Ah, I was unclear. Sorry about that. Yeah, I was thinking a turret mounted array and a hull mounted array both fired at once.
The thought process went something like:
The planetary defenses have literally two minutes and however long it takes the arrays to fire to detect, identify, and stop a shuttle. Of course if you're willing to take only one shot you can skip steps 2 & 3, reducing the time to just one or two combat rounds.
That's any shuttle with a drift drive taking a shot at everything in orbit. The random explosions in every city, two, and village in that hemisphere are just gravy.
Yeah, probably shouldn't let array be added to orbital weapons.
What I find interesting is that a shuttle with a turret can mount two light arrays of orbital weapons.
Pop out of the Drift anywhere within half a light-second of a planet, fire two shots, pop back into the drift (didn't have to turn on engines) and fly off. Sure its only ~110 damage to strucrures and ~14 damage (save half) everything else. Twice. Although probably not in the same spot.
Still, that was just a shuttle that randomly popped out of the drift and shot at every settlement on a hemisphere of a planet... plus everything in orbit on that side of the planet.
I don't have time now. What's the trig to get how far away from Earth for it to fill a 45 degree angle of your field of view?
"Dr." Cupi wrote:
Starship weapons were not inteded to interact with non-starship targets.
No, he's right. The orbital weapons specifically have a rule to interact with people. So, yeah, anything with 2 light mounts can have a light orbital particle cannon array that... makes an attack roll against everything in the arc (at some non-trivial penalties) out to 100,000 miles. It is explicitly capable of targeting planetary settlements and battlefields. The blast radius would only be 100 feet for the light version, but it's also a line weapon (not sure how that works with planets, do you shoot through?). Buildings take 2d10x10 and people get hit with a CR 2 trap damage effect.
Vacuum is actually a really good insulator. Most heat loss that we ground pounders are familiar with is due to us transferring heat from warmer massrs to colder masses through some form of physical contact. Atmosphere has mass, that's important. In a vacuum you can only disperse heat through black body radiation, that is literally emitting photons of infrared radiation. If anything your problem will be shedding excess heat that you generate through biological processes.
I will note however that -20F is medium-heavy wool/down coat weather (mostly dependent on the wind chill factor). Throw on a good hat, warm scarf, long underwear,cotton sweater, in addition to the coat and you can start overheating just walking around.
Ok, there's a way to test this. Build the 4 pc squadron with the HQ ship by the rules given and run them through the existing AP space combats for apl 4+. Treat the npcs as being willing to frag the HQ if given the opportunity, like not having a good shot at the fighters or with a tracking weapon pointed that way that wouldn't otherwise be fired.
Do the tests, check the results, then make decisions with more information.
Do I have this right by the rules? My party are in a Tier 10 ship. We are being chased by a Tier 18 dreadnought. Our best plan is to run to a radiation hazard because the dreadnought's crew will die much faster than we will?
No. The effects of radiation/hp damage on npc crews has always been undefined. If a ship has 60+ crew and 8 officers how do you determine levels, saves, armor, ans hp for them. You can't (manually) use the actual radiation rules on npc ships with crew.
Don't currently have access to a som but that's how it's been up until now.
I tend to assume the combat ships will have drift drives of their own, and the HQ stays way back when visiting new systems. You only bring the HQ up when you know the system is reasonably safe.
Would that not essentially make it nothing but a set of floating expansion bays waiting for a bunch of random space goblins to hijack it?
Having thought about it, is there any absolute requirement that the hq ship have docking bays? Because then you could use launch tubes and external expansion bays to work from a smaller hq frame.
Micheal Smith wrote:
Ah, quite right, my mistake. It looks like the whole squadron thing is intended as maybe a level 10ish and higher thing. But instead of putting an actual level limit on it they just made it go from unworkable to terrible at the lower levels.
I mean, I suppose if you want to run it as a defenseless hulk while the pcs are out in space combat (or adventuring since huge ships can't land, spring for another bay and a shuttle or figure out how to cram your huge+ power armor into a tiny fighter) that could work. But that could turn almost all the space combats into "defend the helpless ship" and you still need to figure out what's going on with npc crew.
Ug, that's raising the specter of those large npc crews and how to handle the heavy radiation and other "wound the crew" weapons.
