Redefining Hacking For 3rd Edition

Now that third edition is here, and I’m patiently (okay not so patiently) waiting for my proof copy. I’ve moved on to the Players Handbook . Most of the handbook will only need minor changes as far as the new rules are concerned, with one exception. The Comm Officer’s guide deals a lot with hacking computers.

The main change between versions is mainly the number of barrier points in a hacking challenge. This is simple to adjust in most situations except when it comes to virus stats. It breaks some of the calculations that are used to balance their effectiveness.

That’s okay though because as I liked the addition of viruses in 2nd edition, they didn’t quite model how a virus is used in the real world. I think I have a slightly better model now.

Social Engineering

One of the avenues of hacking that I never touched in 2nd edition was social engineering. This is where a hacker tricks the people that use a computer system to unknowingly reveal information about how they can breach the system. A slight change of the Social Conflict system is all that’s needed to make this type of hacking possible so look for it in the new Player’s Handbook.

Virus Rules

What does that have to do with the virus rules? It occurred to me that in a majority of cases the main method of intrusion with a virus is exploiting the user to allow the infection. This means that the virus is a pre-packaged social engineering attack. This means that the virus first tries to bluff the system user and if the user fails the bluff, the virus embeds and does it’s job.

My thought then is that a virus is programmed with a social engineering rating, basically how convincing it’s pre-packaged bluff is. Under the new rules that would take the form of a number of fractional successes that the defender has to roll better than.

The big trick at this point is making a system for a PC to make their own viruses. Since a virus can be used over and over, making a really effective virus is highly desirable. My hope is to make a virus generation system that makes it easy to create low level viruses but that really powerful viruses take extraordinarily long periods of time to create so that the PCs aren’t just spitting out killer viruses left and right.

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