Personal Runabout

Download Issue #7
By Bill Logan

Author’s Note: I’ve used this in my games for a long time, and though it’s not strictly compatible with Knight Hawks, it serves an important but missing role in Alpha Dawn games. All of the math here is derived from the Alpha Dawn book. The only assumption made by me is the amount of energy required for 1LY of travel. Whether or not there is artificial gravity or food or whatnot is all abstracted, just like it was in Alpha Dawn. 
The Alpha Dawn Expanded game has rules for covering all
manner of ground and air vehicles. If your characters
need to get from star system to star system, there really
seems to be only two solutions: book passage on a
starliner, or buy Knight Hawks and build a ship.
The vehicle presented here is a missing-link alternative to
those two options. It’s a small shuttle capable of entering
orbit, flying around like an aircar, and short interstellar
trips. It’s a runabout – and it’s available to wealthy
travelers and adventurers who don’t like public
transportation or who need to live life off-the-grid.

Speed. Substantially less expensive than a starship, it
travels at a rate of 1 LY per two days (using the Alpha
Dawn methodology of star travel). Thus a trip from Araks
to Athor would take 16 days from port to port.

Range. The vessel is not capable of sustaining life support
or operating its engines past 20 days of continuous
operation. Therefore, it is not possible to take a voyage
beyond 10LY distance. For this reason, you will not find
Personal Runabouts in systems like Lynchpin whose
nearest neighbor is 14 Light Years away.

Power. The Personal Runabout uses a Type 2 Power
Generator. Operating and maintaining any type 2
generator requires a cost of 200Cr per day of use. The
generator creates 1,000 SEU (we’ll call that 1kSEU) per
hour (that’s 20kSEU per day). The Runabout consumes
40kSEU to travel 1 LY, which amounts to two days worth of constant generator output. Therefore, it costs 400Cr per LY traveled for generator fuel and maintenance consumables. The maximum cargo capacity for fuel and consumables is 400kSEU (10LY distance, a total cost of 4,000Cr to “fill ‘er up” from empty... 10Cr per 1kSEU). Additionally, the engine compartment has 2 type 4 parabatteries (a total capacity of 8kSEU). These allow for travel within an atmosphere, at a speed and range equal to that of an aircar. Because of the added mass, it uses these two parabatteries at the same rate an aircar would normally use its one. A runabout normally has a range of 1,000 km on its 8kSEU supply, meaning it drains 1kSEU from the parabatteries every 125km. The power generator can recharge the parabatteries in 8 hours but this drains 8kSEU from the remaining power.

Damage Capacity: If shot at, it uses the same rules as
would an aircar while in an atmosphere. If it is hit in
space, it will be destroyed with 1 hull point worth of
damage. Its small size allows it to dock on other ships (in
Knight Hawks rules, any ship of hull size 5 or greater) and
refuel there, or on space stations.
Crew & Cargo: In Alpha Dawn rules, the Personal
Runabout is treated like an aircar while in atmosphere,
and like a slow-speed starliner while in space. It has a
maximum crew capacity of 6 passengers, and enough
cargo space for 2,000kg (up to 4 cubic meters) of
additional equipment (not counting fuel and generator
consumables, detailed above).

Example: Gruno Trel has a price on his head, and
doesn’t trust anyone to supply him with an illegal ID.
He has the money and so purchases a Runabout for just
under half-a-million credits. It has room to bring along
up to five of his buddies, and carry around most of his
possessions in its cargo compartment.
He fuels up for a long voyage, filling up the Runabout’s
fuel compartment at a cost of 4,000Cr. This give him
400kSEU of power. He takes a trip from Prenglar to
Dixon’s Star (a 5 LY voyage). The trip takes 10 days
and drains (40x5=) 200kSEU from his supply. He has
200kSEU remaining.
He then has a long-range adventure on Laco (an
outpost planet in Dixon’s Star) where he travelled
300km in-atmosphere. This drains his parabatteries
around 3kSEU (1kSEU per 125km) leaving his
parabatteries at 5kSEU.
Gruno spends 3 hours recharging his parabatteries
while he sleeps, which drains his main generator’s
supply by 3kSEU. His main supply is now at 197kSEU.
He needs to refuel before his return trip to Prenglar.
Gruno refuels his generator supply for the return trip.
He goes to any shop that sells power generator supplies
and fuels. Since he wants to fill up his Runabout, he
notes that he is currently (400kSEU – 197kSEU =)
203kSEU short. This costs him 2,030Cr.
Fuelled and ready, Gruno takes off and heads back to
Prenglar to collect his payment for his mission on Laco.
He calculates his expenses and realizes he better ask
for more money from his employer... the trip cost him
4,030Cr in fuel and supplies, not to mention
ammunition and other costs.

Summary: A Personal Runabout costs 550,000Cr and
includes a type 2 generator and two type 4 parabatteries,
without fuel. In atmosphere, consider it just an oversized
aircar. In space, it travels 1LY per 2 days. Fuel for the
generator is 10Cr per 1kSEU. It requires 40kSEU to travel
1LY. Max capacity 400kSEU.