Let me see if I have this right. The party decides to go squadron. Lets say they're level 7 and 5 pcs, 4 want to do the individual little ships and the last pc will run the hq.
They look up on the table how many points each individual combat ship gets for 4 level 7s. Each pc builds their own fighter with those points.
Then to build the hq ship they get 180/4=45 points. Heavy freighter costs 40/10=4 points, same with the hangers. Then you buy thrusters, sensors, pcu, drift drive, etc., using the remaining 37 points. So 4 for thrusters, 8 for drift, 1 for terrible sensors, and because we're up to 180 power we need a 20 build point pcu. 37-33=4 points left over for anything else.
That sound about right?
Well that's nice. Although it does make military early warning defense impossible. I suppose it would depend on how large an area each 1:1 mapping is. Would you need your drift drive core in a specific cubic yard of the drift that maps to another cubic yard of real space , or is it more like a cubic mile of space?
It does however raise the usual implications for drift piracy and entering the drift directly from being landed on a planet. Naturally if you run everything on plot logic then none of it matters, everything works by plot even if it didn't work that way last time.
If there is any correlation between points in the drift and points in real space then you'll have people building space stations in the drift, for traffic control if nothing else. Because if there is a place in the drift that maps to absolom station and collisions are at all possible, then by statistics and the law of very big numbers a ship will pop out of the drift inside absolom station.
It really depends on how npc crews work. If the radiation can incapacitate npc crew members like they were pcs (1d4 rounds of saves vs. heavy radiation continuing on each hit, raditaion poison and disease tracks) and the npc crew members aren't all full gear 11th level, then heavy radiation weapons will kill or incapacitate crew faster than they'll chew through the hull. Nobody ever does this in play because it calls for deciding what level and armor those 300 nameless mooks have, then rolling and tracking saves.
But if the capital ship crews were treated like actual npcs, not just a meaningless number written in a stat block, then radiation weapons would tear through an crew that wasn't undead or constructs, ending fights faster and with less damage.
It works out OK on operatives up to the low teens levels. You're using two pistols for damage type coverage and ammo/reloading efficency. Run with a 90' range laser using a cold damage fusion and something else with shorter range but better damage types or options (sonic/electric or non-lethal options).
Eventually you'll let one of the pistols lag behind once you get into the 4+ dice guns. The whole thing works only because operatives get their main damage boost from the class features and not the gun damage. As a bonus you can bayonett a plasma kukri on a pistol so you don't have to worry about swapping to a melee weapon.
If it's the observation sensors and energy whatsit shields then they are extra add-on bits. Both cost 4 bp and lack the stats of normal armor and sensors. The observation sensors are explicitly noted on nethys as being an addition to regular sensors.
Interestingly the sensors not only have a range in miles (not hexes) but they again raise the question of precisely what blindsense(life) can do. So they probably can't be used during combat, and may or may not interact weirdly with perception range modifiers.
The armor is pretty iffy I think. It only works in combat
Edit: small children.
It only works in combat after the shields are down and, I think, assumes a dedicated engineer character in exchange for the chance at a very minor boost. Not an issue for npc ships who usually have people to spare but iffy for a party of 4 pcs.
Hawk Kriegsman wrote:
The enemy ship had a laser net in a turret. I rolled 5 straight 14+ and blocked all the attacks. The player's ship had 4 critical hits on it before the destroyed the enemy ship.
Please realize that five rolls of 14+ is about a 1/200 chance. Meanwhile failing all five rolls is slightly better than 1/10 (specifically 11.6%). Your most common result in that is going to be one or two missiles blocked (approx 30% channce of either).
My experience has been that no matter how many point defense weapons there are they block about 1.5 missiles per enemy ship because you only get one shot at any incoming missile and nothing can enhance the automated point defense attack bonus.
Actually classic Traveller solved this way back when, although they did realize that 3d wasn't going to happen. You use a blank sheet of paper and a ruler, current speed and direction is a line. On your turn measure out the current direction and length, put a dot there. Now pick your new orientation and thrust from that dot. Draw a new line from the starting point to the end point. That is your new direction and speed. You can even do orbits this way.
Really what the current rules are is a board game, like chutes and ladders, very simple. It is not an approximation of anything, especially not any form of physics we're familiar with.
