Off-World Travel

Characters in science fiction don’t live in a single village on a single planet all their lives. Instead, their stories often take them out of a planet-bound existence and out into the stars. Adventurers in Cepheus Engine games are no different. They will travel to different worlds, seeking out new, exciting and hopefully profitable activities to pursue. Therefore, it is important to develop an understanding of off-world travel. Off-world travel can take one of two different forms, interplanetary travel through normal space and interstellar travel through Jump space. This chapter explores both facets.

Interplanetary Travel

All ship operations, including interstellar flights, involve some sublight maneuvering. Ships making short interplanetary flights usually accelerate halfway there, then reverse thrust and decelerate the rest of the way. The Common Travel Times by Acceleration table offers rounded values for common travel times.

For Referees desiring more accuracy in their numbers, use the formula:

T=2?DA?=2?? where T is time in seconds, D is distance in meters, and A is acceleration in m/sec2

Table: Common Travel Times by Acceleration
Distance (km) 1-G 2-G 3-G 4-G 5-G 6-G Example
1,000 10m, 32s 7m, 27s 6m, 5s 5m, 16s 4m, 43s 4m, 18s Jump pt., planetoid
10,000 33m, 20s 23m, 34s 19m, 15s 16m, 40s 14m, 54s 13m, 36s Typical surface to orbit
100,000 1h, 45m 1h, 15m 1h, 1m 52m, 42s 47m, 8s 43m, 2s  
160,000 2h, 13m 1h, 34m 1h, 17m 1h, 7m 59m, 38s 54m, 26s Jump pt., UWP size 1
320,000 3h, 9m 2h, 13m 1h, 49m 1h, 34m 1h, 24m 1h, 17m Jump pt., UWP size 2
480,000 3h, 51m 2h, 43m 2h, 13m 1h, 55m 1h, 43m 1h, 34m Jump pt., UWP size 3
640,000 4h, 27m 3h, 9m 2h, 34m 2h, 13m 1h, 59m 1h, 49m Jump pt., UWP size 4
800,000 4h, 58m 3h, 31m 2h, 52m 2h, 29m 2h, 13m 2h, 2m Jump pt., UWP size 5
960,000 5h, 27m 3h, 51m 3h, 9m 2h, 43m 2h, 26m 2h, 13m Jump pt., UWP size 6
1,000,000 5h, 33m 3h, 56m 3h, 12m 2h, 47m 2h, 29m 2h, 16m  
1,120,000 5h, 53m 4h, 9m 3h, 24m 2h, 56m 2h, 38m 2h, 24m Jump pt., UWP size 7
1,280,000 6h, 17m 4h, 27m 3h, 38m 3h, 9m 2h, 49m 2h, 34m Jump pt., UWP size 8
1,440,000 6h, 40m 4h, 43m 3h, 51m 3h, 20m 2h, 59m 2h, 43m Jump pt., UWP size 9
1,600,000 7h, 2m 4h, 58m 4h, 3m 3h, 31m 3h, 9m 2h, 52m Jump pt., UWP size A
5,000,000 12h, 25m 8h, 47m 7h, 10m 6h, 13m 5h, 33m 5h, 4m Jump pt., small gg
10,000,000 17h, 34m 12h, 25m 10h, 9m 8h, 47m 7h, 51m 7h, 10m Jump pt., large gg
45,000,000 1d, 13h 1d, 2h 21h, 31m 18h, 38m 16h, 40m 15h, 13m Close neighbor
100,000,000 2d, 8h 1d, 15h 1d, 8h 1d, 4h 1d, 1h 22h, 41m  
255,000,000 3d, 17h 2d, 15h 2d, 3h 1d, 20h 1d, 16h 1d, 12h Far neighbor
600,000,000 5d, 16h 4d, 0h 3d, 7h 2d, 20h 2d, 13h 2d, 8h Close gas giant
900,000,000 6d, 23h 4d, 22h 4d, 0h 3d, 11h 3d, 3h 2d, 20h Far gas giant
1,000,000,000 7d, 8h 5d, 4h 4d, 5h 3d, 16h 3d, 7h 3d, 0h  

Interstellar Travel

Interstellar flights require the use of Jump drive. Jump is also often used for long-distance flights within a solar system, where the real-space transit time would be greater than the 1-week Jump time. A ship can only safely Jump when it is more than one hundred diameters distant from any object. Gravity can cause a Jump bubble to collapse prematurely, bringing a ship back into normal space early. To enter Jump, a vessel needs a properly aligned hull Jump grid, a suitable set of course vectors (called a Jump Plot), and a working and properly fueled Jump drive.

