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Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...

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The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
...I just want to have an idea of how to run a personal stealth drop ship from low orbit.. how much such a thing would cost and about how big it would be (for purposes of running the other side should it be necessary). Okay, I will be quiet now.
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
The Doctor wrote:
...I just want to have an idea of how to run a personal stealth drop ship from low orbit.. how much such a thing would cost and about how big it would be (for purposes of running the other side should it be necessary). Okay, I will be quiet now.
I think the powers that be are kind of down on including Stealth in the game. Seem to recall there being comments to that effect in the book and/or this forum. Very easy to understand why (IMO). It complicates relatively straightforward situations for no real gain (once people know there are Stealth thingies out there, EVERYBODY will be using them, sooner or later, or be developing countermeaures). Plus there is a very real potential for a whole succession of counter-stealth and counter-counter-stealth and counter-counter-counter-Stealth nonsense (ad infinitum) to begin happening. No thanks.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
Asimovian Asimovian's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Besides, EP calls itself a hard SF game, and there is no stealth in space in hard SF.
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Physics don't allow stealth _starships_ because of thruster/engine heat and blaze, but would it not be possible for a starship to drop dispatch a shuttle that is then simply caught in a planetary gravity field, i.e. the shuttle does not use it's own engines for propulsion? Then I suppose you could coat the shuttle with metamaterials (core book p. 298) for example.
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
standard_gravity wrote:
Physics don't allow stealth _starships_ because of thruster/engine heat and blaze, but would it not be possible for a starship to drop dispatch a shuttle that is then simply caught in a planetary gravity field, i.e. the shuttle does not use it's own engines for propulsion? Then I suppose you could coat the shuttle with metamaterials (core book p. 298) for example.
A disposable drop pod / shell MIGHT be possible. Maybe. Something very small (like human-size or less) with absolutely NO power output of any kind. That means, no semsors, no comms, no propulsion. Maybe batteries or extra air for the spacesuited PC inside. All Delta-V is upon launch of the pod - and you had better pray that the trajectory calculations are spot-on, otherwise the trip might be a lot longer than planned. Or shorter, if you hit your destination faster and harder than intended. The whole idea would be to pose as a piece of debris or small asteroid (the only way I can see this working for any real length of time), but even that approach has inherent problems: First, I have absolutely no doubt that habs and colonies have defenses against unauthorized stuff getting too close. The Solar System is reconstructing after an incredibly nasty war, so of course there would be debris galore scattered around (including some dangerous and sneaky stuff - unexploded TITAN nastiness for sure) and OF COURSE people would have ways and means of dealing with it (probably from a fair distance). Second, there is the actual arrival. This is probably when the PC has to be most stealthy. If trying to land on a planet or moon, two big concerns are atmosphere and gravity. Atmosphere has its uses - one could conceivably use a aero-braking maneuver (a la '2010'), then a parachute / paraglider for the last little bit. Trouble is that, well, during aerobraking the PC is basically showing up like a shooting star over a big swathe over whatever world it is. People (and sensor systems) are going to notice. Assuming there is an atmosphere to start with, as this move will not work with a lot of places. Then, there is the whole gravity thing. Until the EP universe has developed cheap anti-gravity, and if there is no atmosphere to speak of, then our sneaky PC will need un-stealthy thrusters of some kind to actually land. ... ;) Unless, that is, he / she / it can somehow withstand an ultra-terminal velocity impact - AND do so stealthily. Third, there can be transit hazards. Space is big, damn big, so the chances of a ship coming close enough to spot a stealth pod in transit seem rather slim. On The Other Hand, the odds would increase lots when approaching or passing any area with traffic (hab groupings, for example). Plus, there are people out there who gather asteroids for processing. Could be embarassing to have your crack commando squad suddenly turned into ore. OK, these may not be insurmountable problems. But there are better alternatives. If trying to "sneak in" somewhere, it may be much simpler to find a really good Hacker who can glitch the appropriate sensors. Or some official you can bribe.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
Asimovian Asimovian's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Heinlein's Starship Troopers describes this process beautifully. In order for drop capsules to make it through enemy defenses, decoys and ablative material from the capsules are showered along the drop trajectory. A viable tactic for atmospheric bodies only, as you say. For vacuum worlds, maybe retro rockets fire in the terminal descent phase. Probably a less stealthy approach than desired, but what can you do?
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
W-e-l-l, I still think a good hacker might do more for you in that respect. Bearing in mind that you can't just send in this hypothetical stealthed pod at reentry speed, and simply hit the brakes at the last minute for a nice soft landing. Well, possibly you could, and some hardware might cope with the massive deceleration involved OK, but anybody riding in said pod would be instant goo. So, that means much slower deceleration is necessary. Which in turn means firing your thrusters much higher up, and generally spending more time "up there" doing whatever might slow you down enough for a survivable landing. Which means, most likely, that you are not very stealthy at all - there are engines going and people have extra time to notice you. Now, technological quibbles aside, the 'Starship Trooper' approach may be valid for some operations. However, this is, IMO, the exact opposite of stealth. You are definitely NOT sneaking in a small group of ... "specialists", unobserved. You are sending in a crapload of heavily armed soldiers against somebody who, it is more than likely, KNOWS you are on the way in, and is busily shooting everything up to kitchen sinks at you. The decoys are there to give the enemy more stuff to shoot at, basically trying to turn things into a shellgame - instead of every blip on the radar being an incoming MI, maybe it is only one in five (or ten, or ...). It is about giving an alerted enemy too many possible targets to adequately deal with. This COULD be done in an EP setting, I suppose, but it would alert the enemy that something significant is going on - which most covert ops try not to do until it makes no differance to the outcome.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
Asimovian Asimovian's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
7thSeaLord wrote:
Now, technological quibbles aside, the 'Starship Trooper' approach may be valid for some operations. However, this is, IMO, the exact opposite of stealth. You are definitely NOT sneaking in a small group of ... "specialists", unobserved. You are sending in a crapload of heavily armed soldiers against somebody who, it is more than likely, KNOWS you are on the way in, and is busily shooting everything up to kitchen sinks at you. The decoys are there to give the enemy more stuff to shoot at, basically trying to turn things into a shellgame - instead of every blip on the radar being an incoming MI, maybe it is only one in five (or ten, or ...). It is about giving an alerted enemy too many possible targets to adequately deal with. This COULD be done in an EP setting, I suppose, but it would alert the enemy that something significant is going on - which most covert ops try not to do until it makes no differance to the outcome.
Like I said, there ain't no stealth in space.
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Asimovian wrote:
Like I said, there ain't no stealth in space.
Ayup.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
jackgraham jackgraham's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
I've been watching the stealth discussion with some interest, and it prompted a blog post, as I think this is one area where we do need to give GMs some guidance... http://www.eclipsephase.com/get-your-stealth-or-how-can-my-firewall-team... I suspect there are some holes in the systems I'm offering, but the goal is to offer something that balances hard SF and and playability. Thing is, we do want GMs to be able to run a scenario where the PCs sneak up on a spooky isolated exhuman hab that they would no effin' way be egocasting into. Also, there will be circumstances where the opposition's sensor network has blind spots that can be exploited... Hence the guidelines provided. Feedback appreciated! (If anyone has specialist knowledge, I'm particularly interested in whether I'm getting the bit about measures for defeating radar right).
