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spacebug
My gaming group is about to begin a Shadowrun 4 campaign. None of us have played the fourth edition rules before.

My character will be the group's hacker, but both myself and the GM are finding the matrix rules a bit confusing (and we've decided to completely ignore Unwired for now). Is there any kind of beginners guide to hacking that we might find useful, preferably with some examples?
SleepIncarnate
It might be easier to ask us questions on where you're confused and we can explain it. What's the issue?
Squinky
There are some cheat sheets available on Aaron Paveo's Site:

http://pavao.org/shadowrun/cheatsheets/

Might help to see a practical example.
Draco18s
Don't. Hire an NPC hacker. The GM just makes a few rolls for "response threat level" until the NPC bugs out and you're on your own. Until then anything you need gets done.

Hacking in SR4 is akin to the grapple rules in D&D:
An absurdly complicated sub-game in which only one member at the table gets to participate in, sucking up valuable session time in which the result is:
Hacker wins.

If someone at the table wants to be a hacker, be a hardware hacker (maglock passkeys, lock picks, etc.) or hell, a troll with low logic. *FIST INTO SERVER* "This look like hard drive. I take. Analyze later."
Neraph
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 9 2010, 11:28 PM) *
Hacking in SR4 is akin to the grapple rules in D&D:
An absurdly complicated sub-game in which only one member at the table gets to participate in, sucking up valuable session time in which the result is:
Hacker wins.

Actually I just finished my session with my group. The hacker was traced and arrested. Super-incriminating info, his resonance prints all over the place. It's messy.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 10 2010, 12:38 AM) *
Actually I just finished my session with my group. The hacker was traced and arrested. Super-incriminating info, his resonance prints all over the place. It's messy.


Oh, bad results happen, yes. I'll grant you that. But the last time my group tried to pull something like that the GM delegated the sub-game to me where I was rolling the node against the player, while neither of us were involved in the various wetwork happening at the other end of the table (which, frankly, was more interesting than trying to look up rules, hide the fact that the node was tracing him--because he didn't detect it--retcon half the rolls because I missed a rule--turns out he did--and ending up at: Hacker Wins).
Johnny B. Good
QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 10 2010, 05:38 AM) *
Actually I just finished my session with my group. The hacker was traced and arrested. Super-incriminating info, his resonance prints all over the place. It's messy.


Given we run sort of a brown moehawk campaign and my GM isn't making us be too anal about cleaning up afterwards, there's still a couple precautions I usually take.

1. Take a walk in the park in a nice neighbourhood when you hack. Sit down on a nice park bench or something.
2. Subscribe to an anonymizer. What's this, you have to hack into a satellite owned by somebody in NAN and another in Hong-Kong to trace my techie? More paperwork than it's worth man (Unless there's a datasteal involved, but even then it's still a lot of trouble).
3. Delete yo' prints and wipe yourself from the access logs. You can do it yourself or have a sprite do it for you.
ShadowPavement
This is what I usually use. My wife plays our hacker, which she loves, but she's not a rules person. This level of rules seems to work the best for our style of play.

Matrix Basics
Ryu
The thread in my sig isnīt updated for SR4A, but maybe it helps.
OneTrikPony
QUOTE (Neraph @ Mar 10 2010, 01:38 AM) *
Actually I just finished my session with my group. The hacker was traced and arrested. Super-incriminating info, his resonance prints all over the place. It's messy.

How did he get traced? I thought that was basicly imposible to do if the hacker was runing a stealth program at any level above 3.
Malachi
I highly recommend Ryu's Introduction to the Matrix thread.

Also if you want an example of Matrix stuff used in the course of a run then check out the writeup for the first link in my signature. About post #15 is where the Matrix action happens, I believe.

I firmly believe that you are doing yourself an extreme disservice by ignoring Matrix stuff altogether. I think it is entirely possible to have a Matrix specialist in a group and not bog down the game. Simplify the rules to whatever works for you. I find the game extremely fun with a Matrix specialist.
kjones
QUOTE (OneTrikPony @ Mar 10 2010, 02:00 PM) *
How did he get traced? I thought that was basicly imposible to do if the hacker was runing a stealth program at any level above 3.


There's lots of ways this can happen. Consider a piece of IC or a security spider with a decent Analyze program. Or a firewall whose immediate threat response is not necessarily to trip an alarm, but rather notify one of the above.

