This section refines and elaborates the basic ship design system. Some parts have been modified for clarity and to allow greater flexibility in ship design.
The ship design system involves a lot of imaginary science, particularly with such components as equipment that can offset inertia and propel the ship between the stars. Most characteristics are purposely vague, to allow Game Masters to include their own technobabble for how it all works. Game Masters are encouraged to tailor this system to their own setting by altering costs, restricting the available components, and adding their own modifiers for alternate gravities, fluctuating power levels, and so on. Keep in mind that in most science fiction universes, there are thousands of variations on the equipment listings herein, and an equal number of totally unique pieces of equipment. Aliens, strange scientists, and accidental engineers employ technology that just doesn’t fit into the standard descriptions.
The Game Master and the players can collaborate to produce new, more or less effective, and unique equipment. To do so, start with what you have here and modify. To keep the situation balanced, you might also want to build in “prototype flaws” or “alien technology issues” — maybe on a Critical Failure, the weapon changes targets randomly or the ammo loader refuses to drop the next missile into the rack.
Furthermore, not all pieces of equipment should be identical. Game Masters can prevent their players from getting complacent — “Oh, it’s only got a light laser — damage of 6D. We can take that in our sleep.” They should always be guessing — did the pirates boost the damage? Is it really a laser? What are those funny “bumps” on the side of the ship — did someone figure out a new way to channel more energy through the weapon?
This also gives players incentive to follow up rumors and leads on buying new or improved equipment, and try to improve their own. The Game Master may impose “caps” on what they can get or do — for now. A good ship owner will probably spend thousands of credits just following up a dozen different leads on new gadgets and gizmos, hoping even one pans out big.
As with most of OpenD6, the space ship design rules leave a lot of room for creating almost anything in any setting. This works fine in some settings, but for others, Game Masters should come up with limitations to make the vessels best fit their universes. A few suggestions include imposing a maximum movement rate and/or Maneuverability; limiting the size or shape of vessel that can have atmosphere capabilities; and imposing increasing costs on adding large amounts of shielding or sizable power plants to big ships.
A single person can run any size ship — she just won’t do a good job about it. Each additional task she must perform in a round counts as an action, with serious penalties mounting. That’s why military vessels often have three or four crew members each for commanding, piloting, sensors, communication, engineering, system repairs, and each of the weapons. (Having multiple persons for each position allows crew members to get adequate rest.) They’ll also have additional people to cook and clean for the other crew members.
Similarly, large research or exploration vessels include scientists, instructors, lab technicians, and others.
Using the Ship Design System
With this system of modules with defined parameters, nearly any type of space-faring vessel can be created. There is an almost infinite variety of module combinations possible, and your designs can be as complex as you are comfortable with.
1. Pick a design method, which will help you decide how much information to include in the design log.
2. Print out a “Ship Design Log”.
3. Determine the size of the crew and the number of passengers (prisoners, guests, support personnel, scientists, etc.).
4. Look through each section of this chapter, following along with the design log, noting your selections on it and figuring any calculations necessary (such as total price for a room larger than the base size).
5. Subtotal each page, which will help you determine an adequate size for the power plant, the hull size, and other features.
6. If desired, you can add special features from “Quirky Ships.”
7. Write a background for the ship.
8. Sketch out the appearance of your ship on separate sheet of paper.
9. Enjoy your ship!
If you want to go through the system and use all of the variables, lay out your vessel design on graph paper, designating each square as a meter on a side. Arrange the modules as you wish, making sure that each module takes up the required number of units, and that each connects directly to another module. You’ll need to keep track of four factors: area, mass, energy units, and cost. This system works best for small to medium ships.
For large ships, you might find it easier to only keep track of three factors: mass, energy units, and cost. (You could also ignore cost, multiplying the total mass by 700 credits to get the total price, but you’ll end up paying more. It’s the nature of not shopping around for the best deal.)
Select the modules you want, adding four to six hallway modules for every room on the ship (regardless of the actual size of the room). This amount serves as a good average of wide corridors, narrow accessways, and lifts between levels.
Example: Two bridge modules bought to make a larger bridge counts as one room. A bridge and a duty station bought and intended for different parts of the ship count as two rooms. Divide the total mass by 2 and round up to get the number of area units in the ship.
You can also opt for a more freeform approach, in as detailed a fashion as you want. You could go so far as to select modules and assign whatever size you want to them. At the least, you should figure out values for crew, passengers, cargo capacity, life-support supplies, in-system and interstellar drives, Maneuverability, hull Toughness, armor, shields, weapons, length, and scale.
If, upon later examination, the modules selected don’t add to a ship of the desired size, consider that the extra space is taken up with spare parts, cargo holds, leisure rooms, and passenger accommodations — perhaps even hidden compartments.
Most ships designed using the freeform system may have a Move no greater than 8 and a Maneuverability no greater than 3D. Game Masters may allow different maximums, depending on the setting or the number of weaknesses or problems the vessel has.
Naturally, the Game Master has final approval over the design of the vessel, whether it’s made using the guidelines presented here or not.
The design process always begins with a determination of the ship’s purpose. Given the astronomical expense of designing and constructing of a star-faring vessel, most ships are very specific in their roles. It’s simply too costly to build a vessel that can fulfill many roles, so shipwrights concentrate on a particular job for the vessel, whether that be in-system defense (requiring a focus on weapons and defensive systems, but with no need for an interstellar drive), or long-haul cargo transportation (requiring ample storage space and a large, dependable interstellar drive).
Once a ship’s purpose has been decided upon, you can take notes on general ideas for the details: the crew complement, the passenger space, and the types of drives, armor, and weapons. Use those notes, along with a copy of the Ship Design Log, and go through each section of these rules, entering the details on the log. The worksheets included with the Ship Design Log can help you figure out the space, mass, energy requirement, and cost totals for each aspect of the vessel.
Note that it’s a rare case that modules are added after ship construction. Designers often add additional bulk cargo space to allow future captains room for expansion.
The following entries describe the common roles that many vessels fall under, as well as the design considerations that should be kept in mind for those roles.
In-System: The vessel is for use within a particular solar system, and as such, no interstellar drive is necessary. This is not a role, but rather a qualifier of another role. In common parlance, spacefarers often refer to in-system craft as “spaceships.” Design considerations include no need for an interstellar drive. Interstellar: The vessel is intended to travel between solar systems. This is another qualifier of a role, rather than a role itself. In common parlance, spacefarers often designate inter- stellar craft as “starships.” Design considerations include an interstellar drive.
Fighter: Fighters are most commonly small in-system vessels used for combat, which launch from planetside, orbiting defense stations, or starfaring carriers. Some larger fighters can be fitted with interstellar drives themselves, but the space and cost is better spent on weapons and defensive systems. The role of a fighter is to act against other similar craft or (in groups) against larger vessels. Design considerations include one or two crew members, large in-system drives (for speed), and as much armament and defensive capability as the vessel can carry.
The bomber version of the fighter carries projectiles (such as torpedoes and missiles) as its primary weapon, rather than energy weapons. The role of the fighter-bomber is to target larger vessels or stations, or stationary ground-based targets. Design considerations include two crew members (a pilot and a bombardier), an in-system drive, and projectile weapons. Shuttle: This is small vessel (usually under 100 tons) used primarily to ferry passengers back and forth between destinations. Shuttles are most commonly in-system vessels and used for ship-to-shore or ship-to-ship transportation. Design considerations include one or two crew members, large-capacity passenger seating (or accommodations on longer voyages), and in- system drives.
Gunboat: Also known as a drop ship, this combat vessel is an armed shuttlecraft whose primary role is to ferry combat troops to their destination, and to provide weapons support once there. Some governments use gunboats as in-system interdiction craft, intercepting smugglers and engaging in anti-piracy operations. Design considerations for a gunboat include accommodations for passengers (in this case, the troops or boarding party that the vessel carries), an in-system drive, and a good balance between weapons and defensive systems.
Scout/Survey Craft: This vessel is used primarily to engage in exploration or survey. Those without interstellar drives are often dropped off by a larger ship and picked up months later. They require accommodations for the crew, storage for items or (in the case of rescue craft) ships, and a drive suitable for atmosphere use. Design considerations include accommodations for the crew, lab space for scientists, storage for samples and items they pick up along the way, and a large, dependable interstellar drive. Armaments are few, but many scouts have considerable defensive systems, as you never know what you’re going to run into in the cold depths of unexplored space.
Yacht: This luxury vessel is owned by only the wealthiest citizens or corporations. The key word here is luxury. Design considerations include comfort as the primary goal — staterooms that are many times larger than required, massive lounge areas, gardens, exercise facilities, and so on. They may be fitted for in-system or interstellar travel.
Patrol Ship: This is a military or police vessel whose primary purpose is the control of a particular zone of space. These vessels are used for border defense (preventing anyone from crossing their patrol zone), anti-piracy (protecting merchant freighters against attack), or customs (intercepting and inspecting any vessel crossing the zone). Design considerations include heavy armament and defensive capability (as you would expect with any military vessel), as well as long-term accommodations for the crew, who often stay on patrol for extended periods. Add large in-system drives to generate speed and maneuverability and turn this into an interceptor.
Freighter: The workhorse of any interstellar society, a freighter is a vessel designed to carry cargo from one location to another, forming the backbone of trade and communications throughout the galaxy. The primary design consideration, naturally, is cargo space, with other considerations varying, depending upon the whims of the owner. Some freighters possess passenger accommodations, so that they may charge to bring passengers along with them on their runs. Armament and defense are always present, but they vary from ship to ship, depending upon the relative safety of their cargo routes. Ships that commonly travel through pirate space are more heavily armed than in-system freighters that operate within comfortable reach of the local naval base.
