QUESTION: Does it break game balance to add a remote hacking feat?


Rules Questions


Hello,
I have a operative player with the Hacker specialization who asks why can't she ever gain a "remote hacking" ability similar to that of the mechanic, even if for the computer skill only.

Do you think it would be bad for game balance if I basically just added a feat for her to take that would let:
>> someone with 5 ranks in Computers hack remotely (only for use of hacking with the computers skill) at a distance of, say, 5 x Computers ranks, in feet?

Thank you :)


I think the fact that the operative (not just a hacker operative but any operative) is just better at hacking without that ability means the ability is too powerful for a feat.

Is it unbalanced in terms of overall game design? Probably

Is it unbalanced for your table? Only if you have a hacker mechanic in the group. Its giving away their one advantage.

There's also the divine blessing feat for Triune where you can touch something and hack it. Not as good as ranged, but better than the games default assumption of popping the lid and attaching some wires.


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I would absolutely not consider making a feat out of one of the mechanic's cool class features if there is any possibility of someone playing a mechanic.

I would consider that ability prbably too strong for a feat, but probably not in a way that would ruin the game if it isn't stepping on another player's toes.


Interesting, thank you both for your insight.


Hmm, how about on top of the aforementioned restrictions (only hacking, no engineering) I slap a "once a day" on the feat?

Would that make it better?


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

That would probably sit more reasonably into the power level expected from a feat, I think. I would probably still avoid it if there's a mechanic, though.


Honestly, those situations that matter? Don't usually come up more then once a day. I'd say no.

The Exchange

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With the understanding that Starfinder is not Pathfinder...

If you hunt around on the boards you can find advice from actual Paizo designers on what usually makes a good rules mechanic. Most of it is in the form of "Don't do this!" I think Sean K. Reynolds was probably the most prolific poster among the designers.

One of the many no-nos is "No item or feat should duplicate a class feature."

There are examples of Paizo breaking this rule in their own published material, of course. But the general idea is that class features are what makes classes unique. If you add a Remote Hack feat, why not a Trick Attack feat? Or a feat that gives anyone a single Envoy Improvisation.

That's not to say you can't do this in your game. If it is necessary in your game, absolutely do it. If it's not necessary but is desired, you can still add it but you probably want to make it more expensive. I'd probably do something like this

Remote Interface wrote:

Prerequisites: Computers 5 ranks, Amplified Glitch

Benefit: Once per day, you may attempt to hack into a computer wirelessly from a distance of up to 20 feet. You must use a computer with a Range I (or higher) upgrade module to attempt the hack. Interface protocols vary from device to device, so the time required to perform this hack is doubled. If the hack attempt is interrupted, it still counts as your use of this ability for the day. The hack attempt otherwise functions as a regular attempt.

Improved Remote Interface wrote:

Prerequisites: Computers 7 ranks, Amplified Glitch, Remote Interface

Benefit: You may use the Remote Interface feat up to three times per day and your range improves to 30 feet.


Frankly, tying this to a class so some extremely strange design space to spend... The fact that a Technomancer, an actual "magically good with computers" person, can't ever get access to wireless is odd.

I would suggest, however, that if a feat or similar option for this were added, the remote hacking features of the Mechanic definitely need to be replaced with something.


Belafon is wise. The remote hack is a mechanic "thing", and it would be a bad idea to allow this to be replicated. It's not just the mechanics - it ties to the mechanic's Custom Rig and that's a core thing in the class. I'm not saying it would totally destroy your game (especially if you don't have a mechanic in the party) but it's bad policy to me.


Wingblaze wrote:
Belafon is wise. The remote hack is a mechanic "thing", and it would be a bad idea to allow this to be replicated. It's not just the mechanics - it ties to the mechanic's Custom Rig and that's a core thing in the class. I'm not saying it would totally destroy your game (especially if you don't have a mechanic in the party) but it's bad policy to me.

