Saturday, 26 November 2016

Equipment Locker: Sonic Disruptors

I've been a fan of The Generic Universal Roleplaying Blog ever since I first encountered it. A recent post on it that was part of this week's GURPSday haul was Ultra-Tech Quickie: More Options for the Blaster and Laser Design System. TheRyujinLP nicely encapsulated the chemical power packs for TL9 lasers, which I intended to do at one point, though they did so much more elegantly and simply than I probably would have. Another large part of the post was weight modifiers based on TL – prototype weapons that are heavy, mature weapons that are light. I've been considering including sonic screamers in my space opera setting but wasn't really happy about the lag in TL, since the setting is TL10^. But with Ryujin's little expansion, I can now extrapolate sonic screamers to TL10!

In the process, you get a sneak peak at my own expansion to the Blaster and Laser Design System: sonic screamers and stunners, plasma flamers and guns, electrolasers, and neural disruptors.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Cross-Post: Generic Universal Roleplaying Blog

It was only a month or two ago that I got back into reading the content published around the GURPS-o-sphere (collated over at Gaming Ballistic) and one of the blogs that had escaped my attention before was The Generic Universal Roleplaying Blog. Me and TheRyujinLP seem to have a lot in common – we both like GURPS Ultra-Tech and science fiction, as well as having a penchant for ripping apart existing GURPS systems to see how they work and build our own. Unlike me, however, Ryujin has been much more regular in their posting and has deconstructed a lot of the equipment from GURPS Ultra-Tech to produce systems for designing your own gear. So far my favourite posts of theirs, in no particular order, have been Plasma Guns, Re-EnergisedPower Armour, Powered Up; and Totally Not Lightsabres. If you enjoy my posts on ultra-tech equipment, definitely check this blog out.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ad Astra: Singularity Rider

Horrible cosmic deathtrap or delicious
starship power supply?
It's a new column! And it's not the one I mentioned before! Surprise!

Just about the only promising way for humans to travel the vast distances between stars within a lifetime is the black hole starship. The basic operating principle is simple and also totally nuts. You collapse matter to make a black hole massing in at around 606 kilotons. Given it's so small, it releases intense Hawking radiation – this can be deflected out the back to provide thrust directly or used to heat reaction mass. Estimates of power output place black hole drives as being able to accelerate to 10% of lightspeed in about 20 days. Assuming a uniform acceleration rate (which is wrong due to relativity but a decent approximation), you could get to near-lightspeed in just under seven months.

Once you can get going that fast that quickly, the galaxy opens up a lot. Travel times are still measured in decades but at such a high fraction of lightspeed, time on-board the starship goes slower, so you could feasibly travel anywhere within a few hundred lightyears in only a few years (from your perspective).

So let's build one in GURPS Spaceships!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Equipment Locker: Lightning Guns

When going through GURPS Ultra-Tech for the five-billionth time, something occurred to me. Blasters can have an omniblaster setting, which gives them a nonlethal stun mode. It turns dice of damage into a penalty on a HT roll and drops the armour divisor one step. I turned back a few pages, to the electrolasers. They have penalties to HT rolls and an armour divisor... Can you do the same backwards?

I mean, obviously you can because a) I'm writing this post and b) this is GURPS. So here are write-ups for two different varieties or flavours of lethal "electric guns".

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Meta: In the Pipeline

I'm currently writing from the CERN accommodation in Geneva, Switzerland, because as a particle physicist it was only a matter of time until I ended up here for a week or so. This also means that I won't be making my goal of two posts every GURPSday pull this week. Damn! This would have been a full month of keeping to that goal, too. But nevermind.

This isn't for lack of content, mind you. There's quite a few things I've got knocking around, all nearly-ready for deployment:

  • A shield design system, based on Pulver's armour design system
  • Superscience lightning guns!
  • Plasma weapons that use the vortex ring system so that they're only limited-superscience, rather than total superscience
  • A system for designing electromagnetic guns from the ground up
  • The first instalment of a new column, Dramatis Personae, where I create characters for use as PCs or NPCs
I just need some time...

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Equipment Locker: Boser Weapons

I've been reading Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space recently and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys science fiction (and not just because Reynolds is a fellow Welshman). Reynolds' setting is best described as relativistic space opera; spacecraft called lighthuggers travel between star systems at a hair's breadth below the speed of light, their Ultranaut crews genetically and cybernetically modified to endure years-long voyages and repeated hibernation. Inhabited planets and star systems have an array of different technological levels, with the splinter group of humanity called the Conjoiners responsible for ridiculously advanced technology that exhibits Clarke's Third Law. The thing that piqued my attention enough to write a blog post was a type of weapon several characters use in the book, called a boser.

"Boser" obviously has a hint of "laser" about it, following in the tradition of masers, grasers and spasers by making a portmanteau of laser and something else. But what they actually were baffled me for a while. A hint comes during an altercation about halfway through the book on the planet Resurgam, where the beam of a boser is described as "coherent matter". This made me curious enough to look it up and as soon as I saw the words "Bose-Einstein condensate", I immediately understood. For those without the background in particle physics I have, I'll explain below, and give some highly speculative statistics.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Utility Closet: Armour Design Spreadsheet

David Pulver's armour design system is one of my favourite things in GURPS Pyramid, since I'm a perennial tweaker. One of the things that annoys me about it is the fact that it's spread across three publications, requiring flipping between several if you want to make something that uses materials or rules from more than one. To ease the issue, I've collated all the information on body surface areas, constructions and materials into one Google spreadsheet. Enjoy!

Please note that I deliberately didn't include explanations of the numbers or the actual rules themselves, as that would probably count as republishing GURPS content, which is in violation of Steve Jackson Games' online policy.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Meta: New Goals

So anyone who's been following this blog for longer than the last two or three months (so two people?) may have noticed that there was a big gap in the middle of the year. There were a number of reasons for it but to be honest the biggest was a lack of initiative  all the content I had made that was easy to dress up and present had been done, so getting the rest out there involved more work that I wasn't bothered to put in. I've recently come back to this blog properly and I'm trying to get a better flow of content. I have a lot of content half-finished  there's about the same number of draft posts as there are published posts. 

So from now on, I've made a goal for myself to make at least two posts every week. More specifically, to get two posts in every GURPSday pull, since it's currently my biggest source of traffic and views. Tomorrow's pull will mark the second week of keeping this goal. Most of the posts will be coming from my large amount of unfinished drafts, many of which are basically done but for my perfectionist streak. After that backlog is cleaned out... well hopefully I'll have built up more half-finished ideas to finish by then.

Equipment Locker: Pressor Weapons

While Halo's gravity hammer is probably currently the best-known example of this kind of weapon, 'gravity hammers', 'impact hammers', 'pressor weapons', or whatever you like to call them have been seen in science fiction for a while. GURPS Ultra-Tech comes close to giving us them with the rocket striker (p. 163) but stops just short of giving us anything more sci-fi than rocket-assisted melee weapons, at least for those of us who prefer blunt instruments to fancy knives. Thankfully, the tools we need to build these weapons are all in the book and only need a creative application of the Combination Gadgets rules (p. 16), to tease them out.