Z-Zone Zena’s Guide to Haven Vehicles

Roads between Havens, like in Madagascar, don’t have a lot of asphalt. Usually they have big roller trucks that compress the soil and spray a biodegradable binding agent on the dirt to solidify it, followed by another batch of trucks that spray and shape a biodegradable foam to make the roads smooth. They have to go out and redo it every few months.

Pedal Power

The vast majority of vehicles in the Havens are pedal-powered, and there are so many variations that there are very few named projects to reference; it’s more of an entire design language. You walk into the bike workshop and say I need a troll-sized recumbent racing bike with aeroshell or dwarf-sized dirt bike or human-sized kick scooter or ork-sized folding commuter trike or human-sized cargo rickshaw with electric assist and they can fab up all the parts and put it together for you.

Scooters

Electric-powered kick scooters are more expensive to build and run than all the pedal-powered vehicles, but you get a fair number of them zipping around at 25 klicks for people who need to avoid working up a sweat to be presentable.

Walkers

Bipedal

The most basic walker is the mobility exoframe, which restores basic walking and lifting capability to people who have medical need. They have both physical and cybernetic interfaces.

They also scale up to utility exoframes, which give people greater lifting strength and endurance. There are some that let dwarfs and humans operate at troll scale.

It’s rare to scale past troll on a bipedal walker, though the Gundam Project continue to push the limits of the cube-square law in pursuit of giant robot awesomeness.

Quadrupedal

Generally cargo carriers for heavy terrain, but that doesn’t stop the research teams from holding all terrain mecha races.

Wheeled Vehicles

In the Mess, vehicles come off the assembly line with a limited set of factory options. In the Havens, vehicles are individually printed to the specifications of the person commissioning them. Rather than manufacturer-model-year, it's about project version, configuration, and customization. Artists make a lot of custom designs; if you feel like riding a wheeled carousel horse instead of a regular motorcycle, you can do it!

The main customization choices are for the rider's metatype (dwarf, elf/human, ork, troll/sasquatch, centaur, naga, pixie) and power source (electric, multifuel, and hybrid are the most common, followed by methanol fuel cells; Havens don't make much octane but they can crank out cooking oil and biodiesel easily enough). Then you can add tweaks like turbocharging and so on. The designers usually have the Haven "no sentient being left behind!" attitude, so rare drivers (like naga bikers and centaur truck drivers) often get free prototypes in exchange for feedback.

Most of the tech that goes into vehicles is really just spin-offs from various robots and drones, like robot tractors. There are underlying improvements to the wheel, such as in-wheel motors and Reconfigurable Wheel-Tracks that convert from rolling to treads on the fly.

Naga bikers? How does a naga ride a motorcycle?

Steel Lynx

The bike is built around an elliptical spool that acts like a crash cage if the bike goes down; you’re more likely to ever suffer road rash than I am. It has some flaps cutting down on the wind chill, and on the fuel burners there’s a shunt from the engine exhaust to loop it around the spool to warm the rider, or electric heating on the battery powered ones. The left/right/accelerate/brake controls are based on neck motion. It’s smart enough to lower the kickstand when it slows to a stop and pick it up again when you take off again. And there are always voice commands.

Takshaka

Driving Haven vehicles on Messy roads can be interesting because any vehicle without a license transponder is automatically considered suspicious, and licensing Haven vehicles requires both nuyen to pay the license fees and effort of navigating the bureaucracy to license a vehicle that lacks a manufacturing corporation.

There is a neverending arms race between autopilots and the hackers of autopilots, with the convenience of automated deliveries and driverless commuting warring against the risk of automated bomb delivery and ramming attacks. Haven autopilots err on the side of caution; they link to GridGuide and to the Haven equivalent, but using minimal protocols that require someone on board look over the route and approve course changes. It’s more of a hassle to ride with a Haven autopilot ’cos you can’t zone out and ignore the world until arrive at your destination.

Since there are loads of hackable autopilots out there on Messy vehicles, the Havens follow the Mess architectural trend of having big concrete planters that can stop or roll a berserk semi truck.

Roadrunner performance bike

The electric ones take off like a freaking rocket; as long as there are charging stations within the bike’s range, these are great. If not, go multifuel. This one scales really well, all the way from dwarf to troll.

Emu offroad bike

This one is sweet for the heavier types. The suspension is so enthusiastic that calmer dwarfs find it a little unnerving and the gung-ho ones take it as an opportunity to do lots of jumps.

Offroad may be the raison d’être for the main project, but there are loads of variant designs that just happen to make it into a very effective combat bike.

Neil the Ork Librarian

Morgan all-purpose chassis

Named for the Morgan horse breed. This design has its roots in the GM skateboard design, where all the moving parts are on the underside and you can print whatever you want to be bolted to the frame. Put a lightweight, streamlined body on it and it’s pretty sporty, though if you and your passenger are both trolls, you’ll want to take the option that has the passenger seat set slightly back and a drink fridge or gimbal-mounted espresso machine behind the driver’s seat, so you don’t bump elbows. Settle down and you can pop off the sport body and print up a minivan body with kids’ seats and cargo in back.

Percheron heavy chassis

Similar to the Morgan, but used for pickup trucks and passenger, cargo, and camper vans. This is pretty much a bigger skateboard. There’s a hack for extending it arbitrarily to make it into a limousine, though of course the handling goes to drek.

