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Starship Design

Discussions on the M-Space setting and other publications by FrostByte Books.

Starship Design

Postby Vile » Sat Oct 01, 2016 8:37 pm

I'm browsing the starship design section at the moment. There are a few things which really jump out at me (rebuilding & expanding!), and overall I like the approach. It also seems to tie in well with the vehicle rules. One thing I would like to see is a worked ship design example or three, perhaps taken from the sample ships in the book to show how to get to the desired end result.
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Re: Starship Design

Postby Clarence Redd » Mon Oct 10, 2016 2:17 am

Ok, here's a starship design walkthrough:

This is a walkthrough of the starship design rules in M-SPACE. It will cover the creation of a typical starship for player characters, housing 4 people for longer periods of time. It can be hard to pinpoint exactly what type of ship this is, so I will call it an Explorer. It has a good cargo hold, a sick bay, a small common area and is lightly armed. (The cubicles can theoretically hold two people, but then it will be a bit too crowded for any real privacy. As a temporary solution, if the number of players vary between scenarios, it should be fine though).

1. The first step is to determine the ideal number of people that’s going to use the ship. As stated above, I’m going for 4 people. That’s 1 pilot and 3 crew members or passengers.

2. Let’s start with the cockpit. 1 Module would be enough, but as some of the storytelling action often happens in the cockpit, I’m making it 3 Modules. The second cockpit Module will be ideal for a gunner. I add “Cockpit, 3” under the Modules heading on the starship sheet.

3. As the ship must be functional for longer trips, cubicles are needed: that means 4 Cubicle Modules per person, a total of 16 Modules. I add “Crew (4), 16” to the sheet.

4. Time to add a common room. As it will be a combined meeting, dining & hanging out type of space, I make it a bit bigger than necessary: 15 Modules.

5. Cargo holds are always difficult to determine the size of, but I’ll go for 22 Modules here. Not big enough for a regular trader, but enough to fit an ATV and some dandy exploration equipment (not included in the purchase though…).

6. Characters tend to get hurt a lot, so a good 4 Module sick bay is needed. And as a precaution I throw in an Autodoc too (2 Modules). That’s 6 Modules.

7. The ship also needs reasonable hyperspace capabilities: 3 Modules. The ship will be able to go 3 hexes per jump when used together with a standard subsector map.

8. Regarding weapons, two lasers will do (one operated by the pilot, the other by the gunner). I’m upping damage to 2d6 though, using the rules from the advanced combat rules. This will take 2 Modules.

9. This is what the list of Modules looks like now:

Cockpit, 3
Crew (4), 16
Open Space, 15
Cargo hold, 22
Sick Bay, 4
Autodoc, 2
Hyperspace, 3
Weapons, 2

10. All in all, 67 Modules so far. I take a moment to look through what Modules I have. Flicking through the rulebook, I make sure I haven’t missed any of the functions the ship needs. After some consideration, I decide that I’m happy as it is. (The main reason for double-checking at this stage, is to avoid recalculating Speed and Maneuver more than necessary).

11. Now that the ship's layout is firmly set, it’s time for Engines and Maneuver; I grab my iPhone calculator. I will try with a Thrust Rating (TR) of 70, and see how it works. I start with a size 1/10th of the total Modules, just to get my bearings on the Speed and Maneuver values: 7 Engine Modules and 7 for Maneuver. Let’s see what Speed and Maneuver values we get with that:

TR multiplied with the number of Engine (or Maneuver) Modules: 70x7=490. That’s the total TR.
Total ship Modules will now be 67+7+7=81
Total TR divided by ship Modules: 490/81=6

Speed and Maneuver at 6 is a bit low for what I had in mind. So, either I increase the number of Modules or raise TR. Let’s try 10 Modules of each; if that’s not enough, I will raise the TR. The new calculations look like this:

70x10=700 in total TR
Total Modules: 67+10+10=87

8 is still a bit low. Raising TR to 100:

100x10=1000 in total TR
Total Modules is the same: 67+10+10=87
1000/87=12 (11.5 rounded up)

Speed and Maneuver at 12 is a good start! I will keep 12 for Maneuver, but go back to TR70 for the Engine Modules (the engine, I decide, is a bit old).

