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 Post subject: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 6:38 pm 
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Another long-overdue issue that needs general airing. Again, from the decking notes:

P) Hacking pool should have more basis on skill or attributes
1. (Int + Wil + MPCP/2)/3
2. (Int + Wil + Computer skill)/3
3. (Int+MPCP+Skill)/n, where n is either 2 or 3.
4. Wil/2 + Int (Yes, that means your whole Int score.)


Even this I think may not go far enough, especially if we start changing the Math SPU or giving even more importance to HP, such as allowing dynamic creation of operational utilities, and making the HP-for-DF trade non-optional.

Thoughts?


Last edited by Eyeless Blond on Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:38 pm 
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I vote for option 2 - (Int + Wil + Computer skill)/3

Have it capped by MPCP or MPCP *2


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 05, 2008 9:40 pm 
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Well, voting is less important than persuading, and in this case we'll have to do a good job of persuading, because the second option is a bit of a departure from everything else we've seen.

Then again, having external hardware figure into initiative dice and pool is just as unusual anywhere else in the rules, and many people *have* been attempting to make the decker more important than his deck. Those may be especially important now, as we've also been discussing ways to make hacking pool the equalizer between a high-skill low-deck decker and the low-skill high-deck script kiddie. That's why I'm in favor of option 2, and without any caps.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:06 am 
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Wow, platinum is fast. I barely even mentioned changing hacking pool in the improvised utilities thread and he already has a whole thread going on it!

Basing hacking pool solely on attributes is certainly not a deviation. Drawing on an external device for your pool means that currently it is a deviation, and the only pool which can change depending on external circumstances. Now granted, putting a skill in would make it the only pool which draws on a skill, but I think having a skill in a pool is a little less weird than having an external device.

Curiously, the book does not list what pools represent, just that they let you bring in more dice when your skills and attributes are not enough.

My concern with putting the Computer skill into the pool is that the computer skill already is the be-all and end-all of decking. So I would not be comfortable making it any more important than it already is. Instead I would consider the following:

1) Another skill, perhaps 'improvisational programming' or something like that. Hacking pool is really only relevant to when you're figuring stuff out on the fly, adapting to your environment, so having something that emphasis your ability to adapt would make sense. This would be a little odd because it has the potential of being a skill that serves little other purpose other than to increase a pool, however, which means it's still an outlier.

2) Somebody suggested making datajacks in grades, so grade 1 is your .2 essence everybody's got one datajack with limited I/O and everything else. Grade 3 is your spanking hot broadband shunt directly into your neural cortex. If we go with this, I think this would be the piece of ware which makes the most sense to put into the pool. It also makes being a decker a bit more pricey in regards to essence and makes a clear distinction between the 'on the side' decker and a dedicated one.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 9:28 am 
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We could always make it double-weird and go with (Int+MPCP+Skill)/n, where n is either 2 or 3.

Not awake enough yet to think about it properly, just tossing that out there.

Edit: the more I think about it, the more I dislike using skill to determine part of pool. Not doing it suddenly leaves the problem unfixed again, but pool is a primary area where attributes demonstrate their involvement in the whole process, so adding it in adds legitimacy to the "attributes are underrepresented" debate, which I'm trying to avoid unearthing again.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:36 am 
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nezumi wrote:
Wow, platinum is fast. I barely even mentioned changing hacking pool in the improvised utilities thread and he already has a whole thread going on it!
Um, thanks, but I'm not platinum. :) I've also had this idea kicking around for two years now; it's only now that we're closing up most of the fundamental issues that I can bring these old issues back to the forefront.

Quote:
Basing hacking pool solely on attributes is certainly not a deviation. Drawing on an external device for your pool means that currently it is a deviation, and the only pool which can change depending on external circumstances. Now granted, putting a skill in would make it the only pool which draws on a skill, but I think having a skill in a pool is a little less weird than having an external device.
I certainly think so, but there is more canon precedent for external devices affecting pool than a skill.

