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SR4 Matrix: WHARGARBL
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 12:23 pm    Post subject: SR4 Matrix: WHARGARBL Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OK, someone got me to look at Aaron and Jen's matrix walkthrough. Holy shit, what the fuck were they thinking?

Here's the original transcript:

Jennifer Harding wrote:

GAME, SET, AND MATCH

(Note that Aaron and I wrote the Game, Set, Match story together, and we actually did roll each test; the story was originally designed to be a demonstration of a hacker, a technomancer, and a rigger in a competition. However, the original story was 500 words, the final version ended up being 3000. So, some extra stuff was thrown in to make the story read better, and didn't reflect all the original actions... *sigh* that's what happens when you take creative license. Wink But, for what it's worth, here's the (revised) mechanics behind the story.)

Hacking a Drone Example

BEHIND THE SCENES
Netcat: Initiative 9, 1 Initiative Pass, Resonance 7, Cracking Skill Group 4, Software (Threading) 5 (+2), Willpower 5, Command 2, Exploit 6, Scan 4, Stealth 6, one registered Rating 6 tank sprite with 5 tasks.
Slamm-0!: Initiative 11, 2 Initiative Passes, Computer 5, Electronic Warfare 5, Hacking (Exploit) 6 (+2), Sniffer 5, Spoof 5, Track 5.
Rigger: As Drone Rigger, p. 101, SR4A, add Cracking Group 3 and Analyze 5 & Nuke 3, in cold-sim VR, and already subscribed to the drone.
Security Drone: As MCT Fly-Spy, p. 350, SR4A. With Firewall 4 and running Analyze 3. The drone is operating in Hidden mode and has orders to patrol a specified route and report specific suspicious activity.

Combat Turn #1
Slamm-0! flashes the sun off his reflective shades towards the drone, trying to get it to report back to the rigger so he can begin a Trace User Test to track the connection.
Netcat uses a simple action to call her registered sprite. She uses another simple action to use her E-Sensing echo rolling Resonance + Perception getting 4 hits. This allows her to locate the drone's node, and tells her that it has a System Rating 3 (E-Sensing Table, p. 146, Unwired).
The drone has seen something it doesn't recognize. It makes a "common sense" test (p. 245, SR4A), Pilot + Response, getting no hits. It contacts the Rigger (a free action) for further instructions.
Slamm-0! attempts to intercept the communication between the drone and rigger in order to begin tracking the Rigger. He performs a Capture Wireless Signal Test (Electronic Warfare + Sniffer (3) Test) (p. 229, SR4A), getting 7 hits and succeeding. This gives him a way to track the rigger's node, so he can get his access ID. Yes, this would be unnecessary in modern TCP/IP, but the Matrix ain't yer daddy's communications protocol.

Combat Turn #2
Slamm-0! begins the extended Trace User (10, 1 IP) Test (p. 232, SR4A); he rolls Computer + Track Test and gets 4 hits.
Netcat threads her Exploit complex form (no action required), getting 6 hits on her Software + Resonance Test and choosing to use only 4. She resists the fading of 4P (Physical Damage because the new complex form rating is greater than her Resonance) with her Resonance + Willpower, getting 4 hits and resisting it completely. She then orders her Sprite to Assist Operation for her Stealth complex form, a simple action. Her Exploit Complex form is now 6 + 4, or 10, and her Stealth complex form will be 6 + Sprite Rating (6), or 12, starting in Combat Turn 3 and lasting 6 combat turns.
Slamm-0! continues the Trace User Test, getting 3 hits for a total of 7.

Combat Turn #3:

Slamm-0! continues the Trace User Test with 3 more hits, reaching the threshold of 10. He has successfully tracked the rigger's connection - the rigger is in the campus security headquarters - and gotten the rigger's access ID. Slamm-0! can now spoof orders to the drone.
Netcat starts hacking-on-the-fly for an Admin account: an Extended Hacking + Exploit (drone's Firewall + 6, Complex Action) Test. Netcat rolls Hacking + Exploit and gets 7 hits. The drone gets to make a test to detect the intrusion, an Extended Firewall + Analyze (Netcat's Stealth) Test. The drone gets 2 hits.
Slamm-0! uses the rigger's access ID to spoof an order for the drone to change course. He makes an Opposed Hacking + Spoof Test against the drone's Pilot + Firewall. He gets 5 hits; the drone gets 3 hits.

