Matrix Tutorial

Rolling Dice and doing things.

The Matrix is a structured environment in which the Decker can interact with the electronic world in predefined formats, called System Actions. These actions cover a wide range of possible ideas. Each action utilizes as utility or program based in the Deckers Cyberdeck. The Target Number depends on the Host System the Decker is currently in. Some example actions a decker can take are, Locating a file on a server (Locate File), reconfiguring an ATM to spit out 20s until its empty (Edit Slave) or trying to reconfigure a matrix icon to have buck-teeth, rabbit ears and a prodigiously large penis (Alter Icon).

The Target Number (TN) for an action is set by the host rating of the particular system you are in at the time. Each action has a Utility and a Host Subsystem associated with it. To find the TN for a given action, the Deckers appropriate utility rating is subtracted from the Host Subsystem in question. The result is the TN for the action. As an example, if the Host's FILE rating is 8, and you are attempting to edit data in a file, and your Read/Write program is Rating 4, the resulting TN for the action is 4. Most actions are a simple Computers(Decking) test with hacking pool or other modifiers.

Host Ratings (ACIFS)

Every computer on the Matrix (A Host) has 6 individual ratings that represent the power and ability of that host. A color-number like Orange-4 or Green-12. This represents the power of the server itself and how tough it is. The others are purely numeric and represent other aspects of the servers protocols and represent the base TN for various actions. These are referred to as Access, Control, Index, Files, Slave or ACIFS for short.

  • Each computer has 6 ratings:
Security Access Control Index Files Slave
Color-X X X X X X

These ratings determine the difficulty of certain tasks within the matrix. The actual Target Number you use with your Computer skill depends on any relevant utilities you have. Some utilities let you access nodes, others let you attack IC. For example, in order to Logon to a node, you would roll Computers.(Decking) versus that node's Access rating as a TN, with your Deception Utilities' rating subtracting from the TN. If you do not have the (decking) specialization, you use the base computer skill at no penalty.

Example Host (Easy)
Security Access Control Index Files Slave
Blue-6 8 10 10 8 10
Example Host (Average)
Security Access Control Index Files Slave
Orange-8 11 15 13 13 15
Example Host (Hard)
Security Access Control Index Files Slave
Red-12 15 14 16 15 16

The Security Sheaf

Every host has a security sheaf, that is a list of IC inhabiting the system and at what level of security alert they will activate. Find more on this, in the IC section.

Decker Stats

In the Matrix, your personal statistics don't matter, its all about the gear you have. Intelligence plays a factor in determining some stats such as hacking pool, but hardware and programs you have available. A cyberdeck persona has 6 basic stats.

MPCP This is the operating system the deck, used for the factoring of all other stats, and also limits the rating of all programs on the deck.
Masking This statistic helps determine a deckers Detection Factor, or how sneaky the decker is.
Body This functions to help absorb incoming damage from IC.
Sensors This statistic helps the Decker locate hostile IC and understand its nature, as well as scanning other things in the Matrix around him.
Evasion This helps the decker run from or hide from IC, other deckers.
Hardening This stat helps the decker avoid the damaging mental effects of Black or Grey IC

There are three other stats a decker must be aware of. Hacking pool, Initiative and Detection Factor. Each of these, are factored from the deckers Cyberware, Intelligence and the decks stats. Some decks have components built in which may affect a given deck's performance, such as Response Increase.

Hacking Pool

Every user with a Cyberdeck (As opposed to a cyber-terminal, or users accessing in tortoise mode) has a Hacking Pool.

This pool is determined by adding your deck's MPCP rating to your Intelligence Attribute, and then dividing the total by 3. The result is rounded down to give you your hacking pool. However, certain cyberware add to your hacking pool, like the Math SPU and the Encephalon. Anything that increases your Int, may also increase your Hacking Pool indirectly. Hacking pool can be added to any computer related roll on the Matrix. Once you use up your Hacking pool, it cannot be used again until the next Initiative Phase.

Example - Hacking Pool
((Int)+(MPCP)/3))+(Encephalon Rating)+(Math SPU Rating)

Initiative and Actions per Round

In any single pass of a turn, You can make two simple actions or a single complex action. You may also use an unlimited number of free actions, and one reaction (if the situation allows you a reaction). All Actions are based on initiative, as per normal Shadowrun. Initiative is determined in the following formula, with Intelligence in place of reaction.

Base Initiative Additional Dice
((Intelligence)+(Response Increase Rating *2)) 1d6(Initiative)+Xd6(Response Increase Rating)

Additionally, using a deck in pure DNI mode adds another +2 and 1d6 to the initiative. The highest possible Matrix initiative is Int+10+6d6.

