Vehicle Rules

Vehicles are categorized by scale, which is part of the ladder:

Scale Crew Passengers Cargo Unit Examples
Human (0) 1 0 1kg Skimboard, para-wing glider
Small (1) 1 0–1 10kg Speederbike, swoopbike
Compact (2) 1 ×1 100kg Landspeeder, airspeeder, swoop, skiff, podracer, small starfighter
Medium (3) 1–2 ×2 1 ton Starfighter, hovertank, lorry, APC, pinnace, gunship
Large (4) 2–4 ×5 10 tons Courier, gig, scout, shuttle, yacht, light freighter, cutter, bomber, blastboat
Huge (5) 8–50 ×50 100 tons Medium freighter, passenger ship, tug, light corvette
Immense (6) 30–200 ×100 1000 tons Heavy freighter, passenger liner, small space station, corvette, frigate
Gigantic (7) 50–5,000 ×500 10,000 tons Bulk freighter, destroyer, light cruiser
Gargantuan (8) 100–25,000 ×5,000 100,000 tons Superfreighter, cruiser
Colossal (9) 50,000–250,000 ×50,000 1,000,000 tons Battleship, dreadnought

The small end of crew ranges is for freighters; the large end is for military vessels. The passenger rating is the multiplier for passenger accommodations (see Cargo); the passengers on military vessels are usually troops. The Cargo Unit is the increment used for calculating bulk cargo.

Vehicle Mechanics

The fractal nature of the Fate system is that everything is a character, including vehicles, which all have skills, aspects, stunts, and stress tracks. Some skills can be taken more than once: a vessel may take Cargo multiple times to represent both bulk cargo and passenger capacity, or Weapons multiple times to represent different weapon systems. The scale factor of vehicles affects comparisons: a starfighter with Fair Maneuver has two shifts of advantage over a light corvette with Fair maneuver, and that light corvette’s Good weapon is two shifts better than the starfighter’s.

Aspects

Vehicles start with their aspects. Your basic vehicle has aspects based on its phases of creation:

Fighter designations include heavy, air superiority, interceptor, escort, bomber destroyer, strike (aka fighter-bomber).

More advanced vehicles may have more aspects. Some sample aspects to spark ideas:

Hawk-Bat Out of Hell What a piece of junk! All the Comforts of Home Battered and Ancient
Blazingly Fast Creature Comforts Got It At a Foreclosure Auction Lemon
Lucky Ship’s Felinx Mating Display Military Surplus Missed the Last Five Maintenance Cycles
Old Reliable Ostentatious Record Breaker Seen Plenty of Action
Sexy Streamlining Steers Like a Bantha That’s My Home, Damnit! The Best Defense is a Good Offense
There’s Always Room for a Paying Passenger Touch of a Mad Scientist Touch of a Master Shipwright Work of Art
Fortuitously Flaky

Stress and Consequences

Vehicles have two combat stress tracks:

In Flight Spacedock
Consequence Time Difficulty Time Cost
Minor An afternoon Great (4) A few hours –3
Moderate A few days Fantastic (6) A day –2
Severe A few weeks Legendary (8) A week –1
Extreme Not possible A month 0

Repairing stress goes faster in spacedock (either a fixed facility or a flight bay on a much larger craft) than in flight. The cost in spacedock is relative (in shifts) to the cost of a new vehicle— fixing an Extreme consequence is comparable to getting a new ship, though might still be worthwhile if you have a lot of customizations or are otherwise fond of the vehicle. Fixing Systems consequences is one step easier than Structural consequences— you get to pick whether it takes less time, money, or difficulty. (Pirates usually pack ion cannons for this reason.) Fixing a system in flight only reduces the consequence by one level; it will still need some spacedock time for any but Minor consequences to be fully repaired.

Type Minor (2) Moderate (4) Severe (6) Extreme (8) Taken Out
Structural Hull Breach; Hatch Fused; Lost a Vertical Stabilizer Lost an Engine; Section Depressurized Structural Integrity Compromised The Ion Drives are Scragged Broken into scrap; exploded
Systems Comm is Out; Lost Power to the [System]; Broken Coolant Lines Computer is Fried; Heat Exchanger Offline Power Distribution Network is Wrecked The Fusion Plant is Toast Dead in space with no life support
Ship QualityPeak SkillXP
FairGood30
GoodGreat70
GreatSuperb140

Vehicles have a double-width skill pyramid: there are two things at which they excel, four below that, six below that, and so on. (This can be rearranged with experience points, and the pyramid need not be strictly observed; a Great ship can go 2-4-8-2 instead of 2-4-6-8.) The quality of the vehicle is specified on the ladder, and the peak of the pyramid is one step better than the vehicle’s quality. E.g.: an Average vehicle is Fair at a couple of things and Average at several more; this would correspond to a completely no-frills creation (like a Tata Nano). Your basic vehicle is Fair, making it Good at a couple of things. Starfighters usually focus on Weapons and Maneuver; freighters usually on Cargo and Hyperdrive; capital ships on Structure and Weapons.

Vehicle Skills

This is very different from how Starblazer Adventures handles starships. They have a direct correlation between size and capability. In Star Wars, small fighters can zip past ponderous capital ships.

