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> Shadow Census, A Population Breakdown, recently updated
Mercer
post Dec 26 2007, 08:59 AM
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I made up a table years ago that was my attempt to deal with the "buyer's market" side of Shadowrun. I imagine this has been covered in a sourcebook somewhere, but its not one I own. I figured on roughly 1 runner for every 10,000 people in the population as a general guide, with "hot" cities (Seattle, Denver, Hong Kong, or Bogota by way of example) having as many as twice that. This was mainly to get the figure of 500 for Seattle, which would make my percentages easier in the next stage. If 500 is too high for your taste, you can make the number whatever you want. I basically used a Runner Population of 250 with a wannabe population of the same. Runners don’t consider the Inferior guys real runners, but people have to start somewhere. The percentages would break down similarly for most major cities, regardless of the pop. (There's probably even more wannabes than that, but all the excess does is keep the number relatively static as they get wiped out.)

With a Total Runner Population of 500, it breaks down like this:

Samurai, 40% (200)
Riggers, 20% (100)
Hackers, 20% (100)
Adepts, 15% (75)
Magic Users, 5% (25)


From there, it went by a general Rating:

Inferior, 50%
Average, 30%
Competent, 15%
Superior, 4%
Ultimate, 1%


So as a guideline, starting at 500:

Street Samurai (200 Total). Inferior: 100, Average: 60, Competent: 30, Superior: 8, Ultimate: 2.
Magic Users (25 Total). Inferior: 12, Average: 8, Competent: 3, Superior: 1, Ultimate: 1 (or less).
Adepts (75 Total): Inferior: 38, Average: 22, competent: 11, Superior: 3, Ultimate: 1 (or less).
Riggers (100 Total). Inferior: 50, Average: 30, Competent: 15, Superior: 4, Ultimate: 1.
Hackers (100 Total). Inferior: 50, Average: 30, Competent: 15, Superior: 4, Ultimate: 1.


As far as ranking goes, Dice Pools in their areas of expertise are a better indicator than BP of overall character power (as I can make thoroughly incompetent runners with any amount of BP) but I'll include both to give a general idea:

Inferior: Stats, skills and spells around 2, Dice Pools of around 4-5. Sams will have maybe a point of Cyberware, Magicians will have only a point or two of magic. They might have a 4 in something, but will most likely be defaulting rather than have the applicable skill. Gear will rarely have above and Avail of 6. (Characters, non-player or otherwise, generated at this level would usually be 200BP.)
Average: Stats, skills, spells of around 3, Dice Pools maxed around 8. Sams might have Wired One, but won't have more than 3 points of Essence filled, Magic stats will cap out around 3. Gear will rarely be higher than Avail 8, though they may have one signature piece that's better. (Characters generated at this level would usually be 300 BP.)
Competent: Stats and etc of around 4, Dice Pools around 10-12. Most gear under Avail 12. (Npcs of this level will either be generated with 400 BP, or be archetypes.)
Superior: Average stats and etc of 5, higher in their field of expertise, Dice Pools in the 15+ range. (These guys are good. 500 BP as a rough guide, with high karma pcs in here as well.)
Ultimate: Prime runners. The only real restrictions on character generation are story restrictions (I'm probably not going to make a guy who is great at everything, simply because Mary Sue's annoy me). These guys are the Michael Jordans of the shadows, the Wayne Gretzkys of runners.

Now, thats how I arrived at how many of who are in the talent pool in Seattle. How you hire them is handled like buying any other piece of (perhaps disposable) gear, as per the table below:

Rating-------Avail--------Cost
Inferior----------3------------1000¥
Average---------6------------5000¥
Competent-----8------------10,000¥
Superior--------12-----------50,000¥
Ultimate--------20+---------100,000¥

And there is a mark-up to represent Sams (who there are more of) are easier to get than Mages, as per:

Samurai: -1 Avail, x1.0 cost
Rigger: x1.0 cost
Hacker: x1.25 cost
Adepts: +3 Avail, x1.5 cost
Magic Users: +5 Avail, x1.75 cost

It looks a little less complicated to me on my scrap of notebook paper since its easier to do a table on paper than in a forum post (at least for me). These aren’t hard numbers, and the pay can scale with job difficulty, but it makes for a handy guideline.

