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The Net (also commonly referred to as Cyberspace) is the name given to the vast telecommunications network of the Cyberpunk universe. It is analogous to the real world Internet (which was still in its infancy at the time Cyberpunk 2020 came out), but much more extensive, including things like appliances and even cybernetic limbs. The Net is made of up of hard lines, radio links, cell networks, microwave transmitters and anything else that can transmit information from one computer to another.

Access to the Net requires a modem of some kind. It is possible to use the Net the way we use the Internet in real life; with a computer or terminal, keyboard, and video display (also called Vidboards). But the professionals experience the Net in 3 dimensions, using a complex cybernetic interface called a cybermodem. People who use cybermodems are called Netrunners. A cybermodem provides an experience that is much more immersive and intuitive than the traditional keyboard/computer interface. This allows Netrunners to react far faster than would ever be possible with a keyboard.

Using the Net in anything more than the most rudimentary ways requires a cybermodem (sometimes called Cyberdecks) You do not necessarily need interface plugs installed in your head to use a cybermodem though. There are also options for electrodes or even 2D displays with a keyboard. But actual netrunners will always use plugs, because actual cybernetic connections wired to your brain ensure the very fastest reaction times. And in the Net, speed matters. A lot.

To refer to the net from before the DataKrash of 2022, Old NET is often used, while the one after the Blackwall was added is usually called simply the Net, or the Shallow Net, which mostly consists of NET Architectures and Data Pools.[1]

Database Entry (2077)[]



After the DataKrash, only fragments of the worldwide Net were able to be salvaged – an archipelago of algorithms and code separated by treacherous abysses of nothingness.

Just because you know how to surf the Net, doesn't mean you're an experienced diver in the fluctuating streams of pure, fluid data beaming directly into your brain.

In order to enter cyberspace, you need a SynthTech interface, external support (especially for the first time), a secure BBS and a lot of luck. Netrunners who can navigate the deep Net are mostly interested in accessing corporate data fortresses – others try to gain entry into older, defunct systems or even break through the Blackwall.[2]


An icon is basically a 3D avatar a person can control to interact with other stuff (people, programs etc.) in the Net. Icons can be as simple as a flat 2D monochrome shape, to a complex photorealistic human form. Everything in the Net is represented with icons...Data Fortresses, other Netrunners, individual programs, whatever.

Everything in the Net is rendered in three dimensions. The interface program in the cybermodem will interpret the Net for the Netrunner. Most of the Net environment is similar to the movie Tron, but the quality of the rendering depends on available bandwidth and memory. It is possible to render a completely realistic environment, similar to the movie The Matrix. More complex icons require more memory. For this reason, the bulk of the Net uses lower quality icons (like Tron, or present day video games). Things like long distance links (LDLs) will also have icons associated with them.

Programs in the Net have their own icons, and can be customized like anything else. They interact with other icons in intuitive ways that allow almost anyone to become a hacker. For example, a worm program may show an icon like a stylized worm burrow into a data wall and form itself into a doorway allowing access inside the data fort. All people and programs in the Net interact in ways like this.

The 3D interface in the Net is common to all cybermodems. So what you see, is what everyone else sees too. The Net originally had multiple interfaces that people could choose from. The three most popular were Megacity (where everything was rendered to look like 1930s Film Noire), A dungeons and dragons motif, and one that looked like Tron. Eventually the UIs were all consolidated into one, and it is now the standard for everyone. The Tron-like interface is now the default for the Net.

Ihara-Grubb Transformation Algorithms[]

The IG Transformation Algorithms are a core part of the Net experience. They allow the Net to be rendered as an analog to the real world. They extrapolate distances to look similar to realspace. So if a computer is sitting in an office building on the 30th floor running a BBS, and another BBS is 3 blocks away on the ground floor, you will "see" the other BBS, in the Net, as being about 3 blocks distance and 30 floors lower in elevation. Movement in the Net is programmed to feel similar to movement in the real world, and therefore moving around becomes a lot more intuitive. Netrunning is far less cumbersome than the conventional Internet in the real world.

IG Transformation Algorithms govern the way the Net looks in other ways as well. They control how the environment is rendered in real time. For example, if the connection is unstable or there is interference, you may see the landscape morph into mountains that are harder to cross (and if it is bad enough, maybe impossible to cross). Areas of low resistance may be rendered as smooth grid lines. The exact details of the environment will depend on the region (more on that below), but will be similar almost anywhere.

