Monday, October 28, 2013

Care and Feeding of Zombies

With Halloween just ahead I stopped my Traveller designs to work on something more spooky: a classification system for zombies!

Smarts
 1) Bugs are smarter. Zombies react solely by instinct. Will walk off cliffs or into fire.
 2) Animal cunning. Very dumb animals.
 3) Feral human. Will throw rocks, particularly to break lights.
 4) Semi-intelligent. Will throw rocks, use clubs and can learn rudiments of machinery. Could fire a rifle but not load it. Can open doors. Limited learning.
 5) Near human. Often retains habits and knowledge of past life. Can learn by observing how to operate simple machinery.
Quickness
 1) Can plod slowly along. Forever.
 2) Can stumble or shamble along at normal walking speed.
 3) Can break into a shambling jog.
 4) Can run but may fall.
 5) Can run as fast as a human.
Muscle
 1) Half human strength
 2) Below average human strength
 3) Average human strength
 4) Athletic human strength
 5) Twice as strong as an average human
Toughness
 1)Brittle. While destroying the head is the only way the skull is fragile and can be broken with a kick or penetrated by a jackknife.
 2)Normal human durability. A headshot is not necessary.
 3) Only a headshot will do it though other wounds will slow it down.
 4) Only a headshot will do it. Other wounds are ignored.
 5)Even a headshot is iffy. Only massive firepower will kill this.
Infection
 1) Not infectious.
 2) Infection can be fought with antibiotics.
 3) Only amputating a wounded limb has any chance of working. A bite on the torso, head or neck is hopeless.
 4) Infection is immediate within seconds
 5) Highly infectious and goes out of its way to infect (spitter, spewers etc.)

Some examples:
28 Days Later Smarts -2, Quickness -5, Muscle-4, Toughness-2, Infection-4
Night of the Living Dead Smarts -3, Quickness -2, Muscle-2, Toughness-4, Infection-1
The Walking Dead (new zombie) Smarts-1, Quickness-4, Muscle-3, Toughness-4, Infection-3
The Walking Dead (old zombie) Smarts-1, Quickness-3, Muscle-3, Toughness-1, Infection-3
Warm Bodies Smarts-5, Quickness-3, Muscle-3, Toughness-3, Infection-3

Monday, October 14, 2013

M-Drives and Rocket Jocks

The major player in my next Traveller Campaign is the 'Polity.' I think FFE has copyrighted 'Imperium.' The Polity is made up of humans descended from Terrans who were abducted/saved at the end of the last Ice Age by aliens we'll call the Ascended. The Ascended ... ascended eventually. They evolved to the point where they no longer really had any cultural references with us lowly meatbags anymore. The humans left behind had access to their technology and managed to back engineer some of it with different degrees of success.

Like the Terrans who arrive on the Up Port the Polity is about TL 9. They have gravitic drives and laser rifles and carbines. Their troops wear ablative (think chrome storm troopers who can hit what they aim for sometimes.) The Newcomers will probably assume they are much more advanced. The problem is a) the Polity is a stagnant culture (these humans are not as technologically inclined as the humans left behind on Terra) and b) having grav drives made much of the technological innovations of the Terran space age unnecessary. The constraints of primitive chemical rocket launch systems led to miniaturized electronics, robotics and other goodies the Polity never needed.

The Polity has also struggled to maintain their grav-tech and FTL drives to keep an edge over the other cultures in their cluster. Other areas of technology are pretty much ignored. So IT is about TL 8. They have fusion reactors (made possible with grav tech to contain reactions) though they seem to guzzle fuel because the ignition procedure is very energy intensive. Their sensors are quite primitive by modern standards because in general their ships jump pretty close to the world they're heading for.

The grav drives they use have several interesting features. Each gee of the drive rating can be used to accelerate at 10m/s^2, compensate for 1 gee of acceleration, or create a barrier against incoming weapon fire (their armor materials are also only TL 8.) They have typical 70's space opera tech.

The Newcomers however have advanced armor materials, point defense, sandcasters and smart weapons. Will their more realistic technology be a match for the retro future technology they face?





Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Up Port Alpha

Up Port Alpha is built more or less to Traveller TL 9. The major difference between CT's tech level progression and my ATU's technology is that reaction drives are still used, at least by Terrans. Several sublight expeditions have been launched to Saturn and the outer worlds as well as the Oort cloud (they're very good reaction drives.) The port was built as a joint effort by the UN and the Lunar Republic. The Republic feels very strongly about weaponizing space and further antagonizing the Asteroid Coalition. Earth is determined to defend itself and its lukewarm ally.

Alpha is 2000 displacement tons. 1500 tons is in a ring 20 meters in radius rotating at four revs per minute. This spin gravity takes some getting used to. The ring is 6 meters thick and 35 meters wide. It contains most of the space port systems. The ring is mounted on a central shaft that doesn't rotate and contains two shuttle (95 ton) hangars and two 50 ton berths for the two cutters. A smaller 15 ton berth is for miscellaneous couriers that come calling.

The shaft also contains two lab/workshops that are capable of building a courier in a few days. The tip of the central shaft has a 20 ton docking arm that currently holds a 100 ton asteroid (more on that later) in a cargo bay.

Alpha's reaction drives allow it to thrust at 1 gee for 8 hours. It orbits earth in a very eccentric orbit taking it into the upper atmosphere to rendezvous with spaceplanes. Its thrusters make up the slight loss in velocity from air resistance. Alpha can obviously change its orbit to go where its needed. It requires a lot of reaction mass (an orbital transfer alone uses 100 tons of fuel but it's way more mobile than the ground port.) When the first orbital bolos go into operation in a few months the port will service them as well.

The ring has two levels. Going from the inner level to the outer level the gravity increases from .35 g to .41 g. That and the rapid spinning causes vertigo in many people when they first board. Drugs and special earphones can alleviate this condition almost immediately. Hostiles boarding will not have this luxury.

A ten ton berth  in the inner ring can hold a small courier or lander. In practice this craft usually rolls around the ring on a track powered by monopropellant or maglev to assist EVA. However it can be launched and operated like any space craft. A water tank serves as a counter weight to keep the ring's balance. If the ship does launch the water is pumped out of the tank to secondary tanks to restore balance.

In view of recent hostilities the port was equipped with ten hardpoints. Against Lunar protests Earth has installed ten triple turrets. The turrets each mount a missile rack, sandcaster and pulse laser. The Earth insists this is defensive weaponry.