In my opinion the Shadowrun rules for getting equipment are a little bit to vague. So I wrote down my own rules, that should provide clarifications for some aspects of getting equipment. Your comments are most welcome.
Getting equipment through street channels
Generally the basic SRII rules with a few exceptions. The PC rolls an Etiquette(Street) test against the availability of the desired item. At least one success is necessary to get the piece of equipment, additional successes reduce the required time per standard rules. Price = base price x street index. While the runner is waiting for the piece of equipment he has to stay in touch with the dealer, usually through phone calls, eMails, etc. As this costs much time, the PC is free to run, design programs or spells, etc. while waiting. However, he isn't allowed to leave the city, meditate without contact to anybody or do similiar things that can cut off the contact with the dealer. (This rule is especially important for equipment with high availabilities).
Using a fixer (or the soldier connection dealer)
Using a fixer means contacting the fixer who then contacts his many connections who in turn contact their connections etc. till the desired piece of equipment is found. That means the fixer and his connections are doing most of the work, so why should the PC use his Etiquette skill? The only reasonable explanation for this would be that at first he has to convince the fixer to try to get the desired item at all. So the PC rolls Etiquette(Street) (or another appropriate Etiquette skill, depending on the connection) against half the availability of the desired piece of equipment. Only one success is necessary and the fixer is on his way. The fixer now throws a number of dice equal to his Etiquette(Street) skill (plus a number of dice equal to a special skill like Obtain Equipment) against a TN of the availability minus 2 (because of his experience and good connections). One success and he gets the desired item, additional successes can decrease the waiting time per standard rules. Now the fixer has to schedule a meeting with the character, so that the (modified) waiting time is increased by another 2W6 half hours (cf. Legwork). Price = base price x street index plus 20% of this modified price as payment for the fixer. Note that the character must stay in touch with the fixer during the whole process.
Using a corp connection
What corp connections can obtain what kind of equipment (e.g. a corp decker can obtain cyberdecks and programs) is the decision of the GM. No corp connection can get equipment with an availability of 9 or above because that would make their bosses suspicious. Of course there are exceptions: A level 3 contact (Shadowrun Companion p.62) for example is willing to take greater risks for the character, so he would also try to obtain equipment with a availabiltity of up to 10 or even higher (GM's decision) - and a employee of Rolls Royce may(!) even mange to get a Phaeton for the character. The same connection will have big problems getting an Ares Alpha Combat Gun on the other hand. The character must make an Etiquette(Corp) test against half the availability of the desired piece of equipment to persuade the connection to get it. One success is enough. The connection now makes an Etiquette(Corp) test against the availability of the piece of equipment (modified by the GM, e.g. a modificator of -6 would be appropriate if an Ares boss wants a Hold-Out pistol; the legality can also be used as a guideline). One success is needed, additional can reduce the waiting time per standard rules. As it's not easy for the connection to smuggle the ware out of the corp, the (modified) waiting time is increased by another 10% and of course 2W6 half hours. Price = base price + 20% for the connection (no street index is used). The character doesn't have to stay in touch with a corp connection, because that could blow the whole operation.
Getting special equipment (magical, programs, buffalo hides, etc.)
To get special equipment the player can (or must) make a test with another etiquette skill like etiquette(magic, matrix, tribe, etc.). It can happen that a normal fixer or corp connection cannot obtain special equipment, so the player has to use another connection like talismonger, deckmeister, chieftain, etc. to get the piece of equipment. The gamemaster decides which connections are appropriate for which equipment.
Paying more than necessary
For every +25% of the final (already modified) price that are paid extra, the availability decreases one point (but never under 2) and the waiting time is reduced by 10% (this reductions are made before the test against the availability). As a result of this reduction a corp connection can try to get items with a higher availability than 8. The target number of the test to convince a corp connection or a fixer to get the equipment is also decreased by this reduction.
Negotiating about the price
To simplify the process of getting equipment there usually is no negotiating but a player with the negotiation skill can insist to do so. Negotiation is handled per standard SRII rules (also see table in Shadowrun Companion page 71). The GM decides about the connections willpower and negotiation skill. The negotiation is always about the final (already modified by everything) price.
© 1999 by Daniel "Worm" Benkmann