Showing posts with label spaceships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spaceships. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Star Smuggler... again... and again

Ok, in my last post I created a new ship for Star Smuggler, creatively called "The Antelope II". It's twice as big as the original. 

Crewing the ship will be a problem as will generating weekly funds to pay for it. In order to dance around these issues, I decided to create a new mechanic for Duke Springer. Duke has a statistic no other character has, Cunning. When playing, you roll 1d6 to generate this value. When replaying the game, it is suggest that you reduce this number if the game was too easy and increase it if the game was too hard. 

Since the game already allows a changing value for this Cunning mechanic, I want to use it to rapidly add crewmen. Duke can "purchase" one crewman for a point of Cunning. He cannot spend all of his Cunning on this, he must have at least one Cunning point. 

The available options are all of the retainer types from e062 to e069. The player simply chooses the one(s) he wants, include the Driver who normally won't travel outside of his or her system. In this case, he or she would. Where there is a choice of two, such as gunners or bodyguards, Duke picks the better of them.

Stats are generated just like retainers, but crewmen are different than retainers. Each crewman has a stake in the ship as opposed to drawing a salary. When items more than 100 secs are sold, they take a 1% cut. They keep this money for themselves to buy goods or save, as they see fit. The crewmen can operate independently and can be separated from the ship and/or Duke to perform their jobs. 

Additionally, they purchase their stake in the ship from Duke. When these characters are initially created, they have 1d6+150 secs. which they pay half to Duke for a stake in the ship.
If Duke is killed, one of them takes over his role. 

EDIT - 1 - I tried that part and it was too difficult. I have changed it. Each crew generates their starting money and it is pooled. This pool is divided by the following formula: (pool/number of characters+2). Each person has a "stake" in the ship now, but the ship has two stakes. If the characters had 1000 secs. and there were 3 characters, each stake would be the 1000/5=200. Each character has 200 secs. while the ship has 400. The 400 secs. for the ship's stake is what is used to purchase goods for the ship. If a character purchases personal equipment, not for the ship, it comes out of their personal money. 

When items are sold, the funds are also divided up in this fashion, too. The sale of 100 secs. worth of goods would net each player 20 secs. and the ship would take twice that amount, 40 secs. This makes it much harder to generate funds for the weekly payments, but that is the cost of doing business. Save early, save often. 

To pay the 300 secs for the loan, players would have to make at least 1500 secs. a week. If the funds aren't there, all characters will kick in money from their personal savings. It's that or be hunted as a loan jumper. 

If new characters are added, recalculate the cost of each stake by adding the new character to the original formula. This means you need to write the formula down the first time you use it. The new character will then pay that amount to the ship's account to become a crew member. If a crewman dies, nothing much happens. When the sale of good occur, use the new number of crew in the formula. Yes, getting your crew killed will make more money for the survivors. It happens. 

As an added twist, these crewmen also have a Cunning skill. It is 1d6-2, with a minimum of 1. Like Duke, they can use this stat to bring on new crewmen at a later date. This creates the scenario where Duke probably isn't the most cunning person on the ship. As a consequence, if Duke enters a scenario where a cunning roll is needed, the roll is made by the character with highest Cunning present. If Duke desires to do something dangerous, he must accompany that person and pays the price of a failed roll himself.

EDIT 2 - This part didn't make sense. Duke can't decide for another crewman, he can't force them to be savvy. 

Something like Mal and Zoe's relationship where Mal has an idea and Zoe does the tricky work of getting the details right. It also covers a situation like when Simon hired the crew for a heist or when Mal brought Simon (and River) on as crew after they had started their adventures. 

EDIT 3 - The comparison doesn't make much sense now. 

I haven't even begun to categorize the rules and event changes this would require. But it seems rather workable. What do you think? Let me know in the comments. 

Star Smuggler... Again

I unexpectedly have the day off and want to revisit the Star Smuggler Universe. The temptation to reskin the characters as the crew of the Firefly is incredible, but that would take a lot of work. I am stealing some ideas, but not Firefly whole clothe. I have decided to interject some ideas from Traveller into this run through, too.

My understanding of Traveller is super weak, so I am taking some of the larger concepts and ignoring many mechanics. The main idea that I am stealing is weapon mounts are dependent on hull size. I have created a large ship, which I will dub the Antelope II and it's twice as big as a 100 ton ship.

The original Antelope was 100 ton ship with space to carry about 134 CU of goods. Sort of. I seem to get a different number depending on how I count. The Antelope II is 200 ton vessel and has 212 CU of space. That is a multiplier of 1.58 for those keeping score at home. 

Since this is Inktober, I wanted to keep the high contrast drawn vibe from the original game. I used GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) to create a new deckplan, staying as close to the original art as I could. It isn't exactly "ink" but it sort of looks like it. 


As you can see from this schematic, I have stolen a bunch of ideas from Firefly. The ship has space for two hoppers, a medical area and weapons hold. The crew area is much larger than the Antelope, holding 6 rooms or enough room for 32 CU of people. Unlike Firefly and the Antelope I, it has two gun mounts and no secret areas. The 60 CU cargo hold is of center as it was in the original design, but this ship has a second 40-CU hold fore of the main hold and bay. It can hold a second hopper, but that is not a standard option so play begins with just one. 

This ship would require a few of modifications of the rules, which I have not formally written up yet. It looks like I would have to rewrite 3 events and 3 rules: e001, e036, e157.4, r237, r229d and r217. The events cover your first day with the ship, e036 covers buying a new ship and e157.4 references the medical regrowth tank. The rules modified are r217 for starship damage, r229d for search locations and r237 for critical hit locations. In respect to hits and search locations, the only completely new things are the medical space and weapons hold. 

The medical space is simply an area large enough for several characters and the medic could hang out in there. It would count as quarters for searches and would be immune to criticals as it's a vault in the center of the ship. The weapons hold would be searched on cargo hold results and would share the immunity to criticals for the same reason as medical does. The medical space is somewhat like a turret as it has enough room for the 4 CU regrowth tank plus a medic and one patient. The regrowth tank is not a standard option, so the player would have to find one. As far as the extra crew quarters and hold, I would have each of them hit on a 50-50 chance. I think I thought of everything, but I will have to do a play through to be sure. 

Since we are talking about a ship 1.58 times bigger, I figure multiplying everything by that will give me good cost stats. The cost is 190,000 secs with an interest payment of 475 a week. All of these values are simply the original ship's stats multiplied and rounded up. At that price point, the player would get two sets of tech 1 guns and one hopper and 16 hits. 

The overly large size will create crewing problems. I'll look at that in my next post. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Digging Deeper into Star Smuggler - Surprises in the Events Booklet - Battleship (e081)

Star Smuggler was a set of rules with two small booklets. The rule set was a 24 page booklet which included everything you needed to play. It was seamlessly integrated with a 20 page event booklet. In doing some careful analysis, I have yet to find a mistake not covered by the short errata sheet.

One of the fascinating things about the rule set is how well it plays off the event booklet. One of the complaints about this game is the number of "game breaking" events that can end your game via a single die roll. Well, those are flaws, those are features of a choose your own adventure style book.

Within the events booklet are hidden 30+ new items for the player to enjoy or be challenged by. They range from axes to battleships and when such items are stat'ed out, they never break the system laid out in the rules booklet.

I'll be taking a look some of these items, as this system can easily be fleshed out into a full rpg, complete with a campaign setting.

The first surprise I would like to look at is a ship described in one of the events - The Battleship. This is a TL-2 ship with 12 turrets and 120 hits. It's a beast. I took the time to stat it up in the normal parlance of the game. To say it's OP is an understatement, but Duke can be victorious over this beast with careful game play.

Using the basic ship, the Antelope, I extrapolated what a battleship might look like. I'm not happy with the re-skin of the Buffalo Transport, so I will be revisiting this ship's layout soon.

The first conclusion that I came to was the fact that this might be a Pocket Battleship. The limitation comes from the description of the ship itself. It's TL-2 ship, which is pretty weak.

Even so, it is a massive ship. The Pocket Battleship is 410 CU in size and it's the largest ship in this image. The Antelope is the smallest ship.


Let me know what you think. I'll be continuing this series on a weekly basis.

Monday, March 30, 2020

100th Day Post Celebration

Today, I made it to my 100 day playing Star Smuggler. I thought I should do something to celebrate. A few weeks ago, my dad sent me a foam cutter, so I decided to try it out using my drawing of the Buffalo Heavy Transport. 


Not bad so far. You'll notice I have a very shaky hand. My Dad uses these foam cutters like a kid uses crayons. I'm not very good right now, so why not check out one of his castles
Top view
Cockpit, top down
Cockpit, bottom up
Rear of ship, bottom side
Bottom of ship
I've only cut the rough details and not even all of them. The aft bottom of the ship is nearly featureless. I can't wait to finish this project.

Wish me luck!

And thank you for sticking around for 100 days of game play.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

USN Cetus and Chesterton Transport

USN Cetus
I have this horrible cough which is preventing me from working in ink. I have managed to cobble together final designs for USN Cestus and the Chesterton Transport ship in Inkscape.

Yesterday, I posted a lot about the Chesterton Transport Ship, so today I will lead with the USN Cetus.

The Cetus has four decks, like the transport, but their arrangements are wildly different.

Deck 1 is dedicated to sensors and a pair of anti-missile turrets.

Deck 2 is the shuttle operation and missile deck. It serves as the main point of ingress and egress for the crew. Often, the missiles are replaced with shuttles. Theoretically, the ship has a secondary capacity for missiles on the lower deck. Because this is a government operation, the ship often has no missiles in either location. Shuttles and drones are cheaper.

There are 4 common ships carried here. The Cetus can carry 3 manned Centaur or 4 unmanned Zombie fighters. Typically, doesn't carry anything so advanced. It is normally equipped with a pair of ABLE recon drones and a Fastback shuttle. The ABLE drone is a wonderful sensor package, but the Fastback shuttle is perversely named vehicle. It's roomy, but profoundly slow. It has two massive doors on either side like a conversion van. It carries 12 passengers or very small cargo loads.

As mentioned before, next deck holds the crew quarters slung between the fuel pods and engine mounts. The Equipment Locker holds many cargo/weapons tractors and fire fighting equipment. Two more Phalanxes are mounted on the leading edge of the ship, which makes this Frigate a wonderful carrier escort. The heavy weapons spaces are designed to carry continent busting nukes, but this configuration is rarely loaded out. The "heavy weapons" are often a pallet of 2 lasers and a single railgun, port and starboard. Sometimes, the Cetus class carries just one of these pallets with the other space being given over to either special sensors or rarely, extra space for the crew. Typically, the officers will sleep in this space, if given a chance.

The lowest deck has the main airlock, which is identical to the Chesterton's hatch. It has very little purpose on the Frigate variant. The Consumable Hold is jam packed with food. The Cargo Bay carries an unusual mix of rescue pallets and maintenance materials. There is a running gag that one Cetus can build a second Cetus from the stuff jammed in the holds.

The Chesterton Transport
Ok, back to the Chesterton. This ship features a science package on Deck 1. This deck is called the Nerd Nest as the science packages are not determined by the ship's owner. The sensors and experiments are specified in the Decadal Survey, which is the result of suggestions by the greater science community. The crew has a manual for maintenance, but only the nerdiest crewmen and women understand the equipment placed here.

Shuttle Operations is two lies for one. Most Chesterton owners cannot afford shuttles for their ships and unlike the Cetus, this space is poorly arranged for commercial shuttles. Usually each Chesterton has a hanger queen, which is only used to test to the inadequate facilities. More often than not, this area is used for recreation. The shuttle refueling lines are bled dry to prevent accidents when used for crew activities.

The third deck is well appointed with crew space to the fore and a large central Engineering space. Having Engineering in the center of the ship supports improved crew and ship safety. In an odd quirk, the bridge is arranged just like the CIC on a Cetus. This was in case of a wartime refit. This only occurred twice in the history of the program and the CIC was the only part of the ship requiring large modifications. The bridge of the Chesterton is far more roomy than the CIC of the Cetus as it has far fewer fittings for crew consoles. The "small holds" are actually larger than crew quarters and have adjustable atmospheric controls.

