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Ruwalk

Star Ship build times.

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I have been thinking lately about how the amount of time that in mentioned in the books from ffg seem way to long, it seems to me that the imperial fleet would not be able to maintain let alone grow if it take a century for each cruiser to be built. Is that the average time or do you guys think that its more of a worse case kind of thing. Just pondering and seeing what everyone thinks on this.

 

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A Cruiser taking a century to build isn't too farfetched considering how spread out the industrial centres of the Imperium are. Transit delays due to Warp woes, shortages due to local wars, etc.

Assembling one should take a few years with the proper rituals and so on.

But it's not like each shipyard or forge world creates just one ship at a time. Some Battlefleets have a shortage of hulls, some are in desperate need of voidsmen.

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I agree with Marwynn.  Not all Forge Words, Industrialized Planets, Drydocks, Starforts, Shipyards, etc etc will just make one ship.  Not to mention, the 100 year mark is probably the average.  I'm sure Mars (and it's orbital facilities) can probably make Cruisers in about 20 years, possibly in the dozens if properly motivated and supplied (so every 100 years is about right). And you also have the think that the IoM has millions of worlds.  If you just take 10% of that to be Forge Worlds or planets with shipyards, that's 100,000+ Cruiser ships every 100 years or so.  Kinda mind boggling once you think about it.

Edited by Nameless2all

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Keep in mind that modern battleships took years to build, even under war conditions when everything is expedited. Other examples are the Russian aircraft carriers which took many years to build or even the current British carriers. Policy changes, lack of funds, changing requirements and just simple construction times all can impact the build time of a vessel.

 

The WH40k universe is dysfunctional and the fluff clearly states consistently that ships are difficult to construct and take up considerable time to build. There is no ‘best practice’, each forge world and shipyard jealously guards its secrets and few sectors can produce each part of a ship, necessitating difficult supply lines, trade deals with other forge worlds and so forth.

 

I would thus liken the construction of a ship in WH40k with the building of a medieval cathedral (and not just because it resembles one). Medieval cathedrals were built with primitive tools and lots of cheap labour, took centuries in most cases, and were as much a functional building as a holy symbol.

 

And let’s not forget that ships in WH40k are based on the age of sail in space. Even wooden ships were not build quickly or easily and were often quite unique, despite officially being of a fixed class. No assembly line there.

DLighter likes this

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I agree with Marwynn.  Not all Forge Words, Industrialized Planets, Drydocks, Starforts, Shipyards, etc etc will just make one ship.  Not to mention, the 100 year mark is probably the average.  I'm sure Mars (and it's orbital facilities) can probably make Cruisers in about 20 years, possibly in the dozens if properly motivated and supplied (so every 100 years is about right). And you also have the think that the IoM has millions of worlds.  If you just take 10% of that to be Forge Worlds or planets with shipyards, that's 100,000+ Cruiser ships every 100 years or so.  Kinda mind boggling once you think about it.

 

I am not sure what your numbers are based on?

Why do you think the IoM has millions of worlds? The fluff mentions a million worlds, which I'd take to mean a million (fully) inhabited worlds. If you take the Calixus sector, it would likely average 200 inhabited worlds. And that just has 3 forge worlds (0.015%). Even Mars can't just pump out ships as it produces everything, from titans to tanks. And with the vagaries of warp travel, long supply lines are practically impossible to segmentums (and sectors if they can) tend to be self sufficient which is not necessarily the most efficient. And this is ignoring the religious significance of large warmachines. I rather doubt that ships are mass produced considering their relevance in imperial society.

 

Anyway, numbers don't make much sense in WH40k. Its about the feel you want the setting to have. If you stop to think about numbers, nothing much makes sense in WH40k. For example, hive worlds with 50 billion citizens could raise armies of many hundreds of millions which could make short work of a single chapter of supermarines. Yet entire worlds are allegedly sacked in a single night by space marines.....So just ignore common sense calculations and hand wave the numbers to suit your style and preference.

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Seems fair enough. Note that - barring a major invasion - a sector would also go centuries or more between losing a capital ship. These things are essentially the size and population of a small city, and things which can destroy one are few and far between...

