According to Shadowrun's Wikia and this answer, all country-specific versions of the client nickname "Mr. Johnson" follow the scheme of:

[local honorific] [plausible-sounding local surname]


Mr. [plausible-sounding local surname]

except the ones for Poland ("(Herr) Kowalski") and Austria ("Herr or Doktor Nowak"), which are in the format of:

[German honorific] [common Polish surname]

Why is that? Is that an error in the Wikia? A blunder of Shadowrun's editors?

Or are there some significant ties between in-universe Poland and Austria that makes all clients in there pose as, I don't know, Germanised second-generation Polish (i/e)mmigrants?

I honestly can't tell which one is it.


2 Answers 2


Austrians speak German. So German honorific is to be expected. Nowak is a name common among Polish, Sorbian and Ashkenazi Jews. The later group has nowadays about 9000 people in Austria, so it is some kind of notable minority. It is a probable name (for Austria), though not a really common one nowadays (while not entirely uncommon).

The in universe Eurowars devastated large parts of Poland, and Austria is (in the novels set there) where a lot of people directly affected migrated to.

For Polish? no idea why they typed "Herr" instead of "pan".

Most likely the second case is a blunder.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A point of clarification, Nowak/Novak is (c. 2009) the most common Polish surname. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2017 at 13:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a good answer, especially the bit about emmigration being mentioned in the novels. But, as per tradition, I'll wait a bit before accepting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dragomok
    Apr 11, 2017 at 16:33

I am not so well-versed in Shadowrun lore, but do remember that the Austrian empire was a huge and multi-ethnic (the actual Austrian part being small, in size and population, in comparison to the rest), and it was disbanded in 1918 (so about 150 years before SR timeline?).

After WW2 there was an influx of refugees and immigrants from surrounding Slavic countries (e.g. after the Prague spring, the Yugoslavian wars). In 2014, about 9,5% of Austria's population consisted of people born in Slavic countries (bad math based on the data available at Statistik Austria, the English version of the site has less tables available, sadly).

This does not take into account all the people from 2nd, 3rd, and so forth, generations still having Slavic surnames.

This is to add to what @Trish said, Austria has been a destination for Slavic immigrants and refugees even before events in Shadowrun, and has century-old traditions and history with it's Slavic neighbours.

Edit: In 1973 there was a local ad exemplifying this surname conundrum, the boy in this picture is asking the man in a broad Austrian dialect:

my name's Kolaric, your name's Kolaric, why do they call you "Tschusch"?

(Tschusch is a derogatory term for Slavic people)

  • \$\begingroup\$ Always good to have some real-life context. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dragomok
    Apr 12, 2017 at 13:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Glad to be of help! \$\endgroup\$ Apr 12, 2017 at 17:07

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