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Primer: Network Combat - Comments & Edits


Overlord
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Greetings,

The Network Combat primer is intended as a supplement the the Hacking rules in Chapter 11 of the Adventure System in campaigns where more depth and options are needed. Please provide your comments and feedback here.

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Greymorn
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Overall, I think this is great. The slate enhancements and programs especially add needed flavor and choices.

The price of failure isn't spelled out explicitly, seems like if an action fails you just wasted an action. If time isn't a factor on this dive, you could just fake-it-till-you-make-it. Giving the system an alert level would provide the hooks you need to give failure some teeth in all circumstances. Hacking is often a stealth mission, yes?


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Von Fuge
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The new rules seem pretty tight and well-thought-out (as always).  A few things did occur to me...

Nodes
    Is there any guidance on how many Nodes to include in a network, or how they are connected?

Programs
    Can players create programs rather than purchase them?
    Are there Advanced versions of the programs listed? If so, what is the effect?

AI
    Can a player create an AI?  How would they do that?

    How about the ability to write a 'daemon' - a simplified AI with abilities on the level of a minor elemental?
    For example, a 'daemon' could be set to watch a Node using Monitor and report back when the Node is entered.


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Overlord
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Posted by: @greymorn

Overall, I think this is great. The slate enhancements and programs especially add needed flavor and choices.

The price of failure isn't spelled out explicitly, seems like if an action fails you just wasted an action. If time isn't a factor on this dive, you could just fake-it-till-you-make-it. Giving the system an alert level would provide the hooks you need to give failure some teeth in all circumstances. Hacking is often a stealth mission, yes?

@greymorn Thanks for the feedback. All intrusion attempts have a specified number of turns based on the security level to accumulate the needed successes to gain access to the system. Once in the system, there is no longer a time limit, but the system's behavior is determined by the security level. Any failure activates the system's ICE and, if on duty now that we have the primer, cyber ops. Both the ICE and cyber ops are now opposing the hacker attempting to stop all their actions and ideally trigger systemic overload dumping them from the system and possibly frying their brain. This is all part of Hacking in Chapter 11 of the Adventure System.

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Overlord
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Posted by: @von-fuge

The new rules seem pretty tight and well-thought-out (as always).  A few things did occur to me...

Nodes
    Is there any guidance on how many Nodes to include in a network, or how they are connected?

Programs
    Can players create programs rather than purchase them?
    Are there Advanced versions of the programs listed? If so, what is the effect?

AI
    Can a player create an AI?  How would they do that?

    How about the ability to write a 'daemon' - a simplified AI with abilities on the level of a minor elemental?
    For example, a 'daemon' could be set to watch a Node using Monitor and report back when the Node is entered.

@von-fuge Appreciate the ideas and I considered the first two. At a high-level, nothing else will fit; this one didn't even have room for art. More specifically, I like the idea of node maps and I checked around and it seems this idea, in other games with hacking, has fallen out of favor. I was (and maybe still am) considering creating a set of them to offer up on the website for those who want to use them. Personally, in our internal campaign, I likely would not use them. We are rather old-school and everything is "theater-of-the-mind". So, if we don't use maps for normal combat there isn't going to be one for hacking; particularly since it wouldn't actually be shared with the player unless they created a network map. That said, that doesn't mean no one would want them...

Creating programs would be a topic for another primer perhaps that revolved around expanding things you could do with tech. The Core Rules don't really cover crafting in any detail, but there could be a primer on Tech and one on Craft for more medieval style campaigns. I added both to my work list. There are no Advanced programs unless you have an idea of what they would do? Once a program grants you Advantage, that's about it short of adding a re-roll, but in this circumstance that may be a bit too much. The program itself, to a degree, is already adding "advanced" abilities to the slate...

The latter us of an AI is in there as follows... A hacker (or cyber ops) could us a Resident AI exactly as you described while they were in the system and I would allow the use of Code to leave a copy of it behind for a singular purpose similar to a Delay (conditional) action.

