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Is there a way to have Star Wars space combat make sense?
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

G‚tFromKI wrote:
Let's say you're running in a 1-g environment,


I'm sure the star destroyer's track team will be in a panic.

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Remember the stormtroopers who guard the switch of the tractor beam in A new Hope ?


You mean the ones on an artificial moon? The one that has enough gravity to tug nearby derelicts into it using nothing but its own mass?

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That's what happens to the super-destroyer in Episode 6: no command center = crash within thirty seconds...


The super star destroyer was only a few ship lengths away from the surface. That's, like, six kilometers. You can't possibly be suggesting that star destroyers in fleet combats will be hugging the surface of an object with a respectable gravity well under normal circumstances.

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Anyway, given the speed of fighters, I expect them to crash on a random shield within a few seconds.


Again, I ask: Why would you think that? Space is big. Star Wars fleets usually consist of, like, twelve ships. They aren't nearly forming a tight compact sphere around the battlefield.

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Star Wars features artificial gravity, therefore any fighter should feature accelerations that aren't bearable by humans - or fighters would have no reason to exist, being less maneuverable than ships with artificial gravity


For the fourth time I'm going to ask: Why would you think that? Artificial gravity is far from the only conceivable limiter on maneuverability and there is no reason to believe that the tech is small enough to fit on a fighter.

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Because it's more effective at disabling ship.


For thirty seconds. Then thirty seconds later it is trying to murder you again. Or as an alternative - and follow me here, because this part is apparently complicated - we could blow the system up completely with a turbolaser.

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according to Episode 6, a single kamikaze is enough to destroy a super-destroyer with no shields; a single torpedo should be more than enough.


Hey, do you remember what the Imperial captain said literally right before that happened? Intensify foreward firepower. Because the Empire has a counter to exactly that strategy, and it's to use their giant banks of turbolasers to blow up torpedoes (and fighters) before they can hit vulnerable parts of the ship. Only problem was the captain didn't give the order in time, and even then the killing blow was a lucky break. It's not like the Rebels threw so much material at the SSD that something was guaranteed to get through, or that the kamikaze was at all planned. Something just happened to be slipping through a crack in the defenses in the brief window of time between those cracks mattering and those cracks being plugged up.

Every post you make on this subject has boiled down to "none of this makes sense if we make some completely unsupported assumptions about the setting!"
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G‚tFromKI
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 3:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:
I'm sure the star destroyer's track team will be in a panic.

Where did you read "in panic" in my post ? Why are you lying ?

running troopers in source material.


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Quote:
Remember the stormtroopers who guard the switch of the tractor beam in A new Hope ?


You mean the ones on an artificial moon? The one that has enough gravity to tug nearby derelicts into it using nothing but its own mass?

You're so wrong...

The hangar door isn't on the ceiling. Hence, artificial gravity. qed


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Quote:
That's what happens to the super-destroyer in Episode 6: no command center = crash within thirty seconds...


The super star destroyer was only a few ship lengths away from the surface. That's, like, six kilometers. You can't possibly be suggesting that star destroyers in fleet combats will be hugging the surface of an object with a respectable gravity well under normal circumstances.

That was an exemple of thing that actually happen in the trilogy.

You know what is the main problem of the Star Wars RPG? The writers are people like you who don't want players to reproduce scenes from the source material. The whole story is about a jedi, but you can't play a jedi because yada yada yada. The diplomat princess survives several altercation with stormtrooper, but your 2d-dodge diplomat will be insta-kill by a stormtrooper because yada yada yada. The source material features several star destroyers colliding or crashing, but they usually don't because yada yada yada.


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Anyway, given the speed of fighters, I expect them to crash on a random shield within a few seconds.


Again, I ask: Why would you think that? Space is big. Star Wars fleets usually consist of, like, twelve ships. They aren't nearly forming a tight compact sphere around the battlefield.

I'm not sure: where can a X-wing or a TIE-fighter or a B-Wing shoot ?

In front his ship? Oh. So the pilot himself tries to have something in front of him...


Quote:
Quote:
Star Wars features artificial gravity, therefore any fighter should feature accelerations that aren't bearable by humans - or fighters would have no reason to exist, being less maneuverable than ships with artificial gravity


For the fourth time I'm going to ask: Why would you think that? Artificial gravity is far from the only conceivable limiter on maneuverability and there is no reason to believe that the tech is small enough to fit on a fighter.

Have you any notion in physics or biology?

Fighters in Star Wars have pilots. Can we agree on this ?

The first limitation for a piloted fighter's maneuverability is the survival of the pilot. If the acceleration is too high, the pilot falls unconscious or dies - and this happens at quite a low acceleration, therefore, that's the first limiting factor.

Except, of course, if the pilot doesn't suffer any acceleration because he's in an artificial gravity.

A ship the size of the Falcon features artificial gravity. Can we agree on this ? And it has the same acceleration as any fighter. If fighters don't have artificial gravity, the falcon will have a better maneuverability - or more precisely, it will be able to fully use its engine and have accelerations that should kill the crew. And the falcon has 360-degree turrets etc.

If the fighters don't have any artificial gravity, then they don't make sense - any army would use falcon-sized ships (or non-piloted ships) because it has better maneuverability, better shield, higher firepower, etc. The name of the thread is "Is there a way to have Star Wars space combat make sense?", hence our hypothesis are "the empire uses small fighters" and "that makes sense". Those hypothesis imply the fighters have artificial gravity. qed.



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Because it's more effective at disabling ship.