Deck four carries the lion's share of cargo. Strangely, it has small tractors, trams and locomotives to transport cargo from one ship to other via the main hatch. Unlike the Cetus, the main hatch is used as the main entry point for the crew.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The USN Chesterton, Growler and Variants

I'm not feeling so hot tonight. I have a cough and cold, so I can't do detail work. I figured I will just do the write up on this ship. This is middle and largest deck of 5 levels. 

The USN Chesterton was peace-time design for a frigate. The ship featured a large central engineering bay with the bridge just fore of it. Along the front rim of the disc, a variety of weapons were mounted. In the aft area were the crew quarters along with the main elevators. The engines were mounted at an angle, which gave the ship incredible maneuverability at the cost of top speed. 

Since this was a peace-time design, the frigate never made it off the drawing board. Instead, it was re-purposed into heavy tug and transport vessel. 


This configuration necessitated switching the crew quarters away from between the engines to the forward section of the ship where the weapons would have been in the name of safety. It was felt that damage to the engines could too easily breach the hull and kill the crew. USN crews fight suited, so this was not a concern for a frigate. 

When the war started, the Chesterton dry dock facility was already tooled up for transport production and switching to frigate production was easy. Since there were a great many Chesterton tugs and transports already plying the spaceways, this variant was given the name of "Growler" to set it apart. Before the first ship was released from the dock, the class name was changed again to "Cestus".

Because the Chesterton was a proven design, the Cestus/Growler configuration was only minimally tested. The placement of the tightly packed crew quarters in the rear of the ship was never studied. The crews soon found that the engines caused vibrations in the crew spaces. Unofficially, the crews reverted to the "Growler" designation as commentary on the ship's qualities. While not a fatal flaw, the ship was strongly disliked by their crews.

The first and last ship of the Cestus class do not have these problems as they were built to the specifications of the Chesterton for special missions such as mine warfare and electronic intelligence collection.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Starship Design - Centaur Transport

The Centaur Transport is a very successful design, for a warship. It is a mediocre transport. The central hull of the ship is of fixed design with 2 mass drivers as propellant. The wing pods are interchangeable cargo spaces. In this image, the right is plumbed for liquids while the right carries 20 missiles in VLS tubes and 12 nose mounted drones.

The ship is a tumbling pigeon design, meaning gravity is generated by having the ship flip end over end along it's flight path. All work is done in the back end of the ship, in front of the spherical weapons room. Typically, the crew only spins up the ship when they are coasting for long periods of time.

While this depiction shows missiles and drones, this is actually the least commonly used loaded out. The ship's mass drivers make a very effective weapon.

When used as a transport instead of a gunship, it uses aerobraking to slow down to orbital speeds before using small thrusters to match orbits. It is a very ungainly design for a transport.

As a gunship it simple barrels in on it's target, VIFFing (Vectoring in Forward Flight) to dodge fire while using the mass drivers to bombard the enemy as it slows down.

The USN Thresher AKA Between the Sword and the Flame

In my last post, Duke Springer and the crew of the Antelope battled a Talitarian scout ship. Quite possibly, this ship is my favorite ship ever.

Rather than doing a mod of it, I have redesigned the ship from the ground up and designed a deckplan and backstory for this version.


The United Space Navy's Thresher Scoutship utilizes bleeding edge technology which is not available except for a few prototype ships. The ship is tiny. After the size, the next notable feature is it's engines.

Interior, with engines off done in Inkscape.
The engines have four nodes which manipulate space-time in some rather horrifying ways. The engine requires that the ship be sealed from the outside while the interior can have NO closed spaces. To meet this requirement, the hull was grown from a single seed of metal. The walls look organic and flowing. The engine is called "the Flame" by the crew as it throws off a flickering light throughout the interior of the ship. Anecdotally, it is reported that any one who enters the engine area while the ship is in motion is erased from the entire space-time continuum as if they never existed.

In the center of the ship is a single turret and four staterooms. While these spaces have doors, they are not sealed to be airtight. The "turret" is a standard crewspace for the gunner which can move like a regular ball turret, but the gun mount on the exterior of the ship is actually a tiny remote piloted vehicle which flies in formation with the ship at all times, as if it was attached to the vessel.

On the starboard side of the ship is a second weapon, called "the Sword". It is a gravometric weapon which will kill any humans in the target area. It can strike inside an enemy ship without passing through the intervening space or shields and armor. "The Sword" theoretically has unlimited range, but the crew must have details of the target point, which means it is limited to sensor range.

It's a surgical weapon, but is subject to considerable quantum uncertainty when fired. It often fires with no measurable results. "The Sword" has one other side effect. It will kill any crew inside the Thresher in front of the barrel. For this reason it is fired with a delayed trigger so the crew can take refuge in the turret area or staterooms.

A final quirk to this weapon is it will not operate unless it is mostly sealed away from the rest of the ship. It does have a connection to the engines. The area which looks like a hatch is welded closed before take off and cannot be serviced in flight.

The engines also have a similar disconcerting quirk. They must be operated from behind. A crew of three engineers are stationed in the back compartment and cannot leave this area while the ship is in operation. The engines require exactly 688.5 kg of mass to be located in this space and three living people. No one knows why.

This is just enough room for food, water and air for three days, plus 3 people and 3 space suits. Typically these crewmen stay suited for the duration of the flight as it makes weigh distribution static.


Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Updated Designs - Blockade Buster Ships

I didn't like how the quarters looked in the last version, so I updated them. I might have to thicken the walls, it's a start.



Sunday, February 2, 2020

New Generic Deck Plans

I'm still tinkering with Inkscape. This is a much larger vessel than the Blockade Buster. This is deck one of 3 or 4. 

Let me know what you think in the comments. 


Once you start designing ships. You can just stop. Check out this Lego set for the ISS. The picture below is a link to Lego.com, where you can support this site via commissions on a purchase. 


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Playing with Inkscape and an Orion Type Ship

If I could make my own universe, I'd probably run with something like Traveller. However, the ships I have in mind are sort of WTF level.

This is an Orion Type ship. I'm tinkering with Inkscape and coming up with ship designs. This one is a Bixby class exploration ship. The difference between battleship and explorer is slight with an Orion class ship.

Typical models are 10 meters across and about a hundred meters long. The long spar from the base to the top is where the payload goes, which I haven drawn yet. The whole ship is over 600 meters long.

Orions don't scale down, period. 10 by 100 meters is an arbitrary limit that one hits if you merely want to fill a spaceship with niceties like a 50-100 kg barber chair just because you might want one.


Typical Orion type ships have HUNDREDS of kiloton nuclear devices used to push the ship forward. This one probably has thousands. The grey area above the orange is the magazine for these propulsion devices. Often, the nuclear device will be deployed by a gun like mechanism through a hole in the pusher plate. That is option 1.

Option 2 is to have the nuclear device mounted on a missile that flies out the sides of the ship and to the target area 30 meters behind the pusher plate. The delivery rate is a leisurely 1 device per 1.1 seconds and one launcher would have the ability to perform this task. However, this ramped up version has 16 launchers, each one capable of launching nukes once a second, plus the gun-like arrangement at the bottom.

Theoretically, this is an unarmed ship. You can read a story about it in action here. The tech level in this story is all over the place, no FTL, but lots of AIs and reefer sleep. The AI is beginning to think about arming itself.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Spaceship Study

Here are some draft ideas for a spaceship, perhaps a snub fighter. I will ink this one at some point but the design idea was fun verse realistic.

The initial design was rather slight.


A few details that I wanted to look at where the cockpit and shielding for the crew. The movable panels came from details of the drooping nose on the Concorde.


I decided to make the ship beefer. Those rounded rectangles are fuel tanks, not engines. Although parts are rounded, this ship is not aerodynamic. 


Each square is about a meter, so the ship stands 8 meters high. It is loaded out with 14 missiles, a centerline minigun and two large wing tip pods. There are 4 retractable radiators, the items with the 2x3 grids on them.


I hope to revisit this design again with ink, smoother lines and better proportions. This ship would be good in several rule sets like Traveller or Star Frontiers.