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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:57 pm 
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So I was thinking about the different systems and archetypes, and how Riggers are so much better integrated with the game in general than Deckers are, and it got me thinking about how to some degree the usability of a current Shadowrun rule system is correlated to how directly it integrates into ordinary combat. This got me thinking about why, for example, I could go and build enemy drone networks and have hostile Riggers and everything and actually use them while feeling like I'm making good use of everyone's time, while the stars need to align to make me feel ok about throwing down a security decker—any sort of real complexity or depth in in-play decking, even for me, is basically just taking away from the rest of the game. Then I realized: decking is the stuff that happens in between stuff getting done. Perhaps more importantly, that's all it is—the team may not necessarily be waiting for the decker (if the decker is working a few steps ahead of them, say), but if something comes up and the decker slugs it out with some IC or a security decker or the Mysterious Cyber-God, they will be. Even when the decker is contributing to combat, like cracking sentry guns to use them against security forces, the bit they do is the bit that doesn't involve sentry guns shooting things.

So the question is, how can deckers integrate into combat? Rob Boyle presumably watched GitS: Stand Alone Complex and decided he had his answer: wireless everywhere, and your cyber's on it! Unfortunately, the world he put together simply made no sense, and so it was dumb. Along came Frank Trollman and his Ends of the Matrix, in which he realized that a key question that SR4 failed to ask is "why be connected?". His answer: "because you're getting something big out of it". Unfortunately, possibly as a result of trying to embrace the overall shape of the SR4 vision of the matrix, his answer for "something big" was "your poor unprotected brain is vulnerable to haxxoring", and so once again it was dumb.

But I got to thinking about this, and though the details are potentially treacherous, I think the basic concept could be redeemable. Why would your smartlink be connected to the outside world? If it's being fed data from it! Where are you going to get precisely the type and quality of data you need in order to make a smartlink perform meaningfully better (better enough for an additional bonus, say)? Inside a facility you control! Who controls facilities and also has people with smartlinks walking around inside them ready to use them? Corporations! Who performs illegal acts on corporate property? Corporations! Um, I mean, Shadowrunners! What member of Shadowrunner teams has been feeling marginalized due to their primary roles really being orthogonal from the rest of the team? The decker!

So yeah. Potentially treacherous, especially in terms of the mechanical details (in particular, it's unclear how a decker should target a particular guard—forcing spacial metaphor on the matrix just gets weird, especially if you then admit the possibility of a security decker showing up to the party), and it'd require more thorough fleshing out of how Deckers work and a more well-thought-out set of tradeoffs to going with RAS override or not at a given time, but this fits in well with my (not-really-detailed-enough-to-quite-be-called-a) proposal of expanded cyberware customization.

The best part is, this really does dodge the "why be connected" question—a facility that realizes it has a decker all up in its business can disconnect, but that's still a win for the team because all of a sudden security gets worse in a bunch of ways.

More thoughts later.

~J

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:37 pm 
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Been there, done that :)

Maybe if I had called it something more outlandish than MMO/RPG you'd have remembered it? :D


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:11 pm 
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Every single day, I try to forget. :grinbig:

(Alternate answer: I'm training to be in management by shooting down all of your ideas, then proposing them a year later as my own. Though you lose points compared to my proposal for lack of a veiled There Will Be Blood reference ;) )

That said, though I need to take another good, hard look at your proposal, it seems meaningfully different. I was envisioning a much more limited system, more or less purely a security apparatus, which might not even be active under ordinary circumstances; I'll see if I can flesh out the idea to give a clearer picture of what I was thinking of.

~J

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:36 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
That said, though I need to take another good, hard look at your proposal, it seems meaningfully different. I was envisioning a much more limited system, more or less purely a security apparatus, which might not even be active under ordinary circumstances

Actually the whole MMO/RPG thing is an optional security add-on. Specifically it's an (optional) modification to a host's Index subsystem that adds really detailed geolocation to everything; the idea is that it places Matrix iconography into your field of view so seamlessly that you can run around without a RAS Override and feel no ill effects, because your Matrix Icon and your meatspace body are in the exact same relative position in cyber/realspace. The benefits mean that at least all the opposition (and likely nearly all bystanders) will be Matrix-connected in that particular area, giving deckers new options such as Blackhammer/Blackout-ing guards, or messing with distraction TNs or whatever.

