I'm gearing up for a first foray into Shadowrun (specifically 5ed), and I'm confused about how to work out the initial offer of money that Mr Johnson makes.

The rulebook (pp. 375-6) describes how to calculate an appropriate amount based on the challenge the runners face, and gives an example that the payout would change if they somehow avoided the big bad/accidentally got involved with the mob boss with the magic sword.

That makes sense, but the fee is going to be agreed upon before the run. How do we set the fee before the challenges have been encountered, while also adjusting for the challenges to be faced in the future?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Answers that demonstratedly haven't read the pages in question have been removed. Prospective answerers: Please write answers after consulting the section being asked about. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 11, 2016 at 3:43
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Possible duplicate of Are there any official guidelines for Shadowrun payouts? \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 14:11
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowKras The linked question is for Shadowrun v4; this question appears to be about specific rules text from v5. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 14:34

2 Answers 2


To be honest, I totally disagree with that section of the rulebook. It surely give an idea but the fee must be calculated on what seems to be the mission and not based on what will really/probably happens. Beside, thing like "three to one encounter" is players problem, not Mr Johnson.

For me the steps are :

  • Mr Johnson needs runners and is able to pay (for example) 30000 to the group for a basic run. Depending on the meeting, the player can negotiate a bit more (The Face's job). It's like a contract.

  • Players do the run

  • If they go through more complications than expected, their job to negotiate with Mr Johnson "Hey you didn't tell us about those f*** turrets/mages/whatever !", here again the Face's job to negotiate

  • If they partially succeed in their run (ex : bringing only 3 of the 4 chips asked or bringing the target wounded), Mr Johnson won't hesitate to penalise the runners, and again, negotiation happens.

The 2 previous conditions could happen together.

A few other thing to take in account :

  • a Mr Johnson from corpoA will pay the group, a Mr Johnson from corpoB will pay by runner, this add some variety

  • some are generous, some are not

  • things never go has expected in the shadows, I had a group of players abusing a regular Mr Johnson (and stealing from him), after that, they went into a suicidal run (without knowing it) and didn't get paid (sweet vengeance from that old Mr Johnson) and the players didn't see the obvious trap

  • like videogames, you can add optionals objectives to your run. Ex : extracting a target 30000 for the run. +5000 if you get his equipment, +10000 for a successful stealthy approach

PS : not english, sorry if misspelling

To answer about the base value : I'd say 5000/runner for a basic run is ok, the rest is ... negotiation :)

  • \$\begingroup\$ it, however, doesnt say anything of the base value of a run... \$\endgroup\$
    – Mouhgouda
    Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 12:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I just say the book give an idea of a run value, but to be honest the only source I saw about that is from scenarios (ex : from mags). I didn't put it clearly in my post, but it's like karma distribution, the GM is the one deciding how many nuyen a run worth. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Sep 13, 2016 at 13:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ I get what you're saying; I'd slowly been coming to the same conclusion myself! Thanks \$\endgroup\$
    – Ian Knight
    Commented Sep 14, 2016 at 7:28

It depends on what necessary materials/resources the team is bringing to the table and what materials/resources the Johnson is providing.

If the run needs the rigger to cover the escape against heavy opposition then the rigger is going to need more cred. If he is going to have to risk major damage to over 200K of drones that can't be traced back to the Johnson's corp, then the Johnson is going to have to lay out more cred to cover possible damages, spent ammo, and wear and tear plus cred just to get them to be available.

He is renting the use of the drones. More importantly he is renting the use of highly illegal drones about to commit major felonies that can't be traced back to him or his corp. Sure the Johnson's corp has armies of drones, but he wouldn't be hiring shadowrunners if he could just use them instead.

Same for specialized B&E gear, materials to bind spirits, reagents, heavy weapons, special ammo, or even the cyberware of a top-notch street samurai. The harder to get the materials the higher the price.

Now these are materials/resources that are completely necessary to the success of the run. If a mage wants to use the services of three bound elementals during a run and didn't need to, then he is on his own. But if the run requires anti-aircraft missiles, then the Johnson will need to either pay for them or provide them.

Also you also have to look at the risk vs reward of the run. If a prototype is worth millions then the Johnson would be a fool to send the runners in without the resources to pull off the run. So he either ponies up to hire runner that have the resources to pull the run off or supplies them with the gear they need to do the run, fixers being a great way to get a hold of illegal items that can't be traced back to the Johnson's corp. And leftover gear can be made part of the payment.

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