House Rules.   Posted by Voice of the Shadows.Group: 0
Voice of the Shadows
 GM, 1 post
Thu 16 Jul 2015
at 18:47
House Rules
I'm going to be straight up with this -- I'm a math guy who dabbles with computers. I'm not a computer guy, I'm not a gun guy, I'm not a car guy, I'm not a robotics guy. Decisions I make put an eye to gameplay first, player satisfaction second, reality third.

That said, I can't stand some of the Matrix rules in Data Trails and Technomancers need a facelift just to be competitive with their better equipped brethren. There's a good chance some firearms house rules are coming down the line, too. Anything else, I'll deal with as needed.

CFD Infection
Unless players do something really stupid, I don't plan for infection to be a thing PCs have to deal with personally. CFD is not especially contagious, but if exposed to contaminated nanites there is no cure. The reason for the epidemic is that, typically, a supply of contaminated nanites is found only by backtracking an outbreak, by which point it is too late to do anything but recall that batch of nanites.
The most recent outbreak was caused by nanites used to install the NeoNET Bookshelf, their version of the chipjack and one of the best selling augmentations in the past five years. This has caused a public perception regarding the technology that is not accurate.

Background Setting Modifications
As a general rule, my game isn't going to involve environmental issues. Corporations aren't in the business of destroying the world (well, maybe Aztechnology) because there's no profit in it. They cleaned up their act because they make more long term profit if their customers don't asphyxiate. At the same time, alarmist predictions stopped governing business decisions when the governments ran out of money to subsidize bad science. The ozone layer isn't gone, acid rain isn't a problem outside the nastier industrial parks, ethanol is all but forgotten, and there's still a healthy percentage of power plants and engines burning fossil fuels of all kind. The return of magic has sent the NIMBY principle through the roof and sent the dirtier engines to the outskirts of civilization whenever possible, though, so inner city cars almost always run on hydrogen or batteries.

Kill People and Take Their Stuff
Rolling bodies is a time honored adventuring profession. It also slows everything down, especially if you need me to come up with comlink contents to decide if a nameless grunt has any decent music you want to rip off. I'm not going to say that you can't treat every dead body like a treasure chest.
I am going to say that I'm in full rights to apply the karma penalties for a run with a high payout in exchange for grisly work. The more you irritate me, the less generous I'm going to be.
I'm not against you making a profit on the side of whatever Mr. Johnson has going down. Just don't make it so habitual it slows things down.

We're all friends, friends love each other. Anyone that deliberately screws another player had better have a damn good reason.

One thing I've come to enjoy about this genre as a whole are the safehouses. One thing I've come to prefer as a GM is a team made of characters that already know each other. See also WAFFLE-O.
To this end, I have chosen to design a safehouse for the group. This replaces the usual lifestyle rules thusly:
-Each character is responsible for 500Y a month. Players can decide for themselves how to deal with freeloaders, but if the full amount isn't paid then you'll be given a choice of what utilities you can't afford, or what bribes you didn't pay.
-Each player can name two things they want in the safehouse. Particularly extravagant choices may increase the rent, but for the most part this is your chance to customize the safehouse as you want. This also includes things like grid subscriptions on the Matrix.
-By and large this safehouse falls between Squatter and Low lifestyles, but some of the options can take it into Middle territory.
-Characters cannot take the qualities Trust Fund, Creature of Comfort, Hobo with a Shotgun, or any other quality that deals with the Lifestyle rules.

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:33, Tue 25 Aug 2015.

Voice of the Shadows
 GM, 2 posts
Thu 16 Jul 2015
at 20:24
Dice Roller
The Dice Roller does not, unfortunately, have Shadowrun 5 settings in it. It does, however, have a Shadowrun 4th Edition rules, which are very close.

The roller is currently configured. Don't touch the dice system or target number or any of that stuff. You only need to provide the number of dice, and label the roll for later reference, and let the roller compute the answer. In most cases, the dice roller will do the work for you after that. There are, however, three exceptions.

