The big Starships seem oddly lightwieght...


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
It's a minor concern, it doesn't affect the rest of the rules, and you can add 2 zeros (or three, for the biggest ones) and be done with it.

Not even close. If a 15000 ft. ship had the same proportions as a 60 ft., 20 ton ship, it would have a mass of 312.5 million tons. Simply adding zeroes in order to make up for a failure to take into account that volume - given roughly the same propoertions - increases by the cube of the length increase does not work.

IMHO it would actually make a bit more sense to reign in the given values for length (as well as properly calculate or at least estimate mass). Even in a fantasy game, it strains suspension of disbelief a tiny bit that a battleship with ~15 million times as much mass and volume as a fighter only has 8 times as many HP.

I suspect this is a result of the fact that the designers a.) wanted to have the impressive, miles-long starships from Star Wars and other popular sources and b.) wanted to give small, fighter-type ships a chance against these giants, or in other words put all ships on a roughly equal footing. Kinda like who a fantasy games wants to put humans and dragons on a roughly equal footing. Except it's not like putting humans and dragons on an equal footing. Or halflings and dragons. Or even mice and dragons. It's more like putting bees and dragons on an equal footing. A flight of 10 fighters taking on a battleship is basically like 10 bees taking on a dragon.


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Not if they're going for a Star Wars style (read WW2) kind of interaction between fighters and capital ships. Theres a reason that we made Carriers to bring Aircraft to fight Battleships. The idea is the fast, nippy craft can outmanoeuvre the huge lumbering Battleships, and the huge guns take too long to track. Not realistic, at all, cause the physics of space are very different to the physics of Water+Air, but highly thematic.


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A WW2 carrier-based bomber (say, a D3A) had a loaded mass of about 3 tons. The carrier it was based on (say, Zuikaku) had a mass of about 30,000 tons. So 10000 times as much.
A large Starfinder fighter has a mass of about 20 tons. The carrier it is based on would have (halfway realistically) a mass of about 200 million tons. So 10 million times as much.

That's three orders of magnitude of difference, there. The size relation between Starfinder carrier and fighter is more like the relation between a real carrier and a small RC model airplane. Or as I said between a dragon and a bee.


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Damage Threshold actually makes big ships at worst highly resistant and at best immune to fighter weapons. A swarm of them can help bring down the shields, but they can't do much if any HP damage.

You have to consider both DT and the fact that ships don't blow up at zero HP in evaluating how reasonable a given number of HP are. The fact they don't blow up means there's a lot of built in redundancy and wasted mass to ensure a window of crew survivability after the ship is disabled.


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Like I said, it's thematic, not realistic. Besides, tonnage don't matter that much- don't forget square cube law works against you in terms of defences: cubed mass means cubed momentum, and cubed shielding requirements, cubed point defence requirements, cubed power requirements, plus your axis of rotation increases, unless those fighters are going out of their way to get hit, they should be good at dodging the hits. Fighters probably shouldn't be trying to slug it out with Cruisers and Battleships, but targeting vulnerable systems like engines, draining shields, or cracking a gap in the defences so the PC's can board? All viable, assuming you're willing to go with the thematic assumption that Fighters are more manoeuvrable then the big ships.


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squared shielding and (at most) squared point defense, unless shield power is based on something other than surface area


Point defence needs to cover a volume around the ship, it's not just a surface skin it covers, hence cubed point defence. I assumed shields as more of a field, then a skin, if that makes sense, hence cubic for those two. That might be a difference in setting though.


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whew wrote:
squared shielding and (at most) squared point defense, unless shield power is based on something other than surface area

Indeed, which actually means that, logically, size increases work very much *in favor* of the larger ship as far as defenses are concerned.


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Elegos wrote:
Point defence needs to cover a volume around the ship, it's not just a surface skin it covers, hence cubed point defence. I assumed shields as more of a field, then a skin, if that makes sense, hence cubic for those two. That might be a difference in setting though.

Why would point defense need to cover volume? Missiles do not need to ber shot down more often just because your ship is bigger. Same for shields: If it is a "field" and proportional to the ship, then the "field" is a lot thicker for larger vessels, and I would assume more effective.


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@ Wulfhelm - Bees v. Dragons would be feasible if the bees were packing something equivalent to, say, blue ring octopus venom, instead of regular bee venom. (Actually getting through the scales would be tricky, of course.)

A tiny thing can kill a big thing if the tiny thing packs a nasty enough weapon.

(Or for the naval combat comparison, a small plane dropping a large enough bomb will handily cripple or destroy a much larger ship, as can be attested to by the multiple aircraft carriers destroyed at Midway).

Now, a thing that strikes me is that these enormous ships with skeleton crews would be complete nightmares to defend from boarding parties and/or saboteurs.


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Not sure if this has been mentioned, but for people complaining about low crew numbers, a real ship wouldn't have all its crew spread out. See this diagram here.


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Zhangar wrote:
@ Wulfhelm - Bees v. Dragons would be feasible if the bees were packing something equivalent to, say, blue ring octopus venom, instead of regular bee venom. (Actually getting through the scales would be tricky, of course.)

It wouldn't be tricky, it would be impossible.

And of course, the "bees" definitely *aren't* packing such a deadly weapon, because their weapons are not even sufficiently deadly to kill another "bee" in one hit.
The ridiculous point is how little difference there is in the big ships' capacity to sustain damage as compared to small ships. As I wrote, a carrier is 10-15 million times larger than a fighter, yet has only 8 times as many HP.

Quote:
(Or for the naval combat comparison, a small plane dropping a large enough bomb will handily cripple or destroy a much larger ship, as can be attested to by the multiple aircraft carriers destroyed at Midway).

As I already wrote, the size difference is a thousand times larger for Starfinder ships.

There is of course also the little fact that a carrier can bring about 80 fighters (similar to real world carriers), which mass a total of ~1600 tons and, which would realistically amount to 0.0008% of the carrier's mass.

To make it short: From any perspective even remotely approaching any kind of logic or common sense, the ship sizes and weights are completely and utterly bonkers.


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Wulfhelm II. wrote:
As I wrote, a carrier is 10-15 million times larger than a fighter, yet has only 8 times as many HP.

My level 20 Halfling Barbarian is a fraction of the size of an elephant, yet has far more HP. HP shouldn't be taken literally.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
My level 20 Halfling Barbarian is a fraction of the size of an elephant, yet has far more HP. HP shouldn't be taken literally.

a.) Neither of them are starships constructed at the same level of technology, now are they?

b.) In your case, the difference in HP (by the way, for ships it's "Hull points" and explicitly refers to the capacity for taking physical damage) per body weight is a factor of about 500. For the fighter and the carrier it is a factor of about 10-20 million. You do see the difference there, right? Again, it is not like a halfling having the same HP as an elephant. It is like a fly having the same HP as an elephant.

Let me phrase it in a more system-immanent way. A gargantuan *creature* is 32 times as long as a tiny creature and masses (both by extrapolation and by the remarkably realistic actual values in the rulebook) about 32000 times as much.
A gargantuan *starship* is 250 times as long as a tiny starship and masses (by extrapolation) ~15 million times as much.

You see the disconnect?

If starships were scaled in the same way as creatures, the table would look like this:

Max Max
Code Length Mass
Tiny 60 20
Small 120 150
Medium 250 1200
Large 500 10000
Huge 1000 80000
Garg. 2000 600000
Coloss. >2000 >600000

Still not "realistic" but juuust enough for me at least to squint really hard and accept it for SoD purposes.

P.S.: Feet and tons, respectively, and for some reason this board doesn't allow full BBcode formatting.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Interesting.


Matrix Dragon wrote:
Quark Blast wrote:

At just subluminal speeds, you won't need a capital ship to devastate a planet. A 1 metric ton shuttle with enough shielding to punch through the atmosphere will deliver a blow to wipe out an entire planet.

That's the problem with building a very high tech (dare I say magi-tech?) game on the 3.PF TTRPG base. Even low level characters are insanely powerful, in certain respects.

Star Wars used to work around this by saying that ships using hyperdrive couldn't get close to objects with large gravity wells without exploding. That kind of got thrown out the window with Episode 7 after Han's jump into a planet's atmosphere though. When he did that, my immediate reaction was "That ship should have exploded and caused a fireball that killed everyone on Starkill Base, just from moving that fast in the atmosphere!". J. J. Abram's tendency to ignore physics has always driven me crazy.

