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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:06 am 
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Lately there seems to be a resurgence in support for the idea of either

-getting rid of utilities altogether, or
-otherwise substantially changing the core decking mechanic of skill vs. TN of Subsystem - utility, opposed by security value vs. TN of DF.

So it seems we need to bring this thread back. I'm re-issuing the poll in a little while, because a few people seem to have changed their minds since that thread, but I think we need to flesh out exactly what kinds of changes people are proposing before starting up a poll again.

First off, let me state that I'm initially against making a sweeping change to the core decking mechanics. It's not because I'm afraid of change--I've already proposed a few even more fundamental changes before myself. In this case, though, I'm just not seeing the potential benefits outweighing the costs, both in time and effort of development and the time and effort of simulation/playtesting that will be needed to make such a big change palatable.

That said, many of the proposed changes do solve a number of problems--both real and perceived--in the current ruleset. However, before any utility-light or utility-less proposal can be seriously considered, it has a few major hurdles to overcome:

1) Loss of a big "focus" for deckers. Currently, utilities make up a majority of the real cost of creating and playing a decker. In this way they're like an adept's powers, or a sammie's cyberware, in that they are one of the decker's primary focuses during character creation and advancement. We'll need to either ensure that this remains the case, or find something to replace them with, otherwise deckers will be essentially free to play.

2) Loss of customization options. Currently, utilities are a big part of what makes a decker unique, in particular thanks to program options. Does he tend to go with a one-shot 6D attack program, or an area effect 6S program, or does he not have any attack programs and just relies on Cloak? Putting the Sneak-2 option on Analyze is kind of a no-brainer, but what about Browse, or Spoof? Is your decker a fan of frame cores, or does he go for better operational utilities? If we get rid of utilities, all we have left is the deck and linking hardware, and most of those attributes are pretty well set in stone from chargen onward.

3) The host side of things will have to change as well. How will this happen, and how will this affect gameplay?

4) How does this affect Otaku? Yes, I know some of you think they're silly, but many of us like the little guys, and don't want them to be left out in the cold. What happens to them when we eliminate or significantly change utilities?


If you have a specific proposal, please try to address these concerns while making your arguments, so we can understand the effects of your change on the whole of the decking world.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:05 am 
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Well since I feel kind of a bit like a Pariah for threatening utilities in the first place let me answer the following first.

#1. Deckers in SR1/2 had no utility/Afics mess but they were honestly no less in depth. What has always made deckers in-depth was what data the could get, what electronic gadgets they could control, what intel they could retrieve. I admit deckers had less programs back then, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I've never personally felt that having more programs makes for more interesting play. Actually I consider it a failing of all the SRs to give Decker's interesting options and interesting progression paths ... but this is something we are planning to directly address ... regardless of the core mechanic. So therefore I think the utilities are just flat out NOT how you make decking interesting. Again I assert my anecdote. I've never met an SR2 decker who liked SR3 afics. The only people I've found who like afics are GM's who like mapping out complex and detailed hosts ... the same people who like all those little nuisances introduced in the Matrix ... which make decking less about adventure and more about memorizing the lookup table of obscure utilities and obscure worms/databombs/vanishing sans/etc etc... .

I still maintain heavyweight decking would be AWESOME if everyone in the party was a decker. Its kind of like metaplanar astral journeys would be AWESOME if everyone else could project as well. But in your standard mixed group of shadowrunners, both are pretty much waaaay too far to take individualized reality. Sure, offer the ability to have those things and maybe once a storyline let the decker have his fun, but I still think you can make a dramatically simpler core ruleset with options to add the complexity when desired and lose very little overall ... not to mention solve a host of existing issues in the process. So you are getting a net reduction in general complexity to facilitate AR if we desire without having to invent a new ruleset. You can now address memory issues because to make honest decking runs a decker only needs to worry about a dozen or so total programs. You can introduce some of our new concepts (like multiple skills, or programming on the fly) in a seamless way and consistent way. You can look to retune existing cyberware as well as introduce new cyberware to offer multiple upgrade paths or diversity in progression. You can rebalance some of the issues in the existing rules (like the imbalances between the various persona programs). There's A LOT of good that can come from a redesign.

