Savage Scoutships

The scoutship is a venerable SF stereotype; the Classic Traveller Type S, Jack Vance’s Type 9B Locator, the craft flown by Eric Frank Russell’s scouts, the Runabouts from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and so forth. If there’s a ship I know well, this is it. So it’s a good place to start from in exploring ship design. Let’s try the Type S under the SF Companion and High-Space.

SFC SCOUTSHIP

The scoutship needs to be Small, so that it can be operated by one person. That gives a base cost of $2M and 20 available Mod slots, which I’ll use up as follows:

  • Atmospheric: 3 Mods, $300K.
  • Crew Space x 2: 2 Mods, $200K. Allows for 8 crew members.
  • FTL Drive: 3 Mods, $12M.
  • Garage/Hangar: 4 Mods, $1M. Allows for one vehicle up to size 8. (Hmm. In the Rules As Written, that could be another scoutship, which in turn could have a garage with another scoutship…)

The final statblock is:

Small Starship: Acc/TS 50/700, Climb 3, Toughness 20 (5), Crew 1, Cost $15.5M.

Remaining Mods: 8 (about 27 cubic metres, or just under 2 displacement tons, Traveller-style).

Notes: Atmospheric, 2 x Crew Space, FTL Drive, Garage/Hangar.

Weapons: None.

HIGH-SPACE SCOUTSHIP

I’m using version 1-1 of the High-Space Fleet Manual for this. It should be capable of being owned by a single Novice PC, who would have one Ship Acquisition Point, giving the ship 3 points of Traits and 3 free Edges.

The initial attributes are Manoeuvre d4, Computer d4, FTL d4, Displacement d4 and Quality d4. I select the Explorer design edge (which doesn’t count against the basic three from AP), gaining +1 FTL die-type and +1 Pace, then go back and allocate the three Trait points to Manoeuvre, Displacement, and Quality, boosting them to d6 each. The Explorer design edge also gives it 2 payloads per displacement (12 total) and one hardpoint per displacement (6 total).

I browse through the Hindrances, but none of them seem appropriate, so move on to Edges, and select:

  • Luggage (1 payload).
  • Guest Accommodation (1 payload). This allows the ship to carry its displacement (6) in passengers. High-Space is silent on accomodation for crew members, but the table on p. 7 implies that you could have up to 4 Novice PCs pooling their points to get this ship, so since this edge is specifically for non-crew accommodation, I reckon the ship must have crew quarters for four people.

I can’t give it an air/raft hangar without boosting the Displacement to d8, so we’ll skip that. Life pods don’t feel right as an alternative.

Pace is Manoeuvre plus Quality plus one, so 9. Toughness is half the sum of Displacement and Quality, so 6. The final statblock is:

Attributes: Manoeuvre d6, Computer d4, FTL d6, Displacement d6 and Quality d6.

Pace: 9. Toughness: 6.

Edges: Explorer; Luggage, Guest Accommodation. One edge and 10 payload held in reserve for later use.

Hindrances: None.

Weapons: None.

COMPARISON AND CONCLUSIONS

The SFC ship looks like a vehicle, the High-Space one looks like a character. They both have quite a bit of room for later customisation as the PC crew advance or get richer, and either is well within the reach of a group of Novice PCs – High-Space handles that with Acquisition Points, the Companion by recommending the group should start with a Medium ship, an FTL Drive, and $2M of other Mods.

The SFC ship was definitely faster and easier to do, because the design sequence is more linear and less ambiguous; but the High-Space one was more fun.

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2 thoughts on “Savage Scoutships

  1. Thanks for the comparison of the two ship build systems. Definitely interesting to see the two compared this way.

    I do like how many module slots the new SFC seems to provide. It seems like it would work pretty well in terms of allowing a lot of customization. I also like the notion of ship Edges.

    One thing I’m very curious about for the Savage Space version is how the various ship traits interact mechanically. I see how Pace and Toughness are derived. But does Maneuver do anything? What about Computer (I presume it would act as a bit of a catchall – autopilot quality, ship’s database, etc)? I’m also a bit concerned at how Displacent might seem to be extremely granular. How much bigger is a d10 Displacement vessel from a d4 Scout? If a d4 Displacement fits a 100-200dt Scout, where would a Far Trader fit (d8?)? The Normandy (d10?)? A capital ship like a Star Destroyer (d12+6)?

    The two Toughness ratings are pretty wildly different. Toughness 6 doesn’t feel like much. But it also may fix some of the balance issues I’ve seen. If a typical civvie ship has Toughness 6, that probably means a standard defensive weapon is probably 2d6? And a really big gun might be 2d8 or 2d10?

    Which is actually kinda cool – Savage Worlds combat mechanics work quite well at the character level.

    I really appreciate your effort posting these examples by the way.

    • You’re very welcome – it was fun to do. Taking your questions in turn:

      1) How do High-Space traits interact mechanically? Well…

      Maneouvre is essentially a limitation. Piloting checks use the lower of the pilot’s skill die or the ship’s maneouvre die. Passengers potentially start taking damage if your Manoeuvre die is higher than their Vigour, representing acceleration effects (some ship edges boost the passengers’ effective Vigour).

      Computer is the basic die type for all onboard automatic systems. In effect, it is the NPC crew’s skill die – but that NPC crew is the ship itself. You can override it and use a PC’s skill die instead.

      FTL is the one I like least, because a ship’s combat movement in hexes is its FTL die roll. Combat speeds also don’t match up with the interstellar travel times later in the book.

      Displacement is the ship size. It’s very difficult to make out in the book as the print is so small, but d4 is typically about 10-15 metres long, d6 50 -75 metres, d8 100-200 metres, d10 300-400 metres, and d12s are typically a kilometre or more long. So a Type S is about displacement d6, a far trader is also a d6. I don’t know how big the Normandy is but it behaves like a cruiser, so d8 or d10 seem reasonable. Officially, the star destroyer is about a mile long, so it’s a good fit for a d12 displacement.

      Quality is a catch-all stat covering how well the ship is designed, and thus how resilient it is.

      2) Toughness vs weapon damage

      In High-Space, ship Toughness could range from 4 to 12, and the basic weapon seems to be the X-ray laser (2d6), although a spinal lance on a displacement d12 dreadnought would inflict an eye-watering 12d10 damage. That’s going to leave a mark.

      In the SFC, vehicular weapons are the same across starships and other vehicles. A light vehicular laser does 2d10 damage with AP5. The nastiest thing you can fit on a starship seems to be a superheavy mass driver doing 10d10. Ship Toughness ranges from 20 (5) to 50 (12).

      I reviewed High-Space a while ago, here… maybe that will help too.

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