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rgrove0172

Star Wars Sublight Drive

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First of all, what 2P51 said: this isn't supposed to be realistic in any way, shape or form. The Star Wars universe is about style and coolness, not scientific accuracy.

 

Second, keep in mind that watching a couple of ships using 10 minutes to close with each other over the vast distances involved in space would make for an extremely boring movie. Same for how hyperspace travel in the movies seems almost instantaneous, while hyperspace travel in the game takes hours and days. Movies have about 2 hours to tell the whole story they're telling; there's no time to waste on long travel times.

 

I once read a science fiction series called the Lost Fleet, which featured the most realistic space combat I've ever encountered. The fleets would move into formation and spend several hours accelerating towards each other at about 10% of lightspeed. They would flash past each other at such velocities that human beings were not involved in the firing process at any level - only computers were fast enough to get off a shot before the enemy was 10,000 kilometres behind you. And then they'd spend several hours braking down, coming about and accelerating towards each other again for another pass. A space battle could take several days before there was a clear winner. Needless to say, this would make for a fairly boring movie and an incredibly boring roleplaying game.

That seems sub optimal...why wouldn't someone just seed their wake with a cloud of ball bearings and watch the other fleet get shredded in their rear view?  And given that, why would you ever fly past an enemy fleet, why wouldn't you use very fast missiles that you sling out in front of you to deploy a ball bearing shield that shreds the opposing fleet before they get to you, and you merely fly off in another direction so that you don't get shredded by their debris?  The only possible quasi "realistic" answer (because no solid matter is going to hold up in a relativistic collision) is that they have force fields but even then I wouldn't consider that realistic.  magnetic fields wouldn't help because if they did the ball bearings would be made out of lead so that magnetic fields wouldn't help.  Thus "realistic" star ship combat wouldn't take place at relativistic speeds because it would be suicidal.  Honestly, realistic starship combat involves stealth drones taking out the enemy from the equivalent of "beyond the horizon" and having your own picket drones to take out the enemies drones that are trying to take you out.

 

 

It sounds like Lost Ships combat was based on how they fought during the days of sail with Ships of the Line.  They upped the speed to make it futuristic by having computers do all the work and in a way it is realistic, but not based upon modern tactics. It would fit more with ships not slatted for combat than a vessel designed for combat operations. Or something that Space Carriers would do after they launched their fighters. It is an outdated tactic that fits with last ditch efforts or radical surprise attacks. 

I have scene some SciFi series do the submarine hunter tactics which I think works far better than Ship of the Line style from Lost Ships.  Also the new SyFy show the Expanse has had some Ship to Ship combat action that fits into realistic. 

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I take it as Artistic License, otherwise the Galaxy becomes VERY VERY VERY small, or everyone can travel VERY VERY VEYR fast (as in, traverse the entire galaxy in a few hours), which from an RP POV, becomes very.... dull. (IMO)

 

 

I don't see it that way. Today, I can get on an airplane and be just about anywhere in the world within a day. That doesn't mean he Earth is too small or that it's too boring. Sure, in SW, you can fly from any system to any other system in the galaxy in a matter of minutes or hours, but when you do so you're flying past millions of planets that each can contain their own mysteries. So, getting there isn't the point. It's finding out where to go and what to do when you get there that is the source of adventure. 

 

The best analogy is Indiana Jones. When he needs to get somewhere, they show the globe with a line zipping across it as they travel. Just replace the globe with a galaxy and the airplane with the Millenium Falcon and you've got Star Wars. 

Edited by Hedgehobbit

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When you consider that, in Star Wars, space combat occurs completely within visual range, you also have to consider that, in a dog-fight, it is *relative*, not absolute velocity that matters.

 

With that in mind, it doesn't matter that you can go from the edge of the system to relaxing in a cantina on the surface of an inner planet in a few hours.

If two fleets are fighting at visual range, they can be going 90% the speed of light, and only be going a few hundred kph *relative* to one another at any point during the battle.

 

What's more, the level of thrust, and inertial damping necessary to achieve the first, is consistent with actively evading fire during the second.  At least to within an order of magnitude or so.

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When you consider that, in Star Wars, space combat occurs completely within visual range, you also have to consider that, in a dog-fight, it is *relative*, not absolute velocity that matters.

 

All space combat in movies or TV shows occurs at visual range, otherwise the viewer can't actually see what's going on. 