The Jump grid allows the Jump field to properly form around the ship and protect it from Jump space. A damaged or misaligned grid can cause a ship to misjump, or to suffer Jump Intrusions while in Jump space. In the worst-case scenario, a ship with a damaged drive or a distorted grid may be destroyed at entry or breakout.

A Jump Plot is also required. A Jump Plot can be created by a navigator using the ship’s computer. In addition, all Class-D and better starports can provide pre-calculated jump plots for any populated worlds within jump range for Cr1,000 per jump number. Each jump course tape provides the jump plot necessary to perform a jump from one specific world to a specific destination, and become increasingly less reliable as they get older.

Creating a Jump Plot is an Easy (+4) Education-based Navigation skill check taking 1D6 kiloseconds, modified by the Jump distance (thus, a Jump–4 gives a –4 DM to the check). If the check is failed, then the navigator must plot the Jump again, or the starship suffers a misjump. A Jump cannot be made until the navigation calculations are complete. Jump Plots can be created in advance, but quickly become out of date.

When the ship is ready to Jump, the engineer must properly divert power to the Jump drive. Firing the Jump drive is an Average (+0) Education-based Engineering check taking 10–60 seconds. The Effect of this check aids the Jump Success roll.

All normal Jumps take roughly one week (148+6D6 hours), and are subject to random variations in the point of emergence. The older a plot is, the more variance there is in the actual Jump performance. Thus course tapes tend to err on the side of caution, and give emergence points a long way out from the destination world.

A Jump carries the vessel a number of parsecs equal to the Jump number. Jumps of less than one parsec (less than three light years, or one hex) are possible, and count as Jump–1 for the purposes of navigation and fuel expenditure.

Jump Success Roll

Roll 2D6 and add the following DMs. If the result is 0 or less, the ship misjumps. If the result is 8+ the Jump is accurate. Any other result is an inaccurate Jump. If a Jump was made using a bad Jump Plot, the ship automatically misjumps.

  • + the Effect of the divert power Engineering check
  • –1 per month that the Jump Plot is out of date (such as when using older Jump course tapes)
  • –2 per Jump drive hit
  • –2 for using Unrefined fuel
  • –8 if still within the hundred-diameter limit at the time of Jump

Jump Failures and Misjumps

When a starship suffers an inaccurate Jump, the vessel emerges from Jump in the wrong part of the target star system, requiring 1D6 days travel through normal space. When a starship misjumps, the ship ends up 1D6x1D6 parsecs in a random direction.

In both cases, the emergence is extremely hard. The vessel takes the equivalent of a critical hit from the discordant transition. In addition, everyone aboard the vessel suffers severe headaches, nausea and even nosebleeds for several hours before and after the ship emerges from Jump space.

Starship Operations

Standard procedures exist to govern how a starship goes about its business and handles emergency situations. Under normal circumstances, a ship will not deviate from these procedures. A captain whose vessel ignores standard operating procedure will usually have to explain himself to a patrol vessel or the local port authority.

Ship’s Passage

A ship must provide sufficient accommodation for its crew; normally this means one stateroom per two crewmembers (this is termed double-occupancy). Any remaining stateroom space may be used to carry passengers. Passengers cannot share accommodation with crew, with the exception of working passage. Normally, one passenger per small stateroom and two per large stateroom room can be carried.

Passenger travel can be classified into five overarching categories – high, middle, low, working and stowaway.

