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> Matrix combat styles, I know e-Kung Fu
The_Vanguard
post Jun 27 2010, 08:56 PM
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The Emergence campaign I'm running at the moment has once again cemented my belief that cybercombat is much too bland and unimaginative. It takes place in an environment where actions are mostly limited by your imagination, and hackers specialize in finding creative and surprising ways to screw with expectations.

Therefore, I'm toying with the idea to introduce cybercombat styles akin to the martial arts styles from Arsenal. However, these are not formalized schools of combat but rather the natural result of individual M.O.s and fields of expertise. This is what I've come up with until now:

Brute Force
The most direct way is usually not very subtle, but certainly effective none the less. Matrix vandals, Info-Anarchists and hackers on a thigh schedule therefore like to go for strategies that destroy a system's defense instead of circumventing it. In combat situations they also like to hit the opposition fast and hard before they have time for a counterattack.
Advantages: +1 DV with Attack programs, +1 DV with feedback programs (Blackout and Black Hammer), +1 to Analyze Weak Point-Maneuvers, +1 to Multitasking Attacks (before splitting the dice pool).

Cerberus
System security experts, Spiders and data maintenance responsibles are notoriously concerned about system integrity and take great pains to always apply the latest patches to their firewalls, keep backups up-to-date and know many work-arounds to common bugs. Their enemies are frequently baffled when their attacks fail against these meticulous defenses.
Advantages: +1 to resistance against icon damage, +1 to resistance against feedback damage (Blackout, Black Hammer, dumpshock), +1 to Full Defense, +1 to Reroute Attack-Maneuvers.

Black Tide
Neuronal biofeedback programs like Blackout and Black Hammer are pretty infamous and many users have mixed feelings when employing them. This is why few people create a whole combat strategy on their basis, but BTL-Designers, dissonant Technomancers and e-serial killers often have a trick or two with these programs up their virtual sleeves.
Advantages: +1 DV with feedback programs (Blackout, Black Hammer), +1 resistance to feedback damage (Blackout, Black Hammer, dumpshock), +1 to Black Dread-Maneuvers, +1 to the opposed test when a target tries to log off after having been hit by a feedback attack.

Metalink
In the Matrix, no piece of information is an island. Linking data together is the very purpose of its existence, but few metahumans can truly understand the scope and ramifications of this. Those that do are usually system architects, data search professionals or self-taught persons who cobbled their whole education together with what they could find online. In combat, they often surprise their enemies by finding unexpected ways around their defense protocols.
Advantages: +1 to attacks with Attack programs, +1 to Crash Program actions, +1 to Leech File-Maneuvers, +1 to Trojan Attacks

Radiowave Surfer
The wireless Matrix is an endless ocean of tangled currents that draw people in with inaudible siren voices. Some people really obsess about this, dedicating their lives to exploring the online world in all its vastness. They are always busy hopping from node to node, searching for the next big thing before it becomes mainstream, savoring the most daring and alien VR architecture or just enjoying the thrill of a really fast connection. In combat situations these masters of RF streams usually try to trump the opposition by selecting the fastest connection options and hogging system resources for themselves.
Advantages: +1 to Initiative, +1 to Freeze-Maneuvers, +1 to Interference-Maneuvers, +1 to Multitasking Attacks (before splitting the dice pool).

Scrambler
In an environment that is pure information, going unnoticed is no small task. You may not just count on people not noticing you at this very moment, because the Matrix itself sees all and forgets nothing. Therefore being stealthy requires tricks like creating false echos, distorted signatures and labyrinthine data trails. If forced to fight, people with this approach tend to employ tactics that allow them to get away quickly instead of pounding the opposition into the ground.
Advantages: +1 to Freeze-Maneuvers, +1 to Crash Program actions, +1 to Vanish-Maneuvers, +1 to Full Defense.

