Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast

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HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
If you want to make your Mesh actions super-effective, run beta forks of your hacker on Ghostrider Modules. If possible, have the hacker take a trio of Ghostrider Modules so he can get the maximum of +30 from teamwork, but you can also distribute the network by placing the Ghostriders in multiple team members. Make sure that the hacker has psychosurgery so that the beta forks can get the teamwork bonus on the Merging tests too (reintigrate them one at a time)!
Admini Admini's picture
Damn that's hot.

Damn that's hot.
ThinkWriteMute ThinkWriteMute's picture
The other side is equally

The other side is equally well equipped with this ability, too though.

If they've got something worth hacking (and not blowing the hell up, remember there aren't any police floating around in space), then they're probably equipped at the very least to hire 1 Ego that can beta fork himself into oblivion.

You can do it three times, his three times multiplied in to a 100.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Teamwork maxes out at +30, so

Teamwork maxes out at +30, so having more than three helpers doesn't do much for any given task. Now you can certainly run multiple teams on a server with each banding together groups of four forks, but since there isn't really any rule to limit how many infomorphs (including forks) can occupy servers, we rapidly approach the possibility of infinite copies on every server. That get's brokenly dumb quick.

Matrix Matrix's picture
Thoughts of an affected player

Usefulness aside, as the player with the hacker character in his group, I find the idea deeply disturbing. The "Just let me shoot myself." kind of disturbing.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player

Which part do you find disturbing? I hope it's not the basic idea of forking yourself so that alpha you and beta you I and beta you II and beta you III can work on a problem together. That seems to be one of the most basic functions of forking. The only thing that should be disturbing is the fact that the rules don't prevent infinite copies on servers. That seems like something that should have been blocked in the efforts to prevent seed AIs.

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player

Perhaps it is, but by the GM and the setting. Firewall might not appreciate someone doing such things.

-
HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player
Let's not try to have a GM fiat solution. Unless I overlooked something (quite possible), there's currently nothing to stop someone from running infinite copies on a server to accomplish whatever they need and then delete them when the job is finished. Firewall can cry in the corner, but if the tech itself is not limited to prevent this, it will be present. It would be better if servers were configured to NOT run AI/Egos/Informorphs directly. These would be run on connected peripherals (biobrains [transhuman egos only], cyberbrains, mesh insets/ectos [AI/deltas only], ghostriders, etc.) rather than on the server itself. This means that those servers that run hundreds of infomorphs would have hundreds of attached ghostrider modules (or the equivalent), but each is it's own subsystem and the infinite copies problem is now much more limited by the hardware. It's certainly not a perfect solution, and I'm sure that some other ideas merged into this one can come up with a better solution.
Tearlach Tearlach's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player

No computer have infinite processing power, so you can quite readily rule as a GM that no, you can't run that many forks on this server.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player

Sure, but how many is too many? Do you allow them to run two? How about five? How about twenty? The servers are supposed to be able to support vast numbers of infomorphs, so a handful of forks should hardly be a problem.

Where the difficulty in making the call comes is with a limit that allows for an effective DoS just by "forking-up" the server to the maximum. If we assume that there is a limit then this will occur - either the guy already on the server pulls this trick to keep intruders out or the guy breaking in does it the moment he gets in the system thus blocking out anyone else from opposing him.

If the egos/forks/AI each had to be run on their own hardware then the DoS doesn't appear - the server becomes a 'shared space' for everyone to interact but the limits on forks is all based upon BYOH (bring your own hardware).

Matrix Matrix's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player
HappyDaze wrote:
Which part do you find disturbing?
The one where there are half a dozen copies of myself running around for the entire campaign. Take a look at the fork merging table. Consider that a campaign may very well last longer than a week of IC time. Unless forks are regularly merged with the primary ego, you're risking a ton of mental stress when you're finally done. Even with regular merging, you'll have psychosurgery roll failures.
HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player

Of course I've looked at the Merging rules, and I know that there is the possibility of some SV, but there are ways around this.

The first and most common way is to always remerge after no more than 4 hours (with a cyberbrain, merging takes only 3 seconds to complete). This gives you a +20 to the Merging test, and the teamwork from the rest of your forks will grant up to another +30. There's also the ability to 'take the time' to get further bonuses to your test, and you can do this more and more as you Merge forks and lose your Teamwork bonus a bit at a time. If you have a Psychosurgery skill rated at 40+, you should be fine spending a few minutes every 4 hours on this sort of housekeeping.

