Friday, August 15, 2014

Showing the Flag At the Icy Shores

So, Terra is making a grab for all colony worlds in the Icy Shores. Terra obviously needs warships. For the basic design of the Terran cruiser I can do no better than pay homage to the Leif Ericson! Designed by Matt Jefferies, the Leif Ericson began as an Aurora plastic model kit in 1969. It didn't terribly well (people have no taste.) It was then reissued in '76 as an 'Interplanetary UFO Mystery Ship.' Winchell Chung does his usual excellent job telling you about it here.

The ship turns out to have an incredible pedigree for Traveller fans and most others. When Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote 'The Mote in God's Eye' they used the starship for the basic design of the INS MacArthur and rationalized some of the features to indicate that ship could enter the atmospheres of gas giants for refueling. Well Marc W. Miller himself used the book for inspiration and decided gas giant refueling was pretty neat. So the reason we have fuel scoops in Traveller is the Leif Ericson.

I mean if I'm going to use a ship in my campaign can I find a better one?

Some variants can be found here.

Mr. Chung was also obliging enough to calculate the internal volume of the ship from which I got a displacement around 3000 tons, which is pretty nifty to TL 9 (yes you can do 4000 tons but we'll reserve that for battleships and such.)

Component/ Mass/ MCr
3000 ton hull/ 0/ 330/ Streamlined
WX Jump Drive/ 120/ 360/ J-1 3000 ton Hull*
 Z M-Drive/ 47/ 96/ 2 gees
Z Power Plant/ 73/ 192
Jump Fuel/ 900/ 0/ /Jump 1 
Power/ 120/ 0 /4 weeks of operations.
Bridge/ 60/ 15
Staterooms/ 208/ 1 52/ staterooms
Computer 3/fib/ 6/ 27
Computer 3/fib/ 6/ 27 Back up
Cargo /377/ 0
2 Ship’s Boats/ 60/ 32
Hangar/ 12/ 2.4/ Fuel and stores for boats
2 ATVs/ 20/ 1.2
Garage/ 5/ 0 Fuel and spares
Hard Point/ 0/ 30
30 triple turrets/ 30/ 30
30 beam lasers/ 0/ 30
30 missile launchers/ 0/ 22.5
Missile magazine/ 45/ 4.5/ 900 missiles
30 Sandcasters/  0/ 7.5
Sand box/ 45/ 0.36/ 900 cannisters
Emergency Low/ 100/ 10
Fusion rocket/ 45/ 46
Propellant/ 600/ 0/ 8 gee hours of thrust
Armoury/ 24/ 6/ 100 marines and 100 crew
Briefing rooms (3)/ 12/ 1.5
Docking Clamp/ 10/ 2/ 300 ton capacity
Supplies/ 75/ 0/ Food and spare water, O2 etc. for 6 months

Tonnage 3000 Cost 1218.46 Mcr.

*The jump drive is a new model TL 9+ (triple fuel use as opposed to the usual quadruple fuel consumption.)

The ship is a very clean design. It has honking huge scoops on the sides. This is because refueling from a gas giant can be very dangerous! The military wants their fine flagship to do it quickly and get the hell out. Bring conservative/paranoid types the military uses not only M-drives but a rarity, fusion rockets that can fire out the back of the scoops and use ambient atmosphere to provide extra thrust. With the rockets and thrusters firing ship can make 6 gees. By itself the auxiliary rocket can accelerate the cruiser at 2 gees, enough for most gas giants. Note that most commanders will avoid refueling at a beast like Jupiter on principle. 

Note the fusion rocket is a beast and commanders are prohibited from using it in the atmosphere of any nearly habitable world unless under combat or emergency conditions. Also note it's a great threat to anyone trying to rush the ship. 

The hull is very clean and that's good for refueling. Laser emitters are on the hull, the rest of the turret working are internal. This means upgrading the weapons, repairing or replacing them are a witch (-1 dm.) The plates covering the lasers are engineered to be no impediment to the beams, they will blast right through any jammed ports. 

Three of the beam lasers are actually a single massive weapon powered by a lasing tube running the length of the boom and starting from the vessel's fusion generator. The lasing apparatus is used to start up the generator. The other end of the tube ends in a single triple size emitter firing out the nose of the ship. This turret rolls once for all three beams to hit and can hit anything in a 120 degree arc to the front. Any power planet damage will disrupt the lasing tube and shut down the nose mount on a 10+. Likewise hitting the nose mount will deliver a hit to the power plant (this requires a called shot at -4 dm or a hit with a natural 12.) Some critics have pointed this out as a design flaw.

The fusion rector is rigged to be jettisoned in an emergency. New emergency doctrine is for crew to stay with the ship unless it is completely uninhabitable.

The large hatch at the stern is the exit for the ship's ATVs. It also contains a docking clamp allowing the cruiser to lock onto a captured ship to board it easily. The clamp can hold up to a 300 ton ship. It also places the boarded ship in close proximity to the fusion rocket which is somewhat useful for intimidation.

The briefing rooms give the ship's crew or Troops +1 to Tactics for missions they have time to plan for. The watch has collapsible shelters and tent to use on planet. Typically they are not thawed in space unless they are needed.

Crew Listing
Captain (pilot)
Exec (pilot)
Helmsman (pilot)
Navigators (2)
Computer Officer
Communications Officer
Engineers (15)
Medic (2)
Gunner (30)
Flight Officer
Flight Crew (2)
ATV Crew (4)
Service Crew (6)
7 Midshipmen
68 Total
10 single staterooms
29 double occupancy
1o Passengers for mission specific roles (20 with double occupancy)

Note that Cozmo Heavy Industries has a lot of variants and size comparisons for this ship on his website

I used figures for supplies from the Atomic Rocket website. The extra compartments, fusion rocket and docking clamps are from MgT. I added some extra crew so there would always be a pilot on post and there would be a couple extra engineers to nurse the special jump drive and rocket. If a fusion rocket or jump drive acts up, no one is happy.

Rumor: The nose laser of this ship is a huge vulnerability which the designers downplayed. A laser strike there can destroy the fusion power plant (modify the hit effects if true.)

Rumor: The fusion rocket was added to the ship as a weapon to intimidate rebellious populations.

Rumor: The maneuver drive had has repeated failures due to lightning strikes and the rocket is needed as a back up when refueling.

The sensors are first rate (equal to the Scout Service requirements.) The huge cargo capacity allows the ship to easily be fitted for scientific (or spying) missions.

The military is upset the ship doesn't carry lifeboats.

Starport administrators hate these cruisers. Residual radiation around the rockets necessitate special safety procedures.

The ship boats are a pain to launch and tend to surge forward before rising to clear the shuttle deck. A sure and experienced hand is needed to avoid dings and minor damage.

Special thanks to Winchell Chung and Cozmo Heavy Industries for inspiration.