#2. Again, take a good look at how SR2 did the matrix. There were still plenty of utilities that did useful and interesting things. In fact if you ask me the utilities were far MORE interesting in SR2 because they served a larger purpose than reducing target numbers and were enabled to produce their own unique results. That said the one theoretical advantage to SR3 decking was that you could in theory perform an operation without the utility. In play, however, even a decker with a combined skill + hacking pool of 10+ was not likely ever going to perform a system operation successfully without the utility even on pretty low end hosts without spending dumb amounts of karma ... so in SR3 its one of those situations where the theory never matched reality. I think we can do better than both SR3 and SR2. I think customization options can exist in any paradigm that involves programs.

#3. I think the biggest thing that may need to change to support this are active memory limits. They will need to come down, assuming we want to worry about active memory limits.

#4. I have no idea, but I'm sure it can't be too hard to make Otaku unique and powerful.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:10 pm 
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feralminded wrote:
Well since I feel kind of a bit like a Pariah for threatening utilities in the first place let me answer the following first.
Oh don't think that; apparently you're not the only one to make the suggestion, and you're NOT wrong for making it. That's what we're here for, after all, debating which rules to revise, and how to revise them. But, since this issue cuts to the heart of SR3R decking, and accepting it would invalidate or further complicate every suggestion I have made thus far, it needs to be dealt with first, and before we spend any more time on other suggestions, rather like the changes to the Rule of Six needed to be dealt with before anything else could be.

(Edit): oh, hey, what a typo! :oops:


Last edited by Eyeless Blond on Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:28 pm 
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Well, for the record... Decking has never been my strong suit. I am very confused by it, but I realize the first step there is just organization. I think feral has a very good idea, I just don't know whether we need to go quite that far or if we can just keep the current system if we explained it better and made a few, minor simplifications.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:03 pm 
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I'll put up some formal ideas in a few hours, just need to finish up some modules for work first.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 4:34 pm 
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AFICS alternate #1

This is the one I brain-dumped on everyone a week or so ago and in the process kind of fell in love with. Its just so simple and relatively intuitive that I can't believe FASA and then WizKids never considered it or something like it. I've arranged it here in a more formal manner to describe the ideas. I've removed the rhetoric about multiple skills for now to make it clearer, although multiple skills can be easily applied to this and imho should be. In my "vision" of the matrix a host/node could be a computer and icons within it could be maybe the printer, the mouse, the video output, etc. So if a decker would hack into a computer they could change what's on the screen by editing the icon.

The matrix primitives (these are more or less canon)

Host: The larger system as a whole. Hosts define the range that IC can travel. In modern terms a host is anagolous to a website.

Node: A fraction of a host, a "room", or in modern terms a webpage. On a small scale (single device), the host and node are the same. Or for technical terms you could say there's a single node host in place.

Icon: Any non-intelligent widget in the matrix that doesn't store data. Slaves fall under this as does basically anything else connected to a node externally in addition to icongraphy and matrix infrastructures.

Datastore: Any non-intelligent widget in the matrix that does store data.

Datastream: Any stream of data that's in active transit. To be fair datastreams really aren't the data themselves but a visual representation of a connection. It's not possible for a decker to intercept data realtime (it's too fast). That said a decker, knowing that a connection exists between two points, CAN intercept data then. Typically datastreams exist between an icon and a datastore, or maybe two icons. Think of an icon representing a security camera and an icon representing a security display. There would be a stream between the two (or maybe a stream to a datastore of some kind from both). The decker could see and intercept the datastream just fine.

Persona: Any intelligent or semi-intelligent widget in the matrix. Deckers, turtles, IC, agents, frames.



The following actions are actions that any decker can perform without a utility/program.

I/O: A decker can upload/download data implicitly, be it from a datastream or a datastore.

Analyze: A decker can analyze anything without needing a utility/program.

Search: A decker can search any node, icon, datastore, or datastream, without needing a utility/program.

Edit/Delete: A decker can edit or delete any icon, datastore, or datastream without needing a utility/program.

Create Program: A decker can whip together a one-shot utility without needing a utility/program.



The following basic utilities would be used to perform actions a decker cannot perform on his own. Of course there can be more, these are off the top of my head.

Deception: A decker runs deception to "sleaze" into nodes, bypassing the security and acting as an unauthentricated user.

Validate: A decker runs validate to Authenticate into nodes, qualifying as a real user of some kind. This should be very hard to accomplish.

Relocate: A decker runs relocate to make traces more difficult.

Crash: A decker runs Crash to take down a node.

White Noise: A decker runs White Noise to totally screw up a node (Smoke in SR2 did this I think)

Encrypt/Decrypt: A decker runs this to decode and read encrypted data.