Now, these numbers are to represent the number of freelance runners in Seattle at any given time, and used as a rough guideline mainly for people who are trying to put together teams on relatively short notice (be they pc's or npc's). These numbers don't cover the corporate black ops teams (who are like runners, but aren't freelancing), or the criminal population. Gangers, other than the select few talented enough to freelance, aren't on the list. These were just numbers I tried to keep in mind as a GM to answer such questions as, "Who can we get here in an hour?", and to provide a rough guideline for SR pay scales (based mostly off lifestyle). If an npc with no prior runner contacts went through a fixer to get someone to hit the pcs, who could he get, how long would he take, and how much would he have to spend. That sort of thing.

This is still based pretty heavily on my SR3 table, with SR4 updates. Seeing’s how Hackers are so much more a part of the system in this edition (at least in the games I play in, as opposed to the SR3 games I played and ran in) I might bump the numbers around—switch out Sams for Hackers. Also, its just a guideline as to general role in an group. Hackers rig and Riggers hack and Samurai can do either, but it’s based around what they’re best known for.

Another thing I always wanted to include was more census figures in my tables. If you look at the economy of illicit specialists, I'm sure it’s always fluctuating as people get killed, step off the bus, or come off the DL. A fixer, or just a dedicated data broker, would probably be keeping track of these numbers, to the extent it was possible. If nothing else, people would have a general sense of how healthy the population was. (Is competition for jobs fierce, are cultural subsets taking over certain rackets, that sort of thing.) But I don't how useful a mechanic would be in this instance, since it seems like something the GM could just handle by fiat.

But, then you could have little fluff details like if things start heating up in the Philippines, you could have a disproportionate number of Filipino runners as the refugees start surreptitiously making their way in. Mainly, it would be a cool way to say:
QUOTE
Grocer: That's what I'm looking at.  Consolidated bargaining.  After the Eastern Europe thing...
Martin Blank: The Berlin Wall thing...
Grocer: The market's flooded.

Paraphrased, but that would be the sort of thing I would be going for.
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knasser
post Dec 26 2007, 12:48 PM
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This is good. The numbers are based on nothing but the waving of hands, but I think having numbers is a useful thing in and of itself. It adds a bit of background realism in knowing that it's hard to find someone at X level of skill or that the PC hacker is now one of the best available in Seattle.

Of course there are spin off issues, such as whether a hacker can be considered to be limited to a geographical range, or what exactly constitutes a Shadowrunner.

I'll have to go away and mull over the numbers. I like the proportions you have of runner types - e.g. Magician to Samurai to Rigger, etc. I would not alter them. However, given the recurrent actions of my last bunch of players, I have to wonder whether the city of Seattle would survive the collateral damage of one hundred Shadowrunning teams active a couple of times a month. ;)

But as I say, having some numbers out there is good in and of itself, and if people want to pick apart the shadow economy, it's easier to do that with a starting point.

The area that I would pick apart is in your definitions of inferior, average, etc. There's big room for debate there which I don't have time for at the moment.

But good work, I'd say.

-K.
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Roadspike
post Dec 26 2007, 05:04 PM
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I definitely like the general flow of the numbers and proportions, but I think that even more Magicians are necessary (not a ton more, but with some (relatively big) Runner teams having 2-3 Magic Users, it seems a bit odd to have 8-12% of the Shadow Magicians in Seattle on your team), and I think I'd up the Inferior and Average 'Runners a bit (because I'd only count those who survive at least a couple of 'Runs as 'Runners, so I don't want to include those who are so incompetant that they get offed in their first 'Run).

My suggestions on quantifying the above comments:

Magicians: 8%, Adepts 15%, Hackers 20%, Riggers 20%, Cyber-Goons 37%. I know that makes the percentages ugly, and I assure you that I hate that as much as you do, but I also think it makes for slightly more "realistic"

That makes for 40 magicians, the same 75 Adepts, 100 Hackers, and 100 Riggers, and 185 Cyber-Goons.

Oh, and your breakdown of Adepts would be: 75 Total, Inferior: 38, Average: 22, competant: 11, Superior: 3, Ultimate: 1 (or less).

