Monday, March 18, 2019

Imperial Ground Vehicles, an Introduction

I'm still hard at work on technology, and we're up to vehicles (I debated tackling robots first, and decided on vehicles as they would get us to a playtest faster, and a detailed look at robots might require more than just some stats).  I weighed where to start with vehicles and finally settled on "a little bit of everything," but with a focus on the Valorian Empire.

The Empire of Psi-Wars is heavily modeled on the Empire of Star Wars because it's readily identifiable and also because the Galactic Empire of Star Wars makes quite a bit of sense (in some ways, anyway).  For these reasons, and that it's so central to the setting, it's seen the most work on its vehicles and technology, so for some of you who've been following Psi-Wars intently, this is more of a review than anything new.

I'm still up in the air as to whether I'll do all the Imperial vehicles in one go, or hit every faction's vehicle sets, but I lean towards each faction at a time. In either case, this week will be dedicated to the ground vehicles of the Empire, of which I currently have four.  Some may look at that number and find it low, but these take time, and I don't want to spend a year designing a hundred vehicles that most players won't use anyway.  We should focus on enough vehicles to get a broader idea of how the faction might work, and we can do some bespoke work for specific campaigns if necessary.

I'll start each section with a quick overview of the logic behind the vehicles and how I see each faction using them, and a quick recap of the sort of soldiers I see each faction fielding in a quick loadout.

Imperial Military Doctrines

The Valorian Empire favors offense over defense. It believes in seizing the initiative and destroying opposition so completely that defense is unnecessary, and then relying on intimidation to keep new acquisitions in line. After all, if they did it once, they can do it again.

Like the old Galactic Federation which they claim to be the inheritors of, the Empire concerns itself primarily with space-based power. They leave planetary garrisons, but mainly as a means to crack down on insurgency and to provide security for their own officials. They rule planets from orbit where possible, and they do so with dreadnoughts. While the Empire has a few different dreadnought-class ships the two most important for planetary conquest are the Imperator-Class Dreadnought, the iconic battlecarrier of the Imperial Fleet, and the Legion-Class super-carrier.

The Imperator-Class dreadnought is the swiss-army-knife of the fleet. Commanded by a commodore, it commands Imperial strike groups, patrols borders, looms ominously over a world during diplomatic negotiations and joins up with other large imperial fleets for major military operations. It carries as much fire power as at least two battleships and as many fighters and troops as more reasonably sized carriers. This gives it a variety of options when it comes to battle, but the most common tactics are as follows: first, use fighter complement to seize orbital supremacy; second, use firepower to bombard the planet into submission; third, send in strike teams of imperial soldiers mounted in gunships, supported by strike fighters, to seize whatever objectives are necessary. Using this approach, an Imperator can generally handle a single space station or an unruly city, as long as its objectives are straight forward and can be achieved with an orbital strike. However, it lacks the precision for more subtle forms of war, and it cannot hold a fully populated planet all by itself, nor can it defeat an entrenched world with planetary force screens and orbital artillery.

If facing the entrenched defenses of populous world, the Empire has a few options: it can either make the rubble bounce with its orbital bombardment, or it can deploy a Legion-Class Supercarrier (or several). The Legion-Class dreadnought carries ten times the military complement of an Imperator, including a combined arms vehicular platoons. Generally, once the rest of the Imperial fleet has secured a landing area for the might dreadnought, it descends and disgorges the army within. This includes Vanquisher-class hovertanks, Vanguard-class Infantry Fighting Vehicles, and Eradicator-Class mobile artillery, as well as a considerable amount of infantry. These vehicles provide extremely rapid transportation, allowing the Empire to engage in mobile warfare ranging across the planet. The most common use of this tactic is to land beyond the boundary of a planetary force screen’s protection, and then send highly mobile armored columns to destroy fortifications, seize cities and deactivate defenses so that orbital bombardment can commence, or additional reinforcements can deploy via dropship.

The Empire tends to assume quick operations and tries to seize and maintain the initiative. It expects to see results on the order of days, a month at most. It does not handle extended planetary campaigns well, especially when it comes to planetary logistics chains or keeping soldiers supplied for weeks and weeks.

Imperial Loadouts

The imperial trooper below is typical. Other loadouts exist: assault soldiers will wear heavier plates on their armor, while rangers might wear no plates at all; some soldiers carry alternate underbarrel launchers, and heavy support troopers might carry missile launchers or repeater blasters.

This typical soldier carries sufficient firepower and reloads for a full thirty seconds at maximum rate of fire. He also carries grenades, both heavier hand grenades and underbarrel grenades capable of handling both infantry and light vehicles. He also has enough rations to last for a day if separated from his unit. His armor is sufficient to stop most carbine shots to the torso and pistol fire to the rest of his body. Most such soldiers use either an Infantry Fighting Vehicle or Gunship to get around, and assume that their vehicle will carry additional supplies for them. For most soldiers, this total loadout is medium encumbrance.

Imperial Troopers: +$33,851, +57.85

  • Imperial Combine A-ES3X Modular Guardian System [Body] with Light Carbide Plates; DR 80/50; higher DR to the torso; all DR is doubled against plasma attacks or shaped charges); armor is sealed with helmet; programmable camouflage (UT 99); $18,000, 34 lbs.
  • Imperial Combine D-EH7 “Standard” Helmet [Head] DR 80/50; Higher DR on the skull; all DR doubled against plasma attacks or shaped charges. Provides filtered air and Nightvision HUD (×8 magnifier, +9 Nightvision). $3500, 5 lbs.
  • Imperial Combine 99D Imperial Blaster Carbine [Armor Attachment Point] 5d (5) pi inc; $10,000, 6.6 lbs.
  • Imperial Combine 29D-GL Underbarrel Grenade-Launcher [Imperial Blaster Carbine accessory rail] 6d×4 burn ex; $1000, 2 lbs.
  • Tactical Light [Imperial Blaster Carbine accessory rail] 15 yard beam; $10, 0.25 lbs.
  • 3 Plasma Grenades [Armor Attachment Points] 6d×7 burn ex; $1200, 3 lbs;
  • Utility Belt [Body] Carries up to 10 lbs; $20, 1 lb;
  • 3 UBGL Plasma Grenades [Utility Belt] use listed damage; $30, 1 lb.
  • 3 UBGL Plasma Lance Grenades [Utility Belt] 6d×5 (10) burn; $45, 1 lb.
  • 4 C-Cells [Utility Belt] $40, 2 lb;
  • 3 Meal Rations [Utility Belt] $6, 3 lbs

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