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Old Jan 13th, 2022, 10:41 AM
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Star Wars: scanners

I can wrap my brain around most things in the Star Wars universe but not scanners. Not in how they technically work but in how they effect the game.

You can escape in a starship by going to hyperspace. Easy enough. But what about on a planet surface? What about when they enter a system? Larger ships tend to have longer-range scanners. That Star Destroyer is going to see the small rebel ship long before the rebels detect the Star Destroyer. How would you ever approach a enemy system undetected?

Another example: The PCs as rebel operatives steal a land speeder and make a run for it. How would they ever escape since any vehicle or installation will have sensors that can track the speeder a thousand miles away?

Jammers announce your presence as much as mask it. Few players think of buying jammers. Vehicles do not come with jammers as standard equipment. Ships do not have cloaking or stealth technology in general. Hiding just doesn't seem possible. Vehicles all have scanners and hand-held scanner are pretty common.


Edit: For context, I am using the Fantasy Flight Games system.

Last edited by girlplay; Jan 13th, 2022 at 06:50 PM.
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Old Jan 13th, 2022, 08:30 PM
silveroak silveroak is offline
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As a general principle, I guess hide your speeder in heavy speeder traffic...
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Old Jan 15th, 2022, 04:17 PM
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When you think of "scanners," are you picturing an infallible, highly precise set of instruments that create an inevitable situation once they notice something?

When I think about scanners in Star Wars (and I have read so much of the Expanded Universe that Star Wars pops into my thoughts more than is healthy), I think about them as portrayed in the X-Wing novel series. I know this is now non-canon, but the depictions are useful.

In Star Wars, starships have transponders which broadcast what vessel they are. If one of those is active, sure, most scanners are going to know where you are unless there is a physical obstacle between the ship and the scanners. Most military and criminal/dubious vessels are going to have ways to either broadcast a false ID or simply run silent. If you're running silent, the foe needs to be actively scanning for you AND identify your vessel as what it is rather than something similar or even a piece of space junk.

In general, I like to think about the need for line of sight (or effect, in this case). In the underbelly of Coruscant, you can't scan for anything, really. The buildings and canyons are just too densely packed. On some other world, jetting for the obstruction of a mountain range or a cave would disrupt a scanner's lock.

The precision of a scanner and its ability to deal with noise is also important. If your speeder is in dense traffic, how well does the scanner differentiate your vehicle from others of the same or similar makes and models around it?

When it comes to entering a system, I'd ask a series of questions.
  • Is the enemy on high alert? If not, the scanners are probably going to be on Passive, and won't catch incoming vessels that aren't broadcasting civilian ID.
  • Are the scanners looking in the right places? The scanners are probably oriented along likely avenues of attack, or along established trade corridors. Coming at them from an angle that they aren't careful about might avoid the scanners.
  • Are there physical obstructions? Hiding in the shadow of another planet can bring you in closer. Exiting hyperspace behind a sufficiently thick gas cloud could fool some sensors.
  • Can you use deceit? Hiding in legitimate traffic is smart, especially for snubfighters. Hitching a ride in an otherwise ordinary transport vessel's hold or on hardpoints attached to the hull gives them an easy way to close the distance. When that heavy shipping vessel suddenly starts spewing Headhunters as it reaches orbit, it's done its job.

Capital ships are much harder to bring all the way in undetected, and undetected is often not the goal. Delayed detection can be good, as can running for cover when fleeing.

Getting somewhere without being spotted is much harder than getting somewhere without being identified as a threat.

Bringing an unconventional point of view into The Mists .
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Old Jan 15th, 2022, 05:03 PM
silveroak silveroak is offline
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It is also worth noting that narratively the entirety of Star Wars has a standard of WWII level technology translated into a space setting, so i see scanners as being essentially radar, but shinier and more spacey. Which is why things that work against radar (before the development of stealth) work the same- jamming gives away your position but will hide other ships, landing makes you disappear, and surrounding yourself with other inanimate objects with the engines off makes you indistinguishable from junk)
I don't know if this is cannon (it probably isn't because it is very non WWII) but dropping a jamming beacon (a jammer that just sits in space by itself, or wherever you drop it with contragrav) would be an obvious way t avoid scanners. Chaff would fit better narratively since it was a late WWWII technology, which was essentially an ejectable material with high radar (sorry, sensor) reflectivity so it would *act* like something massive being in the way.
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