Alienation

Player’s Handbook

 

Copyright 2018 by M.E. Brines – all rights reserved.
Last update Oct 18, 2018. Changes from the previous edition are in red.

How Do I Play Alienation?

Alienation is a play-by-e-mail game in which players control an alien civilization in a hypothetical galaxy. Players send their orders for the turn to the Game Master (GM) by the weekly turn deadline. He carries out the orders, adjudicates combat, notifies players of their discoveries producing for them a custom map of explored space and an detailed economic report on their civilization.

The game system is open-ended and allows players to try almost anything. (Whether it works is another matter and open to the GM’s interpretation.) If you want to attempt something not covered in these rules, consult the GM.

If you contact the GM please mention which position you play. There are a lot of players and it’s hard to keep track of which address goes with which player, especially when your message might come from your work address.

The game is free… but it does consume a great deal of the referee's time and energy. Rather than charge each player a turn processing fee, a freewill donation is encouraged. World of Warcraft charges $14.95 a month for a handful of characters while Alienations lets you control an entire civilization and maybe conquer the universe. How much is that worth to you?

Donations can be made with a check or money order to: Mike Brines, 1253 S. 30th Street, Mesa, AZ, 85204

Use a credit card via Pay Pal @ https://www.paypal.com/

How Do I join this game?

Just send the Game Master a short description or recent history of your civilization at son@cox.net. Your starting position will be based on that. But please, no energy beings. Every race needs water and oxygen to live and prefers earth-like planets. Otherwise there won’t be any interaction.

You begin with firearms, industrial technology, chemical rockets and three other technologies of your choice. If you want to be a space-faring race and travel to other worlds you will need hyperspace jump technology and one of the following four combinations:

Nuclear weapons plus Orion nuclear pulse drive –or—

Nuclear weapons plus atomic rockets –or—

Lasers and Bifrost Bridge technology –or—

Tractor/repulsor beam and anti-gravity technologies,

Now go forth and explore, expand into, and exploit the galaxy!

FAQs

How do I submit my orders for the turn?

How do I avoid revolt?

How do I develop my economy?

How do I increase my technology?

How do I design new ships?

How do I build a fleet?

How do I explore?

How do I establish a colony?

How do I make an attack?

How do I engage in diplomacy?

How do I send foreign aid?

How does trade work?

How does the hyperspace jump drive work?

How do I submit my orders for the turn?

The Game Master (GM) will send you an e-mail with your economic report. Attached to that as a separate file will be a text document, your turn packet. These two items give you everything you need to play. Think of the turn packet as your character sheet. Please follow the guidelines below so the GM can understand what you want to do each turn.

Look at the economic report first. It takes up the bulk of the e-mail. It lists your total Standard Production, which is the total amount of goods and services produced by your civilization in a turn. Special Production includes things like automated factories or other non-standard production. You probably don't have any of that either, although a hive mind or robotic AI civilization might. Popularity is how your people see their government. Shipyard capacity is the amount of production (of whatever type) you can use to build spacecraft, probably nothing at the beginning of the game. Negative popularity can result in revolt or revolution.

Your Accumulated Culture is the relative level of cultural development of your civilization. It represents things like achievements in art, music, theater, literature, cuisine, manners, morals and scholarly pursuits. This changes every turn based on your actions. It modifies diplomatic efforts you undertake with NPCs and increases the benefit of trade with alien civilizations. Keeping your government spending low or providing subsidies puts resources into the hands of your people they can devote to cultural pursuits. This increases your cultural rating. Races with little or no individual initiative aren’t going to have much culture.

Merchant shipping represents the space transport available to civilians in your civilization. It’s used by the free market (not you) to explore, colonize, and develop other worlds.

Open the turn packet file. It lists your contact information, the turn number, the technology you’ve mastered, ship classes you’ve designed (if any) and your military forces. There may also be a separate map of explored space for your civilization. You use these to formulate a plan and submit your orders for the turn. Take your packet and follow along as we examine all the different parts.

GM Notes are notes from the Game Master to you. Don’t put questions to the GM here. Send those directly either as separate messages or in your orders below.

Under this is listed the technologies you’ve mastered. Again, these are in the nature of reports from the GM. Don't change these. If you want to make notes about development or track your spending, do it down below your orders.

Ship classes is where you list your ship designs.

