Paizo Top Nav Branding
  • Hello, Guest! |
  • Sign In |
  • My Account |
  • Shopping Cart |
  • Help/FAQ
About Paizo Messageboards News Paizo Blog Help/FAQ
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game

Starfinder


Pathfinder Society


Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

Has anybody run into the computer section issues?


Rules Questions


Computers are not tied into skill checks in any way that I can find. That means when you are hacking, a hacking kit is all you need. Sounds great, right? Except for the fact that you need to physically be next to (and directly interfacing with) a computer to hack it...outside of the ability that a mechanic can get with their custom rig to wirelessly hack. And that sounds fine, in theory, I guess? The problem I have is that this gives no way for other hacking type classes to do the classic "I'll hack the security on-site, or from the van, or from home, etc." trope. Additionally, it strips gear entirely out of the equation, meaning that a hacker is defined exclusively by their skills, rather than by a combination of skills and gear. And I think I can make myself okay with that mentality. It is weird though that you need only use a hacking kit, and not another computer, when hacking into another system. But it means that players need to be aware that hacking (outside of the purview of the mechanic) is done entirely through daisy-chaining hacked systems together (to get access from outside a location), or entirely on-site using an existing system that you physically access. And all of this comes back to just using a hacking kit, a 20 credit piece of gear that will forever be as effective as your skills are. You need never spend credits on a computer at all, or work to upgrade it, which seems...odd.

Control and memory modules are a bit messy and confusing. Apparently, you buy memory modules...for a specific topic or range of topics only? It's not storage space, but some sort of onboard encyclopedia. And control modules need to be purchased for each specific piece of gear you want to connect to. So, if you're a tech type, and you want to hack an enemy system, you just need the hacking kit. But if you want to have a computer you can carry around, you'll need to buy at least a tier 1 computer, with 1 level of miniaturization and likely a Range II upgrade if you want any kind of distance (unless you want to find a table to set your computer on every time you want to use it), then buy a separate control module for your video camera, your detonator, your spy drone, your laser microphone, and your motion detector. That is five separate control modules, then another memory module as appropriate, I guess? But unless you are worried about someone hacking back into your computer, you'll never need to upgrade its tier, as that is the way a base DC is determined to hack a system.


I have just been building an operative hacker and come to the same conclusion. I buy a 20cr hackint tool kit and what does buying a computer give me?? Still researching and at the moment I can see no mechanical reason to buy the computer


There is this line in the computers section that says

User Interface wrote:


You can use a hacking kit to access a computer without using a user interface, but this requires you to have physical contact with the computer or to make contact through an infosphere or similar network that is linked to the computers
Emphasis mine

I take that to mean if you have a computer you control that has an infoshepere connection, your can hack a computer using your hacking kit. Though it doesn't seem to give you any advantage over a simple personal comm unit.

Either way the computers section needs some attention and clarification


baggageboy wrote:

There is this line in the computers section that says

User Interface wrote:


You can use a hacking kit to access a computer without using a user interface, but this requires you to have physical contact with the computer or to make contact through an infosphere or similar network that is linked to the computers
Emphasis mine

I take that to mean if you have a computer you control that has an infoshepere connection, your can hack a computer using your hacking kit. Though it doesn't seem to give you any advantage over a simple personal comm unit.

Either way the computers section needs some attention and clarification

I read it as if the targeted computer is hooked up to the infosphere you can remotely hack it, just like one connected to the internet. You'd expect this for low security or customer facing systems. (I'd also expect these to be very high tier for a big company and protected by Security Seal and Logic Bomb spells to dissuade amateurs.)

But for important or secure systems they'll be isolated or on a wired intranet (but maybe cheaper and lower tier) so you have to physically interface (or get within range if you're a Mechanic).


I agree, I'm with your interpretation, but in order you connect to the target computer you need an infosphere connection. Hence the need for a computer. The sad part is that a comm unit will provide a connection and you don't need anything better :/

So far the only thing I've found in the computers section that would entice a person to use a higher tier computer (aside from security) is the artificial personality as its abilities scale based on tier.


Yeah, what's the cost of a computer that can auto succeed on a Computer skill Aid Another? Bring a few.


I don't know. The artificial personality only calls out the social skills as something the computer can do, so I don't know if any computer can attempt a computers skill check...


I could see it getting pretty entertaining though,

Jarvis martial my army of computers to help hack Abadacor station!

Distributed computing at its finest!


It looks like a Tier 4 computer with a control module controlling some piece of equipment able to conduct Computer checks would have a +10 Computers bonus and could guarantee you a +2 bonus if you could minitiarize it and the controlled interface enough.


baggageboy wrote:

There is this line in the computers section that says

User Interface wrote:


You can use a hacking kit to access a computer without using a user interface, but this requires you to have physical contact with the computer or to make contact through an infosphere or similar network that is linked to the computers
Emphasis mine

I take that to mean if you have a computer you control that has an infoshepere connection, your can hack a computer using your hacking kit. Though it doesn't seem to give you any advantage over a simple personal comm unit.

Either way the computers section needs some attention and clarification

Thanks. Thematically I know as a hacker I should have a computer, this gives me a good mechanical justification for why

Agreed the computer/hacking sections are really weak and need a LOT of work.... Another book I suppose


Storage Module - Think of this as anywhere between a SD card and a hard drive with built in security and search functions.When purchased by a player they will typically be empty. Alternately they may come with or be additional purchase for other equipment. Thus could range from operation/ maintenance manuals for a laser rifle to full designs data on a starship. When encountered in a hacked system it might include anything from routine emails, an index to the 10,000 other storage modules or top secret plans for a moon sized battle station.

