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Gameplay Brainstorming (and a bit of nostalgia)
Ironwatsas
Until HWR comes out we can at-least think up something of what we want the mod to look like going forward. I've been playing around a bit with some of the old versions and each one has it's charms and little things that are appealing, as well as some things which aren't so nice.

v4.9 felt barely out of vanilla, save for some expanded ship descriptions. That being said, it might be a good model to look at for what Homeworld 1 era ships would look like, given the ol' work-over. Considering we have an abundance of custom HW2 era models to work with, and few for HW1.

v5 was the first mod version I ever actually played (I only played v4 retroactively to see what it was like), but it's largely blown out of the water by version 6.

v6 was probably my favorite version, since it had the right balance of ships (the novelty of wielding an Al-Khalid and Auvarnagal side by side was still amusing) and gameplay, although there are certianly some things about the physics v11 used that I enjoyed.

v7 was decent, but the thing that put me off about it was 1: We went too nuts with the ICA's, and 2: certain classic ships like the Lothringen weren't in it Sad

NGCS/PDS-AS was... interesting. But it really was too far removed from what HW2 is from my tastes. Nevertheless, it was very much a learning experience as far as how far we can push HW2's engine (how much of this applies to HW Remastered is yet to be seen).

v11 there are some good things, and some bad things. The good things are stuff like fully scripted missions (with NIS!), new duel, cataclysm backgrounds for Maps, newtonian physics, and battles which felt more dynamic (and often chaotic). The big downside here is we sort of came up with some rather... frankensteinian creations like that... thing that was two Vaygr shipyards stuck together, with dreadnaughts in the front, or that triple-vaygr/taiidan destroyer kind of thing. I also noticed some issues with frigates and larger ships where the physics would seem to cock out and send them flying all over the place.

The reason I'm looking all the way back to version 4 is because I really want us to cover a broader spectrum of Homeworld naval history from the HW1 era, through the events of Cataclysm and Homeworld 2, and the postwar environment (since HW1 and HW2 will be on the same engine in remastered, this will be possible). I'm starting to think something like v4 or v5's level of ship armament (but applied to Homeworld 1 ships), and some of v11's physics and combat intensity might be an interesting 'starting point', and the interlude would follow a path of conceivable technological development to the Homeworld 2 era to which we are familiar.

What are your guys' thoughts on this?
 
Sun Tzu
I never played v11. I did not find NGCS/PDS-AS playable, even if the concept was interesting.

I would suggest to revisit the v4-v7 state of PDS in the following order:

1) agree on the basic principles of the warfare
2) define races' military doctrine
3) on that basis decide which ships to retain and which extra ships we would need
4) put the stuff in game.

For steps 1 and 2 I do not mean to reinvent the wheel, there is already plenty of material in the mod; I mean we should have some firm guidelines to streamline the existing material and keep things consistent.

Re ships, I do not know how complex the HWR standards will be, but I doubt they will be much more complicated than before when I look at the official screenies. So if the importing process is similar to vanilla updating/creating PDS ships should be possible without using Frankensteinian methods.

Edit: this should be useful, to say the least: http://pds.homeworldaccess.net/downloads/ex_ffront/v6/PDS6.1-HiigaranNavyManual.pdf
Edited by Sun Tzu on 09-02-2015 13:02
 
Ironwatsas
Good thinking. We have tons of material on HW2 Hiigarans and Vaygr, which will probably only require minor changes. Extant models and equipment should be sufficient in that case.

The main thing is we need to properly codify the doctrines of the Homeworld 1 era Taiidan and Kushan (which I have a few ideas for), both pre and post Beast War. I'm considering Cataclysm canon, for the reasons that the war with the Beast would have been a major time of innovation, especially in the development of advanced point defenses, to fight off the swarms of infectious cruise missiles and generally increase the ranges of combat out of sheer necessity. Plus, a lot of cataclysm's technologies would feed into things like miniaturized DEWs (I.E. Pulse Ion Cannons and the Gatekeeper-type plasma repeaters), justifying their existence in a time prior to the reverse-engineering of Progenitor technology.

On the topic of DEWs, there is another thing I've thought of that we kind of overlooked in the past, but Mass Effect forced me to think about: Waste Heat.

If you remember in v7, we went nuts with the ICAs (especially on strike craft). My thoughts being heat disposal concerns would be the main limiting factor (along with power generation) as to how many DEWs you can cram onto a warship. Bigger ships like battle-cruisers would be less of a concern (even the vanilla Hiigaran battlecruiser has large structures on it's aft section, which appear to be heat exchanges or exhaust vents of some kind), and if you look closely, Hiigaran Ion Frigates actually vent steam (presumably some kind of coolant like liquid nitrogen) when firing. Heck, even the original HW1 Taiidani Ion Cannon frigate had grillwork aft of the Conning Tower which I belive was also some kind of heat sink.

That's definitely something to consider in the way load-outs are planned. Mass drivers and cold-gas launched missiles probably wouldn't put out too much waste heat, the real killers would be stuff like Ion Cannons, Pulsars, Plasma Weapons, and the reactors to power all of these things. The logistics of heat management definitely need to be taken into consideration and expanded on.
 
Sun Tzu
I agree that DEWs should be limited by a cooling time and/or effectiveness, especially for mid- or long-range engagements. Assuming that the real distance between spaceships is much bigger than HW's representation, powerful long- or mid-range DEWs would also imply colossal amounts of energy.
 
Ironwatsas
That's a safe assumption for the purposes of fluff. Engagements between spacecraft would happen at "realistic" velocities and distances.

Gameplay wise, we'll probably stick in the neighborhood of what we already know and love from vanilla HW2 (or at-least v11). Fluff wise, most of the game'y ui elements one would see come from the fact that the player is the commander of the fleet, looking through some manner of holo-display, at a very simplified representation of the battlefield. This allows him to make quick decisions and his actions are then fed down the chain of command via computers and officers and whatnot, allowing him to focus on overall command. A very clean, no-frills interface.

The limitations of DEWs are something we need to consider seriously however. For instance, I love the classic Tulwar (the v5/v6 version with the pulsars and plasma cannon), since it looks really cool blowing through an enemy squadron, the voice acting was appropriate, and it's a worthy successor to the Somtaaw MBF (which itself is something to consider). Unfortunately, by the above logic, the heat build up from all those pulsars going off would overheat and cook poor yasotay and his penguin minions (he did the VO for the Tulwar, right?), so we'd need to find some way to reconcile that.
 
Sun Tzu
Well there is always the possibility to play with cooling off timing, ie allowing powerful rounds but with longer cool off periods between them. That would demand intensive micromanagement, but iirc it was already more or less the case with Tulwars.

We should perhaps also look for the consistency between the ship power and DEW mountings. A ship like Tulwar that is both small and using simultaneously multiple highrate effective DEWs might be over-the-top if we try to keep things pseudo-realistic.
Edited by Sun Tzu on 10-02-2015 15:57
 
Homdax
Guys, got this from Carl at RB. Maybe you should send him a personal invite.

Quote

The problem really from the manual and in game UI felt like:

The manual felt very fluff centric the exact purpose of the mod in altering the gameplay was abundantly unclear. If it wasn't for the name i'd have been completely clueless. The manual was also drenched in modern military acronym's and custom alphabet soup. This is fine if your sole audience is military types. But for me it made figuring out what did what very difficult. Sure there was a nice glossary, but having to jump back and forth made things hard and even then understanding what a specific ships specific gameplay purpose was, wasn't easy.

This continued into the game itself. Most ships where just festooned with subsystem weapons with very little commonality between them, (i.e. lots and lots of different types on a single ship). On it?s own lots of weapons isn?t bad but the sheer number and lack of clarity of purpose in their designations didn?t help. I?ll go into this in a lot more detail in my suggesting stuff as it?s complicated. The result was however that I felt unable to look at a ships guns and know what it?s intended game purpose was. This carried through to the actual fighting as well. It was very hard to tell what a ship was actually doing because of the sheer amount of stuff flying around.



Suggestions time:

Break the manual down. By all means include long fluff blurbs. Even put a full technical readout with specific armament details like caliber and technical alphabet soup designations. But either put that in a separate section of the manual after the gameplay centric stuff. Or have it as a subsection after the main ship entry. Same thing with ships names. Fine have a full advanced designation for each ship class. But keep the in game and gameplay segment name to a shortened simple name, (to go through the cap ship example from the copy of the manual I just dug up: ( Fleet cruiser, Escort Cruiser, Monitor, Strike Cruiser, Battle Cruiser, Command Cruiser, Patrol Cruiser, Auxiliary Carrier, Shipyard, Fleet Carrier, Battlestar)

The main ship entry doesn?t need much other than the name and the gameplay important data. Namely, when, where, and how, you should use the ship and what if any ship types it excels at fighting and what if anything it?s weak against, (though with so many ship types it?s probably going to be necessary to specialize to some degree to avoid role overlap and subsequent obsolesce issues).


A similar point carries through to gameplay. Stick to the short name?s and try to get a version of the basic data into the ships in game UI stuff. Equally keep the number of subsystem weapons on a ship as low as possible. Currently you have a situation where your either far enough away visually the subsystems weapons don?t show so you can?t see how that very important aspect is going. Or so close you can but your screen is totally overloaded with icons making keeping track of things much harder. Ideally remastered will have the script support to let you do this a different way if you really want to keep it, (I?ve got a rough concept pinging around if you want to hear it).

