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clarence

BRP Space: Deckplans

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As some of you might have seen, I've been looking into how to make good deckplans for BRP Space. After checking around a bit I've found a program called Dungeonographer. It's quite versatile for small to medium starships (up to about 200-300 Modules) and it's fast to work with. The example plan below took me about an hour without first consulting the manual - half of that was spent in Photoshop fine-tuning the looks. Let me know what you think of it!

I haven't tried to do larger ships yet, but I think it will be a big time-saver to start in Dungeonographer, but move to Illustrator/Inkscape/Affinity Designer as quickly as possible. This is because Dungeonographer doesn't seem to support copy/paste of complete cubicles or sections, a must-have feature for large ships. I hope to make work more efficient this way. 
 
What I have realized so far, is how similar many medium-sized deckplans are. Cockpit, corridor with cubicles, small social space, cargo hold. Not much variation. At this level of detail it's not that surprising; regular ship deckplans that I have used as reference look fairly similar too. Or is it just that I'm being slightly uncreative here?
 
 
mymap3_small.thumb.jpg.cdee8200973d7e4cf
 
 
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Ah yes, I kind of like the old minimalist look : ) I prefer that over the computer-game style so common these days in rpg plans. Graphic stringency or total photo realism, that's the way to go I think.

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I think you're on the right track. Most ships will have the same areas, just devote different amounts to each. Is this a spartan mission, with coffin-like bunks and no social space, and all extra space devoted to weapons and sensors? Or is the crew rich and used to luxurious accomodations, like their own sleeping quarters and being able to eat at a table... and a holodeck... and a sports arena? Does the crew sleep in shifts? Maybe you don't need that many beds. Maybe the crew is a race that neither eats nor sleeps but derives sustenance from something beamed from the walls of the ship. Traders--big cargo hold. Smugglers--hidden cargo hold. Military--big cargo hold full of fighters, shuttles, and ground vehicles, or no cargo hold but lots of weapons. Scouts and exploration ships--little bit of everything, but nothing very big. 

Is there artificial gravity on the ship? If not, sleeping bags can be nailed against the walls to save space. Even if that is not the case, beds can be folded into the wall when not in use to provide more room.

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SketchUp works tolerably well for deck plans. And, if you're ridiculously good with it like Ian Stead, for exteriors.

Are you deliberately going for a mix of Traveller ship layout and D&D plan graphics?

 

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Good stuff, clarence.  It actually reminded me of the ship plans in my copy of Seldon's Compendium of Starcraft I for the old FGU Space Opera RPG.  I've never actually played Space Opera, as I think we found the game system a bit much back in the day, but looking at deck plans makes me want to give a space campaign OTHER than Star Trek a try.  Maybe someday....

Edited by ORtrail
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Good stuff, clarence.  It actually reminded me of the ship plans in my copy of Seldon's Compendium of Starcraft I for the old FGU Space Opera RPG.  I've never actually played Space Opera, as I think we found the game system a bit much back in the day, but looking at deck plans makes me want to give a space campaign OTHER than Star Trek a try.  Maybe someday....

I LOVE the ships in Space Opera, and the rules for them. Bonkers pseudo science, but fun pulpy nonsense that was enormous fun to play...

cheers,

Nick

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SketchUp works tolerably well for deck plans. And, if you're ridiculously good with it like Ian Stead, for exteriors.

Are you deliberately going for a mix of Traveller ship layout and D&D plan graphics?

 

The Traveller/D&D mix is mostly a consequence of Dungeonographer's style. I think it looks quite good, though a more contemporary graphic style might be more appropriate. What do you think: is the style good-looking retro or just giving the impression of a tired old RPG?

I'm no SketchUp expert, but I can handle it reasonably well. It'a an impressive program in many ways, not least because it is so much easier to use than most other 3d programs. It's also one of the programs I want to try out, not aiming for photo-realism but still trying to introduce some 3d lighting effects perhaps.

