SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

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Simon_Jester
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SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-22 02:33pm

I've decided to put up this thread specifically for talking about game rules- and metarules, questions about policy rather than about numbers. I'm going to break up my own idea for how to set up the rules into chunks. This is because some bits (carrier rules) are more likely to provoke argument than others, without being essential to how the game runs- we could change them without changing anything else fundamental.

The first chunk I'm putting up is just a set general principles for us to keep in mind- rules that are not quantifiable. I don't think they'll encounter a lot of disputes, but then again I might be unpleasantly surprised.

After that comes the nation creation rules, on the other hand, are a lot more important. It would be a shame if ideas about nation creation got lost in bickering about carrier rules.

For each chunk after the first one, I'm going to make a pair of posts. The first post will contain a summed-up version of the ruleset, more suitable for quick reference or for people who are already familiar with the very similar SDNW4 rules. The second post will be a lot wordier, and will contain a more full explanation of how things are supposed to work, and more suggestions.


If you want to, go ahead and say "to hell with your rules, we should be doing this totally differently." I don't deny or question anyone's right to do that. But I do ask you to come up with a better idea of your own, rather than just telling me to go back to square one and start over without help. And please bear in mind that I'm going to be reluctant to rewrite half the game system on one person's say-so, or on a spur-of-the-moment whim.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-22 02:41pm

General Rules



Rule Number Zero

DON’T BE A MORON, AND DON’T BE A JACKASS.

This is the single most important rule. Most of you know how to do it. If you do not know how to avoid being stupid or obnoxious, I feel sorry for you. If you can’t help but be stupid or obnoxious in the game, then we have a problem. People will ask you to modify your behavior. If you don’t modify your behavior, you will make yourself unwelcome, and ultimately be asked to leave.

Doing things other players don’t like is not wrong, in and of itself. Indeed, the game wouldn’t get far without healthy conflict. You are encouraged to come up with interesting issues that bring you into conflict with some (or all) of your neighbors, if you feel any urge to do so. But these issues should be interesting, and they should be resolved in an amicable way if humanly possible. We do not want or need bad blood between players.

So if you do things other players don’t like, have sensible in-game reasons for them. Be willing to listen to reason and consider the other person’s point of view. Do not be arrogant or dismissive toward your fellow player. Be ready and able to accept that your nation cannot and will not get 100% of what it wants 100% of the time.

If you cannot follow Rule Number Zero, you shouldn’t be playing the game. Please save us the trouble of having to deal with yet another moron or prick, and go away and leave the rest of us alone.

Do I make myself clear? Good.

Addendum: Rule 0.1
Rabid wrote:You know, if there's anything I learned in 5+ years of playing this kind of game full of role-play and player interaction, is to Never Reject Someone Else's Role-play, however obnoxious or annoying it can be to you as a player, but to take it from an in-universe perspective and to make your own Characters/Empires interact with their RP in a manner most faithful to your own RP.

Trust me, if you just play the game and don't block yourself over your initial dislikes, you can take any shitty role-play and turn it into something grandiose. It only takes a bit of work and imagination.

In short, don't reject what is Different, and use it to inject life into the game. If not, well... I think Shroom and Stark and my humble person have ranted enough time about these "concentration camps of the mind" for you to see where would lie my objections... You'd condemn yourself to always play the same game, full of the same bland stereotypes of Space UN / United Federation of Planets / whatever.

Yeah.

If you really don't like what someone is doing with their stuff in the game, you can mock their nation's silly habits, or simply not interact with their nation because you can't think of a way to do it. But don't actively freak out and attack their nation simply for being strange. That way lies hypocrisy, stupidity, and narrow-mindedness.


Rule Number One: Use Some Imagination

Be flexible, imaginative, and creative, in describing what your nation and people do among the stars. Try to think outside boxes. Without any prejudice to the ships of NASA, I can at least partly agree with the spirit of:

“I want magical entities, vibrating vehicles
To prolong to be to it abyss
Like fish of a timeless ocean. I want
Jewels, mechanics as perfect as the heart...

I want rockets complex and secret,
Humming-bird ornithopters,
Sipping the thousand-year-old nectar of dwarf stars... "

-Alejandro Jodorowsky

Of course, if what really fires your imagination is a bit generic, then such is life, but try to have something unconventional, some great question that your culture addresses, some conflict that makes your characters interesting.


Rule Number Two: Be Communicative

SDNW5 is a collaborative game. Most of the good things that come out of the game will be the fruit of interaction between players. Even if one person does all the writing, a lot of brainstorming and encouragement comes from other people. And the very best stories will usually be those written jointly by multiple people, about the interaction between many nations. Collaboration is the life-blood of the game.

To have collaboration, we need communication. People must talk to each other, by whatever means suit their needs. The OOC threads exist for all kinds of communication between players- suggestions about ongoing storylines, comments on what players have put up in the game, questions about someone else’s nation or characters, criticism of player actions that are seen as unreasonable, and anything else that can be imagined. Expect posts to be made in the OOC threads much more frequently than in the IC threads- in SDNW4, the ratio of OOC posts to IC posts was something like 5:1 or more.

If you have ANY grievance with another player, you are encouraged to air it by raising it in the OOC threads, rather than sitting on it and letting it fester, or grumbling only in private. We are all adults or reasonably mature adolescents here; we can talk about things like grown-ups.


