An Alphabet of Ships

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:26 pm

For use in YTU, as you see fit. (One thread, because I'd rather post these all here than spam the forum with a bunch of threads.) The ship design tables (with the underscores) are meant to be viewed in a monospaced font, but this forum does not seem to support that; copy and paste into something that does if you want to see the columns line up.

Some of these designs are explicitly intended to be compatible with a Pirates of Drinax campaign, specifically if the party takes the "industrial route" of restoring the shipyard first instead of directly trying to acquire a pirate armada. (Thinking through these - plus the Hummingbird, which I had designed in other systems, then imported to Traveller as part of learning how ship design worked - was my inspiration to make this alphabet.) The Legionary is a work ship they might start off with, doing belt mining and building industry in nearby systems to persuade them to join. The Mint, Icepick, System Defense Brick, Zip, Fuelbag, and Quarter Hammer are examples of things it might construct. The Barrister is purpose made for hunting and seizing pirate/raider ships. The Dimin is a capital ship on a budget, the kind of thing this setup might produce. And if the empire survives long enough to go on the offensive (say, against Oghma, or eventually Tyr or Asim), the Ortillerist is all about the old Sindalian ways some may be tempted to rekindle.
Last edited by WingedCat on Thu Sep 27, 2018 11:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:29 pm

The ironically-named Average Cargo Ship actually is what its moniker declares, aside from its full automation: a hauler of cargo, cheap for its mass. The near-perfectly spherical hull, traditionally manufactured in 8 slices like a citrus fruit (resulting in the ACS's radial symmetry), is a compromise between effectiveness and thrift. The landing gear exemplify this balance, each one rated to support 10,000 tons each while being forged from a minimum of material. Being completely unarmed, an ACS never travels where pirates or customs (which, in the ship designers' collective opinion, are sometimes hard to distinguish) are expected without an escort. On routes with safe passage and at least several tens of thousand tons of cargo to be transported per month, cargo ships like this can frequently be found. It is sometimes tasked as a fleet tender, using its cargo space for fuel to help smaller Jump-1 ships bridge from main to main (or simply carrying ships within; more than one old ACS has been repurposed as a battle tender). When hauling freight, fuel is often the largest expense (after the mortgage, if that has not been paid off). On the highest volume routes, where an ACS can reliably get 50,000 tons of cargo each way, getting back into jump faster is worth buying refined fuel. Most routes use much less than full capacity, and are normally only engaged in by mortgage-free ACSes, taking another 4 to 5 days per trip for wilderness refuelling (mostly to process all the fuel). The AI is more than up to the task of taking off, making a beeline for the 100 diameter limit, performing jump calculations, entering jumpspace (using batteries charged between jumps), waiting out the jump, letting escorts refuel before jumping again on multi-jump journeys, visiting a nearby gas giant or ocean and scooping fuel if its course says to do so, then maneuvering to and landing or docking at a designated starport, all while dodging any traffic that is not trying to intercept it.

Combat is nowhere in that list, though an Average Combat Ship is programmed to obey orders given by its escorts. Out of a stated desire to have there be something truly innocent in the universe, the software's designers intentionally made it unable to understand that one ship can deliberately attack another, so far as the sub-sophont-grade AI can be said to understand anything. Crews who have escorted an ACS through pirate encounters sometimes joke about the resulting barrage of navigation hazard alerts (every individual missile, laser shot, and once the pirate ships have been destroyed, shard of debris), and the ACS's insistent labeling of hostiles as "incompetent crew". The AI does at least forgive its escorts for the "hazards" they create, with a hardcoded rationalization that they were just reacting to the much bigger hazard of another crew so incompetent that they were about to destroy other ships by accident. As a last resort, the massive hull can take a while to disable or destroy; there is at least one recorded instance of a pirate scoring hit after hit on an ACS with a beam laser, only for the ACS to ignore it all the way through landing at a downport, whereupon marines hiding nearby scored some lucky hits with a volley of tac missiles and downed the pirate ship.

The true irony in the ship class's name comes from how it is used. When used as a fleet tender, it is often large enough to carry all other ships and supplies - thus, being "average" out of a set of one. Likewise when carrying freight at less than full capacity, it will usually carry almost all the freight on a given route (and smallcraft to transfer cargo to the correct destination on a planet, as these routes tend to see less well equipped starports), save for occasional express parcels (as may be rolled for under normal rules when a small freighter seeks to carry freight to subsidize adventures) that do not wish to wait roughly a month (or more, if the ACS is making a circuit instead of a back-and-forth) for the ACS to return. On many smaller worlds (but still ones with at least a thousand tons of freight per month, inbound or outbound), an ACS has been by far the largest ship anyone has seen for a century or more, and some colony leaders have measured the growth of their economies by how full the ACS got on each outbound trip. On routes which fully use an ACS's capacity, it becomes just one more tool of the corporations that make said routes happen; the high cost means an ACS takes many years to pay off, but such long term investments are what many corporations are all about.

The amount of maintenance required exceeds what most commercially available central computer cores are capable of. An ACS thus has a "crew" of engineer droids: sanitation droids reprogrammed with various engineering software, and retooled based on their programming. There are 3 types of engineering droid on an ACS, one each specializing in jump drive, maneuver drive, and power plant engineering; the latter type also hosts general mechanic software and tools. Piloting and sensor operations (and a captain's central direction) are handled by the central computer, while there is no need for staterooms, life support, administrators, officers, stewards, or medics (with repair and maintenance of the droids, as well as major repairs to the ship, handed by repair drones). The top and bottom 5-deck "systems areas" of an ACS have been likened to beehives or ant mounds: units going from here to there, serving a communal purpose with logic hard to understand to the casual observing sophont. Between these areas lie 30 decks of fuel and cargo, so droids seeking to transit from one side to the other do so externally, climbing along the hull (which has 8 tracks of 0.1 G grav plating - each tracing from a port in the repair drone bay, straight down to a landing gear, and on to a port in the maneuver drive - usually only enabled during flight to facilitate this).

Full automation comes with a high degree of security. There are tales of ACSes where the master passwords were lost, which sat in starport immovable and impenetrable, until the starport authorities claimed the starship for nonpayment of docking fees, found themselves no more able to board and take charge than anyone else, waited for the reactor fuel to run out so the active security measures would shut off (in particular, the m-drive activating to resist any attempt to move it from where it was last ordered to be), then finally called in wrecking and salvage crews, the whole process sometimes taking around a decade. Another tale - unlikely-sounding, but with documentation - tells of four generations of security officers who kept escorting the same ACS, and how each generation tried from time to time to hack through the ship's security; the great-great-grandson of the first generation's protagonist studied business instead and simply bought the ship, presented the passcodes to his great-great-grandmother on her deathbed, brought her aboard before she passed away, then rechristened the ship with her name in accordance with her final words.

Average Cargo Ship-class cargo ship, TL 12
Maintenance: 963,227 credits/month
Crew: (virtual pilot, virtual astrogator), 150 droid engineers, 69 droid mechanics
MCr: 11,558.72
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 19.5
Sphere light hull (31455 Hull)________________-69900__2907_____13980
Jump-2 drive (decreased fuel)________________ 3500____5775_____13980
Thrust-1 maneuver drive (3*energy efficient)__699_____2097_____1747.5
Fusion power plant____________________________1060____1060_____-15900
High efficiency batteries (13980 power)_______233_____46.6_____0
Fuel (J-2 & 4 weeks' operation)_______________13387___0________0
Fuel scoops___________________________________0_______1________0
Fuel processor (convert 3060 tons/day)________153_____7.65_____153
Computer core/50______________________________0_______60_______0
Basic sensors_________________________________0_______0________0
Repair drones_________________________________699_____139 .8___0
Cargo_________________________________________5000 0__0________0
Cargo crane___________________________________169_____16 9_____0
219 engineer droids___________________________0_______76.65____0
Software: maneuver/0__________________________0_______0________0
Software: library_____________________________0_______0________0
Software: security/3__________________________0_______0.02_____0
Software: anti-hijack/2_______________________0_______8________0
Software: virtual crew/0______________________0_______1________0
Software: auto-repair/2_______________________0_______20_______0
Software: jump control/2 (free w/core)________0_______0________0

Engineer droid:
Hits 24, speed 5m, TL 11, cost 350000 Cr
Armor +2, advanced programming, no attacks
Skills chosen from one of these sets:
(100 of these on an ACS) Engineer (J-drive) 3, Astrogation 2
(20 of these on an ACS) Engineer (M-drive) 3, Electronics (computers) 2
(99 of these on an ACS) Engineer (power) 3, Mechanic 2
(0 of these o an ACS) Engineer (life support) 3, Medic 2

Last edited by WingedCat on Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:33 pm

Named for famous prosecutors, the Barrister class's intended primary mission is anti-piracy patrols, specifically to investigate likely pirate ships and seize them if investigation confirms their status. Standard operations are to lock down smaller ships using twin ion bays, then send the customized boarding gig - which, by combining its maneuver and reaction drives, can hit a combined 25 Gs long enough to cross to boarding range (able to move from Long range to Adjacent in a single round, or Very Long to Adjacent in two, with Thrust to spare). It is preferable to disable the entire enemy craft, but for larger enemies known to lack marines, just disabling enough weapons to create a temporarily safe approach vector for the boarding gig will suffice; the gig is completely hardened, so as to fly inside the ion beams if necessary. (Legends tell of small capital ships captured this way. A few of those tales are even true, but in every case the boarding team had luck and several advantages.) Anything too big or hardened for that approach can be addressed from a distance by the missile bay, or failing that, by escaping to summon the navy. Barristers fill the rest of their hardpoints with defensive weapons optimized against laser and missile fire; anything that nuclear dampers or meson screens would be useful against, are generally foes a Barrister should not engage in the first place. Although optimized for solitary operations, they can serve in a fleet as part of an escort screen.

As the purpose of this ship class is to capture ships, would-be pirate lords dream of piloting one, though few have been able to pull together the sizable (by pirate standards) necessary crew even when they could acquire a Barrister. The class designers deliberately opted away from using software to replace crew in order to frustrate such attempts. This is also the reason for double occupancy for all crew save the captain and officers. There are the usual grumblings about governments that are hard to distinguish from pirates, but almost all Barristers are operated by organizations that can make a credible claim to owning the systems they operate from, and as such know better than to capture ships that other nearby governments would object to the capture of, which keeps Barristers' targeting systems locked squarely on pirates, raiders, slavers, and other such widely disliked sorts. Thus, if an honest merchant winds up in their sights, usually the easiest way to get clear is to shut down engines and treat it like any other customs inspection. (In several cases this has caused a Barrister's crew to be so surprised that they fell back to following written procedure, including not firing the ion bays when the target stopped voluntarily, and letting the merchant go when inspection found no evidence of wrongdoing.)

