Warlocks and The Other Plane

(A Netrunning System for Hero)
by Trevor Placker

I presume everyone is familiar with the concept of "cyberspace," so I won't explain it. Traditionally, cyberspace looks the same to everyone, and it's usually pretty boring. But this is silly. Everyone who operates in cyberspace on a regular basis is going to tinker with his visualization software, to get it just the way he wants it. You know, get rid of those annoying features and put in all the right bugs. :-) With direct connect through a headset or 'face socket and really good computers, cyberspace can be almost infinitely detailed and look however you like. Those people with enough skill and imagination to create their own universe are referred to as Warlocks, and their private universes as their Planes, or The Other Plane when speaking in general. Those who lack the time, dedication, and skill to create their own Plane are disparagingly called "mortals," or sometimes "users." They must make do with one of the standard visualization packages, which tend to be neon-cubistic, simple, and boring. This kind of software is used because it is easy to learn and use and cheap in terms of the processing power and memory needed to run it.

For the examples in these rules, we will use Wiley J Bastard, a Warlock of no particular note. His Plane consists of a flat marsh, covered in waist-high reeds and surrounded by hills representing the various satellites. Individual systems are shown as pools of varying size, with one or more plants growing from the water with branch patterns matching the directory-tree-equivalents. Streams flowing between the pools represent communication routes; the size of the stream shows the volume of data being transferred. When necessary, leaves floating in the streams show the actual files. Most programs show up as insects of various sorts, moving leaves around. Larger ones appear as water creatures such as fish and frogs. Wiley J's Plane is pretty much bare bones; most Warlocks have lots of stuff around that doesn't correspond to anything in reality, for esthetic reasons. But we want these examples to be simple.

There are three general sorts of entities on the Other Plane: Warlocks, AIs, and sprites (programs designed to interact with other entities).


There are two classes of people operating on the Other Plane: Warlocks and everybody else. Those with legitimate reasons for doing this usually need only the Professional Skill Computer Operations, and skills appropriate to the software they wish to create. These people are not relevent to these rules. Those who wish to create or more often break the security on various computers but lack the skills and dedication of a true professional should purchase the Familiarity Computer Security (1 pt). They are not capable of any but the most rudimentary OP combat, so must rely on stealth to penetrate security. These people operate in the standard "Cyberspace (tm)" evironment, which means that they can work on any system without trouble, but are at a severe disadvantage when dealing with a Warlock or a capable sprite. Fam: Computer Security allows the purchase of levels in Stealth, Perception, or Sense (more on this later).

Warlocks need the Professional Skill Warlock at a minimum of 11- (2 pts), and will often find it useful to have it at higher level. This skill allows the Warlock to buy any levels in OP operations that his heart desires.

Warlock 'Package'
Level Cost Notes
F: CompSecur 1 (Allows purchase of Per, Stealth, or Sense)
PS: Warlock 2 (Allows purchase of any levels)
Attack 2  
Defense 2  
Combat 3 (Attack or Defense)
Perception 2  
Stealth 2  
Sense 3 (Perception or Stealth)
Warlock 5 (Attack, Defense, Perception, or Stealth)

Fam: CompSecur and PS: Warlock must be bought as normal skills. Any of the skill levels may be purchased "straight" at full cost, to represent the Warlock's innate skill, or through his personal system, with a -1/2 limitation, as his library of software. The -1/2 limitation is figured on the total cost of the levels bought through the equipment; one does not get the round-off on each level. Note that this is a focus limitation, and the GM should make sure it comes up every so often.


Any entity operating on the Other Plane has certain basic stats. These are:

OCV (Int/3)
DCV (Int/3)
Perception 9+(Int/5)
Stealth 0
Armor 0
Damage Class 3*
Speed as material

* Damage calculated as per killing damage.

These stats may be raised by using the various sorts of skill levels. A level in Attack may be used to raise either OCV or DC by 1. A level in Defense can increase either DCV or Armor by 1. Levels in Stealth and Perception raise the corresponding stat by 1. The situations in which these stats come into play will be explained in a bit.

Wiley J figures he has 30 points to spend on being a studly Warlock. This may be a bit optimistic, but let's see. He buys PS: Warlock for 2 points. His Int of 18 gives him a base CV of 6 and Per of 13-. His speed on either plane is 3. He decides that his style is more a strong offense than skulking around, so he buys 3 Attack levels, 2 Combat level, 2 Perception levels, and a Warlock level, for a total cost of 21 pts. This is a bit more than he wanted to spend on levels (he would like to have a reasonable Sprite Pool (explained below). He decides to buy one of the Attack levels, one of the Combat levels, and the Warlock level through his personal computer. So the levels bought straight (2 Attack, 1 Combat, 2 Perception) take 11 points. The levels purchased through his computer cost 10/1.5=7 pts, for a total of 18. Wiley J decides he can live with this. He can now have up to 6 levels in Attack, for a 12 OCV or 9 DC (or some other combination). His Perception is 15-, which gives him more than a 90% chance of spotting someone under normal circumstances. Not too bad, and he still has 10 points left for his Sprite Pool.


