Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

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Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby Skarn on Thu 16 Jul 2020 01:06

During my v6 introductory solo game, I realized that I've set myself up for a potentially devastating situation. I've been using R4 to locate asteroids, and towing them into orbit around populated worlds with (SY) SS and leaving them adjacent to the SS until needed.

Herein lies the rub; an enemy should be able to use these rocks against me to devastating effect. This isn't in the rules, but it is only marginally outside of them: mass drivers, whether ship-mounted weapons using smaller rocks (think the Centauri bombarding Narn in Babylon 5 2x20, Spoiler Alert: The Long, Twilight Struggle), or by towing asteroids into atmo and dropping them.

Using an (AC)-capable tug, what happens if I deliberately take advantage of E5.10 (Paragravity Limit Interference) while towing an asteroid? That rule links to A10, but the pseudo-science is not detailed as to how far out that limit is. If I tow an asteroid into the PGL, is that close enough that when the tractor beam cuts out the asteroid will fall and make a ramming attack against the surface of the planet at the asteroid's (total/towing) hull size?
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby coldsteel on Thu 16 Jul 2020 19:33

The rules don't say you can do that, so, you can't.
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby PracticalM on Fri 17 Jul 2020 16:35

No matter how realistic it is to use asteroid bombardment, it just isn't allowed.
It was used in the novels, but it just isn't allowed by players.
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby Cralis on Mon 20 Jul 2020 02:16

Honestly, if you want to drop rocks then here is what I'd do for rules:

1. Use a modification of the R4 survey rules to find an asteroid. Probably something like (1d10 + SP)% x 3000 PU where the SP are cumulative making a roll each month until you find an asteroid you want to use.

2. Pay some obscene amount of money to build rockets on the asteroids. I'd pay something like 10x "PU size" of the asteroid to build those rockets, using "1 HS" of SY Build Rate per 10 "PU size" of the asteorid.

3. Once completed, the asteroid starts moving 1 sH per Month closer to the target planet. If need it can even go into a lower orbit until it catches up and then moves into the planet's orbit after. On the Month that the asteroid enters the planet's sH, it impacts the planet doing as much damage in PU as the "PU size" of the asteroid.

4. However, I would have the penalty that each PU destroyed in this manner permanently reduces the maximum PU of the planet by 1.

5. For the purposes of V6.04 (Consequences of Genocide), the "Base Level" of genocide from asteroid bombardment is TWO levels higher than normal. So a Level A bombardment becomes Level C, and it only takes a Level E bombardment to max the chart at Level G.

For V6.04.1 Reciprocal Genocide, #1 "been attacked in last 50 months" doesn't count if you use asteroid bombardment. In fact, I'd probably give a modifier to V6.04.1 table of +("PU Size"/100) for each asteroid used to bombard a populated world. (This allows for dropping multiple rocks on an empire that qualifies as genocidal, so a 3000 PU asteroid dropped on a V.Large population would add +30 the roll, a second such drop would increase it to +60, etc.)

That would be my starting point for rules to do asteroid bombardment.
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby Skarn on Tue 21 Jul 2020 08:19

Domo arigato, Cralis-san.

That looks like an excellent starting point, but it actually doesn't address the situation I originally described.

My situation is that I've already used R4 rules (as written) to find asteroids and tow them into orbit around my own populated worlds. I have asteroids (intended for eventual AF usage) ranging from 50 to 266 HS usable size that are 1 tH away from three different populations of Small or larger size. This gives me cause to worry about tractors and E5.10 interactions for the rocks that are already at my doorstep.

Fortunately, my every leap-year Berserker was built without the Te that would have been available to it (the first one got to 1 sH away from my home world before it was destroyed; the second didn't last past the first warp point assault 8-) ), but there's still the possibility of finding an NPR that doesn't like the look of my people.

---

Before these rules go into the optional section, I would recommend that they have a conversion factor for HS (either usable or towing) -> PU-devastation of already discovered but not yet used asteroids, and interactions between tractor beams and rocket-propelled asteroids (can they be stopped?). At first glance (I haven't verified the math), it looks like you've given about 1-to-10 usable HS -> PU devastation.

OTOH, we could easily adapt the existing ramming rules, based on the asteroid's tractor/towing size and thereby not need a new algorithm to patch into R4. A simple multiplier (if necessary) could account the the effect of the asteroids' sheer bulk.

As to the "rockets", perhaps Cp (or other not yet divulged LEL-) drives could be put to the asteroids based on HS.
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby Cralis on Thu 23 Jul 2020 20:33

I'm going to re-order what you said because it makes more sense to answer the questions in that order.

Skarn wrote:OTOH, we could easily adapt the existing ramming rules, based on the asteroid's tractor/towing size and thereby not need a new algorithm to patch into R4. A simple multiplier (if necessary) could account the the effect of the asteroids' sheer bulk.


The existing ramming rules already cover ramming. Large units can only ram worlds smaller than mass 1 [C10.07.2] due to the paragravity effect that counters DFs when close to large masses. This is something that's been in Starfire since Galactic Starfire, but we are finally defining it in the rules in the next version of SSF. Basically, a unit with a DF that drops that drive field when too close to a large mass, and without (AC), will instead be thrust back into geosynchronous orbit before the DF falls completely. This is why you cannot use Tractor Beams or drive-fields to ram asteroids or other things into most planets.

C10.07 covers ramming a planetary surface. D4.03.3.6 covers damage. V6.02 covers the bombardment part, since you will do collateral damage via bombardment with this method. Specifically you want to pay attention to V6.02.5 Ramming.

