BX Space – Rocket Ships & Space Travel

The following article is the fifth in the BX Space Series.

The Space Warrior cast his doubting eyes over the rusting hull, “You call this bucket of bolts a Rocket Ship?”

“The Spacer may not look pretty bub,” said Captain Hunter as he brushed past the hulking fighter on his way to the helm, “but this ship has heart!”

“Yes, the heart of an aging prize fighter with 30 trillion light years past its last service, but don’t let that worry you warrior,” droned B9 the Robot in a monotone.

Rocket Ships

The Rocket Ship is used to fly through air and space. It is a rather fanciful vehicle.

General Description

The Player Rocket Ship is designed to accommodate 6 Characters. It’s accommodations are necessarily spartan to conserve weight and the only full chair is provided for the Helmsman, and it is bolted to the deck. Metal folding seats/bunks are attached to the walls of the cabin and all other crew and passengers must lay in them during blast-off and landing.

A Rocket Ship is teardrop in shape, has fins for atmospheric stability, and skids for landing. It has a single hatch in its side. At its front are windows which are protected by retractable shields when entering the atmosphere of a planet or during encounters with Hazards. There are smaller portholes which are similarly protected at the sides of the hull. The ship has a single helm station, and a periscope with telescopic features is used to view the vessels surroundings when the windows are closed for protection. A single cannon is often located in the ships nose, although sometimes a turret is used to provide a 360 degree field of fire. The ship has a Tele-Radio for visual and verbal communication. The Rocket Ship’s single power plant is a Rocket Motor used both for thrust, maneuvering, and powering all of the various ships systems. The Rocket Ship is capable of leaving a planet and traveling through space to other planets due to the inclusion of Trillium in its structure, thus countering what would otherwise be the great burden of its own weight, cargo, and passengers. Trillium is an extremely rare mineral which counters the effect of gravity.

Large Rocket Ships capable of blast-off and landing are rarely built due to the limited availability of Trillium.

Rocket Ship Armour Class

A ships AC is rated from 9 to 2. Armour Class is granted by a ship’s Class but it may be improved.

d100 Test Table

Character’s Level

Ship’s Armour Class

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

0

-1

-2

-3

Normal Man

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

96

1st to 3rd

46

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

4th + Higher

36

41

46

51

56

61

66

76

81

86

91

96

96

Note – d100 Check Numbers may be converted to d20 using the following table. d100 dice roll modifiers of +5% or -5% convert to d20 values of +1 or -1 respectively.

d100 to d20 Conversion Table

d100

01

06

11

16

21

26

31

36

41

46

d20

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

d100

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

d20

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

Encumbrance

A ship will have an encumbrance based on its Class, this grants it carrying capacity.

Hit Dice and Hit Points

Ships use d4, d6, or d8 for Hit Points depending on their Class. Note that d6 may be used when variable dice are not used.

Escape Number

A Class of ship will have an Escape Number rated like EN from 9 to 2. This number represents how difficult it is to escape a ship when it is in pursuit. Ships are operated by Characters, therefore escape attempts are made by Characters vs. The Escape Number using the regular attack matrices. Success means conflict is avoided or ended.

  • Note that Hazards are also rated in terms of an Escape Number to avoid them.

d100 Test Table

Character’s Level

Escape Number

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

0

-1

-2

-3

Normal Man

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

96

1st to 3rd

46

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

4th + Higher

36

41

46

51

56

61

66

76

81

86

91

96

96

Note – d100 Check Numbers may be converted to d20 using the following table. d100 dice roll modifiers of +5% or -5% convert to d20 values of +1 or -1 respectively.

d100 to d20 Conversion Table

d100

01

06

11

16

21

26

31

36

41

46

d20

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

d100

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

d20

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

Weapon

A ship will have a weapon limit indicating the number of cannon which they may bear. Space Cannons are the only available weapons and cause the same damage as the Ship Class Dice Type. Weapons are operated by Characters, therefore attacks are made by Characters vs. AC. Attacks by man-to-man scale weapons cannot cause damage to ships. Only cannon or grapple attacks cause damage.

  • Note – ships may also be damaged by space mines, space monsters, meteoroids, etc.

Classes of Ships

Ship Class

AC

EN

Enc

Enc
Cargo Space1

Number of Hit Dice

Cannon

Merchant

7

9

3-12 Crew, 3-36 Passengers

19,200 coins

3

3

Pirate

5

5

12-24 Crew

19,200 Coins

5

3

Player

7

7

1-6 Crew

4800 coins

3

1

Scout

9

3

1-2 Crew

400 coins

1

1

Warship

3

5

12-24 Crew

9600 coins

7

7

Ship Scale Space Monster

Any

Variable

Variable

Not applicable

Variable

Variable

Note 1 – 10 coins = 1 pound

Note 2 – d6 may may be used when variable dice are not used.

Flying a Rocket Ship

Any intelligent Character may fly a Rocket Ship. Flying on a planet takes Turns to reach a destination. Flying in space takes Hours or Days.