A Barrister takes the shape of a flying saucer. Aside from the fuel spaces and landing gear, it is three coaxial cylindrical decks stacked atop one another, the central deck somewhat wider. None of the airlocks open to the side of the ship, but instead to the ceiling and floor, with extendible ladders or lifts. Unusually, the drives are all in the upper and lower decks, making these primarily engineering spaces. Most of the crew never leaves the rear half of the main deck, though airlocks are spaced around to provide quick evacuation in case of emergency. (More than one Barrister engineer, upon having to unjam the missile bay or realign the ion emitters mid-combat, has been reassured by this even if they did not need to use it.) The boarding gig nestles into the rear, protected by the bulk of the Barrister while undocking and docking. The bridge has gunners' workstations along the edge, with the rest of the consoles (for the captain, pilots, astrogator, and 3 of the officers; doctrine is that 1 officer must stay off the bridge during combat in case it gets taken out) arranged around a central holotank.

Sometimes, a Barrister is called upon to insert a small crew onto a planet through a blockade. In these cases, the boarding gig's forced linkage apparatus, breaching tube, acceleration bench, and laser drill are removed to make room for 6 g/bikes and more fuel, allowing the gig to make a suicidal dive from 100 diameter limit of even the largest habitable planets (size B or smaller; habitable worlds only go up to size A) down to the surface, decelerating at the midpoint so as to halt just above the surface and let its passengers dismount safely. The passengers stay seated on their g/bikes during the descent (the pilot and gunner - now co-pilot or sensor operator - still have their cockpit seats), which makes for an uncomfortable ride (and less safe, if the g/bikes are not securely locked to the hull - as they often are not, as unlocking them is one more thing to do during the hasty exit at the end). While this can often accomplish the insertion before any blockading ships can intercept, the gig rarely has any hope of making it back out, and so is set up to be abandoned and continue on autopilot until it is inevitably blasted from above, the g/bikes having been used to get the crew to cover and away before then. Plotting this escape route is done before the Barrister even begins its jump into the system, and the mission scrubbed if there is no delivery point that will allow a quick getaway. The Barrister will typically only make a jump 1 or 2 into the system, so as to have enough fuel to immediately jump out after the gig undocks.

Barrister class patrol frigate, TL 15
Maintenance: 89,669 credits/month
MCr: 1076.0225
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 4
Crew: captain, 3 pilots, astrogator, 5 engineers, 2 mechanics, 20 gunners, medic, 6 marines, administrator, 4 officers
Streamlined reinforced hull (440 Hull)__________________-1000__90_______200
Bonded superdense armor 9_______________________________72_____64.8_____0
Radiation shielding_____________________________________0______25_______0
Thrust-7 maneuver drive (3*energy efficient)____________70_____210______175
Jump-3 drive (3*reduced fuel)___________________________80_____180______300
Fusion power plant______________________________________28_____56_______-560
Fuel (jump-3 + 4 weeks' operation)______________________258____0________0
Bridge w/holographic controls___________________________20_____6.25_____0
Military countermeasures suite__________________________15_____28_______2
Computer core/90________________________________________0______120______0
Advanced sensors w/rapid deployment extended arrays_____15_____26.5_____18
2 medium ion cannon bays (long range, size reduced)_____180____75_______60
Medium missile bay (3*size reduced)_____________________70_____37.5_____10
Type-3 point defense battery (size reduced)_____________18_____22_______30
6 triple turrets________________________________________6______26.25____54
(1 sandcaster (accurate high yield) + 2 pulse lasers (long-range high yield) each)
Medical bay_____________________________________________4______2________1
Docking space for boarding gig__________________________28_____7________0
Boarding gig____________________________________________0______43.3725__0
24 staterooms (4 solo occupancy + 20 double occupancy)__96_____12_______0
Common areas____________________________________________24_____2.4______0
Enhanced signal processing______________________________2______8________2
Fuel scoops (free w/streamlined hull)___________________0______0________0
Fuel processors (80 tons/day)___________________________4______0.2______4
Software: maneuver______________________________________0______0________0
Software: library_______________________________________0______0________0
Software: jump control/3 (free w/computer core)_________0______0________0
Software: advanced fire control/3_______________________0______18_______0
Software: point defense/2_______________________________0______12_______0
Software: evade/3_______________________________________0______3________0

Boarding gig, TL 15
Maintenance: 250 credits/month
MCr: 43.3725
Excess power: 0.15
Crew: pilot, gunner, 4 marines
Streamlined reinforced hull (Hull 11)__________________________-25___2.125___5
Thrust-9 maneuver drive (2*energy efficient, hardened)_________2.25__8.4375__11.25
Thrust-16 reaction drive (3*fuel efficient)____________________8_____2.4_____0
Fusion power plant_____________________________________________0.92__1.84____-18.4
Fuel (4 weeks' operation + 30 minutes' reaction drive thrust)__3_____0_______0
Dual cockpit (hardened)________________________________________2.5___0.0225__0
Computer/25 (hardened)_________________________________________0_____15______0
Civilian-grade sensors (hardened)______________________________1_____4.5_____1
Single turret laser drill (3*energy efficient, hardened)_______1_____0.7875__1
Acceleration bench_____________________________________________1_____0.01____0
Forced linkage apparatus/TL15 (hardened)_______________________2_____0.75____0
Breaching tube (hardened)______________________________________3_____4.5_____0
Software: maneuver_____________________________________________0_____0_______0
Software: library______________________________________________0_____0_______0
Software: evade/3______________________________________________0_____3_______0

Last edited by WingedCat on Sun Jul 21, 2019 8:48 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:34 pm

Between the autodoc handling revival, the medical bay for boosted facilities, and the ship's computer overwatching freezing and revival procedures, any human in good health (END mod 0 or better) will survive being revived from a Comet Coffin's low berths (on a roll of 2 or better on 2D). Anyone else merely has a good chance (e.g., a non-human with END mod 0 needs a 4 or better). If they die, they do so already inside an autodoc capable of reviving the dead. Comet Coffins are among the safest low berths in Charted Space, and they charge a premium for it when they can.

Overall, the ship looks like a giant flying coffin. Most of the lower deck is given over to what is effectively a small automated warehouse, filled by low berths that can be shuffled around and routed via overhead tracks to any free autodoc as needed. The medical bay and airlock are the only spaces intended for routine manual access. The upper deck is relatively more spacious (not that this is a high bar), about typical for a 100 ton ship.

A Comet Coffin still under mortgage will typically stick to a "bus" route where it can reliably get a full or nearly full manifest each trip (in at least one direction). Once the mortgage is paid off, more speculative routes open up. Some smaller military organizations use these for cheap troop transport, escorted by a tramp freighter carrying the troops' heavy weapons, vehicles, and other gear.

Comet Coffin-class low transport, TL 14
Maintenance: 3,915 credits/month
Crew: pilot, astrogator, medic
MCr: 46.9805
Excess power: 0
Streamlined light hull (36 Hull)______-100__4.5______20
Jump-3 drive (2*reduced fuel)_________12.5__23.4375__30
Thrust-2 maneuver drive_______________2_____4________20
Fusion power plant____________________3_____3________-45
Fuel (J-3 & 4 weeks' operation)_______28____0________0
Fuel processor (convert 20 tons/day)__1_____0.05_____1
Fuel scoops (free w/streamlining)_____0_____0________0
Small bridge__________________________6_____0.25_____0
Basic sensors_________________________0_____0________0
Medical bay___________________________4_____2________1
5 autodocs/TL 14______________________2.5___5________0
60 low berths_________________________30____3________3
Cargo (low passage allowance)_________0.3___0________0
Cargo (non-passenger)_________________0.7___0________0
2 staterooms__________________________8_____1________0
Common area___________________________2_____0.2______0
Software: maneuver/0__________________0_____0________0
Software: library_____________________0_____0________0
Software: expert (Medic)/1____________0_____0.001____0
Software: Intellect/1_________________0_____0.002____0
Software: jump control/3______________0_____0.3______0

Last edited by WingedCat on Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:37 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:35 pm

One of the smallest true capital ships in Charted Space, the Dimin class takes the concept of "wrap a ship around a gun" to extremes, with just unde 40% of its mass being its main gun. Substantial automation, including replacingall of the gunners with virtual gunner software, allows for great reductions in size and cost - though with smaller size comes a reduction in how much punishment the hull can take, only partially offset by the best armor TL 15 can provide. It can go toe-to-toe with capital ships twice its tonnage, but most of the weapons it bristles with are intended to take on fleets of smaller ships, with particle barbettes for true spaceships and lasers for smallcraft and missiles attacking the Dimin or its escorts. It carries no sandcasters, with armor thick enough to repel almost all laser fire, though it carries no marines either; unless the crew is well prepared, or a Dimin's escorts can keep away all boarding shuttles, boarding actions are the biggest weakness.

A Dimin has enough power to fire its main particle beam continually while maneuvering, charging its jump battery, and running all other ship systems. Although traditional barrages against other capital ships are possible, the weapon also supports a "beam sweep" mode, wherein the target is not so much an enemy ship as the general volume of space the ship is in, and the beam is moved through the area in a space-filling curve. This is especially useful when attacking ships too small to directly target, much as one might aim a pressure washer at a general volume of painted-on graffiti rather than individual flecks of paint, a comparison that is more apt when facing large swarms of small craft. Targeting lasers bracketing the beam and sensors to pick up reflections help detect the moment the beam passes over a target, so as to optimize beam output during each second-long period, but this can be deactivated for nonreflective targets or ones that have a smaller cross-section than the beam. The weapon achieves its small size while preserving its deadly output by channeling the beam through seven progressively smaller stages, most of them over 100 tons by themselves, with deflection for fine aiming mounted above and to the sides. Critical hits that disable the beam most often wreck this deflection, limiting the beam to firing straight ahead instead of mostly straight ahead: turning the entire ship to land the beam's 12 by 6 meter cross section on a target many kilometers away is difficult enough that all concerned usually treat the whole weapon as disabled if aiming via deflection is inoperative.

The bridge is organized around two holotanks, one for fleet coordination and one running the countermeasures suite; which one is which varies from Dimin to Dimin, and it is not uncommon for an administrator or engineer to borrow an unused station at one of the holotanks. Actual operation of the ship is done from four consoles at the corners of the bridge (not all of which are always crewed, especially when not on alert), with their crew more often talking via intercom, text chat, or neural link than by unassisted voice. While the bridge can not be sheltered in the ship's core, said core being used for the particle beam, it is at least toward the back, just forward of the crew spaces. Said crew spaces are a little cramped, with double occupancy for all non-officers and sharing the crew commons with the cargo hold, which is small enough that a Dimin's escorts are sometimes forced to carry some of its maintenance supplies on long expeditions.

