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ludomastro
I personally find the concept of and fluff about Technomancers fascinating; however, they live up to neither. The following is an attempt to understand and explain why that is. I will grant that the most egregious errors are well known and ask patience so that I can flush out the thought process. Comments are both expected and welcome. I only ask that you keep them in the dual realm of civil and constructive.

It is important to tell people what you are going to talk about; however, it is just as important to let people know what you are not going to talk about. I will NOT be covering the known issues with the Matrix such as Agent Smith, hackastacks, etc.


Thought 1: Inspiration for the Technomancer

The most obvious inspiration for the TM are our friends from 3rd Edition: the otaku. Mechanically they are obviously based on mages. Many have pointed out the thematic similarities and mechanical replication between the two. A few examples follow:
  1. Summoning/Binding/Banishing Spirits ~ Compiling/Registering/Decompiling Sprites
  2. Casting ~ Threading
  3. Initiation/Meta-magics ~ Submersion/Echos
  4. Mental Attributes correlating with “Physical? Astral Attributes ~ Mental Attributes correlating with “Matrix? Persona Attributes

Then we hit the brick wall of complex forms. If we continue our mage analogy they would be spells; however, they aren’t. They function similarly to 3rd Edition spells – purchased with a rating, etc. – but are used without drain. So, what are they?

We don't have to look far to see to what they should be compared. They function in a virtually identical manner to the programs that Hackers use. Mechanically, it can be argued, they are identical; however, RAW states that they are separate.

I think that we have a solid base for the TM.


Thought 2: Why a TM doesn’t work

This is obvious to several people – please bear with me while I wade through this. I find that if it is written down, I can organize my thoughts and everyone reading them can be on the same page – doesn’t mean they are, it just increases the likelihood.

Why is the TM broken? In a word cost. The cost of a rating 5 hacking program is 5000 nuyen = 1BP. A TM has to spend 5 BP for the same complex form. I don’t think further examples are needed with respect to cost of complex forms.

The second cost is that of the living persona. Let’s look at an off the shelf Commlink and OS – a Fairlight Caliban running Novatech Navi will run you 9500 nuyen ~ 2 BP. Our friendly TM uses his mental attributes for his living persona. To get the same ratings (for a human) will cost:
  • Response 4 = Intuition 4 – 30 BP
  • Signal 5 = Resonance/2 – Can’t be done a chargen. We’ll settle for 3 (5/2, round up) – 40 BP + 5 BP (Technomancer Quality)
  • Firewall 3 = Willpower 3 – 20 BP
  • System 4 = Logic 4 – 30 BP

Total BP cost = 125 BP (80 BP attributes / 45 BP special) and we have yet to purchase physical attributes or Charisma; which incidentally serves as the Biofeedback filter.

Some will say, “Hold on! You have to buy your attributes anyway.? True; however, I am severely limited in physical attributes due to the number of BP I am spending on complex forms.


Thought 3: How do we fix it?

This is always the point at which disagreement sets in as we don’t all agree on how the Matrix does (or should work). Therefore, I will lay out my proposed fix as well as my thought process. Feel free to comment on it and/or make better suggestions.

First off, I propose that complex forms be purchased in CFP (complex form points) where 1 BP = 5 CFP. This allows the TM to spend a similar amount of BP on complex forms as the Hacker does on programs. I think that leaving the starting limit of Resonance x 2 complex forms of a rating no higher than Resonance should stay. However, YMMV. I still need some help figuring out the cost post chargen.

Second, … frankly, I am at a loss for how to fix this. Any help is appreciated.


Thanks for taking the time to read this.

- Alex

Looking forward to when Technomancers don’t suck.
hobgoblin
i would say that yes programs and complex forms are the same, when it comes to how they interact with the traffic flow of the matrix. but when it comes to the other end, they are completely different...
FrankTrollman
QUOTE
Why is the TM broken? In a word cost. The cost of a rating 5 hacking program is 5000 nuyen = 1BP. A TM has to spend 5 BP for the same complex form. I don’t think further examples are needed with respect to cost of complex forms.


Oh but they are. Remember that a Rating 5 Common Use Program costs 500¥, which is a tenth of a BP. Also recall the opportunity cost which is that a TM can only purchase a fraction of the available CFs at Chargen, while a Hacker can and will purchase all programs (and usually at Rating 6 because they can and they don't want to upgrade everything when they upgrade to a Response 6 computer).

And of course, we shouldn't forget that the cost of Technomancers goes up after chargen, because Complex Forms are the worst Karma to BP exchange in the entire game. That 5 BP you're spending to start with a CF is stiff, but once your character is in play it shoots up to 16 Karma. A Karma/BP efficiency rate of less than a third.

