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Slicing Questions

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As I will be running my first game I do have a question regarding slicing. I understand using difficulty dice...and even perhaps using challenge dice on certain occasions as those represent the difficulty of gaining information or control of a computer system. But for the slicer talent tree it has talents to remove setback die for breaking codes and decrypting communications  or bypassing security....rather than downgrading a challenge die or even removing a difficulty die. The rules are fairly sparse when it comes to the topic of slicing....HELP!

 

For those of you who have run games....what general rules do you for handling slicing situations?

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It seems to me that the talents ought to be dealing with being better at slicing itself rather than being able to slice while being shot at.  Advanced security protocols....wouldn't that be part of the difficulty dice rather than added setback dice? I find it a bit confusing.

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Difficulty dice are obtained from the base level of complexity of a system and those basic defenses. Setback dice come about when the system has been placed on alert, or someone has done fancy work doing more personal upgrades to the system.

 

So, for example, if the party sets off an alarm and the Slicer wants to shut it off, or access other computer things, it's harder because the system is aware that there's an intruder of some sort. Another example, the party makes their way into the officers of another slicer. This slicer's system started as a basic model, but he's been tinkering with it to lay in some subtle traps on the paths he'd normally take that activate system warnings and possibly shut out the other hacker. Both of those should be represented as Setback dice.

 

The difference between a personal computer station and a computer station in an secret Imperial facility should be covered by Difficulty dice (and possibly upgrading).

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This seems to run into the problem where it is up to the GM to add in interesting complications resulting in setback dice. I suspect in practice many GMs will simply assign a difficulty, rendering these talents useless.

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This seems to run into the problem where it is up to the GM to add in interesting complications resulting in setback dice. I suspect in practice many GMs will simply assign a difficulty, rendering these talents useless.

 

Well, to me at least, the book doesn't do a very good job describing how to handle slicing. I do realize that with the page count they cannot put everything in with the fullest of descriptions...but I think an additional page or two on this subject would clear a lot of this up...even a chart of examples. 

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Slicing into Cloud City's central computer (as long as its not a power outlet) - easy difficulty

Slicing into the Death Star's main system from a hangar bay control tower - average difficulty

Slicing into an IBC branch office - hard difficulty

Slicing into a Black Sun Vigo's personal system - daunting difficulty

Slicing into an Aing-Tii organic starship - formidable difficulty

 

Having foreknowledge of the type of system or beneficial information to assist in the task (a list of possible passwords) - bonus dice.

Having the right tools for the type of system - bonus dice.

Having all the time in the world - bonus dice.

 

Having to slice in a very hurried or short timeframe - setback dice.

Not having your "toolkit" with you - setback dice.

Unfamiliar system type or security - setback dice.

Under duress (getting shot at, people unlocking the door as you "slice") - setback dice

A computer/datapad with a small blaster hole in it - setback dice

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Thanks, Mr Vander.

 

I also was thinking about setting difficulty dice based on what the characters want to find or do rather than the system opening doors, messing with environmental controls might be one level, getting ship/building layout or bills of laden might be another, etc.

 

Maybe a good way is set the difficulty based on the system hacked and then the setback dice based on how "deep" the players want to go?

 

Thoughts, anybody?

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I, as the GM in my game, was confronted with this same question and was advised to throw in lots of setback dice for various reasons whenever possible, just to make those talents worth while. There are lots of talents that have this type of effect on other skills also, and making sure to use a couple setback dice on many checks right from the beginning helps the players see the value in those talents early, otherwise, as, tbk409 said, they become useless. This is a nice piece of advice not only for computer checks though, but for any skill that has a talent to remove setbacks.

 

Hacking a computer system: set the difficulty and add a setback or two. Damaged terminal = setback, "finding" a hidden panel somewhere in a combat situation might not have proper access to the main systems = a setback or two, advanced security protocols = a setback, system uses odd adapters or connection methods = setback, code is strange, maybe written or modified from a language the character is not familiar with = setback, tracer programs, virus traps that trigger and start deleteing data, or overload systems or even the players tools = more setback. Every situation is going to be different, but by simply adding a single setback to the checks, makes those talents start to look useful. I personally would love to have a list of great ideas for adding setback to these type of checks as it does seem to be more difficult to come up with new ideas on the fly all the time.

 

The point is that anything you can "make up" can add these extra steps or setbacks to overcome. Use them often and you only need to mention something, anything to justify them and the players will normally accept it, just like you dont ask them to fully describe exactly how they hack that terminal, the GM should be allowed the same leeway when applying extra dice.

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Thanks, Mr Vander.

 

I also was thinking about setting difficulty dice based on what the characters want to find or do rather than the system opening doors, messing with environmental controls might be one level, getting ship/building layout or bills of laden might be another, etc.

 

Maybe a good way is set the difficulty based on the system hacked and then the setback dice based on how "deep" the players want to go?

 

Thoughts, anybody?

 

Personally, I would adjust the difficulty not only based on the system, but also the "depth" of the information. So with my examples above, maybe slicing into the Death Star main system is Average but finding that the Princess is scheduled for execution upgrades a difficulty die.

