Sift the Ashes

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Ship Design Basics

  • Guns and Defense slots are self-explanatory.
  • Aux slots are used for anything that is not Guns or Defenses.
  • Combat slots may be used for either Guns or Defenses.
  • Misc slots are your additional modules that can be used for any module type.
  • Some items may take more than one slot. If they do, it will be stated explicitly.
  • By design there is going to be a noticeable gap between size groups. A destroyer is not going to a small light cruiser and a treaty battleship is not a somewhat larger heavy cruiser. One big jump is going to be in passive defenses.

Ship Classes Escorts are the smallest type of conventional warship. They are used for low-intensity work, escorting larger, more valuable ships and as fast-attack craft. Escorts pay two slots per protection module. Escorts have a base jump range of 1.

Corvettes are unsurprisingly small and flimsy, though suicide sleds can carry a rather excessive amount of firepower for their price. [4 guns, 3 misc]

  • Destroyers (DD) are the archetypical 'escort', being well-armed and surprisingly flexible for such small hulls. They are large enough that they can carry some minor additional protection measures if desired, though more commonly they use other defenses. Destroyers are ubiquitous in most fleets, performing all the standard escort roles.

Destroyers are the epitome of the escort concept, being loaded with weapons and having high speed and evasion. Their weakness is shared with other escorts, namely that unless fitted with torpedoes or similar weapons, they will find it difficult to meaningfully fight larger classes of ships. [6 guns, 4 misc]

Monitors are specifically built for the purpose of attacking capital ships and especially fortifications with their single primary weapon. While they are an effective way to bring firepower to a fight, they are ultimately still escorts - they will never last long in a close range fight against capital ships. [1 X-Gun, 1 gun, 2 def, 2 misc] (X-gun is battleship scale)

  • Frigates (FF) are also known as 'unprotected cruisers', a name that evokes their in-between nature. Calling back to the age of sail frigates, these ships are specifically designed for long-range operations out where larger and more expensive cruisers aren't required - or, sometimes, as cheap fleet scouts. Frigates have a base jump range of 2 and if relevant, count as cruisers for capacity-related modules. (4 guns, 1 def, 4 misc)
  • Sloops (FP) are high-endurance warships, built for operations on the distant edges of space. While having rather poor combat capabilities, a pair of 150mm railgun turrets and a company of marines is quite sufficient to seize the local potentate's palace, guard an embassy or flatten a terrorist training camp. Sloops have a base jump range of 3. (2 guns, 2 aux, 3 misc)

Cruisers are the mid-sized type of combatant, significantly larger than escorts. They have no specific bonus or penalty, and unlike escorts have a baseline level of protection. Cruisers have a base jump range of 2.

  • Light Cruisers (CL) are small cruisers, built for high speed performance. The capability to effortlessly pace smaller escorts does not come without sacrifice however, and light cruisers are built without many of the features that their larger cousins have such as improved ultradrives and significant passive protection. Typically finding use as fleet scouts for the battleline and rapid-reaction ships, light cruisers excel at mixing it up with smaller ships but, being in many ways overgrown escorts, struggle against larger ships if not fitted with torpedoes. Historical equivalents include the [url=]Kuma and family[/url], [url=]C-class cruisers[/url] and the [url=]Capitani Romani class[/url].

The smallest cruiser-type warships, light cruisers are a crossover class. In battle they perform in many ways like escorts and only have a class-1 ultradrive, but use cruiser upgrades and improvement track. [4 weapons, 2 aux, 2 misc]

  • Heavy Cruiser (CA) are the archetypical 'cruiser', having a balanced combination of armament, armor and mobility. Respectably-sized ships they cannot stand up to capital ships in the gun-line but are nonethless powerful combatants and while not all fleets have (or can even afford) capital ships, few will willingly go without heavy cruisers. Examples include most 8" armed cruisers, but large 'light' cruisers such as the [url=]Cleveland[/url] and [url=]Sverdlov[/url] classes would also apply.

Heavy cruisers are an effective way to conduct operations, being capable combatants and also having better tactical and strategic mobility than capital ships. While well-armed, they lack the punch to seriously damage capital ships and consequently it is suggested to carry a torpedo system just in case. [6 guns, 4 def, 3 misc]

  • Strike Cruisers (CS) [4 guns, 2 def, 3 misc]
  • Pocket Battleships (CM) were popular choices by many Jeweller states who wished something resembling a capital ship but lacked the resources or legal right to construct one. [2 X-Gun, 2 guns, 3 def, 3 misc] (X-gun is battleship scale)

Capital Ships are the largest regular combatants, slow but very tough and packing heavy firepower. They pay 2 slots per propulsion/stealth module. Capital Ships do 8 damage per hit and have a base jump range of 1.

  • Treaty Battleships (BL) were defined by the Treaty of Canberra which granted the Jewel Worlds the right to their own deep-space fleets. For half a century they were the largest warships not flying the flag(s) of Earth, though ever since the Jovian Nexus collapsed that limit has been null and void. [4 guns, 4 combat (guns or defenses), 4 def, 3 misc]
  • Fleet Battleships (BA) is the colloquial term for the extremely large, powerful battleships operated by the Earth and, in the years since Nexusfall, by the Jeweller states - and even particularly ambitious Metallers. [6 guns, 4 combat, 6 def, 4 misc]
  • Battlecruisers (BC) were mostly operated by Earth states who wished for long-distance heavy intervention forces. CCs have excellent strategic mobility and are more capable at operating alone. Battlecruisers have a base jump range of 2. [2 guns, 6 combat, 2 def, 6 aux]

Supercapital Ships are really big. Tentatively penciled in as a special flagship class, cannot be mass-produced. May be tied to an advantage.

Carriers will be filled in at a later date.

Auxiliary Warships are an eclectic set of different designs used to fill specific niches. Many of these are operated by sky militias or hypercorps.

