Navigating the Matrix

The matrix is a catch-all term for public and private virtual environments designed to provide a faster, more immersive method of interfacing with information systems. The development of neural interface cyberware sparked a new arms race in the cybersecurity industry as increasingly efficient cyberdecks and neural interfaces were met with increasingly powerful, and eventually lethal, defense algorithms.

Cyberdecks

As the dangers of jacking one's brain into a computer system became apparent, cyberdecks were developed to both protect the user's neural system from damage during system failures or malicious attacks, as well as enhance their control of their virtual environment. The name itself is somewhat anachronistic and refers to an older and clunkier generation of the technology; these days, cyberdecks are most commonly integrated in omni-tools or hardsuit architecture, although some hardcore operators still lug around their trusty Ono-Sendais from way back in the 2160s.

The most efficient hacking is done while jacked in to a cyberdeck through the use of neural interface cyberware and the Hacker/Infiltrator move jack in. This does place the hacker in the most danger, however, as they will be connected to systems with potentially harmful ICE algorithms. In a pinch, though, you have some other options.

  • If you have a cyberdeck but no neural interface, or you would like to not jack in to avoid potential damage to yourself, it is possible to use the cyberdeck through a manual typing or touch interface. This means that only your programs and deck will be in danger, but all of your matrix Moves will be rolled with a -1 in place of the stat you would usually roll the Move with.
  • If you do not have a cyberdeck available, you will need a secure access point and terminal to commence the hacking, you will suffer the same penalties to Moves and will not be able to execute cyberdeck programs. This option generally requires expenditures of [gear] or [intel] resources or preparations like social engineering to gain access to the system.

A cyberdeck's profile includes four different Stats:

  • Processor determines how many programs the deck can run. Each point of Processor allows a deck to run one program. A deck starts with a number of programs equal to its Processor.
  • Hardening protects the circuitry of the cyberdeck from harm. Spend a point of Hardening to prevent an ICE attack from damaging your deck.
  • Stealth prevents a secure system's ICE from locating your login point. As long as your Stealth exceeds the system's Trace, ICE cannot Identify an Intruder or Sever a Connection.
  • Firewall protects the deck's software from harm. Spend a point of Firewall to prevent an ICE attack from damaging your programs.

Matrix Moves

Login (SYNTH)

When you attempt to gain access to a system, roll Synth.

  • 10+: you're in clean
  • 7-9: you're in, but choose one:
    • Passive trace (+1 trace)
    • ICE is activated
    • An alert is triggered (advance the active Mission Clock)
    • Your access is restricted – take -1 ongoing to matrix moves in this system while your access is restricted
  • 6-: you're in, but the MC chooses two

Melt ICE (EDGE)

When you attempt to evade, destroy or disable an activated ICE construct, roll Edge.

  • 7+: you evade, destroy, or temporarily disable the system, your choice
  • 7-9: the system successfully executes a routine before you can disable it

If you're trying to mess with the digital system itself (other than ICE), use compromise security.
If you're trying to mess with the facility, use manipulate systems.

Compromise security (MIND)

When you attempt to compromise a sub-system's security, roll Mind.

  • 10+: gain 3 hold over the sub-system you have compromised
  • 7-9: gain 1 hold
  • 6-: you trigger an alert, which may have additional consequences

You may spend 1 hold to activate a security measure on that sub-system.

Manipulate systems (SYNTH)

When you attempt to manipulate a digitally-controlled aspect of a facility, roll Synth.

  • 10+: gain 3 hold over the sub-system you are manipulating
  • 7-9: gain 1 hold

You may spend 1 hold to activate routines on that sub-system.

Jack out (COOL)

When you, your programs, or your deck are about to be damaged by ICE, you can try to jack out. Roll Cool.

  • 10+: you disconnect yourself from the system before any serious harm occurs
  • 7-9: you jack out, but choose one:
    • You lose some data
    • You take some of the established consequences
    • The owners of the target system trace you to your current location
  • 6-: you take the established consequences… and you're still connected
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