Rules:Matrix Search

From Jackpoint

The real thing about Matrix searching is the context. Characters tend to be doing one of four things when they are searching:

  • Collecting Leads
  • Answering Questions
  • Learning about something/someone
  • Ransacking a Host or Device

These all seem the same on the surface, but all have very different methods. Mostly, it's a matter of how people tend to go about the situation.

Collecting Leads

When someone is collecting leads, they're a lot less like someone trying to ask a question, this is far more of the modern equivalent of wiki-walking. Rather than trying to answer a question, the searcher is gathering all the related information, and then sorting the information by its value. The whole process is less about answering specific information, and more about filtering out disinformation. The character will get as many leads and hints as successes allocated to additional leads. Of course, the GM may add red herrings and incorrect information, but must give as many correct pieces of info as successes (assuming there are that many pieces of real info).

Generally this is rolled about situations, often as a generic "let's do the Matrix Legwork" roll. The roll takes approximately 12 hours, but hits can be allocated to remove time from the roll, each hit removing an hour, though those hits don't count for information gain.

One important thing is that not all information is available. Personal communication is stored in hosts. Secrets are stored in Hosts. Important parts of the Matrix are very much not public. Other portions of the Matrix are stored on Devices, getting access to these is also necessary for important information. The obscurity of the info you get is based on your original difficulty.

  • 1 Hit - Public information, common rumours, AAA corporate policy/news
  • 2 Hits - Uncommon information, rumours, AAA corporate policy/news
  • 3 Hits - Secrets about AAA corporations, transporation records, rumours from the shadows
  • 4 Hits - Shadow community information, AA corporate secrets
  • 5 Hits - Shadow community secrets, information erased secretly


Jynx rolls Intuition+Computer in order to do a Matrix search. She has 6 int, 6 computers, gets 6 points of diagnostics from Sprites, +2 from Hot Sim, for a total of 20 dice. Since she's confident, she sets the difficulty at 5. She rolls 8 hits. 5 hits immediately go into the obscurity of the information, and she puts all 3 remaining hits into amount of information. This means she should get at least four info tidbits. The GM is allowed to give them more, but also the additional information doesn't need to be true.

Malta later is on a boat to LA, rapidly trying to figure out the specifics of a Horizon black project before everyone gets there. He has four hours on the boat, so would like to be done before they land on the Lacuna and need to start sneaking. So he has 4 Intuition, 4 Computer, +2 Analytical Mind, +4 from an Agent helping him, but he has the Browse program allowing him to cut time in half, same with Analytical Mind, it cuts that down to 33%, or, 4 hours. He decides he's not too confident, and so sets the difficulty to 3. He rolls 3 total hits, decides he wants more, post edges and gets 3 more hits. Firstly, 3 hits go to obscurity. Then he decides to spend one to reduce the time, and the other two for more info. So he gets three info tidbits, and an hour to prepare based on that info. Good thing the boat drives itself.

Answering Questions

All questions have a difficulty. Generally they are based on the complexity of the question. Answering a specific question only takes an hour, every hit above the difficulty removes 10 minutes, every hit below adds an hour to the time it takes to find the answer.

Use the difficulties from Shadowrun Core.

Learning about Someone/Something

This is an opposed form of Answering Questions. By default, learning about someone is difficulty 0. However, a character who is being clandestine, or a specific item which is rare will be more difficult. By default, the person being investigated rolls Logic+Willpower reflecting their ability to know what the correct choices are, as well as the discipline to keep it up. This takes 30 minutes, minus 5 minutes per net-hit.

The following things give free hits on this test (or raise the base difficulty from 0)

  • +1 SINless
  • +2 Related to Dragons
  • +1 Protected by a AAA Corporate
  • +1 From Another Country
  • +1 From one of the Elven countries
  • +4 Information Erased by a skilled hacker
  • +1 Owns a Fairlight Exalibur or Paladin
  • +[Resonance-6] Technomancer
  • +[Depth-6] AI


Jynx wants to dig into a Mitsuhama Decker in order to figure out what the hell his deal is. He's protected by Mitsuhama and owns a Fairlight Excalibur. He has a Logic of 11 and a Willpower of 6. Jynx has a Computer of 6, Int of 6, 6 assistance, and Hot Sim. The Decker rolls badly and gets 4 hits, setting Jynx's difficulty to 6. She gets lucky and rolls 8 hits, finding him in 20 minutes, and digging into his background. Got him.

For objects, they don't roll dice, but they set their difficulty based on:

  • +2 Related to Dragons
  • +1 Protected by a AAA Corporation
  • +4 Information Erased by a skilled hacker
  • +1 From Another Country
  • +1 Magical
  • +1 Related to the Fourth World
  • +1 Not Famous
  • +2 Owned by a Private Collector

Ransacking a Host/Device

Hosts are a major part of the Matrix. Most, not all of the Matrix, is publicly stored in data nodes, in Grids, and on public Hosts. But sometimes you need to ransack something to get secrets. Hosts are vast sprawling portions of the matrix. A Decker must spend at least one Complex action every turn in order to keep the search going (though if they don't spend the action, they simply don't make progress that round). This assumes that the character is running around the host at maximum speed looking for something. The character needs to defend against patrol IC (if any) every single round where they take the Ransack action. The character needs a number of net hits equal to Host Rating * 3, making one test for every complex action spent on Ransack, maximum once per combat turn. If the character wants a specific piece of information instead of any information, they roll edge every 3 hits. If they get a success on their edge roll, the information is found.

Ransacking a Host is an illegal action, and you gain 1d6 overwatch every time you take a Ransack action. Ransacking a Device is not.

Devices are a lot faster, but tend to store less information. They are searched the same as hosts, but time is measured in Complex Actions, not Turns (so a searcher can speed up the search).

In order to Ransack a Host or a Device, you must have one MARK on it.


Jynx is inside a Mitsuhama Host. The Host is Rating 5 and full of juicy info, especially paydata, so she decides to start hiding. The main thing she wants to know is where is the original paper on The Hundred stored. So she rolls her 20 dice from above, and gets 7 hits. She has 6 hits, so rolls edge twice. The first roll gets no hits, but the second gets a hit. So she has the info for the Hundred Paper, but there's still 8 successes more info. She hunkers down, and begins to use Cleaner to fix her Overwatch score. Unfortunately, she must also roll against Patrol IC, which increases her host Overwatch. Luckily she's sneaky. The second round she gets 9 hits, and finds the remainder of the pay data. The most interesting of which is a cleaning schedule inside a Zero Zone.