This section will tell you all you need to know about the Matrix, cyberdecks, programs, ice, and on and on. Make sure you have a working knowledge of the basics before reading this section. If you don't understand, I suggest reading part 4 of Section II first. Now then...
The Matrix is evidence of how well-thought-out this title is: there's actually a point to Matrix runs. It's not just eye candy, or thrown in just to remain loyal to the license. There are a number of legitimate reasons to hire a decker (or to get cybered and jack in yourself) in this game. First of all, there are the actual shadowruns themselves. For an experienced decker, Matrix runs can be very lucrative. The most expensive contracts in the game (6,000¥-plus) are always Matrix runs. And, as one would expect, the Karma bonuses for these runs are accordingly high (+6 Karma for a big-time run). Or, if you want to make some serious cash without having to work through a Johnson, you can jump right in and rustle up as many datafiles as you can, then sell them to Roscoe for potentially huge sums of cash.
Besides using the Matrix and its subsystems for direct financial gain, you can use it as a tool that can help you in corp runs—jacking in from inside the building and playing with SMs and crashing CPUs can make your job a lot easier. Also, downloading datafiles from corporate systems is a great way to learn more about the plot. There are some very illuminating files stashed away in those DS Nodes.
This section is made up of charts, figures and strategies that will help you navigate the Matrix and corporate networks more easily. If you're trying to find out the stats on a deck, or which program to use, or how to hack into networks like a pro, then read on.
The cyberdeck is what allows you to take the form of the Persona and enter the Matrix. It's a lot like a personal computer in that it uses memory and storage, can be upgraded, and can run programs and manipulate files. If you have a basic understanding of computers in real life, then you should be able to figure out cyberdecks pretty quickly.
This part will explain the various statistics for cyberdecks, as well as give a rundown of what actions they affect and which ones are the most important. Deck specifications fall into three categories: The inherent base values that can't be changed, the stats that can be improved via hardware upgrades, and the attributes that affect the representation of the Persona. First, the two base values (the ones that can't be changed) will be listed, then the hardware stats, and finally the attribute ratings. -----Base Values----- MPCP - Stands for Master Persona Control Program. A deck's MPCP rating can never be changed, as it is an inherent signifier of the deck's overall worth. Virtually every function that you perform with your deck uses the MPCP at least a little bit. Perhaps the most relevant piece of information I can give you about the deck's MPCP is that it reflects the potential of your deck. Cyberdecks cannot be upgraded beyond what their MPCP values can handle. That is, if your deck's MPCP is 6, then that's the highest level you'll be able to raise its attributes. Because of the reasons listed here, the MPCP is perhaps the most important deck statistic, and it should be taken into careful consideration when shopping for a new deck. Hardening - Another important statistic, Hardening is basically your deck's defensive power. Like the MPCP, it cannot be changed via hardware upgrades. Despite some people's strategies, the Matrix is really more about avoiding detection than destroying everything in your path (think about Metal Gear Solid versus Quake). For this reason, Hardening plays a large role in the Matrix, while there is no statistic specifically relative to attack power. Your ability to avoid, absorb, and withstand attacks from hostile ice is of much more use than how hard you can hit with your own attacks. -----Hardware Stats----- Response - This statistic is pretty broad -- it affects a wide range of actions, most of which have something to do with how you perceive and interact with your surroundings in cyberspace. Perhaps most noticeably, a higher Response rating will substantially increase the overall speed of your deck in performing a number of actions such as running, loading, and refreshing utilities. Memory - Similar to real life computers, your deck has a limit on how much it can do at one time. Each program takes up a certain amount of memory, and a given deck can't load any more programs than can fit within its memory limits. Regardless of memory, though, you can't load any more than five files at a time, period. If your deck is short on memory, you'll find yourself having to unload programs in order to load other ones. This is time-consuming, tedious, and risky, if you're trying to switch programs in the middle of an encounter with enemy ice. Storage - Unlike Memory, which is how many programs you can have "equipped" at one time, Storage is how much you can carry, total, regardless of what programs are loaded. If you plan on doing a lot of Matrix runs and data sales, you should know that Storage is used not only by programs that you buy for your deck, but also for datafiles that you download from systems in the Matrix. Load/IO Speed - Whereas Response is an inherent value that has some effect on cybercombat speed, Load/IO Speed is an upgradeable rating that has a direct effect on how fast your Persona operates inside the Matrix. As its name states, Load/IO Speed controls how quickly programs can be loaded into memory while in cyberspace. -----Attributes----- Bod - Bod is your deck's actual defense rating while in the Matrix. Don't confuse this with Hardening, which is an unchangeable value attached to each deck. If you want to use the analogy of fighting in the real world, you can think of Hardening as your natural toughness, and Bod as your toughness after you factor in what type of armor you're wearing. Evasion - Evasion controls the Persona's capability to dodge incoming attacks from hostile ice. The higher its rating, the more often your Persona will be able to evade attacks. Masking - This is perhaps the most important rating of the deck. It affects two important areas: Node detection and the Deception program. A high Masking attribute means that a.)it will take longer for the system to detect your actions and sound alerts; and b.)you will have more success when running Deception. Since these are two very important parts of the matrix run process, it's usually a good idea to invest in a high Masking rating. Sensor - This attribute only has one use, and it's not even a very good one. Decks with high Sensor ratings will have more success when running Analyze. Whoopee.
After reading the above information, you should have a pretty good idea of which stats to upgrade in order to be a more effective decker. But, if you still want a little more help, check out these deck tuning tips: * The only attribute worth upgrading is Masking. The others will only come into play in rare situations, and even then will be of limited value. A high Masking rating, on the other hand, will greatly help you avoid many kinds of ice, making Matrix runs much easier. * As far as the hardware stats go, Load/IO Speed isn't that important since you won't have to change programs on the fly very often -- provided you have enough space. That's why you should take the time to upgrade your Storage and Memory specs often. However, the most important hardware stat is Response. Nothing's worse than being matched up against high-level ice that you can only hit once out of every 10 or so shots, and having it take what seems like forever to refresh the program for each attack. Especially against a tracer-type ice, this can be infuriating. So, to give yourself at least a fighting chance, you'll want to make sure you can attack at a somewhat brisk pace. Pump up on Response and you'll notice an immediate difference. * When buying programs, watch your available storage! Make sure to leave yourself enough room for datafiles. If you get stuck with less than 200 Mp of space, you'll have a tough time trafficking data and will have to upgrade your storage or your entire deck.
Here's a list of all the cyberdecks in the game, along with all relevant stats and info for each one, including where you can purchase them. The columns listed are, in order: The name of the cyberdeck, initial/maximum Memory, initial/maximum Storage, initial/maximum Load/IO Speed, Hardening, initial Response, MPCP, the store at which the deck can be bought (MT=Microtronics, CM=Crime Mall), the price, and the Negotiation value of the buyer that corresponds with that price. Also note that all decks have a maximum Response value of 3, so that stat wasn't included in the list.
Finally, note that you can get a Fairlight Excalibur, identical to the one found at the Crime Mall, from Kipp David for 185,000 nuyen. This price never changes, regardless of the character's Negotiation stat. And, of course, no price data on the Allegiance Alpha is available, since you start out with that deck and it isn't sold anywhere.
Deck Name Memory Storage Load/IO H R MP St Price At Neg. ------------------- ------- --------- ------- - - -- -- ------- ------- Allegiance Alpha 30/120 100/250 10/30 0 0 3 -- -- -- Cyber Shack PCD-500 50/160 100/325 20/40 1 0 4 MT 5,000 0-2 4,844 3 4,688 4 4,532 5 4,376 6 4,220 7 4,064 8 3,908 9 3,752 10 3,596 11 3,440 12 Fairlight Excalibur 500/500 1000/1000 100/120 5 3 12 CM 250,000 0-2 240,240 3 230,480 4 220,720 5 210,960 6 201,200 7 191,440 8 181,680 9 171,920 10 162,160 11 152,400 12 Fuchi Cyber-5 100/240 500/500 20/60 2 1 6 MT 25,000 0-2 24,219 3 23,438 4 22,657 5 21,876 6 21,095 7 20,314 8 19,533 9 18,752 10 17,971 11 17,190 12 Fuchi Cyber-7 300/400 1000/1000 50/100 4 2 10 CM 125,000 0-2 120,120 3 115,240 4 110,360 5 105,480 6 100,600 7 95,720 8 90,840 9 85,960 10 81,080 11 76,200 12 SEGA CTY-360 200/320 500/650 50/80 3 1 8 MT 60,000 0-2 58,125 3 56,250 4 54,375 5 52,500 6 50,625 7 48,750 8 46,875 9 45,000 10 43,125 11 41,250 12
Just a few quick notes about deck shopping... You start with an Allegiance Alpha. You end up (I assume) with a Fairlight Excalibur. What you do in between is up to you. Personally, I only make one extra hop, usually buying a mid-level deck from Microtronics such as the Cyber-5 or CTY-360. I think that buying any more than that is a waste of time. On the other hand, all the programs and upgrades carry over to the next deck, so if you think it's worth the extra money to be constantly increasing your MPCP, Hardening, and max values, then go ahead—the cost of the deck itself is the only extra money you'll be spending. Still, the low-mid-high route should be more than enough to get you through the varying difficulties of each Matrix system. My advice is to get your Alpha to the point where it can take out green DSs easily, then start working toward the mid-level deck. After you buy the mid- level deck, hold on to it for as long as you can until you have the money for the Excalibur.
Programs are perhaps more commonly referred to in the game as "utilities," but I'm calling them programs in this FAQ just because it sounds better. So there.
The programs in Shadowrun are perhaps one of the few areas in the game that are kind of weak. That is, most programs are unnecessary and basically pointless. Only a handful are truly useful inside the Matrix, and I recommend that you not bother with wasting space by buying the others unless it's to feed a Tar Pit (see Part 5 in this section, Matrix Strategies).
The two essential programs if you want to do any Matrix running are Attack and Deception. If you don't have these programs in decent levels, you can forget about being able to do anything in the Matrix. I know I've said this before, but I can't stress it enough: Use Deception first, and switch to Attack ONLY after the ice has become hostile. Battles can be long, drawn out, boring, and quite dangerous, if the Persona is overmatched. On the other hand, even if it takes five or six tries to crack a Node with Deception, it would still probably have taken longer to kill it with Attack. This is assuming you have equivalent program versions and deck stats, of course. If you want, you can even focus most of your upgrades on your deck's Masking stat and higher versions of the Deception program. It's truly the most important program there is.
