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Otaku and Detection Factor
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Author:  Eyeless Blond [ Sat Jan 22, 2011 6:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Otaku and Detection Factor

Okay, so with all the changes we are already making to the Matrix, Otaku kind of got lost in the dust. Detection Factor is the biggie here: with the elimination of Sleaze and the general acknowledgement of Masking Mode, a decker at chargen will have a Masking of 9 or 12, depending on whether or not we allow the Kraftwerk-8 or equivalent at chargen (its Availability says it ought to be, and traditionally it has been allowed for many campaigns, but arguably its Rating is higher than 6 and thus would be disallowed). This means a starting decker will have a DF of 12-15.

The starting Otaku is kind of left in the dust here. An Otaku with INT/WILL/CHA of 8/7/6, sort of the standard array for Otaku in my experience, starts with Masking 6 currently, with no Masking Mode. Even if we give her the equivalent of a Math SPU 3 (which, in SR3, she is't allowed to have at chargen) so she can get to the 6+ Hacking Pool that deckers have, that still leaves her with a starting DF of 10 (6 +3 Pool +1 Otaku bonus). This is unacceptably low, especially in light of how much more expensive Channels are than Operational Utilities, and the knowledge that deckers will thus be more effective with every individual roll than an Otaku (Otaku are throwing more dice at higher TNs, which favors the decker). Note that this is particularly true now that we're consolidating Operational Utilities for simplicity's sake, making the starting decker both cheaper and more effective. Otaku should be making up for this by being harder to spot than even the decker.

With these in mind, I propose the following changes:

1) We go back to enforcing Rating 6 limits for all gear, including MPCP and Masking chips, at chargen. This'll limit deckers to DF 12 to start, which is fine for starting overwatch IMO.
2) Hacking Pool is inherently different for Otaku than for deckers. Instead of being (INT + MPCP)/3 (or (INT + Computers)/3, if we adopt that change), which for Otaku end up being essentially INT *2/3 + (WILL + CHA)/3, it calculates like Astral Combat Pool: (INT + WILL + CHA)/2. Yes, this means my "standard array" Otaku above will start with a base Hacking Pool of 10. This only applies to Otaku using their Living Persona to deck; an Otaku who chooses to go "old school" calculates Hacking Pool just like a decker.
3) Just like deckers, Otaku can exchange up to 6 Hacking Pool dice for DF. Unlike deckers, Otaku are simply better at sleazing their way through systems: Otaku get to exchange HP to DF at a 1:1 ratio. Again, this only applies to Otaku using their Living Persona to deck; an Otaku who chooses to go "old school" has the same Hacking Pool->DF exchange as a decker.
4) Because of the way an Otaku's brain is wired, cyberware/bioware that increas Hacking Pool in deckers do not give an Otaku the same benefits. The Math SPU, for example, still gives an Otaku the complementary Math skill, but it doesn't convey any bonuses to a Living Persona's Hacking Pool. Again, this only applies to Living Personas

With these changes, my example Otaku jumps her DF from 10 to 13; an Otaku specifically min/maxed for Masking can get up to 14-15, depending on which rules we adopt.

Oh, and we may also need to look at the cyberadept/technoshaman divide again; the elimination of Sleaze alone really hits the cyberadept hard.

Author:  Kagetenshi [ Thu Jan 27, 2011 5:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Eyeless Blond wrote:
An Otaku with INT/WILL/CHA of 8/7/6, sort of the standard array for Otaku in my experience, starts with Masking 6 currently, with no Masking Mode.

Masking is actually rounded up, so they'd start with Masking 7. Under Point-Build the standard as I've seen it is either 10/8/8 or 9/9/8 (in principle 8/9/9 would be optimal for long-term maximization of Masking, but Intelligence is just too valuable to give up), which makes it base 8 or 9. That said, the BeCKS approach makes this impossible, since it relies on using Exceptional Attribute which BeCKS has get expended to reach 8 in the beginning, leaving something like 8/9/8 as the peak (which is still massively expensive—by BeCKS as it stands, even if we toss Otaku the Exceptional Attribute edges for free, it's 70 karma per attribute to get them to 8, then another 5+27 karma for the BeCKS variation on Bonus Attribute Point, for a total cost of 241 karma, or 361 out of 425 karma after paying for being an Otaku. Still, you end up with a reachable base Masking of 9, for a base DF of 10.

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Even if we give her the equivalent of a Math SPU 3 (which, in SR3, she is't allowed to have at chargen) so she can get to the 6+ Hacking Pool that deckers have, that still leaves her with a starting DF of 10 (6 +3 Pool +1 Otaku bonus).

IIRC the cost for enough starting Resources to buy a Math SPU 3 came out to something around 36 BP with the BeCKS tripled. Otaku actually can hit 5 Hacking Pool without an SPU at chargen, but under BeCKS they can only hit 6 if they put the 9 in Intelligence, which drops their base DF by 1 and defeats the point.

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This is unacceptably low, especially in light of how much more expensive Channels are than Operational Utilities, and the knowledge that deckers will thus be more effective with every individual roll than an Otaku (Otaku are throwing more dice at higher TNs, which favors the decker).

