Saturday, 19 January 2013

Shadowrun: How to Hack

So I started running a Shadowrun game a few months ago, the holidays kind of got in the way and we have only just started again. After completing our first adventure it was obvious we have a lot to learn about the rules. One of the first things that we stumbled on was hacking. So after a lot of research I made this beginners guide to hacking in Shadowrun 4th edition. It's certainly far from complete, but it should give you a good start, I'm pretty sure everything here is correct but if not well....its served me well so far.

1. Detecting the Wireless Network [SR4 p225]: In order to hack a system you first must locate the wireless network that you want access to. Doing this is an easy task and requires no test and is considered a free action.
If you are in an area of high wireless activity the GM may require you to make a Electronic Warfare + Scan (GM determined threshold, 1 combat turn) extended test in order to filter through all the traffic for what you want.
It may be that the target network is in hidden mode. In order to identify a hidden network a Electronic Warfare + Scan (4) test is required.
If you are more generally trying to locate any hidden nodes in an area then an Electronic Warfare + Scan (15+, 1 combat turn) extended test is required.

2. Breaking In [SR4 p221]: A Hacker will take to approaches to breaking into a system. Ideally she would probe the target over time to identify any weaknesses in its security. However she may not always have time for this and will have to hack on the fly.

a) Probing the Target: This is the process of tentatively poking and prodding at the system in order to find vulnerabilities that will make it easier to gain access. The hacker must make a Hacking + Exploit (target's System + Firewall, 1 hour or 1 day) Extended Test. This will give the hacker personal account privileges, increase the threshold by +3 for Security privileges or +6 for Admin privileges.
Once the threshold has been achieved and the account created the hacker only has to use a complex action in order to break into the system. No further test is required.
At this point the system gets a chance to try and detect the hacker by making a single Analyze + Firewall (hackers Stealth) test. If it succeeds then an alert is triggered.  

b) Hacking on the Fly: If you think of probing the target as using a lock pick then hacking on the fly is the same as using a crowbar. It can be used to open a door at the end of the corridor your being chased down and then lock it behind you or to access the cameras ready to catch you sneaking into a warehouse. It's much quicker but leaves you more vulnerable to detection.
A Hacking + Exploit (targets firewall, 1 initiative pass) Extended Test is required to access the target system with Personal account privileges, as before increase the threshold by +3 or +6 for Security or Admin privileges respectively.
Remember I said that it was much easier to be detected while hacking on the fly, well every time the hacker makes a test the system gets to make an Analyze + Firewall (Hacker's Stealth) extended test. If it succeeds an alert is triggered.

Once a hacker is into the system she is free to go about performing any tasks that her account privileges permit. However she should still be on alert for roving security hackers and Intrusion Countermeasures (IC). In addition if an alert has been raised the system is likely to take active measures to deal with the hacker.

3. Log Off [SR4 p220]: No test is required to log off; it is merely a Simple Action. The exception is when a hacker is engaged with Black IC [SR4 p231].

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Shadowrun Diaries: A Runners First Test

My friends and I have begun our very first foray into the world of Shadowrun. Here I will document our triumphs and disasters....probably a lot of disasters.

Week Two - Baby Steps
We started this week off with finishing up character creation. There are still a few things that need to be worked out, but I'm giving the players a chance to try out their runners before they make any permanent commitments. None of us have any experience with Shadowrun so this will help prevent anyone from being locked into a character that doesn't work how they thought it would. 

Next the players began their first job. For this I am using the pre-made adventure 'On the Run' from the Runners Toolkit. The adventure it self seems pretty good, especially for beginners, plus it gives a lot of GM advice. Though I feel like it suffers the same problem that I have with the main SR4 20th anniversary rule book; the layout is terrible. Information is all over the place, telling you stuff that you wont need for a few pages then backtracking on its self. Nevertheless it does provide me with everything I need to run the game.

So first of all I'll introduce the characters a bit better.

