Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z is for Zero-Point Induction Motivator (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Here we are:  The last post in the 2015 A to Z Blog Challlenge.  I'll be talking more about my feelings on that tomorrow. Anyway.

Zero-Point Induction Motivator is a nothing phrase that I used to represent the letter "Z" and stand in for a SFnal faster-than-light drive. 

1. Work Stations:  These could be for robot monitors, PhDs in Multi-physics, or women chanting in Welsh, depending on the setting.

2. The FTL Array:  This is where the magic happens.  Possibly literally.

3. Radiation Shielding: I put a meter and a half of barrier between the organics and the FTL.  The design also incorporates magnetic shielding.

And there you have it.  In the month of April, We have presented 26 geomorphic maps for putting together a large starship.  As time goes on, I will be making more material to go along with these maps and make a game supplement - first for D6, then maybe for Traveller and D20 as well.  We'll see.

Anyway, I had fun, thank you for visiting.  See you next April with another challenge!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y is for Yacht (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

The Penultimate!
The Captain's Yacht (or gig or personal shuttle) is found on larger starships as a personal conveyance of the commanding officer, VIPs and whatever else the plot may require. To make this a real yacht, I would add a second deck with the fancy guest quarters and amenities, while having this one just be for the crew.  But that would require another map...maybe if your good, I'll post one on my Patreon account.

1. Cockpit:  There are four stations here for the moving of the thing.

2. Escape Pod: A total of seven single-crew pods provide enough rescue vehicles for the ship's compliment to get out of dodge.

3. Ship's Locker:  Guns, Ammo, and other restricted supplies will be located in this locked closet in the cockpit.

4. Crew Quarters:  These double rooms are luxurious compared to the cramped cabins even officers endure.  You could give them bunk beds, but then there would be an escape pod deficit...

5. Fresher: There are two of them.  Their function should be self-explanatory.

6. Passenger Cabin:  These are single rooms that are otherwise identical to area 4.  The skipper of the yacht will use one, the Captain or other guest will use the other.  In the event the Captain and a VIP are aboard, the Skipper is out of luck and will bunk with the crew.

7. Galley:  It's limited service, but sufficient for the crew and passengers.  You know, there's coffee.

8. Lift:  This lift can only hold a couple of people at a time.  In a pinch, it will serve as an emergency life pod.

9. Fuel Silo:  This is one of four reactant tanks carrying the super-condensed reactants that the engines eat.  They are evenly distributed to provide load balance.

10. Lounge:  It's not much, but it has a dining area and couch. And Internet.

11. Engineering:  There are two stations here in the after sections of the yacht, as well as two dedicated drones to service the engines.  There is also ladder access to the other decks.
12. Ion Engine:  When Ion Engines became the SF standard, we didn't know that they would be so slow.  I see two options to rectify this:   The name could be either be a corruption of tachyon engine, which blasts out faster-than-light particles to get decent acceleration, or the fact that anti-gravity can negate the mass of the spacecraft makes even low-thrust drives like ion drive practical.  Take your pick.

13. FTL: These little beauties are what get our spaceship across the void in a scene change.  There are two of them, because if it fails you are stranded forever in the trackless wastes of space. 

14. Airlock:  This is the umbilical that links our yacht to the rest of the starship.  There are lockers on the yacht-side of the 'lock with EVA gear.

Tomorrow is the last A to Z Challenge post.  I don't know how to feel about that.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X is for Xenology (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Not much longer...
"Xenology" is a kind of catch-all category that can be seen as a bit of a misnomer as it does not refer to non-human sentient species - unless they are unknown to your intrepid crew.  The typical mission of the Xenology department is to study unknown plants animals and other species.  Their main purpose, however, is to contain and control unknown pathogens and diseases, as the enclosed environment of a starship presents the worst-case scenario for an outbreak.

1. Locker Room:  This changing area has more than the ususal amenities, it also includes an decon-chamber and incinerator.

2. Office/Breakroom:  There are a couple of cubicles here and a small dining area for the scientists who routinely pull all-nighters.

3. Examination chamber:  The chamber is hermetically sealed with it's its own dedicated life-support system. The chamber includes a full lab integrated with multiple drug fabricators and testing equipment.

4. Air-Lock/ Clean Room:  This room is the transition between the open areas of the ship and the quarantine zone.  The entire chamber is irradiated with UV, sprayed with disinfectant from overhead nozzles, and stocked with hazmat gear for the scientists that work therein.  There is an incinerator for used items here as well, and three dedicated service drones that are permanently assigned to work in the potentially contaminated environment.

5. Observation Room:  When ever possible, the organic scientists stay in this area and direct the service drones remotely, reducing the chances of contamination.

6. Supply Room:  The large amounts of disposable and specialty gear needed to safely work around the potentially deadly viruses and diseases in the Xenology Department require large amounts of fresh supplies to be on hand at all times.  This room is restocked as often as every four hours when the lab is in use.

