There are many types of ships in Solar Storms, covering a vast array of technical ability and necessities.
- 1 Appearance
- 2 Classification
- 3 Range
- 4 Ship Types
There is no aerodynamics in space. There is such a thing as impact angle, however. Since many craft are intended to reach a relative velocity of about 5% of c, ships designed to achieve 'real' speeds tend to have a sleek, slim, often blade-like appearance. This is because impact with micrometeorites at such speeds can cause damage even to hadronium structures. One weighing no more than a gram will impact with a force rivaling twenty-five tonnes of TNT, and if striking a perpendicular surface, affects an area a fraction of a square centimeter in size. Impacts at high angles, however, can end up imparting only a fraction of this energy, over a much larger area, helping the hull remain intact. This same philosophy continues for vessels intended for combat - only then it is a matter of winning or losing versus one of insurance.
Outside of regalia, vessels designed to attain such speeds will often have two or more 'wings' - sometimes integrated into the craft. These are used as heat spreaders, shunting off excess heat gained from whatever source. For vessels built with exomatter, two is the most common, and on rare occasions also double as atmospheric wings. Silverships sometimes also do without such spreaders, depending on the whims of the designer or owner. Where exomatter cannot be used, but propulsors are still required, four, six, or more may be used in rather complex grill patterns.
While raw hadronium is highly reflective, this is not necessarily the case with exomatter, and the latter can accomodate any color with relative ease, appropriate to aesthetics. Hadronium itself starts glowing at 'purple hot', moving 'down' the spectrum from there, when it already possesses fairly extreme temperatures - it makes an exceedingly poor blackbody. Ships constructed of normal matter are, of course, more familiar, though they tend to go with a white and black mixture - when approaching a star, the white side faces the star, the black side away, in order to avoid being overwhelmed by its heat output.
Many ships with more specific duties have vastly different shapes, of course. The most common alternative is a form of ring or cylinder - either for a coil or artificial habitat of some sort. These sometimes have heat-spreaders as well, and sometimes get referred to as colossal wing nuts.
Sometimes, terms such as spaceship and starship are used exclusively. Although there is still a large amount of interchangeable usage, the former generally refers to a fully autonomous craft, while the latter is not designed to leave its home star system.
Beyond that, ships are organized into classes by registry and mass. This code now encompasses all modern vessels, including those built by Ouranos Prime before the Contact War and by the Procyon Concord.
Identifying ships with any serious level of accuracy is a bit of a black art - there are simply too many who are capable of manufacturing their own fleets - to say nothing of their own vessels. Silverships and the Regalia are, of course, a major exception. These, however, are usually identified by name and home star (such as 'Inanna of Sol'). Those of the First are usually Arks named after the elder leading them anyway - Lilith's Ark and so on.
Each major power has a separate set of classification systems for these, though the Concord follow humanity's example, and each member of the Triad follows a class based on the First. The Shadow, Virgon, and Renlai have their own, independent systems.
Beyond this, classifying a ship is usually based on its mass, size, shape, and general expected capability depending on sensor readings.
Range is usually described in terms of light-distance to a target or goal. Someone with access to a Mintori interface effectively quarters the acceptable face values listed. As a measure of how 'far' the ship can go, range is usually measured in terms of supply and maintenance requirements, along with a Delta V. That is, in the former case, a vessel might be able to run independently for two years, and have a total acceleration capacity of 9% of the speed of light.
Within a third - about five thousand kilometers - is considered to be point blank or extreme close range. Emphasis in this region is generally placed on firing first, most, and hardest. Defenses at this distance cannot rely on accelerative maneuverability versus most weapons - armor, screens, deflectors, simple rotation and a good offense becomes the best defense. Acceptable face is roughly .3 meters or a foot at 300 m/s^2 - infeasible to sustain for any significant length of time. Some missiles are designed to take a few final maneuvers in this range.
Within a second - about three hundred thousand kilometers - is considered close range. Ships intended to enter this range are often drones rather than piloted vehicles, controlled through ships further back in the cloud. This is the closest range at which strategy can be considered viable - and even then, only by the most advanced, nimblest vessels. Acceptable face is about 5 meters at 10 m/s^2. Only silverships really perform at this distance, otherwise it is simply an extended form of 'point blank' range.
Out to a minute is considered medium range - roughly eighteen million kilometers. The vast majority of engagements are decided as this 'range' collapses, and minor differences in technology, design, strategy and skill begin to compound themselves rapidly. Acceptable face at the outer portion of this range is 2.16 kilometers at .3 m/s^2. Many ships - even those meant to engage at longer distances, are built with this range in mind.
Out to an hour is considered long range - over a billion kilometers. Such vessels are usually bombers - extreme-range ships whose purpose is to subdue permanent installations rather than engage in the Black. Acceptable face at this range is 129.6 kilometers at .01 m/s^2 - basically, destroying them requires either closing or a lot of hail.
