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ludomastro
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« Reply #240 on: September 28, 2012, 02:52:00 PM »

I missed Masterminds and from the look of that film, I'm kinda glad I did.  However, I does capture the source material's feel pretty well - sad as that may be.  If you put aside the fluff rational for VR (data flow of that magnitude is too much for [meta-]humans, so we get a visual representation as a shortcut) then, yeah, VR Hacking doesn't make sense.  SO, we need some form of reasonable compromise to allow for Hollywood style Hacking on the fly as well as provide for those genres that have VR Hacking in all of its supposed glory.

The previous suggestion from Mr. A strikes a good balance in my opinion.  For those that don't want to go hunting, here it is:

Matrix level   Basic kit   Standard kit   Workshop
Augmented Reality   Commlink (think omni-tool or modern smartphone); interact with AROs via touch screen; untrained cybercombat checks   "HUDlink" (commlink + goggles/optical implant); interact with AROs via visual tracking; trained cybercombat checks   n/a
Virtual Reality   n/a   n/a   Wired access point; interact via neural implant; boosted threat range


This reserves VR Hacking for only those special occasions where it is absolutely necessary and thus, is planned by the GM and could include any number of things for the rest of the party to do.  e.g. Waves of security troops; having the Face explaining why the apparently unconscious man doesn't need medical treatment; etc.

Basically, this would reduce AR Hacking to some [relatively] simple actions such as:
  • Open Door
  • Manipulate File (Copy, Erase, Modify, etc.)
  • Control a drone (steal control, issue orders, etc.)
  • etc.

That list is obviously incomplete; however, making Hacking a skill check similar to grappling is appealing in that the winner chooses an option and then runs with it for as long as the Hacking contest needs to be kept going.  Forcing a door to open should be a simple thing, forcing the combat drone to enter its sleep cycle should be difficult because we don't want the Hacker to become the "I WIN!!!" option for the genre - just another tool in the collective kit of the team.
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« Reply #241 on: September 28, 2012, 06:51:51 PM »

Yeah, I saw that originally and think it's a good availability breakdown.  I'm just not a big fan of it defaulting to cybercombat.  If my players badgered me into including it, I'd restrict cybercombat to Full VR.  Justified as: "The speed advantage the other guy gets would make it impossible to win".

I'd treat the split as a time split rather then a skill cap.  An AR check takes a minute (or more depending on sub-check), but a VR check takes a half action or a full round.  Which is also why you can't cybercombat in AR (if you activate the Cybercombat campaign quality) - you react way too slow and get obliterated, because you're not at speed of thought (and they are).

This is entirely for stylistic purposes.  It relegates Hacking to mostly downtime - as a handful of checks right when everyone else is making their own downtime checks.  No one man combats that bore the other players.
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MikeS
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« Reply #242 on: September 28, 2012, 09:36:36 PM »

I'd recommend something like this for simplified hacking:

a) the hacker needs a roll (or maybe an extended test) to get into the computer that controls the doors (cameras, etc). He needs another roll for every action he performs (open door, redirect camera, access data, etc). He does not need another roll if he uses the same device a second (or more) times. All of these rolls are independent of where the hacker is physically located.

b) every time the hacker makes a roll, the hacked system makes a detection check (against whatever hacker skill or attribute; maybe the rating of his stealth program). What happens if the system succeeds is largely up to the GM, or can be predetermined (this is what the SR3 security sheafs basically where:

- the hacker's DCs to do anything go up by one. This is the simplest outcome.
- the system detection roll improves by some number
- the system launches some form of attack, eg:
   - crash one of the hacker's programs (preferably the one he was using to perform his action): roll system's skill vs hacker skill (add programs to either check as you like); if the computer wins, the program crashes and either cannot be used in this run anymore or has to be reloaded or something.
   - the system tries to trace the hacker: again, a single contested roll. If the system wins, it knows where the hacker is and can either upload malicious software to his deck or try to fry it (and the hacker)
   - the system (or an alerted security hacker) attacks the hacker: this should be run like a combat, and should be timed to coincide with a combat the rest of the group is running into (eg: the alarm goes off, and the runners are attacked by guards/drones, while the decker suddenly encounters black ice!). This way, you can run it all as one single combat (with a single initiative count), and no one will have to wait too long to have an action. Better yet, the hacker may be forced to split his attention between the ice and other tasks the rest of the group needs him to do. Fighting rolls may or may not trigger further detection rolls. Depending on the ice, the attacks may damage the persona (or avatar), they can damage the deck, or they can damage the hacker straight. Black ice might damage both persona and hacker. Psychotropic ice might just do stress damage, and if the hacker passes out, his mind gets reprogrammed...
   - the system shuts down. Security is compromised enough as that the system sees a shutdown as only way out.

