We have a Technomancer in our party who has a bunch of registered sprites. When something interesting happens - let's say the characters fight some attackers off and send them running away - he simply unleashes all of his sprites to continue hacking the attackers, tracing them, etc. This can end up with 2-3 sprites off doing various things at once.

With Spirits this isn't so much of a problem - you can't send a Spirit to keep attacking someone as they drive down the freeway, as it's really obvious to observers what's going on, and there's a chance the spirit could get traced back to you. But with Sprites there's no such built-in limitation.

I don't have a problem with sending a single sprite after someone, but sending 2-3 just seems silly. On the other hand, I can't think of a reason why a Technomancer wouldn't do exactly that - there's plenty of downtime between games to register new services.

Is there an in-game reason for why a Technomancer wouldn't do this? And is there a better out-of-game way to handle it than just making a couple of dice rolls (Sprite's rating vs defenders skill, for example) to determine what happens? I don't want to tie up the rest of the players in a long matrix battle they aren't even there for...

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not familiar with 4th edition or matrix rules as much as I'd like to be, but here's two things I recommend: If the matrix still works on alert systems, make multiple sprites by the same user appear related, triggering alerts more quickly. I'm not sure about the actual usage of sprites; so I'm assuming they're pretty analogous to spirits. I'd make him take "drain" for activating the sprites, and make it scale for more sprites, if this doesn't stop him, make it worse. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 7, 2012 at 20:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ One thing to point out about sprites is that you can only have so many registered. I can't remember what stat it is (Cha?) but you can only have so many. Plus, if compiling a sprite on the fly, you do take drain and you can't have more then one compiled sprite at a time (what I call a Run-Time sprite) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 13:22

4 Answers 4


Technomancers are powerful for three reasons: compiling new Complex Forms, overclocking existing Complex Forms on the fly, and sprites. Take a look at a Technomancer next to a pure hacker at character gen. Hacker's going to win the hack game every time. A TM needs to spend massive amounts of points into being good, because their abilities are spread out between complex forms and skills in both Registering and Computer related skills, where a hacker only needs Computer and Hacking. Because of this focus for hackers, though, TM's can specialize in getting a lot of little guys to do their job for them. But there are few things most TM's that start out don't realize about sprites that they get hosed on otherwise.

1.) Hackers can do this too!

I have a rigger that, more often then not, has to do four or five things at once. I can't expect my rolls to always be cracking enemy systems. I have to download that data, keep watch for new icons, protect my drones, ect. That's why Agents are there. In 3rd Edition, we had agents as well (can't remember what their names were) that were packaged programs that ran and did stuff for us. An agent counts as one program running on your system and can have multiple types of programs suite'd into them. The easiest example is an Anti-Virus scan. That's going to have a Analyze program, maybe a Scan program, and a Decrypt or Defuse program, in case of data bombs. You start that sucker up on your commlink and it goes to work protecting your stuff while you continue to work. Same as a sprite. And you can do this for much cheaper, again, then a TM can. A TM has to invest time and effort at it. You just have to drop some cred at the local Kong-Walmart and you got yourself the latest in Anti-Punk protection. And there is no harsh limit to the number of agents you can have running (it's measured by double your Response, but it's hard to hit that limit). At that point, agents are basically IC, and TM's and sprites have to deal with them accordingly if they want to ruin your day.

2.) Resonance leaves as much of a trail as hacking and astral magic does.

I don't know if this is full canon, but it makes sense to me. Each TM has Resonance. That means they are in tune with the Matrix realm. Now, while a hacker doesn't understand what Resonance is, that doesn't mean they can't see it. A glitch in a data stream, a tell-tail sign of icons being colored pink, maybe a small sound they can't stop hearing when looking at a data trail. A TM knows what this is without looking at it, but a hacker doesn't. A TM summoned that sprite, so it has some connection to him. A Trace program or similar tool can, with time and effort, find them the same as a hacker. If it's not by the rules, I don't see why it wouldn't be. TM's are very easy to pick out in crowds when you look close enough at their signature. Their icons just look too perfect, as if the Matrix conformed to them rather then the other way around. Because of this, they can be traced.

