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StarMerc Competition - Missions


SOC-14 1K
It looks like the time for another competition. I've had a thought about an extended deckplan contest for that most useful plot element in any game - Star Mercs.

The defining feature of a Star Merc formation is the fact that the Unit has its own wheels. So the task will be to design a mercenary company and appropriate vessels. The limitation will either be 1000dTon of starships or one gigacredit or possibly both. That should be enough to feild a sizable force which will need to be carried in entirety onboard the vessels designed. The limitations aren't decided on yet, but are probably alone the lines of the above.

To start with however we need to come up with some goal criteria. I was thinking a list of missions that a starmerc company might be hired for, specifically a set of missions to be thrashed out here.

A simple outline of what may be a good start:

A name so we know what to refer too.

A brief rundown on what may be required

Selection Criteria
A list of what the company needs to fulfil the minimum criteria, as well as what may be considered beneficial

For example using the Bryans previous merc competition:

Insurgency Support
A state on a balkanized world is having problems with an unpopular monarch. Currently a police state with the ruler being particularily unpleasant. There is a potential alternative noble to take the place of the current ruler, this alternative is believed to have widespread popular support. A group of merchantile concerns is willing to underwright an undertaking to arrange this change of the head of state. Initial mission pays quite well, with expected continuing employment if successful. State is of only moderate technology level (TAS rating 6) but with imported weaponry for palace guard. As both factions support continued imperial membership the Imperium is unlikely to interfere.

Selection Criteria
  • Moderate ground forces required</font>
  • Extensive ground forces (bonus)</font>
  • Space weaponry use limited due to the balkanized status of the planet</font>
  • Jump 2 is needed as the place is a backwater. Jump 3 and 4 considered beneficial.</font>
  • Air is breathable. No special life support requirements.</font>
  • Simple suplies (food + water and simple devices) provided at destination. Higher TL devices must have their own spares or will quickly become nonworking.</font>
  • Additional small arms may be useful (bonus)</font>
  • Militia Liason specialists (bonus)</font>
Just a bump. I'm interested. Busy, but interested
If I could arrange an unbusy time coincidental to the contest I'm in. In fact I can probably integrate some of my unfinished Merc stuff from Bryan's contest and save a little work. The outfit was more a Have Guns will Travel than Have Ships will Fight Company but some of the stuff will translate. Call it a Corporate Makeover ;)

The 1000tons and 1GCr sounds good. That's for all materiel I guess, not just the ship elements?

The rest of the stuff sounds good. Stick to setting it in The Gateway with the same background I'd say. Use a format similar to the previous.

So who else is up for some Contract Work?
I'm not understanding something here.
1TCr=1,000,000,000,000Cr (?)
1GCr=1,000,000,000,000,000Cr (?)
Is that right?

I think that you need to define the size of the required force needed for the merc tickets first. Are the merc tickets going to be for an infantry (foot) platoon sized force (about 30-50 men) or an armor(mounted) platoon sized force (about 15-25 men and about five AFV's) or what?

Shouldn't the size of the required force necessary for the ticket have a greater determination on the size of the starship. If the merc tickets are for an infantry (foot) company sized units (100-150 men) that's going to be difficult to fit inside a 1000 dton ship (not impossible but it will put limits on crew comfort and cargo capacity (for vehicles if any) IMO).

I also question the perceived "benefit" (judgement bonus?) of having a ship capable of jump 3/4 over one with jump 2 considering that the number of systems in the Imperium which can only be reached via jump 3/4 is pretty small.

I'm interested but would like more information.
Nope, Giga (G) is 10 to the 9th (or Billion in another word).

As to force size I thought I saw Company mentioned, or about 127-452 soldiers (by LBB4). What type of force would be up to the backers (i.e. participants) and the market (i.e. judge and contest ideas).

I've already run into a problem
I think I was needing something like 1200-1600 tons of ships for my old Company iirc. I think I could do it for the GCr budget, but for J2 minimum I need more hull to haul them than a mere 1000 tons. If I want J3 or J4 you can probably figure 2-3Ktons and a like bump in the budget.

Yep, this is still (I think) in the very early design/concept stage and veltyen is looking for the level of interest and what it should involve.

