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In My 2300 Universe Discussion of non-canon ideas for use in your 2300 Universe

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Old March 17th, 2013, 01:42 AM
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Default Making Ships Available to PCs

If you like the idea that PCs are unlikely to own ships, and that all/most ships belong to governments and megacorps, you can move along, nothing to see here.

If you like the idea of PCs having ships, you really need a good reason for why there should be a bunch of used ships available at prices that a PC or group could afford. One good reason would be some major upgrade in ship tech that all the "big guys" want to jump on, but that doesn't retrofit well to the older ships.

A few ideas I'm looking at:

- a recent upgrade in FTL tech that requires a larger engineering space, but is enough better to be worth building a bunch of new ships to incorporate the new tech (such as stutterwarps that can go 10ly or 12ly or whatever seems appropriate before needing discharge)

- a pseudo-grav inertial compensator system (like Trav grav-plates) that is economical to put in new ships but a PITA to retrofit - thus the old ships w spin-habs and such are outdated and available for PCs - this also allows use of Traveller "deck oriented" ship designs (w some fudging for the engineering differences) as the newer ships

Any suggestions for other ideas that make old ships available but don't completely unbalance the setting w new ship designs?
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Old March 17th, 2013, 03:55 AM
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Star Cruiser already has three levels of technology - sort of. Civilian/old military, old military/new civilian and new military.

To that you should probably add military r&d/kafer, since the Kafers show that the technology of 2300 ships is still developing. That gives you 4.

During and post the Kafer war there will likely be an upgrade of military craft and a surplus of older style ships.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 08:17 AM
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- Like companies that operate a fleet of cars, some organizations may decide that being reliable is important and as ships get older the unpredictable breakdowns are not good for business so they replace ships at a certain age.
- Individuals and start ups don't always run off with the ship when they can't make payments. Businesses fail and lenders take back the ship and need to find new owners.
- Especially with yachts, ships are status symbols and people like prestige of having the latest shiny thing.
- Business has been good, time to trade this one in for a larger one.
- Business has been bad, I better trade this one in for a smaller one.
- Estate sale. The group of heirs have no interest in running a ship and would rather sell and take the equity.
- Ship seized for smuggling and being auctioned off.

I'm not familiar with the details of 2300 ship availability and building so some of this might not apply. I'm not sure in 2300 how "old" ships would be? I'd think in this time period ship building is still in it's infancy and certain upgrades to the way they are built are not backward compatible.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by SpaceBadger View Post
Any suggestions for other ideas that make old ships available but don't completely unbalance the setting w new ship designs?
The simplest is, a Scout ship. After that you can have a relative (who is an old retired Merchant) die and leave a PC a small run down ship.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 11:10 PM
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Admittedly, there's a few problems I have with the lack of Stutterwarp ships in the 2300 universe. Or rather, I have one problem with the lack of Stutterwarp ships in the 2300 universe: Making them that rare violates the internal reality of the 2300 universe.

In short, I don't think there's any reason why you can't increase the number of ships by several times. In fact, I think it'd make sense to do so. I think I read somewhere that it was estimated there were only 2000 or so ships in the 2300 human sphere? I think that's off by a factor of five to ten.

They don't really explore why Stutterwarp ships are so rare in the 2300 universe, but here's the reasons I can think of:

Coil-grade Tantalum is rare or it requires a lot of Tantalum to make a coil.

If Tantalum were that rare, nobody would use Detonation Laser missiles. People would look at you like you grew another head right in front of their eyes if you suggested carrying multiple Stutterwarp coils to extend the range of your ship, and throwing out saturated coils as you travel. Either way, you wouldn't see them; cost would be prohibitive. The Tantalum coil would be upwards of 70% of the price of a ship in this case and all ships, with ships costing a certain minimum amount which would still be an extraordinary amount of money.

It's hard to make a Stutterwarp drive.

It's never explained that only the French or the French with a few select other high Tier nations can make Stutterwarp drives. It's logical to assume that not everyone has the technology to make them, but I should think that at least ten Earth nations in 2300 could make Stutterwarp drives. Then you have to factor in Alpha Centauri, which is considered so developed it's another Core world. There's a number of independent nations there which probably could make Stutterwarp drives. Prices can't really be that high given the competition, right? There are commercial Stutterwarp ships, so it's not like modern orbital rocketry, there's a lot more players in the space transport business.

