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Commlinks and Personas

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MercilessMing

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« on: <05-24-22/1035:30> »
I'm just getting around to asking about FAQ items related to the Matrix.

#1: Please explain how this, from the 6E FAQ, works.  As a GM I need to know why, and it makes no sense to me:
Quote from: 6WE FAQ
If you use someone else’s commlink, either with or without permission, you still get your persona rather than theirs.
Why does this happen?  It seems like it has enormous ramifications for identification in the sixth world.  How is it I can borrow my friend's commlink, which is broadcasting their SIN, and somehow my use of it makes their persona turn into my persona?

#2: The FAQ on Matrix perception suggests the intended way to use it is to deal with icons in your line of sight, rather than a "radar" perfectly comfortable with seeing through walls.
Quote from: 6WE FAQ
First, while you can “see” Matrix signals through walls and at some distance, it is presumed you filter out any AROs coming from devices you’re not currently looking at. There are thousands, if not millions, of devices around when you’re in a big city!
My reading of this is that there is one and only one filter, and you're either looking at icons in your line of sight, or flood your vision with every device in the city. Or in other words, there are no useful filters, there's just a stick to thwack you into the LOS model of perception while paying lip service to previous editions' radar sense.  Have I got that about right?  I may sound salty, but the LOS model is far far easier for storytelling purposes.

#3: Visibility of devices in Hosts.  Two items in the FAQ roll back my understanding of how devices in Hosts can be interacted with:
Quote from: 6WE FAQ
Hosts provide Matrix “spaces” that have no correlation with the physical world. Any personas, devices, files, IC, or other icons inside the host cannot be perceived from outside the host, unless the owners of that host explicitly want them to be seen.
Quote from: 6WE FAQ
For shadowrunners, the primary benefit of establishing their own direct connection to a hostile device is they can automatically target the device for Matrix Actions, regardless of whether it is . . . hidden inside a host the hacker’s persona has not entered.
This seems to contradict my previous understanding of devices in Hosts and nested Hosts.  It's not enough to do a matrix perception check for hidden devices and beat the Host's Sleaze + WILL to spot cameras that are protected by that Host.  The best you can do is spot the Host.  The cameras are forever inaccessible without first getting inside the Host or directly connecting to the camera.  Same is true for personas, so are a security team's devices immune to hacking as long as they're in a Host and the hacker isn't?
This whole Host immunity thing, combined with the idea that most everything in the world of devices is protected by some kind of network, really changes my understanding of the matrix in 6e.

The FAQ also seems to reduce the security benefits of nested Hosts.  It used to be that devices needed to be put in nested Hosts to gain 'invisibility' to matrix perception from the outside, but now that level of security is afforded to any device in a Host.  However, Hosts no longer have a strong incentive to have high Sleaze, because defense from perception is now automatic for everything "inside" a Host.  Nested hosts may have even less incentive, since things inside them are protected even from users inside their mother host, and their sleaze doesn't seem to matter when it comes to hiding their own existence since Perception against the mother host reveals the entire network.

I guess my question on that last one is "Have I got this right?"
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1039:31> by MercilessMing »

Xenon

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« Reply #1 on: <05-24-22/1200:13> »
In the FAQ page, the quick-link for the following entries are broken:
"Can I spend Edge once per test or once per action?"
"Can I convert 4 Minor Actions into a Major Action before my turn begins?"
"What counts as “Edge abuse” that rises to the level of being stopped by the “preventing Edge abuse” rule?"
"How do hosts, spiders, and IC use Edge?"



How is it I can borrow my friend's commlink, which is broadcasting their SIN, and somehow my use of it makes their persona turn into my persona?
While your friend is accessing the matrix they use their own matrix persona (their own global internet user) and they broadcast their own SIN. Doesn't matter which commlink they use when they access the matrix. Or if they access the matrix via a cyberdeck instead of a commlink. They still use their own matrix persona and they still broadcast the their own SIN.

It is a little bit similar to when I logon to my kids gaming computer I will log on to my own steam account and I will broadcast my own steam achievements. My steam account and my steam achievements belong to me, not to whatever device I use to access the internet with (I am aware of that the analogy have flaws, but for the purpose of the point I am trying to make I think it kinda works).


I may sound salty, but the LOS model is far far easier for storytelling purposes.
I think perhaps the intent is here that you can still see and interact with specific devices that you (or someone in your team) were already (somehow) made aware of, even if you currently happen to have a broken line of sight to them.

Otherwise you can't remote control your car if it happen to be parked around the corner. And you can't spoof a command to a vending machine in the lobby unless you take the elevator down to the lobby. And you would be prevented from sending a message to the rigger that is lurking in the van.



This seems to contradict my previous understanding of devices in Hosts and nested Hosts.  It's not enough to do a matrix perception check for hidden devices and beat the Host's Sleaze + WILL to spot cameras that are protected by that Host.  The best you can do is spot the Host.  The cameras are forever inaccessible without first getting inside the Host or directly connecting to the camera. 
In SR5 all devices existed out on a Grid. Never inside a Host. Devices out on a Grid that was slaved to a Host was still located out on the Grids, just that if you happen to be inside the host it was slaved to you would be considered directly connected to the device out on the Grid. Kinda like having a direct window to the device out on the Grid. No matter where in the world it is physically located. This was an exception to the rule that you were normally not allowed to interact with icons outside the Host if you were inside a Host.

In SR6 it seems that devices instead are either facing the matrix (such as all stand-alone devices that are not part of a network, all devices that are part of a PAN and all devices in a Host that have deliberately been put on the matrix facing side of the host horizon) or hidden inside a host (all devices in a host that have deliberately been put on the inside side of the host horizon). If they are matrix facing then you can data spike them or spoof commands to them directly. If they are hidden inside the host then you first need to establish a direct connection to them before you data spike them or spoof commands to them. Once you already spend enough time and effort to gain user or admin access on the network the device belong to then it doesn't really matter if it was matrix facing or not. Since you have enough access you can just remote control the device directly no matter.


Same is true for personas, so are a security team's devices immune to hacking as long as they're in a Host and the hacker isn't?
This was also an issue in previous edition if a person was accessing the matrix via a commlink or cyberdeck (and thus the device icon was subsumed into a persona icon) and then the persona entered a host.

I always thought it would have made more sense that if when the persona entered a Host then their device's device icon would again temporarily appear out on the Grid (and become able to be targeted) until the persona exited the Host.

Not sure how this is intended to be resolved in SR6, but I rule this as each member of a security team get a PAN of their own (or that their PANs are combined with / slaved to the security team's technology specialist's PAN).


It used to be that devices needed to be put in nested Hosts to gain 'invisibility' to matrix perception from the outside, but now that level of security is afforded to any device in a Host.
Not sure I follow here. No matter if a hacker breach the outer onion layer of a host network or not they will still not be able to interact with devices hidden deeper into the host network hierarchy. Are you saying that the FAQ changed this somehow...?


Perception against the mother host reveals the entire network.
Perhaps the intention here is that while you can typically see the entire host network architecture from the outside without performing some sort of dungeon crawl to discover each node one by one you might still fail to see specific nodes that are running silent (depending on how good you are at matrix perception and what the sleaze rating of that specific network was set to).
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1215:21> by Xenon »

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #2 on: <05-24-22/1259:42> »
In the FAQ page, the quick-link for the following entries are broken:
"Can I spend Edge once per test or once per action?"
"Can I convert 4 Minor Actions into a Major Action before my turn begins?"
"What counts as “Edge abuse” that rises to the level of being stopped by the “preventing Edge abuse” rule?"
"How do hosts, spiders, and IC use Edge?"

Yep.  Noted, and thank you!


Quote
How is it I can borrow my friend's commlink, which is broadcasting their SIN, and somehow my use of it makes their persona turn into my persona?
While your friend is accessing the matrix they use their own matrix persona (their own global internet user) and they broadcast their own SIN. Doesn't matter which commlink they use when they access the matrix. Or if they access the matrix via a cyberdeck instead of a commlink. They still use their own matrix persona and they still broadcast the their own SIN.

It is a little bit similar to when I logon to my kids gaming computer I will log on to my own steam account and I will broadcast my own steam achievements. My steam account and my steam achievements belong to me, not to whatever device I use to access the internet with (I am aware of that the analogy have flaws, but for the purpose of the point I am trying to make I think it kinda works).

That is indeed the ballpark I also envision.  Your persona is your online identity.  It's a gestalt of all your email addresses, all your telephone numbers, all your forum logins, all your game logins, your browsing history, your matrix user setting preferences, and all kinds of other things.  Most important to the reason why noone can use anyone else's persona is it is also keyed to your unique biometrics (your brainwaves, in this case).   That's all technobabble, however.  What's important is the meta, game balance concern:  you can't change your identity.  Not to dodge your overwatch score, not to escape having access hacked into your PAN, not to avoid being recognized for what you did prior.  Not for any reason whatsoever.  You're always you in the matrix, no matter what your icon might happen to look like.  Ergo, you cannot assume someone else's identity, either.  You're always you.

Also bear in mind that your SIN (fake or otherwise) and your persona are two completely different things that in a rules point of view have no overlap.  Also note that SINs aren't paired to a commlink.  Nor are they a signal that's broadcast for anyone to just read at will (think of the potential identity theft...).

Those two things in combination also mean that you can't just steal some schmuck's commlink and drain their bank accounts.

Quote
I may sound salty, but the LOS model is far far easier for storytelling purposes.
I think perhaps the intent is here that you can still see and interact with specific devices that you (or someone in your team) were already (somehow) made aware of, even if you currently happen to have a broken line of sight to them.

Otherwise you can't remote control your car if it happen to be parked around the corner. And you can't spoof a command to a vending machine in the lobby unless you take the elevator down to the lobby. And you would be prevented from sending a message to the rigger that is lurking in the van.

Exactly.  The intent is "basically" LOS, but something just being around the corner or on the other side of a wall doesn't prohibit hacking it.

Also bear in mind that the Matrix is indeed global, so if you know what you're looking for you can still "spot" that device anywhere in the word, but remember to factor in distance based Noise.  So if you can potentially see a device anywhere in the world, what stops you from seeing EVERYTHING anywhere in the world?  A really good in-universe rationale would be the existence of a preference filter to suppress the AROS for anything you don't currently care about.  If you DO start caring about a given device or devices, you update your filter during the course of trying to pinpoint their matrix signals among all the other matrix signals clogging the Sixth World airwaves. That'd be considered as part of the Matrix Perception in terms of action economy.


Quote
This seems to contradict my previous understanding of devices in Hosts and nested Hosts.  It's not enough to do a matrix perception check for hidden devices and beat the Host's Sleaze + WILL to spot cameras that are protected by that Host.  The best you can do is spot the Host.  The cameras are forever inaccessible without first getting inside the Host or directly connecting to the camera. 

If that's the way the owner of the host wants it, then yes.  Note that many devices, particularly those that are intended to be operated by the public, will not be hidden inside the host.  But yes, devices that the host's operator thinks outsiders have absolutely no plausible business interacting with (security cameras, gun turrets, motion detectors, etc) will often be inside the host and therefore untouchable by hackers until they gain access to that host, or achieve a direct connection.
 


Quote
Same is true for personas, so are a security team's devices immune to hacking as long as they're in a Host and the hacker isn't?
This was also an issue in previous edition if a person was accessing the matrix via a commlink or cyberdeck (and thus the device icon was subsumed into a persona icon) and then the persona entered a host.

I always thought it would have made more sense that if when the persona entered a Host then their device's device icon would again temporarily appear out on the Grid (and become able to be targeted) until the persona exited the Host.

Not sure how this is intended to be resolved in SR6, but I rule this as each member of a security team get a PAN of their own (or that their PANs are combined with / slaved to the security team's technology specialist's PAN).

It's potentially true that a security guard could "hide" inside a host, and it's almost assuredly the more mechanically advantageous route than operating their PAN off a commlink.  However there are several reasons why they might not do so:
1) maybe they're not allowed to. The more people who have access to a secure host is the more potential ways the host can be exploited.  The guard's logged into the security host? Great.  Guess what.  You just gave shadowrunners a head they can press their guns to and force the guard to do stuff in that security host with LEGIT user access, no hacking needed!
2) if you're inside the host, you can't see outside the host.  Guards might notice shadowrunners via matrix perception rolls rather than physical perception rolls, but only if they're not inside the host.
3) you can have the guard(s) be protected by the host without their PANs disappearing inside it, just as you can with maglocks or anything else for that matter.


Quote
Perception against the mother host reveals the entire network.
Perhaps the intention here is that while you can typically see the entire host network architecture from the outside without performing some sort of dungeon crawl to discover each node one by one you might still fail to see specific nodes that are running silent (depending on how good you are at matrix perception and what the sleaze rating of that specific network was set to).

