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Technomancer Tactics

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Kincaid

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« on: (11:52:59/07-22-15) »
This grew out of a separate thread, but I thought it would be interesting to discuss what's worked for people who play TMs.  I mentioned in the other thread that the guy playing a TM at my table is remarkably useful and people asked for some examples.  Busy day at work, so I'll probably add to this slowly over time.

This is slightly off topic, so if people want to move TM coolness to another thread, we can do that too.

A few basic principles.  Obviously, a great deal of this is my opinion and not empirical.
 
1. The technomancer at our table is a summoner.  To use a MMO analogy, deckers are blasters and technomancers are (or at least, can be) summoners.  They're different roles in the raid.

2. The most powerful skill in the game is Binding.  The second most powerful skill in the game is Registering.

3. As you'll note with any discussion about street sams, the number of initiative passes you get/control is a critical factor in determining how effective your character is.  A good sam will probably get 3 IPs reliably.  A good technomancer can pretty easily get 8.

4. A sam has more flexibility with what he does with his IPs than a sprite (even if all he does is six-round bursts), so it's not entirely apples to apples, but if a player goes into a situation with a playbook (in my case, a literal playbook of things jotted down on notecards), he can exert a great degree of battlefield control.

5. If you want someone to break into a host and fetch a file, then at the lower end of the karma curve, a decker is probably going to be better, barring some sort of wild specialization.  Direct connection is at least one Submersion away and a host's Firewall can be a serious impediment.  Until the technomancer gets Skinlink, host access-related challenges are probably best solved through social engineering.  Given how so many shadowruns are set up with the expectation that "the Matrix guy" will solve all your host problems, I can understand the frustration a player feels when his technomancer's ears begin to bleed and everyone else at the table is giving him the "You had one job!" stinkeye.

Everyone at the table needs to stop asking the technomancer to play to his weaknesses and start asking him to play to his strengths.

Shadowrun is a team game.  Creatively problem solve getting into a host for 2-3 sessions and your technomancer will have Skinlink.  Suppression is also truly awesome in a host.  Delaying IC by 2 Combat Turns gives you 5-6 IPs to get things done.

6. We can return to hosts in a bit, but let's focus on battlefield control.  As many people have noted, playing a decker in the middle of a firefight is a little frustrating.  You have to spend a Complex Action to get marks or resort to Data Spiking guns; the sam can just kill the guy with a six-round burst with a Simple Action, making the decker feel remarkably inefficient.  Fork is awesome and helps a little in this scenario, but it's still a game of catch up.

7. The weakness of the decker in a firefight is poor action economy.  Technomancers don't have this problem.  Let's say you use one machine sprite as a buffer for the sam's gun (not too exciting, but he'll appreciate it), another as a roving destroyer of enemy guns/cybereyes/wired reflex + reaction enhancer systems, and your other sprite simply Data Spikes things.  Note we've just replaced the decker's Data Spike spam with 1/3 of your army and you haven't actually done anything yourself yet.  (Note for your playbook: specify different classes of targets for your sprite's Data Spikes and the other sprite's Gremlins--you don't want them to target the same thing).

8. So what do you get to do during all this?  Since the sprites are handling general mayhem, you could spend a few IPs to generate marks and swing the environment if that's an option--closing doors, taking control of communications, those sorts of things.  When I play mages, I'm a big fan of illusion and manipulation spells, so I'm also a big fan of Resonance Veil.  No OS, no marks required.  Don't believe what you're seeing?  Roll your extremely excellent Computer skill, Mr. Sec Guard.  Did every guard's biomonitor flatline?  Is my gun about to cook off ammo?  Where exactly is my smartgun telling me to point my gun?  And so on.  If I can spend my action to do something that makes a guard not shoot my teammate, that's a win.  A less interesting, but fairly efficient, choice is to follow up your sprite's Data Spikes with Resonance Spikes to finish off the target to keep your sprite moving from one target to the next.
« Last Edit: (10:58:52/09-23-15) by Kincaid »
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Triskavanski