All the rules say is that if your thrusters are off or not being used then you don't move, and cloaking requires you to not use the thrusters and not be in combat.
Our group never found anything about using drift drives on a planet, or size limits for the drift 1 engines.
We made an agreement not to explore the ramifications of those omissions. Although attaching a drift 1 to absolom station and playing 'mess with traffic control' was tempting.
For the cloaking field it also means that you can't use it to escape combat. It's only purpose seems to be enabling plot based ambushes and hiding landed ships.
I'd say that this also involves the character building ability and rules mastery of the people you play with.
I've played in a group where juggling more than a page of ship action wasn't going to happen. Where the at 13th level the eng/sci slot was filled by a mystic with a +15 total in those skills and a 16 dex soldier was the gunner. Can I build a operative who can do everything better than that? Sure. How would that make them feel?
But even they got the biggest shields they could, put twin linked big guns in the turret, and got a +6 mononode for the gunner. They knew that if you put the guns in the front arc and have the gunner sit there that when the enemy came up in a different arc then the gunner didn't get to do anything that turn.
Then, check some math. If you're giving someone a +/-2 its relevant 1 time in 10. If you're changing 1s to 2s on 30d10 worth of damage rolls you've spend the round doing, usually, +3 damage out of around 150. Piddly bonuses are weak and boring. Rolling once a turn to have a 1/10 chance of being relevant is basically admitting that you're useless. Did you successfully taunt the enemy ship? Great, they have to make more than five checks in the 1d4 rounds before you have more than a 50% chance having been totally useless. If you rolled a 4 that's a pretty good probability, not so much if you rollled a 1.
And rescan? Never been useful here. It's more common for the enemy to balance shields than not. If that's true then it doesn't matter because you're shooting them whereever anyways. And it means you didn't give your gunner that mighty +2, or balance your own shields. And if it's almost always unavailable or a waste of time then why bother?
No. Its more like being a armless, legless,slowed envoy.
Not the pilot so I can't move. Not the gunner so I can't shoot the real guns. Don't have computers, engineering, or magic so locked out there. Don't get diplomacy as a class skill so fall behind on those dcs.
Suppose I could go take one of the point defense weapons over and hope something gets close enough to shoot at with that. Character is great in and out of combat, even (usuallu) contributes the extra actions and +4s for the first six rounds. Its just really boring to roll once say someone gets a bonus and wait until the next turn.
Still, its better than the guy doing the shields. I did that the game before. Boring and tedious.
I made a captain role operative one time and got some level 12+ space combats in. It quickly became apparent that I could write down the actions, roll dice, write the results, and then leave to watch tv.
Give Orders to the pilot, then the gunner. Demand in order; pilot, gunner, eng/sci character. Taunt each enemy ship once. Then either aid another the gunner or blow resolve points on the Moving Speech trying to roll 15+.
But at least I wasn't the eng/sci guy. That role sucked. First round boosted speed, then alternate between recharge shields and balance shields. That's all he ever got to do.
Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
Is there a name for Absalom Station's law enforcers that doesn't result in an embarrassing acronym like "Absalom Station Security" would?
Probably not. The acronym is probably accurate based on how they're represented in the APs.
Our games runs it as the real security being heavily armed neighborhood watches and personal bodyguards. Station/national security tends to only be able to deal with the most incompetent and lightly armed criminals. Police forces in SF are probably all just cr 1 and easily intimidated or bribed.
The diff between sound and hearing is, I would think, the presence of sound waves and being able to interpret them. Underwater and in atmospheres with different acoustic qualities (density, etc.) Bs(sound) would work, but bs(hearing) wouldn't since you can't distinguish individual sounds, direction, and distance as you could in normal atmo.
Bs(life) will function with moss, plants, fungus, magic life, and other biologies that don't have parallels with our electro-chemical nervous system. Bs(elect) will work with robots, machines, shock traps, and computers.
For visualization I've always tried to think of sources as glow sticks or candles of appropriate size/coverage, with directed active sensing (bat ultrasound clicks) more like flashlights.
