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“Considering the current sad state of our computer programs, software development is clearly still a black art, and cannot yet be called an engineering discipline.”

Bill Clinton

Computer systems may be programmed for many different tasks, from autonomously running a starship to recording text-based notes entered by the user and everything in between – and all of these tasks are controlled by the computer’s software. Well-written software can be one of the greatest boons a computer user can utilize – but badly-written software is quite possibly a user’s greatest bane. For this reason, good computer programming – and thus programmers – are nearly worth their weight in gold; the ability to keep bad programs and programmers away from your computers is quite possibly worth even more.

Computer programs are rated for their cost, their Legality Class, and the Complexity required to run the software; certain programs and all databases are rated for how much computer storage they use up – other programs are assumed to have negligible storage requirements.

Software Classes

Software prices and quality vary widely, and not always in sync, either. Mass-market consumer software is almost always cheaper to purchase than customized niche tools, but many types of software may be found on the Net for free, legally or not. Typically, more effective software requires a higher Complexity machine to run it, but this is not always the case – especially efficient software may run at a full Complexity class lower than comparable software.

In general, computer software can be placed into several different classes, and sometimes more than one. The given Cost Factors and statistic modifiers are suggestions only – many pieces of software will not follow this exact progression.

-1 Complexity, +9 CF.

The software is especially efficient in its use of resources, requiring a lower Complexity computer to run than software of similar capabilities. This dedication to efficiency generally makes the software significantly more expensive.

-9 CF.

The software is intended for general consumers and wide distribution, expanding the customer base – and thus those willing to purchase the software. Sometimes software designed for extremely large organizations can qualify as this! Hackers typically have enough experience with mass-market software that they can crack it relatively easily; this is one reason Microsoft products were notorious for being vulnerable to viruses at the dawn of the 21st century. If a hostile netrunner is able to determine which mass-market software is running on a target computer, it is easier for him to find known exploits, vulnerabilities, and viruses that can be used to help his intrusion attempt.


This software is typically released for free, including its source code. Optimizations and alterations of the software are significantly easier, erasing the -5 in penalties for altering or looking for exploits in software without access to the source code. Unfortunately, this means that hostile netrunners can analyze the code as well.

Illegaly Sourced

Software that has been illegally downloaded for free. While you avoid having to pay the price for this software, it is extremely dangerous. Software of this type is very commonly infected with viruses, spyware, or other problematic programs. If illegally sourced software has been installed on a computer – even if it isn’t currently running – the computer is at -4 to defend against intrusion attempts.

Operating Systems

All computers run some type of operating system, a set of software that manages the computer’s hardware resources and provides a common set of services to be used by the user or the other programs installed on the computer. Programs that are an integral part of the operating system consume no extra system resources and do not count as programs ‘on’ when determining how many programs can run at once.

There are three major operating systems currently in use today. Each system provides its own specific capabilities, but they all also share a number of functions. Each operating system has all the standard features of early 21st century operating systems – a method of browsing the net, a file management tool, basic general-use programs like a word processor, etc. They also include a number of integrated security features such as basic (minimum Complexity for each) Gatekeeper and Firewall programs which maintain Levels of Access and separate user accounts.


United Communication Network’s UniVerOS operating system is the world’s premiere consumer OS, running everything from datapads and implant computers to household mainframes. UniVerOS’s defining feature is Unity, a ‘personal digital assistant’ – an artificial intelligence program with natural language capabilities that can serve as a personal planner, secretary, teacher, or anything else – or at least that’s what the advertisements say.

There have been rumors of a Unity 2.0 coming out soon that will feature software learning algorithms, allowing Unity to grow, learn, and individualize. As-is, individualizing Unity takes skilled programmers – and an extra outlay of cash by the prospective buyer.


