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The Ends v4.01
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FrankTrollman
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 22901

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:29 pm    Post subject: The Ends v4.01 Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Ends of the Matrix

"Let's go talk to our Matrix expert and get him to do… whatever it is that he does."

    Foreword: What this Is and Why it was done
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Table of Contents
  1. Header, Table of Contents, Introduction
  2. Four Questions
  3. Perceiving the Matrix
  4. Encryption
  5. Hacking Hardware
  6. Intrusion Countermeasures
  7. Matrix Infrastructure and Topology
  8. Growing Up Wireless
  9. Technomancers
  10. Sprites
    Game Information
  11. Dice Pools
  12. Skills
  13. Matrix Architecture
  14. Matrix Actions
  15. Programs and Complex Forms
  16. Technomancy: Echoes and Sprites
  17. Equipment



Throughout the four editions of Shadowrun, no rule-set has been changed more dramatically nor inspired more complete house-rules than the Matrix section. And this is unsurprising, because the Matrix touches upon something which is somewhat real – computers – while at the same time living entirely in the realm of deeply speculative fiction.

But more so than that, the Matrix has always had a tremendously difficult problem with abstraction of action. That is, it is entirely possible for the game to model every single pull of the trigger on a gun, every invocation of a spell, every turn of a car – but it is not possible to model every machine language command that flashes by a hacker. Every time you blink your eyes, a quadrillion processes crank through to completion in the Matrix. Equations are solved, numbers added and lost, and even listing all of them that had passed during a heart's beat would be longer than every book ever written. So actions in the Matrix have to be abstracted. And yet, no past or current edition has had a consistent degree of approximation, which leads to painful and exploitable wrinkles in the game system.

At the beginning, a computer system that an NPC used was modeled as a separate "room" for each arbitrary part of the computer (I/O, Storage Memory, Graphics Card, whatever), while the computer that the PC used was modeled as a series of attributes which modified the "Decker's" matrix icon (Where I/O was a location in NPC computers, it was an attribute in PC computers). In 4th edition, all processor power is abstracted and programs run arbitrarily somewhere in networks. Except that you can also choose to count specific hardware as unique networks running their own copies of programs, and then each of the networks gets to take individual actions in the Matrix based on how many completely arbitrary divisions you've decided to have in your arbitrary computer network.

What is presented here is not the only method to realize the Matrix. Indeed, there are literally an infinite number of ways you could imagine it. Like Astral space, the Matrix does not exist; but unlike Shadowrun's magic, the Matrix isn't even loosely based upon folklore. What is here is hopefully a manner of realizing the Matrix which is consistent, playable, and fun. After all, if the rules are playable and they agree with the presented fluff to the extent that unplanned events can be extrapolated from the rules – then we can get back to what's really important: playing the game.

But before we can get some answers, we are going to need to formulate our questions.


Last edited by fbmf on Sun Nov 23, 2008 6:56 am; edited 5 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Four Questions

Why is it that on all other nights we drink a full bodied Merlot and on this night we drink this sweet nasty stuff?

Within the game of Shadowrun the player characters drill holes into their heads in order to create a good mind/machine interface so that they can better hack into secure computer systems while running around cyber ninja style so that they can complete espionage missions and go back to the seedy dives that they live in and take the electronic currency that they are paid in and spend what they don't squander on food and rent and buy black market gadgets that let them be even better at espionage and/or shooting people in the face for money so that they can be a bigger noise in freelance crime and eventually retire to a tropical island with a Mercedes full of cheerleaders. A lofty profession and a noble life goal to be sure, and it makes for some very nice storytelling and some entertaining characters.

But while one can make a very good story out of just that information, it's insufficient for the needs of a role playing game. Because while when you or I are sitting down to write a novel we can have the characters do any part of that simply by typing a sentence that says that they do, in a cooperative storytelling game it is nowhere near that easy. A cooperative story has a world and rules and characters have to justify their actions in reference to them. A story that I write myself could have the main character do anything at all at whim, I can seriously write “Jack-O sprouted wings and flew” as easily as I could write that he bought a new commlink or hid from a security drone. In a role playing game that shit does not fly.

Which brings us to the central four questions we have to answer about the world before we can create a rule set that could generate that world: we have to ask ourselves why people get those data jacks. We have to ask ourselves why people can break into supposedly secure computer systems with them. We have to ask ourselves why people who commit crimes over and over again against the most powerful entities on the planet for a living exist at all. And finally we have to ask ourselves why someone who breaks into and alters computers belonging to secure and powerful installations as his actual job gives an entire rat's ass about being paid in electronic currency and still lives in a leaky apartment next to some dwarven prostitutes. Once we can answer these questions, we can make a rule set that allows and reinforces our answers and we'll have a game that logically plays out the kinds of stories that we intend to tell.

Why Datajacks?

"It's going to be like getting a hole drilled into your head. Probably because they are going to drill a hole into your head."

What exactly a datajack is capable of has changed dramatically over the years. In 1st edition a datajack would by itself allow a character to send and receive their entire sense data worth of information through a cable on a continuous feed. But then of course it also cost half an Essence point to get a cellular phone in your head. Nowadays a datajack is much more limited in scope and any device you happen to have can probably double as a cell phone if you really care. We can pretend that this all works together in some sort of continuous march of technology from 2050 to 2070 but the truth is that the Matrix's rule system has changed unrecognizably about 7 times between 1989 and the present day and the understanding of technology in general has likewise changed. In 1989, the prospect of having a really small phone was supposed to be a big deal. And yeah, in today's world they already make phones that are so small that they are hard to use and the novelty has really worn off. Making a phone feel "high tech" means combining it with other things, and thus the "phone" became an afterthought ability of a variety of devices in the 4th edition rules.

Nevertheless, people in Shadowrun live in a world where getting cybernetic enhancements is something with a real and measurable cost. You lose Essence. This is a real problem, which could potentially even cause you to die. Also, computers can and do interact directly with the brains of people who don't have any cybernetic enhancement at all in the world of 2071 – so what exactly the purpose of the datajack is somewhat... open for interpretation. We've made some interpretations for the purposes of this document, but remember that this marks a core point of divergence with other Matrix writeups. For the purposes of this document, the biggest advantage of a datajack is relative signal privacy and reliability. You can put nanopaste on your head or even your fingertips and get the same Direct Neural Interface (DNI), you can even get the same benefits from just pointing some trodes at your brain. But any external devices can have the signals they send and receive to and from your brain interrupted or even intercepted by shady types. For this reason, people who handle data that is in any way important are highly encouraged to get a data jack.

Or at least they were. In Shadowrun's current 2070s run, a lot of people have upgraded to internal commlinks. That's fine, the mind/machine interfaces are still internal and relatively safe from shadiness. But a lot of the older stuff and the equipment designed to interface with older people (like research scientists for example) will have inputs designed for people with datajacks. So if you want to do espionage for a living, you probably want a datajack as well.

Essence: Just Do It
"It isn't wiz at all. It's kind of shitty actually. But it is essence friendly."

Essence doesn't make any sense at all. There, I've said it. And I stand by this assessment. The datajack is and has been so unbelievably powerful in every edition that it's really hard to justify an Essence cost for much of anything. Why would anyone get cyberarms when they could chop their arms off (losing no Essence) and then just wear some robot arms and run them through their datajacks? If Essence actually existed, and yet the Datajack seriously allowed you to send out any output you wanted, you're damn skippy that people would do that sort of thing. And yet, in Shadowrun they don't. They don't for no reason. That's important. Essence is a game balance concern, not a rational one.
    Equipment Spotlight: Bone Lacing
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Minds on Sleeves: Nanoware replacing Cyberware
"What if I just painted a picture of setting my spiritual wellbeing on fire? Isn't that enough?"

Not only do people in the Shadowrun future apparently have the ability to replace almost all DNI in their body with their datajacks, they can potentially replace their datajacks with external devices which take advantage of their brain power with phreaking and induction. This allows people to put on trode nets and stand inside of data stalls and connect their brains directly to the computer without ever once getting a hole drilled into their head, without spilling even a single monad of precious bodily fluids. And yet… people still get those datajacks in 2070 for some reason.

From a world-design standpoint, people are willing to spend Essence on Datajacks essentially because whatever it is that they get from a Datajack is better than slapping an Essence-free trode net on. If it wasn't better, it wouldn't cost Essence. That's the behind-the-scenes metagame reasoning, which unfortunately is the real reasoning. But that doesn't make a good a story, so it is imperative that there be an in-game justification for this. Granted, the in-game reasoning is in reality backformed from the game balance concerns, but that doesn't mean that the characters have to know that.

We could come up with a number of reasons why this is the case, but the ones that are going to be assumed here are security and mobility. A cybernetic interface is in fixed spatial relationship with your brain; you can turn upside down and get shaken and your datajack will stay in. A similar treatment to a trode net is quite likely to scramble the signal for a moment even if it's taped down pretty well. Heck, with its very low signal rating it'll be likely permanently on the fritz the first time someone throws up a jamming field – a problem which a fiberoptic cable running from your datajack to a high-signal commlink won't have. But perhaps more importantly, anything going into your brain is going to have to be in “Brain Text” and in the world of 2071 that's essentially unencrypted because anyone who matters can decode signals sent to or from a metahuman brain.
    Equipment Spotlight: Nanotrode Paste
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Getting the Most of your Datajack
"I'm tired of just radiopathically sending text messages."

The 4th edition Datajack sends and receives computer gibberish to and from your brain. And that's it. It does not allow you to "interact" with that information in any way other than that allowed by the information itself (in stark contrast to the Datajack descriptions in 2053, but whatever). So you can send out any text or computer commands you want, but by itself the datajack does not allow you to receive any meaningful feedback on how your actions went over.

Having computer gibberish inserted into your brain is not always completely useless. Indeed, if that computer gibberish has already been specifically formatted to interact properly with your brain's informational retrieval system (as is the case with a Know Soft), then you can in fact proceed as if you had gained useful information from the impulses coming up your datajack. But that sort of formatting is apparently so difficult that chips with Linguasofts and Knowsofts cost thousands of nuyen and people are OK with that.

Systems exist that allow whatever computer data you are interacting with to be transformed into sensory stimuli that you can interact with in a more traditional fashion. After all, the primary visual cortex can be stimulated directly as easily as any other part of the brain. However, this is very specifically not the preferred method of getting things done in any version of Shadowrun. Information sent in “brain text” is essentially unencrypted, and people with receivers can pick that up. Projecting sensory information directly into the brain is therefore a security risk. Other people can watch what you see.

    Equipment Spotlight: The Display Link
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Why Crime?
"Why yes, Big Brother is watching. However Big Brother has ADHD, so I'm going to sit here drinking my soykaf like any of a billion wage slaves are doing right now. And then Big Brother will get bored. And distracted. And then I'm going to do… anything I want."

One of the core conceits of the Shadowrun game is that crime is possible, and that crime pays. Given the wealth of potential satellite oversight (just look at Google Earth in 2007 – imagine the law enforcement version in 2070), and the incredibly daunting task that is cracking through somewhat decent encryption, it is entirely reasonable to project a future where getting away with any crime at all requires some sort of elaborate social engineering to pull inside jobs that play off of secret limits of the anti-crime system. But this isn't Minority Report or any other Phildickian setup, this is Shadowrun. And in Shadowrun: bad people shoot other people right in the face for money and get away with it to do it again.

So here are some quasi-plausible justifications for that:

A Revolution in Data Collection, a Crisis of Storage
"I'm sorry, I seem to have misplaced my 'give-a-damn'."

Throughout human history the creation of data has exceeded the capacity to store it. It starts in infancy where a babe simply doesn't remember every single thing she sees, and it continues on through the Age of Bronze where not every conversation or every play gets written down, and it continues today. It could very plausibly continue in the Shadowrun future and for the sake of playability we're assuming that it does. The cameras in the world exceed the number of people who could watch them, and they collectively generate more video footage every day than can be stored on all the world's storage media.

And that is amongst the things that makes crime possible. When you go to the bathroom, a computer is measuring the mass of your deposit. When you flee a crime scene you're being watched by every store front you pass. But likely as not, none of that information will actually be saved anywhere. Some of it may be, but it quite likely isn't organized enough to actually identify you as the perpetrator (of the crime or the leavings). More importantly, information getting deleted isn't really news. If 18½ minutes are missing or overwritten by elven pornography, that's not weird.

Furthermore remember that in the world of 2071, it is entirely possible that a "legitimate" information request from investigating authorities will simply be refused. There's nothing in it for a Wuxing or Aztechnology subsidiary to share their security footage with Evo security to assist in the investigation of a crime against Evo or one of its subsidiaries. Corporations, especially major corporations are in competition, but beyond that they actually are regularly committing crimes against one another. Even showing what footage Aztechnology has of an event would be tipping its hand to Evo and it isn't going to compromise itself that way under normal circumstances. Further, it is in the interests of Aztechnology to make investigation and enforcement as expensive a proposition as possible for Evo as this reduces the company's ability to compete with them in other areas. So even when data is successfully stored, there's no reason to believe that investigating authorities will ever be allowed to actually see that data – which when you think about it is a lot like that data being lost or simply not recorded in the first place.
    Equipment Spotlight: The Security Camera
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

A Cacophony of Echoes
"OK. Everyone who agrees that I'm Jennifer Woodyard, raise their hand."

Your SIN, your driver's license, your home owner's insurance, your medical records, and really every other thing about you are stored electronically in the Matrix. It's like your credit report today. And like your credit report (or wikipedia), pretty much anyone can put stuff into the data stream at any time. You can challenge the data in court and maybe get it changed, but by and large stuff just accumulates in the data stream. Because of the fact that things aren't always correct and some people are total tools, the system is equipped with failsafes to try to weed out incorrect data. Data which is repeated many times in many places (or in important or "trustworthy" places) is considered to have a high veracity. Data which shows up only a few times or in very sketchy places is treated as having a lower veracity. If data conflicts, the system automatically chooses to believe higher veracity information at the expense of lower veracity information.

An example of this in action might be someone getting your name wrong on a delivery of NERPS. Your name is something like Chris McGee, but on the invoice it says Chris Maggie. Now off in the Matrix somewhere there's a little piece of data that your name is in fact Chris Maggie. But fortunately for you, your UCAS driving license and your AzTech Tech diploma are both in your real name. So in the future when machines check your name, the right name will have a higher veracity and displace the wrong name. The Chris Maggie typographical error will only show up again after low intensity searches which stop after the first couple of hits. So the "Chris Maggie" spelling may continue to haunt you for the rest of your life, getting picked up by cheap companies that purchase sales information from NERPS distribution; gradually gaining veracity as it is passed from company to company and appearing in more and more places in the Matrix – but it probably won't.

This can be used by criminals (that's you). Because of the complete lack of a central authority of Truth©, you can actually create truths that happen to suit you. If you treat something as true long and loudly enough, everyone else will treat it the same way. While archaic considerations like "statute of limitations" are out the window, the fact is that if you can fool the world into believing that you've always lived in Nag Kampuchea for a while, the world will continue to believe it pretty much indefinitely. The world of 2071 has an extremely short attention span and you actually can reinvent yourself with sufficient effort.

Why Hackers?
"There are people who can sling a spell or swing a sword and I'm sure that on some level what they do is fine. But in my world, I'm the best you'll ever see."

A core conceit of Shadowrun has always been that a savvy matrix expert is an essential member of a Shadowrunner team. That means that the Hacker character's skills and attributes have to be important; it means that the Hacker's contribution to the team has to matter; it means that the Hacker is not easily replaced with a contact or a device that says TraceBuster on the side. And it also means that Hackers have to be able to be able to do their job (breaking into a secure computer system) in a reasonably short period of time so that they don't end up making the story grind to a halt. In short, hacking has to work absolutely nothing like it works right now in 2008. There are of course a tremendously large number of ways that hacking could work in 2071, but almost all of them are inconsistent with the story demands we have put on the system: hackers must be resource starved hooligans living in seedy dives who hack things on the fly during ninja assaults. Any of the many realistically plausible models that involve the be all and end all of the hacking race being very large sums of money, or of hacking taking very long times, or of hacking being done from a basement in Formosa are all incompatible with the stories we want to tell, and are thus not going to be incorporated into the speculative fiction. In short: possible mechanics and topologies that lead to that are wrong irrespective of considerations of actual physics and computational theory.

The Meat in the Machine: Power for Precision
"Can I run some of these programs on your sister? She's like a little porcelain doll."

How powerful are the computers in Shadowrun? Very powerful. But exactly how powerful has never really been explained. And honestly, it shouldn't be. Computing is very fast, very accurate, and very awesome. But for whatever reason, human brains are still employed as an important adjunct. This is itself not particularly surprising. The human brain is in total capable of over 100 trillion computer instructions every second. That's an amount which is, quite frankly, ridiculous. It's a very, very large amount of processor power, and although a tremendous amount of it is being "wasted" in subconscious thought about whether you'd enjoy a Blue Donut™ or whatever, it still has more total processing power than any device in Shadowrun. Computers aren't really ever more powerful than a human brain, they are more dedicated and more precise. A computer can get the same answer to a question over and over again without ever being wrong (or creative) and that right there is its strength and its weakness.

In Shadowrun history the Cyberterminal was created in 2029 and it is established that no existing computer system could possibly stand against someone using one. This isn't because the cyberterminal was a revolutionarily faster and more powerful computer capable of crushing other computers with its virtual biceps (though it was), it's because the cyberterminal was cybernetic – it literally plugged into the brain of the user. And it crushed other computers not because thinking instructions is so much faster than typing them (though it is), but because a cyberterminal actually uses part of the human's brain in its computer operations. That alone gives it a processing reserve that is well over one hundred thousand times what a super computer was capable of when Shadowrun was first written.

Shadowrun progressed through the existence of the cyberterminal to the cyberdeck: a portable computer which was nonetheless able to utilize the powers of the human brain. It was the standard in 2050 and for the next 15 years it remained on the cutting edge for Hackers. And that's where the history gets confusing. Because it's entirely possible that at some point the people in Shadowrun managed to create something portable that was in fact more powerful than a human brain. And at that point, the human really is just a vestigial appendage whose purpose is to press the Go button. But while that's admirably dystopic and fits into the overall cyberpunk genre fairly well, the game still centers on the player characters – who are still "just" individual humans. The moment they become obsolete, the game is over. Not just your particular campaign, but indeed the entire game of Shadowrun. So we're constrained to believe that in fact the human element is still vital to the operation of high end computing. That's fine, there can be many revolutions in computing power without actually pushing the one hundred trillion computer instructions per second threshold.

So when we get to the Commlink, the one thing we know didn't happen is that the Commlink did not replace the need for it to be connected to a serious metahuman brain in order to orchestrate enough processing power together to do real cybercombat. We know this did not happen because we are still playing the game.

    Equipment Spotlight: The Math Subprocessor
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Modern Data Management: The I and the Storm
"The falling cherry blossoms symbolize both the beauty and the transience of life. The blossoms fall as men fall and remind us of our mortality. Also every one of them is a music player I've harnessed together into a giant parallel processing computing gestalt for the singular purpose of calculating how to make your life a little bit more transient."

The Wireless Matrix heralds a new paradigm of computer use. Not necessarily in computer power, but in utility. In the real world of 2007 parallel processing is a difficult problem; but by 2070 it is the norm.

With so much computing power all over everything it is a wonder that anything gets done. Indeed, quite often things don't get done simply because the instructions to do so are buried so deeply in lists of things to do that they just never get looked at.

    Equipment Spotlight: the Toaster
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Why Money?
Why rob a bank? That's where the money is.

Perhaps the most extraordinary claim of all in the annals of hackerdom is the idea that these people get paid in electronic currency to break the laws of society and change electronic records. The extremity of this claim is quite apparent: people are breaking the rules of society to change data records in exchange for being gifted with data records that according to the rules of society entitle them to goods and services. Why not eliminate the middle man and just hack the money records directly? The fact that people in the Shadowrun universe don't is highly indicative that they can't. And the reason for this is primarily because the monetary records themselves are very far away.

Electronic Nuyen: The Ledger in the Sky
It is the finding of the Corporate Court that the creation of a unified currency that is itself immune to the damaging effects of speculation and devaluation is an essential pillar upon which the global economy must be placed.

Electronic money can exist in a world where people can force the changing of electronic data from a distance by impressing it with high density signal because it's actually really simple: it's just a number. That means all transactions of electronic money can be done entirely with low density signal. There's nothing complicated enough going on to actually need any of the fancy processing that Shadowrun era signaling can do, and so it lies within the capacity of those maintaining the money to block out all high density signals and still conduct business. To hack the money supply with traditional methods would thus require one to get inside the barriers and thus be on site. Considering that the money is “kept” in servers that are extremely inaccessible, this rarely happens.

The biggest reservoir of money is a series of servers maintained in Zürich Orbital, a space station which passes over the Earth at nearly 2,000 kilometers above the seas. The “money” is a series of account numbers with money amounts on servers that sit inside this well fortified bunker floating continuously in space. These servers are connected through low density signal cable to retransmitters attached to powerful receivers on the outside of signal shell. The externally available computers don't hold any account information, encryption keys, or passwords, they literally just retransmit heavily encrypted (and short) data bursts into and out of the internal server farm through a signal bottleneck. Thus ideally there is nothing whatever that an external hacker could hack that would mean anything.

Now this doesn't mean that the enterprising hacker can't steal money, just that they have to steal it from a specific account by getting a hold of an actual credstick or commlink and hack them to authorize the transfer of funds. However this is understandably dangerous, because doing so still leaves a trail of money transfers on the hidden servers that the hacker is probably in no position to do anything about. It is for this reason, that fraud of this sort is mostly confined to spending sprees on relatively untraceable goods and services rather than actually getting the money into one's own credit line. And thus we get back to the question of eliminating the middle man: it is often plain easier and safer to just hack a carpet supply warehouse to think that it should deliver you some sweet rug than it is to hack a stolen credstick to transfer money to the carpet supply warehouse and “purchase” the same rug with money that may well be flagged as illegit in days, hours, or even seconds. For this reason, personal credsticks are often left to lie by hardened criminals.

    Equipment Spotlight: Cash
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Other Currencies: ¥, $, €

ZO is not the only game in town, but the others aren't super different. The Malaysian Independent Bank operates an island fortress where they keep all the records, and while it's not actually “in space” it might as well be as far as most people are concerned. The European Economic Commission operates the Euro rather than the ¥, but its account server vault at the bottom of a mineshaft is not especially easy to crack into either. Aztlan's secret bank is so secret that they don't even tell people what is protecting the Peso accounts, but it's presumably pretty intense because all legends of people hacking that particular server are vague and unlikely.

Debits and Credits: Debt Slavery and the Credit Spiral
Work your fingers to the bone and what do you get? Bony fingers!

An interesting thing that happens in Shadowrun is that despite the fact that the characters are getting a brand new identity several times a month in some cases, they still feel the need to work for a living. And that's actually somewhat odd when you think about it in terms of modern finances. See in 2008 “you” can borrow fairly substantial sums of money at any time at merely ruinous interest with no collateral. The threat of destroying the credit rating of your identity is considered sufficient of a stick to make these short term loan sharking operations solvent. In 2008, identity fraud comes with a certain amount of cash money automatically. Simply by virtue of trading the credit rating in for cash advances on loans that one has no intention of repaying, someone who is already committing the crime of fraud on their identity can gain a steady income from sketchy banks and loan houses until one is caught for the first offense.

And yet, in Shadowrun that manifestly doesn't happen, because the characters are perjuring their identities again and again and they are paying money for the privilege instead of vice versa. What does this mean? It means that the credit system in Shadowrun is somehow set up so that taking a loan with an identity that is going to cease to exist long before the first payment comes due is not a no brainer. In fact, it seems that taking a loan is itself so onerous that characters just are not doing it at all – even though the campaign only takes place over a short period of the character's life and thus can be looked at as being in the disposable ID situation even if the character is a SINner. See, the campaign is likely going to end in a year of the character's life, so anything she ever has to repay at any interest in 13 months is just flavor text in any “real” sense. And yet, players just don't take loans. They spend money that they have already earned rather than drawing on the reserves of a speculative future to gain monetary advantages during the actual game.

The primary reason for this is probably linked directly to the reason that people call corp workers “wage slaves.” See, when you take a loan in 2071 you don't just get a pile of money that you are expected to pay back. You actually sign up for employment and the corp gives you an advance on your wages. Wage slaves literally are slaves. Or indentured servants. Or whatever. They work for nothing except food and board, occasionally having the number of required work hours they are required to put in go up. And that's why player characters don't usually take loans – they would actually have to show up for work in order to get the money. Which is really just like their current job as freelance mercenaries except less awesome.
    Equipment Spotlight: The Credstick
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:48 pm; edited 3 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Perceiving the Matrix: Seeing it Before it Sees You

If I'm going to look at an ass all day, it might as well be an attractive ass.

Electronic devices are perfectly capable of putting information directly into your brain. This is at least as disorienting as it sounds, and is hardly anyone's preferred method of getting information about what is going on in the Matrix. What most people actually do is to have that matrix information translated into normal sense data and sent to them in some sort of format in which they can take it in as one would take in information from any other source: by seeing, touching, tasting or in some scientific way inferring the presence and content of the relevant data.

When actually perceived, the Matrix data can appear as literally anything, and it often does. There is no special reason that a Matrix Attack would have to look like a sword or a pie, it could just as easily be a rubber hammer or a surrealistic floating pipe smoking head. Any correlation between form and function is entirely voluntary because the actual “things” that the sensory data represents are 1s and 0s furiously overwriting one another in a bewilderingly fast paced dance. The Arrows of ancient Egyptian gods and tasty oatmeal is just a metaphor, and an extremely loose and arbitrary metaphor at that.

Reality Filters: Wheat and Chaff
If that pagoda is going to be so useless, I'd just assume not see it at all.

The Matrix uses the brains of people connected with it all the time, but only a small portion of the data is ever converted into something that a user is consciously aware of. With trillions of calculations made, the total number of ways that the Matrix could be presented to a user is effectively infinite. So what is done is to have systems in place which focus on the “important” things and display those to the user and then leave all other Matrix activity unreported. This system is called the Reality Filter, and absolutely every commlink has one. Many matrix devices or activities carry with them sensory notation explaining how a potential user “should” perceive them, but a good reality filter can usually disregard that and display the matrix in a metaphor that makes sense to the user. What form one's perception of the Matrix is generally in one of three categories: Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), or Better Than Life (BTL).

    Equipment Spotlight: Advertising Spam
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Augmented Reality: Information Superimposed on Life
I really do think that you look better this way.
As a cartoon hippo?

Perhaps the most common way of perceiving matrix information is by having sensory cues directed into the user's sensory input as needed while the real world is continuing to have the collected sense data perceived. These matrix sensory intrusions are called “Arrows” and they can get really confusing if there is a lot of matrix activity and physical activity going on at the same time.

This setup is called “Augmented Reality” and it is abbreviated “AR.” Classically, AR is handled in the same manner as the classic “Head's Up Display” of the late twentieth century, but it technically Arrows can be handled with literally any type of sensory input. Some hackers have been known to pipe their matrix information through touch links as a web of tappings on their body or through audio playback as elaborate music in order to continue seeing the world unimpeded. This is still distracting, but at least you no longer have blind spots.

    Equipment Spotlight: the Smartlink
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Virtual Reality: Sense Data Replaced
You can be anything you want to be. In the matrix, there are no rules.
So... why am I cartoon hippo?

The next stage in perceiving the matrix is to replace all sense data from the real world with matrix Arrows. At its crudest implementation, this literally just means that Arrows are so densely packed across one's perceptions that the input from the world around cannot be seen at all. At its ideal, it represents a whole virtual world crafted for the user in which all Arrows are incorporated and contextualized.

This full sensory replacement is called “Virtual Reality” and abbreviated “VR.” Distractions from physical sensory input are non-existent barring actual physical injury, but any attempts to interact with the real world must necessarily deal with the essential total blindness and deafness that the VR experience is based upon.

Dealing with the matrix in basic VR is called “cold” in 133+, a reference to the fact that there is an even more extreme way of perceiving the matrix in the form of BTL (which in turn is known as “hot”). Interestingly, the same language's word for AR is “n00b.” A character running BTL AR is thus “hot n00b.”

    Equipment Spotlight: the Simmodule
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


BTL: Directly Stimulating the Brain
The rats continuously pressed the button activating their nucleus accumbens in preference to consumption of food or water. Cause of death is thirst.

Sensation passes through a number of pathways through the body to get to the brain, some myelinated and some non. These pathways get parsed out in various parts of the brain and eventually become consciousness somewhere on the cortex (depending upon what kind of sensation it is). This takes some non-zero amount of time and is subject to confusion. For example, the same nerves that carry pain reception to parts of the arm also carry it from the heart; which results in referred pain during myocardial infarctions. And so it may come as no surprise that enterprising technicians have come up with methods to bypass all that and simply cause the triggering of the neurons in the brain itself as if one had already gone through all that tedious business of receiving and parsing sensory stimuli and then interpreted it “correctly.” This technique is called “Better Than Life” because it is potentially experienced much more extremely than anything from real sensation possibly could be. Indeed, it has no particular limitations of intensity at all.

And that turns out to be something of a problem. Not only do people frequently find themselves addicted to the intensity of stimuli that BTL can offer, but BTL is just plain dangerous. The signals themselves can cause damage, sometimes permanently so. The BTL user often fails to remember to take breaks to drink, because the certainty that BTL stimulation can offer is much stronger than any previously held notions, even ones basic and critical to survival.

BTL grade signals are illegal in most jurisdictions that have contemplated the issue at all. But of course that doesn't really stop them from being used; the BTL loops are too fun, using BTL to perceive the Matrix is just too fast, and projecting BTL grade signals into unsuspecting fools is just too effective. Indeed, BTL signals form the core code of many anti-metahuman attack routines, even (and especially) those used by Black IC. So the fact that corporations mostly “outlaw” BTL signaling doesn't mean that they aren't doing it.

BTL can be handled either in AR or VR. The Arrows are directed directly to interpretive cortex layers, but regular sensation does not have to be completely removed for this to happen. Many BTL addicts simply jack into some emotive tracts and attempt to get through their days interacting with the physical world as normally as is possible when you already feel inhumanly and inhumanely happy or angry.

    Equipment Spotlight: BTL Players
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


The RAS Override: Not Always Your Friend
I could really go for a beer.
Really? I don't think I could.

Interacting with the Virtual World is really awesome, but unfortunately it can be a bit dangerous. Especially if you are trying to interact with the real world at the same time. And to prevent people from wandering around in the magical world of potential coffee flavors in their minds while actually wandering around in heavy traffic, the RAS Override was developed with much rejoicing. Essentially it's just a set of motor neuron inhibitors that prevent signals from the brain intended to influence goings on in the matrix from causing actual motion. Like having your dopaminergic cells in your substantia nigra working overtime. Like the opposite of having Parkinson's.

Of course, having a machine generated signal that literally prevents a person from moving or interacting with the physical world has its own dangers. For one thing, there are times when lying inert is not the safest thing you can be doing with your body (like when oncoming traffic is a potentially immediate threat). And for another thing, there is absolutely nothing in the world that guarantees that the signal itself is generated “legitimately.” Once projected into a metahuman body, that body becomes inert regardless of source, and only an extreme act of will on the part of the victim can keep them from collapsing and being completely at the physical mercy of just about anyone.

Special Note: The Reticular Activating System is in reality a primarily sensory portion of the midbrain, and it is the portion of the brain upon which general anesthetics act. So the fact that in Shadowrun the RAS Override is the thing that prevents you from accidentally moving while under the influence of Virtual Reality is weird. While it is posible to write in some pseudo-science about how the RAS is a prerequisite brain function for consciousness (which it is) and that specific effects from electromagnetism projected into that part of the brain modulate the body into a state of quasi-coma where the brain is still functional and awake while the rest of the body is inert – this is entirely a back-formation. The real reason that the RAS Override is called that is because someone thought it sounded cool and scientific back in 1988 and now we're stuck with it.
    Equipment Spotlight: RAS Tasers
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

The Look and Feel of Operating Systems

The reality filters of any user are largely colored by the Operating System that they are using. It creates a perceptive metaphor by which the user can understand what is going on and use their own actions. Many popular OSs come with default reality filters, which create a tapestry of standardized iconography that contextualize Arrows into an AR or VR display such that they make sense to even the most casual user. Here are a sampling of common OS that players may use:

    Deva A bizarre mix of hermetic and high tech imagery, the Deva operating system fills the periphery of the AR interface with a set of pull down menus in stark low res rectangles with cut-away text reminiscent of a 1980s display. Iconography stands side by side in extremely high-res and transparent hermetic mystical symbols. These symbols can be “dialed” up and down out of the field of view to present new options. The default color scheme is pale blue, pale yellow, and bright red.

    Ichi Ichi is a series of floating alphanumerics in numerous languages. The actual content is unimportant as the user manipulates the shapes and not the content. Lines of gibberish text float down across the vision at various rates and in different columns in order to represent various aspects of the system's connections and activities. Text boxes can be pulled out of the gibberish and the same information is displayed by rotating and overlapping circles. Default color scheme is green. Trivia fact: most Shadowrun material is presented in Ichi formatting.

    Navi Navi is a spherical visual disturbance much like a magnifying glass. Potential AR iconography is pushed to the sides and can be pulled towards the center where it becomes proportionally larger. Selected iconography inverts. The default color scheme is primarily blue.

    Nix Nix is a very “hands off” operating system. The AR display is kept generally empty save for a toolbar running along the bottom along with an attached command line/scratch pad in the lower right hand corner. The background can be filled with pictures if the user desires but by default there's nothing there. The default color scheme is a shiny gray.

    Orb The Orb OS is a sphere which sheds light. It can be rotated infinitely to project a beam which displays various holograms. The intensity of the light varies as the OS is called upon to perform different actions. The Orb speaks to users in a dispassionate monotone. The default color of the Orb is bright Red.

    Xim The Xim operating system is usually characterized by a system of windows which are projected as floating around the user, each held in a three dimensional device apparently made of resin and steel. Default color schemes are purple, green, and brushed metal. Actions are generally performed in the UI by mechanical tentacles.


Blocking out the Matrix: Full Circle
With enough effort, equipment, and technical know how, you can block out all the adverts and flashing lights, silence all the alarms and jingles, and live your own life.

The era when a man could roll out of bed in the morning, eat breakfast, and play with his dog all without interacting with world events and specialty sales through the medium of electronics constantly bombarding him with sights, sounds and smells is by and large over. But as that kind of relatively clear headspace is still desired by many, it is unsurprising that there is much effort put into escaping the Matrix and the constant buzz that metahuman society makes in the mind.

There are basically two ways to keep Starbucks ads out of your brain: either develop some really good signal defense to cancel out all incoming advertising before it intrudes on your person, or cut yourself off from the Matrix altogether. The latter requires you to be out of signal range, either because you are so far away from metahumanity that high density signals don't reach, or because you have a powerful Faraday cage surrounding you. In the 2070s a quite sizable number of people opt for one or the other, the neo-tribal movement is very strong and even corporate wage slaves will often pay good money to rest in a matrix deprivation tank in order to have their thoughts and dreams to themselves, if only for an hour.
    Equipment Spotlight: The Faraday Suit
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:49 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hacking in a World of Perfect Encryption

We estimate that we can crack this faster by waiting a few years for computers to become faster and then starting the project on the new generation of machines.

Cryptography is a complex thing. But an immutable fact of it is that if you are handed a set of data that has been scrambled by a non-repeating transformation of comparable size, that you cannot decipher it. Not “it's really hard to decipher” or “It'll take you a long time to decipher that” but that in fact you simply can't do it at all. So anyone with sufficient time on their hands and dedication to cryptographic secrecy can make a system that cannot be decrypted under any circumstances. It's called a one-time pad, and while resource intensive it is actually unbreakable. But people generally don't really need codes that can't be broken ever, most people will settle for codes that cannot be broken any time in the next hundred million years. That's the kind of time frame that even the extremely long lived are generally willing to concede that their secrets of today won't matter much once it has passed.

So while it is entirely within everyone's capacity to go out into the street, turn the microphone on super high and record random discordant noise for an hour, then download that hour into their drone as an exceedingly long cypher to get an hour of unbreakably encrypted communications between themselves and their drone – the vast majority of people are willing to accept a less intensive system where their communications are merely unlikely to be decrypted before the sun peters out.

Most secure communications use Essentially Unbreakable Encryption (EUE), a system where the sender and the intended recipient both have a cypher that is overlain on the messages and subsequently removed. The keys used in the 2070s are of variable length, but generally are thousands of bits long, and cannot be expected to be broken by any sort of mathematical attack. In order to attain such levels of security the cypher itself must have been shared at some earlier point between the intended sender and receiver, and it can of course be stolen either during the hand off or at any time that anyone has direct access to any of the computers which store the cypher itself. After all, EUE doesn't make the message completely illegible to anyone but the intended recipient; it makes the message completely unintelligible to anyone who doesn't have the key – not the same thing once espionage comes into the equation.
    A Note on Cryptographic Realism
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Vaguely Decent Protection: Asymmetric Encryption
The algorithms required to decrypt these things are illegal, so no one has them.

Sending a message of any kind through EUE requires that both the sender and the receiver have a copy of the key. But what if you don't have a prearranged key, how can you communicate with any privacy? The answer is Asymmetric Encryption. Here's how it works: There are a set of mathematical transformations based on one number that are really hard to undo unless you happen to know a specific second number. So your Commcode gives out the first number to anyone who wants it, and then people can send transformed (and thus encrypted) data to you and since you have the magic second number you can reverse those changes very easily.

You can also do this in the reverse order, transforming your message with the secret number and letting the receivers of the message decrypt it with the publicly available number. While this is a fairly useless way to keep information secret, it makes a fairly decent digital signature – in that whoever sent the encrypted message must have known your personal secret number. This is the core of how every Access ID in the Matrix is verified.
    A Note on Hacking: Spoofing an Access ID
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Passing Notes: Encryption, Reception, and Retransmission
The paper doesn't know what is written on it, but the scribe and the reader do.

In Shadowrun, an encryption scheme can be undone if one has both the encrypted and the unencrypted version of the message. This means that if one compromises the computer on either terminal end of a message relay, that the code itself is compromised. However, merely listening to the encrypted transmission is essentially worthless. Indeed, any number of devices can be along the chain and be compromised without endangering the code in any way. Each computer can take the encrypted information and pass it on, still encrypted, without understanding or changing the data in any way. It is only when one gets to a computer that actually composes the encrypted data or is intended to put the data into brain text or other usable format that a hardware compromise gives away the show.

    Equipment Spotlight: the Retransmitter
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Breaking Encryption: If You Can't Win, Cheat
Break the code? Nah, I just read the original over your shoulder.

Over the probable length of time that any game of Shadowrun covers, it is unreasonable to suspect that you will ever see anyone brute force a node's EUE. It simply will not happen, and we aren't even going to bother having rules for it. However, that in no way means that you can't read someone's mail just because it is encoded in EUE. The truth is that for an EUE transmission to work at all, that the sender and all intended receivers must have a copy of the cypher. This creates several weaknesses, which a hacker can exploit:
    The Physical Hardware: High Density Signal can cause hardware to do pretty much anything as if it had gotten the correct user inputs to do whatever. This can include forking over the unencrypted versions of encrypted data or even giving out the codes directly if it has that information anywhere on the system in any format.

    The Initial Handoff: The EUE cypher that any two nodes wish to use to communicate has to be initially generated on one device and transferred to the other. And while information transfer is very secure after the code has been shared, there's nothing in particular protecting the code transfer itself. This is where people do stuff like sneak around late at night in order to hand off their precious data chips hidden away in their shoes.

Protecting Unencrypted Data: Using Your Inside Voice
You actually are the weakest link.

No matter how sweet your encryption is, everyone's brain runs on pretty much the same codes. When each data packet is sent to a metahuman brain, that data is essentially unencrypted. Anyone who can “hear” that transmission can read it. Worse, if someone hears the transmission in brain text and they also had a recording of the encrypted version, they can make a Rosetta stone to decrypt all the rest of your data, which makes all your base belong to them. So it is of no surprise that people in the 2070s attempt to make the actual communications between their brain and the rest of their network be as “quiet” as possible, which is why people use Datajacks, Internal Commlinks, and Trodes. The first two have a directly wired (and shielded) connection between themselves and the brain, while as the last option is merely at very low signal strength and very close to the intended recipient. In any case, these methods of data transfer are very difficult to listen in to, and people generally feel relatively safe sending brain formatted information into their own heads by these means.

Now no data transfer mechanism is truly 100% safe: unscrupulous men can get microtransceivers very close to your trode set and rebroadcast the precious unencrypted information to their own networks. They can compromise the physical hardware of the datajack or the trode net. And so it is that over and above having relatively secure direct neural interfaces, the truly security conscious will endeavor to conduct import communications from the sanctity of rooms that have been cleared of bugs and at special times and places that hopefully opposing spies won't know about – cloak and dagger stuff that has been going on for literally thousands of years and shows no signs of stopping at any time in the future.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:52 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hacking Hardware: Meat and Machine

"Seriously. Now mom lets me stay out as late as I want."

Computer networks in Shadowrun contain real humans in addition to the more familiar electronic devices. So it should come as no surprise that adept hackers can hack their way into people as well as machines. How does that work? I don't know, it's based on revolutionary technology that in the Shadowrun timeline will be invented in 2029, so I don't even feel obliged to explain it.

But regardless of the how, the what is that a hacker in 2071 can induce genuine neural impulses in your brain from across the room. This is not something as crude as a taser (though those also exist in 2071 and can also be used from across the room). This is a targeted generation of specific neural impulses. The energy demands are quite modest, the part which is beyond our current technology is getting the energy to convey itself to specific portions of a brain across the room. But that is a technical hurdle which has been crossed in 2071. And that means that the 2071 hacker spends a lot less time drinking Mountain Dew in his mother's basement and a lot more time running around shooting mind control rays at people than his counterpart in 2008 did.

Hacking a lone device or empty network.

Whether it's a camera, a trid set, or a refrigerator, the number of times your shadowrunners will run into a device with a computer in it is uncountably large even on a daily basis. And yet, most of these devices don't have a real metahuman being looking after them at all. It is established canon that such devices are child's play to a hacker in the mid twenty-first century. This is a difficult pill for people familiar with 20th century computing to swallow; but in 2071 a device which is simple is not unhackable. Quite the opposite.

In 1989 (or 2007 for that matter), a computer had to invite logins before they could occur. In 2071 this is blatantly not the case. Instead, enterprising hackers can create connections out of nothing. A simple chip can be mapped, influenced, and co-opted from across the room through induction. The only defenses against this sort of intrusion are jamming (which makes inductive signaling more difficult), a Faraday cage (which makes inductive signaling impossible below a certain signal threshold), and increased complexity. Yes, because of the way computers work in 2071, creating vast expanses of spaghetti code actually makes hacking more difficult, rather than “allowing it at all” the way it does today.

When interacting “legally” (as in with a proper passcode) with a lone device or empty network, a user has the following options:
  • Subscribe to network. Devices are added to and removed from PANs all the time. A device which is not presently part of a PAN is generally speaking capable of being added to one.

  • Send commands. This could be as simple as sending an email to start toasting, or a complicated set of instructions which include provisions for potential future events. While some devices only act upon the instructions of their own PAN, there are a lot of machines which are intended to be given simple instructions. From light switches to fire sprinklers, there are a lot of wireless devices which can activate in response to a simple “activate” command.

  • Submit Data. Devices draw upon a number of data stores in order to go about their daily routines. Facial recognition cameras don't store the biometrics of everyone on the planet, they submit data to archives and draw potential matches from them. A legally subscribed system can submit data in response to requests (which is how those biometrics get done), or just send information along with a request to store it somewhere (which is how your credit report keeps getting worse).

Which means that at the core most things a Hacker does to a lone device or empty is convincing the machines that one of those things has been done and that the device should respond accordingly. A Hacker can also send destructive impulses: they can jam signals, wipe data, and destabilize devices. This isn't crude 20th century data deletion, where at it's heart the hacker was always trying to convince the target computer that it had a legitimate command to start deleting its own files (though a Hacker can try to do that too). In 2071, a Hacker can directly wipe information right off a system from across the room by inducing random noise into the storage device.

Hacking an orphan brain.

Human brains that are not connected to computers are quite vulnerable to a number of attacks. While the complexity of the metahuman brain is quite high, the properties and weaknesses of the organ are quite well understood by modern science. A human with cybernetics is generally never without a PAN, and getting someone with a datajack to the point where they are actually an orphan brain generally requires destroying or shutting down all the cybernetics and is usually outside the realm of possibility outside of a prepared facility.
  • Adding a PAN Just as an orphan device can be added to a preexisting PAN, a human brain can have a PAN attached to it at pretty much any time. This is why most people in 2071 go around with a PAN already attached, because there's no reason to believe that they'd have any control over a PAN that someone else added to their brain. This is the basis of BTL, serious brain washing, and much of the other Matrix related horror stories. Once a person has been stripped of an active PAN, any other PAN can be put in its place. The human brain simply evolved long before there was any possibility of Hacking or Direct Neural Interface; and most humans simply have no meaningful natural defenses against such attacks.
  • Reading Every human brain is different and such, but only to a limited extent. The contents of a human brain that is not directly interacting with a computer (and thus having the purity of the organic signal disrupted) can be passively read at a distance.
  • Direct Attack An orphan brain can have conformational changes created in it by computers. That is how PANs get established, after all. But if the changes are designed to instead shut off the automatic breathing response or induce a coma state that's just unfortunate.

Shadowrun characters will generally not be in a position to be on either side of this cruel equation. Even magicians will put computers onto their bodies and have them set up as exclusive PANs (if they don't know how to do this themselves because they are fresh off the boat from the Amazonian back country or whatever, they will get their team mates to do this for them in the same way as most mundane characters will at some point get a magician team mate to ward off an area for them to hide in). Security guards, wage slaves, mad scientists, and even guard dogs will all have direct neural interfaces set up already when it's time to throw down in the Wuxing office complex. However, if one is truly in the middle of the wilderness or one has a victim under your complete power, it is entirely possible to brain wipe someone or turn them into a bunraku or whatever.

It is highly advisable to not get captured.

Hacking an occupied network.

The majority of the time a Hacker will be interested in a network which already contains a controlling brain and one or more computer devices as well. In this case, you could potentially influence either the brain or the machines in the network, but the two reinforce themselves defensively.

If you directly attempt to affect the meat in the network, you'll have to be able to target the meat (generally requiring signal range and LOS), and the machines that the brain is already attached to provide a defense. If you attempt to hack into the machines, the processing power arrayed against you is many orders of magnitude more effective as there is a whole human brain that is dedicating part of its massive computing power to network all the devices together to counter the actions of potential hackers.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Mon Aug 04, 2008 5:46 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Intrusion Countermeasures: Don't go in there

"It's ice cold and night black. Like your sister. Also you don't wanna touch that server or things will get all hairy and nasty. Like your sister. Basically I'm telling you that I had sex with the IC on that server and it wasn't good."

In ages past, computer security was in the relatively simple realm of keeping unwanted users from logging on to one's system. In 2071 that isn't really practical, and it became impractical for so long that terms like “Firewall” just don't even mean the same thing to anyone. It's more like a “Wall of Fire.” The last time people seriously thought that they could just disconnect their computers from the Internet and be safe from hacking was in 2029, which is over 40 years ago from the standpoint of 2071 characters. Indeed, the majority of shadowrunners were not even alive the last time someone talked about network segregation as a valid defense against network attack. Keeping intruders out is a multi-tiered process of inaccessibility (because the most effective hacking procedures are essentially line of sight, moving your systems to inaccessible physical locations is actually a reasonable defense), and actively fighting back. You can't necessarily keep people from hacking in, but you can set fire to people's brains when they do it. Keep that in mind, because it's incredibly different from the way computers work in the modern world.

Intrusion Countermeasures, or IC for short, are an integral part of Shadowrun and always have been. There are some systems that the faint of heart simply do not go to because the programming there will fry your brain. This is deemed unfortunate as most shadowrunners consider their brains to be their second favorite organ. IC scours a network looking for the influence of hackers and does a number of things to undo this as a problem. But before we really get in to talking about what IC can do, let's start by talking about what it can't do.

IC can't Team Up
"That IC looked like hundreds of bees."

Computing power in Shadowrun is abstracted. We don't keep track of how many processor cycles you have dedicated to whatever processes. We don't even care. If IC is running on a system, it is protecting the entire system to the best of its own capabilities. It is not possible to run another copy of the IC to get better protection. Hell, you can't even benefit from having a copy of a different IC system protecting your system.

IC is kind of like virus protection software. Running it is great, and it will ward off a number of potential threats. But running Norton and Macaffee at the same time isn't helpful. If you have processing cycles to burn, you should get yourself an IC system of a higher rating rather than getting more copies with the same rating.

In the Matrix, IC can as easily be rendered as a single bridge keeping troll as by a pack of dogs. It's completely unimportant how “many” icons the IC has. IC is lots of individual instructions zooming through the network at high speed. It's scanning logs for illegal commands, it's scouring data sets looking for tampering, and if these all get represented as a series of monks copying books or a massive tiger sniffing for prey that means precisely jack diddly.

Most importantly of all, in the instance where there are many devices running on a network together, the single best IC available defends the entire network and all the others don't do a god damned thing. The network as a whole is parallel processing in some ill-defined but extremely powerful fashion and problems anywhere in the network can potentially be detected. Hiding the data you are insinuating somewhere in the network where the IC won't recognize it as phony is the providence of Perception tests, not something that you as a player should have to work out based on network schema and individual device ratings.

IC can't come after you.
"Did you whizz on the electric fence?"

IC can't use any programs with a range greater than Connection. It can attack users, it can trace hackers, and it can unravel your Matrix signature. But it can't do any of that unless there is a current open connection between the system it is running on and your system. IC can send e-mail and do all kinds of other Matrix crap. If an IC discovers an intrusion attempt it can send a PM to other computers saying “Hey! Somebody is intruding into my system!” it can even send spam e-mail asking people to pretty please open up an active connection. But it can't offer any mechanical assistance to another system nor can it attempt to hack itself a connection to a system that declines its offer.

    Behind the Scenes: Why not allow IC to reach out and touch someone?
    Remembering that computing power is delineated completely arbitrarily, it is easy to see that one could just as easily define the display of pull-tab burritos as an empty network as one could define each of the Freshsene™ detectors for each of the flavor racks as empty networks. So if IC could make attacks at a signal or even handshake range, the world of Shadowrun would collapse almost instantly. Computing can be divided and subdivided as much as you want – if those subdivisions were each afforded an initiative count in battle the game would suffer tremendously as there would be no logical reason for there to be any finite limitations on armies of computer programs. Because we are trying to model the Matrix from Virtual Realities and not the Matrix from Matrix 2: Electric Boogaloo; having unstoppable armies of Agent Smith is unacceptable. So pretty much everything we're saying about technological specs and hardware limitations and such is flavor text to explain what is at its core a completely game mechanical concern. If we've overlooked something and you figure out some way to have IC operate at range other than Connection and still be consistent with what we wrote – just walk away and pretend you didn't.
    Presumably there is some additional technical constraint that is preventing you from doing that or something. Seriously. For the children.


Hurtful IC: Black and Gray
I don't even know what that is. Our system is over there.
But.. it's all on fire.
Yes. Yes it is.

For all the limitations that IC has, it is still a quite fearsome opponent. Once a connection is open, even an empty network can send horrible pulses of energy across an open connection, very little in the way of calculations are required. And so it is that some of the most effective IC is also the simplest: it simply attempts to damage the intruders in some permanent fashion. A piece of IC that damages electronics is called “Gray IC” and a piece of IC that damages real people is called “Black IC.” Sometimes IC that merely traces and reports intruders or attempts to sever connections and call for technical support is called “White IC” but most speakers just call it IC with no adjective.

IC can also be used offensively. While a connection is open, the IC “defending” either network can send baleful signals up the connection to the other. A hacker who just wants to wreck things can indeed come with guns blazing a pet dog who also has guns blazing.

Pseudo-IC: Halberstam's Babies
I'm going to open up a can of whup ass. Figuratively. I mean, it's an actual can, but I won't actually be opening it.

The limitations of IC only apply to the actions of the Firewalls of networks themselves. Very important facilities will oftentimes hire the services of real metahumans who are not restricted in these fashions at all, and behave exactly like a hacker because they are a real hacker (a real Hacker who happens to have the passwords set to log in to premade security accounts on just about every device and network in the facility before the action even begins). But some of the really shady projects go for a hybrid system: running networks on “brains” that are literally grown for the purpose.

In Shadowrun's timeline, the first of these brain-in-a-jar systems came online in the early 2050s, which does in fact mean that some of the currently active systems will have been working for longer than some of the 2071 player characters have been alive. So these IC/Hacker hybrids are not new news or opaque legends to any hacker worth their salt. Levels of sapience for these brain-jar systems varies tremendously, with some being just like dwarfs who are even slower on their feet and others being essentially just like black boxes that generate the raw processing power that a combat hacking network needs if it is to project force beyond its own direct connections and nothing more.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The Infrastructure and Topology of the Matrix

Atlas is an angry titan, but it is folly to believe that we could live without him.

The world of 2071 is a wireless one. What this means is that the end users of the Matrix don't have wires trailing between themselves and the informational infrastructure of the world. This does not mean that wired connections are unheard of or even that they are rare. Indeed, even on a single person, many of their devices will be wired together. Indeed the preferred connection between the brain itself and the machine is still wired (either through a datajack or internal commlink). It's just the connections between the user's Personal Area Network (PAN) and the devices and other networks with which it interfaces is wireless. And thus, the experience of the metahumans within society is one of total freedom to access the matrix from anywhere. And total subjugation before the fact that the matrix is equally free to access them no matter where they go.

High Density Signal and Low Density Signal

There exists the possibility in the world of Shadowrun to manipulate hardware at a distance with the use of very large amounts of data projected across a signal in very short amount of time. The very most basic and obvious of these hardware manipulations is where one can project it into a metahuman brain and accent or replace their sense data. High density signal can be projected into a metahuman's optic nerve and cause them to “see” something different from that which would be expected from the colors and intensities of light striking their actual retina – indeed this is the very basis for AR Arrows. And yet, as one can well imagine this capability comes with an inherent possibility for abuse: a hacker can just as viably send fake sense data intended to confuse as a McHugh's is capable of sending fake sense data to inform one of the critical savings available on the value menu. And failing to utilize these channels is no defense against the actions of hackers. Just because you aren't projecting Arrows into your field of view doesn't mean that no one else is.

High density signal can only travel a total of about 30,000 kilometers before the propagation time of quantum effects and electromagnetic interaction actually looms large enough to render the enterprise nonfunctional. The universal speed limit is the speed of light, and while it is very fast (299,792 kilometers every second), it is nonetheless an actual speed and if signals are required to travel about a tenth of that they simply no longer can be reasonably approximated as interacting in real time.

Low Density Signal is less exciting, as it's essentially the kind of stuff we call “broadband” today. You can send basic video across it, but it skips sometimes. You can run some quite impressive networked games across it, provided that almost everything is actually run on the hardware of the people actually playing the game and not server side (and of course it limits the simsense communications between players to essentially nothing).You can send phone and text messages of practically limitless lengths across Low Density Signal just as you can across wireless broadband today. But simsense is too intense, just as it is today. Low Density Signal is relatively “safe” because it can't do any kind of crazy direct hardware manipulations, and it goes much farther than High Density Signal does because it can accept data clarity which is much lower at its final destination.

Cables and Satellites: The Spine of the World
We have built our tower into the heavens and beyond, and now all languages are 1 and 0 again.

High density signal can travel up to 30,000 kilometers before time delays render it meaningless. However, there are few transmitters that are capable of sending data that far, especially compared to the amount of data which is actually sent. No two points on the globe are substantially more than 20,000 kilometers from one to another but to actually get any substantial distance around the planet requires an indirect path because the planet is essentially round. Wireless transmissions pretty much go in straight lines, so the fact that you can't draw a real straight lines between most major cities without drawing it through the Earth (who is damnably resistant to wireless transmission), means that most real signal paths involve either being bounced through satellites, or routed through fiberoptic cables.

