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> The matrix scares me
galvatron42
post Feb 25 2012, 08:49 AM
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As I'm trying to get ready to run my first ever SR game, I'm getting really nervous abut the matrix and how it functions in the game. What are the limits to what the characters can do with it? Hacking is what I'm thinking about mostly right now. I have 3 drones in the scenario I'm running and I'm worried I'll mess it up. How does the hacking work exactly? Some specific questions...

1: can someone use the hacking skill to hack one of the attack drones? can he hack it to make it stop attacking them or even fight for them? would he have to be wired in to the drone to hack it? would drones be programmed with IC?

2: security cameras...can they be hacked? does it require wires or can it be done at a distance?

3: smartlinked weapons...i know i've heard talk of weapons being hacked. thats what they make skinlink for, or so i'm told. how do you hack a weapon? what can you make a weapon do once it is hacked, simply stop functioning? i can get that it would disable the smartlink, negating the bonus dice to the attack pool, but can it stop gun from shooting at all?

I guess I'm wondering about the limitations of the hacking skill. I don't want to allow it to be too powerful, but I don't want to screw the hacker player either. Thanks for any help you can provide.
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NiL_FisK_Urd
post Feb 25 2012, 08:56 AM
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If the Hacker has Admin access:

1) If the drones have a wireless connection, the hacker can take it over. Completely. Or just spoof commands.

2) see 1

3) he can activate the safety, change required biometrics, eject the magazine, fire it when it is pointed at someone.

Most of the time you are just better off killing drones and people with smartlinks, it tends to be quicker - but if the hacker has time to do it beforehand ...
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ShadowDragon8685
post Feb 25 2012, 09:48 AM
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And of course, once the drone thinks you're its master, you can always drive it into the van you wallpapered with wireless-blocking wallpaper and take it home to make it your bitch for good.
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SpellBinder
post Feb 25 2012, 09:52 AM
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I've loved making someone else's drones my bitches. Just gotta remember to change their hardwired access ID the first chance you get.

And here'll be a few tips to help make things more difficult against hacking them.

1 & 2: Drones typically have a device rating of 3 (security drones 4, military drones 5). Include Encrypt programs to all of them at their device rating; no Decrypt program on part of the hacker means you've got an ill prepared (and maybe dumb) hacker. Also, you can include a data bomb (with Pavlov and/or Psychotropic if you really want to be disgusting) to go off upon signing into the drone's node. Also have said drones run in hidden mode (slightly more difficult to find initially). Speed bumps, really, but can give a hacker pause when running into them.

3: Along with #1, but also check out the skinlink and cyber safety accessory options.

All of the above: Agents with analyze and other programs can also act as an extra deterrent, or more speed bumps. Each drone, commlink, and smartgun can run these programs (again, typically at a device rating of 3).

On the fly these will prove to be decently effective at times. If the hacker has the time to prepare, skill, & software they can be next to useless.
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Aerospider
post Feb 25 2012, 10:07 AM
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QUOTE (galvatron42 @ Feb 25 2012, 08:49 AM) *
As I'm trying to get ready to run my first ever SR game, I'm getting really nervous abut the matrix and how it functions in the game. What are the limits to what the characters can do with it? Hacking is what I'm thinking about mostly right now. I have 3 drones in the scenario I'm running and I'm worried I'll mess it up. How does the hacking work exactly? Some specific questions...

1: can someone use the hacking skill to hack one of the attack drones? can he hack it to make it stop attacking them or even fight for them? would he have to be wired in to the drone to hack it? would drones be programmed with IC?

2: security cameras...can they be hacked? does it require wires or can it be done at a distance?

3: smartlinked weapons...i know i've heard talk of weapons being hacked. thats what they make skinlink for, or so i'm told. how do you hack a weapon? what can you make a weapon do once it is hacked, simply stop functioning? i can get that it would disable the smartlink, negating the bonus dice to the attack pool, but can it stop gun from shooting at all?

I guess I'm wondering about the limitations of the hacking skill. I don't want to allow it to be too powerful, but I don't want to screw the hacker player either. Thanks for any help you can provide.

