Remote Hack


Rules Questions


So, simply as a matter of logic, I don't understand why being able to hack something wirelessly is a major power that you have to wait till 5th level to get. It's a sci-fi world.

From a rules perspective... the Operative with Hacker Specialty gets a bonus when using their Computers skill to cause a distraction on a Trick Attack. This in itself implies that they can hack something remotely.

So I play with the following minor progression adjustment...

Mechanic:
1st Level: Your custom rig can hack remotely
-- starting at 20' (range increases at 5th, etc)
5th Level: Control Hack - same as the Operative/Hacker 11th level ability

An Operative/Hacker would have to purchase a signal booster for their range to increase. And they cannot hack AIs like a Mechanic can.

Curious if anyone has thoughts on this.

Scarab Sages

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I'd be inclined against giving the operative the ability earlier as from what I've seen (I tend towards casters myself) they already outshine the mechanic in their own field.

I admit I'm not sure though why you need to be 5th level to hack into something from a distance.


Senko wrote:

... they already outshine the mechanic in their own field.

I've noticed this, too, not just with Mechanics. A friend of mine wanted to be an Ace Pilot soldier, but the Operative always had a higher piloting skill. It's like you have to buff other classes with regard to their specialty skills so they just don't all make Operatives.


Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

For me, I don't see why remote hacking is tied into a class feature - surely if wireless hacking is a thing in-setting, anyone should be able to pick up the tech that allows it. Especially because the amplified glitch feat is a thing!


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I'm pretty sure anyone and everyone can remote hack.

As long as the device in question is on the wireless network.

The remote hack lets them remotely hack a computer not on the network, or indeed connected to anything.

They can hack a non networked computer that doesn't have a terminal/keyboard/mouse/etc that everyone else needs to hack into with.

It's still a niche ability, but that's what is special about remote hack.

Shadow Lodge

Remote Hack is an annoyance that GMs have to constantly be squashing lest it derail the printed scenarios. Very rarely do the authors consider it.


This really should be in homebrew.


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thistledown wrote:
Remote Hack is an annoyance that GMs have to constantly be squashing lest it derail the printed scenarios. Very rarely do the authors consider it.

.... Why? Its the one thing the mechanics have in their mechanics that let them mechanic better than the operative can mechanic. Let them break the tech, that's their narrative purpose.

Shadow Lodge

BigNorseWolf wrote:
thistledown wrote:
Remote Hack is an annoyance that GMs have to constantly be squashing lest it derail the printed scenarios. Very rarely do the authors consider it.
.... Why? Its the one thing the mechanics have in their mechanics that let them mechanic better than the operative can mechanic. Let them break the tech, that's their narrative purpose.

Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.


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thistledown wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
thistledown wrote:
Remote Hack is an annoyance that GMs have to constantly be squashing lest it derail the printed scenarios. Very rarely do the authors consider it.
.... Why? Its the one thing the mechanics have in their mechanics that let them mechanic better than the operative can mechanic. Let them break the tech, that's their narrative purpose.

Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

I don't really see the problem with a class feature having an actual use that is of benefit to the party.

And, honestly, half the examples you gave shouldn't work with remote hack, because... well, how does the mechanic know that there is a computer on the other side of the wall or that the big bad has a datapad in his left pocket?

The mechanic should be aware of their target's existence before they can hack it. I'm also pretty sure that line of effect affects the remote hack ability as well.


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thistledown wrote:

Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

Most of those are "problems" with things being hacked in general. Not remote hack. You open the pod with a prybar , prop open the door with a set of thieves tools, the wall blocks line of effect so that's not an issue, and it still takes longer to hack the datapad than the boss will live, if you really need to ensure it takes 4 rounds, add a fake shell.

Even SFS is not so stuck on the rails that you can't handle the players doing the dungeon backwards or out of order.

