This is fun question with a fun answer, and there's some Multiverse-specific lessons to learn here regarding combat mechanics. I'll answer in a couple sections.
Some BackgroundRelativistic Kill Vehicles (RKVs) are a
well-explored topic in science fiction, and have a firm foundation in real science. By drawing on Einstein's Theory of Special Relativity, we can reliably predict the amount of energy in a system, giving us a reasonable order of magnitude for the potential carnage inflicted by such weapons.
In general, the reason "light speed" is unachievable in the real world (for any particle with mass) is that propulsion requirements grow exponentially (squared!) as you approach the light barrier. Your relativistic mass approaches infinity, thus requiring an infinite amount of energy to reach light speed! These numbers get pretty huge at even 0.1c, or 10% the speed of light...
The equations for superluminal (> 1.0c, faster than light) energies likely require new physics, but by extrapolating the relativistic projection we can assume a simple scalar
w
with 1.0c defining our unit,
the warp scalar:
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w ∈ ℝ
w = warp factor
ℝ = real number set
c = speed of light in a vacuum (≈ 2.998×10^8 m/s)
For example, a "velocity" (negative in time?) of 10x the speed of light would yield a
w
of
10
to indicate a 10x warp factor (spacetime is distorted tenfold). In some existing canons, such as Star Trek, this same warp factor is used — "warp 10" designating the maximum possible warp in that canon!
For all values of
c
, we'll use the value
≈ 2.998×10^8 m/s
as it remains consistent with our own observations in the real world.
By computing for
E
, we can easily measure the amount of potential energy released by such a system, revealing planet-vaporizing magnitudes for any significant fraction of light speed. Next I'll highlight some of these equations, but as always —
run the numbers!Running the NumbersAny sufficiently-high
sublight velocity is enough for a ~100 ton spaceship (tiny!) to atomize a planet (let alone another starship!), as we can infer from Einstein's
Mass-energy Equivalence Equation:
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E² = (mc²)² +(pc)²
E = Energy
m = mass
c = the speed of light in a vacuum
p = momentum
or more simply (albeit incomplete, as it doesn't account for massless particles, such as the photon):
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E = mc²
E = Energy
m = mass
c = the speed of light in a vacuum
Computing this out for a mass of 100 tons, we arrive at an
E
value of
8.153×10^21 J
(joules) — that's a little more than half of the total solar energy hitting the earth every day!
But that's not enough to calculate the total energy in the system — we still need to account for our RKV's velocity & momentum. To compute the momentum
p
, we use the
Relativistic Momentum Equation:
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p = (mv)/√(1 - v²/c²)
p = momentum
m = mass
v = velocity
c = speed of light (≈ 2.998×10^8 m/s)
Computing with a velocity (
w
) of
0.7c
, or 70% the speed of light, we arrive at our destination
E
value:
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1.141×10^22 J (joules)
This gives us the total energy of the weaponized starship, an effective upper-bounds for the potential destruction (with antimatter projectiles achieving 100% efficiency, releasing the energy of the target matter by way of annihilation). For reference, that's equivalent to 2.727×10^12 tons of TNT, or
1.818 million times more than the 15 kilotons dropped on Hiroshima.
From the high energy physics occurring in such a collision, energy will be radiated in a shower of particles across the spectrum in a distribution consistent with quantum physics, including alpha, gamma, and infrared radiation in droves.
Even at lower efficiencies (accounting for "punchthrough" effects, etc.), we can see the devastating potential of these kinds of weapons, with damage escalating to absurd proportions when exceeding
w
values above 1.
Combat Mechanics & FairnessIn an even 1:1 fight (tactical, strategic, powers all equivalent), players are reduced to weaponizing their wits — taking turns to post, out-smarting one another by constructing logical advantages in an effort to land at least one uncontested blow. This can result in the need for a mutually-agreed third-party arbiter, or judge, to analyze the logs and rule on an outcome. Fortunately, most high-level fighters demonstrate both grace and honor, but don't be afraid to
request a ruling.
But for uneven fights, players have other resources at their disposal. At least in the Multiverse, we permit attacks to accumulate "prep points", which count the number of clearly-recognized yet uninterrupted (by tactics or otherwise) "preparation posts" to be applied towards the attack's power. These points can be combined across multiple
players, but not across
characters — lending a strict advantage to having other players fighting at your side as a coordinated attack from 2 players will always deal at least 50% damage against a defender (2 posts for 2 points towards attack, subtract 1 defense post = 2 - 1 = 1).
tl;drA 1 kg mass traveling at 99% of the speed of light would have a kinetic energy of 5.47×1017 joules. In explosive terms, it would be equal to 132 megatons of TNT or approximately 32 megatons more than the theoretical max yield of the
Tsar Bomba, the most powerful nuclear weapon ever detonated. 1 kg of mass-energy is 8.99×1016 joules, or about 21.5 megatons of TNT.
RecommendationsSave the Holdo Maneuver for a last-ditch effort to save a civilization, not for run-of-the-mill combat. Relativistic velocities are already destructive enough, and we can find other ways to best our opponents without the "power levels" escalating so quickly!
Don't get me started on vacuum collapse...