Liner: This vessel’s role is similar to that of a yacht but on a larger (and often more luxurious) scale. The liner ferries pas- sengers through interstellar space, from system to system (though some merely tool around one system). Design considerations include huge amounts of passenger accommodations (there are often various classes of accommodations: “steerage,” where passengers share communal bunks; “basic,” where passengers share two-person rooms; and “first class,” where the accommodations are as luxurious as on any yacht). These vessels are usually lightly armed (if at all), but they occasionally travel with escorts.
Carrier: This is vessel designed to transport smaller sublight ships from system to system. They are primarily military vessels, carrying squadrons of fighters through interstellar space. The main design considerations for a carrier are hangar and launch bay facilities for the ships that it carries, plus accommodations for the pilots and crew and an interstellar drive.
Warship: The primary purpose of this large military ship is the destruction of other vessels. Warships vary in size and role, and often similar vessels from different nations will have different names that reflect the different philosophies at work. For example, a large warship of a nation that uses its navy to protect its citizenry might be called a first rate ship of the line, whereas a similarly outfitted vessel from a more aggressive, warlike nation might be called a war striker. Briefly, though, here is a run-down of the general roles of military vessels, based on classical Earth navy equivalents:
> Frigate: the smallest of the capital ships, primarily used for patrol or escort duties
> Destroyer: mid-sized vessels, primarily used for ship-to- ship combat
> Cruiser: large vessels, primarily used as the command vessel for multi-ship task forces
> Battleship: the largest vessels, with massive armaments, used to command entire fleets
Within each of these general classes of warship, there is wide variety as well. A cruiser, for example, that is smaller than the average cruiser but still fulfills the same role might be called a light cruiser. A destroyer whose primary weapons platform are torpedoes and other projectile weapons might be called a “missile destroyer.”
There is even some variance in the roles. A cruiser that has been designed to act as a satellite vessel to a battleship, rather than commanding its own task force, might be referred to as an “escort cruiser,” because it’s still a large, cruiser-class vessel, even though its duty is not the usual cruiser assignment.
Of course, depending upon the campaign, it’s also entirely possible that warships may follow entirely fantastical naming conventions, filling star systems with “battlestars” and “birds of prey.” In any case, the design considerations for a warship obviously would focus on maximum military effectiveness: weapons and defensive systems.
This chapter contains basic lists of components available for space-faring vessels. They’re meant to provide a starting point from which to begin creating your own ships. Use the descriptions to come up with your own variant or new modules. There are some characteristics of ship components that deserve some explanation before continuing on.
The area units indicate how much space that each component takes up. Each area unit is one meter wide, one meter long, and three meters high. The mass gives a measure of how much material is packed into each area; generally, the lower the mass, the more empty space it contains.
The mass of a given component describes, in metric tons, how much material that area contains and how much that piece adds to the total tonnage of the ship. In most cases, this is not a straight weight value but more of a size and complexity value. Each component not only requires itself to operate but support systems throughout the ship to make it all work together.
Energy Draw and Energy Units
Energy units (or “eu”) are the amount of power that it takes to run that component. This power comes from either the main plant of the ship or a support plant designated for that component.
The energy draw column of each module is in energy units. Energy units hardly ever come into play, though it’s possible to reroute power from some systems to others to increase their effectiveness.
The prices associated with each module are listed in credits, a generic unit of monetary measurement that presumes that pur- chasing ships is a relatively difficult thing to do. For campaigns where the ownership of star-faring vessels is more common, divide the final cost by 5, 10, or 100 — the larger the divisor, the easier it is to get a ship.
Gravity and Ships
All ships are assumed to have gravitic compensators (sometimes called by other names, such as inertial compensators or dampeners). These incredibly sturdy machines placed throughout a ship’s hull keep the ship from being torn apart whenever the pilot makes high-G turns — and it makes life a lot longer for the crew members as well. Perceived gravity is simply an extra function of the system that simulates normal Human gravitic forces (things will fall toward the floor area when you drop them). Ships can be built without perceived gravity, but they may never forego gravitic compensators.
Dropping Life Support and Gravity
Though we call certain sections of the ship “life-support modules,” this is merely a term of convenience. It may be that you’re designing a small fighter and you’re not interested in having oxygen or pressurization in the cockpit. In that case, the pilot had best make sure he’s wearing an environmental suit.
If this is the case, the mass of each cubic meter of non- life supported area changes. Getting modules without the equipment for perceived gravity or atmosphere reduces the mass of the area to 0.4 tons per cubic meter. Cutting both lessens the tonnage to 0.3 tons per cubic meter.
Life-Supporting and Cargo Module Descriptions
Using this list of modules, you should be able to create a vessel that suits the role that you have determined for it. Each square meter of a vessel’s life-supporting and cargo space includes ceiling and floor panels, cables, conduits, wiring, and so on, so the open area is actually closer to 2.5 meters high, which is enough room for the average species to stand upright.
Each room, including hallways, has one pressure door to allow the area to be sealed off from the rest of the ship in case of a puncture in that area. Hallways may have protective forcefields instead of doors in those settings that allow such devices. If you need a larger version of any module, buy the module several more times until you get the desired size.
Example: If you’re building a starship with a crew of five and want the bridge to accommodate all five crew members simultaneously, buy the standard bridge module (which supports a single crew member) five times. This area now supports five people, takes up 20 area units, masses 10 tons, and a costs of 500.
Buying additional modules is also the method for increasing the luxuriousness of the vessel. The modules as described are the basic models, created for maximum efficiency and minimum wasted space. If you want the crew to have more room to move around, or you’re creating the opulent grandeur of a noble’s yacht, then design the ship as if it were intended to sup- port more people than it will. For instance, you could buy two “one-person rooms” to create a single “stateroom,” which would feature more amenities such as a couch, a personal entertain- ment system, and so on. The accompanying table lists each type of module, the number of people that the module supports, the number of area units that the module occupies, and its cost. The figures presented are for a single module of that type; multiple modules would combine their figures.
Smaller and yet equally functional versions of each module described are available (in some settings) at an increased cost. For every percentage smaller the miniaturized module is, increase the cost by an equal amount. So, a module 10% smaller is 10% more expensive. (Round all values up to the nearest 10 credits.)
Each square meter of life-supported area masses half a metric ton. This approximation is a good average between the empty parts (which have very little mass) and more complex parts, like furnishings, electrical, heating and cooling, atmosphere- and fluid-recycling, and food-processing equipment.
The energy units listed with each module show the number needed to filter and recycle atmosphere, provide heat and light, and generate artificial and perceived gravity for that area.
Airlock: Airlocks on space-faring vessels allow the crew to get outside the vessel without forcing everyone inside to put on environmental suits. Most are little more than two meters square and are sealed with doors of the same basic Toughness as the ship itself. Note that airlocks are not designed to be lived in — they can hold and support up to five people (per unit), but they do not provide food and water or sleeping areas. The module includes the inner and outer seal and all compression and decompression equipment. All airlocks require activation by the crew (whether via coded keypads, retinal scan, etc.), but they can sometimes be bypassed by unauthorized personnel through use of security. (The difficulty depends on the security measures used, but a value of 25 is typical.)
Boarding Tube: Boarding tubes are used to join to another ship and provide a means of getting between them. The tube is usually connected to airlocks (both purchased separately) at both ends so internal atmosphere and pressurization is rarely lost. Adding an airlock to the target-ship-side of the tube ensures that a matching airlock is not needed; the boarding tube’s airlock will seal itself to the hull of the target ship.
The standard boarding tube is one meter wide and expands to six meters long, just large enough for one person at a time to walk through. It folds into half its size in the ship when not in use. Increasing the size increases the difficulty to use it. To successfully use a boarding tube, the two vessels must match speeds.
Bridge/Duty Station, Standard: The standard bridge or duty station contains a cushioned swivel chair bolted to the floor with a computer interface and display panel in front of it and a little room in which to move around. Additional duty stations may be included by purchasing this module for the appropriate number of people. For ships with only one crew, the captain serves all duties and runs the entire ship from the bridge. In larger ships, the duty stations that control various functions (such as sensors or weapons) may be within the bridge (and represented by a bigger bridge), scattered throughout the ship (as individual modules), or both. As a luxury upgrade, bridges and duty stations can come with processors for rations of food and water for crew members who want to live or spend considerable time at their station. Many larger vessels place dedicated duty stations at locations throughout the ship. For example, a weapons battery may have a gunner’s position linked to it, or there may be a large duty station closer to the drive systems that’s used by the engineering crew.
Bridge and duty stations come with the minimum controls and computer processing necessary to get the ship moving; they give no aid to the user’s abilities. To provide better sensor, communication, or processing programs, see “Module Upgrades” later in this chapter.
Bridge/Duty Station, Compact: Similar to the standard bridge or duty station in terms of function, the compact version requires that the crew member sit, lie flat, or stand in a minimal amount of space. There is no room in which to move around in. Generally, the crew member climbs into the area through a small opening, though this module could also represent one- person duty stations that require the crew member to stand while using it.
Brig: This is a specialized holding cell for prisoners. It has two bunks, a single-person toilet room, a little space to move around in, and security measures, such as secure locks or a force-field generator barring the door.
