This is apparently a PbtA gripe/ideas blog now, but it’s on my mind lately.
I like the abstract hacking rules quite a bit: it’s abstract but captures the flavor, keeps the hacker types in the game, and after several reads feels right. But PbtA is all about hacks, right?
My thoughts were mostly about the D&D-style/wargaming inspired maps from Cyberpunk 2020 and Shadowrun, combined with my day job as an actual doer of Internet computer maths. A few minutes with Paper and I got this:
ICE is colored per-link or system. The basic idea is that each node on the network is either one of the specific types listed in the rules, or a generic node the MC can use to riff on or as a story element or whatever (“I leave a backdoor on node X”). The links between nodes show visibility to each other, and the MC can introduce soft-fail elements like “high network traffic” or whatever on certain links.
From a purely descriptive point they remain the giant whatever of your Matrix geography: maybe they are individual geometric shapes, or streets on a synthetic New York City, or literally green screen characters. Doesn’t matter.