There are other programs with a lesser amount of usefulness, and some with none at all. If you want to know what I think of each program, check out the comprehensive listing in the next subsection.
When buying programs, it is very important to consider your deck's storage and memory limitations. More and more advanced versions will use more and more storage and memory, so make sure you will have enough. Keep in mind that you need enough memory to have at least Deception and Attack loaded simultaneously, and hopefully one or two others, as well. Also, you need around 300 Mp of free storage in addition to your programs if you plan on collecting and selling data.
Here's the full list of all the programs in the game. For the purpose of this FAQ, I've divided the programs into four Types: Small, Medium, Large, and Special. These categories define the program's size and price for all versions. The stats are consistent, so you can expect two different Medium programs to always take up the same amount of space as one another, and to cost the same too. In fact, the scheme is very simple: the prices and sizes of Medium programs are exactly two times those of equal-version Small programs, and the Large programs are three times as big and expensive as Smalls. Using that information, you could extrapolate all the data you need, but this is a FAQ after all, so I've tried to help by typing out the tables below. Also, the two Special programs—Rebound and Degrade—follow their own pricing scheme, so you'll need to look at each program's entry for that information.
SMALL PROGRAMS follow this size/price scheme: +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Program Level | L1 | L2 | L3 | L4 | L5 | L6 | L7 | L8 | +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Program Size | 2 | 8 | 18 | 32 | 50 | 72 | 98 | 128 | +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Price @ 0-2 Negot. | 60| 480| 1,620| 3,840| 7,500|12,960|20,580|30,720| Price @ 3 Negot. | 59| 465| 1,570| 3,720| 7,266|12,555|19,937|29,760| Price @ 4 Negot. | 58| 450| 1,520| 3,600| 7,032|12,150|19,294|28,800| Price @ 5 Negot. | 57| 435| 1,470| 3,480| 6,798|11,745|18,651|27,840| Price @ 6 Negot. | 56| 420| 1,420| 3,360| 6,564|11,340|18,008|26,880| Price @ 7 Negot. | 55| 405| 1,370| 3,240| 6,330|10,935|17,365|25,920| Price @ 8 Negot. | 54| 390| 1,320| 3,120| 6,096|10,530|16,722|24,960| Price @ 9 Negot. | 53| 375| 1,270| 3,000| 5,862|10,125|16,079|24,000| Price @ 10 Negot. | 52| 360| 1,220| 2,880| 5,628| 9,720|15,436|23,040| Price @ 11 Negot. | 51| 345| 1,170| 2,760| 5,394| 9,315|14,793|22,080| Price @ 12 Negot. | 50| 330| 1,120| 2,640| 5,160| 8,910|14,150|21,120| +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ MEDIUM PROGRAMS follow this size/price scheme: +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Program Level | L1 | L2 | L3 | L4 | L5 | L6 | L7 | L8 | +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Program Size | 3 | 12 | 27 | 48 | 75 | 108 | 143 | 192 | +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Price @ 0-2 Negot. | 90| 720| 2,430| 5,760|11,250|19,440|30,870|46,080| Price @ 3 Negot. | 88| 698| 2,355| 5,580|10,899|18,833|29,906|44,640| Price @ 4 Negot. | 86| 676| 2,280| 5,400|10,548|18,226|28,942|43,200| Price @ 5 Negot. | 84| 654| 2,205| 5,220|10,197|17,619|27,978|41,760| Price @ 6 Negot. | 82| 632| 2,130| 5,040| 9,846|17,012|27,014|40,320| Price @ 7 Negot. | 80| 610| 2,055| 4,860| 9,495|16,405|26,050|38,880| Price @ 8 Negot. | 78| 588| 1,980| 4,680| 9,144|15,798|25,086|37,440| Price @ 9 Negot. | 76| 566| 1,905| 4,500| 8,793|15,191|24,122|36,000| Price @ 10 Negot. | 74| 544| 1,830| 4,320| 8,442|14,584|23,158|34,560| Price @ 11 Negot. | 72| 522| 1,755| 4,140| 8,091|13,977|22,194|33,120| Price @ 12 Negot. | 70| 500| 1,680| 3,960| 7,740|13,370|21,230|31,680| +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ LARGE PROGRAMS follow this size/price scheme: +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Program Level | L1 | L2 | L3 | L4 | L5 | L6 | L7 | L8 | +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Program Size | 4 | 16 | 36 | 64 | 100 | 144 | 196 | 256 | +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ Price @ 0-2 Negot. | 120| 960| 3,240| 7,680|15,000|25,920|41,160|61,440| Price @ 3 Negot. | 117| 930| 3,139| 7,440|14,532|25,110|39,874|59,520| Price @ 4 Negot. | 114| 900| 3,038| 7,200|14,064|24,300|38,588|57,600| Price @ 5 Negot. | 111| 870| 2,937| 6,960|13,596|23,490|37,302|55,680| Price @ 6 Negot. | 108| 840| 2,836| 6,720|13,128|22,680|36,016|53,760| Price @ 7 Negot. | 105| 810| 2,735| 6,480|12,660|21,870|34,730|51,840| Price @ 8 Negot. | 102| 780| 2,634| 6,240|12,192|21,060|33,444|49,920| Price @ 9 Negot. | 99| 750| 2,533| 6,000|11,724|20,250|32,158|48,000| Price @ 10 Negot. | 96| 720| 2,432| 5,760|11,256|19,440|30,872|46,080| Price @ 11 Negot. | 93| 690| 2,331| 5,520|10,788|18,630|29,586|44,160| Price @ 12 Negot. | 90| 660| 2,230| 5,280|10,320|17,820|28,300|42,240| +------+------+------+------+------+------+------+------+ For each entry, you'll see the name of the program, the program's description in the game, the program Type (as shown above), where it can be bought, and finally, my personal comments on the usefulness of the program, including a numerical rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most useful. ###ATTACK### Attack is used to destroy ("crash") IC. Attack becomes necessary when Masking fails. Type: Small Available: Crime Mall, Microtronics Usefulness: 9 Attack is mandatory for defeating hostile ice, which can be found on nearly every system. If you want to take a CPU of any kind, you'll need to rely on a strong Attack program. Here's some trivia for you: out of the 397 total Nodes in the game, 152 use either Barrier or