Very much in the "make sure to adequately replace" category.


Belafon wrote:

With the understanding that Starfinder is not Pathfinder...

If you hunt around on the boards you can find advice from actual Paizo designers on what usually makes a good rules mechanic. Most of it is in the form of "Don't do this!" I think Sean K. Reynolds was probably the most prolific poster among the designers.

One of the many no-nos is "No item or feat should duplicate a class feature."

There are examples of Paizo breaking this rule in their own published material, of course. But the general idea is that class features are what makes classes unique. If you add a Remote Hack feat, why not a Trick Attack feat? Or a feat that gives anyone a single Envoy Improvisation.

That's not to say you can't do this in your game. If it is necessary in your game, absolutely do it. If it's not necessary but is desired, you can still add it but you probably want to make it more expensive. I'd probably do something like this

Remote Interface wrote:

Prerequisites: Computers 5 ranks, Amplified Glitch

Benefit: Once per day, you may attempt to hack into a computer wirelessly from a distance of up to 20 feet. You must use a computer with a Range I (or higher) upgrade module to attempt the hack. Interface protocols vary from device to device, so the time required to perform this hack is doubled. If the hack attempt is interrupted, it still counts as your use of this ability for the day. The hack attempt otherwise functions as a regular attempt.

Improved Remote Interface wrote:

Prerequisites: Computers 7 ranks, Amplified Glitch, Remote Interface

Benefit: You may use the Remote Interface feat up to three times per day and your range improves to 30 feet.

This is fantastic, thank you, exactly what I was looking for. I will be happy to add your two feats to my game.

I understand the general principle but I just happen to think that wireless hack is a ludicrously basic thing in a futuristic game and should not be locked behind a class to begin with. Still, that version of the feat does not touch the remote ENGINEERING capability of the Mechanic which is a completely different concept and well warranted to be a class-only feature, in my opinion.

Cheers!


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Just a thought, I don't think I would have my secure computers systems on a wireless network.

If it is on a wireless network anyone can hack remotely.

If it's not, the mechanic is the only one that has some sort of crazy gizmo that can detect and alter electrons in a computer system at range.


Garretmander wrote:

Just a thought, I don't think I would have my secure computers systems on a wireless network.

If it is on a wireless network anyone can hack remotely.

If it's not, the mechanic is the only one that has some sort of crazy gizmo that can detect and alter electrons in a computer system at range.

It remains extremely strange that, say, a technomancer can't.

It's never not going to be weird for this design space to be spent on a class.


Technomancers, with access to invisibility and illusion, might have found remote hacking methods too limited and unnecessary to invest in.


There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.


Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

Need to find something sufficient to replace it with to do a homebrew system...


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Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

For computers that are networked to the infosphere or a network that you otherwise have access to, you can hack them from across the globe without requiring any special abilities. You can hack Abadarcorps's Tier 10 customer service computer handling it's space-Amazon.com business from the comfort of your home, for example. The Stewards' strategic war plans computer in the Bastion, however, requires a hard contact or a Mechanic using remote hack from nearby.


Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.


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Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.

Ok, you're once again just not familiar with the basic rules here.

Skills, Computers wrote:
If you don’t have physical access to a computer system’s user interface, you must use a hacking kit to access and manipulate the system.
Equipment, Computers, User Interface wrote:

A computer’s control module is the input device and display designed to allow you to enter commands into and receive data from the computer. In the Pact Worlds, most user interfaces include a keyboard, view screen, microphone, and speakers, to

allow typed, spoken, or gesture-based commands to be given to the computer and to deliver graphic or audio data from the computer. These kinds of user interfaces come free with any system, and a computer can have as many as ten user interfaces per point of bulk the computer has (though normally only public systems or computers used by large companies do this).

