Designers' Notes: Transhuman Space: Under Pressure

by David Morgan-Mar, Kenneth Peters, & Constantine Thomas

Conception

"I was quite looking forward to [Blue Shadow], if (as Kenneth Peters suggests on his web site) a significant chunk of the book would concern Europa and its world ocean."
-- Constantine Thomas, Yahoo! Groups Transhuman Space group, January 12, 2002

Transhuman Space: Under Pressure began as an idea named Blue Shadow on David Pulver's initial list of planned Transhuman Space titles. It was to deal with life on and under the oceans of 2100, building on the vast technological and social upheavals outlined in the core book. The name was changed to Under Pressure during production, to avoid confusion with GURPS Blue Planet, an excellent conversion of Fantasy Flight Games' aquatic campaign world.

When the core book was released in January, 2002, Blue Shadow had not yet been assigned an author. Constantine and I (DMM) were talking on the Pyramid Chat soon after, when David Pulver appeared. Knowing Constantine was a planetary scientist, he asked him if he would like to write Blue Shadow. Although keen on the idea, Constantine felt such a project would be too large for him to take on alone, and the conversation turned to other matters.

Afterward, I approached Constantine with the suggestion that we collaborate on a proposal for the book, since I felt I could handle the Earth-based material if he could do the extraterrestrial stuff. We sent a query to David Pulver, who suggested we add Kenneth Peters to our group, as a GURPS Vehicles expert qualified to write the Modular Vehicle Design System that was required. With that, our triumvirate was born.

Brainstorming

"Yes, you too can play a clam. No, not uplifted or mutated or psionic or magical or a refugee from another universe. Just an average, everyday clam. But! It can be given an Aerospace Piloting skill set and be uploaded as a Shadow and then downloaded into a toaster! Does the part where you stick the bread in count as a Flesh Pocket? Hey, stop looking at me!"
-- Kenneth Peters, e-mail to David Pulver, February 12, 2002

The easy part done, we had to come up with a proposal stuffed to the gills with so many cool ideas that The Powers That Be could hardly say "no." In this stage were born many of the concepts that made it into the book, such as aquacrete, cetanism, and squidpacks. We also discussed and rejected some ideas, such as introducing native macroscopic life to Europa, and bioships. Although submarine bioships -- vehicles grown as genemod organisms -- sounded cool, the difficulty of making them suitably pressurized to carry human passengers in the sea forced us to conclude that they would be too expensive and impractical to be realistic.

We developed the Calamarine, a gengineered squid bioshell, at this stage. It was originally envisioned to be based on the giant squid, some 80 feet long, with a biological blue-green laser weapon to complement its already awesome natural armament -- an idea that caused Kenneth to draw comparisons to Dr. Evil's "sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads." The vulnerability of such a large creature to heavy weaponry made us rethink the concept, and we finally settled on the smaller Humboldt squid-based "shock troop" design seen in the book.

Execution

"There are three planned books on Earth: Fifth Wave, Broken Dreams, and Blue Shadow. The three books form one of those 'balanced triangle' things like they use to promote healthy diet and stuff. If I were to summarize each in one word, I'd say Fifth Wave is 'Technology,' Broken Dreams is 'Society' -- and Blue Shadow is 'Environment.'
-- David Morgan-Mar, Pyramid chat, May 31, 2002

I said that before I had seen a copy of Fifth Wave. Jon F. Zeigler later said to me that he thought Fifth Wave was about society too, and I agree with him, though I would add that it is how society has reacted to technology. Nonetheless, the overlying theme of Under Pressure is the interaction of transhuman technology with the environment -- a theme only touched on by the other books.

We used this theme to drive much of the material in the book. The oceanic focus and the interaction of humanity with the environment, both on Earth and off it, provided background or inspiration for many of the technologies, organizations, and occurrences that we developed. Extrapolations from present-day trends led to sometimes frightening conclusions, that had to be tempered or avoided by technology.

