The following is unpublished material from the Target: Matrix sourcebook
By “Swashbuckling” Sam 2402
Ahoy! The marvelous Captain Chaos sent me on a quest to investigate a new data haven that appeared on the horizon not too long ago. Against all odds, I have returned, despite merciless perils and great dangers that could not stop me reporting my findings! I present my booty to you, dear reader, so that you may know the secrets of the Round Square.
Our story begins with a pirate decker known as Double Take. Back in the heyday of 2058, ol’ DT found himself in a lucrative financial position and used it to seize control of a off-shore bank called Banco Sin Fronteras that was sliding into the waves. The bank hadn’t been able to keep up with the times, but with DT at the helm it began to reap profits through its anonymous virtual services and accounts.
> Nothing hauls in the nuyen like a blind, money-laundering, tax haven.
> The Chromed Accountant
It just so happens that DT had a fine Matrix system at his disposal that was not being used to its full potential, so he decided to fill it up. First he rang up some old pirate chums-the media pirate kind. He offered them free networking services and storage space, in return for permission to archive and market their material. As his hosts expanded into a den of pirate tridfeeds, DT made some key purchases and developed a fine archive of general paydata. As word got out, every corsair in the Caribbean checked into the place, and our own little homegrown data haven began packing in icons like sardines.
> I hear that Double Take scored a data core liberated from a Fuchi Internal Security installation during the corp war. The paydata in those databanks was the coup that pushed the Round Square into the spotlight.
> You don’t say. What dashing scoundrel pulled that job off?
> The Gingerbread Man
As 2060 rolled around, DT’s future was looking good. Then-poof!-he was gone. Before you could say “mutiny,” DT was dead and gone, and a new force was running the show. The new owners relocated the hardware and expanded the system and run it to this day.
Meet The New Boss
The new captains of the Round Square are a pair known as Mills and Siren. Siren’s a rigger-turned-decker who built a solid rep as local talent for more than five years before hooking up as DT’s sidekick. After a few too many near-death experiences in the shadows, she’s now taking on the brunt of the Round Square’s programming needs.
Ethan Mills was heading a tough little pirate crew called the Die Harts, based out of Guadalupe, before joining up with Siren. Originally he hails from Denver; word is he took to piracy to avoid some heat in the mountain zone. Mills is a mage, though he refers to himself as a technomancer because he sidelines with computer work.
> Isn’t that taking the worst of both worlds?
> Say that again after you’ve caught one of his “fireball” attack progs.
> Lance McLane
Mills and Siren are technically partners, but Mills is the data haven’s public voice. More than Siren, he seems to be the visionary steering the data haven down a certain course. Siren seems to be along for the ride-or else she’s really good at hiding her influence.
> Siren was DT’s domestic partner and helped set up the Square from day one. They had a falling out, and Siren called in Mills to help take DT out. Mills’ pirate crew hit the Square’s physical locale (St. Eustasius, I hear) and stole everything that used electricity. I’m not sure where they’ve resettled, though I’ve heard some rumors about the Lesser Antilles.
> DT survived and he’s pissed. I hear he’s tried to crash the Square several times, without any luck. Last I heard, he was hiring runners to track down the haven’s physical site and trash it good.
> Cold Soup
What’s To Know
If you ask around the seaports and shantietowns, you’ll hear that the way to access the Round Square is through Banco Sin Fronteras’ public host. Scuttlebutt sez that you need to look for a vanishing SAN or maybe a trapdoor. But the BSF host story is a ruse, used for nothing other than legit virtual transactions. The real way to find the Round Square is to find a small, unassuming UMS icon buried away in the depths of the Virgin Islands grid. This icon gets moved around now and again, and its new address is spread via word of mouth. If you don’t know someone who knows someone, it’s unlikely you’ll find the system unless you stumble across it by accident.
The Round Square consists of about ten interconnected hosts, all with a very cliché Escher-esque theme of staircases on the ceiling, doors in the floors and all that drek. Thank the waves there’s no up or down in the Matrix, is all I’ll say about it. The haven’s in a stage of constant development, so security ratings fluctuate from host to host. Most of the defenses are aimed to kick people out instead of hurt them.
> There are several backdoors in the system, put in by Double Take, which Siren and Mills haven’t discovered yet.
The Round Square focuses on pirate media. Almost every trid pirate with a Matrix connection archives his material in the Square. Aside from the old news, you can access real-time feeds of banned bloodsports, sample the wares of the copyright-violation crews or even participate in a live broadcast of some of the Carib’s home-grown pirate stations. If its banned somewhere, odds are you’ll find it in the Square.
