Dummy Security System Edit

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Characters without a lot of money (or who don’t want to spend it on an expensive system) may buy the physical trappings of a security system without all the technology to back it up. A dummy security system might come with stickers to plaster on the windows, or a sign to post on the front lawn (“Protected by WLD Security!”). Fake systems also offer dummy items such as motion sensors, cameras and touchpads. Other versions might threaten “Beware of Dog” or even play a soundtrack of a dog barking triggered by motion at the front door. Retail stores may similarly eschew real security for faux protection. The theft detectors at the door might look real, but are really just big plastic look-alikes. These fakes generally fool the lower-level criminals who aren’t willing to make trouble for cheap DVD players. Any trespasser who comes upon the dummy system may want to scrutinize it with an Intelligence + Larceny roll to determine whether or not this is a real system or just a mock-up.

Basic Security System Edit

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This is the security system you’ll find protecting apartments, town homes or small houses. It’s possible that a fool might protect his mansion with this system, but it’s unlikely. This core protection defends only the outside of the house from invasion. This basic system doesn’t put motion sensors inside or offer a zone-by-zone breakdown. Basic security offers a 60-second (20 turn) window in which a legitimate user (or intruder) can de-activate the system. After that period, the alarm goes off and the security company will contact the police, who are expected to show up within 15 to 30 minutes. Breaking into this type of security system (per the extended “Bypass Security System” roll) requires five successes.

Such a system generally has some combination of the following:

Touchpad: Inside the door is a touchpad for passcode entry (always numbers, never letters). If a character can pick the lock and get to the pad, he can operate at a +2 modifier on the Bypass roll. Note, however, that lock-picking begins the 60-second countdown. Each turn spent picking a lock is a turn diminished from this timer.

Lights and Siren: Basic systems have a nearly deafening alarm. This wailing siren or klaxon may be accompanied by flashing lights, coruscating just outside the front door. These lights are meant to notify neighbours and signal arriving police, and also tend to scare away trespassers. Neighbors or other potential witnesses may need to succeed on a Wits + Composure roll to notice the lights or sounds.

Two Windows, Two Doors: Most basic systems don’t technically cover all entry and exit points. A good rule of thumb is that two doors are covered, as are two windows. Everything else is untouched by the alarm system. A character might be able to discern which points are protected and which are not by making a successful Wits + Larceny roll. Penalties may arise (–2 for darkness, for instance).

Motion Sensor Light: This system usually offers a single motion-based light at the front door. Anyone coming to the front door is subject to being bathed in sudden, harsh light. Fooling the light requires slow movement and an extended Dexterity + Stealth roll. A character must achieve five total successes, and each roll is equal to 15 seconds (five turns) worth of time. If at any point the character moves suddenly (flinches away from a gunshot, sneezes, turns his head toward a sound), he voids his stealth and sets off the motion sensor. Setting off the motion sensor light does not set off the alarm. If it did, every raccoon sniffing around the driveway would bring the police.

Intermediate Security System Edit

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This is likely the level of security found in middle-class homes in both cities and suburbs. Such a system offers more than mere perimeter protection, and provides security all throughout the house, usually by using motion detectors in the upper corners of various rooms. This level of security is also present in most small businesses and offices. Intermediate security allows a 45-second (15 turn) window in which a user or intruder can de-activate the system. After that, a silent alarm goes off and alerts the security company, which then calls the home or business owner (by mainline or cell phone) and asks for a password. If the owner provides the correct password in 30 seconds, the alarm is shut down. If she does not provide the correct password during that time, the system contacts the police. Unless otherwise prevented from doing so, they show within five to 10 minutes. Bypassing this system requires 10 successes on the extended roll.

This system may have one or all of the following features:

Touchscreen: More than a simple number pad, a touchscreen is a computer with a touch-sensitive liquid crystal display. Attempts to bypass directly at the screen invokes a –2 penalty, because of the sensitive electronics. However, because this is a computer, a hacking attempt can be made at the touchscreen (which means taking time to pick the lock). Intermediate systems may have several touchscreens throughout the house, such as in the bedrooms or the kitchen.

All Doors, All Windows: Every point of entry is covered. Windows are also protected by a glass-break alarm, which is set off by the sound of glass shattering or overtly vibrating. Off-Site Access: Owners can operate their security systems from outside the home. This may involve a telephone call or programmable key fob. In doing so, a character can sound the alarm or turn it on or off, and can program lights or other electronic devices, such as garage doors or thermostats, to respond by the touch of a button. If access is granted via a keychain device, that device can be stolen. Alternately, characters can attempt to build a device themselves that will “hack” the system. Doing so requires an extended Wits + Crafts roll that suffers a –3 penalty (for improvising such a physical hack). Ten total successes are required; each roll is equal to 30 minutes.

Zones: The security company can tell which zone has been breached. The perimeter of the location is a single zone. Other zones are usually set up by room. Each zone is protected by a motion sensor. Characters walking through these areas must first disable a zone via the touchscreen. A character walking through his house to get a midnight bowl of ice cream runs the risk of setting off his own alarm if he’s not careful.

Panic Button: Intermediate systems come with a single button in the house that can be pressed to call the police. This button is not connected to the rest of the system, and, if the system is disabled, the button still works. It’s actually connected to the phone lines. If these lines are cut or the location’s power is turned off, the button will not work. Such buttons are usually kept in a safe location away from the reach of children, and are often at least partially obscured (in the bedroom behind a vase, for instance).

Advanced Security System Edit

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Advanced systems are typically found in large office buildings, labs, some lower-level government buildings and high-cost homes (mansions, estates, elaborate condominiums). This level of security is deeply complex. Advanced security will allow for 20 seconds (6 turns) in which a valid or invalid user can clear or bypass the system. Cameras focus in where the breach is occurring even before those 20 seconds are completed. Once the time is up, the system alerts police or building security. They show as fast as possible. Bypassing this system requires 15 successes to disarm, and, because the system is particularly sophisticated, the roll is made at a –2 penalty. A character can disable or modify the security system parameters (such as closing down elevator security or modifying password or keycard restrictions) from afar via computer. Doing so requires 15 successes on the Hacking roll. This roll is also made at –2 due to the sophistication of the system.

Some or all of the following elements may be present in this level of system:

Video Surveillance: High-tech security systems usually have video cameras connected to a closed-circuit TV system. These cameras are generally placed at all foot-traffic locations, such as hallways, elevators and offices. The cameras are meant to dissuade intrusion and to deter employees from stealing office supplies or engaging in any kind of corporate espionage. Cameras are generally not found in the lesser-traveled parts of a home or building such as ducts, access passages, elevator shafts, even some stairwells. Most cameras in this level of security travel a fixed path, and are not triggered by motion. They have a cone of sight, which is the area that the camera can see at any given time (if the camera moves, so does the cone). Sneaking past this cone requires a Wits + Stealth roll. (Modifiers to this might be +2 for a crowded hall or for an area in which the camera cannot differentiate between intruders and normal passersby or –2 for an empty room that offers no shadows or objects behind which to skulk.). After succeeding on the Stealth roll, a character may sneak past the cameras into a new location — and potentially a new camera’s cone of sight — or she may attempt to dismantle the camera with a Dexterity + Crafts roll. Success indicates the camera no longer has visual, but the system is alerted to the camera’s failure. Exceptional success means that the system is unaware of the device’s breakdown.

Key-Card: Some systems do not require passcodes for access. Instead, the system’s owner furnishes employees, agents or family members with key-cards. Those who possess these cards feed them into slot scanners or pass them over magnetic scanners like those found at grocery or department stores. The key-card might be as big as a credit card or as small as a key fob. These systems are tricky to fool (they’re so sensitive that they don’t always properly read the real key-card, much less a fake), so the only reliable option is to steal a key-card from somebody, which requires success on a contested Sleight of Hand roll.

Changing Codes: Some systems still rely on passcodes, but make it so it’s difficult to learn a code or give one out. These codes might change daily or even vary every five minutes. If the time between changes is long (a day or more), the system may email employees the code when it changes. If the code changes sooner than that, the company provides employees with watches, key fobs or phones that wirelessly receive the new code as it changes. Stealing one of these would require the appropriate Sleight of Hand roll.

