Sample Software

Security Software

These specialized hacking tools and firewalls operate like techniques, but are only accessible with the software. Characters can spend points increasing their skill with these programs just like any other technique.

Hacking Programs

Program Time (in phases) Complexity Cost Legality
Bloodhound 1 2 $7,500 3
Corrode 1 2 $12,500 3
Crash 4 2 $15,000 3
Crumble 1 2 $5,000 3
Disguise 1 2 $2,000 3
Erase 1 2 $8,000 3
Flatline 1 4 $1,000,000 1
Fuse 1 2 $20,000
Icepick 2 4 $25,000
Loop 1 2 $4,000
Misdirection 2 2 $17,500
Monitor 2 2 $25,000
Promote 2 2 $20,000
Recon 1 2 $7,500
Sever 2 2 $15,000
Silence 1 2 $10,000
Shield 1 2 $12,000
Snare 1 2 $12,500
Stealth 1 2 $10,000
Success 1 3 $12,500
Skeleton Key I 5 2 $25,000
Skeleton Key II 8 3 $50,000
Trace 1 2 $20,000 3
Transfer 1 2 $25,000 3
Webster 2 2 $5,000 3

Firewall Programs

Program Time (in phases) Complexity Cost Legality
Alarm 1 2 $10,000
Bailout executed upon system startup 2 $15,000
Black Ice 1 4 $200,000 2
Bluff always running 1 $1,000
Camouflage 0 2 $1,000 -1
Codewall 2 2 $10,000
Datalock 2 $20,000
Disinformation 2 $15,000 -1
Guard Dog 1 2 $30,000 2
Mask 2 $20,000
Password 1 $100
Psychodrome 2 4 $50,000 2
Regenerate 1 2 $30,000
Safety Net system startup 2 $12,000
Watchdog 1 2 $20,000
Wolf 1 2 $40,000 2

Defaults to Computer Hacking-6

This program is used to defeat a Misdirection program. It is typically invoked by a Trace program if the program (or the decker) realizes that it has been thrown off the track. Roll a Contest of Skills between the Bloodhound and the Misdirection program — if the Bloodhound wins, the Trace can continue following the subject. If the Bloodhound loses, try again — but each successive try is a cumulative -3, as the trail grows “cold.” Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2, and cost is $7,500.

Defaults to Computing Hacking-4

Corrode slowly chips away at the integrity of a program, giving the decker plenty of time to safely distance himself from the crumbling system. When the Corrode program is executed, a Contest of Skills is rolled between the program’s skill level and Corrode. If the program wins, Corrode has no effect. If Corrode wins, the program begins to deteriorate — in 1d seconds it will crash (assuming that the corrosion isn’t caught by a Regenerate program). Time 1, Complexity 2, cost $12,500.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

Short of destroying its hardware, Crash is the ultimate injury that can be inflicted on a system. Ironically, Crash is also one of the simplest programs available — but it can only be executed from a superuser account. Any time a Crash program is run in a system with a Safety Net (see p. 93), immediately roll a Contest of Skills between the Crash program and the Safety Net. Otherwise, roll against the Crash program’s skill level, modified downward by the complexity of the target system. If the Crash is successful, the target system immediately shuts down. All users are kicked off, and any links passing through it are treated as though hit with a successful Sever program (p. 91). If the Crash fails, subsequent attempts are at a cumulative -5 instead of the normal -3 — if it didn’t work the first time, it is unlikely to ever work on that particular system. Execution Time is 4, Complexity is 2, and cost is $15,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

The Crumble program is used to get past a Codewall (see p. 93). Roll a Contest of Skills versus the Codewall program — if Crumble wins, the Codewall is destroyed. Repeated attempts are allowed at the normal -3. Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2, and cost is $5,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

This program is used to alter the “appearance” of a netrunner’s signal, making it appear to be a legitimate user of a node. This doesn’t give the user access to a target node, but will deceive any Watchdog (see p. 93) programs that are guarding the node. Roll a Contest of Skills between Watchdog and Disguise to determine whether it accepts the connection as legitimate.

