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Old 01-09-2022, 09:00 AM   #31
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

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Originally Posted by Fred Brackin View Post
I do not recall such. Indeed, I recall very little about the Universe space combat system. It may have been in a supplement in Ares Magazine I think and I may never have seen it.
"DeltaVee, The Complete Tactical Space Combat System For Universe" - Ares #9, no official publication date but it's copyright 1981. Direct-fire weapons are lasers and particle beams; pbeams are more likely to hit at low target value (which is a function of range, relative velocity and target size), lasers at high target value. You also get missiles.

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I know Universe did have a big pretty fold out map made with real astronomy of the time (late 70s). It won't have aged well.
The ancestor-in-spirit of the Traveller 2300/2300AD one…
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Old 01-09-2022, 09:53 AM   #32
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

Another combat system is Star Fleet Battles. Has provisions for energy weapons(phasers, photon torps, disruptors), missiles(drones and plasma torps), shuttles and fighters. Don't think Amarillo Design ever published a formal ship design guide but they may have after my gaming group had quit playing SFB. SFB wasn't meant as a RPG but instead as a Star Trek combat simulator. There were RPG elements added at a later date.

One real world problem with writing a space combat book is we don't have any real world experience with space combat. The only 'deep space' ship humans have flown is the Apollo capsule from the 60's. This makes everything a guess. Also the writers have to find a balance between detail and book size limits. The paperwork for the Apollo capsule was measured in tons. Due to publishing limits and player carrying capacity, a lot of detail has to be omitted from the books that are full of guesses on space ship design, weapons and how it all would work in combat.

My advice is don't worry too much about real world realism. Find a design system that you and your players can easily use to make ships and a combat system that plays well without turning into a day long ordeal. SFB does a good job of handling space combat but if you use the full rules set, a game can last all day. Probably more time the most RPG players want to invest.
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Old 01-09-2022, 10:12 AM   #33
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

IMHO sweeping detail under the rug is fine, but I'd really like a system that acknowledges reality at all when it comes to kinetic weapons. GURPS Spaceships at least makes an effort in this area, it just gets all messed up when you consider that a 4-ton missile is as vulnerable to point-defense as a 135 lb. one.
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Old 01-09-2022, 10:14 AM   #34
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

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I quite like Spacemaster Privateers but the book is full of errors and stuff. Still it's a decent variation on build a box and put stuff in it. It's one of those, not quite as complex and detailed can be a good thing situations.

Traveller the New Era's Fire Fusion and Steel is really good.

BRTC's Vehicles is excellent, of course.

I've designed a couple systems of my own but I'm not here to spam the board.
I'm leaning towards picking up more BTRC books, unsure if my next purposes should be more CORPS books (including Guns, Guns, Guns!) or if I should grab Slag!, which purports to be a self-contained space combat game adaptable for any fictional universe.
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Old 01-09-2022, 10:35 AM   #35
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

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  • GURPS Vehicles 3rd edition. Like I said, I don't mind the complexity, but in spite of all the attention to realism, there are some definite wonk elements, like the laser rules.
When you say "wonky" or "wonk elements," do you mean "excessively complex" or "unreliable, baulky"? Perhaps "giving unintuitive results"? Intuition and combat in space do not go together.

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Not to mention "unforgiving" to the point of being relentlessly hostile. There doesn't seem to be a way for crewed ships to defeat uncrewed ships or for biosophont crews to survive space combat, win, lose, or draw.

It's enough to make a GM wonder whether there might be some sort of adventure possible other than for naval officers in time of war. I'm of the opinion that SF RPGs need spaceship design and combat systems about as much as, and for the same reason that, GURPS Cliffhangers needed a naval combat system.
Which reminds me of Robert Asprin's response to military science fiction becoming an increasingly well defined thing under Jerry Pournelle's tutelage. He wrote the Phule's Company books which look at the story potential in the vast majority of what soldiers do (he eventually had to expand a bit).
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Old 01-09-2022, 11:09 AM   #36
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

Another thing which occurs to me is that very many space RPGs are inspired by things like Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Andromeda. Saying that realistic space combat would be boring and depressing ("*rolls* *frowns* *rolls* due to damage to your radiators, you slowly cook to death in the days following the battle- I want each of you to give me a five-minute scene of your character writing their will before we end the campaign") is beside the point. Its an expected trope, like lockpicking as contest of wits or intricate criminal plots run by geniuses and not people too impulsive and violent to make it in business, too marginalized to have good options, or too young and stupid to realize that being a hit-man is a terrible career. And saying that players and GMs are wrong to want games with chases and gunfights between starships is not helpful.

Real WW II air and naval combat was pretty miserable ("they sunk us with one pair of depth charges? those flying boats are over-powered! killer GM!" "wait, he snuck up underneath us and blew us to pieces with cannons from a blind spot in our turret coverage? don't we get a saving throw?"), but the cinematic and comic-book version is something people enjoy hearing and telling stories about.

In the type of games Agemegos has in mind, good spaceship rules might be inspired by the Lair rules in GURPS which focus on what resources to solve plot problems the ship gives.
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Old 01-09-2022, 11:55 AM   #37
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

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I know Universe did have a big pretty fold out map made with real astronomy of the time (late 70s). It won't have aged well.
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The ancestor-in-spirit of the Traveller 2300/2300AD one…
And the descendant of the map from StarForce: Alpha Centauri.

(An ad for which in Analog is what got me into gaming, so blame goes there.)
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Old 01-09-2022, 08:17 PM   #38
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

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When you say "wonky" or "wonk elements," do you mean "excessively complex" or "unreliable, baulky"? Perhaps "giving unintuitive results"? Intuition and combat in space do not go together.
A major example: GURPS Classic: Vehicles can't decide what exactly HP and damage are supposed to scale with, and is much worse about this than 4e is with its confusion over square-root vs. cube-root damage. The worse part is probably the laser rules, where damage is linear with energy under 1,000 kJ; based on the square root of energy between 1,000 kJ and 1,000,000 kJ, and based on the cube root above that. The laser problem is made particularly bad by 3e's rule that you add all hits from a laser attack together for purposes of overcoming DR (armor).
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Old 01-09-2022, 08:22 PM   #39
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

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A major example: GURPS Classic: Vehicles can't decide what exactly HP and damage are supposed to scale with, and is much worse about this than 4e is with its confusion over square-root vs. cube-root damage.
Confusion in 3e or 4e?

One of the basic dilemmas GURPS faces is that the editors in their wisdom don't believe that their audience will accept pointers from claims to evidence. So its a model build up over time with bits leaning on other bits, and when something changes only a system expert can say which other parts will be affected. It also causes fans to get confused about which parts are based on a lot of thought about how the world works, and which are inherited from early GURPS or are just 'fun to game with'. I don't know if the economics of RPG publishing will support anything more scholarly.
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Old 01-10-2022, 01:51 PM   #40
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Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

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Confusion in 3e or 4e?

One of the basic dilemmas GURPS faces is that the editors in their wisdom don't believe that their audience will accept pointers from claims to evidence. So its a model build up over time with bits leaning on other bits, and when something changes only a system expert can say which other parts will be affected. It also causes fans to get confused about which parts are based on a lot of thought about how the world works, and which are inherited from early GURPS or are just 'fun to game with'. I don't know if the economics of RPG publishing will support anything more scholarly.
Both editions have issues in this area but they're worse in 3e is what I'm saying.
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