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-   -   Cell/Smart phones & Tablets in Twilight? Don't laugh... (http://forum.juhlin.com/showthread.php?t=6032)

TyCaine 01-03-2020 09:41 AM

Cell/Smart phones & Tablets in Twilight? Don't laugh...
Quick question, and probably sounds silly, but do any of you allow cell or smart phones in your Twilight games which are set later than 2000?

What I'm asking is not a fully functional smart phone, or tablet for that matter, obviously networks would be down, carriers would not be providing service, but...and it's a big but...what if the phone was off when the EMPs happened? It would still work... Right?

I mean, obviously with limited functionality, but if they could keep them charged it would provide some useful offline apps (any requiring a connection would be hosed) and perhaps a little entertainment? Calculators would be useful, a downloaded Survival manual, chess, perhaps an offline language tutor, etc, etc...

Just a thought, as I'm looking at moving the timing of my game to Twilight 2018, so most of the worst of it didn't start until, what, 2010 ish?

Smart phones in their infancy started appearing around 1992-1995, so this idea would not be viable for Twilight 2000 as things were already in an uproar by then, but it would certainly be possible for instances where everything started to fall apart 10-15 years later...

As I said, not fully functional, this is merely as a side interest, something we could assume was being utilized in downtime, but one of my players mentioned it, and it got me thinking...

What do you think?


pmulcahy11b 01-03-2020 12:02 PM

It doesn't sound silly - they'd be a good storage device for manuals and books and pictures you took while off reconning an area -- but as to whether they would work -- it depends on where they were when the nearest bomb went off. I'd say that military and possibly police phones might be working. Those still in their shipping containers and antistatic bags might survive intact. Of course, phone calls are out of the question for at least 10 years or so, and these would be on local networks at the most for quite a while. And do take notice of the italics up there.

TyCaine 01-03-2020 01:08 PM

And I can imagine the more knowledgeable / experienced people taking advantage of downloading everything they can think of as things get ready to break down completely. Certainly any 'preppers' or like minded individuals.

Medical manuals, survival manuals, and so on and so forth.

Music...of course...

I'm leaning towards letting my group have them but giving maybe just a 4 in 10 chance of their personal device (I'll let them roll twice, once for a smart phone, once for a tablet) still being intact and working.

Click them on 'Airplane Mode', make sure to turn off wifi and bluetooth (no need to advertise your position by the device searching for local signals) if not already, delete any apps that require a connection (would probably remove over half) and boom... Hope you bought a charger with you...though most people do...

Yeah, I can see them being around, not as prolific certainly, and not as useful either, but still with a place...if only as MP3 players and electronic books...at least until the internal batteries give out completely...

swaghauler 01-03-2020 03:45 PM


Originally Posted by TyCaine (Post 82649)
Quick question, and probably sounds silly, but do any of you allow cell or smart phones in your Twilight games which are set later than 2000?


I run a MERC campaign set in Africa so both Cell phones and Smartphones are allowed. My guys use the African version of Tracphones because they get damaged easily (usually by submersion in water) and your position can be triangulated by using them. They are the ultimate recon and spy tool though...

Audio Recorders/bugs
camera and video recorder
GPS or Compass
Commo including group chats
data transfer/texting (clandestine commo)
internet searches and information recall
access to maps and phonebooks
detonators (with the appropriate Electronics skill)

What you would allow would be based on how late into the 2000's you go.

Cellular phones without any form of internet access would be fairly common around 2000. The reception would be spotty in most cases.

Internet-capable flip phones would be available AFTER 2000.

The Smartphone (and most tablets) didn't exist until 2010.

This means that nobody is downloading any files before 2010 unless they have a laptop. I saw laptops in military service during the First Gulf War (they were called Toughbooks) and they were HEAVY. They were also scarce being used by fire direction and commo guys. Laptops were more common in the first decade of the 21st Century.

copeab 01-03-2020 04:35 PM


Originally Posted by swaghauler (Post 82652)
The Smartphone (and most tablets) didn't exist until 2010.