First of all we have Takamoto Kimiko or 'Miko' a 50 year old human Japanese Rigger. She came to Seattle from Japan in search of a better life but has found her self a squatter and a criminal, but as least she is free to do as she pleases. Miko spends her days fixing vehicles and machinery for a mechanic friend. She is also a pacifist, only resorting to violence when all other options have been attempted, this may cause some tension in the group but we will see how it plays out. 

Next we have the young Dwarf Hacker.... Simon, or as he prefers 'Neuro'. He has gone for a bit of a jack-of-all-trades character really, he may be good at hacking but he has also picked up some social skills, to fill in the 'Face' role when required. After all someone is needed to speak for the group. Neuro is also semi-capable with small guns so isn't totally useless in a fight.

Finally there is Viselliev (I have definitely spelt this wrong) formally Jurngen, a Troll Brawler from Russia. He works as a bouncer for a low level club and is an expert in smashing heads together, loving nothing more than being in the thick of a fight. He is a little dimwitted and prefers to let others make the decisions, hanging back until he is needed, plus he has a really bad fashion sense. 

So that's the group. I'm a little worried about what will happen if they find themselves in a desperate situation, but as far as I can tell, in Shadowrun it's best to avoid fire fights so this may not be too much of a problem if they play smart. 

The game began with Miko receiving a call from her Fixer with a job. She was directed to meet Mr Johnson at the Infinity night Club at 9pm. Miko promptly gathered her fellow runners and they met outside the club. Miko and Neruo went in without a problem, but Viselliev (I must find out how he spelt this) wasn't so lucky. His poor fashion sense worked against him and the Bouncers wouldn't let him in, not sure what to do he decided to accost an innocent club goer in an ally next to the club and swap clothes, this certainly didn't help things considering the human clothes were a poor fit for his Troll physique. The guy ran off, but there still may be repercussions for this. So now dressed in overly tight leather displaying his entire midriff to the world Viselliev attempted to enter the club again. The bouncers very confused at what they were seeing, didn't know how to react and accepted a somewhat smaller bribe than they usually would and let the Troll in. 

Miko and Neuro, slightly scared at the sight of Viselliev tried to push forward with the mission at hand and promptly bribed the elf barmaid to take them to see Mr Johnson. Mr J explained that his employer had something of value stolen from him, an old-style optical disc and he wanted the runners to retrieve it. Neruo attempted to persuade Mr Johnson to up his 10,000¥ payment but failed, still the team was happy with the amount and left in order to begin their legwork.

Things slowed down a lot here, the players had a lot of discussion and roleplay, which was great as it is something that didn't happen much when we played DnD. It will be a lot better though when we don't have to check the rule book every time someone wants to do something but that will come with practice. 
Through contacts and data searches they managed to discover that there was a good chance this stolen disc holds some lost tracks from legendary rocker JetBlack and that many big personalities in the music business received a fairly vague email offering a disc with something very special on it for sale, including the very popular Goblinrocker Nabo, who they discovered is playing a gig in an old warehouse in two days. Unfortunately it took them a very long time to bite this hook and kept trying to find more information from other sources which led to Viselliev not having a whole lot to do. I kept mentioning the Nabo gig and eventually they decided to attempt to access his comlink to retrieve the email while he is on stage. 

The game ended with Visselliev and Neuro going to check out the warehouse where the Nabo gig is being held. We had to finish there as we ran out of time. Next week we should be able to get through a fair bit more now that everyone has a better idea of what to do.

So will they manage to sneak into the gig? can they find who is selling the disc? does it contain what they think it does? Find out next time.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Shadowrun Diaries - So it Begins

My friends and I have begun our very first foray into the world of Shadowrun. Here I will document our triumphs and disasters....probably a lot of disasters.

Want more Shadowrun? Check out my Beginners Hacking Guide!

Week One - Character Creation
None of us have played Shadowrun before and with only myself owning the books we were some what in over our heads from the beginning. Though the character creation process is relatively straight forward and we managed to get through most of it.

The book itself seems to be a bit all over the place with rules, leaving us a little unsure on what exactly to do. But with a little searching we managed to figure most of it out.