For thirty seconds. Then thirty seconds later it is trying to murder you again. Or as an alternative - and follow me here, because this part is apparently complicated - we could blow the system up completely with a turbolaser.

OMG, you have only 30 second to launch a single torpedo on the command center ! Hitting an inert target, what a challenge !


Quote:
Quote:
according to Episode 6, a single kamikaze is enough to destroy a super-destroyer with no shields; a single torpedo should be more than enough.


Hey, do you remember what the Imperial captain said literally right before that happened? Intensify foreward firepower. Because the Empire has a counter to exactly that strategy, and it's to use their giant banks of turbolasers to blow up torpedoes (and fighters) before they can hit vulnerable parts of the ship. Only problem was the captain didn't give the order in time, and even then the killing blow was a lucky break. It's not like the Rebels threw so much material at the SSD that something was guaranteed to get through, or that the kamikaze was at all planned. Something just happened to be slipping through a crack in the defenses in the brief window of time between those cracks mattering and those cracks being plugged up.

How do you shoot turbolaser when your ship is disabled by ion canon ? This is actually what ion canons do on Hoth: disable the star destroyers firepower.

Anyway, fully-functional turbolaser aren't even able to hit a big fighter (according to the source material); and according to you, fighters have pilots but no artificial gravity. In other words, fighter have maybe 10g of acceleration, turbolaser aren't able to hit them. And you expect a disabled turbolaser to hit a 100+g small torpedo? lol.

("but my claim is unsupported, maybe engineers in SW are morons and they didn't figure how to create a 100+g torpedo with erratic movements.")

I can buy the fact that shields protect from torpedo - they destroy the shield generator before destrying the command center (I don't know why the shield generators aren't protected by their own shields, but hey). But once the shield is disabled, to hit the command center with a torpedo should be a triviality - especialy when the turbolasers are disabled as well.
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The ion cannon thing has so many answers I don't feel like there's an obligation to explain it to fit it into a sensible space combat system.

Like, you could have starships be literally unable to carry them. Maybe their operation causes your own systems to fuck up. Maybe they have requirements that are simply incompatible with being in space, and thus have to be on a planet for some reason. Or maybe life support systems are explicitly placed on a more expensive shielded system that is more difficult to effect with ion cannons as a result of their existence. Whatever.
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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

norms29 wrote:

of course, now that I write it, I realize this wouldn't fit with Luke's last minute trip to Dagoba in ESB... confused


That's easy to retcon.

It wasn't a last minute trip. He used the nav computers in the base that calculate jump coordinates and didn't have time to dump it to R2.

Now... how he got from Dagobah to Bespin? You got me. Maybe he stopped at a space refuelling point and asked for directions/can I borrow your nav computer for 20 minutes? Or maybe you can buy Thomas Guide: Hyperspace edition?
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Mord
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

G‚tFromKI wrote:
Shouldn't such a weapon kill half the crew by de-activating (and then re-activating) artificial gravity (and other life support systems) ? And also, force the ship to pursue its current trajectory - this isn't a problem if the ship is on a stable orbit, but it can be when it changes orbit.

I'm sure you could injure people in such a way, but it doesn't seem like the guaranteed fight-ender you think it is. Ion cannons wouldn't control the reboot process of the artificial gravity generators, and it's likely that such a system would be designed to bring gravity back slowly enough for people to regain their footing without getting slammed into deck pizza.

G‚tFromKI wrote:
For me, if ion canon are the most efficient way to de-activate systems, it should be the most efficient way to win a fight - in space combat, there's no real difference between "deactivate systems" and "win".

That's especially true against small fighters - how long can the pilot survive without life supports ? Since he's never on a stable orbit (its main way of surviving is its unpredictable trajectory - therefore its always accelerating), how long before it crashes when you deactivate its reactor?


It takes sustained ion cannon fire to permanently knock out a ship or major subsystem thereof. Even a small fighter is back in action after being ion cannoned after a short period. I don't think losing life support briefly in a small craft would be such a huge deal. People don't use up so much oxygen so quickly that a fighter pilot will suffocate in a few minutes of not having atmo cycling. TIE pilots wear self-contained breathing apparatus anyway, so they really don't give a shit. Larger ships might have more of a problem faster, but their life support systems are presumably tougher to knock out and have more redundant emergency backups.

Hitting a fighter with an ion cannon is a great way to turn that fighter into a suicide bomb. I can imagine a scenario where a Y-Wing disables a TIE Bomber while the bomber is on course for a run at a capital ship, resulting in the out-of-control bomber ramming its target and detonating its entire payload balls deep into Deck Six. The guys on Deck Six might want to avoid that, and would probably vote that the Y-Wing instead hit the TIE Bomber with a laser barrage that reduces it to a harmless shower of scrap metal and detonates its ordnance at a safe distance.

It's not at all clear to me that fighter-scale small craft have artificial gravity, since X-Wing pilots are visibly strapped into their seats. This would subject them to acceleration limits, but we don't see fighters move in a way that would invoke those limits. Even ships we know to have artificial gravity (the Millennium Falcon) don't execute the types of extreme maneuvers that would knock the crew unconscious. The conclusion I draw from this is that there are limitations on the level of inertial dampening that SW artificial gravity technology can sustain, and as a result, regardless of whether you're in artificial gravity or not, you're working with a level of maneuverability that is limited by your ship's mass and your own circulatory system. Artificial gravity is thus more of a quality of life feature for the crew than something that meaningfully enhances the ship's performance.

G‚tFromKI wrote:
(btw, if turbo-lasers are actual lasers, how comes we are able to evaluate their travel time only using our eyes and a crappy chronometer?)

