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Nexushound
Oi Chums,

So the team is jamming through Puyallup Barrens on there way to a safe house when the Hackers Data Bomb gets triggered. The team always runs in hidden mode when possible but it looks like a Reality Hacker crew has spotted them on the road, Scanned out their coms, and is attempting a hack. So the Hacker says "I don't have time for this!" and promptly tunes his Signal rating from 6 to 0. No more mutual signal range, no problem. Is this possible? Can you adjust your Signal strength at any given moment or are you stuck with whatever rating you have installed?
Neraph
You can't change your Signal strength, but you can turn off your Wireless functionality - with only select models, of course.
deek
I've always let my players change signal rating with a free action, just like they can change the mode they are running in.
Nexushound
Oi Chums,

Thanks for the quick replies. Since I GM the game, and this situation happened a while back, I allowed it. Now they do it fairly often. I can not find RAW that says they can't but that is no reason why they should be able to. I am hoping to get a few different points of veiw on this and will decide on what I hear from fellow Dumpshockers.
I agree with Deek on what Type of an action it is, change linked device mode, but for links I really think that was meant only for Active, Passive and Hidden mode. How ever I don't really see why they should not be able to do it, it has not really upset game balance, if I am really intent on hacking their systms I won't set off the D-Bomb lol. Maybe a hardware modification to allow for signal strength change? They wont be so willing to do it for the whole team as the non-hackers regularly throw away links for new ones. What do you think?
Yerameyahu
If the ability to change signal strength unbalances the game, stop allowing it. Until then, I wouldn't worry about it. :/ I could certainly see making it a nominal hardware upgrade, as well.

Anyone with real-world experience care to chime in about whether variable signal strength is something that devices can easily do in 2010? I assume it's not too hard, but you never know. smile.gif
suoq
Drop the dang thing in a faraday cage. If you want a rules reference look up "Wireless Negation".

For houseruling, since I can control the signal strength on my phone and electronics, I can't see why people can't in the future. Likewise, tossing the device in a zip lock and throwing it in a bucket of water should kill any wireless signals dead while not breaking the device.
Nexushound
Oi Chums,

I want to clarify the team was not worried about the Reality Hackers doing any real harm, hell they were in Puyallup they had no real need for a Matrix connection at that point and could have easily just turned the "dang" thing off. The real question is can you adjust your Signal strength? I like the idea of a minor hardware mod and may just go with that.
Yerameyahu
*Can* you control the signal strength on your phone?
Nexushound
Good Question. Cause if you can then you definitly should be able to on your Commlink.
Traul
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Aug 31 2010, 04:23 AM) *
*Can* you control the signal strength on your phone?

The cellphone does it on its own to save battery. It is just a matter of power, like turning the volume on.
Yerameyahu
Cool. I assumed so, but electronics is a field where common sense is a very poor guide.
Wasabi
When you spend thousands on a phone it might not be... consumer-grade.

:-)
Traul
In the Shadowrun setting, signal reduction is probably part of the matrix protocol. With so many devices emitting and limited bandwidth, there has to be some overlap in the frequencies used. If every node was always emitting at maximal power, they would keep jamming one another.
Yerameyahu
Yep. I'm convinced. I also (just now) asked an EE I know, who agreed: phones do it automatically and there's no physical limitation to the action. So: in SR, you should be able to adjust the Signal, and probably as a Free action.
Tymeaus Jalynsfein
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Aug 30 2010, 09:17 PM) *
Yep. I'm convinced. I also (just now) asked an EE I know, who agreed: phones do it automatically and there's no physical limitation to the action. So: in SR, you should be able to adjust the Signal, and probably as a Free action.


That is how I always ran it myself... wobble.gif
Nexushound
Oi Chums,

Excellent. I will allow manual Signal Strength adjustment with a "Change Linked Device Mode" Free Action. No Hardware modification required.

