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Deep_Impact
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Re: Space Combat?

Tue 18 Jun 2019, 19:14

What ever. :) Regarding to the latest newsletter:
and a big part of that chapter is focused on something every self-respecting sci-fi RPG needs – spaceships. The rulebook will include comprehensive rules for starships, how to modify and upgrade them – and how to fight fast and brutal battles with them.
:)
 
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aramis
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Re: Space Combat?

Tue 18 Jun 2019, 22:28


No, there's plenty worth fighting for... and most of it is commodities carried aboard. And those vary. 

Fuel is one such. ²H and ·³H, as well as ³He, have extensive promise as fusion fuels... and need cryogenic storage, which, while ³He is not uncommon, and ²H is common enough... but keeping them usefully condensed requires either cryogenics or, in the case of Hydrogen, a 4.5 to 9x mass penalty in oxidization. (The safest/easiest way to transport hydrogen, especially deuterium, is oxidized into water... because then it doesn't escape confinement by quantum tunneling.)

Food is another. For all the colonies, probably half or more are likely to be resource extraction colonies. Net exports raw materials, imports food and entertainment.Local sources (Hydroponics and domes) provide stable staples... but the harder to grow long-investment crops (especially tree-fruits) will be trade goods.

Medicines will be another. Cheaper to manufacture in bulk in scale-efficient factories... and more accurate/consistent in concentration, too. The basic staples (anti-inflammatories, analgesics, steroids, other bioregulatories) will be always be valuable. Not flashy, but always saleable. Even when stolen.

Even more important is corporate secrets... to the right buyer, retirement time!

A shipowner does everything he must to keep his ship going, because by the time they get it, it's usually become a pathological obsession. And then, there's that bit about "Space is Hell"... which they flatly deny until the day it maims or kills them.
Okay, we’re probably going to have to agree to disagree. To me that reads more about reasons for space piracy and not space combat.

I don’t think space pirates makes any sense in the setting, the economics and consequences alone would make it prohibitive in the setting. If you really want to go pirate hunting play Coriolis, the game setting was pretty much designed to support that kind of adventure. In Alien, you’re not going to duke it out with an adversary for some bananas and bandages.

Obviously in the end it’s your game. Personally I would be disappointed and think the design team clueless if they included dogfighting spaceships and space pirates in the rules. I really don’t see Alien as the setting for those kinds of adventures.

In Alien, a ship is very expensive to say the least, it’s unlikely that many are in private hands outside of the corporations. Unlike the age of sail(wind was free and wood accessible), fuel and maintenance are also expensive. You could easily spend more in fuel and repairing any damage than you would make selling any cargo won, it just doesn’t make sense on a balance sheet.

That gets us to consequences. Alien is a setting with FTL communications and powerful corporations that tolerate very little, shall we say entrepreneurial spirit. I would assume that extensive capabilities for sensor forensics exist. I can’t imagine pirates would have very long to operate before attracting attention from the authorities.

Unlike WY or the marines, pirates aren’t going to be able to re-arm expended missiles without comprehensive logistical support. Even if your ships has missiles(most probably don’t) it’s not the kind of thing you can buy without licenses and probably filing paperwork about where the missiles you already had we’re used.

Piracy in Alien takes place in boardrooms with lawyers and contracts. A commercial freighter crew is never going to repel boarders, there’s a good chance they won’t have any guns anyway. That’s part of what makes the setting so scary, it’s all mundane and workaday. You’re just hustling for a percentage until you wake up in a total nightmare.

Someone else’s cargo is only worth the effort when it’s of interest to bio-weapons division, and even then the last thing you’d want to do is start shooting.
Piracy means the theft of goods from a vessel underway, by threat of force. It usually requires there be a credible threat. MUTHUR deciding the threat is credible and shutting down can turn it into a boarding action. But, undoubtedly, SOMEONE will override a MUTHUR shutdown.

We also know that USCM vessels are armed, from the tech manual. (Connestoga Class, including the USS Sulaco, mount particle beams, a laser turret, multiple railguns.) The screen used model clearly shows the two railgun turrets ( https://avp.fandom.com/wiki/USS_Sulaco? ... _Burns.JPG )

Also, ANY space drive that isn't based upon pure plotnium (or the established on film to exist gravitics) is, itself, a reasonably good weapon. Ion thrusters, even, can produce secondary radiation on a hit.  

Whether or not it should be in the corebook, space combat is canonical to the setting. The realities of it, as mentioned in the Aliens Colonial Marine Tech Manual are that it's entirely computerized once engagement happens. The plan is worked out, turned over to MUTHUR, and executed automatically, possibly with crew repairs in between passes.

