Author Topic: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook  (Read 368 times)

Finstersang

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Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« on: (22:21:54/11-04-17) »
Since there´s an upcoming new Matrix Sourcebook somewhere in the pipeline, I think it´s a good time to open up a thread for some well-mannered (with one notable exemption…) feedback on the current state of the Matrix content. I´m coming mostly from a GM´s perspective here, but I´m also interested in feedback from the players, be they Deckers, Technomancers, AI, Riggers or other characters who interact with the Matrix in any Form. Also, if you or your table prefer to omitt the Matrix content, feel free to tell us (and, hopefully, the freelancers) why you choose to do so and what could make you change your mind.

From my perspective as a GM, I can say the following: I love the idea of the Matrix as an additional playfield and to have Deckers/Technomancers as actual player archetypes at my table. Also, while  fighters, stealthers, faces and mages are more accessible to players accustomed to more traditional RPG settings, there are alyways at least some players at my tables who are more interested in the Matrix Archetypes, because these feel really unique to the setting. However, there are some general problems for me as a GM and for the players interested in the Matrix, and I want to adress them and add a few suggestions on how they can be fixed.

General Rules - Coverage and Consistency: There´s no way to get this perfect from scratch, but at some point – and hopefully, this point will be the new supplement – the numerous calls for rule clarifications need to be addressed. To list a few examples:
  • What kind of Actions (free, simple, complex, extended) are used by whom when slaving a device to another device?
  • So I can share spotted Icons with other Matrix users? What Action do I need for this?
  • What kind of legal methods of user authentification (Passwords, Biometrics etc.) can be employed by kommlinks, decks, devices, hosts – and can I possibly thwart them withouth actual hacking? (See Social Hacking below)
  • When I pick up someone else´s commlink, deck or RCC, can I hack it to hijack their persona? If not, why?
  • Can I employ multiple personas at the same time (f.i. one from an RCC and one from a Deck)? If no, why? If yes, are there any penalties?
  • If I´m hacking a throwback device, do I really have to be visible in the wireless Matrix, and am I risking OS with my actions? If yes, why?
  • If I have spotted the icon of a device in close proximity (100 Meters), do I also know where the device is located?
  • Considering the rule that I can only find one random device with Matrix Perception at a time when looking for hidden devices: Is the „100 RFID-Chips in silent mode“-trick legit or not? Are there ways to apply a kind of filter to the perception test?
  • Sooo, GOD hackers and other Security Hackers are exempt of accumulating OS. But how does the Matrix detect who is a whitehat? Can I thwart that in some way?
  • The age-old question: Is a strong Jammer or other Source of Noise able to disable a commlink, deck, RCC, living persona? If (hopefully) yes, what if there´s a link-lock? (Or, god-forbidd, if the user is on a deep dive?)
These are situations and questions I frequently encounter when GMing, and the books offer no help here. And yes, it may very well be that some of these questions are actually answered somewhere deep down in the depths of colourfull matrix fluff – but in this case, please ask yourself why I couldn´t find these crucial informations right away. Long story short: Please fix the holes in the Matrix first, and if you need to ramp up the page count for the supplement, consider a detailed FAQ. There are enough spectacular forum wars in real life :D

More Technomancy: This is the notable exeption to „well-mannered“ mentioned above. With all due respect: TMs are absolute garbage right now and anyone thinking otherwise deserves to be pelted with Black Ice. Preferrently frozen blackcurrant juice, but food coloring is acceptable, too. Honestly, there´s no excuse for screwing this up, either: There´s a 3-years-old, 35 pages long thread dating back to the first anouncement of the TM splatbook filled with detailed feedback and ideas (and loads of absolutely justified salt) and there´s 4th Editions Unwired with 30+ pages of purest crunch that somehow didn´t make it into Data Trails. And if you think that some new mechanics might turn out too "broken "or that the Fading values are too low, remember that TMs currently have the same priority as an archetype with the ability to summon level 12 firedemons and making people shoot themselfes in the head just by thinking about it *Readjusts Tie*

To end the TM tirade with something positive: The balancing adjustments in Patrick Goodman´s Errata are a huge step in the right direction.

