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Reference Book: Star Wars Saga Edition Starships of the Galaxy

The very title of the Star Wars setting makes it clear- most adventures are going to take place at least partially in space. Whether they're running past an enemy blockade of a planet, escaping Star Destroyers through an asteroid field, or fighting epic space battles to decide the fate of the galaxy, Star Wars heroes are going to end up in space. This chapter provides advice on adding Starship Scale encounters to a game and rules for heroes to go beyond being part-time pilots and fighter jockeys.

Starship Basics Edit

This section covers some of the basics of Starships and Space Travel, giving players and Gamemasters a sense of how Space Travel and Starships work in the Star Wars universe. Gamemasters should feel free to use as much or as little of this material as they like; though this section includes information on established protocols and traditions of the Star Wars universe, none of these features are so integral to the central themes of Star Wars that they cannot be ignored if so desired.

Getting Your Own Starship Edit

Many adventuring parties might see fit merely to obtain passage on a hired vessel as a part of their adventures, and that's perfectly fine. Others will want to obtain their own ships as soon as possible, which usually means at the time of Character Creation. Although Nobles with the Wealth Talent will quickly build up enough credits to buy a used freighter, there are several other ways for players to obtain a ship within the first few sessions of a campaign, provided the Gamemaster agrees to one or more of the following options.

Joining an Organization Edit

Large organizations, such as The Rebel Alliance or The Judicial Department of the Republic Senate, can make Starships available to heroes who work for them. The organization still owns the Starship and can take it back if the heroes refuse a mission or violate the organization's rules; however, at the Gamemaster's discretion, the heroes might have the option to buy their Starship from the organization when they accumulate enough funds.

Wealthy Benefactors Edit

Serving a wealthy individual might allow the heroes to have access to a Starship. Convincing a noble to sponsor your group's endeavors might be difficult (Typical Will Defense 20, must achieve Attitude of Helpful), but the result is usually a mutually beneficial relationship that can last an entire campaign. In exchange for a cash advance to buy a Starship, the noble asks the heroes to perform tasks until they repay the loan (Generally devoting about 1/2 the normal adventure rewards for this purpose). This situation can lead to a variety of adventure hooks: Perhaps the heroes need to escort a Senator to a dangerous planet, or they need to deliver precious cargo to refugees deep behind enemy lines at the behest of their benefactor.

Legitimate Financing Edit

As a general rule, Legitimate Financing (Such as through a bank) is available with a down payment of 20% of the Starship's cost, with monthly payments equal to 2% of the Starship's cost for the next five years. You can make a Persuasion check to Haggle and reduce the size of the down payment, treating the loan officer as Indifferent (Unfriendly for characters who have a criminal record).

Loan Sharks and Gangsters Edit

Less appealing but more interesting is the option of seeking out a loan shark and obtaining an under-the-table loan. Repayment terms are steep (Usually at least 10% of the Starship's value every month for three years), and missed payments can result in interest rate so high that the loan can never be repaid. If the hero's don't pay off the loan shark quickly enough, they might decide to send their thugs to rough up the heroes- or worse.

Shipjacking and Theft Edit

A fourth option for obtaining a vessel is to steal one from a legitimate owner, either before the campaign begins or as the objective of the heroes' first adventure. Shipjacking is an old profession in the Star Wars setting, and it is extremely dangerous. The authorities (And the original owners) are constantly on the lookout for stolen Starships, and if the heroes fail to properly falsify the documentation that identifies the ship as theirs, they could find themselves the subjects of a rather uncomfortable investigation.

Record-Keeping vs. Upkeep Edit

The Saga Edition Core Rulebook gives basic costs for upkeep on a personal basis (See Equipment). These costs can be applied to Starships and also serve as a simple way of keeping track of such expenses instead of the more detailed methods described below (See: Docking, Fuel, and Maintenance). Generally, a Starship of Colossal or smaller size can be maintained in working condition (Including Fuel, Maintenance, Docking, and Astrogation Updates) by any character with at least Comfortable Upkeep (2000 credits per month) instead of maintaining a residence. If you don't own your Starship and still make payments for it, the minimum Upkeep required is Wealthy (5000 credits per month) for at least five years.