Bunks, Communal: These are four bunks stacked two high with moving space between each set. The room also features a single toilet room, a shower, and some storage room for personal effects.
Coldsleep Module: Coldsleep modules are self-contained, self-powered, computer-regulated “sleeper-coffins,” which keep the occupant standing in a state of suspended animation for long journeys (thereby requiring less life-support costs). A cold-coffin can usually operate for 25 years after the ship’s power is shut down. The beds provide nutrients (at a reduced rate) directly into the sleeper’s system. Adding a battery to the system (see “Power Plant” later in this chapter) can increase the amount of time the cold-coffin sustains its occupant by 25 years for each energy unit devoted to the coldsleep module.
Hallway: Purchased in one-meter-square increments, some ships use hallways to separate various rooms and allow their occupants or users privacy from others moving about the ship. This modules also represents elevators (or lifts), service corridors and tubes, and spare storage. A decent estimate of needed hallway space for wide corridors is four to six area units for every life-supporting and cargo room the ship has. (This is regardless of the number of modules used to make up the room.) Halve this if you want narrow passageways.
As long as the number of area units of hallway is less than the number of area units in other modules on the ship, the hall- way has a value of zero people when determining the amount of breathable atmosphere needed. Otherwise, it has a value of one person per area unit.
Hydroponics: Some larger vessels come equipped with garden areas, hydroponic labs where vegetables and fruit are grown. The food provided by these plants can be used to feed the crew, and the plants themselves recycle the atmosphere (thus the negative value for the number of people that the room supports). Every four area units of hydroponics provides food for one Human-sized person. This provision is indefinite, though the garden requires tending and the occasional expense of fertilizing and reseeding. Larger vessels use hydroponics to cut down on the amount of life-support equipment they need to carry.
Infirmary: This fully equipped two-bed hospital has an array of medications and medical equipment, including computerized health monitors and equipment for performing surgeries.
Laboratory: This is a generic term for any sort of area dedicated to science or research. Note that the number of people is the amount of persons that can reasonably work in this area, though it may service many more. The cost includes an array of specialized scientific equipment, depending upon the focus of the lab.
Leisure Room: This room can be fitted with one of the following: audio-visual equipment plus comfortable chairs and a small selection of entertainment scholarchips; exercise equipment; shooting range with light-based weapons; observation window; meditation room or chapel; sauna; casino; or equipment for another form of entertainment (such as holographic entertainment in those settings that have them). Add additional modules of this room to create larger versions or house bigger-sized equipment (such as a pool, with a cover that folds over when not in use). This area is sometimes combined with the lounge to create a deluxe lounge.
Lounge: The basic lounge includes a table and chairs for the crew with a little space to stretch or have discussions. It does not include entertainment systems or the like. Food processing is a luxury upgrade. Lounges are most commonly used as mess facilities for the ship’s crew or ready rooms for the captains.
Medical Bed: This is a smaller version of the infirmary. It contains a single bed equipped with medical sensors and medication dispensers. It’s too small to perform surgeries in.
Passenger Seating: This area contains two seats designed to hold passengers for short hops (less than 10 hours). The module also has a large view screen (the contents of which the captain controls) and a single-person toilet room. As a luxury upgrade, the area can include a snack dispenser. For every additional pair of seats, add two area units, one ton, and 100 credits. Room, Two-Person: This dormitory-style room contains two bunked beds, a single toilet room, a single shower room, two small desks, and two narrow lockers. Food processors, if included, are standard. Most crew members and passengers usually share two-person rooms.
Room, One-Person: As above but designed for one person. Officers, the captain, wealthy passengers, or high-ranking crew who spend a lot of time on board usually have a room of their own. Captains often have staterooms created from two of these modules, occasionally connected to a private dining lounge on larger vessels.
Workroom: This is a generic term for any sort of area dedicated to such things as small equipment repair, kitchens (for nonprocessed food), laundry services, libraries, and so on. Note that the number of people is the amount of persons that can reasonably work in this area at the same time, though it may service many more. Workrooms are sometimes equipped with food processors (especially on independent ships), though this is not standard.
|Module||Area Units||Mass (tons)||Energy Draw||Cost||# of People|
|Boarding tube||3 (6)*||3||0.6||3000||1|
|Bridge/duty station Standard||4||2||0.4||100||1|
|Bridge/duty station Compact||2||1||0.2||75||1|
* The first number is the amount of space the boarding tube takes up in the ship; the second number indicates the length when extended. Use only the first number when calculating ship area.
** See entry for qualifiers on this.
Cargo space covers all extra open areas within a spaceship. This includes areas for portage and equipment, parking for vehicles or small ships, and so on. The size of the hangar, launch bay, and vehicle bay can be enlarged by up to 75% of their original size by including additional bulk space modules. (Increases of over 75% need to purchase the full module again.) The mass of the cargo is already figured into mass of the modules, and they are fitted with gravitic compensators that offset the additional mass when the bays are loaded.
Use the “# of People” column in the “Cargo Modules” chart to determine atmosphere that each cargo module requires if the captain doesn’t want the crew to be in environmental suits all of the time. This also indicates the maximum number of beings that the unit can support.
Captains who want to forego the expense of putting atmosphere in cargo space should be sure to put an airlock between the cargo space and the rest of the ship, just in case a crew member needs to get at the area while in space. The area may be filled with atmosphere when docking at station; this costs 10 credits or more per day.
Basic: They may have walls, doors, and power couplings, but basic sections are mostly designed for holding large amounts of ever-changing goods in many different sizes and masses. Most freighters and interplanetary haulers have thousands of tons of basic cargo space.
Segmented: This cargo space is generally designed for ships that haul the same kinds of cargo repeatedly. Ships that haul livestock, vehicles (that don’t require power), or other stock most often have segmented cargo compartments. When building a ship, the designer may divide up the cargo area as he sees fit, within reason. This can include multiple gantries and walkways, cranes and lift systems, and so on. Automated systems for off loading and more sophisticated devices will have to be paid for, but portable lifts and simpler equipment are standard.
Specialized: These cargo areas include vehicle launch platforms, hangars, or any other space dedicated to a specific function. These are by far the most complex and costliest cargo spaces. They include multiple power coupling systems, terminals connected to the ship’s computer, and other amenities that contribute to the section’s purpose.
Each ammo bay holds up to one ton of ammunition, which is already figured into the mass of the bay.
Bulk Space (basic): General cargo areas (which hold about 2.5 cubic meters per module) and personnel storage and weapons lockers fall under bulk space. They include simple power outlets and cables for bolting down stock. Bulk space used for storage has at least one door for loading and off-loading the cargo, plus another for accessing the rest of the ship.
Ship designers often include extra bulk space in their vessels because the space is so easy to convert to other types of areas after ship construction.
Exoskeleton Bay (specialized): This area can store one personal exoskeleton up to five meters tall and less than two meters wide. The area has automatic clamps to hold the suit in place, a power-recharging unit, and space for the user to get into or perform basic service on the suit.
Hangar (specialized): A hangar holds a fighter-sized craft that’s up to four meters tall, takes up 30 meters square, and weighs no more than 60 tons. (Combine two instances of this module to create one appropriately sized for a shuttle.) It includes room for minor maintenance. At least one launch bay is required in addition to hangar space, though one launch bay can serve a large hangar made of several of these modules.
Launch Bay (specialized): This bay can launch a single fighter-sized ship no more than four meters tall and up to 30 area units. (Combine two of these modules to make one suitable for launching a shuttle.) It includes flight control booths, terminals, guidance systems, exterior doorways, and all other devices necessary to send and receive spacecraft. (For example, in settings were such exist, the exterior doorways have atmosphere-retention forcefields. In other settings, the crew must evacuate the area before a ship may launch.) No ships are stored here. Multiple hangars can be serviced by a single launch bay, but military vessels often carry many or large launch areas, to get their fighters into space more quickly.
Livestock Bay (segmented): One large animals (up to half a ton each) can live comfortably in this 7.5-cubic-meter bay. This room includes perceived gravity and atmospheric controls.
Matter Teletransporter (specialized): Some game settings allow for instantaneous transportation of material. This unit can transport about half a metric ton of material that’s less than one meter by one meter by 2.5 meters. Multiple units can be combined to create a teletransporter service station or a larger pad. One teletransporter (regardless of the number of modules it contains) requires a duty station to operate it. The difficulty to transport matter with the unit starts at Easy and increases due to distance, energy interference, complexity of the transported material, and so on. Game Masters may impose restrictions on teletransportation distance (due to the limits of beam degradation, device components, or another reason).
Pod Bay (specialized): An escape pod, which can hold one person, takes up about six cubic meters of space with all of its dedicated terminals and rescue-courier launchers. The escape pod includes a distress beacon, which activates automatically and lasts for up to 25 years. It contains enough food and breathable atmosphere to keep the occupant alive for two months. Combine multiple instances of pods to create units suitable for larger groups. It has no easily accessible controls, but it is programmed to land on any available planet with a breath- able atmosphere. If no such planet is within a two-month voyage, the escape pod maintains its position.
Vehicle Bay (specialized): This is a garage designed to house and secure a normal-sized land or water vehicle (no more than four meters tall and seven meters in length plus width). The crew should buy additional tools and fuels as desired. Included in the purchase price is a bay door for getting the vehicle into and out from the bay.
