You’d think computers in the cyberpunk future would make things a lot faster, right? Then why are most of us sitting around playing with ourselves waiting on the decker?
Im not that kind of decker…
What’s a Decker?
Your Knowledge of the Grid shall be Great!
I’m not entirely sure.
Beware the sacrilege..
You ok lady?
What about let all come into the hacking session, I mean.. all can connect to the network, so why can’t they tag along? I know it would mean the room which they are in while hacking, needs to be secure to some degree or else some one just could go in an slice their throat while they are “spaced out”. And letting the rest of the group tag along doesn’t mean they have to know anything about hacking, in fact it would be great opportunity for the hacker to flash his knowledge of his or her realm.
So basically, like Inception. But with a computer.
Actually, SR4 does go into this, and turns happen on about the same time for hackers as they do for non-hackers, though hackers are generally acting faster then most people, a street samurai is gonna be just as fast. SR4 actually did quite a lot with the matrix, and SR5 will supposedly streamline it a good bit more.
Yeah, I was about to mention the same thing. It’s made even more fun since you can wirelessly hack cyberware in combat if they don’t use the proper protection.
Only thing I could ever think to do was to let the entire party make lesser online avatars so they can join the decker in the extra adventure. They don’t have as much ability as the decker and are essentially reliant on him, but they can still play. Think of the internet now: everyone can use it to an extent, but compared to an actual skilled hacker/techie they can’t do much.
I’ve never played the game, so I don’t really know how it works. But would it be possible to have all characters be Deckers? I’m thinking if they get plugged in and then interact together while inside the Matrix. Would that be possible?
Oreo always shows up and stairs directly into my soul.
my thoughts exactly…she can see me..she knows what i think and judges me :-|
and wanna know something funny…when the video stops to buffer there is a big circle going rotational right and the in the middle another circle of dots doing the same thing…and in several occasion oreo is posing right in the middle and looks at me like bugs bunny in the WB logo ..
I am sure, she is judging everyone: Edible or not! :D
second gm if you have side quests is a solution, to run the side quest while the rest goes on. Or, be creative and run it both at the same time, I find a way to do it in most games I run. hacker fails, no big deal. Its in a big, dystopian future and more likely then not in a big fuck off building with tons of fuckers in it. Your decker fails, so if your story angle is important, you allow the players to find some scientist type fucker in the building to do it for them after some threats or light torture. Golden rule, spoony, I expected you to know that gms can and do alter rules, even on the fly, to suit the needs of a story. If you’re not doing that, you may as well only play prefab adventures with prefab characters, and toss any free thought or creativity out the window.
You COULD have the other players play the enemy programs. But that requires your players to want to secretly kill each other.
I think one of solution would be that the “hacker” or whoever goes inside the computer could, like, project his friends from his memories to fight for or with him, or have the hacker be like a router, modem, for the others and everyone plugs into him and goes inside. Or make speed of the hacker a bit slower, it’d take like 20-30 minutes to get the files instead of some seconds in real life. That way when there’s some kind of wall or something in the internet and the guy inside tries to crack it, others could have a short fight that would tense things up a bit.
This is immediately what I thought of as a solution when he explained the problem, either have the Decker project his friends to help or have everyone have the inherent ability to do basic hacks and join the netrunning by connecting to his deck as well to keep them involved in the action, even if the Decker is more valuable because he is higher skilled in that area.
I guess you could get around it by introducing extremely limited avatars for other players to take over where the Decker is effectively the group-leader. It means the decker gets to embark on his character’s main strength and feel like a badass whilst other players aren’t entirely separated from the action. It also means that there’s a fall-back if the Decker fails at a task too. However it doesn’t deal with the problem of ‘What happens to the adventure if the Decker dies?’ I guess the other avatars have to sacrifice themselves at some form of cost with the aim of keeping the Decker going.
I was thinking something similar, with the decker having programmed AIs to help him (or something similar), that the other players take control of. Especially with the suggestion by Donald, of having them be somewhat disposable.
I think this is a good type of Idea, since everyone can plug into the matrix however the Deckers just do it better than everyone else. It would be like having a high level mage who saved all of that day’s spells for the last epic encounter, all the other characters can do something and help, but the mage (or in this case the Decker) is the one dealing out the massive damage. This also works as a sort of solution for the Decker death by allowing the other players to pull the decker out of the matrix. You could put on a penalty for the failure like the decker is unconscious or sufferes penalties or is unable to use his other abilities. That way the decker at least lives and they can try something else or make their escape.
I like the AI idea, where the Decker projects saved states of his friends to use as defensive units to keep him safe as he does his crap. Maybe to prevent premature death the AI’s could also be used as a backup.
Lets say that a lucky shot by an enemy AI crits the Decker, enough to put him into the single digits. With a conscious action, the Decker can sacrifice one of his defensive units, regain an amount of health based on how much health the defensive AI had, severely wounded AI’s give a piddle amount of health, while full health provide a much greater boon. If it all goes to crap yes we still might have the problem Spoony is referring to, but all in all this at least gives the whole group a chance to play in the digital world.
This is what I came to post, as well. A specialist Decker is, presumably, weaker at everything else physical than all the other characters so he’d basically be tagging along in combat, but once in “cyberspace,” he’d become the hero and all the other guys would be playing support. It’s similar to what Spoony liked about the D&D mages, I think, in that they’re pathetic to start with, but become monsters once they come into their own. I don’t see why you can’t do the same but with cyberspace instead of levels.
Basically, you have an adventure for the whole party, where everyone else amounts to essentially one Decker, with the actual Decker having full power. It’s still a bit unbalanced and gratuitous towards him, but it helps involve people in the game, too. You can say that they don’t leave their bodies completely, hence why they’re not very powerful, if you don’t want the party to ALL go into a coma with soldiers beating on the door, but the whole point is you involve them and make them work for it.
More than that, now the Decker has a double job – get the files AND keep his friends alive in cyberspace. Maybe because they’re partially connected, they don’t “die” when defeated, but are simply ejected, and maybe they can be reconnected with enough effort, but if the Decker dies, the whole adventure fails and everyone gets bounced back to the real world.
I don’t know, I’m no DM, but I figure it’s better to try and involve everybody over trying to lead two combat scenarios at once. Maybe the Spoony One is a genius at storytelling, but I couldn’t keep two simultaneous narratives straight in my head.
I think that’s a good idea. You can even incorporate result of the fight in the real world into the images for Decker as subconscious representations of things that are happening outside. This way you even don’t have to interrupt the fight and the computer adventure is like abstract interpretation of things that happened for real.
You beat me to it. I agree wholeheartedly with the router idea. It’s a futuristic setting full of cybernetics and stuff so why not have everybody capable of entering a system, but the decker is still necessary because the decker is outfitted with very the very specific equipment that gets him into the server, and the party gets into the server via the decker. That solves the problem of the party having nothing to do and it solves the problem of the extreme weak point of an op.
Isn’t that what Aram Fingal did in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank?
“You must remember This, my liver has been Pierced…”
Not to piss on everyone’s enthusiasm, but this does kind of have the drawback of destroying character individuality by basically requiring all of them to adopt Personas (the avatar entities in Shadowrun) or jack in with the Decker.
And given the Mercenary-esque sense of Cyberpunk, it’s also kind of..WEIRD to have a guy basically create program replicas of hardened criminals that he happens to work with.
There are drawbacks to slowing down Matrix-time to fit into Real-Time.
Disabling security is the Decker’s biggest job until they can get to the paydirt.
If a room goes into security lockdown or activates defenses (gas chamber, turrets, drones), you really don’t want things to go at normal speed.
Otherwise, you get this:
Decker: “OK guys. I’m hacking into the security control host for that room. Just hold on!”
*25 minutes later*
“I got the file guys!….Guys?”
*all unconscious, dead, or in custody*
I still say it’s a problem with no real solution beyond abstraction of complicated rules.
I wasn’t really saying slowing down to real time, just slow it down a bit. And those gas chambers etc. could be made into really intense scenarios if, for example, there’s a party of 4, 1 Decker and 3 something, not important, and they’re not fully prepared. Decker logs in and others need to decide quickly are the files inside worth their lives. While the Decker is inside and 3 are defending him, the 3 could split up and 2 of them go shut down some security measures like gas chamber, maybe they know about it and clock is ticking, and 1 stays to protect Decker. This could create some really intense fights if the 1 guy protecting gets overwhelmed but is able to barricade himself barely, he contacts the other guys and says he’s in trouble but those 2 have to shut down the defenses or they all get killed. Maybe they could get there in time to turn the defenses for them, to fight with them, but do they take the risk? Maybe those 2 split up? This is just 1 possible thing that could happen in the 20-30 minutes of in-game time, you just need imagination and maybe bend the rules a bit as I’m not familiar at all with the rules beyond what Spoony told in this video :D That could make some really epic and intence moments.
They could’ve also prepared for stuff like gas chamber or turrets and hacked them before going in.
As for the character individuality, why not create temporary character for them or just project them fully inside the computer? In the end it’s not the thing they’ll be spending most time in, some while in avatar/persona form isn’t that bad and if they’d have some unique powers inside, they could like summon some “viruses” or something like that to fight for them and make them a unique part of the experience and create like a whole new world inside there to explore.
Well, if your players want to do digital warfare as a sub-game within the game, all the power to them; it could be fun. Personally, I’d get rather tired of the side-tracking it creates when on an actual run.
(it’d be great for the Legwork section, where you prepare for action by investigating your target. The Matrix is a big dangerous place, and it’s usually a pain in the ass sitting around waiting for the Decker to dig something up.)
As for creating tension, static defenses and unexpected turns are designed to do that already with the mere threat of that happening. Often, the Decker is the only person who can maybe fix a major screwup, so I’d be wary about doing that unless you intend to force the matter of capturing or killing the player characters.
(reading over the rules again you can technically slow matrix time down as much as you’d like already by adjusting the system’s IO-speed. There’s actually a stat for that.)
Yeah, I came to a similar idea too. Perhaps it could be like the Matrix
where the the party members plug themselves into the Grid, and the
Decker has a role similar to the Operator (except rather than being
outside in the real world while all this is happening he/she is in the
virtual world leading the party). The Decker could be analogous to a
high level wizard that understands programming language and writes their
own on the fly as new problems present themselves, while the other
party members could be armed with pre-written scripts provided by the
Decker or that they acquired on their own outside in the real world
(like a flash drive they stick into a subdermal USB port or something).
an example battle, the Decker would be the Wizard casting crowd
controlling damage spells, utility spells that change the terrain of the
virtual world, buffs/debuffs, etc. while the other players use
pre-written scripts analogous to swords, guns, and wands. This way the
other players can conceivably complete the mission even if the Decker
bites the dust half way through, though the odds would be stacked
against them and they’d have severely limited options of completing the
virtual part of the game.
I’d like to know your thoughts on this, Spoony.
Did you just repost your old post?
No…? I don’t think so. Why? Did you see this post somewhere else or what?
Definitely like the idea of the Decker patching the whole team into cyberspace, with the Decker being the one who gains all of the cool new abilities…
Well we played decker always as “spirit” of character. He/She moves with party and takes over turrets, causes power failures and show decou holocrams with techno-stuff shit which is everywhere. We once had this decker which used little droid which he used as a vessel when they were area which didin’t have matrix around. What comes to battles in matrix I think we never did that. If the decker fail he got some damage to his/her real body and some penalty to dice some time. That’s all I remember for now.
It’s already been mentioned below, but we always envisioned decking to be like the chairs that they use in the ‘Matrix’ movies – everyone plugs in and enters a new cyberlandscape where they all act at the same speed, so instead of having a ‘side session’ where only the Decker gets to act, it would be a normal session but set in a more abstract location. It worked especially well if everyone made a second character sheet to switch between online and offline, particularly in Point Buy systems; in a game where everyone starts out with, say, 50 points while Offline, Online the Decker got 70 and everyone else got 40 so as to be weaker but not completely gimped. It made for a fun scenario, allowing everyone to join in the same plotline and also giving them some freedom to recreate their characters for a little while if they wanted to. It was quite funny to see the hardened, 49% cybernetic hair-trigger Solo character reveal that in his mind he was actually a Rocker who just wanted to create art, but in the offline world events had conspired to take it all away from him….!
well there are a lot ow ways arround it, the first thing is, that in an RPG the book shold be seen as a guideline, not as the only and undenayable truth, how to make deking not that awful, to beggin with simplify it(it only takes 3 hours if the DM wants to do it “right”), also, does it have to be nano second just because the book said so?!, you could realy play it like inception, were for every 4-8 turns the decker has, in the real world there is one combat turn(in the movie it created tension, why shouldn’t it by playing it) , or even have the excuse that the matrix is so huge that the decker has to travel long distances between events, so that you play a turn with the players and another one with the decker and have him the time between turns just traveling “for a long time”.
Also there are a lot of other great ideas, make it so that the decker has projections of the other players arround him, from just beeing “NPCs”(and adapt the combat to it, it also would be a good oportunity for other players to play a hollow recreation of their character), to realy a recreation of what he thinks that his comanions look like(another oportunity to play an exagerated version with how the decker sees his companions), or even have experimental tecnology were the rest of the players have chips in their heads wich helps a part of their concience also transmits to the matrix, but is limited to combat.
If the players are not protecting the decker, but just chilling , have one player playing a support DM with a gideline of rather generic events or a miniquest.
or if you have them playing with the rules, and you want to do the events from the decker in one sitting, have the other players playing card games(from magic to just poker), or even have just a DS with a game of advance wars with a 4 player scenario, so wile one is playing all the others are halfway there, but at the same time not realy that bored.
the solution for the decker messing up can be solved in many ways, from just finding someone that gives you the information with some excuse, like he is an ex worker that was able to flee with the information, some obscure source sell you the information, if the decker dies just before getting the info make him in the last moment of his life realy get the information and the other players get the information from the deckers computer(or even from his head) another idea is having a decker that was to get the information and be able to go in unoticed, this decker could be the new decker the new character for the player who died. Also if you would play the matrix, one on one with the other player , if he died you could even say that he does not die, but that his mind is hacked and overriten and that he secretly turns into a traitor.
The dog doesn’t get it, seriously. He she doesn’t know who you are talking at. Gau, Gau.
