14.0.0 Weather & Terrain Effects

Fire On The Suns has a variety of special weather and terrain on its Sector maps. Most of this weather and terrain is destructive or at least damaging if ships fly through them at warp speeds. The following is a brief description of some of the weather and terrain and its effects on ships running through it. Terrain and weather is generally applicable only when a ship flies through the terrain or weather at FTL speeds or when it is fighting in or around the terrain at real space speeds.

 

Planets:

No abbreviation. A planet will be the one of the most common type of terrain encountered by players. Planets are much less than 1 tactical hex in size. Impact with a planet is instantly fatal to any ship, gunboat, or fighter (and usually has severe effects upon the planet as well), but is also virtually impossible to accomplish. Any ship entering the same hex as a planet at any speed higher than 1 hex per turn has the option to bypass the planet or impact it, at will. Any ship entering a hex with a planet at speed of 1 hex per turn or more has the option of bypassing the planet or entering orbit. If it enters orbit, it immediately stops moving through any other tactical hex.

 

Planets also do not offer cover for starships unless they are in orbit. Fighters and gunboats may operate from surface bases on planets and planets may provide cover for fighters and gunboats on the surface of the planet. For all practical purposes, the term planet and gas giant are synonymous with each other.

 

Asteroid Fields :

Asteroid fields (AST) are another common terrain on the Sector map. Asteroid fields are large expanses of open space punctuated by large amounts of rocky debris, some of it quite large. Asteroid fields may be hazardous to travel through at high speeds for starships.

 

Ships moving through an area designated as an asteroid field should roll on the following table for the results,

 

Asteroid Field Effects:

Die Roll Result

1-40         No effect

41-60       Ship forced to reduce speed by 1 hex/turn to avoid impacts

61-70       Ship forced to reduce speed by 2 hexes/turn to avoid impacts

71-80       Ship forced to reduce speed by 4 hexes/turn to avoid impacts

81-90       Full emergency deceleration by 8 hexes/turn to avoid impacts

91-100     Beam or torpedo weapons must be fired to avoid immediate impact. If the unit cannot fire (due to critical hits or ammunition depletion), it takes damage equal to its current movement against shields & hull.*

 

* If a ship has cannot fire its weapons, the problem becomes critical and the ship must come to a complete halt to avoid damage or take it on the shields/hull.

 

Comets & Cometary Tails:

No abbreviation. A terrain feature never encountered on the Sector map, comets are very large collections of ice, rock, and exotic gasses that travel on extremely long paths from the outer fringes of a solar system to the inner areas, looping around a star as they pass. A comet, as it nears a star on its long journey, begins to melt and give off gas and other material that streams out behind it in a long cometary tail. This tail almost always points directly away from the star the comet is nearing as it is blown by the star's solar wind.

 

Comets are typically very large, but most of what we interpret as a comet is actually the comet's tail. The head or nucleus of a comet is usually quite small, but is surrounded by a layer of gas, dust, and other debris called the coma that can be tens of thousands of kilometers thick. The comet's tail, consisting primarily of gas and dust often stretches away from the comet for millions and even hundreds of millions of kilometers.

 

For the purposes of players in tactical games, a comet consists of 2 parts. The head which occupies only a very small portion of 1 tactical hex and which is essentially solid, and the tail which stretches out behind the comet in a 30 degree cone that is 2 tactical hexes (216 million km).

The comet's tail is also considered terrain, but is not solid, being composed of trillions of dust particles of one micron or less in size and oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen gas ions.

 

The tail blocks line of sight, and degrades beam weapons fire to short-range only. It also prohibits ships from speeds above 4 hexes/turn and ships may not accelerate through a comet tail.

 

Radiation Zones :

Radiation zones (RAD) are typically found in deep space or very near active stars such as variables and flare stars. Radiation zones can also be found quite near to any normal star, but not near enough to make a difference on the grand tactical scale.

 

The crews of ships suffer most from radiation, but ship electronics can also be seriously affected if a ship loses its shields (or doesn't have them repaired yet). Any ship without shields that passes through a radiation zone will suffer 2 immediate effects. The first of these is 5% crew casualties. The other, and more significant (perhaps) is a random critical hit due to the scrambling of electronics and other systems.

