Iain F, NISEI Interim Creative Director:
NBN used to have an agenda whose art featured a couple with cyperpunk aesthetic chatting beneath a branded moon. It was kind of a big deal. We’re not here to discuss that agenda’s mechanics, but that art by Matt Zeilinger: an iconic simple picture of “AstroScript”, the surface of the moon itself emblazoned with the NBN logo.
Once we’d narrowed in on System Gateway being a kind of “bottle” episode in the NISEI canon, a series of small stories told in the Lunar capital of Heinlein, the natural question was what do each of the corps do up there? Astroscript gave us the answer for NBN: hologram projections! This branch of NBN drapes and coats the grey satellite with color and light—not just the surface, but the metal and stone interiors of the domed cities as well. Children in Heinlein don’t play under living trees, they frolic under an augmented reality forest, every leaf suitably branded. When your reality isn’t good enough, why not upgrade to Reality Plus?
But how does that connect to what the identity does? Lots of NBN identities have cared about tags—handing tags out, making tags harder to remove—but that doesn’t really cover what a tag is to the data corporation. Tags are gameplay representations of NBN’s knowledge about individuals. This data is their bread and butter, their imaging of customers as product, their key economy. This identity is more passive than Controlling the Message or SYNC, but the more they know about the “clients” moving through their hologram environments, the finer and more lucrative those environments can be.
In this new reality, tags mean profit.
June Cuervo, NISEI Lead Designer:
NBN has long been the faction of tags, and Reality Plus gives you a real payoff to consistently landing tags throughout a game. Cards like Ping really outperform their cost when you’re able to consistently dig deeper into your deck to find critical tag punishment like Retribution, while cards like Hard-Hitting News find even more upside when you’re recouping their costs.
For a new player-focused product, we knew it was critical that each faction have their main themes represented and demonstrated loud and clear to players. Giving beginners a clear gameplan and directed play pattern ensures folks playing as NBN can quickly grasp what the faction is all about. Reality Plus rewards you for what you already want to do as NBN, and if you don’t know what to do, it gives you a nudge in the right direction.
A fundamental pillar of our System Gateway design philosophy was that cards in the set ought to have a life beyond simply being teaching tools. Reality Plus has found itself appearing time and time again as a heavy hitter during internal testing, as its ability synergizes with years of NBN cards past, present, and future. I hope you enjoy generating a bit of extra value on your quest to tag (and sometimes bag) the Runner.
System Gateway and System Update 2021 will be released on or shortly after March 28, 2021, as physical cards via NISEI’s print-on-demand partners and pay-what-you want files for downloading and printing at home!