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Old 04-03-2016, 05:28 AM   #1
scc
 
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Default [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

OK, at some point in the future I want to try and run a game based on works like the Star Wars X-Wing books or the TV show Space: Above and Beyond, you know where everyone is a space fighter pilot. The setting will be what starts out as a mostly hard science setting with the exceptions being in megascale engineering, that is the terraforming of Mars and Venus, otherwise everything is Tl9-10 following a mainly Conservative Hard Sci Fi pattern, the game is about flying fighters after all, not trans-humanism.

Politically mankind has come together in peace, more or less, with emphases on the less. Earth is broken up into several EU style organizations that are in the process of merging. There's enough people living on the Moon for there to be a nation involved in this process there, but beyond cis-Luna space there's it's a lot on untamed wilderness with light policing by the Terran Union. There may be 'independence' movements in some quarters, but they're made up of people who believe that independence is good no matter what and are more rebels with out a cause then anything else.

Plot wise I'm considering having a few sessions dealing with pirates and rebels in whatever cobbled together ships they can make and scaled down to SM+5 Red Arrows Aerospace Fighters with the players in SM+5 Nova Space Fighters before getting to the main event of a bug war. The bugs will have a standard propulsion setup of 2 TL10 standard reactionless drives and a set of ether flukes, giving them 1.3G acceleration, meaning the players will be faster but have far lower endurance. My explanation for why fighters are used is that reactionless drives have a 10% drop in efficiency for every SM you increase the ship, so a SM+4 fighter gets 1.3G out of the arrangement I mentioned before, but it's SM+8 Carrier only gets 0.86G, a SM+12 Battleship only gets 0.56G and a SM+15 Super-dreadnought gets 0.41G.

Now the bugs will be psychic and the fighters and other vessels the players will face will be cybershells, fully organic ones but cybershells none the less, controlled by AI's. These AI's will range from mindless and disposable NAI controlled to Worthy Opponent LAI controlled ones similar to Scar from nBSG and to SAI controlled ones serving as generals or filling a role analogs to princesses, Sara, Corg and Arial from The Next Generation part of Robotech, complete the the potential ability to assume human form. These last three groups (Worthy Opponent, Generals and Princess) will be potential reoccurring characters as they can move from body to body as long as one is in range to receive them or re-transmit them (Note: I won't actually be stating this Ability, apart from figuring out the range). I'm thinking that in defiance of conventional behavior for bug opponents that these guys actually value the individual, of course the individual is a self-aware AI program running on an expendable body.

One thing I'm playing around with is the ability to get higher quality components, after all enemy elite mooks and generals are often simply better then normal. Unfortunately I can't use the rules on Supers84 like Mecha Operations suggests, they're likely to go through bodies fairly quickly and the body should still have better performance then normal when not inhabited by the personality that 'owns', which means it's property of the body, not it's 'owner'. So I'm thinking that's it's possible for a component to be made to higher specs in ONE area at a cost premium equal the the square of the performance increase. If multiple increase are desired add the increase numbers and then square multiply by cost. So a chemical rockets that has twice the Acceleration OR Delta-V per fuel costs 4 times as much, one with both is 16 times. Now monetary costs don't mean anything to organic Spaceships, but I felt that the mechanic needed to be there.

Right now Bugs will actually have access to a racial Power. In addition to the previously mention telepathic abilities it will have at least two other: Forcefield Armor and Thrust Boost. Forcefield Armor is SM dDR with the Forcefield, Psionic and Costs FP Modifiers. It's SM dDR so that it doesn't end up either pointless or overpowered depending upon the size of the ship currently controlled. Multiple levels are possible and can be brought up separately. This creates interesting question when a personality moves between SM's, but it does a good job of scaling the FP provided by the body. Thrust Boost is Flight with Costs FP and Newtonian Space Flight and that last with Doesn't Eat or Drink. That set up allows additional acceleration at Basic Speed * 2 when active with no need to take on remass when done. Note that as Basic Speed starts at 5 for most beings, double is 10yps, or 1G. I am open to suggestions of addational powers

Two more items that I can think of: The bugs will take double damage as they don't have Injury Tolerance (Unliving), and they'll have an edited list of components to represent the fact that their organic, with some unique options like psychic powered fusion plants.

