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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Aotrs Shipyards August 2016 Release

Aotrs Shipyards is a webstore on Shapeways.com, a 3D print house which had production and shipping facilities located in the USA and the the Netherlands.

(Settle in folks, we've got a long one today…!)

For our August release, we proudly – and finally – present the first fleet of the elenthnar races – the Xyriat Hegemony!

Xyriat Hegemony

The first wave of Xyriats will be coming out over the next three months.


Introduction to the Elenthnar powers and the Xyriat Hegemony

(This – believe it or not!) is an abbreviated form of their fluff text – if there is interest, I can post the full thing up later.)

The Xyriat Hegemony (more properly, the Xyriat Dulhazon in Zoxyriat) is the largest, and as its name suggests, the most influential of the elenthnar powers.

The elenthnar homeworld, Urrot, in the Zon system, is part of a double planet system with it's smaller companion, Haron, which also supports life. Because of the double planets, the two worlds have a long day/night cycle with frequent ecilpses. Both worlds are highly aqueous and the land surfaces are heavily forested. T

The elenthnar are six-limbed vertebrate mammal analogues (somewhere between placental and marsupial); four legs spreading out like a spider and two arms on a more humanoid torso. They have a wide maw filled with teeth, two large eyes and four ears. Two sit atop the head like those of a Earth fennik fox; the other pair are not eternally visible, but sit further back and lower down in the skull. The males have throat sacs either side of the neck, amplifying their voices. Elenthnars are covered with a thickened skin, but otherwise lack body hair. Their skin is typically a dark-to-tan brown, depending on racial stock. Varying by ethnicity, elenthnars have spots, stippling or striping patterns of muted green. Plain individuals are rare, but not unheard of, though this can be linked to deleterious conditions, including albinism. The elenthnars wear a wide variety of clothing styles, varying by culture and personal preference.

Both genders have a specialised sexual bioluminencent signalling organs on the chest regions (the female's which is larger and more elaborate) – these organs are a characteristic defining feature of the elenthnar and their close relatives. Like humans, however, almost all the elenthnar cultures have nudity taboos and these are covered by clothing.

The proximity of a clearly visible similar world (had a significant effect on elenthnar culture, culminating an comparatively early reach for the stars. In their late industrial age, there was an extended race to be the first to reach and then colonise Haron. As Haron was close enough to be highly profitable, this space race did not die off at happened with humans, but spurred further development, including the relatively early colonisation and terraforming of Kalaor and lead to the early development of FTL travel nearly five hundred years ago.

The elenthnars arose in relative isolation, allowing them to expand significantly. Like humans, elenthnars are highly factionalised, with a huge number of diverse major through minor powers and independent system states, with a variety of languages and cultures. Zoxyriat is the closest language to a common tongue, being the language of science and engineering (analogous to human English) and also largely because of the Xyriat Hegemony's far-reaching influence even in its rivals. The elenthnar's expansion and technological progress has been rapid, comparable with that of humans.

The Xyriat Hegemony currently holds the largest proportion of Urrot and similarly, the largest area of space – though these are only marginal values above their competitors. Though its name has changed with the fall and rise of dynasties, the Hegemony has existed as political entity in an unbroken chain dating millennia, through empire to kingdom and humble beginnings.

Xyriat Hegemony technology is quite advanced, being slightly above the galactic standard, and typical of the other elenthnar powers. The Hegemony's size and influence means it is leading the field of research and development, with only the Wodef Enclave coming quite close and a larger gap before the other power.

SDN01 Kaxvyit Class Superdreadnought

SDN01 Kaxvyit Class Superdreadnought picture 1

SDN01 Kaxvyit Class Superdreadnought picture 2

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The Kaxvyit Superdreadnought has become a common sight in the last decade since its introduction. Coming in towards the end of the last development cycle and thus outfitted with the latest technology, the Kaxvyit has required no major upgrades to the current time, with only minor incremental improvements applied.

The Kaxvyit has the all the typical features of the Hegemony vessels: the large blue-white glowing dish at the front which serves as both the primary shield broadcasting system and also a focussing point for the Garrast-Viyroub FTL Drive; the low-placed drive tubes, linked through the distinctive vertical ventral exhaust port for the primary generator core at the mid-point of their length; and the rear superstructure. The base components are repeated in various forms across all the Xyriat starships. Like several larger vessels, the Kaxvyit also has a dorsal refuelling lance projecting along the hull from the rear superstructure.