  • Merchant Cruisers (AX) are converted freighters (or are sometimes purpose-built) to attack enemy merchant shipping or be bait and attempt to sink hostile raiders. They can be surprisingly well-armed and while they are not as powerful as warships of equivalent tonnage, they are not to be taken lightly. In fact many smaller navies use them to bulk up their fleets and their prodigious fuel capacity and not-inconsiderable cargo capacity also makes for useful auxiliaries. [Base 4 damage, 2 guns, 4 misc, jump range 2)
  • Merchant Carriers (AV) are similar to merchant cruisers, save that they are designed to act as motherships for multiple gunboats. Consequently they do not have cargo capacity like a merchant cruiser, that volume taken up by stores, support equipment or indeed, gunboats themselves. [Base 2 damage, 2 guns, 3 misc, jump range 2)
  • Gunboats (PG) are small, short-ranged craft - the quintissential torpedo boat and fast attack craft. Their low endurance means they must operate from fixed bases or off motherships, and have no interstellar deployment ability. Gunboats may not take Fire Control or Amps, due to their small size. [Base 2 damage, 2 guns, 2 misc]
  • Lancers (PK) are a variation on the basic gunboat, fitting a single large cannon system down the spine of the ship. In all other respects they are essentially identical to regular gunboats. The Lance must be a gunnery weapon and any additional weapon is a size-2 weapon. [Base 6 damage, 1 gun, 1 misc]
  • Guardship (GA) types are another design that sees some popularity. Equipped with exceptionally large guns (base 6 damage) and protection measures that would not be out of place on smaller capital ships they are ideal for less expeditionary-minded navies. Unsurprisingly, their focus on guns and armor makes them relatively slow. (3 guns, 4 def, 2 misc, jump range 1)
  • Volleyships (CK) are also known as Strike Cannons, which encapsulates their role; they bring the heaviest possible ordnance to battle and are essentially overgrown monitors. These clumsy ships are generally reserved for fortification sieges, though if their supercannons are turned on hostile warships they can inflict catastrophic damage. The Spinal gun must be a Gunnery weapon. [1 Spinal Gun, 2 guns, 2 def, 2 misc, jump range 1]

Civilian Ships are mostly presented here for comparison purposes.

  • A typical freighter has 6 'cargo' slots, each one of which adds +50% to the ship's cargo capacity and a base jump range of 1. Thus a stock gate freighter can carry 8 'units', one capable of crossing category-2 lanes can carry 7, while one going up to category-3 is limited to 5 (now becoming significant) and a category-4 freighter a mere 2.
  • Liners and priority freight craft would have a base jump range of 2 but otherwise similar stats, meaning they are still manageable on category-4 routes but category-5 routes are the domain of specially-built craft that are uneconomical to operate elsewhere.
  • Far Traders are extra-big merchants built for frontier tramp service. Travelling on the ragged edges of civilization (or beyond!) they inevitably mount weapons that would befit a respectable warship. In theory they could be used in the merchant raider role, but in practical terms they are massive, obvious and generally rare ships.

Cosmo Forts are static structures (though they can be towed around with tugs) meant to defend fixed points. Not requiring many of the systems and compromises that mobile warships do, cosmo forts are very cost-effective for the battle power they deliver. Being stable, static platforms, Cosmo Forts get double effects from all FC systems.

  • Gunstars are uncrewed (or minimally crewed) weapons platforms, generally little more than one or a pair of heavy-caliber turrets, shielding and station-keeping/alignment drives. This makes them devilishly difficult targets to hit relative to their firepower. [Base 8 damage, 1 gun, 2 defense, 2 aux]
  • Star Forts are essentially stational capital ships, featuring multiple heavy-caliber turrets and, without the need to go anywhere fast, extremely potent protective measures. Most are also highly compartmentalized and while a squadron can silence a force, a single ship would be a fool to try to do so. [Base 8 damage, 6 guns, 4 defenses, 4 misc]

Weapon Modules (stats edited, values below are not updated and merely representative of concept) Electronic types ignore avoidance, have their own to-hit calculation.

  • Massdriver (Kinetic): Stock Big Gun. Doubled damage, range S
  • Scattergun (Kinetic): Giant shotguns/naval autocannons. Damage x 1.5, Range M
  • Flak Guns (Kinetic): BRRRRRRRRRRRRRT. Damage x 0.5, Range S, large boost to missile/battlecraft damage.
  • Blaster Artillery (Energy): Stock scifi turbolasers/beam arrays. Damage x 1.5, Range M
  • Pulse Cannons (Energy): Pew Pew Lasers. Range M, to-hit boost
  • Sniper Cannon (Energy): Big single-shot beams (or guided shells, I guess). Range L, critical boost.
  • Cluster Missiles (Electronic): Deep-magazine missiles a la Arleigh Burke or whatever. Range L
  • Strike Missiles (Electronic): Limited use missiles, a la Shipwreck. Each weapon is single use and has defined stats (can be shot down, does own damage, etc). Range L. (Cruiser+ gets First Strike)
  • Torpedoes (Electronic?): Single-shot, does pots of damage. Range S (no range dropoff). Hits vs target's mobility. Can fit torp reload module in misc slot, reloads all torpedoes.

Defense Modules

  • Structure: This boosts a ship's hits. Larger ships get a larger bonus.
  • Protection: Some combination of armor and shields, protection reduces damage taken.
  • Screen: (optional) Ablative, regenerating pool of hits. Does not get Protection.
  • Jammers: Improves your ECM value, which makes you harder to hit at range. Particularly useful vs missiles.
  • Cancellers: Improves Avoidance and gives a minor boost to ECM and Stealth.
  • Integrated ECM: Combines the effect of Jammers and Cancellers in one module, but also counts as a negative Protection.
  • CIWS: For shooting down missiles and nearby battlecraft.

Aux Modules

  • Fire Control: Each ship may have exactly one Fire Control. Several different types exist.

>> Short FC: Large boost to S band gunnery >> Mid FC: Moderate boost to S and M band gunnery >> Long FC: Mild boost to all band gunnery >> Flak FC: Mild boost to S band gunnery, AA and Sensors >> Radar FC: Small boost to M and L band gunnery, as well as AA and Sensors >> Integrated FC: Mild boost to all band gunnery and AA, as well as large Sensor boost. Penalty to Hits, due to all the fragile electronics. (modern ship style)

  • Search Radar: Standard powerful sensor system (may not be radar at all). Reduces Protection; those big detection grids are fragile and exposed.
  • Stealth: Large boost to Stealth and a small boost to Avoidance.
  • Engines: Things that make you go faster.
  • Verniers: Not necessarily literally a bunch of little rockets pointed everywhere, but same general idea; smaller buff to Mobility, but also improved Avoidance as your ship can dodge better. For RP purposes your ship is also particularly agile for its size.
  • Ultradrive: Each ship may have exactly one Ultradrive. Several different types exist. Remember that all ships have a default jump range; Ultradrive are not required for interstellar travel.

>> Enhanced Ultradrive: +1 Jump range >> Coaxial Ultradrive: +2 Jump range [requires 3 module slots, can use any module slot] >> Triple Expansion Ultradrive: +3 Jump range [requires 6 module slots, can use any module slot]

  • Amp: These module improves the effectiveness of all gunnery (not missile) weapons. The first Amp (Gunnery or Piercing) requires 1 slot, the second 2, the third 3, etc. Amps also required 2 Gun slots for Escorts and 1 Gun slot for cruisers.

>> Gunnery Amp: Improves damage done >> Piercing Amp: Improves the ability of weapons to penetrate Protection. Larger effect than Gunnery Amp, but more situational.