J A C K   G R A H A M :: Hooray for Earth!   http://eclipsephase.com :: twitter @jackgraham @faketsr :: Google+Jack Graham
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
A few scattered thoughts about EP's spacecraft and the operation thereof. Combat (and possible implications for tactics and design): It has been emphasized that space combat in EP is LETHAL. So, do not expect the trappings of Space Operatic settings - massive spaceships pounding away at each other and gradually wearing each other down until one or the other blows up or runs away. Fighting craft, at this stage, presumably tend towards smallish and low-cost. Sure, you could build a battlewagon bigger and meaner than anybody else's but (a) it is probably slower and at least as vulnerable as any smaller vessel, and (b) it can only be in one place at a time - a squadron of destroyers can be built and crewed with comparable effort, can be in several places at once, and is harder to kill overall. Combatants will generally try to avoid anything like a "fair fight" (a sensible precaution anyhow :) ), if just because this can mean both sides are wiped out instead of just one. Being quickest on the draw would also be significant - if you can hit the other guy before he can even fire, then winning is almost a certainty. But this is only if total surprise can be achieved - if the other guy sees your missiles incoming, he might be able to launch a braodside of his own before dying. Meaning probable mutual annihilation. It also suggests that space crews will be VERY cautious when dealing with unknowns - definitely no pulling your destroyer alongside some merchant ship that doesn't answer your calls. Instead, extensive use of automated probes and so forth for any close-range checks, then maybe boarders sent in a smaller craft. To try and beat the lethality of space combat, an obvious answer is armour. Most habitats could be considered armoured - basic "disaster-proofing" mainly, plus many are hollowed-out asteroids. For spacecraft, armour is more problematic - obviously they need some protection, if just against possible accidents and space's 'natural' conditions / occurrances . But, the more armour carried, the less of other things that can be carried, and simply having masses of armour is of doubtful value against, say, a direct hit from a nuke or a nanoswarm. So, it could be that most spacecraft don't bother with anything more than a minimal armor value. Spacecraft Weapons: I see three general classes of these. (1) Beam / Directed Energy. Call them lasers, or masers, or z-beams, or fusion guns, or whatever. Doesn't really matter - they are all about shooting energy of some kind at the target. Probably need lots of power to function, and likely to be fairly short-ranged. Some lower-powered versions could double as sensor or communications arrays. In keeping with a Larry Niven story I fondly recall (and 'The Kzinti Lesson' in general), a ship could have a really BIG beam weapon that happens to also be its main propulsion. (2) Missiles / Robotic Vehicles. Can carry a variety of warheads, and/or sensor packages. Fire And Forget, certainly, but can accept input from the ship launching them if necessary, and smart enough not to be fooled by Hollywood tricks (eg. " ... I'm gonna fly at that asteroid / mountain / enemy ship REALLY FAST, and pull away at the last second, so the missile hits them instead of me ... "). The bigger, fancier missiles may not be so different from small fighters, up to carrying weapons of their own. (3) Mass Drivers. Basically, a cannon for shooting chunks of matter at high speed. Could be some overlap with missiles here - give the projectile some degree of self-guidance and maneuver, and you get a mass driver that can literally shoot around corners or looking at it another way, a small VERY high-speed missile. Another possibility is a Mass Driver with a very high rate of fire. It spews out what amounts to a cloud of fine metallic debris, which may be enough to damage incoming missiles. Somewhat akin to the Phalanx and Goalkeeper systems used by various navies at present, or to the Sandcaster of the Traveller RPGs. Under certain circumstances, this may also be effective against other spacecraft - imagine a ship travelling at high Gs suddenly hitting a cloud of this stuff travelling in the opposite direction. May not actually kill that ship, but it won't do its exterior (and anything / anybody on it) much good at all. More to follow later. Thoughts on Spacecraft Command and Control, and on possible missile warheads.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
OK, me again. Spaceship C&C: Another Space Operatic convention is the spacious (and vulnerable) bridge / control centre, where the Captain and most of his / her / its staff gather to control all of the ship's functions. In EP, it is stated that most, if not all, ship functions are handled via its installed AI. In theory, the AI could probably handle everything by itself, but having a transhuman crew to make key decisions and occasionally override the AI is probably a wise precaution. No need for a big fancy control centre (or two), since crew should be able to access most ship functions via the AI and their own Mesh Inserts or Ectos from just about anywhere onboard (and possibly even from outside, if close enough). Naturally, some security is needed to prevent just anybody from messing about with ship functions. As an added precaution, most ships would have at least a couple of "Control Nodes" (shuttles, landers and fighters would each have one - the cockpit or flight deck). In general, these Control Nodes would house manual controls for basic ship functions (probably a necessity for ships run by, say, the Jovian Junta). Depending on the ship designer's level of caution / paranoia, a ship's Control Node may also have superior protection (if just against radiation and/or direct access), serve as a "panic room" / "refuge area" for crew in shipboard emergencies, and may even be an ejectable escape pod / lifeboat. Actually, all of these seem to me like reasonable and very logical features under the circumstances.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Missile Warheads: Explosive - The default. Something that may be as easy to jury-build yourself as find a suitable nanofabber program. Nuke - Lots more punch, but much harder to get. Possible variants include Enhanced Radiation (Neutron Bomb), EMP, and X-ray laser. Nanoswarm - Splash your target with these little b####rds, then wait for disassembly. Possible variants involve messing with the swarm's programming - target specific systems or areas, a deadman switch or timer ("You might kill me, but then my nanos will DESTROY you!"), or input codes for activation and/or deactivation. To get inventively nasty, the nanoswarm goes for your foe's comm or sensor arrays, then uses these to input a virus direct to that ship's AI. Possible tactic for various fields of endeavour is to splash your target with preprogrammed inactive nanos, then threaten to activate them unless certain demands are met. Boarder Pod - If you have a big enough missile, then how about using it to deliver something like a Reaper or a Novacrab? Said passenger then can happily wander around the target exterior, doing whatever nastiness you can think up. Kinetic Kill - Not likely to be very effective against a maneuvering ship, but against something on a planet surface or in a set orbit, it could be amazingly lethal. The missile deploys several "javelins" (same shape, but made of some tough and very dense material). Taking into account favourable trajectories and relative velocities, and assuming that the targetting is any good , the amount of damage that these could do to a hab or a planetary installation (even one set well underground) should be substantial. When incoming, should be much much harder to detect and intercept than a more conventional missile.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
It that must no... It that must not be named's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Actually spacecraft combat can be realistic and still dramatic. The spacecraft combat game "Attack vector: Tactical" features extremely realistic space combat that still manages to be a good game if you like extreme detail and realism.

"I learned the hard way that if you take a stand on any issue, no matter how insignificant, people will line up around the block to kick your ass over it." -Jesse "the mind" Ventura.

Octomorph Octomorph's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Unfortunately, I don't think AV:T or its' successor, Squadron Strike, really lend themselves well to playing out roleplaying battles (too much math/detail) . You either need to go with the descriptive/cinematic format, or use something like the Mayday system from classic Traveller (fairly simple vector based movement) or Brilliant Lances from Traveller: the New Era, although you would need to scale velocities and ranges down substantially for the EP level of technology.
