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Old 02-03-2019, 09:57 AM   #21
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post

Spaceships use of gunner's skill for missile attacks is indeed baffling.
Spaceships is a small-ish, gamist battle game firstmost and an rpg supplement after that. "Reality Simualtion" is a distant third if it's there at all.
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Old 02-03-2019, 12:39 PM   #22
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Spaceships is a small-ish, gamist battle game firstmost and an rpg supplement after that. "Reality Simualtion" is a distant third if it's there at all.
Reality simulation it is not, but I'm not sure I'd describe it as a "battle game firstmost". A lot of stuff in there clearly is the way it is because it's trying to be a truly generic RPG supplement, but that means accommodating both people who want hard SF and people who just want to play Star Wars or Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off. Now, if you care about building a sci-fi setting that actually makes sense (as a opposed to just replicating naval warfare tropes like Wars and Trek do), there's something to be said for looking at it from the angle of a wargameóbut as I keep finding out, I don't feel like that's where Spaceships shines.

Having said all that, I think for my games I might settle on a hard range limit for missiles equal to the active sensor ranges given on Spaceships p. 45. At TL10, if you're using small missile-armed fighters as your primary combat craft, maximum engagement ranges will be on the order of a light second, which at least theoretically can fit on a normal-sized battle map if you use 10,000 mile hexes (although doing so has definite downsides). I don't know if that's 100% justifiable in terms of likely future technology for space warfare, but it seems like it's in the spirit of a lot of Spaceships assumptions.
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Old 02-03-2019, 01:13 PM   #23
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Reality simulation it is not, but I'm not sure I'd describe it as a "battle game firstmost".
Some of my feeling may be feedback from David Pulver during the playtest and/or going back to previous projects. The first draft of Transhuman Space (the corebook) had a more elaborate gamist combat system in it. I'm afraid I led a biot of arevot agsint it back then suggesting that it be moved to Deep Beyond.

There was another sort of gamist combat system in the last edition of Space for 3e too. David was prominent in the Gurps Traveller version as well. David just likes space combat games.

If you doubt the central nature of a combat system in Spaceships just look at how ships are organized i.e. into random hit location charts.
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Old 02-03-2019, 02:33 PM   #24
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Spaceships use of gunner's skill for missile attacks is indeed baffling.
I assume they use a mixture of command guidance, inertial/stellar fixing with mid-course updates, and on-board sensors (probably with two-way comms to the launching vessel), and obviously local sensors for terminal homing.

As for why the firing gunner's skill makes any real difference - for the same reason it does when you attack a manoeuvring ship 10,000 miles away with a laser - fun game play.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:21 AM   #25
David L Pulver
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
Some of my feeling may be feedback from David Pulver during the playtest and/or going back to previous projects. The first draft of Transhuman Space (the corebook) had a more elaborate gamist combat system in it. I'm afraid I led a bit of a revolt against it back then suggesting that it be moved to Deep Beyond.

There was another sort of gamist combat system in the last edition of Space for 3e too. David was prominent in the Gurps Traveller version as well. David just likes space combat games.

If you doubt the central nature of a combat system in Spaceships just look at how ships are organized i.e. into random hit location charts.
The 20-systems is also partly because 5% increments made the system a lot simpler. The decision to write them up to look like hit location charts was actually made by SJ Games because they thought they looked prettier that way as a page graphic, rather than for hit location. My initial proposal had a Traveller Book 2-style narrative description (but still 20 systems).

Tactical space combat systems are not something I really push or are in love with, though they occasionally interest me. The impetus for them in 3e was largely Gene and Loren, the managing editors of their respective lines, who were both steeped in the wargaming tradition. I'd posted the original Traveller-style modular design system to GURPSNet to describe some stuff I'd played with, some simple vector and combat rules that had actually grown out of an unrelated project for Global Games. Gene was reading GURPSNet - he was pretty active in playing GURPS, and I at one point I was actually in play-by-email game he was running - and he really liked it and asked me if I could write it up Traveller and for Space 3e, which Loren also thought was a good idea. Gene also had an ulterior motive: he had decided he wanted the associated modular design system to include in his upcoming baby, GURPS World War II. As there was no budget for me to be paid for any of the stuff I contributed to Traveller core rulebook (the couple of chapters I wrote for it were initially submitted as playtest comments) or for that matter, in WWII, the quid pro quo as Gene explained it was they got the design system and tactical rules they wanted, and I would get the contract to revise GURPS Space and, at their behest, include the Trav space combat system in the revision. (Gene wanted to do the World War II mofulst conversion himself, along with some other authors; I wasn't really involved in that at all.) (At the time, SJ Games really wanted everything vehicle-ish to be Vehicles derived, even though it really caused a lot of headaches due to Vehicles' complexity.)

The same was initially true of THS. With Transhuman Space, at one point Deep Beyond was intended to be the very first book in the line and SJ Games contacted me to discuss a Transhuman Space wargame. This went back and forth a bit and for various reasons they ended up deciding on a core book instead. By that point, the wargame-ish rules already existed, but as you say, they were by then a poor fit for the actual core book.

