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Reprogramming droids...

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Last session, one of my players tried to reprogram a Combat Droid to have him as his master... I assigned a Hard difficulty and he did not pass the check, so the Droids were left with their restraining rods...

 

Still, I think now that allowing this to the players could potentially derail a campaign, as they could be reprogramming any droid that falls into their hands to follow them as their masters... How would you deal with this situation?

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you could use obligation as a way of dealing with it.  if they start collecting droids that dont belong to them, their masters/owners may come looking for them (and probably not be happy)

 

5 obligation for a minor droid

10 for a good condition useful droid

15 for something big/expensive

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An Imperial patrol could take that illegal combat droid off their hands as well.  Along with a nice fat fine.

 

If the players go around thieving droids, do it back to them!  

 

Or an enemy group, knowing about their droid habit, could put out a droid as bait with a homing device or a nice bomb.

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My group's GM has allowed us to hold onto the two security droids we acquired, however has lead us to require access to someone involved in the manufacture of the particularly model of droid before we can have them reprogrammed. It could take us multiple adventures but it is giving our tech something to keep seeking!

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Reprogramming droids should be really difficult, otherwise everyone would be doing it all the time. Droids cost thousands of credits, and I can't imagine the manufacturers not figuring on someone trying to steal them. I'd make it Daunting at the very least, with upgrades to the difficulty based on how expensive the droid is and how high its level of function is. A dumb-as-dirt cargo loader might get one or no difficulty upgrades, while a surgical droid or battle droid would get four. And if the character rolled a Despair, just guess what would happen the first time they turned their backs on their "new" battle droid...

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Have others steal the droids back.

Have others reprogram the droids.

The Imps could get upset since battledroids are illegal.  Go trotting by a Imp barracks with 3 or 4 armed droids in tow and you'll attract some attention.

Have the droids rebel.  The reprogramming stuck, but you didn't memory wipe them.  They've now decided to turn against you.

If they get left behind to guard the ship or something, have them perform their own criminal activities, which in turn increases their obligation until they figure out whats going on.

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As Krieger22 said, it should be very difficult. Unless the player has extensive knowledge of the make and model, daunting task. Then I'd add setback die to represent the security fail safes installed into it's memory core by the manufacturer to prevent such a thing from happening. Probably 2 setbacks. As many people have already mentioned, it slicing droids were an easy thing, they would be completely useless, since as soon as your back was turned someone would reprogram it and walk off with it.

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As Krieger22 said, it should be very difficult. Unless the player has extensive knowledge of the make and model, daunting task. Then I'd add setback die to represent the security fail safes installed into it's memory core by the manufacturer to prevent such a thing from happening. Probably 2 setbacks. As many people have already mentioned, it slicing droids were an easy thing, they would be completely useless, since as soon as your back was turned someone would reprogram it and walk off with it.

I'd actually argue that some droids are probably designed for easy reprogramming, particularly low-end class 5 labor models. They aren't smart enough to handle multiple tasks, so instead you make them easy to reprogram for another purpose. This doesn't make them useless at all.

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As Krieger22 said, it should be very difficult. Unless the player has extensive knowledge of the make and model, daunting task. Then I'd add setback die to represent the security fail safes installed into it's memory core by the manufacturer to prevent such a thing from happening. Probably 2 setbacks. As many people have already mentioned, it slicing droids were an easy thing, they would be completely useless, since as soon as your back was turned someone would reprogram it and walk off with it.

I'd actually argue that some droids are probably designed for easy reprogramming, particularly low-end class 5 labor models. They aren't smart enough to handle multiple tasks, so instead you make them easy to reprogram for another purpose. This doesn't make them useless at all.

 

 

But class 5’s also tend to be relatively big. So it’d be a bit more noticeable if you walked off with one, lol, but you are right, they are relatively easy to reprogram, if you know how to do it. But someone with no or little experience that model would not be able to do it, or would have a very hard time doing it even with an “easy,” droid. And knowing how a class 5 is programed is much different than knowing how a class 1-4 works to reprogram it.

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You don't need to know about the specific droid type. That's way too specific for this game. When skill like Knowledge (Outer Rim) covers tens of thousands of worlds and Knowledge (Xenology) covers tens of thousands of species, I think it's safe to say that the Computers skill will be able to handle the reprogramming of any droid.