Dataphiles

thistledown wrote:


Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

That is a curious claim. What problems are caused?


thistledown wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
thistledown wrote:
Remote Hack is an annoyance that GMs have to constantly be squashing lest it derail the printed scenarios. Very rarely do the authors consider it.
.... Why? Its the one thing the mechanics have in their mechanics that let them mechanic better than the operative can mechanic. Let them break the tech, that's their narrative purpose.

Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

Nothing about remote hack lets you do it without line of effect or line of sight to the device you're hacking. These are all non issues.

You can sit at a restaurant and hack someone's commlink the next table over. (They can roll to notice.)

If you're in a cell with bars (not a solid door or forcefield) you can hack the control you see across the hallway from your cell.

If you're in total cover 10' from a door with no cover, and enemies are set up in a crossfire, you can hack the door controls without leaving cover.

You can't do anything of the things you're worried about except the bad guy walking around with info on a datapad. But again, he can notice and do something about it.

Shadow Lodge

Xenocrat wrote:
thistledown wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
thistledown wrote:
Remote Hack is an annoyance that GMs have to constantly be squashing lest it derail the printed scenarios. Very rarely do the authors consider it.
.... Why? Its the one thing the mechanics have in their mechanics that let them mechanic better than the operative can mechanic. Let them break the tech, that's their narrative purpose.

Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

Nothing about remote hack lets you do it without line of effect or line of sight to the device you're hacking. These are all non issues.

Nothing says it requires line of effect either - and every player I've come across believes it works on everything in range, and there's plenty of glass walls / doors in starfinder.

These are not hypotheticals - they're things I've already had come up and had to deal with.

Shadow Lodge

"Dr." Cupi wrote:
thistledown wrote:


Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

That is a curious claim. What problems are caused?

When the narrative breaks, you get table variation as GMs try to get things back on track. And organized play tries to avoid table variation whenever possible.

Dataphiles

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I guess therein lies a difference between us. I don't see an issue with breaking the narrative. Because, if the narrative is so easily broken, it both wasn't likely a well written narrative, and likely isn't overly interesting. Also, such situations show the quality of a GM. A GM unable to handle narrative breaks caused by a flimsy narrative isn't a good GM. Which is an opportunity to become a better GM.


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thistledown wrote:
"Dr." Cupi wrote:
thistledown wrote:


Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

That is a curious claim. What problems are caused?
When the narrative breaks, you get table variation as GMs try to get things back on track. And organized play tries to avoid table variation whenever possible.

Then the problem is with the GM, and the insistence that table variation is a bad thing. Its 100% unavoidable and inevitable, and part of the *job* of the GM to make individualized adjudications. If the GM is unable or unwilling to do so, then everyone should just leave the table and go play a video game instead.

Also, players *should* be able to "skip content" via the appropriate usage of their character's abilities. If an adventure breaks because the story can only work if they solve things in one single way? Then the adventure was broken going in. Solving a problem via hacking is just as valid as doing it via combat, or stealth, or social interaction, or magic begoobery.

Shadow Lodge

Sorry, I thought I prefaced my comments that I was specifically speaking towards organized play, as that is the only way I play starfinder. But scrolling back I inferred that without actually stating it.

One of the hallmarks of organized play is that you will get the same content with every GM, which is why they insist on limiting table variation.

Yes, outside of that table variation and the ability are fine.


Pretty sure if your GMs and players are running remote hack as not requiring line of effect, they are playing the ability wrong/against the rules. Which is something you are supposed to avoid in organized play as far as I know.


CRB 271:

Defining Effects, Line of Effect wrote:
If a weapon, spell, ability, or item requires an attack roll and has a range measured in feet, it normally requires that you (or whoever or whatever is using the ability) have a line of effect to the target to be effective (subject to GM discretion).

I think you have to be thinking too narrowly to believe that any ability that uses a skill check or other roll, rather than an attack roll, doesn't suffer from the same limitation. This is in the tactical rules chapter, so it's focused on combat applications and trying to stop shenangicans there.

