2018-09-20

A new Datafortress example

I made this map to illustrate one of the Datafortress I have in my game notes.

A way to illustrate in a "real" example on how a map will look:


2018-07-12

After the 2077 reveal ...

Well, it seems the reveal of Cyberpunk 2077 have been stirring quite a lot of movement on forums and reddits where peace and tranquility was the norm.

I appreciate that.

Which also makes me want to write more again on this blog. Not that I never stopped thinking/playing with the Cyberpunk 2020 ruleset, but time is severely constrained and having a little of it to post here was a bit of a pain.

But well, what can I say ... I'm human and get hyped too ;D

First things first, I will try to update my mini-site with my latest house rules:
http://dimuscul.clon01.net/

I mean, I already have them, the problem is that they are in Spanish and need to translate them.

Also, I my try to post about Netrunning, which is a recurrent thing on me (if you haven't noticed already) as I like it and a been toying a bit on posting on different "stations" and stuff. maybe I will post that on reddit first and see if it get any commentaries before posting it here.

PD: Two fucking years since last post, my goodness.


2016-12-11

Watchdogs 2 and Netrunners

Its been a while since last post ... I still have various pending things I want to tackle off.

New equipment ripped from our daily lives (3D printers, drones, wireless connections, etc).

Quick start rules.

Quick character generation.

Crafting rules for cyberdecks and other gadgets.

But today ... what moved me to write was the new Watcgdogs 2. I'm still early in the game, but I already feel like a netrunner hacking around.

The game seems to have quite a few tricks more into it's sleeve. I love the one direction car remote control ...

In one mission I had to steal a car, but the place was crawling with cops. I cleared the zone launching the cop cars into the road, and took the oportunity to steal the car while cops were running around confused.

Priceless.

So later I will try to translate as much as I can from the game into Cyberpunk.

2016-07-08

Customizing the characters

I've been brainstorming on a way to do Advantages/Disadvantages or feats or somewhat of that style.

My reasoning is simple ... I want characters to be more unique. For all the things that d20 does wrong, I like the "Feats" concept, in which you can make two identical warriors completely different with their feat list.

Other games does the same with perks or advantages you can chose on the character creation, giving him a special flavor. Which I don't always like because ... that kind of advantages usually can only be acquired during character creation, eliminating some kind of in-game progress.

Luckily - between implants and equipment - Cyberpunk gives plenty of options for customizing your character and make it stand from others. But when you play regularly with "strangers" in public games (or forum play) ... well, characters begin to resemble more and more (mechanically), as they go for the obvious/cliche choices.

However Advantages/Disadvantages have their own problems ... too often they are a simple collection of numbers that only serve to min/max character sheets without really adding any flavor to it.

The tough character is going to make himself tougher, the faster one will accumulate as many initiative modifiers as he can, etc, etc.

Also, a lot of players tend to chose disadvantages carefully, exploiting and planing on making the minor impact possible for the game.

So ... disadvantages? I think I would discard them. Your netrunner lost the leg in a gruesome accident? You're free to do it. Just don't expect something in return.

That leaves me with some sort of advantage/trait system to work with. Maybe something limited like "two traits perks per character".

But I wouldn't like those traits becoming simple numerical bonuses to skills ...  they should be a little more complex and colorful. Numerical advantages tend to be forgotten during play unless a player min/max them unbalancing games.

So ... if you want a greater initiative, put more points into reflexes and buy some boostware, if you want to be a though guy, boost your BOD.

Which make those perks/advantages/traits harder to make :P

So far I failed to make a good list. They always end on the short side ... or uninspired. And, to be fair, if those perks aren't really "game changing" it's a bit of a dumb decision to add complexity to the game for the sake of doing it.

They have to be good enough to justify adding them ...

So, for now, I will continue to circle the idea like a vulture watching it's prey.

2015-04-04

Creating an NPC repository

One of the things I would like to do is a PDF with a recollection of NPC for quick characters in a game or during it's preparation.