Rule Number Three: Points are Points are Points

The battlefield effectiveness of any military unit is measured in ‘points.’ It does not matter what the unit is, whether it is an Imperial Star Destroyer clone, a starship Enterprise clone, or a spacegoing oared galley. Points are points are points. Any arguments of the form “my X-point unit should beat your X-point unit because gigatons,” “because missiles are superior to beams,” “because beams are superior to missiles,” or any other such argument will have the moderator(s) landing on it like a ton of spherical masses of iron.

The role and goal of the point system is to provide a compatible, workable method for comparing all possible ways for your nation to impose its will or resist having others’ will imposed on it. It does not favor any country over any other country, or any way of doing things over any other way. The reason we use it is because we want freedom to follow Rule One when it comes to defining our nation’s defenses and weapons.

A military unit has a point value if it is risked in combat to a meaningful degree, and its military point value is proportionate to its own effect on the enemy's armed forces. Pieces of military hardware that are not risked in combat, or cannot inflict any harm on the enemy by being present and used on the field, do not have a point value, even if they are useful to the military at large.

“Points” can be assigned to things that an ordinary person might consider strange or ineffectual, well outside the norms of military science fiction. A shuttle full of enlightened space philosophers who telepathically communicate with attacking troops and convince them to lay down their weapons might have point value by their effect on a battlefield, for instance.


Rule Number Four: Most Rules Are Guidelines

All the rules below, with exceptions I explicitly state, are in some sense ‘guidelines.’ The advantage of following them is that you can design a nation for yourself with little difficulty, without having to pester game moderators, and automatically get something that is more or less ‘fair’ compared to what other people are doing. It gives us a baseline and standard of comparison.

However, if you have a cool idea that doesn’t fit within these rules, feel free to bring it up with the mods, bounce it around the OOC threads, and generally try and play with it. You are encouraged to be creative. The rules exist to make things easier for the average player, not to be a straitjacket for the extraordinary one.


Rule Number Five: Micronations

Players will, barring strange things, be restricted to a single ‘major’ nation in the game. People who don’t expect to be able to participate regularly, or who have a troubled history in other STGODs, are advised against having a major nation in SDNW5 at all.

However, ANYONE who wants to participate in the game is free to create for themselves a ‘micronation.’ This is a polity much smaller and weaker than a major nation, one which is confined to a single sector, and likely a single system. This offers more flexibility in storylines; it was used successfully in SDNW4. People who already own a major nation can still invent micronations- ask around about the Feelipeens and the Outlands if you want examples of this being successful.

A micronation should have very limited military forces, especially in terms of power projection. Players are cautioned against making up micronations just so that they have allies in the event of a conflict- micronations should have their own independent and interesting existence, preferably one that can act as a backdrop for more than one player.

Normally, a micronation should be assembled using a few NCP. A lot of good micronations will be worth 1 NCP or less- single-system or sub-planet polities of limited economic strength. If you don’t know what NCPs mean, you will in a moment.
Last edited by Simon_Jester on 2012-04-02 02:11pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-23 03:52pm

OK, no immediate response to this. I want to get my suggested version of the nation creation rules out quickly for the sake of people who are seriously interested in starting the game. We can settle details about interstellar travel and the military later and more slowly, but I want people to be able to roll up countries in a hurry.

First the short form, for those of us who already remember and understand the SDNW4 rules. The only really long explanations in the short form are for areas where I'm suggesting a rule change.

Then the long form, for those of us who want refreshers, or didn't play SDNW4. Again, anyone who wants to debate or question any point in these rules is encouraged to do so.
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SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-23 03:53pm

Nation Creation Rules: Short Form


Nation Creation Points

Typically, the NCP value available for nation creation at game start will be determined semi-randomly, by a roll of 25+2d6.* This is more than in SDNW4, partly because I'm compensating for the fact that home sectors are not free (Sorchus's idea, as I recall), and partly because why not?

Your NCP roll is made by the moderator, not by yourself. Otherwise we're going to have a whole lot of people handing themselves 35 NCPs.

The number of NCPs you have to build a nation with really only matters at game start. Once you’ve laid out how you want your country to look, you can forget about it.

*Any case-by-case exception would need an extraordinarily good reason; I don’t expect to hear one.


Gross Domestic Product

Annual GDP is a measure of your nation's economic and military strength. You get GDP from the territories and other valuable assets your nation controls. You get those by spending NCPs. GDP is measured in “$” and “$/year.” The $ is an arbitrary unit of wealth, need not represent any actual currency, and need not even be internally consistent from one nation to another.

If for some reason you want to keep your nation’s GDP a secret, possibly so that you can hide a portion of your military strength, please contact a moderator. It is advised that you have a good and compelling reason to convince the moderator that it will be better for the game for you to be able to keep that secret.


Things to Spend NCPs On: Sectors

The main thing most players will likely spend NCPs on is buying sectors- tiles on the map, which are less but not enormously less than 100 light years across. The NCP cost of a sector is proportionate to its contribution to your nation’s GDP.

Here are the list of sector point costs, GDP value, and a suggested approximate population. The sectors are defined pretty much the way they were in SDNW4, so if you're familiar with that, you won't need anyone to tell you what a "Core Sector" is. The long form post contains an explanation, though.

Home Sector:
7 NCP, 14000$ GDP, ~50 billion people
(You can only have one home sector. You may choose to have none.)

Core Sector:
5 NCP, 10000$ GDP, ~35-40 billion people

Midrange Sector:
3 NCP, 6000$ GDP, ~20-25 billion people

Colony Sector:
1 NCP, 2000$ GDP, >1 billion people (~6-10 billion? more?)


For a generic nation, a single sector is assumed to contain about five major star systems, with varying levels of economic development that depend on the value of the sector. Each system is assumed to contain roughly one habitable planet: zero or two are acceptable, three is probably a bit much. Or the system might be populated by a constellation of space habitats, or a combination of planets and habitats.