Quote:
My concern with putting the Computer skill into the pool is that the computer skill already is the be-all and end-all of decking. So I would not be comfortable making it any more important than it already is. Instead I would consider the following:

1) Another skill, perhaps 'improvisational programming' or something like that. Hacking pool is really only relevant to when you're figuring stuff out on the fly, adapting to your environment, so having something that emphasis your ability to adapt would make sense. This would be a little odd because it has the potential of being a skill that serves little other purpose other than to increase a pool, however, which means it's still an outlier.
The skill thing would really make sense if Decking becomes the primary decking skill, and Computer B/R becomes the primary programming skill (and thus the maximum amount you can invest in an improvised utility). If that idea is approved, then the actual vanilla Computer skill massively diminishes in importance.

Quote:
2) Somebody suggested making datajacks in grades, so grade 1 is your .2 essence everybody's got one datajack with limited I/O and everything else. Grade 3 is your spanking hot broadband shunt directly into your neural cortex. If we go with this, I think this would be the piece of ware which makes the most sense to put into the pool. It also makes being a decker a bit more pricey in regards to essence and makes a clear distinction between the 'on the side' decker and a dedicated one.
That gives us another VCR situation, where higher-rated datajacks provide both response increase and pool, which is kind of what we objected to with the VCR. If we're doing that, we can just keep the separate Math SPU and have that add to pool.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 11:37 am 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
We could always make it double-weird and go with (Int+MPCP+Skill)/n, where n is either 2 or 3.

Not awake enough yet to think about it properly, just tossing that out there.

Edit: the more I think about it, the more I dislike using skill to determine part of pool. Not doing it suddenly leaves the problem unfixed again, but pool is a primary area where attributes demonstrate their involvement in the whole process, so adding it in adds legitimacy to the "attributes are underrepresented" debate, which I'm trying to avoid unearthing again.


Or Option 4 then:

Pool = Will/2 + Int
(Yes, that means your whole Int score.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 12:18 pm 
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For the datajack idea - I don't think the datajack would ADD response increase. Currently though, I can't imagine the datajack isn't a bottleneck. For .2 essence, how real of a simulation should you really be expecting? How fast a response should you be expecting? I have difficulty imagining that Joe's Hole-in-the-Head Datajack Emporium used $800, .2 essence datajack can keep up with a fairlight excalibur.

So a higher-rated datajack would allow you to take advantage of the response increase offered by a higher-rated deck. It would also help for I/O purposes if you're uploading or downloading stuff from headware and could probably offer more router ports and other nifty things. It by itself wouldn't make the fellow any more useful though, it just lets him use useful things like his deck better.

If we split skills, I could see having the otherwise pretty useless Computer skill be part of hacking pool (or Computer B/R, since that's programming), and I could accept hardware designed specifically to let people take advantage of the power of the matrix (like I described above - if you have a rating 1 datajack your fairlight excalibur might as well be a Radio Shack 'U-Bild-It' starter deck).

The former means real deckers know how to program and know how the computer works. The latter means real deckers have the pricey technology that puts their brain at higher risk, but lets them move at the speed of the electron. EBs idea is probably more balanced though, since those two skills would otherwise look like they're ONLY there to make deckers spend more karma.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 1:39 pm 
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I have two different thoughts on this issue based on direction we take.

Scenario 1: using computer skill
The more you guys have outlined that computer determining hacking skill when it is already used for base operations, does seem wrong.
What I think is equally wrong is MPCP also determining the pool. A faster computer does not make a better hacker. It just lets you run better programs.

So if computer skill is in the process then it should be determined by stats only. Int + Will /2.

For those who were thinking will/2 + int. my question is why does the hacking pool have to be so inflated?

If the inflation is to ofset dice allocated to surpressing IC ... I think we might need to change that. more on that depending on responses.

Scenario 2: a system that runs utilities without computer skill.
It is well known that I find using that computer skill + utilities creates an artificially high TN.

If computer skill was factored into the hacking pool, then all the TN's can be lower and having a high computer skill does still have an effect.

Hacking pool actually has a use rather than adding a tonne of extra dice against inflated target numbers. This also works similar to how sorcery works.

Int + computer + will / 3.


I have alot more to flush out in another thread.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:00 pm 
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I'm not really sure why Willpower would be in there, though. Moreover, it substantially increases the value of an already-valuable attribute for Deckers, and guarantees the mediocrity of even high-skill medium-Intelligence deckers.

