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RebelDave

Communications, Encryption and Associated Stuff

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How do you all deal with communications?

 

One of my players was moaning that "They have space ships and laser weapons, but not cell phones???" (Shes not a Sci Fi Fan... dont ask why shes playing).

 

And it got me wondering.

 

How do you deal with communications?

 

So far, all I can remember seeing in the films (I've not see much Rebels or Clone Wars), is Lukes use of a cylindrical devices in ANH, and Obi Wan and Qui Gonn in TPM.

 

 

So... do you see comm units as:
CB Radio, not encrypted, anyone can listen in if they happen to be on the same frequency, Broadcast-All (You simply broadcast, and your whole group would receive)

Or a Device to Device method, were you dial up one or more of your 'known' receivers and only they can hear you?

 

Clearly, with option 1, you could have more expensive 'encrypted' commlinks, where you need to dial in a code to receive whats transmitted (Encrypted at Source, require the 'key' to decrypt at recipient - Much like those in Die Hard 2 - otherwise you only get garbled sound).

 

Or something else?

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Comlinks aren't cell phones or even satellite phones in the sense they send their signals via another network, thus why they function even on worlds without those amenities.  Think of them as devices that the players have established thier own communications network with one another on them up to the devices range.  Would the signals be encrypted, likely though unless specially encrypted devices are used those communications could still potentially be intercepted with dedicated equipment.

 

Starships communications range is the same as its Sensor Range in it profile.

 

As far as the Holonet goes and the hyperspace transcievers, its currently heavy restricted by the Empire to control propaganda and prior to the clone Wars only extended as far as the Mid Rim, The Separatists and Republic made their own wartime relays during the Clone Wars in the Outer Rim and some Independent species maintain thier own limited versions such as those in Hutt Space and Bothan Space or the Corporate Sector, The Rebellion is working on developing their own version or finds ways to coopt the signals from the Imperials at times.  A much slower means of communications is subspace transceivers or signals broadcast via shipborne relay signals, part of why news from the greater Galaxy at large travels slowly to the Outer Rim. 

Edited by Greymere

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The way I run, on worlds with infrastructure, they operate like cellphones.  Assuming you have an appropriate corporate plan, or the planet's government supports the comm network, You can call anyone on the planet you have the comm number for, or even send a voicemail to people on other planets (which they should get in an hour to a few days, depending on distance/luck).  

Comlinks can also be used for unit-to-unit calls, based on a pre-set frequency/encryption pattern.  This is what usually gets used on planets without such infrastructure, like the entire outer rim. 

 

Comlinks can be bought that perform either one of these types of communication, or that can switch between both.  

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@Greymere

 

Thats... useful, but not quite what I was after... but it throws up new questions.

 

How do people communicate with others across the galaxy?

 

How would one of my players benefactors, who he owes obligation to, get a message to him to tell him its time to pay him?

Edited by RebelDave

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You send a bounty hunter to "remind him".  :D

 

joking aside, there is the Subspace network Grey talks about.  It's no holonet, but it can be used to send messages at a reasonable rate across the galaxy.  At some point when the ship comes in contact with a civilized system, he'll get a data-dump of all his pending "mail" that was being held for him.  At least that's how I run it.  It's definitely easy not to get mail if you don't want it.  

 

Large Media Files (as I play it) go from system to system by "sneakernet" as the modern day calls it.  Courier ships fly to a system, hand over a weeks worth of movies/tv/news/magazenes/etc on datacrystals, then jump to the next planet.

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Issue I have with that is, if the player can avoid being contacted so easily, he could simply 'vanish', meaning hes evaded his Obligation.

 

I also dont quite get how a Bounty hunter can track their quarry over such vast distances.

 

If you change your name, your ship, your planet a few times... how is ANYONE going to track you down?

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Not easily.  But then that's what Bounty Hunters are paid for, and why they're so common in Star Wars.  Being a bounty hunter is a lot more like being a PI than being Rambo.  You ask people, check records, etc.  Even instantaneous communications wouldn't change that.  Change names/ships and throw away your old phone is just as disapeared.

 

The thing is changing ships costs money, changing identities costs money, changing planets cost money, and all these things produce records.  and the obligation is still there - because you know that some day a bounty hunter is going to knock on that little door of yours and the game will be up.

