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#1 hencook

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Posted 04 May 2014 - 11:58 PM

A man in a fine leather jacket arrives at the Lars Homestead. Aunt Beru comes out to greet him. The man says "Hi, are you interested in buying a digital encyclopedia?".

 

Is that possible in SW?

 

That's a big red flag in EotE, because it means that the intellect based classes become less useful. If I had to choose between a Scholar or a Hired Gun to be on my party, I would take the Hired Gun and buy a digital encyclopedia. A scholar is nice because he can tell you things without looking it up, and he might even know more in a specific area, but there's just no way he has the breadth of knowledge against a galactic encyclopedia, even if the encyclopedia was highly erroneous or dated in comparison to our internet.

 
Now, I suppose that the Empire strictly controls the Holonet, so that's why you can't just google everything. The Empire can't reaaallly declare that selling harmless information is a crime, especially as it circumvents the holonet altogether. If they ban encyclopedias, then what about something less, like a cookbook? the Empire would just have to ban literature altogether. 
 
The easiest solution is to say "Nobody bothers to sell digital encyclopedias in SW", but it's difficult to swallow. If there are fish, there are fishermen. If there's information out there that people desperately need, people would sell it.
 
What do you guys think?

Edited by hencook, 05 May 2014 - 12:01 AM.


#2 2P51

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:09 AM

I don't view the Knowledge skills as strictly facts and figures, and I view the careers as more analyst than Trivial Pursuit champ.  It's the skills and talents to pour through reams of data to be able to provide a workable actionable answer.


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#3 That Blasted Samophlange

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:29 AM

A couple of things, I would say an encyclopaedia would offer a boost die nothing more, or be considered a necessary tool.

After all we humans in our short time can fill up quite a few volumes, even digitally. When you factor in an entire universe, well I'm sure some entries, say a small planet in sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha, will only have an entry consisting of the words 'Mostly Harmless'
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#4 Lathrop

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:34 AM

I'd treat them like Military Field Manuals, where it gives a boost die for anything it pertains to, as long as you have it on hand. Probably up the price though to like 100 credits, at minimum, depending on what each encyclopedia covers. So if they just want a full set based on as much general information as possible, likely split up alphabetically, then I'd cut it into 26 different datapads, 2,600 credits total - maybe a little more per datapad if the player doesn't buy the whole set in a single transaction. Wouldn't contain anything not authorized by the Empire. Maybe even give multiple boost dice if the player isn't constrained by time to look up a subject across the encyclopedias.

 

But as a method of giving information? Maybe if the player is in a situation where time isn't an issue, I'd give them incredibly rudimentary information that would be equivalent to passing a skill check with a single success.



#5 Simon Fix

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:44 AM

You would not believe the number of people I know who have no idea how to use an encyclopedia or even a dictionary.  Or a computer.  I mean, I still know people who type whole web addresses into Google's search field and then click on the link when in comes up as the first search result. (And sometimes they click the first link even if the right result isn't first!)

 

No... I would never, as a seasoned GM, consider a digital encyclopedia in the hands of your Intellect: 2 Heavy to be equal (or even close to equal) to someone educated, any more than I would consider a vibro-axe in the hands of a Brawn:2 Scholar to be equal (or even close to equal) to someone trained to use that weapon.


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#6 hencook

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:53 AM

I'd treat them like Military Field Manuals, where it gives a boost die for anything it pertains to, as long as you have it on hand. Probably up the price though to like 100 credits, at minimum, depending on what each encyclopedia covers. So if they just want a full set based on as much general information as possible, likely split up alphabetically, then I'd cut it into 26 different datapads, 2,600 credits total - maybe a little more per datapad if the player doesn't buy the whole set in a single transaction. Wouldn't contain anything not authorized by the Empire. Maybe even give multiple boost dice if the player isn't constrained by time to look up a subject across the encyclopedias.

 

But as a method of giving information? Maybe if the player is in a situation where time isn't an issue, I'd give them incredibly rudimentary information that would be equivalent to passing a skill check with a single success.

 

While this is a good effort in terms of balancing a digital encyclopedia for play, I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the argument that a digital encyclopedia would not realistically replace a scholar class. Maybe I just need to face the facts... Star Wars ain't realistic.

 

Now I want a bunch of information droids.

C3P0 for 6 million forms of communication

C3P1 for information on locations and events

C3P2 for 6 million entries in the monster handbook.


Edited by hencook, 05 May 2014 - 12:58 AM.


