Computer systems in Rifts are very much a feast or famine idea. In the wastelands and rural areas that many adventures take place, the presence of computers is very basic, if present at all. In the cities, they are ubiquitous, but access is jealously guarded by those who use them, not wishing anyone else to get into them. This leaves a Game Master having to work up systems on the fly to allow their hacking heroes to have something to do with their Hacking skill. The Fast Lane Hacking rules from Manuel Sambs of Veiled Fury Entertainment offer another route, but require a bit of modification to work in Savage Rifts.
These rules adapt the concepts behind Fast Lane Hacking to Savage Rifts. The majority of this guide revolves around establishing norms regarding pricing, the availability and usability of systems and adapting existing gear for use with these rules.
The core Fast Lane Hacking rules are available on DriveThruRPG. You will need them to use these rules adaptations. Certain items are reprinted here for convenience.
Computers and Related Gear
The classic Palladium Rifts books gave us quite a few pieces of gear that helped answer the broad questions of what kind of computers are there in the post-apocalyptic world of Rifts. Not all markets and shops have the same gear. While the examples here are Wilks, Northern Gun, Wellington, Triax, Titan Robotics, and the Coalition States all sell their own versions of these.
Using the Manufacturer Modifiers found in Empires of Humanity is optional, but to do so, utilize these guidelines.
- Black Market Computers are 1d20+10% less than listed price (as normal). However, these items gain none of the bonuses associated with the mimicked manufacturer instead they are difficult to repair due to shoddy, cheap construction incurring a −1 on Repair rolls and +1 on Technical Difficulty Table rolls.
- Coalition and Titan Industries Computers set the bar for pricing, and uses parts found commonly throughout the world, gaining +1 to Repair.
- Naruni Enterprises Computers are very advanced and often include holographic displays and interfaces. Their Power Rating is one higher than would expected for any particular model (the NEC-1010 is Power 2, and System 1), but their availability and repair costs are normal for all Naruni Equipment (i.e. increased, heavily). Also only Authentic Naruni parts, upgrades, and programs with Naruni computers. Custom and off brand parts and services simply are not effective for the alien code the computers are based on.
- Northern Gun and Wellington Industries Computers are known for being durable and reliable computers. They get the normal effects on a Critical Failure like nearly every other NG or WI gear (see Empires of Humanity).
- Triax Industries Computers are the product of high-end German engineering. They are easier to repair and maintain—if you can get your hands on the expensive, imported replacement parts (see Empires of Humanity).
- Wilk’s Electronics are the premier makers of computers and electronics in North America. Wilk’s Computers gain +1 on related Electronics, Hacking, Research, and Repair rolls to use them; this stacks with an item’s listed bonuses, as normal.
All items in this guide are subject to Technical Difficulties. Note this is all base prices. The Game Master always controls what is available, what is legal, and how much it costs. See A Conspiracy of Commerce in the Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide.
Wilks PC-1000 series Hand Held Computer: The PC-3000 series of compact handheld computers by Wilks and are fully functioning computers that are about the size of an opened paperback book or the size of an average human’s hands placed together. When closed, the handle can be folded up and the entire unit can easily fit in most jacket pockets. The computer can be powered by a small, rechargeable battery (about 24 hours of life) or plugged into an electrical outlet. A hard copy of text can be printed out on the thermo-paper printer, but a magnifying glass is needed to read the tiny print. The computer can also be plugged into most video and cybernetic systems for use as a video monitor. Uses one inch disks.
- Wilks PC-1010 Hand Held Computer: Power 1, System 1
Cost: 500 Credits
- Wilks PC-1020 Hand Held Computer: Power 2, System 2
Cost: 1,000 Credits
- Wilks PC-1030 Hand Held Computer: Power 3, System 3
Cost: 2,500 Credits
- Wilks PC-1040 Hand Held Computer: Power 4, System 4
Cost: 5,000 Credits
- Wilks PC-1050 Hand Held Computer: Power 5, System 5
Cost: 10,000 Credits
Wilk’s PC-2000 Series Holographic Portable Field Intelligence Computer: This is a multi-purpose computer about the size of a briefcase in a padded mega-ceramic carrying case that can stop a vibro-knife when closed. It uses standard one inch disks which can hold 100 hours of video and countless images. The most unique feature is its holographic projection (has a screen as back-up) and its built in camera that operates like a set of Infrared Distancing Binoculars. This has its own usefulness and is favored by journalists and military intelligence operatives alike, but the primary function is to utilize Visual Identification Program (see Software). While any computer with a good enough system can run the software, the PC-2000 series was purpose built for the task. Most others will need a camera input
- Wilks PC-2010 Field Computer: Power 2, System 3
Cost: 10,000 Credits
- Wilks PC-2020 Field Computer: Power 3, System 4
Cost: 20,000 Credits
- Wilks PC-2030 Field Computer: Power 4, System 5
Cost: 40,000 Credits
Wilks FC-3000 Field Computer: The 3000 series of rugged field computers have a slightly different form factor than either the 1000 or 2000 series. Whereas the 1000 series are based on a folding design, and the 2000 series are large briefcases, the 3000 series is a much more robust tablet style design in a mega-ceramic case that can stop a vibro-knife anywhere but the screen. They come with removable covers that protect the screen that are just as tough. They have on screen interfaces, but most users utilize the standard datajack port.