For the sake of giving people a starting point, I have outlined a description of each type of sector. This is based on the assumption of five systems per sector, each containing at least one world with significant carrying capacity. If you wish to vary from the outline a bit, that’s fine; if you want to outline a lot, please contact me and we can talk it over.

The GDP value and NCP cost of a sector are not negotiable. You can add to them with GDP boosts, but it costs extra NCP, more on that later.

The suggested population figures are more or less arbitrary: change them if you like. You will probably need to revise upward if you want to create a “Trantor” feel for any of your planets; you may want to revise downward if your people need an unusual amount of living room.

The number of systems and planets can be revised, either up or down, if you feel it necessary, but there are two warnings.

One: I do not advise concentrating your sector down to a mere one or two heavily populated star systems. This practice has a bad history in SDNW4 and is not encouraged in SDNW5.

Two: If you place very large populations and numerous inhabited systems in a single sector, you may look rather silly compared to someone who uses the default numbers and manages to produce the same GDP from a far smaller population and territory. But it’s your call.


Things to Spend NCPs On: Other

GDP Boost: 1 NCP, +2000$ GDP

This boost can be applied to any single sector to increase its GDP. Please don’t pile too many into one sector, unless you have a good reason.

Trade Route: 1 NCP, 2000$ GDP for you, 500$ GDP for ‘partner’

This is an optional mechanic for representing small, compact states which nonetheless have strong economies thanks to external trade. Whenever you buy a trade route, you must designate a ‘partner’ nation on the receiving end of the trade route. You cannot make another player’s nation a trading partner against their will, though they will usually be wise to agree unless they have a good reason not to. The ‘partner’ gets some free GDP.

A trade route represents a large-scale, routine movement of valuables from your nation to some other nation. Exactly what is being traded, and why, is up to you. The sale of these valuables enriches your nation, and slightly enriches the partner nation. Notably, a bilateral trade route (Nation A spends one NCP on a trade route to B, who spends one NCP on a trade route to A) is a good deal for both parties.

I ask that you not have too absurdly many trade routes, unless for some reason you want your nation’s export revenue to make up most of its GDP. Doing this can have bad consequences.

As in real life, enemies or random events can interfere with trade routes, which can cost a nation money if it’s allowed to get out of hand. Ships can be intercepted, competing markets can open up, and so on. A nation that relies heavily on trade will want to be careful about protecting its foreign interests. Nations with more tightly integrated, independent domestic economies (less reliant on trade) have fewer economic hostages to fortune.

Warp Gate: 1 NCP, 1000$ GDP for you, "BAMF!" special features

Warp gates are large, fixed, ridiculously expensive, power-hungry installations that let you teleport ships across multi-sector distances. Gates in normal operation are transceivers; there must be a gate on both ends of the warp transit.

A warp gate can transport nearly arbitrary volumes of cargo, including major battlefleets, over ‘short’ distances (~3 sector widths). This is expensive, but fast, compared to sending the cargo by hyperspace. Commerce through warp gates provides a significant source of revenue and economic opportunities.

In normal operation, warp gates cannot move nearly so much cargo over longer distances. Commercially, long-range warp travel is only used for high-value cargo, passenger transport, and the like. For military purposes, ships below XY points can be sent via warp gate.

It’s at least physically possible to move larger cargoes through a pair of distant warp gates, but this is a laborious, difficult thing to set up even with the owners of both gates collaborating. Obstacles can include extensive survey work, technobabble, alignment problems, technobabble, major gate downtime for specialized refits, and technobabble.

Bear in mind that while warp gates may look like an incredibly useful piece of military technology, and to an extent they are, they represent a single point of failure in your strategy. They can be blown up, and are ridiculously expensive to replace.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-23 04:02pm

Nation Creation Rules: Long Form


Now, On To Nation Creation Rules: Nation Creation Points

NCPs are meant to give you a tool for constructing an interstellar polity, outlining its strength in basic terms for later use. As you design your nation, you spend NCP to ‘buy’ territory and economic assets.

Typically, the NCP value available for nation creation at game start will be determined semi-randomly, by a roll of 25+2d6.* Therefore, the least powerful major nations in the game should be around 70% as strong as the most powerful ones. This is meant to create some minor variance in strength between nations, without making it safe or easy for one powerful nation to bully other, smaller ones.

Your NCP roll is made by the moderator, not by yourself. Otherwise we're going to have a whole lot of people handing themselves 35 NCPs.

The number of NCPs you have to build a nation with really only matters at game start. Once you’ve laid out how you want your country to look, you can forget about it.

*Any case-by-case exception would need an extraordinarily good reason; I don’t expect to hear one.


Gross Domestic Product

Your nation’s annual GDP is used as a convenient substitute for overall economic, productive, and military strength. Nations with exotic economies (such as an organic hive mind or an ‘elder race’ of psychically enlightened philosophers) might not actually have “GDP” in the conventional sense of the term, being above (or beneath) such silly abstractions as ‘money.’ But any nation will have some kind of limits on its resources, and using GDP as a bookkeeping convention works as well as anything else I can think of on short notice.

You get GDP from the territories and other valuable assets your nation controls. You get those by spending NCPs.

GDP is measured in “$” and “$/year.” The $ is an arbitrary unit of wealth, need not represent any actual currency, and need not even be internally consistent from one nation to another.

If for some reason you want to keep your nation’s GDP a secret, possibly so that you can hide a portion of your military strength, please contact a moderator. It is advised that you have a good and compelling reason to convince the moderator that it will be better for the game for you to be able to keep that secret.


