Diaspora: Tech Thoughts

November 20, 2009

I get that the game is supposed to be super hard sci-fi, with Erector-set looking ships and such. Still, for me, I’m more into stuff like BSG, Mass Effect and Firefly ships- where they’re stylized, look cool, etc. (If I’m playing a game of the imagination, I might as well make things I’d rather imagine… you know?)

So with that in mind, some tech ideas to use when I get around to playing:

Artificial Gravity

AG can produce up to 2Gs, although after you turn it on, it takes about 24 hours to produce a G under normal microgravity conditions. More mass increases the energy costs exponentially, so generally AG is just for crew quarters, or for passenger ships. (so, no, you can’t make G-bombs, or gravity warps to deflect attacks, or tractor beams).

(Game thought: Unless you have gravity, melee weapons beyond knives become mostly useless. All of our weapons and biomechanics are based on using gravity and having anchored footing of some sort. Of course, you could have stuff like chainsaw weapons, contact lasers, etc.)

Heat Lances

A common method for quickly dumping heat is a Heat Lance (also known has a Thermal Harpoon or Temp Anchor). It’s a harpoon connected by tethers to the ship, with coolant tubes – usually not more than a few hundred meters reach. You launch it into something cold (like ice) and run the coolant out to dump the heat.

Most ships have 2-4 lances, and usually keep one in reserve, in case the others get damaged. Military ships which might need to dump heat quickly or special missions might be equipped with several.

Ships that regularly travel through space with cool gases or near atmospheres also have heat webs- long grid-like nets of coolant tubes you just splay out and dump heat quickly.

(Neat game thought- this also means that ships will be leaving a “trail” of hotspots where they’ve dumped heat, and it also means that spots where you can dump heat become strategically valuable spots in space.)

Slip Stations

Any system with regular travel will set up permanent space stations near the slipknots. Great in case ships jump through damaged, also to house regular patrols to prevent piracy. More anarchist systems will probably develop one as well, which might be getting great profit from the folks who escape pirates and haul their damaged ships to them for repairs…

Slip stations would probably use heated coolant from ships to produce turbine electricity, as well as having some level of manufacturing and possibly horticulture.



  1. Good ideas. I like the idea of heat lances. Probably ships would catalog the orbits of comets and big ice asteroids, too, so if you were passing nearby you could use the ice to replenish your LS and shed some heat.

    I haven’t picked up Diaspora mostly because I prefer the more science-fantasy side of play, but I do like at least a little science flavor.

    Now you got me wanting to talk about the tech in Vanguard…

    • Yeah, I’m more science-fantasy myself as well. I’m mostly thinking about the tech side for what it sets up as plot elements – it sets up what are valuable resources and how people use them.

      Also, I just ran across my first Major Complaint about the game, which I’ll post in a bit.

  2. I’ve been using Diaspora for a Dark*Matter game; last session we had cyber-infiltrators and the introduction of a giant flying amoeba.

    I.e., the great thing about Diaspora (and FATE) is that drifting is so damn easy. The best way to think of Diaspora is “gritty” FATE. If you want BEMS and don’t want to worry about heat, it’s pretty easy.

    • Yeah. My big “problem” with it as a system is that the skill system is less interesting than the Aspects. There’s no incentive or bonus for using weaker skills, and they are never affected by whether you use them or not, so it encourages players to push all conflicts towards their top tier skills every chance they get.

      I’m trying to think of a hack that would reward/give benefit for using weaker skills, if only for variety in play. That, and some kind of social map that would fit what I have in mind.

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