This one is easy: the weapons referred to as "lasers" or "turbolasers" do not actually produce lasers in the technical sense. They fire coherent beams of charged particles that are so highly energetic that they give off visible light. This is also why their range is so pathetically short; you would expect actual lasers to be able to melt targets well beyond visual range in the vacuum of space if you had the arbitrarily high energy output of a "hypermatter reactor core" behind them, but Star Wars combat takes place almost exclusively at visual range. If you wanted to be more specific about the whole thing you would refer to them as "blasters" just as you do their ground-based counterparts, but for whatever reason, the commonly-used term for these weapons in a naval context is "laser."

I'm sure someone could come up with a reason for the name shift. Maybe space navies used to actually use lasers in combat until blaster technology replaced them, but the nomenclature stuck? Sort of like how you might call a 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 naval gun a "cannon" if you weren't speaking in a technical context.
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Emerald
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The ion cannons vs. artificial gravity question is moot, as Star Wars artificial gravity, or "repulsorlift" technology, is passive and doesn't require power to maintain. We see several vehicles including Luke's landspeeder and the speeder bikes on Endor keep hovering while shut down, for instance, and the times in ESB when the Millennium Falcon briefly loses power in the asteroid field don't interfere with the artificial gravity. Technobabble-wise, repulsorlifts operate on "subnuclear 'knots' of space-time made by enormous unmanned power refineries encompassing black holes."

Mord wrote:
It's not at all clear to me that fighter-scale small craft have artificial gravity, since X-Wing pilots are visibly strapped into their seats. This would subject them to acceleration limits, but we don't see fighters move in a way that would invoke those limits. [...] Artificial gravity is thus more of a quality of life feature for the crew than something that meaningfully enhances the ship's performance.


The X-Wing series establishes that starfighters have full inertial dampener systems, but that it's possible to set the level of inertial dampening anywhere from full normal gravity to zero-G, and many pilots dial them back to 98% gravity or so because feeling a bit of the acceleration in fights gives them a better sense for their fighter's condition.

The straps are part of the ejector seat mechanism, since the artificial gravity is built into the fighter, not the seat.

Mord wrote:
I'm sure someone could come up with a reason for the name shift. Maybe space navies used to actually use lasers in combat until blaster technology replaced them, but the nomenclature stuck? Sort of like how you might call a 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 naval gun a "cannon" if you weren't speaking in a technical context.


There have been various suggested explanations given for the naming of "laser cannons" and "turbolasers" given that blasters aren't actually lasers, none of which have been can(n)onized, but the commonly accepted explanation is thus:

Quote:
It has been suggested that laser gun/rifle/cannon, etc. is simply a slang term and so-called lasers operate like other blasters, but use an actual laser to superheat the blaster gas into plasma or energise it into charged particles, rather than a superconductor or other medium.


So you had "blasters" and "blaster cannons" originally, then the more powerful laser-activated ones would have been "laser blasters" which were used to make "laser blaster cannons" and "turbo-laser blaster cannons", which were then shortened to "laser cannons" and "turbolasers." Seems to be as good an explanation as any.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 4:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

G‚tFromKI wrote:

Where did you read "in panic" in my post ?


I kind of feel like this doesn't even need a rebuttal for how blatantly dishonest it is.

Quote:
running troopers in source material.


This is 1) on the Death Star, which has strong enough gravity to pull a super star destroyer into it, 2) not during a fleet combat, 3) is way the Hell less than half the people on the ship, and 4) is a video of stormtroopers not technicians which means they're totally irrelevant to any function of the ship except boarding actions and planetary invasion.

Quote:

The hangar door isn't on the ceiling. Hence, artificial gravity. qed


Not only that, the gravity on the Death Star is way stronger than you would expect from the moon. So, yeah, artificial gravity. Except, it's also massive enough to have regular gravity, otherwise the SSD would not have crashed into its similarly sized brother. So what happens when the artificial gravity turns off is that people become significantly lighter and depending on where they are in the structure may fall onto the wall, which they won't care about because A) most of them are in small corridors anyway and B) they're significantly lighter so they can fall significantly farther without caring. What they will not do is enter zero-G, float straight up, and then come back down when gravity is restored. If someone happens to be falling above a bottomless pit exactly when the gravity gets turned back on, that would actually kill them, except that (even disregarding Emerald's point that artificial gravity doesn't even require power) the amount of ion firepower required to mess with the Death Star's system is stupendous and thus it's unlikely to even come up in the first place, and even if it did, the vast majority of people working in and around bottomless pits would fall onto the wall and be able to walk to a safe place for artificial gravity to turn back on before it actually does. More stormtroopers would die to tripping into the bottomless pit than from losing artificial gravity to ion weapons fire.

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You know what is the main problem of the Star Wars RPG? The writers are people like you who don't want players to reproduce scenes from the source material.


There is a lot of stupidity here, so I'm going to have to unpack this one step at a time.

First of all, you have this argument exactly backwards. You are the one arguing that Star Wars ships should be using drastically different armaments from what's seen in the movies. I am the one arguing that Star Wars games should resemble Star Wars movies because that is what people signed up for when they signed up for a Star Wars game.

Secondly, in what way does the Empire's fleet doctrine not being based around fighting battles in close proximity to artificial moons prevent such a battle from happening at all?

Thirdly, the SSD wasn't ionized, the bridge was destroyed, which means that if the same thing happened in an orbital battle it would still crash, because ion weapons suck, because they're temporary and not permanent.

