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Running on Italics - The Underway [Corp]


#1

Originally published at: http://stimhack.com/running-on-italics-the-underway-corp/

Discuss the latest article here.


#2

In regards to the Mumbad mishmash of flavor we might have coming down the pipe, I think it will be quite organic. The Corp ID dictates the battlefield (location of HQ imo, R&D/Archives is accessed in cyberspace), and unless we get some heavily cultured cards I don’t see any theme being lost. It’s a global fictional world, and travel seems trivial. We might have our Runners grabbing a flight to Mumbad to pick up a few connections/hardware, akin to aloof spy movies before setting up in the Near Earth Hub hotel. And of course, everything can be shipped/called.


#3

With nigh-orbit flight available to them in their era (they have a space elevator and moon colonies, after all), I assume travel in that future will be quite quick.


#4

On the Professor having contacts in the Underway - why not? It’s the information age, so why couldn’t the eccentric buddy who put together the code for (insert program here) live in the Underway?

As for Defective Brainchips, I thought is was a defective batch of chips that need to be replaced - but one that HB has only found about when you play the card. Eventually (as the current mechanic represents time passing in some way) the runner replaces theirs, closing the window of opportunity.

There’s also an interesting Mechanical/Thematic element to this pack - everything is disposable.

Tons of cards with the trash symbol, Shaper cards that uninstall themselves, a current, an Ice that only sometimes works (but is cheap) a ice where the main drawback is fragility, Drive By, Geist, Faust (which makes everthing else disposable).

The only two cards that don’t tie into this directly are the Grid and Gang Sign.


#5

What is a brainchip, anyways? I had been assuming that it was the result of a terribly invasive procedure, but maybe it’s just like a SD card for your MMI. Less “Skulljack” than “Security Chip meets Cyberfeeder.” If that’s what’s going on, then a defective batch of chips is easier to explain as a current.
(Otherwise I’m just going to take matters into my own headcanon and rechristen it “buggy firmware update.”)

And Allele Repression I think hints at something that we’ve seen come up in a few places, like Mutate, Braintrust, Fetal AI, and Genetic Resequencing: everything Jinteki does is fundamentally biological. HB has its shiny brain-taping warehouses and archived memories; Jinteki’s information infrastructure involves brains in vats and almost certainly also DNA computing. So whereas HB can just send a reclamation order down to the cerebral imaging archives, Jinteki’s archives are to be found partly in the introns of the local wildlife. (Sort of puts Crick in a whole new light, doesn’t it?)


#6

I thought Defective Brainchips was more about HB deliberately selling low quality brainchips to the “low-priority” areas like the underway in hopes of runners or someone close to them, buying the chips.

Also what does YGKTTPTSITT stand for?


#7

“You Gotta Keep That Toilet Paper Taught Son, It’s a Tender Taint.”

… maybe. I’m just guessing here, kind of going by the context. :stuck_out_tongue:


#8

You get killed tryin’ to pull that shit in this town :stuck_out_tongue:


#9

Oh yea, allele repression absolutely had to be a jinteki card, that at least is in flavour… It’s just, the effect of the card doesn’t match the art or what the name implies in the slightest. That’s our main issue here :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

If everything Jinteki does is biological, then perhaps their ICE and operations are genetically encoded in living entities. When they choose to repress the expression of some alleles, other, dormant ones will surface.

Of course, that’s serious head canon… :wink:


#11

Interestingly, the robot in Test Ground is the same one in Project Ares. They’ve completed the project, but now need some willing victims volunteers to test it out…


#12

Yeah, I’ve come around to the idea that Weyland burning down the Underway would have shocks and effects felt around the globe, in the kinds of black market economies all runners are likely to have a part in. Docklands Crackdown was pointed out as another card that has a similar effect that can make sense in the same way.

Why do the defective units not have an effect until HB “finds out about it”? Why can I, as a player, choose when to find out about these defective units at the optimal time? And in general if you want to read currents as time passing, why can I make my current permanent by locking the runner out of accesses?

That the majority of the cards are disposable is a super interesting thematic link, now that you mention it. That’s another discussion on the Underway; nothing here is built to last. Whether you’re an old researcher or a disposable gang member, the Underway is all about just making the most use of your contacts and tools and everything before they break, before the shanty walls fall down around you and you have to find a new home again…


#13

A brainchip at least has to be invasive enough that when it fails it can give you brain damage, so I’m not sure I can buy the SD card interpretation.

