Star Log.EM: Hacker Options (SFRPG)
This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, as often with the series, we begin with some notes on the ever-expanding lore of the Xa-Osoro system before we dive into the new mechanics – these would be three mechanic tricks, the first of which would be the 2nd level trick Glitch Item. As a standard action, you can upload a virus into a touched item, requiring a Computers check (DC based on 15 + 1.5 times the item’s level); carried items require a touch attack versus EAC. If you have wireless hack, you can do so at short range; on a success, the item gains the glitched condition for 1d4 rounds, +1 round for every point by which you exceeded the Computers check. Thankfully, there is a caveat that makes an item immune for 24 hours to the condition after targeting, preventing lockdown exploits. At 6th level, you can spend 1 Resolve Point to bypass this, attempting to target the item again.
But wait, was is that “glitched” condition? Items that are glitched don’t work properly. An item may make a Fortitude save at the start of each round to shake off the condition, using either its item level or the wearer/wielder’s Fortitude save, whichever is higher. On a failure, the item takes a penalty governed by item type, and an Engineering check can determine whether an item is glitching. Armor increases its armor check penalty and decreases maximum Dexterity bonus, while also imposing a negative speed adjustment. Augmentations can’t be activated or provide no benefits and same goes for computers or technological items. Vehicles lose access to special systems and become uncontrolled, though a pilot may attempt to counteract that with Piloting. Weapons take a -4 penalty to atk, save DCs of critical effects and special properties, if any. Interesting: This penalty doubles on natural 20s to determine critical hits – analog weapons are immune – nice catch! Tiny nitpick of a purely cosmetic nature – while it is apparent from context, archaic weapons should be exempt here as well; while most archaic weapons implicitly are analog as well, this RAW does not necessarily have to be the case. There is another component here that GMs should be aware of, namely that RAW, the combination of wireless hack and augmentations etc. allows for the targeting of potentially vital systems to maintain the life of targets – since wireless hack does not require line of sight, this may be relevant. Personally, I actually like this component for once, as it simply makes sense to me, and there is still a save. Still, it’s something to potentially bear in mind as a component that needs to be observed closely.
The pdf also features two 8th level mechanic tricks, both of which require the glitch item trick as a prerequisite. The first allows you to substitute inflicting the glitched condition for your regular critical effect, and the second is unique: When glitching weapons and exceeding the DC by 5 or more, you may cause the weapon if it misses by 5 or more to ricochet into a nearby creature instead. This accounts for the differences between melee and ranged weapons, and even AoE weapon effects properly, and as a reaction, you can spend 1 Resolve Point when using glitch item to improve the effects as per this trick. Interesting!
The rest of the pdf is taken up by the magelock spell, though one should probably instead call it “spells” – it is available for technomancers at spell levels 1 – 6, and lock out special abilities behind mental firewalls. This spell-group is very interesting, in that it allows you to prevent the use of anything from racial features to themes to spells or SPs. The unique component here would be that the pdf, for one, does account for class features that have a representation in the game world (such as drones), makes the level-based scaling matter, etc. – it also RAW does not eliminate prerequisite-used features or feats – the respective ability is locked down, but RAW, the follow-up abilities are not. While the respective and pretty detailed spell level notes seem feasible, a kneejerk reaction to this spell would be to consider it OP, but the option affected is random, UNLESS you have previously identified an ability of the target. In short: The power of this spell is utterly contingent on the PC’s roleplaying and how well they do their leg-work – and that is a design-paradigm I can get behind!
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules language level, apart from a who’s/whose glitch, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has a nice artwork, penned in Jacob Blackmon’s signature style. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Alexander Augunas and Sasha Hall provide a surprisingly fun and impactful Star log.EM this time around; if there is one thing to complain about here, then that would be that the concept and condition would have deserved a Star Log.DELUXE-sized installment to realize their full potential. As provided, this is a tantalizing glimpse of a cool mechanic, one that, while potent, is tied in a way I absolutely love to the notion of rewarding good roleplay, as opposed to simply providing numerical boosts. The fact that every very potent use herein is, to a degree, linked to doing the right investigative things is a big plus for me. As such, this does receive a final verdict of 5 stars. Can I haz moar?
You can get this Star Log here on OBS!
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