Combat Hacking

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Emo_Duck Emo_Duck's picture
Combat Hacking

This is more of a creative inquiry than anything. When I first started reading the EP book, I had already begun envisioning a character that would hack the mesh inserts of opponents in combat and use AR illusions to throw them off. Reading the hacking rules more closely, though, I was stymied by the 10 minute task action it takes to defeat a firewall. The game I played it in has since stopped, but we had a bunch of players that made AGI characters, so almost every physically sleeved character had a ghostrider module to accomodate them. We didn't have that many violent episodes, but the AGI characters did find themselves rather sidelined during those moments.

Now, I had trouble fully grasping the hacking rules and remembering everything that's required, so feel free to shoot any of this down, but a thought occured to me, which is actually mentioned on p. 299: Hacking the equipment of opponents, rather than hacking their mesh inserts directly. Since practically every piece of equipment has a wireless Voice for interfacing, I figure that when a person utilises it in that manner, a signal gets sent from the mesh inserts to the device, which can then be sniffed by a vigilant ghostrider and subsequently spoofed without taking the 10 minutes to deal with a firewall.

The obvious use of this is to either lock the gun of your opponent or just expend the magazine in a wild spray, but I have my doubts about whether EP characters use a wireless signal or a physical trigger to use a gun. I expect both options are available, and in the case of a smartlinked weapon, a wireless connection is probably obligatory. I suppose this adds a layer of security to using a physical trigger, since you're not sending a radio signal that can be sniffed.

As for other gear, if an opponent has an x-ray emitter or a flashlight of some sort, you could activate that to make an enemy reveal himself. An electronic rope could bind its owner and a spindle climber could fire and drag the person toward whatever wall he's facing.

tl;dr: What do you do with your opponent's equipment once you've hacked it?

Graf Graf's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Reading the AR sections I got very interested in Batou style AR hacking.

It seemed like a great way to have characters participating in combat meaningfuly without necessarily having 80% -> super combat morph -> armor & superpowered weapon.

I have -no- idea how you'd do it in game yet.

Obviously you'd need the right programs and to be connected... Isn't there an implant that allows you to connect to anything you touch? Maybe you could get into an ecto that way?

Emo_Duck Emo_Duck's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Graf wrote:
Reading the AR sections I got very interested in Batou style AR hacking.

It seemed like a great way to have characters participating in combat meaningfuly without necessarily having 80% -> super combat morph -> armor & superpowered weapon.

I have -no- idea how you'd do it in game yet.

Obviously you'd need the right programs and to be connected... Isn't there an implant that allows you to connect to anything you touch? Maybe you could get into an ecto that way?

There is the skin-link nano-augmentation, but I think that requires *continuous* physical contact. The problem is that you can't really spoof someone's mesh inserts, as it's effectively a 'wired connection' to the user's brain. That means you'll have to deal with the firewall and thus the 10 minute task action. If you've met the person previously, though, you might have hacked their mesh inserts and installed a back door. I think that's the only way to really use AR illusions in combat.

psilynt1 psilynt1's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Well, there's brute force hacking, taking you to 20 action turns (1 minute), but it has its downsides, notably starting in Locked status even if things go well. You can rush the job up to -60 on your check and cut 60% of the time. That's 8 action turns. Backdoors and pre-hacking your targets would seem to be the only way that the core rules provides.

Here's some theorycraft crunching. A character with 90 Infosec and a specialization in brute force hacking (100), brute force hacking (+30) a maximum rush job (-60) with three helpers (+30), would have a target of 100. Depending on how the percentages are applied, a MoS of 30 (or 90) could reduce 30% (or 90%) more (p.120) taking it down to 2 (or 1) round(s).

Oddly the rules on p.117 say the maximum teamwork is +30, while on p.258 say it is +60. I'm also curious as to how they intended the Task Action description to read. Are players able to rush the job AND reduce the time further with MoS?

Graf Graf's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Also... with mental speed + multiple personality you can potentially have 4 actions a round. Infomorphs have 3 naturally.

So could two infomorphs do 6 rounds of hacking in 1 round?

HappyDaze HappyDaze's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

I thought I saw something in the rules that acting multiple passes doesn't speed-up longer base duration timed activities.

Chase Chase's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

First time EP poster here, but let's see what I can do...

Building off of psilynt1's ideas I came up with this:

-99 Infosec skill
-Brute Force bonus +30
-Specialization in brute force hacking +10
-Three helpers (Let's assume the limit is three for a +30, though six for +60 could be specifically for the Infosec skill. Also I'm thinking of the multitasking augmentation and a muse for the three helpers normally) +30
-Level three quality "Exploits" software (Using the "Elite Exploits" section on page 246): +30
Total: 199

Assuming both mechanics for reducing time required for task actions we can take a -60 to the check for -60% speed. Assuming we make the worst roll possible (Excluding the automatic failure of a 99) of a 98, we still have a MoS of 41. Increasing the speed of the brute force by an extra 40% and allowing us to brute force a single mesh insert in 4.8 turns (Rounded up to 5). The minimum roll it would take to drop that time to a single turn would be 49.

