Weapon Lore & Roles

The next major release is going to let you create custom ship loadouts. These include picking from a large variety of weapons – 47 and counting, as of this writing. But if you’re going to pick weapons intelligently, you need to know what they do.

Weapon Lore

Cold, hard numbers are great when you’re comparing the finer points, but for an initial “just what is this” moment, you need a description. Therefore our resident lore master, Ivaylo, has been working night and day (or so he tells me) writing them. I thought I’d share a couple.

Heavy Machine Gun
Primary role: point defense
Mount size: medium

A workhorse of patrol craft across the sector, this weapons system features a reliable, centuries-old blowback firing mechanism. Safety features include a positive cook-off safety for open bolt clearing and double ram prevention. The weapon is typically mounted on a relatively heavy base to help absorb recoil during prolonged bursts of fire.  Calibers vary, but are usually in the 17-20mm range. The heavier projectiles do not shatter upon impact like lighter ammunition and present a credible threat to frigate-class vessels. Extremely accurate, though slower-firing than a vulcan cannon.

Sabot SRM (Short Range Missile)
Primary role: close support
Mount size: small

Sabot-class class missiles are short-range, two-stage KE weapons. A guided missile first stage projects a secondary assembly to within striking distance of a shielded target. A targeting computer then ignites the propellant for the KE penetrator. This “sabot,” as it is commonly called, is typically a narrow, laterally stabilized projectile manufactured from an ultra dense material such as depleted infernium.  Excellent at bringing down enemy shields and causing an overload. Standard ship armor is spaced and thus the damage the sabot causes is largely contained if it gets through the shields.

“Mjolnir” Micro-singularity Cannon
Primary role: assault
Mount size: large
A very advanced design, the Mjolnir is technically a magneto-gravitic shell projector, not a standard cannon. The micro capacitors within each shell are able to deliver enough energy to create a localized singularity with a Schwarzschild radius of 1.8 millimeters. The built-in gravitic lens devastates all nearby matter, especially dense objects.

Weapon Roles

A key bit of information when checking out a new weapon is its primary role. Most weapons are useful in a variety of situations, but the primary role reflects the weapon’s intended design and ideal circumstances for its use.

Assault
The weapon has a high damage output, but limited range. Assault weapons are usually good on well-armored ships that can afford to take a beating to dish one out – or on faster ships that are hard to hit.

Close Support
The weapon has a good range (generally, up to 2x that of assault weapons), but is limited in some way – overall damage output, ammunition, rate of fire, etc. Depending on the specific limitations, close support weapons excel in many situations ranging from harassment to delivering a killing blow against an exposed enemy.

Point Defense
The weapon has a sophisticated targeting system that allows it to automatically target enemy missiles. Other common characteristics (such as a high turret slew rate) make point defense weapons good against fighters as well.

There are several other roles – strike and fire support, to name two – but I’ll let you guess what they are. The first person to guess correctly wins a prize, which is the satisfaction of being the first to guess correctly and winning a prize.

The State Of Affairs

The Now is what the ancients would call “year 3126.” We do not call it that anymore. It is pointless to cite large numbers that remind us how far we had come, and how far we have fallen. Since we do not even know where Old Earth is anymore, and cannot reach it – we use a new way of telling time, the sector cycle. In our sector of space, it is cycle 206.

Not much is known about the ancient past. What we know is what survivors recorded or told us. They described a vast galactic nation – the Domain of Man. Spanning hundreds of thousands of worlds in the Milky Way, ruled by the Ecumenical Benevolent Council, with its seat at Old Earth… It is told that one could travel the stars in the blink of an eye through gates constructed by the men of the Domain. Resources were nearly limitless, growth was not bound. Our sector was relatively new on the scene. Some worlds in it had only been settled for 20 or so cycles before the great calamity. The populations of the planets in our sector were still giddy with the initial excitement that every new venture brings. The sector was truly a heaven that we can now only dream of, hoping we go to a place like it when we die.

No one knows for sure what caused the end of this paradise. The records and stories only tell us bits and pieces. Exactly 206 cycles ago, all gates in our sector went dead at once. All communication links to the Domain were severed. Initially, there was no great disturbance in the daily lives of the colonists, it was assumed the gates would be reopened by the Domain, and communications reestablished. So they waited. But the gates were silent.

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Spotlight: Fighters, Part 1

A wing of fighters moving into attack formation is quite possibly the most evocative visual in sci-fi. Examples proving this thesis abound – two of the Star Wars movies end with battles that have fighters playing a central role. Or, consider Battlestar Galactica – on the surface, it’s about what it means to be human, and isn’t a great example – but if you dig deeper, it becomes obvious that it’s really all about how cool the human-cylon dogfights are. Star Trek, on the other hand, does not use fighters often, but just imagine how much cooler it would be if it did! Well, we’re not going to make that mistake with Starfarer – rest assured that fighters will be featured prominently. Some lore on the subject:

In the years after the great war, fighters became commonly used throughout the sector. With the decline in industrial capacity, producing a capable military ship was a significant undertaking. Fighters, on the other hand, could be produced cheaply using a coded blueprint at an automated factory.

Now, some basics. Fighter wings are first-class citizens – they’re members of your fleet, like all your other ships. Early in development, fighters were launched from carriers (being weapons, in a sense), but it became clear this limited fighters to being used only in battles that directly involved carriers, and that just wouldn’t do.  We’d miss out on all this:

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Spotlight: Outfitting the Onslaught

There are many ships to choose from in Starfarer (19 and counting), but let’s take a closer look at one of the true powerhouses, the Onslaught-class battleship. First, a little background:

The Onslaught is a hulking behemoth bristling with guns, a remnant from ages gone by. Very few are manufactured presently due to the incredible industrial capacity required, and most of the vessels now in service predate the great war. It is a great irony that many surivived the war because they were obsoleted by new designs, but with the technological setbacks wrought by the war, the situation is now reversed. The Onslaught once again finds itself in a dominant role on the battlefield.

The Onslaught wouldn’t live up to its name without a varied arsenal. A quick aside – there are 3 types of weapons (ballistic, energy, and missile) and three different weapon sizes (small, medium, large). Ship hulls have slots of different types and sizes, and various weapons can be fitted in those. To fit, a weapon has to match the type of the slot, and be the same size or smaller.

But enough talk, let’s take a first-hand look at the ship.

without any weapons

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