But it's worse than just the skill check issue. If you don't apply this more widely than the "attack roll" here then you can also cast targeted spells (or walls, or clouds, or explosive blast, or...) on enemies through walls via sense through. Start Mind Thrusting them to death from an unacessible adjacent room. There's augments, hybrid items (in combo with telepathy), tech items, class abilities (although high level nanocyte only) and spells that all give sense through. Some of them even give full sense through to get through meaningful amounts of metal or stone.

Ultimately the CRB depends on a varying amounts of common sense, and it's inevitable that some won't read things the way the authors thought was obvious to them.

This issue is also admittedly hazy with things like telepathy which I'm pretty sure does go through walls and out of sealed chambers, and of course remote sensing and teleportation effects (except a few that explicitly say you need line of sight/effect) also do.

Dataphiles

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thistledown wrote:

Sorry, I thought I prefaced my comments that I was specifically speaking towards organized play, as that is the only way I play starfinder. But scrolling back I inferred that without actually stating it.

One of the hallmarks of organized play is that you will get the same content with every GM, which is why they insist on limiting table variation.

Yes, outside of that table variation and the ability are fine.

I have been playing society games since season 4 of pf1. I have played with a local lodge, online, and at a several conventions. I feel confident saying that the best that could be said about society scenarios is that every player gets roughly the same content. Table variation is very alive in society play.

I also feel compelled to point out that we are discussing hacking in a sci-fi game. Almost everything in setting is computerized in some way. Hacking should be powerful, by concept. Limiting hacking because of an arbitrary "it'll break the story" basically tells players that playing a character that specializes in hacking is a gamble. Maybe you can do what you are supposed to be good at, maybe you will just be blocked from it just because. Realistically, you should just play a combat focused character because you'll always be able to do that. You'll only be able to hack when the story is okay with it.

Anecdote: I specifically experienced this situation when I got to play at an author gmed table for SFS. We came across something that reasonably would be hackable (a data pad from a recently downed NPC). I told the GM that my hacking specialized character would attempt to hack the datapad. The GM told me that I couldn't hack it, I would have to pass it off to an NPC to be hacked. It felt like a giant middle finger to Mr and the character that I had built.

If a character's ability allows them to break a scenario every great now and then, good for them!

Edit: I admit that I have some personal bias on this subject. I have experienced a few occasions with this SFS character, my 701 that is level 13, where my extreme proficiency in computers was essentially turned off for story reasons. It is frustrating.


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thistledown wrote:

Sorry, I thought I prefaced my comments that I was specifically speaking towards organized play, as that is the only way I play starfinder. But scrolling back I inferred that without actually stating it.

One of the hallmarks of organized play is that you will get the same content with every GM, which is why they insist on limiting table variation.

Yes, outside of that table variation and the ability are fine.

I've run over 150 scenarios and haven't seen this be a problem. its a players ability that yes, sometimes circumvents or roflcopters an encounter. its SUPPOSE to. The spacedruid is supposed to cuddle the spacewildlife, The envoy may talk someone onto your side, and the mechanic does weird things to the machinery that's illegal on abbalon. Its specifically allowed in the guide, and you specifically still get treasure when you do that.

Scarab Sages

Xenocrat wrote:

CRB 271:

Defining Effects, Line of Effect wrote:
If a weapon, spell, ability, or item requires an attack roll and has a range measured in feet, it normally requires that you (or whoever or whatever is using the ability) have a line of effect to the target to be effective (subject to GM discretion).

I think you have to be thinking too narrowly to believe that any ability that uses a skill check or other roll, rather than an attack roll, doesn't suffer from the same limitation. This is in the tactical rules chapter, so it's focused on combat applications and trying to stop shenangicans there.

But it's worse than just the skill check issue. If you don't apply this more widely than the "attack roll" here then you can also cast targeted spells (or walls, or clouds, or explosive blast, or...) on enemies through walls via sense through. Start Mind Thrusting them to death from an unacessible adjacent room. There's augments, hybrid items (in combo with telepathy), tech items, class abilities (although high level nanocyte only) and spells that all give sense through. Some of them even give full sense through to get through meaningful amounts of metal or stone.

