System Gaps: Modern / Information Age

This post is more of a “soliciting feedback based on everyone’s experience” thing than it is a comprehensive list, so PLEASE throw your hat in the ring.

I’ve been writing up a “Computer Hacker” character with a very high Logic score. The character is meant to be modern, so there isn’t much of a “Sci Fi” futuristic weaponized tech th

I’ve got some cool things for the character like “Scrying” to represent the ability to hack city cameras and view targets from afar, but I’ve not yet come up with a good way for the character to do damage (at least not in a Modern setting).

I’m happy for people to make suggestions to solve my problem, but I’d also like this thread to be a collection of the ways in which we’ve found in Modern / Information Age storylines that the rules don’t work great. Granted, I already know this is the weakest area so that’s why I’m starting with this first, but just pile on your “Modern / Information Age Stories Don’t Work Well Because of X, Y, Z” examples so we can keep them in one place.

Thanks folks :heart_eyes:


@brianfeister Are you wanting the “hacking” to deal damage? Is this a Shadowrun style game where everything is wireless and you can “brick” equipment with a good hacking roll? Is it like The Matrix where there is a “real world” and a “virtual world”?

1 Like

Not really sure honestly, I’m open to anything. Just trying to find a way that feels fairly congruous with “modern”. I suppose Shadowrun probably is the best example, but I think their technological story concepts are probably a bit too outdated to borrow from.

1 Like

I think “damage” is going to be hard to accomplish. Maybe Energy (frying electronics to shock enemies with the sparks).

A more interesting take would be to use Influence, especially if wireless items, or cybernetics/bionics/VR are available. Using Hallucination and Invisibility to “spoof” enemy cameras and hardware, Disarmed (jamming weapons systems, placing them on a software safety lock), Stunned (overloading headphones with noise, turning off eyewear) Blindness (again, the eyewear thingy), Immobilize (freezing any moving pieces, locking joints on some power armor), Charm (causing weapons to go off on their own, remotely controlling machines and gun turrets) etc.

When it comes to hacking, I think the exclusive use of Banes and Boons would be more the order of the day, requiring player/character creativity to best enemies that you can’t physically damage.


For actual damage, I would throw in the stipulation you can only hurt beings with cybernetic/bionic enhancements (causing biofeedback and shorting out, overheating to cook flesh), or to hurt creatures in some sort of virtual reality setting.

You could damage their bank account, or reputation, but would be hard to do physical a damage from pure hacking unless you took angles like overriding an elevator (see I’m bilingual), or cutting off an air supply to a sealed building etc. But those are options I suppose.

Seems like they would be very much a “tech support” character (Rimshot) focusing on scouting and buff/debuffs like the above examples. I would go more like Oracle (Batman) and less shadowruny.

Although in OL health isn’t tied directly to physical damage. It’s more the will to go on fighting, so draining a crooks bank account in front of him would be pretty damaging.

Hundreds more damage options open up if the character is evil. Hospitals need power.

One cool thing that can reasonably be used in a modern setting that couldn’t have been 10 years ago is the use of drones. This could play nicely with a hacker character. You could reduce HP a couple of ways using drones, off the top of my head (obviously there are more if you’re creative):

  • You have a pre-modified fleet of drones. These can be equipped with weaponry, because people are pretty resourceful when it comes to modding drones. This allows for you to shoot at people or whatever.
  • You take over nearby drones (there are probably a few in any urban area) and use them to dive at enemies. They don’t have to necessarily make contact in order to deal damage because damage isn’t necessarily a physical thing. These drones would be considered more expendable, because they aren’t yours.

I totally forgot drones @Carl!!!

1 Like

Wow, I did too! Well there is that problem solved.

You’re playing right into Skynet’s hand!

Seriously, though, I’m typically a fantasy gamer, but it seems to me drones are a game changer for modern settings (pun fully intended).

1 Like

I think you have a great list here. These are a lot of great ways that Extraordinary attributes could be used to apply Boons/Banes to the environment!

Drones were a game-changer for me with this character type. Someone tipped me to them and they made a lot of sense for a hacker/rigger character in combat!

1 Like

This is excellent @Carl, you’re a life-saver. I can’t believe I forgot that we actually have these already. So weird how things sort of very gradually and slowly make their way into the mainstream.


You could also use RC cars. Thinking of Watch Dogs 2 video game. Would Logic would be your damaging roll/attack roll i suppose. Could have like a Cellphone or device that he carries around to access and hack and such.

Could you do like a army of drones in the form of Summon creatures. or would it have to be another way?


You could probably take it either way. You could have your one special drone via the companion feat OR you could go the route of the batman utility belt and be able to use a bunch of different, but weaker drones.

Also, things like stun guns and EM grenades seem pretty applicable. Maybe take inspiration from “Splinter Cell” as far as combat engagements go.

1 Like

A hacker character will need Learning to keep up with the new countermeasures and locate exploits in code for whatever systems they are hacking.

To get malware into systems they need to persuade people to bring it into their own systems, and past antivirus software. The character needs Persuasion to make them think they really want to install malware. The Influence extraordinary attribute would work well to further cement the idea they need to put the malware where it needs for the hacker to succeed, and then perhaps even forget they did it so that when the system starts acting funny they don’t think anything of it.

Hope this helps,
Monchkrit Bashlan

1 Like

In a modern information age setting, the prospect of hacking/spoofing someones digital life could pose a serious mental threat. I could see a hacker applying demoralized bane or others that target resolve. Someone seeing shopped photos of them being spread on social media could really throw some people into a stunned condition.

If we are talking GitS level tech, then direct damage to anyone with cyber enhancements is an easy connection to make. As long as they have some sort of tech on them with a battery, could always explain it as overloading or cooking things to the point that they cause physical Damage. Call it a samsung attack.

But in today’s world or in a physical match up, direct hacking wouldn’t really translate well to such a combat situation. Then you’re looking more toward gizmo solutions or explanations for dealing damage. But then again a seriously powerful hacker being a bit inept in the physical world makes some thematic sense.


Remember that “damage” is the ability to fight as it is actual damage.

In this setting I could see you reducing someone’s ability to fight by hacking in several ways:

Distracting malfunctions in their hardware
False data feeds to their sensors
Jamming sensors with light or EMF.
“Bricking” hardware. You project the current trend of “Internet of Things” and you know guns, power armor, and other equipment are going to have networking built in for their own use.


Also equipment and technology builds could do damage like homemade bombs or tasers. I also like the idea of an EMP style weapon that could shut down tech

1 Like