Volume based ship construction

jedion357's picture
February 5, 2011 - 3:48pm
I've been kicking this around:

Ships have spaces based roughly on their internal volume, each thing: weapon, defences, radar array, etc cost space to have on a ship.

No MHS, but some limitations as to how much of a thing can go into a given hull.
To understand what the limitations are you need to see which category of ship your hull falls into:
Small ships are all hulls that the book says should have size A engines, Mid ships are all that the book says should have size B engines, Capitol size ships are all hulls that the book says should have size C engines

All weapons and probably defenses come in A, B, and C grades. A is intended for small ships, B is intended for Mid ships, and C is intended for Capitol ships. The space requirements go up with grade increases (and consequentialy the damage output) there will be some limitations to the number of FF weapons (called Spinal Mounts hear after-as an even smaller number can be employed directly to the rear with a FF arc of fire) Any ship of Mid ship category or larger can mount a canon weapon in a broadside mount (usually balancing the broadside with equal numbers each side) a broad side mount cost extra space with based on grade of weapon- more for higher grades. Small ships that mount a cannon must mount it Spinal or FF- no broadside mount in this class.

All battery weapons can be mounted Spinal for a space savings and these then have a "pod" designation ie: laser pod, proton pod etc.

any ship with the space for a weapon may mount that weapon, even a small ship, say HS 4 that has enough space could mount a Grade B weapon, it simply pays the space. since higher grades of weapons cost more space the ship will have fewer weapons overall but it could mount a really big gun.

Most ships will need to mount several sets of sensors all costing some space as radar arrays will begin to show up in damage tables.

All ships deduct a % of spaces from their total based on ships class and type for crews quarters, sick bay, galley's etc
HS 1-2 shuttle or fighter 0%
HS 2-4 military ship 10%
HS 5-14 Std. Military ship 25%, Carrier 35%, Civilian 10%
HS 15-20 Std Military ship 30%, Carrier 40%, Civilian 20%

Civilian ships buy up 1st class and Journey class accomdations as they see fit and the above covers accomodations. Other restrictions on weapons for civilian ships to come.

Military ships spend some of their spaces for their armor (think HP for now)
HS 1-2 shuttle or fighter 0%
HS 2-4 military 10% of spaces must be used by Grade A armor but more can be purchased, civilian craft may have no armor reduces HP or purchase upto 10% grade A armor
HS 5-14 military may purchase grade A (min. 10% of space) or grade B (min 20% space); civilian can purchase upto 20% grade A, 10% space of grade B or none for HP reduction
HS 15-20 Military may purchase grade A (min. 10% of space) or grade B (min 20% space) or min. 30% of grade C- more can be purchased; Civilians can purchase upto 30% grade A, 20% grade B, or 10% grade C

The grades of armor function as damage reduction (more on that latter)

basic idea is to eat up the large volumes on larger craft with their heavier grade equipment- space for crews the armor, bigger weapons, whole boat bays etc.

more to come need to run for now....

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

dmoffett's picture
February 5, 2011 - 5:43pm
How about mass? Those engines need to push mass around. Just Curious as to what your thoughts are on that.
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TerlObar's picture
February 5, 2011 - 6:56pm
Yes, it should be volume and mass based.  You can roughly convert the two if you make some assumptions.
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jedion357's picture
February 5, 2011 - 8:47pm
As to engines I want to fix the listing for HS 4 and make it 3 type A
and also allow for a ship designer to bump a engine size up one- for instance Space Fleet might desire a size B engine on its assault scouts so that they keep pace with the rest of the fleet without having to overhaul. but then I guess that would technically impart far more thrust than the type A and require a change of stats or capabilities? Perhaps it should be changed to be a more expensive type A engine with 3 jumps before an overhaul.

Any ideas about working mass into it?

volume seemed a good way to build a ship and would support making deck plans, would trying to track mass not complicate that?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shell's picture
February 5, 2011 - 9:53pm

No MHS...? Sounds good.

What about external mounts? Hey, I cannot fit my hyperdrive inside my cool new HS 1 starfighter... how about if I jury-rig it on top, and bolt this cowling over it, to keep things streamlined... okay, I lose a little manuverability, due to non-standard equipment, and from additional mass... but now I can have (limited) ftl capability!

