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OgreBane99

Computers vs. other skill checks

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This issue has come up a few times in my campaigns.  I'll call for a Computers check to "scan a planet" or "scan a ship" for more information, and I've had a few players say it should be a Perception check, rather than a Computers check.  Another example would be using Perception to search for information within a computer database, rather than specifically use Computers.

 

My reasoning is that the character isn't exactly looking/listening/tasting/etc. but rather having a computer program do the leg work of physically "scanning" something for more details.  Now if the party was physically looking out their viewport windows at something, that'd be a Perception check.

 

One of the players said that it makes Computers much more powerful if can be used for several types of checks.  Their reasoning was that everyone in the Star Wars universe knows how to use a computer, and most skill uses might involve the use of a computer, but actually scanning/searching for something important required the Perception skill.  Computers was regulated to slicing mostly.

 

How are people handling this in their games?  My main reasoning for using Computers was that Computers skill checks were listed in the modules for those examples I gave.

kaosoe likes this

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That's what the Surveillance skill was for back in the Beta. Now, it's been officially changed to Computers for reading sensor outputs.

 

As for searching a database, there shouldn't be a check of there isn't security or something impeding the search. OTOH, if there are such impediments, then it is Computers again.

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In cases where it makes sense, our GM allows us to use our best skill, out of a selection of skills.  So, maybe you're better at Perception than you are Computers, so using a computer to scan something might allow the use of that skill.  But for those who are better at Computers, they can choose that instead.

 

So, the question is are you using the computer to directly perform some task (i.e., using some other skill with the computer facilitating that action), or are you writing a program to help you perform some task that you're not necessarily so good at yourself?

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The computers skill has as much to do with using computers as programming them. Being able to crack security and slice are obvious examples but the skill relies on expanding the basic familiarity of differing computer systems. Everyone in the galaxy may be familiar with using a computer as bradknowles suggests but that may just equate to Computers 0. Think of it like some people are only familiar with the few programs they use regularly (email, browsers, etc.) but don't know how to perform complex searches or know where to even begin looking for the desired data in a system or on the equivalent of the web. Reading technical systems is a skill and being able to interpret that information just as much so. Being able to perceive data on a screen does not imply that you know what to do with it and first requires a familiarity with the system to call up that information to begin with.

I would suggest that your one or more of your pcs invest in computer skills as that's an important skill in the galaxy and in RAW. Perception interpretations rely on what you are seeing or detecting in you environment. The differences are there so that different characters can invest in the different skills and allow more options at the table for play. If everything becomes a perception check, then each player would invest in that skill and leave computers to perish as there would be more situations allowing for its use (when allowed against RAW) compared to the narrow guidelines of computers checks. That would unbalance the gameplay and make things less specialized.

Aservan likes this

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I think 'Computers' skills checks encompass more than sitting at a keyboard and typing.  To me it involves manipulating a piece of technology to access it, or use it to access something else.  Whether that is employing the sensor console to use the sensors they are connected to for a scan, or hacking into a doorlock to open an electronic lock, or using an actual computer and engage in straight up slicing of someone/something's system.

 

Computers is a vital skill.  In a scifi/space opera game it should really go without saying.  

Midnight_X2, edisung and whafrog like this

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How I see it is like this:

 

Computer Skill-used when sitting in an orbit of a planet to scan the planet to find a good landing place, or to see ever if it's good to go down to. When using for ships, used to find out what's on board find a weak point to possibly shoot at, or even be able to lock down a ship.

 

Perception- is for physically visual, like looking at the outside of the ship for damage or standing somewhere and looking around. Maybe a person visual looking can find something a computer can't.

 

And all players are right, but when it comes to using computers it's more to the fact of how well can you get into a system, there are firewalls and sometimes the enemy could hack back which will throw difficulties and setback. So not everyone can do computers, it's just some are better then others and this game system makes it so that each person has something that they are good at. otherwise it'd feel like D&D 4th edition lol 

edisung and whafrog like this

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My reasoning is that the character isn't exactly looking/listening/tasting/etc. but rather having a computer program do the leg work of physically "scanning" something for more details.  Now if the party was physically looking out their viewport windows at something, that'd be a Perception check.

