View Full Version : Pulling off a space battle?

Dennis E. Taylor
02-04-2015, 06:48 AM
I'm kind of stuck on a plot point, and I could use some brainstorming suggestions. Here's the situation:

You've got a spaceship (the good guy) just arrived in a star system. An enemy ship (the bad guy) will be arriving within a short time-- weeks to months. The bad guy knows the good guy got there first, so total surprise is out. The good guy has some manufacturing capability, but doesn't know what raw materials are available yet. The bad guy has missiles. The good guy is unarmed at the moment.

I obviously want the good guy to win. I'll do it with a straight duke-em-up fight, but I'd prefer something tricky. I've got a couple of ideas, but they sound trite to me. I'd appreciate it if you could fire off (hah hah) any ideas that come to mind, either something you remember from books you've read, or anything that comes to mind.

I'm kind of blocked, here, and hopefully this can loosen something up.

Drachen Jager
02-04-2015, 07:03 AM
What level of realism are we going with here? Star Wars - 100% real?

What tech level?

If you're being realistic there are some very nasty tricks you could play if you had time and some idea where the enemy ship would appear.

02-04-2015, 07:07 AM
Should probably be in Brainstorming.

Anyways, as with any hand-to-hand/weaponless fight, try to use the environment. Could he someone make his way through a debris field, or through some planet's atmosphere and use his manufacturing abilities to help him survive this?

Dennis E. Taylor
02-04-2015, 08:14 AM
What level of realism are we going with here? Star Wars - 100% real?

What tech level?

If you're being realistic there are some very nasty tricks you could play if you had time and some idea where the enemy ship would appear.

Trying for very realistic. I have some new tech: nuclear fusion, reactionless drive, subspace radar. But the bad guy is using missiles (rocket-propelled) and not even nuclear-tipped.

Good guy knows what direction the bad guy is coming from. But the bad guy will be able to detect relativistic masses heading his way (first thing I thought of).

Dennis E. Taylor
02-04-2015, 08:19 AM
Should probably be in Brainstorming.

There's a brainstorming section? (Face-palm here)

02-04-2015, 08:32 AM
We've got a really nice (well maybe), long (hundreds of posts!) thread on the general topic here:
Realistic Space Warfare

Dennis E. Taylor
02-04-2015, 09:53 AM
Hm, thanks for that link. There's some mighty fine arguing in there. Which is good, because anything that can be argued about with that amount of heat has plenty of room for plausible interpretations. :D

And it did actually give me an idea. A frontal attack with a kinetic weapon will not work, because the target can see it coming (because, you know, subspace radar). But a big ol' distraction up front while a bunch of ball bearings come in from the side at 25% of C might be overlooked.

02-04-2015, 09:59 AM
you could take a trick of two from the athenians with salamine's battle

02-04-2015, 12:25 PM
Ramming. Ramming always works.

If they know where the bad guys are coming from, mines. Hiding them inside a dense gathering of objects, like the afore-suggested debris field, would make the harder to detect.

Personally, I'd run. Make hit and run stops to gather supplies, but just keep running (especially if they're faster than the bad guys). Maybe find some support, or simply a more favourable battleground.

02-05-2015, 12:07 AM
So many variables here, we can't possibly give you a definitive answer. So here are ideas; sift through and throw out whatever doesn't work in your universe.

First, does the fight have to occur? Is hiding or running an option? Even if the fight must happen for plot, would your character feel the same way?

As already mentioned, mines would be the preferred idea if Good Guy knows the general area of arrival. Depending on how "arrival" happens, just hunks of stuff are good enough; seed the area with debris or rocks or ice or whatever, and any ship hitting it at significant portions of C will go boom.

Otherwise, given enough time and a quick enough ship / manufacturing process, explosives are fairly easy to make. You'd need raw materials, either already aboard the ship or easily harvested (like gas from a gas giant, not anything you'd have to mine on a surface, which would likely take too long to locate and obtain).

Will the bad guy fire on sight, or can the good guy lure him in by disabling his ship some how? Make it appear like somebody beat the bad guy to the kill: vent atmosphere, debris fields, crash sites, obvious weapon scoring, whatever makes sense for your universe's tech level.

Can the good guy bluff? Manufacture fake ships that look real from a distance?

Can the good guy make fuel? Run the bad guy around until he can't maneuver any more?

Is there any way to neutralize the missiles? Either with dummy targets, or extra armor plating (see the articles on currently existing British "force fields" (http://io9.com/5499652/british-military-developing-force-fields) for ideas beyond just extra metal), or confusing their sensors, or hacking into them, or making them go off prematurely (possibly by opening an airlock and dumping debris in their path)? If missiles are the only method of attack, that just asks for exploitation.

You could just have the good guy wait around the system's entrance and make sure he is too close to the bad guy for the bad guy to open fire, or that the good guy gets too close before the bad guy manages to get a target lock and/or disarm safeties or whatever.

You can investigate the various theoretical ways of making a solar flare happen. Those have all kinds of weird impacts on technology.

Without more details behind the bad guy's motivation or the capabilities of both parties, I'm not sure I've got any other ideas.

02-06-2015, 07:10 PM
What kind of star does the solar system have? If it is a magnetar, a magnetar is a star that has a extremely high magnetic field. You could lure the bad guy close to the magnetar and that would render his weapons useless. Of course, this would render the power to both ships useless too, but if you accelerate fast enough, you could use the star's gravity traverse around the star. Just find a way to bump him into the star if you want to end the bad guy there.

02-07-2015, 02:03 AM
Here's an idea completely out of left field: The good guys make their ship look like it's abandoned and destroyed (perhaps they can find a way to simulate the damage from a meteor strike.)

The bad guys need something the good guys have, and are willing to send a landing party aboard the good guy's ship to search for it, in case the apparent disaster prevented the good guys from taking it with them.

The good guys can either ambush the landing party and send a boarding party of their own back, perhaps by taking the place of the bad guys (because one person in an environment suit probably looks like another in an environment suit) or they slip some sort of bomb onto or into the bad guy's boarding shuttle, which then goes back to the bad guy's ship with them.

02-09-2015, 05:23 PM
Just a couple of things that could catch you out:

sound does not carry in space - so no whooshing of missiles, etc. Of course, inside a planets atmosphere it would carry.
physical projectiles will succumb to gravity, so if fired near a planet it would probably go into some sort of orbit.

That last one could be handy for catching out the bad guy - fire backwards round a planet, then keep him distracted until it comes round behind him.

02-09-2015, 05:56 PM
Reactionless drive + Asteroids = Big bad kinetic weapons.

But realistic space battles are very complicated and often don't make any sense because of how easy it is to dodge in space especially with reactionless drives.