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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 4:53 am 
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Just curious.

Personally...we never do anything with deckers, and it's all for one single reason; the gameplay is absolutely no fun at all.

I'm not saying it's deviating from everything else that's going on so because it keeps everyone else from playing we don't use it.

I'm saying that when I first started playing this game when I was 15 years old (I'm 30 now), we really, really, really loved decking!

Let me back up a second.

Let me tell a story first, so that my exact perspective can correctly be understood.
My child-hood friend and I never played any RPG's.
Well, rather, I had in the past played D&D because well...it was the 80's, but when I was in my teens that had been nearly 5 years since I had played an RPG. At any rate, we played video games, and at the time we only had our SNES but the newest envy was the SEGA Genesis, and one of our other close friends had one.
He was our token counter-culture friend, he new all of the underground bands, he had the internet first, he read all of the great pieces of literature, and he also new this little thing called cyberpunk.
We didn't know anything about it, but one day we were on our way over envying his SEGA Genesis with Battletech, and we showed up to find a silver person with their back to us inside of a grid outlined in blue. The figure was throwing out lightening at strange basic shapes on the screen, and there was a picture of his face, which looked like Snake Eyes from GI Joe an Blood Pool mixed with the Silver Surfer, was on a menu which held digital cards that had images of various action options.

Image

We were immediately hooked.

We continued to love everything about the rest of the game and how much like Bladerunner this whole world was...as if someone made Tron inside of Bladerunner with a dash of Logan's Run thrown in for good taste, but somehow involving the cast of Lord of the Rings.

It was the wildest thing and then we found out that it was an RPG.
Well...I'm fairly sure it's obvious that we bought it instantly by forcing our local baseball card shop to start ordering anything Shadowrun if we pay the shipping, and a fee (keep in mind folks...there was no internet to buy with, and we were teens...on an island in Kodiak, Alaska never-the-less).

I say all that to explain that when we picked up the game and started playing, the very first thing we did was make deckers.

We just HAD to play the RPG version of what was in that smaller-scaled video game.

And then...it just sucked.
Horribly.

It was less than fun, it was like book keeping.
They took what was brilliantly amazing in the video game and sliced it into simulated book keeping and map charting.

Then we realized it was the other way around.
The video game had taking a simulated book keeping and map charting mechanic and somehow repackaged this into something that was vividly brilliant and incredibly active vibrantly.

You thought it was so damn cool to watch someone break through black IC, and you just crapped yourself when some of them popped up on the way to the red node....oh you sweet red node!
I hate to love you...it hurts so much to get to you, but I must have you.


Now...why the hell should we really be OK with letting the matrix continue on with it's lack-luster mechanics?

Why can't we throw ALL of it out and re-do this the way EVERYONE continues to think it SHOULD be done...and I don't mean the way the rules that are there should be done, that's rule fixing.
I mean the way the concept SHOULD have been done to meet up with the impressiveness of and the tenuousness exhilaration of the setting it was.


We can completely stream-line the entire Matrix section into mechanics that are twice as fast as the current mechanics, and a more intuitive interface for the deckers to play with for navigating the matrix as an entirety.

It will take some SERIOUS thinking creatively, and starting at the bottom floor of examining what the core objectives were designed as for the model (what is a decker, what are they for, what is their persona in the Sixth World, what is this Matrix, why is it perceived as something of great awe, why is it feared, how is it a rush to be in the Matrix, what is it like to die in the Matrix, what is their purpose in the group, what do they have to offer to the typical gaming group, how often can that be applied, how is it applicable as often as needed for enjoyment, how is it able to include the group).

Then make sure that we answer every one of these questions, not with fluffy nice black text lacing up nicely clean white pages, but with mechanics that represent these concepts by having the feel of the general attitude of the archetype of the decker, feels like the world of the Matrix itself just in the dice mechanics themselves, is a gamble of perportions so much so a rush in itself to simulate the rush of the Matrix, yet the mechanics tie into the rest of the group or include non-decker members as optionable methods of combined game-play...the decker can use non-decker members in ways inside of the matrix and the members can impact the matrix by interaction via the decker; literally.
Further, the decker can achieve certain levels of multiple instancing with cybered individuals by tapping into their internal cyberware matrix, especially with head gear and things like electronic targeting systems.

Think about it.

The matrix is everywhere....and the world, even today is mobile as hell.
There's nothing stopping, technically, a decker from hopping into the matrix of a smartlink, and from there, if one of the opponents has a smartlink firearm as well, there's nothing stopping them from hopping to that one via their buddy's smartlink...they are going to be sending out some form of sensing beam...which means you could ride the digital stream there and move over to the other smartlink system.

And if they are cybered, then that means you can hop inside the opponent and take a piggy back ride.


Want to plant a bug?
Well...grab your cyber sniper and have him aim an infrared, high frequency electronic sound beam, ultrasound, or otherwise emitter at your cybered or tech-savvy target and let your decker rip.

Decker installed, good to go.

In combat...well...what is there better than someone that fly straight through the thin air and shut down all of the weapons in combat, or lock their safeties on at least through smartlink accesses?

Better still, take out and short out anyone that was cybered up heavily.

It's like an electronic ghost, and you as a cybered person may actually want to think about getting yourself some personally installed cyber matrix defenses...don't really want any deckers poking in at you eh? Ever wanted to watch a skillsoft program kill someone?
Yeesh...not a pretty site.


By the way...one could easily accomplish something like this for the Astral concepts of the game as well.

Every person around could easily have an Astral plane and/or Matrix plane around and inside of their actual person.


The Astral is their essence...the spiritual existence of all humanity and metahumanity, and thanks to technology a very large amount of man will also have the digital plane of the Matrix either on their person or inside of their body.

Man is a literal combination between Atrificial Reality and Ethereal Reality.


If you have an Astral Combat mage, a Decker, Cyberwarrior, and Rigger in your party...you are directly deadly to the enemy.

You have the Astral Combat covered, so you can attack them Spiritually.
You have the Matrix Combat covered, so you can attack their Cyberware and Electronic equipment.
You have the Physical Combat covered, so you can attack their Body.
You have the Transportation and Robotics Combat covered, so you can attack their support.


No support.
No cyberware or electronic equipment.
No body.
No spirit.

You win.
Because you have the cyberware, equipment, body, support, and you have the spirit.





I always thought it would have made perfect sense if a Decker and a Rigger were able to work side-by-side inside of a car to a great extent like two workers on a construction yard.

I also thought the Mage/Shamman should have been able to work side-by-side with the Decker inside of people.

And this means you can start combining player characters into one player character even.

A decker a mage could both be in the street samurai.

See, the more essence a character has, the more vulnerable they are to the mage and less vulnerable they are to the decker (aside from their external gear), and the less essence they have the more vulnerable they are to the decker and less to the mage.



The principle reason that deckers and astral mages blow is becuase their interaction with the other members of the game is quite minimal.

The former is by far less interactive than the latter.
And that's why I'm saying...Why not just redesign everything from the ground up and fix THAT; as opposed to working on the rules that are already there that work from the angle of erroring on that concept from conception.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:56 am 
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Stumps wrote:
In combat...well...what is there better than someone that fly straight through the thin air and shut down all of the weapons in combat, or lock their safeties on at least through smartlink accesses?

I always thought that not having to gouge my brain out when contemplating the logic behind making a line of firearms that can be accessed (and disabled) remotely was better than this, but the SR4 designers sided with you on that issue.

~J

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:57 pm 
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Well...I wouldn't suggest making that capability so easy.

Make it node play like normal concepts of the matrix, not just a simple test.
But I think the entire thing, one way or another, needs to be revamped all together.

And it needs to be brought into being important to NORMAL game-play and not side-tangent game-play.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:26 pm 
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Stumps: When was the last time you tried making a decker? I heard that the move from SR2 to SR3 really, really made decking a whole lot better; is it still the bookkeeping nightmare it was back then for you, or are you stuck fighting the last war?

That said, I absolutely agree that the way SR3 decking works right now is too much like bookkeeping and too little like actual fun. I don't think that the answer is to toss out all the rules and start from zero, however. I actually do like the Skill and Persona Attributes vs Security Value and Subsystem ratings, Subsystem minus Program TN paradigm, and I think with a little work that we can get from that basic framework to a decker game worth playing.

(Shh, don't tell anyone, but I am essentially trying to do the same thing as you: make decking and deckers more fun and relevant to rest of the team and the world in general. I'm trying to do it, however, while keeping most of the basic framework of the rules as written. This is the ultimate aim of my Unified ASIST project; you'll notice that the end result of that thread is to make decking human bodies possible, remove many of the thematic and rules-based isolation of the decker archetype, and force everyone who uses Hot ASIST--which is a lot more people under those rules--to beware the decker.

(I'm also working to lower the total number of utilities, and generalize them so the GM can call for essentially arbitrary tests and have a decent handle on which Utility ro use and why. I'm also trying to make deckers more skill based, and less cash based, making them less dependent on the physical presence of the deck and more dependent on being able to actually do things. I do have to move on to Matrix Combat soon, once we see more agreement on the basic framework of the virtual world.)


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 8:52 pm 
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Yeah...I've tried...still nasty, like you said.

Sounds like I just need to dig in and read up heavily on your propositions there Eyeless, as that's most of what I was meaning by tossing things out (not a literal dump, but a dump of the original concept of what they do in the gameplay).


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:52 pm 
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The one thing I would like to ditch myself (Really like to ditch) are sculpted metaphors, or at least the kind described in canon SR3. While everyone else is over in an actual building, dodging security personnel and going for mission objectives, the decker is walking around in a silly little alternate reality farieland, trying to figure out if the tree he's standing next to is a Slave node, a SAN, or a piece of IC just pretending. God what a waste of time; nothing else in the game makes deckers feel like a separate game stapled to the outside of Shadowrun than the way sculpted metaphors are described as having nothing to do with the buildings they are meant to represent.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 11, 2009 2:08 am 
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Agreed.

Honestly, it should be like Tron's world layered over the top of the real world in a way something like the Matrix does when Neo there get's his savior vision going.

And you should be able to hop, while jacked in, back and forth between people and the building.

That way you can be piggy backing in the sammies head, flip out to the camera up there, run around into the system to the door up ahead and crack it open for everyone (or shut if needs be).


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:42 pm 
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So you like the way SR4 does decking then? For all its many faults, it does have much more of the feel you're describing, of being able to just reach out and hack something without having to really worry about what goes on between you and the target.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 1:46 pm 
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Actually, I think what you're looking for, more than SR4, is Franktrollman's Ends of the Matrix, which is even more flexible and, in its way, internally consistent than the canon SR4 rules. There really are some very interesting rules in there: much of my Unified ASIST idea drew on that ruleset for inspiration, and I'd dearly love to see SR3R Otaku become more like his Technomancers.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:00 pm 
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By the way, I'd suggest everyone here actually read through the alternate rules I linked to, especially the part at the beginning that goes through a lovely discussion of the game mechanical concerns of designing a Matrix/decking system. It really does have some good overall points that need to be addressed by anyone writing such a system, even if what we end up with differs substantially from what Frank has.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:09 pm 
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If you can point out specific areas of that thread that are worth reading, please do; I've already been overwhelmed by the stupid once reading through Ends of the Matrix, and my time following the SR4 prerelease FAQs taught me that once is enough.

~J

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 2:54 pm 
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Well the actual rules are an unfortunate consequence of trying to preserve SR4's "flavor"--which sadly does include hackers firing magical hacking beams from their cell phones at objects that in all likelihood would be hard-wired, and Technomancers having magical radio-brains which don't seem to have an actual transmitter. The first couple posts, though, where he expounds on some of the gameworld conventions, why they're important, and how he specifically deals with them, those should be required reading, even if we in the end disagree with his conclusions, because they are thoughtful and expose some of the fundamental considerations of an SR Matrix.

Yes, there is a lot of stupid--Frank has set himself out to make a drop-in replacement to SR4's version of hacking, so naturally he has to include all of its stupid as well. I think, though, he did an admirable job (and I do love the creepiness of his Technomancers, even more than SR3's Otaku).


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:45 pm 
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My problem is that the very foundations on which essentially everything, including his early discussions of issues, is built are either irrelevant (nanopaste simply doesn't exist, 'trodes are significantly slower than Datajacks, etc.; Datajacks don't send and receive "gibberish", they're explicitly capable of permitting direct access to the contents of headware memory; the entire section on Modern Data Management is predicated on a development that happens entirely in Liber Non Grata; so on and so forth) or simply wrong (he brings up the specter of satellite oversight through the example of Google Earth, which has excellent resolution because it makes extensive use of low-altitude aerial photography, and he shows no awareness whatsoever of the Rayleigh criterion's harsh limitations on how good satellite surveillance can possibly be; he makes ridiculous and unwarranted assumptions about the implications of computing power exceeding the human brain; so on and soforth). I just don't see enough of value to wade through, so I'd advise drawing on specific examples to introduce ideas from his work.

~J

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 3:48 pm 
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I am just impressed.

Seriously...some people are far too jaded (first post by another user than Frank, "nice job"...way to understate it).
That amount of work just drop-jawed me...it's just nuts really.

At any rate, I have not played SR4 tbh.
I steered clear after personally trusted SR3 fans basically walked back and said, "Well...they ruined it instead of fixing anything; don't bother."

I've read some of it here and there, but nothing terribly serious.
So, honestly, I'm not privy on what the matrix is truly like in SR4 or not.

One day, I know I'll end up playing SR4 anyway (or at least reading it cover to cover), but for the moment, I've had far too much going on with my current group to get around to SR4 when everyone else is SR3 interested...and I can't say I really blame them from a traditional standpoint.

I'll get into reading this...hrm...we game tonight, so maybe tonight if the guys need some time to mess with char's, but otherwise, probably tomorrow or some such when my wife hangs out with her girlfriend for movies.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 4:46 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
...and he shows no awareness whatsoever of the Rayleigh criterion's harsh limitations on how good satellite surveillance can possibly be...
I'd be very hesitant to mention that. First off, Rayleigh only applies to single lenses; current research is going into using parallel lens arrays to surpass the limit. Second, Rayleigh applies today because there is a physical limit on the size of lens we can load onto modern spacecraft; by 2070 they have actual orbiting cities, and thus orbiting manufacturing plants, and thus that limit goes away. Third, Rayleigh does not recognize the recent development of materials with negative refractive indexes; only time will tell how far those can push (or even utterly destroy) Rayleigh's predictions, which were made back in the 19th century to describe the traditional optics that were the only things available at the time.

Anyway, yes, I agree there is a lot of stupid there, much of it SR4-related stupid but some not. But it's at least a more thoughtful stupid than SR4; my hope is that our stupid is at least that much more thoughtful than SR3. :)


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:28 pm 
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Hm, I'm being vague again. Let me be more specific:

Under "Four Questions", Frank brings up four very fundamental questions that a Decking system should answer:

1) Why Datajacks? - In other words, why would one drill holes in his head to install a computer interface when alternatives exist. In other words, what makes a datajack so good that people will undergo surgery--and Essence Loss--to get it?
2) Why Crime? - In other words, how is crime possible in a dystopian society where cameras are cheap and (meta)human lives are cheaper? How is ID faked in a world with instant access to "official" databases?
3) Why Deckers?/ - In other words, how can lone (meta)humans possibly keep up with the hundreds of thousands, even millions, of nuyen spent on complex corporate data centers? Not only that, but how is it done in a way that doesn't involve things that would be unsuitable for play (such as botnets, which are either boring or not particularly dependent on the decker)?
4) Why Money? - In other words, why would a decker not just hack a bank or take out a loan for the duration of the campaign, rather than risk his head shooting people in the face for money?

Each question may be answered differently for SR3 (and thus SR3R) than it is in SR4 (and thus for EotM 4), but the questions themselves are important, big-picture questions, things we need to keep in mind of.

We may not decide, for example, that trodes (and nanopaste trodes) have roughly the same data throughput as jacks, but we need to have a reason for jacks to be better than trodes, and better enough that people will risk having holes drilled in their heads to get one. I don't know how many other people here had to get surgery done on their head (especially when it turns out years later that that particular surgery might have been worse than leaving well enough alone), but trust me, it's not an experience I'd care to repeat just to get a USB port grafted onto my forehead unless there was a really compelling reason. For our part, I'm not sure we're there yet; Frank's rules do provide such a compelling reason.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 5:38 pm 
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Quite frankly, I'd be ok with doing away with 'trodes; they make very little sense, given the awful resolution you get when you try to pick up on incredibly faint electrical signals that are themselves only byproducts of the movement of sodium, potassium, and calcium ions through the skull and skin.

That said, it's true, these questions are reasonable to consider. I'll put some thought into them.

~J

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:20 pm 
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The idea of a RAS Taser is pretty awesome too; I nominate that for inclusion as a new bit of Gear. :D


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:42 pm 
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Does it then cause Dump Shock when you yank it off of someone?

~J

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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:56 pm 
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What an interesting idea. Sure, why not?


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 6:57 pm 
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I mean, there should probably be a kind of built-in "Graceful Logoff" for the "Taser", but if it's just yanked out... heck yeah, go for it.

SR3R: Now with twice your daily recommended dose of brain damage!


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:51 am 
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1) Sculpted systems - yes, stupid. Bad for gameplay, bad for realism. I've seen a lot of computer networks, and by and large, they're arranged parallel to the actual groups of people doing the work, not based on fairies and ponies. I think we need to include the ABILITY to make a sculpted system. However, by and large, most networks should:

A) Be organized based on business lines, physical layouts, or in parallel to something else relevant.
B) Be straightforward and easy to understand (or at least attempt to be so). A folder called GSN - TNMs 9547 probably makes sense to someone, and relates to what it contains. An oak tree is less likely to be so.
C) Be an environment that encourages work for the corporation. A work office is a nice environment. A picnic table is not. Sculpted systems are useful here because you can tie in propaganda. Breaking into an NAN gov't system, the IC likely looks like firebirds or warriors or something, or maybe even totem poles. Something that impresses what this system is and how good the administration is. However, this should not get in the way of doing actual work.


Along this line...

I like the idea of deckers being able to walk around, in their meatbod, while decking and otherwise being useful. EB already brought up some excellent suggestions related to this. Assuming a decker has already cracked the system, if he could locate a given devise visually and then be able to track it down digitally without much hassle and interact with it like that, that would be ideal. If, for instance, part of the matrix topology follows the actual topology of the network cables, he may be able to visually superimpose a map of the facility and follow along his physical location (good use for cyberware navigation tools, like a pedometer and compass, or a GPS!) He could either set his matrix persona to follow his steps (which becomes confusing when network cables run through walls), or set it to move near instantly to a position he pinpoints on his map, then interact with the device he finds at that point on the network map. If security devices are intentionally concealed somehow, this could have the result of his picking up the wrong device in the area, perhaps.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:00 am 
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Augmented with ways of creating cheap wireless links, the ability to deactivate RAS override while still hanging out on a host might allow the decker to be more dynamically involved in the action; they'll still need to go into coma mode to actually get stuff done, but they can be with the team at the time instead of hidden somewhere else with a bored guard.

Got a brainstorm, but it needs to wait until after I finish something for class.

~J

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 4:31 pm 
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Or a bunch of things for class, one of those.

So yeah, basic outlines of an idea before I go hop in the shower:

We redo the Radio Link or something like that as two pieces of gear; a transmitter and a deck accessory (in principle they could be the same but who cares). We also, to make them disposable, introduce a new kind of Encryption; it's cheap and effective but fairly limited (by minutes or megapulses, one of those), probably based on something along the lines of a one-time pad but breakable because that's just better gameplay. Alternately we could just offer limited ways to screw over someone using a radio link so that it doesn't matter.

We then add rules for leaving your Persona on a host while the decker cuts the connection (and in particular the RAS override).

We'd need to come up with a good risk for doing so that isn't zero but doesn't destroy any willingness to try this, but this means that the Decker doesn't need to hole up wherever he or she can find a jackpoint; if the team gets into a big fight and needs the fire suppression system turned on now, the decker can do a running slide into some protected corner, activate the RAS, and go to it. Rules for locating the transmitters shouldn't make things risk-free, again, but they should be hard or time-consuming enough that in most places a connection can be maintained and sporadically used without being removed or resulting in the decker's position being revealed.

Thoughts? I need to fill in the gaps, but I think it could make the Decker fit in much more effectively with the team dynamic while not forcing us to conclude that matrix systems are designed to make it easier to attack them.

~J

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 8:55 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
We redo the Radio Link or something like that as two pieces of gear; a transmitter and a deck accessory (in principle they could be the same but who cares). We also, to make them disposable, introduce a new kind of Encryption; it's cheap and effective but fairly limited (by minutes or megapulses, one of those), probably based on something along the lines of a one-time pad but breakable because that's just better gameplay. Alternately we could just offer limited ways to screw over someone using a radio link so that it doesn't matter.


What's wrong with using current broadcast encryption? This either makes the devices somewhat expensive, encouraging thoughtful planning and recovery, or stops the character from encrypting these transmissions. Depending on the usage you imagine, this may not be all that big a deal - if you're just looking to cover your tail on the way out it might be enough.

Kagetenshi wrote:
We then add rules for leaving your Persona on a host while the decker cuts the connection (and in particular the RAS override).


I haven't read much of Matrix (heck, I've only read the core sr3 decking section once), but I'd prefer to keep the user logged on in some capacity, perhaps as a tortoise.

Kagetenshi wrote:
We'd need to come up with a good risk for doing so that isn't zero but doesn't destroy any willingness to try this, but this means that the Decker doesn't need to hole up wherever he or she can find a jackpoint; if the team gets into a big fight and needs the fire suppression system turned on now, the decker can do a running slide into some protected corner, activate the RAS, and go to it. Rules for locating the transmitters shouldn't make things risk-free, again, but they should be hard or time-consuming enough that in most places a connection can be maintained and sporadically used without being removed or resulting in the decker's position being revealed.


Doesn't the bug-scanner (SR3, p. 289) cover this? If anything, should probably get negative TN mods, given the relatively high bandwidth involved.

Also, forgive any silly/non applicable bits in my reply - someone asked for thoughts, so there they are in their un-thought-out glory.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:41 am 
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Kage: I've been going down this road already, remember? Specifically...

Heh, and I remember you initially were completely against the idea primarily because you hated the idea of deckers walking around without wires tethering them to the walls/riggermobile and having to be constantly comatose.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:59 am 
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Maybe you needed to threaten me with hacking people's smartlinks first. You have to propose something extreme, then I'll support what you actually want in compromise ;)

That said, you'll notice that my proposal maintains comatoseness. It just provides for bursts of activity in between.

Edit: actually, the proposals really aren't that similar; you propose non-comatose real-world-overlay pre-installed wireless, while I propose comatose real-world-divorced decker-creates-the-wireless-node. That said, it's clearly time for me to do a proper reread of that thread.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:26 am 
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I could go for either one, but I would encourage things to be standardized when possible. The encryption should probably fall into the Rigger encryption method perhaps (since this would be a perfect application).

I think it would be ideal if there were also devices or techniques which forced the decker to do this, like isolated internal networks, so the decker has to go into the facility, possibly plant a wireless device on the network as his port, and as long as he's there anyway, he may as well stick with the party.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 9:36 am 
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On further discussion with land and investigation of the radio broadcast encryption costs (as opposed to the Drone broadcast encryption costs), I've come to the conclusion that just using standard radio crypto might be enough, especially as it doesn't seem like there would be extensive ways for someone who breaks the crypto to screw over the decker.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 10:15 am 
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Is there a reason why the person who set up the system couldn't choose whatever method he's willing to pay for?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:53 am 
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Sorry, my brain appears to be fried. Could you rephrase or clarify the question?

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 12:43 pm 
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We discussed this in another thread, but currently there are at least three methods of encryption available (rigger encryption, decker encryption, broadcast encryption), each with their own difficulties, limitations and costs. Is there a reason why the radio matrix connection MUST use broadcast encryption as opposed to another alternative?

Is using broadcast encryption the required form of encryption, or are you just saying it's the most appropriate for most uses (and thusly, the most common you'll see)?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 1:37 pm 
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The only difference between Rigger and Broadcast encryption is the price (well, and what you can use it on); I selected Broadcast because it's cheap and these units have to be disposable for the plan to work.

(Terse replies brought to you by a guest cat sleeping on my right arm)

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 2:06 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
Maybe you needed to threaten me with hacking people's smartlinks first. You have to propose something extreme, then I'll support what you actually want in compromise ;)

That said, you'll notice that my proposal maintains comatoseness. It just provides for bursts of activity in between.

Edit: actually, the proposals really aren't that similar; you propose non-comatose real-world-overlay pre-installed wireless, while I propose comatose real-world-divorced decker-creates-the-wireless-node. That said, it's clearly time for me to do a proper reread of that thread.

~J

Well, comatose-decker in a wireless world can probably work with rules already written; we just have to make the Suspend Icon Operations trick not suck so much (see Matris: Decker Tricks or whatever it's called; don't have access to books at the moment).


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:28 am 
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Not to derail overly much, but if broadcast encryption is identical to Rigger encryption except the price, can we eliminate 'rigger encryption' and instead create a general 'encryption kit' like the rigger kit to install weapons in vehicles?

Fewer rules means fewer headaches and all.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 9:48 am 
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I don't see the point. They use the same rules, so it wouldn't be any fewer, and you don't even reduce the size of the gear list—RCEMs have only one price multiplier tier.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 1:58 pm 
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It's mostly terminology. If I see them listed as separate line items, I have to go look up each one individually to know they're different. If they just used the same name, then as a reader, I know they're one and the same at a glance.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 3:30 pm 
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So just call it all "Broadcast Encryption", and specify that the "Rigger-enabled" mod increases the price, because it has to be basically carrier-grade capacity rather than residential-grade capacity?


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 6:47 pm 
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Precisely.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 16, 2009 7:20 pm 
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I'm still not sure that it does anything useful, but that sounds like a small change that can be made arbitrarily late in the process, so I guess we can wait and see what the gear list looks like.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 4:57 pm 
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I suggest simplifying the 3e matrix rules by having 2 numbers system and firewall. Firewall is the target number needed for the decker to do their thing, system is what you roll against the decker for rasing the security tally. When ICE or another decker comes on the scene then you can run it as a melee combat giving stats for the ICE or decker, with perhaps some special abilities for the ICE, perhaps like paranormal creatures or spells. Combat will still be kinda clunky and slow but for basic tests you now dont have to worry about different TNs. Also consolidation of similar programs would help reduce the tests.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 5:03 pm 
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I think a two-numbers system has been proposed before, but I still don't see the advantage; ACIFS isn't complex to begin with.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:16 pm 
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That sort of thing might work for many really simple systems, like you see in SR4 where you can hack someone's Smartlink, or an individual camera, or whatever, but in the client-server world of SR3 it just doesn't provide enough depth for there to be deckers.

You might as well be asking why not get rid of spells and different resistance attributes, and always have the mage roll Magic vs. Willpower, or get rid of drones and vehicles and just have the rigger roll Rigging vs. the enemy's Rigging to see if you pass the "Rigger's part" of the run, or get rid of guns and melee weapons, and just have the sam roll his one Combat skill vs. the enemy's one Combat skill. I mean, yeah, you could do that, but do you really want to?

