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Strategic scale

posted Sep 08, 2016 19:14:35 by StephenRider
Howdy!

One thing that I'd like the writers to think about when putting together ship stats'n'stuff is the strategic scale. Right now I'm noodling around with how I might keep some internal consistency for the background events with the Cardassian/Federation border wars.

So far depending on if you look at either the Decipher stats or the Spacedock stats for Icon, you end up with some troubling questions that I hope that Modiphius is able to sidestep:

1) what is the difference between cruise, sustained and maximum? Maximum means a short dash, but what about the difference between cruise a sustained?

2) Does it make sense to have slower modern ships? Is there a reason that the Nova is 1/3 the speed (at sustained) as a Galaxy? It makes logistics and coordinating the fleet much more challenging, it also means that the Nova takes 11 days to cross a sector, whereas much older ships can do it in as few as five days.

So that's my peace (for now). I'm really looking forward to the RPG and starting the playtest. I'm also looking forward to, hopefully, even if it's just for my own enjoyment, finally getting something strategic and wargamey on the table too.
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30 replies
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Nathan.Dowdell said Sep 09, 2016 11:53:00
1) what is the difference between cruise, sustained and maximum? Maximum means a short dash, but what about the difference between cruise a sustained?

To my understanding, the biggest difference between Warp Factors is the amount of power required for each successive integer - it takes a an order of magnitude more power to establish the field for Warp 6 than it does for Warp 5, as shown by the yellow line on this graph, though sustaining a field once you've established it takes much less power.



I would surmise that Cruise represents a speed that the ship can maintain for long periods of time - months, really. It's the fastest the ship can go without massively depleting fuel and power reserves.

Sustained is the ship's "normal" maximum speed - the normal top speed of the ship in normal circumstances, roughly equivalent to the nautical "Full Speed Ahead". You'll use up power and fuel much faster, and it's less efficient, but it's well within the tolerances and limits of the engines, so it won't damage anything.

Maximum is the top speed that the ship can safely manage (any faster may damage the ship, either by burning out systems or the effect of inertial forces on the hull), without regard for fuel/power considerations, equivalent to the nautical "Flank Speed" (which is faster than "Full Speed Ahead", but only really used in emergencies because it burns through fuel and pushes the practical limits of the engines).

2) Does it make sense to have slower modern ships? Is there a reason that the Nova is 1/3 the speed (at sustained) as a Galaxy? It makes logistics and coordinating the fleet much more challenging, it also means that the Nova takes 11 days to cross a sector, whereas much older ships can do it in as few as five days.

As noted, the biggest issue with hitting the higher Warp Factors is power - a Galaxy class will travel at Warp 5 or Warp 6 outside of an emergency, simply because that uses less power and causes less wear on the engines. A high sustained or maximum speed is only really valuable in a crisis, and not all ships need those higher top speeds. The Nova is a short-range scientific survey vessel; it doesn't need those top emergency speeds. Deep space exploration vessels (such as the Intrepid class), combat vessels (like the Defiant or Akira classes), and the like (the big multirole explorers like the Galaxy that do a bit of everything) are the ones that will need high top speeds, especially if they're used as test-beds for new technologies.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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StephenRider said Sep 09, 2016 13:15:15
Nathan,

Thanks for you reply, I feel confident that y'all are putting thought into this topic.

To my understanding, the biggest difference between Warp Factors is the amount of power required for each successive integer - it takes a an order of magnitude more power to establish the field for Warp 6 than it does for Warp 5, as shown by the yellow line on this graph, though sustaining a field once you've established it takes much less power.


That's a really good point and one that I hope is reflected in a ship design system (if/when you offer one). I know for my own purposes I'll be noodling around with trying to get an excel spreadsheet to calculate out the power usage from that graph.

I would surmise that Cruise represents a speed that the ship can maintain for long periods of time - months, really. It's the fastest the ship can go without massively depleting fuel and power reserves.

Sustained is the ship's "normal" maximum speed - the normal top speed of the ship in normal circumstances, roughly equivalent to the nautical "Full Speed Ahead". You'll use up power and fuel much faster, and it's less efficient, but it's well within the tolerances and limits of the engines, so it won't damage anything.

Maximum is the top speed that the ship can safely manage (any faster may damage the ship, either by burning out systems or the effect of inertial forces on the hull), without regard for fuel/power considerations, equivalent to the nautical "Flank Speed" (which is faster than "Full Speed Ahead", but only really used in emergencies because it burns through fuel and pushes the practical limits of the engines).


