Technomancer issues

After picking up SR4 last year, I’ve finally found enough people in my circle of friends to start up a campaign. We spent an entertaining evening last night working up character concepts and doing Build Point math. The veteran SR2 players were a little thrown by some of the changes, and not completely thrilled at first blush, though I suspect they may get used to them given time. That’s not really what’s on my mind.


Now, from a game design standpoint, I love the idea, and I have no problem with any of my players building one. No, what’s driving me crazy is the logic behind them… it may not faze anyone else, but it’s bugging me. Here’s the thing:

When you use the Matrix, even if you are in Seattle and hacking a mainframe in Moscow, you don’t go anywhere. Your brain is still receiving nervous impulses as it sits there in your meat body, and the only places you go are in your imagination. In fact, skilled hackers can change the appearance and geography of the Matrix to suit themselves – the Matrix is nothing but documents on servers and pictures in your head.

If you are disconnected from the Matrix suddenly, your consciousness cannot “stay in” the Matrix because it never actually went anywhere. Your brain will suddenly resume taking signals from your sensory nerves instead of your interface, and you will be back in reality. It may be jarring, and unpleasant – I’ll even buy that the experience could kill some fragile folks – but there is no more Matrix signal fro your brain to process. There is nowhere, in fact, to be trapped in.

Given that, exactly what is a technomancer accessing? I’ll buy the idea that, though magic or genetics or both, his brain is now a Matrix terminal. No problems at all with that. But given that the only way to see the information in the Matrix is for your “terminal” to connect to a server somewhere, somehow, how is it doing so? Can your brain magically access any Matrix port nearby as if it were a juicy version of my hacker’s handheld PDA? If so, does that mean my technomancer is going to be SOL out in the Mojave Desert? (Or does wireless coverage in the Sixth World reach EVERYWHERE – Antarctica and the middle of Amazonia included?)

Perhaps there’s data in a late 3rd edition or early 4th SR supplement that would clear this up for me. But a lot of the writing in the base 4th SR rules implies that the Matrix is an entire plane of its own that exists independently of the servers and network through which we access it – that if every electrical source on the planet stopped functioning tomorrow, the Matrix would still somehow be there.

Which by the way, is not necessarily an uninteresting idea. But it somehow doesn’t seem to fit in well with the otherwise somewhat realistic nature of the Matrix so far.

Edit: This was supposed to go in the community. D’oh.

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