WHAT IS AN OUTPOST?
The outposts are facilities that were built in the Wastelands between Neocron City and the Dome of York before the Ceres War, to support the building of the cities and then used to support the starship project. Because the Ceres War ended with widespread nuclear bombardment, these outposts were abandonded for many years, and stripped of most of their valuables by wastelands nomads as the radiation subsided.
At the beginning of the previous game, Neocron 1, it was discovered that the radiation levels had dropped far enough to make the outposts usable. It was also rediscovered that all of the outposts still had working psychic field generators. These generators provide specific benefits to people working, or fighting, in the same zone as an outpost. The generators have security settings that control who gets the benefit, more about this later.
NEXT put in Genetic Replicators in or near all of the outposts. All twelve factions want to control the outposts, but there is no settled law as to who owns the outposts or how to decide. So even before the Dome of York war split the factions into open warfare, all twelve factions were using irregular, freelance, deniable gangs of Runners to fight for, take over, and defend the outposts for their factions. That's where you come in.
OUTPOSTS AND THE LAW
Because of the ambiguity of their ownership, all sectors containing outpost security generators are classified as war zones. This means that all 12 factions, on both sides of the ongoing cold war, have agreed to ignore anything that happens inside those zones. You will never lose soul-light or faction sympathy, or for that matter gain faction sympathy, for killing someone in a war zone.
Because the Reza Administration technically "requires" all Runners to wear a Law Enforcement chip, there is a penalty for not having one: when you die and NEXT regenerates your body at a genetic replicator (or when the Fallen Angels do so through their hackers in the NEXT network), you leave behind from one to five pieces of equipment in a locked equipment belt. (The number, and which items, are determined by your soul-light, or legal reputation.) However, recognizing the legal ambiguity of deaths in war zones, NEXT reduces the number of items dropped by one if you died in a war zone. This means that if your soul light is greater than or equal to zero, you will not drop an equipment belt if you die in any zone containing an outpost security generator.
There is no agreement among Runners or their clans as to just how much license there should be to wage war on your allies or on neutral factions inside war zones. Because there is no in-game prohibition from doing so, and no penalty for doing so, many people feel that any war zone is carte blanche to kill anybody for any reason, and that it is perfectly ethical to attack and capture allied and neutral outposts. Indeed, if it isn't ethical and legal to attack neutral outposts, the CityMercs are somewhat up a creek, because that would limit them to only being able to capture outposts from the Twilight Guardians.
However, waging war on allied or neutral clans inside war zones, while perfectly legal, will almost always "blow back" on you. Very, very few clans have rules requiring that such disputes be kept in the war zones. If Clan A captures one of Clan B's outposts, even if they're both in the same faction, nobody will be surprised if Clan B declares Clan A "kill on sight" in all zones. That means ally killing in anarchy and hunting zones, which leaves everybody on both sides with negative soul light at least part of the time. It also reduces the number of people on your side that you can count on to fight along side you if your outposts are attacked by the other side.
TYPES OF OUTPOSTS
Labs: Lab outposts give up to +50 bonuses to the Research skill. There are 6 of them: Chester (I_05), Cycrow (F_12), Jankins (H_03), Nemesis (H13), Soliko (H_15), and Syncon (J_14).
Factories: Factory outposts give up to +50 bonuses to the Construction skill. There are 9 of them: Eastgate (H_16), Emmerson (I_07), Krupp (B_09), Malstrond (H_09), McPherson (B_11), Rockshore (K_04), Simmons (A_06), Tezla (G_12), and Tyron (C_07).
Uplinks: Uplink outposts give up to +50 bonuses to the Hacking skill. There are 9 of them: Cajun (I_15), Crest (D_09), Foster (D_11), Gravis (D_06), Hawkins (H_07), Northstar (K_07), Sieger (I_04), Tescom (K_12), and Tristar (I_11).
