By: Commander X
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [Digest 413]
Dated: Tue, 12 Sep 1995
Subject: Hackers in Traveller
And Now for something completely different....
What happened? The answer is simple really, you have just been assaulted by a hacker. The hacker using whatever programs and skills he has wiped out your account, and transferred all money to his account. The only fail-safe is the venerable Cred-Card which keeps a record of everything that should be there. Cred-Cards are nigh impossible to crack, so the hacker tries to go straight to the bank computer. What happens is that when you use your card, and the bank computer on the world has a discrepancy, then you are under question.
How does one defend oneself from these thieves of data. One way is to know how they work. (Know thy enemy....)
The 1st kind of Computer Felon is the HACKER. These are hot-shot computer techies who use portable computers and programs to crack into secure areas. In game terms, they are the norm. These are the same computer programmer/techies that are in the career lists in TNE. It's just that they have gone BAD. What happens to these guys when they meet Virus? Not much, except a possessed computer....;>
The 2nd type are the CYBERHACKERS also known as NETRUNNERS. These are the guys who plug a computer into their brain (Yeesh!) so that they are at one with the computer. (Oooh, Zen, deep!) This gives the hacker a +1 to initiative in Computer Combat and reduces all tasks by 1 level. What happens to these guys when the encounter Virus? Heh, heh, heh.
The 3rd type are the COMPUTER EMPATHICS. These are psions who use their talents to probe into a computer and read the data within. As they can only read data, any actual manipulation of that data must be done with a computer. Example, the psion scans the mainframe and finds the access code to unlock a file. she cannot unlock the file by just thinking about it, she must remember the code and type it in manually. (If I am misreading the rules for the Computer Emphatics, I apologise, but I think they can only read, not manipulate data. If they can manipulate data, then they would be REALLY powerful!) At stage 6 success, they outdo even the Cyberhackers for they get a -2 level difficulty adjustment for all tasks. What happens when these guys meet Virus? Well, they can sense it, and know it's there, but as Virus is not psionic (that we know of heh heh!) The psion will not suffer any psionic pains.
Just how do these guys operate? Well, first you need a computer - a hand computer or (lower tech) lap-top will do. Then you need some kind of link to the system you want to crack. At low techs this is a usually a phone line, possibly a radio-com carrier wave. At Pre-Stellar and Early Stellar cellular phones are common, as is a world-wide computer network (ie. Internet on late 20th and early 21st century Terra). At High Stellar tech levels, the meson-com is the top of the line communicator. High stellar meson internets are EXTREMELY fast and efficient. Don't have to wait for satellite bouncing time-lag for your down-loading!
That's about all you need to begin, of course the Cyberhackers need a neural interface jack. (Cr 800,000 if memory serves and they're ILLEGAL! especially in the Regency). Psions need only to do their psionic skill checks, and then the fun can begin.
I will leave the Role playing details to individual GM's, but if any of my fellow Traveller Addicts out there want it, I do have my own hacking rules that I use for my Campaign. They are a fusion of the old MT Computer rules(Remember those big control factor numbers?) and Cyberpunk 2020 by R. Talsorian Games Inc. (credit where credit is due!). If you want a copy, just e-mail me (email@example.com)
In Co-operation with Chris Griffen
COMMANDER X'S TALES FROM THE LINE
EFATE RICE PAPER
and now...number one...the Larch(ehem!)
and now....the signature...
>From the RQS Fortune and Glory.
KEEP THE FLAME!!!
Commander X out....<click>