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I was thinking along the lines of possible setback dice to working with a new type of droid (well I would probably go the other way, give boost dice if its a droid type you know a lot about) but yeah, you're right.

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I think people are reading different things into the word "reprogram". There's no reason why it would be easier to reprogram a class 5 labour droid. You're not reprogramming it to perform a different task - that's accomplished by telling the droid "do this and this". You're reprogramming it to recognize a different person as its legal owner, which has nothing to do with what sort of task it's given.

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IMO it depends on the nature of the story and how it would benefit the game.  If the scenario involves slicing some droids in order to pull off a B&E, then go for it.  If the PC's are attempting to assemble a droid army, then I'd ask them for more specifics and make sure the party as a whole was interested in playing that sort of game.

 

One can imagine that some droids have self repair functions.  slicing them could result in a temporary control, but any sort of permanent control, IMO, should result in some sort of Obligation, if nothing else for maintainence/repair.

 

As in all things, it would depend on what the final outcome desired is by the PC's.

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As Krieger22 said, it should be very difficult. Unless the player has extensive knowledge of the make and model, daunting task. Then I'd add setback die to represent the security fail safes installed into it's memory core by the manufacturer to prevent such a thing from happening. Probably 2 setbacks. As many people have already mentioned, it slicing droids were an easy thing, they would be completely useless, since as soon as your back was turned someone would reprogram it and walk off with it.

I'd actually argue that some droids are probably designed for easy reprogramming, particularly low-end class 5 labor models. They aren't smart enough to handle multiple tasks, so instead you make them easy to reprogram for another purpose. This doesn't make them useless at all.

 

My example was based on the OP, which gave the specific example of a combat droid, not a a menial labor droid. Obviously I wouldn't put checks in place for a simple labor droid  :rolleyes:

 

They aren't looking to re-task the droid to do a different job, they want to reprogram the droid s so that it recognizes the pc's as it's master. Big difference there, and as such should be very difficult to prevent exploitation.

Edited by ramza82

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I've treated droids as property with licensing and ownership records.  Of course once you go off the beaten path and into a grubby asteroid pustule of a smuggler space-port, things are much more black market.  You can get bootlegs of your favorite holovids on every corner.  But droids are kind of expensive for your average thug on the edge...even the simple labor ones.  And occaisionally people hide things in droids that would make absconding with a droid as "loot" a really bad idea. 

 

Like the kind of bad idea that gets you shot and burned to a husk alongside your spouse before your swooshy haired nephew and his elderly confirmed bachelor friend can save you.

 

Make off with all the droids you want.  Though it means that it can happen to PC droids just as easily, which should be a constant source of paranoia and electronic terror-programming for them.  And someday you might giggle and roll your way into trafficking a looted droid that someone just happens to give a very big poodoo about.

 

All that being said, it's a fiat world...and I am a fiat girl...or boy.  Expecting extensive game mechanics, economics and other balances to keep players from acting in ridiculous ways (playing droid Pokemon for example) is a long wait for a train that won't come.

 

:Edit:  Above all the doom and gloom that can drop on the heads of droid looty players ... how are they getting their entourage of clanking hype-bots from point A to point B?  A cloud of droids is rather consipicuous, imo.  And if they are just selling them for quick credits they should be getting pretty crappy prices for them since the fence is going to have to potentially have the above-mentioned things happen to him/her/it, so the cash goes to the being with their fingers on the cutting board.

Edited by Callidon

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Droid army must be the new "You guys meet at a tavern" because I have been seeing it alot on these boards.

 

In any case, I think it was mentioned on one of another post, but if these battle droids are standard Clone Wars era B1 droids, then those things were being controled remotely. Being able to reprogram a single one should be a very difficult task.

 

However I will assume these were not B1 battle droids. If you are just looking for a reasonable explanation to dissuade your players for that course of action, the above scenario could be enough. But if you're your players really want to have this be the forefront of their story, then Tenrousei has the right idea. Consider having that be the story they want to tell.

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Taking a cue from the (arguably) canon setting of SWTOR, in which droid slicing and reprogramming comes up more than once: slicing a droid to temporarily recognize you as its master should be possible, and is a fun and interesting way of avoiding noisy and dangerous combat.

 

Permanently setting yourself as a droid's master should be difficult to impossible, depending on the droid. Droids have a variety of failsafes built in to prevent illegal usurpation of ownership rights, and combat droids have the highest level of this kind of security. It's certainly possible to slice around this, but just like self-repair systems mend damage, self-correcting programming restores their intended functions in time. For security and combat droids, this could be near-instantaneous (and raise alarms as well).

 

Some droids, like assassin droids, also have hardcoded ownership programming that literally cannot be changed. It's like a door that locks and vanishes once you turn the key; there's no access anymore. Only the legitimate owner may designate a new master for a droid with this kind of programming. This kind of programming is rare, but the HK-51 models had it; other combat models may as well.

Edited by Direach

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On 8/27/2013 at 1:54 PM, Direach said:

Taking a cue from the (arguably) canon setting of SWTOR, in which droid slicing and reprogramming comes up more than once: slicing a droid to temporarily recognize you as its master should be possible, and is a fun and interesting way of avoiding noisy and dangerous combat.

 

Permanently setting yourself as a droid's master should be difficult to impossible, depending on the droid. Droids have a variety of failsafes built in to prevent illegal usurpation of ownership rights, and combat droids have the highest level of this kind of security. It's certainly possible to slice around this, but just like self-repair systems mend damage, self-correcting programming restores their intended functions in time. For security and combat droids, this could be near-instantaneous (and raise alarms as well).

One way to express the sudden "Wait your not my master" moment, is by taking a cue from modern world. The droid updated its firmware/software/OS which restored its programming. After the update, the droids photoreceptors flicker to red and draws its gun on the slicer. Roll for initiative.

Edited by kaosoe

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So it has been a couple of years and we have Special Modifications and some cannon episodes of Rebels which shows droids being reprogrammed in a relative short amount of time. The first one is Season 3 Episode 17 where Agent Kallus reprograms Thrawn's Combat Droids to attack him and the other Imperials in a matter of minutes.  Then also in Season 3 Episode 16 the ISB are able to take over Chopper in a short amount of time almost as if they were able to install a virtual Restraining Bolt to control him remotely. So what I was thinking is what would be the rules for repeating what Agent Kallus did to Thrawn's Combat Droids in this system. The Special Modifications says Combat Directives are an Average (2 Purple) to program in 16 hours. I was thinking what Agent Kallus did was more like a Memory Wipe where he kept their programming in tact, but identified himself as the master and the other Imperials as the enemy. In order for Kallas to do this in the episode, the droids were powered down.

So my question is, what do you guys think the rules for doing the same thing as Agent Kallus to a powered down Imperial Combat Droid? 

One Scenario I can think of is using an Ionization Blaster and doing enough stun damage to an isolated Imperial Droid Combat droid to knock it out. The Ionization Blaster says it can knock out a droid for up to 30 minutes. In that scenario, the Slicer in the group would like to basically do a hard reset or memory wipe where it's Combat Directives stay in tact and the Slicer is just identifying his/her group as friendly and the Imperials as the enemy.

What do you all think would be a good base line of time needed to preform what I have described?

Technical Aptitude and multiple successes can of course can shorten the baseline amount of time, but I'd like to hear from the community what you all think is a good baseline time wise to memory wipe and identify friendlies and enemies to a combat droid. In my opinion,  I would suggest having the Droid Directive Templates chart in Special Modifications be the baseline to memory wipe if the droid came from a factory vs an Imperial Technician or Engineer programming it. In the case of the Engineer programming it, the Engineer's Computer skill including their Intelligence would be the difficulty if it is higher then the chart in Special Modifications for the type of droid.

Thrawn's reprogrammed combat droids for reference: 

 

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4 hours ago, Zombre said:

So my question is, what do you guys think the rules for doing the same thing as Agent Kallus to a powered down Imperial Combat Droid? 

 

One thing to always remember is context.

Kallus wasn't reprogramming much of anything. Those droids were Thrawn's automated sparring partners, so they were already programmed for combat, with Thrawn as a viable target. Kallus really just set them for a delayed power up and maybe reset the the safe word to "Banana Pancakes." The rest was already there, ready to go.