Beyond that range is considered extreme - not really considered a tactical engagement but rather strategic preparation, from close planetary bombardment to stargrazing.
There are several classes of combat ships, ships whose primary purpose is to actually inflict damage upon a target. They often have very little in the way of crew, with most systems being directly managed through various forms of artificial intelligence. Between one to three sapient pilots are used on most vessels above drones, in order to have a sense of responsibility and to establish a Mintori interface via mobius patterns in order to provide superluminal awareness.
These vessels usually have a face based on their range and accelerative abilities, preferably beneath a value called acceptable face. That is, something that can make random, directional accelerations can take advantage of light delay to make it impossible for a defender to be certain enough of its position to guarantee hitting it with one or 'sufficiently few' shots. Something designed to engage a target from one light-hour away, for example, and capable of .001 m/s of acceleration, wants to have a 'face' smaller than 25,960 meters, or a quarter that if it's facing an enemy with patterns. Typically, such vessels also rotate - not to provide centrifugal force, but to throw off laser tracking and make their 'effective face' even smaller.
In addition to intended engagement range, they are also broken down by the number of 'guns' they wield. A 'cannon' ship is little more than just that, having one or two main guns, and such things are generally referred to as bombers or trets. These are heavy hitters, from the 'one shot kill' school of combat. The reason some have two instead of one is in some designs, two provides an increase in total power projection on a target due to the needs of heat dissipation.
Such vessels can also be limited in terms of what can pass through a stargate, when used for offense. Most attacks are actually planned years in advance, the initial stargrazing ideally occurring without warning. Even when the defending system is alerted, protecting a gate against grazing is difficult to impossible.
Some star systems are familiar with the technology required to deactivate and reactivate a stargate, and it has since become a form of 'higher knowledge' - often jealously guarded by those who know. Assaulting such systems is often limited to 'the slow way', and generally begins with grazing the victim's Dyson swarm.
Missiles are a type of guided projectile ammunition. Unlike their ancient predecessors, the vast majority of their velocity is imparted by their firing platform, and they are not intended to physically strike their target. Most of them are basically shaped nuclear charges, that make random motions in order to evade enemy fire, getting as close as possible before aiming and detonating towards a target, the armored hull (often U-238) shaping more of the blast towards the opponent.
As they spin rapidly, and are thickly armored by design, laser defenses are energy intensive against them. Their use fluctuates with the number of people that believe in projectile-based point defense. They seem useless when a sufficient amount of hail is in the way, but when someone decides to skip such preparation, a few of these will enlighten them to their mistake.
They are fired from trets, bombers, or gunships just like any other form of munition.
Drones are a form of ship intended as a scout, decoy, or occasionally a combat ship intended to enter suicidally close range in order to disable an enemy vessel. They are often projectiles much like missiles are - an intended means to get around light-delay. If they hit their target normally - great. Otherwise, they spin and make a 'parting shot' as they pass by their target, usually within a few hundred kilometers. This shot tends not to miss, even if it lacks the power of the drone's initial firing.
More sensitive than missiles, laser point defense is more effective - although shielding drones is not unheard of. Even still, their use often depends on the current levels of solid point defense currently in vogue by local strategists. They are fired from trets, bombers, or gunships just like any other form of munition.
Trets is shortened from the original term of 'turrets'. They are basically nothing more than a single giant cannon of some sort, emplaced within a massive gimbal system, giving them superb rotation. They are designed to form a defensive net for bombers, and are generally considered the three-dimensional, strategic equivalents of 'tanks' on surface worlds, and are occasionally labeled as such. Their profile is a bit unusual - compared to the sloping style of other ships they are veritable targets. This is somewhat made up for with the fact that their engines can point in any direction at once, giving them superior mobility.
Their purpose is normally as a 'first wave' out of a stargate, designed to rapidly and thoroughly subdue any immediate defensive emplacements, particularly heavily armored fortifications that survived grazing, either due to orbiting the gate or some other defensive means.
Gunships are essentially point defense ships, sometimes called hail makers. Whatever their armament, they are massed weapons platforms that provide 'cover' over a region of space, a sort of machine gun for the Void. They protect against missiles, drones, and other ships that simply get too close - but are too small for bombers or trets to take care of.
Their mode of defense is often called hail, as that's what it sounds like inside the larger ships actually designed to sustain such fire. While most use solid, 'dumb shot', sometimes fired so that a single gun makes a massive cloud of it, gunships using lasers, missiles, or drones are not uncommon - especially on larger models.
Bombers bear at best superficial relation to their atmosphere-bound namesake. They are usually grouped into 'light', 'medium', and 'heavy' depending on their intended range - light bombers engage at medium range, medium at long, and heavy at extreme ranges. These last are giant, kilometer-spanning machines of death intended to engage planets from a light-day away. Some of them are so massive that they are actually reconstructed -after- they pass through a stargate.