A Dimin is shaped like a massive flattened bullet (210 meters long, 42 meters wide, and 12 meters tall), to hint at its purpose and to provide streamlining, as it is intended for use in low-budget situations where highports might not always be available. The corridors' gravity plating can be slightly angled to accelerate and decelerate crew at up to 0.1G, letting crew get from anywhere to anywhere in the ship's corridors in under two minutes (assuming no obstructions and the gravity plating is all working); automatic traffic control avoids collisions (or encourages them when repelling boarding actions, making the boarders' current location "downhill" from the rest of the ship). Fuel scoops and processors are present to allow wilderness refueling, though processing a full tank's worth of fuel takes about half a week, so Dimins pressed for time often risk jumping with unrefined fuel. The limited cargo capacity means a Dimin most often travels with supply ships, to carry extra parts for maintenance. While the barbettes and turrets are manually accessible in case of emergency, those sitting in the chairs are more often there to perform maintenance than combat. Likewise, Dimins are more often used by minor polities to claim they have a capital ship than for actual combat, though just because a saber is rattled does not mean it can not cut.

Dimin-class pocket cruiser, TL 15
Maintenance: 560,234 credits/month
Crew: captain, 3 pilots, astrogator, 33 engineers, 14 mechanics, (110 virtual gunners), 7 administrators, 6 officers
MCr: 6,722.8125
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 0.5
Streamlined reinforced hull (3212 Hull)_________________-7300___657_______1460
Armor 15 (bonded superdense)____________________________876_____788.4_____0
Radiation shielding_____________________________________0_______182.5_____0
Thrust-6 maneuver drive (3*energy efficient)____________438_____1314______1095
Jump-3 drive (3*reduced fuel)___________________________552.5___1243.125__2190
Fusion power plant______________________________________197_____394_______-3940
Fuel (J-3 + 4 weeks' operation)_________________________1880.5__0_________0
High-efficiency batteries (2190 power)__________________36.5____7.3_______0
Command bridge w/holographic controls___________________80______68.4375___0
Computer core/100/fib___________________________________0_______195_______0
Advanced sensors w/distributed arrays___________________15______15.9______18
TL/14 spinal particle beam______________________________2800____1300______1000
3 type-3 point defense batteries (energy efficient)_____60______66________67.5
14 pulse laser triple turrets (high yield, long range)__14______84________182
24 particle barbettes (3*energy efficient)______________120_____288_______90
35 staterooms (7 solo occupancy + 28 double occupancy)__140_____17.5______0
Common areas____________________________________________35______3.5_______0
Military countermeasures suite__________________________15______28________2
Enhanced signal processing______________________________2_______8_________2
Fuel scoops (free w/streamlined hull)___________________0_______0_________0
Fuel processors (460 tons/day)__________________________23______1.15______23
Software: advanced fire control/3_______________________0_______18________0
Software: point defense/2_______________________________0_______12________0
Software: evade/3_______________________________________0_______3_________0
Software: battle system/1_______________________________0_______18________0
Software: virtual gunner/2______________________________0_______10________0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:33 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:37 pm

The Express Rock is a knockoff of the Third Imperium's famed Express Boat, built and operated by smaller polities with less space to cover but still needing to get the mail through. It is a simple, automated jump drone, heading along pre-programmed 3 or 4 parsec routes. Sometimes these are Jump-1 circuits, sometimes a one-way double Jump-2, but most often a back-and-forth Jump-2. It aims to come out of jump space just over 100 diameters from its target, as without maneuver drive, it must be able to jump back out after drifting while plotting the next jump (which it always does cautiously: mechanically, both the Astrogation and Engineer (Jump) checks are done slower, and use the Intellect software - a TL 11 prototype, or more properly, designed to be built and maintained with TL 11 tools, thus costing more and using more bandwidth - with the Expert software, for a net DM+3 on each check). It powers its jumps from batteries, recharged by shutting off running lights and sensors for four days after entering jump space (making sure to turn them back on well before the earliest possible breakout).

Every x-boat stop in the Imperium might be able to support a tender, but not every stop in smaller polities can, so the Express Rock only requires a tender at the end of its route. If there is a tender, the Express Rock will exchange mail, dock, refuel, submit to maintenance if needed, take on cargo if there is any, then leave. If not, it will simply exchange mail (if it can establish radio communications - else, it notes this failure and informs the next tender it meets, which will then request the polity send someone to investigate; this has brought rescue to many failing colonies that found themselves otherwise unable to get word out), deposit in orbit any cargo marked for this destination (expelling it via its loading belt - an internal series of conveyor belts), and be on its way.

Hosting its own mail distribution array to facilitate this mission makes it a bit more expensive than an Express Boat, despite being less capable in most other ways. It also requires more up front investment than the usual approach of paying some ship that happens to be going in the right direction to deliver the mail. Still, the reliability of priority mail delivery to remote destinations, even at half speed relative to the Imperium, can make a good investment for any minor polity with more than a few worlds.

Express Rock-class mail drone, TL 11
Maintenance: 3,385 credits/month
Crew: (virtual pilot, virtual astrogator)
MCr: 40.615
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 0
Planetoid light hull (46 Hull)____________________-100__0.3____20
Planetoid null space______________________________20____0______0
Armor 2 (free w/planetoid hull)___________________0_____0______0
Jump-2 drive______________________________________10____1 5_____20
High efficiency batteries (20 power)______________0.5___0.05___0
Fusion power plant________________________________2.1___1.05___-21
Fuel (J-2 * 2 & 4 weeks' operation)_______________41____0______0
Basic sensors_____________________________________0_____0______0
Mail distribution array___________________________10____20_____0
Loading belt______________________________________1_____0. 003__1
Software: maneuver/0______________________________0_____0______0
Software: virtual crew/0__________________________0_____1______0
Software: intellect (prototype, extra bandwidth)__0_____0.01___0
Software: expert/0 (Astrogation)__________________0_____0.001__0
Software: expert/0 (Engineer (J-drive))___________0_____0.001__0
Software: jump control/2__________________________0_____0.2____0

Posts: 115
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:17 am

Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:38 pm

A Fuelbag is a self-mobile fuel station, and little more. Its oversized maneuver drive lets it operate at Thrust 1/6 when carrying a full load of fuel, allowing it to slowly catch up when a drone swarm exhausts one mining site and moves to another. Its fuel storage is in two cheek-like collapsible pouches that expand into cylindrical drums, which occasionally results in comparisons to squirrels and similar fauna. Most of the ship's tonnage is devoted to this (with deployable bracing to minimize sloshing when the fuel tanks are full), not even carrying hoses to transfer the fuel; when another ship wishes to draw fuel, multiple Icepicks will usually attach themselves between the ship and the Fuelbag, transferring fuel at four tons per Icepick per hour. Although rated and constructed at 10 tons, when active a Fuelbag is always larger than this, as its reactor draws fuel from the pouches so a bit of fuel must be injected before the ship is started up. Ore in small chunks (but not raw materials) can be carried in place of some of the fuel, with internal compartments dividing the ore from the fuel.

Fuelbags are typically colored in high-visibility white with black splotches, akin to certain kinds of livestock. Between this and the minimal AI (which can move itself, and report its status and sensor readings, under orders from other drones in the swarm), many aslan who have encountered this design report feeling reassured by it, as if its mere existence is a sign that the universe is as it should be.

Fuelbag class fuel depot drone, TL 12
Maintenance: 347 credits/month
Crew: none (virtual pilot)
MCr: 4.167
Excess power: 0
Planetoid hull (5 Hull)___________________________________________-10___0.04___2
Planetoid null space______________________________________________2_____0______0
Armor 2 (planetoid hull)__________________________________________0_____0______0
Budget thrust-1 maneuver drive for 100 tons (energy inefficient)__1_____1.5____13
Fusion power plant________________________________________________1_____1______-15
Collapsible fuel tank (can hold 600 tons)_________________________6_____0.003__0
External cargo mount (594 tons, to handle fuel tanks when full)___0_____0.594__0
Basic sensors_____________________________________________________0_____0______0
Software: maneuver/0______________________________________________0_____0______0
Software: virtual crew/0__________________________________________0_____1______0

Last edited by WingedCat on Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:37 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:39 pm

Designed first and foremost to show off the cutting edge of TL 11 and ferry the many Jump-1 TL 9-10 ships in service when TL 11 is newly achieved, a Ghost Galleon can also take loose ore or cargo containers (or high-value asteroids - in large chunks if necessary). The "ghost" in its name refers to the virtual 1,000 ton cargo hold created by its jump net.

Fitted with oversized engines suited to 1,600 ton ships, a Ghost Galleon suffers no performance degradation when hauling a full 1,000 ton load, although these engines do not give any improved performance when the Ghost Galleon is unladen. The ship's grappling arm can arrange cargo within its jump net, or cargo can be prearranged, floating in space, for the Ghost Galleon to slip next to, extend its jump net, and jump out with immediately, not entirely dissimilar to express boat operations. Unloading is likewise simple for delivery to a point in space: just go there and retract the jump net.

This is best done near an orbital shipyard or highport, as a Ghost Galleon can not safely enter an atmosphere while carrying cargo in its net. (If it tries, the net deactivates under the strain of trying to control the mass of air inside the net, and the ship is suddenly surrounded by cargo in uncontrolled freefall. Exactly how high up this happens depends on the atmosphere's density.) A Ghost Galleon can safely land cargo on an Atmosphere 0 world, though it should at least be hovering while its jump net is active so it does not intersect the ground (to the same effect); fortunately, the arm can extend past the net to load or offload cargo. Most Ghost Galleons simply never do business where there is not a highport, but if necessary they can briefly leave their cargo in orbit while they dive down to a watery world or gas giant to refuel.

The net's shape is reconfigurable but optimized for cargo to be behind the ship. The jump drive is designed so the jump bubble's center is usually toward the rear of the ship, the maneuver drive is similarly positioned, and even the bridge faces the rear so the crew can keep their eye on the cargo (often the only thing smaller than a moon within visual range).

