All nations get 20 points + 1d6 for their Nation Creation Points (NCPs) and a Home Sector for their homeworld/capital.
One uses NCPs in the following fashions: Adding more sectors, improving a sector's population, improving a Sector's GDP, or acquiring Hyperspace Junctions or Warp Gates. 1 NCP can improve a sector's population by 15 Billion or the GDP by $3,000.
Once you spend 1 NCP for a GDP boost in your nation, you must add a Population boost somewhere before you can add a second GDP boost. IOW, if you spend 2 NCP for extra GDP, you must also spend 1 NCP on population. If you spend 3 NCP for extra GDP, you must spend 2 NCP for extra population. And so on.
There are four kinds of sectors:
Home Sectors are the heart of an interstellar state. They contain the capital and key industries to the maintenance of an interstellar state's existence. One natural Earth-like Planet and four planets of Near-Earth or Terraformed type, not counting numerous mining colonies, science outposts, and space habitats. This sector is the site of many of a star empire's most prestigious universities, foundations, and businesses, as well as the seat of government and thus the heart of a nation's civil service. One cannot apply extra population or GDP to one's Home Sector. Every Home Sector automatically comes with a Warp Gate and a Hyperspace Junction, both presumed to be in the system of the nation's Capital World unless otherwise noted.
Sector Population: 60 Billion
Sector GDP: $14,000
NCP Cost: Free, Limit 1 Per Nation
Core Sectors are long-settled and inhabited areas of space. One natural Earth-like Planet and four planets of Near-Earth or Terraformed type, not counting numerous mining colonies, science outposts, and space habitats.
Sector Population: 50 Billion
Sector GDP: $10,000
NCP Cost: 5 Points, Limit 3 Per Nation
Midrange Sectors have been settled for long periods of time but have not reached the population level of a Core Sector due to varying factors, including planets still in the midst of late phase Terraforming and being the homeworld sectors of minority, less-advanced races in a larger empire.
Sector Base Population: 30 Billion
Sector Base GDP: $6,000
NCP Cost: 3 Points
Colony Sectors are sparsely populated, a network of unterraformed or early Terraformed planets and mining colonies centered around an Earth-like or Near-Earth planet in the sector. Despite the lack of extra fully Terraformed planets the capacity for population and economic growth in a Colony is higher than any other sector type. Land is cheap, resources are still abundant, and for daring and brave folk there are plenty of ways to make one's fortune in these Sectors. There are no mechanical limits to improving a Colony Sector.
Sector Base Population: 10 Billion
Sector Base GDP: $2,000
NCP Cost: 1 Point
NCPs can also be spent upon adding a Warp Gate or a Hyperspace Junction to a sector.
A Warp Gate in a Sector permits it to receive high value trade and permit instantaneous point-to-point transit for key figures or officials, permitting the GDP of the relevant sector to rise by $1,000. A Warp Gate costs 1 NCP.
A Hyperspace Junction is a system where major hyperspace lanes meet and cross one another. Such a system enjoys heightened incomes from the interstellar trade traffic that results, it also serves as a logical fleet base for one's space forces to ensure rapid deployment and enjoys increased defenses to deal with an incursion. The more Junctions a nation has, the more rapidly its ships can deploy around its space. A Junction increases GDP by $2,000 for the sector it is in. Each Junction costs 2 NCP.
The military forces of an interstellar state are divided into two categories: planetary and space. Space forces are the "star navies", with ships for projecting power, protecting trade, and defending one's solar systems and space in general. Planetary forces are generally troops for the occupation and defense of planets, moons, planetoids, and asteroids - some nations may also have special forces devoted solely to the holding or taking of space habitats and other space facilities (As such require specialized tactics and equipment not used on planets) and these could be considered under either header.
One's starting military is determined by total GDP at game start. During the game a player can build whatever they want, though mods reserve the right to inflict negative events on someone clearly overspending. Peacetime overspending is defined as spending in excess of 10% of GDP; wartime overspending in excess of 20% GDP.
