Owners and Personas


Owners and Personas are the basic objects which a matrix user in SR5 uses to gain access.

When we talk about owners, here, we aren’t necessarily talking about the person who legally owns the device, we are actually talking about a matrix owner, which is defined by the rules as the relationship between a device and an owner.

I like to think of this as the equivalent of website login. It would have a username and password, which could be entered to log in to the account, and to verify ownership of the device. Success, gives the equivalent of 4 marks on the device (but doesn’t actually place any marks).

There is a temptation here to think in terms of identity, and many spectators have assumed that a matrix owner account might be linked to a SIN, biometrics, or some element of the user’s identity.

The reason this can’t be so is that owners don’t need to be people.

A corporation can be the owner of a device, or a shop. It doesn’t need to be a metahuman or individual at all.

If I buy a car or a caravan here in the UK, I would register the item with appropriate database. The administrators would require some type of authentication to prove ownership, usually secure documents of some kind.

If I then sell the item, I would need to provide authentication again, in order to transfer ownership to the new owner. This is why illegally transferring ownership of a device takes so long – you’re illegally hacking the owner databases.

This concept works perfectly well for SR5.

It also allows for a couple, such as husband and wife, to have a joint owner account, for some of their belongings, for example, JohnsonFamilyOwner1.

It also means that a metahuman may have any number of owner accounts, the same way I can create any number of gmail accounts.



When someone uses a device to access the matrix, the device’s icon is replaced by the matrix user’s persona.

Again, I like to think of personas as matrix access accounts, and an owner can have any number of these as well.

Once the owner has been authenticated, there is no need to authenticate the persona, as a persona can only have one owner. However, there is nothing in the rules which says an owner can’t have multiple personas.

So in our example of the couple having a joint owner account, they might have a persona each hanging off the owner account, eg. JohnsonFamilyPersonaJohn and JohnsonFamilyPersonaJane. This way, they could each have their own persona, owned by the joint owner.

There are those who now argue that personas have a concept of identity, and that they might somehow be linked to a SIN, biometrics, etc.

However, this cannot be the case. Agents and IC, as well as other matrix entities, all have their own personas. Since IC and Agents don’t have biometrics, personas can’t have an identity.

Owners Marking Personas

Another issue in this topic is that owners own personas. But only personas may mark icons. So how does an owner get four marks on a device, when only personas can mark devices?

For this to work, we need to assume that when an owner confers its four marks, these are the equivalent to four marks, not actual marks.

This little semantic hack allows us to use the rules as written. YMMV.


This approach to owners and personas is not universal, but does allow the rules to be handled fairly easily.

It allows a single PC to have multiple personas running at any one time (provided they are on different devices of course), which may not be to every GM’s liking. C’est la vie!


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