Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: NPC Hacker Problem
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun
The Jake
OK I'm sure at one point or another, you've hit the problem where you need a hacker, none of your players wants to play one and you have the icky situation of how you deal with it.

Do you use an NPC and completely eliminate the situation or use an NPC and try not to trivialise it - and if so, how?

My last campaign I had a few methods (quote this from another post) but I felt like I finally had the process to a point where it worked well

QUOTE
We has a PC AI in my last campaign. He used another PC's PAN initially - the AI had Rootkit and wasn't detected until it took temporary control over the PAN, including the other PC's wired reflexes and skillwires, scaring the crap out of the other player! Haha. Eventually it moved into a dedicated commlink they carried around and *eventually* moved into human looking, bipedal drone and could move amoung metahumanity with relative ease. This actually worked a treat. If you use an AI NPC I think it could work well.

We also had an NPC human hacker on call, but I didn't want the players to use him for every random hacking job (the AI player turned up sporadically). So I made it so the NPC hacker would happily schedule jobs weeks in advance, preferred to work 9-5 only (was a family man basically and his family didn't know what he was doing, but they didn't know that). He would only do jobs over the Matrix and never face to face. OH and if you called outside hours it would be very sketchy if he'd answer the commlink or not (I'd roll 50/50). If he did, he would pillage them on his fee (triple hourly rate, two hour minimum - more if the caller pissed him off or it was interrupting family time). He was a very competent and skilled hacker but I made sure the PCs would bleed financially if they ever called on him. It really made them think "how badly do we need him? is there another way?".

I had an alternative they could use too. Their alternative NPC hacker was an young elf party animal with a shaky rep and drug habit (read: tempo). She was as skilled, but much cheaper, usually drop whatever she was doing for a job, but she was not always reliable (read: known for being high on a job, or just plain "forgetting"). They never used her in the end.


My purpose for this thread is to see how others have dealt with this challenge?

Cheers

- J.
Warlordtheft
QUOTE (The Jake @ Jan 31 2012, 05:51 AM) *
OK I'm sure at one point or another, you've hit the problem where you need a hacker, none of your players wants to play one and you have the icky situation of how you deal with it.

Do you use an NPC and completely eliminate the situation or use an NPC and try not to trivialise it - and if so, how?

My last campaign I had a few methods (quote this from another post) but I felt like I finally had the process to a point where it worked well



My purpose for this thread is to see how others have dealt with this challenge?

Cheers

- J.


Well I always encourage at least one player to be the hacker, so not normally a problem. Without one you have 3 choices when dealing with matrix activity other than making sure the Matrix is not heavily involved in the run:

1. Handwavium: NPC hacker succeeds and nothing is rolled. Benefit:It is easy, and doesn't take a roll. Problem:You've just negated 1/3 of all challenges for the group.
2. Simple die roll: Roll once based on the programs and skills of the hacker against the security of the node. Benefit over 1:Presents some random element without overly distracting the game. Problem: Still trivializes matrix activity, and adds a host of house rules regarding how you resolve it.
3. Treat the Hacker as a PC:Beneift doesn't trivialize the Matrix. Problem: Means you might be spending more time on NPC vs NPC interaction than PC NPC interact. Of course you could always preroll his hack taking notes as to how long it takes and if he succeeds or fails.


Neraph
In my current group I'm using a R4 Agent and giving him orders as the hacker. 8 dice to hack, so far so good.
Loch
QUOTE (Neraph @ Jan 31 2012, 09:25 AM) *
In my current group I'm using a R4 Agent and giving him orders as the hacker. 8 dice to hack, so far so good.

I'd probably do this as well if I ever had to; maybe with buying hits to simplify some of the extended tests even further.
Bearclaw
Have six meets in a row where they clearly need a hacker and don't get the jobs without one. Keep doing it until some one agress to play a hacker :)
Makki
do Runs in Chicago, Laos or Geneva
CanRay
QUOTE (Makki @ Jan 31 2012, 12:35 PM) *
do Runs in Chicago, Laos or Geneva
Or Bogota.

Electronic Emissions-Targeting Fire-And-Forget Missiles are FUN!!! vegm.gif
Yerameyahu
I'd just play it out. If they don't have a hackerů they don't have one. How would people act in such a situation? Do that. smile.gif Maybe that means hiring a shadowy figure online, buying a hack-a-box, or just working out schemes that don't need the hacker (even if they're significantly worse scenarios).
CanRay
Hacker contacts can be your friends.

...

