I should Keep my mouth shut.

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 3, 2017 - 7:53pm
My perspect on this game and others don't always match those of the avid gamer who loves this and other games that influenced me over my decade and a half playing RPGs.  Such was the case in the "Silent Running' thread.  I know artifical gravity is a sensitive subject on this forum and should have keep my thoughts to myself. It seems like everytime I open my mouth, I end up killing the threat.  So I wish to apologise for that right now. 
Comments:

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 3, 2017 - 8:31pm
I see nothing wrong with making an observation or two.

There was some other discussion on one of the earlier forum postings about using inertial fields to create "anti-gravity," which is a good sci fi thing, but it does appear that idea was ever fully explained.

How would one create an artificial gravity field? I don't know but it is certainly a good sci fi gimmick.

Joe Cabadas

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 3, 2017 - 9:00pm
I know there is a Sherlock Holmes line. "If you elimate the probable, then the impossible is the correct." I went something like that.

Deductive Reasoning:

1.  The engines are on struts to prevent radioactive from contamination the ship. You must therefore accept the fact, the exhaust of those engines are radiocative as well.  So the engines can't be on a gimble because they could contaminate the living quarters if turned around.

2. To acheive Void space, the ship must reach a certain speed to meet the conditions to activate the drive system.  Once it has passed through the Void and returns to normal space operation, the ship must slow down in order to go into orbit or land.  Since the engines are at the rear of the ship, this require the ship to rotate.  By doing this, the gravity by acceleration changes direction. Therefore, either the interiors rotate inside the body of the ship or there is artifical gravity.

3. Gimibling floors and or habitation modules makes the ship far to complex.  Making space travel far more expensive because of these added features.  It would be far simplier to create a spinning habatation module than the designs showed in the core rules and adventures.

4. Designs shown, show simplistic cyclinder or ovaliod desgins because such structures could be build with simplicity.

I hate to bring in another game system, But Twight 2300 fits better into the Star Frointers genre than what TSR did.  And here is why I apologizied, because in my psudeo science of starship design, I try to match my drawing to those within a game system. That why I try to keep my thoughts to myself because I know many of you love this game.  I was one of those gamer who took bits and peices from different RPG to create my universe. Artifical Gravity was one such items and a deep part of the Sci-fi  genre.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 3, 2017 - 9:06pm
I loved Traveller 2300... it's in the Twilight universe so I guess it's ok to call it Twilight 2300... hee, hee.

Yes, I think GDW had a better take on some of the tech than TSR did. Though, the GDW rules are rather complex at times.
Joe Cabadas

AZ_GAMER's picture
AZ_GAMER
May 3, 2017 - 9:26pm
Good Points Tollon:

So I understand what you mean... I use to post a lot, have been a member for a long time, but my soft-sci-fi take tends to get me into arguments. Not as much as it use to mind you. There were a lot more contentious people on this board five or so years ago. The current bunch are really good and I enjoy reading their stuff. Not to mention most of the current members are very accepting of other points of view like mine.

I have spent a lot of hours reading through the articles over at atomic rockets and while alot of it is really cool it is a "buzz kill" on anything soft-sci fi. My biggest bone to pick with die-hard SF canon appreciators is that 1. It's still a game 2. If you accept one form of Handwavium in the system, namely FTL, yet strictly forbid others it kills the fun and creativity. I find no problem with using artificial gravity bc it solves a lot of problems and still is a lot more plausible than FTL. On the atomic rockets page they make the concession that in fiction the best way to combat handwavium is to keep the element as realistic as possible and have consistent limitations. So, in this game we have to have FTL or there could be no reasonable travel between the stars, contact with aliens, or interstellar warfare (So FTL is in) Next, in an culture significantly advanced enough to have devloped FTL or Pseudo FTL they probably would have come up with an answer to the gravity problem in one fashion or another or else who would want to take that ride to the next star system. There is a happy middle ground that lies in keeping the handwavium realistic, reasonable, and consistently limited. In my own fictional universe work that is featured alot in Frontier Explorer, I have run into the brick wall of hard sci-fi more times then I can count. I even had to do a complete reboot / retcon of a 2009 series that took both a story and the technology into directions that I really didn't want to go in but snow balled once I was there. And the funny thing is everything in the Titan Rising Universe began as a Star Frontiers KH/AD campaign that went in new directions once TSR stopped supporting the product and my gaming group needed new missions, tech, and adventures.


