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> Alternate Matrix Rules, Everyone is doing it
post Nov 5 2007, 07:29 PM
Post #1

Prime Runner

Group: Banned
Posts: 3,732
Joined: 1-September 05
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Member No.: 7,665

The Ends of the Matrix
"Let's go talk to our Matrix expert and get him to do… whatever it is that he does."

Throughout the four editions of Shadowrun, no rule-set has been changed more dramatically nor inspired more complete house-rules than the Matrix section. And this is unsurprising, because the Matrix touches upon something which is somewhat real – computers – while at the same time living entirely in the realm of deeply speculative fiction.

But more so than that, the Matrix has always had a tremendously difficult problem with abstraction of action. That is, it is entirely possible for the game to model every single pull of the trigger on a gun, every invocation of a spell, every turn of a car – but it is not possible to model every machine language command that flashes by a hacker. Every time you blink your eyes, a quadrillion processes crank through to completion in the Matrix. Equations are solved, numbers added and lost, and even listing all of them that had past during a heart's beat would be longer than every book ever written. So actions in the Matrix have to be abstracted. And yet, no past or current edition has had a consistent degree of approximation, which leads to wrinkles in the game system.

At the beginning, a computer system that an NPC used was modeled as a separate "room" for each arbitrary part of the computer (I/O, Storage Memory, Graphics Card, whatever), while the computer that the PC used was modeled as a series of attributes which modified the "Decker's" matrix icon (Where I/O was a location in NPC computers, it was an attribute in PC computers). In 4th edition, all processor power is abstracted and programs run arbitrarily somewhere in networks. Except that Agents/IC are specific code that runs on specific hardware and then takes individual actions in the Matrix based on how many copies are running somewhere in the arbitrarily large computer system they are stored in.

What is presented here is not the only method to realize the Matrix. Indeed, there are literally an infinite number of ways you could imagine it. Like Astral space, the Matrix does not exist; but unlike Shadowrun's magic, the Matrix isn't even loosely based upon folklore. What is here is hopefully a manner of realizing the Matrix which is consistent, playable, and fun. After all, if the rules are playable and they agree with the presented fluff to the extent that unplanned events can be extrapolated from the rules – then we can get back to what's really important: playing the game.

But before we can get some answers, we are going to need to formulate our questions.

Why Crime?
"Why yes, Big Brother is watching. However Big Brother has ADHD, so I'm going to sit here drinking my soykaf like any of a billion wage slaves are doing right now. And then Big Brother will get bored. And distracted. And then I'm going to do… anything I want."

One of the core conceits of the Shadowrun game is that crime is possible, and that crime pays. Given the wealth of potential satellite oversight (just look at Google Earth in 2007 – imagine the law enforcement version in 2070), and the incredibly daunting task that is cracking through somewhat decent encryption, it is entirely reasonable to project a future where getting away with any crime at all requires some sort of elaborate social engineering to pull inside jobs that play off of secret limits of the anti-crime system. But this isn't Minority Report or any other Phildickian setup, this is Shadowrun. And in Shadowrun bad people shoot other people right in the face for money and get away with it to do it again.

So here are some quasi-plausible justifications for that:

A Revolution in Data Collection, a Crisis of Storage
"I'm sorry, I seem to have misplaced my 'give-a-damn'."

Throughout human history the creation of data has exceeded the capacity to store it. It starts in infancy where a babe simply doesn't remember every single thing she sees, and it continues on through the Age of Bronze where not every conversation or every play gets written down, and it continues today. It could very plausibly continue in the Shadowrun future and for the sake of playability we're assuming that it does. The cameras in the world exceed the number of people who could watch them, and they collectively generate more video footage every day than can be stored on all the world's storage media.

And that is amongst the things that makes crime possible. When you go to the bathroom, a computer is measuring the mass of your deposit. When you flee a crime scene you're being watched by every store front you pass. But likely as not, none of that information will actually be saved anywhere. Some of it may be, but it quite likely isn't organized enough to actually identify you as the perpetrator (of the crime or the leavings). More importantly, information getting deleted isn't really news. If 18½ minutes are missing or overwritten by elven pornography, that's not weird.

Furthermore remember that in the world of 2071, it is entirely possible that a "legitimate" information request from investigating authorities will simply be refused. There's nothing in it for a Wuxing or Aztechnology subsidiary to share their security footage with Evo security to assist in the investigation of a crime against Evo or one of its subsidiaries. Corporations, especially major corporations are in competition, but beyond that they actually are regularly committing crimes against one another. Even showing what footage Aztechnology has of an event would be tipping its hand to Evo and it isn't going to compromise itself that way under normal circumstances. Further, it is in the interests of Aztechnology to make investigation and enforcement as expensive a proposition as possible for Evo as this reduces the company's ability to compete with them in other areas. So even when data is successfully stored, there's no reason to believe that investigating authorities will ever be allowed to actually see that data – which when you think about it is a lot like that data being lost or simply not recorded in the first place.

A Cacophony of Echoes
"OK. Everyone who agrees that I'm Jennifer Woodyard, raise their hand."

Your SIN, your driver's license, your home owner's insurance, your medical records, and really every other thing about you are stored electronically in the Matrix. It's like your credit report today. And like your credit report (or wikipedia), pretty much anyone can put stuff into the data stream at any time. You can challenge the data in court and maybe get it changed, but by and large stuff just accumulates in the data stream. Because of the fact that things aren't always correct and some people are total tools, the system is equipped with failsafes to try to weed out incorrect data. Data which is repeated many times in many places (or in important or "trustworthy" places) is considered to have a high veracity. Data which shows up only a few times or in very sketchy places is treated as having a lower veracity. If data conflicts, the system automatically chooses to believe higher veracity information at the expense of lower veracity information.

An example of this in action might be someone getting your name wrong on a delivery of NERPS. Your name is something like Chris McGee, but on the invoice it says Chris Maggie. Now off in the Matrix somewhere there's a little piece of data that your name is in fact Chris Maggie. But fortunately for you, your UCAS driving license and your AzTech Tech diploma are both in your real name. So in the future when machines check your name, the right name will have a higher veracity and displace the wrong name. The Chris Maggie typographical error will only show up again after low intensity searches which stop after the first couple of hits. So the "Chris Maggie" spelling may continue to haunt you for the rest of your life, getting picked up by cheap companies that purchase sales information from NERPS distribution; gradually gaining veracity as it is passed from company to company and appearing in more and more places in the Matrix – but it probably won't.

This can be used by criminals (that's you). Because of the complete lack of a central authority of Truth©, you can actually create truths that happen to suit you. If you treat something as true long and loudly enough, everyone else will treat it the same way. While archaic considerations like "statute of limitations" are out the window, the fact is that if you can fool the world into believing that you've always lived in Nag Kampuchea for a while, the world will continue to believe it pretty much indefinitely. The world of 2071 has an extremely short attention span and you actually can reinvent yourself with sufficient effort.

Why Hackers?
"There are people who can sling a spell or swing a sword and I'm sure that on some level what they do is fine. But in my world, I'm the best you'll ever see."

A core conceit of Shadowrun has always been that a savvy matrix expert is an essential member of a Shadowrunner team. That means that the Hacker character's skills and attributes have to be important; it means that the Hacker's contribution to the team has to matter; it means that the Hacker is not easily replaced with a contact or a device that says TraceBuster on the side.

The Meat in the Machine: Power for Precision
"Can I run some of these programs on your sister? She's like a little porcelain doll."

How powerful are the computers in Shadowrun? Very powerful. But exactly how powerful has never really been explained. And honestly, it shouldn't be. Computing is very fast, very accurate, and very awesome. But for whatever reason, human brains are still employed as an important adjunct. This is itself not particularly surprising. The human brain is in total capable of over 100 trillion computer instructions every second. That's an amount which is, quite frankly, ridiculous. It's a very, very large amount of processor power, and although a tremendous amount of it is being "wasted" in subconscious thought about whether you'd enjoy a Blue Donut™ or whatever, it still has more total processing power than any device in Shadowrun. Computers aren't really ever more powerful than a human brain, they are more dedicated and more precise. A computer can get the same answer to a question over and over again without ever being wrong (or creative) and that right there is its strength and its weakness.

In Shadowrun history the Cyberterminal was created in 2029 and it is established that no existing computer system could possibly stand against someone using one. This isn't because the cyberterminal was a revolutionarily faster and more powerful computer capable of crushing other computers with its virtual biceps (though it was), it's because the cyberterminal was cybernetic – it literally plugged into the brain of the user. And it crushed other computers not because thinking instructions is so much faster than typing them (though it is), but because a cyberterminal actually uses part of the human's brain in its computer operations. That alone gives it a processing reserve that is well over one hundred thousand times what a super computer was capable of when Shadowrun was first written.

Shadowrun progressed through the existence of the cyberterminal to the cyberdeck: a portable computer which was nonetheless able to utilize the powers of the human brain. It was the standard in 2050 and for the next 15 years it remained on the cutting edge for Hackers. And that's where the history gets confusing. Because it's entirely possible that at some point the people in Shadowrun managed to create something portable that was in fact more powerful than a human brain. And at that point, the human really is just a vestigial appendage whose purpose is to press the Go button. But while that's admirably dystopic and fits into the overall cyberpunk genre fairly well, the game still centers on the player characters – who are still "just" individual humans. The moment they become obsolete, the game is over. Not just your particular campaign, but indeed the entire game of Shadowrun. So we're constrained to believe that in fact the human element is still vital to the operation of high end computing. That's fine, there can be many revolutions in computing power without actually pushing the one hundred trillion computer instructions per second threshold.

So when we get to the Commlink, the one thing we know didn't happen is that the Commlink did not replace the need for it to be connected to a serious metahuman brain in order to orchestrate enough processing power together to do real cybercombat. We know this did not happen because we are still playing the game.
    Equipment Spotlight: The Math Subprocessor
    Many people have asked why one would bother with a math subprocessor as a cybernetic enhancement. After all, a handheld calculator has a stupidly fast and accurate look-up table for approximating trigonometric functions and you can jolly well just hook such a function up to your datajack and get the answers to any reasonable "math" question in less time than it takes to ask it.
    The answer is that a Math Subprocessor is not a calculator that feeds you answers. It's more like a nerve staple that forces part of your brain to perform mathematical analysis on demand. That's why it applies to things like signal jamming, it literally turns part of your brain into an incredibly powerful bio-computer slaved to the tasks you designate for it. In some ways it actually makes you less intelligent: you are seriously using less of your brain on a moment to moment basis. But when the chips are down and you need to extrapolate a wave function or predict the results of a three-body problem, the Math Subprocessor is your friend.

Modern Data Management: The I and the Storm
"The falling cherry blossoms symbolize both the beauty and the transience of life. The blossoms fall as men fall and remind us of our mortality. Also every one of them is a music player I've harnessed together into a giant parallel processing computing gestalt for the singular purpose of calculating how to make your life a little bit more transient."

The Wireless Matrix heralds a new paradigm of computer use. Not necessarily in computer power, but in utility. In the real world of 2007 parallel processing is a difficult problem; but by 2070 it is the norm.

With so much computing power all over everything it is a wonder that anything gets done. Indeed, quite often things don't get done simply because the instructions to do so are buried so deeply in lists of things to do that they just never get looked at.
    Equipment Spotlight: the Toaster
    Computing in Shadowrun has reached a level of abstraction that is truly epic. The toaster on the shelf not only has a computer in it, but it has processor cycles to spare after calculating the proper toasting methods based on the thickness and consistency of your bread compared with your stated preferences regarding toast. Not just that it could be utilized as a calculator or day planner while not heating bagels – but that even while in use it could potentially be added to a network and contribute helpfully to the entire operation of a network. The implications of this are far reaching: most importantly it means that the actual amount of total processing power available to your network is both large and unknowable.
    Seriously, it's unknowable. This is a boon to both the Player of the Hacker (as it means that he doesn't have to keep track of exactly how much memory he has to play with), and to the Hacker himself (as it means that there's an unknowably large number of ways to sneak data and access into the networks that he is infiltrating).
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post Nov 5 2007, 07:30 PM
Post #2

Prime Runner

Group: Banned
Posts: 3,732
Joined: 1-September 05
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Member No.: 7,665

Why Datajacks?
"It's going to be like getting a hole drilled into your head. Probably because they are going to drill a hole into your head."

What exactly a datajack is capable of has changed dramatically over the years. In 1st edition a datajack would by itself allow a character to send and receive their entire sense data worth of information through a cable on a continuous feed. But then of course it also cost half an Essence point to get a cellular phone in your head. Nowadays a datajack is much more limited in scope and any device you happen to have can probably double as a cell phone if you really care. We can pretend that this all works together in some sort of continuous march of technology from 2050 to 2070 but the truth is that the Matrix's rule system has changed unrecognizably about 7 times between 1989 and the present day and the understanding of technology in general has likewise changed. In 1989, the prospect of having a really small phone was supposed to be a big deal. And yeah, in today's world they already make phones that are so small that they are hard to use and the novelty has really worn off. Making a phone feel "high tech" means combining it with other things, and thus the "phone" became an afterthought ability of a variety of devices in the 4th edition rules.

Nevertheless, people in Shadowrun live in a world where getting cybernetic enhancements is something with a real and measurable cost. You lose Essence. This is a real problem, which could potentially even cause you to die. Also, computers can and do interact directly with the brains of people who don't have any cybernetic enhancement at all in the world of 2071 – so what exactly the purpose of the datajack is somewhat... open for interpretation. We've made some interpretations for the purposes of this document, but remember that this marks a core point of divergence with other Matrix writeups.

Essence: Just Do It
"It isn't wiz at all. It's kind of shitty actually. But it is essence friendly."

Essence doesn't make any sense at all. There, I've said it. And I stand by this assessment. The datajack is and has been so unbelievably powerful in every edition that it's really hard to justify an Essence cost for much of anything. Why would anyone get cyberarms when they could chop their arms off (losing no Essence) and then just wear some robot arms and run them through their datajacks? If Essence actually existed, and yet the Datajack seriously allowed you to send out any output you wanted, you're damn skippy that people would do that sort of thing. And yet, in Shadowrun they don't. They don't for no reason. That's important. Essence is a game balance concern, not a rational one.
    Equipment Spotlight: Bone Lacing
    Bone Lacing is the classic example of a piece of cyberware that costs essence for no reason. And that's fine. In the case of Bone Lacing, it would be entirely "realistic" for it to cost nothing at all. Not only does it not interact with your nervous system in any way, it doesn't even replace a single cell. Your Calcium Phosphate matrix isn't "alive" in any meaningful fashion, it's just a dead mineral scaffold that your body happens to hang on like a fleshy coat. Even more damning, Bone Lacing actually costs more essence when it's made out of something that is more awesome. That's absurd – but it's also good game balance. You should pay more Essence when you get a better bonus, the fact that you're replacing the same amount of stuff that isn't even your living tissue in either case is beside the point.
    And that's the point.

Minds on Sleeves: Nanoware replacing Cyberware
"What if I just painted a picture of setting my spiritual wellbeing on fire? Isn't that enough?"

Not only do people in the Shadowrun future apparently have the ability to replace almost all DNI in their body with their datajacks, they can potentially replace their datajacks with external devices which take advantage of their brain power with phreaking and induction. This allows people to put on trode nets and stand inside of data stalls and connect their brains directly to the computer without ever once getting a hole drilled into their head, without spilling even a single monad of precious bodily fluids. And yet… people still get those datajacks in 2070 for some reason.

People are willing to spend Essence on Datajacks essentially because whatever it is that they get from a Datajack is better than slapping an Essence-free trode net on. If it wasn't better, it wouldn't cost Essence. That's the behind-the-scenes metagame reasoning, which unfortunately is the real reasoning. But that doesn't make a good a story, so it is imperative that there be an in-game justification for this. Granted, the in-game reasoning is in reality backformed from the game balance concerns, but that doesn't mean that the characters have to know that.

