This article requires the Savage Worlds Science Fiction Companion (SFC) and Savage Worlds Deluxe (SWD) by Pinnacle Entertainment Group.
This article is intended to provide more defined methods of dealing with starships. Where possible I have done the math for you. Additionally, these rules offer more hooks to build stories on.
The SFC does not give a system for starship ownership beyond recommending a Medium size ship with $2M of Mods and an FTL drive (total $23M) or a light freighter ($23.53M). No discussion of who actually owns the
ship the degree on control the PCs have etc. I suspect this is because the answer to these questions varies greatly between settings and table preferences. In some settings your employer might provide a ship or the PCs might own a ship by referee fiat.
For a Star Wars, Firefly, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Traveller style setting where an individual or small group can just afford a ship try the following new Edges. These Edges provide ‘shares’ with a $ value to be spent on a ship. All these edges can be taken multiple times and even shares from different Edges and characters combined into one or more vessels. A character that spends two Edges can just barely afford a Small FTL ship of their own by taking the loan shark or stolen option.
Ship Share Outright
You have a $2.5M share in the ownership of a ship no strings attached.
Ship Share, Stolen
You have a $7.5M to ‘spend’ on a ship however this represents a stolen ship or one where you stopped making loan repayments to one of your creditors well before the game begins. You don’t make repayments on this share. However, you have a Major Enemy Hindrance. Decide whether this is a powerful interstellar bank or criminal organization. See Legal loan and Loan Shark below for descriptions of these enemies.
Ship Share, Legal Loan
You have a $5M share in a ship but this is a loan. Your financial institution will only loan money if there is a method of repayment, for this reason at least 1/6 (round down) of a ship’s mods must be ‘empty’ at the time of purchase to be used as cargo space or the ship must have a superstructure (any kind).
For simplicity we will assume that interest, depreciation, taxes etc all add another 8% or so. Your minimum repayments are $15000 per month for 40 years (Total $5.4M). Payments can be made at any major world, or electronically if the setting has an interstellar internet. Failure to make payments usually results in penalty fines but this rapidly escalates. After a few months of no payment you earn a Major Enemy Hindrance, an interstellar bank able to exert its influence through most if not all of known space. The bank wont do anything illegal in the setting but depending on the setting consequences may include: seizing your assets, smashing your credit rating, attempts to capture and repossess the ship, debtor’s prison, and even execution. Worse still as well as its own agents the bank is able to mobilize law enforcement agencies and bounty hunters.
Ship share, Loan-shark
You have a $7.5M to spend on a ship but this is a loan from a criminal organization. The organization places no restrictions on ship design.
Your minimum repayments are $25000 per month for forty years (total $9M). Payments can be made at any world where the organization has a presence, depending on the setting, this might be most high population worlds or worlds within a region within known space such as ‘the Galactic Core Frontier worlds’ or whatever. If the setting has an interstellar internet payments can be made anywhere. Failure to make minimum payments immediately results in you gaining a Minor Enemy hindrance as the organization begins to marshal resources against you. At this stage visiting worlds where the organization has a presence might result in attempts to repossess the ship or a good beating, other criminals might shun you, corrupt officials will be bribed into inconveniencing you, and you will receive threats. When a second monthly payment is missed the organization is upgraded to a Major Enemy who wants to kill you and recoup their losses. They will send thugs and assassins. A large bounty is probably put on your head that attracts crims and scum.
Once you have a starship you need to keep it running. Some groups simply do not worry about the cost of running a ship, if that’s you use the shares above but just assume loan repayments. Other groups will use the SFC rules for trade, salvage, fuel, provisions and wages to try play a game where the players model the success or failure of their ship as a business. While this might sound a bit like ‘Accounting the RPG’ I have designed these rules to be (fairly) quick and easy to use. The nessesity of paying the bills will also moderate starship design. Ensure players are aware they have to pay the bills and they will consider adding cargo space instead of building a pure death machine. Even so, a typical light freighter
(SFC49) will loose about $5000/month, if you use this rule the players will become motivated to find more money leading to risks, shady deals, smuggling, mercenary work, and other adventures.
The system takes a little to set up but once in place you simply have one number to keep track of each month, either a loss to overcome or a profit. To use this system the first steps are to figure out your
monthly outgoings and base income. By subtracting base income from outgoings you can determine the loss or profit each month.
This system assumes several things about the setting and the story:
Everyone wants a profit but a loss is more likely, PCs must make extra effort to overcome losses, i.e. adventures.
Generally this Monthly Total does not change, instead adventures and the like will provide a credit that adds to this. These credits reduce the loss if any.
Getting extra credit
There are several non-sustainable ways of dealing with a loss.