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GoblynByte
And this will be the third and final question in my investigation in updating to SR4 (thank you all for your valuable input in all three questions).

I've gamed in several sci-fi settings and I've learned one sacred truth in all of them...information is deadly. With computer and information technology following anything close to a realistic progression it doesn't take too long for the average citizen to be able to access pretty much anything they want to know. Heck, that even exists now, but at least now you have to be sitting in front of a computer. With the new technologies introduced in SR4 you have all the world's knowledge at your fingertips.

My question is, have any of you found this to be a difficult thing to cope with? Have players been able to abuse this to an annoying level? I've been able to control such abuse in other settings in many ways, but this sort of technology seeming to be central to the Shadowrun world it would seem cruel to take it away.

Also, there are only so many times you can say "you're in a net dead-zone," or "you're batteries die for no clear reason," of "you pull your computer out of your pocket to find you accidentally sat on it." After a while you have to let them play with the toys they paid for and this can often break the flow if keeping the information from them is vital. Any GM knows the pains of not thinking of something before the players do. You can always design the adventures around not allowing information to break the flow, but, again, the players are good at thinking of what you didn't.

But in the end, does it change the sessions much? Does it change the plots? When compared to SR3 (or earlier editions) does the "new matrix" and aspects of augmented reality change things that much? How has it effected your games?
FanGirl
It's been said before many times, but I'll say it again: easy access to information is a double-edged sword. Sure, the PCs can find out everything from where Mr. Johnson works to where he takes a dump, but Mr. Johnson can find out these same things about the PCs--if they're not careful.

Also, keep in mind that not all the information they can find is accurate. In fact, the "facts" they find might be outdated, erroneous, or even just grossly misleading.
GoblynByte
QUOTE (FanGirl)
It's been said before many times, but I'll say it again: easy access to information is a double-edged sword. Sure, the PCs can find out everything from where Mr. Johnson works to where he takes a dump, but Mr. Johnson can find out these same things about the PCs--if they're not careful.

Also, keep in mind that not all the information they can find is accurate. In fact, the "facts" they find might be outdated, erroneous, or even just grossly misleading.

But it would also go further than information access. What about remote access to vehicles and such. Does anybody feel that the wi-fi nature of the connections creates a lack of...well...connection? Is it too "safe" anymore? Not that the GM couldn't make it dangerous, but it seems that no matter how you spin it, you still end up with heroes essentially playing video games instead of driving the car. Is this an incorrect impression? Is that the way it plays out?
FanGirl
Yeah, but it also ends up with your enemies able to fake commands to your vehicle and forcing it to drive off a cliff or something. biggrin.gif

Besides, remember that the NPCs will also have the ability to "essentially play video games instead of driving the car." All this technology should not be viewed as an "advantage" for the PCs, because the enemy gets the same technological "advantage" that they do.
GoblynByte
QUOTE (FanGirl @ Jul 30 2006, 12:22 AM)
Yeah, but it also ends up with your enemies able to fake commands to your vehicle and forcing it to drive off a cliff or something. biggrin.gif

Besides, remember that the NPCs will also have the ability to "essentially play video games instead of driving the car."  All this technology should not be viewed as an "advantage" for the PCs, because the enemy gets the same technological "advantage" that they do.

I guess I'm more worried about the...well...connection to the situation more than the advantage or disadvantage. Not the mechanical or digital conneciton, but the personal connection. I think I'm worried about the removal of the character from the cockpit might remove the player from the moment. Does that make sense?

I don't know. This whole augmented reality and wi-fi thing seems like it would create a more sterile environment where its all about the technology over the character. I know that the balance between these two aspects is a central theme to the genre, but is this skirting too close to the edge and making characters too reliant on their gear?