We could come up with a number of reasons why this is the case, but the ones that are going to be assumed here are security and mobility. A cybernetic interface is in fixed spatial relationship with your brain; you can turn upside down and get shaken and your datajack will stay in. A similar treatment to a trode net is quite likely to scramble the signal for a moment even if it's taped down pretty well. Heck, with its very low signal rating it'll be likely permanently on the fritz the first time someone throws up a jamming field – a problem which a fiberoptic cable running from your datajack to a high-signal commlink won't have. And a cybernetic system is attuned to your brain's security systems while a trode net treats everything in your brain as data. Which is unfortunate if you want to designate certain mental folders such as "secret passcodes to secret base" or "zebra related sexual preferences" unavailable for external browsing.
    Equipment Spotlight: Nanotrode Paste
    Nanopaste trodes are a set of nanomachines that can be painted on to your body which uses the powers of induction to transfer information into and out of your head. In many ways, it's like having a datajack that you never had to spend any essence for. However, it does also have limitations which make true hackers openly dubious about the stuff. First of all, it's a paste on the outside of your body, which means that the connection becomes sketchy if you're doing vigorous or stressful things. That's not a huge problem in a club scene – if extreme moshing causes your AR feed to fritz for a second or even six then you won't actually have time to get to edge the of the pit to complain before the visuals come back. But of course when you're running through an Aztechnology compound trying to spoof cameras in real time a few seconds of static is unacceptable.
    But more importantly still, nanopaste lacks the cohesion to be locked out of any part of your mind. If you go up against serious brain hackers, a nanopaste connection can be exploited to loot or change virtually any part of your brain. Again, not a huge problem for the average clubber, anyone willing to force a hot signal through your trode net could probably just shoot you. But for people with important secrets to hide, the prospect of wearing an induction transmitter on their brain is highly inadvisable.

Getting the Most of your Datajack
"I'm tired of just radiopathically sending text messages."

The 4th edition Datajack sends and receives computer gibberish to and from your brain. And that's it. It does not allow you to "interact" with that information in any way other than that allowed by the information itself (in stark contrast to the Datajack descriptions in 2053, but whatever). So you can send out any text or computer commands you want, but by itself the datajack does not allow you to receive any meaningful feedback on how your actions went over.

Having computer gibberish inserted into your brain is not always completely useless. Indeed, if that computer gibberish has already been specifically formatted to interact properly with your brain's informational retrieval system (as is the case with a Know Soft), then you can in fact proceed as if you had gained useful information from the impulses coming up your datajack. But that sort of formatting is apparently so difficult that chips with Linguasofts and Knowsofts cost thousands of nuyen and people are OK with that.
    Equipment Spotlight: The Display Link
    People who want to really use anything other than a Know-Soft with their Datajacks are advised to get a Display Link. The display link converts computer impulses into visual stimuli, which is plenty for most people to get their jobs done. Sure, a "real" hacker is going to want to cut the crap and get an implanted simrig, but for the average user the ability to send brain impulses out and literally "see" the computer returns is more than plenty.

Hacking: Meat and Machine
"Seriously. Now mom lets me stay out as late as I want."

Computer networks in Shadowrun contain real humans in addition to the more familiar electronic devices. So it should come as no surprise that adept hackers can hack their way into people as well as machines. How does that work? I don't know, it's based on revolutionary technology that in the Shadowrun timeline will be invented in 2029, so I don't even feel obliged to explain it.

But regardless of the how, the what is that a hacker in 2071 can induce genuine neural impulses in your brain from across the room. This is not something as crude as a taser (though those also exist in 2071 and can also be used from across the room). This is a targeted generation of specific neural impulses. The energy demands are quite modest, the part which is beyond our current technology is getting the energy to convey itself to specific portions of a brain across the room. But that is a technical hurdle which has been crossed in 2071. And that means that the 2071 hacker spends a lot less time drinking Mountain Dew in his mother's basement and a lot more time running around shooting mind control rays at people than his counterpart in 2007 did.

Hacking a lone device or empty network.

Whether it's a camera, a trid set, or a refrigerator, the number of times your shadowrunners will run into a device with a computer in it is uncountably large even on a daily basis. And yet, most of these devices don't have a real metahuman being looking after them at all. It is established canon that such devices are child's play to a hacker in the mid twenty-first century. This is a difficult pill for people familiar with 20th century computing to swallow; but in 2071 a device which is simple is not unhackable. Quite the opposite.

In 1989 (or 2007 for that matter), a computer had to invite logins before they could occur. In 2071 this is blatantly not the case. Instead, enterprising hackers can create connections out of nothing. A simple chip can be mapped, influenced, and co-opted from across the room through induction. The only defenses against this sort of intrusion are jamming (which makes inductive signaling more difficult), a Faraday cage (which makes inductive signaling impossible below a certain signal threshold), and increased complexity. Yes, because of the way computers work in 2071, creating vast expanses of spaghetti code actually makes hacking more difficult, rather than “allowing it at all? the way it does today.

When interacting “legally? (as in with a proper passcode) with a lone device or empty network, a user has the following options:
  • Subscribe to network. Devices are added to and removed from PANs all the time. A device which is not presently part of a PAN is generally speaking capable of being added to one.
  • Send commands. This could be as simple as sending an email to start toasting, or a complicated set of instructions which include provisions for potential future events. While some devices only act upon the instructions of their own PAN, there are a lot of machines which are intended to be given simple instructions. From light switches to fire sprinklers, there are a lot of wireless devices which can activate in response to a simple “activate? command.
  • Submit Data. Devices draw upon a number of data stores in order to go about their daily routines. Facial recognition cameras don't store the biometrics of everyone on the planet, they submit data to archives and draw potential matches from them. A legally subscribed system can submit data in response to requests (which is how those biometrics get done), or just send information along with a request to store it somewhere (which is how your credit report keeps getting worse).

Which means that at the core most things a Hacker does to a lone device or empty is convincing the machines that one of those things has been done and that the device should respond accordingly. A Hacker can also send destructive impulses: they can jam signals, wipe data, and destabilize devices. This isn't crude 20th century data deletion, where at it's heart the hacker was always trying to convince the target computer that it had a legitimate command to start deleting its own files (though a Hacker can try to do that too). In 2071, a Hacker can directly wipe information right off a system from across the room by inducing random noise into the storage device.

Hacking an orphan brain.

Human brains that are not connected to computers are quite vulnerable to a number of attacks. While the complexity of the metahuman brain is quite high, the properties and weaknesses of the organ are quite well understood by modern science. A human with cybernetics is generally never without a PAN, and getting someone with a datajack to the point where they are actually an orphan brain generally requires destroying or shutting down all the cybernetics and is usually outside the realm of possibility outside of a prepared facility.
  • Adding a PAN Just as an orphan device can be added to a preexisting PAN, a human brain can have a PAN attached to it at pretty much any time. This is why most people in 2071 go around with a PAN already attached, because there's no reason to believe that they'd have any control over a PAN that someone else added to their brain. This is the basis of BTL, serious brain washing, and much of the other Matrix related horror stories. Once a person has been stripped of an active PAN, any other PAN can be put in its place. The human brain simply evolved long before there was any possibility of Hacking or Direct Neural Interface; and most humans simply have no meaningful natural defenses against such attacks.
  • Reading Every human brain is different and such, but only to a limited extent. The contents of a human brain that is not directly interacting with a computer (and thus having the purity of the organic signal disrupted) can be passively read at a distance.
  • Direct Attack An orphan brain can have conformational changes created in it by computers. That is how PANs get established, after all. But if the changes are designed to instead shut off the automatic breathing response or induce a coma state that's just unfortunate.
Shadowrun characters will generally not be in a position to be on either side of this cruel equation. Even magicians will put computers onto their bodies and have them set up as exclusive PANs (if they don't know how to do this themselves because they are fresh off the boat from the Amazonian back country or whatever, they will get their team mates to do this for them in the same way as most mundane characters will at some point get a magician team mate to ward off an area for them to hide in). Security guards, wage slaves, mad scientists, and even guard dogs will all have direct neural interfaces set up already when it's time to throw down in the Wuxing office complex. However, if one is truly in the middle of the wilderness or one has a victim under your complete power, it is entirely possible to brain wipe someone or turn them into a bunraku or whatever.

It is highly advisable to not get captured.

Hacking an occupied network.

The majority of the time a Hacker will be interested in a network which already contains a controlling brain and one or more computer devices as well. In this case, you could potentially influence either the brain or the machines in the network, but the two reinforce themselves defensively.

If you directly attempt to affect the meat in the network, you'll have to be able to target the meat (generally requiring signal range and LOS), and the machines that the brain is already attached to provide a defense. If you attempt to hack into the machines, the processing power arrayed against you is many orders of magnitude more effective as there is a whole human brain that is dedicating part of its massive computing power to network all the devices together to counter the actions of potential hackers.
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post Nov 5 2007, 07:30 PM
Post #3

Prime Runner

Group: Banned
Posts: 3,732
Joined: 1-September 05
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Member No.: 7,665

Why Johnny Can't Hack: The Hacker and his Dicepools
"I'm sorry Ms. Walters, but your son is an idiot."

Hacking is a difficult enterprise. You are essentially using your own brain as a Matrix Node and then wrangling a horde of devices into some crazy topological nightmare of computing craziness on top of that to accomplish the ghastly difficult tasks of mathematics and signal management.

In general, a Hacker rolls Attribute + Skill for the resolution of any task. The skill being used will generally be Computer, Cybercombat, Data Search, Electronic Warfare, or Hacking. The Attribute being used will generally be Logic or Intuition. Resisting damage and other hostile effects from the Matrix is generally the providence of Willpower. Characters with low Logic and Intuition scores are bad at being utilized by computers. Characters with low Willpower scores find themselves susceptible to having their precious neurons overwritten by intrusive machines.

Challenging Players
"House wins again. Imagine that."

Shadowrun is a game. But more than that, it is a cooperative storytelling game. That means that unlike a game like roulette (which the player is expected to lose), the player is expected to win. So while the game is intended to be exciting and to carry real consequences of failure, such failure should actually be on the rare side.

This means that thresholds should be kept well below what characters average on their dicepools. While a character rolling 6 dice averages 2 hits, and successfully gets 2 or more hits some 65% of the time – remember also that such a character's chances of succeeding in two such rolls in a row are only 42%. Of making it three times in a row is only 27%. In short, characters are going to fail more than two times out of three if you ask them to perform “average? difficulties on three consecutive tests. It is for this reason that we advocate a system in which characters roll dice less often in order to accomplish tasks. The fact that this frees up more of the evening to tell stories, plan heists, crack jokes, and otherwise do things which are more fun that rolling dice is a nice benefit as well.

Attribute + Skill: Expectations and Range

A basic hacking operation requires the use of one of five checks:
  • Logic + Computer
  • Logic + Cybercombat
  • Logic + Datasearch
  • Logic + Electronic Warfare
  • Logic + Hacking
Depending upon what you are doing, any of those rolls could be called upon, possibly one after another, with a variety of consequences for success or failure. But regardless, the range of any of these dice pools is pretty much the same. At the low end you have Matrix dabblers – characters who merely have Matrix skills at all so that they can assist a specialist. These characters may have as little as Logic 3 and a relevant skill of 1. This leads to a dicepool of 4, where they are 80% likely to get at least a single hit (and in non-stressful situations can buy a hit), but they come up with 2 or more hits only 40% of the time (and 3+ about one time in 9). At the very high end you have characters who invested themselves with Cerebral Boosters, Math Processors, and Skill Enhancement (such as Adept Powers). This can generate a dicepool of 20 without getting into special cases like Exceptional Attributes, AIs, or powerful spirits. These characters are 71% likely to get 5 hits (and in non-stressful situations can buy 5 hits).

It is the assumption of the authors that most Matrix specialists will begin play with a dicepool of about 11 dice.

Equipment Modified Dicepools
"When the boost button is flashing it means that you can press it to get a boost. You should do that."

Some checks allow characters to add the rating of equipment in addition to their attributes and skills. While nominally this increases the potential range of player character's dicepools to 4-26, in actual practice it simply shifts the range to 10-26. After all, when was the last time you saw a player character run around with a rating 4 medkit? Allowing equipment bonuses has the following real effects:
  • Improves player characters vs. the world. James Bond and the Impossible Mission Team always use the latest and greatest gadgets. The guy behind the counter at Xipi's Chips does not. So if equipment modifiers are being employed, the player characters are at a relative advantage vs. other inhabitants of the world.
  • Hurts characters when buying hits. Getting 6 extra dice for equipment adds two to the average number of hits, and equipment modified tests usually require thresholds about two higher to compensate (see medkits and first aid). But when buying hits, those 6 dice are only worth a hit and a half.
  • Benefits characters when spending Edge. The average threshold of an equipment modified test is 2 higher than an unmodified test. But if you spend Edge to reroll failed dice, you average 3.3 extra hits when equipment is giving you 6 dice than when it is not.
  • Makes the die rolling experience take longer. Don't forget that rolling and adjudicating 17 dice takes longer than rolling 11 dice.

Dicepools at a Glance
Use Program: Logic + Skill
Use Complex Form: Resonance + Skill
Matrix Perception: Intuition + Datasearch
Matrix Initiative:
    AR: Intuition + Reaction
    VR: Intuition + Reaction + Response

Matrix Defense:
    Connection Range: Firewall + Cybercombat
    Signal or Handshake Range: Firewall + Signal Defense

The Power and the Weakness of Drones
KY-4? I want all of that on fire.?

People are wont to ask “If my drone can roll around shooting people in the face, why can't it send off a hacking attempt? Aren't those both actions done by a Matrix entity?? To which my answer is to go play Duck Hunt. See, pointing and shooting is actually not very difficult. You can do a lot of those tasks on an old school NES. Meanwhile, attempting to destabilize large networks from the outside via signal management is something which modern computers are incapable of doing. And frankly, the computer in your Kriegshund Mobile Weapon Mount is likewise incapable of pulling that off. Attempting the kinds of actions that Hackers do requires not just the processing capacity of several machines hooked together in some crazy fashion, it also requires the kind of pattern recognition and central processing that is normally found only with the brain of a sapient creature. Cameras can record continuously whether anyone is watching or not, and a drone can fly around and shoot things even, but genuine hacking actions just aren't going to happen that way.
    What Would Dalmatian Shoot?
    When you want to have a drone shoot things, you have a number of options. The best option as far as control is of course to directly control the drone through a VR or AR interface. The drone shoots with your skills and it goes where you tell it to and it acts when you act. But if you can't spare your actions to do that, you have a number of other possibilities. A drone acting on its own gets 2 IPs and has an Initiative of Response + Pilot. But they aren't real sapients, and their decision making abilities are suspect.

    Highlighting Targets Even if you aren't directly controlling a drone, you can designate a target for it to move to or fire upon as a Free Action. It's a separate Free Action to highlight a target for each Drone, and the Drone acts on its own Initiative and uses its own Pilot + Targeting to make attack rolls.

    Fire at Will If you can't be bothered, you can just tell a drone to fire on anything that is in its kill zone. It will draw upon its own motion sensors, IR scanners, range finders, and whatever else to identify potential targets and then it will fire upon them during all of its initiative passes. This can use a lot of ammo, especially if the other side is deliberately messing with it by throwing flares around or whatever.

    Identify Targets Drones can attempt to distinguish friend from foe on their own, but this reduces their firing rate substantially. As in the Basic Book, attempting to identify a target with its own dog brain is a Complex Action. The drone makes a Pilot + Clearsight test and if it succeeds it can identify which targets are friend and which are foe. Remember, it's just a computer program, so it can be thrown off by anything sufficiently well disguised or simply surreal. Once a target has been identified, the drone can happily fire away every subsequent pass until it runs out of targets (so it only fires once in the first round, but twice in the second).

Intrusion Countermeasures: Don't go in there
"It's ice cold and night black. Like your sister. Also you don't wanna touch that server or things will get all hairy and nasty. Like your sister. Basically I'm telling you that I had sex with the IC on that server and it wasn't good."

In ages past, computer security was in the relatively simple realm of keeping unwanted users from logging on to one's system. In 2071 that isn't really practical, and it became impractical for so long that terms like “Firewall? just don't even mean the same thing to anyone. The last time people seriously thought that they could just disconnect their computers from the Internet and be safe from hacking was in 2029, which is over 40 years ago from the standpoint of 2071 characters. Indeed, the majority of shadowrunners were not even alive the last time someone talked about network segregation as a valid defense against network attack. Keeping intruders out is a multi-tiered process of inaccessibility (because the most effective hacking procedures are essentially line of sight, moving your systems to inaccessible physical locations is actually a reasonable defense), and actively fighting back. You can't necessarily keep people from hacking in, but you can set fire to people's brains when they do it. Keep that in mind, because it's incredibly different from the way computers work in the modern world.

