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Thread: Fore-and-aft Spaceship Design Considered Silly

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    FTL violates Einsteinian Relativity, and "force fields" are an SF writers' invention of desperation.
    What about travel through wormholes, which in principle do not violate the theory of general relativity? In Hyperion, Dan Simmons proposed just such a solution by the creation of a network of artificial wormholes. His milieu had both traditional slower than light travel, and wormhole travel. In fact, in order to setup these "portals," slower-than-light ships had to be sent in advance to construct a portal aperture at the destination site.

    By the way, traveling through one of these portals was called "farcasting," and the network of portals was referred to as the Worldweb. I had just finished this book when I first heard about the "World-Wide-Web" and so it is the origin of my alias.
    Robert A. Howard
    Pen & Paper Games
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    Interesting, I will have to pick up Hyperion. I have never read that.

    Why do we care about Einsteins special relativity? While Einsteinian relativity is popularly held as correct, it is still not proven. There have been many scientists proven wrong before now. Do you conjecture that humanity will never get past this point in understanding?

    The Alcubierre drive which would allow warp travel has not been disproven. Many objections were raised, but numerous counterarguments were also raised.

    The theory that light speed is fixed, has been challenged by numerous scientists. Even the smallest fraction of change in the normal speed of light distance, opens the way for 'unreal' possibilities and a hole in relativity.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


  3. #18
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    I guess I was aiming for more of a "hard SF", "playing with the net up" feel, a la Gregory Benford. (Or for that matter, Firefly, if you disregard artificial gravity and questionable celestial mechanics.) I wanted to explore the idea of people _in space_, not people on boats or aircraft that somehow travel through space as most science fiction seems to do.

    The clearest indication of "you're not in Star Trek/Star Wars/Doctor Who anymore" is ships without a single "down" direction. After that, I wanted to ditch the whole "one city on the entire planet" cliche in a lot of media science fiction. (Planets are big. We're on one.) Making space travel actually hard in some way, and in particular making travel from one star system to another a major life choice, would emphasize that space is *different*.

    As far as Einsteinian Relativity goes ... it hasn't been conclusively proven, given the scale on which it operates, but it hasn't been definitively overturned, either. There have been inconclusive experiments on faster-than-light effects, but many involve quantum entanglements and hence too random for macroscopic objects. So, if you're going to avoid rubber science, you have to uphold Einsteinian Relativity or (as with the wormhole idea) come up with some fairly esoteric loophole.

    Quote Originally Posted by Farcaster View Post
    What about travel through wormholes, which in principle do not violate the theory of general relativity? In Hyperion, Dan Simmons proposed just such a solution by the creation of a network of artificial wormholes. His milieu had both traditional slower than light travel, and wormhole travel. In fact, in order to setup these "portals," slower-than-light ships had to be sent in advance to construct a portal aperture at the destination site.
    Wormhole travel isn't too bad, but it still assumes a ship that can get out to the wormhole, which might be far from a habitable planet. (Possibly by design; see Cowboy Bebop, where a prototype hyperspace gate in geostationary orbit exploded, rendering Earth nearly uninhabitable.) Unless you want to go with human-scale Stargates, which is just a "magic portal" dressed up with rubber science, and *not* the feel I'm going for at all.

    One idea I've been toying with is wormholes that do *not* violate Relativity. From a traveller's perspective, he only spent an hour or so in the wormhole ... but when he emerges, as far as the universe is concerned he's travelled his N light-years in N years and a bit. You can go to another planet, spend a month, and come back ... to find you've been gone a century.

    Actually, another one I like is Ursula K. LeGuin's idea that matter can't travel faster than light -- intact, anyway -- but information can. "Think Like a Dinosaur", by an author whose name has slipped my mind, posits an information-based "teleport" from one star to another, with the slight complication that a passenger ends up both here and there ... and the one here has to be rendered into atoms in order to "balance the equation".
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    I guess I was aiming for more of a "hard SF", "playing with the net up" feel, a la Gregory Benford. (Or for that matter, Firefly, if you disregard artificial gravity and questionable celestial mechanics.) I wanted to explore the idea of people _in space_, not people on boats or aircraft that somehow travel through space as most science fiction seems to do.

