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M-SPACE Starship Design


Vile Traveller

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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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Ok, here's the starship design walkthrough that I promised a few days ago. I hope it will be easy to follow. Rather long post though.
 
(Oh, and M-SPACE just hit #1 in gaming books at Lulu!)
 
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 simply 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
    700/87=8

    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:

    SPEED 8
    MANEUVER 12
    SIZE 87
     
  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 combat quick.
  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 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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M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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So... no "Life Support" system?

Also, what are space-travel times like?  Might they conceivably spend weeks or months between stops?  Some space dedicated to food-stores (or a note that "X" amount of cargo space per week beyond the first week, or what-have-you) seems desirable...  Presumably, they can recirculate/recover & purify the water... does the technology allow for complete molecular-synthesis of food-stuffs, a fully-closed system?  That would mean no need for food-stores (unless someone was rather a food-snob,,, ) .

I've got to say, I really like what I've been seeing and hearing of M-Space !  I'm ramping up for an old-school RuneQuest game at the moment, but I think if folks want to take a break for something sci-fi-ish I might just pitch this one to them...

Question:  how do you think it'd handle the "Star Trek" universe/tech?  Have you tried making TOS / NG / DS9 / Voyager / etc ships and/or other Fed/Rom/Klingon/etc tech ?  Personally, I like the "Traveller" vibe more, but I think I'd get more buy-in from my group if I pitched it as a Trek setting...

 

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Life support is automatically included; just like food, airlocks, vacc suits, a computer and the hull. I decided early on that some essential systems simply are included in all ships. As you really wouldn't build a ship without any of those, it made more sense to integrate them with the other Modules. 

Regarding food, water, air and so on, resource management is more of a hard sci-fi thing I would say. That's not to say it can't add some interesting storytelling complications in soft sci-fi, but there are no rules for that in M-SPACE. 

I haven't tried to emulate Star Trek. I think most aspects will be quite easy to work out. My players always found the idea of a strict hierarchy too restricting...

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M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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  • 4 months later...

so im trying to stat out a starship and ive downloaded the guides from http://www.frostbytebooks.com/#downloads    but looking at the examples in the starship combat pdf i cant figure out how the speed and handling was calculated. for example the gamma star is as follows    speed of 8, handling of 5 and size of 110. to determine speed it is TR of 100 multiplied by engine of 6, and divided by total modules of 110.  it equals 5.45. to determine the handling its TR of 100 multiplied by manuever of 5 and divided by 110. it equals 4.54. so am i missing something or have i figured it wrong? sorry im kind of struggling with the procedure. 

Bridge 5
Crew 50 (12 Crew members)
Weapons 13
Engine 6 (Thrust Rating 100)
Maneuver 5 (Thrust Rating 100)
Sick Bay 20
Hyperspace 3
Open Space 8


 

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so i stated up a starship here it is. does it look correct? suggestions? 

 

speed 5

handling   5

size (Hitpoints) 249

Module                         Module cost (  )        

Cockpit                    5

crew quarters          16

weapons                   4

engine (TR70)         18

Manuever (TR70)     18

sickbay w/autodoc    5

Hyperspace              3

Sensors                    1

Galley                       6

kitchen                      4

storeroom               3

Captains Quarters    5

Passengers Quarters    8

Engineers Quarters      5

Main cargo                50

Auxillary cargo          25

Hidden cargo spots (x3)     6

Shuttle bay            10

Laboratory              8

Machine Shop       10

Vault                      4

 

 

1 Bridge                                12 Recreational Room                    23 External hatch to Shuttle

2 Sensor Console                13 Passenger Quarters                   24 Shuttle Bay and Shuttle

3 Stairs to Crew Deck           14 Engineering Quarters              25 Machine Shop

4 Galley                               15 Main Cargo Hold                       26 Laboratory

5 Kitchen                            16 Auxiliary Cargo bays                     27 Armory Vault

6 Store Room                    17 Engineering

7 Captains Quarters           18 Engine and FTL Drive

8 Crew Quarters                19 External Hatch Doors to Main Cargo Bay

9 Infirmary                         20 External Hatch Doors to Auxiliary Cargo Bay

10 Stairs up to and down    21 Internal Hatch Doors to Auxiliary Cargo Bays

11 Airlock to Outside           22 Hidden Cargo Holds

 

davenport guest rooms added.png

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It looks perfect! I can't spot any problems. The flat nose of the ship (the lower cargo hold) looks a bit... flat, but unless the ship is streamlined it will not really matter. 

