The big Starships seem oddly lightwieght...


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OK so the largest starships average in at shy of 3 miles long but are only about 8000 tons?

By way of real world comparisons, the newest US carrier the Gerald Ford is only 1,092 feet long and it displaces more than 100,000 tons.

Has lightweight super materials really gotten that good or are there some 0's missing in that chart? :-)


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Yeah, the ships are literally lighter than air, this was noticed almost as soon as the PDFs dropped.


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"Average in at shy of 3 miles long" is incorrect; they are *at least* 2.84 miles long.

They also have terribly low crew sizes of 125-500, which means that living in such a ship is tantamount to being in a steel desert.


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Does it matter mechanically?

If not, make some more believable numbers and go with it.


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Big ships consist mainly of massive vacuum chambers wrapped in ultra-thin mithral sheets; this bulk is on average lighter than hydrogen.

The sole purpose of these sections is to hide the actual ship components so enemies firing on the ship will waste their ammo shooting at empty compartments.

Grand Lodge

Just add two zero's as a houserule. Doesn't affect much. :)


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Since Gilfalas' thread is the one that took off, I'm going to add my question here and delete my thread:

nowa wrote:

Something seems seriously wrong with Starship scaling at larger sizes, and the stated tonnage and crew complements.

Page 294 has a STARSHIP SCALE table that covers the expected Size, Length, and Weight of Starfinder Starships. This table, when compared to real-world ships just doesn't make any sense.

- Taking "Gargantuan" for this example, and their max stats: 15,000ft long and 8,000 tons, and the largest example ship provided (Battleship) with a maximum crew of 300.
- Compare that against an Arleigh Burke class destroyer which has comparable tonnage (actually closer to 9,000) and the same crew of 300.
- Silhouette comparison (SF Battleship in Black, US Destroyer in Red): http://imgur.com/a/4AKiL

The Arleigh Burke has a length of 500ft which is 3% of the Starfinder Battleship, yet they weigh the same and have the same crew size?

Can someone explain this? Is this a typo in the book where the designer forgot to cube the tonnage?

Why such a small crew complement for such an enormous ship? Even with automation this doesn't make sense.

Looks like two zeroes need to be added to both tonnage and crew sizes for the high-end of ships.

Grand Lodge

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nowa wrote:
Looks like two zeroes need to be added to both tonnage and crew sizes for the high-end of ships.

If you mean by Crew size, i'd say it's just the minimum required and that the max is x10?


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nowa wrote:
- Silhouette comparison (SF Battleship in Black, US Destroyer in Red): http://imgur.com/a/4AKiL

See that right there is what I am talking about. GREAT comparison nowa!

I am almost wondering now if this actually is a type and should be noted in the appropriate thread if it is not already there.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Colette Brunel wrote:


They also have terribly low crew sizes of 125-500, which means that living in such a ship is tantamount to being in a steel desert.

That's not too weird, actually. The Knock Nevis, the longest ship ever built, only had a crew of forty.

Silver Crusade

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In fairness, this is just the writers accurately recreating a trope of the genre. Almost all TV and movie versions of Science Fiction use numbers that are off by WAY more than just 2 orders of magnitude.

Or just totally meaningless. 1 to the 4 power and Kessel Run in 4 Parsecs leaping to mind.


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We are talking about a game in which you can have literally magical laser guns being wielded by an actual space wizard flying a ship built from adamantine firing weapons forged of cold iron using computer parts with mithral wiring that is about to travel at FTL speeds by opening a portal to another plane of existence and tunneling through, and we are really concerned that the weight isn't up to standard.

That said, spaceships, by design, need to be lighter weight. If a capital ship weighs several hundred thousand tons, it's going to be a nightmare to fly. I imagine they're deliberately designed to be lightweight in order to properly navigate in a vacuum, and considering the notes above, I don't imagine they'd have difficulty doing so. Starship parts are apparently ungodly expensive, based on both the book and the developers, which is why you buy them with BP instead of credits. Part of that expense may have something to do with using exotic metals.

But also as mentioned, starship weight (and even area, to an extent) plays no role in anything mechanically. You could say it weighs a hundred million tons and that would have no bearing on play. Weigh it what you like, the weights provided are examples.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Well, in the imperial measuring system, there are several different "ton" units (see here). Who knows, maybe the ton used here is something entirely different. :)


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They just forgot to apply the square-cube law to ship, despite years of success in applying it to big monster height/weight numbers.


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Ok, so some fun and simple math:

3 miles of ship (assuming square miles) is roughly 15 acres per person. That's a lot of space!

Multiply the crew by 100 (12,500 crew members) and you're looking at a crew-member per average size house). It seems a lot more reasonable.