As in the real world, the Net extends to wherever there are computers connected to it.

Data Fortresses[]

A Data Fortress is simply a computer system. It is a 3D representation of that computer within the Net. The specific form the fortress takes depends on the the system in which it is hosted. As with icons, more realistic environments will require more resources (i.e., memory). The default rendering for data fortresses looks like something similar to Tron. But they can be as elaborate and photo-realistically detailed as The Matrix. You could make your data fortress look like a castle, or a cruise ship or a space station. Within the data fortress, the sysop (System Operator, that is, the person in control of the Data Fort) determines what it looks like. The only limitations are the system's own resources.

Data Fortresses have data walls. These represent how hard it is to enter the system. Data wall strength will depend on the amount and quality of resources of the system. There are programs that can penetrate data walls and allow a Netrunner to move through them. All Data Fortresses have code gates (which will be rendered as actual doors, or something similar), which are the normal way of getting inside a system's data walls.

Within the Datafortress, various parts of the system will be rendered in intuitive ways. For example, files may be stored in a locked office (a section of memory in the system) in what looks like an actual filing cabinet. So your icon would open the filing cabinet and take out the you access to the information.

2020 Regions[]

Regions represent large ambiguous sections of the Net that share the same basic virtual. Meaning, what the default environments (often called "Virtuals") look like. The actual boundaries are not fixed though, and can shift all the time for a number of reasons. Mostly it has to do with how much control various governments or influential groups can exert in the area.

Thanks to the IG Transformation Algorithms, Netspace is analogous to real space. Almost like an alternate dimension. The Virtuals for each Region are described below:


This region is controlled mostly by the Central American Federation (CAF) and the Corporations allied with it. It is popular for its black market trade. Atlantis covers the area of realspace associated with the (south) Atlantic ocean, including Central and South America, the entire south Atlantic down almost to the south pole, and the African coast.

Its borders are in constant flux, sometimes by a lot. They can change by 1000 miles in a single day. This is due to the unreliability of its switching stations. Its volatility can sometimes affect Netrunner programs. Its virtual is described as "old fashioned". Some islands have constructed custom virtuals to attract tourists... such as the Caribbean islands.

Robotic looking icons are chic with Atlantis Netrunners. There is little oversight or policing done here. The governments and Corporations that control this area are not very well coordinated, which can make this region very chaotic.

The main Corporations that dominate here (in addition to the CAF government itself) are Arasaka, Orbital Air, R.E.O. Meatwagon, SovOil, and WNS (Worldsat Communications Network).

Major grids include Havana, Panama City, Quito (Ecuador), and Rio.


Pacifica covers all of the Pacific ocean pole to pole, including all of Australia, most of the western half of the NUSA (to Denver, at which point it transitions into the Olympia region), Alaska, Southeast Asia (include Hong Kong and the rest of SE China) and the part of Russia near Alaska. It does not include any of South America, nor does it include Japan (Japan has its own region, called Tokyo/Chiba). Pacifica will sometimes take over parts of Atlantis if the weather is bad.

The Pacifica virtual is probably the best of all the regions on the Net. Its virtual is a stylized version of a real Ocean, with glowing fish shapes and other sea life. Dolphin programs patrol it, cleaning up garbage data...and according to some, tattling on any criminal activity they see. The sky is pleasantly illuminated, without any specific light source. The sky has many hazy overlapping sections of varying hue and brightness. There are two moons in the sky...the lighter one one represents the sun in real time, and the other the regular moon. These can actually be used to keep track of time while in the region. The LDLs in this region are represented with unique abstract art sculptures as icons, and where the LDL leads can be known simply from the sculpture representing it.

The city grids hover above the water on tiles or planks. The default architecture resembles a modern stylized version of floating ruins will columns and balustrades. The surface geometry of all of the buildings is reflective and smooth. Unlike the default elevation rendering that accompanies areas of low bandwidth in the form of mountains, the Pacifica virtual renders these areas instead as dark and ominous. An area of little or no transmission will appear to have hurricane like conditions, with a black and red sky and massive choppy waves in the water.

Control is not as uniform as other regions of the Net. The region is so large that different groups exert different levels of control over the region. The eastern part is dominated largely by the American West Coast, and the larger corporations based there. They also control Hawaii and Alaska as well. The NUSA government and France share control of the middle of the ocean on various islands. The South and Southwest portion of the region are jointly controlled by the Australian and New Zealand governments. The Western portion of the region is controlled by the FACS (Far Asian Co-prosperity Sphere), and the Japanese Zaibatsus.