At the same time cut down again on the alphabet soup in the designation of weaponry. A player don?t really care, (outside of fluff aspects), weather he/she is firing a 1200mm railgun or a 650mm railgun. What they do care about is what it can do. Use appropriate simpler designators, (I?d recommend: Light = Anti-Fighter and/or Corvette, Heavy = Anti-Capital and/or Frigate, Medium = Multi=purpose), so a player can look ata weapon name and know what it does.

In a similar vein take a cue from vanilla HW2 and make sure you use easy to identify FX combinations. For example despite both being kinetic cannon the FX of Gunship Corvette turrets and Destroyer turrets is very distinctly different. Don?t use virtually identical FX for weapons with two different purposes. In the event that you DO have two hard to tell apart FX. Don?t mix them on any single ship classification, (e.g. Vaygr assault frigate fire can be hard in a messy battle to tell apart from the heavier cannon fire of destroyers. But because one is a capital ship and the others a frigate a very cursory glance at where it?s coming from tells you what it does). In short look at each weapon type, and it?s purpose and consider what the FX should look like and what other weapons might look similar. Then sit down and consider which ship class which weapon should be associated. Once you have a weapon type for each class for each purpose, (or more than one if you really need it). A similar thing applies to the weapons mounts themselves. Try to keep the distinctive. As an example you have several grades of missiles system that are mounted as boxes on the outside of the hull looking like bolted on IRL MLRS systems. Presumably the different sizes have different purposes but it?s hard to tell at a glance. So as an example. Make the heavy anti-capital stuff be built in recessed hull mounts a la the Vanilla Vaygr Battlecruiser and Destroyer Missile launchers. Make the Light Anti strikcraft stuff be mounted in rounded turreted box launchers, and make the mid level stuff in the current squared off un-turreted bolt on launchers.

Make sure all of the above (in simple gameplay specific terms), is spelled out in the manual in say a weapon recognition category, (Grouped. First group should be weapons that do;t vary based on weather their mounted on strikecraft, frgates, or capital ships, sub grouped by purpose (light medium heavy again). Second Group should be all Capital Ship specific stuff, (again with sub-groups). Third Group should be frigate?s, (again with sub-groups), and so on).


Basically a big part of PDS?s issue is Info control. It throws so much info, (both fluff Jargon and otherwise), in both text and visuals that it?s virtually impossible to quick glance reference anything. It?s needs a series pare down to simpler terminology and discreet separation of concepts and FX. (and now I?m doing it here in the TDLR. Yay).

I can not properly evaluate this input, but you can, and perhaps move it where it should be, if needed.
king-o'da'bigfile
 
Sun Tzu
I agree about the FX/looks part. I guess the reason why it was not done like that in the first place is simply because Tel and the rest of the team (incl. me when I was in) was not so skilled in that area and focused on making stuff without waiting that someone made special graphics/fx.

For the rest I totally disagree. The beauty of PDS is that it is not just another vanilla mechanic revamp. No simplistic rock-paper-scissors and the game mechanics is to be discovered by reading the pseudo-militaristic fluff and playing the mod. If you don't want to make the effort or don't like the pseudo-militaristic jargon, then PDS is not for you. I remember some words about the mod on the Rakrent site: PDS mutates daily and it looks more like a way of life than a game mod. Tel may not be here anymore but let's revive that spirit, that's where the fun is.

While we are waiting for HWR, something useful would be to have a database of existing weapons and, if we have the time, ships. That would help when porting to HWR or redevelop things. I could make some script to import weapon data in Excel.
Edited by Sun Tzu on 10-02-2015 17:22
 
EatThePath

Quote

Sun Tzu wrote:
While we are waiting for HWR, something useful would be to have a database of existing weapons and, if we have the time, ships. That would help when porting to HWR or redevelop things. I could make some script to import weapon data in Excel.


Research underway.
AKA Siber
 
Homdax
Awesome
king-o'da'bigfile
 
Ironwatsas
Carl has a point, sometimes (more apparent with mods like v11) it's not obvious what a ship is supposed to do, and individual roles have become blurred and difficult to tell apart in the grand scheme of things.

However, I do agree with Sun Tzu: The Jargon and the Hull designators and Fluff and whatnot is what makes PDS what it is. The Ships are based around the Fluff, for the most part (there may be exceptions to the rule, considering reconciling Cataclysm and all). It really depends on who built the ship, for what purpose, and what their idea of space naval warfare is. That much ain't changing.

For instance, HW1 Taiidan and 1E Vaygr ships tended to be heavily single purpose. Any point defenses or add-ons tended to be to support that design purpose (or keep the ship alive long enough to achive it), Hiigarans tended to be the opposite: Their ships being multirole platforms designed for combined-arms warfare and battlespace dominance.

That being said, ships would broadly fall under particular roles. I.E. An Ion Cannon Frigate is still going to be a dedicated artillery piece, a ship like the Bloodhound is still going to be mostly an anti-strikecraft gunship. The lines between fighters and corvettes are sort of blurry at this point, but in general, Corvettes would have more similarities toward fighters then frigates due to size, maneuvering profiles, and lower endurance. But this shouldn't come at the expense of a realistic conception of what a given ship should logically be capable of doing.

Overall, the nature of fleet setup is going to probably have more in common with v6 or v7 than v11.
 
carl
First let me be clear I?m not saying you have to go for some rock paper scissors setup, (though not doing that in the HW2 engine is kinda hard). The point is your making a game in effect, (since it?s a Total Conversion). That means everything you put in game has to have a gameplay purpose. You need to sit down figure out what the core aspects of gameplay are and the core aspects of how that will mean various things fight each other and what that means in terms of core roles. (In the same way modern surface warships are designed for some combination of the Surface to Surface Naval role, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Role, the Air Defence Role, and the Land Attack role).

Whilst you can use logisitics to make different class groups, (fighters vs corvettes vs frigates vs cap ships), share roles. There?s no point having 2 different frigates which share identical roles or identical role combinations because then it become a case of cost efficiency. The more cost efficient will be used and the less efficient ignored, once people figure out which is which of course.

A ship doesn?t need to follow some kind of rock/paper/scissor setup. But it does need a clearly defined gameplay purpose that separates it from other ships within the same class group to ensure it remains a viable gameplay piece.

The Fluff. Gah I think again some misunderstanding, also I?m not really sure how to address this specifically as I?m not sure how well my initial point came across in clarity terms so let me try go over that aspect again.

First and foremost I AM NOT saying get rid of the fluff. The key point is that however you get the information across it needs to be informative. My style is to separate the style, (pardon the pun), from the substance. That is separate the fluff and the gameplay info out into sections. I can give a worked example of this using my WIP kith Somtaaw document, (I?ll need time to whip up ship fluff entries as I?m still writing the systems fluff ATM, but I?ve got enough of this worked out already that I can give such entries with a bit of typing lead time).

However even if you want to do it through fluff you?ve got to avoid the trap you?ve already fallen into the version of the manual I have. Basically you?ve engaged in the tech description equivalent of Purple Prose. The language is flowery as hell and describes all kinds of things, but it falls completely flat far too often in providing any kind of hard info. It?s all style no substance.

To give a couple of worked examples:

Quote

Arbiter III Fleet Cruiser [CF]

Arbiter III?s are heavily modernized versions of a hull design almost half a century old, but remain excellent ballistic weapon platforms. When deployed in a squadron, their compounding firepower can crush anything lesser than a battleship in a very short period of time. Practice safety in numbers ? an Arbiter operating without escorts is already dead. They also need to be thoughtfully positioned if one is inclined towards high-tempo operations. Being relatively sluggish in terms of tactical agility, it is very possible for enemy forces to isolate your mobile elements from your Arbiters much to their peril.


Ok so what have you told me that I need to know to know how to use them.

First a squadron can destroy anything less than a battleship. Cool except we don?t know how many constitutes a squadron, we don?t know precisely what counts as a battleship as nothing in the Higgaran Arsenal, (the only faction covered), is called a battleship. To boot we don?t know how a battleship compares to anything else so we?ve no means by which to judge it?s performance outside of squadron sized engagements.

Second, we know that Arbiters are in need of some form of escort. But what should be escorting them and/or what should they be escorted against. Again not the foggiest idea.

Third we know you need to be cautious in positioning them. Ok. But what does that mean, the specifics of positioning and it?s importance within the PDS game mechanics are never explained anywhere so again we can?t really say what that actually means.

At then end of the day we take away nothing that can actually be applied vs anything in game. It?s cool fluff but utterly uninformative about anything much at all. Even the fluff level info isn?t especially clear.


Quote

Linebacker VI-EC Flotilla Leader [FFL]

Indispensable as squadron leader in Bloodhound assault lances, making them virtually self-contained through extensive electronics warfare systems and sensor array. Pulse ion turrets and 45mm nose cannon are effective against a wide variety of targets and optimal in the fire support role.


First we?ve got a bunch of nice info about it making a good leader of a group of frigates of another type and that this is because of it?s electronic systems. However how exactly that translates to the real world is hard to say because there?s no info about what the presence of those systems actually means. We don?t know why it?s good to have it as a leader.

Second we have a sudden nice listing of armaments purpose. Yay. So we know their good general all purpose weapons. Good. Unfortunately you then go and bugger it up by mentioning a Fire Support Role. If there was any actual explanation of what the fire support role means you?d be okay. But with no explanation where once again left with questions.