As I mentioned above, I think your "Inferior" and "Average" are too low-powered--in my mind, what you list as "Inferior" would just be Gangers that folks would hire to cause distractions and the like. In my world, at least, I think that I would go with the following:

Inferior: Dice Pools of 6-7 in their primary areas, with Cyber-Goons having "cheap" Cyberware like Dermal Plating, Cyberweapons, Muscle Replacements, and Boosted Reflexes. So they might be down a lot of Essence, but none of it is better than Standard-ware, and there's no Bioware. Magic Users have Magic Ratings of 2-3. Riggers at this level are probably just wheel-men, or have really, really cheap drones. Probably around 250-300 Points in my view.

Average: Dice Pools of 8-9 in their primary fields. Cyber-Goons might have some alpha-ware, but probably not, and might have a point of Bioware, but probably not. Magic Users probably have Magic in the 3-4 range. Riggers might have some nicer drones, and even some with heavy artillery. Probably around 300-350 Points.

Competant: Dice Pools of 10-12, as Mercer noted. These are starting characters. They're good at what they do. 400 Points.

Superior: Dice Pools of 15+, again as Mercer noted. These are the munchkin starting characters or the intelligently-designed high-Karma 'Runners.

Ultimate: The only stat/skill these guys need is Edge, which is set at n+1, where n=The Number of Dice Rolls Necessary. Yes they can be defeated if need be, but that'll be through either insane luck or extremely in-depth and competant planning; not through straight-up dice-fights. This is Fastjack or Hatchetman (before he went off the market). You hear the name of one of these guys--you'll recognize it (if you're a 'Runner yourself).
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kzt
post Dec 26 2007, 05:21 PM
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Every runner team I've played with or Gm for has had at least 50% awakened. Every team of 3-5 had 1-2 mages and 0-2 adepts. So 5% mages seems kind of low...
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knasser
post Dec 26 2007, 05:56 PM
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QUOTE (kzt)
Every runner team I've played with or Gm for has had at least 50% awakened. Every team of 3-5 had 1-2 mages and 0-2 adepts. So 5% mages seems kind of low...


Well every team I've ever GM'd for has had multiple attributes at 5 or above, so the human average of 2 seems a bit low for me.

Okay, my point being that the PCs are PCs because they're special. They're atypical. Unless there is some particular reason for mages to gravitate toward being Shadowrunners relative to say, Samurai, I think the proportions are good. And to be honest, if anything there is less of a reason for mages to become runners than Samurai as due to their rarity and the fact you can't "manufacture" them the way you can samurai, corps will be far more willing to overlook past misdemeanors, psychological hiccups or dodgy backgrounds for mages than they will other types.
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Mercer
post Dec 26 2007, 06:31 PM
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Yeah, the 25% for magicians was more of a nod to the in-game percentages as they're presented. Roughly 10% of the population is Awakened, but a disproportionately high number of these go into shadow work (as opposed to cover the dayshift at CVS). If it was based on PC's, it would probably be 50% Awakened at minimum. Mages might not be rare in PC groups, but they're supposed to be rare otherwise, it would be difficult for someone to go out and hire 10 Combat Mages for a run.
QUOTE
Oh, and your breakdown of Adepts would be: 75 Total, Inferior: 38, Average: 22, competent: 11, Superior: 3, Ultimate: 1 (or less).

Thanks. I had taken them out because I was thinking of breaking it down between Phys Ads and other types of adepts (I tend to lump Phys Ads in with sammies if they fill the same role) and I forgot to add them back in. As a rule of thumb, I'd probably consider 10% of the Sammie market to be Phys Ads, and the other adepts to be casters, mystic adepts, or Phys Ads who specialize magical areas (Astral Perception, spirit killing and the like). If its a guy with 18 dice backing his Katana, I tend to think of him as a Sammie whether his powers come from the Kurosawa metaplane, the Ares Spring Catalogue or DOW Pharmaceuticals.

From that perspective, you can get a total magical population of around 100, with 75% of that being Adept magicians.
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Spike
post Dec 26 2007, 06:35 PM
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I think the adepts and mages percentages are backwards. I have some foggy rational for that and it is not meant to reflect what players actually BRING to the table in any way, just what's available.