Mines: Mining outposts give up to +50 bonuses to the Recycling skill. There are 6 of them: Avenger (I_08), Ceres (C_12), Gabanium (G_08), Grant (D_13), Redrock (D_07), and Yutano (J_09).
Fortresses: Fortress outposts give up to +20 bonuses to the Pistol Combat, Rifle Combat, Melee Combat, and Heavy Combat skills. (I've heard it claimed that they also boost Tech Combat, but I don't think I saw a Tech Combat effect the last time I checked.) There are 6 of them: Blackhill (H_11), Devereaux (F_11), Drakkhan (K_05), Jeriko (B_08), Regant (F_05), and Shirkan (E_10).
Fence: There is a fenced-in area, with one or more gates, that defines the outpost proper. Turrets may only be placed inside this fence; see turrets, below.
Security Generator: There is a large machine with a control terminal, somewhere in a more-or-less protected part of the outpost, called a security generator. Supposedly, this is the psychic field generator that gives each outpost its skill bonuses. Its security settings are set by any high-ranking member of the owning clan from any CityCom or Wireless RN terminal; see outpost security below. Any attempt to take over an outpost must begin by hacking this device, three times, at a difficulty of approximately 140; see outpost battles, below.
Underground: All labs have a small building that serves as an elevator to an underground office/breakroom facility. Access to this underground is determined by the outpost security settings; see outpost security, below.
GoGuardian: There is a public GoGuardian somewhere on the grounds of every outpost, inside the fence.
Genetic Replicators: All outposts have two GenReps. One is outside the fence, and one is in the outpost underground. Anybody who can get to either genrep can use it to genrep out. The controlling clan decides who can use it to genrep in. Members of the controlling clan genrep directly into the underground, with no synaptic impairment. Everyone else genreps to the outside one.
CityCom: There is always at least one CityCom terminal in the underground area.
Vendors: All outposts have two weapon vendors in a building above ground, inside the fence. One sells discount low-level weapons; the other sells ammunition at normal price and a limited selection of low-level psi gear. All outposts have at least one bartender in the underground break room, who sells snack foods. Most labs, uplinks, and fortresses also have a Drugstore Stuff vendor in the above-ground shop building. This is the most important vendor, as he sells LOMs and tradeskill lubricants at approximately a 25% discount over normal store prices! Most labs and uplinks also have a Medic vendor underground, who also sells LOMs, but not at the same discount. (Note: I am convinced that this is a bug. I think the Medics are supposed to be selling the same drugs that Medicare and the faction Medics sell. But whether it's a bug or not, these vendors are as useless as a screen door on a submarine.)
Boxes: The surface and underground of every outpost are littered with several dozen rotten boxes and metal boxes. You can place items in them, subject to the same rules that apply to boxes elsewhere. They usually will stay for 24 hours or more, but you are not guaranteed that you can use them for storage. They are not like clan headquarters cabinets, they are not locked so that only the owning clan can open them. You may be tempted to use them as storage cabinets, trusting your turrets and outpost security settings to keep items safe. Don't do this, at least not with anything valuable. It's a dumb idea.
Turrets: Engineers can constructor or buy outpost security packages, or as they're more commonly known, turrets. Up to 20 of these turrets may be placed in any outpost, counting both above and below ground. Placing a turret requires a small amount of construction skill, from 70 to 100 points. To place a turret, stand where you want to put it. Then open your Inventory, right click on the turret (or stack of turrets), and Use/Activate it. In general, the higher the tech level of the turret, the more damage it will do. Most turrets damage types are intuitively obvious. Stuntraps do parashock damage only. Artillery turrets fire radiation attacks at outrageous range, and can fire over walls once they start attacking you. Turrets may only be placed inside the outpost fence; if you find an exception, report it to a GM. Turrets may not be placed within a certain radius of a genetic replicator, or within firing range of a zone boundary. (This sucks at some outposts, as it leaves critical entrances and the generator undefendable.) Turrets do have good hitpoints, and will heal themselves automatically over time. Who gets attacked by the turrets is controlled by the outpost security settings; see below.
