Monday, January 13, 2014

Space Truckin'

A lot of cargo is shipped around the Strange Stars. While multi-purpose freighter/transport ships care smaller and specialized cargo, specialized container craft handle the bulk of interplanetary trade, making the routine system and hyperspace runs. These craft are called haulers.

Haulers are stripped down vessels designed to carry standardized shipping containers. They're basically a bridge, a slender body for the attachment of containers and engines. Haulers have minimal crews; often just one pilot and a low sentient support ai. Shorter runs may be completely automated.

Typical hauler design

Perhaps due to the extended periods of isolation, hauler pilots are an eccentric lot, even compared to other spacers. Most haulers have simple sim equipment, and many pilots engage in a thriving trade in low res bootleg sims. Haulers use special data protocols to stay in contact with each other over their official communication channels. Underground hauler chatter is a good source of information about special custom checks or gossip on other hyperspace travelers, if one has a good translation program for their argot.

12 comments:

Jack said...

For the inevitable space truckin' minigame: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/31481/galaxy-trucker

Gus L said...

Man I would totally play a space trucker based on the trucker and ape companion movies/tv shows of the 70's...a bit specific perhaps, but I enjoy the dregs of culture a fair bit.

Trey said...

@Gus - Why not a uplifted ape and his human companion? ;)

@Jack - Whoa. Not just space truckers, but galaxy truckers.

garrisonjames said...

10-4 Good buddy. We're Eastbound and down...

This could be a ton of fun!

seaofstarsrpg said...

There is always early Ace Trucking Company for inspiration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ace_Trucking_Co.

Trey said...

@garrisonjames - You've got the lingo down.

@seastarsrpg - Awesome! I was unaware of that.

Gus L said...

@Trey - works for me, I always sorta say Han Solo and Chewbacca as a BJ & The Bear sort of thing. The key is that the trucker be big on the bare knuckle fifhting circuit.

Trey said...

I can dig it.

bombasticus said...

Come on and join our convoy . . . ain't nothin' gonna get in our way.

Love it. From a technobabble POV, why do long hauls require a live trucker? Does AI go HAL out there if left alone to run the calculations for too long, so the pilot is effectively a well trained pet taken along to preserve the ship's "sanity?" Or are there space union regs that mandate human intervention on certain runs? Some other reason?

Trey said...

@bombasticus - Good questions. I would assume some infosophonts (sapient ai) would do the job in some places. Societies controlled by biosophonts may have a bit of prejudice, though, and restrict it to humans/humanoids.

John Till said...

The RPG "Bulldogs!" does exactly this space truckers thing. The PCs are crew; together they create a captain, who is often an a-hole. It had a d20 edition, but the Fate version - which has excellent Stunts for creating aliens - is still in print: http://galileogames.com/bulldogs-fate/

Recommended.

garrisonjames said...

Re: The Lingo...I worked in shipping, receiving, warehousing and airfreight for many, many years. Been around truckers most of my life, even related to a few.

RE: Long Hauls. Any shipments managed by AI might be subject to all sorts of opportunistic spoofing, hacking and re-directing by smart hijackers and lazy pirates. Transponders, encrypted signals, all the usual security measures can be cracked or beaten with some time, money and know-how. Especially off-the-shelf stuff. Pirates can get their hands on the same catalogs, and buy from the same corporations as the shipping companies, often at a better discount.

Live Crews might be a sort of vestigial back-up or secondary decision-making sub-system. Maybe. Insurance companies are going to insist on some sort of piracy-prevention and/or counter-measures...unless they're playing both sides and there is some sort of economic incentive that actually encourages piracy (privateering, 'salvage,' whatever). Union rules might dictate the need to maintain a live crew on certain routes. Local regulations might specify the need for biological sophonts being present for religious reasons. People can get touchy about how things get moved or handled. But those are nitty-gritty setting details for you to sort out.