Trace: A decker runs this to trace the source of any persona or datastream.

Control Persona: This is used by authenticated users to manipulate/control other personas. This is how a sysadmin would control IC, boot validated users doing bad thing, etc etc ...

Raise Alert: This is used by authenticated users to activate the host's alerts (add tally?)

This is just an idea. The following 4 should have a high multiplier, like maybe a 10. Only viable if there are hard memory limits and can only double the base rating. Will allow deckers to, on the fly, dynamically change their personas a bit.
Fortify: Adds directly to bod rating.
Browse: Adds directly to sensors rating.
Sleaze: Adds directly to masking rating.
Mirrors: Adds directly to evastion rating.

All the combat utilities remain. Probably some other utilities I'm forgetting.



Nodes have a single rating. I have not figured out a use for code yet. 2 would be a very weak Node, 8 would be a very powerful Node. The following mechanics resolve everything.

Base Actions: All base actions require a skill + pool roll against a TN of the Host/Node rating. The Host/Node resists with a roll against a TN equal to the appropriate persona. For Edit/Delete and Create Program use Masking. For I/O, Analyze, and Search use Sensors.

Utilities: All utilities require a skill + pool roll against a TN of Host/Node rating. The Host/Node resists with a roll against a TN equal to the program's rating.

Decker v IC: Combat utilities against IC require a skill + pool roll against a TN based on the color code chart in SR3. IC resists with a number of dice equal to host rating, against a TN of the combat utility rating.

IC v Decker: Most IC attacks a decker with a number of dice equal to the host rating against a TN equal to the decker's evasion. The decker resists with Bod at a TN equal to the IC's rating.

Trace/Probe IC v Decker: Trace/Probe IC attacks a decker with a number of dice equal to the host rating against a TN equal to the decker's masking. The decker resists with skill + pool vs a TN equal to the IC's rating.

Decker v Decker: Combat utilities against deckers require a skill + pool roll against a TN equal to the other decker's evasion rating. The decker resists with Bod against a TN equal to the program rating.


Consistent, simple mechanics. You can make customized nodes to simulate the old AFICS where you can raise/lower the TN of all I/O attempts by some value, or all Analyze and Search values by some value, or Deception/Validates by some value, or edit icon by some value. That said the base case is consistently simple and intuitive. The only inconsistency here is Bod which only comes into to play when taking icon damage because in every single other situation the decker is rolling skill+pool. I'm not entirely happy with that, but I see no other way to do it. Regardless all of the persona programs enjoy a fair amount of representation with evasion and bod being strictly for combat and sensors and masking being strictly for non-combat. Also if you read my other thread on this you can go multi-skilled in the above system very easily with Hacking/Decking used for all deception, trace, crash, white noise, and combat utility rolls. With Computer used for Analyze/Search/IO rolls and probably a couple utilities (Encrypt comes to mind as do the admin utilities). With Programming used for Edit and Improvised Utility rolls (not to mention all of the offline programming tasks, I just like working it in to active decking too).


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:09 pm 
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Hm. Okay, so to summarize the differences between your idea and canon SR3:

  1. Iconography and Matrix terminology regressed to SR2 terms (at least that's what I assume; SR3 is different from what you describe). I'm assuming the host topography probably resembles that cross between an old-style MUD and Tron that was described in the earlier thread as well?
  2. Analyze *, Locate *, and Manipulate Date operations do not require a utility.
  3. Otherwise, the "physical" form of utilities stay basically the same, with ratings and MP sizes and such, as normal.
  4. ACIFS ratings are gone. Instead, hosts have a single rating which they use for everything, including TN to be affected and number of dice to resist being affected.
  5. The stipulation is made that the host rating can be made to vary at the GM's whim, but there is no longer a mechanism determining which subsystems are considered similar enough that they must have the same rating, so particularly advanced hosts may have a separate rating for each utility it plans to resist.
  6. Instead of the decker rolling vs. TN of subsystem-utility, the TN is simply the host's rating. Instead of the host resisting vs. TN of the decker's Detection Factor, the TN becomes the utility rating. This arguably makes utilities more important, as now without a utility the decker is essentially hosed against all but the simplest host.


I get that you haven't fleshed this out all the way, but for the moment I have to say I don't really like what I'm seeing so far.

-You don't solve any of the problems previously mentioned with having utilities, because you still have utilities. They still do basically what they did before, too: if you have them you can do things to hosts; if you don't you essentially can't, because you'll be rolling ~6-10 dice against TN 6, while the host will be rolling 6 dice against TN 2. Host wins, and your tally shoots through the roof.

