The Matrix

Introduction

The Matrix or Net is a global computer network allowing fast and convenient access to millions of computers from any other computer on earth or beyond. Any computer connected to this network has the capability to access information from any other computer connected to this network regardless of distance or time of day. Whether it is called the Internet, the Matrix, the Web, the Cyberspace, the Face, or the Net, all use different special effects and technologies to describe the same thing.

OOC Metaphysics

For all intents and purposes the Digital Web "collapsed" into the Matrix. The long of the short of it is there was something called the internet (which you are familiar with), which developed into the Virtual Reality Network (VRN). The VRN was more or less a "gloves and goggles" 80's sci-fi, 3-d interface. It was pretty cool…until it crashed in 2002. Necessity being the mother of invention, technologists scrambled and produced what we now know as the Matrix. How the Matrix and the Digital Web merged is a matter of debate, mostly among Mages and Glasswalkers. What everyone agrees on is that something happened during the downtime and the either the Digital Web "migrated" into the Matrix or the Matrix woke up.

To the average human, the Matrix is a digital playground or conference room; seamless prosthetic in the fabric of their everyday lives. Netrunners have more of a sense of the wacky noetic science that went into the Matrix and the neurolink, but most of them are too busy toppling Corporate ICE and eating pizza to get into philosophical debates.

Is the Matrix a figment of the mind or is it a production of the electromagnetic spectrum? Is it part of the High Umbra or the Penumbra? Does it connect to the Low Umbra? The answer is: who knows. From a more nuts and bolts perspective the Matrix sits, more or less, cosmologically in the same place the Digital Web did. There are spiritual back doors from the various levels of the Umbra to and from the Matrix. These portals are entirely transparent to humans, even Netrunners who while extremely savvy are still Sleepers. Putting to fine a point on it takes away the mystery and magic of the realm so we'll leave it at that. We hope the Matrix and its various metaphysical dimensions provide a source for mind boggling stories.

Glossary

Sourcebook & Rules

This is by no means an comprehensive system for play in the Matrix. The system below is designed to make the Matrix a playable aspect of Dark Metal. It will probably remain a work in progress for a long time. Again, we aren't here to fix White Wolf or write a Storyteller system conversion of Cyberpunk 2020. Just providing some mechanical guidelines and rules of thumb to make the game more fun. If these don't work for your story, toss em and use whatever works. Just make sure the players involved are on the level.

While not used part and parcel, the Digital Web 2.0 has some good mechanics that can be incorporated into stories.

Overview

The matrix is the collective computer network that now defines almost all of human interaction in the 'Bright' world, and a lot of it elsewhere.

It carries 99% of the worlds communications, be they human or computer. Its scope is so vast as to be almost beyond comprehension. Your answering machine is on it, as is your Vid, your phone, and every cash register in existence.

As early as the mid 1990's, VR was the new frontier in interfaces. Windows and scroll bars, originally part of the GUI, gave way to 3 dimensional slides and knobs manipulated with data-gloves and touch screens. Computer power soon reached the point where voice recognition and photo-realistic rendering became common place, but with the advent of the Neurolink, people started climbing INTO their machines.

Casual Matrix use is done via highly advanced Virtual Reality GUIs and manipulated through the classic goggles and gloves. There are a variety of options for this that range from the cheap and slow to the streamlined and elegant. People who's jobs involve heavy computer use usually have transducers implanted on each of the seven major nerves and the spine. Called Chakra Transducers, this technology allows users to experience the virtual world of the matrix almost as if it were real - complete with smell, touch, everything. The really SERIOUS people go the expensive route. They have themselves 'wired' with a datajack. These so called 'cowboys' can be found on both side of the corporate fence.

By the time of the Fall, the world of computers was well on its way to an alternate reality. The Internet had grown into a huge collection of virtual realities. 2002 saw a complete compromise of the global communications network; the internet, telephones, satellites…all of it went down and stayed that way for almost a year.

The Internet was resurrected as the VRN (Virtual Reality Network) and held together by (along with about a thousand hackers who spent all their free time wrenching holes in the corporate stranglehold on what they considered theirs) the corporations that depended on its functioning for their existence. The multi-national Amaterasu Consortium was formed to oversee security maintain consistency across the rapidly growing VRN.

