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Old 12-11-2016, 08:20 AM   #21
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

How 'bout penetrating shields requires a special field around the pod, but the field tends to detonate warheads and other explosives.
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:27 AM   #22
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

Originally Posted by Stormcrow View Post
How 'bout penetrating shields requires a special field around the pod, but the field tends to detonate warheads and other explosives.
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:31 AM   #23
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

Missiles aren't designed to directly impact their targets. Force screens deflect or block the energy from their exploding warheads, but they don't prevent a physical object from coming in contact with the hull. Photon torpedo / plasma torpedo style missiles are already energy to be blocked by shields.

(Guns with KE penetrators would work great against shields, but they're mostly useless at ranges and travel times in space combat. Not worth putting on ships. Armor might also be a factor; guns big enough to breach typical armor are too big, requiring too much ammo, to be militarily effective, no matter what one penetrator might theoretically do if it miraculously hit a ship. Might get a surprise use out of one if you were peacefully docked with a ship next to you. But beams and missiles are the only things you can count on in a battle.)
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Old 12-11-2016, 10:16 AM   #24
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

One important thing to keep in mind is that many of the options that make a distinction between missiles and boarding craft donít account for the fact that, particularly in space, you can easily make a boarding craft-like missile. Do shields negate each other? Build a shielded missile. Is there a size cutoff? Use missiles that are the same size as the boarding craft. Need better maneuverability? Design the missile to have the same maneuverability as a boarding craft. Do you require a human on board to get past the shield? Someoneís going to come up with kamikaze missiles - or manned missiles that eject their passenger before exploding. Do the shields let only slow-moving objects past? Design missiles to slow down just before impact, and pack them full of explosives. Does the shield fry electronics, as in safisherís suggestion? Use a mechanical trigger (a clockwork timer thatís normally held ďoffĒ by electromagnets would work - when the missile gets EMPíd, the magnets shut down and the timer starts up).

That said, there are options to make boarding craft viable. It should go without saying, but all of these assume attempts to just bombard the ship with attacks until the shield is overwhelmed and the ship is dust arenít particularly viable.

Culture: Never underestimate this one. Nukes werenít used in Dune (well, they were, but thatís because Paulís a filthy cheater), not because some technology had made them technologically nonviable, but because youíd have everyone against you if you used them. Any of the above counters can be negated by Culture - missiles larger than 600 lb (SM+1) are forbidden by interstellar treaties, only a barbarian would use manned missiles, and so forth.

Economics: If the salvo of missiles you need to use to take out an enemy ship costs more than the number of boarding craft and crew lost (as well as resources consumed by those that arenít lost) taking out the ship trying to go that route, you may end up with boarding craft being preferable. Thatís not a highly likely situation - boarding craft are going to have a lower rate of success than missiles, and if they need to be made similarly itís unlikely the explosive payload costs more than the crew accommodations, gear, and of course the training and pay for the boarders.

Ship of Steel, Missile of Nerf: If there arenít explosives powerful enough to take out a ship when packed in a boarding craft-sized missile (and kinetic kills arenít an option), youíll need a boarding party to get in to take over or sabotage the ship to beat it.

Internal Shields: Shields are usually handled as a shell surrounding the ship, but what if they instead strengthened the shipís structure and components? That is, instead of granting DR, they granted a high level of IT:DR. If youíve got a setup where itís possible to locally negate a small section of shielding (say, with shielding of your own), then a missile can only vaporize a small part of the ship at a time, but a boarding craft can cut a hole in and insert a boarding party to overtake or sabotage the ship. Heck, if you make the shield a field, and go with the option of it letting slow moving things through, you can end up with a case where boarders (and the defenders) have to engage in melee combat, because the shield absorbs their ranged attacks.

Valuable Component: If ships contain some valuable component that the other side could use - rare precursor artifacts, brainwashable psionic operators, whatever - then destroying the ship with missiles may be a bad idea. Youíll want to send in a boarding party to, at the very least, steal the component and get away before the ship gets pounded to dust.