 

 

Also, bear in mind scale. The imperium is theoretically 'a million worlds' - it's not exact but let's go with that. If one in a hundred is a forgeworld or major naval base, and each builds only one major capital ship at a time (the example of a cathedral above is a good one), and each takes a century to build, then that's still a hundred capital warships being commissioned every year.

 

And it's not one ship per world. Major forgeworlds have orbital dockyards building dozens of ships. The Ring Of Iron - the Martian Dockyards  - literally fill a complete orbit over humanity's second world.

 

Most sector fleets probably do remain about static, because whilst ships are continuously building, if a battleship or cruiser is completed that they don't need in their order of battle, it'll get transferred somewhere else. Someone always needs ships.. Battlefleet gothic makes it clear that, especially in times of intense conflict, ships get transferred between sector battlefleets all the time, and may serve in a different sector's battlefleet for centuries.

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Well, some ship classes can be built significantly faster than described in the FFG books- the Lunar class cruiser Lord Daros was built with virtually zero inftrastructure to support its construction over the feral world of Unloth. Using imported workers in orbit, and the inhabitants of the planet to mina and smelt raw materials, the Lord Daros left orbital drydock eleven years after being laid down.

This is noted as being an extreme example of the ease of construction supposedly inherent in the Lunar class, which lets it be built by worlds which would otherwise be unable to produce capital ships, but considering the level of available skilled labour and infrastructure, it suggests that most shipyards could build them quicker.

Magnus Grendel likes this

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.....

 

I am not sure what your numbers are based on?

... The fluff mentions a million worlds....

Yea, that is what I meant.  A million worlds, not millions of worlds, hence why 10% of 1,000,000 was 100,000 (a rather moot point as to what 10% refers to as I pulled it out of thin air, though as I mentioned it could be Forge Words, Industrialized Planets, Drydocks in the void, etc etc,).  Anyhoot, numbers do not matter as it's a sci-fi game.  I was attempting to give an example of how a century is not that significant as it seems, when you have so many locations building ships.  Current real world time a century is a lot, but in 40k time it's a finger snap.

 

Magnus Grendel hit home where I was going though.

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Well, some ship classes can be built significantly faster than described in the FFG books- the Lunar class cruiser Lord Daros was built with virtually zero inftrastructure to support its construction over the feral world of Unloth. Using imported workers in orbit, and the inhabitants of the planet to mina and smelt raw materials, the Lord Daros left orbital drydock eleven years after being laid down.

This is noted as being an extreme example of the ease of construction supposedly inherent in the Lunar class, which lets it be built by worlds which would otherwise be unable to produce capital ships, but considering the level of available skilled labour and infrastructure, it suggests that most shipyards could build them quicker.

 

An extreme example of this would be the Claymore class corvette. It seems to be a high volume, relatively low quality vessel from an awkward class of ship whose primary virtue is that it can be constructed quickly in times of war in small dockyards. It can do many of the jobs a larger and more efficient frigate can do, albeit not as well. One imagines these could be chucked together pretty quickly: if it took eleven years to construct a lunar cruiser above a feral world (albeit under duress, from the sound of it) I imagine a well organised forge world could churn one of these out within a year or so.    

 

You wouldn't want to use it for long though, as the screws would probably start popping out in the warp...probably best to hand it over to the Rogue Traders once the current emergency has passsed...

Edited by Lightbringer

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Here's an old ship background package I put together yonks ago that seems vaguely relevant to this discussion....

 

Pressed into Service

The Imperium is beset on all sides by the forces of Chaos, xenos warfleets and rebellion. War is a constant feature of Imperial life. While there may be periods of relative peace, these are but lulls in a wider storm that one day will engulf all of mankind.
The warships of the Imperial Navy are not immune to this process. Vast and powerful as they are, they will inevitably face some foe yet greater or more numerous than they, and it will bring them low, leaving the Imperial Navy crying out for more ships.
 

In times of war, where its great fleets are pounded to glittering dust, lost amid the stars, the Navy is forced to cast around for poorer quality, second rate vessels that can be rapidly manufactured using whatever materials are to hand. Smaller shipyards are cannibalized for civilian spacecraft components intended for merchant vessels, and these are hastily engineered into bodged hybrid military vessels. The Navy, proud of the power and quality of its vessels, despises being forced to take these steps, but in the midst of war, the normal niceties of ship design, must be cast aside. The Corvettes are the acme of such a process, ships designed to be constructed in short order in small shipyards to (barely) cover losses among more powerful vessels. However, when most pressed, these compromises may be adopted on other ships.
 