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« Reply #1 on: (12:00:17/07-22-15) »
How does a technomancer get 8 ips? Are you counting the sprite Ips as the technomancers? Cause if you're not, however your getting the 8ips solves my "the matrix is slow" issue a bit.
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Kincaid

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« Reply #2 on: (12:03:21/07-22-15) »
I'm counting the sprite's IPs.  In the same way that having a spirit army can break mages, having a sprite army can break TMs (although not to the same degree--I think mages are safely atop the mountain).  Each IP you control is an opportunity to affect the battlefield.  Even if sprites have somewhat narrow application, the sheer volume makes up for it.
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adzling

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« Reply #3 on: (12:04:16/07-22-15) »
Awesome, please keep this up!
And by binding you of course mean Registering ;-)

Kincaid

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« Reply #4 on: (12:05:22/07-22-15) »
Awesome, please keep this up!
And by binding you of course mean Registering ;-)

I need my afternoon coffee.
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rayous

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« Reply #5 on: (12:33:00/07-22-15) »
How do you prioritize your attributes? Logic for more sprites or willpower for fading. Also, the starting sprite limit is charisma... is this a typo(pg98)

Kincaid

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« Reply #6 on: (13:25:38/07-22-15) »
I imagine the note on page 98 is a typo.  Originally, Charisma was the stat that limited your number of sprites and that was changed to Logic in the errata.  I don't think the errata caught the mention on page 98.

My base TM build is not terribly creative (I haven't really thought about CF's impact on them).  Willpower of 6 and all your other mental stats at 5 (assuming human).  You waste hits (12 dice vs. a limit of 5) ~17% of the time, which isn't great, but can be greatly reduced by teamworking with your sprites.  Teamworking isn't a cure-all.  It costs services and that's something to weigh when thinking about wasting hits versus spending Edge versus using a service.  Understanding the relative importance of tests and their cost of failure is really important for any archetype in Shadowrun.  Can I afford to miss a secguard?  Probably.  Can I afford to miss a mage?  Less likely.  Can I afford to roll poorly on my Edge-to-go-first Confusion spell?  No.  The same holds true for a technomancer.  Sometimes a limit of 5 is probably going to be sufficient; sometimes it isn't.  Technomancers key off their attributes and attributes are expensive--there's no sugar coating that.  They've always been karma sinks.  While you're earning to karma you need to build up your attributes, knowing how to play around the limits is important.

For example, let's say you've gotten yourself into a host.  There's a spider and Patrol IC present.  The danger of a host for a technomancer is just like a decker--spend too long, and you'll get overwhelmed.  The exact SOP varies slightly based on your ability to get marks out-of-combat.  If you can (and you'll Edge any failure to prevent the spider from getting a mark on you), great.  If you can't, go first (either through a great roll or through Edge) and open with Diffusion of Firewall.  Since everything else in this combat keys off of the spider's Firewall, this is a roll you cannot screw up.  Syncing initiatives with your sprites may be tricky, so teamwork is a nice bonus here, but not something you can rely on.

You peel off some of the spider's Firewall.  If you were running silent, you no longer are.
Fault Sprite envelops the spider in an Electron Storm.  Whether or not the Fault Sprite should be running silently really comes down to how well you rolled at reducing the spider's Firewall.  Noise in a host is a weird thing, but since Electron Storm is "weird and Resonance-y," I basically run it like Confusion and give the spider a -2 penalty.
Crack Sprite uses Suppression to prevent IC from spawning.  The Crack Sprite is running silently since Suppression doesn't require a roll, so there's no -2 dice to worry about.  The Crack Sprite is your summoned (not Registered) sprite.

The spider isn't going to spend Complex Actions looking for your sprites--he's going to attack you.  That means he's at -2 dice and facing a fairly efficient (because of his lower Firewall) ongoing damage effect.  Between 3 passes of Electron Storm and 2 passes if you doing your thing, the spider should be offline by the end of the first Combat Turn.  You may be able to fit in FMD here as well.

The Patrol IC screams helplessly.