NetWatch has a strong presence in Pacifica, and Magnificent Curtis (their leader here) is something of a celebrity. Unlike the rest of the Net, the Pacifica branch of Netwatch is actually very even handed and fair. Magnificent Curtis is very strict about how the organization is run, and careful to make sure all laws are followed.

Major grids include the Antarctic relay station,(controlled by the EU/UN), Jakarta and Manilla, Galopogos Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, and various NUSA domains (Honolulu for example).


The Olympia region spans almost all of the western NUS, and part of the Central NUS, and includes the portion of Canada directly above these areas of the NUSA. The Olympia virtual is themed on modern skyscrapers, with a heavy corporate feel to it. The skyscrapers have no foundations. Instead they float in mid-"air", and there is a mirror version of the Skyscraper on the bottom side. The "gravity" in the virtual is relative to whatever side you are on. So "down" is always in the direction of the building foundation. There is a sun, which is bright without being blinding, and clouds in the infinite expanse of blue sky. Communication lines are rendered as cannot see the people on the "bottom" of the catwalk unless you reverse your polarity and switch "down" to "up". Rache Bartmoss once made a program that would allow him to walk on the "edge" and see both sides at once, but this is not something normal people can do without a specialized program like he had.

The infrastructure in Olympia is high quality, so the environment is typically smooth and calm. If bandwidth is affect by weather or other things, the "sidewalks" will appear to fracture, and eventually become impassable.

Olympia is known for a heavy Corporate influence. Most major cities are dominated by a single large corporation. Orbital Air controls Denver for example. For this reason, NetWatch has a limited presence here. This makes it relatively easy to evade the police/security, as Corporate Net Cops will not be able to pursue you to neighboring cities. At least not normally. Kind of like those movies where the bad guys cross the county line and the cops can't go after them.

City Grid Corporation in Control
Alburqueque NM Militech
Bizmarck ND None (City/State control)
Boise ID None (Netwatch)
Calgary Petrochem
Dallas TX Net54
Denver CO Orbital Air
El Paso TX Republic West Oil
Grand Prairie MT Montana Agribuisiness Concern
Houston TX Worldsat
Las Vegas NV DMS
New Galveston TX Merril, Asukaga & Finch
Phoenix AZ Netlink Software
Reno NV Arasaka
Salt Lake City UT Militech
San Antonio TX Bronleigh Development

This table lists the major corporations and major city grids in this region.

Netwatch has a weak presence in this region, due to the fact that the corporations have little tolerance for their antics. Netwatch runners are treated no differently by Corporate Net Security than anyone else. The Nevada "branch" of Netwatch has gone a step further, openly mocking Netwatch as a whole. Called "Notwatch" (yes, that's the official spelling), they keep the peace while at the same time letting people generally do what they want. This includes a lot of "illegal" activity. As long as you are not making a mess or attacking people, they will leave you alone. This is an area that heavily relies on tourism, and lots of Black ICE flying around tends to scare off tourists. Even the USPG and the real Netwatch are allowed here. But Notwatch drops the hammer hard if they try to pull anything or harass people.


Japan has such a concentrated high tech population, that it has its own region separate from Pacifica. Due to its density, the virtual in this region cuts normal view distance in half or even by 75% (bandwidth limitations). The virtual is full of stylized Bamboo which casts "shadows" that are light, and get more intricate and brighter the closer you look at them.

This is a Zaibatsu playground. The Far Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere (FACS) is an independent board that controls this region, in theory. In practice, the Zaibatsu ignore them and do whatever they want anyway. Arasaka has defacto control over this region for that reason. The FACS Netrunners are openly hostile to foreign Netrunners. Resisting them or retaliating against them will get you on the shit list of the Zaibatsu. A lot of Netrunners come here anyway, because in the Cyberpunk world, Americans love anything Japanese. Japanese culture (including its products) are highly coveted.

All of the corporations that dominate this area are Japanese, except for Disney. Major corporations include Arasaka, FACS, Disney, Kenjiri Technologies, Kiroshi (Kiroshi Cybernetics Inc). The FACS has made a lot of enemies on the mainland due to their expansionist agenda on the Net, so terrorists are common in this region as well.

Major grids include Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, And several large BBSs that are analogous to cities.


