Wafer Jacks and Learning

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
So let me open Pandora's Shipping Crate and ask a question...
Many of us have read 'Agent of the Imperium' and it's extensive use of wafer jack technology. Now, IMTU, I limit the use of wafer jacks to cerebral skills. My reasoning for this is simple: some skills require physical mastery and fitness. No matter how many levels of Survival skill you may have, if you're a fat bureaucrat [I plead the fifth, yer honner.... 😆], you have to have a body hardened against extreme conditions and willpower to expend the energy to do what is necessary to survive. Another example, you can wafer jack Melee [Unarmed] 4 all you like, but the aforementioned fat bureaucrat isn't gonna be able to roundhouse kick anyone because his body is simply not capable of the effort. It's the difference between know WHAT to do and being ABLE to do it.

But could learning happen under the influence of a wafer jack?
For example: an IISS Scout with a wafer jack knows about piloting, but nothing about Engineering. But he also knows that his Detached Duty Type S requires maintenance and wisely invests wafers for Engineering and Mechanic. This scout uses these wafers regularly to maintain his ship... at least 3 or 4 times a week for maintenance tasks, troubleshooting, etc. Would this scout, over a period of years, eventually learn some of these skills sheer repetition?
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
My suggestion: Allow the use of the wafer jack to count into the 8 hour study periods.
Additional study would imprint the reasons the computer was telling you to do this or that.
I might go as far as counting the eventual roll as using a tutor, however, perhaps not, since you would be missing out on making some rookie mistakes and learning the hard way.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
Not a bad suggestion.
Something that occurs to me as I mull this over... One specific and very important thing that wafer jacks don't do is impart THEORY into the knowledge. Or perhaps doesn't establish the connection between theory and practice, especially in the soft sciences where the math doesn't solve it. There's a difference between 'the theory of electrical resistance and the need for a transistor' and 'this culture abandoned this social construct because of that event in their history'.
I wonder if wafer jacks were a Vilani invention... they impart technical how-to knowledge without encouraging dangerous curiosity. Seems plausible anyway.
 

Gavain

Mongoose
You need a wafer jack and neural link to get access to physical skills. I guess the neural wiring can overcome the issues of not being trained. Though I would be tempted to give some after effects, exhaustion etc.
I love the idea of auto learning from the wafer jack.
 

MyndkryM

Banded Mongoose
I think one of the questions you need to ask is what is the risk verses the reward?

Travellers gain skills during character creation and have to make survival rolls. There is a risk of failing that roll and being ejected from that service and what ever mishap you roll. Your players are making a choice to risk it to get better. Even the post-career training rules can result in wasted time with no improvement.

The idea you using a wafer jack to augment training is interesting, but what is the risk involved in going that route?

Personally...I'm a bit suspect about it as it seems a little too E-Z mode. What is the challenge your player is overcoming? Wafer Jacks are a convenient way to get access to skills, that also result in the characters risking more difficult medical treatments should they become injured. To me, that in itself is the risk vs. reward.
 

ottarrus

Cosmic Mongoose
I think one of the questions you need to ask is what is the risk verses the reward?

Travellers gain skills during character creation and have to make survival rolls. There is a risk of failing that roll and being ejected from that service and what ever mishap you roll. Your players are making a choice to risk it to get better. Even the post-career training rules can result in wasted time with no improvement.

The idea you using a wafer jack to augment training is interesting, but what is the risk involved in going that route?

Personally...I'm a bit suspect about it as it seems a little too E-Z mode. What is the challenge your player is overcoming? Wafer Jacks are a convenient way to get access to skills, that also result in the characters risking more difficult medical treatments should they become injured. To me, that in itself is the risk vs. reward.
'EZ Mode' is precisely what I want to avoid, and yet pose the eternal sci-fi question, 'What is the effect of this technology on humanity?'
There is a logic to Traveller technology, just as there a logic to Star Trek technology. Just as [IMHO] there isn't any logic to Star War technology. In the first two examples, Traveller and Star Trek, the writers make a serious attempt to a] have a logical premise for the 'whizz bang box', and b] build on that logical premise as technologies are introduced.
So here we have a basic technology that allows knowledge to temporarily present in a character's mind. And my question is, 'After repeated use of the same skill wafer, does any of that knowledge remain as rote learning?'

Now, I expect that when the updated CSC 22 comes out the wafer jacks discussed therein will have some kind of risk involved. This will be along the line of the same warnings as taking ibuprofen [WARNING: Taking too much will burn your liver out!] or other low dosage = low risk drugs. There's always been a risk in taking Combat Drug and a couple of bad dice rolls can see you losing permanent statistics, and I think wafer jacks will be much like that.
 

MyndkryM

Banded Mongoose
I guess my handwavium answer to a PC who ask "Why can't I learn from using Wafer Jacks?", would be that studying and training builds the neurological pathways in the brain and in turn becomes a "hardwired skill". Where as using a Wafer Jack doesn't do that. The brain doesn't need to build those pathways because it's being provided via augmentation.

If I want to get stronger I need to exercise by doing push-ups, but if I'm routinely using a mechanical device to do those push-ups...my body will never trigger the chemicals and hormones that build muscle.

Now.....I see this as a neat plot point for an adventure. What would a society be like that relied MORE on using Wafer Jacks rather than actual investing in schools? The Travellers go to a high-tech world and encounter a situation where the Wafer Jack supply has become corrupted. What does that mean to those on that world that are in charge? Does this result in a dynamic shift in that worlds social structure?

This does fall in line with your "What is the effect of this technology on humanity?" question.
 

Saladman

Banded Mongoose
...could learning happen under the influence of a wafer jack?

Sure. Although in my game there'd be no other benefit to going that route, no short cut or time off the normal mechanics of learning a new skill, but a wafer jack could certainly justify learning a skill.

Although MindkryM makes a good point too. The user experience with a wafer jack may be more "do this now trust me" than "do this for these reasons, and let's take longer doing the task to explain." I suppose you'd build up some memory of what the right actions had been in the past, but wouldn't necessarily be able to deal with new situations.

You can even imagine a skill boost program that's gamified, like a VR-overlay Pokemon experience minus the glasses, just running inside your own head. But is playing 12 hours of a point reward game of Steward-1 on The Planet of the Boomers every day of your life really a good thing, or is it a living hell?
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
You can even imagine a skill boost program that's gamified, like a VR-overlay Pokemon experience minus the glasses, just running inside your own head. But is playing 12 hours of a point reward game of Steward-1 on The Planet of the Boomers every day of your life really a good thing, or is it a living hell?
That's what I pictured the life of a drone in Sid Meyer's Alpha Centauri to be like. They think they are playing a game, but are actually doing manual labor with their own movements conforming to game moves. Their pain centers are numbed unless they make a mistake.
My current campaign has the travellers going around trying to save people turned into temporary meat puppets using a hybrid wafer jack chip and spinal cord repair gear. The spinal cord has three gates. One to autonomic functions that is always on, one to higher brain function and muscle control, and one to the jack part which is a miniaturized slave unit for a remote robot brain. The latter two switch between one and the other when not needed or when a supervisor or the system detects disobedience.
 
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