The existing rules presumes that ramming is always intentional to do bombardment damage, which V6.01.3 says each point of damage does 1/5 PU damage. D4.03.3.6 says that large units doing 1 damage per HS (as a nuclear warhead). Therefore, every 5 HS of size destroys 1 PU.

As you say, you either have to use LEL drives (which is what my suggestion above presumes), or you can't do it with drive-field technology (I drives, Tractor beams, etc.)

Before these rules go into the optional section, I would recommend that they have a conversion factor for HS (either usable or towing) -> PU-devastation of already discovered but not yet used asteroids, and interactions between tractor beams and rocket-propelled asteroids (can they be stopped?). At first glance (I haven't verified the math), it looks like you've given about 1-to-10 usable HS -> PU devastation.


I've already outlined the existing rules above.

As to the "rockets", perhaps Cp (or other not yet divulged LEL-) drives could be put to the asteroids based on HS.


Hmmm. Looking through my notes, when we do the section V rewrite (the update AFTER the update we are working on now), these numbers are going to change significantly because ramming presumes drive-fields, and ramming a planet isn't possible with a drive-field. So it's going to require a much larger HS in ships to destroy population like this. Under the current rules, it doesn't take a very large asteroid (or very many ships) to annihilate a world.

The big thing missing from the rules right now is permanent damage to the PU maximum for a world you bombard, especially bombarding it with an asteroid. I'd recommend a 2:1 ratio, so if you bombardment a completely full world then you lose half the PU maximum when you are done.
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby TLR on Fri 24 Jul 2020 10:09

Note that "strapping on LEL drives", like Cp, has another variable you have not considered.
If you don't care about "incidental surface damage" - It's just a big rock, after all - there is really no upper speed-limit to your asteroid-bombardment. Kinetic energy is proportional to the square of speed, so faster rocks should do proportionally more damage.
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby TLR on Fri 24 Jul 2020 10:23

Of course, this sort of question brings up other currently out-of-scope issues. A planetary (or, more likely, lunar) mass-driver should be more that capable of launching large rocks at appreciable speeds (shades of Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"). While best for bombarding their home planet, they could also be devastating anti-ship weapons (a bit hard to aim, but ammo is cheap an damage is tremendous). This doesn't really work as a shipboard weapon, because the incredible recoil basically makes it a very jerky, but powerful, rocket.

As part of a Planetary Defense System, moon-mounted magnetic or gravitic launchers (maybe even with canister based "shotgun" loads with semi-terminal trajectory-adjustment) would be truly terrifying...and very expensive to build (acceleration rails several hundred kilometres in length).
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby krenshala on Fri 24 Jul 2020 20:23

Rocks don't work against drive field equipped units, though. The drive field turns them into gamma radiation (space dust is why its unhealthy to leave smallcraft on @ or XO racks for too long for that reason) going in all directions when the rocks come into contact. Its part of the reason why missiles are assumed to be nukes that focus their blast toward the target ... they are attempting to get enough radiation into the hull to have a chance at damage; rocks just wouldn't be able to as the kinetic energy is irrelevant when the inertial just drops away on contact with the DF. :)

(yeah, my post has a bit of PSB as well as references to how the rules work :lol: )
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Re: Starfire WMD: Dropping Rocks

Postby Cralis on Fri 24 Jul 2020 21:18

TLR wrote:Note that "strapping on LEL drives", like Cp, has another variable you have not considered.
If you don't care about "incidental surface damage" - It's just a big rock, after all - there is really no upper speed-limit to your asteroid-bombardment. Kinetic energy is proportional to the square of speed, so faster rocks should do proportionally more damage.


Oh I considered it, but I ignored it for the first part of this discussion because I didn't want to do the math. :) In any final version, however, you're right that it would have to be considered. It's another reason why we just ignore it altogether in the main rules.

Edit: There is something that I'm not sure you have considered either. The faster the rock goes, the more destructive it will be to the PU max of the planet. In fact, if you carried this out to the full extent, taking the time to push an asteroid fast enough could shatter the planet. But like I said, I don't care to play this way so I'll let ya'll do the math for that.

TLR wrote:Of course, this sort of question brings up other currently out-of-scope issues. A planetary (or, more likely, lunar) mass-driver should be more that capable of launching large rocks at appreciable speeds (shades of Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"). While best for bombarding their home planet, they could also be devastating anti-ship weapons (a bit hard to aim, but ammo is cheap an damage is tremendous). This doesn't really work as a shipboard weapon, because the incredible recoil basically makes it a very jerky, but powerful, rocket.


"A bit harder to aim" is a tremendous understatement. Unless you're shooting at something with LEL drives, you probably wouldn't be able to hit at all unless your target parked at the end of your accelerator. It simply wouldn't be capable of changing aim fast enough to be effective.

Remember, HEL drives can start and stop on a time. It's virtually impossible hit them with something like this unless you surprise them.

As part of a Planetary Defense System, moon-mounted magnetic or gravitic launchers (maybe even with canister based "shotgun" loads with semi-terminal trajectory-adjustment) would be truly terrifying...and very expensive to build (acceleration rails several hundred kilometres in length).


We already consider that things like this must exist in the game for economic uses, we simply leave them as part of the abstracted economy.

I've said before: if you want to add stuff like this to your game, go for it. That's why we support house rules. It makes your campaign games unique, and people loves to read unique stories!
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