Not having read Coriolis, I don't know if that's suitable for substitution; if it is, hopefully, the ship stats will be compatible.
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AlexanderMars
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Re: Space Combat?

Thu 20 Jun 2019, 15:49

Piracy means the theft of goods from a vessel underway, by threat of force. It usually requires there be a credible threat. MUTHUR deciding the threat is credible and shutting down can turn it into a boarding action. But, undoubtedly, SOMEONE will override a MUTHUR shutdown.

We also know that USCM vessels are armed, from the tech manual. (Connestoga Class, including the USS Sulaco, mount particle beams, a laser turret, multiple railguns.) The screen used model clearly shows the two railgun turrets ( https://avp.fandom.com/wiki/USS_Sulaco? ... _Burns.JPG )

Also, ANY space drive that isn't based upon pure plotnium (or the established on film to exist gravitics) is, itself, a reasonably good weapon. Ion thrusters, even, can produce secondary radiation on a hit.  

Whether or not it should be in the corebook, space combat is canonical to the setting. The realities of it, as mentioned in the Aliens Colonial Marine Tech Manual are that it's entirely computerized once engagement happens. The plan is worked out, turned over to MUTHUR, and executed automatically, possibly with crew repairs in between passes.

Not having read Coriolis, I don't know if that's suitable for substitution; if it is, hopefully, the ship stats will be compatible.
BIG SIGH

I am not and have not argued that there should be no space combat. What I am advocating for is that space combat should be really REALLY REALLY brutal. Almost everyone dies, the ship needs to go into “dry dock” and let’s hope we have enough life support to limp back to civilisation because our ship looks like Swiss cheese.

The Expanse is probably the closest I can think of thematically, to how I hope the space combat rules in Alien feel. Fast, gritty, brutal and deadly in the extreme... you know, kinda like the Alien the game is named after.

Alien is not Star Wars, it’s not cool kids flying cool ships. It’s crappy people going about their crappy jobs on crappy ships suddenly being used as reproductive host/food by some hostile life form. PCs in Alien are not epic heroes, at best they’re just survivors with lots of trauma and nightmares.

Yes we can all see that there are rail guns on the Sulaco, but the Sulaco is not the Millennium Falcon. If the game mechanics for space combat are at all true to the spirit of the setting, then the first thing you’re going to want to do when someone starts shooting at you in space is run. Space combat is not high fives and fist bumps, it’s sobering cold sweats and dirty underwear.

I simply do not care how you define piracy, semantic arguments make absolutely no difference to the fact that “space piracy” is wholly illogical. If you’re paying for fuel, ammo and repairs you’re not going to board a ship to steal medical supplies and food. Firing one missile would wipe out all of your profits, and probably risk complete destruction of the target ship. Define piracy however you want, the economics would put would be pirates out of business before they even got started.

Space is also so HUGE that wasting fuel chasing someone down for their cargo is impractical. Seriously, stealing cargo from a ship in transit would be an act of blatant stupidity, because they’re easier ways to do it, that would cost WAY less to pull off. You could hack a database, forge some documents and reroute a cargo container. Easier and cheaper, you don’t need an expensive space ship just some computer skills and few greased palms and you’re half way to the bank. For a company like WY, losing few shipping containers is a rounding error they’ll write off at the end of the fiscal year.

Again defining piracy isn’t relevant, it’s not a remotely realistic excuse to start shooting in space. There are many good reasons to get into a space battle, a cargo hold full of rations or medicine isn’t one. People trying to be space pirates would maybe get to take one ship before the marines showed up and made an example of them.

If you really want the Space Pirate trope in your Alien game, then go for it, but don’t delude yourself about it making any sense. I suggest if you want to play Space Pirates then take a look at Coriolis, it’s a great game and the setting was designed for swashbuckling among the stars.

When I think of Alien, the tag line “In space... no one can hear you scream” pretty much sums up the experience I want to have as a player and a GM. Alien is brutal, terrifying and deadly. All of that is couched in layers of mundane hubris that belies the sheer existential dread that’s breathing wetly on your neck.
 
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aramis
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Re: Space Combat?

Fri 21 Jun 2019, 02:30

AlexandreMars - the only illogic here is yours. Ignoring human nature.

Piracy (mostly low-piracy, aka taking goods) still happens today, and routinely so. Sufficiently so that military forces have to be diverted to prevent hostage taking by desperate idiots sailing from Ethiopia and Eritrea.  Despite satellite assets. Despite warship patrols. Most would-be pirates die at sea... and yet, the desperate still do it.

All it takes is the ability to threaten the target ship credibly, and people aboard willing to sacrifice cargo for their own lives, and on the other side, people who have either bypassed or reeducated their ship's AI to enable such risky behavior. 

Piracy isn't economically rational. Never has been. Never stopped it yet.
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