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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Vrock_Summoner's Avatar

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    Default Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    So I'm working on hacking together Fate Core for a setting based around supernatural hacking. The idea is that the characters send themselves to a sort of dark manifestation of mechanical connections, tentatively called the Undernet because I'm uncreative. At the beginning, they'll be able to affect the physical world only through more potent versions of what real-life hackers can already do - moving around digital finances, spreading classified information, shutting down other peoples' hardware, stuff like that, on top of their more unique abilities to deal directly with glitches, malware, and other such problems. I have it my mind, though, that over the course of the campaign, they'll slowly move up in the metaphysical ladder, first gaining more overtly supernatural levels of control over typical digital information networks, and then moving onto other electrical connection networks - for example, hacking people's bioelectrical networks to possess them, or hacking circuitry systems to control machines that can't normally be remotely operated.

    Then, due to the metaphysics of my world, the highest scale that can eventually be realized is hacking into stars and star systems, which allow control over planetary conditions and fate, respectively, but I've actually pretty much got the high end figured out. (And to call that level the "Epic level" equivalent would almost be an understatement, so I don't really need to worry about it to make the base setting function anyway.) It's all the steps leading up to it that I'm having a lot of trouble with.

    Because yeah, what I've got up there is pretty much all I've come up with that fits the theme of "hacking into non-digital information networks to affect the physical world." And I need a lot more ideas, because ideally I'll have different methods of affecting the physical world for people in the disparate hacking traditions (which I've called Languages because, as mentioned, I'm uncreative).

    Can you guys help me come up with some stuff?
    Last edited by Vrock_Summoner; 2016-12-29 at 06:01 PM.

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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    A hacker that can hack into digital things and brake or otherwise impair them, eventually can hack into people and deactivate nerves or shut down someone's limbs, etc.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    Can the hacking control networks where the information is a secondary function? For example, the pattern of car traffic could be thought of as a kind of network. Would it be possible to hack that and create an open path for a getaway?

    Or would that fall into controlling fate, thus only possible at the very top end?

    This is definitely a useful ability, but it seems like there are a few applications that totally overshadow the rest. Going up the scale:
    1) Super-hacking to give yourself lots of money / access / secret information.
    2) Hacking into systems that aren't connected to an external network, allowing you to get information that's otherwise impossible.
    3) Mind control by hacking brains.

    There's other tricks that are cool, like taking control of the computers in peoples cars during a chase scene, or being able to read letters without physically disturbing them, as the mail system is a kind of network. But they pale in comparison to the above, so it might be hard to have different Languages be significantly distinct.

    Maybe differentiate them by the method of performing the hack, rather than by the results. How does reality hacking work in this setting - a moment's concentration, a program that might take weeks to write and require a special machine to run it, or something in between?
    Last edited by icefractal; 2016-12-30 at 12:30 AM.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Can the hacking control networks where the information is a secondary function? For example, the pattern of car traffic could be thought of as a kind of network. Would it be possible to hack that and create an open path for a getaway?
    Hm... This is an interesting idea, but I'm not sure how abstract I want to get before the very high levels. Things that "could potentially be thought of as a network" encompasses a lot of what I imagine to be very end-of-the-line stuff; I mean, you could very easily envision social structures as networks, but aside from the usual ways that media can control a society, I'm not exactly comfortable with players being able to supernaturally control the entire fabric of peoples' relationships with one another across whole social hierarchies. At least, not until the late-game.

    Or would that fall into controlling fate, thus only possible at the very top end?
    That is a good question. I think perhaps controlling the flow of traffic could work at somewhere along the spectrum, though I'm not quite sure whether the networking here is through the people or through the cars... Or maybe both as a set of unified entities, come to think.

    This is definitely a useful ability, but it seems like there are a few applications that totally overshadow the rest. Going up the scale:
    1) Super-hacking to give yourself lots of money / access / secret information.
    While this is quite potent, it's also mostly a scaled-up version of regular hacking. Methodology might be very different, but such a base-level thing will not only be available to all super hackers, but relatively early on, too. Yes, I'm aware this will have a staggering impact on the shape of society as a whole.

    2) Hacking into systems that aren't connected to an external network, allowing you to get information that's otherwise impossible.
    Definitely a real possibility. Also potentially dangerous though - in a world where people can connect themselves into such systems, solitary systems might have extremely over-the-top defenses put in place to react to any sort of connection being established which wouldn't be practical to put on something that needs to stay connected. That's only for machines explicitly designed with hackers in mind, of course - only the truly paranoid are going to start looking for ways to put reactionary malware in their own brains, for instance...

    3) Mind control by hacking brains.
    Come to think of it, a good form of division for the traditions, assuming I don't give mind control to just one (since that's hard to balance other options against), might be specifying in which ways they're best at manipulating brains. Like, maybe one tradition focuses on motor control, and can only initiate one action at a time or their control can be resisted at first, and then as they get stronger it becomes more complete and slowly sheds weaknesses without ever becoming willing or unconscious, while another might control moods and opinions to manipulate people into doing what you like of their own accord... Something like that.

    There's other tricks that are cool, like taking control of the computers in peoples cars during a chase scene, or being able to read letters without physically disturbing them, as the mail system is a kind of network. But they pale in comparison to the above, so it might be hard to have different Languages be significantly distinct.
    Interesting ideas still, though!

