Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Starship Geomorphs book is finally complete!

The Starship Geomorphs book is finally complete and ready for download. I can safely say after three years of putting this project together the itch has been thoroughly scratched. If you have any constructive criticisms please comment below. I'm not opposed to revisiting this sometime in the future if the situation warrants it. In the meantime I'm going to take a short break and get back to some smaller, less intense projects. Thanks for your patience, I hope you find it worth the wait.

Click here to download the Starship Geomorphs book.

The question has come up regarding printing these for miniature use. A couple things to consider first:
The scale provided in the PDF is 1/4"=5'-0" or one square grid. This is simple enough to scale up for 15mm (1/2"=1'-0") figure use. If you are using a standard letter size (8.5"x11") printer you will be limited to Edge and Corner Geomorphs which will print out at 10"x5" and 5"x5" respectfully. A Standard Geomorph will print at 10"x10" so will not fit on letter size paper, but if your printer supports 11x17 that would work.

To print an Edge or Corner Geomorph to 8.5" x 11" paper for 15mm figures:
Routine, Admin, INT    5 min, Safe  (That's a MegaTraveller joke)

Kidding aside, here's how I did it using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Your software may vary.
Open the PDF to the page you wish to print
Edit > Take a Snapshot > draw boundary around desired geomorph > Print (open print dialogue box) > set Custom Scale to 200% > set orientation to Landscape mode for Edge Geomorph > Print

For Standard Geomorphs at 15mm or any geomorphs at 25mm scale (1"=5'-0") I would use the same process as above, but change the paper size to something like 11x17 or 18x24, depending on what your are printing, set the Custom Scale to 400% (for 25mm) and instead of printing to your printer, I'd print to PDF, and then send that PDF to a print shop for printing if you can't print the larger paper size. You may be able to set it up such that you print a larger drawing on a series of 8.5x11 sheets and tape them together, but personally I would not go that route. Good luck!

An example of an Edge Geomorph printed on 8.5x11 at 200% for 15mm figures:


A few quick notes:
This PDF version is mainly intended for viewing on a computer or other device. While in my experience the individual geomorph pages look fine when printed, the illustrations come out very dark. It is doubtful that I will be creating a print version.
Regarding navigating through the document: I spent a good amount of time creating hyperlinks all through the document, so it should be very easy to find what you are looking for. I find jumping to the Indexes at the back of the book, clicking on what I am looking for, and making copious use of the Alt-Left Arrow to go back to the previous page to be very helpful. The book is also fully bookmarked.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

X-Boat Station Variant

A blog reader wrote to me inquiring about modifying the X-Boat Station to include additional research, observation, repair and maintenance, and traffic control spaces as well as armaments, and asked about the possibility of adding a ring around the station for those purposes. While it would be possible to design such a ring, I would be concerned that a ring might interfere with ship docking, and suggest the above images as a possible variant.

This design adds a 100 dton mass to the bottom of the station and assumes the elevator and ladder run through the central fuel storage to access the new lower decks. With the overall station now being 300 dtons, some of that space would need to be used for additional drive, power plant, and fuel to maintain the original station specifications. Alternately - and depending upon the gamer's intended use - the additional drive and fuel requirements could be ignored and argued that the station maneuvers at less than 1G.

The new mass consists of four standard height decks (10' or 3m) with two rotating turrets and sensors projecting from the bottom. A third rotating turret has been added to the upper portion of the structure to take advantage of the three allowable "hardpoints" (IMTU hardpoints do not have to be fixed, but can be set upon tracks for better coverage).

With the extra tonnage, the station can start to move away from being strictly for X-Boat usage and could become a general multi-purpose space station, albeit a pretty small one. Other uses are as varied as your imagination: a noble's off planet getaway, a research station, a manned interdiction satellite, a small trading post...whatever you want. Enjoy!

Click here to see the original X-Boat Station post, including deckplans.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Agricultural Bay Geomorph and Illustration / Book Update

The proposed book cover. I've always loved the classic LBB design.
I'm hoping since this is a fan-made freebie that Marc Miller will see beyond any copyright infringement.

Artificial sunlight shines down on a ship's botanist as he performs chemical analyses on a variety of otherworldly food crops while agrobots perform the more menial gardening tasks.
I'm getting a bit closer to wrapping up the geomorph book. It has been sent to the editor while I get the remaining illustrations completed and tweak the final geomorphs. The book should be available between late August and mid-September and will be a free PDF download from this blog.

