Page 631 - Hacking Skills, Part 1

8th Aug 2015, 6:00 AM in Intermission 6
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Hacking Skills, Part 1
Average Rating: 5 (3 votes)
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 8th Aug 2015, 6:00 AM edit delete
Author: Digo

Guest Author's Note: I love post-apocalyptic settings. You have to conserve resources, think on your feet, and every abandoned building becomes a potential multi-story dungeon full of wonderful loot. Who doesn't love loot? I think the best part of gaining those riches is the effort you had to invest for it, whether it involved an intricate puzzle or a real nail-biting boss encounter. What's the most interesting effort you've had to put forth to get a hold of the treasure?

Newbiespud's Note: I'll cop to this one being a completely true story. I hope this will sate some of you who are missing the wasteland because we're still doing Mawlers Take Manehattan.
Session 7 - Cute-ceañera Conclusion: Libsyn YouTube

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



MuffinMark 8th Aug 2015, 6:02 AM edit delete reply
To be fair, it is referred to as technological wizardry.
FanOfMostEverything 8th Aug 2015, 9:07 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, but it's the same logic as saying you'd need to roll Nature if it were solar-powered.
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 9:18 AM edit delete reply
A friend of mine (he doesn't follow the Fallout is Dragons podcast) came up with a pretty decent explanation of Arcana to work computers in the Maw:

Computers, running on mana energy, are also 'Arcane Locked' by magic for protection. Thus, hacking them requires unbinding the magical protection without breaking the magic that powers the machine.

It's like using the spell 'Knock' in D&D, but for a magic lock. I found his theory to be decent for an explanation, so I headcanon'd it.
Dragonflight 8th Aug 2015, 11:01 AM edit delete reply
I've always preferred the explanation in an episode of Gargoyles, way back when. "Energy is energy, whether created magically or technologically."
alphysicist 8th Aug 2015, 10:54 PM edit delete reply
My theory: the hardware may be electronics and stuff, but the software is in fact a standing magic spell.
Draxynnic 9th Aug 2015, 7:41 AM edit delete reply
Alternatively: This is the first hint in the universe that magic is essentially hacking reality!

Hacking a computer is easier, except that reality uses a different language to computers and most mages won't be fluent in programming, thus incurring a heft circumstance penalty. The basic skills, though, are the same.
Digo 9th Aug 2015, 10:36 AM edit delete reply
That's an interesting one!
Dragonflight 9th Aug 2015, 2:42 PM edit delete reply
You might check out the Well World series by Jack Chalker. The theory is that an ancient race of beings built a supercomputer capable of running a super-sophisticated program which can drive a universe.

In that story line, our universe is a lot smaller, and has a lot less in it when the aliens existed. But their machine allowed it to add tons more galaxies and mass to it. But only while the computer runs. So it has to run forever. And when it breaks down, a caretaker has to go in and press the reset button. Entire wars are fought on the Well World to prevent the caretaker, Nathan Brazil, from doing so, because when the reset is pressed, and the universe is rebooted, the only source of available biomatter to replenish everything again are the races living on the Well World. And they don't want that.

There's two series in this, the first dealing with the standard reboot crisis, and the second dealing with Brazil and his friends from the first series having to face the inevitable truth of the Well World computer: Eventually, the program gets so complex that it crashes. If they don't find a solution, they'll be restarting the program forever. Something's gotta change. And that series explores this as the war to get to the Well World's access lock intensifies all over again.
ANW 8th Aug 2015, 6:03 AM edit delete reply
Story Time
Has that ever happened to you?
You know you roll one stat, but it turns out to be a different stat altogether.
Winged Cat 8th Aug 2015, 12:50 PM edit delete reply
The danger and joy of playing an Armstrong (FMA, not Metal Gear) expy: using Strength instead of Charisma for all purposes, after not using Charisma as a dump stat (though if I had, the GM likely would not have allowed it).
Someone 11th Aug 2015, 4:46 AM edit delete reply
Ugh... Thank you for remigning me that MGR exists...
Mykin 8th Aug 2015, 6:05 AM edit delete reply
Ah, the weird logic behind the science of Fallout: Equestria. I'm glad I don't have to deal with that in my FO:E game. Though I doubt it would matter if we did have to deal with that: Both our tech guys happen to be unicorns with high magic skills anyway (of which I play one).