KRingway's picture
KRingway
May 4, 2017 - 1:03am
As I've said in the other thread, the way things work in SF - with nods to 'hard' sci-fi - don't really make sense considering that the rest of the RPG could be seen as 'soft' sci-fi.

Sometimes there seems to be a need to explain various things in a sci-fi RPG, but then other core aspects are brushed under the carpet. So, the 2300AD RPG (which I've played a great deal) makes out that it's hard sci-fi, but then has FTL via 'stutterwarp'. Star Frontiers has the Void. Neither are really explained but one must accept them for space travel to work in-game. But at the same time, anyone mentioning things like grav-plates and similar system has to face objections that such things are 'not realistic', despite the core FTL aspects of an RPG being just as unrealistic. It's rather odd what people will and won't accept as being kosher for scifi, when something as key as FTL travel is all rather nebulous and ill-defined, and doesn't really make any attempt to be at all what one could call realistic.

Personally, there's nothing in Star Frontiers that would exclude something like grav plates, of the kind that feature in Traveller. It doesn't break the game any more than the Void does as a concept. Maybe it's one of the things that the Tetrach left behind - oops, there I go, trying to validate it... Laughing

My point is that I don't really see the need to have to explain everything in an RPG down to the minute detail. Some sci-fi staples, such as various beam weapons, are taken as wrote without batting an eye lid. They're just accepted without any need to explain exactly how they work. I see no reason why this can't also be the case with grav plate systems or the like.

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
May 4, 2017 - 5:29am
Tollon wrote:
I know there is a Sherlock Holmes line. "If you elimate the probable, then the impossible is the correct." I went something like that.


The quote is actually "Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable is the truth."

However your version is just as reasonable and works fine.

Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 4, 2017 - 8:28am
Your point 2 involves a misunderstanding of physics I believe. If a ship has momentum at 1C in a particular direction to slow down it simply flips 180 degrees and applies thrust against the direction of travel or momentum. Since things in motion tend to stay in motion  unless acted upon by an outside Force  then everything loose inside the ship will be forced against the floor because of the thrust in opposition to the momentum. No gibbling needed. 

Where gibbling is needed is for aerodynamic KHs craft want to land in a horizontal configuration.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

KRingway's picture
KRingway
May 4, 2017 - 8:31am
During the 'flip' people still stay stuck to the floor.

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 4, 2017 - 12:20pm
Unlike the acceration portion of the trip where you are gaining gravity, the deceleration will cause a gradual lost of gravity.  So by the time you reach your desitination it is zero.  Which brings new problems for the Star Lord and the players to encounter as the ship goes from zeo to a normal gravity back to zero.  I'm quite sure most Stararbitrators either overlook this or ignore it. Otherwise, the mechanics of spaceflight in game would become quite complex and boring for the players.

During those extreme moments of braking or radical manuvers, players are flung about the ship, if they are not strapped in. The forces of such manuvers surely cause more than the normal 1d10 for crashes, since to perform those changes in vectors involve more speed than those stated in speed accidents in the game.  Thus the speed damage rule is overlook or are modifed so that it doesn't kill the player outright.  Plus you have to add in all those missiles flying around the ship because there was no time to store all the lose equipment.

Artifical gravity is a tool to simplify those rules.  That all I'm saying.

Yes, I have played hard sci-fi games and they are far more dangerous to player than want to believe. It causes more disagreements than you can believe. If you ignore certain things which, are base in reality then players seem to enjoy it more, then when they go 'splat' against a bulk head or the ceiling during a change in Vectors.

<!--[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <![endif]-->

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
May 4, 2017 - 2:31pm
Actually as long as the engines are on and generating 1g of thrust, you'll feel 1 g of gravity.  The only time the gravity would diminish is when you turn the engines off.  So it wouldn't be a gradual lessing of gravity as you slow down.  Speed has not impact, only accelerations.