I set up its flavor text to be a technological precursor to SR4's AR, and to have significant limitations in comparison. It only applies within specially modified hosts, and only in physical areas that have been outfitted to be MMO/RPG compatible, so it can be as rare as the GM wants it to be (every run can be MMO/RPG-enabled, or it can be as rare as cyberzombies). There's no SR4/FrankTrollman-esque magical hacking beams, nor can you hack individual objects: the host/slave paradigm is still in effect.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 4:09 pm 
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Eyeless Blond wrote:
Kagetenshi wrote:
That said, though I need to take another good, hard look at your proposal, it seems meaningfully different. I was envisioning a much more limited system, more or less purely a security apparatus, which might not even be active under ordinary circumstances

Actually the whole MMO/RPG thing is an optional security add-on.

But the benefits are given to activities "rang[ing] from office work to large-scale naval shipbuilding".

Quote:
Specifically it's an (optional) modification to a host's Index subsystem that adds really detailed geolocation to everything; the idea is that it places Matrix iconography into your field of view so seamlessly that you can run around without a RAS Override and feel no ill effects, because your Matrix Icon and your meatspace body are in the exact same relative position in cyber/realspace. The benefits mean that at least all the opposition (and likely nearly all bystanders) will be Matrix-connected in that particular area, giving deckers new options such as Blackhammer/Blackout-ing guards, or messing with distraction TNs or whatever.

Right. Aside from the bystander thing, it basically means that the guards are Matrix-connected, which they wouldn't be in my proposal. Instead, their cyberware (well, some of it; also probably some non-cyber devices) would be, so that the camera down the hall or the ultrasound emitters on the ceiling are relaying information to a guard's smartlink making it work better (or, in a lot of cases, probably making it work like a real smartlink while actually being cheaper and having fewer cyber components or something).

In particular, I still think the use of the overlapping spacial metaphor is highly treacherous; it's both hard to come up with a justification for why it should be necessary and hard to come up with an explanation for how it's possible.

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I set up its flavor text to be a technological precursor to SR4's AR

I think we've found our difference :grinbig: (I kid, but my proposal didn't include a shared augmented/alternate reality-space—I mean, smartlinks are augmented reality, but not like icons floating in some multiuser virtual space).

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nor can you hack individual objects: the host/slave paradigm is still in effect.

Curiously enough, my proposal is substantially about hacking individual objects (but probably not the way you meant it—the effects I'm thinking of most closely resemble the MIJI rules, in the sense of attempting to degrade performance, inject spurious signals, or seize control of operation).

~J

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:21 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
Eyeless Blond wrote:
Kagetenshi wrote:
That said, though I need to take another good, hard look at your proposal, it seems meaningfully different. I was envisioning a much more limited system, more or less purely a security apparatus, which might not even be active under ordinary circumstances

Actually the whole MMO/RPG thing is an optional security add-on.

But the benefits are given to activities "rang[ing] from office work to large-scale naval shipbuilding".
That was mostly meant as flavor text. The primary benefit to an MMO/RPG system, from the point of view of a shadowrunner, is that the guards will all be networked, which provides the -2 TN to SUT (which we may or may not have to revisit as a skill) and instant access to security cameras and other Matrix-enabled functions.

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In particular, I still think the use of the overlapping spacial metaphor is highly treacherous; it's both hard to come up with a justification for why it should be necessary and hard to come up with an explanation for how it's possible.
Well, as to why and how, that's where the whole Unified ASIST idea comes into play. The main idea is that ASIST works by overwriting your body's sensory data with wholly artificial stimuli; what MMO/RPG does is overwrite your body's sensory data with [your body's sensory data +/- extra], where the extra blends seamlessly with your body (eg. no lag) and corresponds with it, so Matrix objects line up with real-world objects. It's an adaptive HUD that directly links with your senses in real-time, which when you think about it is really complicated.

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Quote:
nor can you hack individual objects: the host/slave paradigm is still in effect.

Curiously enough, my proposal is substantially about hacking individual objects (but probably not the way you meant it—the effects I'm thinking of most closely resemble the MIJI rules, in the sense of attempting to degrade performance, inject spurious signals, or seize control of operation).

Ugh, hacking individual objects and MIJI? I think you just fused the two things I most have about SR3 and SR4, into one unholy mass. :D

((More to come; I do have something more than a glib snipe to respond to this, but not right now.))