The Jovian Object It is not hyperbole to say the most momentous discovery of the 21st century was unequivocal confirmation that mankind was not alone in the cosmos.  The Jovian Atmospheric Reconnaissance Orbiter mission was a NASA-led project to conduct a thorough and enduring investigation of the Jovian atmosphere with modern instruments, to a much greater fidelity than the early 21st century Juno probe.  What it discovered entirely by happenstance was an artificial structure floating in complete defiance of gravity in the upper cloud deck near Jupiter's north pole.  This discovery changed . . . everything.

Technical issues of getting to the structure and performing investigation under 2.5 Earth gravities were daunting, but the Zeus Program was this century's Apollo.  The multinational project involved more than thirty seperate space programs covering a significant portion of the Earth's nations.  Expertise was pooled, vast resources were spent and difficulties were solved.  In the end, mankind was triumphant.

The next decades were marked by intensive research into the structure and the technologies it contained.  It soon became clear that while advanced, much of it was laid out in a way that allowed for easy understanding and application.  Onboard databanks were laid out in a way that progressed from mathematical axioms into natural language.  The structure was clearly meant to be found.  Analysis went much more smoothly once it was discovered that the structure could be raised out of the Jovian atmosphere and inserted into a conventional orbit using its own onboard gravity control.

Ultimately, dating the structure proved to be one of the more unexpectedly difficult issues.  While eventually a basic understanding of the intelligent aliens who'd constructed the Jovian Structure was achieved, figuring out just how long ago it had been placed in Jupiter eluded mankind for many years. Some calculations said centuries, others millenia. It was not until later referencing from other sources that the true age was found; 41kya.

The Jovian Nexus Without the automated factories on the Jovian Structure, the Jovian Nexus would likely never have came to be.  But with them, humanity was able to erect a dozen jump gates in as many years, tying Sol to nearby stars hosting rich asteroid belts (such as Fomalhaut) or worlds of potential habitability.  Colonies were founded, though not of the bootstrapping tough-love sort so often imagined by the writers of previous years, but tightly-managed installations filled with carefully chosen and thoroughly trained experts.  Survey ships ranged across hundreds of nearby stars, sometimes spending years in transit in efforts to find any further relics of the predecessor species.  After all, the existence of one meant there could be more.

Many of this exploration was done by up-and-coming states, pouring vast and occasionally unwise effort into their missions.  Within a decade of the first Urenbeck hypergate's critically, flags from every BRIC and MINT nation flew somewhere outside of Sol, along with those of a dozen other states from Italy to South Korea to Australia. By contrast, the US in particular harbored a certain possessiveness towards the structure they'd originally discovered and had rather monomaniacal focus on decoding as much as possible of the Structure Builder's databanks. American efforts eventually succeeded in uncovering the necessary program to reinitialize the massive jump gate that was integral to the Jovian Structure.  Humanity was now connected to what became known as the hypergrid, a work vastly overshadowing the crude hypergate network erected near Sol and, more importantly, a New World for the nations of mankind.

The Hypergrid Reliable archeological evidence points to the hypergrid having been in existence for over three million years, with scattered hints - barely more than legends - that suggest this is inaccurate, and it is instead at least fifteen million years old. Regardless, it has existed for far longer than Humankind has been a tool-using species and has done so under a succession of caretaker species. Unfortunately the true size of the hypergrid is not known; the Tharngolst-Open Palm War of circa 40 kya devastated what many theorize must have once been a galaxy-spanning work and broke it into isolated fragments, one that has not been repaired in the interim.

The known hypergrid has a series of ancient hypergates at its core. These, and the recently constructed replacements form the backbone of the known grid and connect the Jewel worlds, Fueglan space and the Sondak Imperium. Various secondary gates often lead nowhere in particular, while non-linked derelict gates and degraded high-category jump lanes speak to what was once a much richer connectivity. While some star systems linked into the hypergrid apparently mostly exist to act as intermediary nodes, the majority of the systems in the hypergrid are reasonably rich systems.

Known space is also littered with technological artifacts; the Open Palm Federation inhabited it off and on for fourty millenia and constructed all manner of technological objects ranging from the artistic to the enigmatic to the mundane to the industrial. (in fact, the Jupiter Object was an artifact of the OPF) This period of inhabitation was capped by the war of mutual genocide between the OPF and the Tharngolst which left scars on a hundred worlds and left all manner of ancient weaponry and unexpended ordnance scattered across the stars. While only so rugged and most of it having failed over the intervening four hundred centuries, archeotech is often still valuable even when it is nonfunctional. Those that were still functional, such as the naval construction auto-yard at Wonderland, were zealously defended and anyone who manages to find something comparable is sure to become a king - assuming they can hold it.

Species of the hypergrid Fueglans - Pacifist merchantile toadfolk

Caiveh - Uplifted kzinti-alikes mostly serving as Fueglan mercenaries

Saenri - lizardmen of the Sondak Empire

The Greys Greys were long a part of UFOlogy and more generally a symbol of alien life in the cosmos.  Imagine then the reaction when the first living technological aliens discovered were, in fact, "Greys".  It seemed that even in the most fanciful story was a grain of truth.  This was because what Humanity called "Greys" were in fact OPF bioroids - biological machines - and as they briefly interacted with humans as part of their ultimately pointless observation remit they gave rise to the 0.1% of alien contact stories that spawned the memetically multiplying remainder.

Greys - which are not actually grey while alive, but a pale periwinkle and only go greyish-white after the cessation of biological activity - were created by the OPF as subsentient servitors fifty or sixty thousand E-years prior, the ideal solution for a transstellar organization constitutionally against machine sentience.  Their body design and appearance was deliberately chosen to be both versatile and neutral, evoking no particular race of the Open Palm Federation.  Essentially programmed from gestation they exhibited little complex initiative or cognition, with significant percentage of their large heads dedicated not to brain matter but to organs with other functions, such as organic wifi.

Gestated and programmed for specific tasks, even after the member-species of the Open Palm had retired their servitors carried on maintaining their works against the day when they would return, a day that was never to come. It is likely that without the taller, more intelligent leader ("foreman") caste, the Greys would have completely regressed into meaningless tasks; under the supervision of the foremen caste they managed to maintain a semblance of continuity.  Even so, by the time humanity reached the hypergrid entropy had taken its toll.

Unfortunately for humanity, the Greys continued to be dedicated to maintaining the hypergrid and the relics of their lost masters and failed to make the logical leap that humans were A) mostly harmless and B) a species that was under development watch and should have been welcomed, as opposed to treated as a problem. Luckily, the Greys were fighting not strategically to win, but merely tactically to protect, and for the first few decades newly stood-up 'Greybuster' units were kept busy clearing out these bioroid guards until more permanent solutions could be introduced.