Armor

Physical armor (laced with superconductors that resist ion damage) that protects the insides of the ship from both structural and systems damage. The armor’s rating subtracts from the shifts of damage from incoming attacks. It is normally present on military vessels; civilian vessels are more likely to rely on shields, though Average or Fair armor on a light freighter won’t raise any eyebrows in a spaceport. If two ships have the same Maneuver rating and different Armor ratings, the one with less Armor will be faster in a stern chase.

When dealing with minion groups, the lowest Armor of an active group member reduces incoming stress on the group. Extra armor on the leader only protects the stress boxes of the leader.

Example: A lead fighter with Armor 3 has a Fair wingman with Armor 2. With the wingman attached as a minion, the fighter gets a +1 bonus. While the wingman is attached, they are protected by Armor 2; if stress blows right past the wingman, the extra point of armor applies before it affects the lead fighter.

Cargo

By default, a starship has just enough space for its crew, their personal belongings, and necessary consumables. Cargo represents excess capacity over that. The skill can be taken multiple times for different cargo holds, and can have a variety of descriptors:

Reverse engineering: we want a light freighter (Large (4)) with Great (4) bulk cargo to hold about 150 tons. A YT-1300 has 100 tons, a Dynamic-class has about 60 tons, a Ghtroc 720 has 135 tons. Great is a dozen, so let’s have that modify a basic amount of about 10 tons of cargo. That happens to be about what Great cargo should be for Medium (3) vehicle like a lorry— let’s say that the basic amount for that is a ton. Then for a Compact (2) vehicle like a pickup truck, a ton is Great and 100kg would be Average for the boot of a car. For a Small (1) vehicle like a swoopbike, 100kg is great and 10kg is Average.

  • Bulk: This is a straightforward multiplier of the Cargo Unit for the ship’s Scale (so 10 tons for a light freighter) by the imprecise Amount rating on the ladder. A Dynamic-class freighter like the Ebon Hawk, with 60 tons of cargo, would be Fair (2); a YT-1300 like the Millennium Falcon, with 100 tons of cargo, would be Good (3); a Ghtroc 720, at 135 tons, would be Great (4).
  • Module: Subtract 6 from the scale of the ship, add that to the rating for cargo modules, and index the Amount ladder. Thus, in a Large (4) ship, a Fair (2) cargo rating gets you one, a Good (3) rating gets you 2–3, and Great (4) will get you 4–5. In a Huge (5) medium freighter, Average (1) gets you one and Great (4) gets you a dozen; in an Immense (6) heavy freighter, Average (1) gets you a few and Great (4) gets you a score.
  • Barracks: bunks, communal showers, and common rooms suitable for carrying troops or starship crew. This is the baseline for starships: look up the Passengers multiplier for the ship’s scale and the Amount on the ladder, so a light freighter with Average (1) barracks-quality accommodations can handle (a few)×5, or about 10–15 people.
  • Passenger seating: accommodations for short journeys, usually under 24 hours— seats usually recline, and there’s usually a small fresher for every 30 people. Multiply the number of passengers by 2; a Large (4) shuttle with Good (3) passenger seating has (a bunch)×5×2, or 80 seats.
  • Hibersleep: accommodations for putting your passengers into hibernation for the entire journey. This can pack them in the same as passenger seating, but for weeks at a time. People don’t pay much for hibersleep berths unless there’s an emergency evacuation, though.
  • Staterooms: comfortable accommodations for longer journeys. Requires at least Fair (2) Life Systems skill; anything less than that is just barracks. Divide the number of passengers by two, so Fair (2) staterooms on a light freighter gets you about half a dozen— that’s about right if you want the ambience of the Serenity. A Large (4) yacht with Great (4) accommodations has (a dozen)×5÷2 about thirty staterooms; an Immense (6) passenger liner (or small space station) with Great (4) accommodations has over 500.
  • Medical bay: facilities for treating people with injuries. This allows someone with medical training to use their full skill to perform surgery, and to keep someone in fragile condition alive. A medical bay has well-instrumented bunks (which can slide out on repulsorlifts for organic attention); it can hold half as many people as barracks. A Good (3) or better medical bay has biosynthesis gear capable of cranking out vaccinations for the entire crew, as long as you have up-to-date information about the hazards on the next planet you intend to visit.
  • Workspace: room for a physical workspace— a Laboratory or Workshop or Study. (A Library takes up almost no space, but a dedicated workspace stocked with holoscreens, holoprojectors, comfortable thinking chairs, or a conference table does.) Workshops are common on ships that ply the hyperlanes of colony worlds, as they may be able to crank out vital replacement parts on worlds that lack the infrastructure to maintain advanced fabbers. Subtract one from the scale factor of the ship to get the maximum quality of workspace per point of Cargo skill, so Average (1) on a light freighter (4) can have a Good (3) workspace, Fair (2) up to a Fantastic (6) space; in a van (3), Fair (2) Cargo can only hold a Great (4) space.
  • Livestock: facilities for handling herd animals.
  • Tanks: storage for homogeneous fluids.
  • Hazmat: storage for hazardous materials, providing extra protection and containment.
  • Magazine: this cargo hold is full of missiles or torpedoes to feed to a missile launcher. Proton torpedoes take 1 ton each (so indexing the rating of the hold on the Amount ladder gives you the number of torpedoes); concussion missiles are lighter, so add 1 to the rating to get the amount.
  • Bomb Bay: this cargo hold is designed to securely store bombs and missiles and deliver them to targets.

Cargo gets rolled as a skill the answer to can we fit all that in there? is not obvious. Being too ambitious may lead to temporary Aspects such as overloaded.

