Let’s Read “Stars without Number” - Starships


A part of my Let’s Read “Stars without Number” series. Go grab your free copy of SWN and join in.

Welcome back, from a bit of a hiatus. For this section we’ll dive into Starships. As you might expect, there is quite a bit going on.

The table of contents for this chapter is:

  • Building a Starship
  • Example Starships
  • Modifying and Tuning Starships
  • Space Travel
  • Sensors and Detection
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Space Combat

Building a Starship

Some rather straight forward rules. Ships have a base hull Cost, Speed, Armor, HP, Crew (Min/Max), AC, Power, Mass, Hardpoints, and Hull Class.

  • Cost - this is the baseline cost for a ship with a basic drive.
  • Speed - the bonus to add to Piloting rolls for combat or maneuvering. Small ships higher speed.
  • Armor - the damage soaked by the hull
  • HP - the amount of damage the ship can take before it becomes inoperable (or explodes)
  • Crew - the minimum and maximum allowed crew
  • AC - like a character’s AC, denotes its difficulty to hit
  • Power - the amount of free power available for ship enhancements
  • Mass - the amount of free mass available for ship enhancements
  • Hardpoints - roughly the amount of weapons you can add to the ship
  • Hull Class - the category and relative size of the ship, limits what you may be able to add to the ship
Table 1: Base Starships
Hull Type Cost Speed Armor HP Crew AC Power Mass Hard Class
Strike Fighter 200K 5 5 8 1|1 16 5 2 2 Fighter
Free Merchant 500K 3 2 20 1|6 14 10 15 2 Frigate
Patrol Boat 2.5m 4 5 25 5|20 14 15 10 4 Frigate
Fleet Cruiser 10m 1 15 60 50|200 14 50 30 10 Frigate

From the base, you add fittings:

Table 2: Starship Fittings
Fitting Cost Power Mass Class Effect
Atmosphiric configuration 5k\* 0 1# Fighter Can land: frigates and fighters only
Cargo space No cost 0 1 Fighter Pressurized cargo space
Drive-2 upgrade 10k\* 1# 1# Fighter Upgrade a spike drive to drive-2 rating
Fuel scoops 5k\* 2 1# Frigate Ship can scoop fuel from a gas giant or star
# - Costs x2 for Frigate, x3 for cruisers, x4 for capital ship
\* - Costs x10 for Frigate, x25 for cruisers, x100 for capital ship

And some defenses.

Table 3: Ships Defense
Ship Defense Cost Power Mass Class Effect
Augmented Plating 25k\* 0 1# Fighter +2 AC, -1 speed
Point Defense Lasers 10k\* 3 2# Frigate +2 AC versus weapons that use ammo
# - Costs x2 for Frigate, x3 for cruisers, x4 for capital ship
\* - Costs x10 for Frigate, x25 for cruisers, x100 for capital ship

And some weapons.

Table 4: Ships Weaponry
Ship Weapon Cost Dmg Power Mass Hard Class TL Qualities
Multifocal Laser 100k 1d4 5 1 1 Fighter 4 Armor Piercing 20
Flak Emitter Battery 500k 2d6 5 3 1 Frigate 4 Armor Piercing 10, Flak
Plasma Beam 700k 3d6 5 2 2 Frigate 4 Armor Piercing 10

By design, you will not have enough space to get what you want. As is, the resulting ship is a vanilla ship.

Example Starships

Stars without Numbers provides some example ships. Listing their stats, along with base cost and annual maintenance cost.

Table 5: Free Merchant
HP: 20 Power: 10|0 free
AC: 14 Mass: 15|0 free
Armor: 2 Crew: 1|6
Speed: 3 Hull Class: Frigate
Crew Skill: +1 NPC CP: 4\*
Weapons: Multifocal Laser (+3 1d4, AP 20) Sandthrower (+3 2d4, Flak)
Defenses: None
Defenses: Spike Drive-1, 160 tons of cargo space Atmospheric Configuration Fuel Scoops, Fuel Bunker
Cost: 775K base price, 38,750 maintenance, 131,400 yearly crew cost for 3 crew
\* - Command Points for the NPC crew to use in starship combat

Modifying and Tuning Starships

Tracking to the same system used in Equipment mods, engineers can add modifications to their ship. Key is the following: “[While the ship is in active use], if a ship mod is neglected for one week of active use, it breaks down.”

Think of the Millenium Falcon. “I made a lot of special modifications…” And those modifications require continuous attention from Chewbacca and Han Solo.

There are rules for Installing these special modifications. Or even redesigning a base hull (an expensive proposition). Each modification requires a base Fix skill, and a pre-tech component cost (e.g. the relics of an advanced time period long past).

Examples

Drill Velocity Upgrade (Fix-2): The ship’s spike drive is counted as one level better when determining spike drill transit speed and maximum drill range, up to a maximum of drive-6. Cost: 10% of hull, 1 component/hull class

Space Travel

For FTL, you drill through space. Your spike drive rating indicates how many hexes you can traverse in one drill (after which you’ll need to refuel). To prepare for a drill out, you need time and space. Yes you can rush it.

You use rutters (course records) to help plot. Commonly traveled paths are freely available, and after only a few days old.

Normally, the transit time takes 6 days per hex travelled, divided by the spike drill rating. You can trim the course, and treat the spike drill rating as one rank hirer for the purposes of calculating the transit time.

Navigators make a check.

Table 6: Spike Drills
Base difficulty for a spike drill 7
The course is totally uncharted +6
The rutter's more than 5 years old +2
The rutter's from 1 to 5 years old +1
The rutter's less than a year old +0
The rutter's less than a month old -2
The drill's distance, per 2 full hexes +2
Trimming the course \* +2
The drill activation was rushed +2

And what about failing the Spike Drill check?

If the roll fails, something has gone wrong on the drill, and a roll on the failed navigation results are necessary. These mishaps don’t normally result in the summary death of the crew, but they often force the navigator to make emergency course changes or drill exits that might leave the ship in a dangerously un- friendly region of space.

You roll on a table, to see what complications ensue.

There are also considerations for Intra-System Travel, higher spike drive ratings means faster intra-system travel.

Sensors and Detection

Sometimes you may want to be discreet about your travels, these rules are in play to provide a bit of cat and mouse. Also, if pirates are looking to ambush you, they’re going to use a comparable system.

Maintenance and Repair

Yup. Ships cost money. You’re going to always be scrounging for money to keep your ship space-worthy. Every six months [of mostly active use] you need to pay 5% of its base cost. The rules cover much of the antics you would expect based on Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Firefly.

Space Combat

No miniatures on a battlemat, instead space combat uses a Ship’s Station-based system. Players fill the roll of Bridge, Captain, Comms, Engineering, and Gunnery; along with each being able to take General Actions.

The ship’s captain decides the order of departments and they each act acccordingly. As the mini-game presses on Ship Crises may emerge that require immediate attention.

Below is one example. A PC will need to take a Deal with a Crisis action and describe how they’re solving the problem; They’ll need to make a difficult check to resolve the issu.

Fuel Bleed: The ship’s fuel tanks have been holed or emergency vents have been force-triggered by battle damage. If not resolved by the end of the next round, the ship will jettison all fuel except the minimal amount needed for in-system operation

There is almost always something to do on the ship during a time of combat.

Conclusion

Packed into this chapter are the aspirations of every spacer. To get a ship, modify it, and engage in glorious snub fighter combat. And right alongside of it is the costs and challenges of owning said space ship.