This idea about Jinteki being fundamentally biological… it’s neat and all, but so far I’m not sure I’ve seen much that suggests that in a more than cute-naming sense. Braintrust is brilliant—distributed disembodied sysops!—but it doesn’t lead to assuming DNA computing or that we’re storing information in the genetic code of local wildlife. (Mutate just looks like a cute name, Fetal is a pretty appropriate description of an AI-in-development, and Genetic Resequencing is about actually improving your products via reexploring their genetic code.)

I mean, why would you do that in the first place. What actual benefits does it give you? It’s an awkward as hell data format to read and write and it makes any form of update or analysis super super difficult.


#14

Love the article, as always.

I think you guys missed the mark on pachinko - I don’t think in this case the runner is getting distracted by playing pachinko - the runner is the ball in pachinko. the system sees a tagged user approaching, and it starts bouncing them around between different ports, pathways, whatever. If they don’t do anything fast it’ll eventually bounce them out of the server.

I see it as exploiting known information about the runner to knock them around - like a ball trapped in a pachinko machine!


#15

Yea, I can definitely see that being an appealing read! I just don’t think the card itself gives us enough to justify that particular reading. I’m just going to copy-paste my response from a similar suggestion on reddit:

I don’t think “bouncing them out of the server” is really enough to justify the flavour, given that looks no different to any other ETR.


#16

Talking to the wrong ICE can cause brain damage too, so brainchips needn’t require anything more invasive than whatever normally happens over the network.

[quote=“sohum, post:13, topic:5037”]
This idea about Jinteki being fundamentally biological… it’s neat and all, but so far I’m not sure I’ve seen much that suggests that in a more than cute-naming sense. Braintrust is brilliant—distributed disembodied sysops!—but it doesn’t lead to assuming DNA computing or that we’re storing information in the genetic code of local wildlife. (Mutate just looks like a cute name, Fetal is a pretty appropriate description of an AI-in-development, and Genetic Resequencing is about actually improving your products via reexploring their genetic code.)[/quote]

Oh yeah, this is super speculative. And I agree about Fetal and Mutate, I think most of the work is being done by Braintrust, Genetic Resequencing, and now, Allele Expression.
I got to that conclusion in two steps. First, Braintrust. If some of your computing (and therefore perhaps some of the contents of your HQ) is done by disembodied brains, then triggering certain memories can be a matter of regulating the expression of certain genes in those brains. That part’s easy, and we could call it a day if it weren’t for that darn rat.
And that was when I started thinking about Genetic Resequencing. Resequencing doesn’t just get you more mileage out of your Nisei clones, it also makes House of Knives better, it makes Executive Retreat better, heck, Mark Yale can even monetize a “resequenced” Utopia Fragment. That (and the mysterious Allele Repression) provided the basis for my speculation that Jinteki uses more wet- and bio-ware than even Braintrust let on.
None of which addresses your main question: what is the allele of interest doing in a rat (and not even necessarily a lab rat, but one that appears to be in a sewer)? My best guess is that storage is expensive, as is maintaining a population of research animals, but sneaking down to the sewers is free. It’s still a ridiculous reach, I know. I guess my only defense is “why else a rat?”

I think the ice may have been designed around that particular metaphor because of the way NBN often processes tags and marketing data. It’s very indirect and probabilistic. Pachinko doesn’t just identify you and strike, like Universal Connectivity Fee, it runs you and the rest of the network’s traffic through this statistical maze, subtly rigged so that any undesirable “balls” will eventually be sorted out of the server.
…I’m reaching here too :stuck_out_tongue:


#17

We see plenty of references to the corps re-purposing their products for different uses. Commercialization makes reference to turning their Ice into games, maybe Pachinko was the result of a Sysop wandering down to the Video Gaming division and getting an idea after talking with a guy who just reduced the processor load of their pachinko simulator by an order of magnitude. Combo that algorithm with the vast network of marketing data means you can re route a known intruder to any number of other servers.


#18

Remark: Dr. Dreff is mechanically closer to Awakening Center than Marcus Batty, though it’s clear that it’s inspired both.


#19

I wonder if the deal with Defective Brainchips is not that they are now defective or are now installed in runner brains, but that HB has always had backdoors into them and in the Underway is more willing exploit them because they can say that these strange deaths must be from a bad batch of defective, possibly stolen, brainchips when it’s actually ICE exploiting those backdoors because no one cares if a few Muertos gang members die.


#20

Yea, we briefly speculated in the column that it might just be that HB has a backdoor into all their chips, but that has to make you ask the question - why don’t they just always exploit their backdoor, and why does stealing an agenda turn off their backdoor (also it necessarily implies all runners have a chip installed to be exploited)?