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> Code of Professional Conduct, For Shadowrunners and others
Clyde
post Aug 3 2005, 11:53 PM
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There are a lot of arguments about professionalism. But there are really only three basic guidelines to acting professionally. Everything else evolves from these basic principles.

1. Exercise independent professional judgment.
2. Consider the client's interests first.
3. Be competent.


1. Exercise independent professional judgment. Lawyers, accountants and so forth get in trouble for violating this one all the time. In fact, most of the ABA's Model Rules of Professional Conduct are intended to secure this. There are rules about sexual relations with clients, accepting gifts from clients, conflicts of interest and all sorts of other safeguards. It breaks down into two sub rules that are very important - (A) Strategic decisions are up to the client and (B) Tactical decisions are up to the professional.

For a Shadowrunner, this rule means that you do the job your way. If Mr. Johnson doesn't want anyone killed to get the job done, that's a strategic decision and you should respect it. On the other hand, if he wants you to get into the secret lab by bribing the guard at the front gate a shadowrunner is right to question this.

Shadowrunners also shouldn't work or plan while they're on drugs or BTLs - this is just common sense.

Finally, I'd say that Shadowrunners have to maintain their professional independence from the client. You can't let Mr. Johnson totally dominate the relationship. The recent argument about bringing guns to a meet seems to be partly about this - if you're unarmed (and the adept and mage who checked their firearms were still armed) you have less independence if you think the Johnson is armed. You could attend the meet or not and still be professional - it's up to whether you think you can survive and be independent without your gun. It's a lot easier to turn a possibly good job down than it is to get out of a definitely bad job.

2. Consider the client's interests first. Lawyers have a lot of rules about taking unfair advantage of their position, expertise and authority. There are rules to prevent business dealings with clients, requirements for independent representation and so forth. All this is to keep the lawyer doing his job for the client and not using his job to screw the client. An important derivative is the rule that a lawyer keep his client's secrets.

For a shadowrunners, this one is pretty sticky. If you get the chance to grab some easy loot on a run do you take it? If it doesn't screw with the job, then you're still being professional. On the other hand, if taking the loot jeopardizes the mission that's a no no. As for keeping the Johnson's secrets (and anything else learned on the job), that one should be a no brainer. It's unprofessional to blab, whether or not you can be caught or punished for doing so.

3. Be competent. This is another one where lawyers can get in big trouble. You have to know the law, make reasonable investigations of the facts and act on your client's case in a proper and timely fashion. Lots of lawyers get disciplined because they don't file a motion by the deadline and thereby sink their client's case.

For a Shadowrunner, competence means being good at your individual specialty (guns, magic, decking, etc). Professional competence also means that you don't do things that call down the police, leave obvious evidence behind, etc. When Shadowrunners don't check the site of a meet before hand, that's a failure to be competent. Likewise if they let themselves be trailed or bugged. Showing up at a meet in a way that attracts attention or agitates everyone (by dressing improperly or brandishing weapons inappropriately) is just plain incompetent. So's arriving late (without good cause) and so forth.

So that's it. That is professionalism in a nutshell. There aren't any easy answers because the answers are different for different people. Any answer is fine, as long as you are doing it because you have professionally judged the situation, it serves the client and you do it competently.
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lollerskates
post Aug 4 2005, 02:07 AM
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i disagree with #2. a runner should always put the interests of himself and those of his team before those of the client.

when you refrain from looting because it will jeopardize the job, you're not looking out for your employer's welfare. you're looking out for the welfare of your own reputation.
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Slump
post Aug 4 2005, 02:39 AM
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I can't find the stip, but in schlock mercenary, at one point they were coming up with prorities.

The first priority was to survive. The second priority was to get paid. The client was bumped all the way down to 3rd. They resolved to never put "The client comes third" in their slogan.
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Vaevictis
post Aug 4 2005, 02:49 AM
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Rule #2 really should be replaced with, "Do what you agreed to do at minimum; go beyond this if it's reasonable."

Thinking of the client in this business gets you killed; not doing what you agreed to do prevents you from getting jobs in the future.