Is there artificial gravity on the ship? If not, sleeping bags can be nailed against the walls to save space. Even if that is not the case, beds can be folded into the wall when not in use to provide more room.

BRP Space is space opera-like enough to take artificial gravity for granted, but it could be optional too. Regarding the number of crew/beds/cubicles, I noticed on deck plans for WWII warships that bunks were drawn much like in my own plan above, and then just "3 Bunks" written over it. Not much privacy there...

 It actually reminded me of the ship plans in my copy of Seldon's Compendium of Starcraft I for the old FGU Space Opera RPG.

I still haven't got around to checking those deckplans. I will have to do that soon...

 

A question for all of you:

How do you use deckplans? Do you keep them on-screen, so they can be in color, or do you print them and prefer mostly greyscale line art? Or both?

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I tend to regard spaceships as three-dimensional mazes with access crawls to whatever piece of equipment is crammed into this volume inside the hull (or connected on the outside). Think e.g. of the position of the crew quarters on the Firefly - below the access corridor to the bridge.

You'll find clean corridors mainly in passenger-accessible areas, and depending on the availability of artificial gravity and acceleration compensators there would be a varying regiment on loose parts inside the ship, whether during planned acceleration phases (such as airplane take-off and landing) or during cruising periods.

A military transporter won't have any smooth corridors except where needed for speedy exits - expect utility hand-holds, cargo nets clamping optional equipment to the bulkheads, and low comfort for the payload (i.e. the grunts or special forces). A ship for exploration missions - whether intelligence gathering for military, political or economic purposes, surveying of ressources, or scientific expeditions - will have corridors stuffed with workplace niches for specific instruments/experiments, even if those are usually overseen from a central control area, if only for maintenance purposes.

If you have gravitation control, you could have segments with different directions for "down" in your ship, allowing for a foldout floor map wider than the exterior bulkhead, with creases offering some transitional effect similar to the centripetal space stations of e.g. Babylon 5 or Clarke's 2001. This can be especially fun for investigating unknown space ships or space installations.

 

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I use them at yhe table, so I prefer monochrome. I also try to make everything "readable" so there's no need for symbols or a key. I Used to use AutoCAD but if I got back into it I'd just use SketchUp and finally get my head around SketchUp Layout again.

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I haven't run a space game in a while so haven't used a computer in the past. That being said, I'd probably have the deck plan on my computer and reference it for drawing on a battle mat.

As far as drawing plans myself, I'll have to look at using Sketchup. I've used it for working on a pseudo blueprint for a gaming table and for brainstorming a modular sewer system for my games, so I'm familiar with it. Ian draws some impressive plans! Love the site and will spend more time poking around on it! Thanks for posting the link!

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Ah, I knew I still had one of these around here. AutoCAD + Photoshop, but I reckon the current SketchUp could do the same and I haven't even started messing with plug-ins.

 

q_ship_bw-Layout1.png

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A question for all of you:

How do you use deckplans? Do you keep them on-screen, so they can be in color, or do you print them and prefer mostly greyscale line art? Or both?

With the caveat of having played mostly Star Trek (where there are plenty of publications/websites that give you deck plans broken up into sections like bridge, engineering, etc.) I am used to printing out copies and letting the players have them to use.  When printing, my preference is almost always greyscale to save the color ink. 

Vile; I really like that contrast, but I could live with either deck plan.  The simpler one would just require me to elaborate more about each area, the more finished version is pretty much "what you see is what you get". 

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That's a good plan! I especially like the detailing in the engineering section. (But AutoCad is probably my least favorite program of all times…).

I've been modeling the deckplan at the top of the thread in SketchUp today and it was fairly quick. 3d is always a bit more fiddly than 2d though. Having drag and drop furniture would make life much easier. I'm thinking of trying out a mix at the moment: modeling in 3d, render one room at a time in an orthographic view, and then combine them into a full ship in Photoshop.

Greyscale drawings seems like the way to go!

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3d is always a bit more fiddly than 2d though.

