World Building: The Datasea and Hackers

Of all the Cyberpunk concepts one of the most iconic is cyberspace. Even cybernetics take a backseat to the way the net defined the genre.

We first talked about the Datasea here.

Glass Shadows ramps up the Net. Here, the Datasea is a ubiquitous, always on, wireless network which permeates all aspects of modern life.  On the surface, the average Datasea user sees both an augmented and virtual reality overlay that provides context to the meat world around them.

Virtual interfaces for communications and storefront displays from which users order single-use fabricator patterns, and even virtual brothels, are commonly available. Diving deeper into the Datasea, the user begins to come across darker things; black market nodes, comm-boards that contain cryptic messages intended for unknown operators, AI-run data havens, and all sorts of fun and nasty little pockets of VR. Literally every technological device in 2112 is Datasea enabled.

The average Datasea diver stays close to the surface, where things are safe. Hackers, on the other hand, almost compulsively dive deep.  So many hackers are the kind of people who just want to know everything and can’t resist a challenge.

The first thing a hacker learns is how to stop paying for Datasea access.  After that, things get interesting.

In addition to their skills in computer systems, bypassing intrusion countermeasures, and tearing through firewalls like tissue paper, hackers can take Boons that allow them to act as a central communications node for their team. The Hacker provides instantaneous communications between Operators without those pesky phone charges, or risk of data recorders.

Hackers can scan the data that an Angel sends to offline storage, allowing them to read a person’s memories and even inject false memories or thoughts.  As a capstone ability, a hacker can even take total control of an Angel and puppet a person through their implant. And you just thought getting that Angel meant always looking up the answers on E-Cyclopedia.

To be the best, a hacker requires a diverse skill set and multiple Boons. Some specialize in one thing, such as communications, or data relays, while others have more diverse but less effective skills. However, the rewards of being a full on, dyed-in-the-wool, hacker are well worth the investment.

Some of the Boons available to Hackers were inspired by this wonderful short film, Sight. In it, a programmer for the company that developed and marketed an Augmented Reality overlay called Sight goes out on a date with a woman, and the date doesn’t in a way either person expected. The film also gives a wonderful example of how VR and AR overlays work.

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