Halve this module for a smaller bay suitable for a motorcycle or small hover skiff.
|Module||Area Units||Mass (tons)||Energy Draw||Cost||# of People|
|Exoskeleton bay *2||4||8||0.8||225||1|
|Hangar *2 (1 small fighter)||48||108||10.8||16000||24|
|Launch bay *2 (1 small fighter)||48||48||9.6||14000||24|
|Livestock bay (1 animal)||3||4||0.8||900||1|
|Pod bay (1 escape pod)||2||2||0.4||1100||3|
|Vehicle bay *2||24||34||6.8||1800||12|
1. Life support for bulk space is purchased at a rate of 1 person for every 4 area units (round up); increase this ratio if the area is frequently occupied, such as refugee quarters or ship building.
2. Area unit is 6 meters tall with 5 meters of usable interior height. When determining total area units, count these modules twice.
3. Cost includes food and atmosphere for two months for one person.
The modules listed do not include supplies (just the hardware); the ship’s owner will need to purchase those separately. The table below lists the module types, as well as the supplies. Many modules suggest that they could contain food-processing units. The initial installation fee covers the cost of having these actually installed, if so desired, as well as putting the food into the area. If the ship includes food stores, then at least one room should have a food processor installed in it.
To get the total cost for breathable atmosphere, add the number of people that the modules will support (regardless of whether people will be using those modules constantly, or even whether those modules are being used by the full complement of people or are just luxury upgrades); do not count the number of people that food supplies support. (This number is referred to as “person-areas” in the sample ships.) Then multiply that by 100 credits. Take the resulting figure, and multiply this by the number of month’s worth of atmosphere needed. This is the total cost of including atmosphere in the ship. (The weight and storage of the air is already figured into the area and mass of the ship.)
Example: A very small transport might have a compact bridge (which supports one person) and six modules of bulk cargo space. The six modules, presumably full most of the time, don’t require as much atmosphere as life-supporting areas. To figure out how many persons’ worth of atmosphere is needed, multiply the total number of bulk space units by 0.25 and round up. In the case of six modules, the total “person-areas” is 2 (6 x 0.25 = 1.5, round up).
Note that atmosphere and its cost does not repre- sent a delivery person showing up to the ship with a big canister labeled “Air, One (1) Month” — breathable gases are part of it, but primarily what you’re paying for is the upkeep and repair of scrubbers and filters that reduce the carbon dioxide build up within the ship’s atmosphere.
For simplicity, the mass and storage area of the atmosphere is figured into the mass and area of the modules.
The food storage room is a temperature-controlled area for keeping provisions. Automated selectors shunt the supplies to the appropriate food processors or the kitchen.
For food processing, multiply the number of people in the crew plus the maximum number of additional passengers (not the total number of people that the modules can hold) by the cost per month for the number of months’ worth of food required. You’ll need one storage unit for each five months of snack or standard food or 2.5 months of luxury food. The food itself adds to the mass of the storage unit, so the total tonnage of food should be less than or equal to the total tonnage of storage. (Divide the mass of the food supplies by 0.5 and round up to determine the number of storage units needed.) The storage unit doesn’t require atmosphere.
Example: A pleasure yacht might have enough food supplies for 15 people for two months. If the ship owner decided to supply only luxury food, she would need six tons of supplies (0.2 tons x 2 months x 15 people). This would be stored in 12 area units of storage (6 tons of food/0.5 tons of food per unit = 12 units). The units themselves have a mass of six tons.
Surviving on Snack Food
Snack food may be cheaper, but it’s not nearly as healthy as full meals. Anyone who tries to subsist on only snack foods must make an Easy stamina roll each day or be at -1 to all totals for the rest of the day. Characters who eat at least one full meal a day (more if they’re participating in strenuous activities) get adequate nutrition. (Game Masters may wish to impose long-term effects for diets that rely too heavily on snacks.)
Food Processor Supplies
|Equipment||Area Units||Mass (tons)||Energy Draw||Cost|
|Food, snack (per month, per person)||—||0.1||0||60|
|Food, standard (per month, per person)||—||0.1||0||100|
|Food, luxury (per month, per person)||—||0.2||0||200|
* Stores 5 months’ worth of snack or standard food or 2.5 months’ worth of luxury food.
Ships can offer a variety of computer programs that enhance their crew members’ innate skills. Duty stations, workrooms, labs, and hangars/vehicle bays may have built-in equipment to help with maintenance, diagnostics, or whatever function the room is designed to serve. The better the equipment or data available, the bigger the bonus it gives to the user. These upgrades give their users a +1 pip bonus to relevant skill use with an installation cost of 200 credits and a energy unit draw of one per die or fraction thereof. (Remember that a bonus of three pips equals a bonus of +1D.)
Example: A +2 pip bonus costs 600 credits and has an energy unit draw of 1, while a +1D+1 bonus costs 1,200 credits and has an energy unit draw of 2.
Those with neural-jacked crew can accommodate them by including a cyber interface. For a cost of 2,000 credits per interface, this allows a character with a neural jack to directly connect to the computer. The captain may restrict access to select users.
To create drone ships or automated outposts, an autofunction program can be added to the bridge. It’s a complex artificial intelligence routine that allows the ship to handle itself in nearly any circumstance covered by its limited programming. For example, an autopilot program fly itself through most situations without a pilot. Though it can follow preprogrammed routines, it doesn’t improvise very well. (Game Masters may wish to add a modifier to the difficulty of situations that almost, but not quite, lie outside its programming.) On a failure with a Critical Failure, it could become confused. An autopilot program, for example, might move its ship into a tactically dangerous position.
The autofunction program begins with 3D in each of two skills. For example, an autopilot program would have piloting and gunnery. An autoresearch program would have sensors and investigation. Autofunction programs can be combined.
Of course, having good equipment and cutting-edge software is no substitute for good personnel. As a result, any program that can take the place of a crewperson can only do so well. Not only can the program never get a better result than the difficulty, do not use the Wild Die when determining the program’s success. Character and Fate Points also may not be spent on the program’s attempts.
Programming the autofunction program with one routine (such as a single flight pattern) requires a computer interface/repair roll against a difficulty of 5. Each additional subroutine (such as another flight plan, the control of one weapon, or the examination of another part of its area) increases the difficulty by 5. Autofunction programs do require periodic maintenance to insure they continue to function properly.
To increase the luxuriousness of a module without increasing the space, add 10 to 25 credits (for minor alterations) to thousands of credits (for major ones). Nothing of any significant size can be added to the room. Instead, this upgrade fee represents various additions to modules. In living quarters, it could be an adjustable bed or chair, wall hangings or other art, soundproofing, individual climate control, soundsculpting, compact entertainment system, security, or viewscreen or port. In a leisure room, it might mean better or more complex exercise equipment or a better entertainment library. In a bridge or duty stations, this might represent food processors, voice or holographic interaction, security features (including anti-hacking programs), drive field expansion program, distress beacon, ship identification transponder, or cryogenic capabilities (for compact bridges and escape pods only). In cargo bays, it might account for automated loading systems, storage racks, climate control, security, the ability to detach cargo modules, and so on. In settings that use interstellar gates instead of interstellar drives, codes or an activation device for gaining access to the gates would be considered a “luxury” upgrade.
The “Quirky Ships” section furnishes some addition options for personalizing the newly acquired vessel.
|Skill bonus (per pip)||1 per die or part||300|
|Autofunction upgrade (+1D to one skill)||+3 per die||2000|
Example luxury upgrade costs:
Alternate interface: 3,000
Cryogenic equipment for 1-person modules: 125
Food processor (serves several people per hour): 25
Security: 1,000 or more
Ship identifier: 1,000
The core of adventure is conflict, and conflict among the stars means space combat. Nearly every ship the players’ characters encounter in a science-fiction universe has ship-to-ship weapons on board. Indeed, most space-faring vessels of any significant tonnage at all have at least one weapon built in — and usually more. One station can control all weapons, but a person may only fire one weapon per action. This is one reason that large ships often have multiple weapon stations.
Starship weapons fall into two categories: energy and projec- tiles. Energy weapons inflict damage through the application of some form of electromagnetic radiation, and projectile weapons launch solid objects.
The “Weapon Modules” chart provides a list of the most common varieties and their game characteristics, including their required area units, energy cost, mass, range, and damage. Use the chart as a starting point for developing new weapons specific to the desired universe.
The weapon descriptions don’t specify exact appearance; this is left up to the designer. As one example, blaster and laser cannons might look like one large weapon or several smaller ones that fire at the same time (but that can’t be fired individually). For each weapon, a firing arc needs to be designated. Weapons can fire port side, starboard side, rear, or perpendicular (and away from the vessel). Of course, not all arcs are appropriate for all weapon placements. Swivel mounting the weapon in a turret to get additional arcs costs an extra 200 credits and one additional energy unit per additional fire arc.
Example: To fire in four directions costs 600 credits — three extra arcs — and another three energy units.
Most weapons can’t lock on anything less than one space unit from them, with the exception of point-defense guns, which are designed for this purpose. (In some settings, Game Masters may allow weapons to target ships at less than one space unit, possibly at a greater difficulty due to the increased challenge of following something moving quickly over a short distance.)
Cannons, point-defense guns, and tractor beam projectors may fire from one or more barrels closely grouped together. Unless individual guns are fire linked, the gunner may not fire individual barrels of a multi-barrel gun.
Each launcher has only one tube from which its projectile is expelled.
For those ships that can fly near planetary surfaces, multiple each range value by 100 kilometers to get the atmospheric range for each weapon. Any range limitations in space apply in the atmosphere as well.