Stunts

Bulk Carrier

Your ship carries a lot, but is very, very slow. It operates on an entirely different maneuvering scale, where it is only worth rolling to compare with other bulk carriers. Multiply cargo capacity by 10; the spine of the ship is protected by Armor, but the cargo is not. This only applies to Immense (6) ships and bigger.

Jettison System

Makes it easy to quickly dump cargo if your ship is overloaded or an Imperial Auditor is there to make sure you’re paying the appropriate tribute on something you shouldn’t be carrying. This is needed much less than in later eras, as it is very rare for a cargo to be banned.

Smuggling Compartment

A cargo hold that is concealed as something else: extended range fuel tanks, redundant life support under the decks, etc. The difficulty of picking up the compartment on scans is the quality of your ship or the best effective Technician skill working on the compartment (including modifications for stunts, complementing from Scholarship, etc.), whichever is better.

Electronic Countermeasures

This also includes stunts like launching flares, stuttering chunks of fusing plasma out of your ion drives, and so on.

Starblazer Adventures has a skill for the Electronic Warfare Suite, which can be used to cause ship system stress. I have trouble believing in ECM causing system stress— they talk about attacks with computer viruses, but who would design a ship to be vulnerable to that kind of thing in the first place? Anything not protected by one-time pads distributed among the fleet by courier ships or comm lasers should be automatically rejected.

Jamming

This is a contest between ECM and Sensors; if you win, you can disrupt your target’s communications.

Deception

ECM can be used to disguise your ship’s signature at long range. Roll against the Sensors of the detecting craft to give them a false impression. At shorter ranges, it can be used to defend against someone using the Targeting trapping of Sensors.

Antimissile

Breaking the target lock on a homing missile. Roll against the Weapon rating of the missile. This is an attack action; antimissile operators usually keep held actions. The rating of the ECM is of primary importance, but can be complemented by an operator with a higher Technician skill than the ECM’s rating.

Stunts

Broadband Guidance Jamming

The ECM operator can target all incoming torpedoes by taking a –1 to the effective quality of the ECM system.

Flight Bay

A Nebulon-B frigate (Immense (6)) has 24 fighters; another frigate has 18. A Star Destroyer (cruiser, Gargantuan (8)) has 72 fighters (6 squadrons) and 8 shuttles. A venator-class star destroyer (battleship, Colossal (9)), has 420 starfighters (35 squadrons).

Space dedicated to small craft, including securing them against acceleration, launch and landing, and maintenance. The base scale of vehicles for a flight bay is three levels below that of the ship: a Large (4) shuttle can hold numerous Small (1) speederbikes or a few Compact (2) landspeeders. An Immense (6) frigate can hold numerous Medium (3) starfighters or a few Large (4) shuttles. A Gargantuan (8) cruiser can hold numerous Huge (5) 12-fighter squadrons. (For numerous, add 2 shifts to the Flight Bay rating on Amount. For a few, take the Flight Bay’s rating directly.)

Stunts

Quick Launch

Normally a flight bay can launch only one vehicle per turn. This allows launching an entire squadron each turn.

Carrier Bays

Requires Quick Launch and Gigantic (7) or better size.

The ship is designed as a carrier for holding fighter squadrons; this doubles the capacity of all Flight Bays.

Hyperdrive

The defining quality of a starship is a hyperdrive. Mediocre (0) is no hyperdrive at all. In this era, Average is ×15, Fair is ×10, Good is ×8, Great is ×6, Superb is ×5, Fantastic ×4, where ×1 is 1 hour to travel 100 parsecs. This can be bought twice if you want a backup hyperdrive that lets you limp into port if your primary hyperdrive goes out while you are between stars, but from a gamer-level perspective, “the party have to rig a carbon-sleep apparatus and come out a thousand years in the future” isn’t the sort of thing you inflict on players as part of a blown astrogation check, so players may freely neglect installing a backup hyperdrive.

Hyperdrives only operate in fairly flat space; they normally need to get about a planetary diameter out before they can enter hyperspace. Within a well-mapped system’s Kuiper belt (about 50 AU or 7 light-hours), they’re reliable; further out, it is extremely risky to deviate from known courses unless you have Intuitive Astrogation.

Entering hyperspace requires time to make very precise measurements of reference stars and lining up your vector before engaging the hyperdrive. Your ship cannot be defended with Pilot or engage in other maneuvering while doing so. This is a Fair (2) Technician check with a base time of ¼ hour, which can be reduced with shifts; if you can reduce it to a few moments, you can leave combat by entering hyperspace with only a single exchange with no Pilot defense, and if you can take it to instant, you can jump right out of a firefight!

It takes time to get a starship’s hyperdrive powered up and ready to make the jump; this can happen without making the astrogation calculations. While this is happening, the ship’s engineer cannot make maneuvers to divert energy to other systems. The base time is a few moments; add the ship’s scale, subtract the Systems rating, divide by two (rounding up), and consult the time increments table.

A decrepit scale 9 transport with 100,000 troops on board takes ½ hour to get its hyperdrive ready. The smallest hyper-capable ships are scale 4. DE p306

The difficulty of figuring out the speed at which someone is entering hyperspace is a check by your sensor operator against their ship’s ECM rating.

