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Combat in Vast Worlds is fairly unique for a hardish sci-fi; it was originally designed for a game[1] so does not have the classics of very rapid computer controlled battles with ships millions of kilometres away from each other. Instead combat is close, fast paced but paced for humans, and there is a huge volume of fire flying between ships. In addition to that you have fighters for the sheer coolness factor[2], very close engagement ranges for maximum excitement and relatively low automation to ensure there’s a human factor to all these battle, not just machines duking it out.

Anyway, now I’m going to talk tactics, and maybe a little strategy, and the first thing any commander should know are the guns.

Weapons fall into four main categories: rayy, plasma, ballistic and missile. I’ve already talked about how they operate in the technology section so I’ll gloss over that and skip straight to the application.

Rayys as the long ranged beam weapon of Vast Worlds, they have incredible range, pinpoint accuracy and can do horrific amounts of damage if you give them enough time to burn through the armour. On the other hand, they have a pretty large cooling off period between shots and need to be kept steady on the target to actually be effective so this limits them to a medium to long range weapon, where they can still keep a bead on a ship, but aren’t overwhelmed by shorter ranged ships with a superior rate of fire.

They also suffer from the size of the gun. While they do not require extensive ammo stores or pipe work like other weapons they do have the longest barrel by a good margin and so are hard to turret, unlike more amorphous designs. This leaves Rayys as spinal mount weapons mostly, with other types dealing with the shorter ranges, but this does not mean they are ineffective, but best deployed with some strategic cunning.

Plasma weapons are a bit simpler. They have a very high damage output but due to the fairly unpredictable containment field they are hard to aim and so only really effective up-close and personal. There is also an issue with the shot dissipating due to the strong charge forcing apart the plasma, and the fact all that opposite charge has to go somewhere[3], so it is recommended you earth your ship before refuelling[4].

That said, they can melt through most armour in seconds, though do have a slight problem penetrating while the target’s undergoing decompression, and do cataclysmic damage if the target is not surge protected. Even so, they go through internal walls like tissue paper and it’s a common trick to target magazines for maximum effect. The best defence against plasma is to stay out of range, or simply not get hit by it.


[1] Which I’ll keep mentioning because it explains why a lot of the Vast World’s setting does what it does.

[2] Please remember I’ve given them an actual role beyond simply echoing current use before going ‘boo fighters’.

[3] More than a few plasma armed captains have been caught out by getting too close to their opponent and having a blot of lighting go through the hull.

[4] Given that earths tend to be either space elevators, or objects to massive for it to matter, this can actually be problematic on campaign.

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