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Old 08-10-2021, 06:29 PM   #1
Greg 1
 
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Default [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

Does your universe only make use of only one type of spaceship power plant (say, Fusion Reactor). Or do the inhabitants use spaceship power plants of different kinds? If so, how did that work out?
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Old 08-10-2021, 10:56 PM   #2
Fred Brackin
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

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Originally Posted by Greg 1 View Post
Does your universe only make use of only one type of spaceship power plant (say, Fusion Reactor). Or do the inhabitants use spaceship power plants of different kinds? If so, how did that work out?
My last Space campaign asumed that one specifc type of power plant outperformed any alternative at the setting's highest TL (and I could prove that with Ve2). Groundlings could make do with low tech but ships had to have TL10 gear in critical systems

Really there isn't all that much choice in the Spaceships corebook. Super fusion and Total Conversion are above most settings TL.

Nobody trusts antimatter and it's expensive too.

Fusion outperforms fission and few people want to clean up after fission anyway.

Fuel cells are viable for very short-term use and are very cheap.

Solar is more for stations that stay in the better solar zones and don't go into anything's shadow.

If you go to Book 7 Vacuum Energy is high performing but expensive. Everything else there is mostly for people who lack other choices.
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Old 08-11-2021, 12:27 AM   #3
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Default Re: [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

I run a 'Traveller' campaign and use Spaceships. I map the higher TLs as follows:

TTL GTL
9.....9
10....9
11....9
12....10
13....10
14....11
15....11

Anti-matter powerplants are unavailable (as in Traveller they're outside normal Imperial tech levels), but super-fusion is. Thus at TL9-10 ships use fusion, and at TL11 they use super-fusion unless they don't need that much power, in which case they stick with the (cheaper) fusion reactors. It works out fine - TL11 ships are a lot more capable than TL10 ships, as they should be. TL9 ships are limited to half-power thrusters, so they're slow and they their choices of systems (especially weapons) sucks, so they're rather less capable than TL10 ships unless you just want to haul cargo, so that works out too.
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Old 08-11-2021, 05:00 AM   #4
RogerBW
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

In my most recent Spaceships-heavy campaign (TL 11 ish, natural jump points requiring no special ship's equipment but several AU from the star and only going to a single other system):
  • Modern warships use antimatter plasma torch + super fusion power plant
  • Older warships, and pirates trying to look like merchants, use antimatter plasma rocket + nuclear thermal rocket (one for long haul, the other for tactical manoeuvres, and if you assume the antimatter is stored separately from the hydrogen they can run off the same fuel tanks) + antimatter power plant if they need one
  • Merchants use antimatter plasma rocket only (no power plant needed)
  • Air-breathing civilian shuttles use antimatter thermal ram-rockets (no power plant needed)
  • Weather control satellites use solar panels (no drive needed)
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Old 08-11-2021, 06:08 AM   #5
malloyd
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

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Originally Posted by Greg 1 View Post
Does your universe only make use of only one type of spaceship power plant (say, Fusion Reactor). Or do the inhabitants use spaceship power plants of different kinds? If so, how did that work out?
The only Space setting I've run in the last decade or so has quite compact and efficient fusion powerplants, so little if anything larger than a personal ground vehicle will run on anything else. Small stuff normally runs on power cells periodically recharged from the (localized) power grids.

Spacecraft propulsion runs on "fusion" thrusters that are effectively conversion engines, and ignores the power plant implications thereof, because while I want them to use fuel, I know from experience how any kind of realistic reaction engine cripples the use of spacecraft in an actual *adventure*. And I really want the plot convenience of PC owned spaceships that can visit, land at, and take off from, places that aren't developed spaceports, no matter how fundamentally unrealistic that is.
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Old 08-11-2021, 02:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

For my Harpyias setting, I intend for the ships to use superscience capacitors, without any sort of proper power plant on board. Many will have small retractable solar panel arrays to augment the capacitors, but those really just serve to reduce the rate of energy consumption (or to slowly recharge in the case of an emergency). Power generation in space is in the form of solar "fueling stations" that vessels can dock with to recharge (most are likely to have various supplies available for purchase, at a premium) - chemical fuels don't have enough energy density to compete with the capacitors, fission (and RTG) is outlawed, and fusion/antimatter/total conversion simply aren't available. Planetside, the same superscience that protects spacecraft with shielding can be exploited to generate energy, but that's not really feasible in the vacuum of space (it draws power from subspace, and heats up while in operation; this lets you setup a heat engine powered by subspace, provided you've got somewhere to dump the heat).
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Old 08-11-2021, 03:09 PM   #7
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Default Re: [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

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Originally Posted by Varyon View Post
For my Harpyias setting, I intend for the ships to use superscience capacitors, without any sort of proper power plant on board. Many will have small retractable solar panel arrays to augment the capacitors, but those really just serve to reduce the rate of energy consumption (or to slowly recharge in the case of an emergency). Power generation in space is in the form of solar "fueling stations" that vessels can dock with to recharge (most are likely to have various supplies available for purchase, at a premium) - chemical fuels don't have enough energy density to compete with the capacitors, fission (and RTG) is outlawed, and fusion/antimatter/total conversion simply aren't available. Planetside, the same superscience that protects spacecraft with shielding can be exploited to generate energy, but that's not really feasible in the vacuum of space (it draws power from subspace, and heats up while in operation; this lets you setup a heat engine powered by subspace, provided you've got somewhere to dump the heat).
What makes that not viable in space?
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Old 08-11-2021, 03:48 PM   #8
Varyon
 
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Default Re: [Spaceships] How many types of power plant in your universe?

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What makes that not viable in space?
My original thought was that you can't dump the heat into vacuum readily enough to generate enough energy to bother with. Given only the shield generator would heat up, however, I now realize you should certainly be able to dump the heat into your vessel. So, the revised version (because I don't want this to be a powerplant option for spacecraft) is that the shield generators output very little energy for their size (the planetside ones have to be fairly massive) and at the size a spacecraft needs its generator to be, keeping the shields on the edge of collapsing would only generate a relative trickle of energy (perhaps roughly comparable to the standard small retractable solar panels at around the 1.11 AU mark, which is within the system's habitable zone). It's an option for recharging, but certainly not something to rely on as it makes you a sitting duck for pirates and the like (and you can't use the boost function of your drive while the shield is active, restricting you to a crawl if you're trying to move around while charging). I'll mull it over in my head to see if instead allowing this to be used for quick charging might work for the type of setting I'm aiming for.
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