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A Different Take on Bulk Cruisers
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sun May 21, 2017 6:09 pm    Post subject: A Different Take on Bulk Cruisers Reply with quote

WEG's description of the bulk cruiser has never sat hugely well with me. For one thing, size isn't really an advantage in combat; it's the things that come with size - armor, heavier weapons, larger shield generators, etc.- that truly matter.

WEG doesn't exactly have the best track record when it comes to starship classification. The designation of Medium Cruiser never existed before WEG, and WEG never bothered to explain how it differed from Light and Heavy Cruisers, which had differing capabilities directly relating to their size.

For the Bulk Cruiser, WEG obviously took "bulk" to mean "large in size." However, there is another meaning for "bulk" that is in common usage among modern commercial shipping: the transportation of large quantities of unpackaged material (grain, gravel, cement, etc, but also dry goods, as well as bulk liquids and gasses are shipped by tankers). In the SWU, "bulk" has simply come to mean a freighter capable of hauling large loads in general.

WEG's version of the bulk cruiser already states that it converted its cargo bays to accomodate 3 squadrons of fighters, so I'm thinking of going with the idea of a bulk cruiser being an armed transport, primarily for cargo, but convertible into a troop transport or light carrier. Being armed, it was also pressed into system patrol and defense duty during the Rebellion era, even though it was too slow and too lightly armed to be much of a threat against true warships.

The bulk cruiser would be a play on the bulk freighter (exclusively a non-combatant commercial transport) and the bulk carrier (designed to haul cargo externally in barges), which is the origin for the Quasar Fire-Class.

Just something I was playing around with today. Thoughts?
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Last edited by CRMcNeill on Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ForbinProject
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 10:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The name "Bulk Cruiser" always makes me think the ships are converted civilian vessels.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ForbinProject wrote:
The name "Bulk Cruiser" always makes me think the ships are converted civilian vessels.

Or possibly armed civilian cargo ships (as I suggested above) pressed into military service. A ship designed from the keel out as an armed cargo transport for transporting cargo into areas with known pirate activity would not be inappropriate for the SWU. The weapons themselves wouldn't be up to warship standard, but still better than going unarmed and trusting in the Force to protect you.
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 1:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While researching for this topic, I came across the following reference in the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook:
Quote:
Bulk Cruisers are among the most common capital starships seen throughout the galaxy; they are a cross between true bulk transports and combat vessels. They are employed by numerous planetary and local governments, as well as by larger corporations. Typically, these are star systems or corporations which receive minimal Imperial protection, and have received permission to deploy their own forces to defend against smuggling, piracy, Alliance attacks and other profit draining enterprises. Several of these vessels have since defected to the Alliance.
That's what I get for speculating when I'm away from my books.

Anyway, some questions before I proceed with a stat...
    -Should the base-model Bulk Cruiser have the same armament as the Alliance-modified cruiser carrier (30 quad-laser cannon and 2 tractor beam projectors), or should it be a mix of older model turbolasers and laser cannon?

    -If the stock version converts all of its starfighter transport capacity to cargo, how much cargo should it be able to carry?

    -How much of the Alliance version's stats should be the result of Alliance modification? Their version has a remarkably good Hull and Sensors ratings for a last-rate warship. Seeing as how Alliance doctrine uses the carrier as a stand-off weapon, letting its fighter wing handle the dirty work, is it possible sensor range was part of the upgrade?

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ForbinProject
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
-Should the base-model Bulk Cruiser have the same armament as the Alliance-modified cruiser carrier (30 quad-laser cannon and 2 tractor beam projectors), or should it be a mix of older model turbolasers and laser cannon?


Maybe it's time to flesh out the types of roles converted bulk cruisers could fill.
The 30 quad is good for a Convoy excort or Fleet support carrier

But what about

Hospital Ship
Salvage/Rescue ship with 1 squadron of hyperspace tugs to salvage ships before Imps can
Replenishment ship (would 5,000 tons be enough to set up a small base?)
System Surveillance if you stock it with stealthed satellites or probots
SpecOps Support Ship - with Multi-Environment space boats





Quote:
-If the stock version converts all of its starfighter transport capacity to cargo, how much cargo should it be able to carry?


My logic could be way, way off but the Corellian Auxiliary Carriers are converted Action VI bulk freighters.

The converted carriers only have 1,000 mt cargo remaining of the Actions original 90,000 tons.