Overall this entry is a bit better with at least 2 good pieces of info. But it still has numerous questions about what sections of the blurb mean. Worse still a look at the ship file shows it actually has quite a lot more different weapons systems than just the listed ones so if you see that in game as apposed to via digging through the files your going to be left questioning how accurate the fluff blurb is. Sure you expect maybe some extra light guns for dedicated PD work, but another type of AC, 2 types of missiles, and a plasma bomb launcher? That?s more armaments unmentioned than mentioned.


Again if you want I can use my existing Somtaaw work to produce alternative fluff filled descriptions that avoid this issue. The key though is avoid using a descriptive term without making sure you?ve been crystal clear in some fashion about what it the term actually means.
 
Ironwatsas
So basically you want me to tell you in layman terms how to use the ships and what the guns do, and put that in the ship descriptions in game? That can (and probably will) be done fairly easily.

The manual and most of the information you are referring to was written long ago by TelQuessir (like around PDS v6). Some revision is going to be necessary no matter how you slice it.

That being said, I don't want to put the kid gloves on too much, at the risk of watering down the Hardcore-Naval-Sim-feel of things, which is PDS' main selling point. Folks playing the mod should know or make the attempt to figure out what the hull classification symbols and basic terminology mean.

Just off the top of my head, ingame descriptions will probably have something along the lines of "Space Superiority (which translates into 'Shoot Enemy Fighters'Wink", "Close/Medium/Long Range Fire Support (typically some kind of artillery like Ion Cannon Frigates)", "Escort", "Electronic Warfare", etc, with a subsequent blurb describing some more in depth details. There's a lot of peculiarities about how naval ships work so the clear-cut designations of "Anti-fighter corvette" or "artillery frigate" don't quite cut the mustard for our purposes.

Quote

Again if you want I can use my existing Somtaaw work to produce alternative fluff filled descriptions that avoid this issue. The key though is avoid using a descriptive term without making sure you?ve been crystal clear in some fashion about what it the term actually means.


Yes, I'd like to see this so I have a good idea of what your ideas are.
 
carl
Okay I?m going to include the relevant stuff below in a moment but wanted to address a section of your post. Specifically the idea that your being realistic somehow with all the alphabet soup and Jargon. As someone who owns a number of reference materials and books containing various snippets of logs and transcripts, (not all naval mind Wink), including a re-print of a now declassified military version of Jane?s Ships. I can honestly say that PDS uses the jargon a lot more than the reference material?s or the Jane?s. At least in relation to the amount they use the full length versions or simplified terms. Your basically overloading the manual and game with a degree of Jargon that just doesn?t exist in reality, (i.e. the full length gets used more than the Jargon does in comparison).

Of particular note in terms of jargon overload is that currently PDS has 25 different types of hull designator, with no explanation of what most of those mean, (by that I mean as an example you?ve got a strike cruiser designation, but there?s nothing explaining how a strike cruiser differs from any other kind of cruiser). The current US Navy by contrast uses just 15, and several of those represent ship types that would cross apply to PDS anyway.

The closest easy to point to equivalent I can think of that looks closely in line with the Copy of Jane?s I?ve got would be the battletech wiki?s mech entries. It?s not a 100% match but it?s close enough. It?s not an exact match for my example below either, but it?s another reference point I?d suggest.

A bigger problem is that you have to remember that none of the players of this mod are going to have years of service in the HDF nor your encyclopaedic knowledge of the lore you?ve written. Basically be careful of the whole ?I know what I mean so you should too?. As someone with dyslexia and dyspraxia I suffer from this a lot and that?s mostly what the current PDS manual I have lying around seems to fall into. There?s huge sections that feel like they where written by someone with a clear vision of what they meant. But they really sucked at explaining that vision in terms someone without knowledge that wasn?t included in the manual could understand.

As far as the roles go. Like I said it?s fine to not use simplistic stuff, so long as you explain yourself. Look at the wiki?s list of active US navy ships for example, each hull number designation type has it?s own sub wiki page explaining what that type designator actually means.

Okay example time.



I?ll include the, (albeit still incomplete), systems section first, do note that the whole thing is written with vanilla HW2 in mind but should still demonstrate my point since you can replace more simplistic ?roles? with more complicated one?s, e.t.c.:

Quote

Kith Somtaaw Fleet Systems:

Technology advancements and changes:

Proliferation:


Despite Somtaaw fleet commands general efforts to keep at least some technological lead over other forces, both those of their enemies and those of the HDF, their commitments to their home-world and the inevitable capture of Somtaaw ships by their enemies from time to time has resulted in much of their technology becoming more widespread.

Somtaaw retains a slight technological lead over it?s nearest rivals in all the common areas of materials sciences, propulsion, and modular systems. But the lead is no longer as great as it once was. Their lead in micro craft technologies, defense field technologies, and their unique Helical configuration ion accelerators remains largely untouched, (though derivatives of these items have been put to use by others), and no other known space forces uses their advanced mating technologies on their ships.

Where possible the exact changes to specific units and technologies are listed below, however not all systems are covered.



New Technologies:

Slicer Missiles: The development of slicer missiles had been a dream of Somtaaw engineers ever since the early days of the sentinel program when a flight of those craft accidentally sliced one of the kith Somtaaw frigates in half. It was not however until 20 years ago with the beginnings of the rise of the Vaygr that the idea became practical as a weapon. Though Kith Somtaaw scientists had been able to produce a missile which carried a small field generator in the place of a warhead and make this field cover the nose of the missile, rendering it largely immune to defensive fire and allowing it to slice deep into an enemy vessel, completely oblivious of it?s armour. They had not yet found a way to cause the field to expand sufficiently to severely damage the internals of a vessel. The power requirements where too high and the field generators could only sustain such power levels for a few fractions of a second before burning out. Kith Somtaaw lacked the technology to overcome this deficit. They found the answer in a captured super heavy plasma lance from a Vaygr mining operation in the form of a novel explosive power generation system.

The result was the deadly slicer missile, now able to achieve a wide enough field to slice through significant hull area it proved devastating in initial combat trials and has quickly become the standard warhead for a variety of Somtaaw anti-capital and anti-frigate missiles, as well as the very large but equally devastating slicer bomb. Though to date no-one has been able to create a warhead variant small enough to fit to an anti-fighter or anti-corvette missile. The potential dual-purpose capability offered by such a missile is highly sought after, but currently unavailable.


Hiver Bays: Hiver Bays are a simple extension of the common Hive frigate design. Each is a small module that carries several Hive Drones on a series of docking ports. Such modules can easily be retrofitted to existing Somtaaw craft with littlie difficulty. Both the Kuun-Lan and the Fal-Corum where fitted with 2 small dorsal modules, each carrying 16 drones. When completed, the newly built command ship, the Clee-San also carries dual 32 drone modules. The warlock Class Carriers are fitted with a single module carrying 16 drones and the Archangel Dreadnaughts are fitted with dual 4 bay modules. The smaller shaman carriers where fitted with dual 8 drone module in a variety of positions, and the Chieftain ore processor has been experimentally fitted with a 4 drone capacity module in a ventral mounting also. The addition of these modules grants the ships fitted with them stronger built in anti-strike craft defenses, and as a consequence greatly reduces the amount of hanger space that must be dedicated to strike craft under normal operating conditions. In full war configuration it instead frees a greater percentage of the strike craft for offensive duties and guard duties in area?s away from the main ships.


Helical Array Ion Accelerators: Kith Somtaaw, uniquely amongst the Higgaran Kiths, and indeed all space faring races, continues to use helical accelerator arrays. The curved configuration has been found to inhibit the maximum velocity achievable, meaning more modern straight line accelerators are capable of higher single beam power outputs. But the Somtaaw helical system is far superior when used to feed several smaller weapons since it is able to accelerate a higher mass of ions at the lower velocities these weapons operate at. With marked volume reductions and efficiency improvements compared to equivalent mass/velocity straight line arrays as a result. The efficiency improvements also grant a far higher re-fire rate due to lower energy requirements. Kith Somtaaw has however been forced to abandon solid state turreting systems. The advent of ever faster strike craft has increased engagement ranges, and required tracking speeds significantly, and solid state turrets proved incapable of achieving sufficiently high precision and tracking rates in a single package. Thus forcing Kith Somtaaw to revert to more traditional physical turret designs.

Although Kith Somtaaw applies helical arrays to numerous weapons systems, the commonest use is to feed rapidly firing low power beam turrets mounted in multiples on frigates and larger craft. The resultant weapons closely resemble in performance characteristics, the large heavy pulsar turrets used by the HDF on their latest Battlecruiser design, (amongst others). However the natural advantages of Helical arrays means they are far more compact than traditional Pulsar turrets.

Pulsars: Whilst pulsar technology is heavily used by all Higgaran Kithad now, it was first developed and continues to be most heavily used by the Somtaaw. The Pulsar was initially developed around 50 years AHL, and came about because of a range of mixed issues brought about by the initial stages of the proliferation of Somtaaw technology. The main issue ultimately was the proliferation of Somtaaw?s Acolyte drive technology and post beast war developments to frigate drive, capital drive, super-capital drive, and related reactor technologies as a by-product of this. These opened the possibility of heavier ships with greater mass available for armor and weapons, and higher power outputs to power these new systems. Whilst Kith Somtaaw had possessed these advantages for some time they had not yet taken full advantage of them. True, they had used their newly developed abilities to upgrade their ships. But beyond the simple expedient of bulking up their ships armor, and upgrading a few weapons components they had not fully utilized it?s abilities. The Somtaaw?s own lack of true corvette class ships further hampered matters as it left them unaware of a fatal weakness that was developing until it was almost too late. Their enemies where now likewise upgrading the armor on all their ships, and developing an entire new range of dedicated space superiority fighters. In of itself this was not an issue. Many of these designs likewise found the newly thickened armor of their enemies nearly impervious to their weapons. However these same enemies quickly upgraded their Ion Frigates accelerators, and fitted Frigates with upgraded Kinetic Cannon, and new missile designs to deal with the implications of the new technology. This forced Kith Somtaaw to do their own upgrading. For the most part this represented few issues out of the ordinary in comparison to their enemies and allies. 2 problems stood out however.