 

It's the Computers skill because the scanners involved are producing reams of data, and the trick is to filter the data appropriately to get the relevant results.  The program isn't smart enough to know what you want ahead of time, so you'd have to at least script the filters you want.

 

Admittedly, there might be some common filters, such as "life forms" or "power surges" or "ship model" or the like.  These might give the player a global information, in which case Perception could be used if any skill is even necessary.  But if you wanted to know the capability of a heavily modified YT-1300, to detect the quad lasers and boosted shields and other enhanced capabilities, Computers is the skill.

Aservan likes this

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something that your GM would allow a Perceptions check to work in lieu of a Computers check would at least upgrade the difficulty by one if not more, depending on the nature of what you were working with.

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It's the Computers skill because the scanners involved are producing reams of data, and the trick is to filter the data appropriately to get the relevant results.  The program isn't smart enough to know what you want ahead of time, so you'd have to at least script the filters you want.

 

I've been a "computer guy" since the very early 80s.  One thing I have learned over the years is that many times, a trained human observer can scan the incoming data and may not be that great at programming the computer, but they can still recognize patterns that someone else would have to write a program for.

 

So, the base skill itself can be at least as important as the computer skill necessary to program or operate a computer to perform that same function.

 

 

Of course, every GM needs to decide for themselves how they're going to handle these kinds of situations.

 

However, at the very least I would encourage people to at least consider something like the Assist Maneuver (CRB:201), or Assisted Checks (CRB:25), or situations like Social Skill Interactions (CRB:113) where multiple different skills could potentially be used, depending on the circumstances.

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I think that in a high-tech setting like Star Wars, high-tech skills like Computers and Mechanics are going to be very useful - and justifiably so. Just look at our world today and how useful it is to know something about computers; not only writing code and other "advanced" functions, but knowing how they work, the logic behind programming, how electronic components interact and so on. I don't think this is a design flaw, I think it makes perfect sense. Any EotE character can benefit from having a rank or two in the Computers skill because it's one that crops up a lot - and even more frequently if the players (more or less) consciously makes use of it. You don't need slicing talents, just a working knowledge of computers.

 

That aside, I could agree to let players use Perception for operating sensors, at least under some circumstances. One of those circumstances would be if someone in the group was consistently left out of the action when aboard their ship because he lacked the Computers skill. I might increase the difficulty a step, or add some setback dice to reflect that Computers is a more suitable skill for the job, but I think it's more important to include everyone in the fun than to rigidly adhere to the rules.

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So, does anyone notice that on Pg. 237 of EotE, "Scan the Enemy" says it uses Perception?

 

This is also repeated in the AoR Beta.

Pretty sure they adressed that one in errata, either the official one or in a podcast somewhere. But at least it shows that it's not a far-fetched idea.

whafrog likes this

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Pretty sure they adressed that one in errata, either the official one or in a podcast somewhere. But at least it shows that it's not a far-fetched idea.

Ah, I didn't see anything in the AoR Beta's errata, and I... don't actually have the official EotE errata, for some reason? Huh.

Cheers for the heads-up; I'll go find it.

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As always this game's nature is flexible enough that a GM can interpret skills as they see fit and a player can make a case for using one skill as opposed to another as well.  

 

However that's not to say you can't depart from the book as well when you simply don't agree.  I have to say that same chart also lists Athletics for Manual Repairs, sorry but sit ups and bench pressing don't teach you how to weld plates over hulls ruptured in the vacuum of space.  That would be Mechanics check at my table.

RedfordBlade likes this

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However that's not to say you can't depart from the book as well when you simply don't agree.  I have to say that same chart also lists Athletics for Manual Repairs, sorry but sit ups and bench pressing don't teach you how to weld plates over hulls ruptured in the vacuum of space.  That would be Mechanics check at my table.

