Sysgen Series: Planet Types

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Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Cralis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 12:05

I'm going to start a series of topics about various sections of ULTRA. The goal here is to get some feedback about certain topics in the rules that I feel could use some "spice" (aka optional rules).

In the first series I want to address system generation. This is the first such topic in this series.

Planet Types. For the most part there isn't anything wrong with the planet types, I just think we could be a little more clear with how we designate them.

1. For years I've thought the O1, O2, and O3 planet types were confusing to new players. I've seen new players struggle over what each means. I don't remember who suggested it, but the suggestion of changing them to H, B, and F is a great idea for ULTRA.

2. I've started calling all moons "mX" where X is the planet type. So "mB" or "mH" for example. The reason for this is because when I parse populations in my spreadsheet I noticed that I don't have context. I don't automatically know that the population on "Redmond" is a moon unless I'm familiar with the placement of the population. While that is easy early on, later with dozens of populations this really starts to matter. Rule L1.01b shows that habitable moons are reduced by a population row, and non-habitable moons have their own row.

3. Mass 1 planets in the gaseous and ice zones are also odd. On one hand we talk about how small mass 1 planets are in rocky zones, yet somehow such an incrementally smaller planet in the gaseous and icy zones remains large enough to be considered type-G or type-I? Also, it passes up an opportunity to explain the possibility of smaller rocky planets in those zones. So what about changing mass-1 gaseous planets into type-B, and mass-1 icy planets into type-F?

4. Not quite planet type, but with the H, B, F naming system I really think that both H and F should have a -15 to the W7.01 moon quantity roll, taking the current place of the type-O3.

Thoughts? Comments?
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Crucis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 12:31

Cralis wrote:I'm going to start a series of topics about various sections of ULTRA. The goal here is to get some feedback about certain topics in the rules that I feel could use some "spice" (aka optional rules).

In the first series I want to address system generation. This is the first such topic in this series.

Planet Types. For the most part there isn't anything wrong with the planet types, I just think we could be a little more clear with how we designate them.

1. For years I've thought the O1, O2, and O3 planet types were confusing to new players. I've seen new players struggle over what each means. I don't remember who suggested it, but the suggestion of changing them to H, B, and F is a great idea for ULTRA.


Matt, I actually started the discussion that produced the HBF types, just after my initial Cosmic Starfire annoucement last year. I think that my initial suggestion was a little different, but suggestions from other people evolved it to the H, B, F version which is quite good, IMHO.

2. I've started calling all moons "mX" where X is the planet type. So "mB" or "mH" for example. The reason for this is because when I parse populations in my spreadsheet I noticed that I don't have context. I don't automatically know that the population on "Redmond" is a moon unless I'm familiar with the placement of the population. While that is easy early on, later with dozens of populations this really starts to matter. Rule L1.01b shows that habitable moons are reduced by a population row, and non-habitable moons have their own row.


This "mX" style of moon coding also evolved from the HBF planetary types discussions. It was also suggested that different types of asteroid belts might be coded "aX" (i.e. aH, aB, or aF), depending on the location of the AB.


3. Mass 1 planets in the gaseous and ice zones are also odd. On one hand we talk about how small mass 1 planets are in rocky zones, yet somehow such an incrementally smaller planet in the gaseous and icy zones remains large enough to be considered type-G or type-I? Also, it passes up an opportunity to explain the possibility of smaller rocky planets in those zones. So what about changing mass-1 gaseous planets into type-B, and mass-1 icy planets into type-F?


I think that the thing here is that those mass ratings seem to be fairly relative things. So, yes, you could have mass 1 gas giants, which are, relatively speaking, vastly more massive than a mass 1 rocky planet.

But having said that, I fully understand what you're getting at and, as you well know, have wrestled with this issue for Cosmic Starfire's sysgen rules. It would be nice to allow for the possibility of type B planets in the gas zone or type F planets in the ice zone, as long as it didn't complicate thing too much.

An idea that could be used is the following. Create another line in the mass table, by proportionally removing percentage points from the other mass brackets, and using the "removed" points (perhaps 4 percentage points) to create a small new bracket. I've thought of calling this new bracket "exotics", but it could just as easily be thought of as "Mass 0". "Mass 0" (or whatever) could be how things like small Type B planets could exist in the gas zone, or Type F planets could exist in the ice zone.

Of course, this begs the question as to what to do in the Rocky zone. Asteroid belts formed for some unexplained reason (typed by its specific location)? A rogue gas giant? Perhaps an HGT in the biosphere.


4. Not quite planet type, but with the H, B, F naming system I really think that both H and F should have a -15 to the W7.01 moon quantity roll, taking the current place of the type-O3.