How many people are lining up to trade their Karma in for 312¥ a pop? How many are looking to trade it in for thirty one¥ (to get a Common Use program equivalent)?

-Frank
hobgoblin
frank, take your meds silly.gif
Seven-7
Saying his numbers are wrong?
Konsaki
QUOTE (Seven-7)
Saying his numbers are wrong?

No, his numbers are usually right. It's just someone started him on the 'Matrix is wrong' rant, again. Not that I blame him, I too think the matrix section of the book should be rewritten and lobbied for such around 8 months ago. The answer I got back was 'No'.
So it's up to each GM to rebuild the matrix from scratch or apply houserules to fix all the holes themselves.
Cardul
I fully expect ALOT of things to be helped with Unwired. Also I do not think Technomancers are Broken. If they WERE broken, they would out do a hacker. In fact, I think they are kind of balanced.

Think like this: They cannot be hacked by another hacker, like a Commlink can. Sure, they lose in that they still need a commlink to store things, but..they do not need a Commlink. They can go into a place as just a wage slave and hack it for you, and, places that try to detect commlinks won't see them.

Admittedly, their strength mostly comes from story reasons..but..remember, when we first saw Adepts, in previous editions, it was not until the Grimoire/MitS that they came into their own. Mages and Adepts were made more powerful once street magic came out,and I expect we will see something similar with Unwired for Technomancers.
Konsaki
QUOTE (Cardul)
I fully expect ALOT of things to be helped with Unwired. Also I do not think Technomancers are Broken. If they WERE broken, they would out do a hacker. In fact, I think they are kind of balanced.


By that logic, hackers are broken and need nerfed to a point where TM's can compete at a reasonable level.

QUOTE
Think like this: They cannot be hacked by another hacker, like a Commlink can.
True
QUOTE
Sure, they lose in that they still need a commlink to store things, but..they do not need a Commlink.
true again.
QUOTE
They can go into a place as just a wage slave and hack it for you, and, places that try to detect commlinks won't see them.
False, their brain still acts like a commlink and outputs commlink like 'signals'. Therefor they can be detected unless they turn off their 'comm-brain'.
hobgoblin
QUOTE (Konsaki)
QUOTE (Seven-7 @ Jan 15 2008, 07:44 PM)
Saying his numbers are wrong?

No, his numbers are usually right. It's just someone started him on the 'Matrix is wrong' rant, again. Not that I blame him, I too think the matrix section of the book should be rewritten and lobbied for such around 8 months ago. The answer I got back was 'No'.
So it's up to each GM to rebuild the matrix from scratch or apply houserules to fix all the holes themselves.

and its a rant he have been repeating from the day that sr4 got the first print. so at this point one would expect people to have gotten the message.

also, it was declared that the writers of sr4 would not contradict main book rules in later add-on's.
Nightwalker450
QUOTE ("Alex")
I think that leaving the starting limit of Logic x 2 complex forms of a rating no higher than Resonance should stay.

Fixed this.. Logic x 2, not resonance.

I'm playing a technomancer currently, and I'm rather pleased with it. The BP for complex forms is high, but in its defense. A hacker can't pull a rating 10 or 12 program out where they originally had nothing. But my GM allows rethreading threaded programs at a free action per threading (Max 3 per pass). This was my groups first real Matrix Specialist so we've all been learning. Last time I GM'd (slightly different group) there was a hacker.

I felt sorry for him, as he's juggling loading and unloading programs so that the response on his commlink allows his programs to function at their max. A hacker can own every program at rating 6, but a technomancer can have every program they "own" running. And those they don't own they can create at the speed of thought. Not to mention if they're in the same node competing, as the hacker loads up more programs/agents/IC into the node the system lags and they become less effective. The technomancer grins and continues swinging around his rating 10 attack program, behind his rating 10 armor program.

Granted different interpretations of rules or the hackastack and such are ways for hackers to cope, but as Alex requested please nobody derail us with those.
Pendaric
Though not related to crunch discussion, for which I make no apology. The fluff side of things and a TM's abilities seems to be inspired by Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive.
FrankTrollman
QUOTE (hobgoblin)
[QUOTE=Konsaki,Jan 15 2008, 12:19 PM]
and its a rant he have been repeating from the day that sr4 got the first print. so at this point one would expect people to have gotten the message.

also, it was declared that the writers of sr4 would not contradict main book rules in later add-on's.

Not really. I gave the Matrix a good honest try. I didn't start my crusade until October of 2006, over a year after the game had been printed.

QUOTE (Me @ in 2005)
I'm assuming that you intend to play this character for a long time.

