Forms of non muscle powered vehicle transportation, ranging from sailing vessels to steam wagons to rockets and starships, are all dealt with under the same system. This system is extremely abstract and simple and is more of a set of parameters intended to assist the players and referee conceptualize vehicles than a hard and fast set of rules. As with all my mechanics, these were formulated with the lazy referee in mind (i.e., me). Groups desirous of a more complex and comprehensive system should look for it elsewhere.
Vehicles are categorized in one of four classes (1, 2, 3, and 4) or land, sea, air, and space respectively. Specific vehicle characteristics represented by four statistics, Speed, Armor Class, Hit points and Upkeep. Certain types of craft may have specific restraints or bonus to be determined by the referee e.g., submarines can operate underwater; you can’t drive a tank through a tightly packed forest- at least not at its normal speed.
The vehicle classes are, for the most part, self explanatory. Obviously, for example, land vehicles are restricted to moving over land, and in many cases can only function at top speed if there is an available road or there is no obstruction (e.g., broken ground; a cliff face, rows and rows of giant phallic monoliths ect…). Special vehicles such as low rise hovercraft may be able to ignore the former of these restrictions.
Vehicle power sources and the rate of necessary refuel are determined on a case by case bases by the referee. A standardized system would suck. These points will be addressed further in the examples given in the third part of this series.
Movement is represented by a score ranging from 1-10. This value is designed to measure the speed of vehicles in relation to one another; it is not meant to measure the absolute speed of a vehicle. Absolute speed is once again determined on a case by case basis, sometimes varying from vehicle to vehicle from place to place. Players should eschew all expectations of consistency, or perhaps, play GURPS. For the purpose of this system, each class of vehicles is considered to move twice as fast as the class below it. Therefore, a Class 1 vehicle with a Movement value of 2 moves at half the speed of a Class 2 vehicle with a Movement Value of 2 and the same speed as a Class two vehicle with a movement of 2.
It is possible for a vehicle to have more than one movement score, as may be the case with vehicles like starships and submarines which are capable of movement through different mediums. For example a spaceship may have different movement values for travel in an atmosphere, a vacuum, or hyperspace, if you feel the need, but, really, I would not bother to go into this level of detail. Just keep in mind that everything is relative and go from there.
As with everything, this should be determined on a case by case basis, but it works exactly the same way as armor class does for characters and creatures. Some additional guidelines will be provided in the form of examples in the final entry of this series.
Vehicle hit points are determined on a case by case basis- and as they only partially represent the vehicles integrity, may actually go up or down depending on the experience, or lack thereof, of the operator(s). For example a small sailing ship may have a base of 10 hit points, but the referee may grant another 5 if the crew manning it is experienced.
This is the cost (in gold pieces, or zorms, or whatever) required to keep the vehicle operational. Also determined on a case by case basis, and possibly subject to modification. Furthermore, this cost can sometimes be covered in commodities other than gold. A sailboat may be reprovisioned with no monetary expense if the crew puts in at an island. A starship that uses human sacrifices for fuel need only do some kidnapping, or make use of an unpopular crew member. As always abstraction is useful, but one should never get carried away with it.
In the next entry I will address vehicle combat, critical hits, and I will take another look at movement (if I fucking feel like it).