For your infomorph players though, they wouldn't be able to use a muse or the multitasking augmentation (Unless you're letting them) for the extra +30 bonus. Meaning their worst roll MoS would be an 11, and their minimum roll to drop that time to a single turn would be 19. They do have +2 to speed though, giving them three action turns per phase. So effectively they could roll a 39 to force their way inside in a single phase (Unfortunately a 49 would make it 3.2 turns, but I'm assuming like most GM's you round up).

As was previously pointed out though brute forcing automatically puts you in a "locked" state with some penalties, but if you're just dealing with your opponent's Muse, there's not much you have to worry about, but I would suggest loading a backdoor incase they reset or you get booted out. Another tactic could be loading a backdoor, then jumping out and using the backdoor to get in covertly.

Hope that helps!

PhoenixFlame PhoenixFlame's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

There's a much easier way to achieve combat hacking speed, but it requires looking in an unlikely place. In fact, I stumbled upon it accidently after generating a Lost Generation async who's psionic skills revolved around improving her thoughtspeed/computational abilities to Dune-Mentat levels.

Using Psi Chi's Multitasking sleight in combination with the Instinct sleight, she can take a purely mental action on the same phase as any physical action, and a purely analytical/processing action (like Hacking) has its time requirement reduced by 90%.

In short, she can hack a firewall in a minute, or brute force a system in six seconds, without rushing, at her full skill level. ... While performing any other normal action without any overstressing, since each action is independant and the sleights have no stress damage as they are constant. It's kind of funny really, but I'm beginning to see why people are going to want to exploit the broken little thing who can cogitate computer system security faster than an infomorph AGI.

Chase Chase's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

You're GMing that game, so go for it! But hacking is a technical skill, not a mental one (Page 176) as the sleight says they usually are. It looks to me like the sleight was intended for things more like investigation than hacking since understanding and analyzing the opponent's firewall doesn't get you through it. So maybe you could convince your GM to let you use the 30% for hacking through a firewall, but brute forcing your way into a system doesn't have much to do with analyzing.

PhoenixFlame PhoenixFlame's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

That was my original thought too, and I considered it was quite powerful that way, and wasn't averse to simply banning it because it was. Yet, the more I thought about it, the less I could rationalize it. It didn't make sense to me that all the multitasking, physical speed, math and predictive augmentations you can get, you can do complex mathematics instantly, shoot four people ten times each per turn, teleoperate fourty-six robots, or launch eight psi assault sleights in 3 seconds, but none of them made you any better at hacking.

It just didn't seem right. After all, the action has no physical component, since you're using an endo computer rather than one with a physical interface, and you're not doing anything physically technical like with a hardware skill (assembling parts, demolitions = planting explosives, ect.) It's all analysis, planning, and employing exploits agaisnt a machine (Whom you can presumably predict, you have exploits for it, after all) using your mind.

It doesn't make you hack any better or anything, just faster. Which honestly doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things if you're trying to be covert anyway, except in a few circumstances. I could understand not letting you brute force anything this way, though. You also can't really recieve any assistance doing this either, since you can't explain subconcious snap decisions to anyone, and they probably can't even understand your alien mindset either.

TheSnark TheSnark's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Can you not simply create a simulspace inside a Ghost Rider module using the Programming skill (In advance obviously) and mess around with the time dilation to the maximum (x60) so that one minute in reality would be experienced as one second in the Simulspace?
After that's you could just broadcast from your simulspace (giving yourself the relevant permissions of course) and attempt a hack on another wireless network or whatever?

PS: I've only recently gained a copy of the .pdf so I might be under the wrong impression about some of this.

PhoenixFlame PhoenixFlame's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Not sure if you could create a simulspace *inside* a ghostrider module, but if it were possible, that would be another way to drastically speed up your action time.

You could certainly use time dialation to speed up other mental/techical task actions like programming, or do a remote hack from a simulspace on a target as an infomorph... Not so certain if you can carry the simulspace around with you, though. If a fork is operating the simulspace, the ego/you operating your body will also not have awareness of their actions, and communication with an entity operating on a different subjective time may be difficult. (subjective lag involved, and all)

Otherwise, I don't see why not.

TheSnark TheSnark's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Hmm, that's a good point. The book does mention somewhere that ALOT of processing power is required to run an ego so I guess an ego AND a simulspace (which I guess would also be pretty hefty) in one module might not be possible.

A way round that, however would be to use a bot or synthmorph, build a small server into it and jam the morph instead of sleeving. It;s a little dangerous due to not having a cortical stack but you could ofset that slightly by having a radio booster built in so you could bail out to a greater range if you know the shit's going to hit the fan. Alternatively you could just shunt across to another player's Rider, assuming they'd let you. This also has the advantage of no mental strain because you;re never sleeved to begin with.

Hell you could always go all in and bolt a Quantum Computer to it for that encryption-breaking power, but I have no idea how big one would have to be physically.

Edit: As for carrying a simulspace around, I reckon you could just copy-paste it as a program or just rebuild one as you move around (although the programming would take a while)
Also, a beta fork could easily 'pilot' the morph/bot while you're in your VR forest, hacking with a sunflower (a new beta fork would be under the player's control providing you only used it temporarily; whilst your ego combat hacks, for example)

Octomorph Octomorph's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Though this isn't adding to the solutions: what I'd really like to see is the equivalent of the Razors in David J Williams' Autumn Rain series - combat hacking taken to a very high degree. I'll spend more time on the hacking rules and see if I can come up with any thoughts.