VR Ace
Among the latest generation of hackers are many that grew up with Virtual Reality games and only became interested in this line of work because they were looking for even more suspense and thrill. They tend to see breaking into a secure node as yet another game and approach it with the same mindset as they would when playing Red Samurai Run IX or the like. “Serious” hackers may scoff at the crazy amounts of bandwidth they waste with pimped-up icons and flashy attack animations, but the fluidity and intuitive grace with which these kids operate the VR interfaces is a sight to behold. Just don't mention to the old guard that they frequently don't know what their commands actually do on the machine language level...
Advantages: +1 Initiative, +1 to attacks with Attack programs, +1 to Multitasking Attacks (before splitting the dice pool), +1 to Quickload maneuvers.
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The_Vanguard
post Jun 27 2010, 08:58 PM
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MANEUVERS

Analyze Weak Point
Every firewall needs openings in order to allow data traffic to and from the protected system. By analyzing the pattern with which these openings appear and disappear, a hacker can find weak points in the defense of his opponent that may be exploited for his attacks.
If the character succeeds on an opposed test with Computer + Analyze against System + Firewall, his net successes are added as a dice pool bonus to his next attack against this target.

Black Dread
Most standard feedback programs like Blackout and Black Hammer do not feature psychotropic capabilities, but their structure makes it relatively easy to improvise code that messes with a victim's psyche. Stimulating fear is especially easy and many frequent users of these programs discover sooner or later how to do this on their own.
If a character hits with a feedback program, he may choose not to inflict any damage. Instead, the target has to succeed in a test with Charisma + Willpower + Biofeedback-Filter (feedback program's rating) or it panics and has to log off as soon as possible. If a critical glitch occurs the terror is so great that the victim jacks out immediately, suffering dumpshock. Once scared away by Black Dread, a hacker has to succeed in a Charisma + Willpower (3) test before he may log into the Matrix again.

Freeze
Response time and data transfer rate are very important factors in cybercombat, and notoriously vulnerable. By flooding the enemy with junk data or rerouting his signal to less responsive nodes, his icon's response time can be increased by critical nanoseconds. If the attacker succeeds in an opposed test with Hacking + Edit against Response + Firewall, the enemy's Initiative Score is reduced by the net successes. If the Initiative Score is reduced to 0, the icon is completely frozen until the next combat turn.

Full Offense
Even in cybercombat there are ways to optimize your offensive potential in lieu of defense. A character going for full offense receives a +2 bonus on his next attack, but may not defend against any attack until his next action phase.

Interference
A wireless signal is very vulnerable to interference, so it is no surprise that some hackers specialize in attacking their enemies' signal integrity in order to disrupt their commands. If a character wants to use this maneuver he must have traced the target's data trail to a node to which it has a wireless connection. Then he can attempt a test with Electronic Warfare + Sniffer opposed by Signal + ECCM. If he succeeds, the target get -1 per net success until the next combat turn.

Leech File
Some hackers have refined the art of stealing data to such a degree, that they can snatch programs directly from the memory of other commlinks. If a character succeeds in a Hacking + Browse test opposed by System + Firewall, he downloads a copy of one of his target's programs with a rating equal to his net successes or the original's rating, whatever is lower.
This does not work against complex forms. Technomancers using this maneuver need some kind of data storage.

Multitasking Attack
With this maneuver, a character is able to attack multiple targets simultaneously. The attacker's dice pool is split between all targets, and each attack is resolved separately.

Quickload
Every nanosecond counts in combat situations, so loading a program from memory can take so long that it jeopardizes victory. There are some techniques and utilities that can speed up loading times, but these are not completely reliable. If a character attempts a Quickload, he makes a Computer + Response test with a threshold equal to the program's rating. If he succeeds the program is loaded so quick that it can be executed immediately. If he fails the program is loaded normally but can't be used with the same action. A glitch reduces the rating by 1, while a critical glitch corrupts the loading process so that the character has to try again.

Reroute Attack
Since every attack in the Matrix needs specific target information in order to hit, it is possible to manipulate this data so that the malicious data flow is redirected to another icon. If a character manages to defend against an attack in cybercombat, he can choose to make a Hacking + Spoof test against the enemy's System + Attack program rating. If he succeeds the attack hits another valid target with his net successes. It is not possible to reflect an attack back to its source.
This is an interrupt action that uses up the character's next complex action.

