Computer Use Skill - in Future Players Companion

Future Player’s Companion: Tomorrow’s Foundation (p.20)

Computer Use (Int)
The Computer Use skill allows characters to interface normally with well-known computer systems.

False Sensor Reading: This use of the Computer Use skill allows the character to modify ship, vehicle, mecha, or personal sensors in order to generate false sensor readings. This can be done in two ways: reprogramming the sensors that the character wishes to give false readings, or using sensors to broadcast a false sensor profile so that other sensors produce incorrect readings. Either method may be used as a full-round action. In order to alter a sensor system to produce false readings whenever it is used, the character need only make a normal Computer Use check (using any modifiers to the DC that would normally factor into a check on a standard computer system) to alter the sensor’s programming. Once the check is made, the character may determine whether or not the sensors provide exaggerated results (detecting small starfighters as massive capital ships, sensing high levels of radiation where the radiation levels are low, etc.), understated results (detecting clean air where there are toxic gases, detecting a small scout fighter where there is a heavy cruiser, etc.), or no results at all. Suspicious characters may recalibrate the sensors by making a Computer Use check of their own, with a DC equal to the Computer Use check of the original character who altered the sensors.
The second method of creating a false sensor profile uses an existing sensor array to broadcast false readings so that any attempts to scan the starship, mecha, character, etc. made by other sensors produce inaccurate results. The character may then make a Computer Use check to alter the sensor profile in order to produce false readings; the base DC for this check is 15, modified by the following factors:
Condition DC Modifier
Desired results indicate target is drastically larger/smaller + 5 per size category
Desired results indicate greater/lesser armament + 1 per weapon or defensive system
Desired results indicate different composition or construction + 5
Desired results indicate more/fewer life forms aboard (ships, mecha, vehicles) + 1 per life form

Interface with Alien Computers: Since human contact with alien species will inevitably lead to the need to interface technologies, this use of the Computer Use skill allows a character to connect the computer systems of two different species together. Since most forms of technology use some form of energy pulses (magnetic, electrical, or even gravitybased) in order to power their computers, connecting two normally incompatible computer systems is simply a matter of finding a way to translate these impulses between the two computer systems. This can be done as a full-round action (check DC 20) if the character is already knowledgeable about how to create such a translation, and when successful the character may use his own native technology in order to interface with the alien computer system as though it were completely compatible with his own.
For example, a human encountering a computer system aboard a starship belonging to a known alien species might make this Computer Use check to connect his laptop computer to the ship’s computer, after which he may then perform any standard uses of the Computer Use skill on the alien ship’s computer as though it were a standard human computer system. Note that the above use, requiring simply a full-round action, applies only to alien computer systems with which the character (or, at least his culture) is marginally familiar. When encountering a computer system belonging to an unfamiliar alien species, the character must spend several days studying the alien computer system before he may interface his own technology with it. The number of days required to do so is equal to 30 days minus the number of ranks the character has in the Computer Use skill. For example, a character with 10 ranks in the Computer Use skill must spend 20 days studying the alien computer system (30 – 10 ranks = 20) before he may interface his own computer with the alien system as described in the above paragraph. Gamemasters may adjust this time based on how alien the technology is and the frequency with which the character’s culture encounters alien technology.

Lock Workstation: This application of the Computer Use skill allows a character to lock a particular computer or network into performing the same task without interruption. This is similar in many ways to the Crash Computer aspect of the skill, but differs in a few fundamental ways. First, the computer does not actually cease to function, and instead continues to perform a single task uninterrupted. Second, the character using this application of the skill may select a single task which the computer performs until deactivated. Third, anyone else attempting to use the computer that has been locked into a task will find themselves unable to access the computer at all, despite the fact that it continues to function.
This use of the skill requires a full-round action and a Computer Use check (DC 25) to initiate. The character declares what action he wants the computer to continually perform (sound an alarm, deactivate sensors, transmit vulgar text messages to nearby communications devices, etc.) and then the computer continues to perform that task until it is deactivated or until the character that locked the workstation commands it to cease. Note that whatever action the user tells the computer to repeatedly perform must be one that the character would normally be able to do (and Gamemasters are encouraged to have the character make this skill check before setting the computer to its task). Another character may break through this lock by making a Computer Use check equal to the final result of the Computer Use check that locked the workstation in the first place.

Power Up/Power Down System: When aboard a vehicle, starship, mecha, or space station, a character in control of the central computer may use the Computer Use skill to siphon power away from or send power to certain systems. With a simple Computer Use check (DC 20) the character may deactivate any one system (such as shields, life support, engines, weapons, etc.) as a move action. If successful, that system immediately ceases to function until it is powered up again. Powering up a system is also a Computer Use check (DC 20) that can be performed as a move action.

Reprogram Robot Friend-or-Foe Subroutine: Altering a robot’s attitude toward a certain individual or group is similar in many respects to altering an NPC’s attitude (as defined under the Diplomacy skill). Rather than using the Diplomacy skill to reason with the robot, you may simply bypass this process and use Computer Use to change the robot’s base programming. The DC for changing the robot’s attitude is based on the nature of the attitude shift. The Computer Use DC is calculated by adding 10 to the Diplomacy check DC for the equivalent attitude change.

— — — — — — — — — New Attitude
Initial Attitude — Hostile — Unfriendly — Indifferent — Friendly — Helpful
Hostile…….. — 30 — 35 — 45 — 55
Unfriendly.. — 15 — 25 — 35 — 45
Indifferent.. — N/A — 11 — 25 — 35
Friendly…… — N/A — N/A — 11 — 25
The advantage of using this method over simply using Diplomacy against the NPC robot is that henceforth, regardless of the circumstances, the robot will treat you with the same attitude that you have just programmed it with. Additionally, you can alter the robot’s attitude toward other characters and groups as well, using the robot’s base attitude toward that group to determine the check DC. The time taken to perform this use of the skill is equal to the check’s DC × 1 minute.
Condition DC Modifier Robot is unfriendly toward you + 5 Robot is hostile toward you + 10 Reprogram Robot Task Routine: Reprogramming a robot to perform a very specific task involves restructuring the robot’s logic protocols. You can program a robot with a single command at a time, combining individual commands to perform more complex tasks as needed. The base DC for this check is 10 + the robot’s Intelligence modifier, and requires 1 round per command. Consult the following table to determine any modifiers to the Computer Use check DC.
Command DC Modifier
Command endangers the robot + 10
Command endangers friends, allies, or owners of the robot + 5
Command violates other programming directives + 15
For example, programming a security robot (Intelligence 10) to look away from where the party is sneaking into the building for 5 minutes has a DC of 25 (10 + 15 for violating other programming directives, in this case to monitor the people entering the building). Commanding that same security robot to look away for 5 minutes, then to walk up to the door and bar anyone from entering requires 2 checks, each at DC 25. Commanding that the robot look away for 5 minutes, bar the door, allow the party to leave, then blow the door up with explosives requires 4 checks (DC 25 for the first three, and then DC 40 for the final check).

Use Alien Computers: Though technically not a new use for a skill, using alien computer systems can be somewhat problematic due to different interfaces and operating systems. Any attempt to use an alien computer system with which you are not explicitly familiar adds a + 10 penalty to the DC of any Computer Use checks. This penalty is reduced to + 5 if you possess the appropriate Read/Write Language skill for that particular alien computer system.

Computer Use Skill - in Future Players Companion

d20 Future: CODEX GALACTICA Galero