BlackIce (the two ice types that must be destroyed using Attack), or both. That's about 38%, so you can expect to be forced to use Attack against more than one- third of the Nodes you come across. Make sure to have the highest version of this program that your deck can take before doing any decking. ###SLOW### Slow reduces the IC's reactions, delaying attacks and alerts. Slow does nothing against Trace IC. Type: Large Available: Crime Mall, Microtronics Usefulness: 3 Using Slow just, well, slows the ice down. It doesn't make it any weaker or damage it, it just makes its actions take longer. This is of marginal use against ice forms that can sound alerts or damage the Persona as time goes by, but once you've entered combat, you shouldn't waste any time messing around. This could have been a little more useful if the programmers would have allowed it to slow the movement of Trace-type probes across the screen -- but, alas, it has no such effect. Finally, if you use Slow enough to slow an ice down to its lowest speed, then just keep Slowing it, it will eventually be destroyed. I can't think of any use for this, since it takes much longer than old-fashioned attacking. Well, maybe if you just lost your Attack to a Tar Pit and you need to finish the run... but let's face it, after you lose Attack, your run is pretty much screwed no matter what. ###DEGRADE### Degrade attempts to lower a Node's Security Rating. Both the Node's & the IC's defenses become weakened. Type: Special Available: See notes below Usefulness: 6 This program is only available in two versions: a 36-Mp Level 3 version available from Wilma Temmenhoff for 3,000 nuyen, and a 144-Mp Level 6 version available from Kipp David for 30,000 nuyen. Technically, it's also available as a 64-Mp Level 4 version, but that's only if you use the debug cheat and use Test Deck. As far as the program itself, it can be pretty useful if you are in over your head and need to weaken the Node a little bit before attacking -- after one or two shots, you'll notice a significant difference. Then again, it won't save you a whole lot more time than if you had simply attacked all the way through. And of course it goes without saying that using Deception is better than entering combat in the first place. ###REBOUND### Rebound bounces attacks back at the attacker. Rebound weakens slowly with each interception. Type: Special Available: See notes below Usefulness: 2 This program is only available in two versions: a 27-Mp Level 3 version available from Wilma Temmenhoff for 3,000 nuyen, and a 108-Mp Level 6 version available from Kipp David for 30,000 nuyen. Technically, it's also available as a 48-Mp Level 4 version, but that's only if you use the debug cheat and use Test Deck. It's a largely useless program, too. Unless you have the highest version of the program and a seriously pumped-up deck, it won't work well enough to be worth the effort. And if your deck is that buff anyway, you won't need to run a goofy helper program such as Rebound. In typical usage, Rebound will deflect each attack back at the ice, but will usually break after only two or three deflections. It's basically a defensive program, but you usually don't need that much protection anyway, and it's not sturdy enough for it to be worth re-running each time it breaks. Just keep blasting with Attack and don't waste time on fluff like this. ###MEDIC### Medic repairs damage taken by the Persona. Seriously damaged Personas repair at a slower rate. Type: Large Available: Crime Mall, Microtronics Usefulness: 4 Medic is good at what it does, the problem is that what it does is rarely needed. If the program is a decent level, yeah, you'll be able to heal yourself up pretty well. But as long as you're not trying to hack a system that's way out of your league, you probably won't be in a situation where you would need to heal. Even high-level ice will miss most of the time against evenly-matched Personas, and when they do hit, they don't often cause any damage. Finally, just so you know, Medic is one of those programs that must reload -- not just refresh -- after each use. ###SHIELD### Shield reduces damage from most attacks. Each hit it degrades. Shield is useless against Black IC. Type: Large Available: Crime Mall, Microtronics Usefulness: 3 Pretty worthless if you use the stealth approach to decking. Even if you like to duke it out with each Node you come across, though, Shield is still pretty weak. As mentioned before, most attacks by ice are very inaccurate and weak, so you won't need that much protection anyway. Of course, the one ice type that is actually dangerous enough to warrant a little extra protection -- BlackIce -- will not be affected by Shield. Thanks, Sega. ###SMOKE### Smoke creates electronic chaos. ALL actions have added difficulty. Smoke degrades every 4 seconds. Type: Small Available: Crime Mall Usefulness: 1 Holy lord, this is one awful program. Just read the description -- every single thing that either you or the Node tries to do will probably fail. Wheee! How could this possibly help you?!? Well, there's a TINY upside to it -- see the next part, Matrix Strategies. Oh yeah, this is another program that must reload after each use. ###MIRRORS### Mirrors confounds IC and Deckers, decreasing their attack accuracy. Mirrors degrades every 4 seconds. Type: Medium Available: Crime Mall, Microtronics Usefulness: 2 Less retarded than Smoke, but still pretty retarded, Mirrors only makes attacks less accurate, instead of all actions. The problem is, if the Node has been tripped up and the ice is attacking you, what else can you do but run Attack? I mean, it's not like you can still try to run Deception while under attack from a hostile Node. In that case, Mirrors would be at