I'm not sure how big a problem any of that is, but I still don't have time to really think about it. Those are just the things that leapt to mind.

Edit: more people posted! I meant this in response to Eyeless's will/2 + int proposal.

~J

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:36 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
I'm not really sure why Willpower would be in there, though. Moreover, it substantially increases the value of an already-valuable attribute for Deckers, and guarantees the mediocrity of even high-skill medium-Intelligence deckers.

I'm not sure how big a problem any of that is, but I still don't have time to really think about it. Those are just the things that leapt to mind.

Edit: more people posted! I meant this in response to Eyeless's will/2 + int proposal.
Well Willpower is all about being able to focus despite distractions, and the description of Hot ASIST is, well, pretty much all about the distractions.

As for "it makes Willpower attribute too important," well tell that to mages and Spell Pool. :p


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 2:45 pm 
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I was thinking more of Intelligence, which is now added without reduction. Willpower's valuable, but it's not "top-tier" yet, so while I'm not keen on adding stuff to it it's not as bad.

Though actually maybe it's worse, because it's increasing the number of "can't do without" attributes and the degree to which they are such.

Hm. More thoughts later, I really need to get back to work now.

~J

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 3:02 pm 
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Platinum wrote:
For those who were thinking will/2 + int. my question is why does the hacking pool have to be so inflated?
The inflation is because:

1) Hacking pool is used in everything a decker does. Deckers don't get a separate pool for dodging in addition to their normal operational pool, like mages/riggers get. There are a number of proposals that further create demand for HP: the HP-for-DF rule, supressing IC as you mentioned, the improvised utilities proposal, etc etc.

2) At the moment, the math SPU grants a huge +3 to hacking pool, the cerebral booster a +1, and the encephalon +2. There exists the potential to get rid of many of these, the Math SPU's especially, as it's mostly a patch job to keep HP from going too low.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2008 4:43 pm 
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I dont have time to give a full response but I will say I think that cyberware should NOT be a required part of balancing decking ... unless you are talking datajack. The rest (SPU, encephalon, cerebral booster), should be helpful but not a huge part of it.

Having played a lot of SR2 I found SR3 to be an actual improvement when it came to how much hacking pool you had. It was a net reduction that was very welcome. I'm curious what exactly is the specific need for more hacking pool and why can't it be handled in a different fashion rather than changing canon?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:03 am 
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I would tend to agree with feral. The exception being, if you are planning on taking your decker a particular direction (such as running a ton of agents, just having a super-duper deck, etc.) I think it would make a lot of sense to have cyber that gives specialized benefits (so the encephalon would allow you to issue more orders to different agents or something).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:54 pm 
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nezumi wrote:
For the datajack idea - I don't think the datajack would ADD response increase. Currently though, I can't imagine the datajack isn't a bottleneck. For .2 essence, how real of a simulation should you really be expecting? How fast a response should you be expecting? I have difficulty imagining that Joe's Hole-in-the-Head Datajack Emporium used $800, .2 essence datajack can keep up with a fairlight excalibur.

Shadowtech had datajack's rated from 1-4 (ess .2 - .35 and up) where the higher rated models allowed greater I/O to take advantage of the 'Excalibur. Though it isn't explicitly stated, a decker could probably put in multiple DJ's for higher I/O which is a popular SR meme.

As for hacking pool, SR1 & 2 only had 2 dice from the Math SPU. Otherwise, cyberware gave task pool dice but these would have less utility.
I'd also like to throw in a die or 2 for using a keyboard as opposed to DNI and its speed advantages.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 15, 2008 3:24 pm 
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nezumi wrote:
I would tend to agree with feral. The exception being, if you are planning on taking your decker a particular direction (such as running a ton of agents, just having a super-duper deck, etc.) I think it would make a lot of sense to have cyber that gives specialized benefits (so the encephalon would allow you to issue more orders to different agents or something).
Well, unless you wanted to make an encephalon or math SPU an implicit barrier-to-entry, like a VCR is to rigging.

Link wrote:
I'd also like to throw in a die or 2 for using a keyboard as opposed to DNI and its speed advantages.

