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Starship Speeds in the Marvel Super Heroes Game

Originally published by David Edward Martin in Dragon Magazine # 159.

Role-playing in the MARVEL SUPER HEROES game is not restricted to having your heroes battle evil on Earth. Many of the greatest triumphs of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and the X-Men have occurred in outer space. Why not take your campaign to the stars, too?

But before you can go adventuring into the far-flung reaches of the universe, you first need a way to get there. A variety of means to reach the stars exists, from personal fight using superpowers to the use of external or mechanical means. Some examples of spacefaring methods include:

SLOWER THAN LIGHT (STL) DRIVES: STL ships can reach speeds up to that of light. If such a ship is inteded for interstellar flight, it may be equipped with suspended animation chambers or a life-support system capable of sustaining passengers for years or centuries.

FASTER THAN LIGHT (FTL) DRIVES: FTL ships are capable of exceeding lightspeed, but they still travel in "realspace".

ADVANCED FTL DRIVES: Better engines enable advanced FTL starships to attain speeds 10 times faster than normal FTL drives.

WARPDRIVE: Warpdrive ships are capable entering hyperspace and thus attaining FTL speed. Warpdrive ships might be limited to STL flight in normal space.

ADVANCED WARPDRIVE: Better warp generators enable a starship to travel at speeds 100 times faster than can be achieved by normal warpdrives.

TELEPORTATION: Instantaneous travel across the universe for individuals or small loads is possible with this power.

STARGATE: A stargate uses a form of teleportation. A fixed-location device (the gate) instantaneously teleports an entire spacecraft to another stargate. Stargates are assumed to be rare, being so powerful.

The type of stardrive determines its speed range. The power rank number determines its basic speed value, which is then mulitplied by the standard modifier for that class of travel. Table 1 shows the basic starship types and their speed for the MARVEL SUPER HEROES game.

IN THE WINK OF AN EYE

Stargates and teleportation systems and powers enable travelers to instantaneously cross long distances. Travel time is limited by the amount of time it takes to make each jump and the number of jumps necessary to cover the desired distance. Most teleportation systems are designed to handle individuals or small loads. They may be placed on planetary surfaces or built into spacecraft of any sort.

Stargates are immense portals capable of handling entire starships; these devices often appear to be titanic doors or hoops miles across. Objects must be able to physically pass through a stargate in order to use it. Starships can be moving at sublight speed when they use a stargate, although the ship must be piloted very accurately. The Shi'ar are the primary users of stargates; they maintain a network of them through the universe, including one within 10 lightdays from Earth. At this time, the gates are heavily guarded at the Shi'ar ends.

A portable stargate was left in Manhattan by Shi'ar agent Davan Shakari. This stargate is currently powerless and thus can only receive travelers. However, it can be made operational by a power source of at least Shift-X intensity (for example, Firelord's cosmic powers). This stargate's existence is known to the X-Men, Firelord, Lilandra, Misty Knight, and Jean Grey's parents. Although it was last seen on the roof of Misty Knight's apartment, the current location of the stargate is unknown. Unless the stargate is reprogrammed, it will send any user to the unnamed world within the Shi'ar Empire that holds the M'Krann Crystal. This barren world is normally uninhabited. This stargate can be reprogrammed by an Incredible Reason FEAT.

NATURAL SPACEWARPS

The structure of the Marvel Comics' universe is riddled with spacewarps. These function as interdimensional tunnels that enable any ship capable of FTL flight to swiftly cross enormous distances in even less time than usual. Earth is near one of the largest junctions of spacewarps in the universe, crossroads for half the known starfaring races. This is one of the reasons why Earth keeps attracting so many space travelers. Known warps include several linking Earth with various points in the Andromeda galaxy and one to the Kree Empire in the Greater Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way galaxy.

YOUR OWN STARSHIP

The MARVEL SUPER HEROES Advanced Set contains the basic procedure for building your own starship. It takes an Amazing Reason FEAT to design a stardrive capable of FTL flight. The Resource FEAT is Shift-X rank for a basic FTL ship, higher for a more advanced model.

Sometimes a powerful energy source can be used to modify an STL ship to FTL speeds. One such example was the use of Thor's Mjolnir to propel a Quinjet between the stars. Such an energy source must be of at least Unearthly rank, and the ship to be so modified must have at least an STL drive.

Starships can also be directly gained by a variety of means, proper and improper. Ships may be recovered if abandoned, stolen from their owners, or rebuilt from parts scavenged from damaged vessels. Terrans kidnapped by aliens might overthrow their captors and seize the aliens' ship for themselves. A starfaring race may present a Terran with a starship as a gift or a reward, such as when Prince Dezan gave a Skrull starship to the Fantastic Four. If all else fails, travelers can always try buying a starship, assuming your PCs can find one for sale.

Tables 2-4 can also be used to quickly generate a starship with a few rolls of the dice. Table 4 determines the number of typical humanoids that can be kept alive by the life-support system, allowing at least one chair or berth for each potential passenger. If a cargo ship is desired, subtract 1-10 crew-beings and multiply the remaining number of passengers by 200 lbs. to get the starship's cargo limit.

TABLE 1
STARSHIP TYPES AND SPEEDS

Speed (in multiples of lightspeed)
Rank.....FTL.......A-FTL........Warp......A-Warp
FE...........2...........20.............200..........20 K
PR...........4............40.............400.........40 K
TY...........6............60.............600..........60 K
GD.........10.........100..............1 K........100 K
EX..........20.........200..............2 K........200 K
RM.........30.........300..............3 K........300 K
IN...........40.........400..............4 K........400 K
AM.........50.........500..............5 K........500 K
MN.........75.........750...........7.5 K........750 K
UN........100.........1 K............10 K............1 M
SHX......150......1.5 K............15 K.........1.5 M
SHY......200.........2 K............20 K............2 M
SHZ......500........5 K.............50 K............5 M
C1000....1 K......10 K..........100 K..........10 M
C3000...3 K.......30 K..........300 K..........30 M
C5000...5 K.......50 K..........500 K..........50 M

K=1,000
M= 1,000,000

TABLE 2
STARSHIP FLIGHT CATEGORY

1d100............Category
01-10.................STL
11-25.................FTL
26-45.................A-FTL
46-55.................STL/Warp
56-75.................FTL/Warp
76-85.................A-FTL/Warp
86-90.................STL/A-Warp
91-95.................FTL/A-Warp
96-00.................A-FTL/A-Warp

TABLE 3
STARSHIP SPEED RANKS

1d100...........Speed Rank
01-08...................FE
09-16...................PR
17-24...................TY
25-32...................GD
33-40...................EX
41-48...................RM
49-56...................IN
57-64...................AM
65-72...................MN
73-79...................UN
80-85...................Sh-X
86-90...................Sh-Y
91-94...................Sh-Z
95-97...................C1000
98-99...................C3000
00........................C5000

TABLE 4
STARSHIP PASSENGER LOADS

1d100.............Maximum Passenger Load
01-20...................1
21-60...................1-10
61-90...................1-100
91-99...................1-1,000
00........................1-10,000