The Kaxvyit's role is to serve as centrepiece to a formation. In keeping with current Xyriat doctrine, it carries a considerable eight heavy tractor beam emplacements. The Xyriat formation makes a pass through the enemy at close range, attempting to catch choice targets with their tractors and pull them away from the enemy formation. The enemy vessels can then be dealt with at leisure by the vessel's escorts and its own plethora of other weapons.

Softening up the enemy vessel's shields are armour is accomplished principally by the numerous larger particle beam emplacements. The Kaxvyit, like almost all other Xyriat capital starships, mounts several light torpedo launchers in turrets. These weapon fire munitions typically carried by fighters or small craft. While their range and yield is smaller than a capital-scale torpedo launcher, they make up for this in precision and with staggered-fire salvos can penetrate better than a typical capital warship. Combined with plentiful short-range point-defence particle beams, the Kaxvyit can either destroy a captured vessel wholesale or strategically pick off key systems, rendering it helpless but mostly intact.

The Kaxvyit also mounts four light spinal-mount railguns for long-range fire on approach to an enemy task force.

Finally, it carries a quad dorsal warhead launcher on top of the rear superstructure. This weapon system carries a variety of munitions. Torpedoes, both standard anti-matter and dispersed blast munitions and long-range missiles provide weapons for extreme range (the former using the Xyriat's excellent torpedo technology), while salvo rockets and standard missiles provide medium range offense and shield/armour stripping for tractored vessels. Finally, point-defence missiles are employed both defensively and as an additional precision targeting against enemies held in the tractor beams.

The Kaxvyit has slightly above average speed and mobility for a ship of its size and is well protected by shields and armour, allowing it to better survive the crucial first pass.

CPD01 Volovax Class Point-Defence Cruiser

CPD01 Volovax Class Point-Defence Cruiser

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The Volovax Point Defence Cruiser is the most common specialist point-defence vessel in use with the Hegemonic Navy. The two distinctive rotatory particle beam turret mounts were prototyped on the earlier Vuxor Point-Defence Frigate and honed to perfection on the larger Volovax. The rotary system allows a higher rate of fire to be concentrated to a single area, which still leaving full coverage elsewhere. Against dispersed targets, this effect can often be minimal, but it allows the Volovax to deploy a near-continuous stream of light attacks to a point target – such as a vessel caught in the two tractor beam arrays the cruiser carries.

To further supplement this firepower, the Volovax carries several light torpedo turrets. While these are most often used against captured targets, the Volovax's role as a point-defence ship means they are also used against attacking fighters or, particularly, larger small craft.

CL01C Rapax Class Light Cruiser

CL01C Rapax Class Light Cruiser

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The Rapax Light Cruiser is the Hegemony's standard ship-of-the-line. It has been in service for several decades and has been overhauled and refitted three times in that period. Despite its name, the Rapax is only slightly smaller than the Xoriet Heavy Cruiser and is in fact, comparable to most typical heavy cruisers in performance.

The current CL01C version of the Rapax is armed with a variety of particle beam turrets for both anti starship and point defence operations. It carries a single spinal-mount rail cannon, principally for long range fire on the approaching pass.

While the Rapax itself does not carry any tractor beams, it is typically found either flying escort to a larger capital ship or accompanied by Volovax Point Defence Cruisers, relying on the larger vessel's tractor beams to catch enemy vessels. It carries several light torpedo turrets principally to assist in the destruction or neutralisation of such targets.

DST02D Andrast Class Dro'Sanla Tug

DST02D Andrast Class Dro'Sanla Tug

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The Andrast Dro'Sanla tug performs a function that it largely unique to the elenthnars. The elenthnars have two forms of FTL transit in active use. The first is Garrast-Viyroub Drive (or Dro'Garrast-Viyroub in the language of the Hegemony), named after the scientists that discovered it. It is similar in function to traditional Hyperdrive and is the standard FTL system.

The second, Dro'Sanla (literally "warp- field drive"), is a form of teleportation drive, which was developed after first contact with the United Concorde of Divine Realms three centuries ago. The UCDR's magical teleportation was able to function through fixed Node Stations, teleporting between which effectively reduced the distance between the nodes to that between two neighbouring systems. The effect is akin to opening a wormhole, though which anything capable of broadcasting (teleporting) can utilise the node's effect. The effect of the Node Stations was greatest closest to the nodes, but has a radius larger enough to allow vessels in nearby systems to use it at reduced efficacy.

