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Shadows over Baltimore

Using Electronic Warfare

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Using Electronic Warfare Skill

Electronic Warfare pertains to the use of communications technology, from wireless devices to cryptography. Want to locate someone’s hidden PAN? Break the encryption on a drone’s system? Jam a corporate strike team’s communications? Electronic Warfare is the skill for the job. When dealing hands-on with communications technology, make tests using Electronic Warfare + Logic. When utilizing programs, use Electronic Warfare + program rating. Electronic Warfare skill plays a particular role in the following Matrix actions.


Detecting Wireless Nodes

Locating a particular active or passive wireless node within range (or all of them, for that matter) takes only a Free Action, no test required. Commlinks routinely scan for new nodes, so finding one is just a matter of looking it up. Finding a particular node in a crowded area might be more difficult: make an Electronic Warfare + Scan (variable, 1 Combat Turn) Extended Test against a gamemaster-determined threshold based on the difficulty of finding and selecting out the node in question.


Finding a wireless node in hidden mode, however, is more challenging. Even if you know what you’re looking for, you must still succeed in an Electronic Warfare + Scan (4) Test. If you’re just scanning for hidden nodes in general, or trying to pick the hidden nodes out from the non-hidden one, make the same Extended Test noted above but with a much higher threshold: 15+.


Encryption and Decryption

Files, signals, and devices may all be encrypted with a Simple Action. If you have the proper key, decrypting takes only a Simple Action. Without a key, you must employ a battery of advanced sampling, pattern-matching, and brute-force attacks to bypass the encryption. Make a Decrypt + Response (Encryption rating x 2, 1 Combat Turn) Extended Test to break the encryption. Note that some encryption schemes may incorporate IC as a second line of defense.


Intercepting Wireless Signals

Wireless traffic is broadcast through the air, so anyone within range of a signal can pick it up, whether they are connected to the transmitting party or not. Thus you can eavesdrop on the wireless connections of anyone whose Signal range reaches you. This makes it possible for you to even intercept traffic within a specific network—such as the PAN traffic between Mr. Johnson’s commlink and other devices on his network.


To perform an Intercept Wireless Signal action, make an Electronic Warfare + Sniffer (3) Test. Once the signal is intercepted, you can monitor the traffic and even copy/record/forward it without making any more Intercept Wireless Signal actions. If you want to block out some parts of the traffic or add in your own, you must make an Edit action. There is no way to detect interception of a wireless signal. Note that wireless communications are usually encrypted, so you’ll need to decrypt the signal before you can intercept or capture the traffic.



Jamming—also known as electronic countermeasures—requires special hardware that is heavily restricted. Jammers come in two varieties: area jammers and spot jammers. Area jammers broadcast over a large area (based on their Signal attribute), effectively blanketing out all wireless nodes in that area. Spot jammers concentrate their jamming in a narrow angle, which makes them very effective against individual targets. Jammers are opposed by electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), which filter out jamming signals. Jamming a wireless node cuts off its Matrix connection unless it is hardwired to a Matrix gateway. Initiating jamming is a Complex Action. Any device with a

Signal rating less than the jamming device’s Signal rating is overwhelmed.


Note that ECCM increases a protected device’s Signal rating for jamming comparison purposes.

Note also that jamming can be either selective (targeting specific frequencies) or a barrage attack that seeks to interfere with all frequencies.

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