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[GZG] Hello List and some ruminations on FTL

From: David Billinghurst <davebill@c...>
Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 22:17:13 +1200
Subject: [GZG] Hello List and some ruminations on FTL

Gzg-l mailing list List,

Old school Traveller player (from the little black book era), have
recently stumbled across Full Thrust.  Wow!  This is how space battles
should be played!

Have tried out a couple of solo games to get the hang of Vector movement
(single ship actions) and am looking to expand the action in my next
game.  Having played a fair bit of Napoleonic Naval (Rod Langton's
excellent rules), I found the order writing and vector plotting fairly
easy to follow.  Now to work on the tactics :)

One thing I find fascinating about FT is that you have a detailed
tactical game, and a rich official background, yet the whole
strategic/FTL component is so blurry.  You can really do what you like. 
Trolling the back-posts on this list turned up some very interesting
discussions on the FTL side of things.	As an aside, someone mentioned
David Brin's Uplift series as an example of different alien races
achieving FTL via different means (I seem to remember 'Startide Rising'
describing a confrontation between a variety of space-faring sentients)
- sorta gas or petrol or diesel, depending on how you bend, fold or
slide through the bit between 'here' and 'there'.

This brings me to the strategic side of the game.  As the Tuffleyverse
is basically the local stellar neighbourhood, and given that the longest
recorded human realspace displacement (per FB1) is about 7 light years,
would one be too far out to assume that usual (military) jumps are in
the order of 4 - 5 light years (about Jump-2 in Travellerese)?

I've had a quick look at the Unofficial/Official starmaps some amazingly
talented gentleman has posted on the net, but my knowledge of local
stellar astrography is too poor to begin to understand what links the
various pieces together.  Like real estate, stellar 'empires' must be
governed by location.  Why would someone claim a starsystem?  For
resources or position.	Why position?  Because, to go from here to there
requires a lay-over or a refueling stop.  

As FTL is explained in the rule books, one travels in a series of hops. 
There is nothing to prevent a ship, or Fleet, hopping across the galaxy.
 If the Kra'vak are attacking Terra, why do they need to attack, or
besiege, Centaurus and Barnard's Star?	They can gaily skip across the
deep dark, rendeavous in the Oort, and zap Hume central.  

But, according to the background, the NAC, for example, have lifted
their capital to New Albion (where is that, BTW?).  All the Hume eggs
are no longer in one basket (I'm guessing that the NSL, FSE and ESU have
also established off-Terra capitals?  Otherwise, Sol system is going to
be one crowded and tense little space, with the UNSC running traffic
control and keeping the various 'home' fleets at arm's length).  So
zapping Hume central makes as much strategic sense as the Humes zapping
the Kra'vak homeworld - great morale effect (on both sides), but little
strategic effect - ok, so maybe it would be a great strategic stroke, in
that it could do one of two things, 1) crush the enemy's will to resist
in taking out their 'emotional' home but, more likely, 2) drive the
enemy into a war of revenge that will go right up to species extinction.


But, back to my original FTL point.  In Traveller, for example, fleet
movement is regulated by supply, in particular the supply of hydrogen
fuel for J-drives.  Hence, worlds with free-standing water, or systems
with gas giants, suddenly become strategically important (think coaling
stations in dreadnaught era naval games).  Tankers can accompany fleets,
but the control of systems with free (or cheap) hydrogen in quantity
shorten supply lines and enhance force projection (ooh, I'm getting all
arm-chair technical :) ) otherwise the whole concept of 'frontiers'
becomes meaningless.  I can launch my fleet from my homeworld, take as
many hops as I need, and pop up in any system you own - and you'll never
see me coming/my line of advance!  How do you defend against that?  Do
all important/high pop worlds get orbital forts while all ships are
sucked into vagabond fleets that charge about like Germanic tribes
forcing the Rhine?  How do you, as defender, run down these invaders
when they'll vanish into the dark to pop up somewhere else?  Sounds very
Saxon/Viking to me, not much fun for the Saxons :)

Anyway, back to the Tuffleyverse, I'm assuming there is some finite
range on ship/fleet FTL movement, be it fuel or supplies.  Otherwise,
I'd suspect the little pocket states that are popping up would not be

'nough from me,



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