So maybe that could shed some light on how much cargo space could be made available by getting rid of fighters on the bulk cruisers.

Quote:
-How much of the Alliance version's stats should be the result of Alliance modification? Their version has a remarkably good Hull and Sensors ratings for a last-rate warship. Seeing as how Alliance doctrine uses the carrier as a stand-off weapon, letting its fighter wing handle the dirty work, is it possible sensor range was part of the upgrade?


Yeah I'd expect them to upgrade the sensors when they added the fighters
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ForbinProject wrote:
Maybe it's time to flesh out the types of roles converted bulk cruisers could fill.

I think that's getting ahead of ourselves. For now, I'd rather concentrate on what the stock version would look like.

Quote:
The 30 quad is good for a Convoy escort or Fleet support carrier

Which fits with the WEG description of a ship that uses its fighter wing as its primary weapon; it doesn't need to be able to slug it out with small capital ships. However, stock bulk cruisers aren't supposed to have starfighter carrying capacity, so they would need a more balanced weapons suite, with turbolasers for anti-capital ship duty.

Quote:
My logic could be way, way off but the Corellian Auxiliary Carriers are converted Action VI bulk freighters.

The converted carriers only have 1,000 mt cargo remaining of the Actions original 90,000 tons.

So maybe that could shed some light on how much cargo space could be made available by getting rid of fighters on the bulk cruisers.

Where is the Corellian Auxiliary Cruiser? Is that a homebrew design?
_________________
"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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ForbinProject
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Where is the Corellian Auxiliary Cruiser? Is that a homebrew design?


Sorry I went to double check the websites I originally copied it from and under source it says "unknown".

So I guess it is a homebrew. Sorry about that. And here I've been using it cuz I thought it was official.
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Bren
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PostPosted: Tue May 23, 2017 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Bulk Cruisers are among the most common capital starships seen throughout the galaxy; they are a cross between true bulk transports and combat vessels. They are employed by numerous planetary and local governments, as well as by larger corporations. Typically, these are star systems or corporations which receive minimal Imperial protection, and have received permission to deploy their own forces to defend against smuggling, piracy, Alliance attacks and other profit draining enterprises. Several of these vessels have since defected to the Alliance.


An analog in earth history to the bulk cruisers were the ships of the British East India Company, the Dutch East India Company, and the Spanish galleons of the gold and silver fleets coming from the New World. What do these all have in common? Wealth transfer across large distances from one area to another where the danger of interception by pirates or other hostile states is high.

Given that, I think bulk cruisers that are a type of armed merchant cargo transport owned by a corporation make lots of sense especially in the Corporate Sector and in the Colonies Region where corporations often own planets and/or police systems and sectors. In addition, bulk cruisers owned by megacorporations that transport goods from or through areas of known pirate or Rebel activity also makes sense.

Despite the description it doesn't make sense to me that many planetary governments would own cargo ships armed or otherwise. The ships as described are slow (Space: 4), essentially unarmed against other capital scale vessels, and require a crew of 2000 people. A Corellian Corvette or Gunship is more heavily armed, faster, just as durable, and has a crew about 1/10th as large. And for planetary and system defense System Defense Boats are even cheaper.

To my mind, planets that are not corporate subsidiaries wouldn't own bulk cruisers. What they might do instead is register privately owned ships as reserve naval vessels. The government would sponsor or provide the arms load out permits for the bulk cruisers. And they might subsidize the purchase of those weapons or even provide a subsidy to the ship owners. In return the government would have the right to call up those armed merchantmen in wartime.

Regarding

CRMcNeill wrote:
Anyway, some questions before I proceed with a stat...
    -Should the base-model Bulk Cruiser have the same armament as the Alliance-modified cruiser carrier (30 quad-laser cannon and 2 tractor beam projectors), or should it be a mix of older model turbolasers and laser cannon?
The same armament would work for a ship that carries cargo (instead of fighters) and needs protection from starfighter attackers. For a ship that is designed to slug it out with small capital ships I'd go with older model tubolasers (or slower firing turbolasers like we see on the Rebel Assault Frigate, say 5D turbolasers that fire 1/3 rounds*) and laser cannon. I'd assume that system governments or the Empire make such weapons available possibly as part of a reserve registry arrangement.

