from Vapo-scanners to tricorders

jedion357's picture
October 3, 2009 - 5:23am
Laying in bed considering some items I left off the ships equipment list in a game I was trying to decide what to do about scanners- go AD or ZEBs

I seems to me that the best choice is go STar Trek.

I handed out proto type CAS scanners from Zebs for PCs to feild test during a Volturnus campaign and the players largely ingnored them and I suspect some of them thought they were stupid. Well that isn't fun.

and the AD scanners seem a little silly- a vapo and a geo scanner both have mass spectrometer capability so they aught to be one scanner.

if you consider the Zebs CAS (Computer Analysis Scanners) the Fauna, MED, and flora scanners all have the ability to scan a life form and present info on it. you could just make these one scanner

The atmospheric, chemical, geo CAS all have the above mentioned mass spec capability plus a few other features and the demolitions scanner must have this to be able to tell you what explosive is being used.

The mechanical, robo, demolitions, electrical all suggest an ability to scan and present a display of circutry almost like a CAT scan for inanimate objects

the odd man out is the megnetic scan

rather than try to keep track of all these scanners why not just lump like with like or better yet just lump them all together in one package call it a tri-scanner or quadcorder if you like- suddenly its one item with tremendous capability and everyone would carry it pretty much like every boy scout likes to carry the 46 blade swiss army knife just in case they need one of those blades.

it saves on record keeping and I think players will resort to using them more often since it does everything like magic.

The limitations on the scanner would be the PCs skill- a scan all device is great but for some applications it really requires a skill to properly interpret the info. The device just presents information but its the character's skill that interprets it.

1: it will present a schematic on the circutry and security features of a computer but it requires comp skill to do anything in the way of by passing the security in fact the device can be used to gain a bonus on the skill check (same goes for demolitions and medical skills)

2. areas that would overlap the toxy rad gauge- no skill required any one can scan a sample and say this is X item from the periodic chart. If fact I'd allow unskill use in areas that would normally require a skill but the scanner will only tell you that the most basic info- PC scans a disguised bomb, the scanner tells him its a bomb but since he doesn't have demo skill he wont learn much more than that the mass spec says its TD-19

3. obviously it would make a great aid in fixing things +10? bonus. No ships engineer would be caught dead without one.

make it the cost of the original enviromental tool kit: 500cr but make it the wt of ? The original eviro kit was 10kg which seems to heavy. The ZEBs CAS's are 2kg or 3kg for a Duo (with 2 scanner functions in one device). Personally I'd prefer 1-2 kg or even negligable wt.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Georgie's picture
October 3, 2009 - 6:18am
I would lean towards a bulkier and heavier device, and make them require a level 1 computer with level 3 or 4 Analysis program. If it functions 'like magic', make it have a cost to carry and use. In survival situations where every kilo counts, make the party seriously weigh the cost and benefits of such a device. If it is light and easy to use, everyone will carry one, reducing risk and potentially spoiling the game.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.    * Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
October 3, 2009 - 2:34pm
I agree an unskilled character should be able to read the output of such a device but may not be able to interrupt all the data he/she is seeing. You could craft a Standard Scanner that has low-level abilities out of the box. Create several add-ons for the device. Player's can basically create their own scanner. You could expand this idea to include Cost, Power requirements, Level and Function Points.

I made a universal helmet that uses the same concept.

Universal Helmets come in many shapes and sizes. They have several types of attachments and connectors making them extremely modular. There are six ports available, only one item can be attached to each port.

(Add 10% to the cost of the item for fitting it to the port)

Examples of items:
  • Goggles
  • Searchlight
  • Communications Gear
  • Filtration Mask
  • HoloProjector
  • Toxigauge
  • WristRockets
For 100 Cr the helmet can be equipped with a retina scanner which will verify the wearers identity. It is coded to accept a single wearer. A technician can re-code the helmet in 1d10 turns.

Gilbert's picture
October 3, 2009 - 9:36pm
  A person could really have some serous fun with this subject. My father was a chemist and he had a lot of little toys he used in the field to get an idea of the makeup of different materials. With experience and a good eye you could tell what something was made of on the surface. However, these tools only let you know what was in the target material and only the surface. This device was called a spectrograph. Its operation was very much like looking through a kaleidoscope. It was the size of a calligraphy pen. I did learn how to use it and how to read it.
  In modern times, there is an electronic version of this that connects to a computer. Its size is about the size of a d size battery. That is so people can hold it comfortably. It does the same thing and is amazingly accurate. I have the schematics for it somewhere.
  The trick to using these is you have to have a true white light source that covers all spectrum's of light.
   My point is, since these devices can fit into you pocket now. I can see the same devices fit into your pocket making a scanner device that could do all scans in general only displaying the programmed highlights of what is being scanned.
  I would go with having something like w00t has mentioned. Have a basic scanner platform that accepts cartridges that have the programs in it. The style that I use is all scanners can do a general scan. Plug in the specific scan programs and more details can be analyzed. For more details, have it plug into a larger computer to download the details. Now with networking being in today, I can see these same scanners communicating with each other so the person holding a scanner with a specific scan program would get the scan from a teammate for an more detailed scan forcing the group to work as a team. I will leave this open to your imagination because this can be done in many different ways and/or to each GM flavor.