Generating Heat , An optional rule for Warships in Spaceships & Vehicles
cobalt_phoenix Dec 31 2017, 21:49 Group: Heroes, Beyond Level 20 Quote Post
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
uncle_jimbo Dec 31 2017, 22:51 Group: Grid Cop, 5éme Corbin Quote Post
Author (cobalt_phoenix @ Jan 1 2018, 08:49)
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.

I thought at first this might be different from the amount of power the ship's systems are consuming, but I see what you're saying. Currently Warships gameplay has little need to track whether reactors are operating or how much power they're producing, provided it's at least enough for the systems that are powered. This would be more work, but useful for some other reasons, such as stretching out fuel consumption.

Systems produce heat when they use energy at less than perfect efficiency, losing it within the hull as waste rather than converting it to a useful form or transporting it to a useful location (such as a target outside the hull). Thus different systems may produce more or less heat. It may decrease by higher PL, or may increase if the absolute amount of energy passing through is so much more that it overwhelms improvements in efficiency.

Radiation from a star reaching a ship (on one side) impedes cooling and adds incoming heat. This varies by the ship's position in a system and intensity of the primary source.

Ships may be able to dump heat by systems that discard heated gas or beam the energy away in another form (cooling lasers). These are even more easily detectable than a ship using radiative cooling.

This post has been edited by uncle_jimbo on Dec 31 2017, 23:56
cobalt_phoenix Jan 1 2018, 00:28 Group: Heroes, Beyond Level 20 Quote Post
Author
I thought at first this might be different from the amount of power the ship's systems are consuming, but I see what you're saying. Currently Warships gameplay has little need to track whether reactors are operating or how much power they're producing, provided it's at least enough for the systems that are powered. This would be more work, but useful for some other reasons.


Yeah, I'm wanting to keep this simple, and neither Warships nor GMG/Starships actually gets that granular.

My basic premise for this was that a crew would not generate more power than they need under most circumstances. For one, it is a waste of fuel. For another, why bother? If you only need 10 PP for the ship to operate effectively, why not shut down a reactor or two, or back off on the only one you have, and only produce that much power?

I will say that it is likely pretty easy to get at least the 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% marks for any reactor. That is pretty simple math and rounding. I would also say that a ship may be able to boost its effective range by reducing its power output over long periods (even with something like a mass reactor). If you are only generating half the power, you are likely only burning half the fuel, so you should be able to double your time. Again, I would say that would only work when you are talking about days worth of time at such levels, but it should be simple.

So, with all of that under consideration, I figured that it would be easier just to assume that the amount of power being generated by the ship's power plant would be a good standard for how much heat it generates. It also has the benefit of being pretty simple and easy to figure out. A side benefit is that you could use an IR sensor to determine how much power a ship is using at any given moment.


Author
Radiation from a star reaching a ship (on one side) impedes cooling and adds incoming heat. This varies by the ship's position in a system and intensity of the primary source.


Two ideas for this.

First, I don't want to get too far into that. It would vary by the star's class and the distance the ship is from the star. Yes, it is important, and you did point it out, but I'm more than willing of just keeping it easy and saying that at if a ship gets some distance close to a star, it begins adding more heat (or its own radiation ability is reduced by a given amount).

Second, there actually is a system in Warships that would benefit from being close to a star: the solar cell. It converts heat and light into usable power.


Author
Ships may be able to dump heat by systems that discard heated gas or beam the energy away in another form (cooling lasers). These are even more detectable than a ship using radiative cooling.


Oh, I hadn't even touched on what sort of systems I was thinking of for this, but you are on the right track. I was going to introduce a PL7/8 system that used normally non-reactive particles to cool the ship. I was thinking it could be under Matter Coding or Quantum Manipulation. The system basically turns heat into stuff like neutrinos which pass harmlessly out of the hull. There can also be "stealth" heat sinks and radiators at PL6 and above, making it incredibly difficult to spot a ship on IR except from a specific angle at best (think the Normandy from Mass Effect). How about a Gravity Manipulation system that creates a black hole that is used as a heat dump inside the ship? Hell, I'm even thinking of using a Psitech system that relies on cryokinetics to constantly cool the ship's systems.

For more realistic options, how about an armored radiator? It isn't armored against weapons fire, though. Instead, the radiator has armored shutters or plates that protect it when the ship enters an atmosphere. The real-life space shuttle had a similar concept, where the cargo doors had radiators within them, but the outer hull coatings had to be heat resistant for reentry. Hence, it could only radiate when the doors were open, though that was when it was in space and actually needed to.


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