Computer Use Skill (Fallout Supplement)

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See the d20 Modern Core Rulebook and d20 Apocalypse for more information on the use of this skill.

Computer Use (Int)[edit]

The following information overrides the default Computer Use skill rules.

Trained Only


In Fallout, every use of a terminal requires the use of the Computer Use skill, as computers are primitive machines and knowledge of how to use them is uncommon. So no matter if you just want to read a research log or use it to turn the lights off and on.

Find File[edit]

Finding public information, such as on a Vault-Tec public network in the Vault you were born in, does not fall under this category. This use pertains to the searching of files on unfamiliar networks.

Size of Network DC Time
Personal Terminal 10 5 rounds
Office Network 15 5 minutes
NCR Ranger Network 20 10 minutes
Vault-Tec Network 30 20 minutes
Modifier DC Mod Time Mod
Hardware Damaged +5 +5 rounds
Data Deleted +5 +5 minutes
Data Erased via EMP +20 +10 minutes
Low-Level Encryption +5 +5 minutes
Mid-Level Encryption +10 +10 minutes
High-Level Encryption +15 +15 minutes
Defeat Computer Security[edit]

Some computer security cannot be bypassed, such as computers that are protected by a complex AI or secured by organizations such as the Enclave or Brotherhood of Steel. In these cases, your GM will tell of this. However, some AIs may degrade, or power failures will cause a glitch in the security systems, allowing you to attempt to defeat the weakened security measures. This step can often be avoided with a password, though the password in question may only grant certain privileges. Also remember that not every terminal is locked or network protected. Some are unlocked (especially wastelander terminals), though some permissions may be restricted (and require a Computer Use check to defeat computer security).

Level of Security DC Time
Wastelander's Terminal 15 1 minute
Small Bunker 20 5 minutes
Corrupted AI or Minor Military Base 25 10 minutes
Functioning Vault or Major Military Base 30 15 minutes
Enclave/BOS Bunker or Advanced AI 40 20 minutes
Computer Hacking[edit]

Some networks can be accessed via what remains of the interweb; most, however, can only be tapped into by a user who physically accesses a terminal connected to the network. While networks where once overseen by a system administrator — the person in charge of the network, many are left unsupervised except by AI and automated security systems. Sometimes, however, such as in the case of BOS, Enclave, NCR, and other organizations (including Vaults), a system administrator will almost be present (especially the BOS, who may have multiple scribes serving as administrators). Several steps are required to hack into a site:

Covering Tracks: This step remains optional, but the DC to do so is increased to 25.

Access the Site: There are still two ways to do this: physically or over the Interweb.

Physical Access: This is often the only method available when hacking a network. Doing this requires defeating the computer security (see above).

Interweb Access: Reaching a site over the interweb requires two Computer Use checks. The first check (DC 15) is needed to find the site on the net. The second is a check to defeat computer security. Once a character has succeeded in both checks, the character has accessed the site. This option is usually only available with military, government, or large corporate networks.

Locate What You’re Looking For: To find the data (or application, or remote device) the character wants, make a Computer Use check. See Find File above.

Defeat File Security: Some networks (namely BOS, Vault-Tec, Enclave, and possibly NCR) have additional file security. If that’s the case, the character needs to make another check to defeat computer security when accessing files or performing additional functions.

Do Your Stuff: If the character just wants to look at records, read unencrypted logs, ect., no additional check is needed. A character can also download data to a PIP-Boy, data disk, or other medium, although that often takes several minutes to complete. Altering or deleting records sometimes requires yet another check to defeat computer security. Other operations can be carried out according to the Computer Use skill description.

Defend Security: If the character is the system administrator for a site (which may be as simple as being the owner of a terminal), they can defend the site against intruders. They can also hack into the main terminal of a network (such as an Overseer's Terminal or the similar) and take control, acting as the system administrator. The rules for Defend Security remain unchanged.

Degrade Programming: Fixing the degraded programming requires 2 hour and a Computer Use check against a DC equal to the DC for degrading it + 5.

Scope of Alteration DC Time
Crash Terminal 15 5 minutes
Destroy Programming 20 15 minutes
Damage Programming 25 20 minutes

Write Program: The DC to write a program is increased to 25; the time required is increased to 2 hours. The rules otherwise remain the same.

Operate Remote Device[edit]

Many devices, such as doors, gas vents, robots, ect. are computer-operated via remote links. If the character has access to the computer that controls such systems, the character can shut them off (or turn them on!) or change their operating parameters. The DC depends on the nature of the operation. If the character fails the check by 5 or more, the system immediately alerts its administrator (assuming there is one) that there has been an unauthorized use of the equipment. An alerted administrator may attempt to identify the character or cut off his or her access to the system.

Type of Operation DC Time
Shut down or activate passive remote (including elevators and door locks) 15 5 rounds per remote
Shut down or activate active remote (including alarms and robots/turrets) 20 5 rounds per remote
Reset or change parameters for (non-sentient) robots/turrets 30 5 minutes per remote
Self Destruct (User sets the timer) 25 2 rounds
Change passcodes 20 5 minutes
Modifiers DC Mod Time Mod
Hide evidence of alteration +5 +2 minutes
Unprotected Terminal -5 -5 minutes
Factory or Office +5
Vault or NCR security +10 +1 minute
BOS or Enclave security +20 +5 minutes

Try Again?: If you fail a Computer Use check, you can retry without penalty assuming that the network is still online and there is no system administrator. If there is a system administrator, they may have been alerted and hacking a network or terminal may be harder. However, the GM is advised to institute a limit of four tries per terminal. After which, they will require passwords.