There's a quote floating around in someone's signature about how magic is technical and restrictive whilst computing is wild and boundless and there's a lot of truth in that. The Matrix changes made in SR4 were clearly intended to decrease mechanical complexity and free up player potential so many GMs find it very daunting at first. The best advice I can give is that the less you worry about going by the letter of the RAW the better. The feel you should aim for is quick and vivid.

1. Yes, drones can be hacked. I don't think completely unhackable systems are possible. With a hacked account the intruder can cancel orders and give new ones - security access might be sufficient, but no lower. Assuming the drone has wireless enabled (a certainty if it's mobile) then a wired connection is not required for hacking. However, if the drone is slaved to another node then all (non-wired) communications are redirected to the master node which must be hacked instead (and is usually better defended) and the drone will only take commands from its master. Drones can indeed have IC, but be mindful of processor load. The IC itself and any program it runs all count towards the load and every multiple of the processor limit (System) you hit you lose a Response, which will decrease combat effectiveness.

2. Security cameras can indeed be hacked, but the same rules apply about connectivity. They are more likely to be wired, but that's not to say it's more likely than not. There's still convenience and savings to be had from not running cables throughout the building.

3. A weapon doesn't even have to be smartlinked to be hackable - most have a wireless node if only to provide an ammo count. Expect wireless to be at Signal 0 or, as you say, skinlinked. That means getting very close or hacking the guy's 'link first. The functions available via electronic command vary a lot, but one should at least be able to eject a clip (but not a magazine as they're integral), activate the safety and disable certain accessories, like a laser sight or smartgun system. You'll only be able to fire it if it has an electronic firing system, which most don't.
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TwoDee
post Feb 25 2012, 10:18 AM
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QUOTE (Aerospider @ Feb 25 2012, 02:07 AM) *
1. Yes, drones can be hacked. I don't think completely unhackable systems are possible. With a hacked account the intruder can cancel orders and give new ones - security access might be sufficient, but no lower. Assuming the drone has wireless enabled (a certainty if it's mobile) then a wired connection is not required for hacking. However, if the drone is slaved to another node then all (non-wired) communications are redirected to the master node which must be hacked instead (and is usually better defended) and the drone will only take commands from its master. Drones can indeed have IC, but be mindful of processor load. The IC itself and any program it runs all count towards the load and every multiple of the processor limit (System) you hit you lose a Response, which will decrease combat effectiveness.

2. Security cameras can indeed be hacked, but the same rules apply about connectivity. They are more likely to be wired, but that's not to say it's more likely than not. There's still convenience and savings to be had from not running cables throughout the building.


Any system above a sprawl gang is going to have drones slaved to the security node, admittedly, be it a security rigger's implanted commlink or a spider nexus. Therefore, when I'm running missions for my team, I typically don't worry about the Matrix stats of drones, since any rigger or security force worth its salt is already going to have all of the drones slaved.

QUOTE
3. A weapon doesn't even have to be smartlinked to be hackable - most have a wireless node if only to provide an ammo count. Expect wireless to be at Signal 0 or, as you say, skinlinked. That means getting very close or hacking the guy's 'link first. The functions available via electronic command vary a lot, but one should at least be able to eject a clip (but not a magazine as they're integral), activate the safety and disable certain accessories, like a laser sight or smartgun system. You'll only be able to fire it if it has an electronic firing system, which most don't.


Funnily enough, this exact thing is what makes weapon commlinks way more trouble than they're worth.
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NiL_FisK_Urd
post Feb 25 2012, 10:18 AM
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@aerospider: by RAW, you can fire each weapon with a smartlink remotely, even with a "normal" trigger
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Aerospider
post Feb 25 2012, 11:26 AM
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QUOTE (NiL_FisK_Urd @ Feb 25 2012, 10:18 AM) *
@aerospider: by RAW, you can fire each weapon with a smartlink remotely, even with a "normal" trigger

I stand corrected.
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thorya
post Feb 25 2012, 02:05 PM
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There are a few things here that might help-
http://pavao.org/shadowrun/cheatsheets/

And several threads if you go back a few weeks or months on this board that have step by step guides.