The advent of the Neurolink heralded a new age in computers. At first simple, these devices promised a new age of VR but were capable of much more. The first unit was a test project funded by Koa Industries. Connecting to the VRN via the Neurolink did not offer full sensory immersion. Data was represented visually and manipulated using a GUI but the experience as faster, more direct and somehow more visceral as much as it was disassociating. Regardless, the experience of being that much closer to pure data and speed at which it could be managed was a rush like no other.

Three days after its first successful test and only a year after the initial crash, Samuel Masteson broke into the NWA network and proceeded to bring the entire system to a halt, walking away with data from every machine attached to it. In the next three hours, he shut down every major computer network in the world. Money, now almost entirely electronic, ceased to move. Communications stopped flowing. The world stopped.

Samuel and the prototype 'Cyberdeck' disappeared, never to be found. But the design ended up on public data networks all over the world 2 days later.

Though no on realized it, war had been declared.

OPpTI

The Emergence of OPpTI and the Matrix

The Amaterasu Consortium was determined to create a faster and more secure network. In response to Masteson's now legendary hack, the Consortium began funding a think tank of elite technologists and Artificial Intelligence experts to develop a method of interfacing Neurolink technology with the VRN. Their solution was the Optical Prism protocol Transfer Intelligence. OPpTI made possible previously unknown speeds and performance. If the VRN was dazzling and the Cyberdeck devastating, OPpTI dwarfed them in comparison. Not only could thought and data be freely exchanged but optical (rather than electrical) computers allowed for an unlimited, speed of light network.

The first OPpTI server was installed in Tokyo, Japan.

What is OPpTI?

In brief, OPpTI is the optical server network that makes up the backbone of the Matrix. These servers run a special A.I. driven 'prism' protocol that allows for the mass shared sensory experience of the matrix.

In detail OPpTI breaks down as follows:

Optical - an OPpTI server is an optical computer. Optical computers use light instead of electricity (i.e. photons rather than electrons) to manipulate, store and transmit data. Photons have fundamentally different physical properties than electrons that allow them performance, capabilities and scale greater than those of electronic computers.

Prism Protocol Transmission - OPpTI servers are designed to run the Prism Protocol which governs the the syntax, semantics, and synchronization of thought-data exchanges. This protocol makes use of the optical computer to translate or break up data (in the form of light) up into the constituent frequencies of consciousnesses and to reform consciousnesses into photon data.

Further more, this prismatic effect allows these photons to be 'refracted' across the network allowing for an infinite number of sessions and redundancies. In the Matrix consciousnesses and data exist everywhere at once.

Intelligence - the capacity to reason, to plan, to solve problems,to comprehend and to learn.

This is where things get metaphysical.

The initial Matrix Amaterasu Consortium developed consisted of a network of advanced VR rigs all hooked together. While advanced it was dull compared to the complete sensory immersion offered by OPpTI.

Because of the complexity of sensory data, Neurolink servers offering full immersion could only function in a limited, resource draining, person to person configuration. Each Neurolink connection is unique so each Neurolink server had to be configured on an individual basis.

According to what little the Amaterasu Consortium has released on the enigmatic OPpTI servers, the solution to the integration is is a network of co-located AIs which dynamically manage or 'fill in' the missing information for each unique connection allowing full sensory immersion on a global scale.

There are 73 OPpTI servers across the world that form the backbone of the Matrix. Some claim that OPpTI is evolving into self-aware multi-consciousness. Others claim that the 73 servers form a singular meta-mainframe that is capable of complex human-machine interaction but that claims of actual consciousness are a human anthropomorphization. The debate continues.

ComSec

Amaterasu Consortium spread word of it's achievements and requested that areas wishing to host a OPpTI server to submit a proposal for the privilege. ComSec was one of the first to make a bid and developed their infamous ICE Fortress as part of the proposal. ComSec (along with many other 'Secs' across the globe) were brought into the Amaterasu Consortium and given the funding they needed to be the military arm of the Amaterasu Consortium. If hackers were going start a fight the Consortium was going to fight back. These Secs are powerful and shadowy Matrix security corporations who network with one an other to ensure the safety and stability of the Matrix. Highly secretive, they let Amaterasu Consortium maintain standards and implementing innovations and upgrades across the network where as the Secs are responsible for ensuring that the current network is not compromised. They do so with an iron fist.

