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  • Starship ponderings

    I have this idea for a campaign plot, which has led me to read and re-read the spaceship chapter.

    First off, the spaceship chapter has nice information that reminds me and kindles what little is left about physics (and geometry). It's nicely written, and we quickly understand that delta-vee is no longer a practical limitation in the solar system.

    We have the magical Epstein Drive (ED), that removes this problem, but it is clear to me that it doesn't remove the thrust to weight ration (TWR) issue. As the sidebar on page 115 seems to indicate that even with the ED weight of the ship matters and affects travel time. I like this attention to detail, I do not like it that it has no bearing on the game mechanics - unless I'm overlooking something.

    So in short:
    1a) How does weight modify travel times in your game (if at all)?
    1b) How would you go about doing it if you wanted to make it a factor in your game?*
    2) How would you (player/GM of the internet aether) introduce fuel into the game (provided that you were inclined to)?


    Second, I've only read like four of the books, and watched the TV-show, and I'm wondering about sensors and stealth. As I understand it, also based on the rulebook, or at least inferred from it, the ED produces so much heath and light that it negates any kind of stealth tech in existence. That's fair. Yet, at least in the TV-show I believe, spaceships are said to go silent or dark or something, when they set off in a direction and cut the ED, just coasting towards their target. I assume, without stealth tech, these are possible to notice, but really hard (as space is BIG!) unless you have their trajectory and acceleration up until the ED was cut off - barring that they have used compressed air or whatnot to adjust their trajectory after the ED was cut off (as I believe was done once or twice in the books/show by some belters). Yet, still, they are discoverable because of heat production and energy production from the fusion reactor.

    Stealth tech then, minimises radar signature and contains heat from infrared sensors, and I assume the stealth tech also limits the usability of ladar? Leaving basically optical telescopes to pick them out, assuming they are running only on passive sensors.

    So:
    3) We are missing travel times not based on constant acceleration and deceleration. I'm sure I could find a way to figure it out, but why not have it as a table? And do you have a short hand?
    4) It is unclear to me whether it is
    only the ED (and active sensors) that prevents stealth, or if an active fusion generator also would prevent stealth - provided the ship has stealth tech.


    I'm pretty sure I had a third and fourth thing to cover to, but this is probably more than sufficient for now.



    *I'm thinking size category could matter, but the sidebar on page 115 seems to indicate different drives exist; so here the second variable could be old, civilian, high-end, military, and experimental versions of the ED, that can affect the TWR.
    "The heart of the gambler's fallacy is a misconception of the fairness of the laws of chance. The gambler feels that the fairness of the coin entitles him to expect that any deviation in one direction will soon be cancelled by a corresponding deviation in the other. Even the fairest of coins, however, given the limitations of its memory and moral sense, cannot be as fair as the gambler expects it to be. This fallacy is not unique to gamblers. ... This expectation can be justified only by the belief that a random process is self-correcting. Idioms such as "errors cancel each other out" reflect the image of an active self-correcting process. Some familiar processes in nature obey such laws: a deviation from a stable equilibrium produces a force that restores the equilibrium. The laws of chance, in contrast, do not work that way: deviations are not cancelled as sampling proceeds, they are merely diluted." Kahneman and Tversky (1971)

  • #2
    I would personally be inclined to use fuel as a plot device. I don't want to run a game of Expanse RPG: The Excel Spreadsheet.

    Regarding travel times, I will probably use the tables as a baseline starting point. Again, I don't want to have to use a spreadsheet and higher math to compute exact travel times. That doesn't sound like fun to me.
    ALL HAIL THE SPAM-O-MATIC!

    Comment


    • #3
      That's a fair and legitimate position to take, and I'd not want to try and change your mind.

      Yet, this isn't about excel spreadsheets or somesuch nonsense. That's just unimaginative for a system like this, trying to do what it is trying to do. And as you say, it doesn't necessarily sound like fun. Yet, jumping to an extreme conclusion to reject an idea and some questions isn't very constructive, as a response. If I may say so.