-You make the host marginally simpler, because you substitute a single host rating for the 6 host attributes in SR3. You've done this by eliminating the extensibility guidelines that are implied by ACIFS ratings; now a GM wanting to create a customized host will have to comb through every single utility and determine which ones he wants the host to resist more or less. Analyze will also be harder; for the decker to know the host completely he will have to analyze how the host will respond to each and every utility, rather than focusing on the one or two subsystems he's interested in messing with.

-You do nothing to deal with the security sheaf, arguably the hardest part of constructing any host, random or custom. Picking security rating and ACIFS is easy: security value is 3-6 for Easy, 7-9 for Medium, 10-13+ for Hard, and ACIFS starts at ~7 for easy and goes up to 16+ for really hard. You can fit it on one line when you're done: Green-7 10/12/10/9/9 is fairly low-medium, while Red-11 14/16/14/15/15 is really tough.
Compare that to generating a security sheaf, deciding where the steps should be, and deciding what IC/alerts/security deckers should be triggered at each step, and what their ratings/attributes should be. That's easily 10-12 lines of text, more if you stat out the deckers and any IC constructs. The sheaf is the hard part, and your solution does nothing to make that hard part any easier, while making the already easy part trivial.

So, yeah, lots of problems introduced, but I don't see a lot solved.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2008 11:48 pm 
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Fair enough, but I'll give my analysis of what this change does and why I recommend it. I do have another system to propose, but it's even more radical.

#1. Eliminates the completely arbitrary nature of utilities. Now you will have a couple unique utilities that can do special things when necessary. Since they are not bogged down solely for reducing target numbers they are enabled to have unique mechanics.

#2. Only 1 utility is truly necessary for a non combat decker, Deception.

#3. Enables the majority of non-combat decker actions to be performed without a utility. (most "good" deckers spend their days performing the holy trinity of Analyze, Search, and IO).

#4. Makes editing icons a universal task requiring no utility. This should make it very clear what a decker can do in the matrix. ANYTHING THEY WANT TO, assuming they are willing to risk it. That said editing operations likely need some fleshing out as they should have a threshold/extended action component.

#5. Makes persona ratings far more relevant and balanced than they are in SR3.

#6. Eliminates the weirdness of the variable TN's based on host rating. Everything's target number is consistent and predictable based on hosts or ratings of things. Consistency was one of my major goals.

#7. Deckers operate on a single rolling system in every roll besides the resist damage test (which actually coincides well with how characters resist damage). In SR3 I count at least 5 unique mechanics. The utility test (skill + pool @ Subsystem - utility), the sensor/perception sweeps (sensors @ TN IC rating or masking + sleaze, unresisted), the combat maneuver (sensors/evasion or host rating @ TN host or evasion/sensors), the attack utility (program rating? + pool @ TN specified by table), and the damage resistance test.


Those are what I consider superior about this proposal. Honestly I do believe all utility use could be eliminated, there's no reason why deception/validation needs to be a utility at all. Honestly I never liked the idea of just running a program and "bamf", you're a super user or invisible. I would propose eliminating both and instead making either some kind of extended test. You want to sleaze by that firewall? Roll your initiative and score Security Rating number of successes in as few actions as possible before accumulating enough security tally to be crushed like a tin can. Want to Authenticate as an actual user? Accumulate the Host rating * 2 successes as fast as possible. The totals are relative (probably make them higher than I rattled off) but the bottom line is the decker is going to walk into a host with a fair amount of security tally to begin with ... makes things A LOT more interesting.

While the as fast as possible part sounds silly for your archetypical deckers sitting at home drinking mountain dew, it can REALLY matter if you're talking about the AR case of the decker needs to crack into the system fast as possible while his buddies are taking slugs. Suddenly that response increase can REALLY matter. You could even have the decker setting off IC and taking attacks while he's STILL trying to pass that deception or validation test.

I could picture rather cinematic scenes where his samurai is holding off a small legion of red samurai while he's there, jacked in, spinning up mirrors and smoke and shields and whatever while he's just trying to buy enough time to get those last three successes needed to crack the host while he's taking hits from blasters and killers and whatnot. All one continuous combat round where the samurai is rolling to dodge and attack real life mooks while the decker is doing the same thing in parallel, JUST to get into that host and take control of the security drones or the automated security gun, or to swipe the datastore. IT WOULD BE EPIC!!

