The modern world is the toy of the young. Those elders that have been around for centuries or millennia have no clue what can be done with a few clicks of the mouse or a well constructed phone app. A virus to them is the Black Plague, a virus to us brings down the power grid or ‘Robin Hood’s’ the Prince’s Elysium fund to the next Ralph Nader Presidential election.
Here is the general description of Computer Hacking from WW’s Anarch Cookbook
The player must have at least two dots in computers before purchasing this new knowledge. Hacking allows the computer user to break the rules. It is not a programming skill – that requires the computer knowledge. Hacking represents an imaginative faculty above and beyond the use of the programming codes. In the binary computer world of yes/no, hacking represents the little bit of genius that says, “Well maybe.”
When is hacking used rather than the computer knowledge? When the user is breaking into other computer systems or trying to manipulate data in “real time.” The computer ability is used for programming or other miscellaneous tasks. Hacking is used most often as a complementary ability to computers, but it can aid programming by allowing the character to work faster or to crack military codes that a normal programmer would not even be able to figure out (see below)
- Novice: You are a computer geek who knows a few tricks, such as changing your grade in the university computer network.
- Practiced: You have great “luck” in guessing computer passwords.
- Competent: You thought your electric bill was too high last month, but you can fix that with a few keystrokes.
- Expert: Now that you have cracked the bank codes, which is it: Rio or Bermuda?
- Master: The European Community was pretty annoyed about that thermonuclear incident, but you know they can never trace it back to you.
A straight conversion to the MET system would have the hacker add her Mentals plus bonuses against an unknown difficulty, with retests from either the Computer skill or Hacking skill at the STs discretion. From a basic perspective Computer Hacking is figuring out how to use systems in ways they were not intended to work.
A person is usually trying to do one of three things with a Hack:
- Make something stop working (stop lights, power, security cams, etc…)
- Get information from a system (Coca Cola formula, Ventrue meeting minutes, etc…)
- Make something work in a different way (transfer funds to the Caymans, turn on GPS on a phone while showing the user that it is off)
Here are some suggested difficulties:
When a player Hacker attempts to gain access to the system they must decide if they are going to do one of the following actions:
- Merely access the system to find data/information they are looking for, leaving possible traces that they were in the system.
- No change to the base difficulty.
- Access the system to find data/information they are looking for and take steps to remove any trace that someone was in the system.
- +1 to the base difficulty
- Access the system, manipulate the data/information or system in one manner or another (change records, make the system do something it should not be doing, etc…) AND take no steps prevent discovery
- +2 to the base difficulty
- Access the system, manipulate the data/information/system AND take steps to prevent discovery.
- +7 to the base difficulty, being able to get into a system, play around with what you find and get out safely is a challenge.
Here are some suggested conditional modifiers a player might gain prior to the attempt:
A Supernatural modifier could be applied in either direction (Magic, Technomancer adept, Computer Spirit, etc…)
Given enough time and devotion a specialist can create software that can assist them in either getting into where they are not supposed to be or preventing people from getting in. Like Computer Hacking, it is suggested that this be another skill that the player should buy. Possibly twice if the ST team thinks that the each is a separate skill and if the player wants to be able to both Hack and Secure computer systems.
A player can create the software either at game or in downtime. Downtime is a more logical time to do so as software creation is not something that is created up in a challenge or two at game much less really even a couple hours of nothing but ‘coding’ at game.
A player can only create a piece of software only as ‘powerful’ as they are an expert. Meaning that with only one level of the skill she could only create a +/-1 modifier up to +/-5 at level 5 in the skill. The process for creating the software could be as simple as ‘x’ amount of time devoted per level (hour/day/week) or more of an interaction with the ST by beginning an extended challenge with an accepted difficulty, having each success being a +/-1 modifier. Additionally the player attempting to Hack should have to create the Exploit per Hack and the Security software should have to be ‘updated’ periodically.
Here is how it all comes together
- The Hacker decides what system she is trying to access.
- Base difficulty is determined
- The Hacker decides what she is going to try to do while in the system.
- Initial Modifier is added to to Base difficulty
- The Hacker’s current Mental traits are used for the challenge
- Add conditional modifiers to determine Total Traits
- The ST can either add modifiers (security software, on-site analysts, etc…) to the Base difficulty or decrease the Total Traits. We suggest that they add to the Base difficulty and not tell the player the Challenge difficulty.
- The challenge ensues with normal MET rules for retests, with the outcome being worked out by the player and ST.
Examples of play
Here are a couple of example of how the system works. It gives the players and storytellers a way to make it as easy or as challenging as they wish to make this ‘side’ game of the larger game as they wish.
SK8R@ has been publicly insulted by Prince Gerrard’s Toreador Seneschal for months now. She is tired of being hassled for just visiting Elysium, especially since the Baron and the Prince have come to an arrangement allowing for safe travel. Maybe the bitch has a thing for her. Who knows, well she is going to teach her a lesson that she will never forget.
SK8R@ knows that Seneschal’s personal passion, when not out causing problems for everyone, is her gallery so she is going to work out how to ruin her day, well night really. The Gallery has a light security system, but she does not want to get caught, so she is not using her on gear.
Ruth, the player of SK8R@, has gone out and bought laptop that will be trashed after the work is done.
- The gallery has a light security system as the Seneschal does not think that anyone would dare to do anything to her. At least that is the impression that she has given people.
- Local Business : Base Difficulty = 10
- Ruth wants to drop the security system long enough to allow some friends to get into gallery and trash the place. As she is not using her own gear she does not care about being ‘caught’.
- +2 to the difficulty as she is not worried about leaving a trace : Base Difficulty = 12
- Ruth has 11 Mental traits.
- -3 for being off site.
- Ruth has a total of 8 for the attempt.
- The Seneschal has spent some money secretly on the system because of some private items she does not want anyone to get their hands on.
- +3 to the difficulty, the ST does not tell the player : Challenge total = 15
- Ruth and the ST start the challenge to see if she will succeed.
David, the Nosferatu Primogen, like most Nos is known for being able get information from places that most people would not even think of trying. He knows that the Prince has been secretly working with one of the local Anarch gangs and he wants to use that knowledge as leverage to get more influence in the city from the Prince. He has been unable to get any proof, so he thinks there may be some on the Prince’s phone. So, he has worked the last few weeks on some software that he believes will take advantage of known security issues with the Prince’s brand of phone. He plans on attempting to hack the Bluetooth connection on the phone when he knows it is active, say when the Prince is at a gathering with the earpiece active.
- Trying to get into the Prince’s Smartphone
- The initial Difficulty is 9.
- David does not want to leave any trace that he was there.
- +7 to the difficulty. Base Difficulty is 16.
- David has 9 Mental traits.
- -3 for not having direct access to the phone.
- +2 for using his personal system.
- +4 for creating the customized software.
- David has a total of 12 for the attempt.
- The Prince has been around for a while and is not familiar with all the in’s and out’s of technical security, so has taken no steps to prevent such an attempt.
- No additional modifiers applied : Challenge total = 16
- The player of David and the ST start the challenge to see if he will succeed.