That probably didn't take any time at all.

Likewise Chopper's override programming was pretty much exactly what you called it. A remote override virus that essentially was just a software restraining bolt. To make it work you needed a Gozanti loaded to run that kind of system and crewed by a bunch of weenies with cyberbrains manually Piloting Chopper remotely the entire time. (Also I'm guessing Chopper's player couldn't make it that session). So this is more a GM story element than a checked action.

 

Quote

 

One Scenario I can think of is using an Ionization Blaster and doing enough stun damage to an isolated Imperial Droid Combat droid to knock it out. The Ionization Blaster says it can knock out a droid for up to 30 minutes. In that scenario, the Slicer in the group would like to basically do a hard reset or memory wipe where it's Combat Directives stay in tact and the Slicer is just identifying his/her group as friendly and the Imperials as the enemy.

What do you all think would be a good base line of time needed to preform what I have described?

 

Just to avoid abuse, I'd probably require a total reprogramming. The IFF algorithms of a Combat Droid would be a pretty secure part of it's programming. While I might allow some low level manipulation without much difficulty (add anyone with a red Palpatine "Make the Galaxy great again" ball cap as friendly until they act hostile or are otherwise identified as hostile) going so far as to totally flip the IFF is just too much. At that point you're completely changing the droids alliegence, so doing it should be on par with convincing a Stormtrooper to defect to the alliance.

 

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If you watch the clip, the droids don't only attack Thrawn. They took out the two stormtroopers before going after Thrawn. They were originally programmed to fight Thrawn but didn't attack other Imperials earlier in the show until Kallus modified them in that short amount of time. Maybe Kallus used a restraining bolt. It shows him putting his hand behind the first droid before the shot cuts away back to Thrawn observing the star map.

I guess what I'm asking is, could a restraining bolt that is installed on a droid be used in a similar manner as the scene from Rebels with the combat droids? Could the slicer controlling the restraining bolt force the Imperial combat droids to attack Imperials until the bolt is destroyed/removed?

I believe it requires a daunting resilience check by the Droid to make a movement/action other than what they are being controlled to do by the restraining bolt's controller.

So to do a memory wipe like the ones routinely done on C3PO, does it require the Slicer or Droid Tech to do a complete programming of Translation Directives within a 24 hour period? So what you are saying is that there is no factory reset proceedure for droids, no back-up storage in case the droid develops a quark or a virus to do a system recovery from? The basically have to format the hard drive and reprogram the operation system from scratch and do a fresh install?

So does that mean most Imperial Droids who go through routine memory wipes are out of service for 3-4 days being reprogrammed every couple of months?

That could make for an interesting opportunity to infiltrate an Ugnaught Imperial maintence bay to reprogram combat directives into Imperial Astromech droids.

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Special Modifications has a good section on Slicing and would make a great reference to base reprograming a Droid on. I would suggest looking at that section and building a multilayered set of tasks to achieve the desired result. Don't forget to have some ideas in mind for Threats and Despairs. For example:

Task 1: Access the system - choose a difficulty based on the type of Droid. Basically does the PC have the chops to do the job at all and what are the potential bad things that could happen at this stage.
Task 2: Once in the system you'll need to disable it's passive or active security - again choose a difficulty based on the type of Droid. Even if it's not a military or security Droid it's still going to have some level of resistance to tampering, the more intelligent the Droid the harder it should be.
Task 3: Reprogram - At this point you'd again have to choose a difficulty but now it should be based on what the PC wants the Droid to be able to do. Other things that could affect this could be if the Droid is aware of the change so it can pass as unmodified, is it going to go against it's primary programming, or is it just adjusting Friend or Foe.

Potential problems:
Failure - Failing itself should just be that you don't make it past that Task.
Threats - Up to you and what Task the Threat(s) are generated on. It could be as little as adding time to the effort to doing damage to the system (ie. Wounds), or the PC gets locked out and you have to start again but at a higher Difficulty, or if it's a military or security Droid maybe it wakes up and attacks... whatever makes sense.
Despair - Catastrophic failure, you burn out the system and Droid is useless or maybe even Self Destructs.

What you should avoid is making it too easy or generic, each Droid the PC encounters should be a little different to overcome and reprogram. 

Edited by FuriousGreg

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