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One of the key points for the SR campaign that I'm putting together is that I'm taking the guess work (and a lot of the akward roleplaying that usually occurs the first session of a campaign when total strangers decide to band together for monetary gain and glory) out of the equation.

I'm going to lay it down in the opening narrative that all of the PCs were recruited by an NPC to move to San Juan (which in the game is starting to thrive as a major runner haven) and form a team. I'm disallowing initial lifestyles before play unless the PCs have the homeground advantage and I'm going to be very strict on what contacts the PCs are going to be able to buy starting out. The idea is that I'm going to have them build their webs of contacts in game and establish their lifestyles in the first session or two.

The NPC is basically going to be their agent. He goes around and lines up jobs and helps them make connections, he's also going to bank roll them the first session w/ a little currency to help cover getting to know the town and first months rents on their pads. In return he'll be expecting a percentage of whatever the runners make on the runs he sets up for them. (I am going to force that everyone decide on and put the same number of points into this contact so that no one gets shafted buying him at C:6 L:6 while everyone else does 1-1 and tries to get that guy to call him anytime the group needs anything.)

He's basically going to be asking for 5% of whatever the runners make per run up to a monthly cap (right now I'm thinking 5K per month per runner as the max and any jobs in the month after he gets that much off of them will be free).

Basically, what I want to know is: Do you think runners would have agents/handlers and what do you think an agent or handler would bring to the table for the team he was representing. (I'm also doing this because I've never been exceptionally thrilled w/ the idea that in so many runs I've read a random fixer or NPC find them the job which never really seems to make a lot of sens to me; at least not until the team has reasonable street cred, then the Johnson's might start finding the team on their own.)

Any feedback would be appreciated.
Only Hackers should have agents.

Everyone else uses fixers to fulfill the role your suggesting (I know I do).
Well to me anyways it sounds like you are describing the actions that a Fixer might very well take in order to build her personal stable of Runners.
I've seen something like this before....the NPC's name was Charlie and all of the Runners were chicks.

Seriously though, in the current game I am playing in the GM Provided all of the PC's with a Fixer Contact named Percy. Our group's first run was placed in our laps by Percy, which was an easy way to get all the indivual PCs together to start forming a team.

Personally I think a common contact is a better method to get a group of PC's together then say....hmmm....random Mr. J, or the GM says so tactics.
Yeah, basically a fixer IS a runner's agent.
Let me add this then, in all the runs I've ever read I never understood what the fixer got out of the deal. Sure, if there turns out to be loot to fence that's normally where you head (and I could have the agent handle that too as a fixer would) but if it turns out that there's nothing to turn over why did the fixer call the pcs instead of other runners... you know "where's the love?"

I guess I'm just looking for something that makes sense to me.

Here's an example, in 2Fast2Furious at the beginning Tej (Ludacris's character) says that the drivers need a fourth. They allow him to call anyone he wants and he calls Brian (Paul Walker's character). Brian wins the race and then pays Tej out of the pot for calling him. That's why Tej called him rather than anyone else; because he knew two things: Brian would give a good race and if he won Tej would win out as well. I didn't get any indication that anyone else would have paid him if they'd have won.

I also remember previous additions of SR having upkeep rules for contacts but I didn't find any in SR4 (I don't have access to my old books currently to double check if I'm remembering correctly or not)
The fixer is usually paid directly by the Mr. J or another "sponsoring" party, apart from the runner's payment. This is his "finder's fee" for connecting the Mr. J with the people needed to do the job.

I almost always go the "common fixer" route for putting a new group together.
Ol' Scratch
Yeah, what you're describing is pretty much the main role of a Fixer contact. Probably one with a higher Loyalty score than normal (about 4 or so, around the same as a Level 2 contact in the previous edition).

Fixers also have other perks, being able to get you gear, information, and anything else you may need. But their first and main role is to get you work, earning an undisclosed "finder's fee" from the various Mr. Johnsons he hooks you up with.
Fixers should be getting paid by the Johnson to set up the meet with the Runners in the first place as well as taking a percentage out of the Runner's pay for setting them up with the Johnson.

So a good Fixer should be skimming off of the top as well as bleeding the Runners as a "finders fee".
Our group Tossed Percy a share of the profits as if he was an actual member of the team that went on the run......and no we would not normally toss a fixer a full share, but this was a well paying run and our group decided that it would be in all of our best interests to keep Percy well motivated to continue offering high paying runs to our newly formed team.

You gotta tip, especially in the sixth world.

Oh and please, please let us never mention any of the 2 fast 2 furious movies ever, ever again.
Kind of like many modern lawyers, Fixers who build teams get paid a "Finder's Fee" for introducing the team to Mr Johnson but, more importantly, gets a backend deal if teh job goes alright. His fees never come up as far as the runners can tell.

The hiring via a Mr Johnson includes another aspect often overlooked ... the job interview. Odds are that several teams have the same fixer and several fixers want the job. A Runner team that hasn't had to sweat, seeing a few teams they know in teh waiting room, another passing outwards when teh team itself enters ... well, they've been pampered. Lets them know that Mr Johnson has all the cards.
QUOTE (Wakshaani)
His fees never come up as far as the runners can tell.