Now the hard part: players. There are only two paradigms or archetypes that show up in this sort of thing: The young hot shot and the experienced old salt. To balance things out there will be a single mandatory template the represent high school + basic training with stat boosts and it will have two lenses, one for each archetype. The Hotshot will have two levels of Hot Pilot plus Daredevil or something like it, the Old Salt will have +2 levels in Piloting and Gunnery skills, a bit more Rank, and possibly other Advantages gained from being in the military for some time. That costs the players nothing, it's unusual, but it's the best way I could come up with to balance things between the two types. After that they get 100 points to customize their character, with the stipulation that nothing they do can adjust the Piloting and Gunnery skills.

OK, that's all for now, this post has taken far too long to put together (A few days).
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Old 04-03-2016, 06:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

One thing I like to do with my spacecraft is combine engine modules to handle a single oversized engine. A space fighter would be able to pull 5-10G with a Hot Reactionless engine composed of 5 engine modules, and a capital ship only 0.5G to 1G with a single standard or even rotary reactionless engine module. This is realistic, too; look at how much of a modern fighter is taken up by the engines compared to the engines of an aircraft carrier.

So, fighters offer greater speed and mobility, but do they have the armaments to hurt the SM +10 cruisers or SM +12 battleships? "The Empire doesn't consider a small one-manned fighter to be any threat" (to anything other than another fighter, a shuttle, or a dropship) could be a plausible mindset among some of the blocs, and unless your fighters are all carrying nukes, they might be right.

Something to think about.



Also, SM +8 carrier? I couldn't get my small escort carrier below SM +9, at least not without dropping the fighters to SM +4 (it was designed to carry about 30 SM +5 (two 15-man squadrons) or 100 SM +4 fighters) so I'd love to see your stats.
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Old 04-03-2016, 01:25 PM   #3
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

Note that if you want fighters in a nearly hard science campaign you need to basically do the following:
-Use safetech, as else unmanned drones will be better due to no need for life support and the ability when needed to send on one way missions not worrying about the delta-v to get back.
-Ignore realistic detection ranges, as any use of energy is way too easy to detect at insanely long ranges making any sort of "surprise" impossible.
-Do not allow beam weapons or make the really low power or allow really log engagement ranges. As there would be no "dodge" against something coming in at light speed if you are at small fraction of a light second distance. They will detect the fighter, aim at it and hit it before it has moves any real distance. If the distances are long enough then continuous evasive maneuvers might well work, but drain a LOT of delta-v.

It should be remembered that space carrier+fighter combat is not like airplanes against ships, it is more like torpedo boats against ships. That is they both work in the same medium and thus the advantages of the fighters is less. Historically torpedo boats have done well in few special raids and such, but mostly if they come up against real ships they just die...

Rebels would have a kind of hard time too as movement is so easy to detect in space. Something based purely on a single planet could well work as such is much easier to hide.

Then to the actual suggestions:
Bosses:
You could well use super vehicles as a thing for super components. Just build it as a modular ability with suitable modifiers(things like: gadget the actual fighter), that allows them to switch powers. If you do not use the unique gadget modifier then then a destroyed gadget can be reacquired(get a new fighter)

On the accelerations:
I would make the differences larger for different sizes. In my Star Wars campaign to get the fighters moving around larger ships I used 1g/module for fighters and 0.1g/module for anything large. Basically the smaller drive had a maximum total thrust possible making fighters be 5-8g normally, small agile ships (like the millennium falcon in the original) would have about 1g, large warshisp maybe 0.3g and large civilian ships 0.1g. That provided for three different tiers as seen in the films. That caused the feel "automatically". With much smaller differences as given by you there is really not that much of a difference.

On the pilot types:
There is also a few other types seen every now and then:
Lucky Luke: not as good as the other pilots but somehow the superior enemy fighter following him gets suddenly gets engine trouble. When the patrol is ambushed he is a bit behind because of some trouble so he has more time to react and so on.. Basically serendipity and luck in play with lower skill levels.
The master tactician: Might not be as good pilots as the best, but is the master of being calm and calculating odds, thus tending to be in the right place to maximize the use of his skills. Strategy/tactics and such to allow gaining upper hand.
and then there are of course a lot of variations for the two you mentioned.
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Old 04-03-2016, 02:00 PM   #4
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

I found my TL11 space opera setting's ships listing. For TL10, just scale the armor back from Diamondoid to Nanocomposite, halve the speeds of the engines, and reduce the control room complexities by 1.