It is also possible for a user interface to exist only as a broadcast device (such as a comm unit), or even to have another smaller computer act as a user interface (using a control module). You can set a computer to use this kind of user interface for free when you buy it, though you must pay for the additional device separately, or you can install (or remove) user interfaces using the disable or manipulate module task of the Computers skill to alter a user interface. Such additional user interfaces do not count against the total modules a computer can have.

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.

Wireless is a thing - if you choose for your computer to have it, by purchasing and installing a com unit to provide it. Similarly, you can link your computer to the infosphere, in which case your computer can be hacked by anyone who uses a comlink to connect to your com link or the infosphere. This is no doubt ubiquitous for commercial systems and personal systems that you don't mind being hacked at will by bored hackers searching for low tier computers hooked up to the infosphere or broadcasting via a com link.

But if it's a secure computer you won't hook it up to the infosphere and you won't install a com link to provide wireless user access. In those cases the only options are physical contact via a standard user interface, a hacking kit, or a mechanic who can somehow manipulate computers at a distance that deliberately lack wireless capabilities.


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Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.

Secure computers - the kind that handle airlock safety overrides, the antipersonnel gun turret targeting, access into the enviromental controls for an entire space station - are not going to be on the wifi.

To expect otherwise would be to expect the engineers in the setting to be stupid.

Wireless is a thing in setting. Any player with ranks in computers should expect to remote hack anything on the wireless networks.

No player should expect to hack something not on the wireless networks remotely unless they're a mechanic with the class feature.

Sure, the quasi-magical BS a mechanic does to hack those systems remotely fits the theme of a technomancer better, but that's probably just a casualty of not wanting too much overlap between class abilities.


Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.

Ok, you're once again just not familiar with the basic rules here.

No, you're not sufficiently familiar with the concepts we're discussing.


Garretmander wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.

Secure computers - the kind that handle airlock safety overrides, the antipersonnel gun turret targeting, access into the enviromental controls for an entire space station - are not going to be on the wifi.

To expect otherwise would be to expect the engineers in the setting to be stupid.

Wireless is a thing in setting. Any player with ranks in computers should expect to remote hack anything on the wireless networks.

No player should expect to hack something not on the wireless networks remotely unless they're a mechanic with the class feature.

You have no idea how much this post is reminding me of Shadowrun conversations.

The short version, though: That's one of those things that only lines up if you're specifically trying to make it line up and ignoring how people actually behave in reality.


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Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.

Ok, you're once again just not familiar with the basic rules here.
No, you're not sufficiently familiar with the concepts we're discussing.

I don't want you to be feel embarrassed like this, it's ok to be wrong, although perhaps not to be so confident when pronouncing error. I do want you to do more research to both save your feelings and my time so I don't have to correct the misinformation you periodically post.

To recap:

Nerdy Canuck wrote:


People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.

As I showed with the rules citation, wireless is a thing in Starfinder. And air-gapping is indeed the relevant term, because that is what the Mechanic's wireless hack actually overcomes - it has nothing to do with hacking wireless networks, which anyone with Computers skill and a comlink can do.


Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:

There's also a chance that Technomancer will get a spell (not sure appropriate level) that would allow Technomancers to remote hack. Spending a spell slot to emulate the mechanic ability feels like it could be appropriate.

But I don't think Operatives should have access to it, or generally speaking anyone else.

I don't think something people would reasonably expect to be part of how the world works should ever have been locked behind a class feature in the first place.

No one would reasonably expect people to be able to hack air-gapped computers, which is what remote hack does.

People would reasonably expect wireless to be a thing, because it is in the world they're bringing their assumptions in from - Starfinder shouldn't appear to be less advanced.

And air-gapping isn't the relevant term here at all - the issue here is the existence of wireless networks, not how to handle machines that are isolated from networks.

Ok, you're once again just not familiar with the basic rules here.
No, you're not sufficiently familiar with the concepts we're discussing.

I don't want you to be feel embarrassed like this, it's ok to be wrong, although perhaps not to be so confident when pronouncing error. I do want you to do more research to both save your feelings and my time so I don't have to correct the misinformation you periodically post.

