The Complete Guide to Hacking in EP

39 posts / 0 new
Last post
Chase Chase's picture
The Complete Guide to Hacking in EP

The Complete Guide to Hacking in EP

“Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.

I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can't stop us all... after all, we're all alike.” – The Mentor.

At the core of transhumanity’s power is the uncounted technological inventions it depends on. In a world where machines guided by a digital blueprint can build anything and consciousness is often distilled into electrons scurrying across a circuit board, is it really any wonder that those who have learned how to control software and hardware can reach out and take that power as their own?

The hacker character archetype in Eclipse Phase at its most basic is a simple combination of a few skills and a single attribute. While there are a few methods to optimize the benefits and use of these core elements, a hacker character can also expand in several directions with additional skills to accompany the core set and provide the party with a wide variety of options. Some of the secondary roles suggested in this guide include a drone teleoperator that provides additional fire support, forward scouting, and vehicle control; an intelligence specialist that can use a variety of techniques and tools to gather and analyze useful information; and a social engineer that can choose to work around digital systems by hacking the social fabric of transhumanity to get what they need. These secondary roles are discussed more in-depth with their own sections in the skills and equipment portions of this guide.

In order to rate character options, I’ll be using the following system of color coding. Please note that while all background and faction options will appear to accommodate all character origin concepts, only the most relevant skill, morph, and equipment options will be expanded upon and rated.

Gold = The best choice, hands down.
Sky Blue = A great choice, adds more towards the role than most.
Blue = A good choice, offers some bonuses towards the role.
White = A viable choice that supports the role a little in a direct or indirect way.
Purple = A weak choice, not worth it or underpowered.
Red = A poor choice. Don’t pick unless the character’s theme doesn’t work without it.

Book acronyms will be used throughout this guide to source references so you can go to the material to find the exact text. The acronyms will be as follows:

EP – Eclipse Phase Core Rulebook (4th Printing)
TH – Transhuman
PO – Panopticon
FW – Firewall
GC – Gatecrashing
RW - Rimward
SW – Sunward

Errors and suggestions: If you notice an error in this guide, have a suggestion, or believe a portion of the guide needs deeper clarification, please leave a comment within the thread and I’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

Table of Contents
1. Backgrounds
2. Factions
3. Skills
4. Morphs
5. Traits
6. Equipment
7. Actions and Rules
8. Additional Resources
9. Final Notes and Thanks

Chase Chase's picture

Hacker and secondary roles require a lot of investment in their skills to be raised to high chances of success. To best manage Creation Points and Rez Points, selecting a character background that feeds directly into the skills needed can offer a lot more breathing room for picking up the secondary roles or extraneous skills desired. However if top rated options don’t give the opportunity for the character history or personality you desire, it should only set you back 30-40 CP worth of bonuses, and may provide a more enjoyable roleplaying experience. For those wanting to play an optimized character that can provide the most support (Or challenge, looking at you gamemasters!) to the party there are some very good options here.

Core Book

Drifter: The usefulness of Pilot: Spacecraft is heavily dependent on if your group will even have a spacecraft, and if you’ll be putting it past any warsats or asteroid fields. If not, an AI can generally do the job. For most others since the Direction Sense trait beats out the Navigation bonus as a 5 CP ego trait, and other backgrounds have higher Networking bonuses, this background looks like a bust. Mechanically it’s probably worth spending the CP for the skills you want and picking something different.

Fall Evacuee: Pilot: Groundcraft is one of the more common piloting skills to come into play in EP if you’re looking to help with that role. The networking bonus could be better, but at least you have your choice of fields. The Moxie bonus is a great thing for a hacker, and the -2,500 credits is more than replaced by spending 3 CP.

Hyperelite: This has some potential for a corporate hacker archetype. Networking: Hypercorps bonus and a small Protocol bonus could help get you authorized access to areas others can’t. The credits bonus is definitely useful with all the gear hackers need. It could work if you can escape all the attention to do your work.

Infolife: Infosec, Interfacing, and Programming are any hacker’s bread and butter, and being able to spend half the CP to bring these skills to 80 (max) at character creation is just insane. Research comes in handy a lot as well, and there’s no reason not to pick it up for half price too. The Interfacing bonus drops the amount of CP you’ll be spending on your core skills as well, making the bonuses on this background incredible. The penalties are a bit stiff however with social skills costing double. This will likely tank your Impersonation and Deception skills, which become especially valuable in the inner system since being an AGI strips you of most rights and brings on a lot of prejudice. In the outer system your tanked Networking skills will make working the reputation economy to get what you need much more difficult. The double cost does go away after character creation (As does the half-off other skills) since you’ll never use CP again, and you can use Rez Points to improve either skillset as normal.

Isolate: Large bonuses to any two skills of your choice is a great advantage if you’re looking to have a good selection of high skills. At first glance the disadvantage sucks, but putting just 1 CP into reputation at the end of character creation will make up for it. All in all a good background with simple advantages and a small disadvantage.

Lost: A Psi/Hacker is actually a very viable combination, though about as weird as it sounds. The greatest bonus to the hacker side of the house is the multitasking sleight, which while it won’t stack with the Mental Speed or Multitasking implant, will still give you half the bonus of the implants as long as you can use the sleight. If the first level of the trait allows you to step up to Psi Trait Level 2, then you can in a way become a hacker of biological and synthetic cognitive systems, though with a large skill requirement. Outside of the trait, the Knowledge skills aren’t a huge bonus, as the 300 CP you’ll have to spend will cover all of your needed skills and more. The required Futura morph isn’t bad at all, and if your character had a motivation to sell it (*Cough* Social Stigma (Lost) *Cough*) it could go for a large amount if they could find a buyer. This background’s required mental disorders could hit at bad times, but they are picked by the player (GM could say otherwise) and they can be cured. All of that said, if your GM will let you take the Psi (Level 1 or 2) trait, treat this background as Purple.

Lunar Colonist: A little Pilot: Groundcraft isn’t a bad skill to get for free, but the small bonus to a Technical, Academic: [Field], or Professional: [Field] of choice is better for a hacker than most other character archetypes as all of the main hacker skills are Technical. Networking: Hypercorps cuts out some freedom of choice, but it’s not bad. There’s not a lot here for hackers, but you were planning the Pilot and Networking skills anyways, the technical boost helps to round up the skills you really need.

Martian: Same advantages as the Lunar Colonist, different flavor.

Original Space Colonist: Like the Lunar Colonists and Martians, but focused on zero-gravity. A choice between Pilot: Spacecraft and Freefall isn’t bad, especially since the latter had a wider array of uses. The bonus to a Technical, Academic: [Field], or Professional: [Field] of choice is the same, but the Networking skill bonus can be applied to any reputation network, not just the Hypercorps.

Reinstated: Similar to Fall Evacuee, but with less credits and the Edited Memories trait. If you don’t mind your GM holding that card in their pocket and buying a little more (2 CP worth) credit this is a little bit better than Fall Evacuee since you get even more Moxie.

Scumborn: While this background doesn’t offer anything directly for a hacker, it has some decent support skill bonuses. A choice between Deception and Persuasion can add to a social engineer side. The Scrounging bonus lends towards a DIY jury-rigging flair, and Networking: Autonomists is great if you’re looking for DRM-free software.

Uplift: The bonuses to Perception and Fray are both nice, if a little small. The two knowledge skills are decent, though as a hacker you should have what you want covered by the 300 you’ll have to spend. The bonuses aren’t really worth the morph restriction though as a hacker, since all uplift morphs have no COG bonus except for a +5 to an aptitude of the player’s choice. There is a way to get this higher (See Morphs section), but unless you really want to avoid the Social Stigma (Uplift) disadvantage (Which this background doesn’t have for some reason, possibly a misprint) take a look at the uplift options from the Transhuman book.


Ape Uplift: Fray, Unarmed Combat, Intimidation, and the Brave trait are all well and good, but unless your idea of connecting to a target is to pin them down and use Skinlink nanoware (A job better suited to someone more specialized to the task) this is probably a better option for the beatsticks.

Bonobo Uplift: Nothing for a classic hacker here, though the small bonuses the long skill list of Freerunning, Kinesics, Persuasion, and two Networking fields of your choice plus the Social Animal trait for free is well worth a level 1 Addiction (Sex) and easily hidden Social Stigma (Uplift) traits.

Cetacean Uplift: Nothing here for a hacker, and unfortunately the bonuses to Art: Singing and Swimming are very niche and it’s better to go for Knowledge skill CP or skillsofts for the few occasions you want them. The Social Animal trait is useful, but with nothing else but a small Networking bonus it’s a flavorful but mechanically weak background.

Chimp Uplift: Of all the uplifts, this is the only one to be barely useful as a hacker background. One skill of the player’s choice gets a small bonus, which can help with any of a hacker’s primary skills. Climbing, Fray, Freerunning, and Networking: Hypercorps also get small bonuses, which aren’t bad for only a Social Stigma (Uplift) disadvantage.

Corvid Uplift: There’s not much here for a hacker, though it is worth noting that this background is the only one with a free bonus to flight which is at best a use for jamming robots or at least a novel way of getting to access ports or within radio range of a target. The small navigation bonus is relatively useless, though the small perception bonus is worth a little. The Scavenging bonus seems most useful for managing the Hoarder trait that comes with the background in addition to the Social Stigma (Uplift) trait.

Emergent AGI Uplift: With a decent bonus to Infosec, and great bonuses to Interfacing and Programming, this background offers a lot of skills to hacker characters. However they receive four traits that penalize them socially rather than the usual two with the addition of Emotive Blindness and Poorly Socialized. The restriction to starting the game with an infomorph or eidolon isn’t bad, as there are eidolons with good aptitude bonuses and ways of travelling with the rest of your party even without a public mesh until you get a real morph.

Feral Uplift: These are the uplifts that make other uplifts look bad. You could, but don’t.

Humanities Infolife: While most AGI characters are good for penetrating a network or device and getting down to business, this background doesn’t have much going for them except good bonus to Interfacing, and a small one to Research. However if Academics (Psychology or Sociology), Kinesics, and Networking: [Field] were on the shopping list for your character consider it Blue.

Indenture: A bonus to a Profession: [Field], and smaller ones to Networking: Hypercorps and a skill of the player’s choice is underwhelming but decent. It gets better if that indenture was as an Infomorph doing digital security or something for Profession: [Security Systems].

Machine Infolife: The great bonus to Interfacing, bonus to Programming, and small bonus to Infosec are a great spread for a hacker. The Machine Intuition trait has some potential (See Traits) for a classic hacker, but lends itself more to a machinist character. This background does have the Poorly Socialized, Real World Naiveté, and Social Stigma (AGI) traits, but does not have a morph restriction like the Emergent AGI background.

Maker Nomad: The small bonus to a Hardware: [Field] lends itself towards a hacking role, and the Scrounging and Academics: [Field] (Especially for Chemistry) bonus has potential. However the Profession: Teraforming bonus doesn’t seem to have much use.

Neanderthal Uplift: With only small bonuses to Freerunning, Networking: [Field], and Academics: [Field] and a bonus to Art: Music, this background is weak on active skills. Upgrade to Purple if you want to be an autonomist underground DJ Neanderthal hacker that hosts shows in the inner system and tries to run from the cops when the party’s busted.

Octopus Uplift: These uplifts are more suited for physical than digital infiltration with small bonuses to Deception, Disguise, Free-fall, Infiltration, and swimming. The Hardening (Isolation) and Solitary traits don’t detract from their hacking potential but the whole background does offer a good secondary set of skills to complement a hacker archetype that aren’t found in other backgrounds.

Parrot Uplift: Perhaps the best background for a social engineering hacker this uplift background offers a good bonus in Impersonation and the First Impression trait. The small bonus to Flight and a Networking: [Field] of choice round out the package.

Pig Uplift: A good bonus to Scrounging and small ones to Investigation, Perception, Networking: Hypercorps and a Profession: [Field] of choice are good bonuses, but offer little to an aspiring hacker. Their mental skill bonuses are offset by the physical and awareness disadvantages of Impaired Balance (Level 1) and Oblivious (Level 1) that would further single out any pig uplift hacker from being useful in meatspace.

Research Infolife: A large bonus to Research, good one to an Academics: [Field] of choice, and a small one to Interfacing offers some useful additions to a standard hacking skillset. If all these skills are on your list, treat as Blue.

Sufi Nomad: The small bonuses to Art: [Field] and Navigation from this background are relatively useless, and nothing but the small bonuses to Infiltration and Scrounging do anything to redeem this background.

Titanian Hulder: Small bonuses to an Academics: [Field] of choice, Animal Handling, and Scrounging aren’t bad, though Profession: Prospecting is a little niche.

Chase Chase's picture

(Reserved for future backgrounds)

Chase Chase's picture

Factions provide roughly the same amount of skill bonuses as backgrounds, though with a higher prevalence of Networking: [Field] and movement skill options. This means that ratings in this section are less definitive and more dependent on the type of campaign the character is being played in. Factions also play a large role in who your character is, and their most recent affiliations, so if you don’t want to play a character somewhat distant from the core of transhumanity, you might avoid the Ultimate and Mercurial backgrounds, even if they are highly rated.

Core Book

Anarchist: A free small bonus to any skill and a large bonus to Networking: Autonomists is pretty good. For an Infolife background hobbled on social skills, having that large bonus is especially nice, treat as Sky Blue for a character with the Infolife Background.

Argonaut: The skill bonuses for Argonauts are restricted to technical, Academic: [Field] and Profession: [Field] which is a rather good selection for a hacker, just not as good as free choice. A good Networking: Scientists bonus is good, especially if your GM agrees with me they’re more likely to be able to give you access to a secure simulspace server, quantum computer, or other items a hacker needs at times but has trouble carrying around.

Barsoomian: The problem with the small Freerunning bonus here is it’s not a highly valued skill for most hackers, unless you’re unlucky or bad enough to get traced in the middle of a habitat and put on the run. The bonus to Networking: Autonomists and small bonus to a skill of choice finishing out this background’s advantages are good options though.

Brinker: The small bonus to Pilot: Spacecraft has limited uses, but being able to choose where a Networking: [Field] and small skill bonus go without restrictions helps make up for it.

Criminal: Pure social skill bonuses, after all, crime is a people business! Hacking and crime go hand in hand so the large bonus to Networking: Criminals is nice for a wide range of things: Cracked software, darkcasting, illegal tech, or selling those perfect-for-blackmail files you got from that “secure” server. The small Intimidation bonus isn’t as good for most backgrounds as a free skill choice, but the overall background is still a good choice. Treat as Blue for a character with the Infolife Background.

Extropian: A bonus to Networking: Autonomists and small bonuses to Persuasion and Networking: Hypercorps doesn’t give much towards a hacking role, but offers some good support (Especially to those who frequent both sides of the asteroid belt) if you’re willing to put CP/RP into raising both up to decent levels.

Hypercorp: A bonus to Networking: Hypercorps and a small bonus to a Networking: [Field] of choice aren’t bad, but that it finishes off with protocol doesn’t make this faction anything special.

Jovian: A Networking: Hypercorps bonus, and small bonuses to Fray and two weapon skills of choice isn’t bad, especially since as a hacker you’ll still want Fray and at least one weapon skill. However the morph restrictions and no nanoware or advanced nanotech at the start really hurts a hacker themed character. They could change and pick it up after character creation of course, but in the short term before that level of character development would probably occur the bonuses just aren’t worth it.

