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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Traveller Tuesday: 3 Merc Cruiser Variants

So I was writing some flavor text for a Traveller project I'm not yet allowed to talk about, and one of the things I needed to write about was the 800 dton Broadsword-class Mercenary Cruiser. During my research, I realized the following:
Image by Jesse DeGraff, who sadly
took his blog down ages ago. 
  1. It's really poorly designed, and that's before taking the goodies from High Guard into account.
  2. It has a design flaw that popped up during the conversion from Classic to Mongoose: 800 dton hulls now only need K-code drives to reach jump-3/3G performance, not the M that's listed in the core book. This frees up 20 dtons of space, not counting powerplant fuel. 
  3. This design could be turned into an orbital bombardment platform really easily. 
Therefore, you get variants!

My use of Traveller setting and dress falls under
fair use guidelines for both Mongoose and Far Future Enterprises.

Mace-Class Mercenary Lander
Art by Ian Stead

Look, this whole business about the MC not being streamlined and therefore not being able to land on planets with atmospheres is just silly, so let's add streamlining into the design.

While we're at it, let's turn it into a reinforced garrison so that the marines have a safe location they can fall back to at night by giving it bonded superdense armor, some medical facilities, and a nuclear damper. A briefing room and a brig just make sense here, as does using barracks instead of staterooms for the marines.

Now that it's on the planet, let's turn it into a forward firebase as well. Better electronics and controls means the missile launchers become missile artillery for the ground units, and the laser & sand turrets become anti-aircraft/anti-personnel defenses. Probe drones aid in reconnaissance.

Art by William H. Keith, 1980
Oh, and let's add some fuel processors so that the ship isn't forced to capture a starport after landing.

Yep, I like that. Sure, it increases the cost of the design by nearly double, and it doesn't include the cost of ammunition, spare cutter modules, APCs or other armored vehicles, hiring the mercs, outfitting them with arms, armor and ammunition....   overall, completely outfitting this thing will probably cost about a billion credits, and that's not even counting interest on the mortgage.

Still, it's quite an effective little Beachball of Doom, innit?

Ballista-Class Ortillery Platform

Art by Ian Stead
All right, so the first thing we do is we rip out all the barracks space and use that for ammunition. This gives us a LOT of room to play with. We keep the electronics, screens and armor add-ons, because it's likely to be a big orbital target. Armor remains crystaliron in order to keep the price, but if you want better protection for the tonnage and don't balk at a difference of 24 million credits, go for it.

The probe drones have been subsumed into the Survey Sensors -- and yes, the Ballista has two sensor suites available. Survey sensors are used for scanning the planet and setting up recon and communication sattelites, and the Countermeasures are used for targeting ortillery strikes.

60 tons of storage are retained for cutter modules to grant flexibility. Common modules are:
  • Weapon system (converts cutter to gunship)
  • Sensor platform (a 20 dton TL15 military countermeasure suites turns a cutter into a spy craft and communication repeater)
  • Screen (Meson screen or additional nuclear damper)
  • Small craft bay (cutter becomes mothership for one 20 dton (or two 10 dton) fighters
    • Alternately:  Lose one of the cutters and cut a hole in the top of the cutter well. This gives 80 dtons of space for fighters, although staterooms will need to be added for pilots. 
All of this is less expensive than the Mace... but that doesn't include the cost of ammunition, either. 

Speaking of losing a cutter and putting that space to better use, let's install a 50 dton bay weapon in the cutter well and use the tonnage allocated to the spare module as a magazine for it.

The Trebuchet has 90 railgun slugs. An ortillery slug does 8d6 damage... but that's starship-scale damage.  For personal scale (like people and vehicles), roll that damage and multiply it by 50.

It also has 144 ortillery missiles, but they only deal 4d6 damage.

If you wanted to make this beast even more frightening, you could strip out the second cutter and either add a second 50 dton bay, or replace them with a single 100 dton bay, but then you'd have to make this ship streamlined so that it could perform frontier refueling.

Happy mercing!

Art by Ian Stead

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