While not part of a typical Traveller starship, the Agricultural Bay is a mainstay in science fiction for colony ships, inhospitable planets, and remote outposts obligated to be self-sufficient. By itself, gardening doesn't necessarily scream "action and adventure", so referees should consider all the myriad ways plants have been used in classic science fiction and modify as they see fit. The seed pods from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", the alien spores from Star Trek's "This Side of Paradise", and Triffids are all fine places to start. Live crops and seeds can be valuable trading goods on some worlds, and are often a favorite target for customs officials. Ignoring transport protocols is sure way to introduce and invasive species into a new environment. Knowledge of alien botany could be a useful skill for a Traveller. Which ones are edible? Which are poisonous? Which are used to make medicine? Use your imagination and have fun!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Hammer Class Passenger Variant with Steerage

One of the regular blog readers, Peebo-Thuhlu Thuhlu, pointed out how well the steerage compartment might work with the Hammer Class starship. I decided it was too good of an idea to let pass, and put it on my ever expanding to-do list of Traveller ideas. It turns out it was one of those itches that just had to be scratched, and since the majority of the drawing and modeling was already complete I decided to just get it done.

The deck plan layout is based on the Ore-Hammer prospector's variant and fills up the entire 15 ton cargo space with only a few bulkhead modifications. A new ceiling allows the additional life support to be placed overhead, and even allows for some additional overhead cargo space. While intended to be left alone during flight, the attic space storage can be accessed by a panel in the lounge ceiling if necessary. The layout includes two steerage "dormitories" with two triple bunks each, and the basic lounge, galley, and fresher (with laundry facilities) you would expect. This is about as packed as a small ship can get without putting everyone in low berths. Since the Hammer Class has no real amenities, steerage passengers are rarely given access to the crew areas of the ship.

Most steerage bunks have a simple privacy curtain. For more privacy and safety, some bunks include retractable, hardened panels that lock from the inside, and only authorized crew members can override the locks. The bunks have variable transparency panels and each bunk contains basic environment controls. When not in use, each set of triple bunks can be completely sealed off.

Keeping Thing Under Control
From the crew's point of view, the biggest problem with steerage passengers is, well, steerage passengers. Any time you have a large number of people confined to a small space for extended periods of time there is the potential for problems. There are a variety of options a crew may utilize to make the trip more enjoyable for everyone:
  • Give the passengers something to do. A smart captain will have an extensive ship's library full of holovids, games, music, and reading material. Many ships include the free use of a personal library pad.
  • Employ a steward. Steerage passengers do not expect the services of a steward, so having someone provide even minor services is seen as a plus.
  • Put them under. Sleeping passengers don't cause trouble and they don't use as many resources. Some captains may freely distribute sleeping aids and other drugs. IMTU there is a jump variant of Fast Drug ("Fast Jump") which only last seven days. For those interested, it can make a week long journey feel like only a few hours.
  • Keep them separated. If there are groups or individuals not getting along, it is best to keep them separated. They can be moved to separate sleeping areas and allowed access to the passenger areas at alternating times.

To Avoid A Steerage Incident During Jump: Roll 6+ on 2d6 with the following DMs:
    +1 per level of Steward (limit +2)
    +2 if primarily corporate passengers, families, or chaperoned group
    +1 if passengers have access to ship's library
    -1 per 12 active passengers
    -1 if major religious, political, or other ideological difference between passengers (GM decides)
    -1 if 6+ rogue passengers

Steerage Incident: Roll 2d6
    2 - Fire in the galley causes major damage.
    3 - Classic barroom brawl in the lounge and galley. Several people injured.
    4 - A passenger reports theft of valuables from their locker. Crew or passengers can investigate.
    5 - Overuse of steerage toilet facilities causes overflow. Ewww.
    6 - Passenger screaming match leads to minor ship property damage.
    7 - Ongoing screaming match between passengers. Nobody hurt, but your ship gets a bad Yelp review.
    8 - Passenger gains access to major weapon. Stand off with crew or other passenger.
    9 - Passenger fight. The loser is beat unconscious.
  10 - Passenger fight. The loser requires low berth storage to survive.
  11 - Passengers fight. The loser dies.
  12 - Passenger discharges energy weapon and causes hull breach.

Crews experienced in operating ships of this type have learned another valuable lesson: keep the troublesome and questionable passengers in the forward dormitory. Nothing gives a bunch of drunken revelers (or potential hijackers) more pause than the lights and klaxons going off when the inner airlock hatch is opened from the bridge.

