Friday, September 27, 2019

Darkspace Star-Ships

Star-ships are the most advanced arcane creations of a thousand civilizations. They ply the night as symbols of prestige, power, commerce, the conquest of inhospitable realms and twisting of base nature to fit useful ends. Fleets of star-ships are the iron fist of empires and the last best hopes of revolutions, the long arms of the law, the explorers seeking out new worlds, new magics, and new civilizations. Any adventuring party who sees eternity as naught but a new challenge for their skills needs a ship.

Space Galleon 01 by SkullGarden
by SkullGarden
Ships follow Vehicle rules, with a different set of chassis and a larger assumed scale. Despite the 3D nature of space, combat is simulated on a 2D plane, on account of properly 3D grid paper being nigh-impossible to create or feasibly manipulate.

Ship Stats
Power: Acceleration or deceleration
Handling: Changing heading quickly, maneuverability
Durability: Saves, defense rolls
Fuel: Every week of travel, roll the fuel die to see if it depletes (depletes on 1 or 2). On depletion from d4, out of fuel, can't change heading or accelerate/decelerate.
Life Support: Every week of travel, roll the Life Support die to see if it depletes (depletes on 1). On depletion from d4, air quality downgrades by 1 step each day, and gravity stops working.
Hit Points: All mortal-scale weapons deal minimum damage to a ship. Also determines Cargo Capacity. 1 point of cargo capacity is enough for either 1 crew member or 1 tonne of cargo. Equals HP. Whenever you lose HP, lose that many cargo spaces (empty space first).

Ships need a minimum of 1 crew member per 6 HP to function. If you have fewer, the ship has disadvantage on all tests, as the few remaining souls frantically scurry around to keep it running.

Ships can attack once with each crewed weapon they have. Crew members can only crew one weapon at a time, and can't do other things while crewing a weapon.

Shuttle: d6 HP, 4d6k3 POW, 4d6k3 HAN, 2d6 DUR, d4 Fuel/Life Support
Corvette: d6*10 HP, 3d6 POW, 4d6k3 HAN, 3d6 DUR, d8 Fuel/Life Support
Frigate: 2d6*10 HP, 3d6 POW, 3d6 HAN, 3d6 DUR, d10 Fuel/Life Support
Cruiser: 4d6*10 HP, 3d6 POW, 2d6 HAN, 4d6k3 DUR, d10 Fuel/Life Support
Dreadnought: 6d6*10 HP, 2d6 POW, 2d6 HAN, 4d6k3 DUR, d12 Fuel/Life Support

The Helm
From whence the ship is sailed. A great wooden wheel is traditional, as is a captain’s chair. Comms are also controlled from here, on a scrying orb enchanted to allow for ship-to-ship communication.

Life Support Sigils
Air needs recycling, gravity needs to hold the crew down, light must illuminate the corridors (and torches obviously won’t do, fool – do you want to ignite the ship?). For all of these, series’ of intricate sigils dot the ceilings and walls. They gain their magic from the painstaking act of inscription itself, and burn out over the course of a voyage. Like Fuel, life support sigil integrity is measured by a depletion die. It begins at the same size as the fuel die (or higher, if you’d like to spend on more intricate and durable sigils). Each week, roll to deplete (depletes on a 1). When you’re out of life support, depletion instead decreases the air quality by 1 step.

The question of toilets is perhaps the most eldritch function of the life support system. Plans for an ideal, multi-species, zero-G-capable toilet escape even the greatest artificers in the cosmos, and many a genius has been driven to madness pursuing this holy grail of space travel. As it stands, the solutions are varied and all insufficient. Single-body-plan crews; using disintegrate spells on the waste; polymorphing toilets; simply venting waste into space out airlocks...

Air Quality
Full Air: Act as normal.
Half Air: Disadvantage on CON and STR rolls.
Thin Air: Disadvantage on all rolls.
Vacuum: Disadvantage on all rolls, save vs. unconsciousness each round; once unconscious, save vs. death by suffocation.

Air Venting: d6 rounds for air to decrease 1 level. Can slow down venting by patching leaks, summoning more air, etc. Can mitigate penalties by reducing personal air consumption, etc.