Core Systems introduced the Kernal operating system several decades ago to little fanfare. Originally designed to be a bare-bones OS that avoided the resource-intensive frills of the consumer-grade operating systems, Kernal is primarily used for industrial process control, government or corporate systems where performance is more important than ease of use, etc. Currently, Kernal is in use in a wide variety of commercial and industrial computers and has a die-hard following among the ‘computer literate’, though few take it as a serious challenge to UniVerOS’s near-monopoly of the consumer sector.

The Kernal OS allows the user to run one extra program of the computer’s rated Complexity than other operating systems.


‘Kludge’ is the name for a series of operating systems based off of a mashup of stolen or disassembled UniVerOS and Kernal source code. Created by the underground //HackNet group, Kludge is popular in the hacker community for its ability to natively interface with Kernal and UniVerOS operating systems and the ‘Kallisti’ AI created from repurposed Unity AI code that has been rewritten and adapted to more nefarious purposes, such as automated system hacking. Several jurisdictions treat Kludge as illegal software, but //HackNet has adapted to this ‘intrusion’ by including dedicated software that can allow the OS to masquerade as either a Kernal or UniVerOS operating system.

Kludge’s source code is widely shared and easily modified, but all distributed builds of the operating system include numerous backdoors and traps – the apparent belief is that if a hacker isn’t up to the task of rewriting the code to remove those backdoors, then they aren’t worthy of using the software. Use Computer Programming to ‘clean out’ the backdoors and traps; this takes one week per attempt and is a secret roll; critical failure means you think you got all the bugs, but it’s still just as compromised as ever!

Programs and Databases

Software can come in two primary types: programs and databases. A program performs functions, displays data, etc. In other words, it does stuff. A database is a giant collection of information, typically eating up a large portion of memory. There are a few important specific types of programs, and some general rules regarding all programs.

Programming the Programs

To create or modify a program yourself, a programmer needs the Computer Programming skill, or Computer Programming (AI) for artificial intelligences and advanced autonomous programs. Many programs will also require the input of at least one person with a secondary skill at 12+, though this need not be the primary programmer – these secondary skills will vary with the program. A medical diagnosis program will require the input of someone with Diagnosis-12 or higher, while a program intended to teach mathematics will require both Teaching-12 and Mathematics-12.

Due to advances in ‘smart integrated development environments’ and semi-intelligent programming languages, creating or modifying a modern piece of software takes considerably less time than it did in the dawn of the 21st century. Modifying software that you have the source-code to takes weeks (days, for Quick Gadgeteers) equal to its Complexity, while creating new software or dramatically altering software takes months (weeks, for Quick Gadgeteers) equal to its Complexity.


A database is a giant collection of information; typically it is connected to a simple, specialized program for searching and making use of the database, but sometimes they come ‘naked’. Modern databases use up large amounts of data space, typically on the order of several gigabytes up to thousands of terabytes – anything smaller just isn’t large enough to keep track of. The price of a database varies widely, though there are some general rules that you can follow.

A generic, basic-quality database such as a world encyclopedia with multimedia articles including pictures and video excerpts is roughly ten terabytes and $50. A good-quality database, including detailed technical articles and textbooks along with various other teaching materials, is 100 terabytes and $500. A fine-quality database, such as a reference library including multiple full copies of significant works such as video and audio recordings, entire copies of primary and secondary sources, etc would be over 1,000 terabytes and $5,000. A state-of-the-art database would be thousands of petabytes and be worth hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars or more.

More specific databases can be either smaller or even larger, and cheaper or more expensive, depending on the type of material. A database of espionage secrets might be worth billions but be no larger than a gigabyte in size, while a database of all of the copyright-free vids ever made would be hundreds of terabytes but worth very little in the way of money.

Purchasing Programs

While the exact cost of any one program is going to depend on a number of factors, in general two programs of the same complexity should have base costs of roughly the same. These base costs are for generic software, prior to any modifications for Software Class or anything else, and are intended as just a guideline.

All programs require some amount of space; this table gives rough guidelines for how much space each program takes up.