An alternative to tablets earlier are PDAs. I bought a Palm m105 back in 2002 and I think it had been out for a couple of years. On the downside, only had 8MB of non-upgradable memory, but on the upside, ran about a month on two AAA batteries. Oh, and it still works, although the capacitor that held a charge long enough to swap batteries burned out after a couple years, resulting in a complete loss of user data when new batteries were put in. Does have an IR port that might allow you to transfer data from one PDA to another.

StainlessSteelCynic 01-03-2020 10:29 PM

There's a very good possibility that mobile/cell phones and tablets would survive high yield EMP blasts with two caveats -
1. they'd need to be in buildings with metal frames or concrete (which typically has a frame of metal reinforcing through it) but isolated from contact with the building itself
2. they could not be connected to the electrical grid i.e. using their charger, connected to a computer etc. etc.

The following pages are useful as a start point regarding EMP: -

I found this quite interesting even though the EMP generator being used is not particularly powerful. You could probably safely assume that given decent protection from low level EMP, mobile devices (including handheld electronic games) would still be usable in some capacity.

This video is more informative and the EMP source is more powerful than that used in the video above.
The author tests a variety of phones so as to cover the different generations i.e 1G up to 4G but again, given even "decent" protection, 1990s to 2000s era electronics would be usable in some capacity after an EMP attack. Electronics from around 2010 onward also have a decent chance of being usable depending on the device, for example newer Samsung phones are well shielded because they use EM sources to recharge and don't want the recharging process to mess up the phones electronics.

It's also worth mentioning that modern aircraft (i.e. those that use electronic systems) are actually pretty good at surviving EMP because they have to be shielded from direct contact by lightning strikes. So electronic devices in aircraft have a very good chance of surviving - I mention this because it makes aircraft a potential source of more than just AvGas, metal parts and passenger seats!
According to tests done by an American commission on EMP, cars built before 2002 have a very strong likelihood of surviving EMP as do any devices inside them (as long as they aren't connected to any wiring or in contact with metal surfaces). So like aircraft, vehicles are a potential source of more than just fuel and metal parts.

Silent Hunter UK 01-04-2020 12:48 AM

1980s/1990s "bricks" could be a feature... certainly make good hand weapons.

Legbreaker 01-04-2020 12:59 AM


Originally Posted by Silent Hunter UK (Post 82657)
1980s/1990s "bricks" could be a feature... certainly make good hand weapons.

If nothing else, a source of materials for reloading your brass...

bash 01-04-2020 01:13 AM

I've definitely allowed if not encouraged cell phones and PDAs post-2000 games. Besides the uses by characters for the things mentioned I think they make great MacGuffins in adventures. A phone, PDA, or flash drive might be the target for the first episode of the adventure. Then it's get to a working computer/whatever to download the data, then it's get the data to a patron/handler to get rewarded. They're small and fairly rugged so they can survive an action filled exfiltration by the PCs but can have enough storage to contain a lot of interesting intelligence.

Legbreaker 01-04-2020 02:58 AM

Back when phones were first able to store data, they were a fairly good way of conducting a little data, ah, "liberation". I may or may not have shifted the entire database of one business to another using just a Nokia flip phone...

rcaf_777 01-21-2020 01:24 PM

A few thoughts

The Interactive Pager, introduced in 1996 by Research In Motion (RIM), allowed users to receive and send messages over the internet via a wireless data network known The Interactive Pager was also known as the RIM-900.

The first commercial camera phone was the Kyocera Visual Phone VP-210, released in Japan in May 1999

If you talking PDAs there are a few out on market in 90s, they would be

The IBM Simon Personal Communicator (simply known as IBM Simon) is a handheld, touchscreen PDA designed by International Business Machines (IBM), It was distributed as the Simon Personal Communicator in the United States between August 1994 and February 1995, selling 50,000 units. The Simon Personal Communicator was the first personal digital assistant or PDA to include telephony features.

