Centaurian Vector (Draft 2)

Introduction

Centaurian Vector is a system for a strategic role-playing game that Dale and Chris started working on long ago. The concept came from a game devised by Dan Abbott that Chris played back in junior high or high school; the roots of that game probably came from BattleTech, MechWarrior, or something like that.

In Centaurian Vector, players take turns trying to build a galactic empire. Players can cooperate, compete, or both as they try to expand and enhance their civilizations.

Note that this document is still heavily under construction.


Basic Assumptions:

  • A player does not control an individual. A player controls an entire civilization. This is a science fiction 4X wargame, not an RPG. Even assassinating the civilization's leader would only cause a momentary disruption in the civilization's advancement.
  • A player does not lose the game easily. It should generally be very difficult to hedge a player out of the game completely, requiring either complete and systematic genocide, or else a massive cultural revolution. Even if one player establishes early dominance, it should generally be possible for the other players to team up against him and beat him down. More likely, the game will end when a specific agreed-upon victory condition is met. Some such victory conditions will be described later on.
  • Your entire civilization is networked. If one Unit is aware of something and able to transmit a message to any other unit, sufficient chain-of-command is in place that the appropriate leader of the appropriate institution of the society at any given time can be made aware of it, and the entire civilization's units can be issued orders to respond in much less than one Fiscal Quarter. This networking is an abstraction, and should not be considered a specific exploitable weakness in and of itself.
  • Many actions of individual units are abstracted away. Optional rules can be implemented to increase the realism of the game and open up more strategic options and paths to victory, at the cost of slowing down the gameplay.
  • Some components of the game are scalable. Optional tweaks can be made to these rules, such as decreasing the number of habitable planets in the galaxy for added realism, adding spacefaring NPC alien races for a more fantastic setting, or making resources more plentiful for a faster game.
  • Society has perfect continuity, until overthrown. If an action takes many years to accomplish, during that time individuals may grow old and retire or die, administrations change, political ideas come and go, funding gets cut and new funding appropriated. For the sake of simplicity, it is assumed that NONE of this affects the actual completion date of the project unless there is a specific rule for it, such as Sabotage or Espionage.
  • Time is measured in Fiscal Quarters rather than years or months to make the game more playable. This results in some granularity issues which may seem to detract from realism. For example, a unit may seem to spend an entire Fiscal Quarter moving only a small fraction of its Movement Rate, or a Construction Unit might spend one Build Point and then sits idle for the rest of the Quarter. If this detracts from your enjoyment of the game, think about how much time we waste in real life. Ever seen a steam shovel parked next to a building, doing nothing? Ever heard about a merger between two companies resulting in loss of productivity for the first few months? Red tape, time off, production delays, scheduling conflicts, and other logistical issues should be thought of as happening in the background whenever there's a minor loss of efficiency caused by the game's rules. These issues should not be discussed or treated as gameplay concepts unless explicitly mentioned in the rules, and players should never be allowed to invent technology that "fixes" these, as this would basically lead to everyone counting time in fractions of a Round.
  • … Except for Combat. Combat, when it occurs, is usually settled in a matter of minutes, hours, or days— much less than one Fiscal Quarter. Ironically, Combat is usually the thing that takes the longest to resolve, IRL.

Terms:

GM

Also called "Galactic Mediator" or simply "Game Master." This is the player who acts as a referee in resolving the actions taken by other players. Since a great deal of the strategy depends on the "fog of war" between players, passing notes to the GM is much more common than in other types of games. The GM must be able to keep track of everything that's going on in all the players' civilizations. Thus it is vitally important to resolve each phase of each Round in order, methodically.

Unit

A person, vehicle, installation, or facility under your civilization's control which is capable of performing actions.

Fiscal Quarter

The basic unit of time in the game. Four Fiscal Quarters are one Galactic Standard Year.

Sector

The basic unit of Space in a game. Although distance between planets is usually measured by the number of Movement Points it would take to get from one Point of Interest to another, space is also divided into Sectors on a grid.

Point of Interest

A star system, space station, black hole, or other celestial body which has a fixed or predictable position relative to Galactic Central, which is of significance to spacefaring civilizations.

Galactic Central

The rotational center of our Milky Way Galaxy. It is easy to detect with a Radio telescope from almost any point in the Galaxy, and is therefore used as the central point of orientation for most modern Star Charts.

Plot a Course

A Unit must Plot a Course before it can move through space. Plotting a Course could take a matter of seconds or a matter of hours depending on available computing power, and is generally a free action. A unit must have operational Sensors and Star Charts to Plot a Course. When you plot a course, you are given an ETA which represents the number of Movement Points you need to expend to get to the destination.

En Route

A Unit that has plotted a course but has not yet arrived at its destination is said to be En Route. During the Explore Phase, all ships currently En Route expend a number of Movement Points equal to their Movement Speed.