Complexity Cost Program Size
1 $5 10 MB
2 $15 100 MB
3 $50 1 GB
4 $150 10 GB
5 $500 100 GB
6 $1,500 1 TB
7 $5,000 10 TB
8 $15,000 100 TB
9 $50,000 1 PB
10 $150,000 10 PB
11 $500,000 100 PB
12 $1,500,000 1,000 PB


Most software is intended primarily for the consumer, from games and multimedia to computer-aided education systems. Much of this software consists of Software Tools or entertainment devices, and almost all of it can be considered Mass-Market.

Software Tools

This is a basic software tool for a technological skill, typically IQ-based, though when connected through an appropriate interface DX-based skills can also benefit. All modern IQ-based technological skills require the use of a software tool to perform at full effectiveness when performing any task involving analysis, research, or invention. Computer intrusion is definitely included in this list of tasks! Software tools are also appropriate for a number of other skills, including Accounting, Artillery, Market Analysis, Strategy, Tactics, and Writing. The following list is a general guideline – specific software may have different requirements.

Difficulty: The difficulty of the skill associated with the software tool impacts its base price and Complexity.

  • Easy. Complexity 2.
  • Average. Complexity 3.
  • Hard. Complexity 3.
  • Very Hard. Complexity 3.
  • Average Technique. Complexity 2.
  • Hard Technique. Complexity 3.
  • Senses. Complexity 2.

Quality: The quality of the software tool impacts its effectiveness.

  • Basic. Allows the skill to be used without skill penalties for missing or improvised equipment. Base Complexity.
  • Good. Gives a +1 bonus to the skill. +2 Complexity.
  • Fine. Gives a +2 bonus to the skill. +4 Complexity.
  • Very Fine. Gives a +4 bonus to the skill. +6 Complexity.

A Software Tool’s price follows from the Software Price Table. Software tool bonuses for a technique can stack with those for the base skill!

Multimedia and Entertainment

Virtual reality dominates all forms multimedia and entertainment, from VR plays and games to still ‘holograph’ souvenirs and keepsakes and even textbooks and engineering diagrams. While many view these forms of media on flatscreen displays instead of proper VR gear, it is similar to watching a high-definition full-color 3D film on an old, low-definition black-and-white TV set with a single cheap speaker without even stereo capability – while you can do it, you are missing on entire dimensions of the intended experience.

A VR play is essentially a minimally-interactive or non-interactive work similar to an extremely detailed, multi-sense 3D film that guides you through a single story. In some plays, you can look around or even move around a scene, but you can never leave it until the director wants you to, and some plays (‘traditionals’) don’t even allow that much control. A VR game is a much more interactive experience, allowing you to move around and interact with other characters, from talking to them to attacking them. An High-definition (HD) VR game or play is capable of making use of a total immersion interface in order to completely immerse the user in the virtual reality.

A ‘holograph’ is a single three-dimensional scene encoded into a format that can easily be displayed in augmented or virtual reality. These holographs are essentially fully three-dimensional photographs or home movies.

A typical VR play is $30 and 1 TB, while a VR game is $100 and 10 TB. A typical holograph is 0.1 TB. Multiply size by 10 for HD games or plays; cost does not change. LC4.

Electronic Ecstasy

An unintended consequence of the total immersion neural interface, EE is a dangerous new addictive electronic ‘drug’ – a software program that runs on a total immmersion interface, capable of directly stimulating the pleasure centers of the user’s brain. This can afflict either the Euphoria or Ecstasy conditions upon the user, and is highly addictive. Roll against Will after every day of use; if you fail, you become psychologically addicted. Complexity 5, $500. LC2.

Translator Software

Translator software is a specialized form of an Expert System with enough knowledge of two or more separate languages and the cultures they come from to translate between two languages in real-time. The basic software can operate with Linguistics-12 and is Complexity 5, $2,000. Language packages are 10 GB and $150 for an Accented level of comprehension, or 100 GB and $250 for a Native level of comprehension. Mass Market versions of the basic software are available for $200; language pack prices do not change. LC4.


