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Old 09-27-2013, 09:25 AM   #11
Nereidalbel
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
K-Sinks are probably going to be fairly cheap, although I haven't determined how much they cost yet. I still need to decide if I want K-Sinks to allow you to choose a direction of acceleration (what I'm leaning toward currently), or if they automatically make a beeline toward 0 velocity in all directions. The former would make a missile (or bullet, for that matter) extremely accurate, getting a bonus to hit of up to SM+3 (they need to "hit" a target that's really just the range at which they can tether the real target; this will be SM+3 if nothing else is in tethering range, less if there's something closer). The latter would be useless in a missile.

This is a really good idea, and is making me want to go with the former option even more. Missiles and guided bullets typically aren't used in the setting, but this could easily be incorporated into otherwise-unguided bullets* (which are used). The EM pulse of electromagnetic guns might be a bit too much for the K-Sink and guidance circuitry, forcing a reliance on conventional and ETC rounds.


*The hand-wave for missiles/guided bullets (the SS default) not being used is that they are too vulnerable to point defense (shoot them once with a low-power beam, they are no longer guided and thus will almost always miss). Unguided bullets are all armor and just need to not be vaporized to damage the target. Adding in a small K-Sink and some basic guidance would still require heavy damage to stop one (you'd need to punch through to the Core and destroy that), would give it a nice Acc boost, and even if you do manage to destroy the K-Sink it's still functioning off of base Acc.
If you want to be a REAL jerk, you unleash a swarm of missiles. 299 of these missiles are "conventional" warheads, but #273 is nuclear. There goes the battleship!

As for interplanetary weaponry? Well, let's say somebody wants to kill every living thing on Earth. Attach a K-Sink (or two, if such a thing can work) to Vesta and/or Ceres. Either of those scoring a direct hit on the Earth will end life as we know it, and there is basically nothing you could do to stop them.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:10 AM   #12
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
If you want to be a REAL jerk, you unleash a swarm of missiles. 299 of these missiles are "conventional" warheads, but #273 is nuclear. There goes the battleship!
Fusion isn't an available technology in this setting, and fission is outlawed. Sure, you manage to take out the battleship, but then you're a horrible war criminal and pretty much the entire galaxy goes to war with you. Not a very good trade.

EDIT: I feel I should note here that the shield your nuke likely had to get through probably wrecked the detonation mechanism, giving you just a really expensive dirty bomb... and if any missiles managed to get through, they probably wouldn't need to be nukes to take out the ship.
If you instead opted for proximity detonation, the vast majority of the energy that would normally hit the ship would be absorbed by the shield, meaning you just made yourself a war criminal with minimal, if any, gain. Good job.

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
As for interplanetary weaponry? Well, let's say somebody wants to kill every living thing on Earth. Attach a K-Sink (or two, if such a thing can work) to Vesta and/or Ceres. Either of those scoring a direct hit on the Earth will end life as we know it, and there is basically nothing you could do to stop them.
Keep in mind, you can only use a K-Sink to accelerate toward a relative velocity of 0. The closest thing to Ceres (which I think is closer to Earth than Vespa, although I'm not certain) is Mars, at 1.2 AU away. To tether to Mars (SM+44 by mass) at 1.2 AU (SM+66), you need a K-Sink large enough for an SM+17 ship (K-sink would weigh 1.5 million tons). Once you've done so, you can start to (slowly) set up a geosynchronous orbit with Mars, but you'll probably screw up Mars' orbit quite a bit. Once you've swung around into Earth's orbit, you can tether yourself to the Sun so that you're going 18.5 mps relative to Earth - probably enough to cause some serious damage. Of course, this is all going to take a very long time, cost a good deal of money (K-Sinks are cheap, but this is a big K-Sink), and screwing up Mars' orbit is probably going to clue Earth in that Something is going on - and they have plenty of time to stop you by just attacking Ceres (which even without Mars getting screwed up they'll probably notice is moving) and destroying the K-Sink. In theory you could tether to Mars and fling Ceres (slowly) onto an unavoidable collision course, then destroy your K-Sink (so Earth can't use it to just tether it to something else and stop it). It might be doable, but it's going to be very difficult and give Earth plenty of time to evacuate. Could make for an interesting campaign, however.
Note the above ignores the idea of only being able to tether to whatever is proportionally closest, in which case you could probably only tether the sun, which wouldn't be of any use for killing Earth.

