When the Matrix was first built there was a man born inside that had the ability to change what he wanted, to remake the Matrix as he saw fit. It was this man that freed the first of us and taught us the secret of the war; control the Matrix and you control the future.For decades, the human Resistance believed that the founder of Zion was a man that had been born in the Matrix. This man, known as Prine, had the ability to see the prison for what it was and alter its code at will. Prine freed other humans from the Matrix and organized the Resistance. Prine taught the other Resistance fighters what he could, though no one could match his ability to control the Matrix.
When Prine died, the Oracle prophesied that there would come another with the ability to overcome all limitations of the Matrix and control it at will. Resistance Hackers now regularly hack into the Matrix and the numbers of Zion are growing. Some would say that the hope of a free humanity is becoming a reality.
Recently, rumors have surfaced that Prine was not the first such gifted human to escape the Matrix. Rather, he was one in a series of "Ones" that appear periodically within the Matrix. Each of these "Ones" are anomolies whose minds reject the illusions of the Matrix and can manipulate its code. The "Ones" carry within them essential command codes that are used to re-establish each new generation of the Matrix.
If these rumors are true, then much of what the inhabitants of Zion believe is false. They are not the first, organized resistance to the Machines, but the sixth. It would mean that the choices they made--to escape the Matrix, found a free city, and fight the Machines--were merely illusory. It would mean that they were not exercising free will, but rather were simply rats running labyrinths established by the Machine masters.
Yet, even if these dark revelations prove true, many in the Resistance believe that this knowledge will permit them to break the cycle. The humans can exert their free will, fight back the tide of Machines, and once again become the masters of their own destinies.
TANK: If this war ended tomorrow, Zion is where the party would be.In the desert of the Real, most humans have been forced to live underground, deep beneath the cities in which humanity once thrived. In subterranean caverns, the Resistance has managed to establish a community consisting mainly of Zion Proper--a city of caverns and environmentally sealed pods and subsections all inter-linked. Many of these subsections have the feel of small villages, orbiting a central "spire" of crosswalks and thoroughfares. Zion itself is protected by a series of sentries and EMP pulse weapons designed to keep any robotic invaders at bay. Hunting groups regularly patrol the area and disable any Sentinels that begin sniffing too close to one of Zion's gates.
The Mainframe: Early Resistance fighters stole enough technology to design their own supercomputer within Zion's walls. While it does not match the complexity or power of the Matrix computers, the Zion Mainframe is a formidable tool upon which the Resistance relies. The Mainframe not only provides Operators with necessary codes (cracked through encryption-decipher programs) and Construct code (to provide weapons and training to Hackers), but it also manages and safeguards Zion itself. Only those with a proper access code can pass through Zion's security gates. The Machines obsessively hunt for these codes, believing that they provide keys to Zion's gates and could open the Resistance to destruction once and for all.
The Children of Zion
NEO: You don't have...Not all of Zion's inhabitants were freed from the Matrix. Some survivors managed to eke out an existence before the initiation of the Resistance. Others have been born to freed or freeborn humans. The Children of Zion are a resourceful and resilient bunch, usually playing with old circuit boards and hover thrusters as kids. They learn quickly to work as a team and for the good of the group. The survival of all may depend on the actions of one. Most learn to pilot hoverships or serve as an Operator to assist the Resistance Hackers in their fight against the Machines.
Ironically, they tend to be more lighthearted and optimistic than many freed from the Matrix. Most carry a spark of optimism and open friendliness that Resuscitated individuals lack after the shock of their awakening.
The Society: Zion's population currently consists of approximately 250,000 inhabitants. The community exists through hard work, sacrifice and more than a little luck. All citizens contribute and all temper what they take away. Since birth, each Zion child realizes that the existence of all may depend on the actions of any one. Still, Zion functions like many human communities: there is trade, entertainment, education, romance and intrigue. While there is very little crime because the group pressure and strict need for survival keeps anti-social behavior to a minimum. Only rarely will a citizen receive punishment and then can almost always be rehabilitated. In Zion, the ultimate punishment is banishment to the world above (and almost certain death), but such a dire act has not yet been required.
The Government: Zion is governed by a Council, which consists mainly of well-respected elders. The elders are elected by the general populace, but political stategizing is kept to a minimum. The Council oversees the daily functions of Zion, passes down rules of law, allocates resources, and has the final say in security issues. The Council entrusts the defense of Zion to the Security forces, who are responsible for the deployment of Zion's defenses, the hovership fleet, and excursions into the Matrix. Zion Security is headed by a single Commander. Next in the chain of command are the hovership captains, who are usually given wide discretion in their field operations and Matrix runs.