Things to Spend NCPs On: Sectors

The main thing most players will likely spend NCPs on is buying sectors- tiles on the map, which are less but not enormously less than 100 light years across. The NCP cost of a sector is proportionate to its contribution to your nation’s GDP.

Each sector represents a 3D volume of space claimed by your nation, extending some indefinite distance ‘above’ and ‘below’ the plane of the map (it is assumed that there is little of interest to be found if you go far out of the plane). It contains many stars, but only a small minority of them are well-placed, resource-rich, and otherwise desirable enough to attract major populations.

Your sectors are probably, but need not be, contiguous- they can be separated by open gulfs of space, though there are obvious problems with having big gaps in your empire.

For a generic nation, a single sector is assumed to contain about five major star systems, with varying levels of economic development that depend on the value of the sector. Each system is assumed to contain roughly one habitable planet: zero or two are acceptable, three is probably a bit much. Or the system might be populated by a constellation of space habitats, or a combination of planets and habitats.

For the sake of giving people a starting point, I have outlined a description of each type of sector. This is based on the assumption of five systems per sector, each containing at least one world with significant carrying capacity. If you wish to vary from the outline a bit, that’s fine; if you want to outline a lot, please contact me and we can talk it over.

The GDP value and NCP cost of a sector are not negotiable. You can add to them with GDP boosts, but it costs extra NCP, more on that later.

The suggested population figures are more or less arbitrary: change them if you like. You will probably need to revise upward if you want to create a “Trantor” feel for any of your planets; you may want to revise downward if your people need an unusual amount of living room.

The number of systems and planets can be revised, either up or down, if you feel it necessary, but there are two warnings.

One: I do not advise concentrating your sector down to a mere one or two heavily populated star systems. This practice has a bad history in SDNW4 and is not encouraged in SDNW5.

Two: If you place very large populations and numerous inhabited systems in a single sector, you may look rather silly compared to someone who uses the default numbers and manages to produce the same GDP from a far smaller population and territory. But it’s your call.

Now to list the types of sectors:

Home Sector: 7 NCP, 14000$ GDP, ~50 billion people

A “home sector” is the economic, political, and military ‘heartland’ of its nation, containing its seat of government and its longest-settled worlds. If your nation started out with people living on a single planet, that planet is probably somewhere in the home sector. Each of the five systems in the sector has a heavily developed ‘main’ world, terraformed to the standards of the species, with carrying capacity roughly equal to that of Earth, if not greater. Secondary worlds in the same system may be partly terraformed and inhabited (in Sol system, the obvious candidate is Mars), and may well be significant populations on space stations, barren moons, or asteroids.

Home sectors will usually have the highest tier of infrastructure, architecture, and a culture that is deeply typical of the national norm. If your country has megaprojects like space elevators, orbital rings, or giant hollowed out asteroid habitats, this is the most likely place to find them. A home sector system will also have strong, mature fixed defenses against military attack. Assaulting a system in a major nation’s home sector is a job for a tough, well prepared fighting force, and not to be undertaken carelessly.

You can only have one home sector. You don’t have to have any if you don’t want to.

Core Sector: 5 NCP, 10000$ GDP, ~35-40 billion people

A “core sector” is extensively developed, but less so than a home sector. Each of the five main systems in the sector has a heavily developed main world; there is probably not a near-terraformed secondary world. There may very well be space habitats or asteroid colonies in the system, but they are not so large and old as the ones you might see in a home sector.

By and large, a core sector will still enjoy all the major amenities and ways of life typical to the nation; the difference between core and home sectors is mostly one of degree, not one of kind.

Core sector systems will have strong defenses, reasonably impressive and costly infrastructure, and extensive, integrated economies.

Midrange Sector: 3 NCP, 6000$ GDP, ~20-25 billion people

A “midrange sector” is developed, but not extensively developed. The five major systems will all (on average) have a world with a significant population, but some of these worlds may be incompletely terraformed, or have less carrying capacity than Earth.

This being THE FUTURE (TM), the regional economy is sufficient to support a ‘mature’ lifestyle for the populace by the standards of your civilization. But the sector probably doesn’t have all that much importance to the national economy at large. A midrange sector’s economy may also be ‘enclaved,’ internally core-like but contributing relatively little to the overall national strength.

Defenses of a midrange system will be relatively light, but good enough to deter all but the most determined raiders.

Colony Sector: 1 NCP, 2000$ GDP, > 1 billion people (~6-10 billion? Lots more?)

A “colony sector” is not fully developed. It is likely that major worlds in this sector are still undergoing terraforming, with large tracts of wilderness or wasteland. If the colony worlds are more heavily populated, they probably live under conditions inferior to those of the core worlds.

Colony systems are lightly defended; any capital ship or raiding squadron presents a significant threat to the system. Major economic activities are limited- resource extraction is common, heavy industry is not, barring specific, concentrated exceptions.

This can also represent recently integrated conquests with a large population, but where the local economy was damaged by war or plundering- a ‘colony’ in the sense of Spanish Mexico, rather than British Australia.


Things to Spend NCPs On: Other

GDP Boost: 1 NCP, +2000$ GDP

This boost can be applied to any single sector to increase its GDP. Please don’t pile too many into one sector, unless you have a good reason. This can represent a sector with more inhabited major systems than usual, systems with more population, unusually wealthy worlds, deposits of unique, special resources, caches of Precursor artifacts, cosmic good vibrations, the summer palace-world of Space Bill Gates, magic portals that rain goodies, or any other thing you choose that tends to increase local real estate values.