If the process of cracking and copying the file you need is taking too long, summon a new Crack Sprite in the final IP of Suppression's last CT and start the process anew.  EDIT: See two posts down for the cycle.


« Last Edit: (14:03:43/07-22-15) by Kincaid »
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rayous

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« Reply #7 on: (13:39:50/07-22-15) »
Wouldn't you have to dismiss the previous crack sprite before you can summon a new one? So you would have to dismiss it the second to last pass before you could summon a new one.

What are your build priorities usually? What edge do you shoot for? How did you get into the host in the first place? I assume you had your Fault sprite go to the resonance and then after you were in called him back for 2 tasks in total so you could use him in there.

Kincaid

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« Reply #8 on: (14:02:57/07-22-15) »
I realized I screwed up the order of operations in that example because of a houserule I've gotten too used to, but as long as you do the summoning on your second-to-last IP, you're fine.  As long as you aren't summoning 1-service sprites, that is.  You need the sprite to be present at the beginning of the CT (in the host) and having already been told to use its power (the previous CT).  Presumably (the rules aren't clear on this), if you use Suppression as the final task of a sprite, the sprite disappears at the end of the power's duration, just like using a final task on sustaining.  You also need to clarify with your GM exactly how the duration works--if your GM insists that it works until the end of the Combat Turn (why summon a Level 1-5 sprite then?), you're stuck using Level 6 sprites.  Suppression is a strange case in the sense that if you have it last until the end of a Combat Turn, it doesn't so anything since the host checks at the beginning of a combat turn before spawning IC.  At my table, if you tell a level 3 sprite to suppress in IP 3 of CT 1, he will do so until IP 3 of CT 2 (or his last IP, if he has fewer than 3).


Final CT of the original suppression power.
1st IP
Since the host began this CT under the affect of the sprite's Suppression power, no IC spawns.
Your original, Level 6 Crack Sprite expires.  You have held your action to go after the sprite if necessary.
Compile a new Crack Sprite (L3) (Complex Action)
-let's say you get 3 services.

2nd IP
Command Sprite to use Suppression (Simple Action, 2 services remain)
Crack Sprite takes a -10 initiative penalty for joining combat late, but is still guaranteed at least one action and uses power.

3rd IP
Do something file-related

First Combat Turn with the newly-summoned Sprite
1st IP
[Host is still under Suppression so no IC spawns at the beginning of the Combat Turn]
Do something file-related (or skip to IP 2 if you only have 2 actions).

2nd IP
The first use of Suppression the sprite you summoned last Combat Turn used expires.
Command Sprite to use Suppression (Simple Action, 1 service remains)

3rd IP
Do file-related stuff.

At this point, you can probably finish up before the start of the next non-suppressed CT (when the IC would spawn), but if you're worried, you can cycle back up to the top.

Basically, the cycle is: if you have 3 IPs, you can compile.  If you have 2 IPs, you burn tasks.  If you're sprite is leaving and you have 2 IPs, you can compile but you won't be able to do anything in the host that requires a Complex Action until you reroll initiative.


« Last Edit: (15:53:20/07-22-15) by Kincaid »
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adzling

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« Reply #9 on: (14:09:18/07-22-15) »
Maybe I missed it but why do dismiss the first Crack Sprite after he performs Suppression?

Kincaid

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« Reply #10 on: (14:20:35/07-22-15) »
Wouldn't you have to dismiss the previous crack sprite before you can summon a new one? So you would have to dismiss it the second to last pass before you could summon a new one.

What are your build priorities usually? What edge do you shoot for? How did you get into the host in the first place? I assume you had your Fault sprite go to the resonance and then after you were in called him back for 2 tasks in total so you could use him in there.

My player's build is pretty boring in the sense that it's very straightforward.  Attributes A, Resonance B, Skills C, Race D, Resources E.  There are good arguments for switching Skills and Resonance there as well.  If you go Skills C (28/2), the most robust choices are probably:

Software 6
Compiling 6 (4 from Resonance B)
Registering 6 (4 from Resonance B)
Hacking 6
Cybercombat 6
Computer 6

The skill groups went to Influence and Acting, iirc.