#7 HappyDaze

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 03:06 AM

I see a datadroid (an encyclopedia on legs that can access and process the information for you) as fitting Star Wars. You can even make such as a PC by playing Droid with Colonist (Scholar). :P


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#8 hencook

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 03:20 AM

I see a datadroid (an encyclopedia on legs that can access and process the information for you) as fitting Star Wars. You can even make such as a PC by playing Droid with Colonist (Scholar). :P

 

I feel like I just got owned, thanks...

 

Allow me to illustrate how powerful computers are.

 

A regular joe picks up Knowledge Languages.

At rank 1, he's bilingual.

At rank 2, he speaks 5 languages

At rank 5, he speaks 5000 languages.

 

C3P0 speaks 6 million of them.

 

And you guys are recommending that we give people who use Digital Encyclopedias just a boost die?


Edited by hencook, 05 May 2014 - 03:26 AM.


#9 DanteRotterdam

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 03:54 AM

Is owning a computer on Earth the equivalent of a bachelors or masters degree?
Has having access to wikipedia done wnything to further intelligence or reason?

Why would it's equivalent in the SW universe then do so?
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#10 hencook

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 04:03 AM

Is owning a computer on Earth the equivalent of a bachelors or masters degree?
Has having access to wikipedia done wnything to further intelligence or reason?

Why would it's equivalent in the SW universe then do so?

Should people be banned from using wikipedia on Who wants to be a millionaire?



#11 DanteRotterdam

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 04:45 AM

Is owning a computer on Earth the equivalent of a bachelors or masters degree?
Has having access to wikipedia done wnything to further intelligence or reason?
Why would it's equivalent in the SW universe then do so?

Should people be banned from using wikipedia on Who wants to be a millionaire?

Aren't they?

#12 DaFloh

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 06:44 AM

 

A man in a fine leather jacket arrives at the Lars Homestead. Aunt Beru comes out to greet him. The man says "Hi, are you interested in buying a digital encyclopedia?".

 

Is that possible in SW?

 

Short answer: not very star warsy imho.

 

Long answer:

A) Star Wars technology vs. real world tech

1. I think  viewing communications in the fictional universe of star was as comparable to our modern day communications is - in my opinon - a flawed approach at best. The Holonet is also very blurred as a concept and should not simply be treated as a star wars version of the internet. They didn't upload the death star plans to a secure and secret server. Obi didn't google for Kamino or small poisonous darts. In fact, from the movies, it seems like the world of star wars is lacking any form of open access knowledge databanks.

2. Computers in star wars act very... let's say puzzling. ("Sir, I don't know where your ship learned to communicate, but it has the most peculiar dialect." "The city's central computer told you?") Also droids don't communicate by transferring wireless protocols - they actually talk to each other. It is really hard to compare Star Wars technology to real world tech. (They can shoot proton torpedos, make calculations for FTL travels, but are incabable to track TIEs whithout visual confirmation)

 

Short takeaway:

- Don't compare technology. Never say "but today we are already capable of X, surely a civilization as advanced as in star wars would..."

- A digital encyclopedia? Unlikely. An encyclopedia-droid? Yes, that would work.

 

B) on the topic of "Degree vs. Wikipedia"

1. Even with a vast ecyclopedia you have first to know how to find information in there and second have to understand what you are reading (foreign languages and technical terms).

2. Information provided in a encyclopedia will be easier to find and generally more useful to somewone already familiar with the topic.

Try reading wikipedia entries on mathematical theories without good knowledge of math. On one historic event there may be multiple different entries in different languages, that offer differing points of view. Try multiple entries on the American Civil War. To put them in perspective needs knowledge.

 

Short takeaway:

I guess the Encyclopedia-droid assisting a character is really the best solution. Moderate intellect an high knowlegde skills. If either intellect or skill of the droid is higher it is used instead of the characters skill or intellect. If not - well it is a boost dice, at least.

 

So:

>A man in a fine leather jacket arrives at the Lars Homestead. Aunt Beru comes out to greet him. The man says "Hi, are you interested in buying a fine encyclopedia-droid? He knows all about the history and customs of 12 million different worlds".

"No - but I take one leather jacket."<


Edited by DaFloh, 05 May 2014 - 06:49 AM.

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#13 HappyDaze

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 07:06 AM

A knowledgeable Drall sidekick/servant/slave can outsmart most droids, and their racial ability makes them awesome for skilled assistance.


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#14 Genghis12

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 08:08 AM

The problem with digital encyclopedias in our world i- I'm assuming something like Wikipedia here -- is that they lack rigor, are largely factually incorrect, or they are at the mercy of partisan, or non uniformly applied standards generated by basement-dwellers. It's a mix of water carriers, non-journalists, non-historians, non-academics, and cool-aid drinkers all battling for narratives of their own special interests.

In EotE, set at the height of the Empire's dominion, your Emperor-approved digital encyclopedia would be State-media spin and nothing else.