I like the idea that sci-fi engineers will find a way to get the most out of a design, bolting down a component to the outside of a hull to provide new equipment bonuses. Can we have rules options that allow this sort of thing?

What!? It will take twice as long and cost five times as much to fix my external hyperdrive? Why is that? Oh, because it  has to be removed, overhauled, recalibrated and reinstalled... so, you will need to modify the replacement parts to fit, and reroute the power system. Uh huh. They don't make those parts anymore? Uggh!

Whenever I allowed players to modify their ships (especially when MHS were ignored, or external mounting was permitted), I would make notes for possible complications, such as system failures, availability of parts, or even lack of qualified technicians to service the modified systems. I would also impose penalties to balance out benefits from non-standard add-ons.

Okay, you can have that spinal mounted heavy beam cannon installed in your HS 1 starfighter, however, your fire rate will be reduced to once every 3 turns(18 seconds), and because it draws so much power, you lose your pulse lasers for another 3 turns, until their power cells recharge. Oh yeah, those vibrations during the charging phase gives you a -10 to hit.

Armor grades are a good idea! I have used those as well. What about screens and shields?

I also use a variable beam settings for the same weapon... switching one round to a beam setting to gain accuracy, then to a pulsed setting for power, or to a "fan" setting to cover a wide area. 

Also, I have allowed turrets that have a wide firing arc, and a "lock-on" mode, that allows turrets to track targets, providing either an automatic hit in the next round, or a continuous attack bonus until the target moves out of the weapon's fire arc, or out of range. 

Shell's picture
February 5, 2011 - 10:05pm
I agree that the construction system should be based on volume and mass. How will you determine hull points?

Would you use a "per cubic meter" block, a "register ton" block (2.7 cubic meters), or the Traveller displacement ton 13.5 cubic meters, or something else?

jedion357's picture
February 6, 2011 - 7:08am
Shell wrote:
I agree that the construction system should be based on volume and mass. How will you determine hull points?

Would you use a "per cubic meter" block, a "register ton" block (2.7 cubic meters), or the Traveller displacement ton 13.5 cubic meters, or something else?

I was planning to just fudge a system of "this weapons takes up this much space" seeing as how I dont currently have access to measure an actual laser cannon. I figured if we accont for space, more or less, then we can build and even design a deck plan. I'm at a loss to figure mass, other than to guess at what an average 10 cubic meters of material would have for mass and compute a ships mass by multiplying the filled spaces by the guessed at average mass (note an empty freighter will have different mass then a full one and under this system you could see a crew dumping cargo to reduce mass in a bid to escape a pirate)

Then we could rate engines by thrust and vs mass and ship designers would just add the number of engines to get the thrust they need to move their ship- problem with that is that there would be the tendancy to add engines until the ship turns like a fighter unless we put limits on the number of engine struts and craft the system so that if a ship designer goes with grade B engines the ship will end up with 1ADF and if they go with grade C on this hull they'll end up with 2 or 3 ADF.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
February 6, 2011 - 7:23am
RE: limits to adding equipment to a ship I was thinking that a system of X=HS where X is the number of items of the same thing you could add to a ship
for Small ships its (1 times HS)= X
for Med ships its (2 times HS)= X
for capitol ships its (3 times HS)= X

since the area of the ship goes up dramatically larger ships could reasonable have more of an item
its just a rough but easy to use ruling and allows bigger ships to mount more of something based on their size, its easy enough to track - a frigate will not have any more than 10 of an item: life pods, LB etc.

Thus a HS 1 fighter would only mount 1 radar array while a HS 5 frigate could mount upto 10 arrays though they probably woulding do that many
with life pods a HS 3 ship could have 3 and a HS 8 ship could have 16 and an HS 20 ship could have 60- of course all these items cost agains the space

The other option is hard points and tracking them- not a pretty idea with a HS 20 ship IMO

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
February 6, 2011 - 1:47pm
I think we can easily do both volume and mass.  For each system or unit we define it's volume and mass then for each hull size we define it's maximum volume and mass.  Or we define the hull size after the design is made based on the volume and mass the ship reached.

For example:
Officers quarters (cramped), V 15.63m^3 L2.5m W2.5m H2.5m, M 40kg
Contains single light weight bed 10kg, desk 10kg, lockers built into non structural walls 20kg, 10kg personal gear allowance.

