Armor Effectiveness

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
BigDogsRunning
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Armor Effectiveness

Postby BigDogsRunning » Sat May 05, 2018 1:00 am

There seems to be a disconnect between armor values for different sizes of ships.

You can have a TL15 fighter with 15 armor, and a TL15 capital ship with 15 armor, both are at the limit, and both provide exactly the same protection, and that seems ridiculous.

A Capital ship, or a Mega-Freighter, should have much thicker hull material, just by virtue of requiring greater structural strength. Would small-arms penetrate the hull of a modern SuperTanker? I don't know, but I suspect not. I also suspect that the builders of the SuperTanker don't consider their ship "armored". It just has a thick enough hull for proper structural strength.

A 100,000 ton warship, should, by virtue of the stresses applied to its hull during maneuvering, have a thick enough hull that small turreted lasers wouldn't be able to penetrate it without extended exposure, even assuming it wasn't heavily "armored". If it was, would anyone think twice at a description of a 700m ship having 150cm of armor? 150cm, 200cm of armor? Would turreted weapons reasonably be able to penetrate a meter of bonded superdense? 50cm? 30cm?

Sure, the larger vessel has many more structural points to play with, but shouldn't some level of common sense be applied on whether internal damage even comes into play?

I'm not sure what sort of resolution would best resolve this, but the current system doesn't pass the common sense test.
1. An armor factor multiplier at different sizes will simply introduce specific sweet spots for ship tonnage.
2. Increasing armor limits for larger ships will start an arms race to see who can build the largest ships.
3. armor factor multipliers for different hull types/shapes will mitigate some of the differences between designs, but doesn't address the scale difference.
4. We already have an adjustment between personal/vehicular/ship scales for armor effect, and weapon damage. At first glance this seems ok, but it seems to have the same holes as #1 above. It also doesn't make accomodations for larger, heavier, vehicles, like tanks, or craft that straddle categories, like interface fighters. If they are high tech, are they small-craft and use the ship system, or are they merely vehicles?

I don't know how much discussion this has had in the past, but it seems like a useful one.
baithammer
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby baithammer » Sat May 05, 2018 2:13 am

Armour isn't hull, its an added layer.

Also need to take into account that ship scale only takes 1/10th damage from personal scale weapons.

So your 4d6 pistol would only do up to 2 points at ship scale.
BigDogsRunning
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby BigDogsRunning » Sat May 05, 2018 3:24 am

baithammer wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 2:13 am
Armour isn't hull, its an added layer.

Also need to take into account that ship scale only takes 1/10th damage from personal scale weapons.

So your 4d6 pistol would only do up to 2 points at ship scale.
I was under the impression that Armor isn't just an added layer. Canon points to things like reinforced bulkheads to absorb additional stresses, and since armor takes tonnage it shouldn't really be an option to just add armor to a ship without a complete refit.

Also, while aware of the differences between personal and ship scale weapons, I don't see how that makes a difference between a fighter with 15 armor, and SDB with 15 armor, and a Capital ship with 15 armor. Is your suggestion that because a pistol only does 1/10th damage to ships that these things are equivalent?

Assuming a spherical hull:
A TL15 10 ton fighter with 15 (bonded superdense) armor would have 16.8 cubic meters of armor. This is a layer of armor that is roughly 8.1cm thick

A TL15 1000 ton SDB with 15 (bonded superdense) armor would have 1680 cubic meters of armor. This is a layer of armor that is roughly 67cm thick

A TL15 100,000 ton Capital ship with 15 (bonded superdense) armor would have 168000 cubic meters of armor. This is a layer of armor that is roughly 6.2m thick.

My calculations are back of the napkin, so if my math is off, feel free to correct it.

My point is that these three ships are equally armored, according to the current rules. Apparently the man with a 4d6 pistol will only do 2 points of damage, after penetrating the Capital Ships's 6.2m of armor.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat May 05, 2018 8:48 am

Yes, it is a vast simplification just like drives that are dimensioned by volume rather than mass.

It simplifies both the design system and the combat system.

If battleships were allowed 50 points of armour they would be immune to everything but mesons. Then we would have to be able to build weapons with higher penetration and we end up with FFS.

TNE Fire, Fusion, and Steel did this in much more detail and was more realistic and much more complicated. I believe most people prefer the simpler systems in CT and MgT.



Armour is not just the skin of the hull, but also internal bracing to keep the ship from collapsing under acceleration or damage, so it contains a part proportional to the surface of the ship and one part proportional to the volume or mass, hence it's not quite as bad as your calculations.

From MT we know that "a lot of armour" (≈Armour 15) is about 7 m of hardened steel equivalent, or about 1 m of bonded superdense armour not counting sloping.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat May 05, 2018 8:55 am

BigDogsRunning wrote:
baithammer wrote: Armour isn't hull, its an added layer.
I was under the impression that Armor isn't just an added layer.
"Armour" is the hull, as made clear by MT and TNE.

"Armour 0" is thin enough to have insignificant volume, so it can be ignored.