A Disguise program must be tailored for a particular system; this requires information about that system. The GM decides how much information is to be required. If the “tailoring” must be done online, the decker must make a successful Recon of the Watchdog that is to be deceived, and then make a Computer Hacking roll at -1: this takes 2 phases. One Disguise program can fool any number of Watchdogs, if it has been given the proper data in advance.

Disguise has an Execution Time of 1, but must be activated prior to connecting to the node whose Watchdog is to be fooled. Disguise is Complexity 2 and costs $2.000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

Most systems keep some sort of log of who was on the system, when, and what they did while they were there. Particularly paranoid systems print these records out on hardcopy as they’re logged — there isn’t much that can be done about this, short of sending a strike team into the computer room to destroy the evidence! Most systems, however, content themselves with a disk-based record of comings and goings.

An Erase program is used to remove evidence of a particular login, database search or program execution. The GM makes the roll — and doesn’t tell the character the result! (A failed roll indicates that the intruder thinks he erased all traces of his visit, but really missed a few “footprints.”) Only on a critical success or failure will the hacker know he has succeeded or failed.

The Erase skill level is modified down by the Complexity of the target computer. Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2, and cost is $8,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -9

This is the most feared piece of code on the net Horror stories abound about netrunners who tangled with the wrong system or decker — the story usually ends with the victim’s eyeballs exploding from the heat of his melting brain.

Flatline is used mostly by large computer systems — most cyberdecks don’t have the processing power to handle Flatline, even if they can find it. Flatline is designed to disconnect hackers — permanently.

There are many different methods of killing a wired-in netrunner. The most common method, and the one from which Flatline takes its name, is to force the decker’s EEG to go flat. Other versions cause a power surge to feedback through an opponent’s cyberdeck directly into his neural interface. Either of these immediately does 3d damage per Phase (PD and DR don’t protect) of the computer running the Flatline (assuming that the skill roll is made, roll each Phase) to the victim.

Some of the more exotic Flatlines don’t kill at all. One version wreaks havoc with the brain’s electrical system, giving the netrunner the Epilepsy disadvantage (the hacker may not even realize he has it until later!). Another version hypnotically reprograms the netrunner, overwriting his normal personality with that of a Ghostcomp (see p. 56).

Both of these require that the Flatline program work three times in a row before being unplugged — after that, the netrunner is helpless to unplug the jack until the Flatline allows him to.

The only defense against Flatline, other than unplugging the neural interface, is a Fuse program (see below). Unhooking a neural interface only takes one second, but a fast system with a 200-millisecond Phase will be able to get off five surges before that second is up — enough to fry most netrunners to a crisp.

The GM should use his imagination when creating new flatlines! Flatline programs are almost always illegal, and many ROM decks carrying them are designed to burn themselves out after a certain number of executions. Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 4, and cost is $1,000,000+; Legality Class 1.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -6

A few paranoid netrunners have begun employing fuses in their cyberdeck toolkit. A Fuse program waits in the background until it detects something that looks like a Flatline program coming through a neural interface. It then immediately disconnects the user from the net.

A fuse program can save the netrunner’s life. There are several disadvantages, however. First, some programs (including state-of-theart ice) will sometimes send a harmless signal disguised to look like a Flatline at the beginning of a transmission (see Bluff, p. 93). This signal can be filtered out if the Recon program (or the netrunner) recognizes it as false, but it will trigger many fuses. Second, suddenly disconnecting from a neural interface is very disorienting — it causes the decker to be mentally stunned for 3d seconds. And third, it uses up a valuable deck slot.