The human sector of the hypergrid has long since been pacified with the Greys either subdued or outright retired, to the point that on some worlds it is seen as fashionable (or simply decadent) to have a Grey servant. Other corners of the hypergrid are not so lucky though; some were simply never worth the trouble of digging out every little cloning farm and the so-called Emancipation Vector has spread outward into Human space. While self-willed Grey foremens (calling themselves the Hinsival) are no longer obsessive about maintaining and protecting the works of the Open Palms and have become something of a visible minority in the great hypergrid socio-economic landscape, the flipside is that the more agressive elements (calling themselves the Nureen) have become a pest upon many star lanes - pests with access to wifi-controlled servitors, fabricator yards and cloning farms.

The Hinsival and the Nureen The Emancipation Vector is the name given to the coding changes in the Grey genome which caused greater expression of their decision-making and personality brain centers. Done by the TKK Empire as one of the interminable 'reforms', this was undertaken not entirely uncoincidentally with the arrival of humans on the hypergrid. Intended to reduce the Grey's tendency towards excessive literal-mindedness and rote adherence to orders, it was rather more effective than planned. The affected Greys began to question their lot - not all, and perhaps not even many. But enough.

Much of the truth of the subsequent events is layered over with imperial obfuscation and it is unlikely that human scholars will be able to write an accurate history of the events anytime soon. That said, has long been established that the Revolt of the Greys was certainly the worst servitor (read: slave, effectively) revolts in the history of the Empire, one that has for all practical terms not ended.

  • faux latin names
  • claiming history ("we guided the Doolittle Raid with foo fighters")

The TKK Popularly known simply as 'mantoids', 'bugs' or 'sticks', the TKK (a trio of staccato clicks difficult to properly enunciate with human mouthparts) are one of the four main tool-using sophonts of the hypergrid. Their human nicknames come from their physiology; they are exoskeletal and a typical TKK has a body length of around three meters but is rail-thin with a body weight of circa 50-60 kg. To a human eye, they appear to be reminiscent of a mantis or stick insect. Like with all xenolife appearances are deceptive though, and the TKK are no more true insects than humans are. Endotherms like humans, they are biologically less capable of managing their body temperature in cold conditions and find the concept of 'winter activities' to be rather perverse. Their world of origin has a surface gravity of approximately 1.2 terran gravities and they are surprisingly strong for their spindly appearance. TKK biochemistry and metabolism is fundamentally similar to that of terrestrial life, though there is an incomplete overlap between the amino acids they use and those of terrestrial life.

The TKK spoken language is a rapid-fire sequence of clicks and buzzes created by hard physiology. It is difficult for humans to replicate, though without the flexible vocal apparatus found in humans and other species they find replicating human speech to be entirely impossible. Clear proof of the TKK's superiority, as all petitioners must speak in their language.

The TKK Empire The TKK originating from a K-type star on the far side of the Orion Complex near the outer edge of the Orion Arm. Like humanity they stumbled their way onto the hypergrid, though in the case of the TKK their entry gate was a mere dozen light years distant from their homeworld. Arriving on the hypergrid most of three thousand years ago they proceeded to feast upon the fruits of technology and the bounty of available worlds. For a time they explored the known hypergrid and even created a number of settlements in what is now generally accepted as human space. However by a thousand years ago (approximately 13th century CE) most of these had been abandoned as simply being too far to properly defend - or govern - for the value they brought to the Empire. A few were maintained as vanity projects or as the estates of particularly affluent governors.

Much of the Empire's history over the past millenium (not to mention a great deal of that of the preceeding millenium as well) has been one of stagnation, reforms, the occasional pretender or rebellion and great works all in enough complexity that were it all compiled in one document it would make The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire look like a first-year university textbook. This long history has given the TKK a definate sense of superiority relative to the other arrivals on the hypergrid, and even against breakaway provinces. The Empire is eternal, though some (human) historians instead drily suggest that it is instead proof that without a significant exogenous shock, states can carry on for extremely long time. Out of all these myriad events, definately the most important one to the hypergrid as a whole in the past thousand years was the Emancipation Vector.

For much of the history of the Empire, the TKK had used genetically modified (or even uplifted) client races for many occupations and roles. It is unclear to human scholars if this was inspired by the Greys or merely coincidental, but either way, the Greys had long served as one of the most important servitor-races in the TTK Empire. But as important as they were, they were not perfect, particularly when it came to their literal-mindedness, so much so that one of the stock characters in TKK comedies is a Foreman caste who essentially acts as a beffudled straight man. One of the reforms attempted by the TKK was to improve the cognitive and decision-making abilities of Greys so they would be even better servants. This was successful in the narrow technical sense, but was to be an enduring disaster for the Empire and resulted in the creation of the Emancipation Vector and thus the Hinsival and Nureen. The former have more or less assimilated into the various major and minor polities over the past two centuries, but the latter have become a subversive plague on the TKK Empire and an intermittent cause for concern outside.

The Heartfast Fourty thousand years ago, the Open Palm Federation met its end. They met it at the manipulators of the Tharngolst, a xenophobic race that unleashed a plague of self-replicating berserker probes on the Open Palm Federation in an horrifying attempt to 'purify' the galaxy of the nightmarish demons that inhabited it. Ultimately the campaign proved to be one of mutual genocide and the Tharngolst are, to anyone's knowledge, thoroughly extinct.

What is not extinct are the degraded remnants of their self-replicating machines. Thankfully fourty thousand years has left many of them in ruins and senescent; in their own way just as dysfunctional as the relics of the Open Palm. Unlikely those, they had never been designed to last into the deep future for other, younger races to find. Instead, they autoeuthenised, fell into disrepair, quietly went insane or simply carried on with whatever their damaged instruction sets let them. These were found thickly in the Erebus Drift, ironically where a number of disparate colonial groups had settled in order to escape the pervasive Grey conflicts and attendant UN oversight.

It is no coincidence that the Erebus Drift ended up a mess of squabbling highly transhuman statelets and even humanity's only (known) singularity events, all with access to far more overtechnology than the International Xenotechnology Control Commission was remotely comfortable with.

[size=4]Political Briefing[/size]

Outreach Outreach is the site of humanity's first arrival on the hypergrid, a rather pedestrian red dwarf with three large gas giants and a former Open Palms derelict megastructure orbiting the innermost. This made it a natural home base for human exploration on the hypergrid and consequently much of the functions of the Jovian Nexus were replicated or simply migrated to Outreach. For over a century it was the seat of UN operations on the ultragrid and for the following seventy, the capital of the UN Outreach quasi-government. + Advanced + Even-Handed - Status Quo

Terranova The first terracompatible world discovered by humanity, Terranova was just one jump past Outreach. Today, it is dominated by the Terranovan Commonwealth, with the other nations on the world mostly following the TNC's lead. + Multilateral + Peacekeepers - Arrogant and Patronizing

Elysium + + -

Prospect + + -

Olympia + Space Patrol + - Untrustworthy

Santa Maria + + -

Wonderland Wonderland was the codename for an Open Palm (the nearest English equivalent to what the Structure Builders called themselves) command and control facility who's location an American decryption team had managed to pull out of the deep layers of the Jovian Structure's databanks, along with a detailed - albeit it was found, very dated - map of a vast alien-built jump gate web. Target Wonderland was apparently the regional command node for the network of probe ships that watched promising worlds in the sector. Humanity as a whole had convinced themselves that the munificent Open Palm Federation had left a trail of breadcrumbs just a few centuries or perhaps a millenia ago, but the Americans figured out that it had been much longer - an order of magnitude, easily, and it had been a long, long time since any update had been recieved from higher authority. The probe ships in the Solar system had apparently departed in what was translated to be early 1974, not coincidentally immediately after the Pioneer 10 mission flew by Jupiter. The fact that a century had passed with no mission update - despite several hyperwave attempts, the last being immediately before humans took possession of the structure - pointed to several possible conclusions. One was that the Open Palm Federation had either dissolved or simply did not care any more. The other was that they could no longer do so. Fearing the worst, what became known as the Wonderland Working Group (or simply the Working Group) began to draw up plans for a manned expedition once the hypergate was reactivated.