7. Lift: There is nothing special about the lift itself, but it is able to open onto the outer corridor as normal or be diverted to open directly into the air-lock, so that samples can be moved directly into containment with minimal chances of contamination.  The lift would then be dropped to an Underdeck zone immediately for service and disinfecting - or in extreme cases, incineration. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for Wardroom (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Click it.
We kick off the final week of the challenge today with a look at how the other half lives.  The wardrooms area is the main congregating point for officers on a starship outside of duty.  It's where they eat, relax, and probably also where they catch up on all that paperwork they haven't done yet.
The level of opulence in this area is dependent on the nature of your setting and the nationality of your navy.  Officers are by nature an elite if not elitist group, even in aggressively democratic societies.  In older societies and countries that still have aristocracies, most officers will have a noble honorific packed in their kit to go along with their rank.  It may not carry extra privileges while on duty (just ask Lt. Winsor), but a ship full of nobs will insure some posh amenities in their inner sanctum.

1. Lift Vestibule:  Because Officers are too good for regular lifts, they get a foyer.

2. Officer's Head:  Private Potties for the overlords.  There are two either because your setting still has gender separations, or because officer's just get extra.

3. Lounge:  Officers have a private bar.  A Bar.  They have one.  Of course, during an alert or twenty-four hours prior to a mission, the liquor will be locked up, but still.
Incidentally, the stewards that operate the bar, assuming they are organics and of an entrepreneurial spirit, will be making a killing amongst the crew selling stolen hootch from the officer's pantry.  Some will get knifed for trying to pass of bathroom gin that has been put in used liquor bottles as the real deal.

4. Galley: Not where the cooks prepare the officer's meals - where the chefs prepare the officer's meals.

5. Dining area: The officers eat at more intimate tables with comfortable chairs instead of benches.  There are still a few benches and tables available - they are used by midshipmen and in emergencies as impromptu operating tables during battle.

6. Officer's Pantry:  This is basically a high-security vault, except refrigerated.  Because officers must purchase their own provisions (meals are not part of their pay), they typically stock more expensive items than the typical pantry aboard ship.  Depending on your setting, this can include a wine cellar, humidor, aquarium or any other outrageous thing you can think of.
Oh, and coffee.  Good coffee.  Like Blue Mountain or something...

7. Captain's Table: Assuming the Captain's pantry and dining room aren't attach to their quarters, this is where the CO dines with their most senior officers.  The room can be placed under a sterile field for emergency surgery during battle.

8. Medical Aid Station:  For those who didn't know, it is a tradition aboard naval ships that the wardroom be used as a surgery during battle, which is why it is proper to remove one's hat upon entrance.   During WWII, all officer's tables in the fleet were lit by surgical lamps for that very reason.  This map honors that tradition by including a medic station as part of the Wardroom.  A pair of medical drones and lockers of supplies are on hand in quantities sufficient to convert the dining area and Captain's Table into a serviceable trauma ward.
Unfortunately, the drugs kept in this area, while secured, are sufficiently valuable on the black market that unscrupulous stewards may be tempted to steal some for resale either to the crew or on shore leave.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Vehicle Maintenence (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)


While the Repair Bay is optimized to repair and fabricate large components and perform major overhauls, Vehicle Maintenance is for keeping the carried craft on a large starship in good condition.  This can be air/rafts, land- or air speeders, or shuttle craft - whatever floats your anti-gravity vehicle.

See what I did there?

1. Heavy Robot Storage:  Extra large charging alcove allow the industrial drones used in the maintenance bay.

2. Drone Storage:  The regular repair drones are stored and charged here.  In addition, a large window and monitor station are also located here, for supervising the repair process.

3. Vehicle Bay:  Three bays can be used simultaneously to repair and maintain vehicles.  There is a work pit located in the bay, accessed by a flight of stairs.

4. Maintenance Alcove:  This is where the supplies used in keeping vehicles in fighting trim are located.  Spare parts, tanks of fluid and coolant, and other items are stored here.

5. Industrial Robot: Heavy duty robots are used to move bulky items, storage tanks, and even impromptu jacks to move inoperative machinery.  They are controlled from the same stations the regular drone are, in area 2. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

U is for "Underdecks" (A to Z Blog Challenge)

Hey, it's that thing you are!
So, where is all the plumbing?  The elevator shafts, the air ducts, the wiring, the water pipes?  Let's be honest, in starships design for many years, you were doing good just to have bathrooms, but all of the other incidentals that make life possible?  well...

This map is made to represent what goes on under the main decks.  On those mile-long monsters that Space Opera is fond of, I would even make every other deck one of these, or at least 2 out of every 5.  Underdeck space like this also gives characters a way to move through the bowels of the ship (no matter how high or low they are) and interact in an environment that is not made for safe passage.  It's a trade off: Do you use the main halls and risk running into...everybody,  or do you take to the lower passages and risk getting squished, burned, mauled by machinery or shredded by a particularly dim cleaning and maintenance bot?  These kind of "rock-vs-hard-place" decisions are some of the things that make dungeon crawls so interesting...

1. Lift: This particular lift is in a service/standby niche, ready to zip into the system so you can have an elevator car ready right after the last one left, like on all those SF television shows.

2. Horizontal Shaft: These cross-tunnels are what allow the lift cars to traverse across as well as up and down.  The shaft is access able for servicing, but is usually kept in a vacuum in order to increase car speed.  Because there is no sound in vacuum, a faint vibration is all the warning interloper get before a lift car slams into them.