As a result, many smaller Imperial ships constructed in times of great crusades tend to have a certain ramshackle quality about them, and include strange amalgams of military and civilian systems. Bizarrely, such vessels actually suit Rogue Traders rather well; their systems are more accepting of unusual components with lower tolerances, and as they are often constructed around hybrid civilian drives and weapons systems, they are able to accept “off the shelf” components more easily than more thoroughbred craft. A price is paid in the overall quality of the ship’s construction, however, as such ships are usually hurriedly pressed into service without the usual quality checks.

 

Cost: 2 Ship points. Frigates and Raiders only.

 

Hodgepodge: The ship was rapidly constructed in a civilian yard. It incorporates a number of design features that would normally only be found in civilian transports, awkwardly worked into the hull of a small warship. The ship may accept components designed for Transports in addition to components for ships designed for its actual class.

 

Cut and shut: The ship is easier to repair, as it is more accepting of unusual repair solutions; it is effectively one of them itself! When this vessel effects long term repairs, it may repair 1d10+5 points of Hull Integrity rather than 1d5. Furthermore, it is easier to source components for the ship, as its power feed systems are far more forgiving than most warships, given that they are built around more widespread civilian designs. At the GM’s discretion, when using Table 1-6 on page 19 of Battlefleet Koronus, increase the availability of Essential components costing less than +3SP or less by one degree.

 

Missing a few rivets: The ship is not as well constructed as a normal warship, as its architects were rushing to put it together quickly. Reduce Hull Integrity by 3 and Armour by 2.

Edited by Lightbringer

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To build a proper voidship takes years or decades.  Could take a century for something super-capital sized (i.e. battleship).  No RT crew is going to commission a large ship to be built from scratch.  What you do is take a slagged hulk and get it repaired.  It's like a new ship, but you get it before the second coming.

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Speak for yourself! As soon as I can, I'm commissioning an Ambition class cruiser built around a massive swimming pool internal beach.

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Speak for yourself! As soon as I can, I'm commissioning an Ambition class cruiser built around a massive swimming pool internal beach.

 

Money...

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but it says in the BFK book that ships are sometimes commissioned by individuals such as rt so it does happen i always use the century for a cruiser as a worst case sort of deal. also I am surprised by the number of posts on here thank you all for your thoughts.  

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but it says in the BFK book that ships are sometimes commissioned by individuals such as rt so it does happen i always use the century for a cruiser as a worst case sort of deal. also I am surprised by the number of posts on here thank you all for your thoughts.  

People in 40kverse can live for a century or three, so the wait isn't quite so ludicrous. The vagaries of warp travel also CAN alter your time-table; don't appear BEFORE you order your ship, it'll make that wait feel even longer ;)

 

I suppose some Rogue Traders also commission ships for their dynasties, probably for their heirs. I still think most people who have that much money still just get a hull from a salvage yard, space hulk, or Navy mothball fleet, and have it "refurbished". I know what the book says, but with 40k ships being so ludicrously massive, and full of stuff, and with all of the Tech-Priests being so slavish to rituals they don't even understand, and any internal "disputes" among them, I can see the bigger ships in the verse taking such protracted time. I don't like it, and I MIGHT let a party spend extra PF to "put more crews on it", and speed it up, or bump it up the Magos' priority list, but I can't imagine a Dictator-class Cruiser, for instance, being any kind of thing that can be built swiftly. A really nice Meta Endeavor to reclaim the Light of Terra calculates 30+ years to get her repaired, and, hulk or not, much of the Light's superstructure is even still present. If you also had to build every bit of the frame, you're looking at a long time. Granted, she's a battleship, so even bigger, and more time-consuming, but still, I think it can make my point, at least a bit. This is all my opinion, anyways.