You could drop a point or two from Computer and/or Cybercombat to pick up a few specializations (I'd go -1 Computer/ + host specialization of hacking).  This is not a well-rounded starting point for the character--Skills B gives you that.  It's really a matter of preference.

That puts a human at Edge 3.  Not terrible, but not amazing.  After Skinlink, buying up Edge is a top priority--I get comfortable around 5.  I don't think this is unique to TMs--Matrix archetypes seem more Edge-dependent than most in my experience.
« Last Edit: (14:34:54/07-22-15) by Kincaid »
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Kincaid

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« Reply #11 on: (14:24:48/07-22-15) »
Maybe I missed it but why do dismiss the first Crack Sprite after he performs Suppression?

We play it that when you summon a new sprite/spirit and you have an active one, the old one just disappears (that was the houserule I messed up), so I've been clumsy with the proper wording.  But you're right, the sprite would just disappear once his last task is used.  I edited the Suppression cycle for clarity.
« Last Edit: (15:05:16/07-22-15) by Kincaid »
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Xenon

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« Reply #12 on: (15:19:50/07-22-15) »
resonance library fun

  • Repeat threading Cleaner level 1 for Fading Value 2 let you potentially mark, snoop and trace an unlimited amount of devices before you are forced to jack out.
  • Thread Static Veil (for example level 3 for Fading Value 2) is great if you mark, snoop and trace (and cookie) a specific subject. This let you continue to run surveillance on the target for many many hours without having to worry about GOD (but with Trackback added in Data Trail you might want to be a bit careful).
  • Thread a level 2 Puppeteer for Fading Value 6 and break the limit with Edge to force the Spider to Jack Out as his next action (taking dump shock and losing all marks on your persona in the process).
  • Resonance Channel (for example level 3 for Fading Value 2) is great if you for example is located on the north pole of in the middle of the pacific where you normally can't connect to the matrix through normal Matrix Channels.
  • Repeat thread Resonance Spike on an unknowing target. This is not considered to be an illegal attack, nor a sleaze, action. It does not trigger overwatch score. It also does not fall under "Noticing Hackers" (SR5 p. 236).
  • Thread Resonance Veil against any target that use AR through DNI + a sim-module (aka Super AR) in order to build an illusion that cause Nausea (SR5 p. 409) due to the sensory input (smell of a dirty diapers, the feeling of being punched in the junk or whatever).
  • Thread Transcendent Grid (for example level 5 for Fading Value 2) to ignore negative dice pool modifiers to access targets on the public grid or working across grids (great if your target is on a local grid as they normally require that you are physically present to access). You also avoid using brute force or hack on the fly to hop between grids (which are illegal matrix actions that start your overwatch score).
  • If you ever run into a hostile hacker that have an overwatch score you can repeat thread Tattletale (for example level 3 for Fading Value 2 - you can thread it at level 5 for FV 2, but then you need to spend 5 combat turns to make it permanent). Spend level combat turns to make it permanent and thread a new (just like Resonance Spike this is not an attack nor a sleaze action so it does not cause overwatch and does not fall under "Noticing Hackers" on p. 236). As soon as his overwatch score hit 40 (you can increase OS by 20 every 60 seconds this way) then GOD will converge(!) on your target - If your target run the baby monitor cyberprogram you thread Resonance Veil to make him think he is far from being converged upon.
« Last Edit: (15:46:03/07-22-15) by Xenon »

Triskavanski

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« Reply #13 on: (15:23:43/07-22-15) »
Do you and your sprites share "sites"?

Dude is running silent.
Can you make sprites attack him without seeing him?
Do you have to command them to take a round to spot him?
What happens if he has data anomaly?

Concepts are great, but implementation sucks. Why not improve it?

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Triskavanski

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« Reply #14 on: (15:26:17/07-22-15) »
Xenon, why do you have to wait ten seconds for tattletell to go?Thts only to make it permenant. His OS is still increased while you're sustaining it.
Concepts are great, but implementation sucks. Why not improve it?

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