Tag Archives: Sci Fi

Completed deckplans for Modular Cutter (Traveller)

The finished deckplans for a modular cutter. This version has a small cargo hold under the bridge and some spartan crew accommodations.  Access to the Lower deck and the dorsal spine crawl space is via overhead and floor hatches.  Next up – modules.

Modular Cutter Deckplan - indexed




50 D-ton Modular Cutter (Traveller)

Some more WIP shots of one of my favourite of all Traveller vessels – the 50Dton Modular Cutter.   I was first introduced to deck plans for this ship in Supplement 7: Traders and Gunboats.

Sup7 Tand G

In recent years I got the GURPS Traveller supplement dedicated to this vessel.  One of the better GURPS Traveller books, it is chock full of plans for cutters, cutter modules for every application and jump shuttles for moving modules from star system to star system.

Mod Cutter cover

First off, plan views of the modular cutter showing the vessel with and without a module attached.

Modular Cutter Plan

Side on views of the same vessel with a crewman for scale.

Modular Cutter Side

Coming next – deckplans and some of the more common modules encountered.

Credit – crewman from Brook West (c)2002.

Deckplans for Denoba Class Far Trader

Finished these last night. Hope you can get some use from them.  For Traveller players, fuel storage is in wings.  MS Paint is a pretty simple tool but I am quite happy with the results I got from it.

denoba completed

I had fun doing this, although it took longer than I thought. Might crack out a bulk carrier next.


Type A2 Denoba-class Far Trader (Traveller)

I got bored painting and decided to draw a star ship.  This is my version of the Type A2 Far Trader from Traveller.  Deck plans will follow.  All done in MS Paint because I cannot figure out how to use almost any other paint package.  The style is hopefully a bit like the ships that this guy draws. He does some of the best deck plans around – I love them.  I hope he goes along with the idea that imitation being the sincerest form of flattery because I copied his style as much as I could with the drawing package I have.  A few cut and pastes from his png files as well. The guy is a master.

The Type A2 Far Trader is a small merchantman that carries four crew, six or so passengers and cargo.

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that it bears some resemblance to the Denoba class from Space Opera. No apologies.

denoba wip outline

denoba wip exterior

Aslan Clan Transport (Traveller)

I was going through old files on my laptop and found a deck plan I did of a 600Dton Aslan Clan Transport.  I think I copied it from a picture in the GURPS Traveller rulebook. The great Traveller sci fi artist Jesse de Graf did this wonderful image of the vessel.

Aslan clan transport

Here is the deckplan. Hope it comes in useful.  Note: the crew module has two levels.  Only one level shown on the plan for the FTL drive.Aslan clan transport mk1I also did a version in case you use FTL drive in your game rather than the Traveller Jump Drive.

Aslan clan transport mk FTL

More on 3D Mapping in Traveller

I had a few suggestions as to how to improve the map.  Changing the size of the system symbol to give a more 3D effect, changing lines for the different jump routes and what drawing package I used. I will answer the last question first. I used a freeware package called PAINT.net. It is a souped up MS Paint that allows the use of layers.  In the maps below there are different layers for the background, the grid, systems, system names and jump route.

So, here is the Map Mk11.  First off, a map with no Jump Routes shown.


The next map shows Jump 1 routes.  There are three clusters of systems that are Jump1 apart – mini-Mains as it were.


When the Jump 2 routes are added every system in the Sector is reachable.  While typing I noticed two more J2 links I missed.   No wonder the Vilani forbade the secret of the Jump2 drive from subject races.


When you add the Jump3 (and higher) Routes, the speed of communication and travel opens the Subsector up.

Far Frontiers for web site - Jump3

I hope you like these changes and perhaps can see a use for them if you give 3D mapping a go for your own Traveller games.

Traveller RPG 3D Sector Map

I was first introduced to the Traveller role-playing game in 1977. It has been one of my favourite role-playing games ever since. From the early days when our parties seemed to consist of nothing but psychopathic nutbars who spaced passengers and stole their belongings, to sector spanning adventures that involved lost starships and halting a Zhodani invasion fleet outflanking the Spinward Marches – I have pretty much played and GM’d all of what Traveller is capable of being – and I am still not tired of it.  However, ever since I first played the game the only thing that bugged me was the two dimensional system mapping that was used.

This is a Traveller Sub Sector Map – The Aramis Subsector from the iconic Spinward Marches region of the Official Traveller Universe.  For a larger map of the entire region see the great Zhodani Base – a treasure trove of fantastic Traveller resources.