Astrogation is normally a matter of “plug your astromech droid into the console”, but if you’re a hyperspace explorer, it’s like a vector-drawing program (in a holodisplay with smart gloves) where the computer has the precise coordinates of all the known objects and their estimated masses, as well as estimated hyperspace anomalies, and you can tweak how much weight to put on the various inputs or throw in your own perturbations. You can do it by punching in numbers or messing with graphical verniers. Intuitive astrogation involves manipulating the inputs until they “feel” right; the Force won’t give you numbers, but it can tell you “a little more weight on that one” or “add a drift here”. The base time for astrogation is 1 hour, which can be reduced with shifts on the Technician check. If you can get nav data that is less than one day old, you may free-tag Fresh Nav Data; barring computer crashes, anyone emerging from hyperspace automatically has Fresh Nav Data for the route they just traversed.

Astrogation presumes you have a good map. Producing one for an entire system has a base time of a month; producing one for a single planet and its moons (suitable for setting up the “blink-jumps” used to ambush someone emerging from hyperspace) has a base time of a day. This is a Sensors check with difficulty equal to the Technician check for astrogation, with extra shifts reducing time as usual. Maps for well-visited systems are usually very cheap.

The scale of the maps in The Essential Atlas is one square (◻) being 5000 light years or 1534 parsecs.

Astrogation Difficulty
Interstellar Route In-System Hop Difficulty
Major Trade Route Moonless planets Average (1)
Minor Trade Route Planets with few moons Fair (2)
Tertiary Trade Route Complex system (e.g.: co-orbital planets) Good (3)
Regularly traversed hyperlane Gas giant orbit with dozens of moons Great (4)
Rarely traversed hyperlane Trojan asteroid cluster Superb (5)
Ancient hyperlane Asteroid swarm Fantastic (6)
No data Unstable asteroid swarm (e.g.: rubble of recently destroyed moon) Epic (7)
Deep Core Intervening comet +1
Hyperdrive Speed
Hyperdrive QualityMultiplier◻ Speed
Average (1) ×15 10 days
Fair (2) ×10 7 days
Good (3) ×8 5 days
Great (4) ×6 4 days
Superb (5) ×5 3 days
Fantastic (6) ×4 2½ days

A failed astrogation check may result in system stress to the ship; consequences may wind up with consequences like Blown Hyperdrive, or dropping a ship out between stars. Usually, if something has forced you out of hyperspace, there’s something in the vicinity to investigate, whether it be an uncharted brown dwarf or a Sargasso of dead starships that might be salvaged for parts...

Stunts

Cronau Pulse

Your hyperdrive is rigged to emit a pulse of Cronau radiation, which will cause hyperwave sensors to think your ship has entered hyperspace. This is usually synchronized with venting your fusion reactor’s plasma to instantly cease your neutrino emissions, so their neutrino detectors corroborate the vanishing. This means your ship has gone dark, running on fuel cells and maneuvering thrusters; if they know you’re there, you’re a sitting duck (as it takes a few minutes to start a starship fusion reactor), but if you’re behind a moon, cloud of chaff, large explosion, or a piece of junk from a space battle, your pursuers will have every reason to believe you’ve left the system if you win a contest between your Technician skill and their Sensors.

Life Systems

This represents the quality of the life systems on board ship. It abstracts elbow room, creature comforts, and the onboard ecosystem. Boosts endurance when carrying excess passengers, extends consumables, improves morale on long journeys. The skill helps with Resolve checks to avoid cabin fever, and to handle the demands if your cargo ship winds up carrying a bunch of refugees.

This is the Crew Quarters trapping on Systems in Starblazer Adventures.

  • Mediocre (0): cramped quarters, corridors where people have to back out to let someone else pass, enough bunks for a third of the crew, chemical toilet. Canned air, hard deadlines, tense journeys. Typical for Sith starfighters.
  • Average (1): corridors where Human-sized people can pass by turning to their sides (though you still have to make way for a Yuzzem, Herglic, or Wookiee), a dining nook next to the autochef, enough bunks for everyone (the captain may have a small stateroom), and you have to carefully plan access to the fresher at shift change. CO2 scrubbers, air cleaners, and UV sterilizers keep you breathing, but there’s still a pong to the air after a long hyperdrive trip; you sell heat-treated waste from the effluent tanks as fertilizer when you dock. This is about the level of the Millennium Falcon.
  • Fair (2): corridors broad enough for Human-sized folks to pass without brushing shoulders, cramped but individual staterooms, and a couple of freshers. Algae vats in your basic biocycler are more thorough about cleaning the air, give you flour to bake with, and reduce consumable usage by 10% (more if you have fewer passengers on board). This is about the level of the Serenity.
  • Good (3): Roomy and comfortable, with staterooms where you don’t have to fold the bed to the wall in order to work at a desk. The hydroponics systems give you fresh berries to top your algae porridge or stored rations and the air smells fresher than some planets you visit; consumable usage reduced 25%. This is comparable to a cruise ship.
  • Great (4): there’s carefully secured greenery all over the ship, fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers every day, and you don’t care that people tease you about flying a garden; consumable usage reduced 50%.
  • Superb (5): your ship has a resilient internal ecosystem; consumable usage reduced 75%.

Stunts

Submersible

Allows a vehicle to function underwater; a starship can dive by using antigravity, though a vehicle requiring stealth would need to devote a point of Cargo to ballast tanks. Its maximum operating depth is 100m × Structure.

