Hacking is a minigame of sorts that players can use to unlock... really anything you want access to. A successful hack in the right time and place might get you access to a new area, marks (the currency in Starmourn), the ability to control a weapon turret, so on and so forth. In some instances, Hacking is a quest in and of itself, or even part of a much longer quest.

Everyone gets a hacking skill from their first steps into the Sector and this skill increases with each successful hack. Level up and unlock new abilities, including the ultimate ability BYPASS which allows you to, in a limited capacity, automatically complete any hack successfully.

What can I hack?

The goal of hacking is to gain access, information, or marks, so typically you'll be hacking a terminal connected to the network related to one of those things. Here are the places you should be ready to enter the grid:

While their appearances may vary around the sector, you should mostly be able to identify the blocky structure of a hackable terminal at a quick glance. If you're unsure, PROBE TERMINAL to identify it's network complexity before starting your hack attempt. Succeed and take your prize, whatever it may be. Fail and you may find yourself at the center of a ring of guards.

Some weapons can be hacked in Starmourn, allowing you to disable or turn them on their masters.

Hacking is a crucial activity in Cosmpiercer raids and will determine, in many cases, whether or not your side wins the attempt. Learn more on our COSMPIERCERS page.

FRAY Contracts
This shady organization is always looking for new recruits to slip through the networks and secure data for them. Once you've reached the top ranks of hacking, put your skills to the test and reap the marks rewards and prizes that come with it.

Vihana Facilities
These are multi-level, co-op, end game dungeons that really force you to pull in everything you've learned to overcome the violent and disfigured Ishvana experiments running about. One element includes hacking your way into the next floor, though failing this hack has a unique risk - Your body will be overwhelmed by a Vihana virus and turned against your compatriots with a rather violent interest in their demise. Terminals will also have unique ICE which still haunt me to this day.

Key Terms

Terminal - The most common entry point for hacking a network.

Grid - The digital network being hacked. This is represented as a discover-on-the-way map which is unique from the standard ground map.

GigaOps (OPs)  - The unit of health applied to your character while hacking. This value will increase you raise your hacking skills, making it easier to survive the hard-hitting defenses in higher level terminals. There's no wetwiring or curatives in the grid, though you can steal and recoup some OPs after destroying certain ICE.

Intrusion Countermeasure Electronics (ICE) -
The defenses you'll need to defeat while infiltrating a grid, including

Normal run-of-the-mill antivirus software. You'll see a lot of these.
Replicating Antivirus
Weak, but prolific. This antivirus software really embodies the phrase "Quantity of Quality" and will attempt to overwhelm you in waves.
Polymorphic antivirus.
Will recompile in an attempt to intimidate you.
These come in static and mobile versions. Mobile ones will move around (obviously), but not very far or very fast, and they don't really fight back. Static or hard-light firewalls will try to block your way until you defeat them or learn how to SLICE past.
Actively summon any ICE from nearby directories to come and terminate your connection with rapid effectiveness unless you JAM them first. In addition to calling for support, it also briefly tags you in the system and the ICE it summons will chase you through the network.
Designed to trap you, make you get stuck, until you've destroyed them. Does not attack on its own, but it also is slightly more resistant to infection.
Aptly named, these are glitches in the network you are currently trespassing in which occasionally cause system malfunctions to rollback the clock and resurrect the ICE you've just defeated.

How Does One Hack Something?

Well, as mentioned above, there are two types of hacking. Think of them as the short and longer version. In the short version, we simply perform a difficulty check comparing your hacking skill vs the difficulty of the thing to hack. This is what we'd use for trivial hacks like unlocking a door that isn't that important.

The longer version is considerably more involved! In order to do this:

  1. Find a terminal.
    You’ll find a terminal connected to the grid you’re trying to hack. Each grid has a difficulty rating, and it’s essentially impossible for you to hack a grid very far above your skill level.
  2. Begin the hack. 
    You’ll leave your physical body behind, taking the form of a virus that’s trying to penetrate into the processor array of the grid, where you can unlock whatever it is it controls. To do this, you need to find the password. Your physical body will be vulnerable while you’re hacking the grid, so in some cases it may be advisable to bring along protection.
  3. Combat the ICE. 
    The grid has various types of defenses it will deploy against you, from polymorphic antiviruses to firewalls to honeypots and more, which will attempt to absorb your OPs, thereby removing you from the grid. Each ICE behaves differently, so you'll have to be clever to either evade their attacks or destroy them first.
  4. Maneuver the Grid.
    Making things a bit more difficult is the fact that each grid is randomly generated when you enter it, and you don’t have a ‘map’ of it. Only n/e/s/w directions exist, and the map will unfold square by square as you enter new grid circuits (themed name for rooms here).
  5. Unlock the Password.
    Certain types of antivirus defenses will drop one character of the password. When you think you have enough to guess what the password is, you find the processor array, and take a stab at the password. If you’ve waited until you’ve found all the letters in a password, you’re assured of success, but sometimes you may realize that you’re going to run out of Ops if you do that, and so are forced to take a guess based on which letters you have. For instance you may see “GA*GO*LE” and reasonably guess ‘gargoyle.’ We pull the password from a list of somewhere around 40,000 English words.

    Guessing the password incorrectly or succumbing to the grid's ICE will cause immediate failure, at the very least causing expulsion from that grid and keeping you locked out of it for a period of time.

  6. Reflect, Improve, and Specialize
    Your hacking skills will improve over time, eventually granting you the ability to do things like Ping(), Infect(), Overwrite(), and Backdoor() your way to success. Some hacking skills focus on greater hacking offense, but many are related to movement and manipulation, allowing you to Slice place firewalls or create backdoor paths to key landmarks in the Grid.

There’s the random factor to deal with in terms of grid generation, what enemies get generated in the grid, and where. All grids aren’t equal, and it’s quite likely that a grid of a particular difficulty rating may be substantially easier or harder than another of the same difficulty rating simply through the vagaries of procedural generation.

In the name of keeping things thematic, you’ll also find that the ‘combat’ you engage in with the antiviruses feels... a bit different.... from other types of conflict.

You'll understand more once you try it, but here's a short example with notes from me on the right:

LOOK                                                               (My command.)

Directory list of 3,1                                    (3,1 is the grid location I'm at.)
ICE/                                                                 (ICE = Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics - they're the defenders you have to defeat.)
@antivirus                                                    (@antivirus and @honeypot are two types of ICE with different abilities.)
[106/140 s]                                                   (I have 106 out of 140 max Ops, and I have 'sync', which is the equivalent of balance.)

INFECT ANTIVIRUS                                    (I attack!)

UseSync(3.00)                                            (I lose 3 secs of sync.)
Infect.Result(“antivirus”, 11)                  (I hit the antivirus with 11 Ops of damage.)
[99/140 *]

OpsLoss(3,@antivirus)                            (The antivirus hits me with 3 Ops of damage.)

[96/140 s]

OVERWRITE ANTIVIRUS                                    (I attack once more, with feeling!)

Load(“Overwrite self-replicating_antivirus”, 300)

[92/140 *]

Overwrite.Result(“antivirus”, 24)
antivirus.Delete()                                                       (The antivirus has been vanquished.)
PasswordUpdate(“D”) -> Display($pass) -> DE*****

Check it out in-game and climb the rankings to become the best hacker in the sector!

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