Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spaceships in StarCluster4

Spaceships in StarCluster 4 have at least one of three drives. Fusion drives are used in commercial ships, due to the safety of the fuel used - deuterium (heavy hydrogen). These drives are available in various sizes and configurations for different size ships. The drives are rated in G's of thrust for a particular mass, from fractional (0.33G, 0.5G) to multiple Gs (1G, 2.5G, etc.).

M/AM drives are used in warships and a few other quasi-governmental vessels. M/AM drives use anti-matter - anti-methane to be precise - and water to produce prodigous energy, but the fuel is intensely explosive, and a small ship could take out an entire city. M/AM ships are barred from atmospheric flight, and must be refueled in orbit. They are also available in various ratios of thrust to mass, but almost always are 1G or greater.

Jump drives are used to engage the wormhole network to travel between stars. The Jump drive must be used in certain places (Jump Gates) at exact vectors (Jump Vectors) to work, and instantaneously (to the crew and ship) move the ship through the wormhole to the exit point around the target star, retaining the Jump Vector, which is motionless relative to the target star.

Jump travel, while instantaneous to the crew, takes a varying amount of objective time - that is time relative to the systems connected by the wormhole net - depending on the number of successes the ship's Navigator has made for the transit. Jump Drives are rated in Factors, each Factor being 1*the current mass of the ship. A Factor of 2 would mean a ship could take another ship of the same mass through a jump safely, though Jump drives of Factors higher than 1 are extraordinarily uncommon on commercial ships other than Jump Tugs, which are used to ferry non-Jump capable spaceships between star systems.

Nomenclature note: Spaceships need only a Fusion or M/AM drive, as they only move in-system, whereas starships also need a Jump drive to move between systems.

Commercial ships are typically unarmed or lightly armed to fend off pirates or raiders. In wartime, commercial ships will sometimes be equipped with armament modules to better defend themselves, particularly if they are chartered by the Jeshen or an Allied Navy. Some smaller, more backward Human worlds will field a Navy of converted civilian ships. These are Fusion drive ships, and are slower, bulkier, and less heavily armed and armored than the equivalent purpose-built Navy ship. Others will buy refurbished retired ships from more advanced cultures which, while they may be a bit frayed around the edges and more or less antique, are at least constructed like proper fighting ships.


  1. You might want to include alternate options, you do this with game systems--why not technology? I'd like to see Hyperspace options myself (I'm old hat like that.)

  2. A simple change like wormholes to hyperspace has enormous settings ramifications, Tim. Albert and I designed the Jump drive to result in a non-empire setting, where each system if not world can be different and possibly independent. The Jump drive puts invaders at a huge disadvantage, allowing for local autonomy. With Hyperdrive, the attacker has huge advantages over the defender, and would naturally produce a very different setting, with feasible Star Empires, and as a follow on Imperial monoculture.

    I could easily create a hyperdrive - I use a type of hyperdrive for others of my SF games, like Cold Space - but I would have to create a completely different cluster builder, one which allowed for more cultural and political uniformity. One which looked a lot more like, say, Traveller.