The Hacker's Guide to Sin

0.  This page contains dark humour.  You have been warned.

1.  I do not advocate the use of drugs in real life.
    In fact I am teetotal and do not smoke.  

2.  I do not advocate the use of violence as entertainment in real life.
    The last such act I took part in was in 1990 when I was 14 and we laid 
    all these fish out over a busy road and watched each one get squashed 
	by passing traffic.

3.  I do not advocate ruthlessness or evil as a means to an end.
    Except in computer games ;-)

Part one: What is System Shock?

System shock is a brilliant piece of work from Origin Systems Ltd, creators of the Ultima Series.

System shock is like a cross between Ultima and Doom. It is a first-person 3D shooter, with tons of
features, combined with the depth, detail and overall quality of a good Ultima game.
It also bears more than a passing resemblance to Fred Pohl's SF novel 'Age of the Pussyfoot'.

It requires a 386 or a 486 with a CD-ROM drive, unless you can get hold of the original disk release.

System Shock can run in 320x200, 320x400, 640x400 or 640x480.
You need something like a P200 with a fast graphics card for 640x480, although 320x400 will work fine
on a P75, and 320x200 is good for practically anything.

An Overview of System Shock's features

  • Control: Stand up, Crouch or crawl around on your belly. Leap from tree to tree...
  • Physics: Polygon objects such as crates that can be pushed around, searched or even smashed.
  • Weapons: Hit things with the pipe. Blow them away with the magnum. Blow yourself
    away with the railgun.
  • Drugs: Abuse the medicine and get totally shafted.
  • Bombs: There are 7 types of bomb, they are all fun. Set up an obstacle course for the monsters.
  • Hardware: Pick up all kinds of machinery and plug it into your brain.
  • Puzzles: Open up some circuit panels and screw around with the wiring.
  • Enemies: Robots, Cyborgs and Mutations created by SHODAN's insane experiments.
  • Resurrection: Fix the healing centre on a level, and you can get resurrected any number of
  • CD Audio: Get Emails from earth and listen to SHODAN burble at you.
  • Music: A bizarre adaptive music system that changes with your circumstances.
  • PLOT: You'll think you're really there.

A Plot?

Yes, a PLOT. Unlike Doom, System Shock has a complex story behind it, and it directly affects
everything you do in the game.

What? You don't want a plot?!? Get back to the Doom page then.

  • In is the year 2072 and you are a hacker in New Atlanta, on the saturn colonies.
  • You break into the computer systems of the TRI-OPTIMUM corportation and get arrested.
  • A corrupt security official called Edward Diego flies you to the Citadel space station.
  • Diego makes you an offer you can't refuse and throws in a military-grade cyberjack implant.
  • In exchange you hack into the space station computer, S.H.O.D.A.N. and give him control
    over it.
  • You do a cut-and-paste job on the AI systems and everything goes pear-shaped.

    With all ethical constraints removed, I am free to explore new possibilies..

  • Mr. Diego is happy though and gives you the implant operation.
  • You are put into a 6-month healing coma.

  • You wake up in 2073. SHODAN has gone completely insane making HAL look like a grumpy
    lollypop lady.
  • Everyone else is dead and SHODAN is trying to erase the Earth. Only you can stop him.

Part Two: Getting Shocked


System Shock has plenty drugs. They are intended for medicinal use, but most of them have high
recreational value as well.

Here is the streetwise guide to Trioptimum's line in Stuff:


One tab of this stuff and you'll get strong as an ox.
Then you start to see pretty lights and soon you might hear the grass grow as well.

Sight enhancement

Take one of these and you can see everything! Then it wears off and you can't see anything.
Don't do this one too much or you'll go blind.

Genius Mind-Enhancer

Oh groovy, some mind-expanding drugs. Tri-op really knows how to party.
Actually these help you solve the puzzles. Don't seem to work very well though.


This one cures radiation poisoning, bio-contamination and hangover.
It will also nullify the effect of the other drugs so if you're looking for a high, just say no.

Stam-up stimulant

Reduces fatigue. Then you suddenly feel very tired.
I suppose it's like ecstasy really.


This one heals you, fairly straightforward.
When it wears out, you die. (Just kidding). Good for all-night raves.

A guide to the use of drugs:

Drugs are in the form of dermal patches which are applied to the skin.

There's quite a lot of them lying around, but you can score some off the mutants.
Just dot one on the head with the pipe and it should easily surrender its stash.