With army at their disposal, Amaterasu Consortium provisioned OpTI servers across the globe. By 2017 the Matrix went global and Brights began to jack in.

ComSec maintains an Iron fist over the Bright MANs and the hacking of bright citizens is illegal. If one suspects that he is being or has been a victim of Matrix crime, all one has to do is enter +911 and ComSec will contact you and take your case. Hacking is taken very seriously. ComSec works day and night to make the Matrix a safe place where the Bright Citizens may do business or simply relax…or so they say.

The Dark Net makes no such claims of safety. According to ComSec, it's illegal to even be in the Dark Net.

Matrix Geography

The Matrix, at least the Bright, safe Matrix that Brights experience and Darks hack into, is more restricted than the internet we use. The Matrix is divided into large sectors known as Kingdoms, these Kingdoms are then subdivided into Nets and the Nets divided into zones. The zones or rooms are the virtual realities the users interact with.

Access to the Brightnet requires an account with a Matrix Service Provider, which in turn requires a SNN…and money. The Brightnet is orderly, clean, wondrous and safe (relatively)…so long as you pay your bill and don't go wandering off where you don't belong. The Brightnet is given life by corporate sponsored backbone primarily for the purpose of commercial interests. The fact that you can have cybersex with virtual tens, have the newest Simsense experience or escape into a raid of virtual dungeon as an Elf Mage is a profitable yet distant second as far as the concerns of most Constoriums go. Still, the Matrix as the opiate of the masses isn't lost on the Corporate masters and they don't hesitate to supply said pleasures en masse. Because of the primary commercial interests, the Brightnet is both loaded with data highly secure. It's formatting is highly regimented and standardized. It's backbone is maintained by Ameratsu Consortium via Comsec and non-compliance to their decisions is unlawful.

Most users can get anything they need within their local Kingdom, but connections outside the local Kingdom are either prohibitive or expensive. Connecting to a zone in an other Kingdom is like making a long distance phone call and corporations like it this way. For one thing, it allows them to keep an iron grip of their Nets but it also allows them to squeeze more profits from hapless Simsense junkies looking to download the latest Korean hardcore.

LATMA's Matrix Kingdom

LATMA%27s%20Matrix%20Kingdom.jpeg

LATMA's Matrix Kingdom consists of the Bright nets of Corporate Center, Downtown, Palos Verde, Hollywood and Pasadena. It is governed and protected for the Consortium by the unfriendly but effective Comsec.

Connecting

The Matrix is accessed a few different ways:

Method Reprequisites Notes
Virtual Reality Rig Anyone No Bonus
Datajack Human, Mage, Shifter +1 die to all computer rolls
HB Datajack Human, Mage, Shifter -1 to all Matrix related difficulties
Super-Sensory Correspondence 2* Magical duplicate of an HB datajack
Holistic Varies* You can die!
Inhabit Arcanoi Wraith or Wraith Fetish or Artifact None
  • Correspondence 2 and the use of a computer or VR rig is the standard method for entering the Matrix using magic. Your mileage may vary due to paradigmatic differences. Please +request your staffer if other methodologies come into play.
  • Holistic entrance usually requires Life 4, Forces 2, Correspondence 2 or a Gift (see Garou staff). Holistic immersion into the Matrix comes with its benefits, like use of physical attributes, but requires extensive use of gifts or spheres and the cosmology ability to pull off. While not impossible it's not casual magic or common knowledge, even for Virtual Adepts or Glasswalkers. There are "back doors" into the Matrix from the Umbra most notably, in particular, Dystopia.

All computers connected to the Matrix are assigned LDL. This LDL serves as a kind of telephone number or IP address for that computer, to which other computers know where to send information. This LDL allows the deck or computer to connect to the immersion experience of the Matrix and serves as a kind of identification for the user and tells computers what areas in the Matrix the user is allowed to access. LDLs are technically connected to the user's SSN but are easy for hackers to fake, spoof or conceal. The user connects to the Matrix via his deck or computer. Matrix areas then authenticate the user's LDL as he moves about the Matrix. Most public areas only look for the presences of an LDL not it's authenticity. Some areas perform more scrutiny.

