If you got thrown out an airlock in orbit...

Rules Questions

Sovereign Court Contributor

If I tossed your PC out an airlock in orbit, could your companions locate you? If you had a personal comm unit they could talk to you. But could they GPS in on your location? Or just listen to you as your Tier 1 armor's air ran out or you eventually began reentry and burned up?

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I believe tat there is not a "rules questions" answer to this, as rules for homing in on a personal comm unit do not exist anywhere that I've seen.

As a general discussion type answer, I'd say that if you are thrown into orbit around a planer that has a network of satellites to use for positioning, and those satellites are able to pick up comm units in orbit, rather than only responding to signals in their designated directional cone down toward the surface, you should be able to get positional data to your comm unit to send to your friends.

If there are no satellites, I would probably resolve this from the science officer making checks to try to locate the source of your cries for help, with a difficulty based on what sensors you have in your ship.

In order for their to be any tension with the situation, I would probably run it with the check representing a longer period of searching, not 6 seconds at the computer terminal. Because "I spend 2 minutes scanning and take 20" is an incredibly boring way for what could be a dramatic situation to be resolved.

I doubt a science fantasy starship has difficulty tracking the signal from a planetary range communication device. If you can talk to them, they can find you.

If you were just pushed out the airlock and the ship isn't accelerating, I don't think you would even need to call them.

Sovereign Court Contributor

I haven't seen any rules either. I'm perfectly comfortable writing rules of course.

That said, I've got a "no satellite" situation, but I should have been more clear. The airlock is on an orbital space station. And I would assume any station has sensors for detecting debris as well as to aid S&R ops.

So much incredible material in the APs it would be easy to miss something, though, right?

If... something... prevents the party from using that equipment there's always the old "triangulation" approach adding a Z-axis for 3 dimensions, I suppose.

Do you think I can convince Syrinscape to record the 24 hour panicked slow death of a companion lost in orbit who goes through all 5 stages of grief and finally suffocates with a Wilhelm scream as their air runs out? As a GM I could play that as the soundtrack for multiple sessions in the background to motivate the rest of the party to find their lost companion. *cackles evilly*

Wait. Is this thing on? Did I say that out loud?

Thanks for the input, and yes, no doubt Hammerjack, taking 20 for 2 minutes of scanning is clearly a recipe for boredom!

I don't know Garretmander, maybe. Space is vast, right? I'm thinking it becomes a question of pointing the starship sensors at the right hex. It's a little fudgey because hexes don't represent a specific distance, except to say they can fit a starship and a starship is bigger than a person in a suit. So if I point the sensors at a couple of hexes and guess correctly I'd detect the floating person. If my floating airlock victim can see the station from which they were shoved, the verbal communication could help the folks in the starship narrow it down.

But I don't see anything in the rules that state armor comes equipped with homing beacons the way it says they all come equipped with environmental protections.

*makes notes for equipment section of new book*

Agreed generally - there's no explicit rule.

If you are in a *stable* orbit, and your friends are in the ship, they can retrieve you. At worst there'd be a scanner (science) check just to see how quick it is.

If your orbit is deteriorating and speed is important, then a few rolls might add some tension to the situation.

If they weren't in the immediate area, then I'd see how long your armor/air would last. (24 hrs per battery is it? I forget)

But locating you itself is not a biggy given a ship and no interference.

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I would add that, if you *don't* have functioning comms on your suit? That makes the situation much grimmer. Your friends had better get a solid sensor lock on you quite quickly, at least enough to get a read on your exact vector. Otherwise, if your much beyond the immediate vicinity? Those sensor checks are going to be against a pretty nasty DC, since a medium humanoid is small and space is very very big.

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Well, now I've got 2 reasons to always keep my trusty fire extinguisher on me.

My team laughs at me, since there's never been a fire. How I wish I could light them on fire in space and laugh!

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Getting different pings from two satalite dishes set up on opposite sides of your ship to triangulate you is something that I think would be doable now , much less with the year two thousAAAAAAANDDD tech in the setting.

Maybe a dc 15 or 20 sciencing or computers check

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Pantshandshake wrote:

Well, now I've got 2 reasons to always keep my trusty fire extinguisher on me.

My team laughs at me, since there's never been a fire. How I wish I could light them on fire in space and laugh!

In space, no one can hear you say "I was right all along."

And now that I think about it, there's probably more than a few weapons that would act like a little reaction jet, pending the GM.


Maybe extrapolate rules from the Emergency Beacon?

Note to self: always keep an emergency beacon on hand once in a spaceship.

When you are just pushed out of an airlock of an orbiting station then locating you would be incredibly easy, assuming the others know to look for you and know which station it was.
Unless the pushing out was done by strapping you to a jetpack and fire you off you would not drift all that far from the station in the time you still have air, so your friends would just have to look for any warm object a mile or so around the station.
And detecting warm objects in space is very easy. That might not even require any check.


There are also no penalties to Perception for distance, like there were in Pathfinder, so as long as line of sight was maintained you'd just have to look out your ship's nearest window.

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Not a rules point, but just a note on orbits: Unless it's a very small planetary object, you'd have to get pushed really really hard to fall out of orbit. As an example, if you were in low earth orbit, (let's say 160km over the surface) and you wanted to decelerate your "friend" to the Karman line (where reentry happens, around 100km), you'd need to decrease their orbital velocity about 375m/s. So you'd have to push them hard enough that they'd accelerate to about 835 miles per hour in about an armslength of distance. They'd be more worried about the whole liquification thing than their eventual crispification on reentry. ;)

For the record, my math may be a bit off. I'm calculating the delta V it'd take to switch orbital altitudes and dividing by 2, assuming that the poor friend won't be circularizing at 100km. KSP, don't fail me now!

Agreed. Anyone familiar with KSP (Kerbal Space Program) has realized that being "in orbit" isn't about being high up - it's about moving really really fast. You are falling towards the planet and missing because you're going so fast. To go out of orbit, you have to "slow down" quite a lot so gravity can do its thing without you missing the planet. So If the ship is in orbit and you throw a PC out, you'll all just putter around in orbit. Of course the ship can leave, but the PC won't automatically fall out of orbit.

I mean, everyone knows that like the Earth, all planets are flat anyway. You people are just confusing the issue with your incorrect ‘orbit’ and ‘round planet’ fake science. Frankly, I’m disappointed.

Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Now your making me try to imagine how to get orbital mechanics to work when every planet, and lets say every star too, if a flat plate. . .

There's a short story by Charles Stross, called Missile Gap, that you should read, then.

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I'm fairly sure the average Starfinder (& science fantasy in general) planet is somewhere between the size of France and that of Kansas, based on the usual ranges of climate reported. There probably are some small enough for a swift kick to send you crashing out of orbit and into reentry.

Hm. I wonder if planetary mass is a stat included in Pact Worlds and if you could simulate it...

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First, you need to calculate the Bulk of a planet.

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