3. Air duct:  These are the main, super-wide atmosphere circulators that keep fresh air moving in the enclosed spaces of a starship. The ducts are reinforced and able to carry the weight of maintenance crews and robots, and are used as the de facto access passages in the Underdeck areas.

4. Algae tanks:  Thousands of gallons of genetically modified algae are circulated through a half-dozen holding tanks in this compartment, where they filter the air and convert the crews waste into edible biomass.  It's not the most tasty fare in the galaxy, but the enlisted troops eat a lot of "mystery" protein that began in one of these tanks.

5. Trash Compactor:  All non-biological waste ends up in one of these giant garbage mashers eventually, after having all recyclables removed by robots and automatic processes, the remainder is compressed into blocks and jettisoned into open space. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T is for Tractor Beam Array (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Here you go.
Tractor beams are another one of those SF mainstays that are hard to inflict realism upon.  I've given it a try, but mainly came up with some techno-babble that may or may not make a lick of sense.  Oh, well. 

Tractor Beams are used for a variety of purposes.  They can tow large objects, be used to trap smaller starships in gun range so you can pound on them, and my favorite new use:  Slowing down star fighters.  The tractor beams can project field of gravitic disturbance around their starship that slow fighters down.  In addition, The waves of mass displacement change the inertial characteristics of spacecraft, causing drag -  meaning that fighters in proximity to capital ships with tractor beams operate more like planes in atmosphere that spacecraft.

...hey, how would you explain ships that should be moving at half the speed of light in a vacuum banking off of nothing at only half the speed of sound?

1. Beam targeting and control:  Thanks to the massive number-crunching done at the Sensor Substation, the main function of targeting and control is to determine how many emitters should be focused on a single target.  This is tricky - the beams can only run at max power for so long, and an enemy spacecraft's velocity and tonnage must be considered.

2. View Port:  There are viewports overlooking the turrets in the array.  They can be polorized and shuttered if necessary.

3. Secondary Turret:  These are faster but have a more narrow and weaker field of effect.  They are useful for stopping a flight of missiles and are often given over for point-defense.  They can even be fire-linked with the QuiD Cannons for devastating effect. 

4. Primary Tractor Beam:  This massive, turreted emitter is large enough - and powerful enough - to yank a small frigate off course or an entire wing of star fighters.  In concert with the pair of secondary turrets, even cruisers cannot pass with impunity.

5. Lift:  You didn't think I'd forget, did you?

Tomorrow, I will actually have something new to say about the lifts, as the next map will show little seen areas of a spacecraft. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Sensor Substation (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Without sensors, a ship is blind and deaf in the Black Desert of Space.  With sensors, everyone sees everything.  There doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground...

The concept of "Stealth in Space" is one of  the mainstays of science fiction, and one of the most inaccurate.  We'll get FTL and teleportation before we get a practical cloaking device.  That's just the way it is.  Something as small as the Space Shuttle can be seen on IR from here to Pluto - there's no way you're hiding a mile-long dreadnaught with a hyper matter reactor.  The only thing that makes any kind of "stealth" remotely possible in science fiction with any kind realism is the fact that high traffic situations, areas of space full of beam spam or subject to a Macross missile massacre will be so full of obvious data that figuring out which proverbial needle in the stack of needles is your target will be a non-trivial problem.

1.Maintenence Access: This has a lot more import than in some other areas - the data cables needed to move the deluge of information feeds need a lot of love and care.

2.Ladder: Again, the ladder well is also full of electrical junctions and whatnot, making it another de facto  maintenance accesss.

3. Lift: ...I can't really think of anything new to say about Lifts.

4. Integrators:  There are two of these - one for weapons control, one for navigation - that integrate all of the data produced by the other computers and workstations in the Sensor Substation.  The amount of data going through this station on a constant basis is so massive that only cyborgs and robots are able to keep up.

5. Secure Servers:  Most SF starships have massive computer cores.  This is because the idea of central computers was developed in Star Trek and other SF before mainframes were replaced by modern networks.  Realistically, a starship's computer system would be a web of interconnected servers that provide disbursed information processing and multiple redundancy.  So this bank of servers are where most of the number crunching for the sensors is done.

6. Clean Room: The tech that work on the servers must change in this space before entering the ultra-sterile server room.

7. Sensor Masts:  These are modular and handle multi-spectrum light, radiation, and gravitic detection.

8. Crew Pit:  The sunken level next to the outer bulkhead is full of processing stations and sensor monitors.  These can be monitored by robots, but human monitors are more effective at programming the computers and prioritizing data processing.  The stations are redundant and often perform the same routines simultaneously -  the better to prevent lapses in concentration or minor glitches from causing vital data to be lost. 
      The other function of the sensor substation's crew pit is to provide targeting and fire control for the Kinetic weapons on board.

9. Offices/Break Room: The rigors of manning the sensor stations require frequent breaks in order to assure maximum alertness.  In addition, the supervisors of the sensor substation have offices here.

10. Outer Hull:  Like the hull around the defensive cannons, the skin of the ship around the sensors is of necessity thinner than the armored sectors elsewhere.   In order to split the deference between thick skins and sharp eyes, the sensors are usually kept inside "trenches" with the QuiD Cannons to protect them.  Of course, the energy from the cannons will interfere with the sensors....

