Rules check please - Starship combat damage

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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Postby Captain Jonah » Mon Aug 02, 2010 8:54 am

Well as regards gunners in a traveller battle, do you have gunners on an over the horizon weapon mount on a modern warship.

Part of the problem is terminology, we are not talking about someone standing next to the weapon hand loading the missiles and hand cranking the turret to point in the right direction, well I hope not anyway :D
We are rather talking about the ships fire control officers who sit on the bridge or CIC etc and select targets, missile types etc then hit the big red button ordering the computer to fire when the shot is in arc etc.

If for example you are on a Merc cruiser with 4 triple lasers, 2 triple missiles and 2 triple sandcastes running fire control 4 (4 turrets linked). One gunner/fire controler guides the fire of the 4 lasers both against enemy ships and missiles giving priority to targets minute by minute (well 6 mins by 6 mins), a second runs the missile turrets selecting targets and running such telelink commands as the simple missiles use. The third is point defence and is both guarding against laser hits by firing sand into any incoming hit probability beams and ready to load a canister of pebbles in case a missile slips past the laser gunner.

None of them are anywhere near a turret and these days you don't have seats of controls in/on a weapon mount anyway so why would you go backwards in the future. If you take a turret ht its down to damage control teams to deal with it while the gunner/fire controler fires what turrets he has left.

Hey Iocarno24 go ahead and stat some medium missiles, turret/barbetter and bay mounts. I am looking at trying to make torpedos worth using. Lets get the full range of weapons covered here where people can comment etc.
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Postby locarno24 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:08 am

Rather than high-jack a thread, I'll womble over and make a new one...
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Postby Captain Jonah » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:51 am

rinku wrote:
DFW wrote:
Captain Jonah wrote:Update to Plasma / Fusion. Ndampers work on both Plasma and Fusion. Sandcasters do work on hi energy weapons but act to reduce the armour penetration rather than the damage.
Sounds good except for this last part. The energy coming from a fusion weapon and causing damage is the result of fusion that has already taken place within the weapon. "The horse has already left the barn", so to speak. A nuke damper wouldn't do anything against the stream hitting a ship.
Well, that's not what the standard rules say (p.150). My guess is that the ND they present is damping down the rads instead of preventing the reaction from happening (despite the text on p112). Presuambly the rad hit from particle beams is not affected since that's an effect from the N-PAWS beam hitting the hull, so the damper has no range to work with. But it has no effect on plasma weapons in any case.

Thought: as presented in space combat, a nuke damper should be of use against something like a solar flare (at least the radiation bit).
I mentioned that Plasma and Fusion hits no longer do crew radiation hits so the Ndamper doesn't help there. A hi energy weapon punches a nice neat hole in your hull and what ever system happens to be under the hull at that point, as the plasma/fusion packet loses cohesion and spreads out it does less damage over a wider area but its not going to be widespread (5 to 10 metres in an open area, most likely contained by bulkheads and walls to a single room).

A Pbeam does not have the same penetration or any penetration at all (Pbeams against heavy armour is a well known problem) so it plays across large areas of the hull as both firer and target move. This releases radiation from the beam interaction with the hull across large parts of the target ship hence reaching many crewed areas.

As DFW correctly pointed out when I was trying to keep at least somewhat to the rules as printed Ndampers have no effect what so ever on a reaction that has already taken place so will do nothing against an incoming Plasma/Fusion packet. You could, if you were very close, use the Ndamper against the Plasma/Fusionweapon to interfere with the initial reaction before it takes place but not afterwards.

Ndampers should have an area screening effect which can be used to protect against radiation in that area. Either by preventing the release of radiation when hi energy particles hit matter in the area or by acting as a screen between the area and the incoming radiation decaying the radioactive particles to harmless dust before they hit. Since the Ndamper effect is from several units you would either need a lot of small projector or de focus the contact point of the Ndamper to reduce its effect but increas its area.

Not sure about using an Ndamper against the sun, would have to be a veeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrry big Ndamper :D
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Postby DFW » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:54 am

rinku wrote:
DFW wrote:. My guess is that the ND they present is damping down the rads instead of preventing the reaction from happening (despite the text on p112). Presuambly the rad hit from particle beams is not affected since that's an effect from the N-PAWS beam hitting the hull, so the damper has no range to work with. But it has no effect on plasma weapons in any case.

Thought: as presented in space combat, a nuke damper should be of use against something like a solar flare (at least the radiation bit).
Ah, thanks. That could work.
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Postby DFW » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:01 pm

justacaveman wrote:Realistically a gunner's skill won't have any benefit at all in space combat. There is absolutely nothing that a human being (or alien) can do that a computer program can't do better.
Fire Control/n "Allows the computer to fire a number of weapons per round equal to the listed number. Alternatively, it can give a positive DM to an attack equal to the listed number"

Taking gunners out is already partly listed in the rules. Just have an intellect program running with the appropriate Expert program. It's already done for astrogation, a lot more difficult pgm to write.
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Postby justacaveman » Mon Aug 02, 2010 12:46 pm

You have to give the players something to do with that Gunnery skill though.