If we keep the current restriction on Channel rating… well, ok, we're running out of points and we haven't even paid the 30-52 karma for our required Computers 6-8, but in principle a Technoshaman will be more effective on one class of operations and equally effective on a second class, but it goes downhill from there, while the decker can cherrypick Deception+Decrypt+Analyze+Browse+Spoof+Read/Write to be able to perform all of the common Matrix operations; perhaps more importantly, nearly everything requires Access, Index, and one more thing, so while the regular decker needs to pick the options for the one more thing in advance, the Otaku will be at a disadvantage on at least one of the three.

(Now that I think about it, Otaku are actually at a disadvantage on Files and Access, and debatably at a disadvantage on Index and Slave—the first two have only one associated Utility other than Encrypt/Decrypt, and the regular decker gets to buy Decrypt only once and then use it at full rating for everything, while the second have only two associated unique utilities each, and in each case one (Browse,Spoof) seems significantly more common than the other (Scanner,Commlink). We might want to think about splitting Freeze Vanishing SAN back out into its own utility, though that's not really a big enough second utility to fix things)

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Note that this is particularly true now that we're consolidating Operational Utilities for simplicity's sake, making the starting decker both cheaper and more effective. Otaku should be making up for this by being harder to spot than even the decker.

With these in mind, I propose the following changes:

1) We go back to enforcing Rating 6 limits for all gear, including MPCP and Masking chips, at chargen. This'll limit deckers to DF 12 to start, which is fine for starting overwatch IMO.

Here I was launching into how the limit is actually lower on account of the limit on Sleaze, and then I remember that we've nuked it.

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3) Just like deckers, Otaku can exchange up to 6 Hacking Pool dice for DF. Unlike deckers, Otaku are simply better at sleazing their way through systems: Otaku get to exchange HP to DF at a 1:1 ratio. Again, this only applies to Otaku using their Living Persona to deck; an Otaku who chooses to go "old school" has the same Hacking Pool->DF exchange as a decker.

Huh. I'll have to ruminate on this one; it could swing the balance something fierce, such that the Otaku might simply dominate the Decker (though whether it's made up for by the lack of effective ability to do something else on the side is a harder question).

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With these changes, my example Otaku jumps her DF from 10 to 13; an Otaku specifically min/maxed for Masking can get up to 14-15, depending on which rules we adopt.

I guess the secondary concern I have is that while some systems simply become cakewalks, others become grinds—I recently ran a game in which a DF-15 Otaku infiltrated a Security Rating 12 host with subsystem ratings high enough that he was rolling against TNs in the 14-15 range, which got to the point where achieving one success either way took several rolls.

Of course, really fixing that would require a substantial rethink of the Matrix, so I guess my point for now is mostly that there are possible negative effects to being too eager to set up an archetype with high DF but low effective utility ratings.

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Oh, and we may also need to look at the cyberadept/technoshaman divide again; the elimination of Sleaze alone really hits the cyberadept hard.

Yeah. They were pretty hard to justify before, what with how you're trading doing better on every single operational test for what really amounts to +0.5 DF, but now—they mostly get an advantage in the cybercombat that almost never happens anyway because logging out is a better choice.

~J

Author:  Eyeless Blond [ Thu Jan 27, 2011 9:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Kagetenshi wrote:
Eyeless Blond wrote:
An Otaku with INT/WILL/CHA of 8/7/6, sort of the standard array for Otaku in my experience, starts with Masking 6 currently, with no Masking Mode.

Masking is actually rounded up, so they'd start with Masking 7. Under Point-Build the standard as I've seen it is either 10/8/8 or 9/9/8 (in principle 8/9/9 would be optimal for long-term maximization of Masking, but Intelligence is just too valuable to give up), which makes it base 8 or 9.
Ah, so you pretty much ignored the rule that you can only put 6 points into any one attribute (Bonus Attribute Point and the Otaku's free two being the only exceptions)? I guess it's a common enough ruling, but it does mean that Otaku start out with insanely high attributes, as you've noted.

Re: BeCKS, we're going to have to seriously take another look at how BeCKS makes Otaku; the current system is ridiculous.

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(Now that I think about it, Otaku are actually at a disadvantage on Files and Access, and debatably at a disadvantage on Index and Slave—the first two have only one associated Utility other than Encrypt/Decrypt, and the regular decker gets to buy Decrypt only once and then use it at full rating for everything, while the second have only two associated unique utilities each, and in each case one (Browse,Spoof) seems significantly more common than the other (Scanner,Commlink). We might want to think about splitting Freeze Vanishing SAN back out into its own utility, though that's not really a big enough second utility to fix things)
Merging utilities was never really a cost-saving measure for deckers; a decker could always have a full suite of utilities at chargen even if he didn't go with the million nuyen (though obviously you couldn't get them plus a Kraftwerk without the million). That was one area the Otaku would always be worse off, and it's not changing either way by consolidating utilities.

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I guess the secondary concern I have is that while some systems simply become cakewalks, others become grinds—I recently ran a game in which a DF-15 Otaku infiltrated a Security Rating 12 host with subsystem ratings high enough that he was rolling against TNs in the 14-15 range, which got to the point where achieving one success either way took several rolls.