Keep in mind I have yet to really even read SR4 so I could be completely wrong here. But I've had experience with high tech games in the past and have always come out of it wanting to find ways to restrict that technology for future campaigns. The "old" tech of earlier SR editions rode that line just enough to be used as a plot point and thematic tone. I suppose I'm worried that the "new" tech or SR4 will break that line. Yes? No? Maybe?
emo samurai
If they hot-sim the vehicle, then they suffer dumpshock if it crashes. If they AR the vehicle, they get owned by whoever hot-sims it. There is still great danger involved in rigging, especially if they want to get an extra edge. And remember, they can always trace the connection so they can sneak up on the rigger and plug him in the head.
FanGirl
Oh, I think I get it now - you want to inject some soul into the machine. Then my advice to you is to simply try extra-hard to encourage your players to roleplay.

EDIT: I like this article. I hope it helps. smile.gif
Samaels Ghost
Keeping a handle on information regarding traditional runs against corps tends to be pretty easy. Let your players roll their Data Search and find that the info they need on Corp X isn't exactly common knowledge or is worth money. Lead them to conversations regarding the info they need, people they have to talk to first, or simply a dead end. If it's really important then it probably needs to be kept secret. Players won't argue with that.

Sure info is available everywhere, but it isn't always in a neat encyclopedic summary. Force runners to take time and use Knowledge skills to decipher and use info that they gain. The Matirx may be ubiquitous, but that doesn't mean the info they need is easy to use and find. Different languages are a good way to slow runners down. The map they're using for building infiltration may be all in Chinese to ensure that Seattle street urchins and low-lofe runners aren't going to be able to make heads or tails of it. They may get some info from that map, but it should be more difficult.

The 'trix isn't a faceless world of screen names like the RL Internet is. With VR and AR sim feeds peoples' personas or avatars will likely make up a very similar environment to what you would see at a seedy runner bar. Maybe a little more weird and colorful. There are still "face-to-face" interactions and info-gathering should be handled that way often. The best way to keep info from runners is to put it in NPC heads instead of their hard drives. This goes along with FanGirl's suggestion and Blackjack's article. Your players should be encouraged to roleplay. Encourage or even force interactions with NPCs by making it vital that they do so. If you want personal connections, face-to-face info gathering should be a staple of your runs' legwork.

In direct response to your questions/concerns, everyday citizens can access a tremendous amount of information on the go, sure. But the type of info floating around the 'trix at any given time isn't always useful for runners. And info can be misleading or semi-correct, but I think that has already been said. Having things like Wikipedia and Google at your fingertips isn't as useful to a runner. Sensitive info wouldn't last long in public access nodes. And even if the characters do use their tech and AR to supplement their own knowledge, it will only go so far before they have to start paying NPCs for bits of info and expensive premium sites to translate data into something meaningful.

As for the specific ways SR4 handles thing info well... Info that is worth anything cost nuyen. Linguasofts and Knowsofts cost enough to put a dent in your pay for the run. Maps of secure areas just can't be bought. you'll have to risk your neck hacking into the security systems for those. useful info isn's as easy to get as you might imagine, so I wouldn't worry if I were you. My group has had more trouble with magic than tech. Watch your step there...

And haven't riggers been doing the same video game playing that you've described for quite some time now?
Edward
If they want information that is public domain then your going to have to give it to them, even if it is highly esoterically. But a lot of info they need will not be public domain. Hear is an example. They do a data search on the Johnson based on facial recognition soft wear. They find 3 leads. A photo in a resent newspaper with no name attached (he was in the background) but it tells you he went to a particular bar on a particular night. And 2 entries in school yearbooks for the same year (2 people look close enough to each other), tracking sins from the yearbook photos both disappear into megacorporat employment one after studying engineering at collage. thatís what a full trix data search gets you, You want more hack the corporate employ databases.

Looking for something illegal. The best you will get is who to contact.


As to maps being in unusual languages. It wont work linguesofts are cheep, unless they use an artificial corporate language. Then you would need to hack there system to get a soft for it.

Abbandon
Pro's:
-find mission critical info super fast
-finish mission quickly with said info
-be able to control things from your couch at home

Con's:
-being traced while looking up info
-leading bad guys back to your house or hq after you successfully pull off a mission
-getting things you are remote controlling taken over
-anti wi-fi paint making you go on site
-landlined information that cant be accessed via matrix.