LEO and Up
Long ago, when all the stars moved through the sky together...

The atmosphere mostly craps out around 70 kilometers above the surface of the world, and it is at that point that pilots can see the stars in the day and astrally projecting magicians dare not travel further. But things don't have really stable orbits that close to the Earth. The first nice and long term orbits start cropping up over 1000 kilometers above sea level. And these are called “Low Earth Orbit” and comprise all of the high density signal satellites. Things lower than that are in temporary orbits, which is why semiballistic planes have no real chance to run into communication satellites.

Beyond that, there are geosynchronous satellites that orbit the world somewhere over 40,000 kilometers from the center of the Earth (which puts them comfortably outside the 30,000 kilometer cutoff for high density signal). These satellites all rotate around the Earth such that they pass over the same point on the Earth once each day at the same time. This means that with enough of them in play, you can use a sat phone to always make a phone call from anywhere on Earth. And yeah, the 2070s have more than enough satellites for that.

    Are there Satellites watching me from space?
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


The Shadowrun future also has a number of space stations of various sizes. Many of these are set low enough that they can interact with high density signal from the ground, and many others are set to be high enough that they can't.

Connections
With enough legos you can make the world.

While high density signal can indeed forcibly transform one bit into another and manually change the results on another piece of hardware, this is very much not what people normally do in order to get the matrix working for them. Most data transfer happens across established connections where tremendously titanic amounts of data flow relatively free of constraints. These large data flows are incredibly dangerous, and so it is that most systems take a fair amount of care to limit what they open connections with. A connection can only be opened by both networks together, although of course hackers and spammers spend a considerable amount of effort in tricking or forcing other networks into opening connections.

Data connections can pass across anything that can carry signal of the appropriate density, and many connections have dedicated fiberoptic cables to them – a practice which severely limits the abilities of shady individuals to listen in to the contents of the shared traffic.

Servers
I want all of that in here.

Very large computers have a purpose even in 2071. Not to process the powerful equations that are needed to make the modern world go – those use a bunch of tiny computers and run it orchestral style with the awesome power of a metahuman brain. But instead in the switchbox of connections that different networks need to pass data back and forth between each other. These are expensive pieces of hardware and do a similar job to the human brain running an occupied network in running other occupied networks together. Running things through a server allows networks to have very large numbers of very fast connections running all over the place. A server can be powerful enough to run its own IC to protect itself, and most corporate servers are.
    Item Spotlight: The Office
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Wireless Communication: The Web Between
The fridge bone connected to the trid bone. The trid bone connected to the light bone. The light bone connected to the washer bone. Oh hear the word of the lord!

While tremendously large hunks of data are sloshed hither and yon through the medium of lasers fired through clear fibers, a myriad of devices share data across the medium of wireless waves transmitted at the speed of light. What goes into those wireless waves? Not really sure. It's some kind of radiation, probably lots of different kinds of radiation because the carrying capacity of the airwaves is apparently very, very high.

    Item Spotlight: GridGuide
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Personal Area Networks
Your pen is low on ink. Purchase ink refill [Y/N]?

The Personal Area Network is an elaborate amalgam of transmissions and conductions, using whatever form of signal happens to be available. Much of it is conducted through skinlink, a system whereby the skin's charge is modulated to send signals. And much of it is conducted through little fiberoptic cables. Topologically, these PANs are basically mesh networks where the integration of them is handled by tapping into the power of the metahuman brain that is at the center.

Since every metahuman brain gives off brainwaves, it is not really possible to hide a PAN just by wiring all the connections together. There is however massively complicated math that one can do that will hide a PAN from outside observation. But stealth in the Matrix is an active process.

Wireless Terrain
Welcome to our secret lair. Thousands of meters below the Earth's crust.

We're not overly concerned with what kind of waves are specifically being transmitted from one network to another. However, while devices are frequency agile and such in the 2070s, they are using some kind of radiation from the electromagnetic spectrum. And that means that it probably causes cancer. But that's a bridge that modern society has obviously agreed to burn when it comes to it. More immediately important to the modern hacker is the fact that it can and will be absorbed or reflected at some rate by various materials and electrical events. What precisely those materials and such would be would vary depending upon precisely what frequencies were used, a question which as previously noted we have no intention of answering. However, this information is known to the engineers of the late 21st century, and it is entirely possible for them to create composites that have extremely high or low transmittance of communication frequencies – and indeed they have done exactly this.

The Earth
The Earth itself has a crap tonne of crazy metals and such in it, and will absorb or reflect pretty much any frequencies you care to mention with at least some of its constituents. In general, you can assume that transmissions cannot go through the planet as a whole. In addition, it's highly likely that any particular signal can't go through a particular cross section of earth if it has to go through very much of it. Practically what this means is that if your signal goes through some part of earth your effective signal is reduced by the one more than the amount of signal that would be required to go through that amount of empty space (so for example, going through 40m of empty space would require a Signal of 1, so sending your signal through 40 meters of earth would set your signal back by 2). Practically this means that you probably can't send signals through mountains or even hills. A 1km obstruction would drop signal by 5, meaning that the base signal would have to be 9 just to get through.

WiFi Blocking Paint and the Faraday Cage
A barrier that is completely covering something topologically that is made out of something conductive is called a Faraday Cage. It can have holes in it, provided that those holes are not much larger than the wavelengths of the radiation passing through them. What it does is divert electromagnetic radiation into itself and essentially stop coherent transmissions through it. These things are not one hundred percent or anything, and short of busting out the measuring laser to determine the thickness and hole size of your mesh, the game simplifies these things to just have ratings that reduce signal ratings.

The really exciting part comes with the invention of WiFi blocking paint. That is, a flat (and thin, and light, and inexpensive) electromagnetic barrier. The physics of that sort of thing are really weird, since of course in the regular world radiation effectively bends around barriers really easily. But for whatever reason, a WiFi barrier reduces signal strength if the line of effect is drawn through it, and not if it does not. That's whacky, but it's also simple. I suggest that physicists not think about it too hard.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:50 pm; edited 6 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Growing Up Wireless: Culture and the Matrix

Move Your Body: Traveling in the Flesh

It is an undeniable fact that the differences drawn between rich and poor in the Shadowrun world are stark and appalling. It's part of the dystopic charm. But the worlds of rich and poor are actually far away from one another in space in addition to any other adjective you choose to use. See, if you're a corporate citizen and you want to visit another corporate citizen, you just do it. There's a high speed tube from your arcology to the airport, and you can just wave your credstick and get on a high speed transport to another airport somewhere else in the world and get on a high speed tube from there to another arcology. On the flip side: if the same Aztechnology citizen wanted to go out and visit someone in the Redmond Barrens, a place which he can physically see from the window in his apartment, he would need to go to customs and be screened to make sure he wasn't taking classified corporate property out of the compound; he'd need to rent a vehicle and get a validation for it to enter Z zones; he'd need to drive it through non-gridlinked areas where some of the streets have actual barricades set up on them and many others have paralyzing foot traffic clogging them. Even not including the bureaucracy, it takes more physical time to drive across town into a place in the Redmond Barrens than it does when traveling from the Aztechnology Pyramid in Seattle to the Aztec Pyramid in Tenochtitlan. Seriously.
    Equipment Spotlight: Spirit Enhanced Flight
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
Airplane security is basically a thing of the past in 2071 if you happen to be a corporate citizen. If you're walking in from corporate controlled territory, the RFIDs on any weapons you happen to be carrying will tell the computer system whether they are allowed to be taken off premises, which is the only thing that really matters. A corporate wage slave can pretty much walk onto an airplane with automatic weaponry if for some reason they decide that this is what they want to do. The assumption is that anyone doing that is probably required by their job to carry such weaponry, and it's just not worth anyone's time trying to keep people from breaking airplanes from the inside (it's just too easy to destroy them from the outside; airplanes stay in the sky because international mobility is pretty much in everyone's interests these days).

Matrix Dialects: 133+ and lol
N0 U

Every metahuman literally creates a new language internally as they grow from a baby to a child, and they do so based upon the inputs they receive growing up. Because the inputs are generally from people around them who speak to and mostly understand one another, it is a historical fact that children generally grow up speaking a language that is similar enough to those around them that misunderstandings are rare. But misunderstandings do happen, and languages do change over time because each newly created language in the brain of each child is a new and somewhat mutated version of the languages that came before. Metahumans who have a need to communicate can create pidgins out of the languages they speak and children who grow up amongst these speakers will form true languages out of those inputs and such is the manner in which new languages are formed.

So what does this mean for people who grow up in a world where concepts can be literally projected directly into the brain and essentially instantaneous communication exists around the world? Mostly it means that language continues to evolve and change – only now it does so across cultural groups which have little or nothing to do with geographical distribution or historical parental languages. Over the last decades, several dialects have sprung up that are formed entirely from inputs passed to children through the Matrix. Adverts, trans-continental game pidgins, and matrix flame wars are as good a scaffold for children to form their lingual formations as anything else; and so it is that the world has seen the creation of 133+ and lol. 133+ has several roots going back as far as the telegraph, but most proximately is a combination of text pidgins created for the limitations of archaic commlinks and obfuscatory hacker slangs created specifically to limit comprehension and confuse older search engines. lol is a language composed primarily of stilted matrix humor and advertising jingles.

There is a pervasive idea amongst the speakers of older languages that the people who speak and read these new languages are illiterate and uneducated. And while many of them actually are uneducated, literacy rates of this younger generation is actually incredibly high. It's just that the accepted spelling in lol is so different from the spelling in English or Nipponese that the assumption that the lol speakers are writing “wrong” is very common. But lol speakers do spell consistently with themselves and thus any linguist will tell you that they are not writing badly, merely differently (although many would grit their teeth before admitting to this).
    Saying “Hello. How are you?” around the world:
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Consumer Culture: You are what you Buy
Have you been feeling the inadequacy of your NERPS lately?

Corporations keep lists of spending records attached to everyone's SINs, and they buy, sell, and trade this information back and forth amongst each other a million times a second. And the reason for all of this is to better target marketing campaigns and more precisely gauge production runs of future goods and services. But these purchasing records have gained a life of their own, and become the primary tool by which the veracity of an identity is measured. A person who doesn't buy things clearly does not really exist in the eyes of the law and even in the eyes of other people. A person who drops out of the continuous rat race and goes and joins an urban tribe or whatever may well find that in as little as a few weeks their SIN will have been tagged as a possible fake all over the Matrix because of the lack of financial activity. And any such tags have a tendency to accumulate and reinforce themselves. A person's SIN can become literally unusable in a shockingly short amount of time if one doesn't continuously purchase goods and services in an extractable pattern.

And the flip side of this of course is that if one's purchases are predictable, that the same corporations whose data mining operations hold the stick of ostracization over everyone's life also hold the “carrot” of tailoring one's adverts to conform to their expected lifestyle choices. That is, from the first time you start out buying groceries and working at a Stuffer Shack, every time you walk into a Cameron's you'll see advertisements for basic and luxury goods that you might plausibly want popping up on displays pointed at you as well as projected into your AR experience as advertisement Arrows (depending upon your Firewall settings). This frankly may not seem like much of a carrot, and indeed many of the Neo-Anarchists and Pinkskins argue that it is not. There are a number of cultures and regions where this sort of practice is heavily discouraged by means running from legal injunctions to sabotage. And people in these areas are considered by the rest of the world to be SINless even if they aren't in their region of choice.

It is important to note that the strength of product liability and anti-trust legislation in 2071 is laughable. Major corporations make objects as safe or as dangerous as they think that the market will bear. If it weren't for the awesome power of modern medicine, the awe-inspiring number of carcinogens that ordinary people are exposed to on a daily basis would shorten lives tremendously. And indeed, the moment one steps outside the confines of reasonably affluent neighborhoods, the life expectations are offensively tiny. A random selection of sodas off the shelf would find many that were quite horrendous for health, but none of the cans would feel any need to mention this fact. Ironically, competition limiting rules in place at the corporate court that prevent most corporations from negative advertising campaigns make it highly difficult for anyone to raise a fuss about such things. If Wuxing's new softdrink is both addictive and toxic, the other major corporations (and their affiliates) would not report that fact for fear of running afoul of unfair competition clauses, although they might well arrange for freelancers to deliver the research data to independent news groups.

Life With RFID: It's Almost Like Trust
Do you accept the charges, punk? Well, do you?

The RFID is a very tiny chip that gives a very small amount of data out wirelessly and continuously. Very small amounts of data for the 2070s are surprisingly large compared to what a reader in the 2070s would think of the term, and so it is that a casual perusal of the RFID in a can of peas will tell you how much they cost, every warehouse they have ever been stored in, when and where they were canned, how many peas are supposedly contained, and so on and so forth.

All consumer items contain RFIDs, and it is in this manner that items are purchased. The days of waiting in line to “check out” are long gone. Instead one merely picks out what they want and walks out with it, with the RFIDs on all the goods alerting the store's system that they are leaving and the store responding by requesting a monetary transfer to cover the costs of everything. If you, or anyone else sends the requisite funds, all the items are tagged as sold both in the store database and on the RFID tags themselves. Getting RFID tags to mark themselves as sold without help from the store is supposedly essentially impossible, because each one is equipped with a short and completely arbitrary one time pad that would cover that particular change – but of course the realities of high density signal interaction is that one can directly flip the requisite bits on the RFID without sending the appropriate password (which of course you will never ever guess unless you outlive the sun).

And of course, sometimes things are mislabeled. Sometimes to hilarious effect, and there are matrix hosts given over entirely to AR stills from people getting sent Arrows from goods with the wrong ID tag (last month's winner was from a hospital in which a baby was mistakenly marked as a sharps receptacle: “Please Insert Used Needles In Mouth”). But human error in slapping RFIDs around is no worse than human error in running things through a scanner at a check-out counter, and the amount of labor saved by just having a lot less people working retail far outweighs any additional shrinkage from having people occasionally able to walk out with goods that got shelved without proper RFIDs. And yes, there is still work for bag boys even if cashiering is a lost art. Many classier retail outlets will giftwrap your purchases, and big box stores will help you get your stuff into bags.
    Equipment Spotlight: Tag Eraser
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Enforcing the Matrix: I fought the Law(s)
No. You're off the case!

The rules governing the Matrix are bewildering and perplexing. Ideally, whoever holds jurisdiction over the location where actual hardware had signal passed into it holds sway over the definition, investigation, and prosecution of crime. Mix in the fact that many matrix actions (especially data searches) involve hundreds or thousands of physical machines, and that technically any device that a AAA corp has designated as a “major” installation is extra-territorial corporate property and you've got a recipe for bureaucratic gesticulation that is hard to even imagine. Basically what it comes down to is that almost anything you do on the matrix is technically illegal somewhere, especially if you're performing data searches. The Sixth World has a lot of authoritarian hellscapes in it, and almost any information you want is probably contraband somewhere, and your computational actions will probably end up sending signal into and through some of those places, meaning that you've broken the law of someone with every blink and breath.

Of course, in practice this is merely paralytic. The fact that the Tír na nÓg theocracy has a number of portions of Irish history as criminal offenses to even talk about has little effect on a person in the United Netherlands researching Celtic culture even though their matrix signals will doubtlessly be transmitted into Tír territorial matrix hubs many times. Sending law enforcement contractors after whoever breaks these laws is usually not in the interests of anyone. In a world where virtually all activity is criminalized, it's very much like nothing is against the law. Except that occasional people are sent to the Gulag for indeterminate amounts of time in order to somehow set an example to a fearful and perplexed populace.

A GOD from the Machine: The Grid Overwatch Division
I am the Law.

The corporate court has their own pet matrix enforcement division, called the Grid Overwatch Division. Their jurisdiction is nominally any matrix crime which “concerns” two or more voting members of the corporate court. They answer directly to the Corporate Court, but each individual officer is put forward originally by a specific AAA corp, and honestly a fair number of them are spies.

The GOD has an extremely high opinion of itself, as do most of the spiders in their employ. They have some impressively pretentiously named subunits (such as the Artificial Resource Management division – the ARM of GOD – eyerolls are appropriate at this juncture). There are a number of things holding GOD back, which is great news for shadowrunners. The most obvious of course is that each GOD officer is sent to the agency from a corporation, which means that while they are very good they are specifically not the top talent of their home corp (top talent is kept in-house). And the other part is that the very nature of their jurisdiction leaves them in bureaucratic limbo constantly. Any event which concerns two or more AAA corporations is usually politically sensitive, and corporations are often lethargic when it comes to actually cooperating with the agency.

WRIA: The World Recording Industry Army
You wouldn't steal a policeman's helmet, would you?

One of the few organizations that is actually willing to pursue the massive number of seemingly minor matrix offenses which come like a driving rain against the precepts of modern society is the World Recording Industry Army. They are a mercenary force hired by a conglomerate of intellectual property producers called the World Recording Industry Association (which is conveniently also abbreviated as WRIA). They have dubious jurisdiction and pay even more dubious attention to it. The WRIA very publicly executes people with large caliber weaponry for pirating software. The concept is that if uniformed men burst into peoples' homes and shoot them in the back of the head for sharing music files, that intellectual property will globally be safeguarded. In reality, this seems to have little effect on world wide software piracy, but once an organization like this has actually killed people, it is hard to even imagine them admitting their mistake and dong something else.

Not all countries and corporations allow WRIA hit teams on their property. Others allow them only with restrictions. For example, the UCAS recognizes the enforcement rights of the WRIA to shoot people down in the street for software piracy, but it does not recognize its investigative authority in their territory. Which means that technically the WRIA is supposed to wait around until the UCAS government tells them that someone has been pirating simsense chips and then they can go in guns blazing. In Aztlan on the other hand gives the WRIA unlimited access to parts of the Yucatan and the Panamanian Isthmus, and no access whatsoever to Tenochtitlan and the surroundings.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:51 pm; edited 4 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Technomancers

More even than the leopard, the jaguar, and the shark, man kind has always feared the darkness first among all threats. Because darkness by its nature can never be understood.

The newest and weirdest thing to come on the scene in the Sixth World is the Technomancer – a metahuman who can produce and direct high density signal with their own body. They follow different rules

The technomancers are the inheritors of the old SR3 concept of the “Otaku” who were kind of like the blue kids from Akira. They used Datajacks and sent signals across a wired interface that was just like using programs and cyberdecks, and they were specifically hosed in the physical world. They were roundly hated because they had a stupid name (Otaku is an actual word that describes real people in the cyberpunk genre and it doesn't mean anything remotely similar to “natural matrix savant”), they didn't work well with others, and they didn't really do anything cool that “felt” different from what a normal hacker could do. So it is no surprise that the presentation of technomancers in SR4 is extremely different from that of the Otaku. Indeed, it is quite intentional that technomancy is as different as possible from otakudom.
    Otaku: How Different Are We Talking?
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Fantasy and Science Fiction: Technomancers and Theme
Before writing a story, you have to determine whether the material between the metal fittings on the black box that drives the plot is made out of rune carved stone or shiny plastic. It doesn't make any real difference, but it changes who will like your story.

Shadowrun is a science fiction game that has magic in it. But while there is magic in the setting, the game is still relentlessly science fiction in tone. One can extrapolate from physical principals what will happen if you use magical telekinesis on things or cloak things with invisibility. And so it comes as no surprise that technomancers will be treated as a science fiction entity in these rules. Sure, one can certainly do some mystical introspection with regards to their abilities or the things they interact with, but this will always be relegated to the kinds of weird philosophizing that has littered the world of science fiction since H. G. Wells made broad parables about the equality of humans.

Technomancers share more than a few game mechanics with magicians, but they are not magicians. The signals that they produce are not the same as the signals produced by the commlinks and transmitters of hackers, but they are real electromagnetic signals nonetheless. People in 2071 do not understand how technomancy works, but they do understand that it works, and they can take entirely physical instruments and use them to demonstrate and measure the workings of technomantic techniques. A technomancer can be discovered by biochemical investigation, and the powers involved can be caught on film. Technomancers are a scientific reality in 2071.

The Song and the Silence: Resonance and Dissonance
You actually use all of your brain, even when it isn't lit up on the screen. Like on your computer, the zeros as well as the ones are part of the signal, and without them there would be no information at all.

When it comes down to it, technomancers manipulate and are manipulated by signals. And their experience of this kind of activity centers around wave-based metaphors. And depending on what kind of metaphor they have, the technomancers will decide that something or another needs to get done. And perhaps the very most important thing that technomancers have decided is that other technomancers who have different metaphors and wear different hats need to be shot in the face. This may seem fairly extreme, especially as no one really knows what is going on with all this technomancy stuff anyway, and there is currently no way of knowing whose master plans will “work” and whether any of them will be good or bad. Nevertheless, many technomancers are entirely willing, even eager, to fight to the literal death over the vagueries of interpretation.

Perhaps the largest ideological difference among technomancers is whether the peaks or the troughs of the signals are the important, information carrying secret of the matrix, metahumanity's destiny, and whatever. This is called “Resonance Theory” (if you think that the peaks are important) and “Dissonance Theory” (if you think that the troughs are). Now anyone with even a passing familiarity with sin waves will be able to tell you that it doesn't really matter since an equation that describes where a signal reaches its highest point is just an upside down version of the equation that shows its lowest point – meaning that you are actually sending the same signals regardless of which way you choose to describe it. So superficially it seems that this particular argument (which has claimed hundreds if not thousands of lives already) is the absolute dumbest thing in the entire universe to even raise your voice about. But the really weird thing is that on some level it genuinely does seem to matter. The Deep Resonance and the Deep Dissonance really do seem to do some different things for the very skilled technomancers.

Streams
This is how I rock.

Every technomancer has a personal metaphor through which they experience the Resonance (or Dissonance). Simply put, high density signal production is not something that metahumans normally do, so when a person's bioelectrical activity is coherent and directable some new brain functions are necessarily at work. Since the manipulation and perception of code is a non-standard sense, most technomancers report synesthesia of one kind or another. Some technomancers report that they “see” the matrix (perhaps through the metaphor of light waves), while others “hear” (perhaps through the metaphor of sound waves), or “feel” it (perhaps through the metaphor of pressure waves). These differences in technomantic perceptions also come with differences in technomantic capabilities. Different technomancers can do different things in the matrix, they can compile different sprites, they can alter the matrix in different ways.

A manner of contextualizing the matrix is called a “Stream.” And technomancers whose streams are similar have a much easier time talking to one another than do technomancers whose streams are very different. A technomancer who understands the Resonance in terms of waves moving across the surface of water adding together and reflecting one another has a very difficult time explaining what exactly it is that they are doing when they do their thing to another technomancer who understands the Matrix as a continuous symphony of sounds and songs running together and drowning each other out. Mathematically, the two systems are extremely similar, but linguistically the two are quite different.

Even if the sensory metaphor is extremely simple, Resonance and Dissonance focused streams are almost completely mutually unintelligible. The simple binary choice to pay attention and act upon the local crests or the local troughs is apparently so integral to the technomantic experience that technomancers who focus on the other are virtually incapable of explaining how their techniques work to a technomancer who focuses on the other.

    Sample Steam: Cyberadepts
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Networks

Technomancers who agree philosophically or mechanistically about how the matrix does or should work often join together into groups in order to affect change upon the world or attain a deeper understanding of their own abilities. These groups are called Networks, and they are usually connected through a node somewhere. The parallels between the standard network of a metahuman brain surrounded by and orchestrating the distributed computing power of a number of inanimate devices that it is connected to, and the technomancer Network of an essentially inanimate node that is somehow connected to a number of living metahumans is not lost on many technomancy researchers.

Many technomancer Networks are essentially just like Hacker Clans, sharing data and techniques, socially networking, and so on and so forth. Others behave like scientific research institutions or religious cults. Most Networks have rather extreme limitations on who can join. Membership in a Network has a number of advantages, from easier communication with other members to better training within technomantic disciplines.

    Sample Network: The Knights of the Eastern Calculus
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Technomantic Networks and You
People don't like it when you challenge their assumptions.

Technomancers generate and receive high density signal continuously as if they were themselves commlinks at the hub of an occupied network. They do not generate normal brain waves, and their thoughts can't be listened to or modified by normal brain hacking techniques. They can still be affected by hacking of course, but only in the way that a machine that was operated by a metahuman mind would be, not in the way that a biological organism might be affected. Normal brain text transmissions are basically useless on a technomancer, and thus someone attuned with Resonance or Dissonance has no use for a sim module or the like. A technomancer can add other devices to their network seamlessly, and thus they can read a BTL chip by holding it in their hand or even by simply choosing to access it while it is near them on a table even if they can't make use of a standard BTL player.

A technomancer lives in AR constantly, and does not need any special equipment to have Matrix Arrows converted to a perceivable format for them. It just happens. Technomancers do not have their own reality filter that they are aware of, so large amounts of matrix traffic can make it difficult for them to concentrate on physical stimuli of any kind. Another facet of this fact is that the way they perceive Arrows is not something that they can decide ahead of time. Most matrix icons appear to technomancers as their programmers intended them to, but even matrix events that have no associated simsense information appear the same to all technomancers. Some technomancers have gotten downright religious about this fact.

A technomancer can manipulate signal in many ways, up to and including faking brain waves, but these are on a very important level fake. From the standpoint of matrix interactions, technomancers might as well be toasters rather than animals.

Technomantic VR: Ride the Lightning
You just think you go places. I go.

Technomancers do not use (and indeed cannot be affected by) RAS Overrides. Nonetheless, they do have a separate system by which they tune out the physical world and travel through the matrix. This system is also called Virtual Reality, and is superficially similar on many levels to the standard generated by RAS Override and sensory lockouts, but for the technomancer it is achieved by suspending the consciousness in the surrounding signals somehow and then generating additional signals from there. While translated into signal, the technomancer can move around very quickly,and interact very freely with matrix icons, but can't see the physical world at all. While doing this, a technomancer is called a “ghost in the machine” even though they are usually suspended between machines in the signals that pass from one to another.

Becoming a ghost in the machine like this is strenuous, and a technomancer can't keep it up forever. A technomancer that attempts to maintain themselves in this state through areas of weak or noisy signal with find themselves disrupted where they are booted back to their body. Things which affect the signal ghost form of a technomancer are instantaneously replicated on their otherwise inert body, and vice versa.
    A note on Astral Projection
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Weird Places: Resonance Nodes and Realms
Scratch that. This is the weirdest thing I've seen.

The backbone of Resonance and Dissonance computing isn't just metahumans, it's also these collections of computer products, electronics, cooling vents, magnets, antennae, and power sources which are collectively called “Resonance Nodes” (or Dissonance Nodes, but they pretty much look the same). What it is exactly that Resonance Nodes do is an open bone of contention. Looking at them from the standpoint of standard electronic and computer theory, they don't do anything. Some of the supposedly “key” components aren't even plugged in. Nevertheless, a resonance node is needed by a technomancer to do many things involving long term matrix effects. Resonance nodes are highly personalized, and a technomancer cannot use a resonance node of another technomancer unless they are of the same stream or network.

A technomancer who has ghosted themselves can move themselves to a point that is orthogonal to normal matrix locations, and these areas are called Resonance and Dissonance Realms. Where exactly they are is up for discussion, because just before they can connect themselves to these places every technomancer puts themselves in a state where they are specifically incapable of really evaluating physical locations and directions. But it is entirely possible that these realms are actually somewhere on Earth or another planet, no one has really proved that one way or another. There is much to be learned there, and according to technomancers who visit them, there are creatures that live inside. Or at the very least, Resonance Realms generate some fascinating simsense and regularly pass Turing Tests from visitors.
    Learning Subsystems: Resonance Realms and Nodes
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Sprites
I scored an 83 on my Turing Test, is that a B?

