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Infocastration: getting out of the mesh range

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zombiak zombiak's picture
Infocastration: getting out of the mesh range
Oh, you just KNEW that airlocking that Exsurgent wasn't a good idea. Now you're floating in space in your vacsuit, with plenty of oxygen, and even more time to reflect on your silly plan. You slowly float out of range, kilometer after kilometer; firstly, you notice problems with bandwith; streaming Momo von Satan suddenly gets quite tricky. Soon, you are only able to send text messages to your Firewall teammates, also floating somewhere around the orbit of Titan. Finally, there's nothing. No device connected to the mesh in 20km radius. You're on your own. ...or are you, really? After re-reading the Mesh section of the core rulebook, I'm wondering if it is actually possible to get out of mesh range, unless you are REALLY far away from a habitat/spaceship. I guess we can safely assume that all meshed devices act as nodes, so they can both send and receive data and re-route it to other devices. Mesh inserts and ectos have a maximum range of 20-50km outside urban areas (where mesh range poses no problems anyway), and it can be boosted up to 250km, which is quite a lot. I'm guessing that, say, a Martian Sufi nomad wandering the wastes around the Titan Quarantine Zone will be able to access a device, any kind of device, within the range of 250km. It doesn't have to be a data relay - it can be any device that has a range of 250km or more (shorter range would unable the device to transfer data back, which prevents using the mesh). It can be a drone flying a dozen kilometers over his head, re-routing his information another 250km out, encountering another device, etc. The question is: am I understanding it right? Does the attempt to access the mesh automatically *ping* for other devices in range, and if it finds one which is in the mesh range (or near another device which is in the mesh range etc.), then it also is available to access the mesh? And if so, are the Martian Sufis, rural Barsoomians etc. able to access the mesh freely? Second question is how limiting the access range would actually limit the players, and create interesting scenes. Obviously, the players would be unable to find floor plans, maps, research additional info etc., which should cripple them enough to make them more creative, especially if they got used to giving them everything on a silver plate. Still, there might be more creative uses. For example, I assume that automatic translation of both text and conversations is a standard feature, as long as you can access the mesh. The translation software uses statistical data from the mesh itself for semantic context, similar to Google Translate (but far more advanced); still, without an appropriate corpus to read from, it is unable to translate anything. I think it would create an interesting role-playing opportunity for the players - encountering French-speaking nomads in the Martian outback without automatic translation would finally let the player with French knowledge skill (or skillware) to shine, I guess. Or maybe one of the players speaks Polish...and only that, and they REALLY need to tell the rest of the group that there are exsurgents out there. So, how do you treat the matter of getting out of the mesh range? Any creative uses for that?
nerdnumber1 nerdnumber1's picture
Most inhabited planets are
Most inhabited planets are fairly well covered by the mesh, or at least have local mesh neworks set up where-ever there is a group that WANTS mesh access. Where there aren't, it isn't that hard to set up relays and the like or set up a small local network (as you find on ships or gate-crasher camps). There are some noteable blindspots, however. Under Europa, mesh ranges are fairly limited because of the water, so you don't have to go far for a blind-spot. The Martian White-Zone will also have limited mesh access, by design. If you go any distance underground when far from civilization, you will quickly find that your normal mesh inserts aren't powerful enough. If you are traveling between planets, then you will be restricted to ship-mesh until for the duration. Gate-crashers also have to deal with an ad-hoc local mesh, which may not be very extensive or reliable. The most common reason for lost mesh access in a Firewall-centered game is the classic "we can't trust the mesh, it has exsurgents or TITANS or dragons" setup. In such a setup, the mesh is easily accessible and the GM often suggest that using it could be a great help, while smiling evilly.