As per the standard rules, a Troll is nearly as good a Hacker with a Logic of 1 as he is with a Logic of 4, so don't sweat the Logic. On the other hand, buying up your body later is very expensive, while buying it up at chargen is very cheap. You should have a body of 9 even if you are a hacker. It's only 40 points, and in the long run will save you 90 Karma. Since many things can be purchased later on for Karma = Build Points, you'll want to do that instead. That means that you'll begin play with no Specializations at all, and buy them at about 2 per game session from now on until you have one for every skill you have.

So you'll start with Electronics and Cracking of 4. You'll take Perception or Gunnery of 6. Fight primarily with Drones, as Wasabi noted. This can get really ugly if you have a good Gunnery Skill.

None of your starting attributes need to be that good, except Body of course. But your Programs do. You can't have a Commlink with more than Response 5 at character start, which means that none of your initial programs can be better than 5. So your programs will be five. This means that on chargen you'll be rolling 11 dice on matrix actions (5 program 4 Hacking, 2 Hot Stim). That's decent enough, and after just one adventure you'll have +2 dice on your favorite Hacking and Electronic Warfare tests.

-Frank


QUOTE (Me @ in 2006)
Technomancers, as printed, never stop being weak. Ever. The dicepool of the standard "Hacker Adept" will with relatively little Karma and money cap out under the basic game rules at 15 for hacking tests. (That's Skill 6, Improved Ability +3, and a Response 6 Commlink). That's as high as the Hacker Adept can ever get without resorting to improved systems from Unwired which has not been published.

Now the Technomancer is uncapped. Using only the basic rules, her dice pool can go as high as you want to think about. There is literally nothing in the Matrix that could stop a high-end Technomancer (even Sprites ae capped at Rating 8 because higher ratings don't persist long enough to be registered). But wait a minute, how much Karma are we talking? Well... a lot.

A character starts with probably at most 12 Complex Forms. To hack properly you need 18. To match the dicepool of our Hacker Adept we need to raise them all to Rating 9. To do that we need to Submerge ourself three times (42 Karma), actually upgrade Resonance 3 times (72 Karma), and purchase 12 programs from 6 to 9 (288 Karma) and 6 more programs from 0 to 9 (276 Karma). And thats in addition to buying the skill groups up to 6 from 4 like the Hacker Adept has to do (110 Karma). And while we've matched the dicepools, our matrix attributes still blow until we purchase all remaining mental stats up to 6 (probably about 132 Karma).

So yeeah, a Hacker Adept can max out all her Hacking by maximizing two skill groups (110 Karma), upgrading her Commlink (11,000 nuyen.gif), and buying up two points of Magic (21 Karma).

So for a mere 920 Karma a Technomancer who does nothing else in her entire life can match what the Hacker Adept can do on less than 150 Karma and a month's rent. After that, the sky is the fucking limit, the Technomancer is completely uncapped.

But you know what? Who gives a fuck? I have never ever seen a game where the players made 1,000 Karma before it was over, so the Technomancer is always going to be playing second fiddle to the Hacker Adept at the only thing she does - Hack. It's sad.
Momijizukamori
QUOTE (Nightwalker450)
I'm playing a technomancer currently, and I'm rather pleased with it. The BP for complex forms is high, but in its defense. A hacker can't pull a rating 10 or 12 program out where they originally had nothing. But my GM allows rethreading threaded programs at a free action per threading (Max 3 per pass). This was my groups first real Matrix Specialist so we've all been learning. Last time I GM'd (slightly different group) there was a hacker.

That was one of the points I was going to make, too. We've got threading as a non-action, with three tries for each go at it in the interest of not having me sitting there rolling dice and swearing all night (my d6s love 4s).

The other thing that makes up for the brutal BP cost for CFs is sprites - they can make up for the lower CF and skill ratings early on, and some of the sprite powers are pretty awesome - suppression comes to mind, as it basically allows you to brute force a system, whip through (rating 4 sprite -> two rounds of suppression -> six IP, which is a pretty decent window in SR), do what you want, and then get out again before the alarms go off.
Nightwalker450
Technomancer at build
Res 5, Complex Form 5
Two Free Actions to thread to 10 (Easy to resist 2 and 3 Fading)
10 Complex Form + 4 Hacking + 2 VR
I'm rolling 16 dice pool on a simple action left this turn

Hacker at build
Program 5
Complex Action to load program
Next Pass
Program 5 + 4 Hacking + 2 VR
11 Dice the turn after the technomancer as already started

Yeah they're BP/Karma heavy but weaker than a hacker not quite, its comparing adepts and cyber. They have a different way of going about their job but I don't think they're at a disadvantage. Hackers advantage is its easier for them to hack as a hobby, Technomancer is a technomancer.