If a Fuse is online, roll a Quick Contest of Skills every time a Flatline program (or an appropriate Bluff) appears. If the Fuse wins, it disconnects the user from the system immediately, sparing him from being flatlined. If it loses, the Fuse delays by one of its own Phases for each point by which it lost. Critical failure means the fuse failed and its user takes full damage (and probably dies a horrible death). Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2 and cost is $20,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -7

This is the universal attack tool. It can act as any icebreaker program (Bloodhound, Corrode, Crumble, Disguise, Silence, Skeleton Key II, and Webster). Icepick is the tool of choice for the sophisticated decker, but it requires expensive equipment to run. Execution Time is 2, Complexity is 4, and cost is $250,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-1

Loop is used to occupy processing time on the target computer so that it is less resistant to other attacks. Loop programs generally involve putting the central processing unit into a infinite loop of some sort — calculating the value of pi to the last decimal place, for instance. A successful Loop reduces the target system’s skill rolls by 2. The only defense against an Loop is a Bailout program (p. 92). Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2, cost is $4,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

This program is used to throw a Trace (sec p. 92) off the path. If the follower doesn’t have a Bloodhound (see p. 90), he has no chance of following a path obfuscated with a Misdirection. Execution Time and Complexity are 2; cost is $17,500.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-2

This program is used once a hacker is in a system. If he has superuser access, he can monitor the actions of any user in that system with a successful roll versus Monitor. Monitor has an Execution Time and Complexity of 2, and a cost of $25,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

This program is executed from a normal user account on a system. If successful, the account is “upgraded” to a superuser account. The skill roll for a Promote program is modified down by the Complexity of the target system — the better operating systems are designed to prevent a user from doing this! Execution Time and Complexity are 2, and cost is $20,000. Promote programs are common on stacked decks (see sidebar, p. 84).

Defaults to Computer Hacking-3

This program is used to scan a system for defensive programs, both ice and “counterattacks” like Snare. When a netrunner first encounters a system, the GM should roll versus Recon for each ice program the node has defending it. A successful roll lets the decker “see” the ice. If the netrunner doesn’t have a Recon program, the GM rolls versus Computer Hacking-3 for each piece of ice to see if the character spots it.

If the target system has an active Disinformation program (see p. 93), the GM should roll against it each time the Recon program fails to detect an ice program. On a successful roll, the Recon program returns false information to the character. Recon also rolls versus Bluff programs (see p. 93) — a successful roll reveals the Bluff as a feint.

A decker may also use Recon to get more information about a specific program, once it is detected. Roll a Contest of Skills between the two programs. On a success, the decker learns what contingencies will activate the program, and what other programs it can trigger and when. On a failure, he learns nothing new. A critical failure sets off an Alarm if one is present. A critical success by the GM (who rolls in secret) lets the GM lie. Recon has an Execution Time of 1, a Complexity of 2, and a cost of $7,500.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-6

The Sever program cuts another netrunner’s access to the net by temporarily disconnecting his communication lines. The image generated by a neural interface is constantly being refreshed and updated from the decker’s incoming data stream. If this flow is interrupted, even for only a fraction of a second, the representation breaks down and the decker is disconnected.

If the target doesn’t have a Shield (see p. 93) program active, the only thing required to successfully sever his connection is a skill roll. (If a defender’s cyberdeck is fast enough, he will see the Sever attempt begin in Phase 1 of its execution, and will be able to throw up a Shield in Phase 2, since Shield’s Execution Time is 1 versus Sever’s 2.) If a Shield program is running, roll a contest of skill between the Sever and Shield programs. If the Sever program loses the contest, the user can attempt to execute it again, but each successive attempt is at the standard -3. Sever has an Execution Time of 2, Complexity of 2, and costs $15,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

Silence is used to attack any Alarm programs that a target system might have. Each Alarm must be Silenced separately — roll a Quick Contest of Skills between Silence and the Alarm. A critical success silences the Alarm without “noticeable” damage. A critical failure results in the Alarm being tripped! Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2, and cost is $ 10,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-5

The Shield program is used to defend against a Sever attempt (see p. 91 for more information). Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2, and cost is $12,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-5

