Patrol guidelines

Putraack's picture
Putraack
May 8, 2011 - 12:00pm
I was trying to think through what a patrol might look like for the Osprey. We know they go out for 4 days, then 2 days back at the station. How many customs inspections might they be doing in that time? How long might that take? Why am I sweating such minor details?

Some givens:
- There are (at the start of WoWL) 3 active ships in the militia, soon to grow to 5. - There are 4 common FTL routes to other systems, so 3 ships seem a bit outnumbered. I don't think that all ships get inspected away from the station, some are checked there.
- a freighter with 1 ADF will need (if my numbers are right) 2 million km to slow down from .01c to dock with the station. One with 2 ADF will need half as much, ADF 3 1/3 as much, and on down the line. So we could have ships popping out anywhere between 2mkm and 400kkm from the planet and station. Ships with higher ADF are possibly high-speed couriers.
- Sensors on the base or patrolling ships can see 30kkm-50kkm.
- Somewhere I picked up the number that a ship would be coming into the system every 100-200 minutes. If there are 2 duty ships, then each should expect to be carrying out inspections every 3-6 hours.

Here's what I think happens.
- There is a shell of unmanned sensor remotes, about 600kkm from the planet's orbit. These are monitored by Clarion Station (and Fortress Redoubt). Clarion Station may use these to vector patrolling ships towards incoming vessels. The CSM probably also has an unarmed system ship to service these remotes, which might also serve as radio relays for communications to ships and stations.
- The Marines maintain 2 ships on duty, the 3rd is at the station for crew rest and maintenance. The 2 duty ships station themselves near the expected arrival paths of incoming ships, near the 1mkm line from the planet. That should give them plenty of time to intercept ADF 1 or 2 ships as they arrive.
- Faster ships might or might not be intercepted by the assault scouts/frigate farther out.  Their customs inspections happen at the Station.
- I expect there are separate wings/arms/rings of the Station for ships that have already been inspected, and those that have not. Those in the first category, having already cleared customs while still decelerating from the Void, can make more money for their owners. The others will be quarantined until they have been checked out.
- Which begs the question: what about passenger liners? Those would take a LOT longer to check out than a freighter. IMO, those can only be checked out by the frigate's larger boarding party, or by a large number of inspectors at the station. If done at docking, then only the passengers that are disembarking need be checked out?
- If it takes an hour or less to check out an incoming freighter, and less than an hour to intercept and dock to it, then our boarding parties are going to be looking at 4-6 inspections a day over their 4-day patrol, napping between inspections. As a GM, I feel like occasionally emphasizing crew fatigue, especially during the latter parts of their patrol.

Opinions? Questions?
Comments:

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
May 8, 2011 - 1:46pm
Asumming that ships are decelerating at 1g, they need 450 million km (3 AU) to slow down from 0.01 c.  And that would take 83.3 hours.  I would argue that unless the ship was specially designed, no ship with beings on board would decelerate at more than 1.5g for any extended period (i.e more than a few hours) as the strain on the passengers would be too great.

I figure most of the inspections occur nearby the stations for a variety of reasons.  First, volume of space to cover.  While there are only really only four general directions ships will be coming into the system from, there will be some scatter in the exact arrival positions and the further out from the planet you get the larger the volume you have to run around in.  These areas converge as you get closer in.

The second has to do with something the game doesn't actually ever talk about and that is the real world issue of matching velocities.  If a ship is coming in 0.01c and you try to intercept it out far from the planet, you have to get up to that speed yourself and be headed the same direction.  It could take days to match velocities with a ship.  Closer in, the relative velocities are smaller and you have an easier time matching the other ship's course, with it taking only hours instead of days.  So just basic physics says it makes more sense to do the inspections closer in.

That said, I suspect that every ship that comes into the system doesn't get inspected.  It's probably fairly random or just whatever ship happens to be nearby when a previous inspection is finished.  You never know when you jump in system if you're going to get boarded and inspected or not.
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iggy's picture
iggy
May 8, 2011 - 10:56pm
I would expect that the station is also acting like a present day air traffic control tower.  As ships come in they make contact (include the relays for distance), announce their velocity and course, state their purpose, cargo, and request a flight path.  Many regular ships are in order with their papers ahead of time and are directed straight to the station for customs there.  Some with manifests for controlled cargo (radio-actives, weapons, medicine, etc.) are possibly directed to intercept with an assault scout for boarding and inspection.  Then their are the pseudo-random spot inspections where the assault scout announces it's intentions to board and inspect at the last moment.

