View Full Version : [MUSH] Spacecraft systems and tropes

2011-06-22, 12:53 PM
Hey there, I'm Wik, and I run a real-time sci-fi text-based roleplaying game. We're finishing up the final touches on a custom cinematic space system, with characters able to own (and customize) their own ships with a variety of roles, fly from place to place, and explore for new planets and resources. This was created in response to player reaction to a very realistic and video game-like space system that we had, which, while cool for those who liked fast-paced video games, was an extremely poor fit for a game focused on roleplay, for four reasons.
1. You can’t effectively type out what your character is doing when you know that you have to hit the retro thrusters in about thirty seconds from now, lest you pass the planet and have to spend another ten minutes turning around to make another pass.
2. It was an open system, allowing GMs to upgrade something that was originally like the Millennium Falcon, to be as powerful as a star destroyer. This created huge disparities amongst player ships and led to a lot of bad blood, as some people (rightly) felt that difficulty levels of bad guys were being tailored to ship’s crews that had a GM’s favor, and thus the non-favored ships couldn’t participate due to lack of stats.
3. Battle effectiveness was often based on the player’s hand-eye coordination, and had no basis in the character’s abilities.
4. System levels were based on real-world physics stats, and each system had like ten stats, which was extremely unintuitive for people who weren’t advanced math nerds.

Hence, CSpace was born: with a room-based space grid, easy, intuitive, one-command travel from Planet A to Planet B (so you can rp on the way without stress, or go get a sandwich during the ten minute ride), the ability to pit one character’s stats against another, and above all, a closed, somewhat simple point-buy system for the creation of ships. We’re coming to the point where we’re going to have to crystallize the point values of various ship systems, such that everybody feels like they’re awesome at their own thing, but don’t feel like the system is unbalanced or biased for a player or build.

Now, I can’t expect you guys to say that a small ship with 2 points in shields, 4 in engines, and 2 in sensors is even to….whatever. You don’t have enough information, and you’d have to play my game to get an understanding of what’s useful in our setting and what isn’t. What I’m looking for is for suggestions for spaceship systems (like sensors, cloaking device, automated repair suite, etc) that can be used to fulfill as many cinematic spaceship tropes as possible within a closed point-buy system. The end product should be a really accessible, easy-to-understand list of systems that players can choose from in various levels that allow them to be awesome in one of as many different ways as possible.

Here’s a baseline of your starting assumptions:
1. Systems range from 1 point to 10 points, and each size of ship has its own number of points to spend, with small ships having a small number, and large ships having a large number.
2. Base stats are as follows: Engine(in-system speed), Thrusters (maneuverability), FTL(ftl speed), Sensors (ability to see into other sectors for ships, planets, etc, and pierce nebulae and other sensor-jamming stuff), Shields (damage reduction) Hull (hp), Weapons.

Here’s an example of what I’m looking for:

Interdictor - A static system that pulls everyone in the area out of FTL, and disallows them from reentering it.
A low level Interdictor could be used by planetary flight controls to prevent ships from going into FTL within a certain radius of the planet, or could be used by pirates along shiplanes to pull in small ships to pillage. A high level Interdictor could be used like in the Star Wars movies, as a form of battlefield control.

In that example, I managed to fit three tropes/uses into the addition of just one system. If you can think of ten tropes out of two systems, all the power to you.

Have at it!

2011-06-22, 12:55 PM
Wik? Otherspace Wik?

2011-06-22, 04:29 PM
Yup, it's me, Zab. Did you have any ideas to contribute?

2011-06-22, 04:53 PM
Yup, it's me, Zab. Did you have any ideas to contribute?

I've really not logged on there in ages. And, well... I've not had any good sci fi ideas in a while.

Cool to see you here, though.

2011-06-23, 11:11 AM
We have quite a few more players than when you were on last, and have a bunch of motivated coders, so we're getting a lot done. Good to see you as well.

Anybody else have any ideas?
Here's a resource to look at for the tropes themselves: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Spacecraft

I'm just looking at having the potential for as many of those as possible, utilizing the fewest number of systems.