Clydesdale cargo chassis

The basis for Haven trucks, buses, and motorhomes. These are useful as long as you have well-maintained highways connecting Havens.

Llama offroad chassis

This is the Haven jeep/4×4 design, and one of the most common ones for Unicorn Express couriers. Not as customizable as the on-road projects listed above, since there’s a lot more suspension involved.

Moose offroad utility chassis

This is the Llama’s big brother, in the HMMWV niche, and used for Unicorn Express cargo. I generally go with a multifuel one with a big fuel tank.

Mammoth offroad cargo chassis

This six-wheeler is good for moving bulk cargo through the wilderness, though there are some motorhome designs as well.

Aircraft

Havens don’t generally crank out aviation fuel; they aren’t big on prop planes and helicopters, let alone jets and VTOLs.

Haven aircraft are mostly dirigibles lofted by hydrogen. Messy airships are SHAPELY vehicles that need their engines to stay aloft in exchange for ease of landing. Havenly ones tend to run on solar energy and ascend all the way to the jet stream to catch the breezes at 9km (30,000’).

Hydrogen? Is someone just waiting for the chance to say, Oh, the metahumanity!?!?

Bung

Havens do not have mining operations that capture helium released within the Earth by alpha decay, nor massive air-liquefication facilities to get it out of the atmosphere. So hydrogen it is! But we use dirigible designs with multiple gasbags, with their weakest points oriented outward and foil linings to limit heat transfer and spacers to limit formation of oxyhydrogen in the event of a leak. If a bag fails, it does so quickly in a gout of blue flame released into the air, and the rest of the vehicle doesn’t catch fire, since it isn’t covered in thermite.

Professor Johann Steamhein

The airships are all named after cephalopods because they have tentacles to assist in mooring when they land, usually controlled by contractile myomers.

When a Haven has a lot of spare energy, they can use the Sabatier reaction to turn hydrogen and CO2 into methane, supercool it into a liquid, and use it as a jet fuel, building on some designs Tupolev worked on back in the 1970s. Those aircraft are designed to ditch their fuel in a hurry in a crash, since it reacts violently with water. There are competing designs to use gas-to-liquids and plasma synthesis to crank out something more stable at room temperature, at even greater energy cost.

Nautilus fast dirigible

An extremely stealthy way to get around the planet. Extremely low radar signature, and very hard to detect when riding the jet streams.

If you have the stomach for a HALO drop, it’s also a good way to arrange for stealthy insertion.

Argent

Kraken cargo dirigible

Big and slow, but with a huge cargo capacity.

The most notorious example of this vehicle is the Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism— Lux for short— instantly recognizable for its giant figurehead of a beatific, rainbow-haloed Karl Marx sporting pecs and abs that the real philospher never had at any time in his life. The crew there travel the world helping to start new Havens, usually after a disaster wipes out a town and the Mess declines to rebuild. They always have a couple of complete sets of fabbers ready to deploy and start cranking out essential infrastructure, including new fabbers.

Most of the crew aren’t even socialists, let alone communists, and almost half of them are cis and straight. They are, however, all committed to the Haven system and spreading it to relieve human misery around the world, and to having a sense of humor about it. If anyone can ever create a post-scarcity utopia, I think those folks have a good chance of it.

Talon

Watercraft

Haven watercraft usually have a motor for maneuvering in harbors and getting out of the doldrums, but all medium- and long-range ones rely on sails for most of their power.

A lot of innovation is happening in the Havens with catamarans, clippers, and windjammers. Engines are expensive and noisy, so Haven cargo is mostly powered by sail (though they usually have a small multifuel or electric engine for maneuvering in harbors and escaping doldrums). Modern automation lets them get by with very small crews; the main challenge is keeping all the automation working with all that salt water getting into everything. The ones with black sails aren’t pirates: those sails are gathering solar energy! It still looks sinister enough that Haven ships usually have colorful pennants to offset the look of the sails.

Only a few of them are pirates; more are smugglers. With no engines and so little metal, Haven ships have a low profile on radar, and the lack of engine noise makes it easier to be friendly with the underwater locals, anywhere from merrow to sea serpents. Sail-powered pirates usually have a shaman along to help work with the local wildlife and spirits of wind and sea: they learn a cargo ship’s planned course, chum some sea serpents or sea drakes to the surface, wait for the critters to be annoyed by a noisy, stinky cargo vessel, then swoop in for a raid. Being friendly to the local ecosystem gives them an advantage over to less-polite security forces with the cargo ship.

Bay Jewel

Oceangoing vessels are pretty expensive in the Haven economy; fabbing the hull takes a big printer and a lot of feedstock, and the automation isn’t cheap either.

Gentoo boaterbike

An electric personal watercraft. Quiet enough that it doesn’t hork off the local merrow.

There is a project working on a magnetohydrodynamic jet ski that is very elegant, but still has efficiency problems.

Professor Johann Steamhein

Puffin speedboat

An electric speedboat. Good for zipping between islands in the Carib League and sneaking quietly across border waters.

Skimmer catamaran

Cormorant clipper

Albatross windjammer

Most of these are configured for cargo, but there are passenger ship designs as well.