First and foremost the Somtaaw had hit the physical limitations of their ion accelerator arrays. Whilst this had been predicted during initial development, no one had expected it to become an issue for more than a century, by which time they hoped to have developed an answer to the issue. Whilst the Deverish class frigates anti-strikecraft power was littlie affected, (the nature of anti-energy armor making it hard to bulk up on strikecraft, due to it being far more than a matter of adding extra mass), it?s effectiveness vs. enemy frigates all but disappeared.

Second, and far more problematic was the effect on the Acolyte. It?s missile suffered a major downgrade in capability, being rendered almost totally ineffective vs. frigates, and heavily degraded vs. corvettes. It?s dual multi-barreled mass drivers where also proving far too heavy. Now with it?s drive technology proliferating, the Acolyte lacked the sheer thrust to make up for it?s higher overall mass compared to conventional single gun interceptor designs.

Whilst ultimately a radical redesign of the acolyte would fix the Acolytes dogfighting issues, and in the process cement the acolyte as one of the premier space superiority fighters currently in service. Littlie could be done to return it to it?s full multi-purpose role, or to make it overly effective against corvettes. This left a huge hole in Somtaaw?s armory, one the Deverish was not fully prepared to handle. It?s fire rate, once adequate for providing supporting fire to acolyte groups, was no longer sufficient for main-line anti-strikecraft duties. Especially in light of the vastly reduced anti-frigate potential of the ship.

The answer however was not as simple as might be first apparent. Somtaaw choose to focus on attempting to increase rate of fire, and whilst this naturally required a lower per shot beam power, this did not lead directly to the Pulsar. Ultimately the problem lay with the density of the beams. The previous standard beams where of a relatively moderate duration of just over a second. This was the shortest duration Ion beam Somtaaw could then create. Anything less degraded accelerator efficiencies, effectively counteracting the beneficial effects it had. However this beam duration was in reality far too long, the fatal damage was already inflicted within the first couple of tenths of the beams duration, simply physics limitations simply meant it took another few tenths of s second beyond this point to disintegrate. Typically 70% or more of each shots power was wasted even if the whole beam struck the target. What was required was a way to deliver the exact amount of power required for a kill per shot.

The solution ultimately came from studies of Vaygr plasma lance technology. The Vaygr had encountered similar issues in their attempts to create burst mode plasma weaponry. Somtaaw and other races had up to this point had littlie luck in creating a viable beam splitting system that could split beams off in mid flow at the high operating energy densities of modern accelerators. Whilst theoretically possible to do, the beam cohesion losses, and thus accuracy and effective range losses had proven unacceptable. The Vaygr solution ultimately involved resurrecting ancient radio frequency accelerator systems. These systems whilst totally incapable of achieving acceptable acceleration where fully capable of restoring beam cohesion. By placing an advanced section of accelerator of this nature immediately after the beam splitter, all problems where solved with an acceptable efficiency.

By combining this trick with an existing Beam Splitter that could be rapidly activated and deactivated they where able to produce a rapid fire low power Ion beam system, and a New Deverish class frigate was designed to mount several quad barrelled turrets.

Historical Note: HDF also adopted this technology, but used several individual accelerators firing short duration beams in sequence. This by-passed the normal efficiency issues with short cycle accelerators, but required relatively large weapons, with a marked decrease in RoF and per hit power. This was considered acceptable however by the HDF as it was intended as a pure Anti-Corvette weapon, as apposed to a general purpose anti-Strikecraft measure.


Repeating Accelerator Systems: Somtaaw?s development of rapid fire Ion systems, and later plasma cannon systems, ultimately stemmed from the Bentusi and design elements unique to Somtaaw accelerators. Whilst the Bentusi never shared their own repeating ion cannon technology, they have continued to share a number of advancement with the Higgaran Kithad, and Somtaaw in particular. Approximately 15 years ago they shared a new enhancement to armor technologies, (possibly to aid in defending against the weapons of the now steadily more active Vaygr), a material composite that possessed superior absorption capabilities against broadband EM spectrum radiation. Thus granting so equipped vessels greatly enhanced protection against non-ion based directed energy weapons. Like all absorptive amour components it is capable of redirecting a significant percentage of this energy back into the vassal?s power grid. During experiments with this material in internal amour configurations surrounding accelerator arrays it was also discovered that it could absorb both accelerator radiation and the radiant magnetic field energies of the magnet. But only in the directions it was placed in. The waste radiation produced by extreme energy curved acceleration paths had been a particular efficiency limit for some time and was ultimately the final limiting factor on accelerator velocity. In truth the new material was limited by it?s viable placement locations and so could not allow a true increase in velocity as only a portion of the radiation could be collected. Nonetheless it represented a far superior, (in both volume and mass terms), material for shielding against accidental releases occasionally seen when an accelerator is damaged mid firing cycle. Far more vitally however it now allowed the structural materials, and individual accelerator elements to be shielded from each other. This drastically reduced energy losses going into the structure of the accelerator as well as greatly lowering accelerator mass and volume. It also eliminated interference between accelerator elements eliminating the need for separation distances. Further compacting and increasing accelerator efficiencies. But more importantly this reduced interference allowed more accelerator segments to be energized at once, as well as reducing pulse cohesion loss along the length of an accelerator, thus producing more compact pulses. This combined with the sharp energy wastage reduction allows for a far higher pulse frequency with corresponding knock on effects on power and RoF. This produces the distinctive pure white core, and darker outer envelope that all Somtaaw Ion beams posses.

Nonetheless analysis of Bentusi weapons fire shows that their beams are both more Coherent still and of far higher density, each pulse in this case is a densely packed one ion thick disc. With many discs placed inside the length of a single normal pulse. The effect is known as a continuous wave ion beam and is responsible for the distinctive golden colour. The result is that whilst Somtaaw ion beams are able to match Bentusi recharge times, (subject to a suitable power source), they cannot match the raw coherency or particle densities on a per beam basis, this is further compounded by the limited velocity of helical arrays. Only Somtaaw Command vessels are fitted with high power repeating straight line accelerators.


Plasma Cannon: Somtaaw first began experimenting with plasma cannon technology towards the end of the beast war when they first acquired energy cannon technology. The idea was to utilize the high mass factor of the helical accelerator system to create large volumes of highly compressed plasma which could then be more rapidly fed into the existing energy cannon projectiles. However this proved an elusive method to perfect, though early models still improved rate of fire by between 20 and 30% depending on the size of the weapon. Prior to the development of the higher beam cohesion repeating accelerator systems the amount of plasma in any single pulse at high repetition pulse rates was subject to too much variation. The projectiles could easily be under-filled limiting their power or overfilled such that they exploded in the barrel.

Matters where then further complicated when Acolyte drive systems began to proliferate as this produced radical increases in ship velocities, particularly strikcraft. This meant that energy cannon rounds could no longer keep up with strikecraft and required far more of their plasma payload simply for maneuvering. Indeed in time both the HDF and Kith somtaw switched back to Kinetic Drivers and the Helical Energy Cannon project became a low priority project for Kith Somtaaw.

It was once again encounters with the Vaygr and their Plasma Weapon technology that spurred development of the project. Whilst Vaygr Plasma Cannon possessed many unique factors that allowed them to develop very powerful pulsed weapons the technology was of limited interest to the HDF due to their preference for ion based systems, (which gain much less from pulsed setups due to natural ionic repulsion producing sharpened diffraction issues), and general lack of any development work on plasma weapons. Somtaaw on the other hand had the ongoing advantage of their work in this area to draw on and the natural efficiency of helical arrays at plasma acceleration. By combining their existing research and repeating ion accelerators technology with Vaygr Plasma cannon technology they where able to produce very high energy high cohesion plasma cannon with an incredible rate of fire by comparison to the Vaygr systems. Like many Somtaaw systems the primary limitation is once again power supply. Somtaaw Plasma cannon are defined by their firey orange colour produced s a result of the higher cohesion factor.


Nova Cannon: The Nova Cannon is the first successful product of many attempts by Somtaaw engineers to replicate the siege cannon. The simple fact is that since all the cannon requires is a power supply to operate the firing systems and a resource supply to it?s built in shell manufacturer. Kith Somtaaw has no real knowledge of how it?s shells are produced. Despite careful study of test shots, Kith Somtaaw have not even been able to totally decipher how it produces such an intense energy burst. Indeed, where it not for deductions made based on the resources the cannon used and very careful scans of test shots it would not even have been realized that the shots where in fact physical projectiles. Albeit wrapped in an energy shell which produces the distinctive visual appearance. It is theorized that on the original weapon this is used to aid in penetrating targets armor before the shell is detonated. Whilst research into the weapons primary warhead remains at a standstill, much research has been attempted into replicating the energy sheath. It was during an equipment failure in one of these tests that the basic principle behind the Nova Cannon was developed. Initial attempts at replicating the field involved using two separate sphere shaped EM Forcefeilds identical in form, though not shape, to that used in slicer missiles. These created a thin gap between them into which a great deal of high energy plasma was placed. The equipment failure in question caused the innermost field to attempt to expand to a significantly greater diameter than the outer field. Compressing the contained plasma until eventually the outer field failed and the still expanding inner field pushed the now very dense plasma outwards, in effect creating a plasma based shockwave in surrounding space. The relatively low velocity of the resultant wave resulted in the shockwave rapidly breaking up as the plasma expanded into a more diffuse form, as a result only nearby automated probes where destroyed. However the effects over the small area it remained coherent in where impressive, equal to every bit of the affected probes hulls being subjected to several simultaneous plasma bomb detonations.