And to RKingway's comment there is nothing saying you couldn't execute the turn under full thrust to maintain gravity.

As to getting thrown around during violent maneuvers, yes, that would definitely happen if you weren't secured.

Personally, I'm not a fan of artifical gravity but that's just my personal preference.  Others are free to include it if they want. 
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 4, 2017 - 7:01pm
This is going to be a rare moment for me...I'm about to go full tilt Zeb's on the boxed sets.


If you really want to see some FUBAR'd rules look no further than the extremely limited definitions for Chemical Drives (re: system ships).

1> All ships with a full compliment of Chem drives have an ADF of 1.
2> A load of fuel costs 250Cr, and is enough fuel to get the ship to its desitination.
3> System ships can not jump.

So rule #1 establishes that the chemical drives have the same exact performance rating as starships sporting Ion drives.

Which is completely demolished by the extreme vagueness of rule #2 that states a load of fuel, whether it's a load to take you to the moon or from the innermost planet to the outermost planet, cost 250Cr.

Which is further decimated by rule #3 that states a system ship can not attain jump velocity, regardless of exactly how much fuel a "load" actually consists of.

So we are left to assume that this magical "load" of fuel is sufficient enough to take you anywhere you want as long as you don't leave the system...meaning you can generate thrust for many days travelling insystem at 1g but never attaining jump velocity --- which is, what...200 hexes per turn? So does that mean a system ship runs out of fuel when it reaches a velocity of 199 hexes per turn? How does it slow down at its destination? Does a second "load" of fuel magically appear when you begin decelerating, and disappear again if you opt to accelerate back to 199/turn?

And then of course there's the infamous rule #4 --- starships of up to HS:3 can land in atmospheres assuming an aerodynamic hull, yet system ships up to HS:5 can do the same. That makes perfect sense when you don't think about it...the larger starship with much more powerful atomic drives can not make or break an atmosphere but the weaker chem drive ship with its undefined "load" of fuel can.

It's a "load" alright...
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 4, 2017 - 8:34pm
As noted in other discussions, I never played Knight Hawks, though I owned the game. I have noted those crazy seeming rules though never thought too deeply about them, but Shadow Shack's critique has validity.
Joe Cabadas

KRingway's picture
KRingway
May 5, 2017 - 12:27am
Possibly system ship stuff was skated over as the assumption was that FTL travel was the over-arching priority, rules-wise...

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 5, 2017 - 6:47am
KRingway wrote:
Possibly system ship stuff was skated over as the assumption was that FTL travel was the over-arching priority, rules-wise...

No doubt, but that doesn't excuse a piss poor ruling. 

I mean sooner or later players with starships are going to ask "why do I have to pay 250Cr for my shuttle fuel each trip from ship to surface and back when other system ships pay the same thing to travel from one end of the system to the other?" I suppose the answer to that would be "because you accelerate to X, float in zero-G for the bulk of the trip, and decelerate on the other end" but that raises a whole slew of new issues, number one being in the time it takes to cross a system at 6 hexes per turn (or whatever miniscule number you opt for, anything far below jump velocity anyways) you might as well use a ship with ion or atomic drives to get to the other end of the system.

Or..."why can't my HS:5 freighter be atmospheric when that HS:5 chemical thruster transport is?" Beyond the hard rule that ion drives can't be used in atmospheres I really have no answer for that one when it comes to the atomic powered counterparts...

Sadly it does in fact boil down to the short odds stating that players and GMs alike will focus on star ships while a game based on system ships is a long shot. That being the case, it raises another question about Planetary Militias: why don't they just use system ships? A militarized HS:20 system ship can carry a butt load of guns and still be piloted by a rookie lv-1 operator (not to mention it can be maintained by a rookie lv-1 chief engineer)...so why are the systems so poorly defended when a ADF/MR 1 & 2 system dreadnought costs a fraction of what a ADF/MR: 2 & 1 UPF battleship does and needs far less crew? Seriously, for what the few systems that maintain frigates (or destroyers) in their planetary militia they can spend the same coin on a cruiser that packs a lot more punch, and even equip it with a fighter bay.