BUT!!!

What if the game doesn't include robots when determining the number of crew members required?

So that 125 person crew could run the entire ship if robots controlled a lot of the rest. Which made me imagine that a censes worker wrote the statistics, and when they counted the population of the ship, that didn't count androids as "real people."


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They probably shouldn't have even bothered with a number for the mass of such a ship. If a starship can exert fine grained control over the curvature of space time around itself, as ships with force fields, tractor beams, and artificial gravity most certainly can, then mass is only relevant in the edge case of the ship loosing power, or becoming damaged (and then only if we really needed to think about it).

Note that the crew size does not include the crew of the fleets of fighters, gunships, and dropships that a 3 mile long starship could carry, nor does it include the armies of space marines, colonists, mecha pilots, etc..

Also note that if a 3 mile long space ship did not carry city sized populations of colonists, armies of drop troopers, and/or fleets of fighter/gunships, the another reason to build such a thing would be so that it could transport some kind of massive doomsday weapon. Perhaps a massive superstructure is needed to create the containment field for the magazine of a singularity cannon.


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gigyas6 wrote:
We are talking about a game in which you can have literally magical laser guns being wielded by an actual space wizard flying a ship built from adamantine firing weapons forged of cold iron using computer parts with mithral wiring that is about to travel at FTL speeds by opening a portal to another plane of existence and tunneling through, and we are really concerned that the weight isn't up to standard.

Really concerned? No. Nothing about an RPG rises to the level of real concern.

But that is a really bad argument you've got there. Suspension of disbelief works precisely because the fantastic is surrounded by the mundane. It is the contrast which lends credence to the fantastic elements. Unrealistic elements with no apparent rationale just serve to make everything else less believable.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Pawns, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

This is a known bug and will be fixed in a future printing (probably one coming pretty quickly, based on how fast the AP and Flip-mat are selling). We'll get better numbers soon enough.


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We're talking about spaceships...they all weigh nothing. ;-)


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bugleyman wrote:
We're talking about spaceships...they all weigh nothing. ;-)

So.. it's the weight on the moon?


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To address bugleyman's point of suspension of disbelief:

In his Revelation Space books, Alastair Reynolds writes of "lighthuggers", massive starships approaching high percentages of C, and crewed by less than a dozen individuals. Reynolds makes it work with a strong degree of automation and crews of cyborgs, plus he uses the speed of light as an absolute. IMHO, his world building works because he blends his fantastic and familiar in a particular way.

An example IMHO where the familiar begins to not work is in Star Trek. Enterprise-D is crewed by a thousand people, which would make sense for a big ship. But what do they all do all day? It's always the same twelve people actually doing stuff. Chief O'Brien hangs out in the transporter room waiting for someone to beam out? That guy in the brig just stands behind a panel and likes it?

The bottom line is this: if the story (or adventure path or campaign) is engaging and entertaining, the storyteller will find a way to make these details work to strengthen her story, or decide these details really don't matter and find a way to work without.


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This thread might be of use: Starship Length, Volume and Mass


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Is there a width given for these three-mile-long ships? Square-cube laws only apply if things get bigger in all dimensions. What if the ship is only 5 feet wide?


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Is there a width given for these three-mile-long ships? Square-cube laws only apply if things get bigger in all dimensions. What if the ship is only 5 feet wide?

They don't look 5' wide.

nowa wrote:
- Silhouette comparison (SF Battleship in Black, US Destroyer in Red): http://imgur.com/a/4AKiL


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It only looks like that because of Lorentz Contraction. Everyone knows objects get shorter when travelling at near light speed, so you need to start with a really long thin ship if you don't want to look like a pancake when travelling fast.


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That's potentially only true from the perspective of an outside observer, with a Lorentz transformation meaning the ship itself doesn't alter at all.


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gigyas6 wrote:

We are talking about a game in which you can have literally magical laser guns being wielded by an actual space wizard flying a ship built from adamantine firing weapons forged of cold iron using computer parts with mithral wiring that is about to travel at FTL speeds by opening a portal to another plane of existence and tunneling through, and we are really concerned that the weight isn't up to standard.

That said, spaceships, by design, need to be lighter weight. If a capital ship weighs several hundred thousand tons, it's going to be a nightmare to fly. I imagine they're deliberately designed to be lightweight in order to properly navigate in a vacuum, and considering the notes above, I don't imagine they'd have difficulty doing so. Starship parts are apparently ungodly expensive, based on both the book and the developers, which is why you buy them with BP instead of credits. Part of that expense may have something to do with using exotic metals.

