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Kid Kyoto

Fluff-How small can a human warp ship be?

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I think it is fair to say there may be an archeotech or xenotech millennium falcon out there somewhere.  There are a few problems with it though.

First, if it ever breaks good luck fixing it.

Second, everyone will want it.  They will also be willing to kill the players, anyone nearby, and anyone who knows about the ship to get it.  As soon as it got out that the players had such a ship they would be approached by agents of the mechanicus, inquisition, etc...  Who would probably offer to buy the ship, they would offer A LOT for it.  If the PCs refuse to sell they would immediately move to other much less friendly forms of persuasion.  The inquisition could just demand it on pain of being declaried traitorus, the mechanicus could threaten to remove all tech priest from the players ship and or declare them herateks.  If that does not work they would do their level best to take the ship by force and kill off the players. 

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In Lure of the Expanse an ancient mechanicum probe ship.  It's listed as 0.1 km in diameter/length and weighs one megaton.  The components it has are: warp engine, plasma drive, gellar field, single void shield array, auger array, and two laser batteries.  It has no crew or crew quarters.  It's speed 13, armor 13, and Hull 30.

Other than that I haven't found reference to a warp-capable ship that's less than a kilometer in size.

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Cannonball said:

 

If I recall my fluff correctly, the Cobra Destroyer is one of the smallest warp capable ships in the Imperium - certainly the smallest fully functional ship. Tau ships need to be much bigger to enter warp - the Manta can't do it definitely. That's why they have gravity hooks to attach their escort-sized (raiders/destroyers) vessels to much larger cruisers in BFG.

 

 

I believe the Cobra-class destroyer is ~1.5km in length - it seems there are multiple, if specialised/obscure ships in various fluff that are capable of warp-travel at a smaller size than this (perhaps not in a consistent or "safe/secure" manner though) .

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George Labour said:

Forgot to mention that some Xenos vessels have FTL capabilities and are still quite small. IIRC the Tau Manta is not just a mobile air base, but a fully functioning starship in its own right. Though Tau warp travel is far more limited and slower than Imperial standards and resembles Star Trek style movement rather than the 'other realm' trope used by most other races.

In other words, Tau have really tiny ships that can do small warp jumps, but they prefer to use larger vessels that 'tow' their escorts along and even then they're slower than an equivalent imperium ship of the line. Also a Manta is about the size of a warlord titan.

 

You recall incorrectly.  The Tau Manta is an aerospace craft with interplanetary capacity, but is NOT warp capable.  Think of it more as a larger and up-gunned Thunderhawk than a void ship.

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Imagine a cobra class destroyer (1.2km IIRC). This is the smallest warship in the imperium.

 

Remove the space required for torpedo tubes and a single battery (maybe 6 and 3 space each - speculation). Thats 9 space. Since an average raider has about 40 odd space and a cobra probably isn't any different you can reduce the size of the ship by about 1/4. So maybe 900m. For a ship designed to not mount weapons.

 

Now imagine that you are building specifically for small size and assume the top pinacle of Imperium tech. A archeotech plasmadrive saves another 4 space for an extra 10% of the original size. Ship is now 780m.  Further assume that by using arhceotech components to reduce size of the life sustainer and you shed another point.

 

Finally figure that with it not being used as a warship and it being very expensive and valuable, the ship will have a small (since it won't need to replace battle losses) and highly elite (so it can get rid of some of the mass work gangs) and hence can save maybe a space or two.

 

If one finally removes all ancillary components that aren't needed (i.e. essentials only) you could probably get it down to 500-600m in length.

 

Now this is real back of the napkin type stuff and ignores that space is three dimensional and i've been working in 2D but does give you a rough idea of a small but super advanced ship.

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That's a neat way of working it out, Gribble, I'd never thought of it like that! That all makes sense. If the Imperium just wanted to make a tiny ship using the tech they have available at the moment, I think you're absolutely right, they'd end up with a ship that sort of size. happy.gif

This actually matches up with the sort of descriptions Rites of Battle has of Kill ships (tiny, specialist Extermiatus vessels) actually...  

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llsoth said:

I think it is fair to say there may be an archeotech or xenotech millennium falcon out there somewhere.  There are a few problems with it though.

First, if it ever breaks good luck fixing it.

Second, everyone will want it.  They will also be willing to kill the players, anyone nearby, and anyone who knows about the ship to get it.  As soon as it got out that the players had such a ship they would be approached by agents of the mechanicus, inquisition, etc...  Who would probably offer to buy the ship, they would offer A LOT for it.  If the PCs refuse to sell they would immediately move to other much less friendly forms of persuasion.  The inquisition could just demand it on pain of being declaried traitorus, the mechanicus could threaten to remove all tech priest from the players ship and or declare them herateks.  If that does not work they would do their level best to take the ship by force and kill off the players. 

