Thursday, December 22, 2005

Star Frontiers vs Traveller ships

Star Frontiers rates vessels by a game stat called Hull Size. One-man fighter craft are Hull Size 1 while battleships are rated Hull Size 20. The Star Frontiers Knight Hawks campaign book gives the length and diameter (in meters) of each Hull Size of vessel. Assuming, as the rulebook does, that starship hulls are generally cylindrical, it's a snap to calculate the total volume of each Hull Size. This makes comparing Star Frontiers ships to Classic Traveller easy as pie.

HS

Length

Diameter

Cubic Meters

Tons

1

10

2

31

2.24

2

30

5

589

42

3

50

8

2,513

180

4

75

12

8,482

606

5

100

15

17,671

1,262

6

130

20

40,841

2,917

7

150

25

73,631

5,259

8

180

30

127,235

9,088

9

210

35

202,044

14,432

10

240

40

301,593

21,542

11

270

45

429,416

30,673

12

300

50

589,049

42,075

13

340

55

807,782

57,699

14

380

60

1,074,425

76,745

15

420

70

1,616,349

115,454

16

450

75

1,988,039

142,003

17

475

80

2,387,610

170,544

18

500

85

2,837,251

202,661

19

540

90

3,435,332

245,381

20

600

100

4,712,389

336,599


I found these results completely unexpected. Because of the way Star Frontiers uses Hull Size in construction, ships increase their capabilities on a roguhly linear basis. A Hull Size 20 battleship has roughly 33% superior weapons than a HS15 cruiser. Based upon what I knew about Star Frontiers warships I was expecting the charts to indicate that it operated on a roughly even footing with Traveller's Book 2 small ship rules. Instead we find that most PC vessels in Traveller are equivalent to Hull Size 3. The Kinunir class is HS 5, the size of a Star Frontiers frigate. In a big ship universe where Kinunirs are 'colonial' ships, that seems about right. The Azhanti High Lightining class comes in at HS 13 or 14, which means that a set of AHL deckplans ought to work pretty well for a Star Frontiers light cruiser.

Cruisers and capital ships in Star Frontiers and High Guard are pretty much equivalent in size, but the Star Frontiers vessels are woefully under-armed. Hardcore Star Frontiers fans have complained about this for years. Take a standard battleship from the game. The energy weapons for a BB are one disruptor cannon (essentially a particle weapon spinal mount), 3 laser batteries (each very similar to a single Trav double or triple laser turret), and 3 particle batteries (again, the term battery is not correct in Traveller terms, these are more like single weapon mounts). And the disruptor cannon only does about four times as much damage as a laser battery. Basically, a single 200 or 300 kton vessel from Supplement 9 - Fighting Ships could probably outshoot the entire Spacefleet of Star Frontiers.