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R is for Repair Bay (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)

Can you click me now?  Good!

Some times things breaks down.  The Repair Bay is where large equipment  and small spacecraft can be broken down and put back together again. 

1. Locker Room:  This is a place where workers and maintenance crew can change and wash up.  The extra large shower can be used for communal washing but is mainly for emergency decontamination.

2. Workshop: Workspace, fabricators, and the like are found here.  The Workshop can fabricate new parts and materials if needed, from circuit boards to new tools.  Robots, computers and other machines are routinely services in similar compartments.

3. Alcove: Miscellaneous cargo, parts, and other gear are kept in these alcoves out of the way.  It's close enough to get to easily, and far enough out of the way to not be a hazard.

4. Monitor Stations: A pair of monitor stations are on either side of the main work space, which control the gantry, elevator, and allow techs to pull up information in a hurry.

5. Elevator:  This massive slab of insulated metal sits on anti-gravity nodes and is used to move  large cargos and construction projects from deep storage or the hangers up into the Repair Bay.

6. Gantry:  When magnetic or gravitic systems are being repaired, using anti-grav cranes is unreliable and dangerous,  this old-fashioned gantry can haul heavy loads from any point in the Repair Bay to where it is needed.

7. Maintenance Drone Bay:  A half-dozen repair bots are housed in this compartment, where they are recharged.  For servicing, the drones can simply be taken to the workshop.

8. Office/ Breakroom: There are a pair of offices in this space that can be used by supervisors or assistants to organize work orders and information.  There is a small rest area as well, and yes, that includes coffee.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Q is for Quick Defence Cannons (Stgar Morphs A to Z Challenge)

This map was done Saturday afternoon.  It rained all weekend.  I have satellite internet, so it was impossible to load ahead of time.  Then, Sunday night, the web browser stops working.  Completely.  I spent most of the morning downloading a new one onto my portable hard-drive using my daughter's lap-top.  The part that messes with me the most:  This map was the most complex I've done for the challenge yet, and it was done early.


Anyways, this map shows a bank of Quick - Defense laser cannons, suitable for protecting a large capital ship from bothersome fighters and frigates and things.  The deck has three pressure doors that open it to space - if your setting allows, have the ports protected by  atmosphere containment fields.  If not, the assume the entire deck is depressurized during combat.
1. Maintenance Access:  On a deck like this, maintenance is critical.  Depressurized versions of the QuiD Cannon deck will have a gas-tight door covering the access.

2. Ladder:  Like above, the depressurized versions of this deck will have gas-tights that seal off the ladder, which will restrict access.

3. Lift:  Assuming all your lifts are like mini-life pods (many SF settings imply this), the lift should have no trouble delivering crew to the depressurized QuiD Deck.  That being said, it will not open with unsuited crew inside if there is no pressure on the outside.  Safety first!

4. Anti-Starfighter Laser Turret:  These are the fastest tracking guns on the ship, and small transports use under powered versions as anti-pirate defenses. If it weren't for the fact that combat tractor beams are constantly sweeping the perimeter of the capital ship in an effort to slow down and deflect missile weapons, starfighters would be far to fast to target with something that relies on human reaction time.  Now you know.

5. Medium Defensive Battery:  These are the guns most beings think of when they hear the term" QuiD Cannon".  The battery consists of three medium laser cannons that are mounted on rails, allowing them to deploy for combat and then retract for servicing.  The cannon can traverse and elevate in their gunports with a fair degree of freedom, allowing the QuiD Cannons to cover a wide area of the ship's hull.

6. Capacitor Banks:  Each gun is fed by half a dozen capacitors, allowing them to function under constant fire for the early salvos in an engagement.  The Capacitors feed into the cannon mounting rail, making these rails a hazard when the guns are in use.

7. Monitor Stations:  These stations monitor temperature and power flow to the cannons, as well as integrate targeting information from local sensors and the main array.  When released from central direction, these stations provide the QuiD battery's local control.  The Battery Captain will be posted here.

8. Outer Hull:  Logically, the hull around the gunports would be thickly armored and well shielded.  In reality, the needs of mounting back-up sensor nodes, heat sinks, radiators, tractor beams, and of course, the interference between full combat shields and atmosphere containment systems make the hull around the QuiD systems notoriously thin-skinned.  

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.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

M is for Mess Hall ( Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)


Today's Star Morph marks a notable moment in the April A to Z Blog Challenge:  We are at the half-way point.  To celebrate, let's eat at the Mess Hall!

1. Maintenance Access: Doing its part to keep the elevator running smoothly.

2. Ladder: For when Area 1 fails to do so.

3. Lift:  Since most of the barracks spaces that the Mess Hall here services are on the same deck, the main use of the Lift is to transport supplies from the cargo spaces.  Also, since the barracks map does not feature lifts of its own, it can be assumed the residents use these.

4. Refers/Pantry: The refrigerators store all the perishable foodstuffs needed for the preparation of meals, and the pantry stores everything else.  Including coffee.

5. Dining Area:  There are a dozen eight-seat tables available for meals, meaning an entire barracks' worth of Troopers can eat at the same time.