The Dro'Sanla drive was developed to make use of that system. As both GVD and Dro'Sanla are mutually incompatible systems, a vessel that wishes to use both has to fit both systems separately. Thus, Dro'Sanla tugs were developed. These vessels carried normal GVD for regular flight, but large Dro'Sanla systems to allow them to teleport between nodes, carrying several non-Dro'Sanla-equipped vessels with them. As the effective distance between areas linked by node stations is very small, the Dro'Sanla do not require a high FTL transit speed. Current Hegemony Dro'Sanla speed is only about 71% of the GVD speed – but Dro'Sanla is very rarely used over any distance where transit speed is an issue, as the Dro'Sanla tugs simply ferry vessels between two node-linked regions.

In the last few decades, separate breakthroughs in both the Xyriat Hegemony and Wodef Enclave have allowed the elenthnars to finally begin to build their own node stations.

The Andrast is the current primary Dro'Sanla tug in use with the Hegemony navy. A cruiser-sized vessel, the Andrast is capable of carrying at maximum, up to roughly fifteen times its own load on Dro'Sanla drive, though only a little under four times at full efficiency. However, the short effective distance between node-linked areas mean that the low efficiency doesn't usually matter.

The Andrast is very slow in sublight speed, minimally protected by point-defence and with relatively light shielding, as most of the bulk is taken up by the large Dro'Sanla. In addition to a regular towing array, it carries six tractor beam arrays spaced around the hull to lock on to vessels to tow. In addition, three reinforced bars, one dorsal and one either to side, each carry five reinforced lugs, which are designed for other vessels to latch onto with their own tractor beams, and thus increase the number of vessels the Andrast can carry at once. In practise, it is very rare to see all twenty-two towing points in use simultaneously, since the load limitation of carried vessels scales much faster than the number of utilised towing points.

SCV01F Halgat Class Recon Carrier

SCV01F Halgat Class Recon Carrier

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The lightest carrier vessel designated as a carrier, the Halgat Recon Carrier is little more than a heavy frigate. Like the Calgast, the Halgat has a long service history; extended more so because it is not typically deployed as a full combat vessel. The Halgat often operates on its own or with only a light transport, behind enemy lines.

The Halgat carries a sensor array of its own, but its primary job is to act as mothership to a series of Drone Scout Craft, the DNS02A Vitokor of which is the most recent. The Halgat will deploy to a safe system and then deploy its pair of Vitokors to fly to local systems and investigate. The Vitokors, being fully automated, can operate for extended periods – and can even be shut down into a waiting state with nothing but the most basic passive sensors operational for even longer.

When their task is finished, the Vitokors will either return with the data or transmit it back to the Halgat's communications systems via a specially encrypted transmission disguised to look like background noise. The twin arrays on the Halgat's sides are highly sensitive and attuned to the transmissions specifically from the Vitokor, which drastically reduces the Vitokor's transmission power requirements, making both vessel more secure.

The Halgat relies more on evasion for protection, and has a high sublight speed and agility. It has some particle beam arrays for point-defence, along with a limited number of light torpedo tubes, but only moderate shields – suitable for dealing with enemy recon fighters in small numbers, but not against enemy capital ships of any significant size.

DNS02A Vitokor Drone Scout Craft

The Vitokor is the largest vehicle in the Hegemonic arsenal which is entirely under drone control. The Vitokor is essentially, a large droid, as close to the legal and practical limitation of non-sapience as possible.

The Vitokor is designed for extended operations on reconnaissance behind enemy lines and is technically self-sufficient with supply and internal repair systems to not require a carrier. However, to maximise its service range and improve damage repair and resupply, they are typically operated from carriers, most notably the Halgat Recon Carrier.

The Vitokor mounts a compact but power sensor and communicator array to serve its primary purpose as recon. While individually it is not as powerful as that found on many dedicated capital ship sensor vessels, the Vitokor, in concert with a partner and a Recon Carrier can cover two or three systems at once, especially for the all-important observation role which principally relies on navigational and passive sensors.

It can enter a state of stand-by, leaving only those most basic systems operational and even enter a true hibernation state and drift "cold" for a determined period of time.

The Vitokor is not entirely toothless. In addition to strong small craft shields, it has several point-defence particle beam emplacements and a dorsal light torpedo turret. This is usually equipped with only lighter anti-fighter munitions as opposed to the heavier fighter warheads carried by the larger Xyriat vessels, but it is entirely capable of being mounted with heavier warheads if the need is required.