Babelfish software is a development of translator software and advances in artificial intelligence technology. It is, effectively, a highly specialized adaptive agent program designed with a large database of human languages and the skills and knowledge to learn and translate new languages that it encounters. It is, in effect, a ‘universal translator’, though it is not capable of learning a new language in anywhere near the time that it’s displayed in fiction.

Babelfish software begins to prepare a translation as soon as it encounters a new language, soaking up as much context and information as it can. After 50 hours of constant exposure and intentional teaching, the software aquires Broken comprehension in the language. After 200 hours, it acquires Accented comprehension. After 800 hours, it acquires Native comprehension.

The software is also able to acquire basic comprehension through analysis of recorded video rather than intentional teaching. This takes 200 hours of video for Broken comprehension, which the software can process within 24 hours. Four days of analysis and 800 hours of video can provide Accented comprehension. Intentional teaching is required in order to reach Native comprehension.

This software is Complexity 7, $20,000. LC4.

Publishing Suite

This is a full-featured digital publishing and productivity suite, including a word processor, a digital image manipulation program, a spreadsheet program, and more. The basic version is Complexity 3 and is included in all common operating systems for free. A good-quality version providing a +1 bonus to appropriate tasks is Complexity 5 and costs $500. A fine-quality version providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 7 and $5,000.

AI Tutor

One of the recent developments in corp childcare and education, the AI Tutor is marketed under a number of different names, from the ‘DigiBuddy’ to the ‘Imaginary Friend’ and others. It is designed to exist within a child’s computer implant and monitor his well-being, making sure he doesn’t break any of the rules his parents set for him, all while teaching him about the world. Common AI Tutors are Complexity 6 Limited Agents with training in Teaching, Mathematics, Housekeeping, Literature, and any other subject the parents want the child to learn. AI tutors commonly have the Academic Talent. Complexity 6, $15,000. LC4.

Newer AI tutor developments include the use of Adaptive Agents and their application to more than just children, providing the equivalent of four hours of study with a teacher every day while allowing the user to proceed with their daily life mostly uninterrupted. This can provide one character point of training every 50 days. Complexity 7, $25,000. LC4.

Virtual Education

The common method of education for those not lucky enough to be able to purchase an AI Tutor (or the computer implant it requires), Virtual Education allows a student to sit in their VR rig at home and interact with a teacher at a distant location (not necesarily a human; this could be an AI that interacts with an entire classroom of virtual students). This allows the student to have the ‘full experience’ of school without ever leaving their home – and allows a single teacher to teach a very large number of students at once.

Dream Teacher

Currently a mostly-experimental technology, the Dream Teacher promises to be the next step on the education ladder. By utilizing a Total Immersion neural interface and co-opting the human brain’s normal sleep cycle, this program can teach the user almost any skill in an extremely short period of time, effectively being under Intensive Training during their entire sleep cycle. Someone utilizing a Dream Teacher eight hours every day, and using no other training method, can learn at the rate of 1 CP every week. If someone were to use a Dream Teacher 24/7, they would learn at the rate of 4 CP per week.

Current experimental Dream Teachers are Complexity 8, LC3.

Cosmetic Filter

A Cosmetic Filter dynamically alters a video stream or virtual reality persona in order to improve the appearance of the subjects. This filter works through a pre-programmed ‘ideal’ of beauty, smoothing out wrinkles, removing or minimizing blemishes, enhancing muculature or bust line, but the subject is still recognizably themself. This effectively increases the user’s Appearance by one level. Complexity 4, $150. LC4.

