Fights will be started by the gamemaster when one is requested or when the circumstances dictate one. Those present will then have to send in their choice of libraries.
As soon as the fight starts, you will receive a private mail from me. This is a part of the semi automatic Neuromancer software package. The program parses your commands and sends you human-readable results of every turn of the fight.
Again just send the turns to firstname.lastname@example.org
for the moment. I might implement a full automatic version at a later point.
A mail will be sent to all players active in the fight once the turn is run. This mail contains the results of the turn, a description of what happened, who did what, who got kick out and so on.
Then, the cycle starts again, until a victor has been determined.
If you do not provide a turn file your last turns actions will be repeated.
One cycle, by the way, always ends whenever either all players have sent in their turns, or when a certain number of days have passed. You will always be told how many these are for every fight you participate in.
Unless agreed upon by all, a cycle will always be one day. Lets keep this fast running.
Turns will be run on that day, around 17:00 GMT but try to send in your turns as soon as you can - it speeds up the game a lot.
Finally, if you don't want to do anything, and make no other actions either (for whatever reason), then at least send an empty mail this way it and I know that we don't have to wait for you.
One more technical mumbo: You'd make my life much easier if you could post the name of the fight into the subject line and append your turn as "your hacker name".txt
attachment onto the mail. But at least make sure I know your player name and the fight your mail corresponds to. I don't like having to search around and guess who you are or what fight you are referring to.
Let's get into a little more detail concerning the commands. This is the most easy part, once you know about procedure keys.
Procedure keys are what you need to run a procedure. It does not matter how much you know about the procedure - you can know everything, from name to exact to-hit chances and other values - as long as you do not have the key for that procedure, you can not run it.
A key might be the simple name of the procedure - true for the free procedures - or it will be something more complicated. Like 88cfdf92a419bcde45b76352848e28ffb89237f1
The procedures will always work if you use them, but if you get them confused then the parser has no problem whatsoever if you run a damaging procedure on yourself and a restoring one on your enemy. The parser always assumes that you know what you are doing, so you should make sure that you do. :-)
During a game-turn, all you do is put your procedure key into a mail, one after the other, and send them to me. For many procedures, you might also want to name a target of them. You do so by writing "Target: xxx" immediately in front of the procedure, replacing the xxx with the name of your target, of course. If a procedure supports multiple targets, specify them separated by commas. You do not need to specify targets with area like procedures. If no target is supplied the engine will assume you target yourself.
Make sure your mail-client doesn't wrap the keys. It needs to be in one line.
The engine also allows one to sit there and wait. This might be especially useful if you want to do a coordinated strike with your allies against one stronger enemy. To wait until a certain timeslice just enter waitto x. For example waitto 20 waits until timeslice 20.
You can also include some role-playing in your turns, by using the special keywords "Say:" and "Act:". Whatever you put behind these words in the same line is said or done by your character. For example, writing "Say: Die, you scumbag!" will result in a line like "Tron says: Die you scumbag!" in the turn. Note that talking and acting does not take time. But it is also subject to the turn order and will happen wherever you put it in the mail. For example you would use something like the above example more likely before blasting your enemy.
Please note that line length is limited here. If you want to swing a longer talk, use multiple say: lines.
Finally there is a set of 4 commands that have in game importance:
- Gain processor cycles to run your procedures from the target system's kernel. Depending on your loss for upkeep and the current kernel speed you will get 3-7 action points (or nothing if your compile fails). In any case compiling needs 2 cycles.
You can only compile once per turn and powerlevel/CPU power. So if you got a PL of 2, you can use 2 compiles in your turn.
- Restore your action points almost instantly (2 cycles) to maximum. Overclocking comes for a price however - 2 deck damages will be dealt in exchange for the power surge. The master fuse will not help here, hut the normal fuses can provide some protection.
- Restore your information level almost instantly (2 time) to maximum. Just as overclocking, this comes for a price as well. One deck component damage will be caused.
- You give up. Remember this command closely or you will maybe take lots of damage to your powerlevel. Unlike the prior commands this one will work immediately.