2011-06-23, 10:25 PM
I think philosophically you need to be careful how many different functions you saddle on. Subsystems are cool when you're looking for additional content, but too many and your game will be just as complex as you started. i.e. while you have a one button travel between planet A to planet B, once you have things like the interdictor, it means that people have to start accounting for it's existence and plan accordingly. That might necessitate to just as much work as before. I like the concept, but it needs to be carefully monitored. Preferably, a lot of the stuff that is added would be best if they were stuff the players don't need to manage.

Anyway, OT:

Ship flight service droids
These guys can be pre-assigned to perform several tasks.

- repair ship
- adjust ship performance outputs on the fly
- adjust ship shields

so basically, these guys are like all purpose droids (like say, R2D2) who can do a little bit of everything. However, they are not as fast or as efficient as a part dedicated to it. So you can't just staff a ship full of these guys and be okay if you want to actually perform well. Generally, you use these guys to help round out an area that you don't feel is crucial but is still necessary.

A droid that can be pre-assigned to prioritize on certain tasks, and will do so whenever the need arises. But also if need be they can be directed to perform these tasks manually.

Hull Breach Protocol Unit
Whenever you have a critical hull breach somewhere, the HBPU will kick in and create an energy shield to seal off the breach so as to lessen radiation exposure and oxygen loss.

The HBPU has limitations though:
- it is an emergency unit, as such it needs to be charged or take up some exist power output. (I guess that really depends on how your game handles energy output)
- it is not as energy efficient as proper hulls, and probably does not last long. So, you can't really make a trip out of it all the time. The best you can do with this is to hobble to the nearest port and do proper repairs.
- it is shielding dedicated to maintaining the livable conditions of the ship, not to protect it against weapon fire

Pyrrhic Unit
While not federally approved (or by whatever authority that exists in your game), this is a highly popular unit among pirates and bounty hunters. The Pyrrhic Unit allows you to push your weapon systems beyond it's limit, at the cost of your weapon system longevity and energy storage. The Pyrrhic unit only works with energy based weapons. The Pyrrhic unit, like many of the units listed here, tends to be highly inefficient on energy usage.

Many pirate fighter ships tend to combine this with EMP weaponry to disable capital ships that are preyed upon, and then the pirate motherships would collect the fighters that are incapacitated in the assault.

2011-06-23, 11:30 PM
Just stating the obvious, D20 Future and D20 Future Tech both have entire sections devoted to starship creation, and those have a lot of really good ideas.


Gravitic Redirector

This engine system uses contained magnetic fields to produce a microscopic black hole in front of the spaceship, creating a gravitational pull in the direction that is desired.

2011-06-24, 12:31 AM
Waldo Manipulators
A number of arm like servos attached to the outer hull. Mostly used in large scale construction or salvage. Ships with these so call “grapplers” are popular among pirate fleets. Some extravagant pirates are known to build custom weapons (giant sized pistols and blades) for their grapplers to manipulate.

Molecular Forge
A massive contained ecosystem of micro-machines, this feature allows the ship to replace virtually any damaged system and even restock failing supplies of breathable air and drinkable water. Visible on the outer hull is a hatch that can be opened to take in space debris to feed the forge.

Deflector Array
Handy for negating both weaponized and naturally occurring dangerous fast moving space debris. These systems are legendary for their almost supernatural versatility. A clever engineer can solve almost any problem imaginable by rerouting the right system through it! Somehow…

Decoy Buoys
Fired from the missile tube, these ingenious sensor bafflers give the illusion your ship is flying in several directions simultaneously.

Camouflage Field
For those without the means to purchase true invisibility, why not disguise yourself as an asteroid? And if that’s to expensive, you can place the emitters intermittently, cut all power, and project the illusion of irreparable damage. Classic pirate hunter’s bait.

High-end Sensor Package
Mostly for exploratory science vessels as they can take up a lot of space, but also great for making sure any hidden enemy gimmicks don’t catch you by surprise.

