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Old 02-10-2010, 08:17 PM   #11
David Johnston2
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

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Originally Posted by lexington View Post
But these two will only work once because then you're in the database.
Or not. It depends on the justification for your Zero'd status for one thing. If you are Zero'd because you, or a Patron, or mysterious magical forces erased the records of your existence or physically transformed you into a person who can't be connected to your past, then there's no reason why it can't happen again. It'll be a lot easier now that we are only talking about one entry in a file instead of a whole past life. The spies failing to notice that you are someone important is not a reason why they would put you in their files and even if you have given yourself away it isn't a reason why they'd put that information out there for everyone else to get.

And even if you now have an entry somewhere that can't be eradicated, they still can't necessarily connect it up with anything. They still only have the information that you have given them. Nothing else. If you are careless and obvious then you'll eventually build up a substantial new presence in people's records, but that's the same as killing your ally or using your Extra Life, or ruining your Good Reputation.
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:20 PM   #12
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post

Yes, this is the fundamental logical problem with Zeroed. You can't [stay] zeroed and do anything that requires an identity, not even with a "false" ID, because information about that false ID would then be on file and linked to you. If you are zeroed you can't hold a legal job (no taxpayer ID or proof of immigration status, not that you'd have many offers given you can produce no proof of prior employment or education that might qualify you for anything), cash a check, buy or rent a place to live, enroll in a school, get married.... If you have no family or friends, live in a ditch and make a living doing illegal jobs for cash, you might be able to stay zeroed for a while.
Nobody gets Zeroed for their character because they intend to play a 9 to 5er living in the suburbs. And I rented a place for 4 years without showing anyone any identification.
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:57 PM   #13
Langy
 
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

Zeroed works very well for characters that can change their appearance and other biometrics in a modern setting. If you can alter your face, voice, fingerprints, etc at will, then it doesn't matter how many times one of your identities gets into a database - you can always use another one and there'll be nothing linking the two together.
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:05 PM   #14
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

From what I've seen in Shadowrun, Zeroed there is worth about -10 points, and it's taken primarily as a show of manliness. Keeping yourself from getting assigned a criminal SIN is at least as hard as keeping your crimes from being assigned to your regular SIN. Getting blanked does let you buy off any Dependents, but if your family is some random gang from the Barrens, that's not a big deal in the first place.

And once one source has assigned something, everybody has it. It's promptly available via Equifax, Google, etc. This is a setting where "high network security" means "we added a lot of firewalls and such, but we weren't crazy enough to actually disconnect it". The main difficulty in getting blanked all over again is finding all the databases that duplicate the information, not a matter of how many details are in that record.

I don't think that's particularly different for most cyberpunk settings.

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Originally Posted by Langy View Post
Zeroed works very well for characters that can change their appearance and other biometrics in a modern setting.
There's a vast difference between a character who once hired a skilled hacker to blank them, and someone who can effectively re-blank themselves on command, though. It's like the difference between Alternate Form and Morph. Zeroed is supposed to be the Alternate Form version, so if the Morph version should cost 10 points, that's the wrong cost for Zeroed.
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:22 PM   #15
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

Zeroed is a very temporary advantage for people who don't have preternatural means of maintaining it, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a very real social advantage <at times> to have no viable record if you ALSO have a dependent who you don't want to be endangered by your activities. No enemy who encounters you the first time will know about your disadvantages, or weaknesses, any special allergies you might have, or any special tricks you have up your sleeve to defend yourself. That is very useful, if temporary, but when it naturally expires the GM should instruct you to reinvest those points, not simply take them away for the advantage working like it is supposed to (say by rolling it into several alternate identities).

However consider a more useful (in a supernatural setting) COSMIC variant of Zeroed where you CANNOT be recorded or those records have a strange tendency to become corrupt or go missing, memories of you fade after you have been encountered, and there are no concrete records of your species specific racial weaknesses (basically by making the ability cosmic no non-cosmic method of removing the zeroed advantage will work, so the natural conclusion for that is that the PC in question always maintains the benefits of being zeroed for whatever reason). For ~30 points that's a very cool feature to stick on some sort of subterfuge based magical creature or monster template. Even in a realistic setting a government agent with a particularly adept team behind him/her might be able to justify the cosmic variant of zeroed due to a particularly active team who scrub government databases and newspapers to prevent any information about the PC from getting out.
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:33 PM   #16
Rocket Man
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

Leave us not forget Men in Black, one of the ultimate examples of Zeroed in action:

"From now on you'll have no identifying marks of any kind. You'll not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You're a rumor, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don't exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name. Silence your native tongue. You're no longer part of the System. You're above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We're "them." We're "they." We are the Men in Black. " -- Agent K
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:38 PM   #17
Rocket Man
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
Nobody gets Zeroed for their character because they intend to play a 9 to 5er living in the suburbs. And I rented a place for 4 years without showing anyone any identification.
Good point. And to address one of the other concerns, there's still a number of states that recognize common-law marriage -- no formal license, just living together for a number of years and identifying yourself as husband and wife.
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:05 PM   #18
David Johnston2
 
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

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Originally Posted by Darekun View Post

And once one source has assigned something, everybody has it. It's promptly available via Equifax, Google, etc. This is a setting where "high network security" means "we added a lot of firewalls and such, but we weren't crazy enough to actually disconnect it". The main difficulty in getting blanked all over again is finding all the databases that duplicate the information, not a matter of how many details are in that record.
If everything is that networked, then it ought to be just as easy to find all those databases as it is for the information to get everywhere.