Here's what I'm doing with mine (I'm kinda waiting for Unwired before worrying about submersion..) I've picked up mechanic skills, and maglock interfaces so I can help on the repair and breaking and entering, by putting Machine Sprites in to run Diagnostics on the systems. Also will pick up automatics skill, with a suppressive fire specialization. Low points for good assist hopefully.
Momijizukamori
QUOTE (Nightwalker450)
Technomancer at build
Res 5, Complex Form 5
Two Free Actions to thread to 10 (Easy to resist 2 and 3 Fading)
10 Complex Form + 4 Hacking + 2 VR
I'm rolling 16 dice pool on a simple action left this turn

Hacker at build
Program 5
Complex Action to load program
Next Pass
Program 5 + 4 Hacking + 2 VR
11 Dice the turn after the technomancer as already started

See, this relies somewhat on interpretation though (which about sums up my problems with the Matrix rules - they're not broken, just poorly worded) - it's never specified if threading attempts are cumulative - you're treating it as 'yes', we're treating it as 'no'. So with my dice, I'm usually looking at 2-3 extra dice from threading, with three totally free tries a pass to get that (which sometimes gives room for better rolls) - each try is basically a new start. With your build this comes comes to a 13-14 pool, and with my less efficient build, 10-11 on most hacking rolls - on par with your hypothetical hacker. I fall on the side of saying that technomancers are less powerful than mundane hackers at start-up - unless you're very lucky, relying on threading doesn't give the best results, and the high BP cost forces you do thread or compile sprites. But they have a lot more room for growth once you survive long enough to get some karma in them. And I'm hoping for some cool new stuff in Unwired, too (particularly more submersion Echoes).

(This discussion > physical chem)
Fortune
In my opinion, the rules need to be changed so that Threading actually takes some kind of Action to accomplish. I really dislike the fact that it doesn't even use a Free Action at the moment.
Nightwalker450
Our group rules it as a free action, and allows the rethreading. So I can thread a program slowly, it just takes time. Allows for a technomancer to thread a rating 6-9 program (at 2-3 hits per free action), in the time a hacker has to load his program. If I'm in a time limit situation, I've interspersed my threads on extended test. Thread - Hack, Rethread - Hack, Rethread - Hack... So my program is good towards the end, whereas at the beginning I'm just compensating for my threaded stealth program.

So our interpretation on the thread/rethread (since it isn't explicitely stated one way or the other). And a house rule to turn threading into a free action instead of a non-action. Works for us, might not for you.

So what about technomancers as riggers, continuting the thesis on technomancers. Not just using sprites (we know the sprites do well) but doing so themselves? What do people think?
Jack Kain
One thing I think would help Technos is if they can have ALL there complex forms at the ready. A hacker can only keep a limited number of programs loaded at a time with out suffering from problems.
From what i've been told (and I could be wrong). Technomancers have a similar set up they can only have x many complex forms "loaded" at a time. It could give early techomancers a boost if they have access to all there complex forms they know at a given moment.

I'd like to see some technomancer rigger builds. As they require no comlink and with the addition of sprites it wouldn't take much for a technomancer to be built as a rigger instead of a hacker. (and drones would actually be something to sink your cash into).
Moon-Hawk
QUOTE (Jack Kain)
From what i've been told (and I could be wrong). Technomancers have a similar set up they can only have x many complex forms "loaded" at a time. It could give early techomancers a boost if they have access to all there complex forms they know at a given moment.

You were told wrong. It works exactly as you're suggesting.
Hank
QUOTE (Alex)
I still need some help figuring out the cost post chargen.

Second, … frankly, I am at a loss for how to fix this.

Maybe you can just put CF on a linear improvement scale instead of an incrementing one, or put it on a semi-incrementing scale.

e.g. Improving a CF by 1 point costs 1 Karma up to level 6. Beyond that, charge 2 Karma per point. Or some other simple variant.
hobgoblin
QUOTE (FrankTrollman @ Jan 15 2008, 06:39 PM)
QUOTE (hobgoblin @ Jan 15 2008, 10:09 AM)
and its a rant he have been repeating from the day that sr4 got the first print. so at this point one would expect people to have gotten the message.

also, it was declared that the writers of sr4 would not contradict main book rules in later add-on's.

