The Computers skill is used to access computer systems — after which they may be used to achieve many incredible effects — and to upgrade computers. This skill is common to hackers and electronic c investigators, and to a lesser degree most anyone living in the modern age.
Combat Actions: None.
Dramatic Conflict: Hacking
Sample Knowledge: Important dates, events, and figures in computer and Internet history; general Internet facts (how domain names work, HTTP protocols, helpful sites, etc.); information about various computer architectures, operating systems, and programming languages; computer component specs, information about large manufacturers of computer parts; software data (including current and landmark viruses); hacker culture; computer gaming information.
Accessing a System: When a user or security software protects a system, the hacking rules are always used; otherwise, the rules for accessing a system are found under Core Commands.
Computer Searches: Searching a computer for information is not handled with the Computers skill, but rather with an Investigation/Research check. However, searching a computer’s files, or searching the Internet through a computer, requires you to have access, which is a facet of the Computers skill, and part of a hacking Dramatic Conflict. This makes most common “break in and steal the files off the machine” missions at least a 3-skill check procedure (and given the Dramatic Conflict rules, often more).
Building, Repairing, and Sabotaging Computers: All of these activities are covered by the Electronics skill.
(Int; Active; Gear Only (Electronics Kit), Hands-On, Project Investment (Low))
Time Varies (Take 10/Take 20 with permission) • Base Error Range 1
This skill check is used to boost a computer past its standard processing limit.
The item’s complexity determines this check’s time requirement and cost, as shown on Table: Project Investments.
Each Optimize check has a base DC of 15 + (the computer’s original Power Rating × 3). With success, the computer’s Power Rating is boosted by +1 (maximum 10). This boost lasts until the computer is powered down, until you restore the system’s standard processing level, or until the end of the current scene (whichever comes first). However, following each check made using the optimized Power Rating, the computer must make a Damage save with a DC of 15 + (the computer’s original Power Rating × 3). If your check result exceeds the DC by 10 or more, you may apply one of the following two benefits.
- After the computer succeeds with 1 Damage save forced by use at the optimized Power Rating, it need no longer make Damage saves for the same reason until the end of the current scene.
- The computer’s Power Rating is boosted by an additional +1 for the same time period (maximum 10).
You may not apply both of these bonuses without a critical success.
Cooperative: Yes (maximum 1 helper).
Synergy Skills: Electronics, Science (Programming), Science (Super-Science).
Retry: Yes, though a computer may only benefit from one Optimize check at any time. If you make a second check to boost the same computer’s Power Rating when a previous boost is still active, the new check’s outcome replaces that of the previous one — even if it’s worse.
Threat: If your check result exceeds the DC by up to 9, you gain 1 benefit listed for exceeding the DC by 10 or more; otherwise, the time required is reduced to 1/2 standard (rounded down, minimum 1 half action).
Critical Success: You gain both benefits listed for exceeding the DC by 10 or more.
Error: The computer must immediately make a Damage save (DC 15 + (the computer’s original Power Rating × 3)).
Critical Failure: The computer suffers a system failure that reduces its Power Rating by 2 (minimum 0). Though it can still be used, the computer is considered broken. If the computer is repaired with the Electronics/Repair skill, its full Power Rating is restored.