After their first run, my group wondered why the cash rewards table in SR5 incentivizes turning the run into a total cluster. As written, the table mostly gives rewards for getting into fights; if you ghost the mission, getting in and out with the objective and no one the wiser, you get paid very little. It seems like that should actually get you paid quite well indeed.

By my count, the current table should give rewards from 3k¥-40k¥ base, plus 100¥-1300¥ per negotiation hit, so this hack tries to stay in a similar range (but see the notes about increasing rewards).

Setting Up a ‘Run

During negotiations, the Johnson should outline which elements from the table he thinks the runners are likely to encounter. This sets the minimum agreed upon payment (i.e., you can go ahead and add up those numbers including negotiation hits and state “I’ll pay you X”). As a GM, figure out the Johnson’s actual agenda and level of knowledge; assuming he plans to deal fairly, it’s in his interests to try to figure out exactly what the group will encounter and no more. If he tells them something might be an issue and it isn’t, he may overpay. But if he leaves out something, he may pay more for it.

After the run, total up what actually happened (according to what the players encountered), and how much the chart says that was worth. The runners are generally expected to demand double the difference as additional pay. This might be reduced to only 1.5 times the difference if the Johnson gave them at least a week and it was reasonable that they could do research on their own. If the Johnson pitched the entire project as knowing very little, and gave them at least two weeks to investigate and plan the run, this is reduced to just the difference (i.e., he only has to pay what the actual chart total suggests), but what kind of Johnson wants to appear that ignorant? Meanwhile, if the Johnson gave them a last second offer and claimed to have all the information for them, nobody would argue if the ‘runners demand three times the difference.

For example, after negotiating and hearing the basic terms, a run works out to be worth 4,000¥ a piece. But after the mission, the chart suggests what they actually did should be worth 6,000¥.

  • Under normal circumstances, they should expect to demand 8,000¥ (the 4k base plus doubling the 2k difference between expectation and actuality).
  • If they had a week to investigate and mitigate their risk, they can demand 7,000¥.
  • If they were told explicitly that the Johnson didn’t know much and had two weeks to prep, the 6,000¥ suggested by the chart is what they get.
  • If the Johnson sent them in blind and in a rush, they can actually demand 10,000¥.

Expenses and Increasing Rewards

It probably makes sense to let the runners charge an extra share for expenses (i.e., act as if there’s an extra member of the team when payment is determined). Runners who regularly give the Johnson an itemized list and stay under the their expense budget (i.e., accept only enough of the expenses share to cover actual expenses) probably deserve a reputation bump.

The standard reward range generally only pays out 10k¥-20k¥. This leads to forum advice that players should never expect to have any serious ‘ware other than what was bought in chargen, because the difference between actual payments and the money you can start with at a high priority is so great. If you want your players to actually plan to buy upgrades of value, particularly if you play infrequently and/or have long lifestyle-cost-heavy downtimes, you should double, triple, or even quadruple the standard rewards.

The Chart

Base Cost: 1,500¥ + 50¥ per negotiation hit

Situational Modifiers

Average opposing Dice Pool +(Dice Pool/3)
Highest opposing Dice Pool +(Dice Pool/6)
Could easily be outnumbered three to one in a combat situation +1
Could easily be outnumbered (any amount) by critters +1
Target has at least three non-watcher spirits +1
Target has easy access to non-internal security (e.g., Lone Star or Knight Errant) +1
Run risks public exposure or raised profile as natural part of the run +1
Run brings runners into direct contact with a notably dangerous part or element of Sixth World lore +1
Run is out of town or otherwise far from known resources and escape routes +1
Run is way out of town (i.e., severe logistics and escape issues) +1

Final Multipliers

Standard Ethics +0%
Cold Hearted +20%
Good Feelings -20%
Standard Run +0%
No non-target deaths or major property damage
(target is less likely to make a big deal about the crime)
Runners were not identified in any obvious way
(much harder to trace the crime back to the Johnson)
“Ghosted” the Run
(target may not even discover that a crime was committed for some time)
Deaths of non-security personnel
(anyone died other that those that were paid for the possibility)
Deaths of significant asset
(not including actual targets; i.e., someone died that was important enough to attempt vengeance)
Significant property damage
(targets may try for revenge just to recoup infrastructure costs)
Runners left significant clues as to their identities and those of their employer -10%

All modifiers and multipliers are cumulative.


  • The group is hired to steal some paydata.
    • The Johnson expects that the target mostly employs scrubs (+1 for average die pool less than six) but has a couple of skilled guards (+2 for a highest die pool around 12). There are potentially a lot of the scrubs, so the ‘runners could easily get outnumbered three-to-one (+1). He makes all this clear to the group, and (after three hits on the negotiation), offers them 6,600¥ a piece (plus the same as an expense budget).
    • What he left out was that the the targets had been beefing up their mystic security, and they had a pack of Hellhounds (+1) and several spirits (+1); and those actually brought up the average opponent dice pool to over six (+1 beyond the expected). Despite this, the group took the extra time to do it without deaths or major damage (+10%) and without being identified (+10%). They count up that they were actually owed 13,860¥
    • Since that’s a difference of 7,260¥ from what they were told, they actually demand 21,120¥ a piece. Maybe next time, the Johnson will give them more time to plan, and try to do some more legwork on his own first.
  • Another group is hired for some wetwork.
    • The Johnson expects them to sneak in and take out a high profile target. If they do it right, they’ll get the 12-die-pool target alone and have few other encounters (12 average and highest pool for a total +6). The target has mage backup, so the Johnson warns of spirits (+1) and the possibility of a call to Knight Errant (+1). This is a Cold Hearted run (+20%), and the Johnson expects them to get in and out with only the target dead (+10%) and without being identified (+10%). For all this, and with three hits on negotiation, the Johnson expects to pay 18,480¥ a piece.
    • What actually happens is that the group screws up and Knight Errant shows up. They wind up lowering the average die pool they fight (just because they fight so much Knight Errant backup) to 9 (-1 to average threat), but they do manage to have to take out a 16-die lieutenant (+1 to highest threat). They’re certainly outnumbered three-to-one (+1), risk public exposure (+1), wind up doing significant deaths and property damage (-30%, plus the loss of the 20% from the expectation of not doing that or getting identified). At least they get the target. When counted up, they were actually only owed 11,550¥ a piece.
    • The Johnson grudgingly pays out the 18,480¥ he promised, since they did at least complete the job, but resolves to never work with this crew again.