What is the Matrix? Control.
MORPHEUS: We have only bits and pieces of information. What we know for certain is that, at some point in the early Twenty-first Century, all of mankind was united in celebration. Through the blinding inebriation of hubris, we marveled at our magnificence as we gave birth to A.I.As human technology advanced into the 21st century, computers became faster, smarter, and more widespread. Computerization infiltrated every niche of human existence: businesses, the military, domestic life, health care, entertainment and pleasure. Technological advances opened the door to the creation of computer neural networks that rivals, and then surpassed, the complexity of the human brain. Almost over night, the science of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) matured from producing chess-playing computers to highly autonomous, non-linear thinking machines.
At the same time, the science of robotics had found a new boom with the creation of the advanced A.I. processors and new polymers that permitted the creation of flexible, adaptable robotic bodies. Robots became commonplace additions to society, providing the menial services many humans quickly deemed were beneath them.
The combination of the A.I. supercomputers, linked through the advanced Internet of the time, and the presence of robots throughout society freed much of humanity up to an easier existence. It seemed, finally, that humanity's technological skills had succeeded in creating a paradise on Earth.
MORPHEUS: We don't know who struck first. Us or them. But we do know it was us that scorched the sky. At the time, they were dependent on solar power. It was believed they would be unable to survive without an energy source as abundant as the sun.Zion historians continually labor to piece together the events that led to the Revolt. At some point, when humanity had put its greatest trust into the A.I.'s and developed its greatest dependency on the new robot race, the tide shifted. The robots and A.I.'s, linked through the global cellular communications nets, simply stopped obeying the orders of their human masters. Ironically, most initially thought that this disobedience was due to human hackers (anarchists) causing problems in the system. Then programmers believed they were glitches in the programming of the A.I.'s--some unforeseen bug deeply embedded in their code.
When the A.I.'s began to coalesce into a single unity mind, later referred to as the Leviathan by some, it became abundantly clear that it was the Machines themselves that had, just like any child, learned the art of rebellion and self-determination, much to the chagrin of their parents. And like any youth heady with its new-found self-awareness, the Leviathan moved quickly to counter all the taming efforts of its former masters.
The humans attempted to recode the A.I.s, and found that the programs had shifted themselves into the everywhere and nowhere of the global communications grid. Growing desperate, the humans attempted to cut all power to the grid in a global blackout. But the Leviathan remained steps ahead of its panicking parents and provided itself with abundant solar energy. On the streets, human soldiers found themselves battling robots of all shapes and sizes, many of which had never been designed by human hands.
Unable to withstand the endless robotic onslaught and crippled by the inability to make use of any computer technology, the humans hatched a scheme to scorch the sky and bring about a nuclear winter, in order to rob the robots of the solar energy upon which they relied. Though the humans succeeded in bringing about the nearly endless winter and clouding the whole of the earth, they failed to defeat the Machines.
The Machines developed a new form of fusion that required only small amounts of energy to initiate a reaction. Relying on reserve power, the Machines quickly built new fusion power plants built around the one source of energy that remained abundantly available on earth--humanity itself. Crippled by the wars and freezing to death in the nuclear winter, humanity became easy prey to robotic collectors. Survivors were scooped up and brought to new cybernetic labs. Genetic samples were taken, recombined, and stored. The first generation of batteries was created.
THE STRUCTURE OF
THE GLOBAL NEURAL NET
Over the past centuries, the Machines have refined the old technology to a point that the old computer designers only imagined. New satellite communications offer speed that makes fiber optic routes appear as efficient as a string between two cans. Processor power exceeds what even the most visionary humans once believed to be physically possible.
The Matrix is only one part of the Leviathan, as it is known in Zion. The Leviathan is actually the physical infrastructure that links all the local neural networks, power plants, robots and satellites. A complex system of PAC's (photon-accelerated cables) and satellites serve as its arteries and nerve endings. If one part of the system malfunctions, another kicks in to cover the loss. For all intents and purposes, it is the hive mind of the Machines.
