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NativeRigger
I'm a skydiver, parachute rigger and fledgling BASE jumper, and the rules for Parachuting in SR4 frankly make me cringe due to their inaccuracy. However, I do realize that the skill is not a central part of the game and thus not worth a significant word count. So, I tried to rewrite the rules in such a way as to fix the glaring errors and add dramatic potential without a significant increase in rules or word count. I’d appreciate any comments you guys have.




Parachuting (Agility)
The Parachuting skill is used when a character in freefall, by virtue of a an aircraft, fixed object, paracritter, magical contrivance or other means, finds themselves in need of a parachute to prevent a terminal interaction with the ground. Military Airborne personnel typically have a skill of 1 in Parachuting bolstered by the Military specialization. Elite military covert ops teams add the HALO specialization but keep their Parachuting skill low.
Default: Yes
Skill Group: None
Specializations: HALO, Military, BASE Jumping
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The first step was to alter the governing attribute to the best fit for the demands of the skill, Agility.

Recreational (skydiving) was removed from the specializations lists as skydiving is the general skill. Having Recreational as a specialization was equivalent to having the Automotive Mechanic skill with a specialization of “All things automotive?.

The Static Line specialization was changed to Military and now encompasses all “hands off? systems such as Army Airborne static line setups as well as emergency bailout parachutes like those in ejection seats.

BASE Jumping grants a parachutist the specialized knowledge involved in successfully parachuting from fixed objects.


Arsenal changes

P. 59 Parachutes:
By the 2070’s, most parachutes in service employ non-woven laminate composites and high modulus aramids, significantly reducing the bulk and weight of the complete canopy/container system. All parachutes include, as a standard feature, a digital freefall computer and barometric altimeter built into the harness, which provides the user with information on their current altitude, speed and estimated freefall time remaining. All parachutes include a second, reserve chute in case the main one should malfunction or fail to open entirely. In addition, all parachutes have an Automatic Activation Device (AAD) attached to the reserve. The AAD is a failsafe that will automatically activate the reserve if certain speed or altitude thresholds are crossed. The thresholds can be adjusted by a trained professional. The AAD can be bypassed by anyone familiar with the parachute; however, this can only be done before flight as the system is designed to be inaccessible while the parachute is being worn.

Sport: Standard sport (recreational) parachutes utilize an airfoil design, allowing users optimal maneuverability and directional control.

BASE: BASE parachutes are optimized for the low opening altitudes (below 1000 ft.) that are inherent to fixed object jumping

Round: The iconographic "parachute", rounds trade off maneuverability and control for ease of operation. This “hands off? approach makes them ideal for use those with little formal parachute training or by automated systems which explains their use by airborne paratroopers and ejection seats the world over.

HALO: HALO parachutes are designed for high altitude exits and low openings. This allows paratroopers to make covert infiltrations while their transporting aircraft remains at stand off distance. A HALO parachute’s distinguishing features are the oxygen mask and tank that allow the jumper to breathe at high altitudes and the navigation instruments that allow them to transverse the long distances inherent with HALO jumps. These systems are independent of the parachute itself and given that the delays inherent to military procurement often puts them several years behind civilian gear, savvy runners often purchase the accessories separately and mate them to a more cutting-edge Sport or BASE parachute.

Reserve: Reserve parachutes are specifically designed to open as quickly and reliably as possible. These features come at the expense of ease of use and a loss of covert ability. In order to open as reliably as possible, even in a worst-case scenario, a reserve parachute sheds its deployment system when activated. This system will land away from the parachutist and on covert missions, represents another chance for the enemy to discover the infiltration. A reserve’s specialization also affects its ease of use. A main parachute can be repacked in the field, in a few minutes, literally using nothing more than a handful of rubber bands and a piece of string. Repacking a reserve, on the other hand, requires a trained professional, specialized tools, and usually at least an hour.
----------------------------------------------------

I'm new to 4th edition, so I'm waiting for UPS to get me my GM's screen so I can get a feel for skill check modifiers. OnceI have those, I can come up with the "numbers" for gaming out a jump.

Keeping that in mind, tentatively I have a 1 free hit bonus for using the right parachute for the job and a +1 threshold penalty for using the wrong one for the job. Reserves give two free hits and rounds raise effective skill by +1 (not culmative with Reserve) if the jumper's Parachuting skill <3. For $20 Nuyen, a BASE, Sport or HALO canopy can be modified for use in another environment. The net result is that the modified parachute grants no penalty or bonus in either of the environments.

-NR
Shrike30
I've got no parachuting experience, but play a character who's base-jumping specialization just came in handy (and made great footage on the evening news). Would you have some sort of system in place (increasing penalties or Threshold for lower and lower altitude jumps) or just a hard cap regarding how low, exactly, you can base jump from?

And welcome to Dumpshock, if you haven't been welcomed already smile.gif
Crusher Bob
The problem I have with parachuting as a skill is that most (all) PCs will tend to have it at low levels, and asking them to actually roll the skill can quite often be likened to the GM asking them to make a check vs sudden death.

A system I might try to replace the skydiving/parachute skill with might look something like this:

Skill trainings:
These trainings represent things that the character is able to do, but generally do not require the multi-level variance of an actual skill. Where an element of randomness is required, the GM can ask for a roll of the characters edge.

Basic Jump training (2 karma/1 BP)
The character has trained in the basics of jumping out of an airplane. He can inspect parachutes and related gear for problems, and can use the simplest of jump harnesses (for example, static line style jumps). He is not capable of complex aerobatic manuvers either with the hute open or closed.

Equipment Drop training (2 karma/1 BP)
The character has trained in how to rig everything from pallets of equipment to light vehicles for parachute drops.

Complex Aerobatics (4 karma/2 BP)
The character has extensive training in aerobatic manuvers, this covers both things like display skydiving to the manuvers required for high-altitude jumps.

Advanced Jump training (2 karma/ 1 BP) (requires basic jump training)
The character has trained extensively with a variety of more complicated parachutes/airfoils/flying suits etc. This is the level of skill required for Base jumping, low altitude opening, long distance air sailing, etc.

So a character could have the full parachute training package for 10 karma/5 BP.

Shrike30
For really narrow field Active skills, I used to let players pick 'em up at the cost of Knowledge skills, instead. In SR4, I might apply that to Parachuting, maybe a few of the Exotic Weapon skills...
Earlydawn
Although I assumed they were fairly inaccurate, I rather liked the 3rd Edition Cannon Companion rules for airborne insertions. The only thing I would add would probably be a Tandem Jump specialization. In terms of numbers, you could make it a little more difficult to land accurately, trading off precision for the capability to ensure that a two-man team dosn't have to spend two hours trying to find each other during a time-sensitive night operation. Out of curiosity, how does the equipment change for a tandem jump, if at all?

Really looking forward to see what you come up with.
Lionhearted
Always thought it was pretty hilarious that Trolls are natural sky divers..
NativeRigger
QUOTE (Shrike30)
I've got no parachuting experience, but play a character who's base-jumping specialization just came in handy (and made great footage on the evening news). Would you have some sort of system in place (increasing penalties or Threshold for lower and lower altitude jumps) or just a hard cap regarding how low, exactly, you can base jump from?


The lowest BASE jump I know of was around 50 ft., but that was so low that the distance the canopy traveled away from the object was negligible. Ie a simple rope would have been better.

As a general rule, I think that for BASE jumps, there should be a +1 or +2 modifier due to lower margin for error and then an additional modifier that should be based off three things: the type of object, the weather conditions and the landing area (LZ). It’s also worth noting that this list essentially works for all other types jumps, you just replace “type of object? with “type of aircraft exit? (normal jump, static line, ejection seat ect.).

Object: Building and Earth (Cliff) jumps tend to be the most technical in this regards because your parachute is opening in close vicinity to the cliff or building which leaves much less time if the canopy opens going the wrong direction (there’s always some random element to which way a canopy will go on opening). Antennas are generally much easier unless you don’t have the option of jumping with the wind at your back. If you don’t then there’s the potential for the winds to blow you into the guy wires. Spans (bridges) are generally considered the easiest objects because you are below their majority of their structural elements upon opening. If there are supports, they are relatively narrow in comparison to the entire rear half of your airspace that a building or cliff occupies.

Weather: Light conditions, temperature and winds are all issues. Light levels affects depth perception and the ability to spot small obstructions such as guy wires. Temperature is important because temperature affects the density altitude which affects how hard a canopy will land you. Weather is a major issue because of wind and humidity. BASE canopies are lightly loaded in relation to other canopies and that makes them more susceptible to wind affects. Humidity is an issue because it affects density altitude.

LZ: The lz is a huge factor in any BASE jump. Most parachutists have the luxury of landing into large, unobstructed open areas where as a BASE jumper might have to land in an obstruction-littered living room sized area that’s surrounded by trees or buildings.

