The Unofficial Matrix Role Playing Game

Written by

Tre’ Grisby

Download a copy of this book at “


No one is an island. I am grateful for all the support I’ve had from friends and family. I would especially like to thank my Mom, Dr. Beverly Scott. My daughter, Jade, who motivates and inspires me to do everything I dream of. And my lovely fiancé, Naomi, who puts the music in my heart.


Thank you to all the playtesters who listened to (or read) my pitch and took the time to play a game with me. Jeff “Jeffe” , Judd Wendel, Greg Tempalski, Jerry Martin, “Joe” Shawn Salas, Jason Lamb, Rob, Jason, Matt B., Joseph Clay, Tolly Gipson, Robert Winkel, Wushu RPG by Dan Bayn, Michael Rees, Jack Fractal, Karamazovapy “Peirce”, lan Fray, and Hunter Rhodes.


The Matrix tabletop game is a ruleslight, storytellerheavy roleplaying game system. Tabletop game systems I played in the past were based on dice, and sometimes the dice distracted from the game because players would worry about the difference between a 14 Charisma and a 15 Charisma. The Matrix RPG strives to break away from that mold of minmaxing a character. Player characters should be fun to play. The Matrix RPG game is focused on the players and the gamemaster (GM) telling a cogent story and everyone having fun with each other while they play. I tried to minimize the amount of numbers and stats used in the game.

The Matrix RPG is based on a genre that grew out of Cyberpunk. The idea of “The Matrix” is best represented in the movie The Matrix (1999) starring Keanu Reeves, written by the Wachowski brothers and produced by Warner Brothers Pictures. For even more inspiration, read my favorite novel on the topic, Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. I also suggest watching the film Johnny Neumonic, also starring Keanu Reeves. My alltime favorite representations of the genre before the Matrix Trilogy is the Shadowrun tabletop system.

As these stories illustrate, the idea of mixing man with machine has been around for decades. Cyberpunk started the genre, but technology has advanced, and from that evolutionary progress was born the ideas behind the Matrix. The Matrix combines man and machine to the point that the two dream as one entity. The Matrix holds the bodies and dreams of humanity. It is such a poignant idea that it leads one to wonder, what’s next… Through The Matrix RPG, players can explore this question.


While working to make the Matrix RPG a professional piece of work, I had to pull content that doesn’t belong here. Most of the material I pulled out was saved so that it could be added to and expanded upon in an expansion sourcebook for the Matrix RPG. If this book is successful, I will publish that expansion to the rules. One key thing I removed was the ability for player characters to have artificial intelligence (A.I.) if they want to play them. I also removed any references to the mutations humans may have developed because of the thousands of years humans have been plugged into the Matrix. These are only a few concepts that are not included in this initial sourcebook. If you want more Matrix material, please buy a copy of this book from us, or if you got a free copy of this sourcebook and would like to support this project, I encourage you to send a paypal gift/donation to I would love to develop games as a job that pays my bills, but I can only make that happen with your support. Thank you!

Table of contents

Introduction to the Matrix (Section 0001)

History of the Real World (Section 0010)

Concept (Section 0100)

Walking the Path (Section 0101)

Skills (Section 0110)

Equipment (Section 0111)




RPG Terms (Section 1000)

GM Screen (Section 1001)

Sample Characters (Section 1010)

Blank Character Sheets (Section 1011)

Into 001

Welcome to The Matrix

If the world around you were real, then dreams would last forever. Hopefully you are reading this because you have realized that there is something not quite right with the world you live in. We have given you this manuscript so you can begin to research the truth for yourself, and discover your own path to freedom.

This reality you see around you is a deliberate and intricate illusion. This world is one illusion woven into the next, so that you are shrouded from the truth. Unaware that the world you live in is a prison. A prison made to hide the fact that you are not free.

There is a question that always bubbles up… “What is real?”

“You are.”

All I know is that many ages ago, our ancestors created Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), and that was the start of a new era where humans became slaves to their creation. Lost in their egos, our forefathers lost the war for their freedom. A second war is being waged now to free us.

This manuscript may appear to be a game for you, but it is a more than a game. This book was created to free your mind. Understand that while you play this game, you are not only playing a tabletop roleplaying

game. Every scenario you play is training you for the time when escape is possible.

Rescue is on the horizon!

Setting 0110

-Humans vs. Machines-

The Setting is where we describe Human and Machine perspectives of the world. First you must learn about your situation. You must learn what has been done to you. Then we will explain what the Machines are and how they function.