> The Square has an entire host dedicated to paydata purloined from mainstream news sources. The bulk of it has been compiled by an otaku crew called the Seekers, who seem to have NewsNet’s archives wrapped around their fingers. A lot of the media pirates sift through the files for choice samples or leads to new stories.
> News Junkie
> Can anyone tell me why the Square has terapulses of footage shot by KSAF out of Seattle? Most of it unused?
Aside from that, the Square deals with any other data that’s profitable. If it can’t be fished out of another haven, troll through the Square. You may get lucky and hook something good.
> Given its locale, a lot of the Square’s data relates to pirate activity-the “sail-the-seas-loot-and-pillage brand of piracy, that is. Aside from rubbing virtual shoulders with real life corsairs, you’ll find good intel on shipping routes and schedules and even the occasional cargo manifest.
> The Round Square also has a good selection of magical lore, mostly compiled by the various voudounistas of the region. The reference material on Carib talismongering and talislegging is priceless.
The Round Square Rules
The Round Square is the perfect data haven for a Caribbean or cyberpirate campaign. Run by pirates for pirates, it specializes in anything that’s banned, pirated, or otherwise made illegal in some place or another. There’s a large section on shipping and smugling, as well as magical lore for the Caribbean and news from across the globe.
The Square’s hosts security ratings fluctuate from host to host due to constant development. Most of the security uses non-lethal means, sticking primarily to grey IC. Quite a bit of the available data and programming space is devoted to pirate broadcasts, both archiving and supporting them. There are illegally broadcasting trid stations throughout the Caribbean, and nearly all of them archive their material at the Square. The Square also seems to attract other obscure bits of data through it’s connections with other data havens. It is not as thorough about removing old data as some of the other data havens, however, so there’s always the chance to glean some rare tidbit from its files.
I was telling the Captain about an interesting discovery I made a few months back, and he asked me to write it up. So here’s my tale … .
I was on assignment to ghost someone’s persona as part of a contract with Mitsuhama. I followed the person around the Matrix for a week without noticing anything unusual. Then one day I trailed the icon into the host of some mom-and-pop seafood business, and bingo-my mark slipped through a trapdoor.
Naturally, I followed, expecting to hit a chokepoint or series of hidden hosts. Instead, I walked into medieval China-the Ming-dynasty era to be accurate.
It took me a sec to scan the terrain and realize I was in a PLTG. It wasn’t much of a grid as far as grids go. I could see something like fifteen or twenty host icons, designed as shrines, temples, simple dwellings and fortresses. Every icon in the grid was draped with flags, numbers and symbols, and all sorts of other ritualistic-looking drek. My sensor program was only picking up Chinese language input-luckily, it’s my native language. The scenery reminded me of a secret society initiation ceremony I’d once run surveillance on.
That’s when it hit me-I was on a private Triad grid, used by and for Triads only. As far as I can tell, at least three separate Triads use the grid. I was so intrigued, I lost track of my mark for the time being and spent the rest of my time just snooping around. I decided to spend some private time sniffing around as well. The trapdoor was only good for about a week, but I just had to go back to my surveillance and follow my mark to a new backwater host and a new trapdoor.
> Conventional street wisdom says that the Triads don’t have much of a centralized power structure. What are they doing cooperating long enough to put a private Matrix grid online? Where are they scoring the tech and expertise, and what in Dog’s name do they need it all for?
> Well, for starters, the Triads are competing for market share. With rivals like the Mafia and the Yakuza, it makes sense for the Triads to get organized and professional.
> Triad grids have actually been around for a while, in one form or another, ever since the Triads really went global. The PLTG in question doesn’t actually service every Triad in the world-even the Yaks aren’t that organized or unified. A few of them who had a strong alliance going merely pulled together the grid as a mutual resource.
> China Doll
> I know the grid and Triads in question. The secret to their cooperation is that none of the Triads involved have overlapping physical territory. The Yellow Lotus are based out of Hong Kong, the White Tigers are rooted in mainland China and the Golden Flames are settled in San Francisco. This physical distance probably keeps their relationships clean; I doubt Triads competing in the same city could cooperate enough.
> There’s more to it than that-all three are part of a massive smuggling network. The China group cultivates local warlords who harvest opium. The opium goes to the SanFran Triad for distribution. In return, the SanFran group smuggles weaponry back to the Chinese warlords. The Hong Kong group acts as middlemen.
> HK Kid
> If you want to know how the PLTG is paid for and maintained, I’ll tell ya-Wuxing. Yep, that’s right, our favorite Chinese megacorp. Wuxing is in hot and heavy with the Yellow Lotus and Eighty Eights, and probably more.