Prestige: Owning an outpost puts your name on the map for everyone to see. Owning more outposts shows how confident you are that you can defend multiple outposts at once. It's the only way your clan can have a measurable impact on the game world.
Tradeskill Bonuses: Owning a factory, lab, or mine gives your clan's tradeskillers a +50 skill bonus to their Construction, Research, or Recycling skills, any time they are in the same sector as the generator or in the underground. If you choose to permit this (see outpost security), members of your faction receive a +35 bonus, of allied or neutral factions +25, and in the highly unlikely event you permit this enemy factions +15.
Please notice that there are twelve factions and hundreds of clans, but only six labs. All clans need access to a lab to make it easier for their Scientists to identify rare weapon parts and copy high level "mission" blueprint cubes. Lab outposts have tremendous strategic importance.
Hacking Bonus: The uplink +15 to +50 hacking bonus would be a lot more useful if there were more mobs spawning in uplink sectors that needed to be hacked. The only ones that I can think of are the DOY bots near Tescom and the very, very rare Warbots around Tristar.
Combat Bonuses: Owning a fortress outpost gives combat bonuses to the defending side in an outpost fight. But to high level characters, this hardly ever matters, since most of them are already "capped" on their current weapons, and therefore more skill levels won't help them. However, in theory it could be useful to a clan to own a Fortress in an area where their lower-level members were leveling. Not that there are very many good leveling spots in Fortress areas; only the mutant gathering spots in Jeriko come to mind, and to the best of my knowledge nobody uses it for this purpose.
Cash Income: Capturing and holding an outpost generates a certain amount of income directly to the clan. It at least used to also affect the stock prices in StockX, but I'm not sure that works any more.
Cash Savings: The outpost vendors give about a 33% discount to members of the owning clan. In particular, when you combine this with the across-the-board 25% discount at the Drugstore Stuff vendor, this means that any clan that owns almost any lab, uplink, or fortress can buy LOMs and tradeskill lubricants for more than half off.
More Genetic Replicators and No Synaptic Impairment: Owning an outpost means that when your people genrep there to hunt or to tradeskill, they don't have to wait out SI. It also means you don't have to depend on other people to give you permission to genrep in. This makes certain outposts, the ones closest to popular leveling areas, more strategically important to own.
Easier Raiding or Hunting for Your Hackers: To raid an enemy city's Hacknet sectors, you normally have to hack a genrep, which puts you inside your own faction's DNS. You then hike through 25 sectors, over half of them containing hostile mobs, just to get to the enemy city's mainframe. However, if you own an outpost that is logically closer (in datapath terms) to the enemy city, then you can take advantage of the fact that hacking the underground genrep puts you into Hacknet at the outpost instead of at your faction DNS. This can save you 50-75% of the roughly 20 minute hike it takes to begin a raid on an enemy DNS.
OUTPOST SECURITY SETTINGS
The owning clan's leader, or top ranking officers, can control two settings: Attack (A), and Genetic Replicator (GR). The GR settings control who can use the outside genrep to genrep in. The A settings control everything else: who gets permission to enter the underground, who gets the outpost skill bonuses, and who gets attacked by the turrets. Safety tip: If you don't see the "Skill Bonus" icon in the lower-right corner of your screen, and the outpost has turrets, they will attack you if they see you and you come within range.
You can look up the outpost ownership and security settings, one outpost at a time, using any CityCom or Wireless Resistance Network terminal, under Info, then Outposts. Or you can get a quick overview by pressing F9 and clicking World Map. Once you are on the World Map, click Faction and Security. Each outpost area will highlight with one of the 12 colors for the 12 factions. (Which faction has which color will be determined by your gfx_hudcolor setting.) Each outpost will also have a small, almost unreadable text legend, with the Attack setting, a slash, and then the Genetic Replicator setting.