 

Each week of the turn that a ship remains in a radiation zone without its shields it will suffer another 5% crew casualties and another random critical hit.

 

Fighters that enter radiation zones are instantly destroyed.

Weapons operate normally within radiation zones (subject to critical hit results, of course).

 

Nebulae:

Nebulae (NEB) are immense clouds of highly charged and ionized gas and dust. Nebulae are often light years in size (i.e. a nebula would encompass an entire tactical game map unless the players were on the very outer edges - some nebulae might even encompass an entire strategic map being thousands of light years across!). Nebulae are also quite often the birthplaces of stars and may have been formed by the death (by nova or supernova) of another star. Due to this, nebulae often harbor radiation zones and asteroid fields in addition to other nastiness.

 

A nebula has several immediate effects upon starships, gunboats, and fighters. The first effect is that shields will not operate within the confines of a nebula. The next effect is that all weapons ranges drop to short range only due to the lack of information for the targeting computers. ECM cloaking systems will not work in a nebula, although psionic-based cloaking devices will. Transporters are limited to ranges of less than 1 tactical hex.

 

Nebulae can also have the effects of asteroid fields and radiation zones in addition to their normal effects. Nebulae prohibit ship speeds in the same manner as comet tails.

 

Ring Debris Fields :

No abbreviation. Typically found around gas giants, ring debris fields are the remains of unformed or broken-apart satellites of that planet. They are circular, completely fill a hex, and are usually very wide (Saturn's ring system, for example, would be 1 tactical hex wide immediately surrounding the planet). Ring debris fields act as narrow asteroid fields.

 

Stars:

Probably the most common type of terrain effect encountered on the Sector map, stars (O, B, A, Adw, F, G, K, M, MSg, Mg, MFl, MVa) are typically extremely large and are surrounded by radiation zones that extend some distance away from the star. The Earth's sun (Sol) would have a diameter of 5 tactical hexes and would be surrounded by a radiation zone that extended for another 5 hexes in all directions. Much more massive stars exist (Betelgeuse, a red supergiant (MSg) star, for example would have a diameter of at least 500 hexes and its radiation zone would probably spread out another 500 hexes from its surface).

Impact with a star's surface is instantly fatal to any starship, gunboat, or fighter.

 

Stars are often associated with other types of terrain such as planets, radiation zones, asteroid fields, gas giants, even blackholes.

Planets are usually located quite some distance from the surface of the star. For example, Mercury, the closest planet in our solar system would be 191 hexes from the sun on average while Venus would orbit at 358 hexes from the sun, and Earth would be at 494 hexes from the sun.

 

Wormholes:

Wormholes (WRM) are gravimetric quantum gateways to somewhere else in the universe. Most of them go somewhere a long, long ways away.

Physically, a wormhole resembles a star without the ongoing fusion process. A typical wormhole would be approximately the same size as the sun (i.e. 5 tactical hexes in diameter plus another 5-hex radius radiation zone) and would be of a layered construction. The first 5 hexes would be a radiation zone of the same size and intensity as the sun. The next 4 hexes would be an area of intense gravimetric disturbance.

Anything entering a wormhole would receive 1d10 points of damage from gravimetric waves each turn it remained in the area. The center hex is the actual gateway through the wormhole. Anything entering the center hex is automatically and virtually instantly transported to the other end of the wormhole.

 

Entry into or exit from a wormhole scrambles all systems onboard a starship for 1 tactical turn (i.e. a ship's shields, weapons, and other systems are automatically down for 1 round of combat). Fortunately, ships are thrown 1d10 tactical hexes in a random direction outside of the wormhole's radiation zone (i.e. 1d10+10 hexes from the center of the wormhole).

 

Fighters cannot enter a wormhole. The radiation zone would instantly kill the pilot.

 

Gunboats enter wormholes at their own risk.

 

Blackholes & Stellar Hypermasses:

Blackholes (known as stellar hypermasses in Europe) (HYP) are also called quantum singularities. By themselves blackholes are extremely small (so small that some might not even exist in a physically-describable manner), but they are surrounded by much more noticeable effects such as radiation zones, asteroid fields, nebulae, magnetic storms, and gravimetric storms. In fact, all of these effects could easily coincide in the vicinity of a blackhole.