More PC Options: With all the complaints about TMs, it is often overlooked that the general Matrix crunch doesn´t offer much room for variation of playstyles as well. A few ideas that go beyond „just add some programs and call it a day“:
  • More Cyberdeck Modification: Suppose a Hacker always chooses VR over AR or vice versa: Why not give him the opportunity to trade the unused functionality for, lets say, an additional Module Slot? Other candidates would include hacking via direct connections (or even hacking without direct connection!), running silently (Hell yeah! Rambo Mode!) or slaving devices.
  • More Rigger Stuff: I liked Rigger 5, but I was surprised that there was so little content on the Matrix End: No new RCCs and RCC Upgrades and, most notably, no way of aiding Drones when running silently? Saving up for the new Supplement? :P
  • More Prep Stuff: In reality, hacking is a lot of preparation. However, aside from Matrix Searches, SR5 Hackers have surprisingly few things to do in the prep phase of a run. Why not have them probe for Backdoors and other weakpoints like in 4th Edition? Alternatively, they could buy security Intel like leaked Passwords and Zero Day Exploits or hire Botnets and DOS Attacks on the black market. A good money sink for TM´s and a hard choice for Deckers who also need the Nuyen to keep their gear up to date…
More Group Interaction: From my perceptions as a GM, the biggest problem for integrating hackers into the group is not to find ways for them to help the team, but rather to find ways to keep rest of the team engaged when the hackers do their stuff instead of sitting around the table glooming at the player or playing with their smartphones (quite ironic, actually…). There should be way more opportunities – and the fitting rules – for other group members to aid the decker inside and outside the Matrix:   
  • Advanced Matrix Teamwork Rules: This should be top priority IMHO. You can simply make standard teamwork rules apply here, but there would be clarification needed: Who reaps the benefit, who takes the fall when the test fails, who gets OS? Also, there should be ways for all hacker Archetypes (or at least for TMs) to aquire marks for others. Take the tech-savy street sam with you into the host to help speed up matrix searches, mark an enemy drone so your own rigger can jump into it…
  • More Wiretapping fun: In Meatspace, stealthy team members already can plant Data taps to aid the hacker. However, their current use is very narrow: If the tapped device is already wireless-active, they don´t really do anything. So, how about a more advanced version of the data tap (probably requiring a hardware test to install properly) that offer additional bonuses or even the benefits of a direct connection for the team hacker? Make the dangerous act of planting physical hacking aides more rewarding!
  • Social Hacking: In today´s hacking world, this is often considered to be equally, if not more effective than the codeslinging part. After all, the biggest security flaw tends to be the users. In reality, the face and the hacker would have tremendous synergy. In current SR5, not so much. For a better integration of Social Hacking, we need more detailed information on the „official“ means of matrix authentification, corporate security guidelines and probably rules/guidelines for the social tests involved. I´m pretty surprised that this wasn´t already covered in Cutting Aces
  • Deep Dives/UV hosts: These rules are obviously designed to integrate the whole group. However, I´ve yet to hear from a group to actually integrate these rules :P I actually like the idea, but it should be more fleshed out. What is the foundation? The subconscious of the Matrix? Why is it needed? As a backup system? Also, what kind of special Abilities can Technomancers employ in the foundation? What happens to deep divers when forcefully disconnected from the Matrix?
  • Quick Hacks: Sometimes, the pacing at the table just doesn´t fit for a detailed Matrix segment. In these cases, rules for quick Hacks would be terrific. There´s already a recent thread (http://forums.shadowruntabletop.com/index.php?topic=26776.0) on this.
More GM Options: After all, GMs need some Crunch too! For me, this mostly covers Hosts and IC, since I can always adapt PC options für NPCs. Some thoughts:
  • Local Hosts: If I were a corporate security counselor, I would be horrified when someone told me that the security host of the facility will be always be accessible without any noise all over the globe. That seems extremely counterintuitive to me – and also discourages hackers to go up front with the facility in question, which was a prime goal of the SR5 Matrix redesign. Local hosts with a physical location would close the gap. Just one step further would be Internal hosts that serve as pure offline data vaults. Rules would be needed for the handling of OS, foundations etc.
  • Hidden Hosts: I mean, hosts have a Stealth attribute for a reason, right? Yet, no rules for Hosts running silently so far…
  • Nested Hosts: To up the ante for Datastealers: Why not have Hosts inside Hosts? Rulez pls!
  • Illegal Hosts: Hackers and Matrix Pirates will probably have their own Matrix hideouts by now – and they will most likely not work the same way as legal corporate hosts when in comes to GOD´s surveillance, iconography rules etc. Maybe some of them can change their address and "move" around the Matrix, f.i.
  • More IC: My biggest greviance with current IC is the fact that it´s so often a big hazzle for a pretty anticlimactic outcome. When „my“ hackers gets caught up with IC, they often log out as soon as the matrix battle starts – and I am actually glad they do, because battles take time and bore out players not involved (a.k.a. the rest of the group). And if they botch the test to Mark the Host from outside, it´s just logout and retry until it finally works. Ugh. What I propose is IC that also works against attackers outside of the host and a return of passive IC. The current IC is all active IC: It has Initiative, a Condition Monitor and actively attacks players, forcing me as the GM into bookkeeping and dice battles. Also, it doesn´t do anything until after the hacker has already screwn up. Passive IC (The concept existed way back in SR3) would close this gap. Effects could include dishing out additional damage, Biofeedback, Marks and Link-Locks for screwing up tests, automated incremental GPS tracking, accelerated OS or spider traps that slow down intruders by slowing down Matrix searches...

