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Pure-python distributable Attack-Defence CTF platform, created to be easily set up.

The name is pronounced as "forkád".

This documentation is for the latest (development) version of ForcAD. It might not be stable or even working. The latest stable version can be found here, see the there.

Note that there's a wiki containing some useful queries for game statistics, services description, writing a checker, modifying the rating system, etc.

Table of contents


5 easy steps to start a game (assuming current working directory to be the project root):

  1. Open config.yml file (or cp config.yml.example config.yml, if the latter is missing).

  2. Add teams and tasks to corresponding config sections following the example's format, set start_time, timezone (e.g. Europe/Moscow) and round_time (in seconds) (for recommendations see checker_timeout variable).

  3. Install cli/requirements.txt (pip3 install -r cli/requirements.txt)

  4. Run ./ setup to prepare ForcAD config. This command will generate a new login and password (if not provided in admin.username and admin.password) for the admin interface and services. Generated credentials will appear in command output and in the updated config.yml. Backup of the config file will be generated just in case.

  5. Run ./ start --fast to start the system. Wait patiently for the images to build, it could take a few minutes, but happens only once. Notice that --fast option uses the pre-built image, so if you modified the base images or backend requirements, omit this option to run the full build.

That's all! Now you should be able to access the scoreboard at Admin panel is accessible at Celery visualization (flower) is at

Before each new game run ./ reset to delete old database and temporary files (and docker networks)

Configuration and usage

Receiving flags

Teams are identified by tokens (unique and randomly generated on startup). Look for them in the logs of initializer container or print using the following command after the system started: ./ print_tokens. Token is private information, so send them to each team correspondingly.

Flag format

System uses the most common flag format by default: [A-Z0-9]{31}=, the first symbol is the first letter of corresponding service name. You can change flag generation in function Flag.generate in backend/lib/models/

Each flag is valid (received by flag receivers and can be checked by checker) for flag_lifetime rounds (game config variable).

Configuration file

Config file (config.yml) is split into five main parts:

  • game contains the following settings:

    • start_time (required): the datetime of game start (timezone will be taken from the timezone option). Example: 2019-11-30 15:30:00.

    • round_time (required): round duration in seconds. Example: 30.

    • flag_lifetime (required): flag lifetime in rounds (see flag format section). Example: 5.

    • timezone (optional, default UTC): the timezone in which start_time is specified. Example: Europe/Moscow.

    • default_score (optional, default 2500): default score for tasks.

    • env_path (optional): string to append to checkers' $PATH environment variable (see checkers section). Example: /checkers/bin/.

    • game_hardness (optional, default 10): game hardness parameter (see rating system wiki page). Example: 10.5.

    • inflation (optional, default true): inflation (see rating system wiki page). Example: true.

    • checkers_path (optional, default /checkers/): path to checkers inside Docker container. Do not change unless you've changed the celery image.

  • admin contains credentials to access celery visualization (/flower/ on scoreboard) and admin panel:

    • username: forcad
    • password: **change_me**

    It will be auto-generated if missing. Usernames & passwords to all storages will be the same as to the admin panel.

  • teams contains playing teams. Example contents:

  - ip:
    name: Team1
  - ip:
    name: "Team2 (highlighted)"
    highlighted: true

Highlighted teams will be marked on the scoreboard with a rainbow border.

  • tasks contains configuration of checkers and task-related parameters. More detailed explanation is in checkers section. Example:
  - checker: collacode/
    checker_type: pfr
    checker_timeout: 30
    default_score: 1500
    gets: 3
    name: collacode
    places: 1
    puts: 3

  - checker: tiktak/
    checker_type: hackerdom
    checker_timeout: 30
    gets: 2
    name: tiktak
    places: 3
    puts: 2
  • storages is an auto-generated section, which will be overridden by <setup>/<kube setup> and describes settings used to connect to PostgreSQL, Redis and RabbitMQ:

    • db: PostgreSQL settings:

      • user: <admin.username>
      • password: <admin.password>
      • dbname: forcad
      • host: postgres
      • port: 5432
    • redis: Redis (cache) settings:

      • password: <admin.password>
      • db: 0
      • host: redis
      • port: 6379
    • rabbitmq: RabbitMQ (broker) settings:

      • user: <admin.username>
      • password: <admin.password>
      • host: rabbitmq
      • port: 5672
      • vhost: forcad

For those familiar with Python typings, formal definition of configuration can be found here . BasicConfig describes what is required before setup cli command is called, and Config describes the full configuration.



Checksystem is completely compatible with Hackerdom checkers, but some config-level enhancements were added (see below). Checkers are configured for each task independently. It's recommended to put each checker in a separate folder under checkers in project root. Checker is considered to consist of the main executable and some auxiliary files in the same folder.

The following options are supported:

  • name (required): name of the service shown on the scoreboard.

  • checker (required): path to the checker executable (relative to checkers folder), which needs to be ** world-readable and world-executable** (run chmod o+rx checker_executable), as checkers are run with nobody as the user. It's usually <service_name>/

  • checker_timeout (required): timeout in seconds for each checker action. As there're at minumum 3 actions run (depending on puts and gets), it's recommended to set round_time at least 4 times greater than the maximum checker timeout if possible.

  • puts (optional, default 1): number of flags to put for each team for each round.

  • gets (optional, default 1): number of flags to check from the last flag_lifetime rounds (see Configuration and usage for lifetime description).

  • places (optional, default 1): large tasks may contain a lot of possible places for a flag, that is the number. It's randomized for each put in range [1, places] and passed to the checker's PUT and GET actions.

  • checker_type (optional, default hackerdom): an option containing underscore-separated tags, (missing tags are ignored). Examples: hackerdom (hackerdom tag ignored, so no modifier tags are applied), pfr (checker with public flag data returned). Currently, supported tags are:

    • pfr: checker returns public flag data (e.g. username of flag user) from PUT action as a public message, private flag data (flag_id) as a private message, and public message is shown on /api/client/attack_data for participants. If checker does not have this tag, no attack data is shown for the task.

    • nfr: flag_id passed to PUT is also passed to GET the same flag. That way, flag_id is used to seed the random generator in checkers so it would return the same values for GET and PUT. Checkers supporting this options are quite rare (and old), so don't use it unless you're sure.

More detailed explanation of checker tags can be found in this issue.

  • env_path (optional): path or a combination of paths to be prepended to PATH env variable (e.g. path to chromedriver).

See more in checker writing section.

Checkers folder

checkers folder in project root (containing all checker folders) is recommended to have the following structure:

  - requirements.txt  <--   automatically installed (with pip) combined requirements of all checkers (must be present)
  - task1:
      -  <--   executable (o+rx)
  - task2:
      -  <--   executable (o+rx)

Writing a checker

See the corresponding wiki page on how to write a checker.


More extensive reading can be found in the wiki pages.