Starport defences

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
Sigtrygg
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Re: Starport defences

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:22 pm

Condottiere wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:38 am
They would make meson screens a necessity for most large combatants.
Striker mentions that cities have meson screens and nuclear dampers.
Condottiere
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Re: Starport defences

Postby Condottiere » Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:35 am

You want that transport infrastructure in place and protect it.

You can assume that some, or a lot, of starports are in surplus, and the Imperium can shift these extra funds to starports servicing important systems that aren't.
phavoc
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Re: Starport defences

Postby phavoc » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:17 pm

AnotherDilbert wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:08 pm
Reynard wrote: Economic reality sucks.
Certainly, but there is quite a lot of people and hence economy to base your fleet on.

The Imperial Spinward Marches has a GDP of roughly Cr 2 000 000 000 000 000 = TCr 2 000. If we assume 1% defence spending, half of which goes to naval purposes, we have a budget of TCr 10 per year or perhaps a standing fleet of TCr 100. That would buy us something like 1000 capital ships and a few thousand escorts.

So, even without heavy naval spending nor any help from the rest of the Imperium we should have the ships to patrol all inhabited systems, and a few squadrons of capital ships in every significant (stellar tech, 1B pop?) system.

By canon we have a numbered fleet and a colonial fleet per subsector or, again, a few thousand warships per sector. Given the history of war with Zho and raiding by the Vargr I would expect the Spinward Marches Fleet to be stronger than average.
If we used the US defense budget as an example the numbers come out much different. I got this from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_ ... ted_States) and it's for 2013, but it's a reasonable place to start.

The overall US defense budget was $610 billion dollars. Of that, (rounding here) $260billion was for operations and maintenance, $155 billion went to pay, $100 billion went to buying stuff, and $63 billion went to R&D and testing. For that same time period the Navy received 43% of the budget, the Army 32%, the Air Force 22% and the Marines 4%. The rest went to DIA and other joint military activities.

The Imperial Navy has a very large area of space to cover. It simply does not have enough hulls to put dreadnoughts in every system. Plus ships are going to be deployed at times, they are going to be in drydock at times, they are going to be on training missions, etc. A fleet of 1,000 capital warships might seem like a lot, but it's not. For example some ships are going to be tied up in places like Jewell permanently, else moving them makes it tempting for the Zho to make a quick strike to take it out. LIkewise your other important nodal areas have to remain covered. Major fleet naval bases, like for the Marches is located 24 parsecs to the rear of Regina. You are going to need to also take into account transit times for your fleets - which means you require even more hulls.

Even the Imperium cannot have naval units everywhere all the time.
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Re: Starport defences

Postby phavoc » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:19 pm

baithammer wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2017 7:03 pm
Meson weapons really need to be kept at the scale of spinals as it breaks a lot of mechanics.
Meson weapons have been around for quite some time. They don't break any mechanics, however if you don't have meson screens you are screwed. But that's the nature of weaponry.
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Re: Starport defences

Postby phavoc » Sun Oct 15, 2017 7:36 pm

Epicenter wrote:
Sat Oct 14, 2017 2:15 am


Defenses are created to counter a threat (what you're afraid of) but are constrained by economics (what you can pay). The starport would have defenses according to that. When I use the word "starport" I am talking about a commercial starport - one that is intended to turn a profit off of fees and services provided to passing starships, the majority of which would be civilian merchant traffic. This means the defense budget has to come out of the facility's operating profits. I'm going to flog this profit idea like a dead horse because it's critical to this discussion and many Traveller players have this gleeful militaristic side where they imagine war-girded rings of steel and forget about this idea of budgets. <snip>
Excellent response Epicenter. Many descriptions of the Dragon SDB have it doubling as a patrol craft, customs, etc. In a way it would be like modern Coast Guard cutters (the current Legend class CG cutters would be the closest in concept, however they are armed and armored nowhere near as much as a Dragon. So I'd say there would be two schools of thought on this - Dragon-class SDB's for the 'teeth', but then things like 50ton cutter for nominal customs and anti-piracy enforcement. I don't recall in what book that talks about the deployment of SDB's and their role in system defense, but it talks about them scattering in the face of heavy resistance and then going to secret cache's for fuel, ammunition and supplies where their primary function is that of guerrilla warfare. A fleet could not allow them to survive in number if they hoped to bring in their own merchantmen and supply vessels as the fleet moves on with an expanding front. So I'd suspect an SDB would have a couple months of supplies onboard, or at least the posibility of war-loads to enhance it's operations. Two weeks is pretty short-legged.

I think you described the frontier starport spot-on. Everybody loves the latest and greatest defenses... but somebody has to pay for it. Experience tells us forward bases in warfare are often a jumble of weapon systems and defenses that get better with time (and supplies). Often they are quite weak defensively until more weapons and personnel can be brought forward to build and staff more defenses.

And usually the weaker the defenses of a starport the less likely it is a target for pirates because there isn't enough booty there to justify the risk. While I doubt either side is going to be casually tossing nukes about in defense of their port, it's still always a possibility that defenders just MIGHT do that. Attackers won't deploy nukes because then you are destroying what you are trying to raid/steal. A hit-and-run raid is different, as is a full-on assault to take the world.

Plus there pretty much always will be more than one starport on a world. There might be only one official Imperial port, but there will be a myriad of smaller (and even bigger) ones elsewhere. People tend to think of THE starport, just like they think of THE world that THE starport is located on. Planets are big, systems are even bigger. Any developed system is going to have a lot of things going on all over the place. No planet can afford to heavy defenses for every starport, and you really should try to engage an enemy in space since there is less risk of collateral damage. Even fighters in orbit dying will come down... and a measly 10ton fighter hulk slamming into your city center is going to cause massive damage.
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Re: Starport defences

Postby Panteleone » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:35 pm

Great stuff, folks. Thanks for all the great information.