Having hidden this information under a cloak of secrecy almost as soon as they discovered it, the Working Group was thus the only ones not fumbling in ignorance when the Fargate was successfully reactivated. Departing four months after the Fargate opened and the Lorentz-Yakumo effect first demonstrated, the Woolridge Expedition on the newly commissioned USSF system control ship LeMay and her escorts set course for Wonderland. Luckily for the Americans, their ships were well-equipped for a long, difficult journey. The twenty two month trip was rough on both the ships and the crews, but in the end they arrived intact.

Upon arriving at their destination they discovered a massive military industrial complex floating abandoned in space surrounded by dead automated systems, the probes they were chasing floating without power in the system as their last reserves gave out awaiting a final command. They quickly moved to secure the site and determined that this had been built as a secret bastion by a Precursor species on the local-stage for the day when their people came out of the vaults after the great disaster. The aliens never came back, but humanity did. MJ12 quickly took over the complex and and sent a ship back to report back the news, while the LeMay underwent yard-work for the strain the voyage had put on it,

When the scoutship managed to return to Outreach almost four years later, they found a political situation that had gotten immeasurably worse. Seeing themselves as heroes and valiant explorers who'd managed to both confirm the safety of humanity on the hypergrid and secure a distant beachhead for further exploration, they instead arrived to being treated as pariahs and practically traitors. The departure of the Working Group's fleet for parts unknown and planned disclosure by a rookie administration had turned into a diplomatic nightmare; Wondergate had become a political battering ram and witch hunt in the USA while doing significant lasting harm to the US's position as a leading reliable partner for space exploration. The UK fared even worse, the Roth government falling due to its involvement in the Wonderland Working Group. The entire affair was the worst diplomatic crisis in decades and reshaped the political landscape of the hypergrid. Later historians have argued that without the Wonderland Crisis delegitimizing nationalist adventures on the nearly uncharted hypergrid, human space would rapidly have become a balkanized mess of overlapping claims primed for conflict.

As for Wonderland itself, it was to remain far outside the ambit of any and every Earth power for a generation. Long and distant isolation had engendered strong bonds among those at Wonderland and weakened those regarding home.

[size=4]Technical Briefing[/size]

Interstellar Travel Interstellar travel is accomplished by the banally-named ultradrive, a still somewhat poorly understood piece of hardware derived from the technology of the Jupiter Object. Capable of slow (but still superluminal) travel between stars, subcritical (less than lightspeed) jumps are also used for in-system travel, allowing ships to cross star systems in matters of days without gross expenditure of power and reaction mass. Ultradrives are purely linear, meaning they go where they are pointed and a new vector can only be plugged in upon exit from the jump maneuver. While this was already a complete revolution for the space travel capabilities of late 21st century Earth, it was two further interrelated developments that brought humanity to its apex.

The first of these was the Urenbeck hypergate; these mechanisms allowed for sending large masses between the stars - not just clumsy exploration ships that were mostly jump engines, but actual cargo-carrying craft. They could also cover much greater distances doing so; this was most grandiosely demonstrated when the prototype 'locked on' to a dormant pair some five hundred light years distant on the far side of Pleiades, connecting Sol to what soon became known as the Hypergrid. Such distances were astronomically further than those predicted by the engineers working under Dr. Urenbeck, and it was only the investigation of obscure hypotheticals that led to an answer.

Properly known as Lorentz-Yakumo Frame Tensors but popularly known simply as jump lanes, distant stars were or could be connected by lines of modified spatial structure. Almost undetectable and essentially irrelevant in context of conventional modified Newtonian/Einsteinian phenomenon, an ultradrive travelling down a jump lane operated at orders of magnitude greater efficiency. Instead of a slow ultrajump to a system five light years away that might take an entire year, a star hundreds of light years distant can be reached in days or even hours. Initiating a full-power supercritical ultrajump becomes difficult (and sometimes dangerous) with too significant of space-time distortion and ships will generally head a number of AU out (normally about 4-7, depending on the mass of the nearest star) where local gravitational influences are minimal. Gravitational vectors also have an effect and jumping directly away from large masses (eg, stars) as opposed to at an angle is easiest. Consequently, jump lanes can be considered to be lines connecting stars with large departure and arrival zones which are unique for each target; travelling between these is a significant added time cost to travel.

Finally, not all jump drives are equal, nor are all jump lanes. Distance itself is only one factor; the fundamental ultrastructure of jump lanes varies and some are offer less resistance to travel. As such, conventional operations across human space have adopted a five-tier rating system to classify jump lanes with category 1 being the 'easiest' and category 5 being the most 'difficult' (sometimes graphically presented by a five color blue to red schema). Likewise, ultradrives are rated for the jump lane they can safely traverse. While using an insufficiently capable ultradrive is no particular barrier, it will without fail result in the ship in question falling out of jump transit somewhere deep in interstellar space, many years of time-debt from a star connected to the ultragrid. Finally there has been empirical proof that jump lanes can improve over time, essentially 'worn in' by repeated travel. Likewise, it seems that jump lanes have finite lifespans (albeit one measured in tens or hundreds of thousands of years) and degrade over time. Discovering new jump lanes is often difficult (and almost as often at least somewhat hazardous), but doing so opens up new star systems for exploration - and exploitation.

All of these factors have helped shaped the astrographic backdrop against which humanity has spread across the stars.

[size=4]Strategic Operations[/size]

Interstellar Travel All interstellar travel is accomplished via jump lane travel, be it via ultradrive or hypergate. While 'off-road' travel is possible, it is the exclusive domain of specialized exploration craft (or story events); regular ships doing such are effectively and indefinately removed from play.

