A Guest Article by Dave Viars, line developer for Interface Zero
These week I’m interrupting the Orcs & Elves series to give readers wgho aren’t into it a break, and to bring you a guest article advance sneak-peek at a new Game Setting that’s on the way, in a genre that hasn’t yet received a lot of love here at Campaign Mastery…
What’s up, amigo? How’s things going for you and yours? Not that I really wanna know, but it pays to play along with social niceties in this business, ya dig me? So you’ve come here to learn the straight skinny on how the Mediaweb works, what the hell a TAP is, how a Hyper-glove functions, and just how you can go swimming through the Deep and hack everything you come across…
Hi there! Forgive the hammy dramatics at the top! I’m Dave Viars, line developer for Interface Zero and the head rules guy for the game. Today I’m going to talk about how the internet functions of our game setting and how you, the potential player, can go about hacking it! I’m going to mostly do this In Character, so forgive me for hamming it up again, it’s all in good fun!
The Hacking Environment
Before I can really get you educated on how to Hack, we need to talk about fundamentals. I’m going to walk you through this as if you were a n00b, no offense omae, but we gotta take this one step at a time. You gotta learn to doggy paddle, before you can swim like a fish through the Deep, my friend.
The old world internet was only the start of the information revolution, here in 2090, it’s matured and reached its pinnacle. Well the pinnacle for all of us still walkin’ around in meat bodies, the Church Of The Upload would have you believe we should all be dubbing ourselves into data beings, but I’m rather attached to my own flesh, you hear me? Sure I could eat a virtual nutra-dog, but you don’t get the same real satisfaction of being full, or the heartburn later. Anyway I’m gettin’ off topic.
The Mediaweb & The TAP
The Mediaweb, as we call it today, connects everything and everyone in away you wouldn’t even believe. Ya see, the way everyone is connected to one another? It’s an implant 95% of the human, and post-human races have within their grey matter called the Tendril Access Processer, or TAP for short. The TAP was the biggest revolution to hit humanity since, well damn near electricity, ya feel me? The TAP gives us constant connection to the Mediaweb 24/7, you don’t have to worry about your service provider crapping out on you, because your head is the service provider. It doesn’t disconnect you unless you willing decide to turn it off. Whenever we want, we can look up websites, open em up in Hyper Reality (don’t worry I’ll get to HR in a moment), project our consciousness into completely Virtual Realms, keep our personal information stored away, and pretty much do more than any smart phone back at the turn of the Millennium was capable of. All of this and it’s in your head so you won’t lose it!
Most importantly, the TAP let’s you interact with Hyper Reality, the old world’s Augmented Reality, only taken to 11. Hyper Reality is friggan everywhere in 2090! Virtual Icons and control panels, objects and entertainment, directions and advertisements all just floating there, over laying the real world. Thanks to your TAP you can touch, taste, feel, see, and hear HR all around you. Now of course we got spam filters to take care of most of the garbage and viruses out there you can’t be too careful in avoiding, but the benefits seem to outweigh the drawbacks. Also while capable of transmitting “feeling” of a sort HR isn’t a replacement for the real deal, so that HR girlfriend or boyfriend program is only going to assuage you for so long. The majority of objects out there have HR controls, it’s how you’ll open most doors, tell most machinery what to do, and of course order things online by looking through HR menus.
But let’s get to what you’re really interested in now, how the hell do you make this Hyper reality filled playground do what you want? Let’s talk about Hacking. The first thing you’re gonna need, is a hyper-glove. Thanks to having what is pretty much a computer already implanted in your head, you don’t need to carry around a laptop like the real old days, but you’re also gonna need something with more power to it than a smart phone, too. That’s where the hyper glove comes in. The hyper glove is a tool used by programmers and engineers through out the world, and of course, information pirates like us. The Hyper glove is a symbol that says you’re someone who knows what the hell their doing when it comes to the Deep (which if you haven’t figured it out yet, is the mediaweb’s nickname!).
The Hyper glove works with your TAP, boosting it’s processing power and giving you the ability to access the underlying code of every hyper object and computer controlled object you run across… if you can break past its firewall of course. That’s another thing the Hyperglove lets you do. Think of it as a sort of big ass digital crowbar that lets you rip open the casing of these objects and play around with the guts, or code inside. If you can hack past the Firewall, you’re free to make some quick alterations to the code of the object on the fly.
Course, what you want to do to the object you’re hacking largely depends on what mode you have the Hyper-glove in. Standard hypergloves used by engineers have control and edit mode… Hackers, Law enforcement, and soldiers have the third mode, Destruction, added to their Hyper glove as well.
What do those modes do? Well, let’s say you’re breaking into some place you’re not supposed to be, and you spy a security camera down the hall. Point your Hyper glove at it, hack past the camera’s firewall, and the mode you’re currently selected in will determine what you can do! Control will let you turn the damn thing on and off or even make it point in the opposite direction for a short time while you hustle past. Edit will let you feed it new information, wiping you and your friends out from what it’s currently seeing, or make it look like a whole gang is running down the halls! Destruction? Well, that bad boy causes each system it hacks to fall into an electric feedback cycle which can cause some damage, do it well enough and the camera will end up crispy.
Of course I’m making it sound much easier than it really is. Each item you run across either has its own internal firewall, or is hooked up as part of a larger network. Hacking the vending machine you run across outside isn’t going to cause you too much trouble usually, but the same vending machine inside of a corporate, government, or military facility is going to be hooked into that facility’s network, and have some nasty surprises for you! Fail your hack and you might get lucky, nothing might happen. Or you might just trigger an alarm. But if your luck is sour, you might trigger an Intrusion counter measure which sends a nasty bio-feedback signal up through your Hyper glove and into your brain! The Deep is full of nasty surprises in the end amigo, so watch yourself out there!
