The Net

NET Mechanics NET Content GM Notes Decking
Architecture Terminals Security History
GM Notes
Of course, pretty much all GM's and players know what the CyberSpace is supposed to be, at least vaguely. We've seen representations of the basic idea before in movies like Johnny Mnemonic, The 13th Floor, The Cell, and peripherally the Matrix movies. Some of us have read about different takes on the net in the original literary sources. Others of us with a roleplaying background have played Cyberpunk 2020, Shadowrun, and similar games.
Different spins take different tacts, but the basic idea is easily understandable. Combine something like the World Wide Web (WWW) of the real world and a videogame with graphics so real that suspension of disbelief is very high, and there you go. An interactive, anthropomorphic, submersive skinning of the normally dry subject of data, programming, and network protocols. That's what CyberSpace is supposed to be like; a Virtual Reality almost as meaningful and rich as the "Meat Reality" of "real life".
In literary and cinematic settings the dual existence of characters in the physical and virtual realities allows for interesting storytelling, and the idea of a world spanning network with practically global access was a mind expanding idea back when the genre of Cyberpunk was first explored. RPG's that followed in this wake dutifully included complex rules for including a separate CyberSpace reality, called different things but fundamentally rooted in the same idea.
Unfortunately, the way CyberSpace was represented in most games introduced a fundamental problem in that they basically required that all the characters in a PC group have some ability to participate in CyberSpace based adventures (which seldom makes sense even within the context of the setting), or else cause gameplay to fracture into two seperate games that happened to intersect occassionally.
While this works in a literary or cinematic medium where the author or director can control flow and pacing and contrive parallelism, it seldom works as well in a roleplaying game where many elements of the events in play are not entirely under the GM's control.
Further, while the idea of a seperate reality "inside the computer" with many fantastical and wish-fulfillment properties provides literary opportunities for polarity contrasts in pursuit of an engaging and thought provoking experience, this does not always work for extended periods of roleplaying. Additionally it is also very easy for the two nearly incompatible realities to detract from each other, to dillute each other, to soften the impact of the more extreme aspects of both.
The approach taken in the MetaCyber setting is to encourage / push Hackers to stay with non-Hackers on runs, and to make it so that Hacker actions taken via the NET can be resolved concurrently with actions taken by characters in the physical world.
The Programmatic approach to Hacking is more direct and closer to bare metal, and is resolved with skill rolls. It is a straightfoward process of a series of resisted skill rolls. A real Hacker is a highly skilled programmer, not some twit with a fancy piece of hardware. On the other hand, though this is direct and simple, it can seem dry and mechanical to some players.
Thus, it is recognized that for some the idea of an immersive virtual reality is part and parcel of their concept of cyberpunk, and thus the more typical immersive VR experience is presented in the form of the NET. Any character can interact in the NET, and thus no player need be left behind if the GM includes virtual facets in the campaign. Further, allowances have been made to facilitate a character that chooses to specializes in running the NET to be recognizably better at it than characters that have focused on other things, thus protecting the "Decker" role.
Put simply, you can use either or both styles within your campaign. It is assumed that both are available, but you could go so far as to eliminate one or the other if you prefer. And of course, you can also not use either style and supplement the material with your preferred style of handling VR. It's all good.
Either way, whether a particular campaign favors the more direct or the more immersive approach, to maintain the intended MetaCyber tone focus should be maintained on the grim and gritty action-adventure aspects of Runs rather than on more fantastical or literary interpretations which the format might lend itself to.
The main point is that the NET is a side show in MetaCyber as presented. It exists, it has it's place and is part of the fabric of the setting, but it is not the primary focus.