Think about it: this casual hand wave of canon rules is the reason why 16 out of 26 worlds are completely undefended in the second Sathar War.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

KRingway's picture
KRingway
May 5, 2017 - 7:08am
Yeah, it does flag the system stuff needing a redo. I agree with the system defence stuff too. Far cheaper to have system ships as your defensive line. You don't need Void-capable ships if you don't plan on chasing someone from a given system at FTL. That said, IIRC if you opt for chemcial drives you'll get outmanouvred by ships with more advanced drives.

One of the reasons I tried doing a redesign of ships engines (via my 'Void drive' design) is that it allows any ship up to a HS of 5 to enter atmospheres. 

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 5, 2017 - 9:00am
Let talk about Atomic Engines for a moment.  What planetary government knowing the dangers of radioative fallout would allow those engines to land on their planet in the first place?  The risk of an explosion or crash would be a nuclear nightmare.  Nor could they tell those people working at the Starport, "You're only recieving an X-ray worth of Radiation, during a year."  We know why the engines are on struts, it's to protect the crew from the radiation.  Not only that, the engines are active during landing, thus spreading radioactive as they land.   Why do human and Yarizan still have hair with that much radiation in the atmosphere?

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 5, 2017 - 10:45am
I'm going to throw this one out there.  Why can't we modify or create a whole new set of rules for Star Fronteirs?  I mean, they do it for D&D and other games as part of "far use clauses" (don't know if I got the terminolgy right). There are still people creating and selling D&D verison 1 at drive through and other sites on the web?  Or at least correct the mistakes?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 5, 2017 - 3:52pm
The comments about radioactive drives strike me as being part of the time when the game was produced. The Societs and the US both experimented with nuclear propulsion for aircraft but both programs were eventually canceled due to cost, radiation dangers to crews and the fact that the nuclear drives were very dirty spuing radiation in the atmosphere along its flight path. Despite what i just read in wikipedia I saw a documentary that suggested the Soviets seriously irradiated their air crews.

So I think that atomic drives in STar Frontiers should be viewed in light of the time that the game was published especially since some of the comments about atomic drives being used in atmosphere make a lot of sense when compared to what was known of atomic drives at that time.

It may be time to relook at fussion and handwavium fussion reactors or plasma rockets. as well as update chem drives.

Honestly what would make sense is miniaturized fission reactors onboard most ships to provide electrical power. It would still use the KHS atomic pellet fuel but be changed once every 5 years, the reactor would require monthly maintenance by the engineer and yearly overhaul. The science behind how the nuclear drive for aircraft does not suggest that you'll be able to siphon off electrical power to run the ship (that was one of my disappointments when I saw that documentary).

then ships use chem, ion, or plasma drives or some other handwavium science for propulsion.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 5, 2017 - 6:37pm
KRingway wrote:
IIRC if you opt for chemcial drives you'll get outmanouvred by ships with more advanced drives. 

Out-accelerated, but not out-maneuvered...the MR rating does not change. In other words you can have a HS:5-6 ADF/MR 3 & 3 star ship or a HS:5-6 ADF/MR 1 & 3 system defense ship. The defense ships don't need to chase the invaders, they merely need to shoot them. Pack them full of laser batteries that never run out of ammo and have ranges far greater than any projectile weapon, and with a MR of 3 a laser cannon can be brought to bear easily enough as well. Any fleet of system defense ships can always have a decent sized carrier that ferries a couple squadrons of fighters to make up for the performance losses, flown by more of those same lv-1 rookie pilots. 


Tollon wrote:
Let talk about Atomic Engines for a moment.  What planetary government knowing the dangers of radioative fallout would allow those engines to land on their planet in the first place?  The risk of an explosion or crash would be a nuclear nightmare.  Nor could they tell those people working at the Starport, "You're only recieving an X-ray worth of Radiation, during a year."  We know why the engines are on struts, it's to protect the crew from the radiation.  Not only that, the engines are active during landing, thus spreading radioactive as they land.   Why do human and Yarizan still have hair with that much radiation in the atmosphere?