Obviously not a weapon, this small compartment is needed to store spare missiles, mines, torpedoes, or probes. It holds one of these, and it must be placed near its associated launcher. Auto-loaders within feed the ammunition to the proper weapon in one round. The size and mass of each ordinance are included in the size and mass of the ammo bay.
A blaster cannon is an energy weapon that fires a pulse of coherent radiation toward the target. This pulse maintains cohesion over very long distances, and so as a result, blaster cannons are favored long-range weapons. The energy required to hold the pulse together, however, results in the weapon doing less damage than other similarly priced energy weapons once it actually strikes the target.
Laser cannons are energy weapons that fire a beam of charged particles toward a target. Any beam weapon falls under this category, whether or not it actually is a true “laser” as it’s technically defined. Laser weapons are not effective at extreme distances, but they make up for their shorter ranger by packing more of a punch than blaster cannons. More of the energy directly carries through to the target upon a successful strike.
Machine cannons fire solid projectiles. They’re cheap for the damage, but they are limited to about 20 rounds of constant use before running out of ammunition. They are capable of burst or automatic fire, but they can’t fire single shot.
The “Ammo” column indicates how much ammunition can be stored in the ammo bay. The ammunition must be purchased separately; it’s not included in the weapon price.
Mines are missile warheads with command, impact, and proximity detonators set adrift in space to damage passing ships. The detonators are activated when the pod is launched. Any ship or large, metal body within one space unit of the mine attracts and detonate it. (Anything, regardless of the composition, running into it also detonates it.) They have battery-operated jets that hold them in position for up to a week. After that, the relatively tiny mines drift where gravity pulls them.
Mines are dangerous weapons. They’re tiny, they emit very little power, and they have radar-reflective paint and surfaces. This is a combination which makes them extremely difficult to detect. Their stealth rating is 24. The difficulty drops to 12 if the mine has locked on.
All this makes mines bad for enemy ships, but the real danger stems from the sheer number of mines deployed in previous conflicts and the fact that they don’t always disappear when they float away. Some burn up in planetary atmospheres while others are hit by asteroids, but most of them simply float around until they encounter an unsuspecting ship and explode.
The detonators can remain active for years. Fighting ships have deployed mines of one sort or another in every protracted conflict since beings first traveled to the stars, and any piloting misfortune at the end of an interstellar trip could easily indicate an unexpected encounter with a forgotten mine. For this reason if for no other, smart skippers emerge from a jump with their shields up.
A missile launcher is a weapons rack that holds one independently targeted, self-propelled rocket. Additional missiles are stored in nearby ammo bays, which automatically load the next missile into the launcher. The range and damage of the weapon varies, depending upon the warhead carried by the individual missile.
A missile launcher does not come with a missile; this must be added separately. Additional missiles may be purchased, one for each ammo bay connected to the missile launcher. For ships that drop bombs, the missile launcher firing arc is “down.” The missiles are either passive homing or nuke.
Passive Homing: This missile homes in on a target using the firing ship’s sensors for targeting. If the firing ship’s sensors are deactivated or destroyed, or the communications link between the missile and the firing ship is severed in some way, the missile self-destructs.
Active Homing: This missile has its own sensor suite on board, and therefore it doesn’t rely on a communications relay with the firing ship. It uses its own sensors to home in on its target, but those sensors are rudimentary, and can be fooled by noisemakers.
Cluster: This missile carries three independent warheads. Within one space unit of the target, the missile splits into three separate payloads, each of which is capable of delivering a 4D strike against the target. Point-defense systems must destroy each incoming warhead to avoid damage. Cluster missiles are considered active homing for the purposes of noisemakers.
Nuke: This missile is a passive-homing rocket armed with a nuclear warhead. It can be targeted at either an individual vessel or an area in space. (In the event of a miss, the Game Master determines where the detonation actually occurs, if any — usually no more that 1D space units away from the target point. ) Upon detonation, the nuke does its full damage to all targets within two space units, half damage to all targets more than two but less than three space units away, and quarter damage to targets three to four units away. Targets five or more units distant from the explosion take no damage. The radiation also scrambles all communications, neutralizes all battery power sources, deadens all control systems, and jams all sensors of all targets within three space units of detonation. The effect lasts for 2D hours. Most places ban these warheads due to their devastating and long-lasting effects.
Noisemaker: This missile can be directed to travel to anywhere up to 10 space units distant from the launching vessel. It matches the speed of the launching vessel (at the time of launch; no speed corrections are possible after launch), and it releases an electronic scream of white noise for up to 10 rounds. (It can be turned off by the launching ship.) The noisemaker confuses the sensors of other missiles, increasing the difficulty of attack rolls by +6D (+18) for active-homing missiles. Noisemakers can also make enemy sensor operations difficult (+1D or +3 difficulty modifier). This includes attempts to locate or target the launching vessel with energy weapons or passive-homing missiles.
Sensor Decoy: Sensor decoys send out signals to fool other ships’ sensors. They are ejected with a pre- programmed course and have a space Move of 5. Their power plants last for about an hour before burning out. The base sensors difficulty of determining which is the real ship and which is the decoy is Moderate. They have a Toughness of 4D and beating it by 12 points of damage results in its destruction.
Some campaigns permit variable payloads on torpedoes or variable settings on their energy weapons. Generally add- ing no additional cost to the weapon, some Game Masters may increase the price by 50% or more to reflect that it’s “cutting edge” technology.
Switching between settings requires a simple (no-roll or Wild Die–only) action in most circumstances. Fine tuning a weapon calls for a gunnery repair roll and several rounds or minutes of fiddling with the wiring, program- ming, relays, or other components. (The difficulty depends on how far from normal specifications the adjustment is, with a minimum difficulty of Easy.)
Point-defensive systems are specialized, rapid-fire energy weapons designed specifically to target small objects close to the vessel. They are most commonly used to target incoming missile weapons. The weapons controller does this by rolling gunnery as a parry attempt against missile and torpedo attacks. One roll works for all attacks that happen after the gunner makes the “parry” attempt. Instead of using the combat difficulty number to hit, the missile firer makes the attempt against the gunnery roll. Use the same rules as for a character’s parry, including full and partial parry actions.
Projectiles that miss the gunnery difficulty explode at two space units from the defending ship. If the projectiles get through anyway, the damage is figured as normal against the vessel’s shields, armor, and hull.
Gunners can use point-defense guns against fighters attacking the vessel, though this counts as a separate action from destroying missiles. The “Weapon Modules” chart lists the ranges for a point-defense gun used in this way.
A torpedo launcher fires an active-homing warhead that’s larger than the average missile. It features a sophisticated sen- sor package that can’t be decoyed by noisemaker missiles. The warhead is usually some form of massive energy-release weapon, such as a mass-to-energy converter or an antimatter charge. Its large payload results in a shorter effective range than other missile weapons.
The launcher comes with one torpedo. Additional torpedoes may be purchased, one for each ammo bay connected to the launcher.
Sensor probes extend a ship’s scanning capabilities and reduce the risk to vessels in unknown space. Their main attraction is a compact, battery-powered, forward-facing energy sensor with a transmitter relay. The ship receives the data transmitted from the pod and the software interprets it as if the ship had collected it with its own sensors.
The pod is self-propelled, like a missile. It only moves at two space units per round, but its drive has enough power to run for five minutes. The probe transmits data for five days.
It’s intended for launch from a ship moving no faster than cautious speed. If the ship is moving faster, then the pod’s launch velocity increases accordingly. Doing this confuses the pod’s scanner, distorting its data and resulting in a steady supply of misinformation.
The transmitter has a range of 200 space units. The launching ship can control the pod, telling it where to go and when to stop, with a sensors roll. The difficulty starts at Easy for a probe up to 25 space units away and increases by +1 for every additional 25 space units that the probe travels from the ship.
Probe pods have scale of 1 and a Toughness of 4D. Beating the Toughness by 12 or more will destroy one, but they’re hard to spot (stealth 20). They’re expensive, given their disposable nature, but scouts love them because losing a pod is far cheaper than losing the whole ship.
A tractor beam allows one ship to pull another one closer to it. (A small ship can pull itself closer to a large one, while a large one can pull a smaller one in.) The base unit offers a tractor beam “damage” of 2D. For each additional +1D to the beam, add 4,000 credits, another seven area units, 15 tons, and 10 energy units.
In addition to a swivel mount (see the beginning of the “Weapons” section for details), ordinance can have improved firing control or be fire-linked.
For improved firing control, the weapon needs a bridge or duty station that has a gunnery skill bonus module upgrade. (See the “Life-Supporting Modules” section for details.)
Several weapons can be linked to fire at the same target simultaneously at a cost of 100 credits for each additional weapon. (Game Masters may wish to limit the number of fire- linked weapons to four.) The weapons must be identical in type, range, and damage. Fire-linking provides a die total bonus to the damage of one weapon equal to 1 for every 2D in the total of amount of damage for the set of fire-linked weapons. (Round down fractions.)
Example: An Erda-class strike fighter has four fire-linked laser cannons. Each cannon deals 4D damage. The total damage for the set is 16, making the bonus +8 (16/2). When firing together at the same target, the weapons do 4D+8 damage. The weapons may also fire individually, but they don’t get the bonus.
Weapons and Scale
Instead of a special mechanic to allow a small ship to take on a larger one, designers can increase the power of the weapons to allow the ship to do more damage against a larger craft. A 1D increase in damage can offset about a three-point scale modifier to the target’s damage resistance total.
