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Archlyte

Comlinks... lol

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Usage: These things kind of make me crazy sometimes. Players seem to be constantly keeping track of each development through the comlinks: they will actually stop doing something cool so that they can talk about what they are doing on the comlink. I feel like they are like baby monitors for Player Characters sometimes. I asked my players to consider that comlink use Is dialogue, and that they should use the same great in-character dialogue they display normally, when they use the comlink as well. 

The Technology: The comlink I am used to is the old cylinder one from Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. There is no interface or controls on the thing that I can see. Seems like you think about who you want to talk to, and they are connected with you. I can't imagine that is how they are supposed to work, so I am trying to think of some ways to describe how these things are used. Do comlinks auto-connect in some way? Are law-abiding citizens normally easily and ubiquitously reached by comlink?

I would love to read your thoughts and anecdotes on comlinks. Thank you for any responses :)   

 

 

comlink2.jpg

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6 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Usage: These things kind of make me crazy sometimes. Players seem to be constantly keeping track of each development through the comlinks: they will actually stop doing something cool so that they can talk about what they are doing on the comlink. I feel like they are like baby monitors for Player Characters sometimes. I asked my players to consider that comlink use Is dialogue, and that they should use the same great in-character dialogue they display normally, when they use the comlink as well. 

The Technology: The comlink I am used to is the old cylinder one from Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back. There is no interface or controls on the thing that I can see. Seems like you think about who you want to talk to, and they are connected with you. I can't imagine that is how they are supposed to work, so I am trying to think of some ways to describe how these things are used. Do comlinks auto-connect in some way? Are law-abiding citizens normally easily and ubiquitously reached by comlink?

I would love to read your thoughts and anecdotes on comlinks. Thank you for any responses :)   

 

 

comlink2.jpg

I'd guess that there is one button on the bottom of the cylinder, that is like the voice command button on the staring wheels of cars that are android auto compatible.  My 2017 Honda CRV has this feature.  I imagine that you can use the voice command button (or a "space usb port" which could be more llike a Bluetooth connection to  a datapad) to set up numbers in advance for a voice command "call john/jane"  holding the button for a few seconds might disconnect the call but otherwise it stays open like a walkie-talkie or the old "nextel" cell phones.

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According to the West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game comlinks broadcast on "countless different frequencies" and can be encrypted to ensure your communications can't be heard by others. There are also public "Standard Clear Frequencies", for stuff like public broadcasts (like the one Lando made to Cloud City in the Empire Strikes Back?). So you don't really call specific people, unless they know to listen into a particular frequency.

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Most of our party either has helmets with built in links, or wears headsets. We have also decided that our OOC-banter (mostly really bad puns and odd universe ideas taken *way* to far) is actually IC conversation. Mostly because our party is actually eccentric and arrogant enough to actually have an argumentative and drawn out discussion about who wrecked the 'fresher (and whether or not the bothan in the party drinks from the bowl) while also trying to talk our way through some bank guards. 

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my team also uses headsets/built-in comlinks 

i actually find comlinks a very useful tool to overcome inevitable meta-gaming. in Star Wars the team very often splits up to pull off complex tasks - in a classic D&D game it is always painful (at least to me it is :) ) to  manipulate information sharing when PCs split up and are not supposed to know what's going with the rest of the team.

in a SW game it is normal for the players to on different sides of the planet/different ships and be able to communicate through open team channel instantly. this also opens doors for muliple oher mechanics such as scrambling/tracing/intercepting communication and invites PCs to inbest in their gear too.

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3 hours ago, thesaviour said:

my team also uses headsets/built-in comlinks 

i actually find comlinks a very useful tool to overcome inevitable meta-gaming. in Star Wars the team very often splits up to pull off complex tasks - in a classic D&D game it is always painful (at least to me it is :) ) to  manipulate information sharing when PCs split up and are not supposed to know what's going with the rest of the team.

in a SW game it is normal for the players to on different sides of the planet/different ships and be able to communicate through open team channel instantly. this also opens doors for muliple oher mechanics such as scrambling/tracing/intercepting communication and invites PCs to inbest in their gear too.

Yes I think there is a lot of god that comes form having the comlinks to be sure, and it cuts down on needless travel to tell someone something. I think that the storytelling (by everyone, not GM story) can be hurt at times by the need to be in constant contact. Hard to sometimes build tension when the characters are talking on the phone instead of being in the scene. 

Also, with a headset does that somehow have a better interface, or easier to understand mode of making connections to intended com recipients? Seems like that just makes it hands free and still doesn't really clear up how the **** things work :)

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5 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Yes I think there is a lot of god that comes form having the comlinks to be sure, and it cuts down on needless travel to tell someone something. I think that the storytelling (by everyone, not GM story) can be hurt at times by the need to be in constant contact. Hard to sometimes build tension when the characters are talking on the phone instead of being in the scene. 