The Psion Organiser was the brand name of a range of pocket computers developed by the British company Psion in the 1980s.The Organiser I launched in 1984 and the Organiser II launched in 1986. Both had a hard plastic sliding cover protecting a 66 keyboard with letters arranged alphabetically. The Organiser II competed with personal organiser wallets and can be considered the first usable Electronic organizer, or Personal digital assistant (PDA) in that it combined an electronic diary and searchable address database in a small, portable device.

The Psion MC 400 was a laptop made by Psion PLC and was released in 1989. The main power is provided by eight AA batteries. Alternatively, the device may be powered by an external 12V power source.

The MC 400 was of the same generation as the Psion 3 series but it has a larger size screen. The MC 400 could be programmed using OPL much like the Series 3. Unlike the Series 3, the MC 400 has 4 bays for removable solid-state disk drives compared to 2 on Series 3 devices. The serial port also provides PC connectivity if used with the separately available PsiWin software using the lead designed for the Series 3 or 3A.

The Newton is a series of personal digital assistants (PDA) developed and marketed by Apple Computer, Inc. An early device in the PDA category the Newton originated the term "personal digital assistant" it was the first to feature handwriting recognition. Apple started developing the platform in 1987 and shipped the first devices in 1993. Production officially ended on February 27, 1998.

The MessagePad is the first series of personal digital assistant devices developed by Apple Computer for the Newton platform in 1993. Some electronic engineering and the manufacture of Apple's MessagePad devices was undertaken in Japan by the Sharp Corporation. The devices were based on the ARM 610 RISC processor and all featured handwriting recognition software and were developed and marketed by Apple.

The eMate 300 is a personal digital assistant designed, manufactured and sold by Apple Computer to the education market as a low-cost laptop running the Newton operating system. It was the only Newton Device with a built-in keyboard. The eMate was introduced March 7, 1997 and was discontinued along with the Apple Newton product line and its operating system on February 27, 1998

The Nokia 9000 Communicator was the first product in Nokia's Communicator series, announced at CeBIT 1996 and introduced into the market on 15 August 1996. The phone was large and heavy at 397 grams (14.0 oz) but powerful at the time. It is powered by an Intel 24 MHz i386 CPU and has 8 MB of memory, which is divided between applications (4 MB), program memory (2 MB) and user data (2 MB). The operating system is PEN/GEOS 3.0. The Communicator is one of the earliest smartphones on the market, after the IBM Simon in 1994 and the HP OmniGo 700LX, a DOS-based palmtop PC with integrated cradle for the Nokia 2110 cellular phone, announced in late 1995 and shipped in March 1996

The Pilot 1000 and Pilot 5000 were the first generations of PDAs produced by Palm Computing (then a subsidiary of U.S. Robotics). It was introduced in March 1996. The Pilot uses a Motorola 68328 processor at 16 MHz, and had 128 kB (Pilot 1000) or 512 kB (Pilot 5000) built in Random-access memory. Underneath the screen sits a green on/off button, four applications buttons (Date Book, Address Book, To Do List, and Memo Pad) and two scroll buttons. At left, contrast control. At right top, stylus slot. On the back of the device there is a Memory Slot door, Reset button, battery compartment (held two AAA batteries) and Serial Port (for use with the PalmPilot Cradle).

swaghauler 01-21-2020 07:15 PM

Skill Modifiers?
I like the idea of YouTube videos, manuals, and "Expert Systems" which walk you through doing something having a "Mechanical Bonus" during play.

I allow a Manual, Video, or Diagram to give a +1 on a task roll involving a PHYSICAL SKILL (like shooting, flying, or driving) where doing the skill requires practice or repetitive training.

On skills that are "Informational" by nature (understanding basic language phrases, diagnosing symptoms, or how to operate a radio), I allow a LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY SHIFT, provided the task isn't TOO complex.

This assumes the manual user has the time to thoroughly read or watch the video and can reference the material as they are doing the task in question (my player's medic loves his Physician's Desk Reference of Diseases manual).

How do you handle so-called "tutorials" during play?

rcaf_777 01-22-2020 11:33 AM

An interesting option using pagers


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