Sunday, April 9, 2017

Ship Design in Starfaring

The first step in designing an exploratory vessel for Starfaring is to choose a shell size.  'Shell' refers to the superstructure and “includes hull, interior spaces, airlocks, and lifesupport [sic] systems.”  Shell sizes are determined by “bion number.”  A bion is a “Bionic Life Support Function unit” and is defined as “the standard amount of life support equipment and energy needed to maintain a human being comfortably on a star voyage of any length.”  Assuming that robots and shell people don't require bions, the Indigo Albatross needs to have ten bions for her crew (including the additional members identified below).  A 'moderate' size shell can accommodate ten bions and has a cost of 19,000 megacredits.

A 'warpengine' is the next item in creating a space ship.  “Warpengines cost 3000 mc. per unit of warpspeed they can generate,” page 19 tells us.  However, page 35 further discloses that a basic 'warp 1' engine costs five thousand megacredits and each additional warp increment costs three thousand megacredits.  In Subspace, 'warp 1' is equivalent to one parsec per day; each additional 'warp' level  doubles the speed.  In real space, 'warp 1' is equivalent to one-tenth of the speed of light; each additional 'warp' level increases speed by another tenth.  Thus, 'warp 3' is equivalent to eight parsecs (just over 26 light years) per day (Subspace) or 30% of the speed of light (real space).  If we select a 'warp 3' capable engine for the Indigo Albatross, the cost is 11,000 megacredits.

As indicated in a prior post, there are three types of Star Crystals:  Brahma (related to power), Shiva (related to energy weapons), and Vishnu (related to energy shields).  Each type is necessary for a starship.  We are told that Star Crystals – regardless of type – have a price of one thousand megacredits “per 1000 standards of energy produced or processed.”  What is a 'standard' of energy?  According to author Ken St. Andre, “It has no 20th century equivalent I can think of right off hand, but it is not exorbitantly large.”  Determining the energy requirements of a starship is difficult since such requirements are not addressed in the “Building Your Starship” section of of the rules.  Also, there are no example ships from which we can extrapolate likely values.  However, St. Andre provides rules for creating used starships.  To determine a a rating for each of the Star Crystal types, 3d6 are rolled and the result multiplied by 1,000.  This suggests that Star Crystals with ratings of 10,000 standards – an average roll – are viable options for our purposes.  Spending 30,000 megacredits provides us with one of each type of Star Crystal having a 10,000 standard rating.

Another consideration for outfitting a starship is “instrumentation,” which can be thought of as computer systems.  Five “areas” should be considered:  (1) astrogation, (2) gunnery, (3) library, (4) life support, and (5) research analysis/sensor interpretation.  “[A] single master computer which integrates all of these various functions” has a cost of 8,000 megacredits.  There is an additional cost of 2,000 megacredits “to accommodate a shell person comptroller.”  Since we have a shell person comptroller, it would be a shame to disregard this opportunity.  Yet we should also consider a back-up system.  A differentiated system covering all areas (and which includes a 'central processor') has a cost of 10,000 megacredits.  “Supplementary instrumentation,“ we are told, “such as would be required for graphic displays suitable for non-electronic human senses, cost one-half the computer cost in that particular area.”  So that humans can interact with these systems, an additional cost of 3,000 megacredits is therefore required.

So far, our design budget for the Indigo Albatross is 83,000 megacredits.  The amount of the loan extended from the planetary government is 100,000 megacredits.  With the 17,000 megacredits we have left, we could increase the bion value of the shell or invest in higher-rated Star Crystals.  However, there is an additional category of “Accessories” that should be considered.  An arsenal of everything from handguns to cannon might run 500 megacredits.  A “Portable nuclear fusion reactor” costs 500 megacredits.  An all-terrain vehicle (without modifications) is 100 megacredits.  Spacesuits are two megacredits each.  At ten megacredits, an airbelt...
Generates a weak force field that allows free passage to oxygen only.  Will screen out bacteria, water, poison gases and insects.  Will not turn bullets, energy beams, or other massive attack.
Although 'research analysis/sensor interpretation' is an “instrumentation” area, prices for devices like Star Finders (40 mc) and Subspace Communicators (200 mc) are listed separately.  There is also a “Psionic Nullifier” for sale at four megacredits.  Is this supposed to be a weapon?

With regard to the 100,000 megacredit loan, “The planetary government demands a 20% interest payment on any loans it makes, and it holds the title to your ship until your loan is completely paid.”  The planetary government may seize the ship if half of the debt is is not paid after three expeditions; the government will seize the ship if the entire debt is not paid after five expeditions.  Of course, the notion of financing starships is not unique to StarfaringTraveller also has rules for starship financing, but that game allows the purchase price to be “paid off over a period of 40 years.”  Details are lacking with regard to the actual repossession of starships as a result of defaulting on payments.  That could be the subject of a completely different role-playing game; a game that might look a little something like this...

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During my perusal of media to locate depictions of the crew, I found a couple of images that – while endearing – did not represent any pre-conceived crewmember.  I have thus created positions on the ship for them.

Callisto McCabe (Pilot)
Mentality:  100
Psi:  8     (use:  2; recovery:  5)
Physique:  13
Health:  16

Knows how to handle a joystick and she's into bondage?  She's a keeper!

H. Ludlow Upsilon (Life Systems Analyst)
Mentality:  120
Psi:  10     (use:  3; recovery:  4)
Physique:  12
Health:  15

Anybody with a leopard-skin environment suit deserves to be part of the crew.   Just leave behind whatever that tentacle's attached to.

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