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Old 01-26-2022, 06:28 AM   #61
Rupert's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Wellington, NZ
Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

One thing to consider is what sort of shiny spaceships you want the system to encourage. Do you want a setting where it's "WWI in space"? Or "WWII in space?" Or maybe "The Cold War in space" or "galleys in space".

This often boils down to it being a 'big ship' or a 'small ship' setting. One where ships can carry weapons that easily destroy other ships regardless of size will encourage small (and thus cheap) ships. One where only big ships can hurt other big ships will tend towards warships becoming as large as the governments paying for them can afford, assuming no other limited exists.

As all spacecraft are moving through the same medium (magical drives aside), the aircraft vs ship distinction that so affected WWII naval warfare doesn't apply, so getting 'WWII in space' requires some fairly arbitrary rules and/or technological features, and is very hard to balance so that it's vaguely balanced and fun. Of course, if you're planning a game where everything is in transition to (or from) carriers, this won't be a problem.

Most WWII in space rules I've seen seem to expect it to be a sort of steady state, where powers will be battlestarships and carriers plus their 'fighters' and they'll all be useful. They'll probably have some sort of battlecarrier with fighters and guns in there too, and the rules will bend around it to make it actually useful.
Rupert Boleyn

"A pessimist is an optimist with a sense of history."
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Old 01-26-2022, 09:36 AM   #62
Fred Brackin
Join Date: Aug 2007
Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
My recollection of that system is that how fast ships were and how manoeuvrable was strongly based on what hull you chose and was pretty arbitrary.
There were breakpoints for speed and maneuverability but the really dubious areas involved engine size and number. One I remebr was that a size 19 ship required 4 class "C" engines but the size 20 ship (one larger) needed 8 for the same speed and maneuverability. Size 19 ended up being a lot cheaper.

The rules could also be arbitrary and simple but nonsensical. Ships carried one unit of cargo per size class. I think size 20 was something like 100x longer than size 1 never mind the other 2 dimensions.
Fred Brackin
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Old 01-26-2022, 12:47 PM   #63
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: near London, UK
Default Re: What RPG has the best spaceship design system?

There's presumably some foundational work of 1950s-1960s SF that defined the orthodoxy of WWII-like ship classes in space, but I haven't read it. (Certainly Traveller took it on board.) My general feeling is that even if you have crewed combat spacecraft in the first place, justifying space fighters is really hard without the advantage of a different medium to work in.

"So You Want To Build A Spaceship" (Pyramid3-94), which Timothy Ponce and I co-wrote, talks about how to select options in the GURPS Spaceships design system to get a particular feel.
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