Actually I don't think you can hack a computer from off planet very well. The lightspeed delay is explicitly still in place for electromagnetic communications and drift comms take the same time as drift travel. While you can blindly transmit bad code at people there are pretty simple protocols to ignore those sorts of things today. The basic response timeout would do it.
Are there any published ships without drift drives? Other than pre-gap relics of course. Is there even any mention of non-drift shipping freighters? I haven't exactly combed through the books myself for these sorts of things (don't have access to all any how).
I've been thinking about how to run a PC driven pirate campaign and I can't figure out how it will work for more than a couple heists, to say nothing of the PCs catching a ship other than through fiat or pre-launch sabotage. In addition after the second hit they'll probably have had their ship IDed and need a new base frame. For the PC who get ship upgrades as plot device/fiat that would be ok, but it doesn't hold up for world building.
I just can't figure out how, given the drift rules we have, to have the PCs catch other ships or do any real piracy other than raiding relatively undefended and isolated settlements.
Tier 1 comp, mini to L bulk, add artifical personallity, 60cr.
About 400cr for a 'clip it to your shoulder' throw away sentry gun.
Or there are the rakmodoi computers which are magical, self powered, and can have legs for a 30 climb/walk speed. A similar version with that runs almost 200 (300 if your DM requires you to clamp the gun to the computer).
Might as well throw in some secure data storage at 1cr each. Keep your voice print and 'allowed commands' in them. Cheap extra security is always nice.
Thus 4000 to 8000 for 20 of them. About what a level 6 to 8 pistol costs. Yes they have low attack bonuses and are individually easy to hack. But you can throw piles of them at people, mount them on a shopping cart, have them provide covering and harrying fire. Or upgrade them to blast weapons.
I think I get what you're saying and I think you're right.
So the process is:
It's still annoying to do and a terrible idea if you can fail by 10. But it doesn't automatically screw you over if you rolled low on travel time and try any ways.
Ah, I'm the one who had it wrong.
So it's increase the minimum time by 24 hours to +/- 6 hours of total trip time, assuming that you never fail by more than 9.
Hmm. On 3d6 48% of rolls are in the 9-12 range. Spend 6 days, assume no chance of failure, your minimum is now 9 days. Roughly half your trips are 9 days, the other half are a day and a half shorter... math... Your average near space trip time goes from 11.5 to 9.9 days with a +19 skill. Minimum 9 days, maximum 16.5 days. Requires a 7th level npc or equal pc.
Edit: so on half/60% of your trips it takes 0 to 6 days longer than normal and on the rest it's shorter by 6 to 36 hours.
Edit edit: I mucked up some of the math. Average is closer to 10.2 days.
Edit #3: I figured it out. You start managing the day after the minimum trip time as long as you can't fail by 10+. That way the minimum time increases at the same rate as time spent in the drift and you reduce time on average more than you increase time. So for an unknown destination into the vast you need a +25 skill check and you begin managing on day 6 of the trip. As long as you make more than half the rolls you improve the trip time.
Here's another way to look at it, every successful day of managing the course adds 18 hours to the trip length (+24 for the check and -6 for success). Every failure by 5 to 9 points adds 30 hours, every failure by 10+ adds 1d6+1 days.
But the manage course rolls are independent of the trip time roll. They can't affect that roll, they just modify the resulting value.
Edit: that's assuming that you don't roll within the minimum or maximun times. Since it's a bell curve roll those are unusual instances, but both are equally likely.
That would mean that there is a 1 to 1 correlation of drift locaton to space location. That requires you to place ships in the drift for law enforcement and war in the same manner a normal space for the same reasons. It enables fleets to congregate at a single point in the drift and travel together without linking engines, and to hop back to normal space at the same time.
So if you do that then the whole thing about linking drift engines and being unable to coordinate drift assaults without it goes away. Absalom would have part of it's defenses in that point in the drift, and it doesn't.
The randomness of the drift and the way drift drives work make intentional interceptions really hard. Again, try it from the point of having PCs be pirates or law enforcement and ussing the drift/space rules how do they find and catch other ships outside AP scripted encounters.
What I'm wondering is what ships the pirates can even find to attack.
Even the lowest end drift engine is really cheap and faster than regular thrusters for in-system travel between planets/stations. This apparently means that ships are hopping from orbit to orbit via the drift. That would mean that the pirates have follow the ship into the drift and attack there.
