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JudgeIto78
Hey everyone,

First off, I'm sure this has been asked and done a million times before. I did a search and could not find anything within the last 2 months about it, so I feel safe asking. Here's my problem...

I have never made a cybered character before, let alone a decker. I have been recently thrown into the role (somewhat willingly) and I'm am trudging through the matrix rules in the Core book as well as the Matrix source. While the thing reads like a Linux code book in ancient Sumerian to me, I am trying to figure out what exactly the basic components (besides deck and datajack) that I will need to be a competent starting decker?

This means what other cyberware, programs, etc, I should be buying and what rating to buy them at. So far I have a custom deck (basically the difference b/w a Renraku Kraftwerk and a CMT Avatar; due to availability issues) an induction jack, and a Math SPU (b/c Encephelon was bit too much money and essence cost, but still rating 3).

Any suggestions or ideas for which way I should be heading would be helpful.

Also, I was wondering whether you all thought that the flaw of "Combat Paralysis" would apply to matrix combat as well.

Thanks in advance
mfb
the first piece of cyber you want, besides a datajack, is a math SPU. it's cheap, it's low essence, and you add its rating directly to your hacking pool. other than that, there's really not much that you need--if you have the cash, grab an encephalon, but don't sweat it if you can't.

for programs, the first thing you need is a Sleaze program at the highest rating you can get (your MPCP is the limit). Sleaze makes it hard for systems to detect you when you're doing bad things. Deception is next, also max rating; Deception gets you into systems--if you can't get in, you can't do anything.

after that, a Validate program is probably your best bet. Validate lets you make false accounts on a host, which in turn lets you perform all kinds of operations without being spotted, and also raises the TN to hit you in cybercombat. if you do get into combat, you'll want a decent attack program (5M is probably all you need, for starters), an Armor program (max this out if possible), and maybe a Shield program. at that point, you're probably out of cash. if not, pick up a decent Cloak program; Cloak lets you escape cybercombat, which is really handy.

those are pretty much the basics, off the top of my head.
FlakJacket
A thread you might find useful is the Idiot's Guide To The Matrix. It also links through to a number of other matrix related topics as well.
Large Mike

Are we forgetting Read/Write? And how's a guy to take over an elevator without the proper proggies?
TransistorRadio
A slightly older thread, here, contains a fairly good walk through of decking different systems, the symbology, and the rolls involved. It's a long thread, but a good read.

Do you have access to the Matrix book or are you going pureing BBB? The reason I ask is some of the mods you can perform even on a basic budget (like pure DNI vs no, etc).

What is the theme of your character? How does she/she/they approach the Matrix?

[EDIT] looks like someone already beat me to the thread link. Oh well. [/EDIT]
mfb
if you can validate a user-level account, you can read and write or control an elevator without a program.
Large Mike

I suppose you have a point. You'll just have to excuse my School, it has some dust on it.
Kesh
I suppose that makes sense. If you get an account validated, it's better than having to attempt read/write rolls every time you want to do something.
JudgeIto78
QUOTE (TransistorRadio)
Do you have access to the Matrix book or are you going pureing BBB? The reason I ask is some of the mods you can perform even on a basic budget (like pure DNI vs no, etc).

What is the theme of your character? How does she/she/they approach the Matrix?

Hey, just got back from a movie, sorry about late reply:

First off, thanks for all the responses, mfb in particular, for letting me get the basics...

Second, I have access to pretty much all the books, including Core, Companion, Matrix, and I guess the Johnson's Little Black Book has some quick matrix rules we may use to "speed up" the hacking when on runs. So let me know what mods you want me to look at and I'll do so.

As for the theme of my character, I pretty much want her to be a "club dj/decker" who just happens to Shadowrun on the side. Complete rave/club culture seeker in search of truth and finding who will pay the most for it. nuyen.gif nuyen.gif nuyen.gif

Oh, and for a visual... I'm basing her on Morgan Webb love.gif

Let me know if you need more info
Kagetenshi
QUOTE (mfb @ Feb 13 2005, 09:31 PM)
if you can validate a user-level account, you can read and write or control an elevator without a program.

Unlikely. There's a good chance that Security-level access would be required to manipulate the elevators in any way more powerful than pressing the buttons remotely, and even remote calls probably wouldn't be implemented most places.

