Before we talk about the Player Network lets look at the idea of contacts for a moment.
The idea of trusted allies and contacts is nothing new to role playing or fiction in general. In fiction, contacts don’t sit around just waiting to be called. They have their own lives and stories. These peripheral characters often play much larger parts in the overall tale. In some stories, the entire focus may be constantly shifting based on whose skills or story is needed at the time. In role playing games, though, players rarely like to be upstaged or have the spotlight removed from them, and so contacts become marginalized. In many games, a character’s contacts are pushed to the side as just another resource and not treated as fully realized characters. The Player Network both pays homage to its storytelling roots and opens the possibility for players to take on any number of roles, constantly engaging the story.
The idea behind the network is a simple one. In almost every Cyberpunk world you need specialists. By definition, a single character can’t be a specialist in every field so they have a network of contacts to help get jobs done. In transitional role playing games, this meant that each player has a character with a different role to build a balanced team. The Network is a web of interrelated characters some acquaintances, others close contacts that an actor, the person pulling the strings behind the scene, can bring together for a given job.
Players might take on two or three roles through the course of a story, each with their own motivations and agendas. Some characters may only have a fragment of information, or may not even be aware of the larger job at hand. This allows players to constantly stay engaged in a story, eliminates awkward scenes where one PC may struggle to find a purpose or be completely pushed off camera, and provides new facets to explore adding texture to each story.
Not every story is going to use every Operator in the Player Network. Each job, each story, has it’s own unique set up and needs and the Network gives control of how things get done to the players. Why would you bring a Frame Pilot on a raid of a computer lab? Call in a favor from a doctor at a Bastard Farm and have him send you a Drone operator. Players explore both multiple relationships and new adventures that a traditional team of Operators may have never been qualified for.
Welcome to the Network.