 

I think they weakly explained that one as being really strong and holding parts in place while someone else does the welding.

 

Yeah, riiiiiiiiight.  :huh:

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Personally, I'd argue that not every suggested option on that chart is supposed to be regularly available. As 2P51 already said, players can make a case for using different skills in creative ways, and I believe the chart is just meant to serve as inspiration. So once in a blue moon, it is okay for Meathead McGee to heft a metal plate with one hand, and a welding torch in the other, and crudely patch that hull breach.

 

I won't let my players spoof missiles if the ship they are in doesn't have some sort of jamming equipment, nor may they hack another vessel's computers without some serious hardware on their side. By that same token, I wouldn't allow Manual Repairs unless the narrative fit, and perhaps if the dedicated mechanic was busy or unable to perform the repairs herself.

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Beyond the Rim handles this really well during the portion where the players need to scan Cholganna. Using the scanners is always Computers, but there are opportunities to use other skills to aid. For instance, players can use Survival in order to analyze the data in order to identify interference coming from the terrain and foliage. Success removes some setback dice from future Computers checks.Basically, using the scanners is always Computers, but there are ways for a person to use other skills to help process the raw data.

 

As an example most of us can relate to, think about the difference between a basic Google user and someone who is skilled and experienced with search terms and Google's advanced search methods. The more experienced user is going to be able to find the most accurate results. Once they have those raw results, though, better knowledge of what's being searched will help to find the needed result inside of the raw data.

bradknowles likes this

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However that's not to say you can't depart from the book as well when you simply don't agree.  I have to say that same chart also lists Athletics for Manual Repairs, sorry but sit ups and bench pressing don't teach you how to weld plates over hulls ruptured in the vacuum of space.  That would be Mechanics check at my table.

 

I think they weakly explained that one as being really strong and holding parts in place while someone else does the welding.

 

Yeah, riiiiiiiiight.  :huh:

 

I believe the Order 66 podcast described it as "percussive maintenance".

 

F-Juke_87.png

 

Ayyy!  :lol:

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in that situation, i would just have the athletics difficulty be one more than trying the same check using mechanics.  i've found that this is common of certain narrative elements that the players and gms could argue either way on.  the skill family usually gets the easier time of it, while the non-traditional skill has the difficulty increased a tad bit more.  this makes sense when you think of it as knowing what you're doing to repair something as compared to a knowing somewhat and relying on your brute strength to fix something manually.

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In my game I use the Astrogation skill to operate the starship sensors. It is not about operating sensors, but the ability to read the results correctly. It also makes the skill more useful and Computers less do-it-all skill.

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This issue has come up a few times in my campaigns.  I'll call for a Computers check to "scan a planet" or "scan a ship" for more information, and I've had a few players say it should be a Perception check, rather than a Computers check.  Another example would be using Perception to search for information within a computer database, rather than specifically use Computers.

 

My reasoning is that the character isn't exactly looking/listening/tasting/etc. but rather having a computer program do the leg work of physically "scanning" something for more details.  Now if the party was physically looking out their viewport windows at something, that'd be a Perception check.

 

One of the players said that it makes Computers much more powerful if can be used for several types of checks.  Their reasoning was that everyone in the Star Wars universe knows how to use a computer, and most skill uses might involve the use of a computer, but actually scanning/searching for something important required the Perception skill.  Computers was regulated to slicing mostly.

 

How are people handling this in their games?  My main reasoning for using Computers was that Computers skill checks were listed in the modules for those examples I gave.

Hand the player who's complaining a pair of binoculars and tell them binoculars increase perception checks. Ask them to search Google with the binoculars. Ask them if the binoculars have helped.

Now throw more stormtroopers at their characters just because.

kaosoe, Haggard, Dbuntu and 1 other like this

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I like Computers being used for various things on a spaceship, its not a 1970's car...