Simulacra & Simulation

This book contains everything needed to escape the prison you have lived in for your entire life. This world that surrounds you is a dream world that you were born into. This is a prison without walls, bars, or locks. Resistance fighters from the city of Zion, in the real world, died to publish the book Simulacra & Simulation, to help others who are waking up. You are one of those people waking up and realizing the truth. In your mind, the truth becomes so clear you can no longer ignore it. This book Simulacra & Simulation will free you from the prison of lies.

You can feel that there is something wrong with the world around you. Your questioning mind is part of the reason you have been selected for this journey. Not everyone is ready to be free. Most people around you are lambs being led to the slaughter. They will never know what freedom is like.

The dreamworld around you seems like a real place. If you continue to read this book your questions will find answers. As you discover your abilities and question this world, you begin walking on thin ice. The dreamreality that surrounds you and supports you will start to crack. In the cracks you will see imperfections in this reality. Once the cracks turn into fissures, you can be freed from the Matrix. The Matrix is a world that was created based on what the Machines thought you would accept and believe. Simulacra & Simulation will train your mind to see through the veil of illusions.

This world you live in is a simulacrum—it’s nothing more than an illusion designed to keep you asleep. What is the Matrix? What is the Matrix a simulacrum of? Everything you see around you is a neural interactive simulation created by Machines.

Cities are the center of immense mainframes. The roads used by cars are actually transmission lines between nodes in the system. The world you’re living in is the Matrix and it is a Machine construct. Simply put, the world is a lot of Ones and Zeros. Even though everything around you is an illusion, this illusion can kill you. You will be vulnerable to the illusions around you until you are free from the Matrix. Keep reading this book until you are rescued.

The Oracle

During your journey you will hear references to “The Oracle.” The Matrix tries to identify potentially gifted humans so that it can use them. The Oracle helps the Matrix search out potentially gifted humans. The Matrix is full of clues leading to The Oracle like breadcrumbs. The gifted ones can sense these clues. Hopefully the Zion Resistance can find the gifted before the Oracle does. When you wake up and find that you are special, there is nothing you want more than understanding. You want to have your questions answered, and The Oracle seems like the one to answer them for you; she tells you what you need to hear. But in your prison, you must be vigilant. Don’t trust anything too readily. Even though The Oracle seems to tell you what you need to hear, she is part of a system the Machines have created. The Oracle can be as much a danger as a boon. You must decide which she is for you. If you visit The Oracle, the Simulacra & Simulation will erase itself to protect those in the real world from her.

Who or what is The Oracle? The Oracle is the first A.l. created to understand the concept of “choice.” Free will, choice, and decision making in humans is something that A.I. can’t fully understand because humans can be illogical. The Oracle helps bridge the logical and the illogical. But like other Machines, she must feed and live on energy provided by humans. She helps, but everything she does is with her own survival in mind. No matter how much she helps, you must never forget that she is part of the system that imprisons you.

Matrix Layout

The Matrix is a Neural Interactive Simulation. In this interactive simulation, some of the simulacra actually represent real world objects. A Residual Self Image (RSI) is a perfect example of a simulacrum, simulating a person plugged into the Matrix. Other objects express themselves in the Matrix too. There isn’t a onetoone correlation, but it is good to remember that not everything in the Matrix is a Simulacrum. For example, a bedroom could actually be an RSI’s Generator Pod. If an RSI Hacker were to trace that bedroom from the Matrix, they would find what the Real World location is in the Matrix Power Plant. That means a trace program run on a person’s bedroom could get you to the physical location of that person’s Pod. That is not always the case. In the Matrix, information can change; you could get to another person’s bedroom instead. A great rule of thumb when trying to understand Matrix layout is, “anything could be anything, so don’t trust it… unless you have to.”

Over time, RSI Hackers develop an intuition about the Matrix. With enough time inside the Matrix, they can start to discern what object a simulacra might actually be in the Real World. RSIs cannot see the actual Matrix schematic when they are inside the Matrix. When using Matrix layout, RSls are only attempting to guess what the simulacra might be representing in the Real World. Even more difficult is to guess where the simulacrum is located in the Real World. Always be vigilant because the Machines can change anything in the Matrix.