Trade Route: 1 NCP, 2000$ GDP for you, 500$ GDP for ‘partner’

This is an optional mechanic for representing small, compact states which nonetheless have strong economies thanks to external trade. Whenever you buy a trade route, you must designate a ‘partner’ nation on the receiving end of the trade route. You cannot make another player’s nation a trading partner against their will, though they will usually be wise to agree unless they have a good reason not to. The ‘partner’ gets some free GDP.

A trade route represents a large-scale, routine movement of valuables from your nation to some other nation. Exactly what is being traded, and why, is up to you. The sale of these valuables enriches your nation, and slightly enriches the partner nation. Notably, a bilateral trade route (Nation A spends one NCP on a trade route to B, who spends one NCP on a trade route to A) is a good deal for both parties.

I ask that you not have too absurdly many trade routes, unless for some reason you want your nation’s export revenue to make up most of its GDP. Doing this can have bad consequences.

As in real life, enemies or random events can interfere with trade routes, which can cost a nation money if it’s allowed to get out of hand. Ships can be intercepted, competing markets can open up, and so on. A nation that relies heavily on trade will want to be careful about protecting its foreign interests. Nations with more tightly integrated, independent domestic economies (less reliant on trade) have fewer economic hostages to fortune.

Warp Gate: 1 NCP, 1000$ GDP for you, "BAMF!" special features

Warp gates are large, fixed, ridiculously expensive, power-hungry installations that let you teleport ships across multi-sector distances. Gates in normal operation are transceivers; there must be a gate on both ends of the warp transit.

A warp gate can transport nearly arbitrary volumes of cargo, including major battlefleets, over ‘short’ distances (~3 sector widths). This is expensive, but fast, compared to sending the cargo by hyperspace. Commerce through warp gates provides a significant source of revenue and economic opportunities.

In normal operation, warp gates cannot move nearly so much cargo over longer distances. Commercially, long-range warp travel is only used for high-value cargo, passenger transport, and the like. For military purposes, ships below XY points can be sent via warp gate.

It’s at least physically possible to move larger cargoes through a pair of distant warp gates, but this is a laborious, difficult thing to set up even with the owners of both gates collaborating. Obstacles can include extensive survey work, technobabble, alignment problems, technobabble, major gate downtime for specialized refits, and technobabble.

Bear in mind that while warp gates may look like an incredibly useful piece of military technology, and to an extent they are, they represent a single point of failure in your strategy. They can be blown up, and are ridiculously expensive to replace.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-25 02:03pm

Ahem.

Clarification: trade routes need not be attached to any particular sector. They don't represent a thing or group of things located at a place the way GDP boosts do, they represent commerce and things moving around throughout your space and your trade partner's space. What you (eventually) need for your trade route is a partner; that will be sorted out after we have a map.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-25 03:31pm

I was hoping to avoid putting this stuff up for longer. I am NOT trying to short-circuit rules discussions or discourage people from disagreeing with me. But I am honestly not hearing anything whatsoever that even hints at a problem with the rules, and when people are looking for more information on how the game works rather than less, I don't know what else to do.


Since it doesn't seem like anyone is actually all that interested in discussing the nation creation rules, and since questions related to travel are already arising, I'm going to put up a section on interstellar travel and communications. Here we needed some rules in SDNW4 because it has so much to do with interaction.

If you have a really great story idea that involves ignoring these rules, talk to me. These guidelines are here to prevent abuse from the poor player, and to provide a guide-rope for the average player. They are not meant to be a straitjacket on the good player.

Anyway, I'm going to do the "short form, long form" thing again.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-25 03:48pm

Interstellar Travel Rules: Short Form


What kind of engines a ship uses to move slower than light doesn’t really matter for game purposes. For that matter, exactly how a ship moves FTL isn’t important, but for the sake of uniformity, we’re better off with some kind of standard for ship speeds and how well the ships can handle navigational hazards. If you want your ships to be a special exception to the general rules, please contact a moderator.

Exact operating principles of a drive are largely up to you; what matters is how they work, and that ships from different nations are on a roughly equal footing when it comes to their ability to travel and interact with each other.

Heim-Droscher Drive

This works (nearly) just like SDNW4. Theoretical maximum speed is 53.4c; practical speeds are lower than this.

Heim drives behave strangely in close proximity to sharp gravitational field gradients. The fields around a star at significant fractions of an AU are safe. But getting too close to an Earthlike planet is inadvisable, especially on an approach trajectory.

It is possible to equip the same vessel with both Heim drive and hyperdrive. But both drives are bulky enough, and have enough conflicting engineering requirements, that ‘dual-drive’ ships suffer a high mass penalty. The norm for modern shipping is to use the much faster hyperdrive for interstellar travel, while relying on sublight engines for interplanetary travel.

Hyperspace

Hyperdrive ALSO works pretty much just like in SDNW4.

(If you want to use different terms or technobabble than I'm using to describe hyperspace travel, that's fine; what matters is that ships should be able to interact with each other on equal terms and no one should have a huge speed advantage or disadvantage without their consent)

Modern hyperdrive speeds average at around one day per sector-width under typical operating conditions. Ships designed for unusual speed may improve on normal travel times by a modest margin; ships which are especially slow or badly maintained will underperform.

Certain paths or ‘lanes’ through hyperspace permit relatively faster and smoother travel than others.

Ships moving through hyperspace create characteristic ‘wakes’ of radiation which are detectable in principle. The canny captain and naval engineer may reduce or mask their ship’s signature by a variety of stratagems and design features.

