Computer Use Skill

Computer Use (Int)
Use this skill to access computer systems and write or modify computer programs, to reprogram droids, and to override or bypass computer-controlled devices.

Check: Most normal computer operations (such as running a program) don’t require a skill check. However, conducting a complex search through numerous databases, writing computer programs to make complex calculations or manipulate data in specific ways, altering existing programs to perform differently (better or worse), and breaking through computer security are all relatively difficult and require skill checks.

Conduct Complex Search: Researching a topic on the HoloNet (or its equivalent in different eras) with a combination of search engines and a lot of site hits takes time, skill, and some luck. The GM determines how obscure a particular topic is (the more obscure, the higher the DC) and what kind of information might be available. In some cases, the GM might require that the character must break into a secure site before conducting a search to obtain certain kinds of information.

Information ranges from general to protected. For example, locating general information about a senator is easier than gathering specific information (such as the senator’s date of birth), which is easier than finding restricted information (such as the senator’s private comm channel code), which is easier than uncovering protected information (such as the senator’s cred stick code).

Type of Information DC
General 10
Specific 15
Restricted* 20
Protected* 25
*Usually requires a check to break into a site before a search can be made.

Write Program: The DC depends on the nature of the program and its purpose, ranging from 15 for simple programs (such as database or accounting applications) to 30 from complex programs (such as maintenance analysis applications or security protocol systems). Also see Digital Warfare.

Alter Programs: It’s generally easier to alter an existing program than to create a new one from scratch. The DC depends on what the alteration sets out to accomplish and whether or not the user wants his “tampering” to readily obvious.

Type of Alteration DC Time
Degrade program (apply a -4 penalty to skill checks using the system)1 10 1 minute
Upgrade program (apply a +2 circumstance bonus to skill checks for using the system; costs 200 credits) 15 1 hour
Reprogram droid2 10+ droid’s Int score 10 minutes
Wipe droid’s memory2 10 Special
Change passcodes 20 1 minute
Hide evidence of alteration +10 1 minute
Undo previous changes +5 1 hour
1Multiple alterations of the same type are not cumulative.
2See Droids for details.

Break Computer Security: Also called “slicing,” this application of Computer Use can’t be used untrained. In cases where the other user is actively combating the slicer’s efforts, a slicer has to beat an opposing computer user’s check result. In general, though, the DC is determined by the quality of the security program installed to defend the system. If the check fails by 10 or more, the security system immediately alerts its administrator that there has been an unauthorized entry.

Level of Security DC
Minimum 15
Average 25
Exceptional 30
Maximum 35

Operate Remote: Many devices – security cameras, communications arrays, door locks, sentry guns, alarms, and so forth – are computer-operated via remote links. A slicer can access these various systems and either shut them off, or change their operating parameters (to make Corporate Sector cameras identify CSA agents as enemies, for example, or to set an automated Imperial sentry gun to attack stormtroopers). If the check fails by 10 or more, the security system immediately alerts its administrator that there has been an unauthorized entry.

Type of Operation DC Time
Shut down passive remote (including cameras and door locks) 15 1 round per remote
Shut down active remote (including sentry guns and alarms) 20 1 round per remote
Reset parameters 25 1 round per remote
Change passcodes 20 1 minute
Hide evidence of alteration +10 1 minute

Ship Systems: On ships that require more than one operator, a character’s Computer Use skill is employed to determine the success of using sensors, weapons, and shields. Opposed checks are needed to overcome sensor or communications jamming. The better the check when operating sensors, the more detailed the information discovered. Note that sensors in the Star Wars universe are not miraculous divination machines. At best, they provide detection and identification assistance based on what can be seen, measured, and analyzed: the number of enemy vessels, the type of enemy vessels, the basic makeup of a planetary atmosphere, any visible obstacles, or dangers in the immediate vicinity, and so forth.

Shipboard Security: A ship’s internal security systems are capable of opening or shutting doors, activating or deactivating alarms, and so on. On most smaller ships, these functions are handled from the bridge or cockpit, although larger ships have dedicated security stations. Operating security systems from a designated post is easy (Computer Use, DC 10). Accessing them from other terminals on the ship may be possible, but it’s also more difficult (Computer Use DC 20). If two different characters are attempting to control security systems, they must make opposed Computer Use checks; anyone using a security station gains a +5 bonus.

Communications: Day-to-day communications tasks (hailing a nearby ship, using a subspace transceiver, accessing a hypertransceiver, contacting an individual comlink, and so) are accomplished with a Computer Use check (DC 10). The same check can be used to send recording messages automatically at certain times or under preset conditions that a ship’s sensors can identify (such as automatically sending a distress call when a ship’s shields are destroyed). HoloNet transceivers are much more complicated devices, requiring a Computer Use check (DC 15) to accomplish these same tasks (although their effective range is unlimited).

A HoloNet transceiver can also be sued to search for specific information that may be available somewhere on the HoloNet. This generally takes 1d6 hours and requires a Computer Use check. The DC depends on the kind of information desired, as determined below. A GM may decide that some information was never put on the HoloNet (such as the details of Yuuzhan Vong technology) and is thus impossible to find.

Information Is: DC
Common, known by a majority of sentient beings in the galaxy 15
Uncommon, but known by most experts within the appropriate field of study 25
Obscure, known only by a few specialists or scholars 30
Extremely obscure, likely never known by anyone who understood its significance 35
Secret military, financial, or technological knowledge +10

Scramble Communications: Computer Use can be used to establish scrambled communications. This is done with opposed Computer Use checks between the person sending the message and anyone attempting to intercept or unscramble it. The superior quality of a hypertransceiver gives a +2 circumstance bonus on such checks; a HoloNet transceiver gives a +4 circumstance bonus.

Cover Tracks: A slicer illegally accessing a computer system can conceal his involvement by altering the system’s usage records. By making a Computer Use check (DC 20), you can alter your own identifying information. This imposes a -5 penalty on any attempt made to identify you should your activities be detected, even after the fact.

Clarification on Gaining Access: Though much slicing is performed via the HoloNet or similar communications network, not all computer systems throughout the galaxy are linked to the communications network at large. Those seeking access to a given computer system have two options: physical and remote access.

Physical access requires a computer interface (generally a monitor and some sort of control system, such as a keyboard) physically attached to the system. In some cases, the computer interface is already on site; at other times, the slicer may need to connect to the network through a designated access jack. Getting to the interface might force the slicer to sneak into a person’s office or tap into a network junction somewhere on site. Accessing the system in this way could require Bluff or Disable Device checks to gain entry, Repair or Disable Device checks to work on the network junction, and a variety of other skills, before the first Computer Use check on the system can be attempted.

Remote access requires two Computer Use checks. The first check (DC 10) is needed to locate the site on the network. The second is a check to break computer security (as outlined above). Once you’ve succeeded with both checks, you’ve accessed the site and may begin conducting searches, writing or altering programs, or operating associated remotes.

Special: You can take 10 when using the Computer Use skill. In cases that don’t involve a penalty for failure, you can take 20.

A character with the Gearhead feat gets a +2 aptitude bonus on Computer Use checks.

Time: Computer Use requires at least a full-round action. The GM may determine that some tasks require several rounds, a few minutes, or longer, as described above.

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