Quote:
    -If the stock version converts all of its starfighter transport capacity to cargo, how much cargo should it be able to carry?
I can't give you tonnage, but I'd assume about 90% of what an equally sized cargo ship carries. Figure 10% of the the cargo space is taken up by the weapons and any enhanced armor and shields.

Quote:
    -How much of the Alliance version's stats should be the result of Alliance modification? Their version has a remarkably good Hull and Sensors ratings for a last-rate warship. Seeing as how Alliance doctrine uses the carrier as a stand-off weapon, letting its fighter wing handle the dirty work, is it possible sensor range was part of the upgrade?
Maybe drop 1D from hull and from shields. And assume the good sensors are part of the upgrade.


* I like the slower rate of fire because one of the differences between British Naval Vessels and East India Merchantmen was the faster rate of fire of the British Royal Navy (due to (i) training, (ii) a willingness to spend money burning powder in live fire practice, and (iii) more gunners).
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
An analog in earth history to the bulk cruisers were the ships of the British East India Company, the Dutch East India Company, and the Spanish galleons of the gold and silver fleets coming from the New World.

Good stuff here. The only thing I'd take issue with is mentioned below, in that the Alliance-modified carrier version mounts strictly starfighter-scale weaponry (and is thus outgunned by Corvette-grade craft), but this may not necessarily be true of stock versions with better armament.

Quote:
The same armament would work for a ship that carries cargo (instead of fighters) and needs protection from starfighter attackers. For a ship that is designed to slug it out with small capital ships I'd go with older model turbolasers (or slower firing turbolasers like we see on the Rebel Assault Frigate, say 5D turbolasers that fire 1/3 rounds*) and laser cannon. I'd assume that system governments or the Empire make such weapons available possibly as part of a reserve registry arrangement.

I prefer to use Rate of Fire restrictions as a function of technology, not crew skill. I agree with what you are saying, but suppose you transplant an expert and experienced gun crew onto a bulk cruiser (never mind how). Their skill level would allow them to fire faster, but a 1/3 restriction would limit them to no faster than an inexperienced civilian gunnery crew. I'd be more likely to give the ship's Crew Skills a 2D - 2D+2 Gunnery rating, which affects both their accuracy and their ability to fire multiple shots per round (due to MAPs)

Quote:
I can't give you tonnage, but I'd assume about 90% of what an equally sized cargo ship carries. Figure 10% of the the cargo space is taken up by the weapons and any enhanced armor and shields.

My inclination is to give it a Cargo Capacity of around 100,000 to 150,000 metric tons, but with next to no small craft capability. I'd also give it an Atmosphere rating, as the modern SWU has taken a much more lenient approach vis-a-vis capital ships in atmosphere. This would, in turn, allow a Bulk Cruiser to load and unload cargo directly onto a planet's surface without the need for cargo shuttles or lighters.

Quote:
Maybe drop 1D from hull and from shields. And assume the good sensors are part of the upgrade.

That works. In loose terms, the stock version would give up all cargo capacity and its heavier weapons, with the remaining space taken up by starfighter bays, stronger shields and better sensors. Fair trade.
_________________
"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ForbinProject wrote:
Sorry I went to double check the websites I originally copied it from and under source it says "unknown".

So I guess it is a homebrew. Sorry about that. And here I've been using it cuz I thought it was official.

I feel somewhat sheepish, for a couple reasons. First, I actually do know the source; the original Corellian Auxiliary Cruiser stat was published by Wing Commander Luna, on his long defunct SWD6 website. I always admired his work, and as such...

I actually used it as a basis for this ship on a separate topic about Q-Ships. In all fairness, what results is more of a Bulk Corvette than a Bulk Cruiser...
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Bren
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Bren wrote:
An analog in earth history to the bulk cruisers were the ships of the British East India Company, the Dutch East India Company, and the Spanish galleons of the gold and silver fleets coming from the New World.

Good stuff here. The only thing I'd take issue with is mentioned below, in that the Alliance-modified carrier version mounts strictly starfighter-scale weaponry (and is thus outgunned by Corvette-grade craft), but this may not necessarily be true of stock versions with better armament.
Maybe I was unclear but you seem to be agreeing with me rather than taking issue with what I said. Here's what I was trying to say.

Imagine 3 versions for different purposes. Version 1 is the basic bulk cruiser.