Not really. I gave the Matrix a good honest try. I didn't start my crusade until October of 2006, over a year after the game had been printed.

well a honest oops from my side. have the SR4 really been around that long?

ugh, i need to get my sense of time adjusted, when it gets past about a month its all a jumble frown.gif

hmm, now that i think about it, it could be that im getting your ranting mixed up with mbf's (or whatever said nick was) ranting...

or it could be that im generally tired of reading rant posts and threads mostly based on them every time i visit this forum...
FrankTrollman
QUOTE (hobgoblin)
well a honest oops from my side. have the SR4 really been around that long?


Yes it has. Setting the wayback machine to late two thousand and six for the moment, we'll see that I was at the time sort of working for FanPro. I say sort of because there was a work stoppage secondary to various management arguments that I wasn't privy to and wouldn't tell you about them if I was. Street Magic had been published and had gotten generally good reviews, and Augmentation drafts were in, but unedited. At the time my work was in one chapter (final draft put it in three).

And the writers, left adrift and unsure of the direction things were going were turning their eyes to Unwired. We had long discussions about how the Matrix worked, how it should work, how it didn't work, and so on and so forth. I mean seriously, what else was there to do at that point? Serbitar, AncientHistory, and myself just sending long emails back and forth complaining about each other's ideas.

And I had an epiphany: on close examination it didn't work. What we were dealing with was a case of balance by obfuscation. That the rules were unclear enough that you could make any particular thing work by ruling on one of the grey areas in one way or another. But solving any particular problem in that way actually created more problems down the line. No matter how many faces of the rubix cube you made mono color there was always at least one that was jumbled.

And that meant that you could keep it going in an individual campaign. All you had to do was have the game master stay ahead of the players and use the grey areas to rule against any specific problems that came up. In a game of limited scope it could work. It did work for a lot of games. For a while. But if you clarified things, they stopped working. The act of telling people how things actually worked made some problems go away but made other problems explicit.

That took a lot of thinking, a lot of analyzing, and a lot of soul searching. This isn't an example of someone who had their own pet ideas on how things had to work and through a temper tantrum. I throw temper tantrums for entirel different reasons. No, this is a case of me honestly having exhaustively tested the system until it broke and then determined that the Matrix subsystem is and always will be broken. I presented my findings, FanPro (now Catalyst) said that they were holding to their explicit design goals of not contradicting core material, and I walked.

I actually find the concept of not contradicting rules to be quite admirable. I was a huge proponent of it in Street Magic, and was in favor of it in everything in Augmentation except Cyberlimbs (after long, long arguments on the subject we compromised and made alternate "advanced" cyberlimbs that were independently useful - but the ones in the core book still blow). But I genuinely do not believe that it is a good plan in the case of the Matrix chapter. The flaws are... pernicious.

-Frank
Earlydawn
So we're clear, what are the widely accepted issues with 4th edition Matrix rules, and for reference, Frank, which edition's rules did you think were best?
Nightwalker450
Am reading through matrix again, always looking for anything I might have missed. So far nothing... But on the complex forms I got to thinking.

Another way to house rule around the threading:

Threading requires no action, and you cannot rethread. Simple choose the rating for the new form, or the bonus on an existing form and resist that amount of drain. This makes the software skill pointless, unless you wanted to rule a limit as to what you could add/create based on software.

Otherwise since you don't have to take all the hits or even any of the hits, you could just keep tossing rolls until you get the hits you want for the rating. This is very pointless rolling, and is rolling dice just to roll dice. This makes it slightly closer to mages having to choose the force of their spell beforehand, they don't have to roll before casting to see if they are capable of casting their force 4 spell. I still prefer my groups slow threading, since mages don't usually have to resist 5 or 6 drain on a regular basis (unless overcasting), which is what a technomancer would be doing to keep up with a hacker.
ludomastro
I would like to thank everyone for keeping this civil and positive. smile.gif

I too am waiting for Unwired; however, I am still scratching my head about how anything will be fixed without touching the basic rules. I can understand why the devs refuse to "fix" the Matrix, since they designed it. Personally, I would love for one of the devs to show me how to play a TM and not feel cheated compared to a similarly designed Hacker.

A second thought originated while I was at work today: The downside of a Technomancer is not just the cost of complex forms but also the cost of Resonance.

Assuming we:
  • use my proposed fix (1 BP = 5 CFP)
  • ignore Frank's very correct math on the cost general use programs (no offense Frank, I just don't have a good counter argument for your logic)
I am still paying 45 BP to play a different style Hacker. Why?

I understand the argument that TMs have advantages; however, these advantages don't add up to a distinct mechanical advantage for the BP cost. (Please note, I have always read the rules to only allow threading once.)

Let's keep the discussion going. biggrin.gif



Crusher Bob
QUOTE (Earlydawn)
So we're clear, what are the widely accepted issues with 4th edition Matrix rules, and for reference, Frank, which edition's rules did you think were best?

