Nothing fundamental has changed for a runner in 2070; they still do the same jobs for the same sorts of people, using magic, cyberware, technology and their own skill to get it done.

As a starting runner you do not have access to everything you see in catalogues and in the hands of other prime runners. If it is too illegal or forbidden, a starting character probably cannot get hold off it. He must find a source for the item once he becomes a runner and has saved up enough money.

A Shadowrunners reputation is everything. New running teams have to work hard doing the poorly paid drek runs before they will be in contention for the better-paid work.
Fail a run, and word gets about pretty quick, if you loose enough street rep, you may as well go and get a day job, no well paid jobs will come your way without a catch.

Your selection of contacts is what sets a good runner apart from a great runner. Your contacts are your source of information, your source of work, and they broaden your own skill base. Choose your contacts wisely; if they are loyal and well connected you would do well to keep them sweet.

Technological advances

The Matrix is no longer a network of hard-wired nodes, which are connected by cables; the second crash of 2064 put an end to that. The network is now a series of overlapping network signals, which interact with each other. Almost all manufactured items transmit data, from Soy-cans transmitting their sell by date to the store network node, to cyberarms transmitting their status to the users PAN and receiving instructions back. This network is almost completely wireless, and generally can be accessed anywhere in the world (with some notable exceptions)

The PAN (Personal Area Network) is each person’s area of the new matrix constantly broadcasting and receiving data. Controlled through your Commlink, it is your telephone, your ID, your Credstick, your personal organiser, and so much more.
You subscribe your bits of kit to route through your Commlink and control them through this device, either cybernetically or with smart contact lenses/glasses and trodes. Through your Commlink you can receive and transmit data, and you can access the matrix almost permanently through AR (Augmented Reality)

You can also send and receive data between friends Comlinks. You can could see what they see, and be aware of where they are. For a runner this can come in incredibly useful, as your team become synergetic, exchanging data at the speed of thought.

Your PAN operate is 3 modes.
Active – this is the default for most PANs. In active mode you can access and be accessed by nodes. Certain areas may require your PAN to be active (Airport, Police Station, Corporate building) so they can identify who you are and follow your activities.
Passive – The PAN can access but cannot be accessed by other nodes. The PAN will still show up as active on the local network.
Hidden – PANs in this mode are said to be ghosting, they are not detectable but it is discouraged to use PANs in this mode by the enforcement of harsh punishments.

Your PAN network is made up of all of your pieces of equipment transmitting data to one another, an integral part in this network are RFID tags (Radio Frequency Identification). These tags range in size from microscopic, to the size of clothing tag size and have many functions, Security, Sensor and Stealth being three of the main functions.
Security tags are used by megacorporations and can be implanted under the skin of employees. These tags monitor where they are and where they have been and systems in the corporate buildings can ensure that anyone without a suitable Security tag are not going where they shouldn’t. Sensor tags are small and are placed on items which need monitoring like Bone Lacing. The tags can monitor build up of heat or stress or almost anything, and transmit the data to a users Comlink. Stealth tags are used to track individuals and items. Usually lying dormant these tags are almost impossible to locate until certain criterion are met, at which point they activate and transmit their location.

Tags are nothing more than sophisticated chips and can be deactivated and wiped or even removed from items. (when purchasing a new item you can specify that you do not want the RFID tag embedded)

AR or Augmented Reality is an overlay, which enhances the real worldview that most people see. Imagine walking down the street and the advertising hoarding reads your profile which is broadcast by your comlink, the advertising hoarding then transmits an advert tailored specifically to your personal tastes directly into your PAN-enabled sunglasses, the advert seems to appear where the advertising hoarding sits in the real world.
Other examples of uses, which are more useful to the modern runner, are Maps and GPS, which can overlay your route across your direction of travel and indicate friends and other marked targets that you will pass, or SMS messages, which appear next to the person sending. AR is present in every facet of life and in almost every case it has enhanced the real world.

In addition to AR, is the fully immersive VR (Virtual Reality). VR can only be accessed Cybernetically (or mentally if you are a Technomancer). This environment is akin to the Matrix of old, and this is the domain of hackers. VR is also accessed wirelessly bit the user looses almost all awareness of the real world. Using VR is known as SIMing and is a much more powerful way of accessing the Matrix, (you are inside the network rather than looking at the broadcast outside) SIMing VR comes in two forms. The Cold Sim and the Hot Sim. Cold SIMing is when you access the network with feedback filters and other safety protocols and is not as fast as Hot SIMing, where no filters are applied. This second form of VR is highly potent, and highly addictive and highly illegal.

All electronic devices can be controlled through the Matrix; this includes doors, security cameras, phones, cyberware, weapons, vehicles and drones. (Control of vehicles and drones is known as rigging and will be mentioned below). Because all electronics can be controlled via the matrix, a degree of security savvy is needed, you or your hacker can access the Mr. Johnson’s Commlink, or his bodyguards Cyberware, however you must be aware that they sure as hell can do the same to you.

Any runner who fails to practice good data security will wind up pretty dead in a short space of time.
Don’t advertise – PANs have their uses but they are also detectable. If in doubt, run Hidden.
Limit your vulnerabilities – Wireless devices are whiz but if they are not well protected they are a hackers next meal. If you don’t need it turn it off, and if you do need it, beef up its protection.
Don’t leave tracks – Everywhere you go your PAN leaves a data trail That evidence can be used against you, spoof your data trail, or have a hacker do it for you.
Fake ID is your friend – Even if active mode isn’t required, running with legit looking ID might keep you from standing out in a crowd. Just don’t rely on it for too long.

Rigging is the control of vehicles or drones through the matrix network and has become an area of specialisation of hackers called rigging. Riggers control vehicles, which have been adapted for rigger control. The rigger can pilot the vehicle with commands alone allowing the vehicle to get on with the job, or can “Jump into” the vehicle in full VR mode and become the vehicle. With a Rigger in control of a vehicle in VR mode, his actions and processing speeds are akin to a hacker in the VR Matrix and is capable of calculating manoeuvres at the speed of thought.

SIN. To own a SIN (System Identification Number) is to be an authorised citizen, SINs are registered to Nations or Corporations. Anyone without a SIN number is classified as Probationary Citizen. The SIN number is made up of many pieces of data about the person and can be used to identify a persons place and date of birth, name, and place of registration. A SIN number is needed to obtain travel tickets (this includes domestic bus tickets) to hold a bank account, to vote and to acquire housing or a job. Without a SIN you have few rights, and are unable to legitimately go about your business. Most Shadowrunners do not have a SIN as the SINless have a good degree of anonymity.

The SINless who get arrested have few rights. They often disappear into the system and generally don’t have access to legal services. Those who do remain in the system are issued with a criminal SIN number, which records biometric and other verifiable data and is slightly worse than having no SIN at all.

Without a SIN you are unable to hold a bank account, which has created a boom industry in offshore bank accounts or proxy accounts set up by criminal organisations. To have the luxury and convenience of holding a Bank account the SINless pay a steep tariff.
Corporations are aware that some of their customers (and deniable assets) require electronic payments without bank accounts, so Credsticks are issued and accepted almost everywhere (although the use of a credstick would be frowned upon in an expensive restaurant for example). Credsticks are issued in colours determining the maximum amount held on them. Silver is the smallest with a ¥5,000 limit; the black credsticks hold ¥1,000,00.

Content taken from the Shadowrun 4 Campaign Blog


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