Orbs and Mirages: Basic Statistics

   For today, its some of the basic information about Orbs – the primary military vehicles of the core worlds. Trust me, you really don’t want to fight one.

   The Core has some fairly impressive military technology. It’s not the highest to be found – but it works almost everywhere where any kind of modern technology works.

   For any kind of planetary operation, and for most short-range space operations, the Core Worlds deploy Orbs – the twenty-sixth century equivalent of tanks, fighters, and APC’s.

   The basic structure of an Orb has been covered before: it’s a central armored cabin, wrapped around the primary fusion, force-field, and negative-energy generators, and accompanied by a selection of semi-independent thruster, weapon, and sensor modules linked to it, supported, and maneuvered by force fields. The primary shields – and the negative-energy barrier – are wrapped around the entire collection. The shields constant reconfiguration tends to produce the image of a flying, black, amoeba – and makes it rather difficult to precisely target the central cabin or any of the lesser units. Even when you penetrate the outer shields, you’re fairly likely to miss the actual substructures embedded in them.

   Orbs rely heavily on force fields and negative energy shielding to protect themselves. There are a few advanced models built with super-expensive alloys, or even exotic matter – but the vast majority of are simply built of “duralloy” (so named by the original developer’s marketing department) – a combination of a ferrous-alloy crystal matrix, microfibers, and carbon bucky-balls and -tubes designed to offer an optimum combination of hardness, impact absorption, tensile strength, workability, semiconductor electrical properties (variable depending on fiber orientation, layering, and doping), and (perhaps most importantly) price for a given weight. Duralloy isn’t exactly an “ultimate material” – but its almost impossible to be the lowest bidder in Core for a given set of military-vehicle or industrial specifications without using quite a lot of it or of one of its numerous minor variants.

   Duralloy has hardness-15, against both physical attacks and all known forms of energy other than negative. Combined with a R3 Shielding System, this provides an Orb with a base DR of 27 against both physical and energy attacks, a negative energy “reserve” sufficient to absorb 300 point of damage, and either a 10 or 20-point/round negative energy “recharging” system, capable of compensating for instantaneous accelerations of up to 12 miles/second or – by focusing most of the available compensation on the passenger cabin and more vulnerable components – sustained accelerations of up to 12 gravities.

   Low-level drive is provided in-atmosphere by force-field manipulations and fusion heat, which can provide the equivalent of limbs, wheels/tracks, rotors, vacuum-bubbles (for atmospheric buoyancy), or jet engines as required. High-level drive is provided via fusion thrusters, and – in space – by the usual mach-principle gravatic drive. Unfortunately, while Orbs are capable of deep-space operations, and of traversing jump points, they generally cannot carry the many tons of hydrogen fuel necessary for sustained space accelerations and – while they can recycle air and water indefinitely – can only carry limited amounts of food. Orbs are excellent fighting machines, but you can’t live aboard one for more than a few weeks.

   Very low-level – antipersonnel – weaponry can be provided via force-field manipulations (usually 4d8 physical attacks) and plasma discharges (up to 3d10, 125′ range increment) drawn from the fusion power plant. Higher level weapons include the usual core laser-triggered, shaped-explosion, micro-fusion warheads, lasers and particle beams, and various ballistic weapons (useful against high-level negative energy shields). For space combat and high-level operations, full scale fission, fusion, and antimatter warheads are pretty much required – although such systems are bulky enough to limit the supply of such ordinance which can be carried. Since the weapons systems are entirely modular, the exact mix is hard to predict – however an Orb is invariably capable of battery and volley fire if sufficient weapons are available, gaining either a +4 bonus to hit, hitting affecting a modest radius, or inflicting double normal damage against double any applicable DR (if this option is chosen critical hits obey the usual rules for adding multipliers).

   Standard Orb weapons have a 250′ basic range increment, a +4 bonus To Hit due to advanced targeting systems, and – for anything below the strategic level – enough ammunition not to worry about it. They include:

  • Microfusion Missile: 5d20, affects a 10′ to 40′ radius depending on setting, Crit 20/x2.
  • Heavy Autocannon (Explosive Shells): 3d12 to 5′ Radius, may autofire, Crit 20/x2, bypasses negative energy shields. May autofire, to either get a +4 bonus to hit, to hit 1d4 members of a small group on a successful attack, or to inflict double damage against double any applicable DR (criticals obey normal rules for adding multipliers, normally inflicting x3 damage), at the user’s option.
  • Laser: 2d20, Crit 16-20/x2
  • Particle Beam: 10d6, Crit 20/x2.
  • Mass Driver: 4d12, Crit 20/x2, bypasses negative energy shields.
  • Light Antimatter Projector: 15d6, cannot Critical, dangerous side effects in a notable radius.
  • Heavy Antimatter Projector: 20d6, cannot Critical. dangerous side effects in a wide radius.

   In deep-space and strategic operations, the usual weapons are strategic warheads delivered via missiles (no range modifiers). Such weapons cannot critical, but can inflict energy damage to massive areas. The usual warheads include Fission (25d6), Fusion (30d6), and Antimatter (35d6).

Standard Orb: Gargantuan/15 tons: Str 46, Dex 18 (initiative modifier adds to pilots), BAB +6, additional +6 with Ranged Combat, makes 2 melee or three ranged attacks at full BAB, AC 34 (10 Base + 4 Dex + 12 Force Field + 8 Armor/Openwork Structure, -4 vrs human-sized creatures, also -4 to hit such targets), 250 HP, DR 27/vrs Everything, 300 points of Energy Absorption (recovers either 10 or 20/round), Move 300/Up to 12 gravities acceleration on fusion thrusters, 24 gravities on mach drive, life support, scrambled communications, navigation systems, absorbs full electromagnetic spectrum, carries up to eight passengers, advanced radar / sonar / electromagnetic / chemical sensors (base range of 5 miles), cargo capacity 60 tons (normal operation), 250 tons (half-speed surface operation), self-repairing (rapid-self repair functions already included in HP total, slow self-repair available down to -50 HP). Common Military Programs: Medical +10 (operates via Imps and Remotes), Sensor Scan +10, Military Database +10, Piloting +10, Navigation +10, Security Protocols +20, Encryption/Decryption +10. Force Field Attacks: +24/+24, 4d8+18, Crit 20/x2. Fusion Plasma attacks +16/+16/+16, 3d10 (May battery fire), 120′ range increment, Crit 20/x2. Other weapons as issued.


Singular goes beyond the the technology available in Core in a few major areas:

  • (1): The use of surface layers of programmable “Virtual Atoms” to provide variable surface properties, including the ability to reinforce said surface layers of material by pumping energy into the system. While this technology is usable in Core, it was never developed very far: both force fields and smartfibers proved almost as versatile – and force fields were substantially cheaper. While the “virtual atom” technology is not compatible with force fields and shields (which tend to disrupt the virtual atoms), it can be adjusted on the fly to reflect, partially absorb, or deflect many energies – turning attacks which would otherwise be glancing hits into pure misses.
  • (2): Nanites are marginally viable in Core: there’s nothing inherently impossible about using that level of militarization for an electronic rather than a chemical system – its just that, in core, thermal and quantum effects cause such systems to degrade at an unacceptable rate, which is why core electronic systems stop at the size of a large cluster of cells. In Singular, where the rules are somewhat more forgiving about such matters, reliable nanites can be constructed down to the size of individual cells. Fortunately for residents of Singular visiting Core, the degradation is subtle enough for the unconscious expenditure of a few magic points a day to hold it in check on the internal, personal, level – and most residents of Singular have no other use for magic points in any case.
  • (3): Cellular Replacement is an outgrowth of Singular’s Nanite technology. The Core Worlds can replace organs with mechanical or generically-tailored substitutes, but core micromachines are simply too bulky to replace individual cells in situ. Singular can replace an organizms cellular structure with micro-machines on a cell-by cell basis, and then begin upgrading to mechanical rather than evolved biological mechanisms. While complete cell-by-cell mechanization of a living creature requires massive programming efforts, sophisticated life support while the process is underway, and a highly sophisticated laboratory, in Singular it’s possible.
  • (4): Artificial Intelligence was partially a consequence of an intensive study of the algorithms and neural feedback loops underlying human consciousness, and partially a result of Cellular Replacement – which, when applied to the brain, allowed direct investigation, downloading, and replication of memories and neural patterns. Singular developed functioning technological replicas of human neural architecture and mental patterns – simulations so good that they became capable of hosting a human soul. Eventually, some did – although their scientists were never able to determine why some of their attempts suddenly became “people” while others were always subtly lacking.
  • (5) Microstructural Manipulation is another application of Nanites: most materials are gravely flawed at the molecular level, drastically reducing their strength and durability. While even Singular’s nanotechnology can’t approach the theoretical limits – the accumulating internal micro-flaws of daily stress make it impossible – Singular can produce materials with a basic Hardness of 20 fairly readily, whereas Core technology can only do so using exotic materials or at great expense.
  • (6) Inertial Shielding: In Singular, and in many of the more “obliging” science-fiction realms, a spinning superconductor serves as a gravitational barrier – an effect which allows the construction of mach drive systems somewhat similar to those in use in core. While somewhat inferior, since the shield-configuration cannot be adjusted on the fly to eliminate tidal effects and the effect offers little protection from instantaneous accelerations, the sustained upper capacity is considerably higher – usually around 40 gravities.
  • On the other hand, Singular has no psionics, never discovered the electromagnetic-cosmological interaction which underlies both psionics and force field technologies, and lags substantially behind core in several other areas. No place is perfect.

    The Mirage is comparable to an Orb as modified by Singular tech: It has only DR 20 and no negative-energy or force-field modifiers. On the other hand, its armor class is comparable, its nanite-based self-repair function is faster, and its nanite-based construction has substantially more hit points.


One Response

  1. Nice One.


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