All contacts function as vital resources to a player. In that respect, different contacts provide different types of resources at different degrees of success. For example, a fixer may be remarkably adept at finding military-grade merchandise with seemingly minimal effort, while a corporate secretary may know who would be interested in a prototype AI module. Inversely, that same fixer may not have the slightest idea who is really behind the scenes on the run, while the secretary wouldn’t have the slightest idea where to procure ADPS ammunition. With this mindset, a contact should be able to ‘specialize’ in what resource(s) they can provide to the player. All resources provided by a contact break down into three categories: Information, Influence & Acquisition.
Types of Contacts
Information contacts are useful for what they know. They’re the ones who hear all the rumors—and they can discern which ones are true. Some just have an uncanny sense of what’s going on in their neighborhood or town, such as the loquacious bartender, the street ganger, and the Lonestar Captain who has seen it all. Other information contacts have more focused interests, such as the army officer who knows all about troop movements, the fence who is privy to every major robbery in the city, or nosy secretary assigned to manage the daily operations of a mega-corporation.
Influence contacts are useful because of what they can do, who they know. The are able to do thinks for the players based on who they are, or who they know. They could make arrangements for a secure location to store some hot merchandise, arrange a meeting with a local mob boss, or put your injured rigger up in a clinic without attracting unwanted attention. The purpose of an influence contact is to allow the player access to resources that they may not normally have access to.
Acquisition contacts are useful for what they get or what they have access to. They are the ones with access to the gear that the players need. The fixer with access to military-grade weapons, the cyberdoc that has that back room of brand new ‘spare parts,’ the drug dealer with ties to the mafia, or the neighbor that always seems to have the newest SotA trids straight from the Tir delivered in unmarked boxes daily. The purpose of the acquisition contact is to have access to items that can be difficult for the players to find through normal means.
Advancing Contact Affinities
A contact’s affinities can be advanced by spending karma. The cost for doing this is 2 karma for the first improvement, 4 karma for the second and 6 for the third. As a contact improves in level, a player can continue to advance his specializations. The player can chose to either advance the first affinity, or take a new rank in a second one. Each rank in a category grants an additional success when making relevant skill checks. The player must succeed with at least one die in the skill check in order for the automatic successes to work. If the skill check fails, the automatic successes do not count. A contact can only have as many total affinities as his level with the player, and the affinities’ benefits are only in relation to the player who spent the karma. Each contact’s association would potentially have different affinities to different players.
Some contacts may even be more specialized that their affinity. The aforementioned fixer with access to weapons is more likely able to get bombs and bullets than a replacement cyber-limb. Therefore, with the GM’s approval, they can specialize to a type of affinity (a specific category of equipment, an organization or corporation to influence, or a location of interest for information) by spending 3 karma to a specific type of affinity. That would add one more automatic success to the skill check, and allow the player to exceed the limitation of the contact’s level by one.