Lunar: Loonies “We speak gud” have a small bonus to a Language: [Field] of choice that’s arguably useless given the real-time translation capabilities. While their bonus to Networking: Hypercorps is certainly helpful, the small bonus to Networking: Ecologists probably won’t help a hacker as much another skill. If hanging out with ecologists is your character’s thing though, treat this as Purple.

Mercurial: Complete freedom with the skills, not so much for character motivations. A Networking: [Field] bonus of choice and two small bonuses to any skill are a fantastic set of advantages.

Scum: Networking: Autonomists, a small bonus to Freefall, another to a skill of choice, and a no-holds-barred exploration of what it means to be alive. Freefall is a good skill for a number of situations, but if your character’s feet are always going to be planted on something solid, or your character doesn’t have a physical morph, treat as Purple.

Socialite: Small bonuses to Protocol and Persuasion aren’t bad, but the Networking: Media bonus is pretty specific to a certain archetype of character.

Titanian: Small bonuses to two Technical or Academic skills of choice plus a bonus to Networking: Autonomists is a pretty good selection for a hacker. The voting responsibilities of a citizen in the Titanian socialist cyberdemocracy are kind of an unwritten disadvantage if you have to go into hiding for a while and your GM makes you keep up with them (RW. 199, behind a “Other Secrets and Notes” section: Players be warned!).

Ultimate: Same as the Mercurials in advantages with a Networking: [Field] bonus of choice and two small bonuses to any skill, different flavor. This background does have disadvantages the Mercurial background doesn’t, but unless you’re planning to spend as little as possible on your morph or play an uplift (Both poor choices for a hacker) it really doesn’t matter.

Venusian: A Networking: Hypercorps bonus with small bonuses to Pilot: Aircraft and one skill of choice isn’t bad. Pilot: Aircraft helps to open up jamming flying robots for combat and other purposes. If that’s a side-skill you’re planning for your hacker to have, consider this faction Blue.


Belter: Small bonuses to any two Networking: [Field], a Profession [Field] of choice, and Freefall are a decent set of advantages, but doesn’t do much for a hacker.

Bioconservative: A bonus to a Profession: [Field] of choice as well as small bonuses to Networking: Hypercorps and a Pilot: [Field] of choice isn’t terrible on it’s own, but the morph requirements are just as bad as the Jovians with only Flats and Splicers and no nanoware or advanced nanotech. Still, Jovians have a higher networking skill bonus and better skills, making this the worst hacker starting faction in the game.

Europan: The Swimming bonus and small bonuses to Pilot: Watercraft and Academics: [Field] of choice make it very clear this is a niche background. If you’re mainly playing in aquatic habitats, upgrade to White.

Exhuman: Bonuses to a Combat skill of choice plus either an Exotic Ranged Weapon: [Field] or Exotic Melee Weapon: [Field] plus small bonuses to Fray, Psychosurgery, and a Medicine: [Field] of choice. The exotic weapon skill is a little pointless at the start of the game unless you have some exotic weapon or you really want to use a monowire garrot, but if that’s the kind of character you want to play, why are you reading this? The disadvantages are almost as extreme as the advantages, giving you a mental disorder, modified behavior (Level 2), and Social Stigma (Exhuman).

Orbital: Small bonuses to two Networking: [Field] and a Pilot: [Field] of choice offers a wide spread of options to pick from, and the small Freefall bonus can come in handy. Overall though this faction doesn’t do much for a hacker outside of robot or vehicle jamming, and two small Networking bonuses is rarely better than if they were combined.

Out’ster: While this faction does offer a Moxie boost, a small bonus to Interfacing, and another bonus to Freefall, the Pilot: Spacecraft and permanent penalty to all Networking tests from the Shut-In trait just isn’t worth it.

Precautionist: Small bonuses to any two Networking: [Field] skills, an Academic: [Field], and a Profession [Field] doesn’t give much to a hacker archetype.

Reclaimer: A Networking: Ecologists bonus is disappointing, but the small Language: [Field] bonus is laughable. The one decent quality of this faction is a small Pilot: [Field] bonus.

Ringer: The small bonus to a Networking: [Field] of choice is standard, but the Flight bonus and small bonus to Pilot: Spacecraft make this background very specific in the opposite manner as the Europan faction.

Sapient: The small bonus to any skill is good, and the remainder to Protocol, any Networking: [Field], and a Profession: [Field] are passable. While solid, there’s nothing special enough here to raise it beyond White.

Sifter: Right off the bat the Profession: Mining limits this faction’s potential. The small Pilot: [Field] and Networking: [Field] of choice are reasonable, but unless your hacker is moonlighting with a hardhat consider something different.

Singularity Seeker: This faction offers a medley of advantages useful to a specific kind of hacker. The small bonus to Interest: TITAINS tends to be valuable in any campaign that visits a few of the more dangerous places in the solar system, while the small bonuses to Interfacing and Networking: Criminals help on the outside. The bonus to Psychosurgery however comes in particularly handy for cyberbrain hacking and pruning forks. The Social Stigma (Singularity Seeker) disadvantage isn’t hard to keep quiet if your character has the good sense not to go telling people who don’t need to know. Raise this to Sky Blue if your character is picking up Psychosurgery anyways.

Skimmer: The small bonus to Flight is very morph specific, and while none of the morphs that come standard with those capabilities are particularly suited for a hacker, they can be used with minimal detriment. The bonus to Pilot: Aircraft is particularly useful to a hacker who intends to teleoperate a flying robot during combat, and the advantages round out with a Networking: [Field] of choice. Upgrade to Blue for a character with a preference for flying morphs and robots.

Solarian: While the small bonus to Perception is good, and the bonus to Freefall has its place in zero-gravity, the small navigation bonus is generally underwhelming.

Chase Chase's picture

(Reserved for future factions)

Chase Chase's picture

Core Skills

The very core of hacking. This skill is what you will use most of the time to attack and modify a target system. It’s important to have this skill as high as possible because not only will it affect if you get into a system, but it’s what will decide if you get to stay in there. Most systems will be defended by at least an AI, and if you’re seen you’ll be facing opposition until you can shut that defender down (Which takes, you guessed it: Infosec checks). Do not skimp on this skill and do not skimp on any way you can boost its effectiveness because it’s not unusual to be faced with stacking penalties that can reach up to -50 before external factors like wounds. This will also be your defense skill for keeping your own system secured from somebody trying to hack you to wreak havoc on your system.

Before you can hack something, you have to find it. If they’re not broadcasting their mesh ID on the street, this is what you’ll use to find them. This skill is also used to get through radar jamming or to jam radio or radar frequencies yourself. Lastly it’s used in certain cases to scan or rifle through the contents of digital egos, like you’re a digital async.

Without this skill you’ll be relying on others to write and upgrade your many different software tools that are so critical to your ability to succeed, as well as lose out on the benefits of the backdoor and scripting actions. This skill also provides the side benefits of being able to program infomorph plug-ins, upgrades, and eidelon shells.

Hardware: [Electronics]
When hacking gets off the mesh and onto secure hardwired systems this skill is at the very least your first step towards intrusion, or the whole package. Additionally it provides the opportunity to build, repair, and modify all computerized devices with GM determined timeframe actions.

Hardware: [Industrial]:
While the only written action for this skills use in hacking is physically hacking airlocks, it can be a pretty valuable asset on a habitat for other purposes, and is worth at least considering.

Secondary Role Skillsets


Pilot: [Field]
For direct control, the mode of movement on the shell will determine which field of piloting used to control it. This decides the shell’s movement, defense, and melee attacks. Given that all actions with direct control are at an automatic -10, keeping these high will help to keep your investments intact and effective.

Any ranged attacks made using a shell are done using the gunnery skill rather than whatever weapon skill they might fall under. The advantage to this is only one skill is required for investment to use a broad array of weaponry. The disadvantage is an automatic -10 to all actions. If you’re choosing Pilot: [Field] skills over movement mode skills (See below), treat this skill as Sky Blue.

The various skills for movement modes are used with jamming a shell since the teleoperator controls it as if it were their own morph. Freefall, Swimming, and Climbing are all skills that govern their movement types, while Freerunning and Flight only apply to special situations like navigating obstacles and aerial maneuvers (See specific entries for details). While somewhat skill-intensive it does have the side benefit that these skills can be used when not jamming as well.

Weapon Skills
Like the skills for movement modes, a jamming teleoperator needs the weapon skills required for utilizing a shell’s weapons. If you’re choosing to use movement modes over Pilot: [Field], treat the weapon skill(s) of your choice as Sky Blue.

Hardware: Robotics
Free license to build, repair, and modify an army of customizable shells? Unless you’re planning on buying robots and then running them into the ground or disposing of damaged ones after every fight this is a required skill. Remember that fabbers and cornucopia machines can make parts, and if you lack the blueprints needed to get what you want to build, repair, or modify your current stock, your programming skill can be used to make your own nanofabrication blueprints.

Intel Specialist

The king skill of noticing things, Perception is used for almost every type of sensor out there. From common spimes to high-tech radar this is the skill used to operate them. Since hyperspectral imaging isn’t always available, a high Perception can mean you see the shifting light around a chameleon cloaked infiltrator when they’re moving past a standard video spime when nobody else does.

Finding information on a public or private device (Even rifling through the contents of a cyberbrain) and tracking a target’s physical location or digital activities to find useful data falls under the Research skill. This skill doesn’t just let you gather large amounts of data, it also allows you to analyze your results into actionable intelligence.

Academics: Chemistry
This knowledge skill is required to work a chemical imager or sniffer in order to properly identify chemical compounds. A small investment to be able to gain forewarning of toxins, explosives, and other important substances.

While Research is technically the skill used for sifting through electronic data to find what’s needed, two aspects of Investigation are evidence analysis and logical deduction. As an intel specialist it’s not unlikely that your GM could call on you to make a connection. It also gives you some extra abilities to investigate and track in meatspace if a situation calls for it.

Seeing something is only half the picture, knowing what it means gets you the full story. Being able to judge a target’s state of mind when they go into or out of a blind spot can sometimes be correlated with their other actions to allow an inference into what they were doing when you went blind. If there’s somebody else on your team who can do this for you or you’d rather depend on AI’s to handle this for you, treat this skill as Purple.

Networking: [Field]
Beyond the function of getting what you need, one lesser used function of this skill can help you reach into a particular network to find out what they know. Be prepared to pay 1,000-10,000+ credits or use up level 3-5 favors to get any information you couldn’t get by yourself. Skillsofts can give you fields you wouldn’t otherwise have access to, though getting those levels of favors may be impossible or extremely unlikely with the penalties you’ll be under. For most hackers the better option for this technique will be to lean on the party’s contacts as a whole or a socially-focused character, in these cases downgrade this skill to Purple.

Hardware: Robotics
The best sensor is often the one you place yourself, and having a robot to scout or place devices helps keep you out of notice and harm’s way. While a surveillance specialist can usually rely on the robot’s AI to travel and conduct simple tasks, the ability to customize your robots with the latest and best surveillance gear you can get your hands on is invaluable.

Social Engineer

Getting background information on your target, whether it’s a single person or an entire group with its own facilities, will help you develop a plan of attack and bed of information to support your impersonations, deceptions, and manipulations. It can also help with things like implanting memories in a synthmorph drone you’ve hacked into that they’re supposed to open a door for a delivery man at a certain time, scanning through the data files of an employee’s family servitor robot to see where the hypercorp passkey is kept, or find out who has kids/pets so you can bond over the little rascals… or threaten them for help if things get really bad (You’re a terrible person, you).

Establishing a relationship with a target is a critical phase in any social engineering attack, and who you are heavily affects that dynamic. Since being a hacker looking for the VPN passcode or hypercorp secrets rarely goes over well, you’ll need to be somebody different. Impersonation can help you be anyone or anything: A colleague from another station, a daft employee who just needs a break this one time, or a system security technician who needs their information right now to secure their devices from a hacker. While more useful across the mesh where nobody can see your morph, it serves the same function in face to face interactions. Since this skill is always an opposed check versus kinesics you’ll want this as high as possible. Successive or even one failed check can mean a lot of trouble if your real identity and intentions are discovered.

Protocol is an amazing support skill for any social character. Since social engineering generally requires a lot of roleplay and during that time you might make a mistake that your character wouldn’t. Protocol is what you roll to have your character cover up for your mess. It also gives your character an opportunity to set angered or suspicious people at ease, potentially giving a social engineer an easier time against security-conscious targets. Since it’s an opposed check versus WIL+WIL+SAV, two traits that few morphs give bonuses to, as well as a social skill which can gain a few flat bonuses from certain implants and traits it can be lower than other skills in a build if need be.

While the rest of your skills will get your lie most of the way there, Deception will take you all the way. A very important note for this skill is it is a standard success check against your own skill level unless the target is actively searching for deception. The more you have backing the base of your lie the more likely you’ll be avoiding their Kinesics check, which is why every other skill up until now has been important. In a pinch just Deception could be used, but likely at a penalty for anything big while also opposed versus a Kinesics check. Recovering from a bad Research, Impersonation, or Protocol check may require Deception, but removing as much chance from the equation then lying is usually the best strategy if you have the time.

Persuasion is the act of giving away something… for a price. Pleasure, power, information, services, equipment, association with a movement or group, or even just a chance to feel good about oneself for a moment are all can all be brought to the table… as long as they believe you have it (And vice versa). The skill itself however is being able to leverage the minimum amount given for what you need, or trade for as much as you can get. From trading chocolate bars for passwords to convincing a hypercorp indentured security AI that you can spring them from their contract prison if they install a backdoor for you, Persuasion has a wide range of uses that can apply to many of a hacker’s exploits. The check is an opposed Persuasion check versus WIL+WIL+SAV when trying to convince a target to do something for you, so if you pick your targets carefully there should be little difficulty. If your target is negotiating back, things can become a little trickier with an opposed Persuasion check. Persuasion is rated above Intimidation because it is a reciprocal relationship, and as long as the other party doesn’t feel screwed over by the end result of the deal, there is likely to be any attempts at revenge and can even become a standing relationship for later and deeper use. If consistently used in ways that are or could become disproportionately detrimental to the other party, downgrade this skill to White.

Intimidation is the act of threatening to take something away. Security, privacy, resources, reputation, relationships, memories, or even one of the rarest of losses in Eclipse Phase: Existence. With so much in Eclipse Phase running on an electronic substrate and so much of the physical world being replaceable, hackers are in a unique position within Eclipse Phase to attack what is most special to their target. There are two prerequisites to an intimidation: The belief that you can damage or destroy something that is precious to them, and that you are willing to. The threat to delete someone’s muse might work, but can become much more effective if you’ve already dropped a DoS attack on it, forcing its user and life-long partner watch it run poorly and glitch under the strain of your assault. While effective in the sense that the hacker doesn’t have to give anything up to get what they want, there are many problems with making this skill a primary tool. If the intimidation is called as a bluff, if you follow through with the threat you must quickly raise the stakes or lose your leverage. If the target calls for help, you may fall under threat yourself. If the request would hurt your target more than your threat would, they’re likely to choose the lesser evil. Unless you can maintain the threat against the party and remind them you can hit anytime you want, they might reveal the loss later. Even if you can maintain subjugation or your target, they will likely look for ways to covert or even overt ways of getting back at you, especially if they believe themselves to be important to your plans. Strictly inside the mechanics of Eclipse Phase however, the test is only ever opposed by WIL+WIL+SAV, which is good. If the detrimental aspects of your intimidations will rarely come into play, upgrade to Blue.

