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Tricen
It occurs to me that my players have never done any legwork to follow up on a Johnson. This gives me a perfect situation to have one set them up. However, it got me thinking. If the Johnsons never give their real name, what are the runners using to identify one from another?!?!

"Hey, what do you know about this fellow, Johnson?"
"Well, I hear he's an Orc, runs with the mafia, great friends with the Yaks, is a human, is in 5th grade, and is in fact an elderly elf woman."
"Hmm, I'd have never guessed..."

Is it standard for runners to get other identifying marks? If so, wouldn't the Johnsons know about that and act to protect themselves? Are all of these normal legwork problems for runners, or are these unique to our somewhat green shadowrunning group?
Marwynn
My view is that Johnsons only use that name to identify their occupation. There's usually a secondary ID that they have set up just in case, for a rival company or something. Then they protect their true IDs as well.

Some are rather open, as if daring the 'runners to try something against them. Others are more discreet and want the professional courtesy of the shadows.

Most 'runners would've done the legwork and found stuff out about their Mr. Johnson. I think they're always referred to as "a mister johnson" never "the mr. j" so it's clear that they're not all talking about the same one. Between 'runners I expect it'd be like "Mr. J from Mitsuhama pretending to be from Ares, he's a good elf, loves tacos," as a matter of reference and courtesy between fellow professionals.

I wouldn't take a job from a Johnson another 'runner never bothered to dig around about.

Yes, they're giving you plenty of reason to have the J set them up.
tete
If the old adventures are any indicator then Johnson is just what you are telling the public at large. Ask for Mr. Johnsons table, The car will be rented for a Mr. Johnson etc etc. Quite a few of them give out their real names to the runners.
Sixgun_Sage
Most corporations have a "stable" of black operations organizers, so called "Mr. Johnsons" for any given area, they are likely to have atleast one layer of false identity between the runners anald their real name, a competent one will have several, the best never need them because their job is all about handling disposable assets and they are experts at telling people what they want and expect to hear. That said, any Mr. J that has operated for more than a few nights is going to have a reputation, what sort of work he he's likely to have, his prefferances for hiring, and most importantly how likely he is to be on the level. A good team always does the legwork, and a good team member always does their fair share of that legwork.
Joe Chummer
"Mr. Johnson" is to shadowrunning what "Alan Smithee" is to the film industry.

A film director/editor/whatnot that either wants to disown his work on a project or cannot legally attach his/her name to the project (for whatever legal-wrangling/contractual reasons) opts to use the credit "Alan Smithee" instead of their real name.

A corporation who want to disown their black ops opts to employ an exec/middle-manager/patsy who uses the moniker "Mr. Johnson" instead of their real name.

The big difference between "Alan Smithee" and "Mr. Johnson" is most people know who the "Alan Smithee" credit is in any given movie because it was often public knowledge or industry buzz when the movie was released; to find out, all it takes is a bit of legwork (or hop on over to IMDb).

With "Mr. Johnson," in my experience, Johnsons usually don't introduce themselves with their real name unless they're already well-known (for example, a campaign I'm writing has the team being hired by a well-to-do rock star). "Mr. Johnson" is a veil of relative anonymity. This is not to say it's impossible to find out exactly WHO your current Johnson is; it's just difficult, especially if you have no inkling of what corp/syndicate/gov't/whatnot they really work for.
Joe Chummer
QUOTE (tete @ Oct 22 2009, 11:34 AM) *
Quite a few of them give out their real names to the runners.


As far as I'm concerned, a Johnson giving out their real name to runners is just asking for some hurt. If something bad happens on the run (possibly even due to some factor the Johnson wasn't made privy to), and the Johnson gave out his actual name, guess who the survivors of the jilted team are going to come gunning for.

Unless your mom or best friend hires your team to do something for them, there's got to be a few strata of social remove between the Johnson and the runners or else a Johnson isn't going to live very long.
overcannon
I think it all this type of thing dates back to Neuromancer, but it may have occurred earlier.

The initial names were either Mr. Who for an anonymous employer, or Mr. Name for an employer that wanted to be anonymous, but the runners are threatening to remember his name. I can't quite recall if they actually used Johnson in that book, does anyone know for sure either way?
Joe Chummer
QUOTE (overcannon @ Oct 22 2009, 11:14 PM) *
I think it all this type of thing dates back to Neuromancer, but it may have occurred earlier.

The initial names were either Mr. Who for an anonymous employer, or Mr. Name for an employer that wanted to be anonymous, but the runners are threatening to remember his name. I can't quite recall if they actually used Johnson in that book, does anyone know for sure either way?


I believe Johnson is unique to SR. If it had been used in Neuromancer, that would've been direct plagiarism and be grounds for a lawsuit.

Funny that you bring up Gibson, as I'm currently reading Pattern Recognition (and, incidentally, not digging it near as much as his other, more futuristic work). As much as I like his Sprawl books, part of me rankles at knowing he really does not like SR: "...the only negative thing I feel about it is that initial extreme revulsion at seeing my literary DNA mixed with elves."
The Stray7
QUOTE (overcannon @ Oct 22 2009, 09:14 PM) *
I think it all this type of thing dates back to Neuromancer, but it may have occurred earlier.

The initial names were either Mr. Who for an anonymous employer, or Mr. Name for an employer that wanted to be anonymous, but the runners are threatening to remember his name. I can't quite recall if they actually used Johnson in that book, does anyone know for sure either way?


