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Mordjinn

Communication devices - How to message in the SW universe

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I'm trying to figure out what kind of communication methods there are in Star Wars universe. Since the original movies were made before the time of cell phones and the internet it is confusing what kind of technology one has to get a message across the galaxy.

 

- Letters: Is there some interplanetary courier service?

 

- Holo disks: Do these have to be also delivered personally? I guess there's no "over the internet" streaming options?

 

- Com Links: In order to get a message from planet to planet I have to hyper jump to the destination planet and then I can use the bigger version of Com Link for a "cell phone call". But there's no way to make a "phone call" from one planet to another?

 

- In Long Arm of the Hutt there's some "mass message" being delivered to Bounty Hunters on some private frequency. What is this technology? Some kind of email with video? What's this?

 

Thanks.

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But there's no way to make a "phone call" from one planet to another?

 

Luke made a planet to planet video phone call to Chewbacca's house. They didn't act like it was a big deal.

 

Are you talking just the OT movies, all the movies, all cannon or all EU? You'll get 4 different answers. 

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There's the HoloNet.  Imperial's filter comms though, so to be truly sure you're conversation is private you'll need to meet the other guy in person.

 

Does this mean that the bounty hunters discussing criminals with Hutt crime lords probably don't risk using holonet for communication?

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Does this mean that the bounty hunters discussing criminals with Hutt crime lords probably don't risk using holonet for communication?

 

If you're independent you're picking up bounty information (both who's "wanted" and any information that'll help you track the acquisition) from the client themselves.  The client may be the offices of whoever enforces the law of whatever planet you're on, or the Empire (Imperial bounty postings can be found on the HoloNet*), or a private individual.

 

If there are legal issues - the hunt will require you violating jurisdictional** boundaries (e.g. abducting a law-abiding Imperial citizen and transporting them back to Bothan Space, where they're wanted for murder), or if you're violating Imperial law (e.g. a Hutt wants you to straight up murder a chap who's made it out of Hutt Space, back to Imperial Space), then you'll definitely want to keep that off the HoloNet (or else talk in pre-arranged code).

If there aren't legal issues (and you aren't totally paranoid) use away!  The Empire either won't care or will be happy to see that the law is being enforced.

 

If you're part of a Guild or Brotherhood, you'll likely be collecting bounty information from a Guild office rather than the client.  They can often give you a head start on the legwork side of the task.  (They'll take a 10% cut of any bounty you collect, however.)

 

 

* Sometimes the Empire won't post a bounty publicly (if the crimes are of a sensitive nature or they don't want to draw attention to who the criminal is) - when this is the case they'll approach bounty hunters they trust directly.

 

** For a licensed bounty hunter (someone with an Imperial Peace-Keeping Certificate (1000c, to those who didn't start in the Bounty Hunter Career)), jurisdiction between sectors shouldn't be a problem.  One Moff shouldn't stop you transporting someone who's violated Imperial law back to the territory of the Moff where the crime took place.

Edited by Col. Orange

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They routinely had real time holo conversations with people over intergalactic distances.  That's unencrypted of course.  There is always using double meaning language to hide the true intent of conversations.  Large organized groups like the Hutt and Black Sun may maintain covert private networks for communications.  There are probably messenger drones similar to Express boats in Traveler that could deliver secure messages and information with .5 hyperdrives quite fast.

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I always imagined destroying HoloNet relay stations is a good way of getting on the "most wanted" list.  You're not only messing with hyperspace navigation, you're forcing lengthy, lag-inducing re-routes for billions of FTL communications.

Edited by Col. Orange

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Makes for a good plot hook in AoR sessions I would think as well.

 

In EotE we boarded one to get early access to pre-recorded transmissions that were being broadcast at predefined intervals.  We were very careful when taking out the station's defences.  :D

Edited by Col. Orange

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Simply having and IPKC isn't enough for bounty hunting. You need a permit for your designated target and you need location permits for sector and system for where you are capturing the target through where you are transporting them to. Guilds can get these in bulk and cut costs down then they provide them to their hunters as part of the 10% fee. Imperial hunters are often granted these permits as needed. Independent hunters often try to skirt around these permits as they can get very expensive and are often not enforced (unless the Imperials want to hassle you, so keep your group's Obligation low).

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Going back through years and different systems we always agreed upon some basic sci fi communication rules .  These are not Star Wars specific but work.

 

That within the same planet or orbiting the planet the transmissions are without lag.  

 

In the same system the lag of a standard transmission is based on the transmission travelling the speed of light. So about 8 minutes to get a message from the sun to earth. Communication between the earth and mars takes from 3 to 22 minutes depending on how close their orbits are from each other. So conversations are not real possible but reports and data packets can been sent easily.

 

IF you have a FTL transmitter it can send messages at 0.10 jump or 10% of the time a class 1 drive takes to make the jump. Using an FTL transmitter in a star system allows you to have the instant communication without lag.  I normally make FTL transmitter a high tech item and not a common thing.  Star Wars seems to make them rare also. Also FTL transmission requires relay and boosters to allow transmission beyond 10 light years which brings in listening posts and holonet beacons.