The design has some well-known flaws, a result of the cost-saving mentality that went into saving credits by using a jump net instead of a proper hull around the cargo. The sensor pods are isolated from the main crew space, only servicable by going outside the ship. The defensive weaponry is an afterthought (though some say this keeps it plausibly commercial, just like the airlocks opening directly onto the bridge), and there is just barely insufficient power to operate all non-jump-drive systems simultaneously (the owner's manual says not to process fuel and fire the turrets at the same time). The crew commons (galley, laundry, et cetera) are mostly dispersed along a narrow corridor, though the bridge (which only has dedicated stations for the pilot, astrogator, and gunners, not the engineer majority of the crew) is spacious enough that it is often used to supplement the commons. There is only a tiny amount of on-board cargo space. Unclogging the side fuel processors usually requires going through someone's stateroom, while the jump and maneuver drives are designed to be crawled through for maintenance, and reaching the reactors requires crawling through the maneuver drives. Through-deck access from top to bottom is interrupted by the bridge and grappling arm. Some argue that having the captain's quarters exit directly onto the middle of the bridge is another flaw, but most Ghost Galleon captains disagree.

A Ghost Galleon's streamlining leads to the common observation of, upon sighting a Ghost Galleon with a full load of cargo behind it, "That's the most expensive bullet I've ever seen." This and close variations have been heard countless times by any veteran Ghost Galleon crew, so often that a well-known way to begin befriending such a crew is to make jokes likening jumpspace to a gun, or otherwise acknowledge they have heard that line.

Ghost Galleon-class cargo ship, TL 11
Maintenance: 26,046 credits/month
Crew: pilot, astrogator, 5 engineers, 2 gunners
MCr: 312.55
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 5
Streamlined light hull (216 Hull)___________________-600__27_____120
Jump-2 drive for 1,600 ton ship_____________________85____127.5__320
Maneuver-3 drive for 1,600 tons (energy efficient)__48____105.6__360
Fusion power plant__________________________________50____25_____-500
Fuel (J-2 & 4 weeks' operation)_____________________325___0______0
Fuel processors (100 tons/day)______________________5_____0.25___5
Military grade sensors______________________________2_____4.1____2
9 staterooms________________________________________36____4.5____0
Common areas________________________________________9_____0.9____0
Jump net (1,000 tons cargo)_________________________10____3______0
2 triple turrets (sandcaster, 2*beam laser)_________2_____4.5____18
Heavy grappling arm_________________________________6_____3______0
Ship's locker (internal cargo)______________________2_____0______0
Software: maneuver/0________________________________0_____0______0
Software: library___________________________________0_____0______0
Software: evade/2___________________________________0_____2______0
Software: jump control/2____________________________0_____0.2____0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:42 pm

This class of ship allegedly hails from a far-off sector that has never heard of the Third Imperium, and its design sensibilities lend credence to this claim. The engines are in outrigger pods that can swivel, bracketing a cropped flying wing. The dorsal airlocks open directly onto the bridge, which is not firmly separated from what can best be described as a "crew lounge", which contains engineering space for the fuel processors and secondary power plant as well as the power capacitors and machinery for the barbette. The captain's stateroom has noticeably finer trimmings than the other two. Rather than lifts or ladders, inter-deck access is provided by paired ramps, like staircases in a grand ballroom, with point defense lasers packed in above and below the ramps. At least the ramps terminate in bulkhead-grade iris doors, to isolate hull breaches to one deck.

Between the regenerating life support, the repair drones, and the advanced software, there is almost no need for a crew, though not all the ship's software can be run at once. Typically, the virtual crew runs alongside one of anti-hijack, auto-repair, jump control, or intellect as appropriate. In battle, evade and fire control take over for a competent crew, though auto-repair can be swapped for fire control if necessary. Maneuver and library are always running.

Most of a Hummingbird's hull contains a crawlway between the outer armor and the inner walls, not big enough for a human but sized for the ship's repair drones, allowing them access to most places they need to be without needing to venture outside the ship. It is possible to smuggle a negligible amount of goods in this space, but any hull-penetrating scan will detect this. The engine pods are set up to be maintained remotely, with only the drones directly touching the drives under normal circumstances. The drones nest in the primary engineering space, where the relatively well-equipped workshop can provide them with spare parts to deliver and install.

The cargo bay is designed for 25-ton modules, fitted to standards few known ports provide; supposedly, this was a common size for weapons, base modules, and other such things where the original Hummingbird was from. In Charted Space, the bay will usually be filled with cargo, cargo and a single 50-ton module, or a single 100-ton module - just right for an advanced, size-reduced small or medium bay weapon, dedicated batteries charged from the ship's power plant (or extra ammunition storage), and a stateroom for the gunners; another common option is either vehicle garages or hangar bays, with barracks, an armory, and supplies. Aside from this, weapon and maneuver capabilities are comparable to military corvettes, pushing the limits of what can plausibly be claimed as anti-pirate defense.

Between the capabilities and the high price for its tonnage, a Hummingbird feels like a luxurious, alien noble's ship, intended to claim to be a freighter while actually running missions. Few know that is exactly what the first ship of this class was.

Hummingbird-class Courier, TL 15
Maintenance: 32,263 credits/month
crew: pilot, astrogator, engineer, gunner
MCr: 387.16
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 1
Streamlined reinforced hull (176 hull points) w/100 tons modular__-400__45_____80
Radiation shielding_______________________________________________0_____10_____0
Armor 12 (bonded superdense)______________________________________38.4__43.2___0
Jump-3 drive (3*decreased fuel)___________________________________35____78.75__120
Thrust-6 maneuver drive (3*power reduction)_______________________24____72_____60
Fusion reactor____________________________________________________9.5___18_____-190
Fuel (jump-3 + 4 weeks' operation)________________________________103___0______0
Fuel processors (40 tons/day)_____________________________________2_____0.1____2
Modular cargo (modularity cost included in hull cost)_____________100___0______0
Ship's locker (dedicated cargo)___________________________________3_____0______0
Bridge w/holographic controls_____________________________________20____2.5____0
Medical bay w/1 autodoc___________________________________________4_____3______1
Repair drones_____________________________________________________4_____2______1
Biosphere (life support) for 6____________________________________3_____0.6____3
1 high stateroom__________________________________________________6_____0.8____0
2 normal staterooms_______________________________________________8_____1______0
Common areas______________________________________________________7.1___0.71___0
Advanced sensors__________________________________________________6_____5.3____5
Mineral detection suite___________________________________________0_____5______0
Enhanced signal processing________________________________________2_____8______2
Particle barbette (high yield, intense focus)_____________________5_____12_____15
Type II point defense battery (3*size reduction)__________________14____15_____20
Software: library_________________________________________________0_____0______0
Software: maneuver/0______________________________________________0_____0______0
Software: jump control/3__________________________________________0_____0.3____0
Software: evade/3_________________________________________________0_____3______0
Software: fire control/2__________________________________________0_____4______0
Software: auto-repair/1___________________________________________0_____5______0
Software: virtual crew/2__________________________________________0_____10_____0
Software: intellect_______________________________________________0_____1______0
Software: anti-hijack/3___________________________________________0_____10_____0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Nov 16, 2018 7:03 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:45 pm

What the Mint is to minerals, the Icepick is to fuel. Capable of basic survey if the swarm runs low on planetoids to mine, as an outgrowth of its design function of finding ice-bearing bodies and towing them back to the drone swarm. The AI's priorities are: first to to refuel visiting authorized ships as requested, from internal tanks or from local fuel depots (such as Fuelbags), to a limit of readily available fuel and the ships' capacity, while maintaining at least a quarter ton - one week's - fuel reserve for itself; second to refuel drones in its swarm or local fuel depots (not including any within a quarter ton of full capacity), as limited by available fuel and lack of targets, still maintaining at least a quarter ton fuel reserve; third to convert ice (close to the swarm and not part of any ship) to fuel in its fuel tank or local fuel depots; fourth to survey for new Ice-bearing bodies and tow them to the swarm if there is less than a month's worth of ice (and no conveniently accessible water-bearing world or gas giant) near the swarm to convert; and fifth to survey for new planetoids if the local swarm will run out of minerals to mine within a month.

Mints and Icepicks, working together, can maintain deep space fuel and materials depots, or act as in-system mining concerns that route materials and ore to local colonies to provide an income stream. If Icepicks are just making fuel for a swarm, they tend to be about 1 percent of the number of drones. If the main purpose of the swarm is to make fuel for visiting ships (such as a deep space fuel depot), each Icepick can produce 12 tons per day, but planning typically uses 10 (that is, if a Class A starport's minimum of 2,500 tons per day is desired, there will be 250 Icepicks) to give a little backup capacity as well as fuel for the swarm.

An Icepick's refinery includes tiny drones of its own, not intended to scoop up water or fly into gas giants, but to fly short distances to free floating ice, carve off chunks, and bring them back to the Icepick. Replacement blades or sharpening is needed every month, usually provided by the repair drones of the Mints an Icepick partners with. Where there is not much ice but there is at least one water-bearing world or gas giant present, Zips are employed to fetch unrefined fuel. Icepicks do not have enough power to use all their systems at once, but will almost never maneuver while using their laser drill (and when they must, the refinery typically shuts down for the duration, the UNREP system often being used to resupply other drones with fuel or ammunition).

Poets have painted Icepicks as the most motherly type of the mining drones. Extending from this image, Quarter Hammers are the whores that birth new drones, Mints are the hard working maidens, System Defense Bricks are the protective fathers, Zips are the dutiful sons, and Fuelbags are the pets or livestock.

Icepick class fuel/ice harvesting drone, TL 12
Maintenance: 775 credits/month
Crew: none (virtual pilot, virtual gunner, virtual sensor tech)
MCr: 9.2955
Excess power (not counting drill): 0.8
Planetoid hull (5 Hull)________________________________________________-10___0.04____2
Planetoid null space___________________________________________________2_____0_______0
Armor 2 (planetoid hull)_______________________________________________0_____0_______0
Thrust-7 maneuver drive________________________________________________0.7___1.4_____7
Fusion power plant_____________________________________________________1_____1_______-15
Fuel (8 weeks' operation & transfer to other ships)____________________2_____0.1_____0
Improved sensors_______________________________________________________3_____4.3_____4
Fixed mount firmpoint laser drill (very high yield, energy efficient)__0_____0.325___2.25
Tow cable______________________________________________________________0.1___0.0005__0
UNREP system (transfer 4 tons of fuel/hour)____________________________0.2___0.1_____0.2
Fuel refinery (produces 1 ton/2 hours)_________________________________1_____1_______1
Software: maneuver/0___________________________________________________0_____0_______0
Software: virtual crew/0_______________________________________________0_____1_______0

(See Fuelbag for deckplans.)
Last edited by WingedCat on Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:03 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:46 pm

A TL 15 refit of a TL 12 Free Trader hull, Jewel Wasps are designed to prey on lone small ships. Indistinguishable from a Free Trader at long range when its ion cannon ports are covered (unless it opens up its maneuver drive beyond 1 G, but even 2 G thrust is a common Free Trader modification), a Jewel Wasp pretends to be just another merchant until there is no one but its prey to see. Then it doggedly pursues its victim, disables it once within ion cannon range, pulls up adjacent, locks onto the crew with its neural activity sensors, and fires the meson accelerator hidden within at each target until there is no more crew to resist. Once its target is thus pacified, it finally docks and transfers astromech droids reprogrammed with Engineer (Jump) and Intrusion software, which take over the ship and pilot it away.