Chase Chase's picture

Due to the high number, variety, and variability of morphs only the ones that pertain most to the hacker archetype will be reviewed here. Morphs optimized for secondary skillsets will not appear either, as while hacking itself can become a secondary skillset for another archetype, these are not the primary focus for the guide.

Since hacking depends so much on a specific circle of COG skills, bonuses applying to this aptitude are the most important to look for in a hacker morph. Because morph bonuses apply after the selection of aptitudes and skills, this bonus at character creation can also raise skills beyond the soft cap of 80 at character creation. Outside of the aptitude bonus when selecting a hacker morph it’s important to look at aptitude maximums, intrinsic augmentations, cost, and security versus counter hacking. Factors such as durability, wound threshold, movement systems, and armor are less important due to most hackers being able to work from a distance, concealed, or entirely behind heavy cover.

Biomorphs have one major innate bonus: They are immune to brainhacking. This means when counterhacking or defending yourself or systems slaved to you the enemy hacker can only go so far. Even if they lock you out of your mesh inserts, delete your muse, and do all kinds of nasty things to you, you can still walk away (Or whip out an ecto and hit the bastard right back). It also protects you from the digital form of the exsurgent virus, which is great if you ever might come close to an infected system. In terms of digital security, there’s nothing better.

High COG bonus among other related aptitude increases, good set of implants, and low cost makes the Menton a classic but very good choice. The durability and wound threshold aren’t anything to boast about, but they’re not bad either. This morph serves as a great framework for a good hacker morph. Found in EP. 139.

Similar to the Menton but with an extremely high COG bonus, high INT, increases aptitude maximums to both COG and INT, as well as some extra mods including the important Mental Speed implant. These bonuses look amazing, but all the mods can be purchased at character creation for 12 CP and the disadvantages however minor will add to the maintenance costs of the morph. If your GM restricts implants for starting morphs and won’t allow Mental Speed and Parallel Processing (Hyperbrights made on the Bright station are generally made with the latter), or a well modified Menton isn’t available to you when resleeving, upgrade to Sky Blue. Found in RW. 186.

An ideal morph for a hacker planning to be in the thick of dangerous situations, the high COG, high SOM, good spread of other aptitude bonuses, increases to Durability and Wound Threshold, and range of survival implants are welcome. The cost is easily justifiable for all of the bonuses, though not as cheap as the Menton, and the Uncanny Valley disadvantage is partially counter-acted by the SAV bonus and doesn’t apply to outside of face-to-face interactions. A high cost alternative to the Menton if it isn’t available for resleeving. Found in EP. 141.

For the love of transhumanity, never get one of these things with a puppet sock. Cyberbrains automatically come with puppet socks unless otherwise ordered without one, which can make it harder to get. This major (But rectifiable) disadvantage is just one of several that fall under the cyberbrain hacking problem for synthmorphs. While it appears difficult, for an optimized hacker, it’s no different than hacking any other of your systems. For GM’s this gives you lots of fun things you can do to your synthmorph players: Force mental stress, forknapping, easily add and delete memories, stop their cortical stack from updating, effectively disable their character for one or more rounds, or just shut them down and put them into a digital coma.

To counter this, you can get a Brain Box (TH. 198) robotic enhancement, giving your synthmorph (Excluding swarms and modular morphs) a biological brain and providing most of the security bonuses. This does add an additional cost, and there are some extremely minor upkeep costs, but it is well worth it.

Synthmorphs do have a number of bonuses over biological morphs, and with a Brain Box can become a superior hacking morph.

The synthmorph version of the Menton, with increased maximums for the COG and INT aptitudes, bonuses to SAV and SOM, less WIL, and a higher Durability and Wound Threshold. The price tag is much increased as well. Upgrade to Sky Blue with the Brain Box enhancement. Found in RW. 187.

Every Morph is a Hacker’s Morph*

The Neural Enhancers (RW. 189) nanoware gives any physical morph it is applied to a +5 COG bonus as long as the pre-existing bonus is less than +10 COG. This means for any morph with a +5 COG bonus or a +5 bonus to an aptitude of choice, it can have a COG bonus equivalent to any of the morphs listed above. As long as this particular augmentation is available it makes hackers one of the most morph-versatile archetypes in the game, and gives them a wide spread of choices without hurting their aptitude priorities. Consider trying to get blueprints for this item (Even though it’s [Expensive]) for fabrication in case your morph of choice is unavailable after ego-casting or resleeving.

As cool as it sounds, Infomorph hackers have a host of problems. They can be directly attacked by DoS attacks, their host device can also be attacked by a DoS attack, and there is no way to avoid the risk of brainhacking in an Infomorph. For a list of (Most of) the terrible things your GM can do to you, see synthmorphs, then stop being suicidal and pick a physical morph with a biological brain.

Ok, fine, you love the idea of a hacker that doesn’t just dive into the mesh, they eat, sleep, and breath the mesh (Metaphorically).

It’s true, Infomorphs can have some great advantages. They start with a basic speed of three and can bump it up to a constant four. They get access to most of the important hacking implants as software (See Equipment) and also have a whole suite of plug-ins, upgrades, and server options for bonuses (Again, see Equipment). Their digital cyberbrain does make forking and merging an easier task. There is also a tradeoff for a lack of gear options, having to get a ride when you access a place where you don’t have mesh access, and being unable to interact with the physical world without bots.

Basic Infomorph
High aptitude maximums and a speed of three for a cost of 0 CP or 0 credits. When you’re really in the dumps and can’t do better, remember you could be a meathead in a basic infomorph. Found in EP. 145.

An eidolon with implants as upgrades and a high COG bonus comparable to the Menton, plus all the benefits of a basic infomorph. CP cost is the same, but the credit cost is several times higher. Found in TH. 142.

Chase Chase's picture

Digital Ghost
While an optimized hacker should almost never fail at an Infosec test while covertly subverting a system, there are a number of other tests that can be called for such as Interfacing and Research that can be more challenging to make. Have this in your back pocket is an ace card when you want to save your moxie or when you’ve burnt it all that session. With both a standard failure and critical failures, it’s even better than moxie, which for less CP than a single moxie point would cost you, makes this a very economical trait despite its limited scope. Found in TH. 83

Being able to bump a skill (Hint: Infosec) from 80 to 90 at character creation can take a good chunk of CP, but if the campaign is going to be short it effectively treats your character as if they had an additional 10 months of training behind them. Since the maximum total penalty you can take on a skill check is -60, getting a skill like Infosec to 89 right off the bat and then tossing in a morph’s +10 for a COG bonus will put you up from a 20% chance of success to a 39% chance against the hardest systems in the galaxy (GM’s can make it even harder though by adding multiple defenders, so don’t think it’ll be just a slight challenge to crack into Titian Commonwealth Intelligence servers). Can be found in EP. 146.

Faster Learner
For longer campaigns, being able to increase all your skills in faster timeframes will help round out the character rather than focus on one specific skill for advanced training. Treat as Sky Blue for campaigns with story arcs that take months in game due to spacecraft travel or other long circumstances. Found in EP. 146.

Intuitive Cracker
A permanent 40% decrease to brute-force hacking task actions for the level 2 version is more than well worth the 20 CP it costs. Without this you’d have to rush the action and then depending on your MoS spend between two and eight rounds brute forcing a single target, just an unacceptable amount of time mid-combat. At level 2 it even drops the penalty you have to take for rushing the action from a -60 to a -50, effectively giving you a +10 to all your brute-force intrusion rolls on top of the time-frame decrease. Take at level 2, don’t look back. Found in TH. 84.

Chase Chase's picture
Equipment - Software

Between software, implants, robots, tools, weapons and whatever else, hackers need a lot of gear to be at their most effective. While this section does not contain everything a hacker might find useful for their role, especially for their secondary skillsets, it does contain most important pieces.

1. Software
2. Implants
3. Other
4. Robots

Exploit: Part of the hacking trinity, the most important parts of a hacker’s equipment. Used to intrude onto other systems. Found in EP. 331 for [High] cost.

Sniffing: Part of the hacking trinity. Used to intercept and collect data. Found in EP. 331 for [Moderate] cost.

Spoofing: Part of the hacking trinity. Used to send data that appears to come from another source. Found in EP. 331 for [Moderate] cost.

AR Illusions: Once you get into an opponent’s device, you need something to do. Injecting augmented reality illusions lets you have a ton of fun, remember that AR can be more than visual, and go wild at the possibilities. Found in EP. 331 for [Moderate] cost.

Encryption: While not included in every system, this is one of those pieces of software that’s important for the entire party to have. Public Key Encryption can be tough to decipher, which is well worth the [Low] cost. Found in EP. 331.

Tactical Network: This software isn’t important for what you’ll be getting out of it, but rather what you’ll be putting into it. Feeding your enemy’s Tactical Network information into your own is a great way of getting critical and perfectly precise combat data to your team, or force your opponents to shut theirs down.

Spasm: Out of all the Scorcher programs that can be used on hacked cyberbrains and infomorphs, this one is probably the most versatile. Disabling the enemy from combat for several rounds matches the Nightmare scorcher, and is even better if you don’t want the enemy to run away. It can be used to torture without causing stress or damage, allowing relentless interrogation sessions. Even if they succeed on the difficult WIL x 2 test to resist, they still face a steep penalty to all actions equivalent to the Shutter scorcher penalty for a single sense. Found in EP. 332 for [High]

Obfuscated Binary While technically not software itself per say, this is one method of making it harder for law enforcement to find illegal software during a search of your mesh inserts. Can be applied to AI’s. Found in FW. 178 for [One Cost Category Higher Than Software Cost].

Infection Scanner: Software that lets you scan for the digital strain of the exsurgent virus. Per the exsurgent virus detection rules, if you chose to specialize your Programming skill into Malware your GM may allow you to use your Programming (Malware) skill to detect the strain if it’s known to the current software. Best parts, its open source and [Free]. Found in FW. 178.

Artificial Intelligences (AI)
Security AI A small decrease to Hardware: Electronics and initiative is all that is lost by using this AI rather than the more expensive and possibly illegal Kaos AI. Perfect active skills are Infosec, Interfacing, Programming, and one weapon skill. Additional active skills include Hardware: Electronics, Research, and Perception with one knowledge skill of Professional: Security Systems. If your GM restricts this AI from being willing to assist with or conduct hacking attempts of its own, downgrade to White. Found in RP. 332 for [High].

Kaos AI The de-facto hacking AI, it comes with a REF of 20, and perfect active skill of Hardware: Electronics, Infosec, Interfacing, Programming, and one weapon skill. Additional active skills include Research and Perception with one knowledge skill of Professional: Security Systems. This AI may be illegal in some locations, and may need to be smuggled in with similar techniques as those used for intrusion software. Found in RP. 332 for [Expensive].

Wobblycat AI: With perfect Fray, Infiltration, Interfacing, and Perception active skills, this AI is the gold standard to run any robot designed with stealth and reconnaissance in mind (Intel specialists take note). If you’re willing to work off the Wobblycat frame, the AI’s specializations into Fray (Wobblycat) and Infiltration (Wobblycat) will provide additional bonuses to those tests. Additional active skills in Demolitions, and Research, with knowledge skills in Interest: Current Mission and Interest: Security Device Specs make it a great first-in strike or look at a location. Found in FW. 178 for [High] cost.

Sensor AI: While it’s only perfect active skills are Interfacing and Perception, both of these are specialized for sensors, giving the AI a bonus on any test involving any sensor and making it the perfect surveillance AI. Additional active skills are Hardware: Electronics, Infosec, Programming, and Research as well as one knowledge skill with Interests: [Sensor] specs for a sensor of choice. Found in PO. 157 for a reasonable price of [Moderate].

Retriever AI: A good solid combat AI with a variety of skills useful for when a teleoperator leaves the robot functioning in autonomous mode. All of its skills are at perfect ratings for an AI with Beam Weapons, Fray, Investigation, Medicine: Paramedic, Navigation, Perception, and Spray Weapons making up the list. The AI is programmed to shield transhumans from harm if required. The only way to get this AI in the books is to purchase the gatecrashing Retriever robot for [Expensive], but your GM may allow you to purchase the AI alone for less. Found in GC. 162.

Infomorph Software
Copylock: A great way to avoid forknapping. The passcode feature still allows you to fork yourself when you want to. Available to Infomorphs and egos in Cyberbrains. Found in TH. 139.

Digital Veil: Expensive and illegal, like the best things always are. In order to move your software with you during an egocast, you can use it as a plug-in on your (Or another) infomorph. Incoming egos can be scanned as part of immigration, and your Level III Elite Exploit is going to be hard to explain to the immigration officer confiscating it. This software keeps that from happening, and is well worth the [Expensive] cost. Available to Infomorphs and egos in Cyberbrains. Found in TH. 139.

Persistence: Yet another way to make brainhacking more difficult. Worth it for the [Low] cost. Available to Infomorphs and egos in Cyberbrains. Found in TH. 140.

Secondary Skillset Software
Facial/Imagine Recognition: The gait version of this software can be particularly potent, as it’s a disguise element that’s not often thought about and can be more difficult to change than others. For an intel specialist or social engineer, the full collection of the different versions of this software is well worth the [Low] cost for each. Found in EP. 331.

Radio Motion Detection: An undetectable method of tracking the physical location of active radio devices through walls? Great for planning assaults, infiltrations, and more when there are no available sensor arrays or using them would reveal your presence to the enemy. Cheap and egocast ready too. Found in PO. 156 for [Low].

Kinesics Software A small bonus to a skill that rarely receives any, or a decent skill level for those with a low SAV or skill. A little expensive at [Moderate]. Found in PO. 156.

Relationship Mapping: It seems to be that the reason this software only possibly provides a bonus to investigation or networking tests is the weak inferences that can be drawn using this data, and the lack of a guarantee that anybody will have what you’re networking for. After all, your exsurgent threat may just like the coffee at the same place the shady XP dealer frequents. Coincidences can really throw you off here. Upgrade to Blue if your GM is good about mapping out who knows who or otherwise finds ways to give you the bonus. Can be found in PO. 156 for [Moderate].

Event Reconstruction Software: Sherlock Holmes in a software package. Take a very good bonus to your Investigation tests about what happened and don’t look back. It’s not clear if you need to run a simulspace to parse the data (Would kind of defeat the purpose), or simply that you can run a simulspace about the past events with the data, but either way you’ll need a server rather than mesh inserts for that feature. Found in PO. 156 for [High].

Probability Mapping: When you need to make a guess, might as well make it a good one. Your mileage may vary depending on how much data you have on your target, but for an intel specialist with a little prep time this shouldn’t be too hard. Found in PO. 156 for [High].

Behavioral Psych: While it requires a lot of frontloading, this software can offer the valuable Academics: Psychology skill at a high rating or give a very good bonus to psychological analyses. Costly for what it does at a [High] amount of credits. Found in PO. 156.

Chase Chase's picture
Equipment - Implants

Circadian Regulation: There are a number of long-term task actions a hacker may undertake such as programming software or crafting a new robot. Per the task action rules (EP. 120) task actions with a duration of a day or longer assume eight hours of work per day, and characters that work more hours than that modify the time the task action takes accordingly. This rule works outside of the timeframe reduction rules for a 90% cap, as the timeframe has already been applied to the action. Since this implant allows a biomorph to sleep only two hours a day, or four every two days, it can help reduce task actions that take weeks or months to much more manageable durations. Found in EP. 304 for a [Moderate] cost.

