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Old October 29 2012, 06:32 PM   #95
Crazy Eddie
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Re: Federation Law of restricting cloaking device

Timo wrote: View Post
The time it takes for your science officer to receive back the scanning pulse is...
* Buzz * Wrong. We would have accepted "minutes" or "hours" or possibly even "days." It's really just a practical limit to how close something has to be before you can scan it.

More importantly, if your ship travels considerably faster than your scanning pulse, it is nearly always more efficient to warp over to an area of interest and scan at close range anyway.

You can't have any sort of starship TV adventures with STL sensors.
Really? Because just off the top of my head I can think of at least three that DO.

The distinction you seem to desire is clearly not between STL and FTL sensors, it's between insanely fast FTL and ridiculously fast FTL.
No, it's between STL and FTL sensor devices. If I meant otherwise, I would have said as much.

If the background and scenery matters at all, it needs to be set it stone first and not shifted around all the time for writers' convenience.
That isn't so even in historical fiction: if drama so requires, it is always possible to insert a faster than usual horse messenger
Which has to be established ahead of time as an addition to the scenery. Nowhere in historical fiction do you see a messenger on a horse breaking the sound barrier just so the General can get a faster reply from his Lieutenant on the other side of town (so the rider leaves and returns in the same scene). You see that a lot in satire -- Monty Python, for example -- but not historical fiction.

The background becomes the more interesting when its dramatic role gets highlighted by an exception.
Yes, a pre-established exception that is part of the setting. What we're basically discussing is the captain of a 17th century ship who possesses a telescope that can see through walls, read body heat, detect objects on the bottom of the ocean or do whatever else the Captain wants it to do. You can either make it a gimmick that the Captain has this telescope that does practically everything (a la the Sonic Screwdriver) or you scale it back and make it a "more powerful than usual telescope."

Star Trek stories insert too many arbitrary limitations on sensor devices to take the former approach. Your sensors can scan through deflector shields, but they can't scan through magnetic fields; your sensors can track individual biosigns and tell them apart, but they can't get a transporter lock in the rain; your sensors can tell the difference between vulcans and Romulans in season 3, but can't do it in season 4.

These are problems you have when you never make up your mind what a scenery element actually does. One needs to either define its capabilities or define its limitations, but leaving it undefined invites random asspulls when the writers run out of ideas.
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