Special: The DCs for using Computer Use to operate starships remains the same.

Communication Operation[edit]

The following uses of Computer Use are used when operating communications systems such as radio towers, or even HAM radios. Use of this skill is unnecessary for using a PIP-Boy to intercept public (i.e. open) broadcasts (assuming the character knows how to use a PIP-Boy) or for using a box radio to listen to the radio.

Communication Task DC Time
Detect/Establish Open Broadcast 5 1 round
Break/Establish a Secure Broadcast * 5 rounds
Hide/Detect Piggybacked Broadcast * 1 minute
Scramble/Unscramble Broadcast * 1 minute
Triangulate Broadcast 25* 5 minutes
Interference DC mod Time mod
Minor Noise/Radiation +5 +5 rounds
Heavy Noise/Radiation +15 +2 minutes
Weak/Distant Signal +5 +5 rounds
Faint/Very Distant Signal +15 +2 minutes
Heavy Storms +10 +1 minute
Hurricane +20 +2 minutes
Boost Broadcast[edit]

A character using the appropriate communication hardware can attempt to boost an incoming signal in an attempt to punch through signal degradation and background noise. When attempting to boost through interference, the character makes a Computer Use skill check equal to 5 (or an opposed Computer Use check if the signal is secure) + the DC mod for interference. If successful, the signal gets through the interference. Use the table above as a guide for DC mods to break through interference. As always, GMs should always use their best judgement if their feel the table does not accurately portray the situation.

Break/Establish a Secure Broadcast[edit]

A secure channel offers some protection from a conversation/data transfer from being monitored by encrypting the signal. The character establishing the channel makes a Computer Use skill check to establish the Break DC of the broadcast. Anyone attempting to monitor/intercept the broadcast must break this encryption first by making an opposed Computer Use check. Secured broadcasts can still be detected with a DC 5 Computer Use skill check, but this does not break the encryption. This use of the Computer Use skill takes a –4 penalty unless the character also has the Broadcast Operator feat.

Detect/Establish Open Broadcast[edit]

Any broadcast sent directly to a specific piece of communications equipment (HAM radio, PIP-Boy, radio dish, ect.) will automatically be detected by the device the broadcast is being directed at. This use of the skill is used when trying to detect any other broadcasts. Open and unsecured broadcasts can be easily detected and monitored if someone is looking for them. It is just a matter of scanning frequencies. Secure broadcasts can also be detected just as easily (DC 5) if being watched for, but as they are secured this will do no good unless someone can break the encryption (see Break/Establish a Secure Broadcast above). An open, unsecured broadcast can also be sent out with the use of this skill.

Hide/Detect Piggybacked Broadcast[edit]

A character can attempt to hide a transmission by using an exotic frequency or attempting to piggyback the transmission on top of another signal source (such as a laser or something). Unless someone is expecting such a broadcast, or actively searching for such broadcasts, the probability of such a transmission being detected is very low. Detecting hidden or piggybacked signals requires a keen communications equipment operator to detect, and so the the Computer Use check to detect the signal is an opposed one, and the person attempting to hide/piggyback their broadcast must roll their Computer Use (with a +20 bonus, however) check any time someone within range attempts to detect broadcasts. This use of the Computer Use skill takes a –4 penalty unless the character also has the Broadcast Operator feat.

Scramble/Unscramble Broadcast[edit]

A character can spend each combat round attempting to scramble (i.e. jam) any incoming or outgoing communication signals within the range their own equipment allows. At the beginning of each round, the character should make a Computer Use skill roll to set the DC to get through the jamming. Any other broadcaster within range must make a successful Computer Use skill check vs. the DC set by the broadcast jamming equipment operator. If more than one jammer is in range, each must be defeated in turn before a signal may be pushed through. If an unmanned computer receives the transmission, jamming the transmission requires a Computer Use check (DC 15). This use of the Computer Use skill takes a –4 penalty unless the character also has the Broadcast Operator feat.

Triangulate Broadcast[edit]

A broadcast that has been detected (or broken, if it's secured), can be triangulated by a character with this skill who makes another skill check (DC 20) to determine where that broadcast was sent from. However, if the character is attempting to trace a hidden or piggybacked broadcast back to its source, the check is an opposed skill check as with detecting the broadcast (the broadcaster retains their +20 bonus with this use). The accuracy of this depends on how much the character beat the DC by, as shown in the table below. This use of the Computer Use skill takes a –4 penalty unless the character also has the Broadcast Operator feat.

DC beat by Accurate within
0-5 10 miles
6-10 5 miles
11-15 2 miles
16-20 1 mile
21-25 1/2 mile
26-30 1,000 feet

Try Again?: If you fail a Computer Use check to break through a jam, or detect or break an open or secured broadcast, you can retry without penalty assuming that the broadcast is still being sent out.

Special: A character may take 10 when detecting broadcasts, or attempting to establish an open broadcast. A character may take 20 when detecting broadcasts.

Time: Scrambling and unscrambling, hiding a broadcast, and breaking and establishing a secure broadcast are all full-round actions. Detecting a broadcast and establishing an open broadcast are move actions.

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