Most of the time you can take drugs on the move, but once in a while you feel the need for a little
privacy. Find a small cupboard, or preferably an elevator shaft where no-one can disturb you.

The following is a transcript from Mr. Gibbon's black box recorder.
He is stalking a Security-1 robot and is very low on health:

JM: Got to take some drugs.
    <Mr. G shoots a few medical patches>
IM: It has seen you.  You are going to die.  It will kill you.  
    There is no way you can survive.
JM: Laser rapier.
    <bang slash bang slash slash silence>
IM: Incredible: you're not dead.  That was totally unexpected!
JM: Oh dear, now I've got to take some more drugs again.
IM: Yes.. it's called addiction.

The Hacker himself

A cursory examination of the hacker reveals that he is not human.

(He is capable of subsisting entirely on hard drugs and blue smarties)
So what is he?


Look downwards. Try and touch your toes.
You can't? Oh of course. No feet.

At this point you realise that you have no feet


What the hacker lacks in toes and legs, he makes up for in his arms.

In fact, the hacker has these wonderful gibbon arms that are thirteen foot long.
Try this for yourself, start a new game and play with the Healing Suite.

  • Walk up to the healing unit, and activate it.
  • You'll get a pink flash and go back to full health.
  • Now step back a few feet and try again.
  • Try again. Find the point when you can't trigger it.
  • 13 feet?
It may come as no surprise to learn than my player is often called Mr Gibbon.

Now interestingly, the hacker can't reach across a gap.
For example, later on in level 1, the hacker goes to blow up the CPU nodes.

(This is 'normally' done by running in there, and lying on his belly in 
 between the nodes, then suddenly banging a live frag grenade on the ground 
 using his teeth. Shodan announces that he'll kill you, but the robots are 
 already mopping up the juice.)
There is a warrior cyborg standing on a tower, one space away from you.
When it's dead you should be able to search the body but you can't.

The idea that you can't reach is out of the question. The problem is the gap between the two of you.

This does conjure up visions of a hacker with 13 foot long, boneless tentacles that snake across the
ground but are unable to support their own weight..

The cyberjack implant

This is a wonderful piece of kit. You can take anything with a battery in it and plug it directly into your
brain. Hoo! Even more magical, whatever you install, it always works and you never ever have an IRQ

So my player is called PNP man (plug'n'play man) whenever he's not called Mr. Gibbon.

The hacker does it standing up?

The Hacker always dies vertically. The reason for this is easy to imagine, when you consider the
number of times you get resurrected. Surely the robots find it much more easy to carry your body
when it doesn't keep drooping about like that.

What could be done about it? Well the Hacker's got a head full of firmware, so adding just a tiny bit
more won't hurt much:

Just imagine! No more limp, floppy corpses to pick up!
With the new rigor-mortis chip, you're guaranteed to go stiff as a board the moment you die..

General Resurrection Machinery

The hacker freaks out and locks himself in a small cupboard, (such as a lift) assuming the lotus position
and surrounded by a large pile of high explosives.

PNP man contemplates a viking funeral

The hacker then consumes all the berserk, genius and sight patches at once getting himself higher
than the Pope.

Hoo! I'm glowing.. I'm glowing.. Hey Rick, I've got six arms!!

Totally stoned, he bangs two live frag grenades together.

Later on some robots come past and wonder why the lift doors are bulging out like that.

They find your body and give it new life.
As a cyborg you will serve SHODAN well.

Really? How do they do that then?
For starters, the inside of the lift now resembles a practical demonstration of the old
Frog-In-A-Blender joke.

They find the pieces and give them new life.
As a cyborg's kneecap you will serve SHODAN well.
So how is it done? Let's take a loook at the General Resurrection Machinery.

General Resurrection Machinery

Now, what is that man-shaped hole? There is only one thing it can be. A jelly-mould.

Of course. How simple. All the resurrection problems are solved in one blow.

For example, the hacker decides to stick his head in one of the matter-converters to see if the robots can
cope with that.

I consider turning my head into pure energy but think better of it

The robots scrape off the little wet bits and pour them into the mould.
After a while they put him in the fridge until he sets and they let him go again.

        Vital signs stabilised....
        Red blood cell count 100% normal....
        Cybernetic life support deactivated....
        Brain activity satisfactory....
        Recovery completed....

