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Are droids hackable in the Star Wars universe?

For example,

  • could an Imperial hacker hack into C3P0's memory (let's say while the poor robot is in pieces in the Cloud City, before Chewie finds and rebuilds "him")? Could said hacker read and possibly alter C3P0's memories? Could he install "subliminal suggestions", in other words, viruses?
  • could the Rebels hack, in the very beginning of "The Empire Strikes Back", into the Imperial Probe's AI remotely (via a WiFi or similar channel) and alter either or both the droid's perception (so that it sees only the snow fields, not the Rebel Base) and the signals it sends out, back to the Imperial recon divisions?
  • could Imperial hackers aboard the Death Star hack into the attacking X-Wings' astromech droids (R2s) and cause the starfighters to crash into the walls or at least malfunction?

If so, what are the game mechanics for droid hacking, in any Star Wars roleplaying game (d6, d20 etc)?

I know the idea itself feels somewhat strange to the world -- even though R2D2 does hack into the systems of the Death Star in "A New Hope", finding out where Leia is held captive and stopping the walls of the trash compactor before it would kill the "party" --, yet gaming in this day and age brings up such "technological updates" almost unavoidably, as both players and GMs think about computers and systems with an up-to-date mindset.

Note: Should you feel interested, I have asked practically the same Q on scifi.SE without the gaming part. :)

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All we see about the films (IV, V, and VI) is form the perspective of C3P0 as recounted for the Ewokes -- Simplistic, black and white, and biased towards the Rebellion. What would an Ewoke know of "hacking"? Best gloss over that... ^_~ –  Sardathrion Jul 3 '13 at 8:24
I think the first half of this question would get a better response in Science Fiction & Fantasy(scifi.stackexchange.com/). –  BESW Jul 3 '13 at 8:27
@BESW Sure, I've thought of that myself, and probably will ask the Q there as well, without the RPG part. However, my main motive -- being, atm, a Star Wars GM -- is to learn the most official (G/T/C/S/N-canon, in this order) stance and gaming solution. :) –  OpaCitiZen Jul 3 '13 at 8:30
"Most official stance" is what scifi.se can help you with. "Gaming solution" is our bailiwick. –  BESW Jul 3 '13 at 8:35
Some of the books have droids being (forcibly) reprogrammed, including by other droids. I'd consider R2-D2 getting into the first Deathstar systems to really be a case of an unlocked terminal. Luke uses a trick in one book to freeze and wipe a prison-droid's memory (using a modified restraining bolt). For an RPG setting... Is this being used by or against the PCs? –  Clockwork-Muse Jul 3 '13 at 16:08

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

From Star Wars: Edge of the Empire p. 107, which describes the Computers skill:

This skill also governs the repair of a damaged computer system, defensive actions against an intruding slicer, and routine maintenance necessary to keep the software on a computer or a droid running effectively.

Further down the page:

Efforts to alter a droid's programming or gain access to its memories require the acting character to make a Computers check.

And further:

The difficulty for a Computers check is calculated based upon any defenses present within the system and the inherent sophistication of the system against intrusion.

How long it takes to hack a droid seems to be left to the gamemaster's discretion:

The difficulty for a Computers check is calculated based upon any defenses present within the system and the inherent sophistication of the system against intrusion. Slicing into a tapcafe's systems to alter a transaction might be trivially easy, while a military outpost could be hardened and prepared for a slicer's assault. In general the more vital the materials protected by the system, the more difficult the system should be to overcome.

Additional [successes] may be spent to reduce the time required for the action undertaken. This is generally representative of the character's extensive familiarity with systems of the type targeted.

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That's pretty useful, thank you. How long do these examples take in-game? –  OpaCitiZen Aug 14 '13 at 7:16
@OpaCitiZen It depends on the result of the dice pool mostly. –  MrJinPengyou Aug 14 '13 at 12:00
@MrJinPengyou Okay, how long do they take on average? :) (And what's the fastest possible result?) –  OpaCitiZen Aug 14 '13 at 14:12
I updated the answer to incorporate information about difficulty and how successes affect time. From what I can tell there are no hard and fast rules for how long a hack would take. –  Erik Schmidt Aug 15 '13 at 2:13

If you take only the movies as canon, hacking is mostly not part of the Star Wars universe. Only highly specialised droids like R2-D2 are seen doing it, and he is shown to be a highly exceptional droid at that (there are many R2 units around, but R2-D2 is shown to impress other characters with its resources, showing he is "above average R2"). Among other things, droids do not seem to be networked unless explicitly and physically connected: wireless communications are only used as a holographic substitute of the telephone (there are cables everywhere in Star Wars).

In the expanded universe, however, there are some examples of movie-like hacking.

If your question is mostly about the mechanics, the Star Wars RPG by WEG (usually called Star Wars D6) has the Technical -> Computers (p62) and Technical -> Droids (p63) skills precisely for this kind of actions. Note that it is assumed that droids and computers are different things, and that the hacker needs physical access to the system: "The programmer must have access to a computer or datapad, which must be jacked directly into the droid's memory for programming" (p63). All page numbers refer to the 2nd edition revised rulebook.

Unfortunately I do not have my d20 rulebooks handy, but there is probably one or two skills for that too in Star Wars d20 (SAGA or not), probably depending on Intelligence and trained only.

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Actually, the droid battle army from Episode I is totally 'networked' wirelessly and remotely controlled from a space ship in orbit. (Or are we still ignoring episodes I through III?) –  fgysin Oct 8 '14 at 14:16

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