You can copy and paste that into the relevant section if nothing else:)

As noted, the biggest issue with hitting the higher Warp Factors is power - a Galaxy class will travel at Warp 5 or Warp 6 outside of an emergency, simply because that uses less power and causes less wear on the engines. A high sustained or maximum speed is only really valuable in a crisis, and not all ships need those higher top speeds. The Nova is a short-range scientific survey vessel; it doesn't need those top emergency speeds. Deep space exploration vessels (such as the Intrepid class), combat vessels (like the Defiant or Akira classes), and the like (the big multirole explorers like the Galaxy that do a bit of everything) are the ones that will need high top speeds, especially if they're used as test-beds for new technologies.


I see the logic there and it makes sense, same with the logic of the Google self driving cars having a max speed of 20 mph (or something silly like that) inside a city you're not going to get above that, so the fact that your Buggati Veyron can hit 253 mph is impressive, but not practical.

However (and do note that the the context that I'm looking at this through is "during war time, how fast are these ships moving around"), the differences in speed are a bit more than than. Putting Warp 7 at 55 mph (highway speed for a truck and trailer)

Warp Speed mph
1 0 (108 thousand miles to the gallon)
2 1 (thirteen thousand miles to the gallon)
3 3 (1421 miles to the gallon)
4 9 (142 miles to the gallon)
5 18 (30 miles to the gallon)
6 33 Galaxy, Nebula, Intrepid, Nova cruise speed (not bad for cruising around town, but I doubt I'd want to go that slow on the freeway) (7.71 miles to the gallon)
7 55 Nova max sustainable speed (well, that's what you get for having an underpowered ship) (1.5 mpg)
8 86 Nova dash speed, unless you commit genocide. (0.18 miles to the gallon)
9 127 (0.03 miles to the gallon)
9.2 138 Galaxy and Nebula max sustainable speed
9.4 151
9.6 169 Intrepid max sustainable speed
9.8 205
9.9 254 Uprated Galaxy and Nebula dash speed
9.95 324
9.982 498

(yes, the table is a mess in the forum)
(edit: corrected mpg)

Working those numbers out makes me think that I need to have a better understanding of the size of the fuel tank the ships have (and that, as per the TNG tech manual, refined anti-matter is really valuable, something I think I'd overlooked)

Thank you for forcing me to look at something I'd overlooked and I hope that this discussion has/will have a positive effect on Modiphius' presentation of ships for the Star Trek RPG.
[Last edited Sep 09, 2016 15:44:20]
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Nathan.Dowdell said Sep 09, 2016 14:48:50
I see the logic there and it makes sense, same with the logic of the Google self driving cars having a max speed of 20 mph (or something silly like that) inside a city you're not going to get above that, so the fact that your Buggati Veyron can hit 253 mph is impressive, but not practical.

However (and do note that the the context that I'm looking at this through is "during war time, how fast are these ships moving around"), the differences in speed are a bit more than than. Putting Warp 7 at 55 mph (highway speed for a truck and trailer)

One consideration here is that Warp Factors are similar to the concept of a Mach Number: Mach 1 isn't a fixed velocity, but rather a dimensionless quality that is the speed of sound in whatever air conditions (temperature, pressure, etc) are present in that situation.

Similarly, how fast you travel at any given Warp Factor is a combination of the subspace distortion the vessel is generating (measured in Cochranes, where 1 Cochrane can propel a vessel at the speed of light under normal conditions) - the Warp Field, generated by the nacelles - as well as prevailing conditions such as gas and particle density, electrical and magnetic fields, subspace variations, gravity, and a range of other factors.

Crucially, this means that in certain parts of space, there are areas where you can travel more quickly with a lower Warp Factor - these would, presumably, be the core of trade routes between worlds, as they'd allow more efficient travel, and in times of war, these routes would be vital to logistics and strategic movement.

And for the Nova-class, that should be fine. Because it's not a front-line warship. It's a tiny little short-range science and survey vessel. It's armament is defensive. Starfleet isn't a military, and it has ships for a variety of different purposes. You'll note that ships (in the 24th century) which are designed for long-range exploration and/or expected to face combat tend to have maximum speeds in the 9.5-9.975 range, but even they can't sustain those sorts of speeds for very long simply due to the sheer power involved. The Nova isn't one of those ships, just like you wouldn't expect a cargo freighter to travel at those speeds.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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StephenRider said Sep 09, 2016 15:24:47
One consideration here is that Warp Factors are similar to the concept of a Mach Number: Mach 1 isn't a fixed velocity, but rather a dimensionless quality that is the speed of sound in whatever air conditions (temperature, pressure, etc) are present in that situation.