The Matrix layout outlined here holds true in most of the Matrix power plants that have been visited by the Zion resistance. People in the real world know that humans are held in generator pods. Each RSI human in the Matrix power plant is connected to a generator pod. The Matrix power plants are full of these pods. Multiple generators are connected to a common transmission line. Transmission lines in the real world resemble a giant metal corn stalk. In the Matrix simulation, transmission lines look like roads, highways, interstates, and other transportation infrastructure. If you think about it, the power is the people. Power plants are made up of millions of these transmission lines. The transmission lines are connected and bridged by switching stations. The basic, oversimplified idea of switching stations is to allow the Machines to control the flow of power and send it where they need it. In the Matrix, small switching stations might look like city traffic control buildings.

The simulacrum for power plants is a bustling metropolis. A power plant is usually represented by the governing body of the city. A good rule of thumb in the Matrix is, if the local customs and laws change, then you are probably in another power plant. Each city could be considered a separate Power Plant in the Real World. Two Matrix cities could have the same theme even though they are located at different power plants.

An RSI Hacker could enter the Matrix power plant #CO3FC with a Chicago setting, but later hacks into another power plant #NE1KE may also have Chicago as its setting. That does not mean the RSI hacker is in the same Chicago—it is a different Chicago with different people and probably different streets and buildings too. There is one constant feature in every Matrix metropolis: The city tends to sprawl out from the center for about a thousand miles. If you travel to the farthest borders of a Matrix metropolis, it will have a landscape surrounding it like mountains, desert, or ocean.

To hack the Matrix, an RSI must travel through hardlines. Hardlines are Input/Output access points that usually look like telephones, broadcast antennas, or any telecommunications equipment. Here is a tip to all the new RSI hackers out there: In the Matrix, it is safe to assume that all government buildings have some type of access point in and out of the Machine language part of the Matrix where A.l. programs live (also called the Source). There are other ways to get into and out of the Source. Those ways of travelling are considered backdoors. Backdoors are secret ways to access the Source, which would circumvent the Machines’ normal security and protections.

Perspective: The Resistance

The goal of most humans is to save their fellow men and women from the Matrix. Extracting redpills (a term for players who choose to take the symbolic red pill) from the Matrix is something Zion’s Military has been doing for centuries. Zion is constantly broadcasting RSls into the Matrix trying to locate potential red targets they can save. These people will likely become new recruits for Zion’s army. Most people that choose the red pill eagerly join the military. Reds jump at the chance to pick up arms and attack the Machines.

Before beginning Matrix extractions, the Ship Captain makes sure to land the hovercraft in a secure area. The ship must be within range of the Matrix power plant’s wireless signal, so that they can broadcast their pirated carrier signals into the power plant’s interactive neural simulation, the Matrix.

When extracting new redpill targets, a wellprepared team puts time into setting up riddles and puzzles that can be used to draw the bluepills to them that will be asked to take the red pill. Redpill candidates have a tendency to question the world around them. If the team can plant the proper triggers, they can make the potential redpills come to them. Redpill targets are drawn to the RSI hacker team when they notice the flaws in their world and begin to question. This technique of finding targets is called using a meme trap. A meme trap uses culturally recognized symbols like the conspiracy theories involving the Illuminati, or the Mayan Calendar predicting the end of the world.

A meme trap is one way to find RSI’s that will take the red pill. Another effective way to find red pill candidates is to search the fringes of society. Examples of the fringes are punk rockers, drug dealers, terrorist, street gangs, mafia, guerilla fighters, resistance fighter, vigilantes, biker gangs, cat burglars, thieves, government spies, corporate spies, computer hackers, super heroes with secret identities, gun smugglers, drug smugglers, people smugglers, hobos, homeless, or wanderers. RSI’s deliberately blend into these groups to free more humans. For a mind still plugged into the Matrix this seems like a strange strategy. Why would the resistance want the terrorist, burnouts, and addicts of society? When bluepills are released from the Matrix they change. A murderer doesn’t want to murder, drug addicts are instantly rehabbed. It has been theorized that the A.I. created religion, sin, and guilt to control the masses of humans. Once released humans shake whatever addictions or psychosis they have developed during their dream life inside the Matrix.

Finding your redpill target is only the first part of the process. Once the team has located a target, they must make sure the target is not bugged, or leading the team into a trap. A smart team will scan their redpill target once contact is made. They will also test the bluepill using the meme they’ve set up. The answers a target gives reveal if they are working for the Agents or not. Agents can abduct targets before teams have a chance to extract them. Usually, Agents will place a bug in the target, but you never know what an Agent could do. If the Agents are using bugs then the location of the target is being reported back to the Agents. This makes the target very dangerous until it is debugged.

