Saturday, 3 March 2012


Netrunners in Cyberpunk are awesome and boring at the same time.

They are awesome because they have their own little min-ruleset, stuff only they can do, seperate from anyone else. They are boring for the same reason.

My Cyberpunk DM told us that no-one ever plays the netrunner because the game has to stop for everyone else while they do their thing.

I thought there must be a way to make them more interesting. And I was right, it seems like quite a number of people have come up with net-running house-rules to make the whole thing less stressful.

Most of them seem to be simplifications of the existing rules, none of them are what I had in mind. Below are the poorly thought-out houserules I came up with to weave the Netrunner into a Cyberpunk game in an intuitive and direct way without corrupting the central idea of the character and without screwing the difficulty curve too much.


Netrunners are the Solo's of the internet. They use their Interface skill in the same way Solo's use Combat Sense. They add it to all initiative and awareness rolls in a virtual space.


Netrunners can be like Ariel or like Caliban, but not both at the same time. They can move through systems like a spirit, go anywhere, uninterrupted and unconstrained. Or they can be like Caliban and actually do things in the real world. But they have to choose which. If a Netrunner wants to make any material thing happen in the real world then they are inextricably located in that space, they have to stay there while they do it, can be found there and can't move till it's done.

The Magic Key

There is a kind of Magic Key that Netrunners have. Its an actual item, about the size of a packet of cigarettes. It usually looks like a black box, but it can look like almost anything else of the same size.

It affects digital signals. It's impossible to stop because all it does is leave a slight trace in the noosphere that makes it possible for a Netrunner to trace the owner. It also makes it easier for the Netrunner to invade systems that are near the box.

Within 10 meters of a Magic Box any action the Netrunner undertakes involving invading, hacking or corrupting the datasphere can be done as a single dice roll using a skill. Hackers use skills to do things in Cyberspace the same way people use them in normal space. Stealth to sneak around guards, shadow/track to trace people, Elec Security to break in, Pick lock for opening locks in the physical world, Forgery for making fake virtual documents, drive or pilot for driving robot vehicles by remote, knowledge checks for rapidly researching information e.t.c

Owning one of these boxes is highly illegal.


If the PC's have a magic box, and if there is a cybersphere around them (i.e an urbanised area or equivilent) then the Netrunner can assume to be continually present in the area. Listening through phone mikes, peeping through Security cams, traffic cams, even cybereyes in peoples heads, if they are ok with that. You are present but to DO anything (Open a lock, commandeer a cybercar e.t.c) you have to roll.


Public systems have such little protection that they can be broken into without a roll. (It's still illegal to do so and they will fry you if they catch you.) Everything else is protected. There are six levels of protection. 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35, tell the DM how you are breaking in and they will tell you what you need to roll.

Corps, Governments and Individuals will send things after you. Programs, AI's and othe netrunners. They will try and stun you for pickup (if nice), brainfry you, or wipe your personality and replace it with one they like more. (This may have already happened.)

You fight at a distance with the Friday Night Firefight rules. Your guns are programs you buy. (Haven't worked out yet if these are real programs or just use the gun rules re-skinned.) You roll INT to fight at range.

You can fight hand to hand in cyberspace if you are a badass. In this case you can brawl, swordfight e.t.c with enemy programs using your skills and weapons and Martial Arts, if you know them. You roll COOL/WILL nor REF to fight hand to hand.

Can I Find A...

"Can I find a security cam covering the approach?" "Can I find a car with cyber controls and drive it into that guy?" "Can find an electric door and close it on them as they go through?"

Yes, roll LUCK. If you hit, you found it. If you miss maybe you didn't find it, or, if the DM likes, you found what you want but there is a complication. i.e someone found you as well, there is something you have to do or something you have to know first. 

Matthew Lillard was fucking brilliant in that film.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson. In cyberspace everything is modeled after the real world, but badly. Fight, race, whatever, the same skills apply, but the rules differ slightly. The maximum speed is hard-coded, so racing is all about maneuverability and optimal interfaces. Fighting is similar to the real world, but no one feels pain so you have to destroy someones avatar completely to prevent them from fighting on, and you can program whatever outrageous weapons you want. Roll programming to build your tools, then use real world skills to compete.