You can try this thread for some distilled criticisms of the current matrix system.
Eyeless Blond
Huh, and here I was under the impression that no Technomancer actually ever used his living persona for anything, as commlinks with complete program loadouts were so cheap. I thought the point of a techno was to power sprites; the whole living persona thing is just a free add-on if you ever get caught without a real commlink to work with.
bishop186
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)
Huh, and here I was under the impression that no Technomancer actually ever used his living persona for anything, as commlinks with complete program loadouts were so cheap. I thought the point of a techno was to power sprites; the whole living persona thing is just a free add-on if you ever get caught without a real commlink to work with.

I honestly hope you're being facetious, otherwise you've completely missed the fluff of the Techno.
Cardul
I built a Technomancer that I found rather effective. I had they key programs as Complex Forms(Exploit, Attack, Armour, Sleeze, Stealth), and I had a commlink with the Decrypt, Edit, Encrypt. I would Thread Search, and any other of the lower use programs when needed. If you have a TM with a Living Persona against a hacker of a similar rating persona, well, think about this: The Hacker has to have EVERY program with them, or take a complex action to shut down, and then another complex actin to upload a program. a Technomancer can get a ttally new program FREE through Threading, and then hit the Hacker(or ICE) with it. That is before you throw in Echoes and Sprites.
FrankTrollman
QUOTE (Earlydawn)
So we're clear, what are the widely accepted issues with 4th edition Matrix rules, and for reference, Frank, which edition's rules did you think were best?

"Best" is a strange concept. I would say that the 1st edition rules after virtual realities probably did what they said they were doing best. The rules which came after were filled with hidden subsystems that destabilized their supposed set up. I think the SR3 Matrix was the worst, in that it was horribly complicated and destabilized by unseen forces.

And yet while the SR1 Matrix did what it said it was doing, what it did was not good for the game as a whole. People sitting around in dark rooms with hundreds of thousands of ¥¥¥ worth of computer equipment going on elaborate Neuromancer style psycho-quests that took real hours to resolve in many cases while the rest of the team either sat back and listened or wandered off was not cool.

What was supposed to happen was the hacker would simultaneously dungeon crawl through the Matrix while the team ran through the physical complex. I have seen that done precisely once in the last 18 years. People actually did the MAtrix stuff separately, and seriously in most cases just hand waved it as the Decker was either a character who did something else and periodically rolled his Computer skill to ad hoc something or the entire team just had a Decker contact who did other stuff for them.

----

What people regard as issues with the Matrix depends upon what they are looking for. The "Script Kiddie" phenomenon is a well described issue, and some people seriously don't care. But it does mean that the "Matrix Specialist" isn't a real character archetype, in stark defiance of what the book tells you.

That being said, here are the buzzwords people throw around:
  • Agent Smith This is shorthand for the idea of using several Agents in lieue of an actual player character. It gets pretty obscene as by the book you can actually use hundreds or thousands of Agents on a task. Variously people have proposed house rules which limit this drastically. But of course, even two or three mid-range Agents are in almost all cases better than a real player character. Agents roll double rating on essentially all tasks, which is very competitive with anything a player character can hope to accomplish. And when you start throwing in another Agent, and another Agent it really doesn't take long to overwhelm anything a character could theoretically do.
    And remember that the Agent Armies are even more available to NEONet than they are to players.
  • Doctor Smith This is a short hand for referencing non-confrontational uses of agent smith armies. A gang of agents that si on nodes you control and continuously use Medic on you or cover your data trails behind you.
  • Drop Out This is short hand for simply denying access to hackers to your stuff. Some people have put in house rules to try to make this in some way undesirable, but by the book those incentives don't really exist. Black Hammer doesn't work if you don't have a DNI, and enemy hackers can't hack your stuff if you just don't accept login attempts.
    And while it is on some level not particularly problematic if the players never have to worry about being hacked, the whole Goose and Gander thing really hoses you once the corporate targets start pulling the same tricks with anything they think is important.
  • Hackastack This is short hand for simply having a lot of commlinks. Each comlink is entitled to a persona whether it's hooked to your brain or not. Each Persona can have agents, and each set of agents can own you in the face. Or you can just use them sequentially with the same programs and logins scanned to each one. Matrix damage becomes even more meaningless than it is with Doctor Smith running.
  • Script Kiddie This is short hand for using equipment instead of your character. Since you get to roll Skill + Program rather than attribute, and eventhe skill is replicable with the right equipment, you don't have to have any investiture of real BP or Karma to succeed at hacking.
    And while in abstract it might not seem bad for a specialty to cost money instead of Karma (certainly noone really cares that Magic costs almost all Karma and virtually no money), recall that corporations are in fact literally made of money. And indeed that players are perfectly capable of sharing these equipment items out amongst their team mates or even contacts. Since most of this is copyable software it is shockingly cheap to Agent Smith it up with hobos and commlinks.