I would also expect the assault scouts to do fly around visual inspections for safety violations.  Think of a highway patrolman scanning cars on the freeway for lights, trailer hitches, etc.  Here the assault scout crew would be scanning for engine radiation levels, proper signal lighting, good order maneuvering thrusters, etc.  This is some times done as an excuse to get in close to a ship they are considering boarding.  This is a chance to test the crew, do they get nervous and run?  Do the act normal?

Also for safety reasons the allowable velocity around the station will be enforced.  No one wants a ship hitting another or the station.  And anything let loose from a fast moving ship near the station is a potential projectile.
-iggy

Putraack's picture
Putraack
May 10, 2011 - 12:15pm
Good points, I sit corrected on the distance to decelerate. Are Dralasites less affected by high G? Could an all-Dral crew make better speed?

Good point on patrolling closer to the station. Also on "ships with papers in order." I wonder if the priority for off-station inspections might be ships with irregular routings, that is, tramps.  A megacorp-owned ship, whose crew has been making the same three-system run for years, is far less likely to be searched than one that's never been in the system before. Also, one with an irregular flight profile (that is, not on the regular flight paths).

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 10, 2011 - 7:36pm
I'm betting, that with the number of ship arriving, and the few number of ships that they have to do the job as well as do all the other things that the militia must do that in reality a lot of review of computer records go on and assualt scouts get routed to do inspections where a flag shows up in the records.

I aslo think that some inspections must be done by shuttles close into the station and even some inspections happen after the ship docks- ships captained by a Royal Merchant Marine Captain or a Reserve or retired Royal Marine captain would be the ones allowed to dock before being inspected- since the Crown and reactivate any of these individuals in time of emergency they are expected to maintain certain standards and after all they should get some benefits from their service.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
May 19, 2011 - 4:13pm
Quote:
- The Marines maintain 2 ships on duty, the 3rd is at the station for crew rest and maintenance. The 2 duty ships station themselves near the expected arrival paths of incoming ships, near the 1mkm line from the planet. That should give them plenty of time to intercept ADF 1 or 2 ships as they arrive.


Assuming minimal staffing...which is how the WoWW module starts anyways. As the CRM grows (both in fleet size and staff) you can assign "relief crews" so that all craft can be active at any given moment, despite offtimes for regular crews.

Also take into account that not every inbound ship has a cargo that needs inspecting...liners, scientific/research craft, UPF patrol craft, empty freighters looking for loads, etc.
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rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
May 19, 2011 - 9:30pm
Let us not forget the Leo. While the assualt scouts are flitting everywhere we are never told what the frigate is doing. Most likely it is also doing patrols and inspections and probably a little faster since they have a bigger crew. One could even imagine the Leo handles the large ships while the assualt scouts handle smaller ships.

Also some ships might be passed straight on to the station for inspection. Maybe those with long standing contracts or mega-corp priviledges get a special pass and the marines only inspect the ships which are questionable.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 22, 2011 - 5:26am
rattraveller wrote:
Let us not forget the Leo. While the assualt scouts are flitting everywhere we are never told what the frigate is doing. Most likely it is also doing patrols and inspections and probably a little faster since they have a bigger crew. One could even imagine the Leo handles the large ships while the assualt scouts handle smaller ships.

Also some ships might be passed straight on to the station for inspection. Maybe those with long standing contracts or mega-corp priviledges get a special pass and the marines only inspect the ships which are questionable.


good point- Assault scouts get frieghters and the Leo gets big starliners
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Putraack's picture
Putraack
May 23, 2011 - 11:43am
Agreed, that's why I left the Leo out of my initial posting.

I had thought about relief crews, but I assume some kind of refueling & re-provisioning would be needed for the AS, so there would still have to be downtime for the ships in addition to the crew.

