That new ship you’re drooling is a shimmering mass of steel, chrome, and blasters … and you can’t afford it. Now what? Or perhaps you want a ship with a few definitely nonstandard items. How can you manage it?
This chapter discusses how to customize ships with Disadvantages, Advantages, and Special Abilities.
Salvage shipyards are one way of getting a ship. Granted, no shipyard has more than a dozen or so space-worthy vessels to choose from but, hey, they sure are cheap. The ships are almost always paid for, and they show it. Ships that end up in one of these dives were probably traded for a ticket on a safe liner inward, or enough credits to set up a dirt farm or bar. In other words, these vessels are dangerous.
Most of them have a permanent damage level or a reduced system that cannot be repaired. Granted, this means they cost well below that of “new” cost, but they are dangerous and easily destroyed. Still, because most of them are reconditioned freighters with maybe a little more firepower than their original specs showed, they’re ideal for adventuring groups.
Seldom do these shipyards have vessels larger than a big freighter or scout ship. Most are designed to land (or crash) in an atmosphere, since the expense of an orbiting station is not possible for these ship dealers.
Of course, all of these buys are “consumer beware.”
Glitches and system ghosts are to be expected, looked for — and accepted. If you had the cash or opportunity, you’d buy from a more respectable shipyard or you’d go to a military auction. These ships are the bottom-of-the-barrel. Oh, and those “hidden gems” you hear about finding buried at the bottom of the barrel? Sure, anything’s possible, but realize that most ships as these lots have been picked over by its dealer. Most of the time, the ship won’t really be worth the little money you buy it for.
But, hey, it’s your ticket to the stars.
As an optional rule, there is one possibility to reduce the cost of a spacecraft … and that’s to find one with personality and quirks. To represent this, the ship’s designer may give Disadvantages to the ship (or, in rare cases, the ship’s owner). For each rank given, deduct 1 from the final price difficulty of a vessel, or 10,000 credits. All Disadvantages so given must be approved by the Game Master, and should be considered carefully. The final cost of a vehicle can never be reduced to less than half its total cost (rounded up) through Disadvantages.
Example: A pilot has her eyes on a sparkling new scout ship, which has a price difficulty of 45. This is too rich for her blood. However, the salesman does have a used version of that model that was almost destroyed in a space battle; the repairs have made its hyperspace drive unreliable. The salesman also chuckles nervously that it might be “cursed.” In fact, the ship has Advantage Flaw (R2) and Bad Luck (R2), reducing its cost to 41. Regardless of what else is wrong with the ship, its price could never go below 23.
Here are some example applications of various Disadvantages:
> Achilles’ Heel: This usually represents a vulnerability or physical defect with the ship. Thus a ship with Rot may be held together with duct tape and prayer, forcing its crew to periodically pause to reassemble pieces; or Vulnerability (R3) might represent a specific part that causes double damage if targeted (say, at +10 difficulty). Any Disadvantages that rely on an atmosphere require the ship to be atmosphere capable. As an optional three-rank Achilles’ Heel, a ship may have one permanent, unrepairable level of damage (starting at Very Light); additional permanent damage may be acquired for additional ranks of Achilles’ Heel (three ranks per additional level of damage); in this case, the vessel also suffers the effects of that level of damage, although passengers do not suffer damage effects.
> Advantage Flaw: Some system of the ship is unreliable, and may break down entirely. This may also be used with the optional Advantages system.
> Age: At one rank, this Disadvantage is handled through role-playing like its character counterpart; people view the ship as being too old or too unproven to get the job done. At two ranks, an old ship will have its difficulties increased by +1 for any action that pushes its systems beyond bare functionality, while a young ship has all repair and upgrade difficulties increased by +1 due to the unavailability of new parts.
> Bad Luck: The ship is cursed. Any roll that fulfills the Bad Luck condition while directly utilizing the ship will be affected. (Thus a piloting roll can suffer its affects, while a melee combat in the gym cannot.) Obviously, this Disadvantage is cinematic.
> Burn-out: This can apply to various ship systems.
> Cultural Unfamiliarity and Employed: These Disadvantages are generally unsuitable for ships.
> Debt: This is one of the rare Disadvantages that would be incurred by the ship’s owner; the person borrowed money to pay for part of the ship. Failure to fulfill the Debt condition will result in the ship being repossessed.
> Devotion: This could apply to a ship with a stubborn AI, or a bio-organic ship with its own urges and goals.
> Enemy: The ship may have been stolen, or belong to an unpopular race. Regardless, some person (or people) will harass or attack the ship on sight. Efforts to dissuade the attackers will fail until the Enemy is dealt with (and the Disadvantage paid off).
> Hindrance: Hindrance cannot affect any skill that has a bonus provided by the vessel. Thus a ship that provides +1D to piloting cannot have a Hindrance that penalizes piloting. In addition, any skills so hindered must have a reasonable chance at being used (or useful) to the ship. Move penalties cannot be taken in lieu of the skill penalties.
