I've been working on another house rules system for Warships
, and one of the options I'm adding in deals with heat. While I'm working on it and before its posted, I wanted to get some feedback from the community here.
As a quick little side note first, let me give a rundown of the supplement.
First, I'm incorporating the scaling system
I had mentioned before. I happen to like the way it worked out with larger hulls.
Second, I'm spinning PL6 ships & systems off into their own section. Given that they use different scales for hexes and time frames, I think pulling them out will give better results.
Third, I'm adding new systems derived from the original PL6 equipment seen in Warships, mostly to take into account technological development. I would think that systems such the basic crew bunkroom would likely have grav-couches for PL6, which are unnecessary for PL7 and opens up more room for personnel and supplies.
Fourth (and final), I'm adding in my idea for fuel quality in reactors
, allowing for longer fuel life but at higher refueling costs. However, I'm thinking that I should keep it simple, and just stipulate that all reactors where fuel quality can matter are just set up to handle the different qualities, and what becomes variable is the amount of time between refuelings.
Okay, onto the main topic for this thread, specifically an optional rule for heat generation on spacecraft. Here are the basic points.Creating Heat
In reality, the creation of heat on a spacecraft is pretty complicated, because pretty much everything creates heat, from the engines to the computers to the crew and passengers. Worse, everything creates different amounts of heat, so the actual total amounts could be pretty complicated to add up.
With that said, I'm wanting to keep this simple. For that, I think the amount of power a ship's power plant is generating can be used to determine the amount of heat the ship is generating in an even 1-to-1 ratio. If a ship is generating 10 PP, they are also generating 10 points of heat. I'm using that because I don't see most ships keeping unneeded systems powered unless they are (or planning to) use them. There isn't much need for a ship to keep its weapons powered up when it is cruising so fast through a system that they can't be effectively used. And, since they don't need to keep such equipment powered, there is little reason to either keep a reactor operating at maximum power or to keep a reactor powered up when it is just generating unneeded power.
So, for a summary, the amount of power generated by a ship is the amount of heat the ship generates in points.Dumping Heat Through the Hull
The only current way to dump the heat generated by a ship in space is through radiating it into space. That's pretty straight forward, and pretty much everyone around here knows that, so I won't go any further depth on the science.
However, one thing I will say is that, under this system, spacecraft can dump heat through their hulls. All materials radiate heat, though at different levels. To keep this simple, I'm thinking that all ships can dump 1/10th of their own HP in heat per round, rounded down (PL6 and PL7 scales don't matter for this). So, for example, a fighter can dump 1 heat point, a destroyer 16 heat points, and a fortress ship 1200 heat points.
The amount of heat that can be dumped by the ship can basically be considered the budget for the ship. If you stay at or below this number, the ship isn't overheating and suffers no ill effects. If you start going over this number, the ship starts to heat up and begins running into problems.The Effects of Heat
Again, I'm wanting to keep this simple. Rather than come up with a whole new scale for the effects of heat, I'm going to piggyback on other aspects of Warships
First is the Heat Track. This is identical to the damage track for a ship. It has 4 categories equal to the ship's corresponding stun/wound/mortal/critical points. When a ship begins to over produce heat, the ship begins to lose points at the rate of heat generation, starting under the stun column. So, if a ship has 10/10/5/2 as a heat track, and it begins generating 2 points of heat more than it can dump, it starts losing these points at a rate of 2 points per round. The first column would be used in 5 rounds, the second in another 5 rounds, the third in about 2.5 rounds, and the last in 1 round.
The actual effects depend on the column. I'm thinking that as each column is filled, an additional +1 step penalty is added the ship's systems. This takes into account various problems that come with overheating. Sensor systems lose resolution, weapons become less effective (barrels warp, accelerators lose efficiency, focusing crystals warp and expand beyond optimal, etc), computers lose data processing rates, and so on and so forth. Additionally, after each column is filled, the GM rolls for a random system failure in the ship. Since heat generation is not going to be evenly distributed, a random failure of a system works well for me.
Once the ship is out of heat points, the points begin to accrue as actual damage points. Also, the temperature of the ship begins to increase, increasing by one point on the GRAPH scale. For example, a human ship has a H2 (Temperate) rating on the GRAPH scale. Once it is out of heat points, it is now an H3 (Torrid) rating (temp range of 50 to 100 C, so hot enough that water could start to boil). That also means that the crew has to start making exposure checks once every minute (if they can don soft e-suits, that is reduced to once every ten minutes, and hard e-suits provide complete protection).Dumping Heat Later
After a ship has begun overheating, it can dump waste heat at a later time (so long as it doesn't suffer too badly). This can be accomplished by shutting down the power plant as much as possible and letting the ship radiate into space. A ship will lose heat points at a rate equal to however many points below its normal limit through radiation.
For example, a destroyer accrues 15 heat points during a battle. Afterward, it shuts down its systems and reduces its power to just 13 points. The ship naturally dumps 16 points per round. Since it is only producing 13 power points, it only generates 13 heat points, and it can thus radiate 3 additional heat points per round. At that rate, the destroy can dump all of its excess heat in 5 rounds (2.5 minutes at PL7 scale, 25 minutes at PL6 scale).
As a ship dumps its excess heat, the effects of it are reversed. The only exception is if the ship started taking actual damage (ie it filled up its entire heat track and started adding to its damage track). That has to be repaired normally.Radiators & Heat Sinks
Finally, there are going to be some new systems added under the option. These can be grouped under two categories, radiators and heat sinks.
Radiators are systems that are designed to radiate more heat into space than what the ship's hull already provides. These are pretty common on modern, real spacecraft, and are used in later PL's as well.
Heat sinks are systems designed to collect and store excess heat for later radiation. You can think of them as working in the same way as the ablative shield's capacitors.
Both of these new system groups are intended to provide a ship with a way of getting rid of excess heat. Given the fact that I'm introducing this with the scaling system, this is rather important for larger vessels. If you go look at the samples I posted, the smallest scaled ship I developed generated more power than its normal counterpart in less space, all while its systems demanded more power to function. As a result, larger vessels can suddenly find themselves overheating very easily. I will say, though, that radiators and heat sinks can also be scaled, so that can help.
I can also see using the tech tracks to come up with additional radiators and heat sinks. The energy compiler under PL8 energy transformation tech can be used as a basis for a PL8 heat sink that transforms heat energy into usable power. I can also see super-materials that more efficiently store and/or radiate heat.
So, are there any thoughts to this rule? This post has been edited by cobalt_phoenix on Dec 31 2017, 22:23