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Following the soon-to-be death of my character in a PnP campaign, I'm presently working thorugh the numbers of his successor. The GM has specifically stated that there are to be no decker-only characters (as any hardcore decking will be done by npcs so no single character sucks up half the game time). However, seeing as my new character background looks like a mix between face and gunbunny, with a cover identity as bounty hunter (for all those nice permits for wholesale destruction), it made sense to give her some skill with computers.

So to negate those nasty search penalties, what would a character on a budget with (semi)legal access to nice things like the LS criminal database, shadowland, the automobile transponder library and city hall building permits databases need?

Her int is at 7, she has a computer(information searches) 3(6) skill and 41k to burn.

What I got so far is:
Allegiance Sigma
Hardening: 1
Active mem: 200
Storeage mem: 500
Free Mem: 213
I/O: 100
Rea: 7
Ini: 1
Response: 0
Bod: 3
Eva: 2
Mas: 1
Sen: 3

Smart Frames, Agents etc:
Agent Core rating [3]
+ Browse rating [3]

Browse [3]
Decryption [3]

With a Spoof[3] to be the first thing written during downtime.

Is this a sensible selection for quick information retreival (and the occasional planting), or am I on the wrong track entirely here?
Well, I wouldn't recommend doing any real decking with that thing. Aside from that, it seems pretty adequate for searching.

Things to consider:

1) Your search times will be double the listed values. If you got a deck with MPCP 4 and response increase 1, then run pure DNI, some GMs may let you avoid the search time penalty as if you had two levels of response increase. (As pure DNI emulates 1 level of response increase)

2) Giving your agent a browse rating six program would lower TNs by another -1, but it's not essential.

3) Why all the other utilities? Honestly, all you really need to run a matrix search is a working computer. Browse 6 would help, but would be overly expensive for what you want. With your computer skill and specialization, I assume you're going to only do matrix searches, and no real hacking. MPCP 3 is really too low to hack into anything worth hacking into. (Which covers planting information in most databases). So I'd suggest perhaps dropping those excess programs and getting that MPCP 4 deck (if your GM will allow the DNI to emulate response increase.)

4) Ettiquette Matrix 5+ would drop your TNs by another -1.

5) What do you mean by quick information retrieval? You couldn't hack a database, but you could search through any you had access to, no prob.
you might be better off skipping the deck entirely, getting an agent at rating 6+, and loading it up with utilities.
Wouldn't I need a deck for running the agent?

The reason I got the deck with gadgets is that I'd like a little flexibility for "just-in-case" instances. Plus, just because the character has legal access to a system doesn't necessairely mean she'd want everyone on it to see what she's doing. I were looking for the most MPCP I could get, yes. Sadly, the jump from mpcp 3 to mpcp 4 is also a jump from a 14k Allegiance Sigma to a 70k Sony CTY. Which is outside the 40k I had leftover after paying thorugh the nose for a synth. cyberforearm with gadgets :/
Well, the problem is your detection factor is 2. Anything you do will be obvious to almost any system if you perform any illegal actions. On top of that, it's the TN for the system to oppose you. With that deck, it will be almost impossible to do any decking at all--the system will cancel your successes, and raise the security tally all at once. So sadly, your searches will almost have to be legal / authorized. On the bright side, you can take a modifier (+2 I think) to do a search on the downlow, so it's not as noticeable to one and all. It ups the TN for the wrong party test from 6 to 10.

As for the agent, it can only accept commands from an authorized persona--but you have a persona even with a tortoise, really. And while no deck can run a program higher than it's MPCP, it's debatable wheter agents are really run--really, they never enter active memory, and are just uploaded directly to the matrix.

So basically, I'll be better off buying the worlds cheapest cyberterminal and splashing al the money on SOTA agents?
It depends. I think combining a search with an agent is a good idea. Using Agents to do all your hacking is dicey. They're smart for programs, but not too bright--and as mfb mentioned in another post, they should be highly specialized. If an agent gets traced, the trace will lead the tracers to you. Other than that, I don't really have much knowledge of agents except in a theoretical sense. I've never actually used a Frame / Agent outside of an information search or as an additional program caddy.
Note that you cannot run a utility with a rating above the MPCP (p 206 BBB). So a Browse 6 or an Agent 6 won't be feasible without a cyberdeck MPCP of at least 6. If all you are going to do is Matrix Searches, you technically only need a good browse program and some agent/frames.

I'd spend 10k on purchasing the local Shadowland node for a -2 to your General searches.
you don't need to run the agent, though. all you have to do is upload it--you could carry one around in headware memory, and load it into an onsite cyberterminal. agents are the next-best thing to s-k's, and are comparable to robots from R3. you can give one a task and reasonably expect the agent to complete it, if its within the agent's capabilities (ie, it has the required programs and the subsystem values aren't higher than a similarly-equipped decker could expect to defeat).
The White Dwarf
Using that deck for anything would be synonymous to trying to rob Fort Knox with a cap gun.

My advice is dont buy it, save the cash, build yourself a deck during gameplay, invest in some real hardware/software, and then actually be capable of what you want.

Realisitically if you want to be able to primarily run searches well, and be able to deck if you have to, youre looking at a MPCP-6 deck, with response increase 1 and pure DNI, an Agent with Browse 6, and running Browse 6, Sleaze 6, and a few other basics programs like analyze, deception, etc. Also be sure you have Etiquette:Matrix at 5 or higher, and take a contact like Shadowland.

If you just want to run searches alone, you can get by on far less at MPCP-4, response increase 1 and pure DNI, browse 4, agent with browse 4, and the skill/contact trimmings.

Just remember that for searching, you want to maximize your odds of rolling successes, and minimize the time requirement. For actual decking you not only need enough skill/programs to succeed but also enough detection factor and speed that you dont autofail or trigger all the IC. Searching aint so bad but decking has some stringint minimums you need or you get eaten alive.
Eyeless Blond
Hm, interesting. Though it does seem rather odd that you can buy a rating 1 Agent for 1,000 nuyen, slap a Browse 1 on him for 100 nuyen more, and get a -3 to all matrix searches. Seems a little cheap to me, particularly as to get another -2 it costs roughly 75,000 nuyen.gif more.
Necro Tech
An imporatant rule not to forget. When doing matrix searches, you can use your extra successes to gather more info OR reduce the time, not both. Either get a lot slowly or a little fast.
Frames only assist your search, they don't substitute for a sitting down and putting in time with a cyberdeck. So you would need a cyberdeck along with the frame.
you can split your successes, i thought.
i have allso allways read testes where you can use successes to either reduce time taken or improve result that you could (if you have say 10 successes) use 5 to cut down time and 5 to improve result.
i have allso allways read testes


Are the matrix search rules only used where you have legal access to the databases (paid a subscription or whatever)? I thought they were sort of a quick resolution instead of decking the whole search.
ok so maybe the line was anything but readable, didnt get much sleep so my head is on "standby"...
Hmm... Seems I get to use the remaining money on contacts instead, and make first priority stealing a decent deck then. :/ Ah well.
QUOTE (Link)
Are the matrix search rules only used where you have legal access to the databases (paid a subscription or whatever)? I thought they were sort of a quick resolution instead of decking the whole search.

I view matrix searches as a massive metasearch of legal databases and pay-to-view databases for general searches, and specific public/private legal databases on specific searches, much like a weaker version of Info Sortilage for otaku. You are simply able to cull the relevant points from a massive amount of data... for example, extrapolating the level of security of a complex based on reading the public accounting (including examining hidden costs). The fees for standard and complex searches reflect how much you have to pay the "experts" to look at the data and acquiring licenses or socially engineering access to the databases.

Matrix searches should probably not give you paydata or the plot-important information, but they should point your decker into the right direction and give general intel about a situation.
matrix searches are basically the decker version of legwork. treat the successes the same way you would if your characters were asking around on the street about a given subject.
Necro Tech
QUOTE (mfb)
you can split your successes, i thought.

You can, usually most people are only going to have 4-6 dice to work with. To get the maximum bonus you need 5 successes on your reults leaving you with little to nothing to improve time. This can be a problem because a bad roll on the detailed search can cost 1800 nuyen.gif and take days.
ah. right. i forgot how difficult searches can be for mere mortals. the otaku i often use for searches has 8 dice and all of the TN reductions; also, info sortilage. she is a four-year-old human google.
So if you only use 1 success to shorten the time, does it do nothing? Is it mandatory to use one success to shorten the time (1 week divided by 0 successes = eternity)?
no, you don't have to reduce the base time. at least, that's not how i'd rule it.
I'd go with 1 Success giving you basic Info at base time more success's can be put either way.
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