I also see Star Mercs a bit differently I think. When I think SMs I don't think GroPos with transport, I think Space Troops and fighting ships. Missions being mostly escort and capture of other ships.

GroPos with transport could be cool though. I just wouldn't call them Star Mercs.

Also for better game usability I'd like to see it set up to create a smaller unit. Perhaps a fledgling unit. Section to Platoon size (20-40 soldiers) and a single small ship (no more than 1000tons). Most useful would perhaps be limiting it to a version of the Mercenary Cruiser. 800tons, J3 3G, TL14 Max (though part of me wants to say TL12 Max), and no budget. You decide if you think you can make money on tickets to pay for her and your goons
I also think such (and most) Imperial Mercenary Charter companies are structured more like a Subsidized ship. So you don't have to worry so much about the bills, you do what your bosses say and when they don't have a job for you, well you freelance (but be ready to drop it if you are needed, i.e. no long term tickets or far postings/escorts).

This size of unit and type of ship would I think be most useful to referees for a lot of reasons. More so than a larger force where the PCs are just a small cog in the machine (unless they are the officers of the machine, then... )
Goal criteria. Trouble with hashing that out in the open is it takes all the fun out of creating a working model of the outfit. Unless perhaps the idea is that a call is made for a specific type of outfit/mission and the competition is to fill the bill with the most profitable model. This could work with my idea that Mercs are government backed and subsidized.

Then of course the actual forces will be put on the duty in a competition to see which is actually the best and they get the contract. The rest, get nothing
And naturally the ideals of the mission are seldom (read never) the reality of the deal once the forces are engaged. Which will be the fun part of the judging and testing.

Anyway just a few thoughts.
1 GCr = 1000 MCr = 1,000,000 KCr = 1,000,000,000 Cr in this case (Think gigabyte vs megabyte).

You can quite easily put a minimally equiped company (~ 120 infantry combatants) on a thousand dTon of vessels. You'd want a lot of low berths for any great distance travelled though. A quarter of a stateroom and a dTon of kit per combatant isn't a lot. With a low jump ship conceivably you could have close to double or triple that.

J3/J4 was for getting to the destination faster rather then not being able to get there at all. This is something of a consideration for a merc company that may only get paid for "time on ground". If you are heading off for a new engagement, and can get there a couple of months earlier due to your better drives it makes you much more attractive then the next company. Of course you'll probably need to charge more (for the more expensive ship) and you will have less ground combatants.

The extra jump doesn't matter as much if the ticket is close by, where there may only be a fortnight difference between a J2 and a J4 vessels transit time.

The idea was to have a selection of target missions. If you want to design a space asset heavy force (A platoon in battledress with associated APC's, multiple spacefighter craft, a high jump high sensors transport vessel) or a infantry ground control force (A full brigade of infantry with minimal mechanised support, basic low jump troop/cargo carrying vessel, no armed space assets) both would be applicable in some cases. Both designs should have some missions that they win hands down with.

Personally I saw the limitation generally coming down to a company or so. But both more and less are applicable.

The money should not be a problem, in this case a GCr should be pretty hard to completely spend up. Possible given the costs of meson artillery pieces, but still quite hard to do.

Anyway another mission for consideration:

Magnificent Seventy
A small but prosperous belter community is having problems with alien piracy. Specifically the resupply transports and the outgoing ore transports are being hit enough to significantly reduce profits. The Navy has been called in at least once but for whatever reason has been unable to help. The miners wish to engage the services of a StarMerc company to find and preferably inconveinience the pirates. Full salvage has been granted by the systems authorities (the mayor) as well as additional significant payment. The pirates are suspected to have a base either in-system or in a nearby system. [/B]

Selection Criteria
  • Company must be able to operate in vacuum and micro-G</font>
  • Supplies curtailed in system, some repairs and lifesupport may be available for sale.</font>
  • Space combat worthy vessels required</font>
  • Ability to find and outmaneveur pirates required.</font>
  • Ground forces capable of entering and clearing installations and boarding pirate vessels (bonus)</font>

Originally I had the idea of limiting the competition to just the broadsword class merc cruiser. I decided that was a little on the restrictive side. I was going to allow standard designs the standard design discount however, meaning the broadsword is a very tempting vessel.