A lot of people are under the impression that decking is a chore, and it's the other character's jobs that are the "interesting" or "important" ones. This unfortunate view has been reinforced by a decade of really bad, really boring rulesets. But it doesn't have to be that way. Decking can be fun. Decking can be interesting. It's our job to make that happen, not to throw it away so everyone else has fun, and the decker's player gets relegated to a couple of die rolls, then becomes designated pizza & beer guy.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 1:44 pm 
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I think your missing the point, this isnt about taking the programs away its about taking the load off the GM.

Example: Mouse (our decker) decided she wants to plant some software in the utilities company. The GM decides that the hardware for the company is pretty good giving it 6 system dice to find Mouse but that the software isnt patched so well giving a TN of 5 (Firewall). If there is a particular hard or easy area the GM could give an edge of +2 to file writes but most of the time the TN is static for all tests. Otherwise the game proceeds as standard 3e rules. The only thing we eliminated was the redundancy of 6/5/5/5/7/4

As for the consolidation, there are programs/spells/etc that are terribly redundant. Take Mana X spell they got rid of dart etc from 2e and combined it into Mana bolt pick the damage level but they still have two versions of Invisibility when only one is needed you could just have a more difficult drain value to fool security cameras.


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:12 pm 
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So effectively replace ACIFS with 0/+3/-4/0/0/+1, based off a single, base number representing the whole system?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:02 am 
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Maybe, but that's maybe not the most important thing tete's getting at. The larger point here, I think, is that the Matrix side of a run is harder to just pick up and go with as certain other aspects. Setting up security systems, putting together some random guards, spirit patrols, etc. are a lot easier than putting together a host network on the fly, especially using just the main book.

This is partly because there really isn't a good section explaining step by step how to put together a good network of hosts for the decker. You have to delve into supplements to find a good set of example hosts, whereas example runners, guards, spirits, vehicles, etc. are all in the main book. I don't think I've ever seen a particularly well-designed example host network for a decker or decker team to play in, though admittedly I haven't looked very hard. I'm going to have to re-read the core rules, Matrix and Target:Matrix sometime, but I don't remember even seeing them go into basic network topology (bus, star, bus-star, star-star, full mesh, etc), which should IMO be part of the bare minimum when explaining to a novice GM how to create a network of hosts.

I think that's one of the reasons a lot of people have trouble thinking about and running the Matrix: despite going on for pages about telcom grids and other such abominations, the books really assume a lot of computing and networking knowledge that many people just don't have. They sort of assume that everyone at least intuitively understands the basics of Mathematical Graphs, even if they don't know the terminology, and can make one up to describe a host network without aid. We're going to have to rewrite that whole section, IMO; what's currently in there just bites horribly.

Oh, and then there's the numbers for Security Code, Security Value, Subsystem Ratings... yeah, those may have to change as well. We'll have to talk about that in another thread though.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:00 pm 
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Eyeless Blond wrote:
The larger point here, I think, is that the Matrix side of a run is harder to just pick up and go with as certain other aspects. Setting up security systems, putting together some random guards, spirit patrols, etc. are a lot easier than putting together a host network on the fly, especially using just the main book.

I'm going to skip over this at the moment for time reasons, but I disagree and will try to expand on that later.

Quote:
I'm going to have to re-read the core rules, Matrix and Target:Matrix sometime, but I don't remember even seeing them go into basic network topology (bus, star, bus-star, star-star, full mesh, etc), which should IMO be part of the bare minimum when explaining to a novice GM how to create a network of hosts.

You're looking for p204, SR3. If we wanted to add things like full-mesh networks, we would first have to provide a logic for it, as legitimate users lose only a few Combat Turns to go through a chain of hosts; only in exceptional cases is there a reason to have a cycle in a matrix topology, unless I missed something.

Quote:
They sort of assume that everyone at least intuitively understands the basics of Mathematical Graphs, even if they don't know the terminology, and can make one up to describe a host network without aid.

This is also required to come up with a building in which a run can take place, with further complications (the ability to break through walls, thus adding new edges), yet there's even less guidance given there.

Quote:
Oh, and then there's the numbers for Security Code, Security Value, Subsystem Ratings... yeah, those may have to change as well. We'll have to talk about that in another thread though.

Please do, as I've yet to see such a reason.

~J

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:30 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
Quote:
They sort of assume that everyone at least intuitively understands the basics of Mathematical Graphs, even if they don't know the terminology, and can make one up to describe a host network without aid.

