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Monday, July 27, 2009

Revised Knight Hawks Rules

As much as Knight Hawks sucks (my opinion), the spaceship construction rules are halfway to effective. However, the biggest problem with those rules is that they are not gradual enough.

Unified Decimaled Sizes
In Starflight: Starfighters in Star Frontiers in Star Frontiersman issue #5, I presented an alternate sizing system for Knight Hawks ship hull sizes 1-3. However, this was not well received. After some discussion, a decimal system appeared to be preferred. So in the revision to the Starflight article, I will be presenting a decimal size system instead that can be applied to spaceships or vehicles and which is fully compatible with Knight Hawks and provides more gradient scales of ship construction.

What I have noticed is a lot of discussion about how space fighters will not be effective in military space operations, but I strongly disagree. Not only will they be most effective for transatmospheric assaults, a pilot's ability to judge the situation and perform an appropriate response will still be superior to any long range missile, as well as the pilot can guide in a whole load of effective weapons and hit multiple targets on a ship in a single carefully guided pass. I will cover a thorough argument for the use of space fighters and bombers in the revised article.

New Creations
I also have some other vehicles and small spaceship ideas I'd like to offer. Such options can include a "jump ship" which acts as a long range manned probe carrying 2 crew (A navigator and technician) which carries only enough fuel and engine capacity to make 2 jumps, allowing it to be much smaller. The idea is that the mother ship is moving at .11c, the jump ship then moves out from the bay and immediately enters jump. It's size leaves a minimal wake. At the end of its jump, the technician scans the system with the powerful equipment to determine composition and enemy activity. The navigator keeps the vessel moving at .1c and makes a wide turn to jump to the designated return point where it rejoins the mother ship. That's just one of many ideas that have come into my head that I will introduce in company with the article.

Scaled Combat Time and Vector Movement
I will also be providing an updated Shades of Motion in 3-D article which will provide more examples and clarification to the use of movement scaling and show more thoroughly how battles using that system should take place. I will provide an earth-equivalent planet demonstrating one scale, where the planet will be half in and half out of the map. I will then provide a closer on-planet scale showing various terrains.

The primary problem with the original article was relating how the scales interacted with combat timing. What happens is that because it's on two different scales, it has different turn times to reflect faster action on the new scale. So what happens is that those fighting on one scale will be waiting for those fighting on another scale to finish perhaps ten to twenty minutes of play. What came to my mind as an interesting work-around is the roleplay that can happen on the ships during that time. The greater difference in time, the more roleplaying takes place, maxing out at 10 minutes of in character roleplay. The beauty of that is that it suddenly turns the boardgame rules into roleplaying rules. In the article I will have to present more information detailing how roleplay should take place during that time. It also gives anti-fighter weapons a chance to operate on the same scale as the fighters. The end result would be a battle closely resembling a true sea battle in space. If I can make it all work, the article will undoubtedly be adopted, as many have expressed interest in it.

I may fit in simple vectoring in Shades of Motion article as well. I am seeking to find a better vectoring system. I think I came close, but there is minutia that is bugging me (the confined spaces [hexes or squares] really screws things up). It's similar to Art Eaton's simple vectoring rules, but should provide a more accurate path along which the ship travels, as well as noting its actual facing during the maneuver. (Which Art's rules neglect, for which I find a serious problem to simulation play. Yes, at the end of a maneuver, you have freedom of movement, but not during the maneuver, so that all your actions are affected by your facing during the maneuver. Also, maneuvering carries with it G-forces that must be considered and which increase exponentially per the size of ship. Thus a maneuver rating will still be absolutely necessary, whereas Art completely discards it.) I want it to be simple like KH movement, but as close to real vectoring as possible without the need of a straight ruler, protractor, or french curve.

Await the Black Sails
In the end, it will still feel like Knight Hawks with these articles (which is my primary goal, as seen by the pains of retaining the KH sizes and keeping the movement simple), but the frustrations about its errors affecting immersion will be resolved. I want to provide a system that people will want to play and will thoroughly enjoy. This is all still a ways away, but I assure you that they have remained a concern on my mind and I will certainly be getting around to them. Perhaps I will remove the fighters and equipment from the Starflight article and combine it with the Shades of Motion in 3-D article and name it Shades of Motion in 3-D—Revised.

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