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How are tricorders used in STA?

I’ve dug through the rules many times. Maybe I’m dense, but just how are tricorders (and other tools & equipment) used in the game? In other rpgs, I’m accustomed to giving the user a bonus when using a tool. My medic is going to use her medical tricorder to examine the monster of the week. But I can’t tell what benefit the tricorder will add to her efforts.

Thanks for your help!

– Guy

I would say that it gives her the ability to gain the information in first place… :wink:


I’m more versed in Conan than STA, but I would say either:
A) the player can’t make the skill check without the tricorder, or
B) the tricorder makes the skill check easier (compared to someone just using plain eyesight and hands), or
C) the tricorder grants a free, zero momentum spend for Gather Information.

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A and B. C would be based upon a talent.


Those two. If you’re searching for something that you can’t detect with the naked eye, then using a tricorder allows you to attempt the test in the first place. If you’re searching for things you could find without any tools, then the tricorder makes it easier by reducing the difficulty.


Thanks, everybody! Your explanations make a lot of sense. I guess I’m still getting used to the rules. There’s a few things that are left up to the GM’s decision, like this, that make the game go more quickly.

Would I be right in saying it basically confers an appropriate Advantage per the usual rules?

Yes, but more appropriately as Trait. According to the core book, all pieces of equipment are Traits.

It’s worth remembering that Traits can confer the effects of both an Advantage and/or Complication as indicated by the situation; I recently had an away team sneaking about on a station full of pirates, and I decided that a tricorder’s sensor emissions would be potentially detectable and would increase the possibility of discovery.

cou;dn’t they have just turned the tricorder OFF?

if you are not going to use it why even carry it?

I mean, the complication would only have applied if they actively decided to scan for something…

if you are not going to use it why even carry it?

Because it’s standard issue? There may well be a scenario (read: almost certainly will be) a scenario where they have to weigh up the risk of using the tricorder vs the reward of obtaining useful information. Also once they’ve blown their cover some other way (almost an inevitability with this group!) there’s an encounter that would be much harder if they weren’t able to use a tricorder. “A complication may apply” doesn’t mean “you can’t use this”. There’s a risk of detection, not a straight-up certainty.

Since its standard issue, I see it like an invisible trait that you are assumed to have unless stated otherwise. Without a tricorder, you can’t do most things without comming up with some other tool, like O’Brien creating a compass the old fashioned way while on that planet with the anarcho-primitivist cult who had a technology suppression field.

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