The idea comes from the Eclipse Phase NPC supplement which has saved me from more of one headache.

For Cyberpunk I could rely on the quick NPC generation from the core rulebook but it make random characters without any logic. And it doesn't even use any of the info on the splatbooks.

My template would be this:

And an example of a quick NPC would be like this:


Ideally I should make various levels of characters ... low level mobs, average opponents/allies, expert ones, etc. ... it's a lot of work, but well. It ain't gonna make itself, right?

Let's see if I have time to do it.

Edit: One year later ... no, I did not have the time :D that's life for you :P

2015-04-03

Anatomy of a Datafortress

You're connected to a datafortress, searching for the financial archives of a small corporation hoping to find something to extort them for. But there's nothing here, only terminal, door and camera links. "Whats wrong?" you ask yourself as you patrol the virtual space within the fortress.

A new data wall rises in front of you, it's security clearance higher than before. As you crack it, the virtual sound of an alarm resounds in your ears. "My program didn't trigger it, I'm sure" you wonder as you hurry to pass the wall an reach the other side.

"One LDL?" is the only think you're have time to think while you jump into it, you don't have time to wonder while the bloodhounds run toward you.

The basics

The typical thing a netrunner do is stealing data from a datafortress, but which kind of data and how do they find it?

Information is stored on databases, folders and files in the system. Those are typically represented as memory blocks which represent local data. But some data is saved on the "cloud", basically an external system usually maintained by another corp.

To access external data you have to enter a protected LDL icon (with a standard Code Gate opener), which will send you to another datafortress with new security measures. Take into account that cloud services boast about their security measures, so expect extreme brute force if they detect your illicit access to their system.


What's in a typical Cloud Memory Unit (CMU)? Boring stuff mainly. Work databases, operations documentation, personal info, provider/client databases, personnel calendars, etc.

What's in a local memory Unit (MU)? The same stuff as a CMU (if the datafortress doesn't use cloud services) and meaningless stuff like power point presentations, internal messages, local info or images ... and the good stuff, the one that's so black that you wouldn't entrust external corporations to manage it.

Bigger is better

The previous schematic is for a single shard server. The one you would find on small enterprises, lone buildings or similar.

Single shard? You must be asking yourself. Well ... when things grow up, a single server isn't enough to control everything. Nor is it even desirable. If your factory machines aren't working as expected, you don't want to reboot security cameras, doors or international operations.

So you connect multiple servers (called shards) and divide the workload between them. Now, if your factory is having problems with the machinery, you don't need to unplug the security systems.

And now every shard has it's own defenses.

Yes, that's more work for you. Aren't you happy?

What does this mean? It basically means that now you have to defeat various data walls to reach the destination you want. You first break into the login/net server which only contains minimal operational MUs and then search for a shard index and try to breach it's security.

You want access to cameras and doors? That's a shard.
You want access to machinery? That's another shard.
You want access to terminals and accounting MUs? Guess it. Yes, another shard.

Every one of them has it's own data walls, code gates and probably, a sysop.

Additionally, some shard are only accessible once you have connected to a specific shard. For example, if you want access to the black ops file, you will need to hack into the initial login shard, then the management shard and then to the internal security shard.


Who runs it?

A lot of datafortress have enough CPU to be managed by AI.

But you won't find a lot of them managing sites anyway. Why? Because AI are predictable, reprogrammable and exploitable. They do not learn or react as a humans (you don't really want an AGI wandering freely) and they do not spawn spontaneously ... which mean you must pay someone to create them.

And when someone find a way to exploit one, the news spread fast between the netrunners hubs.

It's easier, cheaper and more reliable to use human sysops to monitor the system. True, those can be bargained, extorted or even bribed ... but don't expect it. And if the sysop is fried, you don't have to pay his salary.