Combat Turn #4:
Slamm-0! waits to observe if the drone accepts the spoofed order. He also uses a free action to confirm his dinner reservations (what a romantic!).
Netcat continues her hacking-on-the-fly. She rolls 8 hits, which added to her original 7 hits achieves the threshold of 9. Netcat now has an Admin account on the drone. The drone rolls Firewall + Analyze, getting 4 hits, for a total of 6; it does not detect Netcat.
The drone begins to fly towards the Chemistry building.
Slamm-0! gloats.

Combat Turn #5:
Slamm-0! continues to gloat.
Netcat controls the drone directly, steering it toward her window (Complex Action). If she needs to make any Vehicle Tests, she will use Pilot Aircraft + Command (a dice pool of 1, since she doesn't actually have the skill).
The Rigger calls up a status report (a free action) and then decides to Jump Into the drone (a simple action). Because the rigger has jumped into the drone, there is no more outside access to control the drone; it is overridden by the jumped in rigger.
Slamm-0! orders the drone to resume flying towards his window. Nothing happens.
The Rigger analyzes the drone's node, making an Opposed Matrix Perception Test against Netcat's Hacking + Stealth. He gets 2 hits. Netcat gets 5 hits.

Combat Turn #6:
The Rigger starts moving the drone toward the security building (costing no action when jumped into a drone). He again attempts to locate Netcat. He gets 3 hits; Netcat gets 5.
Slamm-0! unloads his Sniffer program (Simple Action).
Netcat attempts to eliminate the Rigger's Access ID from the drone's accounts list. Unfortunately, the clever Rigger has programmed the drone not to accept Admin account deletions. Netcat and the Rigger are at a stalemate.
The Rigger accesses the Access Logs, attempting to figure out what's going on.
Slamm-0! loads his Exploit program (Complex Action).

Combat Turn #7:
The Rigger scratches his virtual head and performs yet another Opposed Matrix Perception Test against Netcat's Hacking + Stealth. He gets 4 hits. Netcat gets 6 hits. (Makes you feel sorry for the guy, doesn't it?)
Slamm-0! performs a Hacking + Exploit (drone's Firewall, Complex Action) Extended Test. He gets 4 hits on his first roll, entering the drone with a normal user passcode. The drone rolls Firewall + Analyze, getting a lucky 6 hits; it detects Slamm-0! and an alert is triggered. This immediately has two effects: it creates a Restricted Alert (p. 238, SR4A) against Slamm-0! (it raises the drone's Firewall rating against Slamm-0! by 4) and it immediately loads an MCT Bloodhound (p. 71, Unwired), rating 3, configured to look like a pack of husky puppies. The IC starts a Trace User (10, Complex Action) Extended Test.
Netcat deactivates the IC, using a Simple Action (since she has an Admin account, this is an allowed action; otherwise, she'd have to roll a Matrix Attack against it).
The Rigger sees Slamm-0's icon and attacks with a Nuke program (p. 111, Unwired). He rolls Cybercombat + Nuke, getting 2 hits. Slamm-0! defends with his Response + Firewall, gets 4 hits, and dodges the attack.
Slamm-0! performs a Redirect Trace action, making an Opposed Hacking + Spoof against the IC's Computer + Track. He gets 3 Net hits, which would be added to the IC's threshold for tracing him (if it weren't for NetCat's interference).

