The Artifact is a very cyberpunk inspired game. As such, there are hackers that can be played in the guise of Comm Officers. Opposing them is the Chezbah Priest with their ability to connect to any computer they want to.
Sadly, I followed a model of hackers that is realistic but a failed model for RPG play. In my defense, many games followed the model of the hacker acting at a different time than the rest of the players.
So that needs to change. The question is how? I have several ideas but I want a clear concept of what the actual mechanics of the computer infiltration is and how the game mechanics support the action. Some of them might work together.
The first method is a stored virus method. The Comm Officer equips themselves with software tools that only work on a specific system. For example, a Rall 4 and Hunter E-suits would be good bets. I could even justify the fact that the character has the viruses with the idea that they’re part of their standard kit, supplied by the military. The question is, if the characters have this kind of software, why not just infect all the vehicles they run into? It would come down to the ability to deliver the virus.
In that situation each virus has it’s own pre-defined target and action. Something like “Rall 4 target change” would work. It would require a lot of writing out what each virus does.
Another option is to allow the character to steal actions from a vehicle. It’s an interesting option but it doesn’t say how the character is performing the hack. I’m sure that a lot of players wouldn’t really care how this happens but it’s something I want to know because it can change how the players use the ability.
Then there’s the idea of giving them an even more powerful tool than they currently have. The idea being the long range communicators have some kind of data teleporter in them. They would have an ability similar to the Chezbah Priest’s. Maybe there would be a kind of targeting skill check to start with to make things interesting.
It might be a good approach to switch from a denial of access model to simply gaining access. I mention this in the Comm Officer’s Guide but it hasn’t collected any attention. Moving it front and center might be the better model with denial of access being the coup de gras.
I would be okay with the Comm Officer being able to disrupt the function of one or two combat vehicles. What I don’t want is for all the vehicles to be disrupted because of a few good rolls.
It comes down to the idea that hacking has to happen in combat turns. I’m a little uncomfortable with that because it’s not usually how hacking really happens. Realism is not on the player’s minds though. They want to all jump into action and pull off a plan. Making hacking follow a longer time frame requires planning and forethought which most players aren’t super excited about.