Prev: FTL Kamikaze (was:Re: cm scale) Next: Re: FTL Kamikaze (was:Re: cm scale)

Re: Of Sensors and Needles - Some Questions and Suggestions

From: John Leary <realjtl@s...>
Date: Sat, 22 Nov 1997 09:39:55 -0800
Subject: Re: Of Sensors and Needles - Some Questions and Suggestions

Allan Goodall wrote:
> Topic: Advanced Sensor Rules and Needle Weapons
> ...Snip...(JTL)
> In the main FT rules, when you fire a Needle Beam at a ship you get to
> pick the system on the target ship that will be attacked by the Needle
> Beam. This seems to imply that all of a ship's systems are available
> for perusal under the basic FT rules, otherwise how would you know
> what to target with your Needle Beams? (Yes, no, opinions?)
Allen, Jon,
     If operating in the defensive mode certain assumptions can be made
with no great danger of being wrong.
1) The ship got here, it must have an FTL drive.
2) The ship is moving, it must have thrust(of some value).
3) The ship has been built by the Universal Shipbuilding Company (Ltd)
   and has FCS based upon its mass/class.   (JTL)

> Here's where the trouble comes in: the advanced sensor rules in More
> Thrust seem to imply that ship record sheets are hidden. In More
> Thrust we have Basic, Enhanced and Superior sensors. The rules state
> that Basic sensors act like the regular sensors from the FT, that is
> an active scan places the ship on the table. However, what does this
> MEAN exactly when Needle Beams are used? The implication in FT is that
> once a ship is placed on the table you can see its record sheet,
> otherwise you won't know what systems can be hit.
...  One can suspect that at a range of 9 the ship can be observed on
some form of visual sensor.   The director/detector program may operate
on these visual signals to target the selected system.	 The 'To Hit'
may not be for firing in this case but may be looked at as a 
detection roll for the sensors.   The die roll of 6 is a sucessful
detection and an automatic hit on the selected system, this point of
view explains why the needle does no damage on other than a 6.
The system failed to detect, the system did not fire.	This should
also answer most of the other problems with the needle beams.(JTL)
> The Enhanced and Superior sensors give you more information about the
> ship. A die roll of 1 or 2 gives nothing, 3 gives mass and whether or
> not the ship is a military ship, and better rolls give more and more
> detailed information about the ship. The implication here is that the
> record sheets are hidden until a suitable sensor roll is made. This
> seems to contradict the line in More Thrust that states that basic
> sensors act just as they do in FT because FT implies that you get to
> see the entire record sheet.
> So what do you REALLY get from an active scan using the More Thrust
> rules? Here's my interpretation; let me know what you think about it:
> Bogey: you know the ship's rough size grouping (escort, cruiser,
> capital). Merchant ships will be slotted into one of these three
> settings based on their mass. For example, a mass 32 merchant would be
> listed as a cruiser sized bogey.
...  Traditionally the 'Bogey' is simply an unidentified contact,
nothing more.	Continued tracking gets speed and direction.  
In FT/MT active sweeps allow the die roll for information.  
My current usage for sensors is:
Standard sensors, plus 0 to die roll, Range 60"
Enhanced	       1		   120" 
Superior	       2		   240"
Area ECM	 minus 1
Ship ECM	 minus 2  
(JTL)  ...
> Basic Sensors and Passive Sensors: successful active scan gets you the
> ship name, the class name, and size grouping. You do NOT know if it is
> a military ship or a merchant. Most of this data will be completely
> useless unless: 1) you've met this ship and class before, 2) you scan
> another ship with better sensors and find out exactly what it has on
> it, 3) as part of the scenario/campaign you are given record sheets
> for ships your side has encountered previously in the universe
> background.
> Enhanced Sensors: as per the More Thrust rules. A 1 or 2 roll gives
> you the same as basic sensors (this isn't explicitly stated in the
> More Thrust rules; they state that you get no information, but I think
> this should default to the same info as Basic Sensors). A 3 gives you
> the actual mass and whether the ship is a military ship or a merchant.
> Higher rolls give you more information about systems.
> Superior Sensors: same as enhanced sensors, but with the +2 to the die
> roll listed in More Thrust.
> Okay, but how does the above tie in with Needle Beams? This is totally
> unexplained. How can a ship target a system that it doesn't know
> exists? Well, it probably can't. But can a ship target a weapon system
> it hasn't scanned but KNOWS exists because it's been hit by it?