Also, nice artwork Digo. I wish I could draw that well. :P
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 6:18 AM edit delete reply
Both techies are unicorns? Well that works out. :D
What system are you using in your game?

And thanks on the compliment for the art. I get nervous drawing comics completely in pencils, not sure if what I have is "legible" to other viewers.
Zuche 8th Aug 2015, 7:41 AM edit delete reply
Very legible, though I admit the urge to reach for coloured pencils. That's not criticism, by the way. I used to do the same with my D&D books back in high school, and this made me nostalgic for the 1E DMG.
Mykin 8th Aug 2015, 3:17 PM edit delete reply
Well, Dr. Bellfruit is more a medical pony than techie really. So it would just be my Astral Blaze that's the real tech pony in the game (and also our resident "Wild Wasteland" pony. It's been fun acting indignant with some of the absurd things that have happened lately). But yet they both have high science skills so it's a mute point I guess.

As for game system, it's a heavily modified version of this system (I'd link the actual rulebook we use, but I'm not sure if my GM would like that, so *shrug*). It's been entertaining so far to play a session and then get informed as to what will be on the chopping block for changes before the next session comes around. Magic already got reworked for the most part and I think movement is next on his list.

As for the art, it's legible so your good there. I'd probably draw out my comics as well if I wasn't so nervous about my artwork (to the point where my avatar is really the only place I feel comfortable showing anything off). You have motivated me to try to shake that off and give it a try next time around, though, so I guess I better get to work on that.
Magnaliscious 8th Aug 2015, 10:19 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject 9th Aug 2015, 10:45 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
Blessed is the machine.
Evilbob 8th Aug 2015, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
That's definitely a problem with the FO:E universe: unclear skill application due to the interweaved stuff. I would argue that the the Science skill and the Arcana skill is one and the same. They're both the pursuit of understanding of the universe. But bleh.
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 1:17 PM edit delete reply
I've been working on using d20 Modern as the base for a Fallout Equestria campaign and it does skills a little better. Downside is having to balance the different races. Upside, easy to just cherry pick stuff off existing official d20 races that I can make it at least pretend they're balanced. ;)
Evilbob 8th Aug 2015, 12:31 PM edit delete reply
That's definitely a problem with the FO:E universe: unclear skill application due to the interweaved stuff. I would argue that the the Science skill and the Arcana skill is one and the same. They're both the pursuit of understanding of the universe. But bleh.
Kkat 16th Aug 2015, 8:33 AM edit delete reply
In the tabletop roleplaying system that I was involved in creating, Science was described as covering "both mundane and arcane sciences".
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 6:14 AM edit delete reply
I did a Kermit spaz dance seeing this one popup today. I didn't expect to lead the guest comic pack. I feel honored. ^^;

Loot-wise, I had an experience where the GM of a D&D game had a town attacked by literal flying monkeys. We had a big map of the town laid out on a foam-board and the GM used push pins to indicate where everyone was.

The awesome part was that the flying monkeys were wearing the loot! Some had pieces or armor, some had weapons, and a few others were using magic wands and such. So to get the loot we wanted, we had to fight the monkeys that were using them against the town (and us!). Having to fight in the streets, using the buildings for cover or to climb up in order to reach a monkey, and saving the townsfolk made for a very interesting encounter.
Newbiespud 8th Aug 2015, 8:46 AM edit delete reply
You were pretty much the first one to deliver, so... yeah.
The Old One 8th Aug 2015, 10:27 AM edit delete reply
Fine, fine work, mate.

I'd figure the technomage that used the thing would rig it so its operating system worked like spell formulae instead of conventional binary (because MAGIC!!!!!).
It would also be effective as a security system, since only another magicker would understand it, thus no mundane tech could crack it.

And if that wasn't the explanation, i would pelt my gm with cheetos for damnable foolishness, raise my arcane skill to truly abusive heights, and find or create a spell to magically power anything......