Engaged

A Unit becomes Engaged when it starts to perform an action which would occupy it for an entire Fiscal Quarter, such as colonizing a world, constructing a new unit, exploring a newfound planet, researching new technologies, or traversing interstellar distances. A unit that is En Route is not necessarily Engaged in anything. A Skirmish between competing sides can interrupt an Engaged Unit's task. It is impossible to productively Engage in almost anything but Combat while in a War Zone.

Operational

An Operational Unit is ready, willing, and able to perform any Action it is capable of.

Construction

A Unit which has been paid for but is not yet built is said to be Under Construction. Units with the Construction ability can use Ore to build new Units.

Ore

Optimized Rare Earths : The most useful mineral resources of a planet can be mined and processed onsite, creating the easily transportable fundamental building block of all modern technology. When combined with more common minerals at the construction site, an Ore Unit can be used to manufacture almost anything. (OPTIONAL: Alternatively, this could be actual ores and there could be a need to ferry the ores to refineries and from the refineries to their destinations. You could even specify which metals are present on each planet and what alloys are needed to build each Unit. For the sake of speed and ease of gameplay, this is all abstracted away into Ore in the default rules to speed up the gameplay and simplify bookkeeping.)


A Typical Round:

A typical round in CV covers one Fiscal Quarter of game-time. It consists of four phases, with one phase for each of the "Four X's" of classic empire management video games:

  • In the Explore phase, Units move, Civilizations make discoveries, and Players learn more about the Galaxy in which they are operating.
  • In the Exterminate phase, one Civilization's Units attack another Civilization's Units, and the ensuing firefight is resolved. If a fight is going to break out this Fiscal Quarter, it's generally going to be when hostile units first move into range and detect one another. This phase might not happen every Round, or it might happen several times within one Round.
  • In the Expand phase, players claim territory, build new units, and modify their habitat to suit their populations. Since construction generally cannot take place in a war zone, this phase comes after Exterminate.
  • In the Exploit phase, players reap the profits of their civilization, including profits generated by any new units which may have come online during the previous Expand phase.

Each Phase is broken up into several Steps. Every potential action that can be taken by a Unit or a player has a pre-determined spot in this order of operations.

The GM should go around the table, resolving each Step with each player, before moving on to the next Step. In this way, all Units are moved before any player gets scan results, all combat is resolved before any construction starts, and so on. Things are kept orderly and logical and the game can flow.

Explore

  1. Ships currently En Route cover a distance equal to their Move Rate.
  2. An En Route Unit whose ETA has been met or exceeded now arrives at its Destination and is Operational.
  3. TODO Any Research Projects whose Research Time has been met or exceeded now officially become finished Inventions you can build right away.
  4. TODO If you have any spies active in the field, they will now report their findings for this quarter.
  5. Determine whether or not planets and other celestial bodies exist within your civilization's LRS range. (Optional: GM Rolls to determine whether or not you detect cloaked, hidden, or other anomalies in your LRS range.)
  6. If you have a ship is in the same sector as a planet, enemy ship, or other object of interest, you may now thoroughly scan/explore/analyze it. (Optional: GM rolls to determine whether or not you detect extremely well-hidden short-range anomalies.)
  7. If a unit within your civilization is within Weapons Range of another civilization's units and can see them, you now have the option of starting a skirmish. (See EXTERMINATE.)
  8. If a unit within your civilization is within Communications range of another civilization's units, you may engage in diplomacy or trade now.
  9. TODO Diplomacy
  10. TODO Trades
  11. If a unit within your civilization is at the same Destination as another civilization's unit, you may deliver gifts or exchange trade goods now.
  12. TODO If you have any spies in the field, you may issue new orders to them now.
  13. TODO If you have any Researchers not currently Engaged, you may now give the order to research a new technology.
  14. Any units not currently Engaged may Plot a Course to another Sector and begin moving towards it.

Exterminate

  1. Skirmishes can only occur between Units in the same Sector, OR between Units which can reach each other using their Move Rating.
  2. Skirmishes can only begin if one side becomes aware of the other. (Usually this happens during the EXPLORE phase, see above.)
  3. A unit which was Engaged in an activity such as Construction when combat starts can elect to join the fight (if it has weapons) or Evade (if it can move.) If it survives the combat it can resume its former task with no real loss in productivity. However, if it is destroyed, it makes no progress on its task this Round.
  4. The skirmish is played out using one of the COMBAT SYSTEMS detailed below. Generally, the more Units involved in the Skirmish, the simpler the combat ruleset that should be used.
  5. Destroyed Units become Space Junk worth 25% of their initial bulwark rating.
  6. If a destroyed unit contained Ore, 50% of it is converted into Space Junk.
  7. A skirmish is over when all combat-capable units of one side have either been destroyed, surrendered, captured, or escaped. The side with combat units remaining is declared the Victor.
  8. After a skirmish is resolved, the Victor has the option of Capturing or Destroying any remaining non-offensive Units. You must have enough crew available to man Captured ships and vehicles.
  9. Next the Victor can Occupy or Destroy any Colonies in the sector. (Occupying a Colony Engages a Unit indefinitely.)
  10. Any units not currently Engaged may Plot a Course to another Sector and begin moving towards it.

