Burning Hotok and other Fortress Worlds

Over in the thread about Adam aka Admiralducksauce’s ‘Throne of Glass and Shadows’ game, we got into a discussion about space vs. ground operations that turned into trying to Tech Burn some kind of fortress that could actually give you a fighting chance against enemy Hammer.

Clearly this is something that Chris Moeller himself has some thoughts about, since he describes Hotok (in Faith Conquers) as a “fortress world.” Geil Caracajou says “it’s mostly underground,” and Trevor Faith goes into more detail:

“The keep… its chamber and bunkers stretch for kilometers in all directions, stitched to the main power sink by cables and grid channels. Clouds of smoke heave from its spires like black pennons in the wind – and at its center-beams sit in their armored silos, ready to scourge the heavens.”

(And that’s all the nitpicky canon-quoting you’ll get from me. I ain’t no frickin’ Trekkie.)

Now, defending against an enemy with space superiority is terrifyingly hard (as Chris Moeller himself points out here). In particular, Hammer is always, always going to have superior maneuverability compared to anything on-planet, let alone a stationary fortification: Spacecraft can engage and disengage at will, they have the high ground automatically, and if they get fed up, they can always find a nice asteroid somewhere, nudge it towards you, and let gravity take care of the rest. (Yeah, maybe you can blast the first asteroid off-course. Groovy. But there’re plenty more drifting space rocks where that one came from, and it doesn’t take much mass hitting the ground from 1,000 miles up to make a big hole). So here’s a tentative tactical principle:

If the enemy has space superiority, and they know where you are, and you can’t move, you’re dead. No amount of weaponry, no armor, no amount of digging underground, is going to do anything more than buy you time.

I say “tentative” tactical principle because it’s conceivable that waste heat is such a terrible limiting factor on space-born weapons systems, and that a ground-based heat-sink can be so obscenely huge, that fortresses can actually hold off a sizeable Hammer attack by sheer superior firepower. It’s conceivable, but a stretch, for me at least.

Why? Here’s the Hammer’s advantage: Mobility. Here’s the planetary fortress’s advantage: Mass. Every kilogram a spacecraft carries is precious and expensive; on a planet, mass is literally dirt cheap – and even dirt is a good defensive barrier if you have enough of it (read any book on trench warfare). Mass is your shield and, if you use it for heat sinks, a big help to your sword as well. But ultimately, mobility is going to win, because mobility can always dance out of harm’s way and find all the mass it wants, namely those pesky asteroids: Hammer can just drop rocks on your head, or get fancy and set up “siege guns” on asteroids using a planetoid’s worth of mass for heat sinks.

So using your planet’s mass for armor, or even using it for heat sinks for bigger weapons, will fail you in the end – although it may be adequate to repel anything short of an all-out invasion, making the heat sink plus gun turret type of fortress viable to a point. But there’s a third way of using mass: to hide.

The model for a planetary fortress isn’t a medieval castle, or even the Western Wall that the Germans built to defend the coast of France in World War II. It’s Cu Chi, one of the most elaborate tunnel systems – seventy-five miles long! – built by the Viet Cong. If a bunch of undernourished rice farmers with hand tools can build defenses sufficient to stymie the United States military, the engineers of the Iron Empires can build ones sufficient to baffle the Vaylen.

Now, what you hide in these tunnels isn’t just infantry in black pajamas. My (re-)interpretation of those big, squat artillery batteries that Trevor Faith walks past at the Hotok Keep is that they’re not actually gun turrets at all, but giant self-propelled artillery pieces parked and waiting for war.

When enemy Hammer shows up in orbit, the SP guns duck into the tunnel system and hide. Sure, the Hammer can locate and blast some of the tunnel entrances, but they won’t get them all. Convincing decoy tunnel mouths are easy to build – especially if the construction crews aren’t too sure where exactly they’ve been taken to work today, and whether the hole they’re digging this week is a decoy or actually going to connect to the tunnel system. Backup real exits are easy to hide: inside buildings; under water, with an airlock system (presumably, grav vehicles have to be airtight); or buried under a few tons of dirt - in fact, the tunnel could be dug from below and the exit never completed, with engineers making the final breach only when it’s time to emerge (like the “Bugs” in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers). The only way Hammer can tell a decoy entrance from a real one, let alone to find a hidden entrance, is to fly low enough, long enough to get a good look – which, given that the Iron Empires setting doesn’t give sensors a huge range advantage over weapons, means you’re coming close enough to shoot.

So when the scattered, hidden, and pretty disposable sensor arrays on the surface detect enemy Hammer in the right places, SP guns fly out of the tunnels, open fire, and then fly back underground – probably using a different tunnel mouth than the one they sortied from. (Modern artillerymen call such tactics “shoot and scoot”). It’s quite possible that Hammer will blast some of the SP guns on the surface; it’s almost certain that Hammer will blast some shut of the tunnel mouths thus revealed. But SP guns and tunnel entrances are cheaper than starships. This guerrilla war of attrition actually starts looking winnable.

We already have some self-propelled missile launchers and fusor cannon burned up, so the missing piece is the tunnel system itself – which was frankly stumping me. But Adam (“admiralducksauce”), Devin (“zabieru”), and Mike Atlin (“countercheck”) had a good brainstorm in the parent thread, which I’ll excerpt the relevant bits from here:

So at this point we’re trembling on the edge of a workable Tech Burn for a tunnel system, which means it’s a good time to bring it over to this part of the forum and solicit input on the final form – or forms, given that there may be several valid ways to build a fortress.

If you were going to apply the +6pt “Affects everyone on a side” bonus so infantry could also benefit, I might give maybe 2-3 pts off that total for Obscure Circumstances. I mean, 99% of the time, infantry just aren’t going to factor in an orbital battle, right? If you’re using my “Cave-In!” trait, it really makes more sense for the enemy to spend some volleys blowing away the tunnel system rather than trying to land engineers. It all depends on intent, too, I suppose (if you need intel or prisoners you can’t just slag the place), but what I’m getting at is that allowing infantry forces to benefit from the tunnels certainly doesn’t FEEL like 6pts worth of resources to me.

Something I didn’t think about earlier is that the original 8pt cost makes it very nice for character burning purposes - 2rps on a low index world can get you a tunnel system.

Or maybe a Categorical Limitation: “affects everyone on your side who’s in the designated Postion.”

I really want that infantry in there, because otherwise the bad guys can do unto you as the Japanese did unto the British fortress at Singapore, which had lots of massive artillery turrets that pointed out to sea but nothing much on the landward side: insert ground troops and sneak up on you. Arguably, this is what happens to the Rebel base on Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back, too: They have a great anti-starship defense, but enemy ground forces are apparently able to come in under it. Planetary defenses are especially vulnerable to this kind of thing because, as soon as they find any gap in your overlapping fields of fire, the attackers can land on the other side of the planet get in their grav vehicles, and fly around to your side at low altitude.

In game-mechanical terms, I worry that if it’s just written as a die bonus without an enhancement, you can’t actually use it for more than one unit. That’s fine if all your artillery is in one fireteam, but it’s not much for flexibility.

As far as dealing with orbital bombardment, I’ll point out another option: using civilian populations as shields.

Remember that by far the most common reason to conquer a planet will be for its resources. There may be a few worlds out there that are valuable solely for their strategic location, but they’re few and far between.

Now, consider that travel time in the Iron Empires is long. Really long. It has faster than light travel, but it’s not zip-around-the-galaxy-in-minutes FtL. It takes months to get to planets in nearby solar systems and years to get to planets that are farther away.

In other words, there’s no shipping in new civilian populations. Even shipping in industrial capital on a large scale is prohibitively expensive. For the most part, if you want to extract resources from a planet, you have to make do with what you’ve got. You have to pacify the population and you have to secure industrial assets more or less intact.

This simple fact is what makes Anvil important and what keeps Hammer Lords in their places. Only a Forged Lord, with both Hammer AND Anvil at his command, can take and hold a world. A Hammer Lord can reduce a world to cinders but he can’t pacify it and he can’t occupy it. Destroying a world is an insanely expensive feat in terms of both currency and travel time, and it has zero return.

All that said, I think you’re right. Defensive tunnel fortresses are definitely the way to go to protect your military capital, just in case. Even so, it’s a holding measure at best. A planetary system without a Forged Lord with Hammer assets to defend it is a planetary system that will soon belong to someone else.

100 percent agreement. If the invading Hammer were willing to destroy the planet, or at least its economic value, then they’d just whip up a relativistic kinetic-kill weapon: moving at 90 % of the speed of light, it’s nigh-impossible to shoot down and makes a helluva bang on impact. You can’t defend against that without your own spaceships on picket duty at Pluto-like distances from your sun.

The objective isn’t a fortress that can hold out forever, because that’s not militarily possible. The objective is one that can inflict enough punishment on the invaders that they can’t take control of the planet’s economy before your own Hammer reinforcements arrive. If reinforcements are never coming, you might as well surrender now.

Yup. That’s exactly it! :cool:

Well, either surrender now or detonate an arsenal of cobalt-laced nuclear bombs to kill every living thing on your own planet in a “scorched earth” maneuver. But I don’t think that’s generally considered an attractive option.

I REALLY like that idea. It ties in closely with the pseudo medieval style of the game.

I still don’t REALLY have a problem with simply allocating massive amounts of cover to a position and calling it a tunnel system. When you’re looking at battles on this scale, the artillery peices popping in and out of holes like gophers aren’t going to have a big enough footprint to justify occupying muiltiple positions, IMHO. I’d not bother burning the tunnel system at all, except, perhaps, as something that gives more cover to a single position.

Here’s how I would fight a Forged Force attacking an anvil force. The Forged force would consist of hammer warships and transports and shuttles, along with some sleds and infantry. The anvil force would have the artillery and other assorted ground forces and the tunnel system. The intent of the Forged lord would be to land troops on the planet. That is MORE than enough for a single firefight… you don’t need to play out the entire reduction of the planet’s defenses in a single scene. The Anvil Lord’s intent would be to drive the forged lord’s troops out of orbit. Now, the Anvil Lord has this beefed up position representing the tunnel system. He’s obviously going to put his troops in there. Since the Forged lord knows this, he’s going to be scripting a lot of supressive fire and flanking actions… the enemy is fixed into defensive positions, all he needs to do is keep the artillery pinned down while he moves his transports out of the artillery’s field of fire. The Anvil Lord knows this, and is probably going to be scripting a lot of direct fire and supressive fire, representing the anti-invasion barrage. He’s only going to venture out into the open (advance/flanking actions) once his position’s cover is reduced.

I think that this, even without burning tunnel system tech, would give the feel of the battle properly. Remember, the scale is the entire planet! Positions are going to be MAJOR geographical features. I also find it interesting that with this kind of Firefight, casulties are going to be fairly low on the defender’s side, which is realistic, UNLESS the Forged Lord gets really ballsy and decides to pull an Adama Manouver, bringing his cruisers down into the atmosphere to duel with the artillery at point blank range with an Advance and Close Combat action. I think that could be ridiculously cool=)

I’d agree that, on the scale of a fleet vs. fortress battle, the entire fortification system may well be one position and ships flying into atmospheric for low-level attacks would equate to Close Combat! It’s possible to have a Firefight! about small ground units trying to locate or sabotage a tunnel system, in which case the scale changes, but I suspect the same Tech Burn can handle both.

I still don’t REALLY have a problem with simply allocating massive amounts of cover to a position and calling it a tunnel system.

Here’s the problem: the Wave trait. Remember, this trait is standard on the heavy fusor Battery (p. 518) and you can buy it for on missiles (e.g. SWARM). That means “massive amounts of Cover” count as one point, only.

Then why not just invent a defensive Trait that counters the Wave trait? Apply it to each Cover as a separate instance of that Technology.

Can anyone justify why the Battery/Artillery weapons have the Wave trait anyway?


It makes an awful kind of sense that the more powerful energy weapons (the Heavy Laser, the Fusion Gun, and the fusor Battery) have the Wave trait: Sweep the beam across the target like a searchlight and energy will come pouring through any hole in your cover – and there’re always holes. But that doesn’t do justice to a tunnel system that, in any sane world, would be built with zigzags in it to stop blast effects, energy beams, and bullets. I think the simplest way to portray this is just to use the Device: Obstacle rules.

So, after considerable brain-wracking, I have actually broken the fortress into what I hope are five bite-sized pieces of technology which I offer for the thorough working-over they need at this point:

Fortification common trait: Immoble

All fortifications suffer from a special Categorical Limitation, “Immobile.” Whenever a Keep, Warren, Assault Tunnel, Infiltration Tunnel, or HIDRA is established in the game – either in character burning, or as color prior to a resources roll – whoever is introducing it must specify its location to the satifaction of all the other players, including the GM. The location need not be painfully precise, but it must be reasonably clear in play whether a given Firefight occurs in the right area for a given fortification to be involved or not. “Near city X,” “on my secret island base,” “on the near side of the first moon,” or “in an isolated mountain range on the western continent” are generally acceptable locations; just “on the western continent” is not. The GM is the final arbiter in any given Firefight.

Resources Obstacle: 8 points

The deepest, most secure section of any underground fortress system is commonly called “the Keep.” In peacetime, for convenience’s sake, an elaborate support base tends to grow up on the surface around the entrance to a convenient access tunnel (this is what Geil Caracajou and Trevor Faith were looking at in the first pages of Faith Conquers), but the access tunnel is always several kilometers long and bends sharply in several places to obscure the actual location of the Keep proper.

The Keep normally houses an array of Combat Support systems like medical facilities and battle command (bought as separate items of technology).

When setting up a Firefight, the controlling side must designate at least one position, and may designate several positions, as having entrance/exit tunnels for the keep. During Firefight, a friendly unit in one of these positions can move into the Keep with a succesful Withdraw action, and a unit in the Keep can move out into any one of these positions with a successful Advance. (For game purposes, these tunnels are considered effectively indestructible). However, if an enemy unit occupies one of these positions with a successful Advance of its own – and a successful Close Combat action against any defending unit on the surface in that position – it may then engage units inside the Keep in subsequent Close Combat actions.

The Keep imposes a +3 Obstacle to any enemy action against the units and systems it contains. That includes Close Combat, Observation, Direct Fire, and Suppressive Fire unit actions; individual shot opportunities; and Sensor Sweep specialist actions. Enemy fire that damages its target in spite of this obstacle is assumed to have breached that particular section of the Keep or indirectly caused a local collapse. The Keep is large enough that more than one unit may occupy it and each must be targeted separately.

However, units in a Keep can perform no unit actions other than Rally & Regroup, Take Cover – which represents a move deeper into the tunnel system – or Withdraw – which represents a move away from a threatened or breached area of the Keep into a safer one. They may not use Observe, Direct Fire, Suppressive Fire, or Flank at all. They may not use Advance except to exit the Keep into no man’s land. They may not use Close Combat except against enemy forces that have entered the Keep: To engage enemy forces on the surface, they must Advance out the access tunnel first. Sensor Sweep and Signals Warfare specialist actions are allowed for systems built into the Keep only, not for mobile units; the Medic specialist action is unrestricted.

Technological Traits:

Device: Obstacle, base cost +1 pt; +3 Ob, +3 pts; affects five additional actions, +5 pts (+9 points)

Enhancement: Affects everyone in the scene (+8 points)

Categorical Limitations: eight Firefight actions prohibited or restricted (-8 points)

Categorical Limitation: immobile (-1 point)

Availability in character burning: Any character with the Hammer Lord or Forged Lord trait may purchase a Keep for 1 rp, if and only if the player specifies its location before play begins.

Fortress Warren
Resources Obstacle: 8 points

Underground, a fortress warren consists of a network of tunnels built deep enough to resist nuclear bombardment, with zigzags and blast doors to stop the propagation of blast effects and energy beams within the tunnel system itself. On the surface, the warren appears as a large number of well-hidden sally ports, interspersed with bunkers, fighting positions, and decoy tunnel mouths on the surface, to allow troops to enter and exit without giving away exactly where they came from. The whole system provides +2D advantage to friendly Take Cover and Withdraw unit actions, and a +2 Obstacle to enemy Observe unit actions and Sensor Sweep specialist actions.

To benefit from the warren, however, troops must be trained to navigate the tunnel labyrinth, emerge unseen, attack, and then retreat underground again, normally by a different tunnel mouth. Training troops in such tactics requires a successful Command, Tactics, Instruction, or Fortifications roll against Ob 2 during a building scene. Each such roll can train any number of troops on one set of contiguous tunnels. This warren’s location must be specified to both the GM’s and the players’ satisfaction in the same building scene. Thereafter, the troops trained are entitled to the +2D advantage in any Firefight involving that specific warren, unless and until it is destroyed.

When setting up a Firefight, the side controlling the warren must designate one position on the battle map as representing the sally ports. Any cover this position has represents bunkers and other fortified fighting positions on the surface, rather than the deep tunnels themselves. Units may benefit from the 2D advantage to Take Cover and Rally & Regroup actions without actually occupying this position: They are considered to be “shooting and scooting,” using the sally ports as their base of operations, rather than taking cover in and around them.

However, if the sally port position is occupied by enemy troops – using a successful Advance action, followed by a successful Close Combat action against any friendly troops present – the +2D bonus is lost until the enemy troops are evicted by friendly forces taking a successful Close Combat unit action. If the position’s Cover value is reduced to zero by superstructural scale damage, the warren’s sally ports are destroyed and its advantage dice are lost permanently. (Damage done by squad support or vehicular scale weapons still counts for reducing the Cover rating under the “collateral damage” rules, pp. 489-490, but not for destroying the sally ports).

For game purposes, the destruction of the sally ports has no significant ill effect on any units inside the warren, as they can escape either deeper into the tunnel system or to the surface through auxillary “blowholes.” These emergency exit shafts, designed for a one-time escape rather than combat operations, are dug from below and left unfinished, with prepositioned explosives blasting an exit through the last five to fifteen meters of earth.

Technological Traits:

2D Skill Advantage, +5 pts; affects one extra action, +1 pts. (+6 points)

Obstacle, +1 pt base; +2 Ob, +2 pts; affects one extra action, +1 pt (+4 points)

Enhancement: affects all friendly forces (+6 points)

Trait Limitation: useable by tunnel-trained troops only (-3 points)

Trait Limitation: destroyed if sally ports’ position is destroyed (-3 points)

Categorical Limitation: can be blocked by enemy troops (-1 point)

Categorical Limitation: immobile (-1 point)

Availability in character burning: Any character with the Hammer Lord or Forged Lord trait may purchase a Fortress Warren for 1 rp, if and only if the player specifies its location before play begins.

Assault Tunnel
Resources Obstacle: 4 points

Some fortress systems include assault tunnels, extra-wide underground causeways to allow entire units to move through and emerge – through one-use “blowholes” like those of escape shafts – in combat formation at some critical point, without requiring special tunnel operations training or “shoot and scoot” guerrilla tactics.

Each set of assault tunnels may be used once and once only, and the general area they can reach must be specified when the tunnels are made hard technology (usually by tying them to a specified fortress warren). When the controlling side scripts their Firefight actions, they may designate any Advance, Flank, or Close Combat unit action as coming through the tunnels: This unit action benefits from a +2D advantage.

2D Skill Advantage (+5 points)

More Powerful: Can choose what kind of Firefight action to give bonus (+1 point)

Obscure Circumstances: one use only (-1 points)

Categorical Limitation: immobile (-1 point)

Infiltration Tunnel
Resources Obstacle:

Some fortress systems include small, extremely well hidden sally ports specifically designed to allow small units to emerge unseen for covert operations, giving a +2D advantage to Infiltration by friendly forces. The area these infiltration tunnels and sally ports cover must be specified to both the players’ and the GM’s satisfaction at the time the system becomes hard technology.

2D Skill Advantage (+5 points)

Categorical Limitation: immobile (-1 point)

High-Intensity Dispersed Refractive Array (HIDRA)
Resources Obstacle: 4 points

Lasers and other energy weapons do not actually need a long, straight barrel, since they bounce the beam between mirrors and/or pulse it through tubes of energized gas before firing. A HIDRA system allows an energy weapon Battery (pg. 518) to have its power source and beam generator buried deep underground, but still fire on targets aboveground by refracting its beam through any one of several dozen “barrels” that snake their way to different points on the surface.

When used, each individual firing port reveals its position – precisely, and with an unmistakeable blast of energy – and is almost certainly destroyed by retaliatory fire. But each individual port is a small part of the system and designed to be expendable.

When the HIDRA is first burned as hard technology, its location must be specified to the satisfaction of both the playres and the GM. When setting up a Firefight, as for a fortress warren, the controlling side must designate one position on the battle map as representing the area concealing the HIDRA’s firing ports. If thats position’s Cover value is reduced to zero by superstructural scale damage, the firing ports are destroyed and the HIDRA system is put out of action. (Damage done by squad support or vehicular scale weapons still counts for reducing the Cover rating under the “collateral damage” rules, pp. 489-490, but not for destroying the sally ports).

Putting a disabled HIDRA back on line requires three successful rolls in a building scene – one with the Fortification skill, one with Armorer, and one with Repair – each against an Obstacle of 3. Alternatively, the buried power source and beam generator may be dug up for reuse in a new firing platform (for example, another HIDRA, a Hammer warship, or a SPAG) with a single successful Salvage roll against Ob 3.

Technological Traits:

Artillery Weapon: Battery (+8 points)

Trait Limitation: destroyed if sally ports’ position is destroyed (-3 points)

Categorical Limitation: immobile (-1 point)

P.S.: My brain hurts now.

Fly. Also, nice job with the HIDRA acronym. Slight nitpick, though: Since it’s mainly using mirrors rather than lenses, shouldn’t it be Reflective rather than Refractive?

Heh. Quite possibly.

Also, the current Tech Burn for the HIDRA doesn’t address how you target the deeply buried weapon itself: it sort of presumes you can’t. It might be better to revise it to be a way for a weapon in the Keep, or with Keep-like Obstacle 3 protection against enemy action, to be exempt from three of the Categorical Limitations – i.e. to re-allow Direct Fire, Suppressive Fire, and individual shot opportunities.

Oh, also:

Heat Sink
Resources Obstacle: 6 pts

+2D to Ammo Check rolls (+5 points)
Enhancement: affects everyone on your side (+6 points)
Categorical Limitations x 2: only energy weapons; only fortress-mounted weapons (-2 pts)
Trait Limitation: destroyed when surface vents are destroyed (as per rules for Fortress Warren) (-3 pts)

And, very tentatively, because this is pushing the rules until they scream:


Based on the Hammer Cruiser (p. 557).

Decrease speed category from Space to human: dropping four categories, Space, Air, Ground, Human at -2 pts each (-8 points)
Decrease speed exponent from 9 to zero, at-2 pts per die (-18 pts)

Categorical Limitation: immobile (-1 point)

Remove +2 Ob to Control as irrevelant (+3 points)

Add modified Hardened and Shielded trait (+ 14 points)
Like Iron, the Battle Fortress’s armor is hardened and internally shielded by a process closely guarded by most senior artificers in the Iron Empires. Any superstructural-scale damage that strikes the armor is reduced to vehicular scale. For example, an S12 hit from a Battery would be reduced to V12: Instead of being Damaged, the Fortress would merely be Breached.
Based on Hardened & Shielded trait for Iron (see p. 545).
Technological Traits: Enhancement (+8 pts), PITAP (+3 pts), More Powerful (+3 pts)

Moved a bunch of stuff here:

Rescuing some relevant stuff that was split:

I’m going to try to burn up revised versions of the fortress systems based on the new canon from Chris. Bbut for the moment, I just want to say that maybe the underwater fortress/anti-Hammer submarine is not such a great idea on second thought, because water is, y’know, not opaque.

We already have satellites that can map the ocean floor by radar. Anyway, it’s easier to see things underwater from above than from the surface-- because subs can only hide so many miles deep, whereas a ship trying to detect a submarine has to send sonar waves sideways through miles upon miles of water. So as far as Low Index technology is concerned, I’d bet that any ocean is going to be sensor-transparent, which means not a hiding place at all.

There are a few ways to hide from sensors: stealth, which means lowering your radar/sonar/lidar return to something indistinguishable from the surrounding environment; soft cover, which means hiding in some environment that is itself sensor-opaque (e.g. a smokescreen, if the enemy’s just using their eyes); or hard cover, which means hiding in an environment where everything around you has pretty much the same sensor return as you, i.e. is pretty much the same density as you.

You can and should use all three techniques in combination when you can, but as technology advances, the chance of any naturally occuring environment remaining sensor-opaque diminishes, so soft cover is increasingly out, and stealth is a very tricky game to play, putting you into an arms race with enemy sensor advances. The hard cover game, by contrast, is always doable, because you just have to find an environment made out of the same stuff as what you’re trying to hide. Thus a tank will always have a good shot at hiding in a city full of metal-frame buildings, and a fortress carved out of living rock will be a lot easier to hide than one made of metal and plunked on top of the basalt seabed.

Okay, after much brain-wringing, I think I’ve finally figured out a relatively straightforward way to depict Hotok’s Keep – although this is not to where I want it yet:

First, keep all the traits I mapped out earlier:

Technological Traits:

Device: Obstacle, base cost +1 pt; +3 Ob, +3 pts; affects five additional actions, +5 pts (+9 points)

Enhancement: Affects everyone in the scene (+8 points)

Categorical Limitations: eight Firefight actions prohibited or restricted (-8 points)

Categorical Limitation: immobile (-1 point)

And now add:

Hardened, Shielded, and Buried (22 points!)

The Keep is protected by less sophisticated but far larger-scale version of the hardening and shielding used for Iron. Fortress armor consists of alternating layers of metal, ceramic, and superconducting materials that channel the heat of incoming blasts directly into the local water table. As a result, most Keeps are either built near large bodies of water or actually surrounded by a natural underground lake – which usually ends up being poisoned with heavy metals used in building the armor, and outright vaporized if an actual battle occurs.

A fortress’s armor protects all units and items of technology inside it – within limits: While the direct force of the incoming bombardment is neutralized, the garrison must endure local collapses, burn-throughs, and the bitterly nicknamed “steam bath” effect that occurs when ultra-hot, ultra-high pressure vapor from the local water table bleeds back into a section of the Keep through a damaged seal. The larger pasages and chambers of the Keep are particularly vulnerable to these secondary effects, so vehicles (and vehicle-sized animals) sheltering in the Keep generally take more damage than personnel, who can fit into smaller areas where tight bends in corridors, blast doors, and other labyrinthine features buffer the blast.

For a vehicle, or a life form with Vehicular or Superstructural-scale damage tolerances (see “Big as a House” on pg. 596), the Keep’s armor reduces any Superstructural-scale damage to Vehicular scale, and any Vehicular-scale damage to Human scale.

For a human, Kerrn, or Mukhadish-sized life form – whether in Iron or not – the Keep’s armor reduces both Superstructural-scale damage and Vehicular-scale damage to Human scale.

Thus, an S8 hit from a Hammer gunship’s main battery on a particular section of the Keep would do V8 damage to vehicles inside, but only H8 damage to people. An Anvil Assault Sled in an affected garage area would only be Damaged, rather than annihilated; a less sturdy civilian Grav Sled parked alongside it would be destroyed regardless, probably smashed by falling concrete or hurled end-over-end into the Assault sled by a blast of steam. Personnel in less-open spaces would likely be Maimed but treatable, while troops in Anvil armor would probably only be Injured.

Note that this effect is in addition to the Obstacle the Keep imposes on individual shot opportunities, and that an attack targeting one unit, vehicle, or person in one part of the Keep does not affect anyone else in it!

Technological Traits: Two Enhancements: Reduce Superstructural damage to Human, reduce Vehicular damage to Human, +16 pts; pain in the ass penalty, +3 pts; more powerful, +3 pts

Comments are not only welcome, but begged for.

I can’t help but read that description and think of the Stormtroopers falling over and sparks flying everywhere when that dude missed with his proton torpedoes in Star Wars. :slight_smile: I’m finding it hard to comment on how close your fortress is to the book, though, because I haven’t read Iron Empires yet. The point cost seems reasonable, though - there’s not much that can turn an artillery battery into just an Injured result for a human.