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Old 09-06-2015, 01:04 PM   #32
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Eindhoven, the Netherlands
Default Re: GURPS Starships line errata (and some observations)

Originally Posted by weevis View Post
Speaking of missiles: Even though some of the example ships in the Spaceships series mount the extremely-lethal missiles of the SS rules, the ship designers seem unevenly worried about them. Sometimes a weapons system that appears to be intended for missile defense is present but most often it is not. But the Space combat rules about point defense seem to be urging me to ALWAYS equip an obsolete (since damage doesn't matter in missile defense) very rapid fire turret of some kind in the central section to use as a point defense weapon.

Then it occurred to me: Maybe these were all just all supposed to be NPC ships meant to blow up more regularly and satisfyingly than the one the adventurers are using?
It seems to me that most of the designed ships are meant to emulate something out of fiction, either a hard postulation of what a ship might look like, or whooshy space opera.

For example, the Starhawk is clearly an X-wing. It has four forward-fixed blasters, wings a missile launcher and an engine room (with a robot in it, usually). Why? Because x-wings have wings, four forward fixed blasters and a missile launcher (which fire proton torpedos, of course). The Typhoon is clearly a tie-fighter, so it has two blasters (which really should be fixed, but isn't, for some reason), is highly agile, and lacks shields. It's light, small, maneuverable and disposable.

But what actually happens in a fight? Do they circle around one another trying to shoot each other? Nope. The fight comes down to whether or not the Tie fighter uses up its weapons in point-defense or not, because if it doesn't, the x-wing WILL hit it it with that missile, and it will kill the tie-fighter. The only reason NOT to do this would be to save ammo.

There's some good material, some good game-play, in Spaceships, but it takes some work to ferret it out, and the example spaceships don't really take advantage of interesting tactical spaces. They'll work, after a fashion, because the SS series is hardly the worst mechanics in the world, but they work better if you finesse them.

For example, missiles aren't nearly as lethal as people seem to think. Guns and missiles scale slower than beam weapons. A beam weapon doubles its damage (and armor doubles its DR) every +2 SM, while ballistics do the same every +4 SM. I noticed this when I started working on some very large ships and I noticed that the missiles weren't nearly as much of a problem as I thought they were. Fighters are just destroyed by missiles (an SM +5 fighter has 20 hp and can sport a 20cm missile launcher, which deals an average of 100 damage, which is nearly instant death against an unarmored ship, and when you account for the minimum of 2x damage, surely instant death). Huge dreadnoughts, though, have less of a problem (An SM+15 ship has 1000 hp and can carry a 112 cm missile, which deals an average of 560 damage, which isn't enough to even bring the dreadnought to negative HP. If you double the damage because of minimum speed, you'll bring the dreadnought to negative HP, but if you put any armor on it (A single system of Nanocomposite Armor at SM +15 is already DR 300) and a missile hit is quite survivable Put three systems on (900 DR, 1000 HP vs 560-1100 damage) and you're barely taking any damage. Of course, if the missile hits directly, it has an armor divisor of 2, but if your armor is hardened, you can remove that. Never mind Exotic Laminate: three systems of that is DR 2100.

You can get around that problem by making faster missiles (Super-missiles do 10x damage rather than 2x, and any missile in a faster, farther scale will do more and more damage), but you could keep scaling the sizes up to take advantage of that ratio problem, if you were really so inclined. Effectively, unconventional warheads become a must at some point. But my real point is this: Understanding this and how things scale, you can move things around for your chosen TL and your chosen combat-model until you had just the right sizes, ranges, time-scales, etc. Finding those, is a problem... though I've been doing some homework. When I have some results, I'll post them.
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