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Old 08-05-2021, 11:48 AM   #11
ericthered
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

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Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
Start with the feeling and themes of the setting and then decide what kinds of spaceships exist there.
I completely agree, and this is how I design my star drives.

Lawmen of Borlo needed a setting where world about a resource rush could reach population centers quickly and then take a decently long time for people to get there, but it still made sense to have the galaxy sparsely seeded with settlements. I used a jump-drive system that could make extremely long jumps, but with a low degree of accuracy (a 20,000 ly jump had a 25% margin of error). Smaller jumps had better accuracy. I think each jump took about a week. Jumping to around exceptionally large stars/black holes let you get better accuracy, and the solar system had built a hideously expensive artificial anomaly that gave a similar performance boost. We never actually went to space, but the basics of the system came up a bunch, because they determined what resources where and weren't available.

I've got a setting I played a couple of games in about exploring the stars with a stardrive for the first time. I used warp drives with speeds from around 5c to 100c, depending on circumstance. I had "roads" of space that were "easier to warp", and an alien civilization built around those. Every new world was a big deal, and each voyage was a big deal... which was the point, because it was an exploration game.


I've got an expansive space empire setting I hope to play with soon, where I'm trying to do a kitchen sink treatment. Its FTL connects different pockets of time and space via a jump drive with jump points that are sensitive to time, and they may be open hourly or maybe only every six months. This lets me present isolated networks of "territory" that have a given culture. And cut off areas if they prove to be problematic, or tell the PC's they only have to stall the invaders for two months instead of defeating them.


Dreadstormers uses Jump drives with a 5 day lapse and take two jumps to get between close systems. I needed time for the players to take over the ship, and the travel time is their clock. I also am using jump drive like traveller because the ship was designed for a "everything is on fire" scenario, and I wanted an excuse to fill the ship with flamable hydrogen bricks. And to make the machinery involved as troublesome as possible, so we have a spinning jump core, capacitors to dump energy into it, and plasma emmiters to flood hyperspace with hydrogen to inflate the bubble of reality.


Space Boarders I never answered those questions for. The players didn't drive ships, they boarded them violently.

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So, I created an FTL drive where objective (outside the ship) travel speed was measured in hundreds of times the speed of light. Then, I had subjective (inside the ship) travel speed stuck at speed-of-light.
Ok, that's cool and unique. Well done.
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Last edited by ericthered; 08-05-2021 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 08-05-2021, 12:38 PM   #12
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

In my space setting, the C limit is a function of the curvature of space. FTL drives work by transiting 'subspace', thereby going 'straight' rather than around the curve. Accordingly, travel time is still distance related, but much faster than C.

Internal subspace drives appear at TL10, but rudimentary subspace gates are possible at TL9.
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Old 08-05-2021, 01:14 PM   #13
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

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In my space setting, the C limit is a function of the curvature of space. FTL drives work by transiting 'subspace', thereby going 'straight' rather than around the curve. Accordingly, travel time is still distance related, but much faster than C.
It seems that the greatest factor of speedup you could get would be equal to π, and that you could only get that if you were going to a destination that was diametrically opposed to yours on the great hypersphere of space. Or are you envisioning space as being elaborately folded, like a paper napkin or something?
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Old 08-05-2021, 02:39 PM   #14
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

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Originally Posted by Greg 1 View Post
The GURPS Spaceships design system offers various alternatives for what is technologically possible, even at a given tech level. Most obviously, decisions have to be made about how spaceships travel faster than light, and what weapons can exist.

What choices did you make (or would you make) regarding what technology is used for spaceships?

Have you tried converting ships other people have made that use different technology? How hard was it?

On a related note, does anyone know of any online GURPS Spaceships collections?
In my space opera game, I used a "6 lightyears per week" (just under one lightyear per day) maximum FTL speed using the hyperdrive method, with a minor increase based on the MoS of Navigation (Hyperspace) rolls. Piloting (Hyperspace) was out as I was using "cannot change course once in hyperspace until you drop out" as a thing.

I also used waste heat signatures on reactionless engines that weren't the Hot Reactionless option, so that more sluggish ships (using the Standard and Rotary Reactionless options) also had waste heat. I've also made those pseudovelocity, with a top speed equaling 10G mps (e.g. a 1G engine hits a sustainable 10 mps, while a 10G engine hits a sustainable 100 mps). In this case, "mps" is the actual speed, not delta-V.


As for a ship collection, http://dagwood.sandwich.net/venture/ships.pdf is what I made (though it's not the most recent update). There are a few things in there which are adaptations of some Star Wars, Wing Commander, and even Star Trek ships, although most of it is my own creation.
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Old 08-09-2021, 02:09 AM   #15
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

I wanted a setting that allowed small groups to use spacecraft of modest size and low (relative) cost to make interstellar journeys, but at the same time I didn't want the full implications of such a tech level.

So most interstellar travel in my Orichalcum Universe takes place through a combination of small ground-to-orbit (or in some cases interplanetary-capable) vessels, which dock with or are carried within enormous FTL vessels called 'star carriers'. The small ships don't have their own onboard FTL drives.