It could offer tremendous storytelling possibilities, but those actually interested in knowledge are not likely to find it in that source.

I suspect this all misses your point, but a blanket assumption that your theoretical digital encyclopedia is true is probably not.

#15 LokisCoyote

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 08:18 AM

 

Is owning a computer on Earth the equivalent of a bachelors or masters degree?
Has having access to wikipedia done wnything to further intelligence or reason?

Why would it's equivalent in the SW universe then do so?

Should people be banned from using wikipedia on Who wants to be a millionaire?

 

 

As someone who teaches online history classes, I can tell you using wikipedia doesn't help my students. Most people who rely heavily on wikipedia and do not realize it is only really good as a starting place for research quickly find themselves failing my class and that's even when they don't plagiarize.

 

A resource like an encyclopedia might be useful for something like an un-timed quiz, but the real key of knowledge is not the facts and figures, but making use of that knowledge. A scholar in my game is going to be useful at deducing clues based on their character's knowledge, not spouting facts. I have a player that has an "Indiana Jones" like character, that often takes the group to tombs and such in search of riches, that's something a digital encyclopedia couldn't do. 


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#16 hencook

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 09:42 AM

Yes, actually being able to understand or absorb the knowledge is important....

But that still doesn't change the fact that having access to a very large amount of information is still going to be extremely advantageous.

 

How advantageous? Well it depends. You could probably mostly all of the Who wants to be a Millionaire series with a wikipedia... and maybe you can't launch a rocket with an encyclopedia. A PC with an encyclopedia droid may or may not be as powerful as Ripley with a Power Loader; you just can't put a number to it. It's situational, but in the situations where it applies (and it applies to many), it may be vastly superior.


Edited by hencook, 05 May 2014 - 09:43 AM.


#17 LokisCoyote

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 10:07 AM

Yes, actually being able to understand or absorb the knowledge is important....

But that still doesn't change the fact that having access to a very large amount of information is still going to be extremely advantageous.

 

How advantageous? Well it depends. You could probably mostly all of the Who wants to be a Millionaire series with a wikipedia... and maybe you can't launch a rocket with an encyclopedia. A PC with an encyclopedia droid may or may not be as powerful as Ripley with a Power Loader; you just can't put a number to it. It's situational, but in the situations where it applies (and it applies to many), it may be vastly superior.

 

Other than a trivia contest where does raw factual data have a purpose? Easy access to the data certainly provides an advantage. One of the problems with encyclopedic knowledge is it is often "common" knowledge in greater detail. 

 

So let's say your PC is working for an Ithorian and he wants to earn some brownie points by bringing him a tasty treat. Now it is common knowledge that Ithorians are vegetarians, but your PC has access to a digital encyclopedia, so he knows not only are they vegetarians, but they love Ithorian saffron, so he gets an advantage here, not a huge one though.  Let's say he's actually going to try and cook a dish with Ithorian saffron. The encyclopedia doesn't really help here, his knowledge and skills as a cook are what are going to help. 

 

I just don't see many situations where even the biggest and best encyclopedia provides more than one or two boost die. Now if you're PC is playing trivia down at the local cantina and he's allowed to use the encyclopedia than it should be rather advantageous, but otherwise it's just a boost in knowledge in my opinion.  



#18 DaFloh

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 10:31 AM

 

Yes, actually being able to understand or absorb the knowledge is important....

But that still doesn't change the fact that having access to a very large amount of information is still going to be extremely advantageous.

 

How advantageous? Well it depends. You could probably mostly all of the Who wants to be a Millionaire series with a wikipedia... and maybe you can't launch a rocket with an encyclopedia. A PC with an encyclopedia droid may or may not be as powerful as Ripley with a Power Loader; you just can't put a number to it. It's situational, but in the situations where it applies (and it applies to many), it may be vastly superior.

 

Other than a trivia contest where does raw factual data have a purpose? Easy access to the data certainly provides an advantage. One of the problems with encyclopedic knowledge is it is often "common" knowledge in greater detail. 

 

So let's say your PC is working for an Ithorian and he wants to earn some brownie points by bringing him a tasty treat. Now it is common knowledge that Ithorians are vegetarians, but your PC has access to a digital encyclopedia, so he knows not only are they vegetarians, but they love Ithorian saffron, so he gets an advantage here, not a huge one though.  Let's say he's actually going to try and cook a dish with Ithorian saffron. The encyclopedia doesn't really help here, his knowledge and skills as a cook are what are going to help. 

 

I just don't see many situations where even the biggest and best encyclopedia provides more than one or two boost die. Now if you're PC is playing trivia down at the local cantina and he's allowed to use the encyclopedia than it should be rather advantageous, but otherwise it's just a boost in knowledge in my opinion.  