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
OK, obviously I'm a bit late to the party here. I'm just gonna throw my two cents in and duck. There is certainly plenty of space travel going on in Eclipse Phase. There are asteroids slinging around Jupiter on their way to the outer system, scum barge circuses, blockade runners diving into Earth's atmosphere or any number of other things. Want to find out what's in Zbrny Group's stations? You're going to have to fly there. With that said, here's a few observations. Nanotech produces a wonderful standard of living for most people but in reality, most of orbital society is fairly resource poor. Unlike life on earth, consumables aren't just lying around on the ground. Each colony tends to have a particular type of resource in abundance: ferrous minerals on asteroids, hydrocarbons on Titan, water on Europe etc. Everything else has to be imported at vast expense. Even building a 200 square meter compartment for someone to live in represents a notable expense (use of resources) on a colony's balance sheet. To me, the logical upshot of this is that ships are extremely utilitarian. They're no more comfortable than anything NASA makes and they use the absolute minimum resources possible to get the job done. That means any ship not carrying a large amount of living cargo goes as slow as is economically practical to save on fuel. Ones that carry people, who use consumables, will move at a speed that balances consumables by the passengers and fuel consumption. The second point is that space is HUGE. The only place two ships are likely to run into each other is either very close to their departure zone or very close to their arrival zone. These areas tend to be defended better than any ship can be built to fight through. You may outrun the killsats, but you're not going to blast them. Based on the above two points, it is possible to deliberately interdict a ship. On a practical level, the prospective pilot needs to know the launch time, orbital trajectory and velocity of a ship (or asteroid or whatever) because the trajectory of a trade route moves regularly. At that point its easy enough to calculate your own ballistic trajectory to intercept. This gives basically two options. 1. Throw a big rock really fast and break the ship. From a Game mechanics standpoint this is two rolls maximum. One to detect the big rock on sensors. One to dodge it. Since most GM's wouldn't want to say "you get hit a 100 tonn Tungsten rod, you all die", failing to dodge leads to various Apollo 13-esque drama. 2. Take the ship. After all, ships are expensive. Even historical pirates preferred taking a prize to burning it. While the actual techniques involved could be quite elaborate, it again comes down to "see it, dodge it". Either the pirates can dock and cut their way in before they urn out of fuel to maneuver, or they can't. If they do, its chaos in the halls as security fights to repel them. Pirates are going to go for the highest value, least risky targets. Generally that would be automated asteroid slingers. For most other ships, intra-system travel is safer than any form of transit on Earth. You're less likely to encounter something requiring weapons and armor in space than you are on the US Interstate Highway system. Assuming everyone has good insurance, the relative rarity of pirate attacks precludes the expense of designing vessels for combat. The big exception would be a full military assault on a colony. If the Planetary Consortium comes for Titan, they would have to build a fleet capable of punching through the killsats and mounting an invasion. So in EP, you have three types of "ship combat". Getting hit by a big rock. Getting boarded by pirates. Colonial assault, either all out war or trying to run a blockade of killsats. Personally, I think these all qualify as a plot device and I agree that they're better narrated with the possibility of a few rolls. Success or failure may lead to escape or being trapped on a dying, out of control ship, but I see little need for the kind of detail applied to the personal combat system. * * * As a side note, the travel time issue is an interesting one. However, unless someone researches the different types of drives, their theoretical maximum speeds, practical accelleration/deceleration and wants to work out distances between planets it seems like something the GM just has to ballpark.
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Zophiel wrote:
So in EP, you have three types of "ship combat". Getting hit by a big rock. Getting boarded by pirates. Colonial assault, either all out war or trying to run a blockade of killsats. Personally, I think these all qualify as a plot device and I agree that they're better narrated with the possibility of a few rolls. Success or failure may lead to escape or being trapped on a dying, out of control ship, but I see little need for the kind of detail applied to the personal combat system..
While I'm fairly onboard with a lot of what you say, I think this part is over-simplifying the possibilities. How about, instead of one big rock, SEVERAL lesser rocks, or a pattern of "javelins", or something like a minefield? Yes, I know. Space is huge, suggesting that there would have to be a buttload of mines and/or each of them would have to be a nuke (or carry a bunch of long-rabge missiles) to be effective. But there could be times and situations where something like this would be worth a try. There are also a great many lesser habs and worlds around the place, any of which may be a stop/start point for a ship, and not all of which may be as secure as one of the larger / well-defended places. I tend to agree with emphasizing EP space travel / combat as plot device rather than full-on-all-you-can-eat-combat-simulation, but there is a need for internal consistency here - specifics as to what is or isn't possible, what is or isn't the standard (or polite, or sensible) way of doing things, and so on.
Zophiel wrote:
As a side note, the travel time issue is an interesting one. However, unless someone researches the different types of drives, their theoretical maximum speeds, practical accelleration/deceleration and wants to work out distances between planets it seems like something the GM just has to ballpark.
Ballpark, certainly. But (IMO) it would be VERY helpful to have even a vague notion as to which state the said ballpark is actually in.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
7thSeaLord][quote=Zophiel wrote:
So in EP, you have three types of "ship combat". While I'm fairly onboard with a lot of what you say, I think this part is over-simplifying the possibilities. How about, instead of one big rock, SEVERAL lesser rocks, or a pattern of "javelins", or something like a minefield? Yes, I know. Space is huge, suggesting that there would have to be a buttload of mines and/or each of them would have to be a nuke (or carry a bunch of long-rabge missiles) to be effective. But there could be times and situations where something like this would be worth a try. There are also a great many lesser habs and worlds around the place, any of which may be a stop/start point for a ship, and not all of which may be as secure as one of the larger / well-defended places.
OK, purely onto brainstorming adventure ideas in response. . . To me it all comes down to resources. The big trick to being an EP pirate compared to a pirate on Earth is that trade routes change day by day based on the varying orbits of two points. So in the end you have to know the flight path of a given ship to have a remote chance of ambushing it en route. Once you have that its a question of maximum damage for minimum resources. Your minefield idea isn't bad, in that building an AI equipped killsat and placing it on that flight path is fairly easy once you have the path itself. If you just want to kill a ship and you have the intel (and blueprints), fabricating a handful of disposable missile launchers and dumping them wouldn't be too hard. Of course, if you could do that, why not drop a much smaller satellite with a beta fork or ten of yourself to remote hack the ship? No damage to your prize, much cheaper for resources. If it fails, you can detonate the hacking sat and blame the TITANS. I think my main concern with deep space combat is that ships are going to be largely fuel to begin with. You want to accelerate to and decelerate from the maximum burn velocity as quickly as possible. Maybe 10-20% of the fuel load is saved for emergencies and maneuvering. An attack ship would get one shot at very high speed before they're committed to either docking with the target or continuing on their way. No one wants to get stuck without a prize at .01c headed in the wrong direction.
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
I agree that swashbuckling pirates are things of the past. The high risk and cost involved rarely makes it worthwhile. However (and this is most relevant to EP Firewall campaigns), I think it is still used in top of the line secret operations, for sabotage, capturing intel/technology and the like. That is, in operations where the "pirates" have a lot of resources and cost is not really an issue. This also includes I guess high-flying criminal operations. The point here - and in Zophiel's posts - is that intelligence is the key. You have to know where to strike. And only intelligence organisations and similar well-funded and well-organised institutions will have regular access to such intel (and to spaceships!). However, there will be exceptions. For example, in my nascent EP campaign one of the PCs have more or less inadvertently come across top-secret ComEx flight schedules detailing certain logistics routes to and from Mars. The PC in question is somewhat criminal-minded and is presently hatching plans on how to capitalise on this info. Other than selling it, he is thinking that perhaps he can use it to divert a couple of automated AI operated supply ships to a destination of his choice, and reap the rewards. Little does he know that ComEx / Direct Action are close on his heels :)
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
I think proper deep space combat will tend to be the exception in the EP 'verse rather than the rule. As with historical naval battles - most of the really major actions (and a lot of the minors) have centered around points that were either fixed (bases, "bottlenecks", etc.) or moving slowly on a predictable route (convoys, invasion fleets, etc.). Even the famous carrier battles of the Pacific War tended to emphasize defending or attacking specific land targets. When you get down to it, there are very few instances of opposing fleets just happening to find each other in mid-ocean. Not to say it couldn't possibly happen (Never Say Never) but, as then, the emphasis in space would be on the protection (or neutralization) of specific "islands" and keeping a close watch on the approaches to same. With the added complication, as has already been said, that all of these particular islands are moving (albeit on very predictable paths), and the distances / volumes involved are enormous. ... And yeah, intelligence is key.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
The Sandman The Sandman's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
One big thing: with the exception of the Jovian Junta, most of the people building warships probably aren't going to be putting morphs on them at all. Just drop the egos of your transhuman AI minders into your warship and send it on its merry way, less the expense and difficulty of keeping fragile meatbags alive. Put a few fully robotic morphs in alcoves for repair purposes if necessary, and probably a few nanoswarm hives for more delicate or small-scale work, but otherwise as little in the way of internal spaces at all. The only type of military vehicle where it seems reasonable to have crew on board is an honest-to-god troop transport, and unless you're either foolhardy or badly pressed for time there's no good reason to have them arrive (or possibly even to launch them, depending on just how far they have to go) until after you would have already gained control of local space and suppressed your enemy's anti-ship defenses. Also, there is one utterly crazy method of getting stealth in space (strategically; tactically it's still impossible but if you get your surprise right then it won't matter): find a sufficiently dirty comet and land a set of bots on it with a cornucopia machine, a farcaster, and probably a bit of extra feedstock and then gently nudge it in the direction you want. The farcaster is so that you can send blueprints and technological developments along to your little surprise to make sure that they don't fall too far behind the opposing forces to be useful once they finally get to their destination. Because these troops are taking the slow boat; it may literally be years before they get close enough to their target to attack, but when they do their opponent won't see it coming until it's already in their base, killing their dudes. You might be able to speed the process up a bit if you mount the facility on something big enough that you can shield its IR signature from the target with the bulk of your transport asteroid, but that won't work once you reach a point where at least one sensor somewhere in the Solar System can see you; even if your target can't actually see you themselves, they'll be able to find out from elsewhere in the system that something is coming. It also means that you're going to have to find some to reorient yourself and slow down, which again means detection; if you're actually aimed directly at your target, and coming in at high speed, then somebody's going to come out to point you away from it even if they don't realize that it has your base on it. However, there is another option, unless I'm very wrong about how gravity and momentum transfers work: launch a whole spray of comets out of the Oort cloud and then use the gravity shuffle. Have the initial launch be as close to c as possible, then have the one comet you put your base on use the other comets to correct its trajectory and kill its speed before arriving at the target. The calculations would of course be obscenely difficult, but probably doable with the tech level we're playing with here. And even in Eclipse Phase I don't think that the Oort Cloud is going to have been explored thoroughly enough that anyone is going to realize that something's going on until the comets start getting close to the plane of the ecliptic. Plus, even once they notice the comets, it'll still seem like a weird but natural event if you planned things right; lots of extremely low-reflectivity bodies moving unpowered after the initial acceleration means that enough of the comets should go undetected that it won't be possible to realize your trick to put one comet exactly where you needed it to go.
