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> What's a hacker?, No, it's not a newbie question...
cartoonlad
post Oct 3 2005, 03:45 AM
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One of my players is thinking of playing a character that, well here:

"He is not a hacker in the sense that he enters VR a lot to engage in cybercombat but he could. He mostly uses AR to sneak into databases and obtain information or possibly
plant information. His real skill is in mining the data over getting into and out of systems."

Where the question comes in is the negative qualities. There are three -- Scorched, Sensitive Neural Structure, and Simsense Vertigo -- that give more BPs to "hackers/technomancers". (See page 83.)

In game terms, it's simple to determine who is a technomancer -- there's a positive quality called Technomancer. There's qualities called Magician, Mystic Adept, and Adept. But there's no Hacker quality and there doesn't appear to be anything in the game rules that says this bunch of numbers and words on a character sheet means "Hacker" and this bunch of numbers and words on a character sheet means not.

So what makes a hacker? Having the Hacking skill? Or one of the Cracking Skill Group skills? Just saying, "Well, he feels like a hacker..."?

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Siege
post Oct 3 2005, 04:04 AM
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Essentially the same skills, just applied differently.

The character portrayed is a data thief - and the programs used and the character's approach would reflect that, versus a more combative hacker.

What's the hypothetical difference between the Samurai and Weapons Specialist?

I would also point out that those three flaws can easily be applied to magical types and non-hackers as well, considering how pervasive AR is in Shadowrun.

-Siege
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mfb
post Oct 3 2005, 05:02 AM
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i would pretty much call that guy a hacker. someone who enters VR to engage in cybercombat, i wouldn't be as willing to call a hacker (though there isn't really a better name available).
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DireRadiant
post Oct 3 2005, 05:35 AM
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-5 or -10 BP for negative qualities? If the character is hampered more by the negative quality, allow the higher BP.

For Simsense vertigo, from what you describe the player doing, I would almost certainly give the higher. This only requires that the character be using AR or VR, which is almost certain to happen.

For Scorched and Sensitive nueral Structure, those hinge on IC and BTL willpower tests and damage from simsense. If those are likely to occur because of the player characters activity, give the extra BP. If they aren't likely to to deal with IC/BTL or damage, then don't give it to them.

You can take a look at the allergy common and rare occurence to see how this model works.
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calypso
post Oct 3 2005, 05:58 AM
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In game terms, pretty much anyone that uses rules to interact with/on the Matrix is a hacker.
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Fortune
post Oct 3 2005, 06:21 AM
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I'd rule that if the character had the Hacking skill (or alternately, as you suggest, any skill from the Cracking Group), then he qualifies as a Hacker for the purposes of determining Qualities.
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Eyeless Blond
post Oct 3 2005, 11:34 AM
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I'd say it's not just having the skill, but actually using it once in awhile that makes you a Hacker. In fact, even if you didn't have the skills but you spent >33% of your time hacking (though that would be very suboptimal) then they're a Hacker.
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blakkie
post Oct 3 2005, 01:50 PM
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QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)
I'd say it's not just having the skill, but actually using it once in awhile that makes you a Hacker. In fact, even if you didn't have the skills but you spent >33% of your time hacking (though that would be very suboptimal) then they're a Hacker.

There in is the rub. You generally assign the value before the character starts playing.
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Fortune
post Oct 3 2005, 01:56 PM
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Yeah, I was going to add something about the actual outlook of the character, like how he sees himself, but that is rather arbitrary.
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Shadow_Prophet
post Oct 3 2005, 02:00 PM
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In connection with those qualities what makes a hacker?

That depends on the GM and player realy. Depends on how he is planning to run his character, what he's trying to do, what he's planning on spending those points on ect.

Not realy a question I can answer not knowing the players intentions on how he's going to run the character ect, or what he's planning to do with the points. Basicaly my suggestion is that you give him the points based on if he 'feels like a hacker' and what he plans on doing with them.
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calypso
post Oct 3 2005, 02:08 PM
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To directly address the original situation: his main operation, his main function, is accomplished using the Matrix. Therefore, he is a hacker. Think about it: Do the mentioned qualities hinder him more than they would a mage? Then he gets the extra 5 points for them.

Calypso
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cartoonlad
post Oct 3 2005, 05:42 PM
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Ah, but there's the problem. He's a variation on a street mage, so his primary operation and function in the team is magical support. The hacking-like abilities the character would have are to fit the concept of a data miner, or a researcher.