"So let it be said, So let it be written!" ...done. notworthy.gif
Yerameyahu
*dusts off his hands* Success! Huzzah for Dumpshock.
Saint Sithney
Any signal has an amplification rating.
I'd think that all you need is a variable resistor hooked to the antenna, and you should be able to tune the power to whatever distance you need.
Inca
It should definitely require a hardware test with some tools to add a mod to it that would allow you to tune it. I bet someone could allow me to adjust the signal rating on my cellphone, but i sure as hell don't know how to do it...Motorola designed the device so I would tinker with those types of things. Remember, in SR consumer grade stuff is almost exclusively aimed at the corporate wage-slave lifestyle, and there's nothing the corps hate more than secrecy....so i'm sure there's no hardware knob on the commlink which allows the user to change the frequency. I'd also allow it to be able to be changed through software hacking...because there are definitely programs on the commlink which would have access to adjusting the signal rating for battery and power save features, so i'd make it a hacking+software (3) test or something of the sorts and then once you succeed the hacker could write a little quick script with logic+software(2) to let an average user modify it with a free action.
Yerameyahu
Right, so anyone with a smidgeon of skill and 10 minutes can permanently alter their gear for Free-action control of Signal; why bother requiring a roll? Sounds like something that would be available for free in the App Store, 2070 version. smile.gif
Inca
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Aug 31 2010, 10:37 AM) *
Right, so anyone with a smidgeon of skill and 10 minutes can permanently alter their gear for Free-action control of Signal; why bother requiring a roll? Sounds like something that would be available for free in the App Store, 2070 version. smile.gif

Anyone with a smidgeon of hacking skills? How many people have a hacking skill? Let's say you have a hacking skill of 4 and a software skill of 4 which are both considered the skill level of a veteran hacker... that's a dice pool of 8...on a threshold number of 3 that is approximately a 50% chance that they'll fail on the test and won't know how to hack the signal rating of the commlink. Now let's take the novice with a little more than a smidgeon of skill...hacking 2, software 2...that's a dice pool of 4 that's 90% chance of failure on the test. That's what the dice are there for....so that players feel like they at least have a chance of doing cool stuff and problem solving....if as a GM you feel that they really shouldn't be doing it...then give them DP modifiers or change thresholds so that it's next to impossible...and then they still feel like they had a small chance....and if out of some miracle they make it, then you yourself as a GM feel like they deserve it because luck like that doesn't come everyday. Very rarely do I ever invoke the "you just can't do it"....and that's mostly to save time or to keep sessions from getting derailed or unbalanced to the point where it's not fun.
Mooncrow
QUOTE (Inca @ Aug 31 2010, 01:48 PM) *
Anyone with a smidgeon of hacking skills? How many people have a hacking skill? Let's say you have a hacking skill of 4 and a software skill of 4 which are both considered the skill level of a veteran hacker... that's a dice pool of 8...on a threshold number of 3 that is approximately a 50% chance that they'll fail on the test and won't know how to hack the signal rating of the commlink. Now let's take the novice with a little more than a smidgeon of skill...hacking 2, software 2...that's a dice pool of 4 that's 90% chance of failure on the test. That's what the dice are there for....so that players feel like they at least have a chance of doing cool stuff and problem solving....if as a GM you feel that they really shouldn't be doing it...then give them DP modifiers or change thresholds so that it's next to impossible...and then they still feel like they had a small chance....and if out of some miracle they make it, then you yourself as a GM feel like they deserve it because luck like that doesn't come everyday. Very rarely do I ever invoke the "you just can't do it"....and that's mostly to save time or to keep sessions from getting derailed or unbalanced to the point where it's not fun.


It's more like anyone with a smidgeon of computer skill can figure how to adjust the multiplier on their processor. It may take a little bit of looking, but it's not hard in the slightest.
Yerameyahu
Not hacking: Software or Hardware (with Logic). smile.gif You were incorrect to suggest Hacking, that's all. My point is that people don't jailbreak their own phones, they download a slick little app and press go.
Jaid
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Aug 31 2010, 11:37 AM) *
Right, so anyone with a smidgeon of skill and 10 minutes can permanently alter their gear for Free-action control of Signal; why bother requiring a roll? Sounds like something that would be available for free in the App Store, 2070 version. smile.gif

yup, seems like the most sensible way to handle it to me. it should pretty much only come up for someone who is unaware in computer skill. or someone who has gremlins.
suoq
QUOTE (Inca @ Aug 31 2010, 10:35 AM) *
It should definitely require a hardware test with some tools to add a mod to it that would allow you to tune it.