Actually I like that WAY better than a silly utility that you execute once and it just works. It ALWAYS left a bad taste in my mouth the way deckers spent almost no effort getting INTO hosts. This would make that a large portion of the effort and how well they perform in that effort determines how easy the rest of their efforts will be (deckers would accumulate A LOT of tally in this endeavor).

So yeah ... I picture all utilities except the highly specialized ones going away. Scratch off Deception/Validate, I'm officially replacing them with the above system :).

And this matrix topography is almost identical to SR3 with the simple addition of nodes, which are really my way of saying specialized hosts. You can still have your vanishing SANS and databombs and all of that useless crap in the matrix if you want, they can just be a hybrid type of node. Its not all that important really. I consider my use of hosts/nodes just a semantic translation from SR3s use of grids/hosts. Semantics don't matter to me. The only true stray from canon SR3 that I have here is that I make slaves just another icon in the matrix. That's because I really don't see why any external device wouldn't just be an icon in the matrix. Oh and I got a bit more explicit about datastreams, but it wasn't a stray from canon really just a clarification that they fail to address. The only thing I'm sold on is elimination of slaves as anything other than another icon. You can call it a grid/host, I like to call it a host/node. Same thing.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2008 2:34 pm 
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In reverse order, as the clarifications come at the end of the post:

feralminded wrote:
And this matrix topography is almost identical to SR3 with the simple addition of nodes, which are really my way of saying specialized hosts. You can still have your vanishing SANS and databombs and all of that useless crap in the matrix if you want, they can just be a hybrid type of node. Its not all that important really. I consider my use of hosts/nodes just a semantic translation from SR3s use of grids/hosts. Semantics don't matter to me. The only true stray from canon SR3 that I have here is that I make slaves just another icon in the matrix. That's because I really don't see why any external device wouldn't just be an icon in the matrix. Oh and I got a bit more explicit about datastreams, but it wasn't a stray from canon really just a clarification that they fail to address. The only thing I'm sold on is elimination of slaves as anything other than another icon. You can call it a grid/host, I like to call it a host/node. Same thing.
Oooh, okay. See, I thought you were going to have a "host" be split up into several "nodes" that you had to traverse though in order to find the file or CPU or something, something like nezumi's proposed matrix metaphor and (as I understand it) the way SR2 used to be. All right, that makes a lot more sense, and sounds a lot like how I already run things.

We just have to make sure to deemphasize this whole sculpted host thing; that's all well and good when you've got all the time in the world to have an individual run between the GM and the decker, but with a group around you waiting for you to disable security guns you don't want to sit around listening to how the host has a jungle motif or whatever.

Quote:
Honestly I do believe all utility use could be eliminated, there's no reason why deception/validation needs to be a utility at all. Honestly I never liked the idea of just running a program and "bamf", you're a super user or invisible. I would propose eliminating both and instead making either some kind of extended test. You want to sleaze by that firewall? Roll your initiative and score Security Rating number of successes in as few actions as possible before accumulating enough security tally to be crushed like a tin can. Want to Authenticate as an actual user? Accumulate the Host rating * 2 successes as fast as possible. The totals are relative (probably make them higher than I rattled off) but the bottom line is the decker is going to walk into a host with a fair amount of security tally to begin with ... makes things A LOT more interesting.
Ah, I think I get this. Currently, the "Locate *" operations, as Interrogations, are the ones that require 5 successes to succeed. Logging in, on the other hand, is still a single success.

What you're basically proposing is that we switch those, so that the longer test is the login bit, and once you're inside the Locate commands only need one success to find what you're looking for. Validate as well would require an interrogation, which is only appropriate as it's very powerful and should take awhile to get away with.

Quote:
#7. Deckers operate on a single rolling system in every roll besides the resist damage test (which actually coincides well with how characters resist damage). In SR3 I count at least 5 unique mechanics. The utility test (skill + pool @ Subsystem - utility), the sensor/perception sweeps (sensors @ TN IC rating or masking + sleaze, unresisted), the combat maneuver (sensors/evasion or host rating @ TN host or evasion/sensors), the attack utility (program rating? + pool @ TN specified by table), and the damage resistance test.
Another good idea. The attack program one I think everyone here can agree ought to be using skill as the test, rather than attack program rating, and have the attack program itself act as the weapon (providing the damage code). I've already got a proposal back in the old DS thread about combat maneuvers that puts it more in line with regular utility tests.