There's a cartel that controls who can make Stutterwarp drives.

This doesn't make much sense either. If you look at the number of nations who seem likely to be able to make Stutterwarp ships, a lot of them don't really get along. Many of them have or could develop the vertical industrial chain to make a Stutterwarp drive from beginning to end. All it really takes is one group to not play ball and the system falls apart. Colony worlds, especially developed colony worlds who've gone independent (I'm looking at you, Alpha Centauri) or corporate worlds like Trilon's Xi Yuma seem like they'd find it pretty lucrative to make Stutterwarp ships for anyone who pays, which would generate long lists of orders. At that point, it's likely other nations would want to cash in on the gravy train and the cartel would fall apart.

There's not many customers for Stutterwarp drives.

If nobody buys Stutterwarp, then nobody is going to bother to make it, making the industrial infrastructure uncommon, keeping prices high. Yet, again, there's enough interest in Stutterwarp for companies to want to buy Stutterwarp ships for commercial purposes. So again, they must be more common than that.

It's unprofitable for anyone but governments or corporations to own Stutterwarp ships.

This has got to be the canon reason, in my opinion. Between governments and large companies, their economies of scale drive down the price of interstellar shipping to a point where an independent "tramp" freighter operator cannot afford to operate a ship. Anyone who can afford a Stutterwarp ship can have one made, but there's not many customers. They're expensive, and there's not much you can do with them that will turn a sufficient profit to keep allow you to pay off the loans. Except there's suggestion, here and there, that there are tramp freighters. This might be a "writer's drift" situation where 2300's writers unconsciously kept moving towards the tramp freighter universe of Traveller, but there's mentions of indie ship operators, specifically during the events of Invasion and in Joi revolt before the Invasion, there's mention of independent ship operators doing various things. These captains must somehow be able to make ends meet, regardless of if they're using third-hand ships or have wealthy patrons or whatever.

In conclusion, I'd think Stutterwarp ships would not be the equivalent of modern day automobiles or even private sailing ships in numbers, but I think there's no reason why a group of players who want a ship couldn't have one if they wanted one. They might be in a relatively select club, but I'd think there's enough private ship owners that they wouldn't be on some "short-list" of "private ship operators." At worst, I think they'd know even half of the other private ship operators in a given Arm but I doubt there's a situation where if you gathered all the private ship operators in one place, they wouldn't even fill a large conference room.
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Old March 18th, 2013, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by epicenter00 View Post
This has got to be the canon reason, in my opinion. Between governments and large companies, their economies of scale drive down the price of interstellar shipping to a point where an independent "tramp" freighter operator cannot afford to operate a ship. Anyone who can afford a Stutterwarp ship can have one made, but there's not many customers. They're expensive, and there's not much you can do with them that will turn a sufficient profit to keep allow you to pay off the loans. Except there's suggestion, here and there, that there are tramp freighters. This might be a "writer's drift" situation where 2300's writers unconsciously kept moving towards the tramp freighter universe of Traveller, but there's mentions of indie ship operators, specifically during the events of Invasion and in Joi revolt before the Invasion, there's mention of independent ship operators doing various things. These captains must somehow be able to make ends meet, regardless of if they're using third-hand ships or have wealthy patrons or whatever.
There was also an article that I read somewhere (I think maybe Challenge) about piracy in the 2300AD universe, working out all the details of a 2 ship system requiring one armed ship to stop the victim, then another ship to come in and take away the loot to be sold. Unless these were all expected to be state-sponsored privateering, that implies some available ships somewhere.
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Old March 18th, 2013, 09:42 AM
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As for an actual suggestion, here's one I've been kicking around for a while that I think could be introduced into a 2300 campaign without too much disruption:

Non-Tantalum Stutterwarp Coils.

2300's always had a hard sci-fi feel unlike Traveller. So, if you go with the canon universe and assume for whatever reason that Stutterwarp is rare and Tantalum is super-expensive (come on, it's not that rare, even on Earth, but whatever) ... then humans will do something else. It's called: Look for alternatives.

Now, since this is hard sci-fi, I refuse to believe that there is some magical unobtanium quality to Tantalum that makes it the only substance in the universe that can make Stutterwarp coils. That kind of thing rarely happens in real-life. What Tantalum is in 2300 is probably the optimal material to make Stutterwarp coils from. In this case, it probably has the best ability to hold a charge, allowing for the longest distance traveled (7.7ly in the current age of the game).