Of course, really fixing that would require a substantial rethink of the Matrix, so I guess my point for now is mostly that there are possible negative effects to being too eager to set up an archetype with high DF but low effective utility ratings.
Now this is a bit of a problem, you're absolutely right. The nature of the SR3 Matrix is that everyone is throwing around gigantic TN mods of +/-6 everywhere; when they don't cancel out it results in the decker easily beating the system, or the system easily beating the decker, or a really, really long slog.

Some of my Tally proposals change this around a little, but it still deserves more consideration than we've given it.

Author:  Kagetenshi [ Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:14 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Eyeless Blond wrote:
Ah, so you pretty much ignored the rule that you can only put 6 points into any one attribute (Bonus Attribute Point and the Otaku's free two being the only exceptions)?

More precisely, I used the Otaku rules as evidence that the max-6-points was not intended to be an overriding rule in and of itself but rather expressed the consequence of Racial Modified Limits in the absence of Edges or Otaku attribute-weirdness. If you note, actually, the Otaku's free two points are in no way indicated to be exceptions, which means that interpreting the max-6-points rule as having been intended to be a rule in and of itself you'd end up with starting Otaku being 6/7/6 regardless of their physical stats.

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I guess it's a common enough ruling, but it does mean that Otaku start out with insanely high attributes, as you've noted.

This is certainly true, though they're also set up to need them.

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Re: BeCKS, we're going to have to seriously take another look at how BeCKS makes Otaku; the current system is ridiculous.

It really is. Worse yet, it may not admit an easy fix; the obvious path of changing Otaku to have proper +2 bonuses to all Mental stats only cuts 10 points off of each of them. Though then again, that and/or a drop in base cost (especially if they get bonus points for Channels) could be enough to make it work—in my experience, even under point-buy an Otaku was basically "max stats, Computers 6, max Channels, and a bit more" where "a bit more" was generally one more edge and a non-six skill or two, IIRC (memory may be exaggerating a bit, it's been some time since I rolled my last Otaku, but we're already close to most of what an Otaku was).

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Merging utilities was never really a cost-saving measure for deckers; a decker could always have a full suite of utilities at chargen even if he didn't go with the million nuyen (though obviously you couldn't get them plus a Kraftwerk without the million). That was one area the Otaku would always be worse off, and it's not changing either way by consolidating utilities.

Mm. I never had a full set, but that may have been because the deckers I made were typically decker/foos for some nontrivial value of foo. That said, although I'm a little iffy about single-utility subsystems I'm not really bothered enough by them at the moment to lead a crusade to subdivide them (and especially not when the best subdivisions I can see offhand are "split Freeze Vanishing SAN out from Deception" and "split Trace MXP Address off from Browse").

~J

Author:  Eyeless Blond [ Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Kagetenshi wrote:
Eyeless Blond wrote:
Ah, so you pretty much ignored the rule that you can only put 6 points into any one attribute (Bonus Attribute Point and the Otaku's free two being the only exceptions)?

More precisely, I used the Otaku rules as evidence that the max-6-points was not intended to be an overriding rule in and of itself but rather expressed the consequence of Racial Modified Limits in the absence of Edges or Otaku attribute-weirdness. If you note, actually, the Otaku's free two points are in no way indicated to be exceptions, which means that interpreting the max-6-points rule as having been intended to be a rule in and of itself you'd end up with starting Otaku being 6/7/6 regardless of their physical stats.

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I guess it's a common enough ruling, but it does mean that Otaku start out with insanely high attributes, as you've noted.

This is certainly true, though they're also set up to need them.
Well, then we have two ways to go. We can go the direction you suggest and give Otaku literally inhumanly high stats, starting at chargen with mental stats equal to characters with hundreds of karma, and ending with ungodly things like Int 14, or we can fix Otaku's stubborn dependence on stupidly high stats so they're both easier to create under BeCKS and don't lead to weird corner cases like, for example, a 150 Karma emaciated street urchin having more Charisma (and social skills) than the most twinked out supernaturally charming elf.

Author:  Kagetenshi [ Sun Jan 30, 2011 12:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Eyeless Blond wrote:
Well, then we have two ways to go. We can go the direction you suggest and give Otaku literally inhumanly high stats, starting at chargen with mental stats equal to characters with hundreds of karma, and ending with ungodly things like Int 14

Well, two things: first, I've always been of the opinion that Otaku really are set up to be inhuman, as alien from their base metatype as Shapeshifters (but in a different way). Thus, I don't find the inhumanly high mental stats to be a problem in and of itself.

Also, Otaku mental stats are usually 2-3 points ahead of the rest of the team in WIL and CHA (some people dump CHA, it's more of a personal decision than most stats), but typically only 1-2 points ahead in INT, and the practical difference is typically obscured by low Quickness holding down Reaction and Combat Pool. In light of the need to improve Channels, post-chargen attribute improvements aren't usually particularly high priority either (if you're trying to improve DF post-chargen, Submerging twice for Switch and Ghosting costs 26 karma for something crazy like +5 DF as opposed to paying 27 karma for +0.5 DF from an attribute increase). Actually, bizarrely enough I think Otaku may be relatively low down on the list of archetypes to get gigantic mental stats; getting a Rigger to Int 11 is very important due to Reaction, Combat Pool, and Control Pool, but an Otaku sees only middling benefit from a similar improvement, at least until Channels start running into MPCP.

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or we can fix Otaku's stubborn dependence on stupidly high stats so they're both easier to create under BeCKS and don't lead to weird corner cases like, for example, a 150 Karma emaciated street urchin having more Charisma (and social skills) than the most twinked out supernaturally charming elf.

That's a bit of an exaggeration; even with the all-physical-stats-1 deal, the Otaku Charisma bonus only equals the Elf bonus (Elf Otaku are another matter, of course), and I'm not sure that improving Charisma would be on the agenda in the first 150 karma (even if you decide you want to improve DF through attribute increases, Willpower gives you hardening as well plus improving your magic defense and combat pool).

~J

Author:  Eyeless Blond [ Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Two quick thoughts about Otaku:

-It still rubs me the wrong way that what is at a conceptual level supposed to be akin to an autistic savant is, by the mechanics, so generally mentally superior to even what are supposed to be intellectually superior (Int 6 is meant to be really smart; Cha 6 is supposed to be very socially gifted; Will 6 is supposed to be unusually mentally resilient).
-If we're going to be changing deckers around from cash-based backhackers to skill-based engineers, then it would make sense to make some fundamental changes to Otaku as well, maybe to make them less attribute-focused, or at least peg their attributes back within the non-supernatural realms. Maybe we should make Submersion even more integral to the character, with most Otaku starting play with a few levels under their belt, or some other kind of focus?

More on this later, or I'm going to be late for work :)

Author:  Kagetenshi [ Thu Feb 10, 2011 10:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Eyeless Blond wrote:
-It still rubs me the wrong way that what is at a conceptual level supposed to be akin to an autistic savant is, by the mechanics, so generally mentally superior to even what are supposed to be intellectually superior (Int 6 is meant to be really smart; Cha 6 is supposed to be very socially gifted; Will 6 is supposed to be unusually mentally resilient).

Unfortunately, it's never really specified how really, very, or unusually they actually are—I still can't believe the chart describing Attribute 6 as "maximum unmodified human" actually made it into the book.

At any rate, though, I see what you mean; while other archetypes will often have one mental stat well above 6 and the others at 6 (again, accounting for some people dumping Charisma—and actually, 6s in Charisma will probably become rarer since there's less penalty for dropping down to 5 for it than for the other mental stats), Otaku are unusual in being above that across-the-board.

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-If we're going to be changing deckers around from cash-based backhackers to skill-based engineers, then it would make sense to make some fundamental changes to Otaku as well, maybe to make them less attribute-focused, or at least peg their attributes back within the non-supernatural realms. Maybe we should make Submersion even more integral to the character, with most Otaku starting play with a few levels under their belt, or some other kind of focus?

Maybe—sounds like brainstorming time. Though unless you've got specific inspiration we might want to leave that until we figure out where we're going with deckers.

~J

Author:  Eyeless Blond [ Thu Feb 10, 2011 3:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Okay then, brainstorming:

1) In order to put an exclamation point on the rule that skills work differently for Otaku, let's roll Computer, Decking, Programming, and maybe Electronic Warfare back into a single skill, but just for Otaku, and only when they're decking with their Living Persona (Electronics B/R should probably stay as a separate skill). In other words, an Otaku doesn't know what to do with an actual deck at all. Maybe call it Resonance?

2) I do like the idea that Otaku's weirdness extends to their physical bodies and makes them weak. We can start by all Otaku beginning with the RML for all three physical attributes lowered by 2 (so 4 is the RML; 6 is the attribute max), and maybe give them something extra (not bonus attribute points) for lowering their RML by 2 again (so 2 is the RML; 3 is the Attribute max).

3) As long as we're getting rid of arbitrary limits, like the "up to 6 at chargen, but no further" line--artificial limits like those really impact on the organic-ness of characters, IMO--let's get rid of the "bonus points for keeping your stats at 1 at chargen" bit for Otaku. Lowering RMLs, especially as far as I want to go, is bad enough. Maybe get rid of the arbitrary limits on Channels too.

4) I'd like to do a total rebuild of how Living Persona attributes are calculated, and the costs/benefits of Submersion. Specifically I want to have all Otaku begin play with at least a few Submersions under their belt.

5) Another flavor-bit I want to go for is to make the Otaku feel much more spontaneous than deckers. Maybe we make Complex Forms for attack and defense more rare, and have most Otaku just whip up an improvised attack/defense as a Free Action. Maybe we can do something with Sprites that make them more like the Matrix version of nature spirits, like you see in SR4 (the flavor for that aspect of Technomancy is wonderful). And yeah, I want to keep the Hacking Pool changes mentioned above, or do something similar to give Otaku lots of Hacking Pool for spontaneity-enhancing purposes.

Author:  Kagetenshi [ Thu Feb 10, 2011 5:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Eyeless Blond wrote:
Okay then, brainstorming:

1) In order to put an exclamation point on the rule that skills work differently for Otaku, let's roll Computer, Decking, Programming, and maybe Electronic Warfare back into a single skill, but just for Otaku, and only when they're decking with their Living Persona (Electronics B/R should probably stay as a separate skill). In other words, an Otaku doesn't know what to do with an actual deck at all.

Mm. Interesting, but I think it conflicts with too much canon—in fact, Otaku recruits are described as undergoing a probationary training period on an actual deck before they're permitted to come in contact with the tribe's Resonance Well and possibly experience the Deep Resonance, which I'd forgotten about. We may need to do some pondering as to the Otaku Nature in order to make significant changes in an internally-consistent manner.

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Maybe call it Resonance?

There's always the possibility that I'm just failing to overcome anti-SR4 bias, but I think it's a bad name for things intrinsic to Otaku. There are three terms relating to Resonance—the Deep Resonance, Resonance Wells, and the Resonance Link. The Deep Resonance is consistently portrayed as external; it is out there on the Matrix, and while Otaku can and do come in contact with it and experience it, they don't take it with them when they leave the Matrix. Resonance Wells are places where the Deep Resonance is strong. The Resonance Link has a little more to do with the Otaku him- or herself, but it looks to me more like the idea is that the two Otaku are linked through the Resonance—it only works while on the Matrix, and depending on how you read it it may not even work in computer systems that aren't on the Matrix (even if they're both on the system).

So yeah, the Resonance seems to me to be very much "out there", and thus a bad name for something an Otaku possesses directly.

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2) I do like the idea that Otaku's weirdness extends to their physical bodies and makes them weak. We can start by all Otaku beginning with the RML for all three physical attributes lowered by 2 (so 4 is the RML; 6 is the attribute max), and maybe give them something extra (not bonus attribute points) for lowering their RML by 2 again (so 2 is the RML; 3 is the Attribute max).

That seems extreme; I'm inclined to keep the tension of the Otaku specialist against the Decker generalist, but this would be physically crippling them so thoroughly that they basically wouldn't be able to do anything else (exceptions include Electronics/Electronics B/R and Gunnery; an Otaku Rigger wouldn't be as crippled as other roles, but the lost Reaction is still a very big hit, and they need to acquire everything after chargen. B&E is impractical due to the hit on Quickness capping Stealth).

On the flip side, without something like this we're going to end up with Otaku running around with average or slightly-better-than-average physical stats. Really, though, due to the low karma cost of low/average attributes, that already happens after the first dozen karma (few dozen if the player decides to save for Submerging first). Maybe if Otaku had a cost adjustment, such that Body 2 cost what Body 4 usually does? I don't know.

To some degree, this also requires some thought on the nature of Otaku.

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3) As long as we're getting rid of arbitrary limits, like the "up to 6 at chargen, but no further" line--artificial limits like those really impact on the organic-ness of characters, IMO--let's get rid of the "bonus points for keeping your stats at 1 at chargen" bit for Otaku. Lowering RMLs, especially as far as I want to go, is bad enough.

Yeah, that's something I'd really like to see, though it does make Troll Otaku a bit less special ;)

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Maybe get rid of the arbitrary limits on Channels too.

I'm broadly inclined, but it may depend on how other things pan out—even if in principle an Otaku character could simply take channels in a distribution identical or similar to the current limits, it feels much more punishing if starting karma limits get tight with the limits gone.

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4) I'd like to do a total rebuild of how Living Persona attributes are calculated, and the costs/benefits of Submersion. Specifically I want to have all Otaku begin play with at least a few Submersions under their belt.

I'd be interested to hear more.

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5) Another flavor-bit I want to go for is to make the Otaku feel much more spontaneous than deckers. Maybe we make Complex Forms for attack and defense more rare, and have most Otaku just whip up an improvised attack/defense as a Free Action.

I'd be more impressed if Matrix combat actually happened ;)

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Maybe we can do something with Sprites that make them more like the Matrix version of nature spirits, like you see in SR4 (the flavor for that aspect of Technomancy is wonderful).

I'll have to look into that; anything in particular you like about it?

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And yeah, I want to keep the Hacking Pool changes mentioned above, or do something similar to give Otaku lots of Hacking Pool for spontaneity-enhancing purposes.

Maybe. I might be coming to the conclusion that our current basic Matrix mechanic sucks, not for the reason it's often claimed to suck (even before we combined things it wasn't complicated or difficult), but because it's comparatively inflexible—it slides from "highly random" (when both sides are comparably likely to score successes on each other) to "pushover" (when the decker is moderately more likely to score successes than the host, or when the host is slightly more likely to score successes than the decker) to "slog" (when successes become sufficiently rare on both sides, regardless of relative frequency). I'm starting to suspect that my happy memories of playing a decker were more than a little a result of being a decker/foo, being more adept at the Matrix rules than my GMs and therefore just steamrollering over most hosts, but being a foo enough of the time that the "nothing's putting up resistance" feeling didn't sink in.

Maybe I'm just getting discouraged, but one thing that stands out to me is that an Otaku with lots of Hacking Pool wouldn't be any more spontaneous—Hacking Pool basically doesn't come with a decision attached. Cybercombat is pretty much only worth engaging in when it can be won easily, there's basically no other non-emergency circumstance in which you're penalized for just performing one Operation per Combat Turn so that your pool has completely refreshed by the next Operation, and extra DF is so much more powerful than extra dice that any pool that can be spent to raise your DF except for ending at 6n+1 plateaus will be. The only actual decision with Hacking Pool I can find is, in principle, deciding whether or not to suppress crashed IC, but unless the IC rating is extremely low you're highly likely to trigger more IC by not suppressing it so that's almost never a real decision either.

