26 Feb 2019

Test Run - Firefly - Courier

I'm still on a starship kick.  After creating ships for Scum and Villainy and Star Trek Adventures, I want to try making one to help solidify an idea I have for a story.  This time around, I'll use the Firefly RPG.  I've done this before, using two ships from the Traveller RPG, the Type S Scout/Courier and the TANSTAAFL-class subsidized liner.

The ship involved here is a courier, normal crew of five but can be run by two without effort or one with a lot of effort.  The main idea is to follow the two crewmembers of the ship, but the ship is going to be important.  Hard to get through space without one providing life support.  The ship is going to be an important part of the setting, so it helps to nail down details now instead of handwaving it as I go.  Things get messy when I do that.

As always, the first step is always concept.  I have an idea of what the ship looks like - similar to a Russian ekranoplan, a wing-in-ground-effect aircraft that is designed to fly at speed both at altitude and just above the ground, capable of taking off and landing on water.  The specific craft that provided the inspiration is the Bartini Beriev VVA-14, pictured below.  Without the wings, the VVA-14 struck me as a good base appearance for a starship.

Beriev VVA-14 ekranoplan.  Source: Russianships.net via Wikipedia

Now to get into the proper steps in the Firefly rules, starting at page 212.  The first step is ship class.  The game breaks ships down into three different types - military, transport, and service vessels.  The military ships are out; the courier is in civilian use.  Under transports, the Viper-class courier stands out, having "courier" in the name.  With the service vessels, the Wakinyan-class surveyor has similar stats, but different distinctions.  I'll go with the Viper, though - it already has the distinction triggers I want without having to create new ones.  The biggest issue the class has is its weak hull, a d4.  It may get interesting if the ship gets hit by anything.

The next step is to choose two more distinctions.  The class is a also a distinction in the game, so if the type of ship is an advantage or a disadvantage, it can be used in a roll.  As for the other two distinctions . . ..  One of the main characters is the owner/operator, plus pilot, plus accountant, plus chief cook and bottle washer.  The ship is the last one her family business owns, and she's the CEO.  The business fell on hard times, so every other ship in the fleet had to be sold or junked.  The lack of cash flow over time meant that the courier couldn't be maintained.  Thus, Coming Apart at the Seems fits.  It is difficult to keep a ship maintained when the company director has just one name listed.

The other distinction comes down to three.  Built for Speed seems a natural for the courier.  That's what the ship does best, get from planet A to planet B with important messages, mail, and very little else.  My vision of the ship is that it has a small cargo bay, two cabins for passengers, and large engines to get the ship where it has to go in as little time as possible.  Rerouted Internals seems a natural fit with Coming Apart at the Seems; the courier has had so many system jury-rigged that wiring diagrams are fiction.  However, Electronic Warfare seems like a good one to have, implying that the courier may have had some history before being bought for the family business.  Who knows what else is lurking behind a bulkhead?

The third step is to choose two distinction triggers.  All distinctions start with "Gain 1 Plot Point when rolling a d4 instead of a d8," meaning they can be used if they work against the roll instead of with it.  The first trigger I'll take is Turbo under the class distinction, giving the ship an even bigger speed boost.  The courier may even be able to outrun a missile.  The other trigger I'll take is Blinded By the Light for Electronic Warfare, allowing the courier hide from sensors, though by also taking a hit on its own.

The fourth step is to select two signature assets, both getting a d8 rating.  The first signature asset taken is Electromagnetic Shielding.  The courier lives and dies on its ability to get data between worlds without being leaked or hacked.  The setting in mind is Mecha Academy and while there is data transmission through the gates, people will pay a premium for guarenteed privacy and delivery.  It's sneakernet or possibly pigeon net on an interstellar scale.  The second asset will be Self-Sealing Bulkheads, an automatic defense against getting hulled.

The last step is to name the ship.  That's the tough part; the characters aren't named yet, either.  Right now, I'm thinking of a fleet theme, along the lines of the ships of Princess Cruise Lines or Royal Caribbean Cruises, though maybe not as lofty.  Something that includes the family founder's name plus a descriptor for the type of ship.  Using the placeholder Glenallen for now, the courier becomes the Merchant Vessel (MV) Glenallen Slipstream.  Former fleetmates include the MV Glenallen Dispatch, another courier, the MV Glenallen Tea Time and the MV Glenallen Coffee Time, both bulk liquid tankers, and the MV Glenallen Galaxy and the MV Glenallen Universe, both cargo liners with modest passenger space.

The final ship sheet for the Slipstream:

MV Glenallen Slipstream
Viper-class courier d8
Engines d10      Hull d4      Systems d10
  Gain 1 Plot Point when rolling a d4 instead of a d8.
  Turbo: Spend 1 Plot Point to create an Afterburners d10 asset.  Each time Afterburners is included in a roll, step it back afterwards.

Coming Apart at the Seems d8
  Gain 1 Plot Point when rolling a d4 instead of a d8.

Electronic Warfare d8
  Gain 1 Plot Point when rolling a d4 instead of a d8.
  Blinded By the Light: Step back Systems for the rest of the scene to create an Electronics Countermeasure d8 asset.

Signature Assets
  Electromagnetic Shielding d8
  Self-Sealing Bulkheads d8

As always, let me know in the comments if you use her.  Or feel free to remark on what I did.

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