Fleets shows your armed forces. Modify this as needed. If you move ships around, send them on missions or build new ones, go ahead and make the changes right on your packet so “Fleets” shows the current situation accurately. For every fleet, be sure to list its mission type, the location (usually the world the mission they’re on involves) the number and class of all the ships, plus any other equipment assigned: space fighters, ground troops, space marines, etc. When you’re done, be sure to add up the total ratings of all the ships and ground forces in the fleet and list that at the end. <See the ship design rules for a list of ratings and how to calculate them.>

Fleet missions include security, exploration, attack, defend, building, and repair. A fleet can only do one mission each turn, but you can split it into different fleets to undertake separate missions. Just make the changes on your fleet list.

Security missions are military forces assigned to suppress revolt. (Martial law) These forces are dispersed patrolling against piracy, customs violations, manning roadblocks, checking papers, etc. They won’t fight and don’t count for defense. It’s assumed they’re dispersed to man roadblocks and “show the flag.”

Exploration can be assigned to head in a particular direction (up on the map is “galactic north”) or they’ll just head generally outward beyond your frontier. Just assign the ships you want to use for this. For exploration, it’s the number of ships that are important, not their size or armaments.

Attacks should be listed individually. List the word attack, followed by the target world, then the forces you use. You can follow this up with more specific orders if you like. Ground forces and ships that lack jump drives (space fighters, cutters, shuttlecraft, etc.) can’t attack unless they are transported somehow to the enemy world. For ground forces this means ships with cargo capacity, one per unit. If the world is not class-H you can only use units that can operate in hostile environments.

Defend orders should begin with defend, followed by the world they’re defending—which must be either a world with one of your bases or a world adjacent to one with a base—and then all the ships and units assigned. You do not need to provide transport for ground units assigned to defend. (They might have remained there from a previous turn or been dropped off by transports before they headed off for an attack.) However, if the world is not class-H you can only use units that can operate in hostile environments.

Building is the mission for ships that you just bought. They can’t fight and must be located at the world the shipyard building them is located.

Repair is a mission for damaged ships. If ships are damaged in battle they can’t be used until they are repaired by spending a turn at a shipyard and allocating production equal to the amount of damage. This counts against your shipyard capacity and you can’t repair more damage at a world than its shipyard capacity.

Players cannot attack, explore, defend, or colonize worlds that aren’t adjacent on the map to a world with a base they control. To establish a base on a world you must either establish a colony or gain control of production there through diplomacy or an attack. The base must be able to trace a line of communication through adjacent worlds on the map with bases back to your capital world, which is the highest production world you control, generally your home world. If worlds become “out of communication” with your capital, they become independent.

For more details see How do I attack? Or how do I explore?

Production is where you get to buy stuff. On line one copy your total standard production off the economic report.

On line two, decide on a tax rate. How much of that production do you want to grab for your own purposes? If you’re not sure, you can just skip down and issue all the orders you want, and then figure out how much they’ll cost and use that to figure the tax rate. The higher your tax rate, the more unrest your civilization will experience.

Your budget is line one times the tax rate divided by 100.

Resources lists any resources received from alien civilizations or saved from the previous turn. The GM will provide you this. Add resources to your budget plus your total special production off your economic report to get your….

Modified budget equals your budget plus saved resources plus your total special production off your economic report. Special production is a catchall for every weird, non-standard type of production: robotic industry, a hive mind’s worker caste, etc. Your modified budget is the total production you can spend this turn. You can’t spend more than that for all the various projects you do this turn. Also, you can’t spend more building spacecraft than your total shipyard capacity.

Orders are listed beneath here. You can issue orders to attempt anything. (Whether it’s practical or possible is another matter.) You can build spacecraft, organize new military units, research a scientific project, build shipyards or industry, colonize other planets, baffle your people with propaganda, provide social programs, trade with alien civilizations, grant them foreign aid or anything else you can think of. If you have questions, consult the GM.

List your orders by putting the amount of production you’re spending on it first, followed by what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Write as much or as little as it takes to explain, just keep each project to its own paragraph. Allocating production isn’t necessarily required for an order. It depends what you’re trying to do. Just keep in mind these four rules:

You can’t spend more than your modified budget.

You can’t spend more on ships and repairs than you have shipbuilding capacity.

If you build a ship go back to “fleets” and add it to a fleet with a “building” mission or else start a new fleet. The turn you build ships you cannot assign them to any mission except building.

You can’t spend more on colonizing new worlds or building up the production of existing off-world colonies than the total amount of cargo capacity you also assign to the same task. Every $1 in spending has to be transported by a ship with a cargo hold, one hold per $1 sent to that same world this turn as part of an “attack” order. Investing in your capital world requires no transport.

For example, possible projects might include...

$10,000 on Law & Order to maintain the peace (Space Rangers!)

$10,000 on Secret Police informants to prevent revolts on Ceti Alpha VI.

$48,000 for a Food Allowance for the poor.

