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[6e] Sensors & arrays

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ammulder

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« on: <05-08-21/1926:08> »
Referring to the core rules pp. 276-277:

I'm confused about a sensor array (2 or more sensor functions at 1000¥ and 1 capacity each) vs. multiple individual sensors (rating x 100¥ and 1 capacity each).

Let's say I'm searching an abandoned base for alien life forms so I want a handheld motion sensor, laser range finder, and atmosphere sensor (3 sensor functions).

The rules say sensors bought individually have a rating from 1 to 8.  But for a sensor array, it just says it has up to its rating in functions, without saying what the rating of those individual functions are.

So for my handheld device, I buy the 3-capacity enclosure for 300¥, which it would appear can either hold the 3 individual sensors at a capacity of 1 each (filling its total of 3) and cost 300¥-2400¥ depending on individual sensor ratings, or a single sensor array of 3 sensors for the same total capacity 3 but a flat 3000¥ -- now a fixed cost but it's then unclear what the ratings of the component sensor functions are and why it would be better than the cheaper combination of single-function sensors.

How is this meant to work?  What should the cost and rating of my handheld 3-function scanner be?

Edit: further confusing, the Sensors table says a single sensor has Capacity 1 for any rating, while the text says "If a function has the same name as an imaging or audio device" then it has "a Capacity equal to its rating", contradicting the adjacent table.
« Last Edit: <05-08-21/2014:55> by ammulder »

ammulder

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« Reply #1 on: <05-08-21/2109:56> »
Wait, I think I completely misunderstood the sensor array.

I now think the "Sensor Array" is a housing, similar to the wall-mounted housing or Handheld housing.

So I think I could have any of these:
  • Handheld housing 3 with motion sensor 8, laser range finder 8, and atmosphere sensor 8 (total 2700¥)
  • Wall-mounted housing 3 with motion sensor 8, laser range finder 8, and atmosphere sensor 8 (total 3150¥)
  • "Sensor array" 3 with motion sensor 8, laser range finder 8, and atmosphere sensor 8 (total 5400¥)

I don't know what the "sensor array" looks like, other than I guess it sometimes comes in vehicles or drones for free?  So maybe it's the miniaturized "installed into some other device" version of a sensor housing?

On the Capacity, if I put a Camera in my same Handheld Housing 3, it might replace all 3 of the other rating 8 sensors -- if for instance it was a Camera 3 with Vision Enhancement and Vision Magnification, I guess there would be no more space for other sensors in the rating 3 Housing.

So if I had a drone with Sensor 2, it could contain for instance:
  • a Rating 2 camera with low-light+magnification, or...
  • a Rating 1 camera plus a Rating 8 Ultrasound, or...
  • a Rating 8 Ultrasound plus a Rating 8 Atmosphere Sensor

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #2 on: <05-08-21/2240:55> »
Ok, some terminology:

Sensor: the thingie that generates data (audio, video, etc)
Sensor Array: a group of Sensors working in tandem
Sensor Housing: the thing you put a Sensor Array in

So, some examples.

1) let's say you have a shadowrun that requires you transit through a toxic wasteland.  Ergo, you're going to want some kind of hand-held scanner that detects both radiation and toxic vapors in the air.  So for starters, you know you want it all to fit into a hand-held scanner.  This physical and empty shell with no sensors in it costs 100 nuyen per point of capacity, with a maximum of 3 capacity.  Each sensor function only consumes 1 capacity, so a geiger counter and an atmospheric sensor each require 1 for a total of 2 capacity.  Ergo, a capacity 2 hand-held sensor meets your needs: 200 nuyen so far for the Sensor Housing.  Of course those two sensors have to be acquired.  The maximum sensor rating you can put in a hand-held sensor housing is 3.  Since sensor functions only consume 1 capacity no matter what their rating is, you can either buy max or save money.  2 rating 3 sensors costs 300 nuyen each, and since your life is on the line why skimp on a couple hundred nuyen, neh?  A hand-held housing with 2 rating 3 sensors costs 200+300+300=800 nuyen.

2) let's say you've acquired some kind of supervillain ego and are building a fortified lair in the middle of the wilderness.  You want to install some kind of early warning radar system to alert you when someone's flying an aircraft in the direction of your super lair, and money is no object.  The maximum rating Radar (sensor) available in the CRB is rating 8.  This radar costs a laughably low 800 nuyen, but them's the rules*.  Of course, you can't just put a rating 8 sensor in a hand-held housing!  Per the Sensor Packages chart on pg 277, you're going to need to obtain or construct an entire building to house your 800 nuyen Rating 8 Radar.  It'll doubtlessly raise the total cost of your radar detection site rather significantly, but there's no rules on how much it costs to buy or build an entire building.  GM fiat here! ;) 
of course, once you DO have/acquire your building to house your giant radar dish in/on, since you have such a huge Sensor Housing you could if you want put an array in that building to join the Radar system.  Or just leave it as a "single sensor housing".


*EDIT: Ok, actually, RADAR isn't in the rules as an available sensor function.  Of course a GM could fiat something, but in this case I'd strongly recommend "tweaking" the rating x 100 nuyen cost a bit :D 

Redoing example 2, as something that is actually practical:

2) let's say you maintain a safehouse, and you want to install a great MAD scanner in a strategic chokepoint.  Maximum rating available is 8, for 800 nuyen.  Something that capable cannot be housed in something as small as a RFID tag hidden on the wall, or even in a hand-held housing you issue to a guard or such.  It's going to have to be installed IN the building structure itself, necessitating whatever renovations/costs deemed appropriate because again, there's no rules for general contractor work.
« Last Edit: <05-08-21/2246:13> by Stainless Steel Devil Rat »
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

ammulder

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« Reply #3 on: <05-09-21/0633:59> »
"OK, but..."   :)

Anyway, thank you for clarifying.  I had clearly missed the actual effect of the rating of sensor/size of installation chart.

But when do you ever buy a "Sensor Array" for 1000¥ x (# of sensors)?  You didn't buy one in your handheld example, nor in your building-install example.  I'm not clear on what benefit an "array" brings to the table beyond what you already get from a group of individual sensors.

If I were to think real-world, perhaps a radar + thermographic sensor array to detect aircraft, and perhaps working together to generate one result they'd increase the detection chances vs. the same two sensors in two separate consoles.  But there's not a lot of overlap among the sensors listed in the book, and I haven't noticed a benefit provided for installing them into an "array" (could have been for instance, treat multiple sensors in an array as a Teamwork test), so it just seems like a waste of a few 1000¥.

Michael Chandra

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« Reply #4 on: <05-09-21/0752:25> »
We don't have a Rigger book yet, but if you're modding a vehicle or drone, its Sensor rating plays a role. It plays into its Attack Rating (p196, Piloting skill + Sensor), and it serves as their Device Rating in case of hacking (p201). It also is used for a drone attack roll (p201, Targeting + Sensor), its perception (p201, Clearsight), and when fighting ECM with Electronic Warfare (p201, Electronic Warfare). The rules on p276 also note that a Sensor Array can replace your Perception skill with its rating. So if you're observing through a drone, if your Perception is worse than its Sensor Array, yay there!

So given how important a Sensor rating is for a drone/vehicle, and the rules noting they come with Sensor Arrays, to me it sounds like a Sensor Array is what you buy when you are upgrading a vehicle or drone. So if I have a Steel Lynx (Sensor Rating 4) and want to upgrade it (can only go up to 5), I pay 5 grand for a new Array + 500 per Sensor (which it can have 5 of due to being rating 5).

Meanwhile, if I frequently drive my Ares Roadmaster and want to make it competent, while it only has a Sensor Array rating 2, I could go '7 grand for a Rating 7 Sensor Array, 700 nuyen per Sensor, max 7, let's say I'm grabbing 5... So 10.5k nuyen to upgrade it from Sensor Rating 2 to Sensor Rating 7.' Then I add a weapon mount or two, add a Targeting Autosoft and Evasion, and suddenly my Roadmaster can gun down my enemies when I need evac, with 5 more dice than if I had left it at its default Sensor 2.
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ammulder

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« Reply #5 on: <05-09-21/1056:28> »
Michael Chandra, that sounds really sensible, thanks!

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #6 on: <05-09-21/1247:01> »
...
But when do you ever buy a "Sensor Array" for 1000¥ x (# of sensors)?  You didn't buy one in your handheld example, nor in your building-install example.  I'm not clear on what benefit an "array" brings to the table beyond what you already get from a group of individual sensors...

You know, I literally never noticed that line on the chart.  I honestly thought the array was just what you organically had when you put anywhere between 2 to 8 sensors in one housing.  Good catch!

As for what's the benefit you gain from paying for the array after you've already paid for the sensors and the housing... frankly I don't know.  It does seem to me that there's no games-mechanics reason to have to have the array, other than complying with paying the entire price the book says you should.  That handheld "Fallout exploration" sensor I postulated in scenario 1 would therefore tack 2,000 nuyen onto the price, basically for no in-game reason that I can discern.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.

Odsh

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« Reply #7 on: <06-13-21/1400:24> »
Let's say I have an ultrasound sensor that I use in tandem with an ultrasound link so that I can see invisible enemies and stuff.