Current Real Life asjusting the transmit power of my wireless: I pop open DD-WRT, change the Transmit power, and save.

In an AR world with massive computing power, how hard can it be to find this setting and adjust it?

"Open Settings. I want to adjust my signal strength".
"Certainly. What setting do you wish?"
"50 feet or so"
(1 millisecond of calculation)
"Completed"

Real Life example: http://i34.tinypic.com/2hrd9w8.jpg <- look for the box that says TX power [100].
sabs
Why do Commlinks not come with an Agent already?
Inca
QUOTE (suoq @ Aug 31 2010, 12:15 PM) *
Current Real Life asjusting the transmit power of my wireless: I pop open DD-WRT, change the Transmit power, and save.

I just don't see corporations selling stuff that makes it easier for you to evade their surveillance of you.....maybe it's an app you can download from some underground software VPN....but not a corporate appstore. The Iphone or modern day computers is not always a good analogy because we live in a free society and in 2072 the only way to be free is to be a shadowrunner ...that's why these people walk in front of bullets and fireballs...that's why they live their lives in constant paranoia. All the money they make is never used to amass wealth...it's to buy things which will keep you alive or make you a better runner so you can keep on shadowrunning i.e. being free. I would say it's a hacking skill to do anything that an operating system would not allow you to do without a manufacturers root password. If your just a normal wage-slave who wants to do anything outside the user-friendly parameters of their operating system they would usually call the Renraku geek squad and they send a trouble-shooter tech's persona over to your PAN and he just plugs his root password and goes to work. In my games that's what I call administrator access to your commlink's Renraku Sensei OS. "User" would be the equivalent of a user account on Windows...and security access would be what windows calls an admin account.
Just look at the real world...take any IT graduate and they couldn't hack their way out of a paper bag but they sure as hell could install windows and trouble shoot it for you as well. When you learn computer programming you learn how to work within the boundaries of a given software....or even how to construct your own software and get it to do whatever the hell you please....but that still doesn't mean you have a vast body of knowledge of all the little glitches and holes and exploits inside of already existing popular software. So sure, the software engineer might be able to hack the signal rating, and he would do it with just his software dice pool reflecting how much harder it is to code all your own changes from the bottom up.....but the knowledge embodied in the hacking skill is precisely the bag of tricks the player learned when trying to mess with Renraku's Sensei software...and he's gonna have a better chance of getting the modification to work and that's reflected in the getting a DP of hacking+software.
At the end of the day it's up to the GM to give that fluffer information....I hate it when GM's say .."you failed" or "you succeeded"...I like when GM's say "sadly this is Sensei 1.03 beta and an update downloaded yesterday just plugged your favorite little backdoor".... That implies to me that my hacking skill isn't just this static thing but also entails how up to date I am on current news, how much i'm listening in to the hacker forums...etc.
Inca
It's also about giving more value to people who've got certain skills....it's a drag if you're needed only for one specific task. That's why my ork hacker has a knowledge skill in Hurlg...it's because hopefully it will come in handy one day when i'm trying to get some gangers really drunk. I had a purpose.
suoq
QUOTE (Inca @ Aug 31 2010, 12:24 PM) *
I just don't see corporations selling stuff that makes it easier for you to evade their surveillance of you.....
You've already lost me. "the law often requires certain core data be broadcast in certain areas (SIN must be made available on UCAS federal property and many corporate enclaves)" (Pg 219 SR4A). Adjusting your signal strength doesn't change their ability to pay attention to you because you're required to be broadcasting at a signal strength strong enough for them to watch you.

In the meantime, there is a need to up your signal strength (to get into contact with devices away from you but slaved to your commlink) and to decrease your signal strength (to save power and not turn your phone into a portable oven).

QUOTE
take any IT graduate and they couldn't hack their way out of a paper bag
It's as easy to change the transmit power using DD-WRT as it is to sign up for a dumpshock account. Did the human race somehow get stupider over the next 60 years? Is that why we're drinking Brawndo?
suoq
QUOTE (sabs @ Aug 31 2010, 12:23 PM) *
Why do Commlinks not come with an Agent already?

