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Old 03-28-2013, 02:54 AM   #1
Mailanka
 
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Default [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

So, I've been thinkin'.

The beauty of Ultra-Tech lies in exploring the natural evolution of technology: faster, better, stronger, and what that means. If the developments of today naturally play out, the future of war lies in distance and power. Weapons grow increasingly accurate, powerful and with longer ranges (You can get quite some mileage out of TL 12 portable railguns with antimatter rounds). Sensors gain the same benefits. And soldiers move farther and farther from the battlefield. We already use drones extensively. One can easily imagine an era where we remotely pilot human-shaped or otherwise land-based "infantry" drones, what THS calls "cybershells." Beyond that, we might begin to upload coipes of ourselves into our cybershells, or simply give them AI and command them to attack. The future of warfare might be a nuclear-powered RTS, with a human directing dozens or hundreds of drones against another human's drones until one side wins, gets to the command post and slays the human within.

A fascinating possibility.

Space opera typically looks different than that. Whether we're talking 40k, Star Trek, Star Wars or Andromeda or Farscape or Firefly or Dune, ranges are generally very short. I'm not saying that they remove ranged combat in favor of melee. No, I mean that you can see your enemy. You don't send robots to fight your battles for you. You don't fire missiles over the horizon to the enemy you detected with your satellite system. You don't snipe someone from 4 miles away. He stands right in front of you, at wild west ranges. The question of melee vs ranged is a choice between whether you draw your blade and try to approach him, or you draw your gun and keep your range. It's not a fool's errand to attack at melee range because doing so wouldn't involve hopping into a car and driving 10 minutes down a road to get out and hit someone with your sword. Likewise, pistols still make sense. Rifles still make sense. There's a difference in ranges and people consider these worthwhile: Rifle = sniping (from a few hundred yards away). Pistols mean shooting people from a few dozen paces away. And blades mean closing that distance and hitting someone.

Weapons remain profoundly powerful. In fact, space opera weapons are often very dangerous, sometimes instantly lethal (such as in the case of Star Trek), or they defeat arbitrary armor or shields. In fact, weapons often have neat tricks to express how awesome and advance they are, but they often still involve fighting at closer ranges than modern warfare does.

These two concepts don't fit well together. I don't MIND the former, but it creates different assumptions that invalidate the latter, and sometimes, I want the latter. I've seen many a discussion about making melee an ultra-tech viable thing. I'm not interested in that (or not JUST interested in that). I'm interested in shortening ranges to a personal range. That means short-ranged pistols and "long" ranged rifles still make sense, but we're thinking of ranges like what you saw in the Wild West or the swashbuckling era (which often serves as an inspiration for space opera).

What remotely believable suggestions do you have for keeping ultra-tech combat to visual range? Bonus points of the option already exists within UT or a Pyramid article.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

The closest thing to a concept that satisfies me that I could come up with is an orgone shield. I suppose you can add that their effectiveness scales directly with the distance between attacker and target, thus making long-range shots all but useless.
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Old 03-28-2013, 08:34 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
What remotely believable suggestions do you have for keeping ultra-tech combat to visual range? Bonus points of the option already exists within UT or a Pyramid article.
Use the material written for Gurps 4e. It's already shortened the _practical_ range for guns and even lasers by lowering ACC greatly.

As jsut one example, in the Real World assualt rifles are generaslly considered viable out to 300 yards. In Gurps world that's -13 to hit and even with all te tricks in the book your ACC 5 rifle is only being fired in an attempt to score a Critical.

Even with UT energy handguns that have ACC 5 or 6 you're not going to shoot any farther.

So if your UT players are armned with weapons of convenience and/or concealability (i.e pistols) they are aren't going to be fighting at extraordianry ranges. If they don't think they have time to Aim they'll be lucky to hit someone at the other end of an interior hallway.

sow hile this may be a _conceptual_ problem with future combat I do not beleive it to be an _actual_ problem found in Gurps 4e.
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Old 03-28-2013, 08:49 AM   #4
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

Render computers and long range sensors useless.
ECM could become so effective that you have to use visual range.
Lower ACC on weapons so you have to shoot closer or make some of the UT weapons that are more powerful simply have a shorter range. People still desire the weapons for their power and versatility even if the range is shorter then old fashioned weapons.
Invent flicker or distortion fields that blur a target requiring you to get close enough to offset that.

Armor could absorb energy attacks more efficently then kinetic attacks which means youi need to engage in melee when your blaster does not work.
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Old 03-28-2013, 08:56 AM   #5
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
As jsut one example, in the Real World assualt rifles are generaslly considered viable out to 300 yards. In Gurps world that's -13 to hit and even with all te tricks in the book your ACC 5 rifle is only being fired in an attempt to score a Critical.
Skill 12, +5 (acc) +2 (aim) +1 (braced) -13 = 7, +2 for rapid fire and we're into 'yeah, that could hit something'.
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Old 03-28-2013, 08:56 AM   #6
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Refplace View Post
Render computers and long range sensors useless.
ECM could become so effective that you have to use visual range.
Lower ACC on weapons so you have to shoot closer or make some of the UT weapons that are more powerful simply have a shorter range. People still desire the weapons for their power and versatility even if the range is shorter then old fashioned weapons.
I'm not sure accuracy is really the issue. As Fred points out, most of your energy weapons are between 4 and 10 in accuracy, and while that's quite good, without much aiming that's not going to hit much further than 100 yards, on average. If you have some high mobility on your side, you can turn that around.

The problem arises when you start getting radar locks and using targeting programs and HUD displays, which can quickly rack up the bonuses, and when you already have a +10, that extends your range to absurd degrees. So your first suggestion might do more than enough without reducing ACC.

I'll have to ponder the rest. There may be something there.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

Accuracy of individual weapons is kinda secondary. Artillery will be killer, and dodgyness doesn't help against it much if at all.
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:31 AM   #8
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Accuracy of individual weapons is kinda secondary. Artillery will be killer, and dodgyness doesn't help against it much if at all.
Artillery can easily be erased if you assume a point defense heavy regime.

Trouble is that the same capability that erases artillery potentially also erases most everybody else...
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Old 03-28-2013, 09:34 AM   #9
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Artillery can easily be erased if you assume a point defense heavy regime.

Trouble is that the same capability that erases artillery potentially also erases most everybody else...
Precisely. For a similar note:

So I say to the guy, "How you going to get the tank down to the planet?" And he goes, "I'll just put it on the ship." And I go, "If you've got a ship that can carry a tank, why not just put guns on the ship and use it instead?"
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Old 03-28-2013, 11:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
Precisely. For a similar note:

So I say to the guy, "How you going to get the tank down to the planet?" And he goes, "I'll just put it on the ship." And I go, "If you've got a ship that can carry a tank, why not just put guns on the ship and use it instead?"
Of course in both cases one can come up with answers, albeit of variable plausibility.

PD won't massacre ground forces if the gunnery system relies on sensors which don't track ground targets effectively. And most likely aerospace transports have a great many traits incompatible with an effective tank, though certain types of superscience would change that.
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