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> Practical Perimeter Security / Astral, ...because my Troll tells me I should "stay away from the Voo-Doo&
MikeKozar
post Jan 25 2013, 06:43 AM
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I was recently inspired by a jackass on /r/Shadowrun to make another crack at building scenarios that require a "mirrorshades" approach - layered, rational, professional security that demands careful planning and cunning to get around. ( Emphasis on "get around", because trying to go toe-to-toe...well, they gotta feed the Hellhounds *something*. ) I'm pretty confident in my physical security. I'm not as great with Matrix and Social layers, but at least I understand the principles - mostly redundancy and compartmentalization, in both cases.

Where my cunning plans fall apart is in dealing with mages, astral and in person. This is only partly a rules issue; I have trouble *writing* competent magical security. I'd like to read back to you what I understand, and if you could do me a favor and help me harden it to a competent level then I would be most grateful.

In Astral Space, it seems like a good security perimeter is a combination of Watchers, Wards, Spirits, and patrolling mages. It seems like you would build something analogous to a physical security setup, with Watchers taking the place of drone cameras, Wards acting as walls, and Spirits taking the place of armed guards. If any of those layers are defeated or an alarm is raised, a call goes out to an Astral Heavy Response Team - three to five trained mages ready for Astral combat and possibly with weapon foci. If a "boss" is justified, then the site might have a greater spirit (Force 8+) defending it.

My problem with that layout is that it implies every site with competent magical security will also have mid to high power spirits available, and that dramatically reduces the survivability of a Shadow team. I honestly prefer having them duke it out with SWAT rather than getting murdered by an Air spirit, but I can't figure out how to secure Astral without combat spirits.

In the Physical plane, mages represent a threat more dangerous than a gun and more subversive than a crate of drugs. It makes sense that any checkpoint that would scan for weapons and contraband would want to identify active talents. However, doing this requires either a dedicated manifested spirit, someone astrally sensitive working a guardpost, or some magitech gimmick to tip off the guards. More importantly, what do you do once you've identified a mage? If a Magic-8 dude tried to get in with a janitor ID, I can see dropping the hammer, but what if they're legit? Wagemages are incredibly valuable, and it makes sense that there would have to be a policy that allows them to be welcome where they belong but still gives a reasonable chance at stopping intruders from rolling in with Flesh to Goo and Erase Memory. How would a sane facility handle internal magical security?

Thanks in advance, I look forward to some insight on this subject.
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toturi
post Jan 25 2013, 07:22 AM
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QUOTE (MikeKozar @ Jan 25 2013, 02:43 PM) *
I was recently inspired by a jackass on /r/Shadowrun to make another crack at building scenarios that require a "mirrorshades" approach - layered, rational, professional security that demands careful planning and cunning to get around. ( Emphasis on "get around", because trying to go toe-to-toe...well, they gotta feed the Hellhounds *something*. ) I'm pretty confident in my physical security. I'm not as great with Matrix and Social layers, but at least I understand the principles - mostly redundancy and compartmentalization, in both cases.

Where my cunning plans fall apart is in dealing with mages, astral and in person. This is only partly a rules issue; I have trouble *writing* competent magical security. I'd like to read back to you what I understand, and if you could do me a favor and help me harden it to a competent level then I would be most grateful.

In Astral Space, it seems like a good security perimeter is a combination of Watchers, Wards, Spirits, and patrolling mages. It seems like you would build something analogous to a physical security setup, with Watchers taking the place of drone cameras, Wards acting as walls, and Spirits taking the place of armed guards. If any of those layers are defeated or an alarm is raised, a call goes out to an Astral Heavy Response Team - three to five trained mages ready for Astral combat and possibly with weapon foci. If a "boss" is justified, then the site might have a greater spirit (Force 8+) defending it.

My problem with that layout is that it implies every site with competent magical security will also have mid to high power spirits available, and that dramatically reduces the survivability of a Shadow team. I honestly prefer having them duke it out with SWAT rather than getting murdered by an Air spirit, but I can't figure out how to secure Astral without combat spirits.

In the Physical plane, mages represent a threat more dangerous than a gun and more subversive than a crate of drugs. It makes sense that any checkpoint that would scan for weapons and contraband would want to identify active talents. However, doing this requires either a dedicated manifested spirit, someone astrally sensitive working a guardpost, or some magitech gimmick to tip off the guards. More importantly, what do you do once you've identified a mage? If a Magic-8 dude tried to get in with a janitor ID, I can see dropping the hammer, but what if they're legit? Wagemages are incredibly valuable, and it makes sense that there would have to be a policy that allows them to be welcome where they belong but still gives a reasonable chance at stopping intruders from rolling in with Flesh to Goo and Erase Memory. How would a sane facility handle internal magical security?

Thanks in advance, I look forward to some insight on this subject.