If a sysop is working locally, they will use the mainframe as their terminal to administrate the datafortress. Which means multiple actions and amazingly fast programs. Also, it means you know exactly where they are on the building and someone can "unplug" them in the real world.

If not, they will use their own cyberdecks and work as a netrunner would.

And that's all.

Try not to die the next time you assault a multiple shard datafortress with multiple cloud services and a mix of black ice ;)

2015-04-02

Netrunning small revision

While my initial intention was to use the rules as they come in the basic manual for my latest forum games. I've finally decided to make some small adjustments and clarifications for my players to better suit my preferences.

Step 1: Preparing for the run

The first thing you need is a cyberterminal and some programs. If you miss one or both, you will not reach very far.

When you turn on the terminal and prepare to surf the net, the first thing you'll find is a virtual room off your own terminal. Here you can run your programs locally and specify the name/appearance you'll have once you're inside the net.

Step 2: Traveling on the global network

If you are already connected directly to the target network, you can skip this step.

To travel around the world you have to go through a number of main nodes/proxies. Those are usually in major cities and are often in freely available public lists. However, each node keeps track of your path through the network to inform any tracking program where you come from.

If you want to avoid leaving a trace around the net (that correspond with your real world position, remember I-G algorithms) you have to bypass their security protocols. It's not a very difficult thing to do, but as you reroute signals and stack fake IDs, it slows down your connection.

Each node has a value of "trace" and one of "security" (as always). The former adds to the difficulty of tracking you, the sum of the second divided by two is a penalty of your initiative rolls.

Ex .: If you pass by Night City, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Panama City and City of Bogotá, you'll have a trace value of 13 and a -4 penalty to initiative (7 divided by 2).



Step 3: Infiltration

Once you've reached your goal, you must get into the data fortress and execute your malware ... of which there are plenty.

While you're out of it inoffensively, the system will ignore you. But the moment you start an attack, the system will defend against you (or will send the sysop a notice of your presence). It will be time to throw initiatives and move by turns ... you'll better have Stealth programs to hide or you will understand why runners fear black ice.


Typical checks on the net are:

Initiative: REF + speed + 1d10 terminal.
Stealth and evasion: 1d10 + prog. STR  Difficulty: 6 + Detection prog. STR.
Anti-system attacks: 1d10 + prog. STR  Difficulty: 6 + Data Wall or Code Gate STR.
Anti-personnel attacks: 1d10 + prog. STR + INT + Interface.  Difficulty: 6 + prog. STR + INT + Interface.
Anti-software attacks: 1d10 + prog. STR + INT + Interface.  Difficulty: 6 + prog. STR + INT + Interface.
Drivers and utilities: 1d10 + prog. STR  Difficulty: 6 + Data Wall STR.

The STR refers to the strength of the attacking or defending program. If for example you want to hide, you'll need to use programs to mask your signal or hide your ID and beat the system detection programs (like the Dog series).

If the opponent (either an AI or sysop) is aware of your presence, it can attack you freely. If not it will have to locate you first even if your are running mayhem in their system ... or in a desperate act, they can cut external communications or reboot the system.

To be able to FIND, READ, EDIT, COPY and DELETE data from a data fortress, you first have to overcome their defenses (Data Walls or Code Gates) with appropriate anti-system programs (such as Drill). If you leave the fort and the administrator becomes aware of the security breach, they will be restored.


Step 4: Exit


Once you've finished with your work, you just have to leave to other areas of the net or disconnect (with a roll of 8 or more with a d10).


Notes:

If you have broken through a data fortress Data Walls or Code Gates, you do not need a test to control remote computer (but you still need the program!).

Without programs you cannot manipulate the net, but you can still browse it, manually interact with Code Gates and access unprotected memory blocks. If you know someone you my try to acquire programs from them or reach Netrunner hubs in the search of a kind soul.

Also, keep in mind that most of Datafortress have public zones where it is not necessary to make a raid to access it. In them you can typically find all kinds of contact information, products or organize meetings.