Golden Rule it, make it work like in Neuromancer where he’s hooked up to the web while the girl is physically breaking into the place they need to get to, both things are in real time. I know the rules might say that it’s almost instantaneous but it would be easier to work back and forward between two scenes. Especially since you can make both scenes affect each other, he can be hooked up in safety while the rest of the crew breaks into a place with a little wireless dongle with his sentience on it, so he can open doors as well and stuff like that, or if he has to come with them they need to protect him while he does his thing.
Okay, do it like this…
House Rules Decking to make it more like the hacking in recent Shadowrun editions but go further than they did.
First thing you gotta do, make security hacking a real-time event. Plugging into the Matrix to check your messageboard is one thing, but security systems are a different beast They don’t exist on the Matrix proper and have to be done in a very different way.
Second, no plugging into the mainframe and just stopping there. Instead, have the whole thing as an augmented reality that only the hacker can see. They wirelessly hack into the security mainframe and that will show up as long as they’re in the building.
Your team is essentially guiding the hacker from Point A to Point B. The server room in the building is where the files are. In order to get to that room, you need to get past security both physical and virtual.
Example: There’s a locked door. You need to get through it. The hacker can try to get past the ICE or, should that fail, the rest of the team can force the door open and that has the same effect as if the hacker had succeeded. This gives your players plenty of options on how to proceed that involves the whole group.
The hacker can provide many special advantages and drawbacks just by being in the group as well.
On the upside, they could spot where alarm triggers are because they see where the computer program governing them is located.
On the downside, they’re running around like jackasses dealing with virtual problems and that can be a huge disadvantage in a real world firefight; forcing the team to go to extra steps to protect them. This can be extremely challenging when having them take cover in the real world opens them to cyberattacks in the AR.
Or, as an option, create a device that the hacker has to put into a computer on the premises that allows them to see the Corp’s AR world. A device that has to be guarded and/or has to be moved and reinserted as you get further into the building. And, should the hacker bite it, said
device could also be used to get the files if you get it to the room they’re stored in. The problem is you wouldn’t know which room it is and the device would take some time to check while you’re fighting off security. As a sub-game, it could give clues that the players would have to decipher. Make them keep track on a piece of paper. Work together, people!
Either option will help make missions a lot more tense and exciting. Best of all, it involves all the players and gives them a chance to succeed even in cases where the hacker has a bad night of numbers.
How’s that? Work for you?
When I first read about the Decker character class in GU.R.P.S. that was the first thing to cross my mind. I had no idea how to use a decker without making the other players bored out of their skull. I just didn’t allow anyone to play a decker.
Never played table top rpgs, but here ‘s my 2 cents. I know you said that these matrix encounters are supposed to take place several times faster than actual time. What if you made it to where it was only two to three times faster, is that a possibility. If so, then what you do is create side by side scenarios where for every 1 turn in the outside world, in the matrix encounter two or three turns are taken. Doing so would allow an outside battle to be waged while at the same time the matrix encounter goes on. Adding the flair for the dramatic I KNOW you possess, you could cut back and forth quickly, keeping the action up and give it a very cinematic feel. Also, maybe go a bit Ghost in the Shell with it. There are times people in that show are jacked into some machine or other, but still have the ability to communicate with the outside world using their bodies. It would be a simple way to allow both events to happen simultaneously and everyone is kept in the loop.Also, why limit yourself to just having become a glorified escort and protect mission? Why not have multiple objectives in the same location, giving everyone something to do, and forcing the group to decide whether or not to split up or stay together. Have the file being looked for be both in cyberspace and in hard copy, both of which are under heavy protection. Once you attempt to retrieve one, the %^&* is going to hit the fan anyway and make security lock down in both areas, making it almost necessary to split up to try and achieve both objectives. Take that box everyone is always thinking inside of and throw it into the void that is the 5th dimension.
Two things: I object the claim, that matrix-rounds differ in time from the regular ones. even if it were, I would not do it like this. because
2nd thing: do the separate scene thingy… It’s not elegant to always have a fight / persuit / chess deathmatch whenever the decker / technomancer plugs in, but for me it worked (in sr4 that is!). especially, when you technomancer is able to multi-task. otherwise he’ll be off for days to find some data, while his friends ‘have fun’.
the point of having separate scenes is: you cannot not have them! you always have a group of characters + 1 wizard + 1 social guy + 1 incredible meat grinder. you cannot have them do the same thing! every enemy which would be interesting to your meat grinder would be instant death for all the rest! you always have a group of goblins lead by an orc warlord (as an opponent for the MG). so there always are separate actions going on. learn to live with them! you can actually make them work, by making them colorful enogh for the ‘passive’ players to enjoy, but keeping them short enough to not bore them to death!
Throughout this whole video, I had Falconetti’s voice shouting at me in the back of my mind, with all this “decking” talk.
C’mon, Spoony, GO FOR THE GOLD!
Yeah, halting the game so one guy could go on a rail-shooter with Christopher Walken, not as fun for the rest of the guys at the table.
I think other people have already mentioned this solution, but perhaps the decker would have a system created that allows the remainder of the party to join him through some method… such as
1) Have a wired/wireless connection with the party when hacking allowing more efficient and powerful hacks (more people using their minds to hack at once using the decker as the proxy).
2) The decker created programs of the remaining party that act as they would (basicly “PC” programs the party can use).
That way, the decker is a bit like a traditional thief using a lockpicking skill to open an area to proceed.
Additionally, although the decker is the proxy for the adventure, simply make it possible that a failed hack in the system doesn’t kill the decker, but somehow disables his control until the ICE is broken. That way, the remaining characters can continue the area and, if they succeed, the decker isn’t killed when they “jack out”.
At a DM planing point why not have some the enemies the Decker would fight in the Matrix have half the amount of hit points (or have 1 hit point) they would normally have. This would make these encounters a little bit faster. However I’ve never read anything on Cyberpunk or Shadowrun and this piece of advice comes from my experience with minion mechanic in D&D 4e.
One way that I was thinking of modifying the Decker class still involves a one on one meeting between the Decker and the DM. The Decker essentially rolls macros for his session, to combat certain ICE programs. After he uses a macro, it’s gone. My friend made a system for his campaign called ‘Hero Mode’ which had our party facing armies of orcs (or anything else) and having a one hit kill system. If the Decker’s card can trump the ICE in front of him, he moves on to the next node. This is partially inspired by the Shadowrun game for the Sega Genesis as well as my own thoughts on if I ever ran a cyberpunk game. It does involve fudging the rules a bit, which isn’t strictly legal officially, but if you are just playing with friends, at least it only modifies one aspect of the game, and a tedious one at that. It doesn’t entirely trivialize the Decker class as he still does his work, just before the campaign starts. This brings in a certain luck aspect. Provided the DM doesn’t specifically select ICE that will own the hell out of the Decker’s “cards”, this could work. Then again, it might be the Deep Space 9 of gaming ideas: it looks nice on paper, but in practice it is lacking.
It may not be the best solution, nor should I claim all of the thought here, but I know one GM who would engage the players in real-life mini-games during game sessions in order to change up the flow of the game. My exposure was through a Star Trek game (using d20) where everyone was tasked with performing various tasks. While this did have the effect of taking us out of the game (in my opinion) and was very gimmicky (in my opinion), it does have a kernel of interesting application.
For decking, you could break it up by having the deckers have to engage in a mini-game of sorts that makes it challenging for them, it may help reduce the time for completion, and you can possibly run the other encounter at the same time. My immediate thought was to use a Gameboy or other similar handheld video game system and have the decker play some game to some degree in order to ge the information. How fast they complete it is how fast they complete it. This does have the unfortunate side-effect Spoony mentioned of replacing an entire class/set of rules with something else. However, the way I look at it, a really good idea has to start with a really stupid one.
I think the best option would be to allow characters to have some sort of wifi representation of themselves in the game, and able to do everything they normally can. BUT, the decker should be capable of far above and beyond anything any character could do in the real world, making them the real power house inside, while other characters would probably outclass them in normal combat.
The second part of the problem: weak fail points, is an easy fix if you know what you’re doing as a GM. I got the term from 13th age, and its called “failing forward”. Where a crucial roll like that doesn’t bring the game to an end if its failed. Basically you succeed with the thing you were trying to do but your fail ends up complicating matters, so for the track thing you might find your quarry, but run into an ambush because of it. Failing a lock pick check sets off a series of traps. The hacker failing could result in enemy reinforcements, traps, some other minor important thing becoming messed up, or have something happen that sets up another adventure: “Hey I got the data but…my avatar is stuck behind the firewall now. We have to break into x place to get her free.”
The first part of having to split the party I think Stebis is right. Tweak the rules a bit so that representations of the other characters are there with the main hacker. Maybe have their skills be reflected by the same rules just made with a lot less points, or the minimum for everything with one or 2 areas being pumped up. Things like custom options for each class that you can carry over into the cyberworld.
In exchange give the hacker some real world abilities like taking over cybernetic enemies with a pre-programmed hack that is just a roll (not a whole sub quest).
This takes some work and may cause a few balance issues but its better than not allowing access to the cyberworld at all.
Is it ever possible to make a communication channel between the party and the decker so the decker could ask for advice or fill in how far he is so the party can respond?
Agreed with the below ideas of including the players – make them AI Programs the hacker develops for multitasking purposes, based on the other players (perhaps requiring a brain scan or something from the players to elicit shadow personalities from them).
The problem with this is “experience” – they’re included but technically nothing they do is going to reward their real characters, because they’re extensions of the Decker character. Seems kind of wrong to award XP (or equivalent in your system) to players for actions that – while the players actually did it, the characters did not.
Have two character sheets for all characters? One for the “real” players, one for their virtual avatars. Then, instead of the real characters gaining hacking skill, these virtual characters would gain XP instead and get stronger in the virtual world, thus a good hacker character is not one with a high skill but one whose virtual avatar have better stats and “virtual equipment” and whatnot.
My group never bothered with the matrix until I got ahold of VR 2.0 which really just turned a matrix run into running a few tests to get what you needed. The only worry was setting off an alarm or other security system and having to confront 1 or 2 IC programs. Cut the time down a lot. The best way I found to handle a simultaneous combat/matrix thing was basically just having everyone roll initiative, except the decker, and just running the combat round and then at the end of the round let the decker run his tests. Assuming he didn’t get geeked in the combat round. :)
I think the best thing you could do is just give everyone separate decking skill, so the entire party is in the Matrix.
Oh yes, that is a pain. The only thing I could think of to get around it is to go “all netrunner or no netrunner”. Of course if you have a bigger party there’s not always need for all of them to plug in, so it’s not a perfect solution, but if they all plug in you can basically just have a normal session but in the virtual world.
Why not try having the decker “mission” at the end of a session? You could cut the time of the overall gaming session down an hour or 2, then after officially “ending” the gaming session for the night, have the decker stick around and complete their task. This will allow you to keep everything the game has to offer about the grid while also keep the Decker PC feeling worthwhile to the party. If you want a hacking mission to take place in the middle of a session, the only thing I can think of would be to have an Assistant DM take the decker to the side to do their thing while the other players get them out of there. The DM would be able to say that hacking makes such a drain on the person doing it that they always pass out for a few hours, to the point where you don’t even know if they’re still alive(in case they fail and die). That way the DM can utilize combat and puzzles on the way out(as long as none of it is hacking) to keep the game interesting for everyone else. Just seemed to be a unique perspective on this so I thought I’d chime in. Love the show Spoony!
The one time I managed to play Shadowrun – it was the 20th Anniversary Edition, which I believe is labeled “4th Edition” to the people who keep up with that – I decided to play a hacker, a guy who could really do anything with anything that had a computer chip in it. I stepped into the game, the GM put us up against a few drones, and the first one I tried to hack brainfried my character and rendered him unconscious for something like three days. After that, I swore off hacking forever.
And this is why I prefer cyberpunk WITHOUT this cyberspace bullshit. Just roll a few skill rolls and call it a day.
It definitely sounds like hacking, decking, or whatever the right term
is, is a difficult thing to integrate into a Shadowrun game, or any kind
of cyberpunk. But I think I see the key to the problem here, as I’m
sure a lot of people have noticed; it’s the degree to which the decker’s
matrix activity/hacking is separated from the rest of the group’s
activity. So the key here is to bring what’s going on in the matrix/the
grid/whatever closer to the “real” action.
The way I see it,
there’s several things that can be done to pull this off. But a lot of
it hinges on whether or not you really, really feel like you’re married
to the concept that what’s going on in cyberspace has to happen almost
instantaneously. That’s the real crux of the matter, because if that is
the case, then there really isn’t a way to include it, because you can’t
juggle the difference in time scale. I think you’d have to fudge that
and slow the cyberspace activity down to “real time”, as in at the same
speed as actions going on in the game outside of cyberspace. One way you
might rationalize it is by saying that sure, in cyberspace if you think
it, you do it, but people still think and reason at the same speed as
ever, and a person needs a moment to decide what they want to do. But
however you rationalize it, I really think that the only way for you to
integrate deckers back into the game is to get rid of the time
difference. Think of it like the solution to roleplaying in an
established setting, like your Babylon 5 game; yes, the books say
hacking happens at the speed of thought, but we are now entering “Spoony
Continuity” so check your preconceived notion of how the matrix/grid
works at the door.
If that can be done, then the next step is to
make the transition between the action going on in the real world and
the action in cyberspace as easy as possible. You’d said doing a gun
fight while the decker tries to hack a computer system is a problem
because you’re jumping from one location to the next. Okay, what if
there was a direct connection between the real world and the decker’s
activity in cyberspace? Imagine, if you would, that when the decker
plugged in, a monitor, either one hooked up to the computer system or
even just some small folding monitor on his deck, like something the
size of a smart phone screen or a tablet, displays a graphical
representation of what’s going on.
And it’s not just code, it’s
some kind of image of the decker’s avatar as he moves through stylized
corridors that represent the connections to various nodes and such and
encounters creatures and humanoids that represent the security programs
and other objects that represent the things the computer systems control
(like alarms, security cameras, etc) and data stored in the system
(probably represented by things like books, framed pictures, and so on).
This would make the activity going on in cyberspace seem more “real” to
the characters not in there as well, and enable them to keep tabs on
the decker’s progress, through this link to the (in-game) real world and
cyberspace. If this hacking was going on while the other characters
were in some sort of fight, then the best way I see to keep everything
balanced is to have the hacker roll for initiative (or however it’s done
in Shadowrun) and have his own turn in battle; same for the NPC
security programs when/if they show up.
