Inspired by the new trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy (and who wouldn’t be?), here are some starships for your Invulnerable Campaign! This blog post will also talk a little about how starship technology affects a space-based setting, and adds a few new weapons for spacecraft.
These stats were created using Vigilante Edition, but should work fine for Year One Edition as well.
Standard Features: All Starships also have the Autopilot, Ejection Seats, Hull, and Self-Destruct Features.
Ships by Size: Ships are divided into two main categories: Light and Heavy. Heavy vessels have the Cannot Land, Hyperspace [*125], and Multiple Engines Features, and are often Sluggish as well. By default, Tramp Freighters are the heaviest vessels that can carry a Hyperdrive and still land on planets. Large starships will be impossible for most PCs to purchase, but a group of PCs can pool their slots from the Super-Vehicle Advanced Talent to snag one of these beauties.
Vehicle Compartments: Chapter 11: Combat notes that many large vehicles are divided into separate, airtight compartments for safety. Light starships consist of only one compartment except for Tramp Freighters, which are divided up into 2-3 compartments. Heavy starships are divided into a half-dozen or more compartments each.
Alien Tech: Human technology hasn’t managed to produce anything other than Space Shuttles. Light alien craft have the VTOL Feature, and all alien craft have the Voice Activation Feature.
Light Space Vessels
Starfighter (slot cost: 15), Cruise: MACH 1, Max: MACH 5, Accel/Decel: 300 mph, MVR: +2, VDEF: -1, SIZ: 18, Ruggedness: Flimsy, Passengers: none (1 pilot), Cargo Class: Light, Cargo: 800 lbs., Features: No Passengers.
- Weapons: Irrational Torpedoes, Quantum Cannons.
Space Shuttle (slot cost: 12, -3 for an Earth space shuttle with no Hyperspace, VTOL, or Voice Activation), Cruise: 500 mph, Max: MACH 3, Accel/Decel: 250 mph, MVR: -1, VDEF: -5, SIZ: 19, Ruggedness: Average, Passengers: 5, Cargo Class: 1.5 tons, Cargo: Standard, Features: More Cargo [*10] or More Passengers [*10].
- Weapons: None.
Tramp Space Freighter (slot cost: 17), Cruise: 400 mph, Max: MACH 4, Accel/Decel: 200 mph, MVR: -1, VDEF: -6, SIZ: 20, Ruggedness: Average, Passengers: 6, Cargo Class: Heavy, Cargo: 30 tons, Features: Hyperspace [*25], More Cargo [*100], Multiple Engines.
- Weapons: Quantum Cannons.
Heavy Space Vessels
Starliner (slot cost: 14), Cruise: 300 mph, Max: MACH 2, Accel/Decel: 100 mph, MVR: -1, VDEF: -7, SIZ: 21, Ruggedness: Average, Passengers: 1500, Cargo Class: Heavy, Cargo: 33 tons, Features: Massive [*2], More Cargo [*10], More Passengers [*1000], Multiple Engines [*2], Sluggish.
- Weapons: None.
Star Carrier (slot cost: 24), Cruise: MACH 1, Max: MACH 3, Accel/Decel: 225 mph, MVR: -2, VDEF: -9, SIZ: 22, Ruggedness: Rugged, Passengers: 60, Cargo Class: Standard, Cargo: 24 tons, Features: Carrier, Massive *3, More Cargo [*10], More Passengers [*10], Multiple Engines [*2], Sluggish.
- Weapons: Neutron Torpedoes, Plasma Lance, Quantum Cannon, Tractor Beam.
Space Cruiser (slot cost: 25), Cruise: MACH 2, Max: MACH 2, Accel/Decel: 200 mph, MVR: -1, VDEF: -9, SIZ: 23, Ruggedness: Rugged, Passengers: 600, Cargo Class: Standard, Cargo: 26.5, Features: Massive *4, More Cargo [*10], More Passengers [*100], Multiple Engines [*2], Sluggish [*2].
- Weapons: Neutron Torpedoes, Plasma Lance, Quantum Cannon, Tractor Beam [2 slots].
Star Dreadnought (slot cost: 40), Cruise: MACH 1, Max: MACH 2, Accel/Decel: 150 mph, MVR: -1, VDEF: -10, SIZ: 24, Ruggedness: Very Rugged, Passengers: 2000, Cargo Class: Standard, Cargo: 28.8 tons, Features: Carrier, Massive *5, More Cargo [*10], More Passengers [*1000], Multiple Engines [*4], Sluggish [*3].
- Weapons: Neutron Torpedoes *2, Plasma Lance *2, Quantum Cannon *3, Tractor Beam [3 slots].
Space Vehicle Weapons
Quantum Cannons: DMG: 9d6+1E, ACC: -1, RNG: 1 mile, Min. SIZ: 19, Equipment Slots: 3, Shots: 20, Features: Cannot Block, Cannot Disarm, Restricted , Slower .
