These ships represent two different versions of a hard-hitting strike fighter used primarily for offense rather than defense. The first has moderate weapons and no atmospheric capabilities, while the second, though slower, has interstellar capabilities, totes bigger guns, and can swoop down to planets.
Used for short jaunts between planets and space stations and other orbiting vessels, shuttlecraft can transport people and cargo safely, even if not comfortably. This is the most common type used as an auxiliary ship on board large naval vessels as well.
The military depends on scout ships for gathering information and transporting important couriers and some supplies. Megacorporations and independent adventurers use these ships for much the same reason. They are designed to be quick and agile, able to get their crews out of trouble as quickly as they got into it. Those with interstellar drives and long-term supplies can patrol the wastes of space for years.
The remote outpost can serve as a research station or a communications relay on an asteroid or moon. Add a small energy cannon, and it works well as a military defense station. It’s designed to work automatically, having no means of supporting life, though it needs periodic checking for refueling and maintenance.
The pleasure yacht takes its passengers in private comfort from system to system. Some smugglers like to use them as many systems fear inconveniencing an important military or corporate executive by what seems like a meaningless search.
Primarily used by military or police organizations for patrol and anti-piracy operations, this small vessel has an 18-person crew that usually operates within a given patrol zone for two to three months at a time. Some other common names for this ship include customs frigate or interdictor.
The workhorse of the mercantile industry, light freighters make short runs between established and colony worlds. Unfortunately, it’s also popular prey for pirate assaults more often than megacorporate executives care to admit.
In one form or another, nearly every high-tech worlds have these small vessels darting about their planets or battleships. Light defenders are commonly carried on battlecruisers and used for the protection of those vessels.
Patrol craft are the “space cops” of a given planetary system. They are meant to find and capture smugglers, customs violators, and independent pirates. If anything bigger comes their way, the patrol craft are supposed to high-tail it for home or help, depending on their orders.
Drop ships are gunboats designed to transport troops to other vessels and planetary surfaces more efficiently than outfitting a cruiser for atmospheric duty. More heavily armed versions are often used as patrol craft. Because of their short-distance service, they generally don’t get interstellar drives.