I was going to a TL restriction of my own devising. Specifically the TL available to the merc company depends on how closely they are willing for the Imperial Auditors office to crawl up their nose.

TL11 (and below): Must be registered with the Imperial Auditor (OIA). No actual audit required.
TL12: Must submit a yearly listing of equipment to the auditors office. Subject to occasional spot checks.
Tl13: Yearly Audit. Regular liason with the office of the Imperial Audit. (This could be considered the "normal" level).
TL14: Assigned liasion officer from the OIA permanently on station, costs to be paid by the company. OIA has veto on missions taken.
TL15: As TL14, but missions not directly working for Imperial nobles or Imperial Forces will be veto'ed out of hand.

It is probably easiest to just state that Merc's are limited to TL13.

Lastly the idea with the goal criteria was to have contradictory goals. No company should be able to excel at all of the missions.
Sounding good so far. Thanks for the added notes. I like the auditing angle but simple works too

Hmm, quick question. Taking a stock design at the discount sounds tempting. How much to "modify" her?

I'm thinking anything and everything, like:

1) Simple stuff like actually sticking turrets and guns on the hardpoints.

2) Easy stuff like swapping internal soft components (i.e. staterooms, lowberths, etc.) for other soft components (i.e. sickbays, autodocs, etc.), or adding collapsible fuel bladders.

3) Mild stuff like upgrading the computer components or adding hard fuel tankage.

4) Hard stuff like increasing the powerplant (or a same size swap for higher TL, might be easier) or jump drive.

Or is that more detail then you want to go to? Just buy it off the shelf or custom build is a fair choice.

Can we buy used? ;) (you know for more discouts, and all the fun that comes from buying someone else's maintenance nightmare

Or maybe I'm just looking for too much in the way of detailing interest :D
I'm not quite sure how much to allow "stock" designs to be modified while still remaining "stock". While it would be a pain to do I'm thinking that buying the non-stock items at full price is probably fair. No return value on the used items, less you save money by upgrading the power plant. Remember I'm also looking for deckplans, there are already some fairly good deckplans for the broadsword out there, which does make design somewhat easier. In other words anything up to 4, but any extra cash is quickly washed away dependant on the modifications.

Maintenance and age are other things I would like to discuss rather then just decide. The budgetary accountant in me was thinking about more logical ways to lay out asset expenditure rather then just buy and pray, but that may have some resistance. Specifically I was thinking of a continuing model where everything is determined by a "years" worth. A years worth of salary, a years worth of ship, a years worth of small arms and so on. For that I would need to come up with some figures for expected useful lifespan of .. well pretty much everything. Ships are easy (40 years give or take), though if you don't mind having shitty maintenance nightmare ships you could extend that term out to 50 or 60 years. Combat vehicles would need replacing on a quick cycle due to ... well being shot at tends to remove the "New Tank Warranty" pretty quickly. Non combat vehicles and other equipment are a bit more of a quandry. While modern rifles last a very long time even with moderate use, how long exactly do laser crystals last before you need to replace the weapon?

It is tempting to just ask anyone to come up with "reasonable assumptions" about these issues. Especially if High Guard, GT, CT, T20 and MT designs are allowed. For the moment I am thinking T20 only pretty closely just for the shared reference, and while I have access to most of the others I am less familiar with them, but I am willing to entertain alternative options.
Yeah, I'm thinking now that 1 and 2 might be the limiting factor. Able to add or change soft internal features within the volume already built or the cargo volume. So you can put weapons on hardpoints, change stateroom and lowberth numbers with like features, and assign cargo volume to pretty much any soft features, all at full cost of course (no discount) and no rebate on features tossed out. Anything more and the shipyard will tell you it's just as cheap and easy to build new. And safer ;) ("You want to put another power plant in? IN PLACE OF THE PASSENGER STATEROOMS!" :D )
As to the maintenance and age questions I would have thought a shorter term to replace a warship but Adventure 1 has several Kinunir still in service after 30 years. Wandering off track a bit (per your "reasonable assumptions" suggestion...

I think imtu for T20 I'd look at rating lifespan to maintenance and usage tied to depreciation.

