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Surprise Attacks in Space
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:50 am    Post subject: Surprise Attacks in Space Reply with quote

I'm working on re-stating and re-organizing the ordnance information in my Advanced Starfighter Combat project. As part of the re-do, I'm remaking Concussion Missiles into Passive Guidance weapons, much like modern heat-seekers or anti-radiation missiles. Part of the advantage for this is that the missile will have a greatly reduced signature, and thus be harder to detect when it is launched and in-flight. Which makes it a great ambush weapon. However, I'm struggling with how to arrange surprise attacks in space. I have a vague idea of basing it on Sensors, with normal weapons' fire being something that is automatically detected on Passive Sensors, and stealthier weapons (like the Concussion Missiles, but also mass-driver cannon) requiring an actual Sensors roll to detect it.

I guess my biggest question is, what skill should it be based on? I know Perception is the default for Initiative, but in space, shouldn't Sensors be a better fit?
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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Dredwulf60
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think sensors would be a better fit for picking out an object against the background of a starfield; specially if you don't know it's coming and from what arc. The MkI eyeball has a lot of uses, but I doubt that would be the best one.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sensors.. ACTIVE though, not passive..
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Raven Redstar
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 4:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say that passive sensors would pick up the missile, but it'd be so close that they would suffer a large penalty to their dodge roll, like a -16 penalty.

Active sensor arcs generally suck for field of "vision", which is why I'd allow passive sensors to pick up the missile as a last ditch effort to try and avoid being shot down. Unlike Gar, I don't like sneak attacking my players and killing them instantly.

I'd also allow for a near detonation to cause some damage to a ship in space.
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CRMcNeill
Director of Engineering
Director of Engineering


Joined: 05 Apr 2010
Posts: 11447
Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dredwulf60 wrote:
I think sensors would be a better fit for picking out an object against the background of a starfield; specially if you don't know it's coming and from what arc. The MkI eyeball has a lot of uses, but I doubt that would be the best one.

That would seem rather obvious, and yet right from the first, visual scanning is mentioned as a factor in starfighter combat ("Pick up your visual scanning!") When I wrote up the ASC system, I included rules for visual scanning by allowing characters to combine their Perception with Passive Sensors, with the explanation that the Sensors included a telescopic holo-cam system that allowed pilots to see much greater distances than the naked eye would normally allow. The F-14 Tomcat was equipped with a similar system for ID'ing targets at long range.
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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CRMcNeill
Director of Engineering
Director of Engineering


Joined: 05 Apr 2010
Posts: 11447
Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
Sensors.. ACTIVE though, not passive..

See, this makes no sense to me. We have automatic sensors in service right now (that have been in service in one form or another since the '60's and '70's) that rely heavily on passive sensing, whether it is the Radar Warning Receivers on jet aircraft, heat-sensitive optics on Sidewinder and Maverick missiles, or even the Black Crow system installed on early AC-130s, allowing them to detect and target the EM signature from the ignition coils of trucks being used by the VC Army.

Even a completely inert object like a meteor is going to show up as movement against a static background as it passes between a ship and the stars behind it.

And anyway, the RAW for Passive sensors fails to take into account one of their biggest advantages, in that they can detect active sensors long before they enter the detection range of those sensors. A more accurate rule would be to allow a ship using Passive mode to detect Scan or Search mode sensors at a maximum range equal to their combined range (i.e. a ship with with a Scan Range of 100 could be detected at 150 by a ship with a Passive Range of 50).

Also, a big part of why I re-wrote so many of the vehicle stats to include Passive-only sensors - even for the civilian ones - was to give GMs a hand-wave excuse to explain how PCs "just know" when they are being shot at or targeted.