"Make your attack roll. You have a unfamiliarity penalty"

"Ah, but I'm powering my newfound fusion obliterator with my Arcane Battery spell. That makes it magically powered, therefore i should roll my arcane skill!"


"Remember that MAGICALLY POWERED computer?"


"Aaaaaaaaand 42 to hit, with 104 points of fire, radiation, and energy damage"
Digo 9th Aug 2015, 10:38 AM edit delete reply
I'm now thinking of ideas on how to make an automatic Cheetos pelter.
MWS 8th Aug 2015, 11:39 AM edit delete reply
Regarding the flying monkeys (I don't think I've ever typed that exact combination of letters): It always bugged me when you had things like guards using standard iron-tipped spears and leather armor to defend +2 swords and masterwork half-plate from theft.

Never played many games in the "kill stuff and take their treasure" mold, as I couldn't take them seriously.
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 1:18 PM edit delete reply
It was really hard to take flying monkeys seriously, but hey, loot is loot, right? I played along for the fun of it and it was pretty enjoyable. :D
Disloyal Subject 9th Aug 2015, 10:52 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
I've never known a game to work that way. Most magical loot I (or my players, when I'm DMing) find has to be pried or occasionally unbolted from the steaming freshly-dead carcass of its former owner.
The exception being stuff that's useless to monsters without the right alignment or class features, like a Chaos Diamond in a Lawful vampire wizard's lair.
Specter 8th Aug 2015, 8:16 AM edit delete reply
Doors, the bane of everyone, cause there will be one door that requires the check no one can make. What ever happened to when a simple pushing of the door was all you needed?
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 9:12 AM edit delete reply
Haha, that is so how I play Skyrim (right down to the khajiit sneak)
terrycloth 8th Aug 2015, 9:29 AM edit delete reply
Our party always carried a 'warrior's lockpick' if we could find one. Basically, anything made out of admantium. It ignored hardness, so you could eventually chip through anything.

It's even stealthy if you have someone who can cast Silence.
Draxynnic 9th Aug 2015, 7:45 AM edit delete reply
Until some GM comes up with the idea of hitting you with a magically reinforced adamantium barrier. Adamantium only ignores so much hardness...
The Old One 8th Aug 2015, 10:41 AM edit delete reply
My party *hates* doors. They are our bane.

We were in a castle that had flooded and so every door in the place had swollen with water (and this is why you don't build castles on floodplains). We had to wrestle with every single door in the place, and it was all strength checks. Eventually our barbarian got fed up and tried to hack a door down. Crit fail and his axe bounced off the door and hit him.

We hate doors. Hate them
Winged Cat 8th Aug 2015, 12:56 PM edit delete reply
I recall a party that used doors as ranged weapons: bash them in hard enough to inflict damage on any hostiles inside (and in those dungeons there were never any friendlies except for replacement PCs). Managed to disrupt a summoning once, resulting in death of summoner and demon before initiative could be rolled.
Disloyal Subject 9th Aug 2015, 10:57 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
I've noticed a trend with my current GM: unlocked doors.
We almost never even consider that the door might be unlocked. We just tear it out of the wall and chuck it at the nearest daemon.
Space Marines can do that, but back when I was playing a human (same GM, different group) we nearly wasted some rather expensive high explosives blasting open a beautifully crafted door before the grizzled old man of the team tried the handle.
daftdeafdave 8th Aug 2015, 11:32 AM edit delete reply
If it's DnD you're playing going through the wall is frequently a better bet.
MWS 8th Aug 2015, 11:42 AM edit delete reply
If it's AD&D 2nd edition, you'll be in trouble, because the wall might be a disguised monster.

