Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

[Shadowrun] Seattle is a prison

I have been working on a game set in 2050s Seattle lately. So I started to try and understand the setting a bit better to get the feel for it. Which is a bit funny, considering I played the game since the 90s. But this was supposed to be for new players that did not have so much exposure to the setting yet.

And here is something that hit me only after decades of playing: Seattle in Shadowrun is a city state surrounded by foreign lands, and cut off from the rest of the nation it belongs to by at least two international borders.
Seattle has a population of more than 6 million, 2 of which are SINless.
In the 6th world of Shadowrun a SIN is basically the thing that marks you as a citizen, and in a lot of cases as a person. Someone without a SIN does not exist according to most governmental institutions.
A person without a SIN cannot go to school, hold a proper job, pay taxes, open a bank account, get a credit, or even call the police.
They do not even count as casualities when killed, and the police will stop investigating crimes when they find out the person was SINless.
And here we come to the problem for these people: there is no way out of this. They are effectively imprisoned in the citystate of Seattle.
As a SIN is used as proof of citizenship, someone without a SIN is not elegible to cross an international border legally.
Did I mention that Seattle is surrounded by international borders?
Now truth be told, the border there is not the Berlin Wall, and there are lots of examples in Shadowrun fiction about people crossing it comparatively easy. But it still is an international border. A normal person trying to live their live as easy as possible will not think about sneaking through those. They will see the border fence as an insurmountable wall. Sure, runners will go over there twice a day and check back in the evning to see if they left the oven on. But a normal person doesn’t. A normal person without a SIN sees the border and sees a wall they can’t cross.

There are 6-7 million people in this city, and 2-3 million of those can never leave this place.

Just something to think about.

In later editions this gets even worse. In 4th and 5th edition (in the 2070s) everyone has to broadcast a valid SIN constantly, and not doing so is reason for arrest. So all of a sudden these 2 million people are not only limited to Seattle, but also unable to even enter (or work in) places like Downtown, Bellevue, or Tacoma.

Scenario ideas: 

  1. Police for Hire: the police won’t care for the problems of the SINless. In fact they might arrest the SINless instead as it is easier on the paperwork. If a SINless person is murdered and the police doesn’t care, maybe they hire runners for an investigation
  2. Manhunt: A hunting association has taken to the most dangerous game: they are now hunting SINless with impunity. Someone hires the runners to stop that (this in fact is the plot of one of Michael Stackpole’s Wolf and Raven stories)
  3. Sabotage: a landshark wants to gentrify a neighbourhood and force out all the SINless that have been living here for decades. The runners are hired to stop him, somehow. (this one might have shades of the A-team)
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