- Wilks FC-3010 Field Computer: Power 3, System 3
Cost: 10,000 Credits
- Wilks FC-3020 Field Computer: Power 4, System 4
Cost: 20,000 Credits
- Wilks FC-3030 Field Computer: Power 5, System 5
Cost: 40,000 Credits
Computer Upgrades and Accessories
The following upgrades can be applies to a particular computer once. The base cost of the system is increased by the price of any included upgrade. These upgrades are priced generically, but you must have the proper upgrade for the system that is being modified. An upgrade kit for a PC-3010 will not work on a PC-3050, nor will it work on a FC-5020.
Processing Power Upgrade: A system can be upgraded to have more processing Power (+1 Power) than it was originally constructed with. This can only be used once per computer.
Cost: Base cost of system/2.
System Bus Upgrade: A system can be upgraded to have more System strength (+1 System) than it was originally constructed with. This can only be used once per computer.
Cost: Base cost of system/2.
Wilks Video Visor Series (Smart Goggles)
These Goggles are able to view the output from a handheld computer with a similar technology to picture in picture monitors. The output can be pushed to the side of the field of view with the push of a button on the side of the goggles, near the side of the lenses. They come with a basic camera built into them that allows for visual input into the computer as well. The design is rather rugged, but not widely used outside of urban centers like MercTown, Chi-Town and its Burbs, Kingsdale, and Ishpeming. Most city rats consider this technology a stepping stone to getting a Core Electronics Cybernetics Package – not for the built in computer (which is nice and a good mid ranged option), but for the direct neural interface that it comes with.
Wilks Video Visor 1 (Smart Goggles): Sound plays from the computer itself, or via separate earbuds. While in the primary field of view, all Notice (Visual) checks for your surroundings are made at -2.
Cost: 200 Credits
Wilks Video Visor 2 (Smart Goggles with earbud speakers): Earbud earphones provide a -1 penalty to Notice (hearing) checks while the earbuds are in.
Cost: 600 Credits
Wilks Video Visor 3 (Smart Goggles with bone conduction speakers): Bone Conduction earphones do not provide a penalty to Notice (hearing) checks
Cost: 1,200 Credits
Optics Link Cable and Datajack Adapter: Additional video feeds from Multi-Optics Helmets, Infrared Distancing Binoculars, and Multi-Optic Scopes can be added to computers or Smart Goggles by a lightweight breakaway cable designed for easy magnetic attachment. Plug the adapter into a standard datajack port and use the magnetic cord to connect. Sometimes used in lieu of physical access cables. Generally one to five feet in length.
Cost: 15 Credits per foot of length.
Physical Access Cable: These cables allow access to systems using the standard datajack connections common in almost every computer system manufactured in Rifts North America and Europe. Note most systems have only 1d4 of these ports. These can be used to link together two computers, a user with the Core Electronics Cybernetic Package and a computer, or almost anything with these ports. Most common lengths are 3 feet, 6 feet, and 10 feet.
Cost: 5 Credits per foot of length.
Core Electronics Package: The Core Electronics Cybernetic Package includes a rather compact, but powerful computer and a universal data jack for accessing its internal memory. It acts as a Power 2, System 5 computer and can be upgraded as usual before installing. It can be upgraded afterwards as well, but requires surgery and a tech on hand to upgrade and test the system before allowing the surgeon to reinstall it. For this reason it is often upgraded before installation. When purchased brand new, the system actually comes with a small smattering of URLs preloaded (Choose 4 of choice). If it comes from any other source, then who knows what it will come with. Typically the package also includes a radio (20-mile range; with built in sub vocal microphone and induction speaker), gyro-compass, and clock-calendar (as per the Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide).