Intrusion Countermeasures, or IC for short, are an integral part of Shadowrun and always have been. There are some systems that the faint of heart simply do not go to because the programming there will fry your brain. This is deemed unfortunate as most shadowrunners consider their brains to be their second favorite organ. IC scours a network looking for the influence of hackers and does a number of things to undue this as a problem. But before we really get in to talking about what IC can do, let's start by talking about what it can't do.

IC can't Team Up
"That IC looked like hundreds of bees."

Computing power in Shadowrun is abstracted. We don't keep track of how many processor cycles you have dedicated to whatever processes. We don't even care. If IC is running on a system, it is protecting the entire system to the best of its own capabilities. It is not possible to run another copy of the IC to get better protection. Hell, you can't even benefit from having a copy of a different IC system protecting your system.

IC is kind of like virus protection software. Running it is great, and it will ward off a number of potential threats. But running Norton and Macaffee at the same time isn't helpful. If you have processing cycles to burn, you should get yourself an IC system of a higher rating rather than getting more copies with the same rating.

In the Matrix, IC can as easily be rendered as a single bridge keeping troll as by a pack of dogs. It's completely unimportant how “many? icons the IC has. IC is lots of individual instructions zooming through the network at high speed. It's scanning logs for illegal commands, it's scouring data sets looking for tampering, and if these all get represented as a series of monks copying books or a massive tiger sniffing for prey that means precisely jack diddly.

Most importantly of all, in the instance where there are many devices running on a network together, the single best IC available defends the entire network and all the others don't do a god damned thing. The network as a whole is parallel processing in some ill-defined but extremely powerful fashion and problems anywhere in the network can potentially be detected. Hiding the data you are insinuating somewhere in the network where the IC won't recognize it as phony is the providence of Perception tests, not something that you as a player should have to work out based on network schema and individual device ratings.

IC can't come after you.
"Did you whizz on the electric fence?"

IC can't use any programs with a range greater than Connection. It can attack users, it can trace hackers, and it can unravel your Matrix signature. But it can't do any of that unless there is a current open connection between the system it is running on and your system. IC can send e-mail and do all kinds of other Matrix crap. If an IC discovers an intrusion attempt it can send a PM to other computers saying “Hey! Somebody is intruding into my system!? it can even send spam e-mail asking people to pretty please open up an active connection. But it can't offer any mechanical assistance to another system nor can it attempt to hack itself a connection to a system that declines its offer.
    Behind the Scenes: Why not allow IC to reach out and touch someone?
    Remembering that computing power is delineated completely arbitrarily, it is easy to see that one could just as easily define the display of pull-tab burritos as an empty network as one could define each of the Freshsene™ detectors for each of the flavor racks as empty networks. So if IC could make attacks at a signal or even handshake range, the world of Shadowrun would collapse almost instantly. Computing can be divided and subdivided as much as you want – if those subdivisions were each afforded an initiative count in battle the game would suffer tremendously as there would be no logical reason for there to be any finite limitations on armies of computer programs. Because we are trying to model the Matrix from Virtual Realities and not the Matrix from Matrix 2: Electric Boogaloo; having unstoppable armies of Agent Smith is unacceptable. So pretty much everything we're saying about technological specs and hardware limitations and such is flavor text to explain what is at its core a completely game mechanical concern. If we've overlooked something and you figure out some way to have IC operate at range other than Connection and still be consistent with what we wrote – just walk away and pretend you didn't.
    Presumably there is some additional technical constraint that is preventing you from doing that or something. Seriously. For the children.
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post Nov 5 2007, 07:30 PM
Post #4

Prime Runner

Group: Banned
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Member No.: 7,665

It Works like Magic: Skills of the Matrix

Using any Programming or Complex Form is game mechanically much like casting a spell. Programs and Complex Forms are divided into categories as spells are, and the character's dicepool is determined by the program category. Using something from the category of Attack uses Cybercombat + Logic in the same manner as casting a Combat Spell would use Spellcasting + Magic. Using Operations Programs uses the Computer skill, using Analysis Programs uses the Data Search skill, using Exploit Programs uses the Hacking skill, and using Communications Programs uses the Electronic Warfare skill. Technomancers have access to Complex Forms which mimic Programs and use the same dicepools, but they also have special Complex Forms for which no software equivalent exists, these use the Resonance skills of Compiling, Decompiling, and Registering.

The Computer Skill
The Computer skill governs the navigation of baroque menus, the interactions with strange interfaces, and other 21st century activities which allow users to get devices to do the things that they are supposed to do.
From toasters to automated factories, every device capable of acting under its own preprogrammed instructions must be at some point set in motion by a user. Putting forth the rube goldberg apparatus which will lead inevitably to the desired result requires a Logic + Computer check. Simple instruction sets (“heat bread until deliciously browned?, or “follow grid-guide directions to Můstek?) require only a single hit. Complicated instruction sets capable of responding appropriately to impediments require more hits. Whenever a drone is confronted with the bizarre, use the number of hits on its last command check as a threshold to determine if it is thrown off.

Data Manipulation
Deleting files, creating bogus data, and otherwise covering up information is quite an involved set of procedures in 2071. Between the existence of extensive and often distributed back-up systems and the all-pervasive reality of contradictory information and veracity checking, actually covering one's tracks in the Matrix is as much art as science. Whether eradicating viable video of a break-in or keeping one's Matrix activities away from the notice of the popos, one makes an Intuition + Computer check. As always, more hits are better. Glitches indicate that one's manipulation actually raised flags and made the information more noticeable to Interpol and other interested parties.

When a character utilizes any Operations Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Computer, regardless of what other parameters it has.
    Skill Specializations: Command, Data Manipulation, Operations
The Cybercombat Skill
Brutally simple, the Cybercombat skill is used to fight in the Matrix, where normal combat methods are useless. While hackers like to speak about the complex dance of packets and draw comparisons to world war I dog fighting or fencing or whatever other metaphor, the cold reality is that once a connection is established Matrix combat is often a pretty short affair.
When a connection is established between two icons, signal defense is essentially useless. A character's Signal Defense does not apply against attacks made at Connection Range, regardless of who the target is. A character may use her own Cybercombat to defend herself from attacks made at Connection Range.

When a character utilizes any Attack Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Cybercombat, regardless of what other parameters it has.
    Skill Specializations: Attack, Defense
The Datasearch Skill
This is the character's research ability, their ability to find information online, and perhaps most importantly of all it is the character's ability to notice icons and events in the Matrix world.
There is an incredibly large amount of information available on the Matrix. And while much of it is hidden away in secret data stores which are available only to those with the proper authorization or funding, the wealth of information available in blogs, wikipedia entries, and fan sites is staggering. Much of what is available is wrong, whether placed as deliberately unhelpful information to reduce the seeming veracity of real truth, or simply the mad ravings of conspiracy enthusiasts. But for the savvy, the nuggets of truth can be sifted from the silt of falsity and much can be discerned. Researching requires no special programming on the part of an individual user, just an active Matrix connection and a few seconds to sort through the universe of data. Researching topics is not an extended test, because that's boring to resolve. If a character wishes to research the answer to a question, one simply makes a Logic + Data Search test:
    Hits Required / Information you are looking for.
    1.– Public Record (Dates, National population figures, Laws, Street Maps)
    2.– Contentious Information (Genocides, Religious Opinions, Political Theory)
    3.– Technical (Exacting Schema of Buildings
    4.– Obscure (Old Secrets
    5.– Very Obscure (New Secrets, Unpopular Media from before the Crash)
    6.– Earthdawn Metaplot Connections (Horrors, Immortals, Magic Cycles)
Successfully getting the requisite number of hits turns up an answer to a question in a few minutes. Succeeding by one extra hit gets the info in a few rounds, and succeeding at the test by two or more hits turns up the information immediately (just one initiative pass). No, you can't retry, all the different search parameters you are trying is factored into the initial test for everyone's sanity. Glitching on the test involves information which is hilariously or tragically wrong as you might expect. If people are actively attempting to hide information on the Matrix by using misinformation to attack the perceived veracity of the truth (the only real way to hide things once they've hit the Matrix somewhere), the difficulties increase by 1 to 4 depending upon how good they are at it. So for example the Horror Cycle is merely contentious information, but some people have gone to great lengths to hide this data increasing the threshold all the way to 6.

Matrix Perception
Just as characters can fail to notice things in the physical world or the astral plane, the Matrix is full of things which may or may not be noticed against the background cacophony of data transfer which surrounds all men. An Intuition + Data Search is used to notice hidden icons and data stores in precisely the same way as Perception or Assensing opposes Infiltration checks. Also, like Assensing, an Intuition + Data Search check can elicit more information about an individual icon. Having cybernetic senses allows Matrix information to be more easily assimilated into the user's experience, making them better at Matrix perception. Any of the following items: Display Link, Sound Link, Taste Booster, Olfactory Booster, Touch Link all grant a +1 dicepool bonus to Matrix Perception tests, with a maximum bonus of +3. The implanted Sim Rig provides multisensory simsense to the body and provides the maximum +3 bonus all by itself.

When a character utilizes any Analysis Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Data Search, regardless of what other parameters it has.
    Skill Specializations: Analysis, Matrix Perception, Research
The Electronic Warfare Skill
The Electronic Warfare skill is used to disrupt and prevent the disruption of signals and communications in a variety of ways.
Signal Defense
A skilled electronic warrior can defend herself and others against programs running in the Matrix. To provide signal defense, she must have LOS to all the targets being defended, she must be be presently active in the Matrix, and she must declare which systems she is protecting as a free action. Signal Defense provides a number of extra resistance dice equal to the character's Electronic Warfare skill. If more than one Matrix user is providing Signal Defense on the same target, use the teamwork rules.
A character who is actively providing signal defense can do so even against programs she is not aware of. The act of signal modulation and source obfuscation makes such attacks more difficult whether the hacker knows that there's someone on the other end or not. Signal Defense normally requires a network with a generic Firewall. Sprites cannot provide Signal Defense unless they have the Signal Management power, technomancers can provide Signal Defense normally.

Jamming can be used in two ways. One can perform a targeted jamming operation, or one can area jam. Jamming a specific target can be done with any commlink, while jamming an area usually involves the use of an Area Jammer (see SR4, p. 320). A targeted jam attempts to remove a specific signal or close a specific connection. The character must have sufficient high density signal to reach both ends of the communication one is attempting to disrupt. It is a complex action to jam out that signal, and the character must succeed at a Logic + Electronic Warfare test resisted by the highest Logic + Electronic Warfare dicepool of someone on either end of the communique who wants to keep the channel open.

Area Jamming is much like magical background count. It reduces the effective signal of all Matrix users except Resonance users by its rating. Technomancers and sprites in a jammed area have their Resonance or Rating reduced by the jamming level. Technomancers whose Resonance is reduced to zero cannot use any Complex Forms. Sprites whose Rating falls to zero are destroyed. An area jammer generates a rating of jamming equal to the hits on a Logic + Electronic Warfare + Jammer Rating test and lasts as long as batteries do. The basic area jammer in the basic book has an effective Signal of only 1. And no, you can't just patch it through your commlink to get the same effect over a larger area. Military jammers have higher signal ratings, but note that even having a jammer of signal 4 is enough to have the Corporate Court consider you a potential threat to world trade.

Machines collect, sort, and discard data continuously every second of the day and night. Actually getting a useful picture of what's going on through Sensors is a skill. That skill is Electronic Warfare, and the dicepool is Intuition + Electronic Warfare + Sensor Rating. Remember of course that unlike a human, one can't assume that any particular sensor suite has five senses, and that many events may be undetectable regardless of many dice one is rolling on an EW based perception test.

When a character utilizes any Communications Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Electronic Warfare, regardless of what other parameters it has.
    Skill Specializations: Communications, Jamming, Sensors, Signal Defense
The Hacking Skill
Hacking is at the core a skill dedicated to creating commands and data which are treated as legitimate despite the fact that they are not.

Forge Credentials
People can do crazy crap on the Matrix and have that be “OK? – at least if they have the appropriate credentials. Heck, if you're a NeoNET security spider it is considered OK by the Corporate Court for you to use deadly force on other Matrix users. With a Complex Action and a Logic + Hacking test you can forge credentials allowing you to do anything you want. The number of hits sets the apparent veracity of your licenses. These licenses do not hold up to any deep analysis, and of course an actual security spider doesn't really care if you seemingly have authorization from Interpol to delete his Cortex.Net. But that kind of behavior can be quite helpful in delaying IC. It's worth a shot anyway.

Normally, everything in the Matrix is quite visible (or at least potentially visible to people who are looking for it). However, there is a lot of data, and while you can't make your presence in the Matrix undetectable, you can make it rather a chore to locate you. This is a process that involves spoofing your access ID as a standard software updating routine, running your connection through dozens of intervening nodes and embedding your key data in holograms of adorable kittens with inspirational messages about increasing productivity. Or something. It's not game mechanically important what exactly it is that you are doing to not get noticed. It's not important whether you are attempting to not get seen or trying to get seen as something that is summarily ignored. In either case you simply roll Intuition + Hacking, and targets who don't get comparable hits on Matrix Perception tests don't notice you. And yes, letting loose with a Black Hammer barrage does give you away.

When a character utilizes any Exploit Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Hacking, regardless of what other parameters it has. It is important to note that the program “Back Door? is an Exploit Program, which is the most important method that a non-technomancer has to create a connection with an uncooperative network.
    Skill Specializations: Exploit, Forgery, Hide
Resonance Skills
Distinct from other Matrix skills because they are based on Resonance rather than Logic, these skills are only available to those who have a Resonance attribute in the first place (technomancers, Sprites, and some AIs).

Technomancers are justifiably feared by many. Not because they control machines directly with their minds (indeed, that sort of behavior has been standard practice in 2071 for longer than a majority of the world's population has been alive); but because they are seemingly able to bypass the laws of causality that the Matrix lives by. Technomancers and hackers alike are able to induce data transformations in systems which are not contiguous to themselves. But technomancers potentially are directly connected to all the devices around them. Even the devices that can only make connections through cables. That disturbs people, because people in 2071 are acutely aware of the fact that they themselves are devices, that they are treated as such by the corporations for whom they toil, being confronted with the implications of being literally nail shaped is discomforting in the presence of a man with a hammer for a brain.

The Compiling Skill
This skill is used to create Sprites and to determine how many tasks they owe you.
Compiling Sprites
A technomancer who wishes to create a sprite must first choose one of the five types of sprites available to her personal song and select a desired rating. For every three who Rating points the sprite has, the technomancer may select one additional optional power for the sprite to have. The technomancer then makes an opposed test using her Resonance + Compiling against the proposed rating of the sprite. If at least one net hit is achieved, the sprite takes form and owes the character a number of tasks equal to the net hits. If a glitch is achieved on the compiling test, the sprite takes form and owes the character nothing.
Compiling a sprite, whether successfully or not, causes fading equal to half the Rating of the sprite plus the number of hits scored against the technomancer. If the rating of the sprite exceeds the character's Resonance, that fading is physical rather than stun damage.

A technomancer can hack on the fly, but if she wishes to use Resonance Forms, she uses an Intuition + Compiling test rather than Software as her test to do so. This is called threading. Decompiling and Registering forms cannot be threaded.

The Decompiling Skill
The decompiling skill is used to unravel Matrix icons, or more importantly still the instruction sets which govern them. More than simply deleting data (a tricky business in the highly redundant and incestuous computing world of 2071), Decompiling calls upon the Deep Resonance to remove data altogether – as if that data had simply never existed in the first place.

Unravel Commands
Any device operating on its own does so under the auspices of a set of commands. A Technomancer can unravel those command structures directly. By taking an Unraveling action, the technomancer reduces the effective number of hits on the initial Command test by her number of hits on a Resonance + Decompiling test. A device whose list instruction set has been reduced to zero hits or less simply goes inactive. Devices with multiple instruction sets have all instructions reduced equally. Like most Resonance actions, unraveling commands causes fading. The technomancer resists fading equal to the number of hits on the highest original instruction set of the device. This action has a range of Connection.