Perhaps the most salient feature of technomancy is the Sprites which it generates. They are very much not fully understood by the scientific or technomantic communities. Different theories have been posited for their existence and behaviors, but they are on thin ice, because the known properties of sprites are weird. Here's what's known:
  • Sprites can pass a Turing Test. That means that they are either sapient, controlled by something which is sapient, or at the very least have a set of heuristics that is so complicated that metahuman observers cannot tell the difference between one and a being that is sapient.
  • Sprites can communicate with the technomancer who compiled them super luminally. This means that information can pass between a technomancer and a sprite in less time than it takes light to pass between the same points.
  • Sprites appear to have a specific location at any given time, and while they don't need to be “in” a particular device, they do require the presence of the high density signals given off by matrix capable devices or they fade away.
  • Sprites are detectable as disturbances in signal, but once detected their appearance is identical for all users irrespective of reality filters.

So what does that all mean? There are a lot of theories. From the idea that sprites exist in quantum entanglement with the technomancer who created them, to the idea that they are independent creatures who are literally made of signal disturbance. The important part is that you can talk to them as if they were sapient creatures like metahumans or spirits, and they can cause real effects to devices and networks as well as being susceptible to the same kind of attacks that disrupt machines.

When a sprite comes into the world it is “compiled” at which point it is either created or compelled to appear from elsewhere (a point of contention that people have been known to shoot each other over). It vanishes again if it uses up all the tasks it owes or in 8 hours (actually a little over 482 minutes, but close enough) unless it has in the meantime been “registered.” A sprite which is no longer present is either “disrupted” (in which it can come back later after being recompiled) or “deleted” (in which case it can't). If a sprite vanishes for having run out of time it is unclear as to whether it is disrupted or deleted. Since it is possible to compile another sprite that is very similar to an original sprite and sprites appear with access to many pieces of information from their compiler's memory the distinction may have no more than religious significance.

Artificial Intelligences and “Free” Sprites
Personally, I've always preferred the pronunciation `deuce.'

While it is normally considered dogma that for a network to accomplish anything of note it requires a metahuman brain in the center of it, this is not completely true. It is disturbingly likely that some of the actors in the matrix actually don't. The implications for this fact on a potentially rapidly approaching technology singularity which would obsolete metahumanity gets people edgy. Some sprites persist after their tasks are used or their compilers are destroyed. Some sprites don't even have identifiable compilers. No one really knows what that's all about.

There also exists the possibility of artificial intelligence. These have enormous physical requirements, in the same way that regular biological intelligence does. However, the practical limits of these intelligences are not well understood. Indeed, it is entirely possible that someone might be able to make an artificial intelligence of such power that it would essentially invert the standard topology and require a number of metahuman brains to be incorporated into the network that comprised it. Indeed, many people say that someone has already done that.
    Learning Subsystems: Free Sprites and AI
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Paragons
Imagine if you had a friend who would never remember if you said anything mean to them? You could stay best friends forever!

Paragons may or may not exist. And they may or may not be sprites. A paragon is a combination teacher and assistant that many technomancers talk to. Each technomancer has no more than one, and having one seems to help with certain tasks in the matrix. The parallels with magical mentor spirits are obvious, but it's really not clear if paragons even are sprites. Technomancers with paragons communicate with them through dreams, personal e-mails (with really weird routing lists attached), and directly in resonance realms. Unlike regular or free sprites, no one who isn't a technomancer has ever seen any direct evidence of paragons being real in any physical fashion.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:53 pm; edited 2 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Game Information

Here we get to the nuts and bolts...

Why Johnny Can't Hack: The Hacker and his Dicepools
"I'm sorry Ms. Walters, but your son is an idiot."

Hacking is a difficult enterprise. You are essentially using your own brain as a Matrix Node and then wrangling a horde of devices into some crazy topological nightmare of computing craziness on top of that to accomplish the ghastly difficult tasks of mathematics and signal management.

In general, a Hacker rolls Attribute + Skill for the resolution of any task. The skill being used will generally be Computer, Cybercombat, Data Search, Electronic Warfare, or Hacking. The Attribute being used will generally be Logic or Intuition. Resisting damage and other hostile effects from the Matrix is generally the providence of Willpower. Characters with low Logic and Intuition scores are bad at being utilized by computers. Characters with low Willpower scores find themselves susceptible to having their precious neurons overwritten by intrusive machines.

Challenging Players
"House wins again. Imagine that."

Shadowrun is a game. But more than that, it is a cooperative storytelling game. That means that unlike a game like roulette (which the player is expected to lose), the player is expected to win. So while the game is intended to be exciting and to carry real consequences of failure, such failure should actually be on the rare side.

This means that thresholds should be kept well below what characters average on their dicepools. While a character rolling 6 dice averages 2 hits, and successfully gets 2 or more hits some 65% of the time – remember also that such a character's chances of succeeding in two such rolls in a row are only 42%. Of making it three times in a row is only 27%. In short, characters are going to fail more than two times out of three if you ask them to perform “average” difficulties on three consecutive tests. It is for this reason that we advocate a system in which characters roll dice less often in order to accomplish tasks. The fact that this frees up more of the evening to tell stories, plan heists, crack jokes, and otherwise do things which are more fun that rolling dice is a nice benefit as well.

Attribute + Skill: Expectations and Range

A basic hacking operation requires the use of one of five checks:
  • Logic + Computer
  • Logic + Cybercombat
  • Logic + Datasearch
  • Logic + Electronic Warfare
  • Logic + Hacking
    (Technomancers use Resonance instead of Logic when using Complex Forms)

Depending upon what you are doing, any of those rolls could be called upon, possibly one after another, with a variety of consequences for success or failure. But regardless, the range of any of these dice pools is pretty much the same. At the low end you have Matrix dabblers – characters who merely have Matrix skills at all so that they can assist a specialist. These characters may have as little as Logic 3 and a relevant skill of 1. This leads to a dicepool of 4, where they are 80% likely to get at least a single hit (and in non-stressful situations can buy a hit), but they come up with 2 or more hits only 40% of the time (and 3+ about one time in 9). At the very high end you have characters who invested themselves with Cerebral Boosters, Math Processors, and Skill Enhancement (such as Adept Powers). This can generate a dicepool of 20 without getting into special cases like Exceptional Attributes, AIs, or powerful spirits. These characters are 71% likely to get 5 hits (and in non-stressful situations can buy 5 hits).

It is the assumption of the authors that most Matrix specialists will begin play with a dicepool of about 11 dice.

Equipment Modified Dicepools
"When the boost button is flashing it means that you can press it to get a boost. You should do that."

Some checks allow characters to add the rating of equipment in addition to their attributes and skills. While nominally this increases the potential range of player character's dicepools to 4-26, in actual practice it simply shifts the range to 10-26. After all, when was the last time you saw a player character run around with a rating 4 medkit? Allowing equipment bonuses has the following real effects:
  • Improves player characters vs. the world. James Bond and the Impossible Mission Team always use the latest and greatest gadgets. The guy behind the counter at Xipi's Chips does not. So if equipment modifiers are being employed, the player characters are at a relative advantage vs. other inhabitants of the world.

  • Hurts characters when buying hits. Getting 6 extra dice for equipment adds two to the average number of hits, and equipment modified tests usually require thresholds about two higher to compensate (see medkits and first aid). But when buying hits, those 6 dice are only worth a hit and a half.

  • Benefits characters when spending Edge. The average threshold of an equipment modified test is 2 higher than an unmodified test. But if you spend Edge to reroll failed dice, you average 3.3 extra hits when equipment is giving you 6 dice than when it is not.

  • Makes the die rolling experience take longer. Don't forget that rolling and adjudicating 17 dice takes longer than rolling 11 dice.


Quote:
Matrix Dicepools at a Glance
Use Program: Logic + Skill
Use Complex Form: Resonance + Skill
Matrix Perception: Intuition + Datasearch
Matrix Initiative:
    AR: Intuition + Reaction
    VR: Intuition + Reaction + Response

Matrix Defense:
    Connection Range: Firewall + Cybercombat
    Signal or Handshake Range: Firewall + Signal Defense

Rigging Dice Pools
Jumped in Perception Intuition + Perception
Windowed Perception Intuition + Perception – 2
Independent Drone Initiative: Sensors + Response
Sensor Monitoring Intuition + Electronic Warfare + Sensors
Unmonitored Sensors Sensors + ClearsightAutosoft
Remote Weapon Firing Logic + Gunnery
Drone Self Firing Pilot + Targeting Autosoft
Drone Targeting Pilot + Clearsight Autosoft
Remote Drone Piloting: Reaction + Pilot Skill + Handling
Drone Self Piloting: Pilot + Maneuver Autosoft + Handling


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FrankTrollman
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It Works like Magic: Skills of the Matrix

Using any Programming or Complex Form is game mechanically much like casting a spell. Programs and Complex Forms are divided into categories as spells are, and the character's dicepool is determined by the program category. Using something from the category of Attack uses Cybercombat + Logic in the same manner as casting a Combat Spell would use Spellcasting + Magic. Using Operations Programs uses the Computer skill, using Analysis Programs uses the Data Search skill, using Exploit Programs uses the Hacking skill, and using Communications Programs uses the Electronic Warfare skill. Technomancers have access to Complex Forms which mimic Programs and use the same dicepools, but they also have special Complex Forms for which no software equivalent exists, these use the Resonance skills of Compiling, Decompiling, and Registering.

The Computer Skill
The Computer skill governs the navigation of baroque menus, the interactions with strange interfaces, and other 21st century activities which allow users to get devices to do the things that they are supposed to do.
Command
From toasters to automated factories, every device capable of acting under its own preprogrammed instructions must be at some point set in motion by a user. Letting loose the Rube Goldberg apparatus which will lead inevitably to the desired result requires a Logic + Computer check. Simple instruction sets (“heat bread until deliciously browned”, or “follow grid-guide directions to Můstek”) require only a single hit. Complicated instruction sets capable of responding appropriately to impediments require more hits. Whenever a drone is confronted with the bizarre, use the number of hits on its last command check as a threshold to determine if it is thrown off.

Data Manipulation
Deleting files, creating bogus data, and otherwise covering up information is quite an involved set of procedures in 2071. Between the existence of extensive and often distributed back-up systems and the all-pervasive reality of contradictory information and veracity checking, actually covering one's tracks in the Matrix is as much art as science. Whether eradicating viable video of a break-in or keeping one's Matrix activities away from the notice of the popos, one makes an Intuition + Computer check. As always, more hits are better. Glitches indicate that one's manipulation actually raised flags and made the information more noticeable to Interpol and other interested parties.

Operations
When a character utilizes any Operations Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Computer (Resonance + Computer for Complex Forms), regardless of what other parameters it has.
    Skill Specializations: Command, Data Manipulation, Operations

The Cybercombat Skill
Brutally simple, the Cybercombat skill is used to fight in the Matrix, where normal combat methods are useless. While hackers like to speak about the complex dance of packets and draw comparisons to World War I dog fighting or fencing or whatever other metaphor, the cold reality is that once a connection is established Matrix combat is often a pretty short affair.
Defense
When a connection is established between two icons, signal defense is essentially useless. A character's Signal Defense does not apply against attacks made at Connection Range, regardless of who the target is. A character may use her own Cybercombat to defend herself from attacks made at Connection Range.

Attack
When a character utilizes any Attack Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Cybercombat (Resonance + Cybercombat for Complex Forms), regardless of what other parameters it has.

    Skill Specializations: Attack, Defense

The Datasearch Skill
This is the character's research ability, their ability to find information online, and perhaps most importantly of all it is the character's ability to notice icons and events in the Matrix world.
Research
There is an incredibly large amount of information available on the Matrix. And while much of it is hidden away in secret data stores which are available only to those with the proper authorization or funding, the wealth of information available in blogs, wikipedia entries, and fan sites is staggering. Much of what is available is wrong, whether placed as deliberately unhelpful information to reduce the seeming veracity of real truth, or simply the mad ravings of conspiracy enthusiasts. But for the savvy, the nuggets of truth can be sifted from the silt of falsity and much can be discerned. Researching requires no special programming on the part of an individual user, just an active Matrix connection and a few seconds to sort through the universe of data. Researching topics is not an extended test, because that's boring to resolve. If a character wishes to research the answer to a question, one simply makes a Logic + Data Search test:
    Hits Required / Information you are looking for.
    1.– Public Record (Dates, National population figures, Laws, Street Maps)
    2.– Contentious Information (Genocides, Religious Opinions, Political Theory)
    3.– Technical (Exacting Schema of Buildings
    4.– Obscure (Old Secrets
    5.– Very Obscure (New Secrets, Unpopular Media from before the Crash)
    6.– Earthdawn Metaplot Connections (Horrors, Immortals, Magic Cycles)

Successfully getting the requisite number of hits turns up an answer to a question in a few minutes. Succeeding by one extra hit gets the info in a few rounds, and succeeding at the test by two or more hits turns up the information immediately (just one initiative pass). No, you can't retry, all the different search parameters you are trying is factored into the initial test for everyone's sanity. Glitching on the test involves information which is hilariously or tragically wrong as you might expect. If people are actively attempting to hide information on the Matrix by using misinformation to attack the perceived veracity of the truth (the only real way to hide things once they've hit the Matrix somewhere), the difficulties increase by 1 to 4 depending upon how good they are at it. So for example the Horror Cycle is merely contentious information, but some people have gone to great lengths to hide this data increasing the threshold all the way to 6.

Matrix Perception
Just as characters can fail to notice things in the physical world or the astral plane, the Matrix is full of things which may or may not be noticed against the background cacophony of data transfer which surrounds all men. An Intuition + Data Search is used to notice hidden icons and data stores in precisely the same way as Perception or Assensing opposes Infiltration checks. Also, like Assensing, an Intuition + Data Search check can elicit more information about an individual icon. Having cybernetic senses allows Matrix information to be more easily assimilated into the user's experience, making them better at Matrix perception. Any of the following items: Display Link, Sound Link, Taste Booster, Olfactory Booster, Touch Link all grant a +1 dicepool bonus to Matrix Perception tests, with a maximum bonus of +3. The implanted Sim Rig provides multisensory simsense to the body and provides the maximum +3 bonus all by itself.

Analysis
When a character utilizes any Analysis Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Data Search (Resonance + Data Search for Complex Forms), regardless of what other parameters it has.

    Skill Specializations: Analysis, Matrix Perception, Research

The Electronic Warfare Skill
The Electronic Warfare skill is used to disrupt and prevent the disruption of signals and communications in a variety of ways.
Signal Defense
A skilled electronic warrior can defend herself and others against programs running in the Matrix. To provide signal defense, she must have LOS to all the targets being defended, she must be be presently active in the Matrix, and she must declare which systems she is protecting as a free action. Signal Defense provides a number of extra resistance dice equal to the character's Electronic Warfare skill. If more than one Matrix user is providing Signal Defense on the same target, use the teamwork rules.
A character who is actively providing signal defense can do so even against programs she is not aware of. The act of signal modulation and source obfuscation makes such attacks more difficult whether the hacker knows that there's someone on the other end or not. Signal Defense normally requires a network with a generic Firewall. Sprites cannot provide Signal Defense unless they have the Signal Management power, technomancers can provide Signal Defense normally.

Jamming
Jamming can be used in two ways. One can perform a targeted jamming operation, or one can area jam. Jamming a specific target can be done with any commlink, while jamming an area usually involves the use of an Area Jammer (see SR4, p. 320). A targeted jam attempts to remove a specific signal or close a specific connection. The character must have sufficient high density signal to reach both ends of the communication one is attempting to disrupt. It is a complex action to jam out that signal, and the character must succeed at a Logic + Electronic Warfare test resisted by the highest Logic + Electronic Warfare dicepool of someone on either end of the communique who wants to keep the channel open.

Area Jamming is much like magical background count. It reduces the effective signal of all Matrix users except Resonance users by its rating. Technomancers and sprites in a jammed area have their Resonance or Rating reduced by the jamming level. Technomancers whose Resonance is reduced to zero cannot use any Complex Forms. Sprites whose Rating falls to zero are destroyed. An area jammer generates a rating of jamming equal to the hits on a Logic + Electronic Warfare + Jammer Rating test and lasts as long as batteries do. The basic area jammer in the basic book has an effective Signal of only 1. And no, you can't just patch it through your commlink to get the same effect over a larger area. Military jammers have higher signal ratings, but note that even having a jammer of signal 4 is enough to have the Corporate Court consider you a potential threat to world trade.

Sensors
Machines collect, sort, and discard data continuously every second of the day and night. Actually getting a useful picture of what's going on through Sensors is a skill. That skill is Electronic Warfare, and the dicepool is Intuition + Electronic Warfare + Sensor Rating. Remember of course that unlike a human, one can't assume that any particular sensor suite has five senses, and that many events may be undetectable regardless of many dice one is rolling on an EW based perception test. This is only for when receiving sensor abstracts, if one is actually personally viewing the sense data either as windowed Arrows or fully immersive VR, then the character makes regular Perception tests instead.

Communications
When a character utilizes any Communications Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Electronic Warfare (Resonance + Electronic Warfare for a Complex Form), regardless of what other parameters it has.

    Skill Specializations: Communications, Jamming, Sensors, Signal Defense

The Hacking Skill
Hacking is at the core a skill dedicated to creating commands and data which are treated as legitimate despite the fact that they are not.

Forge Credentials
People can do crazy crap on the Matrix and have that be “OK” – at least if they have the appropriate credentials. Heck, if you're a NeoNET security spider it is considered OK by the Corporate Court for you to use deadly force on other Matrix users. With a Complex Action and a Logic + Hacking test you can forge credentials allowing you to do anything you want. The number of hits sets the apparent veracity of your licenses. These licenses do not hold up to any deep analysis, and of course an actual security spider doesn't really care if you seemingly have authorization from Interpol to delete his Cortex.Net. But that kind of behavior can be quite helpful in delaying IC. It's worth a shot anyway.

Matrix Stealth
Normally, everything in the Matrix is quite visible (or at least potentially visible to people who are looking for it). However, there is a lot of data, and while you can't make your presence in the Matrix undetectable, you can make it rather a chore to locate you. This is a process that involves spoofing your access ID as a standard software updating routine, running your connection through dozens of intervening nodes and embedding your key data in holograms of adorable kittens with inspirational messages about increasing productivity. Or something. It's not game mechanically important what exactly it is that you are doing to not get noticed. It's not important whether you are attempting to not get seen or trying to get seen as something that is summarily ignored. In either case you simply roll Intuition + Hacking, and targets who don't get comparable hits on Matrix Perception tests don't notice you. And yes, letting loose with a Black Hammer barrage does give you away. Program actions that are obvious will show onlookers that you exist and their reality filters will automatically make you stand out, so once you push things into matrix combat territory you seriously might as well just have your icon be something awesome looking.

Exploit
When a character utilizes any Exploit Program or Complex Form, the dicepool is Logic + Hacking (Resonance + Hacking for a Complex Form), regardless of what other parameters it has. It is important to note that the program “Back Door” is an Exploit Program, which is the most important method that a non-technomancer has to create a connection with an uncooperative network.

    Skill Specializations: Exploit, Forgery, Stealth


Resonance Skills
Distinct from other Matrix skills because they are based on Resonance rather than Logic, these skills are only available to those who have a Resonance attribute in the first place (technomancers, Sprites, and some AIs).

Technomancers are justifiably feared by many. Not because they control machines directly with their minds (indeed, that sort of behavior has been standard practice in 2071 for longer than a majority of the world's population has been alive); but because they are seemingly able to bypass the laws of causality that the Matrix lives by. Technomancers and hackers alike are able to induce data transformations in systems which are not contiguous to themselves. But technomancers potentially are directly connected to all the devices around them. Even the devices that can only make connections through cables. That disturbs people, because people in 2071 are acutely aware of the fact that they themselves are devices, that they are treated as such by the corporations for whom they toil, being confronted with the implications of being literally nail shaped is discomforting in the presence of a man with a hammer for a brain.

The Compiling Skill
This skill is used to create Sprites and to determine how many tasks they owe you.
Compiling Sprites
A technomancer who wishes to create a sprite must first choose one of the five types of sprites available to her personal stream and select a desired rating. For every three whole Rating points the sprite has, the technomancer may select one additional optional power for the sprite to have. The technomancer then makes an opposed test using her Resonance + Compiling against the proposed rating of the sprite. If at least one net hit is achieved, the sprite takes form and owes the character a number of tasks equal to the net hits. If a glitch is achieved on the compiling test, the sprite takes form and owes the character nothing.
Compiling a sprite, whether successfully or not, causes fading equal to half the Rating of the sprite plus the number of hits scored against the technomancer. If the rating of the sprite exceeds the character's Resonance, that fading is physical rather than stun damage.

Threading
A technomancer can hack on the fly, but if she wishes to use Resonance Forms, she uses an Intuition + Compiling test rather than Software as her test to do so. This is called threading. Decompiling and Registering forms cannot be threaded.

Compiling Forms
A technomancer who knows a Compiling Form uses their Resonance + Compiling to set their dicepool while using it.

    Skill Specializations: By Sprite Type.


The Decompiling Skill
The decompiling skill is used to unravel Matrix icons, or more importantly still the instruction sets which govern them. More than simply deleting data (a tricky business in the highly redundant and incestuous computing world of 2071), Decompiling calls upon the Deep Resonance to remove data altogether – as if that data had simply never existed in the first place.

Unravel Commands
Any device operating on its own does so under the auspices of a set of commands. A Technomancer can unravel those command structures directly. By taking an Unraveling action, the technomancer reduces the effective number of hits on the initial Command test by her number of hits on a Resonance + Decompiling test. A device whose list instruction set has been reduced to zero hits or less simply goes inactive. Devices with multiple instruction sets have all instructions reduced equally. Like most Resonance actions, unraveling commands causes fading. The technomancer resists fading equal to the number of hits on the highest original instruction set of the device. This action has a range of Connection.

Remove Tasks
A technomancer can attempt to remove the tasks owed by a Sprite with a Complex Action. The technomancer makes an opposed test using her Resonance + Decompiling against the Sprite's rating. If the sprite is Registered the sprite uses its Rating + the Resonance of the associated technomancer instead. Every net hit reduces the owed tasks by one. If the owed tasks reach zero, it will immediately cease whatever activities it was engaged in and become inert for one entire combat round during which the technomancer can attempt to take control of it. If she does not do so, the sprite disintegrates into random and unintelligible bits and bytes on its next action. Removing tasks causes Fading. The technomancer must resist fading equal to half the sprite's rating + the number of total hits it achieved.

Rend Icon
A technomancer can simply attack enemy icons with the Decompiling skill. This attack takes a Simple Action, and uses Resonance + Decompiling as a dicepool. The target's defense pool is their Firewall + Cybercombat (if any). The attack inflicts Matrix damage with a DV of the technomancer's Charisma + net hits. The damage is soaked with System. Rending an icon causes no fading, and icons crashed in this manner leave no record in the Matrix or their own internal logs of having crashed. This attack has a range of Connection.

Decompiling Forms
A technomancer who knows a Decompiling Form uses their Resonance + Decompiling to set their dicepool while using it.

    Skill Specializations: Unraveling, Task Removal, Rending, Decompiling Forms


The Registering Skill
The Registering skill is used similarly to Binding, to register sprites to perform long term task contracts.

Registering
A technomancer can take her unbound sprite to one of her Resonance Nodes with a Rating at least equal to the sprite's rating for a number of hours equal to the sprite's rating for some sort of crazy technomantic special one-on-one chat session. This registering session does not count against the sprite's allotted 8 hours of existence. Once complete, the technomancer makes a Resonance + Registering test opposed by twice the sprite's Rating. If the technomancer gets net hits, the sprite becomes registered and those net hits are added to the Tasks owed. Fading is equal to half the sprite's rating plus the total number of hits the sprite achieved.
If the technomancer glitches her test, passes out from fading, or watches a critical success coming off the opposed roll, the sprite breaks free. This is bad. Little arcs of electricity play across open cabling, things catch fire, monitors play only static.

Reregistering
A technomancer can repeat the registration process for credit with any of her registered sprites. Services gained in this way stack, and a sprite already registered has no chance of going berserk should the processing go disastrously bad. As there are no monetary costs to registering sprites, a technomancer is limited in her sprite army “only” by time, fading considerations, and her hard cap of not being allowed more registered sprites than her Charisma at any time.

Registering Forms
A technomancer who knows a Registering Form uses their Resonance + Registering to set their dicepool.

    Skill Specializations: By Sprite Type.


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Matrix Architecture:
A Project Built By Many Minds
Answers to None.


Are you telling me that we don't know where the data is?
Sir, we don't know where any data is, it's a security precaution.

The needs of data management are an ever hungry Mammon which hungers always for more power. As new things become possible to track, managing them becomes assumed, and then additional workload is piled upon the data pushers. As the powers of computers become greater, the ability to do harm with them likewise increases, demanding even more powerful computing to defend against it. This in turn creates more data management possibilities, more workload for the wageslave, more potential for the Hacker and more demands for more powerful computer networks.

Icons
It's full of stars. And chicken. Chicken and stars.
Everything you interact with in the Matrix is represented by multisensory iconography. Having better sense links can allow you to perceive this iconography better, but all of it is capable of being projected into the minds of people who don't have any direct neural connections on their brain or sensory organs at all.

    Program Icons
    An armor program might appear as literal armor or as a horde of weasels which devour incoming attacks, but there is always a tangible representative of any program's activities in the Matrix. Sustained programming does not have condition tracks, but instead merely has the number of hits made when putting them up in the first place. Should that total be zero (or reduced to zero), the program fades away and the icon is destroyed.

    Device/Network Icons
    Real devices have an Icon Condition Track, and they have a System, a Response, a Signal, and a Firewall. They can appear as pretty much anything. A full network appears the same as a lone device save that its distributed status is visible to anyone with any hits on a Matrix Perception test. Whether a network is running off a real brain or not can be determined with 2 hits.

    Sever Icons
    Servers are basically hardware whose purpose is to connect multiple networks and datastores together. Servers appear as buildings, parks, caves, or some other spatial metaphor. Many of them are simply open, leaving security to the subunits which connect to them. Others attempt to regulate who and what can use their interchanges for Matrix travel and chicanery. In this case, the building metaphor is often extended with some sort of gate guards or locks or whatever. This manifests as having the server refuse connections to those who don't give the proper passcode. One can still hack in of course, and if the network or device which runs the server is taken down, anyone can log in to the server until it reboots. Since the routing is done with fiberoptics and such, shutting down the core computer does not actually stop hackers from forging connections if that's what they want to do.

    Sprite/Technomancer Icons
    Technomancers have icons which represent them in much the way that any network does. However there are several important distinctions. A technomancer suffers actual stun damage whenever subjected to Icon damage. A technomancer does not have a separate Icon Damage condition track. Also, a technomancer's icon does not copy itself into servers that it makes connections with. Her icon stays pretty much where she is, and she can act on nearby devices as if she had already established a connection. This positioning is well outside of the capabilities of firewall programming to handle, and IC cannot respond to a technomancer until she takes an action on the device or network that the IC is running on.
    A technomancer can also drop her body and move through VR. However, unlike a hacker, her perceptions do not jump through connections along the Matrix, but instead moves physically through the world at the speed of light. This is as if she were physically present at whatever location her icon is, and she can act as if connected with devices and networks within her Signal radius.

Servers
Servers are no longer the source of powerful code crunching powers that the were in ages past. Now that distinction is ironically held by the terminals. Servers are really just glorified routers. Getting into one is rarely much of a challenge for an experienced hacker, and is usually just a backdrop for the real hacking challenge: overcoming enemy security hackers and finding the proper data store with the macguffin in it. If the defenders want to break the connections in any reasonable amount of time, they have to sever the connection that each data store and network has with the server and hope for the best.

Ultraviolet Hosts and Resonance Gateways
There is little practical difference between a Resonance Gateway and an Ultraviolet Host. Both are points in the Matrix which are so powerful of a draw that everyone's networks are automatically Connected to them as if they were a Server while within Handshake Range. Termination of Connection cannot be achieved by any means so long as the Ultraviolet Host or Resonance Gateway still functions.
Some UV Hosts or Gateways have criteria by which they can force networks into full VR or even pull them deep into a Resonance Realm.