Jump lanes are rated from 1 to 5; an ultradrive needs to match or exceed a jump lane's rating to perform a safe jump. Military drives have enough reserve power that they can attempt to make an 'overjump' at +1 effective ultradrive rating. This, however, is risky. There is a flat 50% chance that they will get stranded somewhere with years of time-debt from civilization and consequently removed from play. If they are lucky, in a few years they might straggle into port with the crew in hypersleep. If they are unlucky, they are lost forever. It beats certain death, however.

The most efficient merchants are only fitted with class-1 ultradrives, which limits them to fairly heavily travelled areas or to hypergate transit. Higher classes are increasingly rare, with class-2 rated ships making up perhaps 10% of the total merchant ultramarine (though >50% of all liners are fitted with class-2 ultradrives, mostly for reason of in-system speed), class-3/4 rated ships being mostly limited to tramp freighters or ships specifically commissioned for colonial work and class-5 ships almost exclusively special custom builds. Higher ultradrive class is also generally inversely correlated to tonnage, though this is a matter of economics, not physics - a 100,000 ton freighter fitting a class-5 ultradrive has significant tonnage dedicated to an extremely expensive piece of metric-control machinery.

The time taken for an ultrajump is negligible (generally less than a day), but various in-system movements and general time-wasting between jump lanes normally adds a few additional days. Over long trips, this adds up. Warships have the reserve power and drive intelligence to perform subcritical jumps all across a system as desired and will generally head on least-time courses between jump lanes. By contrast, most civilian ships (liners and high-speed dry good transports fitting class-2 rated engines being the common exception) will take a V-shaped route, following a least-resistance course to near the local star before bouncing back on a direct outward vector to the destination - slightly slower, but more efficient and putting less strain on the machinery.

On top of this is the hypergate network. In practical terms, travel through a hypergate always counts as a class-1 transit and even ships lacking entirely lacking ultradrives can use them to perform interstellar jumps.

Hypergates The following is all effects that hypergates provide.

  • Travel through a hypergate always counts as a class-1 transit and even ships lacking entirely lacking ultradrives can use them to perform interstellar jumps.
  • A hypergate counts at one-half (0.5) jumps for purposes of strategic supply.

National Advancement The FTA2 tech system is, IMO, way bloated and pretty much ends up with everyone having everything is they have the money. To trim out a lot of that I propose the Doctrine system and the Ship Development system. Genuine "R&D" would get shrunk down greatly to be more akin to FTA1 where it was mostly game-changer projects.

Doctrines Doctrines are how your soldiers fight. The better their doctrines, the better they do. Tentatively, doctrines can come in basic, improved and expert levels; levels 1, 2 and 3. The specific effect of doctrines is TBD, but the effects are (individually) smaller (like, +1 on gunnery to-hit rolls as opposed to +20% firepower). The important thing is that you can have multiple levels of them (for improved effects) and, more importantly, you can pick more up in-game. The essence of how this functions is as follows:

You accumulate "military training points" for every battle you end fight (say 1 on a victory or loss, because there's always room for improvement - I originally considered 1 on victory but 2 on losses, because defeat is a harsh tutor). Ridiculously one-sided stomps (such as welping a lone frigate into a battleship division) would not teach anyone anything. If your units are out of communication (or are completely wiped out) likewise you would get no points because there are no survivors to pass along the logs. Major or pivotal battles likewise could be worth more. Meaningful operations like large military exercises or major deployments could also be worth point(s) - this will probably be buying them with $ in practice. These points can be used to purchase doctrines or, theoretically, other options as well (spending your points on instantly purchasing troops, for example; you round up dudes at the cost of dilluting your institutional skill).

Now, where it gets cool is you can have things that affect your base rate of gain. Like "Victory Disease" where you get no doctrine points on victories. Or "Fast Learners" for 2 on losses, or "Ever forward" for 2 on victories but 0 on losses. These could also be tied to Ethos. Finally, you can have Elite and Inept militaries, which would pay half and double to purchase a new doctrine point respectively.

I did consider splitting them between different options like Solo and Fleet (and presumably Army) but frankly that's a level of differentiation that would tip over from 'neat added thing' to 'unnecessary bookwork'.

Doctrinal Holes Doctrinal Holes are problems that your astrofleet's training curriculum labours under.

  • Poor Command/Discipline
  • Poor Gunnery
  • Poor Helms
  • Poor Navigators (reduction in starway travel)
  • Crummy ASW (penalty to stealth detection)
  • Crummy AAA (All AAA is one range bracket worse)
  • Ill-Educated (hit on ECM and Sensors)
  • Highly Visible (stealth/avoidance penalty)
  • Uncontrolled Damage (reduction in effective structure)
  • Fixed Deployment (cannot use supply ships, only fixed bases)

Ship Development Ship development is the main way of improving your warships. It allows you to progressively buff them up through a set of either/or choices. To that end, each family (eg, escorts, capitals, etc) has a cluster of options, each option-pair labelled with a different letter. For example, Escort Alpha might be the option between +1 Speed or +1 Avoidance, while Capital Ship Alpha might be +1 Armor or +1 To-Hit. You may only have one of each - thus for your Alpha you might choose +1 speed, but you will thus never have +1 Avoidance. This gives people the ability to progress their ships while at the same time forcing choices. The cost of each subsequent choice in a family increases; so while it is still possible to monoculture with really great X, you can do basic improvements to Y and Z for cheap if so desired.

Design School All High Grade ships gets 1 bonus FC (any type) and 1 bonus structure upgrade, plus the effects of the nation's chosen Design School.

  • Jeune Ecole (adds speed and torpedo? attack, [Torpedo Ram] unlock)
  • Fisher School (adds amp and dreadnought bonus)
  • Mahanian School (adds gun/armor)
  • Beatty School (adds ultradrive slots)
  • Gorshkov School (adds missile effectiveness and sensors, [Strike Cruiser] unlock)
  • Zumwalt School (adds misc slots)
  • Donitz School (stealth, [Torpedo Ram] unlock)
  • Yamamoto School (adds hangar)
  • Burke School (adds aux, [Strike Cruiser] unlock)