Seems ok to me. (Also remembering that type H's would take a further -50 for being mass 1 rocky planets...)
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Cralis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 13:20

Crucis wrote:This "mX" style of moon coding also evolved from the HBF planetary types discussions. It was also suggested that different types of asteroid belts might be coded "aX" (i.e. aH, aB, or aF), depending on the location of the AB.


I've been using "mX" coding since Imperial Starfire. The idea is not new, it simply hasn't been codified.

As for the asteroid belts, what would be the purpose of their "type" ?

I think that the thing here is that those mass ratings seem to be fairly relative things. So, yes, you could have mass 1 gas giants, which are, relatively speaking, vastly more massive than a mass 1 rocky planet.


Maybe I wasn't clear enough. They shouldn't be so relative. Either they represent a concrete value or they are worthless for comparison's sake.

Realistically speaking, mass categories should remain relatively the same across the board. A Mass 3 rocky planet should have a mass close to that of a mass 3 gas giant. The difference is that most of the mass of the gas giant is in its atmosphere, where most of the mass of a rocky planet is bound in its crust. Density ratios will be different, simply because they are comprised of different elements.

But having said that, I fully understand what you're getting at and, as you well know, have wrestled with this issue for Cosmic Starfire's sysgen rules. It would be nice to allow for the possibility of type B planets in the gas zone or type F planets in the ice zone, as long as it didn't complicate thing too much.

An idea that could be used is the following. Create another line in the mass table, by proportionally removing percentage points from the other mass brackets, and using the "removed" points (perhaps 4 percentage points) to create a small new bracket. I've thought of calling this new bracket "exotics", but it could just as easily be thought of as "Mass 0". "Mass 0" (or whatever) could be how things like small Type B planets could exist in the gas zone, or Type F planets could exist in the ice zone.

Of course, this begs the question as to what to do in the Rocky zone. Asteroid belts formed for some unexplained reason (typed by its specific location)? A rogue gas giant? Perhaps an HGT in the biosphere.


Mass 0 has been used for moons. I don't think it is codified, but it was how we used it during design. Basically mass 0 is a volume that is a fraction of a mass 1 planet, as all regular moons are. Note that under this design things like asteroids effectively don't have a mass rating. This is because asteroids (in belts or orbital categories) are taken as a whole, not individually.

The problem I have with the "exotics" idea is that it breaks from the normal, but stays on a normal table. Stuff like that should be in an anomaly table. There is a different normal change I'd consider, but I'll leave that for a different topic in the series.

Seems ok to me. (Also remembering that type H's would take a further -50 for being mass 1 rocky planets...)


Right, and they should. We shouldn't find very many Mercury-like planets with moons :-)
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Crucis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 13:57

Cralis wrote:
Crucis wrote:This "mX" style of moon coding also evolved from the HBF planetary types discussions. It was also suggested that different types of asteroid belts might be coded "aX" (i.e. aH, aB, or aF), depending on the location of the AB.


I've been using "mX" coding since Imperial Starfire. The idea is not new, it simply hasn't been codified.

As for the asteroid belts, what would be the purpose of their "type" ?


Moons: Well, it will be codified for Cosmic, and hopefully for Ultra as well at some point.

AB's: There could be a number of reasons for doing so.

First and foremost, assuming the basic Ultra model of handling AB's, coding AB's would affect the cost to colonize them. After all, aH or aF belts would be "extreme" environments for Terrestrial races, whereas aB belts would be "desolate" environments.

There could be other reasons for utilizing such a coding as well.


I think that the thing here is that those mass ratings seem to be fairly relative things. So, yes, you could have mass 1 gas giants, which are, relatively speaking, vastly more massive than a mass 1 rocky planet.


Maybe I wasn't clear enough. They shouldn't be so relative. Either they represent a concrete value or they are worthless for comparison's sake.

Realistically speaking, mass categories should remain relatively the same across the board. A Mass 3 rocky planet should have a mass close to that of a mass 3 gas giant. The difference is that most of the mass of the gas giant is in its atmosphere, where most of the mass of a rocky planet is bound in its crust. Density ratios will be different, simply because they are comprised of different elements.



I think that you're getting into too much detail here. It's just not that important. There's no need to compare the masses of Gas giants and Rocky planets. This is a game, not a simulation for an astronomy class.

I could produce a not too terribly complex set of numbers for masses that might be semi-realistic. But in the end, I just don't see the value-add for the game. It just seems like an unnecessary complication. :|



But having said that, I fully understand what you're getting at and, as you well know, have wrestled with this issue for Cosmic Starfire's sysgen rules. It would be nice to allow for the possibility of type B planets in the gas zone or type F planets in the ice zone, as long as it didn't complicate thing too much.