Quote:
So the pilot himself tries to have something in front of him...


A capital ship? No. Even Y-Wings want to deploy ordinance from as far away as possible (in some versions of the setting, this actually makes their attacks more powerful for some reason, though it's obviously harder to aim). X-Wings and A-Wings concern themselves almost exclusively with screening fighters and will almost never be pointed at a capital ship, let alone so directly at one that they will crash into it within thirty seconds of drifting, and even Y-Wings are only oriented as such half the time, since the other half of the time they're circling around, and depending on exactly how the aiming of their ordinance works (it varies from one source to another), their anti-ship weapons may be angled and it isn't actually necessary to point yourself at the enemy ship at all to land them.

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The first limitation for a piloted fighter's maneuverability is the survival of the pilot.


Have you seen a Star Wars dogfight? These are not modern jet fighters. It's WW2 in space. Ships do not accelerate anywhere near fast enough to kill anyone. It's not a limitation of human physiology, it's a limitation of the machine.

Quote:

OMG, you have only 30 second to launch a single torpedo on the command center ! Hitting an inert target, what a challenge !


If the target is inert from ion blasts, hitting it with the same number of turbolasers would've reduced it to rubble. Most ion blasts affect only single systems. On the other hand, a single ion blast to the bridge would, at best, disable navigation. Turbolasers would still work fine.

Quote:
How do you shoot turbolaser when your ship is disabled by ion canon ? This is actually what ion canons do on Hoth: disable the star destroyers firepower.


Yeah, a massive surface-to-orbit ion cannon that lands two direct hits on a star destroyer. Why would you expect ion cannons mounted on fighters to have similar effect, and why would you expect a laser cannon of similar size not to rip the ship in half completely?

Quote:
And you expect a disabled turbolaser to hit a 100+g small torpedo?


Again you're just kind of assuming that Star Wars has this kind of technology. This is a setting where an army of clones beat drone infantry, and where that army of clones was subsequently defeated by regular dudes. This is a setting where space fleets regularly engage with one another at visual range. This is a setting where faster-than-light travel is commonly available commercial technology, but the ability to wipe out a planet is considered new and big and scary and requires a giant space ship and not just an asteroid, a tractor beam, and a math whiz. Star Wars is space fantasy and its technology is all magic. Yeah, Star Wars engineers didn't figure out how to make 100g+ ordinance, because otherwise that ordinance would dominate the battlefield and it clearly does not, because there is absolutely nothing in any major Star Wars media that even remotely resembles any kind of legit sci-fi futurism space warfare. Literally every argument you make that's based off of extrapolating from real world technology begins and ends with "Star Wars does not work that way."
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maglag
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chamomile wrote:

Quote:
The first limitation for a piloted fighter's maneuverability is the survival of the pilot.


Have you seen a Star Wars dogfight? These are not modern jet fighters. It's WW2 in space. Ships do not accelerate anywhere near fast enough to kill anyone. It's not a limitation of human physiology, it's a limitation of the machine.


But you see, in space there is no pesky air to slow you down. So as long as a pilot keeps their engine turned on, their speed will simply keep increasing more and more. And we know that X-wings can fly fast enough to escape a planet's gravity, so their acceleration is actually pretty strong. But the Imperial Fighters can keep up with them, so their acceleration has to be about as good.

So out of curiosity, is there any techno-babble explanation to why star wars ships don't just go faster and faster when their engines are working constantly?
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's a common criticism of unrealistic space battles and I haven't heard any technobabble to justify it. They also fire their blasters at closer to WWI dogfight than WWII range.

If I were to asspull a reason for ww2 style combat in space I'd say everything uses some kind of antigrav that requires wings on ships and constant thrust to maintain speed
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Mord
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
So out of curiosity, is there any techno-babble explanation to why star wars ships don't just go faster and faster when their engines are working constantly?

The best I can come up with is this: in the Star Wars galaxy, computers are just not very good relative to 2017 Earth, in many of the ways that 2017 Earth excels. Networked systems are virtually nonexistent; information security and authentication technologies are apparently absent; long-distance wireless data transfer is limited to audio, still images, and audio with wavy, flickering monochrome holographic projection; computer targeting assistance looks like Asteroids at best. And we're talking about top of the line military hardware. In Rogue One, accessing and transmitting a few GB (or TB?) of technical readouts required hauling a physical disk out of storage and slotting it into a planetary-scale radio dish just to get the broadcast into low orbit. The contents of which then had to be saved to a floppy disk and passed around by hand while playing keepaway from Darth Vader. And then jammed in an R2 unit and the events of Star Wars.

If you had the scale of computing power available in some hard sci-fi settings, you would have fleet battles waged across millions of km of empty space, with kinetic kill weapons and asteroids being flung at appreciable fractions of the speed of light. The Death Star would never have been a thing, because you would just give some floating rock a well-aimed push to make it into a mass extinction event.

You could try to do things like that in the SW galaxy, but you would not be able to hit anything smaller than a planet. Even then, the calculations would take relatively huge amounts of CPU time and manpower. And if you missed and hit something you didn't want to hit... "Sorry guys, I was aiming for Alderaan but hit Coruscant. My bad." Not to mention the fact that it appears the galaxy is not very well mapped, so you would be firing without certain knowledge of anything between you and your target.

So, things are done at speeds and ranges humans can interact with using their unaided senses because they just don't have the ability to do things any better. This is why space battles almost exclusively take place in close proximity to planets or other targets of interest, and why everything is packed so closely together during said battles.