    The clearest indication of "you're not in Star Trek/Star Wars/Doctor Who anymore" is ships without a single "down" direction. After that, I wanted to ditch the whole "one city on the entire planet" cliche in a lot of media science fiction. (Planets are big. We're on one.) Making space travel actually hard in some way, and in particular making travel from one star system to another a major life choice, would emphasize that space is *different*.
    If thats the case then wouldn't you really just be playing a Sci-fi RPG set on another planet? Since Space Travel is difficult and a major life choice I would assume there would be a brief adventure on the vessel in space, dealing with no gravity and mechanical issues and then you land and start a new life on the new planet.

    I mean if its a risky proposition why would a hero continually risk it when there are plenty of adventure opportunities on the new planet?
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    Quote Originally Posted by Inquisitor Tremayne View Post
    If thats the case then wouldn't you really just be playing a Sci-fi RPG set on another planet? Since Space Travel is difficult and a major life choice I would assume there would be a brief adventure on the vessel in space, dealing with no gravity and mechanical issues and then you land and start a new life on the new planet.
    To be accurate, interstellar travel would be a life choice. Space travel within a system would be more reasonable. So, you might have one very well settled Earthlike planet, a few harsh but terraformed planets, and a bunch of orbitals, lunar colonies, and the like. The campaign might alternate between adventures on one or more planets and interplanetary voyages; depending on technology, voyages might range from slightly uncomfortable interludes to claustrophobic months-long voyages punctuated by hazards.

    While I haven't read Transhuman Space yet, that might be a model for the sort of campaign I'm thinking of. Only not within our Solar System, so the GM would have a blank slate to design cultures, flora and fauna.

    On the other hand, there's nothing wrong with "planetary romance" campaigns, where advanced Earthmen end up on a backward and dangerous planet, trying to get back home.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    I just blew about $25 downloading spaceship maps from Ki Ryn and Fat Dragon Games. The maps were interesting, but irked me somehow ... until I realized that they were all constructed like boats or aircraft: there's a front and a back, a port and a starboard, a floor and a ceiling.

    Uh, guys, this is SPACE!

    We're not on a TV budget here. Where are the designs that assume a spinning cylinder to provide an illusion of gravity? Where are the true "spacer" designs for people quite comfortable with zero-G? Why aren't they built like towers, since a more-or-less continuous thrust from "below" would provide a semblance of gravity? Why has none of these graphic artists looked at plausible starship designs and realizes the living quarters are tiny compared to the engines.

    Why aren't spaceships spherical? Conical? Icosahedral? Toroid?

    I mean, take this one: http://www.tullisart.com/fdg0006.html First off, it's like some Star Fleet Battles mutant offspring of Federation and Gorn cruisers who had a little too much dilithium one night. Second, each of the saucers is one floor. ONE! They're connected by long hallways with airlocks on both ends. Why? One hit and your ship is in two pieces. If I ever use this map -- and the interior is fairly nice -- I'll assume that the three saucers are actually three levels of an oblate spheroid craft ... or the crew area atop giant engines.

    OK, now that I've gotten that off my chest ... has anyone seen "plausible" floor plans of a spaceship or starship, as an RPG supplement or not? Anyone feel like designing one?


    uh, yes actually. i've designed some. my notes are in a rather incomprehensible format using star frontiers, knight hawks and neo's custom mods, and i'm not sure where they are. i actually designed six ships that could link together into a rather large super-ship. (no, it wasn't anthropomorphic). the main cannon was a fun piece of work however. working out the area and the shapes that area would take was rather fun. (who would have thought that descent 2 level designing would come in so handy for starship design!?)
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
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    Most every bit of science we just KNEW was true seems to get overturned by the next generation of thought. So postulating FTL, gravity fields, or wormholes is not beyond my concept of "hard" science fiction. As to linear oriented spacesphips, they have a comfort feel to them and fit easily into a sci-fi RPG with, after all, is just a game not a thesis paper. I'm also a fan of the KISS approach to game rules :-)
    Jay

