The ability to communicate with other ships and bases is vital to starships
. The more advanced a ship's communications capabilities, the better informed its crew is, and the better they can coordinate
with other ships in the same fleet.
To build a communication system from scratch, a character must succeed at a Craft (electrical) check (DC 30) after investing a number of hours equal to the ship's Hit Dice. A character without an electrical tool
kit takes a -4 penalty on the skill check
. The character must also make a Wealth
check against the system's purchase DC
Installing a comm system requires a successful Craft (mechanical) check (DC 30) and a successful Craft (electrical) check (DC 30) after investing 30 hours. A character without a mechanical or electrical tool
kit takes a -4 penalty on the appropriate skill check
The following section describes various ship-to-ship comm. systems.
The cost of the comm system.
Internal comm systems
, though as vital as ship-to-ship communications, are not covered in depth here. Obviously, the larger a ship's crew complement, the greater its need for internal communications. The crew must stay in contact to do their jobs properly. Smaller ships can often get by with headsets jacked into the ship's network, or short-range two-way radios, or even just shouting to each other from nearby crew stations. Larger ships require a more sophisticated system.
A standard internal communication system allows twoway audio communication from any comm station to any other comm station on the same ship. An internal comm system
has a purchase DC
based on the ship's type: ultralight 13, light 16, mediumweight 19, heavy 22, superheavy 25. Increase the purchase DC
by +2 if the comm stations include video screen displays as well.
The radio transceiver can transmit on multiple frequencies in either LOS (line of sight) or omnidirectional mode, sending messages at the speed
of light. A radio transceiver can handle up to ten simultaneous two-way conversations.
This system uses a beam of coherent light to transmit messages. The laser is unidirectional; the signal cannot be intercepted or jammed unless it's beamed directly at a hostile ship or station. However, if the comm officer doesn't know exactly where the receiving station is, the laser transceiver is a waste of effort. This has some hidden drawbacks; a character cannot use the laser transceiver for a general distress call to all stations in the area, for example. A ship can't receive laser communications unless it is equipped with the transceiver.
Lasers are limited to the speed
of light (8 AU/hour), meaning it can take hours or days to get a response within a system, or even weeks to get a response at interstellar distances.
DRIVESAT COMM ARRAY (PL 7)
This massive comm array provides rapid interstellar communications. The array consists of a constellation of dozens of small transmitters that transmit and receive messages through space at faster-thanlight speeds, enabling communications with a range of 50 light-years.
The signals travel at a rate of 5 light-years per hour. Because of the need for steady signal, the ship must remain stationary to transmit and receive messages. If the ship moves while its drivesat array is transmitting or receiving, the ship's communication officer must make a Computer Use check (DC 30) to avoid losing the signal.
Only mediumweight, heavy, and superheavy ships can be equipped with a drivesat comm array.
This device can transmit instantaneously to any point in the same star system
, with no "lag" due to FTL limitations. However, its range is limited to about 1,000 AU, so the signal can't cross interstellar space.
The drive transceiver is the first interstellar comm system that's truly practical for small ships or second-rate colonies. It operates like the much larger PL 7 drivesat comm array, sending a signal up to 50 lightyears distant. The signal travels at a rate of 5 light-years per hour. The target station must also be equipped with a drive transceiver.
The ansible is a device that induces precise changes in the energy states of atomic nuclei, without regard to distance or time. In effect, it permits instantaneous interstellar communications-voice, video, or data transfer-to any other ship or station equipped with an ansible. Much like a radio, the receiving station has to be attentive
to a particular "frequency," so two ansible-equipped stations must have some prearranged communications protocols; an ansible cannot pick up any transmissions not intended for that specific frequency.
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