My current theory is that, for most weapons, it'll be either an Easy or Very Easy Sensors roll as a Free Action, much like if a GM simply declares "Roll Perception", but that stealthier weapons like Concussion Missiles or the Auto-Cannon would require a Moderate or Difficult roll...
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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CRMcNeill
Director of Engineering
Director of Engineering


Joined: 05 Apr 2010
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Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raven Redstar wrote:
I would say that passive sensors would pick up the missile, but it'd be so close that they would suffer a large penalty to their dodge roll, like a -16 penalty.

Active sensor arcs generally suck for field of "vision", which is why I'd allow passive sensors to pick up the missile as a last ditch effort to try and avoid being shot down. Unlike Gar, I don't like sneak attacking my players and killing them instantly.

I'd also allow for a near detonation to cause some damage to a ship in space.

The way I'm doing missiles, they don't do too much more damage than most laser cannon. Their main advantage will be their fire-and-forget capability, as well as their capacity to make follow-up attacks. The larger, slower WEG-style concussion missiles and proton torpedoes will be retained more as heavy rockets that are used to attack larger-Scale targets.

I'm wondering if -16 might be too much. After all, the missile is still going to have its drive going full blast, along with all the electronic components in the guidance system putting out tiny amounts of electronic noise. Maybe +10 Difficulty to Detect and Dodge, instead?
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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Raven Redstar
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm wondering if -16 might be too much. After all, the missile is still going to have its drive going full blast, along with all the electronic components in the guidance system putting out tiny amounts of electronic noise. Maybe +10 Difficulty to Detect and Dodge, instead?


Well, the +16 would be to dodge if they failed to detect it before it got within passive sensor range.

I do like where you're going with being able to detect being actively pinged with sensors, it seems to me that, like with modern sonar, a vehicle's sensors would at least sound off when a ship is scanned.
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CRMcNeill
Director of Engineering
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Joined: 05 Apr 2010
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Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At that point, if they failed to detect it, it'd probably just be simpler to treat it the same as any other surprise attack, with no chance to react. That'd make stealth fighters a particularly nasty option.

Maybe the best rule for something like this would be that these are weapons that can be used without breaking stealth, while others require going active and giving away your position...
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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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Dredwulf60
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Dredwulf60 wrote:
I think sensors would be a better fit for picking out an object against the background of a starfield; specially if you don't know it's coming and from what arc. The MkI eyeball has a lot of uses, but I doubt that would be the best one.

That would seem rather obvious, and yet right from the first, visual scanning is mentioned as a factor in starfighter combat ("Pick up your visual scanning!") When I wrote up the ASC system, I included rules for visual scanning by allowing characters to combine their Perception with Passive Sensors, with the explanation that the Sensors included a telescopic holo-cam system that allowed pilots to see much greater distances than the naked eye would normally allow. The F-14 Tomcat was equipped with a similar system for ID'ing targets at long range.


True, but in the movies we see starfighter dogfights occurring at FRIGHTFULLY close range. Perhaps in that case visual scanning is a lot more effective. Especially if you've got your sensors on active mode banging away in your front arc...it might be prudent to take a glance out the canopy from time to time for those ships coming in from a flank.
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CRMcNeill
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Joined: 05 Apr 2010
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Location: Redding System, California Sector, on the I-5 Hyperspace Route.

PostPosted: Sun Jan 07, 2018 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dredwulf60 wrote:
True, but in the movies we see starfighter dogfights occurring at FRIGHTFULLY close range. Perhaps in that case visual scanning is a lot more effective. Especially if you've got your sensors on active mode banging away in your front arc...it might be prudent to take a glance out the canopy from time to time for those ships coming in from a flank.

Yes, but since WEG was deliberately vague as to the actual distance of an SU, we don't really have a way to place a hard limit on how far away a person can see unaided. Obviously, there must be a limit (unless you're JJ Abrams, in which case you can instantly see to the other side of the universe and back, apparently), but where? The simplest solution for me was to tie it into Passive Sensors, and say that the Passives includes wide- and narrow-angle Electro-Photo Receptors that allow for visual scanning.
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