Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Robots As Spaceships: Swimmers

As a sequel to terrestrial motive systems, we will be looking at aquatic motive systems. This time, we will be looking less at cost, and more at speeds when using small size modifiers. We will be inspecting Ballast Tanks, Underwater Screws, Surface Screws, and Flexibody Drive-Trains. All of these systems are from Pyramid #3/34

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Terrestial Motive Systems

There are many jokes about physicists and frictionless vacuums. Space is the rare environment that is a frictionless vacuum, and that makes calculating spaceship movement strangely simple, if foreign to those accustomed to terrestrial movement. When on the ground, a host of forces acting on a vehicle create a complex environment to move through.

A complex environment many of us have an intuitive grasp of, and we notice when things are a bit off. We plan to use Spaceship's Motive systems in a lot of our robots, and its worth tweaking a few of the numbers.

In this article, we'll be looking at tracks, wheels, and legs, the simplest and most common motive systems for robots in fiction (along with hovering, which suspends disbelief about its performance along with everything else). Legs come from spaceships 4, while wheels and tracks come from Pyramid  3/34.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Robots as Spaceships: Responsive Movement


In our analysis of the Gunbot, we noticed two ways that robots could move. About half of them moved similar to humans, with a base move of 5 and a very similar top speed. They could move as far as they wanted in any direction, but they had a very low top speed. They moved like a person. The other Robots have very small base moves but much larger total moves. They took a few seconds to get up to speed. This sort of movement we will call "train-like".

Spaceships uses train-like movement, with the minor exception of leg systems, which start off person-like but get more train-like as leg systems are added. Its likely that both types of movement can be engineered and each will be engineered for different purposes.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Melee Weapon Packages for the BAT

Action 4 is among my most useful Gurps books. Its a great way to build characters quickly, either for NPC's who need more than the basic sketch, For one shot PC's that will be used only once, or for figuring out the capabilities of a tricky character. The Basic Action Template (BAT) (or another basic template) provides a starting point for the character, and then "Packages" are chosen to add capabilities.

One package in Action 4 is rather non-descript: Obsolete weapons. Rather than providing any real guidance, the template says to get enhanced parry, and then spend 12 points on skills and 8 points on techniques in the weapons you want. Flexible, but uninspiring.

Historical rather tangential to the main topic of action, but I find myself using the BAT and its associated packages for more and more. (see ICOPs, Gurps Action, and the BAT). The BAT can do more than just action, and It can do better than building "obsolete weapons" packages from scratch each time.

But there is a Gurps product that gives advice on building specific types of warriors: Martial Arts. Martial Arts has a list of 113-ish "styles", detailing how to buy skills and techniques to fight like almost any warrior in history. Using that as our guide, we can make more nuanced packages for the BAT.

We will rundown the classic melee weapon systems of history, with something of a European emphasis. We will cover:

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Spaceships: How Much Damage Should Guns Do?

by Mohamed Baki
Its been noted that kinetic weapons in spaceships are among the most powerful weapons in Gurps, and they contribute greatly to the "Eggshells with Hammers" paradigm worked out by gurps spaceships. When I scaled spaceships down to SM+0, a major battery didt 15 dice of damage, either as a crushing explosion or with a (2) armor divisor. I'd love to have that kind of damage as a SM+0 player, but I'd dread it as a GM, and it kind of breaks my sense of immersion

Here, we're going to figure out what the weapons damage SHOULD BE, in order to play nicely with High Tech and Ultra Tech. We will be comparing damage, weight, and caliber. While range and rate of fire are also important, I will be ignoring these for now, much as I did in last week's look at beam weapons.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Spaceship Weapons: How Much Damage Should Beam Weapons Do?

Gurps spaceships is an extremely flexible system that lets us build not only spaceships but a wide variety of vehicles. Unfortunately, it seems to produce "Eggshells with Hammers": Ships able to trivially pierce each other's defenses, with even dedicated defensive designs struggling to survive a single hit. This has often been attributed to scaling problems, but when I built a SM+0 "Tank Bot" all the problems remained: it was an eggshell with a hammer.

In a previous post, I looked at how tough spaceship's armor should be. I hadn't planned on exploring the weapons systems, but a few folks expressed interest, and I decided to dig into the topic.

So if spaceship's weapons are off, how much are they off, and what should they look like? Here we will look at the damage for one of the weapon systems, and compare it to the Ultra-tech book. Spaceships has two types of weapons: beams and projectiles, and it treats them very differently. This post will discuss lasers, but posts on the more difficult topic of kinetic weapons are coming. Beam weapons are the less troublesome of the two attacks, and this post will focus more on comparison than on changes.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Robots as Spaceships: Arms, Legs, and Mecha

concept art by Pascal Blanche
One of the great staples of science fiction is the humanoid machine. These take many forms: mass produced battle droids, sinister machine infiltrators, humorous robot butlers and futuristic telepresence androids are all essentially machines shaped like a human.  Even power suits are ultimately human-shaped machines capable of moving under their own power. Including humanoid robots in our system is critical, not to mention quadrupeds, octopoids, and other organic shapes.  Spaceships will give us most of what we need, but we will need to extrapolate just a little, and make sure the system builds what we need it to.