And there is always the possibility that you simply don't merge with the betas - you just delete them off of your Ghostrider Modules when you're finished with them. It's not like you need their memories - they were only helping with what you were already doing.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player
Matrix wrote:
Usefulness aside, as the player with the hacker character in his group
I just reread this part. For clairity, are you saying that you're in my gaming group playing the hacker?
Matrix Matrix's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player

Hm. I guess you have a point there. Serves me right for being at the receiving end of an intensive anti-smoking/anti-alcohol/anti-drugs campaign for the vast majority of my life. When I read 'Transhumans view forking a bit like (...) drinking and drug use' I must have gotten a slightly different image than most people would (and tried to defend it, unsurprisingly). Anyway, touche, point taken, etc.

Matrix Matrix's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player
HappyDaze wrote:
Matrix wrote:
Usefulness aside, as the player with the hacker character in his group
I just reread this part. For clairity, are you saying that you're in my gaming group playing the hacker?
Okay, that was apparently very bad grammar. What I meant to say was that I play the hacker in my group, not yours.
HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Thoughts of an affected player

OK. Just checking. We do have another PC hacker in my group, and since I haven't seen anyone else from my group on these boards, I had to ask.

Moon-Hawk Moon-Hawk's picture
Reduced teamwork bonus for fresh forks?

What about this as an idea? If you make a fresh fork of yourself, that's great for going off and doing some other task at the same time. But when a fresh copy of you is trying to help with a completely mental action, how much are they really bringing to the party? They don't know anything that you don't, they don't have any different perspective, or tactics. They're completely redundant. Yes, having two of you could hammer on a keyboard twice as fast and try twice as many attacks at once, but maybe that's not actually the limiting factor of hacking in EP. If the limiting factor is based more on creativity or something then having an exact duplicate really isn't going to help, your forks are all going to come up with the same ideas that you do, in pretty much the same order.
A GM faced with this problem might rule that fresh forks don't provide teamwork bonuses to purely mental (such as mesh) actions. (Note: This has no effect on the multitasking implant, since those forks aren't helping with one task, they're doing other tasks.) By the time a fork has diverged enough from the original to have a unique perspective and provide a teamwork bonus, it's really starting to diverge enough from the original that the GM should be considering it an NPC, and it needs to be merged, destroyed, or you have a new NPC with independent desires to deal with.
I'm not saying this is how it has to be, but if a GM were having problems with fork armies, this might be a reasonable way to get the game back on track.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Reduced teamwork bonus for fresh forks?

EP doesn't even require the helpers to be trained in the skill used for the test - they just need to be following the directions of the lead character to give a Teamwork bonus. This would tend to break an argument that creativity and independent though are important to the Teamwork bonus.

Moon-Hawk Moon-Hawk's picture
Re: Reduced teamwork bonus for fresh forks?

[quote=HappyDaze]EP doesn't even require the helpers to be trained in the skill used for the test - they just need to be following the directions of the lead character to give a Teamwork bonus. This would tend to break an argument that creativity and independent though are important to the Teamwork bonus.[/quote]

Agreed. Perhaps I was unclear in my motivations. I wasn't trying to find a by-the-book solution, or even a 100% iron-clad logical one. I was trying to find a solution that would let the game continue to work.

Remember, even an "untrained" character in EP is familiar with computers. If you were trying to get a teamwork test from an incompetent character then I'd probably say no (even though I know of no rule to that specific effect) An "untrained" character is simply an average computer user, but hardly a brain damaged chimpanzee. (non-uplifted, of course. They may actually be a brain damaged uplifted chimpanzee) So they still have something to contribute. I maintain that the creativity-for-purely-mental-actions approach is less than complete nonsense, and might help kill an undesired issue.

I'm certainly not claiming that the way I'm suggesting is the way it SHOULD be done, but if armies of hacker forks are breaking your game, it's the best solution to getting the game back on track that I've seen so far. (IMO and YMMV and all that)

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Reduced teamwork bonus for fresh forks?

The problem with that approach is that it makes the use of small units of forks - something that should be a viable tactic - toally useless. The only broken aspect comes on servers where the hardware is effectively near-infinite and there is no restriction on having a near-infintite amount of forks. Rather than making forking useless, the important step is to limit the number of egos that a server can run without making it possible to to perform easy DoS attacks. The only solution I can think of offhand is the BYOH one I noted previously.

Zach Zach's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast

OK there is a simple solution for all of this.

There is a finite amount of infomorphs that a server can run at one time. And it's not memory but processing power that's the limiting power.

The amount of processing power required to run a sentient being, or even a good AI (good enough to help PCs with stuff), is pretty huge even by futuristic standards.

So now we say that there are two types of servers out there.

1. The El Cheapo servers that player characters can get their hands on.

OK so the party buys a ship or whatever and it has a server in it. This server can run a decent sized Sim Space and it has enough processing power to run say 5 infomorphs. Any number of physical world people can log in whenever they want because their egos are running on their brains and not the server. And we can fit a party member or two who is an infomorph on the ship's server comfortably. And the player characters aren't going to be copy pasting themselves all over the place.

2. Large habitat servers meant for colonies of infomorphs.

These servers are probably server clusters that take up cubic kilometers of space on the inside of hollowed out asteroids or floating round on giant barge ships. They are bought by hypercorps with trillions of credits, or pieced together by cities worth of infugees pooling their bank accounts.

These servers have a finite amount of infomorphs that they can hold in the same way that Denver has a finite amount of apartments in it. The number is fixed but still large enough that it probably won't effect the players' lives much.

So in these areas you could probably start forking yourself millions of times over. For at least 5 minutes anyway until local law enforcement gets wind of what you are doing. At best they'll fine you for being a public nuisance. And at worst flashing red lights and Seed AI warnings will start going off and they will format C: the section of the station you happened to be in at the time.

I could really see infomorph colonies displaying giant "NO FORKING" signs as you log into the colony.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
Zach wrote:
OK there is a simple solution for all of this. There is a finite amount of infomorphs that a server can run at one time. And it's not memory but processing power that's the limiting power. The amount of processing power required to run a sentient being, or even a good AI (good enough to help PCs with stuff), is pretty huge even by futuristic standards.
Sure. I agree with all of that.
Zach wrote:
So now we say that there are two types of servers out there. 1. The El Cheapo servers that player characters can get their hands on. OK so the party buys a ship or whatever and it has a server in it. This server can run a decent sized Sim Space and it has enough processing power to run say 5 infomorphs. Any number of physical world people can log in whenever they want because their egos are running on their brains and not the server. And we can fit a party member or two who is an infomorph on the ship's server comfortably. And the player characters aren't going to be copy pasting themselves all over the place.
This is the kind of thing I was suggesting with my BYOH idea. However, simply saying that you won't have players - or NPCs - copy pasting does nothing to stop it from happening. If there's processing room on the server, someone will use it.
Zach wrote:
2. Large habitat servers meant for colonies of infomorphs. These servers are probably server clusters that take up cubic kilometers of space on the inside of hollowed out asteroids or floating round on giant barge ships. They are bought by hypercorps with trillions of credits, or pieced together by cities worth of infugees pooling their bank accounts. These servers have a finite amount of infomorphs that they can hold in the same way that Denver has a finite amount of apartments in it. The number is fixed but still large enough that it probably won't effect the players' lives much. So in these areas you could probably start forking yourself millions of times over. For at least 5 minutes anyway until local law enforcement gets wind of what you are doing. At best they'll fine you for being a public nuisance. And at worst flashing red lights and Seed AI warnings will start going off and they will format C: the section of the station you happened to be in at the time. I could really see infomorph colonies displaying giant "NO FORKING" signs as you log into the colony.
They give an example in the gazetteer about an infomorph colony and the servers are only 20 meters or so across, so the cubic kilometers bit is a bit much. Also, in the outer system where the new economy is king, you'll only need to put the right resources into a nanofabricator, input the blueprint, and then you'll either get the finished product or the major components which you then assemble into the finished product. Since the materials for making computers are not exotic, and the blueprints for servers are almost certainly open source, servers shouldn't be all that exclusive.
Zach Zach's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast

Yeah I guess it just cracks down on infinite forking. And forking is a part of the game, it gets a nice chunk of the mechanics section of the book. I guess as a GM I am ok with a player having 2-3 forks rather than a trillion.

[quote=HappyDaze]Since the materials for making computers are not exotic[/quote]

Well yes and no.

Increased demand can make scarcity.

OK so lets look at the kind of super computers you use to run infomorphs on. These computers probably require advanced superconductors or semiconductors, which themselves are probably made out of some material that 50 years ago was a bit rare but not too terribly hard to find. Like gold for example which is actually in most electronics nowadays.

Now skip ahead to the Eclipse Phase present day where everyone and their dog wants supercomputers. There might actually be a lot of this semiconducting material (gold whatever) present in the solar system right now. But most of it is probably tied up in Habitats, ships, hypercorp projects, or just in some rich guy's warehouse somewhere as a rainy day fund.

