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Space Suit Extravaganza


clarence

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If you need inspiration for your near-future campaigns, there is a Top 10 list of the best sci-fi space suits in The Verge:
 
 
For a more historic approach, check out this magnificent poster of all NASA space suits to date:
 
 
Or if you want the latest fashion in space suit design, take a look at SpaceX's and Boeing's new lightweight suits:
 
 
What are your favourite space suits?
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1683589267_frostbyteloggaFsvarttiny2.jpg.22ebd7480630737e74be9c2c9ed8039f.jpg   FrostByte Books

M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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3 minutes ago, Raleel said:

SpaceX's is very sexy. I like it a bunch.

Any recommendations for using M-Space as a non-space opera game?

Yes.  I do recommend it!  :)

N.B. the term "space opera" has some wiggle room for individual interpretations.  Pretty much everyone considers Lensman to be space opera.  Some will make the same claim for Foundation, or Star Trek; others would bitterly dispute one of those (but not both); some will say that neither is.  Maybe some exemplars of what you do and don't mean, and where you draw that line?  But really, M-Space (and Mythras) is a pretty robust framework.  So even without your reply, I'm pretty confident in my original "Yes."

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5 minutes ago, g33k said:

Yes.  I do recommend it!  :)

N.B. the term "space opera" has some wiggle room for individual interpretations.  Pretty much everyone considers Lensman to be space opera.  Some will make the same claim for Foundation, or Star Trek; others would bitterly dispute one of those (but not both); some will say that neither is.  Maybe some exemplars of what you do and don't mean, and where you draw that line?  But really, M-Space (and Mythras) is a pretty robust framework.  So even without your reply, I'm pretty confident in my original "Yes."

Essentially, maybe Fading Suns or The Expanse. Non-FTL travel and communications.

Part of it is that I'm looking for some specific implementation recommendations. tips and tricks and the like. it's not really my genre, but I'm considering branching out a bit. 

 

also, slightly related, thinking about the warhammer 40k/mythras/pendragon mashup we were discussing on the other board.

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The good thing about Mythras is that it's already quite gritty. Changing the sci-fi tone is really not that difficult.

Most of the difficulties with running hard sci-fi is the GMs knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics – or lack thereof. M-SPACE will not help much there I'm afraid, but if you can get hold of a book or game to get the basic facts right, the rules are quite adaptable. If you have a reasonable grip on hard sci-fi, A Gift From Shamash is a good start. It covers space walks, radiation and a few other handy rules. Highly recommended.

For starship combat, hard sci-fi often turns to long range conflicts of stealth and waiting. And sudden bursts of deadly violence. Unfortunately quite incomprehensible to many players and sometimes outright boring. On the other hand, hard sci-fi works fine without starship combat – it might feel even more realistic without it.

 

1683589267_frostbyteloggaFsvarttiny2.jpg.22ebd7480630737e74be9c2c9ed8039f.jpg   FrostByte Books

M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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1 minute ago, clarence said:

For starship combat, hard sci-fi often turns to long range conflicts of stealth and waiting. And sudden bursts of deadly violence. Unfortunately quite incomprehensible to many players and sometimes outright boring.

Honestly, I think this is an error in modern sci-fi:  It essentially recycles the tropes of 1940s-1980s submarine warfare, just as much of Traveller recycled "age of sail" tropes.

There is often also a tendency in "mil-sci-fi" to just re-tell any modern war-story with a tech gloss:  Gauss Rifles in place of Assault Rifles &c...

I am not entirely sure what would be more realistic... I don't actually have anything better to offer, I'm afraid.

===

WWI-era trench warfare is largely irrelevant in a modern military theater:  Armored artillery & mobility overruled them.  Then air-power became essential.  etc etc etc.  I cannot guess what technologies will lead to what new doctrines; but I AM certain that another century of progress will lead to doctrines that will render today's notions obsolete; which will in turn be rendered obsolete by further tech & newer doctrines; etc.

 

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On 8/29/2017 at 1:45 PM, Raleel said:

SpaceX's is very sexy. I like it a bunch.

Any recommendations for using M-Space as a non-space opera game?

I like the SpaceX and Boeing suits as well.

I plan on running a M-Space game as hard sci-fi, it's pretty easy, things such as a "blaster," are just a colloquial term for a Diode Pumped Alkali Laser, or DPAL; spacecraft, make up some fuel requirements, things such as that. Clarence has seen some of what I have written up, and I plan on using semi-realistic star maps, such as this one I made last weekend:

 

 

Edited by dragoner
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I'm also running M Space in a lower tech style of sci fi. I don't use lasers, instead using the RQ Firearms. Modern and some of the more exotic ones, like Gauss. The ships go a little slow, using a nuclear core reactor. And no psionics. Beyond that,nothing really all that different. Much of what I'm looking for is something like a more advanced Orbital 2100. Or something like The Expanse.