Artiamus Artiamus's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

There was something my original Shadowrun character did where he hacked the surrounding nodes of buildings and such and put pretty much pop-up spam in front of his opponents AR displays. They could filter it out and such, but by adding a aggressive hacking program into the mix even after they filtered it out it would continue to try to worm it's way into their AR again. The more nodes doing this the more likely a roll would come up in my favor. He went a step further by doing some quick hacking to their weapons and gear and using those as the nodes for the spam, causing the opponents to have to disconnect their smartlinks and such.

Don't know how to do it in this system though. There certainly should be a ruling for doing temporary 'quick hacks' during combat.

Sir_Psycho Sir_Psycho's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

I don't think combat hacking would be so viable in sudden, chaotic fights.

GM: "Ok, you glide down the floatway for thirty seconds before catching yourself on a grab loop and launching yourself through the float traffic into the antechamber of Kronos Module's Good-Times Cantina #5. A leisurely float through the shifting blue-green ambient light and pulsing synth-jazz of the cantina takes you to the gregarious Ruster working the bar, brandishing his alco-squirt like a weapon with his pink plastic polymer cyber-arm. He's read your mesh profile already and fills a transparent plastic popper with your favourite drink.
"I squirt a few refreshing drops of my mojito into my mouth and make some idle chat about Martian politics."
"As you chat about a Barsoomian shanty town where it turns out you both used to party, you turn just as the antechamber opens once more to reveal a full body-bleach Futura morph. Arjuna Fey, the ego hunter. You'd remember those piercing amber eyes anywhere. The cost-to-benefit ratio of hunting you down had tipped in your favour after you reached the outer system, but you guess that the pale bitch must have taken the Petal trip you slipped her in that New Shanghai souk personally. You thought it was pretty funny, but she launches herself across the room at you with a battle cry and a flash of her wasp knife. Roll initiative."
"I hack the bitch's mesh inserts."
"Really? You're going to break a firewall, defeat a muse and then isolate and fiddle with a particular system before she makes her way over and cuts you a new breathing hole?"

Now, if our indenture-jumper had rolled better on his perception test and noticed the Futura stalking him down the floatway, he could have started hacking 10 minutes ago. If he had even less time, he might have been able to sniff some of her traffic and then he would at least be able to launch a spoof attack at her before she disemboweled him.

I think the best time to use combat hacking would be before a fight, for example if your team are stalking another group trying to set up an ambush and a surprise test. I imagine it'd be quite an edge if just as your combat morphs start unloading their weapons, the enemies' tac-nets go down, their guns drop clips and their vision is overlaid with some neotenic/octomorph porn.

That reminds me, did any Shadowrun players here ever read Blackjack's rant about how deckers should stop trying to be action heros in combat and then complaining when their sheet inevitably gets put in the shredder.

Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Instead of hacking specific individual's mesh inserts, what about generating a generic burst of AR light (or advertising) in the general area? Something that is ridiculously overpowered so as to at least temporarily delay everyone in the area's muse in filtering it out? It would probably only work once during a fight but it might be enough to get a free hit in or to run away.

Or what about making cyber combat a free for all? Where two hackers are staring at each other from across a crowded bar, an epic cyber-battle raging while everyone around them is none the wiser? Or making hacking similar to a psychic ability, like a telpathic attack? When viewed through another lense, mesh inserts and the mesh could be seen as everyone haveing telepathic powers and access to a mass conciousness. It would bring the hackers up to par with the gun bunnies.

Or what about using hacking to affect things in the environment? Maybe the spinkler system has much less security than an individual's personal firewall.

Whoa, i think there's something in this vodka...

That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.

Kralizec Kralizec's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Chase wrote:
First time EP poster here, but let's see what I can do...

Building off of psilynt1's ideas I came up with this:

-99 Infosec skill
-Brute Force bonus +30
-Specialization in brute force hacking +10
-Three helpers (Let's assume the limit is three for a +30, though six for +60 could be specifically for the Infosec skill. Also I'm thinking of the multitasking augmentation and a muse for the three helpers normally) +30
-Level three quality "Exploits" software (Using the "Elite Exploits" section on page 246): +30
Total: 199


Page 115, Game Mechanics:
"Any number of modifiers may be applied, as the gamemaster deems appropriate, but the cumulative modifiers may not exceed + or – 60."
Everything you listed are cumulative modifiers, so there's no way you could get a +100.
I LOVE this rule.

[/Kralizec]

nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Kralizec wrote:
Chase wrote:
First time EP poster here, but let's see what I can do...

Building off of psilynt1's ideas I came up with this:

-99 Infosec skill
-Brute Force bonus +30
-Specialization in brute force hacking +10
-Three helpers (Let's assume the limit is three for a +30, though six for +60 could be specifically for the Infosec skill. Also I'm thinking of the multitasking augmentation and a muse for the three helpers normally) +30
-Level three quality "Exploits" software (Using the "Elite Exploits" section on page 246): +30
Total: 199


Page 115, Game Mechanics:
"Any number of modifiers may be applied, as the gamemaster deems appropriate, but the cumulative modifiers may not exceed + or – 60."
Everything you listed are cumulative modifiers, so there's no way you could get a +100.
I LOVE this rule.