Good to see deck plans too. Did you make the deck plans from the stats or the other way around?

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M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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Hi all -- I'm mostly a lurker here, but I'm into d100 games. I've had OpenQuest for a while now, and just recently got M-space.

I'm just wondering -- do modules have any particular floor area or volume? I'm trying to figure out how to translate a list of modules into deckplans or physical designs.

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@scott: Both yes and no : ) If you draw a deck plan, it will soon feel like 1 Module represents a bit more than 1 m2 (squaremeter). But that misses the technological overhead of bulkheads, airlocks, radiation shielding, electronics, life support, plumbing and so on. 
 
And to keep the design process simple, all the essential tech is integrated in the construction. As the tech is spread out through the ship, there is no actual measurement of one Module - except that it can contain a single person in space.
 
@heathd666: Yes, DeviantArt is a goldmine. Good work with the photoshopping. The size of the cargo hold is always a bit difficult to visualise, but it looks about right to me. I usually turn on the grid in Affinity Designer (or Photoshop) when doing deck plans, and let 1 square equal 1 Module. That way it's fairly easy to get the relative sizes right. As I said above though, it looks more exact than it really is. 

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M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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What about external, flange on cargo holds? Does your system cover the characteristics of ships used as tugs for cargo modules (which are basically space ships without their own drive, and potentially without life support)? The carrier ship probably would have to spend some points on providing the flanges to hold external modules, but the modules themselves could be impromptu stations or surface habitats, or even hangars for shuttle or construction craft.

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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im extremely new to m-space and mythras in general but heres my take. im not clarence but to me the game is more of a toolset meaning it gives you the the tools and general mechainics to make the game into anything you want. if you want it to have flanges to move cargo ships around than of course it does. mayby 1 module equals i flange. it sounds like a great idea to me.

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My point about tugs was that the same drive unit would produce much less effective thrust while carrying extra bulk in the form of external modules (leaving the density/mass of bulk cargo for yet another consideration). It would be useful to have guidelines that calculate this or pre-calculate this when changing the payload significantly while in game.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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There are no rules covering tugs, but I think it's a great idea. And the rules only need a minimum of tweaking to make it work.

For flanges I would probably use 2-4 Modules (depending on the size of the ship/cargo) to ensure a strong enough connection.

Calculating the size of the engines for a tug is quite easy. Just add enough Engine Modules to match the cargo you want it to handle, in essence calculating SPEED as if the ship is much bigger. HANDLING will not be as important to raise I think, as a fully loaded tug won't need to perform any piruettes. 

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M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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On 3/11/2017 at 5:07 AM, clarence said:

As the tech is spread out through the ship, there is no actual measurement of one Module - except that it can contain a single person in space.

That makes so much more sense than the Traveller way of allocating actual space to computers, as if they were giant mainframes. :-)

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4 hours ago, scott said:

That makes so much more sense than the Traveller way of allocating actual space to computers, as if they were giant mainframes. :-)

It was the way computers were (at the time Traveller originated).

Moore's Law was only known by a few people in the late-70s / early-80s; Marc Miller doesn't seem to have been one of them (or possibly, he decided that marketing / public-perception issues would render "small computer" tech unbelievable to the buying public ... ? ) .

It will be interesting to see what 2017's high-tech misconceptions look like in 40 years' hindsight...

:D

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I find it very fascinating how early RPGs struggeled to get computers and computer use right. The way Traveller handled it feels very dated. But sometimes, especially when reading tech news on robotics and AI, I feel today we might be underestimating what technology will bring in the coming century. I mean, landing a rocket autonomously on a small barge out on the ocean - that should be impossible in my view and we can already do that. And AIs spotting cancer that human doctors can't see; where will that type of functionality take us?

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M–SPACE   d100 Roleplaying in the Far Future

Odd Soot  Science Fiction Mystery in the 1920s

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