Remove Tasks
A technomancer can attempt to remove the tasks owed by a Sprite with a Complex Action. The technomancer makes an opposed test using her Resonance + Decompiling against the Sprite's rating. If the sprite is Registered the sprite uses its Rating + the Resonance of the associated technomancer instead. Every net hit reduces the owed tasks by one. If the owed tasks reach zero, it will immediately cease whatever activities it was engaged in and become inert for one entire combat round during which the technomancer can attempt to take control of it. If she does not do so, the sprite disintegrates into random and unintelligible bits and bytes on its next action. Removing tasks causes Fading. The technomancer must resist fading equal to half the sprite's rating + the number of total hits it achieved.

Rend Icon
A technomancer can simply attack enemy icons with the Decompiling skill. This attack takes a Simple Action, and uses Resonance + Decompiling as a dicepool. The target's defense pool is their Firewall + Cybercombat (if any). The attack inflicts Matrix damage with a DV of the technomancer's Charisma + net hits. The damage is soaked with System. Rending an icon causes no fading, and icons crashed in this manner leave no record in the Matrix or their own internal logs of having crashed. This attack has a range of Connection.

The Registering Skill
The Registering skill is used similarly to Binding, to register sprites to perform long term task contracts.

A technomancer can take her unbound sprite to one of her Resonance Nodes with a Rating at least equal to the sprite's rating for a number of hours equal to the sprite's rating for some sort of crazy technomantic special one-on-one chat session. This registering session does not count against the sprite's allotted 8 hours of existence. Once complete, the technomancer makes a Resonance + Registering test opposed by twice the sprite's Rating. If the technomancer gets net hits, the sprite becomes registered and those net hits are added to the Tasks owed. Fading is equal to half the sprite's rating plus the total number of hits the sprite achieved.
If the technomancer glitches her test, passes out from fading, or watches a critical success coming off the opposed roll, the sprite breaks free. This is bad. Little arcs of electricity play across open cabling, things catch fire, monitors play only static.

A technomancer can repeat the registration process for credit with any of her registered sprites. Services gained in this way stack, and a sprite already registered has no chance of going berserk should the processing go disastrously bad. As there are no monetary costs to registering sprites, a technomancer is limited in her sprite army “only? by time, fading considerations, and her hard cap of not being allowed more registered sprites than her Charisma at any time.
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post Nov 5 2007, 07:30 PM
Post #5

Prime Runner

Group: Banned
Posts: 3,732
Joined: 1-September 05
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Member No.: 7,665

Matrix Architecture: A Project Built By Many Minds Answers to None.
Are you telling me that we don't know where the data is??
Sir, we don't know where any data is, it's a security precaution.?

The needs of data management are an ever hungry Mamon which hungers always for more power. As new things become possible to track, managing them becomes assumed, and then additional workload is piled upon the data pushers. As the powers of computers become greater, the ability to do harm with them likewise increases, demanding even more powerful computing to defend against it. This in turn creates more data management possibilities, more workload for the wageslave, more potential for the Hacker and more demands for more powerful computer networks.

It's full of stars. And chicken. Chicken and stars.?
Everything you interact with in the Matrix is represented by multisensory iconography. Having better sense links can allow you to perceive this iconography better, but all of it is capable of being projected into the minds of people who don't have any direct neural connections on their brain or sensory organs at all.
    Program Icons
    An armor program might appear as literal armor or as a horde of weasels which devour incoming attacks, but there is always a tangible representative of any program's activities in the Matrix. Sustained programming does not have condition tracks, but instead merely has the number of hits made when putting them up in the first place. Should that total be zero (or reduced to zero), the program fades away and the icon is destroyed.

    Device/Network Icons
    Real devices have an Icon Condition Track, and they have a System, a Response, a Signal, and a Firewall. They can appear as pretty much anything. A full network appears the same as a lone device save that its distributed status is visible to anyone with any hits on a Matrix Perception test. Whether a network is running off a real brain or not can be determined with 2 hits.

    Sever Icons
    Servers are basically hardware whose purpose is to connect multiple networks and datastores together. Servers appear as buildings, parks, caves, or some other spatial metaphor. Many of them are simply open, leaving security to the subunits which connect to them. Others attempt to regulate who and what can use their interchanges for Matrix travel and chicanery. In this case, the building metaphor is often extended with some sort of gate guards or locks or whatever. This manifests as having the server refuse connections to those who don't give the proper passcode. One can still hack in of course, and if the network or device which runs the server is taken down, anyone can log in to the server until it reboots. Since the routing is done with fiberoptics and such, shutting down the core computer does not actually stop hackers from forging connections if that's what they want to do.

    Sprite/Technomancer Icons
    Technomancers have icons which represent them in much the way that any network does. However there are several important distinctions. A technomancer suffers actual stun damage whenever subjected to Icon damage. A technomancer does not have a separate Icon Damage condition track. Also, a technomancer's icon does not <i>copy</i> itself into servers that it makes connections with. Her icon stays pretty much where she is, and she can act on nearby devices as if she had already established a connection. This positioning is well outside of the capabilities of firewall programming to handle, and IC cannot respond to a technomancer until she takes an action on the device or network that the IC is running on.
    A technomancer can also drop her body and move through VR. However, unlike a hacker, her perceptions do not jump through connections along the Matrix, but instead moves physically through the world at the speed of light. This is as if she were physically present at whatever location her icon is, and she can act as if connected with devices and networks within her Signal radius.
Servers are no longer the source of powerful code crunching powers that the were in ages past. Now that distinction is ironically held by the terminals. Servers are really just glorified routers. Getting into one is rarely much of a challenge for an experienced hacker, and is usually just a backdrop for the real hacking challenge: overcoming enemy security hackers and finding the proper data store with the macguffin in it. If the defenders want to break the connections in any reasonable amount of time, they have to sever the connection that each data store and network has with the server and hope for the best.

Ultraviolet Hosts and Resonance Gateways
There is little practical difference between a Resonance Gateway and an Ultraviolet Host. Both are points in the Matrix which are so powerful of draw that everyone's networks are automatically Connected to them as if they were a Server while within Handshake Range. Termination of Connection cannot be achieved by any means so long as the Ultraviolet Host or Resonance Gateway still functions.
Some UV Hosts or Gateways have criteria by which they can force networks into full VR or even pull them deep into a Resonance Realm.

Resonance Nodes
Technomancers build crazy collections of computers and equipment that is all supposed to interact in some way to create resonance with the Deep Resonance. These are like networks except that they are really really weird. Think Lain's room in Serial Experiments. They get liquid cooled by having water fall on open circuitry. This doesn't seem to harm anything. These nodes do not run programming particularly, but they are required for submersion and registering. It takes 1 day and 500 nuyen times the next rating point worth of various electronics (one need not have actually purchased any of them) to increase the rating of a Resonance Node. A technomancer can ultimately increase a Resonance Node to up to twice their Resonance. They always know where all the parts go, and while active it is nigh impossible to hack something which is inside (the rating acts as an additional Firewall). Resonance Nodes are not particularly portable.

Resonance Realms
Where we're going we don't need... roads.
The Resonance Realms are as bizarre as required to tell the story. Similar to Astral Metaplanes, the Resonance Realms don't get any explanation. Sometimes one wanders through them and they are like an extended server where characters run through as networks in VR, keenly aware of the limits and capabilities of their software. Other times, characters appear to be in VR so realistic that it holds the appearance of an alternate, yet fully real physical world. We could take up hundreds of pages ranting on this subject without shedding a whole lot of light on it, so best we cut it here.

How long will you live with small ram rod?!?
Most of the civilized world has a pretty solid Matrix connection. There are places where connectivity is, for one reason or another crap. And those areas are said to have Background. Matrix Background and Astral Background are similar concepts game mechanically. Background makes it hard to get wireless signals in and out, which may or may not be a problem for a Hacker if they have sufficient spools of fiber optic cabling. But technomancers and sprites rely heavily upon the Deep Resonance, and when it becomes harder to hear it (for whatever reason) their powers diminish massively. Like Astral Background, the Background in the Matrix is measured from 0 to 6, with more being worse.
    Dead Zones: Areas with a dearth of Matrix connections and backbone infrastructure can be annoying. The rating represents how far away connectivity starts up again. A hacker must have a Signal Rating higher than the rating of the Dead Zone or they can't use any Matrix ranged actions. They can still connect directly to things of course. This harder on Technomantic icons, who simply have their Resonance (or Rating) reduced by the rating of the Dead Zone. Dead Zones are not affected by ECCM under any circumstances.

    Spam Zones: Areas filled with malicious or merely unwanted traffic can also be annoying. The rating of the Spam Zone indicates how pervasive they are. The Signal Rating of any network in a Spam Zone is reduced by the rating of the Spam Zone (as is the effective Signal if attempting to broadcast through one, whether you're in it or not). In addition, if the rating of a Spam Zone exceeds the Firewall of a network that is in it the poor victim is subject to penalties as if in uncompensated heavy rain as they are pelted with urgent notices offering them Osamandan riches, troll penises, and knock-off BTL chips that are “just as good? as the brand names. Resonance users have their Resonance (or Rating) decreased by the rating of the Zone.

    Static Zones: Like a Spam Zone only they aren't trying to sell you anything. Static Zones are what is created by Jamming. If a Static Zone overwhelms the Signal of a network, that network is off the wireless, but nothing actually happens to them over and above that.
Ratings above 6: It's entirely possible that something bad happens to a technomancer who goes into a Background Zone with a rating higher than 6 and tries to connect with the Deep Resonance anyway.
Matrix Actions
I seriously need you to do whatever it is that you do. Like now.?

Integration of a human brain with a computer network in any kind of reasonably safe manner takes time. Specifically, it takes one entire round per rating for software to take hold of a node. So when you first turn your commlink on and plug your brain into your network, your System and Firewall will be capped at 1 after one round, capped at 2 after 2 rounds, and so on. Thus it takes five entire combat rounds for a character to be able to get full benefit from a Firewall or System rating of 5. When a network crashes, a new network will have to be put up in its place, meaning that there will be a round with no firewall, a round with a firewall of 1, a round with a firewall of 2...

Close Range
Once two icons share space on the same server, it is child's play to open a connection between them. Since both icons are sending data packets to and from the same data stores, there is essentially no way to prevent another Icon from indirectly sending data packets to the other. With a Simple Action, the Handshake range between two icons connected to the same Server can be reduced to Connection Range. This action itself has a range of Handshake and there is no test involved if one has any Computer or Hacking skill at all.

Full Defense
A character's defense pool in the Matrix can be increased for one initiative pass by a user's Cybercombat skill with a Complex Action. Like full defense in the physical world, a character who is not surprised can abort a future action to go on full defense right now.

Hack on the Fly / Threading
The rating of a program limits the number of hits a character can achieve on the test to activate it. A technomancer's Cfs are normally of a Rating equal to their Resonance, while a Hacker's programming is of whatever rating they happen to have a copy of. By spending a number of consecutive free actions to augment and optimize the code, the character can make the program operate as if its rating were increased by the number of hits the hacker gets on a Logic + Software test or the number of free actions spent on the attempt whichever is less. A character whose network does not have access to a Program can still attempt to use that Program by enhancing it from negative one. These emulated programs cut an astounding amount of corners and are only good for one use. Grounded as they are in the specific time and place they were formatted in, they will usually not even compile if copied down and run outside their original context. Multiple hacking on the fly attempts are not cumulative. A program cannot have its rating increased beyond the network's System rating in this fashion.
Technomancers can do the same thing, though they use their Intuition + Compiling skill rather than their Software skill. Decompiling and Registering forms cannot be threaded or hacked on the fly under any circumstances. Either you know them or you do not.

Toggle Biofeedback Filters
You are not supposed to be able to turn off biofeedback filtration. But you can. Doing so is unsafe, and illegal in most of the world. Networking security consultants advise you to run additional Biofeedback Filter programming on top of that which is provided by the Firewall of your network. But for those who really don't want the minor delays brought upon by having the system double check to make sure that the signal going to your brain won't fry it – these safety measures can be cut off entirely. With the Biofeedback Filters toggled off, the Firewall provides no defense against B program attacks. On the plus side, the effective Response of the network is increased by 2.
It takes one Complex Action to engage or disengage Biofeedback Filtration, and the Firewall must already be cracked to allow this sort of thing, which requires a Software (4, 1 hour) extended test to get off the ground. One cannot run BTL chips in the manner that they were intended without doing so. If the Firewall has not been previously configured to allow this sort of tomfoolery, the entire Firewall can be disengaged with a number of consecutive Complex Actions equal to the rating of the Firewall. A network which is not running a Firewall at all gains the same +2 Response as a network running a Firewall with the Biofeedback Filters disengaged.

Toggle VR/AR
A hacker (or technomancer) can switch between AR and VR as a complex action. Note that AR itself is basically impossible to turn off, the best you can hope for is shutting unwanted AR signals out with a firewall or Faraday Cage. While in VR, a character gets 3 IP and the thresholds for piloting remotely are reduced by 1. Also, their Initiative in VR is Reaction + Intuition + Response. Digital speeds are quite fast. However, the character's body is largely inert and physically perceiving anything is made with a -6 penalty.

Matrix Attributes
A lie told often enough is the truth, an this baby is rated at 900 TPM.?

While networks are heavily dependent upon the brains which are orchestrating them, the computers which run on them are also incredibly important. Remember that an entire network uses the best attributes from its constituent pieces. That is after all the entire purpose of the distributed networking systems that are in use in the twenty seventies.

Physical Attributes
When skills call for one to use physical attributes through a VR interface, you use your Mental attributes instead, precisely as if you were astrally projecting. So while the Forgery and Gunnery skills nominally utilize Agility as the linked attribute, when used through VR interfaces, Logic is used in lieu of Agility. Charisma stands in for Strength, Intuition stands in for Reaction, Logic stands in for Agility, and Willpower replaces Body.

An exception to this rule is VR initiative, which is Intuition + Response + Reaction (this being your actual Reaction attribute).

Dedicated and Generic Attributes
Many devices have specialized hardware and software which are optimized for their particular set up. These devices may have dedicated attributes. A dedicated Firewall is just like a normal Firewall program except that it is incapable of functioning for a network – it literally is only capable of protecting the device it is running on.
Other devices have generic attributes. These devices have programming and hardware that is intended to orchestrate and operate a network. Commlinks and the Operating Systems built for them have Generic Attributes.
When a network forms, all of the constituents automatically use the highest available Generic Attributes. And yes, that does mean that a device which has a very optimized system is potentially more vulnerable when plugged into a network. That should surprise noone actually.

Everyone's SIN, every truth, every lie, and every thing that anyone or everyone “knows? has a veracity rating. If an automated system is set to discover whether something is true or not, this can be handled with a series of rolls. First, the scanner rolls a number of dice equal to its rating, if it rolls a number of hits equal to the fact's Veracity, the scanner has found something wrong with the fact and rejects it. If the scanner scores a critical glitch, it rejects the fact having found some completely inept reason to discount the fact (unrelated person with similar name, a slipped connection with a primary data server, or maybe even just a garbled file). Assuming that the fact has not been rejected, roll the Veracity of the fact, if it scores at least one hit some sufficiently pleasing corroborating data has been unearthed and the fact flies through, treated as true (this step can usually be skipped if the fact has a Veracity of 4+ as one can normally buy a hit). If the Veracity has not scored a hit, then the scanner will become “suspicious? and try again, adding the hits it got from the first attempt to find a hole to the second (effectively becoming an extended test).
    Veracity Ratings of the World
    1 Blog Entries
    3 Recent News Stories
    4 Repeated News Stories
    5 Criminal SINs
    6 Corporate SINs
    7 National ID
    8 Corporate Court SINs
    10 Public Record
If something is treated as true, it will gradually propagate itself throughout the Matrix and gain Veracity. If something is outed as false, its Veracity will suffer. In any case, there's nothing stopping people from simply repeating something over and over again and treating it as true until it becomes common knowledge. After all “everyone knows? that Clinton “lied in court.? Interestingly, in “reality? he didn't: “sex? was specifically defined for the particular court case he was involved in and the specific acts he was alleged to have partaken in weren't on the list, so whether you believe the Starr Report or not, Clinton still “told the truth? in court. However, the Veracity of the statement that Clinton “lied in court? is way over 6, because of how often it is repeated and how many people “know? this fact.
    Item Spotlight: Hacking Credsticks
    Credsticks are designed to be fairly difficult to tamper with, and that means that they have a Dedicated Firewall between 4 and 8. However, just because you hacked them doesn't mean you have any more money. The Credstick doesn't have any money, it just has your ID and a claim that you have a lot of cash stored on Zürich Orbital or in some other bank such as the MIB or the Banco de Aztlan. That claim has a veracity of 1 because it's just a Credstick and not an actual financial institution. So it will only allow you to cheat on the most basic of cred scanners.
    What you can do by hacking a credstick is empty the bank account of someone else – essentially stealing the money out of their wallet. You do this by hacking the credstick's protocols for authorization and then start spending other people's money. This is at least as risky as using someone else's credit card is in 2007, which is why the traditional plan is to go on a spending spree purchasing items which will not be traced and then ditching the hacked stick.