I'm leaning on the any skill from the Cracking group equals Hacker, but wanted to make certain that I didn't miss something obvious in the book that used game terms to define exactly what a Hacker is.
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Prosper
post Oct 3 2005, 06:06 PM
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I think your best bet is to examine exactly what the character will be dealing with. Can IC and Simsense hurt the character if they are AR and not VR? I'm creating a versatile leader-type (okay, a Face with various hobbies), and I decided that since my character wasn't going to be doing any kind of cold or hot simming the Scorched and Sensitive Neural Structure qualities would give the lesser BP. This is despite the fact that he has a point in the Cracking group.
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RunnerPaul
post Oct 3 2005, 11:50 PM
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QUOTE (blakkie)
There in is the rub. You generally assign the value before the character starts playing.

This is when it's very handy to have several editions worth of hardcover core rulebooks (currently have three, waiting on my fourth) that you can use to smack an unrulely player upside the head with, and scream at them "YOU AREN'T HACKING ENOUGH!" as punishment for getting the full points value on a negative quality and then not actually roleplaying out the flaw.
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Azralon
post Oct 4 2005, 06:08 PM
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QUOTE (blakkie @ Oct 3 2005, 09:50 AM)
There in is the rub. You generally assign the value before the character starts playing.

There's a similar problem with adept powers that improve attributes. As long as you keep your attribute within racial limits, it costs 1 Magic per bonus point. Once you raise it over your maximum it costs 2 Magic per point.

This is fine during character generation, but what happens when you use karma to raise your attribute through non-magical means, thereby pushing the total past your racial limit?

For that matter, if my human buys a 6 Charisma (for 65 BPs) and then later spends 40 karma to get the Exceptional Attribute quality, raising his max Charisma to 7... how much karma do I have to spend to actually raise that 6 to a 7? I've achieved my attribute maximum twice now; am I getting soaked on the cost twice or just the once? :(

It's cool that some Qualities can be purchased only during character generation, as it fixes some of these kinds of things. However, stuff like becoming a hacker in-game and the adept power sliding costs don't seem to have safety nets.
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calypso
post Oct 4 2005, 06:11 PM
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After character creation, there is no penalty for reaching the max in an attribute. It simply costs 3BP * the rating you're going to. The 15BP penalty is solely there during character creation to encourage somewhat rounded characters.

Calypso
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Azralon
post Oct 4 2005, 06:12 PM
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Outstanding; that's one item off my worry list at least.
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calypso
post Oct 4 2005, 06:34 PM
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Let me allay some of your other concerns:

Regarding Adepts and Improved Attribute.

Let's say you're a human with an Agility of 4, and you have 2 points in Improved Attribute, bringing your Agility up to 6. You can no longer spend Karma to improve your agility. You can continue to put Power points (at double cost) into Improved Attribute to bring your Agility to a maximum of 9 (1.5*6). That's the max your agility can be.

Let's say you're a human with an Agility of 4, and you have 1 point in Improved Attribute, bringing your Agility up to 5. You can spend Karma to raise your Agility by 1, and it will cost 6*3=18 Karma. You count Improved Attribute when figuring the cost.

So, to directly address your question of: "what happens when you use karma to raise your attribute through non-magical means, thereby pushing the total past your racial limit?"

From what I can tell, you can't. The cost to raise it would include Improved Attribute, and you can't raise an attribute above your racial max with Karma. So, it seems that if it costs more than 18BP to raise an Attribute, you can't.

Calypso
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Wasabi
post Oct 4 2005, 06:37 PM
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QUOTE (cartoonlad)
So what makes a hacker? Having the Hacking skill? Or one of the Cracking Skill Group skills? Just saying, "Well, he feels like a hacker..."?

When GM'ming I look at Knowledge skills to define a characters Concept. If Concept is Hacker (or variation thereof) and the character has not invested lots of knowledge skillpoints into hacking stuff then they can hack, but IMO are not a hacker.
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Azralon
post Oct 4 2005, 07:04 PM
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QUOTE (calypso @ Oct 4 2005, 02:34 PM)
Let's say you're a human with an Agility of 4, and you have 2 points in Improved Attribute, bringing your Agility up to 6.  You can no longer spend Karma to improve your agility.

I should probably start a different thread to discuss this in greater and more focused depth.

So if your example takes 2 points of Magic loss and blows away those 2 points of Improved Attribute, you're saying that only then does the character start to benefit from going to the gym again?

New thread going up shortly.
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