Anarchy House Rule: Matrix Hosts
House rules for running Hosts in Shadowrun: Anarchy.
The Core Rulebook of Shadowrun: Anarchy does not touch much on how to handle Hosts. The word "host" is not even printed in the Rules of the Street chapter. Those players coming from SR5 might be confused about how to handle such an important part of the Matrix. Those players new to the setting may not even know that they exist. Here are some house rules on handling Hosts, Overwatch, IC, and dumpshock:
For those new to Shadowrun, hosts are self-enclosed virtual-reality spaces that are run by the corps (or those who can afford them); they exist on the cloud, you need permission to access them, they are patrolled by Intrusion Countermeasures (IC), and are used to protect files and devices that are important to the corp. For those not new to Shadowrun, hosts are nothing like that at all; they are actually quasi-paranormal, virtual-dimensions run on a Foundation that literally nobody understands…
Let’s use the first definition and start from there.
HOSTS AND MARKS
A Host has only one attribute: its Difficulty. A host’s Difficulty is simply its opposing dice pool for Hacking Tests. A Stuffer Shack host might have a Difficulty of Easy (6), while a Renraku data farm might have a Difficulty of Hard (10) or more.
Hosts also have Host Levels to them. A Host Level is not an attribute but a measure of how deep into the host you are. There are three Host Levels: User (Host Level 1), Security (Host Level 2), and Admin (Host Level 3). To access Host Level 1, you need to be in VR and have one mark on the host; two marks for Host Level 2; three marks for Host Level 3. Accessing User Level might allow the use of non-security doors/devices or unsecured files/communications; Security Level might allow the for access to security doors/cameras/alarms or secure files/communications; Admin Level allows for access to the most secure files and the ability to make changes to the host (like making “backdoors”).
Having access to a host gives you access to a network of devices and files. You can hack an individual camera in AR or VR, but if you want access to ALL the cameras at once, you need to be in the host.
Diving into a host is not safe. There are Patrol IC, Killer IC, and Security Spiders who all want you out or dead. But they cannot be everywhere at all times and the hacker exploits this by keeping a low profile. To simulate the host’s alert status, we have Overwatch.
At the end of each Narration inside a host, roll for Overwatch. Rolling for Overwatch is like rolling a Glitch die with no Exploits. Roll one Glitch Die for Host Level 1, roll two for Host Level 2, or roll three for Host Level 3. If any of the Overwatch dice come up 1, then some sort of Matrix security shows up. The deeper you go, the more likely IC is patrolling.
Program Shadow Amps or complex form Shadow Amps (like Cleaner or Tattle Tale) may affect how many Overwatch dice are rolled. You could also spend a Plot Point on Malfunction to avoid rolling Overwatch for a Narration.
Intrusion Countermeasures are the soulless, autonomous programs that guard a host. They show up when your Overwatch roll Glitches (or if you Live Dangerously and Glitch). IC can also show up if someone spends a Plot Point on Surprise Threat!
Just because Patrol IC shows up, doesn’t mean it spots you. You could make a Stealth Test to remain hidden, make a Disguise Test to look like an innocuous icon, or just Data Spike the IC into oblivion. If Patrol IC spots you, you roll +1 Overwatch as it tries to call in its IC buddies. More Overwatch Glitches mean more IC and if one IC spots you, they all spot you.
What shows up is determined by how combative the corporation is toward intruders, but there is usually some escalation of threat. A typical response might be: Patrol IC, White IC, Trace IC, Grey IC, Black IC. Security Spiders may also respond. The threat escalates more quickly in more secure hosts.
Getting kicked out of the Matrix while in VR is jarring and disorientating. If your Matrix CM (or Stun CM for technomancers) is filled while in VR, you are immediately dumped from the Matrix and take a -1 to all Tests for 2 Narrations.