Hacking is the term given when someone tries to access a portion of the datanet that they shouldn't. This can be a multicorps computer system or even a Sanctioned Ops vehicle. Hacking is where all the datanet combat takes place.
Hacking a computer or vehicle is actually a relatively easy thing to try and do. Firstly, there has to be a connection between you and the computer you wish to hack. If the computer is on the datanets (and it doesn't matter if it's behind a security node or ten), then it's available to hack. Simple. These rules don't tend to care what lies between you and your target, it's usually an easy matter to physically hack into the datanet somewhere unguarded between you and your prey.
The difficulty comes in getting past the various security nodes which is usually where all the head-hunt programs are placed.
Before any computer combat can take place, there should be map available which shows all the nodes and data paths. For ease, this map should be available to hackers as well as the security. The gamesmaster or security player should know what programs are running and where, and whether any reinforcements are available. This information is usually not known to hackers, although they might have bought it or obtained it in advance, in which case they should know what to expect. Only one of a particular program may be placed in any single node - you could not have two copies of head-hunt in a security node for instance. Finally, all user nodes should be briefly described in terms of what functions they do, such as whether they operate doors, security cameras, ECM systems or whether they are just terminals for wage-slaves to use.
Each computer turn is equal to one Dark Future phase. A lot can happen in the electronic world and many hack attempts would be over before someone had a chance to run to their car.
Only programs currently in the CPU are available to be used that turn. Programs in Store are ready for use but may not be used unless a Reprogram action is used.
The Term user here is used to describe a plug, virus or operator. If a distinction is needed, it will be noted in the text.
The Term hacker is used here to describe an invader within the datanet.
The order that events happen always happens in the following order:
If there are any ties, then the highest computer skill goes first. If they are the same, then all combat is simultaneous.
Computer Use skill may only be used if an actual physical person is present, either using a plug or being an operator. This means that usually the hacker will be able to use their skill, but most nodes will not as usually there won't be a person present in each and ever node. It is entirely possible for someone to go hacking without Computer Use skill - modern programs make this all to possible. However, someone with real skill and experience will win out against wannabes most times.
The following actions are available to users:
- Jack Out
- Program Use
This is simply the term for a user to run their Hack-Attack programs.
This action is for plug users and operators only. By taking this action, the user ejects themselves from the datanets. They can play no further part in the datanet and are safe from reprisals. Jacking out doesn't necessarily allow a user to come back into the datanet at the point in which they hacked in though. Viruses may not jack out.
An operator, plug or virus can move as far as desired in a single phase, but must stop at a security node, user node or data node. In addition, if the user comes across a node which contains another user who has a Patrol program running then they must also stop and try to fight or avoid using their stealth programs. If they do not have any stealth programs running, then they will automatically be detected.
This action simply allows any other program to be used that doesn't have its own action, for example, trace or retrieval programs.
This action allows the Plug or Operator to move programs from their CPU to their Store or vice-versa. For a plug user with skill plugs this takes one action to move the programs from the skill plug to use. However, if the user doesn't have skill plugs or requires programs that aren't located there then they follow the same rules as for operators. An Operator takes a full 6 turns for this action as they have to physically type in commands. This assumes that the operator has the program required to hand - if they have to go and physically search for it, then the chances are that the whole hack attempt will have failed, even if they were gone for a minute.
Viruses may not used the reprogram action.
Whenever a hacker travels to a node which has security in it (which is usually a security node
but could be others) or a patrol
program running, then their way is blocked, a security node
with no running software is still considered blocked as it will be asking for the correct authentification. There are three ways through a blocked node. The first is having access to any passwords - the correct ones will automatically let hackers through. The second one is to fight through - hack-attack
programs versus head-hunt
programs; see combat below for more details of this. The third way is via stealth. If the hacker has stealth
programs running, then they might be able to get past without an alarm being set off.
The hacker must have a stealth program currently running in CPU, if not, they may not be stealthy.
The hacker rolls 1d6 and adds their stealth rating and Computer skill. The target rolls 1d6 and adds either their patrol rating or half the head-hunt rating of the program in the node. If there is an actual operator within that node acting on behalf of the target node, then they may also add their Computer skill. Security nodes with no software are still entitled to their roll, they just don't get any modifiers to it.