However, there must be materials that are not as good as Tantalum but still let you get the benefits of Stutterwarp. We'll say, for instance, there's a number of metals or alloys of metals that contain no Tantalum that can create Stutterwarp coils.

Many of these alternatives will be unusable. Some will be more expensive than Tantalum is due to rarity, yet have inferior performance so we won't consider them. Some will be outright hazardous to use, their coil saturation points (and therefore their dangerous decay cascades) will occur at unpredictable points. There's all sorts of other factors we can't consider, such as ones that can't handle that much mass or something else. These aren't discussed with Stutterwarp because 2300 is a game and not a physics of the future textbook. We'll throw all those out, too.

However, there is likely to be at least one substance (element or compound) that doesn't contain Tantalum that has the same smooth predictability of Tantalum coils, but at some drawback. We'll say it doesn't have the range of Tantalum coil (ie; it just doesn't hold the charge as well).

We have a BIG winner at this point.

We'll say that there's a material that is less expensive than Tantalum (because it's more common) but produces coils that only have a range of about 1ly before requiring discharge. This is a revolution in Stutterwarp coils.

Suddenly, a lot of the short-range applications don't require Tantalum: commercial hulls that ply intra-system routes (say, like trans-Uranus to Earth) don't require Tantalum coils. Missiles no longer require Tantalum either. The low habitability, short-mission fighter types don't require Tantalum anymore, either. SDBs, too. Someone who just wants the 2300 equivalent of a pleasure sailboat could use this stuff, too.

Long-term it probably means a drop in prices of Tantalum as a lot of uses of Tantalum can now be substituted by the new substance.

Short-term, there's opportunity for players. A few hulls are probably going to open up as operators see this as a perfect opportunity to overhaul and replace some of their fleets and replace their current Stutterwarp drives with the new coils while they're at it, making Tantalum coils or entire ships available second-hand. Militaries will probably scrap a lot of their missile and fighters, citing bloc obsolescence, making Stutterwarp coils available again. Manufacturers could make new ships with the freed up coils, making them available to players.

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There was also an article that I read somewhere (I think maybe Challenge) about piracy in the 2300AD universe, working out all the details of a 2 ship system requiring one armed ship to stop the victim, then another ship to come in and take away the loot to be sold. Unless these were all expected to be state-sponsored privateering, that implies some available ships somewhere.
I could understand there not being privateering in 2300's space. I'm aware that there's this "pirate meme" amongst people for whatever reason that makes piracy and pirates really "cool" to people, so they try and introduce into any game with ships, but 2300 seems to be a universe that might just be too small and high-tech to allow pirates.

On the other hand, I do remember rules on how to handle privateering in the back of the Invasion supplement - privateering during the Kafer war might work, though it seems sort of madness. They really needed to give the Kafers more ship types and I always thought that by psychology, Kafer "freighters" would not the Oscars given in the back of the book*.



* Pet Peeve, so feel free to skip it: This probably should go into my old "Kafer reboot" threads but I always thought that Kafers, by nature, would not have freighters as we envision them. For one thing, due to Kafer psychology, they would have pirates and privateers, especially pirates so they'd have to arm up their freighters. But also, merchant hulls amongst humans tend to be dedicated-built to be inexpensive as possible, haul lots of cargo, and due to laws, tend to have minimal to no weaponry - and that's what a Kafer Oscar looks like. Except freighter duty would be really boring to Kafers - endlessly shuttling supplies around in a slow ship, essentially unarmed ship that must run from any attack? That's a recipe for a frequent mutinies within your ship. The chok'aav couldn't keep order on such boring ships; the moment a commerce raider shows up, the crew would go to fight the raider, knowing full well they'll lose, but at least it's excitement. So it seems more likely that you'd get calmer, more experienced Kafers to crew such a vessel. But those Kafers are the smarter Kafers who'd balk at being forced to crew a slow, paper-thin hulled ship with practically no weapons. Kafers seem really bad at doing convoy work as well, so they wouldn't have any warship guardians.

