This gear category focuses on high-tech devices that aren’t the province of another category (electronic security devices, for instance, fall into Security gear, while electronic super-science is strictly handled with Gadgets).
Every computer possesses a Power Rating, ranging from 0–10, representing its utility and versatility. In general, commercial civilian computers possess Power Ratings ranging from 1–4, while robust corporate networks possess Ratings of up to 7. Ratings of 8 and above are reserved for the highest-end supercomputers in existence, including those controlled by the Pentagon, CIA, extremely powerful corporations, and other global agencies. A computer’s Power Rating is never added to any skill check result; rather, it plays a role in many activities, including Hacking. A computer’s result cap modifier is applied to skill checks made using the machine (but not targeting it).
When a computer’s Power Rating drops to 0 or below, the machine becomes broken and must be repaired before it can be used again.
Most computers can run several programs at the same time. However, the combined Power Ratings of all software simultaneously running on any computer may not exceed the computer’s Power Rating × 2.
Each software pick may only run on 1 computer at a time. Activating or shutting down a program requires 1 half action.
A character may link any number of computers together to form a network. This requires a Complex Computers (Int) Task with a DC and number of Challenges based on the number of machines and their Power Ratings, as shown on Table: Networking Computers. This Task possesses the Concentration, Gear (Electronics Kit), Grasp, Hands-On, Project Investment (Medium), and Vision tags.
With success, any networked machine may perform any core command on itself or any other networked machine (see Core Commands). A networked machine may be disconnected from the network with 1 half action.
|Table: Networking Computers|
|Number of Machines|
|Highest Power Rating*|
|* Of any machine included in the network.|
Signals and Jamming
Many pieces of gear presented in this chapter transmit a signal. There are four types of signal — radar, radio, sonar, and thermal — and each signal possesses a range increment and a Power Rating ranging from 1 to 10. Many other pieces of gear presented in this chapter jam transmitted signals — these also possess a range increment and a Power Rating ranging from 1 to 10.
Without interference (see below), a radio signal is automatically picked up by any receiver tuned to the correct frequency, and any other kind of signal is picked up by a sensor of the same type, within 5 signal range increments. Beyond this range, up to 10 range increments, the signal is subject to degradation (see next).
When a signal is subject to degradation, it is only picked up by a character with the proper gear if he makes a successful Electronics (Int) check. This check possesses the Hearing and/or Vision tags, as appropriate, and its DC is based on the number of partial or full signal range increments between the signal’s point of origin and the character’s current location, as shown on Table: Signal Degradation.
|Table: Signal Degradation|
|6||30 – (2 × signal Power Rating)|
|7||35 – (2 × signal Power Rating)|
|8||40 – (2 × signal Power Rating)|
|9||50 – (2 × signal Power Rating)|
|10||60 – (2 × signal Power Rating)|
When a signal and jamming signal overlap anywhere between the signal’s point of origin and a receiver or sensor, the signal’s Power Rating decreases by an amount equal to the jamming signal’s Power Rating minus the number of jamming range increments from the jamming signal’s point of origin. If this decreases the signal’s Power Rating to 0 or below, the signal can’t be received.
Example: Kevin tries to pick up a signal with a Power Rating of 5 at 7 signal range increments. His DC would typically be 25 (35 – (2×5)). However, a jamming signal with a Power Rating of 4 intercepts the original signal at 2 range increments from the jammer’s location (i.e. the jamming signal’s point of origin). Kevin’s DC is 29 (35 – (2×3)).
Other circumstances may interfere with a signal as well, acting as a jamming signal as shown on Table: Other Types of Interference.
Electronic Pick Descriptions
Bomb Sniffer: This handheld device helps a character determine whether an explosive is present at a location. When a bomb sniffer is used, any Search/Perception check made to find an explosive loses the Vision tag and its result cap is modified as shown in the pick’s table entry.
Bugs: These items’ Power Ratings act as their Signal Power Ratings. Audio and video bugs with a Signal Power Rating of 4 or lower produce grainy transmissions, and video bugs with these Ratings transmit only in black and white. Tracer bugs simply transmit a locator signal, nothing more.
Bug Sweeper: This handheld device helps a character determine whether a location is bugged. When a bug sweeper is used, any Search/Perception check made to find bugs loses the Vision tag and its result cap is modified as shown in the pick’s table entry.
