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Old 06-17-2015, 02:05 AM   #1
vicky_molokh
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Default Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

Greetings, all!

I'm curious whether anyone had experience with using Bioships (as in, biological spaceships, as described on and around page 98 of GURPS Bio-Tech) in their campaign? I'm doubly interested in any cases of bioships coexisting with 'normal' spaceships (as in, those built using either the GURPS Spaceships series in 4e, or GURPS Vehicles in 3e)?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-17-2015, 07:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

I've used something close to them -- some space explorer PCs came across an abandoned 'farm' of bioengineered life forms capable of reproducing in space, using the minerals in comets and asteroids, solar power, and the custom setting FTL system (which works fairly close to planets) to travel between food sources (notably they needed both ice bodies and rock bodies).

The creatures were a mix of silicon and organic biology, and couldn't be used as living ships without capturing and modifying them, either gutting them and using the shell, or putting in mechanisms to steer. The real point was to leave one in a system, let it grow, and come back to hundreds of expensive FTL drives.

The senario was a puzzle for the players-- what these things were and how they got there, and how they could be used usefully. One that they sadly quickly decided was a distraction from their main mission of finding the various lost colonies of humanity, and they never figured out what was going on.
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Old 06-17-2015, 07:47 AM   #3
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

Had a space campaign once with Bioships, regular 'earthling' type ships, and Clockwork ships (that used lightsails).

Functionally the 'Earth' ships were the fastest, best armed, and most versatile of the 'racial' designs. The bioships were a bit slower, less armed (they tended towards 'melee combat' in space - yes those ships grappled), better armored, self-repairing (to a degree), and more 'self-sufficient', but also occasionally a bit unruly. The players never piloted a clockwork ship or they'd have learned how slow, persnickety, finicky, and fragile they tended to be (in comparison to the other ships - they were still more than space worthy).


The clockwork ships were used by a race that hated and feared 'synthetic intelligence' and but weren't as bio-savy as the bio-tech race.
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Old 06-17-2015, 08:54 AM   #4
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

I haven't used them yet, but I intend to have the only known alien* species in the space opera setting I'm occasionally working on use bioships. This species has several possible forms an adult can take, which is set for each individual during the metamorphosis from a grub. The basic body structure is vaguely insectoid, albeit with bifocal, mammalian eyes. They have a hard exoskeleton, a head with strong mandibles, 8 legs, 4 wings, and a long tail. Only one known morph appears to be sapient - these have enlarged skulls and are bipedal, with the front-most limbs functioning as arms, the second and third pair being small grasping hands, the wings being mostly nonfunctional, and the tail having a spike on it. Other morphs appear to have animal intelligence and will typically obey the sapient morphs.

The bioships are the largest known morphs. They do not appear to be able to function in atmosphere, but their wings can interact with hyperspace**, allowing them to maneuver in space. They can use their legs to grapple and their tail to strike. They are hollow inside, having a single large internal chamber, which the sapients modify with partitions, control stations, and so forth. Adjacent to this chamber is a womb where new grubs - genetically identical to the ship - are produced Most are augmented with retractable beam weapons and comm/sensor suites and are considered to be cybernetic. Very young bioships are much faster and more maneuverable, carrying a single passenger (or several passengers for slightly older ones) and function as hybrid fighter/boarding craft.

I intend to build the bioships with Spaceships rather than using BioTech guidelines.

*Actually an engineered race created by humans, but very few are in the know or even suspect this.
**Interacting with hyperspace for maneuvering gives the bioships pseudovelocity and pseudoatmospheric handling, although the large ones behave more like airships than airplanes. The bioships are actually able to enter and exit hyperspace much more easily than human ships, but are extremely vulnerable there - beam weapons don't work properly in hyperspace, and the aliens seem loathe to use projectiles, so the bioships can't fight very well, and a single penetrating hit will kill one and its entire "crew."
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Old 06-18-2015, 06:53 PM   #5
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

It hasn't come up in the timeline, yet, but the Changing Martians (DC-style Martians, id est telepathic shapeshifters) in my Five Earths setting (see .sig) use bioships, and in fact have a techbase that's nearly pure biotech (the TL is either (0+11)^, (1+10)^, or (2+9)^, depending on how you look at it, as they started out with selective breeding, and slowly developed to the point of being equal to TL11^).

Changing Martian vessels are considered very dangerous, but more because of their tech level and psi abilities, rather than bioships being inherently superior. The 'operating' skill for their bioships is Riding (bioship type), with Veterinary, Diagnosis, and Surgery replacing 'repair' skills. Astrogation, Shiphandling, and Crewman work mostly the same as for 'normal' vessels, though.
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Old 06-18-2015, 09:23 PM   #6
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
they tended towards 'melee combat' in space - yes those ships grappled
Well, they'd have to, unless they reproduced asexually. The old "horizontal docking maneuver".

The aliens in my setting might use ships with biological components, though I haven't made up my mind. Not true bioships, but mechanical ships with gooey stuff inside.
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Old 06-19-2015, 12:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

If I genetically engineered a bioship, I would not want sexual reproduction reorganizing my design all willy-nilly.
I'm all for nice stable self-cloning.
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Old 06-19-2015, 01:20 AM   #8
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

Is it really the case that nobody tried building bioships using the rules in Bio-Tech p.98? I was particularly interested in settings where such a ship-growing coexists with Spaceships-spaceship building methods (and yes, I know that Spaceships has biological options for ships, but said option is something between 'meh' and 'cosmetic, at a cost of eating lots of food' in SS).
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Old 06-19-2015, 01:47 AM   #9
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

It seems really like an either or situation. I can't imagine any settings where they would play well together.
Metal beats flesh in the real world, so coming up with reasons why it isn't so one sided would probably come off very artificial and clunky, no pun intended, for once.
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Old 06-19-2015, 02:19 AM   #10
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Default Re: Spaceships vs Bioships (BIO98)

The Night's Dawn series by Peter F Hamilton has bioships and bio-habitats which compete effectively with non-living technology. This is a consequence of humanity's division into two political camps, one of which uses biotech, while the other avoids it.
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