Sensors

Characters with the this skill can operate various kinds of sensors. The sensors skill covers everything from portable hand scanners to the huge sensor arrays used on capital ships or at military bases.

Time Taken: One round or longer.

Sensors can perform two distinct tasks: Active scanning or Passive detection.

Active scanning requires the sensor suite to broadcast an energy pulse such as Radar or Sonar. The sensors then detect the way the energy pulse 'bounces' off of a target object and can extrapolate size, location, speed, direction, etc. With a good many pulses it would be possible to create a 'visual' image of the object, such as the way Side-Scan Sonar can help determine the shape of an object under deep water. Active mode cannot tell an operator anything about weapon systems on a vehicle or starship, and very little about a planet other than indicating general locations. Active scanning under oceans might reveal unseen terrain features or a hidden base but really very little else about them.

Passive detection scanning is, by far, the most effective mode to gather information for most any sensor suite. In Passive detective mode, sensors examine the wavelengths of light, radio signals, radiation, heat, magnetism etc coming from the target or planet.

Sensors can detect the energy reflected or emitted from an object and make very accurate determinations about planetary composition, temperature, magnetic fields, detect ship signatures, etc.

Radio, Video, and Interstellar communications fall under the Communications skill as a separate field of sensor operations.

Note: Mass Effect: Legends staff have no intentions of ever introducing space combat beyond a supporting roll used in plots. There will be no massive fleets of coded starships; no D/HSpace code will ever implemented. Character concepts that use any Capital/Star Ship skills will be allowed to demonstrate their character prowess as plots may warrant but, for the most part, all such skills should be considered character embellishment rather than actual character development. Staff encourages embellishment - as long as it is recognized for what it is. Don't waste points you would have better spent elsewhere!

Active Scanning

Active Scanning targets: Active Scanning mode is mainly used in battle used to track enemy targets or located better hit locations, for example to disable a particular system on a fleeing frigate or kinetic barrier emitters on a dreadnaught.

The base difficulty is as always 10 but the modifiers are inverted from those used in Passive Detection scans.

The bigger the ship, the harder it is to locate precise sub-system locations. After locating the system of interest you may choose to attack that specified area for additional effects. It is up to GM to determine the "to hit" difficulty based on the vessels defense value and the location of the target sub-system.

Passive Detection

As with Active Scanning, the base difficulty is 10 and then is modified according to what is being attempted.

Passive Detection: Ships Difficulty Modifier
Target is using a sensor decoy, sensors detect both ship and decoy +5
Target ship is running silent. +15 or more
Ship is hiding behind planet or other massive body. +10 or more
Ship has other mass objects, such as asteroids, to hide among. +20
Passive Detection: Size Bonus Skill Bonus
Targeting a small natural body. A small asteroid. +5
Target is the size of a capital ship or a decent-sized asteroid. + 10
Planetary or moon-sized natural body like the Citadel. +20
Stellar object. A star, nebula, black hole. +30

If the sensor operator scans a ship with passive scanners and beats the sensors difficulty by 10 or more points, he can pick out a ship's transponder code. Of course, if the ship has a false transponder code, this information can be worthless anyway.

Planetary Scanning

Scanning for specific objects or resources on a planet's surface can be fairly difficult. While it's easy to find major landmarks — continents, mountain chains, inland seas and so forth — a planet's geothermal functions, the energy generated by large settlements, large concentrations of metal, and other energy sources can distort sensor readings, especially if the sensor is looking for a small facility while scanning a large area. Often, sensor operators must greatly limit their scanning area — covering perhaps a few square kilometers at a time — to find military bases, small cities and other "minor" landmarks. The basic sensors difficulty depends upon how much of the planet is being scanned. No more than half a planet may be
scanned because only one hemisphere is visible at any given time.

Characters must first make a Passive general scan of the planet to determine basic characteristics — atmosphere type, presence of major geographic features, scans for energy readings typical of very large cities — and then conduct increasingly detailed scans on smaller and smaller areas to determine information about interesting landmarks. Refer to the difficulty list below for scanning from orbit and finding a specific item — such as a starport, small town, factory complex, scout base, or industrial compound — when scanning an area of a certain size.

Planetary Scanning begins with a base difficulty of 10 before specific modifiers are applied.

Planetary Scanning Difficulty Modifier
An area one square kilometer or less. +3
An area 100 square kilometers or less. +6
An area 1,000 square kilometers or less. +12 or more
An area one million square kilometers or less. An average size nation. +15 or more
An area 100 million square kilometers or less. A small continent. +18 or more
One hemisphere. +21 or more

Not every planet is inert, such as Mars or the Earth's Moon. In fact most planets and moons experience some sort of geologic activity, such as tectonic activity, volcanic eruptions, etc. The following modifiers can be used to reflect these additional issues.

Environmental Complications Difficulty Modifier
Looking for telltale energy emissions, such as emissions from spaceships. +5-20 or more
Specific signal is hidden among other similar emissions or in an area where other signals will overwhelm that object's signal. (A ship flying among volcanoes to disguise its trail) + 10 or more
Identifying a specific life form if there are many different species in an area. +5 or more

When the sensor operator is seeking to obtain specific planetary information, it can be much easier to obtain by filtering out the back-scattered readings that would have to otherwise be considered in a wider spectrum scan.

Targeted Scanning Skill Bonus
Looking for basic information. Location of major continents, planet's atmosphere and gravity, general composition of land masses. +25 or more
Looking for major sources of heat, light and other energy sources; by default, other, non energy emitting areas, such as glaciers, can be found. +10
Looking for major landmarks. Mountain chains, forests, large lakes, or cities. +5-15
Finding life forms if life form is known and there are massive concentrations of them(determining that humans live on a planet if there are thousands of them clustered in a small area). +5 or more
Spotting or identifying a specific life form if it is very different from all other life forms around it. +5
Following an energy trail left by a starship on reentry from orbit. +10 or more
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