You could, if you wanted to, push an X-Wing to 0.99c by staying at full throttle, but if you're trying to haul ass long distance, going to hyperspace is faster. If you're trying to fight at 0.99c you're probably not going to take any hits but you are also not going to be able to do anything, and decelerating will take you a while.

In defense of SW computing technology, they have artificial intelligence cheap as free in addition to whatever is needed to make hyperdrives and hypermatter reactors work. Being that all those things are technobabble I can't say why or how their technology evolved in those directions and not the ones ours did, but I can repeat to myself "it's just a show; I should really just relax."


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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mord wrote:
I'm sure someone could come up with a reason for the name shift. Maybe space navies used to actually use lasers in combat until blaster technology replaced them, but the nomenclature stuck? Sort of like how you might call a 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 naval gun a "cannon" if you weren't speaking in a technical context.

It's the same reason George Lucas called them lasers - because they look like what an ordinary person expects lasers to look like. It doesn't matter how many times the engineering crew tells you "god damnit it's not a laser it's just a dense stream of energetic particles that emits visible light" people are going to shrug and keep calling it a laser because they don't even know what the difference is you're trying to tell them about.
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
So out of curiosity, is there any techno-babble explanation to why star wars ships don't just go faster and faster when their engines are working constantly?

Anything particularly wrong with saying "there's some kind of aether in space that provides resistance, deal with it"?
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Surgo wrote:
Anything particularly wrong with saying "there's some kind of aether in space that provides resistance, deal with it"?



To begin with, if there's resistance in space, why do all orbits not decay in very short order?
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Surgo wrote:
maglag wrote:
So out of curiosity, is there any techno-babble explanation to why star wars ships don't just go faster and faster when their engines are working constantly?

Anything particularly wrong with saying "there's some kind of aether in space that provides resistance, deal with it"?

something that provides resistance would mean creating friction right?
1.) decaying orbits
2.) stuff burning up from friction heat.
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Emerald
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
So out of curiosity, is there any techno-babble explanation to why star wars ships don't just go faster and faster when their engines are working constantly?


There's no one official explanation, but it probably has something to do with how inertial compensators work. If the outside of the ship is operating under standard "constant thrust equals constant acceleration and normal inertia" physical conditions but the inside of the ship is operating under "one-standard-gravity acceleration perpendicular to the direction of thrust regardless of what crazy maneuvering the ship is doing" physical conditions, that could certainly provide enough of an opposing force to prevent indefinite acceleration.

That, or perhaps either the passive repulsorlifts standard on all spacecraft, or their etheric rudder (a repulsorlift-like device that allows lateral movement without maneuvering thrusters), naturally create drag on the fabric of surrounding space, given that both use that tiny-knots-of-spacetime technology.

It's noted in several places that missiles, ejector seats, and other things that have thrusters but lack repulsorlifts or inertial compensators follow standard "keep going in a straight line until you hit something" physics, so it's definitely not just a case of Star Wars not following normal physics at all.


Mord wrote:
The best I can come up with is this: in the Star Wars galaxy, computers are just not very good relative to 2017 Earth, in many of the ways that 2017 Earth excels. Networked systems are virtually nonexistent; information security and authentication technologies are apparently absent; long-distance wireless data transfer is limited to audio, still images, and audio with wavy, flickering monochrome holographic projection; computer targeting assistance looks like Asteroids at best. And we're talking about top of the line military hardware.


This isn't precisely true. The Imperial HoloNet connects every planet in the Empire (and quite a few outside it) with a real-time network of data transmissions through hyperspace, and many references exist to encoding data with Rebel or Imperial ciphers, rotating out-of-date encryptions, code cylinders providing security access for Imperial officers, and the like. So networking and security exist and are widely implemented, but they mostly exist in the background.

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In Rogue One, accessing and transmitting a few GB (or TB?) of technical readouts required hauling a physical disk out of storage and slotting it into a planetary-scale radio dish just to get the broadcast into low orbit. The contents of which then had to be saved to a floppy disk and passed around by hand while playing keepaway from Darth Vader. And then jammed in an R2 unit and the events of Star Wars.


This didn't necessarily happen because they required a planetary-scale transmitter to get the plans to orbit; rather, there happened to be a planetary-scale transmitter nearby that they could use to get the plans to orbit, and no one had a datapad or the like handy that could read the data, decrypt it, and transmit it in a reasonable amount of time. (Why they didn't is a separate issue; the infiltration mission was a spur-of-the-moment thing and the team seemed not to know what format the data would be stored in, so lacking the appropriate specialized equipment seems reasonable.)

Also keep in mind that the Empire likes its sensor- and comms-jamming technology to the point that in RotJ it can selectively interfere with entire fleets' worth of sensors without them noticing the attempt and comm-jammers are a standard feature on speeder bikes, and the shield around Scarif was said to block high-density transmissions when usually planetary shields don't block comms, so the transmitter dish could also have been used because it was the only thing able to punch through any jamming present.

As to why the data was stored on disks that got passed around, well, it's the same reason that the military air-gaps secure computers and uses paper copies and USBs instead of sending everything over the internet: it's much easier to decrypt information sent like that (particularly if you compromise the routing infrastructure) than to compromise physical media, and you have better control over and knowledge of who gets to handle that data.

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If you had the scale of computing power available in some hard sci-fi settings, you would have fleet battles waged across millions of km of empty space, with kinetic kill weapons and asteroids being flung at appreciable fractions of the speed of light. The Death Star would never have been a thing, because you would just give some floating rock a well-aimed push to make it into a mass extinction event.

