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Saturday, April 18, 2015

P is for Pilot's Ready Room ( Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

You know you want to.
Any spacecraft that carries fighter needs a Pilot's Ready Room - if for no other reason than the reinforced walls provide containment for the egos of the pilots therein.  The real reasons is that this keeps on-duty pilots in a secure area where they can train, listen to briefings, and generally be on-call for when it's their time to strap-in and blast off.  The ready rooms are the pilots' inner sanctum, private preserve, and safe-house.  The Pilot's are probably very territorial, with even the Captain feeling about as welcome in rocket-jock territory has they do in engineering.

1. Maintenance Access:  Because there's always maintenance, including on elevators.

2. Ladder:  Because there's always maintenance, including on elevators.

3. Lift: Half a squadron's worth of pilots with their gear can cram in a lift at once.  It's probably crowded.  Fortunately, the rapid lifts can deliver the entire compliment of pilots in short order.

4. Galley:  This is much smaller than the normal crew galley or the Officer's Wardroom - it's mainly used to provide for pilots during long alerts.

5. Dining Area: A few no-frills benches and tables for eating and congregating.

6. Squadron Room:  Since the entire map can be considered one big ready room, the Squadron Rooms are mainly used for briefings, tactical schooling, and general congregating.  The rooms are more crowded than they look, as the pilots' helmets, life support rigs, and other gear were stored in here.

7. Locker Room:  This area provides lockers and showers for the pilots to use when going on- and off-duty.  The pilots flight gear is stored here when not in use.

We might as well discuss what's not pictured on this map:  Offices.  Each squadron will have a Commander, an XO, and an Information Officer, that could all use some screen time and privacy.  Logically, the locker room and galley could have been replaced with offices and been more realistic.  Still, I liked the idea of making the pilots' territory more self-contained, with potties and snacks available.  

Friday, April 17, 2015

O is for Outer Compartments (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)

Okay, I'll admit that "Outer Compartments" is a bit of a stretch, but with so many good letters already taken, I needed to get creative.  It's not like you can leave stuff out like Escape Pods, Life boats, Airlocks and Damage Control, even if you've used the letters already.  So..."Outer Compartments" it is.

1. Maintenance Access:  Same as always.

2. Lift:  The lift, coincidentally, holds the same number of people as the escape pods.   Convenient, no?

3. Ladder Access:  This also allows DC crews and bots to swarm out to different levels in the event of loss of power.

4. Main Airlocks:  These can link up to other spacecraft, and allow for mass movement of large cargo, but the main reason for the airlock to be located here is to allow the rapid deployment of damage control robots to the outer hull.  The bulky EVA suits used by engineers and techs are stored and recharged here.

5. Robot Drone Storage: Up to twenty robots can be charged and maintained in this room at one time.  There are mainly used guessed it, damage control.
6. Escape Pods:  A half-dozen, eight being pods line the exterior walls of the Outer Compartments.  The pod has rations, water, and survival gear for it's occupants for up to a week. The pod itself is short range - it can find a planet and land, and that's about it.

7. Damage Control Room:  This is one of the main emergency command posts for directing repairs during combat and other crises.  The walls are lined with lockers holding tools, emergency supplies, wiring, piping - anything you can think of to get a section of the ship running again.  There are workstations here to help coordinate robots and live crews, as well as a large view screen to display schematics to facilitate repairs on critical systems.

The thing with an area like the Outer Compartments from a Players perspective is that it's a dream come true.  The escape pods are loaded with treasure, there are lots of places to hide, and if your job is to sabotage a enemy craft, the DC central is the place to be.  You not only have access to tools to rip up anything on board, the computers have helpful blueprints to show you the place to destroy.
For GMs, the presence of twenty robots that can be remote operated or sent to "detain" pesky PCs is the mitigating factor...


Thursday, April 16, 2015

N is for Navigation (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Kicking off the second half of the April A to Z Blog Challenge is the Navigation room!  I've done a lot of work on the subject of spacecraft crew in a more realistic setting, but for large starships in science-fantasy...what the hell are all those people doing, anyway?  Thankfully, the works of people like Hans Jensson and Curtis Saxton have given me some ideas as to what all those people are doing.

My take is this:  The mass of a mile-long starship would probably be measured in giga-tons.  The typical soft-SF dodge for  moving such a mass is that the same gravity control that lets films of space adventure not spend half the budget on wire work simulating free fall can be used to lighten the amount of mass the engines push and lessen the effect of inertia, letting big ships move with those tiny rockets and practically non-existent reactant tanks.  Even with all of that, the gas in the tanks must be neutronium, metallic hydrogen, or some other exotic matter kept in what is for all practical purposes an artificial black hole - it's that dense.  I did some rough calculations once, and in order for those fancy hypermatter reactors to annihilate 40,000 tons of fuel a second the reactant used would have to have a density of 200 tons per cubic centimeter. So that has to be kept a crushing gravity on the inside and practically weightless on the outside.

No imagine moving all that crap faster than the speed of light. 

Needless to say, you're going to need a few people keeping track of all of that, in order to keep parts form reverting to their normal weight at the worst possible time.

1. Crew Pit:  This is where the business of driving that monster happens.  The Crew Pits are sunk 1.5 meters into the floor, keeping the crew distracted from all those windows.

2. Command Balcony:  This gives the commanders an unobstructed view of  consoles in the crew pits.  The Balcony is raised up seventy-five centimeters from the deck.  The sides are festooned with view screens for the benefit of the crew in the pits.  The raised platform allows the commanders to be totally distracted by all those windows.

3. "Chart Room":  FTL Navigation is bi...big chore.  The Chart Room is dominated by a massive holo table for mapping a course across the stars, a 6-meter wide viewscreen and several work stations were mass calculations and astrogation are performed.  Depending on the difficulty of astrogation in your setting, this area could just as easily be a CIC

4. Offices:  All the major department heads have offices on the Navigation Deck.  They are tiny and functional, with a single work station and stool.  Mostly, the yeoman and adjuncts do screen work in there.

5. Encryption Room:  Whenever you receive a priority message from Starfleet, or the Emperor commands you to make contact with him, this is were you answer the call.

6. Break Room:  A small conference table and refreshment alcove are available between another grouping of offices.  Not surprisingly, the senior department heads would have their office here.

7. Ladder: The two ladder wells in this area offer emergency access to the decks below.  Because this is the de facto Bridge, guards are posted in this area to watch the lifts, ladders, and corridors.

8: Lift: There are two lifts servicing the Navigation Deck, which is good for evacuating the area when those big windows in areas 1 and 2 are blown out.