Combat Turn #8:
The IC goes pop.
The Rigger attacks again. He rolls Cybercombat + Nuke, getting 4 hits. Slamm-0! goes on Full Defense, and so resists with his System + Armor + Hacking, and gets 7 hits, dodging again.
Slamm-0! chose to use full defense this turn, so he can only trade witty banter with Netcat.
Netcat compiles a rating 6 Paladin Sprite. She rolls her Compiling + Resonance, and gets 4 hits. The Sprite rolls its Rating, and gets 3 hits. Netcat needs to resist Fading damage of 6S. She rolls her Resonance + Willpower, gets 4 hits, and takes 2S. She uses a free action to order the sprite to protect Slamm-0!
The Rigger attacks Slamm-0! again. This time, he scores one net hit. The base damage of the Nuke 3 is 3, plus 1 from the Net hit, so Slamm-0! resists the damage rolling his System + Armor. He gets 2 hits, and takes 1 damage. This reduces his Response by 1 point!

Combat Turn #9:
The Sprite uses its Castling Power to protect Slamm-0!.
The Rigger attacks again. The attack is redirected from Slamm-0! to the sprite, which rolls its Response + Firewall (total 16), and easily shrugs off the attack.
Slamm-0! loads up his own Nuke program (not wanting to hurt a campus security goon).
Netcat delays her action.
The Rigger attacks again. The attack is redirected from Slamm-0! to the sprite, which rolls its Response + Firewall, and easily shrugs off the attack.
Slamm-0! attacks the Rigger, with his own Nuke program. He scores 3 net hits, which added to his Rating 6 Nuke, make for 9 damage. The Rigger only resists 3 points of damage. His Response is reduced to 0, which reduces his System to 0, and he immediately loses all subscriptions, dumping him from the drone and causing 5S in dumpshock for him to resist with his Willpower + Biofeedback Filter.

Combat Turn #10:
Netcat alters the Rigger's account to not allow movement commands. She then gloats (a Free Action).
Slamm-0! spoofs the drone using Netcat's access ID - something he already knows. Using her access ID, he orders the drone to fly into his window. He gets 4 hits against the drone's 2 hits.
The drone flies into the window, ending the contest, and finally getting Slamm-0! a date with Netcat (more on that in future books).


So what's wrong with this picture? Pretty much everything. It has it all. Every no-no of incredibly shitty design you could imagine.

    Too Convoluted What the fuck? This relatively simple interchange is ten combat rounds and more than 60 die rolls. No wonder they exceeded their word count by five hundred percent.

    Completely Broken I'm not just talking about the fact that over the course of the encounter it becomes clear even to the writers that the very large Stealth dicepool they gave to the Technomancer is completely unfair. No, I'm talking about how the writers allowed people to lay completely arbitrary restrictions on matrix interactivities that make people automatically fail actions unless they guess the correct security order.

    Infinity Mirror Special props go out to mentioning the complete impossibility of getting anywhere with Matrix Perception tests. Let's do the same thing over again, except this time Netcat just hides in plain fucking sight by surrounding herself with 7 - or 97 other icons that look just like her! If you thought it was fun failing those opposed stealth vs. perception tests over and fucking over again, imagine your joy on finding out that even succeeding on such a test just tells you whether one of the 97 icons staring you down is actually a technomancer.

    Tongue Crawling You noticed how fucking useless low rating combat programs are? Hell, you noticed how fucking useless all combat programs are? That Nuke program seriously did Slamm-O! 9% of his matrix condition monitor. After 2 rounds and rolling piles of dice five times (not counting initiative). At that rate, with just 70 more die rolls, someone's computer would get crashed. Unless they pulled in a Medic Agent, in which case they would not. Or did anything at all, in which case the number of die rolls would increase.


Bottom line is: just making that writeup should have made it fucking obvious how godawful terrible a rules system they were putting together really was. If they could run through and analyze that walkthrough and not respond with "Seriously, what the fuck are we doing?" they are insane.

If Aaron Pavao or Jennifer Harding even look at another set of matrix rules, I will not pay a solitary dime for it. They have demonstrated without possibility of contradiction that they have absolutely no talent in this area, and I am offended on multiple levels that they were ever allowed to write official content with regards to the Matrix. Furthermore, I am astonished that either of them were ever able to write paid content for Shadowrun or any other game after this train wreck.

-Frank
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That is seriously worse than a D&D 3.5 combat. At least that only lasts for a couple rounds. Wow.
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crizh
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

[sets himself up for a good kicking]

While I agree with most of the above, I'm not sure it's fair to blame Jen' for the state of the Matrix rules. From the arguments I've had with Aaron I got the impression that he had been involved with the design aspect of The Matrix for quite some time but I don't think Jen' ever touched the actual mechanics.

