How many shadowrunners are there in Shadowrun? (And, to be more specific, in Seattle?)

Is there an official stance on what percentage / how many people of the world's population can be considered shadowrunners?

Sub-question: Is there a strict definition for "shadowrunner" that would clearly separate a group of people involved in illegal or semi-legal activities from the masses dealing in legally similar organized crime? Why isn't a shady accountant who leaks megacorp money to charity organizations–because of her background–without ever grabbing a gun a shadowrunner? (I'm not sure whether this should be a separate question.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ As far as your sub-question goes... The strict definition of a Shadowrunner is probably up for debate, but I think it's easy to at least differentiate between Shadowrunners and organized crime gang members. Shadowrunners are, basically, criminals for hire. Kind of like mercenaries. However, a member of an organized crime gang is part of an organized organization with specific goals, loyalties, and a leadership hierarchy. \$\endgroup\$
    – Funkytown
    Commented Aug 23, 2014 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


I have never seen a source that explicitly states a number or percentage of shadowrunners in the population. However, I think there are reasonable guesses that can be made.

First, the SR5 core rulebook states on p. 442

Shadowrunners by default are SINless...

There are, of course, exceptions that are intended to be rare (i.e. Shadowrunners with the "SINner" quality). So I think it's safe to assume that the Shadowrunner population is, for the most part, going to be a subset of the SINless population.

Second, according to System Identification Number entry on the Shadowrun Wiki:

By the 2070s, most countries participate in the in the Global SIN Registry (GSR). To do so, more than 90 percent of their recognized citizens must be issued SINs...

I'm not 100% sure where they get this information from, but the page references both the SR3 and SR4 book. I don't have the SR3 book, and it wasn't in the SR4 book, so I'm assuming it's mentioned in the SR3 core rulebook.

This narrows down the search to, at most, 10% of the world's population. However, it's easy to assume that the Shadowrunner population is significantly less than this. A few points are:

  • 90% is the minimum requirement to participate in the GSR. Odds are that most nations will exceed that number.
  • It's a reasonable guess that not EVERY SINGLE SINless person is going to turn into a criminal-for-hire.

Unfortunately, to narrow down the number any further would require us to do a lot of speculation, and (as you have suggested in your sub-question) this number will also be affected by how you define "Shadowrunner". It is, at least, reasonable to say that 10% is a good starting point from which to work.

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    \$\begingroup\$ 10% seems like a very high starting point. The majority of the SINless are not runners. Some estimates put the population of Shadowrun's Earth in 2075 at near or over 7 billion people. Even if only 0.1% of them were runners, that would still be 7 million Shadowrunners. I would guess it's actually much lower than that. \$\endgroup\$
    – MEP
    Commented Nov 4, 2014 at 21:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that it is a high starting point. I didn't want to use speculation as a starting point though. So that was the best number I could find with actual hard evidence. \$\endgroup\$
    – Funkytown
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 13:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sinless can be recognized citizen, nonrecognized citizen and noncitizen. So the sinless population can be much larger \$\endgroup\$
    – Alpedar
    Commented Oct 9, 2018 at 16:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ -1. "More than 90 percent of their recognized citizens must be issued SINs" means "more than 90 percent of the population who have a legal identity and pay taxes." Even today, most countries are home to people who aren't "recognised citizens," so that the percentage of SINless could easily exceed 10%. It's even possible that the SINless outnumber SINners. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 21:30

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