Let's say I spot your hacker invading my system, but he doesn't know that I've noticed, and I'm not going to tip him off. I send in some IC running Analyze, Track, and Stealth. The IC finds the hacker with Analyze, and starts tracking him - the hacker doesn't notice because of the Stealth program.
Fatum
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 10 2010, 08:41 AM) *
Oh, bad results happen, yes. I'll grant you that. But the last time my group tried to pull something like that the GM delegated the sub-game to me where I was rolling the node against the player, while neither of us were involved in the various wetwork happening at the other end of the table (which, frankly, was more interesting than trying to look up rules, hide the fact that the node was tracing him--because he didn't detect it--retcon half the rolls because I missed a rule--turns out he did--and ending up at: Hacker Wins).


So what you are saying is "if you don't know the rules, hacking is boring". Sure it is.
Otherwise SR4E hacking is not that bad - it rarely takes more than a few dice rolls, and it's quite fun if you describe it right.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 9 2010, 10:41 PM) *
Oh, bad results happen, yes. I'll grant you that. But the last time my group tried to pull something like that the GM delegated the sub-game to me where I was rolling the node against the player, while neither of us were involved in the various wetwork happening at the other end of the table (which, frankly, was more interesting than trying to look up rules, hide the fact that the node was tracing him--because he didn't detect it--retcon half the rolls because I missed a rule--turns out he did--and ending up at: Hacker Wins).



Interesting... My experiences with the Hacking rules have been nothing but positive, even though my Hacker does not always win... Hmmm...

Keep the Faith
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (OneTrikPony @ Mar 10 2010, 12:00 PM) *
How did he get traced? I thought that was basicly imposible to do if the hacker was runing a stealth program at any level above 3.



Not true...

Keep the Faith
Brazilian_Shinobi
QUOTE (OneTrikPony @ Mar 10 2010, 04:00 PM) *
How did he get traced? I thought that was basicly imposible to do if the hacker was runing a stealth program at any level above 3.


It is quite easy to trace somebody, unless of course you start putting proxies between you and the tracer, but at this point your response is being severely reduced.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 10 2010, 07:17 PM) *
So what you are saying is "if you don't know the rules, hacking is boring". Sure it is.
Otherwise SR4E hacking is not that bad - it rarely takes more than a few dice rolls, and it's quite fun if you describe it right.


Emphasized for emphasis.

QUOTE (Brazilian_Shinobi @ Mar 10 2010, 10:45 PM) *
It is quite easy to trace somebody, unless of course you start putting proxies between you and the tracer, but at this point your response is being severely reduced.


proof.gif
AFAIK there are no response limitations for hacking from behind one or more nodes to hide your tracks.

QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Mar 10 2010, 07:43 PM) *
Interesting... My experiences with the Hacking rules have been nothing but positive, even though my Hacker does not always win... Hmmm...


So I've heard. Unfortunately the only fun I've ever seen from a "hacker" character was the one 3E game I played where I was more of a rigger. I did remarkably little on the matrix side and almost no hacking.

I also died to a space laser after defecting to Deus ("Stop shooting! I'll join you! I'll join you!" *1 box of physical left*).
OneTrikPony
I'm a little rusty but IIRC the stelth program's rating directly subtracts dice from the pool of the Spider or IC trying to track. Right?

So IC 3 running track(or is it trace?) 3 and analyze 3 (could run stealth 3 and needs to but that will lower the tracking persona's responce) The Tracking persona has a dice pool of 6. (If you make it a difficult node the pool will be 8 or 10.)

The intruding Hacker is allready running Stealth because he needs to run Stealth to hack the node. By default (unless it's a noob player who hasn't read the book) the Hacker is running Stealth 5.

This makes the track pool 1, 3 or 5. I don't recall the mechanid directly but I think the track test is an extended test (2x the target's Stealth) complex actions +1 for each redirect action the hacker performed before he entered the node. So minimum the tracking persona needs 10 hits.

For a rating 3 node that's 30 complex actions
for a rating 4 node thats 10 complex actions
for a rating 5 node thats 7 complex actions

Unless you're running over watch on a security system while your team sloggs around in the meat world and you don't have an agent to take care of the menial stuff, how often does a hacker hang out in a node for 10 complex actions?

I should also say that one of the funnest games I've played in the last couple years was just me and one character. A technomancer. That was about a year ago.
SpellBinder
The threshold for tracking a user is Computer+Track (10, Complex Action) extended test, while a running Stealth program acts as a negative dice pool modifier. A Redirect Trace is an opposed Hacking+Spoof vs. Computer+Track, and the net hits the redirect gets is added to the threshold. SR4a, pages 231-232. Unless the spider's a complete noob with poor software, he/she will be able to track someone who's running a Stealth 3 program.

