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> Can Legwork be done on the Matrix?, The REAL poll.
How much legwork can be done on the Matrix?
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Cain
post Nov 3 2008, 11:10 PM
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Redirected from the binary poll Malachi tried, here's one that is more fair.
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Kingsnake
post Nov 3 2008, 11:52 PM
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I'm sort of torn with answering this poll... On the one hand, I am answering a pseudo-technical question about the capabilities of the matrix. On the other, a philosophy of game play. In the end, I answered how I interpreted the use of the matrix in games that I play/run. This, to me, seem to be the best ratio of pure (googling) to literal legwork.
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Sir_Psycho
post Nov 4 2008, 12:21 AM
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This poll doesn't prove your point that there is an imbalance in the RAW, because just like on this poll, it is ultimately the GM who decides what information can be found on the matrix. Also, the amount of information you can find in my game (for example) does not vary by a percentile rate, it varies by quality. I sincerely doubt this poll will accrue any reliable quantitative data, especially any that would prove more telling than the qualitative discussion we were having.
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Cthulhudreams
post Nov 4 2008, 01:18 AM
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It would be nice if you could do a question that actually rotated the options. But this would be a better poll design

"The majority of legwork can be conducted on the matrix"

with 4 options

Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
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toturi
post Nov 4 2008, 01:31 AM
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Although I voted 50%, my personal opinion as a GM is that whatever information that is available to the PCs via Contacts could also be available to the PCs through the Matrix.
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Ravor
post Nov 4 2008, 03:35 AM
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I figure that the corps can afford to pay people to clean up information/spread disinformation so the Matrix sees limited usefulness with researching a target.
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Malachi
post Nov 4 2008, 03:47 AM
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QUOTE (toturi @ Nov 3 2008, 09:31 PM) *
Although I voted 50%, my personal opinion as a GM is that whatever information that is available to the PCs via Contacts could also be available to the PCs through the Matrix.

I disagree. A player may have a contact as a security guard in a company that can tell the PCs when their extraction mark comes to work and when he leaves, that he takes the tube except on Wednesday's, and that he's having marital problems. I just don't see someone in the SR world watching every wageslave's life and posting that info on some public site somewhere. Now, that information could be acquired by hacking into the building's security systems, the mark's Commlink, and the home's central computer... but that's not a simple Data Search test.

If all of that info could be found by spending a few minutes, or a few hours, or even just a few days of Matrix search, don't you think Shiawase, or Renraku, or NeoNET with their vast Matrix resources would have found everything they needed to know by now? Why would they hire runners? Want to know what ProteusAG's new product is going to be? Search the Matrix. Who just hit our top-secret R&D facility? Search the Matrix. What is Lofwyr really up to? Let's unleash an army of Agents running Browse 6 on that problem! Why? Because everything we need is just minutes away. Why does anyone walk to do anything anymore?
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Cain
post Nov 4 2008, 04:13 AM
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QUOTE
I figure that the corps can afford to pay people to clean up information/spread disinformation so the Matrix sees limited usefulness with researching a target.

That can affect contacts as well. Humans are just as prone to misinformation as computers are.
QUOTE
I disagree. A player may have a contact as a security guard in a company that can tell the PCs when their extraction mark comes to work and when he leaves, that he takes the tube except on Wednesday's, and that he's having marital problems. I just don't see someone in the SR world watching every wageslave's life and posting that info on some public site somewhere. Now, that information could be acquired by hacking into the building's security systems, the mark's Commlink, and the home's central computer... but that's not a simple Data Search test.

That all depends on having a contact in the right place. Since you probably don't have that, you'd need to track down a security guard and bribe/convince him to share that info with you. And how do you find said security guard? By Data Searching the guard roster.

And hacking the guy's commlink is easy enough. What isn't easy is sorting through all his transactions to find what you need: the places he goes on a regular basis. Which, of course, requires another Data Search test.
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BishopMcQ
post Nov 4 2008, 04:32 AM
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I believe that Legwork can be 100% done on the Matrix, but the catch is that not all of it comes from Data Search. Virtual contacts, meetings in VR chats or through commcalls in AR are all valid options for doing legwork in/on the Matrix.

For my games, Data Search is often used to get specific information about something or to expand on things that you learn from contacts. The synergy between searching the Matrix and what your contacts (and friends of friends) know is how runners get a full picture of the situation. Or at least a more complete picture...

