The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition)

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Reviewed by: Ron McClung

The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition) is a new RPG Supplement from Gypsy Knights Games.

Up front, starship building is not my favorite thing to do in a sci-fi game.  It’s one of my least favorite things to do.  A ship is a means to an end, something that gets you from adventure point A to adventure point B.  I like to focus on the characters and the story and not the means of transportation.  There were times where I made the ship basically another character the players had to deal with, but the overall design of the ship really did not matter.

That said, I went into this review with a little trepidation.  Traveller and games of its line tend to be a little too hard science for my tastes, especially when it comes to starships.  I never really saw the reason for this. In my view, when you go into space combat, you are basically turning a story-based RPG to a turn-based miniature game.  Why would you do that?  But apparently some people don’t feel like it is true sci-fi without some kind of ship builders guide and a means to build their own ship.

On the flipside of this, admittedly sci-fi would not be sci-fi without cool spaceships and all the trappings that go along with them.  So I don’t fault people that wants some level of detail in that area in their game.  I can see the appeal of designing a detailed ship that is prepared for anything the GM throws at them, as much as I can see the appeal of building a character that is prepared for anything the GM throws at them.  If I treat it much like another character in the game, I can understand the attraction.

From page #3: Ranging from tiny ten tonne work pods to massive armored system defense monitors, the space ships of Clement Sector are as varied as the crews that operate them.

This is the 2nd Edition of The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture, meaning it is a part of the conversation away from the Mongoose Traveller system and into the Samardan Press Cepheus Engine. The Clement Sector is essentially a Tech Level (TL) 12 small ship setting. The major difference between this setting and base Cepheus Engine/classic Traveller is the Zimm Drive.  This drive is a quantum entanglement device allowing FTL travel.  It limits starships to an absolute maximum of 5000 tonnes.  It is extremely rare to find in-system vessels displacing more than 20,000 tonnes.  However, computer technology has advanced slightly higher and some ships systems allow for TL 13 technology.

At the foundation of spacecraft construction is a hull.  Into the hull are fitted various things like Zimm and maneuver drives, the power plant, the fuel tanks, accommodation for the crew, as well as various electronic systems (computers, sensors and control).  Other components can also be optionally fitted including armaments, defensive systems, and others based on the intended function of the ship.  Building a ship is all about the Displacement Tonnage or Tonnage for short (dT).  The total tonnage of the installed fittings cannot exceed the tonnage of the hull.

From page #3: Both adventure class ship and capital ships can be designed using this publication.

Starting with a Hull, I decided to make a simple freighter like the Firefly or the Millennium Falcon.  Once I had a hull chosen, I moved on to the drive systems.  After the drive systems, the Zimm drive is installed.  With the Zimm drives limitation, to be a useful multi-system freighter I had to keep it simple.  The hard part is really translating the visual to the numbers.  The examples in the back gave you an idea of some 4 crew ships in the range of 100 and 300, so it is simple enough to stay small and still have an interstellar drive.   You can customize the hull between 3 types – standard, streamlined, or distributed – and a few sub-types within those types.  Drive and power systems are next, influenced by concept as well as hull size.

Following the basic hull and structure of the ship as well as the engineering options, there are several steps to follow that including armor, various reinforcement options, and the like.  Once all that is chosen, the Main Compartment is designed.  This include the bridge, computer systems, staterooms, and other internal as well as external components.  Do you include a secondary bridge?  Do you harden the bridge?  What kind of sensors and communication arrays do you need? Basic Civilian, Military or other specialized types?  What I like about this part of it is the variety.  This is where you get a good feel for the guts of your ship.  The barracks, the sleep-pods like in Aliens (called Low Passage Berths), the briefing room, and the galley are all options to throw in your ship.   It really feels like they considered everything.  Equipping your ship with these options in like equipping a character.

Of course, what is a ship without weapons.  Space is big but it is also dangerous and you can always count on some factions within humanity prey on the weaker targets.  So you can go without weapons, but it would be very dangerous.  You have choices for point defense systems, turret/barbette weapons, bay weapons and spinal mounts.  The Falcon had your basic point defense weapons, while I am not even sure if the Firefly had any.  Ships in the Rocinante from The Expanse had torpedos as well as point defense.

Lasers are the most common weapons but there are also missiles, torpedoes and railguns as well.   The Spinal weapons are the biggies – Meson and Particle cannons are the big dogs of the neighborhood.  Shields or Screens – defenses – are also a big part of the section.  Does your ship include smaller craft, hangar bays, or cargo space?  That’s the next step.  Following this, is the crew requirements are determined. This is where the personality of your ship comes in.

In conclusion,  this is a very comprehensive sourcebook for those that like to focus on the details of the party’s starship.  While it traditionally is not something I entirely focus on, I can appreciate the level of detail this book presents.  It makes it fun and detailed.  And it is very easy to follow.  I highly recommend this book for those that are looking to start a ship-oriented campaign.  The art also adds a lot to the feel of the sourcebook.  Of course the ships are cool but I love the internal shots as well. 

For more details on Gypsy Knights Games and their The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition) check them out at their website, and at all of your local game stores.

Codex Rating: 19 out of 20

Product Summary

The Anderson and Felix Guide to Naval Architecture (2nd Edition)

From: Gypsy Knights Games

Type of Game: RPG Supplement

Written by:  Michael Johnson

Artists: Ian Stea, Bradley Warnes, Sam Harvey, Fotolia: Crom

Cover Layout and A&F Logo: Stephanie McAlea

Book Layout: Ian Stead

Editor: Curtis Rickman

Number of Pages: 150

Game Components Included: One PDF

Game Components Not Included: Core Rulebooks


Reviewed by: Ron McClung