An overriding constraint was fitting our material into the Transhuman Space canon. Four books had been released and another four had been through playtest by the time we finished writing, so there was a wealth of material to draw on, and to be consistent with!

The ecoterrorist organization Blue Shadow caused particular problems. From the core book we knew that it was "preservationist," yet it was dedicated to protecting and rescuing uplifted sea creatures -- a seeming inconsistency with the ideals of Preservationism. We solved this by mixing the pan-sapient rights meme into Blue Shadow's brand of Preservationism, providing justification for saving existing uplifts while at the same time campaigning against their creation. This also neatly explained Blue Shadow's aversion to inflicting casualties of any kind.

Writing underwater material to be consistent with existing GURPS rules was a real challenge. We caused more than our fair share of gray hairs on Dr. Kromm's head as we bounced rule interpretations, rewrites, reality checks, and new rules off him. We worked closely with Jon F. Zeigler and Bill Stoddard on these issues, so we could have a consistent set of underwater rules with GURPS Blue Planet. Anthony Jackson was a great help with many technical and rules issues.

The mechanics of writing the manuscript were complicated by the fact that we had three authors . . . on three different continents. Thankfully, the manuscript divided fairly neatly into parts that we could work on independently before integrating them into a whole. Despite being in widely separated time zones, we often had long private discussions on the Pyramid Chat about various ideas and passages of writing. This particular piece of 2002 technology proved invaluable in the assembling of the book, by allowing virtual meetings, without which our cooperative effort would have been almost impossible. The telepresence world of 2100 has its beginnings in the here and now.

Real life intruded on the writing process in interesting ways. I lost my job to the downturn in the I.T. industry. Constantine was busy writing and revising his Ph.D. thesis -- on the internal structure of the Jovian moons. His Europan ocean model was developed with state-of-the-art planetary modelling software created for his thesis, and will hopefully be the subject of a scientific paper! Kenneth, meanwhile, received involuntary recall orders for active duty with the USMC in Hawaii. Some of his emails from there got lost, and we were imagining his C.O. leafing through detailed technical statistics of military submersibles that had been intercepted being sent from Sergeant Peters' account . . . On the plus side he had better access to military periodicals and the knowledge of the logistics officers he works with (who as active duty and reserve Marine officers also had a great breadth of experience in other fields).

The Crunchy Bits

Even though our page count expanded from 128 to 144, and finally 160 pages, there was a good deal of material we couldn't squeeze in. And then there was some material we came up with that simply shouldn't have gone in . . .

"And today, a pod of environmentalist Pilot Whales beached themselves near a crowded human city in protest at the simians' continuing destruction of the oceans. As usual, the humans were too stupid to realize what they were doing and put them back in the water. A repeat protest to hammer the point home ended in tragedy when all 47 whales died after the humans couldn't be bothered with them any more."
-- Pilot Whale Sonar News Channel

Character Types

We cut the following two character types, suitable for many Transhuman Space campaigns, from the manuscript. The names are Russian.

Boyevik ("Mobster")

"Yeah, I'm a Triad and an ethnic Russian, so what? Haven't you heard that crime went international over a century ago? Hey, don't look at me like that, we serve a useful function for society. There will always be losers and dropouts -- I don't care how long people live or what their bodies look like or even how much money they have in the bank -- we give these people a purpose and control them at the same time. Why do you think we're called organized crime? The only alternative is a bunch of independent rabble looting and pillaging like mad dogs."

Whoever said, "crime doesn't pay" was never a criminal. You maintain "investments" around the world that make you more money then a small corporation. Hundreds of millions of dollars pass through your hands each month; you're not risking your life for nickel and dime racketeering and prostitution. You dabble in funding ecoterrorists in Nigeria so they disrupt a competitor's mining platforms and recently blackmailed a genetic engineer at VeldtKorp so you can sell their newest proteus nanovirus developments to your contacts in the Martian Triads. Just a few more lucrative operations and you'll move up and join the "old men" who pull your strings and really make things happens. In your mind there is very little difference between what you do and the CEO of a multinational corporation, although the CEO may have less assassins on the payroll.

Advantages: Allies and Contacts are important. Alternate Identities and Zeroed can be instrumental in evading arrest and your competitors. Wealth (including levels of Multimillionaire) are appropriate, but if it was just money you wanted it would have been easier becoming a corporate manager.

Disadvantages: Enemy, Greed, Involuntary Duty (to your cartel), Paranoia, Secret. Bloodlust and Code of Honor (stays bought) are common with some of the older gangsters.

Skills: Acting, Administration, Detect Lies, Law, Merchant, and Streetwise. Holdout, Guns, and Intimidation will be useful during the occasional cartel shakeup.

Volk ("Wolf")

"A lot of people have moved to the oceans to escape the stifling control of governments, corporations, their parents, the media, whatever. Many escaped the tyranny of nanny states like the United States and most of Europe. But they still have problems they need dealt with, justice still needs to be served at its most basic level -- an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The sheep of the world need to hire wolves like me to keep the other predators at a safe distance. It can get a bit messy, but that's why I charge a premium."

Problems have solutions, and that's where you come in. You're a professional contract enforcer, sometimes working for criminal syndicates but usually doing your best to keep your clients safe by force of reputation. Those who haven't lived a day outside their carefully managed arcologies call it extortion; to the inhabitants of a floating shantytown off the New Mumbai arcology you're the closest thing to the law they have. Communities occasionally hire you to keep the peace, and those are the jobs you like the best. At least then you can pretend you're not just a legbreaker working for the highest bidder. You make your living based on the fact that people trust you to complete your contract to the letter. Some people get the idea they can bribe you out of fulfilling your contract; those people usually end up dead.

Advantages: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Danger Sense, Fit, Hard to Kill, Reputation.

Disadvantages: Bloodlust, Code of Honor (stays bought), Contacts. You may have a Higher Purpose.

Skills: Brawling, Guns, Interrogation, Intimidation, Law, Streetwise.

Hardware and Wetware

Transhuman Space is a mix of conservative and optimistic views of the future. The concepts behind almost all of the technology are either already being experimented with or there are programs underway to explore those possibilities. Much of the technology in Chapter 6: Aquatic Technology we'll probably see by 2020 in some form or another. Much of what looks like science fiction (like the shark repelling field generators) you can buy now!

I (Kenneth Peters) used GURPS Vehicles heavily in developing the hardware, partly because it gives a starting benchmark for performance at various Tech Levels, but mainly because it helps keep the technology consistent. I've listed some of the technical assumptions we used in Chapter 6 so you have an idea of what we were smoking to get the statistics.

Oceanic Energy: The OTEC generator was originally a vehicle module in the Appendix (based on the rules in GURPS Vehicles Expansion 1), but we decided that it was so massive and limited in application that it fit better in Chapter 5. The other generators are not designed with GURPS Vehicles -- because that book has no system to cover them.

Microgenerators: There were some questions as to what the point of these were compared to batteries. One reason is that they are solidly TL8 and thus readily available to Fourth Wave individuals. Weight tends to be higher overall, but the generators are built with a structure and armored -- they become more advantageous over longer periods.

Muscle Generators: This was built as an extra-light steel structure with a 0.4-kW muscle engine, cycle seat, and integral 0.4 kWh hour battery. Surface area was based on a volume of 0.5 cf (components volume is 0.2 cf). We bloated the cf listed as that's the minimum it takes to actually operate -- consider it an Exposed "Very Cramped" Standing Room requirement.

Lift Bags: Lift bags are "built" by multiplying their inflated surface area by 0.3 to get weight and 10 to get cost. Hardcore gearheads will note this is 100 times the gasbag weight and cost on p. VE20. This multiplier gives good results matching real lift bags at TL6 and TL7.