You could try to do things like that in the SW galaxy, but you would not be able to hit anything smaller than a planet. Even then, the calculations would take relatively huge amounts of CPU time and manpower. And if you missed and hit something you didn't want to hit... "Sorry guys, I was aiming for Alderaan but hit Coruscant. My bad." Not to mention the fact that it appears the galaxy is not very well mapped, so you would be firing without certain knowledge of anything between you and your target.


On the other hand, navigational computers on civilian freighters can do all the complicated astrophysics calculations necessary to map a route from one side of the galaxy to the other while avoiding all hazards in realspace and hyperspace in only a few minutes, so they presumably could do those sorts of calculations, they just don't, for whatever reason.

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So, things are done at speeds and ranges humans can interact with using their unaided senses because they just don't have the ability to do things any better.

[...]

In defense of SW computing technology, they have artificial intelligence cheap as free in addition to whatever is needed to make hyperdrives and hypermatter reactors work.


My theory on why Star Wars tech is the way it is is a combination of two factors: incompletely-understood ancient technology and incredibly powerful AI. It's by no means official, so feel free to disregard it and laugh at me for being dumb.


Here's what we know: The original hyperdrives were developed by the Rakatan Infinite Empire, a highly-advanced civilization whose technology was powered by (and partly functioned using) the Dark Side of the Force. After the Infinite Empire fell ~25,000 years before A New Hope, Humans and Duros engineers were said to have "discovered ways of working around the Force-attuned components of the Rakata technology and produced their own version of the hyperdrive," and the technology spread throughout the galaxy from there.

Not "reverse-engineered the functionality of" and not "independently developed technology based on what they knew of" the original tech, but worked around the problems, presumably leaving the technology mostly intact and not touching anything they didn't have to. Modern movies-era hyperdrives work on the same principles, and at no point over those many millennia did someone come up with a new and improved method of entering hyperspace. Heck, canonically no one knows how ships slow down to exit hyperspace, they just sorta...do it.

The mass shadow issue with hyperdrives is similar. Two other ancient races built a Stargate-like system of gates through hyperspace (also incorporating Force-based technology, interestingly enough) that functioned just fine on a planet's surface, well within gravity wells, and Centerpoint Station (another ancient creation by a highly-Force-sensitive species) could fire a repulsor beam through hyperspace which, again, could originate and terminate within gravity wells; however, modern hyperdrives won't function within a mass shadow due to safety limiters, and turning off the safety limiters to jump within a mass shadow anyway will blow your ship to smithereens. And when the Empire was developing Interdictor cruisers, it didn't do so by directly interfering with hyperspace travel (which would be a superior method if the mechanics of hyperspace travel were well-understood), but by generating mass shadows to fool hyperdrive safety governors.

This all points to a civilization that's very good at building, using, and incrementally improving upon hyperdrive technology, but doesn't really understand it at a fundamental level. Same with blaster technology, which was also mostly reverse-engineered from Rakatan tech; a Rakatan security droid's blaster was considered top-of-the-line during the KotOR era, over 22,000 years after it was built. Same with cloaking technology, where ancient Stygium-crystal-based cloaking devices (Stygium crystals are also Force-attuned, by-the-by) were superior to the Imperial era hybridium-based cloaking devices, being more compact, more energy-efficient, and more user-friendly (in that you could see out of them instead of being blinded yourself).

And same with droids, which leads into my other point. In Star Wars, leaving a droid alone and un-memory-wiped for long enough means that it will develop a distinct personality and become more independent and more capable. Their programming is self-modifying, and this makes them extremely dangerous to a society reliant on droid labor. Droids with "advanced sapience," I guess you'd call it, like R2-D2 can easily slice through military-grade encryption, take over ships and other droids, and so forth. Hence the mandatory memory wipes for droids every so often.

Why not just build droids so that they don't do that? Presumably because they can't. We never see any individuals make a droid completely from scratch, just assemble one from existing parts (most importantly using an existing droid "brain"). Droids are made by automated factories, which are made by construction droids, which are made by automated factories, and so on all the way back to droid manufacturing planets like Mechis III that have been pumping out droids since the early Old Republic days. And no one really knows who got the process started, nor does anyone bother having more than a token non-droid presence on such planets, preferring to leave everything up to whatever intelligence controls the manufacturing facilities. It's all probably hackishly pseudo-reverse-engineered from ancient Force-dependent tech like everything else.


So you have a society where technology has been incrementally improving as best it can be without anyone really understanding the fundamental principles, in a galaxy where maybe they can't understand said fundamental principles--imagine if 99.99% of scientists and engineers just couldn't learn or work with quantum mechanics and all attendant technologies like CPU construction, and only the ones who were "Physics-sensitive" like Einstein or Turing could do anything with them, through inspiration by "the will of the Physics"!

You can't dramatically increase the range of blaster-based weaponry to facilitate long-range precision warfare under Human control, because blaster tech has already been pushed as far as it can go, and shield tech has as well so you're stuck with a frustratingly slow arms race.

You can't entirely computerize your military spacecraft because a group of sufficiently-independent and -intelligent droids could come along and suborn the whole fleet, or the entire fleet could be jammed and blinded with no known countermeasures.

You can't replace your starfighter pilots with drone starfighters and your ground troops with combat drones, because the last time someone tried that the drones started saying "Roger roger!", developing sarcastic senses of humor, and going rogue.

You can't have a well-defended central control computer that can resist such takeover attempts and coordinate the rest of your computerized fleets remotely through a hardened network, because (A) that also failed spectacularly before and (B) the jamming problem again. Plus, your very own central control computer might become too sentient and hijack itself, and wiping your entire fleet's databanks daily or weekly to keep that from happening simply isn't feasible.