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 6:52 pm 
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Well, I think the "not in the way you meant it" part covers the part you're worried about—again, the details are very rough in my mind, but for the Smartlink example, I envision the smartlink being connected to the system and receiving information to give some sort of bonus not ordinarily received, probably improved targeting data; the decker would be able to interfere with that data to reduce the bonus, attempt to introduce bad data to create actual penalties, or at the extreme basically take control of the feed to the 'ware. The consequences of that last one would probably depend on the details of the 'ware and the system, as well as some design decisions; I don't know whether, for example, a decker would be able to induce a typical connected smartlink to issue an "open fire" or "eject magazine" command.

So I'm not envisioning connected gear being or containing a host; it has a much more similar role to a drone in a network when being attacked.

(That said, although I like many aspects of the idea, I'm very up in the air as to whether or not it truly has the Shadowrun nature.)

~J

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:22 pm 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
So I'm not envisioning connected gear being or containing a host; it has a much more similar role to a drone in a network when being attacked.


Yeah, you're definitely coming at this from the rigger's POV: cyberware as drone instead of slave node, cyberware connected independently of the human body it's attached to, MIJI-like rules for interference, etc. That's all plausible, but it's closer to, well, the rigger's game, not the decker's. We really don't need the rigger to be more powerful; he's already the SR-equivalent of the D&D cleric: able to substitute for any other character, possibly more than one, and in some circumstances do their job better than they can.

I'm especially dubious of this idea of a person's cyberware connecting to things independent of its host body. That whole idea smacks of SR4: cyberware in SR3 doesn't connect to anything else except the person, unless it's a datajack, and absolutely nothing connects wirelessly. I mean, sure, people are caring less and less about their privacy, but I sincerely doubt anyone wants a fat pipe linked directly to their unprotected brain, especially in the 2060s where Black Hammer has been around for forty years. I was already nervous about the verisimilitude of giving everyone cheap cyberterminals with radio/optical laser links to connect to a building's host while on the job, let alone just linking your 'ware in the clear to whatever black hat wants to take it over.

Anyway, under my idea people and gear are not themselves hosts; they're still Icons logged on to the host's network. Specifically they're connected to the Matrix via cheap-o portable cyberterminals with some sort of wireless link--I prefer the idea of optical connections through the facility's light fixtures, a technology still in its infancy now but not by 2060--and thus they have their own Matrix Icons, and are vulnerable in the same ways all Matrix Icons are vulnerable.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:07 pm 
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Eyeless Blond wrote:
Kagetenshi wrote:
So I'm not envisioning connected gear being or containing a host; it has a much more similar role to a drone in a network when being attacked.


Yeah, you're definitely coming at this from the rigger's POV: cyberware as drone instead of slave node, cyberware connected independently of the human body it's attached to, MIJI-like rules for interference, etc. That's all plausible, but it's closer to, well, the rigger's game, not the decker's. We really don't need the rigger to be more powerful; he's already the SR-equivalent of the D&D cleric: able to substitute for any other character, possibly more than one, and in some circumstances do their job better than they can.

Well, right. I mean, I clearly take inspiration from the MIJI rules (or at least how they would work if Broadcast Encryption didn't more or less make them the J rules), but the idea was that this would be a Matrix-protocol system most naturally targetable by Deckers.

Quote:
I'm especially dubious of this idea of a person's cyberware connecting to things independent of its host body. That whole idea smacks of SR4

You think so? I'm not entirely clear on the details of the SR4 Matrix's design (in particular, I've never read anything SR4 outside of the core book unless you count System Failure (which totally counts but doesn't apply), and I think the detailed cyberware-hacking stuff was in Unwired), but I thought it was set up so that each person basically has their own tiny network.

Quote:
I mean, sure, people are caring less and less about their privacy, but I sincerely doubt anyone wants a fat pipe linked directly to their unprotected brain, especially in the 2060s where Black Hammer has been around for forty years.

(Mostly-irrelevant historical note: Black Hammer is only confirmed to exist in 2055, though I think FastJack makes reference to using it or a variant a year or two before.)

Sure, I agree, but I wasn't envisioning that the cyberware+brain system would become a general-purpose network; what a decker could do would be limited to what the cyberware is designed to do in response to incoming signals. Part of what this buys is that there's a good relation between the magnitude of the advantage that connected cyberware would give and the magnitude of the risk the user would run. In the smartlink example, the smartlink has no good reason to be relaying arbitrary ASIST to the user; it would be receiving targeting information and using that to provide more accurate or faster calculations when doing what it already does, that is, displaying crosshairs where a weapon is pointed (and, if my belief as to what the Limited Simsense Rig does is correct, providing haptic simfeedback to assist aim). It's not receiving ASIST, so there's no route to Black Hammer someone. As I said, I'm not even sure if this would be a valid avenue for something like causing the smartlinked gun to fire or eject its magazine.