Personal Transport: The finpants and finsocks were built using GURPS Vehicles, albeit taking some liberties with determining what hydrodynamic lines they have.

Supercavitating Minitorpedoes: Pure GURPS Vehicles designs, with the one exception that underwater drag was not rounded. I based their volume on the weight of the standard missiles in Transhuman Space so they could be fired from standard launchers. I divided their weight by 50 to get volume in cubic feet, then consulted the surface area calculation on p. VE18 (the chart does not have enough detail for stuff this small).

Note: Hydrojet powered designs are problematic with straight GURPS Vehicles because of their minimum weight (even if that is ignored they have horrible performance at this size).

Lost Technology: Direct Blood Oxygenation

This was an interesting idea that simply didn't pass muster as far as feasibility and competitiveness with liquid breathing and rebreathers.

Direct Blood Oxygenation Unit: The blood oxygenator bypasses conventional respiration completely, and does not interfere with cetacean-analog diving reflexes. The unit consists of an invasive routing system that takes deoxygenated blood out of the body, a filtration and gas injection unit using the same electrolysis technology as artificial gills, and a return catheter to supply freshly oxygenated blood back to the body. Gas partial pressures are computer controlled, so there is no risk of oxygen toxicity or the bends. Does not interfere with the Oxygen Storage advantage, unlike other breathing systems. Purchase as an artificial gill with 2 weight and 10 cost.

Vehicles

Vehicles suitable for adventuring tend to be military or utility vessels, but we wanted to include (and there was considerable demand for) civilian cargo vessels. Unfortunately, the last minute cut to word count meant that the cargo container text was shortened considerably, and two cargo vehicle designs were dropped. These components and vehicles, plus an emergency submarine escape capsule design, are presented here.

Transhuman Space Technical Appendix Additions

In addition to the basic setting modifications, the following rules were used to design vehicles:

Supercavitating Lines: The designer may ignore the 1.05 weight multiplier.
Very Fine Lines: Not normally available (at least, not for free!).
Hull Shapes: A simplified hull shape system is to assign a 1.2 volume multiplier for "cylindrical" hulls -- submersible hulls are already cylindrical and do get no benefit from this option. Multiply by 2 if spherical.
Submersible Design Option: This is not required in Transhuman Space unless you wish to simplify the design process. Instead, purchase ballast tanks as storage tanks with a 2 cost multiplier to cover vents and trim ducts.
Plastic Armor: This has an M of 0.1 and a C of 0.5. For every 10 points of damage it sustains (regardless of whether it protects or not) one point of DR is destroyed afterward.
Roll Stabilizers: Replace with Fin Stabilizers, multiply surface area by 0.01 to get weight, and 0.2 to get cost.
Periscopes: Build these as turrets but increase rotation space by 10% for every foot of length it can extend.
Snorkel Tubes: These are free if the vessel has submarine lines (either type).
Sonar Communicators: Divide range by 100 rather then the 10 specified in GURPS Vehicles Expansion I.
Sonar: Sonars use conformal arrays and distributed transducer arrays for full coverage. Flat sonars that cover a single hemisphere are available at half weight, volume, cost and power. If range is over 1 mile then square the range before multiplying by the values below. New sonars multiply weight and volume by 0.5, but cost is multiplied by 4.

TL

Type

Weight

Volume

Cost

Power

Old

Active Sonar

40

0.8

$4,000

2

The towed array and dipping sonar options are technically available but not recommended for use.