Hope this helps from a setting design standpoint.
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Old 04-03-2016, 03:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
Note that if you want fighters in a nearly hard science campaign you need to basically do the following:
-Use safetech, as else unmanned drones will be better due to no need for life support and the ability when needed to send on one way missions not worrying about the delta-v to get back.
Inherant in this sort of setting. Unless the pilots are the AIs

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
-Ignore realistic detection ranges, as any use of energy is way too easy to detect at insanely long ranges making any sort of "surprise" impossible.
I don't think this is as much of an issue. For you to be detected they not only have to be looking in your direction but realize your drive flare shouldn't have occurred, both of which are very unlikely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
-Do not allow beam weapons or make the really low power or allow really log engagement ranges. As there would be no "dodge" against something coming in at light speed if you are at small fraction of a light second distance. They will detect the fighter, aim at it and hit it before it has moves any real distance. If the distances are long enough then continuous evasive maneuvers might well work, but drain a LOT of delta-v.
So noted

Quote:
Originally Posted by weby View Post
On the pilot types:
There is also a few other types seen every now and then:
Lucky Luke: not as good as the other pilots but somehow the superior enemy fighter following him gets suddenly gets engine trouble. When the patrol is ambushed he is a bit behind because of some trouble so he has more time to react and so on.. Basically serendipity and luck in play with lower skill levels.
The master tactician: Might not be as good pilots as the best, but is the master of being calm and calculating odds, thus tending to be in the right place to maximize the use of his skills. Strategy/tactics and such to allow gaining upper hand.
and then there are of course a lot of variations for the two you mentioned.
I'll have to figure out how to model these, but extra niches is always good
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Old 04-03-2016, 04:10 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

Quote:
Originally Posted by scc View Post
I don't think this is as much of an issue. For you to be detected they not only have to be looking in your direction but realize your drive flare shouldn't have occurred, both of which are very unlikely.
Note that the range of detecting something using energy is space are really long.

If you use a setting with stupid computers, then yes the probability of detection is lot lower as human lookouts get bored, can look in wrong directions and such.. But any sort of automated sensor will detect things way too far against the cold of space and classifying them is also trivial.
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Old 04-03-2016, 07:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

Another pilot type could be the engineer. What they lack in piloting skill they make up for by having a strong understanding of how the technology and systems work.

A good real world analogy might be formula one drivers.

Hotshot - Ayrton Senna, highly skilled and blisteringly fast.

Tactician - Alain Prost, also known as the "professor" not as skilled as Senna but knew how best to make use of tactical opportunities to win races.

Engineer - Jack Brabham, designed and built his own car. Was naturally attuned to his car and was able to extract extra performance without sacrificing reliability.
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Old 04-03-2016, 08:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

Are you considering having an ongoing technology race?

Commanders might always have the latest tech which may have better performance but less reliability. Some character types like: lucky, tactician and engineer might be able to make better use of more advanced but less reliable technology.
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Old 04-03-2016, 09:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

One problem is that conventional guns, railguns, and missiles will tear apart fighters without difficulty, especially if they benefit from reactionless engines. Also, a fighter with a reactionless engine, 1g acceleration, and one hour becomes a weapon of mass destruction, as it possesses a velocity of around 20 mps, which would be added to the velocity when using a kinetic weapon against a stationary target. It only gets worse at 10 hours (the maximum acceleration time for a 24 hour limited life support with a reasonable margin of error), as you get to add 200 mps to any kinetic weapon. Strategically, it would be worth it to have hundreds of squadrons, each one reaching maximum velocity around Earth, one coming every minute, to take advantage of maximum firepower.
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Old 04-04-2016, 07:44 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fighter Pilot Campiagn

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
One problem is that conventional guns, railguns, and missiles will tear apart fighters without difficulty, especially if they benefit from reactionless engines. Also, a fighter with a reactionless engine, 1g acceleration, and one hour becomes a weapon of mass destruction, as it possesses a velocity of around 20 mps, which would be added to the velocity when using a kinetic weapon against a stationary target. It only gets worse at 10 hours (the maximum acceleration time for a 24 hour limited life support with a reasonable margin of error), as you get to add 200 mps to any kinetic weapon. Strategically, it would be worth it to have hundreds of squadrons, each one reaching maximum velocity around Earth, one coming every minute, to take advantage of maximum firepower.
In my setting, I use force shields on my fighters to help mitigate that. I'm going to guess the OP also has force shields on his fighters and his larger craft to keep them from being eggshells.
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The GURPS Marvel Universe Reboot Project and its not-a-wiki-really web adaptation.
Ranoc, a Muskets-and-Magery Renaissance Fantasy Setting
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