15 September 2015 | Android: Netrunner LCG


Developer Lukas Litzsinger Introduces the First Bioroid Runner


"By my own calculations, there was an 88% chance I had been tampered with, my programming reduced to this singular purpose: To run."

By expanding the ranks of Runners with three new Runner "mini-factions," the Data and Destiny deluxe expansion for Android: Netrunner inputs a massive data set of new personalities and strategies to the game's high-stakes cyberstruggles. Accordingly, Corps like NBN will soon have more styles of Runners to consider than just Anarchs, Shapers, and Criminals, and that means it's time to start identifying these new threats and preparing countermeasures.

In our earlier previews, we received profiles of two of these new Runners. Android universe co-creator Dan Clark offered a look at the enigmatic Runner known only as "Apex," and developer Damon Stone provided insight into the Globalsec Security Specialist Sunny Lebeau, whose talents and motivations typically make her a valuable Corporate ally, but could – according to circumstance – also make her a significant threat. Today, developer Lukas Litzsinger provides us a closer look at the expansion's third Runner, the unique bioroid hacker known as Adam (Data and Destiny, 37).

Made to Run

Haas-Bioroid knows it is of the utmost importance that the general public believes their bioroids are impossible to hack. However, they have given very little attention to the possibility that a bioroid could ever hack them. But Adam can. He is a unique bioroid compelled to intrude on corporate servers… even those of Haas-Bioroid. This is not his motivation; this is his purpose. He does not know why he is compelled to hack, who made him this way, or what his creator's end game may be. He just knows that he must run.

When we created Adam, we knew that we would have to represent his programming in a unique way. Unlike a human runner, a bioroid does not have free will. Instead, all bioroids follow their programming, guided by three principle directives:

  • The First Directive states that a bioroid may not kill or cause serious harm to a human, nor through its inaction allow a human to suffer death or serious harm.
  • The Second Directive states that a bioroid’s job functions are its first priority, except where it would violate the First Directive.
  • The Third Directive states that the bioroid must report to Haas-Bioroid for weekly maintenance when doing so would not violate the First or Second Directives.

These directives are supposed to be inviolable, the underlying programming at the root of each bioroid's identity. A bioroid may have many other subroutines, but these first three directives are the cornerstone of its existence.

It is for this reason that Adam starts the game with three different directive cards installed. However, Adam’s programming is not quite like that of other bioroids: he exists to run, and his directives have been twisted.

The First Directive is represented by the card Safety First (Data and Destiny, 44). Adam’s hand size is lowered because he is always preoccupied with the safety of others.

The Second Directive is represented by Always Be Running (Data and Destiny, 41). Adam feels compelled to hack because it has been hardwired into his programming, and is presented to him as his job and purpose. This means that he must run on his first click each turn.

The Third Directive has been replaced entirely, and he no longer has to report back to Haas-Bioroid. Instead, he feels compelled to Neutralize All Threats (Data and Destiny, 43), destroying anything that he perceives as a threat to his autonomy, so long as it doesn't violate his First or Second Directives.

But Adam's programming is not entirely restrictive; it gives him benefits as well. A bioroid has many advantages over a human: it can truly multitask, has direct network access at all times, and does not have to waste hours of the day sleeping, although it can place itself into a trance-like diagnostic mode that reboots and repairs core systems. No other Runner begins the game as capable as Adam, as he can break any subroutine for two clicks, access two cards from HQ with one run, and draw a free card at the end of his turn.

We knew we wanted to start representing Adam's programming with the directives, but we wanted to let players feel like Adam was evolving and getting stronger as the game progressed. Accordingly, his console, Brain Chip (Data and Destiny, 39), powers up as he steals more agendas and fulfills his purpose. He can even overcome the confinements of his directives with the card Independent Thinking (Data and Destiny, 38), but by doing so, he loses elements of his core identity and the benefits that they provide him. He also has an enigmatic friend in Dr. Lovegood (Data and Destiny, 42). The doctor shows great interest in Adam's well-being, even performing regular maintenance on him, and yet Lovegood has never given Adam any job or required any payment from him.

Where will Adam go from here? Will he break free from his directives, or will he continue to intrude on Corp servers, accepting his function as a blunt instrument? The choice is yours.

Playing as Adam

As the bioroid Adam, you start your games with a number of advantages over your biological counterparts. Moreover, your directives provide you with something of a "tutorial mode," as they force you to interact with the Corp in certain ways. However, just as there's tremendous potential to improve your game, even after you've mastered the rules, so will you need to evolve your programming in order to compete against the stronger Corps in the end game. As Lukas mentioned, your directives can be confining, so a big part of your success will be learning when and how best to free yourself of them.

Even though Always Be Running comes with a built-in means to break ice subroutines, you'll eventually need to find a better way than to spend two clicks per subroutine. Still, combined with a pair of e3 Feedback Implants (Trace Amount, 24) or a Grappling Hook (Honor and Profit, 45), Always Be Running ensures that you can get past any ice you may face, even before you have a chance to build a more substantial rig. However, as soon as you start building that rig, you will probably want to sacrifice Always Be Running to Independent Thinking or Aesop's Pawnshop (Core Set, 47).

Meanwhile, there's a certain irony in the fact that Safety First drops your base hand size from five cards to three, immediately making you a prime target for death by a single Scorched Earth (Core Set, 99). Still, you might want to think twice before you free yourself from this card. After all, there are a number of cards you can install to increase your hand size, including Brain Cage (Chrome City, 49), Public Sympathy (Cyber Exodus, 50), and Adam's signature console, Brain Chip. Then, as soon as you've installed one or more of these cards – and stolen some valuable agenda points – Safety First translates into extremely valuable, clickless draw.

Finally, Neutralize All Threats is the equivalent of a free HQ Interface (Humanity's Shadow, 85) that comes with a significant usage fee, forcing you to pay the trash cost of the first eligible Corp card you access each turn, provided you're able to do so. Keeping yourself too credit starved to pay the trash chost isn't a good option for any extended period of time, so this is a directive that you'll want to address as quickly as possible, either by installing Paricia (Creation and Control, 45), Scrubber (A Study in Static, 63), and similar cards, or by sacrificing it to your Aesop's Pawnshop, Independent Thinking, or Chop Bot 3000 (Order and Chaos, 45).

Create a New Paradigm

In the end, finding a way to navigate all the different servers of all the different Corps is all about flexibility, something for which bioroids aren't exactly well-known. As Adam, then, you must find a way to be flexible, even if that requires overwriting your basic nature. And if you do that, who will you be? You can be anyone. It's actually a very liberating thought…

Whether you play as Adam or one of the expansion's two other Runners, Data and Destiny will soon offer you the chance to explore an all-new Runner paradigm. It will also lend considerable strength to NBN. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about Data and Destiny, including a closer look at what it means to be the solar system's greatest media giant.

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