An idea that could be used is the following. Create another line in the mass table, by proportionally removing percentage points from the other mass brackets, and using the "removed" points (perhaps 4 percentage points) to create a small new bracket. I've thought of calling this new bracket "exotics", but it could just as easily be thought of as "Mass 0". "Mass 0" (or whatever) could be how things like small Type B planets could exist in the gas zone, or Type F planets could exist in the ice zone.

Of course, this begs the question as to what to do in the Rocky zone. Asteroid belts formed for some unexplained reason (typed by its specific location)? A rogue gas giant? Perhaps an HGT in the biosphere.


Mass 0 has been used for moons. I don't think it is codified, but it was how we used it during design. Basically mass 0 is a volume that is a fraction of a mass 1 planet, as all regular moons are. Note that under this design things like asteroids effectively don't have a mass rating. This is because asteroids (in belts or orbital categories) are taken as a whole, not individually.

The problem I have with the "exotics" idea is that it breaks from the normal, but stays on a normal table. Stuff like that should be in an anomaly table. There is a different normal change I'd consider, but I'll leave that for a different topic in the series.


I agree that Mass 0 isn't a particularly good term in this case. And "exotics" may not be much better. However, it seems to me that you are actually talking about "anomalies"... that is, a rare situation.

So what if it says on the normal table? Tidelocked Type T/ST planets around Red Dwarves (not to really create a tangent) are a rare situation (an extremely rare situation) that's on the "normal" table. Should it removed from the "normal" tables too, because it's not "normal" (as in "common")? For example, in my above idea, you might have "abnormal" (as in "not common for their location") planets represent 4% of the planetary mass table. Why should that be considered any less "normal" than the Red Dwarf/Type T/ST planet situation that's far more rare?


Seems ok to me. (Also remembering that type H's would take a further -50 for being mass 1 rocky planets...)


Right, and they should. We shouldn't find very many Mercury-like planets with moons :-)


Didn't say otherwise...

My assumption for the justification is that Mercury type planets may have potential moons burned away or sucked away by the star due to its proximity, whereas Type F planets (Pluto-like?) are far enough distant that their star's gravitational pull is too weak to suck in those potential moons.
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby PracticalM on Sun 02 Aug 2009 14:37

1. I've never seen any confusion about O planet types. So I'm not a fan of it changing.

2. Adding an m prefix to the planet type is a good idea, though it means updating the spreadsheets to handle it correctly.

3. I don't think the mass value for gas giants has any game effect. Unless there's a factor in moon generation. I don't a value in changing the planet type away from gas giants without significantly dealing with the changes to G based races.

4. The moons of O1 and O3 planets were never important so I don't know that this matters much.
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Cralis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 14:58

crucis wrote:First and foremost, assuming the basic Ultra model of handling AB's, coding AB's would affect the cost to colonize them. After all, aH or aF belts would be "extreme" environments for Terrestrial races, whereas aB belts would be "desolate" environments.


Ahhh interesting idea. Hmmm. But shouldn't changing their environment also change their max PU? Perhaps this could be used to keep AB really far from the star from having uber-massive populations? This is what killed one of the ideas I floated to Marvin about asteroid disks (the max PU for those types of systems were astronomical!)

crucis wrote:I agree that Mass 0 isn't a particularly good term in this case. And "exotics" may not be much better. However, it seems to me that you are actually talking about "anomalies"... that is, a rare situation.

So what if it says on the normal table? Tidelocked Type T/ST planets around Red Dwarves (not to really create a tangent) are a rare situation (an extremely rare situation) that's on the "normal" table. Should it removed from the "normal" tables too, because it's not "normal" (as in "common")? For example, in my above idea, you might have "abnormal" (as in "not common for their location") planets represent 4% of the planetary mass table. Why should that be considered any less "normal" than the Red Dwarf/Type T/ST planet situation that's far more rare?


Your confusing me, and I'm not sure you didn't confuse yourself.

The frequency of a result does not make it "normal" or "abnormal" in ULTRA. Let me clarify how I will use the terminology:

normal: this indicates that the result can be created during normal system generation. This means it is not an anomaly system, nor any form of abnormality (ie. not handled in section W right now).

abnormal: this indicates a result that will be handled by special case rules. Currently the only such results are anomaly systems. I will be introducing a sysgen topic on this soon.

PracticalM wrote:1. I've never seen any confusion about O planet types. So I'm not a fan of it changing.

2. Adding an m prefix to the planet type is a good idea, though it means updating the spreadsheets to handle it correctly.

3. I don't think the mass value for gas giants has any game effect. Unless there's a factor in moon generation. I don't a value in changing the planet type away from gas giants without significantly dealing with the changes to G based races.