Video or Audio Masking

This variant of the Cosmetic Filter alters a video or stream or virtual reality persona in order to alter the appearance of the subjects. While the Cosmetic Filter makes it so the subjects are recognizably the same person, Video or Audio Masking makes it so they are no longer recognizable, possibly even looking like another person entirely. Complexity 5, $500. LC3.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented reality refers to the projection of virtual objects onto the real world, typically through video glasses or a neural interface. This is most commonly used as a type of interface for other programs to utilize; see Running the Net for more. Aside from its utility in interfacing with other software programs, augmented reality is commonly used to enhance the Runner’s capabilities in other ways through dedicated software programs that can only operate via an augmented reality interface; several others, especially Tactical programs, are greatly enhanced by running through an augmented reality interface, but can work outside of one.

Virtual reality is another step above augmented reality, completely replacing the real world with the digital. Like augmented reality, virtual reality is commonly used to control other software programs, and it is the standard method of controlling drones and military vehicles today. VR games and plays are the primary mass-media entertainment programs in use, completely supplanting television, film, and old-style computer games. Virtual reality is often used for creating and testing new products before they are ever brought into the real world.

Memory Augment

Your augmented reality rig is connected to the Net, with a dedicated spider program doing background checks of any person you encounter via facial recognition analysis and access to large databases on the Net. As people enter the user’s visual field, the program instantly searches its accessible databases for any information it can find. If the face is in the database, the program displays the subject’s name and a brief identifier within the user’s field of vision. The program can be instructed to ignore subjects that it encounters frequently.

Similar systems exist for other types of tasks, such as recognizing artwork, wine, vehicles, or military equipment. See Silloheutte under the Tactical heading for an example.

This is an Expert System with the Research (Background Checks) skill. A typical mass-market Memory Augment program is Complexity 4 with skill 12 and costs $300; a more advanced system, such as that used by law enforcement, is Complexity 6 with skill 16 and costs $6,000. Access to more detailed or specialized databases can give a bonus to skill: +1 for a Good-quality database or +2 for a Fine-quality database. LC3.

Visual and Audio Enhancement

Augmented reality rigs can process and filter sensory data that is fed through appropriate software, effectively improving the user’s senses. These are effectively Software Tools for Vision or Hearing. A Visual Enhancement program that provides a +1 to Vision rolls is Complexity 4 and costs $150; a program for a +2 bonus is Complexity 6 and costs $1,500. Audio Enhancement programs are similar, but provide a bonus to Hearing rolls. LC4.

Verifier Software

This Expert System monitors a person’s facial expressions and vocal inflections for classical signs of lying, along with parsing their statements to check for inconsistencies. This software has the Detect Lies skill. A typical mass-market Verifier program is Complexity 5, has Detect Lies-12, and costs $400. LC3.

Virtual Reality Environment

While all VR interfaces include dedicated computers and software to display the simulated reality, the environment must be provided by a separate database and the rules must be provided by an ‘overseer’ program, typically ran by the host of the VR session. Basic VR interfaces can run simple overseer programs of their own, but large multi-user VR sessions require much more processing power than is built into the VR interface.

A typical multi-user VR program requires a 10,000 terabyte database and a Complexity 8 computer to run it, enough to run a virtual city with hundreds of thousands of users and very high amounts of detail, making it almost indistinguishable from reality. A database like this costs over $10,000,000 – but those hundreds of thousands of users paying $20 a month for the service more than make up for it.


A number of software programs are specifically intended for the commercial sector, especially those for designing and fixing pieces of technology.

Computer-Aided Design

Computer-Aided Design programs have grown spectacularly in capability over the past forty years. Utilizing developments from artificial intelligence research and large databases of modular pre-designed components, modern design programs can perform what would have been months worth of work in just days. By utilizing virtual reality prototyping and automated minifactories, a single person sitting in their parent’s basement can effectively outperform an early 21st century cutting-edge research lab in developing a design from idea to physical object. This even applies to designing software programs; in that case, the proper terminology is an ‘Integrated Development Environment’ or ‘IDE’.