Note that this percentage is not the total military budget. Maintenance of existing equipment is covered for free, as is routine replacement of standing ground forces (due to retirements and expiration of terms of service, mostly). Likewise, maintenance of planetary defenses, and peacetime attrition of the naval small craft fleet due to crashes, training accidents, and craft exceeding their service lifetime are all covered 'for free.' Even a nation which does not expand its military at all during a year is thus (implicitly) spending some meaningful fraction of its GDP on the military.
A player's ratio of space force expenditure to planetary force expenditure is there business. While space fleets are a vital element to an empire's survivability, if its armies are too small it lacks the ability to take, intact, planets and such from other states; it also impacts the state's ability to deal with armed uprisings or successful invasion. And while some might be tempted to take the approach of "order a planet to surrender and nuke it into oblivion if it refuses", the combination of theater defensive shields to protect major cities for a time and planet-based defenses can inflict loss on a fleet attempting such an operation - additionally the rarity of Earth-like planets and the sheer time scale required for Terraforming means that anyone who intentionally wrecks a world that can sustain life is going to severely impact the interstellar food supply system and will generally piss everyone off. "If I can't have it, no one can" falls under the "Don't be a dick" general rule being considered (it is, after all, essential to the "free-form" system working) and will result in pain for the offender.
For Spacecraft, the unit categories will be designated by "Hull size". The names for the sizes are generally for approximation, not required for actual use. The costs for starships are in a range to reinforce the fact that players decide the actual point value of a unit; the point value picked just says what size hull is the result of that specific value.
Basic Cost: 20 per $1
A small spacecraft hull with atmospheric and sublight space flight capability. Examples would include space-to-planet shuttles. Used primarily for short-range, intra-system transport. Hull type can potentially be armed and shielded for use as raiding, landing, or boarding craft by pirates.
Basic Value: 15 per $1
A Shuttle with a gravito-magnetic drive that permits slight FTL speed capability, up to 53c. It lacks the fuel reserves for interstellar voyage but can be used for intra-system transport in much shorter times than the strictly sub-light Shuttle. Hull type can potentially be armed and shielded for use as raiding, landing, or boarding craft by pirates.
Basic Value: 10 for $1
A small spacecraft hull with Shuttle flight capabilities and some armament and defenses. The smallest combat vessel available. Can mount projectile weapons (torpedoes/missile armament) that can damage even the largest starship hull classes but not capable of fighting full-sized spacecraft effectively.
Basic Value: 2 for $1
A small spacecraft hull with all flight capabilities, including very-short-ranged interstellar hyperspace trips, though it is not capable of traveling between sectors. Greater combat power than a fighter though it lacks the base manueverability of a fighter hull.
A small starship hull with Shuttle flight capabilities and a small hyperdrive. Capable of short-range hyperspace travel on standard fuel reserves. Private luxury spacecraft or official traveling ships are examples. Can carry ECM and light deflector screens for self-defense but will typically be unarmed. Think of it as a space version of Air Force One.
A very small starship hull that can land on planetary surfaces. A vessel this size will ultimately be very specialized, likely in the role of a border scout, an interceptor vessel, or a light fleet screen.
A small starship hull that can land on planetary surfaces. Vessels of this size will be the main fleet screens among other various potential roles that the hull size permits.
A medium starship hull that can land on planetary surfaces. A Medium hulled ship has the capacity to perform cruiser-orientated roles in a star navy.
A heavy starship hull, incapable of planetary landing. A large starship hull; while it can be fairly well specialized most will likely use it to form the striking power of their battle fleets around.
A large starship hull, incapable of planetary landing. At this size you're getting to vessels that will be the heavy hitters of your fleet, if not outright fleet flagships, whether it is supporting massive forces of Fighters and Gunboats or employing massive weapons banks for direct combat, or some combination thereof.
A massive starship hull, incapable of planetary landing. Ultra-Heavy hull sizes create behemoth warships that are highly expensive and are thus comparitively rare; they represent the largest possible hull size that modern starship construction can manage.
Any Starship Hull can be configured to carry Fighters and Gunboats. Superheavies can be configured to carry Ultralights and Ultraheavies can carry Ultralights and Lights.