Enough talking, here is an example of a possible turn (including mail headers for clarity, you do not have to type those, of course):
From: Joe Test
Subject: Turn for Mr.X, fighting in the test system.
Target: John Doe
Say: You are all weak, and I will prove it!
target: John Doe, John Doe
Scatter Bomb 2
Port Mirror 0.9
act: laughs maniacally.
This is an example of a turn where three procedures get run and two special actions get taken.
The third procedure does not have a target named. That can be perfectly ok, because many procs do not need a target - viruses that change the environment, for example. In this case a restoration procedure on oneself is run.
The first and second procedure have target(s), and you might notice that case is not important in the "Target:" keyword. Neither is the ":". You can write "Target:" or "target:" or "TARGET:" or even "taRgET" - as long as the word is there.
The engine will also try to guess your target if you misspelled it. Well, that is it. Quite easy, isn't it?
One more hint not immediately related to troubleshooting: Make backups! The procedure keys are small enough to fit on a single disk, so there is really no excuse. If you lose your key, no matter why, I will not replace them. I cannot, even if I wanted to, because I have no way to verify whether you really had those procedures, or just happen to know their names; the keys are the procedures, so do make backups.
One important aspect of this game is the sharing of procedures. Because you can run any procedure whatsoever by sending in the correct procedure key, you can trade - or rather: share - keys with other players. Of course, nobody is likely to give you all his procedures. After all, there could always be a day when you use them against him. Or share them with someone who might. Or share them with someone who shares them with someone who shares... who uses it against him. In other words: The only procedure you can be sure will never be used against you is a procedure only you have the key for. It does not matter if other people know the procedure exists, they can even know just how dangerous it is - as long as you keep the procedure key, only you can use it.
That would make for a boring game, however. Also there might be times where you need a certain procedure and know someone who has it. You even might have got hold of a procedure you cannot use yourself (because you lack the correct knowledge). That is where we return from the mechanics to the roleplaying. There are many ways that you can use to exchange or share keys. You might do trading - give me that key of yours and you get this one. You might make presents, especially to the allies. You might share procedure keys if someone does you a favour, and so on.
It all boils down to the exchange of procedure keys. Send your key to someone else and he is from then on able to run that procedure. How you go about sharing procedures is entirely your business. Be warned - there is nothing that ensures the process. If you and someone else agree on an exchange, and you send your key but receive nothing in return, than you have been fooled. Cry about it, warn others about this dishonourable scumbag, but there is nothing you can do to stop him from using your procedure or to force him to hand his one over. On the other hand, such events will hopefully be rare, because one who is known not to honour agreements will not likely be able to do much further trading and thus will have isolated himself. But that is not the point. The point is that you have to take care of your own business yourself. Nobody else will do.
There is an endless array of possibilities here. Someone could set up a clearing house (gaining all procedures in the process) or some people could use encryption or other techniques to organize an exchange. The easiest way, however, is to base everything on trust. While this carries a certain risk, the benefits of keeping your word will usually be higher than those of breaking it.
There is one additional complication. Not all procedures are created equal. Many exists in various versions, some of which are without a doubt better than others. For example, there might be a CLI version that does exactly the same damage, has the same to-hit chances and everything, except that it costs less power.
Obviously, you do not want this procedure to end up in the hands of that guy who has mastery in that procedure's school and obliterated you with his normal CLI already in the last fight. In other words: Procedures are power. Sharing means giving that power away. You might receive something else in return, but there is no way you can stop further spreading of what you have given. If you give that enhanced CLI to someone else, he might in turn share it later, and after a while it ends up where you do not want it.
In addition, making a secrecy of procedures can be a benefit all in itself. In a fight, everyone will learn the name of the procedure used and their effect in that precise conditions. So people might after a while know that you have a procedure called "CLI" and what it looks like and that it did this many points of damage to that library in that specific environment. In other words, they don't exactly know much about it. Not, for example, that it has the drawback of being very weak if system security ever goes to nothing, because you have so far avoided using it in that circumstances. However, if you share the key, those who receive it have a chance to analyse the procedure, finding its weak spots.
Sharing is a very interesting topic all in itself. You can benefit a lot, or you can give away a lot, depending on how good a trader you are.