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Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

What the Heck is a Datapad?


Starfinder General Discussion


SF Society module Into the Unknown mentions a device called a Datapad. I know of course what the name implies, but what the heck is it re: rules and equipment? I looked under Computers but might have missed it. Are they a type of miniaturized computer? If so are there functions and Tiers?

Related, I see the entry for Comm device and thought it a bit lame. It has a calculator? Really? What for? “Hey! See if you can hold off these space goblins long enough for me calculate how much all our load out is gonna cost!” Hardly seems necessary much less unimaginative. Ooh. And a flashlight too? I’ll take it!

Thanks in advance for any insight and apologies if I overlooked Datapads.


I believe it mentions their 1 computers are things like datapads and door controllers in one section.


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A datapad is like an iPad, but with more data.

Grand Lodge

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@Ventnor I just lost it reading that at work.


Storage is left intentionally vague, it's basically a tier 1 computer that's easily hidden. All the tier does is set the Hack DC at 17.


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Its like a tablet, but better (because Science).


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And are you really complaining that Starfinder comms are basically modern smartphones?


Ventnor wrote:
A datapad is like an iPad, but with more data.

and 1/10th the cost


d'Eon wrote:
And are you really complaining that Starfinder comms are basically modern smartphones?

Well, I guess I am LOL. I think my issue is identified in your question: I’d expect a science fiction comm unit to have more cool features and functions than a modern (ie what we have today) anything. Sorry if I can’t get excited about waiting for the Drift Drive to spin up while adding stuff on my calculator. I suppose I expected more cool, imaginative features that would actually be useful for exploring the Vast unknown.

I know I can build computer modules for my players’ comms to make them more imaginative and interesting and exciting using the rules. I’ll probably also look at other game systems for inspiration, like Coriolis or something.

I mean, even the iPhone X would let me wander around the Spire using AR to find a good weapons dealer! Maybe the One More Thing will be a supplement for cool comm apps LOL.


What exactly is a future smartphone supposed to be able to do, other than "smartphone stuff but better"? Its a portable comm device that doubles as a computer, that's. . . pretty much covered. Its like complaining that future clothing doesn't also shapeshift into tools and have an AI to keep you company. Yes, you *could* get that stuff, but its not the baseline of what "clothing" or "portable comm" means.

Which is to say, even thousands of years in the future, people will still use a smartphone for the same things, because those things are useful.


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I mean, those are part of the comms units as well. Entry states they come preloaded with calculator, flashlight, communications, and also mentions games and other widgets that make me assume it's essentially a smartphone rather than the Trek Communicator. p. 218

Personally I'd allow for it to project a holographic interface up in addition to the input modes modern smartphones use, since holograms are also explicitly a thing that computers can do, and therefore create an AR overlay as long as you're willing to hold it in your hand and don't mind that other people can see it too. The book says they can access the Infosphere, so maps of populated areas and a yelp-like review program can't be hard to find.


Metaphysician wrote:

What exactly is a future smartphone supposed to be able to do, other than "smartphone stuff but better"? Its a portable comm device that doubles as a computer, that's. . . pretty much covered. Its like complaining that future clothing doesn't also shapeshift into tools and have an AI to keep you company. Yes, you *could* get that stuff, but its not the baseline of what "clothing" or "portable comm" means.

Which is to say, even thousands of years in the future, people will still use a smartphone for the same things, because those things are useful.

Good points and I think you hit it when you said, but better. I mean, excuse me but including a calculator is useless, unimaginative, and uninspiring. I hate to harp on the calculator thing LOL but I think it’s an exemplar of the inanity of this piece of gear. If someone can give me a (serious) example of why I’d need a calculator I’ll concede the point. Plus, this is a game. That means fun. A calculator is not fun. And is anyone seriously going to argue that science fiction comms should be essentially the smartphone of today? We’re at the end of the smartphone as it’s own device era now.

Aerotan’s holographic suggestion is way better and more of what I anyway would expect. A nifty calculator and a flashlight sounds like my grandma’s clamshell phone features. Admittedly even these are too advanced for her to use, LOL, but she doesn’t live in a universe with a Triune either. Holographic tech on a comm unit or data pad is way more cool and inspirational. Maybe I’ll add a holographic calculator to the comm and be way more satisfied.

Not sure the clothing analogy works. Most people don’t think tech when they think clothing. Although—clothes that shift color or appearance depending on your mood or location would be neat. Anybody interested in a Kickstarter for development of a Mood Shirt??