Other elements of the Resistance attack the Machines through means other than the Matrix. Small raiding parties attack robot factories or farms to acquire equipment or intelligence. Others scout the surface, looking for useful salvage or other survivors. Still others pepper the Machines with assaults, to keep their resources spread and attention distracted. Together, the fighters form a cohesive whole with the singular goal of freeing humanity.
And like any group that may disagree, the citizens of Zion sometimes split themselves into factions. Rarely do these divisions cause permanent discord. But sometimes a dissent may begin to disrupt the function of the group and, thus, risk the destruction of all. Typically, these problems are addressed and mediated. An act of secession or banishment has never been required. But, as Zion grows, opinions on how to handle the war and manage the affairs of the freed humans may expand as well. It will require skilled leadership to keep the peace at home.
There is wide disagreement about the nature of the "One", and whether such a messiah figure actually exists. Even many who believe in the One's capabilities refuse to entrust the fate of Zion in a single hacker. Some believe he is merely a highly skilled hacker while others subscribe to a nearly religious faith that can brink on zealotry.
The Resistance typically tries to free only children and young adults from the Matrix. Adults have been too indoctrinated and hopeless inured by the system and their minds often cannot let go of the "reality" they knew. Thus, the Resistance frees adults only in rare cases, where the balance of the war or the survival of the person is involved.
For either, the shock of Resuscitation is profound. Imagine waking up one day, cold, in pain, and so weak you cannot lift your arms. You discover the world you knew--your family, friends, schoolmates, lovers--never existed as anything more than computer code. The point of your existence, thus far, has been nothing more than to serve as an energy source for your captors.
Rehabilitation of Resuscitated individuals is a long and arduous process. Many of the cybernetic implants must be removed and others must be modified. Muscles must be stimulated with tiny electric shocks in order to function again. Many individuals require extensive physical therapy in order to learn basic motor functions. The psychological trauma may be immense, and many suffer from depression, anxiety and even psychosis.
And all of this pain and hard work results in their introduction into the real, "free" world: continual cold, hunger and fear for one's life. More than a few of the Resuscitated have wondered why they didn't refuse to be freed when offered the chance.
NEO: This isn't real?Dial-up Reality: The Human Resistance regularly hacks into the global communications grid to monitor events in the Matrix and the activities of the Machines. Some of the Resistance, those who have been resuscitated, can project their minds back into the Matrix. Once there, they can "physically" interact with other humans (or their RI's) and the software of the Matrix itself. Hacking often occurs on Hoverships that must be within 5 kilometers of a Node or Communications Router. Resuscitated hackers use "Jumpchairs", specially modified devices that connect the hacker's cybernetics to the comm system and projects them into the Matrix.
Projecting an RI into the Matrix requires an open communications port in the Node. Inside the Matrix, these comm ports are symbolized by telephones with "hard lines"--cabling that leads into the "city's" telecommunications grid. The Machines rely on these hard lines to access the Matrix as well (otherwise, they would cut them all). Hard-line telephones are found throughout the cities, apparently somewhat at random. When a Hacker enters the Matrix, they will appear adjacent to the hard-line phone and when they wish to leave, they must be holding the receiver.
Communication to and from the Matrix is simpler. Hackers may use any phone (table-top, cellular, pay phone, etc.) to communicate with the Operator on their hovership. However, these calls may be monitored and traced by the Machines, in both the Matrix and the Realworld (spelling danger for both those in and outside the Matrix).
The Matrix is a system, Neo, and that system is our enemy. When you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, lawyers, students. People. Everywhere you look, there are people. 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.Many of the Resistance Hackers have a hard time of it when they return to the Matrix from the real world. Friends, love ones, colleagues, neighbors--all are nothing more than electronic representations of bodies floating in pods, feeding the power cores of their captors. Schools, offices, favorite restaurants become empty shells and facades. All of the Hacker's old life is revealed as nothing more than an elaborate lie.
It is easy, then, for weaker minds to fall back into old habits. They may try to contact old friends or family, become caught up in the physical pleasures of the Matrix, or become to trusting of its colorful illusion. When this happens, the Hacker puts himself and, quite likely, all of Zion at risk. As the Hacker's emotional investment in the Matrix's representations grows, he will lose his ability to separate real from unreal and, consequently, his augmented abilities while in the Matrix.
