Roles are the main character classes within the Cyberpunk series. Beginning with the original nine roles found in the Cyberpunk 2013 booklet, View from the Edge, the roles were greatly expanded with each new Sourcebook. Some were simple variations on the classic roles, and many were all-together new, based on geographical locations, equipment, technology and abilities.
Rockerboys are the medieval bards of the dark future, the rebels, the punks and the musicians who use their voice to inspire the masses. Rockerboys are there to spread the anti-corporate message, to inform the downtrodden and weak and to lead groups into battle. The most famous Rockerboy is Johnny Silverhand; a soldier gone AWOL, he leads the band Samurai all the while plotting against the evil Arasaka corporation.
Typically ex-military, almost certainly cyber-enhanced with more weaponry than a small army and ready to blow you away if somebody was paying. The Solo is your typical gun for hire character class, who thinks first, asks questions later and collects a paycheck for it. Morgan Blackhand, described as the Solo's Solo, is the most famous of these mercenaries.
Although a common complaint is that a high combat sense solo is overpowered in Cyberpunk 2020 in reality; a nomad can have their whole family open fire on him, a corp can order a squad of solos after him, a fixer can put a hit on him that other solos will chase up, a media can make him public enemy no #1 and a Netrunner could lay a lethal trap for him in the Net; all of these would likely outclass said solo but they require preparation.
Fanatics of the workings of the Net. Rather than living in realspace where their abilities are limited by reality, Netrunners prefer to experience life through the means offered within the Net's artificial universe. With unique access to the Menu, they find themselves naturally savvy in sapping company networks and breaking into high-priority security systems for both a living and entertainment. These network trespasses are necessary to steal funds and information from networks. The data that is stolen is generally sold to a third party buyer, however this data does not come free, as the Netrunner must undergo the ultimate challenge of man versus machine in bypassing counter-intrusion programs that guard the techno-fortresses of the Net.
Every computer system linked to the Net contains information and data. While much is useless notes and records, there is also much that is incredibly valuable. Whether it's money that's up for grabs, corporate plans, structure blueprints, classified data on new technology and inventions, or anything of the like, somebody somewhere wants it, and it is a Netrunner who can obtain it. This ability of infiltration and cybertheft is highly sought after, rendering the assistance of a Netrunner rather pricey. The hefty expense is further steepened by the risk that Netrunners face in doing their work.
While interacting with an online virtual interface seems moderately safe, Netrunning is far more dangerous than most would imagine. To access the Net, a Netrunner must jack in using neural hubs and interface plugs which link directly to the brain. Through these links, data is transferred, both to and from their destinations, and unless the Netrunner is skilled enough to find a server's access logs and remove their own I.P., their signal can be traced. If traced, the server owner may act upon many options under the draconic laws around computer crime. This could be hiring a hit squad to the location of access, having the government issue heavy prison terms and a mindwipe, or frying the Netrunner's brain through their interface plugs the next time they attempt to infiltrate the server.
Most Netrunner's enjoy the thrill of their work, and the good ones make a decent living off of it. There are the unfortunate few who are burned out of the Net, but remain alive and without any access. The goal is to not become one of these few, and hone the skills of hacking to the level that they are unnoticed and more importantly untraceable, for if the Net is ever removed from a Netrunner, it is a wish that their life is removed as well.
Crystaljocks are "old-school" hackers in the Hardwired universe. They use viruses and apps instead of virtual reality interfaces.
"You make your living building, fixing and modifying - a crucial occupation in a technological world where no one knows how half the stuff works." Techies typically have the highest tech stat of the group and play an important role making tech work for them. Having a techie in your team is highly advisable.
If you're any good, you're making a lot of money. And that money goes into new gadgets, hardware and information. You'll buy almost any new thing- because it might have a dozen side applications you can use. Of course, your black market work isn't just making you friends-it's also racking you up an impressive number of enemies as well; people who've run into your handiwork and resented it. So you'll invest a lot in defense systems and, if really pushed to the wall, call in a few markers on a Solo or two.
Your cousin down the street is just like you, but he's a Medtechie. In a world where half of medicine is related to mechanics, it makes sense. He can do a black market surgical technique faster than you can fix a toaster, and the Solos are always running to him to patch up wounds or install new illegal cybernetics. He's got a lot of the same problems you have, but he's hoping his new job with Trauma Team lnc. will loosen things up. You hope he's right. You may be needing his services sooner than you think.