(All photos are of the Replicator 2 prototypes. for the Xyriat, I used a right/left half print; the Shapeways ones, of course will be all one piece!

Still getting the hang of the new camera, it's obviously been a while since I last took any photos of painted starships; the front ends are a bit dark, for some reason… Live and learn…!)


Next month – more Xyriat! After the first wave of Xyriat, the Wodef Enclave vessels will follow (though there may be some 144 ground forces released before then).

Another piece of news – I am finally starting to iterate to publishing my own set of starship rules – Accelerate & Attack. Work started on them at about the same time as my oppos started on Maneuver Group – about 2003, so it's been a long time in progress! No potential release date yet – but we are at the stage that the rules are in position to have the final proofing (and cold-read by my oppo UshCha!) I was hoping to have got the starter set out for Othr Partizan last weekend, but due to various circumstances, that didn't happen. I am looking towards maybe having something for our December convention, Recon; but don't hold me to anything!

Accelerate & Attack might be thought of as something akin to Full Thrust for the even more geeky. I consider it, in my own mind, something of a spiritual successor to FT, as that was what we played originally. The scope is about the same as (at least how we played) FT, reckoning on about 20-ish ships per side for an evening's game. It is principally aimed at being an admiral's game – i.e. the emphasis comes down to tactical decision-making over weapons.

It has a tech tree system with twenty different levels of technology. The technology is simple and scalar, rather than being a list of special abilities; TL measures how good a system is at doing a job, but essentially a TL 1 and TL 20 system do the same job. Further, the optimum recommended range for play is between the TL 5-8 range, where the available technology is enough to give you a wide variation in tech trees between races (to say nothing of the variety of design philosophies between the same tech tree!) and the weapon ranges are most condusive to normal table-top play.

(As an example, we have, between our AccAtt group 44 starfleet's (most of which are mine!) and of those, 34 fall into the 5-8 range and all of them play differently.)

The system is D20-based, as that provides the necessary required granularity. It is, the only "buckets o'D20" system I'm aware of! (That said, if you don';t have handfuls of mini-D20s, you only need at nine; thanks to the studies we did that showed you actually get more randomisation by taking the average for tens and rolling the remainders!)

It is written with the intention that the players build their own vessels and races and fit to whatever genera they wish to play, rather than have any "official" background. A couple of alien fleets are provided as samples along with some starting scenarios – the idea being you could plug them into whatever existing universe you play in. I did my best to give the prospective player a good toolbox with which to craft their games from (to me, that's half the fun of gaming – the story arising at both the context of the battle and the battle itself.)

The game relies on the tactical complexities created from the interaction of relatively simple rules. (As a measure the QR sheet has basically all the modifiers for all twenty tech-levels – only a fraction of which you will ever use in any one game – on one side of A4, and half of the reverse side is the average dice table.)

This does mean, however, the downside that while the rules are fairly easy to pick up, but actually learning to play takes sometime longer. Full Thrust, by its own admission, said it was a bit of a six-pack-and-boldly-go; Accelerate & Attack is probably not the ideal sort of game if you only play a couple of times a year.

At the moment, the 0.95 pass is a 140-page document, of which about twenty pages are the rules, thirty-five pages for the ship design system, ten on the tech tree creation (which also includes an attempt to explain what some of the subtleties of the interactions are – this actually was the hardest part to write) and the last forty pages are the sample fleet fluff, stats, four starter scenarios (with record sheets) and markers, including markers for the sample fleets, the idea being that you can use those as a starter for ten to learn to play the game "out of the box" (kinda!)

As I said above, the hardest part of writing the rules has been trying to explain it (there are quite a lot of parts that take far longer to explain than to actually do in the game), and that's principally what the current target is to work on.

I intend to release a free (or token-fee) "starter set" at some point, though (it'll be through Wargames Vault,like Manoeuvre Group) – it originally would have been before the main release, but might end up being simultaneous now! This will comprise just enough of the rules to run the starter fleets and scenarios (which will also be included), leaving out a lot of stuff like ship generation, which halves the size of the document (though again the last forty pages of that the same scenario and fleet stuff). In theory, that should make it slightly easier (or at least slightly less intimidating!) to learn from – and will provide people the opportunity to decide whether it looks like the sort of game that is for them!

As I say, nothing concrete on release, but, for the first time in 13 years, all the writing-up had largely been done and all put into the main document, so that's something at least…!

Shapeways, Aotrs Shipyards