Thursday, July 28, 2016

Computer Hacking and Roleplaying

Note: The following is merely for tabletop role-playing purposes and not for actual hacking.


  • We are in a post cyber punk environment.
  • Hacking is pushing something to make it do something outside of the anomaly.
  • A motivated hacker will get in.
  • The Focus is act vs result
  • Result needs to be the focus for rpgs.
  • The act needs to be defined by the rule mechanics.

What does the act require?

1.  Skill
- while you need skill to perform the task, the main purpose of the skill is to be able to detect anomaly's that can be exploited.
- hacking is a slow with an occasional eureka moments.  It's best to treat most of it not unlike travelling in an rpg.

2. Tools
- tools are relatively cheap for the base usage
- however a lot of tools are for a single job (such as a bot net, security key, etc) and are effectively consumables.
- a lot of it can be automated, but it still requires a seasoned set of eyes to interpret the data.

3. Time
- your not going to be able to script during a battle situation.
- it also works in your flavor as there is a good chance you might not be detected until it's too late.

Cyber kill Chain

Reconnaissance: Intruder selects target, researches it, and attempts to identify vulnerabilities in the target network.
- not detectable, so much noise, social engineering, physical reconnaissance.
- reconnaissance is the real party endeavour. and the most group party interaction.
Weaponization: Intruder creates remote access malware weapon, such as a virus or worm, tailored to one or more vulnerabilities.
- not detectable, understand vulnerabilities.
Delivery: Intruder transmits weapon to target (e.g., via e-mail attachments, websites or USB drives)
Exploitation: Malware weapon's program code triggers, which takes action on target network to exploit vulnerability.
Installation: Malware weapon installs access point (e.g., "backdoor") usable by intruder.
Command and Control: Malware enables intruder to have "hands on the keyboard" persistent access to target network.
Actions on Objective: Intruder takes action to achieve their goals, such as data ex-filtration, data destruction, or encryption for ransom.

Gaming Basis

  • Ultimately it is easiest to treat hacking like spellcasting.
  • Treat hacking requirements like a magic item or artefact. - it's not so much having skill but the acquisition of info or data that allows it to go off.
  • This creates a fetch quest like feel to get the info and tools required as well as provides a means for the rest of the party to get involved.
  • It is time extensive action that acts in conjunction with the other action.
  • It also has material components as ablative resources.  new code has to be treated as crafting. - it will cost time,money and other sources.
  • The hacker needs to operate in real time with the party and whenever possible, endure the same threats.
  • The hacking skill should be used to setup the  killing blow not the entirety of the action.

Designing a target

I'm splitting it into four categories: Goal, People, Processes, and Technology.


1. What is the purpose of the Hack?
The Purpose of hacking is as follows:
i. Message - the act is the message, often for political purposes.
ii. Money
iii. Sabotage
iv. Secrets
2. How traceable is the data received?


Human nature is a flaw and weakest part of an organisation.
1. How computer savvy is the people involved overall
2. Which people are "loose ends" (such as a janitor, someone in the sales department, etc) due to apathy (ex. using password for password)
3. does anybody have a "grudge" against anybody else that can be exploited?
4. Is the average employee a faceless minion, or is it a place where everybody knows whose there.
5. Are their any scandals that can be exploited?
6. Whom within the company will be most affected by the hack?


1. how large is the company?
2. How serious do they take internet security.
2. how likely is security processes are to be circumvented for other reasons (ex. key purchasing times for a company)
3. do they have relationships with other companies that might be easier to exploit?
4. how long have the users been using the processes?


1. What is the life cycle of the equipment?  If it's based on a 10 year interval, it might be easier at the end of it's life cycle.
2. How accessible is the equipment via wireless connection?
3. How often is the equipment and related software updated for security vulnerabilities?
4. What are the flags that will be set-off if they don't cover their tracks?
5. How automated is the target?  Are the doors, lights, temperature control, or even the fridge accessible on the network?
6. How easy is the location able to intercept communication?  A key way to discover you've been detected is that your radio communicators have stopped working.
7. how "user friendly" is the equipment used by the location.
8. how specialised is the tools used?  are the clients using dumb drones that are limited or is it a more traditional network of standard computer equipment and some servers.