Likewise, larger vessels can better attack smaller vessels by improving the targeting ability of its guns. A 1D bonus to gunnery can overcome about a three-point scale modifier to the combat difficulty.
|Type||Area||Mass||Energy||Cost||Ammo||Range (space units) *1||Damage|
|Ammo bay (holds 1 unit)||1||2||0.4||100||—||—||—|
|-Blaster damage upgrade||1||1||2||2000||—||—||+1D|
|-Blaster range upgrade||0||0||1||1000||—||+1/+5/+7||—|
|-Laser damage upgrade||1||1||2||2000||—||—||+1D|
|-Laser range upgrade||0||0||3||3000||—||+2/+4/+8||—|
|-Replacement ammo *2||—||—||—||500||600||—||—|
|Mine launcher||2||3||2||3000||1||03/07/14||per mine|
|-Replacement mine *2||—||—||—||1000||—||1/—/—||9D|
|Missile launcher||2||3||2||3000||1||02/03/07||per missile|
|-Launcher range upgrade||1||1||1||2000||—||+1/+1/+1||—|
|Missile Warheads *2|
|-Cluster *3||—||—||—||2000||—||—||4D per warhead|
|-Replacement torpedo *2||—||—||—||1000||—||01/03/07||9D|
|Sensor probe launcher||2||3||2||10000||1||02/16/14||—|
|-Replacement probe *2||—||—||—||5000||—||02/16/14||*3|
|Tractor beam projector||7||15||10||8000||—||05/15/30||2D|
|-Tractor beam upgrade||7||15||10||4000||—||—||+1D|
1. Except for point-defense guns and machine cannons, weapons cannot lock on anything less than one space unit from their muzzle tip. The Short range for a point-defense gun or machine cannon begins at zero. To get atmosphere ranges, multiply by 100.
2. The size and mass of this unit is already figured into the launcher or ammo bay.
3. See text for details
> Firing arc (forward, rear, port side, starboard side, or perpendicular): 1 free arc
> Swivel mounted: +200 and +1 energy unit per additional arc
> Fire-linking: +100 per weapon linked to fire as one (see text for restrictions)
> Firing control bonus: Add a gunnery skill bonus to the station controlling the weapon; see “Module Upgrades” for details.
Drives, drawing energy from the power plant, move the ship through space They can be anti-gravity propulsion, hyperspace generators, or however the Game Master wants to describe the technology and physics behind it.
Ships have in-system (or sublight) drives and, sometimes, interstellar.
In-system drives propel a vessel through space at sublight speeds. Even vessels capable of interstellar flight need an in-system drive to take over propulsion of the ship when it’s maneuvering within the confines of a star system.
The smallest in-system drive covers three area units, has a mass of three metric tons, and has a cost of 2,500 credits. It gives a space Move of zero. For each additional Move increase of 1, the cost goes up by 1,000 credits and the cruising speed energy requirement goes up by three.
Designers who want to push their craft to extreme speeds frequently should be certain that their power plants can handle it: Moving at all-out speed takes 2 times the normal amount.
Though the bulk of the in-system drive is housed in a single section of the ship, a series of maneuvering jets and retros along the ship allow it to turn in frictionless space. The basic system included with ships provides the 0D in Maneuverability. Better or additional thrusters increase the Maneuverability. Their size is figured into the hull and as part of the rest of the ship. Each improvement to the thrusters adds one pip to the Maneuverability rating, with an energy draw of two units. (Remember that there are three pips in one die.) The maximum Maneuverability of any ship is 5D (unless the Game Master specifies otherwise).
|System||Space Move||Area Units||Mass (tons)||Energy Draw||Cost|
|System||Maneuver||Area Units||Mass (tons)||Energy Draw||Cost|
|Improved thrusters (per pip)||+1 pip||—||—||2||600|
In game settings featuring many far-flung star systems, the characters will need a way to travel from one system to another. Usually, this is accomplished by equipping vessels with interstellar drives. This drive allows space-faring vessels to make the miraculous leaps of distance that can shape the universe, crossing the space in far less time than it would take using conventional in-system drive systems. Regardless of the in-game explanation for interstellar travel, most interstellar drives commonly fall into two categories: the jump drive and the warp drive.
A jump drive is one where the vessel crosses the distance between its origin and its destination by “jumping” from point A to point B without ever crossing the intervening space. The vessel winks out of existence, and re-enters the universe at its destination, having “jumped” the gap in between. During the crossing, the vessel travels through a parallel dimension where the distance is greatly reduced (often called hyperspace, warpspace, subspace, otherspace, etc.). In some settings, people on board the vessel may be aware of the passage of time within the jump, or it may be instantaneous from their point of view. Other common names for jump drives are quantum drives, wormhole drives, and similar terms.
A warp drive is one where the vessel somehow warps the physical rules of the universe, so that speeds in excess of the speed of light are possible, and relativistic reality (time dilation, greater speed/ greater mass, etc) is ignored. The vessel travels physically through the intervening space between point A and point B, simply by going exceptionally fast. Other common names for the warp drive are hyperdrives, lightspeed drives, faster-than-light (FTL) drives, and the like. Some Game Masters may disallow these drives, preferring instead to focus adventures on a single system. For everyone else, here are guidelines for adding them to the ship.
The interstellar drive must be located next to the in-system drive, because the interstellar drive is actually an extension of that system, drawing on the same power source but using it in a vastly different way (as determined by the Game Master). Interstellar drives are ranked by ratings. Interstellar drives with low rating numbers increase the amount of time it takes to reach a destination, while high ones decrease it. Most civilian ships have a rating of 0.5 or lower, and most military vessels have a rating of 1 or better. The lowest rating a ship with an interstellar drive can have is 0.1. It costs 5,000 credits. It takes up two area units, with a mass of five tons and an energy requirement of 10. For each additional 0.1 in rating, add one area unit, three tons of mass, 10 energy units, and 5,000 credits to the price.
Example: A cargo hauler has a drive that provides a 0.5 rating. The interstellar drive takes up six area units (two for the basic plus four for the additions to the rating) and has a mass of 17 tons (five for the basic plus 12 for the additions). It requires 50 energy units (10 for the basic plus 40 for the additions) and costs 25,000 credits (5,000 for the basic, plus 20,000 for the additions). The 50 energy unit cost would be required for the length of the interstellar travel — hopefully, the ship designer allowed for this, otherwise the crew may end up having to spend time in cold sleep because they can’t pay the cost of life support!
Example: A frigate has a drive that provides a 1.0 rating. The interstellar drive takes up 11 area units (two for the basic plus nine for the additions to the rating) and has a mass of 32 tons (five for the basic plus 27 for the additions). It requires 100 energy units (10 for the basic, plus 90 for the addition) and costs 50,000 credits (5,000 for the basic plus 45,000 for the additions). You can begin to see why only military vessels have such high ratings — only navies have the budgets for such expensive engines!
Backup Interstellar Drive
Some captains, especially those on deep-space expeditions, like to have a spare interstellar drive on hand. Usually this is small drive with a low interstellar Move. The captain needs to pay for the second drive and include the area and mass in the ship’s design, but they don’t worry about the energy unit requirement (as long as it’s less than the main drive), because the backup cannot operate at the same time as the primary drive. (It thus shunts energy from the presumably useless main drive.)
|System||Drive Rating||Area Units||Mass (tons)||Energy Draw||Cost|
Driveless Interstellar Travel
A campaign doesn’t have to have vessels with interstellar drives to allow interstellar travel. The Game Master may choose to instead link the solar systems of her campaign setting with a series of wormholes or jump gates — areas of space that, when passed through, will catapult any vessel through a fixed route to an adjoining area of space many light-years away. In this way, ships without the ability to travel faster than light under their own power can still journey from system to system.
The jump gates might exist because interstellar drive technology is too massive to fit onto a vessel, or they may be leftover relics of a long-dead alien civilization — whatever works best for the campaign.
Game Masters may create the jump gates using the free- form method. To best simulate the gate using the standard system, it requires a bridge (and possibly living quarters for the crew, if the gate isn’t automated), a small in-system drive with minimal thrusters (for the occasional location corrections), an interstellar drive, and enough additional bulk cargo units to make the appropriately sized ring. The total number of areas required equals 4 times the square of half of the width of the largest vessel going through the gate. This gives the ship plenty of room to move through the opening.
Use the gate’s interstellar drive as if it were the ship’s. If two gates are required, the Game Master should ignore navigation mishap results. If only one gate is required, then the Game Master may decide that a navigation failure with a Critical Failure indicates that something went wrong with the gate.
Stationary Space Vessels
You can design a stationary or permanently orbiting vessel by giving it no drives. Some Game Masters may require that the ship have a minimal in-system drive and thrusters for those rare times that corrections are needed to maintain the vessel’s location.
Power Plant Modules
The power plants available to ships are as widely varied as the ships themselves. They generate power from chemicals, fission, fusion, solar cells, antimatter, or some other source entirely. The Game Masters may determine the specifics for their own individual game setting, if they so desire.
The smallest power plant covers two area units, has a mass of two metric tons, and has a cost of 2,500 credits. It provides 25 energy units to the ship. Adding more power increases the size by one additional area unit and two additional tons for each extra 15 energy units, with a cost increase of 2,000 for each upgrade.
The power generated from the plant is used to run all of the systems on board the vessel. Ship designers must make sure that their power generation meets their needs as if every system is operating simultaneously. Obviously, systems like the interstel- lar drive will not be running constantly, and only need to draw energy when in use, but ship designers need to make sure that they don’t find themselves with an energy shortage, having to juggle systems on and off.
