|For the first time, mankind bore witness to the birth of a new universe. This new universe, Cyberspace, encompasses every electronic communications system in the empire. As the need for speedy and current information increased, computer systems were tied together through the empire's massive telecommunications systems. The "Aladdin's Lamp" of DNI, Direct Neural Interface, created a symbiosis of man and machine and the Net was born. The advent of FTL communications tied all of the individual Nets throughout the empire into one massive Imperial Net.|
In the Cyber Hero universe, the Net is the vast Communications Network that ties all of the empire's computers together via telephone lines, cellular phone bands, microwaves, satellites, radio waves, and FTL communicators. By using the modern version of a modem, a DNI Excursion Controller, and a cyberdeck, anyone can travel the Net. The cyberdeck translates this electronic universe into sensory perceptions or an electronic terrain which can be navigated by throught alone. The Net is more than a virtual reality; the Net is reality. The cyberdeck allows the disembodied consciousness of the Netrunner to travel and explore Cyberspace at the speed of light within solar systems and faster than light when travelling to other solar systems via FTL communicators.
The Net consists of a collection of fundamental hardware and software building blocks. The Netrunner uses a cyberdeck (the hardware) to run his Persona and programs and to keep his data (the softwarE). The cyberdeck is connected through the Comlink (the hardware) to a Node (which is represented by software running on the local node hardware). All of the components are necessary to make up a fully functional Net.
The technology that makes Netrunning possible is generally known as the cyberdeck. The cyberdeck's most prominent features are: the connections from the deck to the user, the link from the deck to the Comgrid, and a small computer, designed to establish the basic link into the Net.
Personas represent three types of things on the Net: preprogrammed independent software with a specific set of goals and tasks (known as Golems), independent software with free will (known as AIs) and the netrunner's presence on the Net. Although all are technically Personas, they are usually referred to simply as Golems, AIs and Personas.
Player Characters project their consciousness into the Net through their cyberdeck. In the Net, a Player Character is represented by special software called a Persona. In the Net, a Persona acts much like a normal Hero System character. A Persona can move from place to place, interact with other software (including other Personas), engage in combat, and just about anything else a regular character can do in the real world.
The characteristics of the Persona are based on those of the Player Character, the cyberdeck, and the Persona program. The INT, EGO and Skills of the Persona are equivalent to the Player Character's EGO and Skills. The remaining characteristics are based on the Persona program. The Persona program may also have Skills, Talents, Perks, Powers, and Disadvantages in addition to those of the Player Character.
Artificial Intelligences (AIs) are self directed Personas. AIs can modify their behavior to react to changing circumstances. AIs can be as simple as an expert system to advise on playing the stock market, or as complex as a complete free-willed personality, indistinguishable from a netrunner's Persona.
Programs are software designed to execute a specific task. Most programs are simple and perfrom repetitive tasks such as generating reports from databases or moving data systems and Intrusion Countermeasures (IC), are very flexible and can react to changes in their environment without outside intervention. Regardless of a programs complexity, they react according to their programmed instructions.
Data is the raw material of the Net. Data can include anything from secret corporate financial records to the latest home-grown game. Programs can move, copy, change, or destroy data easily - if they can get access to it.
The Comgrid is the environment that makes up the Net. It is a complex telecommunications network of nodes connected by data paths. The Comgrid binds the empire in a web of information. In a series of ever more complex networks, it connects the bank where you keep your account to the fast food shop where you buy your food. Almost every computing device in the empire is connected to the Comgrid in one form or another.
Data paths are the roads and highways connecting the nodes in the net. Programs and data can move along a data path from one node to another at tremendous speeds, one node per phase in planetary systems; slower if hoping from one node to another on another planet or moon, and much longer (1 parsec per hour) if hoping from one solar system to another. Programs can't perform any functions while on a data path, there is no computer there for them to run on. Programs and data simply queue up in one node at one end of a data path, and one phase later they appear in the node at the other end (longer for interplanetary or interstellar hops).
Each node represents a single logical computer network. The local organization of this local network is represented by a series of rooms within the structure of the node. These rooms are drawn just like any other building with rooms, walls, corridors, and doors. These rooms contain the data and programs of the node. The rooms are the environment where Personas and programs interact, just like characters interact outside of the Net. Each room in the node broadcasts a "view" to all programs in the room. The view can make the room resemble anything, from a squeaky clean office to a dirty western saloon. A cyberdeck is a node on the Comgrid.
The trace is the link through the data paths of the Comgrid between the Netrunner and his Persona. Think of the trace as a set of digital puppet strings. If the data path the trace is on is ever broken, the Netrunner loses control of the Persona and jacks out the hard way. But, enemy IC can follow a Netrunner's trace back to his deck and put him in a whole world of hurt.