by Mike Mulvihill
The Matrix is the advanced book for deckers and other users of the Matrix, and is full of options and expansions for the Shadowrun game system. The Matrix expands on the decking and Matrix rules that are presented in Shadowrun, Third Edition. It also offers an entirely new take on what non-deckers can do using the Matrix - including basic and advanced information searches.
In addition to containing a significant percentage of new material, The Matrix represents a compilation of material originally published in various Shadowrun books that are now out of print or that were based on previous editions of the Shadowrun rules. This includes material from Virtual Realties, Virtual Realities 2.0, Renraku Arcology: Shutdown, Brainscan, Shadowbeat, Neo-Anarchist's Guide to Real Life, and Denver. Any references in this book to the Shadowrun rules refers to Shadowrun, Third Edition.
The Matrix begins with The Matrix World, where we present how the Matrix factors into everyday life as well as its history.
The Computer Interface deals with the cyberterminal, the machine element of Matrix use. This chapter breaks down the cyberterminal and its properties, from the MPCP to reality filters to Response Increase.
All of the attributes, skills, edges, flaws and dice pools important to a Matrix-using character, whether a decker or a non-decker, are discussed in The Matrix User. This chapter also includes new active and knowledge skills, a new Matrix Addiction Flaw and ways that Matrix users can be incorporated into gameplay.
Accessing the Matrix goes over the various ways to get online, from illegal jackpoints to wireless links. It also covers the accounts and passcodes Matrix users use to get online, and all the ways deckers use to access the Matrix illegally. Tortoise mode, visibility and sensors and iconography are also presented.
Grids and Hosts covers the architecture of the Matrix, from its technical aspects to the ways it is used. Satellite constellations, ultraviolet hosts and paydata are also detailed.
Cyberterminal Construction breaks down how to modify or create from scratch a cyberterminal or cyberdeck. Rules for upgrading, hardwiring and customizing a deck are included, as are rules for cyberlimb and cranial cyberterminal construction.
Utilities are the programs used to operate, attack and defend in the Matrix. This chapter includes a host of new utilities as well as advanced rules for utilities presented in SR3.
Programming provides all the information a player needs to create a program, including utilities, command sets and frames and agents (programs that have a degree of independence from the user). Options that modify how a program functions are also detailed for both utilities and intrusion countermeasures.
System Operations are how Matrix users take action in the Matrix. New operations are presented here, as well as advanced rules for operations presented in SR3.
As the deckers get better, so do the defenses. Intrusion Countermeasures covers the newest IC and options for dealing with it. The Matrix Security chapter that follows shows how to use this IC in a system with an in-depth breakdown of the security sheaf and random IC generation tables. Also included are special rules for grid security and host shutdowns.
System Tricks takes it all a step further, showing what grids, hosts and deckers can do to stay ahead of the competition-from comcall traces, chokepoints and virtual machines to improvised attacks, rerouting comcalls and spoofing frame commands.
One of the most underused aspects of the Matrix is the ability to gather information. The Information Searches chapter shows how both deckers and regular Matrix users can take advantage of this facet of the Matrix, including using Matrix contacts as well as searching databases and archives, using either Etiquette (Matrix) or Computer skill.
The chapter on the Otaku brings this player character type up to date, using the rules for SR3. Autonomous Programs breaks down the powerful Matrix entities that may or may not actually be alive: knowbots and artificial intelligences. Updated information on the three AIs known in the world of Shadowrun are included.
Finally, all the grid providers, deck-makers, Matrix-security experts, gridhounds and other power players are given their due in the chapter Matrix Players.
A number of useful tables are also included in the back, breaking down all of the gear, operations, utilities and IC. Record sheets are also included for a character's cyberdeck and programs, an otaku's living persona and abilities, or a character's frame or sprite.