Main power plants can last for about one year before needing to be refueled. (Ships that don’t use much of the energy output can make the plants last longer.) Most give a warning — such as an audible signal, a flashing light, or a computer-generated message — about one month before they quit.
Battery plants are simply storage batteries that hold energy. They are small and popular in short-run fighters and shuttles. They can charge off of larger plants at a rate of one minute per energy unit generated. They can run for one day per energy unit generated before needing to be recharged. Unused battery plants keep their charge indefinitely. Burned-out batteries, generally because they were overloaded in a massive power draw, are replaced rather than repaired. Multiple units purchased may be considered part of a single battery or a linked series of small batteries.
Similar in size and capacity to battery backups, burst capacitors offer a brief “burst” of power to one system (generally the drives). They are much cheaper than batteries, but once used, they need to be replaced. They last for a number of hours equal to their energy output. Designate whether multiple burst capacitors are part of one unit or a series of smaller units.
Shields and the Power Plant
Shields are one of the last components added to the ship. Designers who want to have them in their vessels need to include enough energy to power them. Shields have a draw of one energy unit per pip of protection.
A Bigger Power Plant
You might think that you can squeak by with a power plant that generates the minimum amount required by the ship. But when you’re up against a pirate corsair twice your size, you’ll be glad you got the additional upgrade, so you can:
> boost shields
> increase the movement rate
> expand the drive field
> increase power to the weapons (if allowed by the game setting)
Of course, a bigger plant also makes it easier to upgrade the ship in the future.
Power Plant Modules
|Plant||Area Units||Mass (tons)||Energy Output||Cost|
The next step of starship design is to encase the modules that make up the ship’s interior with a hull that holds the whole thing together and adds components for thrusters, weapon conduits (to account for scale), compensators, and the like. Adding an exterior casing does not increase the vehicle’s size, but it does add to the vessel’s mass.
The mass of the hull equals half the mass of all the other modules included in the ship so far. (Round up the module mass total before determining mass of hull. Round up the mass of the hull.) To figure out the cost of the hull, multiply its mass by 500 credits.
Then, use the bulkhead’s mass (not the total mass of the entire vessel) to determine its base Toughness by reading the figure on the accompanying chart. Round the number of tons down when figuring hull Toughness.
Example: A ship with a hull mass of 105 tons has a hull Toughness of 2D+2, not 3D.
Some Game Masters may prefer to use Body Points rather than the vehicle Wounds system. To determine the number of Body Points that the ship has, multiply the number in front of the “D” in the ship’s Toughness by 5, add the pips, and add 20. Use scale, armor, and shields as normal.
Some vessels can operate within the atmosphere of a planet. Game Masters may decide that ships over a certain number of modules may never enter the atmosphere, or they may ignore that restriction entirely, as dictated by the details of the individual game setting.
A vessel streamlined for atmospheric capability is more expensive than a nonatmospheric vessel —it increases the hull’s cost by 20% (that is, it costs 100 times the hull’s mass). The streamlining smooths out the rough edges and adds stubby wings; it also increases the hull’s mass by 25% (round up). A vessel with atmospheric capability must have at least 2 times the base hull Toughness (armor plus shields) to protect against the heat generated by re-entry.
Example: The design of the ship with a hull mass of 105 tons decides to streamline the vehicle. This adds 27 tons to the mass (105 x 0.25 = 26.25, rounding up to 27) and 10,500 credits to the total cost (105 x 100).
Atmospheric Movement Rate
A ship’s atmospheric speed generally relates to its capabilities in space. To determine the base atmospheric movement rate, multiply the ship’s space Move by 50. Then use the table to translate that value to kilometers per hour. Find the closest atmosphere rate to get the corresponding cruising speed in kilometers per hour. (Game Masters may adjust this value as they feel best represents the setting, including increasing the speed for thin atmospheres and decreasing it for thick ones.)
Characters who wish to have their vessels touch down on planets ought to include landing gear in their ships. Stored along the underside of the vehicle, these are activated when the landing sequence is engaged. They take a form appropriate for the setting, such as sturdy, folding legs (possibly with solid wheels) that drop out, or a series of heavy-duty anti-gravity compensators.
Since bigger ships need more landing gear, mass of the gear is based on the hull’s mass. Though the landing gear requires power to deploy it, the need is minimal and comes from power plant reserves or systems that aren’t used within the atmosphere (such as interstellar drives).
Atmosphere Movement Rate
|Atmosphere Rate||Kilometers per Hour|
For every additional 50 in atmosphere Move, add 150 kilometers per hour.
Note: In some settings, ships traveling over 1,150 kilo- meters per hour (approximately the speed of sound at sea level in an Earth-like atmosphere) could have detrimental effects on the planet’s environment.
Multiply the kilometers per hour value by 1.4 to get the approximate number of meters per round.
Aside from sensor decoys (listed under weapons), ships can use other means to hide themselves from other vessels. Stealth paint increases the difficulty for other ships to detect it by +5. It costs a number of credits equal to the hull’s mass to put it on. Damage to the ship’s exterior, however, scratches the paint, lowering its effectiveness by one point for each point over the combat difficulty. Damaged paint must be replaced.
Jamming programs send out electrical signals that prevent sensors from getting information about the vessel. For every +1 to the sensor difficulty, the cost is 1,000 credits. A jamming program requires a duty station. Game Masters can also use Special Abilities (such as Blur and Invisibility) to simulate other stealth or cloaking features.
> Cost: Hull’s mass
> Energy requirements: None
> Bonus: +5 to opponent’s sensors difficulty
> Cost: 1,000 per +1 to opponent’s sensors difficulty
> Requires duty station
Ship designers who know that a vessel will be experiencing a great deal of space combat often bolster the toughness of the ship’s hull by adding armor to it: riveting plates on the outside, using better materials for the exterior, reinforcing bulkheads, or improving the supports. Use the “Hulls” chart to determine how much each additional pip of armor costs. The maximum amount of armor a ship can have equals the base hull Toughness. (Remember that there are three pips in one die.) Armor draws no energy but does add a number of tons equal to its cost divided by 1,000.
Example: A 1,000-ton ship has a base Toughness of 4D+1. Additional armor can be purchased, up to a maximum of 4D+1, but that would cost 1.3 million credits (4D+1 is 13 pips, and each pip costs 100,000 credits). Armor worth 4D+1 would add 1,300 tons (1.3 million divided by 1,000).
Hull armor (which includes the structure of the ship) needs to be repaired — or, more likely, replaced — when it’s damaged.
Space vessel shields work very much like hull armor (adding to the damage resistance of the vessel), but they have an additional advantage — unless the whole system is blown away, they will usually only need to be fitted with a few new components. Enough damage can overload them, however; see the “Space Combat” section for details.
Energy shields are “bottles” that surround a ship. The shield projectors work in conjunction to form this bubble. Shields cover the four quarters of a vessel (forward, aft, port, and starboard), and the ratings can be divided among those four quarters as the ship’s captain sees fit. (See the section on shield deployment in the “Space Combat”.)
The shield generator module costs 1.5 times the cost for adding armor, per pip, but there is no maximum. (A three-pip increase equals one die.) They have an energy requirement of one unit per pip. Divide the cost by 10,000 to get the number of tons and by 20,000 (round up) to get the number of area units. These areas represent the individual shield projectors, which are spread over hull of the ship.
Shield-generator modules do not add to the ship tonnage when determining the hull Toughness.
Example: The 1,000-ton vessel could include a shield generator. If the generator provided the same 4D+1 in coverage as the armor, it would cost 1.95 million credits (1.5 times the cost of the armor), with an energy requirement of 13 units. The generator would mass 195 tons (1.95 million credits divided by 10,000) and would take up 98 areas (1.95 million credits divided by 20,000, rounding up), spread over the entire ship.
|Hull Mass (metric tons)||Hull Toughness||Cost per Armor Pip|
|Less than 10||0||500|
For values over 250,000: For every additional 250,000 tons, add +1 pip to the Toughness. One pip of armor costs 100 times the number of tons.
> Hull area: Not applicable
> Hull mass: 0.6 x mass of modules
> Hull cost: 500 x hull mass
> Atmospheric streamlining cost: 100 x hull mass
> Atmospheric streamlining mass: 0.25 x hull mass
> Landing gear cost: 75 x hull mass
> Landing gear area: Not applicable
> Landing gear mass: 0.2 x hull mass
> Landing gear energy requirement: See text
> Armor cost: See list
> Armor area: Not applicable
> Armor mass: Cost/1,000
> Armor energy requirements: None
> Maximum armor: Hull Toughness
> Shields cost: 1.5 x armor cost per pip
> Shields area: Shields cost/20,000
> Shields mass: Shields cost/10,000
> Shields energy requirement: 1 energy unit per pip
> Maximum shields: None
> Round all fractions up.
Shape and Size
There are an almost infinite number of ways the modules may be put together to form a vessels. Here are a few examples and how to determine the approximate length of each.
Cylindrical: The ship is a few meters wide, a few meters deep, and very long. (On graph paper, the area units would be side by side.) Add together the number of area units of all the modules, and divide by 2 to get the length.
Ellipsoid: Ships designed this way have a squashed-egg appearance, a few meters deep and twice as long as they are wide. To get the length, add together the number of area units of all modules and divide by 3.