Yes it makes everything easy but it also makes everything hard.
GoblynByte
QUOTE (Samaels Ghost)
And haven't riggers been doing the same video game playing that you've described for quite some time now?

Well, sure, I suppose, but at least they were still in the vehicle.

But I think Abbandon, I think, summed it up in one line better than I was able to do in an enitre post:

QUOTE (abbandon)
be able to control things from your couch at home


While it may be a gross over simplification of the actual truth of how the game world plays (as suggested by abbandon's counter points), I think it does speak of the basic perception I have of the new world. Am I wrong for thinking the game has simply become more "hands off?" Have you found that you have to work harder to get the players out of their fox holes and into the frey?

QUOTE (fangirl)
Oh, I think I get it now - you want to inject some soul into the machine


FanGirl, I you got it exactly. Have you found the soul has "left the machine?" I liked that article. Thanks for the link. smile.gif
Edward
[quote = GoblynByte]Well, sure, I suppose, but at least they were still in the vehicle.[/quote]

No they werenít. they where sitting in a control van 3 blocks away with the teem van 2 blocks in another direction and the drones doing all the work. To me it was somewhat unbelievable that teleportation did not allow greater range.

[quote= abandon] be able to control things from your couch at home[/quote]

in sr4 hackers can do all there work from anywhere.

In SR3 a decker could do all there work from anywhere and a rigger could do it from 2 or 3 blocks away. Unless the character was a combat decker this was frequently the best way to do things. Even offline databases could be accessed from offsite with a matrix cell link (or 3 for rigged buildings) and somebody that can plug it in it (moderate electronics skill) on the insertion team.

Under SR4 it is looks easier but hacking into a secure facility would require hacking passed dozens, maybe hundreds of nodes before finding the one that controls the doors. A competent security designer would make these things hard to find. Fi-wi paint makes it even harder. There is a way around of it with drones and specialist hardware (which must be designed and approved with the GM) and can be cut of buy smart security officers.

There is greater reason for a hacker to enter an enemy facility under SR4 than ether a strait decker or strait rigger in SR3.

GoblynByte
QUOTE (Edward)
There is greater reason for a hacker to enter an enemy facility under SR4 than ether a strait decker or strait rigger in SR3.

So the limitations really do seem to balance out the benefits in the end. Not to diminish all the people who said that before, but Edward just seemed to word it in a way my fickle brain could understand. biggrin.gif

And if it actually encourages a little more hands on 'running, and it sounds like it does, than all the better.

Excellent! Thanks all. I think I may go ahead and pick up a copy. We'll give it a whirl and see how it goes.
ShadowDragon
Information gathering is an intigral part of the game; it's called legwork. If you're worried about information being too easy to come by because of the matrix, just think of how the Internet works today. How much of it is accurate? Any 5 year old can publish crap on the Internet, do you really think it's all true? And as expansive as the Internet is, there are still things you can't find out with it (at least not without hacking something, which isn't easy).

Searching the matrix is also a skill that the PCs can screw up on (IE glitch). Data Search and a good browse program are not something most PCs take, so they'd have to default to logic -1. Most PCs would end up rolling 2 or 3 dice on an extended test, so there is a very high chance of glitching or critically glitching. Of course hackers can do this much easier, but that's their niche, so they should be able to do this.
kigmatzomat
The Net poses the same problem in cyber/future games that divination magic does in fantasy. GMs around the world tend to panic when a PC can get data from on high. But just like in fantasy, there are ways to deal with in.

1. Don't just plan on it, REQUIRE it. Maybe it's b/c I worked at libraries for years and then got into IT but anyone who gets out of their chair to ask a question that Google/Wikipedia/Ask/About answers in 5 seconds immediately goes in my "luddite" category. Same goes for games. If a party doesn't bother to do a data search to scope the general info, they will have a much rougher time. If they've got a decker who can write complex queries and do proper data mining they have a much better chance of figuring out what is really going on behind the scenes of a run.