If you want to keep this
“side quest” from becoming to long and awkward, making the other
players sit around and wait while the decker has all the fun/does all
the work, you may need to make this particular part something like a
rail shooter; give the decker something akin to a glowing path to follow
straight to his or her goal to avoid them spending a lot of time
twiddling around, hacking into people’s email accounts, stealing their
porn collections, etc.
So, yeah, there’s my two bits. Maybe it’s a good idea, maybe it sucks, but there you go.
Make house rules where everyone can access the net and be a decker without putting much points to it, of course the one being the decker having much better skills and chances to survive in there, the rest would act as backup with their sucky skillpoints. Since the new mini-adventure only takes around 2 seconds of game’s real time, you don’t really need anyone to secure the door if you’ve already locked and barricaded it. Would make a fun dynamic where the decker- who’s usually “the weak nerd” of the group would be the one leading the rest of the team to battle on these rare instances.
I mean sure, it may feel like cheating if you give 1 point on each decker-skill by default for everyone from the start, but what can you do.
I just realised almost every single other comment suggested the same but with different words, lol.
I realized that too, so I tried to make mine at least sound funny
Rewrite the rules. Go with skill check and mods based on deck, recurring and one time use attack and defense programs, any additional info the hacker can get before the dive through normal roleplaying like passwords, and then where they are when hacking.
Structure the system being attacked on layered skill checks with each layer hacked being one turn in real time. Each layer would contain certain information and/or physical functions the hacker would have to access separately once per turn. Like for a 3-layered system daily business routines and simple monitoring would be the 1st, monthly routines (payroll) building layout 2nd, yearly routine and hardened security 3rd. To get to the 3rd layer from outside and disable all security would take four turns or skill checks: one for each layer and then a fourth for what you’re trying to hack.
meh, that’s all the thought I want to put into it but not all the thought I’ve written down. Basically dice roles with two values for attack/defense and special abilities a hacker or system can choose to activate.
What if you just made veryone able to interface into the matrix, without them being deckers?
Hear me out: if the decking session takes place in, say, 20 seconds tops, that means that the entire party can contribute even as reinforcements are rushing in to kill them. So, what you do is this:
You make everybody create a decker-avatar character, but you only allow the decker to have the ability to do all the hacking shit (essentially translating him into the party wizard (but in T3H INTERNETS!). You automatically assume that all characters who enter the Matrix also posses a standard or sub-par deck to that of the hacker’s thus allowing everyone to play though the little jaunt through the matrix, pretty much the way it happens when everyone crosses into, say, the astral plane.
Thus, you can allow the entire team to play the Matrix adventure-session, without marginalizing the decker or making the hacking rules obsolete.
It’s sorta like that in SR 4e; Virtual reality is something anyone can use, and you don’t even have to drill a hole in your skull. ^^
So wait, they do that in 4e? Cause my experience with ShadowRun only goes as far as 3rd edition. We played the game for an entire campaign and nobody ever made a decker.
Yup. SR 4th Edition tries to draw hacking more directly into Reality and keep everyone involved, specifically to try to address this issue.
And in practice…they kind of replace one big problem with another.
I just do what every sane SR GM has ever done: Abstract the security down to a few checks and use NPCs. Everyone has their own flavor of house rules, but I use two tiers.
-The Computer [Decking] Check
-Simplified Sneaking/IC Combat (I play the encounters almost in a Dragon Quest-esque sort of manner. Either you sneak by the IC, or you don’t.)
If you’re doing an All-Decker campaign, the core rules are fantastic.
I adore Shadowrun, and DM it a lot – I always, always use house rules for Decking because the existing 2nd ed rules bog it way down.
Depending on the group, I’ll do one of several things.
In the event no one wants to play a decker:
Option 1: I’ll make ‘em hunt an NPC/have one as a follower/gang member when a run calls for it, and handle it all while they do the other stuff.
In the event one person is interested in decking, but the rest of the group could take or leave the ‘net side of Shadowrun:
Option 2: As mentioned, I ditch all the normal Decking rules from Shadowrun 2nd ed. With wireless decking, it’s all about the decker remote-hacking to get the group past electronic security, turrets, drones, security bots, infrared lasers, ect and other situations where it’s a 1 v 1 roll. The decker takes on the cyberpunk role akin to a thief in D&D – making the decker a important member of the group and setting, but without bogging us down four hours or hinging the entire campaign on his rolls.
The classic ‘crack the mainframe’ scenarios I do strictly as part of the deckers own personal character progression OR via NPC, depending on how into that aspect he is. Over the course of time and multiple sessions, he’s working his way through a nasty system. Depending on how into it he is we’ll play it out in a separate session or some forum posts.
Basically in terms of the individual player building his personal power/resources. Where a shaman might build it through spirit treks in his down time, a hermetic mage through research or a street sam through taking out rival gangs, the decker is tracking information through the net.
If one person wants to be a specialized decker, and the rest of the group wants to participate (but not necessarily blow tons of points into skills):
Option 3: Same as Option 2, but for big crack-the-mainframe scenarios, everyone participates. The party dials in via specialized programs or anonymous ‘net identities created by the Decker for his party members so they’re less vulnerable to being tracked. Effectively putting him in charge of this side of the run, and letting the party help out with their own knowledge.
This is my favorite option. There’s a second set of character sheets and info to track. I’ll create actual puzzles for the group to solve in the net, and make it a full-fledged ‘dungeon’ crawl.
And in the rare case that everyone wants to deck, I reduce the skill point cost on computer skills, and have everyone take some secondary skills so they aren’t dependent on NPC’s for all other tasks.
In all cases I ditch the normal decking rules and seriously update the world-tech and the functionality of decking. I steal a lot actually from different cyberpunk source books, and from the later editions.
In all but option one (no one wants to deck), I fully integrate the idea of a ‘net that everyone can and does connect to and participate in as part of their daily lives. It’s just that only deckers can do the really insane stuff through their special skills and hardware. I even remove the essence hit for the basic ‘net implant, so mages aren’t punished.
These suggestions keep reminding me of ‘Ripper’. How various c-space deckers would bring the protagonist along with them to help them fight ICE.
Not that this is a bad thing. You could even do this exactly like Inception, complete with a suitcase that everyone has to link into. Maybe everyone’s abilities in cyberspace depends on the skill of the decker.
Wait, this game sounds very similar to the book Neuromancer by William Gibson.
Well, considering that book is arguably one of the pillars of the entire cyberpunk genre…it should.
Most frequently heard dialogue in our Shadowrun games.
Client: Why the hell haven’t you retrieved the macguffin?!
Team Leader: *in monotone customer service voice* I’m terribly sorry. Your call is very important to us, but we are experiencing a chronic lack of decker at the moment. Please stay on the line and we will resolve this issue as soon as possible.
Team Techie/Demolitionist: *uttering curses while trying to do the decker’s job on default*
In all the cyberpunk groups i played in the house rules were NO ONE plays a netrunner, and I have played in a few groups.
I have had this issue as a GM and as a player. The only solution I can think of other then the AI suggestions which sound really interesting is a card game. Something like the spycraft one but faster, the idea being that the matrix is fast and should feel fast. How to implement will be tricky, but as a basic solution until a specific mini game could be made just have two 10-20 card magic decks with life points and starting mana cards equal to the characters computer score. I would love a more specifically designed system though.
I’ve always done veyr broad brushstrokes when it comes to hacker characters. Usually I change it so that the Matrix works like an 8-bit RPG with very rigid combat and very straight forward directions. The three checks I always have is 1) Finding an NPC who knows the location of what you’re trying to get, 2) Going to that location and finding a glass cannon mob that hits hart but is easy to kill and finally a digital boss deal where they have to fight it before they achieve their goal. It does take away from the class but deckers has always been a ‘jedi scenario’ with me; either everyone is a decker or no one is a decker.
In 4th edition Shadowrun the “wireless matrix” uses “Augmented Reality” a lot as an alternative to diving into the VR matrix; it’s slower and the hacker doesn’t leave the “real world”. Also, it stresses that the wireless matrix is wireless, mainframes are few and far between – and everyone including non-hackers use AR routinely.
While VR is “quicker” than AR, this just means you get more initiative passes or you can peruse data more quickly, it doesn’t mean that combat happens “faster” than you can think. Yeah stuff happens as quickly as you think to do it; BUT you don’t actually think any quicker to *make it happen*.
Also, depending on your matrix rig, and its “response” stat, how many programs you’re running, etc – your rig might actually be slower the the most optimum setup imaginable, which would slow matters further still.
The mechanics of matrix combat are near-identical to regular combat in the current iteration too, BTW.
One way you could do it is use Augmented reality instead of virtual reality. That way the hacker will be fighting along side the other guys but against his own enemies, like a cleric fighting undead that can only be hurt with holy items. As a plus, it would also give the hacking a physical component that means it’d have to occur in real time
That would not work. The hacker would be distracted by the real-world enemies, and having him punch the air while everyone else is shooting at each other is not a wise idea.
Okay, upfront; I’ve never played any of these games. If what I say is really, really stupid, forgive me.
I’d just let everyone into the cyberspace thing. Give them all a really base set of skills, so they can still participate, but cripple them. The Decker can do his thing, and everyone else can run around and be ineffectual, but still participate. It would probably take some serious house rules (I’m assuming the cyberspace stuff is set up with only one or two players in mind), and you’d need to incorporate what’s happening in the real world while they’re all jacked in, but it would be workable.
I have a bit of a problem with games that have arbitrary constraints, and this seems like a big one. If you live in a world where you could hook your brain directly into the internet, why would you not do this, regardless of your specific job?
Why not break it up into two different things. Which there is. The first is bypassing blocks. The second is being within the network.
For the bypassing blocks use some side puzzle (like in mansions of madness) where different skills allow for different advantages. You need to switch tiles around to complete a line to the end and the number of moves your character can make is base off the system level, your character level, and gear. You can have some affects for the other characters. For example after a given number of moves, new enemies attack the party.
After all you do not need to log into the system just get pass the block. It is the same thing as in movies the play those hacking tools and then work from them.
Then you have other moments that your characters need to enter into a network as a group and give him different skill then. Then you just have it where the other also comes.
Heres a way.
If there is nothing making him have to be in a rush. guards aren’t coming and such. just roll a single skill check.
If there is. i changed the timing so you could do real world stuff and decking at once. by. while the guy hacks. the others defend him. the hacker on his turn can choose his entire turn to either be hacking making him spend his one round of combat there. or spend one in the real world defending himself. so they all roll order as normal. and every time its his turn. either he hacks or he fights. while the rest defend him. Making it useful to have a hacker. and encounters based on this.
So its 1 fight. But its happening in two very real locations at once.
I dont think i made any sense at all. i dont know how to type this for it to make sense..
Basically i house ruled the time table so that if he was under threat from the regular world it wouldnt be microseconds.
This is the problem faced buy 1st & 2nd ed AD&D had with the Psionics. But as for an Idea of how to bring decker back in to the game. Wireless networking the other PC’s in to the game. Make it a house rule that he get’s there int bonus per PC networked up with him(er) during the raid. If a program gets through the defenses all of the sudden one of the other PC’s get to be like a firewall for the decker. just saying it could be a thought?
SOLUTION: I kinda hate to use this as a posible solution to the issue, but, the Net Navis from megaman NT warrion could be a solution to this, you could control the Net Navi like you would a character avatar in a video game first person, third person whatever, and there could be a autopilot system for it if you character isn’t very coordinated or has a bad computer skill check or whatever. Just the autopilot has a high failure rate so your better off doing the job yourself. This might screw up the Deckers but Deckers could have some use for something maybe they make or reprogram Net Navis. But this way everyone can pop into the matrix at the same time and mess around in there without the time out issue. Just an idea, I’m sure someone is going to correct me on something but here is my idea, hope it can lead to a solution.
I have a suggestion. Instead of going the whole Lawnmower man route make it a kind of Wheel of Fortune mini-game and have a set of envelopes with passwords in them. Depending on lvl or point in hacking defines how many letters are revealed (just to keep it simple lets just use dictionary words and common sentences like “Today is a go”), if the terminal or router is low level it has only a few character so the decker can break in instantly if they have more points than password has letters but if it’s higher than the hacking points the decker has three guesses at it. If they fail instead of dying they get a debuff and have to hack another terminal. the debuff might be that all terminals have been alerted to the hack attempt so it’s two passwords or the decker gets only two guesses. This way you don’t kill off the decker or completely fail the mission. For example let’s say your decker tries to hack a CEO’s terminal but fails to get access so the party has to get to the mainframe which is under higher security to try again.
There are ways to get around the Decker problem. Most notably in SR4 at least, a decker has three initiative passes per combat round in hotsim, two otherwise which is the same as a reflex boosted or drugged fighter. This means you can resolve the hacker actions alongside normal combat which can make for great tense moments as the Party fights of the enemies while the Decker is at work.
Also a good way to do it is to have the Decker try to cover up the teams tracks during a run. He hacks into the security system of the place they are invading and has to suppress alarms they trigger, disable cameras along the way, remove data traces, open locked doors, etc. For this I usually say the internal network is layed out like the floorplan, each room having its own network node wich has to be acessed. This way the Decker can “walk” alongside the party without you having to design a realistic network diagram of some sort for him to play on.
You can also do small exclusive Matrix adventures for Situations where the other Characters have their own hooks to follow. A Face gathering intel from contacts, a Street Samurai going shopping, A thief stealing some access cards, etc.
In any other case, if the hacking would stop the action for the other Players I just make it an extended test to gather whatever data they need. Boring for the Decker but at least he gets to roll his Skills. This works better if he is forced to come along on a run because the outer matrix security is too strong. Then he at least has the same action as the others and isn’t sitting in a corner rolling dice until XYZ.
In Shadowrun 4 a hacker in hot sim has a ton of initiative passes but he still functions in the same turn order as everyone else. He would get more net actions per combat round than the rest of the people but everyone still gets to act at the same time unless they are literally waiting on him. Frankly though it shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes in that case.
Actually not the case. Hot and Cold Sim turns are shorter then AR turns.
you can have the hacker experience a augmented reality like Neo has in the matrix or like in the anime “Cyber Coil” where every physical object has a virtual layer of functionality that only the hacker can freely manipulate.