Quote:
There's a vast difference between a character who once hired a skilled hacker to blank them, and someone who can effectively re-blank themselves on command, though.
The difference being the other guy bought morph while the other guy needs to call up his hacker friend again.
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Old 02-10-2010, 11:45 PM   #19
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
There was a story by Roger Zelazny called "My Name is Legion"
It describes zeroed as an advantage very well.
Without giving details away the guy would erase and implant any records through a very effective back door.
I've always assumed that this story* was a major inspiration** for the Zeroed advantage, although that's pure speculation on my part.

Does anyone know of other pre-RPG uses of the concept?

And as Refplace points out, it wasn't about not being in the database, it was about having the ability to alter your own records in the database easily.

Which would just be a manifestation of Contacts or Patron or some other advantage.


*Actually a fixup of three stories if I recall correctly. The first was published in 1969.

** The idea is also in the Woody Allen movie Sleeper but not consistently applied. Of course, as it is a farcical comedy, this doesn't hurt the movie in my opinion.
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Old 02-11-2010, 12:07 AM   #20
Edges
 
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Default Re: The cost of Zeroed

You bring up some good issues.

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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
There's nothing about being Zeroed that that keeps you from carrying ID.
Right. But don't you need Alternate Identity to have a valid ID? If you get checked once and they run your ID, they may discover that it's fake and arrest you. As soon as they take you in, they take pictures, fingerprints, and whatever they do in that game world and now you're not zeroed. The advantage seems to make all kinds of security check points a hastle.
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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
When the cops run the fingerprints at the scene of a crime, they will not find a match.
This is a classic benefit of Zeroed and it's a good one. Although it can be used up pretty quick if the prints match your last crime (unless you can change your prints in which case, you don't need this aspect of Zeroed anyway). Also, it's not that irregular for the authorities to not have a match. I have no reason to believe that my prints are in any database for example.
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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
When you get on the plane, you will never be on the No-Fly List.
This assumes you could get on the plane in the first place with your fake ID. These days, that may be difficult. I guess if you had a good disguise skill and a good fake ID (from Patron, Contact, Forgery skill, Wealth, or whatever), it would work out. But you could do that without being Zeroed.
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Originally Posted by David Johnston2 View Post
Or not. It depends on the justification for your Zero'd status for one thing. If you are Zero'd because you, or a Patron, or mysterious magical forces erased the records of your existence or physically transformed you into a person who can't be connected to your past, then there's no reason why it can't happen again. It'll be a lot easier now that we are only talking about one entry in a file instead of a whole past life.
Cool. This makes the Advantage much more valuable. But it doesn't seem to be the default that you keep getting bailed out (just based on the RAW entry). Do you need additional Advantages (like Patron or Rank or something) to benefit from this or do you go with Cosmic Zeroed as starslayer suggests [30]?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Langy View Post
Zeroed works very well for characters that can change their appearance and other biometrics in a modern setting. If you can alter your face, voice, fingerprints, etc at will, then it doesn't matter how many times one of your identities gets into a database - you can always use another one and there'll be nothing linking the two together.
Sure. But in this case, why bother getting Zeroed at all? I guess if if you changed to some default prints if you got knocked out or zapped by the "anti-power" gun and then they checked your prints. So yea, I can see some advantage there. The munchkin in me says to spent the 10 points on the powers instead so that you don't have default prints, etc. But I guess the GM can put a stop to that.
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Originally Posted by Rocket Man View Post
"From now on you'll have no identifying marks of any kind. You'll not stand out in any way. Your entire image is crafted to leave no lasting memory with anyone you encounter. You're a rumor, recognizable only as deja vu and dismissed just as quickly. You don't exist; you were never even born. Anonymity is your name. Silence your native tongue. You're no longer part of the System. You're above the System. Over it. Beyond it. We're "them." We're "they." We are the Men in Black. " -- Agent K
Awesome. This is a great Patron that enforces and maintains this status (through administrative and ultra-tech means). Plus, IIRC they removed their prints, etc. This could be a value to the advantage... if you were unable to accidentally leave evidence that leads back to you.

I guess what it boils down to is first,
How easy is it to stay Zeroed?
Do you need other advantages (Patron, hacker Contact, whatever) or will the Zeroed alone keep you covered and for how long? Of course it's all up to what the GM feels is good for the game world. But what, if anything, was the original intention?
and second,
Do the benefits of Zeroed out weigh the hastles by 10 points?
If the authorities expect me to have a history and I have none, they will suspect me and likely be a problem to me as soon as they find out I have no history.

A new question that may be off topic (as it doesn't directly regard "cost") is, what exactly are the game mechanics for the resistant to supernatural detection that Zeroed offers? Are you immune? Is there only an effect if some kind of name magic rules are being used?

Last edited by Edges; 02-11-2010 at 12:11 AM.
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