At the start of my first ever Monsterhearts one-shot (which went for about ten sessions in the end) I had to answer a few questions about when it was set. My answer: the computers are beige boxes, and mobile phones are rare and exciting.
It’s the second one that I’ve been given more thinking to as I try and get Finders Keepers In Space closer to seeing the light of day. During the Monsterhearts “one-shot” the popular rich kid having a mobile phone was a pretty big deal. They could contact anybody at their home, on the go, and theoretically summon the authorities or an ambulance if required. A powerful tool! Especially since I’m much more used to gritty low-fantasy (as were the players) it was a nice way to show how technology could be a big boon, without over-flowing. If everyone had a phone however, I get a feeling that there would be no “space” to play around in, no separation between who knew what was going on and who didn’t.
Considering a generic sci-fi setting, the question is, does everyone have a comm-pad that can instantly access a datasphere spanning a whole solar system? Is it limited to a single planet? A single station? Can you purchase FTL “calls”? I’m not sure.
One facet of Finders Keepers is all about having as few assumptions that the players can trip up on or not. If everyone is assumed to have a phone, then that will be going on their equipment list. If only some people will, then I’ll be throwing together a dozen different sorts of communication device and chuck that in the “standard equipment” list. I’ve got a few bits of specialised communication gear going on the “hi-tech” list, like relays, scanners, jammers and encrypted communicators. But the question is: should everyone have a phone?