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
The Sandman wrote:
One big thing: with the exception of the Jovian Junta, most of the people building warships probably aren't going to be putting morphs on them at all. Just drop the egos of your transhuman AI minders into your warship and send it on its merry way, less the expense and difficulty of keeping fragile meatbags alive. Put a few fully robotic morphs in alcoves for repair purposes if necessary, and probably a few nanoswarm hives for more delicate or small-scale work, but otherwise as little in the way of internal spaces at all.
Seems very logical. But the impression I get is that, thanks to the TITANs, a lot of people may be very uncomfortable about putting a lot of firepower solely under AI control - and not just the Jovians. Then, there is also the possibility (however remote) of some top-flight hacker getting in and taking control. So, I think at least a few "regular folks" would be included in warship crews, if just as a fail-safe.
The Sandman wrote:
The only type of military vehicle where it seems reasonable to have crew on board is an honest-to-god troop transport, and unless you're either foolhardy or badly pressed for time there's no good reason to have them arrive (or possibly even to launch them, depending on just how far they have to go) until after you would have already gained control of local space and suppressed your enemy's anti-ship defenses.
... Unless what you have in mind is some hit-and-run deal (like a raid), and you have neither time nor resources to sanitize the region first. Not every attack would necessarily be a full-on invasion - sometimes, it might just be about hitting something important of the enemy's , or simply demonstrating that you can do so (and thereby force the enemy to garrison that area against repeat attacks).
The Sandman wrote:
Also, there is one utterly crazy method of getting stealth in space (strategically; tactically it's still impossible but if you get your surprise right then it won't matter): find a sufficiently dirty comet and land a set of bots on it with a cornucopia machine, a farcaster, and probably a bit of extra feedstock and then gently nudge it in the direction you want. The farcaster is so that you can send blueprints and technological developments along to your little surprise to make sure that they don't fall too far behind the opposing forces to be useful once they finally get to their destination. Because these troops are taking the slow boat; it may literally be years before they get close enough to their target to attack, but when they do their opponent won't see it coming until it's already in their base, killing their dudes.
Not saying an idea like this wouldn't work, but it is extremely long-term. The longer this operation takes, the better the chances that the details leak to the wrong people, or that some bunch of shmos stumble on the whole thing by accident, or the political situation alters so radically that this undertaking becomes either pointless or even counter-productive. And the troops STILL have to get from their comet base to the actual target. Those last few hundred klicks (minimum!) are usually the worst. Though, thinking on it, something like this could function as a deterrent, rather like during the Cold War. There are various political entities in EP that really do not like or trust each other very much, and it is conceivable that some might have something like this on stand-by, as a kind of "ace-in-the-hole" if things get nasty.
The Sandman wrote:
You might be able to speed the process up a bit if you mount the facility on something big enough that you can shield its IR signature from the target with the bulk of your transport asteroid, but that won't work once you reach a point where at least one sensor somewhere in the Solar System can see you; even if your target can't actually see you themselves, they'll be able to find out from elsewhere in the system that something is coming. It also means that you're going to have to find some to reorient yourself and slow down, which again means detection; if you're actually aimed directly at your target, and coming in at high speed, then somebody's going to come out to point you away from it even if they don't realize that it has your base on it.
If it is big, it is much easier to detect, and if it is heading insystem at (comparitively) high speed, then a lot of people will take notice for various reasons. Could the TITANs be coming back, or is it some smeghead with another doomsday machine? Can't believe something like that is going to be ignored or filed away as Someone Else's Problem.
The Sandman wrote:
However, there is another option, unless I'm very wrong about how gravity and momentum transfers work: launch a whole spray of comets out of the Oort cloud and then use the gravity shuffle. Have the initial launch be as close to c as possible, then have the one comet you put your base on use the other comets to correct its trajectory and kill its speed before arriving at the target. The calculations would of course be obscenely difficult, but probably doable with the tech level we're playing with here. And even in Eclipse Phase I don't think that the Oort Cloud is going to have been explored thoroughly enough that anyone is going to realize that something's going on until the comets start getting close to the plane of the ecliptic. Plus, even once they notice the comets, it'll still seem like a weird but natural event if you planned things right; lots of extremely low-reflectivity bodies moving unpowered after the initial acceleration means that enough of the comets should go undetected that it won't be possible to realize your trick to put one comet exactly where you needed it to go.
In astronomical terms, comets are tiny and have minimal gravity. The only way I see them having any significant effects on each other gravitationally is if they are BIG and travelling in close formation, literally within stone-throwing range of each other. And, quite apart from the major control / navigational issues, it will be dern near impossible to pass this off as a natural phenomenon.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
OneTrikPony OneTrikPony's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Aaghhh! There's a comet comeing right at us, (in two years)! Hurry SHOOT IT! Or. Aaghhh! There's a comet comeing right at us, (in two years)! Bonus! Free commet. I hereby claim this commet for Extropia. A couple of Stratigic points. 1. I can't think of any scenario for extra-orbital conflict. Pirates try to capture millitary shipments of anti-mater fuel or rockets might be an exception. (there's literaly nothing else worth burning the fuel for.) 2. So all potential conflict happens within the 150,000,000 km envelope of a planet or habitat mentioned on page 283. 3. there's no scenario in which it's not silly to actually spend the time on the ship traveling the distance. Send your morph and farcast in when you get close. Even the ship's crew only needs to be there sometimes. The ship has to have a farcaster anyhow. 4. So millitary organizations stage dead fleets near areas where they might be used and cast the apropriate personel/troops in as needed. Combatants can be at a conflict site within 24 hours. 5. Titanians, Jovans, Extropians, Locus (kindof), Venusians (maybe), Direct Action, and Gorgon Defence are the only standing millitary forces. 6. Building a fleet with interplanetary strike capability is as dificult to hide as hiding the armada in transit. So no new players are going to arise and after the failed attacks on Locus the current detant should stand for the forseeable future So Stratigicly there's a low probablility of any large battle happening. Which only leaves small tactical obital engagements. And those are pretty easily handled by the rules allready in the book (See "bots and Vehicles" pp. 195-196, "Rocket Buggy" pp. 343, "Personal Vehicles" pp. 345, "Spacecraft" pp. 347) For those who argue for space conflict rules: What [i][u]exactly[/u][/i] are you missing?