As far as characters go, we have three of them. A currently nameless Dwarf Technomancer, A Troll brawler type by the name of Jurgen and a human engineer sort called Takamoto Kimiko who is an a pretty frail old women.
They each have some contacts that I'm going flesh out over the next week for use in the campaign, after we finish buying gear and applying the finishing touches to the PC's themselves.

I'm a little worried about the party make up but not having played the game before I have no idea how this will play out. With any luck they will turn out to be an awesome team, otherwise, killing players can be fun too.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Geek & Sundry guys mention Leaping Wizards

The guys over at Geek & Sundry collect together mentions from the around the internet and a few days ago they were kind enough to mention Leaping Wizards and my little fan boy rant about Wil Weatons show TableTop, which you can read here.

The community round up is here for anyone who wants to see other articles written by North Star Games and The Outhousers.

Oh also...THIS:

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wil Wheaton's TableTop

Back in April the lovely Felicia Day started a Youtube channel and website called Geek and Sundry, it features a few shows including Day's vlog, named The Flog where she talks about her favorite things of the week, does some random and usually awesome activity and answers a fan question. Though most importantly it is the home of Wil Wheaton's TableTop which is by far the most entertaining thing I have watched on the internet since I realised Netflix had Firefly.

TableTop is a show where Wil Wheaton gets his friends and other awesome people together around the gaming table to play some of the best games around. I have already bought Settlers of Catan and Fiasco because of the show, which may reveal more about my impulse control than the show itself but nevertheless it is awesome.

Oh look I mentioned Fiasco! TableTop's three part episode of this game was amazing, just watching Will Wheaton, Alison Haislip, Bonnie Burton and John Rogers play this game was a truly enjoyable experience and I cannot wait to play it for myself.

For those of you wondering, Fiasco is described as a:

GM-less game for 3-5 players, designed to be played in a few hours with six-sided dice and no preparation. During a game you will engineer and play out stupid, disastrous situations, usually at the intersection of greed, fear, and lust. It's like making your own Coen brothers movie, in about the same amount of time it'd take to watch one.
 So please go HERE and watch TableTop and bask in all its glory. The show is truly a hero to the GMless crowd and does a great job of highlighting some great games that many may not have heard of.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Quest - Make Your Own Game

Quest is a tool created by a clearly awesome dude by the name of Alex Warren, that allows you to create your own text based adventures and even turn that game into an app. It simplifies all the coding involved,  into an interface that anyone can use. Best of all, its completely free.

I'm sure many people reading this have wanted to create a game at some point, most of you probably do every week at the gaming table but putting that game in an interactive format for random people to play, that takes a lot of fairly specific knowledge, well not any more. Quest is a tool that you can download or use right in your browser.

When beginning to create a game you are given two options, to either make a  'Text Adventure' or a 'Game Book'. A text adventure is similar to a MUD, you are given a description and you type in commands, such as, "I look at sword". The game book option is of course like a game book such as the Fighting Fantasy series.

The software makes creating your game unbelievably simple, walking you through every step so that there is no need to know how to code at all. But for those of us who like to get our hands dirty a code view is also available. You can also add sounds and images to make your game completely unique.

Another amazing feature is that you can turn your game into an iOS and Android app with very little effort and even sell it on the app store and google play, or give it away for free.

Although certainly not the only way to make your own text based game, Quest is a very powerful tool and bridges a gap for a lot of people, hopefully helping out a lot of budding game makers.

Visit to download Quest and check out the wealth of documentation and games available  all for free.

P.S. I was made aware of this by someone on twitter this morning, but I was mostly asleep at the time and have no idea who that was. So if in the unlikely event you happen to be reading this THANKYOU fellow game book enthusiast.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Podcast: Fighting Fantasy's Clash of Princes

On Saturday I sat down with my good friend Scott Malthouse from Trollish Delver to record our play through of the Fighting Fantasy book 'Clash of Princes'. This was a pretty special play through though, this book(s) is a two player adventure. It works really well and we had a blast, despite it being an abysmal disaster. Also we made it a drinking game, the rules were simple:
1. Drink if you loose stamina
2. Drink if you fail a roll
3. Drink when Status or Action changes (unique to these books I believe)
4. Down your drink if you die.