So while the materials for making computers might not have originally been exotic they might be now due to people's over-consumption.

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
I agree that infinite forking is a problem, and I too want the 'handful of forks' to be a workable feature of the game. Without hard rules for it (yet - suppliments tended to add numerous features to SR, and EP may be no different), perhaps a bit of GM fiat is a fine control.
Zach wrote:
Increased demand can make scarcity.
True. Since everyone wants to make servers (potentially) there may not be enough of the material at any given moment for everyone to order up their McServer and fries. There will be enough material for infinite servers over infinite time, and if you've got infinite time it's no problem at all... However, if you need to move yourself up the priority list and get something in a reasonable period of time, that's why you have the Networking skill.
morolen morolen's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
Our solution to these problems, or a similar problem we had with forking was this, dont let forking be a quick process, make it take some time so you cant do it on the fly, rather it takes some planning if you want multiple forks of yourself for some reason. Secondly we have removed beta and delta forks wholesale from the game, only alphas and gammas, so, sure you can get your one man army on but those other souls of your might not be as obiedient as you had hoped to say nothing of the security risk if one of your alphas gets compromised in some way.
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
When it comes to forks and servers, I'd pick some number (actually, I'd pick 100) and say that's how many egos a single server rack can run if it does nothing else. Most servers, at least ones the PC's want to hack, will have other things to do. Just like today there's a tradeoff to be had between how much work you want to get done and how secure you want it to be. Based on that, most of my baddies would have a firewall server running full tilt security. After taking into account ICE programs, traffic analysis etc etc there would probably be about 40 egos worth of security in groups of 4. Of course you have to pay those guys for their work. If they're infomorphs you have to pay them the same as you would someone with similar speed enhancements since they can do triple the work. Once you start (gasp) paying people, they start getting morphs and asking for other stupid things like time off for meals and sleep, which drives the hourly rate for security higher. Not such a consideration if you have enslaved alpha forks but if you're the least bit ethical it becomes a cost/benefit problem well before it becomes a problem of computational power. As for the scary hacker who forks himself into every party member's ghostrider. . . yeah, that would make me nervous. Firewall says "hey, we're sending a superhacker with you. Stick this in your head so he can directly access your brain. Its cool, you can trust him." What exactly is not to be scared of?
jiyunatori jiyunatori's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
As a GM, I would handle this by saying that the interest of teamwork on a problem solving task is to have different insights on the same problem. And you won't have that by forking yourself on the fly.
fodigg fodigg's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
My initial thoughts are: - Processing concerns: You're going to eat up resources quickly doing this, which would provide the upward ceiling for how many forks you can run, but more importantly leads to-- - Security concerns: After a few forks you're sucking enough resources to be noticed, which brings down the law on your head either gently if you're just being a resource hog or firmly if you're up to no good. Also, if you're running any sensitive data past your forks, and those forks are being run on open mesh-space, that's not secure. - Management issues: There's only so much benefit from forking yourself because you have the same insights/abiliites. Sure, with any problem you can divvy up tasks to a certain point, but beyond that point you're just running the same "program" simultaneously with no benefit. It'll take the same amount of time and produce the same result with the only difference being that you're doing it a hoggish, unsecure manner. Beyond a certain number of forks, you'd have to start forking yourself to try and come up with things for the other forks to work on, and the whole system becomes more trouble than it's worth. I'd say that the nature of the problem determines the "ceiling" on this sort of self-help. If the problem is all mindless busy work, then yeah you can do that pretty well, but is it worth it? To simulate this I'd simply ask the player to break the problem into tasks they can think of, and call that the ceiling.
-fo diggity
It that must no... It that must not be named's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
There was a TV series called "red dwarf" years ago that was a good SF comedy, but it had some trasnhuman elements in it bevore the term transhuman caught on. One of the characters was an AL copy of a dead crewman named Arnold Rimmer, and in one ep he managed to create a duplicate of himself (The ep was called "ME2) and in it even his duplicate ended up hating him and the two became bitter enemies. That might be a funny solution to the problem. Another solution I'd go for is to simply limit the number of copies that can help in a mental task, as they really don't bring much to the table. Yes I know that in the RAW helpers can aid in a task even without knowing the skills, but in the example given, fixing an object, they were mostly holding tools or holding the light, I'd imagine. In physical terms I can see unskilled helpers aiding, if by nothing else than in a kind of "Hold that wire there while I solder it..." fashion. But in a mental task they might not be as useful, ans I don't see how unskilled helpers aid in a mental task all that much. Since forks are just lesser versions of yourself, they may be of some but limited use. Also, trying to hack a system might entail problems in that it might be defended by a multiple AI that was actually composed of more than one system but integrated together to work together. Does the name "Cerberus" give you any idea of what I'm talking about? Something like that might get a bonus of it's own and be harder to hack. At any rate, limiting even an infinite number of forks to a +30 bonus should work. I'd say that forking should be divided between mental and physical tasks and have slightly different rules for both. An example would be a great soldier. OK, we make a bazillion forks of this guy and give each one a combat morph, and he's now an army that can fight because each physical morph has full combat ability and the skill to use it. Likewise forking an engineer a few times and having each fork help repair a damaged ship could work great because each one works on a separate area and gets more physical labor done faster. But a mental task is a little different, adding more copies of a mind trying to hack something won't be as helpful as adding more skilled bodies and guns to a battle. Also, there are cases where you end up in a "I can go this way or that way.." type of situation. What happens if one fork decided to go left and the other goes right? Would they end up fighting each other? That could get messy. As a final example, think of an army. The more soldiers an army has the better, usually, but does an army get better if we add more and more generals to it? Taking a great soldier and making forks of him may be great, but if we fork a general does it add as much? Sure, we could make the forks into lower officers, but do they add as much as having other, still competent and skilled people, fill those roles? I'd say that the forked general as all the commanding officers would maybe have some advantages but also tend to make the overall army more predictable and susceptible to the original general's flaws, biases, etc.