I would point readers to Runners Companion p. 129-131 for information about Virtual Contacts and Legwork.
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toturi
post Nov 4 2008, 04:46 AM
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QUOTE (Malachi @ Nov 4 2008, 11:47 AM) *
I disagree. A player may have a contact as a security guard in a company that can tell the PCs when their extraction mark comes to work and when he leaves, that he takes the tube except on Wednesday's, and that he's having marital problems. I just don't see someone in the SR world watching every wageslave's life and posting that info on some public site somewhere. Now, that information could be acquired by hacking into the building's security systems, the mark's Commlink, and the home's central computer... but that's not a simple Data Search test.

If all of that info could be found by spending a few minutes, or a few hours, or even just a few days of Matrix search, don't you think Shiawase, or Renraku, or NeoNET with their vast Matrix resources would have found everything they needed to know by now? Why would they hire runners? Want to know what ProteusAG's new product is going to be? Search the Matrix. Who just hit our top-secret R&D facility? Search the Matrix. What is Lofwyr really up to? Let's unleash an army of Agents running Browse 6 on that problem! Why? Because everything we need is just minutes away. Why does anyone walk to do anything anymore?

Why would they hire runners? Same reason why they always hire runners. Deniability and efficiency. Since Lowfyr can pound the shit out of you, why hire runners to do it?

While it may be relatively easier to go to a contact to retrieve certain information, the thresholds for Data Search for the same piece of information may well be much higher. Some blogger may well stake out the tube and posting his vids on the Matrix, that's why you use Data Search. A sec guard may have posted on a Matrix forum complaining about this guy who is constantly late for work but stays late into the night for some after hours nooky. There can be the nosey neighbour that calls Lone Star about that couple living next door disturbing the peace with their noisy arguments.
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Malachi
post Nov 4 2008, 05:10 AM
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QUOTE (toturi @ Nov 4 2008, 12:46 AM) *
Why would they hire runners? Same reason why they always hire runners. Deniability and efficiency.

But are runners efficient? Aren't runners a lot like contacts which are, according to some, expensive to upkeep, slow, and unsafe. Why wouldn't those corporations use safe, fast, reliable Matrix searches for all the information they need?

Cain has argued many times that contacts are spotty, expensive, require maintenance, insecure, and slow methods of getting information. The Matrix is always there, cheap, maintenance-free (at least by you), secure, and fast. Why does anyone talk to anyone else in the SR world?
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the_real_elwood
post Nov 4 2008, 05:34 AM
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I would expect something close to a normal distribution for the results of the poll, and that's looking pretty close to what we've got. But I don't think many GMs would make legwork 100% done with data searches on the Matrix, if for no other reason than it'd exclude any non-decker characters from contributing in the legwork phase of the particular shadowrun.
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TheOOB
post Nov 4 2008, 06:23 AM
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I generally care more about the outcome then the methods the players use. If that team has a good hacker/face they can get a lot of information from the matrix, most of it in some cases(heck many contacts only meet on the matrix). But if the team prefers to go about it the old fashion way, they can get what they need there too. As long as they get the info it doesn't matter where they get it.
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toturi
post Nov 4 2008, 08:21 AM
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QUOTE (Malachi @ Nov 4 2008, 01:10 PM) *
But are runners efficient? Aren't runners a lot like contacts which are, according to some, expensive to upkeep, slow, and unsafe. Why wouldn't those corporations use safe, fast, reliable Matrix searches for all the information they need?

Cain has argued many times that contacts are spotty, expensive, require maintenance, insecure, and slow methods of getting information. The Matrix is always there, cheap, maintenance-free (at least by you), secure, and fast. Why does anyone talk to anyone else in the SR world?


QUOTE
Although I voted 50%, my personal opinion as a GM is that whatever information that is available to the PCs via Contacts could also be available to the PCs through the Matrix.


For my games, because Matrix searches will not turn up any more information than what the runners or anyone else (like Mr Johnson) will get from their contacts. Depending on the Threshold for the Matrix Search, Contact Ratings and other factors, Contacts may be faster or more reliable, but the scope of information possible that is provided by Matrix Search is no more or less than that provided by Contacts.
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Fuchs
post Nov 4 2008, 08:41 AM
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All the "game time relevant" searches are roleplayed out in my game, usually face to face meetings. The rest is more or less narrated.
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overchord
post Nov 4 2008, 09:31 AM
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It all depends on the nature of the legwork and how classified such information might be on the matrix. I supposed even the matrix will suffter some of the same problems that are present today with information overflow, false tagging of information to proliferate it and so on. As such, i regard a deckes legwork as what he/she can find from online contacts, public nodes and subscription services without any particular hacking going on. Sure all the information might be on the matrix, its getting hold of it thats the issue. If you want to hack through every single rumor, hitting all the nodes that came up in your search you'll probably get the information, but by then the package might already have left the building you're hacking to get the blueprints of. As such matrix legwork (and regular legwork) is IMO what can be obtained easily and quickly. That also gives the GM the perrogative of controlling the amount of information that comes up in searches.
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masterofm
post Nov 4 2008, 11:17 AM
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Hacking and Data Search can generally give you a good layout. It will not give you top secret documents, so lets not be over dramatic Malachi. A data search might give you a slightly out of date image, or you might be able to find the guard roster and do some cross checking to find out some of the guards habits, or even find a location of a zero-point facility that it actually let slip somehow. However you will still need to meet this guard, you will still need to bribe him to get into the facility, you will still probably want to do some recon on the area before hand. The matrix can provide a majority of the information you need on a run, but you will still need to do other different types of legwork to pull off certain runs. The biggest thing is how you have laid out your game, and what kind of power level you throw at your players. If they are knocking over gangers, and kidnapping people you will find out what you want to know through data searches. However if you want to know the layout of a zero-point facility that will probably take a data search, a grab & bag/interrogation, and then some recon, some light intrusion, and then you might have a good plan. Personally in the end though this is arbitrary and always up to the GM, but the matrix is everywhere and in my view of the SR world many corps practice information through obscurity. The fact is the matrix (information) is everywhere and if you want to look really really really hard you will probably find something on what you are searching for. People have comlinks, those comlinks touch the matrix on a constant level, there are ways to find out what you want to know through hacking and data searching.

I mean the idea that contacts will be able to pull all of this information how the hell will they do that? A loyalty 1 contact all that means is if you call them they won't hang up the phone if you call. I mean the guy at the local stuffer shack might as well be a 1-1 contact, because he will deal with you, but only because it's business. The pizza delivery guy on the other end of the phone trying to get you your pizza is a 1-1 contact and he will have no qualms selling you out if it meant some extra money lining his pocket. Maybe lets say you have a high loyalty high importance contact rating 5-5 corp exec from Renraku and you are doing a run on Aries. Why the hell would a high ranking corp exec who may not even be affiliated with the corporation you are trying to take down, or what have you, know about another corporations security guard having marital problems? I mean yes if you were specifically knocking over something that your contact would be aware of you could probably get some good information, but lets face it a data search in a cyber punk game makes a lot of sense.

Contact: "Oh yeah at a corporate exec lunch-in we were talking about how the underling of an underling was having marital problems and how easy it would be to bribe him, here I can give you anything you might want to deal with this run because of... um... handwave-ium."

Shadowrunner 1: "Insightful."

Our table has always dealt with contacts as a way to purchase items, or to move certain hot items that the party might not want to be involved with for a long period of time. Not as a "get you whatever you want whenever you want it because you happened to get four 6-6 contacts." You might have a good place to hide, or some leverage if you are in a tight spot, or they might buy that piece of art that you pried from that dead old ladies hands, and they will go to the wire for you, but hell there is only so much they could probably do, and for the most part if they can do it so can your party.
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Fuchs
post Nov 4 2008, 11:38 AM
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To be more precises: I'd consider Data Search in the matrix as the groundwork for the crucial legwork scenes - meeting contacts, bribing people, hacking secure servers, infiltrating a location, and so on. How well the runners do on those scenes will determine how good the legwork results are. So, actual data search rolls could be skipped.
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masterofm
post Nov 4 2008, 11:51 AM
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Sometimes you need more then one batch of data to be able to piece everything together. Having a guard roster list tells you almost nothing. Having their credit history, where they go to blog on the internet, what kind of activities do they do (using someones transaction history) and various other questions are not just bundled into a single data search. There is also the big thing of if the players ask the wrong sort of questions they will find out nothing, and there will be a lot of dead ends when it comes to data searches. If the hacker data searches on a bunch of stupid obscure things they might get a whole bunch of data that is basically useless. However sometimes all you need is to do a data search to find out exactly what you want. That doesn't mean that you still won't have to do other things. Finding out a guards habits and where the best place you could go to grab him and replace him with your face dancing runner does not mean that you suddenly have to make no more rolls and have completed the run.
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Tarantula
post Nov 4 2008, 02:25 PM
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QUOTE (Cain @ Nov 3 2008, 09:13 PM) *
That all depends on having a contact in the right place. Since you probably don't have that, you'd need to track down a security guard and bribe/convince him to share that info with you. And how do you find said security guard? By Data Searching the guard roster.