So an interstellar journey might consist of boarding your personal ship at the spaceport (or stretch of level ground on a primitive world) and flying up to parking orbit, where you dock with or are taken within a huge space-to-space star carrier. Such a star carrier might be able to carry your ship and dozens or occasionally hundreds of others. Of course, this FTL ride is not free!

When the star carrier goes into orbit around the destination planet, you fly down in your own ship and land. Thus a personal spacecraft, able to make ground-to-orbit or sometimes Earth-to-Luna trips on its own, can take you on an interstellar journey.

It also means you can't just leave anytime you want! You have to wait for the next available star carrier to show up. Otherwise, you're not going anywhere (except maybe orbit). The natives may be restless and looking to skin you alive, but that doesn't mean you can get away for another two weeks or two months or whatever when the star carrier makes its rounds. So it's possible to easily strand a player party on one planet without being too arbitrary about it.

Since most star carriers follow a strict schedule, it also means that you'd better be ready when it does show up. If the star carrier is up there in orbit waiting and will leave in another 24 hours, it's a bad time for your engineer to have the Number Two rocket motor dismantled! If you don't get your ship flying in time, you'll miss your ride and be stuck until the next carrier comes by. Which might be soon on a settled, civilized world, or might be next year on a backwater planet.

Star carriers vary widely in size, cost, and comfort. Most star carriers have the passengers live aboard their own vessels inside the hold or docked to the exterior (though the carrier usually provides them with 'shore power' and consumables, because that's safer and easier to heat-manage than letting everybody run their own power plants inside the hold, and of course it's also a revenue stream). Many star carriers, but not all, also offer luxurious accommodations for wealthier passengers.

It's possible to build an FTL drive into a small ship, but it's not usually done, because FTL drives are (relatively) cheap to operate but budget-breakingly expensive to construct. Thus most small atmosphere-capable FTL ships are military (and even the military uses them sparingly).
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Old 08-09-2021, 05:27 PM   #16
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
It seems that the greatest factor of speedup you could get would be equal to π, and that you could only get that if you were going to a destination that was diametrically opposed to yours on the great hypersphere of space. Or are you envisioning space as being elaborately folded, like a paper napkin or something?
Something like the latter. Not folded though, just a sharper curvature than euclidian geometry conceives. Maybe more like a tight spiral. And higher power drives available at higher TLs allow entry into subspace at greater angles/velocities.
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Old 08-09-2021, 05:50 PM   #17
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

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Something like the latter. Not folded though, just a sharper curvature than euclidian geometry conceives. Maybe more like a tight spiral. And higher power drives available at higher TLs allow entry into subspace at greater angles/velocities.
That reminds me of the onion analogy I use for describing how hyperspace works: RealSpace is the "skin" of the "onion", and you travel through hyperspace/wormhole shortcuts passing "deeper" into the "onion". While in theory this could result in instantaneous travel, to do so would compress anything passing through it into a singularity, hence why the safe speeds are measured in single digit lightyears per week.
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Old 08-09-2021, 06:51 PM   #18
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

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That reminds me of the onion analogy I use for describing how hyperspace works: RealSpace is the "skin" of the "onion", and you travel through hyperspace/wormhole shortcuts passing "deeper" into the "onion". While in theory this could result in instantaneous travel, to do so would compress anything passing through it into a singularity, hence why the safe speeds are measured in single digit lightyears per week.
That's an amazing coincidence because, while I hadn't mentioned it, my multiverse model is also an onion 'shape', although somewhat different than your description.
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Old 08-09-2021, 07:34 PM   #19
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

I have a setting where travel is instantaneous outside the ship, and very fast but still fairly slow on a cosmic scale inside the ship. Insert some technobabble here about bubbles and time/space manipulation. The setting also doesn't have advanced enough AIs or automation to just make complete cryosleep viable, and there's no FTL communication (or at least none that fit in a ship). So there's a certain "wild west" vibe, and interstellar polities can only grow so big. Ships will sometimes just disappear and never return.
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Old 08-10-2021, 09:02 PM   #20
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Default Re: Spaceship Tech in your Setting

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I have a setting where travel is instantaneous outside the ship, and very fast but still fairly slow on a cosmic scale inside the ship. Insert some technobabble here about bubbles and time/space manipulation. The setting also doesn't have advanced enough AIs or automation to just make complete cryosleep viable, and there's no FTL communication (or at least none that fit in a ship). So there's a certain "wild west" vibe, and interstellar polities can only grow so big. Ships will sometimes just disappear and never return.
Can the current level of automation handle short jaunts? It occurs to me there would be a variety of applications of this if an automated system can jump the ship back and forth in a relatively small area - you could age cheese/wine, grow crops, mine prodigious quantities of cryptocurrency (likely resulting in that market being completely non-viable, but you could use the same methods for other time-consuming computations, like brute-force decryption), and so forth, all in a matter of moments. Even if the vessels must be manned (and you aren't unethical enough to force people to man it so you can get a good 8-year-old tawny port in an instant), you could potentially leverage it to "instantly" train people - a ship leaves with batch of fresh recruits and comes back with fully-trained soldiers (or whatever you trained them for) only seconds later. A society that embraced this could be incredibly adaptable, "instantly" training people for whatever role is needed right now.
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