$0 to issue a proclamation for a Day of Rejoicing. Everyone will thank the Maker for his beneficence and mercy. Those who refuse will be executed so they can take their complaints directly to Him.

$6,800 to colonize Betelgeuse. [The player would also list in his fleets ships with 6,800 cargo capacity at that world]

$7,000 for a new library for the University of Kingsford [Presumably located on the world named Kingsford—otherwise tell the GM where it is]

$3,700 for resources for the Klingons. [An alien civilization]

$200,000 to increase home world shipyard capacity (this would also increase production there.)

$100 to build ten more Transport-class ships [The player would then immediately add the new ships to his fleets in whatever location they were built, although he couldn’t use them for an mission this turn except building. Remember also that the total spent on all ships cannot exceed your total shipyard capacity.]

$500 to organize five hundred more infantry units [The player would then immediately add the new troops to fleets in whatever location they were built]

$500 to research fusion gun technology. [This would also increase production.]

If you want to save production for later you spend it on “resources” and cash those in on a later turn.

The Free Market

Whatever standard production you don’t tax and spend becomes the Free Market. Production left to the free market generates economic growth, scientific research, merchant shipping, and culture, although you have no control on how it’s spent.

Whenever you’re happy with your orders, at or before the deadline, send an e-mail message to the GM. For subject put “<the name of your alien race> packet.” Attach your filled out turn packet and send to son@cox.net.

If your orders change before the deadline, revise the packet, attach it to a new message to the GM using subject “Revised <your alien race’s name here> packet” and send.

That’s all there is to it, but if you have questions about anything, feel free to ask the GM. 

How do I avoid revolt?

The bad news is people hate taxes. So whatever taxed production you allocate is going to lower popularity on one of more of your worlds. Any world with negative popularity that isn’t dealt with when your orders are processed by the GM will suffer revolt. Propaganda, and social programs, increase popularity by the amount you spend. Funding secret police coercion or putting fleets on internal security missions increase popularity by their total combat ratings (everything but cargo) plus a tenth of the firepower of any ground troops, but if attacked they will withdraw to “regroup” since forces assigned to internal security are too scattered to offer effective resistance. Coercion doesn't really make you popular and won't increase popularity above zero but it removes the incentive to revolt.

How do I develop my economy?

You can colonize, build industry or do research. Increasing shipyard production also increases total production.  Investing in your home world has a typical 10% return. Investing in class-M colonies has a 20% return while those with hostile environments is half that. Any world rich in resources has a double rate of return.

Or if you’re more of a Libertarian, you can leave a lot of production in the hands of the Free Market. Whatever you leave gets you a typical six and two-thirds percent return as the people try to better themselves and their families.

Trade with alien civilizations can also provide additional culture, merchant shipping, and production. To trade you must share a common border with them and issue orders to allow trade. If both of you trade you both benefit but only to the extent of the lower of the two cultural ratings.

How do I increase my technology?

Technologies limit what equipment you can produce and what sort of abilities your civilization has. Some technologies require another technology before you can research them.

Players begin with firearms, industrialization, chemical rockets, and a few other technologies. To develop a new one, pick something out of the tech examples or get with the GM if you don’t see what you want. You’re not limited to what’s listed. Then just issue orders to research it. You can research multiple projects at once but your progress will be slower.

Research programs complete a percentage of their program based on the growth of the economy each turn and the difficulty of the program. Establishing colonies, subsidizing industry and conquering alien colonies all increase your R&D. You can allocate production on research or scientific projects to increase the amount of R&D you earn. The GM will apply the R&D among your various projects. When a project reaches 100% you gain that technology/

The free market engages in research too. Players have no control over what sort of projects the market might research.

Technologies

Technologies are listed alphabetically with their any technology required to research them in parenthesis. Those marked by an asterisk* are considered easy. Entries lists equipment and ship’s systems you can buy if you have that technology. This list is not exclusive. If you don’t see something you want, get with the GM.

Anagathics* (requires nanobots) Anti-aging treatments that make those who can afford them virtually immortal.

Androids* (brain taping & robots) Robots with implanted human personalities allow unlimited colonization of hostile environment worlds with special production.

Anti-gravity (tractor/repulsor beams) allows anti-gravity ship engines and the research of fighters. Shuttle bay ship system allows the ship to unload cargo/personnel onto a world without landing the entire ship. (Shuttle bays include a shuttle craft.)

Antimatter* (shields required) allows research into the Q-bomb, photon torpedoes, and plasma torpedoes. Gun and missile warheads now do catastrophic damage. Allows research into Heisenberg compensators, particle projection cannon, ion cannon, and phasers.

Aphrodisiac* is a recreational sex drug designed to decrease unrest among your population. Allows you to fund a social program, the “orgy porgy.” In addition, before calculating rebellion, your culture rating drops but cancels ten unrest for every point it drops.

Artificial Intelligence (Brain taping)  Artificial intelligence makes computers self-aware. With robot technology creates self-aware robots allowing investment in special production with no limits. With point defense systems allows Bolos (or Orges), allows purchase of massive robot-controlled tanks costing $8 each.

Atomic rockets (requires nuclear weapons) is an improvement over chemical rockets.

Bifrost Bridge (Lasers required) uses high energy lasers to boost shuttles into orbit. A Bifrost bridge installation can be constructed on a world at a cost of 1000 production transported there as cargo. They also defend against enemy orbital bombardments and invasions like 200 ship lasers. (Any laser system powerful enough to boost a shuttle into orbit is going to be hell on anything else in orbit they want to shoot.)

Bio-weapon* requires contact with the target race. Once developed, the major cost is dissemination in the initial attack. The weapon has a virulence equal to one tenth of the production allocated to disseminate it and does production damage each turn equal to its virulence until a cure is found and disseminated.

Black Hole Generator (requires ion cannon, particle beam or phaser) A ship’s system with beam rating of eight. If used for planetary bombardment, the world is destroyed, becoming a black hole.

Boarding Sleds* (Anti-gravity) Cost $2 each and take up a hangar bay like a fighter. Allow marines to attempt boarding enemy ships that do not have shields. Like a missile attack that does ½ damage except target ships are captured, not damaged.

Brain Taping is the ability to record and store a sentient mind on a computer. With cloning or android technology, a brain tape can be uploaded to the body making the taped personality essentially immortal. Allows research into artificial intelligence.

Chemical rockets (Industrial technology required) allows construction of spacecraft shipyards and research into sand casters. Space probes can be sent to explore nearby worlds at a cost of $1 each. Missile ship systems have a missile rating of one. Cargo hold ship systems have cargo ratings of one. A science lab is a ship’s system that aids in exploration. Ships with chemical rocket engines can only liftoff from worlds of class-A or B or those with a Birfrost Bridge or able to produce rocket boosters to get them back into orbit. (Chemical rocket technology and at least $400 in production.) Otherwise if you land, the ship must be scrapped.

Clone tanks (brain taping) allows mass production of clone stormtrooper units at a cost of $4 each. Allows genetic engineering.

Cloud City* (Anti-gravity required) allows colonization of gas giants.

Coil gun An electromagnetic gun ship system with a gun rating of two.

Combat Drug* boosts the fighting power of your ground troops to a fatal extent. When your forces are dosed, they perish in combat but destroy enemy forces equal to their firepower. Just make a note in your mission orders which units get dosed.

Cryogenic Capsules allow freezing of passengers and thawing them out again later. Useful for long journeys and for storing troublemakers. As a ship’s system they provide a cargo rating of two.

Cure* for a plague. To be effective a cure must be disseminated at a cost of ten times the plague’s virulence.

Death ray (Brain taping required) A ship’s system with a beam rating of four that erases target minds, leaving the bodies intact, but quite dead. Allows development of the neuron bomb.

Disintegrator* (Heisenberg compensators) Disintegrator ship systems have beam weapon ratings of five.

Disruptor bolt (fusion power) a ship’s weapon system with a beam rating of four.

Fighters* (Anti-gravity required) Space Fighters are too small to mount jump drives or shields. Speed is considered their protection. They can be engaged by missile defense and repulsor beams. They can’t travel by themselves between worlds but a Hangar Bay ship system can transport, support and launch up to five. Fighters typically are armed with missiles or other weapons. They cost $2 each, don’t require shipyards to produce, and have a combat rating of one with whatever weapon you arm them, usually smaller versions of ship weapons.

Firearms allows purchase of infantry units at a cost of $1 each. Gun ship systems have gun ratings of one.

Fusion power (nuclear weapons) allows research into Heisenberg compensators, particle projection cannon, ion cannon, and phasers.

Gauss cannon are electromagnetic cannon ship systems with a gun rating of two.

Genetic Engineering (clone tanks required) allows fundamental changes in a race’s physical makeup as a separate research program at one-fifth the usual rate.

Gravatic lance (tractor beams) a ship’s weapon system with beam rating of four.

Heavy tanks (Industrial technology) Heavy tanks are heavier armored, up gunned versions of the standard battle tank unit costing $4 each.

Heisenberg compensators (require antimatter or fusion) allow research into disintergrators and matter transporters.

Hyperspace jump technology allows spacecraft to “jump” through hyperspace to worlds not in your home star system.

Industrial technology allows production of tank units, aircraft units and planetary defense batteries (PDB) for $2 each. Point defense ship systems have missile defense ratings of one.

Ion Cannon (fusion or antimatter power) ship system has a beam rating of four.

Kinetic Penetrator* (Chemical rocket required) also known as Project Thor, theserods from God” if carried in place of ground troops, allow cargo bays not used for other purposes (not cargo rating, cargo bay systems) to count as one catastrophic damage each when calculating orbital bombardment damage. Make a note in your orders how many cargo worth of rods you’re using in place of ground units.

Laser ship systems have laser ratings of two. Allows research into Bifrost Bridge and light sabers.

Light Sabers / Laser swords* (require laser technology) provide melee weapons for elite troops.

Machine shop [aka bioadaptive ships/mother ships/repair ships/mobile shipyards etc.] Ship system that produces $1 of standard production and counts as a shipyard. Players will have to tract this separately and add it to their total standard production when calculating production.

Matter transporter/replicator (Heisenberg compensators) ship systems allow the crew to load/unload cargo and crew onto a world they orbit without having to land. Replicators and transporters are very expensive to use and have high power consumption. They do not replace standard production facilities for most purposes.

Mind Control is a drug or treatment that eliminates societal unrest and independent thought from a world you control. All production there is reduced by a third, becoming “special.”

Mines* (Nuclear weapons and lasers required) Typically pumpable x-ray lasers or very large fusion bombs, mines are laid in orbit around friendly worlds to protect them from bombardment and invasion. Small and employing passive sensors until they attack, they’re difficult to tell from satellites or space debris.

MIRV warheads (Chemical rockets) Improved missile system with missile rating of two.

Mobile Infantry (Anti-gravity required) armored battlesuits for Starship Troopers, ground units costing $4 that can fight in hostile environments.

Nanobots (Industrial robots required) Nanobots are tiny robots used for medical purposes. (You probably don’t want to make them self-replicating or you’ve invented a nano-plague.) Allows research into anagathics.

Neuron Bomb (death ray required) erase minds in the target area. When used in place of ground troops (make a note in your orders) neuron bombs allow cargo bays not used for other purposes (not cargo rating, cargo bay systems) to count as 8 catastrophic damage each when calculating orbital bombardment damage. Make a note in your orders how many cargo worth of bombs you’re using in place of ground units.

Nuclear weapons increases the damage of missiles in combat.

Orion Nuclear Pulse Drive (requires nuclear weapons) Ships built with nuclear pulse drives must have at least ten systems due to the required size of the pusher plate. Miniaturization of atomic weapons allows increases in damage by gun ship’s systems to catastrophic.

Particle Projection Cannon (antimatter or fusion power) ship system has a beam rating of four.

Phasers (antimatter or fusion power required) Phaser weapon ship systems have beam ratings of four.

Photon torpedo* (anti-matter required) ship system with beam rating of five.

Planetary Shields* (Shields required) allow construction of planetary shield generators at a cost of $2 for every +1 shield rating. In the event of bombardment, planetary shields resist damage up to their rating. The world cannot be invaded until the shield generators are destroyed.

Plasma torpedo* (anti-matter required) ship system with beam rating of five.

Point Defense System* (Firearms required) a rapid-fire projectile weapon linked to sensors to stop incoming missiles. Is also effective against space fighters. A ship’s system with missile defense rating of one.

Power gun an energy weapon powered by special cartridges triggered by an electrical charge. As a ship’s system a power gun isn’t considered an actual “gun” and has a beam rating of two. With point defense system technology, a tri-barrel ship’s system provides a missile defense rating of two.

Powered Armor (firearms & industrial technologies required) Infantry units costing $2 each wearing armored battle suits equipped with heavy weapons. Mecha cost $4, are like powered armor but larger, armed and equipped like a tank moving on legs rather than tracks. Both can fight in hostile environments.

Q-bomb (antimatter technology required) Also known as an Omega bomb or planet cracker, bombardment with a Q-bomb destroys an entire planet, turning it into a class-A asteroid field. 

Rail guns are electromagnetic gun ship systems with a gun rating of two.

Robot technology allows investment in automated “special” production at a cost of 150% normal, up to the amount of standard production on the same world but automated production does not generate unrest. Battledroids are robot infantry units costing $2 each.

Sand Casters* (Chemical rockets) A defensive ship system firing short-range rockets with “sand” warheads. The sand is dispersed by explosive and helps protect against missile attacks and fighters. Has a defense rating of one.

Shields (Tractor/repulsor beam technology required) An electromagnetic shield protecting a ship from attack that can only be overloaded by more energy than the ship can generate to power the shield. Each shield generator ship system provides a shield rating of four. Allows research into antimatter.

Soylent Green* is an artificial food source made from flavored algae for high population worlds. (That’s the official story and I’m sticking with it.)

Star Gate (hyperspace jump technology) Allows construction of star gates at a cost of $64 each but can’t spend more building them than your naquadah production capacity. Every world with a star gate is connected to every other world with a star gate for cargo purposes.

Terraforming transforms a particular hostile environment world you control into a class-H planet. Each terraforming project is treated as a separate “research” project that transforms the target world into a class-H when completed.

Tractor/repulsor beams are useful in asteroid mining and rescue work and allow research into anti-gravity and shields. As a ship’s system they have a tractor rating of two and can be used to deflect enemy missiles and gunfire.

How do I design new ships?

Ships come in two types: spacecraft and jump-capable ships. Spacecraft with chemical rocket, anti-gravity, Orion pulse, or atomic rocket technology and can travel through space to worlds located in your home star system. Ships with a jump drive (hyperspace jump technology) can travel to worlds in other star systems.

To create a new ship design, first give it a class designation. You can only design ships with engines and systems you already have the technology for. Indicate the engine type (chemical rocket, atomic, Orion pulse, or anti-gravity.) Ships without a J-drive should be indicated as such and you probably don’t want to build these unless you simply don’t have jump technology.

Then figure out the systems you want the ship to have. The necessary engines, fuel, life support, and crew quarters are included as part of whatever other systems are installed. The more systems, the larger your engines and crew but their size and cost is already factored into the systems.

To complete the design, total up the ship’s ratings. Ratings are how good the ship performs different functions. Ratings include missiles, (missile) defense, lasers, tractor, guns, beams, shields, cargo, and cost. Cost is always $10 per system. Other ratings depend on the systems installed. You only need to list ratings above zero. If the ship has no jump drive it gains a “rating” of No Jump.

Ground forces, while not technically ships, are listed with ships in fleets. Their only rating is “firepower.”

When you design a ship class list it on your packet under technology. Starting with the class name, list all the systems and then the ratings. When you list ships in your fleets, all you need is the class type, quantity and ratings.

Ship design examples:

An unarmed Transport-class vessel with an anti-gravity drive and one cargo hold would be: Transport-class Cargo 1, $10.

A PT-class missile boat with chemical rockets and no jump drive, a single missile tube and no defenses (like a space version of a PT boat) = PT-class No Jump, Missile 1, $10.

A Kongo-class battle cruiser with an Orion pulse drive, 100 phasers, and 100 shield generators would be: Kongo-class Beams 400, Shields 400, $2,000.

A Fletcher-class destroyer with chemical rockets, a plasma torpedo and no defenses would be: Fletcher-class beams 5, $10.

A Patrol-class cruiser with atomic rockets, 5 gun turrets and a missile tube is Patrol-class Missile 1, Guns 5, $60.

How do I build a fleet?

A fleet usually consists of one or more ships, but can include ground forces, too. Like everything else, you can build ships or ground force equipment as long as you have the technology for whatever it is you want and the production to allocate to make it. While with ground forces you can typically buy as much equipment as your production allows, for ships you’re limited by your shipyard capacity. You can’t spend more in any turn on shipbuilding and repairs than your shipyard capacity.

You can’t use ships you build for missions on the same turn you build them. All you can do is assign them to a “fleet” in whatever location the shipyard they’re built at is located and assign that fleet to “Training.” Go ahead and make the change on your packet. Ground forces can’t attack the same turn you recruit them.

Unless the fleets have different missions, do not list multiple fleets in the same location with the same mission. Combine all ships in the same location with the same mission into a single fleet.

When you list a fleet be sure to list the total ratings of all the ships and ground forces involved. The firepower of a ground unit is equal to its cost.

How do I build space stations, star bases and orbital weapon platforms?

The same way you build a ship except they cost half as much—only $5 per system. They still count against shipyard production but you place them in a specific location (usually orbiting a particular world) and they can’t move. List them as a “fleet” that can only defend or provide internal security for that one place.

How do I explore?

Assign a fleet to explore. You can assign an exploring fleet to a direction. “Up” on the map would be galactic “north” for this purpose. For exploration the number of ships is more important than their size, and firepower only matters if you end up in a fight. Your exploring vessels may survey many different star systems but you’ll only receive a detailed report on the primary world in that region. This will be the most valuable/interesting world. Typically there are a lot of uninhabitable, barren, uninteresting rocks out there, too many to bother with, so for game purposes most are ignored.

