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The White Dwarf
So I wound up taking a break from the forums for like, over a month or something. SR4 was new and shiney then. Came back today, after the campaign I was running ended due to scheduling travesties that could only have been the result of a right wing communist plot spearheaded by none other than Lofwyrs evil twin brother and his cabal of evil runners, and seems not much new has been released regarding info on this.

Seems theyre changing things to an attribute+skill vs set tn setup. Which would solve some of the statistical anomolies, shall we say, about some of the more common tn situations (+2 tn isnt always the same statistical change, smartlink is godly, etc) but also eliminates that "tuning" ability the tns had. Any word on the specifics here, regarding defaulting and skill levels and such? Seems like a rather generalized setup.

Seems that decking and rigging are being completely redone? I saw in some other threads a GiTS-like change? I suppose this could be cool if done right, as 'hacking someones eyes' was always pretty freaking cool but like, no more decks? Any word on exactly whats happening here?

Also saw dice pools / karma pool were being done away with. Thats a big /sadface. Those didnt have anything to do with the statistic problems that did, as much as people could work around it, drastically affect some areas of gameplay. Kinda seems unneeded even with the tn-workaround setup. I also saw some posts talkin about this changing the need to plan and 'ration' yourself which was a really great aspect of the game and genre, being able to "bust a move" or use some pool to do what a non-cyberpunk character could only gape in awe at. Kinda hope they go back in.

And I saw 1 mention of no more multiple action initiatives, like it was going to be a random order round like DnD or something. This for real? I mean, dang, I hope not. Initiative had its flaws but it wasnt that bad, and the 5-phase split workaround ppl posted awhile back was pure genious if you were gonna change things up. I dunno what to say.

I guess what Im hoping to see is a complied post of what all we know is going to go into or outof the system. Im sure the world/flavor will stay much the same, as its the same setting and name and company and all, but like what about the mechanics that drove the charcters threw the world. And like, what about cyberware and essence and magic, those been mentioned? Any alternate way of dealing with this or sorta gonna be cut and paste or what? Seems with bluetooth tech and some other things, a few pieces of ware will need some changes while others could just cut n paste, but with the new attribute setup how will essence and magic work; considering youd now have to add them to stuff for dice rolls... I think?

Anyhow, comments - updates - thoughts appriciated. Sorta wanna get back into the loop soon here with Gen Con rolling up. Thanks.
You can get all the same official info we've been chewing on, just by checking out the FAQs and updates on It'd probably be the best way for you to get the hard data (instead of someone on here who's already formed an opinion one way or another trying to get you up-to-date with their own colored/slanted views of the changes thus far).
The White Dwarf
Yea I did that, of course, but it wasnt very specific. Plus people on boards tend to do things like read playtester posts or translate german. I checked out some of it but it was too hard to sift through it all, especially with ppl voiceing their concerns (which is justified, ppl invest time and stuff into their games, just makes distilling info hard).

And I dont mind a little bit of a slanted view, most ppl here are in the same boat as me looking at this from the perspective of having played SR3, possibly SR2 or 1, and wondering whats gonna come out heh. A little insight isnt bad as long as its made known up front. Id really like to see what ppl interpret this stuff as meaning, ya know, rather than just "attribute A and skill B merged, X changed to Y, no more deck" ... I mean obviously some folks thought about whats gonna affect what here; as long as its kept clear from the basic update info.
People can't agree on how to interpret the changes, so there isn't much better of a "summary" than wading through all the past posts.

There's a lot of stuff on dice mechanics, and those are some of the more relevant threads since we actually know what the basic mechanic will be and therefore can study how it will work and where it will break.

To summarize about 500 posts on the topic, I think the general points being made are that the fixed TN will make some tasks truly impossible (if you have small numbers of dice and some penalties and require more than one success against the fixed TN to accomplish the task) unless the dice explode (i.e. you roll again for more successes if you get a 6); that it's hard to have statistical reliability with the fixed TN system; that it's hard to have penalties of a fixed number of dice that work well for people with low skill/attribute and that still make sense for people with high skill/attribute; and that changing the number of dice to roll and then picking out 5s and 6s is easier than a variable TN-based system (although I confess I can't understand why this is).

All of these points are contested. Some people maintain that there will always be enough dice to enable success; others maintain that impossible actions are fine; others think this will be a problem. Some people think statistical reliability is unnecessary, some think there will be enough dice to generate reliability, some think that there will be extra mechanisms to generate reliability, and some think it will be a problem. Some people think that variable TN penalties don't work well with the TN6=TN7 thing while changing numbers of dice is fine, some think that penalties of 3 dice->1 die are a more severe penalty than 12 dice->10 dice and that will cause even bigger problems. Some people don't have any trouble assigning TN penalties and rolling accordingly; some people are glad to get away from it.