Enlisted quarters non-vrusk (cramped), V 15.63m^3 L2.5m W2.5m H2.5m, M 80kg
Contains four single light weight beds 40kg, lockers built into non structural walls 20kg, 20kg personal gear allowance (5kg each).

Life Support 4 person basic minimal, V 6m^3 L3m W1m H2m, M 5,000kg
Contains 3000L of water and the machinery to recycle it, atmosphere scrubbers suitable for four, and electric air/water heaters.

I'm just guessing at the numbers above, but we could do this.

jedion357's picture
February 6, 2011 - 2:01pm
@ Iggy we could do that on everything upto HS 5 but try doing that for HS 20.
Since some of the ship hulls are so big I'd prefer a system of X% of space used up for crew concerns- quarters, lounge, gym etc.

then at the end average up the mass for the hull- less record keeping
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
February 10, 2011 - 5:33pm
Actually, I think iggy's suggestion would work even for bigger ships.  If you say the volume of a crew accomodation includes their bunkspace, plus storage space, plus some overhead to represent the amount of space you need for common areas (galley, head, rec rooms, etc), you just have to count up the number of crew and multiply.

Say officer cabins require a total of 180 cu m throughout the ship (that's 790 sq ft with a 8' ceiling) and standard crew requires 75 cu m.  If you have 20 officers and 400 standard crew, you need 20x180 = 3600 cu m for the officers and 400 x 75 = 30,000 cu m for the rest of the crew so you need a total of 33,600 cu m of space on your ship to hold all your crew, storage for their gear and all the common spaces (That's a total volume equal to about 2 standard hull size 5 ships or about 82% of a HS 6 vessel).

And you could add additional levels of accomodation if you wanted to.  Then once you've defined volume for all the components of your ships, just add in some fractional overhead (say 25%) to that total volume to represent all the additional control and connection spaces (bridge, engineering, hallways, elevators, etc).  That gives you the total volume of the ship.  If we go with the 1 cu m = 1 ton conversion for simplicity, that gives you the mass of the stuff inside the ship.  (You'd still need to add in the hull but that would be a function the volume).
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iggy's picture
February 10, 2011 - 7:15pm
On my flight here to Taiwan I watched a documentary about the design and construction of the Oasis Of The Seas cruise ship.  This is the worlds largest cruise ship.  They prefabbed all of the rooms and just slid them into place and literally plugged in the electricity and plumbing.  Prior to and during this the structure was built in blocks and the ship assembled to the hull much like Lego blocks.  I can see the frontier starship construction industry using these same processes.

Gilbert's picture
February 11, 2011 - 5:17pm
  I used to hangout at a ship construction yard. Some really neat stuff happens there. I took for grated that many people new how it worked or at-least look-up how its done on the Internet. Each deck can be assembled in this way, and if you ponder it long enough, hull-sizes bigger than HS 20 start to look feasible. I have used this idea in my games for years of which made me have to rethink how the ships a done alltogether.

thespiritcoyote's picture
April 14, 2011 - 9:09am
I like the mass and volume construction systems also, easier to modify in modular components, as it is done on the shipyards. Easier to benifit from varient modules, when upgrading and refiting, when in play.
Modular, mass and volume systems, give you the easiest time in building the ships appearance also.
It can be more complicated, but doesn't have to be, and precalculated charts can simplify the book-keeping and daunting math considerably.

Personally, I like the more complex detailed construction systems, especially when they come with equally detailed precalculated refrence charts, and fit the final product onto a couple note-card sized record sheets.

I also like things to work in vectored thrust, mass ratios (with and without load), fuel consumtion, life support (water, consumables, waste disposal), power generation and reserves... etc... but again with nice charts that make it simple to keep track of, and support stratigic, tactical, and story concerns.... calculate it twice, record it once.... repeat everything else by modular charts, and play away! :D

SF bring largely %based, one would think everything would be easy to customize, and scale.... somehow it regularly lacks that ability tho'..... I blame it on not enough pre-calc charts... and the spanish inquisition...
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if you square a square it becomes a cube...
if you square a cube does it become an octoid?

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
October 25, 2011 - 8:45pm
Man, I need to find my Traveller starships book to disect it for this application.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

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