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Cogs in the Machine


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Posted 18 April 2013 - 04:56 AM

“A comprehensive benefits package, great pay, good coffee, and a key role in developing the strongest and most complex security systems in the world? Yeah, I love my job.”
    –Simone Diego, a Weyland Consortium sysop

The monolithic megacorporations of Android: Netrunner are vast and powerful business conglomerations, broken into myriad divisions and departments, managed by investors and run by committees, under the direction of their boards of directors. Still, even such faceless corporations are built upon the collective labors of their workforces. No corporation can function without the contributions of those individual bioroids, clones, and people it employs, and in Humanity’s Shadow, players are given the chance to acquaint themselves with two of NBN’s and the Weyland Consortium’s best and brightest sysops.

Easier Said Than Done

Sysops in the world of Android: Netrunner are expected not only to manage their servers but to protect them from the criminal efforts of the world’s most talented runners. The larger the corporation for which the sysop works, the greater the stakes involved, and the sysops who work for the game’s megacorporations can count themselves among the most talented and marketable in the world. As a rule, they tend to distinguish themselves by the extra effort they invest in their work, and this means that in the game their abilities are generally active.

In fact, both of the new sysops in Humanity’s Shadow spend long hours at their jobs to ensure their performances go far above and beyond basic maintenance and provide Corp players with customizable new defenses for key servers. But should the intensity of their labors come as any surprise? If Android: Netrunner has taught Corp players anything, it’s that no server is ever entirely safe.

Of course, even if it’s impossible to provide any server with absolute security, it’s still the sysop’s job to confront the vulnerability of her server’s data, and the Weyland Consortium’s Simone Diego (Humanity’s Shadow, 99) comes prepared to do just that. More than any other faction, the Weyland Consortium believes that if its layers of ice are actually worth installing, then when a runner threatens to crack them, they’re worth upgrading, rather than overwriting and trashing them.

Accordingly, the Weyland Consortium has given Simone Diego two renewable credits, and she can use them to advance any card in her server, whether agendas or the various layers of ice that Weyland has designed that can be advanced. Simone’s services aren’t cheap, but the Weyland Consortium sees its investment in her services as an investment in their long-term future. If they’re right, then Simone comes to the corporation as a fantastic bargain, one who can greatly promote the security of a single server’s data and use that server to advance the company’s most important agendas.

On the other hand, while she has also been tasked with the security of her company’s data, NBN’s Bernice Mai (Humanity’s Shadow, 97) is more likely to concede a few battles, here and there, to win the larger war. To that end, she has adapted her server’s defenses to better fit with NBN’s general philosophies – it is better to worry about curing the company of its runner problems than to fight an unending series of digital battles to stop their runs.

Tracing and tagging are at the heart of NBN’s defense protocols, and Bernice Mai excels at both. Any runner who hacks past her server’s ice then risks being tagged and subjected to NBN’s myriad methods of retaliation, such as Closed Accounts (Core Set, 84), Scorched Earth (Core Set, 99), or even subtler forms like Pyschographics (Core Set, 85). While it’s true that the Runner can try to evade the trace, Bernice Mai provides the trace a base strength of “5,” so any Runner who hasn’t invested heavily in link will be looking at investing spontaneously in a very expensive trace attempt or taking a tag and all the potential damages that implies.

Talent Makes the Difference

Android: Netrunner is filled with bleeding edge hardware and programs. Its monolithic megacorporations push forward on multiple agendas simultaneously, employing small fortunes worth of defensive ice to keep out would-be hackers. Meanwhile, those hackers don’t work alone; nearly all runners rely upon outside resources to fund their runs and to gain access to the newest and most powerful icebreakers.

Still, even when it seems the game’s cyberstruggles are faceless contests between vast corporate entities and the digital fingerprints of rigs full of icebreakers, it’s important to remember that talented individuals can make a difference. This may be easiest to recognize among the Runners, who each approach the game differently, but Humanity’s Shadow will soon give you the chance to play with Bernice Mai, Simone Diego, and other unique personalities whose talents will make their mark.






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