A basic modern CAD program for a single design skill specialty is Complexity 3, $50. A program that provides a +1 bonus is Complexity 5, $500. A +2 bonus program is Complexity 7, $5,000. Access to a database of modular pre-designed components, required to quickly design a new product, costs $5,000 for a Simple invention, $10,000 if Average, $25,000 if Complex, or $50,000 if Amazing. An open-source database may be used instead of a paid one – this is free, but imposes a -2 skill penalty for a Simple invention, -4 for Average, -6 for Complex, or -10 for Amazing inventions, typically compensated for by taking extra time. This skill penalty can be bought off with an average Technique, representing carefully horded or otherwise free access to high-quality databases. Someone with the Quick Gadgeteer advantage ignores these skill penalties and can work without a database at no penalty.


These are the instructions for how to build a gadget. The blueprints for an item are typically licensed-out and covered in highly restrictive digital-rights management software to prevent their copying or building more of the gadget than the license permits. A license to build a single copy of an item typically runs between 10% and 50% of the cost of the item, though certain objects might be much more expensive. It is impossible to build a gadget without a copy of the blueprints, and modifying a gadget without blueprints is at a -4 penalty. The blueprints for a piece of software are called that softwares ‘source code’, but otherwise follows these rules. Size depends upon the specific gadget, though a basic assumption of 1 TB per $100 of the object’s price is acceptable. LC equal to the LC of the item.

Smart Diagnostics

The majority of items nowadays are computerized, with microcomputers even built within suits of armor or buildings in order to analyze their structural integrity and report on breakages or other issues. These diagnostics allow a properly-outfitted and authorized repair man to run quick diagnostics of faults and easily repair them. Objects with this functionality are at +2 to repair or modify, and their sensors can be utilized in other fashions, such as alerting a consumer that the milk they are about to drink is spoiled.


The benefits of computer networks have not been lost upon the military or security forces, and they have aggressively pursued computerized warfare. Today’s soldiers are the segment of the population with the highest percentage of computer implants and neural interfaces, with many gangs sending their members into the military with the intention of being cybered up at the expense of the government.


Teleoperating software, also known as ‘Rigging’ software, allows a user to remotely operate a robot. This utilizes the Electronics Operation (Drone) skill, which acts as a maximum limit for the drone’s DX-based skills. Basic software is Complexity 3, $50. Good-quality software granting a +1 to EO (Drone) is Complexity 5 and $500. Fine-quality software granting a +2 to EO (Drone) is Complexity 7 and $5,000. LC4.


Biopresence software is the biological counterpart to teleoperation software, capable of completely taking control of a target living creature with the appropriate hardware and software installed. You must penetrate any firewalls and gain Root-level access on the target system in order to utilize Biopresence software on it; if you have the correct access codes to begin with, this is automatic. This operates similarly to the Possession advantage. Biopresence software requires at least a VR interface, but the target is at -2 to DX and all DX-based skills. A Total Immersion interface eliminates this penalty. Complexity 6, $5,000. LC2.


This is an Expert System capable of automatically mapping out any location that the user passes through. The computer must have some form of sensors (typically via an AR interface) in order to accurately map new locations, but it can also pull data from the internet. This program has the Cartography skill and all Navigation specializations. A basic MiniMap program is Complexity 3, $600 and has Cartography-10 and all Navigation skills at 10. A Complexity 5 version is $2,000 and has skills at 12. A Complexity 7 version is $16,000 and has skills at 16. LC4.


This is a specialized version of the civilian Memory Augment software, providing a large database of military equipment, which is typically already downloaded rather than accessed via the Net.

This is an Expert System with the Connoisseure (Military Equipment) skill. A civilian version of the program is Complexity 4 with skill 12 and costs $300; a more advanced system, such as that used by the military or corp security forces, is Complexity 6 with skill 16 and costs $6,000. Access to more detailed or specialized databases can give a bonus to skill, +1 for a standard corporate database or +2 for a dedicated military database. LC3.