Hacking Toolkit - a small special purpose computer, data cables, short range wireless comms and inductive taps. The computer portion is basically a interface device, security features and a small program storage. As purchased they come with very basic intrusion and decryption programs but most users customize these as they gain in skill.Their low cost makes them disposable in case infected by feedback countermeasures. At GM's option a hacking toolkit may be unusable by anyone without authorized access, may contain multiple sets of personalized programs or even provide a bonus if you can gain access. Lets say you acquire a toolkit from someone with more tanks in computers. If you access the system by making an opposed roll vs the owner you can use the toolkit for a short period of time. Since the programs are personalized you would not be able to use their full skill ranks but may gain a bonus based on the difference in ranks. A bonus of +1 per 4 ranks the owners exceeds yours would be balanced. Additional hacking successes may allow you permanent access or even to copy programs to another device. Note: record skill ranks as the bonus will decrease as character skill goes up.

Computer - yes you probably need one. Notice the hacking toolkit says you can use it to access another computer, you can even perform certain functions like access or manipulate storage modules. If you want to copy or upload files you need a computer connected to the hacking toolkit and enough storage for the files.Having a higher Mk # computer may allow you to manipulate data faster, while one character hacks another is forging documents or financial data to replace the original files.


While these are nice notions there's very little to support most of this in the rules currently. So it becomes a home brew solution...


I have an interesting scenario
Technomancers can build a simple handheld computer as a cache. I built my computer as such. Wrist mounted (minitiarization). With an ai interface usng Voice control. I want to have a holographic display similar to the iconic technomancer. The AI personality is a bit snarky. Picture Jarvis meets Bob from Dresden files. The holographic can only produce either Bob's head when talking to him or display information and some interactivity using gestures.

The computer would also have a comm unit to allow it to access infospheres and two way communication.


I created pretty much the exact same thing in my game lol


baggageboy wrote:
While these are nice notions there's very little to support most of this in the rules currently. So it becomes a home brew solution...

All but the GM option part in hacking kit is well supported but most of it is flavor text.


I suppose you are right. I'm just venting my own disappoinment in there not being more of game mechanics support for the kind of idea you are proposing. I didn't mean to say it was bad, just that I wish the rules were better.


I think the rules Mechanics are fine, it's the fluff that is lacking. I think something like my description of the toolkit explains why the mechanics work. Well except for how you can walk up to a terminal with naked and hack into it. Maybe everybody has an implanted thumb drive.

As somebody else pointed out they mention an item with "storage equal to a L0 data pad". Nice reference to something that does not appear in the rules.

The Exchange

The computer section may well be included as a DM tool moreso than a PC tool (see what I did there?)

All of those mechanics are there to enable you to put decent stuff into your ship or vehicle so it doesn't get hacked and stolen.

But it's also,there as mechanics for the DM to use in designing encounters and space station security and elaborate AI traps etc etc etc.

The book is not just about player options.

However, the biggest thing owning a computer will do for you is enable you to wirelessly connect to a system and use the hacking kit to do your thing. That way you don't have to expose yourself to detection by finding a terminal that's available to anybody.

It also means if you get a data jack upgrade into your own head, you know you'll have a machine that's capable of using it. Now you can do the hacking, using your own machine, plugged directly into your brain so your hands are free to do other things (like stroking your evil moustache while laughing maniacally ).

Additionally, while you're hacking using your own computer, you can have enough safety stuff in it that if you're detected, it's really hard for them to hack you back and track down where you are.


Biggest probably I've had about computers is different GMs disagreeing on what exactly they can do.

Some games, computer-skilled characters have fun. Other games they can't do anything because the GM won't let anything but the system's central computer control things (and that central computer is in the depths of the building, and by the time you get to it, all the encounters are done and there's little point left in hacking it). Or the GM worked in security and has all computers lock out unauthorized users so quickly that they can't use their actions to counter that countermeasure, because "That's how the basic computer security at my work works".

Hacking strikes me as similar to the paladin code, really. Discuss it with your GM before you play.


I know my group ran into a problem like this. One guy wanted to hack into the system to turn the lights off, but we were told that everything is controlled by a giant supercomputer that runs the entire a station and if we turned off the lights we'd kill life support as well, pluses have station security come down on us. All because we wanted to turn off the lights...

Paizo / Messageboards / Paizo / Starfinder® / Rules Questions / Has anybody run into the computer section issues? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.

©2002-2017 Paizo Inc.® | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Need help? Email customer.service@paizo.com or call 425-250-0800 during our business hours, Monday through Friday, 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Pacific time.

Paizo Inc., Paizo, the Paizo golem logo, Pathfinder, the Pathfinder logo, Pathfinder Society, Starfinder, the Starfinder logo, GameMastery, and Planet Stories are registered trademarks of Paizo Inc. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Pathfinder Player Companion, Pathfinder Modules, Pathfinder Tales, Pathfinder Battles, Pathfinder Legends, Pathfinder Online, Starfinder Adventure Path, PaizoCon, RPG Superstar, The Golem's Got It, Titanic Games, the Titanic logo, and the Planet Stories planet logo are trademarks of Paizo Inc. Dungeons & Dragons, Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron are registered trademarks of Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc., and have been used by Paizo Inc. under license. Most product names are trademarks owned or used under license by the companies that publish those products; use of such names without mention of trademark status should not be construed as a challenge to such status.