 

Typically, a blackhole and its immediate environs might be 500 tactical hexes in diameter and the terrain would consist of several layers. The outermost layer of perhaps 100 hexes would consist of a debris field something like the universe's worst asteroid field. All of this debris would be spiraling steadily down into the mouth of the hole that is a single hex directly at the center. Long before a ship could get there, however, it would have been torn apart by other stuff.

 

The next layer of 100 hexes would be a radiation zone so intense that it would be instantly fatal to the crew of any ship entering the zone, even were they to enter in a shielded ship.

 

Inside this layer is another layer of 100 hexes that consist of a nightmarish magnetic storm. Here again, any ship entering this zone would be instantly destroyed, its crew killed by waves of magnetic forces sleeting through them and ripping any ferrous atoms out of their bodies.

The next 100 hexes would be the mother of all gravimetric storms. Anything entering this area would be instantly pulped by tremendous shifting waves of gravity reaching out from the center of the hole.

 

The last 99 hexes would be a terrifying combination of all of the previous zones. If, by an act of God, a ship could get to the border of the center hex without being destroyed, the ship would be at the "event horizon", the border beyond which not even light could escape. Beyond this and theory says you could go anywhere in the universe you wanted to go.

A blackhole is not a nice place to visit or anything anybody would want to fight over.

 

Magnetic Storms :

A magnetic storm (MAG) is another relatively common terrain effect on the Sector map. Entering a magnetic storm is dangerous to both ships and crews due to the waves of intense magnetic force and resultant electrical storms within the storm.

 

The first effect encountered by any ship entering a magnetic storm is that its shields will immediately drop due to electromagnetic interference. The second effect will be a random critical hit suffered by each and every ship entering the storm plus 5% crew casualties due to electrical arcing and surges within the hull. The third and final effect will be 1d10 points of damage to the ship's hull due to the waves of magnetic force twisting and battering at the structure of a ship.

 

Each tactical turn that a ship remains within a magnetic storm will result in more of the same.

 

Ion Storms :

Ion storms (ION) are another commonly encountered weather effect on the Sector map. Ion storms are characterized by intense waves of high energy ionized particles sleeting through space at high velocities.

Any ship entering an ion storm will suffer effects similar to a constant bombardment by high-energy particle beam weapons of varying intensities.

 

Ion storms are measured by degrees or levels of Force. A Force 4 storm is 4 times more powerful than an F1 storm. The GM will determine the Force level of an ion storm by rolling 1d12. Each level of Force represent 1d3 which the GM will roll to determine the damage done to each ship entering the storm. Ion storms can vary in intensity so one storm might be more intense one time and less intense the next time it's encountered.

 

Gravitic Storms :

Gravitic storms (GRV) are areas of intense gravimetric activity experienced as wave after wave of gravimetric force battering against a ship's shields and hull. Any ship entering a gravitic storm will receive 1d10 points of damage against its shields and hull until it is battered to pieces.

 

Pulsars:

Pulsars (PUL) are neutron stars (stars which have exploded in novae and then shrunk back to incredibly dense objects) which are spinning. The rotation is often measured in dozens or even hundreds or thousands of revolutions per second. The combination of extremely dense matter combined with residual radiation from the dead star, radiation, and gravity sets up a spinning pulse of radiation that can be measured.

 

Any ship entering the vicinity of a pulsar will suffer the same effects as if it had entered a radiation zone each tactical turn that it remains in the area.

 

Neutron Stars :

A neutron star (NEU) is the remains of a star which has exploded in a nova and has then collapsed back to a highly-compressed mass. Neutron stars are characterized by intense gravities and high radiation.

 

Brown Dwarves :

Brown dwarves (BRN) are huge conglomerations of gas and dust which have not accumulated quite enough material to generate quite enough gravity to compress quite enough for fusion reactions to begin and a star to be born. Essentially, brown dwarves are stars which never ignited.

 

Brown dwarves are characterized by large amounts of gas and dust, nebulae, and radiation zones.

 

 

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