> Infamy: Perhaps the ship was formerly a pirate vessel or responsible for notorious deaths. Regardless, it will be treated poorly by other ship captains and authorities.
> Language Problems: The vessel’s controls and programming languages are wildly atypical, and no amount of tinkering will make it compatible.
> Prejudice: This is akin to Infamy, only it refers to a class of ships that are unpopular in this neck of the galaxy.
> Price: Some aspect of the ship requires something unusual to power or maintain it. For example, the interstellar drive may require rare crystals to operate.
> Quirk: The ship has some significant quirks that require either living with or considerable effort to work around. For example, the ship might not dock easily (requiring a shuttle- craft to get to and from other ships), or the targeting computer may have a difficult time shutting off (continuing to fire even after the battle has ended). At acquisition, this Disadvantage is tied to a skill required to overcome it — usually piloting or vehicle repair.
> Reduced Attribute: This will only apply to Maneuvering or Hull Toughness, and only if the affected attribute hasn’t been improved (either through thrusters, armor, or shields).
How this system is used is up to the Game Master. If a number of ships are available, a failed but close Funds roll may have the difference made up in Disadvantages; the ship seller has a ship similar to the original one offered, only not quite as good. Alternatively, the Disadvantages may be unknown to the buyer (or mostly unknown, if Debt is taken). This can represent the haggling between the buyer and the seller, with the seller coming down in price because she knows the ship has problems she didn’t disclose.
Damage and Disadvantages
As another separate option to introduce Disadvantages into ships, a Critical Failure on a failed armor repair, flight systems repair, or gunnery repair roll for a ship with Severe damage may introduce one or more ranks of Disadvantages — usually Quirks, Achilles’ Heels, or Hindrances. In this case, such Disadvantages can exceed the limits of this chapter, at the Game Master’s discretion. For example, Hindrance might represent a reduction in the ship’s Space Move or Interstellar Speed, or Reduced Attribute might affect the Hull Toughness of a ship with shields.
Paying off Disadvantages
While taking a Disadvantage may make it possible to afford a ship in the first place, getting rid of those flaws can be nearly impossible. Really, it’s usually easier to melt the ship down into molten ore and recast it into a new, less-flawed form. But it’s not impossible.
There are two different possibilities for getting rid of a ship’s Disadvantages. The first is to pay money for its removal. If using the Funds system, getting rid of one level of a Disadvantage has a price difficulty equal to the current cost of the vehicle. Thus the scout ship with a difficulty of 41 (45 minus four ranks of Disadvantages) would require a Funds roll of 41 to remove one of those four levels. After so doing, a future roll of 42 would be required to remove another level. In the case of a Disadvantage that doesn’t have a lower rank version (such as an R3 Achilles’ Heel), all the levels of the Disadvantage need to be paid off before it goes away; each level would need to be paid for with a separate roll. In games using credits, each level of Disadvantage costs 50,000 credits to remove.
The second way is to spend Character Points to remove the Disadvantage. The players’ characters may pay 50 times the die code of the Disadvantage. They may pool their Character Points to do so. All the other rules concerning the removal of Disadvantages still apply. Note that either of these two rules apply to Debt, even though that Disadvantage is technically taken by the buyer.
Advantages and Special Abilities
The Disadvantages system simulates ships with quirks and other oddities. A similar system can also be used to emulate ships that can do more than the average vessel.
Although uncommon, some ships may — with Game Master approval — have abilities that are not otherwise accounted for in the rules. These are represented by levels of Advantages or Special Abilities. For each rank given, add 1 to the final price difficulty of a vessel, or 10,000 credits. All such options must be approved by the Game Master, who should consider the implications carefully.
Most Advantages and Special Abilities are inappropriate for space ships, although of course creative shipbuilders can find odd uses for these options. Special Abilities in ships are usually uncommon, and they may get ranks of Disadvantage added at no additional modifier.
Some of the most appropriate Advantages are:
> Authority: This represents a vessel that obviously holds sway over some aspect of space merely by its presence. For example, a ship may be a galactic police vessel, a flagship for a space-faring empire, or an interstellar humanitarian aid ship. Regardless, other ships will give the vessel access or wide lanes to do its duty. Note that the captains (and often other crew persons) of such ships either have appropriate levels of Authority themselves, or they — and quite likely their ship — have levels of Enemy (if the captains are using such ships without permission).
> Contacts or Patron: It is unlikely for a spaceship to “know” anyone itself, although it might be possible if the ship has a sophisticated AI or is a bio-organic construct.
> Equipment: This Advantage is good to represent some odd piece of equipment that can’t be simulated any other way.
> Fame: The ship will be treated better than normal. Of course, great things are often expected of the famous.
Under no circumstances should a ship have the Size Advantage. Instead, ships should buy up their size normally (or be made smaller), if so desired. Wealth and Trademark Specialization are likewise impossible, although a ship could simulate the renowned aspect of Trademark Specialization with Fame. It’s impossible to detail all the Special Abilities that a ship might have, although some of the more common possibilities are as follows.