Passive Sonar Targeting: Passive sonar can be used for targeting.
Magnetic Anomaly Detectors (MAD): This technology was approaching obsolescence in regards to antisubmarine warfare by late TL7 and had hit a wall in the physical limits of their detection capability. In TL9 it is an interesting toy mainly useful for picking up emag signature spikes. It will not detect submarines (even if they are made of steel the signature reduction is such that it's a fool's game).
Sonar IFF: Can be used, but active sonar can work as a sonar IFF out to twice its normal range (this does not impede normal function).
Bilge Pumps: You don't get free bilge pumps.
Diving Controls: You get a free extra set if you purchase duplicate maneuver controls.
Planing: Multiply Ath by 1.2 to see if the vessel can plane if it has a lifting body hull.
Submerged Hydrodynamic Drag: Equal to (surface area 2.5)/Ls.
Crush Pressure: As in GURPS Atlantis but the shape modifier is 6 for submersible lines and 3 otherwise. Spheres have a shape modifier of 24 and cylinders have a shape modifier of 6. Only watertight compartments need to calculate a crush pressure. Note that sonars must be in contact with the working fluid in order to function so they are usually placed in a flooded section of the hull.

375 lbs./VSP Flotation, are you mad!?

There's a method to this madness. In Under Pressure, flotation rating is hull volume in VSP multiplied by 375 lbs. This is equal to 62.5 lbs. (base flotation in lbs./cf) times 5 (cf in one VSP) times 1.2 (volume multiplier for Average/Submarine Lines). This stays constant so that if your vessel changes to No Hydrodynamic Lines it has the right flotation rating and you don't recalculate based on your Lines. This simplifies a bit of GURPS Vehicles arcana and works in most situations. In my opinion, a 100-VSP ship is 100 VSP even if it has less volume usable because of hydrodynamic shaping -- it just has the equivalent of broken storage for internal components. This should answer puzzled gearheads scratching their heads over why that value was used rather then 312.5 lbs.

Optional Rule: Larger and Smaller Hydrofoils

There is normally no allowance made for smaller hydrofoils and there is no advantage to using larger foils other then the increased volume and HPs. For additional depth to the design system, any size hydrofoil may be used as long as the size does not exceed that of the main hull.

Hydrofoil Variable: Divide the chosen assembly's surface area by that of the normal hydrofoil for that hull type. If the variable is less then 0.2 it is too small to function. Otherwise modify the following performance statistics.

Variable

Hydrofoiling

hMR

hSR

0.2-0.5

1.5

-2

-2

0.51-0.8

1.2

-1

-1

0.81-0.9

1.1

--

-1

0.91-1.2

1

--

--

1.21-1.5

0.9

-1

+1

over 1.5

0.8

-2

+2

Hydrofoiling is the multiplier to the required minimum speed to begin hydrofoiling.

The hMR and hSR modifiers are how many rows you move down (negative) or up (positive) if using the extra detail option for hydrofoil maneuverability.

New Hull Types

Type

VSP

Wt.

Cost

HP

Area

Top

Size

Stupidly Large Arcoblock

45,000,000

1,080,000,000

M$13,500

3,765,000

2,510,000

840,000

+15

Superdimensional Fortress

90,000,000

2,160,000,000

M$27,000

6,000,000

4,000,000

1,330,000

+16

These designs are far too large to mount realistic hydrofoils, but hey, you can always build some in GURPS Vehicles and see what happens.

Standard Containers

Cargo containers are built with old extra-light aluminum structures and DR 2 steel armor; the structure is waterproofed and will normally float even with a full load. All have a Complexity 2 computer and one or more short-range (10 mi.) radio transponders, forming a manifest tracking and emergency recovery system. The computer tracks everything in the storage area using v-tags and monitors access to the container (and broadcasts an alarm if there is an unauthorized entry). The computer can write new records but cannot delete or modify them. There are ports for inspection cyberswarms to gain access to the containers, even if they are sealed. When received, the contents are checked against the records from the originator, the shipping company, and the container manifest to look for discrepancies.

Large Container (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit, or TEU): 20'8'8'. 250 VSP cargo.
Very Large Container (Forty-foot Equivalent Unit, or FEU): 40'8'8'. 510 VSP cargo.

