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Intro History Organizations Runners Fixers and Suppliers
Runners are the warrior elite, the gunslingers, the ronin, the knight errants of the almost lawless society that they live in. It is a career that is often short, but which offers the promise of fame, glory, wealth, and even power for those who are successful at it.
In a setting where the vast majority of "legit" jobs involve being a salaryman (often referred to sneeringly as "the walking dead" by Runners) for some huge impersonal megacorporation, some get into Running just for the promise of freedom it offers. Others want the fame or street cred depending on what strata of missions they are qualified for. Still others are just by nature violent or adrenaline junkeys and fine Running a paid outlet. And some, such as prior military and sec-forces people, really have no other marketable job skills. Oh...and lets not forget the Runners that are in it solely for the money.
Running pays well. If you survive. Of course once you factor in the cost of equipment, additional training, maintaining a certain amount of personal security or anonymity vs reprisals, and the inevitable cost of medical care, its not as lucrative as it seems on the surface.
Still, an average runner with a few successes under their belt that know how to barter respectably can pull down more from a single job than a salaryman of parallel stature could earn in a year of work. If a Runner can keep their expenses down, they can live a comfortable existance on two ideal jobs a year. The problem is finding such cush jobs, because there are few of them and plenty of other Runners that want them.
In practice, Runners often need to do several smaller scale jobs, or else take on big, dangerous, high paying jobs as part of a team of Runners. That's where the real money is at; jobs so complex, risky, big, requiring of disparate skills, or multipronged (or some mixture thereof) that it requires a group of Runners. There is a nice premium worked into the going rate for this type of job, and the most high-profile of such are the balliwick of the very best Runners.
Occassionally teams are assembled as needed by a Fixer calling on several Runners that they have built up a certain amount of trust with over time, but the larger the team the less practical this becomes. In the dangerous and violent reality of Running big jobs familiarity with ones teammates is not only a bonus, its often all that stands between success and failure.
Thus teams of Runners that have worked and/or trained together previous to the job at hand are a valuable commodity and most Runners have some team affiliation. Some teams are exclusive, meaning individual members only do jobs within the framework of the team. Others are much looser, and some are no more than a collection of loners that can tolerate working with each other on a repetitive basis as convenience or circumstances require.
There are no certifications or degrees that one can pursue as a Runner, but there are very definitely qualifications and echelons of Runners. "Its all about the skillz" is a truism of Runner life, but rep and street cred count for a lot too. When a Fixer is considering farming out a job to one or more Runners, if they had two candidates and one claimed to have a skillset that was a perfect match to the job but was green or cherry as a Runner, and the other was kind of fuzzy on the skills but had some good runs under their belt the Fixer would probably pick the more experienced over the more skilled.
Lots of messed up stuff can happen on a run, and having the best skill set in the world wont help much if a rookie Runner mistake results in an early death.
There are interesting informal statistics held to be true by most Fixers, drawn from vast empirical and anectdotal experience, indicating that a Runner is most likely to die in their first few missions, but if they survive them then they are likely to survive for 10-15 missions, after which their life expectancy drops rapidly.
It is thought by some Fixers that the reason for the sudden drop is due to either overconfidence, security forces accumulating enough knowledge about Runners to eventually figure out a weakness, the Runners gear becoming obsolete (particularly for cybernetically enhanced Runners), or just burnout and wear on the Runners themselves, or some combination thereof.
Because of this Fixers practically never start rookies, or bullet sponges as they are sometimes called, on missions that are obviously going to be rough. If the job fails the Fixer doesnt get paid after all; and also it hurts their credibility with the clientele. Courier, body guard, and distraction missions are much more likely starting jobs. And even then things often go bad. Due to the high mortality rate among new Runners and the unwillingness of Fixers to farm out missions to those who seem incompetant, there is a entry bar to the career.
However after a Runner has a few good jobs under their belt, they can expect to start getting more job offers from Fixers, and more respect from fellow Runners. In some cases a Runners rep outpaces reality, but as long as they are careful to not believe it themselves and take jobs they can actually pull off it might not matter in the long run.
Any shmuck can pick up a gun and claim to be a Runner, but theres more to the profession than toting hardware. In addition to the basic requirements of competency, which mortality rates sort out, there are also some unwritten rules that apply to the trade. More of an informal code than acutal rules really, but nevertheless those who violate them will likely encounter difficulties when dealing with other Runners, Fixers, and Suppliers.
The rules are simple:
  • Mind your own business
  • Cover your team's ass
  • Fufill the contract
  • Limit Collateral Damage
  • Keep your mouth shut
  • Don't get caught