From my understanding, I need:
  • The ultrasound link, in some goggles for example, for 300 nuyen. It takes 1 from the goggles' capacity.
  • The "single" sensor with the ultrasound function, which I pick at rating 1 for 100 nuyen. Since its rating is less or equal to 2, it fits in the goggles too. Does it eat up some of the goggles' capacity? If yes, how much?

I don't see why I would need anything of this to be wireless enabled - so nothing is.
I don't have a sensor array, so according to the rules, I can't use the sensor rating in place of my Perception skill for Perception tests (why does this only work for arrays?). Anyway, that's not what I need the sensor for, so I don't care.

And thus, the sensor rating is meaningless for me.

Correct?

Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #8 on: <06-13-21/1505:46> »
The rules for sensor arrays ARE rather convoluted.

But I'll try to join you on your journey through those rules-weeds:

Let's say I have an ultrasound sensor that I use in tandem with an ultrasound link so that I can see invisible enemies and stuff.

From my understanding, I need:
  • The ultrasound link, in some goggles for example, for 300 nuyen. It takes 1 from the goggles' capacity.
  • The "single" sensor with the ultrasound function, which I pick at rating 1 for 100 nuyen. Since its rating is less or equal to 2, it fits in the goggles too. Does it eat up some of the goggles' capacity? If yes, how much?

I'd say you're on the right track so far.  Since the sensor has a given capacity cost, I'd say you'd just use that same capacity against the goggles' limit.  It's not explicit that you CAN use capacity for one type of gear inside the capacity allowance granted by another type of gear, but this is a situation where it makes perfect sense to say you can.

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I don't see why I would need anything of this to be wireless enabled - so nothing is.

"why is anything ever wireless" is a meta argument we don't need to hash over in this thread.  But regardless, nothing's stopping you from running gear wireless off, so certainly you can run your hypothetical goggles wireless-off!

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I don't have a sensor array, so according to the rules, I can't use the sensor rating in place of my Perception skill for Perception tests (why does this only work for arrays?).

I can't say.  It is what it is.  Of course, if you DID have the money to burn you could in effect "buy" a great perception dice pool via a sensor array built into your goggles/helmet, without having to rely on skill points/karma to get there!

Quote
Anyway, that's not what I need the sensor for, so I don't care.

And thus, the sensor rating is meaningless for me.

Correct?

I'd say that's it's only "mostly" correct.  Inside the realm of GM fiat, virtually anything can happen and 6e puts GM fiat onto almost everything. I suppose that if there's a context where the only sort of perception you have available is ultrasound (completely blind and deaf otherwise) someone could roll Stealth vs your Sensor rating rather than you getting to roll Perception.  And of course a measly rating 1 sensor is gonna be much easier to fool/slip by than a rating 6 one.

That's fairly niche, though.  Because how often are you really GOING to be completely reliant on a sensor for your own perception?  I suppose the only time it'd feasibly happen is if you're in VR and your real world senses are completely shut off, and you're monitoring the ultrasound imagery from VR.  THAT... is a case you'll want to splurge on a nice rating.

What might be more common is a GM saying you have to roll the lower of the two between your skill and your sensor, if you're relying MOSTLY on the sensor rather than absolutely.  Such a case might be total darkness with no thermo, or thick hot smoke that blocks all vision even thermo, coupled with a loud cacophony masking the gentle rustling sounds made by someone trying to sneak. If I were your GM, I very well might force you to roll perception but with the sensor in place of your skill.  OTOH, in a situation where the sensor is perfect for the situation I might call the rating as bonus dice from gear for your attribute + skill test.

And either way, if there were a contested situation where the better quality can affect the outcome (you're fighting another dude in pitch darkness but you're both relying on ultrasound to see) I'd say the higher rating is by default winning the situational edge.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.


Odsh

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« Reply #10 on: <07-08-21/0718:29> »
A quick feedback on our game:

What might be more common is a GM saying you have to roll the lower of the two between your skill and your sensor

Everyone agreed on this house-rule. Which means that you can rely on goggles or glasses with an ultrasound sensor and ultrasound link to perceive you surroundings, but:
  • Since the maximum sensor rating that fits in such a device is 2, the Perception skill is in effect limited by 2 in that case.
  • Ultrasound sensors have a maximum range of 50m, so you do not perceive anything past that distance.

The advantage is that you can "see" in total darkness and invisible targets as well, so this is a cheap way for mundanes to counter (Improved) Invisibility or a spirit's Concealment power. Which, to be honest, were too unbalanced otherwise (one of my players has a starting character that can reliably summon rating 9 spirits whose Concealment power is nearly impossible to beat).

So all in all a good addition to a mundane character's arsenal, but nonetheless with some drawbacks so that it remains a considered choice rather than a no-brainer, "always on" option.