Archives of Nethys

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Chapter 2: Starship Combat / Additional Starship Options

Orbital Drops

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 48
An orbital drop is a method of sending troops or equipment to a planet’s surface from low orbit without piloting them in a shuttle or flight vehicle. There are a number of advantages to this method: speed, relative stealth, and mitigation of the risk of enemy fire taking out significant personnel or equipment with a single lucky shot.
You can use a drop pod (page 25) to land a whole squad with equipment or vehicles and provide a structure at the landing site. You can also use smaller drop pods that are just for equipment or a single occupant. Single-occupant pods are much less expensive and don’t require dedicated expansion bays. Specially trained forces can also drop without a pod, relying on fire- and crash-resistant gear to survive their journey to the surface.

Single-Occupant Drop Pods

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 49
Although drop pods (page 25) allow a squad to arrive on the surface together, single-occupant drop pods have their own advantages. The first is cost. Since they aren’t designed to survive impact, they are fairly inexpensive. They also deal less damage to the surface when they fall, and so are most appropriate for use in areas where military forces wish to secure valuable facilities without risking their destruction. Because they are also smaller, dropping many troops at once in single-occupant drop pods helps ensure that at least some of the invading force will evade surface-based weapon fire, since they’re smaller, more dispersed targets. The most common single-occupant drop pods are armor upgrades.

Personal Drop Pods

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 49
These are single-use armor upgrades that provide protection for one orbital drop. When activated, the pod forms a transparent cocoon that provides full protection from the fire damage caused by atmospheric reentry and from the bludgeoning damage of the final impact. The pods also come with thrusters that allow their users to make small maneuvers toward a chosen landing site. This allows those dropping to avoid trees or other ground-based hazards. After the drop, the burnt-out pod automatically detaches, leaving the armor upgrade slot free once more. Stealth drop pods allow users to use their Stealth skill to oppose the Perception checks of ground-based observers and sensors. Invisibility drop pods use advanced light-refraction and heat-dissipation technology to provide full invisibility during the drop.

Orbital Drops without a Pod

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 49
The dangers of an orbital drop include fire damage caused by atmospheric reentry and 20d6 bludgeoning damage from the impact at the end of the drop. This bludgeoning damage is halved in low gravity, doubled in high gravity, and tripled in extreme gravity.

Table 2–4: Atmospheric Reentry Damage

Environmental Conditions Fire Damage pre Round
Thick atmosphere 3d6
Normal atmosphere 2d6
Thin atmosphere 1d6
No atmosphere
High momentum +2d6
Average momentum +1d6
Slow momentum –1d6

Table 2–5: Personal Armor Upgrades

Upgrade Level Price Slots Armor Type Bulk
Basic drop pod 2 200 1 Any 1
Stealth drop pod 5 500 2 Any 1
Invisibility drop pod 10 3,000 2 Any 1