Perception and damage resistance I don't feel need to be changed at all, however. Regular perception in the Matrix uses Sensors, and not skill or a utility, but that doesn't really seem that unusual to me as it closely mirrors astral perception (rolling the Int attribute), meatbod perception (rolling Int attribute again), and driving perception (rolling vehicle Sensors). Same for damage resistance; in these cases the break from decker mechanics is a strength, as they are mechanics common across archetypes and systems.


Thus far, everything above this point can be accomplished without ever altering a single utility. In fact many have been independently proposed as fixes for the current SR3 system, and the rest--especially that one about exchanging Locate and Login--will probably find their way into the rules regardless of the ultimate fate of utilities.

Onward, then, to the meat of the discussion.
Quote:
#1. Eliminates the completely arbitrary nature of utilities. Now you will have a couple unique utilities that can do special things when necessary. Since they are not bogged down solely for reducing target numbers they are enabled to have unique mechanics.

#3. Enables the majority of non-combat decker actions to be performed without a utility. (most "good" deckers spend their days performing the holy trinity of Analyze, Search, and IO).

#4. Makes editing icons a universal task requiring no utility. This should make it very clear what a decker can do in the matrix. ANYTHING THEY WANT TO, assuming they are willing to risk it. That said editing operations likely need some fleshing out as they should have a threshold/extended action component.
Okay, I think I'm starting to get it. The core of your proposal is twofold, then:

1) Go further than we did with our consolidation project, and get rid of Operational Utilities entirely, but keep offensive, defensive, and special utilities.
2) Get rid of Sec. Rating and ACIFS (I know you're making fun, but you really ought to just write the acronym correctly :)), replacing it with a single attribute.

The thing is, neither of these is very complex anymore. We've got a total of about 11 operational utilities, most acting on a single subsystem (Control), and 5 subsystems. None of it's particularly hard to remember. On the other hand, implementing these changes will require a lot of work in playtesting that I just don't think is worth the effort. The two big benefits that I see you listing are:

Quote:
#5. Makes persona ratings far more relevant and balanced than they are in SR3.
Except that your proposal doesn't make persona ratings any more relevant than they are now; currently we basically are using Masking as the TN for the host to resist, as we got rid of Sleaze during the consolidation project almost first thing. And,

Quote:
#6. Eliminates the weirdness of the variable TN's based on host rating. Everything's target number is consistent and predictable based on hosts or ratings of things. Consistency was one of my major goals.
Here's the biggie. There can be no doubt that this system is very consistent; after all, just about every test the new decker will make will be exactly the same: roll skill+pool against TN of host, opposed by host rolling against TN of Masking. Editing a file? Same test. Monitoring a slave? Same test. Validating an account? Same test, but you have a threshold now.

That's basically it, until you're forced to use a special utility, and most of those are either passive (Battletac, Armor) or only used in combat (attack/defense programs). I think that may have gone too far along the homogenization route, and made decking rather bland. What do you think?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:28 am 
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Hmm... The same test for everything is a problem, but combining it with the Decking/Computer skill break, so you have one roll to overcome security and one to actually do whatever it is makes it a little more interesting and still keeps it sensible.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 2:47 pm 
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That's a good point. Combine this proposal with the skill split and we begin to change the decker from a nearly pure cash character, whose options are controlled more by the options on the deck he owns rather than the skills/abilities he has, to a character balanced between skill and cash. In fact, with this change we may be able to accomplish one thing I've always wanted to do since starting this project: eliminate the million nuyen option for starting characters.

Not only that, but this might be the change that allows more people to break through the patina of confusion that has grown up around the Matrix lately. One thing I've noticed is that, though people know generally about the difficulty of a given TN or TN modifier, most people have difficulty describing the difficulty of a given host subsystem rating. This arises because the difficulty of decking a host fluctuates as a result of three factors: the decker's skill, the host's subsystem rating, and the decker's utility. Eliminating that last item from consideration would significantly help out the GM, particularly when making up hosts "on-the-fly". So, perhaps it does make sense to ditch operational utilities in their entirety.