All ships are depreciated 10% upon delivery.

Battle use requires triple maintenance costs and incurs a 3% depreciation per year.

Hard use (minor fights, typical Mercenary use) requires 1.5 times maintenance costs and incurs a 1.5% depreciation per year.

Poor maintenance (no routine maintenance) requires standard maintenance costs and incurs a 1% depreciation per year.

Good maintenance (routine maintenance) requires half the standard maintenance costs and incurs a 0.5% depreciation per year.

The Battle use and Hard use are for Good maintenance standards, double the effects is maintenance is Poor.

The Poor and Good maintenance apply to routine ship use, private or commercial.

So a typical Navy ship is likely decommissioned after 30 years but could see a longer life in peacetime, closer to 60 years.

Normal Mercenary ships will be in service for 60 years before being pretty much devalued.

Commercial and private ships could have a valued life of 90 to 180 years depending of maintenance.

What's this mean for PCs and the contest? Well I can see IN policy being to replace ships every 30 years and Mercenary Corporations picking up the decommissioned ships with a 55% discount of the full new cost (not the discounted sale price) and still having 30 years of useful life in Mercenary service. Or a Merchant Corporation or private individual might pick one up at the same discount and be able to use it much longer, another 60 to 150 years depending on maintenance practices.

Anyway, just killed some time over lunch
Probably too much detail for the contest :D
The simple solution might be make Ships and Small Craft a 40 year deal and Vehicles and Weapons a 4 year deal. And require an ammo replacement program of 1000 magazines per year for practice (with a powerpack rated for 1000 recharge cycles, so annual replacement).
Hmm, or maybe 250 magazines a year would be enough? And still go with 1000 recharge cycles on powerpacks so they get replaced when the weapon itself is in need of replacement? Yeah, I like that better I think. And put personal armor in the same 4 year replacement (still good if it hasn't been shot up but cycled out for other reasons). Surplus Assests will have used and shelf lifed weapons and armor that are still functional but needing more maintenance than the regualar forces want to invest in them. Good deals for small Mercenary outfits and personal protection nuts ;)
For small arms used in training it would depend on what kind of training you were doing. Virtual tactical training (using computer moderated virtual environments) cuts into the amount of ammo required, though live fire would also be definitely required for the overall training regime to make much sense at all.

As for ship life span the idea of an increasing maintenance cost is a tempting one. Not so much related to this competition, but in general. Under T20 the maintenance cost is 0.075% (3/4000) of the original purchase price per year assuming a full maintenance regime. If that is tweaked to 0.075% * the decade of age of the vessel (new to 10 years old equals 1, 10-20 years equals 2 and so on) with a reset option of a complete refit (new drives, powerplant, fittings) to bring maintenance back to the starting value. This would mean a 100 year old ship that hadn't been refitted would require an enourmous amount of maintenance to keep running (about 4 MCr/year for a merc cruiser), but it probably would be quite cheap to buy. OK, that was a bit off topic.

The thoughts I'd had were more along the lines of
Transport vessels (40)
Moderate combat vessels (20) (transports that occasionally supply ortillery)
Active combat vessels (10) (ground attack fighters)

Light armored front line vehicles (2)
Heavy armored front line vehicles (5)
Support vehicles (10)
High Value target vehicles (5) (artillery, command and control vehicles)

Major infrastructure (10) (Powerplants, fuel refining)
Personel equipment (5)

I am also trying to take into account how often these items would be targetted/destroyed in the feild. Hence the reason some of the terms may seem a little low.

Colony Investigation
A megacorp has lost communication with a terraforming colony. There is suspected external factors for the colony no longer responding, for example xenomorphs or invasion. The megacorp requires the services of a StarMerc company to escort several personel and a small amount of equipment to examine the colony to determine what has gone wrong. If compromised the colony settlement will need to be cleansed of comtamination or destroyed. Rescue of civilian workers also considered an advantage.

Selection Criteria
  • Ability to repair communications systems</font>
  • Bonus for rapid response (> J1)</font>
  • Spare transport capacity to carry the corporate team required</font>
  • Ability to deal with any eventuality highly recommended</font>
  • Ability to evacuate moderate numbers of civilians (bonus)</font>