Anyway, I trust you understand the rules excerpt I provided better than you're willing to publicly admit, and certainly anyone else reading who would have been led astray by your initial comments can see why they were wrong. Mission accomplished, carry on.

So, real quick, how do you eavesdrop on a comm device? It's a wireless signal, you should be able to intercept it. But, per the rules, you can't. What range can you use hacker's tools to get into a wireless network which is not connected to external networks? The rules excerpt you provided hints at rules which do not exist, and it appears you don't realize the complexity of the system required.


Nerdy Canuck wrote:

[

So, real quick, how do you eavesdrop on a comm device? It's a wireless signal, you should be able to intercept it. But, per the rules, you can't. What range can you use hacker's tools to get into a wireless network which is not connected to external networks? The rules excerpt you provided hints at rules which do not exist, and it appears you don't realize the complexity of the system required.

This gap in the rules is entirely orthogonal to your initial misunderstanding of what the Mechanic's wireless hack does. It's not news to most of us that the Starfinder hacking rules are quite bare bones.

Ask your GM or start a threat to solicit ideas.


Xenocrat wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:

[

So, real quick, how do you eavesdrop on a comm device? It's a wireless signal, you should be able to intercept it. But, per the rules, you can't. What range can you use hacker's tools to get into a wireless network which is not connected to external networks? The rules excerpt you provided hints at rules which do not exist, and it appears you don't realize the complexity of the system required.

This gap in the rules is entirely orthogonal to your initial misunderstanding of what the Mechanic's wireless hack does. It's not news to most of us that the Starfinder hacking rules are quite bare bones.

Ask your GM or start a threat to solicit ideas.

It's not "bare bones"; it literally lacks systems entirely. There's a reason why other games dedicate an entire chapter to the subject.


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Nerdy Canuck, the point Xenocrat is making is that the rules explicitly allow you to hack anything connected to the infospehre or equivalent "wifi network".

However what Remote Hack allows you to do that you can't otherwise do with a comm unit and hacking kit is to hack computers/units/terminals that are not on the infosphere or "wifi network". Of which there should be lots of important terminals that cannot be accessed from wifi. Environmental controls are a example of such a thing. In fact, probably most things that PCs would really love to hack, are probably air gapped, which if you choose to look at the link will explain why what Xenocrat is talking about is the correct term. It means "not connected to outside networks".


Claxon wrote:
Nerdy Canuck, the point Xenocrat is making is that the rules explicitly allow you to hack anything connected to the infospehre or equivalent "wifi network".

And how does hacking into a wireless network operate, exactly? There aren't actually rules for it.


Having a hacking kit and comm unit lets you hack any comm unit connected computer (or comm unit, they are tier 0 computers after all) the same as physical access does.


Garretmander wrote:
Having a hacking kit and comm unit lets you hack any comm unit connected computer (or comm unit, they are tier 0 computers after all) the same as physical access does.

Within what range? If the connected comm unit has an Unlimited range, does that mean there's a risk of hacking from anywhere in the galaxy? Or do you need a Unlimited comm yourself to pull that off?

You can come up with off-the-cuff rulings or homebrew something, but there are no rules covering any of this.


Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Having a hacking kit and comm unit lets you hack any comm unit connected computer (or comm unit, they are tier 0 computers after all) the same as physical access does.

Within what range? If the connected comm unit has an Unlimited range, does that mean there's a risk of hacking from anywhere in the galaxy? Or do you need a Unlimited comm yourself to pull that off?

You can come up with off-the-cuff rulings or homebrew something, but there are no rules covering any of this.

If you can call them, you can hack them, and if they can call you, they can hack you.


Garretmander wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Having a hacking kit and comm unit lets you hack any comm unit connected computer (or comm unit, they are tier 0 computers after all) the same as physical access does.