I can accept that idea, though my "I want me space to be 3D and the maps to make sense" brain has some issue reconciling how to show that effectively, though I'd imagine that one could do it with a schematic map ala the London Tube map rather than exact locations for the worlds.

It could also make a area rather than hex based map make sense, especially if there are warp corridors...good thoughts there:)

(it also provides a logical reason for the node map you end up with in Star Trek: Ascendancy, what is being discovered/mapped is the efficient route between systems).

Assuming I did my math right (I'll email you the spreadsheet if you want), if we let a Galaxy class starship have 1000 units of energy, it can get a EU/LY of:
Warp 1-3 basically free
Warp 4 0.2 EU/ly
Warp 5 0.4 EU/ly
Warp 6 0.8 EU/ly
Warp 7 2.6 EU/ly
Warp 8 14.0 EU/ly
Warp 9 62.8 EU/ly

if the energy use is the same for all ships, then the Nova's specs make a bit more sense, it doesn't have the space for the larger engine and larger fuel tank, so why have either if it's not going to be used practically.

It also means that at a several month turn scale I can reasonably justify ships having to end at port as they'll likely burn through a lot of their anti-matter.

As for holy smokes, that's a cargo ship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algol-class_vehicle_cargo_ship#Fast_Sealift_Ships

Though that's not a typical ship at all.

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GregLong said Sep 10, 2016 02:22:46
So I'm not a mathy person ..... so my biggest hope in regards to warp speed is how K.I.S.S.able it is. :)
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SteveHanson said Sep 10, 2016 04:04:05
The GM can make it as simple or as complex as they want. A good GM will read his players and scale it to what they want.
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StephenRider said Sep 10, 2016 14:13:21
The absolutely wonderful thing about Star Trek is that it's big enough for all of us to enjoy what we want. For some of us that's going to be adding little details of "okay, for the Enterprise to make this dash, we're going to have to refuel here, and here, which is going to mean X, Y and Z" and we like the Horatio Hornblower/eight bells in space/underway replenishment and all that good stuff, other people want to say "Engage, Mr. Sulu" and be done with it.

I'd like to think that like a certain Vulcan pointed out that we all benefit from diversity. I doubt I'd use most of what I'm working on here with the group that I normally RPG with, though you can bet that in the background I'd be looking at these issues and crafting some pretty brutal alternatives.

For the less mathy, what would be a useful level for it to be boiled down to?

My ultimate goal is to have a better understanding of what really goes on behind the scenes in the Dominion War and what earlier and later conflicts look like at a strategic level, but how exactly that's going to shape up, I'm not sure right now. Thanks to Nathan's composed response I've gone from "OMG the stats in previous versions of Star Trek are so wankish that there's no way the Federation could lose strategically due to superior speed" to "OMG even if the Enterprise could cruise for three years at Warp 6, (cruising range of 1179 ly, for what it's worth) she'd burn up her entire fuel supply at Warp 9 in 23 hrs 28 minutes 54.6 seconds and not even make it from Earth to Alpha Centauri. Give or take."

Right now I think that the ultimate form of that understanding/tool is going to take the form of a hex and counter tool kit (I hesitate to call it a war-game because I'm not sure how gamey it'll be in the end). What other ways of presenting it will be useful to fellow forum goers?
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StephenRider said Sep 10, 2016 14:57:55
I went back and reread the TNG: Tech Manual and found that the Enterprise-D's cruising range is seven years at warp 6, not the three years that I thought. That changes things a little bit, so the cruising range at speed now works out to:
Warp 5, 50 years, 10684 LY
Warp 6, 7 years, 2747 LY
Warp 7, 10 months, 534 LY
Warp 8, 22 days, 64 LY
Warp 9, 2 days, 9.62 LY

Which at least passes the truthiness test.
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GregLong said Sep 11, 2016 21:23:09
What I'm hoping for is just a general idea of how far one can expect to go based on X warp speed. So if they provided a map of the galaxy and say the GM is starting out at Earth and they need to get to DS9. I can check the map to see how far away it is and then use the Warp factor to easily calculate travel time. So Warp 1 movies you X lightyears per (day or minute or hour or however they want to break it down).