> You might be tempted to say "yes" to that last question, but here's a
> problem. Let's say there's a NAC cruiser with 2 A beams. It fires one
> A beam at a Eurasian battleship on turn 1. The Eurasian battleship
> fires a pulse torpedo back at it, and the torpedo causes a threshold
> check that takes out one of the A beams. Turn 2 and the battleship
> fires first. It hasn't successfully scanned the NAC cruiser,	but the
> player declares a Needle Beam attack on the A beam that fired at it.
> The NAC player says, "Sorry, you took that out with the pulse torps,"
> and proceeds to attack the battleship with the remaining A beam. This
> causes an argument as the Eurasian player says, "Prove to me that the
> remaining A beam wasn't the one that fired at me!" You see the
> problem? The Eurasian player knows the NAC ship had an A beam, but it
> didn't know about the OTHER A beam.
> In order for this to work properly everyone would have to keep a list
> of which weapon was fired previously and so is known to all enemy
> ships. Oh, but suppose the enemy has reinforcements show up? For that
> matter, should every player on the same side see the results of an
> active scan? Now you have to keep track of which weapons were fired
> previously and which ships saw the weapon fire or scanned the ship!
> This could get out of control pretty easy.
> Needle beams become seriously over priced based on the above argument.
> Either you end up with a lot of onerous bookkeeping or your needle
> beams can't fire until a ship has been scanned. And does the same
> criteria hold true for needle missiles?
> Does anyone have any suggestions for handling this anomaly?
> I've come up with some options to handle this. I'm not 100% in favour
> of any of them, but they cover the options I could think of. Any other
> options, or comments on these, are greatly appreciated.
> 1) Don't use advanced sensor rules with needle weapons. (Simple
> enough, but a bit of a cop out.)
> 2)  Don't let a needle weapon fire at any system -- including the
> engines -- without the system being scanned. (This makes needle
> weapons more difficult to use. It also has the weird situation of a
> weapon being fired but no needle weapon able to target it because it
> wasn't scanned).
> 3) Allow a needle weapon to fire at the engines of a ship without
> having to scan them. All other systems must be scanned first.
> 4) Allow ships firing needle weapons (beams and missiles) to see a
> list of systems on a target ship. Assume that needle weapons require
> advanced sensors better than that available on other ships. (Of
> course, this will lead to scanning by needle fire. I can see needle
> missiles becoming a cheap form of drone sensor package, with the side
> effect of it possibly destroying a system.)
> 5) Make all system information available to all ships within 9",
> putting all ships on an even playing field. (This works for needle
> beams, but what about needle missiles?)
> 6) Allow a needle weapon to fire at a ship that hasn't been scanned.
> The shot will target a random system. As an option, allow knocked out
> systems to be counted as the possible target system. (Essentially, the
> gun team or missile AI is aiming at gun ports, missile tubes, or just
> prominent bits of the ship.)
> 7) Same as 6, but group systems into three main chunks: weapons
> (including fire cons), engines (including FTL) and other. A needle
> weapon would target one of these chunks, and the system targeted would
> be chosen at random from the systems in that chunk. (Same as 6, but
> the firing player has a bit more control over what he fires at).
> 8) Keep track of each system that fires. If it has fired, treat it as
> though it had been scanned. Optionally, keep track of each ship that
> saw the weapon fire. (Lots of bookkeeping, and probably not worth the
> effort.)
     Personally, I do this in the back of the brain during every game.
> Note that in most cases if a successful scan has been done, allow the
> ship to fire at a scanned system. This may still involve bookkeeping,
> as it's possible for a ship to discover that it's target had -- for
> example -- an A beam but it wouldn't necessarily know that it had been
> taken out on a threshold check.
> And finally, do you use the advanced sensor rules? Do you use the
> needle weapons (beams and/or missiles)? If yes to both, do you use
> them both at once? If so, how do YOU handle it?
> "Unlike serial killer profiling, writing is a lonely and
> depressing profession." - Jose Chung, Millenium

     I have always found that hot dice are much better than skill!

Bye for now,
John L.

(I hope the XXXXXXX are sufficient to denote the added text.)

Prev: FTL Kamikaze (was:Re: cm scale) Next: Re: FTL Kamikaze (was:Re: cm scale)