12. That means ship stats are ready:


13. Armor and Shields are next. In the context of the intended setting, Armor will be fine at 2 and Shields at 7. The values can be determined in one of two ways: either by deciding what is normal in the setting, or just add as much as the ship builder affords. As I’m not doing the economic calculations for this ship, I’m going for the first method here.

14. For the remaining attributes I go for: Stealth (no), Streamlining (yes) and Apps (no). I will not use Recovery, to keep any combats simpler.

15. If you don’t want to use Hit Locations, the ship is done! Just set General Hit Points to 87 and you’re good to go. I prefer Hit Locations for the detailed story hooks they can provide though, so stay with me for a few moments if you want to see how they work.

16. To calculate Hit Locations, I bring out my calculator again. I’m dividing the number of Modules for each individual section with the total number of Modules. So, for the cockpit it's 3/87=0.03. Times 100, we get 3. Thus, the Hit Location table starts like this:

Cockpit 01-03

17. Next, cubicles (Crew): 16 Modules. 16/87=0.18. Multiplied by 100, we get 18. Just take the last number in the table (3) and add 18 to that: the range will be between 04 and 21.

Cockpit 01-03
Crew 04-21

18. For the rest of the sections it looks like this (with section Hit Points in brackets):

Cockpit 01-03 (3 HP)
Crew 04-21 (16 HP)
Open Space 22-38 (15 HP)
Cargo hold 39-63 (22 HP)
Sick Bay 64-69 (4 HP)
Autodoc 70-71 (2 HP)
Hyperspace 72-74 (3 HP)
Weapons 75-76 (2 HP)
Engines 77-87 (10 HP)
Manuever 88-00 (10 HP)

19. That’s it! The ship is done. I will call it Aajege, a Sïmmedh word meaning a spring of water. But there’s one more thing I want to add...

20. I’m planning for this particular ship to be slightly old, a bit battered and to have some personality. I’m halving hit points for some of the sections (Open Space and Cargo Hold) and take away 3 Hit Points each from Engines and Maneuver. I also set Ship Condition to -20; all Pilot rolls will be Hard, just as all Mechanics rolls. The GM is also free to call for Pilot rolls for standard maneuvers, and any failed such roll may result in a malfunction. (See more about Ship Condition at page 101 in M-SPACE). Just enough to keep the players on their toes, not relying too heavily on their tech.
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Clarence Redd
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Re: Starship Design

Postby Vile » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:10 am

Well now, that clears things up nicely. It's interesting how simple it seems to be to tweak the design mid-flow, due to the small number of components. I guess capital ships might take longer and be more difficult to get "right", but I'm a small-ship-universe kind of person so I don't care. :P
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Re: Starship Design

Postby Clarence Redd » Mon Oct 10, 2016 3:43 pm

Yes, tweaking is really easy as long as you do it before adding Engines/Maneuver. (I often keep changing after that too, but the recalculations can feel a bit... tedious).

Regarding capital ships, it's not that complicated actually. The system devised by Atgxtg is very smooth, as long as you don't need too many details on the ships. Just focus on the number of people, get the Size Ratings for the different sections, and you're halfway there. In my games big ships occur now and then, but I rarely need very much information about them: crew estimates, carrying capacity and fire power is what I usually define.
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Re: Starship Design

Postby Lucius Panderius » Wed Oct 12, 2016 5:00 pm

That ship design walk through is just what I needed too.
Makes things very clear.
I like the abstract nature.
I'm playing another game at the moment (Victoriana and starting 7th Sea next week hopefully) but M-Space is on my to do list to show people.
From what I've read so far it definitely fills a space in the rpg sector, and isn't setting specific.
Good stuff.
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