Armour cannot easily be changed or reinforced after the ship is built.
TCS, p16, Refitting Ships wrote:Armour and other parts of the ship integral to the hull (such as configuration or reinforced structure) cannot be changed under any refit.
AnotherDilbert
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sat May 05, 2018 9:25 am

BigDogsRunning wrote:
Sat May 05, 2018 1:00 am
A Capital ship, or a Mega-Freighter, should have much thicker hull material, just by virtue of requiring greater structural strength. Would small-arms penetrate the hull of a modern SuperTanker? I don't know, but I suspect not. I also suspect that the builders of the SuperTanker don't consider their ship "armored". It just has a thick enough hull for proper structural strength.
The skin of a supertanker hull is just 1 - 3 cm of steel:
Reynard
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby Reynard » Sat May 05, 2018 12:26 pm

"Canon points to things like reinforced bulkheads to absorb additional stresses,"

"Reinforced Hull: By increasing the cost of a hull by
+50%, a ship will have its Hull points increased by +10%."

There's your reinforced bulkheads.
baithammer
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby baithammer » Sat May 05, 2018 1:27 pm

Also have Armoured Bulkheads under Options.
Armoured Bulkheads
Armoured bulkheads protect specific areas and systems,
such as the ship’s computer, jump drive or fuel tanks,
making them much more resilient to damage.
Also supertankers hull can be breached by small arms, just requires a massive amount of them to create enough holes to make a difference.
Condottiere
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby Condottiere » Sun May 06, 2018 3:49 am

Protection tends to be a series of compromises; the Warthog isn't covered with light cannon proof armour plating.

However, where it counts, battleships have thick enough armour to withstand their own armament at likely engagement distances.
baithammer
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby baithammer » Sun May 06, 2018 5:32 am

Here's an example of armour on top of hull is about.

https://qph.fs.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-0 ... e5d69.webp

Notice the bit sticking out above the 67, that is armour plating and underneath it is the hull.
phavoc
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby phavoc » Sun May 06, 2018 3:15 pm

Free traders, like super tankers, would only have the bare minimum hull strength to do their job, and to have a safety factor buit into them. That's how all civilian ships have been constructed since the start of time. And merchants operate on the principle of spending just enough money for the designs to be efficient. Previous examples, like 30kt container ships, proved uneconomical compared to their 20kt brethren. Just like nuclear fueled ships have.

And armor is more than hull plates. It requires a superstructure underneath to hold it together and to ensure energy that impacts the outside does not crumple the hull plates.

I also agree it's silly to think a fighter can have the same level of protection as a1,000,000 battleship. First off its silly, and second collapsed matter is dense and heavy. So we have 25g fighters using chemical reaction engines to zip around space armored as heavily as a battleship.

What's worse is that they made the silliness canon now.
NOLATrav
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby NOLATrav » Mon May 07, 2018 3:29 am

This was bothering my group as well so we’ve been trying scaling the damage, kind of like Personal vs Vehicle vs Ship scale.

We have
Small craft and ACS/Civilian scale (up to 2000 dtons)
BCS/Organization scale (2001-5000 dtons)
Capital scale (5001+ dtons)

Each class hits at 50% less cumulative damage per larger class, and plus 50% per class smaller.

So small craft and ACS ships hit BCS ships for half damage. Hitting a Capital ship would be half again, or a net 75% reduction in damage.

Likewise, a Capital ship hits BCS at +50% damage and ACS/smallcraft at +75% damage.

Attacking is RAW, damage adjustments apply to only what gets through all armor and defenses.

We’ve done three battles with this house rule, and it feels pretty good. It’s actually shortened the engagements because the small fry know to run away unless they’re packing surprises.
BigDogsRunning
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby BigDogsRunning » Mon May 07, 2018 11:06 pm

phavoc wrote:
Sun May 06, 2018 3:15 pm
Free traders, like super tankers, would only have the bare minimum hull strength to do their job, and to have a safety factor buit into them. That's how all civilian ships have been constructed since the start of time. And merchants operate on the principle of spending just enough money for the designs to be efficient. Previous examples, like 30kt container ships, proved uneconomical compared to their 20kt brethren. Just like nuclear fueled ships have.

And armor is more than hull plates. It requires a superstructure underneath to hold it together and to ensure energy that impacts the outside does not crumple the hull plates.

I also agree it's silly to think a fighter can have the same level of protection as a1,000,000 battleship. First off its silly, and second collapsed matter is dense and heavy. So we have 25g fighters using chemical reaction engines to zip around space armored as heavily as a battleship.

What's worse is that they made the silliness canon now.
It was the 25g fighter with Battleship armor that bothered me. Silliness indeed. :)
BigDogsRunning
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby BigDogsRunning » Mon May 07, 2018 11:11 pm

NOLATrav wrote:
Mon May 07, 2018 3:29 am
This was bothering my group as well so we’ve been trying scaling the damage, kind of like Personal vs Vehicle vs Ship scale.