 

I would reserve setback dice for conditional/situational modifiers as in the examples.

 

What's the player trying to do? = Difficulty

OK, now, what's the situation or conditions involved with completing that task? = Setback.

 

Another example: now the other PC's are being smashed in a garbage compactor. You hack into the same system as before (same difficulty - Average) but you haven't accessed the garbage compacter sub-system and its on the detention level (upgrade a difficulty die). However, since you have sliced into the main system before, you get a bonus die. Also, you have to act FAST or the other PC's are going to be pancakes, setback die.

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think about it this way.  Your Slicing skill rank represents how good you are at slicing: ie - yellow dice. 

 

As you gain ranks in the slicing skill, you're getting better at slicing.  This, and only this, describes how "good" you are at slicing.

 

Talents describe how you respond to certain situations.  Talents don't make you "better" at slicing (again, that's what your rank in the Slicing skill does).  However, Talents can keep you cool under pressure and let you put your slicing skill to its full potential (ie - ignoring environmental factors that can trip you up).
 

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I handle it similar to mrvander. In general you should be adding a few setback dice frequently. Look at it like this, it's not very difficult to write an email, but it can be if someone is talking to you, or theres a car alarm going off outside, or you're hungover, or your cat jumps onto your keyboard, those add add setback dice to your attempt to write a simple email. So I choose a Difficulty for how deep into the system your going, and what kind of a system it is. Easy for surface level stuff, up to Hard for secure levels, then I add Setback for security protocol, anti-slicer software, unfamiliar computer systems, and whatever situational modifiers like a blaster fight nearby, damaged power supplies, smoke, etc. If it's an Imperial, Black Sun type place I'll Upgrade the difficulty so a Despair can result, which I'll use to trigger a silent alarm (which the slicer detects with 3 Advantage or a Triumph), or add a difficulty to the next check, or introduce a Rival defensive slicer, which plays out as combat via slicing skills.

I tried the slicer combat recently, there was a set minimum number of rounds necessary to download a file, each round the two slicers rolled against each other, each success/failure would add/remove one round, Threats were strain mostly (there were a lot of setback dice in play already from talents and a firefight in the background), the other dice we used in the standard way. Next time I'm going to use poker chips to track the rounds/download rate, 4 per difficulty level. I thought the defensive slicer was pretty interesting to run, and it was totally unexpected.

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I'm about to GM my first Edge of Empire game, and I haven't actually played it either (and neither have any players).  I am experienced both playing and GMing WFRP though so I understand the dice concepts well.  One of the players will be a slicer, so I am figuring out how to incorporate opportunities for her into my adventure.

 

On Slicing, from what I read below, it seems that the way slicing is used is one roll to accomplish the goal.  So the player says "I want to hack into this terminal terminal at the cantina, access the starport network/computer through the net and look at the schedule of ships coming in" and you build one dice pool for this.

 

Having loved cyber-games and systems, my first inclination would have been to have successive rolls for each step in the process.  Easy to hack the terminal, Average to access the starport network, easy to get into the schedules. But then if they want to create a high security access code an additional hard check.  Each roll would leave dangers of leaving traces or alerting security systems.

 

So that could be as many as 3-4 rolls.  Does anyone that has had a strong slicing component in their games handle it that way?  Or should it really just be one roll for everything from sitting down at the terminal and achieving the final goal?

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In the adventures when it comes to slicing or social checks of that are attempting to obtain information, make contacts, etc. generally there is a list of things you can accomplish and learn depending on the results of the roll.  So for instance you slice into the starport on a success, X number of additional successes might have an option to plant bad information, or leave yourself a backdoor into the system.  A certain number of Advantages with reveal various levels of story information with more Advantages revealing more information.  Some times special results will be laid out for Triumphs, and then there will also be consequences for failure, everything from simply just not learning anything to getting yourself identified, etc.  It will all be contained within the one roll, with many results determined from that overall results of the roll.

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If I'm running an adventure that involves slicing (and by that I mean a real system intrusion, not just a check to access some data or other) I handle it much the way Shadowrun did, for those familiar with that system.

 

Basically I draw a map of the system consisting of one or more "entry nodes" (where the PC starts - tied to where he sliced into the system from physically) and several "data nodes" (nodes that contain information of some sort). Each node is connected to at least one other node. Accessing a node requires a Computers check and is an action, while moving between nodes is a manoeuvre. Downloading the contents of a node can be a manoeuvre or an action, depending on what it is. The PC can use Advantage to buy additional manoeuvres as normal, soften up adjacent nodes, find additional data, and so on. Threat can raise the alert level (add setback dice or upgrade difficulties), get the attention of a system administrator, or anything else you can think of.

 

The real reason to use this approach is if you intend the PC to slice a system while something else is happening at the same time, like combat. If there's no external time pressure there's no need to get this sophisticated.

 

And keep in mind that there are no talents in the Slicer tree that removes setback dice. So if your difficulty is high and you're piling on setback dice as well, your player might well get nowhere. Assign a difficulty based on how sophisticated the security is, and use setback dice for everything else.

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