Exactly.  You can get a "map" of the entire architecture before you go in, so you don't have to waste time and OS during your hack exploring your way through.
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1317:39> by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

MercilessMing

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« Reply #3 on: <05-24-22/1405:20> »
It is boggling my mind right now that the perfect ID exists and yet isn't being exploited by the authoritarian corporate dystopia.  The Matrix knows who you are, just by picking up a commlink it connects you to the "real" you regardless of circumstance or fake SIN or disguise or voice modulation or retinal duplication.  I get the meta reasons, but the explanation is hot garbage that amounts to "it just works".  Hopefully in SR7, matrix can be revamped again in a way that doesn't rely on handwavium

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #4 on: <05-24-22/1417:37> »
Honestly it's more of a "you can't impersonate anyone because that would result in "there's so many ways to bypass the entire hacking system that it can't be allowed" situation.

If you (or your GM) really want to make it so that you can log into your friend's persona, or steal a stranger's commlink and authorize a couple million nuyen's worth of money to your own anonymous bank account and/or expensive purchases on their dime to be delivered to your safehouse... it's your game and you can do what you want!

Need an explanation for why you can hack yourself user access but you can't just steal a legit employee's commlink and impersonate them with their credentials?  Come up with whatever makes sense rather than the technobabble I suggested. Hell, ever since 5e the matrix has actually been more or less powered by magic.  The corps may not simply understand, or be ABLE to translate the same identification technique that pairs minds to personas to security protocols for their hosts.

You might even allow such a stratagem as stealing a legit user's credentials to give  bonus Edge on your hacking.  But, potentially bypassing the entire hacking rules mechanic?  Obviously that's very House Rules-y, and outside what the FAQ is designed to cover.
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1421:44> by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

FastJack

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« Reply #5 on: <05-24-22/1536:08> »
For once, I'm kinda with Ming on this one. How exactly is the commlink identifying you? Do they all have a DNA/Retina/Face scan that logs into your persona? I mean, if I pick up my friend's cell phone, the only thing preventing me from using it is their passkey on the phone. I get the rules reasons, since every hack then turns into a wageslave mugging, but Ming's right, if everytime you access from anywhere, it's your persona, GOD should be watching all the doors for you to log in.

MercilessMing

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« Reply #6 on: <05-24-22/1555:16> »
For once, I'm kinda with Ming on this one.
For once?  I guess you keep your disagreements to yourself a lot then  ;)

Hobbes

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« Reply #7 on: <05-24-22/1556:31> »
How exactly is the commlink identifying you?

Purely by the force of necessary game meta-mechanics.  Which is a crappy answer, but it is *why*. 

How?  However the GM/Table would like to hand-waive, essentially.

As SSDR says above, if your table is good with identity theft by palming a commlink, than go for it.  Please do what makes sense and is fun at your table.
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1558:34> by Hobbes »

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #8 on: <05-24-22/1611:05> »
So, a few things.

For once, I'm kinda with Ming on this one. How exactly is the commlink identifying you? Do they all have a DNA/Retina/Face scan that logs into your persona?

It's not the commlink that's identifying you.  The commlink doesn't care who you are. Nor can it tell the difference between legit and hacked access.  This is also true for hosts-they don't recognize the difference between access that came legitimately and access that was hacked.  It's the Matrix that recognizes you and pairs you with "You", aka your Persona.

There are no rules whatsoever for hacking access to a persona.  A persona isn't tied to a device or a host.  If you lose your commlink and borrow your chummer's, you still get your persona when you log in to the matrix.  If you hand back your chummer's commlink and buy a disposable meta-link from a vending machine, as soon as you connect to the matrix you get your persona again.  You cannot "delete" your persona and start a new one.  Or, perhaps, a better way to look at it is you actually CAN, but your new persona is functionally identical to every other persona you've ever used, so the distinction is meaningless.

Quote
...if everytime you access from anywhere, it's your persona, GOD should be watching all the doors for you to log in.

They are.

A host is ultimately no better than a commlink when it comes to telling a successful hacker from a legitimate user, but GOD can always tell the difference.  The Overwatch Score mechanic is universal and absolute.  There may be some Resonance-based mitigation tricks, but OS is all knowing and never wrong.  GOD always can see signs of when you're doing BS on the matrix.  It just takes them until convergence to put the picture together.