First of all, when I set up my facility security, there is a security commander. And he is the one who really runs the show, he handles the budget, the response standard procedure, etc. Maybe there is an security overview committee he answers to or there is a zealous accounts team that tries to cut costs, etc. These factors all go into the pot.

If I decide that this security commander got his job - Security Design skill 4 (specialisation Matrix) because Jake the VP of Matrix Resources was his college room mate and the board thinks that it is more cost effective to make use of drones than rely on unreliable magical resources, then the security would be set up accordingly.

Or perhaps the location and budget allows for unrestricted physical security, triple concertina wire, hellhounds, landmines, drones with HMGs, etc and the security commander is very good at his job Security Design skill 6, then security will be tight.

One thing to note: The presence of watchers or wards means I need to provide a mage with Cleansing and that means an initiated mage and the pay of an initiated mage is a big budget item.

I'd recommend taking a look at the various bad boys in Hazard Pay. They often have relevant security skills or their counters. Some of them were actually working in the system and managed to compromise some of the most seemingly secure facilities.

To me, any sane facility would only have cursory internal magical security. Remember talented mages are more useful generating income than stuck providing security. So often the second stringers get to provide security. Reliable, not ambitious, looking for a sinsecure post, etc, but these guys aren't going to be taking risks and so on.

There is a reason why competent talented mages in a runner team are worth their weight in orichalcum. A well built mage with a good player is nigh unstoppable.
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Udoshi
post Jan 25 2013, 08:01 AM
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QUOTE (MikeKozar @ Jan 24 2013, 11:43 PM) *
How would a sane facility handle internal magical security?


The best way to do this is to secure it in all the ways you can throw money at it, instead of actual magical talent.

This means awakened/dual natured walls and biofibers, glo-moss warning systems, manacase constructions in sensitive areas, training the onsite personnel to recognize what it feels like when an astral form passes through you. Oh yeah, and FAB. Things like guardian vines and awakened ivy work too - the catchy part is the monitoring systems that raise an alarm if someone just starts killing them off and they start mysteriously dying from being torn apart on the astral.

Setting up wards is a one-time expense, usually.

Awakened animals also work. I'm a fan of awakened pigeons/birds - you train them to set up/maintain astral Wards(which anyone with a magic attribute can do) of the nonpermanent variety around their 'nest' and 'home' which is the facility.
There's also a special moment when the runners realize the birds will occasionally try to shit on astral forms/mages/spirits as well as people.
My other favorite alteration is to assume watcher spirits can be summoned at a force higher than one, using the normal summoning rules instead of the special watcher ones, which is a really nice(and effective!) changeup from the usual reaction of 'oh hey its a watcher spirit, lets ignore it cuz it only rolls two dice for anything! WRONG!'

Even a single moderate/decent force spirit(6ish?), on a long-term-service to protect the base can do wonders for making the mundane security better. Mooks are a bit more of a threat against a mage when they have Magical Guard all over them and Sir Stunball doesn't work so well.
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Shaidar
post Jan 25 2013, 08:24 AM
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Looks like I really need to read up on Parazoology. Awakened Pigeons? How about dual natured parakeets trained to chirp and divebomb any astral presence other than their handlers/Security Mages.
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Blade
post Jan 25 2013, 09:15 AM
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Something to keep in mind with astral security is that astral backup can be deployed very quickly. So you can have just one ward (or awakened ivy, FAB, etc.) and when it goes down, astral security arrives on site in a few seconds. This mean you can have one astral security site for many different places, and dispatch the security where it's needed.
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thorya
post Jan 25 2013, 09:56 AM
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Note to Udoshi, Wards last for a number of weeks at which time you have to pay the mages at a 100 nuyen an hour per mage to come replenish them. If it's a large facility and you want a high force ward, you're probably looking at a couple thousand nuyen every few weeks to maintain the ward. Unless the magician(s) is willing to lay out karma to make it permanent, but that's going to raise the price substantially.

Magical security features I use in my games (I have posted these before)-

Useful at any level-
Awakened Detection Test- This utilizes a special set of flash cards along with a Deepweed smoke machine. A mundane will only be able to one set of words displayed on the cards, while an awakened character exposed to the Deepweed smoke will astrally perceive only be able to read the other set of words.

One way Bulletproof one way mirrors- Long rooms parallel to a hallways that passes through visual inspection booths and scanners. The guards are behind special polymer mirrors that allow them to see or fire into the hallway if necessary, but do not allow people in the hallway to see them (preventing spell casting and incurring a -6 blind fire penalty) and places an Armor 8, Structure 9 barrier between themselves and the opposition. Additionally, the barrier is one way, providing only 1 armor in the opposite direction. Thus, guards can fire back easily if they need to. Guards communicate with people in the hallway using a speaker system and the doors are locked from the inside. No line of sight for magicians and if you want, you can also ward the room to further prevent spirits from being problems.