It's basically like the "can't have complex networks because Cylons can hack in and take over from the outside" problem from Battlestar Galactica, crossed with the "can't have anything approaching real AI because they'll gain sapience and take over from the inside" problem from Mass Effect...except that the Galactica can also awaken as a Cylon and even the navigation VIs on the Normandy can spontaneously develop into true AIs.

So everyone is forced to rely on tried-and-true manual technology over automated repulsorcraft, human senses over computer analysis, living breathing people in barely-computerized spacecraft over autonomous drone starships, because they know none of those will go rogue. Everyone focuses on eking out that tiny 0.1% improvement in blaster ranges or data compression or whatever, adding a tiny brick to the massive monument that was the hand-me-down technology from ancient civilizations. Everyone desperately keep on top of the memory-wipe schedule for their droids and hope that the ones who develop sapience are nice people (and not like, say, EV-9D9 who gained sapience and promptly decided to modify other droids to be able to feel pain and then torture them to death, or IG-88 who gained sapience and then tried to make armies of itself) who don't want to bring galactic civilization crashing down around their ears.
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tussock
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

An explanation that makes some sense, is that the ship drives are not rockets, they are space folders, the light out the back is a small ion stream venting the fuel reaction products, but they're not particularly energetic.

So there is very little change in momentum, you're almost not accelerating at all, you're just changing your position in space. And changing the vector on that change in position is tricky and prone to crashing into peace moons if you lose navigation.

When your engines get switched off, you return to default momentum and basically stop, or rather don't stop and continue orbiting.

If you get impacted with something heavy, it does change your momentum and spin, and that's difficult and time consuming to correct because you don't have rockets. See Darth's interceptor at the first peace moon. A space folder that's spinning above a certain rate can't function at all, which is why they all turn so slowly.

The reason torpedoes do more damage at long range is then they are totally rockets and can increase penetration depth before exploding the longer they accelerate for.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Emerald wrote:

So you have a society where technology has been incrementally improving as best it can be without anyone really understanding the fundamental principles, in a galaxy where maybe they can't understand said fundamental principles--imagine if 99.99% of scientists and engineers just couldn't learn or work with quantum mechanics and all attendant technologies like CPU construction, and only the ones who were "Physics-sensitive" like Einstein or Turing could do anything with them, through inspiration by "the will of the Physics"!


Einstein refused to accept Quantum Physics until his dying breath, including his famous phrase of "god does not play with dice" (because he wanted the universe to be 100% deterministic). Turing as far as I know never cared about Quantum Physics at all, he was dedicated to pure mathematics and his first "computer" was a very long way from CPUs as we know it.

As a matter of fact, you could probably say that in the real world 99.99% of scientists and engineers indeed don't really know how quantum mechanics work, because that shit is hard, counter-intuitive, and still being researched. There was even that specialist saying that if you're studying quantum physics and your head does not hurt, you're doing it wrong.

However the few people who really understand quantum physics do pass their processed results to the other scientists/engineers who can then build pratical stuff with it, even if they don't understand the core of what it makes it work.
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In Interregnum I proposed that the "reactionless" drive present on all craft is a hyperspace impeller system. It spins in hyperspace giving you thrust in real space. It's basically an awkward propeller, which is why ships move like things with awkward propellers move, like boats and planes in WW2, not like Vipers in BSG with fancy retrojets and all that.

Which is also why you have a "top speed", because once you're going however fast (based on your ship) you hyperspace propeller can't thrust any harder against your hyperspace drag. As the forces cancel out, you just stay at top speed. Which is also why you slow down as you cut your engines (which is what happens in the flight sim games).
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I find tussock's and lokathor's technobabble explanations pretty reasonable. They don't immediately fall apart on first glance and explain the setting pretty well, which is all you really want from them.

The idea of star wars tech as an unmagicked evolution of old magitech is pretty cute. Though I wonder what the implication would be on the setting if we had, say, great computer power and high capacity channels. What would change and what would stay the same? It's funny because I just remarked yesterday that ever since the advent of common broadband internet it became more and more funny to watch the plot of the original star wars, which was "we have to move this physical hard drive from point a to b without it getting taken away".
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Lokathor
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, you see, interstellar transmissions are very low quality in star wars because the medium that they transmit through is also the medium that all the ships are flying through.

Yeah, that's totally it.
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Emerald
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
Emerald wrote:

So you have a society where technology has been incrementally improving as best it can be without anyone really understanding the fundamental principles, in a galaxy where maybe they can't understand said fundamental principles--imagine if 99.99% of scientists and engineers just couldn't learn or work with quantum mechanics and all attendant technologies like CPU construction, and only the ones who were "Physics-sensitive" like Einstein or Turing could do anything with them, through inspiration by "the will of the Physics"!


Einstein refused to accept Quantum Physics until his dying breath, including his famous phrase of "god does not play with dice" (because he wanted the universe to be 100% deterministic). Turing as far as I know never cared about Quantum Physics at all, he was dedicated to pure mathematics and his first "computer" was a very long way from CPUs as we know it.

As a matter of fact, you could probably say that in the real world 99.99% of scientists and engineers indeed don't really know how quantum mechanics work, because that shit is hard, counter-intuitive, and still being researched. There was even that specialist saying that if you're studying quantum physics and your head does not hurt, you're doing it wrong.