Admitted though, I am not a physicist. I learned most of what I know about near-light speeds in atmospheres from xkcd's amazing What If? section.

You really, really should do yourself a favor and check out Isaac Arthur on YouTube. He is amazing.

(Grab a drink and a snack before you start, however.)


PaladinDemo wrote:

Linkified version of "Top Five Sci-Fi Capital Ships - Spacedock Short"

Ask and you shall receive.

You're Welcome!


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Wulfhelm II. wrote:
A gargantuan *starship* is 250 times as long as a tiny starship and masses (by extrapolation) ~15 million times as much.

Presumably the tiny starships are 62,500 times harder to hit on the basis of the difference between their cross-sectional areas (or much harder than that, because they can change course quicker). And either 15 million times cheaper, or built with vastly superior materials.


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Captain collateral damage wrote:
Not sure if this has been mentioned, but for people complaining about low crew numbers, a real ship wouldn't have all its crew spread out. See this diagram here.

I, for one, find 403 Forbidden pages incredibly helpful. I did manage to navigate to it through the site, so I see what you're saying regardless, but perhaps you might link the page rather than hotlink the image in the future - without this computer having seen it before, a direct link to the image resulted in an error rather than a picture.

This would be significant if the ship designs in Starfinder were at all like this, but they're not. And if you look at the actual layouts in, say, Dead Suns, it's fairly clear that the majority of the ship space isn't dedicated to non-habitable areas.

Wulfhelm II. wrote:
There is of course also the little fact that a carrier can bring about 80 fighters (similar to real world carriers), which mass a total of ~1600 tons and, which would realistically amount to 0.0008% of the carrier's mass.

A hangar carries 8 fighters and takes 4 expansion bays. Even a dreadnought can bring no more than 40 fighters - the Carrier brings a mere 16. This does not invalidate your point, but rather makes it only more apparent - even the largest ship the system supports cannot match the capacity of a real world naval ship despite quite readily dwarfing it in every meaningful respect.

There is a significant design challenge here, though - Star Wars, etc., rather loves the idea of fighters being potentially capable of taking on capital ships in the right circumstances, and I don't know how well you could model that and capture the enormous differences that exist simply from scale. Perhaps that's just a lack of familiarity with other systems, though.

But even so, it's fairly clear to me that the way Starfinder attempted it is... increasingly unsuccessful as ships are made larger.


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My impression is that the biggest ships need smaller dimension and MANY more bays (a big ship needs a medical bay, recreation area, and tech shop just to be believable before you get to hangar bays, troops and auxiliary crew space, and storage). I think more HP might not be needed, the DT handles a lot of that. If you have a really big weapon that can punch through the DT I'm not sure how much adding more gigatons of mass helps. An antimatter missile is pretty ugly regardless.


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Hithesius wrote:
A hangar carries 8 fighters and takes 4 expansion bays.

Oh, right. For some reason I thought it only took one.

Quote:
There is a significant design challenge here, though - Star Wars, etc., rather loves the idea of fighters being potentially capable of taking on capital ships in the right circumstances, and I don't know how well you could model that and capture the enormous differences that exist simply from scale. Perhaps that's just a lack of familiarity with other systems, though.

Well, you could reduce the scale (like BattleTech and Traveller originally did before introducing ginormous capital ships as well) so "PC ships" are competitive with large warships. A fighter in Aerotech was originally up to 100 tons (and packed full of weapons) while a combat dropship was at most a few thousand (and packed with lots of other stuff, too.)

Or you could go for the route that most attempts at Star Wars RPGs took (and some others too) and essentially introduce two different scales for ship combat: Capital scale and fighter scale, for instance.

If I run StarFinder, I'll probably go with the former and compress the scale. My only fear is that I might run into trouble when some adventure introduces a starship as a mega-mega-dungeon or something.


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I remember taking down mile-long Star Destroyers from my X-Wing in the video games. What you had to do was take out the shield towers first. Owing to a typical Imperial design flaw, the shield created by the shield towers did not protect the shield towers themselves. After that it was just a question of attrition / taking out their bridge with proton torpedoes, depending on exactly what I was playing.

Still better made than a Death Star, which could be taken out with a single critical hit, despite having a mass of around 500 trillion tons.

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