with no wifi / net connetion can or should a pc.....


General Discussion


Be able to make a culture check to know anything about a new planet's (with a new race) culture they just got to? This includes their writing/pictographs on signs outside stores. I would say no. It is a sort of knowledge skill with pre-learning or looking up stuff. Got a guy that thinks just because he has a high score in his culture skill that if he rolls high he should know everything about a whole new world. And as stated there is no net connection so he can not gather infomation that way. Only other way is memorization and you can not memorizethat, much informaton on every planet in unknown space. which is where the campaign is taking place.


Ranks in the culture skill represents things the character knows.

If you're talking about a completely undiscovered planet, then arguably the characters shouldn't know anything, and there also wouldn't be anything on the infonet either.

Skill checks to recall knowledge only require you to have infonet access if you want to take 20 on the check. It's stated in the skills section.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The other thing to considers is the 'anthropology' side of Culture.

Certain things in any given culture are 'touchstones'.

Being able to identify those can give a significant boost to being able to 'decipher' some of the mores and folkways of a given civilization.


So looking at pictures on signs and rolling a culture check should not instantly tell you everything you should know about said sign. Take a sign with a poop emoji on a flat disk with sideways sign for water above it could mean a public latrine or it could be a plat of hot mashed potatoes so it is a place that serves hot food. But then again it could be the sacred religious symbol for "do not enter on pain of death".


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

However, character may have seen enough different cultures that they could draw the above conclusions, perhaps backed by interaction with people within the culture in question.

The Culture of a locker room, whether it be military, sport, law enforcement, basic physical education is going to have some similarities.

The Culture of social interaction on *average* will have some commonalities that will make themselves known to the casual observer.

Could someone trained in Cultures pick out who is who in the social hierarchy, without knowing why the hierarchy is the way it is? My answer would be yes if they rolled well enough.


ghostunderasheet wrote:
So looking at pictures on signs and rolling a culture check should not instantly tell you everything you should know about said sign. Take a sign with a poop emoji on a flat disk with sideways sign for water above it could mean a public latrine or it could be a plat of hot mashed potatoes so it is a place that serves hot food. But then again it could be the sacred religious symbol for "do not enter on pain of death".

That's what the culture check represents, you know what it means. Or are able to draw conclusions about it based on other things you know that are similar.


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You are making a slight misstep in the thinking.

What the knowledge check represents is what the character knows. Lets say by rote memorisation.

He wont have memorised the cultures of every single planetoid in the galaxy, but he just so happened to write his thesis on this one.
Unless he has enough ranks he will fail a check to know something, that is something he has failed to memorise.
If he succeeds the check means it is something he does remember or know and the reason can be abstracted.

The knowledge skills represent past study, the ability to extrapolate correctly, the ability to figure something out about something. The ranks abstract how the character knows what it does, and the check tells you what he knows and what he doesn't.


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Starfinder Superscriber

As other's have said, ranks in culture represent things your character has memorized or can infer from context. I don't need access to the internet to remember all the presidents of the US, I memorized them in 4th grade. Having access to a Infosphere or database on a particular culture/planet just allows you to take 20 on the check by using the SF equivalent of google to look stuff up or remind you about particulars you may not remember off the top of your head.

While I understand the temptation to completely disallow a check on a completely new planet, I would personally recommend just increasing the DC of the check to know a particular thing by some arbitrary number (and also possibly adding in a penalty like a bad mis-translation if they fail by 5 or more). Increasing the DC (and penalty) represents the added difficulty of figuring out what the poop emoji sign means without knowing the context innately the way a local would. The reality is that any new cultures are going to have a lot of similarities to existing cultures the character would know about, because "people" and cultures essentially have the same needs and desires regardless of where they are.

Someone with a high culture skill is essentially a anthropologist/linguist/archaeologist/sociologist/historian/pop-culture expert by training and study. I'm a bit miffed they squashed all those into a single skill, but they did. So, while that character may never have been to a particular planet or even heard of it, they may be able to relate various bits and pieces of that culture/language/history to extant cultures/planets that they have studied.

This is just as true for someone with Life Science, Physical Science, Medicine, Computers, or Mysticism trying to recall knowledge in their related fields on a new planet.


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Or someone skilled in Engineering trying to figure out how all the alien systems work.