(Points regarding dice pools are contested too. Some people say that SR3 dice pools add nothing and take time and they're glad to see them gone, while others say that careful, tactical use of pool results in superior and interesting outcomes. As someone who makes careful, tactical use of pools, I have to wonder what the other group is doing, but the point remains that you can find arguments on both sides of the issue--or at least statements of affinity for one side or the other--on other threads.)

There's a lot more, and probably some important points that I've forgotten.
Eyeless Blond
Ellery's pretty much got it. Most of the rest of the posts on the board here are trying to speculate on what the mechanics will be for the new edition, because frankly other than the single fact that variable TNs are being replaced by a fixed TN of 5 and varied thresholds we reallly don't have much else to go on. Oh sure, we know that Intelligence and Quickness are being split up, that Magic is going to be bought point-for-point, and that there will be another attribute called Edge that will kinda-sorta represent Karma Pool, we think, but so little has been released about any of it that no reliable conclusions can be drawn, so those who still care are reduced to wild conjecture.

Oh, there is one more piece of "information" you can get from these boards: The German Fanpro newsletter that had some details on the new Matrix chapter, or at least the introduction. Unfortunately it's been translated badly--by machine, twice--so not a whole lot of it makes sense, though M$T1C makes a good try in the thread I linked. For the most part though there's little concrete there either, other than the fact that decks have shrunk to the size of PDAs, wireless networking is everywhere (implied: everywhere important), and the Otaku are going to be in the core book.
In summary: We don't know shit.
Except that they're getting rid of variable TNs, modifiers now add or subtract from the die pool directly, there are no longer player-controlled "tactical" pools, there's no longer a karma pool, a few attributes are being split up, and there's still five major metaspecies (and pregenerated characters!) available to us as PC's, used to commit crimes.
Yeah, I still don't see why that was put in the FAQ. It felt more like a slap than an answer.
The White Dwarf
Thanks tons guys, thats exactly the kinda thing I was looking for. Good ol' dumpshock, how Ive missed thee.

The new-dice-pool thing is kinda interesting, seems its going to have its own statistical breakdown areas just like tns did. Hopefully they can like, playtest around it, or something. The +2/-2 dice thing is going to have the same staggered statistical results the +2/-2 tn thing did; maybe lesser or greater in inpact, but the point is it will still not be evenly applied. As much as I want to totally crush the d20 system, they do have the +2 is a +2 is a +2 thing down pat.

Seems itll also make new "breakpoints" for stats which will change how characters are made, if you want to be sure to get 2 successes on average an attribute of 4 and a skill of 4 should do it, where as before youd need a skill of 5 or 6 to reliably succeed on a semi difficult task. Perhaps the lower skill reqs will make up for the lack of pool dice to add. Racial modifers will probably have to be redone a little as well, otherwise those trolls are going to wind up in the olympics by default heh.

Seems my rather uneasy sense of impending doom, that usually sinks in just before charging into the room you know will be full of armed goons with held actions, isnt unfounded. Heres hoping that it comes out better than it seems with only part of the information =/
Crimsondude 2.0
Hmm... I think you should have a skill of 5 or 6 to reasonably succeed on a semi-difficult task. Otherwise, they're not semi-difficult. I also think that relativity for TN mods (e.g., the utility of -2 for someone with Pistols 1 vs. Pistols 17) is a good thing. Apparently, I'm crazy though.
But d20 doesn't have +2 is +2 is +2 at all. That's one of the biggest weaknesses of the d20 system.

If your DC goes from 18 to 20 (+2) (and you're just rolling a bare d20 with no bonuses), then you are only one third as likely to succeed. If it goes from 20 to 22, then either, the task becomes completely impossible or isn't any harder at all. If your DC goes from 8 to 10, however, then you're 85% as likely to succeed as before.

This matters when you are, say, fighting a horde of kobolds. If you can get up to where they have to roll 20 to hit you by wearing a ring of protection +2, you can last 3x longer (and therefore kill 3x more kobolds); whereas if you wear that same ring unarmored, you die just about as fast whether you have it on or not. (Which, if you're high level, may be many minutes since they have to hit you so many times.)

Variable TN systems are the best at preserving what a +2 means on average; they don't have really bad systematic flaws. They typically do have glitches around where you jump to the next die (although d4 where you add 3 each time you roll a 4 is pretty smooth), but once you get past the glitch, the system starts working again. Whereas in other systems, once it breaks it stays broken until you get back in the right range again.
The White Dwarf
Eh, depends on how you look at it. That 18 to 20 change is a 10% change in potential success results, same as a 10 to 12 is. In other words, a +2 is always a 10% shift on a random occurance with 20 possible solutions. Comparativly it can shift your relative chance, but the change in absolute chance is always constant.

