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There's a lot wrong with the Matrix chapter in SR5. Many things are too vague, some things are simply omitted, some things don't work in ways any slightly familiar with computing can understand, and basically there's a LOT of frustration in running a decker or Technomancer in SR5, to the point that I won't run the game with those characters anymore.

I noticed recently that the Data Trails book has been finally been released, which I was looking forward to very much before I became jaded with SR5's Matrix woes. Does Data Trails do anything to improve the state of the Matrix rules, or does it just pile new options onto a wobbly base? Part of me really wants to buy it, but I have basically zero confidence that it will ever see use at my tables.

In particular, does it answer these questions:

There are certainly more questions I have, but these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head (and with the help of the Similar Questions sidebar).

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please note I'm not asking for the answers to the bulleted questions, as that would be asking you to read me the book so I don't have to buy it. I'm just asking if those questions are answered in the book, because each "Yes" there would certainly increase my faith that the book will "fix" the SR5 Matrix. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Jul 7 '15 at 12:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Patta thank you anyway. I'm hoping someone with the book can help me decide. One of my players refuses to consider playing anything but a hacker, so Data Trails may sorta decide whether or not I'll ever dust off SR5 again. \$\endgroup\$ – gatherer818 Jul 7 '15 at 13:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ note that I meant to say "can't take a look at my Data Trails atm". I have read the book and own it ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Patta Jul 7 '15 at 13:23
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No, no, no, no, no, yes-ish-but-not-really. Data Trails offers some qualities, some forms, some echoes, more equipment and ways to mod them, new Matrix actions, some GM guides, a summary of the rules that offers nothing new, and a combat example. It offers some excellent info, but nothing that clarifies those rules.

The ones yes comes in a sidebar: Hacking groups have lifestyles assigned to them, and in a sidebar it explains what sort of host you can expect that group to have based on assigned lifestyle. As a GM, I would interpret this as being available for a player/group, but there isn't any RAW that explains how it would work, etc.

I've only read through it once, so I could be forgetting or missing something. I'm a third of the way on my second read.

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No.

A small number of new options are added (~20 pages worth) and a lot of super hazy talking is done about the matrix with lots of 'kewl' formatting and fiction inserts, none of which is above the level of 'getting together with your gaming friends and kibbitzing over a few beers'.

It is not a product which clarifies the matrix rules in any manner. If you want to run things with matrix stuff in sr5, my advice is to simply create a houserules document answering those questions for your group. It's sub-par, but it's what you will get for the foreseeable future.

I very much doubt any future products made by Catalyst will have clearer matrix rules or a clearer view of what the matrix is.

Additionally, you'll find that for anything but the most min/maxed characters, the dice pools and amount of rolling will result in dead deckers or defeated hacks far more often than not. Rewriting portions of the matrix chapter to more accurately reflect the hacking dice pools you expect in your game will likely solve many of the difficulties you are having.

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All the above questions except the last one have been answered by the core book.

Data Trails does give an idea about how the hosts are grown and at least in fluff hints on how to obtain one. It does not offer a pricing table though so it will be up to GM.

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