Dorloran wrote:
Good points and I think you hit it when you said, but better. I mean, excuse me but including a calculator is useless, unimaginative, and uninspiring. I hate to harp on the calculator thing LOL but I think it’s an exemplar of the inanity of this piece of gear. If someone can give me a (serious) example of why I’d need a calculator I’ll concede the point.

Not everyone is going to be the 20+ Int Mechanic/Technomancer, and some (possibly even most) Vesk (and other races probably but in Core Vesk) are going to be 8 Int. And how does someone with less-than-super-human Intelligence handle math (including such things as "do we have time to stop by Absalom station to stock up on our way to the destination colony", "how much can I sell these 20 spare laser pistols I looted off that cult for", "if we all step onto this bridge together, that the grease monkey says can handle 1500 pounds, will it collapse beneath us," and the like)? Well if they're anything like 99% of the math classes I've been in, they're going to pull out a calculator. Is it mechanically advantageous? No. But it is a flavorfully advantageous thing to have, and can even justify the calculators that half the players may have anyways.


It's a computer, and computers in Starfinder can just choose to have holographic displays.... so you can already have holographic comm units.


Why assume that the calculator in the thing is the standard +-/* 10-digit thing you use today, and not something that's capable of doing more complex calculations like a TI-84? Or even something you can hold up to take a quick capture video and then have it extrapolate an ideal trajectory for the grappling hook?

Even if it does only add, subtract, divide, multiply, and otherwise solve for X, the fact that it's ubiquitous means that we can reasonably expect people to pull off accurate calculations on the fly no matter their intelligence or lack thereof, something that is a knowledge check in Pathfinder.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's like an IPad, without the litigation nightmares Apple would surely cause.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I don't get the hate on calculators. My coworker is a brilliant chemist, but she can't add or subtract in her head. She needs a calculator. Heck, I use a calculator on a daily basis do to integrations.

People won't be any different in the future.

Just make it grant a small bonus to an engineering check for it to represent it being useful.


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What they are missing are machine learning apps-- lie detectors, visual identification of life forms, scent sensors that can detect unseen lifeforms, apps that can identify a voice in a noisy room that says you name and then play back everything that voice has ever said and any voice that was talking with that voice, apps that provide advice on negotiating tactics to use with different people based on public profile data (or not so public, if you have access), auto-pilot apps etc..


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S. J. Digriz wrote:

What they are missing are machine learning apps-- lie detectors, visual identification of life forms, scent sensors that can detect unseen lifeforms, apps that can identify a voice in a noisy room that says you name and then play back everything that voice has ever said and any voice that was talking with that voice, apps that provide advice on negotiating tactics to use with different people based on public profile data (or not so public, if you have access), auto-pilot apps etc..

So, basically make it capable of running Expert Systems that grant a +2 equipment bonus to skill checks that it's programmed for?


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John Napier 698 wrote:
S. J. Digriz wrote:

What they are missing are machine learning apps-- lie detectors, visual identification of life forms, scent sensors that can detect unseen lifeforms, apps that can identify a voice in a noisy room that says you name and then play back everything that voice has ever said and any voice that was talking with that voice, apps that provide advice on negotiating tactics to use with different people based on public profile data (or not so public, if you have access), auto-pilot apps etc..

So, basically make it capable of running Expert Systems that grant a +2 equipment bonus to skill checks that it's programmed for?

I would handle many of them as allow the computer to make a check to perform some narrow function, such as perform a sense motive check at +X to detect when someone that the computer can see and hear is telling a lie, or perform perception check at +X vs a DC that various depending on circumstances to notice a particular phrase being spoken in a crowded room and isolate that speaker's voice in the continuously recorded audio that the computer maintains. The app that identifies lifeforms would be able to make a +X life sciences check to identify a life form that was visible to the computer's camera provided the life form was known to the pact worlds.

The app that provides advice on negotiating tactics would end up giving you a +X on certian of your diplomacy/intimidate/bluff checks, but could also provide some interesting, perhaps useful intel.


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Oh, and translators-- apps that can essentially comprehend languages provided the computer can see the text, or hear the spoken words, then only slightly more advanced apps that would translate what you write/sign/say into any other known language.

Also, the computer could act as a life log-- it could record everything you did (via audio, video, and smellivision), and then attempt to notice things that took place that you didn't pick up on-- stalkers/recon efforts against you, admirers, pick pocket attempts, inefficiencies, bad habbits, spells being cast in your vicinity, etc. It could try to extrapolate on that data to provide an augury or divination effect once it has accumulated enough data (mechanically allow an augury 1/week, say).


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Yes! Yes! Now we’re getting somewhere! Machine learning and expert systems—now THOSE are the future of comm units (and smartphones).

Great ideas S.J. Digriz and John Napier 698! Mind if I yoink these and use them without attribution LOL?