Fingerprint Biometrics: In some systems, access is granted to a building (or to a particular room, computer or safe) by using a biometric scanner. At this level, this is almost always fingerprint recognition. Aside from chopping off an employee’s digit and using it to gain entry, the machine can be fooled in other ways. First is through computer hacking. If an individual can gain computer access to the system network (on- or off-site), he can do what’s called a “replay attack,” which means looping the last valid fingerprint over and over again. Any finger scanned for recognition ends up being identified as this last valid fingerprint. (Reconfiguring any biometric systems to do this requires eight successes on the extended Hacking roll.) Similarly, some scanners can be fooled by simple techniques such as smearing fatty residue across the scanner, dusting it with graphite powder or applying hot steam to the device. Doing this requires five successes on a Bypass Security System roll. Success on this roll doesn’t diminish any of the system’s other features, and the fingerprint scanner returns to full functionality within 30 seconds.

Access Tracking: A number of corporations actually track the movement of their employees through a building. The system may track them room-to-room or only when they travel between departments. The system shows the exact time each employee arrives in and leaves every area of the building. Some systems require key-card or passcode entry at every doorway. Every time the employee’s card or code enters the system, the system logs it. Day after day, an employee’s movements are tracked accordingly, painting a picture of where she goes and when. Alternately, each employee might be fitted with an RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tag, monitoring her location. The system is likely sophisticated enough to flag when someone is in an area that she shouldn’t be.

Bleeding Edge Security System Edit

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Few are willing to shell out the bucks for a bleeding-edge system like this. It’s too much money, too much trouble. These systems are universally hand-designed, and aren’t “canned” like most other setups. Only the richest of the rich possess such protective technological marvels. Characters may find bleeding-edge systems in museums such as the Louvre or the MOMA, the sensitive substations of the intelligence community or in the homes of paranoid billionaires. Bypassing one of these systems requires Herculean effort. A total of 20 successes is required on the roll, and the intricate system confers an automatic –3 penalty to any attempts. Moreover, the alarm trips after 10 seconds (meaning that an attempt must be successful within three turns, as the alarm will sound on the fourth). Finally, getting a hold of system schematics is all but impossible, because these systems are practically as unique as snowflakes. The designers may have only a few copies of the blueprints, and they are kept locked away beneath their own bleeding-edge security.

Bleeding-edge systems are likely to have many of the features of earlier systems (cameras, for instance), and also might include any of the following elements:

Full-Body Biometrics: The biometrics scanners in this system don’t just scan for fingerprints. A full-body scanner checks for fingerprints and two of the following: voice recognition, eye pattern, handprint, facial markers or gait analyzer. This means the system can identify individuals by the way they walk, the way they talk or all the unique features on the hand or face or in the eye. Some systems even reference national databases of biometric information and can identify criminals, terrorists or government agents. Pressure Pads: Anybody can buy or rig a cheap pressure pad under a small carpet. Anyone who steps on the pad connects two contacts and triggers an alarm. But these highest-end security systems aren’t content with just one. No, usually every floor is riddled with them. Each tile or square foot of wood is sensitive to pressure. When a room is closed off and the security is activated, any pressure upon those pads signals the alarm. Getting past them requires either turning them off, or somehow floating or flying over them. They trigger at 20 pounds of pressure.

Gates: In many mansions and museums, being caught trespassing in an off-limits room means staying in that room. The reason for this is that triggering any kind of sensor (motion, pressure, infrared) in a restricted area means the entries and exits become suddenly sealed by steel gates. Whether made of bars or steel mesh, these gates come crashing down and generally hold intruders indefinitely. Assume these gates to have the following stats: Durability 3, Size 6, Structure 9.

Safe Room: Safe rooms, made famous in the film Panic Room, are growing in popularity. Little more than a heavily fortified boxy room with one door, the safe room is a combination bunker, bank vault and bomb shelter. These rooms offer 10 inches of concrete defense on all sides, reinforced by steel sheeting and a steel door. The room is monitored by its own camera and security system, both of which remain unconnected to the main system. If the primary security is bypassed, the panic room’s system remains active. These rooms generally have 5+ hours of battery-powered backup lighting and offer a separate phone line with which to contact some manner of security. Safe rooms should be stocked with the appropriate survival items (first aid, flashlight, food and water), and may contain other additions (weapons, valuable goods). Assume that the door to a safe room has the following stats: Durability 5, Size 7, Structure 12.