Trojan Attack
Once you have pierced your enemy's defenses, you can flood him with all kinds of data in theory. Thus, if a character succeeds in a test with Hacking + Attack against a threshold equal to the target's firewall rating, he can upload a data bomb or a virus into his memory where it is executed immediately. Of course, the malicious program must be loaded into the attacker's system at present. If he glitches, the program is executed during upload and both users suffer the effects.

Vanish
While a normal Stealth program won't make you invisible, there are certain pro tricks that can fool detection routines so good that an icon seems to vanish completely. If a character succeeds in an opposed test with Hacking + Stealth against an onlooker's Matrix perception test, he seemingly disappears completely. If there are multiple watchers use the highest dice pool with +1 per additional entity. The vanished icon can be reacquired with an Analyze Node action and becomes automatically visible when it interacts with another icon. Additionally, the node will notice it when the icon leaves the system.


Thank you very much if you actually read all of that. This stuff has not been playtested yet, so any comments are appreciated.
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Tech_Rat
post Jun 27 2010, 09:16 PM
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I don't really like using homebrew or houserules. But this is very nice.


With hope that this will see the light of an official SR book line,

Adrian Korvedzk.
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Teryn180
post Jun 27 2010, 09:21 PM
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This certainly looks interesting, it would certainly give cybercombat some more flavor.
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Belvidere
post Jun 27 2010, 09:27 PM
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Thank you! I love the idea of this. If this ever got tossed into an official book, I'd be so happy. Cybercombat is cool if you go through every description but that takes away from the game for everyone else playing because all the attention is on the hacker most likely. This gives you a way to imagine it without having to de-rail the entire game just for epic digital descriptions
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crash2029
post Jun 27 2010, 10:16 PM
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I agree with previous sentiments, these rules could add some fun to an otherwise bland area. Good work.
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BookWyrm
post Jun 27 2010, 10:53 PM
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I'm liking this, it's a very interesting spin. But there's got to be a better moniker than 'e-KungFu'. I vaguely recall a video-comicbook-like series (they were all of CDs), mentioning a form of virtual/cyberspace combat styles called "Fu-ware", but that term may be still copyrighted.
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AStarshipforAnts
post Jun 27 2010, 11:47 PM
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This is really, really cool. This sort of thing is one of the big draws to SR, imho. It's got rules, but it's also got the potential to be seriously cinematic.
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Nifft
post Jun 28 2010, 12:18 AM
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QUOTE (BookWyrm @ Jun 27 2010, 05:53 PM) *
... there's got to be a better moniker than 'e-KungFu'.

Kung-Foo
- "Isn't that ambiguous?"
- "Only in meatspace, and who the hell cares about meatspace? n00b."

Arate
- "It's like karate, but with AR."

FOOBAR
- "Kung-FU meets BAR-ate?"
- "Don't make me kill you with metasyntax."
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The_Vanguard
post Jun 28 2010, 03:40 PM
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Thanks for the nice feedback, everybody.

QUOTE
But there's got to be a better moniker than 'e-KungFu'.


"I know e-Kung Fu" is just a throw-away line referencing Matrix (the movie). It's not really part of this rules set. I call this just "Cybercombat Styles", but I like the idea that there are different names for the stuff on the streets.
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hobgoblin
post Jun 28 2010, 04:22 PM
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SR3 had various things one could do to gain a offensive or defensive edge, or hide from IC for a number of turns.

i never quite understood why it was removed from SR4, tho i suspect its because the SR4 writers attempted to make the rules a bit closer to real life (SR1-3 didnt allow the node to simply disconnect a hacker for instance).

i just wish they added some ways for the hacker to create trouble for computer enhanced enemies in return, without the need for multiple actions to affect one of them. Maybe something like having a crash piggyback on a spoof to force a reboot of the targets PAN (or parts of it).

heck, now that i think about it, one could do that by grabbing the access id of the resident spider, or some other persona related to the security system, ahead of time. Then use that with a custom spoof that would work pretty much like a crash attack. One could even make it a broadcast crash, but counteracted by a special firewall addon whereby each targets node, if interconnected, can compare notes and decide its a bad transmission or something.
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Ascalaphus
post Jun 29 2010, 12:00 AM
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I like it, with some reservations.

