I’m back with another few excerpts from my Big Ol’ Matrix Re-fluff doc. This time I’m talking about xxx and xxx.
A reminder: my goal here is to re-write the existing fluff to support (my interpretation of) the rules as written. I’m of the opinion that a lot of existing SR material introduces tons of concepts then launches into the rules for how these concepts interact mechanically without first exploring how they interact narratively. So you have to try and reverse-engineer the narrative from the rules, but the rules are complex and sometimes ambiguous, so that’s difficult. I’m trying to bridge over that gap.
Previous posts in this series:
I am not the first to attempt something along these lines. Some other sources I have drawn on:
Consider a busy street. It’s lunchtime in a commercial district in a decent part of town. The sidewalks are thronged with corp workers looking for lunch, walking past various eateries and cafés. Above them tower offices, scores of stories of chrome and steel. Amongst them pass some less savoury characters: some street rat gangers looking for a score, some shadowrunners up to no good, some Knight Errant beat cops trying to keep the peace.
What does this scene look like, in augmented reality (AR), for each of the types of people in the scene? What Augmented Reality Objects (AROs) show up, and under what circumstances?
Let’s start with the corp wageslaves.
Each of them have a commlink. A bit over half of them have a datajack and are hooked into their ‘link wirelessly; most of the rest are using an image link built into cybereyes, glasses, or contacts. All bar a few of them have an active AR layer. The ones who don’t are usually obvious – they have to look at the screen of their commlinks to get around, clearly marking them as being too poor to afford even basic amenities. How primitive.
Each of them has their commlink set to broadcast their System Identification Number (SIN) like all good law-abiding citizens. This takes the form of a small augmented reality object (ARO) that is fixed in position somewhere over their head, moving with them. However, this produces a lot of distracting clutter, so most of the civilians will set their commlinks to filter out these types of objects. They’re there, if they want to look for them: but mostly they’re invisible.
Similarly, each person is carrying around their personal area network (PAN), consisting of their commlink and all their various items of gear that are slaved behind it (cyberwear, maybe a light pistol, perhaps glasses (or contacts) and earbuds if they don’t have cyberwear, etc etc.) In the Matrix, this appears as an icon for the commlink itself, plus a forest of smaller icons for the devices connected to it. But that’s an awful lot to look at in AR while walking down the street, so most people set their own commlinks to either hide it entirely, or at most show each PAN as a single icon and hide all the connected devices.
The businesses along the street are also broadcasting AROs: menus, flyers, advertising, logos. These vary in size and offensiveness of design. Huge flashing billboards outside a Stuffer Shack proclaim 2-for-1 on Nuke-’Emz Frozen Burritos. Wally and Wendy Wageslave pause to think if they want to partake in them.
Director Dan tuts as he nearly walks into Wally and Wendy. He doesn’t even see the Stuffer Shack promo; although it’s set up to broadcast to everyone, Dan’s high-end commlink treats it as spam and hides it from him. Dan’s eyes are focussed on a discreet, unmarked door up ahead. Unmarked in physical space, anyway. But in AR, Dan can see the logo of the members-only club he’s going to go to for lunch. This ARO is visible only to a select group of people, identified by their broadcast SIN, and Dan’s on the list.
That’s not the only difference between what Dan sees and what Wally and Wendy see. All up and down the street, advertising AROs are customised to various tracking profiles built from everything they do online and stored against their SIN. When they look at a particular blank piece of wall, Dan sees ads for the newest Ares special edition executive light pistol, with a real mother-of-pearl inlay on the handle. Wally sees a reminder that he won’t want to miss the big Urban Brawl match tonight for his favoured team, the Seattle Screamers. Wendy sees an advert for a new album from Null Shiva, a Doom Arcanometal band she’s been listening to a lot lately. This invasive and systemic tracking is just how the world is run, chummer. Dan’s profiles scream he has money to spend, and the ads adjust accordingly; the stuff is pricier and the ads are classier. Wally and Wendy aren’t so lucky in life, so they see cheaper stuff in garish colours. So it goes.
Overhead, some ARO graffiti (sometimes called “graffitaro” by dorks) lurks; an animation of a swooping dragon in neon colours. It’s being broadcast from a well-hidden data tag stuck behind the facade of the Stuffer Shack. Occasionally, people with cheaper commlinks flinch as the dragon appears to swoop towards them. Those with more expensive commlinks don’t see it, as the ‘link correctly deduces this is graffiti and should not be displayed. The pranking deckers who place these tags are in a constant, unending war with the spam filtering heuristics deployed by commlink manufacturers.
Moved to this doc (private.)