Thursday, January 5, 2017

Starcruiser: Basic Assumptions

     Happy New Year, RocketFans!  Work on Issue 02 of LAUNCH WINDOW is going along at a good pace, and so is the rules update for Issue 01.  It feels good to be on a sustainable schedule.  Part of that goodness is the ability to indulge in some blogging, and working on one of my favorite projects: Ship design!
Basic Assumptions
     Just so we're all on the same page, the Starcruiser is a design for a setting that mimics that of either the Far Future, or a Galaxy Far, Far Away. But really, I design in my own head-cannon type setting, so these assumptions won't necessarily fit completely into a setting you're familiar with.  The important thing is that this Starcruiser can be statted easily in D6 and 2D6 systems - you can go from there on your own.
     From a purely world-building perspective, these are the basic assumptions involved with the design of this starcruiser:

  • The Starcruiser is designed in a setting where organics will always be superior to robots for combat purposes, because organics are all attuned to "Fate". This is why we have people crew, pilots, gunners, sensor operators etc.
  • Anti-grav and Paragrav tech allows huge ships to land on planets and get away with absurd mass ratios.
  • Shield technology is advanced enough that capital ships have to get to near point-blank range and batter away at one another with broadsides, Lord Nelson-style
  • Tractor beams are used to slow down missiles and enemy fighters flying around capital ships to WWII dog fighting speeds, and organic gunners can take pot-shots at them with a reasonable chance at success.
  • There is FTL.  Obviously.
     So that's generic to the Setting - any ship in the Setting would follow those assumptions.  The starcruiser will also have a few assumptions unique to it's class and type:
  • Capable of independent, long-range cruises.  It is a cruiser, after all...  This not only means having fuel for long cruises, but supplies, food, ammunition, spares, and everything else you need to fly and fight a ship in space. 
  • Multi-role design.  The starcruiser has to be capable in many mission types. So it has a a wing of Starfighters, a battalion of Espaciers, and a big gun capable of shore/planetary bombardment
  • Fleet capability.  A starcruiser must be able to hold it's own in a fleet formation.  It will have to have a primary armament capible of hurting a Capital ship, and secondary armament fast enough to track and deal with lighter elements and fighters.  The starcruiser will sometimes operate in a cruiser squadron, or as the flagship of another type of squadron.  It must have facilities for flag officers and their staff. 
     Now that the assumptions are out of the way, lets briefly touch on the steps needed to actually design and build the craft.  I'm not talking about the game mechanics of stating a ship or design sequences or anything - I mean, how does one actually go about designing a warship?
   Step Zero:  Meta-considerations: I added this pre-step because not only does each SF setting have it's own design aesthetics, the Starcruiser in particular is made to look a a certain class of starship.  Therefore, all other design considerations must conform to the classic spearhead design.
 Step One: Weapons: Since Henry VIII commisioned the Mary Rose, Warships are designed in terms of their primary weapons systems first and formost.  For Battleships, that big honking gun turrets, for carriers, its a flight deck, and hangar. For starships, it can mean a Spinal Mounted BFG.  OUr starcruiser happens to have all of these, as a multi-role ship.  these systems take up the most amount of space in the hull.

Step Two: Propulsion:  The point of a mobile weapons platform is that it's mobile. This requires large engines, larger reactors, and huge amount of fuel.  Next to the weapons, these systems take up the most space.

Step Three: Sensors, and Cargo: These two don't have anything to do with each other, but both are important. Cargo spaces are pretty much a measure how long you can cruise in space without re-supply.  Sensors, obviously tell you where you are and where you're going, but perhaps less obviously, are the most important part of the weapons systems that don't involve guns.  Sensors are how the CIC knows what to shoot, and how the gun directors figure out the angles, ranges and intensities needed to hit those targets.
     As you can see, the space inside even the largest hulls fills up fast.  This is just big machinery and the minimum crew compartments to fly and fight the ship.  There are as yet no barracks, no mess halls, not gyms or sickbays - this is just the fighting spaces. 
     But I'm in love with it already.  


  1. Ray, could you point out what the different parts area? Some I get, but others are ambiguous. Are the big cones reactors or fuel? Is the big green cylinder the reactor or part of the BFG? Are the gray rectangles hangars or fuel (if they're hangars, the launch areas seem far larger than they need to be).


    1. Good point. I'll work up a labeled pic in a bit and post it.


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