However the few people who really understand quantum physics do pass their processed results to the other scientists/engineers who can then build pratical stuff with it, even if they don't understand the core of what it makes it work.


Yep, you're right about all that; my analogy was poorly-expressed.

I was trying to get across that if all the people working on technology based on advanced science (quantum mechanics and CPU design) can't understand it on a theoretical level because they're not "Physics-sensitive" and all the people who can understand it can't help with the technology because they don't want to believe it (Einstein) or don't care about the practical bits (Turing), then you'll get technological stagnation, like how the only Force-sensitives you run into are the Jedi and Sith (who care more about spiritual matters than advanced technology, aside from hand-me-down stuff like lightsaber construction), various primitive Force adepts (who don't get advanced technology in general), and random Force-sensitive people throughout the galaxy (who probably don't believe in the Force, and if they do they don't get any training), leaving the actual scientists and engineers without a full understanding of the tech.

But I kinda left that hanging halfway and didn't complete the thought, so, my bad. Blush

Surgo wrote:
Though I wonder what the implication would be on the setting if we had, say, great computer power and high capacity channels. What would change and what would stay the same? It's funny because I just remarked yesterday that ever since the advent of common broadband internet it became more and more funny to watch the plot of the original star wars, which was "we have to move this physical hard drive from point a to b without it getting taken away".


Well, the point about using physical media when you can't trust the distribution channels still holds. The Empire controls the HoloNet that lets you transmit data between different star systems, and intercepting orbit-to-ground transmissions and determining their source and destination is fairly common (the Empire was able to intercept a tightbeam transmission from Rebel spies to the Tantive IV, before Rogue One retconned them to just being there and knowing it happened, and the Rebel comms equipment on Hoth was able to pick up a transmission from a presumably-designed-to-be-stealthy probe droid miles away from the main base), so if you're moving secret plans around and don't want the Empire to find where you're sending them to, physical media makes sense.

It's very much like the internet situation in North Korea. The internet infrastructure is government-controlled and -monitored, internet-capable computers use their own custom operating system and are carefully tracked both physically and digitally, the sites you can visit are all government-approved, and bad things happen if you try to send anything the government doesn't approve of; you can set up pirate radio stations to talk to the outside world, but that carries severe penalties, the government is constantly looking for them, and you're not sending multiple gigabytes of data over a hacked-together radio set.

Anyone trying to send details of the "Death Star plans" (the North Korean missile test program) to "Yavin IV" (a destination in South Korea) would be much better served stealing a hardcopy version of the plans (or download them onto a USB, if they have access to that, I have no idea) and having "Princess Leia" and "R2-D2" (other sympathizers) try to smuggle them across the border in the "Tantive IV" (whatever good means they have of getting defectors across the border, again I have no idea what those might be).

Lokathor wrote:
Well, you see, interstellar transmissions are very low quality in star wars because the medium that they transmit through is also the medium that all the ships are flying through.

Yeah, that's totally it.


Sending real-time hologram data to ships many star systems away through nebulae and other interstellar interference over the HoloNet is like trying to play a VR multiplayer game in a rural area over satellite internet in a thunderstorm. Wink Or, heck, even something simpler like a group Skype call over crappy wifi; you're going to get lots of lag, visual artifacts, and dropped calls unless it drops the resolution quite a bit, so the low quality makes sense.
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 2:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, I don't buy that bit of mindcaulk at all. Once they know it's gone, you're better off beaming it away to thousands of different endpoints if that technology is there.

I'm wondering if aside from making the plot of the first Star Wars movie obsolete, it would have any effect on the setting itself.
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Surgo wrote:
Yeah, I don't buy that bit of mindcaulk at all. Once they know it's gone, you're better off beaming it away to thousands of different endpoints if that technology is there.

I'm wondering if aside from making the plot of the first Star Wars movie obsolete, it would have any effect on the setting itself.


You're not thinking about how a totalitarian regime deals with data breaches. If the Rebel Alliance had spammed the holonet with millions of copies of the death star plans ala wikileaks the Empire would have flagged the files and tracked anyone who accessed any copy ever as an enemy of the state, hunted them down, and killed them (in the EU formulation the entire planet of Topwara was made an example of and millions were tortured for decades just because one relay station had passed on the plans). It would have been a huge act of self-sabotage on the part of the Rebellion even if the Empire could never have tracked all the iterations. Additionally, the Death Star only remained vulnerable so long as the data breach remained contained. If the Empire recognized that a readout of the plans was widely available they would have parked the thing behind a giant fleet until they'd made absolutely sure there were no issues. Leia very specifically used the plans as bait to lure the Death Star out (Rogue One actually makes this make more sense because it implies the Rebellion knew beforehand that the station was vulnerable and wasn't just making the galaxy's biggest gamble) - and Tarkin even mentions just how much of a risk is being taken during New Hope.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You could also explain a lot of things by having completely incapable people in charge who only follow rule of cool:

"Sir, I think our strategies and tactics are completely outdated, with the technology we have we could..."
"... Build a huge starship that could blow up planets?"
"Sure, but I was thinking more of"
"Sorry, but I can't think of anything better than a huge starship that can blow up planets."

"So we've done your planet destroying laser. It starts a reaction that will completely destroy the planet in a few hours"
"Can it be done in a few seconds?"
"That would require far more energy for very little gain"
"But it can be done?"
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2017 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You're just shifting the question: why are the dunderheads in charge? We're running an empire that's willing to commit genocide, the practically-minded lieutenants would have the feebleminded generals "tripped over a mouse droid" into one of the numerous bottomless pits with no railings that litter their ships.
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