Also, unless there was a technomancer spider that could examine the hacked node within a number of hours equal to the rating of the complex form that was used in the hack job, there is no Resonance trace to find. Resonance signatures can only be detected by resonance beings (SR4a, page 243). Even then it's a Matrix Perception (3) test just to notice the resonance signature, and may require a memory test to recognize it again. If a TM has the time, usually only two rounds at most, one can take a number of Complex Actions to erase a resonance trace equal to the number of hours it would otherwise last. The access ID of a TM is completely unreliable otherwise (Unwired, page 135; in short, TM's always and automatically spoof an access ID).

Oh, and on a run where I was playing a technomancer I did hang out in a node for more than 10 complex actions. Thing is, within those first three rounds I disarmed the Analyze program and deleted spider's accounts (late night job, and they weren't on). Hung around to remotely control automated forklifts to help the rest of the team loot a factory warehouse. Left my meat body at a coffin motel before hand on the off chance of a possible trace.
Cain
QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 10 2010, 04:17 PM) *
So what you are saying is "if you don't know the rules, hacking is boring". Sure it is.
Otherwise SR4E hacking is not that bad - it rarely takes more than a few dice rolls, and it's quite fun if you describe it right.

Even if you know the SR4.5 rules, decking is slow and involved. The decker goes off solo, while the other players go out for pizza. There are ways of mitigating this problem, but you still end up with a sub-game that leaves the other players out of it.
Fatum
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 11 2010, 07:55 AM) *
Emphasized for emphasis.
Unfortunately the only fun I've ever seen from a "hacker" character was the one 3E game I played where I was more of a rigger. I did remarkably little on the matrix side and almost no hacking.


Uh, descriptions are up to GM completely, and if he isn't too good at them, surely not only the Matrix part suffers.
And I believe the key word in your statement is "3E".

QUOTE (Cain @ Mar 11 2010, 10:02 AM) *
Even if you know the SR4.5 rules, decking is slow and involved. The decker goes off solo, while the other players go out for pizza. There are ways of mitigating this problem, but you still end up with a sub-game that leaves the other players out of it.


Funny enough, as I said, never had problems with that, despite both playing hackers a lot and GMing for groups that don't shy away from hacking. Sure, if you're not limiting the hacker to on-location hacks, he's the only one involved in the whole biz - but as I said, it's rarely much more than a dozen or so dice rolls.
Brazilian_Shinobi
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 11 2010, 01:55 AM) *
proof.gif
AFAIK there are no response limitations for hacking from behind one or more nodes to hide your tracks.


read.gif Ask and you shall receive:
QUOTE (Unwired, page 104)
A hacker can also route his connection through a proxy server as a means of hindering traces. This increases the threshold by +4 for Tracking Tests for each proxy server used. The drawback, however, is that each proxy server reduces the hacker’s Response by 1.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 11 2010, 05:16 AM) *
Uh, descriptions are up to GM completely, and if he isn't too good at them, surely not only the Matrix part suffers.
And I believe the key word in your statement is "3E".


Um. That was my good hacker experience. I had fun. I loved that character and that game. I haven't seen anyone have that kind of fun in 4E with the group I run with. The closest is our current sniper who uses drones for a tac net (and a guard dog).

QUOTE
Funny enough, as I said, never had problems with that, despite both playing hackers a lot and GMing for groups that don't shy away from hacking. Sure, if you're not limiting the hacker to on-location hacks, he's the only one involved in the whole biz - but as I said, it's rarely much more than a dozen or so dice rolls.


A dozen dice rolls with choices and decisions being made, some descriptive text....yeah. Like a half-hour unless there's cybercombat. Now you have a combat scenario where only one person is engaged and the dice fly back and forth (only there's no tactics because its the fucking matrix and having cool attack programs, dodging, cover, yadda yadda don't exist). By the time you're done the rest of your players left to get pizza.

QUOTE (Brazilian_Shinobi @ Mar 11 2010, 07:34 AM) *
read.gif Ask and you shall receive:


Thanks.
Fatum
Actually, around a dozen minutes tops without cybercombat, and around half an hour maximum with it. Glass cannons, remember?
Sides, the team has a good reason to be watching the hacker go, inject him with boosters or pain-tolerance giving drugs and such.
Malachi
QUOTE (Cain @ Mar 11 2010, 01:02 AM) *
Even if you know the SR4.5 rules, decking is slow and involved. The decker goes off solo, while the other players go out for pizza. There are ways of mitigating this problem, but you still end up with a sub-game that leaves the other players out of it.