 

Not entirely sure why it matters, of course. For the purposes of this, what hull did a party want that they couldn't just find? Many GCs are out of favor, and "easy" to requisition from the Navy, if you have the Thrones (something they'd much more like to have, especially in the figures we're discussing), and it MUST be cheaper to buy one than to order one made. Battlecruisers and typical Cruisers are less so, but numerous enough in military circles that, with some hob-knobbing, and money, you could get one. Lesser ships are easier, I'd think, and unless you are looking for an especially rare or heretical design, it doesn't seem it should be too hard to find any hull you really want. It might cost to find, and more to get, and even more to kit, but hiring the AdMech, waiting for a decade or three, and kitting something out will be more of all of that.

Edited by venkelos

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I'm a little curious as to how often this comes up in everyone's games. My players have encountered more than enough enemy ships to add one to their fleet every few years. Given how no ships are ever completely destroyed in this system, and few of them even lose a significant amount of components before breaking, it seems to me that no one with any human enemies would have a shortage of ships.

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Well, some ship classes can be built significantly faster than described in the FFG books- the Lunar class cruiser Lord Daros was built with virtually zero inftrastructure to support its construction over the feral world of Unloth. Using imported workers in orbit, and the inhabitants of the planet to mina and smelt raw materials, the Lord Daros left orbital drydock eleven years after being laid down.

This is noted as being an extreme example of the ease of construction supposedly inherent in the Lunar class, which lets it be built by worlds which would otherwise be unable to produce capital ships, but considering the level of available skilled labour and infrastructure, it suggests that most shipyards could build them quicker.

 

I was looking for that reference. But yes, essentially:

 

Building capital ships is the job of decades. Building escort-class ships probably a year or so.

 

Meaning that Traejun is correct - 99% of the time, buying a ship means locating one of approximately the design you want and "persuading" the current owner to give it to you via an appropriate medium of exchange*. The navy does maintain "reserve fleets" of mothballed ships (the Cadian Gate reserve fleets are huge but every sector will have some), and activating and refurbishing one is not an unreasonable task for a prosperous rogue trader. If they're of an appropriately law-abiding character, they might even tell the navy they're doing it and get permission first...

 

* Thrones, Trade Agreements, Macrocannon volleys....

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Keep in mind that modern battleships took years to build, even under war conditions when everything is expedited.

 

I'm going to quibble a bit with this comment.

 

I originally had some decent details into the construction times of the USS Iowa ( most modern ) with the construction times of the South Dakota class and  USS North Carolina ( which was the first battleship built by the US after the Washington Naval Treaty and subsequent London Naval Treaty went in to effect ), but my computer had a brain fart and I lost everything, so you are getting the condensed version.

 

The actual construction and outfitting of the USS North Carolina, only took 3.5 years, and was plagued with multiple problems:

1) The shipyard lacked men trained in BB construction ( in fact a lack of men in general as the US was still coming out of the Great Depression ).

2) Shortage of steel, because of labor problems.

Despite the issues with the construction of the North Carolina class, the USS North Carolina was completed by April 1941, and as such was not built under war conditions.

 

The USS South Dakota of the South Dakota class, was built and outfitted in a little under 3 years.  Actually built in 2 years it launched in June '41, it's outfitting was plagued by the attack on Pearl Harbor so the subsequent man power disruption and the need to outfit it as a flagship, stretched outfitting out almost a full year.  The SoDak was also plagued by the need to shrink and re-arrange equipment originally designed for the North Carolina class.   I would qualify the SoDak as built not under 'war conditions', but pre-war urgency, materials are relatively plentiful, and there was a moderate pool of men with some training in BB construction.   The USS Alabama ( a non-flagship sister to the SoDak ), only took about 2.5 years, laid down in Feb 1940, and commissioned in Aug '42, I would qualify her as being built under full prewar emergency.

 

In a nut shell, the USS Iowa was built and out fitted for duty in 2.5 years ( including a redesign of her turrets after construction had already started ), for a class that was larger than the SoDak class, the last ~2/3rds of that was under actual war conditions, but by this time, the US had already built 6 BBs' and so while there was some material shortage, there was a pool of personal that was well trained. 

 

 

So, while I will grant that under war conditions, build times can be shrunk, it does not take a significant fraction of a mans lifetime, even under non-wartime conditions.  The USS Lexington was laid down as a battlecruiser in Jan 1921, construction was stopped while she was redesigned as a aircraft carrier, parts of the ship rebuilt and the ship finished and commissioned Dec 1927 - 7 years total for what stands out as a very unusual construction job.