Originally intend as a way to quickly moor a ship to a massive asteroid, these too have fallen into heavy pirate use as a way to close the distance for a boarding.

Forced Entry Airlock
Home to a thousand phallic nicknames, this feature amounts to an airlock inside a massive drill. Essential for any military or pirate craft that intends to launch boarding parties.

…and that’s all I can think of for now.

2011-06-24, 03:48 PM
Elliott: I agree with you about not adding too many other systems. That's why I'm trying to get the most bang out of the fewest number of additional systems. I really enjoy your ideas, thanks!

Immonen: Yeah, I've stripped all I could out of d20 Future, but haven't managed to get my hands on d20 Future Tech yet, as nobody I know has it, and I'm broke.

DoomHat: Very cool! I especially like the Waldo manipulators, since they seem to have a pretty broad variety of uses in many different walks of life.

Any other ideas?

2011-06-24, 04:40 PM
Carduus, give me your e-mail, I'll type up everything I can find in the starship chapter and send it to you.

2011-06-24, 08:06 PM
Thanks! I've PM'ed you my address.

2011-06-25, 04:01 PM
Anybody else have any ideas?

2011-06-25, 09:49 PM
My last post got eaten up by the browser. But I had a couple more. These are more for SCHMUP-y game play though.

Wave Particle Module
Choose an energy weapon to attach it to. That weapon now shoots in wavelike motion, increasing it's potential area of effect. (making it a wave gun) combining it with the pyrrhic unit makes the width of the waves even longer. Gravitation Redirector can make the waves clump closer together. As all energy modules, this one will increase your energy consumption.

more later.

2011-06-26, 01:20 AM
Proximity Warhead (you'll need a better name, of course)
This warhead modifies a particular missile weapon, making it's explosion have larger splash damage range. However, the modification lowers the damage potential of the weapon. It also makes volleys easier to stop as a single proximity warhead explosion can end up triggering a whole volley of closely clustered together proximity warheads.

Nanobot Missile
This warhead is loaded with nanobots with a single mission: to dismantle all metallic parts it comes in contact with. A ship that takes a direct hit on the hull with this weapon will start seeing it's hull slowly eaten away by the nanobot over time. (think of it like acid damage in D&D) Mixing this with the proximity warhead lowers the erosion damage. Also, these warheads do not work against a force field / energy shields. In addition, these nanobots do not distinguish between friend and foe, and is capable of eroding friendly ships too.

Energy Shield Projection device
This modification allows you to change the shape of your energy shield.

2011-07-14, 03:45 PM
These are some really creative ideas. Is there any way to pack more (and different) space-tropes into them, though? I'd like the fewest number of extra/optional systems I can get away with.

2011-07-14, 04:04 PM
well, a lot of these might not even be applicable to your game, since some of them are really dependent upon what is the game play design. i.e. if combat is not schmup like, and you're not really using battle grids for combat, the wave particle module will be pointless as it only modifies things visually. (As opposed to materially, since in schmups, control of space is king)

Having said that, let's also not forget that a lot of the stuff being suggested here are at different power/tech levels. Doomhat's suggestion of a molecular forge is SOO much better than 90% of the stuff I suggested. If that thing were in the game along with all the other stuff we suggested, most players would pick up the molecular forge in a heartbeat since it does so many more things.

So really, you could just pick and choose and cut out the stuff that don't really make sense for the game play.

As for merging, I can see some stuff get merged together. i.e .the deflector array can be merged with the shield projection, Pyrrhic unit might just be a standard part of the stat crunch where past a certain point to get more performance out of your weapons you have put in exponential amount of energy, decoy buoys might be a standard package with any ship that has missiles equipped, Hull Breach Protocol might be merged with any hull fixing upgrade since it's basically a last ditch life saving device, and so on.

But for the most part, a lot of the suggestions I see here each serve a different functional area of a space ship, and so merging some of these might not make any sense.

One way of handling this is to make the upgrades all go in tiers, so as to reduce the number of options available at a given time, rather than reduce the number of TOTAL options available.