  • High Passage The best method of travel is called high passage, which involves first class accommodations and cuisine. High passengers have the services of the ship’s steward, entertainment and complete attention to their comfort. There is a baggage allowance of up to 1,000 kilograms. High passage costs Cr10,000 and provides food and lodging for 1 person for a distance of 1 jump. Double occupancy is allowed at a discounted rate of Cr16,000 (Cr8000 per passenger). Each level of Steward skill (including level 0) allows the steward to effectively look after two high passage passengers on board a ship (so a character with Steward 2 could care for six passengers).
  • Middle Passage In order for starships to fill their staterooms with passengers, middle passage is offered on a standby basis, in the event that not enough high passages are sold. While middle passengers occupy staterooms normally similar to those occupied by high passengers, they do not receive the service or entertainment accorded the higher paying passengers. In addition, the quality of the cuisine is rather low. Baggage totaling 100 kilograms is allowed. A middle passenger may be ‘bumped’ and the stateroom taken by a late arriving high passenger; the middle passenger’s ticket is returned, but no other compensation is made. (The middle could then buy a high passage and ‘bump’ another middle passenger, if the extra cost seemed worth it. Middle passage costs Cr8,000 and provides food and lodging for 1 person for a distance of 1 jump. Double occupancy is allowed at a discounted rate of Cr13,000 (Cr6500 per passenger). Each level of the Steward skill (including level 0) allows the steward to care for five middle passengers.
  • Low Passage Transportation while in cold sleep (suspended animation) is possible at relatively low cost to the passenger. The passenger is placed in a low passage berth before the ship takes off, and travels the entire journey in a state of suspended animation. He does not age, and requires very little life support. Unfortunately, the low passage system involves some intrinsic dangers to the passenger, and he runs some risk of not surviving the voyage. Therefore a qualified medic should always be in attendance when reviving passengers from low berths. When a passenger is revived from cold sleep, they must make an Easy (+4) Endurance check; failure means that the passenger dies during revival. If a medic is present, the medic may assist the passenger with an Education-based Routine (+2) Medicine skill check, as per the Aid Another rules. Low passage costs Cr1,000 and includes a 10 kg baggage allowance; many commercial cryoberth units have a built-in baggage compartment.
  • Working Passage A starship captain with a crew shortage may hire an individual to fill the vacant position, paying not money but passage in return. Working passage may not continue for more than three jumps, or the individual is considered to have been hired for standard salary. In order to be hired for working passage, the individual must have some expertise in the position for which he is hired. Baggage totaling 1,000 kilograms is allowed.
  • Stowaway A stowaway is a person who secretly boards a vessel in order to travel without paying and without being detected. Unnoticed by the captain, crew, port officials and customs authorities, stowaways may gain access to a vessel with or without the assistance of port personnel. Once on board the ship, stowaways often hide in empty containers, cargo holds, maintenance shafts, crawl spaces, storage rooms, engine rooms, unused staterooms, and behind false panels. Stowaways risk imprisonment or heavy fines if caught, as it is considered a crime in most jurisdictions. If caught at the destination world, stowaways may be deported. Should this occur, the travel costs for the stowaway’s return to the previous world visited, per the ship’s logs, can become the obligation of the ship’s owner or captain. Because of this, most commanders do not take kindly to any stowaways they discover aboard their vessels, and have been known to space them.

Standard Operating Procedures

Most commercial starships follow a simple schedule, spending one week in Jump space and one week in normal space, taking care of business. Once a ship emerges from Jump space, it travels to the destination world, where passengers disembark, old cargo is unloaded and new cargo replaces it, the crew performs routine ship maintenance and refueling, new passengers come aboard the vessel, and then the starship travels to a Jump point in preparation for entering Jump space and traveling to the ship’s next destination.

Non-commercial starships typically follow a similar schedule. Without the obligations of passengers or cargo, however, these vessels can choose to travel much faster. The week in-system can be reduced to simply refueling by the quickest means possible and then making the next Jump.

When a vessel first emerges from Jump space, the first course of action is to scan normal space for potential dangers. Once the commander determines that the vessel is safe, the navigator then determines the ship’s location in normal Space and plots a course to the ship’s destination in-system.

The commander may want to skim a local gas giant for free fuel. If so, the pilot achieves orbit and skims the “surface” of the gas giant for fuel. Scooping a gas giant for fuel takes 1D6 hours per 40 tons of fuel. When the fuel tanks are full, the pilot can then take the ship back out to a Jump point to leave for the next system, or travel to another destination in-system, such as a local world.