The same reason the place you buy your phone is filled to the brim with accessories and smarkphones have markets. They can sell the phone for less while still having you spend a lot of money in the end. If you're gonna shell out the cash for a Transys Avalon with Novatech Navi, the elf behind the counter will be pitching the usefulness of their agents (starting as low as 1000:nuyen: ) in no time flat.
Jaid
QUOTE (suoq @ Aug 31 2010, 01:15 PM) *
Current Real Life asjusting the transmit power of my wireless: I pop open DD-WRT, change the Transmit power, and save.

In an AR world with massive computing power, how hard can it be to find this setting and adjust it?

"Open Settings. I want to adjust my signal strength".
"Certainly. What setting do you wish?"
"50 feet or so"
(1 millisecond of calculation)
"Completed"

Real Life example: http://i34.tinypic.com/2hrd9w8.jpg <- look for the box that says TX power [100].

well, to be fair, doing it through hardware would be a lot more tricky. that's actually a software control (which may control an internal hardware device somewhere, admittedly). if you wanted to add a physical knob (which is about the only reason i could see using hardware), it would be a lot more involved.
Inca
QUOTE (suoq @ Aug 31 2010, 01:37 PM) *
You've already lost me. "the law often requires certain core data be broadcast in certain areas (SIN must be made available on UCAS federal property and many corporate enclaves)" (Pg 219 SR4A). Adjusting your signal strength doesn't change their ability to pay attention to you because you're required to be broadcasting at a signal strength strong enough for them to watch you.

Right, my point exactly! If a KE drone visually detects you but sees no node, it's going to start asking questions. If it finds you're running on hidden, then that's a violation. The lowest signal range you can buy in SR4A is a Meta Link with signal 2 so that's 100m, so most likely, if a drone sees you at 50 m, but no signal....then it's also going to ask questions as well. If people could alter their signal strength at will then KE wouldn't be able to know if you're hidden, or just got your commlink off or have a really small signal range....it would be really hard to enforce that rule. If there's a law that says you need to have a broadcasting commlink which is not running on hidden, then the only way they could enforce this was if there was a regulation minimum signal strength and to go below 100m say would be a violation....that way a KE drone if it saw you at 150 m away, it would just have to close the distance to 100m to check if the suspect is on hidden or not...otherwise it would have to query every other person walking down the street. So it makes sense manufacturers want to be compliant with this....thus it would take a little bit know-how to pull in your signal range below legal levels.
suoq
QUOTE (Jaid @ Aug 31 2010, 12:52 PM) *
well, to be fair, doing it through hardware would be a lot more tricky. that's actually a software control (which may control an internal hardware device somewhere, admittedly). if you wanted to add a physical knob (which is about the only reason i could see using hardware), it would be a lot more involved.


Here's how hard it is to change the signal hardware: "Upgrading a device is simply a matter of having the proper hardware module (for Response and Signal) or software package (for Firewall and System). Once you have the module or package, simply install it into the device, a matter of a few minutesí work" (PG 222, SR4).

So, buy a new signal package with a knob on it and a few minutes later, you're good to go.

suoq
QUOTE (Inca @ Aug 31 2010, 12:57 PM) *
If people could alter their signal strength at will then KE wouldn't be able to know if you're hidden, or just got your commlink off or have a really small signal range....it would be really hard to enforce that rule.
How is it hard to enforce that rule?

"Sir. You're not broadcasting your SIN. Please come with us."
"Oops. Sorry. Let me get that."
(SIN check resulting in either:)
"Thank you citizen." or "Get in the van. Now."
(note that "Thank you citizen" isn't just having a good enough fake SIN. It's being someone that the cops have a reason to be forgiving towards. Otherwise, SIN or no, its "Get in the van".)

