Telegraphy in Upsidaisium

Telegraphy is normally a Mental/Easy skill. When taking it, it is necessary to specialize in the code your character knows (this specialization does not grant a bonus to the skill).

Morse Code was the first standard code to be used. As of 1890, it's used in the Americas and Europe. The Dowden Protocol is used in parts of Europe and its colonies (India, Africa); it's different from Morse Code in that it uses combinations of dits-and-dahs to represent sounds, not letters. Analytical engines designed to translate speech to code would probably use this system. Its also useful for sending words in very foreign languages (e.g. Swahili). Sta.P.T. (Standardized Phrase Transmission) is used in many Asian countries where pictographs are used in the written language. Though it often requires a code book for more complex thoughts, it's actually quite a bit more efficient than the other codes. StaPT, of course, uses simple sequences to represent whole words or even phrases.

Maximum wpm has been upped from 25 wpm to 40 since telegraph use is so widespread (perhaps 1 in 3 literate people can code at 10 wpm or higher). Likewise, the standard is 3 wpm per point of skill instead of 2.

In GURPS terms, someone who is using StaPT can cram in an extra 2 words-per-minute per point of skill for simple ideas (to a maximum of 80, rather than 40 wpm). It takes longer to send names of people/places (add 2 minutes and a skill check at -2 if uncommon names are involved; names of countries, some species, etc. are likely to have their own codes). Complex ideas will reduce wpm to a maximum of 5-20 (GM's judgment). Clever players may come up with roundabout ways of communicating names and complex messages involving simple words.

Wireless telegraphy has different mechanics than those listed on STM96. In Upsidaisium, the wireless telegraph is TL5+1 (this doesn't affect Telegraph wpm limits). Essentially, they function as slow, heavy cellular phones. Central manned (or Babbage-engine managed) switchboards connect telegraphers; this adds 1 minute to the time required for establishing contact. The cost for this service is $1.30 per month.

Two telegraphs can also be switched to the same non-standard frequency so that they function like walkie-talkies. As anyone within range can listen in with the proper equipment, characters that want their communications to stay private should probably employ Cryptography (CI156).

Wireless telegraphs have the following statistics:

Weight Cost Range
4 lbs. $25 (£5) 1 mile
15 lbs. $45 (£9) 4 miles
35 lbs. $150 (£30) 10 miles

Range indicates how far a telegraph may be from a transceiver and still send/receive properly. A series of dials on the underside of the unit control frequency. The range of any unit may be increased by up to 75%, but lasts only 1d minutes, uses up 40 kWs on a CEB (Clockwork Energy Bank), requires an Engineer (Electrical) -3 roll, and has a 25% chance (8 or less on 3d) of damaging both the key and the CEB (roll for each separately; a critical failure may mean injury to the user via a popped spring or sudden spark-gap malfunction).

Wireless keys require a small amount of constant power; about 0.008 kW. This means that a ½ lb. clockwork energy bank would run the telegraph for about 1 hour and 22 minutes. Of course, if a person doesn't wish to be able to receive messages, the key may be allowed to go dead (and draw no power).

Wireless keys are usually about 9 inches long, 5 inches wide, and 3 inches thick. A CEB can be socketed into one side. (CEB weight is not incorporated into the key's statistics.) The keys are usually worn on straps looped over the shoulder or across the chest. A small bell signals when there is an incoming message (three short dings) or when the energy bank is nearly exhausted (1 ding every ten seconds for the last 3 minutes of operating time).

Additional battery sockets may be added for $2.00 (8s.) per. (A key with 8 sockets could run for 11 hours without winding, but would weigh an additional 8 lbs., cost an additional $14.50 (£2 18s.), and require 24 minutes of winding.)

"It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers." — James Thurber