Actually, I have found that the SR4 Matrix rules allow a GM to make Matrix stuff as involved or as light as they need to be given the situation. In previous editions, Matrix runs were their own "mini-game" that had very rigid rules. Matrix in SR4 puts so much just in the purview of the GM, it allows the GM to resolve mechanics faster or slower as they see fit.
Cain
QUOTE (Malachi @ Mar 11 2010, 02:29 PM) *
Actually, I have found that the SR4 Matrix rules allow a GM to make Matrix stuff as involved or as light as they need to be given the situation. In previous editions, Matrix runs were their own "mini-game" that had very rigid rules. Matrix in SR4 puts so much just in the purview of the GM, it allows the GM to resolve mechanics faster or slower as they see fit.

We're not allowed to make SR1-3 vs SR4.5 comparisons, so I won't comment on that part. However, I've seen over a dozen GM's mess with the SR4.x Matrix, and none of them have managed to solve the problem. The fact is, even at its best, it's still a solo sub-game. You can mitigate how much this affects your game, but you can't change the nature of the beast without some serious house rules.
DireRadiant
You need to make it matter. The results of what happens in "other" space need to materialize in meatspace. Meat space is the common ground. Whether it's VR Matrix, Astral Space, Resonance Realms, those are all other worldly "mini"/"sub" games.

Does your world use astral space? Do you leave it out because it is a sub game?

The VR Matrix is no different, yet presents apparently presents challenges in contrast to imagining the astral.

Differences in fundamental mechanics in the game system support the flavor of otherworldliness in Magic and Astral space. Differences in mechanics support the Otherness of Matrix space.

You map astral and mundane space all the time. Do the same for VR Matrix space.

It's easy. You have AR. Anyone in meatspace can see what's is happening in the Matrix. Use it, describe it. It should be amazingly easy to incorporate what's happening in VR Matrix to Meat space. Figure it out.

Want to try something fun? Describe to the Hacker what happens when the node they are in gets shot to pieces by the street sam who figures out which one to crunch under their boots by the fact the street sam can use AR to find the VR Hacker!

The Matrix is for everyone. It's everywhere. It's not just for Hackers anymore, they can't hide there.
Draco18s
QUOTE (DireRadiant @ Mar 12 2010, 12:57 AM) *
street sam who figures out which one to crunch under their boots by the fact the street sam can use AR to find the VR Hacker!


Unless the guy playing the street sam has no interest in doing so, which is why he's playing a street sam and not a rigger.

Or maybe he's playing a street sam who doesn't care about the matrix because the player barely understands how to shoot things and has trouble counting up how many dice he gets to roll and who's most inventive move last session was "death from above" that took most of combat to set up (after lobbing some grenades around).
Malachi
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 12 2010, 08:24 AM) *
Or maybe he's playing a street sam who doesn't care about the matrix because the player barely understands how to shoot things and has trouble counting up how many dice he gets to roll and who's most inventive move last session was "death from above" that took most of combat to set up (after lobbing some grenades around).

Player problems are not system problems. Show me the most perfectly designed and balanced RPG system in the world, and I will complain that it sucks because I have a player that is not interested in learning it.
Malachi
QUOTE (Cain @ Mar 11 2010, 11:17 PM) *
We're not allowed to make SR1-3 vs SR4.5 comparisons, so I won't comment on that part. However, I've seen over a dozen GM's mess with the SR4.x Matrix, and none of them have managed to solve the problem. The fact is, even at its best, it's still a solo sub-game. You can mitigate how much this affects your game, but you can't change the nature of the beast without some serious house rules.

There can be many other cases where Shadowrun has solo sub-games. I've had part of a session where everyone waited while "stealth guy" made an intrusion into a building to plant something. I've had part of a mission where everyone waited while "talking guy" had to do a bunch of social networking to get the information they needed from a particular person. I've had part of a session where everyone waited while "magic guy" did a bunch of astral scouting to map out the magical defenses of a facility.

In all of those cases, I "cut corners" in the resolution mechanics to resolve the situation quickly so that the other players didn't get too bored waiting for the task to be accomplished. At the same time, a GM needs to be careful not to cut the resolution too short lest they minimize the character's specialist role. If the Hacker needs to break into a key system to steal an important piece of data or disable the security, but the GM resolves it as one opposed Hacking role, they'll probably feel like "that's it?" Same thing for all the other ones, would an Astral scout be just one Assensing test, or the social networking one Etiquette test, or the stealth intrusion one Infiltration test? I think it all comes down to the GM managing spotlight time. If a GM wants to get down on resolution time for all the other specialists, just be sure that you're not letting just the combat guys get their due because that "includes everyone."

My favourite RPG podcast is Fear the Boot, and they heavily advocate what they call the "group template." That means you sit down with your group before the first session, figure out what everyone is playing and talk about it. If the group as a whole really doesn't like anyone doing anything significant that doesn't include the group as a whole, then the characters should be designed around that. I think there are lots of things that can be easily done with the Matrix rules to speed up resolution, and keep it "group-focused."
Draco18s
There might be a lot of "sub-games," but for the most part the entire group can at least participate. Meeting with Mr. J and the face forgets to ask for half up front, anyone else in the party can speak up.