I'm about to start running a game that is going to kick off in the Pegaton system. It's TL4, balkanized/anarchy government, law level 4 (IIRC). However, it does have a class C starport. Assuming that it's run and maintained by the Starport Authority, and given what I've read in the Pegaton write-up, I make some assumptions:

It's probably around TL10 or better, doesn't have a down port, keeps station somewhere out close to the 100d line, and is basically just the Imperium's flag in the ground on a frontier system that, while not exactly offering much in the way of trade and off the Spinward main, is still somewhat strategically located and worth keeping an eye on. I'm assuming the station Director is also wearing the Imperial ambassador hat as a full ambassador probably wouldn't be assigned to what is essentially a backwater. (Although the idea of a minor out-of-favor noble stuck in such an assignment and unhappy about it seems like a fun NPC.)

My current question surrounds what defenses such a starport might have. There's no Scout or Navy base. Being off the beaten path and trafficked lightly by traders, I'm back and forth on whether this is a good (low patrol presence) or bad (thin target environment) system for piracy. There's three gas giants.

What in the way of SDBs would the station operate? I was thinking a couple of 200 or 300-ton non-jump capable ships to patrol the three gas giants and deal with the occasional rescue/customs/piracy mission and a shuttle or two to get planetside as needed. Systems are big places but I can't see the Imperium dedicating much in the way of ships (or ship and crew maintenance resources) for a place like this. Am I wrong? Thoughts? Your feedback is appreciated in advance.

EDIT: I did see somewhere that Pegaton was no longer Imperium territory but it still is IMTU.
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Re: Starport defences

Postby Epicenter » Sat Oct 21, 2017 3:50 am

Panteleone wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:35 pm
It's probably around TL10 or better, doesn't have a down port, keeps station somewhere out close to the 100d line, and is basically just the Imperium's flag in the ground on a frontier system that, while not exactly offering much in the way of trade and off the Spinward main, is still somewhat strategically located and worth keeping an eye on. I'm assuming the station Director is also wearing the Imperial ambassador hat as a full ambassador probably wouldn't be assigned to what is essentially a backwater. (Although the idea of a minor out-of-favor noble stuck in such an assignment and unhappy about it seems like a fun NPC.)
Likely TL12. The infrastructure is going to be imported from the outside anyway. You want it to be as cheap as possible. Since "Imperial Standard" is TL12, that's where the largest economies of scale are going to be, making components the cheapest.

Defenses are going to be extremely light, IMO. Fortifying a backwater system is simply not economically feasible as well as pointless - it doesn't draw in the money to pay for a good defense force. Since any "serious" attacker is going to be able to choose the time and place of their attack, they'll be able to overwhelm your defenses anyway, so there's little point in defending your station against such a threat; the main defense is perhaps the occasional Imperial Navy patrol that passes through the area (this might be anywhere from like once every six months to years between visits). Supplemental defenses might exist in the form of "deputizable" Scout ships that visit the station on the way somewhere. Beyond that, there's little illusion about maintaining some "guerilla resistance" in the system until the Imperium shows up - they know the system is likely to simply be written off by the Imperium or the "liberation" of it might take months or years until the Imperium finally gets around to it (if ever) and likely won't involve fleets of warships and marines but diplomacy. Instead, you only have enough defenses to discourage some Free Trader shooting up the station, holding it hostage, or perhaps they've turned to amateur piracy because they can't make their bank payments and are driven to desperation/insanity or something.

Other problems are more normal: Dealing with the occasional rickety Free Trader appearing after suffering some sort of accident in Jumpspace and being unable to move under its own power. Another ship might require humanitarian aid while being quarantined because they picked up some disease in their last system so the ship has to sit in space for a few weeks while the disease is treated/runs its course and the ship can be ascertained to no longer be a disease vector; they need another ship to deliver them extra foodstuffs, doctors, and perhaps disposal of the dead and decontaminating the ship. So I'd really say perhaps two SDBs (they really want three, but SDBs are expensive). These might be purpose-built SDBs or simply some up-armored and up-gunned Jump-1 starship (Jump-1 is useful to getting around even in-system if the trip would take longer than one week using M-drives); their primary duty would be humanitarian - they'd have a less weaponry than the name SDB would suggest and likely to carry a boarding party.
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Re: Starport defences

Postby Condottiere » Sun Oct 22, 2017 2:22 am

Laser sandcaster combo.
steve98052
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Re: Starport defences

Postby steve98052 » Mon Nov 13, 2017 7:23 pm

Panteleone wrote:
Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:35 pm
. . . I'm assuming the station Director is also wearing the Imperial ambassador hat as a full ambassador probably wouldn't be assigned to what is essentially a backwater. (Although the idea of a minor out-of-favor noble stuck in such an assignment and unhappy about it seems like a fun NPC.)
. . .
My standard Imperial representative for backwater worlds is someone from that world whose service to the Imperium was worthy of a noble title. For example, a world with an "E" starport probably has a staff of approximately one. For example, she might be a local who was promising enough to be recruited into the Imperial Navy, served with distinction, received a knighthood, and then returned to the homeworld. There she lives in the luxurious home that the Navy mustering out and pension buys on a backwater, and has an office in a modular cutter "E" base module.

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