Our group has come up with a bunch of solutions for this situation over the years:
- This one was our solution when we came across this problem for the first time: Mandatory dataports and basic decking skills for *everyone*. Plug everybody in, have the whole adventure inside cyberspace together, hop out a second later, resume run. Kind of a brute-force approach, but, hey, it got the job done.
- Bring over a secondary DM to occupy the rest of the team with combat, physical research or something similarily time-consuming while the decker does his thing. This only works as long as you can predict your party’s moves well enough in advance, otherwise the vice-DM will sit around feeling useless.
- Axe most of the cyberspace. make the team’s rigger (a cyberized driver, basically) be also their decker and reduce the decking to maximum one combat and a few easy skill checks. This requires there to be no-one that actually wants to play a decker, which tends to be the case with the more experienced groups, who nearly always hate decking with a passion, precisly because of this problem.
- In that vein, axe all of the cyberspace by way of npc decker. Boring, I know…
- Play out the decking beforehand. Simple, not very inspired and kinda awkward, but it works.
- Multitask like a motherfucker. Only did this once, after the group threw a massive spanner in my plans, and I kinda wanted to die afterwards, but just keep the two sessions running side by side. It was only for two hours, and it worked, sorta, but it’s exhausting and not fun at all for the DM.
Do an all or Nothing run of Deckers: The entire adventure is a bunch of deckers bringing down the establishment through the matrix, or whatever. Hacking government sites, covering their tracks, and waging war on whatever their enemy may be.
Or what stebsis said…
I would do this in the tron type of adventure: putting players without the know-how in the net with some outside help (i.e. the Tron program), so everybod gets to do it. That would be easy – if I want to use netrunning stuff I would just make the players either escort a netrrunner to the server room or the “computer node” or be guided by him – he would open doors, disable security cameras – basically let them in through the backdoor, but they would have to access the node manually a la Mission impossible – get to the screen and insert a disk with a special “Tron” program.
When they get to the last room and are next to the netrunning units – I would either have the netrunner guy show them a disk and explain that this is a computer AI capable of blasting through their defences, it just needs someone to manually show it the way to go – and from the inside it will be more effective – then make some random guard shot him in the head – leaving the players in a guarded facility without someone to do their jobs for them. They would have to access the net themselves and use the AI – which would show up in the net as a some kind of artificial person or a virtual vehicle of some kind with an options menu – and the players would have to use it’s interface to guide it – they would be in the net and using the stuff with this AI program but they would all be participating… or have the netrunner tell them over some com-link that he let them in, now they gotta do the rest – and deck in and hack the system from the inside using this program he prepared for them.
Either way, there are good options for people to use the stuff which they do not know or understand – just simplified.
Either that or then 4 player pure netrunner session – which sounds kinda boring.
Hey jackoff, make it in one video since you made them at the same time. Oh well, as you said on your Cthulu vids “ILL POST THESE IN SEVERAL VIDEOS, MORE MONEY FOR ME!”
As someone whos first comment on 9Clouder was at 2007 for you, you’re changing even more from old spoony to…. LORDKAT, OH GOD
That’s not entirely fair.
Spoony was talking about how Deckers kill the campaign pace dead on Twitter as part of a discussion that started from the last Counter Monkey.
Could have hacking in real time and project the hacker’s activities via augmented reality. The party could then have limited interaction with the entities the hacker is dealing with.
Oh that’s……. not bad
“It’s eerie, watching Fingal create his own reality simulation around him”
What my group does in the newest edition of SR is have the loosest
definition of “connected” ever. Basically if it could conceivably be
controlled by a computer, it is hackable. Also, we make hacking akin to
infiltration. We basically every time the hacker makes an action, we
have them roll the “Not Get Noticed” skill. If they fail, they go into
cyber combat with whatever would be appropriate to the setting (i.e.
getting noticed trying to hack a login screen would end up getting a
weaker program on your rear while getting noticed trying to hack into an
administrator account gets a high level firewall or even the resident
programmer on your rear) .
If they do not get noticed, they get
one step closer to the target. If the hacking is taking place
simultaneously to physical world events, we simply abstract it out by
saying that a hacker hacks as fast as their brains can issue commands.
This way, a combat in the matrix occurs at the same time as one in the
physical world. All of the real world’s opponent’s weaponry and gear
shows up in the matrix so the hacker can mess with the real world
gunmen. However, any security program the hacker fights is only there to
prevent them from doing so and thus will not attack the PC’s gear
unless an enemy hacker goes after it.
Any damage done to the
matrix that would affect the real world only can be fixed by A) Going
into the server room and restarting the server or B) Having another
hacker go in and fix the shit. Both methods require a person IRL to
bring attention to the changes and thus a hacker can control an entire
facility if they are subtle enough, being a ‘ghost in the machine’ if
you will, without alerting any of the guards if the hacker remembers to
lock the doors behind the team.
Finally, if the hacker is
unavailable, we also have the fact that all data is stored on physical
media, so it is a simple matter of getting your hands on the hard drive
with the data on it if all else fails. Even if the hacker is kicked out
by the security system, they are usually able to determine where in the
facility the needed drive is.
Granted, this really only makes
sense if you were hacking a 1980′s mainframe, but it keeps the hacker
involved without breaking the flow too much.
Base 4th edition shadowrun not only has the wireless rules, but hacking is more abstracted. Basically 1 node. What you have to look out for is security spiders(anti-hacker hackers) in the node while you do things. The biggest problem I have run into is that matrix stealth is extremely powerful(like stealth in the non matrix part of the game as well). You basically can’t withstand a surprise blackhammer to the face, and it’s alot easier for players to max their stealth out then fairly constructed security spiders.
And now since they can hack wirelessly, they are, in the hands of a creative player, extreamly powerful since you can hack enemy chumps and make all their cyberware go crazy. Or call in drones since the hacker is now also the rigger.
Other user Stebsis had a way better idea, but this is mine.
Make it like the hacking bit from the Alien Swarm.
Hackable computers are only in locations where infinitely spawning enemies can appear, and they get stronger as time goes on. They don’t give any experience or drop any items. Hacking will no longer take microseconds, it will take minutes.
The hacker player is given a simple real world puzzle that they must solve. Like that simple game where 20 playing cards are face down and you flip two over and if they match you remove them, or sudoku, or a literal puzzle. The hacker can only perform so many actions/spend so many seconds on the puzzle and then they end their turn, and the other players get a turn to fight to protect the hacker.
This way it is impossible for the player to fail the hack, only that it will take longer if the hacker does poorly.
If the hacker is damaged by an enemy then parts of the puzzle are thrown back in.
The hacker can level up things to make fewer enemies spawn, have to deal with easier puzzles, suffer a smaller penalty for getting hit. Computers that are harder to hack have far more pieces.
This system will also force the hacker player to have actual skill and solve the puzzle, instead of just relying on stats and dice rolls.
For special computers the DM can create custom puzzles for the players to solve.
This system works out well because it has real teamwork, lets the hacker use actual intelligence, and creates memorable and tense scenarios.
Here’s my solution.
“SUPERHUMAN SAMURAI SYBER-SQUAD”
Just have the entire party enter the web to fight Kilo Khan or whatever as a group so nobody gets left out of the adventure or hinder a mission on a single player just to get a file.
Let me sum up what practically every suggestion in the comments say,
“WE ARE INTERFACED”
What the Fuck is up with the intro. It’s so damn catchy and epic. Damn you Spoony!
I don’t get why it matters how different a real-world fight and a virtual fight are, at least that’s giving everyone something to do. And why not make the virtual scene happen in real-time? Even if high-speed is more plausible (Which I’m not that convinced about) it’s not worth it if the others can’t play. Just give everyone something to do at the same time, it’s better than kicking most of your party out of the game at the very least.
Couldn’t you have players with multiple characters. So if everyone had a decker character and another character for the rest of the game. Both parts of the game would be equally valid and everyone would be included.
Basically Shadowrunner teams should be kept small. A group of four or five people can easily break in unnoticed, but eight or ten people? That will get a lot more difficult… Despite the obvious problem, that you cannot really roleplay multiple characters very well.
And what if GM would make the matrix part of adventure as a CYOA kind of
thing? So while decker is occupied with it, GM will be able to work with the
Shadowrun 4th Edition improved this situation a lot!
Basically the Argumented Reality runs at the same speed as the real life and the (full) Virtual Reality only gives the hacker 1 or 2 additional rounds (= initiative passes). So it is quite easy to run the real life and the virtual actions in parallel. “Only” 2 extra rounds still worked for me and my group, as this is the same as mages going into astral space… My groups were always used to wait for one round for the astral projecting guy to finish his job and now it is the same for the hacker.
The “ultra fast speed of the Matrix” is of course lost a little with this, but you always have to consider that a combat round in Shadowrun consists of 3 seconds and each action the hacker takes is not just “click the button”. It is always a complex operation, by which he tries to do what he wants to do and tries to hide it at the same time. In context I would say, he is still ultra fast, but he has to be really careful not to get caught all the time… For the “Google search” as part of the preparation there is the “Data Search” skill, which is rolled to gather with the utility used for data search. Of course, getting secret information still needs hacking before the run, but you could still let everybody roll initiative so they can decide in turn, what they do as leg work before the actual run.
Additionally the Matrix rules got a lot easier with Shadowrun 4, so simple actions can be done really fast in the Matrix. This edition of Shadowrun was the first one, which allowed me to master the sessions WITH a hacker in the group. In former editions this was really just impossible.
I am looking forward to Shadowrun 5th Edition, which will be released this year. Probably there will be a lot more of the “new Matrix”, but so far the details are unknown.
The new Augmented Reality and hacking system fixed a number of issues, but it also opened the doors for a fair amount of abuse and some questionable design logic.
The simplified data gathering rules were a big improvement. I liked that because it freed up a lot of time spent during the “Legwork Phase” of a run.
I also liked how Riggers and Hackers were basically merged together in a neat way without destroying the nuances of Riggers entirely.
But what I don’t like is that because all Hacking is done via Wifi, it eliminates a big part of physical proximity from security. Worse, nearly every bloody object in the world can be accessed via hacking (cyberware, storebought items, smart-guns) or used to track someone.
Also, Technomancers can fuck right off.
I needed some time to get used to the idea of a wireless Matrix, but in the end it completely convinced me. First of all it is much closer to what we will probably get in
the future, although that was never an issue for me with Shadowrun – there seems to be some stuff we will probably NEVER get in that game ;)
Having the possibility to hack weapons, cyberware (but only some of it according to the Bodytech source book – not everything is automatically wireless) and other
items greatly enhanced the attractiveness of playing a hacker. Before those
options came up, the only task of a hacker was to hack into a system to steal
something or do legwork before the run. That was not much fun for anyone
and the second reason that nobody liked to play one in my groups.
As a free bonus 4th Edition made DRASTIC changes in pricing for hacking equipment. Today every character could spend some money and a few skill points to be at least able to do some quick and dirty hacks…
The physical proximity can still be required as not every system has a high signal rating and you have to be within that range to get wireless access. Additionally the
corporations in the Shadowrun world know the risks of having everything wireless and are prepared to defend themselves against intruders. For example, there is a type of paint that completely blocks wireless signals and of course the best trap for a valuable AI or data is a wire-only system.
I love Technomancers, as they are a quite unique idea or at least a logical follow up to the Otaku from former editions of Shadowrun. They may look overpowered at first sight, but there is always a price attached to power in a world with corporations who are looking to “cut into” the next interesting ressource :)
The Emergence campaign book created a really good environment for this new archetype. The core rule book (at least the first one before the 20th Anniversary edition) completely missed to do so from my point of view, which is really a shame…
Going by my 25th Anniversary SR4 Rulebook, most Cyberware by default
has a wireless access channel “for maintenance”, and requires
modification to identify and disable. So does a large number of
otherwise mundane items.
In order to balance a lot of this stuff in my second trial game, I had to dial back signal strength a LOT. Nearly every conflict over the rules came from something involving the Wireless Matrix.
(It’s sad when your players are nothing but Adepts and Hackers/Technomancers, because cyberware is now a such huge liability that you can get hacked just walking down the street)
“I love Technomancers, as they are a quite unique idea or at least a
logical follow up to the Otaku from former editions of Shadowrun. They
may look overpowered at first sight, but there is always a price
attached to power in a world with corporations who are looking to “cut
into” the next interesting ressource :)”
I’ll grant that they are a neat concept in a vacuum, but I have two big problems with Technomancers in Shadowrun:
1) They are overpowered mostly due to how much emphasis 4th Edition places on the new Wireless Matrix. Some of their powers completely overshadow or replace that of other archetypes (especially tracking and control of targets through their Signal).
2) Thematically, Technomancers they are a continuation of the betrayal of a core concept, introduced by Otaku. This is a personal gripe of mine, but having spent nearly all of the first three editions repeatedly hammering out that Technology and Magic are in CONFLICT with each other, the sudden appearance of magical super-hackers is a whiplash-inducing contradiction.
If tech and magic can not only coexist, but blend, why bother with mundane characters at all? (not helping this was Otaku being flat out superior to Deckers with just a little karma investment)
As I said before, according every Cyberware is wireless and there is still Bioware, which cannot be hacked due to its organic nature. Unfortunately it was not written in the Bodytech, it was in the Unwired source book (I just looked it up and especially cyberlimbs are usually not wireless). Have you taken a look at the damage a Data Bomb does? Just try securing your nodes with those babies and there will not be any hackers anymore – Literally ;) Additionally normally the Cyberware is connected to the PAN of the owner and that can be protected with its commlink’s Firewall… It is not that easy to hack cyberware and other stuff inside a small network.
As far as I know, you could even buy IC for your commlink. This is not paranoid, this is real Shadowrun :D
By the way: Getting hacked just walking down the street, would be a really trolling GM or players. Outside of combat or “on the run” situations, this should be not the normal behaviour of professionals.
About your statements about Technomancers:
1.) They are defintely powerful in the Matrix, but they are like the deckers of old at the start: They lack physical power because of the creation rules and their emphasis on certain attributes and especially skills. Additionally as I implied above, everyone of them is automatically VERY interesting for the corporations, as they are still quite rare and quite useful.
2.) I do not really see the conflict here. A Technomancer is punished for using Essence heavy implants by losing Resonance, as the mages are by losing Magic. They can also not be mages and Technomancers at the same time. They are in the Matrix what a mage is in the real world, but that is a parallel and not a conflict, isn’t it?