Hyperdrive ships suffer from problems with gravitational field gradients similar to those experienced under Heim drive, but to a greater degree. The unsafe zone for hyperdrive travel around a star varies depending on a number of parameters; nearly without exception, it extends well outside the habitable zone of the star, with a radius measured in hundreds of millions of kilometers. In general, ships must abandon hyperspace before making final approach to centers of habitation by normal means.

Hyperwave

The ‘default’ method of FTL communication uses methods related to hyperdrive travel to transmit signals known as ‘hyperwave.’ Concepts like jamming, signals intercepts, emissions control can all be applied, if this is useful to your purposes as a story-maker and player.

How fast is hyperwave? Very fast, thank you for asking.

(Calling it “hyperwave” is not obligatory, something like “subspace” or any other technobabbly term works, and if you want another means of communication based on entirely different principles like carefully modulating the ability of bad news to travel faster than light, that’s OK. I’m just laying this out as a widely usable option)

Shoals

Certain volumes of hyperspace known as “shoals” present barriers to navigation and (to a lesser extent) communication. This, too, works pretty much just like in SDNW4.

Shoals are hard to travel through in hyperdrive, due to high energy density, technobabble, unpredictable curvature in the higher dimensions, and technobabble. For the same reasons, sensor resolution, reliability, and range is decreased, and hyperwave communications are difficult, especially communication from or to mobile platforms- fixed antenna arrays can compensate more effectively.

On average, travel through shoals proceeds at half normal speed. Wear and tear on drives will be significant, requiring more frequent maintenance and refurbishment. Random accidents can happen to ships moving through shoal space at speed, especially without excellent navigational charts. Good charts help.

Shoal density varies- some regions are merely bad for navigation, while others are practically suicide to navigate anywhere except a handful of chokepoints.

Hyperspace Interception

Hyperspace interception ALSO works pretty much just like in SDNW4. There are two major ways to do it: interdiction fields, and ship-to-ship interceptions.

Interdictor fields are generated by large, effectively stationary arrays. They create a spherical or conical volume of interference in which hyperspace travel is dangerous if not impossible, similar to the unsafe zone around a stellar body. The zone is limited in size- the main applications are to control access along favored navigation routes (‘checkpoints,’ which are enforced more by the owner’s fleet than by inability to fly around the checkpoint) or to further impede enemy access to a defended star system.

One hyper-capable vessel can be used to intercept another. This requires a close-range rendevous, in which the attacker forms some kind of interaction with the target ship. The interaction can be force-field based, a combination of tractors and/or pressor beams, an interlocking of hyperfields, or even physical brute force grappling systems. Once this is done, the attacking ship or ships attempt to force themselves and the target both out of hyperspace. This is difficult and hard on all hyperdrives involved. The more massive and energetic side usually wins the struggle, with rare exceptions when one ship is especially designed for interceptions.

After forcing the target out of hyperspace, the attacker may proceed with business as usual (shooting the target, being shot by the target, threatening to shoot the target, etc.)
Last edited by Simon_Jester on 2012-03-25 03:50pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-25 03:49pm

Interstellar Travel Rules: Long Form


Interstellar Travel

In the nation creation rules, we just covered how to travel through warp gates- but warp gates are the fast, expensive option. What’s the normal option?

What kind of engines a ship uses to move slower than light doesn’t really matter for game purposes. For that matter, exactly how a ship moves FTL isn’t important, but for the sake of uniformity, we’re better off with some kind of standard for ship speeds and how well the ships can handle navigational hazards. If you want your ships to be a special exception to the general rules, please contact a moderator.

Exact operating principles of a drive are largely up to you; what matters is how they work, and that ships from different nations are on a roughly equal footing when it comes to their ability to travel and interact with each other.

Heim-Droscher Drive

This is the first form of FTL drive to be developed by typical intelligent species. For humanity, the process of development took well over a hundred years. The original 20th century Heim-Droscher theory contained numerous quackeries and mistaken assumptions, but some portions of the mathematical approach were later salvaged and combined with the more advanced and reality-based techniques of later eras. Heim drive permits theoretical speeds of up to 53.4c in normal space; practical speeds are lower than this.

Heim drive is an incredible boon for the colonization of star systems near a starfaring race’s homeworld. However, by modern standards it is extremely primitive and slow, having been totally replaced by hyperdrive for long range travel.

The main advantage of Heim drive is its flexibility and that it can operate normally in sidereal space. Thus, while it is far inferior to hyperdrive for a trip from Sol to Sirius, it is very useful for a trip from Jupiter to Neptune.

Heim drives behave strangely in close proximity to sharp gravitational field gradients. The fields around a star at significant fractions of an AU are safe. But getting too close to an Earthlike planet is inadvisable, especially on an approach trajectory.

It is possible to equip the same vessel with both Heim drive and hyperdrive. But both drives are bulky enough, and have enough conflicting engineering requirements, that ‘dual-drive’ ships suffer a high mass penalty. The norm for modern shipping is to use the much faster hyperdrive for interstellar travel, while relying on sublight engines for interplanetary travel.

Hyperspace

As noted above, Heim drive has long since been replaced in all but the most primitive parts of known space by hyperdrive. Related in some ways to the magnetogravitic theories behind the Heim drive, hyperspace theory uses stronger fields and more complex apparatus to allow movement at right angles to the three-dimensional universe, opening up access to ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ dimensions (depending on frame of reference) which permit extremely rapid FTL travel.