This example system lets you ratchet up the attention level as needed. The hacker requires comparatively little overhead to get started, and he doesn't have to sit around and be bored while the rest of the group fights.
 
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« Reply #243 on: September 29, 2012, 01:18:31 AM »

There seems to be an assumption that the hacker will be bored if there's nothing to hack.  I think this stems from a deeper assumption that a hacker won't be competent at anything except hacking.  Since this is going to be based on Fantasy Craft, that assumption is wrong, or should be.  The idea MikeS just suggested involves a lot of bookkeeping and 2 or 3 rolls for every little thing a hacker does, plus more rolls if he does something not little, or fails at something.  This with the goal of being able to dial the attention the hacker receives to the desired level.  I would say that if the hacker feels bored or neglected with the non-hacking activities the group is engaged in, the player should roll a character that can participate in those activities.  Inventing rolls for the hacker to make isn't a solution.
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« Reply #244 on: September 29, 2012, 01:28:27 AM »

Of course you have to jack your brain into your deck, and go full VR.  If you don't go far enough down the rabbit hole that the jabberwocky can bite your head off, you have no chance at meeting the hatter for tea.
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« Reply #245 on: September 29, 2012, 09:57:23 AM »

There seems to be an assumption that the hacker will be bored if there's nothing to hack.  I think this stems from a deeper assumption that a hacker won't be competent at anything except hacking.  Since this is going to be based on Fantasy Craft, that assumption is wrong, or should be.  The idea MikeS just suggested involves a lot of bookkeeping and 2 or 3 rolls for every little thing a hacker does, plus more rolls if he does something not little, or fails at something.  This with the goal of being able to dial the attention the hacker receives to the desired level.  I would say that if the hacker feels bored or neglected with the non-hacking activities the group is engaged in, the player should roll a character that can participate in those activities.  Inventing rolls for the hacker to make isn't a solution.

Inventing rolls for the hacker to make is actually the point of the conversation right now, assuming that the hacker isn't supposed to be banished to NPC level state.

The system I proposed requires no more book-keeping than a DC, but it seamlessly interweaves with running a regular party in addition.

One of the primary skills to develop when running a cyberpunk (or any non-fantasy) game is to be able to run split party sessions. It almost invariably happens, whether during legwork or in the case of the hacker shadowing the party in the matrix. The trick to running split parties is to be able to switch between them every 5 mins or so (depending on your players' attention span). So if you want to have a system that is a little more satisfying than "hey, hacker, make your open lock check", and less involved than the SR1 cyberdungeon, then you probably want something that's like a DC or even simpler.
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ludomastro
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« Reply #246 on: September 29, 2012, 05:53:32 PM »

Indeed, having Hacking checks IS part of what I'd like to see accomplished.  I've GM'd FC long enough to know that ANY character can contribute to pretty much ANY situation - and - in multiple ways at that.  It's part of the cool factor when I demo that game and someone goes, "Wow, I didn't realize my [character type] could do that.  That's awesome!"

However, not having a way for an iconic character type to contribute in the expected way just won't do.  Period.  Even if the mage ends up being the Hacker - (and I've seen it in the source game), he needs to have a way to roll a Hacking check to open the door, shut down the alarm, etc.  Having the mage literally casting Knock and Silence instead of Hacking doesn't work for me.  Mostly because it breaks the verisimilitude of the game world for me.

Here, I think we have the opportunity to create interesting Hacking rules that are neither a straight jacket on the player, nor a drag on play.

MikeS has proposed a reasonable compromise based on the 3rd Ed. rules (and aren't all that different from 4th Ed.).  I'm working on something but it's not ready and I doubt I'll finish today with the monster headache I'm currently experiencing. 
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« Reply #247 on: September 29, 2012, 06:44:46 PM »

The inventing rolls part is when you have a check to get into the system, then additional checks to have the system do what it does.  If the cameras and doors are controlled by the system, the activating and deactivating them should not require checks.  It's like saying that a thief needs to make a check to get into a building, and then more checks to turn the lights on and off.

The bookkeeping comes in when you have to keep track of what systems the hacker has gotten access to.  Are the phones on the same system as the door locks?  Is building 1 a separate system from building 2?  If I've hacked the corporate website, does that also give me access to the internal network?

I guess I don't understand why it would be that opening a door using a computer needs to be so much more involved than opening a door using a set of lockpicks, or a crowbar for that matter.  Why would resetting the biometric locks on the enemy's weapon require more rolls than just disarming him?  And why does tricking the IFF system on an attack drone need to be more complicated than just putting on a disguise would be?
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« Reply #248 on: September 29, 2012, 07:09:13 PM »

The inventing rolls part is when you have a check to get into the system, then additional checks to have the system do what it does.  If the cameras and doors are controlled by the system, the activating and deactivating them should not require checks.  It's like saying that a thief needs to make a check to get into a building, and then more checks to turn the lights on and off.

He does need to make a check to get into the building. He does need to make a check to open locked doors in t the building (which is what we're asking the hacker to do). He does have to make checks to tamper with the lighting system for more than one room (which is what you are asking for when you say "turn the lights on and off", otherwise someone in the party who is there could just flip the switch).

Why do 10 seconds of combat take way more rolls than 1 minute of picking a lock? Or 30 mins of debate? Why do we need a ton of attack spells? Can't the mage just roll his spell check to hit and then cause 1d8 points of damage? Because a system should highlight the parts of the game that are important to the setting with more detail, and give characters that choose that part of the game as their specialty more than one option to build a character.

In the case of Shadowrun, many players want a hacking system that feels like, well, hacking. SR3 did that very well, in my experience, and the above system mimics SR3. It allows for as much detail as the GM wants to put up with, and it potentially yields several different ways to build a hacker character.
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ludomastro
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« Reply #249 on: September 29, 2012, 08:01:15 PM »

Both of you have a point.  Turing Hacking into its own mini-game would introduce things to FC that don't need to be there and would disrupt the overall flow of the game.

@tfwfh
I agree, that IF the Hacker is able to defeat/crack/hack/whatever the overall system, that additional rolls are completely irrelevant.  However, that would most likely be an extended test in the first place.

@MikeS
Your point is taken - and taken well; however, others have a very valid interest in NOT turning the table into a "watch-the-Hacker-a-thon."

Here's a real case of what I have to do every day when I get to work.  I pass a guard gate where the guard checks the ID on my car.  I then park and use my RFID badge to unlock and open the door.  Then I use that same badge along with a PIN number AND a login ID to logon to the company network.  All of my activities are automatically monitored throughout the day.  If I rack up enough violations or violations of a certain nature then the IT boys and my supervisor get involved.  Which may result in an escorted walk back through security and off the property.  And that is today's tech.

Someone wanting to "hack" the [overall] system could probably slap a sticker on a vehicle of similar size, shape and color and get through the gate during a busy morning.  Then, if they had swiped an active badge, they could get in the door.  However, even if they knew the PIN AND login ID associated with the card, they would still only have access to the parts of the system that were allowed for that employee.  Attempting things out of the ordinary would trigger an eventual review even if they accessed nothing of value.

Thus, to be true to the source material we need a way for the Hacker to convince the system that not only should they be present but also that they should be able to do the things they are doing.  The Face/Thief could con/pick pocket the badge while the muscle could take care of the guard - keeping them involved but the Hacker gets his turn to shine when the computer system is accessed.

Anyway, those are some thoughts.  Gotta run, the wife calls.
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ahzad
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« Reply #250 on: September 29, 2012, 10:55:16 PM »

i'm in the camp that there should be a bit more to hacking than simple downtime checks. the deckers and hacking are iconic to the SR setting and without them i don't think it's SR anymore.

a lot the the talk so far has seemed to me anyway geared towards the hacker taking over an unmanned system.

that being said I have no problem with hacking being reduced to a number of rolls to take over the system that was unmanned or otherwise on automatic, but I on the other hand I would also miss that give and take between a hacker and his opposite number trying to keep him out of the system. which is where I think the hacking DC shines in making that exchange happen, and those beats are intermixed into the regular initiative system. so a competent GM well be able to handle that back and forth and not have a table of players reaching for their phones b/c they are bored.
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Morgenstern
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« Reply #251 on: October 01, 2012, 03:36:19 AM »

Since most of the RESULTS of hacking are already addressed by other skill checks, I have to wonder if theres a way to make streamlined hacking not a skill but a bonus to other checks.