A Hull size's carrying capacity is equivalent to half its cost. For example, a Medium Hull ship of $80 cost can carry $40 worth of craft (that's 400 basic Fighter hulls or 80 basic Gunboats as a max exclusive capacity).
Carriers sacrifice the use of dedicated anti-starship firepower to be capable of carrying spacecraft. As a result, a carrier cannot fight a starship effectively, though it can sustain some damage from one due to its protection and defenses. The "damage cap" of a carrier is about 10% its dollar value: a $100 carrier cannot damage anything better than a $10 craft by itself, it needs its fighters to do so.
Fighters and Gunboats are automatically considered to have a x2 to attack value; a base cost fighter unit of 20 fighters, $2 overall, can inflict damage and defeat a ship at $4 cost. This allows a carrier to be economically viable and practical, but due to their lower defensive value fighters and gunboats are easily destroyed and thus the effectiveness of a force of spacecraft is blunted as it takes losses in a space battle.
A ship with carrying capacity for armed small craft, but also with other types of armament (be they guns, missiles, or manly men plying harpoons), is a 'hybrid carrier.' A ship with X points devoted to small craft and Y points of normal armament behaves much like an X-point pure carrier welded to a Y-point battleship; the main reasons for creating hybrid carriers are for flavor and thematic purposes.
Consider an 80-point ship which devotes 40 points of space to carrying 20 points of small craft. The remaining space is used for 40 points of weapons. This ship will carry the same small craft wing as a 40-point carrier. It will have the offensive antiship firepower of a 40-point Light warship. It will have the defensive strength (ability to resist being killed) of an 80-point ship.
Hybrid carriers that have more than 10% of their point value devoted to weapons do not get the "free" 10% of offensive power normally received by a carrier.
Purely conventional starships can also be assumed to carry a handful of unarmed shuttlecraft, for utility purposes like personnel transfers. These shuttles are not counted in the ship's combat potential. Armed small craft cost points, but unarmed craft (such as lifeboats, cargo transfer vessels, or personnel shuttles) do not.
Every planet is presumed to have a planetary militia of some form, be it reservist formations or literal town militias in the Colonies, also things like paramilitary gendarme forces. These forces are nominally not available for war, but rather mobilize and deploy when a planet is faced with invasion.
Much the same way, a planet or solar system's defense forces also control planet-based craft and weapons, including anti-starship artillery, minefields, theater shields, space stations, and orbital defensive weapon platforms. The quality and quantity of these forces varies by kind of Sector: Home Sectors have the best defenses and Colony Sectors have the least.
A Sector's overall defensive point power is determined by its GDP divided by 2. Therefore a Colony Sector's innate defenses are equivalent to $1,000, a Midrange Sector's is $3,000, a Core Sector $5,000, and a Home Sector $7,000. Each major planet in the sector enjoys a fifth of this as a defensive combat value: a Colony Sector planet has a value of $200, a Midrange Sector's system defense is $600, Core Sector system-planet gets $1,000, and a Home Sector planet gets the maximum value of $1,400.
Note that while an invading force that has seized control of orbital space can give its army superior planet-wide tactical maneuverability, to completely conquer a planet without permitting pockets of resistance to continue fighting will require you to achieve a ratio of at least 3:1 in your favor Thus a colony sector planet will require an invasion force of at least $600 to take over - a Home Sector world will require a full assault of troops with a combined value of $4,200 to conquer.
Moderators do reserve the right to determine exceptions in either direction based upon particular circumstances and situations.
System Defense handles protecting your territory; Army forces are for the offensive, though they will naturally defend worlds from invasion.
With space ships we had classifications of innate hull size based on point value of the ship. With troops, the quality of those troops in training is decided upon by how many you state your dollar buys. If it buys only 25,000 troops instead of 100,000, those 25,000 troops are going to be badasses, but of course are expensive compared to other units.
An Army works as follows: you determine how much of your starting forces points you wish to spend on it. You then decide how many quality branches you want. A basic example would be three types of troops: elites used to provide the punching power of planetary invasions or suppressions, regulars used as the bulk force in planetary invasions, and lower quality garrison troops that hold a planet as the elites and regulars finish off the defenders.