(If you want to use different terms or technobabble, that's fine; what matters is that ships should be able to interact with each other on equal terms and no one should have a huge speed advantage or disadvantage without their consent)

After injecting itself into hyperspace, a starship may travel through the newly entered dimension much as it would through normal 3D space, but using the hyperdrive as a source of motion instead of conventional engines. Ships can see each other, can start or stop more or less at will, can change course, and so forth, though conventional weapons and shielding do not work in hyperspace, and actual combat in hyperspace is difficult if not impossible.

The main difference between hyperspace and normal space navigation is that objects moving in hyperspace do not reliably stay in motion unless protected by a hyper-field generator. Instead, they tend to explode, implode, unplode,* replode,* or ricochet off at right angles to the known universe.

*If you don’t think those are words, wait until you learn hyper physics...

Modern hyperdrive speeds average at around one day per sector-width under typical operating conditions. In the distant past speeds were slower, but still faster than Heim drive by an order of magnitude or more. Ships designed for unusual speed may improve on normal travel times by a modest margin; ships which are especially slow or badly maintained will underperform.

Certain paths or ‘lanes’ through hyperspace permit relatively faster and smoother travel than others. These paths are popular for navigation, and often play an important role in defining settlement patterns and (in wartime) invasion routes. They are particularly useful for the low-budget starship design; military drives do not rely on them so heavily.

Ships moving through hyperspace create characteristic ‘wakes’ of radiation which are detectable in principle. The canny captain and naval engineer may reduce or mask their ship’s signature by a variety of stratagems and design features.

Hyperdrive ships suffer from problems with gravitational field gradients similar to those experienced under Heim drive, but to a greater degree. The unsafe zone for hyperdrive travel around a star varies depending on a number of parameters; nearly without exception, it extends well outside the habitable zone of the star, with a radius measured in hundreds of millions of kilometers. In general, ships must abandon hyperspace before making final approach to centers of habitation by normal means.

Hyperwave

The ‘default’ method of FTL communication uses methods related to hyperdrive travel to transmit signals known as ‘hyperwave.’ There is a degree of overlap between the equipment needed to navigate hyperspace, to detect FTL signals, and to observe ships moving through hyperspace. There are analogies to the uses of radio waves in sidereal space- long range communication, passive and (sometimes) active sensors all operate off broadly related hardware and are to some extent related.

Concepts like jamming, signals intercepts, emissions control can all be applied, if this is useful to your purposes as a story-maker and player.

How fast is hyperwave? Very fast, thank you for asking.

(Calling it “hyperwave” is not obligatory, something like “subspace” or any other technobabbly term works, and if you want another means of communication based on entirely different principles like carefully modulating the ability of bad news to travel faster than light, that’s OK. I’m just laying this out as a widely usable option)

Shoals

Certain volumes of hyperspace known as “shoals” present barriers to navigation and (to a lesser extent) communication.

Shoals are correlated with certain distributions of interstellar magnetic fields in the sidereal universe, although theorists still disagree about which way the causal relationship runs. Shoals are hard to travel through in hyperdrive, due to high energy density, technobabble, unpredictable curvature in the higher dimensions, and technobabble.

For the same reasons, sensor resolution, reliability, and range is decreased, and hyperwave communications are difficult, especially communication from or to mobile platforms- fixed antenna arrays can compensate more effectively.

On average, travel through shoals proceeds at half normal speed. Wear and tear on drives will be significant, requiring more frequent maintenance and refurbishment. Random accidents can happen to ships moving through shoal space at speed, especially without excellent navigational charts. Good charts help because there are passable routes through shoals in which space conditions are closer to normal, but these routes are usually complex three-dimensional curves that shift over time. These ‘whisker lanes’ are usually the best way to pass through shoals, if you know where to find them and can negotiate them safely.

Shoal density varies- some regions are merely bad for navigation, while others are practically suicide to navigate anywhere except a handful of chokepoints.

Heim drives work perfectly well in shoals, but remain excruciatingly slow, taking over a year to cross a single sector. Thus, their uses are limited.

Hyperspace Interception

You may not take kindly to the idea of people flitting about freely in hyperspace, especially if they are murderous pirates, unscrupulous tax-dodging merchants, or invading battlegroups. There are two major ways to do something about it: interdiction fields, and ship-to-ship interceptions.

Interdictor fields are generated by large, effectively stationary arrays- there is no way to create a militarily significant interdiction zone from a mobile platform. When activated, the interdictor projects a spherical or conical volume of interference in which hyperspace travel is dangerous if not impossible, similar to the unsafe zone around a stellar body. The zone is limited in size- the main applications are to control access along favored navigation routes (‘checkpoints,’ which are enforced more by the owner’s fleet than by inability to fly around the checkpoint) or to further impede enemy access to a defended star system.

As to how a fleet can enforce anything on hyperdrive ships, the key is that one hyper-capable vessel can be used to intercept another. This requires a close-range rendevous, in which the attacker forms some kind of interaction with the target ship. The interaction can be force-field based, a combination of tractors and/or pressor beams, an interlocking of hyperfields, or even physical brute force grappling systems.

Once this is done, the attacking ship or ships attempt to force themselves and the target both out of hyperspace. This is difficult and hard on all hyperdrives involved. The more massive and energetic side usually wins the struggle, with rare exceptions when one ship is especially designed for interceptions.

After forcing the target out of hyperspace, the attacker may proceed with business as usual (shooting the target, being shot by the target, threatening to shoot the target, etc.)

Hyperspace interceptions are important for a variety of purposes, including customs inspection, interstellar policing, convoy warfare, and piracy. Most deep-space warfare involves interceptions.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Demiurgas » 2012-03-26 12:06am

As for Elite troops. What would 1 NCP spent on something like 40,000 elite troops be like?