3.) You're not the only Technomancer around

TM's are not common, no. But thanks to Deus and a large number of Otaku back in the 2060's, we have a budding generation of wireless data heads running around the world. Anyone can be a TM. Your lunch lady, the guy that feeds the birds in the park, you. Anyone. Because of that, you're not alone. And this is a double edged sword. As a TM, you have other people that can do what you can do. You can learn from them. Or, you can get burned from them. And think of the Corp think. You think that the Big Ten won't capitalize on this? Hell, if they find someone that can do simple parlor tricks with mana in their enclave, they 'strongly suggest' them to go to magical schools. You bet your ass they're going to run TM's in their corp buildings. TM's are adaptable and can break or secure systems in ways Hackers have trouble accomplishing. They can move in and out of wireless systems with ease and can command drones all over the damn place without needing hardware.

4.) Remote services are your friend

This goes with number three, but if other TM's are out there...what's to say that the guy you're following doesn't have a sprite on a remote service? Mages do this too, with loaning out a spirit to protect someone. They give the spirit a command and say "Hey...make sure this dude is still breathing". Anything a spirit can do, a sprite can mimic. And that goes for remote services.

There are a lot of ways to get around TM's. Don't think they're the God Mode of hacking. They are just a different flavor of hacking. And while a TM will, ultimately, surpass a hacker by leaps and bounds if given enough Karma, it doesn't mean they are unstoppable.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I believe the 3rd Edition name for an agent was "semi-autonomous knowbot". \$\endgroup\$
    – Argyle
    Commented Mar 8, 2012 at 19:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ To tack on to this answer, in a a Scion campaign where the players rely too heavily on having a dedicated cadre of superhuman followers, rolling gets obscene and I sometimes say that they are tied up by the minor legions of the enemy, thus negating the need to roll as they are "scenery" for such a minor scene. \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 23:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Issue #2 isn't really an issue where hackers is concerned. Per Unwired p.135 hackers can't really hack technomancers, and have a very difficult time tracking them. And their biological pan is always in hidden mode, so people won't notice those "too perfect icons". Of course, technomancers is still a possibility, though probably not an everyday problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rubberduck
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 5:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's an issue if you have a hacker that knows what they're doing. Sure, a technomancer can't be 'hacked' and tracing them is hard. Notice that it doesn't say impossible. Technomancers get a silver plate to eat off from on a golden pedestal by many people in SR. They're seen as untouchable. They are not, and my rigger Mouse proves that point. I constantly have to clean my data trail every game and put more points into my stealth program when running around the city. It's not as easy as most people think it is. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 14:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Resonance is traceable, but only to things with Resonance - TM, Sprites, maybe AI. (SR Anniversary 243, Matrix Signatures). \$\endgroup\$
    – user4154
    Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 16:32

As others have mentioned there is the limit based on Charisma (Core book p. 235). Of course, that might not be a problem, if he has sufficient Charisma and doesn't use the Sprites too much.

One thing to remember, though, which applies to both Spirits and Sprites are that they aren't just semi-intelligent tools. They are semi-autonomous, entirely intelligent creatures. Both of which dislike being bound/registered. You could take a bit of time to sit down, and figure out exactly what personalities these guys have. Weird and alien digital intelligences.

The notes in the "Bound Spirits" box on p. 178 can be applied to Sprites as well, including the dice pool modifier. And do abuse the heck out of the information in the "Uncontrolled Sprites" box on p. 236, if he fails to re-register a sprite. If the sprites never become uncontrolled, then maybe there are free sprites that can bother the technomancer. All assuming of course that the technomancer is actually abusing the sprites.

Below are a couple of the sprites that the technomancer in my previous campaign had under her control.

Hex, Rating 4 Code Sprite Tasks owed: 3 Pilot: 4 Response: 4 Firewall: 6 Matrix INIT: 8 IP: 3 EDGE: 4 RES: 4 Skills: Computer, Data Search, Electronic Warfare Complex Forms: Analyze, Browse, Decrypt, Edit, Encrypt Powers: Info Sortilege, Probability Distribution

Hex has little personality, and seem at its happiness when sitting in an info-node sorting and collating data. When you are not calling upon its services, it is doing just that. Luckily you can tell it to sit in places where it is unlikely to be discovered, as long as there is enough information flowing through. If there isn't, it may wander off, getting into nodes where it draws unwanted attention from the defenses. These days it hangs out at the main Seattle library, just browsing data all day long.

