Guardians of the Stars
The most important advancement in spacecraft has been the development of the Limited Gravity System (LGS). LGS has two parts: Synthetic Gravity Generation (SGG) and Inertial Compensation Sinks (ICS). SGG allows partial to full gravity environments onboard a ship, usually rated as a fractional value of 1G. SGG is beneficial to the health and well being of a ships crew. ICS is potentially a bigger advantage as it allows a proportional amount of a ships acceleration to effect the ship and everything in the ship. For instance a ICS rated at 1/10th allows a ship traveling at 10G to have a felt acceleration of 1G. SGG and ICS are normally rated identically for the same ship, so a SGG capable of 0.1G internal ship gravity and an ICS capable of 1/10th compensation would go together. Smaller ships are also capable of being rated higher than larger ships, as lower mass allows less expensive use of the LGS. Early LGS systems required the SGG to be turned off to activate the ICS.
Ship weapon system tend to come in three forms: Conventional Ballistics, Missiles, and Lasers.
Conventional Ballistics is almost entirely railguns or other electromagnetically powered slug throwers. Most tend to be rapid firing small projectiles or heavier slower firing weapons. Heavy railguns tend to fire power intensive shots that limit their firing speed, but have a significant ‘kick’ on impact and good speed. Lighter weapons tend to be used more for anti-missile defense, firing lighter projectiles rapidly along a specific path. They are fairly energy efficient, which is a common reason they are chosen over other systems. However they are slower than light speed weapons, so the enemy can evade shots easier than other weapons. Because of this, most railgun rounds are made with a ‘stealth’ coating to make them harder to detect. They also have less practical range than lasers, especially near bodies with significant gravity as those will ‘draw’ the rounds off target. Good tracking systems tied into gravity sensors and with navigational gravity charting can compensate for this.
Missiles are the most common space weapon there is. Most missile tubes on larger ships use electromagnetic launching rails to accelerate the missiles at launch, much like handheld gyroc weapons do. Their guided nature makes them useful beyond one light second. Since at most they use about as much power as a railgun, they are highly energy efficient. These two features, guidance and energy efficiency, make them the premiere weapon system. Unfortunately missile interception is a practical reality as well and reduces the effectiveness of missiles. In particular most missile sensors are not good enough to evade debris, or a volley of railgun rounds sent in their path. Also their guidance is a key feature, but once launched, control from the firing ship is low due to communications lag as range increases.
Lasers are the most energy intensive weapons, but are ‘light speed’ weapons and can fill both the point defense and primary weapon roles that railguns offer. The biggest issue with lasers is trying to correctly focus a target. This is a ‘problem’ much like firing railgun rounds are. A ‘glancing blow’ from a laser actually does very little damage because unfocused lasers are little better than intense ‘sunlight’ to a ships exterior. If focused however, that ‘sunlight’ can ablate material rapidly and often explosively. The other issue is the amount of energy they expend to fire. Three, four, or even six railgun shots can easily be performed for the same power as one shot from a laser. They also typically have a maximum range of one light second, beyond that the emitter and the practical challenges become a challenge. Some over engineered systems can be fired beyond one light second, however things like gravity fields start to have more of an effect the greater the distance.