The problem of course then is that the pirates have to pop into the drift in the next 3 to 5 minutes before the ship warms up it's engines and leaves the area. There's nothing in the rules to support it but if we assume that two ships entering the drift within a few minutes of each other appear near each other in the drift, then that could work. Except that sensors max out at 100 hexes for active scanning and the other ship could be beyond that range (where you're scanning at up to -8 anyways before countermeasures). A ship moving at speed five exits that range in 2 minutes, so there isn't much time to try to find them.
Of course if the target doesn't have their engines on they can always just pop their drift engine again and, having not moved at all, probably end up pretty close to where they left from. Which, with a not-suicidal captain, would be somewhere near competent law enforcement. Then you just report attempted piracy, upload your scan of the pirate ship, and enter the drift an hour later without anyone following you.
There's no point in attempting piracy on arriving ships because you can't predict where they'll appear. The pirates would have to hang around in planetary orbit, near the local law enforcement, and wait until a random ship appeared nearby. Hope it's not a military or anti-pirate ship. Then they have to fight, capture, loot, and enter the drift before anyone responds. Plus if they've been hanging out in orbit for a while it's likely they've been scanned and IDed by, again, any non-incompetent law enforcement.
This can all be gotten around with corrupt and incompetent law enforcement, but then law abiding and lightly armed cargo ships will avoid that planet or station. Plus there's always the risk that the Hellknights or whoever just pack a bunch of troops and big guns into a cargo ship with high countermeasures, flying through known pirate areas and waiting to be attacked.
It doesn't seem like pirates can reliably get other ships. They're too mobile and random, being able to to and from the drift pretty quickly. I would think that pirates actually tend to mostly raid lightly defended settlements that are outside the sphere of influence of law enforcement. The problem being that those don't tend to be valuable.
I'm not sure that they would be able to afford to build such a base. I mean, turn it around a little bit: the PCs want to go pirating other spaceships, using the rules how do they do that? How do they get away with it more than two or three times?
Actually D&D doesn't have any issue with holding two weapons and using both for different attacks. It penalizes you for claiming a bonus/additional attack from the second weapon. But if you just want to use different weapons for your regular attacks, that's fine.
SF is no different except for disallowing all additional attacks.
The point of that quote was to show that civilians can buy items above their level and even higher than the recommended item level above their own at the GM's discretion. It's not as cut and dry as you're making it out to be.
Well that explains why all the groups I've seen are kleptomaniac sociopaths, when it comes to vehicles. PCs can't afford a decent on-level car without breaking their WBL so they just keep stealing them from low level npcs who aren't level restricted for buying stuff.
Although this does raise the question of how these poor +9 skill, cr < 1, npcs afford stuff. I think they steal spaceships.
Consider that outside the PC ship building (that we all know is kinda borked and slapdash) the spaceship economy must be money based. Spaceships have to be worth more than most small vehicles otherwise we woukdn't use most small vehicles and instead use really small spaceships. No, seriously, my group has been trying to figure out how to use a really small fighter as a normal vehicle because they can't buy a truck that doesn't break apart after three shots.
Now the ship upgrade to door locks had to be better than not taking the upgrade. Since the upgrade puts the engineering check at 20 + 1.5*L the normal check is lower. The usual DC is probably 15 + 1.5*L then. A cr 1/3 space goblin has a +7 engineering. So two space goblins (one helping) at one minute per engineering check ahould be able to break into a extra locked level 1 ship in less than 3 minutes, and into a level 4 normal locked ship in two minutes.
Once they're in the ship they can steal the ship or it's contents, sell those at under market price (or the contents at full price to PC-like adventurers), and make money far beyond what the profession/craft/work rules give them. Given the inability of Pact law enforcement to track, identify, or otherwise police starships in printed modules there could be a significant sector ot the economy dependent on trading stolen spaceships.
Master Han Del of the Web wrote:
And in a setting that features weapons that can kill a crew through the hull of their ship, maybe nukes aren't nearly as scary as they once were.
Well, maybe. We don't actually have any rules for radiation affecting npcs on spaceships. PCs take damage from radiation saves unless they have high enough level armor. Npc spaceship crews don't have armor, saves, or hit points. So either they're immune to those as they're immune to nuke radiation, or nukes cause radiation poison save damage to npcs like it does pcs and npc crews are either all 7+ and higher level or nukes are through-shield crew killers.