I just don't like that the fees never come up.

I probably will have the agent be more of a fixer but I want it to be clear to the players that he has his own agenda and motivations for helping them. I think in a lot of games players try to dominate and use NPCs and while I've usually got a good handle on the situation in my games I think this will take it to the next level by putting a very clear cut "what's in it for me" w/ the NPC.

Ol' Scratch
Ask yourself this: Why would the fees come up? That's a contract between the Johnson and the Fixer (or whoever else informed you about the job). It's "middle man" stuff that doesn't affect you directly whatsoever, and if it does it's because you're being set-up and opportunities to learn more about that set-up will become clear as the run progresses.

Do you really need to know how much the Stuffer Shack paid Aztechnology for that last crate of burritos they received, one of which you just bought for 2¥? Will that change the fact that you just bought a burrito for 2¥ from a Stuffer Shack? Same difference the vast majority of the time.
Any runner worth thier wieght in BTLs knows damn well a Fixer, Mr J's and every other contact they interact with getting thier cut out of the action somehow some's just proper shadow manners not to bring up the double dealing and what not that goes when trying to maintain a continued working relationship with your Contact.
Interestingly enough, I just looked over the description of the fixer in the SR4 book where it says that they get a percentage of the your payment for a run.

So, here's my question. If the fixer is paid off-screen but isn't around for the negotiations for the fee (because I've never seen a run written that mentions fixers present at the meeting) and you never pay him but the Johnson delivers the full amount that you agreed upon; which means the Johnson didn't pay him, then who's paying the fixer?

And having worked in the corporate world I can't believe that if the Johnson negotiates 5,000 nuyen.gif for the group he's going to then automatically give up an additional percentage to go to the team's fixer so that the team keeps the 5,000 nuyen.gif . That percentage is coming out of the team's pocket.
Well the way I see it as working is thus;

Ms Johnson has a budget of 10,000 nuyen.gif.

( 1 ) She contacts a Fixer and promises him 2,500 nuyen.gif total, 1,250 nuyen.gif upfront with the rest after the job is complete. (Or whatever you decide the going rate is.)

( 2 ) She offers the Runners 3,000 nuyen.gif, but is willing to go up to 5,000 nuyen.gif.

( 3 ) After the job is complete the Runners are expected to pay the Fixer x% of their earnings.

Now I'll agree, most DMs forget to make the team pay the Fixer, but that doesn't mean that the Fixer shouldn't be getting paid by both the Johnson and the Runners for being a middleman.
Back when my friends and I were SR noobs, the first (and perhaps best) GM I've ever had didn't allow us to take a Fixer type contact. He put us in much the situation theMadDutchman is describing; he gave the team a free Fixer contact and set us up on well paying milkruns (it was a low powered, near street level game). Started out nice but we started to notice that the pay stayed pretty static as the runs got increasingly dangerous. It resulted in much OOC whining, until we slowly realized (being dense n00blets) that if we were going to whine, it should be to the fixer, not the GM. After much digging and courting rival Fixers, we found out that the first guy was taking us for a bit of a ride because he realized that we didn't quite know what we were worth. He was setting us up with hard ass Mr. J's who wouldn't budge an inch on pay because they already got bled near dry by the Fixer, who had promised that we rarely said no to a job and we were perfect (read: dumb enough) for runs that required more collateral damage than subtlety. It took a few runs to unfold, but the eventual effect was indelible: We learned from that point on that we needed to be far more aware of our shadow relationships. It's been a few years and I -still- kick myself in the ass when I think of the nuyen we were basically flushing down the drain for those 3 or 4 runs before our dense skulls started connecting the dots. Moral of the story? Things that happen offscreen DO happen, and it's very important that players are made to realize that... one way or the other.
QUOTE (Ravor)
Fixers should be getting paid by the Johnson to set up the meet with the Runners in the first place as well as taking a percentage out of the Runner's pay for setting them up with the Johnson.

So a good Fixer should be skimming off of the top as well as bleeding the Runners as a "finders fee".

I've often thought like this, but I can't figure out why the Fixer would want to deprive the runners of nuyen that he's going to get anyway.

Fixer Bob has 2 teams of runners that he's very proud of (and a third team he feels isn't going to be around much longer). If a Johnson puts up a job offer on Shadowsea, Fixer Bob is going to try his best to sell his team as the best bang for the buck, promising they work cheap and are totally professional. If he can convince the Johnson to take him up on the offer, I'm sure he does collect a finder's fee if the run goes well. Those runners then need to replace broken gear, upgrade gear, and fence loot. Who do they call? They call their good buddy Fixer Bob who got them the job in the first place. Fixer Bob buys their loot for base 30% of its value (raw profit right there) and then finds them nifty new toys to enable them to be even better and bring him in even more money.