Of course, so might the door. And the ceiling. And the floor. And the treasure.
daftdeafdave 8th Aug 2015, 11:56 AM edit delete reply
2nd edition - Don't leave your house, or stay in your house, or do anything else for that matter. EVERYTHING is trying to kill you.
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 1:20 PM edit delete reply
There is a reason why one player long ago in my old group loved to use Disintegrate and Fireball to check doors for traps. ^^;

I both hated and loved that she was as genre savvy as she was. Would make AJ's player proud.
zorro362 10th Aug 2015, 6:56 AM edit delete reply
My group has a simmilar thing about staying at inns. It is a long running joke in our group that we are safer resting in the middle of the enemy strong hold, than we are resting at an inn.
seriously, 9 times out of 10 something bad will happen when we stay at an inn.
its to the point we don't even go to bars looking for info anymore.
Digo 11th Aug 2015, 4:47 AM edit delete reply
In one D&D campaign the party raised the money to buy a run down building in one town to set up their own tavern. They put up various loot and trophies from defeated enemies as a rogue's gallery to decorate the place.

Was really nice and they actually took pride in it. We dedicated an entire episode to hiring staff for the tavern and the players had fun RPing interviews.
daftdeafdave 8th Aug 2015, 11:52 AM edit delete reply
My favourite loot-based story happened to me during a space pirate 1 shot game. My character was sneaking about while everyone else was distracted in a bar brawl with ninjas and happened across a room with a printing press and mountains of newly minted banknotes. Being a theivish piratey type I decided to avail myself of them. The DM says there is far more there than I can feasibly carry and has me roll strength to see how much I can take. As a dex based character I wasn't expecting to get much, but fate smiled on me with a critical success. The DM says I take all of it. All of the "infeasibly more than any one person can carry" in high denomination banknotes. I just get a piece of paper with "as much cash as you need" written on it to put besides my character sheet.

For the rest of the game I am carrying so much money it functions as light armour. I am leaving a trail of bills behind me wherever I go. I feel like I have won the rogue Olympics. Naturally I stick to the plot of the game even though it has the party seeking a hidden pirate treasure - I'd find a way to carry more cash somehow God-dammit!
DallyDaydream 8th Aug 2015, 12:06 PM edit delete reply
Ah, the arcana vs mechanics debate. I remember it well. See this is why I decided to have Flotsam pick up Xencarn's magic skills. :P

Digo, I had no idea you were so good at drawing! I love it, especially the character designs. Talk about setting a high bar for this guest comic run!
Digo 8th Aug 2015, 1:25 PM edit delete reply
Aww, thanks. ^^; Yeah I have a pretty long history of drawing. I put a lot of pony art up on DA (account: digoraccoon), including some colored work of the above characters.

Though the guest comic is exclusively here, so no spoilers. ;)
j-eagle12212012 10th Aug 2015, 5:39 PM edit delete reply
Wow you do some great work, I also noticed we share an appreciation of The Great and Powerful Trixie. I started following your tumblr Outlaw mares and submitted a question ^_^
j-eagle12212012 8th Aug 2015, 12:08 PM edit delete reply
The fact that I just started listening to fallout is dragons I read the part about science in Dr Javolts voice
Xelmon 8th Aug 2015, 1:22 PM edit delete reply
@ Digo:
I gotta say it's finding a druid and dragon-borne books because let's face it, we never **ever** get more than one 20+ check at a time, and 3 in a row was magnificent.

Campaign, small hallway with 3 rooms. I break into them and we search through. 2nd room actually had searchables in it, like a drawer and shelves. Fellow Wizard and myself as a Rogue are searching the room.

Rogue: Ai'ght, roll to search room. <rolls>

DM: That's a... [20+], sweet, wizard?

Wizard: Oh, yeah! ... <rolls>

DM: Cool, [20+], now, Rogue, do another roll.

Rogue: Uh... Okie-dokie! <rolls>

You guys looks through the room, and Rogue finds a small latch mechanism on the drawer bottom of the drawer. With a nimble flick a hidden drawer comes out revealing a large green/tan tome. With a brief look-over by the Rogue, he can identify it as as an ancient tome of Druids.
As the wizard rummages through the piles of dirt and dust, he too notices something in the ground. Upon brushing it off, it is a heavy, darkly bound leather book. The Rogue's bibliological knowledge comes in handy yet again and he identifies it as a Dragon-borne tome.