If GOD sees everything, why don't they shut down hosts that cater to illegal activities?  Because they simply don't care about THAT kind of illegality.  Bunraku parlor hosts and spiders can engage in sexual trafficking but so long as they don't hack anyone, they're as clean as the driven snow in GOD's eyes.  And GOD is absolutely going to come down just as hard on hooders hacking the bunraku parlor host as they do vandals bringing down the local stuffer shack.
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1616:28> by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Odsh

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« Reply #9 on: <05-24-22/1618:30> »
Honestly it's more of a "you can't impersonate anyone because that would result in "there's so many ways to bypass the entire hacking system that it can't be allowed" situation.

What exactly are those ways to bypass the entire hacking system?

Two come to my mind:
- split overwatch score over multiple commlinks
- circumvent the drone limit for riggers

Anything else?

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #10 on: <05-24-22/1629:31> »
Honestly it's more of a "you can't impersonate anyone because that would result in "there's so many ways to bypass the entire hacking system that it can't be allowed" situation.

What exactly are those ways to bypass the entire hacking system?

Two come to my mind:
- split overwatch score over multiple commlinks
- circumvent the drone limit for riggers

Anything else?

Dumping OS without rebooting.
Dumping someone's hacked access into your PAN without rebooting.
Impersonating someone specific WITHOUT hacking the records/observer to make it appear they did whatever you're framing them for.
Stealing funds/resources without hacking the relevant hosts.
it's not hacking per se, but you can't just wipe out a bad matrix-based reputation by "starting over" as a new matrix user.  You did what you did, and anyone who knows always knows.
And so on.

« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1646:11> by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #11 on: <05-24-22/1630:59> »
Actually, FJ:  Can we put everything from here onwards into a new thread?  It's not about the FAQ anymore.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

FastJack

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« Reply #12 on: <05-24-22/1722:19> »
Actually, FJ:  Can we put everything from here onwards into a new thread?  It's not about the FAQ anymore.
Done.

The reason I get with Ming on this is because I wonder HOW does the matrix identify you? Like Ming stated, no matter what disguises, voice modulators, false fingerprints, etc., the commlink will "know" as soon as it's picked up who you are and connect you with your online presence? And, if so, why don't all items hooked into the Matrix (electronic door locks, intercoms, etc.) also recognizing your persona? Like I said, I get the rules reasons, but it just seems wild to me.

Dreamwalker

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« Reply #13 on: <05-24-22/1723:52> »
It's the Matrix that recognizes you and pairs you with "You", aka your Persona.
Indeed, it would appear the authentication takes place between the user and the matrix (like accessing a roaming user profile nowadays). But for the purpose of authentication its "user" as in person, not persona. There is a fine distinction between a person and a digital identity, i.e., a persona. The link between the two can only be established after authentication commenced successfully.

However, the question remains if that authentication mechanism cannot be fooled. If that is so, the existence of an undeniable, unforgeable unique digital identity for every user immediately follows. And I would assume, it would render fake identities infeasible, if the powers that be and who constructed the matrix had access to this mechanism.
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1730:44> by Dreamwalker »

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #14 on: <05-24-22/1736:12> »
Actually, FJ:  Can we put everything from here onwards into a new thread?  It's not about the FAQ anymore.
Done.

Many thanks!

Quote
The reason I get with Ming on this is because I wonder HOW does the matrix identify you? Like Ming stated, no matter what disguises, voice modulators, false fingerprints, etc., the commlink will "know" as soon as it's picked up who you are and connect you with your online presence? And, if so, why don't all items hooked into the Matrix (electronic door locks, intercoms, etc.) also recognizing your persona? Like I said, I get the rules reasons, but it just seems wild to me.

The lore given in 5e is that brainwaves is one, but not necessarily the only, metric by which the matrix pairs you with your persona.  It literally, and IMO plausibly, could have a metaphysical/Resonance-linked component to this perfect and un-impersonatable identification feature. (edit: note that conjecture is completely personal and not official)
Again, the mechanics of Overwatch Score support this.  Why do hacking activities generate OS even when successful?  Because something somehow knows what you're doing isn't legit, even when you're otherwise successful at making it appear to be legit.

... if the powers that be and who constructed the matrix had access to this mechanism.

That's the rub.  The Matrix is not completely understood, in-universe.  It's a genie that the corps don't fully control.
« Last Edit: <05-24-22/1746:58> by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.