Container Type

VSP

Weight

Cost

DR

HP

Size

Large (TEU)

256

2,000

$10,000

3

262

+5

Very Large (FEU)

512

4,000

$20,000

2

525

+5

Sealing: $5,600 for large containers, $11,200 for very large.
Reefers: Containers with climate controls for cargo (-30F to 230F). This costs $10,000 and requires 10 kW for a Large container, double for Very Large. This includes a D cell (5 kWh) incorporated into the frame, used during transfers. When on board a ship or in dock, reefers are plugged into external power.

Note that Container Cells can hold either two TEUs or one FEU container.

Vehicle Designs

Wright-Waterman C1200 LASH

The Wright-Waterman C1200 is a mid-sized "lighters aboard ship" (LASH) vessel designed to operate without significant local port facilities or expensive fuel. It carries a small fleet of lighters to help offload cargo, and has numerous cranes located around the hull, including an aft-mounted loading crane with 80-ton capacity used to load and unload lighters from their storage section. The payload assumes the lighters are unloaded, this vessel operates like a hybrid LASH or SEABEE (Sea Barge) ship, loading and unloading containers before taking them aboard. They can be loaded if necessary but the limit is the crane and possibly the limits of buoyancy.

The C1200 requires the Shiphandling (Steamer) skill. It has computerized controls. Standard payload includes 48 empty lighters (see below) stored in an aft 115,200 VSP cargo hold and 2,000 loaded Very Large containers in the cells. The external cradles are usually empty, but can hold tugboats or a launch for the crew. A standard crew is 10 sailors.

Subassemblies: Medium Arcoblock Body +12, 2,400 VSP Superstructure +7.
P&P: 40,000-kW ducted screw, 40,000 kW fusion reactor, 10,000 kWh batteries.
Fuel: 200 years endurance from fusion reactor.
Occupancy: 4 RCS
Cargo: 4,500 cf (Superstructure)

Armor

F

RL

B

T

U

Hull:

3/5

3/5

3/5

3/5

3/5

Superstructure:

3/5

3/5

3/5

3/5

3/5

Equipment

Hull: Short-range sonarcomm; PESA array; sonar array; precision navigation instruments; 2 2.5-ton external cradles; 4 bilge pumps; 4 safety systems; 1 water filter; 80-ton crane; 3 40-ton cranes; 2 20-ton cranes; 1,200 container cells; 872.76 bilge space. Superstructure: Two duplicate maneuver controls; 12 cabins; 20-man environmental controls; Complexity 8 mainframe; 2 medium-range radios; radio IFF transponder; hall; 500 sf landing pad.

Statistics

Size: 800'115'35' Payload: 56,037.2 tons. Lwt.: 64,716.8 tons
Volume: 6,012,000 cf Maint.: 2 hours. Price: $99,393,230.
HT: 5. HP: 150,000 [Hull] 6,000 [Superstructure]
wSpeed: 20 wAccel: 0.1 wDecel: 0.3 wMR: 0.05 wSR: 8
Draft: 43.8' Flotation: 187,500 tons

Design Notes

Superstructure is Large Cutter with no hydrodynamic lines. Structure is light steel on hull, medium aluminum on superstructure, surface is waterproofed.

Fine hydrodynamic lines with fin stabilizers. Armor is cheap steel on hull, steel on superstructure. Long-term access space for fusion reactor and batteries. Crew stations have bridge access. Ewt 17,359,400 lbs.

Komar MLV-3 Lighter

This is a boxy unmanned vehicle either carried aboard LASH ships for transporting cargo from ship to shore, or used as a general cargo barge. Standard payload is 10 Very Large containers: 4 in the cargo hold and 6 on the top deck, stacked 32. Requires the Shiphandling (Steamer) skill. It has computerized controls. $193,180.

Structure: Waterproofed Large Cutter (SM +7, 3,000 HP, HT 6, 375 tons flotation) with old light steel structure. No hydrodynamic lines. PD 3, DR 5 aluminum armor. 50' long. 12,000 cf total volume.

