Shadowrun General > The Secret History

Blackouts explanation?


Hoi chummers!

I'm currently GMing the 30 Nights campaign and I wonder: is there any official explanation behind the blackout in Toronto (and other cities)? The issue was touched upon in the 'Tourist Trapped' novel, but it didn't give out any hard facts. I hear there might be something in 'The Kechibi Code' but I'm not going to buy the book just to find out that there is nothing there.

I'm ready to create my own explanation, of course, but I really wanted to play 30 Nights 'by the book' and according to the official timeline.

I've not picked up The Kechibi Code yet, so no idea if there is anything there.

However I do have a possible nugget.  In the French version of Cutting Black, there is a discussion between a couple of the posters (equivalent to Jackpoint discussion), that the blackout tool was originally developed to be able to take out Marianne (the very powerful software that started off running the policing of Paris but now coordinates the cyber-democracy that France implemented after the 'Neo-Revolution in ~2079).  I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but IIRC they thought that each mega had been given access to the tool, and that the plan had been they would each hit a city in France so that they were all in on it.  They figured that Marianne had not yet gone rogue AI so it had not be used on France, but that after the UCAS pulled out of the BRA that the corporate court decided to try it out on the UCAS.  That the long running impact was not entirely according to plan was because after all, the tool had never been tested before.

That was all written as speculation, and wasn't directly from Catalyst, so it most certainly is not official.  But it is _an_ explanation (and essentially what I've gone with in my home game).

But now I really want to get the Kechibi Code to find out if there is anything in there. I'm just tired of pdf adventure books and would really like to get my hands on a hard copy, but so far the one store in my city that stocks Shadowrun material hasn't been picking up the 6e adventures (they've found the 6e not moving as well as 5e, and adventure books sell less than core books).

Spoilers for 30 Nights!

One of my criticisms of 30 Nights is that while some cause of the blackouts is hinted at through the backstories of a couple of NPCs and the actions of some of the factions,  the plot never has the PCs getting to the bottom of it, even in its final chapter where they turn on the lights.  Like you, I came up with my own story that I think is canon based on what I could learn from 30 Nights, Cutting Black, and whatever else was out there.  It's entirely corporate-caused, to punish the UCAS for ending corporate extraterritoriality.  The "bombs" if you want to call them that originate in the matrix of the affected cities, affect the power grid, and everything connected to the matrix, knocking them out in a one-time "blast" that was like hitting a kill switch on every modern device.  Something like a matrix-based jammer remains in the power grid host, now inaccessible except through direct connection, that prevents it from being turned back on.

That's my head canon and I think it's pretty close to official canon.  I use that story to explain why some devices could still be found working - they were behind on their driver updates, they're glitchy and never worked right, they were off at the time of the blast, they were custom built without corporate parts, they came from out of town, that sort of thing.  And about halfway through the campaign we say that more and more devices are becoming operational, because some people have found a way to circumvent the problem, or they're getting shipments from out of town, etc, cause it's ok to take away the tech for a little while, but the setting demands that they return so your deckers and riggers have things to do and challenges to face.

@MercilessMing that is my biggest criticism of 30 Nights, too -- that the PC's go through all of that without ever getting any answers.  Like you, I offered up some partial answers in my game.

I also came up with my own explanation of how the blackout works, again similar to yours.  I decided that there is a a safety back-door built into the wireless 2.0 matrix, an emergency kill-switch designed to head off AI take-over.  You know how matrix devices are always hand-shaking with each other and passing information through each other?  The way the kill-switch works is that affected items start screaming the equivalent of "shut-down-shut-down-shut-down-shut-down...." at everything it can reach.  Simpler devices are configured to down when they get that message.  More sophisticated ones follow a voting system, where if enough other devices are telling them to do so, they mostly shut down but also start transmitting that message (but by running silent you can get them to ignore those orders)

For me, the initial explosion was to a) get a lot of initial devices off-line to make the matrix kill more effective, and b) to make people think that the explosion was the cause of the matrix going down (while actually it was delivered at the same time, through a different mechanism).

And hence in the final mission, the key was to get the power grid to stop screaming "shut-down-shut-down-shut-down-shut-down...." at the Toronto matrix, to give a chance for people to get enough devices configured to 'vote' for normal operation to slowly pull the matrix back up (and once you had 'clear' areas then simpler devices could be powered back up and stay up).  All told I figure it took several days to get back to a fully regular matrix, but that some communications were restored quickly.


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