The Engines
The beating heart of every ship. Six common types of engine are described below.

1. Locomotive. Burns coal, or souls, or in a pinch anything living or once-living may do. Creates great gouts of flame to propel the ship. Covers engineers in soot, leaves trail of darkness across the sky (or brightness, if burning souls).
2. Solar Sails. Stars emit tides of passion-light into the cosmos. Know what the stars feel, raise the sails of the commensurate color, and let winds of fury or love or sadness or greed push you towards your destination.
3. Weaver. Climbs through the stars with an auspicious number of legs, clinging to webs of gossamer starlight that underlie reality. Slow, but steady, and highly maneuverable. Can slip between spaces to emerge on odd trajectories.
4. Lodestone. Magnetize the stone to its target, and have it pull you through space. Larger stones pull faster. Only works on trajectories towards stars, but can "sling" between different stars to reach new destinations. Instantly changes heading. Favored by dwarves and lizardfolk.
5. Oars. Acts upon the same strands that a weaver-engine does, but pushes through rather than gingerly striding between. Slow, steady, requires nothing but the power of the rowers.
6. Sacrifice. The stars’ sole truth is death, and they look upon it with grim favor. This is the rudest, most base form of calendrical mechanics (described below). A ship needs not even a proper engine to fly with sacrifice, merely enough to sate the call of the stars it sails under. Sacrifice a captive to the constellation-alliances that rule your location, and they will move you for a week. Betray them not, or find yourself becalmed in quiet, airless hell.

The Calendrical Drive
(many kudos to Yoon Ha Lee and his excellent Machinations of Empire series, which I’m shamelessly cribbing from)

Space is time, time is space, and both are the dominion of the stars. You mark years and days and hours by the suns, and the times change with their whims. Accurate time keeping is essential to ensure a semblance of normality between the stars (and it's the subject of many a cosmic treaty - and casus belli for many a war). Inaccurate timekeeping, on the other hand, can create vast and powerful exotic effects that defy the laws of sun and sky. This field, calendrical theory, can hurl ships across the cosmos, scour planets, transform death into life and life into art.

These effects are created through the observance of holidays, particularities of societal structures, implications and deeper meanings and interpretations of portents. If tarot met analytic number theory and had a drug-fuelled threesome with astrology, their child of uncertain parentage would look something like calendrical theory. A ruler who follows the right calendrical mathematics may force the stars themselves to bow.

Ships turn calendrical theory into stellar speeds through the operations of a particular kind of calendar-stone, part sundial part abacus part grandfather clock, and particular sorts of sacrifices and observances at holy hours and on holy days. The calendar-room is often by the helm of the ship, including not only the great calendar-stone but also a small podium and benches for the crew's observances and altar for sacrifices. The art of piloting includes training in calendrical mechanics, so that a ship's captain will know the proper observances to follow on major trade routes, and be able to calculate the days and times and forms for other observances when travelling off the beaten path. Some sample observances are listed below.

Calendars may have d20 months, each with d8 weeks, of d12 days each. It’s not particularly important. What matters more is how many holy days (and therefore how many observances) may occur during a trip. This can be used by a GM to provide some semblance of time passing on a long-haul voyage.