If the commander wishes to visit a local world, such as the mainworld, the pilot follows a course laid out by the navigator to the destination. After arriving at the world, the pilot achieves orbit and then proceeds to either the orbital starport or surface starport. Once docked at the starport, the vessel unloads any high passengers, followed by mail, middle passengers, cargo and finally low passengers. The ship refuels, if needed, and renews its life support. If the ship’s owner or captain is interested in speculative trading, they then sell off speculative cargo and buy new cargo to replace it, if they find any good deals. In addition, the commander or purser addresses all ship’s business, including paying the ship expenses.

While on planet, crew members may explore local areas of interest, hire new crew to fill any available positions, and even take on the occasional odd job.

When the commander determines it is time to depart, cargo handlers load all cargo into the vessel. Low passengers are then put into cryoberths. High passengers are then escorted to their staterooms, followed by mid passengers, if any staterooms remain available. Finally, vessels with a mail contract load up on outgoing mail. Income is collected and placed into the ship’s accounts.

After getting clearance from starport control, the pilot takes the ship into orbit. The navigator then plots a course through normal space to a Jump point. As the pilot takes the vessel to the Jump point, the navigator works out the Jump plot. Once at the Jump point, the engineer diverts power to the Jump drive, and the ship enters Jump space.

Along the way, the vessel may encounter other ships. Gas giants are often used by pirates to attack unsuspecting vehicles, so system defense boats are prevalent in the region. Patrol vessels may hail a ship as it travels to and from the Jump point. Port authorities may perform a customs inspection before allowing a ship to dock at the starport. Other ships, civilian and military, commercial and non-commercial, may be travelling in and out of the system.

Starship Expenses

The primary expenses for a starship are the ship’s mortgage or debts, crew salaries, fuel, life support, port fees and routine maintenance.

Mortgage or Debts

If the crew is paying off debts on their spacecraft, then these debts must be paid each month. The standard terms for a ship mortgage are paying 1/240th of the cash price each month for 480 months (40 years). In effect, interest and bank financing cost a simple 120% of the final cost of the ship, and the total financed price equals 220% of the cash purchase price. Ship shares are treated as reducing the cash price of the ship, and so reduce the monthly cash payments.

Crew Salaries

All starships and space vessels need a crew of some kind. Small craft like shuttles normally just have a pilot (and usually a copilot). Larger ships, and especially those using Jump drive to travel between the stars, need a larger crew. At a minimum, a starship will need:

  • Pilot A qualified Pilot to maneuver the ship. A Pilot makes Cr6,000 per month.
  • Navigator Someone to create Jump Plots and navigate the ship. On small ships, this job is often doubled up with the Pilot’s duties. A Navigator makes Cr5,000 per month.
  • Engineer Someone to maintain the ship and operate the drives. Larger ships may need several engineers and technicians to back them up. A Chief Engineer makes Cr4,000 per month.

Other crew positions exist:

  • Master A vessel’s Master, or Captain, is responsible for the vessel and the safety of everyone aboard. A Merchant who receives the Starship benefit at mustering-out will hold this position. Aboard a small ship, he will usually have another job, such as Pilot or Navigator. The pay due to a ship’s Master can vary. Assume a standard of Cr6,000 per month, or the salary of highest-paid job he is qualified to do. Many merchant ship owners take a cut of the ship’s profits instead of a salary.
  • Medic Ships that carry passengers must have a qualified medic. All vessels should have some form of medical assistance available. A medic makes Cr2,000 a month.
  • Purser Commercial ships often employ someone to look after the accounts and supplies. This is the purser’s job. It is often doubled-up with other duties. A purser is often paid a cut of the ship’s profits rather than a salary; a standard salary would be Cr3,000 per month.
  • Gunner Armed ships must employ gunners to operate the weapons. Salary is Cr1,000 per month.
  • Assistant Engineers and Technicians Technically adept people can assist the Engineer in maintaining the ship and operating her drives. Salary is Cr1000 per month.
  • Cargo Handlers, Deck Hands and Security Some ships employ personnel to carry out these duties. While not essential to the operation of the ship, these people are useful to have around. Salary is Cr1000 per month.
  • Stewards While anyone can be assigned to look after the passengers and cook everyone’s meals, professional stewards are useful in ensuring the passengers enjoy their trip, and thus that the ship stays in business. Salary is Cr3,000 per month.