That would require the larger ships to all mount gravity cannons in the turrets. Not a bad idea actually, but generally all the npc ships seem to be primarialy composed of bad ideas.
I would note a few things. First, the level 16 gunners have a +33 to hit. Either the smaller ship should aim for a 44+ ac or we just assume auto-hits except a quite long ranges. Second, the plethora of engineers and science officers indicates that it's shields should regen and balance every round. Last, either every npc (non-officer) on the ship is level 7+ or has level 7+ armor or a ship with a heavy nuclear missile launcher can kill them all with radiation. Once you incapacitate enough crew the ship simply stops working.
Just took this on a 14th level op, and it is brutal when run as a per round condition. Even as a straight damage boost it's good, better than buying a higher level gun.
It's ambiguous as the trick says "afflict target with bleed damage" while other things tend to say "apply the bleeding condition". So either we have a 'bleed' damage type or we apply the condition.
Ah I see! Thanks for clearing that up. So with the ability on I can attempt to hide in plain sight however if I stay still I get the additional +10 bonus. That makes much more sense to me now. Thanks again :)
The way my table runs it is the move action to turn it on, then you can make stealth checks whenever appropriate. If you aren't moving then you get the +10.
I recall our encounter there going pretty badly, although mostly because of a couple low rolls and the DM not being a forum/faq user or thoroughly reading the rules.
The ship upgrades were ruled to take 1d4 days per 'thing done' so we were adding, I think, mounts and flak throwers on the sides, upgrading to a coil gun in the turret, and improving the engine. Which took 6d4 days, rolled high-ish so almost 3 weeks. Then the DM kept mentioning a deadline or time limit (I think he was just bored with us trying to decide what to upgrade) so we left. Effectively flying the default Sunrise with better engines and one better gun.
He also misunderstood the ship DC rules, had us rolling against the level 7 DCs because we were 7 and had the points "available" to use. I recall basically being 50/50 on any rolls we tried.
We apparently failed a sensor check and got ambushed, the surprise round everything hit and we lost like 90% of the front shield. The next round everyone rolled low, lost initative, missed our one shot, failed to do shield stuff, etc. Lost the rest of the front shield, took hull damage, lost half a side shield.
So we just ran away. Higher speed meant we couldn't fail that. Lost most of the rear shield over three rounds, gunner rolled low damage on his two hits, shields got boosted and realigned once each (technomancer covering both roles), and we argued about missles moving in the movement or gunnery phase... stuff.
Yes, that's pretty much what I said. If you assume that all/most combats will happen at close to point blank range the missiles are a possible weapon choice.
However, the inability to link launchers, additional rolls for failure, extra penalties for broadside, limited ammo, short effective range, and limited weapon mounts are all negatives.
Think, I was advocating linking two powerful weapons then using both high computer bonuses and crew bonuses to minimize missing because of the limited ammo. The highly accurate burst damage of the tactic was to offset the short range and limited ammo. In addition the tactic worked at all levels, not just 6+ or 12+, and doesn't rely on resolve in any way.
Because I was wrong about the ability to twin link launchers it means you can't put significant (+10~ish) to-hit bonuses on one attack roll. Because PC ships are generally limited to 3 weapon mounts per arc and it's a bad idea to only put limited ammo launnchers in turrets you're capping at about 4 launchers if you want to try missile spam tactics. Now you're locked into using the broadside tactic, spending resolve each attack, taking a penalty to hit, rolling separately for each attack, not having the high single computer bonus, plus it still has all the range and limited ammo issues of missiles. It also costs more build points, limits your effective attack arc, and you can't do it at all for the first five levels.
So I don't think that going through all that bother and risk is worth it for
Why would you not be able to fire six launchers at once? Are your PCs never hitting level 6 and gaining access to the Broadside action?
Well you could, if you dedicate all of one arc and all of your turret to them, and the enemy ends up in that arc, and you make a bunch of attack rolls at more to-hit penalties. But the launchers compare pretty evenly to the coil guns and particle beams for point costs, they just do a modest bit more damage at a higher miss/fail rate and have limited ammo. So at that point you might as well just pack regular guns in there and launchers lose again.