Examples for Openings

1. email entry
2. physical key
3. social engineering.
4. failed updates.

One Last Thing

When we discussed this brainstorm, one of the things is what game you would use to simulate this conceptual model.  I'm still stewing on it, but I could see this for an espionage heavy game, such as a  tweaked ninjas and super-spies as well as spycraft.  Feel free to suggest others in the comments.

Season 8 Episode 15 - The Hacking the RPG
presented by Presented by Shane Harsch, Clark Valentine & Tim Rodriguez
Techsnap by Jupiter Broadcasting

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

DC Arrowverse 2016 - a review - part 4 - The Flash

We now come to the final instalment of the arrow-verse: The Flash

Season 01 was amazing and even if it felt like they wrote themselves into a corner, it gave them the benefit of the doubt this season.

However, Season 02 is nowhere near as strong as the first season, but may have laid down the groundwork for a great Season 03.

The Good

Cisco:  Cisco remains one of the best characters in the arrow-verse.  His humour, crossed with exploring his evolution into a meta was a fun little side quest.  I can't say more then keep being awesome.

Jim West:  A buddy of mine once said that Jim West was currently the best dad on television, bad judgement aside.  I agree with him.  The actor brings a joy to the character that makes you feel with him. While I am not a fan of police procedurals, I would watch a show called "lance and west" as both actors always bring their a game and had extreme chemistry off each other last season.

King Shark!  For it's budget, King Shark looked great.  I kind of want a more jokey character, as my favourite version is the one that was involved in secret six, but I'm impressed they were able to bring him to the small screen in the first place.

Harrison Wells: Tom Cavannah knocked it out of the park while playing a completely different character.  While Reverse Flash was a better overall character, seeing the earth 2 Harry was still a descent character in it's own right and showed his breath of skill.  Keep this man employed as he's one of your greatest gems.

Getting There

Iris: She's easily the most improved character and the only reason she didn't make the good is because they had her go through an arc to accept Barry as a future mate and then Barry blew it all away.  In spite of this, she makes a better sister then lover to Barry, and her high point is when the kids confront jim west on his wife and unknown kid.

Professor Zoom:  He started strong, was built up well, but it always felt like it was supposed to be the Doppelganger for Barry's dad.   His reveal kind of ruined the character, as he appeared as petty as he appeared on the outside.  Reverse Flash honestly did a better job in the 1st season, but he was still pretty good.

The Speed Force: This is more giving it the benefit of the doubt.  Using a method of storytelling much like the prophets from star trek deep space nine worked well enough, but I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or bad thing.

The Villain Cameos: I liked a lot of the new villains.  A personal favourite was the turtle and it annoyed me they killed him off.  Zombie girder was kind of fun as well.  Black Siren better be a reoccurring character until Laurel comes back as I like her cartoony style.  The meta that aged when he used his powers was heart wrenching.

Amanda Pays:  We need more of her, end of story.  She is inherently awesome.

The Meh

Barry Allen: Barry Allen is an idiot.  A lovable idiot, but an idiot nonetheless.  This season's wb drama involved stringing along a fellow cop, and monologue against the big bad causing disaster to all.  Barry's last steps in undoing his mother's death sure as heck wasn't smart either.  In spite of this, I really do like Grant, but he showed way more common sense in the crossover, while still keeping his dorky charm.

Caitlin Snow:  after playing such a prominent role in the first season, I was somewhat disappointed with the change.  She was the poisoned woman that everybody she touched ended up dying, sidelined hard for most of the season, and then used as the victim for the remaining part.

As much as I loved her doing Killer Frost, her alter ego, it's not enough to compensate.  which stinks because when whenever the actor is allowed to actually act, Caitlin Snow is as good as Cisco as a character (as shown by when they were imitating their earth 2 counterpart).

