- Interplanetary Travel
- Worlds orbiting the same star are accessible by interplanetary travel, on ships operated by local entrepreneurs, or with a variety of small craft. But, interplanetary travel takes long periods of time; since most stellar systems have only one major world, interplanetary travel is infrequent.
- Interstellar Travel
- Worlds orbiting different stars are reached by interstellar travel, which makes use of the jump drive. Once a starship moves to a safe distance from a world, it may activate its jump drive. Jump drives are rated from 1 to 6. Making any jump takes about one week, regardless of the distance travelled.
- 1 Starship Economics
- 2 Ship Design
- 3 Ship Construction
- 4 Crew
The operation of starships in interstellar commerce requires an understanding of the economics which governs trade between the stars. Prices and returns on effort and investment are controlled by the supply and demand which exists in the commercial system.
- Bank financing is available to qualified individuals for the purchase of commercial starships. After a down payment, the shipyard will begin construction of a specific vessel. Upon completion, the vessel is delivered to the buyer, with the bank paying off the purchase price to the shipyard. Because the bank now holds title to the ship, the price must be paid off in a series of monthly payments to it. Standard terms involve the payment of 1/240th of the cash price each month for 480 months. The cost of the starship is paid off over a period of 40 years. In addition, the bank will insist that the purchaser submit an economic plan detailing the projected activity which will guarantee that monthly payments are made.
- A government may subsidize larger commercial vessels, primarily to assure consistent service to specific worlds. These subsidized merchants are generally assigned a specific route connecting worlds of varying characteristics. The route will generally be determined before a subsidized merchant is purchased, to allow tailored design features as may be necessary. When a subsidized merchant is ordered, the character himself must make the down payment, with the government assuming responsibility for the payments upon delivery, and taking 50% of the gross receipts of the ship while in service. The character is responsible for all expenses and costs of operation.
- Subsidized merchants are also subject to mobilization in the event of emergency or hostilities. At the end of 40 years, the vessel is completely paid off, and full title passes to the character, but the vessel remains subject to mobilization in case of government need.
- There are five basic expenses (in addition to the bank payment) associated with starship operation.
- Fuel: Starship fuel must be purchased at a starport or scooped from another source of hydrogen. Fuel consumption is based on the size of the starship power plant and the jump drive.
- Life Support: Each occupied stateroom on a starship involves an overhead cost per trip made. Each occupied low passage berth involves an overhead cost as well. There is a normal limit of one person per stateroom, travelling couples or groups usually taking adjoining staterooms. Military vessels or chartered ships may be used with a double occupancy system but this requires twice the normal cost.
- Routine Maintenance: Annually, a starship should be given a complete overhaul in order to insure that it is kept in good working order. Such maintenance has a cost and requires two weeks at a starport. The owner must make provision for payment of the maintenance fee when it comes due. Crew members generally take their vacations at this time, but must still be paid. The ship owners must make provision for the expected loss of revenue while the ship is out of service.
- Crew Salaries: Crew members must be paid monthly. Player characters may participate with the owner-captain and accept shares in the proceeds of the ship's activities. Characters who take working passage are not paid, receiving passage, room and board in lieu of salary. Not all crew positions are required on all ships, and some ships will have more than one person performing the same function.
- Berthing Costs: Landing fees and other starport fees are a common practice, and such costs must be paid as they occur.
- Cargo): Starships may inquire at a starport about the number, sizes, and destinations of cargos awaiting transportation. There may be a number of major, minor, and incidental cargos available on the world. Each cargo is a distinct shipment and cannot be subdivided, but the ship may accept or reject specific cargos based on the best fit within the cargo hold. Starship owners may purchase goods locally and ship them at their own expense, speculating that they can later sell them at a profit.
- Passengers: Passengers will present themselves for transport to the ship's destination. The number of passengers is determine by the origin world's population and on the destination world's population and travel zone status.
- Mail and Incidentals: Subsidized merchants may receive mail delivery contracts, usually as an adjunct to their established routes.The starship is paid for each trip made, regardless of the actual mail tonnage carried. Other ships may be approached to deliver private messages, at times through the ship's owner or captain, and at times clandestinely through a crew member. Private mail is usually intended for delivery to a specific point and is generally accompanied by a small fee.
- Goods taken on in orbit are delivered when placed in orbit around the destination. Goods taken on on a planetary surface are delivered when off-loaded on the surface of the destination. This custom applies to cargo, passengers, and mail.
- There is a standard price to charter a non-starship usually with a minimum time limit. Charter price for a starship is computed based on its revenue-generating capacity. Starships are chartered in 2-week blocks. The owner pays all overhead and supplies a crew.
Starships are constructed and sold at shipyards throughout the galaxy. Any class A starport has a shipyard that can build any kind of ship, including a starship with jump drives; any class B starport can build a small craft and ships which do not have jump drives. The military procures vessels through these yards, corporations buy their commercial vessels from these shipyards, and private individuals can purchase ships that they have designed through them as well. The major restriction on the purchase of ships is money.
- Most vessels are constructed from standard design plans which use time-tested designs and combinations of features. Shipyards work from these plans which cover every detail of construction and assembly. Naval architect firms can produce a detailed set of design plans in about four weeks for a price of 1% of the final ship cost; they can be hurried to finish the job in two weeks if paid 1.5%. Once the design plans are received, the shipard may be commissioned to produce the vessel desired.