You have found the public restroom for the locals which look like the hanar (the jellyfish people from mass effect 2 and no i don't know how many genders there are. but they see in ultra violet light or smell) there are three signs each repasenting each of the three hanar's genders but look the same. With out looking inside or asking the locals and your coms/exonet is broke. On pain of tentacle death for entering the wrong restroom. You must figure out which sign leads to your gender's restroom. You have 3 rounds 30 seconds before you publicly defile yourself and are arrested and sentenced to a year of hard labor for public indecency. You may get lucky and roll a nat 20 and choose the right restroom or you may choose wrong but no one is in there to Witnessthe violation. Not that reality bends to the player's will and the restrooms are swapped so that no matter which restroom you enter is the correct one.

Point being if your a jellyfish person your the only one that can tell which is the right restroom for you. unless your a expert on hanar physiology. But a criminal would not be an expert or care for culture ahead of time or actively research the nuances and minutiae of culture to the point that he would understand the influaces of politics, religion, history and other factors might have on and influace the culture develope to this point and time.

That or he is using out of charater knowledge and thats just something that grinds my gears (aka aggravates).


Starfinder Superscriber
ghostunderasheet wrote:
unless your a expert on hanar physiology. But a criminal would not be an expert or care for culture ahead of time or actively research the nuances and minutiae of culture to the point that he would understand the influaces of politics, religion, history and other factors might have on and influace the culture develope to this point and time.

I disagree fundamentally. Spending ranks in an appropriate knowledge skill (in this case either Culture or Life Science or Mysticism depending on what part of the above the check is focused on) is what makes a character an expert on the appropriate knowledge checks. Spending those points is a gamey way of saying "I study this stuff in my downtime/backstory" aka actively researching it.

Again, though, I think it's wholly appropriate to increase the DC or (in very rare cases) say that a particular culture is too unique to make the check. But generally, any character with an appropriate knowledge skill should be allowed to make knowledge checks to have their character know things. Not allowing them to make a check should be a very rare exception, even on worlds they've never been to.

Otherwise, what's the point of even allowing them to take the knowledge skill in the first place?


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
ghostunderasheet wrote:

Point being if your a jellyfish person your the only one that can tell which is the right restroom for you. unless your a expert on hanar physiology. But a criminal would not be an expert or care for culture ahead of time or actively research the nuances and minutiae of culture to the point that he would understand the influaces of politics, religion, history and other factors might have on and influace the culture develope to this point and time.

I don't see how being a hanar expert would help. If you have no information with which to differentiate between different choices then it doesn't matter what knowledge you have. Knowing that the correct bathroom is giving off a certain type of radiation or some other way of telling the correct room from the incorrect doesn't help if you don't have any method of detecting that difference.

I can very much see the problem that the ruleset of Starfinder has extremely broad skills. And the operative has a stupidly broad range of skills eventually allowing him to have max ranks in all but profession is a bit over the top.

But given the Starfinder ruleset, the culture skill definitely seems like the right skill to me to be making an educated guess assuming there is some cultural information to work with if he's allowed to see how the hanar are interacting with the rooms. Though if you give them building plans a combination of life science/engineer might work as there likely is some similarity in waste disposal methods.


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ghostunderasheet wrote:
Be able to make a culture check to know anything about a new planet's (with a new race) culture they just got to? This includes their writing/pictographs on signs outside stores. I would say no. It is a sort of knowledge skill with pre-learning or looking up stuff. Got a guy that thinks just because he has a high score in his culture skill that if he rolls high he should know everything about a whole new world.

Let's be clear what Culture actually does in Starfinder, and not what our definition of it is:

CULTURE (INT; TRAINED ONLY)

You are a student of the vast number of known cultures in the
galaxy, and you have a deep and rich understanding of the
undercurrents of cultures and language in general. Each time
you take a rank in Culture, you learn to speak and read a new
language.

Recall Knowledge
You can use Culture to recall knowledge about a culture’s customs,
laws, government, leaders, prominent inhabitants, legends, religion,
history, and related topics.

The DCs for skill checks to recall knowledge are determined
by the GM and are based on how well known the piece of
knowledge is, using the following guidelines.

Very difficult questions: DC 20 to 30

So, if the planet was never discovered before, there's absolutely no records of it anywhere - he can't "recall" anything about it.

If it was barely explored, he can get something about it, but I'd put the DC up there.

If it is well catalogued, but only new to them, yeah, spill the beans on his Culture checks.

In the first case, I'd still let him roll, but just confirm to him that this is a brand new discovery, they are the first ones to get there - it's kinda cool, and avoids the "telling no to your players" situation.

ghostunderasheet wrote:
And as stated there is no net connection so he can not gather infomation that way. Only other way is memorization and you can not memorizethat, much informaton on every planet in unknown space. which is where the campaign is taking place.