Needless to say this led to much effort being expanded at re-creating the effect in a weaponized form. Such a form however required a far larger quantity of much higher energy plasma, compressed much more and with a far greater strength of EM field for both the inner and outer fields, backed by a much higher expansion rate on the inner field. Whilst the expansion could be handled via an explosive power generation system, raising plasma density and maintaining the forcefeilds proved much more difficult. The initial difficulties revolved around maintaining a strong enough double forcefeild setup while simultaneously containing a high plasma density. The extreme temperatures of the plasma medium placed great strain on the forcefeilds even at low densities. At higher densities this drain became almost unmanageable, even with a very large outside power source. The problem was eventually solved by the team of junior researchers continuing the research already started on the energy ?shell? used in the Siege Cannon shells. They had continued their work, easily meeting the requirements, albeit at the cost of using all of the theoretical shell volume for the power source and field generators. Thus they too sought savings. Unlike their compatriots in the weapon development team however they where not overly concerned with maintaining a plasma sphere, only in maintaining penetrating power under moderate velocity impact. Thus they attempted to replace the hot plasma with a relatively cooler heavy elemental ion medium. These heavy ions ultimately proved rather less penetrating than the plasma, due to the low particle velocities involved. But the massive volume of space freed by their use, due to the far lower energy requirements of the fields was considered an acceptable trade-off in the light of Somtaaw?s technical limitations.

Had it not been for a fact of sheer chance the discovery might never have come to the attention of the main team. However senior team researcher Tessa Somtaaw was the wife of the junior team leader, as a result of their after work conversations she discovered the results of the experiment, and suggested the same approach to her team. While skeptical of their most junior member?s contribution, the team felt they had littlie to lose by testing the theory. The results exceeded even the most optimistic expectations, the text shell vaporizing half of a frigate test target, and reducing to shrapnel every strike-craft class target for three-quarters of a klom around it.

The reasons for this are rather simple, the Ion?s when compressed upon detonation of the device act to repel one another. While the initial field expansion only increased velocity to several percent of light speed. When the outer field failed the repulsion accelerated the outer third of the mass to a few tens of a percent of light speed. Further work in this direction, with the field generators optimized for ioncs, the ionic element changed to account for instabilities in the prior test ion, which had caused a significant fraction to come apart at the sub-atomic level when compressed, and finally space saved by the smaller field generators and main power source was used for a larger explosive power generation component used to initiate the ?detonation?.

The resultant shell whilst similar in size to a Siege shell was rather less powerful than the original. The original, after post beast war tuning had the ability to vaporize slightly more than a destroyer mass at the impact point, and to vaporize frigates out to around 2.5 kloms, strike craft where in danger at ranges of between 8 and 9 kloms. Though when the power management crew achieve a perfect shot, values of around +10-15% on these have been recorded, though the realities of combat pressures on the personnel involved make this a rarity. The newly developed weapon on the other hand could vaporize slightly less than a half a destroyer at the impact point, and was capable of vaporizing frigates out to slightly more than a klom, and was lethal to strike craft out to around 5 kloms.

The design however consumed more power and RU?s than the siege cannon to achieve this. Experiments showed that prior to hitting minturisation limitations the destructive power decreased at a rate significantly less than the shell volume. The eventually fielded nova cannon fires a shell approximately a third the size of a siege shell. Though not capable of outright vaporizing, or even destroying a destroyer class target, it is quite capable of crippling one, and vaporizing any frigate within a half a klom of the detonation point. Frigates between a half and one and a half kloms away will suffer heavy to moderate damage, and the blast wave is fatal to strike craft within 2.5 to 3 kloms.

The newer command ship, the See-Clan, when completed was able to mount a 9 barreled array in the same location as the Kuun-Lan?s siege cannon, however the older Fal-Corum was forced to mount much of the support equipment on the weapon arm, instead of internally as on the Clee-San, and could thus only carry a 6 barreled array in the same location as the Kuun-Lan?s siege cannon. It was the Fal-Corum however that put it to first use. (Historical Note: This is unsurprising since construction of the Clee-San did not begin until some time after these events. As anyone familiar with Somtaaw history will doubtless know)

It was put to use soon after it was installed when a massive imperial Taidanni battle group attempted to ambush the Fal-Corum, 8 carriers, 6 Qwarr-Jet heavy cruisers, a dozen destroyer?s and more than 5 dozen frigates attacked them. Leading the way where the Taidanni?s fighters and corvettes. Had it not been for the Fal-Corum?s commander Deker and his quick thinking they might have been forced to retreat. He immediately ordered the nova cannon be fired. But not at the approaching capital ships. Instead he directed their fire into the heart of the oncoming strike-craft swarm which led the charge. Of the more than 500 craft sweeping in, less than a 100 survived the brutal onslaught. Dazed and confused by the sudden turn of events, few recovered in time to take any form of evasive action against the swarm of acolytes and hive drones that pounced on them immediately afterwards. Taking full advantage of the distraction the defending archangel class heavy cruiser, and quartet of Deacon Class destroyers immediately pushed in under frigate covering fire and began systematically gutting the Taiidan frigates. While Bombardier class micro frigates swept in from the flanks to savage the suddenly vulnerable Qwarr Jet class Cruisers and their destroyer escorts. By the time they exhausted their complements of slicer bombs half the enemies? capital combat assets where wreckage and the rest had all suffered heavy damage. With his frigates in equally dire straights the Taidanni commander was forced to retreat, yet even as he gave the orders, the Fal-Corum?s cannons recharged. Realizing what the enemy intended her commander gave another set of orders and the Nova cannon flashed again, with all but one round striking it?s target, yet he had not targeted the enemies retreating heavy cruisers or destroyers, instead each round was directed at a separate engine block of a fleeing carrier. As each round struck those carriers hyperspace window collapsed, stranding it under the guns of the Somtaaw fleet. Though one carrier, already part way into it?s window when it was struck did not survive, torn apart by the collapsing window, it was reduced to shrapnel. Never again would the Imperial Taidanni attempt an attack on a Somtaaw explorer lead fleet. Not until the Vaygr invasion would they be tested quite so thoroughly again. Commander Deker was decorated for his action that day many times over by his fellow Somtaaw, yet the ultimate accolade came not from his own Kith, but from the greatest tactical and strategic mind Higgara has ever known. Karen S?Jet. The accolades simplicity belies it?s meaning to the rare few who receive it. Just two words. Well Done.

The weapon however has never been fitted to a design lower in mass than an explorer, even Battlecruiser class designs simply cannot hold sufficient secondary weapons and provide enough internal space for the guts of the cannon system. The poorly armored mounts aboard the explorer class may be fine for these ships. But heavy warships require armored mounts. Only with the recent initialization of construction on the Naggarok Dreadnaught, the largest dedicated warship built by any known space faring race since the Bentusi disarmed Bentus, will they at last make an appearance on front line warships. When completed she will be placed under the captaincy of Admiral Deker and from there she will be assigned to accompany the Pride of Higgara in her campaign against the Vaygr.

Hive Drones: In the most basic sense the nature of Hive Drones has changed littlie since their initial inception. However the proliferation of Acolyte drive technologies resulted in much of their performance edge being eroded. The development of micro gravity systems proved the final nail in the coffin of the traditional hive drone. Whilst these systems could not wholly eliminate G-Forces on the pilot, they where able to reduce them sufficiently to render the structural limitations of the craft a greater limitation than the pilots G-Tolerance. AI controlled craft could no longer achieve a performance edge over their manned counterparts. Combined with the limitations in adaptability and flexibility of AI combat sub-routines and the unmanned drone fighter appeared to have reached the end of the line. Not even Kith Somtaaw, desperate for the manpower savings they represented could justify the related RU cost per drone at this point. Kith Somtaaw however where not inclined to idly abandon a technology that had been so heavily invested in. Instead they worked to see if there was any other area?s in which microship fighters could be made superior to their manned brethren.

The answer Somtaaw scientists devised was as elegant as it was simple. Reduce the production costs of drone strike craft to as low a level as possible by taking advantage of the increased compactness an unmanned platform allowed, thereby allowing them to be fielded in extreme numbers. The basis of the design is a Somtaaw long range probe. The casing has been lengthened by 30%, strengthened for high G turns, and extra maneuvering thrusters have been fitted. The sensor system and long range com set have been gutted and a new short range sensors and coms system fitted in 4 pods, each held on the tip of an outboard stabilizer wing, along with some of the new maneuvering thrusters. The Single burn low efficiency engines has been replaced by a more efficient design based loosely on one of the 3 ADU?s, (Acolyte Drive Units), used to power the modern Acolyte V?s. This, after computer upgrades for it?s new mission profile leaves the front half of the probe free to form a giant interchangeable weapons bay. 3 Payloads have been devised for this Bay: A multi-Barreled Mass driver, A Plasma Bomb Launcher, and an Ionic Compression Warhead. The latter turns the Craft into a suicide unit, detailed in further detail under the heading of ?Hunter Killer Drone?. In this section we will focus on the first two items. Both are ultimately cut down versions of weapons mounted aboard the Acolyte V and Rapier II fighters respectively. Because of their reduced size, (the Kinetic Cannon possesses fewer barrels, whilst the Plasma Bomb Launcher fires smaller Plasma Bombs), there is a corresponding drop in effective firepower. Nonetheless the reduced number of engines, total lack of armor, reduced weapons load out, and lack of need for life-support and other pilot amenities produces a craft that costs less than a third the RU?s of an Acolyte V series fighter.

