Each of the five mage Talents has changed, in response to the new conditions, phenomena, and opportunities encountered on Earth. Beyonders — the four intelligent, nonhuman races from that other world — have adapted to the new circumstances, learning new applications of magic and helping Earthers develop their own magical Talents.
We begin with cracking — hacking computers with magic — which illustrates many of the changes in magic that lead to other developments. Cracking is an inextricable result of the interplay between magic and technology.
Cracking — Because of the way electricity and magic interact (gnarly details available upon request), shadow walkers can hack computers without touching the keyboard at all. By entering the Shadow World, they can access a computer directly.
Magical access grants crackers super-user privileges. (To the uninitiated, that means they can do the hell they want.) They don’t need to know passwords, they don’t need to know programming, they don’t need to know the specifics of the interface, they don’t need to hack anything.
This is a problem, so technomages created constructs, technomagical devisements designed to protect a computer from supernatural intrusion. Shadow walkers have to defeat the construct to access the computer.
Constructs are artificial Shadow Realms, and they can look like anything: An estate villa, in Meiji-era Japan. A section of beach at Normandy, circa 1944. A weird technicolor domain of fragrances and swirling lights, something like living in a lava lamp. Anything the construct’s controller can imagine can be implemented.
Anyone can enter a construct, via the right spell, technomagical devisement (called a shadowjack), or spirit power. In the Outlaw, the whole party helps hack a computer: everybody cracks, everybody hacks.
Cracking the construct involves entering the Realm, exploring it, and unlocking its secrets. It’s a lot like raiding a Chartered Company compound or exploring a dungeon. Exactly like it, in fact, as the exact same skills can be used.
To get through a door, you pick the lock just like the real world. To sneak, you use your stealth skill. To shoot, your firearm skill.
Everyone can contribute. Everyone has a role to play.
Crackers, of course, can cheat. They can use their magical Talent to edge around the physics of the construct. To open a door, they can just wave their hands, affecting the artificial realm directly.
Cracking a computer isn’t a solo adventure: it’s fun for the whole party. It’s different every time. Everyone can help, but crackers do it better.
That’s magical hacking in the Outlaw.