If there is magic involved in the work and ways of Technomancers has always been left open to speculation. As the Magic and Resonance attribute are quite similar, but still completely different I would not say, that this is magic.
Always remember, that Shadowrun is not about the CONFLICT of magic and machine. It is, where Magic Meets Man & Machine ;)
Mundane charaters still have a lot of benefits over technomancers and mages.
I’ll have to post my response later. I’m stuck without using a proper mouse for the moment, and this touchpad is the Devil (which combined with the wonky Disqus interface, has combined into a right jackass).
Well, being a gamemaster of shadowrun 4 ed I have to make some things clear. (By the way, sorry for the bad english, I am french canadian :) ) First I DO understand your reservation and your view of the wireless matrix and the technomancer. But I would like to point out some rules that you may not know or if you do so that others understand a little better.
Yes cyberlimb for ease of maintenance are now wireless. The thing is the signal is 0, meaning that to even detect or hack the limb you have to be within 3 meters. In the case of streetsam it is to be dangerously close to them. Also not all cyberware are visible.
For the people in shadowrun, the comlink is the most important piece of equipment they possess. It is your PC, your portable computer, your cell phone, your passport your ID’s. So it is only natural that you can put protective programs inside your comlink. For most people they are outdated, low level defense program but for shadowrunners it become different. No your average streetsam won’t have a comlink as powerful as the one the hacker own but considering is line of work it is better to be safe than sorry. And yes he will also link his cyberware to his comlink for extra protection or he can deactivate the wireless of the cyberware. Yes it can be done and it is literally a simple on/off switch.
Personally I like the technomancers but again I do understand your reservation for them, the only thing I will add is that at character creation, the hacker is more powerful compare to the technomancer. The difference is that usually the hacker is at its peak at charater creation while the technomancer can learn and become far more stronger than the hacker in the long run.
Of course putting sprites in drones has pilot is pure evil :)
Yeah I was going to post about this but basically the wireless mode can just be turned off and you can also buy cyberware without any wireless component. The reference in the main rules for this are under TURNING IT OFF p.314 of the anniversary core.
Thanks for the quote! I did not realize, that his was already written in the core rules…
As Louis Deschênes already pointed out a lot of stuff, especially that it is much easier to stop the communication and that there is a limit to the wireless-interface of Cyberware (Do not worry about your English, Louis, I am from Germany and also try hard.).
The world of Shadowrun is not a nice place, of course.
But those Renraku attacks mentioned by you are an example of extremely unrealistic situations and story telling. I can imagine, that (some people at) Renraku would try to punish the runners directly after the run or perhaps once later on. But several times?!? Whatever they did to Renraku it should have been something like “Starting the Arcology Shutdown event”, everything else is just not believable, even on the gaming world level of Shadowrun.
Corporations may behave “evil”, but they are still business and profit-oriented organizations. Certain Mr./Mrs. Johnsons may hold a grudge against the runners, but after some failed attempts to get revenge, they will already have to do a lot of explaining, why they wasted so much coporate money for such a pointless task.
As a GM you have the possibility to instantly kill player characters with ANYTHING, that is possible in the gaming world. But why should you do that? That’s no fun for anyone and turns out to be unrealistic really fast (“You got hit by a dragon, that decided to land on your head. No, you are not allowed to roll, the dragon is just too big. Create a new character please!” ;)).
The possibilities are ALWAYS there, but a GM should never use them!
I have been mastering Shadowrun sessions on a regular basis for almost 18 years now.
There is a certain set of rules, I always stick to. This is one of the most important: The players can only be killed, if the dice fall really unlucky, they mess up something completely or they just do something far too stupid to be real. This prevents the GM from taking the game far too personal, as I happened to experience this a long time ago with other groups, players and GMs. Roleplaying is never the GM/gaming world against the players in my opinion. It is the story to be told with the help of the GM and his players. The players get challenged by the story or the events of the GM, but the intention of the GM should only be to tell a story and test his players wits, characters and story contributing abilities. If the intention of the GM is to outright kill his players, he should really start rethinking his role as a GM and what roleplaying really is about…
Sorry for the philosophy insight, but I believe our different and contradicting opinions come from a completely different style of roleplaying.
The rules set of Technomancers may be similar to mages, but I believe this was done to simplify the rules. The Otaku were already very close to the Technomancers, but they had a far too complicated rule set attached and I am happy the way the Technomancers turned out.
Do you know Cyber Zombies? They were introduced in 2nd Edition in the Cybertechnolgies source book. Magic is used to bind the “dying” spirit to a machine body. There have been several “small” occurences of this connection between the two…
I still do not believe, that Technomancers are made by Magic. There was once the though, that Otaku were created by a reporgrammed brain chemistry, which allowed them to develop their abilities. That is not really magic, this is quite surely artifical and as you know Magic ability is written in to the DNA in Shadowrun. So this would mean Technomancers would have to be born with a certain DNA, but that was not the case for the people that turned into them. They are something artifical and something very special.
But I know understood a lot better, where your problems with Technomancers come from. Perhaps I could show you, why I do not believe, they are “magic users in the machine”, but we will never know for sure unless something offical has been stated about this in some future source book (but I really doubt they will ever do this).
What if the Decker had a few nerd friends that were also Deckers that were able to access the terminal after the Decker Player remotely opened the doors for them? Then you can have a full Matrix adventure by having the other players play out roles as the other Deckers. That way, every one gets to participate in the adventure.
Well, I did have a streamlined form of hacking roughed out, but it wasn’t really in a done state. The basic idea was to run hacking as a sort of combat duel or extended skill challenge, treating the hacker and system to be hacked as characters. Each can “damage” the other. Since the hacking character can’t whip up new programs on the fly, and the computer has pre-determined countermeasures, software becomes like equipment. You can only have a few programs readied, which you have to decide in advance (maybe giving the character a round to probe the system and get a rough idea of what kinds of software its running, in the form of good or bad advice from the GM – based on how good their check – on what you’d need to crack it). Software can protect against hostile programming, increase hacking effectiveness, or provide special bonuses to overcome specific countermeasures, like weapons, armour, and damage reduction. A player’s skill at hacking becomes their in-matrix health. If they beat the system, they get what they were looking for. Fail and they get booted out of the system, with a chance that it acts like setting off a trap in fantasy games – probably not fatal (one assumes the hacker has feedback protection, unlike civilians) – but possibly, and still dangerous and/or damaging (it might just set off an alarm) either way. As a further price of failure, they are locked out of that interface, but can still try to find another access point (or try again, though it will be harder or have specific requirements). Even on a fail, they could roll to see if they learn anything useful in the process. Also, rather than death from hacking, I prefer to go with “You fall into a coma, the rest of the party will have to find someone with the medical skill to resuscitate you.”
I would do something akin to what is seen in the Megaman Battle Network Series in that each character has an avatar that they can upload an operate inside of the mainframe. The characters would be seprate and autonomous from their IRL counterparts but still combat effective. Then, to increase the deckers use, allow him to have the most valuable and important skills, so that he himself must grab the file but the others aid in combat.
After a brief bit of thinking about it, I can see a few ways to fix the system.
The easiest is to just slow it down. Instead of everything happening instantly, give the hacker some additional combat rounds. Even as little as two would get the idea of how fast things are happening in the computer world without bogging down the rest of the party. It’d also make for some tense situations in the case of a combat already going on.
Another option, either by itself or combined with the first, would be to simplify the decking mechanics, but not to the point where it boils down to a single roll. I don’t know the specific mechanics of Shadowrun, but off the top of my head, I can think of one way it could be done: the hacker and the computer are treated as specific characters with their resources (programs) being equipment. There are several phases which the hacker must complete.
Probe Phase: the Hacker attempts to discover what sort of resources the computer system will have to better prepare for the assault. This phase is optional. There is no penalty for failure, other than no or bad intelligence.
Insertion Phase: the Hacker attempts to get inside the computer system. Failure can set off an alarm, lock out the terminal, or both.
Search Phase: The Hacker attempts to find the specific information/subsystem they want to take/affect. Failure can boot the Hacker from the system (requiring a reattempt from Insertion) or any combination with the failures of the insertion phase.
Cracking Phase: This is actually retrieving the information/subsystem. Failure is the same as the Search Phase.
Extraction Phase: The Hacker attempts to exit the system and erase any data regarding their intrusion. If an alarm has been raised or for some reason the Hacker doesn’t care about leaving footprints behind, this is optional.
It’s complex enough to retain a lot of the hacking flavor without bogging down the session.
Here’s a thought. Use checks, but if a check is failed then it initiates a cyber combat. That would be enough to keep it interesting for the decker without derailing the mission. This could work inside the mainframe as well. Call it a firewall check, where if passed an enemy is defeated immediately, but failing results in a battle. This could streamline things a bit and add the feel of increased speed inside.
The problem you mentioned that doesn’t seem to t addressed is what to do if the decker dies. It’s comical how no one thinks of grabbing the physical hard drive in this situation. Nab the drive and take it to someone who can access the files. May not be the perfect way, but it sure beats leaving empty handed.
That’s really a bummer, it practically eliminates half the game, since the cyberspace is such an important part of the genre itself. It translates well to computer games but not really to pen & paper. Perhaps if someone makes a cool flash game add-on to Cyberpunk 2020/Shadowrun where you just have a PC there in the room and when the decker goes “hacking”, the guy literally walks over to the computer and does the scenario there. That could work out, of course it would be in realtime also.
The most simple way to do this is to make it happen in real time.
Also we seriously decomplicated the process. If you want to get a file or disable a camera we had to find a terminal on their same network (Or get the right frequency on our deck). Alright. Roll Computers. Roll Search. Heres a list of folders, which one do you go into? Simple stuff like that. Just making it as simple as possible. Combat was sweet and to the point, enemies didnt have large amounts of health. It was an In and out if you rolled right.
A virtual tabletop or a skype chat is probably the best place to do this sort of thing, so seperate chat windows can be used, but as you’ve said, running what is effectively two sessions simultaneously is a major problem.
One way it can be done is something that was in the Mutants and Mastermind Anime rules for flashbacks, in that the story is focussed on the guy who’s having the flashback, but the GM and the other players take on the personas of other characters in the flashback, turning it into a sort of pseudo competitive aspect. The problem is, though, that everyone who isn’t the GM and the Decker will find it a bit jarring to suddenly change characters, especially if the group is very roleplay heavy.
Speaking of Roleplay, you could have it be only a couple of checks, and then when the decker comes back out, he can simply make up a story on the fly (if such a story is needed), and any key files or encounters in the matrix can be given in much greater detail, but keep such important encounters to a minimum.
If the Decker dies and the file is lost, maybe you can have the Mr. Johnson character say “Well, I took up a contingency and had another Shadowrunner get the file” or your Fixer/Face guy gets contacted by a new Hacker who has the file and will sell it for you at a ludicrously high price, taking the story into new territory.
we will need more hemp before we are through with this monkey paladin
Shadowrun 4th Edition solved it with the Wireless Matrix. Since you can
hack remotely via wireless on the fly now, “Hackers” (they’re no longer
called Deckers” can stay in the party and there’s no more “time out”
while they do their thing. It’s only necessary if they need to do a
full cyber-jack-in to the old Virtual Matrix, and that’s usually
something you resolve on downtime now.
Breaking into a corporation’s mainframe will still require the hacker to be “on site”, as they will quite surely have blocked all “outside the perimeter wireless communication”.
If it really happens at that kind of super speed you could have the rest plug in too and play “World of 4thE Craft”.
I don’t know much about the rules, but since I watched this and read some comments in my opinion the best way to make things go smoothly is have every person in the sesion that wants, make his alternative character that he can play as a party member of the hacker while he’s hacking. This character should have abilities that corespond to how good the hacker is. The better he is at it the better their stats, items and/or abilities and upgrade with him becoming better at it.
This will give a good side advanture, be it long or short , that won’t hurt the time frame of the other advanture (the 2-3 sec the actual hacking takes). A good enough justification for having them would be if the DM asks/suggests “Do you think your character would make some programs (the alternative characters) to help him with his hacking, because he’d realize that the defences of this world be imposible to breach w/o them. (this would also mean making the miniadvantures harder than if he was hacking it normally.
The characters can be made by the other players or the hacker himself and they shouldnt need to be at all like what his friends are (after all supposedly he made them himself and they should never dissobey a direct order from the may virtual body(even if it’s suicide)). In my opinion the DM can say that the whole virtual party is the hacker so untill they all die the adventure continues since they should be made by the hacker and know how to do what he knows(in the unlikely situation where they all die the hacking attempt fails and the hacker either dies or goes down depending on a save roll). The characters needing be the same for each attempt (exept the hacker himself I’d guess) but it would save a lot of time making them. If someone is not present at the session or not everyone wants to participate you can justify having less virtual members by saying “This terminall can’t take more than x programs/”insert apropriate name here” working at the same time. Wether dead alternative characters can be reused after death should be left to the DM, but all progress they make can only occur via the hackers improvment in his skills.
When the files or whatever is acquired then everyone takes back their main character sheets and resume from where they left(if they can remember :) ).
When I played shadowrun we were stealing physical chips or bio samples or people, and the decker’s job was to confuse the enemy security drones. Actually we did not have a decker, but a rigger with some skills deckers use, who was physically present only via drones. The Samurai was better, but the decker’s bodies were expendable and sometimes stolen.
So the solution was to not use the matrix, but to have other things for the tech guy to do.
You did mention this briefly in your video that Shadowrun 4 goes a massive way to improving this existing issue. Much like in Ghost in the Shell (Stand Alone Complex) all characters can hack because everyone has a computers (or PAN as their called) and can buy their own programs that allow them to get involved in cyber adventures and combat. The Hacker then becomes the mage/thief of the group, spoofing accounts and getting the group past a firewall so they ICE doesnt attack them immediately. If the brown stuff hits the fan they can all use their armour and attack programs to help. They wont be as good as the Hacker (and shouldnt be) but they can help and because they are likly not wired directly into the Matrix thanks to Augmented Reality then when the ICE takes our their Avatar all that happens is they get force logged out and cannot get back in.
Maybe the other solution is for the file-stealing stuff like that to just have the skill check to grab the files, but more intricate stuff like massive mainframes do the Matrix-type “everyone jumps in” thing? That way the Decker can still be a specialist and when the party goes into the grid he can be party “leader” as he has more knowledge of the place than them?