That was before he added on the -60 from rushing the job. The net modifier is actually just +40.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

killj0y killj0y's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

lets look at what we're actually talking about.

What we want to see is Ghost in the Shell style brain hacks in the middle of combat.

The difficulty in getting to this point is as has been shown, Skill, will and time.

So based on the system we already have can you do it? Yes.
Can it be done in a few combat rounds? Yes.
Do you need to be an OMG l337 haxzor to pull it off before you get shot? Probably.

One of the down sides of brute force hacking someone's AR/mesh is likely to be that they are going to know they have been hacked right away.

This is not ideal because if you are trying to hack their eyes and convince them that they didn't see something or saw something else you will want that to be a surprise. If you're just going to shut down their AR entirely you might be able to blind them or at the very least complicate their ability to use their own mesh inserts.

If you watch carefully, unless the target is entirely unaware of you The Major and Batou tend to spend a few seconds dodging fire from behind cover while they get their hack on. Being skilled agents with top of the line government crypto breaking software and knowledge of all the best exploits certianly helps.

So to recap. Get the best tech you can, try to stay out of the line of fire and get someone to cover you long enough to do what you need to and it's not impossible to make some use out of what you are doing before guns make the entire question moot.

as to time dilation I think this won't work in this case because the target is not being dialated and their response time would obviate the usefulness of a x60 dilation. For instance if you are able to submit a full minute's worth of hacking in just under a second the computer might have time to respond to the first request before you are already a minute ahead of it in wasted time.

Bloodwork Bloodwork's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

First of all "If a character wishes to directly access other mesh nodes, they must toggle or log out of the simulspace." So you can't use time dilation and hacking together.

Secondly, who did we see using fast brain hacking in GitS? If I recall, it was only the Major, the Puppetmaster, and possibly Batou who could do that. It's possible not even the other members of their already elite team could do it.

It may not be a viable solution if it has to be done right now but as other people have said, a little preperation goes a long way.

That which doesn't kill you usually succeeds on the second attempt.

nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Bloodwork wrote:
First of all "If a character wishes to directly access other mesh nodes, they must toggle or log out of the simulspace." So you can't use time dilation and hacking together.

Secondly, who did we see using fast brain hacking in GitS? If I recall, it was only the Major, the Puppetmaster, and possibly Batou who could do that. It's possible not even the other members of their already elite team could do it.

It was the trademark technique of the Laughing Man, along with memory-editting.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

nick012000 wrote:
It was the trademark technique of the Laughing Man, along with memory-editting.

What the Laughing Man did is actually quite possible. You only have to infiltrate someone's system in order to produce AR illusions. Memory editing is not so easy in EP.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Sepherim Sepherim's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

As for the use of multiple personalities in hacking, remember that a character can't gain actions per turn from more than one implant at a time, and besides only the Multiple-Personality one (if I remember correctly) allows for those actions to take place in the mesh.

In case someone is doing this, though, you must also remember that those different personalities are independant (they are beta forks, afterall, and as such independant characters), so they can either use their actions to become a helping part to the character (thus giving him a +10 bonus each) or they can hack... on their own. So there would be no speeding up things because yo have multiple actions, except for that which you can get with the MoS.

The mind is information... hack it!
+4
http://tribulaciones.es/

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Sepherim wrote:
As for the use of multiple personalities in hacking, remember that a character can't gain actions per turn from more than one implant at a time, and besides only the Multiple-Personality one (if I remember correctly) allows for those actions to take place in the mesh.

In case someone is doing this, though, you must also remember that those different personalities are independant (they are beta forks, afterall, and as such independant characters), so they can either use their actions to become a helping part to the character (thus giving him a +10 bonus each) or they can hack... on their own. So there would be no speeding up things because yo have multiple actions, except for that which you can get with the MoS.

That's not accurate; all augmentations are cumulative unless stated otherwise (page 300). If it weren't for such combos as reflex booster + neurachem 2, you wouldn't be able to achieve a speed of 4. That said, multiple personality/ghostrider module/multi-tasking do not "allow" for actions in the mesh... you may always take mesh actions if you have mesh access instead of physical actions. Rather, actions granted by them must be used exclusively as mental or mesh actions (you cannot do anything physical with those bonus actions). It isn't a benefit, but rather a limitation to those actions.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Sepherim Sepherim's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Decivre wrote:
That's not accurate; all augmentations are cumulative unless stated otherwise (page 300). If it weren't for such combos as reflex booster + neurachem 2, you wouldn't be able to achieve a speed of 4. That said, multiple personality/ghostrider module/multi-tasking do not "allow" for actions in the mesh... you may always take mesh actions if you have mesh access instead of physical actions. Rather, actions granted by them must be used exclusively as mental or mesh actions (you cannot do anything physical with those bonus actions). It isn't a benefit, but rather a limitation to those actions.

Multi-tasking specifies it is not acumulative with other implants that give extra actions per turn (which is different from Speed), so it can't accumulate with the Mental Speed which is the other one that does the same.

And yes, you are right, it is a limitation. But it is noteworthy that while multi-tasking specifically limits to mental+mesh actions, mental speed allows only mental ones.