least kind of useful, to help you dodge attacks while trying to crack the Node with Deception. But, that's not how things work, and the result is that the most you can get out of Mirrors is a few extra seconds to run non-attack programs like Medic and Analyze, which you probably don't need to run anyway. Finally, note that Mirrors is one of the three programs that must reload -- not just refresh -- after each use. ###SLEAZE### Sleaze allows the Persona to bypass the Node without affecting it in any manner. Type: Medium Available: Crime Mall, Microtronics Usefulness: 7 Assuming you have a higher-level version of the program, Sleaze can actually be pretty helpful. It's a non-combat program that will allow you past the Node if successful, no matter what type of ice is guarding it. In this respect, it's better than Deception, since you can even fool Barrier and BlackIce with Sleaze. However, there are two downsides. For one, it only allows you PAST the Node, not inside. So if you need to do something inside the Node (such as retrieving data from a DS or shutting off an alert from a CPU), you'll still have to beat the ice the old- fashioned way. The other drawback is that since the program doesn't actually defeat the ice so much as sneak around it, the ice will still be there if you revisit the Node, and you'll have to deal with it all over again. All in all, it's a pretty decent program, but don't hold back on a new version of Attack or Deception just to have Sleaze on your deck. It's not THAT great. ###DECEPTION### Deception creates passcodes to fool Access & Gray IC. Deception has no effect on Barrier or Black IC. Type: Small Available: Crime Mall Usefulness: 10 Deception is hands-down the most useful program in the game. First of all, one successful run will instantly kill the ice. Second, it will work against every ice type except for two (even Trace ice, which is great since it can take a dangerously long time to destroy some Trace ice via Attack, and also, you won't have to waste space and money buying Relocate). Finally, by using Deception as your first move every time, you will avoid a LOT of combat, greatly increasing your chances of staying on the system. If you read the notes on Attack, you'd see it mentioned that about a third of the Nodes in the game require Attack to kill. Well, that means the remaining two-thirds of all Nodes in the game can be defeated with Deception! That's really a great statistic, and I recommend giving first priority to upgrading your deck's Masking attribute and getting new versions of Deception whenever possible. ###RELOCATE### Relocate leads any Trace IC on a wild goose chase. If successful, the Trace ends immediately. Type: Small Available: Crime Mall Usefulness: 4 This one was hard to set a number on because it can be pretty useful in the right situation, but most of the time isn't necessary. For the record, Relocate will instantly defeat any Trace ice if successful. But, running Deception will have the same effect. So, Relocate is largely redundant. The only time when it's better than Deception is when you've tripped a Trace IC and it starts sending the Trace probe across the screen. At this point, you've entered combat, and Deception will no longer be able to be run. However, you can keep trying Relocate to the bitter end... though some would say that you might as well invest all that time in running Attack... ###ANALYZE### Analyze scans the Node and its IC for information. Multiple Analyzes may be required for hidden info. Type: Medium Available: Microtronics Usefulness: 3 I think this program would be more useful to people that aren't using this FAQ. As it is, nearly all the info that Analyze can give you about a particular Node and its ice can be found in the System List section of this FAQ (Section XII). Also, unless you have a monster system and the best version of the program available, it will take several scans to get all the information. One thing that Analyze can give you that this FAQ can't, however, is the little life bar that appears once you've scanned all the info available for a Node. It's kind of helpful knowing just how close to defeating the Node you are. The other thing that Analyze can tell you that this FAQ can't (well, technically, I could compile a list, but it would be the biggest waste of time ever known to man) is how successful your loaded programs will be against this particular Node. The vertical success bars next to each program icon will only give a reading if the Node and its ice is completely scanned. Kind of helpful, I guess, to have an estimate of how effective your programs will be, but is it going to influence your decision of which programs to run? Probably not. Overall, Analyze is kind of a waste of time. Tar Pit fodder at best (see Part 5).
This part is kind of an advanced version of the Matrix intro section, offering more information in much more detail about the ins and outs of Matrix running.
To review some basic information, there are six types of Nodes in the game: CPUs, DSs, IOPs, SANs, SMs, and SPUs. Each has a distinct function, and each is classified with a color (Blue, Green, Orange, Red) and a security rating (1 through 7). The color and rating of a Node determine its overall strength and power. It's hard to generate concrete evidence, but it appears that the colors represent different levels of power while the ratings represent varying degrees of power within each level. That is, the order of strengths, from weakest to strongest, is Blue (1-7), Green (1-7), Orange (1-7), Red (1-7) -- so that, for example, a Red 1 Node is slightly more powerful than an Orange 7. Again, this is the best theory I could come up with and while it appears to be correct, it's hard to say for sure.
