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Weapons of Mass Destruction

Weapons of Mass Destruction
Weapons of Mass Destruction behave in one of two ways depending on the situation. Where they are launched into an ISR field such as that generated around worlds with bases or against ships with ISR drives (and platforms), the vast majority of the energy (both in the form of radiation and particles with high levels of kinetic energy) is absorbed into subspace to bleed back into normal space over a radius of a few light minutes. Only energy below a threshold remains in realspace to inflict damage on the surrounding material. As this threshold is bound by the uncertainty principle it is not cut and dried as to which particles/photons bleed off into subspace. The energy signature however shows a clear attenuation with increasing energy leading to the term Nuclear Dampening.

Where there is no ISR field such as where a GP is hit by a nuke in space of the base commander has decided that secrecy is necessary so the ISR field has been turned off, there will be no nuclear dampening of the blast. As a consequence, the WoMD will deliver its normal damage but the damage will be sustained a further 99 times. A nuclear missile will normally deliver 1,000 damage (pretty much getting through any shield unless countered by point defence), though if it successfully hits a target without an ISR field it will deliver 100,000 damage. The important thing though is that this is 100 hits of 1,000 damage, not a single hit of 100,000 damage. This means that each block of damage is attenuated individually, leading to significantly more damage due to ground splash of 60% (see Everything you need to know about Damage (Issue 11)



WoMD in Phoenix are considered tactical weapons designed to be used against hardened targets rather than weapons of genocide. The reason for this is that the larger the weapons the greater the actual energy that bleeds off into subspace. It quickly becomes self-defeating to the point a truly massive nuke may well simply fail to fully detonate, producing little more than a lot of radioactive material scattered over a modest area.
Conventional nuclear weapons use fusion or fission mechanisms while antimatter weapons use a few particles of antimatter (colloquially referred to as ‘A-dust’) held in a magnetic bottle as the trigger mechanism. In all cases there is a significant radiation component released as part of the detonation. As the actual detonation is invariably tactical, it is the radioactivity component that is of greater significance to planetary populations and is dealt with largely through roleplaying effects.

Why Roleplaying?
Phoenix is not a war game, it is far too many components that deal with other aspects to be a war game. It has history, backstory and plot arcs not to mention the ability to alter the game through special actions. It is also a game in continuous development as more parts become fleshed out and the depth is increased. As a consequence there needs to be elements to the game that allow for the sociological reaction to a perceived disaster and immoral actions and attitudes.

The Game Moderator acts on behalf of the none-playing sentient populations within the game universe as such he is responsible for their reaction to events that have a direct negative impact on civilian populations.

The populated worlds issue is not so much with the actual damage which is generally relatively small when ISR dampening fields exist, rather it is the radioactive material generated as a result of the detonation. Even relatively clean antimatter will produce radioactive material as a result of the explosion ripping apart surrounding atoms. Total destruction of a nucleus will produce a lot of highly energy neutrons which can cause other atoms to have fragment. Even if the explosions are in orbit, the irradiated debris from destroyed ships will end up contaminating the biosphere.

Population Reaction
In an example, thirty ships enter orbit of a world populated by a million humans and open fire with antimatter missiles and nuclear missiles, bombarding the only starbase on the world. There is a single urban sector which also has the starbase in it. This urban is therefore presumed heavily populated. The world has an ISR field which dampens the nuclear strike.

The nuclear contamination however will shrug off into the surrounding urban sector. It will over the next few weeks kill thousands, possibly tens of thousands if there is no intervention and certainly hundreds to thousands even if there is intervention. The urban sector stands a good chance of being re-classed as ruin and there will be a tumble in the local merchandising and trade demand. At this point it can be seen as a win-win for the attackers as not only have they smashed a starbase they are going to get the on-going benefit of seeing their enemy dealing with scorched earth. Depending on circumstance however representatives of the victims could use this information to undermine support of the faction responsible for deploying the nuclear weapons especially where there is some degree of identification with the victims. For example the DEN nuke a KRL starbase on a world with a large human population. The KRL then spread propaganda, undermining support for the DEN on worlds with significant human populations. The effects are dealt with on a case by case scenario, but where the human populations are both supporting a system owner that does not use WoMD on populated planets, the DEN can expect to have as high as 80% merchandising complexes closed in the event of significant human casualties.