Expansion Quarters

Your ship can deploy extra rooms, providing an expanded living space. It cannot fly or enter hyperspace in this state, but it is much more comfortable; in space, the ship will still need to operate its shields at a low power level to screen against cosmic rays and other radiation hazards. This is most often seen on yachts. For checks involving roominess (such as avoiding cabin fever), gives +2 to the effective quality of the living quarters while deployed.

Luxury

Requires Good (3) Life Systems. Your ship has all the trappings of luxury: marble tiles, wood paneling, shimmersilk draperies, and chromasheath and nerf-leather upholstery.

Maneuver

The vehicle’s handling and acceleration. This represents anything from ion drives, attitude jets, and antigravity systems on starships to jets and control surfaces on aircraft to engines and wheels on groundcars. If you need to convert starship maneuver to gravities, just take the triangle number of the value (so Average is 1g, Great is 10g). If a starship is overloaded or damaged to reduce its effective Maneuver to Mediocre or worse, divide by 2 for each step (so Mediocre is 1/2g and Terrible is 1/8g).

For racing vehicles, this may be broken out into Acceleration and Maximum.

Dodging

When dodging incoming fire, or firing fixed-mount weapons, the ship’s Maneuver restricts the pilot’s skill, so a ship that isn’t up to your skills gives you a –1 penalty, but a hotshot pilot can still make a garbage scow do the unexpected. If you’re just taking a sprint action to cover zones in space combat, or involved in a stern chase where nothing but acceleration matters, just roll Maneuver.

Sprinting

When it comes to matters of pure acceleration, roll Maneuver as a sprint action.

Stunts

Surge

Once per scene, the vehicle can draw on extra resources (afterburners, nitrous oxide, etc.) to add +2 zones on top of a normal zone movement. In a race, it adds +2 to acceleration maneuvers and +4 to your maximum speed in the exchange in which you use it; the +4 wears off at 1 point per exchange.

Streamlining

Your Maneuver is considered 2 points higher for purposes of determining top speed in an atmosphere. Most starships don’t bother with this— only the most fragile of ships can’t land in a gravity well, thanks to shields and antigravity— as they can just configure the shape of their deflector shields, but fighters that may need to dogfight into atmosphere often have it. (Flickering your shields for your blaster cannon can be rather dangerous at supersonic speeds if your ship isn’t designed for it!) Starfighters without this stunt can are designed to only operate outside atmosphere.

Pirouette

Requires Maneuver 4.

Your vehicle has received considerable attention and customization from highly talented engineers and is able to maneuver as if it were one scale factor smaller (with respect to being targeted by capital ship weapons, dogfighting, and using starship maneuvers)— thus making a light freighter able to perform like a starfighter. (Ships with this trait include the Millennium Falcon, the Ebon Hawk, the Rogue Shadow, and the Mynock. Note that a generic YT-1300 does not have the stunt; this has to be achieved through customization. The Tantive IV would be a good candidate for applying the stunt as well, though it isn’t canon.)

Sensors

This measures both raw sensor sensitivity as well as signal-processing capability for ECCM. The rating of the sensors is of primary importance, but can be complemented by an operator with a higher Technician skill (itself complemented by Alertness) than the sensors’ rating. Sensors include:

  • Passive wide-band electromagnetic receivers; these are usually black hemispheres or flattened ellipsoids spread over the hull, sensitive to everything from the far infrared to X-rays, and antennas for longer wavelengths. These are laid out to get 360° spherical coverage, usually with redundancy in case some are hit in combat.
  • Parabolic antenna/mirror telescopes on pop-up turrets that can zoom in on targets that have been picked out on other sensors.
  • Active lidar, generated by solid-state free-electron lasers that can generate frequencies from radar to the ultraviolet. (This includes ground-penetrating lidar.) This makes your ship very obvious— in general, active sensors can be detected on passive sensors at twice the range at which the passive user can be detected on active sensors— but they provide an effective searchlight for seeking targets.
  • Passive neutrino detectors, which detect operating fusion plants. You have to shut down your own fusion plant and switch to fuel cells to get full efficacy out of a neutrino detector; otherwise you take a –2 for (metaphorically) operating a blowtorch in front of your thermal imaging scope. Capital ships usually dispatch a few pinnaces or cutters into mapping orbits when they need to hunt fusion plants.
  • Passive gravimeters; the lowest-quality ones are adequate to tell you if you’re going to shred your hyperdrive by engaging it, and high-quality ones can be used for orbital mineral surveys.
  • Passive hyperwave detectors, which can pick up the Cronau radiation of hyperspace wakes and hyperwave communications— once the detectors are about half a planetary diameter above the surface of a world.

The difficulty of detecting a target starts with the range; always subtract the scale of the target, and if it has fired up its engines, subtract the Maneuver as well. (A vehicle running on fuel cells, gravitics, and repulsorlifts is slow, but very stealthy. Turning on the fusion plant and firing up the reaction drives makes a ship very obvious, though ECM can disguise the signature at long range to look like a different kind of ship of similar size.)

Searching

Outside combat, Sensors acts as both passive Alertness and active Investigation.

Targeting

In combat, a sensor operator can roll to place fragile aspects like Highlighted or Firing Solution on other ships, which can then be tagged by other crew for attack or defense. The other ships defend with ECM.

Shields

Force fields that protect the whole ship from damage. Scale 0 vehicles (e.g.: skimboard) cannot have shields. Scale 1 vehicles (e.g.: speederbikes) can deflect bugs and weather, but you can’t get enough power onto one to power serious shields. Scale 2 (e.g.: landspeeders) can handle hand weapons. Scale 3 can handle starfighter weapons. Mediocre starship shields can handle the usual orbital debris that occurs around any world with active starflight, but won’t hold up against real ship weapons.

Shields have their own stress track with a number of boxes equal to their rating; they provide armor equal to the number of clear boxes on the stress track. If an attack is strong enough to penetrate shields in the first place, it will always mark off a box of shield stress even if it has so many shifts it goes straight to the structural or systems tracks. For every 2 points of shields, they can absorb a Minor consequence (e.g.: Rear Deflector Down). Unlike other starship stress, shield stress and consequences can be dealt with in combat, using Technician as a medical skill to clear boxes of stress or as a maneuver to change the consequence to cover a different area. Once all boxes are filled, your shields are down; bringing them back up (charging capacitors, resetting circuit breakers, running diagnostics, etc.) requires a Fair (2) Technician check with base time of ¼ hour, which can be reduced as usual by shifts.

It’s trivial to set maneuvers on your own shields like All Power to Forward Deflector, which you can tag when resisting head-on attacks and opponents can compel when they sneak up behind you.

When starships attack in mobs, the lowest Shields rating protects the group of minions from stress; as the minions are taken out, or if the group splits up, the checked-off stress boxes apply to all members of the group.

Example: A lead fighter with Shields 3 has a Fair wingman with Shields 2. With the wingman attached as a minion, the fighter gets a +1 bonus. The first four boxes of stress done to them as a group takes out the minion; after the minion is taken out, the lead fighter has 2 boxes of shield stress.

Structure

Sturdy design; the equivalent of Endurance on a person, giving extra stress boxes to the ship’s structural stress track.

When starships attack in mobs, the lowest Structure rating lengthens the group’s stress track. As minions are taken out, the structure stress applies to remaining members of the group.

Example: A lead fighter with Structure 3 has a Fair wingman with Structure 1. With the wingman attached as a minion, the fighter gets a +1 bonus. The wingman has three boxes of stress (two for being Fair, one for Structure 1). After the minion is taken out, the lead fighter will have a point of structural stress.

Stunts

  • Takes a Beating: the ship can take two moderate structural consequences.
  • Amphibious: a vehicle that normally requires land can function on the water, and floats when all systems are shut down.
  • Folding: your vehicle can fold up for storage, occupying one less scale factor. It takes about a minute to unpack, engage locks, pressurize hydraulics, run self-checks, and so on. This is normally found on smaller vehicles like swoopbikes.
  • Reinforced Prow: the vehicle is designed for ramming maneuvers and adds Structure to the damage when ramming another vehicle. It is common to have an egress hatch in the reinforced prow so troops can deploy directly into the target vessel.
  • Deep Diver: requires Submersible. Allows the vehicle to dive 1km × Structure.
  • Warship Robustness: requires Scale Huge (5), Structure Average (1), Armor Average (1). The vehicle (likely a frigate or corvette) is built to military specifications, and simply shrugs off starfighter-scale weapons.
  • Capital Ship Robustness: requires Gigantic (7) Scale, Fair (2) Structure, Fair (2) Armor. The vehicle (likely a destroyer or cruiser) is built to take a serious pounding, and simply shrugs off warship-scale weapons.
  • Dreadnought Robustness: requires Colossal (9) Scale, Good (3) Structure. Good (3) Armor. The vehicle (likely a battleship or dreadnought) is one of the toughest things in space, shrugging off even capital ship weapons.

Systems

The active infrastructure of a starship or other large vehicle; this is absent on smaller vehicles. It is the equivalent to Resolve on a person, giving extra stress boxes to the ship’s systems stress track. This includes:

  • Communications: Average (1) on a light freighter means a single comm laser for secure short-range communication, a radio that can span a planetary diameter, and a hyperwave that can reach about 15 light-minutes.
  • Energy: anything from a starfighter on up has a fusion plant for running the ship at full power and fuel cells for times the fusion plant is offline.
  • Systems integration through the ship’s computer network.
  • Internal security systems.

Systems is also a measure of the ship’s resilience to system stress: circuit breakers, redundant power conduits, failover systems, tamper-proof one-time pads physically distributed to all nodes in the ship’s computer network to thwart onboard saboteurs, etc.

Systems complements the skill of the ship’s engineer when working on the ship during combat, such as putting Redlined on the ion drives or weapon systems.

When starships attack in mobs, the lowest Systems rating lengthens the group’s stress track. As minions are taken out, the structure stress applies to remaining members of the group.

Example: A lead fighter with Systems 3 has a Fair wingman with Systems 1. With the wingman attached as a minion, the fighter gets a +1 bonus. The wingman has three boxes of stress (two for being Fair, one for Systems 1). After the minion is taken out, the lead fighter will have a point of systems stress.

Stunts

  • Failover Backups: the ship can take an additional moderate systems consequence.
  • Anti-Theft: the ship gets a +2 on its Security rating and all attempts to resist being stolen or subverted, and gains an Anti-Theft Systems aspect that can be invoked in Security contests.
Crew Droid

You have a droid (probably an astromech, possibly a butler) dedicated to the ship. You have four advances to spend on the droid, likely on Quality or Skilled; you can get an astromech with Good quality and the Expert stunt in starship engineer, making it Superb on its Technician checks to help out. It probably has enough Pilot skill to lift the ship and get it out of harm’s way on its own initiative, but it won’t come in to pick you up until you’ve cleared it a safe zone for landing. If you want a plucky droid like R2-D2 who will fly the ship into combat, or leave the ship to stage a rescue, you need to take a personal stunt.