The mind is information... hack it!
+4
http://tribulaciones.es/

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Sepherim wrote:
Multi-tasking specifies it is not acumulative with other implants that give extra actions per turn (which is different from Speed), so it can't accumulate with the Mental Speed which is the other one that does the same.

And yes, you are right, it is a limitation. But it is noteworthy that while multi-tasking specifically limits to mental+mesh actions, mental speed allows only mental ones.

Very true, but mental speed does have advantages that multi-tasking does not, such as the ability to perceive bullets mid-flight and a +30 bonus to initiative. However, they are both combinable with the chi sleight Multitasking, which would either allow someone to have 3 mental/mesh actions per phase, or 2 mental actions with 1 mental/mesh action (and +30 init). Both are also combinable with any implants which increase speed, which will also increase the number of bonus actions they grant (due to the fact that they both grant bonus actions per phase, rather than turn).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Mental Speed doesn't stack with Multi-Tasking or Multiple Personality implants. All three of those do stack with Psi, though.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Just sayin, perceiving bullets wouldn't be exactly useful if you don't have the physical actions to do anything about it, like move. You'd just be able to experience being shot in much greater detail than ever before! I think this would induce stress, maybe even fear of being shot.... disregard that.

Back on topic, would it be possible to create a program or an AI that is a one-shot (for balance reasons) firewall demolisher? Make em expensive and require contact but also reduce the time to break a firewall to one turn (3 seconds).

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

UpliftedOctopi wrote:
Back on topic, would it be possible to create a program or an AI that is a one-shot (for balance reasons) firewall demolisher? Make em expensive and require contact but also reduce the time to break a firewall to one turn (3 seconds).

Except that one-shot firewall demolisher effectively becomes an infinite-use firewall demolisher. Software can be copied, transferred and reused. If it can be used once, then there are ways to use it again and again. Unless you can find some way to justify why this software magically disappears after a single use, it doesn't make much cohesive sense.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Making it a little more squishy sf, could you have a material component that is consumed in the process? I don't know, I'm taking my ideal mechanic and trying to make it fit the setting after the fact and with no real background in programing, but what would a one use firewall demolisher look like? Anyone out there care to weigh in?

Maybe just say that as soon as a certain type of "spike" is used multiple times the infosec community gets wind of it and a new one is needed, though I suppose this is what an exploit is... I would like my hacker players to be able to participate in combat almost like a caster in fantasy rpgs, in that they are fragile but can lay down some hurt if given ample time (2-3 uninterrupted rounds). This has much more to do with creating an enjoyable experience than trying to be true to what the setting suggests after one book. It would be nice to see a small (150-250 pg) hacking supplement sometime in the future to expand hackers' utility.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

UpliftedOctopi wrote:
Making it a little more squishy sf, could you have a material component that is consumed in the process? I don't know, I'm taking my ideal mechanic and trying to make it fit the setting after the fact and with no real background in programing, but what would a one use firewall demolisher look like? Anyone out there care to weigh in?

Maybe just say that as soon as a certain type of "spike" is used multiple times the infosec community gets wind of it and a new one is needed, though I suppose this is what an exploit is... I would like my hacker players to be able to participate in combat almost like a caster in fantasy rpgs, in that they are fragile but can lay down some hurt if given ample time (2-3 uninterrupted rounds). This has much more to do with creating an enjoyable experience than trying to be true to what the setting suggests after one book. It would be nice to see a small (150-250 pg) hacking supplement sometime in the future to expand hackers' utility.

I disagree: the mesh is just as varied, if not more so, than any other locale in the Solar System. I think it warrants a full-size book detailing not just new material for hacking and mesh use, but info on mesh locales, simulspaces, major vidgames and even the habitat Glitch.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

what exactly are you disagreeing with? Do you have anything to add to the discussion or just a general "nu-uh" statement?

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

UpliftedOctopi wrote:
what exactly are you disagreeing with? Do you have anything to add to the discussion or just a general "nu-uh" statement?

I think it warrants a full-size book, rather than a small book. At least of the same size as Sunward and Gatecrashing.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

If that is the decision made then I fully support it. I wasn't speaking of a book to describe the mesh in its entirety, I had in mind a book much like "Song and Silence" or "Tomes and Blood" from the D&D line. Either way, I need to have, at least, an improvised system for combat hacking until such material becomes available.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

UpliftedOctopi wrote:
If that is the decision made then I fully support it. I wasn't speaking of a book to describe the mesh in its entirety, I had in mind a book much like "Song and Silence" or "Tomes and Blood" from the D&D line. Either way, I need to have, at least, an improvised system for combat hacking until such material becomes available.

What I would recommend is that task actions require only the dedication of a single complex action per turn. This way, if your hacker has multiple phases or bonus mental/mesh complex actions, they can hack while still contributing to the fight. Also, remember that brute-force hacking is relatively fast. You get a +30 bonus to the test, it only takes a single minute and every 10 MoS reduces the hack time by 10%. I might even recommend that a critical success is the instantaneous break-in you want hackers to have.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

artifex artifex's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Decivre wrote:

Except that one-shot firewall demolisher effectively becomes an infinite-use firewall demolisher. Software can be copied, transferred and reused. If it can be used once, then there are ways to use it again and again. Unless you can find some way to justify why this software magically disappears after a single use, it doesn't make much cohesive sense.