Blast Off

Make a Check Roll vs. the Gravity Number of an Asteroid, Moon, or Planet to Blast Off. The ship airlock, cargo hatch, and window shutters must be closed or a ship cannot blast off. Compare the Gravity Number vs. a Character’s Level to determine the check number to meet or beat.

Characters not using the ships bunks or helm seat must make a Saving Throw v.s. Blast to avoid being injured for 1d6 hit points.

Landing

Make a Check Roll vs. the Gravity Number of an Asteroid, Moon, or Planet to Land. Landing follows essentially the same procedure as a Blast off. The ship airlock, cargo hatch, and window shutters must be closed or the ship cannot land. Compare the Gravity Number vs. a Character’s Level to determine the check number to meet or beat.

Characters not using the ships bunks or helm seat must make a Saving Throw v.s. Blast to avoid being injured for 1d6 hit points.

Blast Off or Landing Check Roll Failure

Failure of the Check Roll means that the landing or take-off does not go as planned and a Rocket Ship System is damaged, and may even become inoperative without a successful System Saving Throw. In other words, something unexpected happens, but not a crash! A Blast Off or Landing is always successful.

Type

Gravity Numbers

Asteroid

9

Asteroid Field

6

Comet

7

Micro Black Hole

2

Moon

6 through 5

Planet

4 through 3

Rocket Ship

9

Space Junk

9

Space Routes

Routes between locations in space are marked with a Route Number from 9 to 2.

d100 Test Table

Character’s Level

Route Number

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

0

-1

-2

-3

Normal Man

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

96

1st to 3rd

46

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

4th + Higher

36

41

46

51

56

61

66

76

81

86

91

96

96

Note – d100 Check Numbers may be converted to d20 using the following table. d100 dice roll modifiers of +5% or -5% convert to d20 values of +1 or -1 respectively.

d100 to d20 Conversion Table

d100

01

06

11

16

21

26

31

36

41

46

d20

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

d100

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

d20

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

A Player’s Character may fly a ship to a destination without incident by successfully rolling their Check Number or better. The Player may fly slow, normal, or fast along the route.

  • Slow, add +5% [+1] to the Dice Roll and 1 hour/day to the journey
  • Fast subtract -5% [-1] from the Dice Roll and 1 hour/day from the journey

Making a Jump to Hyperspace or Ultraspace

A Navigation System jump calculation takes 1 round per point of the Route Number. It takes twice as long if the system is damaged, and it cannot make the calculation if it is inoperative.

If the Navigation System is inoperative, or the Route Number is not known, a jump to Hyperspace or Ultraspace may still be made but the RN and time of travel are assigned by the Space Master. The time to calculate the unknown RN is 1d4+1 Rounds. The Space Master is not required to reveal the resulting length of an unknown journey and it may be determined randomly, 1d12 Days in Hyperspace or 1d12 Hours in Ultraspace.

Note – The Navigation System Calculation can be a focus of drama for the game play. Player character’s can circumvent the Navigation System (involving greater risk) using the above method if they are trying to escape pursuit for example and they don’t think they can endure 9 rounds of combat with another ship.

Compare the Route Number vs. a Character’s Level to determine the check number to meet or beat. Failure of the check roll indicates that the ship fails to jump into one of the alternate dimensions and remains in Normal Space.

Note – This can also be a moment of drama in a game if characters are being pursued or in pursuit of another Rocket Ship. The Navigation System must recalculate the journey which takes time.

Space Maps

Route Numbers

Route Type

Route Numbers

Notes

Normal

9, 7, 5

Difficult

4, 3, 2, 1

Hazardous, Uncharted

2, 1, 0, -1, -2, -3

Special

0

When the RN is known but the Navigation System is not functioning

In the following illustration keys a through e represent destinations, such as locations on a planet, the planets of a solar system, or it might even represent solar systems if the concept of Hyperspace is used to travel between stars. The numbers shown are the Route Numbers between the various locations.

Generic Space Map
Generic Space Map

Keys a through e represent destinations. Numbers represent Route Numbers

Note 1 – Asteroids, Moons, and Planets will also have a Gravity Number, not indicated here.

Note 2 – Suns would not be listed in a Solar System as they are not a destination.

An alternative way to record the Route Numbers is not necessarily to attempt to map the routes using the above diagram but instead to use a simple matrix to plot it out. The matrix will show the route numbers between the various destinations and may be easily keyed. The following example is a chart of Route Numbers:

Route Numbers Chart Example

From

To Destination

Key

Type

Name

a

b

c

d

e

a

RN4

RN2

RN7

U

b

RN4

RN9

U

RN9

c

RN2

RN9

RN9

RN9

d

RN7

U

RN9

RN1

e

U

RN9

RN9

RN1

U – Uncharted Route Number.

Note – this kind of chart may also be used to create route number maps between destinations on a planet, between the planets and moons of a solar system, or between solar systems of the known galaxy.