Jewel Wasps are favored by less honorable pirates and raiders, and see much use among vargr corsairs. It takes a certain homocidal mindset to execute a helpless crew, which is easier in like-minded company. This has been cited as the main reason for high rates of double occupancy, carrying a full 4 crew where a more mercantile ship of this nature might employ one person as pilot/astrogator and a second as engineer/gunner. The only thing saving this class from having "shoot on sight" orders issued against it is that such orders would inevitably lead to the misidentifcation and destruction of countless innocent turretless Free Traders. Even other pirates are known to destroy these ships upon positive identification, if only because repeated execution of non-pirate crews quickly attracts pirate hunters and bounties.

As they pretend to be merchants, Jewel Wasps are named and colored to fit in with local trends. Allegedly, the original Jewel Wasp was constructed when bright, gem-like colorations were in vogue locally, and naming it after a predator that took control of its prey was irony on the vargr ship designer's part. Jewel Wasps are most often seen in vargr hands, though the ability to kill meat eaters without having to smell them attracts certain militant k'kree who can adjust to cramped - for k'kree - conditions. (K'kree Jewel Wasps have no walls between the bridge, staterooms, commons, and cargo, and remove the bridge's rear workstations and equipment. They are crewed by a "military family" of 2 males, sometimes adding a third k'kree - a male servant or a female - acting as a steward.)

Jewel Wasp-class corsair, TL 15
Maintenance: 14,058 credits/month
crew: pilot, astrogator, engineer, gunner
MCr: 168.7
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 3
Streamlined hull (80 hull points)_____________-200__12____40
Armor 2 (crystaliron)_________________________5_____1.2___0
Jump-1 drive (3*reduced fuel)_________________10____22.5__20
Thrust-2 maneuver drive (3*energy efficient)__4_____12____10
Fusion reactor________________________________5_____10____-100
Fuel (jump-1 + 4 weeks' operation)____________18____0_____0
Fuel processors (20 tons/day)_________________1_____0.05__1
Fuel scoop (from streamlining)________________0_____0_____0
Bridge w/holographic controls_________________10____1.25__0
Internal (fixed) mount meson accelerator______60____20.1__0
2 small ion cannon bays (3*size reduced)______70____45____40
2 staterooms__________________________________8_____1_____0
Common area___________________________________2_____0.2___0
Advanced sensors______________________________5_____5.3___6
Software: library_____________________________0_____0_____0
Software: maneuver/0__________________________0_____0_____0
Software: jump control/1______________________0_____0.1___0
Software: advanced fire control/3_____________0_____18____0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:17 am

Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:47 pm

Keyholes are named for an ancient Terran observation satellite class, the first examples dating back to a few years prior to their first manned orbital spaceflight. The chain of provenance to modern Keyholes is disputed, but the marketing claims continue. It is known that there were lower tech examples during the Interstellar Wars, and the design (a spherical main observatory, essentally an airlock left open to vacuum when in use with 4 wedge-shaped work areas - one for a group operating the spinal-mount-like main telescope and anything coaxially mounted with it, two for groups operating smaller instruments housed within the observatory sphere, and one for a group operating the ship's sensors - separated by gaps for the instruments to traverse through, all surrounded by a ring with the rest of the ship's systems) has not changed much even with the introduction of advanced technology. Deck plans that divide the main observatory into traditional decks are available, but the only decks of note are the two crew decks: Driveside (deck 5) with most of the ship's systems, and Sleepside (deck 6) with the staterooms. Gravity is along a plane between the two crew decks; one can walk through "grav holes" between the decks on a gravity plane that curves over the edge. While the airlocks, observatory, bridge, and armory are accessible through iris valves in bulkheads, the rest of the crew decks are fairly open; in particular, most of the biosphere takes the form of quickly-fruiting, readily-harvestable plants (output adjustable based on crew preferences) mixed in with the crew commons that wind through the staterooms, poking up behind some of the grav holes for access on Driveside as well.

Modern Keyholes are useful anywhere where long-term thorough system-wide or wider survey is desired. This can be a recently or soon-to-be colonized system (especially where a thorough catalogue of the asteroid belts is desired for later mining), a secure system (where two Keyholes will typically be deployed in the orbit of an outer gas giant, for redundancy and to give a long baseline for a synthetic aperture, at 120 degrees before and after so as to let the gas giant sweep debris away from the Keyholes into its L4 and L5 points, monitoring primarily in-system traffic), a system to be put under observation (such as a suspected pirates' nest, which gets the same two-Keyhole deployment), or one parsec in a long line (such as Project Longbow, though even after Longbow's revelation it was still classified whether any Keyholes had taken part, leading to speculation that some had and were still on station). They are designed to see without being seen; their greatest visibility comes every 12 weeks, when resupply ships come by for crew rotation, and even then it is preferred their resuppliers come with stealth jump to minimize the chance of detection (Keyholes operate well beyond 100 diameters of any nearby gravity wells, so jumps can be made straight to their positions). Keyholes are unarmed, their jump engines being more about defense than transport: if attacked, standard practice is to jump to the safest spot within a parsec (usually in orbit around a world expected to be friendly).

Plotting and re-plotting these jumps gives the astrogator something to do; on most 12 week rotations, the pilot and astrogator are otherwise utterly bored, though it is common for one or both to pick up steward skills. (It is not unknown for the officers to pick up piloting and astrogation among them, and run a rotation without dedicated pilots or astrogators, specifically to avoid the problems that bored hands can cause. Similar thinking is why modern Keyholes did away with the medic position once autodocs became available.) Most of the crew is divided into 3 shifts of 1 officer (the captain, first officer, or second officer), 2 marines, and 20 scientists each. The engineers and mechanic work whenever needed, though good engineers will try to arrange their daily duties to be completable within a shift, only leaving undone those things able to wait until the next day.

Keyholes, despite their academic crew bias (and mild luxury in the form of single occupancy staterooms, with attendant commons space), are primarily military assets. Their high price tag means the only non-government owners are megacorps, and even they use few of these. Sabotage, or merely hostile access of data, are well known threats, but a minimal complement of marines keeps these at bay. Many rotations report the marines more often resolving quarrels between the scientists, and it has become common to value conflict resolution above gunnery skills in marines being considered for a Keyhole rotation, though Imperial laws require even these marines to be able to shoot straight (if only so they will not accidentally pierce an airlock in an emergency). Typically only the marines and officers will be armed, and then only during their shifts (or if boarding actions seem imminent). That the bulk of the crew is people in uniform paid to stargaze all day is inescapable, and is often blamed for perceptions of lax discipline, even if the scientists spend most of their time on shift looking for and at planets, comets, and ships.

(Deckplan is for the TL 13 version, but does not differ much from the TL 10 version.)

Keyhole-class observatory ship, TL 13
Maintenance: 158,217 credits/month
Crew: pilot, astrogator, 2 engineers, mechanic, 60 scientists, 6 marines, 3 officers
MCr: 1898.6
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 0.5
Sphere light hull (648 Hull)_______________-1800__54_____360
Radiation shielding________________________0______45_____0
Jump-1 drive (reduced fuel, stealth jump)__50_____112.5__180
Thrust-1 maneuver drive (3*reduced power)__18_____54_____135
Fusion power plant_________________________30.5___30.5___-457.5
Fuel (J-1 & 12 weeks' operation)___________183____0______0
Computer Core/40___________________________0______45_____0
Large advanced observatory_________________1000___1250___0
Improved sensors w/extended arrays_________9______12.9___12
Enhanced signal processing_________________2______8______2
74 staterooms______________________________296____37_____0
Common areas_______________________________74_____7.4____0
Medical bay w/5 autodocs___________________4______2.5____1
Biosphere (for 74 people)__________________37_____7.4____37
Software: maneuver/0_______________________0______0______0
Software: library__________________________0______0______0
Software: jump control/1___________________0______0______0
Software: research assist/3________________0______5______0
Software: advanced Science (cosmology)_____0______30_____0
Software: planetology/3____________________0______7______0

Keyhole-class observatory ship, TL 10
Maintenance: 83,422 credits/month
Crew: pilot, astrogator, 3 engineers, mechanic, 60 scientists, 6 marines, medic, 3 officers
MCr: 1001.06
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 4
System___________________________________tons___MC r___power
Sphere light hull (648 Hull)_____________-1800__54____360
Radiation shielding______________________0______45____0
Stealth__________________________________0______18 0___0
Jump-1 drive (reduced fuel)______________50_____82.5__180
Thrust-1 maneuver drive (reduced power)__18_____39.6__135
Fusion power plant_______________________54_____27____-540
Fuel (J-1 & 12 weeks' operation)_________189____0_____0
Large standard observatory_______________1000___500___0
Military grade sensors___________________2______4.1___2
76 staterooms____________________________304____38____0
Common areas_____________________________76_____7.6___0
Medical bay______________________________4______2_____1
Workshop_________________________________6______0. 9___0
Armory___________________________________2______0. 5___0
Biosphere (for 76 people)________________38_____7.6___38
Software: maneuver/0_____________________0______0_____0
Software: library________________________0______0_____0
Software: jump control/1_________________0______0.1___0
Software: research assist/1______________0______2_____0
Software: planetology/1__________________0______1_____0

Last edited by WingedCat on Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:53 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:17 am

Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:48 pm

The Legionary is classified as a corvette because planners of the Imperial Navy do not have a code for "combat engineering in space".

Named after a romanticized version of the Roman footsoldiers of ancient Terra, the Legionary is a ship of minor polities (which can not afford more specialized ships) that travels where needed, projecting both military and economic force. On the commercial side it prospects planetoids, builds them into drones to make material and fuel caches, and generally introduces off-world industry to systems that lack it. When it must fight, its primary role is to prepare the battlefield where possible (such as by clearing or collecting debris to prevent or allow ambushes, or building system defense drones if given some weeks' lead time), then point defense when the battle eventually comes.