Its still an 'open locks' type check to get the door open, but a hacker pulls out a widget ala Tron's "that's a big door" and cracks it either more reliably, faster, or both. It's still an investigation check to get the secret file, but its getting enabled to happen at all by the character's hacking bonus. Its still a stealth check to blind the security system to the team's presence, but it's done by splicing into a junction panel, not just some ninja-like grace (but having that grace contributes to the hacker's understanding of what needs to be tweaked on the camera scan rates...).

Rather than making one monolithic skill (which would definitely be 'chapter 3' class like Spellcasting, rather than chapter 2 standard skill) you end up with hackers that had different areas of expertise because they have different skills - all being modified by their hacking rating or whatever.

Hmm... You could then grant modest amounst of this bonus via feat chain (say, +1 to +3 over a B/M/S chain) and skill grant +1 to +5 or so as part of a core class say in the 3/7/11/15/19 slot. Some sort of skill acceleration factor in the 2/11/19 is hardly unpreciedented. Buld a skill list from all the activities that hacking augments. Couple selectable abilites in the 6/9/12/15/18... It doesn't write itself, but scavenging the rest from existing 2nd ed Spycraft classes shouldn't be too hard.

You can still have hacking dramatic conflicts - both solo and party-based - but save them for the BIG occassions where it is time for the hacker to get some spotlight time. Give the player the tools to do their work with a more routine expectation of contribution and you get shows like Leverage where the hacker is important, but not upstaging his krew.
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« Reply #252 on: October 01, 2012, 01:19:49 PM »

Craft (Program) To handle the down time creation of hacks to provide the bonuses to the other checks...
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« Reply #253 on: October 02, 2012, 01:09:08 AM »

Craft (Program) To handle the down time creation of hacks to provide the bonuses to the other checks...

I'm not overly fond of this because it would basically take the schtick of the Hacker and make it a Downtime check.  Realistic?  Check!  Cinematic?  Not so much.

Since most of the RESULTS of hacking are already addressed by other skill checks, I have to wonder if theres a way to make streamlined hacking not a skill but a bonus to other checks.

Its still an 'open locks' type check to get the door open, but a hacker pulls out a widget ala Tron's "that's a big door" and cracks it either more reliably, faster, or both. It's still an investigation check to get the secret file, but its getting enabled to happen at all by the character's hacking bonus. Its still a stealth check to blind the security system to the team's presence, but it's done by splicing into a junction panel, not just some ninja-like grace (but having that grace contributes to the hacker's understanding of what needs to be tweaked on the camera scan rates...).

Rather than making one monolithic skill (which would definitely be 'chapter 3' class like Spellcasting, rather than chapter 2 standard skill) you end up with hackers that had different areas of expertise because they have different skills - all being modified by their hacking rating or whatever.

Interesting.  Not sure about this yet, but interesting all the same.

Hmm... You could then grant modest amounst of this bonus via feat chain (say, +1 to +3 over a B/M/S chain) and skill grant +1 to +5 or so as part of a core class say in the 3/7/11/15/19 slot. Some sort of skill acceleration factor in the 2/11/19 is hardly unpreciedented. Buld a skill list from all the activities that hacking augments. Couple selectable abilites in the 6/9/12/15/18... It doesn't write itself, but scavenging the rest from existing 2nd ed Spycraft classes shouldn't be too hard.

You can still have hacking dramatic conflicts - both solo and party-based - but save them for the BIG occassions where it is time for the hacker to get some spotlight time. Give the player the tools to do their work with a more routine expectation of contribution and you get shows like Leverage where the hacker is important, but not upstaging his krew.

So, are you advocating for a Hacker Base Class?
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« Reply #254 on: October 02, 2012, 01:29:41 AM »

What i was saying was make the Craft (program) the thing that creates the bonuses Morgenstern was refering to Smiley
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