~J
Eyeless Blond
Analyze and Browse are important ones too. Without them you won't even be able to find the host or subsystem you need to cheat--I mean Validate--your way into.
mfb
only if the GM customizes the account types, kage. i do, but i'm probably one of the few. according to the basic account info in Matrix, though, Control Slave is a personal-level operation.

with any luck, the next matrix update will introduce some down sides to decking with a valid account, so Validate won't be the only program most deckers need anymore.

you don't need to locate subsystems, though--you can't locate a subsystem, as a matter of fact. once you've validated an account, Locate Access Node is a freebie.
Kagetenshi
Control Slave is clearly marked with an asterisk, though, signaling to the GM to consider if the operation in question will be automatic for any given instance; automatic Read/Write doesn't give you the admin's mailbox, for instance. While a particularly lenient GM might allow it, I'd suggest that it's not unreasonable to consider it not working the most likely behavior.

Incidentally, for anyone who cares I made houserules for validate such that the Validate program can only be used on the main list of users, after some Searches, possibly some jumps to different hosts depending on where such data is kept, and potentially a Decrypt or Read/Write test is made. It's still an extremely powerful option, but one now faces the question as to whether it is more effective to straight deck or try to hack an account. Under the current rules, anything but a single test is a no-brainer.

~J
Eyeless Blond
QUOTE (mfb)
you don't need to locate subsystems, though--you can't locate a subsystem, as a matter of fact. once you've validated an account, Locate Access Node is a freebie.

Right, but I seriously doubt that many people are prepared to validate an account on each and every host in a tiered system, so browse is almost certainly still useful. As is Analyze, in particular for recognizing VMs and trapdoors.
mfb
sure, validate's not going to be the only program you ever have to use, and it's going to be less useful on hardcore systems. but for a starting decker, it's really just about the only thing he needs.
JudgeIto78
Yeah, so umm...

I have no idea what anyone above is saying or talking about, but I'm just going to use mfb's first post as a guidline and see what my GM says about it.

Is there anything else I may need?

Also, did anyone have an answer for the flaw question I originally posted?

Thanks again
mfb
i'd say no.
Kagetenshi
I'd say it probably would or, if not, then the flaw would cost less.

~J
tisoz
Since it comes out and says it applies to cybercombat...
mfb
does it? guess i'd say yes, then.
JudgeIto78
I didn't know whether "Cybercombat" meant Matrix battles or combat with cyberwear. Guess that clears it...

and mfb, I couldn't find the "validate" program anywhere, what book and pg is it on?

Thanks
Jrayjoker
It is in Matrix, in the utilities section. I don't have it with me right now though, sorry.
Kagetenshi
Validate is in Matrix, Page 71.

~J
Jrayjoker
So sayeth the source.
mfb
matrix, page--damn!
Jrayjoker
Analyze, read/write, sleaze, decrypt, armor, attack (S), attack (M), spoof. all at the maximum rating you can afford. And if you can't afford it, sell a kidney.
mfb
why two attack programs?
Jrayjoker
Absolutely, there are IC out there (tar pits) that will erase all copies of a given utility from active and storage memory. Does your sammie or physad go into battle without a backup weapon?
Kagetenshi
Most of that is in places where you shouldn't be going at chargen.

~J
Slash_Thompson
QUOTE (Kagetenshi)
Most of that is in places where you shouldn't be going at chargen.

~J



As a GM, that's usually where I send new deckers first.. wink.gif

but then- since most of my players in every game I run are either new to RPG's entirely (the best kind of new player) or new to Shadowrun (only played that other game) I've found it's usually necessary to rough them up a bit at the beginning, to teach proper caution.

I also pitch runs at them via fixers or johnsons that they should walk away from, but then that requires writing at least two runs ahead of time (which might be as little as two pages of notes instead one- depending on how much prep you do)
mfb
point. that's a lot of memory, though. and, yeah, i don't normally throw tar pits at deckers until they've got a few runs under their belt.
hahnsoo
QUOTE (Jrayjoker @ Feb 14 2005, 02:01 PM)
Analyze, read/write, sleaze, decrypt, armor, attack (S), attack (M), spoof. all at the maximum rating you can afford. And if you can't afford it, sell a kidney.

Append to that Browse. You can't steal something if you can't find it.