I know what you mean, although actually in some ways I find it easier. Aside from the components you can find online, some complex stuff is not that complex when created in 3D. Plus it's easy to add shadows.

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Here's a slightly different take on the Star Hawk deckplan. I have aimed for a more contemporary style here, slightly less retro-RPG, inspired by futuristic blueprints. I also tried converting it for easy printing and it looks good that way too (though blue = white and cream = grey). No SketchUp yet, only Dungeonographer + Photoshop so far.

I know what you mean, although actually in some ways I find it easier. Aside from the components you can find online, some complex stuff is not that complex when created in 3D. Plus it's easy to add shadows.

Agreed, some problems are easier to solve in 3d. And I started digging through TurboSquid for components… I guess there must be resource sites specifically for SketchUp too?

mymap3c2.thumb.jpg.a8d4d973343bb1bfb845a

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What extra information would you like next to a deckplan? Stats, hit locations? Or are those better to keep in a separate place?

I'd suggest leaving stats, hit locations, etc. to a separate Ship Sheet. Otherwise your deckplan could get rather cluttered, especially in the case of larger ships with multiple decks.

At the very least, I'd recommend a map key that includes square sizes and a definition of map objects (those that aren't evident just looking at them). Bonus points for exterior drawings of the ship, from one or more angles.

This is kind of an example, although is too busy for me.

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I also like to make the deck plan look a little more like a 'real' thing, so ship stats would interfere with the suspension of disbelief.

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Yes, I see your point. As I already have a starship sheet in BRP Space, it's probably better to use that one for any details.

My SketchUp trials didn't go too well (so far). It's fairly quick to work with (I used a Dungeonographer deckplan as a backdrop image) but I found it hard to come up with a good style. Either it became too detailed and everything got bogged down in photorealism, or it felt a bit too bland. I will give it another try with my next plan.

Can someone tell me how similar Campaign Cartographer and Dungeonographer are regarding deckplan design? Are there any obvious advantages with using CC?

Oh, and exteriors are unfortunately out of reach at the moment. My modeling capabilities need to improve a bit first.

Edited by clarence

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Here's a slightly different take on the Star Hawk deckplan. I have aimed for a more contemporary style here, slightly less retro-RPG, inspired by futuristic blueprints. I also tried converting it for easy printing and it looks good that way too (though blue = white and cream = grey). No SketchUp yet, only Dungeonographer + Photoshop so far.

I'm more of a fan of the first one. Maybe its the nostalgia that gets me, but to me it has just the right amount of info. This one is too minimalist for me.

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Campaign Cartographer is very nice, but has a learning curve to it. While the latest version is much easier to use than previous ones, it still can give you moments of WTF! I think it's a great program, but it's not for everyone! I haven't played around with Dungeonographer yet.

Edited by Skunkape

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Thanks for the information on Campaign Cartographer. I see there's a free demo of it - I'd better try it out I think. That and Affinity Designer are next on my list.

Here's the last version of Star Hawk (now renamed Nighthawk). Not as minimalistic, but a few more details could perhaps be added for clarity.

mymap3f_small.thumb.jpg.4c1ba65108b24e1f

 

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Here's the last version of Star Hawk (now renamed Nighthawk). Not as minimalistic, but a few more details could perhaps be added for clarity.

Someone needs to install a fresher/water-closet/sonic shower on the Nighthawk! Something! ;)

More seriously, I quite like the blueprint ascetic of your deckplans.

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Lol, yes, I know. How about the unmarked module to the right of the corridor? A bit crammed for a full bathroom perhaps, but not impossible. At tech level 12 (?) they must have shrunk those facilities at least to the size of an iPhone, right?

I was looking into the hit locations and came up with an alternative to the system used in BRP Space: I numbered every grid square from top left to bottom right, then added the Modules for engines and maneuvering thrusters. In many dice rolling apps you can define an arbitrary dice, like d15 or d45. Set up a new dice with the maximum being the highest numbered module. Roll this new digital dice, check the number against the numbered squares and you're done. 

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