 

Would it really be that valuable though?  As many peiople have pointed out a small ship is not all that super useful.  It's too small to carry profiable cargo, it can't mount the kind of weapons and shields it needs to protect itself and it's easier to blow around in warp storms.  It would probably have a much lower range as well, since it has less space for fuel.

The main advantages are smaller crew, it can land on planets, people might not realize it's warp capable and is more maneverable than big ships (but probably not faster, remember there's no friction in space).  It can also be carried in a bigger ship allowing a small group to split off from the mother ship or to leave if the mothership loses it's warp engines.

We have several canon sources showing small ships do exist and they never seem particularly valuable, certainly not 'kill anyone who gets in our way valuable. 

I'd say ecomomically they're like Lear Jets or luxery yachts, nice to have but not really practical.  Even people who can afford them wouldn't bother most of the time.

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If i think "small ships" i think "insertion ships of the inquisition". So especially with extremely powerful persons like inquisitors, there is a market for ships like these. It`s just a very small market.

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GregorM1980 said:

If i think "small ships" i think "insertion ships of the inquisition". So especially with extremely powerful persons like inquisitors, there is a market for ships like these. It`s just a very small market.

 

We could add smugglers (for small high-value items) and cultists (same).  And people with more money than sense.

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Kid Kyoto said:

GregorM1980 said:

 

If i think "small ships" i think "insertion ships of the inquisition". So especially with extremely powerful persons like inquisitors, there is a market for ships like these. It`s just a very small market.

 

 

 

We could add smugglers (for small high-value items) and cultists (same).  And people with more money than sense.

However, smugglers would need to get the money to get one first, which would require ships, and if you have ships that work already, why would you need a more expensive smaller one? As for cultists, you'd need to have members up there with Inquisitors in order to have the ability to buy one. As for those with more money than sense, we all know that those with lots of money would prefer a big stonking cruiser to show off, rather than a little tiddly thing.

Plus, you are presuming that the Mechanicus (who are the only people legally allowed to make these ships) would give them to anyone other than the most important Inquisitors or Imperial Organisations (like the Deathwatch).

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Ah my mistake on the Manta. In the Original Tau Codex they're a side blurb which says they "Have ether drives but are not nearly as fast as a true insterstellar ship" I took that to men they had limited warp capability. Still would be faster to be towed by a real Tau ship though.

 

Now as for where one can get their super awesome 41stmillenium Falcon there's more than just the adeptus mechanicus out there. Xenos, various renegade chaos factions, Space Marine chapters, and likely some obscure but chthonic threat from beyond could all possibly produce such a toy. Also the ad.mech is not a unified body and there are segments of it that can and will do things that will get them on the servitor truck if they think it's logical to do so.

An example is the previously mentioned Probe from Lure of The Expanse. It's stated it was deemed heretical due to its excessive use of non organic systems and you could get in trouble for just trieing to own it. Heck just coming into contact with it and handing it over might get you on some Magos's naughty list.

 

 

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George Labour said:

Now as for where one can get their super awesome 41stmillenium Falcon there's more than just the adeptus mechanicus out there. Xenos, various renegade chaos factions, Space Marine chapters, and likely some obscure but chthonic threat from beyond could all possibly produce such a toy. Also the ad.mech is not a unified body and there are segments of it that can and will do things that will get them on the servitor truck if they think it's logical to do so.

 

Aye, but it depends if by "human ship" you mean "Imperial". That seems to be what many here are saying, which means that Chaos/Xenos/etc ships wouldn't count, as they'd use heretical technology or daemonology in order to have such small ships.

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George Labour said:

Now as for where one can get their super awesome 41stmillenium Falcon there's more than just the adeptus mechanicus out there. Xenos, various renegade chaos factions, Space Marine chapters, and likely some obscure but chthonic threat from beyond could all possibly produce such a toy. 

 

Apart from ships made by SM chapters, getting a navigator for such a ship will be a major problem.

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Attila-IV said:

 That's true. Just make a bargain with the right Daemon and you can have a warp-capable voidship the size of a thimble.

Maybe I've been reading/watching/playing too much (kinda) "hard" sci-fi... My first thought there was "that would be an awesome weapon: it'd rip the guts out of any ship/habitat it activated its engines within".

Now, to make sure my players never ever get their hands on one of these (or, more worryingly, more than one)...

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There are other systems aside from Navigators one can procure for warp travel. Into the Storm has the void abacus, an archaeotech device capable of plotting longer than normal warp jumps without a navigator. The low point to owning one is that the navigators will try to covertly destroy it, and others will want to study, and or steal it.

But if you've already gone to the trouble to pay a planet's weight in bananas to get some jokaero to build you a warp capable thunderhawk sized ship then that little navigational doodad is the least of your worries.

 

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I thought of another one, the old BL comic Bloodquest has several BAs put on the USS Bloodquest so they can Quest for Blood.  That was warp-capable and certainly smaller than a kilometer.  Later they took a pirate ship which again was warp-capable and looked about the size of a shuttle.

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