So if Warp 5 moves me 50 light years per day (as a random pick) and DS9 is say 200 lightyears away from Earth (using the map and the scale provided but the number I picked was random for the purpose of this example) then it would take me 4 days at Warp 5 to get there.

Just something simple like that. I wouldn't mind more technical, but I would prefer the more technical to be maybe an optional rule set so that those of us who aren't into all the math just have a simple plug and play way to do it too.

Knowing how much fuel and stuff is used up is useful info to have but I'd rather have fuel issues be matters of story development than something that the players and GM micromanage. Again not saying such things shouldn't be discussed, just hoping that there is also a less complicated way to deal with the issue too.
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ssand_46@yahoo.com said Sep 11, 2016 23:05:59
What GregLong said....
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GregLong said Sep 12, 2016 00:32:21
What also might be good is speed bonus based on ship class or even specific ships. So say the Defiant gets a +5 speed bonus and can travel +5 lightyears compared to other ships because it's an "escort" ship and it needs to warp from crisis situations faster than your average ship (thus arriving at DS9 in 3.6 days as opposed to 4 days). Those kind of things would allow for certain classes of ship to stand out in regards to speed without having to fiddle to much with the basic speed of travel rules.
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StephenRider said Sep 12, 2016 03:40:03
Well, taking what we know from the Next Generation and Deep Space Nine Tech Manuals I can tell you that DS9 is 52 light years from Earth, that works out to 89 days at Warp 5, 48 at Warp 6, 29 at Warp 7, 19 at Warp 8 and 13 days at Warp 9.

Cool enough, right? Well at Warp 8 or less you can get there without refueling, though at Warp 8 you'll have used 5/6 of your fuel. At Warp 9, you'll need to refuel six times, likely eating up the time savings.

Now is this really going to influence a game? Likely not, but I know that I'd enjoy some of the filigree around the care and feeding of matter anti-matter reactors:) Plus it suggests there might be a pony express like setup for the Federation so when you absolutely, positively had to get a Galaxy class starship across the Federation pronto, you could.

Given what we know about warp speeds, we can say that for your 4 day limit, it works out like this:
Warp 1....0.01 LY
Warp 2....0.14 LY
Warp 3...0.53 LY
Warp 4....1.40 LY
Warp 5....2.92 LY
Warp 6....5.37 LY (a little past Alpha Centuari now)
Warp 7....8.98 LY
Warp 8....14 LY
Warp 9....21 LY (if only you had the fuel for it)
Warp 9.2..22 LY
Warp 9.4..25 LY
Warp 9.6..28 LY
Warp 9.8..34 LY
Warp 9.9..42 LY
Warp 9.95..53 LY (hello Bajor, it's me, Earth)
Warp 9.982..83 LY
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Nathan.Dowdell said Sep 12, 2016 10:54:01
From my perspective, this is all background theory-crafting, things which can subsequently inform my decisions as designer. It's unlikely to turn up in anywhere near this much detail in the rules, but as a fan of Trek-technology, it's something I enjoy thinking about.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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ScottB said Sep 12, 2016 15:26:34
I do so love Trek theory crafting, I do - however as I've grown as a Narrator/Dungeon Master/Game Master (etc) I've honestly found that sometimes rather than worry painstakingly about the details moving things at the speed of plot is often the best answer.

My math brain cries out in anguish every time I do it, believe me it does, but I often found myself referring back to show situations. Example I once used: Party is needing to race to the next colony in danger while effecting repairs from battle; I did some rough calculations and realized that at emergency speed - which was more than called for - the party would arrive well before the repairs could be completed. I wanted more dramatic pacing so I decided instead the party had just enough time to show up on cue, but the real trick was the repairs would take a little longer - so the party needed to push the repairs pace to meet a "deadline" of sorts.

Mind you I appreciate that all styles have their place, and whatever both the person running the game and the players do to achieve having fun is the primary goal - or should be. To anyone with whom the math and realism is causing stress, I say simply find a way to make it dramatic and worry less about numbers where you can.
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StephenRider said Sep 12, 2016 16:34:16
The only stress I have about this is trying to figure out the parabolic sawtooth pattern for energy consumption. Everything else is interesting.

I, for one, find the idea of a refueling operation at Warp 9 potentially awesome for drama, especially if something goes wrong and the refueled ship has to make a choice between saving the tanker or meeting its deadline.
[Last edited Sep 12, 2016 16:34:28]
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