In comic books, heroes and villains alike seem to know a wide variety of people.
In City of Heroes, players will get to know various people throughout the city — policemen, professors, store owners, scientists — and slowly become part of their lives.
These people, called contacts, will ask the players for their help — and in return, they will reward the players in their own unique way.
Sometimes, a contact's request will be simple: clean up the neighborhood, stop a bank robbery, or maybe even to rob a bank.
Other times, the contact will ask the hero to undergo a dangerous mission across town. But there's also the chance that the contact will involve the player in a much larger saga — a story arc — whose culmination won't be obvious to the hero until its climax.
The more a player does for a contact, the more a contact can offer — and that comes down to Inspirations and Specializations.
Essentially, each contact acts as a mini-store, that a hero or villain can purchase things from with his hard-earned Influence/Infamy. At first, a contact might not offer anything to a hero — they're barely acquaintances, after all.
But with a few adventures under a hero's belt, a contact might be willing to help out a little. Every contact comes with three levels of association — acquaintance, friend and confidant — and each level brings different tasks, missions and rewards.
Given sufficient, successful missions, you'll even be given that contact's personal cell phone number so you won't have to trek back to them to complete missions and accept new ones.
In addition to regular contacts, you may also run into specialized contacts throughout the course of your activities. These contacts will introduce you to the "Police Scanner" or the "Newspaper."
Hundreds of Contacts inhabit the city. No two players will end up having the same set of contacts; everyone's experience can be unique. The rewards given by one contact aren't necessarily the same as another — which means that there's lots of opportunity for trading!