I'm not going to try and detail my thinking right now. Just that it always struck me that adepts were always more exceptional as PCs and NPC opponents than mages. Every shadowrunning team and streetgang has access to the Wiz, but when you think 'muscle' you look to the guy with the chrome, or the troll, or the troll with chrome. Adepts aren't thought of, not because they are inferior (as optimization geekspeak here can attest) but because Runners don't see them enough to register as anything but exceptional.
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Karaden
post Dec 26 2007, 06:35 PM
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QUOTE (knasser)
QUOTE (kzt @ Dec 26 2007, 05:21 PM)
Every runner team I've played with or Gm for has had at least 50% awakened.  Every team of 3-5 had 1-2 mages and 0-2 adepts.  So 5% mages seems kind of low...


Well every team I've ever GM'd for has had multiple attributes at 5 or above, so the human average of 2 seems a bit low for me.

Okay, my point being that the PCs are PCs because they're special. They're atypical. Unless there is some particular reason for mages to gravitate toward being Shadowrunners relative to say, Samurai, I think the proportions are good. And to be honest, if anything there is less of a reason for mages to become runners than Samurai as due to their rarity and the fact you can't "manufacture" them the way you can samurai, corps will be far more willing to overlook past misdemeanors, psychological hiccups or dodgy backgrounds for mages than they will other types.

Human average is 3 last I checked.

Anyway, I have to admit that you are quite right about mages. It is the same way in all game systems. Mages are supposed to be 'rare' or 'uncommon' at least, but every single group of 4 adventurers contains at least 1, 6 may have 2, and 8 may have 2-3.

This seems to indicate that about 25% of people are mages. The really funny part, is that I believe I recall the fluff mentioning something about only 1% or less of people are awakened (Meaning both mages -and- adepts). And as you mentioned, companies are more then willing to overlook past deeds because you are so rare, so why the heck are you risking your life on runs when you can easily get a really cushy job at a corp.

So, why exactly is it that there are supposed to be so few mages, but every group of runners seems to be able to get their hands on at least one? I have no idea, mages don't get special treatment in shadowrun groups like they would in corps, so I am at a loss as to why so many, more then should even exist, seem drawn to it.
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Fortune
post Dec 26 2007, 06:38 PM
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I don't think I'd seperate the categories as much as this. I'd just go with Tech guys (including Riggers and Hackers), Magicians (including all spellslingers and summoners), and Muscle (including all Adepts and Samurai).
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Mercer
post Dec 26 2007, 06:43 PM
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QUOTE (Fortune)
I don't think I'd seperate the categories as much as this. I'd just go with Tech guys (including Riggers and Hackers), Magicians (including all spellslingers and summoners), and Muscle (including all Adepts and Samurai).

That's not a bad idea. Its simpler and there seems to be more cross-pollenization of character roles in SR4.
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kzt
post Dec 26 2007, 06:52 PM
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QUOTE (Karaden)
So, why exactly is it that there are supposed to be so few mages, but every group of runners seems to be able to get their hands on at least one? I have no idea, mages don't get special treatment in shadowrun groups like they would in corps, so I am at a loss as to why so many, more then should even exist, seem drawn to it.

Because a player gets only one character. Mages get a huge pile of spiffy crap only they can do (the only way to get significant magical defense is to be a mage, and astral projection is really useful), and being a semi-decent mage just isn't that expensive. It's easy to have enough points left over to do cool stuff and still have a decent mage.

So unless you have a concept that can't be done as a mage, (like chromeboy) it's logical to do a mage/Something instead of just Something. You have a smaller dice pool to do Something, but have countermagic, be able to make wards, astrally project, summon watchers, and blow up skyscrapers with powerball. None of which the marginally better pure hacker can ever do.
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Mercer
post Dec 26 2007, 07:02 PM
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QUOTE (Roadspike)
Ultimate: The only stat/skill these guys need is Edge, which is set at n+1, where n=The Number of Dice Rolls Necessary. Yes they can be defeated if need be, but that'll be through either insane luck or extremely in-depth and competant planning; not through straight-up dice-fights. This is Fastjack or Hatchetman (before he went off the market). You hear the name of one of these guys--you'll recognize it (if you're a 'Runner yourself).

I actually consider my "Ultimates" to be just below that level, but I didn't want to call them "Penultimates". Fastjack and Hatchetman I'd put at Legendary status, meaning they're not on the list, they're totally a story consideration.
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Fortune
post Dec 26 2007, 07:09 PM
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QUOTE (Mercer)
Fastjack and Hatchetman I'd put at Legendary status ...