A Snare is used to trap a netrunner in one location for a brief period of time. A Snare is launched at a decker. If he moves before it hits, it cannot pursue. But if he is still there, he must then win a Quick Contest of Skill — his Computer Hacking skill versus the Snare — to move again. Each Phase after the first, the victim can try to break free again, at a cumulative +1 on his roll (the Snare detiorates). This does not impede the netrunner’s own use of programs, and it does not keep him from jacking out. Snare is Execution Time 1, Complexity 2, and is $12,500.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-5

Hackers use the Stealth program to remain invisible as they move through the net. To see another netrunner, no roll is normally needed. If the subject is running Stealth, however, they won’t be seen unless they are on the same node or point as the observer. Then the GM secretly rolls a Quick Contest between the observer’s Cyberdeck Operation skill at -3 and the Stealth.

Each doubling of price subtracts an additional -1 from the Cyberdeck Operation skill, up to a maximum of -9. Stealth is Complexity 2, has an Execution Time of 1 and costs $10,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-4

Well-designed ice usually involves messages being passed from one program to another — a Watchdog will act based on data from a Trace, for instance, or a system might be set to shut down if a Sever attempt was not successful (in order to prevent the hacker from gaining access to the information.) The Success program is used to feed false information to the system.

For instance, a netrunner’s Recon might have informed him that a Watchdog is set to launch a Sever program if a Trace said he was coming from any node but “Alpha.” The netrunner doesn’t have a Disguise program in this case, and doesn’t wish to chance his default, so he would begin by destroying the Trace program (using a Corrode program, probably). Once the Trace is gone, he is left with the problem of a Watchdog that is expecting information from the Trace. The decker launches the Success program, and it will simulate the correct answer.

The GM should roll against the level of the Success program whenever it has to give a response to something. A missed roll indicates that it didn’t work, and it notifies the netrunner of its failure. On a critical failure, the program doesn’t realize its cover is blown, so it doesn’t notify anyone… The GM should give bonuses to a Success program if the netrunner has experience or prior knowledge of the system being subverted. A Success program is Complexity 3, Execution Time 1, and costs $12,500.

Skeleton Key
Defaults to Computer Hacking-5

A Skeleton Key will “unlock” a Datalock (roll a Contest of Skills), allowing access to the information being protected. A Skeleton Key uses several sophisticated (and complicated) cryptography algorithms, and is available in two forms. Skeleton Key I defaults to skill level 10 instead of 12, has an Execution Time of 5, a Complexity of 2, and a cost of $25,000. The maximum skill level of this version is 14. The more intricate Skeleton Key II has the normal default skill of 12, an Execution Time of 8, a Complexity of 3, and a cost of $50,000. This version has no maximum skill level.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -3
A Trace program can follow the electronic trail left by another netrunner — follow the trail back far enough and the tracer can find a decker’s comm-line. This can be used to find out the owner’s name and address (see sidebar, p. 80).

Each time a target hops to a different node back along the path by which he entered the system, the tracer must make a successful Trace skill roll to follow. This roll is at -1 for each hop away the quarry is (GM’s determination), so pursuing someone with a substantially faster cyberdeck is a difficult task. If the fleeing decker executes a Misdirection or Codewall program, the pursuer must stop and deal with them first (using Bloodhound and Crumble, respectively).

If the Trace fails a roll, the intruder has been lost unless he is still close enough to be “seen” in the net (i.e., 1 hop per Complexity level of the pursuing machine).

If the intruder does not leave the system and “flee,” but remains connected, the Trace will do him no harm, but will move back along his path at 1 hop per Phase. If it misses a roll, it can immediately try again at a cumulative -1. Only the stupidest Trace will fail to eventually track down an active line.

Example: Megacorp executes a Trace-14 program to try and catch a netrunner snooping around their accounting computer. Unfortunately for them, the hacker’s deck is sizzling hot — he makes three hops away from the system before the Trace program can get started. Since he is three hops away. Trace rolls against an 11 to follow his first hop.