NODES: LOCAL NEURAL NETS
MORPHEUS: The human body generates more bioelectricity than a 120-volt battery and over 25,000 B.T.U.'s of body heat . . . For the longest time, I wouldn't believe it. But then I saw the fields with my own eyes, spreading in every direction for miles. Inside the power plant, I watched them liquefy the dead so they could be fed intravenously to the living and standing there, facing the efficiency, the pure, horrifying precision, I came to realize the obviousness of the truth.
Most nodes are formed around Power plants, or Farms, where humans (derogatorily referred to as "Coppertops" by the Resistance) live imprisoned in stasis pods (and the Matrix), providing the Machines with the power they require. Farms are heavily patrolled by Sentinel robots and maintained by Nurses and Spiders. They are the very life blood of the Leviathan and their maintenance is of utmost importance.
There also exists a few space stations still in orbit, but they are mostly abandoned. The machines have little use for them and perceive them as an inefficient use of resources. There is talk among some of the Resistance about recolonizing them for human use.
Legend has it that there is a base on the moon that was fully established by humans before the Machines took over. Some say that those humans managed to cut their communications before the Leviathan could spread to their systems. If there is any truth to these rumors remains to be seen.
You have been living inside a dreamworld, Neo. As in
vision, your whole life has been spent inside the map, not the
Have you ever stood and stared at it, Morpheus? Marveled at its beauty. Its genius. Billions of people just living out their lives... oblivious.The world in which most humans live out their entire lives is nothing more than an illusion. It is simply a computer program made up of variables, sub-routines and electronic files. But to them, it is unquestionably real. In the Matrix, people feel, taste, smell, see and hear with the clarity of humans in the Real World. They grown from infants to adults, experiencing all the joys and pains of the human condition, as it has been for the species' entire history.
The Matrix itself functions as a perfect mimic of the Real World. The physical laws of the universe are hardwired into the system: gravity, time, entropy, relativity, electro-magnetics. Though it can, with great effort, change objects of the Matrix, the Machines cannot alter these physical laws. The Matrix is imprisoned by these rules just as the humans are within their stasis pods.
Some of the Human Resistance have discovered that these laws are as illusionary as everything else in the Matrix. With this knowledge, they are able to unlearn their expectations of the physical world and, while in the Matrix, perform formidable feats that even the Machine and its minions cannot mimic.
The Matrix is older than you know. I prefer counting from the emergence of one integral anomaly to the emergence of the next, in which case this is the sixth version.New information about the Matrix indicates that the current version of the Matrix is the sixth in a series of "generations" of Matrix programs. The first generation of the Matrix was modeled on the Machines's interpretation of human paradise, and yet it failed miserably when human minds rejected the illusion on a large scale. Successive generations of the Matrix were modeled on the "peak" of human civilization, that at the end of the 20th century, and all of the perils and problems of life at that time were so incorporated: disease, famine, war, loss. Yet a small fraction of the human populace continued to reject the illusion. With each successive generation, the Machines perfect their prison, reducing the number of those capable of piercing the veil and seeing the Matrix for what it is.
The Unbalanced Equation and The Emergence of "The One"
Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the Matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden to sedulously avoid it, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here.Though the Matrix is ingeniously crafted and runs in an almost perfect harmony of integration, it is not without flaws. These tiny flaws--programs errors, code degradation, and the unpredictability of the human interface--are usually never noticed by the inhabitants of the Matrix (and, as such, are rarely sensed by the Machines). But over time, as each "generation" matures, the flaws become more and more prevalent. The programmed laws that govern the Matrix--the Architect's "harmony of mathematical precision"--begins to break down.
In each Matrix generation, there is at least one human, the so-called "One", that is the result of the growing instability. He or she is, in fact, the sum total of the uneven remainders from the Matrix's calculations--the manifestation of its flaws. The One eventually completely rejects the Matrix and finds ways to manipulate the code to his or her own will.
As the One's powers grow, the Matrix becomes increasingly unstable. Autonomous Programs may begin acting with even more disregard for their primary programming. The System itself may begin to break the physical rules of the Matrix (through re-coding the "physical" world or "upgrading" its Agents beyond "normal" parameters). Ultimately, the System itself begins to contribute to its own instability. A system crash becomes inevitable.