They do however lack the dual purpose capabilities of an acolyte, the anti-corvette punch of it?s missiles, or the advanced firepower of an Avenger ACV when used in multiples. They likewise suffer from severe tactical flexibility programming limitations which make it easy to mislead, misdirect, or outright fool them into compromising positions, (Bait and switch dogfight tactics in particular are impossible to fully program for). Command updates from a command ship can alleviate the more strategic maneuvers of this kind, by ensuring the drones stay within the designated combat area for example. Sadly however, they can do littlie to combat the tactical tricks of this nature which can, along with the lack of armor, lead to an easy destruction of a drone. Indeed in mass combat situations the Drones are still typically outperformed by manned fighters despite the manned units? numerical disadvantages, (but to a far lesser degree than previous unmanned designs). This is often a matter of the poorer pattern recognition of the Drone computers compared to the human brain, allowing manned fighters to more reliably dodge incoming fire from drone fighters. And the poor one burst one kill capabilities of kinetic cannon armed drones means that fighters are rarely in any danger from a lone drone on their tail. At least in the short term. This easily allows the lightly engaged fighters that inevitably occur in a mass engagement to blast multiple drones off the tails of more heavily engaged friendly fighters, whilst said fighters focus on their own survival. Similar results are found in the bomber format vs. frigates. The greater numbers are insufficient to allow for successful attacks on anti-strikcraft frigates or targets sufficiently guarded by them. Again weaknesses in available AI design and armor renders them much more vulnerable to these ships weapons, greatly degrading their theoretical advantages through numbers.

That said the cheap cost and mass availability of these drones does lend them to distraction, disruption, guard, and support duties, area?s where the manpower cost of manned craft makes them undesirable to such a manpower short Kith. This results in greatly enhanced RU efficiency for Somtaaw?s already formidable manned strikecraft and provides complete deterrence against un-escorted anti-frigate and anti-capital strike craft of all kinds. Whilst also enhancing Somtaaw?s strikecraft presence at a very modest extra manpower cost.


Ok this bit has been written by me specifically for you. The pure fluff sections first.

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Archangel III Dreadnaught:
The current model of Archangel despite sharing a name with the two preceding models shares only a loose connection with it?s predecessors, as is true of most modern Somtaaw warships. The basic hull form continues to resemble that of a Bentusi trade vessel, however unlike the preceding design, (the Archangel II merely being an upgrade of the existing Archangel I hull), the Archangel III utilises the same hull orientation as Bentusi trade ships, with the prongs and the slot they form to the rear. This was always the desired configuration for Somtaaw, but was impractical for the original design due to limits in Somtaaw?s drive technology requiring more sternward area for the drives. Advances in drive technology have ultimately dealt with this issue allowing the preferred hull form to be used. The primary advantages are the higher natural strength afforded by the reinforcing nature of the curved hull over the block form of the prongs and the elimination of the central forward slot which represented a major weakness in the armour scheme due to it?s tendency to trap deflected or otherwise errant projectiles.

As is standard for Somtaaw vessels of the modern era it primary anti-capital armaments are it?s twin 7 round heavy slicer missile batteries. Mounted along the topside of the front hull curve and fed by automated missile manufacturing systems they posses nearly unrivalled single volley firepower. However this firepower comes at the cost of long reload cycles due to the relative complexity of slicer missile manufacture and the high number of tubes carried. To ensure the vessel always possesses the firepower to rapidly engage suddenly emerging threats during reload cycles two quad barrelled repeating plasma cannon turrets are fitted in central ventral and central dorsal mountings. Rarely amongst Somtaaw vessels the Archangels 2 posseses sufficient power generation capacity for both turrets to be employed in full sustaines fire mode spitting multiple devastating plasma bolt per second in an unending sream a opposing ships. 8 Pulsar turrets distributed around the dorsal and ventral surfaces provide the vessel with all round counter strikecraft firepower, the high rate of sustained fire typical of Somtaaw pulsar systems more than compensating for any accuracy issues that may exist vs the most manoeuvrable of opponents.

Like all Somtaaw capital class vessels the Archangel III is fitted with a hyperspace Module and wake generators to facilitate the inevitable independent operation that comes with Somtaaw far flung mining operations. Somtaaw high command also made the decision when designing the class to entirely omit strickcraft docking and servicing bay?s as well as multi-function module support. The savings in internal volume and reduction in structural weaknesses have allowed for both a better armed and better armoured vessel as a result, but cost in flexibility. Nonetheless when the typical edge on a per ship basis that all Somtaaw vessels posses is taken into account the Archangel III is fully half again as capable as it?s HDF and Vaygr counterparts, (note that Somtaaw terms such vessels dreadnaughts whilst the HDF and Vaygr term them Battlecruisers, but the two class designations are functionally identical).


Acolyte V Fighter:
To understand the current form of the Acolyte and the design decisions therein it is important to first chart the development history of the Acolyte Series. The Familiar Beast Wars era design is known a the Acolyte I. For historical reference purposes the Bentusi Provided Super Acolyte design is referred to as the Acolyte II. However since part of the terms of providing the design included all manufactured models being turned over to the Bentusi once the conflict was run and since the designs where provided in the form of a self running manufacture and maintenance programs that never revealed the actual core design to Somtaaw?s systems or engineer?s Somtaaw was unable to continue production after the conclusion of the beats war.

The Acolyte III was a post beast war upgrade of the Acolyte I incorporating what refinements had been achieved via the limited hard data Somtaaw was able to acquire on the Acolyte II In the roughly week long time period they possessed the design. The only new capability added was to place the existing missile pods on rotary gimbals allowing them to be rotated through a full 360 degrees in the forward/backwards/upwards/downwards arc and up to 30 degree?s in the left/right arc.

The Acolyte IV was a temporary crash measures to combat the appearance of high performance interceptors utilising Acoltye drive delivered engines which where able to outrun and outmanoeuvre the Acolyte III as well as proving too fast to engage with Energy Cannon. He design simply stripped all unnecessary weight, (EMP systems, Mating Systems, and Missile Pods), from the Acolyte III and replaced the Energy cannon with twin multi-barrelled mass drivers. He use of twin mass divers ensure superior armaments and the design once again possessed a slight edge in speed and manoeuvring ability, however it was no better armoured and lost all of the multi-role capabilities that Somtaaw had so prized.

The Acolyte V is the result of a more careful program to produce a new Acolyte fighter that retains more of the Acolyte?s famed multi-role capability. Ultimately the decision was taken to sacrifice much of the Acolyte?s vaunted armour as the new higher power Mass drivers now appearing could not be reasonably armoured against without unacceptable manoeuvring penalties that would have left the design both unable to bring it?s weapons to bear and easy targets for anti-capital kinetic armaments, against which no fighter can be armoured. The dual mass drivers where also slightly downsized to save weight, though the paired combination still posses slightly more firepower than typical single mass driver configurations found on other interceptors. Whilst also unable to provide it with both an effective anti-fighter armament and an effective counter frigate armament on the same hull without fatally compromising it?s power of manoeuvre, they where able to retain a smaller missile suitable for engaging other fighters and in sufficient numbers the new range of corvette?s that had also appeared. The mating ability was also restored, though the EMP had to be sacrificed. The most innovative change was to move the mass drivers into the old missile pods and missiles into the hull in the old mass driver mounts. Not only did this suit multi-shot missile launcher designs more readily but placed the mass drivers in gimballed mounts. Whilst this is an impractical feature to use for a single pilot, when joined to form an Avenger V micro-corvette the gimballed mounts can be controlled by one pilot to formidable effect, and when combined with the off bore launch capabilities of the missile launchers can be devastating to large fighter forces. The design however remains only moderately effective against corvette class vessels, primarily through massed missile volley?s of entire squads, of which each squad can launch only a few. The propulsions systems have been overhauled as well creating the standardised Acolyte Drive Unit, or ADU. The use of three of these and their independent thrust vector and throttling features combined with the over-sized thrusters assemblies ensure the Acolyte V remains fully manoeuvrable despite it?s heavy armaments and advanced systems. Nonetheless the design is slightly slower than contemporary interceptors. But the increased firepower and flexibility of the design, and the more than adequately compensating manoeuvring power more than make up for this.


Now the ship entry with the above fluff piece?s in it?s proper places in the entries.

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Archangel Dreadnaught:
The Archangel Dreadnaught is well equipped with Heavy Slicer missiles and quad barrelled repeating plasma cannon for counter-capital and counter-frigate work, whilst 8 pulsar turret?s provide all round counter strikcraft capability and paired 4 bay Hive Drone Bay?s provide a degree of independent flexibility. The vessel is also equipped with a built in Hyper Module and Wake Generator system. But lacks strikecraft docking and servicing bays or module mounting points common to the equivalent Higgarran and Vaygr Battlecruisers. However as a result of this it is rather more powerful and Archangels can expect to achieve parity with equivalent Higgaran and Vayger battlecruisers when outnumbered 3 to 2 in ship numbers.

