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How can Technomancers use the Resonance Veil complex form in a way that is neither useless nor broken?

p.253 of the core (emphasis mine)

This complex form lets you make the target believe something has happened in the Matrix. It’s a convincing illusion if you can succeed in a Software + Resonance [Level] v. Intuition + Data Processing test. Even if the target has reason to believe what it’s seeing is fake, it needs to make a Matrix Perception Test with a threshold equal to your net hits to see through the illusion.

Something has happened does leave a lot of space for imagination:

  • All your marks were deleted.
  • I jacked out and you don't see me any more.
  • Host send me Invite Mark.

I am looking for guidelines and examples from your games about how to use this complex form.

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See my Notes! below for a preface!

This is a technique based in misdirection, so most of the examples I've used/suggested/come across follow suit:

1) You hacked into a system to steal or erase a file, and you want to leave as much time as possible so you can dump it or escape before it is noticed. Unfortunately, someone is aware you were having around in the files. You could use Resonance Veil to make them think you were after another file.

2) That security spider hadn't seen you, yet, and you want to make it and it's perception dice go looking elsewhere. Make it think that it saw an intruder somewhere else.

3) Drek, you didn't send the spider off before and now it's noticing that a feed looks different than how it should. Time to make that spider think that the camera is glitching and needs a rest.

4) A runner was trying to incite gang A to attack gang B. Both gangs were pretty level-headed, and though they were rival gangs didn't want to attack each other without a good cause to call the other gangs to. Dropping AR tags of each other's colors wasn't working, so instead they waited until gang A's patrol was around and dropped a tag in front of them, using Resonance Veil to make it seem like it came from gang B. Instant war!

** Notes! **

I'm putting this down here because it's not part of the answer, but might help in understanding the problem that brought forth the question.

First, I feel like I need to address Technomancers: Until Data Trails comes out (soon!), Technomancers have little to go on aside from what's in RAW. A sharp mind can make a basic technomancer that breaks things easily, but fortunately as a GM there are plenty of ways around that. That's beyond the scope of this question.

Second, can this skill be called useless? Sure. It doesn't really have a direct mechanical impact. You can't use it to directly help you with anything, which is why it's a skill better suited for the more covert data wizards.

Third, is this skill broken? Mmmmm....mostly. No more broken than Puppeteer is. And all of these things can be taxing on a technomancer. To make a convincing illusion can put a decent amount of hurt on a technomancer's brain. If you're going against a security spider who has a decent Intuition and Data Processing skill, you're going to want to try a Force 6 to get some net hits. That's five fading you have to resist, and hopefully it will work. If it does work and you hit net hits they now have make a Matrix Perception Test (assuming they feel the need to make one)

Ultimately it's up to you and your GM to make sure it doesn't get too powerful, but if you ask me personally it's just fine. There's a decent amount of payment in the form of fading for the benefit, and the benefit isn't something that will keep your character from dying.

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Summary: Resonance Veil is the Matrix equivalent of the mage's Control Thoughts, which is capable of targeting devices or personas as opposed to targeting living creatures.


  • While the description of Resonance Veil lists its available targets as devices, page 252 of the core rule book says: "Each complex form entry has a Target describing what it works on. A complex form with a Device target can also be used to target a persona."
  • The drain damage for Control Thoughts is identical to the fade damage for Resonance Veil. Therefore, we can reasonably infer that they are intended to be roughly the same level of power.
  • The description of Resonance Veil states "This complex form lets you make the target believe something has happened in the Matrix." Beliefs are thoughts (or conclusions drawn from data, in the case of a machine). They are not actions, nor are they even necessarily true. Therefore, I believe we can safely conclude the complex form is more analogous to a manipulation spell rather than an illusion spell.

This evidence leads me the ultimate conclusion that any shenanigans a mage could perform with Control Thoughts on living creatures, a technomancer could also perform with Resonance Veil except targeting devices and personas. Treat it like Jedi Mind Trick but for Matrix-connected computer systems. It is important to note however that you are limited somewhat by the built-in functions of whatever system you are trying to fool...


Examples


... which leads to my first few examples. You can't make a machine do something it isn't designed to do, and you can't make a machine do anything if it isn't connected to the Matrix. The first thing you need to do in the Matrix (either in AR or VR) is identify the surrounding icons because you can only cast Resonance Veil on devices and personas, and only those devices and personas which are currently connected and online to the Matrix expect anything to happen, which is how the illusion or manipulation (take your pick) works. Something has happened in the Matrix. Only Matrix-connected devices can be affected. Machines by and large are limited to their designed functions with some notable exceptions. The Matrix-connectivity isn't as big a problem as you might think, as in 2075 (when SR5 takes place) many things that probably shouldn't be are Matrix accessible just as many corporations today often make themselves vulnerable by making things internet accessible which shouldn't be.

*Side note: I'll be using RV in place of Resonance Veil from here on out...

  • You cannot use RV to make some arbitrary piece of electronics like a television (trid projector in SR-speak) or a light switch activate the fire alarm, because that is not their function. You can, however, use RV to make the alarm system server think it is receiving data from one of its wireless sensors consistent with a fire, thus causing the system to activate the fire alarm for you.
  • You can use RV to make an elevator's onboard wireless computer think you are traveling up when instead you are using a Magnesium torch to go down and cut through the floor to freedom, thus escaping the BBEG or from your own failure possibly in a beautiful application of misdirection.
  • You can use RV to trick anything with a purely digital locking system (modern cash registers, automated bank terminals, etcetera) so that it thinks you have proper credentials. Likewise, you could use RV to make the SIN scanners at check points or random stops think you are broadcasting a legitimate SIN; perhaps one that belongs to the nice old Korean lady who has a son that works as a VP for Ares and is the only person of asian descent who lives in the AA residence block of the local Ares corporate compound. Be creative. I don't see why this wouldn't apply to licenses too since they are tied to your SIN, but it might raise suspicion if the nice old Korean lady has a Bounty Hunting license...
  • You can use RV to make a Decker (by way of his cyberdeck) think that his overwatch score is going up too quickly. This can be a great way to mess with a Decker because they have a finite amount of time they can spend doing nefarious things in the Matrix. Technomancers on the other hand practically live in the Matrix. If a Decker thinks he is going to suffer the effects of dumpshock, link-lock, and having the physical meat space authorities alerted of his physical meat space location, then he is likely to simply jack out early to save himself and live to fight another day.
  • Likewise, you can use RV in conjunction with the complex form Tattletale to make a Decker's overwatch score go up but keep his cyberdeck (and thus its Baby Monitor program) from being any wiser. Having GOD (Grid Overwatch Division) come in and storm the BTL dealer's slum palace with an armed response team in order to catch the dealer's resident Decker for his illicit Matrix activity makes a great getaway cover if your team just happened to rob the BTL dealer moments before.
  • You can use RV to make a slot machine miraculously win the jackpot for the desperate man who needs money to pay for his daughter's operation and it spits out coins everywhere providing a nice distraction to cover an escape.
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