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Greymorn
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Some thoughts on hacking consequences beyond "they fried my brain".

  • Intrusion Detection: cyberops knows the system was hacked. On a great dive you should be a ghost.
  • Audit Trail: cyberops knows where the hacker went, which systems and data were compromised.
  • Location: cyberops knows the current physical location of the hacker.
  • ID: cyberops is able to trace the hacker's real identity.
  • Goal: cyberops can infer the hacker's real objective in the dive.

Each of these has immediate and possibly long-term impact on the story. For a good dive where ICE isn't activated, you could still have the system owner's figure out any of the above information after-the-fact if the dive wasn't flawless. Corps without on-duty cyberops still probably have a net security team looking after their data, either in-house or rented.

I like that you have options that make detection more or less likely. Start out playing nice, but once you're busted the gloves come off, the nasty-but-loud programs get loaded and you start smashing things. Maybe you should make some programs mutually exclusive. Would Ghost really be effective with Assault, Juice or Amplify running?

 


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Overlord
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Posted by: @greymorn

Some thoughts on hacking consequences beyond "they fried my brain".

  • Intrusion Detection: cyberops knows the system was hacked. On a great dive you should be a ghost.
  • Audit Trail: cyberops knows where the hacker went, which systems and data were compromised.
  • Location: cyberops knows the current physical location of the hacker.
  • ID: cyberops is able to trace the hacker's real identity.
  • Goal: cyberops can infer the hacker's real objective in the dive.

Each of these has immediate and possibly long-term impact on the story. For a good dive where ICE isn't activated, you could still have the system owner's figure out any of the above information after-the-fact if the dive wasn't flawless. Corps without on-duty cyberops still probably have a net security team looking after their data, either in-house or rented.

I like that you have options that make detection more or less likely. Start out playing nice, but once you're busted the gloves come off, the nasty-but-loud programs get loaded and you start smashing things. Maybe you should make some programs mutually exclusive. Would Ghost really be effective with Assault, Juice or Amplify running?

 

@greymorn All interesting ideas and appreciated. They are a bit beyond the scope of a primer. Ideally, the intent of network combat is to bring it up a level inline with normal combat. In normal combat, you get hit and take damage. When I initially started thinking about hacking, the design intent was for it to be as fast as possible for two reasons: (1) either all the other player's are waiting because the hack is independent of any other action; or (2) combat (or some other action) is occurring during the hack. In either case, hacking should not take any longer per turn than a normal combat turn. All of the elements you described above, just like normal combat, could be the result of a Critical Success (by cyber ops) or a Critical Failure (by the hacker) as adjudicated by the referee. Additionally, now that Network Combat establishes how programs work, like any other gear, the referee can create additional programs. For example, most of what you described above could be within the purview of a "Trace" program or "Blood Hound" if you want to be more dramatic.

I wouldn't make any of the listed programs mutually exclusive as they are, for lack of a better expression, basic. That said, if you were running a hacking "heavy" campaign (cyberpunk, etc.) you could create some more nuanced programs that indeed leveraged off other more basic programs. This, however, would mean, which is fine, that you'd have to have a better slate to use them as grade I can only run one program at a time.

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Von Fuge
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@scribe I agree that Node maps can get too involved.  I was reviewing the old Cyberpunk rules and found that to be the case.  However, I think a simple node diagram would be fine.


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Von Fuge
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@greymorn Good stuff! Having your real identity or meat-world location is the nightmare of all who tread cyberspace. 

Goal: maybe an opposed check to see if cyberops can divine the hackers intent, or if the hacker can deceive cyberops as to their true target.


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Overlord
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Based on this solid feedback, I'm thinking of adding some of this (more programs, daemons, program types: limited use & dependent use) to the Outland in the Appendix. I'll put it there because I will suggest using Network Combat, but it's optional in Outland, and then add the stated content expanding hacking for the setting for those who choose to use it...

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