As far as I've read (I'm working through Neuromancer at the moment), there is a guy who hires the protagonists and he isn't using his real name, but the name he gives is "Mr. Armitage".
overcannon
QUOTE (The Stray7 @ Oct 23 2009, 08:30 AM) *
As far as I've read (I'm working through Neuromancer at the moment), there is a guy who hires the protagonists and he isn't using his real name, but the name he gives is "Mr. Armitage".



That actually gets really complicated though.
tete
QUOTE (The Stray7 @ Oct 23 2009, 01:30 PM) *
As far as I've read (I'm working through Neuromancer at the moment), there is a guy who hires the protagonists and he isn't using his real name, but the name he gives is "Mr. Armitage".


This is true, quick note Armaitage is a famous character from HP Lovecraft... So it is infact like calling himself Mr. Johnson or Mr. Smith

QUOTE (Joe Chummer @ Oct 23 2009, 12:59 AM) *
As far as I'm concerned, a Johnson giving out their real name to runners is just asking for some hurt. If something bad happens on the run (possibly even due to some factor the Johnson wasn't made privy to), and the Johnson gave out his actual name, guess who the survivors of the jilted team are going to come gunning for.

Unless your mom or best friend hires your team to do something for them, there's got to be a few strata of social remove between the Johnson and the runners or else a Johnson isn't going to live very long.


Depends on what the Johnson wants. Urlan Manes for example, generally wants his BTLs back so his company doesn't go under. Now some of the old adventures perhaps the Johnson shouldn't be so free to give out their real name but that is the precedent set by the game. Of course the "real name" they give could be fake.
Red-ROM
ok, My old group ran some jobs for a mr. Black. is this from any sr fiction, or a character of our gm's design?

edit: he gave his name as mr. Johnson at the first meet
Degausser
From most of the SR fluff, it is assumed that the fixer does most of the legwork for a Johnson. They will tell the party who they are working for and what they are doing. If not, then . . .

While Johnsons never give their name, a clever runner can still narrow it down. Obviously, sex, metatype, and rough age can help, as well as other traits like hair color and such. Also, someone with a good judge intentions score (or one of those damn emototoys) can determine their general demeanor. How stressed they are and such, which will tell the party if they are a professional Johnson and such. Lastly, the run itself can give some info.

Example on Shadowsea:

ARunner: Hey, just got a job from a Johnson, wanted to check him out. Never worked with him before.
Pistons: Gonna give us some info to go on?
ARunner: Ork, probably around 30ish. Male, obviously, Brown hair, Always wears sunglasses. Tries to come off as professional but clearly isn't, didn't have any bodyguards or anything. American accent. Our mage says he's slightly awakened and has no cyber.
Pistons: The run?
ARunner: Without giving too much away, he has us running against Evo.
Pistons: Yeah, I think I know this guy. Tries to come off as a Mitsuhama exec, trying to undermine Evo, but I did some digging. He really works for Terra First! I've never had problems with him, his credline is good.
ARunner: Thanks Pistons!
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Degausser @ Oct 24 2009, 10:11 AM) *
From most of the SR fluff, it is assumed that the fixer does most of the legwork for a Johnson. They will tell the party who they are working for and what they are doing. If not, then . . .

While Johnsons never give their name, a clever runner can still narrow it down. Obviously, sex, metatype, and rough age can help, as well as other traits like hair color and such. Also, someone with a good judge intentions score (or one of those damn emototoys) can determine their general demeanor. How stressed they are and such, which will tell the party if they are a professional Johnson and such. Lastly, the run itself can give some info.

Example on Shadowsea:

ARunner: Hey, just got a job from a Johnson, wanted to check him out. Never worked with him before.
Pistons: Gonna give us some info to go on?
ARunner: Ork, probably around 30ish. Male, obviously, Brown hair, Always wears sunglasses. Tries to come off as professional but clearly isn't, didn't have any bodyguards or anything. American accent. Our mage says he's slightly awakened and has no cyber.
Pistons: The run?
ARunner: Without giving too much away, he has us running against Evo.
Pistons: Yeah, I think I know this guy. Tries to come off as a Mitsuhama exec, trying to undermine Evo, but I did some digging. He really works for Terra First! I've never had problems with him, his credline is good.
ARunner: Thanks Pistons!



This is how it works in our games as well, given a little legwork or a knowledgeable contact...

Keep the Faith
LurkerOutThere
I would imagine some of it will depend on the Johnson. J's whose primary business is being a J will likely have a code-name, not unlike runners. That gives Runners soemthign to refer to them as and builds up a certain level of familairity. Runners who want to dig into their J's past (and good runners should want to do at least a bit of digging) may or may not be able to pierce the veil, but a competent J will have as much of his real identity cloaked as possible. On the other hand one time J's, won't give anything aboout them, in some ways this will make runners even more suspicious if their smart.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (LurkerOutThere @ Oct 25 2009, 04:36 AM) *
I would imagine some of it will depend on the Johnson. J's whose primary business is being a J will likely have a code-name, not unlike runners. That gives Runners soemthign to refer to them as and builds up a certain level of familairity. Runners who want to dig into their J's past (and good runners should want to do at least a bit of digging) may or may not be able to pierce the veil, but a competent J will have as much of his real identity cloaked as possible. On the other hand one time J's, won't give anything aboout them, in some ways this will make runners even more suspicious if their smart.



Yeah, I see it as being a case-by-case situation...

Keep the Faith
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