Episode 341 space ships

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zircher
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Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Tue Aug 30, 2016 3:44 am

Good stuff, one of my favorite topics in sci-fi is starships. There are so few RPGs that let you play a 'proper' bridge crew. Just curious, I wonder if part 2 has been recorded or not. I'd like to know what ship construction in FTL 2448 is like.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:19 pm

I found this nifty article https://solorpgvoyages.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/replicating-no-mans-sky-through-engines-systems-and-drivers/ and it got me wondering as to which rules the crew likes for the space exploration RPGs. How well does FTL 2448 handle that? A lot of games focus on civilized space with a light dusting of frontier worlds.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby kedamono » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:35 pm

zircher wrote:Good stuff, one of my favorite topics in sci-fi is starships. There are so few RPGs that let you play a 'proper' bridge crew. Just curious, I wonder if part 2 has been recorded or not. I'd like to know what ship construction in FTL 2448 is like.


Part two is in the queue and ready to go. What we usually do, we being Bruce, is break our 2.5 hour recording session into one to three parts. This one it seems was broken into to 2.

Of course my reply to the statement "Bridge crew" is: Bridge Crew? So you're on a boat in the ocean? :D

In my opinion ships in space really don't need a "bridge" they just need a place the captain can sit down and tell the ship what to do.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby kedamono » Tue Aug 30, 2016 11:47 pm

zircher wrote:I found this nifty article https://solorpgvoyages.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/replicating-no-mans-sky-through-engines-systems-and-drivers/ and it got me wondering as to which rules the crew likes for the space exploration RPGs. How well does FTL 2448 handle that? A lot of games focus on civilized space with a light dusting of frontier worlds.


We'll probably cover this in future episodes, but FTL: 2448 is a bit between fully settled and just setting out. There are the core worlds in ISCO space that see a lot of trade passing through. But there are also the Frontier worlds that are weeks to months away from Earth that have just starting colonies. There is in fact a section in FTL's rules that covers colonies, from just starting out to older colonies. I've been running a little play through in the FTL:2448 threads about the Frenner 2 colony that uses these rules.

http://tritacgames.com/TTG/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1507

Like Firefly, you can hang out at the rim or work the core worlds. Just be careful, there are nasties out there that might take an interest in you.

As for engines and stuff, I'll recommend Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets site and his 3D Star Maps for near space settings.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Wed Aug 31, 2016 12:36 am

Neat thread about Frenner II, I took the plunge and picked up the FTL 2448 Complete PDF. [Gah! 466 pages, this will take a while to digest.]
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:41 pm

Enjoying part two of the episode.

Are the any plans to revamp the FTL 2448 ship construction system? Or, is there a homebrew system out there that someone has developed?

Woo Hoo! for 'unreasonable amounts of power". :DD

Any plans to 'unbreak' the trade system for FTL?

Having been in the military, a career is a job and not that glamorous. Unless you're playing Honor Harrington, any realistic approach would be soul crushingly boring.
--

Good stuff, one and all. Small feed back thing, need more Pixie, what topics interest her or what can you all call on her for being a subject matter expert on? It's safe to say that this was the John is a sci-fi/space geek and proud of it episode. :D
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby kedamono » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:03 pm

So far, no one has come up with a home-brewed system. I did bit of work on an update to 2448 with another person and when we tackled spaceship construction we soon got into the weeds. I'd adapt the system used in Diaspora to "build" ships. Of course, most folks don't know what goes into building a spaceship, let alone a starship. So I'd go as generic a possible, so not to get into the weeds. (And I'd do away with grav plates or gravity generation. If free fall is good enough for the Expanse, then it's good enough for FTL:2448.)

As for ship travel, my druthers is to drop the slot mechanic and go straight to AUs. Then it becomes easier to figure out how far away something is. Just remember 1G acceleration for Human ships. Borcha ships hit 2.63G, which is "one Gee" for them. :D

I'd again go to Diaspora and do away with discrete money altogether. I'd go to either having a wealth skill or just use Resources in Fate Core to indicate how wealthy a PC is. Basically, do you make your nut to keep your ship operating? If you haul cargo instead of speculating, you get a set bonus on your port roll to pay the bills and refuel your ship. If you're speculating, you get a chance to sell the cargo first and hopefully get a bonus on your upkeep roll. And you only need to apply just enough of that bonus to make the roll. If there is any left over, you can save that as a future bonus or to buy better cargo for your next trip.

As another former veteran, peacetime natch, boring would be an upgrade. For the most part is lots of BS and painting rocks on side one day, turn them over and paint them again another day. If you read my little story, Space Combat, Redux, for every hour it's exciting, you have to spend months of doing scut work and cleaning bulkheads. (And the head.)

Of course, being a game, we can cover the months of doing nothing in a single paragraph, and then jump directly into the action!
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:46 pm

I hear ya on weed eating. :-)

In the space craft design system that I created for Tactical Command, I deliberately left out some bits of data to prevent reverse engineering. I wanted players and designers to speak in game terms and units and not get sucked into the tall grass (there be lions and tigers there.)