Most users access corporate virtual constructs which are like giant interactive, 3D advertisement "experiences", attempting to entice the average Net User into their Virtual Realities to sell products or services. Some Virtual Realities actually provide useful services such as information or online software applications. The VR equivalent to modern Websites. Other areas programmed for personal use provide other services or are merely experiences in an of themselves. The Matrix provides a wide variety of services from the banal and menial to the recreational or the exotic. Even in the Bright world, the Matrix remains a strange and some-what wild experience.

These virtual constructs or "worlds" are housed on Dataservers maintained by the respective corporations or institutions and linked together by the Matrix. Space to build constructs can be purchased from dataserver providers. It is the information housed on these Dataservers that isn’t readily available to the public that draws the Hacker. Normally, a corporate dataserver is openly accessible to the Net public, providing information either to the public or its employees through a variety of interfaces: text-only, text and graphics (the Web), audio/video, or fullsensory virtual reality (the Net). However, the value of information available on public dataserver sites is poor and bland. In addition, access to remote software applications is limited to public-domain applications.

Datafortresses are the restricted hidden levels of a dataserver providing remote access to restricted data or software applications to authorized users. Security is maintained through the datafortress’ DataWall program. The level of security restriction depends on the value of the information or application. Secure information may be housed on the same dataserver as public information, only hidden in restricted repositories, effectively invisible from those who lack proper authorization. Authorization comes with proper identification. Identification can come in many forms: Authorized Net LDLs, passwords, proper interface software, or even biometric data. It is a hacker’s goal in life to gain unrestricted access to restricted information, uncover secrets, make unauthorized changes to data, or to use a restricted software application.

When attempting to gain unauthorized access to a corporate datafortress, the hacker establishes a legal connection to the company’s dataserver. Normally, an authorized user will then use an interface program to gain access to the datafortress. The datafortress’ Code Gate program verifies authorization and allows access. The hacker attempts to fool the code gate into authorizing entry. Should that fail, the hacker may attempt to gain entry by disabling the DataWall program protecting the information.

Once past security, the Datafortress constantly re-checks authorization through the use of Detection software. Detection software double-checks the authorization of all the users connected to the datafortress. If it finds a discrepancy or error, it notifies the Datafortress System Administrator (SysAdmin) who will either attempt to disconnect the hacker, determine the hacker’s location with a Trace application, disable the hacker’s software with an Anti-ICE application, disable the hacker’s computer with Anti-System software, or physically injure the hacker with Anti-Personnel software. The hacker uses Stealth software to fool detection software into either authorizing or ignoring the hacker’s connection. If discovered, the hacker may fight back against the SysAdmin with Anti-ICE, Anti-System, or Anti-Personnel software of their own. Should the hacker gain access to the Datafortress’ repositories, they may view, copy, or alter data. Data comes in many forms from online applications for remote use, inter-office communication, public display data (text, audio-video, or VR), to databases, or records.

The Wildernet or Darknet

Every light casts a shadow. If data wants to be free then data is getting a serious choking in the Brightnet…which of course results in something like the Darknet. While the Brightnet is a series of clustered computers and servers all playing Comsec and the Ameratsu Consortium's tune, the Wildernet is an unreliable relay network designed to allow for those who wish to exchange data with anonymity to do so with impunity.

The Dark Net

Connecting to the Dark Net requires only the proper equipment and know how but is dangerous. There are absolutely no regulations, no PubZones and no official indexes with in the Dark Net. You enter at your own risk. There are no 'legal conduits to the Bright Matrix from the Dark Net but there are Conduits leading to other Dark Nets.

The Wildnet aims to conceal its users' identities and their network activity from surveillance and traffic analysis by separating identification and routing. To connect to the network all you need is a bridge ID, a datajack and a terminal, but if you really want to work it you need a cyberdeck. The Darknet randomly bounces communications through a network of relays run by volunteers throughout the globe. These routers employ encryption in a multi-layered manner to ensure perfect forward secrecy between relays, thereby providing users with anonymity in network location.

In many ways the Darknet mirrors the Bright in that it's virtual simulations but isn't held to any sort of standard so connections are unreliable and its landscape changes far more frequently. The dark is a labyrinth of entrances and exits that wind around an un-commercialized, often poorly formatted, sometimes hellish or at least bizarre virtual landscape. The fringes of the Darknet are as varied as they are strange; this area of the Matrix is truly the other side of the looking glass. With out the watchful eye of Comsec the Darknet can be nearly as dangerous as the dark streets its creators hide among.