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So I'm about to start a game where the players are Agents for the ISB. Tracking down threats to the empire.

My question is how far can the ISB reach, do they full access to all systems holo-net.

So if If I'm on Coruscant can I access the feeds on an IMP controlled world in the outer rim?

Do you have to be in the same system, same planet?

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Uh.

That depends . . .

Keep in mind that ISB is a security apparatus for a despotic regime and part of the problems that despotic regimes run into is internal resistance.  So letting any one agency or subordinate agent get too much power is not good.  (Unless they're completely loyal . . . but how would you know)?

So ISB agents will be universally feared and hated and will seem to have a lot of discretion, but in reality, their scope and knowledge may be highly restricted and limited.

As for information availability, the PC's will have access to an ISB database, but will only be able to access "assigned" data.  And if they need additional information they'll need to talk to a supervisor and justify additional access before receiving that data.

And OMG if they need information from a cross institutional entity like the Navy!  Oh no no no no NO!

 

Another control element that they'll likely run into are lengthy chains of command where promotion is dependent on loyalty and dependability, but not competence or ability!

 

There are really two things that will make an ISB agent capable of completing a mission, and that's their ability to wield a blaster and the ability to depend on superior officers to support them with more agents with more blasters.

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On ‎3‎/‎20‎/‎2019 at 8:14 PM, LordJackel said:

So I'm about to start a game where the players are Agents for the ISB. Tracking down threats to the empire.

My question is how far can the ISB reach, do they full access to all systems holo-net.

So if If I'm on Coruscant can I access the feeds on an IMP controlled world in the outer rim?

Do you have to be in the same system, same planet?

What works best for your game?

Remember, the holonet isn't really a fully evolved thing in canon, so there's not much by way of right and wrong answers to what it can do. Layer on that you're allowed to be limited to what makes sense from a 30's serial or 70's tech level perspective. (Remember, hitting a 2m wide target with a bomb is "impossible" in star wars, but totally doable real-world today). Furthermore the Empire is often depicted as a cumbersome bureaucracy, so while the ISB might officially have access to something, bureaucratically it might be unfeasible or impractical. 

 

Here's how I typically run the holonet in my games:

  • The holonet is a system that's primary function is the transmission of near-real time communications with emphasis on Holographics, but the capability to transmit lesser communications as well such as Voice and text.
  • The holonet is not an "internet" at least not as we know it. Most computers are not connected to it (indeed most computers aren't connect to networks at all, or if they are connected it's usually a LAN) and controlling system via the holonet is rare (though technically possible). 
  • The Holonet is more like a hybrid of telephone and TV. It's an internet as envisioned by phone, cable, and TV companies. Common people can't really post things, there's virtually no Youtubes or message boards or social media. Things that are like the internet are heavily regulated. So only a licensed outlet can post widely viewable content. There's a "darknet" of sorts that slicers use to communicate, but again, there's not much to it, the system is just too limited, and even more so since they are trying to stay on the downlow. In truth any slicer worth his salt is very careful about the exchange of information on the holonet.
  • The holonet doesn't organically store much. It's more phone system than computer system, so there's buffers and RAM banks and such to help push messages through, but there aren't rack upon rack of long term storage systems. Places that do need them, keep those servers and such locally. Typically within minutes (often less) of a message being received, it's purged form the system to make room for the next message. 
  • Airgaps are super common, and hardware is often required. For whatever reason, technical, cultural, or historical, the galaxy doesn't network computers very much, and likes to keep terminals and networks local and stand-alone. So like a local news feed might be considered "connected to the holonet" officially to get the feeds from it's galactic level affiliate, but in practice it's local servers and feeds are air-gapped from their holonet receiver and all data is moved between them via mouse-droid. If you do need to do something special like monitor holonet traffic between two people, you'll need to bug something. Preferably their holocommunicators, but you might be able to tap a relay assuming you know which relay they are likely to be communicating through. 
  • The Holonet while "owned" by the Empire, is managed by a patchwork of government, private, and commercial entities. There's no single entity 100% responsible for the entire thing. Get onboard a holonet relay station, and you might find Imperial troops, local contractors, Hut goons, or whatever depending on where you are. This is also why Imperial monitoring of the holonet is tricky. They technically have the authority to do whatever they like with the holonet, but an ISB agent suddenly showing up in Hutt Space demanding XYZ be pulled from a relay might be stopped by everything from a legit legal effort by the Hutts to make him butt out, to local incompetence that makes what he's doing impossible. "Oh yeah, the message log databanks fried 3 years ago, we asked for a replacement 8 times but it never came. So now we just bypass it by bridging the circuit with an old spatula, holonet still works, but the spatula doesn't store logs... obviously..." So while the Empire CAN technically monitor the holonet, they can't monitor everything all the time. There's too much, and its so wacky and ad-hoced that targeted monitoring is usually more realistic.

 

I find this set of guidelines allows for anything while also preventing abuse. You can hop on and check out a message board, or go digging through public records, even penetrate a server if needed. But at the same time you can't just monitor everyone in the galaxy, hack the senate from your bathtub on Tatooine, or otherwise expect to be able to hack anything and anyone from anywhere. It also explains why you'll have situations where opposing sides in a galactic conflict all appear to be using the same holonet... because they are. The Holonet as a system is such a mess that a little spoofing, careful routing, and decent encryption is all it takes to keep your holonet comms reasonably secure. Still, that's "reasonable" and not "perfectly" so that's why you'll also see the Rebellions and such defaulting to more primitive point-to-point voice comms that are harder to intercept if you're not in the right place and looking for it. 

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To add, the holonet used to be a lot more accessible by the common republic citizen, it was not free, think telegrams but with video/telephone flavor as mentioned above. Many upper class citizens had dedicated holonet access in their homes and businesses. Others went to the holonet equivalent of Internet cafes. Most Holonet access was for government purposes. The holonet was not the first galaxy spanning communication network. There have been quite a few others, and much of the galaxy's darknet resides there, cobbled together with sweat and "useless" old tech. 

Palpatine was able to use his vast granted powers to gain total controlling interest of the holonet with cleverly crafted edicts and as he worked both sides during the clone war, and the fact that the holonet was maintained and considered neutral during the clone war it remained largely intact. He knew controlling information would allow for false information to make its rounds and was able to restrict and blackout entire systems, forcing them to submit to imperial control or influence. Next by controlling the system jump points, entire systems had to rely upon what the Imperial government would let in or out.

ISB agents work in a competitive community, information is a commodity and why the Imperial Navy has its own information commodity too. ISB agents can't just kill their in community competition at any level, they know they are one exploitation in either direction of failing or succeeding.

The recent A-team movie does a really decent job of showing hot ISB on ISB action, along with a few different independent figures, groups and wildcards. With the A-team looking like heroes. 

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