Rogue n Wizard: O_O;

High-fives went around.
Digo 9th Aug 2015, 10:41 AM edit delete reply
Wow, that was a good set of rolls!
Xelmon 10th Aug 2015, 8:09 PM edit delete reply
As said, we're pretty sure all of the moons in all of the planes lined up to pull that off. =D
Raxon 8th Aug 2015, 6:05 PM edit delete reply
Huh. I tend to use arcana for my default skill. Need the computer code? I roll arcana to decipher the lightning in the coputer. Locked door? I roll arcana to ask the door for the secret to passing.

Similarly, I can use my pickpocket skill for anything. What are passwords, if not a form of currency hidden in the mind or hard drive? What is a bank vault, but a pocket where the bank holds its money?

Animal husbandry is fun, too. Trying to explain why you are breeding a flumph with a stegosaurus as a vital part of your plan to repel the tarrasque is always a good time.
you know that guy 9th Aug 2015, 4:22 AM edit delete reply
Passwords aren't currency though. A password is much more like a very small identity document (ID) so you should get a bonus to your Pickpocketing roll.
Raxon 9th Aug 2015, 4:54 PM edit delete reply
A password is a currency, in that you exchange it got goods and services. You give the password, and you receive access.
Someone 9th Aug 2015, 7:28 AM edit delete reply
How did you even got that Stegosaurus?
Raxon 9th Aug 2015, 8:32 PM edit delete reply
Generally speaking, lots of systems have dinosaurs.
Someone 10th Aug 2015, 2:15 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, but I can't think of a system that has flumphs, tarrasques and dinosaurs all at once.
Disloyal Subject 10th Aug 2015, 9:00 AM edit delete reply
Disloyal Subject
Specter 10th Aug 2015, 9:18 AM edit delete reply
GD 10th Aug 2015, 1:44 PM edit delete reply
Dungeons and Dragons and Dinosaurs.
Duh. : P
Endor 9th Aug 2015, 12:34 AM edit delete reply
I think arcana check could be more appropriate in "hardware" hacking.
If you want to reroute magical energy current you should know how to (safely) operate it.
Jennifer 9th Aug 2015, 7:42 PM edit delete reply
I am thinking of using something from a KODT comic -- a large and attractive jewel in a recess. When the players reach for it, a trap cuts their arm off. I have to find some clues to its real nature though, because they're too new to have absorbed that thieves can look for and disarm traps.

What I would like to do is make a treasure obvious and unguarded, but (apparently) inaccessible, with either a maze, obstacle course or puzzle necessary to reach it. A couple of Christopher Anvil stories might provide inspiration too -- he wrote a "space patrol" series where the characters found themselves in a sort of psionic field that basically made the task harder if they tried to do it in a conventional way. Perhaps an anti-magic shield?
Senshuken 10th Aug 2015, 12:04 AM edit delete reply
A real good clue as to its real nature would be to have the bones of a human arm in the recess, reaching out for the gem. If that doesn't tip them off that something is wrong, they deserve to lose an arm.
silvadel 9th Aug 2015, 11:20 PM edit delete reply
Sufficiently advanced magic works very well at hacking a scientific device. Being able to flip bits on the fly is wonderful.

Sufficiently advanced technology works well at hacking magical devices as well.

Once you reach a point where you have magic based computers, either approach is equally valid with regard to hacking it. It is over the blur-line where magic and technology become less distinguishable.
Greenhornet 10th Aug 2015, 12:55 PM edit delete reply
Am I the only one who gets the "Manco" reference?
Digo 10th Aug 2015, 4:22 PM edit delete reply
I hope not, otherwise I'm going to feel really dated. :3
Torquelift 10th Aug 2015, 6:17 PM edit delete reply
So, wait, if Arcana is for computer hacking, just what does Science do anymore?
Dusk Raven 21st Oct 2015, 2:51 PM edit delete reply
Are the three Hacking Skills party members from anything in particular... or am I free to use them as inspiration for one of my own sets of characters? :3
TheFullCrumb 29th Nov 2015, 2:25 PM edit delete reply
How does one get in on the Fallout is Dragons games anyways? I've been itching to try it out for a bit.