Each system (with a couple exceptions) is abstractly laid out into several “boxes”. Said boxes can contain any number of ships, either stationed there waiting or in transit. Ships leaving one box can transition to any adjacent box unless they are prevented by ships in the same box. Ships that “cross each other” (one moves out of a box while the other is moving into the same box) will engage in the box chosen by the faster fleet (the fleet whose slowest ship has the highest Maneuver drive rating).
This represents the far reaches of a star system, from the orbit of the most distant gas giant to the system’s Oort cloud about half a light year away. The Outer System is big. It’s so big that ships that are in the Outer System cannot be attacked unless they are pursued by a faster ship for a week or they agree to meet at a certain point to fight. A ship in the Outer System can detect the relative size and approximate number of ships operating in the Inner System. They can also determine the size, atmosphere and hydrographics of any world in the Inner System from here in a few hours. Determining population, government, law level and tech level takes a week. An enemy in the Inner System can get tactical intelligence about ships in the outer system if they maneuver or jump out. Otherwise they could remain undetected.
There are not many good reasons to visit the Outer System, but ships can end up there if they flee a battle in the Inner System box. Ships in the Outer System receive all messages transmitted from the Inner System but they can only send three messages a week and they are delayed by a couple days. Traveling from the Inner System to the Outer System or returning takes a week.
Ships can jump out of the Outer System if they have fuel. It’s possible to jump into the Outer System if desired. This is sometimes
done by scouts and spies. There is no fuel available though unless they mine fuel from distant comets in the ice belt. This typically takes weeks to do. Ortillery missiles cannot be launched to the Inner System from here.
Any number of ships or opposing fleets may be in the Outer System and not meet or interfere with each other in any way. Fleets in
the Outer System cannot prevent their opponents from moving to the Inner System.
This represents the main area of the star system more than 100 diameters from any world. It is possible to jump to and from the Inner System and this is typically what is done. One has to travel through the Inner System to get from a gas giant’s far orbit box to the mainworld’s Far Orbit box. This is where most battles will take place.
Fleets in the Inner System can attack other fleets in the Inner System but if one side or the other wishes to avoid a fight the faster fleet determines success of the attempt. Ties result in a battle. A fleet can reorganize itself into multiple smaller fleets to attempt to run by or engage.
Once combat is engaged, ships that break off from combat in the Inner System will end up in the Outer System (a week later), as will any ships that pursue them. Returning to the Inner System takes another week.
Ships in the Inner System can fire ortillery torpedoes at a mainworld or ships in orbit around it.
Gas Giant Far Orbit
This represents an orbital pattern around the system’s gas giant. Systems may have more than one gas giant but in this abstract version of the universe only one of them gets used for refueling and the others are unsuitable for some reason.
This box is often patrolled by SDBs or defensive satellites. It is possible to have an orbital station in the gas giant’s far orbit.
If two fleets are in the Far Orbit box they will engage each other and cannot be avoided. Ships that break off from combat end up in the Inner System.
Ships cannot jump from this box, as it is too close to the gas giant.
Gas Giant Close Orbit
This is a tight orbit around the gas giant. This box is often patrolled by SDBs.
If two fleets are in the Close Orbit box they will engage each other and cannot be avoided. Ships that break off from combat end up
in the Far Orbit box It is common to rotate ships through this box to provide security while other ships refuel in the atmosphere. Any ship in Close Orbit has to maintain its orbit (called “station-keeping”) which means it needs a working maneuver drive and powerplant. If it doesn’t have these its orbit will decay in 2-12 hours resulting in Catastrophic Reentry.
This represents the atmosphere of the gas giant. Ships have to enter the atmosphere to refuel from the gas giant.
Because of the nature of the gas giant’s atmosphere, sensors do not work and cannot detect other ships in this box. They could collide, but gas giants are big (hence the name) and it’s unlikely that they will encounter each other unless one of them makes an attempt to do so. Ships in the box can detect other ships in close orbit. This feature is commonly used by system defense boats and monitors who lie in wait in this box until they detect incoming craft from close orbit. They predict their location based on their incoming vector and attack during refueling. Ships that have their maneuver drives or crew disabled in a gas giant will
slowly sink to the core in 1-6 hours where they will be crushed. This is colloquially referred to by spacers as “Taking the Plunge”.