Note that the Route Numbers, while known to the Space Master, are always unknown to player characters unless they have obtained the data, or discover it for themselves.

Navigating to Uncharted Destinations

A ship may be flown to an unconnected location, and the route is assigned a Route Number, 2, 1, 0, -1, -2, or -3. Once successfully navigated assign a Route Number from 9 through 1.

Travel Time

The Route Number indicates:

  • The number of hours a trip takes for a Rocket Motor in a Solar System, or
  • The number of days a trip takes if traveling between stars in Hyperspace, or
  • The number of hours (experienced subjectively as days) a trip takes if traveling between stars in Ultraspace.

No Trip may take less than 1 unit of any of the above time scales. A Route Number of 0 or -1 for example still takes 1 Hour or 1 Day for the trip.

Normal Space, Hyper-Space, and Ultraspace

Normal Space

Normal Space, or N-Space, is the familiar universe inhabited by the Player Characters. Rocket Ships travel between the worlds of a Solar System in N-Space in a matter of hours. However it is impractical to travel between Stars using a Rocket Motor because it cannot exceed the speed of light. Using only a Rocket Motor, sleep ships, or generational ships, would be necessary to cross the vast distances of space because such a journey would take many lifetimes.

Hyperspace

Hyperspace, or H-Space, is a special dimension which is contiguous with N-Space yet permits the vast distances between stars to be crossed at speeds faster than light. A Hyperdrive therefore permits a Rocket Ship in N-Space to enter Hyperspace and cross vast distances in a short time frame before emerging again in N-Space.

Hyperspace is completely dark and it is not without its dangers. Communication is impossible within Hyperspace itself and between Hyperspace and Normal space.

Hyperspace is influenced by the gravity of objects in normal space. A Rocket Ship traveling in hyperspace will drop into Normal Space if it encounters the gravity of a navigational Hazard such as Asteroids, Black Holes, Moons, Planets, Rocket Ships, or Stars. Objects in Normal Space are always moving so no route is perpetually free of dangers.

Characters may not exit their ship for a spacewalk while a Rocket Ship is within Hyperspace or they are lost and removed from play. Combat between ships may not take place in Hyperspace.

A Hyperdrive may not be used while a Rocket Ship is landed on an Asteroid, Moon, or Planet, or while a ship is docked in space, it will not activate.

Note – A Magic User may open a portal to Hyperspace allowing a Rocket Ship to enter and traverse it using a Rocket Motor. Refer to the topic Space Fantasy Spells.

Ultraspace

Ultraspace is a special dimension which is contiguous with N-Space. Like Hyperspace it permits the vast distances between stars to be crossed at speeds faster than light. A Hyperdrive therefore permits a Rocket Ship in N-Space to enter Ultraspace and cross vast distances in an extremely short time frame (hours rather than days) before emerging again in N-Space. However, each hour of travel time is subjectively experienced as a day by the Characters traveling in Ultraspace.

Ultraspace is not without great perils, it is a region incomprehensible to the minds of N-Space creatures, and terrifying monsters of madness exist there which will attack a crew. Fortunately these monsters cannot long endure N-Space, which is one sure way to be free of them.

It is a whispered tale in space ports that some ships have arrived at their destinations with their crews either entirely dead, in the grips of madness, or entirely missing. Such vessels always seem to retain the taint of their previous journey and are considered hoodoo ships by spacemen and best avoided.

Visually, Ultraspace resembles the inside of a lava-lamp prompting crews to close every window shutter. Communication is impossible within Ultraspace itself and between Ultraspace, and Hyperspace or Normal space. Combat between ships may not take place in Ultraspace.

Ultraspace is influenced by the gravity of objects in normal space. A Rocket Ship traveling in Ultraspace will drop into Normal Space if it encounters the gravity of a navigational Hazard such as Asteroids, Black Holes, Moons, Planets, Rocket Ships, or Stars. Objects in Normal Space are always moving so no route is perpetually free of dangers.

Characters may not exit their ship for a spacewalk while a Rocket Ship is within Ultraspace or they are lost and removed from play.

Note – A Cleric may open a portal to Ultraspace allowing a Rocket Ship to enter and traverse it using a Rocket Motor. Refer to the topic Space Fantasy Spells.

Forcing a Rocket Ship out of Hyperspace or Ultraspace

Characters may use the Helm to leave Hyperspace or Normalspace early before a trip is completed. Re-entering Normalspace without completing a Hyperspace or Ultraspace trip ends the travel prematurely. The Space Master must then determine the position of the ship and if the ship encounters a Hazard, a roll of 1 using d12.

Solar Systems

Planets are the destinations of space maps, and typically each solar system will have one or more suns and planets. In the following illustration keys a through c represent destinations, the planets of a solar system. The numbers shown are the Route Numbers between the various locations. The Route Number indicates the number of hours a trip takes for a Rocket Motor in a Solar System.

Generic Solar System Map
Generic Solar System Map

Note that players will undoubtedly ask if they can use Hyperspace or Ultraspace to travel between planets, no.