Characters who begin to get too attached the "unreality" o f the Matrix should be given Skeptic Points as the GM sees fit. When a character is burdened by too many Skeptic points, he will either be unable to enter the Matrix or thrust into shock if forced to leave it.
It is our loading program. We can load anything from
to weapons, to training simulations. Anything we need.
The Resistance uses advanced programs, called Constructs, that resemble the Matrix nearly identically. Hackers take on their residual images and physically interact with their surroundings. The same laws of physics that govern the Matrix also apply in the Construct. The main difference is that an Operator has complete control over the Construct: he may change environments, load training simulations, or provide equipment.
When Hackers are going to make a run, they plug into the jumpchairs and are projected into the Construct. The Operator then dials the hard-line used to gain access to the Matrix and copies the code which constitutes the room or area in which the hard-line exists. The copied code is then recompiled around the Hackers in the Construct. The Operator then inserts the copied room and his Hackers into the Matrix, merging the code together seamlessly. At that point, the Hackers are in the Matrix with any equipment loading while in the Construct.
It is important to note that while the Construct provides a useful training tool for Hackers, it cannot completely replicate the experience of being in the Matrix. While it helps to begin freeing the mind of a Hacker, only tests of character and faith, under the full duress of life in the Matrix, can truly lead to the enlightenment of a mind. In game terms, Hackers may spend Chi while in the Construct, but cannot regain them.
MORPHEUS: How did I beat you?All Hackers develop some skill at manipulating the Matrix. They learn to move more quickly, strike with more force, or perceive beyond their normal limits. But only the truly talented manage to hack the Matrix in any substantial way. These spiritual descendants of Prine learn to augment their physical abilities and, ultimately, alter the fabric of the Matrix itself.
When Hackers affect the Matrix, they usually do it in a fairly unconscious manner. Rather than thinking "I'll alter this section of code to delete this door," the Hacker simply wills the door to be gone. Thus, Matrix hacking is different than old-school code hacking. It represents the pure hybrid of textual coding and human perception. For example, when a baseball player catches a fly ball, he does not consciously calculate the trajectory, speed, and force of the ball. He simply moves, puts up his glove, and catches it (or not). Similarly, most Matrix hacking is an act of perception, decision, and action: bullets speeding towards you; willing the bullets to stop; observing the bullets halt in mid-air.
Any significant hacking in the Matrix is likely to be noticed by the Machines. It will probably register as a "blip" in the system and scans will begin immediately. Counter-measures or anti-"viral" techniques (like Agents) may be deployed. The likelihood of detection increases with the changes effected. Thus a minor alteration (like unlocking a door or changing hair color) will likely go unnoticed, while more substantial changes (like deleting a door or complete transformation of the RI) will send off all sorts of bells and alarms.
SPOON BOY : Do not try to bend the spoon. That is impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.Successful Hackers (i.e., the ones that manage to stay alive) all progress along a path of enlightenment. Each hopes to "free" his mind from its limiting conceptualization of the Matrix. Obviously, some make greater strides than others. Some accept their limitations and still serve vital functions as members of the Resistance. While their skill inside the Matrix may be limited, their bravery and dedication serve the cause.
Others, however, continue on this path of enlightenment. Ultimately, it involves the complete understanding--from balls to bones--that everything in the Matrix--everything--is only perceived reality. There is no ground, no buildings, no sky. Even one's own body is a falsehood. The enlightened Hacker understand that he himself is only code, floating through a sea of code, interacting and separating. Discrete and unified. Through this connectedness, the Hacker can learn to remake the Matrix code at will.
NEO: If you are killed in the Matrix, you die here?Every Hacker knows the risks when he plugs in and begins a run on the Matrix. Screw up, have an accident, get shot and you're dead. The mind makes injuries received in the Matrix real in the Realworld. After a fight, bodies will ache and even bleed. If the body is destroyed in the Matrix, the mind will believe it and kill the body in the Realworld.
Not even advanced Hackers can stand up to an Agent or an overwhelming force of policemen. For all their abilities and enlightenment, most Hackers understand their limitations and avoid becoming drunk with their own power. A careless Hacker risks not only his own life, but that of his teammates and, perhaps, Zion itself.
It is said that a truly enlightened Hacker, one that is a true descendant of Prine, can overcome this limitation--that his Matrix form may be riddled with bullets, pounded to pulp, or incinerated to ash and his mind will live on. Whether this theory is true remains to be seen.
Standard Operator and Hovership Crewman
Standard Zion Resistance Fighter (Pure born)