If the mood strikes you to address the system again, I'd love to take a crack at a spread sheet or javascript based web toy to smooth any the number crunching.

As I understand the slot thing, that's more for setting up habitable zones, yes? Doesn't that widely vary from star to star? It makes sense for system building but sounds loose for hard-science travel purposes.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby kedamono » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:29 am

OK, my biggest complaint about ship design in SFRPGs is that they all act as though automation doesn't exist. The space shuttle could land itself on autopilot. It did it's own reentry, as the speeds it was operating at were far too fast for a human to compensate for. The fact that it had a human at the wheel was more because the head of NASA at the time was an ex-pilot than for any other reason. :D

"But you need a bridge! Boats have bridges!" some my declare.

Ah, but boats are on water, not in space. And at least three shipbuilders are working on Autonomous Cargo ships. The reason ships have a bridge is because they have crew. In fact many ships operate in autopilot mode on the sea. Only when things get hairy do they go on Manual. And that's only because policy states that a human must be in control during bad weather. This is imposed by the insurance companies and upper management at all shipping lines. In reality, if the autopilot was properly configured, it would do just as well as the humans would. But the humans don't trust it.

But once the first couple of Autoships make passage through storm and not sink or run aground, shipping companies will start cutting one of their biggest costs, crew, and go for autoships.

Let's be honest, the cycler that goes from Earth to Mars is entirely robotic. The only time there's crew on board, is when it carries passenger modules. A couple of those modules will be for stewards to serve the passengers. No other crew. It goes from civilized port to civilized port, and if there's any problems, they are taken care of at one of those ports. If ship loses its drive, I'd rather it be a robot, than a ship with a crew. It's going on a trip. No one carries a spare drive on their ship.

If it's a roboship with passengers, that's when the ship with a crew is dispatched. It's going to match orbits, move the modules over and then head to the nearest station. This would be fraught enough that you need people on board to make life and death decisions... But it still would be flown by a computer. The computer would be far more accurate in matching orbits than any human pilot.

So you can gather that I treat spaceships completely different from other folks. FTL has Strong AI, AI that likes humans, so they are the pilot for every ship in space. There's no bridge, even for combat spacecraft. There's a CnC where the tactical situation is handled by both the humans and AI, more like CnC on an Aircraft Carrier.

Anyway, no gravity plates or generators, you makes ships like skyscrapers. Well, or like big dinner plates? Or a pyramid... but not like sea going vessel.

I'd keep simple, much like it is in Diaspora or UW. Diaspora uses less is more because it tries to be hard SF. The average person doesn't know how to build a spaceship, so we abstract the system to pretty much high level designs. Which means I don't do deck plans. Don't need them. Just need to know what deck crew quarters are, where the common area is, and other miscellaneous crew spaces and call it good.

Boarding Actions you say? You know how hard it is to board a ship that doesn't want you to board. All it has to do is to rotate the ship on at least two axis and you ain't docking. And every so often, their drive is pointing at you...

Thanks for the idea of a spreadsheet, but if I get the bug up my hiney, I'll go with something more high level.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:58 am

Following what was said about modular designs, a drag and drop user interface might not be a bad idea. Select a frame, add components, fuel, and an engine and have the program spit out the numbers for ya. That's a little more complicated than a javascript form, but not that hard if you have a solid design ruleset behind it. Bonus points if you can select the race that builds it.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby kedamono » Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:09 am

Sounds like an idea. I could go with the old "Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Gigantic, That's No Moon" scale for the frame and drive packages. And remember, you measure fuel by the tens of kilograms, reaction mass by the tonne. Borcha drives start at Large and go up from there. They tool around in small ships with Large drives at 2.63G. Or, as they would put it, "9.8 m/s2? Why would I want to do one third Gee?"
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Tue Sep 13, 2016 12:54 am

Well, I finally got to the starship construction section and... wow. I guess you would call that a cinematic construction system. :-)

I actually mean that in a good way, IF you wanted to role play the actual building of a starship panel by panel. Not so much from a template/stat generation perspective. In some ways it reminds of the build-a-dungeon games like Dungeon Keeper. It would make for a heck of a building game ala StarMade/Empyrion/Space Engineers (Minecraft in space) where you actually have to install panels, decks, run wiring, etc. If blocks are not your thing, Starship Corporation uses a deck plan based construction system.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby kedamono » Tue Sep 13, 2016 4:22 am

Yeah, there wasn't a shipbuilding system in the first two versions of the game. No prices on how much a ship costs. And the numbers assigned to ships is pretty much arbitrary. A picture was drawn and numbers assigned. So, in keeping with the game, any system to build ships need stop generate the following stats:

Length, Type of propellant unit, tankage, engine, Phase Drive types, Ship specials, crew required, Passengers cabins/cryosleep, and Cargo capacity (10'x10'x10' containers).

So for each of those stats, I'm not going to use a number, instead, a descriptor. And we need another couple stats: Width, Acceleration, Power.

Length: Short, Medium, Long, Very Long, Kilometers Long

Width: Thin, Medium, Wide, Huge, Giant

Tankage: Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Massive. The relationship is that Medium is the same as 8 Small, a Large is 8 Medium or 64 Small, and so on. Engine size is tied to tankage size.