For a higher resolution PDF, click this link: (Traveller Starship Deckplan Hammer Class Passenger Liner). The deckplan was created to be printed out on 11"x17". Scale is 1" = 10'-0" so it can be used with 15mm miniatures. Enjoy!

Friday, June 1, 2018

Passenger Deck/Steerage Geomorphs and Illustration

Okay, so maybe I watched Titanic one too many times, but in my Traveller universe there is a passenger class between middle passage and low berth - steerage. A typical steerage compartment consists of a series of triple bunks, a communal galley/lounge, shared fresher facilities, and additional life support equipment. Quality and accommodations may vary widely from ship to ship, but the Imperium does have, and sometimes even enforces, minimum standards for passenger well being.

At minimum, each passenger is assigned a single bunk with a small storage locker - usually enough space for a suitcase or two. Fresh linens are provided at the start of the trip and changed weekly. Two meals per day are included, but are often not much more than unheated survival rations with appetite suppressants. Passengers are encouraged to bring their own food if they have special dietary needs. Access to toilet facilities is unlimited, but shower facilities are usually limited to once or twice per week. Bunks often only have a simple curtain to provide privacy, but some may provide a more secure, hardened and lockable screen panel.

Steerage passengers are often required to stay within the confines of the steerage compartment, except in the case of emergencies. Depending on the number of steerage passengers, the passenger's ticket price, and ship's amenities, some passengers may be allowed access to other areas of the ship during off hours. Steward services are not included, but a good captain will have a steward - or security personnel - do a walkthrough of the steerage compartment once a day to check on things.

Larger passenger liners may have a good portion of their ship dedicated to steerage compartments. With the increased passenger load per square meter, a shrewd captain can actually make more money with steerage passengers than with high passengers, although usually with considerable more headaches. The additional wear and tear of having large groups of people in a small area means stateroom fittings need to be replaced more often or more durable, and therefore more costly, fittings be installed in the first place.

Steerage compartments are generally open to any passenger, but some may be segregated by sex, alien species, families, etc. It is not uncommon for some groups to book an entire steerage compartment for their private use; corporations moving employees and their families to a new facility on another world, religious factions on a pilgrimage, student groups, traveling entertainers, or soldiers. Travelling steerage is a great way to meet a wide variety of travellers in a short period of time and a great source for news, rumors, and potential jobs.

Steerage passage typically costs between 2,000 and 4,000 credits per trip and is usually a "you get what you pay for" proposition.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Rampart RF-128 Fighter Illustration

I was laying out a Lightning Class style "race track" Hangar Deck for the geomorph book and decided I needed to model the Rampart Fighter. So here is my version, based mostly on the plan view found in Supplement 5: Lightning Class Cruisers and the box cover illustration by Richard Flory for the Fifth Frontier War game.

From Supplement 5:
    The Rampart RF-128 and RF-128-2 fighters are small streamlined combat craft with stubby wings and limited control surfaces. The wings are semi-retractable, enough to reduce the crafts diameter to 3 meters and allow use in the launch tube.
     Each fighter is a 15-ton craft constructed at tech level 15. The models have two distinct features - weaponry and crew size.
     The Single Place Fighter is laser armed, and has only one position - for a pilot.
     The Dual Place Fighter is missile armed, and has crew positions in its double cockpit. The craft is used for squadron command and control in combat situations. In addition, the dual place configuration is used for training of new pilots or for periodic check-rides for pilots within the squadron.

Of course I decided to ignore that and show a version with both lasers and missiles.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Bay Weapon Geomorphs and Illustration

A couple "edge" geomorphs from the upcoming book showing my take on bay weapons. Aside from the Azhanti High Lightning deck plans, I don't think I've ever seen them represented in Traveller canon, and those in the Azhanti appear to be in the 30 dton range. I interpret them as standardized weapon frames that can be swapped out for alternate weapons easily. For the double laser, the doors retract and the weapon extends out from the bay and rotates into position. For the missile bay (as shown in the illustration), doors retract to expose the missile launch tubes. If desired, bay weapon doors could be indistinguishable from large cargo doors.

Designer's note: The weapons shown in the deck plans reflect 50 dton weapons bays on a single deck. The illustration shows a double height bay - just an artistic decision - and therefore would be 100 dtons. I doubt the gunnery crew would actually be in the bay as the weapon moves into firing position, I just wanted to show people to get a sense of scale.