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> SR3 Simple(r) Decking - feedback wanted
Vagabond Elf
post Aug 6 2012, 01:33 AM
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Howdy, all. So, for my first post here I wanted to get some feedback on houserules for a streamlined Decking system.

You see, my group just decided to switch to something else, and Shadowrun won the debate. Since I own and am familiar with SR3, that's what we'll be using. However, mere moments before I could say "but no Deckers," the swing-vote player said "Oh, let's do Shadowrun, I've always wanted to play a Decker."

Well, I wasn't going to stomp on him. I did warn him that by the normal rules Deckers are huge time-sucks and I'd be planning a way to do most runs in just a handful of rolls, in order to keep it simple. He was fine with that notion. Well, after some fiddling, this is what I've come up with. It doesn't yet address Decker-vs-Decker - but I'm also thinking that that sort of conflict should be rare. Much as two Swordmasters on a renaissance would actively avoid each other, so to will Deckers avoid taking on the thing most likely to hurt them. Yes, that's mostly a justification for avoiding the issue. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

The big problem with Decking is that itís essentially a solo dungeon crawl Ė the decker finds a way in, tools about exploring the network of nodes looking for the one that had what he wants while making stealth rolls to avoid being noticed by the system; and when he is, engaging them in dramatic epic combat. Which is fine for the decker but deathly dull for the other players.

The goal of this system is to streamline both the combat and the exploring bit, and hopefully make a standard decking run narrow down into 3 to 6 rolls, while still leaving room for the deckerís skills and gear to matter, and a sense of risk in play.

Decks are built in the same manner; however, the Attribute programs are generally going to be used as TNs for the IC, rather than die pools. Utility programs are used to boost these TNs: Armour boosts Bod, Cloak boosts Evasion, Sleaze boosts Masking, Lock-on boots Sensors.

Utilities:

Analyze: (x2) Lowers TNs for Analyze actions.

Browse: (x1) Lowers TNs for Search actions.

Comlink: (x1) Lowers TNs for Make/Tap Comcall actions.

Deception: (x2) Lowers TNs for Logon and Logoff actions.

Decrypt: (x1) Lowers TNs for Decrypt actions.

Read/Write: (x2) Lowers TNs for Copy and Upload actions.

Spoof: (x3) Lowers TNs for Control Slave actions.

Sleaze: (x3) Boosts Masking rating.

Attack: (x2/3/4/5) Lowers TN for Crash IC, and used to attack other Deckers. Higher multiplier programs will keep the IC crashed longer.

Black Hammer (x20): Used in Decker v. Decker to actually hurt the Decker.

Killjoy (x10): Decker v. Decker, does Stun damage.

Armour: (x3) Boosts Bod rating.

Cloak: (x3) Boosts Evasion rating.

Lock-On: (x3) Boots Sensor rating

Medic: (x4): Repairs Decks damage level.

Host Ratings:

Security Value is the same: Colour (Blue, Green, Orange, Red) & Dice. Die Pools should range between 3 and 10, with a typical system being around 6 dice.

Substystems should also be able to stay the same: Access, Control, Index, Files, Slave, rated between 8 and 18, with typical being around 13.

Step One: Logon

The Decker must get into the target host. The Decker makes an opposed roll against the system rolling Computers v. Access while the system rolls against Masking; if he succeeds he gets his Margin in bonus dice for Step Two. If he fails he is not logged in. The GM should use the systemís Margin as a tool for deciding if the target notices the attempt and decides itís worth the effort of hunting down the Decker. The Decker may try again, if he likes, but 1) the system gets an extra die each time he tries, until at least 12 hours have passed, and 2) the GM should use the sum of the Systemís margins when deciding possible consequences.

Step Two: Sleaze:

The Decker, having gotten in, needs to hide his presence from other deckers and protective IC. This is an opposed roll between the Decker rolling Computers vs. Control; the System targets the Deckerís Masking rating. The Decker has his margin + Reaction enhancement in actions before the system realises heís there. He will know how many raw successes he got, and how many dice the system rolled, but not how many successes the system got. The Decker gets bonus dice to this roll equal to his Margin in Step One. The Hostís security level can give bonus successes here: A Blue Node is +2, a Green is +1, Orange +0, and Red -1. If the System wins this roll, the Decker will still have safe actions equal to his Reaction Enhancement (or a minimum of 1), but the Systemís Margin is again a tool for the GM in how well the corp can identify the target.

Step Three: Tool About.

The ďdungeon crawlĒ is abstracted here, as the Decker takes actions. These are normal rolls, though the required successes can be affected by passive IC. Unless the Decker botches, the system will take no active steps against him until his ďclockĒ runs out. In theory, getting the data should only need two rolls: Search and Copy.

Possible Actions:

Analyze Ė gain information on the system youíre in. Targets Control.

Search Ė find the thing youíre looking for. Targets Index.

Copy Ė download data to your deck. Targets Files.

Upload Ė upload data from your deck. Also used to change data on the fly. Copy and Upload are of course limited by I/o, which as noted can do about 5 seconds worth of work each action. Targets Files.

Control Slave Ė command a physical thing in the real world to do whatever it does; or spoof it into thinking itís doing something itís not. (Open/close door, make coffee, build a car, whatever.) This may also require the decker to make some other skill check (Car B/R if heís actively controlling the car factory, Gunnery if heís using a remote sentry gun, &c.) Targets Slave.

Decrypt: Punch through the encryption on a file or system. Often this canít be done in the timeframe available while online, and needs to be done on a downloaded copy. Targets Files.

Make/tap Phonecall: Like it says, make a phone call or tap into someoneís existing call. Targets Files.

Graceful Logoff: Disengage from the system without leaving a trackable trail or suffering Dump Shock. Targets Access.

It is very explicitly NOT possible to redo the Sleaze Ė the clock is ticking, and you canít extend it.

The Decker may swap out two utilities for free at the beginning of each action, though if the new program is more than 5 times his available I/o it wonít be available until next action.

Step Four: Caught!

Once the clock runs out, the decker will have to deal with active IC. Active IC may be trying to trace him, it may be trying to boot him from the System, or it may be trying to hurt him or his Deck. Either way, any further action become opposed rolls. If the Decker wins the roll, he does what he wanted to do with a success rate based on the Margin. If the IC wins, it does its thing based on the Margin.

Many forms of IC attempt to attack the Decker or his programs in one manner or another. The Decker has two choices: attempt to Dodge using Evasion, or tough it out using Bod. Either way, the Decker still takes his normal action, the choice merely determines what the IC is using as its target number. On a Blue System, the Decker decides. On a Green System, he decides as long as his Response Increase is at least 1, otherwise the GM decides. On an Orange he needs RI 2, and on Red RI 3. Yes, this is really really abstracting out Initiative.

One more action can be added here:

Crash IC Ė if the Decker wins, the systemís IE is gone for Margin Ė Rating based on Security Code (0/2/4/6) + (0/1/2/3 (based on Attack program DL) ) Targets Ice.

Run Medic Ė Targets Control, but the TN is reduced by the Rating of the Medic Program. Each success restores one box of damage.

ICE:

White:

Cripplers: Cripplers are attack IC. For each two successes they score, one of the Deckerís Attribute programs is reduced by 1, to a minimum of 1. Most systems are designed to launch a different type of IC once the target attribute is below a set level (usually 1 or 2.)

Killer: Killer does damage to the Deckerís Icon, with a Damage Code of (Rating)M on a Blue or Green system and (Rating)S on an Orange or Red system. Extra Successes stage up the Damage as normal. If the Damage reaches/passes Deadly, the Decker is dumped and may suffer Dump Shock or Overdamage as per the normal SR3 rules.

Probe: Probe is the most benign form of IC out there. It does no damage to the Decker; instead it rolls against the Masking attribute and uses its successes to increase the chance of IDing the decker after the run.

Scramble: Scramble attempts to re-encrypt data on the fly. It rolls against Sensors. If it wins, not only is the Decker unsuccessful but whatever data he was after is now encrypted (or double encrypted if it was encrypted before) and will need a Decrypt action to readÖ and of course the Scramble will continue to re-encrypt every time it wins. On the flip side, after two or three failures the data will be unrecoverable even by the original owner. Because of this, Scramble is a not terribly common form of IC.

Tar Baby: Tar Babies are like Cripplers, but attack utilities rather than persona programs. Whatever program the Decker uses for the action has its rating reduced by the ICís margin. If the programís rating reaches 0, it crashes the program and it cannot be used for the rest of the run. Otherwise, a new copy can be loaded by swapping just as any other program. As Tar Babies are not generally capable of ending a run, it is usually used either on an off-line system, where the extra time the decker must take to deal with the Tar Baby might allow the meat security to take action, or is programmed to swap out for something else after 1 or 2 passes.

Grey:

Blaster: Attack IC, Blaster does damage to the Deckerís Icon, with a Damage Code of (Rating)M on a Blue or Green system and (Rating)S on an Orange or Red system. Extra Successes stage up the Damage as normal. If the Damage reaches/passes Deadly, the Decker is dumped and may suffer Dump Shock or Overdamage as per the normal SR3 rules. Additionally, the IC makes one more roll vs. the deckís MPCP + Hardening. For each 2 successes, the MPCP rating is reduced by 1. Repairing an MPCP chip is impractical; to restore the rating, it must be replaced.

Rippers: attack IC. For each two successes they score, one of the Deckerís Attribute programs is reduced by 1, to a minimum of 0. If the program reaches 0, the IC makes one more roll vs. the deckís MPCP + Hardening. For each 2 successes, the Programís rating is permanently reduced by 1. Most systems are designed to launch a different type of IC once the target attribute is crashed.

Sparky: Attack IC, Blaster does damage to the Deckerís Icon, with a Damage Code of (Rating)M on a Blue or Green system and (Rating)S on an Orange or Red system. Extra Successes stage up the Damage as normal. If the Damage reaches/passes Deadly, the Decker is dumped and may suffer Dump Shock or Overdamage as per the normal SR3 rules. Additionally, the IC makes one more roll vs. the deckís MPCP + Hardening. For each 2 successes, the MPCP rating is reduced by 1. Also, the Decker suffers (Rating-Hardening)M damage, staged up by the ICís successes on the final roll, and reduced by a Body test as normal.

Tar Pit: Tar Pits attack utilities, but go after not just the running copy but also the code stored in the deckís storage memory. Whatever program the Decker uses for the action has its rating reduced by the ICís margin. If the programís rating reaches 0, it crashes the program and it cannot be used for the rest of the run. Otherwise, a new copy can be loaded by swapping just as any other program. When the program is crashed or swapped, make a test against (MPCP+Hardening). If the IC gets any successes, all copies of the utility stored on the deck have been damaged to the same extent. (After the run, the decker may restore the program from off-line storage.) As Tar Pits are not generally capable of ending a run, it is usually used either on an off-line system, where the extra time the decker must take to deal with the Tar Pit might allow the meat security to take action, or is programmed to swap out for something else after 1 or 2 passes.

Black ICE: Black IC does damage to both the Deckerís Icon and the Decker himself., with a Damage Code of (Rating)M on a Blue or Green system and (Rating)S on an Orange or Red system. Extra Successes stage up the Damage as normal. The Decker makes a resistance roll against the meat damage, with Hardening acting as armour. If the Icon Damage reaches/passes Deadly, the Decker is not dumped. The ICís rating is increased by 2, and it continues to attack until the Decker dies or passes out, or wins the roll (using the ICEís rating as a TN), allowing him to jack out. Black IC may be either Lethal or Stun damage. If the Decker dies or passes out, the IC makes one last attack on the deck itself: the IC makes one more roll vs. the deckís MPCP + Hardening using twice the ICEís rating. For each 2 successes, the MPCP rating is reduced by 1.

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So, that's what I've got so far. It's not been tested in any way yet, but I think it looks good on paper. Any comments or suggestions people with more practice with the SR3 rules might have, however, will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
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tisoz
post Aug 6 2012, 02:39 AM
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I just used the optional rules. Been a while since I actually used them so I'd have to look up specifics.

I think by letting them use the optional rules to raise their detection factor, it seems like I remember them stealthing in, rummaging around, and by the time there was a security alert, they had found what they wanted or they left and came back later. I recall very few actual fights, and then it was when they were at the pay data and were trying to get it downloaded when the attack came. OR they actively went looking to kick another decker's ass, but no rule is going to help avoid or streamline that.
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BishopMcQ
post Aug 6 2012, 03:28 AM
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You might want to look at MJLBB. There were simplified rules in there which are even more streamlined than what you are presenting here.

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Vagabond Elf
post Aug 6 2012, 07:40 AM
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MJLBB? I confess to not knowing the acronym.

Similarly, optional rules from where? Matrix 3? I haven't had a change to scrounge that yet - a friend has a copy that's not in use, I just need to get over there.
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Bigity
post Aug 6 2012, 12:03 PM
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Mr. Johnson's Little Black Book
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Vagabond Elf
post Aug 6 2012, 05:22 PM
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Ah, of course.

A quick review of those does show where I was probably drawing from when I wrote this; the basic notion is similar. So that we're all able to talk about it, let me outline what I see as differences:

The biggest differences are making the "Tool About" stage (to use my terms) opposed rolls and activating IC when the system gets enough successes, and requiring the decker to actively combat IC, instead of letting him "dodge" and keep doing what he was doing. My only concern would be that the fighting, though simplified, still needs 10 net successes to crash the IC, so it will still take a few rolls to achieve.

How do people find this plays out? Is it quick yet fufilling? I don't want the player to feel like his role is being marginalised; and yes, I realise that my narration will make a huge difference in that respect.

Coming back to my homebrew, does anyone have any comments on it? Anything that jumps out as being awkward or potential hiccoughs, mechanics-wise?
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