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Full Version: Keeping your Hacker happy and the rest of the team awake...
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Upon suggestion, I've created a new thread to discuss how other GMs solve what I believe is a fundamental flaw of many matrix encounters. Basically, I've found that my groups hacker wants to hack something and the 18 seconds it takes in-game, bloats to about an hour in real-time, and unless someone else in the group has something to do in that 18 seconds, the rest of the table hops over to Rock Band until the one-on-one session is completed.

I've tried to minimize those occurrences at my table by getting a clear definition of the hacker's objective. I then try and crunch it down to a short series of tests or go with a single extended test. Its only worked so-so, and we end up falling back to an NPC to do more time-intensive tasks.

Another suggestion was to limit the amount of information that the hacker can get, basically requiring other team members to complete the other pieces. Thereby giving the hacker some time to shine, but not monopolizing an entire hour to find out that Jimmy likes to frequent the local Joygirl club...

So, what else is out there?
In SR3, I'd go back to MJLBB for the Fast Hacking rules. In SR4, the process is fairly streamlined and generally is done at the same time as legwork, at least it is in my games. YMMV
This is not a post. It is a hedge.
Does all your legwork take place at the same time and everyone at your table decide on that? At my table, the hacker goes on his own to figure some stuff out, the mage goes on his own to do some astral recon, the rigger might do a couple matrix searches or call a contact and then the gunbunny sits in his room oiling his rifle...

In the hour of real-time that has passed, the hacker has spent less than 20 seconds so now has a lot of time to catch up with the rest of the team...

I mean, if I have some matrix stuff planned during the run, its all smooth, because it works along side with the rest of the mission. But for out of the blue matrix stuff or even just can last a long time and rarely involves anyone else.
QUOTE (deek @ Jun 17 2008, 04:51 PM) *
I mean, if I have some matrix stuff planned during the run, its all smooth, because it works along side with the rest of the mission. But for out of the blue matrix stuff or even just can last a long time and rarely involves anyone else.

the obvious response to this is to consider preparing some 'random out of the blue' matrix runs.
I've always wanted to have a simple game for the Player to do, to simulate their Decking session...
...So they can play in parallel to what's going on.

I was under the impression that this longstanding problem for almost every single Cyberpunk RPG was gone in SR 4...
...But I'd go with having someone not involved for the moment GM that Player, for their 'Run, so all activity happens in parallel.
We play with Moon-Hawks rule. Logic+Skill with Program Rating limiting hits, software rating = Response. The player decides which programs are running all the time, his response based on that load plus the actually used program limits hits.

Now each roll can usually be reduced to Logic+Skill limited by response. All you need for a fast hacking session is a sequence of the necessary tests, and a grasp of the matrix combat rules.
QUOTE (Aaron @ Jun 17 2008, 10:49 PM) *
This is not a post. It is a hedge.

*This is not the hedge I am looking for*
To be honest this is just a standard "keeping players involved while specialists show off" issue, the same as when the infiltrator sneaks in, or the face does solo negotiations for legwork. Its a symptom of the type of characters that are generated in the game.

So do what you do you do in those cases? Personally, I boil them all down to a single roll. When it dramatic, hopefully you can keep it edge of the seat enough to entertain the other players.
Or let the players do stuff while the hacker is finding out about some thing/ caesing a node you can have the rest of the group fluffing it out having a bar chat ect. even award them the karma up to this point to let them do all the think for the downtime while mister hack is up to his stuff. Its up to you but really the group could even play in a different time ie before the hacker does his stuff. So the rest of the group is in the bar round town doing waht they want the night before the hacker picks up the action. the hack could even take part in this at the same time but then it will take 2 times as long. if the hacking important fluff it out make it fun for every one even one to one the party can be quite all right when not understanding an of the things going on they still have to plan for stuff any how and the hacker will add info to the plan.
Most hacking that goes on in my games doesn't take too long. The hacker buys hits on a data search or scan until he finds the target node, rolls some quick Hacking+Exploit while the node rolls Device Rating x 2 to detect until in, makes one or maybe two data searches to find what he's looking for, makes an Edit test or something like it, and jacks out. It works smoothly during the legwork phase as long as everyone knows what they're doing. Although, I'll be honest, I have yet to have a firefight going simultaneously with a matrix fight going smoothly with my group.
I'll pimp frank's rules for a moment. I find they are fantastic at this sort of stuff, because instead of the hacker dicking around with multiple dicerolls, you instead just thrown down

Who Is
Type: D Range: M Time: CA (P)
The Who Is protocols are an ancient and time honored method of finding the real world location of an LTG (which is like a phone number or email address). While somewhat time consuming, these techniques are quite powerful. If the number of hits on the Logic + Datasearch test equals the target's Matrix stealth test, the location of the target's transmitter will be found by the time the Who Is becomes permanent.