If you are using the Matrix Searches rules (highly recommended), you will want a rating 2 Agent program equipped with a Browse 6+ (rating 6 Agent only if you can afford it). The majority of a decker's work is probably in the realm of legwork, so you will be doing a lot of searches. You will also want Etiquette: Matrix of 5 or higher. Having the local Shadowland Node as a contact (Level 2 Contact) or some other datahavens are almost a must.

A chipjack for slotting the occasional professional knowledge skill about a specific subject can be valuable in searches.

If you plan on using the Matrix rules for building your own decks, you will want Cyberterminal Design Knowledge skill at a high rating, a high rating Chip Encoder, and a Microtronics Shop (minimum). If you are programming your own utilities, you will want a personal computer with a TON of memory and the various Program Design Knowledge Skills.

Cyberwise, you will want an Encephalon 2 and Math SPU 3 to add to your hacking pool. Cerebral Boosters and the Encephalon will help you in the long run when upgrading your Computer skill, as well as one level of Mneumonic Enhancers. Ignore the cranial cyberdecks unless you plan on making that your character concept.
Kagetenshi
Encephalon is not worth it at chargen most of the time. Get everything else, and if you still have money for the encephalon at the end go for it, don't make it a priority.

After chargen, though, if you ever find yourself with the cash it's a good buy.

~J
hahnsoo
QUOTE (Kagetenshi)
Encephalon is not worth it at chargen most of the time. Get everything else, and if you still have money for the encephalon at the end go for it, don't make it a priority.

After chargen, though, if you ever find yourself with the cash it's a good buy.

~J

Yeah, in our games, it's REALLY hard to scrape up the cash for the encephalon (even with Paydata), which is why our deckers generally get it at character gen. I do agree that it has limited utility compared to the moneysaver that is the Math SPU (although it gives other relevant bonuses for deckers such as increased intelligence for the purposes of increasing your Intelligence-linked skills and Task Pool for B/R and Knowledge tests).
Kagetenshi
Even if you can't expect to ever be able to get the encephalon if you don't take it at chargen, I'd suggest thinking twice.

~J
JudgeIto78
Also, wouldn't it be kinda hard to role-play getting one of those bad boys installed?

"Hey guys, just going into surgery to get a tasking sub-computer grafted to my brain... see ya monday!"

Kinda strange to me, in character I mean indifferent.gif

Maybe I will try to get an encephelon at chargen, we'll see how much money is left after programs and such.
The White Dwarf
Mathspu and datajack are both key cyberware components. I also usually take some memory with a rating 2 datacompressor, and a few other small pieces of headware but theyre by no means required; same for the encephlon.

For programs, attack browse analyze sleaze deception spoof read/write validate are all must haves. Just buy them, when you start playing theyll show up on tests you want to make. Also, armor shields decrypt defuse evaluate cloak are all good buys if you have the cash. If you find yourself getting into combat a lot, restore medic are both worthwhile but its better to avoid combat than just fight and heal.

For a deck, sounds like you have an okay one. If youre building it custom be sure it has tons of memory. Like double what the base decks have. With enough memory you never have to swap programs, which saves you a) time and b) tests that could result in security tally.

Also, besides a Computer skill of 6 (duh) be sure you have Etiquette:Matrix skill of 5 or higher. This is the skill thats used for generic matix searches, and at 5+ the tests become easier. Get it to 7 if you can, it will only help. Access to databases and matrix-based contacts can also help, see the Matrix book for details.

And just because youre a decker, dont wind up with body 3 and pistols 2, get a decent gun some body and some armor, youll get shot at like everyone else the first time you cant remotely hack a system.
Kagetenshi
Why strange? I'd do it.

I think surgery/recovery times are a bit longer, though.

Incidentally, I'm going to disagree that Attack is a must-have. Other people play differently, of course, but I've found that while your DF is still relatively low Graceful Logoff is usually the best response to hostile IC.

~J
hahnsoo
QUOTE (Kagetenshi)
Even if you can't expect to ever be able to get the encephalon if you don't take it at chargen, I'd suggest thinking twice.

~J

Why is that? It costs 115,000 nuyen for a rating 2. It gives +2 Hacking Pool, +2 Task Pool (vital for the Do-it-yourself decker), and +2 to Intelligence for the purpose of increasing your ever-important Computer skill. Most of a decker's downtime is spent programming (at least, in our games), which is augmented by Task Pool, not Hacking Pool (making the Math SPU essentially worthless in those situations). Not to mention how useful Task Pool is on a B&E run (Electronics, Electronics B/R, etc.).

