3 Rules to Designing Spaceships

My blog posts as of late have focused mainly on fantasy. Today we’re going to take a break from that and focus on science fiction (or science fantasy, since this applies equally to that genre) and take a look at spaceships. Making your own spaceship is fun and exciting. Ships can serve as the main setting for your game, places to visit on occasion, or familiar places to return. They are everything from the family car to the battle tank and all points in between. They fill a wide variety of roles but they still all have a number of things to keep in mind. So when designing space ships keep the following things in mind.

1) Have a Core Concept of What the Ship Is About.

No one designs a ships to fill every role. That is impossible and won’t sell. The “stealth racing family RV armored destroyer cargo carrier” (bet you can’t say that five times fast) would cost hundreds if not thousands of times more than if this were broken into five separate ships; either that or compromises will have to be made. Pick a simple core concept and stick to it. This should be as simple as a “cargo carrier” or a “destroyer.” Should a cargo carrier carry enough weaponry to defend itself? Yes. Assault a planet? No. Conversely, Should the destroyer carry enough cargo to give it fuel and food enough to carry out its missions? Yes. Enough to keep a gigafactory in operation for a day? No.

Well what about a “pirate ship” you ask? Simple concept but at its heart it wants to be the “stealth racing family RV armored destroyer cargo carrier” I mentioned earlier. Stealth to sneak up on its target, racing to outpace whatever it is after or after it, family RV since the pirates are going to be living there for a while and will get bored, armored destroyer since it needs to shoot at its query and take shots, and most importantly of all, have room for the cargo it steals. If you make that, it will cost more than any military vessel since they don’t need to have the cargo carrier in that ship. So it has to make compromises. Does it have to be both stealthful and racing? Possibly no. It could simply rely on one or the other instead of both. It could have the technology to not appear on sensors until only a short distance from their query. So its engines can be downgraded to only beating cargo ships. Does its armor and weaponry have to outclass warships or can that be compromised down to outclass cargo ships? By doing this, we just kept the price down and still have the pirate ship be effective.

2) Ask “Is This Necessary?”

Ask yourself this on EVERYTHING! This goes for weaponry choices to hallways. Yes, hallways. If there is any way to eliminate a hallway, do so. A hallway is cargo space not being used to transport cargo. If you have to have the crew recreation area double as the way to get from the bridge to the crew quarters and engineering while not wasting space on a hallways, do so. Reason why: that is space saved can be allocated towards cargo, making the ship more profitable.

3) Add Unique Flair

More than anything, this is the reason to make your own ship. Otherwise, you may as well simply buy a book of ships (such as the Foreven Worlds: Ships of the Border Worlds). Do you want the ships ideal for a crew without a mechanic? Make everything easy to repair. You want to show how this world’s technology just isn’t up to par? How about their armor is better than normal because they have been hit so often by raiders? Is it overusing gold and holograms to how just how rich the owner is? Give it personality.

Speaking of personality, our Prelude to War adventures feature a number of characters with lots of personality. Download the first two in the series The Rose of Death and State of Chaos, exclusively at DriveThruRPG.

Scientific Postulate: A Moon is a Necessary Part in Producing a Magnetosphere

As a citizen scientist, I would like to postulate the following idea:

A Sizable Moon is a Necessary Part in Producing a Planet’s Magnetosphere and Ultimately Able to Support Life.

I am not simply talking about our Moon keeping the planet’s axis tilt at an angle that makes our seasons predictable. Nor am I talking about tidal forces on our oceans. I am talking specifically about how a moon helps a planet in producing its magnetic field or magnetosphere.

A magnetosphere is the magnetic field produced by a planet that repels a certain amount of the sun’s solar radiation, allowing us to keep a breathable atmosphere as well as keeping us from being bombarded by high levels of cancer-causing radiation. Ours is caused by the molten iron core of the planet. For comparison, Venus has only an induced magnetic sphere, created by the way the solar radiation interacts with its atmosphere. Mars has a magnetosphere approximately 1/40’s the strength of our own. It is believed that Venus’ core has solidified keeping the iron core from producing a magnetic field and that at least part of Mars’ core is liquid, but less than earth’s. This less-liquid core would not produce as strong of a magnetic field as our own planet.

The questions is, “Why is Earth’s core liquid, the core of Venus solid, and Mars has a semi-liquid core?” Here’s where my theory comes in: the directional gravimetric pull of our Moon is what keeps our core liquid. Specifically, it is the fact that the Earth is pulled unevenly by our Moon one way and the Sun from another that has kept our core from solidifying.

Contrast that with Venus and Mars. Venus has no moon and thus its has only one significant source of gravity being exerted on its core: the sun. Now that its day is slightly longer than its orbit, the directional gravimetric pull on its core is a near constant, generating no friction, no heat and thus no magnetic field. Mars’ moons’ lack of size (and thus lack of a significant gravimetric pull on the planet) can best be summed by Andy Weir in his book, The Martian when he was talking about how much light the moons reflect back to the surface at night, “Phobos gives me some moonlight, but not enough to work with. Deimos is a little piece of crap that’s no good to anyone.” These small celestial bodies are so small they provide some pull on the planet’s core, but not nearly as much as our Moon does for our homeworld. This means that the smaller gravimetic pull on the core does not produce as much heat and friction, meaning the core has somewhat solidified.

Contrast that with Pluto. We do not yet know if the far away rocky dwarf world has a magnetic field or not. However, we recently learned that it probably has an ocean of liquid water beneath its surface. This is obviously caused by the pull of its moons on the planet. Combine that with the fact that it is described as a “real world with diverse and active geology,” could be an indication that the gravimetic pull from the moons could affect the planet’s core, generating a magnetic field. If that is the case, it would be Charon pulling in one direction and its other moons (Nix, Hydra, Styx, and Kerberos) providing additional gravimetric pulls that keeps Pluto’s core molten. Should this be true, a base could someday be established on Pluto, one that requires keeping the base warm and breathable but does not require solar radiation shielding.

Ultimately, what does this mean and how does this help us? If this theory should be accurate, it might be worth an investment to redirect a sizable asteroid from the asteroid belt and place it in orbit around Mars. Over the course of a century or more, the planet’s core would remelt and increase the strength of Mars’ magnetic field, allowing for widespread terraforming of the planet, and letting humans and plants to eventually to live on the planet without special gear protecting us from the sun’s harmful radiation.

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