That said, I still don't think ACIFS needs to go, however. In fact, with this change I would be more vehement that it stays, and would have better reasons for them to stay. See, ACIFS are as distinct from a host's Security Value as a decker's Persona attributes are from his skill. In fact they're direct analogues. If you're getting rid of ACIFS values, you may as well get rid of decker persona attributes, and indeed the deck altogether, and just have the decker roll xd6 against a random TN to see if you hack the machine. If you get rid of ACIFS, there's nothing else *to* a host except a number, a color, and a security sheaf.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 8:45 am 
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I would tend to agree that if you drop utilities, ACIFS should stay. You don't want things TOO simple. However, if given the choice, I feel like utilities add more color to the game than ACIFS does.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 10:43 am 
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Well the majority of my idea was heavily predicated upon using 3 skills in those skill + pool tests: Computer, decking/hacking, and programming (for on the fly utilities and editing matrix operations).

I actually see no reason why ACIFS (better?) can't stay if the utilities go. Host rating would now be exclusively used to determine dice pools and not target numbers? This is a good idea imho, honestly the real issue I have with ACIFS is the relative values of it which was only introduced due to utilities indeed making it HARD to determine what the value actually meant. That said can't it be reduced to AIC? I mean they're a killer band and F always seemed to me to overlap with I too much, and S is just silly and should be part of A or C. Anyone agree? Or is it too much of a departure?

Also in my proposal I had masking as *sometimes* the TN for the opposed rolls. The breakdown in the proposal was as follows:

Masking for deception/validation/edit operations.
Sensors for analyze/search/IO operations
Evasion for all IC combat rolls vs the decker (except trace/probe, which goes vs masking).

Sensors would remain used for perception tests.
Bod would remain used for damage resistance tests.

I feel that in SR3 the persona ratings are REALLY unbalanced. Sensors is pretty remarkably weak, masking is overpowered strong, Evasion is almost unnecessary, and Bod is just there to soak damage ... which turns out to sometimes be crucial and other times completely unnecessary. I was just seeking ways to balance them out.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:30 am 
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Having just reread the idiots guide to the matrix thread, I feel less intimidated by the standard sr3 rules. It does seem to me that decking comes more to having the right utilities then the anything else. I like the idea of on the fly decking, having to use your skills to edit the host's code to bend it to your needs.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2009 5:20 am 
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For my part I thought that the utility issue was settled already. By reducing the total number of utilities to 12, with a few easy rules describing what each utility is for and what range of uses it covers, makes it all sound simple enough to me.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:53 pm 
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Code:
Multiplier: [x]
Operational Utilities [20]
o   Access [8]
   Analyse [3]
   Crash [2]
   Commlink [1]
   Deception [2]
   Decrypt [1]
   Disinfect [2]
o   Control [8]
   Analyse [3]
   Crash [2]
   Deception [2]
   Disinfect [2]
   Validate [4]
o   Index [8]
   Analyse [3]
   Browse [1]
   Commlink [1]
   Crash [2]
   Disinfect [2]
   Evaluate [2]
   Scanner [3]
o   Files [8]
   Analyse [3]
   Crash [2]
   Commlink [1]
   Decrypt [1]
   Disinfect [2]
   Read/Write [2]
o   Slave [8]
   Analyse [3]
   Crash [2]
   Decrypt [1]
   Disinfect [2]
   Spoof [3]

Defuse 2
Mirrors 3

This is an idea i had I a while ago which ties in with utilities and decker skills/otaku channels as mentioned in the decker skills thread.
It creates operational utility software suites which simplify utilities if desired while maintaining consistent rules. You can buy or design Operational Utilities Mega Suite(TM) at rating 1+ and use it for all system ops or get Access Utilities Supa Suite for all access system ops (for example). The program multipliers are listed in brackets.
Note that this was written a while ago and hasn't taken into account the utility revision.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:07 pm 
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Cute idea, actually, although I do worry that if there's a savings (or extra cost) to buying them bulk instead of one by one, one method will completely overshadow the other. The only advantage (and it is in fact a sizable advantage) must be that of simplicity, not reduced costs.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:10 pm 
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Hm, a single Operational Megasuite for newer or quick-generated PCs, with individual programs to allow deeper customization (program options, differing ratings, etc)? I can support that; in fact it might go a long way to making deckers easier to start with.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:08 pm 
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Or do it SR4 style - the broad-based utility has a maximum rating (or perhaps reduced monetary costs but high memory costs, effectively limiting its rating without actually putting a cap).


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 1:13 am 
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Eh. I don't necessarily want to make the option inherently weaker than buying individual utilities. Remember that this is meant not only to be an option for beginners, but also for players and GMs who want to quickly "roll up" a decker character, either as an NPC or as a character for a one-shot, that sort of thing. I kind of also want to make a similar entry for riggers: a package-deal for drones that provides the bare essentials for a quick-start rigger character.

