Thursday, September 02, 2010

Unrefined Fuel

LBB2 is wonderfully specific in game terms, vague in universal terms. Anyone can use unrefined fuel: only Scout ships and Military ships can use it safely.

Why? Because their engines are made to use it.

How? Eloquent silence. In LBB2 there's no discussion, at all, about what it is that makes a an A drive in a scout/courier happy about using unrefined fuel, and what makes an A drive in a Free Trader choke on it sometimes.

Since that choking can be expensive (drive failures) or deadly (misjumps,) it has a huge effect, or should: any merchant captain visiting a backwater world is throwing lives in the balance, just from the misjump risk.

(Now, I've been using a tech cutoff for this IMTU so far: I assume that jump drives are finicky, and that fuel refinement is actually a very difficult industrial process. Military craft of the Festrian Empire are built at TL 13+, generally (IIRC that's the cutoff for being able to do a Book 2 Type T or C) and so I assume that drives of whatever class, made to that tech, are capable of using Unrefined fuel safely. Scout ships fall under that category.)

When I was wee and my first set of LBBs was new, I wavered around. I figured that fuel scoops were the only equipment you needed to use unrefined fuel safely - so every ship built streamlined could do it. A cheap and easy solution - but it means that virtually NO ship should ever be made without streamlining (just as any ship built using High Guard ought to pack a refiner, it's silly not to.) It certainly makes things easier for your Merchants flogging Free Traders around the galaxy: in particular, it makes skipping a LOT easier. But I'm not sure I like that solution now, especially since it doesn't make sense to me that LBB2 would include those rules if the ships that most PCs could access weren't affected by them. (It confused matters further when Supplement, um 7? includes a Fat Trader SPECIFICALLY said to sport a refinement plant, and a Fart Raider Far Trader which is NOT specifically so equipped.)

ON THE OTHER HAND, if ALL streamlined craft can use unrefined fuel, then of the standard designs we see the A, R, S, T ships all able to skim safely, while the M, Y, and C are restricted. But then, Gripping hand, are the Mercenary Cruisers not military?

This is certainly an area which makes High Guard look tempting.


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