Within what range? If the connected comm unit has an Unlimited range, does that mean there's a risk of hacking from anywhere in the galaxy? Or do you need a Unlimited comm yourself to pull that off?

You can come up with off-the-cuff rulings or homebrew something, but there are no rules covering any of this.

If you can call them, you can hack them, and if they can call you, they can hack you.

Which is a ruling (with some pretty huge knock-on effects; something like a mutual signal range rule would generally be better, but Starfinder's massively simplified rules on signal range would still lead to some pretty... Interesting consequences). There isn't actually a rule. And without an actual system, every ruling you could bring in has huge consequences.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Nerdy Canuck, the point Xenocrat is making is that the rules explicitly allow you to hack anything connected to the infospehre or equivalent "wifi network".
And how does hacking into a wireless network operate, exactly? There aren't actually rules for it.

They work by that rule most hated on this board:

"Ask your GM, it is dependent on the scenario and the setting".


Metaphysician wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Nerdy Canuck, the point Xenocrat is making is that the rules explicitly allow you to hack anything connected to the infospehre or equivalent "wifi network".
And how does hacking into a wireless network operate, exactly? There aren't actually rules for it.

They work by that rule most hated on this board:

"Ask your GM, it is dependent on the scenario and the setting".

This is, frankly, not a system that can function by that.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hmmm?

Hacking a computer that's connected by a wireless connection to a world's Infosphere has DC's. They are the same as when you are physically present at that computer.

Hacking a computer that's not connected to the Infosphere requires physical presence, or the mechanic's trick.

You don't hack networks, you hack computers in that network.


Damanta wrote:

Hmmm?

Hacking a computer that's connected by a wireless connection to a world's Infosphere has DC's. They are the same as when you are physically present at that computer.

Hacking a computer that's not connected to the Infosphere requires physical presence, or the mechanic's trick.

You don't hack networks, you hack computers in that network.

And when there is a wireless network without connection to the infosphere, or any other sort of wireless connection available (see: comm units attached)? AKA, what I'm being told is defined as an available wireless network? The rules provide nothing about hacking those computers in terms of things like range or other conditions for being able to make that happen. The actual rules line is "infosphere or similar network", so, how does one gain access to the "similar network"?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

By having a computer connect to it? Just like you'd do currently by having some kind of user identity and password?

Use your hacking kit to sniff out the networkname and then start making computer checks to see if you can beat the computer that controls the security?

Or set up some kind of heist to get access to a device that's already connected?


If it's a wifi like network then it's a question "can you connect to the network?" If you can you can try to hack another computer on that network. If you have an unlimited distance comm, congrats! You can try to hack any computer that connects to a "wifi" network.

"Secure" networks will not have any equipment to broadcast signal and will only use physical connections. Which would mean gaining physical access to the equipment to hack it.

The Exchange

To throw in a little bit of the real world (cringe):

“Electronic” door locks exist in several varieties. Which variety you install depends on exactly what you want the lock to do.

1. Number Keypads - put in the correct combination and the door unlocks. Relatively cheap for a door with many users. Downsides: No control over spread of access (anyone can share the code). If you wish to exclude someone you must change the combination and inform all authorized users of the new code.

2. RFID card readers - each user has a card, and a central server contains information on which doors that card is authorized to access. Scan and the door will unlock (or not) based on permission. Users/cards can be revoked by removing permissions from server. Downsides: expensive, in most systems administrator must be present to add to access privileges.

3. Wireless remote entry - Authorized user can unlock with phone app, and when a visitor requests entry an authorized user can grant entry from a remote device on the network (or anywhere on the internet if so connected). Downsides: authorization schemes vary wildly by lock manufacturer, security risks.

Number 3 is vulnerable to remote hacking. Number 2 can be implemented wirelessly, but is usually hard-wired to remove that potential vulnerability. Number 1 cannot be opened without physical access.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Spends weeks trying to wrap head around computer and hacking rules.

Reads thread in which people refer to computer and hacking rules as bare bones simple.