Dual Natured Pepper Spray-
Vector- Contact, Inhalation
Speed- 1 combat turn
Penetration- 0
Power: 5
Effect: Nausea, Disorientation
Made from dual natured chili peppers this spray acts can be used as normal pepper spray from a spray can or else dispersed in a cloud acting as an irritant causing watery eyes, a burning sensation wherever it touches and difficulty breathing. It also creates a corresponding effect on the astral plane that can effect spirits and astral mages. Spirits avoid exposure whenever possible. The spray settles on surfaces after being sprayed and contact with those surfaces can cause symptoms many hours after the initial dosing.
DNPS was designed as an anti-spirit counter measure, but has found many other uses. It is now tightly controlled because the difficulties it can raise for astral pursuit and astral forensics.
Note: This is a dual natured substance that I made up and is not in the books.


Low-Medium Security Building Without other magical support or magical work in the Building-

Haven Lily Landscaping- It ensures a background count, and it can go up to 3. Knocking their casting rolls down by a few isn't a big deal, but lowering the maximum spell force by a few can be very helpful for mundanes onsite. It also makes spirits much more easily handled by drones and security. Not not compatible with many of the other options.

Deepweed Air Filters- Both a security measure and an employee loyalty program. These filters constantly run the buildings incoming air supply through a bed of awakened kelp, such that there is a constant low background dose of Deepweed in the air supply. A period of exposure of 10 minutes is required before the effects set-in. For most mundanes this just gives the building a feeling of a relaxing vibe and makes it seem more welcoming. For awakened characters, they begin to astrally perceive. A waiting period is required before being allowed into the highest security branches of the building and guards are trained to look for unannounced magical users suddenly acting strangely. It is also not uncommon to couple this with additional countermeasures once a mage is identified. The mage suffers the normal -2 modifier after being in these facilities for 10 minutes.
Employees in such a facility may suffer withdraw if away from work for long periods of time and are often not informed about their exposure.

Mindcontrol Detection Tags- Simple glomoss detectors that indicate that a spell has been cast or other magical event has occurred in the area of the individual. In our game, being aware that you might be mind controlled gives you another Will roll, (like on the alter memory spell), but even without this it's useful. The individual is asked to identify if there was magical activity and what is was. If they indicate trouble, astral security is called. If they cannot identify astral security is called. If they can identify or they indicate everything is okay, they must answer a number of questions that takes enough time for another Will roll to be made to resist mind control.

Magic Sensor and Locator- an array of glomoss patches is used with quick response light sensors to create a magic sensor. A miniature compact model can be used by drones to allow sensing of spirits and other astral figures as well as to detect sustained spells. A grid of these attached to a central computer system allows instant tracking and triangulation of a magic source or spell. (Note this assumes that glomoss responds with an intensity equal to the force and distance of the magic source)

Medium-High Security- where you will have other magical presence of your own. Note, you probably have friendlies that set off your the sensors listed above, making them no longer feasible or triggering a lot of false alarms.

Patrolling Spirits and Wards

Biofiber Walls and Awakened Ivy external coverings.

Conducting Fog barrier- A small mister creates a fog of highly conducting microdroplets. Visual and ultra-sonic analyzers are used to assess anything moving through the fog and an individual must be broadcasting a security code or have previously entered one at a terminal that disarms the fog for a brief period. Sensor ratings for these systems vary from 4-6 and they include a Spatial Recognizer and audio enchancers. Depending upon the lighting conditions, ambient noise, and quality of the system, these sensors have a bonus of +2-6 to detect invisible individuals or concealed creatures because of the fog interacting with the individuals in unusual ways. If a threat is identified in the fog, a current is passed through the fog delivering 12S electrical damage to anyone inside.

Holo Hallway- This is a hallway filled with Holo Projectors. They can be used to create a hall of mirrors type effect that conceals an exit or traps, create illusionary guards to confuse intruders, etc. Even if hologram objects are identified, they can still conceal important features of a hallway. Often part of orientation for new employees involves learning how to avoid possible dangers of Holo Hallways. An invisible mage or other intruder will have a lot of difficulty navigating this and it's run on a closed circuit, so a hacker can't disable it. A spirit will not see the holograms and can still navigate the hall easily, as can an astrally perceiving mage. Mana sensors are often located in the hall for this reason.

Magesight system- Note this can be used to provide not only spell support all over the facility, but it can also grant counterspelling to employees.

Dual Natured Bullets- These are bullets tipped with Biofiber so that they can effect effect dual natured beings (particularly spirits). The actual effect is up to you, since by the rules it would be like a spirit hitting with a mana barrier and forcing an opposed test, but most people seem to prefer just allowing the bullet to do normal damage. Note, the biofiber -2 DV +2 AP, against mundane targets. Storage of these bullets must be done carefully and they have a limited shelf-life.