Expand

  1. Cargo ships which arrived in the previous Explore phase may now load or unload Ore or Units. They are now Engaged until the start of the next Round.
  2. Colonies that were built last Round now become Operational.
  3. Units built last Round now come Operational.
  4. Terraforming that was completed last round now becomes Permanent.
  5. Any unit with the Colonize ability can now begin building a colony if it is in the same sector as a Viable Planet. This usually takes only one Fiscal Quarter and consumes the colonization unit.
  6. Any unit with the Construction ability can now begin building any unit the Civilization knows how to manufacture, if it is in the same sector as a Suitable Site. Monetary Units equal to the cost of the new unit must be spent now.
  7. Any unit with the Terraform ability may now begin Terraforming. This is an ongoing process taking several FQs and costing several MUs up front and one Ore for each Terraforming Point.
  8. All building projects currently under construction advance by however many Build Points the Construction Units building them can output in one FQ. Ore is consumed at a rate of 1:1 per BP. If a civilization has insufficient ore at the site, apply as much ore as possible to this project, then all other projects at this site halt until more ore is available. If a unit finishes Construction, it has the option of applying any leftover Build Points to another project currently under construction at the same site, provided enough ore is on hand at the site.) Any new unit that is now fully built will become Operational at the start of the next Fiscal Quarter.
  9. All Terraforming projects currently under underway advance by however many Terraforming Points the Terraforming Units building them can output in one FQ. Ore is consumed at a rate of one per TP. If a Terraforming Unit has insufficient ore on hand to continue the terraforming this Round, then apply as much ore as possible and then wait for next Round. For each Round that passes after this one, the project loses one Terraforming Point per Fiscal Quarter. If a unit finishes Terraforming, any leftover TP this Round are wasted.

Exploit

  1. Optional: TODO Population morale update/manipulation goes here…
  2. Optional: TODO Trade Routes go here…
  3. Mines which are currently Operational produce Ore.
  4. Colonies which are currently Operational now experience population growth.
  5. Collect taxes for all Legal Citizens residing within your Colonies.
  6. Special resource collectors which are currently Operational produce special resources. (OPTIONAL!)
  7. For each sector adjacent to another Civilization's sector, trade occurs unless the concerned parties are at war or either party forbids free trade.
  8. Any Unit with the Salvage special ability which is in a Sector containing Space Junk can now Engage in collecting the debris.
  9. Collect taxes for any legal trading which occurs now.

Skirmish Combat Options

Arranged in order from the simplest to the most complex.

Diceless Combat

Usually only the larger ships will survive, and all Units on the victor's side will take at least some damage. This variant is great for email or forum games, or for strategy purists who don't want to mess with combat tactics or random variables. It tends to result in large-scale, one-sided, bloody battles between enormous opposing armadas… or peaceful drawdowns in all but the most one-sided of encounters. The usefulness of specialty skills under this system is questionable.

  1. Total all the numerical combat-related stats for each unit on your side. Hull Points, Average Attack and DR for all weapons, evasion, and initiative. The result is that Unit's total Fighting Power.
  2. Add up the Fighting Power of all units on your side. The result is your side's Fleet Power.
  3. The side with the highest Fleet Power is declared the Victor.
  4. The Victor may give the losing side a chance to surrender, or to agree to settle their differences peacefully under other specific terms, in order to avoid a costly battle. If no settlement is offered, or it is not accepted, procede with the remaining steps.
  5. The losing side's starting Fleet Power becomes the battle's Attrition Rate. Subtract the Attrition Rate from the winning side's Fleet Power to get the battle's Survival Rate. This represents the amount of the Victor's fleet that is left over after the battle.
  6. 100% of the losing side's fleet is destroyed.
  7. Divide the Attrition Rating by the number of Units in the Victor's fleet. Apply this damage to each Unit's individual Fighting Power. If a Unit is destroyed, any leftover damage goes into a pool which becomes the new Attrition Rating.
  8. Repeat this process until all damage from the Attrition Rating has been applied.
  9. Determine the percentage of your Fighting Power which remains for each unit. That is the percentage of Hull Points that unit has.

Instant Mass Combat

The results of this are similar to Diceless Combat, but with a random element so that the end result is not always known ahead of time. It also gives a losing side the option to surrender or flee partway through, if they don't like the way the battle is going.