Background and Development History:

Archangel III Dreadnaught:

The current model of Archangel despite sharing a name with the two preceding models shares only a loose connection with it?s predecessors, as is true of most modern Somtaaw warships. The basic hull form continues to resemble that of a Bentusi trade vessel, however unlike the preceding design, (the Archangel II merely being an upgrade of the existing Archangel I hull), the Archangel III utilises the same hull orientation as Bentusi trade ships, with the prongs and the slot they form to the rear. This was always the desired configuration for Somtaaw, but was impractical for the original design due to limits in Somtaaw?s drive technology requiring more sternward area for the drives. Advances in drive technology have ultimately dealt with this issue allowing the preferred hull form to be used. The primary advantages are the higher natural strength afforded by the reinforcing nature of the curved hull over the block form of the prongs and the elimination of the central forward slot which represented a major weakness in the armour scheme due to it?s tendency to trap deflected or otherwise errant projectiles. As is standard for Somtaaw vessels of the modern era it primary anti-capital armaments are it?s twin 7 round heavy slicer missile batteries. Mounted along the topside of the front hull curve and fed by automated missile manufacturing systems they posses nearly unrivalled single volley firepower. However this firepower comes at the cost of long reload cycles due to the relative complexity of slicer missile manufacture and the high number of tubes carried. To ensure the vessel always possesses the firepower to rapidly engage suddenly emerging threats during reload cycles two quad barrelled repeating plasma cannon turrets are fitted in central ventral and central dorsal mountings. Rarely amongst Somtaaw vessels the Archangels 2 posseses sufficient power generation capacity for both turrets to be employed in full sustaines fire mode spitting multiple devastating plasma bolt per second in an unending sream a opposing ships. 8 Pulsar turrets distributed around the dorsal and ventral surfaces provide the vessel with all round counter strikecraft firepower, the high rate of sustained fire typical of Somtaaw pulsar systems more than compensating for any accuracy issues that may exist vs the most manoeuvrable of opponents. Like all Somtaaw capital class vessels the Archangel III is fitted with a hyperspace Module and wake generators to facilitate the inevitable independent operation that comes with Somtaaw far flung mining operations. Somtaaw high command also made the decision when designing the class to entirely omit strickcraft docking and servicing bay?s as well as multi-function module support. The savings in internal volume and reduction in structural weaknesses have allowed for both a better armed and better armoured vessel as a result, but cost in flexibility. Nonetheless when the typical edge on a per ship basis that all Somtaaw vessels posses is taken into account the Archangel III is fully half again as capable as it?s HDF and Vaygr counterparts, (note that Somtaaw terms such vessels dreadnaughts whilst the HDF and Vaygr term them Battlecruisers, but the two class designations are functionally identical).

Acolyte Fighter:

The Acolyte Fighter is equipped with two light multi-barrelled mass drivers which give it slightly superior counter fighter capability than other dedicated fighters such as Vaygr assault craft. Two light missile launchers primarily intended for fighter vs fighter engagements provide backup, but also enhance the counter corvette capabilities of the design. Though it should not be considered an adequate dedicated counter to corvette?s when deployed alone. It will however outperform other dedicated fighter killers at the counter corvette role.

The design is fully as manoeuvrable if not more so than contemporary designs, but is typically slightly slower.

The vessels truly remarkable feature is the ability of two to join to form an Avenger micro-corvette. When operating in the mode the multi-barrelled cannon can employ their gimballed mountings to become turreted weaponry greatly enhancing their ability to engage other fighter?s, however this costs some of the manoeuvring power of the design rendering it somewhat more vulnerable to corvette killing weaponry.

Background and Development History:

Acolyte V Fighter:

To understand the current form of the Acolyte and the design decisions therein it is important to first chart the development history of the Acolyte Series. The Familiar Beast Wars era design is known a the Acolyte I. For historical reference purposes the Bentusi Provided Super Acolyte design is referred to as the Acolyte II. However since part of the terms of providing the design included all manufactured models being turned over to the Bentusi once the conflict was run and since the designs where provided in the form of a self running manufacture and maintenance programs that never revealed the actual core design to Somtaaw?s systems or engineer?s Somtaaw was unable to continue production after the conclusion of the beats war.

The Acolyte III was a post beast war upgrade of the Acolyte I incorporating what refinements had been achieved via the limited hard data Somtaaw was able to acquire on the Acolyte II In the roughly week long time period they possessed the design. The only new capability added was to place the existing missile pods on rotary gimbals allowing them to be rotated through a full 360 degrees in the forward/backwards/upwards/downwards arc and up to 30 degree?s in the left/right arc.

The Acolyte IV was a temporary crash measures to combat the appearance of high performance interceptors utilising Acoltye drive delivered engines which where able to outrun and outmanoeuvre the Acolyte III as well as proving too fast to engage with Energy Cannon. He design simply stripped all unnecessary weight, (EMP systems, Mating Systems, and Missile Pods), from the Acolyte III and replaced the Energy cannon with twin multi-barrelled mass drivers. He use of twin mass divers ensure superior armaments and the design once again possessed a slight edge in speed and manoeuvring ability, however it was no better armoured and lost all of the multi-role capabilities that Somtaaw had so prized.

The Acolyte V is the result of a more careful program to produce a new Acolyte fighter that retains more of the Acolyte?s famed multi-role capability. Ultimately the decision was taken to sacrifice much of the Acolyte?s vaunted armour as the new higher power Mass drivers now appearing could not be reasonably armoured against without unacceptable manoeuvring penalties that would have left the design both unable to bring it?s weapons to bear and easy targets for anti-capital kinetic armaments, against which no fighter can be armoured. The dual mass drivers where also slightly downsized to save weight, though the paired combination still posses slightly more firepower than typical single mass driver configurations found on other interceptors. Whilst also unable to provide it with both an effective anti-fighter armament and an effective counter frigate armament on the same hull without fatally compromising it?s power of manoeuvre, they where able to retain a smaller missile suitable for engaging other fighters and in sufficient numbers the new range of corvette?s that had also appeared. The mating ability was also restored, though the EMP had to be sacrificed. The most innovative change was to move the mass drivers into the old missile pods and missiles into the hull in the old mass driver mounts. Not only did this suit multi-shot missile launcher designs more readily but placed the mass drivers in gimballed mounts. Whilst this is an impractical feature to use for a single pilot, when joined to form an Avenger V micro-corvette the gimballed mounts can be controlled by one pilot to formidable effect, and when combined with the off bore launch capabilities of the missile launchers can be devastating to large fighter forces. The design however remains only moderately effective against corvette class vessels, primarily through massed missile volley?s of entire squads, of which each squad can launch only a few. The propulsions systems have been overhauled as well creating the standardised Acolyte Drive Unit, or ADU. The use of three of these and their independent thrust vector and throttling features combined with the over-sized thrusters assemblies ensure the Acolyte V remains fully manoeuvrable despite it?s heavy armaments and advanced systems. Nonetheless the design is slightly slower than contemporary interceptors. But the increased firepower and flexibility of the design, and the more than adequately compensating manoeuvring power more than make up for this.
 
Ironwatsas
Okay here's the plan. We're hopefully going to have our own wiki or ship database or something which stores all the lore and in-depth details and major technology essays, and a glossary of relevant terms. This has already been discussed and homdax is working on it apparently. A similar packet of info may be included in-game, similar to some of the goodies that v11 has. A wiki format would probably be a much easier to use and a handy reference source.

Ship descriptions in the mod (I.E. Build Menu Descriptions) will probably be fairly straightforward. They will tell you what the ship does, what guns it has, and what to shoot/not to shoot with it.

The Manual you've been referring to I think is the one from PDS version 6. Either way, all the manuals up to this point have been penned by Tel's hand. As far as telling you how to play the mod, they probably aren't going to be too relevant by the time the next version of PDS is out. I can't say for certain since we need to see what we can do with HW:R and... y'know... actually build the mod. Right now we're still codifying info and getting people together.

Anyhow, judging by what you've written there, we can definitely use your input on lore writing. Granted, in the PDSverse, Somtaaw are a bit... different then your writings. (long story short, once they learned that the Somtaaw were responsible for releasing the beast, there was a massive political scandal which lead to a draw-down of Somtaaw forces, and they were forced to surrender their technology. That lead directly to the wide-scale proliferation of stuff like miniaturized plasma cannons/pulse ion cannons/etc)
 
Homdax

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This has already been discussed and homdax is working on it apparently.
Hold and reflect. What I said was that the site CMS I use, will "soon" have a major upgrade that will include wiki-like functions. Do not want to bust bubbles or anything, but I will be truthful and clear in respect to what can and can not be done within the CMS.

This does not mean we can not make an regular wiki on the same server and I have also talked with EatThePath about some kind of code repository, maybe even Project/Task Management.

Sorry for this parenthesis, I enjoy reading what you have posted so far guys and am hopeful for more. Hmmm
king-o'da'bigfile
 
carl

Quote

Okay here's the plan. We're hopefully going to have our own wiki or ship database or something which stores all the lore and in-depth details and major technology essays, and a glossary of relevant terms. This has already been discussed and homdax is working on it apparently. A similar packet of info may be included in-game, similar to some of the goodies that v11 has. A wiki format would probably be a much easier to use and a handy reference source.

Ship descriptions in the mod (I.E. Build Menu Descriptions) will probably be fairly straightforward. They will tell you what the ship does, what guns it has, and what to shoot/not to shoot with it.