We have
Small craft and ACS/Civilian scale (up to 2000 dtons)
BCS/Organization scale (2001-5000 dtons)
Capital scale (5001+ dtons)

Each class hits at 50% less cumulative damage per larger class, and plus 50% per class smaller.

So small craft and ACS ships hit BCS ships for half damage. Hitting a Capital ship would be half again, or a net 75% reduction in damage.

Likewise, a Capital ship hits BCS at +50% damage and ACS/smallcraft at +75% damage.

Attacking is RAW, damage adjustments apply to only what gets through all armor and defenses.

We’ve done three battles with this house rule, and it feels pretty good. It’s actually shortened the engagements because the small fry know to run away unless they’re packing surprises.
My concern about just scaling the damage is that it's still possible to penetrate, and do damage with relatively tiny weapons. Shooting regular turret launched missiles, for example, at a heavily armored battleship would be like trying to take out a modern A-1 Abrams Tank with handguns. The handguns are dangerous to a man, even one wearing kevlar, but I don't care how many of them you've got shooting at the tank, or for how long, you aren't going to tear through that armor to do any real damage to anything inside, although, you might, just might take out a light, or an antenna or something.
phavoc
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby phavoc » Tue May 08, 2018 12:24 am

A better analogy might be a ww2 Fletcher class DD taking on the IJN Yamato. Those 5in shells won't penetrate the main deck or belt armor, but they could damage secondary systems, lighter weapons, maybe some superstructure damage. The real danger would be torps.

In Traveller the idea would be laser turrets would do light damage, nukes could do heavier damage, and there isn't a similar weapon analog for radiation damage or plasma weaponry eating away hull. But it's a close approximate.

Light weaponry could still knock out sensor arrays, comment relays and other minor things. But like their 5in cousins, the light stuff simply can't penetrate the armor. Over time it could possibly beat it down, but that's a long time, and in reality the DD would be sunk before it was over. So from a gaming perspective you simply do lesser amounts of damage.

Renegade legion capital ship combat Leviathan had so very interesting weapon tactics. Some weapons stripped armor off layer by layer while some punched narrow, but deep holes. Starfire had a similar concept with some weapon types, though it was more about how you ordered your ship components to survive than anything else. Starfire also did supplies pretty well. So you had to build in holds if you wanted to keep your fleet on the line longer, or build resupply transports. It was very much a spreadsheet game for strategic combat and standard dice for tactical.
baithammer
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby baithammer » Tue May 08, 2018 6:39 am

Its more like modern warships, where the big weapons have outstripped armour protection with similar increase in "light" weapon damage capability.
phavoc
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby phavoc » Tue May 08, 2018 1:35 pm

baithammer wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 6:39 am
Its more like modern warships, where the big weapons have outstripped armour protection with similar increase in "light" weapon damage capability.
I have always considered Traveller to be set more in the early 1900s era, when big guns and armor meant something. Otherwise things like nukes would just vaporize ships. Spinal mounts don't quite fit into that model. In today's world fighters shooting missiles at long range far outstrip the capability of ships to fight each other. And combat is all BVR with stand-off weapons. Traveller is very much oriented around guns (in this case lasers) shooting, and armor defending the target.
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby Condottiere » Wed May 09, 2018 9:05 pm

Line of sight; armour is less relevant when it goes beyond that, whether with another delivery system like disposable attack craft or smart ordnance with strategic yields.
steve98052
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Re: Armor Effectiveness

Postby steve98052 » Sat May 12, 2018 6:04 pm

Realistically, a missile that hits a ship at Traveller velocities should punch a hole the shape of the missile all the way through the target, leaving incandescent plasma behind through the path it took through the ship, and a trail of plasma for several kilometers beyond the exit hole.

Lasers shouldn't be able to remain a collimated beam at the ranges in Traveller combat, unless they're very high energy photons, such as hard X-rays or gamma rays, because divergence due to diffraction is proportional to wavelength (and inversely proportional to beam aperture). Beam weapons should be best at blinding sensors and destroying other surface features.

Because of the absence of atmosphere in space combat, explosive warheads, even nuclear, have very little blast effect unless they're ridiculously close. (And if you can get that close, why not just punch that cylinder of incandescent plasma through the target?) A nuclear warhead that wasn't nearly touching would do its damage by generating a pulse of heat on the surface of the target, suddenly turning it into rapidly expanding plasma, half of which would re-radiate its energy into space, and the other half of which would pound inward on the hull, potentially collapsing or cracking the hull. Some of its energy would reach the target in the form of gamma radiation, which could be hazardous to people and electronics. Some would reach the target of energetic charged and neutral particles, with similar hazards, but different armor penetration characteristics. But without a lot of research I couldn't say whether the heat pulse, the charged or neutral particles, or the gamma radiation would be most harmful.

The point of all that is that realistically, space combat probably isn't going to be much fun for gaming. So the idea when creating space combat game rules is to make them fun, not realistic. Are the written armor rules fun? I'll leave that open to debate.

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