> Atmospheric Tolerance or Water Breathing: These can be bought by a ship that’s already atmosphere-capable to make it compatible with additional or extreme environment — usually water.
> Blur, Darkness, Invisibility, and Master of Disguise: These are all useful for ships with stealth or other unusual abilities that thwart their detection.
> Extra Sense and Infravision/Ultravision: These abili- ties give the ship the ability to sense some form of energy or phenomenon that is usually impossible for vessels to detect. For example, a shuttlecraft might be able to detect wormholes. What things are detectable or undetectable should be established by the Game Master beforehand.
> Fast Reactions: For whatever reason, the ship is fast. Unless the ship is autonomous (via an AI or bio-organic nature), the pilot chooses when to activate the extra actions. In addition, the pilot receives the +1D per rank bonus to his Perception when determining initiative.
> Fear: Because of size, armament, or other aura, the ship is scarier than normal.
> Hypermovement: This Special Ability can only be used to increase the in-planet movement of an atmospheric capable vessel, as per the chart.
> Immortality: It is actually possible for a ship to be immortal. Perhaps it is destined to survive no matter what (such as a “ghost ship”), or perhaps it is a bio-organic vessel that does not die as the average mortal understands it. Any damage is still passed on to the passengers, as per normal; the crew can all die, even if the ship cannot.
> Intangibility: Some ships are rumored to be able to use the space- time warping capabilities of their interstellar drive in-system, enabling them to “phase out” of the universe for short periods of time.
> Luck: While some ships are cursed, others seem to be made out of horseshoes and clover. Such ships often have Fame as well.
> Omnivorous: This Special Ability is usually inappropriate for most campaigns that don’t make an issue about refueling. However, in campaigns that have more stringent fuel requirements, Omnivorous can represent a ship that has many other refueling options: ram scoops, alternate processing units, and so on. In this case, the vessel will still require an amount of fuel (as determined by the Game Master), but the ship will have more options as to where it gets that fuel from.
> Teleportation: This ability enables the ship to breach the normal space-time continuum, and in so doing move up to 10 space units per rank instantly. The ability can only be used to teleport this number of units maximum per day; thus a ship with two ranks of this Special Ability could make one 20-space-unit jump, four five-space-unit jumps, or 20 one-space-unit jumps. Otherwise the rules are the same as the Special Ability of the same name.
> Ventriloquism: The ship can generate some kind of sensory ability that can fool other ships, up to three space units away per rank.
Any abilities that add to an attribute or skill are generally unavailable, since those abilities can be purchased through computer or system upgrades. However, it’s possible that some of these might represent abilities unavailable through other means. In this case, the cost per level should generally be greater than the cost of similar enhancements; if the 10,000- credit cost is not sufficient, the Game Master can adjust this as necessary. These include Accelerated Healing, Ambidextrous, Armor-Defeating Attack, Attack Resistance, Confusion, Endurance, Enhanced Sense, Environmental Resistance, Hardiness, Immunity, Increased Attribute, Life Drain, Multiple Abilities, Natural Armor, Natural Hand-to-Hand Weapon, Natural Ranged Weapon, Paralyzing Touch, Sense of Direction, Skill Bonus, Skill Minimum, and Uncanny Aptitude.
Other abilities are reliant on a humanoid, organic, or spiritual body to make sense. Although it’s feasible a ship might use them, they would be incredibly rare. These include Animal Control, Elasticity, Glider Wings, Longevity, Possession (Limited or Full), Quick Study, Shapeshifting, Silence, Transmutation, and Youthful Appearance.
Damage, Advantages, and Special Abilities
For those games using the “Damage and Disadvantages” option from earlier in this chapter, the Game Master may opt — instead of adding Disadvantages — to instead remove Advantages or Special Abilities as the result of a Critical Failure on a failure.
There are three different possibilities for adding Advantages to ships. The first is to pay money for its addition. If using the Funds system, adding one rank of an Advantage has a price dif- ficulty equal to the current cost of the vehicle. Thus the scout ship with a difficulty of 45 would require a Funds roll of 45 to add one rank of an Advantage or one point of a Special Ability.
After so doing, a future roll of 46 would be required to add another rank or point. In the case of an Advantage or Special Ability that costs more than one point (such as Silence), all the ranks or points of the Advantage need to be bought before it is added; each level would need to be paid for with a separate roll. In games using credits, each rank of Advantage or point of Special Ability costs 50,000 credits to add.
The second way is to spend Character Points to add the Advantage or Special Ability. The players’ characters may pay 25 times the die code of the Advantage or Special Ability. They may pool their Character Points to do so. All the other rules concerning the addition of Advantages or Special Abilities still apply.
The third way to add an Advantage or Special Ability is to add one more rank of Disadvantages than the new option added. Thus to add a rank 2 Authority a ship might acquire a rank 3 Enemy; a ship that was christened and repainted as a galactic police vessel now has to deal with the scum of the universe.