The basic living expenses of crewmembers during their shipboard duties are considered paid out of the ship’s overheads. Note that salaries are generalized and can vary considerably depending upon circumstances and special arrangements.

Table: Crew Salaries
Position Monthly Salary
Ship’s Master Varies
Ship’s Purser Varies or Cr3,000
Pilot Cr6,000
Navigator Cr5,000
Engineer Cr4,000
Steward Cr3,000
Medic Cr2,000
Gunner Cr1,000
Other Crewmember Cr1,000


Refined fuel may be purchased at any class A or B starport for Cr500 per ton delivered at the starport. If fuel must be ferried out to a ship, add Cr100 per ton to the cost. Refined fuel may also be obtained by running unrefined fuel through a Fuel Purification System installed onboard a ship. Refined fuel decreases the chance of a problem occurring with a ship’s power plant, maneuver drive, and Jump drive.

Unrefined fuel is available for Cr100 per ton from any class A, B, or C starport delivered at the starport. If fuel must be ferried out to a ship, add Cr100 per ton to the cost. Unrefined fuel is also available for free from the following sources:

  • Water On worlds with a hydrographic rating of 1 or higher, a ship may land near an open body of water or ice and pump fuel into their fuel tanks for free. Using water as fuel in this manner is considered to be running unrefined fuel. Note that many worlds may not allow ships to land and fuel for free, preferring to control the availability of fuel from the starport only, thus earning the revenue from the operation.
  • Gas Giants Streamlined ships equipped with fuel scoops may dive into the upper atmosphere of a gas giant and fill their tanks with unrefined hydrogen. Larger ships may use streamlined fuel shuttles to ferry fuel loads back to the main ship as needed to refill the tanks. Scooping takes 1D6 hours per 40 tons of fuel. There are no fees associated with ‘skimming’ a gas giant for fuel, but these are also often the favorite point of attack for pirates. Fuel skimmed from a gas giant is considered to be unrefined.

Life Support

Each stateroom on a ship costs Cr2,000 per month, occupied or not. This cost covers supplies for the life support system as well as food and water, although meals at this level will be rather spartan. Each low passage berth costs Cr100 per month.

A spacecraft with power can sustain life support for one person per stateroom for one month comfortably, and for six months at a stretch (number of staterooms × 5,000 person/hours). Without power, this drops to two weeks at most.

Life support supplies can be purchased in bulk. One ton of life support supplies will provide 20 passengers or crew with life support for one month, at a cost of Cr54,000. One ton of luxury life support supplies costs Cr72,000, and covers the same number of people for the same amount of time.

Port Fees

It typically costs Cr100 to berth for 6 days in a starport, and Cr100 a day thereafter.

Routine Maintenance

A ship needs maintenance, which costs 0.1% (1/1000th) of the total cost of the ship per year and requires a shipyard. Maintenance should be carried out each month. If maintenance is skipped or skimped on, roll 2D6 each month, with a +DM equal to the number of months skipped. On an 8+, the ship takes damage to a random system. Roll on the System Degradation table for the number of hits. Repair supplies cost Cr10,000/ton.

Table: System Degradation
Roll Number of Hits
1–3 1
4–5 2
6 3

Starship Revenue

Starships generate revenue by carrying passengers, cargo, mail and charters. Goods taken on in orbit are delivered when placed in orbit around the destination. Goods taken on a planetary surface are considered to be delivered when off-loaded on the surface of the destination world. This custom applies to cargo, passengers, and mail.

Table: Available Freight And Passengers
Starport Class Freight (tons) High Passengers Mid Passengers Low Passengers
A 3D6x10 3D6 3D6 3D6x3
B 3D6x5 2D6 3D6 3D6x3
C 3D6x2 1D6-1 2D6 3D6
D 3D6 0 1D6-1 2D6
E 1D6 0 1D3-1 1D6-1
X No Freight 0 0 0

Bulk Cargo

Ships will commonly pay their way by transporting cargo in bulk. This is on a flat-fee basis per ton of cargo. A ship’s accounts are credited with Cr1,000 per ton of cargo, upon delivery. For any given destination world, roll on the Available Freight and Passengers table to find out how many tons of freight are available. A ship may choose to remain in port and see if new cargoes present themselves; roll again every 3 days. If desired, players may determine how much freight there is for every destination, and then choose where to go based upon profitability. The number of passengers must be determined at the same time as cargo; if a ship remains in port waiting for freight, passengers will find another ship, and vice versa.

