In the world of cyberpunk edge runners, everyone can be who they want to be and do what they want thanks to Cyberware implants. Whether it’s artificial organs and synthetic muscles that can help you perform superhuman feats or the latest custom limbs with all sorts of weaponry installed so you can destroy anything that stands in your way. Cyberware can help you achieve all of this, for a price. However, since countless residents of Night City can only survive by committing violent crimes, the most popular route would be to obtain bigger and more powerful cyberware. To be someone who can destroy another man with a single punch.
That being said, there is another route some people may take. They focus on improving their cyber brain rather than their body. This allows them to get much more lucrative jobs than your regular cyberpunks. They are called Netrunners. They can access your bank account or steal top secret information from Mega Corporations. However, at the same time, being a Netrunner is also one of the most dangerous jobs in Night City.
What is a netrunner
The overwhelming majority of people who live in the world of cyberpunk edge runners have some kind of cyber-brain installed. That’s why there are hardly any computers or smartphones, as we know them today, there. After all, why do you need such devices when you can just access all this information and features with your cyber brain. From phone calls to any type of financial transaction, you can do it all just by thinking about it. You will be able to see the information in the form of augmented reality which is only visible to you.
Netrunner is the kind of people trained to handle cyber brain and any other kind of electronic devices. So, in a nutshell, Netrunner is kind of like the supercharged version of the hacker we know today. For electronic devices, such as electric cars or assault drones, they can take control of them and use them as they see fit. As for cyber brains, well, once a Netrunner has access to your cyber brain, they can alter your bodily functions, such as vision or limbs, they can steal information from you or they can also fry your brain.
Different Roles of a Netrunner
Because a Netrunner has a very specific and in-demand skill set, there’s actually a lot they can do. However, most of them can be summarized into three main categories. They can act as a frontliner, support or information broker. Moreover, they can also play a hybrid role depending on the task at hand.
On the front line, they will actively fight side by side with their teammates. The way they fight usually involves frying the brains of their opponents or taking control of their assault drones. Netrunners rarely take on these roles because it exposes them to the risk they usually avoid. That being said, most netrunners are equipped to fight on the front lines so they can survive if things suddenly turn sour.
Netrunners specialize in information mining, so an information broker role suits them pretty well. They usually extract information from high-level corporate executives, or even from the company itself. And as a broker, they simply sell the information or data they have obtained to the highest bidder, but especially to repairers.
For the majority of Netrunners in Night City, their most common job is to support their team. The netrunners will do the initial preparation, usually based on the information they got from the repairman, then they will also accompany their team on the mission and provide active on-site support, such as disabling security, monitoring for any threats activity, etc.
The danger of being a netrunner
As you can see from previous sections, Netrunners is easily one of the most versatile jobs in Night City. But at the same time, there is inherent risk and danger in being a netrunner. After all, Netrunner itself is already a niche business, so being an excellent netrunner will quickly put your name in the limelight, as well as on the watchlists of many unsavory people.
This alone will put tons of danger on a netrunner’s name. However, the greatest danger a netrunner could face is certainly during their deep dive. Because while they can perform most of their feats wirelessly, some things still require a netrunner to plug a real cable into their cyberbrain and connect it to their target.
This is usually the case if they want high-level information from certain people. And if they want to take a deep dive into the servers of a Mega Corporations, a netrunner needs a special platform to support them. Because during this deep dive, their body temperature can rise rapidly, so they need to cool it down. There’s a specialized, expensive rig for this, but for netrunners on a budget, an ice-filled tub should do the trick.
However, while plugging the external cable into their enhanced cyber-brain and performing a deep dive is practically a netrunner in its most powerful form, it is also their most vulnerable state. Because that’s the only time their mind, or rather their consciousness, is separated from their body. This means that if anything were to happen to their body, their mind would have no place to return to. Similarly, if their mind is attacked by something like a virus during a deep dive, then all that’s left is their limp, lifeless body.
This is why netrunners usually have their trusted partners with them to monitor their condition during a deep dive. Otherwise, a small accident is enough to destroy their body or their brain. No other employment in Cyberpunk edge runner has those kinds of inherent risks, and that’s why netrunner is one of the most dangerous jobs in Night City.
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