Go 'oh, the dude is at the peppermint rhino club' then everyone jumps in the car.
I think that you might have a lot of success simply limiting ... well ... the success of hacking. Remember that there's a limit to the amount of information that a hacker can find without exploiting a secure system of some kind. In other words, only a limited amount of information should be publicly available, but that information should lead toward other systems or, alternatively, physical locations to handle in other ways. That way, your hacker can be nothing more than another cog in the machine as the team works to complete a task.

Also, make exploitation non-trivial. Whether that means increasing the Firewall/Analyze ratings of systems or not providing access to secure systems from a public matrix node or, non-technically, reduce the amount of time available to hackers when they're doing legwork so probing the target isn't a viable option which allows your systems to have a greater chance of discovering the hacker. All of these will increase the costs involved in exploiting every random system a hacker comes across in the course of his or her daily work which, in turn, reduces the time the hacker uses up and provides more for the rest of the team to complete. Unfortunately, if the hacker exploits anyway and gets caught, the IC response could bog down the game in cybercombat, but that probably only happens once or twice before the hacker realizes that getting caught is bad news.

What if they're hacking AR and, thus, don't risk injury? Track their location and send in the hit squad. Even if the team moves on, the squad might get valuable information regarding their actions and whereabouts that they can use to find the team later. Nothing like real-world consequences to virtual actions to help a team change their tactics.

Finally, and this probably goes for the game in general, work to reduce the amount of rules you need to look up. Make a cheat sheet to use while running moments of hacking so that you can quickly determine the components of the dice pool that your hacker needs to use. Or, see if Aaron has already made one. If you can quickly determine what a character wants to do and what dice pool is necessary to do it, that can speed things up like you wouldn't believe.
In my group, the longest hacking run so far involved two matrix fights, and hacking through a secure system. 10 minutes(and one VERY hurting hacker) had a chance to get bored...this was, of course, in SR4. In SR3? This would have been when we went to get Pizza for the group.
If the face decides to check all his contacts or talk to people in bars for legwork, I won't play all the discussions, and might not even have him roll for each discussion, but once for the whole legwork scene. It's the same with the hacker: if he needs to hack the node of a Matrix Service Provider to get the home address linked to a commcode, I'll just have him roll an extended Logic+Hacking with a threshold equal to twice the overall rating of the node, with modifiers according to the access rights he'll need or other factors rather than play the whole scene.

During fights or other scenes, I use house-rules for "quick-hacking".
QUOTE (Ryu @ Jun 17 2008, 05:25 PM) *
We play with Moon-Hawks rule. Logic+Skill with Program Rating limiting hits, software rating = Response. The player decides which programs are running all the time, his response based on that load plus the actually used program limits hits.

Just for the sake of clarity, that should be read as, "We play with Moon-Hawk's rule, except Logic+Skill with Program Rating limiting hits....", not as, "We play with Moon-Hawk's rule, where in Logic+Skill with Program Rating limiting hits..."
Carry on. Sorry to slow things down. smile.gif
@Moon-Hawk: I´m sorry for any misconceptions.
QUOTE (Ryu @ Jun 18 2008, 02:49 PM) *
@Moon-Hawk: I´m sorry for any misconceptions.

No worries. Not an ego thing, just clarifying. smile.gif
We used to [in SR1 and early SR2] just run it along with everyone else, the same way you would astral travel: when it was your turn, you went, and everyone waited patiently. But since the decker was, for all intents and purposes, some other "place," and not in an analog of the location [as per astral space], people got bored rather quickly. The solution presented itself, and by the time VR2 came out, it was total: no one played deckers. So the group always had to hire an NPC decker, which often was a challenge unto itself.

The GM never outlawed deckers; people just hated playing them so much that no one did. Not an ideal solution, but it's worked for us. For, like, a decade. smile.gif
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