Saturday, January 11, 2014

Spaceships in Spaaaace!

You know what your Scifi game is probably missing? Awesome and storied spaceship maneuvers.

The Crazy Ivan (Firefly). The Picard Maneuver (Star Trek: TNG).  The Photonic Shock Wave (Star Trek: Voyager [My favorite Trek, btw]). This.

These sort of things are a pretty simple way to give settings a sense of depth. It's language. Once you get yourself (the GM presumably) and the players using specialized language, you've got them engaged in the setting. It doesn't even have to be Tiefling or Klingon or Qualinesti or Thay or any other constructed language word. Mountain Dwarves and High Elves and Neutrino Beams and Blaster Rifles and other plain English words (now with a specialized meaning) work just as well.

Anyway, on to the fun spaceship action.

Cepheus B
Cepheus B, Hydrogen Cloud
Photo From NASA
Beauregard's Gambit - While fleeing through hydrogen clouds, a pursued vessel vents Oxygen from its stern. The front vessel then either lights the mixture itself or waits for the enemy's weapons to do the trick. The resulting explosion should (more or less) propel the fleeing ship forward and knock the chasing ship off-course. (Of course everyone might die too... If ya got shields, put all power aft on this one.) Named after a famous space pirate (or freedom fighter depending on who's telling the tale) noted for his skillful recklessness.

Cody's Shield - Using a ship's artificial gravity generators to create a large "cushion" of gravity pushing away from the vessel. Cody's "Shield" is effective in the short term against ramming vessels and projectile weapons (missiles, bullets, etc.). Problem is, you'll lose all artificial gravity so hold on tight (your grav-pumps are gonna burn out pretty quickly so it can be a major problem in the long run, too). Named after a Patrol captain who used it to slow down a rampaging kill-bot vessel.

Folly's Fusillade - To attempt this with any real chance of success, one needs a row of filled cargo bays. In essence, this is the explosive decompression of all the cargo bays at once, venting the atmosphere and contents rapidly into space. Obviously, the higher one can raise the air pressure beforehand, the more effective the volley. Still, the velocities reached by the jetsam rarely cause much damage. Folly's Fusillade is more of a diversionary tactic than anything else. Depending upon the relative masses of the jetsam and the vessel in question, this tactic can result in the vessel lurching sharply away from the direction of "fire". Additionally, such actions can put incredible stress on a ship's hull. (Ya'd better have a godsdamned good, battle-hardened engineer if you're desperate enough to try this one...) Named after "Admiral Folly", the butt of many an old spacer's jokes.

Disclaimer - I are not scientist. For entertainment purposes only. Do not try these maneuvers in your own spaceship.

Questions - Astrophysicists/Space-Engineers, on a scale from Spaceballs to Star Trek,  how far off am I with these? How have you used things like this in your games?