Anyway, here's a list of each type of Node. Each list entry will have the following information: Node abbreviation, Node name, stats on how often you'll see the Node (expressed in a percentage of all Nodes that are of this type, then the average number you'll encounter on each system), the shape it takes on the system map, the shape it takes inside the actual system, my personal notes about the Node, and a list of the functions you can perform once inside, complete with explanations of each.
###CPU### Central Processing Unit Occurrence: 6.3% (1.0 per system) On Map: Hexagon with smaller concentric hexagon inside In Matrix: Hexagon-based polyhedron (technically, an octadecahedron - 18 sides) with three orbital rings Notes: Each system has one, and only one, CPU. It's the brain of the system, so it's naturally the most heavily guarded. Functions: Go To Node - Transports the user directly to any Node on the system without stopping at any Nodes along the way. Note that it's a one-way trip, and after you've been dropped off at your destination, you'll have to fight your way back through any unconquered Nodes. Cancel Alert - Resets the alert system, canceling both Passive and Active Alert status. Very handy... the only way that alerts can be canceled, too. Note also that when an alarm is going off inside a building, the corporation's matrix system will be on Active Alert as well. If you wanted to jack in at such a time and were able to make it inside the CPU, canceling the alert will end the alarm as well. Crash System - This crashes the system, ejecting you while crippling the CPU. It only really has two uses: Some Matrix runs will require that you crash a CPU -- but more importantly, if you crash a corp's CPU from inside the building, it will deactivate all cameras and maglocks. Pretty nice. ###DS### Datastore Occurrence: 30.7% (4.9 per system) On Map: Square In Matrix: Cube with a hole in one visible face and pairs of triangular studs on each of the other two visible faces Notes: These Nodes are where you'll get all your data to sell. The vast majority of Matrix runs also involve some kind of data transfer from within a particular DS. Functions: Leave Node - Leaves the Node to travel to one of the adjacent Nodes. Transfer Data - If you're on a Matrix run where you have to upload a file to this particular DS, Transfer Data will perform that function. Similarly, if you're on a run that requires you to retrieve a certain file from this DS, Transfer Data will do that as well. In all other situations, choosing this option will begin a search for random data files. The higher the decker's Computer attribute, the more likely you'll find something. If something is found, you'll be given the option of keeping the file on your deck. Pay attention to the file sizes, as you can only hold as many datafiles as can fit into your deck's free Storage. Regardless of the Storage limitations, though, your deck can only hold a maximum of five files at a time, period. Rarely (unless you've studied this guide and know where and when to find them), you'll download a file that has information that will help you in your quest. When this happens, the screen will tell you that you've found "an interesting file that you download to your notebook." After you jack out, be sure to check out your notebook for the new clue. Erase - This command's only purpose is if you're on a Matrix run to delete a file. Otherwise it's a waste of time, and one more chance for the system to catch you and set off an alert. ###IOP### Input/Output Port Occurrence: 16.3% (2.6 per system) On Map: Triangle In Matrix: Triangular pyramid with rounded bulges on each face Notes: These things are pretty useless. It may be worth noting, however, that IOPs (not SANs) are where you enter the system if you jack in from inside the corp building. Each terminal inside the building corresponds to a particular IOP, and generally speaking, terminals on higher floors with tighter security will lead to IOPs that are closer to the CPU. Functions: Leave Node - Leaves the Node to travel to one of the adjacent Nodes. Lockout - As near as I can tell, this does nothing. It SOUNDS like it does something, giving you the message and all, but I've never noticed anything different after locking out an IOP. ###SAN### System Access Node Occurrence: 6.3% (1.0 per system) On Map: Rectangle In Matrix: Rectangular computer chip with seven pins visible on the front face (kind of resembles the chips you would see on a SIMM for your PC) Notes: This is the first Node you will come to if you enter a system from a public terminal. SANs are generally very low security and will often be unguarded, even on high-end systems. Like the CPU, each system has one, and only one, SAN. Functions: Enter System - Leaves the Node to travel to one of the adjacent Nodes (same as Leave Node in other Nodes). ###SM### Slave Module Occurrence: 19.4% (3.1 per system) On Map: Circle In Matrix: Sphere with two sets of square notches around it Notes: These can be a little bit of a help from inside corp buildings: each corp system is guaranteed to have both a Maglocks SM and a Cameras SM. Shutting off the former will disable all cameras, while shutting off the latter will open all maglocked doors. Besides that, though, SMs don't really have any other purpose. Note also that shutting off an Alert Control SM has no effect on either Matrix alerts or corp building alarms. Bummer. Functions: Leave Node - Leaves the Node to travel to one of the adjacent Nodes. Turn Off Node - Takes the Node offline. As mentioned in the notes above, this only has two uses, and is largely for atmosphere, like the IOPs. ###SPU### Sub-Processor Unit Occurrence: 23.2% (3.7 per system) On Map: Hexagon In Matrix: Hexagon-based polyhedron (technically, an octadecahedron - 18 sides) Notes: These types of Nodes are basically only there for structure. SPUs usually don't serve any purpose but to be just another Node with ice that deckers have to get through in order to reach the juicy CPUs and DSs. You'll spend a lot of time going from SPU to SPU in your travels. Functions: Leave Node - Leaves the Node to travel to one of the adjacent Nodes.
