Telegraphy in Upsidaisium
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
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
Wireless telegraphs have the following statistics:
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