Runners are characters who are on the run from one or more Fears and their servants. Most Runners are loners (called "neutral runners") who want nothing to do with the supernatural, such as Agnes Day, but some are concerned with actually fighting the Fears ("positive" or "benevolent" runners). Very few of them have any prior knowledge of the Fears before they become a target and only realize they are in danger when it's far too late.
Life of a Runner
At first, most Runners remain in denial of the supernatural forces stalking them, dismissing them as peculiar but still explainable events until their lives are put in danger. Once they accept the severity of their situation, a Runner will abandon their former lives to avoid being killed or to protect their loved ones from being harmed by The Fears while trying to get to them. The majority of their lives from that point forward will be spent on moving from town to town, essentially becoming vagrants wandering the Earth. While rare, some Runners will be lucky enough to have The Fears stop following them due to unknown circumstances. When this happens a Runner will usually attempt to return to a normal life until The Fears start chasing them once again, forcing them to resume a life on the run.
Many inexperienced Runners will form small groups to ensure a better chance of survival. These partnerships rarely succeed, mostly because they tend to get killed off by the Fear(s) chasing them or betrayed by a servant that infiltrated their ranks. More hardened Runners avoid unnecessary contact with other people out of paranoia, but will make some exceptions if it benefits them in some way.
Servants will sometimes leave clues for Runners to put together, either about their past, the location of a missing loved one, or the truth about a past event that was meant to be resolved. Some servants, such as Jester and The Faceless Bastard, derive sadistic pleasure from tormenting Runners, while others simply carry out their master's orders with no personal vendetta against them. Others may even pity the Runner they are stalking to a certain extent because they experienced similar misfortunes before entering servitude. Servants also occasionally place listening devices in a Runner's home so they can observe their actions from afar and learn valuable information.
There appears to be a loose-knit running community, such as the informational blog run by Proxiehunter called The Most Dangerous Game, where some Runners help others. It is not known how connected the community of Runners is, but they are usually seen setting up meetings with one another by commenting on each other's blogs.
Symbols and Terminology
In some circles, Runners have established their own terminologies and symbols in order to help one another or warn of potential danger, much like hobos signs in real life. However, due to the uncoordinated nature of most parts of the Runner community, it is very easy for members to misunderstand or be completely oblivious of the meaning behind certain phrases or signs, resulting in them accidentally putting themselves in danger. Fortunately, some symbols are so ingrained in Runner "culture" that most people immediately recognize what they represent.
Secret "safe houses" that provide Runners with shelter, supplies and medical attention do exist, but are typically under constant threat of being attacked or sabotaged by servants living in the area.
The Code of Abacab
Certain sections of the Runner community adhere to a code of conduct to look out for their best interests. Most of these rules revolve around interaction between other Runners and survival. The most famous form of etiquette is The Code of Abacab created by Scarecrow, one of the most highly respected leaders in the entire community. The code was originally described in the blog The Book of Cant and was referenced in Tale of the Vikings. Like most of the terms invented by Scarecrow, the name is derived from music, specifically the Genisis album Abacab.
The rules of the Code of Abacab are as follows:
- Subjects should maintain mutual respect.
- Subjects should respect the deceased in accordance to personal background, even to those under the influence of Fossils.
- Subjects should not approach those under the influence of Fossils unless explicitly provoked.
- If suitable shelter and/or sustenance is discovered, subjects should check for and respect boundaries.
- Subjects should, for sake of clarity, avoid using graffiti for sake of gang symbols.
- Subjects should respect territorial laws.
- Subjects should take caution at all times.
- Subjects should avoid online interaction