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I'm new to Shadowrun, I'm only reading 5e at the moment, and I don't understand at the core what a SIN physically is (not the database and all that). I'm thinking of making my character as a corp born person whom is taken and experimented on and eventually freed by a runner. This means I would have a CORP limited SIN quality or a full blown CORP SINner. Which is also confusing because CORP SINner seems like a Mr. Johnson or something where CORP limited sounds like Joe 'Wage Slave' Chummer. Not sure where this would really fall into line.

However upon getting a fake SIN how can I use that as opposed to the other? Or how can you manage to have multiple SINs? Is it like a ID card? Or more like an implanted chip? Or even a ID bar code tatoo or something? Since at it's core all it is, is a huge string of data how does one go about managing 'fake SINs'?


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3 Answers 3

up vote 19 down vote accepted

In short, a SIN is character's general physical information (i.e. DOB, metatype, etc.) and some other data (criminal records and whatnot) about them stored in a database run by a nation or corporation. In addition to this use of the information, SINs are often used for advertisers and financial transactions, by being linked to a credstick or commlink, allowing for their owners to be tracked but also experience a highly customized lifestyle that theoretically improves their quality of life.

Pages 366-368 have the rules for the mechanical functions of a (fake) SIN; essentially, your SIN is theoretically broadcast from your commlink at all times, but you can set it up to use any of your SINs, or even just not to broadcast (though this gets you in trouble in the uber-secure areas). As a general rule, unless the player has already presented another SIN, they may choose the one they want to use when questioned/checked/otherwise harassed about handing over a SIN. The quality of a SIN determines how "real" it is without, of course, being your normal SIN, unless you're SINless.

The point of the SINner negative quality is for three reasons:

  • Identification
  • Taxes
  • Scrutiny

The first of these is pretty simple; it's theoretically possible to look up a person's SIN using biometrics, so if you get taken in for doing something, you need to consider the fact that you'll want a fake to present before they find your real identity. Usually, unless it's an obvious fake, that sticks your (hopefully clean) fake SIN with the criminal record, at which point you can ditch it and get another.

Taxes, of course, are one of the two things which are certain in life, and one of the upsides of not having an official identity is that you also do not wind up paying taxes; some of this is offset by the fact that the SINless may have to pay for public services a SINner can access free, but as a general rule a 400 nuyen bus pass is still cheaper than 3600 a year in taxes.

And scrutiny is the largest one. The SINless distrust SINners, especially corporate types; it's one thing if you're born into the squalor of a ditch in the UCAS but your parent(s) happened to have a SIN or two between them and got you one, but if you've got a high-level corp SIN you're essentially looking at being set for life with a silver spoon, unless you do something horrible. Also, while it's not technically scrutiny, people with corporate SINs often find themselves "scouted" by rival corporations or even other branches of their own corporations, and extractions can be dangerous for everyone involved.

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I must have missed that when I was reading thanks for the info. Good to know how this works so that I can figure out how to manage multiple identities. – John Sep 1 '13 at 12:35
Most of my stuff is based off of 4th Edition; despite the fact that 5th is, at least in my opinion, a lot less arbitrarily complex (4th kept legacy things that really didn't add to its revamped system) and therefore a lot better for first-timers, they didn't really care to repeat some of the core setting content for newbies. – Kyle Willey Sep 1 '13 at 21:18
Good answer, but just an addition: Your SIN number is not just "what's transmitted" in the sense of being a number matching a database. There's a lot of extremely sophisticated programs out there whose sole responsibility is tracking all SIN numbers, all the time - so you can't just make up a number and there, you have a fake SIN. You (or someone you know) needs to set up a highly sophisticated counter-program that creates phantom use of your fake ID when you're not busy using it, resulting in an actual background for this fake SIN. It's not just number + database. – Wolfman Joe Sep 24 at 19:55

Yes, SIN is much like the Citizen Identity Card, just 50 years of improvements & paranoia added to our known forms.

Most SINless are bums, hobos, criminals, and wilderness people who forgot to prolong their proverbial papers.

Given that Shadowrunners have to balance the risks of being caught (not necessarily because they themselves do wrong) with the comforts of being a legal citizen, a salary-slave like all the others, is a matter of the theme and focus.

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Welcome to! Take a look at the tour; it's a useful introduction to the site. Be aware that isn't a discussion forum and answer posts are not for simply discussing the subject as this post does. To make this a proper answer, answer core problem of the question ("how can I use [a fake SIN] as opposed to the other? Or how can you manage to have multiple SINs? [...] how does one go about managing 'fake SINs'?") and make any commentary on the surrounding issues a part of solving the problem posed. – SevenSidedDie Jun 7 at 19:24

SIN (System Identification Number) is Shadowrun's future's take on on all of the modern TIN (tax identification number) plus SSN (social security number) plus EIN (employee identification number) plus citizen registration rolled into one and stored in centralized databases. SIN can be used to personalize just about anything you can (or have to) legally and officially personalize: personal documents, permits, licenses, contracts, accounts, credsticks, passkeys, database entries, registries and whatever else you can think of in that vein.

National SIN means your primary registration database is the issuing nation. Corp SIN, the issuing corporation. Limited vs. full corp SIN is less the quality of SIN itself, as far as I recognize, and more the breadth of permission and privileges granted by the corp to the owner of said SIN. I would guess that, beyond the full vs. limited division, there might be finer grades of difference between various corp SIN levels, limited and full being only the two main rough categorizations.

For managing SINs, you usually make the responsible office (or your hired hacker, if the SIN is fake) enter the SIN into the (overwhelmingly mostly digital) document or device. Some entries (like, for example, printed entries or read-only credsticks) aren't editable, others (i.e. databases, comlinks) are, even if you are usually not allowed to do so.

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