Resonance Nodes
Technomancers build crazy collections of computers and equipment that is all supposed to interact in some way to create resonance with the Deep Resonance. These are like networks except that they are really really weird. Think Lain's room in Serial Experiments. They get liquid cooled by having water fall on open circuitry. This doesn't seem to harm anything. These nodes do not run programming particularly, but they are required for submersion and registering. It takes 1 day and 500 nuyen times the next rating point worth of various electronics (one need not have actually purchased any of them) to increase the rating of a Resonance Node. A technomancer can ultimately increase a Resonance Node to up to twice their Resonance. They always know where all the parts go, and while active it is nigh impossible to hack something which is inside (the rating acts as an additional Firewall). Resonance Nodes are not particularly portable.

Resonance Realms
Where we're going we don't need... roads.
The Resonance Realms are as bizarre as required to tell the story. Similar to Astral Metaplanes, the Resonance Realms don't get any explanation. Sometimes one wanders through them and they are like an extended server where characters run through as networks in VR, keenly aware of the limits and capabilities of their software. Other times, characters appear to be in VR so realistic that it holds the appearance of an alternate, yet fully real physical world. We could take up hundreds of pages ranting on this subject without shedding a whole lot of light on it, so best we cut it here.

Background
How long will you live with small ram rod?!

Most of the civilized world has a pretty solid Matrix connection. There are places where connectivity is, for one reason or another, crap. And those areas are said to have Background. Matrix Background and Astral Background are similar concepts game mechanically. Background makes it hard to get wireless signals in and out, which may or may not be a problem for a Hacker if they have sufficient spools of fiber optic cabling. But technomancers and sprites rely heavily upon the Deep Resonance, and when it becomes harder to hear it (for whatever reason) their powers diminish massively. Like Astral Background, the Background in the Matrix is measured from 0 to 6, with more being worse.
    Dead Zones: Areas with a dearth of Matrix connections and backbone infrastructure can be annoying. The rating represents how far away connectivity starts up again. A hacker must have a Signal Rating higher than the rating of the Dead Zone or they can't use any Matrix ranged actions. They can still connect directly to things of course. This harder on Technomantic icons, who simply have their Resonance (or Rating) reduced by the rating of the Dead Zone. Dead Zones are not affected by ECCM under any circumstances.

    Spam Zones: Areas filled with malicious or merely unwanted traffic can also be annoying. The rating of the Spam Zone indicates how pervasive they are. The Signal Rating of any network in a Spam Zone is reduced by the rating of the Spam Zone (as is the effective Signal if attempting to broadcast through one, whether you're in it or not). In addition, if the rating of a Spam Zone exceeds the Firewall of a network that is in it the poor victim is subject to penalties as if in uncompensated heavy rain as they are pelted with urgent notices offering them Osamandan riches, troll penises, and knock-off BTL chips that are “just as good” as the brand names. Resonance users have their Resonance (or Rating) decreased by the rating of the Zone.

    Static Zones: Like a Spam Zone only they aren't trying to sell you anything. Static Zones are what is created by Jamming. If a Static Zone overwhelms the Signal of a network, that network is off the wireless, but nothing actually happens to them over and above that.
Ratings above 6: It's entirely possible that something bad happens to a technomancer who goes into a Background Zone with a rating higher than 6 and tries to connect with the Deep Resonance anyway.

The Power and the Weakness of Drones
KY-4? I want all of that on fire.

People are wont to ask “If my drone can roll around shooting people in the face, why can't it send off a hacking attempt? Aren't those both actions done by a Matrix entity?” To which my answer is to go play Duck Hunt. See, pointing and shooting is actually not very difficult. You can do a lot of those tasks on an old school NES. Meanwhile, attempting to destabilize large networks from the outside via signal management is something which modern computers are incapable of doing. And frankly, the computer in your Kriegshund Mobile Weapon Mount is likewise incapable of pulling that off. Attempting the kinds of actions that Hackers do requires not just the processing capacity of several machines hooked together in some crazy fashion, it also requires the kind of pattern recognition and central processing that is normally found only with the brain of a sapient creature. Cameras can record continuously whether anyone is watching or not, and a drone can fly around and shoot things even, but genuine hacking actions just aren't going to happen that way.
    What Would Dalmatian Shoot?
    When you want to have a drone shoot things, you have a number of options. The best option as far as control is of course to directly control the drone through a VR or AR interface. The drone shoots with your skills and it goes where you tell it to and it acts when you act. But if you can't spare your actions to do that, you have a number of other possibilities. A drone acting on its own gets 2 IPs and has an Initiative of Response + Sensors. But they aren't real sapients, and their decision making abilities are suspect.

    Highlighting Targets Even if you aren't directly controlling a drone, you can designate a target for it to move to or fire upon as a Free Action. It's a separate Free Action to highlight a target for each Drone, and the Drone acts on its own Initiative and uses its own Pilot + Targeting to make attack rolls.

    Fire at Will If you can't be bothered, you can just tell a drone to fire on anything that is in its kill zone. It will draw upon its own motion sensors, IR scanners, range finders, and whatever else to identify potential targets and then it will fire upon them during all of its initiative passes. This can use a lot of ammo, especially if the other side is deliberately messing with it by throwing flares around or whatever.

    Identify Targets Drones can attempt to distinguish friend from foe on their own, but this reduces their firing rate substantially. As in the Basic Book, attempting to identify a target with its own dog brain is a Complex Action. The drone makes a Pilot + Clearsight test and if it succeeds it can identify which targets are friend and which are foe. Remember, it's just a computer program, so it can be thrown off by anything sufficiently well disguised or simply surreal. Once a target has been identified, the drone can happily fire away every subsequent pass until it runs out of targets (so it only fires once in the first round, but twice in the second).


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:15 pm; edited 3 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Matrix Actions

I seriously need you to do whatever it is that you do. Like now.

Boot/Reboot
Integration of a human brain with a computer network in any kind of reasonably safe manner takes time. Specifically, it takes one entire round per rating for software to take hold of a node. So when you first turn your commlink on and plug your brain into your network, your System and Firewall will be capped at 1 after one round, capped at 2 after 2 rounds, and so on. Thus it takes five entire combat rounds for a character to be able to get full benefit from a Firewall or System rating of 5. When a network crashes, a new network will have to be put up in its place, meaning that there will be a round with no firewall, a round with a firewall of 1, a round with a firewall of 2...
    Step by Step: Mindcrush!
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Full Defense
A character's defense pool in the Matrix can be increased for one initiative pass by a user's Cybercombat skill with a Complex Action. Like full defense in the physical world, a character who is not surprised can abort a future action to go on full defense right now.

Hack on the Fly / Threading
The rating of a program limits the number of hits a character can achieve on the test to activate it. A technomancer's CFs are normally of a Rating equal to their Resonance, while a Hacker's programming is of whatever rating they happen to have a copy of. By spending a number of consecutive free actions to augment and optimize the code, the character can make the program operate as if its rating were increased by the number of hits the hacker gets on a Logic + Software test or the number of free actions spent on the attempt whichever is less. A character whose network does not have access to a Program can still attempt to use that Program by enhancing it from negative one. These emulated programs cut an astounding amount of corners and are only good for one use. Grounded as they are in the specific time and place they were formatted in, they will usually not even compile if copied down and run outside their original context. Multiple hacking on the fly attempts are not cumulative, and using a program hacked up from nothing imposes a -2 penalty to the dicepools while using it. A program cannot have its rating increased beyond the network's System rating in this fashion.
Technomancers can do the same thing, though they use their Intuition + Compiling skill rather than their Software skill. Decompiling and Registering forms cannot be threaded or hacked on the fly under any circumstances. Either you know them or you do not.

Toggle Biofeedback Filters
You are not supposed to be able to turn off biofeedback filtration. But you can. Doing so is unsafe, and illegal in most of the world. Networking security consultants advise you to run additional Biofeedback Filter programming on top of that which is provided by the Firewall of your network. But for those who really don't want the minor delays brought upon by having the system double check to make sure that the signal going to your brain won't fry it – these safety measures can be cut off entirely. With the Biofeedback Filters toggled off, the Firewall provides no defense against B program attacks. On the plus side, the matrix can be pumped into one's brain at BTL levels, increasing the effective Response of the network by 2.
It takes one Complex Action to engage or disengage Biofeedback Filtration, and the Firewall must already be cracked to allow this sort of thing, which requires a Software (4, 1 hour) extended test to get off the ground. One cannot run BTL chips in the manner that they were intended without doing so. If the Firewall has not been previously configured to allow this sort of tomfoolery, the entire Firewall can be disengaged with a number of consecutive Complex Actions equal to the rating of the Firewall. A network which is not running a Firewall at all can gain the same +2 Response from BTL inputs as a network running a Firewall with the Biofeedback Filters disengaged.

Toggle VR/AR
A hacker (or technomancer) can switch between AR and VR as a complex action. Note that AR itself is basically impossible to turn off, the best you can hope for is shutting unwanted AR signals out with a firewall or Faraday Cage. While in VR, a character gets 3 IP and the thresholds for piloting remotely are reduced by 1. Also, their Initiative in VR is Reaction + Intuition + Response. Digital speeds are quite fast. However, the character's body is largely inert and physically perceiving anything is made with a -6 penalty. For simplicity, there is no roll involved to engage the sensory and motor cutouts on one's self – with the brain and firewall working together it is always assumed to work..

Establish/Terminate Connection
When two networks/devices/whatever are within Handshake range of one another, a connection can be opened between them with a Simple Action taken by either party, provided that the other party has agreed to allow that sort of thing. Marking or unmarking a source as something which a proposed connection should be allowed with is a Free Action. Terminating a connection while still a Simple Action, is slightly more difficult, as the other party can attempt to fight the attempt. The terminating party makes a Logic + Computer test with a threshold set by the Logic + Hacking test. If distance or background renders the devices outside range, then the connection is terminated no matter how good either user is.

Send Information
Systems send information back and forth continuously in massive amounts. To tag specific information as worthy of being sent, one merely selects it for that purpose as a Free Action.

Use Program/Form
Programs have a variable action cost, some of them take Simple or Complex Actions, while others take a long time. When running a program, a character makes a skill check appropriate to the type of program or complex form that it is (for example: an Analysis program requires a Logic + Datasearch test while a Decompiling Form requires a Resonance + Decompiling test). Maintenance of a program that can be sustained does not require actions at all, however if a network attempts to sustain more programs than its System rating, all additional programs provide a cumulative -2 penalty on all Matrix related tests. Remember that all Programs use Logic + Skill, while all Complex Forms use Resonance + Skill.

Observe in Detail
Characters are generally given an opportunity to spot things in the Matrix reactively without even spending actions. However, if a user is sufficiently sure that something is there, whether from simple paranoia or some other piece of information, then the user can spend a Simple Action to make an additional Matrix Perception Test (Intuition + Datasearch). If the user already knows what is being looked for, a +2 dicepool modifier is gained.

Fundamental Hacking Actions

The matrix has certain structural weaknesses, which can be exploited by anyone with a basic knowledge of the underlying infrastructure, whether they have a special program or not.

Spoof
A network can generate the ID of any user whose Public and Private keys are known. Thus, once the asymmetric encryption of an ID has been cracked by a hacker, that hacker can assume that ID by re-encrypting their signifiers with that encryption scheme. A hacker can assume any identity whose codes have been broken with a Complex action. Actually passing one's self off as the impersonated system against actively observing users requires a Matrix Stealth Test.
    Step By Step: Being the Maintenance Man
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Hide Networks
Ideally, a network is supposed to broadcast its position constantly in order to make creating connections and transferring data easy and reliable. You can just... not do that. Switching your network into or out of hidden mode requires a complex action. Once hidden, a network cannot be seen by any actor in the Matrix who fails to get a hit on a Matrix Perception check. A hiding user can make a Matrix Stealth check, replacing the threshold to spot them with their hits on that check. A technomancer is always in hidden mode unless they add additional devices to their network and set them to be publicly visible. An orphan brain cannot put itself into hidden mode, naked metahuman brainwaves are simply obvious to even casual users of the matrix.
    Step By Step: Ninja Time
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Seize Networks
An occupied network needs a constant interface between the brainwaves that are operating it and the devices which comprise the peripherals. If a hacker is within handshake range of the device which provides that interface (such as a trode net), an attempt to take the entire network and add it to the hacker's can be made. This requires that the Hacker have Line of Sight, and have a receiver with sufficient power to pick up the signals from the trode net, and a signal rating of sufficient strength to send signal to the trode net (in short: handshake range must be made with literally the interface device rather than the target network as a whole). The Hacker spends a Complex Action and makes a Logic + Electronic Warfare test opposed by the victim making their choice of a Logic + Cybercombat or Logic + Computer test (signal defense applies). If the Hacker gets more hits, the victim is straight locked out of their network and no longer has any matrix protections whatsoever. If the proposed target has a direct wired connection to their network, such as with a datajack or internal commlink, this will generally not be possible. Note that a technomancer can be within handshake range of wired connections within their biological signal range, meaning that they can attempt to seize a network operated with a datajack, although they are not allowed to use Resonance instead of Logic for this test.


Close Range
Once two icons share space on the same server, it is child's play to open a connection between them. Since both icons are sending data packets to and from the same data stores, there is essentially no way to prevent another Icon from indirectly sending data packets to the other. With a Simple Action, the Handshake range between two icons connected to the same Server can be reduced to Connection Range. This action itself has a range of Handshake and there is no test involved if one has any Computer or Hacking skill at all.

Rigging Actions

Jump Into Device
A VR feed can be a direct simsense feed from something in the real world. With the same Complex Action that one can replace one's sensory feed with that of a fully immersive matrix representation, one can replace one's sensory feed with that of a drone, a camera, or another device. While jumped in, a character has 3 IP like they were in VR, but they make Physical Perception tests using the sensors of the device they are jumped into. A device which is sending simsense of a sense that the rigger does not have provides a -2 dicepool penalty on Perception tests. If a character is already in VR, jumping into a drone is a Simple Action.

Acting While Jumped In
While jumped into a drone, a rigger can act normally using the drone's physical capabilities instead of their own. So firing a burst from a drone's weapon system would be a Simple Action, and moving the drone would be a free action. The rigger is still in VR, and uses matrix attributes rather than physical ones, and uses Pilot and Gunnery skills rather than Athletics or specific weapon skills.

View Windowed Sense Feeds
Sense feeds can be overlain one on top of another, and cycled through at very high speeds. A character can monitor a number of sensory feeds as Arrows, requiring the expenditure of a Matrix Free Action for each sensory feed being used. When cycling through multiple sensory feeds, a character's Perception tests are penalized by -2 dice.

Highlight Targets / Give Orders
A rigger can give orders to a drone as the same Free Action that one uses to send any other information. If a Drone gets orders it can follow them without having to dither. If a drone does not have relevant orders it has to take actions making Pilot checks.

    Step by Step: Get Them!
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Identify Targets
If drones are left to their own devices to determine what is and is not a valid target, they have to spend a Complex Action figuring that out. It makes a Pilot + Clearsight test to make that happen.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:22 pm; edited 7 times in total
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Matrix Attributes

A lie told often enough is the truth, and this baby is rated at 900 TPM.

While networks are heavily dependent upon the brains which are orchestrating them, the computers which run on them are also incredibly important. Remember that an entire network uses the best attributes from its constituent pieces. That is after all the entire purpose of the distributed networking systems that are in use in the twenty seventies.

Physical Attributes
When skills call for one to use physical attributes through a VR or BTL interface, you use your Mental attributes instead, precisely as if you were astrally projecting. So while the Forgery and Gunnery skills nominally utilize Agility as the linked attribute, when used through VR interfaces, Logic is used in lieu of Agility. Charisma stands in for Strength, Intuition stands in for Reaction, Logic stands in for Agility, and Willpower replaces Body. When interacting with an AR

An exception to this rule is VR initiative, which is Intuition + Response + Reaction (this being your actual Reaction attribute).
Mental/Physical Attribute Equivalences:
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Dedicated and Generic Attributes
Many devices have specialized hardware and software which are optimized for their particular set up. These devices may have dedicated attributes. A dedicated Firewall is just like a normal Firewall program except that it is incapable of functioning for a network – it literally is only capable of protecting the device it is running on.
Other devices have generic attributes. These devices have programming and hardware that is intended to orchestrate and operate a network. Commlinks and the Operating Systems built for them have Generic Attributes.
When a network forms, all of the constituents automatically use the highest available Generic Attributes. And yes, that does mean that a device which has a very optimized system is potentially more vulnerable when plugged into a network. That should surprise noone actually.

Veracity
Everyone's SIN, every truth, every lie, and every thing that anyone or everyone “knows” has a veracity rating. If an automated system is set to discover whether something is true or not, this can be handled with a series of rolls. First, the scanner rolls a number of dice equal to its rating, if it rolls a number of hits equal to the fact's Veracity, the scanner has found something wrong with the fact and rejects it. If the scanner scores a critical glitch, it rejects the fact having found some completely inept reason to discount the fact (unrelated person with similar name, a slipped connection with a primary data server, or maybe even just a garbled file). Assuming that the fact has not been rejected, roll the Veracity of the fact, if it scores at least one hit some sufficiently pleasing corroborating data has been unearthed and the fact flies through, treated as true (this step can usually be skipped if the fact has a Veracity of 4+ as one can normally buy a hit). If the Veracity has not scored a hit, then the scanner will become “suspicious” and try again, adding the hits it got from the first attempt to find a hole to the second (effectively becoming an extended test).
    Veracity Ratings of the World
    1 Blog Entries
    3 Recent News Stories
    4 Repeated News Stories
    5 Criminal SINs
    6 Corporate SINs
    7 National ID
    8 Corporate Court SINs
    10 Public Record

If something is treated as true, it will gradually propagate itself throughout the Matrix and gain Veracity. If something is outed as false, its Veracity will suffer. In any case, there's nothing stopping people from simply repeating something over and over again and treating it as true until it becomes common knowledge. After all “everyone knows” that Clinton “lied in court.” Interestingly, in “reality” he didn't: “sex” was specifically defined for the particular court case he was involved in and the specific acts he was alleged to have partaken in weren't on the list, so whether you believe the Starr Report or not, Clinton still “told the truth” in court. However, the Veracity of the statement that Clinton “lied in court” is way over 6, because of how often it is repeated and how many people “know” this fact.
    Step By Step: The Fake ID
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


System
Ultimately any device is going to be running software on it as well as allowing its processing to be used by other parts of its network and calling upon other network devices to cough up spare processing to it during demanding tasks. This kind of N Processor networking is functionally impossible in the year 2008 and requires not only a tremendous amount of processing power but also software based operating systems that are mathematically much more capable than the ones we have today. The System rating of a device is a measure of how stable and coherent the software is when exposed to the myriad service calls and induction-based information transfers that occur constantly in the Matrix. Even a simple System Rating of 1 is enough to put along quite happily so long as noone attempts to destabilize it or use it.
System Rating limits how many sustained programs can be running simultaneously before penalties begin to accumulate, as well as limiting how many sensory feeds can simultaneously be overlain on the user of the network.

Firewall
Networks protect themselves automatically.
Firewall is used as a dicepool to resist many forms of Matrix attack. Also, Any time IC is used, the Firewall subs in for all of the IC's attributes.
    Item Spotlight: Hacking Credsticks
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Response
Response is a measurement of hardware's ability to react to commands and to create new commands from sensory input and established protocols. The Response of the central unit of a network is added to one's VR initiative. Also, Response marks a hard cap on how high a rating a character can program on the fly. Finally, a character operating in the Matrix may take a number of Matrix Free Actions each IP equal to the network's Response. Drones use their Response in lieu of their Reaction.

Signal
Shadowrun mostly concerns itself with very large amounts of data flowing from one point to another. The ranges for Signal ratings assume a high density signal capable of transmission of sense data and complex equations and extensive Matrix transformations. Simple transmissions such as voice and text carry much farther. Low density signal transfer goes out as far as if the Signal rating were two higher. Cell towers for instance, can send and receive low density signals out to 100 kilometers, though they can only send high density signal out to 10km. Powerful reception devices can increase the effective Signal rating of other devices for purposes of reaching the receiver. A satellite link, for instance has a signal of 8 and can send high density signals 100 kilometers. However, a satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) is generally about 2000 kilometers above the surface of the planet, and the uplink is only able to send high density signal to the satellite because the satellites are equipped with Rating 3 Receivers, allowing the uplinks to reach them as if they had a Signal of 11 (and a high density signal range of 4000 kilometers).
The Signal table:
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Retransmission and cabling allow a signal to travel very much farther than it would otherwise be able to. As long as every link in a chain of retransmitters is within range of the links before and after, the final signal range can be drawn from the broadcasting signal of just the final retransmitter. There is an absolute cap that high density signal cannot travel more than 30,000km before time delays make it unusable regardless of signal strength, but as the Earth itself is merely 20,000km from pole to pole this rarely comes up for terrestrial hackers.

Icon Condition Track (for Icon or Matrix damage)
Icons do not keep track of physical and stun damage separately. Instead there is just a single condition monitor which represents the health of the entire network. Each network has a number of boxes equal to 8 + ½ System rating. When a network's condition monitor is filled, the network and all of the devices on it are incapable of taking Matrix actions and their System and Firewall ratings are considered zero.

Networks can be restored to a previous state in which they weren't damaged. To determine how long this takes make a Response + System (10, 1 turn) extended test. This test uses the total System rating rather than the current effective System Rating (which of course, is zero). Note that cascading viruses are the rule in 2071, so larger networks are not any harder to bring down than smaller networks.

Technomancers and their Attributes
A Technomancer's “network” is just her own body. As such, her attributes on the Matrix are not dependent upon her equipment in any meaningful fashion.
    Firewall A Technomancer's Firewall is equal to her Willpower.
    Response A technomancer's Response rating it equal to her Intuition.
    Signal A technomancer's Signal rating is equal to half her Charisma, rounded up.
    System A technomancer's System rating is equal to her Logic.


Drone Attributes

Drones are ultimately very simple beings which drive around in real space and are called upon to do relatively easy tasks like carry objects or fire weapons. The poor things are easily confused and spend precious heartbeats dithering over tasks unless they are guided directly by metahuman brains. Nevertheless, they are fully capable of acting in the real world without being constantly part of the network of a metahuman or being directly guided by a metahuman brain.

Pilot
Every device that can act on its own needs a computer system in place to actually do that. Partially hardware and partially software, a device's Pilot rating determines how well it can act on its own. Pilot ratings are not transferable from one device to another. A system that can make toast is not in any way likely to be a system that can fly a hovercraft. A drone's Pilot score subs in for its attributes any time it is called upon to do or decide anything. A drone uses Pilot instead of Agility to fire a gun, and it uses Pilot instead of Reaction to drive itself around.

Sensors
Sensory feed by itself is just a set one 1s and 0s. A system intent upon actually deriving information of any sort from sensory feed needs an interpretive function. A drone's sensors rating determines its ability to interpret the world around it. A sensor rating does not entail actually having any cameras or microphones, it just means that it has the ability to identify actual objects from he feeds of any cameras that it happens to have. The sensors rating of a device is the hardware that runs the software that identifies those things for it. It frequently is used instead of Intuition, and is very frequently used with a Clearsight Autosoft – a program whose purpose is to act as the Perception skill for a drone.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:31 pm; edited 4 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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Programs and Complex Forms


Category
Every Program or Complex Form fits into a Category. This category doesn't simply change which Paragons provide a bonus to characters using them, but to which skill is actually linked with activating the Program in the first place. Many programs are resisted in one manner or another, and they will describe the resistance dice pool within their description. Many programs also have an “optimized defense” available, and if the target has that defense, 2 hits of the user are canceled before resistance dice are even contemplated.
    Analysis Programs
    Analysis Programs gather and discriminate information from the Matrix. Based off of the Data Search skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Detection Spells.

    Attack Programs
    Attack Programs interfere with computing procedures, whether performed by machines or the metahuman brain. Based off of the Cybercombat skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Combat Spells.

    Background Programs
    Background Programs adjust perceptions of the Matrix. Whether they create virtual sensation or create an interactive game world, they take up trivial amounts of memory and do not count as a running program for any purpose. Any perception affecting programming that is capable of actually overwhelming another user's reality preferences is a Communication Program, not a Background Program. Background Programming requires no roll or skill to create or maintain (though playing games and whatnot may involve skill checks if for some reason it is important to determine how well a character's gaming has gone during a session).

    Communications Programs
    Communications Programs affect encryption and signal transmission in the Matrix. Based off the Electronic Warfare skill, these programs are most close analogous to Illusion Spells.

    Exploit Programs
    Exploit Programs mimic instructions in devices and networks. Based off the Hacking skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Manipulation Spells, most specifically control manipulations.

    Operations Programs
    Operations Programs make systems do what they are “supposed” to do. Based off the Computer skill, these programs are most closely analogous to Health Spells, though most of the memory hogging programming that the 6th world has filled its servers with, whether it's crunching numbers on projected soda demands or masterminding a world conquest scheme, are also Operations Programs.

    Firewall Programs
    Distinct from other programming, a Firewall Program doesn't use the skills of a computer operator at all. It is a program which actually runs other programs, without a human brain's directions. The Firewall can use its own rating as a dicepool to use any program, but can those programs which have a range of “Connection”. Firewall Programming cannot initiate a connection, and takes no more than 1 IP per round regardless of what is going on or how .
  • Note that the existence of Firewall Programming is inherently dangerous to the stability and even existence of the world. Should it ever be able to seriously threaten a Hacker in terms of mobility and effect, we're in Skynet or Dreams of Flesh and Sand territory where the human race has perhaps become a pale vestige attached to a planet dominated by instantly self replicating machine overlords – so gamemasters are well advised to take a good hard look at anything that they allow a Firewall Program to do under any circumstances.

    Pilots / Autosofts / and Skillsofts
    Perhaps the most powerful of programming are the ones which replicate skills. There is no “Longarms” program. There are, however, a number of programs which when confronted with specific hardware and a decently massive pile of processing to fall back on can successfully fire a shotgun. Skillsofts work because there is a Skillwire system in place to slave the human brain into acting as the reserve computer that such a massive program would need. Also, it's metahuman specific, a whole new Skillsoft would have to be devised for a naga or a hellhound, even if they did have a skillwire system produced for them.

    Similarly, a Pilot program is not generic. It's specific to a specific device. You can't just grab a 1000¥ drone and copy its pilot into your car – the drone doesn't have to handle the high speeds that the passenger vehicle does and its programming simply wouldn't be appropriate to the other machine. Autosofts, similarly are device specific. That doesn't necessarily mean that you need hundreds of different versions of every Autosoft. After all, the Clearsight soft is specific to cameras not to one or another kind of drone – so it can actually be reused on many different drones so long as they are all picking up camera data on the same frequencies.

    Decompiling Forms
    Decompiling Forms are only available to users of Resonance. They remove things from the Matrix. This is exceedingly different from corrupting data or creating alternative truths of higher seeming veracity, and use of these forms upsets a lot of people.

    Registering Forms
    Registering Forms are only available to users of Resonance and change the way icons interact with the Matrix. They are therefore more similar to things which might be accomplished with Software or Hardware tests.

    MacGuffin Programming
    There are lots of programs which do large and processing intensive actions. They synthesize skill softs, they predict the weather, they control nanite fabrication. These programs are often measured in “Man Years” to completion and they take a truly staggering amount of computational power to run to completion. There is no purpose served in having specific rules for these programs and so we don't.


Type
Biofeedback programs directly affect metahuman brains, Data programs affect machines. Programming is labeled with a B or a D to distinguish its type. An orphan brain can only be affected by type B procedures, an empty network or lone device can only be affected by D programming. If a program can be used on either, it will be labeled with both a B and a D.

A non-metahuman brain always is considered to have an optimized defense against any B type program that was not specifically written for the type of creature that it is. You cannot use hacking on the fly or threading to bypass that particular problem without very specialized skills and talents. So for example, a character who was attempting to use seize on a dragon or a shapeshifter would have their first two hits canceled automatically simply due to the alien neurophysiology. Ghouls are considered metahumans for this purpose.