    Maybe differentiate them by the method of performing the hack, rather than by the results. How does reality hacking work in this setting - a moment's concentration, a program that might take weeks to write and require a special machine to run it, or something in between?
    In this setting, in order to effectively use hacking superpowers, you must access the Undernet - this requires basically a supercomputer (which can be government-issued if you're some kind of agent, but are otherwise usually home-built), which you send part of your soul into to provide the super-abilities and, eventually, the access to non-digital connections. Through a mixture of the physical you semi-normal hacking and the Undernet you using powers to navigate whatever network you've plugged into, your Undernet self reaches the location that corresponds to whatever physical object or piece of code/information you're trying to manipulate. Then you use a supernatural program - which, yes, you likely spent weeks developing at some point, though they're rather general-purpose - to affect it in the Undernet, and the changes are reflected in the real world.

    So, for example, maybe you're looking for a heavily-encrypted password in order to bypass a very well-defended computer system. You already, at some point in the past, developed a general information-gathering super program that lets you copy a string of data you can perceive and send it back to your physical device. You go into the part of the Undernet corresponding to that device; you may need to physically access the device if it's not connected to any other network to infiltrate it from. The part of you in the Undernet uses other super-programs to force its way past the encryptions, any firewalls or special defenses, and perhaps glitches that are born from you damaging the code. Eventually, after digging around in the virtual world for a while, you find the physical representation of where the true password is stored, and use your aforementioned super program to send the info to your physical self back at the computer, who can now access the computer without further difficulty (aside from any you may have caused while recklessly smashing your way through data on the inside, depending on how subtle you are; remember, any damage you cause in the Undernet will be reflected on the actual machine).

    That's for most effective forms of hacking, anyway. As in real life, you can hack from far less advanced sorts of devices, like cell phones, and your powers can potentially provide a limited amount of aid while doing this, but the hardware isn't advanced enough to use most of your abilities through, so you can generally only do whatever normal type of hacking any person could do with the device, just more effectively.

    Edit: That might not have been the best example I could've chosen, since "finding a password" isn't the most supernatural thing to try to hack for, but I hope it at least helps you understand the process.
    Last edited by Vrock_Summoner; 2016-12-30 at 03:22 AM.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    Check out the RPG, Demon: the Descent - the PCs are techno-organic spirits that have been severed from the eldritch God-Machine that strives to keep the world in the dark, strange rut that it occupies. Many of their powers are in fact "backdoors" into reality's "code."

    While it obviously won't port over exactly for your needs, I bet you could get all kinds of cool inspiration there.
    It is inevitable, of course, that persons of epicurean refinement will in the course of eternity engage in dealings with those of... unsavory character. Record well any transactions made, and repay all favors promptly.. (Thanks to Gnomish Wanderer for the Toreador avatar! )

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    I'd imagine that a setting like this would need some bigger fish to keep the low-tier wizards hackers from destroying reality too much.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheCountAlucard View Post
    Check out the RPG, Demon: the Descent - the PCs are techno-organic spirits that have been severed from the eldritch God-Machine that strives to keep the world in the dark, strange rut that it occupies. Many of their powers are in fact "backdoors" into reality's "code."

    While it obviously won't port over exactly for your needs, I bet you could get all kinds of cool inspiration there.
    I am very definitely using Fate Core and my own work for this, but this sounds like something I could get a lot of inspiration from indeed! Thanks for the recommendation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slipperychicken View Post
    I'd imagine that a setting like this would need some bigger fish to keep the low-tier wizards hackers from destroying reality too much.
    Said bigger fish do indeed exist in several forms, but the biggest thing stopping hackers from destroying reality is that so few of them have significant command over it beyond the individual level. Hackers getting up even past the digital limit (which, mind you, still gives them a lot of influence, just not over reality as a whole) is so rare as to be relegated to significant figures within the hacking community... And, of course, PCs, eventually. Supernatural hackers in general are pretty uncommon, those who can break the digital limit are legends, and those who can perform outright physics-warping feats are just shy of unheard of. (Edit: Unless you consider controlling the flow of traffic physics-warping, since I guess that might be a thing. )

    Of course, I guess that depends on what conclusions I reach from other things in this thread. I'm still in the fletchling stages after all.
    Last edited by Vrock_Summoner; 2016-12-30 at 04:22 AM.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    Shadowrun. Technomancer.

    Alternatively:

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    You might want to map some things you can do with a computer or in computer games into the real world.

    For instance, how about cheat codes? A reality hack that makes your gun never run out of ammo or makes you indestructible.

    How about backup copies? A power that lets you duplicate something in the real world - a person, or money?

    Save your "game" (i.e. life) at a point where you're safe and you get to go back to that point if things go wrong. Maybe it can only be done at specific times or places (save points).

    Delete someone... or restore them. Deleted data is hard to completely remove.

    Reskinning? Make something or someone look like something completely different.

    Magical contracts, because no one ever reads the EULA.

    You're probably going to want to set limits on how much you can change things, or as people have previously mentioned have a sysadmin faction who oppose too much reality warping.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Hacking Reality - How Might Supernatural Hacking Affect the World?

    I'm gonna probably say nay to most of those. Not because they're bad ideas - they're actually pretty cool - but for narrative and structural purposes. Narratively, I'd like to emphasize the idea of networks and connections, as well as an overall dark tone, and I feel those would be hindered by adding video game elements. Structurally, one of the big "weaknesses" of hackers is supposed to be that at the end of the day, without the Undernet, they're pretty much just humans - you put a gun to one's head, they're probably just as much at risk as anybody else. So giving them ways to improve themselves so dramatically isn't something I'm entirely comfortable with.

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