Cybercombat could definitely use some variety, and iconography isn't going to cut it, especially if iconography has no game effects. So this is certainly of use to me. I like the styles you've come up with, they allow a hacker to distinguish himself from others.

On the other hand, I don't really like the martial arts system as presented in Arsenal, so if I wish to adopt some of your ideas, I'll have to restructure them.
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Nifft
post Jun 29 2010, 02:03 PM
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QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Jun 28 2010, 11:22 AM) *
i just wish they added some ways for the hacker to create trouble for computer enhanced enemies in return, without the need for multiple actions to affect one of them. Maybe something like having a crash piggyback on a spoof to force a reboot of the targets PAN (or parts of it).

IMHO the PAN should be fairly secure. If you make them insecure, people will just pay for skinlinks and/or wires, and then you're back to square one.

So how can a hacker break targeting? Tacnet hacking.

If tacnets are hackable, and if hacking a tacnet imposes a penalty (instead of adding a bonus), then suddenly it's not a no-brainer to use one, and suddenly hackers are more valuable in higher-tech firefights.

Cheers, -- N
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hobgoblin
post Jun 29 2010, 02:18 PM
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that implies that the enemy uses tacnets in the first place.

heck, i keep reminding myself that unlike a samurai, mage or face, a hacker or rigger is dependent on bringing toys or have the GM sprinkle them in the scenario. This because you cant take the fists away from a samurai, the magic away from a mage, or the charm away from the face. And if you want anything but the environment itself to be a challenge (and even then a magic user is better prepared then a mundane) there will be meat (or mana) based enemies to interact with. But for a rigger or hacker, there is a fair chance that there will be no computer or drone to mess around with. And even in SR, meat do not automatically come with a computer.

sadly, hackers are easily marginalized characters.
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Nifft
post Jun 29 2010, 02:50 PM
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QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Jun 29 2010, 09:18 AM) *
that implies that the enemy uses tacnets in the first place.

No.

I'm saying that when the enemy uses a tacnet ("high-tech firefight"), a hacker ought to be very useful.
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MortVent
post Jun 29 2010, 02:58 PM
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QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Jun 29 2010, 09:18 AM) *
that implies that the enemy uses tacnets in the first place.

heck, i keep reminding myself that unlike a samurai, mage or face, a hacker or rigger is dependent on bringing toys or have the GM sprinkle them in the scenario. This because you cant take the fists away from a samurai, the magic away from a mage, or the charm away from the face. And if you want anything but the environment itself to be a challenge (and even then a magic user is better prepared then a mundane) there will be meat (or mana) based enemies to interact with. But for a rigger or hacker, there is a fair chance that there will be no computer or drone to mess around with. And even in SR, meat do not automatically come with a computer.

sadly, hackers are easily marginalized characters.



*cough* hacked smartguns... with underbarrel grenade launchers..*cough* >:3 (nothing like the GM's face when the strike team shooting at the runners goes boom when a TM turns off the safe range system and triggers all of their launchers while the hostiles are taking cover in an enclosed area..)

also don't forget everything is almost always wireless enabled, I've reset the safe target system on a sentry gun... to only shoot at those with the 'safe' RFID chips...

Be creative, nothing says you can not use psychological warfare against them either... AR spam attacks to hinder aiming, etc...

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hobgoblin
post Jun 29 2010, 03:59 PM
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smartguns suggest some level of tech. What if your team is facing down trained animals or even gangers/terrorists with old AK's?
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Belvidere
post Jun 29 2010, 04:11 PM
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QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Jun 29 2010, 10:59 AM) *
smartguns suggest some level of tech. What if your team is facing down trained animals or even gangers/terrorists with old AK's?