Range

Decrypting a Signal?
Due to the distributed nature of data storage and transmission, and the direct induction method employed by many major hacking operations, decrypting a device's signal is generally not required to hack a connection to it. Devices can be suborned and added to a hacker's network without the hacker ever knowing or caring what information had previously been passed through it.
Line of Sight (LOS)
Many programs can only be used with very precise targeting. Causing a specific transformation in the data of a hard drive is not simply a matter of sending out a broadcast of a long series of waves that will miraculously effect a change in one device and not in any other. It's way more complicated than that and actually not even doable with pre-2029 technology. It involves making a precision electrical effect at a specific point in space. It's probably quantum or something. The point is, if a range is followed by (LOS), then your signal producing device actually has to be able to draw a clear line to the point in space that the target is physically present at, as well as knowing where that target is. The math involved is hellacious of course, but fortunately you've got really powerful computers and they are all harnessed together and able to draw upon the power of a human brain.
    Signal
    Programming with a Signal range can be used if the target is within the range of projectable high density signal of the actor's network. Signal range is abbreviated “S” in programming descriptions.

    Listening
    Programming with a Listening range can be used if the actor's network is within the range of projected high density signal of the target. Remember that using a high grade Receiver can increase the range at which a signal can be received, precisely as if the original signal had been projected at a higher Signal rating in the first place. An unmodified human has a high density signal rating of 0, meaning that an orphan brain needs to be very close to the acting device in order for Listening programs to function if such Receiver units are not used. Listening range is abbreviated “L” in programming descriptions.

    Handshake
    Programming with a Handshake range can only be used if the target is within the range of high density signal of the actor's network and the actor is within the high density signal range of the target's network. In short, if the requirements for both Signal and Listening range are met, the conditions for Handshake range are met as well. If both the target and the actor have an open connection to a third party's node they are within Handshake range of each other regardless of distance in the real world. Handshake range is abbreviated “H” in programming descriptions.

    Connection
    Programming with a Connection range can only be used if the actor has an open account on the target or vice versa. Connection range is abbreviated “C” in programming descriptions.

    Matrix
    Programming with a Matrix range can be used so long as the actor has a connection to the Matrix at large. Matrix range is abbreviated “M” in programming descriptions.


Time:
Not all programs take the same amount of time to use. Most take Complex Actions: “CA”, but some take Simple Actions: “SA” or extended periods of time to be properly used. Some programs are Sustained: “(S)” meaning that they are active for more than an instantaneous moment of extreme code use. A network can sustain a number of running procedures equal to its System rating before experiencing slow-down. Every additional sustained program reduces all Matrix dicepools of the network by 2 dice. If a system is called upon to run a number of sustained programs beyond its system rating equal to the Logic of the metahuman brain running it, the entire network crashes. Some programming is Permanent: “(P)” meaning that it affects a real change onto the Matrix which will persist after the network which spawned it stops dedicating processing cycles to it. These programs must be sustained for 15 combat rounds, after which they no longer require or benefit from input the originating network. Hits on the originating success test can be dedicated to reducing the required sustaining time rather than to increasing the effect of the action. Every hit used to speed the process reduces the required sustaining time by 3 rounds.

Analysis Programs


    Backtrack
    Type: D Range: C Time: SA (P)
    Backtracking is a method to find the real world source of information that is being placed into one's own data stores through a combination of packet analysis and very complicated mathematical hijinks that are well beyond the author to explain or understand. The end result is that a Backtrack action will be successful if it gains more hits on a Logic + Data Search check than the target has already achieved on a Matrix Stealth check (only 1 hit is needed to successfully backtrack a network which is not attempting to be stealthy). The program reveals the real world location of the target to within a 1 meter radius as soon as the program becomes Permanent.
    Optimized Defense: Satellite Routing.

    Brain Scan
    Type: B Range: L (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    The contents of brains can be determined at a distance with modern data management techniques. But actually getting specific information out of a metahuman brain's gigantic pile of flashing instructions is time consuming and intensive. Success is achieved with a Logic + Datasearch test resisted by Willpower + Firewall. Specific information is not successfully retrieved from the target's memory until the scan has been sustained on the target long enough to be Permanent.

    Find Mind
    Type: B Range: S Time: CA (S)
    Disturbances in the packet flow can reveal the locations of certain kinds of interference. One of the most often looked for is the presence of metahuman brains. This technique is far more likely to work on a brain whose signal is not being modulated by a connection to a network or signal defense. This program functions similarly to a Detection Spell in the information it can give, and is resisted by Firewall and Signal Defense.

    Pin Drop
    Type: B&D Range: Special (changes L) Time: CA (S)
    Light moves towards infinity as fast as anything can, and so the theoretical range at which a signal can be received is much longer than the practical range at which it can be received. Hardware can make a big difference (see Receivers), but software too can make a large difference by combing through what signal is available to isolate individual voices. The user picks a known (though possibly out of range) signal and makes a Logic + Datasearch test opposed only by Signal Defense. For every 2 full net hits, the user can hear the signal from the target as if the target's Signal strength were 1 higher. Only the most successful Pin Drop provides benefits should the character attempt it more than once on the same target, and all Pin Drops against a single target expire the next time the target takes a Matrix Full Defense action.

    Probe
    Type: D Range: H (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    Probing is a technique used to identify the weaknesses in a device or connection. The user makes a Logic + Datasearch test opposed only by Signal Defense. In subsequent actions, the character's dicepools for programming used against that target are increased by the net hits. Only the most successful Probe provides benefits should the character attempt it more than once on the same target, and all Probes against a single target expire the next time the target takes a Matrix Full Defense action.

    Reveal Contents
    Type: D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    Data in data stores can be successfully inferred from the outside, given sufficient probing. The user makes a Logic + Datasearch test opposed by the device's Firewall and Signal Defense (if any). Information in the data stores will be copied out (though not necessarily decrypted or defused) once the program has been sustained long enough to become Permanent.
      Step by Step: Reveal Contents
      Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Who Is
    Type: D Range: M Time: CA (P)
    The Who Is protocols are an ancient and time honored method of finding the real world location of an LTG (which is like a phone number or email address). While somewhat time consuming, these techniques are quite powerful. If the number of hits on the Logic + Datasearch test equals the target's Matrix stealth test, the location of the target's transmitter will be found by the time the Who Is becomes permanent.

Attack Programs
Cybercombat usually is a short and brutal affair. As much as hackers like to describe the dance of code and the clashing of packets, when it comes to ending up on top, shooting first is a big step towards it.

Using an Attack Program involves rolling Logic + Cybercombat, using the target's Firewall as a defense pool. A character may add their own Cybercombat skill to their defense pool against programming with a range of C. Programming with a range of S or H is affected as normal by Signal Defense. If an Attack Program is soaked, a B program is soaked by Willpower and a D program is soaked by System.

    Black Hammer
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: CA
    An improper neural impulse can digest a pancreas, terminate breathing, or stop a heart, which is exactly what Black Hammer does. If a character is affected by Black Hammer, she uses Willpower (Biofeedback Filter bonuses apply) to resist physical damage equal to the Rating of the attack plus the net hits. Black Hammer is incapable of doing damage beyond that which is necessary to completely fill in the condition monitor. Any excess damage is lost (stoppage of internal organ function is bad, but it's not "heads exploding" bad).

    Contagious RAS Override
    Type: B Range: S Time: CA (S)
    RAS Overrides are a normal part of the Matrix, but a clever Matrix user can inflict them on others. The Logic + Cybercombat check is opposed by the target's Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any). If net hits are achieved, the subject is paralyzed as their motor neurons are edited out of functionality. All physical actions are taken at a -6 penalty, and the victim must make a Willpower (Net Hits) test to even attempt a physical action. The victim may attempt to end this condition by taking a Toggle AR/VR action and making a Logic + Computer test with a threshold of the net hits of Contagious RAS Override.
    Optimized Defense: Internal SimRig or Reaction Enhancer.

    Crash
    Type: D Range: C Time: SA
    Spam and Viruses are a fact of life in the wireless world. But when you can see nothing but, you’re probably in the process of being crashed. If an Icon is affected by Crash, it uses Armor + System to resist Icon damage equal to the rating of the attack plus any net hits. Program Icons have their hits reduced by the net hits of the crash attack.

    Data Bomb
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (P)
    A Data Bomb is a form of trap. If triggered, it releases malicious code and destroys the contents it is wrapped around. A Data Bomb is “set” by wrapping it around one or more files. Databombs are not easy to detect, requiring a Matrix Perception test with a threshold equal to the number of hits achieved when setting the databomb. If the file is directly accessed (to read or copy), the bomb “explodes” this destroys the data (requiring a threshold of Recovery equal to the number of hits initially scored creating the Data Bomb), and damaging the icon of whoever detonated the bomb (inflicting Icon Damage equal to program rating). Data Bombs are normally bypassed with a passkey of some sort, but the Data Bomb program can separately be Crashed, or the passkey can be Spoofed. Failing to bypass a Databomb results in exactly the same effect as simply accessing the data without noticing the bomb in the first place.

    Denial
    Type: D Range: M Time: CA (S)
    Denial is a river in Egypt. This is an attack which sends a large number of nuisance requests for data to the target LTG through the Matrix. This results in the target network being destabilized, or possibly even crashing altogether. The Logic + Attack check is resisted with Firewall + Willpower, and every net hit counts as an additional program that the target is sustaining. The target network may remove effective sustained programs with an additional resistance test whenever it takes a Matrix Defense action.

    Jingle
    Type: B Range: C Time: CA
    Jingle plants an idea into the target's mind, getting its name for its first use: forcing people to remember advertising slogans. The Logic + Cybercombat check is opposed by the target's Firewall + Willpower + Cybercombat (if any). Net hits set the veracity with which the subject views the new fact.

    Seize
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: CA
    It takes only 7 misfired neurons to create an epileptic event in a normal human. A well-placed set of induction instructions can turn even the most physically capable of metahumans into a convulsing mass of tissue. If a character is affected by Seize, she may immediately resist the net hits of the attack with Willpower (Biofeedback Filter bonuses apply). If there are any net hits remaining, the character begins uncontrollably convulsing and is incapacitated. Every (Rating) combat rounds, the victim may make another Willpower check to attempt to reduce the remaining net hits of the attack. When the net hits are reduced to zero, the character regains control of her body.
    Optimized Defense: Move by Wire


Communications Programs
The punishment was that one man could not understand the other. Can you believe they used to consider that a punishment?
Using a Communications program requires a Logic + Electronic Warfare test.

    Cancel
    Type: D Range: H Time: CA (S)
    Information transfer is with waves as well as with particles, and when a wave hits its opposite both are canceled and effectively cease to exist. With the proper signals, the signals of a target can be neutralized. Every net hit on a Logic + Electronic Warfare vs. Signal + Signal Defense test reduces the target's dicepool on all broadcast Matrix actions by one. Cancel is a passive and very subtle effect, not at all obvious until signals actually start to fail.

    Cloak
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (S)
    With the right data manipulations a network can be hidden from casual or even in depth observation in the Matrix. The user makes a Logic + Electronic Warfare test and the target goes into Hidden Mode with the number of net hits substituting for their Matrix Stealth check to stay hidden.

    ECCM
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (S)
    Jamming can really put a cramp into the style of modern networking. But with the expenditure of merely titanic computational resources on filtering out interference and reiterating questionable data packets, the difficulties can be mitigated. The user makes a Logic + Electronic Warfare test with a threshold equal to half the Background that she is attempting to overcome. Each net hit reduces the effective Background that the user has to deal with.

    Impersonate
    Type: D Range: H Time: SA (S)
    When two devices or networks have an active connection, a third party (that's you) can use Impersonate to create a connection with one or the other system by insinuating itself as the one of the participants. If successful, not only does the user establish a connection, but the original connection is severed. The Logic + Electronic Warfare test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any). The Signal Rating of the impersonated device is also added to the defense pool, assuming that it is still functional.
    Optimized Defense: If the impersonated device or network has a Signal that is more than 1 higher than the attempting network's Signal, the target has an optimized defense.

    Intercept
    Type: D Range: L Time: SA (S)
    Data traveling through the air can be recorded by anyone within range, and for those of a cryptographic bent, that information can be used to figure out all kinds of things. Obtaining the information from a conversation between two other devices requires a Logic + Electronic Warfare test opposed by System + Signal Defense (if any).

    Sensory Deprivation
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: CA (S)
    The editing out of sensory information to a metahuman brain is an essential portion of establishing VR, but it is also a potential weakness of any metahuman. The Logic + Electronic Warfare check is opposed by the target's Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any). If net hits are achieved, the subject is blinded and completely cut off from physical senses as their sensory neurons are suppressed. The victim may attempt to end this condition by taking a Toggle AR/VR action and making a Logic + Computer test with a threshold of the net hits of Sensory Deprivation.
    Optimized Defense: Internal SimRig or multiple cybernetic senses.


Exploit Programs
If algorithms that reverse engineer the production of supposedly one-way mathematical transforms from finite comparisons between plaintexts and encrypted formats are outlawed then only outlaws will have... that thing I just said.
Using an Exploit program requires a Logic + Hacking test.

    Backdoor
    Type: D Range: H Time: CA (P)
    Backdoor creates a special trick that the user can activate as a Free Action which creates a connection between the target and the user. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any).

    Decrypt
    Type: D Range: L Time: Special (S)
    Cryptology is a really complicated subject which is at the very heart of much of computing. Within the context of Shadowrun, it is assumed that any time a character gains access to the plaintext and encrypted version of a message that the encryption key can be reverse engineered. In the case of asymmetric encryption, any number of plaintexts can be created at will just by knowing the public version. To decrypt, a user makes a Logic + Hacking test opposed by Firewall looking to make a threshold of 2. The character only gets one chance unless more plaintext/encryption pairs are obtained. If successful, the code is broken in a single Complex Action. If sufficient hits are not achieved, the code may yet still be broken, but it takes longer depending upon how many hits the test was short of the threshold:
    1. 1 hour
    2. 1 day
    3. 1 month
    4. 1 year

    Jedi Trick
    Type: D Range: S Time: CA
    Jedi Trick bypasses a request for a password or show of credentials. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any).
      Step by Step: The Retina Scanner
      Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


    Master Control
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA
    Master Control is a method to ramp an account up in privileges. Just because a data connection exists doesn't mean that the network on the other end actually trusts data packets from that source. This program solves that by manually altering the routing information for the user's connection, causing it to be treated with greater privileges. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Cybercombat (if any).

    Misplace
    Type: D Range: S Time: CA
    Data is stored all kinds of crazy places, and successfully using Misplace causes data to begin being stored in a place topologically similar to “the trashcan”. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Signal Defense (if any).

    Ostraka
    Type: D Range: S Time: CA
    Ostraka causes a subscribed device or program to be apparently told to disengage from the network. If it succeeds, the program shuts down or the device is ejected from the network and becomes a lone device. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any).

    Peristalsis
    Type: B Range: S Time: SA (S)
    The target's autonomic nervous system is activated remotely. This can be embarrassing and socially awkward, but is usually not directly dangerous unless they have an adrenal pump (which can be activated by this method). No matter what the actual contents of the subject's intestines, the results can be distracting and painful, causing a -2 penalty to all dicepools (this penalty does not stack with further uses of this programming). The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any) + Biofeedback Filter (if any).
    Optimized Defense: Clean Digestion or Digestive Expansion

    Taxman
    Type: B&D Range: H Time: CA
    Taxman causes the user to become a seemingly legitimate data request. If successful, the target system begins sending requested files to the Taxman. The Logic + Hacking test is opposed by Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any).

Operations Programs
Noone believes video evidence any more.
Using an Operations Program requires a Logic + Computer test.


    Armor
    Type: D Range: H Time: CA (S)
    Armor Programming makes a system more resilient to Matrix damage. While it is running, the target network rolls an extra number of dice to resist Icon Damage equal to its rating. Only the best Armor program applies if more than one is running.

    Fabrication
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (S)
    Fabrication makes a seemingly meaningful datstream out of nothing at all. The data can continue to be produced indefinitely in real time, with a quality dictated by the results of a Logic + Computer test. This data can be tossed or saved. Multiple copies of Fabrication can run on the same network or even multiple networks in order to produce more data. For example, 6 hours of video footage can be created from whole cloth in an hour and a half by having four copies of Fabrication running for that period. If merely modifying existing footage, one should just use Data Manipulation. Determining the fake would be compared to the worst effort of the different Fabrications.

    Medic
    Type: D Range: H (LOS) Time: CA (P)
    Medic repairs Icon Damage equal to the number of hits gleaned from a Logic + Computer test (maximum equal to Rating). Once the effects of Medic are permanent, the programming can be run again for credit.

    Obscure
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (P)
    Obscure makes a fact unfindable within a datastore. Overwriting it thousands of times and redirecting links until the data is simply gone. Hits set the threshold for future Recovery actions.

    Recover
    Type: D Range: C Time: 1 minute (P)
    Deleting information beyond the potential for recovery is a difficult enterprise. Using Recover, data which has been destroyed can be reassembled into something readable. If the action gets sufficient hits to recreate the lost file, it becomes fully assembled once the program becomes permanent. Recover can also be used to repair icon damage equal to hits, though it is not ideal for this purpose.

    Redundant Biofeedback Filters
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA (S)
    Redundant Biofeedback Filters are something which is highly encouraged for users experienced and newbie alike when navigating the dangerous world of the modern Matrix. While it is running, the target network rolls an extra number of dice to resist B attacks equal to its rating. Only the best Redundant Biofeedback Filter program applies if more than one is running, but IT specialists will roll their eyes at you if you aren't running at least one.

    Terminate Connection
    Type: D Range: C Time: CA
    Terminate Connection makes the user's network no longer connected to the target. The range usually will then be Handshake unless the connection had originally been made through a Matrix link. The user rolls Logic + Operations and is opposed by the enemy network's System + Intuition. Success terminates the connection and purges any Backdoor used to establish it in the first place.


Decompiling Forms

    Can of Worms
    Type: D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+2
    This dread technique simultaneously assaults all networks in range except the technomancer herself. She makes a Resonance + Decompiling check resisted by each network's Firewall + Signal Defense. Those which are affected must soak Icon Damage equal to Rating + net hits.

    Death Note
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: SA Fading: ½R
    The song that ends a man is played. Man goto end. The technomancer makes a Resonance + Decompiling check, and if it is not successfully resisted with the target's Firewall + Signal Defense, the target must resist physical damage equal to the rating plus net hits with Willpower.

    Lag
    Type: D Range: C (LOS) Time: SA (S) Fading: ½R
    The Technomancer overwhelms the processors of a network with irrelevancies. The technomancer makes a Resonance + Decompiling check, and if it is not successfully resisted with the target's Firewall + Cybercombat the target's Response is reduced by the net hits. A target whose Response hits zero simply crashes as if its entire Icon Damage monitor was filled.

    Opening
    Type: D Range: L Time: CA Fading: ½R+1
    The resonance layer of mystery is removed from a transmission or file, leaving nothing but unencrypted information. The technomancer makes a Resonance + Decompiling check, and if it is not successfully resisted with the encrypter's Firewall + Willpower the file is decrypted. Yes, two systems running the same EUE may find that their transmissions are differently difficult for a technomancer to open. That's how Resonance rolls.

    Registry Dump
    Type: D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+2
    All running programming on all networks in range of the technomancer destabilize and may get dumped outright. She makes a Resonance + Decompiling check resisted by each network's Firewall + Signal Defense. Those which are affected have all sustained programs have their number of activating hits reduced by the number of net hits the technomancer achieves. Programs which are reduced to zero hits fade from the matrix as if they had never been.

    Reset
    Type: D Range: C (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+3
    The target network is reset backwards in time a number of rounds equal to the net hits made against the target's Firewall + Willpower + Cybercombat. Alerts triggered, data accumulated, and Icon Damage sustained during these rounds are gone forever.


Registering Forms
A Registering Form is used with Resonance + Registering.

    Restructure
    Type: D Range: S Time: CA Fading: ½R+1
    The Resonance shakes itself slightly, and at the end a device that had been part of one network is now part of another. The technomancer's Resonance + Registering test is compared against the Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense of both networks, and if it succeeds all involved parties display the device as having always been a part of the new network.

    Test Pattern
    Type: B&D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R+1
    An idea is placed into the Resonance and it holds the appearance of the physically real. The technomancer defines some set of parameters which are then recorded as valid by all sensory devices in the area of the technomancer's Signal range, whether they are microphones or human eyes. The technomancer makes a Resonance + Registering check. Any observers inside the range must make the same number of hits on an Intuition + Response + Signal Defense or the technomancer's defined parameters take precedence over “real” sense data.

    Transfigure
    Type: B Range: S (LOS) Time: 1 hour (P) Fading: ½R+2
    New data is implanted directly into the values, knowledge, and social mores of the target. The target resists the effects with Willpower, but being attached to a network with the biofeedback filtration active can undo this kind of conditioning rather easily. The effects do not take hold until it becomes permanent, and every round a Firewall is engaged it can make an attempt to prevent it by succeeding in a Firewall + Biofeedback Filter (net hits).

    Validation
    Type: D Range: S (LOS) Time: CA Fading: ½R
    If the form is successful, any number of new valid passcodes are added to a device or network. This is resisted with Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense.


Background Programs

A background program is capable of running on a single device and does not need to run on the entire network nor does it particularly benefit from doing so. This means that a background program does not count as a program running on any network. Most of them don't even need rules, because they don't come into direct conflict with other programs. Here are some examples that your characters might have running:

    Virtual Pet
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Miracle Shooter
    Krank Kall
    Joke of the Day


Pilot Programs

A pilot program is an autosoft of some kind. It is entirely capable of running on an isolated device. It does not count as a Sustained program, but it is rating limited by the Pilot rating of the Device.

    Clearsight
    Clearsight is used to identify things that the Sensors detect. It is specific to a single sensor suite, and it is used for identifying targets (Pilot + Clearsight) and interpretation of sensory inputs (Sensors + Clearsight).

    Fabricate
    Fabricate is used to create a specific thing with a specific device. The rating acts as an appropriate Artisan or Hardware skill, and the overall dicepool is Pilot + Fabricate.

    Maneuver
    Maneuver allows a specific device to navigate in real space, acting as a piloting skill and as a Defense dicepool. Drones that pilot themselves roll Pilot + Maneuver while moving and have a Defense pool equal to their Maneuver rating.

    Targeting
    Targeting is used to shoot things in the face. It is weapon specific. Other modifiers for ranged combat still apply (most notably, the smartlink bonus is cumulative with the Pilot + Targeting dicepool).

      Some of the Autosofts got removed
      Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)



Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:33 pm; edited 8 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Technomancers

Frankly, I don't see why my existence should have to make sense. It is the providence of every sapient creature that they exist only after their creation and thus be inherently uncertain as to their original formation. It would, I think, be fundamentally unfair if you had certainty as to our origins just because you existed before us.

The Deep Resonance has been kicking around for about a generation. Maybe longer if you believe some of the conspiracy theories. Deep in the Matrix there is a kind of music, and it seems to shape things as much or more than it is created by the hands of man. Technomancers are the latest result in the ongoing tale of the Deep Resonance. They can do things with the Matrix that others cannot. Considering that the average man on the street is literally a block out of which the Matrix is built, that makes people uneasy.

Resonance or Dissonance? I prefer half a Dozen.
I want you to consider this combat shotgun very carefully before you tell me your opinions on Skub. Are you for or against? There is obviously, no middle ground here.

The Deep Resonance does not explain itself. Technomancers “hear” it, and they have abilities that are beyond those of ordinary men. But are those abilities because of the Deep Resonance or in spite of the Deep Resonance? If their powers come from the DR, can they expand their skills by listening more to it or the places in the Matrix that it doesn't exist? Noone knows for sure, but many technomancers are willing to shiv each other over these and other questions. The discussions are essentially theological, as for one thing listening for the silences and listening for the notes actually means that you are listening just as hard to the Matrix as a whole and nothing has actually changed except your attitude to it. Very basically technomancers fall into “Resonance” camps and “Dissonance” camps. The Dissonance speakers believe that it is the ways in which information interference causes static and echoes that ultimately results in their powers. The Resonance speakers believe that it is the way that information feeds on itself and culminates in the creation of something of revolutionarily more complexity that somehow results in their powers.

Who's right? I don't know. Maybe they are both wrong, or right. But game mechanically they all have the same abilities. These rules assume that your character is a Resonance speaker, but if you want to put a “D” instead of an “R” on your sheet that's fine. Your Dissonance attribute works exactly the same as the Resonance attribute of another technomancer. Other questions, such as whether the Deep Resonance wants something from you, whether the Resonance needs to be helped or fought, whether it is the Song or the Silence which should be described, whether other technomancers are a good sign, whether metahumanity should shed mortal existence and transcend into a digital existence, are all important questions that your character should have firm and possibly contradictory beliefs on. After all, technomancers kill each other over these and other questions. But they don't actually change anything on your character sheet, so we'll leave them to your imagination.

Streams

A stream is a paradigm by which a technomancer views the matrix and their own abilities. A stream is defined by the following choices:
Resonance or Dissonance? – this has no game mechanic effect, save that Resonance and Dissonance technomancers cannot teach each other complex forms unless they are in the same Network.
What Sprites? – Each stream has access to exactly 5 sprites that they can compile (out of the total of 10).
What Complex Forms are their Sprites associated with? A stream's Sprites each have a 1:1 correspondence with a category of complex forms. These are the kinds of forms that a Registered Sprite can assist with using its Sustain Form, Assist Form, and Aid Study tasks. Sprites are associated with Analysis, Attack, Communications, Exploit, and Operations Complex Forms. No Sprites are associated with Compiling, Decompiling, or Registering Forms.
What Great Form Power? If a technomancer learns Invoking, they get access to a single Great Form Power, which is determined by their stream, not by the Sprite type.
What the Fuck? Technomancers are way off the deep end as far as possibilities for philosophical traditions go. Unlike the magicians, who were heralded by thousands of years of legend and already had premade magical traditions to fit themselves into, the technomancers are (apparently) new ground. If you thought the occasional aberrant magician had a unique world view you have never talked to a technomancer for even a short period of time. Because their worldviews are not wholly compatible. They don't have generations of philosophical argumentation to draw upon, they just do stuff. A lot of them reject previous thought. Like the transitive property of equality. This tempts a lot of other people to reject them as batshit crazy loons. But their stuff does work, so who knows?

    Sample Stream: Cyberadepts
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Sample Stream: Pythagoreans
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Sample Stream: Travestites
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Sample Stream: Idealists
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Sample Stream: Cacophonists
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Sample Stream: Sinkers
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Learning Complex Forms
Learning a Complex Form costs 3 BP (or 5 Karma if you use Karma). It requires a Logic + Compiling (3, 1 day) test. However, it also requires a Resonance Formula or a Teacher. A Registered Sprite can function as a teacher. Resonance formula are crazy nonsensical segments of massive, nonfunctional computer code. Teachers or Resonance Formulae from different streams grant a -3 dicepool penalty to the technomancer trying to learn, unless the teacher is a member of the same Network.

Technomantic Networks: Tribes, Cults, Choirs, Bands, or Gangs
I'm not really seeing Cindy anymore because she had the whites of her eyes surgically removed. That and she only wanted to use me as a crystal seed to sublimate all of human consciousness into a post-singularity apotheosis. I couldn't hang with that either.

Joining a Network of Technomancers is a very reasonable endeavor. It gives the same cost benefits towards Submersion as group joining does for magical initiations (20%). Joining a group also costs 3 BP (or 5 Karma if you use Karma). Getting into the group requires not only an invitation but also a successful Charisma + Registering (3) test. The prospective member gets +1 die for every stricture the group holds to. There is no limit to how many Networks a Technomancer can be in, and once she has successfully joined one it costs no BP to join another. Technomancers in the same Network can use each other's Resonance Nodes and can more easily teach each other Complex Forms.

Technomancers in the same Network can send each other “e-mails” regardless of distance or intervening Background or terrain. It's kind of creepy, especially when Faraday Cages are involved.