She has tried to explain how they are supposed to work in some detail there but she ain't the one that made them that way, AFAIK.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

For the win:

Quote:
Slamm-0! attempts to intercept the communication between the drone and rigger in order to begin tracking the Rigger. He performs a Capture Wireless Signal Test (Electronic Warfare + Sniffer (3) Test) (p. 229, SR4A), getting 7 hits and succeeding. This gives him a way to track the rigger's node, so he can get his access ID. Yes, this would be unnecessary in modern TCP/IP, but the Matrix ain't yer daddy's communications protocol.


Translation:

Yeah, we know, we're adding needless complexity. STFU and be glad that there's matrix rules.

*palmface*

Ironically, IPv6 is going in the opposite direction that SR4's matrix rules go in. The problem is that broadcast model of data communications they decided to go with is literally like a 30 year old paradigm and technology has moved on.

I swear to god they need a technical adviser for matrix paradigms. As in, the person who writes up the matrix rules gives a list of desired functions to a network expert, who then returns a document stating how such a network would be built and function.

The silly thing about the matrix rules is that they mix and jumble layers of abstraction all over. I don't need to triangulate a wireless node's location in order to access it's ID. The wireless router we are both slaved into does that *in hardware* already. I simply ask the router for it's address so I can communicate with it, which it gladly does for me.

Which leads me back to the point I keep harping on. Either completely abstract matrix rules until the rules do not actually reflect "actions" in the matrix, but rather simply effects, or get someone to write the rules that has a fucking clue about networks.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Surgo wrote:
That is seriously worse than a D&D 3.5 combat. At least that only lasts for a couple rounds. Wow.


It's way worse than 3.5 D&D combat. In every possible way. First of all, you have to roll a lot of dice. A lot of dice. I don't just mean that it's a dicepool system and you roll a lot of dice in piles every time you do anything, I mean that you have to roll dice a great many times for little obvious benefit. They aren't even reporting all of them. Every round, they are rolling Initiative. When they say something like this:
Quote:
analyzes the drone's node, making an Opposed Matrix Perception Test against Netcat's Hacking + Stealth. He gets 2 hits. Netcat gets 5 hits.

Not only is that two tests in opposition (the Rigger's Perception Test vs. Netcat's Stealth Test), but that's a Simple action, so that shit just happened twice. That like is seriously four rolls one after another where the net result was that the Rigger still had not found Netcat's icon. They do that twice and only imply the free ones he gets each every time an icon shows up. So seriously, by the end of this combat our Rigger has made a Perception test six fucking times, each time opposed by other people also rolling dice and comparing hits. And the only thing that happens after having rolled dice and counted hits 12 times is that the Rigger has identified one of his two opponents as a specific icon that he can attack.

And yeah, you can come in with as many icons as you want and just hide in the crowd. Our Rigger could have easily just been asked to do exactly that, combing through dozens or thousands of icons until he identified one that was an actual enemy hacker. It's called Infinity Mirror, and it's a form of essentially unbeatable protection that is game crushing in its painful resolution system. And they went right up and honked that problem's nose - having just been asked to roll so many Matrix Perception tests that they got bored and only wrote down the results for 1/3 of them.

But that's not even the worst thing. The worst thing is called "Drop Out" or "Simon Says" depending upon which side of the GM screen you are on. Here's how it works:
Quote:
Netcat attempts to eliminate the Rigger's Access ID from the drone's accounts list. Unfortunately, the clever Rigger has programmed the drone not to accept Admin account deletions. Netcat and the Rigger are at a stalemate.


Let that one sink in for a moment. Got it? Wait for it... OK now.

The Matrix rules allow the creators of nodes to set any set of rules they want for access and command. And there are programs that allow you to break specific rules if you win opposed tests. So if there are rules as opposed to just one rule, you can be expected to be forced to use a specific set of programs in the proper order to get any hacking done at all. Because otherwise the rules make you automatically fail.

