Traveller 5: Cheapest possible ship.

The QREBS system has some weirdness to it. This, plus some down right strange rules makes for some odd ship designs

I’m making the cheapest possible ship that can, in theory, land on a planet with an atmosphere and not be totally defenseless.

Mission:Commerce:Merchant:Unscheduled:Cargo. That gives it an ID code of A. I’m adding the modifier of L for Light. Design Tech Level 13 (D)

Hull: 100 dTon Planetoid 1 Mcr. However… I’m making it Organic, with out the lifter installed.That cuts the cost to (1.0/2) -0.5 or in other words, free.

Jump Field. Jump Bubble. No cost.

Armor. Armor is free, takes up space, but the first layer doesn’t. Organic has issue with heat, but there is a way around that.

Armor, 1st layer – Base AV is 6 , Anti-kinetic (value vs PEN is 1300) vs all other than heat and pressure is 65. Vs heat and pressure you get 6. By adding a “Reflec” coating you get a heat AV of 1300.

Drives. OK here is why it’s TL 13 and why QREBS is important.
Jump 2 takes TL-11. By making it in a TL-13 ship yard I get to use “Modified” drives. This is important because that does several thing.

  • Reduced drive cost by 1/2
  • Give a +2 mod to their use
  • Reduce drive dTons by 1/2
  • 110% efficiency
  • 90% fuel use.

So, Class A J-Drive, M-Drive and Power plant.

Drive dTon Mcr
Mod A M-Drive 1 1.0
Mod A J-Drive 5 2.5
Mod A Power Plant 2 0.5
Totals 8 4.0


Normally under T5 Rules this would need 20 dTons for Jump and 2 dTons for 1 month operation. But with Mod drives, that gets reduced to 18 and 1.8 dTons, resulting in a total fuel tank of 19.8 dTons.

Sensors and Comms
You get Comm-8, Radar-9 and Scope-9 for free, using 0 dTons.

Weapons and defenses This is a “Cheap Ship”, but I don’t want it to be total defenseless, so I’m putting in 3 SR Mod Y Triple turret Hybrid S-L-M on a firm point. By reducing the mount to SR, that makes it a 0.5 dTon turret (also costing 0.5 MCr) and by making it a Mod that raises it to TL-12 with a +2 mod and a weapon cost of 0.5 MCr. Total cost is 3.0 MCr and 1.5 dTons. A generic nuclear damper adds 1 ton as a bolt in defense and 0.5 MCr.


Control. Here is where life gets tricky. Need a control panel for each drive, sensor, weapon, defense or function, so that works out to 7 control panels, that feed into, logically a pilot’s console, an engineer’s console, a security console and a general console. Going with one shift, that makes crew 4. Consoles take 4 tons and cost a total of 0.8 MCr. Adding a 3bis computer adds 3 dTons and 14 MCr. Note that this is not really required, if and only if you always have 4 crew. with it the ship is more or less automatic. But a 3bis is a TL-11 design, so let’s make that a Mod 3bis, which knocks it down to 1.5 dTons and 7 MCr, plus makes it C+S 13 instead of 11.

Life support
Standard Life support, 1 dTon and 1 MCr
Shared Fresher 0.5 dTon and 0.5 MCr
Medical and Counselor console. 1.5 dTons and 0.7 MCr
Total space of 20 dTons of Commons area and Spacer Niches. This has 0 MCr cost. Note that if the crew is willing to risk sanity test this can be converted to up 19 more tons of cargo space.

Item dTons MCr
Engineering 8.0 4.0
Fuel 19.8 0
Sensors 0 0
Weapons & Defenses 2.5 ( with out weapons 0) 3.5 (with out weapons 0)
Control 5.5 (with out computer 4) 7.8 (with out computer 0.8)
Life Support 21 (using common space as cargo 3) 2.2
Cargo 41.7 (‘best case’ 65.2 ) 0
Totals 100 17 (fully stripped down 7)

QPS works out to AL-AP22-ACFT

About Mike Looney

A long time role player who rants quite a lot. I'm an aging, white, right of center, geeky, male, dyslexic, veteran, bipolar, sociopath with Asperger syndrome and a touch of PTSD that mutters. Most of my meds are to keep me from being a real sociopath.
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8 Responses to Traveller 5: Cheapest possible ship.

