I just read about the Personal Area Network (PAN) for Shadowrun and they mention that some areas like airports, corp buildings or major metropolitain centers, require you to have your PAN turned active. Why? and how are they enforcing this?

I can see how in a corp building where you have to pass a guard point, they can scan and see if your PAN is open. If not, they politely ask you to turn it in active mode. I still don't know why they would need that.

But what about an airport or like a shopping mall? How can they control this?

So what are the motivations for such etiquette or rules and how can you make sure people respect it?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I didn't think this was separate answer worthy, but consider today's consumer that has a smartphone. Especially with emerging technology, your visibility can say a lot to others about you and people volunteer that information because of the stuff that's tethered to that information that they want to use. \$\endgroup\$
    – CatLord
    Oct 9 '12 at 20:44
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Or it can be seens as a public versus private social network profile... There are actually apps out there using public profiles + foursquare check-ins to show on your map who are the women in your area, where they are, their names, pictures and interests. Creepy, and morally problematic, but it's a great live example of active/passive on a network. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 9 '12 at 22:57


This is the easy part:

Detect Active/Passive Wireless Nodes (Core Rules 20th, p229): You automatically find all of the nodes within Signal range that are in Active or Passive mode.


Detect Hidden Node (Core Rules 20th, p228) [First paragraph is about finding a specific node, less relevant] You may instead make a general search for Hidden nodes that are within mutual Signal range. In this case, the test is an Electronic Warfare + Scan (15+, 1 Combat Turn) Extended Test, rather than a Complex Action.

After that, it isn't difficult to send automated messages to Passive and Hidden nodes (excluding the ones registered to your system), along the lines of "In compliance to our internal rules, please turn your PAN to Active mode. If you cannot find how to do it in the next five minutes, security will be glad to come and help you do it."


An active PAN lets everyone see what is in your commlink, and more importantly what is slaved to it. Keep in mind that in Shadowrun, information is power, and having an Active PAN is willingly giving up information about yourself.

So it makes sense in the airport situation: you wouldn't want anyone boarding your electronics-stuffed plane with a commlink full of hacking programs, would you? Or with cyberblades, eyelasers, and ceramic guns subscribed to his PAN?

And given the paranoid nature of most companies in Shadowrun, probably everyone who can do it will request an active PAN, and track the most dangerous targets (or even not allow them to enter at all). Commlinks are nodes like everything else. Playing a hacker myself, if I could have every node in my environment be active... Oh the dream.

  • \$\begingroup\$ so if you have your PAN active, anybody can get in, see your public profile and see that you have a smartlink pistol on you and they can interact with it? Like...trigger? \$\endgroup\$
    – user4000
    Oct 8 '12 at 1:30
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ No, they can see the smartlink subscribed to the commlink, can probably see the model and all, but can't give it commands. That would require hacking the commlink, and then sending orders to the smartlink (or possibly, spoofing a command). Even if your smartlink is in wireless mode (in which case you deserve to be hacked :p), they would have to hack the smartlink first. The main difference is that a hidden node needs to be found, then hacked, while an active/passive node is found automatically. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 8 '12 at 1:39
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh, those helpful lads in security are always so JOLLY when they explain things to me. This "party submission position" is rather awkward though. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip
    Oct 10 '12 at 21:23

An active PAN publishes all sorts of information about you, constantly letting everyone around it know who you are and where you're at. For important security-minded locations they like to know who is there. When you're in active mode, it's like a security checkpoint that is being performed ALL THE TIME.

Mikalichov points out that they can simply scan the area for hidden or passive nodes, but they also have things like cameras, automatic doors, turnstiles, payment stalls. Anything that would detect a person that couldn't be associated with a PAN would raise a flag.

The work around, of course, is to carry two commlinks. One active with your legit persona being emitted, and the other one hidden and connected to your smartlink gun.

You can also simply turn it off. This is arguably the invisibility spell of the digital future.


You must log in to answer this question.