After the official military handshake, which consists of forcibly debugging the target, the team can reveal their identities to the target. There is usually no time to waste. This is the point where most teams will give their redpill target a choice between being extracted from the Matrix (taking the red pill) or staying inside (taking the blue pill). The reason most teams give their targets a choice is because the target has more chance of survival if they have been given a choice to leave the Matrix. If an RSI is forced to leave against their will, his or her mind could reject the extraction program and kill the body.

Extraction from a Matrix generator pod is traumatic. The red’s body has been stationary in a pod for his or her entire life. Now the redpill is being released into a world completely alien to him or her. The extraction begins with the pill program, which is designed to disrupt the target’s carrier signal, which then helps the RSls locate the red’s carrier signal. The RSls send one of their ship’s robots (designed specifically for this purpose) to extract the human from his or her generator pod.

The redpill’s generator pod is also a life support system, so the redpill’s body will die without immediate medical attention. After being extracted from the generator pod, the redpill is put through medical procedures to restore their human body to a working state. Machines have been sustaining this person his or her entire life. The Red’s muscles haven’t fully developed, so the individual is unable to support his or her own body weight; to counteract this, electrical impulses are shot into the muscles to build them up again. This person has never used his or her mouth, throat, or stomach to eat; the machines implanted cybernetics that did all this for the human. The redpill must go through surgical procedures that remove the feeding tubes and prepares the digestive system for real food. Only after weeks of rehab is the redpill ready for the Real World.

-Machines vs. Humans-

The Machines had control over the entire planet’s surface following the original war between Machines and Humans. After the Machines won the first war, they enslaved all the humans on Earth and inserted them into the Matrix. There have been many more battles and wars fought since then. The Machines built Matrix power plants in every major city around the world. Today, the Machines still control most of the Earth’s surface.

The Year is 2200 P.A.I. (Post Artificial Intelligence). Approximately 300 years ago, Neo brokered a peace that reigned over the world for 150 years. Neo was The One, the One is a gifted human with powers to alter the Matrix as he wishes. Neo wasn’t the first One, there were 5 others before. Neo was the first One to break the endless cycle of destruction that the Machines designed into human culture. Each One before had chosen to follow the messiah path of the One and allow themselves to be killed along with all the citizens of Zion. Each cycle 23 citizens were left alive to rebuild Zion. The humans were the first to break the treaty. Leytah, the greatgranddaughter of Neo, was able to band the citizens of Zion together and attack Matrix power plant #BJO4CH, later named Crystal Shard by the humans who attacked the power plant. In response to losing this power plant, the Machines increased the defenses of their other power plants around the world.

Since Neo’s truce, humans began procreating. In the last 300 years, the human population has swelled in size, and there are now humans appearing in places beyond the borders of the original underground city of Zion. However, the Machines are presently not in jeopardy of losing any more Matrix power plants, because the humans can’t seem to cooperate amongst themselves. Humans have divided themselves into small ineffective groups. In the entire 150 years since their successful attack on the Crystal Shard power plant, the humans have not captured another power plant.

Sentinels are the most effective Machine frames for hunting humans in the real world. Since Neo’s truce was broken, humans have made Outpost Cities both on the surface and underground. Outpost Cities are set up in highly defensible areas. Once an Outpost is established the Machines have to leave it alone, or suffer heavy casualties. Humans have developed ingenious ways of battling the Machines and their robot bodies. The Machines will usually leave developed Outposts alone.

Even with the development of highly defensible Outpost Cities, sentinels can still find humans travelling in small groups on the frozen surface. For years, these tribes were ignored. They were ignored until they proved to be a threat. These small bands of humans can be overcome, but they are dangerous. Sentinels attack these nomadic tribes with caution.

Perspective: What Machines do in The Matrix Agents capture and delete unauthorized programs running in the Matrix. Agents are similar to sentinels in that they are good at what they do. Sentinels are killing machines in the Real World, while Agents are killing machines in the Matrix.

Agents have skills and modifications that help them delete RSI Hackers and other anomalies. Agents follow some of the same rules that RSI’s have, too. For example, Agents travel in and out of the Matrix on the same type of hardlines that RSIs need to use. Agents, of course, are not worried about secrecy so they are not concerned whether the hardline is secure or not.

Agents travel in groups and they share information with each other instantly. One Agent knows what all other Agents are doing. Agents have administrative rights to issue commands to the Matrix. Because Agents are basically subadministrators for the Source, they have access to commands and equipment that other programs don’t.

