Saturday, July 7, 2018

Psi-Wars Material Technology

In the far future of the Psi-Wars galaxy, industry makes use of new materials from which to construct their buildings, factories, starships and to armor their soldiers. Most of these materials resemble modern materials, but typically are far stronger and lighter, able to stand up to the firepower of a blaster and to shrug off more primitive attacks with ease. Some are the results of far superior crafting technology, but others are mined from the depths of planetary cores, or taken from exotic asteroids who passed too close to hyperspatial anomalies.

This post has two companion patreon posts:

  • For Fellow Travellers ($3+) I have a more detailed look at these materials, including using them for armor design, vehicle design, building design, and some advanced and primitive materials.
  • For Dreamers ($1+) I have some research notes on real-world sci-fi materials, as well as conversion notes for GURPS Vehicles 3e armor and GURPS Spaceships armor.

Structural Materials

The buildings of Psi-Wars make use of exotic materials for greater durability and lightness, allowing for highly durable buildings and very agile starships.


Deep in the hearts of planets or planetoids, the intense pressure crushes iron into a new molecular configuration called hexaferrum, or “epsilon iron.” This state of iron is more dense and far tougher than normal iron: it is to iron what diamond is to carbon. The civilization of the Psi-Wars galaxy mine it from planetary cores or, more commonly, from the destroyed remnants of destroyed planetoids in the form of M-class asteroids. The resulting iron is carefully alloyed with carbon to form “episteel,” a material four times as durable as steel for the same weight. Episteel is common throughout the Psi-Wars galaxy, and forms the basis for “cheap” metal construction.

Titanium Foam

When mixed with certain nanomaterials, a titanium powder can “bubble up” into a foam that sets with structural strength as durable as iron, but exceedingly light as most of the structure is air or void. This is often used as a “filler” material where construction must be both light and durable, such as the cores of light starships or the interior of metal doors.

Ferrocrete, or Heavy Nanocrete

Concrete allowed ancient civilizations to construct “stone” structures easily, but often required steel reinfrocement. Nanocrete imbeds iron nanoparticles in the concrete mixture, so that as the concrete sets, the iron forms a natural crystalline lattice to reinforce it. This results in a dusky gray or reddish concrete structure with superior durability.

Light Nanocrete

Light Nanocrete is a more recent invention and relies on the same principle as heavy nanocrete, but replaces the iron with a tight carbon lattice, mixing the strength of diamondoid with concrete to create an astonishingly light structure with the same durability as heavy nanocrete.

Diamondoid Plate Glass

Not nearly as durable as true diamondoid armor, this mixes a transparent carbon lattice in with the silica of plate glass to create an astonishingly durable form of plate glass. This is often used where armored glass is necessary, or as a cheap material for armored visors.

Barriers and Doors

GURPS Action 2 lists the values of various items someone might try to blast their way through in great detail. This changes in Psi-Wars as the technologies involved differ substantially.

Door Controls

Most Psi-Wars doors have their mechanisms buried deep behind walls. Going after the actuators is usually harder than trashing the door itself. However, wrecking the door controls may result in a door opening or locking shut, depending on its settings. This can be accomplished through raw damage, or through a power-outage (Electrician). You can set the control settings with Mechanic (Any), Lockpicking or Electronics Operation (Security), or via a local computer interface if you have access. Once destroyed, the door will trigger its safeguard: in most cases, this will open the doors, but in highly secure areas (especially prisons), it will prevent the door from opening until repaired.

Controls tend to be a simple electronic panel; how robust they are varies.

Delicate: DR 7, HP 3

Standard: DR 15, HP 5

Tough: DR 35, HP 10

Extra-Tough: DR 75, HP 20

Door DR and HP

Most doors are sliding doors, thus one cannot attack the hinges. Bringing a door to 0 HP allows one to force it back into the wall, or push through a gap between the two doors.

Plastic-faced door: DR 4, 10 HP

Episteel-faced door: DR 30, 15 HP

Episteel Door: DR 45, 15 HP

Carbide Armored Door: DR 250, 25 HP

Blast Door: DR 1000, 50 HP

Force Wards

An intensely strong force field projected on a 2d plane, typically used for prison doors, or to lock away certain passages on command. They provide hardened DR 100. The projector is typically on the far side of the ward, and generally has a DR of 30 and 12 HP. Cutting power to the area will instantly shut-off the ward (though high security wards have their own back-up power supply that will last 12 hours). It can be manually disengaged with an Electronics Operation (Security or Force Screen), or deactivated via a computer interface.

