Introduction to my Matrix houserules

Discussing what I am trying to achieve here

These rules are not yet canon for my current campaign, as they are incomplete. But I hope to finish them soon (at least to a playable state.)

Note that these rules are intended to be used in conjunction with my re-written Matrix fluff.

tl;dr: comparing these rules to RAW

Some loose, probably incomplete notes on what I’ve changed and why.

Changes intended to make the fluff and mechanics align better:

  • Splitting the Matrix into local mesh / the backbone: intended to justify why deckers have to get out into the field and can’t hide in a darkened, safe basement far from the action.
  • Clarify how deckers mess with other people’s gear: for example, by clearly stating the limits of Send Command.
  • Clarify exactly what a decker sees in AR: intended to resolve the long-standing “can deckers see through walls?” FAQ.
  • Buff AR accessed via DNI to close the gap to cold-sim VR: intended to encourage/empower deckers to get out into the field without having to risk their meatbods by dipping into VR.

Changes intended to make play faster by either reducing steps to resolve outcomes or making the steps easier to remember:

  • Streamlined action list: intended to make it easier to keep track of what deckers roll to Do The Thing without having to rely on cheat sheets. I have taken inspiration from the magic system in Shadowrun: a small number of standardised rolls but with the outcomes applied in different ways, as opposed to the RAW for Matrix actions, where there’s 40+ actions to choose from and each has a bespoke roll associated with it.
  • Streamlined access levels to outsider/user/admin, inspired by SR 6e. Also, access levels now apply to everything in a PAN or WAN after one hacking roll.
  • Remove data bombs: encouraging deckers to do Matrix perception to every file before they manipulate it significantly slows play down.
  • Make Matrix perception work like meatspace perception: ie. the decker rolls once and applies the same result to everything they could potentially notice, rather than rolling once per target.

Changes intended to increase player flexibility or offer players hard choices between trade-offs:

  • Included a variation on the Probe/Backdoor Actions from SR 6e to offer more variety between the stealthy and non-stealthy approaches. I have changed the exact mechanics of Probe/Backdoor to suit my own preferences, however.
  • Reworked Overwatch Score and what happens when it reaches convergence; intended to reduce book-keeping but add a push-your-luck mechanic for brave deckers.

Acknowledgements

  • u/cras_, who was always willing to subject his characters to my half-baked ideas
  • u/Ingnimortis, who was kind enough to review drafts of these rules and offer comments and insight
  • Banshee, who generously shared insights into his design process for the SR 6e Matrix rules
  • Anyone who has ever shared Matrix houserules on r/shadowrun; I drew inspiration and ideas from many such sources. In particular, u/dezzmont and u/LeVentNoir. And to u/ReditXenon, who’s encyclopaedic knowledge of Matrix RAW kept me honest on numerous occasions.
Last modified July 19, 2020