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Firestorm Armada science questions

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While writing FSA related stories I realized there were a few areas that I hope can be clarified.  (I have most of the Fluff sources, but haven't found definitive answers on the following questions)

 

 

1.) In FSA do any races possess faster than light communications?

 

2.) Are blind FSD jumps used?  How do ships get to unexplored systems?

 

3.) When FSD jumping, how accurate are the jumps?

 

4.) Is FSD jumping instantaneous?  If not what are the travel times?

 

5.)  Do ships when using a FSD keep their same momentum they jumped with?  

 

6.)  How are systems protected against fleets jumping in?  Just known jump points?  if not there would have to be some type of detection.

 

7.)  Is the use of FSD easily detected?  I am guessing yes since you are basically tearing a hole in the fabric of space to fold it.

 

8.)  How long do FSA ships/fleets take to navigate a solar system?   Do they travel near speed of light or much slower?

 

9.)  Can FSD be used in system?  Or does gravity mess up the jump?

 

I have a bunch more but I figured this would get the discussion going.   I know that these can't be definitively explained but perhaps others have see some of these in fluff that I may have missed.

 

 

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Most of those still fall into the "unknown" category.  Logically there has to be some limits on FSD jumps or the war would have started with the Zenian's jumping straight to Terra, nor would there be a reason for jump gates and waypoints (mentioned in fluff and scenarios).

 

I seem to recall some fluff about explorers blind jumping into a system in the early days (and probably still are at the edges of known space where way points and jump gates don't exist).  No need to really do so in the settled areas though (which is where the war is happening).

 

The new System Wars scenarios have battles taking place around planets, and FSD systems ARE disrupted, but only in a relatively small area.

 

I've mentally kind of assumed that FSD must have some sort of "error margin" that makes it dangerous to FSD too near your destination for civilians (drives not nearly as expensive/advanced), and even the military would prefer not to but will for tactical advantage (shunt reserves).  But most admirals would prefer to arrive somewhere safe where they can reform their fleet.  But that's just me.  Spartan is expanding the fluff (quite a bit actually, even just looking at RotO and System Wars), so hopefully these answers will arrive someday.

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1) Terran sattelites have FTL communication function, which is how the big-ass empire even holds together.  I would assume the other races have similiar if less extensive system in place.

 

The other questions- I recall that Alex said FSD jumps have set range beyond which it's just too inaccurate to aim, making the whole war even possible (or Dindrenzi would just jump into Terran orbit and nuke it).

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I've been wondering about some of those questions, too.

After all, is the FSD closer to operating like Freespace or Homeworld (Jump Points, "tunnels" between points)? Or is it more like how the Terrans in Starcraft cinematics or Wing Commander work (travel is instantaneous between jump points to the participants/observers)? Or is it closer to a Star Wars/Star Trek approach and just traveling along a shortened path (I find this less likely)?

Considering how some of the results are, I'm closer to the Freespace/Homeworld concept than the Starcraft/Wing Commander. Incoming ships can be detected, especially if the drive flares at the wrong point. Though, from what I've read so far, the travel may not be instantaneous, but the arrival isn't slow portaling like in Freespace/Homeworld, but rather quick ala Starcraft/Wing Commander.

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Valhalla has a few bits and pieces:

 

- jump beacons (Terran) are/can be defended by dedicated defense platforms, the system itself by system defense cutters and cruisers

- a surrounded/besieged system can still be supplied via jumps

- ships were able to make emergency shunts while being a few days worth of travel away from the jump beacon they entered the system from

- Terran ships made an intra-system shunt to intercept a planetfall division

- it takes days of regular travel within a system to reach another jump beacon

- jumping between systems is not instantaneously

- ships are able to communicate with each other during the jump

- ships can jump while cloaked

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Thank you Spartan Alex,  that answers things nicely.

 

I will go back and reread my fleet books to glean more info from them.  

 

Would the faster than light communications be able to be built into a purpose built ship?  (great game objective)   

 

Do the races have military observers/ambassadors stationed with the other Kurak/Zenian races?  I know some of these postings would be terribly difficult but like in real allied fleets its good to have members of an alliance available to talk to directly.

 

BRB:  Thank you, I totally forgot about the Valhalla scenarios.   I didn't see the being able to communicate ship to ship when in jump in the book.  