- 'Standard Designs: There are a number of standard design plans available; they have been in use for a long time, and are available for a nominal fee for the set. A 10% final cost discount is available for ships built to a standard design plan.
- Custom Designs: A naval architect will assist in providing the design plans for any specific vessel that is not designed around a standard hull size. The naval architect will insist on receiving his 1% fee upon delivery of the plans and specifications.
- Construction Time: The time required for building any vessel depends primarily on the hull. Standard hulls require shorter construction times; they are more familiar to the shipyard and easier to build.
- Financing: A shipyard will insist upon a down payment with the order for the vessel, as well as requiring a demonstration that proper financing is available to cover the balance when due.
Starships are constructed on the foundation of a hull, into which are fitted the drives and other fittings that adapt it to its intended function. The total tonnage of the installed fittings cannot exceed the tonnage of the hull.
- Hulls are identified by their mass displacement, expressed in tons. When hulls are constructed, they are divided into an engineering section for the drives and the main compartment for everything else. Standard hulls are available at reduced prices and construction times. Any other hull must be produced on a custom basis. Hulls vary in their requirements for drives and power plants based on tonnage.
- Drives are installed in the engineering section. A non-starship must have a maneuver drive and a power plant. A starship must have a a jump drive and a power plant; a maneuver drive may also be installed, but is not required. The total tonnage of the drives may not exceed the tonnage of the engineering section of the vessel.
- Power Plant: The ship's power plant provides energy for use within the ship, weapons, jump drive and maneuver drive.
- Maneuver Drive: The ship's maneuver drive allows it to move through normal (non-jump) space.
- Jump Drive: The ship's jump drive allows it to travel interstellar distances in a about a week.
- The ship's main compartment contains all non-drive features of the ship.
- Bridge: All ships must allocate tonnage to controls and other equipment for proper operation of the ship.
- Computer: The computer is identified by its model number. In general, larger computers are more advantageous in combat situations. In addition, the model number indicates the highest level of jump which can be achieved by the ships.
- Staterooms: Quarters for the crew and passengers are provided in the form of staterooms containing sleeping and living facilities.
- Low Passage Berths: Facilities for carrying passengers in cold sleep may be installed in a ship.
- Fuel: The total fuel tankage for a ship must be indicated in the design plans and must be included within the ship's hull.
- Cargo Hold: The design plan must indicate cargo capacity. The amount of cargo carried may not exceed cargo capacity.
- Armaments: Any ship may designate hardpoints for weapons. Hardpoints may be left unused if desired. One turret may be attached to each hardpoint on the ship. When it is attached, space in the hull for fire control must be allocated. Turrets are available in a number of different mounts and configurations. Turrets and weapons can be altered or retrofitted. Various weapons for installation in turrets are available.
- Optional components can be included in design plans, or may be acquired for later installation on a vessel.
- Atmospheric Streamlining: Standard hulls are rough deep space configurations incapable of entering atmospheres. They may be streamlined by indicating this in the design plans. This streamlining includes fuel scoops. Streamlining may not be retrofitted; it must be included at the time of construction. An additional cost applies for streamlining a hull.
- Captain/Owner-Operator': All craft greater than 125 tons will have a designated Commander. This position may be filled by the Owner/Lessor to command and direct the movement and trade activities for the ship. This position may be filled by a person hired to fulfill any one of the positions concerned with running the ship. However, In most cases pilots and or navigator would be hired for this role.
- In hired captains they are responsible for the safety and protection of the ship and cargo and crew. They are hired from the requirements of the company hiring them. Though not required to have space skills it is a added plus.
- Pilot: Each starship and non-starship and small craft requires a pilot. This position may be performed by the captain for small vessels 200 tons and under. Vessels greater than 200 ton require a separate pilot position or two if the master of the vessel is not flight qualified.
- Navigator: Each starship displacing greater than 200 tons must have a navigator. The pilot of a small craft or non-starship can handle its navigation requirements.
- Engineer: Any ship with tonnage 200 tons or more must have one engineer. If there is more than one engineer, then the most skilled (or the oldest) becomes chief engineer. Ships under 200 tons and small craft do not require an engineer, although engineering skill may prove useful.
- Steward: If high passengers are carried, then a steward is required. There must be at least one steward for every eight high passengers on the ship. If there is more than one steward, the most skilled is designated chief steward (or purser).
- Medic: Each starship of 200 tons or more must have a medic. In addition, there must be at least one medic per 120 passengers carried. If there is more than one medic, the most skilled is designated ship's doctor. Non-starships and small craft do not require medics.
- Gunner: One gunner may be hired per turret on a ship. Armed small craft require a gunner in addition to the pilot. If there is more than one gunner, the most skilled is designated the chief gunner. The gunner position may be omitted if there is no major threat to the ship.
- Other Positions: One person may fill two crew positions, providing they have the skills to perform the work. However, because of the added burden, each position is filled at a reduced skill level, and the individual draws salary equal to 75% of each position. Other crew positions may be created depending on the facilities of the starship: for example, a starship with a cutter might have a position for cutter pilot (and possibly cutter gunner) in addition to the normal positions. Specific jobs or tasks require crew members to perform them.
- For starships of greater than 1,000 tons hull displacement, the crew should also include a commanding officer (or captain), his executive officer, and at least three administrative personnel.