Don't sweat it too much, unless your rules lawyer is playing the hacker. Your players are new too, from what you've said in other places. Chances are they'll be just as confused as you are.
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Froggie
post Feb 25 2012, 06:41 PM
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Volume 2 of the Dumpshock Datahaven has a good flow chart for matrix hacking.

http://datahaven.dumpshock.com/
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CanRay
post Feb 25 2012, 07:54 PM
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QUOTE (ShadowDragon8685 @ Feb 25 2012, 05:48 AM) *
And of course, once the drone thinks you're its master, you can always drive it into the van you wallpapered with wireless-blocking wallpaper and take it home to make it your bitch for good.
Great, now I'm going to have to make a Drone Rigger that thinks he's a Pimp with his robotic "Stable".
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ShadowDragon8685
post Feb 25 2012, 08:21 PM
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QUOTE (CanRay @ Feb 25 2012, 02:54 PM) *
Great, now I'm going to have to make a Drone Rigger that thinks he's a Pimp with his robotic "Stable".


With anthroform drones rocking upper-rating Mimic modifications, you can do this very literally.

All the fun of owning a bunraku parlor, none of the pesky ethical concerns.
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Tanegar
post Feb 25 2012, 09:13 PM
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QUOTE (ShadowDragon8685 @ Feb 25 2012, 03:21 PM) *
With anthroform drones rocking upper-rating Mimic modifications, you can do this very literally.

All the fun of owning a bunraku parlor, none of the pesky ethical concerns.

There are ethical concerns in Shadowrun?
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Psikerlord
post Feb 25 2012, 10:30 PM
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If you're rigging the drone it can't be hacked, isn't there some rule about that somewhere? So you could have an unhackable drone by plugging into it with a 10m fibreoptic cord, rig it, and hide around the corner while your drone takes 'em out?
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Tech_Rat
post Feb 25 2012, 11:07 PM
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QUOTE (Psikerlord @ Feb 25 2012, 05:30 PM) *
If you're rigging the drone it can't be hacked, isn't there some rule about that somewhere? So you could have an unhackable drone by plugging into it with a 10m fibreoptic cord, rig it, and hide around the corner while your drone takes 'em out?


I can just imagine the dumpshock, the gunshots... sending someone around the other corner to gank the jumped in hardline rigger in the meat?
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Aerospider
post Feb 25 2012, 11:18 PM
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QUOTE (Psikerlord @ Feb 25 2012, 10:30 PM) *
If you're rigging the drone it can't be hacked, isn't there some rule about that somewhere? So you could have an unhackable drone by plugging into it with a 10m fibreoptic cord, rig it, and hide around the corner while your drone takes 'em out?

It's not that it can't be hacked - I can't find the text, but IIRC jumping in (which doesn't require a wired connection) means you alone have control over the drone, but that's not true of the node. It can still be hacked as usual and an intruder can still attack you in cybercombat, delete your account, etc. Now if you're using a cable so that you can have the wireless turned off then they'd have to hack in to your link first.
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CanRay
post Feb 25 2012, 11:22 PM
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You can turn on and off the wireless with a thought. If you're jumped into the drone and do that, dumpshock. If you're wired into it, you're good.
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BishopMcQ
post Feb 25 2012, 11:24 PM
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QUOTE (Tech_Rat @ Feb 25 2012, 03:07 PM) *
I can just imagine the dumpshock, the gunshots... sending someone around the other corner to gank the jumped in hardline rigger in the meat?

Or just cut the optic cable...
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Daylen
post Feb 25 2012, 11:24 PM
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Smartlinked weapons are only vulnerable if the idiot user has it connected in some fashion to a node. Why someone would do that with such a critical system is beyond me unless they are able to get their security completely invulnerable. I'd expect the same person to have limbs connected to a wireless node as well and have an IQ of 5.
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Aerospider
post Feb 25 2012, 11:26 PM
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QUOTE (Tech_Rat @ Feb 25 2012, 11:07 PM) *
I can just imagine the dumpshock, the gunshots... sending someone around the other corner to gank the jumped in hardline rigger in the meat?