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  1. Yes, but it's not necessarily instant or widespread
  2. Yes, but they're risky - this is covered in various races information in the Fleet guides
  3. It depends on the race (not all "FSDs" use the same technology), the distance and the circumstances in which the journey is exectuted
  4. No, they are not. Travel times - see 3 above
  5. Once again, it depends, but generally, yes - one of the reasons a ship goes to full stop before performing a shunt
  6. Gravity affects the sustainment and accuracy of FTL travel, so suns, planets etc must be steered away from. As such, defences can be built around gravity wells - handy for planets. For longer shunts, waypoints are needed...so once again, this can be predicted for to some extent. Even so, space is a big, three-dimensional space, so it narrows things down rather than makes these "dead certs"
  7. Yes, shunts can be detected both during and at exit. The stations around the "borders" of the various races territories are really early warning stations - it's hard/almost impossible to have a defined border in a 3D volume when you can bypass it in another dimension!
  8. FSDs superseded wormholes because wormhole travel, although instantaneous, requires a massive amount of energy and an almost completely "smooth" gravity profile to propagate. in practice this means building huge gateways a long way from anywhere. This in turn means that wormhole travel is a little like a train network - travel between the stations is very fast, but the walk to your "local" station might take a very long time. So travelling for several weeks at sub-light speeds to get to a station, instant travel across several light years, then several weeks to get to where you're going. FSDs work more like a car - you can go anywhere you like you can shunt MUCH closer to a gravity well, but the actual journey in the car takes longer (usually days-weeks).
  9. As per (8) above, you can perform short shunts in-system between planets, with only the last part at "sub-light" speeds

 

Great answers! Can I ask some more...

 

  1. What's FSD like? Is the experience of being inside a ship in foldspace at all weird, or is it just like traveling in normal space? What do you see when you look out the window?
  2. Is it possible for two ships to interact in foldspace?
  3. Is it possible to pull a ship out of foldspace if you know its trajectory?
    • If 2 and 3 are not possible, how do pirates pirate?
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I think pirates pirate because of the other limitations: attacking between the gates/waypoints and their final in system destination when they are in normal space.

Agreed. Honorverse books explain it pretty much the same way. You know where they usually come from and head to, so the parameters can be narrowed down significantly. It's still not perfect, since space is still vast, but it can be possible to place one's ships in position to intercept unknowing targets, whether for piracy, privateering, or just simple convoy raiding. From there it is a combination of luck and vectors.

For example, if momentum is maintained, a cargo ship jumping between known safe points will not slow down to Jump, so resources are not used to decelerate and accelerate more than is needful. This allows a chance to be moving too fast for an intercepting force to reasonably catch if they are too far away as to leave the exit point empty.

Even if cargo ships do stop before jumping to avoid possibly colliding an unknown on the other end, acceleration vectors could still leave them outside an interceptor's basket.

I wonder if Q-ships exist in this universe?

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Q-Ships have been discussed in the past.  The problem at the time is that they were scenario specific--if they were good enough to use in a "normal" battle then extra good in a convoy ambush scenario then they would just replace the regular ships.  While if they were only valid in a convoy ambush scenario they weren't viable enough.

 

BUT, now that we've seen Spartan come up with a method to do something similar with Planetfall ships (ie, a MAR that works in one or more scenarios but can be removed in favor of a more traditional combat option for regular scenarios), I think the possibility can be thought about again....

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If long fold jumps are not feasible.  Then a bunch of smaller jumps through less populated space might be the only way to get to places.   I know I read that colonization followed the wormholes at first so a bunch of space was by passed.   If it is finally getting filled in then there would be  "back water" systems for pirates to operate in.   Also if folding is so easy, then pirate attacks could be pretty quick and furious fights, then bam gone again.   Would be quite frustrating for anti pirate forces.   And it doesn't help that cargo ships are built to be practical, not fast just rugged and efficient.   So their fold drives probably would not operate as quick as military ships.   The energy requirements to fold might take longer to build up for a commercial craft.  

 

I am liking the FSA universe more and more.    

