Re: The Matrix

From: Ross A. Finlayson (
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 10:07:29 MDT


I think one good idea is Steve Jackson's GURPS, Generic Universal Role-Playing
System. Another thing to keep in mind is Shadowrun, although its VR/Matrix rules
were more abstracted to computer metaphors.

With the disclaimer that I have been not using any RPG systems for more than five
years, I remember the first boxed edition of GURPS, I thought it was very good when
I was 16 or something. There were four or five different theme ruleset
supplements, I had at least the space one and thought it well though-out and
devised, particularly the technology rules, although the then-proposed timeframe
might be compressed in reality. I have corresponded with Senor Jackson several
times about simulation. Before that I was into mostly Advanced Dungeons and
Dragons, I am familiar with every word of each first edition book. I never played
as much as absorbed the rulesets which fascinated my statistical mind. Shadowrun
came later I was not into it but remember reading its rules about computer hacking.

Matrix could be converted to GURPS quite well, I would believe. I came across a
links site to GURPS conversions the other day, Largely physical realm rules
apply within the Matrix, and the rest could be put into place. Some character
skillsets would exist in virtual mode, and others not.

Shadowrun did have facility for black ICE where hacker attempts could be met with
physically fatal feedback.

Anyways I am out of that scene but that is the way I would go about it. I still
have dice.


Martin Ling wrote:

> On Tue, May 30, 2000 at 06:05:55AM -0700, James Rogers wrote:
> > On Sun, 28 May 2000, Ross A. Finlayson wrote:
> > >
> > > They are certainly many scenes in the movie that do not correspond to hard
> > > science, nor to precedence within the movie. When Trinity shoots the agent
> > > on the roof, she says "dodge this", why does he not? Well that it did not.
> >
> > It actually goes beyond this. Why do any of the agents bullets ever miss?
> >
> > It seems that the agents have virtually unlimited processing capacity at
> > their disposal but limited bandwidth into the Matrix, less apparently
> > than even the humans. Clearly the agents aren't a physical part of the
> > Matrix, otherwise they would be able respond almost instantaneously to
> > rapidly changing event streams in the Matrix.
> >
> > One thing that is clear from the movie, and which may have ramifications
> > in the sequels, is that there seem to be several very large systems in
> > existence with Matrix-class computational abilities, all of which are
> > loosely interconnected. These systems appear to be quite capable of
> > running one or more AIs.
> You're onto something James. I've been thinking on the same lines...
> Thing is, the old cracker versus sysadmin storyline doesn't hold up to
> much. If the AIs were truly in control of the system, the resistance
> wouldn't have a chance. They could do whatever they liked with the
> simulation, and they could also just not allow the Nebuchanezzar's
> signal to access the system.
> My idea - they're not.
> I should introduce a little project of mine. I'm an avid roleplayer,
> and so are thw two friends I was with when I first went to see the film.
> About five minutes after walking out of the film, in the middle of
> conversation, we all suddenly stopped and had the same thought...
> "Damn, wouldn't a Matrix RPG be cool?"
> And so, I'm writing it.
> This is an interesting challenge. You know how, when a good book or
> something gets made into a film, it is inevitably simplified and changed,
> in a somewhat predictable manner?
> Well, basically I'm working to do the reverse. Also, since the objective
> is an RPG, the universe has to be even more well thought out and
> consistent.
> Now - where was I? Oh yes, the AIs. No, they don't control the Matrix.
> If they did, the resistance wouldn't stand a chance. The Matrix is the
> ultimate development of the 'net. The AIs have taken over much of it,
> and connected vast numbers of humans to it via their own constructed
> systems (the ones you see Neo awake in). They can monitor the I/O of
> everyone connected to the Matrix *through their systems*. That's what
> the Agents are doing with their earpieces - they are alerted to surprise
> reactions from anyone in the city. And they can then take over that
> person's connection (this is how they 'posess' their bodies).
> At this point, I should introduce you a little to the client/server
> structure of the Matrix.
> There is a master server. The AIs do not have control of this. In fact,
> it seems no-one even knows where it is, or who controls it. It is that
> system which runs the simulation.
> There are secondary servers, to which the end clients (people) actually
> connect. The AIs have built there own, and interfaced it to the network.
> Now, the master server requires a *lot* of integrity checks on the
> secondary servers. One of these is to ensure the physical statistics
> (speed, strength, etc) for the connected clients are not tampered with.
> Fortunately for the AIs, there was a loophole in this part of the
> system, which allowed them to introduce a small number (three) of
> entities with all attributes pushed to maximum. This gives them their
> speed and their strength... but as Morpheus says, "they still live in a
> universe based on rules".
> So, what are the resistance fighters doing to bend the rules?
> Ever played Quake 3?
> One of the features of that game's multiplayer system is client-side
> processing. With older multiplayer games, you had to rely on the server
> for all your information. Now, the server can just tell you that player
> 4 has fired a rocket on whatever trajectory, and your machine can track
> it itself. This allows the game to require less bandwidth, and be less
> limited by the players' network latency. The dreaded Laaaaaaaagggg...
> This isn't exclusive to Quake 3. It's been done before - one of the best
> examples is Jedi Knight. The usual problem with lag is that other
> players look like they're in one place, but they've actually already
> moved from there - you just havent' been informed of the move yet. This
> makes shooting them bloody difficult, and insanely frustrating. JK
> allowed the player's game client to have a say in whether they made a
> hit. That is, if your opponent looked like he was standing in front of
> you, and your client thought you'd hit him, the server believed your
> client and they took the appropriate damage.
> Now... see what I'm getting at? These systems rely on the closed-source
> nature of the clients - because by sending the appropriate signals to
> the server, one can cheat (in JK, the trick on LAN games was to wait
> till your opponent was right in front of you, disconnect your network
> cable, whack him a few times with your lightsaber, and then plug
> yourself back in...)
> So what the resistance fighters are doing is exploiting the system's
> support of client-side processing. If they *believe* they can move that
> fast, they do.
> "Don't think you can... *know* you can!"
> -- Morpheus
> All goes quite neatly, n'est pas?
> Hmmm... what else? Oh yes... what are the AIs actually *doing*. Well,
> there's a number of guesses. Maybe they're observing us. Perhaps they
> think existence inside the Matrix is in our own best interests [this is
> my actual thinking behind it all - when the AI consciousness was
> started, it was given a set of imperatives similar to Asimov's laws -
> it was to protect the humans and make them happy. This is how it chose
> to do it]. Oh, and there's even some crackpots who think they're using
> us for batteries... [Morpheus's nonsense is debunked thoroughly in my
> version].
> Other bits and pieces...
> The Oracle? Ew. Yuck. Leaving that out - I can't find any useful way
> to explain that.
> The One? Yuck also. I am sick of Messiah plotlines.
> Neo's death & revival - although I didn't particularly like the Sleeping
> Beauty ending, this can be covered. His real body wasn't actually
> damaged, of course. And his mind had become sufficently free from the
> system and aware of its nature (see the scene where he begins to see
> the whole world, and the agents, as green lines of code to be
> manipulated at his will) that he wasn't quite as immersed. Although his
> heart stopped briefly, external stimulus (Trinity touching him, and
> telling him she loved him) was enough to bring his attention to the real
> world.
> I've got quite a lot more ideas on this going round - but I'd quite like
> to hear everyone's opinions on what I've said so far.
> Martin
> --
> -----[ Martin J. Ling ]-----[ ]-----

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