Yeah, jumping in is definitely more suited to a long-distance arrangement.

But then it's often been argued that remote-controlling is more effective anyway.
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Aerospider
post Feb 25 2012, 11:31 PM
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QUOTE (Daylen @ Feb 25 2012, 11:24 PM) *
Smartlinked weapons are only vulnerable if the idiot user has it connected in some fashion to a node. Why someone would do that with such a critical system is beyond me unless they are able to get their security completely invulnerable. I'd expect the same person to have limbs connected to a wireless node as well and have an IQ of 5.

Technically a 'smartlinked' weapon is by definition connected to another node - namely the one with the smartlink. What is in the weapon is a smartgun system, and it's of bigger all use if there isn't another node receiving all that lovely data.
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Daylen
post Feb 25 2012, 11:39 PM
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QUOTE (Aerospider @ Feb 25 2012, 11:31 PM) *
Technically a 'smartlinked' weapon is by definition connected to another node - namely the one with the smartlink. What is in the weapon is a smartgun system, and it's of bigger all use if there isn't another node receiving all that lovely data.

ok you got me, I should have said a hackable node. Smartlinks should only be connected to wired nodes that are internal to the body with no extra external ports available for deckers to exploit.
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Psikerlord
post Feb 26 2012, 12:10 AM
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QUOTE (Aerospider @ Feb 25 2012, 11:18 PM) *
It's not that it can't be hacked - I can't find the text, but IIRC jumping in (which doesn't require a wired connection) means you alone have control over the drone, but that's not true of the node. It can still be hacked as usual and an intruder can still attack you in cybercombat, delete your account, etc. Now if you're using a cable so that you can have the wireless turned off then they'd have to hack in to your link first.


What link do you mean - like his datajack? If a rigger has a direct fibre optic connection to his drone, via his datajack (turn wireless off?) and fibreoptic cord, there is no way to hijack his drone, is there? I dont think ? I mean it's all very inconvenient - someone might cut the cord, shoot the meat rigger, etc as noted above ... but occasionally it might be a useful tactic to have up your sleeve.

Actually one other option I just thought of - couldn't you tell your drone to attack certain identified targets and tell it to do so until they are destroyed and return to base, and then turn off its wireless? So it is a fire and forget style attack - the drone keeps attacking until it fulfills the command parameters or is destroyed/incapacitated. But you wouldn't have to worry about it being turned against you...? Sure, you can't give it updated orders, or acquire new targets etc - but still useful perhaps in situations where you fear your drone being turned against you...?
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Mercer
post Feb 26 2012, 12:44 AM
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QUOTE (Aerospider @ Feb 25 2012, 11:07 AM) *
There's a quote floating around in someone's signature about how magic is technical and restrictive whilst computing is wild and boundless and there's a lot of truth in that.


I don't know who has the sig but I know that quote (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) :

QUOTE (Mercer @ Dec 10 2009, 02:08 PM) *
Shadowrun is a weird game in that the rules for magic tend to be as orderly as applying for a small business loan, and the computer rules are this mystical realm where it's anything you can imagine.


It reminds me a little of something I heard about Deadlands (and I have no idea if this is true), but combat resolution used a deck of cards instead of dice, but if your character wanted to play cards it was a skill check which was resolved by rolling dice.

My opinion on hacking-- and I'm still not great on it-- is RAW can get you so far and then RAW can get you killed ("killed" meaning here "very confused"). Each group has to come to their own understanding of what the RAW means and how it is applied. Magic works I think because as players we understand how things like astral space function-- when something comes up not explicitly covered by the RAW we already know how that world works. (And I think it helps no one can say, "Well in the real world, magic works like this.") The RAW on hacking cover specific procedures very well, but it's still left to the group to come up with the mythology so to speak-- how those procedures interrelate and make sense in the context of the game and world.

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TwoDee
post Feb 26 2012, 01:25 AM
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QUOTE (Tanegar @ Feb 25 2012, 01:13 PM) *
There are ethical concerns in Shadowrun?


Not for my party there aren't.
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