I’ve run a successful cyberpunk game where most of the party would be infiltrating a building, while the hacker sat at home and hacked into its system remotely, watching what the others are doing through the security cameras, unlocking doors and deactivating security systems. Everything the hacker does raises his chance of being detected and attacked by ICE. The other guys can help the hacker, too; the hacker might find out where the ICE is being hosted and send them the message “Destroy server 3 in room 7-26!” You have to lose the idea that decking happens at the speed of thought, but it works.
Here is another idea that is makes a little more sence than the “Projecting Friends” method. Use the Decker as a mobile HUB that the other players can connect to with some kind of a device, that is connected to they spinalcord or something. That way it makes more sence that the other players can play, and it would also make sence if the decker could give instructions to them. With this its actually good that the hacking takes only nanoseconds. Noone is in danger, it makes sence, everyone can play. Have fun
Are there anyone at all who actually enjoys watching counter monkey?
Stop wasting time on this and use it on video/movie reviews.
I like Counter Monkeys. Im actually a bit disappointed that he is cutting them so short. (10mins? WTF? That shouldnt have been a separate video, it easily belonged to the others)
I actually thought it a bit “cheap” of Spoony, like he did it on purpose to have more to post^^
Well, considering this Counter Monkey sprung up from discussion started by the previous Counter Monkey (it’s on his Twitter), I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.
Still. Content ratios have been lower than ever here on TSE.
Yeah, there are. Sorry to shatter the illusion for you.
I really love counter monkey episodes, as they remind me of a lot of classic roleplaying sessions and stories from my past. If there were more episodes of this, I would not mind…
Yes, Counter Monkey is my favorite thing Spoony does.
Why yes, yes there are, quite a few of us.
So please do skip ahead and let us enjoy the hell out of this stuff, okay?
Well… what about simplifying Cyber Space battle by house rule while giving enough edge to Decker class so not everyone thinks it sucks? Other idea would be increase importance of real time wireless matrix; Wait, YouTube? What do you mean by YouTUbe?
im pretty new to table top games in general but i may have a solution. include a house rule that when a decker goes into the net it puts a strain on his body requiring him to recuperate for a few minutes after use. this way the decker goes in and does his thing while at the same time in real time for the rest of the party hes done but needs to rest. this allows the party to have an encounter or do certain story related events but in a different timeline while at the same time the decker has his side adventure. ideally when the decker is done the party is done with there encounter at the same time so when the player comes back to reality he simply wakes up and rejoins the party in the same timeline. sounds kinda complicated i think i could explain it better if i could say it rather than type it.
My hacked together solution for Cyberpunk 2013/2020 games, from back in the mists of time – which does run into the split-narrative problem – was a House Rule. By Referee fiat, 3 turns of Netrunner time was one turn of Real Time. That way at least the other at least characters got something to do.
You could build mini-cliffhangers into the narrative though, which served to keep the players on both sides of the real/virtual world divide interested while the others were doing their stuff. Say someone gets shot; save the damage roll until after the netrunner has done their bit. The combat oriented players are feverishly working out what to do about the injured party member and how bad it will be. Or the netrunner is trying to break down a data wall or fight a Hellhound or somethng; roll the result and wait until the combat characters have done their stuff before you tell him/her the result. The netrunner player is trying to work out plans for if it’s gone wrong.
It did slow the games down something chronic though. And you really have to be on your game as a Referee to keep it going and make it exciting for both sets of players.
Either abridge the Decker’s adventure via flavor text, or find a way to use time-dilation to benefit the narrative. Inception did this perfectly by using the Dream Levels as an excuse to make a combined Car-Chasing/Hotel-Shifting/Avalanche-Gunning/Limbo EXTRAVAGANZA ENCOUNTER! Otherwise, find other way to keep Deckers. Cyberspace is already an awesome enough concept. I’d really like to see how Cyberpunk 2077 might utilize it!
A few observations here from a Cyberpunk 2020 referee..
Speed of thought really isn’t that fast. That’s why athletes, soldiers, game players talk about muscle memory. It just takes too long to think. So try slowing down your net rounds, and have them at a 1:3 ratio, at fastest. When I GMed, my ratio was 1:1 to avoid any issues when the decker used the net to affect the meat world. (Autoguns, door controls, ROVs)
Another thing is that, at least in CP, you can get hardware for a cyberdeck that allows people in the meat world to follow along with what’s going on. Simply put, a monitor, speakers and a microphone. :) There’s even a phone splice so the netrunner can talk to the others via the net. (VOIP anyone?) This is very handy not only when the meat players need help, but the runner as well. I used to use a program called Jack Attack to keep the decker from logging out, then I would break out the nasty stuff. After a few bad run ins, the decker kept someone next to him, just to pull the plug in case he got caught with this or any other black ICE. (Gave the fixer something to do, ’cause there was no way he was getting his hands dirty with combat!)
I also came up with house rules so that other PCs could surf the net. (I treated Interface like it was a Solo’s Combat Sense.) Our Corp & Techie players liked this alot.
As for intigration with the rest of the group, I’m open to suggestions as well. I’ve used all of the methods you mentioned, cutting back and forth in combat, free forming simple runs, and running a seprate session for the big stuff. That seemed to work the best. When I wrote adventures, I would try to plan it out so that I could minimize that sudden halt. But.. players have free will and shit happens. So we always kept a Lunch Money deck on hand.
Failure is always an option? Fit’s pretty well with 2020. That game is damn lethal. Can’t tell you how many game sessions went sideways. (As both player & GM) Someone was always getting maimed/killed. I even used to tell my players to make back-up characters. It’s almost like Call of Cthulhu, where you’re just trying to survive. (KotDT Cattlepunk stories cover it well.) Sometimes, like in your Thieve’s World game, failure makes the game more interesting. It also helps to have a couple book adventures on hand, just in case. ;)
Don’t know how much this would apply to Shadowrun, but I hope it helps future GMs.
PS: Read ‘Listen Up You Primative Screwheads!’ It helped me alot, not only in Cyberpunk, but in all games. (Especially how to deal with problem players.) Well worth the $12. (Cause we would never download the torrent…)
I don’t see why the hack needs to be metaphored (it’s a verb now, trust me) into a fight scene. Why not replace the battle with a samurai with a task that’s more closely suited to hacking? Have the decker use basic cryptography to decode a phrase or sentence. Nothing scarily complicated, mind you. The difficulty would depend on the payoff. Either way, deckers would have an advantage because of their hacking stats. Some of the code would be solved already and how much would be relative to a character’s relevant skill. Anyone COULD solve a code but it would be very difficult for non-deckers.
There are also other options. Riddles, puzzles, sudoku(?)…And like I said before, deckers would get extra hints or partial answers because of their skills.
These challenges could happen in realtime with the other players because (if done right, on the part of the DM) it should take minutes, not hours.
During said decker minigame i would be running off-round stuff with the other characters outside of cyberspace. Problem solved.
It’s just like running multiply combat encounters in DnD at the same time with a split group. Really not that hard. And yes, there IS supposed to be a juxtaposition between the two kinds of combat works. As for the time thing… ignore it, big deal. Give the decker more turns per round or simplify his task. I can think of a dozen ways around this problem.
O SHIT! I just thought of it. Change over a bit how the Internet works. Have it be overlayed onto the real world and visible with cyber eyes or Augmented Reality Glasses. THen all the Cyber-Combat can take place at the same time as normal combat. You will need to essentially have each player have a set of stats for cyber combat based on their class. It would be a bit of a dramatic change but could work. Players could have to option to put their cyber presence into a hidden or dormant mode so they are not forced to partisipate. Would come in handy for the Ogre with an assault rifle that is busy fighting corporate guards.
Noah, I honestly agree with everyone stating that you should just cheat and log in the extra players as VR avatars. I’m not sure how Shadowrun works but there might be some logical way. Maybe the Decker thought to him self, “hey I could program basic AI units to fight with me based on these goons.” You could also basically can roll up a bunch of basic VR Avatar characters for any decker to have. Ask the players what they would like to use or give them a Avatar sheet based on what they picked. Make close range, long, mid, change the names of weapons and attacks based on computer stuff or what ever.
Again I don’t know how Shadowrun works but I think the main decker would be the idea and leader of his VR group. It has to have at lest dice roll so maybe the VR Avatars would have a error roll. And if they get 5 or less [based on D20 of course] on any major move they would ether freeze or do something random. That way the decker isint over powered and you don’t need to boost up the adventure.
I had an idea that might actually be enjoyable for both parties. It’s actually a modification of something I used to sort of teach a player a lesson. Short story is that one player really screwed up by being a dumbass and annoyed the rest of the group. So I tried to solve it in game by putting his character on trial. I had the players in character state their case and then had the ruling NPC make hers and then hand down judgement. I decided to have a trial by combat to resolve it.
Anyways the problem was I didn’t want the rest of the players to be bored while I ran this side story combat. So I had them take on the roles of the opponents in the arena. That way they were involved, and the fight took an extra edge because it had the other players behind it. Same thing could be done for decking scenarios. As soon as the hacker goes into VR, have the players become the enemy programs. At the least they have something to do, in the best case scenario they get really into it, and really go after the decker character.
As far as the thing about the deckers is concerned, I believe that I have a solution for you.
Instead of treating the decker as a “separate entity” give the player
characters a Non-HD class level ( A class level for which a character
gains skill points and abilities but not hit points. ) Doing that pretty
much allows you to enter a decking session with an entire group of
characters that have one “level” in decker. In lieu of using a high
level decker you have four low level ones that have to combine their
skill to surpass ICE. In order to do this you roll the skill check as if
you were normally doing something, and add the skill modifiers of all
Should the attempt fail, say that the
characters were able to access the server, and were unable to bypass the
ICE, due to a “Defense barrier array” or “Having your cyber-brain
backed up in memory or on a remote server” the characters were able to
exit the decking session without failing.
Remember this is computers you’re working with here, for all intents
and purposes when the characters enter a decking session they are
essentially computers. So that means that you can use Computer lingo and
Cyberpunk jargon to get them out safely without ruining the game.
You can even create and adventure out of the failure as well. The four
players are unable to get through the counter measures the server has
and were ejected from the mainframe via security. When their backup of
their cyber-brain is downloaded from a remote server via a fail-safe
program, the player characters go back to their client the client is
nowhere to be found, and now because of their failed attempt they’ve
left traces of their presence on the servers and have to escape from the
police / mafia / etc.
When you’re playing these games don’t
forget that you have the power to completely change the game world. You
aren’t constrained to a sourcebook and if it would make your game
simpler to give everyone a level of decker for free, do it up. You could
even go so far as instead of giving them a level, just change it so
that every class has the same class skills as the decker class and give
them decker abilities synonymously as they level up. ( This is similar
to Pathfinder & DND 3.5 incorporating classes that added “+1 level
of existing class” via spells per day, so that while leveling a prestige
class or an advanced class they could still gain spells as if they were
leveling up wizard, sorcerer, etc. instead. )-Craig A. Baxley
I think others have said similar things, but I’d have the others take up the role of sub-programs in the decker’s deck, that could do things semi-autonomously – so you’ve got one that breaks through firewalls, say. Because this is cyberpunk, these programs can have ridiculous avatars, like a mecha-gorilla in the firewall example. May have to do some rules re-jigging but I think it works better
Stebsis has a really valid point with having the decker act as a sort of not only wireless access point (or memories of party members assist).
Particular classes could have particular strengths and weaknesses in the grid, and everyone can still play. They will effectively have two character sheets (one real life, one grid shadow) where the decker decides what the role of the character in the grid is like (example: if someone is the beefy tank, but the decker sees them more as diplomatic, and the caster or whatever has extremely high resolve and willpower and is seen more as a tank). Other deckers would have other opinions of people, which could really add some dynamic to how the game is played, and other deckers are very likely to have particularly strong grid shadows.
The way you can handle decker failure can be to the point where the systems assault the decker and push him out of the system where he would suffer a duration of some kind of penalty instead of death. The decker is already very likely to die in real life combat, why offer yet another way for the decker to die?
Perhaps turn the entire hack into a series of puzzles? Although I also dig the ideas stated about somehow projecting the rest of the group in there, or at least having that possibility (I imagine if you need someone on the door, you need someone on the door)
one way you could do it, is having some helper programs which the other characters, can then play as inside the decker world (programs most likely made by the decker, or possibly bought)
While I can understand the wireless Matrix in Shadowrun from a gameplay perspective, that raises the question why everyone would have their security network open to an outside wireless connection. Now that I think of it, that’s something to wonder even in the original. Why would you want every computer and remotely accessed electronic device in the building on the same network? What possible reason is there to have a connection between the desktop computer of a random office worker and security cameras? Even today we have networks which are completely disconnected from the outside world.
It might be interesting to make gaining access to the security network part of the adventure. Do you try to splice in to the wires at a camera or an electronic door lock? Maybe try to get the building’s blueprints beforehand and dig into a wire junction in the basement? Does the decker stay in place or just attach a wireless transmitter/receiver there and hope that security doesn’t locate it and go rip it out?
My guess that’s because most of these cyberpunk settings are from a time when the internet wasn’t as widely used and developed as it is now, leaving people with strange visions of “cyberspace”.
Heck, most modern-day hacker movies pretend EVERYTHING is connected to the internet, with hackers being able to kill you with your own microwave.
Anyone else think Spoony’s pose on the play screen of this video looks like Wierd Al on his 3D album?
Wait, I got it. The cyber world works in real-time, not nanoseconds (contrive a reason). Then you can go back and forth from real world action to cyber world.
My solution is pretty simply: I gave them a virus that, if used, slowed down the target mainframe so that what happens in the main frame, is as fast as in reality, otherwise I would have them run a single check and have them out, since a computer environment in my campaign would be incomprehensible for a human being at normal core speed.
I also had the two teams, the jacked-in hackers and the others cooperate to get the goal, for example have the outer team find a controll room and cutting electricity to the firewalls so that the hackers could proceed and gain access to the door controls to let the outer team move further into the base for addiotional cooperative measures.
Another thing I made for a few campaigns, was that the hacker had avatar programs that were actually quite like a video-game character that was controlled by the other party members. (in one campaign they even had to use controllers for them, because plugin in would have triggered another alarm.)
Why is it that these grim and gritty cyberpunk futures where NOTHING looks new and pristine always feature a virtual wonder world Oo ?