Ultimately the CRB depends on a varying amounts of common sense, and it's inevitable that some won't read things the way the authors thought was obvious to them.

This issue is also admittedly hazy with things like telepathy which I'm pretty sure does go through walls and out of sealed chambers, and of course remote sensing and teleportation effects (except a few that explicitly say you need line of sight/effect) also do.

I can see a player arguing they can access the wireless router from another room or refering to the abilities like xray vision that are blocked by different thicknesses of materials though.


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Whenever something like that comes up people say "it doesn't say i need line of effect so I don't..." which ignores that you need line of effect to do stuff is a general rule of the game and its not stated in EVERY ability.


Even in SFS, its part of the DMs job to provide an interactive and creative response to the things the players do. Lack of table variation is A goal, not THE goal of organized play. To that end I cannot change the monsters, I cannot add their hit points, tweak their stats etc.

But that does not preclude player creativity knocking things off the rails a bit. Someone can bring a motercycle to a chase scene, Disguise themselves as the bad guy and order the minions into BATTLE FORMATIONS! THE STARFINDERS ARE COMMING MOVE IT!, or talking the cops arresting them into having a singing competition.*

Sometimes during the course of a scenario, your players might
surprise you with a creative solution to an encounter (or the
entire scenario) that you didn’t see coming and that isn’t expressly
covered in the scenario. If, for example, your players manage to
roleplay their way through a combat and successfully accomplish
the goal of that encounter without killing the antagonist, give
the PCs the same reward they would have gained had they
defeated their opponent in combat. If that scene specifically
calls for the PCs to receive a credits reward based on the gear
collected from the defeated combatants, instead allow the PCs
to find a credstick (or something similar) that gives them the
same rewards

The Starfinder Society never wants to give the impression that
the only way to solve a problem is to kill it. Rewarding the creative
use of skills and roleplaying not only make Society games more
fun for the players, but it also gives the GM a level of flexibility in
ensuring players receive the rewards they are due.

*ok that ones a long story...


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Senko wrote:

I can see a player arguing they can access the wireless router from another room or refering to the abilities like xray vision that are blocked by different thicknesses of materials though.

Again, anyone can hack a computer on a wireless network. Whatever that range is. I think the ones in my house are about medium range through wood and drywall construction. if you can access the network, you can hack it. mechanics can hack devices without access (if they are in line of effect to the device in question).

The mechanic's ability is that they can hack my microwave clock sitting at the breakfast nook with only my perception check to notice despite them not standing in front of the microwave pushing buttons.

Or if I had a secure computer not on my network, they could hack that. On the other hand anyone & everyone could hack my wifi network and get into my computer.


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Right, you can't hack Abadarcorp's airgapped corporate secrets in their HQ from your couch, but you absolutely can hack their SpaceAmazon customer service computers that take online orders.

Dataphiles

I can get behind a distinction between air gapped computer systems and wireless computer systems.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
thistledown wrote:


Because it allows skipping of content.

So does Disguises, Invisibility, Mass Invisibility, Fly, Jump Jets, and god knows how many other things that a moderately levelled character might have.

Re: Remote Hack, my understanding has always been that the advantage of Remote Hack versus anything else is that

A. you don't have to carry hacking tools with you in your hand (what even is hacking tools, that tiny little portable computer from Terminator 2?) and can access devices from range

B. You can access systems that may not necessarily have a standard I/O access point like your average desktop computer whether that's a wireless access device or a keyboard. Including rack mounted servers, alien mainframes, etc. Otherwise it's an engineering check to pull the thing open like a Macintosh so you can directly access the electronics.


thistledown wrote:

Sorry, I thought I prefaced my comments that I was specifically speaking towards organized play, as that is the only way I play starfinder. But scrolling back I inferred that without actually stating it.

One of the hallmarks of organized play is that you will get the same content with every GM, which is why they insist on limiting table variation.

Yes, outside of that table variation and the ability are fine.