6. Galley:  The medial wall is dominated by service line running its entire length that allows crewers to be served cafeteria style.  The interior galley space is full of cooking apparel and appliances for robots and living crew to make meals on a more-or-less constant basis.  Including coffee.

7. Scullery/Recycling:  Used trays and utensils are deposited here, to be cleaned and racked for later use.  The food waste is either recycled via enzymatic breakdown, or fed to algae, or insinerated and fed into matter converters.  Whatever your SF universe does with trash.

I've been thrilled at all the positive responses to this series.  Glad everyone is enjoying the maps.  Tomorrow, we continue with the second half of the alphabet as the A to Z Challenge continues.  See you then!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

L is for Laser Turret (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)

What's all this then?
There are guns and there are GUNS.  The map we're look at today is for the big ones, the melt-the-crust-of-a-planet ones.  This entire map is designed to fit inside an enormous laser turret, between the twin barrels of terra-joule death.

They're big guns.

1. Capacitor Bank:  This massive capacitor stores the energy needed to fire the big gun and also functions as a surge protector for when the laser installation is tied directly into the main reactor.  The Capacitor Bank has a central tower surrounded by a catwalk that uses safety rails due to the magnetic interference of such a powerful energy flux .

2. Power Control:  Each capacitor bank has a two monitor stations to careful regulate power flow and usage.  These allow fine variations in the amount of damage the laser can do - from long-range shots that fry sensors to blasts that liquefy metal.

3. Local Fire Control: This armored compartment allows for direct control of the weapon system by troopers on the scene.  The outside has large, thick viewports for close-in visual targeting, and there are several banks of control stations that can elevate each barrel independently, in addition to rotating the turret.  Behind the fire control computers are a pair targeting computers that monitor the main sensors the turret's local sensor grid.  These stations select targets and feed the info to fire control.  the central station is the Gun Captain's.

4. Lift:  This links the turret to the rest of the ship.

5.Ladder:  This offers emergency access to the turret, and is larger than the normal ladders throughout the rest of the ship, so that DC supplies, robots, and other equipment can be moved if needed.

Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Kinetics (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)

Not all spaceships in popular science fiction use only beam weapons to vaporize the bad guys.  There are many spacecraft, like those in Star Trek or Traveller, that use torpedoes or missiles of some kind.  This requires space for the storage, movement, and launching of same.  These types of weapons are all loosely grouped in the category of "Kinetics".

 1. Launcher:  This installation is basically a short-barreled mass driver - or long-barreled, depending on what kind of ordinance you have and how far from the outer hull this compartment is.  The Launchers are massive, bulky and maintenance intensive.

 2. Catwalks:  These are as wide as a standard corridor, and the simple metal grates allow visual inspection of the areas beneath.  Stairs on either end take the Catwalks up and over the launchers.  Because of the power magnetic interference caused by the launcher and the simple metal grate of the Catwalks, there are hand rails for safety instead of gravity anchors in the flooring.

3. Monitor Station:  Allows tracking of all ordinance and diagnostics of all equipment in the Kinetics compartment.  In a pinch, the missiles can be loaded and launched locally from these stations as well.

4. Magazine:  Sixteen missiles are stored in two bays below the catwalks.  The missiles are mounted on small cradles that ride on rails from the Magazine to the launchers.  The cradles are motorized but can be moved manually (or more realistically by robots) if necessary.

5. Launch Chamber:  This is where the missile sits prior to launch in the mass-driver.  This chamber is reinforced and can actually withstand the force of repeated rocket launches from the missiles in the event that the mass-drivers lose power.  This will, however, ruin the magnetic couplers and capacitors in the Launch Chamber, requiring that they be replaced before the mass-driver will function again.  In addition, the venting reactant gasses from a rocket launch will flood the entire compartment, making visibility difficult and breathing without special gear impossible.

The Kinetics compartment has a lot of hazards you don't normally see and can easily show players how much they take basics like gravity, breathable atmosphere, and the power of sight for granted.  For an added bonus, the powerful magnetic fields of the mass-drivers can interfere with the functioning of beam weapons, making conventional firearms or melee combat necessary.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

J is for Jr. Officer's Quarters (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)


Not everyone in a big starship crew will be housed in communal barracks - rank hath it's privileges, after all.  For those higher up the totem pole, we have this nice block of Quarters.  The entry calls these "Jr. Officers' Quarters" but that's because I needed a "J" These rooms can be used by anyone from Able Spacers to department heads, depending on the number of occupants and the amenities included.

1. Stateroom Block:  This is really all there is to this map - row after row of staterooms clustered together in small blocks.  There are eight such blocks in this area.

The Staterooms are pretty basic, as befits the Spartan nature of military.  Each has a bunk with built-in storage, and a work station in the corner.  One quarter of the block is given over to the fresher, which is shared by the three state rooms.

The number of occupants depends the rank of those occupants.  Enlisted spacers are housed three to a room in triple bunks, while senior spacers and the proverbial junior officers are housed in double bunks.  Senior Officers would have a private room, of course.

Like I said, there's no much to this map, other than a bunch of rooms.  The use of this kind of map is that it provides  the enterprising party of gamers can find a all kinds of "treasure" in these quarters.  Even better, they offer lots of hiding places, both for PCs and their enemies.