The mechanics beneath the surface
Hi again! Dave V here, stepping out from behind the curtain once more to talk system and mechanics with you. I hope you enjoyed the In character discussion of how things in our setting work, but let’s talk nuts and bolts about how that system actually runs while you’re playing the game!
Savage Worlds is known to be a wonderful system which allows for excellent levels of detail and intricacy, all without giving the GM and the players a headache being bogged down by unnecessary rules. The standard philosophy of “Fast, Furious, Fun!” which is in all Savage worlds products is the same thing that we followed creating the rules for Interface Zero.
Too often in most other cyberpunk offerings the Hacker is removed from the action. They’re outside, not involved, and typically waiting on the rest of the party to do the “real” work. Other times the hacker engages in an entire mini-game involving the GM and player looking up rules just to figure out how things work while the rest of the group goes about twiddling their thumbs.
In interface Zero, we did our best to minimize that when it came to our hacking. The process is simply the player pointing their Hyper glove at the object they want to hack, deciding what mode their hyper glove is in, and then making a hacking roll to bypass the system’s firewall. Success grants one turn of effect, a raise usually grants a bigger effect. The Firewall of an object is determined by the network the player is hacking. The core book provides a range of Firewall difficulty suggestions depending on what type of network your players are running up against. It also provides a list of suggested consequences, depending on the type of network as well. In practice it means you only have to write down a single number for any building or area the players are running around in, and create or consult a simple chart when the player fails a hack! It’s fast, it’s easy, and it keeps the Hacker running right along side the rest of the group as well!
Of course we also give more than just this quick and easy type of Hacking for those who want to get more complex in their games! You want the Hacker to go completely virtual, scout out the place ahead of time and leave in some backdoors for the group? We have a system for that built on the Savage world’s deluxe rulebook’s “Dramatic Task” rules, you can get it done quick and easy and get on with the campaign! You want to Hack someone’s brain, and turn them into your puppet? We got you covered there too. Along with a system for going completely virtual for those who want to really play in the Deep!
The TAP opens up a world of possibilities in game play, from fully uploaded digital consciousnesses called “Dubs” which can offer a form of “eternal life” to those with the cash, to viruses which turn people into stark raving lunatics with Hyper Reality inlaid red eyes that want to kill everyone around them!
Cool hacking rules aren’t the only thing we have going for us in Interface Zero 2.0 though, we also have a deep and varied “Enhancement” system covering a large breadth of cyberware and bioware to kit out your character’s. We also have an engaging system for what happens when you change to much of your meat. Go too far and maybe it’ll be something biological, your health will be affected… You might have to end up having to take a weekly immuno booster to keep yourself from getting sick too often, or the presence of so much ware in your body is limiting your control of it… your systems end up firing when you least expect it. You might end up going the mental route though, and find yourself with Pinocchio Syndrome; you’ll end up engaging in destructive behavior just to prove you’re a real boy (or girl) underneath all that chrome!
Beyond that, we have Drone rules made easy following the savage worlds rules for minions, Golem-mech creation rules, Solar colonies, vat grown simulacrum, android characters, brain bending psychics, and lots of other cool stuff in our setting. Interface Zero is the cyberpunk setting that will let you play and tell any kind of cyberpunk story you want too, psychics on the run from the North American Coalition’s “Psi group”, Investigative reporters digging into the heart of a mega corporations illegal experiments, mercenaries trying to earn a buck playing all sides against one another, or Corporate moguls aggressively taking out their rivals!
We really hope our setting sounds interesting to you, and welcome you to come take a look. This project is a labor of love, and is about giving everyone the best cyberpunk setting and set of rules we can give you! Thanks for taking the time to read this, and we hope you’ll check us out!
Okay, this is Mike, your regularly-scheduled author, here to wrap up this guest post.
As you can see to the left, Interface Zero 2.0 is going to be a cyberpunk tabletop RPG using the Savage Worlds Deluxe system. It is being crowdfunded through Kickstarter. At the time of this writing, it had 11 days to go and had attracted $51.231 of it’s $10,000 goal – those numbers will be updated automatically in the box to the left, so don’t be surprised if they are out of date as you read this. The funding project closes on March 2 of 2013. That means its fully-funded (several times over) and in the process of reaching for stretch goals. 797 Backers (at the time of writing) have found something of interest in the proposal – which has to increase the chances that you will, too.
I love this phase of a kickstarter project because it means that the risks are almost completely gone – the project is funded, and the only question is how much bang you are going to get for your bucks by climbing onto the bandwagon. Hopefully, the organizers have their sums right and the additional products they have included are also properly funded by the Kickstarter.
There are some really nice and potentially useful add-ons included in the stretch goals, products that would seriously increase the overall value of the package to GMs who invest in the kickstarter fundraising. The closer they get to achieving those stretch goals, the more value the total bundle represents – successful funding makes it easier to attract more funding. Tell ‘em that Campaign Mastery sent you, and let’s see if we can get this project all the way to the $85K stretch for the biggest bang of all!
NB: Clicking on the link in the box will take you away from this site. If you don’t want to leave us (bless you!), you can use the text link above, which will open the kickstarter page in a new tab/window.
PS: I should probably add that I have no vested interest in this product, I’m not secretly one of the authors or anything like that. I’m not even a backer yet – though I hope to be by the time the funding window closes. I’m promoting this because it looks like an interesting project and a potentially valuable resource.