Sensors and Balancing Shields

Rules Questions

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

"All sensors have a skill modifier that applies to any skill used in conjunction with them."

Does this bonus apply to a Science Officer using the Balance action? At first I thought Shields and Sensors were different systems, but the Critical Damage Effect rules state that damaged sensors impose a penalty to *all* Science Officer checks.

So, is it reasonable that if damaged sensors impose a penalty to checks made to balance shields, then undamaged sensors would grant a bonus to those checks? Provided the sensors were of a level of quality that grants bonuses, of course.

I take that line to mean that if you're performing an action that involves using sensors (which would normally mean a computers check, but might sometimes be another skill) you get to apply the bonus from sensors.

Otherwise yes, you would apply to the bonus to all computer checks, and potentially other skills if you're ever allowed to make a check involving sensors that isn't computers. Which is probably not the intention, IMO.

Also, some science officer actions specifically state that they use sensors in some manner, others do not.

Right. So at the very least the Scan and Target System actions of Starship Combat should benefit. Arguably Lock On should, as it seems to reference targeting systems (which I take as a reference to the Target System action).

But the Balance Shields action does not, and I don't see even a tenuous connection to imply it should get that bonus.

With the critical damage referencing 'sensors', then I think that applying the damage penalty to *all* science officer actions is a bit much. It should instead apply to science officer actions that use the sensors.

However, the other interpretation is that the critical damage applies to 'the computer systems that the science officer uses', and 'sensors' is just a shorter name for that. At that point having the critical damage penalty apply to all science officer actions is appropriate.

That's a fair assessment breithauptclan.

The wording is kind of fast and lose in a lot of the starship combat rules.

Personally my group has created our own house rules around Starship combat because the base rules leave some gaps in practice, or just cause some issues we didn't care for.

So in the end, just do whatever works for your group and just have the GM be consistent between what the NPC spaceship can do and what you can do.

Honestly, the DC to rebalance the shields (post FAQ change) isn't so high that you should often fail it if you have someone with full ranks in computers.

One could change the ship system name from "sensors" to "computer" and it would all work fine. It seems like they are trying to have each system correlate to affecting each role.


Then you have the Power Core/Engineer, which gives *exceptions* because they recognized that patching and hold it together shouldn't reasonably be affected by core damage.


I surmised that changing a whole system name could have much more fundamental repercussions because all of their game design philosophy is going to be based on that thing being called "sensors". Therefore I figured the path of least harm, would be to follow the Engineer example, and say "Condition applies to all science officer actions except Balance".

I thought about an exception for Improved Countermeasures, but will opt to err on the side of caution and make the least changes possible. We'll say that the particle emitters of the active scanners are also what's being used to send out scrambling interference.

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