Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New Series in the Works: Hard Star

Howdy, RocketFans!  As promised, I have been working on a new article series to entertain, enlighten and en-something else my faithful followers.  When I originally made the announcement, I had an idea of developing a setting that used wormhole travel to connect neighboring star systems and how that would work economically, socially, and politically.

Then I discovered Diaspora...

Not only was my original concept covered in the Diaspora RPG, it is elegantly covered.  This game has everything - literally, in a series of mini-games that cover traditional, and social combat, war game-style mass combat, and even an abstract system for realistic space combat. And the universe VSCA publishing made to hold all that awesome is so inspiring that I bow to superior game design.

Not one to reinvent the wheel, I held off on making the Next Big Thing until I had a more unique idea.  A few days or so later, our good friend Winchell Chung of Atomic Rockets, posted an article showing some of the earliest concept art from Star Wars - so early that it was still called "Starkiller".  From this article, I was vouchsafed a vision:
Pictured: Love at first sight.
What struck me about the above image is that the spacecraft (The earliest depiction of a Star Destroyer) is designed with the narrow end aft. It looks for all the world like an atomic rocket, which by necessity must fit it's entire mass in the shadow of the reactor shield.  The dishes are obviously laser installations, and there are hangers....

My brain turned on.  All unbidden, designs began to emerge.  It could be done - realistic design for a Star Destroyer, with similar crew compliments, number of carried craft, and mission capabilities.  I could do this - I could make a Hard SF Star Destroyer.

Then I thought, "What about the other starships in Star Wars?"

So what emerged from these fevered dreamings is the subject of our next series of blog posts: Hard Star: A realistic re-telling of the Saga, with spacecraft designs, nano-fics, and character and spacecraft sheets for the Diaspora RPG.  It should be pretty exciting.  Expect the first installment later this week.

Here's a preview:
Behold! The Imperator System Control Craft

Coming up next will be the first installment: The Death's Head


  1. Hard-SF Star Wars. Now that's unexpected.
    I am very, very curious to see where this will go.

    Do you intend to concentrate on ships, or will you also talk about what the events would be?

    It may or may not be relevant with your project here, but it somehow struck me recently that some of Star Wars (and let's limit ourselves to the original trilogy) can be explained with a different set of physics.
    In particular:

    - Speed of light is faster and celestial bodies may be smaller (KSP-sized, for example). This explains how it is possible to navigate from one star system to another without hyperspace (explicitly staying below light speed) in a matter of days.

    - Smaller celestial bodies also explain causal interplanetary without starships being world-busting WMDs on their own right. And playing with proportions, you get the Thick Asteroid Field (as it doesn't seem to be a protostar disk, a possible real-life sort-of counterpart).

    - Gravity may also work differently (maybe only a change in G is needed without messing with the formula itself) and/or the values of inertia and mass, also helping with causal interplanetary travel.
    Changes in inertia may also explain why there are so few kinetic weapons.
    (I have yet to explain Ewok bows without neutronium-like or naturally atom-thin tips, though. But I have yet to explain Ewoks at all anyway.)

    - Among all the cascading changes there are, it makes planets with a way lower gravitational binding force. They also probably pack enough internal energy to put them close to equilibrium.
    So what you need to blow one up like a balloon is a big, big needle instead of enough heat to vaporise it all.
    (I wouldn't be surprised if the Death Star beam also acts as an Asimov-like nuclear intensifier, turning the internal slowly-decaying fissile material into a suddenly decayed fission product and lots of bonus energy.)

    - And of course, by some quirk of physics, vacuum actually acts like a fluid, making spaceships not need radiators (heat is conducted away, also why a recently-destroyed planet leaves a field of cold asteroids), use aerodynamic forces and make big burning fireballs when destroying instead of instantly dissipating away.

  2. Better yet, you can completely justify s-foils on the x-wings and other craft as using heat radiators but storing them for atmospheric flight! (something I've been working on)

  3. I've often wondered if vacuum is totally empty in the SW universe....


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