Its more a mix of nuclear submarine and modern aircraft really when you think about it, there's barely any portholes to look out of and designed to function in environments, conditions and visibility which a human being, their eyesight and reflexes simply arent enough.

 

Hence they're mechanically augmented to deal with little to no visibility, extremely fast speeds and ranges well beyond the Mk1 eyeball. The fact you can tootle from a planet to the edge of system in a couple of days is really **** quick, in perspective the Voyager probes in the 1970's took 35 years to reach what's technically intersteller space at 17,370metres a second.

 

Perception's well and good inside the atmosphere and things within about 20km of the ship in space provided there is some illumination,(either from a nearby sun or the object itself) but beyond that you need sensor systems.

If you're looking to sort through a mass of data from sensors that is hiding some kind of clue- that would probably be the Discipline skill to find the little nugget from all the chaff. But you still need to fire up the computer, tune it for what you're looking for and then hope it finds it.

Jamwes likes this

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This issue has come up a few times in my campaigns.  I'll call for a Computers check to "scan a planet" or "scan a ship" for more information, and I've had a few players say it should be a Perception check, rather than a Computers check.  Another example would be using Perception to search for information within a computer database, rather than specifically use Computers.

 

My reasoning is that the character isn't exactly looking/listening/tasting/etc. but rather having a computer program do the leg work of physically "scanning" something for more details.  Now if the party was physically looking out their viewport windows at something, that'd be a Perception check.

 

One of the players said that it makes Computers much more powerful if can be used for several types of checks.  Their reasoning was that everyone in the Star Wars universe knows how to use a computer, and most skill uses might involve the use of a computer, but actually scanning/searching for something important required the Perception skill.  Computers was regulated to slicing mostly.

 

How are people handling this in their games?  My main reasoning for using Computers was that Computers skill checks were listed in the modules for those examples I gave.

Hand the player who's complaining a pair of binoculars and tell them binoculars increase perception checks. Ask them to search Google with the binoculars. Ask them if the binoculars have helped.

Now throw more stormtroopers at their characters just because.

 

 

Hand the player a crossword puzzle on a computer and tell him to write code to find the answers while throwing stormtroopers at him. I'm no computer programer, but I'd think in the middle of a firefight it'd be easier to visually sift through some data than to write a program. ;)  (Just being a Devil's Advocate here.)

 

There are times where perception will be useful while using computers. I'm thinking of times where the results are a bunch of gibberish/garbage and the player needs to find a specific piece of data. Such as looking for a specific ship in the middle of a dogfight. Perhaps the computers are good enough to come up with percise details. Perhaps they are good enough to display fighter sized blobs and freighter sized blobs. It's up to the GM to decide if perception would be useful in the context.

 

As for the OP's situation, I'd say it depends on the context. Perhaps alow perception as like a hail Mary pass, something to give results in an instant instead of the time it takes to use a computer. Give it a harder difficulty and/or only allow Triumphs to give meaningful information. When scanning a planet, the GM must decide what kind of information comes back. Is it page after page of garbage data that the players must sift through? If that case, then perception would be useful. Or, is it a narrow search that only gives the useful data that the players are looking for? In that case, computers would be used. Especially since computers skill would be used to set up the narrow focus search in the first place.

 

If I was the GM, I'd listen to what the players ask for. If they give a good justification, then I'd allow them to use the skill that is the most approperate. (Heck, they could argue to change the attribute as well.) The justification needs to be **** good. I wouldn't want to start going down a slipperly slope of always allowing a different skill than the RAW descriptions. I also wouldn't want to lesson the effect of Talents that allow a different skill or attribute to be used.

kaosoe and bradknowles like this

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This issue has come up a few times in my campaigns.  I'll call for a Computers check to "scan a planet" or "scan a ship" for more information, and I've had a few players say it should be a Perception check, rather than a Computers check.  Another example would be using Perception to search for information within a computer database, rather than specifically use Computers.

Those are Computer checks. I'd be willing to bet any player groaning about it has a better dice pool in Perception.

Just my opinion though.

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