A ship without the capacity to carry all the available freight or passengers can take some of what is available, up to its total capacity.


For any given destination world, roll on the Available Freight and Passengers table to find out how many passengers are available. A ship may choose to remain in port and see if new passengers present themselves; roll again every 3 days. If desired, players may determine how many passengers there are for every destination, and then choose where to go based upon profitability. The number of passengers must be determined at the same time as cargo; if a ship remains in port waiting for more passengers, freight could be shipped out on another ship, and vice versa.

Mail and Incidentals

Merchant ships may receive mail delivery contracts, usually as an adjunct to their established routes. Five tons of ship cargo capacity must be committed to postal duty on a full time basis, the ship must be armed, and a gunner must be a part of the crew. The starship is paid Cr25,000 (Cr5,000 per ton of postal cargo area) for each trip made, regardless of the actual mail tonnage carried. Such tonnage will not exceed 5 tons per trip. Roll 1D6-1 for the number of actual tons of mail, though the ship receives the Cr25,000 fee whether there is anything to carry, or not.

Other ships may be approached to deliver private messages, at times through the ship’s owner or captain, and at times clandestinely through a crew member. Private mail is usually intended for delivery to a specific point (such as an Explorer’s Society resort, or to a bar owner in the starport), and is generally accompanied by a Cr20 to Cr120 honorarium. The Referee should decide if a private message to is awaiting transmittal, and determine randomly which crew member is approached to carry it. Serving as a carrier for private mail also serves as an introduction to the recipient as a dependable, trustworthy person.


Vessels are often chartered by commercial or private concerns. The reasons vary: private transport, standby cargo capacity for a priority load, special or “discreet” deliveries, etc. The standard price to charter a non-starship is Cr1 per ton per hour, usually with a twelve-hour minimum. Charter price for a starship is computed based on its capacity. Starships are chartered in 2-week blocks; the charge is Cr900 per ton of cargo hold plus Cr9,000 per high passage berth and Cr900 per low passage berth. The owner pays all overhead and supplies a crew.

Speculative Trading

A trader with cargo space available and free capital with which to speculate may seek out suitable goods to buy and sell. A complete Trade and Commerce system is presented in Chapter 7: Trade and Commerce.

Miscellaneous Topics

The following topics relate to aspects of starship operations that might impact an adventurer’s experience over the course of a Cepheus Engine adventure or campaign.


A ship has at least one airlock per 100 tons. The average airlock is large enough for three people in vacc suits to pass through at the same time. An airlock takes ten seconds to cycle. Under normal circumstances, airlocks are locked down from the bridge and require a Very Difficult (–4) Engineer (electronics) check to override. An unlocked airlock can be triggered from outside. Airlocks generally have vacc suits, rescue bubbles and cutlasses in a ship’s locker nearby.

Ships with cargo space have cargo hatches, allowing up to 10% of their cargo to be transferred at any time.

Distress Signals

A distress signal indicates that a person or group of people, vessel, small craft, or other vehicle is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requests immediate assistance. The use of distress signals under other circumstances is against most system and interstellar laws; in fact, most jurisdictions have large penalties for false, unwarranted or prank distress signals. Given the vastness of interplanetary space, help is hard to come by. Therefore, most interstellar and interplanetary governments mandate that the commander or master of any vessel that detects a distress signal is legally obligated to either respond and offer assistance or contact the authorities to report the signal.

Some pirates have been known to use false distress signals to lure other vessels into a trap. This behavior has created significant mistrust of distress signals among civilian starship commanders, but interstellar law still requires that assistance be rendered if authorities cannot be reached within a reasonable time period. In the event that the commander of a vessel is unable or unwilling to respond to such a call, they are required by law to officially log their reason for not doing so into the ship’s logs. Such commanders can be held accountable for their decision, and can pay a fine on some worlds that could exceed Cr1,000,000 (or MCr1), as well as serve time in prison.