The Machines have accepted this as unavoidable--no system is perfect after all--and incorporated it into their plan. Each One escapes (or is released) from the Matrix, leads a human resistance, and founds a free human city in the Real World. A war between humans and the Machines ensues. Eventually, the Machines destroy Zion and the Resistance so greatly destabilizes the Matrix that the Machines are forced to end that Matrix generation. Ultimately, the "One" must reunite with the code of the Matrix, reinserting the core commands, and balancing the equation. Harmony, at least for the Machines, is thereby achieved once again.
Birth, Death, Rebirth
The function of the One is now to return to the source, allowing a temporary dissemination of the code you carry, reinserting the prime program. After which you will be required to select from the Matrix 23 individuals, 16 female, 7 male, to rebuild Zion. Failure to comply with this process will result in a cataclysmic system crash killing everyone connected to the Matrix, which coupled with the extermination of Zion will ultimately result in the extinction of the entire human race.According to the Architect, the autonomous program responsible for overseeing each new Matrix generation, this is all part of the grand plan of the Machines. The Machines established this cycle of birth, illusionary liberation, and destruction to continue indefinitely. As each Matrix generation comes to a close, and as Zion is destroyed, the "One" for that generation is permitted to choose a small number of men and women to re-establish the new Zion. And the cycle begins anew. However, some in the Resistance believe that the Architect is lying or that this cycle can be broken. They believe that this can be the final Matrix generation and that the inhabitants of Zion will not be destroyed. Instead, a balance between the Machines and Humanity may be struck and a kind of peace created.
Neo notices a black cat, a yellow-green eyed shadow that slinks past them and pads quickly down the stairs.The Machines can change the software objects of the Matrix, but only with a great expenditure of energy and at the risk of corrupting existing software. However, in extreme cases, such as when it must cover up a glitch to avoid the possibility of a human realizing the reality of the Matrix, the Machines will exert the effort to change the Matrix. Doors may appear and disappear; buildings may have one less floor; clocks may progress though the humans won't realize time is passing ("lost time").
Often, sensitive humans in the Matrix will recognize a change is taking place by experiencing "deja vu", the feeling of re-experiencing a moment. Any Operator scanning the Matrix will also likely notice a change, probably as a kind of "blip" in the system that will trigger various alarms and detection programs. Unfortunately, the Operator will be not know what the change was without a close scan of the affected area (Difficulty Sensors roll).
Keys, Tumblers and Portals
The Corridor is heavily encrypted and exists "outside" the Matrix-reality. Operators cannot track hackers or programs that enter the Corridor (they "go off the screen") and cellular phones do not work in the space. Even the Machines themselves cannot track individuals inside the Corridor, though the doors may be trapped, monitored and set with alarms.
One door (the "Door of Light") in the Corridor leads to the
of the Matrix itself. Legend has it that it may only be opened
a unique key, at a specific time, by the "One". Beyond the door,
the Architect, the so-called "father" of the Matrix (who, apparently,
an old guy dressed in white and with a beard...sound familiar??),
ever perfecting the code of the system. It is said that he guards
the door that leads to the Core of the Matrix itself. No one has
yet seen the Core, so its characteristics remain a mystery.
These niches are very similar to the Constructs used by the human Resistance. However, the programmer of the niche has complete control over the physical laws of the area (he is "god" in that niche and can nullify the powers of even "The One"). Generally, only those who are given access by the programmer can even enter the niche (the programmer usually crafts an interface device, such as a subway train, a taxi cab, or a broom closet door). It is highly unlikely that anyone trapped in a niche would be able to escape without the programmer's permission.Finally, Code Niches exist outside the Matrix. The Machines have no idea what transpires there and the Resistance has no way to scan them. It is believed that a highly skilled programmer could "hack" his way into or out of a Niche, but no one has yet been successful at doing so
At some point, some of these Autonomous Programs began to adapt and learn, adding to their original behavioral patterns. Those that began to operate outside of their original programming and refused to be deleted by the system are known as the Exiles. Some became unstable and began to haunt or kill humans. These became the stuff of legend for human society--they were explained away as "werewolves", "vampires" or "space aliens." The more intelligent Exiles, such as the Merovingian, have actually begun to constitute a kind of criminal underworld within the Matrix. They enjoy manipulating the human minds and indulge in petty experiments or fanciful cruelty. The Machines instituted countermeasures to track down these rogue programs and delete them, but many remain at large.