But also as mentioned, starship weight (and even area, to an extent) plays no role in anything mechanically. You could say it weighs a hundred million tons and that would have no bearing on play. Weigh it what you like, the weights provided are examples.

The weight of these ships is actually very important if they are this light. If they are lighter than air, that means it is literally impossible to land (or crash!) the ship on a planet with an atmosphere without a huge amount of effort... because the ship will float instead of falling once it reaches a certain depth in the atmosphere!

Another reason why the weight is important is because it determines whether or not you can wipe out all life on a planet by crashing a ship into it. At high speeds, a capital ship may as well be an asteroid if it has the same mass as one.


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Matrix Dragon wrote:
gigyas6 wrote:

We are talking about a game in which you can have literally magical laser guns being wielded by an actual space wizard flying a ship built from adamantine firing weapons forged of cold iron using computer parts with mithral wiring that is about to travel at FTL speeds by opening a portal to another plane of existence and tunneling through, and we are really concerned that the weight isn't up to standard.

That said, spaceships, by design, need to be lighter weight. If a capital ship weighs several hundred thousand tons, it's going to be a nightmare to fly. I imagine they're deliberately designed to be lightweight in order to properly navigate in a vacuum, and considering the notes above, I don't imagine they'd have difficulty doing so. Starship parts are apparently ungodly expensive, based on both the book and the developers, which is why you buy them with BP instead of credits. Part of that expense may have something to do with using exotic metals.

But also as mentioned, starship weight (and even area, to an extent) plays no role in anything mechanically. You could say it weighs a hundred million tons and that would have no bearing on play. Weigh it what you like, the weights provided are examples.

The weight of these ships is actually very important if they are this light. If they are lighter than air, that means it is literally impossible to land (or crash!) the ship on a planet with an atmosphere without a huge amount of effort... because the ship will float instead of falling once it reaches a certain depth in the atmosphere!

Another reason why the weight is important is because it determines whether or not you can wipe out all life on a planet by crashing a ship into it. At high speeds, a capital ship may as well be an asteroid if it has the same mass as one.

Pretty sure any rules they make up about crashing a vehicle like that won't involve ending all life on a planet, if they even do them at all.


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Sauce987654321 wrote:
Pretty sure any rules they make up about crashing a vehicle like that won't involve ending all life on a planet, if they even do them at all.

For the larger ships, this would mess with my suspension of disbelief just a little...

Then again, I'm one of those people who wonders why they would bother building the Death Star in Star Wars. Crashing small objects into planets at near light speeds (say, right when they exit hyperdrive) would work just as well as the giant laser while being much cheaper, lol!


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Matrix Dragon wrote:
Sauce987654321 wrote:
Pretty sure any rules they make up about crashing a vehicle like that won't involve ending all life on a planet, if they even do them at all.

For the larger ships, this would mess with my suspension of disbelief just a little...

Then again, I'm one of those people who wonders why they would bother building the Death Star in Star Wars. Crashing small objects into planets at near light speeds (say, right when they exit hyperdrive) would work just as well as the giant laser while being much cheaper, lol!

Well, that's because the Empire wanted a symbol as much as anything. After all, the Tarquin doctrine dictated that a show of force and threat of complete annihilation would be even more effective than simply killing all their foes. And the Death Star was built to be a show of power as much as it was an ultimate weapon. Space debris just doesn't have the same impact (so to speak). Plus, it served as a massive, portable military base and command vessel.


Further, movie (and RPG) writers tend not to be physicists.

That sort of thing extends to why its a pain in the rear to play with actual physicists who have a munchkin mindset.


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Matrix Dragon wrote:
Sauce987654321 wrote:
Pretty sure any rules they make up about crashing a vehicle like that won't involve ending all life on a planet, if they even do them at all.

For the larger ships, this would mess with my suspension of disbelief just a little...

Then again, I'm one of those people who wonders why they would bother building the Death Star in Star Wars. Crashing small objects into planets at near light speeds (say, right when they exit hyperdrive) would work just as well as the giant laser while being much cheaper, lol!

At just subluminal speeds, you won't need a capital ship to devastate a planet. A 1 metric ton shuttle with enough shielding to punch through the atmosphere will deliver a blow to wipe out an entire planet.

That's the problem with building a very high tech (dare I say magi-tech?) game on the 3.PF TTRPG base. Even low level characters are insanely powerful, in certain respects.


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Tarik Blackhands wrote:

Further, movie (and RPG) writers tend not to be physicists.

That sort of thing extends to why its a pain in the rear to play with actual physicists who have a munchkin mindset.

Mark Seifter said that many of his playtesters were physicists and is genuinely confused as to how the book got ship mass wrong when it got so much physics right due to their feedback.