The main weapon is usually either a gigantic laser or gauss cannon, the latter often firing artillery specialized enough to pierce screens, if they are not themselves missiles or drones outright. They almost always have sapient crew, for a variety of reasons. Mintori interface and having a sapient responsible for the destruction aside, a person gifted with an infusion is capable of compromising such vessels, turning it to their own needs. Infusions among the general populace are exceedingly rare, but still worry many admirals.
Some bombers are combined gunship-bomber designs - these are usually classified according to their primary purpose.
Combat transports are often the final vessels a defender will see in an assault. At atmosphere provides immense defensive benefits, and 'nuking it from orbit' is not always a desired solution - especially if a specific person or item needs capturing. Alternatively, the atmosphere of a jovian is the ultimate mundane defense, even against stargrazing.
Transports usually enter atmospheres under heavy support from bombers, taking out obvious static defensive installations first. Landing is rare, but some models are designed to do so. They tend to release their cargo in the atmosphere - especially in the early stages of the invasion, a cloud of aerial fighters, bombers, and attack ships that will eventually depend on the following naval and land waves (if there is a meaningful ground and/or ocean).
While technically anything capable of defending itself with more than its defensive, propulsion and communication systems could be considered a warship, most vessels possess simple point defenses in order to deflect and vaporize small rocks that may chance across their path, or near the path of something critical. These are not warships.
Actual warships are essentially command ships - intended to provide 'close' range coordination of a large-scale battle. They have 'decks', a crew of dozens to hundreds, and have an appearance based more on taste than on raw combat effectiveness. This is because unless they are silverships, they are supposed to be coordinating attacks, not participating in them. They are also commonly seen outside the context of wartime, as policing vessels serving various needs - or as pirates.
Warship armament often consists of a main cannon or pair of cannons - like a bomber - combined with a vast array of secondary defenses like a gunship. This is only a tendency, however, and their raw designs vary wildly, especially when sigils are applied. These last usually become rather (in)famous in a short period of time, as their capabilities vastly outstrip lesser vessels.
Most other ships fulfill a transport or recreational role. Like warships, they are quite varied, and more so. There are a couple basic categories.
Escape pods are rare as separate entities from the craft that has them. They are usually the ejectable cockpit or control room of a vessel, containing a limited amount of emergency supplies and basic protections from the Void.
A mindpod is a simple escape pod designed only to support and transport a braincase. It consists of an engine, a reactor, armor, and a holding cell for the brain. It is not necessarily accurate to consider the mindpod to be separate from the ship that houses it - it is a fully functional 'control room' that houses the brain. The amount of resources devoted to making it separate is trivial in comparison to the full cost of the ship, and the additional security provided can enable the small vessel to escape situations that the larger one cannot.
Cargo ships usually look like giant spheres - or chains of spheres - with an engine and heat-dispersion 'wings'. Other specialized variants only lift material into orbit, which are either lifters, a cross between a blimp, a hot air balloon, and a plane, or a combination of the two. Vessels intended to carry sapient 'cargo' are similar, though 'luxury liners' are of course far more liberal in their designs.
Cargo ships usually possess deflectors and occasionally shields, along with various methods of point defense to take care of micrometeors and things. Screens are rare, as really important cargo is generally transferred on a warship instead.
Harvester vessels are gigantic strip-mining ships designed to literally take planetoids apart. The two main variants are those designed to skirt the upper atmosphere of a gas giant, harvesting deuterium and other rare elements, and another which lands on an asteroid, moon, or planetoid, devours a sizable chunk, processes it, and leaves.
Most possess little in the way of construction capability, though extremely large projects will use specialized vessels to disassemble a world. Those that collect deuterium are effectively tankers, supplying fuel to the rest of the star system they reside in.
Monitors are simplistic sensor arrays designed to watch for things, typically in high-orbit around a larger body.
Beacons are signaling stations used to announce a claim or warning of some sort.
Perhaps the first 'spaceship', in the sense that even the Voyager and Pioneer missions were, technically, probes, modern ones are fired out of a massive electromagnetic coil at significant fractions of c, to be sent blazing by a distant star system to analyze it for several days before it flies on. Even still, they require decades to reach their targets. The more advanced ones are considered drones.
An electromagnetic ring with legs and occasionally a 'skirt' intended to keep dust out, a coil is basically a free-floating gauss gun. They often float in clouds inside a system, and can assemble into massive coil arrays, in order to send something (often another coil with a deceleration engine) to another star, or other remote target.
They are also used to speed in-system transport. A passing ship will request assistance from one or more coils, pay the energy tax by whatever means - or just be granted permission, and be sent on their way.
Most other vessels serve the whims of their creators for various purposes, either creating (often smaller) replications of ships from old science-fiction, serving as spacegoing, fancy cruise liners with exotic features, or simply some other oddity.
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