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wolverine
11 January 2006, 09:34 PM
Bringing this thread from over on Rancors Pit...

Got this 'argument' from over on the Sparks Yahoo group. Apparently, someone felt the GM 'gyped' him, by not allowing the droids with sensors, to detect an ambush... But another gm, piped up with "did they make periodic rolls, were they under orders from their owner to check?"

That got me a thinking. How would you have handled it?

Also, would having droids flying around (repulsors) sending out sensor sweeps, not be more of a detrement to a sneak n peak style mission, or many others, by giving the imperials a heads up that you are there?
I say that, cause IMO even if those droids only have 1km of sensor detection range, their buble of sensor energy would still be able to get detected by more powrful sensors....


This was one of the responses..

Ambush!
Wait, from where? Don't I get a perception roll?
No, you never said you wanted to...

Ambush!
Wait, from where? Wouldn't my droids sensors pick it up?
No, you never told him to use them...

They are both the exact same situation. What do YOU think the correct answer is?


My response to that, "Perception is something always there, while sensors have to be activated to 'check' for, therefore it would necessitate a roll in my mind."

One of my comments.


Case and point, where i had this come up once before (3 yrs ago iirc). The player controling the 2 droids, seekers modified with a low power sensor system (1km range), i specifically asked how often his droids would perform sensor sweeps and what they would be looking for. Later on, when they walked into the ambush (not one made the perception versus the imps sneak roll) he whined that his droid should have spotted them before hand.

When i pointed out, that his group had moved up 3km since the last sweep, and it was still 5 min before the droids next scheduled sweep, he soon shut up, though still grumbled about it.

And probabily one of the best arguments AGAINST allowing droids the above...
Compare it like this. If the PCs hired an NPC instead of buying a droid, would you allow the NPC more chance to spot the ambush than the characters themselves, especially since nobody was expecting an ambush?


So what do you all think? SHOULD droids get an automatic sensors check to spot an ambush? Should they only get one, when their 'owners' prompt for one?

Ronin
12 January 2006, 05:30 AM
Hmmmmm...
good question.

I'd say a lot would come down to the type of droid, and the situation.
If they're out on a combat patrol (and especially if the droid is there because of it's sensors) then sure, it should be alert and looking for ambushes/the enemy etc.
If it's a non-combat droid out on a combat patrol (for some other reason) then it probably won't be looking for an ambush unless it's specifically told to do so. A -3PO or medical droid for example.

In a non-combat situation I doubt any droid would be on the lookout (unless it was particularly paranoid, a bounty hunter droid or told to do so).

Just my 2 yen.

Ace Calhoon
12 January 2006, 12:47 PM
I say that, cause IMO even if those droids only have 1km of sensor detection range, their buble of sensor energy would still be able to get detected by more powrful sensors....

We actually need more information to determine that :-P

"Sensors" is a very broad term, that can cover both passive and active means of detection. A real-world example would be a submarine: it carries both active sensors (the classical "ping" seen in the movies), which are very noticable. But it also has passive sensors (basically high-quality microphones along the ship's hull) which are completely undetectable.

The same is true with a droid's sensors. They *might* be active sensors that could compromise a stealth mission (i.e. radar). But they might also be passive, and undetectable (heat scanners, audio detectors, etc.).


Compare it like this. If the PCs hired an NPC instead of buying a droid, would you allow the NPC more chance to spot the ambush than the characters themselves, especially since nobody was expecting an ambush?

Yes, I would, if the NPC would logically have a reason to be better at spotting things. When the PCs hire an NPC "slicer" he gets a higher computer programming/repair roll than PCs who haven't invested in the skill... From a D&D perspective, the NPC rogue hireling would have a higher spot check than a party full of fighters and clerics :P


My response to that, "Perception is something always there, while sensors have to be activated to 'check' for, therefore it would necessitate a roll in my mind."

It depends on the sensor. Strictly speaking, a droid's photoreceptors are a form of sensor. Are your droids blind unless specifically asked to look at something?

wolverine
12 January 2006, 06:15 PM
Yes, I would, if the NPC would logically have a reason to be better at spotting things. When the PCs hire an NPC "slicer" he gets a higher computer programming/repair roll than PCs who haven't invested in the skill... From a D&D perspective, the NPC rogue hireling would have a higher spot check than a party full of fighters and clerics

I higher skill, is one thing, i was asking about more chances to detect..