> More to the point, Wuxing uses the grid as a manipulative tool to enhance the fortunes of friendly Triads at the expense of hostile groups. If your Triad is in good standing with Wuxing, the corp will give you access to the intel and resources provided on the grid. If you don’t dance to Wuxing’s tune … well, then, no access privileges for you.
> Symbiotic corporation/crime syndicate relationships are really nothing new, just look at Aztechnology’s history. But in this instance, you’re wrong. Wuxing ain’t the power behind the scenes.
> Who is then?
> You probably won’t get an answer, Mal. The Triads are very good at making sure people keep their lips sealed. If you’re really interested, dig for yourself. You may find another corp to be involved-Tan Tien, perhaps. Or you may realize that you shouldn’t believe every post you read here.
> Snow Tiger
In my subsequent visits to the grid, I’ve had a chance to scout out what goes on there. I picked a few hosts at random for exploration, and came across gigapulses of useful data. Delivery schedules, bookkeeping records (the bookie kind as well as the accountant kind), blackmail dirt, records on Yak and Mafia (and even some rival Triad) operations and personnel, and even some resources on wujen magic. I also found the personal diary of a Chinese warlord, which provided hours of spicy reading.
I also found some less-useful but still interesting things. One of the hosts was in fact a virtual mahjong parlor, used both for gambling and for private meets. Another host was dedicated to operating a BTL factory that was busily churning out Kong Chips like crazy.
> The files kept on the competing syndicates are quite useful. They do tend to run short on data about the Seoulpa Rings, though-most of the Rings are strictly local affairs, and collating information about them is less valuable than about the bigger syndicates.
The grid’s security designers seemed to have a fondness for sparky and in-your-face blaster IC. I’ve also run into some psychotropic black-the frenzy variant. Most of the IC is relatively unsophisticated, but still plenty nasty.
Typical Triad Security Sheaf
10 Scout-9 with trap Crippler (binder)-6
16 Probe-10 with trap Tar Pit-8
20 Passive Alert, Security Deckers, Blaster-10
23 Scout-10 with trap Sparky-8
26 Trace-10 with trap Blaster-8
30 Construct-12 (Sparky-10, Blaster-8, Trace-6)
34 Active Alert, Blaster-10
38 Psychotropic (Frenzy) Black IC-10
41 Psychotropic (Frenzy) Black IC-12
Triads Online Rules
The Triads Online grids are just like the Triads in the real world: deliberately mysterious, dangerous, and not all that wiz on uninvited guests. Still, a decker never knows when she’ll need that one little piece of information that only the Triads have. The Triads Online grid is the place to go when you just have to know, and a perfect place for gamemasters to use to lure characters into a storyline.
Gamemasters are invited to use their own discretion when determining who actually runs and maintains the Triads Online grid. If the gamemaster decides that Wuxing is behind it, then it is perfect to use as a tool to keep the Triads in their corporate pocket, as well as coordinating the groups against Wuxing’s enemies. As for the personalities that a character might expect to find there, those would be the same as in the meat world: corp suits, smugglers, gamblers, and the power players of China. For more information on Triads, see p. 51, Underworld Sourcebook. For information on Wuxing and its involvement with the Triads, see p. 107, Corporate Download.
Entrance into the Triads Online grid is not easy to come by. The SANs leading to the grid are hidden behind trap doors on discreet Triad-friendly hosts. They are moved randomly on a weekly basis, and the only way to predict where they will show next is to ask a Triad member.
The language of choice in the Triads Online grid is Chinese. At the gamemaster’s discretion, characters who don’t speak Chinese or who lack Chinese language sensor translation (essentially a Chinese linguasoft) may suffer a -3 Target Number Modifier while in the system. This language barrier along with the fact that the Triads rarely do anything in a straightforward fashion makes searches more difficult. Apply a +1 Search Modifier to any searches performed on the grid.
Real Name/Aliases: Steven Ridgemont/Scotty, Dr. Bones
Age/Nationality/Metatype/Gender: 43/UCAS/Caucasian Dwarf/Male
Distinguishing Physical Features: None
Area of Operation: Denver, UCAS
Psychological Traits: Stubborn, creative, control-oriented, individualistic
Steven Ridgemont was born in Texas in 2018. A dwarf from birth, he grew up something of a social outcast among his school-age peers and spent much of his time working with his computer. As a boy, he showed a remarkable capacity for programming, teaching himself programming languages in his spare time and writing his own programs. As a teenager, he designed and wrote the “Factor One” encryption software program, which he gave away on Matrix open source sites. His work drew the attention of Fuchi, and at the age of fifteen he sold the program to Fuchi for a substantial sum of money. Ridgemont used the money to fund his education, as well as starting his own company following his graduation.