 

Even at the height of the Great Depression, when there was a major slow down due to the economic conditions there were several ships built but even then, 3-4 years, saw a ship built and on duty ( the USS Yorktown, laid down in 1934 and was commissioned in 1937 ), and that is less than 1/10th the lifetime of your average man at that time.  

 

The USS Ronald Reagan ( a Nimitz class CVN, with twice the displacement of a WW2 Iowa class BB ), only took 5 years to build, and that was not under war emergency conditions.  Heck even the Ford class CVN, is only expected to take 7 years, and they are developing cutting edge tech for it.

 

Compare that with the 100 year construction time frame for a man that would live ~300 years, in RT, and the scale is way out of sync.  

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Well, you really can't add real world engineering to a sci-fi game.  The Nimitz is 777 m (length) x 33 m (width) which is 25,641m in dimensions.  The Lunar Cruiser is 5 km x .8 km which is 4,000,000m in dimensions.   Not a math major here, but you can fit about 150 Nimitz into a Lunar on a solid plane.... That's not taking into account their height for the 3rd dimension, so it's probably a lot more.  So.... since it's a sci-fi game, we don't have any statistics for building stuff in a void, and the Tech-priests do a whole lot of chanting before they actually do anything, I'm just going to hand wave stuff, and say 100 years is about average.  We can agree to disagree though.

Edited by Nameless2all

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Yeah, sci-fi often has better AND worse times building stuff. One good thing is money. It isn't likely to happen in the real world, where greed, ambition, religious differences, morals, ethics, and more can stop us from working together amicably, but most space-faring sci-fi genres do feature a unified world government, where debt isn't a thing, people share info, and resources, and you can focus the kinds of attention a space ship, or program might require. The neighbors don't sabotage you, or threaten war, and the cost is irrelevant. People might not be getting paid, but they do it anyway, for the good of the people (read Star Trek Federation). However, plenty can still go wrong. Ships carrying resources might disappear, Orks or worse might assault your facility/planet, the AdMech might have any number of internal scuffles about what's right, what's heresy, or what have you. Any number of things can stop the production of your beast in space dead, and she's a big beast. As a comparison, in a more resource-thrifty setting, Babylon 5, a space station is five miles long. In Star Wars pre-whining nerd-fans, a Star Destroyer was 1,000m long, and the Executor was only 5,000m long, or so. (Now, they are practically bigger than 40k ships, thanks to fans not hearing Doctor Emmet Brown explain that "the model was painted, but not to scale", and saying that SSDs had to be upwards of a dozen miles long.)

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well I'm glad this is still going thought it would die quickly nut on the SW thing its the other way as far as i know they used to be bigger and now the shrunk them also the SSD were pictured as much bigger but back to my OP here, i can see both sides of it taking longer and being shorter i figure shorter would be the norm as supplying a fleet galaxy wide and to have it grow  a hundred years is just to long for capital ships 

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Keep in mind that modern battleships took years to build, even under war conditions when everything is expedited.

 

I'm going to quibble a bit with this comment.

 

I originally had some decent details into the construction times of the USS Iowa ( most modern ) with the construction times of the South Dakota class and  USS North Carolina ( which was the first battleship built by the US after the Washington Naval Treaty and subsequent London Naval Treaty went in to effect ), but my computer had a brain fart and I lost everything, so you are getting the condensed version.

 

The actual construction and outfitting of the USS North Carolina, only took 3.5 years, and was plagued with multiple problems:

1) The shipyard lacked men trained in BB construction ( in fact a lack of men in general as the US was still coming out of the Great Depression ).

2) Shortage of steel, because of labor problems.

Despite the issues with the construction of the North Carolina class, the USS North Carolina was completed by April 1941, and as such was not built under war conditions.

 

The USS South Dakota of the South Dakota class, was built and outfitted in a little under 3 years.  Actually built in 2 years it launched in June '41, it's outfitting was plagued by the attack on Pearl Harbor so the subsequent man power disruption and the need to outfit it as a flagship, stretched outfitting out almost a full year.  The SoDak was also plagued by the need to shrink and re-arrange equipment originally designed for the North Carolina class.   I would qualify the SoDak as built not under 'war conditions', but pre-war urgency, materials are relatively plentiful, and there was a moderate pool of men with some training in BB construction.   The USS Alabama ( a non-flagship sister to the SoDak ), only took about 2.5 years, laid down in Feb 1940, and commissioned in Aug '42, I would qualify her as being built under full prewar emergency.