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11 hours ago, clarence said:

The good thing about Mythras is that it's already quite gritty. Changing the sci-fi tone is really not that difficult.

Most of the difficulties with running hard sci-fi is the GMs knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics – or lack thereof. M-SPACE will not help much there I'm afraid, but if you can get hold of a book or game to get the basic facts right, the rules are quite adaptable. If you have a reasonable grip on hard sci-fi, A Gift From Shamash is a good start. It covers space walks, radiation and a few other handy rules. Highly recommended.

For starship combat, hard sci-fi often turns to long range conflicts of stealth and waiting. And sudden bursts of deadly violence. Unfortunately quite incomprehensible to many players and sometimes outright boring. On the other hand, hard sci-fi works fine without starship combat – it might feel even more realistic without it.

 

This is one thing I have a problem with in sci-fi games (currently N.E.W from Russ at EN World, but a few weeks back GUMSHOE'S Ashen Stars). The GM (and the writer) usually has little knowledge of actual physics let alone zero gravity effects and Newton's Third Law so it results in totally unbelieveable effects (from  my point of view). Having dealt with orbital mechanics while writing tracking software for NASA's radar tracking systems I understand how things should work and thrown my hands up in horror when presented with the level of science found in most sci-fi games. I did like the combat system in ICE@s Silent Death and another game that I forget the name of that had post WW2 Allied and NAZI planes/spacecraft ala Iron Sky.

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Nigel

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2 hours ago, nclarke said:

This is one thing I have a problem with in sci-fi games (currently N.E.W from Russ at EN World, but a few weeks back GUMSHOE'S Ashen Stars). The GM (and the writer) usually has little knowledge of actual physics let alone zero gravity effects and Newton's Third Law so it results in totally unbelieveable effects (from  my point of view). Having dealt with orbital mechanics while writing tracking software for NASA's radar tracking systems I understand how things should work and thrown my hands up in horror when presented with the level of science found in most sci-fi games. I did like the combat system in ICE@s Silent Death and another game that I forget the name of that had post WW2 Allied and NAZI planes/spacecraft ala Iron Sky.

So you would be a go-to person for reality checks when designing systems with orbital mechanics?

I take a lot of inspiration for my nascent space setting from video games. Not necessarily things they get right, but things they get wrong for performance or interface reasons.

Elite had little such problems, funny enough. It was games like Wing Commander (mainly Privateer, which didn't railroad your carrier craft from task to task), Freelancer or Egosoft's X series which mostly concentrate on fighter craft combat which ignore things like orbital rotation or which dictate arbitrary speed limits.

Ship kills don't leave debris (too much effort for the graphic and physics engines), but there may be static clusters of debris as navigational obstacles.

 

My first problem with most spaceship designs is their static main thruster. If I was flying a fighter craft with just survivable acceleration, I would want to be able to give maximum negative or lateral acceleration while keeping a target in the sights of my weaponry. Instead we are served fighter plane architecture with an aft main thruster and rigid or mostly rigid front guns/turrets.

If my main weapon is a railgun using the length of my vessel, I want to keep that pointed to the target regardless of my maneuvering.

The Firefly design had turret-mounted main thrusters. And that for an unarmed transporter.

 

In my setting, I opt for an alcubierre-like warp drive for "conventional" space travel, assuming that a tubular near- singularity around the ship (achieved by slowing light speed in Bose-Einstein-Condensates, my take on "you need exotic matter") will be able to disconnect spacetime around the ship from that to its sides. This allows for an almost reactionless drive as seen in most of self-piloted (or group action) space games.

 

If I had to establish a mining colony, I guess I would choose a young star with an aggregation disk that still holds gases and lots of smaller bodies, not yet in equilibrium. Sure, you won't find habitable worlds in this environment, but you will have an abundance of all the stuff that makes worlds habitable without having to deal with a gravity well.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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Every game designer who opts to put space combat into their game should know Newtons' Laws of Motion, after all they've only been around since the late 17th century (350 years) and it's only High School levels of science-y understanding. Of particular note is that the ship should continue along it's original path regardless of the orientation of the ship until a force is applied to change the direction so that it matters little if you have a spinal weapon as the ship doesn't have a pointy end except in 1940's and 50's scifi. Best option is for a globular ship design unless you need to land the ship and even then a shuttle craft is a better bet as it needs much less fuel to descend and re-ascend to orbit than the whole ship and can be made aerodynamic to boot.

 

Nigel

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2 minutes ago, nclarke said:

Every game designer who opts to put space combat into their game should know Newtons' Laws of Motion, after all they've only been around since the late 17th century (350 years) and it's only High School levels of science-y understanding. Of particular note is that the ship should continue along it's original path regardless of the orientation of the ship until a force is applied to change the direction so that it matters little if you have a spinal weapon as the ship doesn't have a pointy end except in 1940's and 50's scifi.