IC, the abbreviation for Intrusion Countermeasures, is usually referred to as ice. In this game, there are several types of ice, each with its own behavior, characteristics, and weaknesses. Ice are ranked from 1 to 7 in terms of overall strength, but that rating is increased by 1 during Passive Alert, and by 2 during Active Alert. So, it is possible to have a level 9 ice, if only temporarily. The rating of the ice represents all of its stats: how powerful its attacks are, how hard it is to hit with Attack or crack with Deception and others, how often it attacks, et cetera.
Lower-end systems will have Nodes that use only one ice, or none at all. By the time you have worked your way to the big-time corp systems, though, almost all the Nodes you encounter will be guarded by two ice. For Nodes with two ice forms, which one you see will depend on the alert status.
What follows is a list of all the ice types and their characteristics. Occurrence is how often you'll come across the ice, followed by the percentage of all ice forms that are of that type. Graphic is a description of what the ice actually looks like. Combat is a description of what the ice does during combat, whether it be sending out probes, attacking the Persona, etc. Weak Against will tell you if the ice can be instantly defeated by using Deception and/or Relocate. Finally, Notes is any extra notes I have about the ice.
###ACCESS### Occurrence: Common (20.0%) Graphic: A square hatch with doors that repeatedly slide open and shut Combat: Access will send out one probe for each failed attempt of the Persona to run a program. Each probe that reaches the edge of the screen has a small chance of triggering an alert. Weak Against: Deception Notes: The most common form of ice, and one of the simplest. Almost never a real threat, even in combat. ###BARRIER### Occurrence: Common (15.9%) Graphic: A rotating three-spoked circular spark Combat: Barrier will send out one probe for each failed attempt of the Persona to run a program. Each probe that reaches the edge of the screen has a small chance of triggering an alert. Weak Against: None (must be attacked) Notes: The only ice form besides BlackIce that has to be attacked instead of destroyed via Deception. Kind of a pain, but the ice is generally pretty weak and doesn't often manage to set off any alerts. ###BLACKICE### Occurrence: Common (13.3%) Graphic: A dark form that changes color while morphs back and forth between a circle and a four-point star Combat: Will periodically launch attacks directly at the decker, damaging his or her Physical health instead of simply hurting the Persona. Weak Against: None (must be attacked) Notes: The game makes it seem like this is the absolute worst ice you will come across, but I think that's nonsense. It's a distant third behind the two Tar ices. The worst BlackIce can do is dump you from the system and knock you out. Big deal, that's what medkits and healing spells are for. Now, if a Tar Pit eats your level 8 Attack program, suddenly it's Active Alert and you have no way of attacking so your run is totally fragged, but even worse, you have to spend all those hundreds of thousands of nuyen to get back up to the program level that you had. ###BLASTER### Occurrence: Average (12.6%) Graphic: An orange and black explosion Combat: In combat, Blaster will periodically attack the Persona. Weak Against: Deception Notes: Really nothing to worry about. Even if you somehow screwed up trying to run Deception and entered combat, it would take ten years for the average Blaster to knock a decent decker off the system. Blaster will often hide behind Barrier or (less often) Access. ###KILLER### Occurrence: Average (10.2%) Graphic: Blue-gray sphere with electrical current circling around it Combat: In combat, Killer will periodically attack the Persona. Weak Against: Deception Notes: This thing behaves exactly like Blaster. What's the difference? I'm not sure, but I think that Killer is slightly more advanced. Once provoked, it seems to attack more often. That still doesn't make it much of a threat. Also, it seems to have a preference for hiding behind Access, whereas the opposite is true for Blaster. Still, that's not much of a difference. ###TAR PAPER### Occurrence: Rare (6.7%) Graphic: Brownish goo (tar, I guess) teeming and bubbling Combat: When triggered by a run failure, Tar Paper will erase the program the Persona was trying to run from memory only, not from the deck entirely. Weak Against: (not applicable) Notes: When you get hit by Tar Paper, you'll still have the program on your deck, it will just have to be reloaded -- not a big deal. The more annoying aspect of Tar Paper is that, like its cousin Tar Pit, Tar Paper will also immediately go to Active Alert upon activation, before disappearing. A real pain to come across. Also like Tar Pit, Tar Paper will always be found hiding behind another ice of almost any kind. ###TAR PIT### Occurrence: Average (8.9%) Graphic: An orange circle with tar bubbling inside of it Combat: When triggered by a run failure, Tar Pit will PERMANENTLY erase the program that the Persona was trying to run, immediately switch to Active Alert, and then disappear. Weak Against: (not applicable) Notes: The biggest pain in the ass in the entire game, I'd say. This thing is the reason you should save before entering any mid- to high-end system. Tar Pit (and its slightly less harmful cousin, Tar Paper) always occurs hiding behind another form of ice -- any form, except for Trace ice and, of course, another Tar ice. As soon as you fail in the presence of Tar Pit, it will work its magic and leave you with a seriously crippled program lineup. ###TRACE & BURN### Occurrence: Rare (6.4%) Graphic: A dark cylindrical base with a spherical probe topped with a flame Combat: When combat begins, Trace & Burn will send its probe slowly across the screen. If it reaches the edge of the screen, the Persona will be dumped from the system and the deck's MPCP may be damaged. Weak Against: Deception and Relocate Notes: This ice can actually be a pain in lower levels, when you may not be able to destroy the ice in time to keep the probe from reaching the edge and dumping you. After you have some good hardware and software, and after your decker has gained some experience, though, they will be much less of a threat. Remember, if you get dumped by Trace & Burn, your deck will probably be fried and you won't be able to jack in again until you've taken it to a computer shop for MPCP repairs. ###TRACE & DUMP### Occurrence: Rare (5.9%) Graphic: A dark cylindrical base with a spherical probe topped with a plume of smoke Combat: When combat begins, Trace & Dump will send its probe slowly across the screen. If it reaches the edge of the screen, the Persona will be dumped from the system. Weak Against: Deception and Relocate Notes: Not that much of a hassle, unless you're in the early levels. If your decker and/or deck is underpowered, you may find yourself getting dumped by this ice quite often, since it can be hard to get in enough hits to destroy the ice before the probe gets to the edge. Kind of frustrating when it's like that, but after you start upgrading, Trace & Dumps won't be a nuisance at all.