    Version 1: Standard Bulk Cruiser equivalent to a British East Indiaman. Carries lots of cargo. Mounts a limited number of (outdated) capital scale weapons to protect it from other, smaller or weaker capital ships.

    Version 2: Armed Convoy escort, it too can carry cargo but instead of mounting capital scale weapons it carries starfighter scale weapons to protect it (and adjacent vessels) from piratical (and Rebel) starfighters.

    Version 3: Cruiser Carrier it carries starfighters. This is either a Rebel vessel or an alternative convoy escort vessel. It mounts some weapons (possibly a few capital scale and some point defense starfighter scale). But its main weapon are its starfighters which should be used both for attack and to defend the carrier.


Quote:
I prefer to use Rate of Fire restrictions as a function of technology, not crew skill.
I didn't mean to imply that the low rate of fire was due to crew skill. Only to point out that a difference in rate of fire between military and armed merchant men is in line with historical precedent.

Quote:
Maybe drop 1D from hull and from shields. And assume the good sensors are part of the upgrade.

That works. In loose terms, the stock version would give up all cargo capacity and its heavier weapons, with the remaining space taken up by starfighter bays, stronger shields and better sensors. Fair trade.[/quote]Works for me.
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PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2017 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
Maybe I was unclear but you seem to be agreeing with me rather than taking issue with what I said. Here's what I was trying to say.

Imagine 3 versions for different purposes. Version 1 is the basic bulk cruiser.

    Version 1: Standard Bulk Cruiser equivalent to a British East Indiaman. Carries lots of cargo. Mounts a limited number of (outdated) capital scale weapons to protect it from other, smaller or weaker capital ships.

    Version 2: Armed Convoy escort, it too can carry cargo but instead of mounting capital scale weapons it carries starfighter scale weapons to protect it (and adjacent vessels) from piratical (and Rebel) starfighters.

    Version 3: Cruiser Carrier it carries starfighters. This is either a Rebel vessel or an alternative convoy escort vessel. It mounts some weapons (possibly a few capital scale and some point defense starfighter scale). But its main weapon are its starfighters which should be used both for attack and to defend the carrier.
My disagreement was more that I'm picturing the stock Bulk Cruiser as a combination of 1 and 2, with a mix of Capital- and Starfighter-Scale weapons to give it a more rounded defense (since it lacks any starfighter capacity), but in numbers more comparable to a corvette or light frigate, in addition to being low in individual quality (basic, single barrel turbolasers and laser cannon). The Version 3 would be the Alliance variant, where upgrading the weapons required stripping out all the Capital-Scale weaponry just to install effective anti-starfighter defenses (modern quad-lasers). Since the ship is not supposed to be a front-line warship in the first place, it would likely hover outside the battle zone (or stay with a convoy) and send its fighters out to do battle. If an enemy capital ship gets too close, it jumps to lightspeed while it can, and then its fighter group (all hyper-capable in Alliance service) jump out to rendezvous with it.

Not an ideal solution, but that's what the Alliance would have to work with.

Quote:
I didn't mean to imply that the low rate of fire was due to crew skill. Only to point out that a difference in rate of fire between military and armed merchant men is in line with historical precedent.

But historically, wouldn't rate of fire be based solely on the ability of the crew to rapidly reload, in that a more experienced crew could reload a cannon more quickly and thus get off more shots? IMO, using lower Crew Skill numbers instead of capping Rate of Fire seems more in line with this.
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Bren
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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2017 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
Quote:
I didn't mean to imply that the low rate of fire was due to crew skill. Only to point out that a difference in rate of fire between military and armed merchant men is in line with historical precedent.

But historically, wouldn't rate of fire be based solely on the ability of the crew to rapidly reload, in that a more experienced crew could reload a cannon more quickly and thus get off more shots? IMO, using lower Crew Skill numbers instead of capping Rate of Fire seems more in line with this.
Yes, rate of fire for Napoleonic ships was based on crew skill which was predominantly based on repetitive live fire exercises. Yes, crew skill numbers could be used to simulate that though I think you still want a ROF cap so highly skilled characters don't fire cannon's like they are automatic weapons.

But my original point was that nonmilitary craft having capital scale weapons that are heavy hitting but slow in ROF mirrors historical precedent. Regardless of crew skill numbers I like the idea that armed nonmilitary vessels might have weapons with lower ROF. The reason for the lower ROF for Star Wars vessels is technological (like what we see with the Rebel Assault Frigiate) not crew based. Crew skill is a separate issue. Logically armed nonmilitary vessels are unlikely to have gunnery skills on par with military vessels. Of course there are exceptions like privateers and pirates.