Example: If you agree to deliver :nuyen: 10 million in credsticks for :nuyen: 10,000, don't succumb to the temptation to rip off the Johnson.
Example: If Johnson asks you to hold the forced extraction for 7 days, and then changes his mind and demands you deliver him to a specific location (or not get paid at all), feel free to take the extractee's offer of double payment. The Johnson changed the terms of the agreement without your permission -- you have no further obligation to him.

Basically, exercise proper professional ethics in your dealings.
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FrostyNSO
post Aug 4 2005, 03:03 AM
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Oh crap...another one.
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SL James
post Aug 4 2005, 03:10 AM
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QUOTE (Slump @ Aug 3 2005, 08:39 PM)
I can't find the stip, but in schlock mercenary, at one point they were coming up with prorities.

The first priority was to survive.  The second priority was to get paid.  The client was bumped all the way down to 3rd.  They resolved to never put "The client comes third" in their slogan.

And thus proving Machiavelli correct in his advice to never deal with mercs.
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Shanshu Freeman
post Aug 4 2005, 03:24 AM
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QUOTE (FrostyNSO)
Oh crap...another one.

quoted for truth
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wargear
post Aug 5 2005, 06:16 AM
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Common sense (rather uncommon as it is in any human population) states that personal survival is priority number one. You cannot get paid, and cannot complete the contract if you are dead.

Ensure that your employer is aware of any professional concerns you have. If your Code prevents you from doing wetwork, then being employed to assassinate someone is kinda stupid.

Set your price. Determine the limits of what you will do for nuyen. If there are things you morally object to, set your price beforehand. Everyone has a price, everything has a price. There will allways be temptation. "Here is a million nuyen, where is your team hiding out with the Scientist that you kidnapped?" Be real. Your character came off the street, of course they will take the money. But will they warn their team? Do they care? Biz is biz after all. Decide beforehand, and revise according to events. In party relationships have massive roleplay potential.

hmmm...I'll get back with more later...
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2005, 11:12 AM
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Priority #1: Survive. Dead men spend no :nuyen:
Priority #2: Get Paid. We (usually) ain't doin' this out of the charitable nature of our hearts.
Priority #3: Acomplish the mission. If this results in a probable breach of #1, abort, give the J back his down payment, and say it's just too hot for you.


In addition, you have roleplay factors to consider. If your character is a true 'Professional' in the coldest sense of the word, they will do everything they are told, to the letter.

Few characters are, however, that 'professional'. Or that mercenary.

IE: My Rigger (from the Help me build my Rigger thread, and the was I overreacting thread,) has things she will and will not do for money. She won't assassinate someone for money. (If she has a personal reason for doing it, she might.) She won't get involved in anything that looks like it'll bring the real heat down on her. She has a dependant, after all.

My DM hypothesized a delivery of a teenaged lesbian to the de-gaying camp as a possible mission. It should be interesting, but I can tell you now it ain't going down like Mr. J wants. She's likely to just take the girl and run with her somewhere the girl can be safe - delivering her to her mother, if that option comes up. If not, she'll probably take the girl as another dependant. She's a soft touch like that.
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Adarael
post Aug 5 2005, 11:26 AM
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On a lighter note, I had a player make a psychotic dwarf once, whose 'professional ethics' ran pretty much like this:

1) More money for less work is better. Consequently, theft is great.
2) Get it on simsense if you can. If it involves gunfights and nudity, it gets produced as 'real life docudrama'.
3) If you need to shoot a man for work, frame everyone you possibly can for the crime. If you have to shoot a man for personal reasons, shoot his family as well, if at all possible. Just to get the point across.
4) If you wanna roll in real money, open a bookie for underworld hits, shadowruns, et cetera. Bet on yourself.
5) Fuck the gwailo. (He was chinese.)

I tried to kill him. I really did. But he was like Oscar Acosta... to wierd to live, too rare to die.
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weblife
post Aug 5 2005, 12:08 PM
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Being professional is not a code on its own. Its pretty clear that there are large discrepansies in each individuals perception of professionalism.

As a term used to describe "The Way to Act for Continued Success", it is too vague.

A Johnson contacts a fixer to look up a team of runners. He has given the fixer some parameters of what kind of runner he'll need, but other than that, he might not care about their personalities. - Just whether they can do the job or not.