Similarly, the licensing and registration for a Starship can be abstracted by the normal rules for purchasing a Restricted item, assuming that any Black Market purchase also includes appropriate forged documents.

Permits and Licenses Edit

All Starship owners and operators are required to have at least three different pieces of registration aboard their ships at all times, each of which is obtained through the Bureau of Ships and Services, or BoSS (See below).

  • Captain's Accredited License: Certifies that the captain is capable of piloting and operating the Starship.
    • Cost: 200 credits
    • Requirements: DC 15 Pilot check, 10 years of Starship experience (Any character who takes the Spacehound Talent at 1st level automatically qualifies); experience requirement can be waived for additional "Expediter Fee" of 300 credits.
    • Time: 1 day
  • Ship's Operating License: Tracks the ship's make, manufacturer, port of origin, Transponder Codes, and owner.
  • Arms Load-Out Permit: Registers the ship's weapons.

Though these registrations are required by law, many Starship captains operating on the fringes of society forge these documents to hide the ship's true identity (Or their own). Forging BoSS documents requires a Deception check, counting as both a Deceptive Appearance (To produce a BoSS-secure Datapad that seems authentic) and Deceptive Information (To create plausible ship records). However, such forgeries won't appear in the BoSS computer system, so they will not survive close scrutiny.

Transponder Codes Edit

Every Starship has a Transponder Code, a unique signal that allows that ship to be distinguished from any other. If you look up a specific Transponder Code in a BoSS database, you can find the ship's name, type, Starship Modifications and armament, owner, and even history (Including the time of its arrival and departure from every legitimate spaceport in the galaxy).

A ship's Transponder Code is built into the ship's sublight engines, so any attempt to remove or alter the code can fuse the wiring and destroy the engine. Some smugglers and pirates have been known to mask their transponder signal to preserve anonymity, but most governments will attempt to capture or destroy such a ship immediately. Instead, many criminals and others operating outside the law will tamper with their transponder to broadcast false Transponder Codes. Though highly illegal, altering a Transponder Code will allow a ship to identify itself by another name (See Altering Transponder Codes).

IFF Transponders Edit

Military ships also broadcast a unique transponder code that identifies the ship by its type, designation, and allegiance. These Identify Friend/Foe (IFF) Transponders are separate from the transponders built into Starship engines, and they are not included on civilian Starships.

Used Starships Edit

Owning and operating a used Starship can be a risky business. Though Used Starships are cheaper and easier to get hold of, they often develop their own unique quirks that prevent them from operating at full capacity. Whenever a Used Starship moves -3 steps on the Condition Track (To the point where the vessel is taking a -5 penalty on attack rolls, Skill and Ability Checks, and Defenses) or lower, the used ship's Condition becomes Persistent. Until the ship receives repairs (Using the Repair Object application of the Mechanics Skill), it cannot move up the Condition Track by means of the Reroute Power Action (Although other means, such as Jury-Rigging, can still be used).

The Bureau of Ships and Services (BoSS) Edit

One of the oldest and most eccentric organizations in the galaxy, the Bureau of Ships and Services is the galactic agency responsible for managing the data related to the massive number of Starships flying through the galaxy at any time. An independent organization maintaining neutrality in all galactic conflicts, the BoSS has survived for thousands of years, continuing to compile Starship data in it's arcane record-keeping system.

Information on a ship's Licenses, Certifications, and Transponder Codes is kept on file at the BoSS at all times. This data is distributed to local spaceports upon request, but it is very expensive; as a result, most small spaceports (Such as Mos Eisley) purchase an update only once or twice a year, making such locales a natural haven for smugglers, pirates, and other who would like to outrun their criminal records.

The security on BoSS computer systems is very tight (Will Defense 25, Hostile), making it almost impossible to add, edit, or remove records in the BoSS database without the proper access codes.