Regardless of the politics and legalities involved, the rules clearly state that any atomic powered starship up to HS:3 may land/take off in atmospheres while less powerful drives on larger ships can do the same. I merely contest "why" that is...re: "why" can't a HS:4 or 5 atomic power ship make or break planetfall when the smaller ones can?

As far as said politics & legalities go...I would posit that with the successful use of the US Navy's nuclear powered program and the lacking disastrous impact on our oceans speaks volumes about what an advanced technology is capable of. Granted the confederation that is the UPF still allows each planetary government to create/enforce their own laws --- and any GM is certainly free to define such laws per planetary government --- I can not swallow them being "unsafe"...at least not to the degree being suggested.

Sure, a crash would have a disatrous effect. But I would also posit that with this line of thinking that no atomic generators should be permitted in an atmosphere either, because in the (equally rare) event those should rupture it would have the same effect.

FWIW another reason why the atomic drives are mounted on struts so that they can be ejected in the event of a meltdown. Sure, the rules do spell out that it is also to protect the crew...but since we're contesting the rules I will once again source the US Navy: none of their ships have the reactors remotely mounted and their crews aren't dying of massive radiation exposure to the degree that the rules seem to claim.
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 5, 2017 - 8:23pm
<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]-->

Time for some techobabble  in support of Star Frontiers.

Yes, I can see your point about Reactor safe, Shadow Shack.  And yes, I get the part of being able to jettison a damage engine. The problem with the way the description are written.  We have Da Rulz suggesting there is a radiation hazard concerning the Atomic Engine. The description also hints, Atomic Engines are a single device that powers the ship and propels it at the same time. It also states a radioactive pellet is burned on each trip and a overhaul must be perform before it makes its next jump.  Therefore, we are left to wonder what happens to the pellet?  Why is there a radiation danger that causing them to place them on struts to protect the crew?

Another part of the problem in the description is there use of engine.  This suggests, the pellet is burned as fuel causing tremendous thrust propelling the ship faster than light.  The burnt uranium has to go somewhere?  Add that to what I've already said the paragraph above and you see why I say, the engines are a hazard to the biosphere of any world.

Now I can get around all this by slightly altering the way an Atomic Engine works.  It's simplify requires viewing the engine in a different light and breaking it down into two separate parts. I can also explain the excess radiation that is 'burnt' by the engine as well.  But it alters the way those engines described in the game system.

Here we go:

First off, they are no longer Atomic Engines but Atomic Drives.  They consist of two parts:  An atomic power plant, a drive assemble and a micro reactor.  The power plant provides the power require to create thrust in the drive assemble which propels the ship at the speed necessary to achieve FTL and safe landing on any planet with only the remote chance of radioactive contamination.  To limit the risk of contamination, Atomic Drives could not be used by fighters because of their risk of being destroyed by hostile fire.

The second change is the uranium pellet.  It is used to create the field require for FTL through a micro fission reactor whose only purpose is to power the FTL system.  This reactor is "over clocked" producing excessive radiation, heat and shortening the life of this micro power plant to supply the power to the FTL system.  This dual system save the primary reactor from having to burn out fuel rods leaving the ship nearly helpless after a jump.  The micro reactor must be serviced and refueled after each jump due the excessive wear and tear on the reactor.  The power plant only has to be once a year and fuel rods changed once every two years.

This solves many of the problems with Atomic Engines as they stand now.  However, it does create new problems as well.  Fighters will not be allowed to use Atomic Engines and the economy of the game is changed as well when it comes to servicing the starships.  Then there is handwavium on the actual drive assemble.  I call them electrostatic drives or thrusters, they produce thrust by changing electrical power into thrust.

<!--[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <![endif]-->

KRingway's picture
KRingway
May 6, 2017 - 12:44am
Shadow Shack wrote:
Out-accelerated, but not out-maneuvered...the MR rating does not change. In other words you can have a HS:5-6 ADF/MR 3 & 3 star ship or a HS:5-6 ADF/MR 1 & 3 system defense ship. The defense ships don't need to chase the invaders, they merely need to shoot them. Pack them full of laser batteries that never run out of ammo and have ranges far greater than any projectile weapon, and with a MR of 3 a laser cannon can be brought to bear easily enough as well. Any fleet of system defense ships can always have a decent sized carrier that ferries a couple squadrons of fighters to make up for the performance losses, flown by more of those same lv-1 rookie pilots.