 

In a nut shell, the USS Iowa was built and out fitted for duty in 2.5 years ( including a redesign of her turrets after construction had already started ), for a class that was larger than the SoDak class, the last ~2/3rds of that was under actual war conditions, but by this time, the US had already built 6 BBs' and so while there was some material shortage, there was a pool of personal that was well trained. 

 

 

So, while I will grant that under war conditions, build times can be shrunk, it does not take a significant fraction of a mans lifetime, even under non-wartime conditions.  The USS Lexington was laid down as a battlecruiser in Jan 1921, construction was stopped while she was redesigned as a aircraft carrier, parts of the ship rebuilt and the ship finished and commissioned Dec 1927 - 7 years total for what stands out as a very unusual construction job.

 

Even at the height of the Great Depression, when there was a major slow down due to the economic conditions there were several ships built but even then, 3-4 years, saw a ship built and on duty ( the USS Yorktown, laid down in 1934 and was commissioned in 1937 ), and that is less than 1/10th the lifetime of your average man at that time.  

 

The USS Ronald Reagan ( a Nimitz class CVN, with twice the displacement of a WW2 Iowa class BB ), only took 5 years to build, and that was not under war emergency conditions.  Heck even the Ford class CVN, is only expected to take 7 years, and they are developing cutting edge tech for it.

 

Compare that with the 100 year construction time frame for a man that would live ~300 years, in RT, and the scale is way out of sync.  

I was really torn how to respond to this, so I decided to go with both quips.  Enjoy.

 

1) Good thing this isn't a universe where everything is degrading, the bulk of human knowledge has been lost or hidden, and trained, intelligent manual labour is available.  Oh wait.

 

2) You're getting your best practices in my grimdark.

 

Personally, I'm of the opinion that a century for the less standardized cruisers and the bigger battlewagons isn't outside the realm of possibility.  As previously mentioned, human lifespan for the well-to-do has extended greatly, and commissioning a new vessel is less about having it for yourself and more about the prestige of having a brand-spanking new ship for your dynasty.  I'm not sure whether anyone mentioned it, but there is also a nonlinear relationship between complexity and size and build time, especially when performing construction using materials that have to be imported- as in the case of the Martian yards, where there is no planetary mining or resource gathering, because everything has been used up.

 

Since work crews either get worked to death on a regular basis, or are turned into mindless servitors, efficiency of output (whether in a manufactory or in a shipyard) of any complex good has probably suffered.  Also, the grimdark grimdark grimdarks the grimdark, so all of the processes have certainly suffered.  At least, that's my read.

 

When you acquire a new ship, it's really a used hull with centuries (if it's new) or millennia of history- even if all of that history is quiet void patrols and the ship has never fired a shot in anger.

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If the Imperium is approximately 1 million worlds, let's say, one in one hundred is capable of producing a cruiser (Either a forgeworld or an unusual hiveworld.) This means that if each world is building at least one cruiser at a time, (I know, it's usually more than that! But bear with me!) then there are at least ten thousand cruisers under construction throughout the galaxy at any one time. Assuming completion times are staggered (I can't see how they wouldn't be!), then, at least one hundred brand spanking new cruiser hulls are completed each year! (Throughout the galaxy and of various classes.) This is assuming of course that it takes 100 years to build one! I think when a Rogue trader commissions a "New" cruiser, they are in reality, prioritizing the rights on a hull that is nearing completion. Certainly, with the connections a Dynasty has, this seems feasible. Of course said hull is basically "bare bones" without supplemental components or special widgets of any sort. This "Fitting out" period would allow for lead times on purchases to be about 2-3 yrs as experienced by the dynasty. (It might take them **** near that long to get where their particular hull is being fitted out!). This also explains why the RT must choose from existing hull types. A true "Custom" hull would take hundreds of years to design and construct. (And might just be considered Heresy if it's too radical!). 

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