Sprites are the most common type of entity on the Other Plane. Most computer security consists of one or several sprites guarding the system. In addition, Warlocks can create sprites on demand, for a variety of purposes. The power of the sprites a Warlock can create is determined by his Sprite Pool. Every Warlock has a Sprite Pool equal to his Int/5. This is innate, and not dependent on any hardware. This pool may be increased for 1 pt per point, but is automatically through the Warlock's personal system.

The Sprite Pool is available each phase; there is no intrinsic limit to the total number of sprites a Warlock may have, but since any watcher may roll to perceive each sprite as well as the Warlock, care should be used.

Creating a sprite is a 1-phase action. More powerful sprites can be created by taking more time: each level down the time chart effectively increases the Warlock's Sprite Pool by 25% of its base value, to maximum of twice base at 1 Hour.

The points in the pool are spent to buy various abilites for the sprites. For 1 point (the minimum cost) the Warlock gets one sprite with:

Int 8
CV 0
Per 8-
Stealth 0
DC 0
Armor 0
Spd 2
Selfrepair 0

The sprite may be improved at the following prices:

Ability Cost
CV (Int/3) 1
Per (9+Int/5) 1
DC 1 1
+1 Int 1
+1 OCV 1
+1 DCV 1
+1 Per 1
+1 Stealth 1
+1 DC 3
+1 Armor 2
+1 Spd 4
+1 Selfrepair 3
Copy +1/2
2x # of Sprites +1/4

Thus, to create a sprite with CV 3, Per 11-, and DC 1 will cost 4 pts. Most of the abilities are self-explanatory.

Each point of self-repair allows the sprite to regain 1 lost point of Int every turn. There are two reasons why this is important: when a sprite is reduced to 0 Int it disappears, and lower Int means lower CV and Per.

"Copy" allows the sprite to create an identical copy of itself, taking one phase to do so. This ability should be used with care, as a horde of reproducing sprites is bound to attract notice. A sprite with this ability is purchased at a +1/2 advantage.

More than one sprite can be created at once; to double the number of sprites is a +1/4 advantage to the cost of the sprite including Copy. Thus, for twice the initial cost, the Warlock could create 16 identical sprites.

Sprites need not manifest immediately; they can remain latent in the background or within another sprite until needed. A common tactic is to have one sprite which can manifest a variety of other sprites as needed.

So, Wiley J wants to make a sprite to help him in combat, with the ability to spin off a bunch of smaller sprites to deal with secondary threats. He pays 4 points to give this sprite CV 3, Per 11-, DC 1, and Speed 2. Then he gives it 3 pts of Armor (6), DC 3 (6), +2 OCV (2), +3 DCV (3), and Spd 4 (8), for a total of 29 points.

Movement, Perception, and Stealth

Since the Other Plane is a purely imaginary construct, distance and movement are not well defined. The mundane effect of "moving" on the Other Plane is the transfer of the Warlock's "self" process from one computer to another. This is usually done slowly enough to maintain proper safeguards and avoid attracting attention but quickly enough to not prolong the Warlock's stay unnecessarily. On most Planes, this is perceived as walking at normal speed. Anyone trying to find an entity moving at this speed may make a perception roll at the usual level. An entity wishing to avoid notice may travel more slowly, or cease all movement and hide in the "background" of legitimate activity. To move faster requires giving up some of the usual automatic safeguards, making the entity easier to spot. Ignoring stealth altogether and instantly transferring oneself to another place on the Plane is quite possible, but highly visible. Moving more quickly than usual also occupies some of the processing power that would normally be used to watch the environment, so that the entity has a smaller chance of noticing anyone else. Note that any entities engaged in communication or conflict of any sort are automatically aware of each other.

Movement Stealth Perception DCV
None - Hiding +3 +1 -3
Slow +1 to +2 +1 +0
Normal +0 +0 +0
Fast -1 to -3 -1 -1
1 phase Tport -4 -2 -2
1/2 ph Tport -6 -3 -3

Combat Maneuver OCV DCV Notes
Normal Attack +0 +0  
Full Defense -- +3  
Full Attack -1 -2 +2 DC
Attack to Bind -2 +0 Virtual Damage: binds instead of kills
Create Sprite -- -3  

End Notes

Yes, I know it's not finished, but this should be enough to give you the idea. If anyone actually reads this, I'd appreciate comments; maybe someday I'll finish it, polish it up, and actually use it for something.