Detective Patty Spivot:  I liked this character, even if her name seemed kinda silly, but she's a living embodiment of Barry's idiocy.  Her ark looking for her dad's killer was great, but as soon as it was done, she was put on a train and vaulted out of the story.

The Bad

Jay Garrick: I found him kind of annoying even before he was revealed to be Zoom.  I get what they were trying to do, but the same thing was done on agents of shield with ward and better.

The sidelining of Barry's Dad:  We get Barry's dad out this season in the first few episodes and he disappears until it was time to kill him off.  I'm just glad they found a way to use the actor for a different character, as I have faith he will be a blast in this role.

Wally West:  CW seems to have only one stereotype when it comes to young black male.  While Jefferson Jax grew over time, their version of Wally west seriously cheesed me off.  I grew up with the DCAU and Young Justice have some definite opinions on what the "Wal-man" should be.

They didn't just make him black, they made him racially offensive at the same time.

The thing is there is the perfect model for the character that has already been defined by our media

If your going to make wally jim west's son, he should have been based on the following character.

Carlton Banks from the fresh prince of bel-air.

If they took the aspects of this character, then put him in the ringer that was laid down by the season, make his tongue his self defence mechanism.

If they did this, I think I'd be a serious fan boy of the character.

The ethics:  Despite being one of the lighter shows, I'd argue that it has one of the worst ethics.  Flash has a tendency to kill their enemies or seal them off and it bugs me.  Especially if the earth 2 enemy is usually a hero (atom smasher).  hell they even pointed it out on the crossover when livewire and silver banshee were locked up in prison, rather then a supervault without due process.  last season had a meta-human gitmo, but the first episode has a kill on a character.

Jesse Quick:  the actor was flat in her acting and has hand's down the worst line in the show.  That being said, I wouldn't mind her coming back, but please see if you can give the character a more solid base.

What I want.

Caitlin Snow needs a bigger role.  She's a great character with great chemistry,  and while I'd hate her to be a meta-villain, I kinda want to see her dorky self with powers.

Leonard Snart needs to unionise the meta-villains in this season.  Yeah he's dead, but it was a temporal anomoly and it would change the entire theme of the show to have to deal with an ethical villain instead of yet another speedster.   I hope he's allowed to return as a major player in the arrowverse once prison break is done.

Flashpoint should be the foundation that the arrowverse is made on. Barry's decision could explain why supergirl is now part of this world and be a great way to resurrect good characters (ex. Laurel).

Wally needs a full personality change as expressed above.  I don't care about the ethnicity, but whomever he's acting as isn't the wal-man.    I will see how it goes.

Iris needs to keep her improvements.  I like her having her own arc that doesn't involve barry and have her play the lois lane role of discovering stuff that other people don't.  I think she works better as a sister then a lover and if they just reconnected it, give us a season where iris doesn't have it hang over her head.  Hell, make her a metahuman that can assist with her sleuthing.

Grodd: I haven't mentioned Grodd yet, but I kind of want to see earth 2 gorilla city, even if it would kill the budget. :p

and above all else, I want writers that are well coordinated and the stupid drama that seems for the sake of drama that is inflicted on all arrowverse tv shows.  Supergirl used it the best, but you can tell even there it's still an issue and makes people act dumb.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

DC Arrowverse 2016 - a review - part 3 - Arrow

I really have a mixed opinion about this years season of Arrow.

I think it had some serious high points, but made some really dumb and / or bizarre decisions throughout the season.

I liked how it began.  Olly and Felicity had more or less retired and the rest of the cast was picking up the slack.  and the season was dealing with the aftermath of the last 3 seasons and how a new villain had moved into the vacuum.

The Good

Quintin Lance:  Scruffy has been the most consistent piece of acting and quality throughout this season.  Now that we have discharged the "vendetta against Olly", it showed how awesome he is.  His desperation and fall from grace was for all the right reasons.  And his response to Laurel and Sara throughout the season show he really tried to be a great dad, even when he was falling apart.

