d6 Starship Design

   Here we have a starship design system created by one of the current Star Wars players, better known here as Editorial0.

   In realistic engineering, there are always tradeoffs. You want more cargo capacity? You’ll need to either enlarge the hull or shrink something else. Enlarging the hull? You’ll lose speed unless you put in a bigger engine. Bigger engine? That calls for more space, more fuel, and more costs.

   Nobody wants to introduce that level of complexity to their games – but I’d still like to have some idea of just how much can be crammed into a ship before SOMETHING has to give, and Editorial0 has kindly come up with some rules for it. Now to see how they work out…

   Star Wars Vehicle Design and Rules

   Stage 1: Hull Size

   Hulls come rated in size categories. These are particularly important in determining the overall cargo and passenger space inside the vehicle and especially the energy output of the power plant. Each size within a range corresponds to a specific vehicle scale.

Size Scale Modifier Base Hull Example
1-3 Speeder 2D 2D Snowspeeder, Swoop
4-5 Starfighter 4D 3D AT-ST, X-Wing
6-7 Starship 6D 4D YT-1300, AT-AT, Light Cruiser
8-10 Small Capship 9D 5D Corellian Corvette, Nebulon-B Frigate
11-14 Large Capship 12D 6D Star Destroyer, Mon Cal. Star Cruiser
15-? Titanic Vessel 24D 10D Death Star

   Each vehicle also starts with a base Power.

  • Junker vehicles have 75 Power
  • Cheap vehicles have 100 Power
  • Average vehicles have 125 Power
  • Good vehicles have 150 Power
  • Excellent vehicles have 175 Power
  • Legendary vehicles 200 Power

   You can buy up to average vehicles almost anywhere, good anywhere middle-class and up, excellent from high-end dealers. Legendary vehicles cannot be bought: you have earn the legend the hard way.

   Stage 2: Life Support (Choose the most appropriate)

  • Open: Open vehicles have no life support and offer no protection whatsoever from the elements. The pilot and any passengers, droid or biological, have no protection from damage and no defense against whatever dangers may be present. As an add-on, it lets the vehicle almost totally collapse, granting a +1d6+2 Coolness bonus on relevant social checks, for 40 Power.
  • Unsealed: Unsealed vehicles offer only minimal protection, but this is often more than enough for simple ground vehicles which don’t or can’t get into very dangerous conditions. They do help protect against crashes. As an add-on, it gives the vehicle collapsible section granting a +1d6 Coolness bonus on relevant social checks for 20 Power.
  • Pressurized: Pressurized vehicles have a sealed cockpit or passenger hold set to a comfortable air pressure. They are immune to normal atmospheric toxins, ignore most gas attacks, and stabilize thin or thick breathable atmospheres. 10 power as an add-on.
  • Seaworthy: Seaworthy vehicles can easily cross bodies of water without damaging exposed components or sinking. This is not necessary for repulsorcraft or other flying vehicles, as long as they don’t actually try to land in water. 10 Power as an add-on.
  • Submarine: Submarine vehicles are fully environmentally sealed and resistant against crushing force. They will not leak easily and can dive to considerable depths without a problem. 30 Power as an add-on.
  • Spaceworthy: Spaceworthy vehicles can easily travel without an atmosphere, and will not be damaged by the lack of pressure and atmosphere found in deep space conditions. They are resistant to all common space dangers, including the radiation found in planetary orbit or deep space, common nebular conditions, and micro-meteorites. They carry enough life support for any reasonable number of passengers indefinitely. Adding this additional optional mode takes 10 Power.

   Stage 3: Power Plant

   Power Plants form the base of a vehicle’s operational capabilities. The more powerful the power plant, the more and more powerful devices the ship can use. This gives you the more Power available to use on gadgets and gear.

Type Bonus
Cheap -10
Decent 0
Standard 10
Good 20
Excellent 30
Amazing 40

   Thus, a Legendary vehicle with an Amazing power plant has 240 power. Of course, only something like the Millenium Falcon – and then maybe only after Han became an important Rebellion figure – would have this level of goodies.

   Stage 4: Engines

   Decides Atmospheric and Space Move

   Space Move

Move Power
1 1
2 2
3 4
4 6
5 9
6 13
7 17
8 22
9 27
10 33
11 39

   Vehicles which can only operate in Atmosphere (or under water) work a bit differently. Take the engine rating chosen above. Multiply it by ten minus the Base Hull Number (ignore the die code portion; just take the number). This is your Atmospheric Move.

   Atmospheric Move = Space Move x [10-Base Hull]

   If this would reduce the vehicle to 0 Move, it’s too much to fit in an atmosphere in the first place.

   Atmospheric Move and Space Move work on different scales. Space Vehicles calculate their atmospheric Move with the table on page 113 of Star Wars Roleplaying Game 2nd Edition revised.

   Unfortunately, since the game is running on first edition rules, since that’s the edition that I happen to have, I’ll just have to skip this bit.


   Most Ships have a maneuverability bonus or penalty.

Scale Initial Maneuverability
Character 4D
Speeder 3D
Starfighter 2D
Starship 1D
Small Capship 0D
Large Capship -1D
Titanic Vessel -3D


Maneuverability Power
“+1” 1
“+2” 3
+1D 6
+1D +1 8
+1D+2 10
+2D 12
+2D +1 16
+2D +2 20
+3D 24


   Stage 5: Hyperdrive

Multiplier Power
X15 3
X10 4
X5 7
X4 10
X3 14
X2.5 17
X2 21
X1.5 25
X1 30
x.90 35
x.75 41
x.60 47
x.45 54
x.30 62
x.20 71
x.10 81

   Stage 6: Shields

   Unlike Hull rating, shields must be deliberately placed at each attack angle: front, rear, left and right. Each sector covers a three-dimensional arc, so only four angles are needed. Some alien species divide their shield space differently, but the end result is the same.

   Ships may purchase Ray shields, which are good against lasers, blasters, and ion cannons, and Concussion shields, which are strong against physical impacts, photon torpedoes, and concussion missiles.

   Many smaller starships and starfighters carry a combination shield, which protects against both. However, such shields are less effective, acting at 1d6 less than the numerical rating bought.

   Shields of 1D are normal for most fighters with shields. Even Large Capships rarely go above 3D. Only top of the line military vessels buy the full 4D.

Shield Strength Power
“+1” 1
“+2” 2
1D 3
1D +1 5
1D+2 8
2D 11
2D +1 15
2D +2 20
3D 25
3D+1 30
3D+2 36
4D 42


   Stage 7: Weapons

   The necessity of carrying lethal weaponry is a sad reality in many parts of the galaxy. Pirates, slavers, Sith, and warlords all make unpatrolled spacelanes a menace for the unarmed. Thus, capital ships have some defensive weaponry. The few exceptions are vessels such as bulk cruisers or droid ships, or those meant for short hauls in safe areas.

   Many vessels also have more than one weapons system, so that they can fire more than once against each enemy, or split their attacks against multiple foes, or to have varied attacks against different targets. Each of these is bought separately.

Damage Power
1D 2
1D +1 4
1D+2 6
2D 8
2D +1 11
2D +2 15
3D 20
3D+1 23
3D+2 26
4D 30
4D+1 36
4D+2 42
5D 50
5D+1 53
5D+2 56
6D 60

   Each weapons system must have a chosen fire arc. Normally these are Front, Right, Left, and rear. Odd designs might use different ones, like top and bottom.

Weapon Types Basic Stats
Laser/Blaster None
Torpedos Anti-Capship, Ammo, Slow
Missiles Anti-Fighter, Ammo, Slow
Bombs Ammo, Bomb
Mine Inaccurate,
Projectile No Penetration, Ammo
  • Ammo: The weapon runs out of ammunition in 1d6 shots and must then be reloaded.
  • Anti-Capship: The weapon can’t be targeted except against capital ships. Against others is has -2d6 fire control.
  • Anti-Fighter: The weapon does full damage only against fightercraft. Against others it has -1d6 damage.
  • Bomb: These items can’t be targeted outside of a gravity well. They need to be placed or dropped onto the ground.
  • No Penetration: Concussion shields are more effective against this weapon, which loses 1d6 power against them.
  • Slow: The weapon takes 1d3 rounds to impact, giving defenders time to use defenses.

   Each Weapon system comes with a base Fire Control of -1D6. This is a penalty assigned to ranged attacks owing to the presence of jamming, moving ships, and the long ranges expected in normal space combat.

Fire Control Power
“-1D” 0
“-2” 2
“-1” 4
“0” 6
“+1” 8
“+2” 10
1D 12
1D +1 14
1D+2 16
2D 18
2D +1 20
2D +2 22
3D 24
3D+1 26
3D+2 28
4D 30

   Stage 8: Tools and Extras

   Central Droid Command: Rarely used now, but common in the Clone Wars, A CDC system enabled centralized control over hundreds or thousands of droids simultaneously. It requires a Comm System. The advantage is that all droids cooperating on a task gain a +2 bonus to all skill and or attribute rolls. They do not gain this bonus to resisting or inflicting damage, or for any action taken alone. It inflicts a -2 penalty to initiative rolls, as the droids are slowed by waiting for instructions. Costs 20 power, but does not have to be active all the time.

   Comm System: Common in most vehicles, it’s a large planetary-range receiver/transmitter array. Comm systems may be upgraded with solar-system scale range, sector-scale range, and galactic network capability at a cost of 25 Power per category increase. This is rare – most people just find a nearby network node.

   Cloaking Device: Cloaking devices create a warping field effect around the shields which totally blocks all sensors, because the ship simply isn’t there to EM effects. The only sign it leaves is a very slight electromagnetic distortion. Note that the ship needs special internal cooling to prevent overheating, and it is just as blind to the outside world. Requires 100 Power.