If the decker stopped running after 3 hops, the Trace would roll against a 12 on the second node and a 13 on the third node. Trace has an Execution Time of 1, a Complexity of 2, and a cost of $20,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -6

This program is used to move a commodity (cash or goods) from one node to another (see p. 80). It has no intelligence of its own — it has to be told exactly what hops to make and what passwords to give (or programs to execute) to make the transfer safely. If a Transfer is aborted for any reason before reaching its destination (a link is down, or it runs into unexpected ice, for instance), the commodity effectively “disappears” for 1d days while the legitimate owners straighten out the problem.

When a transfer program is executed, the GM rolls versus the program’s skill. A successful roll indicates that it follows its instructions as given. A failure indicates something went wrong. Transfer has an Execution Time of 1 (plus however long it takes to reach its destination), a Complexity of 2, and a cost of $25,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -5

This is the standard icebreaker for use against Password programs (see p. 93). It acts as an extremely fast “brute-force” hacker. The attack is resolved as a Contest of Skills between Webster and the Password program. Webster is at a -5 against a Secure system, and has no effect on a Datalock.

If Webster fails, the hacker may try again at -3. Some of Password programs will set off alarms after one failed attempt, while others will allow indefinite tries.

Webster has an Execution Time of 2, is Complexity 2, and costs $5,000

Defaults to Computer Hacking-2

An Alarm is set up to activate a certain program or alarm device (a bell, beeps on the sysop’s console, etc.) when an unauthorized access attempt is made on the system. See also Recon (see p. 91) and Silence (see p. 91).

Alarms are executed (that is, turned on) when the system is booted. It takes one Phase for an Alarm to trigger. Complexity is 2, and cost is $10,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -2

This program defends against infinite loops caused by an Loop program (see p. 90). The GM should roll a Quick Contest between the Loop and Bailout. Bailout is executed upon system startup, is Complexity 2, and costs $15,000.

Black Ice
Defaults to Computer Hacking -8

Black Ice is a defensive version of Flatline (p. 90). It is triggered by an Alarm (p. 92). Black Ice is almost always illegal for private individuals; corporations, and those with influence, can use it with impunity. Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 4, and cost is $200,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -4

A Bluff is used to “simulate” ice, to make a system appear better protected than it actually is. Each active Bluff program can simulate one type of ice program. See Recon, p. 91, for more information. A Bluff is Complexity 1, is always running, and costs $1,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -2

Camouflage is used to disguise a link — it remains invisible unless someone looks specifically for the link that is hidden (i.e., random network scanning will never find it). If someone tries to find the link, the GM should roll a Quick Contest of Skills between the Camouflage program and the Computer Hacking or Cyberdeck Operation skill of the netrunner. Each successive search attempt by the same user using the same equipment is at a cumulative -1. If the runner upgrades his deck or his skill, he can try again with no penalties.

Complexity 2, cost $1,000 per point of skill in the program. There is no execution time — if it isn’t already running when an intruder appears, there’s no point in gearing it up.

Defaults to Computer Hacking-3

A Codewall is a “wall” of sensory static created to temporarily block a signal passing through a communication line. If there are multiple paths from point A to point B, a single Codewall will only block one of them.

A Codewall is destroyed by a Crumble program, or will naturally decay after ten seconds. Execution Time is 2, Complexity is 2, and cost is $10,000.

Defaults to Computer Programming-4

A Datalock is essentially a long, complex, constantly-changing sort of Password. It is usually found on a particular database or program, rather than on a system. Webster won’t help against it; a Datalock must be unlocked with a Skeleton Key. An authorized user will have a Datakey; this may be a message sent by his own system, or he may have a separate electronic code-key that he can jack in. The message is time-dependent, so even if it is “overheard” once, it will be different 5 seconds later! A Datalock has an Execution Time of 5, but is usually put in place when the system is started up.

At the owner’s option, a Datalock may be an integral part of the database. In this case, any attack that destroys it, or even a superuser’s attempt to turn it off, will erase the database! Complexity is 2, and cost is $20,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -4

This program is used to feed false information to a Recon program. The GM should roll against this each time a Recon program (see p. 91) fails to detect an ice program. On a successful roll, the program returns false information to the character. Disinformation has no Execution Time; it is running on bootup. It is Complexity 2 and costs $15,000.

