As in many other popular science fiction books, movies or tv-series Hyperstorm RPG features spaceships as a unifying element for the player characters. All player characters are crew members of a voidjammer spaceship. This creates a natural connection and aligned motives between the characters. Obviously this doesn’t mean that the characters would always agree on everything and share similar goals.
Besides being rallying points and mobile bases, they also act as customizable extensions for the characters. The characters can make their own idiosyncratic additions and modification to the ship and so make it serve its crew the best. For example, a rifter crew specialized in smuggling could have falsified transponder signal software or hidden compartments installed around the ship, where as a crew specialized in long-range treasure hunting expeditions could have improved sensors and cold sleep units.
Voidjammers are interstellar spaceships with sensors and hyperdrive systems modified to handle the eccentric hyperspace conditions in the Rift and the Lost Expanse. Because of their specialized nature they are typically used by rifters, but by others as well. For instance pirates, nomads and metacorporation maintain fleets of voidjammers.
All voidjammers are unique, because there are no mass-produced voidjammers at the moment. Even the metacorporations customize their ships from mass-produced models to traverse the Rift. There are ship docks that are specialized in refitting ships to voidjammers all around the Edge and the Wild Space and overtime a few assembly types have become more or less of a standard.
Even if all voidjammers are one-of-a-kind ships, they are still built on an existing chassis to serve a specific purpose. It has become common to classify voidjammers by their fuselage, equipment and basic capabilities with the following names:
- Hunter – Usually refitted patrol or escort crafts with light weaponry, good maneuverability and descent sensors.
- Phantom – Stealth capable voidjammers mostly made of decommissioned stealth bombers or surveillance ships.
- Mule – These robust voidjammers are capable of moving large amounts of cargo and they are usually made of old tugs or cargo ships.
- Pilgrim – This ship configuration is customized for extended long-range expeditions in the Lost Expanse.
- Raider – Heavily armed and armored voidjammer typically built out of old bombers or assault gunships.
- Dart – Darts are the fastest voidjammers available and make excellent blockade runners and courier ships.
For practical reasons most voidjammers used by rifters are ships that can be operated with a minimal crew. Most ships have at least a rudimentary AI that can handle simple tasks or delegate some of them to drone units if the ship happens to have any.
Crewing a Voidjammer
As a part of the character creation the players get points which they can use to get a voidjammer of their own and add a few customizations to it. Depending on the character’s role certain options become available or easier to get. For example, a crew consisting mostly of mercs specializing in bounty hunting are more likely to have a hunter, raider or even a dart as their voidjammer than a mule or pilgrim.
If the crew has more diverse roles, there will be more options open for the players to choose from and then the ship customization is what matters the most.
Customizing the Ship
Roles and specializations open different customization options for the voidjammer. With correct modifications it is possible to make a fast stealth mule or a heavily armed long-range hunter, but it will be costly and specialized modifications always require sacrifices to be made. Besides modifying and upgrading the main systems – such as engines, generator or life support – a voidjammer can be also outfitted with different auxiliary systems. A medbay, a nanofabricator or a drone repair station are not vital parts of the ship’s systems, but they can contribute to the crew’s functionality a lot.
Decision of the voidjammer’s type is something that the players need to decide together, but each player can select a few (usually from one to three) different upgrades or auxiliary systems for the voidjammer. To give a few examples a starblazer specialized in smuggling might have a secret hatch placed somewhere in the ship, a savant doc could have a medbay and a voyant could have a meditation tank installed in the ship.
After the initial customizations the ship can of course be upgraded further the old fashion way – with cold cash or valuable favors.