If he tries to skim off their payment, there's a couple of questions.. I doubt the Johnson shares he specifics of his operating budget with the Fixer, but if he does say anything, expect the Johnson to lowball.. "I can only spend 20k on top of your 4k finder's fee." So the fixer tries to claim his cut (20% again) from the runners, not realizing they managed to wheedle 25K out of the Johnson... which not only means his cut is less than what he's owed, but now the characters aren't looking to buy as much crap which the fixer could mark up while remaining their bestest pal ever; "Wow, Bob came through with the (insert nifty toy here)!! It cost me triple the legal price, but now I am a TINY GOD!!" The fixer nods, even though the tiny-god inducing toy only cost him twice the legal rate.

Which makes me wonder how many Shadowrunners realize they're just really violent Joygirls and Joyboys when you come right down to it. And the Fixer is their pimp. He sends them out to work, collecting his finder's fee for making a phone call. Not only do they come back and sell him valuables at a discount rate, but they come back and pay him to get them the upgrades they need to net him higher finder's fees.
QUOTE (Sterling)
Which makes me wonder how many Shadowrunners realize they're just really violent Joygirls and Joyboys when you come right down to it. And the Fixer is their pimp. He sends them out to work, collecting his finder's fee for making a phone call. Not only do they come back and sell him valuables at a discount rate, but they come back and pay him to get them the upgrades they need to net him higher finder's fees.


Harsh, but true.
Thinking of this, it would make more sense on several levels for the PCs to not meet with the Johnson. It provides the Johnson deniablility (in that he was never seen with the thugs and the thugs can't ID him); it makes he fixer the sole financial link (he sees both ends of the deal), and it makes the PCs more dependent on the fixer. If the PCs needed to talk to the Johnson the fixer could arrange it, but normally it would be avoided by the fixer (who has done this for a while and has a clue) providing them with the data they need and can get.

I'm not sure that would work in terms of the game, but it seems pretty reasonable from a RL risk management point of view.
Perhaps, but the more the Fixer knows the more at risk he would be if Ms Johnson decided to clean up loose ends. Where-as if he was just a middleman and not privy to the actual plans it becomes a toss-up whether or not it's better to ice him or pay him to keep quiet about some runners disappearing.
Back in the old campaign (These days, my runners work for the mob) they rarely met the Johnsons, the fixer usually laid the details out.
Ol' Scratch
That's the entire point of a fixer, though. They're the quintessential middle man. They rarely do any shady business directly -- that would put their job at risk. They broker people and information. They put you in touch with the people who need your services, and vice versa, all for a nice service fee.

If a Johnson wants to remain hidden, they hire a "dummy Johnson" to fill their shoes, and that dummy Johnson goes through a fixer to find a team. This provides anonymity for both sides. The Johnson doesn't know much of anything about you, and you don't know much of anything about the Johnson. That's safer for both sides, and it's safer for the fixer because he doesn't even want to know what business you two are dealing with. He put you in touch with each other and got his money. End of deal. Unless you ruin his reputation, then it becomes his problem.
QUOTE (Sterling)
Which makes me wonder how many Shadowrunners realize they're just really violent Joygirls and Joyboys when you come right down to it. And the Fixer is their pimp.

Well, yeah. I've had several characters describe being a Shadowrunner as "a job somewhere between whore and mercenary."
I don't think the shaodws is really organized or regulated enough for there to be one way of doing things. One fixer might hang back and just put people in touch with each other. Another might do his runner's negotiation for them and they never meet the Johnson. Some J's may want to meet the runners themselves, others won't. Mix it up.
As for Mr Johnson, the fellow negotiating with you is sometimes the one with a job to be done, true, but the corporate sharks with better plans will use a corporate Johnson .... a guy who used to be a Fixer then went "Legit" and now serves his corp as a go-between.

Manager A wants an angle on the Veep above him, to create a job opening, to get up in the world. He decides that showing up with drek-hot data from RivalCorp ™ is the way to do this. He calls up a Corporate Johnson, tells him what he needs, sets a budget, then sits back and waits for reports. Corp Johnson sends his own understudies to look for basic information about the place to be hit.

Corporate Johnson goes to his office, looks through files on reliable fixers and teams with a good series of successes on this sort of a datasteal. He makes a list of a half-dozen or so and starts making calls or, more likely, he doesn't like what he currently has, so starts calling fixers. "Fixer," he says, "I have a job. Datasteal, direct from a secure R&D facility. Do you have anyone capable?" He then calls other fixers, until he has a few potential hits.

Corporate Johnson then gathers up his understudies, adds a bit more research himself, then picks out a nice suit, fires up some certified credsticks from his Black Account (Money was aready wired here from the manager wanting everything done), and gets his special car for the trip downtown. From there, he'll be meeting each fixer and their possible teams, with teh fixer who arranged the meeting with the group he gets picking up a nice Finder's Fee on the side.

Corporate Johnson then plays the middle, with his boss calling him for update every so often, he himself calling the fixer, and the fixer calling the team. If things start to get wonky, Corporate Johnson might even have to show up physically (With a couple of Company Men), to help make sure that everyone knows what their jobs are. The manager's name should never get out, if CorpJohn does his job right.
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