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[SR6] Sanity check: Hacking scenarios

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ZeroSum

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« on: <10-11-19/0818:30> »
I've run through a couple of sample hacks in my spare time, but I wanted to make sure that I'm not making any obvious mistakes. I'd like to run a few scenarios by you as a form of sanity check; I'll do them one at a time so we can discuss anything that comes up separately.

For simplicity, I am assuming that I am successful on each test; while this is unlikely in-game, it's just easier when going through the motions.

Assumption 1: Running Silent has no associated action, so I'm assuming that you simply declare that you are running silent and as long as you are not actively being watched you are now hidden. This would be similar to how Stealth is treated in the physical world.

Assumption 2: The Probe action states that it is an Extended test, and I am assuming that a hacker could continue rolling with the cumulative -1 dice pool penalty for each test to gain more hits as long as he does not glitch or critically glitch. Additionally, in instances where Backdoor Entry is used I am assuming that a successful Probe has already been performed.

Assumption 3: Most hackers are likely to be using hot-sim VR as this gives you 1 Major action and 4 Minor actions per turn (potential for 2 Major actions per turn).

Scenario 1 - Simple Datasteal: Hack a device, find an encrypted file using a known hash, copy it, and then delete it
In this case we are going to go in quietly to avoid detection and accrue as little OS as possible.
Turn 1:
Major Action - Backdoor Entry
Major Action - Hash Check

Results: Legal admin access obtained through using Backdoor Entry, which means no +3 Overwatch per turn. Target file found without having to decrypt every encrypted file on the device.

OS: +X, as 2 Illegal Matrix Actions were taken each defensive hit would increase OS. If either action was modified by a Hacking program a further +1 OS per action would be incurred.

Turn 2:
Major Action: Matrix Perception to determine if the file has a Data Bomb
Major Action: Disarm Data Bomb

Result: A single net hit would tell us if the file was data bombed, which it was in this case. A single net hit on Disarm Data Bomb removes the data bomb.

OS: +0, as no illegal actions were taken (unless they were modified by a hacking program), and legal admin access was maintained.

Turn 3:
Major Action: Crack File
Major Action: Edit File

Result: File has been decrypted, and we are free to copy it and delete it.

OS: +X defensive hits from Crack File.


Question: Edit File says that "each action is enough to alter one detail of a file"; does this mean that in order to copy the file to your own device and then delete it from the original device you have to take the Edit File action twice?

Anything stand out as wrong or misunderstood?

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #1 on: <10-11-19/0846:34> »
Assumption 1: It does appear to me that the intent is there's no action involved in toggling between running silent and not running silent.  Also of particular interest to those transitioning from 5e: Running Silent does not impose a -2 dice penalty to Matrix actions anymore.

Assumption 2: Probe is a special variant on the extended test mechanic in that it has no set threshold... you roll against the opposing dice pool and you quit when you feel like you've earned enough net hits. Also note, Probe is an illegal matrix action so every interval you use is jacking up your OS, and that puts a practical limit on how much Probing you can get away with.

Assumption 3: I'd quibble, as hacking in AR is mechanically quite sound, particularly if you have combat drugs or wired reflexes. And you still get to retain use of your body for physical actions intermixed with your hacking ones.  however, there's still certainly nothing wrong with assuming a hack might be attempted in VR.

Scenarios 1 & 2: I don't see anything to quibble with.

Scenario 3: I think you'll need two Edit File actions: one to copy the file and the second to delete it off the original device.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

ZeroSum

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« Reply #2 on: <10-11-19/0932:52> »
[...]
Assumption 2: Probe is a special variant on the extended test mechanic in that it has no set threshold... you roll against the opposing dice pool and you quit when you feel like you've earned enough net hits. Also note, Probe is an illegal matrix action so every interval you use is jacking up your OS, and that puts a practical limit on how much Probing you can get away with.
Yeah, I'm not quite sure what the intent is for Probe. It seems like you would roll your Cracking + Logic vs Willpower + Firewall; since it's an illegal action, hits on the defense side increases your OS.

However, if I choose to probe some more, do I roll against the same threshold as before, or do we both roll again? Can I even choose to roll again? The fact that it is an extended test with a variable threshold seems to be somewhat unique.

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Assumption 3: I'd quibble, as hacking in AR is mechanically quite sound, particularly if you have combat drugs or wired reflexes. And you still get to retain use of your body for physical actions intermixed with your hacking ones.  however, there's still certainly nothing wrong with assuming a hack might be attempted in VR.
This is a fair point that I hadn't considered. Since initiative is now normalized across physical, astral, and matrix I agree that AR hacking is equally viable as VR hacking. In fact, I don't really see any particular bonus gained from hacking from VR.

Question 2, I guess: do reaction based initiative enhancers stack with VR initiative enhancers?
For example, if I chose to make a decker with Wired Reflexes 2, a Cyberjack, and a cyberdeck, and I chose to go into hotsim VR, would my initiative be Intuition + Data Processing + 1d6 base + 2d6 Wired Reflexes + 2d6 hotsim VR, for a total of +5d6?

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Scenario 3: I think you'll need two Edit File actions: one to copy the file and the second to delete it off the original device.
This is my gut reaction too; this just means that net hits doesn't really matter for this action (and for many Matrix actions this is true, the defensive hits only means you accrue Overwatch and in part determine if you are successful or not).

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #3 on: <10-11-19/0940:36> »
Probe is an extended test, yes, but instead of a threshold you're opposed by Firewall x2.  So if your first interval ends up with no, or a low number of, net hits, you can reboot to reset OS and try again.  And again.  Ad infinitum, until you get some number of net hits.  For this reason, I'd recommend the GM just buying hits on the opposed roll... keeps the repetitive dice rolling to a minimum.  Of course, since it IS still an extended tests, you can push your luck and do successive intervals, to try and get even more and more net hits.  (As GM, I'd probably only buy hits on the first interval... if you want to push your luck, let's see how it holds!)

Initiative enhancements: Things like Wired Reflexes and Jazz give you bonuses to Initiative.  That works in AR, sure.  But VR uses Matrix Initiative, which they don't help with.  Same logic with Astral Initiative != Initiative.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

ZeroSum

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« Reply #4 on: <10-11-19/0956:46> »
I think Probe is still a little confusing as a result of the way it's worded, honestly.

On one hand, the rules for Extended tests state the following:
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Extended tests have a dice pool and a threshold like Simple tests, but the threshold does not have to be met on a single roll (and often canít be). The player can make multiple rolls of the dice pool, progressively making the dice pool 1 die smaller each time they roll, until they have accumulated enough hits (totaling the hits from all their rolls) to meet or beat the threshold.

If one were to follow this to the letter for Probe, the defender would first roll Willpower + Firewall to determine the threshold. Then, the attacker would roll his Cracking + Logic against the threshold. If they so chose the attacker could continue rolling, taking a -1 dice pool penalty for each successive roll in order to accumulate hits.

Probe never explicitly states that successive attack rolls generate additional defense rolls; it even goes so far as to state that even "if your attempt initially fails", which implies getting 0 net hits (but not glitching or critically glitching). However, if you only roll once to determine the threshold it would seem that a competent decker could rack up a significant amount of net hits to then use on a Backdoor Entry test, at no obvious cost. OS would presumably continue to increase, but again, this is not really laid out in the Matrix Actions chapter, as no other illegal action is an extended test.

I definitely think this could use some clarification from the authors regarding what the intent is. This should either be normal Opposed test with a longer interval, or it should be clarified that as an extended test the defensive roll determines the threshold and X happens to OS if successive attack tests are rolled.

As for initiative; so no double dipping between VR and AR initiative. I think that makes sense. What makes less sense is that VR does not really grant you any obvious benefits, then. Edge actions aren't restricted to VR hacking (nor should it be, in my opinion), but besides an increase to initiative at the cost of complete physical paralysis and risking physical damage it seems like VR hacking should provide some sort of additional benefit.

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #5 on: <10-11-19/1005:29> »
I think Probe is still a little confusing as a result of the way it's worded, honestly.

That's fair, because it is an extended test that doesn't follow the rules for extended tests.  In the end though: specific trumps general.


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If one were to follow this to the letter for Probe, the defender would first roll Willpower + Firewall to determine the threshold...

You're already going down the wrong track.  There is NO threshold for Probe.  By the letter of the rules, thresholds are given in parenthesis.  None is given here.  Furthermore, there's very clearly an opposed dice pool given.   Therefore, in this specific case only, this extended test has no threshold and has an opposed dice pool instead.  Now, as an implication of this specific deviation from the general rules for extended tests, it's completely unclear if the opposing dice pool is also reduced by -1 for each interval. I can't give official answers so you can answer that question how you like.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, youíre fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

ZeroSum

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« Reply #6 on: <10-11-19/1009:30> »
Good point. Specific rules do trump general, you're absolutely right.