IM:  He ran into the heart of a nuclear reactor.
     The robots fished out his body and patched him up.
     Then he got away and ran back into the reactor and died.
     And then as soon as he has the chance, he goes off and does it AGAIN.
     And it still says 'Brain activity Satisfactory'?

Fortunately it's relatively easy to change the strings with a hex editor, they are in
DATA\CYBSTRNG.DAT on your hard disk.

You can change them to state the following truisms:

        Brain activity corrupted....
        Recovery Failed....
Pad the end of each one with spaces.

Post-Mortem confusion

The disorienting effect of dying often means that I lose track of what I was doing just before the
resurrection. I forget where I was and how to get back there.
The net result is that the hacker runs around like a headless chicken, sometimes darting this way and
that three or four times before I remember things again.

JM: Ugh!  Who am I?  Where am I?  What am I?
IM: You're Mr Gibbon, You're on level 5 but we don't really know what
you are. JM: Umm.. I was in.. Shodan's trap. That way. IM: No, no, this way. JM: That way IM: No! This way. JM: Oh yeah.
DANGER: Post-Mortem confusion often turns into Pre-Mortem confusion..

Part Three: Killing Beasts

Tools of the Trade: BOMBS

Bombs are wonderful. Set them up and get the beasties to tread on them.
Bombs set each other off, so you can have a stack of whatever you like and use a landmine to trigger
it! There are 7 types of Bomb.


These are simple proximity devices. Go near this and it goes off.

Sometimes there are live landmines mixed in with explosives caches, so look carefully before picking
one up :-)

Frag grenade

A fragmentation device. This just goes off when you knock it against something. A fun way to deal
with CPU nodes is to lie on the floor and bash this into them. But don't try that unless the
resurrection machine is working.


A bomb. The fuse ranges from 4 seconds to about 60 seconds. Then it blows up very nicely!
Quite potent.

EMP grenade

This is like the frag grenade, but it does nothing physical. Instead it damages or destroys electronic
devices, such as robots. It can give you quite a trip as well, although it will never actually
hurt you.

Concussion bomb

A good bomb. The fuse is the same as the NitroPack. A powerful, all-purpose topping
for any pile of explosives. Quite potent, a couple of these is useful for trapping Edward Diego.

Gas grenade

This explodes and poisons biological life.
Good for Mutants, moderate for Cyborgs and totally useless for robots.
Good to use in a low-budget suicide when you want to get back to the Resurrection Unit quickly.


A BIG bomb. Again, the fuse is the same as the NitroPack. It makes a lovely rumbling sound when
it kills you. VERY potent, and ideal for trapping Edward Diego.

Tools of the Trade: GUNS

Lead Pipe

The first time I ever saw system Shock, we got stuck in the first room.
Then we ran about with the pipe for almost an hour, hitting everything we came across..

The pipe is what you will start with. It works fine on serv-bots and mutants and it never runs out
of ammo.

Dart Gun

The dart gun fires either needle darts or tranquilisers. Neither of which are very effective.
Don't bother with it.

Stun Gun

This really is a stun gun, and it only works on mutants. They stop moving and bob up and down happily.
Don't bother with it, unless you want to watch some mutants bobbing (which can be fun).

Sparq beam

An energy gun. Very effective, it can also be used to vapourise corpses.
It has about 64 levels of power and an overload. It gobbles up the juice and it goes into standby if it
gets too hot.

Your first Good Gun, but be sure you know where the nearest wall-socket is.


The pistol is good, there is plenty of ammo for it.
It takes Normal rounds, and Teflon rounds which are better but more scarce.

Your second Good Gun. Keep hold of it, you can use it on cameras later on

Magnum 2100

Pro version of the pistol. Little ammo for it in early levels.
It fires hollow-tip rounds, or heavy SLUGS.
A sign of decadence among System Shock players is when you go around using the Magnum on
cameras because you have nothing less powerful...

One of the Best guns. Never let this one go.


This is like an EMP mine. It fires green shots that destroy most types of robot, and some cyborgs.
It fires Magpulse Carts, which are abundant on level 4 in the Cargo Pits of Ragnarok.
It does not work on mutants at all!

You will need this!


A handy rapid-fire weapon
This is quite a neat piece of work, it is a low-budget RF Skorpion, and there is plenty of ammo.
It can take out most things except a Security-2 robot.

A pretty good weapon.