Dealing with Fallout
While Antimatter weapons are by far the cleanest in terms of having the shortest decay times of their radioactive products, it is expected that there will still be a cleanup cost to a biosphere. Basic modules can be exhausted (assigned to the civilian population) to integrate with the planetary infrastructure to scrub contaminants from susceptible areas. Generally speaking this will be in the order of 5 basic modules per Antimatter missile targeting a surface position. Where the atmosphere is unbreathable, this will be reduced 1 per AM missile reflecting much of the danger mitigated through standard atmospheric processing. Cleanup is likely to take a few weeks during which there will be possible deaths through radiation and reduction in merchandising and trade.

Nuclear weaponry is generally dirtier and as such the decontamination cost is closer to 25 basic modules per nuclear missile (or 5 on an unbreathable world). Cleanup is likely to take a few months.

As well as basic modules (used as scrubbers) 1 Planetary Restoration – Nuclear tech will be required per 500 basic modules.

These numbers are ball-park figures and reflect dealing with areas most likely to negatively impact on the civilian population. As such repairing damage to the ecology is secondary to saving sentient life. Where a serious barrage of nuclear missiles targets multiple locations on a world, there will be extensive and probably permanent damage to the environment that can’t be fixed by exhausting tech and modules. Finally, where there is a population in the tens of millions and above and high levels of infrastructure it is assumed that there already exists within the civilian infrastructure technology for dealing with the aftermath of a nuclear assault. As such, beyond the initial hit to the economy and possible ramifications of the attack (such as retaliation for an earlier nuclear bombardment), there will be no cost to the starbase for dealing with the aftermath.

NB. This article applies to weapons used in combat and not the Big ol’ bombs dropped off in starports before beggaring off. The use of these is hard-coded restricted by the profile as this considered an act of terrorism undertaken by single captain rather than a stand-up fight. In the future we may consider moving all use of WoMD into a hard-coded system but for the moment we are prepared to see how player use the current mechanic.




 
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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 
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The Worm Turns

The FET have reduced relations with the IMP to neutral. Sneezy boss Cu Chulainn took the bold step of putting 1 and 1 together by linking recent mercenary attacks in their systems with the IMP scouts seen loitering for some time and refusing to move. Even bolder, hints that they believe “a certain Imperial citizen” is responsible for Edward Lowe’s entire underhand operation were voiced loudly enough that the handsome but hard of hearing Tiberius Crowe had to take note. He was seen grappling in trademark fashion with his skin tight jacket, pulling it down over his partially concealed middle-aged girth, as he sat to issue a terse public statement. Exactly who this citizen may be was left unnamed and no news channel subject to Imperial laws would dare unmask the villain. Luckily dear readers, we are not subject to phony Imperial laws. It’s Jack Jones everybody. Jack Jones, butcher of Naplians and fancier of silver long johns.


 
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”Necessity hath no law”

Lord Cromwell of the DOM slapped a fleet of privateers, on charges of "knavery", "bad manners" and "poor sportsmanship." Such offences carry the death sentence in the Dominion, a nebulous territory neither part of the Empire nor apart from it. At least thirteen Armadillo class ships, typically sold by the DOM, were destroyed at a location Cromwell was unwilling to disclose publicly. Bloodthirsty Dewiek as well as "prince of peace" Yahn Wodenzoon were quick to congratulate the DOM for their merciless carnage. It seems the consensus in the galaxy’s ruling class is that not presenting valid identification is a crime worthy of the murder of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unfortunate crewmen. This is all just another indicator that the political elite are far removed from the lives of ordinary people who are seen as little more than meat inventory. It is telling so-called “man of the people and the downtrodden” Wodenzoon so readily aligns himself with this grisly concord. Meanwhile, the archaic elocutionist Cromwell further establishes the recent trend of mild exertions of power by the cold-blooded DOM.


 
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Return of the Fox

The galaxy is still digesting news of the return of Xavier Fox to the boardroom of the GTT. The ailing corporation's share price began a sharp rally after a six month downward spiral under Ike Krieger, credited with being the worst CEO in the megacorporation's history. The only surviving board member from Fox's initial tenure as CEO, and perhaps across the entire GTT board, is Antt Tilton the Research Director. The reclusive Tilton is the brains behind the ascension of GTT technology, particularly in the field of antimatter weapons and super-heavy dreadnought size ships, Tilton offers a small measure of continuity during this tumultuous time. Mr. Fox has therefore resorted to a broad appeal for new blood to join the ailing firm. So far, the result has been a number of two-dimensional "Yes" persons being promoted to the C-suite. Still, key stakeholders were upbeat with one commenting, "Fox is the man to turn this bloody disaster around. He knows how to put a great team together and where to bury the bodies of the non-performers."


 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic