Star Wars Wednesday - Starships Mailbag

I'm preparing for the KC Game Fair this week, so in the interest of time, I'm going to answer a couple of starships related questions generated by some earlier posts. Also, if you're following up on the Assault on Intran skirmishes, I have received some reports (that time is now closed) and will follow up on the convention game next week. On with the questions:

Why didn't you include a space for pictures on the starships sheet?

Personally, I normally don't use spaces left for sketches on character sheets, so I didn't really consider it. I also feel most people will be using existing ships and will know what they look like. That said, this does give me an idea for a different sort of sheet for a future post...

That vehicle sheet is tight, love the breakdown list of everything. What I really need though is a generator or somewhere that really gets into the knitty gritty of starship creation. What exactly can I add to a base model when designing it with the starship designer feat. I mean, i understand what the stuff in 'starships of the galaxy' says... but i don't believe for a second the designers stick to their own rules when making new ships for books. Help me out with some thoughts please. - Stone

This came in as a comment, which I would normally have approved, but it was on my news page instead of the blog post and instead of moving it, I just thought I'd address it here. There are several points to cover:

First, a note about the official starships we designed for the game. We did not use a comprehensive system to cover every aspect of starship design. Star Wars starships vary wildly in size, ruggedness, firepower and more in a way that's hard to quantify completely. Every RPG has struggled with this. For years, I remember going to West End Games seminars at GenCon where people asked for a starship design system for d6. They were willing to, but no one came up with a system they found acceptable. The possible exception might be whatever came out in Stock Ships, the last book they released, and one I've never been able to pick up.

Anyway, WEG and Wizards both handled ships the same way - design them in house to work for the game and the universe, then provide some rules to handle modifications (Galaxy Guide 6: Tramp Freighters for d6, Starships of the Galaxy for d20/saga), so players can live out their dreams of creating their own Millennium Falcon.

That's not to say there isn't a system, it's just generalized a lot more than a detailed ship construction system. They mainly cover how fast can a ship move, how much damage can it dish out, how much damage can it take, how big it is and then adjusted to make sure it matches the ships in the movies, novels and so on. For more discussion, including comments from Saga edition designer/developer Rodney Thompson, see this thread on the Wotc Forums.

So no, we don't use the Starships of the Galaxy's stock ship system when creating new starships. It is nice to refer to as a quick reference for a range of stats for a particular ship type, and is a valid way to create viable ships, but it won't cover everything for every ship in the Star Wars universe.

 To take a shot at the specific questions:

What I really need though is a generator or somewhere that really gets into the knitty gritty of starship creation. What exactly can I add to a base model when designing it with the starship designer feat.

The Starship Designer feat allows your character to do three things: design from scratch, make nonstandard modifications easier and cheaper and make custom modifications.

If you're designing from scratch with this feat, don't worry about nonstandard or custom modifications, those are for adjusting existing ships. Try the following example:

Pick your ship type from Table 3-8 (p52) and note the information on table 3-9, particularly the emplacement points.

Add systems that use emplacement points until you run out (or want to leave some for later). Add their cost to the stock ship cost. If you need more emplacement points for more systems, you can decrease the quality of the stock ship in a category (such as Strength, Armor, cargo, etc.) to gain more points (see table 3-9 note). I would not reduce the stock ship starting cost for worsening a category.

Add the stock ship cost plus all additional systems (including those that don't require emplacement points) for the total credits to build the ship, which sets the DC of the Starship Designer feat (p20).

Compare the new ship to some existing ones to estimate the CL. If something is wildly out of range, the GM may require changes.

Any further modifications after the fact (during play) can then be made using the modification and custom modification rules.

Hope that helps. If I missed something, let me know.