Once you have those modifiers assigned they should maintain relatively static unless the jumper fails a control check required to get him out of an imminent bad situation.

Ex1. Bounce Bunny is getting his weekend adrenaline fix by making a normal skydive. The weather’s great, the lz familiar and wide open, and the aircraft is one Bunny’s exited from hundreds of times before. The GM assigns a blanket 1 hit with no negative mods. He then has Bunny check against that target at exit time, during freefall, on opening, and on landing.

Ex2. Bunny bails off a the top of a building to escape a hit team. The GM assigns a +3 modifier (just an arbitrary number for this example) for the jump. Luck is not with the bunny and he fails the check which results in his canopy having an 180 degree off-heading opening which sends him straight at the building. The GM rules that Bunny has one turn to fix the situation. Bunny spends a simple action to attempt to steer away from the building. Karma is really hating on the Bunny and he fails the roll. Bunny then spends his second simple action to again attempt to maneuver away, but the GM decides that he’s close enough to the building to make avoidance that much tougher and bumps the mod to +4.


QUOTE (Crusher Bob)
The problem I have with parachuting as a skill is that most (all) PCs will tend to have it at low levels, and asking them to actually roll the skill can quite often be likened to the GM asking them to make a check vs sudden death.


I don’t want to be melodramatic or cheesy, but that is the underlying assumption with parachuting. It’s an inherently dangerous activity where the failure outcomes are highly skewed towards catastrophic consequences.

A smart jumper stacks the deck in their favor with proper gear, conditions, training and experience. A dumb jumper either gets lucky or gets broke.

The key thing to remember is that Parachuting should never be a “one chance? affair. All jumps, except BASE jumps that are stupid low, will take multiple turns to resolve. Given that virtually any in-flight interaction with a parachute is a simple action, this gives PC’s multiple opportunities to deal with issues. If all else fails, ditch the main and go to the reserve. It’s a proven fact that its easier and faster to repack a reserve than to return from the dead.

QUOTE (Early Dawn)
The only thing I would add would probably be a Tandem Jump specialization. In terms of numbers, you could make it a little more difficult to land accurately, trading off precision for the capability to ensure that a two-man team dosn't have to spend two hours trying to find each other during a time-sensitive night operation. Out of curiosity, how does the equipment change for a tandem jump, if at all?


Tandem Jumping really isn’t so much about specialization as skill level. Ie it’s all about obtaining/re-attaining/maintaining freefall stability while strapped to a large, unpredictable payload. That’s not something I can teach a low time jumper. It comes almost exclusively from the experience one accrues over hundreds of jumps. Thus, I’d treat a tandem jump as a modifier to a normal parachuting roll rather than a distinct specialization.

Also, landing accuracy isn’t something a tandem canopy sacrifices. Indeed, today’s tandem canopies are often high performance designs that cater to experienced nature of tandem instructors. A NASCAR driver wouldn’t be happy with driving a bus, and neither is your average tandem instructor. The main difference with tandem canopies arises from the fact that their controls are muscle driven and the fact that the aerodynamic forces acting on a canopy scale with size and suspended weight. The end result is a canopy which demands decent upper body strength in order to be flown well. This is something that’s shared by military HALO rigs as their canopies tend to be similar in size to tandem canopies.

Equipment-wise, a tandem setup is very similar to a sport rig. Really, there are only two main differences. First, and most obvious, is that tandem containers have attachment hardware that the passenger’s harness is connected to. Second, sport rigs use a single stage pilot chute-based deployment system for the main canopy. Ie. A small parachute is connected to the canopy via a piece of webbing called the bridle. The jumper deploys the pilot chute which falls slower then the jumper which results in the canopy being extracted from the rig as the jumper falls below the pilot chute. A tandem rig, otoh, uses a two stage system. This is done because freefall speed is based off of a weight to surface area ratio and strapping a second person to you dramatically adds to weight but only increases surface area by a relatively small amount. The result is a freefall speed that can make for dangerous openings. The two stage system counters this. The pilot (drogue) chute is oversized and then there’s a hold point added to the bridle between the pilot and the canopy. When the tandem instructor throws the pilot chute at the start of freefall, the bridle is only extracted to the hold point. This allows the oversized pilot chute to act as a drogue (brake), slowing the tandem pair down to normal freefall speeds. When it’s time to open the main parachute, the tandem instructor activates a release for the hold point. Once the bridle is released from the hold point, it and the drogue chute function exactly like a normal pilot chute deployment system.