Ultimately any device is going to be running software on it as well as allowing its processing to be used by other parts of its network and calling upon other network devices to cough up spare processing to it during demanding tasks. This kind of N Processor networking is functionally impossible in the year 2007, and requires not only a tremendous amount of processing power but also software based operating systems that are mathematically much more capable than the ones we have today. The System rating of a device is a measure of how stable and coherent the software is when exposed to the myriad service calls and induction-based information transfers that occur constantly in the Matrix. Even a simple System Rating of 1 is enough to put along quite happily so long as noone attempts to destabilize it or use it.
System Rating limits how many sustained programs can be running simultaneously before penalties begin to accumulate, as well as limiting how many sensory feeds can simultaneously be overlain on the user of the network.

Networks protect themselves automatically.
Firewall is used as a dicepool to resist many forms of Matrix attack. Also, Any time IC is used, the Firewall subs in for all of the IC's attributes.

Response is a measurement of hardware's ability to react to commands and
The Reaction of the central unit of a network is added to one's VR initiative. Also, Reaction marks a hard cap on how high a rating a character can program on the fly. Finally, a character operating in the Matrix may take a number of Matrix Free Actions each IP equal to the network's Response.

Shadowrun mostly concerns itself with very large amounts of data flowing from one point to another. The ranges for Signal ratings assume a high density signal capable of transmission of sense data and complex equations and extensive Matrix transformations. Simple transmissions such as voice and text carry much farther. Low density signal transfer goes out as far as if the Signal rating were two higher. Cell towers for instance, can send and receive low density signals out to 100 kilometers, though they can only send high density signal out to 10km. The Signal table is on page 212 of SR4.

Icon Condition Track (for Icon or Matrix damage)
Icons do not keep track of physical and stun damage separately. Instead there is just a single condition monitor which represents the health of the entire network. Each network has a number of boxes equal to 8 + ½ System rating. When a network's condition monitor is filled, the network and all of the devices on it are incapable of taking Matrix actions and their System and Firewall ratings are considered zero.

Networks can be restored to a previous state in which they weren't damaged. To determine how long this takes make a Response + System (10, 1 turn) extended test. This test uses the total System rating rather than the current effective System Rating (which of course, is zero). Note that cascading viruses are the rule in 2071, so larger networks are not any harder to bring down than smaller networks.

Technomancers and their Attributes
A Technomancer's “network? is just her own body. As such, her attributes on the Matrix are not dependent upon her equipment in any meaningful fashion.
    Firewall A Technomancer's Firewall is equal to her Willpower.
    Response A technomancer's Response rating it equal to her Intuition.
    Signal A technomancer's Signal rating is equal to half her Charisma, rounded up.
    System A technomancer's System rating is equal to her Logic.
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post Nov 5 2007, 07:30 PM
Post #6

Prime Runner

Group: Banned
Posts: 3,732
Joined: 1-September 05
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Member No.: 7,665

Programs and Complex Forms

Every Program or Complex Form fits into a Category. This category doesn't simply change which Mentors provide a bonus to characters using them, but to which skill is actually linked with activating the Program in the first place.
    Analysis Programs
    Analysis Programs gather and discriminate information from the Matrix. Based off of the Data Search skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Detection Spells.

    Attack Programs
    Attack Programs interfere with computing procedures, whether performed by machines or the metahuman brain. Based off of the Cybercombat skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Combat Spells.

    Background Programs
    Background Programs adjust perceptions of the Matrix. Whether they create virtual sensation or create an interactive game world, they take up trivial amounts of memory and do not count as a running program for any purpose. Any perception affecting programming that is capable of actually overwhelming another user's reality preferences is a Communication Program, not a Background Program. Background Programming requires no roll or skill to create or maintain (though playing games and whatnot may involve skill checks if for some reason it is important to determine how well a character's gaming has gone during a session).

    Communications Programs
    Communications Programs affect encryption and signal transmission in the Matrix. Based off the Electronic Warfare skill, these programs are most close analogous to Illusion Spells.

    Exploit Programs
    Exploit Programs mimic instructions in devices and networks. Based off the Hacking skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Manipulation Spells, most specifically control manipulations.

    Operations Programs
    Operations Programs make systems do what they are “supposed? to do. Based off the Computer skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Health Spells, though most of the memory hogging programming that the 6th world has filled its servers with, whether it's crunching numbers on projected soda demands or masterminding a world conquest scheme, are also Operations Programs.

    Firewall Programs
    Distinct from other programming, a Firewall Program doesn't use the skills of a computer operator at all. It is a program which actually runs other programs, without a human brain's directions. The Firewall can use its own rating as a dicepool to use any program, but can those programs which have a range of “Connection?. Firewall Programming cannot initiate a connection, and takes no more than 1 IP per round regardless of what is going on or how .
  • Note that the existence of Firewall Programming is inherently dangerous to the stability and even existence of the world. Should it ever be able to seriously threaten a Hacker in terms of mobility and effect, we're in Skynet or Dreams of Flesh and Sand territory where the human race has perhaps become a pale vestige attached to a planet dominated by instantly self replicating machine overlords – so gamemasters are well advised to take a good hard look at anything that they allow a Firewall Program to do under any circumstances.

    Pilots / Autosofts / and Skillsofts
    Perhaps the most powerful of programming are the ones which replicate skills. There is no “Longarms? program. There are, however, a number of programs which when confronted with specific hardware and a decently massive pile of processing to fall back on can successfully fire a shotgun. Skillsofts work because there is a Skillwire system in place to slave the human brain into acting as the reserve computer that such a massive program would need. Also, it's metahuman specific, a whole new Skillsoft would have to be devised for a naga or a hellhound, even if they did have a skillwire system produced for them.

    Similarly, a Pilot program is not generic. It's specific to a specific device. You can't just grab a 1000¥ drone and copy its pilot into your car – the drone doesn't have to handle the high speeds that the passenger vehicle does and its programming simply wouldn't be appropriate to the other machine. Autosofts, similarly are device specific. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need hundreds of different versions of every Autosoft. After all, the Clearsight soft is specific to cameras not to one or another kind of drone – so it can actually be reused on many different drones so long as they are all picking up camera data on the same frequencies.

    Decompiling Forms
    Decompiling Forms are only available to users of Resonance. They remove things from the Matrix. This is exceedingly different from corrupting data or creating alternative truths of higher seeming veracity, and use of these forms upsets a lot of people.

    Registering Forms
    Registering Forms are only available to users of Resonance and change the way icons interact with the Matrix. They are therefore more similar to things which might be accomplished with Software or Hardware tests.

    MacGuffin Programming
    There are lots of programs which do large and processing intensive actions. They synthesize skill softs, they predict the weather, they control nanite fabrication. These programs are often measured in “Man Years? to completion and they take a truly staggering amount of computational power to run to completion. There is no purpose served in having specific rules for these programs and so we don't.

Biofeedback programs directly affect metahuman brains, Data programs affect machines. Programming is labeled with a B or a D to distinguish its type. An orphan brain can only be affected by type B procedures, an empty network or lone device can only be affected by D programming. If a program can be used on either, it will be labeled with both a B and a D.


Decrypting a Signal?
Due to the distributed nature of data storage and transmission, and the direct induction method employed by many major hacking operations, decrypting a device's signal is generally not required to hack a connection to it. Devices can be suborned and added to a hacker's network without the hacker ever knowing or caring what information had previously been passed through it.
Line of Sight (LOS)
Many programs can only be used with very precise targeting. Causing a specific transformation in the data of a hard drive is not simply a matter of sending out a broadcast of a long series of waves that will miraculously effect a change in one device and not in any other. It's way more complicated than that and actually not even doable with pre-2029 technology. It involves making a precision electrical effect at a specific point in space. It's probably quantum or something. The point is, if a range is followed by (LOS), then your signal producing device actually has to be able to draw a clear line to the point in space that the target is physically present at, as well as knowing where that target is. The math involved is hellacious of course, but fortunately you've got really powerful computers and they are all harnessed together and able to draw upon the power of a human brain.
    Programming with a Signal range can be used if the target is within the range of projectable high density signal of the actor's network. Signal range is abbreviated “S? in programming descriptions.

    Programming with a Handshake range can only be used if the target is within the range of high density signal of the actor's network and the actor is within the high density signal range of the target's network. If both the target and the actor have an open connection to a third party's node they are within Handshake range of each other regardless of distance in the real world. An unmodified human has a high density signal range of “contact?, meaning that an orphan brain needs to be in contact with a signal producing device in order for Handshake programs to function in either direction. Handshake range is abbreviated “H? in programming descriptions.

    Programming with a Connection range can only be used if the actor has an open account on the target or vice versa. Connection range is abbreviated “C? in programming descriptions.

    Programming with a Matrix range can be used so long as the actor has a connection to the Matrix at large. Matrix range is abbreviated “M? in programming descriptions.

Not all programs take the same amount of time to use. Most take Complex Actions: “CA?, but some take Simple Actions: “SA? or extended periods of time to be properly used. Some programs are Sustained: “(S)? meaning that they are active for more than an instantaneous moment of extreme code use. A network can sustain a number of running procedures equal to its System rating before experiencing slow-down. Every additional sustained program reduces all Matrix dicepools of the network by 2 dice. If a system is called upon to run a number of sustained programs beyond its system rating equal to the Logic of the metahuman brain running it, the entire network crashes. Some programming is Permanent: “(P)? meaning that it affects a real change onto the Matrix which will persist after the network which spawned it stops dedicating processing cycles to it. These programs must be sustained for 15 combat rounds, after which they no longer require or benefit from input the originating network. Hits on the originating success test can be dedicated to reducing the required sustaining time rather than to increasing the effect of the action. Every hit used to speed the process reduces the required sustaining time by 3 rounds.

Analysis Programs
    Type: D Range: C Time: SA (P)
    Backtracking is a method to find the real world source of information that is being placed into one's own data stores through a combination of packet analysis and very complicated mathematical hijinks that are well beyond the author to explain or understand. The end result is that a Backtrack action will be successful if it gains more hits on a Logic + Data Search check than the target has already achieved on a Matrix Stealth check (only 1 hit is needed to successfully backtrack a network which is not attempting to be stealthy). The program reveals the real world location of the target to within a 1 meter radius as soon as the program becomes Permanent.

    Brain Scan
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    The contents of brains can be determined at a distance with modern data management techniques. But actually getting specific information out of a metahuman brain's gigantic pile of flashing instructions is time consuming and intensive. Specific information is not successfully retrieved from the target's memory until the scan has been sustained on the target long enough to be Permanent.

    Find Mind
    Type: B Range: S Time: CA (S)
    Disturbances in the packet flow can reveal the locations of certain kinds of interference. One of the most often looked for is the presence of metahuman brains. This technique is far more likely to work on a brain whose signal is not being modulated by a connection to a network or signal defense. This program functions similarly to a Detection Spell in the information it can give, and is resisted by Firewall and Signal Defense.

    Type: D Range: H (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    Probing is a technique used to identify the weaknesses in a device or connection. The user makes a Logic + Datasearch test opposed only by Signal Defense. In subsequent actions, the character's dicepools for programming used against that target are increased by the net hits. Only the most successful Probe provides benefits should the character attempt it more than once on the same target, and all Probes against a single target expire the next time the target takes a Matrix Full Defense action.

    Reveal Contents
    Type: D Range: H (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    Data in data stores can be successfully inferred from the outside, given sufficient probing. The user makes a Logic + Datasearch test opposed by the device's Firewall and Signal Defense (if any). Information in the data stores will be copied out (though not necessarily decrypted or defused) once the program has been sustained long enough to become Permanent.

    Who Is
    Type: D Range: M Time: CA (P)
    The Who Is protocols are an ancient and time honored method of finding the real world location of an LTG (which is like a phone number or email address). While somewhat time consuming, these techniques are quite powerful. If the number of hits on the Logic + Datasearch test equals the target's Matrix stealth test, the location of the target's transmitter will be found by the time the Who Is becomes permanent.
Attack Programs
Cybercombat usually is a short and brutal affair. As much as hackers like to describe the dance of code and the clashing of packets, when it comes to ending up on top, shooting first is a big step towards it.

Using an Attack Program involves rolling Logic + Cybercombat, using the target's Firewall as a defense pool. A character may add their own Cybercombat skill to their defense pool against programming with a range of C. Programming with a range of S or H is affected as normal by Signal Defense. If an Attack Program is soaked, a B program is soaked by Willpower and a D program is soaked by System.
    Black Hammer
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: CA
    An improper neural impulse can digest a pancreas, terminate breathing, or stop a heart, which is exactly what Black Hammer does. If a character is affected by Black Hammer, she uses Willpower (Biofeedback Filter bonuses apply) to resist physical damage equal to the Rating of the attack plus the net hits. Black Hammer is incapable of doing damage beyond that which is necessary to completely fill in the condition monitor. Any excess damage is lost (stoppage of internal organ function is bad, but it's not "heads exploding" bad).

    Type: D Range: C Time: SA
    Spam and Viruses are a fact of life in the wireless world. But when you can see nothing but, you’re probably in the process of being crashed. If an Icon is affected by Crash, it uses Armor + System to resist Icon damage equal to the rating of the attack plus any net hits. Program Icons have their hits reduced by the net hits of the crash attack.

    Data Bomb
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (P)
    A Data Bomb is a form of trap. If triggered, it releases malicious code and destroys the contents it is wrapped around. A Data Bomb is “set? by wrapping it around one or more files. Databombs are not easy to detect, requiring a Matrix Perception test with a threshold equal to the number of hits achieved when setting the databomb. If the file is directly accessed (to read or copy), the bomb “explodes? this destroys the data (requiring a threshold of Recovery equal to the number of hits initially scored creating the Data Bomb), and damaging the icon of whoever detonated the bomb (inflicting Icon Damage equal to program rating). Data Bombs are normally bypassed with a passkey of some sort, but the Data Bomb program can separately be Crashed, or the passkey can be Spoofed. Failing to bypass a Databomb results in exactly the same effect as simply accessing the data without noticing the bomb in the first place.

    Type: D Range: M Time: CA (S)
    Denial is a river in Egypt. This is an attack which sends a large number of nuisance requests for data to the target LTG through the Matrix. This results in the target network being destabilized, or possibly even crashing altogether. The Logic + Attack check is resisted with Firewall + Willpower, and every net hit counts as an additional program that the target is sustaining. The target network may remove effective sustained programs with an additional resistance test whenever it takes a Matrix Defense action.

    Type: B Range: C Time: CA
    Jingle plants an idea into the target's mind, getting its name for its first use: forcing people to remember advertising slogans. The Logic + Cybercombat check is opposed by the target's Firewall + Willpower + Cybercombat (if any). Net hits set the veracity with which the subject views the new fact.

    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: CA
    It takes only 7 misfired neurons to create an epileptic event in a normal human. A well-placed set of induction instructions can turn even the most physically capable of metahumans into a convulsing mass of tissue. If a character is affected by Seize, she may immediately resist the net hits of the attack with Willpower (Biofeedback Filter bonuses apply). If there are any net hits remaining, the character begins uncontrollably convulsing and is incapacitated. Every (Rating) combat rounds, the victim may make another Willpower check to attempt to reduce the remaining net hits of the attack. When the net hits are reduced to zero, the character regains control of her body.

