Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Fleet Disposition of the Festerian Reach

First, some notes about my take on book 2 space travel:

Jump is imprecise, taking "about one week." I'm inclined to allow rolls on Nav skill to add precision, but it'll never be perfect. And this will vary from ship to ship, navigator to navigator. Fleets IMTU need marshalling time when they arrive in jump, which makes them vulnerable while their ships start straggling in. Carriers getting in early can launch their fighters and riders and begin the fight, but against major fleets they'll still be in trouble. Faster ships would flee away from the system center until the rest of the fleet arrived, hoping to draw some of the defenders with them. The defender might not take that opportunity immediately, knowing that other attackers might be on the way. One doesn't want to send the fleet out after a raider ship, only to arrive triumphantly back at the mainworld to find an enemy carrier fleet in possession of it.

There's no real "front" in naval combat, not at the strategic level. A well-tankered fleet can travel several jumps without seeing a star system, so key worlds - homeworlds - can be struck with virtually no warning. Hence, a planetary power MUST keep a home fleet on hand big enough to defeat any attack fleet its neighbors can muster.

The Festrian Navy has this arrangement as a baseline: other fleets will likely vary.
Jump Ships

Ships of the Line:
Fleet Carriers: The primary ships of the line. Any LBB2 ship between 3000 and 5000 tons will have significant space left for carried craft, even with significant fuel reserves, so fleet carriers tend to be the primary ships of the line, with weaponry balanced between lasers, sand and missiles. Their carried craft will be riderships and fighters.
Frigate: any warship configured primarily to fight in concert with fleet carriers; heavy on missiles, with minimal defensive weaponry. Not typically employed independently. Capable of extended planetary bombardment.

Independent Operations:
Cruisers: 400-800 tons, moderate performance; patrol, small force insertion
Corvette: 400-800 tons, high performance patrol and pursuit ship. Generally lacks the Cruiser's complement of ship's troops.
Raider: A warship configured for long-range, long distance operations independent of supply. Generally carries a significant complement of marines and retrieval craft.
Strike Carrier: A warship configured for the long-distance projection of naval power independent of a fleet. Generally smaller and faster than fleet carriers; essentially a raider with more space given over for fighters and riderships.

Carried Craft:
Ship's boats, pinnaces, cutters:
As appropriate to carrying ship's mission; generally not fighting craft except in emergency. Will usually be the retrieval craft for marine contingents.
Fighters: Self explanatory: used in patrol, target acquisition and screen roles; in fleet actions, squadrons employed in the attack role.
Riderships and System Defense Boats: It's not clear how effective these would be in LBB2 combat. Certainly, they're less expensive than jump ships of equal tonnage. They're more resilient than small craft. They can carry better computers. Riders will have missiles as their primary weapons, and will be able to carry troops for boarding parties; they will carry less fuel. SDBs will lack the troops but will likely be double-crewed for long duration missions without support or resupply; they will have missile magazines, but their primary weapon will be lasers.

Dreadnoughts created by GM fiat larger than the 5000 ton range or employing Bizarre New Weaponry may appear from time to time to mess everything up for everybody, but that's always going to be out of the ordinary.

6 Comments:

Blogger Omer Golan said...

Nice fleet you got there :)

Do you intend to design and stat all of these battleships and use them in actual combat play? If so, there are two problems with the LBB2 rules you might have to tackle:

1) Carriers rule the day. Fighter have one hardpoint-equivalent per 10 tons (i.e. per fighter) while large craft have one hardpoint per 100 tons. This means that a carrier has far more firepower than a non-carrier of the same tonnage. If you want carriers to be the major combatants IYTU, that's cool; but if you want different polities to use different strategies, you might have to do something about that.

2) Big ships carrying a full complement of guns roll MANY times (up to 150!) per combat turn, even more if they carry fighters. So, if you want to put your ships to actual combat play, you'd need either mass-fire rules or heavy weapons that take multiple hardpoints and thus reduce the number of shots fired every turn.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Festeria said...

I don't see any need to stat them out just yet, though I may just to do a smoketest for a fleet action, once I come up with a disposition for an opposing fleet!

I have no problem at all with carriers ruling the day; I'm curious to see what happens when a carrier using fighters goes up against a carrier packing riders: the riders have fewer guns per ton, but they pack more powerful computers, and survive hits better than fighters.

I definitely think I'd hand over the "die rolling" to the statistical method that shows up in TCS, at least until the fleets got whittled down.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Omer Golan said...

Another point - you probably need a large, dedicated troop-carrier ship (3,000-5,000 tons, carrying at least one reinforced Battalion with support elements and supplies for some time). Sure, most ships - especially Strike Carriers - carry troops, but you need a ship to transport large troop formations for planetary invasions and large-scale ground operations.

You probably also need a heavy military freighter to carry fleet supplies, a tender for field repairs on other ships, and a tanker for field re-fueling when no gas giant is around.

1:38 PM  
Blogger Craig A. Glesner said...

Good points Omer about the often forgotten worker bees of the Fleet, the unsexy ships: Transports, tenders, ammunition carriers, oilers, and of course don't forget the hospital ships.

I am way digging the blog so far, keep up the good work, Festeria. Omer you also rock, many a good point you have raised.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Festeria said...

Agreed, I need to sort out troop transports and support ships, both - though a lot of the gruntwork will get done by masses of subsidized liners pressed into service!

The Festrian Empire doesn't often require invasion/occupation forces: philosophically, they're all about leaving worlds autonomous but extending massive superiority in space. I envision small units of marines sent down as forward observers for pinpoint naval-ground strikes, or fleets engaging in wholesale punitive planetary bombardment to deal with the truly intransigent.

There are other pocket empires IMTU that *do* believe in occupation, though, and their navies will reflect that. Big landing ships, dropships, and lots of fighters kitted out for atmospheric duty and close support rather than naval engagements.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Craig A. Glesner said...

I can see your point and it spurred me to add a bit about the Imperial Merchant Marine in my own "notebox" (which is a .rtf file right now.

Right now the my Empire does do planetary garrisoning and invasion. Mostly the IA does the garrisoning (the exception being Terra where occupation forces has a higher percentage of IM) and the IM does the invasion. Drop Marines, can't go wrong with Drop Marines.

4:14 PM  

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