The corporations have supplanted any form of government. Any government exists in name only, half-forgotten by the average man. The police force is corp-run. The schools are corp-run. The hospitals are corp-run. Life is corp-run. It matters far much who you work for then what nation you were born in.
The affluent lives in well-guarded enclaves under the direct control of the corps. To all appearances, these enclaves are a utopia. The days are always bright, the city always clean, the serving staff always helpful and happy, traffic is non-existent, the parks are numerous and well-manicured, and everyone always feels safe even though they never see a single police officer. In truth, these enclaves are Potemkin Villages. Underneath the utopia is a massive network of corporate control. Hidden cameras in every room in every house, undercover cops on every street corner, an army equipped with the finest weapons money can buy. Dissenters are silenced and incompetents are quietly removed. The corp-enclave is a well-run machine whose sole purpose is to increase the profits of it’s mother corporation. The enclaves are the priests of the Corporate Religion – handing down edicts from on-high to the huddling masses.
Of course, that’s when everything goes right and not all the corp enclaves have gone right.
A number of enclaves have rebelled against their corporate masters, some have been subjected to a hostile takeover, and some are just closed down to make way for newer and better enclaves.
Outside of the enclaves are the middle-class laborer. They swarm over the enclave, desperately looking for jobs and money. And the corps are happy to provide. Most of these places are like the cities of old: dirty, noisy, and bustling. There is always a seedy underbelly to these sorts of places, but they’re usually not allowed to fester for too long. Corporate tactical teams have a habit of going through the underground ever so often and ripping it to shreds.
And then you have the poor. The down-and-outs. Sometimes they form shanty-towns and ramshackle buildings just outside of the middle-class cities. Sometimes they just seemingly spring up in the middle of nowhere. But it’s the same all over. Desperate people doing anything to just keep surviving for one more day. Here is where one finds the birthplace of Shadowrunners. The average Shadowrunner is somebody who scraped together enough money to buy an antique SMG and some basic combat armor and happens to know the right people. The average Shadowrunner has a life expectancy of about 2 missions. Elite Shadowrunners have cutting-edge tech, the highest grade genetic enhancements and cyberware, and enough magic to blow up a skyscraper, but here is where most of them start.
Corps view Shadowrunners as expendable, untraceable assets. Some corp big-wig wants to screw with his competitors so he tells someone who tells someone who tells someone who gets in contact with a guy who’s friends with a fixer. The fixer gets a bunch of Shadowrunners and then points them in the right direction. Low-grade Shadowrunners are little more than shock troops to the corps – they aren’t expected to survive but at least they’ll do enough damage to achieve results. As Shadowrunners get more experienced, they get sent on more missions that require a bit more finesse and skill. Elite Shadowrunners are prized by the corps, but at the end of the day they are just as expendable as any other Shadowrunner.
The only good part about being a Shadowrunner is that the jobs usually pay very well. Most of the time, you won’t come back alive, but that’s why the corps are willing to pay so much. No corp will risk alienating it’s Shadowrunner contacts by not paying up when the job is finished, but that doesn’t mean that the corp isn’t above sending a team on a job the corp doesn’t expect them to finish. Often, a corp will hire a team to do a job they know the team won’t be able to do but, in trying to do that job, the team will accomplish the actual goal of the corp. Corps are like that.
Day in a Shadowrunner’s Life
- Wake up. Probably hung over, having spent the night celebrating a mission where he came back in most of one piece.
- Quickly check footage from his installed security cam, making sure nobody was around his apartment too much last night.
- Get some insta-make food from the cupboard (shooing away a rat) and plop it into the microwave. Nuke and eat breakfast.
- While cleaning gear, get a call from fixer to meet a Mr. Johnson at a seedy bar in 2 hours.
- Drive over to said bar. Pass the bouncer some creds so that he doesn’t check you for weapons.
- Meet with Mr. Johnson in a back room set up for such things (though, of course, the owner would deny it)
- Mr. Johnson explains that it’s a smash-and-grab at a tech supplier in the city. The pay for the job is non-negotiable.
- Accept job and get rest of crew together.
- Spend rest of the day casually driving by tech supplier, casing the joint.
- Late at night, break in, 10 year-old assault rifle at the ready.
- Find out that it’s actually an organized crime hideout – and the crew just interrupted a big time meeting.
- Shoot and run frantically.
- Die bleeding in the streets. (Later on, a corp tactical team will mop up the rest)
Not nearly enough is done with go-gangers and gangs in general. When you have stuff to use like the Akira motorcycle gang or the gangs from The Warriors, how can you not use them?
Common Characteristics of a Shadowrunner
- Very little cash (assets are all tied up in weapons, armor, hacking, cybertech, etc)
- Criminal record before becoming a ‘runner
- No living parents or at least estranged from family
- Lives alone (unwilling to trust others)
- Grew up poor
- Very little or no friends (see above: lives alone)