Uncle Jimbo's Bug Huntin' Range
After centuries of quiet expansion, the nefarious mental subversion efforts of the Gelquan and the so-called Collective of Free Sentients have at last been exposed to view. The Conclave of Free Species was hastily formed to defend against the Gelquan and their Collective stooges. Those few species which have the natural ability to bear arms have gladly volunteered to liberate the galaxy from Gelquan domination.
Both the Conclave and Collective know well that the only object of interstellar war is to secure control of populations, and that no educated population can be kept in line by fear. Their strategy is to capture the means of communication of each planet with the least possible visible violence, then win the population to their side with reasoned debate and economic assistance. It is of paramount importance that every military strike can be justified as an act of liberation, directed solely against the mad and evil schemes of the enemy.
Leadership - inspire checks by each side, designed to win over the population, suffer penalties if the leader's force has used any of these means: Medium-size hyperships, weapons of mass destruction, strategic arms, ground assault, bombardment, damage to populated areas, psionic powers, or human troops.
The starships of the known galaxy use the hyperdrive, powered by the tachyonic collider. Its workings are far more punitive to large vessels than the description in "Warships". The power requirement of a hyperdrive is the square of its size in Hull Points. The largest vessel ever sent into hyperspace was of battlecruiser class (960 Hull Points) but was an experimental vessel almost entirely filled with power units. The largest functional warships are the Conclave's new assault ships, which are equivalent to an armoured cruiser.
Star systems maintain communication by use of the ansible, a hyperspace communicator that sends instantaneous messages across light years, limited mostly by its power supply (use the starfall distance table).
The weaponry of both the Conclave and Collective is severely backward by the standards of PL 7, since neither side had any interest in weapons development until the conflict between the two exploded into open warfare.
Under the influence of high-ranking humans, the Conclave has developed the weapon types described for PL 6. The Collective has copied them with some success. Although many of the listed PL 7 weapons have been proposed in theory, the only ones which have been successfully brought into use are the power cestus, mass pistol and rifle, and arc gun. The rail gun is treated as a PL 7 weapon, and as such imposes a +1 penalty on a human operator.
Both sides use most of the armours described for PL 6, except for powered attack armour. The deflector harness is also a standard defensive form.
Most of the vehicles used in ground conflict are swift transports and gunships derived from civilian skycars. Vehicles equivalent to skytanks and aerospace fighters are also fielded in the fiercest conflicts. Vehicles can have polymeric or reactive (as for spaceships) armour of Light or Medium grade. They are armed with advanced missiles and charge machineguns, with light charge cannons and arc cannons on the heaviest attack vehicles.
In human parlance, the Conclave and Collective spaceships are "eggshells armed with sledgehammers". The power of spaceship weaponry far exceeds any conceivable physical armour, especially those archaic types derived from metal. Spaceships can have only Light polymeric or reactive armour (Light reactive armour has armour values of d4+1LI/d6-1HI/d4-1En as in "Starships"). In addition, the optional decompression rule from Starships is used - any unsaved Wound damage to a compartment exposes the interior to vacuum.
Other defensive systems are notably more effective. The Conclave and Collective both use all PL 6 defensive systems and the deflection inducer.
In general, both the Conclave and Collective have the Computers, Fusion Tech, Gravity Manipulation, Quantum Manipulation and Super-Materials tech tracks, though not all the potential weapons technologies have been developed.
The standard weapons of space combat are missiles (PL 7 propulsion but no mass seeker heads) and mines with AA, CHE or KE-Submunition warheads, all PL 6 Projectile weapons (using PL 7 range scale) and accelerators. The plasma torpedo is in use, but has not yet been perfected (use the Range, Firepower and Damage listed for the matter torpedo). Nuclear weapons are authorised for use only from the theatre command level, in the most desperate circumstances. Cable guns, tractor beams and hyperspace inhibitors provide special advantages. A range of light railguns have been developed for use by smaller craft, while the heaviest cruisers carry turret-mounted twin railguns.
In these conditions, missiles are favoured by their much longer range, but are quite likely to be shot down by the multiple defensive measures of a corvette, frigate or destroyer. Railguns and torpedoes are close-in weapons, usually restricted to larger ships, but are both more damaging and more likely to penetrate defensive systems.
The velocity of a battlecraft is highly important. Ships travelling at significant fractions of lightspeed, such as those entering a system from a hyperspace jump, are almost impossible for system defenders to target, and their missiles strike with hugely magnified damage. Thus system ships and battle stations are usually easy prey for invaders, despite their much larger size.