It depends on the sensor. Strictly speaking, a droid's photoreceptors are a form of sensor. Are your droids blind unless specifically asked to look at something?

Well, lets look at space ships. When fluing around, your sensors don't tell you squat, unless you engage them, even passivly.

Ace Calhoon
12 January 2006, 07:13 PM
I higher skill, is one thing, i was asking about more chances to detect..

More chances? Again, as the situation allowed. The NPC wouldn't be robbed of an opportunity to use his abilities, simply because he wasn't a PC. An example of this case would be if a Jedi NPC was along for the ride. The NPC would still get both their Perception check, and their Life Detection check (assuming they have reason to have that power up).

In addition to this, many droid sensor systems are implemented as "adds +ND to Search" or "adds +ND to Perception." Of course, if this was the case, the droid would only get one check... But would receive the bonus to this check.


Well, lets look at space ships. When fluing around, your sensors don't tell you squat, unless you engage them, even passivly.

I guess this depends on how you're running starship sensors. The books don't state either way, but I run them as "starship perception." The player states what level of sensors they are using (passive, scan, search, or focus), and receives a sensors check at similar times to Perception. Using higher-level sensors makes it more likely that you'll see something... But using active sensors increases your risk of detection.

Beyond that, remember that the droid has it's own personality (to one extent or another). The player's shouldn't have to direct every move it makes, it should determine a few things on it's own.

Of course, I'm not disagreeing with you in this case. I can't, there just isn't enough information. Details such as the type of droid, the type of sensors in question, and the game-text of those sensors could make a huge difference.

wolverine
13 January 2006, 04:55 AM
I guess this depends on how you're running starship sensors. The books don't state either way, but I run them as "starship perception." The player states what level of sensors they are using (passive, scan, search, or focus), and receives a sensors check at similar times to Perception. Using higher-level sensors makes it more likely that you'll see something... But using active sensors increases your risk of detection.

Interesting way to look at it, but i still feel sensors of objects should have to be activated...


Anyone else got a thought on this?

Ace Calhoon
13 January 2006, 08:56 AM
Interesting way to look at it, but i still feel sensors of objects should have to be activated...

I do agree that most hand-held sensors (i.e. the sensor package that Han was using on Hoth) need to be explicitly activated. And technically, so do some of a droid's scanners (except for most passive scanners, and a few brands of active scanning).

But, generally speaking, the droid will activate the scanner on it's own... It isn't an inventory item, it's an NPC.

The thing to look at is why the droid has the sensors in the first place... What their intended purpose is. Without other instructions, the droid will tend to revert to this behavior... Which could mean using active sensors on a stealth mission. Or it could mean not using the sensors, because they're "only for determining the color of the fruit that the droid is supposed to harvest." Or it could mean always using a type of passive scanner, because it's simply part of how the droid sees the world (i.e. is a heat scanner).

Edit: grammar...

Terras Jadeonar & Raven
15 January 2006, 09:49 PM
Theres another side of the coin also.... Whether or not the group is actively using the droid's sensors or not...

Theres always ways to foil sensors. Or give the group false sensor information, or sensor imformation about useless or possibly misleading stuff. be vague: life forms up ahead.... sure. Rodents are life forms are they not? :D (especially if its a couple meters around the corner or in the next room. where the real threat is several meters farther up ahead...)

If in the right time frame, theres also Imperial Storm Commandos, who's matt-black (light absorbing) scout styled armor is built with sound dampners, non-reflective sensor coating, as well as other nasty enhancement goodies to make them almost invisible from detection... And of course down and dirty Guerilla tactics fighting...

wolverine
15 January 2006, 10:37 PM
We are already using storm commandos...

Terras Jadeonar & Raven
16 January 2006, 12:02 AM
ahh, didn't see storm commandos mentioned (or else missed it if it was). thought i'd mention it anyways.