They're bending the truth out there. And you're going to stop them. Someone has to do it. The Corporations rule the world. They dump toxins, destabilize economies and commit murder with equal impunity. The Government won't stop them-they own the Government. The only thing between the Corporations and world domination is the Media. And that's you.
You've got a videocam and a press pass-and you're not afraid to use them. You're a national figure, seen nightly on a million TV sets worldwide. You've got fans, contracts and your own Corporation backing you. They can't make you disappear. When you dig down for the dirt and slime the corrupt officials and Corporate lapdogs try to cover up, you can dig deep. The next morning, you can put the details of their crimes all over the screamsheets and vidscreens. Then the Government has to act.
A week ago, you followed a hot lead and discovered a medical corporation dumping illegal drugs on the Street. This week, you're uncovering a secret Corporate war in South America-a war with jets, bombs, and cybertroops that's killed almost seven thousand innocent people. Each new story you get to the air is one more blow for freedom and justice. Not to mention ratings.
It isn't easy. They've tried to pressure your Mediacorp dozens of times. You've had stories suppressed more than once, Corporate pressure forced them to cancel your news show. Each time, you went to the top, backed by your news director and your crew, and fought to get the story out. Three or four times, they tried to kill you-that's why your backup's a crack Solo bodyguard and you've got one of the top 'Runners in the business digging through the Net to back your stories. You have to be good, or else.
Your 'Runner's just phoned in with a hot lead. He's found a line on twenty tons of illegal weapons being shifted to a port in Bolivia-possibly nuclear. You grab your gear and flag your backup. You're going to break those bastards.
In the old days, they only used to shoot at cops. Now you're lucky if you just take a slug. The Street is mean these days, filled with new drugs, new gangs, and new weapons that make an M-16 look like a kid's toy. If you're on a City Force, you know how bad it is. You're carrying at least four high caliber weapons, most of them full-auto types, wearing a Kevlar vest that'll stop 850 ft/lbs per square inch- and you're still outgunned and outflanked. Half the gangs are cyber to begin with-super speed, super reflexes, can see in the dark, carry weapons in their arms ... The other half are freelance Corporate meres-gangs hired by the Corps to enforce their policies on the Street. And there you are-a beat cop or detective in an armored squadcar, patrolling this jungle with the heavy predators.
The Corporate Cops know that's the life. Heavy weapons, full combat armor, Trauma Team backup, AV-4 assault vehicles and gyrocopters with miniguns. But they only patrol the sectors of the City that the Government's licensed them for. The nice, clean sectors full of new office buildings and fancy restaurants-where no jacked up psycho punk is going to ever go on a killing spree with an AK47. You get the bad sections. Burned out buildings and abandoned cars, where every night is a new firefight and another great opportunity for a messy death.
If you're really unlucky, you might draw PsychoSquad detail. PsychoSquad guys get the job of hunting down heavily armed and armored cyborgs who've flipped out. Sure, the PS guys have access to railguns, gyros and AVs. But a cyberpsycho can walk through machine gun fire and not feel it. A lot of the Psycho Squad detectives are crazy themselves. They load up with. boosted reflexes, get some monstrously huge guns, and go hunt the cyborgs solo. But you're not that crazy.
In the old days, they would have called you a yuppie-a hard driven, fast-track MBA on his way up the Corporate ladder. Sure, it's selling your soul to the Company, but face it; the Corporations rule the Cyberpunk world. They control governments, markets, nations, armies-you name it. And you know that whoever controls the Corporations controls everything else.
Right now, your life as a junior executive is anything but easy. There are guys underneath you who'd kill for a shot at your job. There are guys over you who'd kill to keep you out of their jobs. And they're not kidding about the killing-every up and comer in the Corporation has his own crew of Solos and Netrunners to cover his pet projects. Sabotage? Constantly. Bribery? Routine. Blackmail? Common. Promotion by assassination? Always a possibility. The stakes are that high-one slip and you could be out on the Street with the rest of the trash. Or dead.