12 Holy Days and their Observances
1. Journey’s Eve. For luck, and speed, and the willingness of the thirsty stars to speed your passage. Let 1 HP of blood from each crew member, mingle them in a bowl, then use the blood to trace your route on a map of the stars.
2. The Traitor-Saint’s Feast. Memorializes a day of betrayal, when a general slew not only the entire enemy force but his own as well. The captain and first officer must duel to first blood with ceremonial knives.
3. Grievesgiving. For morale purposes, to ensure that the crew shares in everything – the good and the awful. Dissect a small creature alive while each crew member announces a personal grievance they have with another crewer. Each crew member must eat a different organ, raw and dripping.
4. Lessenday. Let go of the burden of old doubts, old connections, old horrors. Make room for the new. Burn a meaningful journal page from each crew member’s diary. The memories on it are lost.
5. Strifemorrow. Scarify each crew member. The lines, together, form a picture of some relevance to recent events.
6. New Star’s Day. A star has pronounced a new year. Light a candle for each day of the voyage, let them melt down over the course of the day, then each crewer drinks a sip of the scalding wax.
7. The Funeral of Night. For the dead between the stars, always remembered, though never named. Draw lots. The loser must spend the day strapped to the hull in a vac-suit, meditating upon infinity, and gains d4 Stress.
8. Culling-Fast. All crew must act as if dead, carrying out their duties in solemn, sullen silence. None may acknowledge each others’ presence. Disadvantage on all tests, as if operated by a skeleton crew. The captain may not issue orders without breaking the Fast.
9. Justice Day. A member of the crew (chosen by lot) recounts their sins. They must be thematically punished for each.
10. Hedon’s Hour. For an hour, the crew participate in substance-fuelled debauchery, then return to their work. Roll on a Carousing table if you’d like.
11. Talk Like The Captain Day. Started as a joke. Everyone played into it. Now it’s not a joke anymore and the worlds are poorer for it. Everyone’s the captain today. All orders must be followed as if they came from the captain. Minor mutinies are unfortunate but expected.
12. All Hallow’s Eve. Everyone dresses up. Sweets are distributed. Roll for a random encounter.

Using calendrical mechanics on the scale of societies produces vast arcane effects. Locally, it's far weaker and more unstable, yet may be harnessed by a cunning or desperate crew. Emergency observances can be made to roll for Calendrical Distortions upon the laws of nature; for every observance you make, you get to roll on the spell list and choose between all the results. Cast it at starship scale, with (dice) equal to the number of different observances made. Mishaps are on the following table.

Distortion Mishaps
1. Space Invades. One inhabited compartment at random is filled with vacuum and stars for (dice) minutes.
2. Star Light, Star Bright, Last Star I See This Life. All ship’s sensors are whited out for (sum) rounds. Navigate and fire by memory or not at all.
3. It Is Not The Day That It Was. Local calendars all move (sum) days into the future.
4. Crunch Time. The ship takes (dice)*3 damage.
5. Morphological Breakdown. Everyone aboard saves or mutates. The mutation lasts (sum) minutes. Save at the end of the duration vs. permanence.
6. Yearning, Burning. A star is here. It asks for a sacrifice. Choose someone aboard and inflict (dice) wounds on them. Every major wound you inflict this way lets you add an additional die to the spell.

by Adam Burns
The Hull
It’s all that protects you from falling forever. Damage follows the vehicle rules. Damage below 0 HP inflicts a Breach. When a ship is reduced to -max HP, it's Wrecked. Warning klaxons scream their final screams through the thin, venting air. All hands scramble to abandon ship, or die in the frigid airless dark. The wreck remains, floating through eternity, a warning to all that there is no mercy and even less justice in the dark. Depending on the nature of the final blow, the evacuation procedure may be easier, harder, or impossible. A result of Wrecked always results in an inoperable ship.

1. Punctured. Air stars venting. Patching breach ends Venting.
2. System Shocked. Random accessory stops working until fixed.
3. Engines Cut. Can't change heading until engines repaired.
4. Fuel Breach. Ship takes (Fuel Die) additional fire damage. Deplete Fuel die 1 level.
5. Cargo Ruined. (damage) units of cargo destroyed. If more damage than cargo, excess damage goes to crew quarters.
6. Life Support Failing. Air stops being recycled, and gravity shuts off until life support fixed.

1. Torn In Two. The rending shriek of metal, then it splits down the middle. Half Air, air starts venting.
2. Behelmed. A precision strike or lucky shot annihilates the bridge. Everyone at helm saves vs. death. Air starts venting.
3. Hulled. The outer plating has been blasted away, and all the insides are bleeding out. Everyone aboard saves or is blown out a breach. Thin Air, air starts venting.
4. Core Breach. The ship's engine is a source of incredible power, and now all that power is released at once. Every breach occurs simultaneously. Everyone on board takes 3d6 fire damage (save for half) as the compartments fill with roaring flame. Half Air, air starts venting.