Hm, a tradeoff between keyboard and DNI? How could you justify that flavor-wise, though?


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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 3:54 am 
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Eyeless Blond wrote:
Link wrote:
I'd also like to throw in a die or 2 for using a keyboard as opposed to DNI and its speed advantages.

Hm, a tradeoff between keyboard and DNI? How could you justify that flavor-wise, though?

My instinct was to give a decker a reason to use a keyboard which I consider a classic SR theme. Technical reasons could be that the keyboard allows greater customisation of input at the expense of the speed advantage of DNI... Then there's that cool cyberware from GitS where the decker's fingers divide again and again to maximise keyboard performance.
I also would like to implement a game advantage for the essence expense of a C2 deck.


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sat Feb 16, 2008 7:52 am 
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I would tend to say the keyboard is just associated with cold ASIST or tortoise mode, is incidental, and can be replaced with a 'mental' keyboard (just like the virtual dashboard) which would let you type in thin air for the same benefits. The normal keyboard is great for flavor, but not great for runners actually hauling their butts through a secure facility.


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:57 pm 
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I'm having a hard time seeing keyboards as a decker meme in SR anyway. Do you mean the fiction? The rulebooks go on about how keyboards and mice are quaint and noone uses them, and DNI is the wave of the future. Or are you confusing it with the old-school hacker meme?

C2 decks will likely have to be changed up a little too. Oh, that's another one for the cyberware list!


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 3:06 pm 
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Poop, forgot my matrix book at work. However I'm pretty sure in the thing I quoted on Cold ASIST it specifically mentions most people use a keyboard in that case. Only in Hot ASIST do you forego it completely.


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:05 pm 
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Matrix p 17 wrote:
In the world of Shadowrun, manually accessing a computer via a keyboard and monitor or other low-tech tools is considered quaint. Most users prefer to access computer systems by creating a direct link to their brain, which allows for high-speed mental control. To interface one's brain with a computer, one must first have some way of linking the two together. Two devices may be used to create this link: trodes and datajacks.
So, uh, no, it's definitely the "keyboards are for suckers" meme. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:33 pm 
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Read the section on cold ASIST.


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2008 4:55 pm 
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Oh, wait, I see what you're talking about, the section about pure DNI:

Matrix, p. 18 wrote:
Even with a datajack, most users still use keyboards, touchpads and other manual controls when interfacing with a computer. Many expert users consider any manual tools to be a crutch, however, and perfer to run by "pure DNI"--engagind all their commands and operations through mental input.

A user who runs by pure DNI uses his Intelligence attribute as his Matrix Reaction. Physical impulses don't apply to a user running pure DNI.

Additionally, a pure DNI user can achieve significantly faster speeds if they are also operating with a hot ASIST interface (see below). In game terms, the user receives +2 to his Matrix Reaction and +1d6 Matrix Initiative.

Switching from pure DNI to standard partial-manual mode (and back again) requires only a Simple Action. The user's Matrix Reaction and Initiative will not be modified until the beginning of the next Combat Turn, however.
In other words, keyboards are for the lame; pure DNI is the way of the l33t.

Of course, a page later the rules go on about how you take a +4 TN modifier to all Matrix actions if you don't have your RAS Override on (and thus must be using pure DNI), so we have a bit of a contradiction there.


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 5:20 pm 
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The other option, which just occurred to me, is that we do the same thing for deckers that we do for riggers and mages, and give them access to two sets of pools.

In other words, we give them hacking pool ans we give them a Matrix form of Combat Pool, which I imagine would look identical to Astral Combat Pool because it's kind of the same idea. Yes it means that Int is double-counted, just like it is for riggers and mages. How about that?


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 7:37 pm 
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It adds complexity... But for what benefit? In the case of riggers, the difference is obvious. Mages not quite so much, but sufficiently so it sort of makes sense. What's the reasoning for a matrix combat pool?


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 7:58 pm 
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Um, for exactly the same reasons as for riggers and mages?

Riggers have Control Pool for rigging actions, plus they have Combat Pool for when they get drawn into [vehicle] combat.