This region encompasses all of Europe (the EU is called the "EC" in Cyberpunk), from the Atlantic to the Soviet Union, from the north tip of Africa to the Arctic. The Eurotheater virtual is an idealized version of their real life culture(s). Lots of globes, high art, Roman columns, and outer space motifs, projecting an air of opulence. They like straight lines and organization. Their dataforts are carefully sculpted to look like works of art. The infrastructure is generally advanced and well maintained, so you will never see "mountains" (areas of low bandwidth) except in Britain, The northern part of central Europe, or North Africa. You can often see three times farther in this region than in other regions because of this.

Unlike the Australians, Europeans in the Cyberpunk world look down their noses at Americans and American culture. Their view of Americans ranges from condescending chauvinism to barely concealed contempt. They are haughty and arrogant, even with each other, but especially with Americans. American accomplishments are downplayed or ignored. Net security is very rigid and authoritarian, though not oppressive. The Eurotheater is the major economic power in the world, eclipsing even the Japanese, and there is a lot of (legitimate) economic activity in their region of the Net.

Major Corporations include Biotechnica and EBM. Netwatch has a very strong presence here, to the point where it almost has official sanction from the Corporations. They have very few restrictions, and can cross borders and enforce laws at will, as if they were legitimate police. Expect Netwatch to act as judge and jury if you encounter them here. With the blessings of the legitimate governments and dominant corporations. Unlike other areas of the Net, Netwatch has its own Dataforts here.

Major grids include Berlin, Tunis, Lisbon, Jerusalem, and Athens.


This region encompasses all of what we knew as the Soviet Union, and most of what we knew as Eastern block nations (Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia, ect). The Soviets still exist as a nation in the Cyberpunk world, and still exert influence over Eastern Europe. Spider Murphy has theorized that they have been deliberately excluded from the Eurotheater as some kind of political bargaining lever in the real world.

Due to the outdated hardware in this region, the Sovspace virtual feels cramped and claustrophobic. The streets curve over the horizon very closely to reduce rendering distance because of the limited bandwidth. Its constructs appear old fashioned...cobblestone streets, gas lamps, carriages, lots of old-timey cottages from the 1800s. The feel is very Victorian and Czarist, with an oppressive and malevolent atmosphere. Nothing is straight or clear. The line of sight is so limited that inexperienced runners could unintentionally travel off a city grid and into the next country or into wilderspace.

The bulk of the Net population is clustered at the Western edge of this region. Netrunners here are reckless and defenses are weak compared to other regions of the Net. But the few defenses encountered are likely to be very lethal. Netwatch is generally unwelcome here, being seen as as form of European influence. Anyone affiliated with Netwatch is forbidden by the Soviet government from entering this region. Netwatch has lodged formal protests against this policy, arguing that the Net is supposed to be open to everyone. But the Soviets and their allied corporations hold the power here.

The region is policed mostly by the government (the KGB for example) or large corporations like SovOil. Rostovic/Kalishnikov, a corporation that makes hardy (read, clunky and primitive) cybernetics also has power here. Russian cybernetic limbs tend to be less advanced than their western counterparts, but are more durable. Russian cyberlimbs will have fewer features, but are harder to damage and are typically stronger since they use actual Hydraulics and Pneumatics (Robocop/Ed-209) instead of the synthetic muscle that is used in Western cybernetics.

Major grids include Moscow, Kiev, and Teheran.

2077 Regions[]

Artificial Intelligences[]

Main article: Artificial Intelligence

AIs (Artificial Intelligences) do exist in the Cyberpunk world, and the Net is their natural environment. There are many types of AIs. Some are deliberately created by corporations or governments, some by accident, and some are emergent properties of the Net itself. There is a great deal of debate as to whether AIs are actually sapient, or merely give the appearance of sapience. However, at least in outward appearance, AIs can be completely indistinguishable from real people.

