occasion, whether we want to or not. They’ll usually hire us to hit one of the others. While most corps are small time, I tend to avoid the AAA-rated ones. Pay is good, but I’m getting older.
What? Work for Saeder-Krupp? That’s twice stupid; the biggest AAA and run by the Great Dragon Lofwyr. Second runner motto: never deal with a dragon.
Where was I? Oh, living in the shadows means being on the wrong side of the law. Megacorps have the money, but never share anything, and governments are strapped for cash but share info from city to city. Lone Star and Knight Errant are the top two security firms in Seattle. They don’t play nice, so you can screw with one and sit tight in the other’s contracted zones. And hope they don’t lose that contract. I kinda had a hand in that happening once; not saying Lone Star paid for it, but I’m sure they were happy with the results.
Sometimes you work for organized crime: Mafia, Yakuza, Triad, Vory v Zakone, whatever. Not too keen on some of the things they got their hands in, but their nuyen’s as good as anyone’s. Then there’s the gangs, like the all elf go gang the Ancients. Don’t mess with them. Policlubs exist to push their agendas just like everyone else. From the human supremacists Humanis Policlub and their opposites in Mothers of Metahumans to the creepy Ghoul Liberation League and the Magical Reform Society, there’s something for everybody. Hell, I’ve even worked for the University of Washington: first and only time I went to Africa.
Well, I think that’s about it. Thanks for the dough. Heads up, though, a dainty, well-dressed elf like you in a dirty hole like this might want to run fast when you hit those doors. Nice knowin’ ya.