So anyway, that's it for week two of the A to Z Challenge.  We will continue with Kinetics to the Outer Compartments next week.  See you then!

Friday, April 10, 2015

I is for Ion Cannon Control (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

There are a lot of good blogs out there taking the Challenge...
As the title says, "I" is for "Ion Cannon Control", but this map can really be used for any medium sized beam turret you setting supports.  The main thing I wanted to capture with this map is that for every beam emplacement you see on a ship's surface, there is a lot going on under the hull to make it work.  Let's take a look:

1. Outer Hull:  This is the dorsal surface of whatever starship you happen to be on.  If you are in this area without a vacc-suit, you are going to have a bad day.

2. Turret:  This is the generic double beam turret of your choice.  It's about ten meters in diameter (Suitable for Corvettes) and occupies about a hundred tons of liquid hydrogen displacement, for those of you who measure things that way.

3. Local Control Platform:  This is a raised section of the deck accessible by a pair of stairs with control consoles facing four large viewports that give a direct view of the turret beyond. When the turret is under local control, these stations can direct the turret's rotation and elevation, as well as its intensity.  Up to four crew can be stationed here, but only two or even one are necessary, especially if robots are monitoring the outside two consoles. A safety rail goes across the platform.

4. Catwalk: Higher up than the Control Platform is a maintenance catwalk that surrounds the compartment.  A pair of shallow stairs connect the platform to the catwalk, while a pair of steep stairs just inside the door go all the way to the main deck. A safety rail goes all the way around the catwalk.

5. Capacitors:  A half-dozen engine-grade power capacitors occupy most of the space on the main deck.  They reach floor to ceiling and have narrow catwalks that connect to the main maintenance catwalk.  The main catwalk's safety rails are gated to allow access to the capacitors.

6. Retractable walkway:  There are two pairs of these walkways that can be extended to connect the center capacitors with those on either side.  During normal operation, the walkways are extended for inspection and maintenance.  During combat, they are retracted to prevent static discharges across the capacitor banks.

7. Power Control:  A pair of monitor stations keep track of power fluctuations in the capacitors and help regulate the beam cannon's power output.  From these stations, power can be routed directly from the ship's main reactor or secondary reactors to the turret, bypassing the capacitor banks.  This turbo-charges the beam bay, at the risk of blowing out the optics or frying the delicate electronics.

For those of us who haven't studied up on how big naval guns operate, it is rare for any individual turret to be under local control in normal combat operations.  There is at the very least a central gun director tied into the main sensors that can aim every turret on the ship at a single target, or assign targets to the turrets.  This is far more precise than using local control and allows concentrated fire.  Some game system only allow up to ten or a dozen turrets to be fire linked by a single director, and some only allow weapons of a certain type to be linked, so there can be multiple gun director stations on a spacecraft.  Local control is seen as a last resort, when the gun director or main sensors are knocked out.  In this event, the turret's gun captain takes over, uses the turret's built-in sensors, and directs fire at the bridge's direction or at their own discretion, depending on how deep in the kacky they happen to be.

On that happy note, I wish you all a good day and look forward to more alphabetical goodness tomorrow.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

H is for Hospital ( Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Here we are again, RocketFans.  Today, H is for Hospital, because some sort of medical center is absolutely vital on a large spacecraft.  Normally, this complex is called a Medical Bay, or Sickbay...but I needed "M" and "S" for other things.  So.

1. Medical Drone Hold:  This compartment stores, charges, and allows for the routine maintenance of the Hospital's medical robots.  There are about half a dozen charging up in here at any given time.  There is a monitor station where a tech can keep an eye on the robots as they work.

2. Nurse's Station: There are two of these, offering oversight on all patients in the Hospital.  The monitor stations can access vital signs and other important medical information, as well as assign the drone robots to their various chores.

3. Exam Room:  The first stop for most patients, this room can hold three people with enough room for doctors, nurses, and robots to work.  Each alcove has a wall of storage cabinets that hold basic medical necessities.

4. General Ward:  Convalescent, Recovery - this ward is for any patients in stable condition that still need constant monitoring.  There is sterile UV lighting to prevent the spread of infection, and the ward is constantly monitored.
This is where normal healing happens.

5. Regen Ward:  Whether your Science Fiction Universe uses magic goo made by space bugs, cloned body parts, or even rapid prototypers for cybernetic replacement organs, It can all go on in this compartment.  There is room for eight patients in the tanks (or room to manufacture parts for eight patients, whatever), a medical bed, and a monitor station for supervising the procedures.  Pressurized tanks of magic goo feed the main treatment tanks, and grates in the floor handle drainage and spillage.
This is where faster than normal healing happens.

6. OR:  This operating room is in a sterile field at all times.  There is room for three patients at once for minor procedures, but major operations can require the entire room to hold the medical team and special equipment.  There are storage lockers for special equipment along the walls.
This is where dying players are stabilized and begin healing.

7. Offices:  The Doctors and staff have four office cubicles for their use, as well as a small lounge area with refreshment alcove.
This is where nothing happens.