My thinking is that a package like this would be a stepping stone between the pre-built characters in the book and a fully-customized decker/rigger character, easing new players into custom builds and taking the irrelevant details out of GM-created NPCs. As players mature they'll discover the advantages of full-custom characters (program options, variable program ratings, min-maxing); this'll just be a way to ease that transition.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 12:40 pm 
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The biggest problem I see with that is that it seems to be a non-simple matter to go from a Suite of Rating n to the suite for everything else and a particular key utility at rating n+k. I guess for a character who generally buys his or her utilities that could work, though they still get a disadvantage because of the double-loading-into-memory issue, but…

Actually, memory makes it messier. Were we thinking this would just be a bookkeeping simplifier, or what?

~J

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:09 pm 
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I think the original idea was you use one or the other.

Currently, there are two ways to make characters in SR3:
1) Choose a pre-built character, like one of the sample characters (easy, but totally inflexible)
2) Build one from scratch, picking every skill, deck attribute, program, etc (very time consuming, but the only way to do it if you want a custom character)

What I think people are looking for is an option 1.5, a way to quickly create a custom character, but without the complexity of picking each individual utility rating.

Thus, an Operational Utility Megasuite: take the cost/size/program multiplier of buying every utility at rating X, add them up, that's the cost/size/program multiplier of the OUM at rating X. Don't think of it as a separate program: it's really more of a metapackage, so you can roll up a decker with all programs of Rating X that much quicker. There's no penalty for "breaking up" the Megasuite because there's no cost/size advantage for making one in the first place; it's just a shortcut to use when you don't care about taking different operational utilities at different ratings to make a deeply customized character, you just want to roll one up and go.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 26, 2009 7:56 pm 
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Ahah. Yeah, I can dig that, possibly as a character-building supplement.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 27, 2009 4:16 am 
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I kinda want to do the same with skills: make a Decker Skillsuite (with whatever skills we end up with for deckers, like Computer / Decking / Matrix Combat / Computer B/R / Electronics B/R / Scrounging), a Rigger Skillsuite, a Breaking/Entering Skillsuite, Ranged Combat Skillsuite, etc with everything a newbie would need to get up and running with a given archetype. Maybe we can do something similar with drones and combat gear too?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 9:22 am 
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I've never really had much trouble choosing the programs. I choose the ones I want and buy them either at 6 or 3, depending on how important I think they'll be. Takes less time than just about any of my other gear, since there's usually only three or four numbers I'm juggling for cost.

I'd be more inclined to add it as a character-building supplement, perhaps listing 'groups' of programs we suggest buying or somesuch, rather than doing the suites (just because of the risk of suites either overshadowing the other method, or being inefficient and wasteful in comparison).


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 4:38 am 
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Well what gear do you take the longest time deciding on? Decker-specific, but also in general; speeding up and easing character generation will become a huge priority if we do decide on going BeCKS primary for chargen, and every bit will help.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 01, 2009 9:19 am 
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Honestly, probably cyberware, because I generally have two or three different costs I'm comparing (for instance with initiative boosters, where I'll actually graph them). However, I don't think I'm the norm for that.

Next to that, rigger vehicles, because they have so many add-ons and dongles I need to configure for EACH vehicle, across multiple books and multiple sections of the same book. That's sort of a pain. Even then, i'm not sure I'm getting the best bang for my buck.

Third is definitely the decker, but like I said, I figure out the cost for rating 3 and 6 for multipliers 2 and 3, then just go down it like a menu. When I'm done, I shift costs up and down to match my budget.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:46 pm 
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Well, then I propose that for cyberware, vehicles and programs I guess we'll have to make standardized, optimized suites, both for the GM on the go and for newbies learning the ropes of chargen. Cyberware I think will be the toughest; it'll almost be like making a bunch of sample characters.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:02 pm 
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I think we'll want to do two things: one is to actually make some good sample characters ("good" in stark contrast to the actual canon sample characters), and the other is to make some frames on which to drape characters; my main concern is that we might channel an untoward number of players into the frames, but since (for example) a dedicated Rigger is going to have max resources, a VCR, a vehicle skill (probably more than one, but the point is that zero is absurd), and Intelligence and Quickness maxed, we might as well put the frame out there for people; fill in the other stats, the choice of exactly which vehicle skill, and the rest of your allocation to taste.

~J

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:12 am 
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Not a bad idea. I do that already for my new players, so having it already printed (especially by experts in that field) would be helpful.


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