Well, maybe the one-use hacking programs work like advanced phishing scams. The hacker has to take some time to design a data packet that spoofs a legitimate source and is detailed and unique enough to get past the victim's security software and cause them to open it, but once one person's fallen for it, it gets automatically added to some sort of public spam list, and from there on out, systems just ignore it.

So, the underlying intrusion software remains the same, but the phishing transmission has to be redesigned for each use.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

artifex wrote:
Well, maybe the one-use hacking programs work like advanced phishing scams. The hacker has to take some time to design a data packet that spoofs a legitimate source and is detailed and unique enough to get past the victim's security software and cause them to open it, but once one person's fallen for it, it gets automatically added to some sort of public spam list, and from there on out, systems just ignore it.

So, the underlying intrusion software remains the same, but the phishing transmission has to be redesigned for each use.

Phishing scams work off of human error, not computer error. The odds of creating such a crack that spoofs a legitimate source without prior access to their codes is very unlikely. It might work in places where security isn't a big deal (and they do not update their asymmetric keys often). The primary function of spoofing is not to look like someone specific on the net, but to look like anyone except you.

Granted, one-turn hacking is possible if the hacker has previously unlocked access to a system and has simply not used it until the group needed them to. That is a very real likelihood, especially if your hacker is a good planner. Have them go about and set up whatever exploits they need in advance, so that when the day comes that they need to break into a system and steal files, the job will mostly already be done.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Cloud and Water Cloud and Water's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Decivre wrote:

What I would recommend is that task actions require only the dedication of a single complex action per turn. This way, if your hacker has multiple phases or bonus mental/mesh complex actions, they can hack while still contributing to the fight. Also, remember that brute-force hacking is relatively fast. You get a +30 bonus to the test, it only takes a single minute and every 10 MoS reduces the hack time by 10%. I might even recommend that a critical success is the instantaneous break-in you want hackers to have.

I really like the idea of critical successes granting immediate access when brute forcing. It makes combat hacking much more feasible for experienced hackers and allows anyone with enough skill to get a success use a moxie point to bump it to a critical success in desperate situations.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Cloud and Water wrote:
I really like the idea of critical successes granting immediate access when brute forcing. It makes combat hacking much more feasible for experienced hackers and allows anyone with enough skill to get a success use a moxie point to bump it to a critical success in desperate situations.

Plus, it can easily represent the idea that your hacker lucked out and used the right exploit first when he brought his software to bear on the system.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

GJD GJD's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

The limited use icebreaker (to use an oldschool term) is a nice idea that I plan to implement. A particular intrusion program is only effective for a limited number of uses before it's attacks are recognised and security updates written, created or issued ("Would you like to install updates now?") that either render it useless or reduce it's effectiveness. I planned to use this method in a cyberpunk game that has been rattling around in my head for a while. Hackers end up with "ammo" for their programs, and have to renew them periodically. You can either say that when you run out of "ammo" the program is useless, or just reduce it's effectiveness each time.

G.

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

I think we have arrived at at least a workable solution, one that will tide us over until PHS releases a book on it. Anyone motivated enough to write up stats?

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

GJD wrote:
The limited use icebreaker (to use an oldschool term) is a nice idea that I plan to implement. A particular intrusion program is only effective for a limited number of uses before it's attacks are recognised and security updates written, created or issued ("Would you like to install updates now?") that either render it useless or reduce it's effectiveness. I planned to use this method in a cyberpunk game that has been rattling around in my head for a while. Hackers end up with "ammo" for their programs, and have to renew them periodically. You can either say that when you run out of "ammo" the program is useless, or just reduce it's effectiveness each time.

G.

It just doesn't make sense from a technical standpoint. Even if you worked under the assumption that these cracks were utilizing some flaw that could be patched eventually, the trick would be less likely to have an ammunition limit, and instead would have a time limit from the first time it was used until a proper security fix was implemented.

Cinema has a funny way of making hackers look like techno-wizards. In reality, hacking is often a rather unglamorous affair of either sitting in front of a screen typing code, or sifting through code looking for loopholes or information. That said, there are ways within the game to get a cinematic feel while utilizing hacker tricks and techniques. Brute force hacking speeds up firewall breaks so fast that it's actually feasible to do so in combat. Loading up a number of infosec AI who jointly assault a system with a DDoS attack. AR illusions can be used mid-fight to cause your opponent to duck attacks that never come, and fall into real attacks that actually hurt. Melee combat can be used to gain access to a puppet sock's physical access ports, allowing for direct hacking opportunities (especially if a person's firewall isn't set to watch direct connections, which is a possibility).

