The Big Sell-Out

A multiplayer Netrunner Variant by Damian O'Dea

The following guidelines are not set in stone. Different areas and players will be looking for diverse aspects in their games, and should certainly alter to taste. The masculine pronoun is used throughout purely for convenience.

The Big Sell Out is a Netrunner multi-player game requiring an even number of players. The game style is based on the Two-Headed Giant Magic: the Gathering. multiplayer variant, and various discussions on the Wizards of the Coast. Netrunner mailing list (netrunner-l at listserv@wizards.com). Thanks to those out there in the Net who made some suggestions, and proposed various concepts, and to Douwe Reimerink for originating the idea of a runnable Runner.

1.Deckbuilding

Decks are built as per the normal rules for Netrunner. It is recommended that for longer games with more players that both the Runner and Corp decks be larger than the minimum, to prevent the somewhat unsatisfying problem of the Corp losing through running out of cards or the Runner playing with no new cards.

2.Teams & Seating

Players pair up into teams of one Corp (the Sponsor) and one Runner (the Agent). Seating (preferably around a single large table) is in team order: Sponsor1, Agent1, Sponsor2, Agent2, etc.

Each Sponsor's Agent resides in a data-fort akin to the Archives, R&D and HQ. The data-fort is called Agent, and is considered basic, not a subsidiary, although there are some differences. The Agent data-fort may be protected by ICE like any other. The costs to install Ice are paid by the Sponsor. Agenda may not be installed in the Agent node. Nodes may be installed in the Agent fort for the normal costs to the Sponsor (ie. an action). Additionally, however, the Agent data fort must have enough spare MU to support the Node. Nodes in an Agent fort require MU equal to the Rez cost of the card. If the Agent's MU ever drops below the minimum, the first thing to be trashed must be any Nodes in the fort. Ambush nodes are legitimate installations, and are tactically intelligent moves.

The Agent data-fort may be Upgraded for increased security of the Agent player. As an optional rule, no Upgrade-Sysop may be played in the Agent fort due to the long-standing antagonism between the two roles of Sysop and Runner; most Runner's would rather flatline than accept help from a Sysop, and few Sysop's would willingly work efficiently with a Runner.

3.Play Sequencing

Play progresses around the table in the following fashion on the first turn: Sponsor1, Sponsor2, etc., Agent1, Agent2, etc. Each subsequent turn progresses as normal (generally in a clockwise fashion): Sponsor1, Agent1, Sponsor2, Agent2, etc. This serves to ensure that no Corp player faces being run without at least the security of a turn's worth of preparation. Additionally, it means that the Sponsor may assist his Agent in preparing for a run, but that no Sponsor player is able to act upon the results of his Agent's turn until after all other players have had a chance to respond.

4.Trading Bits

The Sponsor may exchange bits with his Agent, and vv. However, as Corp and Runner bits are of different values, the trade is not even. Corp bits are values at approximately Eu$500,000 and Runner bits at a mere Eu$200, but also encompass a range of favours, contacts and resources that are not directly seen in play.

For the sake of simplicity and playability, we suggest that the Sponsor may give his Agent two bits for every one spent. An Agent may cash in three bits worth of assest and favours to supply his Sponsor with one bit worth of dirty money. While more might be made of the cleanliness of the funds off the street, we assume that the Corp system is efficient enough to hide this in the books well before the tax man even thinks about looking for it.

Passing bits to a teammate takes an action to achieve. It may therefore be done only during a player's own turn, not during that of their teammate. Any number of bits may be passed to the other player on the team in one single exchange. For example, Sponsor3 may spend one action in their turn to pay five bits to the bank for an exchange; Agent3 suddenly discovers that his offshore pirate bank account has an influx of 10 bits. If during his turn Agent3 realises that Sponsor3 has left himself short on bit supply, he may spend an action trading nine bits back to the bank, but Sponsor3 only gains three bits from this.

5.Running the Agent fort

An Agent's data fort may be run as any other fort. The Sponsor of that Agent may choose to rez the Ice or not, as normal. If the Sponsor does not rez the Ice, the Agent may (without permission of the Sponsor) attempt to fast-boot the Ice anyway. Until this point, the Sponsor's Agent may not be allowed to look at the Ice protecting him.

The Agent declares that he is attempting to fast-boot the Ice, and checks the rez cost of the Ice. If he can pay for it, he does so and the Ice is rezzed and encountered by the attacking Runner. For the duration of this encounter the Ice is considered to be at half its normal strength, and it derezzes immediately after the encounter is completed. If the Sponsor chooses to rez the Ice on a subsequent run, then it is at full strength as normal.

The immediate derezzing of the Ice happens even if the attacking Runner wishes to use something that would affect the Ice if it were rezzed. Thus, a Startup Immolator would not be able to affect a fast-booted piece of Ice.