Neurachem: More speed, more actions, more fun. Take at Level 2, but take an implant that gives extra mental actions each turn first. Remember that the Level 2 version can be used as Level 1 if you want to avoid the nervous system fatigue penalty. This bioware is available to biomorphs, synthmorphs and robots but not informorphs. Found in EP. 305 and costs [High] Credits for the Level 1 version and [Expensive] for the Level 2.

Secondary Skillset Bioware
Emotional Dampeners: Touted as a low-cost alternative to the Endocrine Control implant, this “downgrade” in fact offers a higher bonus to Deception and Impersonation, which (And perhaps this is in error, GM’s take note) seems to stack with the bonuses from the Endocrine Control implant. It does however force a penalty on all other social skill tests, but can be turned on and off at will with a quick action. This implant is available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots but not to infomorphs. Found in EP. 304 for [Low] cost.

Endocrine Control: A lower bonus to Deception, and nothing to Impersonation. No penalty to other social skill tests, and a large bonus to resisting emotional manipulation, likely including Intimidation. This implant is available only to biomorphs and in the form of an upgrade for infomorph characters. Found in EP. 304 for [High] cost.

Enhanced Pheromones: A bonus to all social tests that that involve trustworthiness and respect and names Persuasion (Though why Deception isn’t mentioned I don’t know, GM’s, consider adding it) is particularly good for a skillset that doesn’t get a lot else. Doesn’t affect uplifts and xenomorphs, and GM’s might go ahead and throw AGI characters into the pile as well. Can only be used by biomorphs. Found in EP. 305 for [Low].

Drug Gland (Hither): More bonuses for Persuasion against targets that can be seduced, with options for Deception, Impersonate, and Networking if the GM feels it applies. With the Sex Switch biomod (EP. 305) and other implants or disguises this bonus can work on almost anything. While the Hither addiction modifier is -10 the addiction is purely physical, so if you switch morphs to one that doesn’t have it you won’t have to worry about a thing. Drug Gland can be found in EP. 304 and Hither can be found in EP. 320. Can be used by biomorphs, synthmorphs, robots and in the form of an upgrade for infomorphs (You know, in case people find that kind of thing sexy) though for infomorphs the addiction is mental. The implant as a whole comes at a [Moderate] cost.

Electrical Sense: Offers a bonus to involving analyzing, repairing, or modifying electrical equipment, and could easily be used for physical hacking with the Hardware: Electronics and Hardware: Industrial skills. Available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots but not infomorphs. Found in EP. 306 for [Low] cost.

Access Jacks: Go one step above encryption and make your close-range communications un-sniffable. Available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots but not infomorphs. Found in EP. 306 for [Low] cost.

Ghostrider Module: For particularly difficult hacks having a few extra AI or forks to help will boost your abilities tremendously. While there is no limit to the number of modules you can technically have (GM’s, limit this), for the sake of your own sanity and the amount of book keeping you have to do with too many extra characters, limit yourself. Available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots but not infomorphs. Found in EP. 307 for [Low] cost.

Reflex Boosters: Increases speed and REF constantly. More actions and higher initiative. Available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots but not infomorphs

Parallel Processor: Trade lowering the Trauma Threshold of each character using this implant for a small COG bonus and teamwork bonuses for each member up to a +30 maximum without any member having to take actions, and you have a very powerful implant. AI’s with 40 Infosec working in concert with the maximum teamwork bonus effectively have a respectable 75 Infosec skill to assist you on hacks, hack their own targets, or defend the home system. This implant is available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, robots, and in the form of an upgrade for infomorphs. It can be found in RW. 189 for [High] cost.

Secondary Skillset Cyberware
Mnemonic Augmentation: A useful mod for intel specialists who want to be able to review scenarios they’ve already experienced or share their memories to someone else to show or prove something. Well worth the [Low] cost of the implant. Found in EP. 307.

Multitasking: One of the two implants that offer two extra mental actions per action phase. For teleoperators intent on being able to jam multiple bots at one time (Rule clarification in TH. 115) or intel specialists wanting to make use of the Panopticon upgrade (See Secondary Skill Set Infomorph Upgrades), this implant is superior to the Mental Speed nanoware. While the implant states that the extra actions come from forks and the forks operate independently, the rules as written state that the character receives extra actions which would make it impossible to assist yourself, rather than how the rules as intended would treat your forks as being able to assist. If you’re considering this implant, it’s worth a conversation with your GM. Keep in mind this implant is incompatible with Mental Speed. This implant is available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots, but not infomorphs. Can be found in EP. 307 for [High] cost.

Mental Speed: Often the better of the mental complex action granting implants, mental speed is the top implant any hacker wants (Unless they’d rather have Multitasking cyberware). Two extra mental actions per action phase, a small initiative bonus, unlimited duration of use, and additional benefits such as reading text faster and seeing the world in slow motion, make this a powerful implant. Seeing the world though slow motion does have its disadvantages however, and can make things such as normal verbal communication difficult. Messaging through more instant forms such as text though is an easy way of getting around this during combat or sequences when the implant is in use. This implant is available to all biomorphs, synthmorphs, robots, and in the form of an upgrade for infomorph characters. Found in EP. 308 for [High] cost.

Skillware: Allows the use of skillsoft software, providing moderate levels of skills that can be swapped in and out as the situation demands as long as the software related to the skill is available to you. This implant is available to all biomorphs, synthmorphs, robots, and in the form of an upgrade for infomorph characters. Found in EP. 309 for [High] cost.

Skinlink: A more expensive but covert alternative to access jacks. The greatest disadvantage to this implant however is you connect to any electronic device you touch automatically. This could potentially set off an alarm, open you up for a connection to hacking or malware, or just set off an alarm for an unauthorized connection. Just a bad idea. If you really want to though, this implant is available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots, but not infomorphs. Found in EP. 309 for [Moderate] cost.

Wrist-Mounted Tools: A Utilitool, Fiber Eye, and Bioware Claws with the added bonus of a good bonus to repairing or modifying devices with mechanical parts and a few other situations. Nice for physical hacking, working on repairing robots or synthmorphs, and any of the other hands-on work a hacker might have to do. This implant is available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and robots, but not infomorphs. Found in EP. 309 for [Moderate] cost.

Neural Enhancers: For any morph with less than a +10 COG bonus, this implant can increase the COG bonus by a small amount. While the implant text specifies it is available to biomorphs, synthmorphs, and pods, the Robotic Enhancements paragraph on the following page adds it as a robotic enhancement for robots. This implant can be found on RW. 189 for an [Expensive] cost.

Secondary Skillset Nanoware
Oracles: Elimination of distraction penalties for Perception is a great boon to intel specialists, and the investigation bonus is icing on the cake. The memory bonus is nice, but will likely be overridden by another implant. This implant is available to all biomorphs, synthmorphs, robots, and in the form of an upgrade for infomorph characters. Found in EP. 309 for [Moderate] cost.

Robotic Enhancements
Brain Box: For those wanting all the benefits of a synthmorph without the risk of brainhacking, this is how it’s done. Taking this implant removes the Cyberbrain, Mnemonic Augmentation, and Puppet Sock of any synthmorph it’s installed into, and require the addition of a small about of nutrients once per month. The implant can be found in TH. 149 for a [Moderate] price for installation, though the implant does not change the CP or credit cost of a purchased morph.

Secondary Skillset Robotic Enhancements
Sensors: All of the sensors on EP. 311 can be useful to an intel analyst, though a robot they can carry and jam when they require the senses may be just as, if not more useful since you can’t use sensors on transmissions. These sensors are only available to robots and synthmorphs, and cost between [Low] and [Moderate] depending on the sensor in question.

Infomorph Upgrades
Increased Speed: How to get Speed 4 as an infomorph. Simple, constant, and [Expensive]. Only affects Infomorphs. Found in TH. 141.

Active Countermeasures: More bonuses to defend against brainhacking is always a good thing. This can also benefit others assisting with the security of the infomorph’s mind-state. Available to Infomorphs and egos in Cyberbrains. Found in TH. 140 for a [High] cost.

Secondary Skillset Infomorph Upgrades
Impersonate: Passively provides a bonus to Impersonation tests with verbal or avatar interactions, and a large bonus to Deception and Impersonation when simply trying to hide your own identity. An hour of interacting with a target and a successful Kinesics test however can give you a large bonus to Impersonate when acting as that person in the future. Found in TH. 140 for a [High] cost.

Panopticon: This upgrade allows you to use detailed perception on up to three locations at once, five if you have multitasking. For normal perception the infomorph can view as many locations as they want to at once, with a small distraction penalty to Perception. This penalty however can be mitigated with the Oracles upgrade, making it very tempting to be an Infomorph as an intel specialist. Can be found in TH. 141 for [High].

Additional Infomorph Upgrades and How to Get Implants
The full list of physical augmentations available to infomorphs as Upgrades can be found on TH. 141. To go beyond that list, install a ghostrider module onto a morph with the implants you want to be able to use. As long as the ego sleeved into the morph (AI’s under your command can be loaded onto cyberbrains) allows it, you can use whatever you want, though some may only effect the ego sleeved into the morph (Neurachem and Reflex Boosters come to mind). Some GM’s may require that implants can only be used by one ego at a time, so keep that in mind when looking to share physical implants with another player.

Chase Chase's picture
Equipment - Other

Carried Gear
Ecto: Never leave home without one, or five. Ectos have a variety of uses to a hacker. As wild as it sounds, slaving your mesh inserts to an Ecto allows you to send traffic through it and use its Mesh ID, as well as force all incoming hack attempts to go to the Ecto rather than your Mesh Inserts, effectively turning the Ecto into a proxy. It’s a short-term solution, as your Mesh Inserts will accept any commands from the Ecto as long as the account issuing them has the proper privileges, but you can disconnect the Ecto from your PAN and force the enemy hacker to start over if they haven’t already done what they came to do. For even more security, Ectos can be used in haptic mode, though it increases the timeframe of any mesh based task action by +25% and forces a penalty to skill tests for mesh actions done through the device per the Mesh Interface rules beginning on EP. 245. It can also help to have spare ectos available to your Muse or other AI/Infomorphs in case they need a device to evacuate to if they are about to get locked out of their home device and effectively deleted. Ectos can be found in EP. 325 for [Low] cost.

Fiberoptic Cable: These cables can create a wired connecting between two devices, not just morphs with access jacks. You’ll never need one until you do. Consider keeping a spare for your team thanks to the [Trivial] cost of the item. Found in EP. 313.

Laser/Microwave Link: While not always reliable thanks to requiring line of sight between all parties, you may come up against targets that use these two communication channels to deter hackers. If you can’t adapt, you can’t hack. Keep micro versions of both on your person, or better yet have a bot that can step out into the danger carry them into the open for you. Found in EP. 313 for [Moderate] cost each.

Radio Booster: When you need a direct signal and the area is too large or too full of other traffic to get through, it’s time to bring in the big guns. Don’t count on this to keep your data safe however, as you’ll be pushing your data through to a much larger area. While it doesn’t give a bonus to overcoming jamming, talk to your GM, they may agree that a much more powerful radio can push through the power of another device. Found in EP. 314 for [Low].

Miniature Radio Farcasters: Ah, quantum stuff. Suffice to say this is the best encryption money can buy, but only offers one benefit: Data sniffed between the sender and receiver cannot be decrypted. Standard methods of bypassing an active VPN link apply exactly the same. As long as you can get on to the same PAN as one of the farcasters that is sending or receiving, you can decrypt the transmissions. Still worth the [Low] cost if you need unbreakable encryption and can get your hands on enough that are entangled together to meet your need. Found in EP. 314.

Covert Operations Tool: Sometimes you need to get through that wall or control panel to the wiring inside, and you need to do it now. Hackers who have invested in their Hardware: Electronics should be able to beat out the tool in opening electronic locks (If they haven’t hacked into it digitally), but the physical key maker is a nice touch. If somebody else in your party has one, consider just borrowing it when needed. Found in EP. 315 for [High].

Quantum Computer: With the ubiquity of encryption for protecting important files and transmissions, a Quantum Computer can come in very handy when a hacker wants to find out what’s behind the gibberish. The task action for decryption cannot be reduced by simulspace, as the Quantum Computer cannot operate there. It also cannot be reduced by a character’s speed or extra mental actions, as the device once set runs by itself, however the speed can be reduced by rushing and degrees of MoS (Suggest treating this as the hacker telling the computer to discount certain possible combinations, decreasing the number of permutations the Quantum Computer has to run through), a choice offset by the decryption’s inherent large bonus to the Infosec check. At best however, each decryption still takes 16.8 hours to complete. Found in EP. 316 for [Expensive]. Consider using favors or renting access to one if needed infrequently or credits are hard to come by.

Gray Box: Closed, hardwired systems are difficult to hack because there’s wireless connection to employ your software through. Hardwiring into the system yourself can be dangerous as well, because it forces you to stay in a single location by the system’s ports or cables, prime locations for physical security to find you with your hand in the cookie jar. Gray Boxes help to get around this issue by adding wireless broadcaster to the system. Found in PO. 150 for [Moderate] cost.

Motes: The Mesh is everything to a hacker, and when you end up in a location without one, Motes can allow you to set up something similar. Don’t hold them on reserve for such situations though, as they also work well as short range and extremely cheap radio boosters. They automatically mesh together, so you can even create a trail of them to boost the signal along a more discreet path of radio transmissions, rather than a wide-range general broadcast. They are less secure however in that the Motes do not appear to be able to stealth their signals, though this can be overcome with the use of encrypted transmissions. A package allows better placement of the motes than a grenade, which uses all 500 at once. A package of 500 can be purchased for [Low], however an intel specialist may be interested in adding sensors, which raises the price to [Moderate] for 500. Found in GC. 154.

Secondary Skillset Carried Gear
Specs: Getting to look at every point in the visual spectrum with a single device is very nice, and the bonus to visual Perception tests is just sweet. The real benefit though comes from the fact that Specs are technically hyperspectral, and therefore benefit from all the rules found in PO. 162. This means a good bonus to visual Perception on top of the standard bonus, ability to filter out parts of the spectrum to reduce noise, and halving all Perception penalties that only apply to one spectrum. All spectrums except for Terahertz waves are passive sensors, and the Terahertz Emitter doesn’t specify it can be turned off making it very obvious (Like holding a flashlight in a dark room) to anyone else who can sense the terahertz spectrum. Keep in a metal or leather-lined box/pouch when trying to hide unless your GM specifies the emitter can be turned off. Specs also offer an up to 5x magnification. Just an amazing deal for any intel specialist or any character at all for a low [Low] price. Found in EP. 326.

Smart Dust: Reusable nanobot generator that can gather so much information, it almost becomes too much. Couples beautifully with Event Reconstruction Software. Lots of good and clever uses for this item for an intel specialist, though do note that the radio transmissions between the nanobots can be detected while they are talking to each other. Found in EP. 316 for [Moderate].

X-Ray Emitter: Coupled with Specs or another passive sensor that includes X-Rays and Gamma rays into their spectrum of sensors, your character can now see into every visible spectrum. X-Rays are arguably one of the most useful parts of the spectrum in Eclipse Phase, as it pierces most objects and produces high-resolution 3-D images of things including rooms, morphs and their implants, weapons, inside containers... think airport security and medical X-Rays, then pump that technology up to transhuman levels. Great for intel specialists and found in EP. 317 for [Low].