Mea Culpa: My mode of speech can make others feel uninvited to argue or participate. This is the EXACT opposite of what I intend when I post.

It that must no... It that must not be named's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
OneTrikPony wrote:
For those who argue for space conflict rules: What [i][u]exactly[/u][/i] are you missing?
Well, for one thing there's space piracy. I mean, suppose the jovians pull a really shitty stunt on someone, and that faction decides to seize a junta vessel as reparation? Nuking it's not an option as you want the cargo intact, not scattered ions. So you gotta board and seize the vessel. Remember star wars? That star destroyer could have easily vaped Leia's blockade runner but needed it intact to see if the death star plans were aboard. So just because you can nuke a vessel doesn't mean it's a viable course. Also, just because you can build and use a nuke doesn't mean you won't suffer repercussions. Shooting a guy because he robbed or cheated you may be acceptable in a libertarian habitat, but taking out his home with a WMD will have your libertarian neighbors making you the GoH at a necktie party. Space combat, ran right, can be a fun part of a RPG. I recently played in a SFRPG at a convention where the players were sent to take possession of a small warship that had been built for their polity and of course had to use it right away on an unexpected mission. The whole damn game was basically a ship combat/boarding action, and it was fun even for me, and I was playing a technician who had to operate the scanners. Done right, this sort of thing is as fun as any RPG activity.

"I learned the hard way that if you take a stand on any issue, no matter how insignificant, people will line up around the block to kick your ass over it." -Jesse "the mind" Ventura.

Nemo30 Nemo30's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
First let me say that I'm deeply impressed with Eclipse Phase, which defied my assumptions. As a strong advocate of fluff-based roleplaying, I was initially put off by the number of charts and tables, and by the superficial resemblance the book has to "Shadowrun." However, the ideas put forth in the book are elaborate and open-ended, and the writers gave enough detail in just the right places. The game has a very intricate and even poetic core. That being said, Eclipse Phase is still obviously, mechanically, a reasonably crunchy game. On top of its explicit rules system, you are playing in a setting that utilizes almost every currently-popular meme of future-science. Based on the posts in this forum, it seems that EP has attracted some of the crunchier roleplayers who expect elegant rule systems to describe any imaginable scenario. Before "Star Wars," space sci-fi was mostly devoid of dogfights and battlecruisers. Lucas based the space battle of Episode IV on footage of WWII Pacific theatre bombing runs. Early "Star Trek" had space battles, but they were slow; basically submarine warfare. Starfighter and ship-to-ship combat are now almost unavoidable tropes in any Sci Fi space story.
"The greater its height grows, the more the danger of a landslide looms: a tin can, an old tire, an unraveled wine flask, if it rolls towards Leonia, is enough to bring with it an avalanche of unmated shoes, calendars of bygone years, withered flowers, su
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
OneTrikPony wrote:
Aaghhh! There's a comet comeing right at us, (in two years)! Hurry SHOOT IT! Or. Aaghhh! There's a comet comeing right at us, (in two years)! Bonus! Free commet. I hereby claim this commet for Extropia.
W-e-l-l, given the degree of paranoia about TITANs, it seems likely that people might be extra-cautious about anomalies - like strange comets unexpectedly coming insystem out of nowhere. Yeah, sure, if our comet takes two years to become a worry, then that might lower the urgency factor somewhat. ON THE OTHER HAND, supposing that the TITANs (using a just-mentioned idea, for argument's sake) had loaded said comet up with cornucopia machines and a stockpile of raw materials, to create an attack force on the way in? Assuming two-plus years of uninterrupted production, that could amount to something pretty durn scary. Firewall and/or Project Ozma, at the very least, might want to do some checking early on, just in case. Also, IF anyone wants to alter the comet's trajectory (to move it someplace where it can be more easily mined, and/or to prevent it hitting something it shouldn't), basically the sooner the better. Plant your flag and get started. If you sit back and wait for a while, then (a) it may require more effort to shift the comet's trajectory to something suiting your purposes (not-so-good); and (b) some other greedy s.o.b. might claim the comet first (terrible).
OneTrikPony wrote:
A couple of Stratigic points. 1. I can't think of any scenario for extra-orbital conflict. Pirates try to capture millitary shipments of anti-mater fuel or rockets might be an exception. (there's literaly nothing else worth burning the fuel for.)
Unlikely as things stand, I agree, but this is not to say it cannot happen.
OneTrikPony wrote:
2. So all potential conflict happens within the 150,000,000 km envelope of a planet or habitat mentioned on page 283.
In a previous post, I did suggest that deep space engagements were likely to be very rare. But, I am also a firm believer in "Never Say Never".
OneTrikPony wrote:
3. there's no scenario in which it's not silly to actually spend the time on the ship traveling the distance. Send your morph and farcast in when you get close. Even the ship's crew only needs to be there sometimes. The ship has to have a farcaster anyhow.
An interesting idea. But having at least a skeleton crew on an ongoing basis would be a sensibly cautious move. Just in case.
OneTrikPony wrote:
4. So millitary organizations stage dead fleets near areas where they might be used and cast the apropriate personel/troops in as needed. Combatants can be at a conflict site within 24 hours.
Once again, having at least some personnel onboard continuously would seem sensible.
OneTrikPony wrote:
5. Titanians, Jovans, Extropians, Locus (kindof), Venusians (maybe), Direct Action, and Gorgon Defence are the only standing millitary forces.
;) That are known of ... Plus the maybes - the TITANs and any other bunch "out there". The Factors seem harmless enough, but are they really? And who might come visiting next? ... And all that uncertainty makes people nervous. Nervous people are much more likely to sleep with guns under their pillows and (at the very least, when applicable) push for more ... miLitary and otherwise stratEgic spending by their leadership.
OneTrikPony wrote:
6. Building a fleet with interplanetary strike capability is as dificult to hide as hiding the armada in transit. So no new players are going to arise and after the failed attacks on Locus the current detant should stand for the forseeable future
Maybe. But consider my previous remark. More to the point, I wish I had a dollar for every time in military history that an alleged "expert" pronounced a threat to be impossible or too far off (time or space) to be of immediate concern - only to get a very nasty surprise in extremely short order. In war, deciding that something cannot be done only works when everyone on the other side believes this too.
OneTrikPony wrote:
So Stratigicly there's a low probablility of any large battle happening. Which only leaves small tactical obital engagements.
Extremely low probability, * As Things Stand *, yes. But this is supposed to be a time when serious stuff is happening and major changes made on an ongoing, almost daily, basis. Who is to say which paradigm will shift next?
OneTrikPony wrote:
And those are pretty easily handled by the rules allready in the book (See "bots and Vehicles" pp. 195-196, "Rocket Buggy" pp. 343, "Personal Vehicles" pp. 345, "Spacecraft" pp. 347) For those who argue for space conflict rules: What [i][u]exactly[/u][/i] are you missing?
Hm. For me, it is not really about space combat, it is everything else to do with spacecraft: # What I am missing are specifics on what the various spacecraft, in fact, look like (inside and out) and can do. (For example, which craft can actually enter atmosphere? There are a few that we are told can, several that presumably cannot, and others where this is unclear. What about worlds / moons without atmosphere - which spacecraft can land there? How many people can live, and under what conditions, in each of the four passenger compartments mentioned for the Standard Transport?) # What I am missing are specifics on what typical (and not-so-typical) space travel is like, and how long it takes. (On a related note, what do things like booking passage, customs inspections, internal security and cargo-shipments typically entail in EP?) # What I am missing are specifics on what is needed to crew and operate a spacecraft. (Player-Characters ALWAYS want to know this. Always. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, in ANY "space" game, they at least consider getting a ship of their own. Groups are known to luck out and "acquire" a ship by default - by defeating (probably killing) the previous owner of said vessel. OR, there is the old-fashioned method of simply amassing and expending a buttload of cash / influence to buy / lease/ hire one. Or, they might just happen to steal or "borrow" one at some point. None of these are impossibilities in EP, for certain.) There are probably a few other things I can't think of at short notice, but the above are biggies for me. Plus, I am sure others have their own "What I am missing ..." lists as well. ;) In short, framework is what I am interested in, not a reprise of Starfire or SFB or AV or Mayday or whatever. Just specifics on how certain things are supposed to work.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Worth a look - Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design: http://spacecraft.ssl.umd.edu/old_site/academics/akins_laws.html
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
Karri Karri's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Although it's not a priority for me, I do think some rules for space combat would be nice. Our group was talking about characters and concepts, and when one asked "What do we need?" the first word out of everyone's mouth was "pilot." Regarding stealth systems, I'm a little iffy on those too, although I could see situations where tactics, not gear, would allow some stealth to be used. David Weber fairly often has Honor Harrington, for example, power down her ship, which leaves her effectively invisible to an enemy that doesn't expect her. If one was actively scanning for a powered down ship, they'd find her. If not, she has a chance to get in a really good shot - and she'd better make it count, or they'll take her out while her defenses are still down.
