Transpoders

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Jak Nazryth
Lesser Spotted Mongoose
Posts: 795
Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 5:13 am

Transpoders

Postby Jak Nazryth » Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:33 pm

This is an old question, I know... and I'm pretty sure most of this is based on our current understanding of modern tansponders and little to do with actual Mongoose game mechanics...
Are the standard range tables for detection and levels of information modified at all depending on a ships transponder?
Here are some specific questions...

1 Are you automatically detected if it's on? Or is the standard "8" success role simply allow you to detect the ship, and it's transpoder? Other than the information listed on the range table, does the transpoder give you all the information about the ship anyway? "Name of ship, class of ship, owner of ship, Nation of origin?" etc..
2 Do you get "mini-stealth" if you turn off the transpoder? (as apposed to stealth coating)
3 Normally at long and extreme ranges you get minimal information, size, hull type,hot-cold, etc.., however, If your transponder is on, even at those long ranges, does the transponder give more information anyway as mentioned in question 1?
4 Will you get arrested if your transpoder is turned off?
5 If you are in "free space" outside of any national boarders, is it illegal to run without a transpoder on? As in... is there still the law of the high seas?

This issue has caused some arguments about how much is known about a ship when/if a naval vessel detects you at extreme ranges while the transpoder is off.

These questions are for MgT1 but the same questions can be for MgT2 (unless MgT2 has game mechanics that answer the above questions)

Thanks for any input.
phavoc
Cosmic Mongoose
Posts: 3942
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 6:13 pm

Re: Transpoders

Postby phavoc » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:01 pm

Jak Nazryth wrote:
Fri Aug 04, 2017 1:33 pm
This is an old question, I know... and I'm pretty sure most of this is based on our current understanding of modern tansponders and little to do with actual Mongoose game mechanics...
Are the standard range tables for detection and levels of information modified at all depending on a ships transponder?
Here are some specific questions...

1 Are you automatically detected if it's on? Or is the standard "8" success role simply allow you to detect the ship, and it's transpoder? Other than the information listed on the range table, does the transpoder give you all the information about the ship anyway? "Name of ship, class of ship, owner of ship, Nation of origin?" etc..
2 Do you get "mini-stealth" if you turn off the transpoder? (as apposed to stealth coating)
3 Normally at long and extreme ranges you get minimal information, size, hull type,hot-cold, etc.., however, If your transponder is on, even at those long ranges, does the transponder give more information anyway as mentioned in question 1?
4 Will you get arrested if your transpoder is turned off?
5 If you are in "free space" outside of any national boarders, is it illegal to run without a transpoder on? As in... is there still the law of the high seas?

This issue has caused some arguments about how much is known about a ship when/if a naval vessel detects you at extreme ranges while the transpoder is off.

These questions are for MgT1 but the same questions can be for MgT2 (unless MgT2 has game mechanics that answer the above questions)

Thanks for any input.
It would depend on your transponder settings. You have three basic settings - active, passive or off. In Active mode your transponder would continuously or intermittently transmit ship identification information. Most likely it would be set to continuous active transmission since that is the safest method and similar to what ocean-going ships do today (it's called AIS).

If you were in passive mode your transponder would only activate when it was 'pinged' by a request for data. And 'off' is pretty explanatory.

Your transponder could transmit a wealth of information, such as speed, heading, acceleration, destination, ship type, cargo type, passengers on board, port of origin, nationality, registration number. Most likely it would have other data to transmit in specific circumstances, like during a ship-declared emergency, maybe that the ship is a bio-hazard, or it's damaged and adrift, it's been attacked, etc. You really aren't necessarily limited to what you could send. The limitation would really be down to what you wanted to transmit and what you wanted to receive. Standards are very helpful, but smart enough systems would simply parse the additional data and display or record it.

I dunno about being arrested. Most merchants would want to keep it own for safety reasons. Military ships would normally keep it broadcasting in friendly space, but when they wanted to go 'dark' they would turn it off, even for training purposes.

If you were in unclaimed space there are no laws to obey, so the answer would be no to that. But if it was a lawless region I'd say you'd probably keepi toff for safety.
AnotherDilbert
Duck-Billed Mongoose
Posts: 2347
Joined: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:49 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: Transpoders

Postby AnotherDilbert » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:19 pm

We have some canon for inspiration:
Transponders are an essential piece of equipment on interstellar vessels. Sealed, tamper-proof devices, they send out an identification of the ship - its name, registry, and important statistics - when a signal is sent to the ship from an outside source. This provides a permanent and theoretically unbeatable way of registering starships.
TTA, p112.

The transponder is actually just a specialized broadcast communicator. The transponder constantly transmits the starship's identification via broadcast radio. Thus, when a ship enters a system, other vessels are automatically aware of its presence.
...
Any starship can turn off its transponder signal if it feels that such an action is warranted by the circumstances (when trying to evade pirates, for example), but to do so is risky. Most military vessels are instructed to "shoot first and ask questions later" ...
SSOM, p20.

I'm sure there is more, but this is what I could find in a few minutes. Wasn't Virus spreading through transponders?

This is for civilians, state actors do what they wish with switchable transponders. In reality transponders can be tampered with.

So,
1) Yes, you are automatically detected, at least if someone pings you.
2) No, the normal sensor rules apply.
3) Yes, you broadcast your basic statistics. Your registry id should be on file and give more information.
4) If not illegal it should be highly suspicious to turn off the transponder. Expect heavy-handed inspections.
5) Even in international space a ship is subject to the register state's laws. Imperial ships are probably obliged to have the transponder on.

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