  1. Total the Average Damage of all Weapons used by all Units on your side. This is your Fleet Offensive Potential.
  2. Total the HP, Evasion, and DR of all Defenses used by all Units on your side. This is your Fleet Endurance.
  3. Total the initiative of all units on your side. The Fleet with the higher Initiative goes first.
  4. Roll a D20 and multiply the result by 5. This is the percentage (between 5% and 100%) of your Fleet Offensive Potential which you will do to the enemy's Fleet Endurance during this round. Use a calculator. Round up.
  5. If the enemy's Fleet Endurance was not reduced to 0, now it's their turn to do the same thing.
  6. The two fleets go back and forth, trading blows, until one side reaches 0 Fleet Endurance. The other side is declared the Victor.
  7. The Victor's remaining Fleet Endurance is what's left of their fleet. Apply damage to the Units in your fleet as described in the section Diceless Combat, above.

Separate Weapon Mass Combat

This is similar to Instant Mass Combat, above, except that it differentiates between which types of weapons and defenses each side is loaded out with. This can be an important tactical factor in games where both sides have evolved along highly different and specialized technology paths.

  1. Total the average damage of each weapon type of all Units on your side. (Ballistic, Energy, etc.) This gives you a separate Fleet Damage Potential for each type of weapon in your fleet.
  2. Total the DR of each type of defense of all Units on your side. (Ballistic, Energy) This gives you a separate Fleet Defensive Potential for each type of defense in your fleet.
  3. Total the HP of all Units on your side. This gives you your Fleet Endurance.
  4. Total the initiative of all units on your side. The Fleet with the higher initiative goes first.
  5. At the start of your turn, for each weapon type you have, roll a D20 and multiply the result by 5. This tells you how much Damage you did with that type of weapon to the enemy's fleet this round.
  6. The fleet resists this damage with their Fleet Defensive Potential for that weapon type. Whatever damage is left is applied to their Fleet Endurance.
  7. After you have done this for all weapon types, the Fleet with the second-highest initiative does the same thing to you.
  8. The two fleets go back and forth, trading blows, until one side reaches 0 Fleet Endurance. The other side is declared the Victor.
  9. The Victor's remaining Fleet Endurance is what's left of their fleet. Apply damage to the Units in your fleet as described in the section Diceless Combat, above.

Starter Units

Unit Name Scale (Multiplier) Sensors Signature Movement Rate Targeting Evasion Weapons Defenses HP
Human Adult Personnel (*1) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Utility Truck Vehicle (*10) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Space Fighter Fighter (*10^2) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Corvette Fighter (*10^3) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Destroyer Fighter (*10^4) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Cruiser Fighter (*10^5) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Dreadnought Fighter (*10^6) 1 10 1 1 1 10

Starter Components

Starter Research


Designing a Unit

First, you need to know what scale of Unit you are dealing with:

Relative Scales

Scale Multiplier Notes
Personnel (none) The smallest possible Unit type. Stats typically range from 1 to 10.
Vehicle *10 A small ground vehicle or escape pod. Stats typically range from 10 to 100.
Fighter *100 The smallest possible spaceship. Much like a typical modern-day fighter jet. Stats typically range from 100 to 1000.
Corvette *1000 A decent sized single-mission short-range ship. Room for a small crew and some cargo or tools. Stats typically range from 1000 to 10,000.
Destroyer *10000 Also includes most commercial freighters. Plenty of room for cargo, weapons, or troops. Stats typically range from 10,000 to 100,000.
Cruiser *100000 Also includes Bulk Freighters or a few Luxury Cruise Ships. Stats typically range from 100,000 to 1,000,000.
Dreadnought *1000000 Utterly massive capital ships. At the start of the game, only a Dreadnought's hull can withstand the forces of Faster-Than-Light travel. Stats typically range from 1,000,000 to 10,000,000.

Next, consider the weakest possible unit of that scale:

Basic Units

Unit Name Scale (Multiplier) Sensors Signature Movement Rate Targeting Evasion Weapons Defenses HP
Human Adult Personnel (*1) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Utility Truck Vehicle (*10) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Space Fighter Fighter (*10^2) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Corvette Fighter (*10^3) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Destroyer Fighter (*10^4) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Cruiser Fighter (*10^5) 1 10 1 1 1 10
Light Dreadnought Fighter (*10^6) 1 10 1 1 1 10

Note: All numbers are multiplied by the Scale Multiplier during actual combat. Thus, a Light Corvette with 10 hit points actually has 10,000 hit points. This format removes a lot of unnecessary zeros from the equation and can prevent some messy arithmetic.

Customize your Unit's Stats

Now that you have a basic Unity of the type you want, let's customize it for enhanced performance:
TODO

Add Weapons and Defenses

TODO

Add Specials.

TODO


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