~J

Author:  Eyeless Blond [ Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Kagetenshi wrote:
Eyeless Blond wrote:
Okay then, brainstorming:

1) In order to put an exclamation point on the rule that skills work differently for Otaku, let's roll Computer, Decking, Programming, and maybe Electronic Warfare back into a single skill, but just for Otaku, and only when they're decking with their Living Persona (Electronics B/R should probably stay as a separate skill). In other words, an Otaku doesn't know what to do with an actual deck at all.

Mm. Interesting, but I think it conflicts with too much canon—in fact, Otaku recruits are described as undergoing a probationary training period on an actual deck before they're permitted to come in contact with the tribe's Resonance Well and possibly experience the Deep Resonance, which I'd forgotten about. We may need to do some pondering as to the Otaku Nature in order to make significant changes in an internally-consistent manner.
Hm, that's a good point. Maybe they still take one skill (Decking or Computer), but it just works for everything else (no defaulting penalty, etc): the idea being that regular deckers spend their whole lives learning to do the same things that Otaku just do, without even having to think about it very much.

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Maybe call it Resonance?

There's always the possibility that I'm just failing to overcome anti-SR4 bias, but I think it's a bad name for things intrinsic to Otaku. There are three terms relating to Resonance—the Deep Resonance, Resonance Wells, and the Resonance Link. The Deep Resonance is consistently portrayed as external; it is out there on the Matrix, and while Otaku can and do come in contact with it and experience it, they don't take it with them when they leave the Matrix. Resonance Wells are places where the Deep Resonance is strong. The Resonance Link has a little more to do with the Otaku him- or herself, but it looks to me more like the idea is that the two Otaku are linked through the Resonance—it only works while on the Matrix, and depending on how you read it it may not even work in computer systems that aren't on the Matrix (even if they're both on the system).
Agreed; no separate skill, and even if we go that route no directly calling it Resonance.

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2) I do like the idea that Otaku's weirdness extends to their physical bodies and makes them weak. We can start by all Otaku beginning with the RML for all three physical attributes lowered by 2 (so 4 is the RML; 6 is the attribute max), and maybe give them something extra (not bonus attribute points) for lowering their RML by 2 again (so 2 is the RML; 3 is the Attribute max).

That seems extreme; I'm inclined to keep the tension of the Otaku specialist against the Decker generalist, but this would be physically crippling them so thoroughly that they basically wouldn't be able to do anything else (exceptions include Electronics/Electronics B/R and Gunnery; an Otaku Rigger wouldn't be as crippled as other roles, but the lost Reaction is still a very big hit, and they need to acquire everything after chargen. B&E is impractical due to the hit on Quickness capping Stealth).
Well, how much is it different from canon? Remember that Otaku are supposed to have attributes all at 1 at "chargen"--whatever arbitrary time we decide that to be--a restriction we would no longer have. Sure, under these rules your super-specialist non-elf Otaku would need to take Exceptional Attribute just to get to Quickness 4--heh--but is that really as crippled as it sounds?

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4) I'd like to do a total rebuild of how Living Persona attributes are calculated, and the costs/benefits of Submersion. Specifically I want to have all Otaku begin play with at least a few Submersions under their belt.

I'd be interested to hear more.
The first-order approximation running through my head right now is this:

-MPCP still starts as average of all three mental attributes
-Bod = Will
-Evasion = ? (Decking skill, maybe?)
-Sensor = Int
-Masking = Cha
-And yes, if you increase your base attribute later on in your career your MPCP and corresponding Persona attribute go up as well.

Every time you Submerge, your MPCP goes up by one (like how mages get +1 Magic), plus one of your Persona Attributes goes up by 1. These Persona Attribute bonuses can't increase any single attribute more than your Grade divided by three, round up. These are in addition to whatever Echo you pick up (which will of course no longer include Improved MPCP or Improved Attribute). We should probably write a few more Echoes too, so people with Grade 5 or so aren't all picking Ghosting over and over again due to lack of options.

So say you have Jane the Otaku, with Int 6 / Will 5 / Cha 6, Decking 6, and Submersion Grade 2:

MPCP: 7
Bod: 5
Evasion: 6+1 = 7
Sensor: 6
Masking: 6+1 = 7
Echoes: Switch, Info Sortilage

Though if we go this route we may want to get rid of Switch as an Echo; it's kind of ridiculously powerful anyway.

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5) Another flavor-bit I want to go for is to make the Otaku feel much more spontaneous than deckers. Maybe we make Complex Forms for attack and defense more rare, and have most Otaku just whip up an improvised attack/defense as a Free Action.

I'd be more impressed if Matrix combat actually happened ;)
Heh, well my changes to Tally should make sticking around in a system more possible, and in random background tally will mean you will usually start a run with IC already in the system, searching for intruders. The canon rules make Matrix Combat even more of a rapid death spiral than meatspace combat; IMO the situation should be reversed, and IC combat should be a routine part of doing business in the Matrix. Maybe suppressing IC should require no action, and it should only take 1 Hacking Pool to suppress your Decking (or maybe Programming) skill worth of IC?

