Monday, July 18, 2016

Inertia

Traveller and Star Wars have been around for about forty years, Star Trek even longer. All of them have had a pervasive effect on how people view spacecraft. Traveller in particular has a long and storied history of starships. We all know a ship's cabin is four squares by two squares and can hold two people. It has a sliding door from playing Snapshot and AHL. This sort of skirts spaceships as hotel trope (check it out on Troperville but be careful, it eats time.)

Accommodations are important of course. They hold the characters but they come in a variety of forms on surface ships. While merchant crews and civilians are expecting a modicum of privacy Scouts and Navy crews may not be so lucky.

Instead of cabins with redundant life support, sanitation and electrical systems crew might have bunks they sleep in and use the rest of their cabin space for off duty facilities they can all share. After all modern submarines have about 10 cubic meters per crewman and they stay at sea for 5 months. Surely spacers can do with cramped accommodations for a week or three.

A double bunk hole-hotel could run about cr. 50,000. That's a (mostly) airtight compartment/bed padded on the bottom (for acceleration) with light padding on the other sides incase something gets thrown at the ship and you get bounced around. It's big enough for one person to sleep in (maybe two if you're desperate or really friendly. Bunk style hole-hotels measure three meters long by one and a half wide and two meters high. The life support cost is still cr 750 per unit per week underway whether full or not. this frees six displacement tons for communal space. Depending on how freewheeling your culture/military is some standard cabins may be installed to be used by crew members desiring ... privacy and allocated in a variety of ways (rank, merit, rewards, psionic potential ... on second thought only the psionics get private cabins). Communal deck areas cost only cr. 60,000 per square. So creating a space with the equivalent area for crew as a cabin would save you cr. 90,000. Some savvy merchants who hire ex-military see the advantage of such a saving and some merchant crew don't care, securing private accommodations on shoreleave.

The open areas are a mixed blessing in a boarding action. There are less places for defenders to hide but there are less places for attackers to take cover as well. Some crew complain (never too loudly) that the more open accommodations provide less hidey-holes for contraband.

Needless to say the open areas require less freshers and b/r facilities than separate cabins allowing you to put your heads outside your freshers (which some people care about).

Even standard cabins could benefit from some fresh thinking. Why not, for starters, place cabins near the duty stations of their occupants? Captain next to the bridge, engineers next to the power deck etc.? Most of the deckplans I've seen have placed the cabins in a continuous mass. Decentralizing the cabins might make it easier to report to your station in an emergency and save lives or the ship.

In an emergency grouping your cabins together might risk exposing them to vacuum in case of a hull breach. Placing cabins in separate sections (sectioned off by pressure doors) would allow some of your crew to get to spacesuits or otherwise have a chance to equip themselves for rescue or damage control ... instead of worrying about saving themselves.