Very imaginative and inspiring.

Edit: Also addresses my OP about what a datapad is/could/should be.


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Be my guest. As a longtime Traveller player/GM, I'm always glad to help others by coming up with ideas such as this.


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S. J. Digriz wrote:
The app that provides advice on negotiating tactics would end up giving you a +X on certian of your diplomacy/intimidate/bluff checks, but could also provide some interesting, perhaps useful intel.

Note that this is already roughly possible with the Artificial Personality computer upgrade, which can make checks for those skills and Sense Motive with a bonus equal to twice its computer level. Several of the others can be roughly handled with things like data modules, though the actual mechanics involved there may not be adequate for your ideas.


Calculator is one of the four apps I downloaded onto my real-life android phone. What's so silly about that?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Also, think of everything you wish your smartphone could do, but can't because of pesky things like "physics." Want the giant screen of tablet/laptop combo but able to fit inside a pocket? Why not have a holographic or psychic interface that allows you perceive the screen as much larger than a device is capable? And while you're at it, make it so no one but the user can read the screen, and would only hear soft atmospheric noise instead of that call. Mine would be set so that would be eavesdropper are treated to children's television theme songs.

And definitely have a customizable input device. An all-up qwerty keyboard (again, doens't have to be a physical object, could be an augmented reality), a 10 key pad, or the annoyingly tiny emoji screen are all on the table.

Even a tier 0 computer probably has a fairly sophisticated AI as we would perceive it. Say you log into Akiton's datanet. Your comm automatically syncs you up to local time and day, and ALSO updates its database of local laws, downloads the latest colloquialisms to aid translations, perhaps pings the local harbor AI computer for docking rates and even arranges a berth for your ship and a hotel for your crew, all instantly and ready for you to sign off on.

The touch screens of the future can also tell a butt dial from a deliberate attempt of usage, so there's that.


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For example, an expert system for the Engineer skill would have schematics, blueprints, and repair manuals for nearly every common vehicle or starship.


whew wrote:

Calculator is one of the four apps I downloaded onto my real-life android phone. What's so silly about that?

I think maybe some people are missing my point. I don’t harbor a burning hatred for calculators. I downloaded a calculator onto my iPad, too. But then, we’re also not characters in a fictional game in which the only limits are one’s imagination. (And maybe the rules.) I’m fully aware of the value of calculators IRL. I was just personally disappointed at the mundanity of the book pointing out the inclusion of a calculator on a futuristic device.

I must say this thread has evolved into some very good ideas. I think what I might do is make a Datapad Chart for my players and take all the really good ideas here and list them separately as available upgrade modules for their datapads, then price them out so they can pick from the “App Store” to customize their pads for their character concept. They’d be limited to a certain number of apps maybe based on pad tier or something but could swap them out under the right circumstances.

Many good ideas here! Any more good App ideas??

Also, I’d just like to say that I’ve never had such a lengthy discussion about the virtues of calculators LOL.


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Of course, games are obvious. Some could even be Freemium or Pay-to-win with microtransactions.

Maybe an app that functions like a cross between podkicker and Netflix, pinging your computer whenever you come out of Drift and having it passively download any new episodes of programs/trivids you subscribe to.

Definitely need an app that works with the Artificial Personality to set you up with a 'personal trainer' that reads your vitals, recommends a regimen, adjusts it periodically, and gives you reminders when it detects you're not preoccupied.

Likewise one that links to a centralised database and finds the nearest professionals and/or clients you need and offers to contact them for a nominal fee.

And of course a peripheral that facilitates transferring credits between bank accounts and credsticks.

If you own property somewhere, an app that detects when your trip has started to extend past your projected duration and automatically renews or suppresses your leases and contracted regular services (house sitter, landscapers, cleaning services, meal-of-the-month club, energy usage contracts, etc.) until you get back.

Likewise, one that works with a database and the Drift network and infospheres to detect when you aren't home, secures your possessions, offers short-term rental of your space until you start heading back, then hires a cleaning crew to return it and your stuff to its original condition. With or without the option of paying you after the developer/publisher takes their cut(s). Like, future space-BnB++.

Lastly, one that manages the 'essentials' you need when you get to port, reordering or replacing cleaning supplies you use, food and drink you eat, toiletries you've exhausted, and linens, utensils, and furniture you've worn through or destroyed, deducts the costs from a designated account or credstick, then has the order ready before relaunch, arranging a courier if you end up leaving the port city for a surcharge, or just having the order ready for pick-up at the docks otherwise.


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Dorloran wrote:


I’d expect a science fiction comm unit to have more cool features and functions than a modern anything.