* AC: Attack everyone not in the owning Clan. Only the owning clan can enter the underground, or use the outpost skill bonuses. Anybody not in the owning clan will be attacked by the turrets, if there are any.
* AF: Attack everyone not in the owning clan's Faction. Only members of that faction can enter the underground, or use the outpost skill bonuses. Anybody not in the owning clan's faction will be attacked by the turrets, if there are any.
* AE: Attack anyone from a faction that is an Enemy of the owning clan's faction. (This setting currently completely ignores the Clan War settings in CityCom/Wireless RN.) If your faction is red to the owners of the outpost, you can not enter the underground or use the outpost skill bonuses. If there are turrets and you are red to the owners of the outpost, those turrets will attack you.
* AN: Attack Nobody. Everybody can enter the underground. Everybody receives at least some skill bonus. If there are any turrets, they are turned off.
* GRC: GenRep only members of the owning Clan. Nobody else can genrep in.
* GRFA: GenRep only members of the owning clan's FAction. Nobody else can genrep in.
* GRFR: GenRep only members of factions that are FRiendly or neutral to the owning clan's faction. Nobody else can genrep in.
* GRE: GenRep Everybody. There is no restriction on who can genrep in to the above-ground genrep.
CAPTURING AND DEFENDING OUTPOSTS
"All" it takes to capture an outpost is to hack it. This is a four-step process. It requires at least three hackers, all three of whom must be members of some clan other than the owning clan. There is a minimum delay between hacks of one minute. The first three steps are performed while standing at the outpost's security generator, and have a minimum required skill of about 135 to 150 or more. Each one of these must be performed by a different hacker.
Once all three security layers are hacked, someone from the same clan as the third hacker has to go into Hacknet and right-click on the security terminal inside the outpost's Hacknet sector. If you are attacking an outpost where you already had access to the underground, your hacker can just walk downstairs, hack in there, and will automatically appear in right Hacknet sector. (This is at the top of the reasons why hardly anybody allows enemies to use their Underground.) Otherwise, they have to hack in from any other genrep and hike all the way there from their faction DNS. For outposts logically near their DNS (as traced by the Hacknet paths), this will take a couple of minutes. For outposts on the far end of the map, as measured in Hacknet paths, this can take up to 20 minutes.
Of course, this requires that your hackers actually get to the generator room, and that they survive standing there for the minimum of about 5 minutes that it takes to hack the outpost. Many outposts will have turrets between the gates and the generator room, inside the generator room aimed at the generator area, or both. It's a non-trivial effort to destroy a higher-level turret. Every time a turret is destroyed, every member of the owning clan that is logged on will receive a warning message in their Communicator window. They will also receive a warning message for every layer of the outpost's defenses that is successfully hacked.
This means that even if there are no turrets, or any turrets are ignored, the owning clan has roughly five minutes to prevent the takeover of the outpost. They can genrep directly into the underground without synaptic impairment, gather up their forces there, get buffed by their Field Medics, and charge out to get you. They can keep one or more Field Medics in that underground with Heal Sanctum spells going, so that anybody who genreps down gets automatically healed. And, of course, if it's going to take them more than five minutes to gather up forces for a counter-attack, at least they find out about it without delay -- as long as someone is online.
This also gives the owning clan anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to position one or more PvP hackers inside the outpost security center in Hacknet. If they can kill you before you reach the terminal, you can't capture the outpost.
There is intense debate about whether or not it is ethical to hack an outpost while nobody is online. Well, no, that dignifies the argument beyond what it deserves. What there really is, is a lot of name calling. If your clan gets a reputation for only hacking outposts at times when there are no defenders, you will get a bad reputation for being "ninja hackers," which is considered an insult. On the other hand, if your clan is so small that there hardly ever is anybody online, nobody is going to blame another clan for taking it away from you; they're hardly required to wait days or weeks for you to all show up at a time when they're online.