You then determine how good these desired tiers are by deciding how many combat troops each $1 allocated to that tier buys.
Here are the current standards, benchmarks you might say, to help show how the scale works.
50,000 per $1 is Elite
100,000 per $1 is Regular
200,000 per $1 is Garrison/Conscript
500,000 per $1 is Screaming Horde.
By this example, if you have a $1 buy 45,000 troops, they're Elites, or if it buys 55,000, they're really, really good Regulars.
Afterward, you decide on how good each force's equipment is by applying a multiplier to cost. The higher the multiplier, the better the equipment the force employs. As a basic system...
A multiplier of x1 is Basic equipment.
A multiplier of x2 is Advanced equipment.
A multiplier of x3 is Elite equipment.
These numbers decide combat value - it's up to the individual person to decide if that x3 multiplier means everyone's in awesome, re-entry capable powered armor battle suits or if it means they are cybernetics-enhanced super-soldiers with power armor suits.
To use my earlier example of three tiers - elites, reguulars, and garrisons - here is how you might divvy it up.
Elite Forces: $6,000 Cost, 80,000,000 men @ 40,000/$1 with x3 kit mulltiplier.
Regular Forces: $5,000 Cost, 250,000,000 men @ 100,000/$1 with x2 kit multiplier
Garrison Forces: $4,000 Cost, 640,000,000 men @ 200,000/$1 with x1.25 kit multiplier
Such a state has thus spend $15,000 on its starting Army and has the aforementioned forces. Now 970 million soldiers might not seem a lot if your population is 200 billion, but remember that this is just your offensive-capable army forces. You would have billions more in uniform, active or reserve, under System Defense.
As for how these troops move, it will be presumed that dedicated troop transports exist in sufficient quantity to allow you to ship all of your forces at any given time, though the moderators reserve the right to reduce this depending on circumstances (if you've suffered a recent spate of attacks on trade, for instance, or if you've expanded your army since game start or have suffered the loss of systems). If you want a combat warship to have some troop carrying capacity, to serve for rapid response operations, seizing mining colonies, or for boarding ships, what have you, then carrier rules apply; up to half of a hull can be assigned for troop carrying and you are limited to 2,000 troops per $1 of hull value. A $100 hull value ship can devote up to $50 for troop carrying, and can thus carry 100,000 troops - though the max combat value of these troops is still limited to $50 - and sufficient dropships to ferry them to a planetary surface.
For purposes of keeping gameplay simple building times will not be strictly enforced, though attempts to build things too quickly in peacetime will merit mod intervention, whether it be in the form of mandated economic problems, equipment failures in the new units, political opposition, or NPCs growling at you for such unmerited expansion rates. To give you an idea of where the line is before you provoke such intervention, I will now spell out the rates we're looking for.
For spacecraft production at peacetime, a rate of $100 worth of fighters, shuttles, or gunboats a week is a reasonable rate.
For larger ships, construction will take place on this schedule:
1-9: 1 month, no trials
10-29: 2 months construction, 1 month trials
30-54: 3 months construction, 1 month trials
55-99: 4 months construction, 2 months trials
100-149: 6 months construction, 3 months trials
150-199: 9 months construction, 4 months trials
200-299: 12 months construction, 5 months trials
300-449: 18 months construction, 6 months trials
450-599: 24 months construction, 7 months trials
600-799: 30 months construction, 8 months trials
800-plus: 36+ months construction, 9+ months trials
Ships well over $800 value may have months added to base 36 month construction time by mod ruling.
As for land troops, it should take 3 months to train a cadre of Screaming Horde, 6 months to train garrison-quality troops, a year to train Regulars, and 2 years to train Elites. As for numerical limit on each, each new addition should only be about a quarter, at most, of what is already in service. If you have 100 million Elites, you can train 25 million more for the first two years training period. Then once they're trained you can train 31.25 million more in the next 2 year period, and so on. These are the guidelines for peacetime Army expansion. It is presumed that the necessary kit is being produced while your forces train.