Space Life

The Quantum Flux universe is a human universe. While settlement has expanded to planets thousands of light years away from Earth, no intelligent alien lifeforms have been found. Plenty of alien bacteria and simple plants have been documented and a few planets have thriving eco-systems akin to Earth's in complexity but there are no creatures with language, culture or technology. Some hints suggest that intelligent aliens have existed but certainly nothing as clear-cut as a ruined city or abandoned spacecraft has been found. But space is big, really big, and humanity hasn't even scratched the surface of the Milky Way, let alone the entire universe. In the meantime, humanity has been busy with genetic technology and almost anything imaginable is now possible.

Spacecraft

The technology for running spaceships and moving them immense distances is immensely complex and generally irrelevant to the adventure. However key elements of the space travel, especially relating to the TSN Leopold, are important to the plot of the adventure.

Four spacecraft feature in this adventure. The Oculas is the characters' ship at the start of the adventure but is quickly destroyed. The Oculas's shuttle gives the team a safe haven until they reach the frigate TSN Leopod. Finally there is the corvette Omortson. The larger craft - the Oculas, TSN Leopold and the Omortson - are all capable of faster-than-light travel and have everything need for prolonged voyages. In nautical terms they are ocean-going vessels. The unnamed shuttle craft is capable of travelling around solar systems at high speed (at least compared to present day technology) but cannot go faster than light; nor is it equipped for long journeys. The best comparison is a harbour tug.

All the craft use orbital thrusters and in-system drives but only the three larger ships have Quantum Flux drives.

Quantum Flux Drive

A black hole containment device, the Quantum Flux drive emits a field that pulls the ship into a void known as flux space. Travel through this void is much faster than in normal space and travel times of one light year per hour are routinely achieved. The drive is very delicate. Any strong gravitational force such as a planet or another Quantum Flux drive within 10,000 kilometres will prevent a successful jump to flux space. The drive also provides the main power for the whole ship.

In-System Drive

A fusion / plasma drive which creates a large amount of thrust from relatively tiny amounts of fuel. In high speed courier or racing vessels these can reach 10% of light speed, fast enough to travel from Earth to Jupiter in about seven hours. This also requires top-of-the-range gravity dampers to protect the ship and occupants from the g-forces generated by the acceleration and deceleration. General purpose and more practical vessels such as shuttle craft can reach 5% of light-speed but their acceleration is also slower. Earth to Jupiter is normally a 30 hour trip in a routine spacecraft.

Orbital Thrusters

Orbital thrusters provide the fine control needed for docking and for maintaining a steady orbit. In a ship the size of the TSN Leopold they have to work constantly to maintain its position.

Assyl: Avatar and A.I.

The heart of the TSN Leopold is Assyl, the ship's Artificial Intelligence with its own physical avatar. The A.I. (in theory) has control of the complex and numerous computer systems which keep the ship functioning and its occupants alive. Assyl's avatar is an android which contains enough computing power for the entirety of Assyl's personality and memory systems. The purpose of the avatar is to act as a user-friendly interface between the crew and the A.I. running the ship. It also gives the A.I. an ability to investigate problems beyond the range of its security cameras and sensors.

On the ship the avatar and A.I. are in constant communication and act as a single system. Should the connection be lost the avatar can operate independently, losing access to the ship's main databanks and processing power but continuing to retain its own personality and memories. Protocols in the avatar's programming will direct it towards ensuring its own survival and reconnecting with the computer core as soon as possible.

The avatar is six feet tall and in the shape of a human woman aged 30. It has short black hair made of carbon fibre, kevlar-laced dermal tissue and is clothed in a white jumpsuit. Physical connection to the main A.I. is possible using a complex pattern of connectors along its spine.

The A.I. replaces a lot of the functions traditionally performed by a human crew, including complex decision making. It will act independently to protect the ship and though it lacks the insight to match the abilities of a truly first class crew, it is the equivalent of a competent captain and crew. One down side to the A.I. system is that it consumes a large amount of power and when power is limited is given priority over nearly all other ship's systems except life support.

Power: Sources & Usage

The power needed by the many different systems on a space craft, such as life support, computer systems and scanners, is provided by its Quantum Flux drive. For shuttles and other sub-light speed craft there are fusion reactors and batteries, but their power is extremely limited both in quantity and time. The same technology provides emergency power for larger ships when the Quantum Flux drive is offline. A ship with its life support and nearly everything else shut down can remain functional for decades. However, emergency power cannot support all the ship's systems, even briefly, nor can it maintain the basics such as life support for longer than about 48 hours. For example, the TSN Leopold cannot drive its in-system engines on emergency power nor can it simultaneously power life support, the artificial intelligence system and the orbital thrusters. These facts will become critical as the adventure develops.

Gravity Dampers

The dampers have two roles onboard spaceships. Most importantly they provide to crew and ship protection from the extreme forces produced by the in-system and Quantum Flux drives. As a secondary function they provide an artificial gravity for the ship's crew. This use of the gravity dampers is so trivial an extension of their vital main function that almost no craft lacks gravity control.

Safety & Security

Spaceships are dangerous places even when they are working properly. The massive amounts of energy in their drives, depressurisation and fire are constant hazards. Consequently there are safety systems on top of safety systems backed up by monitoring and security systems to prevent accidents and sabotage.

At various points the characters will find themselves wishing to circumvent or override systems on the ships. This is known as hacking but it may take any form, ranging from computer skills or electronic wizardry to brute force. The character must supply suitable technobabble and support it with appropriate advantages. The game lends itself to a cinematic style of play and it is recommended that Game Leaders take a relaxed approached to scientific and engineering realism.

Challenges

The difficulty level of hacking security and ship systems depends on the danger they would pose to the ship and crew if misused. For simplicity they are classed as low, moderate and high risk. For low risk, low security systems (eg most internal doors) the resistance is 2d6+0 or a fixed score of 7. Moderate systems such as airlocks have a resistance or 4d6+0 or 14. For high security ship-critical systems such as bulkhead doors it is 6d6+0 or 21.

Low risk systems can be disabled with each attempt taking a full round action. Moderate systems take a whole scene and high risk systems take a session. Characters can take longer or shorter lengths of time but the resistance is increased or decreased accordingly (see Time Scales in the 6d6 Core). Hacking may also be attempted as an extended action in which case the fixed resistance (7, 14 or 21) is the target score and each action has a resistance of half the number of dice (1d6+0, 2d6+0 or 3d6+0). Each action in the extended action takes a round, a scene or a session depending on the system's risk level.

Command Override

On the TSN Leopold there is an official way to defeat safety and security systems. The Captain, First Officer, Chief Engineer and Chief Medical Officer each possesses a keycard which can override standard safety and security protocols. Inserted into a door lock or console the card can override safety and security systems though the event is registered by the ship's computer system. Low and moderate risk systems require one keycard but high security systems require two. Using a keycard just requires an action but under the pressures of combat inserting the card and selecting menu options can suddenly become more difficult and require an action beating a resistance of 4. High risk systems needing two keycards require an action for each card. Command override may be ineffective on hacked or modified systems.

Green Light, Red Light

All doors on spacecraft have control panels indicating their status and what is on the other side of the door. No one wants to accidentally open a door into a vacuum or contaminated atmosphere. A green light indicates the door may be opened and the atmospheric conditions are the same on both sides. If there is a difference or a fault in the door a red light shows and the door will not open without command overrides or hacking. Airlocks and other moderate or high risk doors have additional controls giving more details on the atmospheric conditions and the ability to pressurise / depressurise as needed.

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open/oneshots/quantumflux/avatars_engines_and_codes.txt · Last modified: 2014/08/13 14:41 by darth_tigger
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