The sum of these dice is used to determine initiative order. Dice that roll over a 6 are counted as 6. If your initiative is a 22 and the probe IC's (For example) initiative is 17, this means you go first. After both (or all) parties have their first round actions, if any are still alive, all parties initiative is reduced by 10 (For example, to 12 and 7 respectively) , and if we have any left, we can act again. This cycle repeats until no-one has any initiative left, and then we roll Initiative again, if we're both still alive. In this example, You have one extra action cycle compared to the Probe IC, which can be a decided strategic advantage, allowing you to do something uninterrupted or countered by the Probe.

Detection Factor and Security Tally

Whenever you make a move in the matrix; even if that move is not to do anything, the system is trying to find you. Every turn, the system you are in makes a security check against your detection factor. The computer uses a number of dice equal to it's security rating.

The system's Target Number is your Detection Factor. You determine your Detection Factor by adding your deck's Masking attribute to your Sleaze Utility, and then you divide the total by two, rounding up.

For example, Decker Bob have Masking 7, and Sleaze 7. Added and then divided by 2, that makes 7. So when the computer makes a check against me, it uses 7 as the target number. Bob is in a rating 6 host, so the host would use six dice to do this, like this: +roll 6/7"

Detection Factor
(Masking+Sleaze)/2

If the system adds the number of successes to Decker Bob's Security tally. If the system earns more successes than Decker Bob, it adds the number of successes to his security tally and it prevents him from completing the operation he was attempting.

Your security tally persists until you switch to a different RTG, perform a graceful log-off action, or jack out and stay logged out for 30 minutes. Your security Tally is used to determine what kind of resistance you face in a node. Your GM will usually keep the exact security in each node secret from you, until you gain a high enough tally to activate one of the IC, Frames, Agents or Alarms in the system.

Triggering Security

So, what happens when you do trigger security? Well, even when there's an IC tailing you, there is no guarantee that you know about it. Your GM will likely tell you to make a sensors test.

Detecting the IC

For a sensors test, you roll dice equal to the sensor rating on your deck. You have to beat the IC's Rating to spot it. So, say Decker-Bob trigger a Probe 6 IC, I have to make an open Sensor test, by rolling 7 Dice in an open test. Decker-Bob does not know the TN, as that would reveal what level the IC is. The GM will then tell him what he sees.

In this case, Decker-Bob's highest die was 7, which is enough to see the IC.

Types of IC

Trace Trace IC attempts to find your physical location and deploy police or security to arrest you.
Probe Probe IC increase your security tally and tell other IC where to find you.
White White IC attack your persona
Grey grey IC attack your deck
Black Black IC attack your brain
Tar Tar IC attack your utilities
Host Rating IC Rating + XD6 Damage Rating
Blue Host 1d6 L
Green Host 2d6 M
Orange Host 3d6 S
Red Host 4d6 D

Attacking the IC

So, Decker-Bob is going first, and he decides that he's going to attack the Probe IC. He has the Attack (D) Program at rating 6 and a Hacking Pool of 4. He chooses to use all of his hacking pool to attack the probe. Decker Bob rolls the attack program's rating (6) and adds the 4 Hacking pool. Bob's target number depends on the type of Icon he is attacking, and the color of the host. Against security deckers, users, frames, agents, S-K and IC native to the host, use the Authorized TN. Also use this TN if a decker has validated themselves an account. For Intruding deckers or their frames, agents or S-K's, without their own accounts, use the Intruding TN.

Host Color Intruding TN Authorized User TN
Blue 6 3
Green 5 4
Orange 4 5
Red 3 6
Program Rating + Hacking Pool vs Appropriate Target TN

Bob gets two successes. Now the probe rolls it's Rating against Bob's Attack Rating to stage down the damage. It has a rating of 6, and Bob's program have an attack rating of 6, so it's target number is 6. Certain options, like the Shift or Armor can cause Bob's TN to go up or the IC's TN to go down. In this case, no other modifiers are applied. Damage can be staged normally, at a rate of one level per two successes.

It gains no successes, and takes deadly damage which causes it to crash. A crashing IC adds it's rating to your Security Tally, unless you sacrifice one of your Hacking Pool for the duration of the run to suppress it. Bob chooses to suppress it, lowering his Hacking Pool to 3 for the remainder of the run, and it does not raise his Security Tally.

Resisting the IC

When an IC Succeeds in hitting you, you roll your Deck's 'Bod' stat to soak damage, as in real combat. Your Target Number is the rating of the IC attacking you, minus your Armor utility. You can roll your shield rating to attempt to completely deflect an attack, but it's rating decreases with each use. Hardening reduces the Willpower test TN to soak Stun damage caused by Non-Lethal Black or Grey IC"


Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License