Mages have Spell Pool for spellcasting actions, plus they have [Astral] Combat Pool for when they get drawn into [astral] combat.

Sams have Expert Chipjack Drivers and Encephalons for pool dice for chipped skills, plus they have Combat Pool for when they get drawn into combat.

Deckers have Hacking Pool for decking actions, plus they have... the same Hacking Pool for when they get drawn into [cyber] combat?

See where I'm going with this?


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 11:27 pm 
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But cybercombat uses a completely different set of rules than any other form of combat, and it's not about actual combat maneuvers and the like, but about code-slinging.


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 12:49 am 
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Right, and Astral combat is all about moving your arms and keeping your footing... except it has nothing to do with that, because you don't have a body, and the basic considerations of the body, like mass and momentum and movement, don't apply in astral space.

And Vehicle combat is all about... no wait you don't have a body there either.

Mages, sams and riggers all have two sets of pools, precisely so they can dip into one without affecting the other, and all have other things that they may need to be doing in-combat that might distract them from combat. Just because the guys who wrote Matrix combat didn't have a clue, and decided to use completely different mechanics from astral, vehicular, and meatspace combat doesn't mean the considerations are all that different.


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 5:42 pm 
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On further consideration, I guess I agree that deckers don't really need a separate cybercombat pool.

I am interested in knowing if everyone is comfortable with a non-cyberware piece of hardware like the MPCP being such an important determinant for hacking pool. Currently we have:

Hacking Pool = (Int + MPCP)/3 + Math SPU (up to 3) + Encephalon (up to 2; very expensive) + Cerebral Booster (Rating 2 gives +1 Task Pool/HP)

...so your MPCP is just as important as your Int when determining hacking pool.

BTW, are we also comfortable with so many cyberware mods to hacking pool? I know that hacking pool is used damn near everywhere (HP to DF, HP to suppress IC, HP for cybercombat, HP for computing/decking tests), and with all these mods your typical chargen decker has an HP of 6-10, possibly 11-12 if he really spends money and is allowed to break certain chargen options. Is that all right?


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 7:08 pm 
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I'm an awful lot more comfortable with the MPCP's role than I am with the Math SPU's role; I guess one question that needs to be considered is how much Hacking Pool we really want people to end up with.

I can't remember ever actually seen an Encephalon in play due to its massive cost, but also due to the existence of the Math SPU and the fact that the most critical use for Hacking Pool is to exchange for DF, a benefit which tops out at 6.

~J

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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 11:11 am 
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I think we really need to first ask, when should hacking pool be applicable? Like Kage and Stumps have pointed out, it's basically free dice (and this is part of why Decking TNs are so grossly inflated, with 6-8 being average).

If we eliminate the hacking pool and really do only include a cybercombat pool, this would fix that problem.


I was considering also where the pool should come from. My one idea is maybe have an auxiliary skill, like Cybercombat or Architecture or something, ONLY feeds to your hacking/cybercombat pool. However, I'm not sure I especially like the idea myself (even if it gives you another skill to stick deckers with).


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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 1:06 pm 
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Part of the problem is that it's often unclear how wide the vision of a given rule is; for someone running just the core book Hacking Pool is tiny, especially at chargen (CMT Avatar's MPCP of 7 plus Int 6 gives floor of 13/3, or all of 4 dice at chargen; astoundingly, both sample deckers actually manage to reach this number); the rules for hacking-pool-for-DF more or less subtract six points from the size of the pool as soon as they're introduced. Regardless, I think the decking TNs are high because programs reduce TNs by up to -12; pool is barely a blip on the radar (it doubles expected successes, yawn).

Especially if some of the 'ware that gives pool is toned down, I'm not at all convinced that hacking pools contribute meaningfully to the TN inflation you describe.

~J

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 Post subject: Re: Hacking Pool Issues
PostPosted: Mon Dec 07, 2009 10:48 pm 
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I'm not even sure that 'ware needs to be tuned down at all; the idea that 99% of "real" deckers have a Math SPU isn't any more repulsive to me than the idea that 99% of "real" riggers have a VCR, 99% of "real" mages use Sorcery, or 99% of "real" sams have a smartlink and wired reflexes.


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