All in all, though, the duty of the hacker is one of patience, planning and strategic timing. Their's is a combat more akin to chess, where they have to move all the pieces in place and take plenty of time to do so. It is not something that is fast and athletic, but slow and calculated. Sure it may not be the kind of hacking most people want, but then there are others like me who love it.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

What we're trying to build is a way to, using the super science of EP, reconcile a hard sci-fi setting with that "hollywood hacking". For me it's mostly because my hacker player gets bored during combat. Planning ahead is all well and good but, in a sci fi horror game, I don't think it should really be an option a majority of the time. Using the large number of mental actions hackers tend to have, I think the crit and MoS idea mentioned earlier is a great way to implement it. The measure-counter-measure explanation is just a way to allow this mechanic in the setting without to much disruption.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

One thing I would recommend is not to make pure hacker characters. They tend to be boring. Instead, it's best to mix hacking skills with another skillset that complements it. Combining pilot skills and other SOM and REF skills with your hacking skills can allow your hacker to pilot drones in combat, and he can do so and participate in combat through his drones while still hacking. If you go for social skills, your character can be a subtle hacker, one who can break into someone's mesh inserts while spending time with them, utilizing their social skills for that opportunity. Social skills combined with hacking skills also reflect a common hacker motif in real life, as many of the greatest hackers were also expert social engineers who "hacked" people's trust as well as their systems (Kevin Mitnick immediately comes to mind). If you go with infiltration skills, you come off as the classic computer spy, who can sneak into facilities and get close enough to computer systems which are otherwise inaccessible. Lastly, a personal favorite is to combine hacking with unarmed combat. With an opportunity for direct physical combat, a hacker gains the means to hack into things he would not normally be able to do wirelessly... like, say, a cyberarm. Hint for the last one: purchase skinlink, a disabler (page 316), and either shock gloves or eelware. You'll thank me for that advice.

In short, the best way to make hacking fun is to combine it with other skills. Most skill-based games are designed in such a way that characters with one trick are generally bland, anyways.

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

Smokeskin Smokeskin's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

If I wanted to give hackers a combat role, I'd look outside of actual hacking. The idea of in combat hacking has the problem that it soon becomes totally unbelievable that people would use something so vulnerable. Some ideas:

Tacnets. Let the hacker operate and tune the tacnet for team buffs. Tactical Analysis could give +INIT, Firing Solution could give +hit, Plot Firing Arcs could give cover bonuses.

Electronic Warfare. Through jamming, directed radiation from ECM pods, and spoofed signals, the hacker could interfere with enemy comms, keep their tacnet down, dazzle smartlink sensors, flood terahertz and radar spectrums to deny the enemy the ability to see through walls. Homing rounds could get fed false signals, matching laser sight frequencies could veer laser-guided rounds off target (though I'd be reluctant to upset balance between kinetic and other weapons).

Guiding nanoswarms. Nanoswarms can do damage, or access electronics and implants physically. Grenades and rounds with nano payloads could be common. People would have guardian swarms protecting them, and the combat between attacking and defending swarms could be decided by choosing the right configurations and molecular weapons for the swarm, something the hacker could guide. A nanoround might as standard just do some damage before the defender's guardian swarm counters it, but under the control of the hacker they could keep the guardians at bay and do more damage and infect implants and have secondary effects.

GJD GJD's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Decivre wrote:

It just doesn't make sense from a technical standpoint. Even if you worked under the assumption that these cracks were utilizing some flaw that could be patched eventually, the trick would be less likely to have an ammunition limit, and instead would have a time limit from the first time it was used until a proper security fix was implemented.

Cinema has a funny way of making hackers look like techno-wizards. In reality, hacking is often a rather unglamorous affair of either sitting in front of a screen typing code, or sifting through code looking for loopholes or information. That said, there are ways within the game to get a cinematic feel while utilizing hacker tricks and techniques. Brute force hacking speeds up firewall breaks so fast that it's actually feasible to do so in combat. Loading up a number of infosec AI who jointly assault a system with a DDoS attack. AR illusions can be used mid-fight to cause your opponent to duck attacks that never come, and fall into real attacks that actually hurt. Melee combat can be used to gain access to a puppet sock's physical access ports, allowing for direct hacking opportunities (especially if a person's firewall isn't set to watch direct connections, which is a possibility).

All in all, though, the duty of the hacker is one of patience, planning and strategic timing. Their's is a combat more akin to chess, where they have to move all the pieces in place and take plenty of time to do so. It is not something that is fast and athletic, but slow and calculated. Sure it may not be the kind of hacking most people want, but then there are others like me who love it.

There are three responses to this. Firstly, I think it has it's own internal consistency and is a logical reason why a hacker character needs to continually go for the new "hot" icebreaker, instead of relying on the same old program again and again. From a GM's pont of view it gives me another tool to use in storytelling and gives the hacker charactter something else to think about - the hacker might have a super-hot icebreaker, but only have one or two uses left on it. DO they risk using it now when they might need it in the future? A random or variable element to the effectivness would be even better, so they are never sure when the security systems have caught up with it, but i think this might be a step too far.

Secondly, I think the idea of "shots" limiting the effectivness actually nicely reflects the battle between security providers/sysops and hackers in discovering exploits, backdoors, loopholes and other entry systems. It's not perfect, but it gives enough flavour without too much tedious book keeping No system is 100% secure and the more complex they become, the more opportunities there are to exploit them. I work with firewall configurations, peripherally, and there are new hack exploits appearing all the time; wallclimber, roach, spank attack, finger of death, fraggle attack (what the hell, a fraggle attack - Iam I gonna see doozers appearing out of my server?). It's a constant process for our security team to keep stuff up to date and patched.