An alternative way to record the Route Numbers of a solar system is not necessarily to attempt to map the routes using the above diagram but instead to use a simple matrix to plot it out. The Matrix will show the route numbers between the various destinations and may be easily keyed. The following example is the Solar System Zodemus:

Solar Systems Chart Example

From

To Destination

Key

Type

Name

1

2

3

3a

4

5

5a

5b

6

7

8

9

10

1

Star

Sun

2

Planet

Incinerus

RN5

RN5

RN7

RN5

RN5

RN3

RN7

RN4

RN3

3

Planet

Odmiria

RN5

RN9

RN8

RN7

RN7

RN3

RN8

RN4

RN3

3a

Moon

Vola

RN5

RN9

RN8

RN7

RN7

RN3

RN7

RN4

RN3

4*

Planet

Zodemus

RN7

RN8

RN8

RN7

RN7

RN3

RN7

RN4

RN3

5

Planet, Gas Giant, Unbearable

Cthonica

5a

Moon

Pula

RN5

RN7

RN7

RN7

RN9

RN3

RN7

RN3

RN3

5b

Moon

Todu

RN5

RN7

RN7

RN7

RN9

RN3

RN7

RN3

RN3

6

Asteroids

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

7

Planet

Mederon

RN7

RN8

RN7

RN7

RN7

RN7

RN3

RN4

RN3

8

Planet, Gas Giant, Unbearable

Upislon

9

Dwarf Planet

Fiklis

RN4

RN4

RN4

RN4

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN4

RN3

10

Asteroids

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

RN3

* Main planet of the star system.

Note – This kind of chart may also be used to create Route Number Maps between Solar Systems of the Known Galaxy or even between the destinations of a planet.

From this example it becomes immediately obvious that it is best not to have too many planets in a solar system to have to plot out the Route Numbers.

Whenever a Rocket Ship arrives at a Solar System it does so at the Main Planet, or another planet if known to the character, and may remain in space, or land on the current Planet. From their current location a Rocket Ship may travel to the other planets in the solar system.

Note that the Route Numbers, while known to the Space Master, are always unknown to player characters unless they have obtained the data, or discovered it for themselves.

In the above chart the Sun and Planetary Gas Giants are not shown as destinations which may be entered into a navigation computer, safety features prevent it.

A Space Master may at any time change an RN as things are always moving in space!

Example of Solar System Travel – Determining the RN

To find the Route Number (RN) to another planet (Fiklis) locate the row containing the Key of the current location, e.g. Key 2 Incinerus, move right in this row until the value under column 9 is found, the RN for Fiklis is RN4.

Asteroids, Moons & Planets

Science Fantasy Asteroids, Moons and Planets are the places where dungeons and ruins may be found, as well as strange aliens, barbarians, and civilizations. Therefore, rubber science rules apply! Insofar as characters are concerned they may normally set foot on and breathe the air of strange moons and planets without any issue. This premise is essential to the game!

Example of an Asteroid, Moon or Planet Key

Map or Chart Key: 9 Gravity Number (GN) 7
Name: Fiklis Atmosphere: Externally None, Interior Yes
Type: Planet

Fiklis has no real atmosphere so Space Suits must be worn. In outward appearance this is a dead world. The planet is frozen so distant is it from the sun, but within Fiklis is a warm hospitable hollow world of fantastic creatures and forgotten ruins of the Ancients where the air is breathable.

There is an ancient airlock which will automatically grapple and dock ships that approach near to it, landing is GN9 at this location only. When a ship “lands” the airlock grapples the rocket ship, draws it within the planet, and guides it to a landing pad. Blast Off is also GN9 at this location and the process is reversed.

Asteroids

Asteroids do not have an atmosphere, a space suit must be worn to protect characters from the vacuum of space.

Moons

Moons may sometimes have an atmosphere. If they do not, or the atmosphere is inhospitable, a space suit must be worn for protection. Following the premise of our science fantasy principles, a moon with an atmosphere is one that is typically breathable.

Planets

Planets nearly always have breathable atmospheres. Occasionally there may be an inhospitable planet where the air cannot be breathed thus requiring the player characters to wear space suits

Seldom will a planet have gravity that is so great no ship which ever lands there may leave it. In this event the gravity is so unbearable no character may endure it, they perish. Such inhospitable planets should be a rarity for that would end the fun. Players should be warned by the Space Master that to land on such a planet is to face certain death. Characters which land their ships on these planets are removed from play.

Asteroid, Moon & Planet Gravity

Asteroids, Moons, and Planets have a Gravity Numbers (GNs) rated from 9 through 2. The Gravity affects Landing and Blast Off, character movement, and how much a character may carry. The Space Master may assign gravity as they see fit.

Note – Planets which have unbearable gravity do not fall within this scale.

Gravity Number

Type

Weight in Coins which may be carried

9-7

Asteroid

Moon

Planet

Deduct the weight of 400 coins from encumbrance.