Two spacecraft may dock if they are close together and neither ship attempts to resist the docking maneuver. Many airlock designs across charted space are compatible; for incompatible airlocks, ships extend flexible plastic docking tubes that adapt to the target airlock. Docking with another vessel is a Routine (+2) Piloting task taking 1–6 minutes. If one ship is drifting or unpowered, the difficulty rises to Difficult (–2).


Hostile boarding actions are safest when the enemy ship is crippled, in which case it is a standard docking procedure. If the enemy ship is still moving, then the prospective boarders must match the target’s velocity and dock with it (a Difficult (–2) Piloting task), or else just land on the hull and either make their way to an airlock or cut through from outside.


Any ship with a standard or streamlined hull may land on the surface. Unstreamlined ships suffer a –2 DM to any Piloting checks made in atmosphere while a ship with a Distributed hull suffers a –4 DM to any Piloting checks, and is likely to take severe structural damage if it lands. Landing at a starport is a Routine (+2) task for most ships taking 10–60 seconds.

Most ships have landing gear, allowing them to touch down ‘in the wild’, which requires an Average (+0), Difficult (–2) or even Very Difficult (–4) check, depending on local conditions. Non-distributed ships can also land on bodies of water without sinking. Failing a landing roll means that the ship has landed improperly or even crashed.

Ship Security

The primary goal of a starship’s or vessel’s security measures is to protect the safety of the ship and crew. Particularly on frontier worlds and lawless backwater planets, starships are at risk to a number of factors, including hijackers, piracy, sabotage, subversion and terrorism. Ship security exists on multiple levels to prevent this from happening. These can be grouped broadly into the categories of physical security and cybersecurity.

Physical Security Systems

Physical security systems for vessels are generally intended to deter potential intruders (e.g. warning signs); detect intrusions and monitor/record intruders (e.g. intruder alarms and internal monitoring); and trigger appropriate incident responses (e.g. by security personnel or the ship’s crew in general). Numerous systems have proven useful.

Physical barriers such as airlocks act as the outermost layer of security. They serve to prevent, or at least delay, attacks, and also act as a psychological deterrent by making intrusions difficult. Even within the ship, bulkheads and panels can be locked to limit or slow access. The means of authorization for different locking systems is captured in the Restricted Access Security table. It should be noted that the ship’s computer can open or close any non-mechanical lock remotely, as well as report on a door’s status.

Ship security systems can detect intrusion detection through a variety of means. Cameras, accessible to any authorized personnel, monitor public areas. Internal sensors such as motion detectors in key traffic areas and life support detectors (for unexpected changes in oxygen levels) provide additional methods of detecting intrusion.

Table: Restricted Access Security
Type TL Means of Access Override Skill External Door Internal Door
Biometrics 8 DNA test, palm print, retinal scan, voiceprint Electronics Formidable (-6) Very Difficult (-4)
Electronic Lock 7 Keycard or combination Electronics Very Difficult (-4) Difficult (-2)
Intelligent 9 Granted by ship’s computer Electronics Formidable (-6) Very Difficult (-4)
Mechanical Lock 4 Key or combination Mechanics Difficult (-2) Average (+0)


The security of a ship’s computer is only as good as the Security software that’s been installed. All starships come with Security/0 installed, but a wise ship’s owner will invest in more advanced security programs, whenever possible. Most vessels run Security/2 programs, at a minimum. The Cybersecurity Tasks table outlines the difficulties of certain tasks that might be attempted by hijackers and pirates. All tasks require the Computer skill.

Table: Cybersecurity Tasks
Type Typical Difficulty
Access ship records Average (+0)
Grant crew authorization to someone Difficult (-2)
Override key systems Formidable (-6)
Override security systems Defined by Security software package, typically Very Difficult (-4)

Security Measures

Security measures on board a starship activate when an intrusion or emergency has been detected. These measures include internal alarms, artificial gravity control, tranq gas and the venting of atmosphere.