-NR
Wounded Ronin
QUOTE (Crusher Bob @ Mar 24 2008, 03:34 AM) *
The problem I have with parachuting as a skill is that most (all) PCs will tend to have it at low levels, and asking them to actually roll the skill can quite often be likened to the GM asking them to make a check vs sudden death.


Player: I parachute out of the plane.
GM: Roll save vs. death ray.
Player: What?
Adarael
QUOTE
I don’t want to be melodramatic or cheesy, but that is the underlying assumption with parachuting. It’s an inherently dangerous activity where the failure outcomes are highly skewed towards catastrophic consequences.


The problem with this assumption is that if we are speaking of the state of technology in 2070, wherein cars drive themselves to the store and robots can seek you out and kill you given a fairly vague set of instructions and even medical care can be automated, then there is absolutely no reason to assume that parachutes cannot deploy themselves. Getting a facefull of high speed dirt when jumping in 2070 should really only be the result of catastrophic equipment failure, not the result of the jumper doing or failing to do anything. Even canopy collapse is rendered rather ho-hum by smart materials and computer control.

If anything, the parachuting skill should be primarily used to navigate in confined spaces, avoid wall impacts when BASE jumping, and to reduce scatter.
NativeRigger
QUOTE (Adarael @ Mar 24 2008, 12:43 PM) *
The problem with this assumption is that if we are speaking of the state of technology in 2070, wherein cars drive themselves to the store and robots can seek you out and kill you given a fairly vague set of instructions and even medical care can be automated, then there is absolutely no reason to assume that parachutes cannot deploy themselves.


The technology to reliably automatically deploy a parachute has been around for decades and no one here is arguing that. If you reread my o.p., you'll see that I cover AAD's which is what you are talking about. I did forget to mention that the military does occasionally put AAD's on freefall mains but this is a bad idea and is more a concession to the low skill of military jumpers (who rightfully spend the bulk on their time training for more common tasks than parachuting) than anything else.

QUOTE
Getting a facefull of high speed dirt when jumping in 2070 should really only be the result of catastrophic equipment failure, not the result of the jumper doing or failing to do anything. Even canopy collapse is rendered rather ho-hum by smart materials and computer control.


2/3rd's of all deaths in sport jumping occur with a fully functional parachute. The vast majority of the remaining third involve an open but malfucntioning canopy. People going in with nothing out is rare nowadays. Likewise, death by catastrophic gear failure is relatively rare. Going from memory, in the past five years, there were about 10 million sport jumps in the US with ~170 fatalities of which 1 was a catastrophic failure of gear and five were deaths without a parachute out, of which the corerners concluded that of that five, four had died in mid-air from strokes or heart attacks.

There is so much more to safe jumping than just getting the parachute open, and that is compounded by the fact that a parachute deployment and flight is inherently chaotic. Despite hundreds of millions of research dollars by the military-industrial complex and civilian jumpers, it has proven literally impossible to model all the potential variables. Thus even the bleeding edge technology is no better than an experienced person.

If it suits your play style to due a bit of handwaving and move on to more germane parts of the adventure, then that's fine, (I often do this with chemistry) but relatistically, this is a case where there are no silver bullets.

-NR

deek
My biggest problem is that none of the books even list a parachute as a purchasable item. How much nuyen does a parachute cost? I couldn't find it.
Siege
Ahhh, and they wonder why I don't want to go airborne.

I wouldn't worry overmuch about too many PCs taking the skill - it's usually an "all or nothing" skill. If the whole party doesn't have it at a functional level, odds are the party won't explore that as an option.

And in the grand scheme of things, not many places will even have airborne infiltration/assault as a viable option.

At which point, use dedicated drones for delivery...hmm...methinks that has potential.

-Siege
Adarael
QUOTE
If it suits your play style to due a bit of handwaving and move on to more germane parts of the adventure, then that's fine, (I often do this with chemistry) but relatistically, this is a case where there are no silver bullets.


That's fine if that's your take on it, but I'm of the opinion that the complexities of parachuting pale in comparison to the complexities of full sensory input directly to the brain. Especially given the fact that you can drop a couple of hundred and buy yourself a model aircraft which should reliably be able to engage in combat without any outside directives beyond "Kill X, Y, and Z."
NativeRigger
QUOTE (Adarael @ Mar 24 2008, 01:38 PM) *
That's fine if that's your take on it, but I'm of the opinion that the complexities of parachuting pale in comparison to the complexities of full sensory input directly to the brain. Especially given the fact that you can drop a couple of hundred and buy yourself a model aircraft which should reliably be able to engage in combat without any outside directives beyond "Kill X, Y, and Z."