Whoever has the highest total wins. If this is the hacker, then they may pass unnoticed and undetected through that node. If this is the node itself, then they are now alerted to the hackers' presence. If there are any head-hunt programs in the node, then they may automatically attack that phase.
When a hacker enters a system, the alarm will usually not have been sounded. This means that if the hacker is careful and stealthy, they can get around to where they want to go and no one will be watching for them or alerted to their presence. Once the alarm has been sounded (through combat or a via being detected by a patrol program), then they are in trouble. Operators from outside the system may then plug in (if any are present, and remember, this will take time) and the hackers' movements will become visible to the system. Operators on stand-by will take about 2d6 computer turns to enter the system. They may enter at any user node. Operators not on standby will usually arrive too late to have any impact on the hacking attempt.
Hacking combat is basically handled like close combat.
Each side rolls 1d6 + Computer Skill (or Virus level) + Hack-Attack
The highest total wins. The difference is the damage that the loser takes.
If the loser has armour programs running, then the armour is degraded by the damage first. This makes an armour program different to real armour which is not degraded. If an armour program which a rating 5 takes 2 points of damage, it then becomes an armour 3.
If the loser has no armour or the damage inflicted is greater than the armour then further damage goes directly to the hack-attack or head hunt program being used - Each point of damage decreases the programs rating by 1.
If there is further damage to be inflicted, then the result now depends on the user.
Plug: The damage inflicted goes directly to the users CON points. This is all real and physical damage and can kill.
Virus: The damage is applied against any other programs that the virus has installed. Once all programs have been reduced to zero, the virus is eliminated. Note though, that once the viruses attack programs have been knocked out, then it will effectively be destroyed. If multiple programs exist, one should be determined randomly for the damage to be inflicted on.
Operator: The operator sustains no damage, neither does their computer. However, their programs are destroyed as normal. If the operator doesn't do something though, they may be at risk from a trace program which may then lead an opponent to attack their user node. If this happens, then the computer will be destroyed, although the operator themselves will receive no damage.
Some vehicles and multicorps have active ECM systems running with which to defeat incoming electronics. These may or may not have an impact on hacking. If a hacker is coming into a system via a physical wire, then ECM will not impend them. If however, the hacker is beaming in their signal then unless the signal is one used by the target, ECM will have an affect. This will be that all rolls made by the hacker will have a negative modifer equal to the strength of the ECM. Usually though, the ECM will be part of the system (on a user node so once in, the hacker can usually turn this off.
Once a node is empty of any security, then it can be ransacked and made to do what the new owner wishes. No rolls are needed for this as the hacker is effectively in charge, but once they leave the node, then their control ends as well.
What can be done with a node depends on what it does.
Data Nodes can be robbed of their data, or it can be corrupted and destroyed. Retrieval programs are used to grab data, else 1 point of data may be corrupted or destroyed per phase.
User Nodes are nodes that usually do all the action, and as such it is very difficult to describe what can be done, but it could include turning off a security camera, scanning a home computers hard drive for data, or even corrupting a vehicles systems - see below or Dead Man's Curve part 2 for more ideas. If a user node is a plug socket, then it can be turned off, and if the node is actually a user with their plug, then continued attacks will cause direct damage to the user. At the moment technology doesn't allow an intruder to rummage around inside a plug users head to search for information.
A vehicle node may have any of the following things happen to it:
- Any hacker may:
Change turret or missile computer mode
Change the handling (as in Dead Man's Curve)
Turn off the vehicles IFF thus making it seem hostile to friendly targeting systems (such as turrets)
Fire one set of non-computer controlled weapons
Cut off external communications (save for the single route for hacking)
Turn on/off any security systems (internal or external)
Activate/Deactivate car door locks
- Those with specialist knowlegde (more than just hacking skills) may:
Feed false information to a GPS
Add fake targets to computer targeting systems
Security and Routing Nodes are nodes that it's not really possible to do much to save turn the node off. This would cause routing nodes to cut the network at that point and for the security node to not ask for passwords. Note that a security node is not considered empty even though it might not have any running software in it - however, any single successful attack against it will cause it to become empty.