TacNet is a software program and Expert System intended for helping a squad leader keep track of his squad’s situation, giving him access to various diagnostics and readouts, such as their location and facing, their health and ammunition status, and even allowing him to view output from their AR rig cameras and other networked sensors. All soldiers in the squad must have the software installed and running in order to gain the skill bonus, and they must all be networked.

A good-quality version providing a +1 bonus is Complexity 5 and costs $500, LC3. A fine-quality version providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 7 and $5,000, LC2.


This program is a software tool and Expert System intended to augment the firing solutions for a linked weapon. This software performs near-instantaneous ballistic modeling, provides aiming lead indicators, and environmental compensation modeling, adjusting the targeting indicator for air pressure, wind, humidity, gravity, temperature, etc. This gives a bonus to a single Gunner or Guns specialization when using any weapon connected via a HUD link.

A good-quality version providing a +1 bonus is Complexity 4 and costs $150, LC3. A fine-quality version providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 6 and $1,500, LC2.

Target Tracking

When used with a sensor system, this software can keep track of the various targets or emission sources, displaying their size, signal strength, bearing, vectors, and other appropriate information on a map display. It also can operate and utilize the connected sensor systems, providing a skill bonus. A good-quality version providing a +1 bonus to Electronics Operation (Sensors) is Complexity 4 and costs $150, LC4. A fine-quality version providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 6 and $1,500, LC3.

Netrunning and Computer Security

Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics

ICE is the backbone of 21st century computer security, a combination firewall, antivirus, and antimalware software that works through adaptive heuristic algorithms and can autonomously analyze and adapt to attacks. The higher the quality of the ICE software, the more secure the computer system; this is represented by the ICE software’s ‘ICE Skill’, which is used in computer intrusion quick contests.

  • Basic. ICE-10. Included with all Operating Systems. LC4.
  • Good. ICE-15. Complexity 6. $1,500. LC4.
  • Fine. ICE-20. Complexity 8. $15,000. LC3.
  • Very Fine. ICE-25. Complexity 10. $150,000. LC3.

All modern operating systems come integrated with a Basic ICE software package which constantly runs in the background as part of the OS.


Gatekeeper software opens doors in the walls created by ICE software, allowing a user entry after he provides appropriate authentication. There are many types of Gatekeepers, and it isn’t uncommon to use multiple Gatekeepers at once for high-security systems. Gatekeepers are defined by their Key Type and their Key Rating.

Key Type: The Key Type determines what type of passkey is required in order to gain access, which determines the base price and complexity of the software.

  • Password. Complexity 0.
  • Challenge/Response. Complexity 1.
  • Fingerprint (Visual Biometric). Complexity 2.
  • Retina (Visual Biometric). Complexity 3.
  • Facial (Visual Biometric). Complexity 3.
  • Gait (Visual Biometric). Complexity 3.
  • Voice. Complexity 3.
  • Brainlock. Complexity 4.
  • X-Ray Analysis. Complexity 4.
  • DNA Analysis. Complexity 5.

Key Rating:

  • Simple. The base level. LC4.
  • Average. +2 Complexity. LC4.
  • Complex. +4 Complexity. LC3.

Modern Operating Systems come pre-installed with several Gatekeeper programs – an Advanced Password and Simple Challenge/Response, Fingerprint, Voice, and Brainlock Gatekeepers. More complex Gatekeepers typically come pre-installed with high-security software.


This is a suite of analyzers, crackers, breakers, and attackers, all intended to allow entry into a hostile computer system. This is a software tool for the Computer Hacking skill. Basic-quality software is Complexity 3, $50. Good-quality software providing a +1 bonus is Complexity 5, $500. Fine-quality software providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 7, $5,000. Very Fine-quality software providing a +4 bonus is Complexity 9, $50,000. LC2.


This software is intended for system administrators to straighten out, keep track of, modify, or delete their computer’s log files. This is a software tool providing a bonus to the tasks mentioned under Access Logs in Running the Net, not including routing. Good-quality software providing a +1 bonus is Complexity 4, $150. Fine-quality software providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 6, $1,500. Very Fine-quality software providing a +4 bonus is Complexity 8, $15,000. LC3.