CynicalRyan CynicalRyan's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Karri wrote:
Regarding stealth systems, I'm a little iffy on those too, although I could see situations where tactics, not gear, would allow some stealth to be used. David Weber fairly often has Honor Harrington, for example, power down her ship, which leaves her effectively invisible to an enemy that doesn't expect her. If one was actively scanning for a powered down ship, they'd find her. If not, she has a chance to get in a really good shot - and she'd better make it count, or they'll take her out while her defenses are still down.
Much as I like the Honor Harrington series, it's still impossible. Why? First, a space ship provides life support for its crew, which produces energy. Since there is no perfect conversion of energy from one form into another, you produce excess heat. (See Laws of Thermodynamics) Second, interplanetary distances are long. Ridiculously long. Apollo 11 spent a week traveling from Earth to its Moon. That means that, with realistic speeds, you have to keep life support running at least some of the time, otherwise the crew will either starve, suffocate, or freeze to death. (See Wikipedia on the Apollo 11 mission) Third, space's average temperature is 2.725 Kelvin. That's About -454 degrees Fahrenheit, or about -270 degrees Celsius. (See The Straight Dope) The comfortable temperature for humans is about 25 degrees Celsius, or about 77 degrees Fahrenheit. Let's assume morphs can function at 0 degrees Celsius, or about 32 degrees Fahrenheit. So, in an ideal-ish scenario, a space ship stands out like a sore thumb on heat sensors. The only advantage is, that infrared radiation travels at lightspeed, so it'll take a few minutes for sensors to pick this up. Unfortunately, that's way faster than a space ship can ever travel (Thanks for that, Einstein and your stupid theories of relativity!). In a nutshell, stealth in space is absolutely, 100% impossible. Physical laws are absolute, no fudging possible. As for space combat: Whether at long range or at short range, is a one-hit event, unless you trade speedy travel for armor (armor means mass, mass means either larger engines, and thus more fuel for the same acceleration, or slower travel time, but still more fuel, since you have to overcome more inertia due to higher mass). Outside of dedicated warships (which PC is gonna get one of those things?), you won't find bulkhead construction beyond what's necessary (atmospheric seals, in case a micro-meteorite ruptures the hull, and that doesn't need much, compared what's necessary to prevent a kinetic projectile at 30% c to go through the whole space ship). That results in your average surface shuttle being torn to cinders. This is also related to construction: If the shuttle is capable of landing on, and leaving a planet's gravity well, you cannot build it with a lot of mass (fuel, engine power, and aerodynamics if there's an atmosphere are very limiting factors, just ask the JPL about the space shuttle). Little mass means no armor, means a soda can can wreck a shuttle, as long as the soda can reaches relativistic speeds. Regarding travel times: Take the Firefly/Serenity approach, since you do not *want* to bother with orbital mechanics, and have a space ship travel at the speed of plot across long distances. Just keep in mind, you cannot travel in a straight line (since planets move, and you want to be as economical as possible, and thus use gravity slingshots for acceleration to save fuel). As a ballpark figure: with current propulsion systems, it takes 260 days to get from Earth to Mars, if, and only if, Earth and Mars are closest to each other (every 1.6 years). Long story short: Physics utterly blow. ;) For more than you ever wanted to know about space travel, check out [url]http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/index.html[/url]. Beware: It will suck all the fun out of sci-fi. N.B.: I was looking for a calculator for travel times between arbitrary points in the solar system with arbitrary delta v, but my google-fu was weak in this instance, and I can't be bothered to do the math myself. I'd've to guess way too much, anyway. Sorry about that.
The Doctor The Doctor's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
A better question: one of my players' characters has a ship (maximum range: let's say a round trip two or three days outside of Mars orbit). Say, about equivalent to the Serenity. How much would that cost? Would a patron have to own it and let the character use it, or could it be purchased? When we worked the character up, it cost 40 CP but that seems really... wrong... for some reason.
markerjones markerjones's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Starship combat rules in D20 Future supplement of D20 Modern wasn't too bad, if you don't mind keeping track of a lot of numbers (most every starship had thousands of hit points in that book). My only hesitation is that this would mean incorporating D20 into EP and I dont want to lessen the EP experience with D20 rules (oh yeah, my battle line is drawn in the sand).
"Thru the Darkness You Find the Light." -- Seraphim Shock
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
CynicalRyan][quote=Karri wrote:
Outside of dedicated warships (which PC is gonna get one of those things?)
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard a GM say something like the above ... Trust me, they do. :D McGregor's Second Law of GMing (also known in KODT as 'Gary Jackson's Fourth Law of Player Dynamics') states that, regardless of condition, it is inevitable that any doomsday device located anywhere in any scenario will be activated by the Player-Characters. Corollary to McGregor's Second Law states that any rules tweak, special tactic, weird ability, unique artifact. impossible-to-get-weapon or other major asset possessed by an NPC will be either acquired, replicated or one-upped by the Player-Characters.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
CynicalRyan CynicalRyan's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
7thSeaLord wrote:
CynicalRyan wrote:
Outside of dedicated warships (which PC is gonna get one of those things?)
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard a GM say something like the above ... Trust me, they do. :D
"Sir, pirates are stealing our new heavy cruiser!" - "Initiate self-destruct." *screen shows the heavy cruiser detonating* Or: "Sir, pirates are stealing our new heavy cruiser!" - "All weapons, fire at will." *A hopelessly outnumbered warship gets blown to pieces by the local navy* Been there, done that.
markerjones markerjones's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
In the rules as they are, it is "This is a plot device, and the characters are not to have any control over the actual outcome." If space/vehicle combat rules were added, it would change that dynamic. The change is it moves from "Rail-roading is the rule!" to "Power to the Players!" The problem I see here as a GM is that if the players win this scene, then the story is lost. Think about it, the story is that the players have to deliver the McGuffin, but it gets stolen. Now they have to find the McGuffin and get it where it needs to be at the appropriate time, or they risk losing a contact, which means losing Rep. In this case, rail roading would be the proper thing for the GM to do. Otherwise he would have to make the pirates so much more powerful than the players that they wont stand a chance when it comes time to steal the McGuffin back away from them. In your example, rail roading is absolutely the correct way to do things.
"Thru the Darkness You Find the Light." -- Seraphim Shock
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Ummm, I'm not 100% sure, but it seems like maybe you meant this for a different thread, markerjones.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
pobox522rlyeh pobox522rlyeh's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
While I agree that starship combat rules aren't really that necessary, it would be nice to have more information on how much different types of starships cost, whether you could backup to a starship's computer, etcetera. I personally think that having a campaign based off of a group of people roaming around in a ship can work pretty well. They could be taking cargo around, but it gives you a justification to have them see lots of different places in the solar system, and involves lots of different background material from the book. In the background I'm describing, they'd be terrified of getting a fight, especially since it isn't even a combat ship. But I think talking about the specifics of what ships in Eclipse Phase are like could be very useful. Maybe a nice subject for a later supplement if things with Catalyst work out ok, or another publisher is found.
"That which is not dead can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die..."
Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
pobox522rlyeh wrote:
While I agree that starship combat rules aren't really that necessary, it would be nice to have more information on how much different types of starships cost, whether you could backup to a starship's computer, etcetera. I personally think that having a campaign based off of a group of people roaming around in a ship can work pretty well. They could be taking cargo around, but it gives you a justification to have them see lots of different places in the solar system, and involves lots of different background material from the book. In the background I'm describing, they'd be terrified of getting a fight, especially since it isn't even a combat ship. But I think talking about the specifics of what ships in Eclipse Phase are like could be very useful. Maybe a nice subject for a later supplement if things with Catalyst work out ok, or another publisher is found.
Yes, but much of this can be achieved with no real information on direct ship combat rules. For instance, if they are a cargo ship, then ship to ship combat is unlikely... its more likely that an opposing ship would simply try to dock with them in an attempt to steal the cargo in the ship. At best, the few ship-to-ship portions that might exist would be while one ship is trying to disarm another (which would be a gunnery disarm attack), to allow for boarding. Ships are a hot commodity, and in the world of Eclipse Phase, most people don't waste them. On the rare occasion that ships do get destroyed, there's really no need to math it out. All it takes is one well-placed (or even "okay-placed") ship-class weapon to ensure the death of the entire crew. This especially becomes true with antimatter weapons, which render any armor the target ship might have completely worthless, and destruction virtually a guarantee.
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7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Decivre wrote:
pobox522rlyeh wrote:
While I agree that starship combat rules aren't really that necessary, it would be nice to have more information on how much different types of starships cost, whether you could backup to a starship's computer, etcetera. I personally think that having a campaign based off of a group of people roaming around in a ship can work pretty well. They could be taking cargo around, but it gives you a justification to have them see lots of different places in the solar system, and involves lots of different background material from the book. In the background I'm describing, they'd be terrified of getting a fight, especially since it isn't even a combat ship. But I think talking about the specifics of what ships in Eclipse Phase are like could be very useful. Maybe a nice subject for a later supplement if things with Catalyst work out ok, or another publisher is found.
Yes, but much of this can be achieved with no real information on direct ship combat rules. For instance, if they are a cargo ship, then ship to ship combat is unlikely... its more likely that an opposing ship would simply try to dock with them in an attempt to steal the cargo in the ship. At best, the few ship-to-ship portions that might exist would be while one ship is trying to disarm another (which would be a gunnery disarm attack), to allow for boarding. Ships are a hot commodity, and in the world of Eclipse Phase, most people don't waste them. On the rare occasion that ships do get destroyed, there's really no need to math it out. All it takes is one well-placed (or even "okay-placed") ship-class weapon to ensure the death of the entire crew. This especially becomes true with antimatter weapons, which render any armor the target ship might have completely worthless, and destruction virtually a guarantee.
All of which points to the need for SOMETHING to cover this subject. Not an all-you-can-eat, full-scale combat simulator but at least a set of guidelines.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
7thSeaLord wrote:
All of which points to the need for SOMETHING to cover this subject. Not an all-you-can-eat, full-scale combat simulator but at least a set of guidelines.
They already gave you a guideline on pages 346-347:
Quote:
Spacecraft have few stats in Eclipse Phase, as they are primarily handled as setting rather than vehicles. Note also that no stats are given for spacecraft weaponry. It is highly recommended that space combat be handled as a plot device rather than a combat scene, given the extreme lethality and danger involved. If you absolutely must know the DV of a spacecraft weapon, treat it as a a standard weapon with a DV multiplier of x3 for small craft (fighters and shuttles), x5 for medium craft, and x10 for larger craft.
Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age. [url=http://bit.ly/2p3wk7c]Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.[/url]
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
This discussion has gone in circles a few times over. ;) I think space ship combat is not really a part of EP and could be left out. However, _space_ definitely is part of the core of EP. If any materials should be published on this matter, it should focus on space as such: life in space, space gear, zero-G, transportation/trade, combat outside habitats etc. A few pics of space ships would of course come in handy. And, as many seem to be hot on space ship combat, why not throw them a bone with a few pages on that subject without making it part of official EP theme? It may be redundant to most GMs, but it surely wouldn't ruin the game for them.
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
standard_gravity wrote:
This discussion has gone in circles a few times over. ;) I think space ship combat is not really a part of EP and could be left out. However, _space_ definitely is part of the core of EP. If any materials should be published on this matter, it should focus on space as such: life in space, space gear, zero-G, transportation/trade, combat outside habitats etc. A few pics of space ships would of course come in handy. And, as many seem to be hot on space ship combat, why not throw them a bone with a few pages on that subject without making it part of official EP theme? It may be redundant to most GMs, but it surely wouldn't ruin the game for them.
The big thing about space ship combat is that ships in EP are suppose to be more treated as locations than vehicles. Even if you mount weapons on them, they are intended to be treated as buildings with mounted fortifications, more than combat machines. As such, putting ship-to-ship combat in EP rules seems akin to putting building-to-building combat in any other system. Granted, using vehicle combat rules should suffice, and of those there are plenty in the combat section. The biggest difference is that ships have higher durability and more powerful weapons.
Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age. [url=http://bit.ly/2p3wk7c]Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.[/url]
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Decivre wrote:
7thSeaLord wrote:
All of which points to the need for SOMETHING to cover this subject. Not an all-you-can-eat, full-scale combat simulator but at least a set of guidelines.
They already gave you a guideline on pages 346-347:
Give me a break. Nothing about living conditions on EP ships. Nothing about internal arrangements or what the ships actually look like. Nothing about travel times. Nothing about what is involved in operating ships, crewing them or keeping them running. Nothing about standard procedures in space travel. I could go on, and have done so. Please don't tell me (again) that this kind of thing isn't necessary, or can be fudged, because it simply is not true.
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
7thSeaLord wrote:
Give me a break. Nothing about living conditions on EP ships. Nothing about internal arrangements or what the ships actually look like. Nothing about travel times. Nothing about what is involved in operating ships, crewing them or keeping them running. Nothing about standard procedures in space travel. I could go on, and have done so. Please don't tell me (again) that this kind of thing isn't necessary, or can be fudged, because it simply is not true.
Living conditions will vary dramatically based on the ship you are on. Obviously people sitting in their own private SLOTV are going to be in better living conditions than someone in an over-crowded scum barge. Take into context the type of ship, the population density of the ship, and the poverty level of its conditions, and you should be able to gauge the living conditions. Internal arrangements would be a good thing, but that has nothing to do with ship combat rules at all, and is something a bit more appropriate simply by merit for use as a location. Travel times aren't covered because travel times have to be calculated based on the specific distance between any two locations... you're better off looking for one of the many space travel calculators that exist on the net. Lastly, ship operation can vary wildly... some have controls, archaic and advanced, while others are jammed and operated as your own body. It all depends on the tastes of the pilot. The same is true with "standard" procedures, which if we went by the operating procedures of various existing space programs, are anything but standardized.
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pobox522rlyeh pobox522rlyeh's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
If we're assuming completely realistic starship propulsion, a ship would reach it's objective by constantly accelerating until halfway to the place it is going in, and then decelerate the entire way there so it will have stopped by the time it reaches its objective. With the possible exception of using a planet's gravity well, you'd need to use your fuel to slow down as well as speed up. It's not incredibly difficult math, but it is generally easier to fudge it. But that is the kind of movement we are talking about in this system, from what I can tell. Also going by that, your going to be paying for your reaction mass one way or another. So in a strictly realistic game that keeps track of everything, owning your own spaceship and figuring out how long it takes to go from one place or another, and how much it would cost, would amount to a fair amount of homework. I'd rather fudge it, for the time being. I agree with the previous poster that more details on ships would be a good thing, particularly a rough guide on how much your spending for a freighter or something less expensive. The last time I said that I was told "but we don't need starship combat rules!" despite the fact that I didn't ask for any such rules. I'm not talking about starship combat rules, I'm talking about defining the starship a little. Even if your just using them as mobile buildings, more detail would be nice in the future.
"That which is not dead can eternal lie, and with strange aeons even death may die..."
Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
pobox522rlyeh wrote:
If we're assuming completely realistic starship propulsion, a ship would reach it's objective by constantly accelerating until halfway to the place it is going in, and then decelerate the entire way there so it will have stopped by the time it reaches its objective. With the possible exception of using a planet's gravity well, you'd need to use your fuel to slow down as well as speed up. It's not incredibly difficult math, but it is generally easier to fudge it. But that is the kind of movement we are talking about in this system, from what I can tell. Also going by that, your going to be paying for your reaction mass one way or another. So in a strictly realistic game that keeps track of everything, owning your own spaceship and figuring out how long it takes to go from one place or another, and how much it would cost, would amount to a fair amount of homework. I'd rather fudge it, for the time being. I agree with the previous poster that more details on ships would be a good thing, particularly a rough guide on how much your spending for a freighter or something less expensive. The last time I said that I was told "but we don't need starship combat rules!" despite the fact that I didn't ask for any such rules. I'm not talking about starship combat rules, I'm talking about defining the starship a little. Even if your just using them as mobile buildings, more detail would be nice in the future.
I agree to an extent. Maps and other material for ships would be very handy. Rules for construction, design (as I expect that a number of them are unique), fabrication and purchase would be very good in my opinion to add to the game. There are plenty of aspects of ships that would be awesome to detail... I was just making the point that combat is the least necessary part.
Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age. [url=http://bit.ly/2p3wk7c]Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.[/url]
It that must no... It that must not be named's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Here's a reason to include some spacecraft system in EP: GM: Ok, you need to reach neptune to see if there actually is a TITAN base there, or if someone's working with a TITAN relic. Players: Fine, we'll use jupiter's gravity well as a boost to get there sooner. GM: The jovian republic will demand to know why you're using 'their' gravity and that you pay a tool. Players: F**k the junties, we'll swing through and evade their patrols. GM: Uummmmm

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Decivre Decivre's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
It that must not be named wrote:
Here's a reason to include some spacecraft system in EP: GM: Ok, you need to reach neptune to see if there actually is a TITAN base there, or if someone's working with a TITAN relic. Players: Fine, we'll use jupiter's gravity well as a boost to get there sooner. GM: The jovian republic will demand to know why you're using 'their' gravity and that you pay a tool. Players: F**k the junties, we'll swing through and evade their patrols. GM: Uummmmm
Which likely won't end in anything that requires spaceship combat rules. One of two actions will occur. [list][*]Pursuing ship attempts chase, boarding occurs, in-ship standard combat ensues. [*]Antimatter warhead is launched, ship is either missed or annihilated with no chance of survival. All of it comes down to one or two rolls, maximum.[/list] How would either scenario actually need in-depth ship combat?
Transhumans will one day be the Luddites of the posthuman age. [url=http://bit.ly/2p3wk7c]Help me get my gaming fix, if you want.[/url]
7thSeaLord 7thSeaLord's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Decivre wrote:
Living conditions will vary dramatically based on the ship you are on. Obviously people sitting in their own private SLOTV are going to be in better living conditions than someone in an over-crowded scum barge. Take into context the type of ship, the population density of the ship, and the poverty level of its conditions, and you should be able to gauge the living conditions.
Having at least a starting point for this would be helpful. What constitutes "average" living conditions, for instance?
Decivre wrote:
Lastly, ship operation can vary wildly... some have controls, archaic and advanced, while others are jammed and operated as your own body. It all depends on the tastes of the pilot. The same is true with "standard" procedures, which if we went by the operating procedures of various existing space programs, are anything but standardized.
I am pretty sure there would be SOME standardization. Now, there are international agreements and protocols for space, sea and air travel - despite the wide variety of designs and purposes out there in all those fields. Things like which radio frequencies are used and for what purpose; navigational aids, their care and feeding, and how they are used; standard procedures for approach and departure from ports or airfields, if just to prevent collisions or traffic jams; definhitions of authority in certain conditions (ie. when is the captain in charge, and what directions should he accept from the air traffic controller): regulations governing safety (lifeboats?); a space traveller's rights; what generally-recognized distress signals exist; and so on. Now, the EP system is quite fragmented, but even the bitterest of rivals will maintain some basic standards in common. It can be extremely embarassing to try and dock your ship, only to find your airlock doesn't fit the station. Being able to warn another vessel that it is getting dangerously close, or even just knowing what legally constitutes "dangerously close" (or "hostile"), is helpful. There would be standard terminology used to describe travel conditions / situations for a given ship or habitat or political realm, if just for the convenience of those groups that run and organize such things. This may not be a case of the various major players in EP actually sitting down together and agreeing on this stuff (as if that would ever happen). More liikely, they would tend to retain a lot of standards from when Earth was running the show. Plus, it would be convenient to continue doing so, if just because existing craft and habitats are set up that way, and for dealing with craft from other groups..
"Do it? ... Dan, I'm not a Republic serial villain. Do you seriously think I'd explain my master-stroke if there remained the slightest chance of you affecting its outcome? I did it thirty-five minutes ago." Ozymandias, The Watchmen
nick012000 nick012000's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
pobox522rlyeh wrote:
If we're assuming completely realistic starship propulsion, a ship would reach it's objective by constantly accelerating until halfway to the place it is going in, and then decelerate the entire way there so it will have stopped by the time it reaches its objective. With the possible exception of using a planet's gravity well, you'd need to use your fuel to slow down as well as speed up.
Not necessarily. Unless you're using a solar sail or some similar device, acceleration will use up fuel, and depending on your engine, you may not have the fuel to accelerate constantly. For the very-high-thrust engines, this is almost certain, since EP doesn't have magical fusion torches. As for the spacecraft combat rules, I think there's already enough information other than cost for the most important thing: PCs deciding to sleeve themselves into a space fighter as their morph.

+1 r-Rep , +1 @-rep

Octomorph Octomorph's picture
Re: Eclipse Phase!= space ship combat game...
Decivre, I think you're missing your own point from a couple of posts ago. The bulk of this thread has diverged from the original topic - I think most people agree that space combat rules per se aren't critical, but that a better description of the options available for ship design, parameters, etc. would be, if not critical, highly beneficial to the setting material. Eclipse Phase has a lot of appeal to hard sci-fi gamers. Many of them fall into the anal-retentive 'gear-head' camp (heirs of Traveller, Space Master and GURPS) and even if the math doesn't work out, designs need to make logical sense to them (I include myself among their ranks). Yes, we can adapt other systems, but not everyone has access to those (many of which are out of print) and providing a set of resources for a GM to have at hand to answer the inevitable player questions would be a helpful resource (IMHO). Take for example the ship design in part one of scenario in the QSR: the design is laid out as what is a roughly conical or cylindrical shape, with crew accomodations and other spaces forward, a large cargo bay in the aft third or so, and then 'engine space'. The deckplan is divided into a dorsal and ventral view. So we've got a cargo bay that's a single space on the order of 30-100 meters in length down the primary axis of acceleration. Here are the types of questions that came up when I ran my group through the adventure: How would cargo be secured in this space when the ship is under acceleration?
Spoiler: Highlight to view
The deckplan shows various crates scattered around the space, intended as cover for the firefight that ensues, yet once the ship goes under acceleration (almost the only way to deal with the nanoswarm) to get away from the scum barge, what's going to happen to those containers?
What's the method of propulsion? The EP rules define a number of options, but there's no indication of what this vessel uses, which would define things like maximium acceleration, fuel source, fuel storage, etc., all of which would have an impact on design (and potentially play). Does the ship travel under continual thrust? How much? How does the crew move around the ship under thrust? If there are long periods of travel not under thrust, does the ship get put under spin to provide gravity? If so, is it the whole ship or just certain modules? What are the provisions for the cargo bay being in vacuum while maintaining pressure in the rest of the ship? What about radiation shielding? Once can (and I did) come up with answers to all of these, but there is definitely room (again in my opinion) for source material in this area. I think maybe it's time to either close this topic, rename it, or separate out discussions of a space travel and ship design to a new thread.

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