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    heh. well, then go with neo's custom rules, but ignore the star frontiers rules. ^^

    i'm not the best person to go to for that sort of thing, after all, i actually like car wars car design and movement rules.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay View Post
    Most every bit of science we just KNEW was true seems to get overturned by the next generation of thought.
    But that cuts both ways. We don't have flying cars or robot butlers in the 21st century, but there are far more than six computers in existence doing things nobody thought of in the 40s. Past generations predicted moving walkways in every city and automatic traffic control of cars, but nobody thought we'd telecommute; Buck Rogers had a radio the size of a large suitcase with a giant microphone, but today we have cell phones that fit in your pocket and give you maps and weather.

    One of my reasons for keeping FTL and artificial gravity out of a space campaign was to shake players out of the familiar, but another is that I think if future generations ever do migrate into space they'll find the ships of Star Wars and Star Trek as naive and quaint as we find going to the Moon via giant cannon or Cavorite capsule.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    This is world building just like kingdoms or magic.

    What is the energy source?

    Sure in 15 years something may well happens that renders your extrapolation in accurate to real life.

    So?

    The reason why I ask what the power source is, is because that determines about everything else about your designs.

    Ships with a high energy supply, using anti-matter, or a magical "Zero-point" energy generator could have contant thrust.

    They'll be organized with a common up and down. The engines will fire constantly so the acceleration stands in for gravity.

    A ship with less energy will have to make burns at specific times, generally follow ballisitc courses, and probably will have a rotating section to mimic gravity if possible.

    Trips will be on the order of years. Ships will have to be self supporting.

    Some people have speculated about putting space cities into ellipitical orbits, so small ships making the passage from, say, earth to Mars could rendesvous with the space city - the crew and passengers spend six months as passengers/workers on the space city and then undock when they get near Mars.

    The real big problem with realistic space travel is that takes a heck of a long time and no place is that much fun to go to.

    Asteroid mining and building space cities seems to be a logical progression, (Assuming the huge problems of making self sustaining bio-spheres and in-space large fabrication could be solved)

    But then you get into questions of radiation and radiation shielding.

    Although there have been a few interesting experiments....

    http://www.ess.washington.edu/Space/M2P2/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini-ma...sma_propulsion

    These lead right back to the question - What is the power supply

    Although both these articles talk abot using this as a solar sail, one article I read a long time ago speculated about the effectiveness of this technique as a radiation shield.

    Jay ~Meow~

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    Hi-
    I was always a fan of Dick Tracy's wristwatch communicater and the gravity vessel they used to go to the moon :-)
    I do view the science to be RPG "magic" to use as you want. So if no FTL or artificial gravity makes your campaign fun, go for it.
    I would think it would still leave ships with a default up and down based on the prodominate acceleration vector. When the drive is turned off, then use all available surfaces for secondary functions.
    Jay

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    I think RPG and Fiction Science-Fantasy techno-magic needs to be jhjust as internally consistent and clearly thought out as fantasy magic or other parts of the world building.

    Jay ~Meow!~

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    But that cuts both ways. We don't have flying cars ... in the 21st century....
    actually we do. flying car, but it's pricey and difficult to get license for it.
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

  14. #29
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    I want a flying car! Too cool.
    Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.


  15. #30
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    and only for $500,000 ~ $995,000....
    nijineko the gm: AG16, CoS. nijineko the player: AtG, RttToH; . The Journal of Tala'elowar Kiyiik! .
    CrystalBallLite: the best dice roller on the planet! . nijineko the archivist: the 3.x archive

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