This is also required to come up with a building in which a run can take place, with further complications (the ability to break through walls, thus adding new edges), yet there's even less guidance given there.

Human beings are generally familiar with the basics of buildings (walls, rooms, doors, windows, etc) simply by growing up in a modern society; I suppose if we were trying to teach SR3R to a group of 18th century Native Americans we'd probably have to explain what a doorway was and why you can't just walk into a room through a wall.

The Matrix is a bit different, as generally speaking not everyone is as familiar with computer networking as, say, you, nezumi and I are. It's just not something that "ordinary" humans come up against these days; the internet has made all of our modern packet-switching networks essentially invisible to the user. It's something that requires explanation, for those who may not be computer-savvy.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 5:36 pm 
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But my point is that the process of coming up with a floor consisting of, say, eight rooms (counting a hallway as a room) involves precisely the same use of graphs that constructing a network of hosts does, only with more weird cases and stricter constraints. We're talking about the same activity, only simpler.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:08 pm 
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...which is what we need to tell people, rather than just assuming they know it already. Just a short section for GMs about how to construct a typical residential/small business/corporate PLTG from scratch, how to create a host, etc, explained far more simply than you see in either Matrix book, would go a long way I think toward getting people to like and use deckers and the Matrix in games.

For instance, the books go on about RTGs, LTGs, and PLTGs as if they are important terms, when really they're all just different types of grids. The explanation goes from host->RTG->LTG->PLTG->host (again)->"Open Access"->""Tiered Access"->"Host-host Access"->"PLTG Access"... as if the hosts running LTGs, RTGs, PLTGs are fundamentally different from each other, or from individual hosts. It takes three pages before you finally get back to hosts and Security Rating/Code and subsystem ratings. It's the most idiotic way of presenting the data I could possibly think of.

The book should have started by describing a single host, as a single powerful computer/group of computers that presents a digital landscape to the user/decker. You then describe this digital landscape: sculpted design, ACIFS subsystems, Security Rating/Code, Security Sheaf, etc.

Once you get done explaining how a single host works, then you describe hosts connecting to each other through SANs to create networks called Grids. You tell the reader, in order to help visualize this, to think of each host as a single point, with the SANs being the links between them. Corporations with many hosts will link those hosts together in a Grid called a PLTG. Matrix providers will create a Grid called an LTG, where hosts from many different companies and other groups connect to a centralized "LTG host," which is just a normal host that exists solely to provide the links between companies that don't trust each other enough to have a direct connection. RTGs are the same as LTGs, but on a larger scale: a "long-distance Matrix Provider" creates an RTG by linking one or more LTGs together via a central "RTG host."

The problem, and the solution, I believe, is a matter of description and explanation. I think that people don't like the rules, not because they're too complicated in themselves, but because nobody bothered to explain the rules in a way that makes sense to people without computer science training.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:32 am 
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Ah, yes, that's certainly true. I've long held that Decking in particular suffers overwhelmingly from a marketing problem; my imagined complexity theory, while I think it does hold grains of truth, is less useful as a guide for how to make things better.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 5:42 pm 
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Oh, and let's not forget how decks are described after grids, hosts, SANs, and, if I remember right, Security Values and Detection Factor. Something tells me the guys who wrote the Matrix section for SR3 were paying homage to the 80s by being high when they wrote it. :D


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 6:42 pm 
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Right on the second page of the section, in a separated middle column, there's a Matrix Jargon list that at least describes the basics of what Cyberdecks are. If you don't count that, though, they first describe Accessing the Matrix, Jackpoints, Icons, Seeing the Matrix, Grids and Hosts, RTGs, LTGs, PLTGs, regulations and entry points, off-line hosts, matrix topology, SANs, distributed databases, system ratings, security codes, subsystem ratings, and the rating format before getting to cyberdecks.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:40 pm 
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Yes, I agree. I don't know that the Matrix rules (in general) need to be changed, but they do need to be explained better, and in the core book. We can write up a better tutorial to slip in without making any new rules.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:06 pm 
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So on the topic of revamping the Matrix, we should keep a brain out for ways to make sticking around in a system with active IC vaguely feasible; as it stands, in my experience, either the decker is able to defeat and suppress the IC in short order without expecting to accumulate more Tally in the process, or the only reasonable response is simply to Graceful Logoff and wait for the host to reset. The closest thing to a counter I can think of offhand is a deeply-chained network architecture (thus raising the cost of logging out, since you have to get all the way back in), but that's mostly just obnoxious.

I don't have anything to propose, and it's possible that the time pressure of real-time situations (decking during a run in progress, say) may be the only reasonable way to keep the decker on the host, but it seems worth brainstorming.

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