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An "average" military grade FSD can take a ship the distance between Dramos to Haven. This will pretty much deplete the available fuel/energy store on the ship, leaving it basically helpless. As such, combat missions will involve a distance of about 40% of this distance - that allows a shunt in, combat manoeuvres and fighting, and have enough power to shunt out again to a friendly system to resupply. Dindrenzi FSDs are slightly faster and have slightly better range than their Terran counterparts.

 

This is what makes the borders in Firestorm "porous" and why the Dindrenzi aren't knocking on Terra's door. To do that, they'd have to either go through the Sorylian Collective, Aquan Sebrutan or the Storm Zone and Fathom's Reach. As the Storm Zone is narrow enough for both the Aquans and Sorylians to perform combat shunts into, in effectively acts as a kill-zone that the Dindrenzi would need to run the gauntlet of even before they reached the Terran Fortress fleets. To conceivably reach Terra would require a minimum of 13 combat shunts (needed because if the combat doesn't go well, you need to be able to fall back to resupply - no commander will go on a one-way shunt into enemy territory). Needless to say, the chances of doing that would be so small as to be regarded as impossible.

 

Thus the war so far has really been one of politicking and border skirmishes, ebbing and flowing over fairly well established lines. The impact may not feel like that to those on the front lines, but the main bulk of all sides forces has not really come into play...until now...

 

http://community.spartangames.co.uk/index.php?/topic/13181-firestorm-armada-community-campaign-set-3/

 

So in theory, given a large enough supply of fuel on a ship or one with very fuel efficient FSDs, one could jump from any point A to any point B in the universe (e.g. Dramos to Terra) without making a stop in between to recalculate/renavigate (similar to how Steve Fosset was able to circumfly the earth without refueling, but it would be completely unfeasable if not impossible for a military or commercial aircraft to do so)?

 

How do the jump beacons work? Do they only act as a target beacon for ships jumping towards it (meaning a ship anywhere in space can "target" a beacon and shunt towards it) or are there established lanes between two jump beacons (like what we have in the Wing Commander or Lost Fleet universes)?

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It's both...it's more like the problem with my car driving to the US from the UK isn't just about the range and lack of GPS, it just isn't feasible. Like using a plane to escape orbit, the technology just doesn't allow it....another innovation would be needed to allow longer shunts, like prop planes were never going to break the sound barrier.

 

So, just curious... let's say I were to take a Dindrenzi cruiser, chop off all the guns and use the extra space for a ton of fuel, then punch in the coordinates for Earth and hit go. Where would I end up? Would the drive fail part way and leave me stranded somewhere between Earth and Dramos? Would my atoms be scattered across the intervening space? Would I end up in the Andromeda Galaxy? Would the Overseers get me ;)?

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Alex,

 

During my lifetime of reading and watching sci-fi, generally speaking, I've found that there are three main variations of superluminal travel used in the genre:

 

1. "Hyperspace" (Star Wars, Babylon 5, Stargate ships, Warhammer 40k) Where a ship uses a drive or portal to enter a parallel dimension where either physical distances or the laws of physics are more...amenable to interstellar travel. These tend to require either points of gravitational neutrality or special fuels/drives to work, and ships can get thrown off course due to distortions in the hyperspace dimension.

 

2. "Warp Drive" (Star Trek, Mass Effect) Where a ship uses a drive to "bend" the laws of physics around itself, allowing it to move faster than light in violation of special relativity. Ships using this drive are susceptible to drive overloads or failures.

 

3. "Wormholes" (Stargate Stargates, Battlestar Galactica, Battletech) Where a ship or portal generates a hole between two points in space-time, allowing for instantaneous travel between the two points; or simply teleports between two points in space simultaneously. These drives tend to require massive amounts of energy to be dispersed in a single moment, and require either charge times or mass amounts of fuel.

 

From your previous descriptions, its apparent that Wormhole tech does exist, but which category does Fold Space Drive fall into? From the name and the description that it has travel times, as well as reversion energy spikes, I'm guessing it falls into the Hyperspace category.

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Alex- how does the fact that jumpgates need to be placed far away from celestial bodies mesh with the fact that sorylians use small jumpgates on their planets to move civilian traffic (instead of planes/ships I imagine)? Is it simple case of FSD jump being shortened by the mass around?