Spheroid: The area units of the modules are evenly divided throughout two or more layers. Add together the number of area units of all the modules and divide by 6 to figure out the radius. Note that spheroid vessels are not normally capable of atmospheric flight.
Wedge-Shaped: The ship is a few meters deep and wider at the tail than at the nose. To find the length, add together the number of area units of all the modules and divide by 4.
For other shapes, or vessels that use a combination of shapes (for example, saucer shapes connected to cylindrical sections), either draw out the section or simply use the ellipsoid formula, which is close enough to what the average result would turn out to be.
Determining the Scale
To figure out the scale of the ship, take the total tonnage and compare it to the accompanying chart, following the instructions given with it.
If you’re using freeform design and just listing length, multiply the length value by 10, 100, or 1,000, depending on the size of the ship.
Example: The Zeus Machina (described in the sample ships chapter) has a length of 1,500 meters. Since this is supposed to be a really big ship, multiply by 1,000 to get the approximate tonnage — 1,500,000 tons. That has a scale value of 36.
Note that the chart works best for ships, though it can be used as a starting point for determining the scale of other celestial objects. However, if the designer or the Game Master think that something about the ship (such as a compact design or poorer or better quality construction materials) warrant a different scale value, feel free to make adjustments.
Determining the Price Difficulty
After you have found the total cost of all components of the vessel, divide the number by 10,000 (round up) and add 20 to determine the price difficulty.
To purchase a ship, characters may pool their funds. The group designates a primary purchaser, who will make the Funds roll. This character must have at least 3D in Funds.
Characters supporting the purchaser decide how much of their Funds they wish to contribute, in 1D increments. They then roll this amount, modify the total by the Poverty Disadvantage (if applicable), and divide that total by 5, rounding up.
Those with Wealth may contribute ranks of their Advantage at a rate of +1 for each rank of Wealth provided.
The bonus adds to the purchaser’s Funds total, not to the die code. It may be used for the ship’s purchase only.
Due to the high price of buying a ship, every character who contributes to buying a ship loses access to those dice of Funds for one week per die or rank of Wealth added.
Example: Shar and her pals want to get their characters a shuttlecraft, which has a price difficulty of 27. Shar’s character has 4D in Funds, which, if she’s lucky, will net her a 25. More likely, she’ll only get 12 to 16 on the roll. She cajoles the others in her group to help out. Jim offers 2D of his character’s 3D in Funds and one rank of Wealth. He rolls 9, which translates to a bonus of 2. His character’s rank of Wealth means a bonus of +1. Katrina puts in her character’s entire 4D in Funds, rolling 17, for a bonus of +4. That gives Shar a roll-total bonus of 7, which hopefully will be enough.
If Shar can buy the ship, her and Katrina’s characters’ Funds scores will be at zero for four weeks. Jim’s character will have only 1D in Funds and no access to his Wealth for three weeks.
They better hope the characters don’t run into trouble! See the next chapter for suggestions on reducing the cost of buying a ship.
For Ships Massing 10 Tons or Less
|Total Mass of Ship||Scale|
For Ships Massing More than 10 Tons
|First 2 Digits of Tonnage||Base Value|
|Number of Digits after First 2 Numbers||Value Modifier|
* If there are no digits after 10 or they all equal zero, then the base value is 5 (not 6).
Using the Ship Scale Charts
For ships of 10 tons or less, look up the tonnage on the first chart to the scale of the ship.
For ships over 10 tons, you’ll need to do a little work with one of two methods.
In the first way, look up the first two digits of the total tonnage on the second chart. Then count the number of digits after the first two numbers and look up the modi- fier on the second chart. Add together the numbers to get the ship’s scale.
Example: One type of light fighter weighs 48 tons. The first two digits of its mass are 48, which has a base value of 9. There are no digits after it, so it gets a modifier of +5. The scale value of the ship is the base value plus the modifier, or 14 (9 + 5).
If you prefer scientific notation or are working with very large numbers, convert the tonnage to exponential format with two significant digits. Multiply the coefficient by 10 and look that number up on the first of the second set of charts to get the base value. Then, multiply the exponent by 5 to get the value modifier. Add the base value to the value modifier to get the scale value of the ship.
Example: Chiron, an asteroid in Earth’s belt, has an approximate diameter of 180 kilometers and an approximate mass of 40 trillion metric ton, or 4 x 1015 when expressed in scientific notation. Multiplying the coefficient by 10 makes 40, which has a base value of 8. Multiplying the exponent of 15 by 5 gives a modifier of 75. Adding them together makes 83, which is the asteroid’s scale value.
Ships won’t run forever without maintenance. Everyone knows that life support units require recharging, reactors require refueling, and weapons need reloading, but these steps are only part of the equation. Drives require periodic inspection, sensors need recalibration, energy weapons need cleaning, and the computer demands an occasional diagnostic checkup. Without this maintenance, the ship will suffer drive failures, sensor burn-out, and random computer errors before it unceremoniously falls apart. Granted, the crew can do a lot of the work during the down time when the ship travels between the stars, but the ship must still undergo a thorough check of all systems at an atmospheric or orbital repair facility at least once a year (except for overengineered long-range exploration and military vessels that are built to withstand the stresses of space travel for far longer periods and carry the spare crew and components to effect such checks). This check costs 6,000 credits multiplied by number in front of the “D” of the ship’s hull Toughness. Ships bought used should have a check done immediately in order to expose any malfunctions.
If the check is delayed, on any shipboard setback (either from a game-enhancing card result or because someone failed with a Critical Failure), the vessel exhibits a new malfunction in addition to any other ill results. For every month you delay the check, the cost of it increases by 10% (+3 to the price difficulty).
All of this assumes you’re flying the ship conservatively. Characters who take it into combat immediately bring on even more repair expense. Even if the ship doesn’t take damage from weapon hits, combat maneuvering stresses ships to the limit. Any time your ship engages in combat, you should schedule a maintenance check immediately. Blowing it off has the same effect as delaying a regularly scheduled inspection. Military ships with extended missions usually rendezvous with repair vessels to receive their maintenance on the fly, but most folks probably won’t have that luxury. Naturally, they’ll have to find their own repair facility, a task that should prove every bit as challenging as actually buying the ship.
Characters may attempt to effect repairs during combat, in transit, or while docked in a safe haven. The base flight systems repair difficulty for fixing damaged systems is 10. Use the “Repair Modifiers” chart to alter this difficulty based on the situation. All modifiers assume technicians have proper tools; some toolkits provide up to a +1D bonus for those with the flight systems repair skill. Most starships carry at least one toolkit and the most essential spare parts in storage lockers near the engineering spaces. Most space-faring laws require captains to maintain stocks of these materials, though casual enforcement, lax resupplying, or financial restraints do not always ensure such materials remain on hand.
Use the accompany “Repairs” cost chart to get a general idea of the price of fixing the ship. Labor is extra; see the suggestions in the “Docking and Repair Fees” section. Of course, the Game Master has the final say on the cost of replacement parts (used parts cost less than new), the ability to find them, and the effectiveness of field-expedient alternatives.
Round all values to the nearest credit.
> Atmosphere recharging: Number of people times 100 plus number of months times 100
> Food restocking: Use costs in “Food Processor Supplies” table
> Power plant refueling: 30% of initial cost
> Missile weapons: See descriptions
> Delay maintenance: +10% to base cost (+3 to price difficulty)
Repairs and Costs
Round all values to the nearest credit.
> Very Lightly damaged system: 1% of initial cost (+1) to price difficulty
> Lightly damaged system: 10% of initial cost (+3 to price difficulty)
> Heavily damaged system: 25% of initial cost (+7 to price difficulty)
> Severely damaged system: 50% of initial cost (+15 to price difficulty)
> Destroyed system: Replace at full price
|Very Light damage||-3|
|Severe damage||+10 or more|
|Some parts available||10|
|No parts available||20|
|Using makeshift tools||15|
Converting to Price Difficulties
For maintenance and repairs costs, use the credits value chart to determine the price difficulty.
Players will certainly want to improve their ship over the course of the campaign. These modifications are limited by the competency of the technicians involved, the design limitations of the vessel, and the owner’s available credits.
Armor may be improved up to a value equal to the hull Toughness. Life-support and cargo module upgrades (skill bonuses) take up no additional space and have no limit on their alteration. Other components may be modified as long as there’s space for the upgrade and enough power coming from the plant.
Replacing components is also a possibility. Shipyards or parts supply firms will give characters 5% of new cost for damage parts (if they buy them at all), depending on extent of damage, and 15% of new cost for a used but serviceable part. They may give an additional 5% to 10% if the part is in high demand. The cost of modifying a component using new parts equals the same cost as purchasing an upgrade for it at initial design. Used or refurbished parts may reduce the cost.
An Unexplainable Noise
Game Masters who need a way to shake the situation on a ship should remember that technology isn’t perfect: A replaced part might be faulty (used more so than new). It might be slightly incompatible with the existing parts. The technician might not have got the installation quite right. Or all of them …
Many ships, especially those bought (or stolen) used or large ones designed with the freeform method, have flaws. Damaging the power plant may cause the weapons to overload and explode. One vital part might not be as heavily armored as the rest of the ship. Concentrating fire on a seemingly meaningless opening may trigger the self-destruct sequence. Or the Game Master might come up with another weakness.
Once the Game Master decides what it is, he should set the difficulty to figure it out; the difficulty to hit it (including the scale value), if it’s outside the ship; and the amount of damage that needs to be done to it to cause the ship’s destruction.