The Stray Dogs
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The Stray Dogs
Never get between a Dog and its meal
“It’s a dog-eat-dog kind of world. If you wanna eat, you gotta be a Dog.” ‎‎                   — mensch.frame, Stray Dog referent.
stray
Character art by Joi Rudin.

Any runner that doesn’t fit in with any other faction is labeled a Stray Dog, whether they want to or not. Although some runners are Strays from the beginning of their careers, most of them are runners who used to be part of other factions and decided to go solo for some reason. This is why most Stray Dogs are older, more experienced runners.

Having no allegiance means they are more flexible with what they are capable and willing to do, but being a jack of all trades means that they are also masters of none. They are more versatile than any other faction and thus feel like the most balanced one. This also means they miss out on the bonuses and perks of being part of specialized organizations. Personality-wise, Strays have no problem with expressing themselves however they like.

United by a work philosophy, Strays are free to be who they feel they are.

Stray Dogs are loners by nature, but they are also known to cooperate amongst themselves, as long as their interests do not conflict. Whenever Strays choose to socialize, they like to hang with others who share their creed of profit and self-reliance, both physically in bars and pubs favored by mercenary runners, and virtually in dedicated forums, servers, and chatrooms. Many of the younger Strays like to frequent these places in order to get advice from more experienced Strays who don’t really see the young Pups as serious competition. A digital booklet called “The Cryptorunner’s Pocket Guide” written by a legendary Stray Dog has circulated in recent years. The text seems to be directed to young runners who are starting out, although it is believed it was written for someone in particular and it simply went viral.

Strays are mainly interested in being the best at what they do and cashing in the biggest contracts.

Some are driven by a desire to reach the almost mythical status of the few runners who lived long enough to retire. Others actually have families they need to support. More than a few are wanted by enough adversaries that they need to stay off the grid and have as few connections as possible. Some hardcore Strays who are wanted by authorities, corporations, and even factions alike are homeless by choice, making use of public networks to blend with the crowds and attract as little attention as possible. Some call these Strays Ronin Runners. Still, they all try to get the most important and best-paid gigs, each in its own fashion, but true to the competitive spirit of the Stray Dogs.

Because each Stray is mostly on its own, their equipment is usually not as sophisticated or new as the runners from other factions typically have. Most factions have people dedicated to developing hardware and software for their special needs. Strays have no such luxury and they depend on whatever they can get on the secondary market, what they can scavenge and what they can steal. There is a quite lively market of specialists who work mostly with Stray Dogs retrofitting and adapting whatever equipment they have, turning odds and ends into somewhat cohesive gear. This is why most Stray Dog equipment and gear seems to be heavily worn, beaten, and sometimes rusted. If the gear was stolen from some group and has any recognizable logos, Strays usually vandalize them in some way, mocking the original owners.

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The Cyphers