6-5

Moon

Planet

Normal

5-2

Planet

Add the weight of 400 coins to encumbrance.

The weight of coins has a direct effect on movement per known rules.

Combat in N-Space

Space combat is intentionally abstract and does not plot the exact positions of objects in space but follows the same methodology as normal Turn and Combat Sequence of known rules with the following notations. There is no need to check for the encounter distance as it is not used.

Space Battle
Space Battle

Refer to a Combat Sequence, in the Movement segment ships are granted an opportunity to escape, refer to the Escape Number. A Player’s Character at the Helm may fly a ship and escape by successfully rolling their Check Number or better. The Player may fly slow, normal, or fast.

  • Slow, add +5% [+1] to the Dice Roll, add +1 to AC.
  • Fast subtract -5% [-1] from the Dice Roll, deduct -1 from AC.

AC may not be increased beyond 9, or reduced below -3.

Failure of the check roll indicates that the ship has failed to escape. Missile Fire Combat then takes place.

Player Characters operate a ship’s cannon or grapple and make attacks.

d100 Test Table

Character’s Level
Operator of the Ship’s Cannon or Grapple

Ship’s Armour Class

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

0

-1

-2

-3

Normal Man

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

96

1st to 3rd

46

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

96

96

4th + Higher

36

41

46

51

56

61

66

76

81

86

91

96

96

Note – d100 Check Numbers may be converted to d20 using the following table. d100 dice roll modifiers of +5% or -5% convert to d20 values of +1 or -1 respectively.

d100 to d20 Conversion Table

d100

01

06

11

16

21

26

31

36

41

46

d20

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

d100

51

56

61

66

71

76

81

86

91

96

d20

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

When a ship is struck the attacker rolls for damage using the dice appropriate to the class of their ship. The hit points are deducted from the defenders, and the defender’s ship may be boarded and captured when its hit points are reduced to zero. When a defender’s ship is reduced to 0 hit points it may no longer move or attack.

Boarding Ships

A ship with 0 Hit Points may be boarded by the victor, man-to-man melee may then take place per known rules using a man-to-man 10’ scale map of the interior of the two ships. The damaged ship must first be grappled successfully, before boarding may take place. The ships are then joined by an airlock. It takes 1 Turn to successfully mate the airlocks.

Ship Damage and Repair

Like Characters, ships recover Hit Points each day as they are “repaired” by its crew.2d6 Turns must be devoted to repair activity or no Hit Points are regained.

A Cleric may also restore a ship’s Hit Points using their powers.

Repairing Systems and Gadgets

The future is filled with wondrous gadgetry all of which needs to be repaired when it is damaged or breaks down. A Gadget is an individual item. A System is just a Gadget that is a component of a larger item such as a Rocket Ship or Robot.

When Character’s repair a Gadget or System they are restoring it to working order. A successful Check Roll is required to repair a Gadget and Parts may sometimes be required as a precondition of repair, a system or gadget cannot be repaired without a part the Characters do not have.

  • It takes 2d6 Turns to elevate an Inoperative gadget or system to Damaged status. It is not fully repaired but is in working order albeit a -5% [-1] dice roll modifier applies to its use.
  • It takes 2d6 Turns, with parts, to elevate an Inoperative or Damaged gadget or system to Repaired status. A repaired gadget or system is in full working order.

Sabotaging Systems or Gadgets

A Character or a Monster may deliberately damage a System or Gadget. The Space Master assigns this a Test Number from 9 through 2. When an attack is successful make a Saving Throw vs. Systems to determine if the system is merely damaged or completely inoperative.

Rocket Ship Template

Damage Location Roll d20

Systems

Status – Damaged

Status – Inoperative

1

Air Supply1,3

 

 

2

Airlock/Hatch

 

 

3

Artificial Gravity

 

 

4

Auto-pilot3

 

 

5

Cannon

 

 

6

Cargo Space

 

 

7

Grapple3

 

 

8

Heating and Air Conditioning3

 

9

Helm3

 

 

10

Hull

 

 

11

Landing Skids

 

 

12

Lighting3

 

 

13

Medical Locker3

 

 

14

Navigation3

 

 

15

Periscope3

 

 

16

Provision Locker3

 

 

17

Rocket Motor

 

 

Hyperdrive2

 

 

18

Tele-Radio3

 

 

19

WC – Waste Disposal3

 

 

20

Windows

 

 

Note 1 – The Air Supply System provides unlimited air until it is damaged.

Note 2 – Hyperdrive is only necessary if travel between stars is being used. Record 2 Systems under line 17. When Damage occurs roll between the two systems to determine which one makes a Saving Throw if Hyperdrive is being used.

Note 3 – The System(s) may be salvaged.

Rocket Ship System Damage

When a ship is attacked and damaged (it loses Hit Points) it’s Systems are affected. For each successful attack, regardless of the number of Hit Points lost, roll 1d20 to determine which System is damaged.