The only true subgames are the ones were players can not participate at all:

  • Matrix: requires expensive programs, expensive hardware, and skill (a player who picks up the $100 comlink, R1 Exploit, and 1 rank in hacking is not going to help the hacker)
  • Astral/Metaplanes: oh wait, there's a drug that fixes that too if players really want to get involved. For the most part, astral scouting is the mage's way of helping out the infiltrator. Suddenly, infiltration isn't a subgame anymore.
  • Infiltration: See: astral projection, above. Also, infiltration is generally handed by the party anyway with the expert taking the harder routes to enable the rest of the party to proceed (i.e. crawling through an air vent to get to the other side of a locked door and opening it)
  • Negotiation: see previous statement. Anyone can help out at the bargaining table, even if it is just by proxy (hooray instant messaging: "Don't forget to get half up front!").
  • Legwork: Subgame. Its rare in my experience that even the player with the right skills knows how to play this subgame, much less how those without the right skills can help. Most of it depends on how well the GM can describe the seed* information.


Even in most cases where one person is doing something on their own it can be dealt with quickly: astral scouting, make a few perception checks (Assensing is not astral perception! Its identifying what you see! That is, a perception roll says "There's spirit over there," assensing tells you "That spirit is a F3 Earth Spirit") and inform the rest of the party (who deals with the information).

*That starting point, the "she was last seen at store X" which gives the players the idea that maybe they should shake down store X. One adventure I played--I believe it was an official one--basically gave extremely subtle clues and all the ones you'd expect to hear weren't there. Ex. "She was last seen two hours by her roommate before leaving for the doctor's office." Room mate being a complete succubus, and a dead end red herring (her only point in the plot was to seduce, and have sex with, a PC). The doctor? The other guy you're trying to find. Last seen by? The girl. Oh, and he's dead anyway.

The clues that lead you in the right direction? Girl's boyfriend has connections to some back-to-nature group with a compound out in the forest (guess where the girl, the boyfriend, and boyfriend's car is where? At the compound).
Malachi
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 12 2010, 12:39 PM) *
The only true subgames are the ones were players can not participate at all:

  • Matrix: requires expensive programs, expensive hardware, and skill (a player who picks up the $100 comlink, R1 Exploit, and 1 rank in hacking is not going to help the hacker)
  • Astral/Metaplanes: oh wait, there's a drug that fixes that too if players really want to get involved. For the most part, astral scouting is the mage's way of helping out the infiltrator. Suddenly, infiltration isn't a subgame anymore.
  • Infiltration: See: astral projection, above. Also, infiltration is generally handed by the party anyway with the expert taking the harder routes to enable the rest of the party to proceed (i.e. crawling through an air vent to get to the other side of a locked door and opening it)
  • Negotiation: see previous statement. Anyone can help out at the bargaining table, even if it is just by proxy (hooray instant messaging: "Don't forget to get half up front!").
  • Legwork: Subgame. Its rare in my experience that even the player with the right skills knows how to play this subgame, much less how those without the right skills can help. Most of it depends on how well the GM can describe the seed* information.

So why isn't Matrix in with Infiltration, Negotiation, and Astral by that criteria? If, in your games, the whole part does the infiltration (when I was referring to it, I wasn't meaning the "we break into the target facility of our run to get the McGuffin" because of course the whole party does that) then why can't the Hacker with Matrix specialties be just as much part of it? In your example, if the Infiltrator "takes the hard routes" to help the party, couldn't/wouldn't the Hacker be doing the same thing from the Matrix angle? Eg. Opening locked doors and disabling cameras.

A Hacker that gives the rest of the team a "feed" of what they are doing on a Hack can involve the party just as much as the other members texting "don't forget the down payment" to the negotiator (eg. "don't forget to check that data for a Data Bomb!"). Also, some random street sam or face with no Spells, Assensing, or Astral Combat skill who pops some Deepweed to go on an Astral Scout with the Mage is going to be just as much help as someone with a crappy commlink that goes with the Hacker into the Node, so you should count both as group participation.

I don't know about your perspective, but coming from previous editions where Decking required hundreds of thousands of nuyen and cyberware to do, SR4's hacking that requires no cyberware and tens of thousands of nuyen worth of gear (seriously, a tenth or less worth of gear from previous editions) doesn't seem as "expensive" or exclusive as previous editions.