I think I'll just leave the concept of rolling multiple successive tests of Probe alone and reboot if I don't get a favourable result and try again. Might as well, it's a cleaner option since no alarms are tripped anyway. Thanks!

Xenon

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« Reply #7 on: <10-11-19/1412:23> »
I've run through a couple of sample hacks in my spare time, but I wanted to make sure that I'm not making any obvious mistakes. I'd like to run a few scenarios by you as a form of sanity check; I'll do them one at a time so we can discuss anything that comes up separately.
What a great idea! :-)


Running Silent has no associated action
It is resolved with the Change Device Mode Anytime Minor Action

SR6 p. 41 Change Device Mode (A)
character may use a Minor Action to activate, deactivate, or switch the mode on any device that they are linked to by a direct neural interface, be it a wired or wireless link. This includes activating or deactivating cyberware, changing a smartgun’s firing settings, switching a commlink to hidden mode, turning a device’s wireless functionality off, and so on.



The Probe action states that it is an Extended test, and I am assuming that a hacker could continue rolling ...
While this is not explained very well (or at all) I am pretty sure you simply resolve it as a regular Simple Test, but rather than taking a (Minor) or (Major) action the test take 1 minute, or (Extended, 1 Minute) as they put it.

You take the action. Spend 1 minute. Take the test. If the test is successful then you are successful. Note your number of hits. If the test fails then you can start over by taking the Trying Again rule which will impose a negative dice pool of 2 dice per try.

I am pretty sure you resolve Matrix Search in the same manner (but here each test take 10 minutes instead). If you actually were allowed to roll multiple times then it will be super easy to reach 10 hits to find deep secrets others actively try to hide every time (Legwork Results table on SR6 p. 50).

If you compare other actions they too have pantheists after the action and in the pantheists it normally says (Minor) or (Major), but in the case of Probe it instead says (Extended, 1 Minute) and for Matrix Search it instead says (Extended, 10 Minutes).

This is not to be confused with an Extended Test which would have looked something similar to this: "Cracking + Logic vs Willpower + Firewall (10, 1 minute) Extended Test"

Yes, using the word "extended" was a bad call from their side - they should just left out the word "extended" and just put (1 Minute) or (10 Minutes) inside the pantheists.


Additionally, in instances where Backdoor Entry is used I am assuming that a successful Probe has already been performed.
Depending on your reading it will take a full minute to probe the target. In many cases you don't have a full minute and you are forced to loud and take the Brute Force approach instead. Keep that in mind when we later start to compare sneaking vs forcing our way into the network.



Most hackers are likely to be using hot-sim VR as this gives you 1 Major action and 4 Minor actions per turn (potential for 2 Major actions per turn).
Taking physical damage from biofeedback (such as dump shock or black IC) can be quite nasty and going rag doll mode is not always practical (and you can also get a lot of meat world reaction by using adept powers, magic, drugs or augmentations). But yes, many hackers will use hot-sim while they are hacking.

(Fun thing to note; Neither Rigger Control Consoles nor Vehicle Control Rig implants come with hot-sim modded sim modules which are required for hot-sim VR. They didn't in the previous edition, either)


Scenario 1 - Simple Datasteal: Hack a device, find an encrypted file using a known hash, copy it, and then delete it
In this case we are going to go in quietly to avoid detection and accrue as little OS as possible.
If the device is slaved behind a personal area network then it seem as if the probe action (and later also the backdoor entry action) will be opposed by the willpower of the owner and the firewall of the PAN.

If the device is inside the wide area network of a host attended by a security spider decker then it seem as if you are opposed by the willpower of the spider and the firewall of the Host.

If the device is inside a WAN that is not attended then it seem as if you are only opposed by the firewall of the host.

If the device is not part of a network at all but attended by its owner then it seem as if you are only opposed by the willpower rating of the owner.

If the device is not part of a network and also not attended by its owner then it seem as you are not opposed at all.



Major Action - Backdoor Entry

Results: Legal admin access obtained through using Backdoor Entry, which means no +3 Overwatch per turn.
Note that if the device was part of a 'network' then you are now inside that network and you have admin access to everything connected to the entire network(!)



Major Action: Matrix Perception to determine if the file has a Data Bomb

Result: A single net hit would tell us if the file was data bombed, which it was in this case.
It seem as if Matrix Perception in this edition is always opposed?

Depending on your reading it seem as if the data bomb would oppose your matrix perception test using its builder's willpower together with the sleaze rating of the network (if there is one).

On a tie you would spot the bomb
With 1 net hit you would spot the rating of the bomb
With 2 net hits you would gain advanced intel (maybe learn what the bomb is set to do in case it goes off...?)