Dual Natured Club- This is a metal pipe with holes cut in it, through which biofiber grows. The pipe contains soil and nutrient solution to keep the biofiber alive. Like the dual natured bullets, it's up to you how you handle this. With proper care, this club can be useful for years. It can also be fitted with electroshock frills to make it useful as a normal stun baton, in addition to being effective against spirits.
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Lionhearted
post Jan 25 2013, 03:30 PM
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You still can't read while astrally perceiving Thorya, anything that could have written information on it is just a shadow on the astral. Save yourself some money... Oh, if they pull the illiteracy card, make it symbols.
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thorya
post Jan 25 2013, 03:46 PM
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QUOTE (Lionhearted @ Jan 25 2013, 10:30 AM) *
You still can't read while astrally perceiving Thorya, anything that could have written information on it is just a shadow on the astral. Save yourself some money... Oh, if they pull the illiteracy card, make it symbols.


There are still astral pigments that you can read while astrally perceiving. Arsenal pg. 64. Sure you don't need to have anything written astrally, but if they have some sort of visual feed someone might give them the right answer anyway. I picture a series of flashcards with sentences written on them, that they have to respond to quickly, which will be much harder to fake. Illiteracy merits further investigation, as does not knowing the language.
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Lionhearted
post Jan 25 2013, 03:59 PM
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"Please leave your communication devices at the entrance of the control station"

Sure they might ignore that but if they don't check for wireless traffic they're already doing it wrong.
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_Pax._
post Jan 25 2013, 04:10 PM
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QUOTE (Shaidar @ Jan 25 2013, 03:24 AM) *
Looks like I really need to read up on Parazoology. Awakened Pigeons? How about dual natured parakeets trained to chirp and divebomb any astral presence other than their handlers/Security Mages.

Awakened Conier (?sp) ... trained to go into a threat/courtship display at the sight of any Astral Form, then kept in cages / etc with a camera and a microphone, monitored at a central security station.

Suckers have a cry that sounds like (and is as loud as) tearing sheet metal.
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thorya
post Jan 25 2013, 04:12 PM
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QUOTE (Lionhearted @ Jan 25 2013, 10:59 AM) *
"Please leave your communication devices at the entrance of the control station"

Sure they might ignore that but if they don't check for wireless traffic they're already doing it wrong.


It doesn't need to actually be a communication device like a commlink. A set of glasses with a scanning device to identify text and read it back into your ear, is entirely within the available tech in this SR, though there is a slight delay in this process. Like any other security measures, there is a way around it.
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Lionhearted
post Jan 25 2013, 04:39 PM
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and how would this be prevented in your example?
You start reading the astral text and your glasses start shouting the normal message, only thing you achieved is spending more money. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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thorya
post Jan 25 2013, 04:51 PM
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QUOTE (Lionhearted @ Jan 25 2013, 11:39 AM) *
and how would this be prevented in your example?
You start reading the astral text and your glasses start shouting the normal message, only thing you achieved is spending more money. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)


It wouldn't. That is why I said, like any security measure, there is a way around it. And your glasses wouldn't be shouting. They would be repeating it in your ear. Since your glasses already go to your ears. Your security would just have to be checking for the delay in reading or have sensors to pick up cheats.

The text in astral is to give something for the individual to read. It's a test to determine if someone is awakened. You also want to be able to rule out someone pretending to be awakened who isn't, since with no astral text they could just claim they can't read the cards.
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Lionhearted
post Jan 25 2013, 05:02 PM
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Or confiscate earbuds aswell (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)
With the first example, it wouldn't really work as a lot of people have a delay in reading or just read slowly, in the sixth world the degree of literacy is also way worse, because of spell checking, symbol language and vocalisation software.
Why would apprehending a fake mage be an issue?
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thorya
post Jan 25 2013, 05:11 PM
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Can you think of any legitimate reasons a person would fake being a mage while trying to enter your secure facility?

Also, I picture the test as a broader identification tool, not just used for security reasons, but for identifying potential assets before they're even necessarily aware that they're awakened.

I wasn't thinking of earbuds, but that's a fruitless discussion. Why not just say that security confiscates all of the contraband a person could possibly be holding? As well as always identifying fake I.D.? And seeing through every cover story and disguise. Security gets easier if you just assume that it always works. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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Lionhearted
post Jan 25 2013, 05:29 PM
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He still have options, most of them are implanted although and thus a mage would be reluctant to possess them.
Assuming that the player leaves his commlink and the peripherals in the dropbox isn't really that much of a stretch.

I can't think of a reason why anyone would pretend to be a mage, but the fact that he had knowledge of their security procedures is more then enough to "question" him when he turns out mage-negative.
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