Communications Programs
The punishment was that one man could not understand the other. Can you believe they used to consider that a punishment??
Using a Communications program requires a Logic + Electronic Warfare test.
    Type: D Range: S Time: Special (S or P)
    Cryptology is a really complicated subject which is at the very heart of much of computing. Due to the fact that any really serious data management has to go through metahuman brains (which were never designed to have safe cryptography), decoding any high end running programming or transmitted real-time instructions is actually pretty easy. Files stored for later use, however, can be encoded in arbitrarily complex fashion and are potentially very hard nuts to crack. In certain rare cases, especially small messages may in fact be impossible to crack without access to the original key (a process called a “one time pad? where a single statement has a specific one-use meaning which is never repeated and therefore cannot be analyzed). Regardless, encrypted traffic can be decrypted in real time unless said traffic is simplistic in the extreme.

    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (S)
    Jamming can really put a cramp into the style of modern networking. But with the expenditure of merely titanic computational resources on filtering out interference and reiterating questionable data packets, the difficulties can be mitigated. The user makes a Logic + Electronic Warfare test with a threshold equal to half the Background that she is attempting to overcome. Each net hit reduces the effective Background that the user has to deal with.

    Type: D Range: C Time: Special (S or P)
    The inverse of decryption. Information of high density is very difficult to satisfactorily keep secure over any reasonable amount of time. Words and simple pictures can be encrypted beyond what is likely to be cracked before time ends.

    Type: D Range: H Time: SA (S)
    When two devices or networks have an active connection, a third party (that's you) can use Impersonate to create a connection with one or the other system by insinuating itself as the one of the participants. If successful, not only does the user establish a connection, but the original connection is severed. The Logic + Electronic Warfare test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any). The Signal Rating of the impersonated device is also added to the defense pool, assuming that it is still functional.

    Type: D Range: H Time: SA (S)
    Data traveling through the air can be recorded by anyone within range, and for those of a cryptographic bent, that information can be used to figure out all kinds of things. Obtaining the information from a conversation between two other devices requires a Logic + Electronic Warfare test opposed by System + Signal Defense (if any).

Exploit Programs
Using an Exploitprogram requires a Logic + Hacking test.
    Type: D Range: H Time: CA (P)
    Backdoor creates a special trick that the user can activate as a Free Action which creates a connection between the target and the user. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any).

    Jedi Trick
    Type: D Range: S Time: CA
    Jedi Trick bypasses a request for a password or show of credentials. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any).

    Master Control
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA
    Master Control is a method to ramp an account up in privileges. Just because a data connection exists doesn't mean that the network on the other end actually trusts data packets from that source. This program solves that by manually altering the routing information for the user's connection, causing it to be treated with greater privileges. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Cybercombat (if any).

    Type: D Range: S Time: CA
    Data is stored all kinds of crazy places, and successfully using Misplace causes data to begin being stored in a place topologically similar to “the trashcan?. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any).

    Type: D Range: S Time: CA
    Ostraka causes a subscribed device or program to be apparently told to disengage from the network. If it succeeds, the program shuts down or the device is ejected from the network and becomes a lone device. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any).

    Type: B Range: S Time: SA (S)
    The target's autonomic nervous system is activated remotely. This can be embarrassing and socially awkward, but is usually not directly dangerous unless they have an adrenal pump (which can be activated by this method). No matter what the actual contents of the subject's intestines, the results can be distracting and painful, causing a -2 penalty to all dicepools (this penalty does not stack with further uses of this programming). The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any) + Biofeedback Filter (if any).

    Type: B&D Range: H Time: CA
    Taxman causes the user to become a seemingly legitimate data request. If successful, the target system begins sending requested files to the Taxman. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any).
Operations Programs
Noone believes video evidence any more.?
Using an Operations Program requires a Logic + Computer test.
    Type: D Range: H Time: CA (S)
    Armor Programming makes a system more resilient to Matrix damage. While it is running, the target network rolls an extra number of dice to resist Icon Damage equal to its rating. Only the best Armor program applies if more than one is running.

    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (S)
    Fabrication makes a seemingly meaningful datstream out of nothing at all. The data can continue to be produced indefinitely in real time, with a quality dictated by the results of a Logic + Computer test. This data can be tossed or saved. Multiple copies of Fabrication can run on the same network or even multiple networks in order to produce more data. For example, 6 hours of video footage can be created from whole cloth in an hour and a half by having four copies of Fabrication running for that period. If merely modifying existing footage, one should just use Data Manipulation.

    Type: D Range: H (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    Medic repairs Icon Damage equal to the number of hits gleaned from a Logic + Computer test (maximum equal to Rating). Once the effects of Medic are permanent, the programming can be run again for credit.

    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (P)
    Obscure makes a fact unfindable within a datastore. Overwriting it thousands of times and redirecting links until the data is simply gone. Hits set the threshold for future Recovery actions.

    Type: D Range: C Time: 1 minute (P)
    Deleting information beyond the potential for recovery is a difficult enterprise. Using Recover, data which has been destroyed can be reassembled into something readable. If the action gets sufficient hits to recreate the lost file, it becomes fully assembled once the program becomes permanent. Recover can also be used to repair icon damage equal to hits, though it is not ideal for this purpose.

    Redundant Biofeedback Filters
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (S)
    Redundant Biofeedback Filters are something which is highly encouraged for users experienced and newbie alike when navigating the dangerous world of the modern Matrix. While it is running, the target network rolls an extra number of dice to resist B attacks equal to its rating. Only the best Redundant Biofeedback Filter program applies if more than one is running, but IT specialists will roll their eyes at you if you aren't running at least one.

    Terminate Connection
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA
    Terminate Connection makes the user's network no longer connected to the target. The range usually will then be Handshake unless the connection had originally been made through a Matrix link. The user rolls Logic + Operations and is opposed by the enemy network's System + Intuition. Success terminates the connection and purges any Backdoor used to establish it in the first place.

Decompiling Forms
    Can of Worms
    Type: D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+2
    This dread technique simultaneously assaults all networks in range except the technomancer herself. She makes a Resonance + Decompiling check resisted by each network's Firewall + Signal Defense. Those which are affected must soak Icon Damage equal to Rating + net hits.

    Death Note
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: SA Fading: ½R
    The song that ends a man is played. Man goto end. The technomancer makes a Resonance + Decompiling check, and if it is not successfully resisted with the target's Firewall + Signal Defense, the target must resist physical damage equal to the rating plus net hits with Willpower.

    Type: D Range: C (LOS) Time: SA (S) Fading: ½R
    The Technomancer overwhelms the processors of a network with irrelevancies. The technomancer makes a Resonance + Decompiling check, and if it is not successfully resisted with the target's Firewall + Cybercombat the target's Response is reduced by the net hits. A target whose Response hits zero simply crashes as if its entire Icon Damage monitor was filled.

    Registry Dump
    Type: D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+2
    All running programming on all networks in range of the technomancer destabilize and may get dumped outright. She makes a Resonance + Decompiling check resisted by each network's Firewall + Signal Defense. Those which are affected have all sustained programs have their number of activating hits reduced by the number of net hits the technomancer achieves. Programs which are reduced to zero hits fade from the matrix as if they had never been.

    Type: D Range: C (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+3
    The target network is reset backwards in time a number of rounds equal to the net hits made against the target's Firewall + Willpower + Cybercombat. Alerts triggered, data accumulated, and Icon Damage sustained during these rounds are gone forever.

Registering Forms
A Registering Form is used with Resonance + Registering.
    Type: D Range: S Time: CA Fading: ½R+1
    The Resonance shakes itself slightly, and at the end a device that had been part of one network is now part of another. The technomancer's Resonance + Registering test is compared against the Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense of both networks, and if it succeeds all involved parties display the device as having always been a part of the new network.

    Test Pattern
    Type: B&D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+1
    An idea is placed into the Resonance and it holds the appearance of the physically real. The technomancer defines some set of parameters which are then recorded as valid by all sensory devices in the area of the technomancer's Signal range, whether they are microphones or human eyes. The technomancer makes a Resonance + Registering check. Any observers inside the range must make the same number of hits on an Intuition + Response + Signal Defense or the technomancer's defined parameters take precedence over “real? sense data.

    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: 1 hour (P) Fading: ½R+2
    New data is implanted directly into the values, knowledge, and social mores of the target. The target resists the effects with Willpower, but being attached to a network with the biofeedback filtration active can undo this kind of conditioning rather easily. The effects do not take hold until it becomes permanent, and every round a Firewall is engaged it can make an attempt to prevent it by succeeding in a Firewall + Biofeedback Filter (net hits).

    Type: D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R
    If the form is successful, any number of new valid passcodes are added to a device or network. This is resisted with Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense.

Background Programs

A background program is capable of running on a single device and does not need to run on the entire network nor does it particularly benefit from doing so. This means that a background program does not count as a program running on any network. Most of them don't even need rules, because they don't come into direct conflict with other programs. Here are some examples that your characters might have running:
    Virtual Pet
    Miracle Shooter
    Krank Kall
    Joke of the Day
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+Quote Post
post Nov 5 2007, 07:31 PM
Post #7

Prime Runner

Group: Banned
Posts: 3,732
Joined: 1-September 05
From: Prague, Czech Republic
Member No.: 7,665

Technomancers and Sprites
Frankly, I don't see why my existence should have to make sense. It is the providence of every sapient creature that they exist only after their creation and thus be inherently uncertain as to their original formation. It would, I think, be fundamentally unfair if you had certainty as to our origins just because you existed before us.?

The Deep Resonance has been kicking around for about a generation. Maybe longer if you believe some of the conspiracy theories. Deep in the Matrix there is a kind of music, and it seems to shape things as much or more than it is created by the hands of man. Technomancers are the latest result in the ongoing tale of the Deep Resonance. They can do things with the Matrix that others cannot. Considering that the average man on the street is literally a block out of which the Matrix is built, that makes people uneasy.

Resonance or Dissonance? I prefer half a Dozen.
I want you to consider this combat shotgun very carefully before you tell me your opinions on Skub. Are you for or against? There is obviously, no middle ground here.?

The Deep Resonance does not explain itself. Technomancers “hear? it, and they have abilities that are beyond those of ordinary men. But are those abilities because of the Deep Resonance or in spite of the Deep Resonance? If their powers come from the DR, can they expand their skills by listening more to it or the places in the Matrix that it doesn't exist? Noone knows for sure, but many technomancers are willing to shiv each other over these and other questions. The discussions are essentially theological, as for one thing listening for the silences and listening for the notes actually means that you are listening just as hard to the Matrix as a whole and nothing has actually changed except your attitude to it. Very basically technomancers fall into “Resonance? camps and “Dissonance? camps. The Dissonance speakers believe that it is the ways in which information interference causes static and echoes that ultimately results in their powers. The Resonance speakers believe that it is the way that information feeds on itself and culminates in the creation of something of revolutionarily more complexity that somehow results in their powers.

Who's right? I don't know. Maybe they are both wrong, or right. But game mechanically they all have the same abilities. These rules assume that your character is a Resonance speaker, but if you want to put a “D? instead of an “R? on your sheet that's fine. Your Dissonance attribute works exactly the same as the Resonance attribute of another technomancer. Other questions, such as whether the Deep Resonance wants something from you, whether the Resonance needs to be helped or fought, whether it is the Song or the Silence which should be described, whether other technomancers are a good sign, whether metahumanity should shed mortal existence and transcend into a digital existence, are all important questions that your character should have firm and possibly contradictory beliefs on. After all, technomancers kill each other over these and other questions. But they don't actually change anything on your character sheet, so we'll leave them to your imagination.

Learning Complex Forms
Learning a Complex Form costs 3 BP (or 5 Karma if you use Karma). It requires a Logic + Compiling (3, 1 day) test. However, it also requires a Resonance Formula or a Teacher. A Registered Sprite can function as a teacher. Resonance formula are crazy nonsenical segments of massive, nonfunctional computer code.

Technomantic Groups: Tribes, Cults, Choirs, Bands, or Gangs
I'm not really seeing Cindy anymore because she had the whites of her eyes surgically removed. That and she only wanted to use me as a crystal seed to sublimate all of human consciousness into a post-singularity apotheosis. I couldn't hang with that either.?

Joining a group of Technomancers is a very reasonable endeavor. It gives the same cost benefits towards Submersion as group joining does for magical initiations (20%). Joining a group also costs 3 BP (or 5 Karma if you use Karma). Getting into the group requires not only an invitation but also a successful Charisma + Registering (3) test. The prospective member gets +1 die for every stricture the group holds to. There is no limit to how many groups a Technomancer can be in, and once she has successfully joined one it costs no BP to join another. Technomancers in the same group can use each other's Resonance Nodes and can more easily teach each other Complex Forms.

Echoes. Echoes.
Do not leave the code of the virtuakinetics long in the dustbin, but delete it quickly and scour it bit by bit from the data stores of your system. Great holes secretly are digged where the fiber optic backbone ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl...?

Sigh. The Echoes made available in the Basic Book are with only one exception extremely lame. +1 to Biofeedback Filter program? Seriously? Blow that. Here are some Echoes you might actually want:
    Overclocking. The only good one in the basic book. Go for it.

    Aegis A technomancer with Aegis adds her Submersion Grade to the Signal Defense she provides.

    Amplitude The technomancer's Signal is increased by 1. This Echo can be taken multiple times, and its effects stack.

    Datamasking A Technomancer with Datamasking can make Matrix Stealth checks with Resonance + Hacking instead of Intuition or Logic + Hacking if she wants. In addition, any time she makes a Matrix Stealth check she adds her Submersion Grade.

    Datamining Similar to Divining, the technomancer gleans information directly from the Deep Resonance in some suitably creepy and cryptic fashion. The base dicepool is Intuition + Data Search.

    Invoking A Technomancer with Invoking can upgrade Great Form Sprites during a Registering or Reregistering session. The dicepool is Resonance + Registering + Sprite's Rating. Fading has 50% more DV than the Registration would normally.

    Listening A technomancer with Listening can hear the Deep Resonance well beyond where she is able to actually affect things. The technomancer can passively sense the presence of Background that is within a radius of her equivalent to 2 more than her actual Signal rating for high density signal. By concentrating for a complex action, she can attempt to pick out individual the presence and actions of Matrix devices in that area. The dicepool is Resonance + Electronic Warfare + Grade; and the information gained uses the Detection Spell results on page 198 of SR4.

    Squatting Similar to Geomancy, Squatting attunes a Background to the technomancer. Resculpting the Resonance in an area requires a Registering test and a lot of time.

    Telecommuting Normally a technomancer cannot follow a connection between servers in VR if the intervening territory includes an area which doesn't get signal. A technomancer with telecommuting can do so by instantaneously existing on both sides of the connection and thus never getting cut off from the Deep Resonance. Rumors persist of a Deeper Echo based on this technique which is usable in combat somehow.
Are these the only Echoes? Heck no! For one thing, there are Deeper Echoes which build off of existing Echoes like Advanced Metamagic build off of regular metamagics. You can fill them in yourself if needed, and remember that Technomancy is really young and new. The fact that people on the Matrix persist in spreading rumors of secret Echoes called Banding, Whispering, Reset, Forgetting, Retrieving, and Supercooling does not mean that these Echoes ever have to show up in the hands of players in your campaign. They may not actually exist.

Sprites are the primary selling point of technomancers in Shadowrun, and function very similarly to Spirits. Because they do have arbitrarily defined limitations, they are not inherently world destroying as “Agents? were, so of course we would want to include them in any overall Matrix overhaul. Nonetheless, it is painfully clear that the writeup in the basic book is incomprehensible gibberish and relatively little of it can be salvaged. I mean hell, the “Fault Sprite? is supposed to be a combat monster, but it actually can't fight at all because it is incapable of detecting icons in the matrix (and thus cannot make attacks under any circumstances). That's dumb. So this is a completely redone version of Sprites. The statlines and powers on pages 236 and 237 of the basic book are not salvageable in any fashion.

Sprites are almost never actually “in? a particular device, but instead float around in free space as a ripple in the Resonance which surrounds Matrix devices. Like technomancers, a sprite is considered to be connected to all systems within range of themselves. A sprite can “be? anywhere, and can move its location at the speed of light. But sprites suffer a reduction in rating if they are in an area with limited wireless connectivity (such as a dead zone) or an area with lots of interference (such as a jammed area). If a Sprite is ever beyond its signal range to all Matrix devices, it is destroyed utterly. Every sprite has the same signal range as the technomancer who compiled it.