In reality, space combat is going to resemble a cross between submarine warfare and modern air combat.

The main problem is the distances involved in space combat. Using passive sensors and beam weapons, there will be a .2 second delay for every 30,000 kilometers of range (approximately). If you use active sensors the delay actually increases by .1 second/30k kilometers. Realistically, missles would be the only weapons with a reasonable chance of hitting a distant evading target.
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Postby DFW » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:34 pm

justacaveman wrote:Realistically, missles would be the only weapons with a reasonable chance of hitting a distant evading target.
That reminds me. Remember the program called Predict? Anyway, time to hire psionic gunners!
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Postby Captain Jonah » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:47 pm

DFW wrote:
justacaveman wrote:Realistically, missles would be the only weapons with a reasonable chance of hitting a distant evading target.
That reminds me. Remember the program called Predict? Anyway, time to hire psionic gunners!
PSIONIC GUNNERS ! ! ! ! :shock:

Damn Zhodani infiltrator :D :P :D
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Postby locarno24 » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:52 pm

Not sure about using an Ndamper against the sun, would have to be a veeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrry big Ndamper
Had one in a previous campaign. Actually it was the size of a large coffee mug. :D

Universal traveller answer #3 - the ancients did it.

It didn't work of course, because the rather important detail of the power source wasn't availible. Not that anyone dared try to switch it on and hence find this out.

Remarkable how threatening an unknown ancient device can be. Someday someone will unwittingly try to hold a planet to ransom with Grandfather's coffee machine.
The main problem is the distances involved in space combat. Using passive sensors and beam weapons, there will be a .2 second delay for every 30,000 kilometers of range (approximately). If you use active sensors the delay actually increases by .1 second/30k kilometers. Realistically, missles would be the only weapons with a reasonable chance of hitting a distant evading target.
Yes and no. At 30 thousand Km, in a worst case scenario (target painted by active radar), you've got a 0.3s delay between what your sensor picture says when you fire and where the target is when you arrive. With relative speeds potentially up in the Km/s range, that's a big chunk of distance, many times the dimensions of the ship.

But!

In theory a competent gunner who's been tracking the target for several seconds/minutes before firing will have an acurate velocity vector as well as a location at the point of firing (if you were too accurate in both, you might annoy Mr Heisenberg, but a warship is a big, non-quantum object so he can get lost).

As a result, you (in theory) know its ballistic course - i.e. where it would be 0.3s later if it flew straight ahead without using its engines - with enough precision to hit it fairly reliably (to the limits of focussing lenses, etc). Which means that the only motion that matters is what happens due to acceleration occuring within those 0.3s, which will be about 0.44m per g.

Assuming a thrust-4 m-drive, the target's centre will therefore be within a sphere of a diameter of 3.5m, centred on its course, 0.3s down-vector at the moment of firing. Given that most target ships will be larger than this, suddenly the shot (provided you're asking the computer to do it) looks a lot more achievable.

Of course, the above is (as with most of what I say) at least partly drivel. You don't know the enemy's course precisely - you're interpreting a best guess based on the observed parallax over the last few seconds, and the current information you've got on what your own manouvres have been.

The 3.5m bulls-eye above is a sort of 'perfect gunnery' exercise that only occurs in mathematics text books; in any real situation there is jamming, manouvres of your own ship, battle damage to sensors, and the uncertainty inherent in any measurement (especially when done quickly under stress). The less accurately you know the enemy's course, the bigger the potential bubble grows, hence the more likely that some sort of sweep pattern through it won't hit anything (or at least won't hit anything vulnerable) as the 'shot density' decreases.

Still, it shouldn't grown that big, and with 6 minutes to saturate a continuously updated target area with fire, hits aren't impossible.
Last edited by locarno24 on Mon Aug 02, 2010 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Postby DFW » Mon Aug 02, 2010 1:53 pm

justacaveman wrote:Realistically, missles would be the only weapons with a reasonable chance of hitting a distant evading target.
About the only way to hit would be 1st shot against an unsuspecting ship until you closed the distance gap.
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Postby justacaveman » Mon Aug 02, 2010 7:32 pm

It's easy to predict your shot when the target isn't evading, but practically impossible to hit them when it is evading.
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Postby phavoc » Mon Aug 02, 2010 9:43 pm

Maybe a closer analogy for having gunners would be the battleships of WW1 and WW2. Gunners back then could affect the speed and accuracy of the gun rounds, by taking the information from the observers watching their rounds land and providing them feedback. Though its different in many ways, and while any starship gunner is gonna need targetting data since he most likely will never see his targets (please god, never let Wing Commander movie surface again!), having some input on your firing solution from someone who "has been there" may indeed assist your firing solutions

It's also like gunners in modern artillery. Modern arty never see's its targets, and they too receive info from the fire control and forward observer teams. Hmm, okay, wait, the more I think about this, the more I'm going back towards the other side... Modern arty lays its tubes according to the info it gets from FDC. Standards call for taking a few potshots till you have the range of the target (based on feedback from a FA), then once you are there, you unload like crazy. However, a gunner who knows his tube and has experience, can sometimes skip a step or two based on the feedback he gets from FA. he's using his brain to skip steps in logic to arrive at his destination.

