Continuing his short series on Antares spacecraft, Tim delves into typical ships belonging to each faction. This time, he sets out some basic principles (design overview, relative stat values) and illustrates these with the Algoryn or, more correctly, the military ships of the Algoryn Prosperate Interstellar Navy (APIN) – the interstellar arm of the AI.
Ship Design Overview
Before we go into details, its worth highlighting a key facet of GA drive physics that shapes ship design. That is that the field a GA drive generates is typically an prolate spheroid – imagine a rugby ball or American football shape. This is a balance between the ideal (a pointed shape, but weak) and strength (a sphere, broader forward section, and slow) that allows the ship generating the field to more easily bypass interstellar or intersystem debris past the field.
This compromise shape governs the overall design of Antarean starships in that even if they have no clear set of ‘thrusters’ at their rear, they have a clear ‘front’ and tend to be elongated. For ease of access, storage and layout, the ships tend to have a ‘top’ and ‘bottom’, with decks running lengthwise, the internal gravity maintained by a very slight variance between the ‘top’ and ‘bottom’ of the drive field: there are no internal gravity plates.
A Note on Ship Classes
Frigates are the backbone of most factions space navies. They are best regarded as cruising ships or the light cruisers that were frigates in the age of sail. They are capable of a range of actions from convoy protection to diplomatic missions, to some landing actions – so frequently carry marines – and also carry shuttles to augment their landing or transfer capability beyond the 300km range of a transmat.
The next class up is referred to as light cruisers or heavy cruisers, the split being purely on whether the ship has a bias towards general cruiser functionality (light cruisers, perhaps 500-600m in length) or an anti-ship role (heavy cruisers, perhaps 600-800m in length). Above those might be squadron command cruisers large enough to carry scout ships and substantial numbers of marines and ground personnel (1000m+, perhaps) as well as armament exceeding that of a heavy cruiser.
Lighter and faster ships are used to scout for emerging gates on the Antares Nexus as well as to transfer messages and information between all the member and dependent systems. Such ships are classed as ‘survey’ or ‘scout’ vessels, or even explicitly as armed couriers.
In the panhuman star navies, the only larger ships are the vast fleet bases intended to travel through the gate system and act as the main operating and repair base for a planetary- or system-wide conflict. These are most often used when a substantial combined arms commitment is needed to absorbing a recalcitrant new planet into a faction.
All ship classes have an anti-transmat capability, projectors that disrupt the lock a transmat needs so preventing effective transmission. This is a critical and fail-safe device that, if somehow destroyed (with all its back-ups!), leaves a ship helpless to any who wish to transmat warheads onto an enemy ship.
Some of the ships ratings below refer to relative values that can be used in designing a game rather than absolute values.
Ship’s armour in the tables below is in the format ‘SRA×Tgh‘.
SRA is a ship-rating armour value, considerably tougher (by 10-20×) than normal Res; the ‘Tgh‘ value is that reflecting the ship’s internal structural strength.
Crew numbers are horribly difficult to calculate, so the following stats should be considered a guide, only. Except on the smallest ships (where everyone is crew), the values tend to be limited to operational staff such as bridge or engineering crew, including fire control, and is relative to the ship’s size. It also includes drones or similar functionality or automation that might keep a ship stable. Generally, this value does not take into account backup crew (drones can be crew!), or others on board such as maintenance, admin, scientific or medical staff, logistics personnel, stewards, chefs (for luxury passengers) or similar.
So, in the following descriptions, the ‘Crew’ stat is a relative value and reflects the crew’s capability and vulnerability, not just absolute numbers. The ratings could equate to around 10 individuals on scout/couriers (who would not carry extra crew), or 30-50 individuals on larger ships.
‘Marine’ ratings are similarly approximate for now: they could be said to equate to up to 50 points (say 25+ individuals plus support staff), or more on larger ships, down to just a few fire teams on scout vessels (but who can be very effective in the limited space of a scout!).
All the weapons refer to ship-class weaponry, perhaps ×20 that of their ground equivalent. Where a weapon is listed it is a weapon system, typically a multi-barrel turret giving that effect. Spinal systems indicate the individual spinal systems installed, typically very heavy weapons.
Missiles are generally salvoes of light or heavy missiles, but could include survey or messenger drones (perhaps best seen as loitering munitions) and ‘spikes’ (low-intelligence, solid impactors). Missiles, spikes and drones are large, perhaps 10-25m long, so few are carried. The Algoryn MSD and Implosion Slugs are mass-sensitive disruption warheads, effectively almost-solid projectiles thrown at extremely high velocity and with a field in the warhead that collapses space around itself on impact (similar to their ground mag-launched ordnance).