"I learned the hard way that if you take a stand on any issue, no matter how insignificant, people will line up around the block to kick your ass over it." -Jesse "the mind" Ventura.

Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: Teamwork and mesh can get silly fast
It that must not be named wrote:
Another solution I'd go for is to simply limit the number of copies that can help in a mental task, as they really don't bring much to the table. Yes I know that in the RAW helpers can aid in a task even without knowing the skills, but in the example given, fixing an object, they were mostly holding tools or holding the light, I'd imagine. In physical terms I can see unskilled helpers aiding, if by nothing else than in a kind of "Hold that wire there while I solder it..." fashion.
Well, +30 is the maximum teamwork bonus. So your infinite forks would have to split into infinite groups of four. With mental tasks, though, it depends entirely on what you're doing. I can see fork teamwork doing just fine for programming and engineering. Basically one guy does the bulk of the work and the forks proofread and/or write out subroutines. Same thing for hacking, where having brains running four different programs to look for exploits speeds up the process and hits server security from several directions at once. So the good news is, server capacity available, everyone but those poor Jovian flats gets +30 teamwork bonuses on their big design projects. I'll restrict the following to Beta forks on the theory that they are the only kind capable of leading a teamwork action. Delta forks and Muse copies (which are close to the same thing mechanically) can back you up on mental actions to some extent, especially in a purely online capacity. One thing that I'd been overlooking until now is the actual forking process itself. You can, of course, neural prune a fork in advance with psychosurgery to make sure he's well adjusted. You never know until you activate one from that copy, though. A pre-pruned fork won't have all of your memories and will have to be brought up to speed on what he's supposed to be doing. This might be quick for one fork. Writing out the design document to divide a team of 1,000 into teams of 4 with set responsibilities and ways of interacting to ensure the design works. . .kinda time consuming and you wind up needing an ever increasing number of management forks who aren't working directly on production. Granted you can do all of this in 60x simulspace, but you could have been doing the design work yourself in 60x simul and been done already. Or you can fire off a quick fork or two at one minute each. Once you make one you can copy it, but this is also a non-instant process. Hope your psychosurgery skill is good because memory loss, skill loss and psychosis are real possibilities here. Keep in mind a character doesn't necessarily know they've created a crazy fork and may now proceed to run off 1,000 homocidal little copies of their new "friend". When these forks decide that they want the hab to themselves and start using those teamwork bonuses to open the airlocks. . .you get the idea. Even well adjusted forks have to deal with stress, being overworked, taking orders from a domineering boss (the PC) etc. While they'll probably start out happy to help themselves with the plan they came up with, this can change very quickly. Are there times when infinite forking might be useful? I'm sure there are, but they're not nearly as numerous or easy as it first seems. Don't forget Pax Familiae, though. She does quite well with her massive forking operation. Even if its the worst underworld organization you've ever heard of, you have heard of it. Not bad for one woman.