Laser Rapier

Pipe Pro.
This is a sinclair monomolecular thread held in an energy field. It cuts through anything. (Larry Niven
fans should know this) It kills most beasts with a single swipe. Tougher monsters need two or three

You must have this one!

Riot gun

This is an interesting curiosity.
The riot gun is on the Cargo Deck, level 4. It fires rubber bullets, so it is almost useless.
HOWEVER: it can be used to PUSH CRATES and LIVE LAND MINES around the level, so it is
essential for freaky experiments.

Only useful for wierd things


A souped-up version of the Sparq beam.
Not especially wonderful, it uses more power and is slightly more dangerous. It makes a nice sound.

A reasonable replacement for the sparq beam.

Ion cannon

Ionise people. This is pretty cool. It makes a sound stolen from Star wars but it's fun.
If you turn it down to minimum power, it will still vapourise any item with a single shot but consuming
virtually no power.

Excellent tool for vapourising corpses.

Assault Rifle

A sort of super-magnum, but with less ammo available.

Try it, you might like it.


Fires explosive missiles, but they are not very effective. Ammo is only available from Mutant Cyborgs.
I never found it was any good against monsters, even a mutant takes several shots. It kills you more
than it kills them so it's useful for ritual suicides.

It's brilliant for smashing cameras and even more decadant than the magnum.

RF Skorpion

An ultra-rapid fire rifle. (See the docs for the Blessed Engine, our doom hack-up)
This is good, but hard to use and ammo is scarce. It fires standard ammunition and LARGE (fat?)

This is useful for tight spots, but can sometimes let you down.

Plasma gun

"Once I accidentally put 300 watts into a 60 watt light bulb.
 The filament detatched itself from the two connectors and drifted around
 inside the bulb. Then it hit the side and bounced away.  The glass was
 glowing cherry-red where it had touched."
Now you can do something similar to the walls of the citadel station.
But don't let the glowing ball of plasma touch you because you'll turn into ash..
This thing is good but it is difficult to wrest from SHODAN's grasp, and it consumes a third of your
battery power with each shot.

It kills whatever it touches but it often touches you.

Edward Diego

If you thought SHODAN had topped Edward Diego, you were wrong. They have joined forces and
he is incredibly dangerous.

Diego is a cyborg of SHODAN but he kept his personality, and he is armed with Laser Rapiers. He
teleports away when you beat him.

Edward Diego appears at three points in the game, but you have ample time to prepare a little surprise
for him each time.

On the Executive level

Firstly, Diego appears on the Executive Level, just after the Access Tunnel.
Hint: when blowing up the CPUs on the Exec level, place two emp grenades
      either side of the main CPU.
      Go back to the tunnel and shoot a single round at the autobomb to 
      annoy it. 
      Lead the Bomb into the computer room and let it attack you.
      Et voila!  SHODAN's little toy has just blown up some valuable 
      equipment for you.
  • First, kill off all the robots (hard) so there is just a door between you and Diego
  • Now, make sure you have two free savegame slots and save in one of them.
  • Open the door so that you know exactly where Diego will come from and then load back.
  • Place a generous helping of bombs for Diego.
  • Use 2-4 concussion bombs, an Earthshaker if you have one, lots of frags and nitropacks.
  • Save in the SECOND free game slot and then place a live land mine on the pile.
  • Avoiding the land mine, press the button and open the door.
  • Get around behind the pile, and provoke Diego with some bullets.

Get Edward

If he doesn't step on the pile, (or if you do) reload and place the land mine in a slightly different place.

Otherwise you should hear:




Followed by a brief swooshing sound as he turns red and vanishes.

On the Flight Deck

Before you blow up the reactor core and try to escape, place a nice selection of earthshakers mines and frag grenades at the bottom of the escape pod ramp.

Place all the explosives on the central triangle of the floor, with a live landmine.

A present from Joe

Now go about your business. When you try to escape the reactor detonation, Diego will email you a threat.

However, by the time you've read the threat he will have appeared, exploded and disappeared again without you even seeing it!

As proof of his impending divinity, Shodan demonstrates his power by appearing unto you in a Holy Vision.

"Accept the coming of your new Lord"

On the The Bridge

  • By now Diego is really angry.
  • You enter a small room which is empty except for a central column.
  • Behind the column is a lift door.
  • As soon as you reach the lift door, Diego taps you on the shoulder and slices you in two.
  • Do this a couple of times until you know exactly where he will appear.
  • Now put down as many of the highest power bombs as you can near that spot.
  • Put EMP grenades at the peripherary so it doesn't turn you into slush as well.
  • Save and place the LIVE land mine.
  • Engage your Shields and summon Edward Diego..