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Fuel is not the issue, the FSD is simply not capable of making that far a shunt.As I mentioned above, it's like a piston-engined prop plane - filling it with more fuel would not make it go faster If you had more fuel, you'd just be able to do another shorter jump a short time  after the initial one

 

Ah, ok. I just got the impression from your third post in this thread, that the limitations on the distance of a shut was the amount of fuel/energy needed. ("An "average" military grade FSD can take a ship the distance between Dramos to Haven. This will pretty much deplete the available fuel/energy store on the ship, leaving it basically helpless")

 

Jump beacons work by providing navigation signals for ships in foldspace to allow course corrections to allow accurate shunting - they do not allow longer shunts, they make it possible to perform accurate shunts over longer distances without putting your ship into a sun.

 

 

So basically you would just need a jump beacon at your destination on which you could orientate yourself and not necessarily at the point of your departure? 

 

What would happen if an FSD would fail or deactivate in the middle of the shunt? Would the ship just disappear and fade away, would it get torn apart or just slow down to "normal" speed?

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Ah, ok. I just got the impression from your third post in this thread, that the limitations on the distance of a shut was the amount of fuel/energy needed. ("An "average" military grade FSD can take a ship the distance between Dramos to Haven. This will pretty much deplete the available fuel/energy store on the ship, leaving it basically helpless")

 

I think you have to count both the fuel capacity and the accuracy decrease with distance. From what Alex wrote I got that the ships have enough fuel to jump pretty far, but the further they jump the more inaccurate and dangerous the jump is going to be. Also if they jump that far they will use all their fuel to do that and be pretty much helpless when then get to their destination...if they even get ther considering the difficulty to make these long jumps. I guess it is a computing issue as with the insane amount of data to calculate, recalculate, check and recheck the amount of tiny errors is going to increase and result in a really big error.

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I'd like to think of FSDs in FSA as two exponential lines on a graph. One representing accuracy which scales down in distance the other is fuel which scales up with distance. There will be an area that bisects for the highest distance but since these are exponential curves, you're hitting trouble past this mark.

 

Additionally, there is also the possibility that the computer calculations just can't compensate so it just doesn't work past a specific point. Think dividing by 0 on a calculator.

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Thank you Spartan Alex for being so involved!  I am really enjoying this conversation.   Oh and great segue into the invasion scenario, my wife approved my building of a permanent gaming table so I will be playing a bunch of the new scenarios.    

 

Defend the Alliance!!  Wipe out those Zenian scum!  

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?..So basically you would just need a jump beacon at your destination on which you could orientate yourself and not necessarily at the point of your departure? 

Not necessarily, since space is 3 dimensional normally and it is a "fold" space drive there are extra-dimensions involved multiple beacons may be necessary to make sure you orient back to the same relative positions otherwise you could end up anywhere along very extensive linear series of coordinates or possibly just on a single correct geometric plane. They same way we use 3 locations to triangulate a position on the surface of our planet I suspect FSD jumps will be mist accurate when 3-4 beacons (plus the ship itself' navigation system) can be referenced.

?

 

What would happen if an FSD would fail or deactivate in the middle of the shunt? Would the ship just disappear and fade away, would it get torn apart or just slow down to "normal" speed?

I suspect that would depend on the technology being used since Alex said different races use different methods but it's like any other technological failure in a vehicle sometimes the crew and vessel can be recovered and/or repaired with minor effort meaning only a slight delay other times the incident is so catastrophic no one can ever figure out what exactly happened with all the options in between.

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I suspect that would depend on the technology being used since Alex said different races use different methods but it's like any other technological failure in a vehicle sometimes the crew and vessel can be recovered and/or repaired with minor effort meaning only a slight delay other times the incident is so catastrophic no one can ever figure out what exactly happened with all the options in between.

Possibly. But some interstellar drive systems are set up so that if the drive fails, you are stuck in whatever mode you are in.

For example, Star Wars and Star Trek both rely on their drives to maintain their presence in the "side-space", which is why they can be forced out of it. If the drive fails in interstellar space, finding you can be as hard as being broke down on a lonely trail road off of a lonely highway while jumbo jets fly over.

However, the Hyper drives in the Honorverse only work to transition the ship between the different "spaces". So, if the drive fails while in hyperspace, you are stuck on that plane until you fix it or rescued. It can be easier to be found there if you are in a major avenue of trade, but space can be vast, even there.

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