In combat, Legionaries are best used at a distance, and have the thrust to stay there against most warships. while they are individually only a threat to unarmed ships, they are dangerous in swarms, much like oversized fighters that can attack from a very long range. A legion of Legionaries, were someone to assemble 1,000 such ships, would be more than a threat to any capital ship, especially one caught without its escorts. The primary and backup computers are taxed to the limit during combat, the primary running fire control while the backup runs either evade if the Legionary is being shot at, point defense if it is not, or if the battle seems lost, jump control.

The construction hangar can depressurize and open its ceiling, to deploy drones or receive materials (such as a planetoid to convert into a drone). When no construction is underway, it can carry an additional 10 tons of raw materials (with which to build) or general cargo. While the workstations in the turret and bridge can participate in construction, the workstation just in front of the construction hangar's upper level is specialized for this role, with holographic models of the hangar's contents intended to be interacted with, and transparent panels providing an unobstructed view of the top half of the work area (so long as no one is standing in the interdeck access between the workstation and the panels). A Legionary can construct ships and other objects up to 10 tons, to a maximum TL 12. (It is possible to refit the construction hangar to be able to construct higher TL ships. This costs 5 MCr, takes 1 day, and must be done at a shipyard of at least the desired TL, or is automatic and free up to the shipyard's TL if the Legionary was originally constructed at a high TL shipyard.)

Construction requires raw materials of tonnage equal to the object being built (a hollowed-out planetoid counts as raw materials for a planetoid or buffered planetoid ship for this purpose, but only to a maximum of the unusable space from the resulting hull), and takes 1 day per MCr (assuming two to four crew participate; 1.5 days per MCr if one crew does all the work while the rest slack off, train, or monitor sensors for unwanted visitors). Crew in a hurry can make Difficult checks (maximum one per participant, up to four) against applicable Electronics or Engineering specialties, reducing the time by 10% per average success or 20% per exceptional success - and increasing by 10% or 20% on an average or exceptional failure - but everyone rolling must choose a different relevant specialty: the power plant can only be built so much faster, while J-drive does not help with a ship that has no such drive. When building an unmanned drone ship such as a Mint, Electronics (remote ops) applies but Engineering (life support) does not; when building a manned small ship such as a light fighter, the opposite is true.

The ship class is designed to be retrofitted into spare Scout or Seeker hulls, preferably cheap hulks if those are available, although some Legionaries are built in this configuration from scratch. Like other ships with this hull configuration, the landing pads are large enough that they dig into the crew space; the Legionary takes advantage of this by allowing passage through the rear landing pads to bypass the construction hangar when it is in use, though this is only recommended while in flight with the gears up, as this space is exposed to the outside atmosphere (or vacuum) while the gears are down. Unlike most ships of this class, the primary entrance is in the rear, specifically through an oversized airlock on the bottom deck that is also the primary cargo storage (in case the Legionary must haul dangerous and/or secret cargo, that is best handled by the crew as minimally as possible). Despite its potential military role, a Legionary's expected crew is on strictly civilian lines, and it is common for there to be a crew of just two: one pilot/astrogator and one engineer/gunner. Double occupancy can accommodate the maximum crew of four.

Legionary-class construction/defense ship, TL 12
Maintenance: 7,653 credits/month
crew: pilot, astrogator, engineer, gunner
MCr: 91.83
Excess power (not including J-drive): 4
Streamlined hull (40 hull points)____________________-100__6______20
Armor 4 (crystaliron)________________________________5_____1.2____0
Budget jump-2 drive (energy inefficient)_____________10____11.25__26
Budget thrust-6 maneuver drive (energy inefficient)__6_____9______78
Fusion reactor_______________________________________8_____8______-120
Fuel (jump-2 + 4 weeks' operation)___________________21____0______0
Fuel processors (20 tons/day)________________________1_____0.05___1
Fuel scoop (from streamlining)_______________________0_____0______0
Bridge w/holographic controls________________________10____0.625__0
2 staterooms_________________________________________8_____1______0
Common area__________________________________________2_____0.2____0
Improved sensors_____________________________________3_____4.3____4
Mineral detection suite______________________________0_____5______0
Construction deck____________________________________20____10_____20
Tow cable____________________________________________1_____0.005__0
Pulse laser triple turret (high yield, long range)___1_____6______13
Software: library____________________________________0_____0______0
Software: maneuver/0_________________________________0_____0______0
Software: jump control/2_____________________________0_____0.2____0
Software: evade/2____________________________________0_____2______0
Software: point defense/2____________________________0_____12_____0
Software: fire control/4_____________________________0_____8______0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:49 pm

Mints are simple automated mining drones. Given a large enough surveyed planetoid, a Mint produces an average of 18 tons of ore per day, of which it refines 1 ton into a half of raw materials suitable for constructing more drones (or other structures, such as fuel depots). They are often deployed in swarms, but even one is enough to get depot construction started. It is capable of repairing itself and other drones in its swarm, so long as it has design files. Fully half of a Mint is its refinery; sometimes they just refine what they have mined for long stretches, to enable repairs or construction.

The claw-equipped tow cable is most often used as a frog-like tongue, launched at a small chunk of ore the laser drill has blasted free, latching on, retracting, and depositing the nugget in the smelter, to be processed or just to be quickly cleaned of impurities. Actually towing large bodies is usually reserved for sending fused-together caches of raw ore or materials into an unpowered transfer orbit near (but never on a direct intercept course with) a local inhabited planet, which will have boats capable of intercepting and deorbiting the bounty. Alternately, some Mints arrange their output for direct pickup by merchant ships who either broadcast a pre-approved identifier to, or arrange payment via, the swarm's System Defense Bricks. Payment is often at a discount given the volume of output and the distance from an inhabited world, though regular discounts on millions of tons of ore and raw materials draws the concern - sometimes expressed as legal or marketing pressure, sometimes as pirates - of competing mining interests.

Mint class mining drone, TL 12
Maintenance: 997 credits/month
Crew: none (virtual pilot, virtual gunner)
MCr: 11.9655
Excess power: 0.25
Planetoid hull (5 Hull)_________________________________________________-10__0.04____2
Planetoid null space____________________________________________________2____0_______0
Armor 2 (planetoid hull)________________________________________________0____0_______0
Thrust-1 maneuver drive_________________________________________________0.1__0.2_____1
Fusion power plant______________________________________________________0.7__0.7_____-10.5
Fuel (4 weeks' operation)_______________________________________________1____0_______0
Basic sensors___________________________________________________________0____0_______0
Fixed mount firmpoint laser drill (very high yield, energy efficient)___0____0.375___2.25
Repair drones___________________________________________________________1____0.2_____0
Tow cable_______________________________________________________________0.1__0.0005__0
Smelter (consumes 1 ton ore, produces 0.5 tons raw materials, per day)__5____2.5_____5
Software: maneuver/0____________________________________________________0____0_______0
Software: auto-repair/1_________________________________________________0____5_______0
Software: virtual crew/0________________________________________________0____1_______0

(See Fuelbag for deckplans.)
Last edited by WingedCat on Tue Jan 01, 2019 10:44 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:53 pm

The Nisina is easily recognized as an escort carrier by its small size and tubular shape, enclosing what amounts to a spinal-mounted fighter launch bay running the length of the ship. Variations of the design date back to the Interstellar Wars; the Nisina class was designed to be sold by the Third Imperium to minor polities, though it is also extensively manufactured in the Vargr Extents. The primary job of a Nisina is to deploy its fighters to guard against incoming missiles, though it also does well screening enemy fighters and other smallcraft, and even small ships (anything without barbettes). This purpose extends to the class name, which is short for "Nisinasha"; ships of this class are named for mainworlds that are satellites, and other notable moons, to reflect the metaphor that the ship gains importance from that which it is near (the fleets it protects).

The sled-shaped fighters (built and named for the Nisina class) are made for speed first, fast enough to intercept any missile by combining the maneuver and reaction drives to achieve 16 Gs of thrust. Their shape also helps them slot into docking spaces aboard the carrier. They carry enough fuel to operate the reaction drives for half an hour, plus the rest of the craft for up 1.4 days in case the carrier is destroyed (though only enough life support for 1 day; the standard plan in this event is to land somewhere with air, and wait for rescue to jump in). Their weakness is barbettes: they are designed to hunt and destroy missiles, they carry enough armor to shrug off most beam and pulse lasers, and they are hard to hit with bay or spinal weapons, but they are easily destroyed by one good hit from a barbette-grade weapon. The solution is to hang back when facing foes so equipped, staying out of their range and frustrating their missile volleys while the fighters' allies send their own volleys in response. As one Nisina officer once famously put it, "Missile warfare is just so unfair when you're invulnerable and they're not."

A Nisina's weapons build on that philosophy: a mix of particle barbettes to smite enemy smallcraft and missile launchers to provide a small return volley. But these are almost an afterthought, like everything else on a Nisina that does not directly relate to the fighters, run via software to pick off targets designated by the bridge crew. The missile barbettes in particular flank access to the captain's stateroom, the depleted ammunition stores providing a visible reminder that, while the ship carries a few spares just in case, a Nisina is intended to resupply after any significant action.

The launch bay amounts to one giant airlock, with oversized iris hatches at either end, and internal gravitics optimized to expel fighters in rapid succession. Two double-berths line the sides on each deck the bay occupies, for a total of 8 fighter berths, with another berth and a hangar (which fighters rotate into for repairs and maintenance) in pits with covers that slide open when their contents are raised into the launch tube. This setup does not allow for fast recovery of individual fighters, since a fighter coming in too fast will usually just run right through and have to turn around, but does allow all fighters to dock at once. When leaving in a hurry, standard procedure is to warm up the jump engines as the fighters dock, so the ship can transition to jumpspace the moment all fighters are inside and the launch bay iris valves close, before the fighters have finished nestling in their berths. All but the captain's stateroom provide quick access to one of the double-berths, so that most of the pilots can roll out of bed and be in their fighters in a minute or two in an emergency, launching while the pilots of the two fighters on the bottom reach theirs (this scenario is standard drill on most Nisinas). Being a large and mostly empty central cavity, the double-berths and launch bay are also used as throughways, especially when the bay is sealed and pressurized, though one can get to most parts of the ship without passing through this area.