The Manual you've been referring to I think is the one from PDS version 6. Either way, all the manuals up to this point have been penned by Tel's hand. As far as telling you how to play the mod, they probably aren't going to be too relevant by the time the next version of PDS is out. I can't say for certain since we need to see what we can do with HW:R and... y'know... actually build the mod. Right now we're still codifying info and getting people together.


Thats fair enough, the issue like i said was lack of this kind of stuff before. it made the mod virtually impenetrable.

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Anyhow, judging by what you've written there, we can definitely use your input on lore writing. Granted, in the PDSverse, Somtaaw are a bit... different then your writings. (long story short, once they learned that the Somtaaw were responsible for releasing the beast, there was a massive political scandal which lead to a draw-down of Somtaaw forces, and they were forced to surrender their technology. That lead directly to the wide-scale proliferation of stuff like miniaturized plasma cannons/pulse ion cannons/etc)


I wasn't suggesting you use any of that. It's just something from a personal project i had handy for examples sake.

That said the idea that Somtaaw would draw down, (beyond a certain point, they're probably not going to care about Archangels too much and they can probably live without Destroyers if it came to it), doesn't fly. The whole point about the situation there in at the start of cata is that the existing Kithad are unwilling or unable to provide military escorts and mining ships, (respectively speaking), for Somtaaw. Somtaaw isn't going to give up so much of it's military it can't continue to exist as a Kithad. Given the kind of political havoc they caused at the start of cata they'd start a civil war or go rouge and take off for the outer rim where the HDF can't afford to chase them down.

That's not to say i don't see them transferring a lot of tech mind. At least to the HDF. But given we see no mention of several cata era tech in HW2 i'd assume that they either ceased to be viable, (energy cannon seem to be a victim of this), or the HDF preferred it's proprietary systems since switching to somtaaw stuff would entail a major shift in multiple area's for a very small gain. Something common even IRL.
 
Ironwatsas

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That said the idea that Somtaaw would draw down, (beyond a certain point, they're probably not going to care about Archangels too much and they can probably live without Destroyers if it came to it), doesn't fly. The whole point about the situation there in at the start of cata is that the existing Kithad are unwilling or unable to provide military escorts and mining ships, (respectively speaking), for Somtaaw. Somtaaw isn't going to give up so much of it's military it can't continue to exist as a Kithad. Given the kind of political havoc they caused at the start of cata they'd start a civil war or go rouge and take off for the outer rim where the HDF can't afford to chase them down.

That's not to say i don't see them transferring a lot of tech mind. At least to the HDF. But given we see no mention of several cata era tech in HW2 i'd assume that they either ceased to be viable, (energy cannon seem to be a victim of this), or the HDF preferred it's proprietary systems since switching to somtaaw stuff would entail a major shift in multiple area's for a very small gain. Something common even IRL.


The way we're explaining it in PDS is thus: technologies developed in cataclysm continue to exist in some form or another. Energy Cannons/Multibeam Frigates/Bentusi Portable Ion Cannons/etc evolved into miniaturized energy weapons such as Pulsars and plasma guns similar to the Gatekeeper turrets on some of our frigates. Energy cannons were more of a fad than anything else, with the Imperialist Taiidan being the main users. Some of the technologies which rendered immunity to the beast virus included energy-dampening electric armor which severely negated the effectiveness of lower-powered energy cannons, so bullets returned to primacy.

Stuff like the Repulsor emitter were basically just lab equipment bolted onto the outside of a dreadnaught and their military practicality was largely situational to fighting the Beast. They're too big, pose too much of a friendly fire risk (in our imagining of things, they don't conveniently ignore friendly vessels), and are nullified by Gravity Well Generators (although the real reason we're not going to have them is because I don't think we have any idea how to script one ingame Pfft). Mimic fields are still in use for certain applications, alongside cloaks (again, the main limitation is we can't readily script them ingame), but their use as suicide craft is probably no longer ethical or politically acceptable.

The Kuun Lan is still packing that big ol' siege cannon however, and it still kicks massive amounts of ass when fired. But siege cannons of that size are so huge, unwieldy, and fraught with technical issues that their use in highly-mobile space warfare is rare. Ironically, they're probably more useful as strategic planetary orbital defenses (in a similar vein to Halo 2's MAC gun stations) where their lack of mobility is less of an issue.

As for the force drawdown: Kiith Somtaaw lost some prestige when it became apparent that unleashing the beast was their fault, and came under the orders of the Somtaaw Kiith-sa (who conveniently was murdered/assassinated in what is suspected to be a cover up) which tarnished their reputation. It was a massive political scandal, sure, but ultimately the reputations of the clan were defended due to Karan S'jet's intervention and charisma. It left a bad taste in a lot of other nations' mouths though (especially those who suffered during the beast war). The result of this is there were some strategic limitations set on what the individual Kiith Navies (not just Somtaaw) could do without the Diamiid's oversight, to prevent them from conducting insane science experiments, unleashing eldritch abominations, or going on unsanctioned military adventures in the future. Namely that limited independent research and put a high water mark on fleet tonnage.

The other issue is much more simple: Somtaaw is a mining clan first and foremost. That means they're in the business to make money, not fight wars. The Beast was simply a curveball no one could have predicted and it was necessary for Somtaaw to use it's resources to go nuts building a private armada to fight back. After the war, the Somtaaw had to pay for everything, which meant selling off technology, retiring unneeded ships, etc. Maintaining a large standing fleet is very expensive, and would cut into the Somtaaw's mining interests if they tried to maintain it.

That being said, the Somtaaw do have a quite sizable and powerful fleet to defend against pirates and Imperialist Taiidan and whatnot. I'd estimate somewhere roughly 3 to 4 times what a player in Cataclysm would be able to build (factoring in the Kuun Lan's fleet, the Faal Corum's fleet, and presumably quite a few carrier groups and escort forces. This is not counting nonmilitary freighters and civilian craft). With the Vaygr war and all, I'd imagine that build restrictions would go out the window, but the Somtaaw's main goal in such a scenario would be to work behind the scenes, gathering resources and supporting the war effort.

Rebelling against Hiigara or Going Rogue would be unthinkable. The Somtaaw don't have far-jumper capability and against the full might of the other Kiith they'd have basically no hope of survival. Plus, I highly doubt that anything could stand between their loyalty to Hiigara, or that the Diamiid would ever allow a situation to escalate to the point where that would become an issue. Plus, if they went rogue, who would they sell the minerals they've mined to?
 
carl
That's a bit more sensible sounding, i misunderstood what you meant.

It's actually very similar to how i had the progression setup in terms fo forces. They kept and upgraded what they had, but they didn't start building the new cap and super cap designs of stuff till fairly recently. The Warlock and the Clee San being exceptions due to their ability to provide for additional large scale mining operations.

They just started cannoning up with the Archangel III, the Witch class carriers, more Warlock's, e.t.c. with the Vaygr going from outer rim nomads to nightmares.

I would point out however that if somtaaw are getting blame for anything but unethical working practices vis a vis the beast incident it has some interesting implications on Higgiarran and GC law on the handling of possible escape pods.


Just to clarify what i meant vis a vsi the quoted bit:

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Rebelling against Hiigara or Going Rogue would be unthinkable. The Somtaaw don't have far-jumper capability and against the full might of the other Kiith they'd have basically no hope of survival. Plus, I highly doubt that anything could stand between their loyalty to Hiigara, or that the Diamiid would ever allow a situation to escalate to the point where that would become an issue. Plus, if they went rogue, who would they sell the minerals they've mined to?


I'm not suggesting it's something they'd want to do. But one thing their massive tiff with in Cata made clear that was allready sort of pounded on the HW1 manual. Any kithaad above a certain size is a nation state in it's own right that will aggressively protect it's interests and survival. Certainly it hasn't come to blows so far in centuries. But i don't doubt a sufficiently aggressive threat could push an allready armed kithad to the point.

As for a shootout. Remember even if all 6 cryotrays where recovered perfectly intact and there where no deaths from MS launch to current day the maximum able bodied population not including somtaaw is only 550K. Factoring in the amount that could reasonably be in space service and whilst sure the HDF could win a war if they really had to. it would be bloody, messy, and devastate the remaining population even if losses where equal, given that it would cost the space going ones the hardest.

Obviously i didn't really mean they'd go full civil war if they could avoid it, (your point about the Diamad Wink). They'd probably run if pushed to it. At which point the HDF doesn't have the manpower to chase them. Given we kow there are outer rim trade routes but all the cata civs we meet bar the Bentusi, (who clearway don't care about the Somtaaw involvement), are inner rim or mid rim focused.

I'm not suggesting they'd want to of course. But if it was a choice between that or be effectively disbanded they'd do it IMO based on what we see of kithad politics.


Enjoying the discussions btw Smile.
 
Ironwatsas
Right. The main thing with the Somtaaw situation is the revelation they were responsible for the Beast didn't come until a few years after the war ended. It got leaked and Imperialist Taiidan intelligence agents got wind of it and released it to the media. So ultimately it was a political and media frenzy but didn't have any immediate military implications. Ultimately, the Kuun Lan crew were exonerated since the decision to screw with the Escape Pod was the Somtaaw-sa's, and they did everything in their power to rescue the situation. But it did lead to most of the Anti-Hiigaran sentiment around the galaxy (With the opinion, to varying degrees, that whenever Hiigarans mess with stuff, they unleash a giant apocalypse of some kind).

It's also important for setting the political framework for creating a unified Hiigaran Navy, and increasing the oversight of the Diamiid over the Kiith Governments. The Individual Kiith retained their own private navies basically up until the Vaygr showed up, but the unified fleet started slowly taking primacy.
 
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