  • When a system is damaged a -5% [-1] Dice Roll Modifier is then applied to Check Rolls.
  • If the system fails a Saving Throw it is inoperative until it is repaired.
  • If a damaged system is rolled a second time it is reduced to an inoperative state until it is repaired. If an inoperative system is rolled what luck!

Salvaged Systems

Inoperative Rocket Ship Systems may be switched out with working systems found in other Rocket Ships, even Derelicts. It takes 6 Turns to salvage a qualifying system from another Rocket Ship. A successful Saving Throw halves the salvage time.

  • Note – Not all systems may be salvaged, refer to the Repair of Rocket Ship Systems Table.

Ideally a non-damaged system may be found and salvaged. In a pinch a Damaged system may be salvaged to replace an inoperative one. An inoperative system may be raised to a Damaged state and then salvaged. Damaged Systems from salvage continue to work but remain Damaged.

Repair of Rocket Ship Systems

An inoperative system may be raised to a damaged state but a damaged system typically cannot be repaired to full working order in space. The full repair of a system may require a dockyard, and/or parts. A dockyard may be located in space at a space station or at a physical location such as an asteroid, moon, or planet. The following table gives the location where the system may be repaired and its cost. It is presumed in these rules that Player Characters are always able to make their own repairs. Such work may be farmed out to repair workers at additional cost. Note that Players may ad-hoc salvage some systems and replace damaged or inoperative ones to obtain better functionality without recourse to a dockyard. The information for salvaging systems is presented in another table.

System

Location

Maintenance Cost (gp)

Workers (gp)

Time to Complete Repair

Air Supply1

Any

100

150

3 Days

Airlock/Hatch

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Artificial Gravity

Dockyard

500

1000

6 Days

Auto-pilot

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Cannon

Dockyard

1000

1500

3 Days

Cargo Space

Dockyard

250

125

6 Days

Grapple

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Heating and Air Conditioning

Any

100

150

3 Days

Helm

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Hull

Dockyard

1000

1500

6 Days

Landing Skids

Dockyard

1000

1500

6 Days

Lighting

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Medical Locker

Dockyard

500

1000

6 Days

Navigation

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Periscope

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Provision Locker

Dockyard

500

1000

6 Days

Rocket Motor

Dockyard

1500

3000

6 Days

Hyperdrive2

Dockyard

3000

6000

6 Days

Tele-Radio

Any

250

125

6 Turns

WC – Waste Disposal

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Windows

Any

250

125

6 Turns

Rocket Ship Systems

Air Supply

The Air Supply system pressurizes the ship. Any internal space may be re-pressurized in 1 Turn so long as the system is functioning. If it is damaged this process takes 6 Turns. If it is “inoperative” it is considered to be working in fail-safe mode, internal spaces may be re-pressurized in 12 Turns and space suit tanks may be re-filled in 6 Turns. A character without air, assuming they need air to breathe, suffers 1d6 damage per Turn.

Airlock/Hatch

The Airlock takes one Turn to pressurize or depressurize to the vacuum of space. To protect those inside the airlock of the Rocket Ship has a safety feature, it will not open its outer door if the inner door is not closed. The reverse is also true.

If an Airlock/Hatch is damaged it is considered a stuck door and may be forced open per known rules. It cannot be pressurized or depressurized. The Airlock/Hatch may be opened with a roll of 1-2 d6. Note that it remains stuck open and closing it requires a similar dice roll. A damaged Airlock/Hatch which is opened in the vacuum of space empties the internal ship spaces of air.

If an Airlock/Hatch is inoperative it cannot be opened without making repairs.

Venting atmosphere from inside the ship through a hatch will cause a deviation from its plotted course granting the Space Master an opportunity to check for a space hazard.

Artificial Gravity

The deck of the cabin is lined with Trillium and can create limited near-terrestrial artificial gravity for the comfort of the crew. This field is sufficient only for the crew spaces and not the cargo space. It has an on-off switch located on the wall of the cabin but the system which creates the Artificial Gravity field is accessible only from outside the ship beneath a service plate on the hull.

If damaged movement within the ship is decreased by one point due to the reduced gravity.

If inoperative movement is reduced per the following table:

Character Encumbrance

Normal Move (Per Turn)

Encounter or Combat Movement

Running Movement

zero gravity

60’

20’/round

60‘/round

Auto-pilot

The Auto-pilot can only be used in space after Blast Off. If set properly the Rocket Ship will travel to it’s destination without intervention from a pilot but it does not make a landing. It is automatically disengaged when the ship reaches its destination or if space hazards are detected and in either case an alarm is sounded. The Auto-pilot requires a Check Roll vs. the Route Number to set it properly.

  • Hyperspace or Ultraspace may not normally be entered without a functioning Auto-pilot. A Magic User may open a portal to Hyperspace. A Cleric may open a portal to Ultraspace.

Cannon

The Rocket Ship Cannon is primarily used to inflict damage on enemy vessels. The cannon causes damage to a Rocket Ship when it strikes. A cannon may however be used to attack targets other than ships. It may be used as an area weapon to bombard a planet, moon, or asteroid. Bombardment affects a 5” x 5” x 5” cube. A cannon cannot be used to target and attack individual characters or monsters.

