Choosing and tweaking a starship is an important part of every Star Wars RPG campaign. Han Solo had his Millennium Falcon, Boba Fett had Slave I, Luke Skywalker traveled with an X-Wing, and most probably your group of characters will need their signature vehicle, too. Unfortunately, there is a bit of a gap in the area of 1-2 persons crafts that are capable of a longer hyperspace travel in decent conditions. I will try to list and compare the options we have as of December 2018.
Sure, you can get YT-1300, we’ve all seen its interior in SW: A New Hope, but it is a large ship – all those corridors, cabins, wardrobe and the common room – a bit too much for one or two:
Darth Maul had a nice craft on a first glance:
But if you look closer, hell, it is a 27 meters long double-decker with 6 PAX capability:
Both of them are silhouette 4. What we are looking for is something smaller, a silhouette 3, more difficult to spot, easier to hide, but a bit larger than the Y-Wing, so you could stretch your legs, get a good night sleep, maybe have a shower, and stock consumables that would last for a longer hyperspace journey. And to be able to have a guest on board.
While browsing through the Star Wars RPG index here, I’ve found four suitable crafts that I will focus on today: Incom A-24 Sleuth-Class Scout Ship, HWK-290 Light Freighter, Wander-Class Jump Freighter and KSE Rho-1 Limulus-Class Courier.
Wander-Class Jump Freighter
Manufactured by Mon Calamari Shipyards, these smooth lined ships have a reputation of being practical and affordable. On the market since the Clone Wars, they have been built specifically to compete with HWK-290 Light Freighter, and were quite popular when released. There is still a number of them flying, however maintenance tends to be a hell, as every one of them is practically handmade, with little to no documentation, which makes finding proper spare parts an adventure on its own.
Incom A-24 Sleuth-Class Scout Ship
Light, one-person reconnaissance ship built for stealth and speed. Introduced during the Rise of the Empire era and widely popular during Galactic Civil War. Elegant craft, offers excellent view through the panoramic windows as well as through its powerful sensor suite.
HWK-290 Light Freighter
This aggressively looking starship, designed decades before the Battle of Naboo, was the attempt to break into the executive light freighter market. Targeted at wealthy, high-profile clients such as planetary governments or wealthy merchants, enjoyed modest success and was highly praised for its performance and ease of operation. The entire line was discontinued during the Clone Wars to free up production lines for military use.
KSE Rho-1 Limulus-Class Courier
Common courier ship used by the Jedi during the final years of the Old Republic.
Limulus-class is a small, fast craft designed to move the crew and one passenger in safety and comfort. Back in their days they were common, especially in the Core region, but now a rare sight.
Which one then?
I will try to compare them in several categories that I think are essential:
- Carrying capabilities
- Speed and maneuverability
- Combat worthiness
- Customizability and price
Of course, those opinions are just mine. If you have some comments or disagree in any point, feel free to comment under the post, and I will be happy to discuss.
All of the crafts presented are capable of carrying one or two passengers over extended periods of time. Usually it is 3 months, for Limulus-Class it is reduced to 1 month. Crew of one pilot and one copilot is a standard, with the exception of A-24, which requires only one person to fully operate (however there is a place for an astromech, so you can get your co-pilot benefits), and Wander-Class, that assumes the crew of 3, adding on-board engineer.
Only HWK-290 and Wander-Class offer any notable cargo carrying capabilities, with respectively 75 and 50 encumbrance units available. A-24 has a hold sized for 20 units, while the Limulus-Class is able to carry only 6 units of cargo.
It is hard to point out a definite winner in this category, as it heavily depends on a mission. Additionally, I personally would avoid ship that would require 3 persons to operate in standard conditions, as it would be a little crowdy there in a silhouette 3 hull.
Speed and maneuverability
All ships listed are of course hyperspace capable, but only A-24 is factory equipped with Class 1 hyperdrive, with the rest sporting a decent Class 2. Backup hyperdrive is not provided in HWK-290. Limulus-Class, HWK-290 and A-24 are reasonably fast, with maximum sublight speed of 4, while Wander-Class is a little behind, with a maximum speed of 3.
When it comes to maneuverability, only HWK-290 and A-24 have a Handling of +1, with the rest of the lot offering no Handling modifier. This parameter is important, especially when using The Snap-Roll action house rules (I highly recommend those for vehicle combat, and they will get the separate article here soon). The reason for the stressed importance is the fact that there are no mods or attachments that can upgrade your Handling in a starship. You can upgrade or rebuild engines to get more speed, you can upgrade or replace hyperdrive, but the maneuverability can get only worse with some attachments, but never better.