Crew skills really should come in several levels* which we don't quite see in the WEG ship write ups.

Something like this would probably work for my needs.
    Untrained 2D
    Green 3D
    Average/professional 4D
    Veteran 5D
    Elite 6D

Folks who run campaigns with very high skill levels may want to increase the die codes for the upper two or possibly three levels. But it is worth keeping in mind that these are average skill levels for ship crews and often for the crews of capital ships. Average skills for hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of crew members exceeding 4D would be extremely rare, difficult to justify logically and logistically.

For example the crew sizes for Star Destroyers probably mean that most SDs would at best have Professional level skills.
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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bren wrote:
Yes, rate of fire for Napoleonic ships was based on crew skill which was predominantly based on repetitive live fire exercises. Yes, crew skill numbers could be used to simulate that though I think you still want a ROF cap so highly skilled characters don't fire cannon's like they are automatic weapons.

But my original point was that nonmilitary craft having capital scale weapons that are heavy hitting but slow in ROF mirrors historical precedent. Regardless of crew skill numbers I like the idea that armed nonmilitary vessels might have weapons with lower ROF. The reason for the lower ROF for Star Wars vessels is technological (like what we see with the Rebel Assault Frigiate) not crew based. Crew skill is a separate issue. Logically armed nonmilitary vessels are unlikely to have gunnery skills on par with military vessels. Of course there are exceptions like privateers and pirates.

That's reasonable enough; weaponry available to civilian ships wouldn't be likely to have the latest technology as recharge rates and power supply. I'd be more inclined to go with a Fire Rate of 1, though, rather than 1/3. IMO, 1/3 is just too limiting to be usable. I might consider 1/2 depending on the number of cannon the ship ends up with. A bulk cruiser with 24 turbo lasers with a 1/2 rate of fire could alternate rates and fire half the cannon in one round. On paper, it would look impressive, but the reality would leave something to be desired.

Quote:
Crew skills really should come in several levels* which we don't quite see in the WEG ship write ups.

Something like this would probably work for my needs.
    Untrained 2D
    Green 3D
    Average/professional 4D
    Veteran 5D
    Elite 6D

Folks who run campaigns with very high skill levels may want to increase the die codes for the upper two or possibly three levels. But it is worth keeping in mind that these are average skill levels for ship crews and often for the crews of capital ships. Average skills for hundreds, thousands, even tens of thousands of crew members exceeding 4D would be extremely rare, difficult to justify logically and logistically.

For example the crew sizes for Star Destroyers probably mean that most SDs would at best have Professional level skills.

WEG included something to that effect in the 1E Rules Companion, but it morphed into the Crew Skills section on the stat block. Because all the 2E stats have base crew skill values, I'd be more inclined to go with a modifier chart, along the lines of:
    Untrained -2D
    Green -1D
    Average +0
    Professional +1D
    Veteran +2D
    Elite +3D

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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2017 2:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CRMcNeill wrote:
I'd be more inclined to go with a Fire Rate of 1, though, rather than 1/3. IMO, 1/3 is just too limiting to be usable. I might consider 1/2 depending on the number of cannon the ship ends up with. A bulk cruiser with 24 turbo lasers with a 1/2 rate of fire could alternate rates and fire half the cannon in one round. On paper, it would look impressive, but the reality would leave something to be desired.
1/2 is nice since the math is simpler than 1/3; you only have to remember "did I fire last round or not?"*

Quote:
WEG included something to that effect in the 1E Rules Companion, but it morphed into the Crew Skills section on the stat block. Because all the 2E stats have base crew skill values, I'd be more inclined to go with a modifier chart, along the lines of:
    Untrained -2D
    Green -1D
    Average +0
    Professional +1D
    Veteran +2D
    Elite +3D
You could use that. Certainly simpler if you use the existing stats. Since I tend to revise the capital ship stats of most WEG ships revising the crew block is no big deal.


* "You're probably thinking did he fire last round or not? Well to tell you the truth in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But being this is a DBY-827, the most powerful turbolaser in the galaxy and would blow your bridge clean off, you've gotta ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do ya, punk?"
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