Aside from the obvious, that is.

OK, I don't know where I'm going with this.
Seriphen
The way I ended up dealing with this in my group was to use a contact of theirs as an NPC that I had on hand and pre-rolled some of the hacking rolls, so I knew how many hits he had and so forth. Then I let the three players make the decisions as to what they needed him to do. The character accompanied them on the run and they had to protect him and then give basic suggestions as to what they needed. If they needed him to hack into the security of the building, I then used the pre rolled numbers to figure out how long it took for him to complete the task. The players were happy with this suggestion as they were able to play the characters they wanted and the hacker was still able to do what was needed to complete the run.
CanRay
Hack-In-The-Box, good thing to have in a CommLink. biggrin.gif
OneTrikPony
I do this, (in any game) when the group wants to use a contact or npc extensively but no one want's to give up thier current character.

build a hacker character and throw the sheet in the middle of the table for the whole group to play. They'll decide when to use him, you can give them hints about what he can do and they'll learn how to use him pretty quickly. Before long the whole group will be familiar with the character and with the rules and eventually one or two of them will decide that they'd like to play a hacker character.

We also do this in our eclipsephase campaign as we rotate GM duties and the rest of the group gets to play our character by comity. It's actually kind of fun to watch other people play your character.
Snow_Fox
Until the 4th ed rules came along it was understood the hackers were always NPC's in our games. it by passed the slower decker/hacker rules and allowed a regular element for plot exposition.
Neurosis
It depends how much you like rolling dice, and how much you like rolling dice yourself.

You could:

A) Roll the dice between the NPC hacker and the NPC opposition to see if the hacker succeeds. (Takes time more time and doesn't engage the players.)
B) Have a player roll the dice for the NPC hacker and you roll the dice for the NPC opposition to see if the hacker succeeds. (Takes more time, engages the players, although might not be comfortable if all of the players REALLY, REALLY, REALLY don't want to play a hacker.)
C) Just handle it cinematically. (This takes the least time, but it's a toss-up whether the players will be more or less engaged, and it can be a hard line to walk between making the run too easy and too hard with too much auto-successes/failrues on the hacker's part.)

I have used all three and I don't have a particular preference, although I do prefer to have a PC hacker in the group.
Udoshi
The simplest way, and dare I saw, almost best way I've seen it done is to dice off between the NPC Hacker's Connection Rating vs the target node's Firewall.
Check for glitches, and go cinematic from there. Reroll every now and then if they have to do something, and maybe assign a bonus or a penalty to either side if someone is doing really well (like well enough to get admin access, or the team stole a security class login for the hacker beforehand)
(per strict rules the Connection would be a dice pool bonus to the hack attempt, but....)

If you're running an NPC hacker, its because you DONT want to deal with the Matrix bogging down the game, but at the same time you want to see how well they are doing and leave a random element to shake things up a little. Which probably means you want to roll something instead of just deciding how it plays out, but at the same time you want to keep it fast and not interrupting your narrative or the gameplay of your real players.
Basically its quick and easy and doesn't get in the way.
The Jake
QUOTE (Udoshi @ Jan 31 2012, 10:44 PM) *
The simplest way, and dare I saw, almost best way I've seen it done is to dice off between the NPC Hacker's Connection Rating vs the target node's Firewall.
Check for glitches, and go cinematic from there. Reroll every now and then if they have to do something, and maybe assign a bonus or a penalty to either side if someone is doing really well (like well enough to get admin access, or the team stole a security class login for the hacker beforehand)
(per strict rules the Connection would be a dice pool bonus to the hack attempt, but....)

If you're running an NPC hacker, its because you DONT want to deal with the Matrix bogging down the game, but at the same time you want to see how well they are doing and leave a random element to shake things up a little. Which probably means you want to roll something instead of just deciding how it plays out, but at the same time you want to keep it fast and not interrupting your narrative or the gameplay of your real players.
Basically its quick and easy and doesn't get in the way.


That's not too different to how I did it with the NPC hacker. I assigned him an arbitrary value of what I felt his average Hacking skill + Programs were and went from there. This simplified it but kept the test close to reality. I had him fully statted and could have easily handed his sheet to someone but there was never a need.

I like the idea of handing said sheet to the PCs but that means they need to overcome their initial fears around hacking, which isn't always easy. Or worse, zero interest at all.