Types of Sprites
I've heard your song. It's a bad song.?

There are now ten categories of Sprites, and each technomancer has a personal song which can compile just five of them. Like magical traditions, each individual interpretation of the Deep Resonance assigns one type to each category of programming, and registered sprites of that type can assist a technomancer in learning or sustaining Complex Forms of that is appropriate to the category that the Sprite applies to. A Sprite does not need to have an appropriate skill to affect a category of forms in that manner.
    Archive Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+0 R+2 R+3 R-1 R-1 R-1 R-1
    Skills: Computer, Datasearch, Electronic Warfare
    Complex Forms: Decrypt, Encrypt, Fabrication, Recover, Reveal Contents, Obscure, Who Is
    Powers: Filter, Find, Skill (any Knowledge skill)
    Optional Powers: Antivirus, Innate Form (Analysis), Signal Management, Skill (any Knowledge skill), Spam
    Corruption Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+1 R-1 R+0 R+2 R-2 R+0 R+0
    Skills: Computer, Cybercombat, Datasearch, Software
    Complex Forms: Crash, Data Bomb, Encrypt, Misplace, Obscure
    Powers: Gremlins, Spam, Tesla Burst
    Optional Powers: Chain Letter, Innate Form (Attack), Message, Popups
    Crack Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+1 R-1 R+0 R+0 R-2 R+2 R+0
    Skills: Computer, Datasearch, Electronic Warfare, Hacking
    Complex Forms: Backdoor, Intercept, Jedi Trick, Master Control, Ostraka
    Powers: Chain Letter, Data Masking, Message
    Optional Powers: Find, Innate Form (Communications or Exploit), Gremlins, Merge, Popups
    Flame Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+2 R-1 R+0 R+0 R-2 R+1 R-1
    Skills: Cybercombat, Datasearch, Hacking, Intimidate
    Complex Forms: Denial, Impersonate, Jedi Trick, Jingle, Probe, Who Is
    Powers: Chain Letter, Innate Form (Attack), Message, Spam
    Optional Powers: Antivirs, Clarity, Gremlins, Pop Ups, Tesla Burst
    Flirt Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+2 R+0 R+0 R+1 R+0 R+0 R-3
    Skills: Datasearch, Electronic Warfare, Con, Etiquette
    Complex Forms: Brain Scan, Impersonate, Who Is
    Powers: Innate Form (Communications), Message, Spam
    Optional Powers: Data Masking, Desu, Filter, Skill (choose one Language)
    Fraud Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+1 R+0 R+0 R+0 R+0 R+2 R+0
    Skills: Computer, Datasearch, Electronic Warfare, Hacking, Forgery, Artisan, Con.
    Complex Forms: Fabrication, Probe, Reveal Contents
    Powers: Data Masking, Message
    Optional Powers: Chain Letter, Desu, Innate Form (Exploit), Popups, Signal Management
    Industry Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R-1 R+1 R+2 R+0 R+1 R-2 R-1
    Skills: Artisan, Computer, Datasearch, Mechanic
    Complex Forms: Backtrack, Fabrication, Medic, Terminate Connection
    Powers: Find, Gremlins, Merge, Stability
    Optional Powers: Clarity, Find, Innate Form (Analysis or Pilot), Skill (choose a Technical or Vehicle Skill)
    Machine Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+0 R+2 R+0 R-1 R+1 R+1 R-1
    Skills: Computer, Data Search, Electronic Warfare, Hardware
    Complex Forms: Clearsight, Recover, Reveal Contents, Terminate Connection
    Powers: Merge, Skill (choose one Vehicle Skill), Stability
    Optional Powers: Find, Innate Form (Operations or Pilot), Signal Management, Skill (choose a Technical or Vehicle Skill)
    Sentry Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R-2 R+1 R+0 R+0 R+1 R-1 R+2
    Skills: Computer, Cybercombat, Data Search, Electronic Warfare
    Complex Forms: Armor, Backtrack, Crash, Medic, Terminate Connection.
    Powers: Antivirus, Data Masking, Signal Management
    Optional Powers:
Tesla Burst, Stability, Message, Innate Form (Analysis or Attack), Clarity

Powers of Sprites

The Sprite may grant its rating in bonus dice to soak Icon damage to a number of icons up to the Sprite's System. If more than one Sprite is providing Antivirus to the same device or network, use the teamwork rules.

Chain Letter
The Sprite opens a connection with the target which then begins attempting to open up connections with other networks and devices. The Sprite makes a Charisma + System check opposed by the target's Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any). Every net hit represents a combat turn in which any node can open a connection with the target with a Free Action.

The Sprite's mere presence causes the Resonance to be audible as a low hum even to non-technomancers. Any static zones within the sprite's Signal range are reduced in rating by half the Sprite's rating. This is determined before the Background has a chance to reduce the Sprite's rating.

Data Masking
The Sprite can appear to be any kind of Icon it chooses. This includes background iconography, allowing the sprite to become effectively invisible. Only those who get a number of hits on a Matrix Perception test equal to the hits it gets on a Response + Intuition test can perceive it for what it is – or at all if it doesn't want to be seen.

Desu desu desu desu desu, desu desu. Desu desu desu. Desu desu desu:
Desu. Desu desu desu desu desu desu. Desu; Desu; Desu. Desu desu desu.

The Sprite's presence actively removes clutter from the Resonance. Any spam zones within the sprite's Signal range are reduced in rating by half the Sprite's rating. This is determined before the Background has a chance to reduce the Sprite's rating.

The Sprites claim that information in data stores throughout the Matrix all feed into the Deep Resonance, that they can in some way be accessed regardless of whether Matrix topology allows a connection in the traditional sense. This is indicated quite clearly with the Find power – which allows a Sprite to make an Intuition + System test to say where a fact or file is actually located. Actually getting to that place may be difficult, but the first step in any journey is discovering where you are going. More encrypted data has a higher threshold to Find.

A Sprite with the Gremlins ability can make a device fail. The Sprite rolls twice its rating, if the target device is not part of a network, it simply rolls its Firewall to resist. If the device is part of a network, the resistance is made with Firewall + Intuition. If the sprite gets any net hits, the device fails as if a glitch had occurred. If the sprite achieves extraordinary success, the device fails catastrophically, as if a critical glitch had occurred.

Innate Form
A Sprite with the Innate Form power gains knowledge of one complex form that the compiling technomancer knows. If the Innate Form power is followed by one or more categories in parentheses, the Complex Form must be chosen from one of those categories.

Normally speaking, a sprite is not “in? a device, but a Sprite with the Merge power can do so. The sprite simply finds an orphan device and joins with it. The device behaves as if the sprite were networked with it. The sprite then can only interact with the Matrix through the device's own wireless or wired capabilities, but so long as the sprite is merged with a device it is not affected by Background as a sprite normally would be. In this way a sprite can crawl into a drone and drive off into a dead zone without winking out of existence.

A Sprite with Message can instantly send information to any Matrix address, regardless of real location. This message is low information density, and can thus only contain words, pictures, and instructions – not meaningful executable code. This email travels through the resonance realms and arrives instantaneously and cannot be intercepted. Both the Sprite and the target must be connected to the Matrix, but there need not be a literal or knowable connection available between the target and the Sprite. Even the speed of light is not a factor as the message does not actually travel through intervening space in any meaningful sense.

Pop Ups
The data-trail of some sprites is dangerously unstable and full of malicious code fragments. When such a sprite succeeds in using any Connection range form against another icon, that icon must resist the sprite's rating in Icon damage in addition to whatever effects the action would normally have. Furthermore, if another icon successfully connects with a Connection or Handshake ranged program or form against the sprite, that icon must resist the sprite's rating in Icon damage as destabilizing code rushes up the connection automatically.

Signal Management
A Sprite with Signal Management provides Signal Defense even though it is a Sprite.

A Sprite with Spam can fill up data stores with unwanted and useless information and queries. The veracity of all information in the target data stores is reduced by the sprite's rating.

A device protected by Stability does not suffer mishaps. Glitches are ignored and Critical Glitches are treated as the regular kind while operating the targeted device.

Tesla Burst
The sprite causes a discordant burst of electrical activity throughout the area of its Signal range. Any devices with a Signal less than the sprite's rating have their wireless projecting abilities burnt out . Devices with a device rating lower than the sprite's Signal become permanently nonfunctional.

Great Form Sprite Powers
There are more things in the Matrix than are dreamt of in your philosophy.?

When a Sprite is upgraded to Great Form, it may acquire a special power. The powers are very impressive, and using any one of them is a Task. Others exist, but here are some examples that may resonate with a particular song.

Akashic Recording
With the expenditure of a Task, the spirit simply creates Truth® on the Matrix. A fact, identity, or story resonates through the Matrix until it has always been there. This newly ancient wisdom has an apparent Veracity equal to the Sprite's Rating.

With the expenditure of a Task, the sprite extends itself into a metahuman's brain, transforming the body into an extension of the sprite's network. The Sprite rolls double its rating. The victim rolls Willpower + Firewall (Signal Defense applies). If the Sprite succeeds, the victim becomes a node that the sprite runs on. The newly combined entity uses the physical attributes of the victim increased by the Rating of the Sprite, and the Sprite's Metal attributes.

System Failure
With the expenditure of a Task, the Matrix collapses for kilometers around. The Sprite retreats into a Resonance Realm and like a drain in the sink the Matrix itself spirals out of the world with it. The Sprite rolls double its rating, and all all servers, networks, and devices within the sprite's Rating in kilometers which fail to equal that number of hits on a Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense test have all their connections terminated and all their data stores erased.
    Cyberware actually has failsafes for this sort of thing, and in most cases firmware takes over seamlessly. When a cybereye's data stores go down the character's saved videos are all gone and the appearance on the eyes will revert to factory defaults – but the character is unlikely to lose the ability to see. It is not recommended to roll separately for the resistance of every single network in a major city – simply assume that the number of data stores brought down is proportional to the number of hits the sprite achieves, and actually roll dice for the story important data stores like the PANs of player characters.

With the expenditure of a Task, all traces of a piece of information vanish from the Matrix without a trace. It is as if a person had never existed at all. Every footnote, every link, every corroborating piece of documentation simply cannot be found. A sprite cannot remove knowledge with a Veracity higher than its Rating.

With the expenditure of a Task, bank accounts increase, catalog orders are made and paid for, and invoices are lost. Over the course of the next week the target's real wealth is increased by 10,000¥ per hit on a System + Charisma test.

Technomantic Mentors
Every song has a singer, and deep enough in the Matrix there are singers of every song that will ever be heard. Their voices resonate through the worlds of data and create patterns and dischordant hymnals that we use as knowledge.?

Like magicians, some technomancers receive guidance from powerful sprites which may not actually exist. The Mentor quality costs 5 BP. When a technomancer gets a bonus on a type of form, she gains that bonus when using a form from that category. But she also gains a bonus when resisting forms and programs from that category. There are lots of potential mentors, and those presented here are just a small sample.

The Empress
Appearing as a figure of a beautiful and human ruler of ancient times, the Empress feels that she is entitled to rule. Like an ancient African Queen, she is a patron of industry and war. She cleaves closely to rules of propriety and honor.
Advantages +2 to Industry or Sentry Sprites (player must choose), +2 to Mechanic
Disadvantages Followers of the Empress stand on ancient manners and they are not to be crossed. She must make a Charisma + Willpower (3) test to restrain herself from responding to an insult or sleight in kind or back down from a challenge to her authority.

The Fairy
Capricious and mean, the Fairy rarely appears as a friendly Tinkerbelle and spends a lot more time stealing children and maliciously rewriting code.
Advantages +2 to Flame or Fraud Sprites (player must choose); +2 to Palming
Disadvantages A follower of the Fairy is a malicious prankster always. She must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test to avoid taking advantage of the misfortunes of others. A joke at other's expense is good, a joke at the expense of other's misery is splendid.

The Great Cat
Powerful and alone, the Great Cat stalks silently through the Matrix silencing code as it sees fit as part of a greater song that only it can hear. Appearing as a tiger, a leopard, or a jaguar, the Great Cat is no docile pet, but a terrible and capricious monster.
Advantages +2 to Attack checks, +2 to Infiltration checks.
Disadvantages The Great Cat is a feral beast, discontent to operate in the worlds of men. A follower of Great Cat feels a great well of mistrust for metahuman society and face to face communication. She must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test to speak with a stranger.

The Great Tree
The Great Tree is a master planner and creates a song which resonates deeply in the core of the Matrix, far beneath the surfaces which ordinary users interact with.
Advantages Followers of the Great Tree gain a +2 to Registering and Reregistering; +2 to Leadership tests.
Disadvantages Followers of the Great Tree have a tendency towards megalomania, believing that their plans are “perfect?. When confronted with information that implies that a plan they have concocted is unraveling or insufficient to cover the responses of an enemy, they must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test or continue ahead with their original plan, confident that their plan cannot be stopped by the peons arrayed against it.

The Leviathan
The Leviathan is an unstoppable force lurking within the Matrix. Slow to action, the Leviathan meets out loud dischordant noise which reverberates around the Matrix interminably. Followers of the Leviathan take forever to do their turns.
Advantages +2 to Damage Resistance tests; +2 to Communications checks.
Disadvantages A Leviathan is slow to act at the best of times. A follower of the Leviathan must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test to act on the first Initiative Pass of any sudden situations (such as combat). Also, they take a really long time with menus, bathrooms, and other social situations of variable duration.

The Maiden
Seemingly younger than the other mentors, the Maiden feels palpably immature
to most technomancers who deal with her. But that's OK, because her followers are the same way. Hopelessly romantic, the Maiden is looking for the kind of Love that might appear in a fairy tale, a flatvid romantic comedy, or a trideo show for teenage girls.
Advantages +2 to Signal Defense, +2 to Etiquette Checks
Disadvantages Having what is in many ways the mentality of a teenage pink-lace wearing ork girl, followers of The Maiden find it exceedingly difficult to believe that they are not destined to fall in love, have a beautiful wedding, and live happily ever after. Whoever she happens to have fallen for right now is in for extensive crushes and possible stalking. Behaving in any way rationally with respect to her current love interest requires a Willpower + Charisma (3) check.

The Rat
Constantly searching, constantly skulking, the rat avoids direct confrontation whenever possible. However, a rat is never satisfied with “enough? and is constantly exploring its surroundings, testing the waters and the sounds. Rat attempts to insinuate itself everywhere, to gather notes for the perfect song: a resonance that even it cannot imagine.
Advantages +2 to Analysis; +2 to Perception
Disadvantages Whether she has just found paydata or the prize at the bottom of a box of SugarBombs, a follower of Rat is never satisfied. Good enough never is. A follower of Rat must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) check to end a task when objectives have been achieved. Ending a task because security is breaking down the door is fair game.

The Scarecrow
The Scarecrow is a doll made in a twisted mockery of metahumanity. Created to spread terror, the Scarecrow literally exists for fear. Now the Scarecrow has itself become a doll maker, and its creations carry the banner of trepidation to the distant corners of he Matrix. They say the most unnerving sights are those which are almost, but not quite metahuman. The Scarecrow is as nearly metahuman as they come.
Advantages +2 to Sensor Checks, +2 to Intimidate Checks
Disadvantages The Scarecrow hates with a the fury achievable only by the synthetic. Built for confrontation, its followers relish nothing but. They must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) check to avoid escalating a conflict, no matter how small or senseless.

The Spider
The Spider lurks in the shadows, slowly spinning a web that reaches across the length and breadth of the Matrix. It is a song which ensnares data and consumes it. The notes of resonating information wrapped up where they cannot be heard.
Advantages +2 to Operations; +2 to Matrix Stealth checks
Disadvantages A follower of the Spider flees the coming of the light. She must make a Charisma + Willpower (3) test or immediately flee or seek cover whenever caught in a fight. Assuming that there is anywhere to flee of course.