  1. Rob Eaglestone says:

    Thanks a lot for this! Mike, this is sweet.

    Note that Stage Effects are applied before the Mount is selected (p.301, Step B); so it’s going to still cost you 1 ton and MCr1 for that triple turret, and 1 ton @ MCr1 for that Bolt-In emplacement for your damper.

    Another reason you’ll want a TL13 hull is because that Bolt-In defense won’t help you at all unless you have a technological edge.

    I see a couple important items got dropped from the current draft; I’ll make sure they get back in there. For example, drives can’t be squeezed smaller than the lowest drive volume in the lists. So your M-drive is going to be 2 tons, J-drive 10 tons, and P-plant 4 tons. For now, though, enjoy cruising around in an amazingly cheap and spacious planetoid ship!

    • Mike Looney says:

      On the turret. I didn’t apply stage effects to reduce the size, but changed the space range (step D of page 301) to reduce the size. That’s why it fits in a firm-point. They are primarily there for AB and AM defense.

      On the nuclear damper, it’s Generic, not Mod, so all I got was a cost drop, not a size drop. The “How Screen Work” chapter doesn’t make it clear that the TL matters as a defense WRT to the ND, it just says it stops nukes. I can see your point however.

      I suspected that the “make drives real small” was loophole abuse. Still doesn’t effect the price.

      • Robert Eaglestone says:

        Cheers Mike, I spaced on the Range Effect change. That’s valid. Similarly Generic damper.

        “How Screens Work” does lack combat details… TL is a modifier for defenses, which are flat 1D tasks with a target # based on emplacement. Since your emplacement is a Bolt-In, its target number is… zero. However, if I recall right, TL is a modifier, so a TL11 attack makes your damper’s TN a 2 or less: a 33% chance of blocking.

        The starship combat section holds the gotcha. But it feels a little squirrely to me to not warn people ahead of time of side effects. So something should be said in the “How Defenses Work” chapter on how important it is to consider both emplacement and TL when choosing defenses.

        And “make drives real small” is NOT loophole abuse at all, unless the rules say so. And the current draft does not say so. So your design was valid — but it’s not a desired outcome, so that’ll have to change (as might the free planetoid hull).

  2. Mike Looney says:

    For what it’s worth, the rules do mention that TL stage “round against advantage”, so if the size of the drive was an odd number, like say 5, you get 3 dTons, not 2.5 dTons.

  3. Mike Looney says:

    The key to making real cheap ships, at least with the current rules, is organic hulls cost half price, default sensors are free and make everything TL +2 so you can get the “Modified” version of the end item. That and the fact that crew space is free, assuming you use “niches” and “common space” instead of staterooms.

  4. Craig A. Glesner says:

    Greetings, Mike.

    I have a question for you. How is it you said you were starting with a Planetiod Hull, but then went to Organic? It should be Planetiod is a FeN Asteriod, so not Organic. It is (Planetiod) basically a hollowed out rock with tech added. Organic is grown, at least somewhere either still living or coral-type dead shell.

    Also, might want to edit the text to point out the weapon is a Firmpoint and only useful for AM/AB Vehicle scaled threats.

    Otherwise nice and cheap. Which is what you were going for so, congrats.


  5. Mike Looney says:

    Chart 6 D, on page 290 shows the a P configuration hull is a legal option for an organic type hull. Armor is based on type, not configuration.

    Also a firm point sized weapon is effective against full sized threats, just at a closer range (Space 5 vs Space 7 ranges). See chart 17 D on page 301. Regardless they are there primarily as AB/AM defense systems anyway.

    Pages numbers based on the current 5.09 PDF.

  6. Craig A. Glesner says:

    Well, damn. That sounds like Errata to me then.

    On the other hand as a follower of St. Timmii the Expoiter wicked nice exploits, sir.

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