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It's a Trap! Sensor Jamming Question
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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:03 am    Post subject: It's a Trap! Sensor Jamming Question Reply with quote

Hi all!

I'm putting together an adventure which will see the entire sector fleet for the Rebels subjected to a trap not dissimilar to the one we see with the Death Star II attack in RotJ.

The main question I have relates to that scene: the Rebels can't get any readings because they've been jammed, but on board the Mon Calamari ship, they pick up readings of enemy ships behind them. How is this possible? Has someone on board that ship picked up a visual of the Star Destroyers behind them (unlikely) or do they have more powerful sensors than the likes of the Falcon? In which case, isn't the Empire's jamming slightly redundant?

I do want them to have that same "how can they be jamming us if they don't know we're coming" moment in my game, but I'm wondering how, without doing a 180 turn on their ships, they'd detect enemy ships behind them...

If anyone is interested, I can set out the detail of the situation on this thread in greater detail!
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MrNexx
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is entirely a layman's opinion.

To get a reading on the Death Star, the Rebels send out sensor waves. To jam them, the Death Star sends out counter-waves... ECM. However, those counter-waves only jam in the direction of the Death Star... they prevent the sensor waves from reaching the Death Star, and make sure that they return garbage noise. An analogy would be being in a dark room and turning on your flashlight to look in front of you... only for the place you're looking at to turn on flood lights. You can't see ANYTHING of the place your beam was going... there's too much overwhelming you.

But, if you look backwards, that light can help illuminate things behind you. You can shine your flashlight in the places it isn't an illuminate them better. You still don't know what's going on in front of you (towards the flood lights), but you can see things behind you OK, both because of the flood lights and because of your own efforts.
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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Layman's or not, it's sound theory and makes perfect sense! I'm not sure why, but I'd always assumed that it was the Star Destroyers rather than the Death Star that was jamming them!

In my own scenario, the equivalent target of DSII, three Raiders and a refuelling station, have reason to want to jam because there's 5 Lambdas in close proximity running silent because they want the Rebels' capital ship to come in close. If they do the Lambdas will attempt to land in the docking bay and 100 veteran Stormtroopers (from the 501st) can board their vessel and take control. The pursuing Star Destroyers (one Imperial class and an Interdictor) behind the Rebels (and TIE swarms prevent fleeing on the flanks) would not care if the Rebels were aware of them so wouldn't bother with jamming.

Thanks Mr Nexx!
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2020 11:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So how's about the ships jamming, are the ones NOT wanting to be 'hidden, till the trap's sprung"..
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Grimace
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I kind of always went with the idea that it was a matter of how much power the representative things were using for the task.

The fighters have power into sensors, but the power being used to jam them is GREATER than the power of the starfighter sensors. The Mon Cal ship, however, may have been initially taken by surprise, but as they put more power into sensors, they were able to "burn through" the interference and then detected the Imperial ships. Fighters just don't have the power to shunt into sensors to burn through the interference. Once the battle has begun, the interference is dropped because the trap is already sprung.
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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
So how's about the ships jamming, are the ones NOT wanting to be 'hidden, till the trap's sprung"..


I definitely want them to be aware of the Star Destroyers behind them. The Interdictor in particular they will have to hit because it is going to be preventing their escape.

The main choice I want them to have is whether to stay on mission, hitting the Raiders before circling back to deal with the Interdictor, or if their focus will be to get out of there as quickly as possible, hitting the Interdictor and then jumping to hyperspace.
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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 10:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grimace wrote:
I kind of always went with the idea that it was a matter of how much power the representative things were using for the task.

The fighters have power into sensors, but the power being used to jam them is GREATER than the power of the starfighter sensors. The Mon Cal ship, however, may have been initially taken by surprise, but as they put more power into sensors, they were able to "burn through" the interference and then detected the Imperial ships. Fighters just don't have the power to shunt into sensors to burn through the interference. Once the battle has begun, the interference is dropped because the trap is already sprung.