But the risk still is that system ship with a chemical or ion drive will have problems dealing with a bloackade runner - or anything with an ADF of more than 1. Sitting around waiting to point weapons at an intruder is a bit of a gamble, I'd say. System defence would need a way of intercepting incursions, and you can't really do that with an ADF of 1 unless your opponent also has an ADF 1.

That's if I'm reading it right - like we've said, system ships that have no FTL capability aren't really given enough detail in KH Wink

As for atomic drives - sure, various Earth navies operate them without messing up the environment. However, in KH it's relatively easy for any Tom, Dick or Harry to have a ship with atomic engines and less stringent ways of operating it. This means that atomics are always a risk when operating in atmospheres - possibly this is more applicable to civilian shipping.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 6, 2017 - 3:55am
Maritime nuclear propulsion is done by steam turbine with heat from a nuclear reactor. In maritime nuclear propulsion the reactors are heavily shielded.

 Nuclear drives in SF were an application of recently (in comparison to the publication date of SF) developed but problematic nuclear drives on air craft. This form of propulsion involved compressed air being funneled into the reactor to be heated before being exhausted out of the engine (direct air cycle). The process is slightly more complicated than that but thats the bones of is and the exhaust was dirty. There was an indirect air cycle design that would not have been as dirty but it never went anywhere and i thing part of that was that it required some serious technical advances before it could compete with the direct air cycle- molten metal for a heat exchange medium and pumps and heat exchangers that could handle molten metal.

One of the problems was shielding the reactor, not enough is not good for the crew and too much and whats the point of a bomber that cant carry a lot of bombs?

The writers and editors that worked on SF grabbed a lot of things that were new ish in development and extrapolated into the future assuming that atomic drives (of the aircraft type) and gyrojet weapons would see more development and become a thing down the road. They didn't even get computers right but they tried.

Clearly they used the engines mounted on struts to deal with the radiation/shielding issue.

frankly i think its different for space ships vs air craft where wt is concerned- if the ship isn't landing on a planet then heavy shielding is not really a problem.

The comments about ships over HS 3 with atomic drives is a sop to the environmental issues of the atomic drive. not about a HS 5 being unable to land and take off with an atomic drive.

I'm currious to see some data on Lockheed-Martin's proposed fusion powered aircraft supposedly it will be operating in 7 years.

The wonkiness inherent in the rules that generally drives these discussions is in part from the way SF came to market: 2 writers develop a game but the company decides to change the direction of that product and hand it to a team of 5 or so editors who work on their individual sections separately and under a time deadline. Then toss it together like a Frankenstien monster. Frankly, I'm surprised that the game has stood up so well.
I think thats a testament to Schick and Cook for the ground work they laid down.

I think we should just rule that atomic drives are an abstract nuclear based propulsion system that is not envrionmentally harmful and allows ships upto HS5 to land on planets. And possibly figure out some better numbers for chem drive fuel consumption.

Side note: anyone else ever bothered by the fact that the UPF frigate in illustration as well as the lead minature had not struts and atomic drives but what looked like an obvious chem drive at the tail even though the game stats are clearly those of a atomic drive ship? I've been mounting pairs of engines on my frigates, when I can get them (had a battleship miniature with lead rot but its 12 engines were unmounted and unaffected by the lead rot). However, if the UPF had outlawed HS 5 ships with atomic drives from landing on planets then it would hardly build its workhorse frigate to so land? It could actually build it with sufficent shielding and put the three drives together in the tail. but this does not explain the cruisers and battleship's designs with engines mounted away from the ships.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 6, 2017 - 10:02am
I have always viewed the Atomic Drive as the suggested two-part system Tollon described: the reactor that powers the thruster. As for "where does the pellet go" I always assumed it was akin to modern nuclear reactor fuel rods...the spent rods get stored and offladed at destination to be taken to a containment facility. Surely there's an unpopulated world somewhere in the Frontier that can serve as a "Yucca Mountain". 