And these programs that let you break rules? They don't all just tell you that you can break Class B rules if you win a test or whatever. They often have their own limitations. For example: Spoof lets you mimic another access ID in order to bypass rules that allow only specific access IDs o do things. But it requires that you have an access ID before you can spoof it. They even allude to precisely this conundrum:

Quote:
He has successfully tracked the rigger's connection - the rigger is in the campus security headquarters - and gotten the rigger's access ID. Slamm-0! can now spoof orders to the drone.


But wait! You know how you can set a rule that you need an access ID to get into a system? What if the access ID is itself behind that system? Well... you can't hack in at all, now can you?

Yes, it is seriously possible to set up recursive loops where these "you automatically fail unless you do this one other action first" rules go in a little circle where you can't succeed at any of them because you always would have had to do another one that you can't begin with before hand.

Which means that even if this hacking nonsense wasn't way too slow and too die rolling intensive, it also is totally bypassable. By which I mean, there is actually a setting when designing the architecture of your network "Allow Hacking Attempts? [Y/N]" and you can just fucking set it to "no."

These two jackasses wrote in two of the hugest, most glaring holes in the potential playability of the Matrix system and then just went about their day as if they hadn't just taken a whiz right into the abyss. This walkthrough only makes any sense as some kind of viciously sarcastic commentary. Some bizarre schaudenfreud where they show how completely splenically unplayable the rules they have drawn up are and then laugh at the poor suckers who are the consumers.

-Frank
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

crizh wrote:
[sets himself up for a good kicking]

While I agree with most of the above, I'm not sure it's fair to blame Jen' for the state of the Matrix rules. From the arguments I've had with Aaron I got the impression that he had been involved with the design aspect of The Matrix for quite some time but I don't think Jen' ever touched the actual mechanics.

She has tried to explain how they are supposed to work in some detail there but she ain't the one that made them that way, AFAIK.


Unwired Copyright Page wrote:
CREDITS: UNWIRED
Writing: Lars Blumenstein, Rob Boyle,
Robert Derie, Jennifer Harding, Martin
Janssen, Ralf Koehler, Jay Levine, Moritz
Lohmann, Sascha Müller, Aaron Pavao


I agree that Aaron Pavao has been a classless asshole about his "pivotal" role in writing the Matrix rules, and he apparently did a good chunk of the revisions in the SR4A book. And he goes on ad hominem tirades against people who criticize the rules as written, going so far as to accuse them of having diagnosable incapacitating mental illness as a reason for why they think that there are flaws in the Matrix rules. But Aaron Pavao being a no talent dick whose very existence hurts Shadowrun as a coherent gaming system and as a brand through his intensely unlikable character nonetheless does not absolve Jennifer Harding from having apparently written some portion of that nonstop fecal waterslide of catastrfuck that was Unwired as a printed document.

Seriously: she gets to take her abject and inexcusable failure trophy too.

-Frank
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crizh
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

She does indeed have a writing credit for Unwired. I was under the impression it was for the fluff piece that your OP quotes the rules breakdown for.

I could be wrong but she wrote the fiction at the start of one chapter and she and Aaron ran the scenario through using the actual RAW. I think she needed some guidance as to how the Matrix rules actually worked to craft a piece that was coherent.

From what she has said about the TM she plays I think she is relatively inexperienced with the Matrix rules and has been learning them as she goes along. She certainly didn't design any of them or have any say in the mechanics presented in Unwired.

If you want to criticize her for her mechanical acumen look to the animal handling rules in Running Wild. I don't think there is anything wrong with them but I do know that she was intimately involved in designing them. I don't think they came out the way she wanted but you know yourself that this is often the case when you are working as part of a team that don't always see things the way you do.
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
They aren't even reporting all of them. Every round, they are rolling Initiative. When they say something like this:
Quote:
analyzes the drone's node, making an Opposed Matrix Perception Test against Netcat's Hacking + Stealth. He gets 2 hits. Netcat gets 5 hits.

Not only is that two tests in opposition (the Rigger's Perception Test vs. Netcat's Stealth Test), but that's a Simple action, so that shit just happened twice.