Also, with a headset does that somehow have a better interface, or easier to understand mode of making connections to intended com recipients? Seems like that just makes it hands free and still doesn't really clear up how the **** things work :)

Think frs radio

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Comlinks have been pretty handy to have for my group, since it lets our characters share information over a distance. Our GM is also pretty good at having them being jammed at times, as well as players who are willing to give away their comlinks to NPCs. Overall I would say that they're way more of a useful thing than a negative thing. As for how they work, the C3PO one is probably part of a heavier one set in the room they're in. In Episode 1-3 we see the much smaller lady shaving tool one that can be attached to various pieces of equipment and seems to have a sort of interface, or at least buttons you can press. Prequel material might not fit in your standards for what's proper Star Wars feeling, but the material is there and it answers a few of your questions.

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11 hours ago, Daeglan said:

Think frs radio

I had to look that up :) I think that makes sense, I just wonder about frequency choosing. Also in the Clone wars show they would jam coms with a device in their armor, so I'm curious about common frequencies and all that. I guess that maybe I should handle the basic comlinks like FRS Radio like you said. Just have it be assumed that group members pair theirs. My players very often want to use them like phones and that isn't the way I want them used. I think I will make it so that basic comlinks are friends and family only. If they want to talk to Darth Vader or the Park & Rec Department for Coronet they need to find a com terminal or station.

 

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10 hours ago, Darth Revenant said:

Comlinks have been pretty handy to have for my group, since it lets our characters share information over a distance. Our GM is also pretty good at having them being jammed at times, as well as players who are willing to give away their comlinks to NPCs. Overall I would say that they're way more of a useful thing than a negative thing. As for how they work, the C3PO one is probably part of a heavier one set in the room they're in. In Episode 1-3 we see the much smaller lady shaving tool one that can be attached to various pieces of equipment and seems to have a sort of interface, or at least buttons you can press. Prequel material might not fit in your standards for what's proper Star Wars feeling, but the material is there and it answers a few of your questions.

Yes that was helpful, thank you. You made me smile by calling that one a lady shaver. I know that's what it was made of but was still funny. 

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3 hours ago, Archlyte said:

I had to look that up :) I think that makes sense, I just wonder about frequency choosing. Also in the Clone wars show they would jam coms with a device in their armor, so I'm curious about common frequencies and all that. I guess that maybe I should handle the basic comlinks like FRS Radio like you said. Just have it be assumed that group members pair theirs. My players very often want to use them like phones and that isn't the way I want them used. I think I will make it so that basic comlinks are friends and family only. If they want to talk to Darth Vader or the Park & Rec Department for Coronet they need to find a com terminal or station.

There are com jammers  (in the corebooks iirc) which do it automatically and there is the jamming action in the vehicle rules, which is based on a computer check and blocks communication rather efficient as well, even when someone good with computers might be able to break the jamming … at the cost of an action. 

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39 minutes ago, SEApocalypse said:

There are com jammers  (in the corebooks iirc) which do it automatically and there is the jamming action in the vehicle rules, which is based on a computer check and blocks communication rather efficient as well, even when someone good with computers might be able to break the jamming … at the cost of an action. 

Yeah and the ship stuff I like to keep to just the of jamming communications, or ECM for missiles. I don't like putting in the Star Trek 'Force Reliant to lower her shields' stuff  unless there is some affinity of the person attempting it and the specific target craft in question. 

Through the answers on this thread I think its kind of clear to me that the basic comlink isn't super useful in the way a cell phone is, and maybe that is why the Datapad is a good thing to have. 

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I try to keep a feel of the Old West, or Samurai Movies, or WWII in my games, so having cell-phone/internet instant access to everything at all times isn't something that interests me. This thread is kind of gelling my view that comlinks are more limited in the scope of Who you can talk to, but the range of the technology for a little transmitter is quite good. 

I don't use a decentralized HoloNet, ubiquitous wifi, or any of the other trappings of an Earth-like Information Culture because I like the idea of it feeling alien and downright odd in some ways. 

Because there are so many millennia of the galaxy living together there could be any number of events, cultural preferences, and social habits concerning communication. The setting is Space Fantasy so it can bend away from our reality in that we assume that any society that technologically advanced must be like our world but better in all ways where tech is concerned. Perhaps the Republic had passed laws against the widespread transmission of data and identity, perhaps wars began over cyber intrusion that made for a non-stop epoch of warfare and aggression as low risk slicers brought official governments and corporations to a state of constant aggression. A similar prohibition could have been spread by the banking guild to prevent currencies from being manipulated and to keep markets from being easily swayed by weaponized information. The Empire would surely follow this model except where its own convenience and strategic advantage were concerned. 

Just my take.

Edited by Archlyte

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