Lens Spotter: While the advertised use of this item is to find cameras for the purpose of avoiding them, a smart intel analyst can use them to find sensors that might otherwise be hard to detect and use them for their own use. The sniper/spotter bonus is certainly a good benefit for any Tacnet as well. Found in PO. 151 for [Low].

Fiberoptic Microphone: Can detect the entire sound spectrum, flexible, can be controlled through the Mesh, unaffected by heat, moisture, and magnetic fields, and provides a auditory Perception Bonus on top of the good auditory Perception bonus for being a hyperspectral sensor. Wow. This passive sensor is available on PO. 152 for [Low].

Ghost Imagers: This thing sounds cool, and if anybody can actually tell me how the whole exploitation of the quantum correlation of light thing works I will totally give you R-rep and a link here. However it’s kind of just one of those nice to have things. Since they only work in visual and infrared frequencies however, it’s basically not worth it unless you need those parts of the spectrum because of all the other pieces of the spectrum that can be used instead. Hyperspectral imaging already halves the Perception penalty from the visual obscuration that Ghost Imagers eliminate, and can do it as passive sensors when there’s no natural light. If you have nothing else to spend credits on and want to carry more gear, pick it up. Found in PO. 152 for [High].

Sensor Concealment: Not technical a sensor, you can use this upgrade to force very good penalty to Perception checks for others to tell your sensor is a sensor. It does not force a penalty to be able to see the sensor itself. Still, worth a [Low] cost if you think you may need to pre-position some static sensors. Found in PO. 153.

Personal Interaction Sensor: Finally something for our social engineers! With a good bonus to Kinesics and an AI that can measure Kinesics and Perception, it’s more versatile than a pure social tool. As an AI it may be able to assist with Perception tests or conduct its own. Found in PO. 153 for [Moderate].

Specialized Hive, Injectors (Laughing Policeman): For social engineers taking their time with a biomorph target, they can deploy a swarm of these nanobots and after the drug onset time, gain some good bonuses to Deception and Persuasion tests. Targets may notice the 1 damage taken when the swarm injects them, but given that the dose is spread out over a large number of nanobots invisible to anyone without nanoscopic vision, GM’s may feel it’s more of a tingling sensation or feels like getting bit by a bug. The specialized hive costs [Moderate] x 2, and a dose of the drug costs [Moderate].

Anonymous Accounts: The problem with anonymity is that unless a large enough portion of the populace is living behind anonymous accounts, using it can raise flags even in locations where it is legal. While the vendor of the ID has no record of who purchased the account, the description of the service goes no further except to say that tracking an anonymous account is a practical impossibility. Consider then that if the account is used to send a message, it must travel through mesh nodes until it reaches its target. If the account is used again to send payment, it must do the same. A clever hacker can trace the records of both paths back to their source location, pull local spime data at the time of the message from both, and crosscheck who was in the area when the messages were sent in order to gain suspects. This goes to show anonymous accounts can’t just be used bluntly, they have to be used smartly as well. Of course we already live in a time with TOR and other anonymizing tools, so if your GM chooses to treat this as an ID that cannot be tracked, upgrade to Blue. Else go with the cheaper option of sniffing local Mesh ID’s and spoofing them when you need deniability. Can be found in EP. 330 for [Moderate].

Simulspace Subscription: While few things can be done in simulspace, programming is one of them. Getting access to a server that slows down time by 60x and you can work on code inside of will make downtime much more productive. Writing infomorph plug-ins, upgrades, eidolons, cracking blueprint or software DRM, upgrading software as per the Elite Exploit rules can all in theory be done within simulspaces. They can also be used to review XP from the Mnemonic Augmentation cyberware for intel specialists or similar characters that want to review a previous experience. Found in EP. 331 with varying costs around [Low] for one time use or one day and [Moderate] for a monthly subscription.

Secondary Skillset Services
Private Sensor Feeds: Are you an intel specialist who wants to upgrade from spotty low-spectrum spimes put out by the general populace that seems to think the normal visible spectrum is all that exists? Tired of low-quality audio from your voyur—I mean operations, plain old operations. Well it’s worth looking up the local legal and illegal services that can provide you access and see what you can get that you don’t have to try and place ahead of time yourself. Rules for finding a provider are found in PO. 163. The service is found in PO. 154 for [Low per hour].

Chase Chase's picture
Equipment - Robots

Wobblycat: There are only ever two reasons to use this robot: 1) You want to apply the Wobblycat AI’s specializations for Fray and Infiltration, or B) You need a 60 meter max velocity walker and no other type of movement will do. Since the AI has no weapon skills, the Nonlethal Loadout is useless. The Explosive Loadout is better done with a cheaper robot, and the Surveillance Loadout still only gives you 13,250 credits worth of gear including the cost of the AI, for an [Expensive] cost. If using the Surveillance Loadout with a Wobblycat AI, upgrade to Blue. Found in FW. 176 for [Expensive].

Speck: Now this is a stealthbot done right. An innate -30 penalty to Perception checks to see it, sensors for the entire auditory spectrum and most of the visual, and an innate bonus to REF and COO, increasing skills in both if the AI has them but not maxed. The SOM penalty does hurt some, but as the primary design use around this bot is to infiltrate a location, surveil, and exit without being caught slow careful movement may be preferred. Add a Wobblycat AI, Chameleon Skin, Radar Absorbent, Reduced Signature, 360 Degree Vision, and other sensors (Excluding Radar) for a perfect intel specialist robot with an effective 60 Infiltration when moving slowly or not moving, -30 Perception to see, and -80 Perception to see by Radar or Terahertz when not hopping. Without all the extra mods, a basic Speck is [Low] cost and is found in EP. 346.

Bughunter: A great deal on a self-mobile guardian swarm, with some good seeker missiles (Note that it does not count them as micromissiles) and tools to back it up. The stock AI fits decently, however the whole package lacks anything representing defense. To make this robot combat viable, add in some skillware and a 40 Fray Skillsoft, some Heavy Combat Armor, and if the AI and teleoperator can handle the COO and movement speed loss some Extreme Pressure Adaption (SW. 167) to increase durability. It doesn’t make for much of a combat robot, but the utility is hard to beat with small robots like this. The base model is found in PO. 157 for a [Moderate] price.

Guardian Angel: The best of the small combat robots that can follow you through most terrain and smaller environments, this morph is such a good deal it’s almost worth buying just to salvage parts from to upgrade other robots. Frontloaded with Light Combat Armor and Neurachem right off the bat, enhanced sensory arrays, a REF bonus, and more, this little guy is just amazing for coming in at a [Moderate] price tag. Raise its defensive capabilities, strap on some weapons, and go to town. Found in EP. 345.

Reaper: Hey wait, isn’t this a morph? Really this entry is mostly to point out that there are some great opportunities for non-standard robots. Anything with a puppet sock: Synthmorphs, biomorphs, smart animals, etc can be used as a robot or biodrone. Get creative. That said Reapers have some great bonuses, and if you stack on some heavy armor they start getting pretty close to indestructible. Found in EP. 144 for [Expensive (50,000+)].

Chase Chase's picture

(Reserved for future equipment)

Chase Chase's picture

(Reserved for even more future equipment)

Chase Chase's picture
Rules - Action Index

Hackers have a wide array of uses for their primary skills, but these actions are not always found in the same place, and the rules relating to hacker methods and tactics can be spread across the Eclipse Phase sourcebooks as well. This section is an attempt to gather information on a lot of these elements or where they can be found into one place that can be used by players and GM’s as a reference.

1. Action Index
2. Connection and Authentication
3. Intrusion and Security
4. Subversion and Brainhacking
5. Non-Subversive Attacks

Hackers have a lot of options at their digital fingertips, and it’s not difficult to forget one or several of these options in the heat of the moment. The number of possible actions grows immensely when considering what a hacker can do when they have successfully intruded onto a system, and is limited only by what that system can and cannot do. A list of suggested actions for many types of systems can be found in EP. 259 and EP. 264, and will not be explored in the following index.

While the list is sorted between different types actions that are most useful with systems already under the hacker’s control (Normal) and those that are generally taken on systems that have been subverted or are subverted as part of the action (Subversion), any action from any list can be used on any system the hacker has an account for. Sometimes this can be a very smart move. Actively monitoring a PAN you have just subverted in order to deter reinforcement AI and security hackers from accessing the PAN as you lockout all accounts but the ones you’re using, and crashing malicious software on your own devices are two good examples of this.

Actions appear first with a special designation in parentheses if the action is specific to a certain system or situation, followed by the name of the action, a short description of the action’s requirements, and the reference sourcebook and page numbers for the full description and rules of the action.

Quick Actions:

  • Actively Monitoring a PAN (EP. 253)
Complex Actions:
  • Detecting Stealthed Signals: -30 Interfacing test, opposed and -30 when vs. active stealthing (EP. 251)
  • Actively Stealthing Signals (EP. 252)
  • DOS Attacks: Requires Mesh ID. Infosec test, opposed when vs. active monitor (TH. 147)
  • Radio Jamming: Targeted/Universal/Radar. Complex Action and successful Interfacing Test, (EP. 262)
  • Breaking Radio Jamming: Variable Opposed Interfacing Test (EP. 262)
  • Toggling In/Out of Simulspace (EP. 262)
  • (Infomorph) Detect a Scan: Requires Security/Admin account, Interfacing test (EP. 148)
  • (Passive Countermeasure) Zeroing In (EP. 257)
  • (Active Countermeasure) Reboot/Shutdown (EP. 258)
  • (Active Countermeasure) Wireless Termination: Completes at end of action turn, restarting is same. (EP. 258)
Task Actions:
  • Security Audit: 24 hour Timeframe, Infosec Test to find backdoors, inactive scripts, and re-approve locked accounts if desired. (EP. 260, 261, 258)
  • (Ship or Habitat) Map Systems and Subsystems: 2 weeks to 1 month or more Timeframe. Infosec test reveals Habitat System Map (Example on PO. 171) for planning and may offer bonuses to further Infosec tests against the system. (PO. 171)
Undefined Actions:
  • (Active Countermeasure) Trace: Research test with penalty for Privacy Mode (EP. 251)
  • (Active Countermeasure) Lockout: Security/Admin action, opposed Infosec check (EP. 258)
Complex Actions:
  • Crashing Software: Infosec test, opposed and repeated to crash AI/AGI/Infomorph (EP. 260)
  • Eliminate Intrusion Traces: Infosec test, opposed if device is actively monitored, denied if locked (EP. 260)
  • Upgrade Status: Infosec test, opposed if spotted, denied if locked. Must have MoS 30+ (EP. 257)
  • (Cyberbrain) Puppeteering: Opposed Infosec vs. Defender. (EP. 261)
  • (Cyberbrain/Infomorph) Shutdown (EP. 262)
  • (Infomorph) Forcefully plug-in a Narcoalgorithm. Brain-hack required. (TH. 149)
  • (Infomorph) Remove a detected Plug-in. Brain-hack required. (TH. 139)
  • (Infomorph) Copy the files of an inactive Infomorph. (TH. 149)
  • (Infomorph) DOS Attacks: Requires Mesh ID and Security or Admin rights on hosting device. Infosec test, opposed vs. Infomorph. (TH. 149)
Full Action Turn:
  • (Infomorph) Forknapping: Copy an actively running Infomorph. Brain-hack required. (TH. 149, 147)
Task Actions:
  • (Infomorph) Hidden Software Scan: 1 hour Timeframe, Infosec or Programming test with -30 to reveal one plug-in or software plus 1 per 10 MoS. Access to home device and mesh ID required. (TH. 148)
  • (Ship or Habitat) Set Reactor to Melt Down: 10 minute Timeframe, Infosec test at -30 penalty to hack generally highly defended and hardwired system. (PO. 168)
  • (Ship or Habitat) Electronic Airlock Operations Hack: 2 minute Timeframe, Hardware: Electronics test on hardwired command console or under a panel on the door. A Gray Box may be added as part of action. (PO. 164)
  • (Ship or Habitat) Industrial Airlock Operations Hack: 2 minute Timeframe, Hardware: Industrial test on hardwired command console or under a panel on the door. A Gray Box may be added as part of action. (PO. 164)
Undefined Actions:
  • Inject AR Illusions (EP. 259)
  • Backdoors: Programming (-20 for Security Account, -30 for Admin) and Infosec (Opposed if actively monitored) tests (EP. 260)
  • Hacking VPNs: Infosec test at -10 if account lacks privileges, else no action required (EP. 260)
  • Scripting: Programming test with GM determined timeframe, Infosec test (Opposed if actively monitored) to insert to run. Max Programming skill/10 actions (EP. 260)
  • (Cyberbrain/Infomorph) Entrapment: Opposed Infosec vs. Defender with -30 for Cyberbrain Hacking (EP. 261)
  • (Cyberbrain/Infomorph) Memory Hacking: Research or Interfacing test with -30 for Cyberbrain Hacking (EP. 261)
  • (Cyberbrain/Infomorph) Scorching: Opposed Infosec vs. Defender with -30 for Cyberbrain Hacking (EP. 261)
  • (Cyberbrain/Infomorph) Terminate Cortical Stack Feed: Opposed Infosec Test vs. Defender with -30 for Cyberbrain Hacking (EP. 262)
  • (Infomorph) Scan: Interfacing Test reveals one piece of information plus one per 10 MoS, -30 to those operating in privacy mode. Requires account on home device and infomorph mesh ID. More information available with Security or Admin Accounts on device (TH. 148)
  • (Infomorph) Lockout Infomorph: Requires Infomorph to be under Locked status. Opposed Infosec, if Infomorph loses may make Interface test at -30 to move off device or be deleted (TH. 149)
Chase Chase's picture
Rules - Connection and Authentication

Regardless of the type of action a hacker takes when trying to affect another device, they must always be able to connect to it. There are three methods for connection:

If a system is hardwired, you must obtain a physical connection to the network by accessing devices or cables on the network with a Gray Box, Skinlink Nanoware, or a Fiber Optic Cable connected to a wireless device or one you’re going to hack from (Ecto or Access Jacks to Mesh Implants). Relevant Rules for physically accessing a device are found in EP. 254 under “Preconditions.”

If your device and the target device fall within radio range of each other, you can achieve a direct connection between the two devices. If one device’s range does not reach the other however, it will be unable to send and the other will be unable to receive, making the connection useless except for DOS, Jamming and similar actions. If one device disables its wireless capabilities, it effectively becomes a hardwired device. While most devices can be found and connected to trivially (Likely a Quick Action), a common defensive tactic for electronic warfare in EP is to stealth wireless signals. To find these, a hacker or their muse must search for the signal with a complex action and a -30 Interfacing test, or an opposed Interfacing test with the scanner suffering a -30 penalty. If successful the device can be found and it’s transmissions received normally, as well as the scanner receiving other normal information such as associated Mesh ID’s and the device’s voice. A device stealthing its signals can still send and receive signals normally. A table of devices and their radio ranges can be found on EP. 299. Relevant rules for direct connection can be found on EP. 251 under “Wireless Scanning.” Relevant Rules for obtaining Mesh ID and voice data upon detection of a radio signal can be found on EP. 251 under “Wireless Scanning” and on EP. 299 under “Meshed Gear.”

When a device is connected to the Mesh, it can be connected through that peer-to-peer network as long as there are no airgaps. Lag for extremely long distance hacks however can make most actions impossible unless the lag is eliminated with a quantum communicator or similar method. For this to work however, the target must be online, and it’s Mesh ID known. This last requirement can make using this method unreliable, as targets may be prone to switching their Mesh ID periodically for security purposes. Details and suggestions can be found on EP. 255.