If the run on an Agent fort is successful, then the contents of the fort may be accessed. The attacking Runner player accesses any Nodes and Upgrades in the fort, and additionally may do one of two things. The attacking Runner may choose to tag the Agent inside thefort (accessing personnel files that the Sponsor keeps) or he may steal a program. Tagging Agents has no cost. Stealing a program requires that the attacking Runner pay the bit cost to install the program (as if it were in his hand). He may choose to overwrite any of his own programs even if the MU of the stolen program does not exceed his limits.

Corp data-forts are potentially vulnerable to continuous attack by Runners. To try and limit the danger of a Corp being overrun (ha!), for each successive Agent that runs on a particular Sponsor's data-forts between that Sponsor's turns, all the Ice of that Sponsor gains +1 strength, until the beginning of the Sponsor's next turn. This strength gain is temporary and should not be considered when adjudicating increases in the strength of pieces of Ice. In other words, it is factored in last to any calculation of the stregth of an individual piece of Ice. Ice strength gains represent a Corp going to a full security stance after discovering that it has been attacked by a Runner.

6.Handling Tags

Tags are dedicated pieces of information that one team holds about the Agent of another team. As such, if Sponsor1 succeeded in tagging Agent2 (even through the actions of Agent1), then Sponsor3 may not use this tag to attack Agent2. Tags only work for the team that managed to place that tag, unless the information is passed on to other teams.

Dedicated tags may be sold. When an Agent is tagged, the member of the team that made the tag becomes the Owner of the tag. If that Owner decides that someone else might make better use of the tag, then they may sell this information. The minimum cost for selling the tag is two bits. Tags may be sold during any Sponsor's turn. The Owner of the tag may offer to sell it to the Sponsor currently taking the turn. If that Sponsor turns down the offer then other Sponsors (and only Sponsors, not Agents) may bid for the tag in response.

Bidding works as a small, short auction that is held at the end of the current Sponsor's turn. Each Sponsor around the table (clockwise) has a chance to bid on the tag, including the Sponsor that refused the offer to buy it. If a Sponsor bids for the tag, then they must be able to pay that number of bits to the owner of the tag if their bid is successful. If a Sponsor passes on the bidding, then that player may not bid for the tag again unless it is re-auctioned at a later time. Only the successful bid is actually paid. It is acceptable (and even smart) for the Sponsor of the tagged Agent to bid on the tag, and if successful, they may trash the tag at no cost.

Selling tags is not considered an action. When a tag is sold, all the information that comprises the tag is sold, and the team that successfully made the tag (or purchased it last time) loses the tag. Tags may be represented with bit counters, provided that they are unique enough to identify which team Owns that tag marker.

7.Handling Agenda

Liberated Agenda may be dealt with in one of two ways: it may be scored by the Agent, or may be stolen and given to the Agent's Sponsor.

If the Agent chooses to score the Agenda, then the team scores the usual number of points for that card.

If the Agent elects to give the liberated Agenda to his Sponsor, then the Sponsor must immediately install that card in a data-fort. If the fort is not empty, then the Sponsor may choose to trash any Node or Agenda currently residing in the fort to make room for the new card. Should the Sponsor manage to advance this Agenda to competion and score it, they will gain the bonus ability of the card as if it were their own. Sleeves or counters might be used to mark ownership of the actual card, to avoid unintentional losses.

In addition to liberating an Agenda, the Agent has a chance to steal any advancement that the card has. This gives his Sponsor the chance to benefit from another Corp's hard work. For each two bits that the Agent spends in addition to the cost of making the run, the Agent liberates one advancement counter. These are given to his Sponsor along with the liberated Agenda card. Advancement counters on a liberated Agenda may only be placed on that Agenda, not on any other card, unless the Sponsor receiving the Agenda has a matching Agenda already installed. In this case the two Agendas' advancement counters may be combined to advance the already installed card. If this is done the liberated Agenda card should be discarded from play unseen (face down in the scored agenda of the card owner may be a good place).

The teams share Agenda points, and pool them together. Thus an Agent may spend Agenda that has been scored by his Sponsor, and vv. for cards like "Arasaka Portable Prototype", "Databroker" and "I Got a Rock".

8.Victory!

A team wins the game if they manage to score a combined total of 11 Agenda points. A team loses the game if either the Agent is flatlined or the Sponsor runs out of cards). Losing teams leave the game immediately.

Optionally, the Sponsor whose Agent flatlines may elect to hire another Runner as his Agent. In this case, he may forgo three actions (in the same manner as removing virus counters) and the next three Agenda scored by this team permit the Runner player to reshuffle and start from scratch. If the Sponsor of an Agent is bankrupted, the team loses with no recourse.


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