Last edited by Varyon; 09-27-2013 at 11:42 AM.
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:22 AM   #13
Nereidalbel
 
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Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Keep in mind, you can only use a K-Sink to accelerate toward a relative velocity of 0. The closest thing to Ceres (which I think is closer to Earth than Vespa, although I'm not certain) is Mars, at 1.2 AU away. To tether to Mars (SM+44 by mass) at 1.2 AU (SM+66), you need a K-Sink large enough for an SM+17 ship (K-sink would weigh 1.5 million tons). Once you've done so, you can start to (slowly) set up a geosynchronous orbit with Mars, but you'll probably screw up Mars' orbit quite a bit. Once you've swung around into Earth's orbit, you can tether yourself to the Sun so that you're going 18.5 mps relative to Earth - probably enough to cause some serious damage. Of course, this is all going to take a very long time, cost a good deal of money (K-Sinks are cheap, but this is a big K-Sink), and screwing up Mars' orbit is probably going to clue Earth in that Something is going on - and they have plenty of time to stop you by just attacking Ceres (which even without Mars getting screwed up they'll probably notice is moving) and destroying the K-Sink. In theory you could tether to Mars and fling Ceres (slowly) onto an unavoidable collision course, then destroy your K-Sink (so Earth can't use it to just tether it to something else and stop it). It might be doable, but it's going to be very difficult and give Earth plenty of time to evacuate. Could make for an interesting campaign, however.
Note the above ignores the idea of only being able to tether to whatever is proportionally closest, in which case you could probably only tether the sun, which wouldn't be of any use for killing Earth.
If you tether to the Sun with the math done right, you only need to destabilize the orbit enough to put Vesta or Ceres into a death spiral that intersects with the Earth. And while this is going to be a very, very expensive K-Sink, you have plenty of time to pack up and go, or at least set the demolition charges to blow when somebody gets too close.

You could also tether to smaller asteroids for no purpose other than to slow your doomsday dwarf planet of choice, which will cause it to "fall" in towards the Sun, again, with everything mathed out to intersect with the Earth.
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Old 09-27-2013, 11:14 AM   #14
Varyon
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
If you tether to the Sun with the math done right, you only need to destabilize the orbit enough to put Vesta or Ceres into a death spiral that intersects with the Earth. And while this is going to be a very, very expensive K-Sink, you have plenty of time to pack up and go, or at least set the demolition charges to blow when somebody gets too close.

You could also tether to smaller asteroids for no purpose other than to slow your doomsday dwarf planet of choice, which will cause it to "fall" in towards the Sun, again, with everything mathed out to intersect with the Earth.
Good point. I had thought of people using smaller incoming projectiles at really high speeds for planet-killing, and a clever shielding system (actually a series of orbiting satellites that project Blades and spin) would cause the projectiles to destroy themselves. With something large and slow, shielding won't really work. Perhaps there are large vessels with the primary purpose of landing on such inbound doomsday devices and using their own K-Sinks to alter the course enough to prevent an impact?
Certainly, throwing something like Ceres at an inhabited planet would be an interstellar crime in excess to merely using a nuke, but while governments might be able to restrict access to fissionables, an extremist group with enough funding could probably manage something like this. Of course, it should require a lot of time, planning, and personnel to get the ball rolling, which would make it an interesting plot or subplot (with the PC's being the Only Ones that can stop it, for whatever reason).
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:00 PM   #15
Nereidalbel
 
Join Date: May 2013
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Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Good point. I had thought of people using smaller incoming projectiles at really high speeds for planet-killing, and a clever shielding system (actually a series of orbiting satellites that project Blades and spin) would cause the projectiles to destroy themselves. With something large and slow, shielding won't really work. Perhaps there are large vessels with the primary purpose of landing on such inbound doomsday devices and using their own K-Sinks to alter the course enough to prevent an impact?
Certainly, throwing something like Ceres at an inhabited planet would be an interstellar crime in excess to merely using a nuke, but while governments might be able to restrict access to fissionables, an extremist group with enough funding could probably manage something like this. Of course, it should require a lot of time, planning, and personnel to get the ball rolling, which would make it an interesting plot or subplot (with the PC's being the Only Ones that can stop it, for whatever reason).
You know, I'm still questioning why fission isn't available, considering you can make a fission reactor in your garage right now. And yes, it's legal to do so.

If you want to make the extremist group REALLY organized, they could be claiming to move Vesta/Ceres closer for the purpose of profitable mining, and then make the doomsday adjustments as close to Earth as possible.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:40 PM   #16
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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You know, I'm still questioning why fission isn't available, considering you can make a fission reactor in your garage right now. And yes, it's legal to do so.
Fission isn't available because I don't want it to be available. :P
In terms of setting, it's because of fear of radioactive contamination. Radioactive things are considered to be Bad, so people don't use fission. It's not that it can't be used, it's just that the legal consequences rarely justify the attempt, particularly when cheap solar-panel and Shield-tech generated energy is available.
For reference, ships typically rely on large capacitors for energy. Very large warships carry fuel cells to recharge their capacitors, while large non-combat ships have solar panels. A previous concept of this setting had some very large ships using fusion reactors that required Psis to keep them going, but I'm not certain I want to maintain the Psis.