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There is some inconsistencies on this topic, even in cannon sources.  I think it's safe to say there are things that exist in our world (cellular networks, the internet, etc) that may or may not exist in the Star Wars universe.  As an example, even in newer sources (such as the Rebels cartoon) droids have to physically 'jack in' to a data network (there is no wifi network that can be safely hacked from a distance).  There are some options for wireless communications, but they seem to be similarly inconsistent.  The range on comm links in most RPG editions of Star Wars is less than a few hundred kilometers, so it's essentially a long range walkie talkie.  In Clone Wars, they used holographic interplanetary real-time communications - but most assume that's using the HoloNet - which is restricted to military use (and tightly controlled by the Empire in EotE timeframe).  

 

In my game, we also use physical couriers for interstellar communications.  

Edited by blaked

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People also seem to often confuse "No Wifi" with "No wireless communication".  We see wireless transmissions quite often, but they're always between things that are designed to communicate with each other.  What they're not designed to do is allow anyone who isn't pre-authorized to communicate.  

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  As an example, even in newer sources (such as the Rebels cartoon) droids have to physically 'jack in' to a data network (there is no wifi network that can be safely hacked from a distance).

 

Even in the real world no place concerned with network security will have their net wireless. This doesn't mean it doesn't exist in Star Wars, it just means the Empire knows getting hacked sucks and a simple air-gap is an easy way to protect your net. Heck in the last episode Chopper "jacks in" and then proceeds to relay what he finds to the Ghost.

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People also seem to often confuse "No Wifi" with "No wireless communication".  We see wireless transmissions quite often, but they're always between things that are designed to communicate with each other.  What they're not designed to do is allow anyone who isn't pre-authorized to communicate.  

 

I've seem some threads on this topic and I believe that topic is equally inconsistent.  There are certainly examples of wireless communication in the SW cannon (there are wireless comm links in essentially every movie, the HoloNet, etc).  We also see a complete lack of our current real world technology (I'm connected to my home wifi network right now).  Examples such as R2D2 having to physically plug into the Millennium Falcon to reactivate the hyperdrive demonstrate (to me anyway) an example of the need to transmit data by a 'hard link'.  Yet in the EotE ruleset, you can remotely 'slice' the defenses of an enemy ship (it's in the core book).

 

So the only thing I've seen that is consistent - is that it's not consistent.  There clearly exists wireless voice transmissions (our heroes use it, storm troopers use it, etc).  The transmission of data seems to be inconsistent.  Otherwise they could have just beamed the Death Star plans to the Rebel Base.

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People also seem to often confuse "No Wifi" with "No wireless communication".  We see wireless transmissions quite often, but they're always between things that are designed to communicate with each other.  What they're not designed to do is allow anyone who isn't pre-authorized to communicate.  

 

I've seem some threads on this topic and I believe that topic is equally inconsistent.  There are certainly examples of wireless communication in the SW cannon (there are wireless comm links in essentially every movie, the HoloNet, etc).  We also see a complete lack of our current real world technology (I'm connected to my home wifi network right now).  Examples such as R2D2 having to physically plug into the Millennium Falcon to reactivate the hyperdrive demonstrate (to me anyway) an example of the need to transmit data by a 'hard link'.  Yet in the EotE ruleset, you can remotely 'slice' the defenses of an enemy ship (it's in the core book).

 

So the only thing I've seen that is consistent - is that it's not consistent.  There clearly exists wireless voice transmissions (our heroes use it, storm troopers use it, etc).  The transmission of data seems to be inconsistent.  Otherwise they could have just beamed the Death Star plans to the Rebel Base.

 

*you cant open his airlock to space... but you can convince his dashboard coffeemaker to spray mocha in his face while he's flying.

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So the only thing I've seen that is consistent - is that it's not consistent.  There clearly exists wireless voice transmissions (our heroes use it, storm troopers use it, etc).  The transmission of data seems to be inconsistent.  Otherwise they could have just beamed the Death Star plans to the Rebel Base.

IMO, they had the physical capability to beam the Death Star plans long distances, but even if that communication was highly encrypted and securely encoded (a code is not the same as encryption), it still would have been relatively high power and relatively directional and that would have given away the positions of the sender and the recipient.

They needed to get the plans in a secure fashion that did not involve any kind of electromagnetic transmission, and that meant a physical courier. A droid would be a lot less likely to be noticed than a biological being.

Being a professional Unix system administrator since 1989, and a computer geek since the very early 80s, I’ve been forced to learn something about computer security over the years. I like to think that much of Star Wars is more security-conscious than our modern society is, where even if you had a serious nation-state developed piece of malware like Stuxnet, it wouldn’t be nearly so easy to infect another nation-state adversary.

YMMV.

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