Bars and grills

Cell bars or barred windows rarely appear outside of more primitive alien worlds; they feature strongly in the Dark Arm of the galaxy, however. They’re usually constructed of Episteel

Makeshift bars: DR 30, HP 5

Standard bars: DR 50, HP 10

Rugged bars: DR 100, HP 20

Walls and Barriers

4” Light Nanocrete Wall: DR 100, 50 HP

12” Heavy Nanocrete Wall: DR 300, 90 HP

3’ Heavy Nanocrete Bunker Wall: DR 1000, 135 HP

1/2” Diamondoid Glass: DR 50, 20 HP; Brittle

1/8” Mild Episteel Wall: DR 20, HP 25

Defensive Materials

As weapon technology advanced, armor technologies needed to advance with them. Thefollowing materials are typically used in armor, whether on vehicles or as personal armor. Some primitive civilizations use Episteel for armor, but this is not noted below.


Carbide is a crystalline alloy between graphene and some other material, typically titanium and hexaferrum, which creates an extremely durable material. It has a flat, matte grey cast, though it can be polished to a chrome shine. This is the preferred armor of the setting, often used as for plates or armor, or to cover vehicles, and may be made into a laminate (but may not be made transparent).


Diamondoid armor is crystalline carbon armor of the Maradonian aristocracy. It offers nigh unparalleled protection, though it is more fragile than carbine armor and offers less protection against crushing attacks as it has a tendency to fracture under extreme pressure. Extremely difficult to manufacture and thus very expensive, this is retained almost exclusively as a personal armor for space knights. It typically has a highly polished sheen, or may appear as a glittering, greyish-blue armor, or it may be transparent or semi-transparent.

Cerablate Plating

An advanced form of ceramic armor, cerablate plating evaporates quickly under energy attacks, including blaster fire or plasma attacks. This grants it considerable, but temporary and specific, protection. Fortunately, it is cheap enough to be disposable, and some soldiers use it to augment their armor. Cerablate is white, similar to polished ceramics, and may gain fine “spider-web” fractures on it, like broken glass, after an extended battle.


Nanopolymer is a nano-particle reinforced plastic, and an outdated, but cheap, armor technology. It appears as a dull, matte grey or brown composite metal, similar in appearance to ancient tank armor.

New Armor Rules

Psi-Wars sports seriously advanced technology, but depicts a cinematic reality where a brawler can punch out a man in full armor or an assassin with a knife can expertly kill a soldier in full plate armor. Thus the following new rules:
Cinematic Rule: Armor Blowthrough
All armor counts as flexible against crushing attacks. Crushing attacks that deal knockback cause one point of damage per yard if the target fails his knockdown roll or he is knocked into a hard surface.
Harsh Realism for Armor: Armor Gaps

Plate Armor is at -6 to target armor chinks on the torso and -8 to target armor chinks elsewhere; all other forms of armor have the standard rules for chinks (-8 for targeting the chinks on the torso, -10 to target chinks elsewhere). All armor except for flexible or solid armor have gaps which can be targeted at -8. Attacks to gaps bypass DR entirely while attacks to chinks halve DR as normal.

Force Screens and Wards

Psi-Wars uses Force Screen technology both as a form of active support structure and a form of defense. The former shows up in certain environmental domes in hostile environments, or as the crackling “force wall” of a prison door. These suffer the drawback of disappearing when they power down, but most such systems have redundant power supplies that last for about 12 hours after power is shut off.

Force screens tend to be used on corvettes and capital ships, as well as some well-protected fighters, to divert blaster fire and missiles. The most extreme example of such a force screen is a planetary shield, meant to prevent space bombardment They may be “angled” to better defend the ship from attack from a particular direction. No force screen can prevent “slow” (that is, slower than a bullet) craft or people from entering its space. A force screen cannot be made small enough to protect a single person, though rumors persist that Denjuku or the Empire have both perfected personal force screen prototypes.

Force Shields and Force Wards

But what about Force Bucklers? The closest I can find to them in GURPS Vehicles is a Deflector screen, which has no DR and only provides PD. We might correlate these with Force Shields and work out their power/mass requirements by surface area only and assume that they always have a DR of 100, but then we need to struggle to figure out why smaller vehicles don’t cover themselves with force buckler-like constructions, or how we make force buckler masses and power requirements mesh with those of the force ward and balance everything with force screens!

I have a better idea, however! How about we just leave them as written in Ultra-Tech? We don’t need to use them as vehicular design options (or, at least, we can treat them like we would any gadget and allow someone to purchase them straight out of GURPS Ultra-Tech). This also minimizes the fuss, as GMs can use these straight out of the books as well. It’s simpler and side-steps messier issues. If this turns out to be a problem in the future, I can always revisit it.

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