And the projects your supervisors give you! Some are pretty straightforward; design a new productivity schedule for the Corporation's medical subsidiary. Some are pretty raw-send a "black operations" team into the City to spread a designer plague so the Marketing team can clean up selling the vaccine. Last week, you led a mixed team of Solos,'Runners and Techies on a headhunting run to kidnap a researcher from a rival company. The week before, your project was to steal plans for a new suborbital shuttle from the EuroSpace Agency (so that the Aerospace Division could copy the design and sell it to the Soviets).
You told yourself you joined the Corporation to make it a better place-work from the inside, you said. But now you're not so sure. Your ideals are a little tarnished and things are getting pretty bleak. But you can't worry about ethics now. You've got a report due in an hour, and it looks like that guy in Sales is planning to ice your database for good. You're gonna ice him first.
You realized fast that you weren't ever going to get into a Corporate job. And you didn't think you were tough enough or crazy enough to be a Solo either. But as a small time punk, you knew you had a knack for figuring out what other people wanted, and how to get it for them. For a price, of course.
Now your deals have moved past the nickle and-dime stuff into the big time. Maybe you move illegal weapons over the border. Or steal and resell medical supplies from the Corporations. Perhaps you're a skill broker acting as an agent for high priced Solos and 'Runners, or even hiring a whole Nomad pack to back a client's contracts. You buy and sell favors like an old-style Mafia godfather. You have connections into all kinds of businesses, deals and political groups. You don't do this directly, of course-no, you use your contacts and allies as part of a vast web of intrigue and coersion. If there's a hot nightclub in the City, you've bought into it. If there are new military-class weapons on the Street, you smuggled 'em in. If there's a Corporate war going down, you're negotiating between sides with an eye on the main chance.
But you're not entirely in it for the bucks. If someone needs to get the heat off, you'll hide them. You get people housing when there isn't any, and you bring in food when the neighborhoods are blockaded. Maybe you do it because you know they'll owe you later, but you're not sure. You're one part Robin Hood and two parts AI Capone. Back in the 90's, they would have called you a crimelord. But this is the fragmented, nasty, deadly 2020s. Now they call you a Fixer.
Panzerboys are pilots who fly fast armor-plated and stealth-coated cargo transports loaded with smuggled commodities.
Panzerboys in Hardwired don't have a unique Role-specific Special Ability. Pilots who use manual controls use Combat Sense. Those who use interface jacks use Interface, which allows them to directly control their vehicle and its weapons and defense systems.
Vehicle Zen is a Special Ability from the sourcebook; When Gravity Fails. The pilot or driver of a vehicle with this Special Ability is able to work wonders with any vehicle they operate.
They drove your family off the Farm ten years ago. The Corporations rolled in, took over the land, and put rent-a cops all over the place. It wasn't the first time it'd happened; it wouldn't be the last. Gradually, your family fell in with a bunch of other homeless families, and they met another group ... until you'd created a Nomad pack of nearly two hundred members.
Now, crammed into a huge, ragtag fleet of cars, vans, buses and RV's, your Nomad pack roams the freeways. You look for supplies, odd jobs and spare parts in a world where society has fragmented. The pack is your home-it has teachers, Med Techs, leaders, and mechanics it's virtually a town on wheels in which everyone is related by marriage or kinship. Sometimes the Pack pulls into a town just to fuel up or get grub. Other times, it swings south to follow the harvest; you pick crops in trade for cash or food. Less law abiding Packs are like mobile armies, terrorizing cities and hiring out as muscle in Corporate wars. For obvious reasons, the cops don't like Nomads. But it doesn't matter-your vehicles are usually well armored and bristling with stolen weapons; mini guns, rocket launchers and the like. Every kid knows how to use a rifle, and everyone packs a knife. Being homeless in the 2000's isn't easy.
The most visible members of the Pack are the Scouts-leather armored riders on bikes or in fast muscle cars, who protect the convoy from attacks and hunt up safe campsites. As a Scout, you're on the lookout for trouble, and you usually can find enough of it, with rival Nomad Packs, the Law, and the Corporates all after you. Like a modern day cowboy, you ride the hard trail. You've got a gun, a bike and that's all you need. You're a Nomad.
PONDSMITH, M. Cyberpunk 2020. 2nd ed. Berkeley CA; R.Talsorian Games, 1990.