I am well aware that you were talking about organized play. All my statements still stand. Insofar as they are incompatible with the stated goals of organized play, IMO this is a problem with organized play itself, in that is tries to achieve goals that are undesirable when they aren't outright impossible. Its basically demanding of GMs "We need you to actively be a bad GM in order for this to work".


"Dr." Cupi wrote:
I can get behind a distinction between air gapped computer systems and wireless computer systems.

I think one thing the game could use is a more clear definition of "accessible networks". A networked computer doesn't allow the player to ignore line of effect, it just means that there are more valid targets one could have line of effect to. You still need line of effect, its just if one computer is networked to another, you only need LoE to *any* computer on the network. Likewise, an open wireless connection makes an entire area ( a room, a building, a city, etc ) count as "line of effect".


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Metaphysician wrote:


I am well aware that you were talking about organized play. All my statements still stand. Insofar as they are incompatible with the stated goals of organized play, IMO this is a problem with organized play itself, in that is tries to achieve goals that are undesirable when they aren't outright impossible. Its basically demanding of GMs "We need you to actively be a bad GM in order for this to work".

Except that it doesn't. At all.

There is a giant block of text, taken directly from the guide, that states point blank the idea that the need to keep things on the rails and the exact same between all groups is NOT a requirement of Organized play.

Run as written means that I am stuck with the monsters and the difficulty classes. I can't make the combat more interesting by say, changing that Kobold into the tarrasque or sprinkling a few dozen more shadows into the combat. I can't say well a dc 28 diplomacy check is nuts/too easy that sounds more like a 20/40. For most normal interactions what I can do is give someone a +2 circumstance bonus. For abnormal interactions...

Anything else the party DOES I'm allowed to react to, specifically even if the scenario has no way of anticipating the abilities and plans of your party of mixed nuts. If instead of murderhoboing the kobolds, the party has A nagaji and pet velociraptor go over and diplomacy, or casts form of the dragon on themselves and says "BOW BEFORE ME PEONS OR BURRRRN....." A few diplomacy/intimidate rolls later the party moves through without a fight. Not only that, but you even get the loot somehow. The kobolds pay tribute to their new draconic overlord or Hand over the treasure laden body of the adventurer who tried to murderhobo their way through.

The only thing that makes organized play play like a video game is dms that think it's supposed to be run that way. It's not. The guide specifically tells you it's not, and specifically says not to punish partys for going off the rails.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thistledown wrote:
"Dr." Cupi wrote:
thistledown wrote:


Because it allows skipping of content.

Someone sealed themself in a pod with the only controls on the inside? Hack it anyways.

Door that you're supposed to open only after exploring the rest of the ship? No problem.

Walking down a hallway and a computer happens to be on the other side of the wall but in range? Got it.

Baddy has info on a pad / controls to a device that you need to defeat him for / find out about later? Nah, skip the whole thing.

In a home game, all of these are fine, and the GM can just roll with it. But when a scenario has to be run as written, doing things that break the intended narrative causes problems.

That is a curious claim. What problems are caused?
When the narrative breaks, you get table variation as GMs try to get things back on track. And organized play tries to avoid table variation whenever possible.

If this is how you feel about the lowly Remote Hack, how on earth do you handle prepared casters? #if-the-DM-isn't-crying-the-wizard-ain't-tryin'


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
LRStahl wrote:
Senko wrote:

... they already outshine the mechanic in their own field.

I've noticed this, too, not just with Mechanics. A friend of mine wanted to be an Ace Pilot soldier , but the Operative always had a higher piloting skill. It's like you have to buff other classes with regard to their specialty skills so they just don't all make Operatives.

Although I appreciate this isn't the point of the thread, but the special ops training in the character operations manual does give a way for soldiers to get a similar class bonus to the operative in some skills (Including Piloting).


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Remote Hack is potentially one of the most creative powers in the game. If a GM is not able to cope with it, I'm not sure they're able to deal with the vast range of monkeywrenches players throw at them.


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I think I have the opposite issue. As a GM I think of some uses for remote hack and my groups Mechanic just doesn't think to use it.

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