When revealed it looks like a small, gently swirling tornado of green code strings.

Pulse, Rating 4 Data Sprite Tasks owed: 4 Pilot: 4 Response: 4 Firewall: 2 Matrix INIT: 8 IP: 3 EDGE: 4 RES: 4 Skills: Computer, Data Search, Electronic Warfare Complex Forms: Browse, Decrypt, Edit, Encrypt Powers: Stenography, Watermark

You often get the feeling that Pulse is just doing with you as a side thing, and is out doing things on a much grander scale when it isn't with you. Pulse is serious, and can occasionally seem downright condescending when pointing out a flaw in a plan of action. You can never help but feel that you are greatly under appreciating its true potential.

When revealed it looks like a black irregular rectangle with a neon-green border on a surface of the VR landscape. When moving, it moves along the surface, though if there is no suitable surface to glide along, it will occasionally take to the air, where it is still perfectly 2-dimensional.

Doc, Rating 4 Machine Sprite Tasks owed: 4 Pilot: 4 Response: 4 Firewall: 6 Matrix INIT: 8 IP: 3 EDGE: 4 RES: 4 Skills: Computer, Electronic Warfare, Hardware Complex Forms: Command, Medic Powers: Diagnostics, Gremlins, Stability

Like Hex, Doc is a simple sort. Doc's passion seems to be keeping the datascape in tip top form, whether organizing the icons, keeping a commlink working while under cyber attack, or repairing damaged programs. It seems mindless as it flutters from one job to the next, though it responds to commands. Doc is different from the others, as in you didn't attract its attention by compiling it. Instead you simply found it one day puttering around in the home network of your parent's apartment.

Jaguar, Rating 4 Machine Sprite Tasks owed: 4 Pilot: 4 Response: 4 Firewall: 6 Matrix INIT: 8 IP: 3 EDGE: 4 RES: 4 Skills: Computer, Electronic Warfare, Hardware Complex Forms: Autosoft(Defense), Command Powers: Diagnostics, Gremlins, Stability

Jaguar loves drones. He loves being in them, and especially seems to like your Steel Lynxes. When he is in them, they act visibly more animal-like. In the matrix, when not commanding a drone, he acts jittery, as if he would rather get moving to some place else. And for some reason you get the distinct impression that he is a he, and not a non-gendered it.

In the matrix he takes the form of a mechanical spider. Steel girder skeleton overlain with wires arranged so that they resemble muscles. About a meter in diameter and waist-high. Though he usually stays outside of the VR landscape, he is less shy than Hex or Pulse about coming out into the open.


I would say the best way to stop him from doing this is to have an enemy of his (shadowrun team, bounty hunter, corp hit squad, or just a lone hacker) find out that he does this all the time. If all his sprites are away doing things, he no longer has them to help fight off an ambush, meaning he gets to choose between risking fading or being outnumbered.

If it were my player- I'd have a technomancer enemy (based on whatever his character has for enemies) send a bunch of hired goons to hit the PCs and run away, then crash into his biological PAN/comlink he uses for storage with his own sprites to steal some data they have.

Once they realize the weakness of that tactic, don't hit them again. Let him get away with it, knowing that he has to be paranoid of an ambush every time without you having to do anything else.


More important is that the number of Sprites is limited by Charisma (Shadowrun Fourth Edition, p86).

Means a TM with Charisma 5 can have up to 5 registered sprites. Not one more.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Hi Kelvit, and welcome to the site. Could you look up the source (book and page number, if possible), and edit it into this answer? It'd make it a lot more useful! Also, when you get a chance, please check out our faq. \$\endgroup\$
    – AceCalhoon
    Commented Jul 2, 2012 at 16:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not Logic, but Charisma is the limiting attribute. (See SR Fourth Edition page 86: "The maximum number of sprites a technomancer may have registered into service is equal to his Charisma attribute.") \$\endgroup\$
    – Murch
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 0:16

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