Sunday, March 23, 2014

Building Starships For GURPS Third Edition Revised, Part Two

So, back in our previous article, we started to talk about the Concordiat Navy at the TL 10 era.  One of the biggest factors of change was the existence of the two steps of reactionless thrusters, both of them powerful enough to change the nature of the game for starship combat.

And, a few more notes to round out the last points to be made about what happened during the TL 10 and Fourth Frontier War era.
  • The Concordiat Army moves on it's own transports, which are HUGE, lightly armored and armed, and require a lot of landings to land their heavy armor and AFVs.  The Army is mostly a garrison force during the TL 10 era.
  • Shuttles for the various ships have two engines.  The first is a fusion ram-rocket with enough fuel space to make a powered orbit around Earth.  It also mounts (relatively) low-powered reactionless thrusters for orbital changes.
  • Government in a nutshell-the Concordiat is a constitutional republic, with a LOT of authority being given to sector governors and such.  The Kaa Imperium is a hideously egalitarian feudal monarchy.  Since the only way to communicate is by a ship in FTL (FTL communications-on an interstellar level-don't show up until TL 12), the captains of starships have to be able to make critical decisions right there and then.

So, we deal with the Fourth Frontier War, where the Kaa get trounced (again) after the Concordiat gets suprised, there's only one set-piece battle in the form of the Battle of Agrippa (dreadnoughts on both sides), and the Concordiat gets some more worlds as buffer territory against the Kaa Imperium.  TL 11 rolls around, and the Concordiat has some issues.  Namely-victory disease.  They just kept winning against the Kaa in so many battles that they thought it was always going to be this way.  That, and the Liberal Democratic Party in the Concordiat Senate was of the opinion that "war never solves anything" (how much of this was "paid opinions" a'la the Soviet Union-sponsored anti-nuclear movement by the Kaa is open to debate).  Force field technology came into existence at this time, and the Concordiat Navy mounted forcefields on their ships at the same rate as armor.

This lead to the pre-First Interstellar War Concordiat Navy.  Some of the details of the design choices here-
  • The "Patrol/Battle" fleet dichotomy was eliminated.  More powerful thrusters meant that most ships could land on a planet if they were streamlined, and the Concordiat Navy had to fight for every credit in building starship hulls.
  • For the most part, the ships built were "revised" versions of the TL 10 fleet, with some of the quirkier hulls gone.  One big change was that the required minimum for Navy ships was "2/2"-minimum 2Gs acceleration and 2 light years a day in hyperspace.
  • Missiles carried nuclear weapons, as no practical chemical warhead could be mounted to punch through force fields and armor.  Once again, GVB seems to choke on building bomb-pumped x-ray lasers and figuring out how to fire "missiles" built in GVB as vehicles out of massdrivers.  But, that's the core concept.
  • More point-defense, especially for larger capital ships.
  • Pretty much everything but the heaviest of shuttles were pure reactoinless thruster-based.
Unfortunatly, the Kaa Imperium had something going for it-an Emperor that was very much like Justintin of the Byzantine Empire-ruthless, powerful, capable, and not quite sane on a few things.  One of those things was the Concordiat.  He was going to be the Emperor that conqured the whole Concordiat and he had a plan.  And, a great espionage service.  Namely, in the Engali Moot-where he managed to get the information and tooling needed to build TL 12 force fields, power cells, and hypersinks (for the ship's stealth systems).

When boiled down, the Kaa Emperor's plan was simple-
  • Foment revolt and piracy all along the frontier. This included dropping Vern queens onto a number of worlds to keep the locals busy.
  • Lower the Concordiat's will to fight, politically and socially.  Find potential Quislings wherever you could.
  • Build a huge fleet.
  • Attack.  The attack was in three "talons", and they were all aimed to hit Earth.  Planets in the way of the talons would have all their orbital assets destroyed (except for fueling stations for the fleets) and orbital bombardment of anything on the planets that could be used as a military asset.  They could all be formally "conquered" when the Kaa Imperium won the war.

    Raiding fleets would be dispatched as well, attacking merchant ships and engaging in other attacks in the meantime, to keep the Concordiat Navy busy.

    Once you've hit Earth, it's all over (as the Emperor saw it).
  • Bask in the victory over the most hated of foes, enjoy your new slaves, and make sure that any threats to your power base are eliminated as soon as possible when the war is over.
Unfortunatly, the Concordiat Navy got some warning that something was about to happen.  They thought it was going to be another border war.  Not the start of what would later be called the First Interstellar War.

Several things went the way of the Concordiat during the early phases of the war-despite the losses and the casulties and that the "northern" talon got within three weeks travel of Earth before it was defeated.
  • Concordiat battlecruisers showed their mettle-the Kaa had their logistics transports in convoys at the start.  But, the guard ships were light cruisers (most Kaa warships of destroyer size and smaller were battleriders).  The Concordiat's Marathon-class battlecruiser had the acceleration profile of a standard light cruiser (about 5-6Gs, if I recall), a long-ranged and fast-firing particle beam cannon on the spinal mount, and while it only used 350mm missiles, it had a lot of them to fire.

    Within the first few weeks of the war, the Kaa had to detach battleships to guard their convoys, which took them out of the war as effectively as if they had blown them all up.  This weakened the Kaa's raiding strategy, which was dependent upon the battleships.
  • Capturing two of the Kaa's forward repair ships and bringing their data cores back to the Concordiat Core Worlds.  This gave the Concordiat an idea of the new technologies the Kaa were using.
  • The political and military leaders never lost their nerve.  What was supposed to be a hard sweep through the Concordiat got bogged down in a number of locations.
As the Kaa fleets were fought, Concordiat shipyards began to incorporate into current hulls the new technologies.  And, the first products of these new ships will be talked about in the next section.

No comments: