Saturday, 11 August 2012

Solo Traveller - Aloin's Saga Backgrounder #4

Having introduced two Navy vessels into Aloin’s story, the designs of which are now in the Starships and Space ships page, it seems appropriate to examine the Imperial and Subsector Navies as I see them operating within the RimWorlds.

When Kolin Venuraski (later Sector Duke Kolin I) launched the settlement of the RimWorlds by the 3rd Imperium in the 6th Century, he had at his disposal a small flotilla of Imperial Navy ships for the protection of his colony fleet. This flotilla was augmented by such armed auxiliaries as his supporters could buy, equip, or supply. And as they spread out and were granted, or took, planetary holdings, it soon became imperative for each Noble to possess at least a couple of armed ships to both protect their fief, and to send to serve the Sector Duke when he called for aid. Kolin I took his duties as Sector Duke, and head of his comitatus, very seriously and he did not hesitate to downgrade Houses Major to House Minor status if they did not fully support him.

While numbers of available ships, and the technology level of their build, have fluctuated over the centuries, the current system for the defence of the RimWorlds has changed little from Kolin Venuraski’s day, nor from the House Trumer restoration of the Sector in the 10th Century. There is an Imperial Sector Fleet, currently utilising Tech Level 15 ships, charged with defending the nine Imperial controlled Subsectors of the Sector. Headquartered at the Sector capital Thiroor/Gazolan, Sector Fleet has at least one base in each Imperial Subsector and regularly shifts squadrons between them to maintain a state of readiness. The Reserve Fleet of older, Tech Level 14, units is based at Raelmar/Thurgandarn. There is no mothball fleet as all surplus units are sold to Houses Major to augment their Subsector Fleets.

Each Subsector Duke maintains a Subsector Fleet as his or her comitatus and is responsible for the defence of that subsector, as well as being obliged to commit units to assist the Sector Duke as required. As the standing a House Major holds is dependent upon the resources it can both commit to the defence of its Subsector, and to the defence of the Sector, very few recalcitrant Houses have survived the refusal to render aid. "Send ships or grasp the diadem" is a saying that we might translate as "Do your duty, or take charge", with the implication that the act of taking charge involves irrevocably committing the resources and fortunes of your House to both overthrowing the current Sector Duke and dealing with whatever problem was threatening the Sector.

Houses Major of Siridar-Count and Siridar-Baron rank can, and often do, maintain Planetary Navies which both defend their respective systems, and support their Subsector Duke as required. This ships may be built locally, or purchased from shipyard systems. Even System Defense Boats can be moved from system to system if there is sufficient Jump-capable transports of suitable tonnage available.

On the whole, this system works reasonably well with Subsector Fleets, usually backed up by a Sector Fleet squadron, being sufficient to maintain order or deal with most border incursions, and the heavy units of the Sector Fleet being committed only in the event of a major war.

In Miazan Subsector, the bulk of the 12.1 billion Imperial sophonts are concentrated in just three systems – Nakaya, Exxilon and Miazan.

The 6.2 billion inhabitants of the isolated Nakaya system make do with an average Tech Level of 7 – below Interstellar, meaning that they lack the technology to produce the machines that produce the machines that manufacture starships. While the Siridar-Baron of Nakaya maintains a few orbital forts and a large System Defence Boat flotilla, these have all been purchased from elsewhere and have to be maintained by expensive off-world technicians. Nakaya does contribute approximately one fifth of the annual Miazan Subsector Navy Budget of TCr 5.1.

With a population of 575 million sophonts, the Exxilon system is just on the edge of developing a native starship building industry at Tech Level 9 – or it will be when it develops its starport further. Like Nakaya, its greatest contribution towards the defence of the subsector is to finance shipbuilding elsewhere.

And elsewhere just happens to be the Subsector capital of Miazan. With a Tech Level of 12, an A Class Starport, and a population of 5.2 billion, Miazan has a yard capacity of over 6 million tons and the ability to produce ships of up to 100,000 tons in size. It is also the only major starship producing shipyard facility in Imperial-controlled space within the Subsector.

For the last decade, yard space at Miazan has been at a premium as House Geyukthi, Dukes of Miazan, have sought to replace Navy losses incurred during the 4th Outrim War and the Kalar-Wi War, as well as encourage the expansion of interstellar trade required to boost the subsector, financially. With such a bottleneck in the supply chain, and the smaller shipyards at Celephais out of action due to damage sustained during the Kalar-Wi War, the Miazan Subsector Navy is finding itself being out-built by neighboring polities that it is obliged to defend against.


  1. At TL9, Exxillon can certainly build militarily useful hulls, sandcasters and particle weapons.

    For example, it could build a 2000 dton Light Monitor hull with a fission power plant and a small spinal mount and a number of sandcaster turrets for defence (in HG terms, a small spinal mount is a 100 dton bay)

    The hull is then taken by a tender to Miazan to have TL12 sensors,computers and maneuver drives installed, and the Monitor then shipped to where it can do the most good.

    Yes, it would be a more efficient warship if built entirely to TL12 specs at Miazan - but by building the hull, drives and weapon systems to TL9 standards, Miazan's scarce shipyard resources are better utilised.

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    2. The problem with Exxilon is that its starport is currently only Class C, which precludes native shipbuilding (see here for the subsector UWPs).

      Strategically, and economically, it would make sense to upgrade Exxilon's starport to a minimum of Class B, but the impression I get from discussions on COTI (I've started lurking again) is that starport upgrades take some years and multiple RUs (10s - 1000s of MCRs).

      With a C Port, but a reasonable economy, it probably makes equal sense to buy SDBs off the peg from either a local shipyard or to take a number and get in the queue for a major TL15 yard, such as Gamelea.

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    4. T4's Pocket Empires is the product you want for issues like that

      A C port should be able to maintain the Orchid Class SDBs at least :)

    5. Thanks for all the comments, BTW - I like this part of the story creation (working out the background) almost as much as I enjoy playing.

      Yes, I have a copy of T4's Pocket Empires and think it's a fantastic tool for working out the "big picture".

      Apologies for not putting the UWPs for Miazan Subsector up earlier (or at least a link to them on my website or a link to the Sector Page) but I hadn't expected the discussion to take off in this direction.

      Now I did have a go at calculating RUs for Miazan Subsector a while back and seem to have come up with a Base GWP of 50.4 RUs or BCr54.8 local for Exxilon. Interestingly, when I calculated the planet's GWP using GURPs: Far Trader, I came up with a GWP of TCr1.686. Miazan has a GWP of 570 RU and Nakaya has a GWP of 227 RU, by way of comparison.

    6. 500 million people at tech 9 and a C port ... for 54 BCr to be right, thats 100 credits a year per capita. Im much happier with the GT:FT number of Cr3500, especially if its in local credits.

      The relationships between the three worlds "feel" about right with RUs ... Miazan ten times the size of Exxilon, and twice the size of teeming but underdeveloped Nakaya.

  2. Im trying really hard to see how Nakaya can be militarily useful - closest I can get to is have them build lots of TL7 Light Composite for use as armour plate and TL7 fission plants (bring a backup power source if the bad guys use a nuke damper to turn it off).

    TL7 light composite is roughly half as effective by mass as TL12 Superdense, and a quarter as effective by volume. A cubic meter of it is 7t and KCr 70 - but thats KCr 70 in Nakaya credits, and you'll get a lot of those for just about anything hi tech. If you're a commercial starship, you probably dont want to take more than 2m3 to a dton, unless you have a maneuver drive that can cope with very heavy cargos.

    I can easily see an 'inner hull' of Crystaliron, and then layers and layers of Nakaya Composite on everything that isnt needed for sensors, turrets or radiators.

    A TL7 12 MW Nakaya Special fission plant is 20m3, 160t and MCr 2 in local currency. It'll need 3 m3 of fuel a year, so with a year of fuel rods call it 25m3, 220t and MCr2.3 in local credits. That plant will run Extended Life Support for about 800 dtons of space or asteroid facility, or power a m3 of TL12 thruster plates that can move 400 tons at one gee.

    A TL12 fusion plant is roughly 0.5t per megawatt, as compared to 13t per megawatt for a Nakaya Special. A TL12 fusion plant costs MCr0.1 for a megawatt of power.

    Nakaya Specials also very, very rarely explode or leak coolant or otherwise malfunction and kill everyone on the ship from radiation poisoning.

    Nakaya Specials are also the only vaguely useful thing I can see Nakaya being able to contribute to the collective defense.

    Every damn spacer in the Subsector Navy is going to hate Nakaya Specials with a passion.

    1. Apart from fission power plants, about the only other major exports Nakaya is known for are Model/2 computers and TL7 firearms.

      The one main resource the planet has is it's massive population. Possibly like the Friendlies in the Dorsai Series, Nakaya exports labour and cannon fodder.

      The Government is a Feudal Technocracy, and from my notes I see that the Defence Command technicians and engineers effectively took over the government and planetary defence during the 4th Outrim War and never gave it back. It suggests an image of the elite living in deep shelter complexes while the populace dig air raid shelters and form urban patrol groups. Possibly not a nice place to visit with its contaminated atmosphere.

  3. On behalf of Exillon Heavy Industry Plc, we present the design for the 9000 dton Orchid Class Heavy System Defense vessel.

    A variant on the established Tulip class SDB by Jospeph Kimball, the Orchid class is equipped with a spinally mounted particle accelerator weapon, can sustain 2G of acceleration and has armour and light secondary armament for self-defense against fighters and similar threats.

    We believe that these can be entirely consturcted within Exillon, and that if taken into service these vessels will be able to make a substaintial contribution to the defense of the subsector.