Yeah, I know, somewhat of a stretch, but I've seen it happen. And I've seen gun leaders dumber than a box of rocks too... but that's a topic for another thread...
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Postby rinku » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:37 am

Captain Jonah wrote:Not sure about using an Ndamper against the sun, would have to be a veeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrry big Ndamper :D
Well, no - under your treatment of NDs (which I have no problem with) it wouldn't work that way.

I do recall, though, that Striker mentioned using NDs to clean up residual radiation from nuke strikes, so it's quite possible that apart from the old concept of making fissionable material inert, the technology *can* be used to protect against incoming rads (though this could have issues for x-ray and gamma-ray lasers :) )

Hmmm... with a solar flare, where is the radiation hazard coming from anyway? If it's something to do with the coronal material itself, NDs might be able to help with that.
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Postby Ishmael » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:32 am

As I understand it, nuclear dampers allow for the manipulation of the strong force by projecting nodes and anti-nodes of influence.
This can allow for increasing or decreasing the rate of radioactive decay and perhaps the rate of fission and fusion reactions.

I don't know how this could effect any ionizing radiation ( except alpha particles ) directly. Perhaps it could allow for controlling the effects of induced radiation, but not much else.

In earlier editions, it protected against nuclear weapons by preventing the nuclear reaction from occurring ( or causing the materials to decay to the point that a nuclear reaction would not occur ), not by 'cleaning up' radiation after a hit. In Striker, the anti-node prevented radioactive decay of ultra-heavy elements used in collapsing rounds.
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Postby rinku » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:15 am

I could be mis-remembering it. I'll check my sources tonight.
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Postby locarno24 » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:40 am

Affecting rate of decay is reasonable (in a sense that it's a physical process that we don't know all that well, so it's the perfect subject for handwavium technology), but actually interfering with the effects of radiation is less so.

An alpha or beta particle isn't going to undergo radioactive decay - it's the decay that generated it. It's an ionizing particle, moving at speed, and the only way to stop its effect is to deflect or absorb it (i.e. 'conventional radiation shielding', or make it spontaneously pop out of existance - in which case, since they're indistinguishable from any other set of subatomic particles, all other matter in the field is going to do likewise. Which it clearly doesn't.

As a result, I can imagine a device which will cause a fission or fusion nuke to (partially) fizzle. Once the radiation is flying, there's not a lot you can do.

That would also explain why a particle beam hit still generates radiation on a nuclear damped target.
Understand that I'm not advocating violence.
I'm just saying that it's highly effective and I strongly recommend using it.
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Postby rinku » Tue Aug 03, 2010 11:51 am

Here we are (knew there was something!):

Striker Book 2 p.12 (Rule 40E)
"Another use of nuclear dampers is to eliminate the radioactive contamination caused by a nuclear weapon detonation."

So, no. It's only de-nuking the fallout, not blocking radiation.
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Postby Captain Jonah » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:10 pm

rinku wrote:
Captain Jonah wrote:Not sure about using an Ndamper against the sun, would have to be a veeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrry big Ndamper :D
Well, no - under your treatment of NDs (which I have no problem with) it wouldn't work that way.

Hmmm... with a solar flare, where is the radiation hazard coming from anyway? If it's something to do with the coronal material itself, NDs might be able to help with that.
Good find on the striker page, I knew it was in the rules somewhere.

You have a big enough Ndamper and use it to reduce the Fusion reaction at the base of the flare then no eruption, no coronal mass ejection, no flare. Would need a biiiiiiiiiig Ndamper though :D

With the striker Ndamper area de-nuking (is that a word :D ) as you are iradiated by being hit by gamma etc. If you are being de radiated by an area Ndamper at the same time as being radiated is it much worse that sun burn :shock:

It takes a fairly high dose of rads to kill you on the spot, with lower levels you suffer gradual damage so if you are being cleaned up as you suffer the rads then there "probably" will not be any long term effects.

Volunteers form up way over there please :D
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Postby rust » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:14 pm

Looks like there could be some use for nuclear dampers in the decontami-
nation procedures of the mining of radioactives ...
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Postby CosmicGamer » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:15 pm

First, where is this information coming from about sensors and the delays? Which mongoose book? High Guard? I've only briefly looked at a friends.

Next, is there any rules or real (perhaps only real based on current TL. Future, currently unimagined, technology can do it by 'magic'.) reason that an energy weapon has to be tiny little narrow ray which is hard to hit a moving target and not a huge 'ball' of energy?

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