Limits: The dice roller doesn't have a way to check your Limit. You have to make sure you don't score more hits than your Limit on your own.

Glitches: If you glitch, the dice roller won't report the number of hits you rolled. You'll have to count them up yourself. For this reason, the roller is set to record dice rolls. The dice roller WILL recognize a critical glitch, so if it just says "glitch" you know you have at least one hit in there somewhere.

Initiative: Initiative uses a completely different mechanism from the rest of the game, so of course you need to set the roller to a different setup. I think I'll handle initiative rolls personally so there will be less delay getting combat started. If you have/want to roll yourself, just set the dice system to none/blank and type in the dice code (Ex: 1d6+7)
Voice of the Shadows
 GM, 3 posts
Thu 16 Jul 2015
at 20:59
The mages in the Matrix get a raw deal. There's not much they can do that a decker can't do better, and their rigging ability is similarly subpar with constant noise issues.

Time to make these guys as terrifying as they're supposed to be.

Matrix Condition Monitor: Technomancers instinctively bleed off matrix damage into the resonance to protect themselves. A living persona has a matrix condition monitor of 8+(Resonance/2) boxes. The technomancer and living persona respond to matrix attacks, and biofeedback, the same way a decker and cyberdeck does.
If the technomancer's condition monitor is filled, the technomancer's connection to the resonance is completely disrupted. The technomancer suffers dumpshock, even if he was in AR (treat as cold-sim), from the intense disorientation. If the technomancer had an active compiled sprite, it is destroyed. All registered sprites lose one task, possibly resulting in their own return to the Resonance. The technomancer cannot take Resonance actions or access the matrix as long as his matrix condition monitor is full (although nothing stops him from using decks and links like a mere mortal, chummer).

Living personas can be healed by any effect that can heal sprites. Additionally, living personas benefit from natural healing, similar to how metahumans heal Physical and Stun damage. Natural healing requires that the technomancer rest and make an extended Resonance+Willpower (1 hour) test. Each hit marks off a box of damage. This healing can occur consecutively with Stun or Physical healing.
A living persona with full damage is still a valid target for healing effects, but no other Matrix or Resonance actions, as long as the technomancer himself is still alive.

Resonance Disks: The complex forms of technomancers are powerful, but the Fading they cause limits technomancers considerably. Technomancers sometimes envy their cyberdeck wielding competition, whose programs are simpler than complex forms, but so much easier to use. And so, technomancers have put great effort into learning to emulate such simple, but unquestionably useful tools. Some learn programs as part of submersion, but others have taken to the oft-overlooked material side of the matrix and created small devices that can execute programs for a living persona. These devices are called Resonance Disks.

A Resonance disk is a simple device that holds one cyberprogram (chosen when the disk is created) and a means of connection. RFID tags are the most common form of Resonance disk, but technomancers with Skinlink may choose datachips or credsticks for that little bit of extra security.
To anyone that isn't a technomancer, a Resonance disk is a bunch of electronic garbage built around a small bit of corrupted computer memory. To a technomancer other than the one who built the disk, it's just as incomprehensible but may get some praise for its artistic value. Like sprites, these devices only obey the one that created them.

Making a Resonance disk requires four things: a Hardware shop, a pack of electronic parts, the device you're kitbashing into a glorious monument to your genius, and the program you're converting. You decide the disk's Level when you build it. Building the device is a Hardware + Resonance [Level] vs Level*2 test that takes one hour. You take the device's hits (not net hits) as Fading. The damage is Stun if the Level is equal or lower to your Resonance, Physical otherwise.

Disallowed programs:  Resonance disks cannot load Configurator, Virtual Machine, any agent, or any autosoft. Other programs may be disallowed at the GM's discretion.