Taking all that into the account, the leader in this category is clearly A-24, with its factory provided hyperdrive, good sublight speed and extra maneuverability.
Depending on a type of campaign and the primary purpose of the vehicle, this might be a very important section, or a completely irrelevant one.
Judging the offensive capabilities, only HWK-290 comes with no primary weapon, but you can use the extra Hard Points ship has to offer and some cash to sort it out quickly. For the rest of the lot you can either go with what is provided – which should be enough for self defense – or rebuild it with something stronger (remember that you can install weaponry with Linked rating up to 3 in a silhouette 3 craft).
When it comes to defense, all the crafts are pretty lightly armored, with a rating of 2 for the Wander-Class, A-24 and HWK-290, and a rating of 1 for Limulus-Class. Yes, the latter is basically a tin foil, expect a lot of those “no step” signs here and there. The shields are comparable, providing a coverage of 1, with A-24 securing the slightly worse position than the others by having only frontal defense.
Last, but not least, the Hull Threshold and System Strain: HWK-290 and Wander-Class can take quite a beating, with HT respectively 18 and 17 it takes approximately 4 average shots to bring it down. For Limulus-Class with HT of 15 that would be 3 shots, and only two average shots for A-24, with HT of 10. But once again, you can play through 20 adventures and never get shot, so your mileage may vary.
Summarizing, HWK-290 would get the first place here, for most HT combined with extra maneuverability that would allow to reduce one more damage point when snap-rolling. It’s offensive potential comes at an extra cost, however, which will be discussed next.
Customizability and price
When comparing the prices and the Hard Points we will try to establish some baseline we aim for, to compare apples with apples.
That would be:
- Class 1 hyperdrive,
- one weapon,
- a sublight speed of 4.
A-24 ships in a configuration that you do not need to tinker with to achieve the goal, so the price of the set would be 45000 credits, with decent availability of 6. You have all the 3 Hard Points for future upgrades.
For HWK-290 one has to add:
- Light Laser Cannon, for 5500 credits and 1 HP
- Hyperdrive generator, reducing the hyperdrive rating to 1, for a cost of 6400 credits and 1 HP
Resulting in a total cost of 70000 credits base (with availability of 7) and 11900 credits in extras, ending up with a total of 81900 credits and 3 Hard Points left. Still, no backup hyperdrive. There is a workaround for that, but requires well equipped workshop and a skilled mechanic. And much more credits, so we will leave it now, and go back to this in a future posts.
In Wander-Class the following modifications would be necessary:
- Hyperdrive generator, reducing the hyperdrive rating to 1, for 6400 credits and 1 HP
- High-Output Ion Turbine, upgrading the sublight max speed to 4 at a cost of 5500 credits, 1 HP and a permanent loss of 1 System Strain point (not a problem, as there is still 16 left)
This leaves us with 65000 credits base cost (availability 6), and 11900 credits in upgrades, total of 76900 credits and 2 Hard Points left.
Limulus-Class requires only a hyperdrive generator to reduce the hyperdrive rating to 1, and it costs 6400 credits and eats up 1 HP. The cost is 55000 credits for a base ship (with quite high availability of 8, but it depends heavily on the moment on the timeline you will play at) and 6400 for the upgrade, giving a total of 61400. And in this case you will end up with only 1 Hard Point for future upgrades.
Comparing that, A-24 is a clear winner. You can almost have two of them in the cost of comparably configured HWK-290 or Wander-Class, with 3 Hard Points available. With all the cash saved you can configure a pretty nice ship for the money. Of course, it will not be a sturdy fighter, if you do not maneuver well, two hits and you are gone. It will not be a cargo hauler as well, so if you need those few extra crates of things with you, then you need to think about something else.
As for the second place, I would go with HWK-290 – it is just slightly more expensive than Wander-Class, but leaves you with 3 HP instead of 2 HP.
The last place for Limulus-Class for the availability and only 1 HP left at the end of the process.
All four builds have their pros and cons. If money is an issue, go for A-24, but then your piloting skill becomes essential so you are not being hit too often, and you’ll have to pack tight. If you think about some heavier action or have some more treasure chests on you, go with HWK-290 or Wander-Class. If you are playing in the Jedi era, Limulus-Class will be just fine.
Of course, on top of everything, make sure you like the looks of it and the overall feeling. It is your ship, and it should please you in a first place.