Phew. Lot of stuff. And tbh, I´m not even finished :D

For some suggestions and keywords flying around my wonderfull wall of text, I already have some homebrew rules flying around. I will post them in different threads and link to them here in the near future.

Glad you stayed with me until now  ;D
What are your thoughts?

PS: It doesn´t have to be as eleborate as my initial post  ;)
« Last Edit: (09:29:24/12-06-17) by Finstersang »
But at least we got fearies n' shit... *cough*

Finstersang

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #1 on: (19:34:45/11-27-17) »
*Tumbleweeds rolling*

Wow, what a great audience...
But I guess that might have to do with these gawdawfull forum outages. Maybe there are already actual Technomancers out there who feel misrepresented by SR5?  :P

Anyways, regarding "More Stuff for GMs": I was pretty surprised that there is some actually usable Matrix Content in Dark Terrors. I really like the idea of the Matrix having some live and will on its own. The idea of "The Dox" is especially intriguing. Also, return of TM Paragons confirmed? Nice :D However, I still gotta say that the additional Matrix Stuff in Dark Terrors (just like the Feral AIs and the Technocritters in the Critter Compendium) is somewhat putting the horse before the cart. Before these ideas will see actual play, the Matrix Basics will have to get more engaging - and not just for the Hackers, but for all Archetypes.

 But still, very intriguing stuff...
« Last Edit: (05:14:02/11-29-17) by Finstersang »
But at least we got fearies n' shit... *cough*

Spooky

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #2 on: (15:08:38/11-28-17) »
Hard to comment when I can't find the board....

or I'm at work. (I know, stop using those four letter words...)
Spooky, what do you do this pass? Shoot him with my thunderstruck gauss rifle. (Rolls)  8 hits. Does that blow his head off?

Beta-Max

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #3 on: (13:19:48/11-29-17) »
Also the boards were down for a while, and there was a long holiday weekend. So how about you chill.

Prime Mover

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #4 on: (14:14:14/11-29-17) »
Be nice to get psychotropic IC back.
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Finstersang

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #5 on: (14:48:41/11-29-17) »
Also the boards were down for a while, and there was a long holiday weekend. So how about you chill.

Erm, yeah, I am aware of that. I‘m just trying to bump my unfortunately timed original post a bit. Should have made that clearer  ;)
But at least we got fearies n' shit... *cough*

Beta-Max

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #6 on: (09:30:27/11-30-17) »
I think you've got a great spread, personally I'd like to see reprinted errata'ed material with the new fading values and adjustments. I also want to see PAGES of examples for clarifications.

Finstersang

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #7 on: (12:13:46/12-03-17) »
  • What kind of legal methods of user authentification (Passwords, Biometrics etc.) can be employed by kommlinks, decks, devices, hosts – and can I possibly thwart them withouth actual hacking? (See Social Hacking below)
  • When I pick up someone else´s commlink, deck or RCC, can I hack it to hijack their persona? If not, why?
  • Can I employ multiple personas at the same time (f.i. one from an RCC and one from a Deck)? If no, why? If yes, are there any penalties?

These points seem particulary arcane at the moment, and I´m starting to realize why: The distinctions and relationships between Personas and Persona-running devices, Owners and ownership rights and the actual, meatspace Matrix user are extremely blurry right now.

As far as I understood, my persona is my unique and universal account registered in the Matrix. Thus, when switching from commlink to  deck, I´m using the same persona, but on another device. But I might already be wrong here: It could very well be that I´m having another persona for each device - why would I need a burn commlink if I´d still have the same persona when using it? Either way: What would prohibit me from having access to multiple personas at the same time? (I´m not talking about simultanous control here - the other personas could just "stand there" as empty sockpuppets, ready for me switching controls - which would be ). Even if there can be only one instance of my persona inside the Matrix, why shouldn´t I be able to register another one in the Matrix?
   
That´s already quite blurry, but then the ownership rights come into play. So, riddle me this: Can a device run only the persona of its owner, or are there "guest accounts"? Am I the owner of my persona(s) or am I only "exerting" my ownership rights through my persona(s)? Can somebody else "hijack" my persona by grabbing my commlink and logging in with my persona and act as the legal owner of my devices and icons?

At this point, it all boils down to the (legal) methods of authentification employed. Marks grant me/my persona (?) only certain privileges. However, what kind of authentification grants me the right to, well, be me? Biometrics (Fingerprints, Eyescanns, DNA, Voice, fragging stool samples), the Big Fat Master Password, physical keys - everything can be manipulated in the end. Even if we go with the "It´s a password sooooo complicated that it´s absolutely unhackable" BS, I could still torture/con/mindprobe/etc it out of the original owner.

This is a very big issue IMO, because this is somethig that happens so often at my tables:
"I got his commlink, can I open his files?"
"I got her Deck, can I use it to pose as her when breaking into the Host?"
"I got his RCC, can I control his drones now?"
Hell, even "My commlink got bricked, can I use yours?" is in muddy waters!
« Last Edit: (13:45:25/12-03-17) by Finstersang »
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Sphinx

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #8 on: (19:07:03/12-03-17) »
Most players get their idea of what a hacker is, and what a hacker should be able to do, from movies (Hackers, Swordfish, Blackhat, Mission Impossible) and TV shows (Leverage, Person of Interest, NCIS, Macgyver) and books (Ready Player One, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). A good subject for a sidebar (or series of sidebars) would be to identify some of the things that hackers often do "on the trid" and sort them into things that work in the "real" Matrix (and explain how to do them within the rules), and things that don't (and explain why not). Eavesdrop on phone calls, intercept phone calls, track people with their commlinks, track vehicles, back-track devices to see where they've been, fool security cameras, disable alarms, open locks, control elevators, view criminal records, alter records, create false identities, view recent purchases, empty bank accounts, find people with facial recognition software, follow people on cameras ...


brasso

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #9 on: (19:44:22/12-03-17) »
I think your questions probably echo the sentiment of alot of SR5 players and GMs. I'll try to address them as best I can.

What kind of Actions (free, simple, complex, extended) are used by whom when slaving a device to another device?

Personally, I'd say simple or free, but I've never known it to happen in combat, so it's never been an issue at our table

So I can share spotted Icons with other Matrix users? What Action do I need for this?

You can add an ARO to a matrix icon and share it with who you like, I'm guessing this is simple, but not looked it up

What kind of legal methods of user authentification (Passwords, Biometrics etc.) can be employed by kommlinks, decks, devices, hosts – and can I possibly thwart them withouth actual hacking? (See Social Hacking below)

This part of the rules seems to have been left vague deliberately as who can guess what this is going to be like by 2075? My assumption is that it's still one of the 3 authentication factors (something you know, something you have, something you are) or a combination

When I pick up someone else´s commlink, deck or RCC, can I hack it to hijack their persona? If not, why?

That's a really good question. I guess the answer would have to be yes, but likely only for a short time. Apart from impersonating them, I'm not sure what else you'd want to achieve by hijacking their persona.

Can I employ multiple personas at the same time (f.i. one from an RCC and one from a Deck)? If no, why? If yes, are there any penalties?

This is quite hotly debated. I personally do allow this. This is my personal take on the subject:
http://deckersdemise.com/articles/owners-and-personas.aspx

If I´m hacking a throwback device, do I really have to be visible in the wireless Matrix, and am I risking OS with my actions? If yes, why?

If by throwback you mean wireless off, then I'd guess no to both questions

If I have spotted the icon of a device in close proximity (100 Meters), do I also know where the device is located?

Yes in AR, as you can "see" it, in VR you'd beed trace icon

Considering the rule that I can only find one random device with Matrix Perception at a time when looking for hidden devices: Is the „100 RFID-Chips in silent mode“-trick legit or not? Are there ways to apply a kind of filter to the perception test?

This is kind of a nasty rules hack, but yeah I guess it does work. I'd allow a decker to buy hits to sort through them, but it would take a while. I might impose some sort of noise penalty on a decker trying this trick.

Sooo, GOD hackers and other Security Hackers are exempt of accumulating OS. But how does the Matrix detect who is a whitehat? Can I thwart that in some way?

Not covered by the rules at all, hand-waived. Probably covered under the same remit as ownership.

The age-old question: Is a strong Jammer or other Source of Noise able to disable a commlink, deck, RCC, living persona? If (hopfully) yes, what if there´s a link-lock?

Yes, it can disable if the noise is >= the rating. I'd guess the link-lock would end, and the user would suffer dumpshock.

Hope this helps, and I hope I haven't got too much wrong!
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brasso

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #10 on: (19:58:09/12-03-17) »
I don't want to get flamed too badly, but we have a new TM PC in our campaign, and he's fine so far. I know puppeteer has some nasty hacks available, but so far not too broken!

As for the new options you suggest - I say go for it! Just house rule whatever you want to try out and adjust the rules as you go with the cooperation of your table.

Re matrix teamwork tests, I'd say the leader gains/ loses all consequences and the others are simply assisting. Also, although Share Mark isn't explicitly stated as a matrix action, it would be necessary I think. So I have no issues in our game with deckers sharing marks with riggers, for example.

Re missing out the first 2 phases of hacking (recon, scanning) I'd say firstly you can carry out matrix perception tests and get the target's matrix attributes (ASDF), and rating. If it's public you could also go in and have a look around as well. Could possibly do matrix searches to see what the host is like. Beyond that I'd say that matrix action needs to be quick, and not to bog down the rest of the action.

« Last Edit: (20:05:54/12-03-17) by brasso »
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Checkmate

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #11 on: (20:06:40/12-03-17) »
@Brasso He's not looking for answers to his questions (From us, anyways.) His posts are recommended clarifications of unclear rules from the source books that could/should be clarified or expanded upon as well as mechanics that should be expanded or redone in the upcoming matrix expansion book.

brasso

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #12 on: (20:10:48/12-03-17) »
Re Social Hacking, not sure if you mean social engineering (sweet talking someone into revealing sensitive info), or maybe using their social networking posts to elicit info? I guess either way (but different roll), it would probably help gain info to guess their password? Maybe teamwork it with the decker's hacking roll?
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brasso

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #13 on: (20:18:41/12-03-17) »
@Checkmate, only just seen your post :)

Yeah I guess you're right, but some of this is kind of covered, or could be covered by existing rules. Just looking to get some conversation going around it really. I'd also like to see some detail around some aspects of the matrix, maybe rules for writing software, maybe an expansion on the AI DT rules. But I'd say some of this is really a miscommunication by the writers of what they intended, rather than rules clarifications.
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Finstersang

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Re: Matrix Feedback for the new Sourcebook
« Reply #14 on: (20:58:10/12-03-17) »
When I pick up someone else´s commlink, deck or RCC, can I hack it to hijack their persona? If not, why?

That's a really good question. I guess the answer would have to be yes, but likely only for a short time. Apart from impersonating them, I'm not sure what else you'd want to achieve by hijacking their persona.

I can think of a lot of situations where you´d be tempted to hijack/borrow another persona. Not only can you mimic another matrix user, you can also (possibly, this is yet again quite murky...) mimic ownership rights, digital subscriptions etc. This could be really powerfull, since you can achieve a lot of stuff without even accumulating OS.

Regarding the "only for a short time": It´s obvious that persona hijacking, if possible, should be limited in some way, but I´m trying to rationalize why and how. But then I remembered that the new Matrix already seems to have some kind of intelligence on its own - more like a slumbering Neural Network (Otherland, anyone? :P) than just a set of fixed protocols. It´s also hinted that the Matrix is constantly accumulating and analysing user Data and possibly even brain waves of Sim Users.

This could be the perfect rationalization for a time limit for persona hijackers: Maybe the all-new, scary-as-hell Matrix just knows, by comparing little quirks and preferences in online activity, that something is "off" about a persona that is controlled by an unauthorized user. Rules-wise, this could mean that you slowly start to accumulate OS when doing stuff with a "burrowed" persona, even when you technically don´t do anything illegal with it. Using DNI or VR would make the process even faster, since the Matrix could also compare your "brain data" with the patterns of the original matrix user. Hell, if you think about what present-day Neural Networks can already accomplish, this sounds scarily reasonable  ???

Can I employ multiple personas at the same time (f.i. one from an RCC and one from a Deck)? If no, why? If yes, are there any penalties?

This is quite hotly debated. I personally do allow this. This is my personal take on the subject:
http://deckersdemise.com/articles/owners-and-personas.aspx

Thanks for the link, something like that is exactly what the official rules need IMO. It even has useful illustrations  ;D
« Last Edit: (08:59:27/12-04-17) by Finstersang »
But at least we got fearies n' shit... *cough*