(Why are the drones doing the checking? We have a world of cheap matrix devices, cameras, supercomputers, tiny little tags with unlimited data storage, gait and facial recognition software, agents, etc. Why are dystopias assumed to be so inefficient? Are they really spraying the soy crops with Brawndo?)
sabs
QUOTE (suoq @ Aug 31 2010, 06:59 PM) *
Here's how hard it is to change the signal hardware: "Upgrading a device is simply a matter of having the proper hardware module (for Response and Signal) or software package (for Firewall and System). Once you have the module or package, simply install it into the device, a matter of a few minutesí work" (PG 222, SR4).

So, buy a new signal package with a knob on it and a few minutes later, you're good to go.


To me this would be a home-brew electronics kind of thing. I doubt RadioShack would sell such a beast.

I think though that signal strength is software regulated. Your commlink auto-adjusts the signal strength based on signal quality and power consumption. Additionally certain areas broadcast signal requirements, both minimum and maximum. So The KE Drone sends a drop signal strength command/request to your commlink. For most people their commlink just does it. But probably hackers get a window that says, "KE Drone has requested we drop signal strength to 3, do you wish to comply"

deek
QUOTE (Jaid @ Aug 31 2010, 01:52 PM) *
well, to be fair, doing it through hardware would be a lot more tricky. that's actually a software control (which may control an internal hardware device somewhere, admittedly). if you wanted to add a physical knob (which is about the only reason i could see using hardware), it would be a lot more involved.

Its a Free Action to switch between Active, Passive and Hidden.

I can see the argument for and against allowing your Signal rating to be changed that easily (note: I allow it to be this easy in my games).

Modeling it after the spoofing your Access ID is another option. You can do it with a test (or is it an extended test, can't remember). You could also buy a hardware mod to allow you to do it as a free (or simple, can't remember). So, you could houserule the same thing for you Signal rating. Spoof it lower (or replace spoof with Software skill) or buy the hardware mod so you can do it quicker.

Or, you could buy some cheapo comm links and slave your main to the one with the signal rating you want to get.

I guess when I look at it, since it makes sense to be able to do it, you should be able to do it without jumping through a bunch of hoops. But if hoops is your game, then you have some options to rationalize it.
Inca
QUOTE (suoq @ Aug 31 2010, 01:59 PM) *
So, buy a new signal package with a knob on it and a few minutes later, you're good to go.

Ya, and I just don't think it makes any sense that you can buy something like that off the shelf because it wouldn't be compliant with the law which says you need to A. have a commlink B. be broadcasting on active or passive. If you could adjust your signal range with a knob on your signal module, then you could adjust it to the point where you are no longer in mutual signal range to any surveillance device but still in range of say...you're smartgun. I feel very quickly KE would tell that commlink manufacturer, you're making our job a lot harder....how about we pay you X amount of nuyen to take that knob off.....oh wait a second, we're subsidiaries of the same AAA corp.....woops, my bad....TAKE THAT KNOB OFF!
Yerameyahu
I dunno, suoq. In order for that scenario to work, you have to assume there's a required signal strength. The Meta Link has Signal 2; the requirement *has* to be at least that low, then.
Inca
Just making a single test i wouldn't say is jumping through hoops....it just reflects the fact that you have someone on your team who knows how to circumvent the system and thus making that team member valuable. Say you didn't have that hacker...then you're job of going around undetected is that much harder.

People will push any law to it's utmost limits to give themselves more freedom. Every citizen would run around with a super low signal, like signal range of say 5 meters and as long as i'm close to some kind of device like a lamp-post or an RFID tag, you'd still have matrix access.
Dumori
QUOTE (Inca @ Aug 31 2010, 07:57 PM) *
Right, my point exactly! If a KE drone visually detects you but sees no node, it's going to start asking questions. If it finds you're running on hidden, then that's a violation. The lowest signal range you can buy in SR4A is a Meta Link with signal 2 so that's 100m, so most likely, if a drone sees you at 50 m, but no signal....then it's also going to ask questions as well. If people could alter their signal strength at will then KE wouldn't be able to know if you're hidden, or just got your commlink off or have a really small signal range....it would be really hard to enforce that rule. If there's a law that says you need to have a broadcasting commlink which is not running on hidden, then the only way they could enforce this was if there was a regulation minimum signal strength and to go below 100m say would be a violation....that way a KE drone if it saw you at 150 m away, it would just have to close the distance to 100m to check if the suspect is on hidden or not...otherwise it would have to query every other person walking down the street. So it makes sense manufacturers want to be compliant with this....thus it would take a little bit know-how to pull in your signal range below legal levels.