That list will grow quite big in and of itself, what with Argent, Sally Tsung, Dodger, etc., etc. ....
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Mercer
post Dec 26 2007, 07:20 PM
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Cap'n Jack Sparrow. The people on the Legendary list might not even be real, or they might just have a really good publicist, but either way they're separate from the people that actually have to work for a living.

I linked the status to skill level, because that seemed to be the most obvious way, but I think there's a perception issue as well. There are going to be some runners who are perceived to be of a certain status, even if their dice pools aren't in line. Maybe they're lucky, or smart, or new. Trying to get runners of say Superior status doesn't guarantee anyone of a 15 dice pool, but rather a runner that people think is "that good".

As for average stats, in previous editions I was fine with 3, in SR4 I'm fine with 2. Since its supposed to combine with a skill it can be a little lower, and I kind of like the idea that "on average, people are below average". Its sort of the opposite of the Wobegone Effect (or if you look at it that way, people tend to be 2's, but tend to think think they're 4's).
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knasser
post Dec 26 2007, 07:38 PM
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EDIT: Mercer - it's very impolite to summarise what I'm about to post before I've actually done so. Some of us like to put our points in a long and meandering way, you know. ;)

QUOTE (Mercer @ Dec 26 2007, 07:02 PM)
QUOTE (Roadspike)
Ultimate: The only stat/skill these guys need is Edge, which is set at n+1, where n=The Number of Dice Rolls Necessary. Yes they can be defeated if need be, but that'll be through either insane luck or extremely in-depth and competant planning; not through straight-up dice-fights. This is Fastjack or Hatchetman (before he went off the market). You hear the name of one of these guys--you'll recognize it (if you're a 'Runner yourself).

I actually consider my "Ultimates" to be just below that level, but I didn't want to call them "Penultimates". Fastjack and Hatchetman I'd put at Legendary status, meaning they're not on the list, they're totally a story consideration.


This brings us back to the question I raised about what actually constitutes a Shadowrunner. I find that once you go past a certain level of ability with characters, I can't really sustain a campaign with Mission of the Day stuff. I need to work in broader themes of politics, or deep insect spirit conspiracy or something similarly significant moving and shaking. You have to ask yourself why Fastjack would still be doing Just for the Money jobs (especially as he's really Damian Knight)? Whilst Mercer's numbers represent the Shadowrunner population, I consider there to be a larger world surrounding them consisting of their corporate equivalents, government operatives, non-money orientated types like Fastjack and Danial Howling Coyote and all the rest. It's going to break down if you start bringing in all these not-really shadowrunners.

On a separate issue, and not to derail the thread, I regard 2 to be the human "average" because it simply makes more sense and I can make a good argument that it should be so. Most people are below midpoint on the scale of human ability. It's pretty clear that half of the population of the world is not half as strong as the world's strongest man, for example. We need to allow greater room at the top of the scale than we do at the bottom because so few people come close to fulfilling their potential. I have also found that explicitly stating 2 to be the human average has a positive effect on the game as players are more willing to accept a 3 in an attribute, e.g. knowing that they are "slightly smarter than average" or look "reasonably toned." Everything is subtly recalibrated and I find myself banging my head against the attribute ceiling less often when creating NPCs and grunts. Average has three more precise terms in mathematics - mean (add everything together and divide by the number of things), the median (the middle value on the scale, which for this will be the midpoint of the scale) and the mode (the most common value). I choose to interpret average of 3 in this case to mean the median value - i.e. it's in the middle (although technically that would be 3.5 which would be even worse) and say that the mode - what most people score - is 2. We had a long thread on it a while ago and most of us came to the conclusion that 2 was a more logical value and had a more positive effect on the game.
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Mercer
post Dec 26 2007, 07:45 PM
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The Wobegone Effect actually makes a fair amount of sense in game terms. The famous example is the study where 80% of people rated themselves as "Above Average" drivers. In a game, if a rating 4 skill is "above average", and 80% of the population has a rating 4 skill in something then they'd all be mechanically above average.
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Fortune
post Dec 26 2007, 07:48 PM
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QUOTE (knasser)
You have to ask yourself why Fastjack would still be doing Just for the Money jobs (especially as he's really Damian Knight)?