Before jumping straight into intrusion attempts to access a device, it’s important to consider other ways of getting access to the device that do not require you to worry about bypassing active security and sometimes defeating the target’s firewall. Remember that taking actions that the hacker’s account (Legitimate, stolen, spoofed, or forged) does not have rights to on a PAN does not require a hacking attempt to defeat the firewall or get past active monitors, simply an Infosec check with the appropriate penalty. Hackers can still have their status downgraded by scoring severe or critical failures on tests manipulating the system.

Rules for spoofing can be found on EP. 255. It’s important to note that the quality of sniffing software can add bonuses or penalties the Infosec test to secure an account and mitigate the penalty for getting a security or admin account. The quality of spoofing software can raise or lower the test to defeat the target system’s firewall (Whose quality will also affect your test) with your sniffed credentials. If your GM rules the process of sniffing to be a task action then rushing/taking time modifiers can also apply to the test and timeframe, and for the latter the MoS for a successful test. Your GM may allow sniffed encrypted transmissions to be decrypted by a quantum computer and an account to be formed from that.

The section under Circumventing Authentication suggests that the means and techniques are beyond the core rulebook (EP. 255), and while we may eventually see rules for it, much can be gathered by looking at the authentication options on EP. 253.

This is one of the most common methods you’ll use to gain access to a device you haven’t hacked. Essentially if your GM isn’t requiring your target to take an action to log in to a device they’re using, you should be able to reasonably argue that if you hack them you should have access to the account. Be willing to back down though, you don’t want to piss off your GM in a role that has so many judgement calls.

Mesh ID
Probably the worst of authentication methods given that Mesh ID’s associated with the device are immediately offered when the device is scanned, though it can be much more secure if using a Mesh ID that’s never on a wireless-enabled system. If the account is logged into wirelessly through a VPN, it could still be sniffed and decrypted by a quantum computer, or the devices sending or receiving the credentials could be hacked to obtain data in plain format. If the device allows you to log in with your own Mesh ID, don’t forget to eliminate traces.

While a poor form of security, this is a great thing for those wanting to remain unassociated with the account they’re logging into. This method of authentication faces a lot of the same security problems as an unassociated Mesh ID, but also consider the option of brute-forcing the combination if there aren’t a high number of combinations, though if login attempts are limited this becomes very difficult. Stealing the passcode from where it’s written, interrogation, social engineering, or taking it from someone’s memory directly are additional methods of getting a passcode.

For a hacker that’s not focused on impersonation with an impersonation-based morph that allows them to mimic physical characteristics, this can be a difficult method to fool even with morph measurements from an authenticated user. Outside of stealing DNA, growing a morph clone, or getting/forcing a user to authenticate for you, the best option a hacker has here is to try and intercept the data between the measuring portion of the device that scans the biometric data and the authentication portions that compares that data to approved users, then passing that data through at the same point later when you want to use it. This is one of the most frustrating methods for a hacker, but luckily also one of the least common outside of bioconservative circles.

Essentially an encrypted passcode that can also carry physical security elements. The digital version cannot have quantum encryption, so decryption should be possible according to the standard rules. The physical version for hardwired systems is much harder, and would require copying the key, the data, and the transmission pattern or any other unique features. Of course the alternative methods of compromising the hardwired system beforehand, stealing, social engineering, and the like apply as other methods for defeating this authentication.

Ego Scan
While this initially looks like a near impossible method to defeat, there’s actually a number of tools to defeat it, though it can be difficult. Brain patterns can be defeated by cyberbrain character and infomorphs with the Fake Brainprint Plug-In (PO. 156), and Nanotat ID’s can be faked with the Nanotat ID Flux. The difficulty then lies with getting authentic and approved brainprints and numerical Ego ID’s. Both require tricking or convincing an authorized user to submit to a Brainprint Scanner (PO. 152) or an ID Scanner (PO. 153). Work arounds of hacking the scanner itself and social engineering do apply.

Quantum Key
Technically unhackable, and even more secure since even if you do get the data from the sending party before it is encrypted by the key, the receiving party will try to decrypt it with the quantum key (Which will have changed) but it will be wrong. The only way around this would be to hack the receiving device, catch the raw information after it’s been decrypted by the quantum key, and before it’s authenticated. Hacking and stealing the key are additional options of circumventing this authorization method.

Chase Chase's picture
Rules - Intrusion and Security

The core rulebook has a great sequence that details the intrusion process and possible results for defeating active security on EP. 255, so here I’d just like to expand on that with some of the modifiers players and GM’s should be aware of when completing this important test.

Defeating the Firewall
Main modifiers here are the quality of the hacker’s exploit software, quality of the target’s firewall software, account privileges, and if the hacker is taking time or rushing the task. A hacker’s teamwork bonuses (Per EP. 258), specialization, and if the system’s alert status (Active/Passive) can also modify the roll.

Bypassing Active Security
Modifiers here include the hacker’s exploit software, teamwork bonuses for both the hacker and security, and specializations in security. It’s dubious that the firewall software’s quality should apply, as the last step defeated it, but ask your GM.

Additional Notes: Remember that no test can have a total of modifiers greater than +/-60, and that multiple security team members can actively monitor a device/PAN, forcing multiple rolls to bypass active security. It can also be beneficial to take the penalties for security/admin accounts rather than taking penalties for not having privileges later since this will likely be the test where you receive the most bonuses out of any tests during the hacking sequence.

Brute-Force Hacking
Ah, the digital equivalent of B&E. This is handled in essentially the same manner as a standard intrusion attempt except it’s ten times faster, the hacker gains a very good bonus on their Infosec test to break through the firewall, and they immediately trigger an alarm and end up in locked status with a large penalty to all actions. Active security can still immediately lock out the hacker if they’re not defeated, though a specialization in Intrusion: Brute-Force Hacking can arguably add bonuses to defeating the firewall and bypassing active security since both activities fall under the header. Entry found on EP. 257.

While it is definitely an important role for a hacker to defend their own systems and perhaps those of their team, security alerts and countermeasures can actually work offensively as well to provide a whole new host of options for a hacker if the system can be properly manipulated. Here we’ll be having quick looks at both roles as well as some rule consolidation and clarification to help keep everything on track.

Passive Alert
Passive alerts are pretty great or pretty annoying depending on which side of the intrusion you’re on. It forces a penalty to all tests for all intruders, automatically notifies active monitors and the owner or admins of the event, so they can stop whatever they’re doing to begin active monitoring. The best piece about passive alerts though is it automatically launches pre-defined countermeasures. That’s right, the system launches these, not the security hackers (With the exception of zeroing in) so no actions are spent. They only launch when an intruder hits spotted status however, so additional hackers that reach spotted status can activate these countermeasures additional times, and by rules as written brute-forcing doesn’t activate passive alerts because they begin at a locked status. Rules are found EP. 257.

Passive Countermeasures
This countermeasure is all about the action economy. It doesn’t define what kind of action must be taken to log back into the system, but if you have more of those actions per action turn than your opponent, it’s worth it. Given that you’re unlikely to know that fact, make a judgement call based on your current implants and speed to decide if you should enable this passive countermeasure or not. The forced an Intrusion test with a penalty isn’t too bad considering that if your intruder is likely to fail that, they shouldn’t have gotten into the system in the first place. Teamwork bonuses for both sides and a specialization in Infosec: Security for the security hacker should apply to the test. Note that this countermeasure does not activate immediately or during the next action phase, only at the beginning of the next action turn. Rules are found on EP. 257.

Reduce Privileges
The best of the passive countermeasures, reduced privileges can force penalties on anyone not logged in on an admin account by simply making everything on the system require admin rights. Privileges cannot be pulled from admins however (By a rules-as-written reading of the text as well as the logic of being unable to restrict restoring the privileges to a higher account status that doesn’t exist in the rules), so you can’t restrict portions of the system using this method. The option to backup logs is very good, especially if those logs are backed up to another system the intruding hacker doesn’t have rights on and is unable to clean up with the Eliminate Intrusion Traces subversion action. This passive countermeasure is found on EP. 258.

Zeroing In
All relevant rules can be found on EP. 257. Teamwork bonuses for both sides and a specialization in Infosec: Security for the primary security hacker should apply to the test. Note that this action does not require passive countermeasures to be active, as the rules for it are outside of the Passive Countermeasures section on page 257, though it’s only useful against intruders with spotted status.

Active Alert
While passive alerts may or may not notify the device’s admins or owner depending on settings, active alerts will. They also provide the option of notifying additional security assets, which is a great option for your team members to run if they (Or you) don’t want to slave their personal area network (PAN) to yours but they are willing to accept your help during a hack. While the text for active alerts notes that active countermeasures may be initiated by the system, all of the countermeasures require initiation with an action, and so require an ego or AI with an account status on the device. The Active Alert entry on EP. 257 does not note a penalty to intruders, however the Locked Intruder Status entry earlier on the page indicates that an active alert forces a heavy penalty to intruders on the system.

Active Countermeasures
This entry is simply to make security hackers aware that they are not restricted to combating the intruder on their own device. Follow the standard intrusion rules, and remember you don’t have the attacker’s Mesh ID or anything else that indicates where the attack is coming from until you trace them. Oddly the rules for digital tracking without a Mesh ID aren’t actually defined on EP. 251 where the Counterintrusion section tells you to look for them. Nine pages later it’s written that during a hack details such as the hacker’s Mesh ID are logged by the targeted system (As per Eliminate Intrusion Traces, EP. 260), but how accessible those logs are and how easy it is to tell which is the offending Mesh ID and not another one of the many communicating devices is up to the GM. If the Mesh ID is known, no trace action should be required for Counterintrusion and should otherwise be treated as a standard intrusion action. The Counterintrusion entry can be found on EP. 258.

The rules for the Lockout active countermeasure are well defined and can be found on EP. 258. Note that the written penalty for the intruder being Locked does not stack with the penalty for an active alert.

This countermeasure is actually just as useful if not more useful for offensive hacking than defensive security. While the Reboot/Shutdown action does take a while, and the system can operate and be intruded on while the process occurs, nothing in the text suggests that it can be aborted, and even if immediately rebooted, the system can be shut down for between one action turn and a full minute. Of course it can’t be subverted during that time, but if you just need it out of the way for that brief period it works pretty well. Found on EP. 258.

Requires a Research test with an unknown timeframe and Privacy Mode penalties apply. If your GM decides tracing can occur quickly, this becomes one of the more concerning countermeasures to an intruding hacker, especially if a hacker does not have physical security of their own and/or an escape route if they’re interrupted. Even informorphs are not immune, as they can be traced to their home device, although they can force even more penalties to this check by running as a distributed infomorph per rules found on TH. 143. Staying on the move can be a good defense against this countermeasure, as tracing only offers your immediate location at the time of the trace. Found on EP. 258.

Wireless Termination
Preferred over the Reboot/Shutdown countermeasure for almost any defensive scenario, this still allows off-network function of the device to the user without the threat of direct or mesh connections continuing the hack. It does nothing to stop a physical connection however, so the uses can be limited. Rules can be found on EP. 258.

Offensive use of Countermeasures
The bottom of the Subversion Difficulties table on EP. 259 points out that as a subversion action a hacker can launch countermeasures at others. The Zeroing In and Lockout countermeasures however require their targets to be Spotted or Locked, respectively. This can be worked around (By getting the security hacker to intrude on their own device by hacking for higher privileges if they have a security account, or tricking them into intruding onto a device slaved to their own PAN or similar), but it can be far easier just to use the other subversion option of locking out a user/muse on the same section of the table entry. A GM may instead apply a penalty to a subversion action test to get around the Spotted/Locked requirements for these actions.

Chase Chase's picture
Rules - Subversion and Brainhacking

Once inside a system, the real fun begins. Between the Subversion Examples on EP. 259 and the compiled Action Index above, there are an enormous number of opportunities to manipulate the system even before players and GM’s come up with their own clever ideas. The entries in this section serve to consolidate relevant rules and point out opportunities that may not be immediately obvious or considered.

Augmented Reality Illusions
About as close to digital wizardry as you can get, by rules as written this action can add visual, auditory, tactile, and emotional illusions. While the loss of taste and smell (Both senses that can be augmented according to the AR entry in EP. 239) is unfortunate, the addition of emotional illusions can be incredibly powerful and is definitely something to work out with your GM before trying to put it into play. AR Illusions software on EP. 331 is supposed to give a database of realistic illusions, and AR illusion software programs are mentioned alongside the hyper-realistic illusions paragraph, though it does not specifically reference the purchasable software. AR Illusion software is again mentioned on the next paragraph noting that some template illusions can be modified and controlled in real time. Injecting AR illusions is listed on the Subversion Examples table on EP. 259 with a moderate penalty to the Infosec test if the hacker doesn’t have appropriate rights on the system. Filtering out illusions the hacked individual is aware of without turning off AR does not have exact rules, but the rules for AR Mist on EP. 248 may be appropriate. Rules for AR Illusions begin on EP. 259.

While definitely great for preparing a system for immediate intrusion later without suffering the penalties or chance of brute-forcing the system, it also has the potential of negating some of the negative effects of brute-force intrusions or Locked status. According to rules as written, disconnecting from the system then using the backdoor to log back in will always give you covert status. The difficulties with this however is the double skill test of Programming and Infosec, both of which must be successful for the backdoor to be inserted, and how many action turns it requires, which is entirely unclear in the text. While the Infosec test does need to be passed, most of the penalties (Including being under Locked status or a passive alert) and benefits run off your Programming skill. It can be worth keeping a list to share with your GM of what systems you’ve loaded backdoors onto and which you’ve scored Excellent Successes on, forcing a large penalty on attempts to find it. Alternatively your GM might want to keep that list themselves so they can remove backdoors from it as they are found and removed. The shortest possible duration a Security Audit could be completed in would be 2.4 hours and only finds backdoors on a successful Infosec test, so as long as the backdoor is successfully loaded it has that long before even the possibility of discovery exists. Rules for Backdoors are found on EP. 260.

Crashing Software
Great action economy when combat hacking since it requires only a complex action, and allows no opposition unless crashing AI, AGI, or Infomorphs. Crashing Tacnets, Firewalls, or Encryption software can soften up your target for further pummeling or you can crash an opponent hacker’s Exploit, Scorcher, or AR Illusion software to declaw them for a moment. Crashing a target’s Muse and Firewall software can completely obliterate most opponent’s defenses until they boot back up. Downtime can be between very short at one Action Turn to quite long at a full minute, which is equivalent to roughly 20 Action Turns. While TH. 149 suggests that crashed infomorphs only take 1 Action Turn to reboot, that appears to only be for crashes due to DOS attacks. For this action use the specific rules under the Crashing Software entry on EP. 260.

Eliminating Intrusion Traces
Since this only applies if you avoid entering Locked status, it’s unlikely to be particularly useful for combat hacking. However if using a backdoor entry after brute-forcing, it should clean up anything you do afterwards. While the only concrete example of information you could be tracked by is Mesh ID (Easily switched out or anonymized and discarded) other possible identifying methods could include things like Voice data from meshed gear, records of code run on the device pointing towards specific versions of Exploit software, or any number of other possibilities. This is a tabula rasa for all of that, as long as Locked status has not been hit, likely due to automatic backups on read only devices. Of course the ultimate trace elimination isn’t digital, if you get where I’m going with it. Quick and easy complex action with an Infosec test that is only opposed under actively monitored systems. Exact details found on EP. 260.