Irrational Torpedoes: DMG: 12d6+1d3, ACC: -3, RNG: 50 miles, Min. SIZ: 18, Equipment Slots: 3, Shots: 4, Features: Cannot Block, Cannot Disarm, Restricted , Radius [1/2 mile], Save Roll [Explosive].
Tractor Beams: DMG: —, ACC: -2, RNG: 10 miles, Min. SIZ: 18, Equipment Slots: Varies, Features: Acts as Elemental Control [Gravity] Power with Improved Manipulate Objects Enhancement. Power Level equals 2 per Equipment slot, to max. of Level 10.
Your Campaign IN SPAAAAACE
Speeds: MACH speeds are used for space vehicles even though many cannot land on planets, and so never enter atmospheres. They’re just a convenient round number to use. Space vehicles have the same acceleration and deceleration since they don’t really need to apply brakes to slow down, just vent thrust forward, instead of backward. A MACH is the speed of sound on Earth, roughly 750 mph.
Science nerds might complain that there’s no top speed in space, since there’s no inertia. Most alien ships have anti-gravity technology and inertial compensators, so the crew isn’t reduced to paste. The ship’s top Speed measures the maximum rated capacity for the inertial compensators.
For reference, 1g of acceleration equals about 21.94 mph, so MACH 1 equals a little over 34 gs. Many people (even heroes!) will suffer badly any faster than MACH 3, and only the fittest will be able to survive MACH 9 or so.
Anti-Gravity: As mentioned, artificial gravity is usually a given in the pulpy space opera of comic book space. However, a setting or alien race without anti-gravity technology might instead do one of the following:
- Crew sections are arranged in rotating habitat modules, spinning around a central axis that forms the core of the ship. An excellent example of this ship is the Leonov from the movie 2010: Odyssey Two. These kinds of ships are vulnerable to attack, since the joints on their rotating crew compartments are fragile; treat the crew sections as having 1 step lower Ruggedness than the rest of the ship. These ships take time to “park” the crew section before a battle, taking 10 rounds to complete, and leaving the crew weightless. This removes the Ruggedness penalty.
- Some alien ships have decks arranged at right angles to the direction of thrust. The ships in the classic Star Frontiers game are designed in this way. These ships continually accelerate at 1 while in flight, allowing inertia to give the crew some simulated gravity. This means slow flights, accelerating at 1g to the travel midpoint, and then decelerating at 1g to the destination. Ships built this way that can land on a planet will need to land and launch vertically, or be specially built to minimize awkwardness.
Hyperdrives: Tinkering with the Hyperspace Feature is one of the easiest ways to tailor the “look and feel” of space and interstellar civilization.
- The default setting assumes that only ships of a certain size and mass can generate enough power to move through hyperspace. Smaller vessels are dependent on larger ships to get them from one system to another. This means that wars are fought with both small fighters and big capital ships, but the big ships are the most important.
- If everyone travels from one system to another via dimensional portal stations created by some ancient alien race, remove the Hyperspace Feature from all vehicles. This means that your heroes always have something to fight for — enemy worlds holding a space gate gain a major tactical advantage! — but there’s always the chance the heroes might get stranded on one side of a gate, with no practical way to get home.
- If every spacefaring vessel can mount a hyperdrive, no matter the size, give them all the Hyperspace [*25] Feature. If the heroes are captured and brought aboard an enemy ship, it’s easier for them to run to the hangar and steal a small fighter, since the fighter can reach hyperspeed. Otherwise, the heroes’ best bet is to storm the bridge and take the ship for themselves.
- Maybe bigger ships can mount better hyperdrives; that means that there’s a strong emphasis on building the biggest, baddest ships possible. Or maybe smaller ships move through hyperspace easier. In this case, Carriers are probably the biggest ships, and they’re considered more of a mobile space station than anything else.
- Remember also that different civilizations can use different forms of hyperdrive, and this will change how they travel, fight, and survive in space. If the Convocation is the default, then the Convocation will be at a distinct tactical disadvantage fighting the Ajara’Kuan Empire, if the latter can mount hyperdrives on any size vessel. The Convocation will definitely need heroes to defend their outposts, and steal and retrofit the enemies’ hyperdrive system!
- Space stations orbit a planet, moon, or sun, and can’t travel freely. For all intents and purposes, they’re immobile, and so should be built using the Super-Headquarters Advanced Talent. If you wanted to, you could build them as a vehicle as well, but they’ll cost so many Build Points that it may not be worthwhile.
Onboard Computers: All ships have a basic onboard computer to help with astronavigation. The Game Master may allow PCs to take a rudimentary onboard AI for 1 Equipment Slot. This AI isn’t as great as the one gained through the AI Autopilot Focus for the Super-Vehicle Advanced Talent. This AI has 1 INS, PER, and WIL, INIT 4, and Piloting 3. It’s capable of handling takeoffs, landings, and minor course corrections, but that’s it.