All dates ending in X are approximate

  • 204x - Discovery of the Jovian Polar Structure
  • 205x (late) - Manned travel to Jovian subsystem, unmanned exploration of the Jovian Polar Structure (JPS) by the Zeus Program
  • 206x - Xeno-craft from the JPS recovered. Human travel to the JPS feasible.
  • 206x (late) - JPS moved into Jovian orbit.
  • 207x - First interstellar ship launched using extant hardware from the JPS. Copies are soon made.
  • 207x (late) - First Urenbeck Gate opened between Sol and Alpha Centauri AB
  • 208x-210x - Solar Gate Network constructed centered on the Jovian Nexus; multiple research colonies founded in nearby star systems.
  • 2080s to 2120s - Golden years of human augmentation
  • 211x - Great Gate opened between the Jovian Nexus and the distant Hypergrid. Wonderland Mission launched. First contact with the 'Greys'. First footsteps on a human-compatible, non-artificial biosphere (Terranova).
  • 211x-213x - Discovery of the Jewels, 'Greybuster squads' stood up, UN-mandated colonization begins.
  • 213x-217x - Iron Age of human augmentation.
  • 213x-2230x - 'Earth Grid' colonizing continues under national auspices, crude terraforming efforts becoming far more effective as technology and artifacts are recovered from the Hypergrid. Prestige for everyone!
  • 214x - First contact with the TTK; First Contact War (little more than a skirmish), human forces totally defeated. Secondary colonies start to spring up.
  • 214x-218x - Tertiary colonization down back routes such as the Erebus Drift and the Rainbow Bridge.
  • 215x-220x - Diamond Age of human augmentation.
  • 218x - Second Contact War, round 2 against the TTK. Humans still get their foolish faces beat in.
  • 221x - Third Contact War. Humans beat up the Lizards and set up a UN Mandate.
  • 221x-224x - Brushfires wars in tertiary colonies.
  • 225x (late) - Great Gate malfunctions. Crap.
  • 226x - Homebound Mission launches carrying duplicate spares to repair the Great Gate.
  • 227x - Hemisphere War on Elysium.
  • 228x - The Invisible War (war of pirates)
  • 228x - The Snake and the Mantis.
  • 229x - The Overturn; withdrawal from the Augustan worlds and the Treaty of Antioch
  • 233x - Homebound Mission finally reaches Earthspace.
  • 2341 - year 1

State Templates This is a draft of different 'families' of PC (and possibly NPC) states. Each would come with one or more automatic traits and probably some modifiers and/or limits. Included are some vague ideas, including variation on prestige gain/loss.

  • Metallers; the PC baseline. Best access to tech and economy, but prestige losses are doubled and any actions taken against them net double prestige. Only the strongest crab in the crab pot will win.
  • Haloers; fringing nations (probably) off the gate network, though still on the jump grid. Weak in econ and tech, but best access to weird stuff like high transhumanism and precursor exotica. Halves prestige loss and actions taken against them net half prestige.
  • Augustans; a group of settled worlds taken by the TKK in the settlement closing the Second Contact War. They were abandoned to their own destinies under the Treaty of Antioch following some decades of internal tensions. Treaty limited in some respects (no capital ships) but nobody else can send capships in either. Excellent pirate connections. Double all prestige swings happening in the DMZ.
  • Mandators; Un-established control zones in the (former) Reptoid empire. Uneasy, rather neo-colonial with humans at the top of the pyramid and the reptoids below. Lots of spare labour and no real oversight (perfect for building giant statues of Dear Leader), but national stability loss is doubled. Lizard-soldier shock armies are perfect for seizing more clay for Dear Leader, too.

Legacies These are aspects of a state that are entirely unique (I call them charm points). Tentatively, each player will write up a short paragraph (no long-ass word vomit bafflegab justification) of some sort of historical or otherwise noteworthy 'thing' and then the GMs will collectively determine what the effect is. Example (effect is probably overpowered, but it serves as an example) [color=red]Legacy of Vist[/color]: Transsybil was the first Successor State to build a dreadnought on its own, early in its history, and has vast institutional knowledge on the constructions and maintenance of dreadnoughts. Thus for they build dreadnoughts at battleship prices $ and DI and construction times, but maintenance is dreadnought cost.

DEFCON Level This is a holistic measure of how ready your nation is for war.

  • Unready (demobilized): This isn't just peacetime, this is aggressively downsized military not very ready to fight, like the interwar USA. Military upkeep is halved, but dollar/DI cost for acquisitions (domestic and foreign) is doubled, doctrines are disabled and you suffer a -1d6 (rolled once per battle, for sanity) on all battle rolls. You can have 20% of any size class (ie, 1 of 5 to 9 capital ships, 2 of 10-14 cruisers, etc) in your 'Expeditionary Force' which does not suffer any penalties. Would take one full year to go to Ready - things are simply not ready to go.
  • Ready (peacetime): The default military readiness level. No effects.
  • Alert (mobilized): Your military is not in active conflict, but it is ready for reasonably immanent hostilities. Strategic suprise (Pearl Harbour) is much harder, available DI is increased by 100%, but staying at this level for long periods will start racking up domestic order $$.
  • Wartime: You are at war. Available DI is increased by 200%. War fatigue is a thing.

[size=5]Traits[/size] (cost surcharge for taking multiple traits with the same tag?)

  • Mercurial Politics: You may roll one annual Ethos Mission on any table (randomly determined), but all other Ethos missions must be discarded and rerolled as normal if this ability is exercised.

[size=5]Political Operations[/size]

  • Ethos provide missions
    • Missions can provide Prestige, Infamy or Stability

Stability provides (small) spy defense bonus, budgetary bonuses (less corruption or policing siphoning money away), wartime resistance and memetic (ie assimilation/conversion) resistance. Extremely low Stability can lead to uprisings. > thoughts:

  • Stability is rated 0-100, with 0 being effectively complete anarchy with no government past the tribal/town level and 100 being a homogeneous utopia (or dystopia).
    • A well-run peacetime state will normally be in the 50-70 range.
    • Penalties will accrue below 60 stability, bonues will accrue above 60.
    • Penalties can either be chosen by the player (is it a political crisis? economic malaise? military dysfunction) or the game moderators, depending on the specifics (targeted espionage, random fluctation, war weariness, etc)
      • If a penalty is maxed-out, a different penalty must be selected (corruption rolling over into military doing poorly, etc etc)
  • Every state has a natural stability level it will normalize towards (bought at game start or defined as part of starting package). For every 10 FULL points of stability distant from your natural stability, your stability level normalizes by 1 point at EOY rollover. This means that all states will have a natural 'band' of stability that they will float in, while larger events will see them return to this band over time.
  • States with less than 10 Stability must roll a D10; rolling over their stability rating means the government completely collapses (civil war/anarchy - state failure)
  • States with less than 20 stability must roll 2D10, rolling over their stability rating means they have a significant uprising (revolt, significant work stoppages, etc - economic hit)
  • States with less than 30 stability must roll 3D10, rolling over their stability rating means that they suffer some sort of political crisis (riots, etc - stability hit)
    • All rolls cumulative, so a state with stability 8 needs to roll on all three 'stability saves'. This is generally bad.
  • Oppressometer: (Para)military troops can be used to counteract penalties from stability, essentially acting as a phantom boost to stability. The oppression will depend on population vs number of troops.

>> Flaws to make the stability failures occur at higher points

[size=5]Strategic Operations[/size]

[size=4]Naval Bases[/size]

Bases are the places where your mighty space fleets call home. Their primary effect is providing an operational radius inside which ships (and ground forces, presumably) are properly supplied. Units outside of this suffer penalties due to having to conserve ammo and fuel, overworked crews, delayed maintenance, etc. Bases are built up, with each base rank (just to define how big they are) providing X amount of support. Having too much shit in your base's operational radius also means that the extras suffer penalties, since your dudes only have so many hours in the day and so many fuel trucks.