 

Consider that the Falcon in ESB was going really slow relative to the ISDs and asteroids yet had no reason to slow down to "attack speed" as it was trying to escape and not fight. The movement in combat in the movies seems pretty consistent with the speeds from the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter games which is clearly insufficient to explain other rapid movement (such as from Yavin to the DS or from Hoth to an asteroid field and then to Bespin). 

 

Handwaving is the only real solution. When a ship leaves a planet's surface, a moon would be Extreme range and just wing it from there. 

Edited by Hedgehobbit

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Coming late in the discussion, but I also believe that hyperspace travel is faster in the movies/cartoons that it is in RPGs.

 

Even considering that movies contract travel time for the sake keeping good a pace, a few elements hint toward hyperspace travel being measured in a matter of hours rather than days. The Emperor rescuing Anakin on Mustafar is one, the rebel fleet making a jump to the death star in battle formation (including pilots in their cockpits) is another, or Luke making the Hoth-Daggobah trip without stretching his legs or go to the bathroom and I could go on with examples from the Clone Wars cartoons.

 

I think long hyperspace travel does contribute to make the galaxy feel like a bigger place (rather than, say, North America where one can drive from one point to any other in less than a week assuming non-stop driving) but I don't think it represents the movies that well. If you want to go strictly by the movie, I do believe jumps need to be a lot shorter.

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First of all, what 2P51 said: this isn't supposed to be realistic in any way, shape or form. The Star Wars universe is about style and coolness, not scientific accuracy.

 

Second, keep in mind that watching a couple of ships using 10 minutes to close with each other over the vast distances involved in space would make for an extremely boring movie. Same for how hyperspace travel in the movies seems almost instantaneous, while hyperspace travel in the game takes hours and days. Movies have about 2 hours to tell the whole story they're telling; there's no time to waste on long travel times.

 

I once read a science fiction series called the Lost Fleet, which featured the most realistic space combat I've ever encountered. The fleets would move into formation and spend several hours accelerating towards each other at about 10% of lightspeed. They would flash past each other at such velocities that human beings were not involved in the firing process at any level - only computers were fast enough to get off a shot before the enemy was 10,000 kilometres behind you. And then they'd spend several hours braking down, coming about and accelerating towards each other again for another pass. A space battle could take several days before there was a clear winner. Needless to say, this would make for a fairly boring movie and an incredibly boring roleplaying game.

That seems sub optimal...why wouldn't someone just seed their wake with a cloud of ball bearings and watch the other fleet get shredded in their rear view?  And given that, why would you ever fly past an enemy fleet, why wouldn't you use very fast missiles that you sling out in front of you to deploy a ball bearing shield that shreds the opposing fleet before they get to you, and you merely fly off in another direction so that you don't get shredded by their debris?  The only possible quasi "realistic" answer (because no solid matter is going to hold up in a relativistic collision) is that they have force fields but even then I wouldn't consider that realistic.  magnetic fields wouldn't help because if they did the ball bearings would be made out of lead so that magnetic fields wouldn't help.  Thus "realistic" star ship combat wouldn't take place at relativistic speeds because it would be suicidal.  Honestly, realistic starship combat involves stealth drones taking out the enemy from the equivalent of "beyond the horizon" and having your own picket drones to take out the enemies drones that are trying to take you out.

 

The primary answer is "because space is really really really big".  The sarcastic answer is "read the books and you'll find out".  The real answer is "to make a good an exciting story", which is the same reason anything works the way it does in Star Wars too.

 

I like the Lost Fleet series, they're extremely good and interesting space fleet combat.  I'm pretty sure it's heavily based on early WW1 era naval combat, when we had heavy armour and powerful guns but submarines and aircraft hadn't yet made Battleships redundant (or drones and missiles doubley so). 

 

 

Elite: Dangerous does also feel extremely close to the way the Star Wars universe works, it's one of the primary appeals for me.  Running around taking legal or illegal transport runs and combat missions, getting away from gravity to jump to hyperspace, lasers and guns only working up close...  If you could mod it and build encouters I would probably move all the space combat in my EotE campaigns to E:D.  Conveniently all my EotE players are also E:D players.

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Star Wars ships move at plot speed. 

In a vacuum, that's true, but having at least ballpark values are essential to internal consistency. So the plot should at least move at about the same speed from one game to another.

 

Also, other mechanics of the game are based on time, such as healing critical injuries and consumables. So the difference between 1 week, 1 day and 1 hour can be significant.

 

Even from a narrative perspective, 1 hour and 1 week are different enough to convey sense of distance, proximity, urgency etc.

Edited by Laurefindel

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Star Wars ships move at plot speed. 