Sometimes you’ll need to figure out which specific compartment gets hit, or infested, or irradiated, etc. This table is organized roughly by average mass in a ship. Replace areas as necessary to fit the plan of your ship.

Random Compartments
2. Captain’s Quarters
3. Lounge
4. Engines
5. Random Accessory
6. Access Corridor
7. Crew Quarters
8. Cargo Bay
9. Random Accessory
10. Fuel Storage
11. Sundial
12. Helm

20 Accessories
1. Ablative Plating: 1 cargo slot of plating = +3 ablative armor (destroyed before HP loss).
2. Autobrain: Doesn't need a pilot, will follow simple orders (a short program of directional and acceleration instructions) input through levers in pilot's seat and continue executing them until complete or OVERRIDE switch thrown. 1-in-20 chance to fail to execute any particular order.
3. Cannons: Old-fashioned broadsides. Works at short range. d8 damage per cannonshot, requires manual reload. 2 cargo capacity.
4. Cargo Straps: Can hold (capacity/4) cargo on outside of ship. This cargo is automatically destroyed when damage occurs.
5. Escape Pods: 1 slot per 3-person pod. Pods are self-propelled at 4 Power, 4 Handling, 4 Durability, 1d4 Fuel, 1d4 Life Support. Manually launched in emergency.
6. Exo-Butchery: Lets you carve your way into dead star-beasts and wrecked enemy hulls. A tube through the butchery apparatus lets brave crew enter the target to harvest the internals. Butchering a resisting target requires the target to make a Durability save, or take d6 damage. Must be in docking range to butcher. 4 cargo slots.
7. Grapples: On hit, locks you to your target. Whoever has more Power gets to determine the course of the two ships. Can pull closer to target on successful Power test. 2 cargo slots. Works at short range.
8. Hangar Bays: Can take up to half of the cargo slots of a ship. Includes launching and docking mechanisms for vessels of a size up to (slots).
9. Hushfields: Ship can’t be detected until short range unless it’s being actively looked for. 1 slot per 10 HP
10. Inkburster: Nulls light in a 10-point radius. Even suncasters can’t penetrate it (or fire out). Each inkburst takes 1 cargo; so does the apparatus to launch them.
11. Luxury Berths: 1 slot per luxury berth. Fit for a mid-level bureaucrat, an easily-pleased noble heir, or your inconvenient aunt.
12. Magic Missiles: A spellbook and auto-reader that casts an amplified form of Magic Missile. Works within visual range. d4 damage per missile, ignores Shields.
13. Mines: Dropped in wake, detonates when something comes within 2-point radius dealing d10 damage. Each mine takes up 1 cargo.
14. Mining Array: Can mine valuable materials from objects in the sky. 4 cargo slots. Mangles whatever you’re mining with it; this matters less for a chunk of ore than the hull of a station.
15. Observatory: Can make out close details of objects from edge of visual range. 2 slots.
16. Ramming Prow: Deal ramming damage with advantage and take damage when ramming with disadvantage (see Vehicle rules).
17. Shields: Soaks damage each round before damage goes to HP. Regenerates each round. Fails at 0 HP. 1 Shield per 2 points of cargo capacity taken up by shield generators.
18. Suncasters: A miniature sun, amplified and emitted through a metalwork tube of lenses. Very angry. Works within visual range. d6 damage per caster, overheats on a 5 or 6 (recharges manually). 2 cargo capacity.
19. Tactical Sundial: By performing a particular Observance, you can reliably trigger a particular Calendrical Distortion at 1 die. Rolling a 6 on that die triggers a random Distortion Mishap. Requires 5 cargo slots, and only one tactical sundial can be present aboard a ship at once. Calendars brook no disagreement.
20. Thaumion Torpedo: Launcher takes up 2 cargo, one torpedo takes up 1 cargo. The payload is a powerful scroll, and is exactly as expensive as that implies. Mechanizes the spellcasting process by forcing a load of thaumions through the scroll, casting the spell at maximum power. Spells cast through Thaumion Torpedoes are cast at 1 die.

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