Guard Dog
Defaults to Computer Hacking -6

A combination program. Programmers have combined the detection capabilities of the Bloodhound with the disconnect of the Sever.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -2

A Mask program is used to “blur” the appearance of a system’s defenses. A Mask subtracts 2 from all Recon attempts; Mask may cover some defenses while deliberately leaving others visible. Each doubling of price subtracts another 1 from the Recon roll, to a maximum of -6 (for $320,000). Mask is Complexity 2, and costs $20,000.

Defaults to Computer Programming-2

This is one of the simplest protection mechanisms against unauthorized access to a system. In addition to obtaining passwords through theft or social engineering (see p. 70), a Webster program (see p. 92) can usually be used to get past the protection — although a good password program will assign passwords that an average Webster won’t guess. It is a Complexity 1 program costing $100.

Some Passwords issue a “prompt,” challenging a user to respond. These programs cannot be Masked. Other Passwords just sit quietly until they get the right response, and these can be Masked. Note that a Password doesn’t have to use a typed input. It can take input from any peripheral device or sensor (such as those on pp. 53- 54) as valid input.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -7

This program is especially dangerous. At first it appears as a datalock, but upon unlocking the program executes its code. Once executed the netrunner is locked into a braindance or sensie feed of a psychotics sensory feed overload. This is the equivilent of a skill contest brainwashing 12 v.s. the netrunner. Failure indicates the runner the netrunner is lost in the braindance and cannot willingly jack out. Only a Bailout program can successfully breakout of a Psychodrome once locked in.

Defaults to Computer Programming -4

A Regenerate program constantly monitors the status of a system, and keeps track of the integrity of all programs on it. Each Phase, Regenerate checks the status of one program. If it is intact, it moves on to the next one. The default cycle is alphabetical through the list of programs, but the sysop can “program” Regenerate to a non-standard pattern — it might check the integrity of a particular database every other turn, for instance.

If a program is missing, Regenerate will notice automatically. If it has been tampered with (e.g., by Corrode, or an unsuccessful attempt at Silence), the GM rolls vs. the Regenerate’s skill. On a successful roll, the Regenerate notices that something is wrong, and takes action. It can rebuild the program from ROM if it is available; this takes 1 Phase for Complexity 1, 2 for Complexity 2, and so on. If the corrupted program is disk-based, it will signal a human operator to install an offline (and presumably uncorrupted) backup, and probably shut the system down until it is reset. Regenerate can also activate other programs (such as Alarm) at the same time it starts repairs. Execution Time is 1, Complexity is 2, and cost is $30,000.

To be fully secure against Corrode, two Regenerate programs are needed — they watch each other!

Safety Net
Defaults to Computer Programming -5

Safety Net acts as a failsafe against system crashes. Any time a command is issued that would cause the system to reset, for instance, the program checks to see if there is anything unusual about the request — looking at its internal log to see if the system is normally reset at this time of day, if the user requesting the reset has ever done so before, etc. If there is any doubt about the validity of the request, the Safety Net aborts the reset and sends a message to the sysop of the system informing him of the attempt. See Crash (p. 89) for more information.

A Safety Net is automatically invoked on system startup. Complexity is 2, and cost is $12,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -6

A Watchdog program is kept running constantly, monitoring and examining all connections to a particular node. Some Watchdog programs merely keep track of all connects, recording them to a log. Others execute Alarms, Traces or Severs to deal with any unauthorized connections. It only takes one Phase for Watchdog to execute another program (plus the Execution Time of the invoked program). Watchdog is Complexity 2, and costs $20,000.

Defaults to Computer Hacking -10

Another combination program. This one melds the bloodhound with the flatline. The program chases you down in the net and tries to kill you.

Sample Software

Zeroed saethone saethone