For the examples sited on how other members can participate in "sub-games" I don't see why any of those wouldn't also apply to Matrix stuff.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Malachi @ Mar 12 2010, 03:26 PM) *
couldn't/wouldn't the Hacker be doing the same thing from the Matrix angle? Eg. Opening locked doors and disabling cameras.


That's what I consider Hardware Hacking, which anyone* with a screwdriver* can do. The only locked door Hardware hacking can't solve is one that can't be opened at all without causing some kind of alarm (see: the "door with a camera on the other side" scenario).

QUOTE
I don't know about your perspective, but coming from previous editions where Decking required hundreds of thousands of nuyen and cyberware to do, SR4's hacking that requires no cyberware and tens of thousands of nuyen worth of gear (seriously, a tenth or less worth of gear from previous editions) doesn't seem as "expensive" or exclusive as previous editions.


Admittedly, its gotten better, but I still don't like it.

Another big issue is that "if you fuck up in the meat, at least you can shoot people" doesn't apply to the matrix. Cybercombat just kills you or you log out. Logging out means you have to re-hack an alterted system while your buddies wait for you (because you need to do X, whereas if you were doing hardware hacking you wouldn't have this issue, and if you didn't need to do X, then what were you doing anyway?).

Just because "the matrix is omnipresent and pervasive" does not mean that it must be utilized or even that it can be utilized by most characters. It wasn't until some errata that buying a comlink even let you onto the matrix without first shelling out some additional cash for a browser. Now they come with a R1 Browse program for free (IIRC).

You also have to realize that while hacking got cheaper so did everything else. Used to be you got something like 2.5 million nuyen maximum. So even if hacking is 10 times cheaper, everything else is 5 times cheaper, so comparatively, it's only half as expensive.

Oh, and lets not forget program limits, so even if you give the sammy a cheap comlink, how many programs can he run? Three? So...Stealth, Exploit and....Data Search. God forbid he encounters cybercombat. Stealth, Exploit and....Armor. God forbid he needs to look for files or finds a data bomb. Stealth, Exploit and....Biofeedback filters? What's he doing!?

*Alright, not entirely true. But a matrix hacker need not be involved. It also takes significantly fewer rolls to determine the outcome (ie. one)
Malachi
Yeah, you make some valid points there. Your point about "hardware hacking" opens up the whole issue of multiple skills sets fulfilling the same role/result in the team, and that is not unique to a technical specialist character either. Your point about Cybercombat is partially true, cybercombat can be quite uninteresting at times. Though I don't think it's entirely true to say "if you were doing hardware hacking you wouldn't have this issue" because it depends how one fails at the hardware test. If the PC fails because the maglock has an anti-tamper system, wouldn't the reasonable response of the system be to lock out the system? Or backing up a bit, if they fail even if there isn't an anti-tamper system, the team still just needs to wait for the character to succeed if they need to go through the door, netting the same result as the system re-hack. Granted the Hardware angle takes fewer die rolls, but I think it's pretty easy to cut corners with the Matrix stuff. I have pretty much eliminated Browse tests, for instance.

(When you're referencing a Browse program, I think you mean Scan) I never saw the Scan program thing as an issue, I mean it's fine that they errata fixed it, but I always assume that a device can perform its basic functions automatically. In SR3 the maximum money was 1 million and that didn't buy you anywhere near the best Deck, not as close as you can get in SR4 with 250,000. I don't agree with your point on relative costs, however. It would take some time for me to crunch the numbers, but off the top of my head, I can reasonably say that being an "effective" Matrix character in SR4 takes far less of a character's maximum starting money than it used to, and another character type can be a "secondary" Hacker way easier than in previous editions. On program limits, you might be forgetting that the limit is not an absolute maximum, but is simply a point where Response starts to decrease. Bleeding 1 point of Response away if one really needs to have 4 programs running is an effective sacrifice IMO. However, while on this topic, did you ever play Decking in previous editions? Programs limited by Response is nothing compared to tracking Active Memory, Storage Memory, and I/O Speed.

Someone coming "brand new" into SR4 might see Matrix stuff as an unnecessary time sink, but that is unfortunate because it really has become so much better in this edition.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Malachi @ Mar 12 2010, 01:26 PM) *
So why isn't Matrix in with Infiltration, Negotiation, and Astral by that criteria? If, in your games, the whole part does the infiltration (when I was referring to it, I wasn't meaning the "we break into the target facility of our run to get the McGuffin" because of course the whole party does that) then why can't the Hacker with Matrix specialties be just as much part of it? In your example, if the Infiltrator "takes the hard routes" to help the party, couldn't/wouldn't the Hacker be doing the same thing from the Matrix angle? Eg. Opening locked doors and disabling cameras.