      How would you then use fuel as a plot device?

      And with "starting point", what do you mean? How would you adjust travel time?

      Those are starting points at least.

      ---
      I'm considering using size or hull as an indicator to add hours, or days, to travel times - at least as a starting point. Perhaps as a multiplier, or just roll and add result as hours (or days). Base size, could for the fun of it be the Frigate size, and then adjust up for heavier ships, and down for lighter ships. Perhaps also add in a quality for EDs, that can affect travel time (dividing or subtracting). These are not excel things, more than the weapon table is - or the existing travel time tables.

      Personally, I'm considering hand-waving fuel.

      --


      I recall now the third thing I was thinking of: upkeep and maintenance, and life-style. How does, or would you rule that, having (owning or leasing) a ship affects lifestyle? The potential cost of upkeep or maintenance?

      Again, sure plot device, but that's a cop-out. Given a scenario, where this (or any of the above) is used as a plot device, and/or central to the progression of the narrative, would it work in that scenario, for that story, with those players?

      Mechanically, as well as narratively.
      "The heart of the gambler's fallacy is a misconception of the fairness of the laws of chance. The gambler feels that the fairness of the coin entitles him to expect that any deviation in one direction will soon be cancelled by a corresponding deviation in the other. Even the fairest of coins, however, given the limitations of its memory and moral sense, cannot be as fair as the gambler expects it to be. This fallacy is not unique to gamblers. ... This expectation can be justified only by the belief that a random process is self-correcting. Idioms such as "errors cancel each other out" reflect the image of an active self-correcting process. Some familiar processes in nature obey such laws: a deviation from a stable equilibrium produces a force that restores the equilibrium. The laws of chance, in contrast, do not work that way: deviations are not cancelled as sampling proceeds, they are merely diluted." Kahneman and Tversky (1971)

      Comment


      • #4
        For 1) the rule book is basically wrong . It assumes reaction mass is essentially infinite, which is contradicted by both the canon saying reaction mass is limited and by the time the characters in the book take to go to various places in the solar system

        its not so much a matter of the mass of your ship but what % of your ship is devoted to reaction mass

        i think this is what you calling ďfuelĒ but itís not what powers the fusion reactor itís what you shoot out your engines to move you

        if you donít want to spreadsheet it then just assign each ship a multiple of travel time in the outer system. Most ships would be x10 the time given by the table but ship perks could decrease it (at the cost of cargo capacity )

        with regards to sensors and stealth tech, the way it seems to work in the book is

        a ship running cold (ED turned off, fusion reactor powered down ) is generally hard to detect via passive sensors but no harder then any other ship with active sensors. a ship with stealth coating still canít use the ED but is much harder to pick up on active sensors due to light and radar absorbing material

        Comment


        • #5
          That multiplier idea is what I was considering, thank you for providing more content and context for how to go forward with that!

          It seems, currently, that no cargo "unit" is defined, and until we get the deck plans, we don't know all that much about space aboard these ships as it concerns cargo.

          So, some multiplier based on hull size could be a way to go, if I understand you correctly? And then some new flaws and qualities that can modify this - based on hull size and cargo aspects (once we know more or by making some assumptions).
          "The heart of the gambler's fallacy is a misconception of the fairness of the laws of chance. The gambler feels that the fairness of the coin entitles him to expect that any deviation in one direction will soon be cancelled by a corresponding deviation in the other. Even the fairest of coins, however, given the limitations of its memory and moral sense, cannot be as fair as the gambler expects it to be. This fallacy is not unique to gamblers. ... This expectation can be justified only by the belief that a random process is self-correcting. Idioms such as "errors cancel each other out" reflect the image of an active self-correcting process. Some familiar processes in nature obey such laws: a deviation from a stable equilibrium produces a force that restores the equilibrium. The laws of chance, in contrast, do not work that way: deviations are not cancelled as sampling proceeds, they are merely diluted." Kahneman and Tversky (1971)

          Comment

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