• Welcome to the new COTI server. We've moved the Citizens to a new server. Please let us know in the COTI Website issue forum if you find any problems.

Alternate armors

Its a big Imperium and there are all sorts of tech levels and ship designs and doctrines on how to go about space travel and warfare. I was thinking about the alternate forms of armor a warship might have. The first two that comes to mind are on opposite ends of the tech spectrum but no less effective...and in fact moreso than standard armors.

The low tech is a method Larry Niven would have in some of his known space books. The warship has on it's front a vast block of ice...farmed from comets or asteroids or some such....acting as a huge plate of ablat.

The high-tech is something we did to combat armor/battledress in an old campaign but I see no reason why it couldn't be done to ship hulls: Polish or add a layer to the ship armor to bring it up to Reflec standards. Would give a major boost to laser defenses.

Any thoughts or examples of other nonstandard armors that you've heard of or used?
[I mentioned this in response to another topic months ago, but as I'm too lazy to go hunt for it, I'll post the gist of it here.]

For years in my outer space games (Space Opera, GURPS, and BESM in addition to Traveller), I've used a technology I referred to as "Electrobond Armor". Seems that some bright fellow found out that certain metallic substances could have their crystalline structure strengthened by applying a suitable form and amount of energy (electric current, magnetic field, etc.). I used this as a seemingly more plausible alternative to Star Trek/Star Wars -style deflector shields.

I came up with this years before Capt. Archer ever ordered Lt. Reed to "polarize the hull plating", and I'm sure that somebody else thought of it years before me. Use only in campaigns where a certain amount of technical/scientific handwaving is allowed above and beyond FTL drive.
Traveller calls this "bonded superdense," and has been using it as high-tech armor since 1981 or so.

Now, the "superdense" upon which it is based has some pretty flaky properties. It requires the use of controlled gravitic fields in its production, but no power or devices to maintain.
Traveller's superdense armor is approximately the same as H. Beam Piper's collapsium, which dates from the mid-50s or so. Whether it makes sense or not I suppose depends on what the properties of white-dwarf star material are like after you remove it from the star: do the atoms bounce back to normal, or not?

Just to make clear, what I had in mind for my Electrobond Armor is along the lines of the "Electrodynamic Synthetics" on that link that Thrash posted: hard and tough when the juice is turned off, harder and tougher when the juice is turned on. I vaguely remember "bonded superdense" from the first edition of STRIKER. Did it require power for full effectiveness?

RE "collapsium": I've never read any Piper, but collapsium is what starship hull armor is made from in the SPACE OPERA rpg. They describe collapsium as an allotropic form of iron found in the center of planets and is usually only found in asteroid belts that used to be planets.
Page 4, STRIKER Book 3:

....Armor development is projected on several lines. Composite laminates are similar to the armor currently being produced for the the U.S. Abrams tank, among others. Crystaliron is iron grown with perfect crystal structure and carefully controlled quantities of impurities for maximum toughness and hardness. Superdense armor has had it's electron structure partially collapsed (as occurs to a much greater degree in white dwarf stars), increasing it's density and strength. Bonded superdense armor is the same material using advanced technology to channal a small power input into the armor's internal electronic bond, increasing it's strength even more.....

So....superdense and bonded superdense are similar to white dwarf material, but manmade, not mined and it seems that bonded superdense requires power, but without energy it's still superdense armor.
Natural white dwarf material is about 1 million to 10 million times the density of water. So one cubic meter would weigh up to 10 million tons.

The problem with white dwarf material is that it is held together by a gravity of thousands of gees, and cannot exist in the absence of that - the stuff has a lot of latent heat stored up from when it was a functioning start - 7000K or so - and would, in the absence of the heavy gravity, blow apart in a very big explosion.

Now, perhaps starship grav plates can generate extremely high gee loads in a small space, but the mass calculations on armour don't play out to suggest that armour - even bonded superdense - is collapsium, or what have you.

Take a Broadsword (and just call that whole thing a sphere) - it has about a 14 meter radius, so it's surface area is 2,420 square meters. Even if the armour were 1 mm thick, you'd still need 2.4 cubic meters of the stuff - or, say, 2.4 million tons worth. That would require rather a lot of reinforcement on the landing bad, don'tcha think?

To make it a reasonable 2400 tons it would need to be one micron thick. Not inconceivable, I suppose, one can work with micron sized material pretty easily these days, and I haven't a clue what the structural properties of collapsium are.

Now, I suppose you could say that the single micron layer of collapsium provides the bulk of the armour, and the steel/ceramic/unobtanium hull that we know and love is just a shell to hold the equipment - but the risk of a failure of the gravity system (and the energy required to operate it) is a bit too much to handle.

"Did that breaker work?"

"No Captain, try the yellow one."

"The big yellow one or the little yellow one?"

"Not the little yellow one its for the collapsi---"

* * *

For a brief moment, a child on the streets of Efate thought he saw a shooting star. "Mama, look!"

She saw nothing. There was nothing left.
Or, say, you filled carbonfiber nanotubes with, I dunno, depleted uranium, you could get something interesting.

Recall, also, Traveller canon suggests periodic elements in the 130s and 140s which are stable, if very very rare. So maybe you have an Cleonium-Ferride or a Uranium HexaHiroshium that has these properties.