Sensors in Combat

From the very start, I wanted sensors to play a big role in vehicle combat on The Artifact. For the most part, that hasn’t worked out. With the third edition I tried to introduce “sensor locks” into the game. This required sensor rolls in order to start using vehicle based weapons. This is plainly the wrong approach.

I was juggling a lot of elements when putting out the third edition, but this plainly breaks many game design criteria that I set for other systems in the game. Primarily that any additional rolls should reward a player when they succeed, not penalize them when they fail. If a character can’t start firing until they pass a sensor roll, that’s plainly penalizing them.

Try Different

The sensor systems of a vehicle should make them more capable than a person handling a weapon manually, not be an impediment. My thought is, how does a “sensor lock” work in movies? It means that the sensors make for an automatic hit unless a heroic effort is made to evade.

That means that getting a sensor lock guarantees a basic hit. That’s simple for the Fraction Column system, a sensor lock gives a single success each turn the lock stays in place. This means the vehicle will at least hit it’s target as long as the target doesn’t dodge, or use their ECMs to break the sensor lock.

A pilot can still roll to hit with their Artillery Operation skill and improve the number of successes the attack has. This means that doing things like avoiding shields or armor is easier. Burst weapons are more effective and having multiple weapons firing all at once suddenly is very very effective. Rall 4s weapon lay out becomes staggeringly effective.

There is one little peculiarity to this concept though. What if the character rolls under their 8th for their sensor roll? Do they get 4 fractional successes to hit? My instinct is no. That would be far too effective and probably break the game. So what does rolling well under sensors do for you?

The main advantage of a good sensor roll would be that the lock is harder to break. The defender has to make an ECM roll that matches or exceeds the roll for the sensor lock. That makes a good lock roll a devastating development to a pilot.

I think that should do it, it makes sense and it follows the basic concept that people would expect. It rewards the player for using an action, so that’s better too.

Any objections to this system?

2 Comments

Filed under Experimental Mechanics

2 Responses to Sensors in Combat

  1. Sounds clever! It might mean a bit more math for the players, though. I’d stress-test it.
    Also, hey, glad you’re back in the swing of things!

    • Loc

      It will mean a lot more firepower being brought to bear. That’s going to be an interesting result as it will change the balance among the vehicles available.

      Thanks for the well wish, I’ve really been working on a bunch of projects all of which need me to do art. I love the projects, I just haven’t been feeling “arty” so I’m going to spend a couple hundred dollars on a art tablet, hoping that the experience reinvigorates me.

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