Hacking VPNs
Rather than sniffing traffic, decrypting for a few days, then getting into the VPN with whatever scraps you managed to pick up, getting a foothold on any device that is part of the VPN can get you access to the entire thing. Sometimes this is easy, for example picking up on a slaved piece of mesh gear to hack a target’s ectos where their VPN node is running. Other times you may have to get through physical security, inside a radio-insulated room, and cut through a wall to get to an otherwise hardwired node running only VPN traffic. The prerequisite for hacking into the VPN is having an account on a device running part of it (Sending and receiving VPN traffic), and if they don’t have access due to access only being available to a higher level of account, a Infosec test with a -10 penalty. From there it’s treated just like a normal network, and you can connect to any other piece, though you may have to hack access. Details for Hacking VPNs is found on EP. 260.

Rules as written, this is a fairly overpowered ability. “Once the script is activated, it carries out the programmed sequence of actions. The programmer’s Infosec skill is used for any tests those actions call for.” Wow, so by RAW if you script a turret to shoot at the next thing that comes down the hall, it doesn’t use its weapon skill, or yours for that matter. It uses your (Probably very high) Infosec skill. Let’s just all take a moment and call that more or less unreasonable, since it would just make Infosec the king of all skills. I’m not going to tell you how the game should be run, but consider just having it use the programmer’s base skills, which could make scripting an important part of the black market if you need high probability of success on a certain action. All that said, scripting is otherwise a pretty well balanced and well designed action. Scripts can be pre-written with a Programming test in a timeframe determined by the GM, and loading requires a successful intrusion and Infosec test, or opposed Infosec on an actively monitored system. While there is no listed action requirement or timeframe given for the loading portion, adding basic software to a digital consciousness (Narcoalgorithms, standard software, andd plug-ins, TH. 139) is a complex action, which might serve as a good guide for your GM’s decision. One of the major benefits to scripting is it can perform actions independently, and doesn’t suffer from Locked penalties (Though passive alert may apply) so it may be more economical than inserting backdoors or similar actions. Like backdoors it can be found through security audits, and is not eligible to cause the Infosec penalty to security audits to discover it. It is unclear if the script can run repeatedly, or if an Eliminate Intrusion Steps action is required to delete it from the system. A good example of scripting is found on EP. 261, just under the scripting entry.

So for all those poor clanking masses and infomorph that didn’t get my previous warning about skipping the organic thinking noodles, you get to teach them a lesson and convince them to be one less vector for exsurgent infections. Once you establish a connection to an infomorph’s home device and have their mesh ID, or have access to a cyberbrain through Skinlink nanoware, a Fiber Optic Cable plugged into their access jacks, or ectos, you can cause some interesting effects. Some of these can only be done to cyberbrained targets, others only to infomorphs, but most can affect both. Other similarities are the -30 penalty to Infosec tests to infiltrate, and no penalty for obtaining an admin account.

Brainhacking Options
After intruding into a digital consciousness there are many options available for manipulation and control. Some of these are restricted to certain types of digital consciousnesses, the specifics of which are discussed in their own section. The options common to cyberbrain and infomorph targets are presented here.

This is a weird one. For the Entrapment entry on EP. 261, this option allows a hacker to entrap the ego onto the device it’s running on (Cyberbrain, server, etc) and keep it from transferring itself to another device. It requires an opposed Infosec test with the defending ego or muse and any account including an entrapped ego with rights on the system can free the ego, though no information is in the rules on that process. To prevent this the accounts need to be Locked-Out with the active countermeasure which requires them to be in Locked status on their own device, a very difficult series of requirements for a hacker. Entrapping an ego sleeved into a cyberbrain is difficult, but possible. For infomorphs however, the rules governing the Lockout active countermeasure against them on TH. 149 makes entrapment of a locked-out infomorph entirely impossible. Entrapment is still possible, but in TH. 149 it says “A locked-out infomorph may take its next action to make an Interfacing Test at -30 to rapidly move itself to another networked device. If it fails, the infomorph is essentially deleted from the system.” If the infomorph is entrapped before the Lockout, it would automatically fail the move, and be deleted. If it was not, then it could move to a new device essentially ad infinitum (Given the plethora of devices in most transhuman habitats), where it would have or could hack rights to free itself from Entrapment. House-rule until errata comes out, or use other techniques such as shut-down, copy inactive infomorph onto a lockbox, and delete the original.

Memory Hacking
Hackers can read, alter, and delete digitally recorded memories with a successful Research or Interfacing test with the -30 penalty for brain-hacking. There’s no action requirement or timeframe listed, but the Online Research entries beginning on EP. 249 may provide some guidelines for finding certain memories. The Memory Editing psychosurgery procedure on EP. 232 may initially appear as a guideline for timeframe, though the procedure depends on monitoring memory recall rather than a digital search of archives, which would likely take much longer. The other effects of the procedure may be appropriate however when considering the results of Memory Hacking. Entry is found on EP. 261.

Malware for the mind. Hackers must deploy a specific scorcher program and succeed on an Infosec test (With the -30 penalty for brain-hacking) opposed by the defending ego to force the effects of the scorcher. No action requirement or timeframe is suggested in the rules, and given that this is one of the few ways a hacker can cause direct damage with digital attacks, it can be worth coming to a decision with your GM in case scorcher programs are ever needed. Scorcher programs and their effects can be found on EP. 332. Scorcher rules begin on EP. 261.

One of the most simple and effective brain-hacks, Shutdown requires only a complex action and no test. It follows the same rules as the Reboot/Shutdown active countermeasure on EP. 258. There is no indication of exactly how long the shutdown or reboot actions take for a cyberbrain, but it should fall within the one action turn to one minute guidelines in the rules. The reboot time for AI/Infomorphs crashed with the Crashing Software subversion on EP. 260 may provide a good guideline. Entry found on EP. 262.

Terminate Cortical Stack Feed
This brain-hacking option allows you to force the cyberbrain to stop providing backup data to the cortical stack. It functions similarly for infomorphs by terminating their backup recording, and can be found on TH. 149 under Brainhacking Infomorphs. It requires an opposed Infosec test with the brain-hacking penalty, potentially indicating that the defender, regardless of what status the hacker is in, will be aware of the attempt. While the entry does not offer an action requirement or timeframe, it’s arguably crashing the software that feeds backup data to the cortical stack, so the Crashing Software time of one complex action may be a good guideline. While the entry does seem to indicate the connection can be turned back on, it does not indicate how long or what process that requires. Details found on EP. 262.

Cyberbrain Hacking
Cyberbrain hacking generally targets pods, synthmorphs, sleeved robots, sleeved vehicles, biodrones, and even habitats. All but habitats (Which require a special kind of cyberbrain) can potentially be replaced with the Brain Box enhancement which removes the cyberbrain. X-Ray vision may help reveal if your target has one before you begin working towards such a hack. Rules for cyberbrain hacking can be found on EP. 261.

If the cyberbrain equipped morph also has a Puppet Sock, you can use one of the more versatile brain-hacks. While it requires a constant fight for control with a -30 penalty on the opposed Infosec test unless the defending ego is locked away, even a single turn of teleoperation or jamming can pull their morph out from behind cover and into ally or enemy fire or whatever creative use you have for them. It requires only a complex action to take or wrest back control, so it requires little to make an attempt. The Habitat Cyberbrain Hacking entry on PO. 174 suggests that puppeteering a habitat cyberbrain allows the hacker to effectively replace the ego with full control of the habitat’s systems, but the Puppeteering requirement of a Puppet Sock is not met by any of the sample habitat morphs or the habitat cyberbrain morph gear, so it’s likely rare to find a habitat morph with this option. Full rules found on EP. 261.

Infomorph Hacking
According to TH. 138 an infomorph is any active software mind emulation. This means you can brain-hack any digitized/disembodied egos, forks, AGIs, AI (Including muses), and theoretically seed AI. Inactive stored egos and simulmorphs however are not valid targets. To conduct a brain-hack of an infomorph you must have security or admin rights on the device (Or one of the devices, in the case of distributed infomorphs), that the infomorph is running on, and know their mesh ID. Hacking an infomorph leaves logs like with a standard intrusion, so Eliminating Intrusion Traces can be a good decision. Beyond other brain-hacking options, a hacked infomorph can be forcibly resleeved, forked, have their plug-ins and upgrades disabled or removed, and be subjected to psychosurgery according to the full rules beginning on TH. 148.

A successful brain-hack opens up the opportunity to force a narcoalgorithm on an infomorph. While extremely easy to do, only requiring a single complex action, it’s even easier to undo as it counts as a plug-in and can be deleted with a quick action. So unless you’re planning to keep them on a Lockbox you need to keep them from being aware of and deleting the narcoalgorithm. It’s unclear exactly what control an infomorph would have over its digital state while under the effects of a narcoalgorithm with catatonic effects, but Linkstate, certain petals, and perhaps even custom-designed narcoalgorithms could be useful for this. It’s unclear if chemicals and toxins can be made into narcoalgorithms as while they do not fall under the drugs header on EP. 318, they are mentioned as drugs and chemicals for offensive use under that same header. Consider working out the details with your GM, though realize that many of the effects of the chemical and drug entries in the book would be difficult to adapt to a purely digital consciousness. Full rules found on TH. 149.

Biodrone Puppeteering
According to the Subverting Biodrones entry on PO. 175, puppet socks can be subverted by a hacker in the same manner as a cyberbrain, though biomorphs such as smart animals are not vulnerable to entrapment, memory hacking, or scorching. Since Shutdown and Terminate Cortical Stack Feed actions only affect cyberbrains, the only remaining possibility for a hack is the puppeteering action. Given this entry it’s not clear if a cyberbrain actually has to be hacked before puppeteering can occur at all, if just the puppet sock needs to be subverted, or if intruding into the puppet sock on a morph without a cyberbrain is the same process as subverting a cyberbrain itself. Discuss with your GM. Puppeteering requires a complex action and a successful Infosec test opposed by the defending ego or AI, and jamming and teleoperation rules are as written in the core rulebook.

Chase Chase's picture
Rules - Non-Subversive Attacks

While the more complicated and advanced techniques available to a hacker require subversion of the target system, denial-of-service (DOS) and jamming are simpler forms of attack that can still have debilitating effects on the mesh capabilities of their targets.

Radio Jamming
About as basic as electronic warfare gets, jamming can restrict the mesh capabilities of a single target, an area, or impact the quality of radar sensor reports. With a standard radio wireless device and a successful Interfacing test anyone can cut off wireless radio communication within the affected range (Found in EP. 299) and impose a -30 penalty to radar sensor related tests, as it causes interference. This can be an easy way to immediately shut down a surprise digital attack, as there is no opportunity for others to oppose the jamming until their next action, giving you and your team a brief chance to recover. Jamming can be targeted at a single device if the device has been scanned per the Wireless Scanning rules on EP. 251. Jamming does not affect non-radio forms of communication such as laser, microwave, or wired links. The full rules of jamming can be found on EP. 262.

Opposing Jamming
Overcoming radio sensor interference from jamming requires success from the sensor operator on an opposed Interference test. Overcoming universal or selective jamming for radio communication requires a successful Interfacing variable opposed test.

Denial-of-Service (DoS)
While the concept of DoS attacks are pretty cool, their effects against everything but infomorphs are pitiful. For devices targeted by a DoS attack any MoS below 60 will apply a low 10-20% chance of a “glitch” to affect users of that device if your GM chooses to highlight them, otherwise a successful DoS has absolutely no effect. These are mostly minor debuffs, and any hacker intruding on the device can also experience these glitches. A glitch roll of 0, an MoS of 60+, or an upgraded attack against a minimal device will crash the device, drop all users, shut down infomorphs running on the system, and reboot the device. Not exactly helpful to a hacker manipulating the system in most cases, but it has possibilities. Infomorphs running on the device however take some pretty heavy hits with speed reductions, aptitude maximum drops, disabled upgrades, and in the worst cases penalties to all actions. Full rules for a device DoS can be found on TH. 147.

Infomorph Denial-of-Service
Remember when I told you not to pick an infomorph? DoS attacks are a big part of the why. Not only can an infomorph suffer a DoS attack on their home device, they can also be hit with DoS attacks from their home device. If you’re willing to chance the glitches, this can be a good way to keep a defending infomorph such as a muse busy while you hack the system. Targeting an infomorph does still affect the device they’re running on, but at one step better, so the system won’t ever crash out from under you without a roll of 0 on a glitch. Rules for an Infomorph DoS attack can be found on TH. 149.

Beauty and a Glitch
By RAW, one of the glitches can actually help an intruding character under Locked status. A roll of 8 for an intruding character experiencing a glitch automatically gives them spotted status, which is an upgrade for locked users. The intruder could then continue to Upgrade Status into Covert or even Hidden status. While this may be an oversight considering the glitch is named Security Flag and seems to be intended to hinder intruding users, the possibility of a system experiencing a glitch with active countermeasures during a DoS and allowing a hacker to slip away is a perfectly plausible and interesting possibility with a very low chance of actually occurring.

Defending Against DoS Attacks
There are a number of ways of ending a DoS attack. While the rules do not indicate what kind of action is required, or even if an action is required, unmonitored attacks can be defeated with an Infosec test MoS higher than that of the last Infosec test MoS rolled by the attacker for the DoS attack. Winning an opposed roll during a monitored DoS or attempted upgrade of the DoS can end the DoS. Personal computers and servers targeted by a DoS attack gain a cumulative +10 modifier each round for (presumably, though rules aren’t explicit) the defender’s Infosec test to end the DoS attack, reduced by 10 each action turn the attack doesn’t occur. Aside from the standard methods of defense, both device and infomorph DoS attacks require the target’s mesh ID, so switching that and/or passing the ID off to a less important device can work until the attacker gets wise to the trick. Infomorphs can move off their current device to end a DoS attack, as long as the attacker doesn’t have security or admin rights on their new home device.

Chase Chase's picture

(Reserved for future rules)

Chase Chase's picture
Additional Resources

Tips and Tricks
While there are a great many tools and options available, some useful elements aren’t immediately obvious within the text, or pieces combine into especially powerful options. Here is a list of suggestions from your humble author and hopefully soon the best ones posted in the comments below by your fellow readers, which will of course be credited.

  • DoS Attack Infomorphs Rather Than Scanning for Hidden Upgrades: While absolutely not polite and generally illegal, when you need to know and need to know now getting the infomorph to run as if on a minimal system will disable the Digital Veil upgrade used to hide other upgrades and plug-ins since it’s [Expensive] and anything with a cost higher than [Moderate] cannot run on a minimal system.

  • Self-Installing Gray Box: For the price of [Moderate] for Skinlink Nanoware on a [Low] cost Speck robot, you can have a normally [Moderate] cost Gray Box robot that can fly, be upgraded with additional stealth enhancements, connect to any electronics it touches, see and hear anything within 20 meters with hyperspectral vision, and so much more.

  • Use Microwave Links for Jamming and Teleoperation: Keep radio wireless as backup, but it’s much harder for opponents to purposefully block microwave than radio transmissions, and your robots will be harder to hack with the rarer form of communication.

  • Use Scripts Defensively: Hiding scripts in your own devices to activate when certain conditions are met can provide contingency responses for when you lose control of the device.
See your tip here! I’ll be watching the comments!