A Hacker that gives the rest of the team a "feed" of what they are doing on a Hack can involve the party just as much as the other members texting "don't forget the down payment" to the negotiator (eg. "don't forget to check that data for a Data Bomb!"). Also, some random street sam or face with no Spells, Assensing, or Astral Combat skill who pops some Deepweed to go on an Astral Scout with the Mage is going to be just as much help as someone with a crappy commlink that goes with the Hacker into the Node, so you should count both as group participation.

I don't know about your perspective, but coming from previous editions where Decking required hundreds of thousands of nuyen and cyberware to do, SR4's hacking that requires no cyberware and tens of thousands of nuyen worth of gear (seriously, a tenth or less worth of gear from previous editions) doesn't seem as "expensive" or exclusive as previous editions.

For the examples sited on how other members can participate in "sub-games" I don't see why any of those wouldn't also apply to Matrix stuff.


It always amazes me when the complaint is that Hackers is an inherent sub-game... yes, it has that potential, but at the table I play at, Hacking is an intrinsic part of the run, and happens in teh same time space that the rest of the run does, I do not hack in VR for the most part, and am running concurrently with teh rest of the group, so resolution happens along with the action for the rest of the group...

It is totally integrated...

Now, that being said, there have been instances where the action focused on a sub-game (so to speak)... Astral/Resonance Quests are handled with the whole party... in a Resonance quest, we are "Resonance shadows," a part of the resonance with character memory (the Technomancer's Unconcscious projections of resonance sprites that make up the particular realm he is searching) that assist the Technomancer in minor ways based upon his impressions of our real life characters...

In the Mage's Astral Quests, we tend to take a more direct role with the characters, as we often seek the services of those which can allow the party to either participate in mind or body (Same basic principle as the Resonance Quests)... this keep the action tight and relevant for everyone, and yet focuses upon the individual needs of those who are actually making the Quest...

It has worked out quite well in that regard...

I do believe that the Hacking rules are greatly improved over what has come before... and it is indeed very possible to have exciting and relevant Hacks in the same timespan as the rest of the party... as Malachi has stated, you have to account for Astral Space (when you have magical support) as well, just use the same techniques to synchronize the Matrix Space to the Meat Space...

Keep the Faith
Fatum
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 13 2010, 12:34 AM) *
That's what I consider Hardware Hacking, which anyone* with a screwdriver* can do. The only locked door Hardware hacking can't solve is one that can't be opened at all without causing some kind of alarm (see: the "door with a camera on the other side" scenario).

I dare you to use Hardware to disable movement sensors and loop camera feedbacks without being noticed.

QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 13 2010, 12:34 AM) *
Another big issue is that "if you fuck up in the meat, at least you can shoot people" doesn't apply to the matrix. Cybercombat just kills you or you log out.

Or you log out, and the security hacker infiltrates your commlink, hacks your PAN, and directs his buddies to your location, while intercepting your messaging and just maybe altering it a bit to break the group apart and lure each character into a trap.

QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 13 2010, 12:34 AM) *
Logging out means you have to re-hack an alterted system while your buddies wait for you (because you need to do X, whereas if you were doing hardware hacking you wouldn't have this issue, and if you didn't need to do X, then what were you doing anyway?).

Unless you have a half-decent GM who's able to provide an alternative way, right?

QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 13 2010, 12:34 AM) *
Just because "the matrix is omnipresent and pervasive" does not mean that it must be utilized or even that it can be utilized by most characters.

Noone's forcing you to use the Matrix, same way noone's forcing you to use the Astral. It just adds to gaming experience. Same way you can play out combats without cover or burst fire or grenades or that.

QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 13 2010, 12:34 AM) *
Oh, and lets not forget program limits, so even if you give the sammy a cheap comlink, how many programs can he run? Three? So...Stealth, Exploit and....Data Search. God forbid he encounters cybercombat. Stealth, Exploit and....Armor. God forbid he needs to look for files or finds a data bomb. Stealth, Exploit and....Biofeedback filters? What's he doing!?

Oh, and I see you're not aware of the Ergonomic program option, too.
Fatum
QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Mar 13 2010, 03:31 AM) *
In the Mage's Astral Quests, we tend to take a more direct role with the characters, as we often seek the services of those which can allow the party to either participate in mind or body (Same basic principle as the Resonance Quests)... this keep the action tight and relevant for everyone, and yet focuses upon the individual needs of those who are actually making the Quest...


Doesn't Street Magic straight out suggest that mages use their team members, reflections of childhood friends and so and such as helpers while on Astral quests? It has rules for that and all.
Ryu
The way to integrate hacking into the gameworld (a subset of having an integrated matrix) is to present the number of options hacking provides. Spoofed orders can go a long way, and are handled by single tests. Even exploiting a node is mechanically fast if you forego tests-that-will-be-successful-anyway.