"Professionalism" tends to involve one or several of these parameters:
No killing thats not needed.
No excessive collateral damage.
Perform the job within specified parameters of time/place.
Be punctual and precise.
Get paid the agreed amount. Do not haggle after you have the paydata.
Do not sell the paydata to thirdparty unless J. cheats first.
Do not shoot and tell. Keep your runs secret and don't rat the J.
Do not loot the site. Unless looting rights are part of the agreed payment.

Add to the above any particular moral or ethic objections individual runners or the J. may have, and you have a very varied list.

Perhaps you could even make formalized Codes that a runner can strive to follow.

Fixer: "Yea, mr. J, I got three fellows who are just the thing. They are all on the Yellow Code, so they wont do wetwork for ya, but they are straight.

Mr. J. "*muffled something as he's on the other end of the phoneline*"

Fixer: "Oh.. Well then I'll have to call Bob. He's Black Code. He's a little freaky, but if you need that kind of fireworks, he's your man."
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nezumi
post Aug 5 2005, 01:26 PM
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QUOTE (lollerskates)
i disagree with #2. a runner should always put the interests of himself and those of his team before those of the client.

I daresay that's Rule #1 of being INTELLIGENT. Professionally (as in keeping up your rep, etc.) #2 is pretty fair, but it should bow down to rule #1 of self-preservation.
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Mugzy
post Aug 5 2005, 03:04 PM
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QUOTE (ShadowDragon8685)
Priority #1: Survive. Dead men spend no :nuyen:
Priority #2: Get Paid. We (usually) ain't doin' this out of the charitable nature of our hearts.
Priority #3: Acomplish the mission. If this results in a probable breach of #1, abort, give the J back his down payment, and say it's just too hot for you.


In addition, you have roleplay factors to consider. If your character is a true 'Professional' in the coldest sense of the word, they will do everything they are told, to the letter.

Few characters are, however, that 'professional'. Or that mercenary.

IE: My Rigger (from the Help me build my Rigger thread, and the was I overreacting thread,) has things she will and will not do for money. She won't assassinate someone for money. (If she has a personal reason for doing it, she might.) She won't get involved in anything that looks like it'll bring the real heat down on her. She has a dependant, after all.

My DM hypothesized a delivery of a teenaged lesbian to the de-gaying camp as a possible mission. It should be interesting, but I can tell you now it ain't going down like Mr. J wants. She's likely to just take the girl and run with her somewhere the girl can be safe - delivering her to her mother, if that option comes up. If not, she'll probably take the girl as another dependant. She's a soft touch like that.

In all honesty, any run you take on can result in a probable breach of #1 here. If there was little to no risk of exposure or death, they'd do it themselves, instead of paying a 3rd party. If you aren't able to stand the heat, you probably shouldn't be a runner.

Careful planning and preparation can help you reduce the chances of your dependant becoming involved, but just by virtue of what you do, their chances to die violently are probably about fifty times or more likely.

Some hardcore runners I know won't even work with someone if they know they have a dependant, because it represents too much of a breach of security.

As far as screwing the J out because you have moral problems with what he wants you to do, well, that seems like something that could get you blacklisted in the running world, being decidedly UN-professional. The character probably wouldn't take the job in the first place, but they do have to live with the fact that the J just probably found some sicko that would do it for them, no questions asked.
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2005, 03:24 PM
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That's why you screw Mr. J. And do it in a way so as to not get caught. (Or just shoot him... In this kind of case, nobody but your fixer and the other Runners will ever know. And Fixers can be bought.)

Alternatively, find someone else who will enlist your 'retrival' services, such as the girl's mother, and give a large discount.
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arcady
post Aug 5 2005, 04:26 PM
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On the one hand I'm told Shadowrun is not necessarily DnD with guns, then I see threads that post 'adventurer's codes of conduct' that look like they're taken right out of an old DnD campaign setting / module.

:D

If it was Cyberpunk with Elves, it wouldn't even -have- shadowrunners or any of this 'professionalism' stuffy-poo.

The notions here remind me of guides on 'how to manage the thief / kender in the party' or 'how to keep the mission to dungeon of overlord X' together.

You've got a code of conduct there for an adventuring party, and the only notable thing is these guys are;
  1. never [---] good, and usually not chaotic or neutral evil, though lawful evil is a common SR PC. Most of the time, these codes are the lawful neutral PC trying to keep the others in line.
  2. Get hired to enter the dungeon, and are only looking for the treasure of one of the monsters and not all of it, or only out to rescure 'princess X' and not Y or Z.
Johnson is the guy who meets you in the tavern, and rather than having aknife in his back already, the PCs must choose whether or not -they- put the knife there.

The adventure has you off to storm the tower of 'evil wizard X', and rather than keep the treasure you hand it off to 'evil wizard Y' in exchange for some less traceable treasure.

This is all very DnD with guns, not Cyberpunk with Elves. :cyber:

There is a Cyberpunk with Elves potential in Shadowrun, but it got 'shoved under the rug' when the game chose to focus on Shadowrunners themselves nearly exclusively.


Codes of 'professionalism' like this one only strengthen the notion of DnD with guns.

So, my answer to the code would be to toss it - not the way I want to handle my character, and not putting the focus where I'd ideally want it in a given game.


If I did want this focus, I'd look to an idea of professionalism modelled off 'Noir fiction' contract killers. See the movie 'Léon: The Professional' for an example.

A -rough- mockup of such a notion:
  1. Get in only as far as needed
  2. do the job, nothing more or less
  3. don't get emotional
  4. get paid anonymously through third parties
  5. never meet the client in the flesh. Ideally, you don't need to know who the client is.
  6. leave nothing behind of yourself or the client
  7. don't be obvious (don't 'look' like a hitman/thug)
  8. Léon himself adds the notions of 'no women, no kids', but in the SR world that would be a little outdated and more fitting would be just 'no kids'.
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Velocity
post Aug 5 2005, 06:27 PM
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My PCs rarely meet their Johnsons in the flesh and are never paid directly. A neutral third party (almost always a reputable fixer) holds the money in escrow until the run is complete. Upon receiving authorization from the J, the fixer pays the runners. If this arrangement is unpalatable to a Johnson, the team walks away from negotiations.
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Nikoli
post Aug 5 2005, 07:14 PM
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Actuallt No women, No Kids is an old mafia maxim, iirc. Harkening back to the days when the family business only included men and those involved were generally bussinesslike and kept things professional. however i imgaine with women able to run families now, the Maxim is more likely No kids.
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nezumi
post Aug 5 2005, 07:53 PM
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And then the otaku came about...

Now I guess it's just no puppies?
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Nikoli
post Aug 5 2005, 07:56 PM
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Hellhounds...
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Velocity
post Aug 5 2005, 08:16 PM
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The "no women no kids" rule predates the Mafia by a long shot. The idea is that most assassinations are carried about on behalf of one warring party upon another. When you live in an era where women and children are forbidden from participating in armed conflict, they are de facto non-combatants.

When living in an era (or place) where age and gender are not barriers to participation in armed conflict, then everyone's fair game (read Amnesty International's or Human Rights Watch's report on the Ugandan civil conflict, for instance). When a twelve-year-old points at an assault rifle at you--and s/he obviously knows how to use it--what're you gonna do? Run? What if there's a hundred of them and they know the terrain better than you?
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Nikoli
post Aug 5 2005, 08:48 PM
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Well, judging from ACLU's typical claptrap, I'd say they'd vote dead soldier. Those of us in the real world, would likely vote dead kids and nightmares.
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arcady
post Aug 5 2005, 08:51 PM
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What does the ACLU, which is about advocating for the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights within America, have to do with child soldiers outside of the USA?

Stay topical...
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Nikoli
post Aug 5 2005, 08:52 PM
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meant left-wing nutjobs, but for some reason my brain keeps substituting ACLU when I try and type that.
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arcady
post Aug 5 2005, 08:58 PM
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Yes I suppose the US Constitution is a left-wing nutjob...
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2005, 09:05 PM
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Why do I sense that this thread is going to get Clicky'd any second?


And soldiers have a long history of turning their predations upon non-combatants. Look at Oliver Cromwell's campaign in Ireland, for a couple good examples of war crimes on a massive scale.
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