While there is explicitly no propulsion there is also no inclusion of control or guidance. No rolls or checks covering where to come down or how hard. A group of pods could easily scatter across half a continent (or half on land and half in the sea, we'll assume they float).
That's another pproblem after the "must be within a couple of day duration decaying orbit of a habitable planet" requirement, and the opponents let the pods get away, and there wasn't a boarding action, and the ship didn't explode, and nobody is large size (time for a new character if they are), and you assume that spaceship sensors/computers can't track an object doing atmospherix reentry.
For Dead Suns where was a space fight that wasn't deep or interplanetary space? I don't recall any space combats near planets. The closest I remember was in the asteroid belt.
I found it, you're right. It's easy to miss, but you're right.
Welp... I guess we can ignore the tracking weapons then and just go with dual particle beams. We're down to just pretty much one best weapon and build again.
Unable to link the missles I don't find the ammo limit, additional fail rolls (point defense plus extra attack rolls), and extra rules questions to be worth the bother. If you could put six launchers in an arc and fire them all at once it might be ok again, but I think the just have too many points of failure to be worth it.
There are best choices, but what qualifies as best depends on some assumptions.
Assumption: Space is Big.
This is an optimal strategy. Therefore it is boring, tedious, and safe.
If space is not big then you'll be staying on the battle mat and keeping within 30 hexes, often being within 10 hexes. Max shields, a high quality mononode computer for your main gunner, some decent point defenses, and the biggest twin linked clobberer you can afford. Max shields and twin linked heavy antimatter missiles are doable by level 10. Pick up a couple particle beams as backup. The tactic is to rush in as fast as possible to get under the speed of the tracking weapons, essentially making then direct fire weapons, and then dump 20d10 damage into your target. The mononode computer is important here, plus anyone who can boost the to-hit should do so.
This may not be a perfectly optimal strategy. But it's much more fun.
Assumption: Level Apporpriate Opponents.
One thing you can do is to break out a spreadsheet and try to come up with a value score for different weapons. Average damage per point+power cost, with adjustments for range, ammo, and special effects was my attempt. The coil guns really stood out for light weapons, heavy had several contenders dependent on factors but the particle beams were in the top 5 or 6. I didn't do capital weapons.
By the by, do we know how radiation weapons are supposed to work against the npc crews who aren't statted?
The escape pods are astonishingly useless for adventurers, anyone capable of casting life bubble, any large creatures, and anyone capable of aquiring level 7 armors. They fit medium or smaller creatures only, have seven days life support, and a re-entry heat shield.
Lacking is any propulsion, survival equipment, radiation protection, or significant space for gear/food/water. It is quite possible for normal humans to die half way through that 7 days simply from lack of water.
I suppose I should elaborate. Our party is level 11 and into the last book of the dead suns ap. They've been out of contact with civilization since level 8 and have only looted up a melee weapon, two light armors, and the sonic rifle. We've sttarted joking that the operative is the only one with a real gun and the rest of us are using nerf guns. The tecnomancer can literally empty a battery into an enemy and have no observable effect.
In our group combats generally take 10 to 15 rounds. That's because we're running operative, envoy, mystic, technomancer. We don't generally use spells offensively because we usually have around a 50% hit rate and enemies have a 65% to 75% save rate.
The technomancer generally reloads once per combat when using the 1d12 electric rifle, twice or three times if using the 3d8 sonic gun. The envoy and mystic are melee and don't do ammmo. The operative usually reloads twice if using a 2d6 projectile pistol or not at all if using the 2d4 laser pistol.
Automatic fire expends all amunition in the weapon in exchange for making an attack against each creature in the first range increment of the weapon. You may make a maximum number of attacks equal to half of the current ammo in the weapon, but only one attack per target.
If you have a Mystic or TM with the spell, they can also just cast the spell on up to 4 people every 4 days and not worry about the armor protection at all. It's actually a spell I would consider taking at 4th because of how useful it is for this sort of scenario.
Careful, I had a DM nerf that spell down to only providing air after the third environmental/noxious gas thing it negated because "it wouldn't be in the adventure if you were meant to ignore it that easily"