Nisina-class escort carrier, TL 12
Maintenance: 57,052 credits/month
Crew: captain, 3 pilots, astrogator, 2 engineers, mechanic, 10 fighter pilots, officer, (6 virtual gunners)
MCr: 684.625
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 8
Close structure reinforced hull (290 hull points)__-600___40.5___120
Armor 1 (crystaliron)______________________________7.5____2.025__0
Jump-2 drive (reduced fuel)________________________35_____57.75__120
Thrust-5 maneuver drive (energy efficient)_________30_____66_____225
Fusion reactor_____________________________________35_____35_____-525
(jump-2 + 4 weeks' operation + 10 total extra hours for fighter reaction drive)
Launch tube for 10 ton craft_______________________100____50_____100
1 full hangar for 10 ton craft_____________________20_____4______0
9 docking spaces for 10 ton craft__________________99_____24.75__0
4 particle barbettes (high yield)__________________20_____35.2___60
2 missile barbettes (3*size reduced)_______________7______12_____0
ammunition storage: 6 extra missiles_______________0.5____0______0
10 point defense fighters__________________________0______248.1__0
19 staterooms______________________________________76_____9.5____0
Common areas_______________________________________19_____1.9____0
Improved sensors with extended arrays______________9______12.9___12
Computer core/50___________________________________0______60_____0
Software: library__________________________________0______0______0
Software: maneuver/0_______________________________0______0______0
Software: jump control/2 (free w/computer core)____0______0______0
Software: evade/2__________________________________0______2______0
Software: virtual gunner/1_________________________0______5______0
Software: advanced fire control/2__________________0______15_____0

Point defense fighter, TL 12
Maintenance: 2,068 credits/month
Crew: pilot
MCr: 24.81
Excess power: 0.25
Streamlined hull (4 hull points)____________________________-10___0.6___2
Armor 12 (crystaliron)______________________________________1.5___0.36__0
Thrust-7 maneuver drive_____________________________________0.7___1.4___7
Thrust-9 reaction drive (3*fuel efficient)__________________1.8___0.54__0
Fusion reactor______________________________________________1_____1_____-15
(1.4 days' operation + 30 minutes reaction drive operation)
Single turret firmpoint pulse laser (accurate, high yield)__1_____1.8___3.75
Military grade sensors______________________________________2_____4.1___2
Software: library___________________________________________0_____0_____0
Software: maneuver/0________________________________________0_____0_____0
Software: fire control/1____________________________________0_____2_____0
Software: point defense/1___________________________________0_____8_____0

Last edited by WingedCat on Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:40 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:54 pm

While examples similar to this design have been around for ages, this particular design originated with the rebellion near the end of the Sindalian Empire. Refining the art of orbital bombardment to brutal simplicity, an Ortillerist has enough fuel for two 1-sector jumps, allowing it to jump in (undetected thanks to its advanced jump drive), confirm planetary coordinates relative to a known target location, unload its ortillery torpedoes, then jump out within minutes. Astrogation for the jump out will typically be partially done before breakout on the jump in, and completed while the torpedoes are firing, timed with charging the jump engines so the ship jumps as soon as the last torpedo volley is far enough away.

Although the vagaries of jump drive make it difficult to jump in right over a specific planetary location, this stealth operation gives the torpedoes time to descend unseen. If they are spotted well before reaching the target, alert defenders may have time to thwart the volley with electronic warfare and/or point defenses. The Ortillerist will be long since gone by the time this happens, so routine operations involve having a scout - usually passing as a harmless merchant - to report on the results of bombardment. Or an invader can gamble on the chaos such a bombardment may have caused, especially if a fleet of Ortillerists jumped and attacked in sync.

Conditions aboard an Ortillerist are best described as "austere". The boxy, cheaply made vehicle, consisting of ship systems wrapped around a large torpedo bay and fuel compartments, fulfills the minimums necessary for operation and little more, not even boasting any armor. It was never meant for in-atmosphere operations or combat, and when traveling across many parsecs before or after an operation, it will typically be carried by a tender. Logs of two Ortillerists and their Ghost Galleon tender which participated in the rebellion against the Sindalian Empire, rotating Ortillerist crews for each two-week strike mission over a period of several months, are how most people encounter this ship class thanks to the Museum of Sindal's preservation efforts - and because no major polity operates ships of this class.

The Aslan view it as useful mainly for unannounced attacks on a planetary scale, and thus only in unlimited open or total wars which they seek to avoid, over and above the fact that an Ortillerist is all about attacking land. While the Solomani appreciate the principle, the worlds they might use an Ortillerist against are mostly either built up enough that they would consistently detect the torpedoes in time to stop them, or with little enough infrastructure that space superiority is easy to achieve, negating the need for a dedicated orbital bombardment ship. The kind of leaders who acquire and use Ortillerists are not the kind of Vargr who attract enough followers to do so. The Zhodani and Hivers simply do not conduct orbital bombardment frequently enough to find Ortillerists useful. While the K'Kree use similar ships, the cramped living conditions aboard an Ortillerist mean they would barely survive a single jump aboard, let alone the return jump, and would likely not be in any condition to attack after that first jump. Finally and most severely, the Third Imperium has issued shoot-on-sight orders regarding the Ortillerist class, regarding mere possession within its borders as evidence of intent to violate Imperial law.

Ortillerist-class torpedo ship, TL 12
Maintenance: 12,825 credits/month
Crew: pilot, astrogator, gunner
MCr: 153.9
Excess power (not counting J-drive): 8.5
System_____________________________________tons__M Cr_____power
Close structure light hull (198 hull)______-500__16.875__100
Jump-1 drive (reduced fuel, stealth jump)__17.5__39.375__50
Thrust-1 maneuver drive (3*reduced power)__5_____15______12.5
Fusion power plant_________________________10____10______-150
Fuel (J-1 * 2 & 4 weeks' operation)________96____0_______0
Small bridge_______________________________10____1.25____0
Improved sensors___________________________3_____4.3_____4
2 staterooms_______________________________8_____1_______0
Large torpedo bay (3*size reduced)_________350___45______25
Software: maneuver/0_______________________0_____0_______0
Software: library__________________________0_____0_______0
Software: launch solution/3________________0_____16______0
Software: evade/2__________________________0_____2_______0
Software: jump control/1___________________0_____0.1_____0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:55 pm

Because sometimes, you just need stuff hauled.

The Planetoid Hauler is representative of a typical cargo-moving boat among TL 9 civilizations that have just developed gravitic engines. This particular design is widely known and has some fame among historians: it was created on Terra shortly before its development of jump drive, then the design files were distributed with subsequent colonization efforts with the intent to help bootstrap the new colony with asteroid resources, resulting in there being at least one Planetoid Hauler manufactured somewhere in Charted Space every decade since through at least 1239, when a history was published documenting this and the many different traditions that had sprung up around the ancient design.

The ship can move up to 10,500 tons at a time at 1 G, or 45,000 tons at 1/4 G, in addition to its own mass plus a 10 ton safety margin (totals of 11,500 and 46,000 tons, respectively, including boat and margin). Almost half of its mass is devoted to a "maneuver net" consisting of articulated grav-plated segmented tendrils, which extend up to 200 meters (rarely in a straight line, instead usually winding around the cargo) to capture and direct volumes much larger than the ship, and coil up inside the ship when not in use. This leads to the common nickname "Hectopus", or "hundred tentacle", though there are actually 108. While these tendrils, along with the reactor and the maneuver drive, have passageways for access, maintenance and operation is usually done from the windowless bridge, divided into office-like cubicles to ease the stress of being sealed in a boat for weeks at a time. (Further, the crew commons are notably spacious compared to most higher TL designs, which come from civilizations more experience with space travel. This relative luxury has been cited as a factor in why the Planetoid Hauler design has endured for so long.) The primary views accessible from the bridge are from cameras on each tendril, to help pilots stay aware of any shifts in the load the ship is carrying, since accidentally running into cargo far more massive than the ship is the most immediate danger when an inept pilot is at the helm.

As its name implies, a Planetoid Hauler is most often used for hauling asteroids and planetoids, typically to a central processing location. A common mission is to travel to an asteroid belt or trojan cluster, grab rocks (previously surveyed as having valuable ores) up 45,000 tons, then bring them back (at 1/4 G, this takes twice as long as the outbound leg). For bodies over 45,000 tons, a fleet of Planetoid Haulers and one or more boats with laser drills (to split the rock) will be dispatched.

Even trojan clusters in the orbits of the furthest gas giant rarely take more than 1 week out and 2 weeks back to gather from. On these missions, typically the longest single deployments Planetoid Haulers ever see, the 4 week fuel supply gives a 1 week safety margin. In some cultures, this has lead to a 4 week minimum fuel supply on all ship designs, even thousands of years and multiple TLs later (thanks to the longevity of standards, once established).

Planetoid Hauler-class cargo ship, TL 9
Maintenance: 29,759 credits/month
Crew: pilot, 7 engineers
MCr: 357.11
Excess power: 2
Planetoid hull (396 Hull)_____________________-990__3.96__198
Planetoid null space__________________________198___0_____0
Armor 2 (free w/planetoid hull)_______________0_____0_____0
Thrust-1 maneuver drive for 11,500 tons_______115___230___1150
Fusion power plant____________________________135___67.5__-1350
Fuel (4 weeks' operation)_____________________14____0_____0
Basic sensors_________________________________0_____0_____0
8 staterooms__________________________________32____4_____0
Common areas__________________________________16____1.6___0
Maneuver net (TL 8 jump net) for 45,000 tons__450___45____0
Ship's locker (internal cargo)________________10____0_____0
Software: maneuver/0__________________________0_____0_____0
Software: library_____________________________0_____0_____0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:32 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:56 pm

As the name implies, Quarter Hammers are intended to work in teams of 4. A full team can build 10 ton drones in concert, using their arms to nudge raw materials into a common space, docking to enclose the space inside their construction bays, latching on to one another with the larger grippers of their grappling arms to stay in place while they build, then releasing to let the new drone fly away before they begin again. Quarter Hammers are individually less than graceful, with off-center maneuver drives, and will commonly link up when traveling long distances to let their relative torques cancel each other out.

While in theory this is the key component to let a swarm of drones assemble an exponentially growing number of themselves (with sufficient supply, four Quarter Hammers can build another four in about a month; a typical schedule when building up a swarm is to do that for a month, build 3 Mints over a month to keep up said supply, and a third month building Icepicks or other drones to support), in practice every time this could get started, events overtake the swarm to stop it. Sometimes what stops the expansion is pressure from nearby megacorporations, who do not mind a new supplier of raw materials per se, but do object when it starts becoming a potential rival or supplying enough to disrupt sector-wide markets. In the Virus era, all infected Quarter Hammers were destroyed within ten years of infection - primarily by other infected ships that saw no value in an unarmed drone (not creative enough to realize the potential); secondarily by those wishing to purge the Virus from their area, who saw the threat and thus treated Quarter Hammers as priority targets. And then there is the fact that, aside from the Virus, few have been willing to turn this design over to full self-replication indefinitely (stretches of a few years have been tried, to let a starting set of drones grow to thousands or a few million), at least where there was enough of a planetoid belt to result in a truly massive swarm.