KRingway said "But the risk still is that system ship with a chemical or ion drive will have problems dealing with a bloackade runner - or anything with an ADF of more than 1. Sitting around waiting to point weapons at an intruder is a bit of a gamble, I'd say. System defence would need a way of intercepting incursions, and you can't really do that with an ADF of 1 unless your opponent also has an ADF 1. " 

Again: fighters. 

ADF/MR 5 & 5 respectively, operated by the same grade of pilots the system ships use. They can be ferried on a "system carrier" with a fleet into deep space, based at a orbital station, and (government permitting) on the ground. There's simply no excuse to have 16 undefended worlds in the Frontier for the Second Sathar War, at least not beyond creating a balanced game anyways (which is exactly why there were 16 undefended worlds).

As far as fighters being regulated as system ships: this is due mostly to the lack of life support, they can only go as far as their space suits LS equipment allows (60 hours, base 20 plus two back-ups). Personally, I handwave that because as noted, it can still attain jump velocity in that period (more so at ADF:5). As such I have my fighters equipped with "jump governors" that kick in just before the ship reaches jump velocity. Technically you could make atomic system ships in the same manner, but then you're looking into the much higher cost factor just to get starship grade performance and then throwing in the additional cost of making it not-a-starship via the governors. Fighter craft are inexpensive in the game, so it's not a budget killer.

Now then...drifting from canon rules into house rules, you can always increase power if you want increased performance. Double the drives, double your power...the HS:3 system scout class ship can have an ADF of 2 by adding another pair of thrusters, 3 with six, and 4 with eight. But again, the cost of doing so puts you back into the two atomic drive starship territory. 

Fuel would still be much cheaper at 250Cr per load though.Laughing 

In the end any planetary defense fleet that wants a pursuit craft beyond fighter capability can always enlist an assault scout or two, as they aren't prohibitively expensive either. Warriors of White Light suggests that two more scouts can be added for the Sathar invasion by citing two brand new models that were purchased. Any system that wants to count beans can always buy a surplus/retired model from UPF as well. In the end it makes sense to have big system ships as "capital ships" for planetary defense. The same military contractors belting out frigates and destroyers can armor & upgun system ships without taking a performance hit, more so when you consider the scouts and frigates are of higher performance than any stock HS:3 & 5 civilian ship respectively...and you can even go the +1 ADF route by swapping in PGC Eureka chemical drives (a la Dramune Run). ;)

KRingway said "As for atomic drives - sure, various Earth navies operate them without messing up the environment. However, in KH it's relatively easy for any Tom, Dick or Harry to have a ship with atomic engines and less stringent ways of operating it. This means that atomics are always a risk when operating in atmospheres - possibly this is more applicable to civilian shipping."

I can agree with this as well. Just for the record, my whole debate is not the logistics of why they should or shouldn't be permitted for atmospheric duty...rather why the powerfully equipped HS:4 & 5 craft simply CAN'T while the weaker chem thruster craft can. The rules clearly state that even if a crew decides it's a good idea to break a GM's planetary government laws, their HS:4-5 ships simply CAN'T break those laws because the "laws of not-physics" in the rules say so.

In other words, the rules state that if you have such a ship and want to land on a world with an atmosphere --- uncivilized, unpopulateed, or government law protected...whatever the case may be --- you'll need a system ship for the task.

Jedion357 said "The comments about ships over HS 3 with atomic drives is a sop to the environmental issues of the atomic drive. not about a HS 5 being unable to land and take off with an atomic drive. "

So are we to believe those same environmental issues cease to exist with the HS:3 or smaller craft equipped with the same type of powerplants? FWIW the HS:4 craft uses the exact same drives as the HS:3 craft, so we can't even go into A versus B drive comparisons here. Nothing supports this FUBAR'd rule, it's reaching at its finest and even Mr. Fantastic can't reach as far as this rule does.