    Ship: Orchid
    Class: Tulip-bis
    Type: Light Monitor
    Architect: Ian Whitchurch/Jospeh Kimball
    Tech Level: 9

    DG-J102639-180000-80B00-0 MCr 9,706.590 9 KTons
    Bat Bear 1 1 1 Crew: 137
    Bat 1 1 1 TL: 9

    Cargo: 141 Crew Sections: 9 of 16 Fuel: 540 EP: 540 Agility: 0 Shipboard Security Detail: 9 Marines: 20
    Craft: 1 x 20T None
    Fuel Treatment: Fuel Scoops and On Board Fuel Purification
    Backups: 1 x Model/3 Computer

    Architects Fee: MCr 97.066 Cost in Quantity: MCr 7,765.272

    Detailed Description
    (High Guard Design)

    9,000.000 tons standard, 126,000.000 cubic meters, Needle/Wedge Configuration

    20 Officers, 97 Ratings, 20 Marines

    Jump-0, 2G Manuever, Power plant-6, 540.000 EP, Agility 0

    Bridge, Model/3 Computer
    1 Model/3 Backup Computer

    Spinal Mount, 20 Hardpoints

    Particle Accelerator Spinal Mount (Factor-B), 10 Triple Beam Laser Turrets organised into 1 Battery (Factor-8)

    10 Triple Sandcaster Turrets organised into 1 Battery (Factor-8), Armoured Hull (Factor-1)

    1 20.000 ton None (Crew of 2, Cost of MCr 0.000)

    540 Tons Fuel (0 parsecs jump and 28 days endurance)
    On Board Fuel Scoops, On Board Fuel Purification Plant

    72 Staterooms, 141 Tons Cargo


    MCr 9,803.656 Singly (incl. Architects fees of MCr 97.066), MCr 7,765.272 in Quantity

    158 Weeks Singly, 127 Weeks in Quantity


    Tulip-bis Class Light Monitor

    Book 5 Crew Breakdown
    Command section: 7 officers and 4 ratings; Engineering section: 3 officers and 18 ratings; Gunnery section: 6 officers and 47 ratings; Flight section: 1 officers and 3 ratings; Service section: 2 officers and 16 ratings; Medical Section: 1 officers and 0 ratings; Marines: 20
    Hull: 0.000 Td; MCr 1,080.000
    Armour Factor-1: 720.000 Td; MCr 288.000

    M-Drive Factor-2: 450.000 Td; MCr 315.000
    J-Drive Factor-0: 0.000 Td; MCr 0.000
    P-Plant Factor-6: 1,620.000 Td; MCr 4,860.000; +540.000 EP

    P-Fuel: 540.000 Td; MCr 0,000
    J-Fuel: 0.000 Td; MCr 0.000
    Scoops: 0.000 Td; MCr 9.000
    Purification: 9.000 Td; MCr 0.038
    L-Hyd Drop Tanks: 0.000 Td; MCr 0.000

    Bridge: 180.000 Td; MCr 45.000
    Computer Model/3: 3.000 Td; MCr 18.000; -1 EP
    1 x Backup Computer Model/3: 3.000 Td; MCr 18.000

    Spinal Particle Accelerator Factor-B: 5,000.000 Td; MCr 3,000.000; -500 EP
    10 x Laser Turrets: 10.000 Td; MCr 30.000; -30 EP
    10 x Sand Turrets: 10.000 Td; MCr 7.500


    1 x None: 26.000Td; MCr 0.052; Cost of craft: MCr 0.000

    72.0 x Staterooms: 288.000 Td; MCr 36.000
    Cargo: 141.000 Td; MCr 0.000


    The design is different from his, in that it has 2Gs rather than 6 - TL9 doesnt do compensators per FFS2, so even if HG allows it, I'd rather not have 6G ships at TL9.

    With some shoehorning, I can probably make a 9900t jump-1 variant that keeps the spinal mount, if Exxillon ever gets an A-port. While only jump-1 capable, they could be moved around slooooowwwlllyyyyy with tanker support.

    1. I really like this design. Would you mind if I put it into my Starships and Space Ships page (with suitable credits)? I'm sure if we can't get Exxilon up to at least a B Class Starport, there will be other TL 9 worlds needing SDBs.

    2. Absolutely.

      Its a clumsy brute of a thing, that makes up for three thousand years of technological obsolescence - and make no mistake, this was a design outdated at the height of the Ziru Sirkaa - with megajoule after megajoule of charged particles.

      And it would put cold fear into pirates, as it's highly unlikely any ship smaller than a thousand dtons that was hit by it's main armament would ever have any survivors.

      Even ships of the line dont want to be hit by one, once.

      This ship is an example, to me, of why gearheading is important in Trav ... it's a 9000 dton monitor that is literally 55% spinal mount. You could make an entire story about how you could probably fly a type S scout into the maw of it's main armament.

      On board, it has g-couches that the crew strap into. Bedding is bunks, at four to a stateroom. For captains and crew used to the sleek efficiency of high stellar tech, this craft would be loud, dangerous and unpleasant.

      This is a ship is about the shock of the old.

      And the first one to roll out of the orbital facility will be the pride of Exxillon.

  4. Oh, put the Prosperity class subsidised merchany on your Starships thread.

    Its designed to carry a Tulip-class in wartime, rather than its more usual cargo pod.