Cellular Interceptor: This item works like a wireless tap, except that it requires 10 minutes to set up and may only tap into a cell phone call as the call is being made. Further, the tap cannot be detected.
Computer Software: The character gains 1 piece of software.
- Anti-Virus: This software decreases the Power Rating of Virus software attacking the system by its own Power Rating (e.g. when a Virus program with a Power Rating of 6 attacks a system with Power Rating 3 Anti-Virus software, the Virus program’s Power Rating decreases to 3 before it harms the system).
- CAD/CAM: This program grants a +1 gear bonus with Science (Engineering) and Science (Fabrication) checks.
- Code Cracker: This program grants a +1 gear bonus with Analysis/Decipher and Science (Mathematics) checks.
- Cultures Database: This program grants a +1 gear bonus with Knowledge and Cultures checks about 1 focus region chosen when the software is requested.
- Image Processing: This program grants a +1 gear bonus with Analysis/Examine Media and Investigation/Detect Search checks.
- Information Database: This program grants a +1 gear bonus with Knowledge and Investigation/Research checks about 1 topic chosen when the software is requested.
- Probe: This software is used during a hack (see Hacking).
- Security: This program grants the computer a Security Power Rating equal to the software’s Power Rating.
- Trace: This software is used during a hack (see Hacking).
- Virus: This software attacks a computer, reducing its Power Rating by its own Power Rating (e.g. when a Virus program with a Power Rating of 6 attacks a system with a Power Rating of 8, the system’s Power Rating decreases to 2). Delivering a virus requires the ability to perform core commands with the target system. Removing a virus requires a number of hours equal to the Virus Software’s Power Rating and a successful Computers (Int) check (DC 5 × the Virus Software’s Power Rating). This check possesses the Hands-On tag. Virus software is Restricted.
Goggles: This item may be used with no hands when worn and comes with 1 upgrade chosen from the following: night vision (the goggles operate like a standalone night vision sight — see page 317), telescopic vision (the goggles operate like a standalone telescopic sight — see page 319), and thermal imaging (the goggles operate like a standalone thermal sight — see page 319). One set of goggles may contain all of these upgrades, though the second and third upgrade in each pair of goggles must be acquired separately.
GPS Units: These devices provide a character’s global position, altitude, speed, and direction of travel. Details are precise down to the item’s listed range (which is not an increment, but a fixed number).
Microphone, Laser: This device allows a character to target any 1 surface or object up to 1 in. thick with a Damage save bonus no greater than +6. So long as the character remains still and concentrates (see page 147), his hearing range is considered to be centered on the target (i.e. he hears things around the target as if he were at its location).
Radio: All radios operate per the standard signals and jamming rules (see page 276). When a radio is encrypted, its signal may only be translated with a successful Analysis/Decipher check (DC 5 × the radio’s Power Rating).
SATCOM Terminal: These paired relay stations transmit audio, video, and data globally, and are encrypted, requiring a successful Analysis/Decipher check (DC 40) to crack. Each terminal comes with a relay post that also acts as a transceiver for a character’s electronic gear. This transceiver has a 1-mile range increment.
Stress Analyzers: These items detect subtle changes in a character’s voice or pupil dilation when he’s lying. The voice model grants a +1 gear bonus with Sense Motive/Detect Lie checks, and the retina model grants a +3 gear bonus with these checks.
Taps: These items allow a character to listen in on a telephone landline. Both models must be physically connected to the line in order to work, but the wireless model does not need to remain in physical contact after installation. At the start of each minute during which a call occurs over a tapped line, each caller may make a Notice/Awareness check (DC 20 for a physical tap or DC 30 for a wireless tap). With success, they hear a telltale “clicking” in the background.
Tap Detectors: These devices attach to a phone and help a character to determine whether a phone is tapped. When a tap detector is installed, the DC to realize that a phone line is tapped decreases by 5.
TEMPEST Interceptor: This device may display the real-time screen content of any 1 computer within its range. Tuning into a machine requires a successful 1-minute Electronics (Int) check (DC 30). This check possesses the Concentration and Gear (TEMPEST Interceptor) tags. A TEMPEST Interceptor cannot target a EMP-hardened device or vehicle.