In a vacuum, that's true, but having at least ballpark values are essential to internal consistency. So the plot should at least move at about the same speed from one game to another.

 

Also, other mechanics of the game are based on time, such as healing critical injuries and consumables. So the difference between 1 week, 1 day and 1 hour can be significant.

 

Even from a narrative perspective, 1 hour and 1 week are different enough to convey sense of distance, proximity, urgency etc.

 

be vague. That is how the movies handle it. 

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If you look at the PT, Palpatine got from Coruscant to Mustafar in what seemed like several hours (after he sensed Anakin was in trouble).

 

Now, he either sense Anakin was in trouble DURING or JUST AFTER his fight with Obi Wan (Still, not a long trip given his injuries), or he sensed the future, and was on his way (nearly arriving) just as Obi Wan left Mustafar....

 

 

While either of the above is possible, Yoda did also imply that Anakin was in trouble or was being dealt with:

"Faith in your new apprentice, misplaced may be. As is your faith in the dark side of the Force."

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Star Wars ships move at plot speed. 

In a vacuum, that's true, but having at least ballpark values are essential to internal consistency. So the plot should at least move at about the same speed from one game to another.

 

Also, other mechanics of the game are based on time, such as healing critical injuries and consumables. So the difference between 1 week, 1 day and 1 hour can be significant.

 

Even from a narrative perspective, 1 hour and 1 week are different enough to convey sense of distance, proximity, urgency etc.

 

be vague. That is how the movies handle it. 

 

I don't mind some artistic abstraction, but questions such as "can we get there in time to save him?" or "do I get a check to heal my critical injury during the trip?" or "can we make it with our 1-month-consumables ship?" or "can I hope to survive the trip in my 1-pilot starfighter without my blather exploding?" require at least ballpark figures, and those ballpark figures seem to differ from the RPG to the movie by a factor of 1 day to 1 hour.

 

That's too vague for me

 

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Yep, I have a player that believes such calculations are against Star Wars flavor. I disagree. I can see being so loosey goosey when writing a story, its totally linear afterall but when roleplaying the players have considerably more freedom to act and therefore the universe around them as to be considerably more detailed and consistent.

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Ive done a lot of reading lately and the consensus seems to be that the sublight engines in Star Wars are incredibly fast. Without going into a lot of boring calculations here, lets just say that various scenes in the movies (DeathStar clearing Yavin, Falcon in and out of asteroid belts, X wings closing on distant targets) seem to indicate that for the ships in Star Wars, the solar system is their playground. At the speeds they seem to be capable of they could literally use moons and perhaps even other planets as part of their tactics during a fight. (Luke; "Look at him, hes headed for that small moon.")

 

First of all let me just ask if this is indeed the way most of you GMs and players see it?

 

Then I want to throw up something that is a little bit of a concern. Evidently they don't use these speeds when actually dogfighting obviously. First of all most of the fighting appears to be at visible range in the movies which at anything close to the thousands of km per second velocities their travel indicates, would be impossible to manage.

 

So Im guessing they slow to engagement speeds to actually fight, which seems fine except then its an assumption that any ship, even with sublight engines only, can at any point open the throttle and just zoom the hell out of there at interplanetary transit speeds. This kind of automatic disengagement would be pretty prominent in any engagement and sense its not mentioned anywhere, must not be the case.

 

But then, what gives?

And by the way, Im not one those guys trying to attach real world physics to the game, I get that its Space Fantasy but there should at least be some reason and consistency for how things work. Don't you think?

 

ION drives are non-inertial drives. Stop running the drive, you quickly slow to a stop - not coast along at your previous speed. It fits what we see in the movies about how they fly rather than a standard deltaV engine. It's why you can't just cut the engine & spin your ship to fire down the throats of your pursuers and then continue on on your old vector. 

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Actually, space combat was based on naval and aerial WWII setups. So fighters arc and bank like Mustangs and Spitfires while larger ships move like frigates, destroyers and battleships on the ocean. The reason, it fit with the story Lucas was telling.

 

The engines stay on for effect in the movies (cool, glowing lights at the back). Same with why explosions make noise and engines "scream" as the ships pass.

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ION drives are non-inertial drives. Stop running the drive, you quickly slow to a stop - not coast along at your previous speed. It fits what we see in the movies about how they fly rather than a standard deltaV engine. It's why you can't just cut the engine & spin your ship to fire down the throats of your pursuers and then continue on on your old vector.

Ironic, because that is EXACTLY one of the things that Darth Vader does in the animated series “Star Wars: Rebels”, when he basically takes out an entire rebel fleet all by himself.

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