Thirdly, as I said in the first line of my post, this was something I intended to implement, not a game rule suggestion.
You are making an assumption that I don't know how hacking works or how it would be best portrayed in the game. I can think of many ways to do that (mostly by a tedious research process or setting up a repetetive program to try obvious passwords - by far the most common security threat is still login= "administrator", password="password"), but I don't want that - i want something exciting, fast and cinematic, which is where this thread started. If you have a fundamental objection to people wanting that kind of hacking, then OK. As i have said in other threads, this is IMEPU - In My Eclipse Phase Universe. Don't tread on me.

G.

Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

GJD wrote:
There are three responses to this. Firstly, I think it has it's own internal consistency and is a logical reason why a hacker character needs to continually go for the new "hot" icebreaker, instead of relying on the same old program again and again. From a GM's pont of view it gives me another tool to use in storytelling and gives the hacker charactter something else to think about - the hacker might have a super-hot icebreaker, but only have one or two uses left on it. DO they risk using it now when they might need it in the future? A random or variable element to the effectivness would be even better, so they are never sure when the security systems have caught up with it, but i think this might be a step too far.

Much of the hacking in Eclipse Phase is made up of generalizations. For instance, the software you purchase in the game isn't a single program, but a collection of programs you utilize for doing various task. Purchasing the exploit software basically means purchasing a multitude of exploit softwares, all of which you utilize as a situation demands. Moreover, they already have mechanics that deal with the obsolescence of software; read under the header Elite Exploits on page 246 for info on how they recommend handling cutting edge or obsolete software. I'd say it works quite fine.

GJD wrote:
Secondly, I think the idea of "shots" limiting the effectivness actually nicely reflects the battle between security providers/sysops and hackers in discovering exploits, backdoors, loopholes and other entry systems. It's not perfect, but it gives enough flavour without too much tedious book keeping No system is 100% secure and the more complex they become, the more opportunities there are to exploit them. I work with firewall configurations, peripherally, and there are new hack exploits appearing all the time; wallclimber, roach, spank attack, finger of death, fraggle attack (what the hell, a fraggle attack - Iam I gonna see doozers appearing out of my server?). It's a constant process for our security team to keep stuff up to date and patched.

True, but any given hacker doesn't use a single exploit when working on all systems. Even in the modern day, it would b stupid to only have a single software exploit. What if your exploit only works on Windows, and you're hacking a Linux system? What if your hack only works on Apache servers, but they're running GlassFish? This disparity may become more wide as tech gets more advanced.

An exploit software suite should have a multitude of exploits to utilize. If one doesn't work, it can go onto another. Obsolescence of the entire suite should take a very long time to occur.

GJD wrote:
Thirdly, as I said in the first line of my post, this was something I intended to implement, not a game rule suggestion.
You are making an assumption that I don't know how hacking works or how it would be best portrayed in the game. I can think of many ways to do that (mostly by a tedious research process or setting up a repetetive program to try obvious passwords - by far the most common security threat is still login= "administrator", password="password"), but I don't want that - i want something exciting, fast and cinematic, which is where this thread started. If you have a fundamental objection to people wanting that kind of hacking, then OK. As i have said in other threads, this is IMEPU - In My Eclipse Phase Universe. Don't tread on me.

G.

Why does everyone get so defensive? Run the game how you want to. I was just offering suggestions. Last time I checked, the game was Creative Commons, so you can do with it what you will. As someone who works in the software sector programming this kind of crap, I figured I'd offer my critique on the subject. Besides, the biggest thing you have to remember is the balance between software defense and offense. Speeding up the pace of hacking puts the ball in the court of the attacker, and makes defense somewhat pointless. If every hacker is able to break a firewall in a matter of seconds, then why would anyone bother to even purchase one? The current pace works fairly well, and brute forcing suffices for high-speed hacking that some people want (complete with trade-offs).

Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age.

Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.

CodeBreaker CodeBreaker's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

nvm

-

UpliftedOctopi UpliftedOctopi's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

@ Decievre, just go away. You never seem to add anything to a forum. You're just want to prove how smart you are with NU-UH statements which are usually not even correct. If you love Eclipse Phase, do it a favor and stop being you.

@ Smokeskin, I like the idea (see decievre, try suggesting something. Be more than useless) that you had about making them a tech buffer, with the tac-net and similar things. Have you used this at all in game?

GJD GJD's picture
Re: Combat Hacking

Decivre wrote:

Why does everyone get so defensive? Run the game how you want to. I was just offering suggestions. Last time I checked, the game was Creative Commons, so you can do with it what you will. As someone who works in the software sector programming this kind of crap, I figured I'd offer my critique on the subject. Besides, the biggest thing you have to remember is the balance between software defense and offense. Speeding up the pace of hacking puts the ball in the court of the attacker, and makes defense somewhat pointless. If every hacker is able to break a firewall in a matter of seconds, then why would anyone bother to even purchase one? The current pace works fairly well, and brute forcing suffices for high-speed hacking that some people want (complete with trade-offs).

I'm afraid that your suggestions sound a bit like commandments at times. The start of the thread was asking how hacking could be made more cinematic, and you have been telling other posters why it shouldn't be. Okay, if that's how you want your game to go, groovy. I hope you have a great time with that. Me, I want something different. Your suggestions are prfectly valid and your arguments aren't flawed, but this isn't a discussion on what is the "right" way to run hacking, and you aren't going to change my mind. I just don't agree with you, so please stop telling me I am wrong.

G.

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