If the pc's don't prompt their droids to make sensor checks or establish them to automatically use their sensors by default beforehand then i'd say it's entirely optional for the gm's part to give or dont bother with giving sensor results / information. as the old saying goes -
"Why didn't you tell me???"
"You never asked..." :P

Besides, nowheres has it ever been written that a GM must hand-sit and fill in every little detail or possible option availble to the players if the players don't think on it for themselves. GM's can if they want, and thus is a courtasy by the GM, but nowheres is it ever mandatory.

And thats what the case is sounding like to me - the players just being whiney and wanting everything being prsented to them on a platter without having to think about doing it themselves.

Ace Calhoon
16 January 2006, 09:36 AM
If the pc's don't prompt their droids to make sensor checks or establish them to automatically use their sensors by default beforehand then i'd say it's entirely optional for the gm's part to give or dont bother with giving sensor results / information.

The GM is obligated to roleplay NPCs in a manner that is either "realistic" or conducive to gameplay (depending on where you fall in the role vs. roll argument). If the droid is a civilian model or of low intelligence, you're quite right... Odds are that it will be "looking" for the wrong thing, or will fail to pipe up when it sees something.

But Wolverine still hasn't stated what type of droid it is. For all we know, it's a military model with high intelligence, life form detectors (and software to identify life-forms based on sensory input), etc. Such a droid would be highly likely to use it's sensors (which don't guarentee detection, of course) and make the PCs aware of what it detects.


Besides, nowheres has it ever been written that a GM must hand-sit and fill in every little detail or possible option availble to the players if the players don't think on it for themselves. GM's can if they want, and thus is a courtasy by the GM, but nowheres is it ever mandatory.

No, but GMs do need to fill in critical details. If the floor of a room is actually a vat of hydrochloric acid, the GM is sort of required to mention that.

Likewise, the players don't have to tell their non-droid NPC squadmates to put pants on, nor can they order them to shoot themselves in the head.

More detail is really needed to give a clear interpretation for this instance... And no "rule of thumb" really applies to all possibilities (a civilian droid won't use it's tools to the fullest potential, but a military droid will).

Terras Jadeonar & Raven
16 January 2006, 04:49 PM
No, but GMs do need to fill in critical details. If the floor of a room is actually a vat of hydrochloric acid, the GM is sort of required to mention that. Um yeah, that particular detail would be...

I meant other stuff such as what's up ahead, down the corridor, sensor results, whether or not certain skill checks succeeded or not.

wolverine
16 January 2006, 11:34 PM
Originally posted by Ace Calhoon


But Wolverine still hasn't stated what type of droid it is. For all we know, it's a military model with high intelligence, life form detectors (and software to identify life-forms based on sensory input), etc. Such a droid would be highly likely to use it's sensors (which don't guarentee detection, of course) and make the PCs aware of what it detects.

[/B]

I though i did... They were seekers (those ball things luke fights) with all but 1 of their blasters stripped out, and a small sensor suite put in (1km max range)...

Ace Calhoon
17 January 2006, 08:59 AM
Ah... I read that quote and thought you were referring to a different situation. From that quote, you were well within your rights to have the droids not pick something up (scan intervals were defined by the PCs)... Is that quote representative of the situation you were describing in your post?

And that does answer a few questions (such as whether the sensors are active or passive... Sounds like they're active).

The two questions that remain are:
How has the droids intelligence been modified (the original seekers appear to be limited to "find body; shoot body with irritating stingers).

How do the droids communicate?

wolverine
17 January 2006, 10:56 PM
The two questions that remain are:
How has the droids intelligence been modified (the original seekers appear to be limited to "find body; shoot body with irritating stingers).


Honestly, i don;t know. I might be able to get that info, by asking the droid owner... for MY situation, but remember i was initially posting about something, someone else did.


How do the droids communicate?

Dont remember. But i do think it was something like a beap and vocoder handset he had, that 'translated' what they said.

MERC
24 January 2006, 12:37 PM
In that case it sounds as the droids primary function is to use the sensor they were equiped with... Unless they do that they are kind of useless! But the player would still have to turn them on, and they would not have so many ranks in Spot I presume. Having those buzz around could be seen by an oponent as well... If they notice somthing AND iterprets it as a threat they would inform their master. What a Seeker sees as a threat is however up to the GM and the droids programing! They might be more annoying then usefull!