Actually, structural stability might be a reason to have the main thrusters aligned along a spine. More so if on-board gravity is exclusively generated by the acceleration and deceleration of the ship via its reaction drive, although those should also prevent structural warping from acceleration. A manned craft doesn't really need to survive more than 20 g acceleration. Robotic vessels are a different proposition.

Fighter craft would fare better as remote-operated or at least remote-coached unmanned drones, allowing much higher accelerations. It is hard to jam point-to-point laser communication.

Most settings assume the development of artificial shipboard gravity which may double as inertial dampeners so that much higher accelerations than survivable by unprotected bodies can be flown.

Such a technology might lead to reactionless drive variants which might indeed create an acceleration and deceleration behavior similar to submarine movement through water. I have seen Dark Matter technobabbled into such a medium. Ether-sailing 2.0.

2 minutes ago, nclarke said:

Best option is for a globular ship design unless you need to land the ship and even then a shuttle craft is a better bet as it needs much less fuel to descend and re-ascend to orbit than the whole ship and can be made aerodynamic to boot.

Rail-gun-like external accelerators for ships might make spherical designs less effective or too bulky.

Impact shielding is another factor - a spherical ship has a bigger catchment diameter than a needle-shaped ship, increasing the risk for microcollisions and resulting braking radiation even if the point armor absorbs the kinetic impact. Military ships want to minimize their effective diameter, too, unless they can tote near impregnable shields.

An Alcubierre-like drive creating a warp-tunnel will favor short needles with rings holding the generators. Reaction-less drives might warrant a similar geometry.

Shuttlecraft to enter under-developed planetary atmosphere, and space-lifts, ground-based landing-webs (as in Schmitz' Telsey Amberdon novels) or shuttleports for transfer on developed worlds are to be expected in a sensible setting. Habitable ecospheres will be more valuable than mineral extraction or factories, so those will be likely put into orbit or on uninhabitable worlds.

 

Getting back to space suits, these should be weighed against avatar drones for hazardous environments. Operators could enter an immersive VR enhancing their identification with the avatar drones, and possible psychological damage when that avatar is damaged (keeping some sense of personal risk while operating these things).

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

I take a lot of inspiration for my nascent space setting from video games. Not necessarily things they get right, but things they get wrong for performance or interface reasons.

Elite had little such problems, funny enough. It was games like Wing Commander (mainly Privateer, which didn't railroad your carrier craft from task to task), Freelancer or Egosoft's X series which mostly concentrate on fighter craft combat which ignore things like orbital rotation or which dictate arbitrary speed limits.

Children of a Dead Earth http://childrenofadeadearth.com/ bills itself as "The most scientifically accurate video game ever made." It looks interesting, if you buy it, I would be interested to hear how you like it.

Space combat I usually do as roll to hit, roll damage; not hugely exciting, except given the engagement distances, it would probably be seconds of terror after spending hours lining up a shot. I kind of think it would be like old west gunfighters, who could get off the first accurate shot would be the winner. M-Space's conflict pools could be used to represent spending Delta V to match vectors to hit.

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The fairly abstract space combat in GUMSHOE's Ashen Stars worked for me as there is no manoeuvering as such, purely narrative of what actions you take to attack or defend. The description of structural failure of a damaged ship outside of a gravity well was what got me upset.

Aligning main thrusters along a spine has no impact on the orientation of the ship relative to the direction of travel unless you are constantly accelerating or decelerating. If you have reached maximum velocity it doesn't matter which way the ship is oriented as there is no force acting on it. Outside of launch from a planet's gravity well a ship (and the crew) doesn't need to be subjected to high levels of g. If you are in orbit already then you have considerable velocity by virtue of being in orbit and it's merely a case of exerting enough thrust to change the orbit to a transit path to the target and less than one gee is plenty to get that started even if the transit time is dependent upon final velocity at the turn over point..

Unguided projectile weaponry from a railgun-like weapon is unlikely to be that effective as a slight change in velocity of the target will cause the projectile to miss at the kind of ranges we are talking about for space combat. Semi-autonomous projectiles that lock on to a ship's signature, radar cross-section or wake would most likely be the most effective weapon.

The fuel load required to constantly accelerate to provide gravity means that this not really a feasible solution. Spinning the ship or part of it to provide gravity will likely be the way forward until we can upload consciousness into a body not affected by loss of muscle mass (and other issues)  in zero gravity.