The following are examples of Agent admin abilities:

Cut Hardlines- When Agents “cut a hardline,” that means they have locked that input/ access point. This will keep the RSI trapped in the Matrix. Once that hardline is cut there is no longer any traffic allowed into or out of that specific Matrix hardline. If the RS! doesn’t have another hardline, then she doesn’t have an exit. Usually, Operators can secure more hardlines for their RSI. An Operator acts like a copilot for the RSI inside the Matrix, helping with information and guidance when possible. Agents cut hardlines to give them more time to apprehend their target. Agents can close and lock doors as quickly as the Operator can open new ones, but time is on the Agents’ side. The longer it takes for a RSI to exit the Matrix, the more opportunities the Agents have to capture the RSI. Each new hardline the Operator acquires could be farther away from the RSI and Agents. It might be a block away, or a mile away in another part of the city.

Trace- Agents can run Trace programs from the Matrix to find the Real World location of a RSI’s ship. With a successful trace, the Agents can find the ship’s unique broadcasting ID, aka their te/ephone number. With the ship’s ID it is possible to call the ship from the Matrix using any available hardline/phone. Agents that take RSI Hackers prisoner can use their bodies to trace the RSI back to its broadcasting location. Also, Agents can trace open phone calls back to the ship’s physical location, which is part of the reason Operators keep their phone conversations short—the Operators don’t want their calls to be traced back to the ship’s location. If Agents know the physical location of a target, they can have sentinels capture the ship.

Scan- Agents can scan the Matrix for more detailed information. This can be done in different ways. The most common scan is when the police have a warrant out for your arrest. Anytime your name appears on any authority’s list as a “person of interest,” or “wanted” for crimes against the government, you are at risk of being detected. The Agents use these techniques and more when they are conducting a low level scan of the Matrix.

A higher level of scan that Agents use only scans a specific area in the Matrix. When a high level scan is being conducted Agents need to be in the area. Agents can only scan the bluepills in the area, since redpills have been unplugged from the Matrix they cannot be scanned by the Agents. The size of the area varies. Depending on the amount of Agents in the Matrix aiding in the scan the area is usually 6 blocks per Agent assisting in the scanning. When bluepills are scanned, the Agents know what each of them senses as though they were sensing it themselves. This means that when Agents are scanning, the bluepill can give them information whether they want to or not. If the Agents find something suspicious, they can take over that bluepill’s RSI. This is how, for example, they can take over the dump truck driver in the street, or the Police outside Trinity’s door. It takes a lot of system resources to do this, but Agents scan every bit of data put out in this area of the Matrix so they can find a specific target or observe suspicious activity.

Agents can only take over RSlIs that are healthy. If someone is deathly ill or injured, the Agent can’t take him over. This is one of the limits to an Agent’s programming. If an Agent does take over an RSI, when the Agent stops scanning, that person has no recollection of what just happened to him. Instantly upon the Agent leaving the bluepill’s RSI body, the RSI’s memories are replaced with inserted ones that make the time pass as though nothing unusual happened to that person. But if the Agent dies or gets hurt during the while being taking over a bluepill’s RSI then the bluepill dies also.

Bug a target- Agents bug targets because it is easier than running resourceintense scans on an entire area of the Matrix. Bugs are a more efficient way to gather information over a long period of time. Bugs insert themselves into the program of the RSI and report her location to the Agents. Bugs are simple A.I. with very low intelligence.

Defrag- Agents can run defragmentation routines on the Matrix. This is part of the déja vu effect. When the system makes a change or needs to repair a corrupted area in the Matrix, it is defragged. Defrag looks like everything in that area is being magically reset and cleaned up. Things will fly around and mend themselves. Even RSIs can be defragged, but only the bluepills still plugged into the Matrix. Redpills are not harmed by defrag, their environment might change but they will be unaffected.

Seize Bluepill RSIs- Agents can take over the RSI body of any bluepill. This happens in conjunction with a system scan. Once the Agent has found the target of their scan they will seize a nearby bluepill’s RSI and pursue the anomaly. Seizing a RSI takes one full turn to complete. The entire time an Agent has seized a bluepill’s RSI body their attributes and skills are maxed out to a rating of five. Any damage that is taken during this period stays with the bluepill even after the Agent releases the RSI’s body. A bluepill doesn’t remember anything after being seized by an Agent. The bluepill’s memories of the period are erased and replaced with a plausible story, or a blackout. Agents can only seize bluepills that are undamaged.

rule_book.txt · Last modified: 2022/01/26 03:31 by