Mainworld Far Orbit
This represents an orbital pattern around the system’s mainworld. This is the orbit where you will typically defensive satellites and possibly one or more orbital starports. It is not possible to jump into our out of this box as it’s within 100 planetary diameters of the mainworld.
Mainworld Close Orbit
This orbit typically has any orbital shipyards, potentially it may have orbital habitats as well. It may be defended by missile-armed satellites and is in range of planetary meson guns and ground-launched defensive missiles. Ortillery bombardment is conducted from this orbit.
If a ship in close orbit loses its powerplant or maneuver drive or its crew is dead, its orbit decays in 2-12 hours resulting in catastrophic atmospheric reentry either burning up, crashing or bouncing out to far orbit. On worlds without atmospheres they will strike the surface. Either way it’s not good and should be avoided if possible. It’s not possible to tow a ship but a larger ship with flight deck capacity may be able to pick it up, or at least evacuate any living crew before this happens.
This is from the top of the atmosphere to the ground. This will typically be defended by fighters and troops. Ships have to enter this box to refuel from an ocean. Ships can also hide in an ocean and are typically as undetectable as ships in a gas giant atmosphere.
Planetary meson guns can fire at enemy targets until they make landfall. Missile silos cannot.
Ships can scramble from the Mainworld to Close Orbit in one stage (ten combat turns).
The above System model description covers most of the worlds that are regular planets in the Lost Worlds. Some require additional explanation.
With a few exceptions, mainworlds with a size 4 or less are moons of the system’s gas giant. The only game effect this has is that their Far Orbit box is adjacent to the Gas Giant’s Far Orbit box.
The Elenoy system is an exception to the normal system layout. There is no real star at Elenoy, just a large brown dwarf. There are no planets, just concentric planetoid belts between 7 and 30 AU from the primary and none of them are on the same plane. Macarthur is the furthest out followed by Nimitz, Eizenhower and Halsy nearest the primary. There is no gas giant and it’s not possible to refuel from the brown dwarf.
Elenoy just has one Outer System box, each of the four belts has its own System box. Travel between the boxes takes more than a day. But because of the way the belts are tilted with respect to each other and the ecliptic it’s possible to go from any belt to any other belt without passing through the others. So to travel from say Macarthur to Halsy a ship does not have to pass through Nimitz or Eizenhower. It is also possible to go from any of the system boxes of the belts to the Outer System without passing through any other belts. Ships jumping to Elenoy usually arrive at the system box of the belt/nation they wish to deal with.
Carolina’s mainworld is a small moon in the far orbit box of a large ice planet called Ice Planet. The ice can inefficiently provide fuel, but it requires landing and melting which takes a week. The Far Orbit box of Ice Planet is adjacent to the Far Orbit box of Carolina.
Arizona orbits a hothouse world called Hades with a CO2/Sulfur atmosphere. The system is laid out just like Carolina but of course there is no ice. Arizona maintains a station in the outer system that mines ice from an icy cometary belt at Arizona System the edge of the system, several days’ travel from the mainworld. It is inconvenient for visiting ships to obtain ice from that far out so fuel generally needs to be obtained from the starport.
Arkansaw is in close orbit around LittleRock, a world almost the same size. The two worlds are really orbiting a center of gravity between the two of them. The Close Orbit box of Arkansaw and the Close Orbit box of LittleRock are adjacent and they share a Far Orbit box.
Nevada and Looweevil
Nevada and Looweevil are both the largest objects in their respective systems’ Planetoid Belts. Effectively this works like a regular system, the Close Orbit and Far Orbit boxes are still not within range of the next nearest planetoid. Other than being very small planets they are no different from other worlds.
- See also Attacking a System
- See also Interception
- See also Catastrophic Reentry
- See also Invasion
- See also Other Places in the System
- See also Enemies and Allies