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Maybe we can do something with Sprites that make them more like the Matrix version of nature spirits, like you see in SR4 (the flavor for that aspect of Technomancy is wonderful).

I'll have to look into that; anything in particular you like about it?
Mostly the flavor, and the ease with which they are created. Rather than building a Sprite/Daemon like a frame core, they're built more like spirits, which are even easier to deal with in SR4 than they are in SR3. If anything they went too far in making spirit == sprite, but I like the idea of compiling up a sprite, setting it to a task, then going on about your business. Think more like nature spirits in the Matrix than the Otaku version of a frame core.

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And yeah, I want to keep the Hacking Pool changes mentioned above, or do something similar to give Otaku lots of Hacking Pool for spontaneity-enhancing purposes.

Maybe. I might be coming to the conclusion that our current basic Matrix mechanic sucks, not for the reason it's often claimed to suck (even before we combined things it wasn't complicated or difficult), but because it's comparatively inflexible—it slides from "highly random" (when both sides are comparably likely to score successes on each other) to "pushover" (when the decker is moderately more likely to score successes than the host, or when the host is slightly more likely to score successes than the decker) to "slog" (when successes become sufficiently rare on both sides, regardless of relative frequency). I'm starting to suspect that my happy memories of playing a decker were more than a little a result of being a decker/foo, being more adept at the Matrix rules than my GMs and therefore just steamrollering over most hosts, but being a foo enough of the time that the "nothing's putting up resistance" feeling didn't sink in.

Maybe I'm just getting discouraged, but one thing that stands out to me is that an Otaku with lots of Hacking Pool wouldn't be any more spontaneous—Hacking Pool basically doesn't come with a decision attached. Cybercombat is pretty much only worth engaging in when it can be won easily, there's basically no other non-emergency circumstance in which you're penalized for just performing one Operation per Combat Turn so that your pool has completely refreshed by the next Operation, and extra DF is so much more powerful than extra dice that any pool that can be spent to raise your DF except for ending at 6n+1 plateaus will be. The only actual decision with Hacking Pool I can find is, in principle, deciding whether or not to suppress crashed IC, but unless the IC rating is extremely low you're highly likely to trigger more IC by not suppressing it so that's almost never a real decision either.

Well the same could really be argued about any and all pools: it's basically double your skill at any time you're not in combat. It's not really correct, though: pool is used for more than just combat and system tests:

-Hacking Pool --> Detection Factor
-Hacking Pool --> suppress IC
-Hacking Pool --> Improvised Attack
-Hacking Pool --> Improvised Defense

Okay, so the last two are combat applications, but we've already been kicking around an idea for Improvised Utilities which would also utilise Hacking Pool. Some sort of on-the-fly utility programming, or even on-the-fly utility improvement, would go a long way toward addressing that all-or-nothing feel of the current Matrix rules.

Author:  Kagetenshi [ Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Eyeless Blond wrote:
Well the same could really be argued about any and all pools: it's basically double your skill at any time you're not in combat.

Ish. It's more egregious here, though; Combat Pool has occasional weirdnesses when people set up things like target shoots or trick shots in non-combat situations, but it's almost universally used in combat; Astral Combat Pool likewise. I think Control Pool still gets managed outside of combat, because if you're doing something complex enough that you need to roll for it out of combat you're probably inherently doing a few things (I guess maybe a pure Driving Test might have this issue). Spell Pool is a bit closer to Hacking Pool but it still involves, every time (well, ok, except for Light drain when you have a Trauma Damper), a decision on the tradeoff between odds of success/degree of success and certainty of drain avoidance.

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It's not really correct, though: pool is used for more than just combat and system tests:

-Hacking Pool --> Detection Factor
-Hacking Pool --> suppress IC
-Hacking Pool --> Improvised Attack
-Hacking Pool --> Improvised Defense

But at least as it stands now the decisions on how pool should be used can be automated with a fairly simple script. First allocate all possible Hacking Pool to DF. If DF is at a 6n+1 plateau, deallocate two points of Hacking Pool. Roll all leftover hacking pool on all tests. The only leftover decision is whether or not to suppress a given piece of IC with Hacking Pool (doing it in DF never makes sense unless you're out of Hacking Pool), which in principle could be a real decision if the rating of the IC is low enough that it might not trigger more IC, but really you would lose very little by just conservatively having the script suppress all IC with Hacking Pool.

If we make cybercombat actually happen, the improvised attack/defense might reintroduce some non-trivially-automatable decisionmaking.

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Okay, so the last two are combat applications, but we've already been kicking around an idea for Improvised Utilities which would also utilise Hacking Pool. Some sort of on-the-fly utility programming, or even on-the-fly utility improvement, would go a long way toward addressing that all-or-nothing feel of the current Matrix rules.

Mm. I need to give that some more brainpower.

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2) I do like the idea that Otaku's weirdness extends to their physical bodies and makes them weak. We can start by all Otaku beginning with the RML for all three physical attributes lowered by 2 (so 4 is the RML; 6 is the attribute max), and maybe give them something extra (not bonus attribute points) for lowering their RML by 2 again (so 2 is the RML; 3 is the Attribute max).

That seems extreme; I'm inclined to keep the tension of the Otaku specialist against the Decker generalist, but this would be physically crippling them so thoroughly that they basically wouldn't be able to do anything else (exceptions include Electronics/Electronics B/R and Gunnery; an Otaku Rigger wouldn't be as crippled as other roles, but the lost Reaction is still a very big hit, and they need to acquire everything after chargen. B&E is impractical due to the hit on Quickness capping Stealth).
Well, how much is it different from canon? Remember that Otaku are supposed to have attributes all at 1 at "chargen"--whatever arbitrary time we decide that to be--a restriction we would no longer have. Sure, under these rules your super-specialist non-elf Otaku would need to take Exceptional Attribute just to get to Quickness 4--heh--but is that really as crippled as it sounds?

Right, but then 26 karma later they've got 2 Body, 2 Strength, and 4 Quickness. Or more likely 22 karma later they've got 2 Body, 1 Strength, and 4 Quickness.

As for how crippled it may be, the effects of the new karma-based regime are still not entirely clear to me but it looks to guarantee the Otaku third-rate status in stealth and combat, and they can't magic it up because they're Otaku. Also, Troll Otaku would have a Quickness RML of 1.

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The first-order approximation running through my head right now is this:

-MPCP still starts as average of all three mental attributes
-Bod = Will
-Sensor = Int

These are as per canon (just noting for the record).

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-Masking = Cha

Taking Willpower out of the equation—is the idea to have one-stat-one-attribute?

In abrupt need of sleep, but my main worry is that it looks like MPCP could get awfully high—remember, regular deckers are capped at 12.

More tomo—later today.

~J

Author:  Eyeless Blond [ Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Otaku and Detection Factor

Kagetenshi wrote:
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2) I do like the idea that Otaku's weirdness extends to their physical bodies and makes them weak. We can start by all Otaku beginning with the RML for all three physical attributes lowered by 2 (so 4 is the RML; 6 is the attribute max), and maybe give them something extra (not bonus attribute points) for lowering their RML by 2 again (so 2 is the RML; 3 is the Attribute max).

That seems extreme; I'm inclined to keep the tension of the Otaku specialist against the Decker generalist, but this would be physically crippling them so thoroughly that they basically wouldn't be able to do anything else (exceptions include Electronics/Electronics B/R and Gunnery; an Otaku Rigger wouldn't be as crippled as other roles, but the lost Reaction is still a very big hit, and they need to acquire everything after chargen. B&E is impractical due to the hit on Quickness capping Stealth).
Well, how much is it different from canon? Remember that Otaku are supposed to have attributes all at 1 at "chargen"--whatever arbitrary time we decide that to be--a restriction we would no longer have. Sure, under these rules your super-specialist non-elf Otaku would need to take Exceptional Attribute just to get to Quickness 4--heh--but is that really as crippled as it sounds?

Right, but then 26 karma later they've got 2 Body, 2 Strength, and 4 Quickness. Or more likely 22 karma later they've got 2 Body, 1 Strength, and 4 Quickness.
Which is again extremely silly. I mean, why is this arbitrary point called "Chargen" so integral to an Otaku's overall makeup, that the first 22-26 Karma he gets "post-chargen" immediately transforms him from a crippled person into a normal person? Did he just never move until that moment? Was he grown in a test tube and hasn't been able to exercise until that second?

What happens in low-power starting campaigns, where an Otaku starts at 375 Karma? He picks up 25 Karma, and all of a sudden he's a normal person with regular attributes. Then imagine another Otaku joins the group, now with 400 Karma. This one, of course, has attributes of all 1 still; he didn't get out of the cloning chamber until 25 karma after the other Otaku I guess.

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As for how crippled it may be, the effects of the new karma-based regime are still not entirely clear to me but it looks to guarantee the Otaku third-rate status in stealth and combat, and they can't magic it up because they're Otaku. Also, Troll Otaku would have a Quickness RML of 1.
Well, unless he invests a hefty amount of Karma in bringing up his Stealth... or gets a chipjack with a Stealth skill.

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The first-order approximation running through my head right now is this:

-MPCP still starts as average of all three mental attributes
-Bod = Will
-Sensor = Int

These are as per canon (just noting for the record).

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-Masking = Cha

Taking Willpower out of the equation—is the idea to have one-stat-one-attribute?

In abrupt need of sleep, but my main worry is that it looks like MPCP could get awfully high—remember, regular deckers are capped at 12.

Yes, but it's not as important how high an Otaku's MPCP is, because it doesn't cap his Persona Ratings like deckers. It'll especially be irrelevant if we nuke MPCP's contribution to Hacking Pool, which I was thinking of changing anyway because it doesn't make sense for deckers. Pool should be based on things inherent to the character--that is, attributes, 'ware, and possibly skills--and not on external hardware.

The only real consequence for Otaku having a high MPCP is that Black IC will have a harder time... lowering their MPCP, which doesn't matter because it doesn't do anything for the Otaku in the first place.

Oh, and MPCP isn't really capped at 12; that's just as high as the stock cyberdecks go. MPCP is only limited by how much you can pay for the component, both in Matrix and in my proposed revision.

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