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I'm new to Shadowrun, but I love it. I'm GMing a group of three players right now through the introductory "On the Run" adventure.

I've played SOME Shadowrun before. I love the game, and read some of the novels, it's just that I could never get people who wanted to play before.

ANYWAYS as a new Shadowrun GM, I need some help on the Matrix, and what is, and isn't possible.

One of the first early tasks in the "On the Run" adventure involves hacking a commlink. The Adventure insinuates that you basically have to sneak in and grab the commlink and escape with it, or at least get the team's hacker a few minutes with it to grab the email off of it.

Well, the team has no dedicated hacker.

The team used one of their Contacts, who was a hacker, and hired him to hack the commlink. They paid him, and then basically sat back and expected him to go to work. I told the team that the Contact couldn't just sit back from the comfort of his electronics store and hack into the commlink... they had to go get it and deliver it to him. THEN he'd be able to get the information from it.

Problem is I don't fully understand WHY you'd have to do it that way. If the Commlink is on the Matrix, wouldn't there be a way to find it, and hack into it remotely? If there is, how would you go about doing that?

I'm a beginner with Matrix rules, so a newbie-friendly explanation would be great. We have another person joining the group soon, and I think he's going to create a character with some hacking ability, so I want to be able to GM Matrix things well for them.

Best I can say is... think of it this way.

Find my computer on the Internet... now hack into it.

Yah it's out there... and yah it has an IP address... one of about 4 billion.

The matrix is well past IPv6... which means the odds of finding any particular cyberdeck on the matrix are slim and none.

I'd give the hacker a threshold of of say 400 or more to find a cyberdeck that is on the matrix that isn't nearby... With nothing to identify it other than "it's in some building" what's he going to search with?
Knassers example Matrix Sites for starters (this really helped bring perspective to the rules, without all the house rulings, which will show up here soon)

As to grabbing it off the matrix it should be possible, but there are multiple reasons it might not be.

The commlink doesn't have wireless, so you could only access it when its hooked up to a terminal.

He only turns it on when he needs to use it (I have a friend who does this with his cell phone sometimes, annoys the crap out of everyone).

You don't have the contact information of the commlink, just a photo or reference to the person doesn't give you his phone number. You'll have to track him down and get his contact information (Scan signals). Or like cryptoknight find the needle in the haystack extended threshold of (400, 1 day)

I could think of more, but here's a start
If you knew the Commlink's ID or Commcode, you could search for it, you could run a Track program to find where they are.
Someone skilled in Electronic Warfare could search for it's wireless signal.

You could get an Agent to constantly monitor the activity of that Commlink, and report back to you. Find a daily routine for the dude, and ambush them.

If it was a Contact hired to hack the commlink; they more then likely probed it, created themselves an account and could then track there whereabouts at which time would contact the runner team, " Hey, Joe Blow just ordered some junk from the Stuffer Shack, and is walking there now to pick it up. "

If there is just data that needs to be stolen from the Commlink, then you hack into it, search for the data, transfer the data to another location, and log out.

Now mind you, this is if you know what you are looking for.

If not, then you may need to find the person in the meat, and hope he logs onto the Matrix Wirelessly so you can intercept their wireless signal, and go that route.
If I remember On the Run correctly, the commlink was off during the time that the singer-ork-duder was on stage. That's why you had to sneak in to get it. If it were on, it could have been possible for the contact to hack it remotely assuming that he didn't have to hop through too many other nodes to get to it and he could, in the end, actually find it in the first place from within the plethora of nodes and signals that exist in Shadowrun.

Okay, cool. That kind of validates what I was thinking as well.

It's possible to do this, but just not feasible.

They could possibly find the Commlink on the Matrix and hack into it, if they had enough information on the Commlink itself, such as where it was located, what its "Address" was, etc.

However without that information it would basically take forever.

Thanks VERY much for linking to that example matrix PDF. This really helps me a lot!
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