- J.
snowRaven
QUOTE (Udoshi @ Jan 31 2012, 10:44 PM) *
The simplest way, and dare I saw, almost best way I've seen it done is to dice off between the NPC Hacker's Connection Rating vs the target node's Firewall.
Check for glitches, and go cinematic from there. Reroll every now and then if they have to do something, and maybe assign a bonus or a penalty to either side if someone is doing really well (like well enough to get admin access, or the team stole a security class login for the hacker beforehand)
(per strict rules the Connection would be a dice pool bonus to the hack attempt, but....)

If you're running an NPC hacker, its because you DONT want to deal with the Matrix bogging down the game, but at the same time you want to see how well they are doing and leave a random element to shake things up a little. Which probably means you want to roll something instead of just deciding how it plays out, but at the same time you want to keep it fast and not interrupting your narrative or the gameplay of your real players.
Basically its quick and easy and doesn't get in the way.


Yeah, this is pretty close to what I do whenever my players decide to use NPC hackers.
3278
QUOTE (Snow_Fox @ Jan 31 2012, 10:07 PM) *
Until the 4th ed rules came along it was understood the hackers were always NPC's in our games. it by passed the slower decker/hacker rules and allowed a regular element for plot exposition.

This is how it is for our groups, as well, with the exception that we still do this in SR4. I tried breaking the ice and playing a hacker, but I quickly came to realize I would absolutely rule the game if I kept playing, and so ditched him.
NiL_FisK_Urd
Yeah, optimized hackers either absolutely rule the game, or they have nothing to do and just sit around.
Midas
The group I GM also doesn't have a hacker per se, although the sammie is now becoming quite competent via an agent and a host of cracked software.

Some good suggestions from other posters should your group need the services of an NPC hacker. My players have used an NPC contact the times, but he always hacks remotely and he always charges them enough that they don't use him unless they absolutely have to ...
noonesshowmonkey
Luckily, SR4 makes figuring out how to abstract stuff pretty easy.

As other users have pointed out, you can do something like Rating x 2 as a dice pool, giving you somewhere between 8 and 10 dice. From there, if you want to add some flavor, give a bonus 2 dice to certain kinds of checks. Bang, instant hacker. Just doing that and using the basic Matrix rules can work.

If that takes too long, use the same mechanical outline as above but simplify the flow-chart a bit. Just do Hacking Pool vs Device Rating x 2, 2 passes per turn, each action is a complex action. Just abstract it from there. 'I trace the call.' 'I unlock the doors.' 'I turn off the alarm.'

I generally avoid spending more than one diceroll on NPC vs NPC related content, as that is not necessarily why we are playing.
Neurosis
QUOTE (Udoshi @ Jan 31 2012, 04:44 PM) *
The simplest way, and dare I saw, almost best way I've seen it done is to dice off between the NPC Hacker's Connection Rating vs the target node's Firewall.
Check for glitches, and go cinematic from there. Reroll every now and then if they have to do something, and maybe assign a bonus or a penalty to either side if someone is doing really well (like well enough to get admin access, or the team stole a security class login for the hacker beforehand)
(per strict rules the Connection would be a dice pool bonus to the hack attempt, but....)

If you're running an NPC hacker, its because you DONT want to deal with the Matrix bogging down the game, but at the same time you want to see how well they are doing and leave a random element to shake things up a little. Which probably means you want to roll something instead of just deciding how it plays out, but at the same time you want to keep it fast and not interrupting your narrative or the gameplay of your real players.
Basically its quick and easy and doesn't get in the way.


This is a solid simplification, although I'd possibly go with "Hacking Skill" rather than "Connection Rating" I could see arguments for both.

I'm sure I've done this approach or something very like it at least a few times while GMing.
Udoshi
QUOTE (Neurosis @ Feb 1 2012, 11:36 AM) *
This is a solid simplification, although I'd possibly go with "Hacking Skill" rather than "Connection Rating" I could see arguments for both.


The better solution is to do both. Best of either number. That way the player doesn't ever really get screwed out of effectiveness.

I'm glad this idea is as well-recieved as it has been!
snowRaven
QUOTE (Udoshi @ Feb 1 2012, 09:24 PM) *
The better solution is to do both. Best of either number. That way the player doesn't ever really get screwed out of effectiveness.

I'm glad this idea is as well-recieved as it has been!


Yeah, that's what I've done actually - Connection+Skill
Udoshi
Sorry. I meant Best Of Connections OR Skill.

That way the player doesn't really get screwed by having a connections of 1 - the hacker contact still has a skill of like 3-4 or something.

If you're rolling connections+skill, then you probably want to oppose it with System+Firewall so its more even.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012