Hard Sci-Fi setting

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Hard Sci-Fi setting

Postby strange_person » Sat Jan 19, 2008 9:46 pm

Reposting another old thread of mine. Here's the original discussion and poll: http://www.unicornjelly.com/oldforums/v ... php?t=5363

Long story short, Hyperspace has C=500 mph, and space battles occur between capital ships shaped like the unholy spawn of an icy comet and a koosh ball the size of a city block.

Energy weapons, ballistics, and even gravity manipulation are ultimately a sideshow in a typical fleet engagement; the real strategy is establishing flanking positions, then slinging tiny, single-seat 'fighters' back and forth like a game of keep-away. Fighters are effective because they can get in close, inside the defending ship's ability deflect things gravitationally, in order to target critical structures like weapon ports and sensors (the koosh-tendrils) rather than having to blast through layers of icy shielding. Fighters require internal human pilots because no computer has yet been made smart enough to fight effectively and yet stupid enough to fight at all, and the combination of distance and ECM prevents any useful degree of remote control.

It also helps that the other friendly carrier is there, waiting to catch the fighters with a gentle cushion of uniform, gravitic deceleration, so that the human pilots can be reused, along with any other valuable components.


I'd be interested in trying this setting out in a game, possibly in the Minimus system (from the people who brought you the Sanagami Island Tactical Simulator!), possibly on this very forum. The only problem I have is, I don't know very much about the more human aspects of this setting: culture, relevant planetside technologies, day-to-day life, that sort of thing.

I've got some stuff from my recent Trials of the Nephilim game that I might adapt: a recently terraformed world with an orbital elevator, contested by two interstellar empires (stagnant and fractious Darchule, Orwellian and ambitious Phoenix Protectorate) and the independent city of Harbin, with it's mad, reptilian governor and her body-snatching but oddly pacifistic secret police. I've got a few short adventures, a handful of major NPCs, and some stuff about architecture, Darchule religious practices, the politics of trade and privacy.

I can provide further information on TotN if anyone is interested, or if anyone can think of stuff that would follow logically from the space-combat stuff, that would be great.
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Re: Hard Sci-Fi setting

Postby Tychomonger » Sat Jan 19, 2008 9:53 pm

strange_person wrote:Hyperspace has C=500 mph

Perhaps a better name would be Hypospace.
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People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff.
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Re: Hard Sci-Fi setting

Postby Jennifer Diane Reitz » Sun Jan 20, 2008 12:10 am

If you have relativistic effects going on, then the issues with time would make for a dramatic situation just going on vacation, much less when engaging in space battles. It strikes me that such a cosmos would be interesting just living on a planet, doing everyday things.
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Re: Hard Sci-Fi setting

Postby strange_person » Sun Jan 20, 2008 5:11 am

Well, the really crazy, game-cancelled-on-account-of-time-dialation stuff only happens in hypospace (thanks for the coinage, Tycho!), which I imagine as being used mostly for bomb shelter types of purposes, rather than for most of day-to-day life.

Looks like Captain Mara is drunk on the job again, and decided to do orbital insertion manually. Eleven million tons of cometary ore, along with a few small-but-signifigant fusion reactors, are heading toward the planet at ten kilometers per second. Weyland Corp. and Orbital Defense are probably too busy shuffling the blame around to deflect it in time. Sound the alarm! Women, children, and shirtless, effeminate men to the extradimensional bunkers!


Then again, the all-too-common confluence of incompetence, malice, and tremendous power sources could leave a planet utterly uninhabitable for years at a time, so I suppose that hypospatial life-support structures would probably have to be at least as well-stocked with amusements as modern nuclear submarines.

That's the other thing about hypospace: it's dark, and cold, even in comparison to interstellar vacuum in regular space. It's about as well-stocked with matter as the normal universe, but since everything moves around so slowly, stars haven't formed yet, or if they have, the light from them has yet to reach any region corresponding to an inhabited world.
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Re: Hard Sci-Fi setting

Postby strange_person » Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:57 pm

Darchule (a term used interchangeably for the political organization, the nation which supports it, and the ideology they share) involves nine sacred tools.
Code: Select all
        stone  food  people
force   shovel knife whip
finesse prybar wire  rapier
defense helmet net   shield


Spaceships, in both empires, are commonly divided into five categories:
Ultralight ships, including everything from vacuum-capable environment suits to space-fighters on about the same level as the ones from Battlestar Galactica, are those which are too small to have any form of onboard gravitic control.
Light ships are those which have only enough gravitic control for inertial dampening, or 'active-only' shields, or interior hypospace portals (but generally not all three at once, or even any one for very long).
Mediumweight ships are those with enough volume for proper gravitic modulators, which generally mean that mass stops being an issue; they can have passive shields, both in the form of continuous gravitic deflection and carapaces of cometary ice.
Heavy ships are those which have onboard gravitic modulators capable of transporting the entire ship to hypospace. They are not necessarily designed to be capable of self-propulsion; many orbital defense platforms and Lagrange-point-mounted refueling stations fall into this category.
Superheavy ships are those which have detectable gravitational fields even when powered down. Asteroids fitted with engines for mining purposes, ground-based planetary defenses, and other 'naturally-occurring spacecraft' fall into this category. Also, notably, glasers: they can tear right through nearly all shielding materials, as well as nongravitic anti-missile and anti-railgun defenses, but require monumental power supplies, and beam-generators more than a kilometer across.

The city of Harbin, if excised from it's rocky foundation and provided with some kind of air-tight hull, would be considered a mediumweight starship. Governor Rish!olb the Magnificent (the '!' is most easily approximated by a human vocal system by clicking the tongue against the roof of the mouth) subsidized the use of gravitics in construction, with the result that roads and sidewalks casually meander up walls. Most chemical explosives, as well as fusion power plants of militarily-useful size, are illegal in the city of Harbin. There is a thriving black market, of course, but those who wish to carry lethal ranged weapons openly without flaunting the law typically use compound bows.
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Re: Hard Sci-Fi setting

Postby strange_person » Fri Feb 01, 2008 1:47 pm

Denise Fachilla loathes the impersonal interdependence of the Phoenix Empire. She conveys her visions of a future (where every sentient being is a self-sufficient, cybernetic demigod) to the various cells of Separatists within Darchule by ultra-low-tech means.
Information technology is the flood, depositing fertile sediment upon the plains of the intellect. Autonomous computers are the fire burning away the undergrowth of ignorance and superstition. Such cataclysms are a natural and necessary part of life, but their time is now past. The long winter in the urban hive is over. Spring is here. It’s time to go out and live in the world.
She approves of nonlethal duelling for conflict resolution, but holds privacy sacrosanct. Spy satelites are oppressors to be destroyed.
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