Travel in Realspace Edit

All Starships have sublight drives to propel them through space, using them when taking off, landing, or flying within a star system. Starships also have ion drives capable of incredible acceleration (Thousands of times the force of gravity) due to a combination of exceptional thrust and manipulation of the Starship's mass relative to that of it's exhaust. In addition, repulsorlift drives are preferred for delicate maneuvering during takeoff and landing; in fact, the mass manipulation that makes ion drives so efficient in deep space is markedly less efficient in atmosphere, so almost all Starships use both drives in conjunction during atmospheric flight, particularly when near the surface of a planet.

You can use the following guidelines to determine travel time in Realspace for an average Starship:

DISTANCE TIME REQUIRED
Surface of Planet to Orbit 1-5 Minutes
Orbit to safe Hyperspace Jump Distance 1 Minute
Planetary Orbit to Planet's Moon 10-30 Minutes
Planetary Orbit to another Planet in the same System 2-6 Hours
Planetary Orbit to outer edge of System 12-24 Hours

Travel in Hyperspace Edit

See also: Otherspace

The only way to span the long distances between star systems is to travel through Hyperspace. Hyperspace is described by many scientists as another dimension, though it's true nature is still a mystery. When a Starship's Hyperdrive activates, the vessel accelerates well beyond the speed of light as it enters Hyperspace. A Starship in Hyperspace is effectively cut off from communication with Starships in Realspace. For the duration of a trip through Hyperspace, a Starship effectively does not exist in Realspace.

Large objects that generate substantial gravity, such as stars and planets, produce what is known as a "Mass Shadow" that projects into the realm of Hyperspace, and one of these Mass Shadows can destroy a Starship that collides with it. As a result, a Starship's course through Hyperspace must be plotted carefully. All hyperdrives have built-in safeguards that prevent a ship from entering Hyperspace too close to a Mass Shadow and cause a ship to revert to Realspace if a Mass Shadow is detected in time. Ultimately, this situation led to the rise of interdictor vessels and other technologies designed to keep ships from fleeing into Hyperspace. Interdiction vessels use gravity well generators to keep other ships from activating their hyperdrives, and some pirates have been known to drag massive asteroids into well-traveled Hyperspace lanes in order to bring prey out of Hyperspace.

Detecting Hyperspace Travel Edit

When a Starship enters or exits Hyperspace, it produces a short burst of Cronau radiation. Any Starship, Space Station, or sensor array within the same Star System can detect a Cronau radiation burst with a DC 25 Use Computer check made as a Reaction. Success indicates that the sensor operator detects the ship entering or exiting Hyperspace, and is aware of it's point of arrival or departure. Tracking a ship through Hyperspace also relies on the presence of residual Cronau radiation.

Taking a Full-Round Action to make a DC 25 Use Computer check measures the amount of Cronau radiation as well as the angle of departure of the vessel fleeing into Hyperspace, indicating the most likely destination. Cronau radiation lingers for several hours after a ship has fled into Hyperspace, though each hour since the ship made the jump to lightspeed increases the DC of the Use Computer check by 5.

Astrogation Edit

See also: Astrogation, New Worlds, New Hazards

Plotting a suitable Hyperspace course requires incredible difficult calculations; normally, only a character Trained in the Use Computer Skill can calculate a jump to Hyperspace. However, the use of a Navicomputer not only grants a bonus on the Use Computer check but also allows an Untrained character to plot a course to Hyperspace. Some small Starfighters, having no room for a Navicomputer, instead use Astromech Droids programmed with a finite number of jumps to provide a Hyperspace course.

The difficulty of plotting a course through Hyperspace is determined by how recently you have updated your Astrogation data, as shown on the table below.

ASTROGATION DC AGE OF ASTROGATION DATA
10 Less than 1 day
15 At least 1 day, but less than 1 standard week (5 days)
20 At least 1 week, but less than 1 standard month (35 days)
25 At least 1 month, but less than 1 standard year (368 days)
30 At least 1 year
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