2. People with Power take Precautions. Check a lot of companies' websites and you will find "proprietary" data sheets and financial filings that are easily downloaded but have a password; this crap has only limited risk and can be shared out to the world but the paranoia is too ingrained.
Stuff that is supposed to be kept truly private will have much more aggressive layers of protection. Paydata will never be found through Google, but Google can suggest where the paydata might be found.

3. Misinformation is not just a song. Expect corps to file "truthful" data that encourages data miners to make incorrect assumptions. One simple example is tech Company A puts in a patent request on a process they know is horribly expensive, yields low performance and was a dead-end. What Company A does NOT patent is their cheap, high yield process. This sends other companies R&D on a wild goose chase, draining their budgets
and keeping them on the wrong track.


4. Not all misinformation is intentional - AKA people make mistakes. While intentional obfuscation will cause the construction records on file with the government to lack key details, the internal company map is likely incorrect due to laziness or low priority. The company's office furniture supply company probably has the best map of the physical layout. (No lie. I've seen this happen at 3 firrms)
Every run make a 2-3 die test. If it botches, screw up some key piece of information. This reflects the surly, over-worked, dyslexic, color blind, hung over human being that screwed up the data.

Charon
QUOTE (GoblynByte @ Jul 29 2006, 11:21 PM)
I've gamed in several sci-fi settings and I've learned one sacred truth in all of them...information is deadly.  With computer and information technology following anything close to a realistic progression it doesn't take too long for the average citizen to be able to access pretty much anything they want to know.  Heck, that even exists now, but at least now you have to be sitting in front of a computer.  With the new technologies introduced in SR4 you have all the world's knowledge at your fingertips.

Some very good reply in this thread.

I just wonder, how is SR4 worse than SR3 in that regard?

The Wireless Matrix just makes it less tiresome to go find a jackpoint to initiate a matrix search. But aside from that, the amount of info available on the Matrix, especially info useful for a runner, is still pretty much the same.

So you deal with it the same way you managed to deal with it in SR3.

Beside, typically, the digital information crucial to a run is on a secure site. Either a node with tough security or a site that must first be accessed physically. So accessing this info isn't a way to circumvent the story. It is part of the story. Risks were taken, challenges were overcome, rewarding info is deserved. Even if it wasn't exactly how you envisioned the run going down, it's no big deal as long as it doesn't turn into a walk in the park.
AngelWuff
I'm amused that my technomancer is getting paranoid. team is turning off AR quite a lot, and at one point disconnected the autopilot completely after it was hit by a glitch attack (much grinning on my part).

I see my team having a LOT of fiberoptic cables suddenly... and so will competent enemies. oops, can't hack my smartgun, because it's direct connected (so I lose remote shooting...) probably see them getting direct link IR comm too at some point... I personally love the fasct that it's all out there.. mostly, it keeps the game going in that 'well, we got an hour drive to wherever, let's start doing that legwork to be prepared when we get there'
thejadedgm
Wireless is very nice, and has weaknesses that are exploited. My runner's tend not to use commlinks on runs at all (with the notable exception given to the hacker). They use radio, not that this is fool proof either.

Information is a resource. Much like money, having alot of it can make life easier, having none of it makes life difficult, and as a GM you have to manage the flow. I usually use the adage "give 'em enough rope to hang themselves with."
GoblynByte
QUOTE (Charon)
The Wireless Matrix just makes it less tiresome to go find a jackpoint to initiate a matrix search. But aside from that, the amount of info available on the Matrix, especially info useful for a runner, is still pretty much the same.

Actually, I see that as the crux of the situation. The easiest way to keep them from gaining access is to limit access to jackpoints. And once they gained access their physical bodies had to remain planted next to the jackpoint while they ran the hack. A dangerous and vulnerable position.

Of course a chase around a city block while trying to stay in trasnmission range might be rather fun as well. biggrin.gif
2bit
WRT availability of info, it hasn't really changed since SR3, except since there's this "everyone's connected' theme, it's on the players' minds more. Where before only the team decker might have thought about doing matrix data searches, even though anyone could, now it's more likely that any given team member will do it. That's been my experience so far. And yes, massive availability of info is a PITA. If a GM is good at making up random crap on the fly about any and every topic in the world, it really helps.
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