The thing is, I don't think they're doing all that. The initiative order seems to be fixed across all 10 rounds, I think they just rolled once at the start of combat and looped that forever like with DnD initiative.

Also, It's quite possible that the characters took a Simple Action to Observe In Detail, and then just did nothing with their other Simple Action. They seem like the kind of people who would think that that's reasonably competent play. So that round, it's really just the two rolls that they talk about, even though no one else would actually play it out like that without being laughed at.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What does it say about your rules system where you can break down combat into explicit, step-by-step phases and still have arguments about what the players are actually doing?
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RandomCasualty2
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The most epic failure about this whole thing is that it's not even a group minigame. Seriously, you're not looking at like a group of PC hackers versus a bunch of security. You're looking at one hacker versus another hacker, literally one the simplest fucking example you can have, and it still takes a god awful number of rolls.

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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

At least 30 rolls by my quick count. Probably even more.

I've played entire sessions of games that have had less than 30 rolls *total*.

This is an insane system.
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RandomCasualty2
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The worst part is that not only does it take a huge amount of rolls, but it's also completely broken. As Frank said, you can set up an arbitrary number of rules that have to be used to effectively prevent hacking, or rather more precisely, to make the normally fast and on-the-fly SR hacking look more like slow real life hacking, where hackers have to spend days probing weaknesses and trying to find specific exploits to a given system's rules.

And oddly, the proposed method of computer security, spiders and IC, are shown to be a complete joke, meaning that rule based security, which you apparently can't get around even with an exploit program is by far the best option. Seriously, I don't know why you'd bother paying a spider and buying a bunch of expensive IC programs when you can just configure your system to basically be hack proof.

Otherwise security literally cannot do dick to wireless matrix users. If you don't knock them out with a black out/black hammer before they change their spoofed Access ID, there is no way to even know who it was (let alone prove it in court). Tracing is pretty much absolutely useless to the point that I can't imagine why anyone would even waste money on a trace program. It does nothing you care about.

Honestly I'm not really sure why tracing is so inaccurate, you've got tons of triangulation points in SR, because literally everything can send matrix signals.

So basically your trace program would be trying different matrix paths, comparing signal strengths and crap like that. So you'd say "It's in range of Floor 12 printer, not in range of street-level parking meter, in range of floor 9 light fixture, etc."

After comparing all those signal max ranges, you could get a decent 3D positioning model of where your hacker is at.


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kzt
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

RandomCasualty2 wrote:

So basically your trace program would be trying different matrix paths, comparing signal strengths and crap like that. So you'd say "It's in range of Floor 12 printer, not in range of street-level parking meter, in range of floor 9 light fixture, etc."

After comparing all those signal max ranges, you could get a decent 3D positioning model of where your hacker is at.

If you are not an arrogant and clueless idiot it's easy to come up with better rules than what Aaron came up with. Currently the more you understand about how computer and networks work the more unbearably stupid and insane the SR4 rules are.
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Crissa
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Or at least, the hacker's signal.

-Crissa
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shau
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The worst part of this is the fact it's actually an incredible improvement over the last matrix walkthrough I saw. That was a page in dumpshock in which people got maybe a round and a half before the whole thing became a multi-page cluster fuck and it became clear that even people who hang out at a message board about shadowrun when they are not playing shadowrun couldn't get this shit to work.
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Smeelbo
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 2:21 am    Post subject: When playing with Frank... Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't know what Frank officially plays, but when we were in his campaign, hacking for us often went like this.

We declared an enormous, Rube-Goldberg-like, chain of intent, that is, how we expected the hack to work. Frank broke that chain up into about three pieces: the prepatory work, the main hack, and the follow up. As a group, we rolled up assists to a single main roll for each segment.

This generated a large number of successes, which were eaten up, Pac-Man-style, by the various barriers to success. If we ran out of successes, this would trigger whatever barrier had not been fed enough successes, and then we'd be in real time for a bit. We'd fail, or have some complication, or have a short cyber-battle of some kind.