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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Darkevilme » 2012-03-26 12:10am

You don't spend nation creation points on the space or ground side military. You spend nation creation points on buying sectors and sector upgrades, or as it's otherwise called by some people 'the nation'. You then after that get your GDP value which is derived from your nation and spend THAT on space and ground side military.

This is coming later. Be patient.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-29 10:07am

Okay. No one has spoken up regarding any of the nation creation or travel rules, over a period of days. I am NOT saying discussion of these things is closed, I DO want people to come up with any alternatives they want to explore.

But I also want to act in the interests of the people who have already committed to actually playing the game, and I suspect most of them would rather see the next block of rules put up: the military guidelines.

These rules will detail how to go about constructing your starting national military. They are pretty long. I will post the short form first. If you are new to the SDNW series, please do not immediately act on the short form rules- wait for me to post the long form, OK?

Again, these guidelines are negotiable. But I want to get something out there, to provide a starting point for conversation. Something that actually gives us a sense for what the "points" in "points are points are points" mean.

EDIT: On second thought, I'm going to hold off a while longer. Is there anyone who does, or doesn't, want to see the proposed rules for this posted?
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Skywalker_T-65 » 2012-03-29 10:14am

I want to see them, but I'm perfectly fine with waiting. Not really that big of a deal to be honest, Arcadia isn't expansionist, so the military can wait however long you want.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Imperial528 » 2012-03-29 10:39am

I would like to see the short form, if only to get an initial bearing on it.

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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-29 10:41am

The problem is that the short form mostly consists of me deleting stuff that someone who understands the SDNW4 rules won't need to know, and some of the illustrative examples. There's no good reason not to post the short and long forms at the same time, as far as I can see- I didn't write an 'extra-short form' of the rules. Because if I posted something that short, the first thing that would happen is people would ask me a volley of questions that would force me to provide them with all the same information they'd get from reading the short form or the long form.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2012-03-29 10:50am

I think we need an extra-long-form version with several pages of exposition on and explanation of each rule. :P
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-29 11:14am

Hey, if you want to make it short and sweet, by all means- make it.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby OmegaChief » 2012-03-29 11:50am

Personally I say post them as they are now Simon, even in the worst case scenario having something to debate that we certianly do not want the rules to be like at least gives us a springboard to discussing these things and attempting to find an alternate solution.


And for all we know we might all agree with them as they are, there's been no major objections so far after all.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Ryan Thunder » 2012-03-29 11:51am

Simon_Jester wrote:Hey, if you want to make it short and sweet, by all means- make it.

I'm sorry, did you take that as a sarcastic remark? I didn't mean it like that.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Esquire » 2012-03-29 12:10pm

I'd like to see the rules. I've actually got a (very tentative) OOB drawn up and I'd like to see how it meshes with the actual rules.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Shinn Langley Soryu » 2012-03-29 01:06pm

I've already drawn up an OOB for myself using the original SDNW4 rules (for the most part), so I'd definitely like to see the current rules so I can determine what I need to revise.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Rabid » 2012-03-29 01:12pm

I have no remark to make on the rules already posted, but I have question concerning my particular case (space nomads) - trying to work out how a conflict would go :

How would the defense of a "Gypsy Sector" work ? I mean, there would be no planet under my control, so no garrisons or any kind of ground troops, but a few dozen thousand of civilian ships big enough to house a million people each, and set-up to be able to refuel in the atmosphere of gas-giants and find construction materials in asteroid belts.
A sector is roughly 100x100x(100?) lightyear large, right ? A volume of 1,000,000 LY^3. If we go by a density of 1 solar system by 4x4x4 lightyear (64 LY^3), this makes something like 15,625 Solar Systems by sector. Let's be conservative and say 10,000 systems.
That will be one heck of a Cat-And-Mice party...

Point is, how do we work-out the defense potential of a gypsy sector while it await the reinforcement of my Navy ?


Also, another vote to see the new military rules, this will help me refine my background.

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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby OmegaChief » 2012-03-29 01:21pm

Presumably you could still track your civillian ships via Hyperwave transmissions and/or hyperspace movments.

And if you're running dark with no jumps or comms with the rest of the galaxy then you're going to have the sectors income as distrupted as a normal invasion would make it anyway, so it more or less evens out.
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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Rabid » 2012-03-29 01:27pm

Yeah, that's more or less what I figured out. So if they have no escort to shot back, the sector is effectively conquered. Well, at least casualties are minimal (that's the goal). They'll just have to move somewhere else and find greener pastures. Question tough : if the sector is claimed by an Ally or someone who already accept my nomads on its territories, does it gives me another trade route with them instead ? :P


Another question : in SDNW4 rules, there's a cap fixed on peacetime shipbuilding, on how much of your GDP you can invest in building new (military) hulls. Something like 10% of said GDP. Would it still be the case here ?

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Re: SDNW5 Rules Discussion Thread

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-03-29 02:17pm

Re: build caps. I'd like to keep them, as I think they were a good idea in SDNW4.

Re: Gypsy sectors. Under my rule draft they have integral defenses, as do all sectors, which allow them to resist attacks by casual raiding forces. More on that in the rule post, which I do not have leisure to make at the moment.

The integral ground defense of the Nation's habitat-ships (available for free) poses a conundrum. Were I Rabid, I would resolve it by representing that as the local security forces- individuals who train at arms and can resist an attempt to board the habitat ships, should they choose to do so.

In other words, "civilian" does not mean "defenseless;" some degree of defenses is integrated into your civilian populations along with the mobile, redeployable military assets you get to build.
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