Using a Resonance Disk: A technomancer logs onto the matrix with his living persona fresh and clean as the purest snow...and without any of his Resonance disks loaded. That's a problem.
Connecting to a Resonance disk takes a Simple action that does not require a test. You can only connect to a Resonance disk if the Noise between you and the disk is less than or equal to the disk's Level. Once the connection is made, the technomancer has the program on the Resonance disk available to him, as if it was loaded on his cyberdeck. The technomancer can disconnect from the Resonance disk as a free action. If the Noise between technomancer and disk increases above the disk's level, the connection is automatically severed.
A technomancer can only connect to a number of disks equal to his Resonance at a time. A technomancer can run a given program only once, although he may connect to multiple copies of a program for sake of redundancy.

Dealing with Resonance Disks: Resonance disks cannot be targeted by most matrix attacks, including Data Spike and Resonance Spike, but they can be damaged or bricked by tag erasers. They are also considered bricked if they are hit with a successful Crash Program action. The simplest tool against them, however, is to simply surround the technomancer with too much Noise to maintain the connection.
A Resonance disk has a matrix condition monitor with a number of boxes equal to its Level. It is repaired like any device.

Drone Sprites: A drone sprite is a special form of sprite that serves a singular purpose: to control a drone or vehicle. Drone sprites are compiled and registered like normal sprites, but can only take one task: to enter a drone and replace its pilot program. The sprite's level must equal the program's device rating, but may exceed it. The sprite does not leave the drone until the drone is bricked or the sprite is decompiled. Decompiling a drone sprite leaves the drone without a pilot program, but causes no additional damage.
A drone controlled by a sprite functions as a normal drone, however it never gets confused by complex situations the way pilot programs do. The drone sprite can interface with a number of autosofts equal to its level (instead of the normal limit of half the drone's rating), but cannot be slaved to an RCC.
Only a living persona can jump into a drone controlled by a drone sprite.
Drone sprites facilitate their technomancer beyond improving the automated aspect of the associated drone. The technomancer who registered the sprite gets an additional bonus: as long as the technomancer and the drone have some form of connection (direct, wireless, anything) the technomancer treats the drone as if it is slaved to an RCC. That means that the technomancer can quickly jump in or out of the drone, jump between drones with sprites, and issue orders quickly to all drones with sprites. Additionally the technomancer benefits from Noise reduction equal to half the sprite's level, round up.

Drone sprites and RCCs: A technomancer can connect to an RCC, but that RCC then becomes the technomancer's persona. Because the RCC is not a living persona, the technomancer cannot jump into a drone controlled by a drone sprite while he is using an RCC.
Voice of the Shadows
 GM, 10 posts
Sun 19 Jul 2015
at 22:30
The Matrix
Surveillance, Data Mining, and Databases
Data storage is cheaper than it ever has been before. RFID tags are embedded in every product. Big Brother might be bankrupt, but the many eyes of marketing never leave you. That is what everyone in the shadow knows, and what everyone in the light tries to ignore. The shadows exist only because those in power allow them to exist.

Well, not so much. VITAS or no VITAS, no one has the storage capacity to record every move of every metahuman, much less every product. Even if they did, they don't have the computer cycles or manpower to search such a mass of data for anything useful. While all these qualities have increased dramatically over the past century, the corps don't have the means to watch everything.

For SINers, the hype might as well be true. Their SIN is logged every time they do anything that anyone cares about -- meaning any time they spend money. Plenty of SINers get snatched buying something illegal with a credstick because they never even considered turning off their SIN. (Meanwhile, throwing fools to the cops keeps our fences in their good graces for our benefit). Each transaction is monitored and logged as a statistic in whatever databases interest the nation or corp that issued the SIN. Those databases are, of course, available to subscribers, which include most law enforcement corps and marketing divisions.