  • Internal Alarms If an alarm is tripped (hull breach, fire, door being forced open, alarm button pressed) it will alert the crew. The location of the alarm will be shown on computer displays. The average passenger ship has several crew trained in combat; military ships will carry marines. Some vessels will even have security robots who respond automatically to alarms.
  • Artificial Gravity Control It is possible to alter the artificial gravity on board. Reducing gravity to zero will limit actions to the level of a character’s Zero-G skill. Gravity can also safely be increased up to 3G.
  • Tranq Gas Some ships carry tranq gas canisters in the air vents, which can be released automatically. These flood a compartment with gas that forces an Endurance check each round, with a –1 DM per previous check. Any character who fails the Endurance check is knocked unconscious.
  • Venting Atmosphere If a compartment is connected to an airlock, then the air can be vented from that area. Characters in that area must make a Strength check to hang on and will also begin to suffocate. Internal doors on a ship are airtight, so portions of the ship can be selectively vented, dependent on the ship’s floor plan and the relative positions of airlocks.

Planetary Travel on Other Worlds

On-planet, and in civilized areas, regular services may be available for a few credits, allowing characters to ride to their destination aboard anything from a rickshaw to a maglev bullet train. In the course of their adventures, characters may ride aboard steam ships, dirigibles, submersibles, grav speeders or atop living mounts. Costs are fairly negligible for such travel. Assume a basic cost of 1D6X5 Credits per day of travel.

If the characters wish to use a vehicle of their own, this cost is not necessary. However, a suitable vehicle must be available.

Characters and the Law

In each of the situations listed in the Potential Law Enforcement Encounters table, roll 2D6 and add the listed modifiers. If the total is lower than the planet’s Law Level, the characters are investigated or challenged by agents of planetary law enforcement.

Table: Potential Law Enforcement Encounters
Situation DM Response
First approach to a planet +0 Check
Offworlders wandering the streets of a city (once per day) +0 Check
Offworlders acting suspiciously –1 Check
Bar fight –1 Combat
Shots fired –2 Combat
Breaking and entering –2 Investigate
Firefight involving armored characters and military weapons –4 Combat
Murder and carnage –4 Investigate

Check means that the characters’ travel documents and identities are checked, either by a police officer or guard, or electronically by querying the characters’ comms. A successful Admin or Streetwise roll can allay suspicion, but if this check is failed, the planetary authorities move on to Investigate.

Investigate means that a detective or bureaucrat probes deeper into the characters’ backgrounds. If the characters have a ship, it will be searched. They may be followed, or have their communications tapped. They may also be questioned closely.

Finally, Combat means that the police show up ready for a fight. Their response will generally be proportional to the threat posed by the player characters; if the characters are just making trouble in a bar, then most police forces will just use batons, tranq gas and other non-lethal weapons. On the other hand, if the characters are in Battle Dress and firing PGMPs at the palace of the planetary governor, then the police will show up with the best weapons and armor available at the planet’s TL (or even a few levels higher).

Arrests and Sentencing

Characters arrested for a crime will face punishment, determined by rolling 2D6+DMs on the Sentencing table. For crimes involving smuggling banned goods, the DM is equal to the difference between the planet’s Law Level and the banned goods in question. Other crimes have a set DM, per the Sentencing Modifiers by Crime table.

Table: Sentencing Modifiers by Crime
Crime DM
Assault Law Level –5
Destruction of Property Law Level –3
False Identity Law Level –2
Manslaughter Law Level –1
Murder Law Level +0

A character with the Advocate skill may attempt to reduce the severity of sentencing by making a check. If successful, reduce the Sentencing DM by the Effect of the check.

Table: Sentencing
Result Sentence
0 or less Dismissed or trivial punishment
1–2 Fine of 1D6x1,000 Credits
3–4 Fine of 2D6x5,000 Credits
5–6 Exile or a fine of 2D6x10,000 Credits
7–8 Imprisonment for 1D6 months or exile or fine of 2D6x20,000 Credits
9–10 Imprisonment for 1D6 years or exile
11–12 Imprisonment for 2D6 years or exile
13–14 Life imprisonment
15+ Death

A result of Exile means that the character must leave the planet immediately and never return. Fines for smuggling goods are per ton of goods seized – gun running can be an extremely risky proposition.

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