Equipment: 280-kW hydrojet; 2,800-kWh battery (10-hour endurance); Complexity 6 small computer with backup; medium-range radio; PESA array; radio transponder; bilge pump; 11,500 cf cargo hold.

Weights: Ewt 20.65 tons. Payload 275 tons. Lwt 295.65 tons. Performance: wSpeed 5; wAccel 0.2; wDecel 10; wMR 0.25; wSR 7; Draft 5.6'

SafetyONE ERS-5 Emergency Capsule

This is an emergency system deployed on some large submersibles. They became popular after a string of gruesome accidents with civilian and military submarines in the 2020s. They allow the crew to reach the surface from standard civil operating depths, at which point the emergency transponder activates and the radio can be used. More capable, but significantly more expensive, systems are used on deep-diving military and civilian submersibles.

A small cargo area holds minimal emergency supplies. It has no controls and simply drifts with the currents on the surface. Uses the extra detail armor volume rule. $28,735.

Structure: Sealed Medium Boat (SM +3, 900 HP, HT 12, 3.75 tons flotation) with old extra-heavy aluminum structure. No hydrodynamic lines. PD 4, DR 100 titanium armor (3 VSP). 6' long. 120 cf total volume.

Equipment: 5 CS; 7-kWh battery; short-range radio; radio transponder; 1 man-day limited life system; 2.5 cf cargo hold.

Weights: Ewt. 5,910 lbs. Payload 2,050 lbs. Lwt. 6,960 lbs. Performance: Draft 1.27'; Crush Pressure 39.8 atm.

GLUB GLUB! Driving Underwater

Sealed vehicles can operate underwater by simply driving around on the sea floor, a few with ballast tanks can do this intentionally -- others just hope they sink in shallow water!

Some underwater areas are completely impassable by driving, and even the nice areas are quagmires -- halve off-road speed unless it has extremely-low ground pressure (note that current flotation rating will reduce the effective loaded weight for this) or has legs. A vehicle with high, very high or extremely high ground pressures will get stuck if the a Driving-4 roll is failed, roll every 10 minutes. Getting unstuck requires a Driving-5 roll, and a failure by more then 3 means it's really stuck and needs outside help.

Appendix Out-Takes

The Aquatic Vehicle Modular Design Sequence (AVMDS) is the second modular system in Transhuman Space that is based directly on GURPS Vehicles -- the other being the Wheeled Vehicle Modular Design System (WVMDS) in Transhuman Space: In The Well. (The spacecraft design system in the core book is sufficiently different in scope and format that it's not included.) The systems are directly compatible, and some components were left out because they appear in In The Well.

Using the WVMDS and AVMDS Together: There's one issue that needs to be brought up immediately -- without using GURPS Vehicles there is no way to determine how big the wheel subassemblies are for the hull types! So your dreams of an off-road wheeled Large Arcoblock are dashed without a bit of work. But it's simple to use components back and forth.

Design: The bodies in the WVMDS can be used in AVMDS with no changes, just remember that the hulls in Under Pressure already include hydrodynamic lines -- WVMDS bodies are hulls with No Hydrodynamic Lines but they can be given lines (divide volume by 1.2 for Average lines). For hydrofoils, pick a set for a hull that is of comparable volume to the WVMDS body.

Performance: The most obvious place to start using the AVMDS to calculate water performance for ground vehicles that can float (you've waterproofed their structure or sealed their hull). When determining water speed, legs and wheeled drivetrains with off-road wheels generate 2 lbs. of aquatic thrust for ever kW of motive power. Determine crush pressures normally.

The Last Word

"Scientists today were celebrating after seven years of genetic research produced the first whale that could talk. Humanity awaits what wisdom they could learn from the whales."

"The Whale Speech project was terminated after the subject rattled off an endless list of millions of atrocities perfectly recorded in Whalesong memory for the past 1,000 years. She was still talking when the voicebox was deactivated."




Article publication date: September 5, 2003


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