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how much help does the Johnson give the runners in your games? How much information do they receive from him?
In my games, they get very vague information so they have to consult their connections for detailed information. Also, if the Johnson is a corporate type, they can rent support-type characters like riggers for 500 a day (they get around 20.000 per run).

In a recent run, the runners had to follow an NPC group of runners who disappeared in a helicopter. So they called their Johnson and asked his corporation to get some satellite images to track the helicopter. I told them the executives were debating on that for some time so the players had to come up with something else. What would you have done in the GM's place?

I've always played it (from both sides of the table) that the morea Johnson knows/offers the runners, the more likely its a setup.
depends on the run.

If it's something illegal, then the Johnson doesn't want anything traced back to him, that's why he hired runners. If the Johnson can help without endangering any need for secrecy he might have, why wouldn't he? It's in his best interest to protect his investment.

John Campbell
Depends on the Johnson and the mission. Some are trustworthy and forthcoming and will tell anything they know that's likely to be useful to the PCs. Some hide critical details, if they don't think discovering it the hard way will cause the PCs to fail the mission, especially if it's the sort of detail that might cause the PCs to demand more pay. And some are just out to set the PCs up, and what they say may not have any bearing whatsoever on reality, being designed solely to maneuver the PCs into a position where they're easily eliminated. And everything in between. Most are in the middle somewhere.

And note that there are reasons other than the Johnson being a weasel that the PCs might not get told everything. Sometimes the Johnson's information is incomplete or inaccurate, too.

I've played and run everything from missions where the Johnson said exactly where to go, what to expect to find there, and what to do to it, to missions where the PCs were totally self-motivating... there was no Johnson at all, so they had to not only do all their own legwork and develop all their own intel, but also define what the mission parameters even were for themselves.
Ultimately, it depends on how experienced the players are.

From a logical in-game standpoint, the Johnson probably wouldn't help much. The whole point of Shadowrunners is that they're deniable resources, and it gets harder to deny the connection the more you interact with them or finnesse your connections to get them goodies.

But looking at it as the players and the GM, newbies tend to need more help, and I'm willing to let "realism" slide for the sake of a good game. If the players are new and need a little shoring up, either have the johnson call up an NPC he knows to round out the party (a'la your "outsourcing" rigger/decker work), or else outright being on call when the group needs it.

As the players get more experienced (and you as the GM get more experience too), realize that the players should outsource these problems themselves. That's what contacts are for, directly or via a fixer. After all, the players will feel better about solving things through their own agencies than through a deux ex machina.

That said, they'll like winning with a minor deux ex machina more than an anticlimax, so be willing to have the johnson help until the players and characters can handle themselves.
i always plot out who the Johnson is, and what his motivations are. it's easier to decide what the J will and will not do for the runners, that way. that said, the J is sometimes a handy tool for pushing the players towards where you want them to go, or for giving them the clue they need if they're stumped on what to do next.
Talia Invierno
I'd reiterate what's been said before: that it's essential to know the Johnson's motivations to know how s/he will react to the PCs, but that it's also essential to build the Johnson (and thus any potentially available help) with the PCs in mind.
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