This actually kind of bothered me because I play a Hacker in Shadowrun because indeed they are essential. However, the game is built around how many initiative passes you get, which is essentially how many “turns” you get in one “turn.” It simplifies things because character A does his turn, and then in the Matrix (if you’re decked-in) Hacker character B gets 3, which is an abstraction of how fast the brain is working. Same goes for Street Samurai with, say, Wired Reflexes, which lets them have more Initiative Passes, which simulates Agent Smith-like movement. There’s a sense of suspending your disbelief a bit so that the game mechanic at the meta level can actually function.
-And as an added note, I am our social butterfly in our Shadowrun group, so I serve more of a purpose than just being there to get files–I’m almost like our faceman as well. Also, in a one-on-one conflict, I can’t hold my own in a fight by definition. So our Street Samurai handles physical threats while our mage guy handles magical threats. It works!
i think i got it if you must have Deckers make it so the computer he is trying to hack is a super computer i always made one like S.H.O.D.A.N from system shock and make it so they get “trapped” by it make the computer so there all in the grid while there near it so the Decker get the hacking part and the others don’t get left out.
or just get a 2nd D.M to the one in the hackers world not recommended because every D.M has there own why of playing the game
Maybe make it so that everyone can jack into the decker and he uses them as extra space for decking, possibly even bringing in their subconscious so that the people can actually focus on barricading said door. That way, you could bring in the whole party, but to a weaker extent, that way it’s still the decker’s show, but the other party memebers aren’t just sitting there with a thumb up their ass.
I have no experiance in this type of RPG but from what you said, a decker could work in a team but hes use would be before the misson starts to hack some place to get info of layout of company or simple gettign the party menbers fake ID so they can go where they need, while he does that the rest of the team scouts or discuss the plan, the other situacion a decker would do has you said when they invade the building and need the decker to plugin to get the info, i suspect they are doing that not to be detected while taking the info from a isolated sistem that can only be acesses there so 2 ways to get the info get in unoticeeble plug in the decker get info, not possible or failed decker, bust in there get the main cache of info bust out , during decker hacking the place party out side have to make sure they remain unoticed or they are protecting the decker fighting people outside, the situacion would be stressful for gm to run.
Totally off topic, but Doug Walker has taken up the black hat and red tie again.
I’m sure Rob called Spoony or something.
Back to William Gibson’s 1985 musings on what the In-Ter-Net would look like…..
I’d go with the “Ghost in the Shell” route, everyone’s capable of “decking”. Again, it works better in a system where there’s no classes and it’s all skill based. Deckers would simply have higher success in the web versus non-specialists.
I think it’d be very easy to implement this in Cyberpunk (at least in V1 and V2 which I’m familiar with) by allowing anyone to take those “class” skills but they’re only allowed the one.
There are no real classes in SR. Cyberpunk does have classes, which get all the benefit of a single class skill, but all that means is that they get an edge in their field. Well, rocker boys get to create psychotic flash mobs, but nevertheless.
There is nothing preventing people from netrunning/decking in either game, but full immersions (rather than AR hacking) tends to require a lot of point investiture to get all the skills, hardware, programs, etc. Additionally, VR hacking rules tend to be every bit as complex as the actual game rules, so you’re basically demanding that the players learn twice as many rules. You can’t really half-ass it with netrunning (you can, but your characters will die, and you’ll barely even know what happened).
I do think the “everyone is a decker” is a decent, valid approach, but unless the players WANT to do that, they’re going to hate you for forcing them to learn a new system just for using some content that they don’t enjoy.
You could simply have the Decker bring with him like memories/remnants of his friends who fight along side him whilst in the matrix world. Something along those lines so non decker players are still in the action, but just make them less powerful than the decker or something.
Easy solution to the problem – Net Pets.
Have the Decker be able to have “support programs” which would be substitutes for the other Player Characters, so while the Decker is in combat, the ‘help’ programs can be played with a simplified combat system by the other Player Characters.
Now I’ve never played Cyberpunk, nor do I own any books, but here’s my idea.
4 words: “Companion Memories Detected: Import?”
The Decker basically retains a mental image of all the party members he’s playing with. And as such he has his own character sheets for them. Their stats, etc. would be based off his perceptions of them. If they have massive charisma but get chronically unlucky, the Decker would have them statted at low charisma. If they oneshot some enemies their strength may be through the roof in the Decker’s mind. If they are particularly proficient in certain skills but never use them, then the Decker’s vision of them won’t have any stats in that skill.
This creates multiple changes to the Decker Class:
EVERYONE can play in the hacking challenges, but it’s a glorified Escort quest. While the other players can play, they can’t grab and retain the data. Not only that but now the Decker is the MOST IMPORTANT player to talk to and role play with. If you act the loner towards the Decker your cyber counterpart will be horribly weak. But if you show yourself up every chance you get infront of them you’ll be nigh on a god.
Not to mention that if a Decker moves through multiple campaigns they might have a massive library of past heroes to call upon to aide them either as NPCs or replacement characters for the other players.
Also, it completely eliminates the problem of the game grinding to a halt (unless the Decker hasn’t maintained his “mental” character sheets). No one gets left out, unless the Decker is an asshole, and everyone can contribute to the fight. Even doing so much as going out in a blaze of glory if they so choose because they know their character will still survive. (You could create some downside to this if you like)
The only problem I can think of for this, is strictly because I don’t know the rules of Online Combat. Maybe the Fighter doesn’t translate well into cyber combat, maybe the Mage doesn’t. I don’t know.
BUT, the above should get you around a house rule of “no deckers” and instead grant you a house rule of “Deckers must maintain character sheets based on their perspective of their partners.”
Can’t you just make it happen in real time?
So the party can do something else meanwhile?
I know it’s supposed to be as you said, almost instant, but, you also said that it’s kind of a flaw in the game.
Maybe come up with some tecno thing like “well, this is a first gen plug thing, and it’s slow, but it’s the only way to connect without being detected because it wasn’t tagged by the government” or something like that?
SR4 took a good whack at it. Because you can do Matrix combat however quickly you want or slowly.
If it’s finding a file, it’s a couple rolls OR you have constructs or programs that you build that can do that for you.
The other option can bog it down with real full-on combat, which would take a half hour away from your game, which is not recommended unless more people are engaged.
I’ll be honest, the most fun we’ve ever had with Shadowrun 4ed, was planning. Going all Ocean’s Eleven/A-Team and planning out something elaborate and executing all the pre-planning then going on a run and hoping nothing goes wrong.
Most of the Hacking happens before hand, or you prepare programs for the run, so while the rest of the party is planning you and your hacker buddies (if you have more than one hacker) go 1-1 with the GM and have most of the battles beforehand, because there won’t be hacking during the run. (unless it’s like taking out a door, or finding a file, but if it’s an ICE battle you’ve probably already prepared programs to take out that ICE in 1-2 dice rolls with all your helper programs(Sprites))
Honestly if you’re hacking on the go(and it’s not planned) while running nuts without a plan you really have a problem.
y is none of the older counter monkeys working? im getting a not suported by youtube
Checked out this link here?
Works fine for me so far. That error message sounds weird Oo
Thanks, can finally see the video. Been getting a:
“The video is not available anymore via youtube.com”
Message since this was posted.
Weird. Maybe it’s a cache-related problem?
i’m having the same problem, at first i thought we were being trolled because of the name of the video. i’ll try this link. but it’s so weird.
REALLY?! this app cuts off the last letter of my real name. bull…
Heh i got to say i am a big fan of cyberpunk as a genre in witch to tell stories … and a big rpg fan, so these videos are alot of fun for me to watch. In fact everything you do is alot of fun Spoony :) i can’t wait to see what comes out next
On a side note: anyone else having trouble playing the old Counter Monkey vids? I can’t play any except Punk and Connection Timed Out and i get some bs “this video is no longer available on youtube.com”
I can’t even play the new ones.
Thx man :) I wanted to take another look at his “instruction” videos :D want to get a bit into DM-ing with a bunch of friends who are totaly new into the PnP Rpg and i want to be able to give them tips, as well as be a good DM :D
NOW I get the reference in Saints Row the Third! Had heard of this game, but hadn’t gotten enough details to make the connection.
One solution I could think of would be to introduce a system where the Decker creates AI programs they can bring with them into the Matrix that the other players can play as. Maybe there could be a separate leveling system for both AIs and the Decker when in the Matrix.
Could even make the real world game a bit more interesting if the Decker is often talking to voices in their head :D
Anyone know of any Cyberpunk style games that may use a solution like that?
Uh it keeps saying its not available on youtube anymore.
Uh, Spoony, I think there’s something wrong with the video. When I click the play button, it comes up and says “This video is not available anymore via youtube.com.”
Well, I suppose you could just change the type of action from a crawl in a dungeon type scenario to a single monster attack. Widdle down its health (which could be easy or hard depending on level), and roll skills for bonuses, etc etc. I’m not sure why it absolutely has to happen in super speed, either, seeing as every popular culture depiction of couriers or net runners requires them to focus and hack in real time. So, if you just change those two things, you could have a very interesting battle, where the decker/net runner has to be protected by the party while they hack, and the party has something to actually do because it doesn’t take place in just 2 seconds or less. Hope that helps! Hoping to GM a Shadowrun game someday, myself, and this is what I’d do!
What if you wrote a “choose your own adventure” side story to give the Decker while the other’s were in combat, keeping him at the table but removing him from combat. The excuse could be very high security?
Why am i getting “this video is no longer available on youtube” when I try to play this?
I think Youtube killed the video; I keep getting an error “This video is not available anymore via youtube.com”
Either forgo the time difference for the sake of balance (IIRC, what the book tells you to do in 4e Shadowrun) or, use a video game for matrix combat.
The way my group handled things in Shadowrun was that we hired NPC Deckers to gain any information we needed, or to get us codes in order to get things done in our mission. We also allowed Riggers to do minor decking when it came to locks to simplify things. No one WANTED to be a Decker anyway so it worked. This also caused us to find alternate ways to complete missions that would require a Decker.
Well if I remember correctly in cyberpunk 2020 there were 3 netrunner rounds for every meatspace round, FNFF(combat) rounds are 3 seconds, net-turns are 1. So it slowed the game down a bit, but I instituted a rule where all 3 actions had to be declared at the beginning of the turn with the ability to adjust one action on the fly as the dice were rolling.
Another option that was popular just as the Netrunner cardgame was going out of print and you could get cards for cheap. And with some slightly modified rules you could do a run against a server each FNFF round.
One of my biggest regrets is that. in my youth, I never played any of these board games. Hell, I never even played Magic, or anything like that. Now, it wasn’t my fault, as I grew up in Russia and South Africa, and so was the only geeky dude in my neighborhood (it sucked) and, to this day, I don’t have a group of people with whom to experience these things.
I said the above to make it clear I’ve never played Cyberpunk (or heard of it until CD P R announced they were making a game out of it), and so I could be entirely off base, and if so, forgive me my ignorance.
When you were talking about the problems with Deckers, that they slow the game down because in this PC reality everything happens in a micro second… why not make things happen in real time? That way you can have two games running simultaneously and the other people don;t have to go home, they can just keep playing. Have Deckers physically disappear from our reality into the Matrix so the other players or monsters or whatever can’t cheap shoot his immobile body… or will that not work?
The latter would work for a cyberpunk game, though disappearing bodies wouldn’t be themely for SR4.
AR (augmented reality) takes place in real time, and doesn’t even require the character to leave the group. It was a response to another problem with cyber hacking: movies often have those neat moments where they need instant hacker support, so they get behind cover and the character hacks in and stop the local automated defenses (or opens plate steel door or whatever), while a firefight is raging.
You can do that now. Your decker can even take place in the firefight by splitting actions — which basically means that while you’re doing abstract hacking, you hop up and fire a few rounds from your SMG. You can do it just fine, but you’re not focusing 100% on either task.
The problem Spoony mentions is mostly that the full immersion (full VR) scenes are tricky to do without one-on-one scenes, which he dislikes, or without running two completely different scenes side by side. You’d get something like this:
“John, the two guards fire at you, and (dice roll) one misses, his shots hitting your partial cover. The other (dice roll) hits, and (dice roll) a bullet penetrates your layered armor and armor weave, sinking into your flesh. Roll the dice. (dice roll) You fall down, but you don’t go into system shock. You bring your pain editor online, but your bio monitor shows that your liver is damaged. You need immediate assistance, but even with that you will need hospitalization or a ripper doc within half an hour.”
“Jenny, you see John going down next to you. What do you do?”
“I provide first aid.”
“Okay, you kneel by his side and cut through layers of kevlar with your vibroknife. (dice roll) It looks bad, but you get to work. You slow the bleeding with some clotting foam, and a slap patch, but you know he needs real help. Soon.”
“Dave, you catch the data hidden as iridescent butterflies, but see a samurai in full regalia hop along the tree tops.”
“I release my grey ice bees.”
It just seems a little odd at times.
I never played many tabletops but I can relate with the issues that deckers bring.
So my idea is a bit simpler to execute than the other presented so far, I think. What if you had points/resources to spend on decking and only on decking at character generation?
What I mean is, what if people could build their characters normally and also get decking abilities as a bonus so everyone can join in?
That’s the “everyone plays a decker” option. The problem for SR4 is that, as Spoony said, the decking rules take up about 1/4 of the books. The decking rules are about as complex as the actual game rules (this also holds true for magic, especially if you get into astral projection), so you’re basically slapping a brand new game down in front of the players and demanding that they learn it.
Quite honestly what you could do with a wireless network is say that the entire party networks with the decker but only the decker can bring them in. Local network through the one access port kind of thing, done, everyone is in for the cyber adventure.
I have a fix man.
When the Decker logs in, His buddies play “Attack Programs” that are pretty much itemless versions of their characters.
Gives the decker time to shine, and lets his buddies join in and have something to do.
the vid cant to wached anymore:(
Your video is broken. I keep getting the error message “This video is not available anymore via youtube.com”
Why not simply make something up to explain why the decker is stuck there for a long time to allow a battle outside, or even have them do other things. What if the decker and the rest of the party were separated from each other for a long time, but are in communication with eachother. In other words the decker has to retrieve a file from one place, and then dozens of places scattered far across, while the party has some sort of connections going on the real world, you could easily justify this happening at the same time.
I’ve never played the game though so this could all sound silly.