Nigel

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this is the part that concerns me the most about running a game like this. I have an aerospace engineer in my group (though he hasn't done any in 20 years), and I don't follow this genre. There would either be many nits picked, or there would be a incongruity and inconsistency that would make it not fun for him. On the other hand I have players who would tun out the second you said "aligning the main thrusters along the spine" :)

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The key to doing it right is keeping it simple, such as for all the games I have run, things like a trapped door will still catch the players, no matter how high tech their solutions might be. Also flexibility is good, if the players catch you out, good, let them win one, is it will only move things along to the next situation.

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4 hours ago, Raleel said:

this is the part that concerns me the most about running a game like this. I have an aerospace engineer in my group (though he hasn't done any in 20 years), and I don't follow this genre. There would either be many nits picked, or there would be a incongruity and inconsistency that would make it not fun for him. On the other hand I have players who would tun out the second you said "aligning the main thrusters along the spine" :)

I've had this issue before and I've sat down with the person and told them "I am not an aerospace engineer and this is just a game. Nitpicking will interrupt the game and is a really good way to get me to end the game. Just sit back and enjoy it."

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1 minute ago, Opiyel said:

I've had this issue before and I've sat down with the person and told them "I am not an aerospace engineer and this is just a game. Nitpicking will interrupt the game and is a really good way to get me to end the game. Just sit back and enjoy it."

In other words: "Lean back and think of England." I'd be willing to let you and the rest of the group enjoy the game. And I'd likely opt out.

 

A good part of my fascination with SF lies in the S for Science. As a chemist, I don't claim to understand the intricacies of astrophysics.

I'd be willing to go for a Space 1889 setting with ether between the planets. Just another gobbledigeek for Dark Matter or similar "we can't explain this behavior, so we invent some phlebotinium". It doesn't have to be hard SF. But it should allow pursuing experiments with the phlebotinium, pushing the envelope of technology or theory.

I am not so good with the ugly sister of handwavium, the stuff called whocaresium.

If you state that the setting is Star Wars or Star Trek, I know the amount of handwavium I have to expect. I know I have to deal with vitalism, laser weapons with tensile strength, muzzle speeds of arrows or the settings "stun" or "vaporize" and discrete fields with sharp edges and similar unobtainiums.

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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As an engineer, I can say with 100% accuracy that things and people, even the best of them, will go and be wrong. When people get too picky, I usually cycle through two thought processes: "are they being honest, or passive aggressive?" Then I'll break it down from there, this is real life as well, and I have played games with aerospace guys (though actual rocket people are propulsion engineers), and generally they are good to go. Surprisingly few are into SF though, that's just the way it is.

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At the same time, it's unreasonable to expect a GM to have to essentially learn rocket science just so I can run a hardish sci fi game without getting harassed by my players. There is a certain point where trying to keep things as hard as possible becomes incredibly tedious and gets in the way of hosting a game, and frankily, goes beyond my education. I failed Calculus 3 twice before finally sliding by with a D. You can't expect me to solve for delta vs for every space ship out there.

And I'm not really into science fantasy like Star Wars. I do enjoy stuff like The Expanse or 2001 that presents itself as grittier and harder so I prefer to run it like that. The last thing I want to worry about when preparing and running a game is getting yelled at in the middle of my game for not understanding aerospace. It's one of the reasons I don't run Traveller for a lot of my college friends. They all did aerospace and one works for NASA and all get extremely offended at any little mistake dealing with it. The moment I brought up an Alcubierre Drive because it 'sounded cool', my game came to a grinding halt as everyone argued over why it wasn't right. It's simply not fun to deal with as a GM. 

I get not liking handwavium, and I'm totally down for researching stuff to build a sense of verisimilitude. But there's only so much a GM can do, and with what we know about space and physics always changing, it's not a good excuse to derail the game over nitpicks and mistakes. It's why my motto is to keep it real enough to give a sense of the setting and genre, without it bogging down the game.

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You're right, you should not have to be an expert in the field, and that's why I think it's passive aggressive behavior, they are trying to make the game grind to a halt. If they were being reasonable, they would let it slide. Some people just like arguing over minutiae too. However, if someone thinks I'm going to stop and do orbital mechanics calcs for every minor correction burn, I am not, no way. I don't expect every role player to have a masters in acting, so when I make mistakes, they can cut me slack. Also what can be highly frustrating is when someone criticizes the tech, and they are wrong, it is realistic, except they are then even more angry.

Edited by dragoner
typos
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I spent 5 years in the army, and while I have no particular pride associated with that, it bugs the crap out of me when military matters are misrepresented in fiction. And they are misrepresented about 99.99% of the time. Still, if I let that alter my enjoyment of the game/tv show/movie/book/whatever, I'd have very little available that I could enjoy. For instance: the various entries in the Stargate franchise all present a borderline absurd representation of military matters (in some cases they cross that border into the thoroughly absurd), but I still love those shows. You see, they aren't about the military. Likewise, unless your rpg campaign is actually centered around the players designing power plants for space craft, all of that is irrelevant to the story.

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