I often revisit similar concepts with dozens upon dozens of ideas and today was no different: revisiting the idea of entire underwater societies using futuristic, but entirely subaquatic, technology, the whole Atlantean aesthetic of underwater cities and featuring submarine-like warships...
...Except modeled a little bit more after space ships than submarines today. I came up with some really neat designs. While the design of the warships is fairly generic and similar to both sides, I actually went through the work of developing five different smaller ships. On one side, they developed the cutting-edge Stingray, an Interceptor-class single-pilot vessel. Weaponry: a single laser mounted on the front. Fairly heavily armored and with unmatched maneuverability and large bursts of speed, capable of pulling feats no other ship can, but having a few drawbacks. 1: being new, 2: taking a higher learning curve to master the mechanics involved, 3: not enough room for extended life support systems, so is shorter range and has no escape pods, 4: if their fin is disabled, they're dead in the water, 5: only one singular weapon.
They are basically an underwater fighter, designed to intercept incoming enemy missiles and shoot them down, as well as shooting down the enemy's fighter-bombers, while dodging from warship gunfire.
They are paired with the also fairly new (but slightly older) Hammerhead, a Striker-class single-pilot vessel that is loosely akin to the "Flying Fortress" B-17: very heavily armored, so heavily armored that it basically takes a warship's firepower to bring one down (keep in mind that a warship has a manpower of ~300-500 between Strikers and Interceptors so that's ~150-250 Hammerheads per Warship), while having a single turret that can fire a warship-class laser, torpedoes, or a warship-class railgun-enhanced bombshell. They are basically invincible and have the firepower necessary to penetrate warship's defenses, meaning one of them packs the defensive power of a warship and offensive power of a warship, but with a severe drawback: they're slow as molasses. They might not be able to be shot down short of incredible sustained fire or a warship's weapons, but they lack maneuverability and especially speed. Once deployed, their movements are slow and linear and predictable enough that they are easy for anything except a warship to outmaneuver.
The Stingray and Hammerhead effectively serve as fighters and bombers for warships that serve as essentially BSG-style catch-all warships, which have a huge deployment of vessels while being massively armored while having a huge armament.
Their opponents are behind in the technological side, in need of developing their next-generation warfare (they are aware their technology is being made obsolete and are working on catching up, they just haven't bridged the gap yet), so by all rights they should be losing the war, but are managing to trade even by clever tacticians and strategists who are pioneering new aspects of underwater warfare.
They field an unmanned torpedo known as the Mangrove Missile. (Notably: they field it in addition to their normal torpedos and armaments, rather than as a replacement.) When it was introduced, it was state-of-the-art, in being deployed in the thousands to obliterate enemies en masse, interceptors, strikers, and warships alike. It's basically the ultimate "smart missile", think like the SG1 ancient ship's weaponry.
The Mangrove Missile is incredibly fast and maneuverable, and has on it a small laser capable of damaging lightly-armored targets, but as a missile is obviously designed to penetrate armor and explode on impact. (It takes literally hundreds of Mangroves to sink a Hammerhead, unless the Mangrove manages to hit the main cannon on the Hammerhead, but on older-generation Strikers or Interceptors, the Mangrove was a 1-hit-kill. A Stingray can take a few Mangrove hits to non-essential areas, but it's explicitly a bad idea as a Mangrove can still destroy a Stingray fairly easily, the strength of the Stingray is in its ability to match the maneuverability of the Mangrove with a weapon that is specifically designed to destroy Mangrove missiles.)
Mangrove Missiles are basically infinite in supply, and can still shred through warships if given the chance, and can be guided by their fighter-bomber-ships for even more precise guiding beyond their naturally intelligent target selection.
They are augmented by the Hybrid vessel, the Swordfish, basically a fighter-bomber. Its design is such that it can, situationally, deflect laser fire (meaning that, in spite of not being cutting-edge anymore, they can still go toe-to-toe with a Stingray in the right circumstances), it's really fast and maneuverable, and it has two forms of weaponry: a single shot of a Mangrove Missile (albeit recharging over time; they can deploy one, and then deploy another if given sufficient time, think like a star trek replicator), along with the ability to guide Mangrove Missiles both in targeted-laser-fire (useful for potentially damaging, disabling, or even destroying interceptors) and the Missiles themselves (useful for pinpoint accuracy on disabling or destroying Strikers).
Their main weapon is railgun-hyper-accelerated rods, however. These rods, similar to Stingrays, are capable of hurting (but not destroying) warships, and with enough of them over time can actually cause critical damage. On older-generation Interceptors and Strikers, these railgun rods were instant-kills, and even on the current generation remain effective. While most of the Hammerhead is basically immune to the railgun rods, if the main cannon is hit from the front with one, it can destroy them. (The main issue with this is getting a shot off with the railgun rod without the Hammerhead destroying the Swordfish firing them, but the predictable movement of the Hammerhead makes this actually viable to do.)
While a Stingray can tank a few hits due to being reasonably well-armored, a Swordfish can launch a barrage of up to 30 railgun rods at once, and it only takes ~3-5 hitting to destroy a Stingray. As little as one, if hitting a vital system. (Again, the main advantage of the Stingray is in being the most mobile vessel in the sea while packing a large armament and reasonable survivability; it is not designed to tank every shot hit, it is designed to dodge every shot hit and to survive anything that it can't dodge.)
A big advantage of the Swordfish however is that it has a much longer operational range. Hammerheads are explicitly over long distances much much slower than a warship. Stingrays are explicitly short in operational duration. However, Swordfishes are actually faster than warships and can operate nearly indefinitely. They are primarily transported by warships for logistical reasons, but unlike the Stingrays or Hammerheads, they don't need to be transported by warships and can travel without them.
The Stingray's predecessor, the Shark, was an interceptor that was comparable to the Swordfish in speed and maneuverability. It had good armor, a good, wide laser, but also had the ability to deploy "flares", basically energy missiles, and mines, as well as a couple of side-mounted (but weaker) lasers. It wasn't quite as fast as a warship and couldn't operate indefinitely, but could still operate for a much longer time than a Stingray and had good weaponry that was cutting-edge for its time.
Sharks haven't fallen completely out of deployment, because they are still good, it's just that Swordfishes and Mangroves alike can instantly destroy them with one hit, and even a Mangroves' laser can damage a Shark Interceptor.
But this is about all I have on the setting.
And with that, I am wrapping this blog up.
I had two or three other things I wanted to talk about, but uhhhh...in writing this, I...forgot them because this was longer than I thought it'd be.
This feels like a return to form so I quite like it!