An example of a more-power-more-risk application might be a connection to something like Wired Reflexes or Move-By-Wire, allowing the system to basically instruct the guard's body to move in response to processed sensor data and offering something like a bonus to Reaction or a Dodge Pool or the like; the tradeoff is that since the system is accepting and relaying movement instructions, a successfully-intruded decker would be able to control the target's movement. I suspect that with enough thought applications that involve accepting actual ASIST data and thus opening oneself to Black Hammering will emerge, but those would presumably be motivated by a bunch of other benefits in proportion to the risk.

Quote:
I was already nervous about the verisimilitude of giving everyone cheap cyberterminals with radio/optical laser links to connect to a building's host while on the job, let alone just linking your 'ware in the clear to whatever black hat wants to take it over.

Well, two points. First off, this is really what I mean about it being a security apparatus; I'm not envisioning a guard being connected under normal circumstances at typical facilities, and the system might not even be active except when enabled during security incidents. The tradeoff being made is improvement in some combination of physical combat, tactical, and awareness capabilities in exchange for the risk that a decker is present, is capable of cracking into the network, and is going to start doing nasty things there. If the system is obviously being penetrated it would presumably be shut down (if possible), but that leaves security without any of the advantages it provided.

Second off, I wasn't really envisioning it being "in the clear"; I'm still not sure what I want the intrusion process to look like, but it obviously needed something.

That said, as mentioned I am still uncertain as to whether the concept has the Shadowrun nature; it's a really neat idea in the abstract, I think, but I'm worried that it might be high-tech in a way that Shadowrun just isn't.

Quote:
Anyway, under my idea people and gear are not themselves hosts

Right, I got that; I brought up gear-as-hosts to indicate the distinction from the SR4 approach. Really, a better way to say it isn't that you can crack the gear/'ware itself, but that you can crack the datastream feeding into it—either degrading it, modifying it, or supplanting it. As a consequence, the specifics of what you can do depend on the specifics of what the datastream consists of; a video feed going to an Image Link could be scrambled, damaged, or altered, whereas if someone actually decides to accept a control feed to their cyberarm you could make them punch themselves in the face, so in some circumstances it can look like full-on 'warehacking. We just get to dodge the question of why on earth someone would make this a basic and default-on capability, because it isn't.

(Thoughts on MMO/RPG hopefully coming soon.)

~J

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 2:07 am 
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Kagetenshi wrote:
Eyeless Blond wrote:
Kagetenshi wrote:
So I'm not envisioning connected gear being or containing a host; it has a much more similar role to a drone in a network when being attacked.


Yeah, you're definitely coming at this from the rigger's POV: cyberware as drone instead of slave node, cyberware connected independently of the human body it's attached to, MIJI-like rules for interference, etc. That's all plausible, but it's closer to, well, the rigger's game, not the decker's. We really don't need the rigger to be more powerful; he's already the SR-equivalent of the D&D cleric: able to substitute for any other character, possibly more than one, and in some circumstances do their job better than they can.

Well, right. I mean, I clearly take inspiration from the MIJI rules (or at least how they would work if Broadcast Encryption didn't more or less make them the J rules), but the idea was that this would be a Matrix-protocol system most naturally targetable by Deckers.

Quote:
I'm especially dubious of this idea of a person's cyberware connecting to things independent of its host body. That whole idea smacks of SR4

You think so? I'm not entirely clear on the details of the SR4 Matrix's design (in particular, I've never read anything SR4 outside of the core book unless you count System Failure (which totally counts but doesn't apply), and I think the detailed cyberware-hacking stuff was in Unwired), but I thought it was set up so that each person basically has their own tiny network.

[...]
That said, as mentioned I am still uncertain as to whether the concept has the Shadowrun nature; it's a really neat idea in the abstract, I think, but I'm worried that it might be high-tech in a way that Shadowrun just isn't.

I think what really bothers me about this take on 'ware-hacking is that it relies on the Decker using rules that are primarily the concern of the Rigger. MIJI rules and the like are the Rigger's territory in the way that Astral rules are the mage's territory and Social rules are the Face's. It's sort of like making rules that let the sam shoot people better... if he uses Aura Reading to read their emotions like a mage. Why use somebody else's rules, when the decker has already had to learn decking? Why not just use decking rules?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 7:38 am 
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Mm. I shall ponder (but first I should really examine the MMO/RPG proposal, even if I flinch every time I think about its name ;) ).

~J

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