Type of Propellant Unit: Small, Medium, Large, Gigantic (These correspond to tankage 1 for 1, except for Massive tankage. There it takes 8 gigantic units to fill it.)

Phase Drive: Standard numbers, though, for anything current, the following drives: i, v, yb, & yc. The yc ICL K Drive is a restricted for military use only. The Standard d drive is the cheaper of the three commercial drives, with only a minor untuning problem. Travel times are 2 days, 1 day, 2/3 days per light year. Each increase probably doubles the cost of the drive.

Engine: Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Massive

Crew: With automation, most ships can get by with only 6 crew. Where the extra crew comes in is with passengers. One Chief Steward and two Head Stewards. Then it's 1 steward for every 10 regular passengers, and 1 medic for every 20 passengers, regular and cryosleep. As for crew, you'd have the Captain, Chief Mate, Second Mate, Third Mate, Cargo Master, and Phase Navigator.

Passengers/Cryosleep: I'm not a believer in wasting space on cabins. Every gram counts. So I'm all about the modular cabins that you can stack onto the cargo stack. Standard passenger module has 100 square feet of acceleration space, basically 1000' cubic feet in microgravity. (10'x10'x10') They snap together like LEGOs and are as hard as LEGOs to take apart due to accidents. There are also common area cabins that the ship rents, they come in 20', 40', and 80' sizes and can accommodate multiple cabins. Those correspond to the Thin, Medium, and Wide Widths for ship's spines. Cryocans come in the same size ranges and can hold 3 passengers per 10'. You also need 1 storm shelter can for every 10 passengers/stewards. Stewards will have there own cabin on each layer of the stack. All cabins require power. More on that later. How many passengers can you carry? That depends on cargo capacity, but more on that later.

Cargo Capacity: Totally depends on Length, Width, Tankage, Phase Drive, and Engine chosen. A short, thin, small tankage, Standard d, and small engine, will have more room than a short, thin, large tankage, Standard f, and large drive. For example straight from the game: The Akron'Che is a small ship, but it has Medium sized tankage and Medium sized Engine. It has a cargo capacity of 96, which works out to 12 layers of 8 each, making the cargo section 80' long. If it had a Small tankage and drive, they would take up 1/8th the space. The Medium size tankage is 160' long, after making up numbers for crew and engines. I'm going to make the tankage square because I don't want to do the math, it would 160' x 40' x 40' for a total of 256,000 cubic feet for propellant and fuel. (Fuel you measure in kilograms, propellant in tonnes.) That's about 7,249 cubic meters of liquid hydrogen. (Traveller natch) Divide that by 8, and you get 906 cubic meters. Back to cubic feet, and it's 32,000 cubic feet. Since we know 2 of the sides are 40', we can easily get the length: 20 feet. So now there's 140 feet worth of space, or 14 more layers. But, with that small engine, can it push a fully loaded ship?

Power: Depends on what you selected for Phase Drive, Engine, and Cargo/Passengers. Each requires a certain amount of power to operate. We could make it simple and go with per 10 passengers for each unit. This would be a power generation system separate from the drives. Not sure what to do for this.

Acceleration: The big one. Ideally, you want to hit 1G/9.8m/s2. Whether or not you do depends on all the numbers above. The small version of the Akron'Che probably wouldn't hit more than 1/8g or less. Not sure how to address this one. Ideas?
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby zircher » Tue Sep 13, 2016 5:21 am

Trying to think about how to simplify it. What about converting everything to cubes (anything less than one cube being negligible) and then rate engines by cubes (a generic measure of mass and volume) per G or fractions there of. So, if you had a 200 cube ship with a 100/G small engine. It could maintain an average thrust of .5 G. Is that doable, sounds like you're halfway there already. Cubes also makes it easy to convert to plates and beams if you need to customize or repair part of a ship.
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Re: Episode 341 space ships

Postby kedamono » Tue Sep 13, 2016 6:09 am

I like the idea, but I want a tad more realism and reason for a worksheet/web widget. Cubes and Mass. A passenger/crew cube masses a lot less than a drive cube. But, we need a baseline for the lightest cube the ship would carry. And the lightest would be the passenger cube. Let's say it masses one metric tonne. It's not made of paper mache or cardboard, it has structural members, connectors both physical, electrical, data. It has it's own life-support system, and of course, accommodations for the passenger. One metric tonne sounds about right. The economy 6 person crew module, which includes everything: control center, cabins, common area, life-support, food storage, workstations, airlocks, docking ports, etc., is 2 cubes tall, 4 cubes wide and 4 cubes deep. That's a 20' by 40' by 40' space. The captain and first mate get double size cabins as per their rank. It's 32 cubes, and masses 50 tonnes. A standard 6 crew module has doublewides for all the crew which are 10' x 15' x 15', or 1.5 cubes wide and deep. Bigger common area, but with the larger size comes a larger life-support system, so this module is 20' x 50' x 50', or 50 cubes. Masses at 80 tonnes.

And we want tonnes, because that's what matters. You're not moving length, you're moving mass.

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