Thea:  She is easily the best of the "fighting caste" this season.  Dealing with her killer urges (that were resolved by vamping out Daimen Darkh), her daddy issues (which she's more or less over the shock that Malcolm is an absolute monster), and thinking outside the box when things are outside the niche, this is one of the few characters that didn't feel nerfed this season.  Plus Thea is scrappy as all hell and it really adds to the character.

Curtis Holt:  He feels like he's always been there.  He's a big geek, knows his stuff and adds a freshness that is long overdue. Well done. :)

Damien Darkh:  I think the character did a grand job as big bad.  He was punchable to a point where I wanted to hit the actor.  His plan felt more like a comic Raj plot, but unlike Raj from last season (whom felt like a killer puppy, especially with those eyes), there was no doubt he was the villain.  However, the villain kept letting them get away, despite being outside his weight class.  I'm still not sure how arrow got out of their fight with them.  but he really was a throw back to the cackling villains of the 80's, complete with killing subordinates when they failed.

I liked the use of explosive arrows, but honestly, the problem felt like they had to pull out a magical countermeasure against him out of his ass and that's bad writing.

Cameos:  I didn't watch Constantine when he had his own series, but his cameo was spot on and made me want to see more.  I loved Vixen's limited animated series and it was great seeing her in live action.  I'm also glad we brought back Ray: He's a serious Favourite.  Honestly their crossovers in the arrowverse are often better then the show's regular arcs, and flash being there as well, helps a lot.  Heck, the two parter that launched Dcs legends of tomorrow was descent, even if Hawkman came off as a creep (however see that thread for details).

Hell I loved Jeri Ryan's cameo and wish she would have had a bigger part.  For all the jokes about a borg bimbo, she really was one of the better parts of voyager and love to see her integrated better into the arrowverse.

Heck TV Amanda Waller appeared in a scene and it didn't suck. That impressed me something fierce.

Best Line: "you have failed this omelette"

Getting There

Oliver Queen:  Oliver's evolution from arrow to the Green Arrow was pretty good.  While not at the trick arrow level, I like what the character has done.   This is the season where Oliver Queen became a Magical girl whom won with the power of love.

As he was named by a poster on another forum: Magical Hoodie Ollie-chan (feel free to get everybody to say this).  I want the writers to embrace it, use the tropes and define the magic used because this has serious potential.

I also loved how Olly ran for mayor. It did cheese me off that we always cut after the debates so we never knew his positions and it's kind of funny how he ended up there.  I really want more Olly and less Green Arrow in the new season.  rebuild the city in the light rather then fight in the dark.

Ultimately Stephen Amell wants arrow to be Angel from Buffy.  He's not quite there. David Boreanaz has both the angst and comedy down pat during that era and it is a hard act to follow.  Plus for all his faults, Josh Whedon can write well.  For example, I lol hard when everybody thought Angel was angsting again, and he was just playing hooky and watching hockey.  I think Stephen has the chops, he just needs better writing support.

John Diggle:  I like the character, and the actor did a fine job.  I like his new hero costume: Spartan. While the helmet looks like Magneto Junior, I think it suits him well.  The only reason it's not in the good is the character didn't flow well in the first part when he was mad at Olly.  However, the stuff with his brother was interesting and flowed well, and his interaction with his wife and child is pretty awesome.

The Resurrection of Sarah:  I'm glad they brought her back a lot and the episode that they did it was in character for everybody involved.  The Resurrection was both organic, characters were in character, and sealed off the Resurrection plot device.  Plus having Constantine get back her soul was a great use of the character.

The Meh

Laurel:  This is a sore contention from me.  Overall Laurel did a fantastic job this season, up until her death.  It felt like a bad setup with the gravestone and I'm seriously going to miss her if they don't bring her back next season (and Quentin's response the episode afterwards coming to terms with it was heart-wrenching).  If they bring back her doppelganger (Black Siren), I'd be okay with the change, but getting rid of her annoyed the heck out of me.

Malcolm Merlyn:  I like John Barrowman and his character would be enjoyable, if he wasn't a large scale terrorist with a sizeable body count.  His waffling without punishment kind of came to bite them in the hand as he lost his title he fought so hard for.  However, I'd be lying if I didn't get a kick when he didn't show up with a group of assassins to give helpful tips and they should have extended it within the Arrowverse and even have him crash a commercial or two.  Honestly, his idea of "kidnapping his daughter to save her" is completely in character, as is his falling out with Olly.  I'm honestly not sure what you can do with the character at this point.

Anarky:  I have serious mixed feelings for this character.  It's kinda hilarious it's him,  more so then Arrow and company, that did the most damage to Daimen Darkh, but he was also used as a means to make Felicity suffer yet again.  I think his story-arc is done, but if they can use him effectively next season, I don't have an issue with it.

The Bad

Magic:  Magic was easily the weakest problem with the show.  The use of a "kill statue" as the villains macguffin.  it wasn't well defined.  It doesn't have to be for the watchers, but the writers really didn't have a clue, which is why Olly became a magical girl. :p

Someone will Die: this was stupid as somebody would be upset the results.  either it's a surprise and really doesn't make sense, or you feel bad about losing a great character, and most likely both.  When Laurel was selected, it was not unexpected, but disappointing, as said above.

The Felicity

Felicity is such a polarising figure that I'm including her outside the normal good and bad.  I have heard people spit at her name, and also those that are raving fan boys/girls because of her.

I will say I like the character ultimately, even if she is a magic hacker, but she's suffering from love interest syndrome.  Laurel suffered from something similar in the first two seasons and it's a place which seriously messes up characters.   I hate it when she cry talks and shows the hypocrisy of her actions, but Oliver was equally as dumb in how he handled his illegitimate child.  It's like they had to setup a train wreck to act as a wedge and would be damned if it actually made sense.  Worse, that wedge needs to stay separated.  That ship has sailed, because the writers broke it and are now trying to glue it together with crazy glue.  Worse, the hypocrisy when she was giving her mother advice with Lance just annoyed me.

Worse, I would argue Felicity is made for suffering according to the writers.  she was paralyzed for quite a few episodes due to a revenge hit.  The same episode, she was thrown into a gas chamber (and she's Jewish, so seriously the poorest judgement in the entire Arrowverse).  She also needed to make a snap judgement to nuke a city to save a planet, to getting fired at Ceo.  It feels beyond the standard hero suffering and it's got to me over time.

In spite of this , I liked the usage of her parents.  Her Mom is irritating, but understandable (even if she destroyed Lance's career).  I generally like her, but I can see how and why they used her.  Her dad was in a similar boat.  He's a criminal, but you get the vibe he would have been there for his daughter in all ways if he'd been allowed to be. This is why his mom got out of there.  He wasn't a monster, he was a temptation.

What I Want 

I want to see Olly in a light place.  This season started light and became more crushing as the time progressed, and honestly it sucked a lot of the life out of the season.  I'd rather Olicity to be dead and buried, but if it's brought back, it needs to be kept light and not a dominant aspect of the series. Diggle and Thea need to return and Quentin Lance needs a role that plays to his strengths. Hell, I'd love him to essentially replay his Dresden character, but that's unlikely, but the ex-cop hard boiled detective would work as well.

A lot of people are saying Daredevil on Netflix is what they want.  I want a more lighthearted adventure with magical girl aspects because I think it would be more enjoyable.  However, don't skimp on the fight scenes.

Plus next time could lead to a lot of changes as we review Flash in the final installment of these blog entries.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Little Known Facts about Common Races

Since we didn't do the twitch game on Sunday, here's a thread I started that should entertain you.

Feel Free to add your own obscure Knowledge. :)