Long-Term Readiness

Your ship is designed to park someplace and stay there for a long time without moving. It has integrated dust covers (watertight, if you have the Amphibious stunt) and a network of conduits providing access to a swarm of small maintenance droids who are programmed to keep the ship ready to launch at an hour’s notice as long as they’re kept supplied properly (with lubricants and such). This is typically found on ships that act as service providers— flying service plants that can park in the middle of a war-torn city and plug into the remains of the local grid to provide power and clean water can do brisk business after a conflict.

Weapons

Can be bought multiple times for multiple weapons systems. Normal ship weapons can only target vessels at most 2 size factors smaller, but you can buy weapons for a smaller vehicle and use the difference in scale to either add to the effective Weapon rating or multiply the number of weapons. (e.g.: if you buy Human-scale (0) weapons for your Large (4) light freighter, buying it as Average (1) gets you anything from 4 Average anti-personnel weapons to one Superb cannon. Once you get into military vessels (with Warship Robustness or bigger), stop worrying about numbers and assume “there’s enough for everyone!”; just take the difference in scale (which must be at least 3) and divide by 2, rounding down, and add it to the skill to get the effective Weapon rating. (e.g.: if you buy starfighter-scale (3) weapons for your frigate (6), Fair (2) gets you enough Good (3) anti-starfighter weapons to defend the ship against as many fighters as will fit around it without interfering with each other.)

The overall weapon types:

  • Blaster cannon: does structural damage. These are often called laser cannon, thanks to marketing departments that ignore the complaints of the engineers that design the weapons, and turbolasers when particularly large, but the underlying operation is the same.
  • Ion cannon: does systems damage.
  • Concussion missile launcher: concussion missiles are designed to penetrate a normal (non-warship) hull and deliver an explosive payload that will disrupt a ship while leaving it largely intact. They are used against starfighters and shipping. They do two more shifts of damage than the weapon rating when they hit, but can be intercepted with ECM and point defense. The missile operator can set the missile for proximity detonation, which drops the targeting difficulty by one and causes the missile to do damage at the weapon rating instead. Typically requires the Guided Missiles stunt.
  • Proton torpedo launcher: a smart torpedo with a payload of a small (1 kiloton) hydrogen bomb. They do four more shifts of damage than the weapon rating when they hit, and are considered capital ship-scale weapons, but can be intercepted with ECM and point defense. The missile operator can set the missile for proximity detonation, which drops the targeting difficulty by one and causes the missile to do damage at the weapon rating instead. Typically requires the Guided Missiles stunt.
  • Bombsight: this measures the precision of the hardware your bombardier works with. It’s meaningless to take this without also buying a bomb bay.
  • Tractor beam: a graviton projector well-anchored to the ship’s superstructure; normally used to manipulate masses at least two scale factors smaller than the ship. Add the size difference between the craft to the weapon rating and roll against the target’s Maneuver; success indicates a tractor lock. It can be used against equal-sized or even larger vessels, but will pull the tractoring ship toward its target. This can be used to hitch a ride, though your tractor beam better be well-anchored if you’re towing your whole ship along!

Steffan: To use a real-world example, concussion missiles acted like sidewinder Air-to-air missiles, while Protons are like Harpoon Anti-ship missiles.

Weapons are also designated by role:

  • Fixed: the weapon is mounted to fire in the ship’s direction of motion, and is aimed using Pilot skill.
  • Turret: the weapon can move independently from the rest of the craft; all turrets can be controlled remotely (often by an astromech droid if there isn’t an organic gunner available). Manned turrets are often designed as escape pods.
  • Point defense: smaller-scale weapons that move fast enough to track smaller targets. Scale 0 weapons are antimissile or antipersonnel. scale 3 weapons are anti-starfighter. A Gargantuan (8) cruiser with Good (3) defenses against Medium (3) starfighters has 5 Good (3) starfighter-scale cannons. Point defense requires an offensive action; gunners on antimissile duty usually hold their actions and wait for incoming fire.

While this is bought as a skill, it is seldom rolled; it measures the effectiveness of a ship’s weapons, but the Guns skill (or Drive or Pilot, if they’re designed to fire along the vehicle’s direction of motion) of the character firing them determines whether they hit.