A single net hit on Disarm Data Bomb removes the data bomb.
Normally you would "win" on a tie.
In this case you seem to need at least 1 net hit (as you correctly noted).


Major Action: Crack File

Result: File has been decrypted, and we are free to copy it and delete it.
Interesting to note that in previous edition this used to be an attack action and a successful attack action used to be immediately obvious for the owner (or the host). This does not seem to be the case in this edition.


...in order to copy the file to your own device and then delete it from the original device you have to take the Edit File action twice?
Yes.


do reaction based initiative enhancers stack with VR initiative enhancers?
No, they only affect your meat world / AR initiative.

To increase your matrix initiative you can for example switch from cold sim to hot sim. As a technomancer getting the Overclocking Echo. You can also increase your data processing rating by using better hardware. Or increase your intuition attribute by using magic or drugs.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #8 on: <10-11-19/1447:55> »
do reaction based initiative enhancers stack with VR initiative enhancers?
No, they only affect your meat world / AR initiative.
+Reaction won't work, but I'm not sure if the rules ban combat drugs, spells or wired reflexes.
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Hobbes

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« Reply #9 on: <10-11-19/1451:18> »
do reaction based initiative enhancers stack with VR initiative enhancers?
No, they only affect your meat world / AR initiative.
+Reaction won't work, but I'm not sure if the rules ban combat drugs, spells or wired reflexes.

Combat Drugs, Spells, Wired Reflexes modify Initiative, not Matrix Initiative so won't help in VR.  Certainly would increase your AR options though.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #10 on: <10-11-19/1453:48> »
So then why do they apply on AR Initiative, when that is part of Matrix Initiative?

Note: I stated I'm not sure because I don't know the precise rules here. Just statements do not suffice.
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Xenon

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« Reply #11 on: <10-11-19/1501:00> »
Because AR initiative IS your meat world initiative...


But yes, it was confusing in SR5 as well.

It was asked and answered on this very forum years ago.
(the rules clarification thread perhaps)

Hobbes

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« Reply #12 on: <10-11-19/1503:04> »
Away from books, so if 6E split Matrix AR Initiative out from regular Initiative it's a change I missed.  And I have a series of follow up questions, because that's a mess.  The default assumption is that characters are in AR most of the time.

AFAIK, Initiative covers Meat space (which includes AR), Astral Initiative is Astral, Matrix Initiative would be Hot SIM VR or Cold SIM VR.

Edit: Ninja'd by Xenon

Xenon

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« Reply #13 on: <10-11-19/1510:43> »
Phear my search skills:

Q Do Wired Reflexes 1 add +1d6 Initiative Dice even if you are using astral projecting, cold-sim VR or hot-sim VR (to a maximum of total 5d6 Initiative Dice)?
No.

ZeroSum

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« Reply #14 on: <10-11-19/1521:40> »
A lot of great points, Xenon, thank you for contributing.

Change Device Mode makes sense for running silent.

The probe action we've discussed some more since the OP; definitely in need of clarification on extended vs Extended tests

Probe and Backdoor Entry vs Brute Force is something I wanted to save for scenario 2; cybercombat will be 3. I wanted to make sure we could discuss the intricacies of each scenario in detail before moving on to the next one :)

On defenses; fortunately, the Errata document cleared up the differences between when to use which attributes for defense, so this is pretty straight forward.

Does hacking a device slaved to a PAN give you Admin access to the PAN? I'm not sure I've drawn that conclusion. Care to elaborate?

I'm tempted to not apply any previous edition FAQs to SR5, for what it's worth, just because so many things have changed and because I, like many others, never even played 5th. For guidance on RAI at your table? Sure. But for new people, to Shadowrun as a whole or to 6th Edition? Eeeh, not sure that's a great idea.

I will say that I think the distinction between "Matrix" Initiative and regular upper case Initiative is blurred more in 6th Edition than it ever has been before. The fact that all actions, whether physical, matrix, and/or astral, all happen in real-time (i.e. on the same game clock), coupled with the fact that initiative right now is not very clearly defined as distinct and bespoke systems, definitely open the door for alternative readings that contradicts well-established doctrine from previous editions.

And just so I make myself clear; I am not staying that the rules say X or Y, just that depending on your frame of reference it could be interpreted differently, and that I think some clarification on how initiative is intended to work (from the authors) in the form of an FAQ would be highly appreciated.

For now, I'll personally err on the side of caution and separate Matrix, Astral, and Combat/Physical/Initiative (capital I) from each other.