This also works well, but I'm probably minded to go with MrNexx's suggestion as it means the players will be the ones discovering the Star Destroyers rather than a NPC on their capital ship.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There’s a couple possibilities here.

The first is what’s known as Active Stealth, where a craft attempting to avoid active sensors broadcasts signals on an exactly opposed wavelength, thus canceling the original signal out. In the case of the Endor Shield, I would suggest that the Death Star itself was projecting the emission-canceling effect, likely with fine-tuning provided in advance by the Imperial Fleet before they hid behind Endor.

The other would be to allow ships to jam in deception mode, where a “lite” version uses active emissions to disguise the jamming ship as something else, by adding additional emissions or using the above “active stealth” method to cancel others out.

Of the two, the former application will be several orders of magnitude more difficult, both in complexity and power consumption, but considering the circumstances and resources available, the Empire likely wasn’t concerned with cost.

From what you’re describing, I’d suggest allowing most military ships to deceive sensors instead of only blocking them outright. That way, your Interdictor could be deliberately operating in stealth mode as part of an ambush.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Grimace wrote:
I kind of always went with the idea that it was a matter of how much power the representative things were using for the task.

The fighters have power into sensors, but the power being used to jam them is GREATER than the power of the starfighter sensors. The Mon Cal ship, however, may have been initially taken by surprise, but as they put more power into sensors, they were able to "burn through" the interference and then detected the Imperial ships. Fighters just don't have the power to shunt into sensors to burn through the interference. Once the battle has begun, the interference is dropped because the trap is already sprung.


In communications jamming, that's how it works. Push out more noise/power than the comms you wish to jam.
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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 4:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for this, I think I'll adjust the set up then with the Lambdas perhaps hidden behind the rebel ships with the Interdictor and the Star Destroyer. My only concern is that the PCs won't think to do a sensors sweep behind them, only discovering when they try to jump, in which case they're likely doomed.

There's a Retired (Star Destroyer) Captain in the team now so perhaps a Tactics roll would allow him to identify what is going on.

To help illustrate the scenario, here's the image, first with the original set up with colour coded highlight key:

Green: Nowhere & Rebel squadrons of X-Wings and Y-Wings
Red: Star Destroyer
Orange: Interdictor
Cyan: 3 Raiders, 12 TIEs, 5 Lambdas and Refuelling Station (which will be able to heavily damage the Raiders if a 2 metre fuel regulator can be hit)

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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Set up 2. Same colour code as before, only Lambdas are with the Interdictor in the orange box

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Raven Redstar
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2020 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very cool! Look forward to reading about this!
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bissler wrote:
Thanks for this, I think I'll adjust the set up then with the Lambdas perhaps hidden behind the rebel ships with the Interdictor and the Star Destroyer. My only concern is that the PCs won't think to do a sensors sweep behind them, only discovering when they try to jump, in which case they're likely doomed.

There's a Retired (Star Destroyer) Captain in the team now so perhaps a Tactics roll would allow him to identify what is going on.


How's about do it a tactics VS tactics. The ship captain vs the imperials..
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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 5:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Raven Redstar wrote:
Very cool! Look forward to reading about this!


It's some weeks away as we have just begun The Rebels of Chayloon (my group plays Star Wars on Wednesdays and Alien on Fridays, but Alien fell through this week so I stepped in to fill the void for a bonus SW session). I'm guessing it will run for another 3 weeks - then we'll run this.
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The Bissler
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2020 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
How's about do it a tactics VS tactics. The ship captain vs the imperials..


Could do - the only problem is that we've never once used Tactics in play before, so his skill is sitting at its base attribute. You could argue that this is the fault of the player for not boosting his skill but this character has only played two 1 week adventures and when there's other skills which seem more important, I don't blame him for not spending Character Points on in it, particularly when there's no precedent for it being used in previous sessions.
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