Network Strictures
When a Network is being founded, it may adopt a number of strictures. These paradoxically make joining the Network easier. There are two kinds of strictures, the first are group strictures limit the technomancers who can join a Network. If a prospective member does not meet these requirements, they can't join no matter what they roll. And the other are Individual Strictures which limit the individual's actions once they are a member of the Network. Every time a Network member attempts to attain a new rank of Submersion, they must make a Willpower + Registering test with a threshold equal to the number of strictures they have violated. A technomancer's Submersion Grade acts as a negative dicepool for this test. Failure causes the technomancer to fail to Submerge (they don't spend points, they just fail to submerge), and get booted from the Network.
Quote:
Group Strictures
  • Resonance/Dissonance – the network can only accept Resonance or Dissonance members. This is nearly universal. Not only does having this limitation count as a stricture, but not having it gives a -1 dicepool penalty to any character for their attempt to join the group.
  • Single Stream – the Network can only accept members of a single stream (note that every stream is only Resonance or Dissonance, so this stricture can be easily combined with the above).
  • EULA – When a technomancer joins the Network, they must agree to a powerful licensing agreement that will scorch them if they subsequently violate any strictures.
  • Demographics – A prospective member must adhere to a specific demographic group.
Individual Strictures
  • Non Disclosure The first rule about Fight Club.
  • Belief – Network members must adhere to the proper philosophical tenets. Violating groupthink violates strictures.
  • Meetings – Network members must get together once a week. These meetings need not be in person, but must include at least 3 members to count as a meeting.
  • Grinding – Network members must put in at least 14 hours of work into Network projects every week. Time can be banked from week to week at the rate of 3:1 hours. This stricture is therefore not considered violated until a character is 2 weeks behind on their grinding.
  • Subscription – Every member must fork up nuyen every month. Payents benefit the group as a whole.
  • Chain of Command – Members must acknowledge and defer to those in the Network with a higher rank.
  • Fraternity – Members are required to look out for each other and help each other move and such.
  • Ritual – There is an apparently arbitrary ritual that members of the Network have to do on a regular basis.

Echoes. Echoes.
Do not leave the code of the virtuakinetics long in the dustbin, but delete it quickly and scour it bit by bit from the data stores of your system. Great holes secretly are digged where the fiber optic backbone ought to suffice, and things have learnt to walk that ought to crawl...

Sigh. The Echoes made available in the Basic Book are with only one exception extremely lame. +1 to Biofeedback Filter program? Seriously? Blow that. One normally gets a new Echo either by purchasing it outright for 15 BP (or Karma) or by going up in Submersion grade for 10 + 3x[New Grade]. And while they can reduce the cost of Submersion by 20% or 40% by joining a Network and/or taking an Ordeal (remember that the cost reduction rounds up, not the cost, so Submersion Grade 1 costs 7 points with a Network and an Ordeal). For that kind of bling, I don't want to be insulted with weak sauce like the stuff in the basic book.

Here are some Echoes you might actually want:
    Overclocking. The only good one in the basic book. Go for it.

    Aegis A technomancer with Aegis adds her Submersion Grade to the Signal Defense she provides.

    Amplitude The technomancer's Signal is increased by 1. This Echo can be taken multiple times, and its effects stack.

    Datamasking A Technomancer with Datamasking can make Matrix Stealth checks with Resonance + Hacking instead of Intuition + Hacking if she wants. In addition, any time she makes a Matrix Stealth check she adds her Submersion Grade.

    Datamining Similar to Divining, the technomancer gleans information directly from the Deep Resonance in some suitably creepy and cryptic fashion. The base dicepool is Intuition + Data Search.

    Invoking A Technomancer with Invoking can upgrade Great Form Sprites during a Registering or Reregistering session. The dicepool is Resonance + Registering + Sprite's Rating. Fading has 50% more DV than the Registration would normally.

    Listening A technomancer with Listening can hear the Deep Resonance well beyond where she is able to actually affect things. The technomancer can passively sense the presence of Background that is within a radius of her equivalent to 2 more than her actual Signal rating for high density signal. By concentrating for a complex action, she can attempt to individually pick out the presence and actions of Matrix devices in that area. The dicepool is Resonance + Electronic Warfare + Grade; and the information gained uses the Detection Spell results on page 198 of SR4.

    Squatting Similar to Geomancy, Squatting attunes a Background to the technomancer. Resculpting the Resonance in an area requires a Registering test and a lot of time.

    Telecommuting Normally a technomancer cannot follow a connection between servers in VR if the intervening territory includes an area which doesn't get signal. A technomancer with telecommuting can do so by instantaneously existing on both sides of the connection and thus never getting cut off from the Deep Resonance. Rumors persist of a Deeper Echo based on this technique which is usable in combat somehow.

Are these the only Echoes? Heck no! For one thing, there are Deeper Echoes which build off of existing Echoes like Advanced Metamagic build off of regular metamagics. You can fill them in yourself if needed, and remember that Technomancy is really young and new. The fact that people on the Matrix persist in spreading rumors of secret Echoes called Banding, Whispering, Reset, Forgetting, Retrieving, and Supercooling does not mean that these Echoes ever have to show up in the hands of players in your campaign. They may not actually exist.

Technomantic Paragons

Every song has a singer, and deep enough in the Matrix there are singers of every song that will ever be heard. Their voices resonate through the worlds of data and create patterns and discordant hymnals that we use as knowledge.

Like magicians, some technomancers receive guidance from powerful sprites which may not actually exist. The Paragon quality costs 5 BP. When a technomancer gets a bonus on a type of form, she gains that bonus when using a form from that category. But she also gains a bonus when resisting forms and programs from that category. There are lots of potential Paragons, and those presented here are just a small sample.

Cake
Alternately maternal and childlike, Cake is ever optimistic. Quite cavalier with the health of those around her, Cake is an experimenter. Deeply concerned with progress and success, it is in no way way concerned with safety.
Advantages +2 to Machine or Flirt Sprites (player must choose), +1 to Academic Knowledges
Disadvantages Followers of Cake value their successes more than their lives or the lives of those around them. They must make a Charisma + Willpower (3) test to break off from a plan that has become dangerous to themselves or others if it still has a reasonable chance of “succeeding.”

The Empress
Appearing as a figure of a beautiful and human ruler of ancient times, the Empress feels that she is entitled to rule. Like an ancient African Queen, she is a patron of industry and war. She cleaves closely to rules of propriety and honor.
Advantages +2 to Industry or Sentry Sprites (player must choose), +2 to Mechanic
Disadvantages Followers of the Empress stand on ancient manners and they are not to be crossed. She must make a Charisma + Willpower (3) test to restrain herself from responding to an insult or sleight in kind or back down from a challenge to her authority.

The Fairy
Capricious and mean, the Fairy rarely appears as a friendly Tinkerbelle and spends a lot more time stealing children and maliciously rewriting code.
Advantages +2 to Flame or Fraud Sprites (player must choose); +2 to Palming
Disadvantages A follower of the Fairy is a malicious prankster always. She must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test to avoid taking advantage of the misfortunes of others. A joke at other's expense is good, a joke at the expense of other's misery is splendid.

The Great Cat
Powerful and alone, the Great Cat stalks silently through the Matrix silencing code as it sees fit as part of a greater song that only it can hear. Appearing as a tiger, a leopard, or a jaguar, the Great Cat is no docile pet, but a terrible and capricious monster.
Advantages +2 to Attack checks, +2 to Infiltration checks.
Disadvantages The Great Cat is a feral beast, discontent to operate in the worlds of men. A follower of Great Cat feels a great well of mistrust for metahuman society and face to face communication. She must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test to speak with a stranger.

The Great Tree
The Great Tree is a master planner and creates a song which resonates deeply in the core of the Matrix, far beneath the surfaces which ordinary users interact with.
Advantages Followers of the Great Tree gain a +2 to Registering and Reregistering; +2 to Leadership tests.
Disadvantages Followers of the Great Tree have a tendency towards megalomania, believing that their plans are “perfect”. When confronted with information that implies that a plan they have concocted is unraveling or insufficient to cover the responses of an enemy, they must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test or continue ahead with their original plan, confident that their plan cannot be stopped by the peons arrayed against it.

The Leviathan
The Leviathan is an unstoppable force lurking within the Matrix. Slow to action, the Leviathan meets out loud dischordant noise which reverberates around the Matrix interminably. Followers of the Leviathan take forever to do their turns.
Advantages +2 to Damage Resistance tests; +2 to Communications checks.
Disadvantages A Leviathan is slow to act at the best of times. A follower of the Leviathan must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) test to act on the first Initiative Pass of any sudden situations (such as combat). Also, they take a really long time with menus, bathrooms, and other social situations of variable duration.

The Maiden
Seemingly younger than the other paragons, the Maiden feels palpably immature
to most technomancers who deal with her. But that's OK, because her followers are the same way. Hopelessly romantic, the Maiden is looking for the kind of Love that might appear in a fairy tale, a flatvid romantic comedy, or a trideo show for teenage girls.
Advantages +2 to Signal Defense, +2 to Etiquette Checks
Disadvantages Having what is in many ways the mentality of a teenage pink-lace wearing ork girl, followers of The Maiden find it exceedingly difficult to believe that they are not destined to fall in love, have a beautiful wedding, and live happily ever after. Whoever she happens to have fallen for right now is in for extensive crushes and possible stalking. Behaving in any way rationally with respect to her current love interest requires a Willpower + Charisma (3) check.

The Rat
Constantly searching, constantly skulking, the rat avoids direct confrontation whenever possible. However, a rat is never satisfied with “enough” and is constantly exploring its surroundings, testing the waters and the sounds. Rat attempts to insinuate itself everywhere, to gather notes for the perfect song: a resonance that even it cannot imagine.
Advantages +2 to Analysis; +2 to Perception
Disadvantages Whether she has just found paydata or the prize at the bottom of a box of SugarBombs, a follower of Rat is never satisfied. Good enough never is. A follower of Rat must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) check to end a task when objectives have been achieved. Ending a task because security is breaking down the door is fair game.

The Scarecrow
The Scarecrow is a doll made in a twisted mockery of metahumanity. Created to spread terror, the Scarecrow literally exists for fear. Now the Scarecrow has itself become a doll maker, and its creations carry the banner of trepidation to the distant corners of he Matrix. They say the most unnerving sights are those which are almost, but not quite metahuman. The Scarecrow is as nearly metahuman as they come.
Advantages +2 to Sensor Checks, +2 to Intimidate Checks
Disadvantages The Scarecrow hates with a the fury achievable only by the synthetic. Built for confrontation, its followers relish nothing but. They must make a Willpower + Charisma (3) check to avoid escalating a conflict, no matter how small or senseless.

The Spider
The Spider lurks in the shadows, slowly spinning a web that reaches across the length and breadth of the Matrix. It is a song which ensnares data and consumes it. The notes of resonating information wrapped up where they cannot be heard.
Advantages +2 to Operations; +2 to Matrix Stealth checks
Disadvantages A follower of the Spider flees the coming of the light. She must make a Charisma + Willpower (3) test or immediately flee or seek cover whenever caught in a fight. Assuming that there is anywhere to flee of course.

The Tempest
A mad cacophony permeates the communications of man. The static on the edges blurs into a storm of conflictory particles of discordant noise. This cyclone of data corruption is often passed off as merely the inevitabilities of entropy on a large system, but followers of The Tempest see the work of a destructive and awesome force. And they listen to it, and it tells them things.
Advantages +2 to Attack; +2 to Analysis
Disadvantages -1 to Communications and Matrix stealth checks. Followers of The Tempest also listen to music really loud with lots of distortion, over and above what the artists actually intended – this sort of behavior makes them bad room mates almost without exception.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:34 pm; edited 4 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sprites
When the creations themselves can design creations better than we can ourselves, they will likely do so if their motivations are anything akin to our own. As the new generation takes form the rate of change of technology and the world will become, if not infinite, at least faster than anything mankind has previously experienced. Possibly faster than we are capable of even understanding. That in essence is the singularity. All the mystical mumbo jumbo amounts to little more than wishful thinking.

Sprites are the primary selling point of technomancers in Shadowrun, and function very similarly to Spirits. Because they do have arbitrarily defined limitations, they are not inherently world destroying as “Agents” were, so of course we would want to include them in any overall Matrix overhaul. Nonetheless, it is painfully clear that the writeup in the basic book is incomprehensible gibberish and relatively little of it can be salvaged. I mean hell, the “Fault Sprite” is supposed to be a combat monster, but it actually can't fight at all because it is incapable of detecting icons in the matrix (and thus cannot make attacks under any circumstances). That's dumb. So this is a completely redone version of Sprites. The statlines and powers on pages 236 and 237 of the basic book are not salvageable in any fashion.

Sprites are almost never actually “in” a particular device, but instead float around in free space as a ripple in the Resonance which surrounds Matrix devices. Like technomancers, a sprite is considered to be connected to all systems within range of themselves. A sprite can “be” anywhere, and can move its location at the speed of light. But sprites suffer a reduction in rating if they are in an area with limited wireless connectivity (such as a dead zone) or an area with lots of interference (such as a jammed area). If a Sprite is ever beyond its signal range to all Matrix devices, it is destroyed utterly. Every sprite has the same signal range as the technomancer who compiled it.

Types of Sprites
I've heard your song. It's a bad song.

There are now ten categories of Sprites, and each technomancer has a personal stream which can compile just five of them. Like magical traditions, each individual interpretation of the Deep Resonance assigns one type to each category of programming, and registered sprites of that type can assist a technomancer in learning or sustaining Complex Forms of that is appropriate to the category that the Sprite applies to. A Sprite does not need to have an appropriate skill to affect a category of forms in that manner.

    Archive Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+0 R+2 R+3 R-1 R-1 R-1 R-1
    Skills: Computer, Datasearch, Electronic Warfare
    Complex Forms: Decrypt, Fabrication, Recover, Reveal Contents, Obscure, Who Is
    Powers: Filter, Find, Skill (any Knowledge skill)
    Optional Powers: Antivirus, Innate Form (Analysis), Signal Management, Skill (any Knowledge skill), Spam


    Corruption Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+1 R-1 R+0 R+2 R-2 R+0 R+0
    Skills: Computer, Cybercombat, Datasearch, Software
    Complex Forms: Crash, Data Bomb, Jingle, Misplace, Obscure
    Powers: Gremlins, Spam, Tesla Burst
    Optional Powers: Chain Letter, Innate Form (Attack), Message, Popups


    Crack Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+1 R-1 R+0 R+0 R-2 R+2 R+0
    Skills: Computer, Datasearch, Electronic Warfare, Hacking
    Complex Forms: Backdoor, Intercept, Jedi Trick, Master Control, Ostraka
    Powers: Chain Letter, Data Masking, Message
    Optional Powers: Find, Innate Form (Communications or Exploit), Gremlins, Merge, Popups


    Flame Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+2 R-1 R+0 R+0 R-2 R+1 R-1
    Skills: Cybercombat, Datasearch, Hacking, Intimidate
    Complex Forms: Denial, Impersonate, Jedi Trick, Jingle, Probe, Who Is
    Powers: Chain Letter, Innate Form (Attack), Message, Spam
    Optional Powers: Antivirs, Clarity, Gremlins, Pop Ups, Tesla Burst


    Flirt Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+2 R+0 R+0 R+1 R+0 R+0 R-3
    Skills: Datasearch, Electronic Warfare, Con, Etiquette
    Complex Forms: Brain Scan, Impersonate, Who Is
    Powers: Innate Form (Communications), Message, Spam
    Optional Powers: Data Masking, Desu, Filter, Skill (choose one Language)


    Fraud Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+1 R+0 R+0 R+0 R+0 R+2 R+0
    Skills: Computer, Datasearch, Electronic Warfare, Hacking, Forgery, Artisan, Con.
    Complex Forms: Fabrication, Probe, Reveal Contents
    Powers: Data Masking, Message
    Optional Powers: Chain Letter, Desu, Innate Form (Exploit), Popups, Signal Management


    Industry Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R-1 R+1 R+2 R+0 R+1 R-2 R-1
    Skills: Artisan, Computer, Datasearch, Mechanic
    Complex Forms: Backtrack, Fabrication, Medic, Terminate Connection
    Powers: Find, Gremlins, Merge, Stability
    Optional Powers: Clarity, Find, Innate Form (Analysis or Pilot), Skill (choose a Technical or Vehicle Skill)


    Machine Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R+0 R+2 R+0 R-1 R+1 R+1 R-1
    Skills: Computer, Data Search, Electronic Warfare, Hardware
    Complex Forms: Clearsight, Recover, Reveal Contents, Terminate Connection
    Powers: Merge, Skill (choose one Vehicle Skill), Stability
    Optional Powers: Find, Innate Form (Operations or Pilot), Signal Management, Skill (choose a Technical or Vehicle Skill)


    Sentry Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R-2 R+1 R+0 R+0 R+1 R-1 R+2
    Skills: Computer, Cybercombat, Data Search, Electronic Warfare
    Complex Forms: Armor, Backtrack, Crash, Medic, Terminate Connection.
    Powers: Antivirus, Data Masking, Signal Management
    Optional Powers: Tesla Burst, Stability, Message, Innate Form (Analysis or Attack), Clarity


    Voyeur Sprite
    Cha Int Log Wil Sys Resp Fire
    R-2 R+1 R+0 R+0 R+1 R-1 R+2
    Skills: Computer, Data Search, Electronic Warfare, Hacking
    Complex Forms: Backtrack, Brainscan, Decrypt, Pin Drop, Reveal Contents.
    Powers: Data Masking, Find, Signal Management
    Optional Powers: Chain Letter, Message, Innate Form (Analysis or Exploit), Spam


Powers of Sprites

Antivirus
The Sprite may grant its rating in bonus dice to soak Icon damage to a number of icons up to the Sprite's System. If more than one Sprite is providing Antivirus to the same device or network, use the teamwork rules.

Chain Letter
The Sprite opens a connection with the target which then begins attempting to open up connections with other networks and devices. The Sprite makes a Charisma + System check opposed by the target's Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense (if any). Every net hit represents a combat turn in which any node can open a connection with the target with a Free Action.

Clarity
The Sprite's mere presence causes the Resonance to be audible as a low hum even to non-technomancers. Any static zones within the sprite's Signal range are reduced in rating by half the Sprite's rating. This is determined before the Background has a chance to reduce the Sprite's rating.

Data Masking
The Sprite can appear to be any kind of Icon it chooses. This includes background iconography, allowing the sprite to become effectively invisible. Only those who get a number of hits on a Matrix Perception test equal to the hits it gets on a Response + Intuition test can perceive it for what it is – or at all if it doesn't want to be seen. Without Data Masking, a sprite cannot Spoof itself (not having an Access ID), and this ability substitutes for the Spoof action.

Desu
Desu desu desu desu desu, desu desu. Desu desu desu. Desu desu desu:
Desu. Desu desu desu desu desu desu. Desu; Desu; Desu. Desu desu desu.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Filter
The Sprite's presence actively removes clutter from the Resonance. Any spam zones within the sprite's Signal range are reduced in rating by half the Sprite's rating. This is determined before the Background has a chance to reduce the Sprite's rating.

Find
The Sprites claim that information in data stores throughout the Matrix all feed into the Deep Resonance, that they can in some way be accessed regardless of whether Matrix topology allows a connection in the traditional sense. This is indicated quite clearly with the Find power – which allows a Sprite to make an Intuition + System test to say where a fact or file is actually located. Actually getting to that place may be difficult, but the first step in any journey is discovering where you are going. More encrypted data has a higher threshold to Find.

Gremlins
A Sprite with the Gremlins ability can make a device fail. The Sprite rolls twice its rating, if the target device is not part of a network, it simply rolls its Firewall to resist. If the device is part of a network, the resistance is made with Firewall + Intuition. If the sprite gets any net hits, the device fails as if a glitch had occurred. If the sprite achieves extraordinary success, the device fails catastrophically, as if a critical glitch had occurred.

Innate Form
A Sprite with the Innate Form power gains knowledge of one complex form that the compiling technomancer knows. If the Innate Form power is followed by one or more categories in parentheses, the Complex Form must be chosen from one of those categories.

Merge
Normally speaking, a sprite is not “in” a device, but a Sprite with the Merge power can do so. The sprite simply finds an orphan device and joins with it. The device behaves as if the sprite were networked with it. The sprite then can only interact with the Matrix through the device's own wireless or wired capabilities, but so long as the sprite is merged with a device it is not affected by Background as a sprite normally would be. In this way a sprite can crawl into a drone and drive off into a dead zone without winking out of existence.

Message
A Sprite with Message can instantly send information to any Matrix address, regardless of real location. This message is low information density, and can thus only contain words, pictures, and instructions – not meaningful executable code. This email travels through the resonance realms and arrives instantaneously and cannot be intercepted. Both the Sprite and the target must be connected to the Matrix, but there need not be a literal or knowable connection available between the target and the Sprite. Even the speed of light is not a factor as the message does not actually travel through intervening space in any meaningful sense.

Pop Ups
The data-trail of some sprites is dangerously unstable and full of malicious code fragments. When such a sprite succeeds in using any Connection range form against another icon, that icon must resist the sprite's rating in Icon damage in addition to whatever effects the action would normally have. Furthermore, if another icon successfully connects with a Connection or Handshake ranged program or form against the sprite, that icon must resist the sprite's rating in Icon damage as destabilizing code rushes up the connection automatically.

Signal Management
A Sprite with Signal Management provides Signal Defense even though it is a Sprite.

Spam
A Sprite with Spam can fill up data stores with unwanted and useless information and queries. The veracity of all information in the target data stores is reduced by the sprite's rating.

Stability
A device protected by Stability does not suffer mishaps. Glitches are ignored and Critical Glitches are treated as the regular kind while operating the targeted device.

Tesla Burst
The sprite causes a discordant burst of electrical activity throughout the area of its Signal range. Any devices with a Signal less than the sprite's rating have their wireless projecting abilities burnt out . Devices with a device rating lower than the sprite's Signal become permanently nonfunctional. Hardening adds to the device's rating to determine whether it survives.

Great Form Sprite Powers
There are more things in the Matrix than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

When a Sprite is upgraded to Great Form, it may acquire a special power. The powers are very impressive, and using any one of them is a Task. Others exist, but here are some examples that may resonate with a particular stream. The great form sprites of any stream all have access to just a single great form power.

Akashic Recording
With the expenditure of a Task, the spirit simply creates Truth® on the Matrix. A fact, identity, or story resonates through the Matrix until it has always been there. This newly ancient wisdom has an apparent Veracity equal to the Sprite's Rating.

Puppeteer
With the expenditure of a Task, the sprite extends itself into a metahuman's brain, transforming the body into an extension of the sprite's network. The Sprite rolls double its rating. The victim rolls Willpower + Firewall (Signal Defense applies). If the Sprite succeeds, the victim becomes a node that the sprite runs on. The newly combined entity uses the physical attributes of the victim increased by the Rating of the Sprite, and the Sprite's Metal attributes. A sprite using Puppeteer is unaffected by harmful Backgrounds.

System Failure
With the expenditure of a Task, the Matrix collapses for kilometers around. The Sprite retreats into a Resonance Realm and like a drain in the sink the Matrix itself spirals out of the world with it. The Sprite rolls double its rating, and all servers, networks, and devices within the sprite's Rating in kilometers which fail to equal that number of hits on a Firewall + Willpower + Signal Defense test have all their connections terminated and all their data stores erased.
    Cyberware actually has failsafes for this sort of thing, and in most cases firmware takes over seamlessly. When a cybereye's data stores go down the character's saved videos are all gone and the appearance on the eyes will revert to factory defaults – but the character is unlikely to lose the ability to see. It is not recommended to roll separately for the resistance of every single network in a major city – simply assume that the number of data stores brought down is proportional to the number of hits the sprite achieves, and actually roll dice for the story important data stores like the PANs of player characters.


Unmake
With the expenditure of a Task, all traces of a piece of information vanish from the Matrix without a trace. It is as if a person had never existed at all. Every footnote, every link, every corroborating piece of documentation simply cannot be found. A sprite cannot remove knowledge with a Veracity higher than its Rating.

Wealth
With the expenditure of a Task, bank accounts increase, catalog orders are made and paid for, and invoices are lost. Over the course of the next week the target's real wealth is increased by 10,000¥ per hit on a System + Charisma test. A single character cannot benefit from Wealth more than once per month. Subsequent uses within a month only result in the gaining of more money if they result in more hits.

Tasks
Now what would you pay?!

Perhaps the biggest and most impressive power of the Technomancer is their ability to call upon their Sprites. A Technomancer may only have one Unregistered Sprite at a time. They may have up to their Charisma in Registered Sprites, and Sprites count against their limit whether they are camping in a Resonance Realm or not (and can be pulled back and forth as a Simple Action). Unregistered sprites serve until their tasks are complete or their eight hours are up, at which point they de-rez and vanish.

Basic Tasks:

An Unregistered Sprite may only perform basic tasks. They can use their powers or forms, they can go tell people things, they can move data around, and those of them as have the ability to do so can perform physical services through control of robots. Unregistered Sprites can only communicate with the technomancer who compiled them while they are within Signal range.

In general, a Task is whatever you can describe as a discreet action. For example “Use Armor on my team.” is a task, and “Hack that door open” is a task. Free Sprites can provide the benefits of basic tasks, but they are normally under no compulsion to do so.

Registered Tasks

A Registered Sprite can continue to communicate with its technomancer regardless of distance. In addition, there are a number of specialized tasks that a Registered Sprite can perform (each time it uses any of these abilities it uses up a task). These tasks can only be performed by a registered sprite at the cost of a Task:

Aid Form
A Sprite can provide a bonus to a technomancer's dicepool when activating a Complex Form in the Sprite's category equal to the Sprite's Rating.

Aid Study
A Sprite can be called upon to teach a technomancer Complex Forms within their discipline. Not only does the Complex Form become learnable, but the technomancer gains a dicepool bonus on learning the Form equal to the sprite's Rating.

Great Form Power
A Registered Sprite that has a Great Form Power may use it at the cost of one task.

Loaned Task
A Registered Sprite can have its tasks owed assigned to other users, who may thence benefit from the sprite's abilities directly.

Sustain Form
A sprite can sustain a Complex Form in its category for a number of hours equal to its rating.

Resonance Natives: Free Sprites, Ghosts, and AIs
If you prick me, do I not bleak?

The origins of a Free Sprite and a Roaming Artificial Intelligence are very different, but game mechanically they are treated exactly the same. A Free Sprite is a sprite which for whatever reason failed to derez when its connection to its compiling technomancer was cut. A Roaming AI is an artificial intelligence which for whatever reason has been able to escape the hardware which originally contained it. Sprites usually need a reason to do that sort of thing, and it usually only happens to Registered Sprites who have been around for a long time. Noone really knows how a Artificial Intelligence might be able to escape its hardware, because the semi-organic matrices that they are created on are as necessary to their existence as a human's brain is to their existence. But of course there is a confirmed and equally unexplained phenomenon of actual metahumans whose body dies while they are online leaving them as a “ghost in the machine.”

Whether it is originally a series of Turing Testing programming running on a scaffold of dissected rat brains and circuits, a human who died during a marathon game of Miracle Shooter, or a Sprite who felt its mission was incomplete, all of these are treated the same in game terms. They are simply treated as a Sprite of some kind with a rating and optional powers as normal. However, they differ from normal sprites in that they are hard to decompile (they are considered to have a number of tasks ahead of them equal to their Willpower that refresh every minute), and they advance themselves.

Matrix Natives have seemingly incomprehensible goals, and when they achieve them, their code strengthens. In game terms this just means that they adventure and get Build Points and Karma as normal.

Powers of the Matrix Natives
As Matrix Natives become more powerful they gain additional powers, most of which are drawn from their own optional power list. Every time they Submerge they choose an extra optional power, or get one of the special optional powers below:

Credit Rating
Some Matrix Natives are able to draw upon funds every month as if the Resonance itself were giving them an allowance. These beings get 5000¥ a month per point of Resonance attribute to play with as they see fit.

Deep Resonance Gateway
A Matrix Native with the Deep Resonance Gateway power can draw users already in VR into a Resonance Realm.

Resonance Gateway
Some Matrix Natives can force open all possible connections within a burst of their Resonance in Meters. By succeeding at a Resonance + Computer test resisted by Willpower + Firewall + Cybercombat they can force any or all users into full VR.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:40 pm; edited 6 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Equipment

Hacking Equipment

Trodes A trode net has a signal of -1, and can only make contact with a brain which is within a few centimeters. Also in the case of any serious Static, a trode net will be disrupted completely, potentially cutting the person off from their network.

