Building a Galactic Terror, Alternatives to the Death Star.

So you’ve suddenly found your self in control of a galaxy, but your subjects aren’t too keen on living under your supreme and enlightened guidance. Whats an Emperor to do?

If you’re Palpatine, you build a giant Battle Station doomsday weapon that is riddled with more weaknesses than a rebel x-wing pilot can shake a stick at.

Look buddy, I just work here alright? I didn't write the script.

Of course there are better ways of dealing with your rebel scum, but an Emperor is a busy person, and he or she just doesn’t have all the time in the galaxy to think through all the possibilities.

So with that in mind I present you with three guaranteed ways to keep those pesky rebels at bay with minimal mental effort.

Option 1: Subtlety on a Budget.

Your victory over the cowering masses of your newly formed Galactic Empire is complete. But now you need a way to ensure continued “loyalty” among your subjects. However, in your quest for Galactic dominance you have spent a large percent of your walking around cash. You owe arms dealers, nobody is working without some decent yet costly food, and stormtroopers need paychecks to help inspire their blood lust.

So your strapped for cash, but that doesn’t mean you can lay off the expensive task of suppressing your subjects for even a minute. So you have to strike a balance between cost, and effectively conveying terror to your people. Whats an Emperor to do?

Luckily for your imperial highness, there is an ancient and cheap way to spread terror evenly to the masses.


Nuclear pumped X-ray lasers. Yes that’s right nuclear bombs powering beams of hard X-rays unto any fool who dares step out of line. The setup is simple, take some baseball bat sized rods of some heavy metal element and strap about 50 of them to a nuclear bomb. When the bomb detonates, the hard radiation that hits the rods before they are torn apart causes them emit hard X-rays out of either end of the rods. Each rod is able to be individually aimed at its own target, allowing you to blast up to 50 targets in a single detonation. Or you could hit one target you really hate with all 50 beams.

Place a hundred or so in orbit of a given planet and bobs your uncle.

Now I know the title of this section mentions subtlety, and there is some, well as much subtlety as you can have when your dealing with nukes. The subtlety comes into play when you lie to the population on the planet below and tell the poor fools that the nuclear lasers are one big planetary defense system meant to ward off enemies of the Empire.

This is only a half lie, as you certainly could use them in such a way, and probably would if push came to shove, but we both know that’s not the case. With any luck, you’ll have the lasers installed on all your worlds before you have to use them for the first time. Yeah after you use them everybody will wise up to the scam, but that’s OK, there are too many nuclear lasers in orbit now to do anything about it.

The upshot is that you can deploy the whole system on thousands of worlds at a fraction of the cost of a Death Star. The other plus is the fact that you’re not stuck with only a single weapon that has to be moved around every time some asshole rebel decides to raise a stink over taxes or excessive executions.

Just imagine those are all rebel ships...

You can sit back and relax knowing that you have the ability to blast neat laser holes in anything that angers you on all your worlds and you didn’t break the bank to pull it off.

Option 2: A Baseball Bat covered in rusty Nails.

Let’s say you won the war with lots of cash to spare and you’re looking for a symbol of terror to cement you power over the people. A Death Star would certainly do that, but its still quite expensive and vulnerable to one man rebel Star Fighters. You’re also not ready to just go and blow a few planets away just to make a point.

No, your looking for a good way to infuse fear but with limited destruction. You want precise terror, a device that is powerful but more personal than a Death Star.


You are looking for a nice big Particle Beam Cannon. Particle Beam cannons pack more substantial power than a laser while still retaining the scalpel like precision of a laser. The upshot is that a Particle Beam can’t simply be reflected by any old shiny surface that happens to be between it and the target.

That’s the baseball bat, but what about the rusty nails? Anybody can go walking around with a bat and do some damage. But it really shows just how much somebody hates you personally when they opt to drive a dozen rusty nails through the head of the bat first. It sends a message plain and clear, “I hate you so much that just breaking your bones isn’t enough, I have to make sure you bleed, scar and possible get tetanus.”

So how do you add nails to the Particle Beams bat?  The Particle Beam operates by accelerating atoms to close to the speed of light. In most cases, one would use a light atom, like hydrogen or maybe even iron. Instead of light elements, pick some heavy metal atom, preferably something toxic to life. I would suggest mercury or plutonium.

Using your toxic Particle Beam on say a city destroys it but also contaminates the land under the rubble, preventing anyone from moving back in. Convert a bunch of Star Destroyers into Beam Cannon dreadnoughts and send them to your problem areas. After a few cities and farm lands fall victim to your toxic Beams, the rest of the star systems will fall in line.

Option 3: Discount Doomsday Weapon.

Alright, so you really want to wipe out whole civilizations, but at the same time you don’t want to spend all your cash on a Death Star. There are some cheap options for those that feel the need to become the proverbial destroyer of worlds.

This option is broken into two parts because there are two equally valid ways of going about it.

Part A of this option is the awesomely named Relativistic Kinetic Kill Vehicle, or, as the really scary people who came up with this nightmare of a weapon like to call it, RKKV.

The RKKV operates on a very simple principal, take some mass (the Vehicle part) and accelerate the mass to 99% percent of the speed of light (the Relativistic part). Then once it’s up to speed you slam it into the target of choice (the Kinetic Kill part) and watch with delight as whatever the mass hits is vaporized in a blinding flash of light. Get a mass big enough to destroy a given planet and bobs your uncle.

Bob is a scary dude...

Part B takes advantage of the fact that, as a Galaxy spanning Empire, you also have faster than Light capable ships. Simply take a ship, accelerate it up past the speed of light and put it on a collision course with a planet. If you picked a big enough ship, it should break the planet up into a brand new asteroid field.

So there are two equally valid ways of smashing things into a planet. But which do you choose? That depends entirely on how much terror you want to instill in your people.
With Part A you will have to build a ship to house the mechanism that launches the RKKV, and that ship will be instantly recognizable after you use it the first time. So you better give that ship, or line of ships, a good name for everyone to scream in horror as they look up and watch it pelt a good sized chunk of doom their way.

The problem with Part A is determining how much mass is needed for an RKKV to destroy say… And earth sized planet? There’s a lot of math to figure that out, but I won’t bore you with it. The simple answer: you need a chunk of matter weighing 348,366,000,000 metric tones traveling at 99% the speed of light to destroy an earth sized planet. Any old matter will do, you could make it out of solid cheese, so long as it weighs enough and its going fast enough. OK, so not that simple, but it will be cheaper than building a Death Star.

Part B does not have the same shit your pants just before death awe factor as Part A, namely because you’re just picking any old ship and sending it on its way. There’s no warning and thus not time to be afraid. Yes, word of the first ship impacting would spread to the other Star systems and you will certainly have a low level of fear, but unless you come out and say you did it, no one will ever be sure it wasn’t some freak accident. And that wouldn’t be the same as everyone knowing immediately and being terrified of crossing you, and it would also open you up for attacks of the same sort. All it would take is one pissed off rebel to fly one of his own ships into your home world.

Part B also isn’t an exact science. It is impossible to determine just how big the ship should be because we don’t yet have any math to calculate the release of energy from the collision of a FTL Ship and a stationary object. Unless you did some experimentation, you wouldn’t really know how much destruction was about to be delivered until the ship hit. You may shatter the planet, or you may just sterilize the surface and strip it of any atmosphere. You’ll have to refer to your local Imperial R&D lab for that answer. The the upshot, is that it will only cost you a whatever the FTL capable ship costs, which makes it the cheapest and yet the most deadly option on this list, for your subjects, and for you.

Hopefully this all makes your life as Emperor easier. Good luck oppressing your Galaxy!

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