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.
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.
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.
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.