Vir's Archive

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Join the Party -- The Utility of Jammers (Content)

A Wanzer, from Front Mission -- an inspiration for the Jammers. 
One thing I have discovered about my writing is that I do my best stuff when I am working with someone.  I find new energy when I can bounce ideas off of people, and my prose is more direct when someone else can call out my crazy ideas and pull them back.  Part of the reason I am doing this blog, and airing my ideas for all to see, is that I am hopeful a handful of you out there will see merit in The Difference Equation and decide to help out.

Luckily, I have had a number of people step up so far and help.  I pitched my core setting concept to a bunch of friends, and they gave me initial feedback.  Since then, I have asked a couple published rpg writer friends to look over the core catalog and timeline to see what they had to say.  The setting has evolved considerably since those first few collaborations, to the point where I think many of the original group would be surprised to see how far things have progressed.  Its a better, more exciting setting specifically because of those first key pieces of feedback.

...and now there is Brandon.  Brandon is a buddy I met on the Dream Pod 9 forums.  I am convinced he is responsible for at least half the hits that come in to this blog -- and he single-handed carries on a conversation over on G+ that pushes me farther and farther into the setting and forcing me to make smart and critical decisions about the direction I am taking the game.

Brandon has been so helpful, he went so far as to start tentatively writing some content.  His stuff is really good.  Real good.  I am happy to have him and his insights on board.

So, I'd like this, the last content post for the week, to focus on one of Brandon's contributions.

The Best of Bad Options: Jammers in Modern Warfare:  The few major capital ships built by the SCEs and major powers of the Solar System are often leviathans that carry firepower strong enough to cause major damage to colonies and enough reaction mass for sustained combat burns.  Their downside, however, is their enormous mass and detection signature.  In space, it is nearly impossible to hide a ship due to the advancements of sensor technology.  Mass detection devices are used regularly by every colony and ship as a means of observing asteroids, comets, and other debris that might come dangerously close to impacting with stations.  The tremendous velocities of these naturally-occurring projectiles makes them a viable threat to all. The mass detection devices are also used by the powers to montior each other's naval shipyards, allowing nations to be made aware within hours of when a ship is departing from a specific area.

For this reason, any unannounced departure of capital ships from their dockyards is tantamount to an act of war by all powers concerned, and the space command structures often announce at least a day prior of any patrols in order to avoid provoking an international crisis.

With this current state of affairs, Jammers have become a vital necessity for the powers.  Their small mass allows them to be transported aboard most any ship available, and it is not uncommon for them to be given specialized ships designed expressly to be innocuous-looking, even ragged in appearance, while actually housing an entire team of Jammers and the facilities needed to maintain them.

Due to Newton's Third Law of Motion, mass-drivers and railguns using kinetic energy projectiles are limited in distribution among space-based Jammer squadrons, and their ammunition typically includes a self-destruct mechanism contained within their spikes so that if they do miss their target they do not present a threat to innocent travelers in the area surrounding a hot zone. Missiles, while slower on initial launch, are also safer, and include the same self-destruct mechanisms, often made tamper-proof so that industrious pirates do not attempt to retrieve the weapons after they have been armed and launched.  Lasers, meanwhile, have become the long-range weapon of choice, but their enormous power requirements typically mean that a Jammer must be equipped with an auxiliary power system to maintain the weapon for prolonged skirmishes.  To offset this, Jammers will also carry aerosol chaff that can be used to diffract the laser's intensity and lessen its pinpoint killing power.

Space-based Jammer squadrons on deep space missions typically use a highly-reflective armor skin, like silver, which helps to avoid visual detection when further away from the sun's light. Nearer to the gravity wells, this is changed for a brighter color scheme allowing visual recognition from friendly units and also from civilian ships passing in the area. Planet-borne Jammer squadrons will typically use a mimetic skin that can be charged or heated to change and adapt its colors to the surrounding terrain.  Due to the enormous firepower carried by most Jammers, deep space combat is short and vicious, with pilots using stealth and surprise to overwhelm their opponents. Any engagements that last longer usually occur near stations and other large objects that provide cover and concealment and also mask the mass of the Jammers from enemy sensors.


Awesome, right?  I edited a bit, but not much.  90% of the above is his - and is the result of some very smart and intuitive mental leaps on his part.

If anyone else out there has ideas they want to contribute, please do so -- here, over email, or on G+.  If I can get this setting and game to a point where it gets published, I promise you will get the credit you deserve.  This isn't me just trying to steal other people's ideas -- this is me trying to open up my playground so other people can play on the jungle gym.

...and selfishly, like I said, the more interaction with others I have as I hash out ideas, the better my stuff becomes.  So, for that and many other things, welcome aboard Brandon!