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Quark Blast wrote:

At just subluminal speeds, you won't need a capital ship to devastate a planet. A 1 metric ton shuttle with enough shielding to punch through the atmosphere will deliver a blow to wipe out an entire planet.

That's the problem with building a very high tech (dare I say magi-tech?) game on the 3.PF TTRPG base. Even low level characters are insanely powerful, in certain respects.

Star Wars used to work around this by saying that ships using hyperdrive couldn't get close to objects with large gravity wells without exploding. That kind of got thrown out the window with Episode 7 after Han's jump into a planet's atmosphere though. When he did that, my immediate reaction was "That ship should have exploded and caused a fireball that killed everyone on Starkill Base, just from moving that fast in the atmosphere!". J. J. Abram's tendency to ignore physics has always driven me crazy.

Admitted though, I am not a physicist. I learned most of what I know about near-light speeds in atmospheres from xkcd's amazing What If? section.

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

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It's mostly fuel tank, and that's the empty/dry mass?


If the FTL works by plane shifting without going relativistic in normal space, then it might not need to have that much power. It would also need a lot less cosmic ray and debris shielding.

However, any spaceship that can visit multiple planets in a few weeks can almost certainly be used as a potent weapon of mass destruction, if not necessarily a one-shot planet killer.


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IonutRO wrote:
Tarik Blackhands wrote:

Further, movie (and RPG) writers tend not to be physicists.

That sort of thing extends to why its a pain in the rear to play with actual physicists who have a munchkin mindset.

Mark Seifter said that many of his playtesters were physicists and is genuinely confused as to how the book got ship mass wrong when it got so much physics right due to their feedback.

Well obviously they should have hired those physicists for the editting crew and not playtesting :p


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https://youtu.be/FfK7hp6PgMM

Ask and you shall receive.


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Matrix Dragon wrote:
Another reason why the weight is important is because it determines whether or not you can wipe out all life on a planet by crashing a ship into it. At high speeds, a capital ship may as well be an asteroid if it has the same mass as one.

Standard ship tech does not get close to superluminal speed in SF. Even inter planetary travel in the same system averages about 3.5 days with assumed level of thruster tech from the Ship rules.

Ross Byers wrote:
It's mostly fuel tank, and that's the empty/dry mass?

One of the REALLY interesting things I only noticed today: Fuel/power sources are not even mentioned with regards to starships and their engines/power cores.

As far as I can tell they have solved infinite energy generation. :-)


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gigyas6 wrote:

We are talking about a game in which you can have literally magical laser guns being wielded by an actual space wizard flying a ship built from adamantine firing weapons forged of cold iron using computer parts with mithral wiring that is about to travel at FTL speeds by opening a portal to another plane of existence and tunneling through, and we are really concerned that the weight isn't up to standard.

That said, spaceships, by design, need to be lighter weight.

It's not a problem about them being too light. It's a problem about them being lighter than air. Litterally, a ship that was made of nothing, just pure void, will weight more than that just because of the air inside of it, judging by the math made by some forumites a while back.

It's a minor concern, it doesn't affect the rest of the rules, and you can add 2 zeros (or three, for the biggest ones) and be done with it. But it's certainly a bit shocking.


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
It's not a problem about them being too light. It's a problem about them being lighter than air.

Not satisfied with the silly explanations I've already suggested?

How about: Ships are fitted with mass inhibitors. These reduce the mass of a ship to make it easier to accelerate and to prevent it from causing too much damage if they crash into a planet.

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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Colette Brunel wrote:
They also have terribly low crew sizes of 125-500, which means that living in such a ship is tantamount to being in a steel desert.

I took a closer look at the rules on this (see page 293). The Minimum and Maximum Crew numbers are "the minimum and maximum number of characters who can take actions on that vessel during starship combat."

Those numbers don't represent the total number of people on that kind of ship. The total crew size is listed in the Complement statistic, which isn't used in any of the ship statblocks.

Grand Lodge

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Paris Crenshaw wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
They also have terribly low crew sizes of 125-500, which means that living in such a ship is tantamount to being in a steel desert.

I took a closer look at the rules on this (see page 293). The Minimum and Maximum Crew numbers are "the minimum and maximum number of characters who can take actions on that vessel during starship combat."

Those numbers don't represent the total number of people on that kind of ship. The total crew size is listed in the Complement statistic, which isn't used in any of the ship statblocks.

I thought that at first as well, but in most example ships the Complement number is the exact amount of officers+crew in the CREW section.


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Gilfalas wrote:

OK so the largest starships average in at shy of 3 miles long but are only about 8000 tons?