 

 

I think the question of the original post was whether the general availability of an encyclopedia would diminish or remove the usefulness of knowledge skills in their very often primary function as a means to determine "what does the character know about this?".E.g. "What do you know about Ithorians?" "I don't care - I look it up!"

 

And while I see the use of an exhaustive encyclopedia in this regard (no idea when the battle of Issos happened? look it up! - or more Star Warsy - "What do Akh Dogs eat?") - I would maintain that there 1. aren't many readily available encyclopedias in SW (you can't just go online and look something up) and 2. encyclopedias in Star Wars will probably be intelligent droids - so they might be able to explain context and be much more useful than a simple encyclopedia containing facts only.


Edited by DaFloh, 05 May 2014 - 10:32 AM.

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#19 RedfordBlade

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 10:45 AM

1. Scale

The Galaxy is truly vast. Millions upon millions of worlds, species, cultures. Even if an encyclopedia could cover all those myriad subjects (and still be portable), you would run into issues with...

2. Depth vs. Breadth

Encyclopedias collate and summarize information from multiple primary sources. There is, always, much knowledge or discussion that is left out of an encyclopedia. A scholar will likely be familiar, not just with the "general" knowledge from an encyclopedia, but with the primary sources as well.

3. Time
And yes, a non-scholar could read up on the primary sources, find the notes left by a researcher, piece together a more complete understanding. But that will take much more time and effort. Even digging around an encyclopedia takes minutes or more just to find relevant information.

Putting It All Together:

So, the scholar-less crew lands on a planet, explores around, and then gets chased away from a big score by ravenous, blaster-proof rodents. Back at the ship, they bandage their wounds and spend some time looking up the critters in their encyclopedia. Luckily, the little rats are in there, and have a basic "monster manual"-type entry. Vital statistics, mating habits, mention of acute hearing, and oh yeah, they are blaster-proof.

Meanwhile, the team with a xenologist lands nearby, has the same encounter. But here, the scholar recognizes the critters, warns the others to holster their blasters and run, and spares them any injury. Then, after escaping, the scholar provides those same vital statistics _as well_ as mentioning an anecdote from the Old Republic planetary survey when a poorly-tuned engine served to drive the rodents to flee. The mechanic says "Great, I can probably mimic that noise with our engines, and we'll chase them away. Let's go."

Edited by RedfordBlade, 05 May 2014 - 10:51 AM.

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#20 LibrariaNPC

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Posted 05 May 2014 - 12:57 PM

There's some REALLY good input already, but to add my two cents from the real world of libraries and the vastness of Star Wars:

 

It's almost impossible for anyone to know exactly what is going on in the universe. Knowledge rolls are just to make sure that someone even REMEMBERS a tidbit of information and how much of it is useful and/or practical.

An encyclopedia/computer/data spike to the brain will give you solid facts, but it won't give you the capabilities of analysis, understanding that information, or even what to DO with that information.

 

Real World Example:

I work in a library, and people walk in constantly with questions, such as "What does E=MC^2 mean?", "How do I write a cover letter?", "Where can I get my taxes done for free?", "Where is the printer?" and "Are you a librarian?"

 

Now, I can present these people with the information they need to find the answers; a book with the history of E=MC^2, a website sponsored by a company that writes books on cover letters, a non-profit organization's phone number that offers tax services, the large sign they are looking toward, or my name tag which has "Reference Librarian" written in big letters, respectively.

 

When they have that information, does it solve the problem? Half of the time, it does not. At. All.

 

Does it provide the information? Yes, it does. Do they understand that information? Not always, no.

 

With that, does it mean an encyclopedia with ALL of the answers become a game breaking thing or a certain way to learn things? No, it doesn't. It becomes a tool to look at and find information that may help you, but it's up to you to determine what the information means and how it can be used.

 

So a Scholar with a high Intellect and modest Knowledge skills can look up vital information as a refresher to get the right data lined up (because we all need it from time to time), process it, and determine what can be useful with the certain situation even if it isn't written. 

Someone with a lower Intellect (i.e. like the patrons I mentioned) can have the information, but the information isn't enough for each situation at hand. It presents them with a fact to analyze, to adjust to the situation at hand, and it gives them something they actually need to think about to utilize.

 

 

 

In the end, encyclopedias count as either required tools (especially when the character doesn't have the Knowledge skill), a GM Caveat/Deus Ex (giving tidbits of information to ensure the party doesn't get arrested or charged when they go to Cona and have a few metric tons of salt in the hold), or a useful resource for whatever task is at hand they can use it with (a boost die when trying to determine the best gift for a local on Vortex).


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