Cost: 22,000 credits, 1 Strain
Visual Identification Program (VIP; Requires 2 points of System)
To assist in survival, identification of threats, scientific study, and military intelligence, several companies have made versions of a program simply called the Visual Identification Program for many specific regions. Certain things are universal to all versions. All versions of the Identifier Program can recognize and identify 16,000 vehicles and robots, as well as any common regional powers and organizations (specific to the region), plus certain organization such as the Northern Gun Loss Prevention forces, as well as the Coalition States, the New German Republic, and Free Quebec Armed Forces. Also included are major mercenary groups active in the region. All versions have records of over 60,000 animal species (indigenous and known D-Bee life forms), 100,000 insects, and 50,000 plants and fruits, including poisonous, edible and medicinal plant life. Data is always limited to a specific country, region or continent.
Use the Research skill to identify almost anything with the program. Identification with a written description or drawn image imposes a -2 on Research rolls to identify the subject. A good image or video offers a +2 to the roll. For something alien to the region, the Game Master may impose a -2 to -4 to rolls to identify the foreign creature or item. The Game Master may also make an item simply impossible to identify due to a lack of data. Regions of choice include: Domain of Man (Central North America centered largely around the Mississippi River and the Coalition States), Magic Zone, Dinosaur Swamps, The New West, Lone Star and the Pecos Badlands, Canadian Wilderness (western region), The Hivelands, Mexico and the Yucatan, The British Isles, Western Europe, The New German Republic, The Black Forest, Eastern Europe, Southern Europe, Poland, and dozens more. Each region must be purchased separately.
Cost: 10,000 credits.
Utility Reference Libraries (URL): These software packages are used to provide a bonus on certain tasks, helpful mostly in Research, but also in any task that a computer can use it for (Hacking, or Thievery, for instance). These do not apply to the entire use of a skill, but rather a specific focus. A URL for CS History might give a bonus to Academics (Coalition History). One focusing on ley lines might give a bonus to Occult (Ley Lines). A Computer can hold dozens of programs in its offline storage, but can only use as many as its System Rating. A PC-3050 can run up to 5 URLs at a time, each providing a bonus to certain tasks. The library’s grade designates the bonus on opposed rolls with that skill and focus. The bonus also applies to any Research rolls for recalling history or similar research. Moving a URL into active memory takes one action in combat or other tense situations.
Rating 1 Utility Reference Library:
Cost: 250 credits
Rating 2 Utility Reference Library
Cost: 500 credits
The following are examples of applications the software libraries can provide a bonus to. In general players and GMs can provide any focus they care to use that their Game Master agrees to.
- Academics (Pre-Rifts General History)
- Academics (Pre-Rifts American Empire History)
- Academics (Pre-Rifts German Republic History)
- Academics (Post-Rifts General History)
- Academics (Northern Gun History – Official)
- Academics (Coalition States History – Official)
- Academics (New German Republic History – Official)
- Common Knowledge (Commerce)
- Common Knowledge (Customs)
- Common Knowledge (Geography)
- Electronics (Diagnostics/Repair [Computers])
- Electronics (Diagnostics/Repair [Electronics])
- Electronics (Cybernetics and Bionics)
- Electronics (Optics)
- Electronics (Security Systems)
- Electronics (Radar)
- Electronics (Sonar)
- Electronics (Video Recording)
- Hacking (Edit File Attributes/Content)
- Hacking (Edit Permissions/Access)
- Hacking (Edit Photo/Videos)
- Hacking (Fast Lane Hacking: Breaking In)
- Hacking (Fast Lane Hacking: Avoid/Bypass/Edit Security)
- Hacking (Fast Lane Hacking: System Navigation)
- Hacking (Fast Lane Hacking: Covering Tracks)
- Hacking (Software Programming)
- Repair (Body Armor)
- Repair (Cybernetics and Bionics)
- Repair (Demolitions)
- Repair (Heavy Weapons)
- Repair (Integrated Weapons)
- Repair (Sidearms and Longarms)
- Repair (Specific Manufacturer and Class of Vehicle, Power Armor, or Robot Vehicle)
- Thievery (Electronic Locks)
- Thievery (Security Systems)
12/15/2020: Updated to fix a few spelling/editing errors and update some vague wording. This blog entry references Fast Lane Hacking by Veiled Fury Entertainment. Used with permission. Veiled Fury Entertainment makes no representation or warranty as to the quality, viability, or suitability for purpose of this product.