If you say so! :D
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knasser
post Dec 26 2007, 07:52 PM
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QUOTE (Fortune)
QUOTE (knasser @ Dec 27 2007, 05:38 AM)
You have to ask yourself why Fastjack would still be doing Just for the Money jobs (especially as he's really Damian Knight)?

If you say so! :D

Well, it's what I heard...
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Cardul
post Dec 27 2007, 09:34 AM
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An impression I got from the more recent books:

There are alot of runners in Seattle. I think it was Aftershocks that had one mage get together a group of like 10 Prime Runners to help defend one place that the Corps decided they wanted. Then there are Runners like G. Dog and Lothan, who have "day jobs" but also do higher end runs. This always gets me thinking of those old Martial Arts movies where even the street sweeper is a master of two or three styles of lethal martial arts, and kind of leaves the impression that much of the Seattle Population do runs to some extent or another. Also, let us not forget Hood, who is a CEO, but goes on Runs to keep in contact at the street level and find out what his underlings are doing. Basicly, I do not think you can put Seattle or any other Hot Spot into neat numbers.
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Mercer
post Dec 27 2007, 06:23 PM
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That reminds me of Sin City (the movie, not the fake ID superstore). I think its on the higher end of the high/low Fantasy, high/low Chrome division. Ten Prime Runners in one city would be like the Avengers to me. If that works for the game then that's fine, but I tend to run games that are more Black than Chrome, more low fantasy than high. (I mean, as much as these divisions mean anything.) So that's what my numbers are based on. These numbers are probably the High End of Low Chrome.

But the specific number of runners you use is really a preference thing. In some of the early supplements, it was implied the number of shadow people was much higher, with bars and restaurants that catered almost exclusively to runners. Even if the majority of them were wannabes, you'd still be talking about thousands of runners in Seattle alone. I don't think any particular number is the "right" one for SR, as long as the GM is consistent. (Consistency is a bigger boon to verisimilitude than almost anything; a game can be over-the-top as long as its consistently over-the-top.)
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Konsaki
post Dec 27 2007, 06:50 PM
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You have to figure that alot of these 'shadowrunner' bars and clubs will have normal people as patrons due to either not knowing any better, wanting the thrill of maybe being near a real shadowrunner or wanting to pose as one to impress a girl/guy.
I highly doubt they run on shadowrunners alone.
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Adarael
post Dec 27 2007, 07:14 PM
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QUOTE
Ten Prime Runners in one city would be like the Avengers to me.


Well, what if 5 of these Prime Runners are all part of the same team, and that's how they got to be Prime runners? Say there's two totally top-notch teams in one city, like, say, Hong Kong. Does that strain credulity?

Of course, if they really are Prime Runners, business will often be taking them OUT of their homes, but they can still call it their home base, neh?
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Whipstitch
post Dec 27 2007, 07:21 PM
Post #23


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/derail

I've always felt Jet setting should be a more commonly used GM tool when runner teams start to get too big for their britches. "Optimized" Seattleites are suddenly a lot less scary when things go wrong on job in Amazonia and only one of them has the Survival skill and the Mage didn't realize he'd be practically blinded by all the flora and fauna lighting the Astral up like a christmas tree.
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Adarael
post Dec 27 2007, 07:31 PM
Post #24


Deus Absconditus
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You know, that is so incredibly true.
Been there, done that, been laughed at for it.
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Riley37
post Dec 27 2007, 11:00 PM
Post #25


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Side question: what percentage of the Seattle population, are characters played by Kyoto Kid?
If he has a strong opinion about who the next mayor should be, and his PCs vote accordingly, can he swing the election?

More seriously, a GM might well come up with thumbnail sketches of, say, the top 20 NPCs in the campaign area, and drop hints over time until the PCs recognize the names even of the ones they haven't crossed paths with. Then, when one of those NPCs gets executed by Aztech or MCT when a run fails, it'll mean more; while if those NPCs get hired by Saeder-Krupp to steal the McGuffin, and the PCs get hired by Ares to steal the McGuffin, the PCs will know that their success is likely to result in Saeder-Krupp becoming upset with the unsuccessful NPCs. Which could have side effects if the PC buys foci and binding materials from their Loyalty 2 talismonger contact, but the NPC also has that talismonger as a Loyalty 5 contact. (One outcome: duplicate the McGuffin, trade it to Saeder-Krupp for the release of the talismonger's boyfriend, talismonger expresses gratitude with free foci.)
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