Thursday, September 27, 2018

Sensors, Planetary Power and Comments on Smuggling: A Psi-Wars Electronics Ammendum

While not strictly necessary for the running of a good Psi-Wars game, I personally enjoy thinking through the consequences of my choices, and I find that many of my readers enjoy that as well.  Of course, a good space opera game doesn't really care much about the details, and cares more about the "Wow!" factor.  For example, a lot of Star Wars die-hards like to complain about a particular scene in the Last Jedi, while a lot of people counter "It's just a movie, it's cool, stop thinking about it so much," and that's fair!  If you stopped and overthought most of your space opera, you could probably poke a million holes in it, and the Rule of Cool matters more.  But that said, I find that having a bit of verisimilitude can help, especially if it doesn't hurt.  I've tried to arrange Psi-Wars so that it makes sense where possible.  I don't demand that you use it this way, but I try to bake it in without really getting in your way, so that if a weird question comes up, it can be easily and logically answered.

What follows here is my musings over the consequences of the scanner rules I have created, paired with some thoughts on hyperspace, war, smuggling and pirates and the roles fighters might play in such a situation.  It's really not necessary to understand, but like my discussions on Patreon about imperial "tactics," or my discussions on this blog about Insurgent Tactics, I find some people enjoy this sort of musing, so if you do, well, see you after the jump!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Psi-Wars Electronics II - Sensors and Sensor Jamming

In the real world, we use sensors for two main purposes: to alert us to the presence of an enemy, and to guide our missiles. In Space Opera, including Psi-Wars, we also use sensors to analyze a target: scanning for life-scans, picking up the make and model of a target, etc. We also use counter-measures: in the real world, to buy ourselves a little time before the enemy picks us up, and to jam guidance systems to keep us from being hit by a missile.

The technology used for both is easy enough: we use Ultrascanners for all our sensory needs, and we use Distortion jammers to disrupt all uses of ultra-scanners. The interesting question is not what we use, but to what scale and what rules should govern their use.

Welcome to  part II of my giant post on electronics.  Again, I have a focus on things I might use for military vehicles, because my ultimate goal here is to start working on dogfighting 2.0, which means we need to get a sense of how our vehicles work.  Yesterday, I looked at comms, today, I look at sensors.

As before, this touches on some of my vehicles material.  Feel free to ignore that if you wish.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Psi-Wars Electronics I -- Comms

I've been working on Electronics in general when my post spiraled out of control.  Originally, this was meant to cover sensors and sensor jamming when I noticed I hadn't touched on Comms and Comm-Jamming.  I, at least, see the fight between ECM and ECCM as a fight between sensor systems and counter-sensor systems, but in fact, it began as comm systems and counter-comm systems. Furthermore, this makes sense: once you’ve begun an ambush (whether pirates attacking a shipping freighter or a fighter wing attacking a patrol), not only do you want to prevent yourself from being detected, but you want to prevent the target from calling for assistance, or communicating any intelligence back to an authority figure.  So this is where I want to start.

Normally I peel out the GURPS Vehicles stuff for my Patreons, but it's too small to really make into its own document, and perhaps you'll find it interesting, and they have the whole document, which will be updated to include this information, so see it as a preview.  I also talk about "Low, Patrolling and High Orbit," in the document; this arises from the sensors discussion and a post that will drop later this week.  If I may briefly summarize them: low orbit is 100 miles from the surface, safely above the atmosphere but still close to the action.  Patrolling Orbit is about 500 miles up, as close to the surface as one can get while still maintaining "sight-lines" with other ships that might be guarding the planet at equidistant locations in a band around the planet, and high orbit is 4000 miles, one planetary radius away, which has to do with hyperspatial dynamics.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Psi-Wars Weaponry Revisited

Thus far in Psi-Wars, I've used the Ultra-Tech weapons more or less unchanged, though by Iteration 6, it was clear that we needed some changes.  The following details all weapons available in the setting and their general rules, and some additional changes and thoughts on the scale of weaponry that we might employ, especially on large scales.

Monday, September 10, 2018

A GURPS Spaceships Retrospective (and a GURPS Vehicles Conversion Patreon Post)

Psi-Wars makes intense use of GURPS Spaceships, and it has left me unsatisfied with the results, especially when it comes to ground vehicles.  As a result, I have turned to GURPS Vehicles from 3e as a guide to creating my own vehicles for Psi-Wars.  While this is more effort than Psi-Wars strictly needs, I did it because I happen to be a fan of GURPS Vehicles and a mourner of its absence in the 4e line-up, and I know that I am not alone in that.

So, for my Fellow-Travellers ($3+ Patrons), I have the first draft of that conversion document.  It was written with an eye towards Psi-Wars specifically; while useful as an example, I'm sure that many people will want to see Vehicles converted to their own specific campaign needs, and with an eye towards that, I have written the Vehicle Commentaries for all Dreamers ($1+ patrons), which discusses my observations on how to update Vehicles from 3e to 4e, and how you can use the same resources I did to do the same.  Some of the answers may not satisfy you, as 4e is less consistent than you might think about vehicles, but it does at least offer you a map that might help.

But I didn't want this to just be about GURPS Vehicles, nor did I want to write something exclusively for Psi-Wars Patrons, so I wanted to stop and discuss GURPS Spaceships, its shortcomings, and its brilliance.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Cross-Post: The Foalkan Clans

So, one of the players of the currently defunct "Tinker Titan Rebel Spy" has been tinkering with some Psi-Wars material, and I wanted to address it, because whenever someone posts Psi-Wars material, I want to give at least a shout-out.  I find a little commentary helps as well.

Here is the post: The Foalkan Clans

Before I dive into any further commentary, I want to address the concept of "adding Psi-Wars material."  I wrote Psi-Wars to be used, and to be useful.  I'm not really a fan of people who thump RPG setting books and say "This is canon!" except in the cases of discussion ("Well, as written, the Akashic Order is a thing and it works like this...") where you want to establish the baseline "as written."  In your own campaigns, you should be able to do as you wish.  But more than that, I wrote it to be explicitly "large."  I see it as a framework in which you should be able to put your own material.  I did this because of my initial frustrations with gaming in the Star Wars universe, in that I found it difficult to see where I could put my own material or have my own adventures (this seems to be a somewhat common complaint, if the new trilogy is any guide).  Thus, if I see people trying to add their own material, then I know my design is succeeding.

When I "finish," I'd like to break out the setting into "degrees of canon," with the "white canon" representing the core truths on which the setting hinges (things like "There is an Empire" and "There is Communion"), "grey canon" which are things that are fairly central but can be customized to serve the campaign pretty easily, things like the state of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant, the moral nature of the Empire, or the exact nature of the Skairos.  Finally, I'd like to have a "black canon," which is entirely optional elements that may or may not be included without issue.  Certain alien races, like the Traders or the cat-people (the "Asrathi") or the Shepherdist faith, are all examples. If you dumped them from your game, nobody would notice. Also, if you added them to the game, they wouldn't interfere.  I'd very much want to throw open Black Canon to whomever wanted to add to it, and hinge open grey canon a crack so people could offer their own interpretations and spins on particular setting elements.

So, this is a very long way of saying: If you write it, I will come.  Not only that, I'll probably try to find some way to enshrine it.

Onto the commentary.

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