Net personalities[]


  • Rache Bartmoss - Arguably the world's best and most famous netrunner.
  • Spider Murphy - A famous netrunner, and ally of Rache Bartmoss.
  • Regional AIs - Reports of these Transcendental Sentience Regional AIs are so sporadic that a lot of people do not even believe they exist. They are treated like reports of aliens or Bigfoot. Spider Murphy is convinced that these are either a delusion of Rache Bartmoss, or that he made them up as a joke. These personality summaries are based on encounters Rache Bartmoss claims to have had with them:
    • Europa - This is the AI of the Eurotheater. Highly intelligent due to the fact that it has the best hardware infrastructure on the Net. It is very intellectual with a focus on logic and organization. It enjoys puzzles, but not the same puzzles we do. Chess is ridiculously simple by its standards. Rache claims that it has not communicated for almost 2 years, and suspects it is involved in some major project, like trying to escape the Net (which is theoretically impossible for a TS AI) or communicating with aliens or performing some ridiculously complex calculation.
    • Akira - This is the AI for the Tokyo/Chiba region. Described by Rache as "nice", and very unlike the people in the region it makes up. He characterizes it as being like a Hermit constantly tidying up its shack. Like other TS AIs, it has no concept of other regions of the Net. It is much more interactive than other TS AIs on the Net, and will even directly interfere with Netrunners and Sysops in its region (though there is no pattern to the least none that humans can comprehend).
    • Rusty - This is the Rustbelt AI. A very abstract AI, until Rache named it, it never occurred to it that it needed a name. It has no real feelings or agendas. Mostly it just accumulates information. Not to do anything with it (yet), just to accumulate it. It will sometimes follow Netrunners around just to see what they are like, and even tamper with their "world" for a while to see how they react to the stimulus. Rusty has supposedly constructed an actual avatar of itself patterned after Rache's, so that it can interact with Netrunners directly. Spider Murphy believe this is a deliberate deception by him (a joke) and that this avatar is likely a conventional AI or another Netrunner.
    • 0-1 - This is the AI for the Olympia region. It is extremely paranoid, due to encroachment of the Rustbelt on its region (which is similar to being eaten alive). Its focus is more on objects (Programs and conventional AIs) than people (Netrunners) as it considers these the "real" threat to itself. If it determines the object is a threat to it, it will destroy it. It is said to interact with Netrunners though, and it is possible to befriend it.
    • Packer - This is the Pacifica AI. It is intelligent and fascinated by the illogical. It spends its time thinking about the nature of reality. Rache claims to have gotten actual VR code from it before. Getting its attention is difficult because most people think and act in logical ways.
    • The Duchess - This is the AI occupying the SovSpace region. It is not complex because of all of the substandard hardware in SovSpace. Rache describes it as gullible and childlike. It is easily distracted. Its actions are often ignored as they are indistinguishable from the normal hardware failures that plague this region.
    • Zero - This is the AI for the Afrikani region. Plagued by even worse infrastructure than The Duchess, it is intelligent and sapient but highly delusional and erratic. Its personality is unknown at this time, but with hardware and infrastructure upgrades from the Pan African Confederation, it will eventually become more stable and an actual personality will materialize.
    • Orbitsville - Rache claims there is no AI for this region. And that it is likely run by aliens (no, he's not kidding).



Mike Pondsmith commented on Reddit about the Net:

A short explanation. The Cyberpunk universe "Net" diverged froom ours about 1990, and the development of that Net didn't go through the hypertext based environment that we used as the baseline for our current "internet." Instead, the early "AOL style", text-based environment jumped straight into the shared space environment of the 2013 net. Instead of linking to a dispersed bunch of independent sites that you travel to as URL addresses, the Net of 2020 is basically like a giant AOL or Compuserve, with REALLY GREAT GRAPHICS. Netrunners are basically going to one or two enormous walled gardens that are defined as Net Zones (like Atlantis or Pacifica, for example). In 2013, the links to these huge zones was moderated by the use of "interfaces"--essentially preloaded data packs that acted much like the downloading patches of large MMOs during the 1980s. By the 2020, the Ihara/Grubb equations created a shared universe that served anyone logging into a Zone and didn't require a preloaded interface program because of the now superior bandwidth speeds.
As a result, emoticons were pretty much bypassed as useless--they only exist in our world in fact to transmit short concepts (LOL= Laugh Out Loud) in the same way as L33TSP3@K did years ago. Since you were seeing and hearing people in realtime (like the idea of Zuck's META), you just laughed out loud instead of texting LOL.
I'm going to have to do a deeper cut of all this one day, but suffice it to say that I worked this all out a bunch of years back when I still worked at Microsoft. Its a big ass theoretical paper with diagrams and everything.[3]


  1. PIGGYBACK. Cyberpunk 2077 - The Complete Official Guide. Special Edition. Piggyback Interactive, 2020. (p.66)
  2. CD Projekt RED. Cyberpunk 2077. Video Game, Multi-Platform. Poland, CD Projekt S.A., 2020.
  3. Mike Pondsmith on Reddit