 
No, I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide. Nor do I have any qualms in stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

ChrisDonovan's picture
ChrisDonovan
May 7, 2017 - 2:10am
JCab747 wrote:
I see nothing wrong with making an observation or two.

There was some other discussion on one of the earlier forum postings about using inertial fields to create "anti-gravity," which is a good sci fi thing, but it does appear that idea was ever fully explained.

How would one create an artificial gravity field? I don't know but it is certainly a good sci fi gimmick.



Prior to a couple of years ago, we really wouldn't have even a way to conceptualize it.

After the discovery/confirmation of the Higgs Boson, we now have a hard science core to build AG around.

Higgs Bosons allows matter to have "mass" and therefore gravity.  If you could manipulate the number and orientation of these, you could change the intensity and direction of the gravitic pull.

JCab747's picture
JCab747
May 7, 2017 - 11:36am
Neat
Joe Cabadas

ExileInParadise's picture
ExileInParadise
May 7, 2017 - 3:51pm
Just to throw a sort of wrench in the works here - I'd had a totally different conception of the Star Frontiers atomic drives than I am seeing everyone here post.

Chemical engines mix chemicals in a reaction chamber with a hole in it and vector the resulting force for propulsion.

Ion engines... ionize and magnetically vector the ionized medium to harness the force for propulsion.

Atomic engines... what? Atomize the fuel pellets and blast the radioactive stuff everywhere? There's no way that would fly, or land - high traffic paths would become unusable quickly.

To me, atomic engines in Star Frontiers were a direct homage to the glory days of atomic rockets in sci-fi such as the Tom Corbett stories. The atom powered engines still blasted some OTHER medium out for force - atomics just gave you the mighty power to do it with.

Yes, none of that works in the Star Frontiers rules... unless...

... the atomic engines in Star Frontiers are *cough* inspired by the Star Trek engine nacelles and are using atomic power as the stand in for dilithium.

Well yeah that seems obvious but you gotta remember the rest of how a Star Trek nacelle works: it's a Bussard collector (skip right past how that works in superluminal travel...)

Putting this all together, to my high school mind at the time, the atomic engine burned fuel pellets to generate the massive power needed to run the Bussard collectors in system space to gather enough compressible/fusible hydrogen to accelerate out the back.

The struts allowed for far less shielding (remember, Rocket Cat says every gram counts) as well as shape the Bussard ramjet fields around the craft - if the engines were too close, the collection fields would end up inside the hab module. Ouch.

So, yeah that was my own home-brewed hand-wavium for how it all worked, and it worked for me because a) it was Tom Corbett friendly... and b) the Bussard part only ever got up to 1% C so you didn't run into the huge drag issues that ramjets run into at significant fractions of C.

Anyway - use that sort of stuff or not, its fine with me. Just wanted to throw that out there because it gives you a "closed/clean" atomic engine system that is just pushing hydrogen rather than leaving radiation belts and debris all over the trade routes.

iggy's picture
iggy
May 7, 2017 - 6:33pm
I space you can heave out whatever amount of radiation you want because it is nothing compaired to the masses of radiation being blasted out by the stars you are traveling around.  The only reason planets have life is when they have magnetic fields to shield them from the stellar radiation.
-iggy

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 7, 2017 - 9:36pm
Exile:  The only problem I see with the Bussard Ram is how much free floating Hydrogen is in the system.  I know Atomic Rocket suggest there is not enough free hydrogen floating in interstellar space to use with that system.  Electromagnitic fields are power hogs and the reward might not be worth the power necessary to collect the hydrogen.

Clarification: When I talk about the pellet being 'burnt' in the micro reactor to power the FTL system, I mean it is spend and becomes depleated uraium by the time the ship is done generating the jump.  I suppose, you can keep the spent fuel rod and sell it back at 1/2 price when you refuel?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 8, 2017 - 9:39am
The easiest thing to do with fuel rods is to pack them into a small rocket and launch it at the sun. Better to let the sun recycle them then to store them somewhere.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Tollon's picture
Tollon
May 8, 2017 - 1:33pm
The same container which holds the uraium pellet, could hold the spent rod for resale.