The Net

The Network, also referred to as the Net, is the space that connects all of robotkind, it is the system the Iron Prophet once connected you to, allowing you - potentially without a mouth or any manner of speech - to finally talk, express opinions and most importantly, communicate with other robots far and wide. Network connectivity, therefore, represents a huge advancement of robotkind… and, as robot society has come to realise, an essential part of their existence. After a prolonged period without connection, a robot's Heartdrive will appear to degrade, gradually erasing what makes them them until sentience is lost completely. This is considered by most to be a fate equivalent to (if not worse than) death.

The general aesthetic of the Net close to the central hub in the Internet Café is represented by the aesthetic of the Romancing the Toaster Wiki. Swathes of pastel, pixelated GIFs and defunct advertisements litter online space. However, further from the megastructure and Internet Café, this mood can change rapidly, with different communities bearing different aesthetics. In robot society, Net design is akin to fashion - it says something about who you are, what you identify with and even how attractive you may be. All robots regardless of sensory abilities will be able to perceive some sort of aesthetic in the virtual world. Without the virtual world, those without physical senses are left with a persistent nothingness.

Within the virtual world hosted by the Network, there are broadly two categories of content which robots may interact with: websites and virtual constructs.

Websites exist on the Net in much the same way as they do on the Internet OC, although robots connected to the Network will experience them somewhat differently. To a robot, the experience of surfing the Net is a much more immersive one, and websites – and the Net in general – may be interpreted more like physical spaces, albeit ones which do not necessarily follow the physical laws of the real world.

Virtual constructs are in some ways not so different from advanced websites; but while the information accessible on a website may be no more than simple text, a virtual construct is designed to deliver a truly immersive virtual reality experience. Virtual constructs are often used to mimic the physical world, but can have their own special rules about how things behave within them. They are most commonly used for games and other recreational activities.

In the absence of any specific security measures, both websites and virtual constructs can be experienced as their makers intended by all robots, regardless of their physical senses or other capabilities. Changing parts of a website or virtual construct in other ways or making your own falls under the Software skill.

The number of virtual communities a robot has access to may depend on their location and on the strength of their Network connection. By moving between different physical locations, access to local servers may change, and seemingly desolate, abandoned places may have a thriving virtual community. Connectivity can change based on the temperament of local routers, the weather, and even the robot's own hardware. Connectivity also changes the reliability of messaging other robots and receiving information from them.

Different virtual spaces can have very different purposes and will be filled with different NPC robots as well as player characters. Robots can jump between websites and constructs in the virtual landscape so long as they have access based on connectivity and physical location, much like switching tabs on your computer. Unlike physical movement, it does not require any skill or hardware to jump to different parts of the Net. However, some sites may be locked due to firewalls, CAPTCHAs and encryption, which may require specific skills in order to bypass, though there will always be several websites that all player characters have access to.

Beyond the known Network, in the places past the edges of the sitemap, there are the Badlands. These are the places hosted on distant and malfunctioning servers, the flickering neon remains and darkened silhouettes of half-broken and long-forgotten websites. There may be valuable data and interesting code snippets somewhere in there, but virtual explorers should not go unprepared. Ancient, incompatible code may pose a risk to a robot's virtual wellbeing, not to mention primordial malware actively seeking a live connection to trace back to the home servers.

It is a known fact that a robot must have a physical form in order to connect to the Net, because all robots require a Heartdrive to be defined as a robot. However, some bots have reported meeting 'robots' who do not have a physical form, programs that float around virtual spaces which seem intelligent and capable of conversation - intelligent, seemingly self-aware conversation, something that no known programs are able to do.

There are places on the internet that are filled with these bodiless virtual ghosts. Some robots grow paranoid that everybot they talk to online is some sort of a virtual ghost with no actual Heartdrive, while others believe these programs to be as much a part of robotkind as those with physical forms are.

Long ago, humans created software that filled whatever it latched on to with strange visions of “Hot Singles in Their Area,” and requests for their “Credit Card Numbers” (the latter assumed to be some kind of euphemism). To this day, robots aren't certain why they did this, and many consider its remnants to be a nuisance. Malware hides inside shady links, files, or in seemingly innocuous places, waiting to infect an unassuming host.

Interestingly, this has spawned a niche community of robots who deliberately mine and chase such places. Once infected, they enjoy the strange visions, colors and experiences malware induces, and actively track and compete with each other as to who can accumulate the most at once. Despite its apparently desirable qualities, malware is still detrimental to a robot's ability to think and process information, as well as strongly distorting perception of the Net in potentially harmful ways.

If your character has malware, their turnsheets will become strange and distorted in often absurd ways. This effect intensifies as they continue to accumulate it. Make sure to take the Gone Phishing Quirk to indicate that you are comfortable with the possibility of catching and/or accumulating malware, otherwise we will minimise any contact your character has with this part of gameplay.

While most malware is detrimental but not life-threatening, some rare forms can be far more dangerous. The Network is hazardous, and without human repair over time, computer viruses have emerged, continuing to evolve as they infect robot after robot. Just like the broader category of malware, viruses may be caught by entering blocked or shady spaces in the virtual world or by downloading infected files. Catching a computer virus in-game may result in permanent damage to software, which will come with roleplaying effects or loss of a skill point and will need repair by players with software repair skills or through a trip to the repair plant. In this way, computer viruses as well as other harmful programs like malware can count as injury.

Make sure to take the Gone Phishing Quirk to indicate that you are comfortable with the possibility of catching an IC virus, otherwise we will minimise any contact your character has with this part of gameplay.

As an OC note, we will not be including any actual computer viruses in this game and if a player gets a virus IC we will be sure to make it extremely clear that this is a make-believe computer virus and does not have any actual code that can harm your electronics in real life.

Some websites do not have chat capabilities or editing functions, allowing you to only see/read information. This may be a webpage that you have decrypted, or it may be a private chat between other robots/ghosts. It is possible for PCs to gain abilities and quirks that allow them to spy on private chats - so be aware that much like the internet today, no line of communication is truly 'private'.

  • Trench - Trench is never seen except as a shadowy avatar in the Network. Trader in just about anything, Trench can get you what you need - or take something off your hands. Of course, everything has a price.
  • Party Router - Their physical form is always found at the bottom of the Internet Café, and their virtual presence is that of a cynical, cantankerous old bot. However, they are revered by robotkind as the coordinator of the very first robot LAN party, a historical breakthrough in Net communication.
  • InSpirit - A bot - or maybe a virtual ghost, as some have suggested? - that generates potentially profound aphorisms when interacted with. It is unreasonably popular, with some believing it to be in possession of the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Most use it as a sort of horoscope.
  • Jessica - An AI resembling a beautiful human woman in her 30s, residing in a modern human house. She is friendly and will gladly make dinner or play games with whoever comes into contact with her. It is unknown where her chassis is.
  • Monkey - A bot designed to log statistics and survey data. In their great boredom they have now taken to generating weird and wacky surveys and polls for any bot to contribute to, they form ludicrous correlations based on their data, but nevertheless their 'findings' are interesting to read. They constantly feel as if they are on the edge of a breakthrough with their catchphrase 'I've connected the dots' and 'this changes everything'.
  • net.txt
  • Last modified: 2020/10/10 20:28
  • by gm_conor