As you can see it is a two dimensional representation of a region of space encompassing an area of some 8×10 (80 square parsecs).   Interstellar travel in Traveller is done by ships equipped with Jump Drives. Each hex being a ‘Jump’.  Depending on technology levels Jump Drives can move a ship between one and six hexes (or jumps).  Conveniently, all Jumps take about a week, give or take. Now, it nowhere specifies that the distance between two systems one hex apart is exactly one parsec so the standard 2D map can be viewed as a type of interstellar railway system map.

Now after many years of playing Traveller I have a heap of starship deck plans and designs already made – using the Classic Traveller module Book Five: High Guard.  I didn’t want them all to go to waste.  I have decided for my next Traveller game to use a three dimensional Jump map. I have played with this before and tried stacking hex maps  but it is ugly and all those hexes do my head in. I have gone for a Sub Sector (or Sector) of 10x10x10 Parsecs (give or take a few).


On this 2D map the systems are located by their positions in three dimensions.  For example, the Koenig III System is located at 1-0-6 (6 being the the third dimension).  I have marked Jump Routes up to J3 (although not all of them) to save time later but to work out the distance in parsecs to any other system, all you need to do is a bit of really basic math.  For example, the navigator of a starship wants to plot a course from Koenig III (1-0-6) to Gambetta (2-2-6).

You just need to us this formula:

3 dimensional distance equation

For the example above:

Distance = √ ( ( 2-1)² + (2-0)² + (6-6)² )

Distance = √ (1² + 2² + 0² )

Distance = √ (1+4+0)

Distance = √ 5

Distance = 2.236 = The ship has Jump 2 engines installed so can make the jump in one go.

Now using this system I am making the arbitrary assumption that a ship with Jump 1 engines will go up to 1.999 parscecs, with Jump 2 engines 2-2.999 parsecs and so forth.

FGU Space Opera Roleplaying Game

Another blast from the past today.  Back in the early 80s I first discovered Fantasy Games Unlimited’s Space Opera science fiction role-playing game. A few friends and I sat down and tried to make characters.  It wasn’t hard so much as somewhat tedious.  Trying to figure all the pre-requisite skills for your Armsman became a chore when you wanted to get gaming.   We reverted back to using Traveller for character generation.


However, I really liked the background of Space Opera – a mish-mash of science fiction staples of the time. There was the United Federation of Planets (obviously from Star Trek) but with a completely different style. There were Robert Heinlein’s Bugs from Starship Troopers. Hell, the Federation Marines were even called CAP troopers. The associated Sci-Fi Miniatures Wargame was called Space Marines (again long before Games Workshop tried to claim ownership of the term).   The Federation’s biggest enemy was the Azuriach Imperium, an evil totalitarian racist state that actually farmed and cooked intelligent aliens – Space Turkey.  I ended up doing what all good GMs do – I ran a Traveller game set in a Space Opera inspired setting. Converted lots of the ships over to Traveller versions and still have the paper deckplans.


In a few years, there were a whole heap of material published. There were about half a dozen Sector Modules published. These covered most of the major power centres of the official Space Opera setting. My favourite is still the first – The Terran Sector.  Each sector encompassed a 200LY Cube. As much as I liked Traveller I really preferred the FTL used in Space Opera. It presented space in three dimensions as opposed to Traveller’s two dimensional hex-based star mapping system.


All you needed was a ruler and a slide-rule/calculator (or your head if you were into that sort of thing) and you could determine distance between stars in Light Years on the map.


Starship construction rules, like pretty much everything in this game, probably worked better if you were the guy who wrote the game.  Even looking at the official starship designs it was obvious that the authors fudged the rules something chronic. I have tried to retro-engineer some of the designs and they almost always don’t add up.


I have collected every bit of official material published by FGU and sanctioned by them for this game. That even includes the Star Sector modules for a lost colony of humans who are enslaved and in rebellion against a race that look and sound like Klingons!  There are lots of published adventures as well to give you a feel for the setting.

If you like retro sci-fi I cannot recommend this game enough. If nothing else you will get a good laugh and have some fun reading through the various books. Originals are still available pretty cheaply from time to time from places like Noble Knight Games and of course from eBay. DrivethruRPG also sells PDF copies of most of the material – often at quite a discount.

UPDATE: I just found out on TMP that FGU are still in operation. Who knew? Here is a link to their site where you can still get product directly from the publishers themselves.

UPDATE 2: I have or am going to convert some of the ships from this game to Traveller versions with electronic versions of my paper deck plans. Keep an eye out for them.