And it's really hard to resolve these issues without exacerbating others. The core producers of the Agent Smith problem are actually the reason that IC works at all. Without Hackastacking Agents a target computer network can't defend itself without an on-duty security spider.

In 1st and 2nd edition they resolved that issue by just saying "IC exists only by Game master fiat, you can't have any of it, fuck off." And while that's draconian and non-sensical it does work at all.

-Frank
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (bishop186)
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond @ Jan 16 2008, 12:58 AM)
Huh, and here I was under the impression that no Technomancer actually ever used his living persona for anything, as commlinks with complete program loadouts were so cheap. I thought the point of a techno was to power sprites; the whole living persona thing is just a free add-on if you ever get caught without a real commlink to work with.

I honestly hope you're being facetious, otherwise you've completely missed the fluff of the Techno.

You do realize why it's called "fluff", right? biggrin.gif

As a rule, I generally tend to ignore fluff when the actual rules contradict it. If the rules tell me that Technos are generally incompetent as "organic" hackers, and their only real saving grace is their ridiculously powerful sprites, then, regardless of what the "fluff" says I'll have most Technos playing the summoner angle rather than the incompetent hacker angle.
FriendoftheDork
Hey guys, after reading Emergence and checking the rules I think I agree with Trollman's conclusions: Something must be done.

I can't see how you could be able to read threading as being cumulative, any more than you can cast a force 3 spell and then a force 2 spell and let it be one force 5 spell, resisting drain twice. Threading a complex form gives -2 penalty on all other actions, so if you do it more than once the penalties would accumulate.

Anyway, here's my idea: Instead of messing with Complex form cost why not try to follow the fluff that techno's can do intuitively what others need years of training and education to perform?

Remove all techno skills, and let techno's use Resonance+ linked Attribute. Hacking would be Exploit+Logic, etc. Skills are expensive in this game so why not save a few points there? I know our hacker has spent most of his BPs and karma on skills. This fits better IMO with normal peaople suffering from APES becoming good hackers overnight.

I would also consider using Resonance for Signal (instead of Res/2), otherwise it is just too easy to jam a techie, and always have the technie's signal harder to find and intercept than normal.

What do you think? Broken? A part om me wants it to be broken and reserved for NPCs only to make it more scary wink.gif
Fortune
That's interesting. I think it might be little too much, but it certainly bears considering.
Nightwalker450
The reason we go with rethreading is due to the fact that a technomancer has to roll to thread. A mage doesn't roll to figure up what force he's casting, a mage says "I cast a force 5 spell" and casts the spell. The technomancer on the other hand has to roll for each one. When you put the no action on it, this makes you wonder what the thoughts were to begin with?

"I can thread a program of up to Software + Resonance from scratch. But I need to roll the dice continuously until I actually get that rating, or the rating I'm looking for."

So one of 2 house rules need to be made:
Threading is a free action and rethreading is allowed. This way it takes time to thread, but all dice rolls are still present. If you are pressed you can do the single free action deadly threading. (Considering threading is fading equal to rating, whereas spells are usually force/2)

or

Threading takes no action, and you can thread a bonus or complex form up to your (Resonance or Software skill). Select a rating and resist fading accordingly.
Ryu
I´d prefer the second alternative for threading, less dice rolling is good. The limit should be software skill.

As for Resonance+attribute, I don´t like it. It would be way better to spend on TM quality+Resonance (even with some losses to augmentation), than to learn the skills/buy the gear etc. That is not balanced.

I think it would be better to roll Intuition+skill, and do away with the whole concept of programs for TMs. With the rather fucked up Wireless Rules, using the same mechanics for everyone is not as desireable as in other places. Going without complex forms reduces many of the TM problems + removes the necessity of always having max. resonance. Still not balanced, but better.
FriendoftheDork
True that mages chose their force, but remember that so do Techies if they by complex forms... which is similar to a mage being able to cast some spells without having to resist drain at all! I know, compared to a hacker they still suck but it means a techie doesen't HAVE to use threading all the time, and when he does he only really needs it for Stealth and perhaps exploit.

But I kinda like option 2 as well. Eliminating excessive rolls is good.

I still don't like the idea of techies having to use as much BPs on their mystically aquired skills (most having never been tought them) as hackers do on theirs.

