Landed or docked

Landed on planet with atmosphere

Space is empty and very hard to hide in as your ship will stick out like a beacon against all that black. Sure, getting far enough away from any sun, painting your ship the blackest of black and not using any  thrust might make you harder to see against the black but what about infrared? Sure, you can turn off your powerplant and distribute the remaining heat radiating from your ship more evenly via stealth tech, and of course not using any rocket thrust but that black space around you is only 3 degrees Kelvin, so what to do?

The best way to avoid detecting is staying away from space altogether. Dock with something big, land on an asteroid or a planet, preferably with a thick atmosphere, or hide hovering inside the swirling clouds of a gas-giant. These rule will teach you how to scan for landed or docked targets, scan while being landed or docked and finally how to perform combat between landed ships and space, in both directions. The updated Intercept rulebook including these rules can be downloaded here.

A landed or docked ship is either in the Sunside illuminated by the sun or the Darkside hidden in the shadows, both sides have their pros and cons.

Scan for landed

Landed LOS

Sunside The planet or asteroid will block half your view so you cannot see anything farther from the sun – but on the other hand those farther from the sun cannot see you either. You are lit up by the sun by so is your surroundings. If the planet has any kind of atmosphere you cannot see out at all using Visual or IR sensors, Neutrino and Mass sensors completely ignore planets and asteroids. If there’s no atmosphere you can scan using Visual or IR into any square equal to or closer to the sun than you, if there is an atmosphere you cannot scan at all (neutrino and mass scans can always scan of course). Being in the Sunside also means having to worry about staring into the sun, make sure that your Scan doesn’t touch the Sunglare column as your opponent will happily remind you.

Darkside The planet or asteroid will block half your view so you cannot see anything equal or closer to the sun – those equal or closer to the sun cannot see you either of course. You are in the shadows cast by whatever it is you are docked to or landed on, good for you. At night the atmosphere is dark so you can actually scan using Visual or IR sensors. Your surroundings will be heated from the sun so your ships infrared emissions will be harder to pick up. As usual Neutrino and Mass ignore the planet, asteroid or docked ship and can scan as if nothing was there.

Scanning for landed or docked targets

When scanning for docked or landed targets you must tell your opponent that you wish to do so and what side you scan, Sunside or Darkside as you cannot do both with the same scan. Scanning for docked or landed makes your Sense task harder, how much harder depends on what you scan but the Sense roll will always be harder so don’t scan for landed or docked willy-nilly.

Reveal your Scan as usual, strength, size etc, tell the opponent that you want to scan for docked and landed too, tell if you Scan for Sunside or Darkside. Opponents ask you the usual questions:

  • Does the Scan touch Sunglare? Works as normal, subtract Sun factor from your Scan strength the Scan touches the Sunglare column, but not if your ship is in planet or asteroid shadow.
  • Does the Scan touch Suncolumn or Shadowcolumn? Works as normal. If it touches Suncolumn you must say if you are in the shadow column or not, and if it touches Shadowcolumn you must say if you are in the Suncolumn or not, if it touches both you must say if you are in either.
  • Is part of your Scan blocked by the planet? Works as normal. Note however that you can only scan squares for Sunside of they are equal to or closer to the sun than you and you can only scan Squares for Darkside if they are farther from the sun than you.

Then roll a Sense task, use the highest target number for all applicable targets within the Scan. If both a planet and an asteroid are inside the scan you must roll 9+ if you wish to look for landed on both but you only need to roll 8+ if you only search the asteroid.

  • Sense 6+ If scanning normally for ships in space
  • Sense 7+ If scanning for docked ships
  • Sense 8+ If scanning for ships landed on asteroids
  • Sense 9+ If scanning for ships landed on planets
  • Sense 10+ If scanning for ships hovering in gas giant atmospheres

Ships in space (ie not docked or landed) reveal Contact info if the Signal is 0+ as usual, landed or docked ships however, never reveal Contact info, either you saw nothing or you get a Tracked result.

Landed or docked Signatures

Landed side These effects only apply to the ship landed or docked.

Landed side

Atmospheres These effects apply when scanning from the planet as well as to the planet, both directions reduce the Signatures. Note also that ships landed in the Sunside of a planet with atmosphere cannot scan Visual or IR at all, radar, neutrino and mass work fine.

Landed atmosphere

Aerobrake signatures An aerobraking ship will shine brightly in both visual and infrared, the more so the faster it goes and harder it brakes, if you don’t believe me check out the video.

Aerobrake glow

Aerobrake signature

Scanning when landed or docked

Docked or landed ships are Sunside if unrolled and Darkside if rolled, if the ship you are docked to roll your ship become rolled too. Sunside can only see squares that are equal to or closer to the Sun, Darkside ships can only see squares that are farther from the sun. This mean that if the enemy cannot see you then you cannot see them either.

When the target ask Is part of your Scan blocked by the planet? You must tell him which squares that are blocked and this pretty much guarantee that he will know that you are landed and what side. To counter this avoid when Sunside and thus unrolled only scan squares that are equal or closer to the sun and when Darkside and thus rolled only scan squares that are farther from the sun. This means that you should avoid scanning boxes of the same row as you are in or only do smaller 1×1, 2×2 or 3×3 square scans.

If the planet you are landed on has an atmosphere, including when hovering in a gas giant atmosphere) the atmosphere absorption modifier is applied to your scan strength before revealing it to your opponent. That is all there is to scanning from landed or docked.

Combat between landed and space

So, one can scan for landed or docked and one can also scan when landed or docked, this inevitably lead to combat between landed / docked and those in space. Ships can only be attacked if they are tracked of course, which even simpler for docked or landed targets as they never reveal Contact info, it’s tracked or nothing.

Docked ships have the same status of thrusting or drifting as the ship docked to, landed on asteroids, planets or hovering in gas giant atmospheres are all treated as drifting. All other effects of being landed depends on the atmosphere of the planet.

Beam weapons suffer PEN and DAM reductions and negative hit DMs from the atmosphere, worse the thicker the atmosphere is and particle accelerators double these modifiers making them nearly useless in all bit the thinnest of atmospheres.

Beams through atmosphere

Missile weapons must have airframes to be used in an atmosphere at all. They have a max speed when entering or leaving an atmosphere and when entering the atmosphere their speed is reduced before determining PEN, DAM and hit DMs.

Missiles through atmosphere

Yes, these rules may rarely come up in scenario play but whenever the subject arise it’s good to have it answered. It will however crop up all the time in roleplaying situations.

Players “Can I see the smugglers ship on the runway from orbit?”

Referee Checks what signature the ship would have using these rules “Yes.”

Players “Can we shoot it?”

Referee Sighs “Eh, I guess” (watching his complicated scheme go up in smoke ‘land in jungle nearby – sneak into the smuggler ship and steal it – weird cross between a tiger an crocodile enter the cargo bay – fight ensue – smugglers alarmed – another fight – ref get to test new cover system’).

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