Give the hacker spotlight time for already hacked accounts, IE redirecting autonomous drones during the run using a security accout established before the run.

Give your players crucial information via the matrix (everyone), so that they can ask the hacker to change stuff around. Maybe the face wants an opponents emotitoy to report truthfullness on a lie, or the samurai wants a certain drones grenade clip ejected.

Keep hacking simple. Stay away from complicated security setups, or offer ways of no-tech hacking. Hacking for beginners does not involve every optional rule in the book. One can enter combat without customized armor, too.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 13 2010, 04:41 AM) *
Doesn't Street Magic straight out suggest that mages use their team members, reflections of childhood friends and so and such as helpers while on Astral quests? It has rules for that and all.



Indeed it does, which is why it works out so well for us...

Never said we didn't use the rules... my point is that you can integrate all three environments into a seemless interaction between the three environments, should you choose to want to do so... it may be challenging, but it can indeed be done... this will allow everyone to continue to have an impact regardless of whether it is a Spirit, Sprite, HAcker, Samurai, Mage, whatever... all actions can be relegated to teh regular combat system of Initiative + passes, and resolution happens in whatever realm you happen to be using for each individual character (Astral, Matrix, and Physical)...

Has worked great for us, as everyone stays involved.

Keep the Faith
Draco18s
QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 13 2010, 06:36 AM) *
Or you log out, and the security hacker infiltrates your commlink, hacks your PAN, and directs his buddies to your location, while intercepting your messaging and just maybe altering it a bit to break the group apart and lure each character into a trap.


Or you're unconscious/dead on the floor and they do it anyway. Yeah, that totally countered my point.

I like the KISS method of hacking:

Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Fatum
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 13 2010, 07:47 PM) *
Or you're unconscious/dead on the floor and they do it anyway. Yeah, that totally countered my point.

I like the KISS method of hacking:

Keep It Simple, Stupid.


It countered your point that cybercombat is "you either die or log out".
There are other options and further consequences.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 13 2010, 12:42 PM) *
It countered your point that cybercombat is "you either die or log out".
There are other options and further consequences.


Oh, so "log out with bad effects" is somehow a good thing? All I said was you log out. What the system does when you log out is up to the system. My point was:

It's a lose-lose situation.
Fatum
Oh, so, a botched infiltration is not basically "you already lost" situation in your book? Then why bother, play it like DOOM or something.
Draco18s
Botched infiltration is just combat. Combat can be won, for the most part.
Faraday
QUOTE (Draco18s @ Mar 13 2010, 07:10 PM) *
Botched infiltration is just combat. Combat can be won, for the most part.
A botched infiltration is combat, usually decreased pay, and potentially failed mission. Usually the first thing a decently intelligent corp-sec guard does is call for backup, which often makes the rest of the facility on higher alert. If the corp sec sees augmented or obviously magic slotters on their property, that tells them they should be calling in an HTR team stat.
Fatum
QUOTE (Faraday @ Mar 14 2010, 07:05 AM) *
A botched infiltration is combat, usually decreased pay, and potentially failed mission. Usually the first thing a decently intelligent corp-sec guard does is call for backup, which often makes the rest of the facility on higher alert. If the corp sec sees augmented or obviously magic slotters on their property, that tells them they should be calling in an HTR team stat.


That's the best variant for the runners - they have a chance to get lost before late. Still if it's a high-security facility we're talking, the HTR team is on site.
Draco18s
QUOTE (Fatum @ Mar 13 2010, 11:51 PM) *
That's the best variant for the runners - they have a chance to get lost before late. Still if it's a high-security facility we're talking, the HTR team is on site.


My thought exactly. Botched hacking resulting in cybercombat also results in the rest of the team getting hit (hacker's too busy getting beat up to cancel any alerts), and is far more likely to end with one or more characters dead.
The Jake
QUOTE (Malachi @ Mar 11 2010, 11:29 PM) *
Actually, I have found that the SR4 Matrix rules allow a GM to make Matrix stuff as involved or as light as they need to be given the situation. In previous editions, Matrix runs were their own "mini-game" that had very rigid rules. Matrix in SR4 puts so much just in the purview of the GM, it allows the GM to resolve mechanics faster or slower as they see fit.


I would agree on this 100%. I have found the only thing that has in a year of running SR4 rules that dragged down hacking was when I created a particularly difficult node with a rather large agent. And that is almost certainly more of a player problem than a system problem (so much so it is deserving of its own thread).

- J.
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