The Tempest
A mad cacophony permeates the communications of man. The static on the edges blurs into a storm of conflictory particles of discordant noise. This cyclone of data corruption is often passed off as merely the inevitabilities of entropy on a large system, but followers of The Tempest see the work of a destructive and awesome force. And they listen to it, and it tells them things.
Advantages +2 to Attack; +2 to Analysis
Disadvantages -1 to Communications and Matrix stealth checks. Followers of The Tempest also listen to music really loud with lots of distortion, over and above what the artists actually intended – this sort of behavior makes them bad room mates almost without exception.
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post Nov 5 2007, 07:31 PM
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?Encryptions Don't Work That Way! Goodnight!?
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post Nov 5 2007, 07:32 PM
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Prime Runner

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This is primarily a work of my own. It does not reflect the views of Catalyst, and is not intended to influence their activities in any way. Major contributions from Sma and David, thank you and much props.

I have left open some reserved sections in case I find something that needs more verbage. I think this is entirely possible since this is an essentially uneditted document that I put together in my spare time after much introspection and playing in and around the Matrix. These rules mark a major break with the basic set rules, and I regard that as a good thing.

I understand the Catalyst demand that all new material be compatable with the basic book. I even support it in most cases.I think that Street Magic and Augmentation both on the whole benefitted from this policy, but I do not believe that it is appropriate or possible with regards to the Matrix rules presented in the BBB. It is for this reason above and before all others that myself and others have taken this opportunity to walk away from the core book's presentation of the Matrix rather than making submissions to Catalyst Games to attempt to get our viewpoints represented in Unwired.

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post Nov 5 2007, 07:32 PM
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Equipment, Chargen, and Examples

Hacking Equipment

Trodes A trode net has a signal of -1, and can only make contact with a brain which is within a few centimeters. Also in the case of any serious Static, a trode net will be disrupted completely, potentially cutting the person off from their network.

Nanopaste Trodes Nanopaste has a signal of only -2, but when in contact with skin it burrows in, making a connection that is again disrupted when subjected to any severe static.

Commlinks Commlinks come in a wide array of models custom and standard. It would be hilariously pointless for us to pretend that there are some finite number of possibilities for Commlink types that Shadowrunners might use. For convenience, despite the fact that the actual price point of commlinks varies tremendously based on market conditions and perceived brand reliability and such, we assume that a better Commlink will cost more. Any particular commlink will have a Response and a Signal. The cost in ¥ will be the price of the Response and the Signal added together, while the availability will simply be the higher of the two.
Rating Response Signal Availability
1      50¥      20¥     Always
2      300¥     50¥     Always
3      700¥     100¥    Always
4      2000¥    500¥    4
5      5000¥    1000¥   8
6      14000¥   3000¥   15
7      48000¥   8000¥   24
8      175000¥  200000¥ 30
9      750000¥  1.2M¥   36
    Commlink Names: Just because you're using a SONY Emperor doesn't mean that you're using the Fall '71 Emperor sunlight with a dual-quad optical recoder. Indeed, the basic model name of a commlink basically tells you close to nothing about what the commlink's actual capabilities are. So commlink names are basically NERPS. Here is a list of prominent commlink families put out by your favorite companies:
    Chantico Home Appliances: Buena; Maize; Jaguar; Quetzal
    CMT: Clip; Hammer; Rod
    Erika: Elite; Prima; ! (this one is hard to pronounce)
    Fairlight: Caliban; Gilgamesh
    Hermes: Ikon; Magister; Tornado
    MCT: Bureaucrat; Hub; Meta Link; Sage
    Novatech: Airwave; Mastermind; Pocket Secretary
    Sony: Assistant; Comman; Emperor
    Transys: Avalon; Luna; Oz

Credsticks A Certified Credstick costs just 25¥ and represents a connection to a bank account which is not tied to any particular SIN but to a passcode (which can be changed by anyone with the current passcode). It is for this reason that Credsticks are often used as cash by criminal types. The effective dedicated firewall of a certified Credstick is 5. Various banks issue credsticks to members which are tied to SINs, and these generally have dedicated firewalls of 6 to 8.

Cash In addition to the purely electronic Nuyen, there are available notes and coins for use with small or informal purchases. Coins are usually issued from national mints and have a variety of imprints. They come in units of .05, .10, .20, .50, 1, and 2 nuyen. The nuyen bills come in 1¥, 2¥, 5¥, 10¥, 20¥, 50¥, 100¥, 200¥, and 500¥. The bills are printed under the direction of the corporate court and generally have the portraits of free market advocates from history. All are human men.
    William Edwards Deming
    Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk
    Milton Friedman
    10¥ Robert Mundell
    20¥ Carl Menger
    50¥ Keith Joseph
    100¥ Adam Smith
    200¥ Alan Greenspan
    500¥ Arthur Laffer
Retransmitters A retransmitter is a device which has a high density signal output. So long as it is part of a character's network, signal range can be traced from the retransmiter (though LOS cannot). A Retransmitter weighs about a kilogram, has a signal of 3, and costs 25¥. More powerful retransmitters are available. You can get a signal of 4 for 125¥, or a signal of 5 for 250¥.

Microtransmitters A microtransmitter is a retransmitter which is small enough to fit into things. They cost twice as much as regular retransmitters and have an availability of 6.

Directional Retransmitters Just because you can have a secondary device send your data off, doesn't mean that it can be used to draw LOS. A directional retransmitter is like a Retransmitter in size. It costs three times as much as a Retransmitter and has an availability of 6.

Sat Links Satellites circle the globe in staggering number. Most communication with satellites is done with low density signal. These transmitters usually have a signal of 6 and may actually be incapable of being used to send high density signal. There are three kinds of portable satellite link-ups. One is a dish which is itself non portable. One is portable but only with effort as it weighs in at four to six kilograms. And the last is a module which can be plugged into a commlink with ease (weighing 300-500 grams). In any case, sat links which are capable of actually projecting a Signal rating of 8 are substantially more expensive.
Sat Link     Cost     Availability
Fixed (6)    250¥     Always
Portable (6) 500¥     4
Module (6)   2000¥    6
Fixed (8)    20000¥   10
Portable (8) 50000¥   12
Module (8)   150000¥  20


Operating Systems Just as Windows ME is not exactly the same as Windows XP, there are a bewildering number of alternatives for the consumer of Operating Systems. Like commlinks, it is assumed that characters will be savvy shoppers and purchase the more expensive versions of Operating Systems which are better rather than the ones which are merely slight NERPS modifications on existing technology.

An Operating System affects an entire network, but it still is designed to be run on a specific network hub. Transferring an OS to a different commlink is doable, but degrades performance (reduce ratings of System and Firewall by 2 until someone makes a Logic + Software (12, 8 hours) test to reoptimize it for the new system).

Rating System   Firewall Availability
1      50¥      20¥      Always
2      300¥     50¥      Always
3      700¥     100¥     Always
4      2000¥    500¥     Always
5      5000¥    1000¥    4
6      14000¥   3000¥    8
7      48000¥   8000¥    16
8      175000¥  200000¥  32
9      750000¥  1.2M¥    36
    The Look and Feel of Operating Systems
    Deva A bizarre mix of hermetic and high tech imagery, the Deva operating system fills the periphery of the AR interface with a set of pull down menus in stark low res rectangles with cut-away text reminiscent of a 1980s display. Iconography stands side by side in extremely high-res and transparent hermetic mystical symbols. These symbols can be “dialed? up and down out of the field of view to present new options. The default color scheme is pale blue, pale yellow, and bright red.

    Ichi Ichi is a series of floating alphanumerics in numerous languages. The actual content is unimportant as the user manipulates the shapes and not the content. Lines of gibberish text float down across the vision at various rates and in different columns in order to represent various aspects of the system's connections and activities. Text boxes can be pulled out of the gibberish and the same information is displayed by rotating and overlapping circles. Default color scheme is green. Trivia fact: most Shadowrun material is presented in Ichi formatting.

    Navi Navi is a spherical visual disturbance much like a magnifying glass. Potential AR iconography is pushed to the sides and can be pulled towards the center where it becomes proportionally larger. Selected iconography inverts. The default color scheme is primarily blue.

    Nix Nix is a very “hands off? operating system. The AR display is kept generally empty save for a toolbar running along the bottom along with an attached command line/scratch pad in the lower right hand corner. The background can be filled with pictures if the user desires but by default there's nothing there. The default color scheme is a shiny gray.

    Orb The Orb OS is a sphere which sheds light. It can be rotated infinitely to project a beam which displays various holograms. The intensity of the light varies as the OS is called upon to perform different actions. The Orb speaks to users in a dispassionate monotone. The default color of the Orb is bright Red.

    Xim The Xim operating system is usually characterized by a system of windows which are projected as floating around the user, each held in a three dimensional device apparently made of resin and steel. Default color schemes are purple, green, and brushed metal. Actions are generally performed in the UI by mechanical tentacles.

Operating Systems for Dedicated Systems Most dedicated systems have a System of 1. This is because they don't ever need to be utilized in orchestrating spare processor cycles on other devices. If a genuine network is used, the device's OS will fade to the background. In general

Rated Programs: Cost/Availability
    Analysis Programs 500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Attack Programs: 2000¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Communications Programs: 1000¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Exploit Programs: 1500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Operations Programs: 500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Pilot: 500¥/Rating – 3/Rating*
    IC: 500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Pilot Accessory: 100¥/Rating – 4/Rating*
(*): Pilot and Pilot Accessory programming (Clearsight, Targeting, Maneuver, etc.) are purchased for individual devices. Pilot Accessory programming is capped in rating by the Pilot rating, Pilot is uncapped.
Most Program ratings are capped by the system of the network they are running on. IC is an exception and is instead limited by the Firewall of the Network or Device it is running on.
Dedicated programming generally costs half as much.
The Rating of a program caps the number of hits (not net hits) that can be scored with a program.

Signal Ranges
    -2 10 μm
    -1 10 cm
    0 3 m
    1 40m
    2 100m
    3 400m
    4 1km
    5 4km
    6 10km
    7 40km
    8 100 km
    9 400 km

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post Nov 5 2007, 07:32 PM
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Simon May
post Nov 5 2007, 08:41 PM
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This was fantastic, Frank. I especially like that you reference the Big Hit.
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post Nov 5 2007, 08:46 PM
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Wow. Thank you very much, Frank, for posting all this. I'm going to have to spend some time before I have any actual opinions; this deserves some time to fully wrap my brain around, but I'm looking forward to it.
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post Nov 5 2007, 08:58 PM
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I must admit that I only read the first two posts so far. Seems to be great so far!
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Kyoto Kid
post Nov 5 2007, 09:06 PM
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...is there a site where this may be downloaded from in it's entirety?
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Simon May
post Nov 5 2007, 09:20 PM
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Moving Target

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If not, there should be.
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post Nov 5 2007, 09:29 PM
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Prime Runner

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...is there a site where this may be downloaded from in it's entirety?

I'm working on that, so in probably a few days the answer will be "yes". Right now, well I wrote the entire thing in bbcode, so downloading the documents I have would be kind of illegible. Formatting instructions are kind of rampant in it, as you might expect.

I'm sort of expecting a lot more complaining about this, it's a pretty severe departure from the other Matrix writeups. But then, I guess it hasn't been up all that long.

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post Nov 5 2007, 09:30 PM
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Running Target

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I like it, personally, but I haven't really had a chance to look at it in depth, but, skimming it, I saw more than a few things and descriptions that i liked.
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post Nov 5 2007, 09:41 PM
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Moving Target

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That was grand.

Frank, you did good.

I was surprised at how intuitively it all came together near the end, once I got down to the programs list, sprites etc. Core mechanics like Veracity were/are sorely needed in the Matrix rules to explain certain phenomenon that "Rating" simply does not wrap its arms around.

"Man goto end" was probably my favorite part. :D

When I was running hacking in the past I sort of felt like I was always reaching for something and coming up short - the intuitive actions and thoughts about how computer systems work, how information propagates etc. was just not gelling properly. Certain bits of your ideas had already become manifest in the way that I was running the Matrix already - I had started using Knowledge skills split between Intuition and Logic as required portions to most non-combat matrix checks, an enforced Pilot check vs. a threshold based on how complex the task was etc.

But the Matrix rules as presented in the corebook are decidedly dissonant. They are simply not harmonious and have the mark of many different chefs adding too many spices to the soup. Your vision is impressive. I can't wait to try and it and see if it delivers. I suspect that it will.

Again, a triumph.

- der menkey

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter."
~ Ernest Hemingway
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post Nov 5 2007, 09:43 PM
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Frank, do you intend the skills you include above as groups? For example is there a Computer Skill Group with the Command, Data Manipulations, and Operations skills within it or is there one Computer Skill with those different applications? If the latter, can one specialize the Computer Skill in the specializations listed on Operations?

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post Nov 5 2007, 09:51 PM
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Prime Runner

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QUOTE (Dashifen)
Frank, do you intend the skills you include above as groups? For example is there a Computer Skill Group with the Command, Data Manipulations, and Operations skills within it or is there one Computer Skill with those different applications? If the latter, can one specialize the Computer Skill in the specializations listed on Operations?

The formatting is based on the in-depth descriptions of Magic skills in the basic book (p. 173 - 176). The different uses of the skills are similar to how Counterspelling does "spell defense" and "dispelling sustained spells". The actual skills and grouping of skills is unchanged.

QUOTE (Simon)
I especially like that you reference the Big Hit.

You have no idea how hard it was to not go off on a rant about straight jacking.

QUOTE (noonesshowmonkey)
But the Matrix rules as presented in the corebook are decidedly dissonant. They are simply not harmonious and have the mark of many different chefs adding too many spices to the soup. Your vision is impressive. I can't wait to try and it and see if it delivers. I suspect that it will.

I appreciate your faith. I would really like to get playtesting feedback. I can do probability comparisons in my head, but many of the decidedly non-mechanical applications are really much better evaluated in an actual game. If people play with this, I would genuinely love to know how it turned out.

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post Nov 5 2007, 09:56 PM
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Thanks, Frank.

I might give it a shot, but it probably won't be for months. I'm loath to apply such sweeping changes mid-game. Plus, I'm worried that I wouldn't be able to separate your set from the core rules in the SR4 book when it comes time for me to actually represent that core to new players. In other words, I agree: play testing needed, but I may not be the right person for the job!
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post Nov 5 2007, 10:01 PM
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Awesome stuff, Frank. :notworthy:

I really like the change in focus away from clean commlinks and back to "I'm hacking my brain into a computer to make it do stuff it isn't supposed to" kind of hacking.

And I really like the McAffee + Norton analog as a way to eliminate the Agent Smith Army problem. Basically you're saying that IC already is an Agent Smith Army because it's really just an abstraction of billions of process spawns all doing one task called Intrusion Countermeasures. I hate to see them go, but I just don't see any way around the Agent Smith Army other than the elimination of mobile free Agents. It also neatly eliminates my argument I have against the RAW Data Search skill. I like your use of the Data Search skill for all perception tests and expanding it's role beyond simple data searches.

In your section on datajacks you mentioned Image Links, but you didn't mention simsense modules. I never liked the idea of allowing trodenets for simsense, my thoughts are if you want to plug your brain into a computer, you need to get your brain dirty by stitching wires into it. Were you thinking of replacing commlinks+simsense modules with datajacks+image links?

The section on brain hacking was interesting, was that in reference to hacking a completely unaugmented brain or a brain that was exposed by a datajack or trodenet?

I'll post more comments once I get to the program posts.

Many thanks for all the thought you put into this, good stuff.
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post Nov 5 2007, 10:23 PM
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Running Target

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I would change the Command specialty of Computer skill to say that nearly all simple Command attempts can be done without a success check roll if the user has at least Computer 1 skill. Defaulting on the skill would require at least 1 hit to be successful with simple tasks like piloting a car or making perfect toast.
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post Nov 5 2007, 10:33 PM
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Prime Runner

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QUOTE (Buster)
I would change the Command specialty of Computer skill to say that nearly all simple Command attempts can be done without a success check roll if the user has at least Computer 1 skill. Defaulting on the skill would require at least 1 hit to be successful with simple tasks like piloting a car or making perfect toast.

I think that's handled by the rules for buying hits. Any character with a dicepool of 4 can purchase a single hit without rolling if they aren't under stress at the time. Since Joe Wageslave has a Logic of 3, if he has a Computer of 1 his total pool is 4 and he can make perfect toast without rolling dice.

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