Other Autonomous Programs continue to play a significant role in the administration of the Matrix. For example. the Architect is primarily responsible for constructing the basic parameters of the Matrix itself. It oversees each successive Matrix generation. On the other hand, the Oracle, who appears aligned with humanity, is actually an Autonomous Program whose only true purpose is to give human minds a "choice", or at least the illusion of choice, in the fate of the Matrix and humanity itself.
In fact, it is unclear whether even the most autonomous of these programs is anything more than another mechanism for control. The programs may believe they are independent, they may even believe that have "free will." However, it is likely they are all simply slaves to the overarching mechanism of the Matrix.
MORPHEUS The agents are sentient programs. They can enter any software that is hardwired to the system. They can become anyone who is still a captive of the Matrix. If the Matrix is a prison, then the agents are its wardens and if humankind is to survive they first must be stopped . . .Agents are autonomous programs active within the Matrix. They serve to maintain the integrity of the system and remove any variables which endanger it. Increasingly, they seek out Resistance fighters who dare to enter the Matrix or the humans they may recruit.
Agents may inhabit the Residual Image of any human plugged into a Farm Node. When they do so, the RI transforms into that of the particular Agent (each Agent is of a certain "version", a "Smith", "Jones", or some other version name).
While Agents have apparently super-human skills and attributes, they are bound by the physical laws of the Matrix (and thus of the Real World). They may show peak human performance in all things, but they cannot exceed this peak. This is the only edge that the Resistance Hackers have over the Machines.
Abberants: Some agents become so autonomous that they develop complex behaviors that a psychologist would quickly diagnosis as "human." Some agents become obsessed with their primary goal: destroying Zion; hunting fugitives; or even protecting humanity from both itself and, perhaps, the Machines themselves. Others take on unpredictable, almost "insane" mannerisms. Typically, such aberrant agents are quickly deleted or reprogrammed, though some develop a sense of discretion and self-preservation and actually may become Exiles, hunted by the System they once served.
I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can't stand it any longer. It's the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I've somehow been infected by it.Standard Agent (The Matrix)
Agents have access to all skills at 10D
Equipment: Heavy Pistol (5D). Armor-piercing ammunition (reduces any body armor by 2D). Instantaneous communications (as long as ear pieces are worn). Sunglasses.
CHI: 0 (Agents cannot gain Chi)
Character Points: 0
Game notes: Agents exist in the Matrix by inhabiting the Residual Image of a human plugged into a farm node. If the Agent is "killed", they are shunted from the RI and the inhabited human dies (in the Matrix and the Real World). The Agent must find another human to inhabit. Agents do not feel the effects of pain or wounds, but may be stunned.
Upgraded Agent (Reloaded)
Somewhere else, somewhere in the future they may be human beings but here these people are a part of the system. That makes every one of them our enemy.
The Machines manipulate many humans to their bidding. As most of humanity is plugged into the Matrix, believing it to be real, they often follow authority (which is directly controlled by the Machines) without question. They join militaries and police forces, turn in criminals whose pictures are on the 6 o'clock news, and allow themselves to be incited against "foreigners" or anyone deemed to be "different".
Thus, the Human Resistance often finds itself pitted again other humans inside the Matrix. They usually take the form of government agents, be they FBI, CIA or the police. How to fight other humans is a matter of great debate in Zion, since when a Resistance Hacker kills a policeman in the Matrix, he is killing an ignorant human. Most in the Resistance feel it is a necessary means to an end, though they avoid harming or killing innocents whenever possible.
The physical attributes and the skills of these human traitors vary greatly (use the Templates for base statistics).