By Kafer psychology, being weak is literally an invitation to the entire universe to come pick on you. That's an Oscar. I just find it inconceivable the Kafers, by their own psychology, would make such a ship. A Kafer cargo ship would have the same requirements as their other warships: they'd be designed to outfight or outrun enemies. They'd either use obsolescent battleships with cargo modules attached - it might make a slow ship slower, but who cares when you're armed to the teeth and have armor 9? They could probably get veterans to crew such a ship. Either that or their cargo ships would be fast - faster than their warships. Even with minimal guns and armor, crews could depend on being able to flee from enemies. It also means that the boring trips are over quickly, at least so crews could get into the mindset of "well this is bad but at least it'll be over soon."
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Last edited by epicenter00; March 18th, 2013 at 03:54 PM.. Reason: posting early in the morning typos
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Old March 18th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by epicenter00 View Post
Non-Tantalum Stutterwarp Coils.

2300's always had a hard sci-fi feel unlike Traveller. So, if you go with the canon universe and assume for whatever reason that Stutterwarp is rare and Tantalum is super-expensive (come on, it's not that rare, even on Earth, but whatever) ... then humans will do something else. It's called: Look for alternatives.

Now, since this is hard sci-fi, I refuse to believe that there is some magical unobtanium quality to Tantalum that makes it the only substance in the universe that can make Stutterwarp coils. That kind of thing rarely happens in real-life. What Tantalum is in 2300 is probably the optimal material to make Stutterwarp coils from. In this case, it probably has the best ability to hold a charge, allowing for the longest distance traveled (7.7ly in the current age of the game).

However, there must be materials that are not as good as Tantalum but still let you get the benefits of Stutterwarp. We'll say, for instance, there's a number of metals or alloys of metals that contain no Tantalum that can create Stutterwarp coils.

Many of these alternatives will be unusable. Some will be more expensive than Tantalum is due to rarity, yet have inferior performance so we won't consider them. Some will be outright hazardous to use, their coil saturation points (and therefore their dangerous decay cascades) will occur at unpredictable points. There's all sorts of other factors we can't consider, such as ones that can't handle that much mass or something else. These aren't discussed with Stutterwarp because 2300 is a game and not a physics of the future textbook. We'll throw all those out, too.

However, there is likely to be at least one substance (element or compound) that doesn't contain Tantalum that has the same smooth predictability of Tantalum coils, but at some drawback. We'll say it doesn't have the range of Tantalum coil (ie; it just doesn't hold the charge as well).

We have a BIG winner at this point.

We'll say that there's a material that can is less expensive than Tantalum (because it's more common) but produces coils that only have a range of about 1ly before requiring discharge. This is a revolution in Stutterwarp coils.

Suddenly, a lot of the short-range applications don't require Stutterwarp: commercial hulls that ply intra-system routes (say, like trans-Uranus to Earth) don't require Tantalum coils. Missiles no longer require Tantalum either. The low habitability, short-mission fighter types don't require Tantalum anymore, either. SDBs, too. Someone who just wants the 2300 equivalent of a pleasure sailboat could use this stuff, too.

Long-term it probably means a drop in prices of Tantalum as a lot of uses of Tantalum can now be substituted by the new substance.

Short-term, there's opportunity for players. A few hulls are probably going to open up as operators see this as a perfect opportunity to overhaul and replace some of their fleets and replace their current Stutterwarp drives with the new coils while they're at it, making Tantalum coils or entire ships available second-hand. Militaries will probably scrap a lot of their missile and fighters, citing bloc obsolescence, making Stutterwarp coils available again. Manufacturers could make new ships with the freed up coils, making them available to players.
I really like this approach. It could be even several such elements that allow for different ranges, so allowing for shorter range ships that could cover short range trips, leving the Tantalum for those needing longer ranges (mostly military).

Other problems for those non Tantalum coils could be longer discharge time, shorter life (they have to be replaced every, let's say, 2 years), etc...

And just a point here about your reference to SDB: I guess most (ir not all) 2300 players are to some extent "tainted" by Traveller, but SDBs in 2300 are interstellar ships, not just interplanetary ones as in Traveller (ask the Avenger crew ), htoug I must admit if those shorter range coils are used that may vary, and then the Exeter must be rerated, as would no longer be an SDB.

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Originally Posted by epicenter00 View Post
I could understand there not being privateering in 2300's space. I'm aware that there's this "pirate meme" amongst people for whatever reason that makes piracy and pirates really "cool" to people, so they try and introduce into any game with ships, but 2300 seems to be a universe that might just be too small and high-tech to allow pirates.