Then use the tech around you in the environment. Turn of lights while you and your thermal use thermal or ultrasound to take them out while they're blind. Set off car alarms on wireless active cars to give your team sound distraction. Spam their commlinks with phone calls spoofed from other gang members. (You'd be surprised how often a group of ancients will back down if you send them a text from their leader telling them to get back) Hacking is just like magic, it's all about imagination (IMG:style_emoticons/default/grinbig.gif)
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hobgoblin
post Jun 29 2010, 04:33 PM
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flipping light switches would indicate that you have the access id of someone that can do so on hand to spoof commands as.

with car alarms i am not even sure they can be triggered like that even if one hack the cars node, and how many complex actions would that take? And how many bullets can a samurai spray down range in the same time, or spells can a mage cast?

comlink calls or text message may or may not work, tho i guess one could grab the access id from one of the gangers and use that to spoof the rest.

thing is, we may have over-estimated the power of spoof as a option for a long time now.

1. it requires the hacker to have performed a matrix perception one some persona or similar to get hold of the access id to spoof commands from.

2. it can spoof commands. Question is, what is a command? heck, what can be triggered by a command without the command being issued from a persona located inside the node being commanded?

so you may be able to issue a clip ejection command to a smartgun. That is, if you have the access id of the holder of the gun and its actually wirelessly enabled (rather then going by way of skinlink). And all that hinges on there being a smartgun in the first place. There are few guns that are so by default.
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TommyTwoToes
post Jun 29 2010, 04:41 PM
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QUOTE (BookWyrm @ Jun 27 2010, 06:53 PM) *
..."Fu-ware"...


or the ever-feared "ware-fu"
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Ascalaphus
post Jun 29 2010, 04:41 PM
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QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Jun 29 2010, 04:18 PM) *
sadly, hackers are easily marginalized characters.


Bring your own drones. There are enough cheap drones available (<3000 (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nuyen.gif) ) that you can use to gain more battlefield overview, enable indirect fire and so forth.

I'm toying with the idea of putting something like Active Targeting (SR4, p162) in my TacNet houserules; someone can take actions to focus the TacNet on specific targets. A hacker should be doing stuff like overwatch, after all.
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MortVent
post Jun 29 2010, 04:49 PM
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you don't have to spoof to control a node, a simple brute force attack works as well since the alarms are already triggered.

Bring your own drones, brute force take over theirs, overide the controls of a bus (I hit him with the route 7 express...), improvise.

Any role can be marginalized if someone doesn't know how to play it well... by thinking outside the box.

Vs hounds, drop a couple pepper punch grenades... hounds go down hard usually. I've dropped a wrecking ball on a citymaster during a high speed chase... boy did KE take that poorly..

With the dogs, do a quick scan.. they likely have shock collars on! Zap the puppeh!
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The_Vanguard
post Jun 29 2010, 06:39 PM
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Well, since I'm running an Emergence campaign right now my players can't really complain about a lack of Matrix action. But I'm always trying to incorporate challenges for everyone: goons with drone-backup, clone killers with cortex bombs, wacky mages that rather believe the voices in their head to be coming from their mentor spirit than from the commlink, jarheads in all shapes and sizes...

But a WiFi scan is always a handy alternative to Detect Life, and coordinating team startegy in VR can help against friendly fire (if the GM is feeling mean) and may allow attacking invisible enemies or those behind walls.

Also, hackers are the best information gatherers. Period.
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deek
post Jun 29 2010, 06:49 PM
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I like the Maneuvers. Those definitely have some potential.

I don't like the fact that none of the styles have any drawbacks. It makes more sense to me to have some balance, so if you get plusses in one area, you get some minuses in another.

The only major issue I see is adding more flavor and complexity to the matrix does one thing that the majority of players are disgruntled about: matrix play is too long.
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The_Vanguard
post Jun 29 2010, 07:14 PM
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QUOTE (deek @ Jun 29 2010, 08:49 PM) *
I like the Maneuvers. Those definitely have some potential.

I don't like the fact that none of the styles have any drawbacks. It makes more sense to me to have some balance, so if you get plusses in one area, you get some minuses in another.

The only major issue I see is adding more flavor and complexity to the matrix does one thing that the majority of players are disgruntled about: matrix play is too long.


Are you familiar with the Martial Arts rules from Arsenal? You have to pay BP or Karma for the advantages, so your growth in other areas is staunched.
Also I try to mix real-world combat with cybercombat whenever possible, so no player feels left out. It's not perfect, of course, but until now my group has had no real gripes with the hacking.
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