By way of real world comparisons, the newest US carrier the Gerald Ford is only 1,092 feet long and it displaces more than 100,000 tons.

Has lightweight super materials really gotten that good or are there some 0's missing in that chart? :-)

Easy, weight depends on gravity. Clearly those are Starfinder tons, not Earth tons.

Did you just assume my gravity?

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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Varun Creed wrote:
Paris Crenshaw wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
They also have terribly low crew sizes of 125-500, which means that living in such a ship is tantamount to being in a steel desert.

I took a closer look at the rules on this (see page 293). The Minimum and Maximum Crew numbers are "the minimum and maximum number of characters who can take actions on that vessel during starship combat."

Those numbers don't represent the total number of people on that kind of ship. The total crew size is listed in the Complement statistic, which isn't used in any of the ship statblocks.

I thought that at first as well, but in most example ships the Complement number is the exact amount of officers+crew in the CREW section.

I see what you're saying. I should have read the whole chapter before I commented. I thought I was onto something, but I was only looking at the base frames. I still have some more reading to do. :/


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For the crew sizes, I imagine a lot of it is automated. Still that's a lot of space for a few people.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
It's not a problem about them being too light. It's a problem about them being lighter than air.

Not satisfied with the silly explanations I've already suggested?

How about: Ships are fitted with mass inhibitors. These reduce the mass of a ship to make it easier to accelerate and to prevent it from causing too much damage if they crash into a planet.

This actually would work nice for a Mass Effect rip-off


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Gilfalas wrote:
Matrix Dragon wrote:
Another reason why the weight is important is because it determines whether or not you can wipe out all life on a planet by crashing a ship into it. At high speeds, a capital ship may as well be an asteroid if it has the same mass as one.

Standard ship tech does not get close to superluminal speed in SF. Even inter planetary travel in the same system averages about 3.5 days with assumed level of thruster tech from the Ship rules.

A starship that is 3 miles long doesn't need to be going at superluminal speeds to destroy the surface of a planet. The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs was supposedly only 6 miles across. The starships can probably go a lot faster than an asteroid, so whether or not they can wipe out a planet depends on their mass to speed ratio when compared to an asteroid. It doesn't take superluminal speeds to destroy a planet, just something going fast enough with enough mass.

This is kind of important plot point, because it means if some terrorist organization hijacked a capital ship they could kill a lot of people by ramming it into a planet at full speed.... but in order to know how bad this would be (city wiped out, or planet wiped out), we need to know what the ship's mass is :)

Liberty's Edge Contributor

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Paris Crenshaw wrote:
Varun Creed wrote:
Paris Crenshaw wrote:
Colette Brunel wrote:
They also have terribly low crew sizes of 125-500, which means that living in such a ship is tantamount to being in a steel desert.

I took a closer look at the rules on this (see page 293). The Minimum and Maximum Crew numbers are "the minimum and maximum number of characters who can take actions on that vessel during starship combat."

Those numbers don't represent the total number of people on that kind of ship. The total crew size is listed in the Complement statistic, which isn't used in any of the ship statblocks.

I thought that at first as well, but in most example ships the Complement number is the exact amount of officers+crew in the CREW section.

I see what you're saying. I should have read the whole chapter before I commented. I thought I was onto something, but I was only looking at the base frames. I still have some more reading to do. :/

Okay. I think I've figured it out.

In the Crew section of a ship's statblock, the number listed after each officer role is "the number of crew members required to assist a single officer who wants to attempt a check in that role." In other words, for the Thaumtech Omenbringer, a separate crew of 35 to support each engineer's action in a single round of combat.

So, although the definition of "complement" on page 293 says that it is "the total size of the crew aboard that ship," I think what they mean is that it's the total size of the crew that contributes to starship combat. This makes sense in terms of modern naval warfare.

When a modern ship engages in combat, not every crew member is doing something all the time. There are key command and control positions and there are personnel assigned to carry out functions in support of those positions, but there is a significant number of personnel who are assigned to tasks that aren't related to direct combat (like damage control or medical personnel). In the case of ships that are designed for exploration, you're also going to have a whole bunch of people who aren't able to contribute to a space battle in any way at all.

On smaller starships, like the ones PCs will use, the crew complement and the total number of shipboard personnel is going to be almost the same. But for larger ships, especially military vessels, I would say that the statblock doesn't actually provide a specific number for how many people are onboard.


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Mike Lindner wrote:

Easy, weight depends on gravity. Clearly those are Starfinder tons, not Earth tons.

Did you just assume my gravity?

In the setting section they state that the Pact Workds use a golarion standard for Gravity. They also state the Golarion has the same exact gravity as Earth.

Something to think about. ;-)

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