Like a SR3 version smartlink might change a tn from 5 to 3 (33% chance to 66% chance, or double) or it might change it from 8 to 6 (6% chance to a 17% chance, or about triple). In both the SR examples the proportional change is again different relative to your old and new odds, but the absolute change is non-constant as well. This is why probability can get confusing, the relative chances dont really matter its the absolute change which is the benefit to you on that die roll. If I explained that clearly, heh. But anyway, thats why SR had several statistical areas where the system broke down, such as opposed tests, smartlink being huge, called shots and damage tests, etc.

(small edit, I really didnt explain this super clear. What I mean is, two characters in SR might benefit differently from a smartlink, like a pistol user may have a higher base tn than a rifle user, so will gain less in raw percentage from the tn change. In d20 both people gain the same raw percentage. The relative [old chance to new chance] proportions differ in both cases, but the raw % changes differ only in a tn system. That should be a bit clearer)

Of course, this doesnt mean the new system will be immune to that, but hopefully itll get mitigated some. Since the tn can no longer change, # of successes is the only thing to delineate really hard stuff from really easy stuff. Id expect a new table with like 1-2 successes is easy, 2-4 is moderate, 5-6 hard, etc like the tn table only for successes. So that you simply cant do hard things without enough dice (ie, attribute and skill). Just like you couldnt really do them in SR due to really high tns. Of course you could ahve the god roll and make it, but the new system might have something similar, who knows. Itll be interesting to see, tho the more I think about its theoretical application, the more and mroe loopholes I see that will only mirror the current problems.

Then again, this side of things, the mechanics, and the character engineering, are some of the things I enjoy most about playing different games. Cant say Im looking forward to it but Ill probably give it a read just to see another way of doing things if nothing else.
The example with kobolds shows how meaningless a 10% absolute change in success can be in terms of the outcome of the game.

Likewise, once you go above 20, or drop below 1, you're not getting 10% absolute change per +-2 any more, you're getting no change at all, because you've run out of percentage.

TN8 is a (5/6)*(1/6) = 5/36 = 14% chance, by the way.

It's not completely uniform, I'll admit. It would be more uniform if they used d4 and added 3 every time you got a 4, or rerolled on 5 or 6 (and added 4), or somesuch. But the system leaves you with modest errors all over the place instead of huge, insurmountable errors any time you stray from the central range where the system works.
The White Dwarf
It can be meaningless in some examples, its still the same each step. As for going outside 20, well thats just the boundries of that system being on a set scale, ie a die. Its going to be true of any die rolling mechanism that doesnt involve exploding or rerolling, its not some flaw of d20.

Sry bout the math there, its late just hit a wrong key on the calc and didnt notice. Example still holds.

And I disagree that its better than the die system *on this aspect only* (Im not gonna touch whats actually better, but it is more statistically sound). It a utopian game on a die system it would be impossible to stray outside the die value. Havent seen a game yet do it, but most circumstances you wind up outside the die, the situation already had a pretty weighted outcome, and thats the reason for the 1 and 20 rules (ie the game knew it wasnt utopian so at least covered the cases, like a mid/high lvl character vs kobolds). SR is replete with areas where this issue comes up, no need to repeat it, theyre all over the boards. In general, less statistical variance is better, because it forces you to rely on the mechanics of the game to resolve things and not luck (again, assuming a utopian game the mechanics would accurately reflect what should occur, thats a whole nother issue).

Neither is utopian, d20 handles it more consistantly than SR, thats all Im saying. Only a utopian game would hold up to statistical scrutiny at all combinations of events, and no game out there is that (no roleplaying anyhow, not like craps has anomolies in die results...).

Anyhow, the new system looks to be another case of non-utopian dice rolling, just the anomolies are gonna turn up in new places. I hope its more sound than the current system tho, those tns can wildly change pretty easily the way modifers can add up.

That and I hope the "streamlining" doesnt lose anything in the translation. I dont mind making this easier, or more reliable etc, but I dont want to lose a lot of things like called shots, different ammo loads, firing modes etc in the process. SR is a tough game in that it almost has to closely or exactly imitate RL, in addition to handling fantasy situations. RL aint easy, physics aint easy, computer programming aint easy. Now, lets set up a fast set of rules that reflect all those exactly how they are today, only in the future! Heh no wonder some of those rolls turned out kinda odd...
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