This is an Expert System designed to autonomously detect and trace down hacker activity. If this software is running on a system and a hacker attempts to breach that system’s security, roll a quick contest between the hacker’s Computer Hacking skill and this software’s Computer Security skill. If the Backtrace software wins, the hack is discovered and the system administrator is alerted – who might disable the system or disconnect it from the net to prevent the hacker from continuing. The Backtrace software then attempts to hunt the hacker down using its Computer Security skill, using the Tracing a Hack rules in Running the Net. Backtrace software can trace a hacker at five times the normal speed – one attempt per hour for a trace after a hack, or one attempt per minute for a trace during a hack. Basic Backtrace software is Complexity 5 with skill 12, $1,250. More advanced versions exist with higher skill levels. LC3.


This widely-illegal software is designed to enable a hacker to cause a target system to catastrophically fail. This is a software tool for the Damage System technique. Basic-quality software is Complexity 3, $50. Good-quality software providing a +1 bonus is Complexity 5, $500. Fine-quality software providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 7, $5,000. Very Fine-quality software providing a +4 bonus is Complexity 9, $50,000. LC2.

Black ICE

This is an Expert System designed specifically for monitoring for hacker activity and then tracking any hackers down, breaking into their computer systems, and causing catastrophic failures in their components. Some Black ICE software is designed to stop the attack after disabling the hacker’s computer, but most will go one step further if the hacker is connected via a neural interface, deliberately attempting to flatline them. Black ICE is the boogeyman of the computer hacking world and a major reason most hackers will hesitate before taking on a job to hack into the HUB or other corporations rumored to utilize it.

Typical Black ICE software has Computer Hacking-16 and Computer Security-16, along with the Damage System and Adaptive Attack techniques bought off completely. During the first part of its job, Black ICE acts like Backtrace software – first attempting to detect a hack, then tracing it. Once the source is found, the Black ICE goes on the offensive, attempting to hack into the target’s computer one access level at a time, taking one minute per attempt. Black ICE software is configured for an adaptive attack routine, allowing it to ignore penalties for unknown operating system and programs. Once the Black ICE gains Admin-level access, it immediately starts Damage System attempts – and doesn’t stop until the target is flatlined. Complexity 5. $4,000. More advanced versions exist with higher skill levels. LC1.


This program allows the user to encrypt a file or transmission, making it impossible to read without the encryption key. Degree of encryption is rated in terms of Encryption Complexity, which is the Complexity of the computer required to take an hour per attempt at decryption.

  • Basic: EC 8. Complexity 4. $150. LC3.
  • Secure: EC 10. Complexity 5. $500. LC2.
  • Very Secure: EC 12. Complexity 6. $1,500. LC2.

Encryption of a transmission adds a delay of 10 seconds if the encryption program is running at its rated complexity or a one second delay if it’s being run at one over its rated complexity. Secure or Very Secure Encryption programs can also create one-time pads, unbreakable encryption keys that must be distributed to both parties of a communication and can only be used once.

Encryption of a file is a single-execution task, while encryption of an ongoing transmission (such as a vidphone call) is a continuous task. A single execution of the Encrypt function provides a single encryption – if that encryption is decrypted, it can decrypt anything else with that encryption automatically, without the hour per attempt. The Encrypt function can also create one-time pads, unbreakable encryption keys that must be distributed to both parties of a communication and can only be used once.


This is a software tool for the Cryptography skill, allowing a cryptologist to attempt to decrypt files or create new ciphers and codes. Basic-quality software is Complexity 3, $50. Good-quality software providing a +1 bonus is Complexity 5, $500. Fine-quality software providing a +2 bonus is Complexity 7, $5,000. Very Fine-quality software providing a +4 bonus is Complexity 9, $50,000.


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