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Originally Posted by Nereidalbel View Post
If you want to make the extremist group REALLY organized, they could be claiming to move Vesta/Ceres closer for the purpose of profitable mining, and then make the doomsday adjustments as close to Earth as possible.
Which lends itself well to an adventure where the PC's are the Only Ones that can stop the doomsday scenario - because nobody believes them that Persephone Inc is actually the front for a terrorist organization.
Of course, getting to/from Ceres actually wouldn't be that expensive in this setting, as the space drives get 150 mps per tank of hydrogen fuel at 0.1G. Time would be more important, although with the defenses planets have against ships slamming into them you can probably approach a planet at a decent clip, using your K-Sink to slow down at the end (or be annihilated if you fail to). Our theoretical miners/terrorists might find it difficult to convince anyone to let them move Ceres (or whatever massive planetoid they've chosen), although if they're that well organized they might be able to bribe their way through.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:47 PM   #17
Nereidalbel
 
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Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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Fission isn't available because I don't want it to be available. :P
In terms of setting, it's because of fear of radioactive contamination. Radioactive things are considered to be Bad, so people don't use fission. It's not that it can't be used, it's just that the legal consequences rarely justify the attempt, particularly when cheap solar-panel and Shield-tech generated energy is available.
For reference, ships typically rely on large capacitors for energy. Very large warships carry fuel cells to recharge their capacitors, while large non-combat ships have solar panels. A previous concept of this setting had some very large ships using fusion reactors that required Psis to keep them going, but I'm not certain I want to maintain the Psis.
If your players ask why, just be sure to have some kind of nuclear incident that trumps Chernobyl ;)


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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
Which lends itself well to an adventure where the PC's are the Only Ones that can stop the doomsday scenario - because nobody believes them that Persephone Inc is actually the front for a terrorist organization.
Of course, getting to/from Ceres actually wouldn't be that expensive in this setting, as the space drives get 150 mps per tank of hydrogen fuel at 0.1G. Time would be more important, although with the defenses planets have against ships slamming into them you can probably approach a planet at a decent clip, using your K-Sink to slow down at the end (or be annihilated if you fail to). Our theoretical miners/terrorists might find it difficult to convince anyone to let them move Ceres (or whatever massive planetoid they've chosen), although if they're that well organized they might be able to bribe their way through.
Time is money. Just getting Ceres/Vesta this side of Mars saves time, fuel, and shipping costs. Safety becomes a valid argument, as anything can go wrong in space. Remember, if Mars is blocking your line of sight for communications, that "OHCRAP! S.O.S." signal could be blocked for hours. Yes, I'm sure satellites could be set up, but bribery/blackmail/etc can be quite convincing.
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Old 09-27-2013, 02:34 PM   #18
Varyon
 
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Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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If your players ask why, just be sure to have some kind of nuclear incident that trumps Chernobyl ;)
"We left that nonsense behind on Earth. Do you have any idea how many people died because of radiation poisoning from those horrible nuclear reactors? Sure, you hear a lot about the damage nukes did - and make no mistake they murdered a lot of people - but the real killers were those reactors."
(While we're using Sol system for our examples, in this setting Sol actually exists within a hyperspace "bubble," cutting Earth off and relegating it to background status. Everyone that characters will interact with are the descendants of generation ships that made the slow trek out of this void. You don't even need a disaster, just statistics blown out of proportion and distorted over a long period of time).

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Time is money. Just getting Ceres/Vesta this side of Mars saves time, fuel, and shipping costs. Safety becomes a valid argument, as anything can go wrong in space. Remember, if Mars is blocking your line of sight for communications, that "OHCRAP! S.O.S." signal could be blocked for hours. Yes, I'm sure satellites could be set up, but bribery/blackmail/etc can be quite convincing.
Indeed. I may well end up using something like this as a plot point, although I'm currently undecided.
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Old 09-27-2013, 02:35 PM   #19
Nereidalbel
 
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Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

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"We left that nonsense behind on Earth. Do you have any idea how many people died because of radiation poisoning from those horrible nuclear reactors? Sure, you hear a lot about the damage nukes did - and make no mistake they murdered a lot of people - but the real killers were those reactors."
(While we're using Sol system for our examples, in this setting Sol actually exists within a hyperspace "bubble," cutting Earth off and relegating it to background status. Everyone that characters will interact with are the descendants of generation ships that made the slow trek out of this void. You don't even need a disaster, just statistics blown out of proportion and distorted over a long period of time).
Propaganda works wonders, doesn't it?

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Indeed. I may well end up using something like this as a plot point, although I'm currently undecided.
Throw in rumors from time to time during the campaign, then either go for it or don't.
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Old 09-27-2013, 03:16 PM   #20
Terwin
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
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Default Re: Potential Pitfalls for a Superscience Technology

You mentioned 'blade' shields.
What is to stop someone from using one of those to provide heat to their power plant? Presumably if you have multiple blades on one satellite, they do not fully enclose the reactor...
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