Today I want to talk about my favorite character I’ve ever gotten to play on those occasions I get to sit on the player’s side of the table: Richie Conners, who, in typical Shadowrun fashion, goes by a Runner name, Owl. Owl is not your typical decker. He did not grow up on the streets, carefully honing his craft in situations where failure would mean death. Nor is he a former employee of a major corporation with all the training and knowledge that it implies. Owl was just a bored kid who thought he would make a good Runner.
Okay, ‘kid’ might be a little of a stretch since Owl was in his early 20’s, but his behavior was certainly more child-like. Owl grew up in the closest Shadowrun-world equivalent of the suburbs to a fairly well-to-do family. He had been doted on all his life by a loving mother and spent most of his days playing VR-games (he was the primary tank of one of the biggest raiding guilds in the MMO ‘World of Spacecraft’). His time in the Matrix led him to an interest in hacking and he would get into some minor trouble with the law for digging into places he shouldn’t be, though thanks to his family’s money and connections to local law enforcement he never got into any real trouble. This continued until his parents decided it was time for him to get a job. Arrogant from a small amount of reputation he was building online form his hacking exploits, and perhaps a bit delusional from his gaming experiences, Owl decided to become a Runner. He downloaded a VR “Combat-Sim” to learn basic weapon handling and then went looking for Runner work.
He quickly learned some of the harsh realities of Running, specifically that people are really going to be trying to kill you. See, Owl suffered from ‘combat paralysis.’ Whenever the bullets started flying he couldn’t do much more than stand frozen in fear, at least till he finally snapped out of it. When there was no immediate danger he was a competent enough decker (perhaps even a fairly good one), but danger is a major part of a Runner’s life and each of Owl’s adventurers became a test to keep his nerves together until the job was done (after which, he would vomit from the accumulated stress). Of course, he would convince himself that he did a great job and that his fellow Runners needed him and be ready to go again the next day.
No tale of Owl is complete without a recount of the Runners’ ‘hideout’. While fleeing from a train wreck (which is both a literal and figurative description of the last Run), the Runners debated where they could lay low for a while. Owl suggested his mom’s place. For some reason, everyone agreed. Fast forward a few hours and this party of battered Runners are sitting around a dinner table in a family home enjoying homecooked lasagna. And that’s how Owl’s mom’s house became a Runner’s hideout. His mom was just happy to see Owl making some friends, and the group’s doctor made up a story about Owl working as his medical assistant, so she didn’t even question all these strange people coming at all hours. Owl was able to mask their online activities but for the most part their enemies just did not think anyone would be stupid enough to hide out in the open like that.
A couple of other ‘fun facts’ about Owl:
He got along oddly well with “Skarky,” the group’s orc ‘hobo with a shotgun,’ who also happened to be cannibal (though Owl never realized this). Sharky’s lifestyle habits made him uncomfortable indoors, but he had no trouble sleeping on the front lawn.
In the name of infiltrating a cannibal-death-cult, Owl took cooking lessons from his mom. It was the toughest thing he had ever had to do.
Owl was a big fan of old James Bond movies and he would often go into ‘secret agent’ mode by imitating the character.
He had a dating profile on “Okchummer’ to try and get his companions to stop ‘shipping’ him and the group’s rigger.
Due to the wonders of RNG, Owl ended up receiving a fantastic meal from ‘The CEO of Flavor’, an orc who ran a greasy establishment who cooked with two parts roadkill, one part random canned foods, and three parts food poisoning. As the only customer to ever order seconds, The CEO of Flavor grew very fond of Owl, enough to lend Owl his delivery truck for a quick escape. Owl would later risk his life to save the CEO from the aforementioned cannibal-death-cult.
Unfortunately, Owl’s story was never completed because, like many of my favorite campaigns, it went on indefinite hiatus due to a mix scheduling and the players struggling with the system. But I always look back on my time with him with fondness and dream of the day I might again get to play the cocky kid in over his head trying to make it as a Runner.