Thursday, November 26, 2009

Idle Military Sci-Fi GURPS thoughts

So, as often happens with my brain, while I'm in the midst of prepping for and thinking about Wuxia and Vampire, space opera stuff pops into my head.

Mostly, I've been thinking about the climactic battle where Walter laid down loads of artillery fire, very successfully wiping out the enemy. After discussing it (peripherally) with some friends online, something occured to me: Why didn't the Quetzali infiltrators jam Walter's communications?

Seems like the reasonable thing to do. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole Electronic Supremacy that seems to dominate the Ultra Tech battlefield. I grasped fairly early on that in a battle where "I see it, it dies" is the rule, not being seen is how you survive. But putting this into effect has been an another thing entirely.

I simplified alot of the Forward Observer rules in the last fight. Next time, I think, I'm going to make the following changes:
  • Artillery is always an option. With orbiting warships and massive, mobile railguns that can easily fire over the horizon at enormous speeds, the players should be able to call down Artillery no matter where they are. A force that is so beaten it no longer has access to artillery generally surrenders (or goes guerilla)
  • Forward Observer rules work as normal, so it takes a very long time for the shot to land. But artillery is much more powerful: either a single 100ml Thermobaric charge, or 1d6 64mm Thermobarics, or one really big beam blast or kinetic kill missile from orbit (which comes down really fast). This are more like fight-finishers than a supplement for the characters' own fighting.
  • Getting that Forward Observer roll off requires control of the electronic battlefield. In normal cases, this might be no problem, but when electronic warriors are on the field (infiltrators), they'll automatically try to jam your comms (just like they jam your radar). The "battle" then becomes about rooting out the infiltrators and/or defeating their jamming so you can call in your artillery strike before they do.
I suspect this will add a new layer, the sort of multi-dimensional conflict that I think should epitomize UT combat. The officer struggles to beat the jamming while the soldiers struggle to root out the infiltrators, while the heavy infantry wades through the artillery barrage to try to take down the officer before he can call another.

It needs more work, but it's coming together.
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