Shadowrun: The Logic of Dissing Logic

A few weeks ago my Shadowrun group had a short discussion about the usefulness of Logic for a Hacker.  For those unfamilier with the system, Hackers (once called Deckers) are basically what they sound like: computer geeks who break the law for a profit.  It came up that most hacking-related rolls in the game involve adding your skill plus program rather than using your Logic stat and after a closer look it generally appeared that Logic was almost useless for a Hacker to have at all since most everything was based on a composite of skill + program with your actual brain power hardly fitting in at all.

The following comes from the October 18th Shadowrun Chat. I’m not sure I agree with everything that Mr. Taylor says but it certainly is a better explanation that me simply saying “game balance” which was the primary reason I could give before.

Kor Will hacking see the incorporation of an attribute stat in the future? seems odd that a logic 1 char with good programs and coms can hack as well as a logic 6

Peter Taylor All the rules options for Hacking are now available in either the core book and Unwired. The default Shadowrun4 paradigm is that no matter what your intellectual abilities are, its your programs and hardware that are actually interfacing with the Matrix. Your intellectual capacities have very little to do with it since what matters is your ability to manipulate code with code. While this means that anyone with enough money can afford to hack, the software degradation rules mean that should a script kiddie want to hack his high-rating software to avoid leaving a trace they will begin to degrade and he won’t be able to keep up with true hackers who program their own software and patches, and are networked with the Cracker Underground.

Kor Will hacking see the incorporation of an attribute stat in the future? seems odd that a logic 1 char with good programs and coms can hack as well as a logic 6

Peter Taylor Logic comes in when programming, patching and developing software which all define the difference between a hacker and a script kiddie. That said the Pirated Software and Degradation rules as well as the options available to hackers (and not necessarily script kiddies) will be clarified and expanded in Unwired errata.”

It does seem as though it would not be too hard to incorporate Logic in some way if a group so chose. One easy, if slightly off the cuff, solution would be to add one to your hacking rolls for every two logic you have above two. So you would add one dice at four, two dice at six and so on. To make this work however you would also need to allow bonus dice to be added for defenses based on the Logic of the programmer of those defenses, otherwise the game would be unbalanced by the bonus dice (though perhaps not unbalanced to any extreme).

I mostly wanted to mention this because it had come up in our group and I was glad that the oddity of it had not gone unnoticed by the general populace. I think the main problem of it is that Logic is said to be “tied to” all the hacking skills and yet in generally the two do not end up interacting at all. A player playing a hacker character will likely want to have high logic for character reasons but in truth the points they end up spending on upping their Logic will not enter play all that often.

Feel free to sound of about this in the comments below!

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    I do feel there’s logic behind the rules as written (sorry for the pun). The Hacker’s attribute is replaced by that of the program, in the same way a drone’s sensor rating replaces Intuition when observing through a drone.

    I guess the part that might seem weird or unfortunate is Logic being rather absent from dice pools places the average Hacker player in an uncomfortable position. They have to decide whether to short change Logic for some extra weight in active dice pools, or spend what may be decorative points constructing a sensibly intelligent character.

    Allowing Logic to further modify rolls might be one way to boost its relevance. Or bringing more custom software development/modification/maintenance tests into your game… a Hacker’s only as good as their tools. I’ve just started (almost literally) reading Unwired and don’t know how it expands the hacking rules, but from the chat transcript it seems this particular issue hasn’t been addressed head on.

    While it would be hard to force a character down this path, overall I think encouraging a hacker to write their own programs might be my preference. Perhaps along with (or instead of) doing this, maybe employ a modifier based on the comparative program rating and the character’s Logic; using a very powerful and sophisticated program might be difficult for someone who just doesn’t have the mental faculties to comprehend it. The maximum benefit derived from a program might be two times the character’s Logic, so a script kiddie with Logic 1 using a rating 4 Exploit program might only be allowed two dice (plus their hacking skill).

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    jim Says:

    scott makes a good point with the creation of personalized utilities. I also like the last part with the logic times two.

    anotehr way it could be handled is that a character can only handle a program/utility that is two times logic. that way the attribute limits what they can use, while still allowing them to use slightly better programs.