Worlds have a class depending on their type and usefulness.

Class-A worlds are asteroids or planetoids, lacking an atmosphere and with low gravity. Ceres is an example.

Class-B worlds are small barren planets with little or no atmosphere and low gravity. Mercury is an example.

Class-C worlds are larger than class-B with an unbreatable atmosphere, such as Titan.

Class-D desert worlds have a breathable atmosphere but water is scarce or non-existent. Dune’s Arrakis would be an example.

Class-F worlds have a dense atmosphere. Venus is an example.

Class-G worlds are gas giants like Jupiter or Neptune. Their gravity is too high to land on and they can only be colonized with cloud cities.

Class-H worlds are habitable with a breathable atmosphere and water similar to your home world with indigenous plant and animal life. They may or may not have a native civilization.

Other things you might encounter include black holes, voids, nebulae, protostars, pulsars, and novae. Voids represent regions of space lacking star systems.

As a result of exploration you might want to make a world off-limits for free market development, perhaps to preserve and study its primitive civilization or because of some hazard. This is called establishing a red zone and may require a fleet to enforce.

How do I establish a colony?

Colonizing a world you control requires landing colonists and their equipment there. Every $1 spent on establishing a new colony or building up an existing one requires one cargo rating to get it there. Transporting colonists is done using a fleet with attack orders for that world. Any ground forces assigned to that fleet reduce the cargo rating available for colonists. Subsequent missions to build up the same colony will also require transport.

How do I make an attack?

You can only assign a fleet to attack a world that is adjacent to a world you have a base on. A world is considered adjacent to another if an imaginary line drawn between the two names of those worlds on the map doesn't pass closer to another world's name en route. If it does you’ll have to capture that world first before you can reach the next one. You may bring ground troops to invade the planet up to the total cargo rating of your fleet, but if the world isn’t class-H the ground units must be able to operate in hostile environments.

Ship Combat

The GM compares the both fleets’ ratings, keeping track of the damage inflicted at each step and applying the damage at the end of all calculations. Damage comes in two varieties: regular and catastrophic. With regular damage a ship is destroyed when it receives damage equal to its cost. Partially damaged ships can’t be used until the turn following their repair by allocating $1 of shipyard production per point of damage. Catastrophic damage destroys the entire ship.

Step one: Missiles—One side’s missile rating minus the other’s defense rating gives the damage suffered. Laser and tractor ratings also act as missile defense if necessary but can’t be further used in the same battle. Missiles with nuclear or anti-matter warheads do catastrophic damage.

Step two: Lasers—any unused laser weapons inflict their rating in damage.

Step three: Guns—subtract the other side’s unused tractor rating from any gun attacks and apply the balance as damage. Guns with nuclear shells do catastrophic damage.

Step four: Beam Weapons inflict their rating in damage.

Step five: Shields—Subtract the target’s shield rating from catastrophic damage first, then regular.

Step six: Damage—any remaining damage is applied, regular first, then catastrophic. Typically the smaller “screening” ships are targeted to be picked off first, otherwise they take catastrophic damage ahead of larger ships. Unarmed transports and carriers are selected last for damage, as they are typically screened by the other warships.

Victory—Unless the defending side is entirely eliminated, the attacker has failed and must withdraw. If the attack is successful, the aggressor can then bombard the planet and land troops.

Step seven: Space mines—inflict 1 damage per mine exploded as the enemy fleet moves into orbit.

Step eight: Planetary bombardment—any excess damage from step six beyond what was needed to destroy the defending fleet is inflicted on the world’s garrison. Defending Bifrost Bridges fire.

Step nine: Invasion—Transports and drop ships land ground units, which then engage in ground combat with surviving defending forces.

Ground Combat

Ground units’ cost directly relates to their firepower. The defender triples his. Both sides compare their firepower totals to determine a ratio. The larger force has their loss rate (10%) divided by the ratio, the smaller force has theirs multiplied. The loss rate percentage is the percentage of units lost by each side. The GM selects smaller firepower units first. The attacker must sweep the field to capture the world. If he fails, he only captures a portion equal to the original ratio between his firepower and the enemy’s.

How do I engage in diplomacy?

“Diplomacy is the art of saying nice doggy until you can find a rock.” – Will Rodgers.

There’s a diplomatic list of players and the civilization they run. If you want to talk to them, please do so directly, using the listed address. Non-player civilizations (NPCs) are alien civilizations run by the GM. To engage in diplomacy with NPCs contact the GM.

You may reach all the players as a group by posting on the newsgroup. This is good for making announcements, comments, and general chitchat. Avoid profanity when posting to the newsgroup. Some of the players are underage and the rest of us don’t want to read that garbage.

How do I send foreign aid?

You MUST have a common border with a player to send them anything or to cede territory.

Foreign aid consists of resources, ships, equipment or territory. Foreign aid transfers CANNOT be made conditional. If you make a deal to sell somebody a ship or a world for a set amount of resources, the GM will not check to see if the other player paid you the correct amount before transferring control. Enforcement of any “deals” are up to the players involved.

To send resources, record the amount as “foreign aid” in the civilian orders section. Be sure to list the recipient. They won’t be able to spend it until next turn.

To send equipment, just list it along with the recipient as foreign aid on your packet.

To cede control of territory put “Cede” then the name of the world and the recipient. The cessation occurs at the end of the turn so if you lose control before then the world won’t be ceded. It has to be a world adjacent to territory the recipient already controls.

You cannot give others a technology. You may give them ships or equipment that uses a technology they don’t have. The recipient may then use that equipment normally even if they don’t understand how it works. They also might be able to do research to reverse-engineer it and gain that technology later.

How does trade work?

Unless you specify otherwise alien worlds not under your control but with which you share a common border are considered under quarantine with no trade or other contacts allowed. You may work out a deal to open trade through negotiations. Once you open trade both of you gain a benefit to your free market each turn equal to the lesser of your two cultures. However, even with multiple trade partners, you can’t get a greater benefit from trade each turn than your culture.

How does the hyperspace jump drive work?

The hyperspace jump drive is a special grid of rare earth elements woven into the hull and connected to a generator inside the ship. Pumping massive amounts of power into the grid activates it. This slips the ship into an alternate dimension. Locations in that dimension correspond to locations in our own, but the distances between them there are vastly shorter. The ship then moves to a pre-calculated location in that universe, deactivates the drive and pops back into our own universe again, having “moved” a great distance. In this way Einstein’s light speed limit is never violated. The ship moves multiple light-years in a matter of days but never actually travels faster than light.

Within hyperspace the ship’s crew cannot see or communicate with our universe. To adjust course requires them to drop into our dimension to take a navigational sighting. Upon entering hyperspace the ship’s momentum is preserved, and it is swifter, if the course is already familiar, to enter “hyperspace” already moving and proceed on the same course for a pre-determined time until the desired destination in our universe is reached. A capable pilot will make only one jump and arrive as close to his intended destination as safely possible. This is generally considered to be no closer than 100 diameters to the target world, both to account for possible errors but also to avoid satellites and other orbital debris. Materializing in the same location as something else results in the catastrophic destruction of both objects. Ships typically avoid entering or leaving hyperspace inside a gravity well as it considerably complicates course calculations.

Only objects contained within the jump grid can enter hyperspace, and they will only remain there as long as the grid is energized. If the power fails, the ship immediately returns to our dimension. This can have unfortunate effects if it occurs inside another object or too close to a star. Partial failure of the grid itself is also catastrophic.

Because an object must be contained within the grid to enter hyperspace, anything carried by the ship into hyperspace must be entirely contained within the ship’s hull. You can’t just “strap on” a jump drive or push objects into hyperspace.

Hyperspace itself is largely unexplored beyond surveyed “safe” courses between explored worlds. Sensors (and senses) are distorted outside the jump field, making combat and communication impossible. Since anything that leaves the jump field returns to our universe, the actual conditions in hyperspace are unknown. There are hazards, as some ships that enter hyperspace re-emerge in our universe as debris or vanish without a trace. But it is unknown if this is due to hostile action or merely the result of accidents.

Jump-capable ships are typically equipped with anti-gravity thrusters that use energy to reverse the effect of gravity, allowing the ship to obtain thrust by pushing away from celestial objects. These usually rely on nuclear reactors for power, since solar panels are unreliable in hyperspace. Older ships may employ ion drives or even chemical or nuclear rockets. In any case, even with jump drive the range of ships is limited by the amount of supplies they can carry. Lack of supply will slow an advance as much or more than fierce opposition. This makes the control of strategic bases a necessary prerequisite for deployment of spacecraft for any lengthy journey, whether for exploration or military purposes. It is generally impossible for ships of significant size or number to penetrate too far from a base from which they can re-supply, especially if they face opposition. Most space combat occurs around such bases, which once captured, provide a base for further advance. While there may be thousands (or more) of other worlds in the general area, without inhabitants, or more importantly the infrastructure those inhabitants have built in the course of colonizing that world, those other worlds are useless. A barren airless rock provides no food or fuel or air, and no facilities for repairs better than the crew of the ship could have managed themselves in deep space.