The Vlani tell a tale of one system - with different names, years, and coordinates so the historical record is disputed (unless this simply happened multiple times, with different sectors not finding out until much later), but always a system where only the asteroid belt was inhabited - that announced plans to improve itself by this means, over the objections of the Ziru Sirka, which was by then too weak to stop said plans. Reports over the first four years showed everything going to theoretical plan, after which they diverted half the production to domestic goods, slowing the swarm doubling time from three months to six. Things continued to go as predicted for the next four years, at which point more production was diverted to make habitats, further slowing the doubling time to a year. Then around year 15 or 16 of the experiment, ships stopped coming back from the system, earning it a yellow zone. A recontact expedition at year 20 likewise failed to return, which upgraded the system's zone to red. Finally at year 50 an armed naval expedition went in, only to find the asteroid belt completely missing. The system has since been recolonized with a proper mainworld selected, but in the thousands of years since no one has found a trace of the earlier inhabitants. Whether this tale is true or not, the Third Imperium has a law dating from the Ziru Sirka, suspended during the Rule of Man but reenacted by the Sylean Federation and lasting until the Virus spurred more restrictive measures, forbidding unmanned drone swarms with more than 100,000 tons simultaneous manufacturing capacity (40,000 Quarter Hammers, which takes 3-4 years to reach when starting with 4 Quarter Hammers), though there are loopholes about what constitutes "one swarm".

That said, self-replication is the traditional means of expanding a new swarm (typically consisting of 2 Mints, 1 Icepick, and 4 Quarter Hammers, built in that order by a Legionary or similar construction ship, mostly on site but the ship will arrive with the first Mint done). The ratio of Quarter Hammers to other drones varies depending on its stage. During full self-replication 40 percent Quarter Hammers, 30 percent Mints, 10 percent Icepicks, and 20 percent total System Defense Bricks, Fuelbags, and Zips is typical. A mature swarm will traditionally see 10 percent Quarter Hammers, 5 percent System Defense Bricks, and the rest depending on the swarm's function: a jump bridge will be mostly Icepicks and Fuelbags (and rarely grow beyond a few hundred drones total), while a swarm supplementing a world's economy will be mainly Mints and Zips.

Quarter Hammer class construction drone, TL 12
Maintenance: 729 credits/month
Crew: none (virtual pilot)
MCr: 8.7595
Excess power: 0.5
Dispersed structure light hull (4 Hull)______________-10___0.1875__2
Connector systems (breakaway hull)___________________0.2___0.4_____0
Budget thrust-1 maneuver drive (energy inefficient)__0.1___0.15____1.3
Fusion power plant___________________________________0.5___0.5_____-7.5
Fuel (8 weeks' operation)____________________________2_____0_______0
Basic sensors________________________________________0_____0_______0
Construction deck____________________________________5_____2.5_____5
Grappling arm________________________________________2_____1_______0
Software: intellect__________________________________0_____1_______0
Software: expert(engineer(power))/2__________________0_____0.01____0
Software: expert(mechanic)/2_________________________0_____0.01____0
Software: agent/1____________________________________0_____0.002___0
Software: virtual crew/0_____________________________0_____1_______0

(See Fuelbag for deckplans. The Quarter Hammer is technically one portion of a 40 ton ship with a breakaway hull, thus the connector systems.)
Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:22 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:57 pm

One of the cheapest boats with a maneuver drive, the runabout is among the first products of a TL 9 civilization that is just beginning to master gravitics. It is able to haul 6 tons of cargo anywhere on a planet in several minutes, to orbiting moons or space stations in hours, or (by using some of the cargo capacity for extra life support) other worlds in the same system in only a few days, revolutionarily fast transit times compared to what was possible before. Most worlds that independently developed gravitics have a museum somewhere displaying an old runabout, sometimes maintained in full working order by hobbyists. In some places, the cycle of history has pulled runabouts from active duty to museums, back to active duty with the Long Night, then back to museums when the worlds recovered; these runabouts are venerated by the locals. Poor and low population worlds with some but not much need for orbital transport often employ these; in extreme cases, when there is need to move less than a hundred tons of cargo per day even at the busiest, a single runabout serves the entire world's needs.

The loading belt - a reconfigurable series of conveyors underneath the cargo - can extend a ramp outside to offload onto waiting vehicles, or to simply place containers on the ground. The ramp has a limited ability to twist in all 3 axis, as well as small, simple manipulators at the end (which is always in the pilot's line of sight while extended), allowing it to pick up cargo as well. The runabout does not need to land while dropping off or retrieving cargo, but it has limited maneuvering power and turns off long range sensors while the loading belt is engaged.

The cockpit is a simple affair, with a hinged canopy in front of the pilot that swings up to allow entry and egress, and hosts a series of heads up displays in flight. If the chair is pushed back, there is barely enough room to stand and stretch, to avoid cramping up during long flights. Ladder rungs extend from the hull when the landing gear is deployed, though any docking berth a runabout calls home will have stairs or a catwalk leading up to the cockpit.

Being a flattened sphere (to save on construction costs), the runabout is harder to control in atmosphere than its higher TL cousins such as the gig. Being cheap, it is sometimes used as a training boat for young sophonts. This inevitably leads to it sometimes being in the hands of young, inebriated sophonts looking for cheap thrills, unaware that they are struggling to fly straight. For some reason, the concept of runabout jousting - running into things with the loading belt extended - keeps being reinvented, with the predictable consequences of ramming a light hull vehicle into things. There is general agreement that, while a runabout is not made for sports, runabout fencing with electronic tip-contact scoring will at least let the pilot survive longer to enjoy the experience.

Runabout-class small transport, TL 9
Maintenance: 58 credits/month
crew: pilot
MCr: 0.693
Excess power (not including loading belt): 0.7
Sphere light hull (4 Hull)___________________________-10___0.3____2
Budget thrust-1 maneuver drive (energy inefficient)__0.1___0.15___1.3
Fusion reactor_______________________________________0.4___0.2____-4
Fuel (4 weeks' operation)____________________________1_____0______0
Basic sensors________________________________________0_____0______0
Loading belt_________________________________________1_____0.003__1
Software: library____________________________________0_____0______0
Software: maneuver/0_________________________________0_____0______0

Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:32 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Posts: 115
Joined: Thu Sep 27, 2018 4:17 am

Re: An Alphabet of Ships

Postby WingedCat » Thu Sep 27, 2018 10:58 pm

An automated defense drone, a single System Defense Brick fulfills legal obligations to "defend" a system that will never be attacked. What would-be raiders should watch out for is a swarm, or "wall", of this type of drone. Minimal defense is commonly judged as 5 Bricks per attacking ship (for instance, if no more than 4 ships are expected to attack at once, at least 20 Bricks is preferred), though thousands of Bricks are commonly found defending large, well-established drone swarms.

(The Referee is encouraged to treat all missiles fired at the same target in the same round by Bricks in the same area and range band relative to the target at time of firing, as a single volley for most purposes, though multiple electronic warfare actions can target them in a single round. The Referee is also encouraged to remind players who wish to take on a 1,000-strong Brick wall without a capital ship and supporting fleet, that a typical Scout or Free Trader has no hope of shooting down 1,000 missiles before they hit, let alone 1,000 missiles per combat round. There have been pirates who have tried, though.)

When present among drones programmed to work with these defenders, System Defense Bricks are the only drones allowed to directly respond to outside communication. All other drones ignore all broadcasts, and all tightbeam communication from anything other than a known fellow swarm member (that sensors detect is not being blocked by another ship or object), so that any attempts to hack the swarm must go through Bricks' relatively paranoid security (16+ to bypass the Security software; on a failure, the Agent software will typically detect the intrusion and block all further communications from the hacker). This was of measurable help when the Virus invaded, especially once Bricks were programmed to tell if other Bricks had been infected, and if so destroy the infected Brick and any non-drone ships in the vicinity. That said, those Bricks with sloppy security programming were no match, and many poorly guarded drone swarms turned into Virus havens for centuries. Even before the Virus, the physical security from a Brick wall was such that most attempts to subvert or defeat a mining swarm started and ended with attempts to hack.

Any drone swarm set to expect trouble will have a number of extra missiles lying around, that other suitably equipped drones (such as Icepicks or Zips) can reload into a Brick while the Brick is busy aiming and firing, getting around a Brick's limit of 4 missiles aboard at a time. Pirates used to being able to shoot down a few salvos then approaching can get disheartened, and their point defense crews fatigued enough to start missing, by several hours of sustained bombardment. A large enough wall of Bricks will load some of its number with fragmentation missiles to shoot down incoming missiles (reprogramming Mints for point defense has been explored, and found impractical without doubling - or more - a Mint's cost and substantially reducing its output volume), with the rest a mix of multi-warhead and standard (nuclear if the asteroids being mined have radioactive resources and the swarm is not near an inhabited world). The answer to a malfunctioning or suborned swarm is to use particle barbettes or similarly long ranged weapons (or, for large swarms, spinal mount weapons aimed at the general volume of space the swarm occupies), which are more often found on proper warships.

When deployed separately from a drone swarm, Bricks' ammunition limits become more critical. Military planners have examined the situation and generally concluded that "fire all the missiles ASAP" is generally the right thing to do, if the Bricks are in serious danger of falling to enemy fire before they can finish doing so - but after that they have little further role until they are resupplied, except possibly electronic warfare against any incoming missiles.

System Defense Brick class defense drone, TL 12
Maintenance: 1270 credits/month
Crew: none (virtual pilot, virtual gunner)
MCr: 15.236
Excess power: 1
Buffered planetoid hull (6 Hull)______________________-10___0.04___2
Buffered planetoid null space_________________________3.5___0______0
Armor 12 (4/buffered planetoid hull + 8/crystaliron)__1_____0.024__0
Reflec armor (+3 Armor versus lasers)_________________0_____1______0
Thrust-7 maneuver drive_______________________________0.7___1.4____7
Fusion power plant____________________________________0.8___0.8____-12
Fuel (8 weeks' operation)_____________________________2_____0______0
Military grade sensors________________________________2_____4.1____2
Fixed mount firmpoint missile rack____________________0_____0.85___0
Software: maneuver____________________________________0_____0______0
Software: agent/1_____________________________________0_____0.002__0
Software: security/3__________________________________0_____0.02___0
Software: evade/1_____________________________________0_____1______0
Software: virtual crew/0______________________________0_____1______0

(See Fuelbag for deckplans.)
Last edited by WingedCat on Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:33 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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