Anything illegal or licensed is going to be tagged and numbered. A lot of stuff that's just plain hard to get or really expensive will be too. Translation: Any gear with an availability above 12, or that is Restricted or Forbidden with any availability, or that costs more than 5,000 nuyen is going to have at least one embedded tag if it is at all big enough. This gear is logged by passing cops, drones, government buildings, pretty much anything official. And those logs only last about a week, because there are so many such products that the servers end up begging for mercy. Anyone who isn't caught by then is smart enough to invalidate those tags anyway, so why spend the money on storing obsolete data?

Now, there are exceptions. Datamining programs are everywhere. They analyze all the mess of data coming in and construct tables of averages and norms. The raw data has a quick rollover, but the datamined tables stick around near forever. If you cause a log to change radically from the norm (say, a heavily armored truck and a small army's worth of guns tagged driving by a nice residential district) you're going to get flagged as an incident of concern and the tracking will commence.

Flying under the radar is easy if you know what you're doing. Flying under the radar without looking like you're under the radar takes a lot more finesse. But remember, chummer, the best weapon the corps have is they make you think they can see everything already. Don't be fooled.

A Host has more in common with an old BBS than a modern website. It is often hosted on a dedicated server (which can be one machine or several) but can be run by cloud computing (which is only common for very powerful Hosts.) If you have a Low or Middle lifestyle, your home filters all your devices through a Rating 1 Host (wageslaves in corp housing usually don't bother with even that level of security, but you ARE a shadowrunner. You know better.) If you splurge for a High lifestyle or better, the Host's rating goes up to 2. Your Host is on whatever Grid you have legal access to and has Patrol and Killer IC installed.
Hosts up to Rating 4 are typically run on single machines. Larger Hosts, up to Rating 10, are run on server farms, which may be centralized or distributed. The largest Hosts are run by the people with the resources to run their own Grids, and the Hosts are cloud-based. You can never directly connect to a cloud-based Host.
Directly connecting to a Host puts a hacker in a dominant position. The Host's dice pools are halved to resist Brute Force and Hack on the Fly. Further, any IC crashed by a hacker directly connected to the Host cannot be relaunched until the Host is rebooted. Finally, the hacker has access to the Host's Archive. Of course, while these advantages are considerable, they are nothing compared to what happens if the hacker simply opens the machine and absconds with the hard drive.
Of course, unless you're trying to pull dark secrets out of your local Stuffer Shack, actually getting physical access to a Host's server is sufficiently hazardous to a hacker's health that there's almost always a better way. Still, if you can pull it off, a Rating 10 Host's complete Archive is going to have enough paydata to set you up for life.

This message was last edited by the GM at 00:53, Mon 20 July 2015.

Voice of the Shadows
 GM, 15 posts
Fri 24 Jul 2015
at 18:24
All reagents are the same. The word "dram" is an archaic unit of weight meaning one sixteenth of an ounce. This is the amount of pure orichalcum that possesses a useful unit of magical power. A dram of reagents is any amount of any material that possesses that much magic.
Each reagent is unique. Magical traditions declare what reagents are valuable to a mage, but  any decent talismonger will have a broad enough selection of raw reagents that finding something that works is a trivial venture. Orichalcum is the only substance guaranteed to work for any mage.

Reagents are classified in one of four levels of purity. Raw, refined, radical, and orichalcum.

Ignore the cost tables on page 24 of Shadow Spells. While it does make sense, it makes orichalcum, the preferred reagent for weapon foci, about seven times more expensive than the finished product. The logic is not happy. The logic becomes far worse with the following modification.

The alchemical refining process that creates refined and radical reagents on pages 209-211 of Street Grimoire have their yield multiplied by ten. Yes, that means one dram of raw reagents equals one dram of radical reagents. Remember, a dram of reagents is a dram of reagents.
Likewise, the process to create orichalcum results in 25 drams. Some material is lost in the creation of the apex of reagents.

This in mind, the new price table is as follows.
ReagentCost per dramAvailability
Raw dram20 nuyen-
Refined dram25 nuyen4
Radical dram30 nuyen8
Orichalcum dram50 nuyen2

This message was last edited by the GM at 19:05, Fri 24 July 2015.