Dies a little inside.


Ravingdork wrote:

Spends weeks trying to wrap head around computer and hacking rules.

Reads thread in which people refer to computer and hacking rules as bare bones simple.

Dies a little inside.

That may actually be your problem with them

Sovereign Court

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I think the key thing is to see that the "Wireless Hack" ability is not the same as "hacking over a wireless network".

Anyone can try hacking over a wireless (or wired) network. If the target computer and you are connected, you can try to hack. The network can be as simple as your commlink and theirs, or many intermediary routers in an infosphere.

Mechanics can wirelessly hack a computer that doesn't even have any kind of modem/wifi/bluetooth hardware at all.

Unlimited commlinks (and interplanetary ones) are a bit of a special case, because messages take hours or days to travel through the network of Drift beacons. Would definitely make hacking go very slowly or be close to impossible (by the time you send your next probe, they've done a routine password change). Realtime hacking would be limited to planetary scales (source: p. 430).


Ascalaphus wrote:

I think the key thing is to see that the "Wireless Hack" ability is not the same as "hacking over a wireless network".

Anyone can try hacking over a wireless (or wired) network. If the target computer and you are connected, you can try to hack. The network can be as simple as your commlink and theirs, or many intermediary routers in an infosphere.

Mechanics can wirelessly hack a computer that doesn't even have any kind of modem/wifi/bluetooth hardware at all.

Unlimited commlinks (and interplanetary ones) are a bit of a special case, because messages take hours or days to travel through the network of Drift beacons. Would definitely make hacking go very slowly or be close to impossible (by the time you send your next probe, they've done a routine password change). Realtime hacking would be limited to planetary scales (source: p. 430).

Wireless hack ability is the equivalent to the real life topic of Air-Gap Malware. The basic premise is, "Hey I want to hack this system! But darn-it the people who set it up were kinda smart and secured it so that the system doesn't broadcast any traditional wireless connection types". So over the years people have developed several different methods of accessing those computers, even when they don't have direct physical connections (though it still requires proximity). Some examples include: Using the microphone and speakers of a computer and exploiting flaws in programming to communicate with the computer. Another example includes altering the the performance of on-board hardware to temporarily produce RF or cellular frequencies for communication with the computer, though this typically requires some sort of other previous infiltration on the machine.

Sovereign Court

Yeah pretty much. Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon novel has a big spiel about a covert anti-airgap way of watching along on someone's screen using (theoretical) 90s technology.


Ravingdork wrote:

Spends weeks trying to wrap head around computer and hacking rules.

Reads thread in which people refer to computer and hacking rules as bare bones simple.

Dies a little inside.

There was a time when I was a walking encyclopedia of the 4th edition Shadowrun Matrix rules. Believe me when I say that, comparatively, there is precious little by way of actual rules for computers/hacking in Starfinder.

Sovereign Court

Nerdy Canuck wrote:
There was a time when I was a walking encyclopedia of the 4th edition Shadowrun Matrix rules. Believe me when I say that, comparatively, there is precious little by way of actual rules for computers/hacking in Starfinder.

That said, the SR4 hacking rules were widely criticized for both complexity, questionable balance, and above all for being a giant time-sucking minigame for one player.


Ascalaphus wrote:
Nerdy Canuck wrote:
There was a time when I was a walking encyclopedia of the 4th edition Shadowrun Matrix rules. Believe me when I say that, comparatively, there is precious little by way of actual rules for computers/hacking in Starfinder.
That said, the SR4 hacking rules were widely criticized for both complexity, questionable balance, and above all for being a giant time-sucking minigame for one player.

Every edition has had that problem - and most of the "balance" problems people had came from not understanding the rules, frankly.

But yes, they were complex. The Matrix chapter of the core book was large enough to be a book in its own right, and then there was the supplement on top of that. So effectively two entire books.

But when this technology is part of how your world works, you can only simplify so far before problems happen.

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