The thing about areas like the Hospital in a classic "Dungeon Crawl" - even if the dungeon is a spaceship - is that they provide much needed opportunity for healing damage, both for attackers and defenders.  A Character or NPC with any kind of medical training can get bonuses to healing checks just by being in the Hospital, since there are SFnal sterile force fields and lots of supplies.  Often, medical robots that are smart enough to treat patients are not smart enough to recognize good guys and bad guys, so invading forces can get basic treatment even if no medic is among them.  Of course, if it's your ship, then the invaders get this advantage too.  Firefights in and around the medical area suck, as a stray shot has a better-than-even chance of hitting a non-combatant.

That's all for today.  Tomorrow we continue.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

G is for Gym (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

More Blogs

Okay, so imagine you're a SpecOp team infiltrating one of the Evilz's mile-long Dreadnaughts.  You're going through an endless maze of corridors, substations, and regional command posts.  You carefully open the gastight to the next compartment, and are confronted by...A bunch of Shock Troops in their underwear?  Looks like you finally got the drop on the bad guys!

1. Locker Room: This area is full of changing benches and storage lockers for clothes and gear.  And the occasional Shock Trooper in their underwear...

2. Communal Fresher:  Includes a communal shower.  (Shudder)....

3. Storage Room: This room typically holds game gear and mats, and other gym equipment.

4. Exercise Machines: The walls of the main exercise floor are lined with weight machines, treadmills and the like.  The gravity between the pillars on these wall sections can be adjusted to make for especially rigorous workouts.

5. Exercise Floor:  This is the main workout area in the gym.  the floor is marked off with the patterns used in popular sports, as well as several sparring circles for unarmed combat drills.

Tomorrow we will continue the A to Z Challenge with H...for Hospital!

....M and S we already taken...


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

F is for Forum (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)

You know what to do.
Here we are RocketFans with another map for your gaming pleasure:  The Forum!

This entry into our Star Morphs A to Z Challenge is a little different in that it lacks defined spaces.  Each of the four rooms on the map are exactly the same in size shape and placement oft he doors, and can therefore be used interchangeably.  The Map also has two "Wild" corridors in the center, in order to give the Forum the maximum number of possible combinations of placement.  The basic point of this map is to connect other, more well-defined Star Morph together in interesting ways, and as an homage to the Tantive IV's endless hallways connected by rooms of doors.  In this case, I did try to make the map a little more useful.

The main fun with a map as generic as the Forum is when random tables come into play.  As I've said before, eventually each Star Morph map will have random tables of encounters that can be used for solo-, GM-less-, or random-play.  In the case of the Forum, the randomness can extend to the function of the rooms themselves, even to the theme of the rooms themselves, depending of the type of spacecraft or installation the gamer is trying to map.

Say we make a simple D6 table of general functionsw, first off.  Like this:

1. Military
3. Medical
4. Academic

These are just some ideas I came up with off the top of my head.  If we then make a table of room usage based on, say, the military option, you could have guard posts, briefing rooms, staging areas, and the like.  If it were a commercial map, the rooms could simply be different shops, with maybe some tables scattered around in the open space for a food-court.  The "Support" entry gives the GM the option of including all those spaces you know any base or spaceship needs, but almost never see mapped:  uniform supply, barbershop, dental office, canteen, etc.

Again, all of these ideas are just me spit-balling.  The point of the un-defined space is to leave a few rooms for the stuff the GM already wants to include in a game and the other Star Morphs don't necessarily have a area for.  After all, the point of using something like these maps is to give gamers options, not box them in.

No pun intended.

Tomorrow will see us publish another Star Morph, and write another post.  See you then.

Monday, April 6, 2015

E is for Engineering Substation (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)

Part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge

When you need more power, or to disable the tractor beam, or to bring the main reactor back online at because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, you need an engine room to do it in.  On large spacecraft, like the mile-long dreadnaughts of the Space Opera genre, this map is only of an Engineering Substation.  On smaller spacecraft, like fast sporty models designed to run blockades, this could be Main Engineering.  Let's take a look:

1. Lift:  Up to six Engineers with radiation armor can fit in the lift at once, or a four-crew Damage Control Party with all their equipment.

2. Monitor room:  All this open-air room overlooks the drop into the maintenance shaft of the main reactor.  The consoles have interface ports for robots to log-in and monitor the system at all times.

3. "Circuit Breakers" is the common slang for the main electrical routing systems located here.  They are also open to the maintenance shaft.

4: Retractable Walkways:  These walkways connect the peripheral stations to the central capacitors  and regulator towers.  They do not have rails, but are equipped with magnetic surfaces for safety.

5. Capacitor:  One of two in the Substation.  The open shaft is in micro-gravity at all times, while the narrow walkways have full gravity for convenience.

6. Regulator Tower:  This is the main discharge port for overloads from he reactor, and there is an almost constant beam of power from eh top of the tower into static discharge ports.  Many functions of the reactor itself can be influenced by adjusting the settings of the Regulator Tower.

In many large spacecraft, there will several of the substations stacked on top of one another over a maintenance shaft.  Because of the lack of gravity, Characters that are proficient in Zero-Gee maneuvering can "fly" from one level of the starship to another through the maintenance shaft if the need arises.

Which would look pretty cool.