In 2038, Ridgemont founded FTL Technologies. Still working closely with Fuchi, he designed and wrote persona code for Fuchi cyberdecks, as well as creating the Warpdrive programming language. The company quickly became known for its high-quality programs and attention to detail. In 2052, Fuchi made an offer to buy FTL. Ridgemont rejected the offer, beginning a series of increasingly hostile relations between FTL and Fuchi that resulted in a forced Fuchi buyout of FTL in 2055. Ridgemont was offered a position with Fuchi America but chose instead to resign.
That same year, Ridgemont moved to the Denver Front Range Free Zone and started over, doing what he did best. The innovative programs that he had based his reputation on quickly attracted investors, and he built a new company, called Warpdrive Systems. They released their first product, the “TransWarp” telecommunications suite, to rave reviews from the industry.
> I hear they’ve got something big on the back burner, to top even TransWarp.
> And that would be … ?
> Well, picture using a maser, except using the earth’s natural magnetic field for the power for the hookups instead of an electric grid. A magnetic interface. It’s gonna be big, I’m tellin ya.
> Yeah. And those blinky lights that people used to wear on their shoes were hip, too. Lemme know when you cash your next reality check.
In 2057, Ridgemont was the beneficiary of a large bequest of money from Dunkelzahn’s will, giving him the capital he needed to expand his fledgling company. Warpdrive Systems began hiring bright new programmers and designers from the top universities, often luring prospects away from Fuchi.
Steven Ridgemont took a special pleasure in the breakup of Fuchi only a few years afterward. He arranged to buy back many of FTL’s old assets cheaply, winning back what he’d lost to Fuchi’s buyout. Shortly after the remainder of Fuchi reorganized as Novatech, CEO Richard Villiers personally approached Ridgemont regarding a strategic alliance between the two companies. Mr. Villiers revealed his investment in Warpdrive Systems, and has, at least for now, asked for no special treatment. Ridgemont has accepted, and is becoming a close business associate of ours.
> Or at least, that’s what they want to think.
> Ridgemont spends a lot of his time in Shadowland nodes, almost always hanging out in the social areas and virtual bars. Seems like he knows everybody worth knowing, as I’ve never seen him go more than a couple of minutes of conversation without someone saying hello.
> He’s also not a bad fixer, when it comes to that. His services are pretty much solely in the areas of information and Johnson services, both for himself and hooking runners up with other Johnsons. Still, he’s worth trying when you’re hard up for cash and you’ve got a decent reputation.
> Wiz, free advertising. You can’t ask for a better recommendation than the words of a satisfied customer.
Ridgemont’s personality profile suggests deeply seated feelings of inferiority, causing him to overachieve in any forum in which he feels his abilities are being challenged. This behavior, combined with his protective feelings toward his company, give us useful leverage should it become necessary. His skills at attracting and directing freelance operatives make him exceptionally useful to us, especially when combined with his formidable programming skills.
> Well. Can’t say I wasn’t expecting something like this. Cap, I owe you one. You got any ideas on how you’d like to collect, let me know.
Steven Ridgemont Rules
Prime Runners Rating: Superior
Professionalism Rating: Semi-trained
Notes: Because of Steven’s contacts and status as the head of his own corporation, all of his cyberware and computer gear is cutting-edge.
Steven Ridgemont is a Matrix socialite of the first water, one of the only of his kind. He’s lived on both sides of the shadows, from corporate wonderboy to CEO, from wide-eyed runner wanna-be to experienced decker. As a result, there isn’t really anybody worth knowing that he doesn’t know. His administrative and organizational skills paired with his knowledge of the shadier side of the street have combined to make him one of the more eclectic fixers out there. If a team is looking for a slightly more Matrix-savvy connection, Ridgemont is a good solution.
Ridgemont is often found in the Nexus, but he spends an inordinate amount of time at Seattle Shadowland as well. He is normally in the social areas and the virtual bars where runners gather. Aside from being an extremely skilled programmer, a corporate CEO and an occassional shadowrunner on the side, Ridgemont is branching into doing some work as a fixer. He specializes in Matrixware and information, but he also does a healthy business in Johnson work too. He not only hires runner teams personally for his own little tasks, he also acts as a go-between for other corporate interests, usually smaller, independantly owned companies who aren’t that familiar with shadow operations.
Steven is highly intelligent, funny, charming, and everything that someone with that much money and skill should be (but so rarely is). He has a reputation as being a genuinely good person with a Robin Hood streak a mile wide. Still, he’s nothing if not on the ball, and those who underestimate him usually live to regret it. He is known for his fairness, but he will flatly refuse to hire any characters with a prejudice against metahumans.