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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Traveller Tuesday: Troop Berthing

Previously, I talked about staterooms aboard ship and how they're smaller than college dorms.  Today, I'm going to talk about berths for sailors and marines, and how their sleeping areas are even smaller than that.

In High Guard, it is mentioned that
Staterooms or quarters must be provided for the entire crew. The captain of the ship must be provided with an individual stateroom, as must the commanding officers of each section and the commander of the ship's troops. All other personnel on military vessels must be provided with the equivalent of half a stateroom each.
Half a stateroom. That's 2 dtons each. Luxury, says I, because I have seen (and slept in) the marine quarters aboard the USS Guam, a helicopter carrier, and any non-NCO gets at most half a dton for personal space.

This arrangement here?  That's about 3 dtons total.
This is not from the Guam; this is from the USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer. (Click on the link above to check out the photo essay; it's fascinating.) The Barry is actually smaller than the Guam, but the bunk arrangements were about the same, which tells me this arrangement is fairly typical for the US Navy.

Yes, I am fully aware of the rule in Traveller that not all of the dtonnage allocated to staterooms actually goes into the rooms themselves, and that a good chunk of it is actually spent on common rooms. That's fine. But the cramped nature of these ships, and the similar cramped nature of Traveller deckplans, indicates two things to me:
  1. Traveller ship design was influenced by people who actually served in the Navy. None of this "condo in space" thing that Star Trek has. 
  2. Sure, the officers get nice staterooms (and that's where the majority of the common space comes from), but the enlisted ratings get stacked like cordwood. 

Slightly less cramped are the Crew Rest Compartments aboard jumbo jets.  I never knew these existed until this link was posted on a Traveller board that I frequent, and for some reason this just tickles my sense of exploration and love of hidden compartments.  (That link is also worth following; not only are there more great photos, but there are also some amazing YouTube videos of CRCs aboard different planes. Some of them look downright luxurious!)

But while some of the rest areas are easily a dton per bunk (and therefore likely 2 dtons allocated per crewmember)....

... you'll note they're STILL stacked like cordwood:

What's rather amazing is how sci-fi the renders of the area look when compared to the mock-ups:

In conclusion:  They're packed like sardines in real life, so don't feel like you need to hew faithfully to the rules as written. It's all an abstraction regarding "gameable space" anyway; the rules require that tonnage for crew is paid for, because crew has an effect on how the ship plays in the game, just like turrets and ammunition and fuel and engines.  The game does not require the designer allocate tonnage for landing gear, or life support, or gangways, or even toilets, because those things aren't gameable space -- from a rules perspective, they're just assumed to exist because their existence has no mechanical effect upon the ship.

In other words, don't sweat the realism, and you can stack your marines and ratings three deep.

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