 

I personally like the idea of slower communications.  It is a center of the Traveller universe concept, seemed to be part of Firefly, and allows the players to stay one step ahead of the wanted notices.  If you could just call up Corusant at any time the fringe just would not have the old west feel.

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If you look in the rulebooks, there are all sorts of encryption devices for comm links, "whistlers", scramblers, jammers, interceptors, etc....  We've tried to collect every known device that has been published by FFG in one of their books at http://swrpg.viluppo.net/equipment/gear/ and include in there book and page references, so that you can read for more details.

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If you could just call up Corusant at any time the fringe just would not have the old west feel.

 

Well, they do exactly that in TCW, Castus makes a call to Coruscant from Florum, and it's real-time.

 

To the OP:  there is no "right" answer to any of this, so do what you like.  Personally for my games I'm not interested in getting into the details of it, or trying to conform to the various levels of canon...how boring is that?  Also, my players would shoot me :)  

 

So I'm going to basically parallel what we have today, but on a galactic scale, which means real-time face-to-holo communication is theoretically possible from anywhere in the galaxy.  That doesn't mean there are any servers in the area, or that there aren't outages, slow servers, lags, sunspots, supernovas, Imperial tapping and decryption, shadow servers, parallel networks, etc.  You can still make cool missions for finding and infiltrating a relay station/satellite for any number of interested parties, or installing a new one somewhere for "back road" bypassing of known watched stations.

 

Assuming it's modelled on what we have today+holograms is far simpler to plan for, and more players will be able to relate to it.

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I personally like the idea of slower communications.  It is a center of the Traveller universe concept, seemed to be part of Firefly, and allows the players to stay one step ahead of the wanted notices.  If you could just call up Corusant at any time the fringe just would not have the old west feel.

 

While I agree that instantaneous galactic communications and near instant galactic travel times limits the types of stories you can tell, it just wouldn't be Star Wars without them. It would be like playing Star Trek without transporters and matter replicators. 

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There's a few canon examples for people to use.

The Holonet isn't one of them during the age of the Empire as its on Military-only use and messing with it will get you a spankering the likes of an angry god hitting a city with a small moon. By the time the empire gets wiped out, the holonet is also in a fair bit of disarray as well because nobody has the billions of credits to maintain it.

 

Comms

Standard short ranged devices used for inter-system communications, they're a standard radio frequency affair like a CB or mobile phone. Simple, cheap and easy.

 

Subspace

Bit more complicated and have a range of a couple of dozen light years, most have some type of vox and a data channel which can be used for text or visual messages. It doesn't let you communicate between systems or hyperspace, but is handy for when you're needing a distress signal.

 

Hypertransceiver

A much more elaborate affair which will go between systems from one radio to another, they are effectively unlimited in range, but the delay might mean it doesn't get there for some time. They're generally only on planetary base stations and larger ships, they can also allow for communication between ships travelling in hyperspace.

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I've always played it that the holonet is expensive to use in the time of the Empire. It's mostly used by large corporations and the Empire itself. Normal people need to make a holo, and then deliver it to a postal type station to have it transmitted, or pay a lot more and transmit live from a station. 

This is why you see only the Emperor and Vader really making use of it in the original series.

It's also why Leia didn't just upload the Death Star Plans to the rebellion, or call up Obi-Wan and ask for help.

 

This is of course only my personal made-up explanation.

(I really dislike the insta holocoms that everyone seems to possess in TCW)

 

Also, on an almost unrelated note, I've always loved how the Comms sound in the Battle of Yavin!

Edited by Grimmshade

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I personally like the idea of slower communications.  It is a center of the Traveller universe concept, seemed to be part of Firefly, and allows the players to stay one step ahead of the wanted notices.  If you could just call up Corusant at any time the fringe just would not have the old west feel.

 

While I agree that instantaneous galactic communications and near instant galactic travel times limits the types of stories you can tell, it just wouldn't be Star Wars without them. It would be like playing Star Trek without transporters and matter replicators. 

 

On the other hand limiting the holonet to major systems would add an element of both. There are billions of habitable systems in a galaxy. Not all of them can have holonet relays. It also adds an interesting twist where different regions may be serviced by different networks.

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You wonder if George RR Martin was a Star Wars fans and just took the twin thing a step too far.

 

Maybe they are eliminating cannon and secretly bringing Martin on as head writer. Han is really fat.  Leia and Han have three little blonde children.  They return to Kashyyyk to ask Chewie to come back to Corusant. Chewie has that one extra son from the rebellion named Jon.

 

Is it any dumber than the prequels?

Edited by artteach

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(I really dislike the insta holocoms that everyone seems to possess in TCW)

 

In most cases, this could be explained away by the message being relayed from personal commlinks to a nearby capital ship, which then uses its large and expensive holonet transceiver for near-instant transmission to the other end.

 

MKX already posted what I believe was the various means of communications explained in earlier sources. There was a paragraph in one of the older RPG books that dealt with the subject, and maybe I can dig up something else that may be of interest there.

 

Message buoys certainly exist as well (in the EU). The "Truce at Bakura" novel featured one such probe containing a distress call being sent to Endor, in the false belief that it'd reach the Emperor, but then ending up in the hands of the rebels. I think it was used only because the system had all other forms of transmission jammed by the Ssi-Ruuvi invaders.

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