   Escape Pods: Common in most vehicles, it’s an escape system should the ship be fatally compromised. Escape pods have consumables for a month, can send out automated distress beacons, and can even land safely on nearby planetoids. These cost a grand total of 5 Power.

   Extra Armor: Some military ships enjoy layering on the armor and improving the hull structure. This gives the vessel a tougher Hull rating. Requires 90 Power per 1 Hull die. Most ships with this have low maneuverability and sublight speed.

   Long Range Capability: Devote a few passenger slots (see Passenger Berth, below). Each one grants an extra month of supplies for 5 people (supplies can be compact very easily). This includes rations and water recycling – if characters want gourmet meals and fine wines, they’ll need many more slots.

   Landing Gear : This actually doesn’t cost anything, but many ships simply don’t have it built in. Very few capital ships have it apart from troop transports.

   Medical Suite (Medical Kits, Infirmary, Bacta Tank, Full Surgical)

A Medical Suite costs no Power, but it does require Passenger Slots (see Passenger Berth, below). If used by a competent doctor or programmed droid, they grant bonuses to First Aid and Medicine checks. In all cases, a kit can be grabbed within 1d6 rounds or the character rushed to the infirmary within 2d6 rounds. Higher levels include all previous equipment, so you stack both the kits and medical rooms.

Medical Kits (Base Hull) in Passenger Slots
Infirmary (Base Hull x2) in Passenger Slots
Bacta Tanks (Base Hull x5)
Full Surgical (Base Hull x10) in Passenger Slots

*Medical Kits grant a +2 to First Aid.

*Infirmaries grant a +2 to First Aid and Medicine as well as providing the ability to isolate and decontaminate the sick. It has common medicines and methods to help most alien species.

*Bacta tanks let any character who reaches it even slightly alive survive indefinitely, although if the wounds aren’t healed they will still die.

*Full Surgical bays have almost everything to keep someone alive, even up to replacing whole body parts. They have virtually any useful medical device or substance imaginable, although very rare items might have to be ordered.

Note that warships sometimes have multiple bays, so they can still function if they receive hundreds of casualties at once. A single instance of Medical Suite can only help (Base Hull) in numbers of people at once.

   Passenger Berth (Spartan, Ordinary, Comfortable, Luxurious)

   Passenger Berths don’t take Power, but rather Passenger Slots. Each size category gets a certain number of slots, and most vehicle designers don’t like pushing things to the absolute maximum.

Size Class Passenger Slots
1-3 Speeder 1
4-5 Starfighter 2
6-7 Starship 5-25
8-10 Small Capship 100-1,000
11-14 Large Capship 1,000-10,000
15-? Titanic Vessel How many ya want?
  • Spartan quarters are extremely basic. Starfighters with hyperdrive capability often have an awkward way to relieve bodily functions, and a little snack to eat or drink. Other ships have tiny bunks, which soldiers might even share. Takes 1 Slot.
  • Ordinary berths are unexceptional, but decent. They include a small bed, a little heating pad for cooking or a central cafeteria, and some kind of bathing facility. Takes 2 Slots.
  • Comfortable rooms are nice and have space to stretch out. Facilities are complete, clean, and may have droid service. A decent traveler’s room would be a Comfortable berth – or a hotel room if it were on a starship. Takes 3 Slots.
  • Luxurious quarters are fantastic. They are the pitome of service and comfort, a fine and relaxing place for any wealthy shipowner or tourist. Nobility and royalty wouldn’t feel out of place in these lovely rooms. Takes 5 slots and up, up up!

   Repair Bay: Repair Bays enable you to make repairs to any on-board vehicles. It comes complete with full facilities and machinery to manufacture almost any part which could go wrong. Treat as a Medical Suite but for repairs instead.

   Secret Compartments: If you even needed to hide some items the local authorities think is very naughty, you need a secret compartment. The base DC to find a compartment is usually 15.Takes 1 Passenger Slot per cubic meter, plus 1 Slot for every 1d6 penalty on the enemy’s check to locate them.

   Security: Security grants bonuses to ships defenders in every area it might be invaded, physical and electronic. Treat this as a Medical Suite, but granting bonuses on all attack rolls to ship’s defenders. If you want automated guns and so forth, buy droids (and dedicated Passenger Slots for them).

   Shield Reserves (1D through 6D): Reserves of shield energy cost 15 Power per reserve die.

   Starfighter Bay: Treat as a Passenger Berth using 5 Slots per fighter.

   Regardless of whether or not this particular system ultimately turns out to be a success or a failure, it’s worth bonus XP for contributing to the game as usual. In fact, it’s worth more than usual – I’ll call it three weeks worth – simply because Editorial0 has been tinkering with it for at least that long.


One Response

  1. […] d6 Starship Design: Basics on ship design from Lazlo’s Player […]

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