  • Natural Harbor: You have a particularly convenient location here, perhaps a naturally-hollowed out asteroid or an ancient Open Palm megastructure fragment. Any fleet facilities at a single point location in this system provide double fleet pool.
  • Gas Shortage: Local fuel sources are limited to nonexistent, meaning your fleets often have to make do off the jump gate network. All fleet facilities in this system provide half fleet pool to ships not in a gate-connected system.
  • Echo Sound: Ultrawave transmissivity is particularly good in this system and it is consequently easy to coordinate supply operations at a distance. Any fleet facilities in this system have a +1 effective supply range.
  • Ion Storms: Communication is bad in this system and ships need to be careful when doing UNREPs or carrying large quantities of volatile fuel and munitions. Any fleet facilities in this system have a -1 effective supply range.
  • Great Mountain: There is a particularly defensible location in this system, such as a large, sheer valley or massive batholith into which you can place a fleet base. This channels any enemy attack, providing significantly better defensive options.
  • Gate Nexus: The gates in this system are particularly close together or just conveniently placed. This system counts as 0 jumps for supply range so long as line of supply is being drawn through gate systems. This also applies if the fleet base is in this system.
  • Gatedown: The gates in this system are a bit balky and delays are common. This system does not count as gate-connected for supply purposes.

[size=4]Units Quirks[/size] Unit quirks are shorthand for various aspects, features and flaws that units may have. This saves rewriting them regularly; a quirk has the same effect no matter where it may be found. Some are primarily fluff, while others have (non-)combat effects. Likewise, some may be temporary (such as Flagship) while others are effectively permanent (Command Ship).

  • Pack Mule: By installing a series of mounting points attached to primary structural members, a warship can sling one module's worth of cargo or fuel externally. While this modification comes at negligable cost, it does require some forethought during the design phase. External cargo will generally have to be jetissoned for combat or atmospheric transit.
  • Tokyo Express: Featuing heavy-duty environmental systems, extra mess halls and extensive hotbunking, a warship can carry an extra module's worth of light infantry or the equivalent in a pinch. It's not recommended doing this with the expectation of any real combat or over long journeys
  • Innocent: The ship is (or appears to be) an innocuous civilian ship and recieves none of the enhanced attention a warship might.
  • Hangar Queen: The unit in question requires an excessive amunt of maintenance. Consequently, it costs double upkeep.
  • Ruggedized: Often found on common units that have long since taken advantage of maintenance best practices or sometimes ones that simply do not break down very often, this quirk halves upkeep cost.
  • Short Legs: Many warships - particularly small ones - are simply incapable of long deployments, while some larger ones sacrifice deployment ability for performance or price. Any unit with this quirk suffers

Clouds are large zones of free-floating matter, generally of the gaseous or microscopic sort. Like familiar atmospheric clouds they are obscurant when large enough, while some also collect dangerous charges of ionization or radiation. While some particularly dense clouds are home to cloudscoop operations, in general their tendency to be haunts of pirates and other unsavory sorts sees most legitimate traffic try to avoid them.

  • Cloud (Gas): Gas clouds are a common feature in space, archetypically vast glowing nebula spanning light-years but more commonly local bubbles of ejected gas. These tend to distort sensor return, making long-range targeting dificult. Effect: -2 to hit per cumulative range bracket, +25% stealth
  • Cloud (Dust): Large clouds of dust provide effective obscurant even in deep space. Systems with pervasive dustclouds are often raider havens, though this works both ways and the hunter can easily become the hunted in such murky realms. Effect: Large boost to base stealth.
  • Cloud (Ion): Ion clouds (or ion storms) are normally the result of solar winds and magnetic fields working in conjuncture, leading to massive built-up electrical charges and cinematic lightning. Effect: Roll twice for criticals, missiles/torpedoes have a 25% chance of automatic failure.
  • Cloud (Plasma): Bubbles or halos of hot plasma, these are most commonly either high-speed ejected jets or the outer atmosphere of large stars such as Betelgeuse. While they may not be dense enough to inflict damage (see Radiation below) even cool plasma is very effective at blocking energy weapons and sensors. Effect: -1 energy weapon damage and -2 sensors per cumulative range bracket
  • Cloud (Interference): These are clouds that have strong and unusual phenomenae, such as astrophysical masers and other cosmological exotica that can wreak havoc on high-tech systems. The tendency of outlaws to use them for protection and to evade pursuit has led to their common nickname of 'pirate clouds'. Effect: Tech bonuses are inverted.
  • Cloud (Radiation): Some of the most dangerous environments, radiation cloudes are massive baths of energy that can swiftly overheat and destroy anything not properly protected against suchlike. Effect: 1 damage/round (2 on cruiser, 3 on capship, 4+ bigger). Can be mitigated by shields.

  • Shoal (Asteroid): The archetypical asteroid cluster, these are sectors of space dense with free-floating rocks, much moreso than the typical asteroid belt which is in fact still mostly empty space. Effect:
  • Shoal (Comet): The outer system beyond the [url=]frost line[/url] tends to be dominated by volatiles as opposed to rocky bodies (comets being 'dirty snowballs' sums this up) and as such, they tend to be bodies with much higher albedo
  • Archipelago: While most shoals tend to be a chaotic mess of N-body interactions, archipelagos instead full of small bodies that are anchored in some manner, or orbiting in a predictable, cyclical manner.

Planetary Environments

  • Climate (Hot): This is for unpleasantly hot worlds where even the poles tend to be reminiscent of the middle east, Amazon and other 'hot' parts of Earth. While stereotypically desert worlds, that is not a requirement; worlds with equatorial sea temperatures of 50C are still going to be thoroughly uninhabitable too - probably moreso in fact.
  • Climate (Cold): These are worlds that while having functioning bio- and hydrospheres are nonetheless thoroughly frigid by human standards; equatorial zones are generally comparable to the high arctic (which can mean surprisingly warm summers) but by and large even the nicest places are ones that are cold for much of the year.
  • Miserable: Some places are simply really miserable. The weather is bad, the climate is unbearable and the food is worse.
  • Inhospitable: The world in question has no (or a profoundly alien) bio- and/or atmosphere, one that is fundamentally incompatible with human life. At least there's gravity. Worlds such as Mars qualify, as would worlds like Pandora (for very different reasons). Effect: All infrastructure costs are multipled by x2.
  • Uninhabitable: There is no biosphere, little gravity and often pervasive poisons or solar radiation here. The lunar surface, asteroids and comets, etc. In short, someplace that is absolutely, accept-no-substitutes lethal to human life (and organic life in general). While none of the challenges of living here haven't been solved by technic civilization, that still doesn't make it cheap and convenient. All infrastructure costs are multiplied by x4