Perhaps I'll make a 400BP techie with my house rule just to see if he got too many BPs to spare.
Ustio
Last night I convinced my GM that siince my comple forms cost the same as knowledge skills my learning stimulator [3] (reduces the cost of known kkbowledge and language skills by its rating) should also apply. He thought it seemed okay (as long as it was only for the karma and not the +3 dice I get to almost all knowledge skills from various upgrades)
Wasabi
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork)
I would also consider using Resonance for Signal (instead of Res/2), otherwise it is just too easy to jam a techie

Don't forget that ECCM is a program that can be a CF and be threaded, aided by a Registered Sprite, etc. With threaded/aided ECCM at 8-14 its more difficult to jam them. I'm not saying impossible but it takes a good (or multiples of a) jammer to do so.
Eyeless Blond
So, while you guys are busy making the Living Persona actually work, have you figured out how to depower Sprites so the Techno doesn't suddenly become *too* powerful on the Matrix?
Ryu
Signal=Resonance leads to rather powerful brainwaves, I´d not like that. Besides, jamming tech is not-that-effective anyway.

1) Carry a device with high signal to use as a relay station. Spice that up, see Wasabi.

2) If you are successfully jammed, find and take the jammer. Should be worth quite a bit of money.


Are sprites really a way to become too powerful? If anything, rules that enable a TM do get things done himself depower sprites in comparison.
FrankTrollman
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)
So, while you guys are busy making the Living Persona actually work, have you figured out how to depower Sprites so the Techno doesn't suddenly become *too* powerful on the Matrix?

Too powerful?

A pack of 6 Rating 6 Sprites is impressive, but it still loses to twelve rating 4 Agents. Let alone 28 rating 4 agents or 97 rating 4 agents. As long as Agent Smith is walking around it doesn't much matter what Sprites think they can do. Heck, Fault Sprites can't even fight because they roll negative 2 dice on MAtrix Perception and can't even find enemies if they are directly told where they are and what they look like.

The only thing Sprites can do that is of any actual worth is subbing in for the Pilot and some of the Autosofts on a Drone. Pop a Rating Sprite in and suddenly a Drone has a Pilot of 6 and a Targetting Soft of 6 - for 14 dice on your smartlinked doberman's machine gun. That's sweet, but it's not over the top in a world where actual characters are rolling 16-18 dice on heavy weapons tests using the same gun.

Sprites are nice. But they aren't game shatteringly nice. Nor would they ever be.

-Frank
FriendoftheDork
QUOTE (Wasabi)
QUOTE (FriendoftheDork @ Jan 17 2008, 03:44 AM)
I would also consider using Resonance for Signal (instead of Res/2), otherwise it is just too easy to jam a techie

Don't forget that ECCM is a program that can be a CF and be threaded, aided by a Registered Sprite, etc. With threaded/aided ECCM at 8-14 its more difficult to jam them. I'm not saying impossible but it takes a good (or multiples of a) jammer to do so.

ECCM is a good point. I think I'll keep signal the way it is. How you get program rating 14 is beyond me, unless you're talking about really experienced and submerged techies - I doubt they are very common yet.

Jamming ratings cap out at 10 don't they? Or was it 6?
FrankTrollman
QUOTE
Jamming ratings cap out at 10 don't they? Or was it 6?


Jamming is increased by hits on an Electronic Warfare test, so it is uncapped. Softcaps at about 8 for a starting character, 16 for an experienced character.

Starting characters can purchase drones with a Rating 4 Jammer that has an autosoft powered EW dicepool of 8. So Jamming of 7 is quite achievable for characters with no electronic know-how at all.

-Frank
Ryu
Complex Form + Threading(at Resonance) is a base 10 already. Then you can add a sprite service (IIRC) to get even more, which will be inconsequential due to the limit of jammer ratings (should be 10, again IIRC). So you can keep your base signal even in the face of jamming, nearly all of the time.
Jaid
QUOTE (FrankTrollman)
QUOTE
Jamming ratings cap out at 10 don't they? Or was it 6?


Jamming is increased by hits on an Electronic Warfare test, so it is uncapped. Softcaps at about 8 for a starting character, 16 for an experienced character.

have they errated that yet? it sure looks like it's *supposed* to add (there is a test mentioned, but no mention of what the test does, iirc).
Cheops
QUOTE (Eyeless Blond)
So, while you guys are busy making the Living Persona actually work, have you figured out how to depower Sprites so the Techno doesn't suddenly become *too* powerful on the Matrix?

Sprites are NOT too powerful. They are really good when they are working in tandem with the TM but can't do SQUAT when they are on their own. Most can't even sense the Matrix.

That being said Sprites operating alongside the TM are amazingly good. TMs don't need Decrypt and Defuse as a result.
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