No, it’s sometimes done. While the described scenario is unlikely to add more than a few seconds to the hacking time, there are traps and such that can prevent a decker from logging out. The problem is still that that you have two “bipolar” scenes, including a “one on one computer grab-ass” scene (although I guess that could be limited a bit by just having two deckers).
Okey Cthulhu vs Lofwyr…. Would be interesting
Renraku Arcology Shutdown story is continued in the scenario books, Brainscan and System Failure. Brainscan tell how the shutdown is terminated, and System Failure is the big event who ended third edition and use heavily the IA of the Archology in the story, I remember System Failure have cool fluff section like shutdown do, and its really well done
Why not make the Decker character a hub for the others to enter the hacking environment.
The Decker merely acts as a proxy which translates peoples real world abilities into coded abilities whilst streaming the collective consciousness of the party. All the party can choose to drop in or out but if the Decker drops out then the hack is over… Sort of like how Shin Megami Tensai works with regard to main character death.
That would also mean that the dynamic of the hack would change, the computers defences would be focusing on one character and the party would be playing defence.
Probably a stupid idea.
The best way I’ve found to represent it is the very small roguelike game, appropriately titled Decker. It’s probably a 5mb download from http://www10.caro.net/dsi/decker/.
After he explained the problem it occurred to me that the other players could take the roles of AI squad mates that the hacker has programed. Like the decker had programed AI programs to back him up while on the net.
The character stats could be based on some skills and or attributes that the hacker has, witch would limit the amount of points the players would have to spend on each AI characters abilities/skills and what not. But at the same time as the hacker levels up and his skills increase, so to would the skills of the AI’s, because now he’s a better programer.
That way the other players could control the AI characters and not be left out of the net action. Though the hacker would be in charge I’d say the other players should create there own AI characters. That’s so the other players aren’t stuck playing characters they aren’t interested in. For the flavor, if someone asks why the hacker player doesn’t just make up the AI characters, you could say that the hackers experience with there real life squad mates influenced the creation of there AI programs.That’s not to say that the AIs are necessarily just digital copies of there real life counterparts though.
I think if you do it right, you could make the hacker feel like a bad ass, while they are in the matrix, while everyone else get’s to play there alt character. I think it could be fun.
After reading a few of the comments it seems others have come up with similar ideas but I just thought I’d add my bit.
I thought of that too, so I’ll just put a bit here in the end. The other players could be like the “options” in Gradius. Hovering around the decker, but still being tied to him.
They could even actually be little balls of light with the other player’s voices, and since they would be in the mind of the player, you could have some roleplaying fun where they are exaggerated versions of their personality.
Example; Like when “To Boldly Flee” had the cartoonish versions of Nostalgia Critc, Linkara, and Angry Joe inside of Spoon’s mind.
You can tell the players “Be what this guy probably thinks you are”
I guess there is always the Rogue Trooper “Biochip” Idea. Where the other players are personalities inside a gun, or other equipment. They could use their own dice rolls to buff the decker in a way befitting the equipment they are in the matrix.
SR4 kinda-sorta solved this via AR. It’s really *REALLY* awesome to be in VR, but then your meatbody is god-awfully vulnerable. If a battle is going on, you can basically give the decker 2 choices. Multi-task (and do it at meatbody speeds) or streight-up die.
10:55 “But it really sucks having your entire adventure hinge on this one guy doing this one thing and then him fucking it up”
What is LOTR
Master Cheif: I r not watching dis on da inturnets. I r watching dis on da xbox.
I’m a hacker. *Gets hit with a computer moniter*
I have an idea that may or may not work depending on the groups overall dynamic. You could place terminals sparingly throughout the game trying to space them out to be near the end of each session. Then you set up some kind of one on one game play in between sessions with the Decker so he can do the hacking and crazy cyber samurai battles. When the next session begins the outcome will be revealed to the rest of the group and it will have happened instantly in game.
That’s how it’s usually done, although Spoony declared a dislike for “one on one computer grab-ass” sessions.
The game is designed like that, by the way. If you want data that’s worth a damn, you will often find that the nodes aren’t connected to the main matrix, which is the whole reason you need to break into fortified buildings to get it.
Maybe you should just do it like they did it in Knightmare. You know, have the other players give the main guy directions. Granted, it didn’t work too well in the show but if you’re dealing with pro role play gamers then it shouldn’t be too difficult to work out.
It’s a Shame that Decking is such a specialized job in the game. I think a revision of the basics could have the basic entry of the matrix e something anyone can do, but the Deckers would be the ones that really shine.
It could even be a way to play with the dual nature of a world with both high technology and magic. Deckers could be the omnipotential masterminds inside the matrix, basic normals that don’t rely on magic or decking could essentially be themselves, and magic users could suffer a penalty for being a contrasting principle inside the world, losing not only their magic, but also basic abilites, equipment, and possibly even shrinking to half their size or other physical limitations.
The idea being that even having a lack of imagination is more powerful in a virtual world is more powerful than invested most of your daily life around spells.
Naturally this latest bit will not work for non-fantasy cyberpunk settings.
Ok so here is a possible solution i worked out while pondering this problem.
1) the decker makes copies of himself that the other party characters get to control, im sure u could work out some version where they all get like half of the deckers stats and 25% of their own character stats since it is their personality controlling these “avatars”, it makes it so that one or more of the characters can die and still finish the mission.
Not to stifle your ingenuity, but literally over a dozen other people posted nearly the same idea in the comments here before you.
It can be a little iffy sometimes, since it seems implausible that most cybernetics are connected in any way to the matrix, but modern cyberpunk (including SR4) are already doing that. In part, at least. They call it Augmented Reality.
Cybergeneration took it a little further, letting you hack just about anything, if your character had the Wizard mutation. Which, actually, is precisely what you describe. Cybergeneration wasn’t very popular, though. I believe that Spoony expressed hate for it in the previous video.
At any rate, AR is never the issue. It’s using full VR that’s the problem. Basically “this feature is extremely cool, but how do we use it without watering it down?”
The Decker needs to have his time in the spotlight and the ability to be usefull and cool, while the rest of the party have their moments. Essentially, if a character makes a decker, he should have a chance to show off his hacking skills and contribute in a way – uncover information about their mission they couldn’t have gotten otherwise or be a major contribution to solving whatever task is set before them. If his contribution is a single die role – that ain’t nearly as satisfying as using all the cool gear or abilities that combat characters have to choose from, and if everyone is “a bit decker” its nothing special. I think one solution to this problem is to intertwine the two conflicts
that need to be resolved here : The decking and the physical combat. While stopping the adventure for a full “run” isn’t practical and cutting between both conflicts is jarring and meaningless if the run only lasts for a few seconds, the Run might be split over several shorter runs and be brought more into the physical world instead of the abstract cyberworld.
Scenario: Break and entry into a facility and recover information critical to Mr.Mcguffin. The Party needs to enter the building (brute force, stealth or hacking). They need to overcome the guards (killing, fast talk, disguise and the like). They might need to circumvent security systems physicly or hack them, or need to get the decker into a position from where to hack them. They need to get into the main server room itself – same as entering the building again. And they need to grab the information – either by expertly hacking it out of the server itself or by doing a quick lookup and brutally ripping the drive from the server and get it hacked outside before making their escape.
In this short scenario, the decker can be usefull to the team in multiple ways, by granting access, overcoming specific enemies (automated turrets and robots for example) and making a key contribution to the success (in getting the data without the need to hire an NPC).
Most of these tasks can only be accomplished with specific gear(Softwares, links, special utilities etc.) and skills that nobody but the decker would posess or be good at – but the adventure could theoreticly be accomplished without him as well.
On the downside, you need to rewrite a lot of stuff to make things work that way and basicly ditch most of the programms and concepts presented in Cyberpunk (I’m going by the GURPS version of the setting btw.) and make decking a lot like arcane magic in a fantasy setting. Its specialised and occult knowledge that lets you deal with problems in a certain way while not pulling you into an alternate universe. That universe might still exist in the setting, but it should be a place the whole party can visit together.
I just thought of another idea that could work, with some effort. Since the other players are not likely to want to be deckers, could you not have them play as programs or expert systems that are like characters in the matrix? They basically have secondary characters that are a part of the decker’s arsenal, soldiers to his general. This way, they don’t have to worry about altering or corrupting their character concepts, and can still be involved at the table.
Deckers could give party bonuses, add buffs, or improve stealth if we wanted to be generic. I think a fun solution to the decker failing would involve security holograms that manifest in the room, wrecking the party’s perception of reality. This gives a DM an opportunity to produce a new group challenge. Or alternatively, holograms could be diversified as a type of creature that function like D&D undead, and deckers have abilities that would significantly assist the party against this class of creature. Haven’t really played much of shadowrun or cyberpunk, so sorry if this idea is already established. Just brainstorming.
I’m imagining that, in a real mission, the hacker would generally not be somebody at all physically present with the other characters if they could avoid it. To that end, I’m almost imagining overlaying the world the hacker is fighting in and the one the characters are in, then doing things in real-time. So it’s like he’s there, and he’s in communication with them, but his character isn’t actually physically present: he’s present in the matrix, following along with them and beating up security systems. That’d have a real Ocean’s 11 heist feel. But, I don’t know the matrix rules myself, so I can’t say how realistic that is.
As a side note, I’d imagine there’d be a lot less ICE if you were directly plugging into a mainframe directly. If the file’s on the box and you are at the terminal, I don’t imagine most corporations would go much further than encryption and basic authentication. People gotta use that machine for work and shit.
I’m actually right now specifically thinking of the chapter in Neuromancer where there are people infiltrating the corporation’s building while one team of hackers causes a massive distraction and the main character is guiding his cyborg girlfriend to the physical mainframe to I think destroy some files. In this case, your hackers are fooling around in a matrix-like net, but are doing so to fake out security cameras, make phone calls to the riot police, get blueprints of the building etc. all in support of the people on the ground.
Deckers bog down the game like Psions do in 3.5…You are waiting 20 minutes for the Psion to finsih adding up all of his math to do ONE attack…sure, it instant-kills him, it still grinds the game to a halt…
I guess you could have the other players run a side game, like maybe Dungeons and Dragons while your doing the decker level.
That or hope to God they don’t mind playing video games while they’re waiting for the decker to finish. That’s a tough one but it would really suck to leave that part of the game out.
My Cyberpunk 2020 (CP2020) group did find a solution to this problem, but it was rather extreme.
I’d have to track it down, but not long after the 1st edition of the game was released somebody coded a DOS game, I believe called “Netrunner”, that essentially replicated the rules for Netrunning from CP2020. There was a bit of an honor system since you had to enter in character stats manually to run through the “system”, and building new systems required some coding in assembler, but you could do it.
So when I was running CP2020, when the Netrunner needed to do his thing he would actually go off into another room where there was a desktop running the DOS game and he would try to complete that while the group either did other stuff or if it was short, just waiting (the DOS game was quite a bit faster than rolling it out). I didn’t do this too much because it was a many hours of work building the systems for the Netrunner to hack.
So, effectively the Netrunner was still playing a separate game, it was just a computer game he played at the same time the rest of use were doing tabletop.
I know I’m late to the party, but I’ll still make my suggestion.
I do like the idea of doing a Computer Skill Check. However, some security systems have multiple layers, so you would have to do a Computer Skill, or at least a Hacking Skill Check, per layer. If you screw up, the hacking taking a little longer than an instant. The other problem is Back Hacking. If your hacker screws up too much, Back Hacking, which is where a hacker is traced back through the signal that he is using, can be used to discover the physical location of the hacker. And who is normally with them? The rest of the party. Think about how that can be used.
Have a extra person to GM the decking while you GM the other players in there scenario.
So glad they axed the Matrix as a “side game” in the upcoming fifth edition. And the reasoning for it is pretty awesome, and ties into issues we’re dealing with ourselves: Megacorps have unanimously decided that an open, free internet is intrusive to their goals, and have essentially tore the Matrix a new one. They scrapped it, and reintroduced their own, except it has new protocols, safeguards, and powerful ICE built into it by default. Everywhere.
In short, for gameplay, this means moving through illicit channels beyond 100m is exceptionally difficult, and deckers instead operate with short-wave transmissions and brute-forcing themselves onto wireless devices.
Set the mainframe up as a story on index cards or a narrative on a laptop, and you give it to the decker to do as homework, or, as Spoony suggested, do a solo adventure with him. You could even do it before the game. Have him show up an hour early, and assume that they’ll get him to the computer, because lets face it, like life, the PCs will find a way.
Don’t know if you’re aware of this game Spoony, but there’s a free Half Life 2 mod called Dystopia (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thvhyUQRiMM) that’s like an action version of the RPG you’re talking about, there’s TONS of stuff that’s just like how you describe it here and in that other video about Cyberpunk. You’ve got the virtual world alongside the real world (people have to deck in with terminals) and there’s all kinds of upgrades to yourself or your virtual persona, stuff like cloaking, fall damage, powered armor suits, speed enhancements, it goes on and on, really cool game, very much worth checking out.
You could slow the decking process, so instead of being a complete session once s/he gets in, the decker gets x amount of rounds per normal combat round. That way there is even a secondary objective for the other players: to cover the decker. Because let’s be honest, having a deck with you is almost as stupid as being dressed as Gandalf, since you make yourself a target because you are a threat. Maybe not a physical one, but isn’t the guard going to shoot first the asshole who could potentially isolate him/her from reinforcements?
Saying “the game stops” seems a bit silly. There’s no reason the decker can’t be hacking while the samurai fights off guards and the rigger deploys drones and the mage goes astral to do their thing.
For the reason Spoony explains: the cyberspace stuff happens to fast for the samurai to raise his sword, never mind fight off guards. Of course, you could ignore that, but then you’d have an unrealistically slow super-internet of the future.
The newest version of Shadowrun has addressed this pretty well, actually. In addition to the AR hacking, the Matrix stuff has been more streamlined to where a decker pretty much has to do what he’s doing quickly and get out before the Grid Overwatch Division (GOD) traces his illegal activity and fries his cyberdeck (and possibly his brain). So by definition, a Matrix run can’t take too long or the decker/technomancer is toast.
Additionally, the manual flat-out tells GMs to switch between “scenes” at regular intervals, ignoring the real-time factor in favor of not having players sitting around twiddling their thumbs. It’s still not an ideal solution, but it works well enough.