Droning On...

Supplementary Spacecraft

Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 11:09 AM


There are many good places for drones. Does it make sense to separate them? That is, thruster drones are stored here; sensor drones go there; gunnery drones live over in that place.

Otherwise, I'd say that the best location might be on the bottom of the middle deck. Probably an armored box of some sort, with bay doors on the bottom, that swing open to reveal them all sitting in launch and service racks. I'd imagine that smaller doors for personnel would be present on this box, so in-flight maintenance would be performed; though most servicing would happen between flights, and probably by a third-party company that would come out with a big boat that has a refuel tank, human mechanics, and service bots. The owner of a fleet of Tottenbergs would contract to have such service performed before each flight, in prescribed star systems.

As for what the drones look like, I'd imagine that the thruster drones would be like smaller versions of the swivel mounted side thrusters, but maybe surrounded by three or four small, rounded fuel tanks; they don't need much fuel, since they fire very intermittently.

The sensor drones can be weenie little things, probably narrow and largely featureless, sporting cameras for visible and other types of light; radar; lidar; graviton; and a wide range of laser telemetry sensors. Spaced around the exterior of the ship and container box, and networked with the drones of any other Tottenbergs that are also pulling the box, and the collective crews would have a fairly complete picture of the space around them at any given moment. This info would be compared with outside data provided by the navigation buoys in a settled star system, plus the latest updates from the local Orbital Control offices, and the flight would be continually updated with current information.

Weapon drones would probably be encased in little armored domes of their own, which could open, clamshell-like, when they need to be deployed. I'd think there would be a mix of neutral particle guns (or neupacs), and missile cylinders. The neupacs would plug into predefined locations, so as to draw power from the engines of one or more of the ships, as fed through power conduits in the boxes. Then again, maybe they can run off super-efficient and capacious batteries.

The neupacs, themselves, can look like anything you'd prefer, ranging from unexceptional cylinders, up to fanciful ray guns. Missile packs could be mounted inside their clamshell domes in rounded canisters, oblong boxes, or exposed frameworks, depending upon the manufacturer.

By international law, civilian missile systems cannot be reloadable by the end-user; that is, no belt-fed contraptions, or automatic missile pack replacement equipment. Missiles can only be provided and installed/uninstalled by licensed and bonded civilian ordinance dealers, who fly out to the individual ships and handle that for a fee.

Everything costs money, regarding ships. Ships that aren't flying aren't making any, so all they do is bleed cash. Older ships break down more often, and end up making less and less money for their owners, until they are no longer considered to be viable pieces of company equipment. They then get sold to used vehicle and scrapyard dealers (really scrap orbit dealers, but you get the idea), and this is how and where the player characters encountered the Tottenberg in the playtest game.

You know, I think I love this logical, process-related, back-and-forth conversation as much as the actual images! Once we're done, and with your kindly permission, I'd like to collect our correspondence, and put together an essay illustrating the process of creation for this ship and it's imagery. Would that be okay with you?