Character Builds
There are many different ways to put a unique spin on the hacker archetype, and interesting theorycrafted builds will be posted here for inspiration or curiosity.

Useful or Interesting Links

Chase Chase's picture
Final Notes and Thanks

Wow, you’ve made it! Over 22,000 words are above this point, so thanks for sticking with it for as much as you did. If you liked it, please drop a line down below as it would mean a lot to know this little project of mine was actually enjoyed by some people! Additionally if you have thoughts, opinions, suggestions, or anything else please do reply with those as well, I will be reading. If you’d like to talk on the side, I do read my PMs, so you can reach me there. Finally there’s some people I’d like to thank:

Emo_Duck, for asking the question so long ago that sparked the minds of many.
Trappedinwikipedia, for showing me the RAW of Multitasking, and being ready to engage any questions with good logic and understanding of the game.

And of course the Eclipse Phase Creators, Writers, Artists, Publishing Partners, and really anyone associated with making this fantastic game. Especially those who have continued to refine and add to the hacking and electronic warfare elements of EP over the years.

Attribution and Reuse Request
Full attribution to Posthuman Studios, LLC for the rules, mechanics, and quotes from their awesome game.

Please feel free to cut apart, remix, share, and generally do whatever with the content from this thread. It would be awesome of you to credit me, but even cooler to point people back to this site to help build this game and community.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
I have to come back later as

I have to come back later as it is to much to read in one go. Thanks for the work.

Trappedinwikipedia Trappedinwikipedia's picture
Wow, this is really good.

Wow, this is really good. This is basically the final word on EP hacking. I hadn't thought of the defensive scripts or gnat bot tricks at all!

One option for giving yourself an assistance bonus is delta forking yourself, or keeping some delta forks on ice. This is a fairly common practice according to the core rules, and it's a really easy way to get +30 bonuses while hacking, if you have a decent amount of hardware to run them on.

Kojak Kojak's picture
Hoooly shit, this is

Hoooly shit, this is incredible. I will definitely be forwarding a link for this to two of my players.

"I wonder if in some weird Freudian way, Kojak was sucking on his own head."
- Steve Webster on Kojak's lollipop

Larvae Larvae's picture
This is absolutely amazing!

This is absolutely amazing! Thank you for this monumental undertaking! This is seriously impressive.

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
I had some time to think

I had some time to think about what I read and skimmed over earlier. I'm not sure if it was really important that you covered the backgrounds and factions. Its nice that you did, but I don't think they are as useful as having the right gear. Really, a character should have some balance. Go too far specialized in one direction and you can't use a character for anything else. The background and factions is one way to get balance, because a character is supposed to know stuff because of their background and faction.

When you spend points, you have to spend 400 on active skills and 300 on knowledge skills, with another 300 can be used on other stuff. The backgrounds and factions average 40 points each (80 total once you pick one of each). While background and faction can be used to push your character in a direction you want to go, at the end of the day you should still opt for balance.

I think you should have covered character builds for hacker characters. Cover stuff like what to look for and what to avoid when making hacking characters. Stuff like Infolife CP cost reduction for tech skills and social stigma for being an AGI. You pretty much covered every individual thing in the game that relates to hacking, but you never stopped to show character builds and how the build works.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Hack And Slash.

Nice. Very Nice.
I agree that the notes about factions was probably extraneous, but the rest is quality stuff. This is destined to be printed off for my table :D

I also have some suggestions! :D
I think Upgrade software deserves a bit more of a spotlight rather than being a side note to the specific gear types. Partially because AFAIK software only needs to be bought once, bypassing the Blueprint price-hike, but more importantly they can be run on cyberbrains.
Also, whilst not explicitly stated, Drive should be available in Narcoalgorithm form which can be useful for a temporary bonus.
Also, it might be worth making a note on the entry about Ectos that they can be used by Synthmorphs because it's easily overlooked.

Regarding gear and tricks in general:
- Access Jacks are fantastic in combination with Ectos, because you can disable your Mesh-Inserts WIFI entirely. This is a fancy way of giving Inserts and externally removable aerial, so if you're getting hacked you can physically air-gap yourself by literally pulling the plug.
- Scripting can also be used for your software, plugins and upgrades. My favorite example is having a positive detection from Infection Scanner or Hacking Alert trigger Autodelete, and then reload from a Backup.
- Swarminoids make fantastic drones. Equipping a swarminoid with a skinlink makes establishing a physical connection much simpler. Flexbots (especially those with Apiaries) are similarly useful.
Speaking of which...

I suggest making a section for houserules or rule interpretations, both for players looking for ideas and DMs who need help making rulings. For example (So Subtle! :P) ...
- When dealing with multiple drones, it's a lot easier to treat them as a single entity using swarm/flexmorph rules, even if they're not explicitly those types in-game. Doing this needs a little more preparation , but makes actual play faster and simpler to organize.
- Using Forks to get assistance is standard practice... so standard that it's fair to assume that everyone does it, to the point that standard difficulties and skill levels are set with that in mind. In this case, using forks would grant no bonuses but lacking the ability to great sufficient forks would cause penalties. This also frees up the +30 bonus to be granted from other players.
- Generally speaking it's very easy to pump up Hacking Skills to 100+, so most contests are going to boil down to who rolls higher. It pays of more to concentrate on tricks and strategy than who has the bigger value.

Finally, maybe include a small section on hacking in combat? Everyone has a mental action they can use, so a list of what non-hackers can do and how a hacker can support the group would be really handy.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

Noble Pigeon Noble Pigeon's picture
As someone who doesn't know a

As someone who doesn't know a lot of stuff about actual computer stuff or cryptography, what's to stop everyone from using public key encryption 100% of the time? Encryption software is stupid easy to get, and your muse can just automatically encrypt everything.

Shouldn't that make VPNs impossible to hack into without a quantum computer and a week of spare time if they just use public key cryptography?

BONUS QUESTION: I keep on hearing how physical storage space is minimal to none in the time of EP, but there's also references to things like Titanian server farms and stuff like that. Wouldn't you still have physical servers to run things as gargantuan as habitat systems? Again I know very little about computer science so I'm kind of in the dark here.

I know this question isn't quite related to creating an optimized hacker, but these are questions that a hacker player might ask me, to which I'd respond, "I dunno".

"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.”
-Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union address

GRAAK GRAAK's picture
I second Noble Pigeon's

I second Noble Pigeon's questions.

And a big THANK YOU for this massive amazing work!!! I'm starting studying it!

Noble Pigeon Noble Pigeon's picture
Oh yeah, I forgot I asked

Oh yeah, I forgot I asked those, and now I'm awfully curious about them again. CURSE YOU GRAAAAAAAAAAK! BUT ALSO THANK YOU FOR REMINDING ME!

"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.”
-Abraham Lincoln, State of the Union address

MrWigggles MrWigggles's picture
Well my understanding is that

Well my understanding is that we have hard drives, because we need low latency high speed RAM to store ad hoc information while the system and its programs are running. RAM wipes when it turns off. The hard drive doesnt. If you had enough RAM, and the ability to freely reallocate RAM from storage to actively running programs, then you wouldn't need a storage medium. If a habitat gets to be mostly to all the way turned off, then there defiantly more bad things happening then losing some mesh board posts. There is probably something like a ROM box for the habitat, that contains the AGI(s) and other expert systems that manage the habitat. It could also be something far more distributed and decentralized. The airlock, when it receives powers, knows how to be an airlock without having to know about the entirety of the habitat. Every infrastructure item for the habitat could have something like that, and the master AGI, then just makes a hierarchical order for the expert systems reporting to it. So habitat systems are closer to an ant colony. Each physical thing is running almost entirely by itself but still acts in concert. There is also some things about location. Transhumanity is capable of hugely powerful computers but collectively from the scars of the fall, dont. There is even fluff text about making sure that CNC machines remain fairly dumb. They actively dotn build large banks of computers. There are exceptions like the ones near Titanian Commonwealth. I wouldnt be surprise if someone where to co-opt the entirety of Glitch it could run most of an ASI.

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
Panopticon says there are

Panopticon says there are Habitat Operation servers, which can be used to house AGIs or AIs used to run a habitats systems on a dedicated platform, in addition to any other subsystem software, but their clusters rarely get bigger than say, 10 or so actual servers, because if you add a few too many of those clusters together, you can start a Seed AI on them.

H-Rep: An EP Homebrew Blog

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
Noble Pigeon wrote:As someone

Noble Pigeon wrote:
As someone who doesn't know a lot of stuff about actual computer stuff or cryptography, what's to stop everyone from using public key encryption 100% of the time? Encryption software is stupid easy to get, and your muse can just automatically encrypt everything.

I don't know about EP, but in the real world, the reason this stuff isn't stuff isn't used by everyone is because it never became popular. I can easily download software to encrypt my emails, but often times the software it is used by doesn't come with it or use it by default. Some programs might required you to turn encryption on for every time you send an email. Not every website has a https mode. This website doesn't. In a way, its like texting and driving. If it doesn't kill you the first few times, you easily get in the bad habit of doing the wrong thing all the time.

Encryption also needs two to tango. I mean you could use encryption, but unless the other party uses it as well, half of a conversation will not be encrypted. In fact, the whole conversation might be open to be read. One person must create a private/public key and send the public key, while the other person has to opt to use it. And vice versa. You can't opt to use encryption and magically get messages from you and to you to be encrypted.

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
They're in the walls!

DivineWrath wrote:
I don't know about EP, but in the real world, the reason this stuff isn't stuff isn't used by everyone is because it never became popular. I can easily download software to encrypt my emails, but often times the software it is used by doesn't come with it or use it by default. Some programs might required you to turn encryption on for every time you send an email. Not every website has a https mode. This website doesn't. In a way, its like texting and driving. If it doesn't kill you the first few times, you easily get in the bad habit of doing the wrong thing all the time.

Encryption also needs two to tango. I mean you could use encryption, but unless the other party uses it as well, half of a conversation will not be encrypted. In fact, the whole conversation might be open to be read. One person must create a private/public key and send the public key, while the other person has to opt to use it. And vice versa. You can't opt to use encryption and magically get messages from you and to you to be encrypted.

Encryption in general is also less useful the more you use it. The more information sent using a pair of Keys the simpler it is to break. Using new keys solves this, but the receiver needs the new key as well.

Noble Pigeon wrote:
I keep on hearing how physical storage space is minimal to none in the time of EP, but there's also references to things like Titanian server farms and stuff like that. Wouldn't you still have physical servers to run things as gargantuan as habitat systems? Again I know very little about computer science so I'm kind of in the dark here.

EP servers serve two purposes. Firstly, they can be used to store information and programs seperate from the mesh for security.
Secondly, they can be loaded with specialised hardware and software – systems running on ectos can pass queries to the server for processing, allowing the server to do the heavy lifting. The actual systems running the habitat would be in units embedded into the architecture.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Quote:Encryption in general

Encryption in general is also less useful the more you use it. The more information sent using a pair of Keys the simpler it is to break. Using new keys solves this, but the receiver needs the new key as well.

This is solved by session keying. For every communication, a new session key is generated with a random number generator (no bikeshedding, please, this is not a cryptography mailing list). The session key is used to encrypt the traffic, and the recipient's key is used to encrypt the session key, which is prepended to the cyphertext. The recipient extracts the encrypted session key, decrypts it with their private key, and uses the extracted session key to decrypt the message.

Chase2.0 Chase2.0's picture
Forcibly resleeved

Sorry for my absence and lack of communication all. Shortly after I posted this I changed around some passwords and when I forgot the one to my account here tried to use the password reset tool which isn't sending an email to my address and seems to have wiped my old password. Ticket process doesn't seem to be having much luck either. In the meantime though, I'll be using this account until I can edit the main posts with some of the thoughts and ideas I see here!

I do agree that listing all the background and all of the factions was a bit extraneous, and ended up becoming a big reason for trying to format this guy to be easier to bounce around. I did it primarily because while there are a few backgrounds and factions that are great for a hacker archetype character, Eclipse Phase is wonderful in that it's not much of a punishment to just play what you want so I wanted to support that freedom of character concept. Probably something I'll leave in because hey, the work's already done.

To be perfectly transparent, I'm not much of a computer science or security guy. I know a little bit here and here, but this is far more born of my interest in game systems and how Eclipse Phase offers a pretty big range of opportunities for a hacker character. Please feel free to drop tech questions and answers (I especially love reading the answers) here as it seems like a good place!

Lastly, house rules. While I encourage people to use and discuss house rules as they see fit, I won't be making a section in the main part of the guide for them. There's just too many ways to go about it, and I want the focus and core of the guide to be about the system as the game's writers envisioned it.

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:

Also, it might be worth making a note on the entry about Ectos that they can be used by Synthmorphs because it's easily overlooked.

Is that the same as your suggestion of access jacks and ectos? If not it sounds like there might be something really cool that I'm missing.

ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:

Finally, maybe include a small section on hacking in combat? Everyone has a mental action they can use, so a list of what non-hackers can do and how a hacker can support the group would be really handy.

That was kind of my intention with the action index (And beyond everyone's mental action, their muse technically has actions as well...). It's funny how this began with my enthusiasm for combat hacking, but that quickly became lost in the huge number of other tools that make up the hacking role. Anyways, when I get my account back (Or end up reposting this whole thing so I can properly edit it though I'll give it a few more months) I'll see about tossing Brute Force Hacking into the action index and probably footstomping combat hacking under the Intrusion section as well.


ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
"Oh no, Hackers!" *Pulls ethernet cable* "That was easy."

The Doctor wrote:
This is solved by session keying. For every communication, a new session key is generated with a random number generator (no bikeshedding, please, this is not a cryptography mailing list).

This helps, but isn't a solution exactly – if it's expected, then it can be countered (going after the session keys) given enough processing power, which in EP is a given.
As a general rule, encryption systems are more powerful the less they're used.

Chase2.0 wrote:
ThatWhichNeverWas wrote:

Also, it might be worth making a note on the entry about Ectos that they can be used by Synthmorphs because it's easily overlooked.

Is that the same as your suggestion of access jacks and ectos? If not it sounds like there might be something really cool that I'm missing.

They're distinct with some overlap – really, they're more useful than cool.
The fact that Synths can use Ectos is simply that – synths have access to all the neat tricks that Ectos can do. Given that Cyberbrain Hacking is one of the prime weaknesses of Cyberbrains, being able to completely negate the possibility by using a manual ecto is a notable advantage.
Using access jacks is an expansion of the Drop Ecto concept, available to both Synths and Biomorphs with the Augment.
Using Jacks prevents hostiles from keeping the user from deactivating their wifi connection, or should they become disabled a teammate can pull the plug instead.

Combined they allow the user all the advantages of cyberbrains (and any loaded software) whilst remaining extremely secure against hostile intrusion.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Public key cryptography is

Public key cryptography is more complex and more process-intensive than just a shared secret. You may as well ask if cars are so great, why don't we use them to visit our next door neighbor?

When running games, I usually limit it to Quantum Cryptography, Everything Else (Properly Enacted), and Everything Else (Improperly Enacted). The limitation isn't usually processing power, but skill and quantum-tech.

However, when running it in Shadowrun, I broke it down more into:
- High-bandwidth, few-subscribers (rigger networks)
- High-bandwidth, many-subscribers (matrix hosts)
- Low-bandwidth, few-subscribers (private files and emails)
- Low-bandwidth, many-subscribers (specialty services like SIN checks)
(in addition to Rating)