Characters on the surface are injured but may halve the damage with a successful Saving Throw vs. Blast. Those below ground level, deeper than 5” are unaffected by bombardment.

Cannon Bombardment Attack Numbers

Target Type

Armour Class

Asteroid, surface of

9 through 2

Satellite

7

Space Junk

9

Space Mine, visible only

5 through 2

Cargo Space

The cargo space may hold items per the encumbrance of the Ship. It is not pressurized. If it is damaged cargo may be spoiled or lost. The cargo hold is an interior space of the ship and access to it is granted via an internal personnel hatch, and a larger external cargo hatch. Neither of the Cargo space hatches have an airlock.

Grapple

The Grapple is a mechanical device, a powerful electromagnetic claw at the end of a 100 foot flexible cable, which can be used to retrieve objects, and clamp to a ship’s hull for boarding. The grapple is stored in a closed compartment within the ship and operated by a set of controls in front of a porthole on one side of the ship. A Check Roll is required to successfully use the Grapple vs. a target’s AC.

The Grapple can also be used to grip and damage items with its claw. If used for this purpose the Grapple causes damage with each successful attack vs. a target’s AC.

A disabled ship successfully caught by the Grapple may be pulled close and boarded.

Time to Grapple

Item to be Grappled

Time to Grapple

Asteroid

2 Turns

Character or Monster

1 Round

Ship

2 Turns

Space Mine

1 Turn

Heating and Air Conditioning

The Heating and Air Conditioning system keeps the cabin at a pleasant temperature despite the cold and heat of space or planet.

If the system is damaged characters actions are impacted by unpleasant conditions, too hot or too cold and a -5% [-1] Dice Roll modifier is applied to all check rolls.

If inoperative characters endure the above and 1d2 injury every sixth Turn.

Helm

The Helm Console has the only seat in the spartan accommodations of the Rocket Ship. The Helm is used to steer the Rocket Ship and must be manned whenever the Auto-pilot is not engaged. If it is not manned or the autopilot is not engaged the ship will drift off course and the Space Master may check for Hazards.

A Check Roll must be made whenever:

  • The Rocket Ship Blasts Off, or
  • The Rocket Ship is Landed, or
  • A different Character takes the Helm, or
  • To avoid Hazards.

If the Helm is damaged a -5% [-1] Dice Roll Modifier is applied to Check Rolls. If Inoperative the Rocket Ship will drift off course granting the Space Master an opportunity to make a check roll for a Space Hazard. There will be a 1-3 d6 chance per Turn of a Space Hazard for each round that the Helm is inoperative. The Hazard will arrive in 2-12 (2d6) Turns.

Consequences of Failing the Helm Check Roll:

  • Failing a Rocket Ship Blast Off or Landing damages a ship system.
  • Drifting off course requires the Space Master to check for Space Hazards.
  • Space Hazards, if not avoided, will damage the ship and may even injure Characters on board the ship.

Hull

The Hull of the Rocket Ship is stronger than steel to resist the rigors of space travel. The Rocket Ship is capable of leaving the earth and traveling through space to other planets due to the inclusion of Trillium in its structure, thus countering what would otherwise be the great burden of its own weight, cargo, and passengers. For all its strengths the hull can be damaged by Space Hazards. Failing a Helm Check Roll may result in damage to the Hull.

If the ship lands in water it is designed to stay upright and will remain afloat as long as it is water tight. However a damaged Hull will begin to fill with water and cause the Rocket Ship to sink.

Note that only if a window or hatch are open will the passenger compartment fill with water.

A leaking Rocket Ship Hull will fill with water in 2d6 Turns and sink.

Hyperdrive

Hyperdrive is used to travel between stars. The Route Number is the number of days it takes to travel between stars. If a Hyperdrive is inactive travel between stars may not take place. The Hyperdrive requires no fuel. The Hyperdrive is not accessible from inside the cabin, service plates on the outside of the hull must be removed to access it.

Landing Skids

The Rocket Ship can be set down on its skids in almost any reasonably flat terrain. If the Landing Skids are damaged a Ship may suffer system damage as a result of the landing if a randomly selected system fails a Saving Throw vs. the Gravity Number. If the Landing Skids are inoperative one system is automatically rendered inoperative as a result of the landing.

Lighting

If damaged the lighting dims filling the interior of a Rocket Ship with shadow and unlit spaces.

If inoperative the only ambient light will come from outside the ship or active system monitor lights.

Medical Locker

A Medical Locker may heal the injuries of a single Character once per day in 2d6 Turns similar to the spell Cure Light Wounds.

The Medical Locker will heal 2-7 points (1d6+1) of damage done to any living creature (character or monster) placed upon its diagnostic bed. The Medical Locker may also be used to cure paralysis, but will not then cure any points of damage. The medical locker may not increase a character or monster’s hit point total to more than the normal amount.