On the other hand, I do remember rules on how to handle privateering in the back of the Invasion supplement - privateering during the Kafer war might work, though it seems sort of madness. They really needed to give the Kafers more ship types and I always thought that by psychology, Kafer "freighters" would not the Oscars given in the back of the book*.
Even so, piracy exists in 2300, and there are several articles in Challenge about the issue (e.g Catch and Carry team, in Challenge 45)

Quote:
Originally Posted by epicenter00 View Post
* Pet Peeve, so feel free to skip it: This probably should go into my old "Kafer reboot" threads but I always thought that Kafers, by nature, would not have freighters as we envision them. For one thing, due to Kafer psychology, they would have pirates and privateers, especially pirates so they'd have to arm up their freighters. But also, merchant hulls amongst humans tend to be dedicated-built to be inexpensive as possible, haul lots of cargo, and due to laws, tend to have minimal to no weaponry - and that's what a Kafer Oscar looks like. Except freighter duty would be really boring to Kafers - endlessly shuttling supplies around in a slow ship, essentially unarmed ship that must run from any attack? That's a recipe for a frequent mutinies within your ship. The chok'aav couldn't keep order on such boring ships. So it seems more likely that you'd get calmer, more experienced Kafers to crew such a vessel. But those Kafers are the smarter Kafers who'd balk at being forced to crew ship with a slow, paper-thin hulled ship with practically no weapons. Kafers seem really bad at doing convoy work as well, so they wouldn't have any warship guardians.

By Kafer psychology, being weak is literally an invitation to the entire universe to come pick on you. That's an Oscar. I just find it inconceivable the Kafers, by their own psychology, would make such a ship. A Kafer cargo ship would have the same reqirements as their other warships: they'd be designed to outfight or outrun enemies. They'd either use obsolescent battleships with cargo modules attached - it might make a slow ship slower, but who cares when you're armed to the teeth and have armor 9? They could probably get veterans to crew such a ship. Either that or their cargo ships would be fast - faster than their warships. Even with minimal guns and armor, crews could depend on being able to flee from enemies. It also means that the boring trips are over quickly, at least so crews could get into the mindset of "well this is bad but at least it'll be over soon."
Interesting Idea, something to think about...
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Old March 18th, 2013, 03:47 PM
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And just a point here about your reference to SDB: I guess most (ir not all) 2300 players are to some extent "tainted" by Traveller, but SDBs in 2300 are interstellar ships, not just interplanetary ones as in Traveller (ask the Avenger crew ), htoug I must admit if those shorter range coils are used that may vary, and then the Exeter must be rerated, as would no longer be an SDB.
SDBs are indeed interstellar ships in 2300, but that's because the alternative is to be a ship that is so slow that it is motionless in space combat. If you want to maneuver space combat, you have to be a starship by default since Stutterwarp combines the roles of both maneuver drive and Jump drive. A SIM-14 or a Ritage-2 is also an interstellar starship in 2300 - the Stutterwarp can take these things 7.7ly. They may lack the fuel and there's no way to really guide them out that far, but by their coils, they could go 7.7ly.

Of course, an Exeter also appears to have sufficient consumables for longer duration voyages, probably originally intended because customs patrols or whatever might take them out on cruises that last a week or a month, even if they never leave the system. But the intention is that they "defend a system."

And yeah, I've always thought of an Exeter more like a modern Coast Guard cutter type vessel. It's essentially a lightly armed warship with a more friendly name than "light cruiser."

If they had these "short range" Stutterwarps, then you could have true "system defense boats" - they don't have the range to hit the next system.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 09:54 AM
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Default Alternate Stutterwarp Materials

I've been thinking along these lines as well. Looking at the periodic table, and not considering isotopes with short half lives, etc., we find the column that includes tantalum. The following elements are there:

Vanadium
Niobium
Tantalum
Dubnium
Praseodymium
Protactinium

Protactinium is extremely rare, radioactive and highly toxic. Dubnium is a synthetic element, radioactive, extremely expensive and rare. Praseodymium is 5 times more common than Tantalum, Niobium is 10 times, Vanadium is 70 times, but most of it goes into steel production. Praseodymium is used in rare earth magnets.

So lets say Niobium is the more common alternate, followed by some Vanadium then Praseodymium. Ranges vary according to atomic weight.

How about the following:

Element Range
V 2.4 ly
Ni 4.3 ly
Ta 7.7 ly
Pr 6.2 ly

Thoughts?
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