There isn't a whole lot about Matrix systems that hasn't been covered in the preceding subsections, but here goes:
First of all, it's helpful to keep in mind that SPUs are used as the 'backbone' of many systems. If you're not using the maps provided, a good way to find the CPU is to follow the SPUs. Nodes such as IOPs, DSs and SMs are sometimes used to connect different parts of the system to one another, but not often. If you want to fully explore the system in as little time as possible, just hop from SPU to SPU until you see the Node you're looking for.
Although this FAQ doesn't recommend running a variety of programs, there will be those who want to use more than just Attack and Deception, for one reason or another. For these people, I suggest you not forget the importance of the time when you first arrive at a Node. Until you enter combat by either failing a program run or attacking, you can use Medic to heal up, equip a Shield, run Analyze, just about anything. Don't waste time by doing these things after combat has begun. Get them out of the way while you have all the time you need.
This was briefly mentioned in the beginning info on the Matrix section (Section II, Part 4), but it's pretty handy, so I thought I should clarify here. Suppose you enter a system for whatever reason. You do what you need to do and jack out. Afterward, you return to exactly the same system without visiting any other system in between. When you come back, you'll notice that the system map is the same as it was when you left—you don't have to start from scratch. Also, all Nodes that you defeated the first time around will be color-coded on the map and fully identified when you travel to them. Of course, you'll still have to battle the ice and everything, but it's kind of nice to have a Node fully identified without having to run Analyze a bunch of times.
If you've gotten into combat with Access or Barrier and want to keep the ice's probes from triggering any alerts (this won't happen often if your Persona is generally evenly matched with the Node and its ice, but against powerful Nodes, it's definitely something to worry about), you should know that if the ice gets hit, it cancels the probe. So, time your attacks so that the ice is hit while the probe is going across, and it will disappear. For this purpose, you should know that the light attack is the "quickest" attack: it takes the shortest amount of time to get to the target once it is fired. The hard and medium attacks take slightly longer.
Here are just a few miscellaneous notes and strategies for decking that didn't fit in anywhere else.
- One way to get around Nodes with Tar Pit is to store copies of low-level programs on your deck. When you come to the Node with Tar Pit, run the low- level program a few times until it fails and gets eaten by the ice. Yes, this will kick the system up to Active Alert, but on the other hand, Tar Pit will be gone and all of your important programs will be intact. If you don't mind the tradeoff, this is a good way to guarantee that you won't lose your expensive high-end programs. Level 1 programs are very cheap and can be replaced easily, before each time you go into the Matrix. If your deck and decker are both very advanced and you're having trouble getting a program to fail, just use Smoke which, if it doesn't fail itself, will almost certainly make the next program you try to run fail.
- Another use of Tar Pit and the Smoke program is if you have a program that you want to get rid of because it's unused, or just to save space. Since there is no way to delete programs from your deck, you have to rely on Tar Pits when you want to get rid of one. It's kind of a pain, but at least it works. Find a Tar Pit, run Smoke (if it'll help) and then run the unwanted program until it fails. Let me stress it again: Yes, this is the ONLY way you can delete programs from your deck. Sorry.
- Data selling can be the most efficient way to make money in the game—if you're prepared for it. You simply can't just jump in and start doing it. The most significant upgrade you need to make before trying to sell data is your decker's Computer attribute. This has three extremely important effects that relate to stealing and selling data:
- A high Computer rating will make all programs you run more effective. This means fewer failures, so less combat... and even in combat, a high Computer rating will increase each attack's damage and accuracy.
- As your Computer rating increases, it will take less effort to find a datafile when searching a DS. If you try to search a DS with a low Computer rating, you'll probably only find one file every 5 tries or so. It's a very inefficient way of doing things, even more so when you consider the last point:
- The lower your Computer rating, the more frequently your actions will be detected by the system. I would say that the #1 reason most people have unsuccessful data runs is that they trip up the system too many times and get booted before they have a full load. By the time your Computer rating is up to 10 or 12, you'll almost never get caught inside a Node.
So, if you're getting frustrated because your data-selling scheme isn't proving to be as lucrative as you thought, you should take a look at your decker's Computer attribute. I would say that a 5 or 6 is the minimum requirement for consistently successful runs—then again, it all depends on your programs and equipment.
- Don't forget that the Combat skill is just as important in cyberspace as in the real world. If your attacks are always missing, consider upgrading your decker's Combat skill. You should notice a difference.
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