This is actually never a problem, as long as they are near a ship.

Planets vary wildly in their levels of telecommunications and
integration, but each Pact World has at least a rudimentary version
of an infosphere: a worldwide network of digitized information.
Due to the necessity of transmitting information physically, these
infospheres are largely unconnected, and neighboring worlds
may share core information but diverge wildly on lesser issues
that haven’t been worth the effort of synchronizing. While these
infospheres are often similar to Earth’s Internet, holding nearly
limitless amounts of economic and cultural ephemera, all major
Pact Worlds ports host basic encyclopedia-like data sets that
ships can download to aid passengers in research when not
in direct contact with an infosphere.


ghostunderasheet wrote:

Point being if your a jellyfish person your the only one that can tell which is the right restroom for you. unless your a expert on hanar physiology. But a criminal would not be an expert or care for culture ahead of time or actively research the nuances and minutiae of culture to the point that he would understand the influaces of politics, religion, history and other factors might have on and influace the culture develope to this point and time.

Incorrect. The ranks represent knowing things, having them memorized and being able to draw conclusions based on things you already know.

As I stated before and as Ragi has also said, if it's completely new and undiscovered and no one knows anything then the skill check can't recall anything, but there also wouldn't by any info on available on the net either.

Basically, this disallows a check to be made, or only made so that you as a GM tell the players "This is completely undiscovered, no one knows anything about it."

If the character has simply never encountered a particular thing before their skill check represents having read about it. I can tell facts about many things I've never seen or encountered in person before. I've learned these things, just as a character with many ranks in Culture has learned a lot about many different cultures.


This reminds me of the Rise of the Runelords, where the DCs for some knowledge checks were very high since nobody knew the answers (which would generally be learned in play).

But the checks could be tried. Yes, it was lost knowledge, but still somebody could extrapolate an answer if they were genius enough & lucky enough. Essentially they're putting lots of vague, unconnected pieces together. This also leaves it accessible to PCs using magic or other unrealistic knowledge boosts which would bypass obstacles. So there needs to be a DC for those, even if super high. If such Knowledge check boosts come into SF, saying "Never" feels a bit overboard. Heck, meeting new aliens might be normalized by now with advanced methodology, which of course would fall under the Culture skill.

And in later adventures/APs, the DCs for the same data dropped by a lot, representing that the original adventurers had opened up the knowledge to the greater world.

Also, I've run through a cultural experiment as a visitor to a fictional culture. It wasn't alien of course, but it was unique, even somewhat bizarre because the point was to make analyzing difficult. My partner and I had to piece together what we could, none of which would be a matter of remembering. Somebody with a broad cultural knowledge base would fare much better than somebody without in a way Sense Motive & Diplomacy (et al) wouldn't cover.
(There was no prime directive either, and I tried to instigate a revolution so that males could stand fully upright. Sorry, Federation.)


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Why would you ever be without the nets' info? Your ship downloads an offline copy of it whenever it can. And we all know that the baseline assumption in Starfinder is that every party has a ship.


You're forgetting how weird and non-rules-following ghost's GM is. I think the baseline for that game is all the player's tech is basically a cardboard box with what it's supposed to be written on the side in marker, like a Calvin and Hobbes comic.


Ravingdork wrote:
Why would you ever be without the nets' info? Your ship downloads an offline copy of it whenever it can. And we all know that the baseline assumption in Starfinder is that every party has a ship.

That actually brings up the question of how big the storage on a ship is vs. how big downloading the internet of a dozen+ worlds is.

Even cutting out the porn there's got to be a lot of data.


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...why would you cut out the porn? Did someone tell you to cut out the porn? Stop it.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

The real elephant in the room on this discussion is library chips, which were, for some reason, written to have an effectively infinite smount of contained knowledge while still being cheaper than the data modules that would be used to contain narrower downloaded data sets.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I love me some library chips.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I really would have preferred for them to be subject specific, so that every character didn't have the same ones, because they're so good that it just doesn't even make sense to not have a full set as soon as you can afford them.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yeah, put me in the "if its so weird and unknown that you can't make a skill check with your Culture skill, its so weird and unknown that having internet access won't help either" column. Which, I should note, I would only expect to happen in the *very* weirdest of cases. Going by genre, nine times out of ten? A newly encountered civilization is at least *somewhat* like a bunch of known civilizations.


This is something where your culture skill helps but your internet access or downloaded dataset doesn't.

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