It's a tier 0 computer, even door locks could be tier 1.

Also look at the cost. tier 1-2 ballistic longarm is about half the cost in credits as a modern firearm is in dollars. A basic comm link is 7 credits or about $14. If you want a more capable comm link buy upgrades and be happy you are not paying iPhone prices.

As for all the App suggestions I doubt they are needed. Way I read it even a basic tier 1 computer can do most of functions mentioned. AI and tier upgrades would give bonuses to those actions. This assumes you do not want to bother with multiple monthly service fees and "what do you mean Technosoft Office 851 does not work in the Drift".


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I think a lot of this stuff falls under "cosmetics". Yeah, the interface is more sophisticated and sci-fi-y, but ultimately, a phone is still a phone and a calculator still a calculator. Sure, its probably a really nice scientific/graphing calculator, that can be controlled by natural language voice commands. . . but its still a calculator.

Some of the fancier stuff, like translators, are valid desirable functions, but probably shouldn't be a default feature, and will likely be included in future tech supplements. In the meantime, remember the rule "Anything not listed that has a real world equivalent is likely available for about 5 credits". So, you probably could get a translator app under that rule. . . though it'd not be a Universal Translator, so much as a "use app to be able to use Linguistics untrained for a single known language".


I am of two minds, one in some games it will not be a big thing but on the other hand the other main type of RPG'ers would love to have more info.
So if you do not care about description/text that matters and just look at mechanics and what they do, you do not need more info, ie calculator will do.
But if you think descriptive text adds flavor to the game and you want/need valid reasons for mechanics then you need more from your game.

There is nothing wrong with either group .... except when you are in one group and are injected into the other it tends to cause play issues.

MDC


AnimatedPaper wrote:
Also, think of everything you wish your smartphone could do, but can't because of pesky things like "physics." Want the giant screen of tablet/laptop combo but able to fit inside a pocket? Why not have a holographic or psychic interface that allows you perceive the screen as much larger than a device is capable? And while you're at it, make it so no one but the user can read the screen, and would only hear soft atmospheric noise instead of that call. Mine would be set so that would be eavesdropper are treated to children's television theme songs.

Neural implant feeding the visual and audio directly to your brain.

For those who don't want to go that far, a wireless video projector in the shape of contact lenses plus the ear-plugs.


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Drejk wrote:
AnimatedPaper wrote:
Also, think of everything you wish your smartphone could do, but can't because of pesky things like "physics." Want the giant screen of tablet/laptop combo but able to fit inside a pocket? Why not have a holographic or psychic interface that allows you perceive the screen as much larger than a device is capable? And while you're at it, make it so no one but the user can read the screen, and would only hear soft atmospheric noise instead of that call. Mine would be set so that would be eavesdropper are treated to children's television theme songs.

Neural implant feeding the visual and audio directly to your brain.

For those who don't want to go that far, a wireless video projector in the shape of contact lenses plus the ear-plugs.

Or it could take the form an an Eyephone.


There should also be high level apps (level representing clearance/contacts/illegal warrents/black favors/etc):

Discern Location: Determine the physical coordinates of anyone operating withing a given infosphere. +1 level: get realtime video feed of them.

Infoblank (the technological version of mindblank): no app can access any information about you within a given info sphere, as far as any app accessing an info sphere is concerned, you don't exist. This app whipes your existence from any infosphere it's connected to, and can create false profiles for you.

Fanbase: this app creates a virtual fan base for you using an array of artificial personalities. Anyone researching you on an info sphere will see data that indicates that you are wildly popular. It is very difficult for even skilled investigators to determine that this popularity is virtual.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

What is a Datapad?
A place a Next Gen Star Trek Lt. Commander takes his dates.


Every character should spend a few credits to have a couple interactive travel guides on their datapad, such as the somewhat useful 'Encyclopedia Galactica', and the very handy 'Cosmic Vagabond's Information Kiosk and Handbook of Contingencies'.


Tim Statler wrote:

What is a Datapad?

A place a Next Gen Star Trek Lt. Commander takes his dates.

You're being silly. Stop that.


The thing that is driving me crazy is that I remember almost the exact text describing such a device from some other game. But I just cannot find it right now.
I checked some very old/old Traveller, Spacemaster and Shadowrun but they do not match.
Then again I read a lot of stuff that never sees the light of publishing so maybe it was there I saw it. Or maybe it is just age.
MDC


Star Wars, perhaps?


John Napier 698 wrote:
Star Wars, perhaps?

I do not know, ... I also know there is only so many ways you can say the same thing or list the same options until it seems as if you have seen them before.

MDC

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