This system was very satisfactory for our play group. First, almost all the time for the hack was front-loaded by the players preparing the hack. This was a lot of fun, and was done via phone and e-mail with Frank prior to the game session. This allowed Frank to map out the various points of failure in advance, and in a way that made for good story.

Second, as many players could participate in the hack as chose to. Real hacking is often social anyway, and this way more of the group could join in. Since most of the hack time was done well in advance of the actual play session, those players that were not interested in hacking were giving up minimal play time.

Third, by abstracting the hack into a single massive die roll, we avoided a lot of mechanics, most of which weren't well written in any case.

It worked for us, and it made great story.

In one instance, it ended in the deaths of a racist Turk punk rock band in a riot by religious militia in downtown Tehran. Long live the Kurdo-Armenian Cooperation Council!

Smeelbo
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kzt
Knight-Baron


Joined: 03 May 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

We just used an NPC, where we combined dice rolling with results appropriate to the story. Cyber combat always seemed too stupid, so none of that.

TRON really hasn't been improved by 28 years of people using computers in everyday life, the absurd requirement that SR needs to reenact TRON just drives me crazy.
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Hieronymous Rex
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Joined: 21 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 3:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Allow Hacking Attempts? [Y/N]
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A Man In Black
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Joined: 09 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Just in case anyone didn't know.

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TheFlatline
Duke


Joined: 30 Apr 2010
Posts: 2116

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:10 pm    Post subject: Re: When playing with Frank... Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Smeelbo wrote:
I don't know what Frank officially plays, but when we were in his campaign, hacking for us often went like this.

We declared an enormous, Rube-Goldberg-like, chain of intent, that is, how we expected the hack to work. Frank broke that chain up into about three pieces: the prepatory work, the main hack, and the follow up. As a group, we rolled up assists to a single main roll for each segment.

This generated a large number of successes, which were eaten up, Pac-Man-style, by the various barriers to success. If we ran out of successes, this would trigger whatever barrier had not been fed enough successes, and then we'd be in real time for a bit. We'd fail, or have some complication, or have a short cyber-battle of some kind.

This system was very satisfactory for our play group. First, almost all the time for the hack was front-loaded by the players preparing the hack. This was a lot of fun, and was done via phone and e-mail with Frank prior to the game session. This allowed Frank to map out the various points of failure in advance, and in a way that made for good story.

Second, as many players could participate in the hack as chose to. Real hacking is often social anyway, and this way more of the group could join in. Since most of the hack time was done well in advance of the actual play session, those players that were not interested in hacking were giving up minimal play time.

Third, by abstracting the hack into a single massive die roll, we avoided a lot of mechanics, most of which weren't well written in any case.

It worked for us, and it made great story.

In one instance, it ended in the deaths of a racist Turk punk rock band in a riot by religious militia in downtown Tehran. Long live the Kurdo-Armenian Cooperation Council!

Smeelbo


I've been advocating an abstracted matrix system for ages now.

Magic is doable in 1-2 rolls, combat is functional with only a couple rolls (attack, defense, soak), so why should I have 60 dice pool rolls in Matrix systems?
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FrankTrollman
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Joined: 07 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

For that game I went for the 2 roll system.

Roll 1: Determine whether you can get into a system without triggering alarms. Extra hits make it harder for forensic hackers to figure out how/that you got in.

Roll 2: Do what you want to do in the system as far as fund redirects, security system overrides, or blame shifting.

And then went to normal combat for Matrix Combat. Simple and narratively driven, and actually quite playable. Unlike that... thing... in the OP.

-Frank
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TheWorid
Master


Joined: 21 Jan 2010
Posts: 190

PostPosted: Tue Jun 15, 2010 9:42 pm    Post subject: Re: When playing with Frank... Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Smeelbo wrote:
I don't know what Frank officially plays, but when we were in his campaign, hacking for us often went like this.

We declared an enormous, Rube-Goldberg-like, chain of intent, that is, how we expected the hack to work. Frank broke that chain up into about three pieces: the prepatory work, the main hack, and the follow up. As a group, we rolled up assists to a single main roll for each segment.

This generated a large number of successes, which were eaten up, Pac-Man-style, by the various barriers to success. If we ran out of successes, this would trigger whatever barrier had not been fed enough successes, and then we'd be in real time for a bit. We'd fail, or have some complication, or have a short cyber-battle of some kind.
massive die roll, we avoided a lot of mechanics, most of which weren't well written in any case.
Smeelbo


That sounds like a really good system. I would like to see a write-up of that (if such a thing is possible), because I like the idea behind it.
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Youth
NPC


Joined: 20 Dec 2010
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Location: hearts and minds

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ok, I know this is an old thread, but this "Game Set Match" hacking example was old when this thread was still baby fresh. So, first off, I've got to give Frank credit for immediately noticing massive rules flaws that make the RAW unplayable, but there are additional problems here, which I find equally depressing. RAI problems.

Starting from the top, I'm not going to go into the idea of a TM hacking in AR or a supposed uberhacker having 2 passes, but the whole situation is really artificial.

The first problem comes, appropriately enough, on Turn 1. Slamm-0 tries to Capture a Signal without identifying the signal's source. The Fly-Spy is hidden. That requires a Detect Hidden Nodes action (yes, even more dice rolls.) Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to specify what signal he's capturing. Regardless, he tries to hack in later. Need an ID for that. Maybe Netcat decided to give him the ID she grabbed with E-Sensing? Too bad there's no record of that exchange, or how many hits an E-Sensing test needs to produce a Matrix ID. It's not on the E-Sensing table, so by strict RAW that's not even information E-Sensing can provide. For comparison, an E-Sensing test needs 5+ hits to give you the Firewall rating of a node. What a worthless echo.

The Next problem comes in turn 5 where Netcat defaults on a Pilot Aircraft test. You can't Default on that skill. Complete failure of basic rules. It also skips the step where, upon entry to the node, Netcat does a Matrix Perception test to figure out which icon she needs to interact with to control anything.


Problem 3 is the Rigger. There is no written exception for the mandatory Vehicle Test each turn to keep a drone from going out of control with a jumped-in rigger. It does say "essentially 'becomes' the drone" which could imply a negation of the mandatory control action, but could just as easily imply all sorts of foolishness.

Problem 4 has already been addressed. No admin account deletions? Not supported by the rules or logic in any way. Sure it protects players as much as NPCs, but maybe there should be some mention of this in the text.

Problem 5 "resists with his System + Armor + Hacking, and gets 7 hits, dodging again." What. Full dodge is Firewall + Response + Hacking. They wrote the damn rules and can't remember what's dodge and what's soak?


Every part of this thing is shameful as a rules demo.
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Last edited by Youth on Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kot
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Joined: 19 Dec 2010
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Location: Bricktown, Poland

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

There's an easy way to cut on dice-rolling. Just buy hits for all non-NPC actions, like programs, agents, nodes, and such. Only when it's a Spider, or black IC, rolls come into play. And only if you're comfortable with the possibility of rolling a one-hit-kill with an attack program for the IC/Spider in question. If not, just buy hits. That way the only rolls you'll see are your player's.
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TheFlatline
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Joined: 30 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That's not even a solution to the above problem. You've still got 30+ rolls of dice to achieve one thing.

Matrix is broken. It needs to be taken either in a granular or abstract approach. If you want hollywood hacking, you abstract by eliminating individual programs and instead introducing stunt hacks, which your software and hardware modify your dice pool (Programs give you bonuses, hardware is a hard cap on your dice pool size). As you accumulate net successes over the system, you spend them to force access/damage ICE/whatever. Getting root access is expensive, getting a single file off the system is easier. The enemy system does the same. It's ICE is programmed to want to do different things in order. Damage the icon/hacker, elevate security, summon a spider, or shut the system down. The rest of the underlying mechanics of *how* it works is technobabble and not listed out as rules.

Sure it's almost an entirely separate sub-game, but it'll take less than 5 minutes to hack a system and in the mean time you can have the rest of the party running around doing shit. Plus, it feels like the hacker is doing something *different*.

The other end of the spectrum is Frank's Ends of the Matrix, which is a lot more granular but fits into the mechanics of SR4 better.
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