Stay tuned tomorrow and the rest of the week for more map-y goodness as we continue are Star Morph A to Z Challenge!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

D is for Detention Level (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Click here.
If your players are anything like mine back in the day, they flount the law with assumed impunity.  Even if they are all Paladins (or Jedi, or Ambassadors of the Imperium) they may have cause to visit or even break someone out of jail.  So you need a jail.

Enter the Detention Level...

1. Security Alcove: This air-lock style corridor is lined with cameras, sensors, and weapons detectors.  Any unauthorized personnel are locked inside while reinforcements get into position.  If needed, the alcove can be gassed.

2. Security Monitor:  This position is always manned and a roving guard keeps look out on the three corridors that open into this area.  The two security consoles are the only way to open the cells beyond.

3. Guard Room:  There is a refreshment alcove, lounge table, and computer console in this area.  there are always at least two guards in the area, and the door is transparent to allow an unobstructed view.

4. Detention Cells:  24 individual cells are divided into three halls, each of which is a half level below the main deck.  The upper areas are filled with surveillance equipment, gas jets, noise machines, and other instruments of torture and control. 

5. Crawlspaces: There are a pair of utility crawlspaces in this area that service the plumbing needs of the cells, and leads to a centralized garbage disposal.

That's it for the first week of the A to Z Blog Challenge, RocketFans!  Next week we will tackle Engineering through Kinetics.  See you then!


Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Captain's Cabin and Conference (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)


Sorry this one is a little late.  Yesterday was very hectic, and I did not get the chance to do stuff ahead of time like I wanted to.

Well, I actually did have the chance, I just sat here like a lump and stared at the screen and didn't do anything.  You know how it is.

Anyway.  "C" is for "Conference Room".  Or "Captain's Cabin". 

This Star Morph is of a senior administrative level, suitable for putting right next to a starship bridge or whatnot. 

1. Access Ladder:  This alcove connects the Conference Room to the decks above and below in case the lift is malfunctioning.

2. Maintenance Alcove: Robots and organics use this area to repair the computer subsystems and lift machinery on this level.

3. Lift: At ten feet in diameter, the lift can hold up to six fully armed and armored troops if needed.  Be careful...

4. Captain's Suite: These rooms are for the ship's Commander. On larger spacecraft, a suite of this size could be used by department heads or the ship's XO.  The door opens into a large office/lounge space, and beyond that there is a bedroom and private bath, with a large storage closet. 

5. Conference Room: This area is dominated by a large meeting table with an open center so that holograms can be projected, or it may be used individuals invited to speak.  For a Junior Officer or Crewer, being ordered to debriefings - or worse, hearings - in the Conference Room is known as standing in "The Ring of Fire".  There are two monitor consoles for stenographers and a small refreshment alcove.

6. Head: Because there need to be a bathroom, dammit!

7. Office Bloc:  This suite is configured into office space for three officers, most likely the XO and other department heads.  Each office features a desk with a dedicated computer console just behind.  Two of the offices have refreshment alcoves, and are use by the more senior officers.

Of special note on this map are the two "W" corridors in the center of the long axis.  These are extra opening that allow a Star Morph to be centered on top of another, in a "T" shape.  Only a few of the Morphs will have these, and because they are extras they are marked with a "W" for "Wild".  According to the evolving rules for using Star Morphs, when a map with Wild corridors is pulled, the player has the option of using those corridors instead of rolling to see what fits where.

Tomorrow is the last post of the week, and it will be brought to us by the letter "D", the number "4" and will most likely not feature any Sesame Street or other Muppets references.

Most likely.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

B is for Barracks (Star Morph A to Z Challenge)

Here we are again, RocketFans with our next installment in the A to Z Blog Challenge.  Today, we tackle the letter "B" and "B" is for "Barracks"!

The Barracks is a mainstay of any military installation, on land, sea, or in space.  At it's most basic it is a sleeping area for low-ranking crew, though more advanced Barracks can provide limited training and entertainment services as well.

1. Laundry: This cramped area has washing units and folding table space for the soldiers assigned to the barracks to clean their uniforms.  Due to the small size of the area, there is usually uniforms being laundered at all hours.

2. Communal Bathroom: This is one of two bathrooms located in the barracks for use of the assigned soldiers.  Like the Laundry, this rooms is almost always occupied, with the time before duty shifts and inspections being the most congested.

3. Bay: Rack after rack of sleeping berths fill this area.  There is bunk space for a total of ninety-six troopers, with triple-tiered beds arranged in four rows of eight.  Even in the dead of night, the space is warm and rich with the sounds - and smells - of almost a hundred soldiers living in close quarters.

4. Sergeant's Quarters:  This is a four - berth compartment for the use of the section leaders of the barrack's troops.  The space has single bunks, which is a luxury, and two computer consoles, which are not.  The Sergeants who share this room are active at any given moment doing screen-work or other administrative details their officers delegate.  The area also has an exclusive latrine, which the Sergeants themselves are responsible for.  An especially embarrassing punishment for grunts is having to clean the Sergeant's Head...

...And because I love you dear , "B" is also for "Bonus"...

Bonus Map!  You're welcome.
The racks of bunks can be nested together to create a large open space in the center of the barracks bay.  This space is used for training, servicing equipment, and of course, endless rounds of physical training. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the maps and tune in tomorrow, RocketFans, when we continue adding maps to our Star Morph collection.  See you then!