4. The moons of O1 and O3 planets were never important so I don't know that this matters much.


Actually for #4, I played a game where I created an outpost on the sole moon around a type-V world in a binary system, where the other binary was a class B star and was so close there were only two type-V worlds. Through that outpost I was able to extend the CFN and provide a forward base for building munitions for my fleet. It can matter :-)

But to address your points, the mass does matter for moon generation. But more importantly, it matters because otherwise there is zero variability in the unbroken chain of "G" and "I" in the gaseous and icy zones of every star. Variety is good.

And for me it is more realistic. I know that doesn't matter to most people, so I'm bringing it up last.
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Crucis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 15:00

PracticalM wrote:1. I've never seen any confusion about O planet types. So I'm not a fan of it changing.


I've always found O1 and O2 confusing from day 1 in 3e. In 2e, they were a single type ... Type O. Not sure what the "O" stood for, but it was Type O. And while "O" never made any sense, it covered all Mercury/Mars/Pluto types, so there really wan't much confusion. But with 3 different O subtypes, I just can never remember what is an O1 and wht is an O3.

It's confusing because they make no mnemonic sense. T, ST, V, G, and I all make sense because you can infer the type from the letters. But what's an O1, or an O2, or in Ultra, an O3? Mercury-like? Mars-like? Pluto-like? The only one of those planets with even one 'O' in it is Pluto.

Types H, B, and F are vastly more sensible, because they follow the same pattern as the existing types, wherein the letter code has some meaning that makes it more memorable. H for Hot, B for Barren, and F for Frozen. Much more memorable than O1, O2, O3.
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Crucis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 15:12

Cralis wrote:
crucis wrote:First and foremost, assuming the basic Ultra model of handling AB's, coding AB's would affect the cost to colonize them. After all, aH or aF belts would be "extreme" environments for Terrestrial races, whereas aB belts would be "desolate" environments.


Ahhh interesting idea. Hmmm. But shouldn't changing their environment also change their max PU? Perhaps this could be used to keep AB really far from the star from having uber-massive populations? This is what killed one of the ideas I floated to Marvin about asteroid disks (the max PU for those types of systems were astronomical!)



Absolutely! Like I said, "There could be other reasons for utilizing such a coding as well." Using AB coding could certainly limit AB populations, say, for Type aH or aF belts... maybe limited to half the numbers for Type aB belts, or maybe just say that aH/aF belts have population limits of only "10 x LM".

It could also be used to limit the value of the belt's AB Bonus. For example, perhaps aB belts get the "normal" +10% per belt ABB, whereas aH/aF belts are only +5% per belt ABB.



crucis wrote:I agree that Mass 0 isn't a particularly good term in this case. And "exotics" may not be much better. However, it seems to me that you are actually talking about "anomalies"... that is, a rare situation.

So what if it says on the normal table? Tidelocked Type T/ST planets around Red Dwarves (not to really create a tangent) are a rare situation (an extremely rare situation) that's on the "normal" table. Should it removed from the "normal" tables too, because it's not "normal" (as in "common")? For example, in my above idea, you might have "abnormal" (as in "not common for their location") planets represent 4% of the planetary mass table. Why should that be considered any less "normal" than the Red Dwarf/Type T/ST planet situation that's far more rare?


Your confusing me, and I'm not sure you didn't confuse yourself.


No, I understood exactly what I was saying.... :)

The frequency of a result does not make it "normal" or "abnormal" in ULTRA. Let me clarify how I will use the terminology:

normal: this indicates that the result can be created during normal system generation. This means it is not an anomaly system, nor any form of abnormality (ie. not handled in section W right now).

abnormal: this indicates a result that will be handled by special case rules. Currently the only such results are anomaly systems. I will be introducing a sysgen topic on this soon.


I'd say that "anomaly systems" actually are a part of the normal sysgen process because you can roll it up on the System Type table. It's "oddities" that are outside of the normal sysgen process. ;)
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby Cralis on Sun 02 Aug 2009 15:21

I see what you are saying, but the anomalies are special case rules. They are specifically created using the rules for that anomaly system alone, and those rules are used no where else. By definition they aren't part of the normal process :-)
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Re: Sysgen Series: Planet Types

Postby PracticalM on Sun 02 Aug 2009 19:18

I guess i just don't care that much about variety. I do know that changing the G and I planets away cause the exotic races to need rebalancing.

To me since most of the Os were not that important for economic purposes beyond setting a population in the system. I don't care about the names. H B and F don't have any more meaning to me than any other letter. They don't even seem to correspond to realistic planet types (which really just separate into 3 types Super Terrestrial, Terrestrial, or Dwarf).
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