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Chapter 2: Starship Combat / Starships in Atmosphere

Atmospheric Friction

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 52
Atmospheric friction can quickly tear apart starships of even the highest tier, and it is as dangerous to small, lightly armored starships as it is to massive warships. The amount of friction generated by a starship is determined by the friction level of the layer of atmosphere that the starship is traveling through. An atmosphere’s friction level is an abstraction of the atmosphere’s density and the amount of debris in the air.
For the purposes of this system, atmospheres have five distinct layers, classified by similarities in temperature and density. While the names and exact properties of these layers vary on different worlds, an atmosphere’s layers generally become denser the closer one gets to a planetoid’s surface. The greater an atmosphere’s density, the slower a starship must move through it in order to avoid taking damage from friction between the starship’s hull and the atmosphere’s molecules. Table 2–7: Atmospheric Friction summarizes the effects of atmospheres based on the thickness of each of the atmosphere’s layers; “highest” refers to the layer furthest from a planetoid’s surface while “lowest” refers to the layer closest to a planetoid’s surface.
When a starship moves faster than its maximum safe speed in an atmosphere layer, it takes Hull Point damage equal to the starship’s tier × the atmosphere’s friction multiplier for every hex moved that round beyond the starship’s maximum safe speed (see the below table for these calculations). This damage is dealt to the starship’s forward quadrant.

Table 2–7: Atmospheric Friction

Atmosphere Layer Maximum Safe Speed Friction Multiplier
No Atmosphere Thin Normal Thick
Highest 7 1-1/2 1-1/2
Second-highest 5 1-1/2 1-1/2 2
Third-highest 3 1-1/2 2 2
Fourth-highest 2 2 2 3
Lowest 1 1-1/2 2 3 4