Putraack's picture
Putraack
May 25, 2011 - 12:16pm
TerlObar wrote:
I figure most of the inspections occur nearby the stations for a variety of reasons.  First, volume of space to cover.  While there are only really only four general directions ships will be coming into the system from, there will be some scatter in the exact arrival positions and the further out from the planet you get the larger the volume you have to run around in.  These areas converge as you get closer in.

The second has to do with something the game doesn't actually ever talk about and that is the real world issue of matching velocities.  If a ship is coming in 0.01c and you try to intercept it out far from the planet, you have to get up to that speed yourself and be headed the same direction.  It could take days to match velocities with a ship.  Closer in, the relative velocities are smaller and you have an easier time matching the other ship's course, with it taking only hours instead of days.  So just basic physics says it makes more sense to do the inspections closer in.


I'm revisiting this thread, as I get ready to write up a description for my players of what a patrol looks like.  I suspect the ships will get sent out to a point farther out from the station, on or near an approach vector of an incoming ship, where they will turn around and start to match velocities with a ship. Once they've met up with that one, boarding or not, they will be vectored to another one closer in. Say, they meet the first ship at one-half the distance, while decelerating past 0.005c and a second at 0.0033, and so on. Depending on how closely spaced the freighters are, they might get one or two, before being sent back out to the halfway mark to meet another one or two.

On the loop outbound might be a good time to send them to go look at anaomalous readings from the sensor buoys and the like. IIRC, the White Light System has a gas giant pretty far out, sending a ship to sweep the far side of that every once in a while might be a good idea.

Also, I like the suggestion that most inspections may just be visual/sensor scans plus radio interrogation, from close-up.

Finally, I missed earlier (but I like it now) the suggestion that retired/reserve RM captains in merchant service should get the red-carpet treatement. I suspect that should hold for nearly all systems.  Hmm, does Clarion have "most favored nation" relations with any other systems or planetary governments or militias?

I'm pretty convinced by now that a 1g decel/accel should be the standard for civilian ships in transit, especially ones in passenger transit, the more I read about the in-game effect of higher gs. Having said that, I bet that System Traffic Control would have data about ships that have higher accelerations, and may use that to smooth out the traffic flow, especially for docking and undocking. I am reminded of a scene in the movie Pushing Tin, where an air-traffic controller has one plane zoom past a pair of holding patterns at near-max speed. (I didn't like or finish watching the movie, but I did like that scene.) So, if there's a way to hold up some ships (send them around the planet or a moon to stretch their transit time?) while straightening out the queue, that sounds worthy to me.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
May 27, 2011 - 8:02pm
Putraack wrote:


Finally, I missed earlier (but I like it now) the suggestion that retired/reserve RM captains in merchant service should get the red-carpet treatement. I suspect that should hold for nearly all systems.  Hmm, does Clarion have "most favored nation" relations with any other systems or planetary governments or militias?



Think about it; you're assigned to inspect the ship captained by the now retired first captain you served under, Are you going to go over his ship with a fine toothed comb? I rather doubt it. Plus the whole brother in arms deali-o will kindly dispose you toward a veteran you didn't know personally. It's not a de jure policy but more of a de facto policy. Naturally if nagging little inconsistencies crop up then someone might just insist on doing more than the pro forma inspection of paper work and swapping of old war stories.

In my version of the setting, best seen in the time line article I wrote, I created a special link between the yazirian clan Knar-Kenda and the Royal Marines- a matter of honor and oath brought about by actions taking by then Captain Morgaine upon first contact with the yazirians. The same matter of oath and honor that let Admiral Morgaine quickly call all of the yazirian militia ships to the second common muster so quickly in order to respond to the sathar threat. Clan Knar-Kenda yazirians routinely volunteer for service in the Royal Marines and Royal Marine commissions recieve special recognitions from the Araks militia which is dominated by clan Knar-Kenda.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Putraack's picture
Putraack
May 28, 2011 - 6:17am
jedion357 wrote:

In my version of the setting, best seen in the time line article I wrote, I created a special link between the yazirian clan Knar-Kenda and the Royal Marines- ... Clan Knar-Kenda yazirians routinely volunteer for service in the Royal Marines and Royal Marine commissions recieve special recognitions from the Araks militia which is dominated by clan Knar-Kenda.


And I really liked that bit, so it's going into my game.