In the paranoid world of Neon Twilight, security systems have become
not only the frontline against human intruders but also a necessary
defence against parasitic creatures and noxious diseases. Although
palmprint readers and passcards are still used for primitive systems,
the use of Iriscans, Biometric Scanners, Life Detectors and DNA-readers
has become ubiquitous in the Advanced nations for important areas.
Given the efficiency of these systems, intrusion has become increasingly
more difficult unless one employs expensive counter-measures. The
following systems and counter-measures are in general use in 2038:
Life Detectors are the most significant development in both military
and personal security, for they actually detect life-signs at distances
of up to 50 metres, even through walls and other obstacles. Their
versatility has useful applications in tracking and hunting, but their
expense and bulk (each device weighs about 40 kilos) makes them portable
only on vehicles.
Life Detectors are used only in the most sensitive sites. The image
from an LD is usually blurry, and animals of approximately the same size
as a human can fool the sensor. Countermeasures: unfortunately none.
Certain types of material, such as lead, can shield the person, but
Life-shields are even rarer and more expensive since they are used only
by military Special Forces.
Biometric scanners perform a micron-level scan of a person's body,
especially the facial features, and then compare with a smart
adaptive image in the databank. Changes in weight, glasses,
broken noses and such are corrected-for by the scanner. The
bio-scanner also samples a person's genetic code from the particles
floating around the body and compares it to the databank in
microseconds. Bio-scanners are non-intrusive - a person walking
through a security gate is not even slowed down during the
procedure, and probably won't notice it. Doppelganger Skins were
invented to bypass biometric scanners : the skin is grown from the
DNA of an approved employee from the databank and molded to conform
to the person's physical features. This is, of course, an expensive
and time-consuming process, and will only last for about a day before
deformities in the 'skin' develop and are noticed by biometrics.
Keypads and cardlocks are generally considered as obsolete as
circuit-break alarms, but magnetic locks are still used by the general
populace the way TwenCen people used Yale locks. Maglocks
require a proper passkey, usually in combination with another
security system. Bypassing either device does not require a Photonics
roll; a Security roll will suffice.
Iris-scanners were an excellent security system about twenty years,
when few people had the necessary genegineering skills to grow a
cloned iris on short order. Nowadays such operations are common on
the black market, and Iriscans are no longer the cutting edge. Iriscans
rely on a weak laser to scan the iris of a person's eye. An iris has
more than 250 discrete unique elements, as opposed to only about 35
for fingerprints, and an iris does not change over the course of a
lifetime, a significant advantage in areas (such as executive suites) where
non-intrusive polite systems are required. Iriscans are the
most reliable system (1 in 1 million chance of error), and are used
in areas where mistakes are unacceptable.
Sniffers take millions of air-samples from around an object/person
and determine the chemical composition based on free-floating residue.
Only super-hermetically sealed objects do not emit residues. Sniffers
are good for detecting weapons and explosives, but poor for personnel
identification. As such they are rarely used.
Heat sensors detect any changes in ambient room temperature and/or
localized sources of heat/cold which may be human-shaped. Heat
sensors are also part of the fire-detection system. Fuzzballs are
small gadgets which emit waves of either heat or cold so as to
conceal a person's thermal signature. They must be properly
calibrated to the sensor's detection parameters or they will fail.
Since heat-sensors must have high detection thresholds (or they
would give false alarms on every warm day), they can be avoided
by using Coolsuits set below the activation threshold.
Pressure sensors are either simple pads which activate an alarm
when stepped upon/touched, or more sophisticated room sensors which
detect changes in ambient pressure, indicating a break-in. The
latter are often found in pressurized chambers such as bank vaults
and laboratories. Pressure sensors are only used in areas which are
Cameras are capable of switching between spectrum frequencies such
as infrared, ultraviolet and even gamma. Smart cameras (nicknamed
smarteyes) are connected to citizen/criminal databanks which can
identify a person from their posture/appearance/ facial
features/voice or other characteristics. Regular cameras are the
size of a marble and a normal building has hundreds of them
installed in many places. Unlike today, there are no donut-munching rent-a-cops
looking at the video output of every camera. Such a task would take
too long, and security guards are notoriously unreliable at this boring function.
Instead the computer system uses pseudo-AIs (or very rarely Great Minds)
to detect intruders by identifying the shape of moving objects in
the picture. Once the PSAI is reasonably certain of a problem, it
alerts human supervisors. Countermeasures: Small holographic projectors
can be used to take a snapshot of a location and project it by laser
into the camera's viewer. Stealthsuits can be used to evade visual
detection or to alter the shape/outline of the intruder, confusing
the PSAI. Databank profiles can be altered so that the PSAI indentifies
the intruders as friends, even if they're carrying an arsenal of
weaponry. Tiny cameras can be shorted-out by a strong electromagnetic
Laser audio is a acoustic sensor system which can be used to hear
tiny noises from across a hall by picking up the vibrations off any
smooth surface (such as glass). Laser audio can be blanked with
white noise generators or subverted with false noise recordings.
Absolute silence requires Stealth + Dexterity [diff 8] rolls.
Motion sensors are usually combined with millimetre-radar to detect movement
within certain specific parameters, and
can thus be avoided by moving within their 'safe' movement rate. This
can be as slow as 100 centimetres per second. Really
paranoid security can calibrate the parameters to zero if they are
sure no insects will ever enter the room. Motion sensors are prone
to false alarms, so are used only in ultra-secure installations.
Sonic screens are harmless barriers which keep out insects and other
vermin by inducing a painful planed signal to anything smaller than
a cat. They kill parasites and bugs on contact and are often
installed in office building doorways and windows. See 'sonic
shower' for more information.
Players roll Security Skill + Perception vs. Sensor Rank + Guard's Security Skill
to determine what kind of security is present.
Players then roll Security Skill + Dexterity(or sometimes Intelligence) vs. Sensor
Rank + Guard's Security Skill to avoid the sensors. Photonics rolls may be optionally
required. If the system/guards are on alert or suspicious, they get to counter-roll
against the player using Security Skill + Sensor Rank. The following difficulties are
used if the player uses the mentioned countermeasures. If not, then all difficulties
|1||Window Alarms, Pinlocks, Cardlocks|
|2||Light beams, Cameras, Sniffers (people)|
|3||Maglocks, Smarteyes, Heat sensors|
|4||Iriscans, Motion or Pressure sensors|
|5||Biometric Scanners, Sniffers (explosives, guns)|
For a detailed look at present-day security developments, read this excellent
article on millimetre-wave detectors from New Scientist.