In Traveller5’s (T5) character generation system, in the Acquired Secrets section (Book 1, Page 95) some player careers can gain a Ship Share marked ‘Special’. There is no other in-the-rules reference to this, or to what this allows. Some few may consider this as an oversight. But this is really a referee’s cue to Adventure! – or at least a way to keep the players happier and interested in the game.
When players acquire a ship via their accumulated Ship Shares (in character generation) the vessels acquired are usually ‘rather bland’: stock vessels which are old and worn, with only the most basic of fittings installed, and almost always unarmed. Sure, It’s A Ship, but it usually has problems, and doesn’t have the cool features which players (and, admittedly, referees) want. To keep them interested and/or happier, it may help to sketch out some ideas, list some options.
I came up with the following list. While there is no way this is list complete (I don’t believe that is possible), it should provide a decent starting point, and may spur other ideas.
As to selecting from them, you could assign the options to a table, and roll, have the players choose what they want, or assign one to them (as your campaign may require).
Here is my list. Feel free to use, abuse, modify, or ignore it as you need or like. As always, feel free to add a comment, or another option.
Thank You for reading, and Keep On Travelling!
Most ships acquired by players at the start of a campaign are unarmed. This option allows the players to acquire a ship which is armed. If the ship is normally armed it may have improved weapons. Pop-up turrets may also be an option.
In most cases this option will not allow the ship to carry illegal weapons; however players with access to the proper licenses might have these available, at referee discretion.
For player groups with limited ship shares, the Referee may allow this option, permitting them enough shares to gain full ownership of a vessel. This could be allowed for any number of reasons: campaign need, or a desire to avoid/ignore ship payments, are the first reasons which come to mind.
Higher Construction Tech Level
The ship was constucted at a higher tech level than normally available in the region, or for the ship class. This will (in the T5 rules) allow for more efficient drives and sensors, better than the basic ship, anyway. A small, but perhaps significant, advantage for the players.
The ship has upgraded drives, for instance, a fat trader with J2 drives. This option includes a ‘free’ upgrade to the power plant, as the upgrade is useless without increasing the power plant.
This option greatly reduces cargo. But many players aren’t playing to be merchants, or will adjust, as their travel and campaign options are improved.
Most ships have basic or limited sensors. This option gives the ship upgraded (but not additional) sensors, to the TL limits of the vessel.
At the referee’s option, additional sensors, which aren’t normally associated with the ship class, may be added.
The ship is not 40+ years old. Perhaps it was recently repossessed by the bank, was confiscated after being caught smuggling, or was paid off early. The referee sets the actual ship age, but usually not more than 20-25 years is suggested.
The ship has a secret smuggling compartment, or hidden cargo bay. (Millenium Falcon, or Serenity, come immediately to mind.)
This option is obviously well-hidden, otherwise it would have been found by the selling party and/or customs inspectors. This space shouldn’t be large; otherwise it’d be too easy to detect. At GM option there could be several spaces.
Upgraded Small Craft/Vehicle
For vessels with small craft/vehicles, it (or one of them) has been upgraded in some manner. Perhaps it is armed, or has been replaced by a higher TL or more efficient design. Optionally, the small craft was removed (sold), and a cargo bay, fuel pod, or some other option replaced it.
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