It's a choice, for sure, between long run vs. short run. If you took 400,000 nuyen or less in resources, sure you'll want to sack most things in favor of your cyberdeck (since you don't have all that much money to spend), as that will help you the most in the short run. If you took the million or 650,000 nuyen under the points system, you'd probably should pick up the things that will help you in the long run.
mfb
your first response to hostile IC should be Evade Detection. that should buy you enough time to do what you need to to and scoot. fighting IC is rarely worth it, like kage said.
Fortune
QUOTE
Also, wouldn't it be kinda hard to role-play getting one of those bad boys installed?

"Hey guys, just going into surgery to get a tasking sub-computer grafted to my brain... see ya monday!"

Kinda strange to me, in character I mean


Why would that be any stranger than getting any other implant 'in-game'? Admittedly the recovery time would be a little longer than overnight.
JudgeIto78
Good points, but like I said at the beginning, I have never run a cybered character before and I'm not used to getting implants in my down time. I did take 1 million in chargen, so the enchephelon will probably be doable if the programs don't get too costly.

Couple more questions from this dialog:

1) You can have matrix hosts/nodes as contacts?

2) I'm trying to think of a cool handle/icon name for this character. Any ideas?
** (see my post above for character concept) **

Thanks
The White Dwarf
From the sound of things you can make encephlon fit, bonus go for it.

You cant take hosts/nodes as contacts per se, but theres certain ones that are exceptions. The Shadowland node is one, theres a few others in target:matrix and matrix to give you ideas. Another option is to take some knowledge skills like "datahavens 4" or "corportate databases 3" or something, that you could roll to find an appropriate one to aid in a search.
hahnsoo
QUOTE (JudgeIto78)
1) You can have matrix hosts/nodes as contacts?

2) I'm trying to think of a cool handle/icon name for this character. Any ideas?
** (see my post above for character concept) **

Thanks

1) Most data havens (i.e. a regional Shadowland) are Level 2 Contacts. The Nexus is a Level 3 Contact. I'd also rule that you could get Level 1 contacts that represent certain private databases (like the old Fuchi personnel records or something).

2) Our group's way of coming up with street names is naming the character in-game for something they have done or some in-game RP conflict. Our most recent example is a real witch of a girl (who is played by a very sweet and talented artist IRL) who we dubbed "Buster", because she always seemed to be busting the balls of the male members of the group.
hahnsoo
QUOTE (The White Dwarf @ Feb 14 2005, 04:12 PM)
You cant take hosts/nodes as contacts per se, but theres certain ones that are exceptions.  The Shadowland node is one, theres a few others in target:matrix and matrix to give you ideas.  Another option is to take some knowledge skills like "datahavens 4" or "corportate databases 3" or something, that you could roll to find an appropriate one to aid in a search.

From Matrix, p 128:
QUOTE
In addition to NPC Matrix contacts, characters can also purchase as Matrix contacts underground archives and data havens such as Shadowland(see p. 65, SRComp). Generally, such services count as Level 2 contacts for purposes of contact upkeep (the infamous Nexus and similar high-level sources may count as a Level 3 at the gamemasterís discretion). These contact purchase and upkeep costs represent the knowledge and codes needed to find and access the site, as well as the time and effort to keep such knowledge current.


Just FYI.
Fortune
Paying 200 Grand at chargen to have the Nexus as a Contact is inane. Shadowland has everything you need.
mfb
if you're a typical decker, your handle ought to be a clever pun.
Sokei
Hey judge, i would say your handle will probably on the matrix would be up to you but in game if you want an alias or nickname im going to let the group come up with them (thanks goes to hahnsoo for the great idea, it will help characters grow on each other ). Much like you did for our shapeshifter, what was the name you called him , fluffymuchkins or some crap like that? btw hes still plotting your down fall for that name smile.gif
JudgeIto78
Hey now,

I just called him "Mr. Kitty-Fantastico" or Fluffy McSnuggums, why does that equal automatic downfall? nyahnyah.gif

Besides, what else would I call 10 ft long white tiger shifter? (Behind his back, that is)

Still thinking of a matrix handle though, went to a random name generator for it with little help.. hmmm
Sokei
Fluffy McSnuggums, now thats what i was looking for.
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