If damaged only 2-5 points (1d4+1) of damage may be restored. If inoperative it causes 2-7 points (1d6+1) of damage instead of healing.

Navigation

Space is three dimensional, but for simplicity space Maps are represented in two dimensions, planets are joined by lines, and are marked with Route Numbers. If the Navigation System is inoperative the space maps are not displayed and any destinations known to the characters may be manually plotted only with great difficulty at a Route Number of 0.

The Navigation System gives a visual flashing and audible alarm when a Hazard is encountered unless it is inoperative.

Provision Locker

The Provision Locker creates unappetizing rations for up to 6 passengers per day. If damaged it produces ½ the usual rations. If inoperative it produces nothing.

Tele-Radio

The Rocket Ship Tele-Radio is a transmitter and receiver which the crew of the Rocket Ship may use for communication in Normal Space. It can transmit to adjacent map destinations from the ship. It is notoriously difficult to use and requires a Check Roll vs. the Route Number to communicate successfully.

Periscope

The ship has a periscope with telescopic features and it is used to view the vessels surroundings when the windows are closed for protection. It cannot be used however to view anything under the ship.

The periscope is used to pilot the ship, navigate, and aim the cannon when the ship’s windows are closed. If it is damaged, and the window shutters are closed, apply a -5% [-1] Dice Roll Modifier to these activities.

Rocket Motor

The Rocket Ship’s single power plant is used both for thrust, maneuvering, and powering all of the various ships systems. The Rocket Motor provides the necessary thrust to escape from the gravity of a planet. It requires no fuel. The Route Number is the number of hours it takes to travel between destinations within a Solar System. The Rocket Motor is not accessible from inside the cabin, service plates on the outside of the hull must be removed to access it.

If the Rocket Motor is damaged apply a -5% [-1] Dice Roll Modifier to Landings and Take-offs vs. the Asteroid-Moon-Planet Gravity Number 9 through 2.

If the Rocket Motor is inoperative a Rocket Ship drifts in space, cannot land, and cannot Blast Off.

However, note that even when the Rocket Motor is inoperative and unable to propel the ship essential systems still function; it’s design is such that even in an inoperative state it keeps the Tele-Radio, Air Supply, and Heating and Air Conditioning running thus offering the Rocket Ship’s passengers a chance of survival.

Windows

At the Rocket Ship’s front are windows which are protected by retractable shields closed when entering the atmosphere of a planet. There are smaller portholes which are similarly protected at the sides of the hull. An override window push-button shield control is located at the helm which when the helm is functioning opens or closes all window shields in one round. The windows and portholes each have their own push-button controls and manual cranks. If the ship is without power the windows may be closed manually by a hand crank in three rounds.

Damage from space junk or meteoroids risks catastrophic failure if the shields are currently open. A single Saving Throw is required to determine if there is a catastrophic failure. A broken window results in a sudden loss of cabin pressure and exposes the crew to vacuum. The shield may be closed to end the venting of the atmosphere.

Venting atmosphere from inside the ship through a window will cause a deviation from its plotted course granting the Space Master an opportunity to check for a space hazard.

WC – Waste Disposal

The Rocket Ship has a Waste Disposal System in an enclosed closet complete with sanitizer. The WC is designed to function even in zero gravity. Waste is destroyed by a ray. If damaged the WC may only be used once per day.


Next Article – BX Space Encounters

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GregMacKenzie

Greg MacKenzie is the author of the novella Seven Crows a Secret, the Fenris 2d6 role playing game, adventure modules Gloomland, and Wildwood, as well as countless other adventures.

2 thoughts on “BX Space – Rocket Ships & Space Travel

  • October 14, 2017 at 10:58
    Permalink

    Pretty interesting stuff,

    but instead of the conversion table of d100 to d20 (does anybody really need a chart to multiply the d20 result by 5?) how about a table that gives the die roll directly on a d20? (I tried to give a link to a google sheet where I had done that for you but the spam filter didn’t like it. If you want it let me know and I’ll try a different way of sharing it)

    Also, since the Ship AC, Route Number and Escape Number tables are all the same, it would be easier to use if you just had one table and labeled it as such.

    Reply
    • October 14, 2017 at 17:21
      Permalink

      Hi Joshua,
      What everyone forgets is that the d20 tables from the original game and which are commonly included in various OSR writings are not actually open game content. They are not in the SRD as OGC either. They are WoC intellectual property. The OGL clearly states: “If You are contributing original material as Open Game Content, You represent that Your Contributions are Your original creation and/or You have sufficient rights to grant the rights conveyed by this License.” In compliance with the license I include d100 tables as an alternative to d20. While this may not be popular I have decided to use d100 in the articles and these are included as open game content. I have provided a conversion table from d100 to d20 for conversion to legacy systems but I will not be including the proprietary WoC d20 or other tables. In the first article in this series I have shown the d100 test table has multiple applications, however I intentionally re-use it where I wish to make a point of specific application.

      Reply

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