XCM = X-ordnance Counter-Measures. This is what a 21st-century Earthling might consider ECM but which covers a much wider range of targeting measures.
Algoryn Starship Design
The Algoryn technology is not as advanced as that of the IMTel nations. Further, they have doctrinal approaches that specifically liimit their use of overly-advanced and complex technology. This tends to mean a bias towards mag weaponry and missiles, and a co-committant reliance on a solid logistics chain to keep their ships in ammunition supplies where local manufacturing (via fabricators) is not readily available. To lessen this dependency, as well as to make up for inferior shields and reduced acceleration compared with the IMTel and Freeborn, their ships are solidly built.
It’s worth reiterating the summary from the previous article as well as the overview of Algoryn GA drive capabilities:
[Algoryn] ships often have a spinal mag weapon which can launch a salvo of mass-sensitive disruption warheads (MSDs) in rapid succession or missiles. The MSDs automatically cause a penetratig impact if they hit. Other weapons include ship-scale mag cannon of all types [and x-rail/mag area defence weapon systems]. Their heavier ships are often accompanied by area defence frigates to cope with IMTel drones and Ghar ‘quantum gravity’ (QG) weapons, and also carry well-trained AI marines who can act in damage-repair parties. In general, their ships are slightly larger than IMTel ships of nominally the same class.
|GA drive |
We’ll have a look at how this works in practice by running through some Algoryn ship designs.
Representive Ship Class Stats
These are just a few of the better-known Algoryn military ship classes. It’s worth noting that the ‘Marine’ numbers already have their own barracks allocated: the extensive passenger suites can be converted to barracks to carry more troops.
|Type:||Patrol Frigate||Defence Frigate||Scout-Corvette||System Cruiser|
|Fire Control:||Acc 5||Acc 5||Acc 5||Acc 5|
|X-Rail: MSD & |
|X-Rail: MSD & |
|Launch Rails: Light Missiles||Heavy X-Rails: Implosion Slugs, Heavy Missiles|
|3×Mag Cannon||2×Mag Cannon||2×Light Mag Cannon||3×HeavyMag Cannon|
|2×Light Mag Cannon||1×Light Mag Cannon||–||2×Mag Cannon|
|–||–||–||2×Light Mag Cannon|
|2×Mag ADS||4×Mag ADS||2×Mag ADS||4×Mag ADS|
|XCM:||-1 Acc||-2 Acc||-1 Acc||-1 Acc|
|Notes:||2×passenger suites||–||Small; crew skimmer||4×passenger |
The Dagger class frigates are a staple of the Algoryn military and can be seen across the Prosperate. The Dagger has solid offensive capabilities and is intended to face down a raider, Freeborn trading frigate or even an Isorian frigate, but also provide a solid marine force for local troubleshooting. It is said there is one, at least, in every member system of the Prosperate – and the ships are often named after the system they protect or the optimate moch to which they belong or which sponsors their senior crew. The basic frame has been extended into a number of specialist variants. Sample ships: Dagger of Essvahn, Dagger of Eretahd.
One of the Dagger variants is the Targe class defence frigate. This came about due to the Ghar propensity towards disruptor bombs, the usage highlighting a weakness in existing designs. Initial variants focused on area defence at a significant cost to offensive capability, but proved too vulnerable to Ghar saturation, so a compromise was reached in the Targe class. Whilst the Targes are able to offer some substantial offensive capability, they do so at the cost of internal space for munitions. There are several Targes in every member system or in systems vulnerable to Ghar incursion and plenty around the Algoryn capitols. Sample ships: Targe of Erivan IV.
Algoryn scout vessels are slightly larger than other factions and are intended to provide ground support should that be required. Though small, the Knife class are no exception and more closely resemble light frigates. Their survey drones are not intelligent or advanced enough to be classed as full drones. Almost all the optimate mochs have several such vessels. Sample ships: Knife of Du’rel, Knife of Rahq.
The Algoryn-crewed Sword class system cruisers are the heaviest ships normally seen in an around the Prosperate. They are most frequently found in capitol systems and on the borders of Prosperate control near Concord, Senatex and Ghar space. The ships have twin spinal launch systems and can supply a fair number of ground troops as well as packing a mean punch in combat. Its cargo is normally long-term supplies or even transport or liberator combat skimmers for the troops it carries. Whilst it has a passenger capacity, this is most likely to be used for diplomats in transit or for the transportation of AI troops. Sample ships: Sword of Ephra, Sword of Algor.
Our articles continue with the ships of the Concord.