My own space opera setting Iíve been working on combines several of these. Culture is mostly used just for taking nukes - and nuclear energy - off the table. In that, capital ships tend to have two layers of shielding - an external shell, and an internal field. The shell is susceptible to being broken down by other shields, and is of variable reliability - itís actually wired into the pilotís brain (typically through something akin to the TL10 Neural Interface Helmet) and uses this to ďflickerĒ the shield (it canít be maintained) to block attacks. It canít interact as readily with large or slow-moving objects, and while the flicker canít be predicted by computers (unless you donít have it linked to a human brain, but thatís just asking for trouble), a quirk of human pattern recognition means it can be predicted, albeit subconsciously (shows up more as a gut feeling than a proper prediction), by a wired-up human brain. I need to work out the numbers, but basically how it works out is that shields take an Active Defense (in addition to the Dodge of the pilot, if applicable) based on the pilotís ship operation skill, with penalties for large or slow-moving attacks, while the attacker can take a penalty (which can be reduced by a Technique, unlike Deceptive Attack) to reduce this and give him a better shot at getting through. ďBlind firedĒ (those made without human guidance) attacks have almost no chance of getting through a shield. Gunners can typically only control one missile at a time. The internal field layer on capital ships isnít nearly as effective as the ďshell,Ē but doesnít suffer from variable reliability. It will basically leech the energy from energy attacks and explosions, greatly reducing their range.

Combined with the fact that the way the drives work space battles literally take place at ranges and speeds more akin to WWII naval battles (with aircraft carriers), the whole affair means that fighters are susceptible to missiles and other projectiles (beams and bullets, provided the shooter is sufficiently skilled to get past the shield). Capital ships are typically large enough, and their internal field strong enough, that beams, bullets, and explosions (from missiles) are typically only able to damage the outer structures in the short term, although with enough damage and enough passage of time the external shell will overheat and have to be shut down, which will render the capital ship more susceptible to external threats. If fighting it long enough to take down the external shell isnít viable, boarding parties can get in to sabotage the ship. Mecha make for another complication (they have blades functionally made of collapsed shielding, which do more damage to capital ships than they really have any right to), but thatís the basics of it.
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Old 12-11-2016, 10:31 AM   #25
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

This is actually pretty difficult since there's no reason to apply the same shield piercing tech to a missile. I saw someone mention detecting power potential of the warheads of missiles making them what defenses go after, but if sensor tech is like what's in either Star Wars or Star Trek, then really there's no reason for the pods to not be taken care of too.

You could consider stealth tech, but again... it could work for both missiles or ships. Same could be said for using some kind of short hyperspace jump to get past a shield. Same could be said for a shield projector that bends the shield in front of you to have an opening. Same could be said for the Dune style shield where speed is the issue.

You might have to lean on a "magical" explanation that's related to people... like people using the Force in Star Wars. You don't put those people on a missile because they're not really expendable. But a boarding craft with some troops on it that can pass through shields because of one person with some power makes some sense. Doesn't have to be the Force of course. Maybe it's psionic powers, and one of the categories allows people with that power to bend shields to leave openings if they're close.
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Old 12-12-2016, 03:00 AM   #26
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

What about a slightly different approach, to penetrate a shield you need a (living) hacker who is close enough to have no signal lag.

A twist on the idea is the hacker just reshapes the enemies shields and creates a bubble that the boarding party (have to) use to close on the enemy vessel.
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Old 12-12-2016, 10:21 AM   #27
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

Staying, say, 200 miles away reduces your lightlag to about a millisecond, which is tiny compared to human response times.
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Old 12-12-2016, 11:35 AM   #28
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

My current space setting doesn't use shields. There are occasional boarding actions: when a ship has been crippled but not destroyed, it's a prime intelligence source, and getting a bunch of marines aboard to seize key points before the enemy crew can scuttle is potentially useful. But these situations are rare enough that only the biggest ships would spend their hangar space on dedicated boarding pods rather than general-purpose shuttles.
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Old 12-12-2016, 12:36 PM   #29
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Default Re: [Space Opera] Boarding Pods ideas

Originally Posted by RogerBW View Post
But these situations are rare enough that only the biggest ships would spend their hangar space on dedicated boarding pods rather than general-purpose shuttles.

For each SM +6 shuttle you carry, you can use the space for:
3 SM +5 starfighters or shuttles, or
10 SM +4 starfighters, or
30 SM +3 boarding pods carrying a squad.

Really, I see the latter being "fired" like escape pods rather than being launched from a hangar bay, but that's a bit of aesthetics. Of course, like missiles, boarding pods tend to be somewhat expendable, though generally recoverable post-battle for re-use.

Overall, I think I'm going to go with Anthony's suggestion that piloting a pod through a force screen takes a bit of skill unavailable to most computers, coupled with Diomedes's suggestion that force screen busting tech is too bulky for use on most missiles, hence why it's never used on SM +1 or +2 missiles (because it can't).

Thanks, y'all.
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Last edited by Phantasm; 08-29-2018 at 03:13 PM.
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