Stunts

  • Heavy Weapon: Requires Good (3) Systems (for the power requirements). One weapon system on your ship is scaled up to tackle vessels of the next level of robustness (e.g.: a blastboat targeting a warship, a warship fighting a capital ship, a capital ship fighting a dreadnought); calculate damage as if your vehicle were two shifts of scale bigger.
  • Spinal Mount: Requires a Great (4) Weapon and Great (4) Systems. Your starship is built around a big fixed weapon. This weapon operates at two levels of robustness higher than normal (e.g.: a blastboat targeting a capital ship), and only fires every ten rounds; calculate damage as if your vehicle were four shifts of scale bigger. (The ship’s engineer— who can be an astromech droid— can roll Technician against the power of the weapon; each shift reduces the recharge time by one round.) This is seen as a risky strategy, though many Sith Lords have been known to gamble on them.
  • Guided Missiles: The first shot with the weapon is controlled by the skill of the user. If it misses, the missile comes around for another pass, this time with skill equal to the weapon’s rating. The effective rating goes down by one for each round of attack; at zero, the weapon disarms. For each attack, the target has an opportunity to use ECM to break its targeting lock, and can use Guns for point defense to shoot down the missile. (Each of these requires that the person controlling the system has an offensive action to spare.)
    If you don’t buy a magazine for your weapon, it only gets three shots.
  • Linked Fire: normally, a cluster of linked weapons is represented by a single skill— whether you have one cannon or two or four linked ones is just a matter of style. This stunt represents the effects of the increased firepower, so hits do an extra point of stress. Usually the paired weapons are identical, but you can mix an ion cannon and blaster cannon of the same rating and they’ll do one box on each stress track. Take multiple times if you have multiple paired weapons systems.
  • Q-Ship: Your ship’s battle-readiness is camouflaged to appear either smaller and weaker or entirely absent. In combat, you take an action to pop up turrets, retract covers or jettison them with explosive bolts, and fire up the military grade sensors and shield generators; this puts a fragile aspect on the ship like That’s a Lot of Hardware!, which you can free-tag if you want to make an Intimidation check against your opponent, or just make your first volley that much bigger.

Improving Vehicles

Vehicles are physical objects and should not require experience to improve them; it should just be a matter of money and time. For game balance purposes, we still track experience points for them, but characters do not need to spend personal XP to improve vehicles.

When improving a vehicle, the rule of thumb is that you look up the vehicle’s category on the loot ladder, subtract 1, and that’s the price of one vehicle XP. This means that improving your swoopbike’s Maneuver from Good (3) to Great (4) costs ¤4,000, but doing the same for your light freighter costs ¤40,000.

Reallocating XP is 1 step cheaper, so swapping Good (3) and Great (4) ratings between two systems on your light freighter is only ¤20,000.

Grand Theft Starship

In a galaxy with million-credit yachts and giant dreadnoughts around, there is a lot of incentive to steal them, and that means that there’s a lot of security involved. Fundamentally, there are four strategies of security design:

Security usually involves authentication checks with biometrics and encryption keys, anti-tamper circuitry to prevent anyone from bypassing the authentication checks, and computers packed with write-once memory that insist on having a chain of authentication before they’ll obey orders. A small vessel like a light freighter usually has a list of people who have authority to access command functions, and they can then activate consoles to give the rest of the crew access to engines, weapons, and navigation. Military vessels usually have multiple cross-checks involved; the most successful strategy for a mutiny is to have enough of the crew subverted that when the senior officers are reported dead, there are enough people available to lie to the computer when it attempts to verify this that a mutineer is upgraded to command authority. Ships may attempt to query outside communications for cross-checks, though this is also a vulnerability: the same codes that can disable a ship full of mutineers, if stolen, could be used to disable a legitimate vessel in the middle of battle. (This is why competent officers prefer fail-safe security and taking good care of their subordinates, while conscript militaries prefer fail-secure.)

Type Minor (2) Moderate (4) Taken Out
Security Short-circuited; Impersonation Bypassed interface; Back door Administrator access; pwned
Hacker Transient Alert; Antitamper Triggered Security Alert; Signature Noted Lockdown; patrols dispatched

Mechanically, theft is a combat with the vehicle’s security. Normally, the level of Security on a vessel is equal to its Systems rating, plus its cost on the loot ladder – 3 (so a Superb-cost light freighter with Fair Systems has Great Security.) If an entity has Fate points to spend on behalf of the ship, aspects like Military and Luxury can be invoked to make it more secure. If a ship is currently on alert, the difficulty goes up by one; if the ship is at battle stations, by two.

On an active ship, thieves attack with Security against the ship’s Security. They deal stress to the ship’s security stress track (which has a number of boxes equal to the ship’s Security score), which can in turn take Consequences; there are no Severe or Extreme consequences in Security contests. Minor consequences go away automatically any time the attackers have to break off, such as when a patrol goes by in a corridor, due to sessions timing out, daemons respawning, circuits resetting, etc. Moderate consequences require attention from an administrator or engineer to clear. Base time on Security exchanges is a few minutes, and can be reduced on the Time Increments table by spending shifts. The ship deals composure stress to the hacker, with consequences involving the security system.

On an undefended ship, thieves also attack with Technician, to simply subvert the underlying mechanisms. This usually involves simply bypassing the installed security hardware and plugging in tech that you brought with you. A full starship theft kit is a Bulky backpack full of coiled fiber optic cables (which wind up strung along access corridors with bulkhead door propped open) and computing hardware that is preloaded with general purpose libraries for controlling 95% of ship types in the galaxy; this has Superb cost and is available from your friendly neighborhood black-ops equipment dealer. (If you know the precise make and model of starship that you intend to steal, setting up a single-purpose kit only has Great cost.) This gives you full control of the ship’s systems, making it possible to take it into combat. A hacker can simply plug their handheld in place of the ship’s central computer and have it talk to repurposed datapad brains on the other systems, but that effectively cripples the ship for combat, imposing a –2 on all actions that require fast response. The base time for an exchange is the vehicle’s Security rating on the Time Increments table, starting from a ½ minute at Mediocre; shifts can be spent to reduce the duration.