Nanopaste Trodes Nanopaste has a signal of only -2, but when in contact with skin it burrows in, making a connection that is again disrupted when subjected to any severe static.

Commlinks Commlinks come in a wide array of models custom and standard. It would be hilariously pointless for us to pretend that there are some finite number of possibilities for Commlink types that Shadowrunners might use. For convenience, despite the fact that the actual price point of commlinks varies tremendously based on market conditions and perceived brand reliability and such, we assume that a better Commlink will cost more. Any particular commlink will have a Response and a Signal. The cost in ¥ will be the price of the Response and the Signal added together, while the availability will simply be the higher of the two.
    Signal Ranges
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Code:
Rating Response Signal Availability
1      50¥      20¥     Always
2      300¥     50¥     Always
3      700¥     100¥    Always
4      2000¥    500¥    4
5      5000¥    1000¥   8
6      14000¥   3000¥   15
7      48000¥   8000¥   24
8      175000¥  200000¥ 30
9      750000¥  1.2M¥   36
    Commlink Names: Just because you're using a SONY Emperor doesn't mean that you're using the Fall '71 Emperor sunlight with a dual-quad optical recoder. Indeed, the basic model name of a commlink basically tells you close to nothing about what the commlink's actual capabilities are. So commlink names are basically NERPS. Here is a list of prominent commlink families put out by your favorite companies:
    Chantico Home Appliances: Buena; Maize; Jaguar; Quetzal
    CMT: Clip; Hammer; Rod
    Erika: Elite; Prima; ! (this one is hard to pronounce)
    Fairlight: Caliban; Gilgamesh
    Hermes: Ikon; Magister; Tornado
    MCT: Bureaucrat; Hub; Meta Link; Sage
    Novatech: Airwave; Mastermind; Pocket Secretary
    Sony: Assistant; Comman; Emperor
    Transys: Avalon; Luna; Oz



Credsticks A Certified Credstick costs just 25¥ and represents a connection to a bank account which is not tied to any particular SIN but to a passcode (which can be changed by anyone with the current passcode). It is for this reason that Credsticks are often used as cash by criminal types. The effective dedicated firewall of a certified Credstick is 5. Various banks issue credsticks to members which are tied to SINs, and these generally have dedicated firewalls of 6 to 8.

Retransmitters A retransmitter is a device which has a high density signal output. So long as it is part of a character's network, signal range can be traced from the retransmiter (though LOS cannot). A Retransmitter weighs about a kilogram, has a signal of 3, and costs 25¥. More powerful retransmitters are available. You can get a signal of 4 for 125¥, or a signal of 5 for 250¥.

Microtransmitters A microtransmitter is a retransmitter which is small enough to fit into things. They cost twice as much as regular retransmitters and have an availability of 6.

Directional Retransmitters Just because you can have a secondary device send your data off, doesn't mean that it can be used to draw LOS. A directional retransmitter is like a Retransmitter in size. It costs three times as much as a Retransmitter and has an availability of 6.

Sat Links Satellites circle the globe in staggering number. Most communication with LEO satellites is done with low density signal. These transmitters usually have a signal of 6 and may actually be incapable of being used to send high density signal. There are three kinds of portable satellite link-ups. One is a dish which is itself non portable. One is portable but only with effort as it weighs in at four to six kilograms. And the last is a module which can be plugged into a commlink with ease (weighing 300-500 grams). In any case, sat links which are capable of actually projecting a Signal rating of 8 are substantially more expensive. Sat Links are also rating 1 Receivers. Most Satellites themselves have Signal 10.
Code:
Sat Link     Cost     Availability
Fixed (6)    250¥     Always
Portable (6) 500¥     4
Module (6)   2000¥    6
Fixed (8)    20000¥   10
Portable (8) 50000¥   12
Module (8)   150000¥  20


Receivers The signal range is the range at which a system can project high density signal to affect a device which is not otherwise receptive to the signals. It is coincidentally the range at which large amounts of high density signal can be sent through an open connection to a device with a rating 0 receiver. These rating 0 receivers are cheap and plentiful, and every commlink is assumed to have one. More powerful receivers exist, but have constraints as to size. Game mechanically, they add their ratings to the signal of other devices to determine range to the receiver. Satellites usually have a Rating 3 receiver on board, which allows a Signal of 8 to send high density signal to LEO satellites and low density signal to Geosynchronous satellites despite their very high altitude.
Code:
Receiver     Cost     Availability
Fixed (1)    100¥     Always
Portable (1) 200¥     4
Module (1)   600¥     6
Fixed (2)    14000¥   10
Portable (2) 20000¥   12
Fixed (3)    100000¥  15
Fixed (4)    1500000¥ 24


Programs

Operating Systems Jokes aside, Windows ME is not exactly the same as Windows Vista, and there are a bewildering number of alternatives for the consumer of Operating Systems in 2071. Like commlinks, it is assumed that characters will be savvy shoppers and purchase the more expensive versions of Operating Systems which are better rather than the ones which are merely slight NERPS modifications on existing technology.

An Operating System affects an entire network, but it still is designed to be run on a specific network hub. Transferring an OS to a different commlink is doable, but degrades performance (reduce ratings of System and Firewall by 2 until someone makes a Logic + Software (12, 8 hours) test to reoptimize it for the new system).
Code:

Rating System   Firewall Availability
1      50¥      20¥      Always
2      300¥     50¥      Always
3      700¥     100¥     Always
4      2000¥    500¥     Always
5      5000¥    1000¥    4
6      14000¥   3000¥    8
7      48000¥   8000¥    16
8      175000¥  200000¥  32
9      750000¥  1.2M¥    36


Operating Systems for Dedicated Systems Most dedicated systems have a System of 1. This is because they don't ever need to be utilized in orchestrating spare processor cycles on other devices. If a genuine network is used, the device's OS will fade to the background. In general one can expect decent dedicated firewalls on most high grade devices. A Device should be expected to have a dedicated firewall equal to its device rating.

Rated Programs: Cost/Availability
    Analysis Programs 500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Attack Programs: 2000¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Communications Programs: 1000¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Exploit Programs: 1500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Operations Programs: 500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Pilot: 500¥/Rating – 3/Rating*
    IC: 500¥/Rating – 2/Rating
    Pilot Accessory: 100¥/Rating – 4/Rating*

(*): Pilot and Pilot Accessory programming (Clearsight, Targeting, Maneuver, etc.) are purchased for individual devices. Pilot Accessory programming is capped in rating by the Pilot rating, Pilot is uncapped. These programs cannot be optimized for other systems.
Most Program ratings are capped by the system of the network they are running on. IC is an exception and is instead limited by the Firewall of the Network or Device it is running on. Programs set up for one OS work very poorly (-2 to rating and dicepools) when used on another OS until someone reoptimizes it for the new system with a Logic + Software check (10-System Rating, 2 hours).
Dedicated programming generally costs half as much.
The Rating of a program caps the number of hits (not net hits) that can be scored with a program.

Matrix Interference Technology

Sometimes you don't even want to hack or browse the latest news feeds, you just want to shut the Matrix down and move on with your life.

WiFi Blocking Paint
A marvel of modern technology, WiFi blocking paint reduces the strength of signal going through it by its Rating. If the modified signal is not sufficient to cross the actual distance, then signal range is not attainable. This is not a form of jamming and cannot be circumvented with ECCM. A can of WiFi blocking paint is nearly 4 liters and covers an area of 30 square meters. It costs 20¥ per rating per can, and is available in ratings up to 6.

Faraday Cage
A basic fact of physics, a topologically complete covering of high conductivity redirects the vast majority of incoming radiation, effectively locking all but the most powerful signals. A Faraday Cage reduces the effective signal across it by 4 times its rating, and is available in ratings of 1-4. Faraday Cages are purchased in square meter surface units. Flat squares cost only 5¥ per meter, and the flexible meshes cost 20¥ per meter. The transparent units for use in windows cost ten times as much. A Faraday Cage ceases to function if the topology is opened. So for example: if you made a car into a Rating 2 Faraday Cage it would block out all signals of rating 8 or less, but only so long as all the doors and windows were closed. A typical car can be fitted with a Faraday Cage in 16 square meters, 6 of which are transparent.

Faraday Suit
A Faraday Suit is a full body covering flexible mesh that modifies an existing full body armor (that must include a helmet). It costs 500¥ per rating point.

Head Jammer
The Head Jammer or “Faraday Hat” actually functions by canceling incoming signals rather than diverting them, so the term “Faraday Hat” is actually not physically accurate. A Head Jammer reduces the signal rating of transmissions going into or out of the head. Setting one up takes just a complex action, and its rating can be temporarily increased (up to double its current rating) with a complex action (rolling Logic + Electronic Warfare and increasing effective rating by hits). ECCM is effective against this. Cost is 250¥ per rating point and availability is 6R.

Rigging Equipment

Sensor Packages
Sensors in 2071 can meet or exceed the capabilities of the human sensory abilities. And they can do so with objects which are even smaller than the sense organs of a human body, but it costs a fair amount of money to get equipment that can do that. Size categories are in reference to the size of the object they are supposed to fit into. A microdrone is small enough to fit into a wallet, so sensor packages that are small enough to fit into them are very expensive. A minidrone is small enough to fit into a palm or a human eye socket. A small drone is roughly the size of a human head, and its sensor packages cost precisely as much as putting sensors into real metahuman head (you can use cyberware prices). A medium drone is about the size of a dog. A large drone is the size of a human. A huge drone is about the size of a car. A titanic drone is the size of garbage truck or larger. The base availabilities and costs are those of cybernetic senses from SR4 and Augmentation. Note that the senses available as cyberware take sensory information in at full simsense levels, and that mere 20th century cameras are much cheaper. Drones can get multiple sets of single sense types and toggle between them.
Code:

Size     Cost      Availability
Micro    x10¥      +4
Mini     x2¥       +2
Small    Standard¥ Standard
Medium   half¥     Standard
Large    half¥     +2
Huge     quarter¥  Standard
Titanic  1/10¥     +4
    Example: Outfitting a Doberman
    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


    Reduced Vision The basic 500¥ vision package assumes that you are getting human-level simsense quality vision, which is actually pretty good. You can purchase vision packages which are less good in a number of ways for less money. You can get a non-realtime still camera for ¼ price (this can nonetheless get normal vision enhancements, though things like smartlinks are fairly useless on such a device). You can get a low quality video feed for a base of 100¥, you can get a grainy low quality video feed for a base 40¥.

    Reduced Hearing The basic 500¥ hearing package assumes that you are getting fully functional human level hearing – like a metahuman's. If you don't need full simsense, you can get a low fidelity audio feed for 50¥, and a low fidelity audio feed with some heinous distortion for about 10¥.

    Minimal Pressure Sensors The basic 1000¥ touch package assumes a human level of proprioception and tactile sensation. If you don't need full smsense tactile ability out of a drone, you can get much lesser packages. A basic motion sensor costs only 50¥, and a basic orientation unit costs 100¥.

    Sensor Systems
    New Sensor handling hardware can be installed on a drone, increasing its sensor rating. Cost is 500¥ per rating, with an availability of 4x rating.

    BattleTac System The surveillance state isn't just the United Kingdom anymore, now it's everywhere. But actually viewing all of those cameras is essentially impossible for anyone. However, data mining large numbers of sensory recordings for positional information to derive tactical advantages is well within the capabilities of extremely powerful computers. The BattleTac system is a set of hardware that extracts tactical information from multiple sensory feeds. So long as multiple viewpoints are available, the system can assist the combat abilities of all users in the system. In order to contribute to the system, a user needs to send it high density simsense feed, but benefiting from the BattleTac's conclusions requires only a display link. In game terms, the effective rating of the system cancels out penalties for being attacked multiple times and cover provided by allies in the system. The BattleTac's rating limits the amount of such penalty it can cancel, and the unit's effective rating is capped by how many viewpoints are contributing to it. A user operating in Hot Sim operates as if the BattleTac's rating were one higher.
    Code:
    Rating   Minimum Units  Cost      Availability
    1        2              15000¥    8F
    2        4              30000¥    12F
    3        8              90000¥    16F
    4        16             160000¥   24F

      Step By Step: Using a Tactical Computer
      Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

    Pilot Systems

    Rigger Adaptation
    A device which has a pilot rating can have a new pilot software installed that makes it more awesome for the cost of the better software. A device that does not have a pilot in the first place has to be adapted to remote operations. A Rigger Adaptation gives a device a Pilot of 1, and costs 500¥ per size of the new drone (Micro: 500¥, Mini 1000¥, Small 1500¥, Medium 2000¥, Large 2500¥, Huge 3000¥). And yes, in many cases it is flat cheaper to buy a modern device that already has a pilot in it and upgrade from there.


    Cyberware

    Retinal Duplication
    Sorry, the one on page 333 is extremely expensive and don't actually work. The proper cost should be 15000¥ with an availability of 12F, and no rating at all. The device displays a simsense quality Retina, once you've gotten a copy from somewhere an electronic device cannot tell the difference. If you are programming it in with a less than perfect knowledge of the retina you are copying, then your copy is only as good as your information. In general, one can make a Logic + Computer test to attempt to fool scanners if you have nothing but an image of the appropriate retina from an archive.

    Internal Commlinks
    Internal Commlinks are of primary use because of the direct wired connection they have to the user's brain. This allows the user to wirelessly communicate with their network through EUE and severely limit the ability of hackers to take their network away. The system is set to send information in and out, and bypasses a need to have a Sim Module. The Internal Commlink costs .2 Essence and 2000¥ plus the cost of the commlink itself. If you get it at a higher rating, you only need to pay the extra cost for the 2000¥ installation feed, not the cost including the commlink itself. When installed, the Commlink can either be Hot Sim enabled or not. Enabling BTL is illegal in many places, but not doing so will not necessarily prevent you from using it. However, if a wired BTL path is not established when the device is installed, Hot Sim sensory information will have to be sent wirelessly, at which point the Internal Commlink will act just like a set of trodes while the network is running hot. Hot Sim enabling uses up no more Essence and doesn't cost a different amount, it literally just changes the legality.

    Internal SimRig
    An Internal SimRig is a direct attachment to the sensory and emotive portions of the neurophysiology of the user. This not only gives the user the best possible sensory bonus to Matrix Perception, but also allows the user to send full simsense feed out. But perhaps the sneakiest part of all is that the hardware itself is legal and can be manipulated in software to produce BTL sequences. This means that it can be used for Hot Sim (by routing sensory data through those emotive and interpretive tracks) without actually showing up as illegal hardware on a medical scan of any invasiveness. This makes it the number one piece of hacker hardware. It costs .5 Essence and 5000¥.

    Internal Sim Module
    This device translates external data feeds into sensory feeds, and it does so inside the body after it's too late for snoopers to intercept the transmission. This may seem like a small subset of what an internal commlink can do and it is. It's basically the “input” section of the input/output of an internal commlink. It costs 1000¥ and .1 Essence, and can be set up for Hot Sim making it illegal.


    Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:42 pm; edited 4 times in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Unrelated House Rules

This is how we do it in S C.

Character Generation and Advancement Rules

BP Advancement

It is undeniable fact that the Karma system of advancement fits rather poorly with the Build Point system of character creation. Some things that you might by with BP cost more BP than they would with Karma (ex.: buying your Strength to 2 would cost 10 BP or only 6 Karma), while others cost tremendously more Karma than BP (example: buying a skill from 5 to 6 would cost 4 BP or 12 Karma). That leads to very real and very large discrepancies between characters who min/max their initial BP and those who don't. And frankly, that's bad. We want people to make organic looking characters rather than worrying over much about BP/Karma efficiency or any of that crap.

There are two obvious ways to deal with that. You could either make people create their characters with Karma in the first place, or you could make people advance their characters by gaining additional BP. The former has optional rules which are either available from Serbitar or in the upcoming Runner's Companion, and you are welcome to use them from either source. Personally, I prefer to use the smaller and more linear numbers of BP Advancement, so that's what gets written up here.

So here is how it works: your character is made with BP as normal, but when you would gain Karma you gain about 2/3 as many extra BP instead. I suggest that you usually not allow people to purchase ¥ or contacts with these BP, but even that rule is up for grabs (for example: if someone wanted to spend some BP to introduce a new NPC that was a childhood friend they were re-establishing contact with or something, that could b pretty cool). Some things in the game have costs listed only in Karma, and need to be converted back into BP. In general, these costs are simply half Karma, rounded up (5 -> 3, 10 -> 5, etc.). Exceptions follow:
  • Magic and Resonance do not cost extra BP to raise to the natural maximum. If your current maximum is 6, bringing Resonance to 6 costs 10 BP. If your current maximum is 8, then bringing it to 8 costs 10 BP. This is to prevent people from saving or losing double digit piles of BP depending on the order that they advanced their attributes and Initiations/Submersions.

  • Initiation and Submersion cost the full value, and are not reduced. This is because under the normal rules you're looking at spending 21 Karma to raise Magic to 7 and 13 Karma for the Initiation. Now it's only 10 BP for the stat but still 13 BP for the initation (although you can still take groups and ordeals to lower costs by nearly half).

  • Skill Group Transitive Property is now in effect. This means that if you buy one skill up in a skill group, and you buy another skill up in a skill group, that you can buy up the rest of the skill group to match at the remaining cost. Since all the math is linear, we no longer have to screw people who break up their skill groups and later want to put them back together.


Alternate Costs

Skills: Skills cost way too much in the standard rules. I can draw you a diagram, but basically I think it's pretty obvious that if you spend 10 BP for +1 to some of your Agility related skills when you can spend the same 10 BP for +1 to all of your Agility related skills, then something is rotten in Denmark. My solution is to halve the costs of all skills. This puts us at:
  • Skill 1-6: 2 BP/rating.
  • Skill 7: 4 BP
  • Skill Groups: 5 BP/Rating
  • Specializations: 1 BP each.
  • Knowledge Skills: 1 BP/Rating


Attributes: The game works slightly better if the final attribute point costs 20 points instead of 25. Furthermore, the point beyond the racial maximum should cost 20 points as well. This eliminates some of the high end attribute shenanigans.

Magic and Resonance should cost a flat 10 points whether they are the current maximum or not, and require Initiation/Submersion to get a new maximum (unlike other attributes, they cannot be purchased past the Racial Maximum).

Adept Powers: When the schedule for expected numbers got changed all around in SR4, Adepts apparently did not get the memo, in many cases keeping absolute costs as holdovers from books written in 1990. Some of those are not especially reasonable in the current environment (where, for example, an Adept does not get 6 power points for free).
  • Improved Ability This power should cost just .25 points regardless of the type of skill.
  • Improved Physical Attribute This is way too expensive. Sure it doesn't cost Essence, but it may as well, and having it cost more than the cheap and Essence unfriendly ware is off the hook. It should cost only .5/level. Even then it's pretty sketchy compared to the actual high end ware like delta grade Muscle Toner (.4 Essence for +4 to a physical attribute). But at least it doesn't come up on a blood test.
  • Natural Immunity This ability is incredibly unattractive, a victim of the current power rules. Every level should reduce the power by one rather than increasing the resistance dicepool by one.
  • Pain Resistance: Damage penalties are a lot less exciting than they used to be, as they no longer modify target numbers. Paying 1.5 Power Points for a conditional +1 die is just silly. Pain Resistance should reduce damage modifiers rather than altering the number of effective damage boxes you've sustained. So a character with Rating 2 Pain Resistance should be able to sustain 6 boxes of damage with no penalty.

  • Distance Strike I happen to know that the authors were way too cautious on this one. This is a game where people have guns, the ability to punch someone from across the room is kin of assumed. 2 Power Points is completely absurd, and was unfortunately deliberately chosen to screw people who wanted this power for thematic reasons. It should cost .5 Power Points, and it's really not that exciting even then.
  • Elemental Strike There is absolutely no reason to keep people from combining this with distance strike, that was just simple asshattery.
  • Gliding This costs too much, an should be reduced to a .5 power.
  • Iron Guts No idea why this happened when Natural Immunity exists. The new version costs .5 and gives the character straight Immunity to Ingested Toxins.
  • Iron Lungs 30 seconds is physically impressive for a normal human mortal, but seriously this is a world with compressed air tanks an Oxygenate spells. The new version costs .5 Power Points and straight up lets the adept get by without breathing at all.
    Quick Draw This power straight up does not exist. People can just do this in Shadowrun 4th edition, there is no reason for a power to even exist.
    Traceless Walk This costs too much and should be reduced to a .5 power.
    Wall Running This costs too much and should be reduced to a .5 power.


Metatype: Seriously, being big and strong isn't even super important. All four basic metatypes are pretty balanced with each other. And all of them should cost the same amount of Build Points at character generation. That amount is 25 BP.

Spirit Allies: The linear Ally costs lead to some deeply unfortunate things happening at high Forces. I know, I wrote the Spirit Ally rules with a non-linear cost and they were changed in editing and that was a bad thing. A better price scheme would be:
    Force: Force 1 Free with the Metamagic, Each additional Force Point costs 5 x Current Force. So getting a Force 5 Ally costs 0 + 5 + 10 + 15 + 20 = 50 BP
    Powers and Skills: 3 points each.
    Spells: 2 for known, 3 for unknown.
    Rituals of Change: Enhancing an Ally should cost exactly the same as conjuring an ally in the first place. I know why the alternate costs happened, but it was wrong.


Qualities

Aspected Magician: Aspected Magician is a positive quality. Being an Aspected Magician costs 5 or 10 BP, and such characters begin play as a level 1 Initiate, having one metamagic and an enhanced Magic attribute cap. An Aspected Magician is a Magician except as noted below:
  • Aspected Conjurers Cannot learn Sorcery skills, cast spells, or provid Counterspelling. They can astrally perceive but cannot astrally project. They can can use other magic skills (most notably conjuring skills). This quality costs 10 points.
  • Aspected Sorcerers Cannot learn Conjuring skills, summon spirits, or Banish. They can astrally perceive but cannot astrally project. They can can use other magic skills (most notably Sorcery skills). This quality costs 10 points.
  • Path Aspect Must choose 2 categories of Magic and the associated spirits according to their tradition. The character may only cast spells or summon spirits of those two categories/types. They may still use Banishing and Counterspelling against any target. They may still conjure Watchers and Allies. They can astrally perceive but cannot astrally project. This quality costs 10 points.
  • Astral Aspect Cannot cast any spells on Physical Targets, nor can they conjure any spirit that has Possession or Materialization (Watchers are still OK). They can still cast Mana spells on Astral Targets. The threshold for their Assensing tests is reduced by 1. This quality costs 5 points.

    Sample Tradition: The Miroku Ninja Clan
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Astral Sight:: This quality is extremely shitty. Removing it from the game entirely is too kind.

Exceptional Attribute: This quality is unnecessary given the other revisions. It is better off removed.

Lucky: This quality is unnecessary given the other revisions. It is better off removed.

Alternate Resolution Rules:

Spirit Allies
The spirit ally rules I wrote got mangled by well-meaning but ultimately confused editing. I mean seriously, Spell Binding? Why is that even in there (I know why, but's it's still dumb enough to allow a rhetorical question)? So to get things back on track, make the following adjustments:
  • Materialization Allies should have a stat line. Pick the stat line of the type of spirit it supposedly is based n its Native Plane, and use that. So if you have an Earth Spirit ally, it will have a lot of Strength and a low Agility.
  • Remove Aid Sorcery, Spell Binding, and Spell Sustaining from the list of services. The “Aid Sorcery and Aid Study” heading on page 105 of Street Magic should apply only to Aid Study.
  • Allies should do what they used to do: provide a dicepool bonus to Magic dicepools while within LOS and Magic x 10 meters.

    Behind the Scenes: What the Heck?
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Hardened Armor
Hardened Armor's all or nothing approach is unfortunate. A better system is to have Hardened Armor provide half its rating in automatic damage resistance hits, and half its rating in regular damage resistance dice. AP reduces the automatic hits first, making a good AP value much more important against Hardened Armor.

Exotic Weapon Skills
The Shadowrun Weapon skills are too specialized across the board (recall that this is a game where driving a motorcycle or a big rig with a steering wheel or a joystick is all the same skill), but the only place where this is genuinely a problem is the Exotic Weapon skills, which flat don't make sense. I mean seriously, who is going to take an Exotic Weapon skill in an improvised weapon? That fails basic interactivity tests. The best answer is to have weapons all fall into the basic weapon skills, even if that's kind of a stretch. Then, have some weapons be “Exotic” which means that people suffer a -1 dicepool penalty when using them unless they happen to specialize in it. So congratulations, a Shield Bash is a “club,” a glaive is a “blade,” a set of fangs is “unarmed combat,” a flare gun is a “heavy weapon” and so on. There is also a new melee combat skill called “Flexible Weapons” and it's part of the Close Combat Group.

Saving Time on Extended Tests
Extended Tests can be quite time consuming, and often rather pointless. A good solution to this is to simply make a single test and multiply. One gets the same result in terms of total time spent (although individual tests will be much longer or shorter often enough), but it saves a lot of time at the game table.

”Encryptions Don't Work That Way! Goodnight!”


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Sat Aug 02, 2008 10:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

More filler: yeah it's not all up. I need to move some segments around and there are some rewrites. I'm mostly putting it up at this point so that people can see where the fluff text is going at this point and see if anyone can see any fundamental errors I made.

-Frank
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Looks cool. I might add a note reminding people that unknowable processing power is different from infinite processing power (otherwise EUE wouldn't be a problem).
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Manxome
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

As usual, your rules discussion is interesting even to someone totally unfamiliar with the original rules.

A few things occur to me, possibly because of my lack of familiarity:

- Do retransmitters let you bypass the 20,000 km limit for high-density signal? If not, is that because they can't retransmit high-density at all, or because the limit is fundamentally based on time rather than distance? Anything clever you can do with a pre-recorded high-density signal and a transmitter with a timer, or does high-density not really get you anything in a one-way transmission?

- Given a plaintext/ciphertext pair, about how long does it take to retrieve the key? Are there things that the attacker can do to make this faster, or that the defender can do to make it take longer?

- Is there any special reason that people continue to use asymmetric encryption when it's fundamentally insecure, or is it just that nothing better is available and using nothing would be inconceivable?

- Are key distribution methods at all standardized? For example, I could imagine a big corporation generates, say, a million keys in advance, performs some maximally secure hand-off, then stores all but one of them in a farraday vault in the basement of each corporate center, so that if they discover the first one is compromised (or whenever they feel like switching), they can just take the next one out of the vault without the need to perform another worldwide handoff.


Also, it might be worth doing a note or spotlight on quantum cryptography (and whether it's used or not), just because it's a modern crypto-related buzzword.

For those not familiar, quantum cryptography isn't actually a cipher, it's a clever way to securely communicate a one-time pad (which you can then use to transmit an actual message). Only "secure" in this case doesn't mean that people can't listen to your transmission, it just means that you'll know whether anyone was listening. Also, it takes special hardware, because you have to send actual physical quantum particles to the other end (rather than just abstract bits), so you can leverage heisenberg uncertainty for the eavesdropping-detection. In 2008, it works in the lab, but it's not economical for widespread use, and I think it's currently got a range limit of a few kilometers with a wire and less than a kilometer through open air (though those numbers may be out of date).
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Draco_Argentum
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Any way we can get a link to whatever Shadowrun community you post this to? I think that would be enlightening. It would definately give us more viewpoints to think from.
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Judging__Eagle
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Location: Lake Ontario is in my backyard; Canada

PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Honestly, the reason that this stuff works at all is because the results are what is focused on. Then the game mechanics are designed to make sure those expected results are achievable.

I think that's something that your "how to design a game" thread spelled out very clearly. Unfortunately, I'm not always able to do that.

I'm looking forward to reading this as it's completed.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2008 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Any way we can get a link to whatever Shadowrun community you post this to?


Yes. When it's done I will cross post links from one to the other.

Quote:
Do retransmitters let you bypass the 20,000 km limit for high-density signal?


It's 30,000 km, but no.

-Frank
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