Still it could just use the GPS and a database of where what is legal. I mean this is SR the laws can change totally from enclave to enclave. Some things that are illegal in Evo might be legal inn Aztech do you think corps will be fussed? Its your fault if you brake the law with the product.
Yerameyahu
I think, in fact, people would leave it on the max setting, so they never have to worry about adjusting their signal. smile.gif People are lazy and thoughtless, and they certainly don't worry about security or privacy.

There *is* precedent for that kind of 'one-time test': hot sim modules. "To modify a sim module so that it can be run in hot sim mode, you must make an Hardware + Logic (10, 1 hour) Extended Test." So, if you want that hoop, there's a good example. smile.gif If you do that, you should also allow the other way to get 'hot sim' (in this case, adjustable Signal instead): just buy an illegal module for an extra 150•.
Dumori
But it would be there security officers might want it for the same reason as the PCs stopping a hack but keeping your PAN.
suoq
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Aug 31 2010, 01:13 PM) *
I dunno, suoq. In order for that scenario to work, you have to assume there's a required signal strength. The Meta Link has Signal 2; the requirement *has* to be at least that low, then.
So as long as there's a matrix device every 200 meters or less and some sort of coverage (video, radar, ultrawideband radar, whatever), you can tell if someone is broadcasting their SIN or not. If they turn their device down below 2, they're risking arrest. Feel free to warn them. Feel free to have their device warn them. If they do it anyway, arrest them.

Worried about coverage?
Open Park: Put the matrix devices in the sprinkler system.
Streets: Make it part of the gridlink.
Buildings: Put them in the ceilings.

Yerameyahu
What open park? This is Shadowrun. wink.gif
suoq
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Aug 31 2010, 01:27 PM) *
What open park? This is Shadowrun. wink.gif
I was thinking Central Park in Missions.

There are day's I'm not sure if Missions is Shadowrun or not. wink.gif Either way, that's what I was thinking about.
Yerameyahu
frown.gif Ruin my joke, why don't you.
Inca
QUOTE (Dumori @ Aug 31 2010, 02:21 PM) *
Still it could just use the GPS and a database of where what is legal. I mean this is SR the laws can change totally from enclave to enclave. Some things that are illegal in Evo might be legal inn Aztech do you think corps will be fussed? Its your fault if you brake the law with the product.


Ok, i'd accept that maybe there are off the shelf products that allow you more control in some regions than in others, but still that is not being able to change your signal rating "at will". I just feel that it's really a huge advantage to be able to alter your signal rating to very low levels. The shadowrun i was GM'ing really hinged on whether or not the team could simultaneously communicate with each other through AR and also go undetected by the regular hidden node sweeps. Of what use would searching for hidden nodes be if the little team of invaders easily can create their little bubble of signal which they use to communicate but it doesn't overlap with the node which is conducting the search. It would become a must on every shadowrun and thus you need someone who can do it...either a player or a contact.
My team actually failed to adjust the signal rating of their commlinks cuz they didn't have a good enough hacker and so they had to turn the commlinks off at regular intervals....it was more realistic...more suspenseful. I'm just saying that being able to lower your signal rating at will is a HUGE advantage....and shouldn't be taken lightly.
suoq
QUOTE (Yerameyahu @ Aug 31 2010, 01:30 PM) *
frown.gif Ruin my joke, why don't you.
Wasn't it you who told me jokes were against the TOS? wink.gif
Yerameyahu
'More realistic' is a very vague and subjective description. More suspense? Certainly a possibility, and a good one. smile.gif

I'm not convinced that it's a "HUGE advantage", though. If you want, you can communicate without the Matrix entirely, using Micro-Transcievers.
Traul
QUOTE (Inca @ Aug 31 2010, 08:57 PM) *
Right, my point exactly! If a KE drone visually detects you but sees no node, it's going to start asking questions. If it finds you're running on hidden, then that's a violation.

You don't need mutual signal range to detect a node if you have its physical location.
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