I agree that there is technology out there and it should be very robust by SR's 2070, but I'd use that more for totally automated parachute equipped drones than skydiving rigs. The best AI in the world coupled to smart fabrics and pizeo-electric suspension lines won't amount to squat if you dump while unstable and wrap the bridle around your ankle or worse yet, get gift-wrapped by the canopy. OTOH, I do think that skillwires are probably pretty handy for covert ops teams. Such teams have a high incident rate when it comes to parachuting because of the demands of thier jumps versus their skill level and skill currency, and skillwires would go a long way towards covering that.

And fwiw, since I'm constantly harping on the military, I'd like to point out that I have a great deal of respect for paratroopers, just not the training system that they are saddled with. The sad fact is that a HALO certified soldier doesn't possess the skills necessary to graduate off sport parachuting student status in most parts of the world.


-NR
kzt
There is also the significant fact that as you add more electronics and "backup systems" you create new and exciting failure modes that are extremely difficult to predict and hence deal with. The example of the highly redundant parachute system that LockMart installed upside down in the StarDust probe is a pretty good example. Simple, well tested, highly reliable and straightforward approaches that can be easily verified preflight have some significant advantages if your life depends on it working.
Crusher Bob
QUOTE (NativeRigger @ Mar 25 2008, 12:24 AM) *
I don’t want to be melodramatic or cheesy, but that is the underlying assumption with parachuting. It’s an inherently dangerous activity where the failure outcomes are highly skewed towards catastrophic consequences.


Someone having 6 dice in parachuting gets no hits at all around 9% of the time.

If we make parachuting be a sudden death check, then having 9% of people die is pretty silly. That would imply that of the ~25,000 paratroopers dropped during the invasion of Normandy, we should expect roughly a whole regiment of them (2000+ guys) to have simply gone *splat*?.

If we allow a re-roll to fix things after a single no hits test, then our total chance of failure drops to around eight tenths of one percent which is hardly worth mentioning when it comes to modeling 3-6 PCs doing a jump.

So if parachuting is only one roll, it's check vs sudden death that you have something like a 10% chance of failing, and if it's more that one roll, it's you have a 10% chance of making it down with some minor complication.
Shrike30
And if you blow the reroll, you've always got burning a point of edge for a HoG... broken leg but in one piece? Sounds like a win to me...
Chrysalis
Oooh another fellow parachuter.

I find is that most game systems designers do not know the intricacies of most things. Parachuting seems to be another one.

My own experience with parachuting is me taking a Joint Services Training Course in West-End-On-Green. Loved it. Scared me silly too for the first two jumps. I still get sweaty palms from the thought.

There are numerous things that are done to make sure we jump right. Everything from being in the door to arching during free fall, and this is just on the first day. We individually and collectively assist in folding our parachutes with an instructor signing each stage of the folding. We repeat all stages of procedure until we can do it by muscle memory. I did static line parachuting.

Later on I continued with military parachuting. Both parachuting use different styles and different methods. Military parachutes do not come with control lines, you are expected to drop in a different way. Military parachutes you don't walk off the speed with. Ultimately though commercial parachutes are not designed for dropping with a combat load which can weigh up to 150kg in addition to your own body weight.

-Chrysalis
NativeRigger
QUOTE (Chrysalis @ Mar 25 2008, 05:11 AM) *
Ultimately though commercial parachutes are not designed for dropping with a combat load which can weigh up to 150kg in addition to your own body weight.


Honestly, due to the increidbly long development/adoption cycle the military uses, the military state of the art is about a decade behind. Civilian parachutes consistently outperform the military models. I own a MT-1 HALO setup and the canopies on it are 370 square feet. My personal main is a modern 269 sq. ft. high performance canopy. I'm a heavy guy and my terminal speed/weight (172 mph/350 lbs) is enough to put me well in the red zone for the MT-1, but is well within tolerances for my main.

the only place that the military canopies are superior is dedicated cargo chutes, and I suspect that has as much to do with their being virtually no civilian equivalents as anything.

-NR
Siege
Don't get me started on civilian/military technologies, implementation and relative effectiveness. sarcastic.gif

-Siege
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