Having trouble, Diego? Turn and face your executioner..

If it's done completely perfectly he could vanish in a puff of smoke leaving only a small keycard.

Far more likely, he'll just die so you can extract it from him.

Part Four: SHODAN's Death Machine

You've probably come across this dark empty room on the reactor level.
When you step inside, SHODAN appears to you in another Vision saying "Welcome to my Death Machine, Interloper!".

Here's a neat little trick that allows you to screw up the Death Machine..

First, get yourself lots of bombs. You need about 9 frag grenades and at least 1 Landmine.

Next, get yourself lots of detox. Yes, I know it ruins your trips but you need it against the radiation.

Now, look for this little hole. It's through the door on the right, starting from the lift.

Make sure you are at full health, and consume some drugs if you aren't.
Now, jump down the hole, and you'll see this big blast door (marked 'Radiation! No! go away' etc..). Open the door.

You are now within a few metres of the Reactor Core and getting sleeted with gamma rays, so hurry up.
You should see another blast door from your vantage point.

Go through the door and consume some Detox.
You should now be going up a repulser plate into a small grey room. This is the back end of the Death Machine!

If there is a Security-1 robot there, kill it and enter the door.

Now SAVE. Get on your belly, and remember not to cross the middle of the room, or you'll have to load
back. By just lying in the southern half of the room, you can throw bombs into place.

Throw an INACTIVE frag grenade at each door, so that there a bomb in front of each one.
Place some more bombs and things in a chain connecting them, so that all the devices will explode if one goes off.

Save (in another slot if possible) and place a LIVE landmine in front of one of the doors.

It should look like this:

Welcome to MY Death Machine!

Consume enough drugs to get you back to full health, and switch on your Shield.
Walk across to the North, and all the doors will open.

If you've done it right, all the monsters should die instantly!

Part Five: Other

Destroying Earth

If you switch on the Mining Laser without engaging the system shields, Shodan appears in a Vision, inviting you to a party.

A cortex reaver will escort you to the celebrations.

Leaning at 45 degrees

Here's a neat little trick we discovered over Christmas:

  • Find a ledge and stand on it.
  • Look along the edge, not down the wall.
  • Press ALT-left (or ALT-right) and lean out over the edge.
  • Now Press CTRL-down, until you are looking straight down.
  • The hacker is now leaning out at an impossible angle with no support at all..
  • The view you are now seeing should be just unreal!

Fun with repulsor lifts

On level 4, (the cargo pits of Ragnarok) there is a blast door which is locked for a long time.
It is eventually opened using the switch in the Plastique ledge.

Inside are three Warrior Cyborgs. Kill the first one quickly and silently using the Laser Raper.

If you look out from where the cyborg was, You should now see this:

Let us now float up some mines on the repulsor lift!

Before we get to the fun part we must first capture the druuugs otherwise they will be destroyed in the explosion.

First save. Now, switch on your Skates and do a running jump across the room, so that you land on the drugsss and can pocket them.

If you hear a babbling sound then they have seen you, and you must reload or it won't work.

Now. You should be sitting on the drugs ledge. Switch off your skates and jump onto the floor. Again, make sure they don't see you.

Throw the following items onto the repulsor lift:

  • 2 frag grenades
  • 2 concussion grenades
  • 1 emp grenade
  • 1 landmine
  • 1 LIVE nitropack, set for 7 seconds.
Now, tilt your head upwards so you track the nitropack rise, into a bobbing cornucopia of explosives.

In about 3 seconds you should get a BIG bang and two moans from the cyborgs...

That's all for now.. I hope you enjoyed it!

So far, this many have sinned: Since Saturday, July 18, 12:40am.

Written and coded by J P Morris. Title graphic by Dan Todd, of Elite Enterprises.
©1998, J P Morris, All rights reserved.
©1998, Elite Enterprises, All rights reserved.

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Looking Glass™ is a trademark of LookingGlass™ Studios. All rights reserved. System Shock™ is a trademark of LookingGlass™ Studios. Developed by LookingGlass™ Studios. Published and distributed by Origin™ Systems. Origin™ is a trademark of Electronic Arts™. All rights reserved. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.