SPACESHIPS in contrast had a fairly cleaner design mandate. It was designed to provide some spaceships rules since it was clear that Vehicles wasn't going to be comining out any time soon. It also had to be VERY simple system at heart. SJ Games was having a bout of Vehicles-phobia at the time (sick of big complex rules that caused editorial melt down) and it was made very clear to me that the ONLY way I could get a spaceship design system accepted was to make it as dirt simple as possible while still being moderately realistic. SJ Games were initially skeptical, but the 20 systems - everything in 5% increments - and the 1-3-10 progression was designed for rule simplicity, and they liked that approach. The ability to combine the design system with combat hit location was seen in that respect, as a means of avoiding extra complication, not as a primary design driver, though obviously its utility for combat was seen as an advantage. "Tactical" combat was something of an afterthought: the initial idea was "we'll just mate this to the GURPS Space 3e semi-abstract combat rules" but as it went along, it was apparent that new combat systems were needed to reflect the complexities of scale involved in trying to cover everything from Star Trek to realistic rocket ships in a relatively small space, and that a hex-brid based system would be desired as well, so that was factored into the project line plan.

Primary drivers throughout SPACESHIPS were very tight restrictions on the length of the rule book, driven by constraints of the e23 format and the desire to ensure a certain price point. This meant that something had to give, and as a result the rules had fewer examples and less special cases then they perhaps could have benefitted from, but then again, without these constraints, they would never have been published in the first place...
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:37 AM   #26
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
I assume they use a mixture of command guidance, inertial/stellar fixing with mid-course updates, and on-board sensors (probably with two-way comms to the launching vessel), and obviously local sensors for terminal homing.

As for why the firing gunner's skill makes any real difference - for the same reason it does when you attack a manoeuvring ship 10,000 miles away with a laser - fun game play.
Indeed, that is more or less the way it was, I think.
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:46 AM   #27
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Reality simulation it is not, but I'm not sure I'd describe it as a "battle game firstmost". A lot of stuff in there clearly is the way it is because it's trying to be a truly generic RPG supplement, but that means accommodating both people who want hard SF and people who just want to play Star Wars or Star Trek with the serial numbers filed off. Now, if you care about building a sci-fi setting that actually makes sense (as a opposed to just replicating naval warfare tropes like Wars and Trek do), there's something to be said for looking at it from the angle of a wargameóbut as I keep finding out, I don't feel like that's where Spaceships shines.
You're absolutely right that the single biggest driver is trying to accommodate a wide variety of scales and setting options into one very short rulebook ... while at the same time attempting to stay at least somewhat consistent with existing GURPS game mechanics. The design rules were the primary focus of this, with the combat rules trying to find a way to handle the wide variety of spaceship types, drives, weapon ranges, etc. available. Attempting to do this almost drove me crazy; I think the final version is a decent compromise but the rules would have clearly been a lot tighter if I'd been able to design for a single setting and set of technological assumptions (the way, say, the rules in Interstellar Wars can focus on Traveller).

The other driver of the combat rules was to try and give different crew positions something meaningful to do in a space combat, to a greater degree than earlier GURPS rules on the subject.
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Old 02-11-2019, 09:33 AM   #28
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by David L Pulver View Post

Tactical space combat systems are not something I really push or are in love with, though they occasionally interest me.
Ah, I sit corrected. I shall amend my commnets accordingly in the future.
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Old 02-11-2019, 10:20 AM   #29
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Originally Posted by Michael Thayne View Post
Hmmm. Fair. Even if any given stage can't be shut down, a two-stage system should give you the boost-drift-attack profile that I agree is oh so useful. But Spaceships seems geared somewhat towards giving you "space opera" as an option, and if you push realism to the point where space warfare becomes "exchanging missiles from half an AU or more", the entire system becomes kind of pointless. It's like a system for simulating in great deal an exchange of ICBMs between the US and Russia. Interesting to some people, but it's not what most people shopping for a sci-fi RPG want. So it would be nice to come up with a way to impose de facto range limits on missilesóbut I agree doing this in a way that's realistic is difficult.
Very long range missiles are easy to stop with counter missiles. In order to arrive in a decent period of time, you would have to burn much of your delta-v initially. That means that you could intercept the enemy missiles with much smaller ones (in addition to the advantage counter missiles already have in that they don't need to do as much damage to destroy a missile as the damage needed to destroy a ship).
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Old 02-11-2019, 12:31 PM   #30
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Default Re: [Spaceships] Fixing ballistic weapons in tactical combat

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Very long range missiles are easy to stop with counter missiles. In order to arrive in a decent period of time, you would have to burn much of your delta-v initially. That means that you could intercept the enemy missiles with much smaller ones (in addition to the advantage counter missiles already have in that they don't need to do as much damage to destroy a missile as the damage needed to destroy a ship).
Not an unreasonable analysis, but Spaceships doesn't have short-legged counter-missiles to use for that.

(Whether missiles are really good at intercepting other missiles is also an important question. In Spaceships, I think they're pretty okay.)
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