Wrong. How do you do that? Data search to find that places server, then have the hacker hack it, and pull the guard roster out.

This poll is rubbish, because it makes no distinction from data search & virtual contacts.
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Stonewall
post Nov 4 2008, 02:30 PM
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Hopefully I can do this without starting another back and forth.

The group I play with likes to handle this like any decent movie or novel dealing with espionage (I suggest Ronin and most of the Jason Bourne novels). The computer nerd always has the scene that goes over and over fotos and documents (this would be the face expressing what the hacker turned up). The on site info is still a little hazy because the targets have their own security experts and bodyguards attempting to protect them (other runners, corp assets, etc.) and require some hands on legwork. By the time a decent ID of the surroundings, the opposition, and the tools needed are all rounded up, the Hacker still has to assemble the gear and programs he is going to need for his actual part of the run. This is of course assuming that the team was hired to extract someone with an actual time frame, and not on the "eventually" time table.

Generally, the time restriction has always kept the hacker in our group from ever actually being able to do all of the legwork themselves. Other people might not play with as tight a time line, but I think it is crucial. In the wild world of 2070, the Matrix is flooded with info and connected to almost any/everything you could possibly need to screw anyone you wanted over. The obvious exceptions are those of the grid and those that are too powerful to hope to touch (AAA corp cornerstone figures, dragons, etc.). If the party wants, they could easily put their hacker in another state/country/continent hook him up on the right timezone, and simply have a backup on-site hacker plug in the proper wires/comlinks/portable networks. It is possible, not preferable, it just plays with different group dynamics.

Anyways, my vote was for 70% and that was because most of our runs have a strong, dedicated hacker character with the gear and programs to get boat loads of information within the time frame we need. We also count the sifting through false info and partial info as part of our legwork (that is why street sammies have knowledge skills). Just think on it. Thanks.
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Wesley Street
post Nov 4 2008, 02:46 PM
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This isn't rocket science here. Yes, you can physically survey a target. Yes, you can hack a system to find files. But that's not what where the source of contention is here. According to your (as in the Dumpshock population at large) interpretation of RAW, can all Legwork (as typified by those little info-gathering chart doohickies with the topics and thresholds at the back of published adventures) be handled with a Data Search roll? That seems like a "yes" or "no" question to me.

EDIT
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Tarantula
post Nov 4 2008, 03:44 PM
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QUOTE (Wesley Street @ Nov 4 2008, 07:46 AM) *
This isn't rocket science here. Yes, you can physically survey a target. Yes, you can hack a system to find files. But that's not what where the source of contention is here. According to your (as in the Dumpshock population at large) interpretation of RAW, can all Legwork (as typified by those little info-gathering chart doohickies with the topics and thresholds at the back of published adventures) be handled with a Data Search roll? That seems like a "yes" or "no" question to me.

EDIT


As far as missions goes, they quite explicitly state what you can do to get the info off those charts. Most of them do say data search is allowed. Some don't. One does the right thing, and allows specific (mostly crucial) info to be data searched, but the other info (usually just very helpful) must gotten through contacts.
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Wesley Street
post Nov 4 2008, 04:18 PM
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QUOTE
As far as missions goes, they quite explicitly state what you can do to get the info off those charts. Most of them do say data search is allowed. Some don't. One does the right thing, and allows specific (mostly crucial) info to be data searched, but the other info (usually just very helpful) must gotten through contacts.

I haven't picked up Ghost Cartels so I don't know if it uses Legwork Tables but On The Run did and was fairly specific. So let's carry that thought over into GM created adventures. Let's say a GM models his game structure after published adventures (full disclosure: I do this as it keeps things simple for me) and creates Legwork Topics. He sets a threshold to achieve a certain amount of information about a specific topic. Is, by RAW, the Data Search skill the only sure-fire way to hit those thresholds?
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Tarantula
post Nov 4 2008, 04:23 PM
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Well, by RAW, data search thresholds are 4x higher than normal. Easy tasks are a threshold 4, and so on. So, if you set a threshold 3 for finding the info, with a data search, it would be a threshold 12 on the extended test.

By RAW, you can go to a contact (GM decides which are appropriate) and he makes a knowledge + attribute test to see if the contact knows the answer. Then the GM decides how willing the contact is to give the runners the info. If the contact doesn't know, the characters can have him ask around, making a cha + connection extended test interval of 1 hour. Knowledge skills can substitute for charisma if appropriate.


If you're modeling missions thoug, they use a connectionsx2 test to see what info the contact can get for you. No time spent on it either.
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