How you can you not have space travel in a space opera RPG? It's THE basic element that all space-RPGs require! What do you mean you need to get the expans--wha? What's that on the cover?
And then I saw it, and immediately I was in love...
Huminna-hummina! It's called the Explorer, and it's basically a futuristic monster truck. Sort of like the A-Team van but with bigger wheels and lasers! And who can resist the striping?!
I immediately saw potential here for a class of ground vehicle that was more robust and rugged than an ordinary rover. I did some digging and before long I'd come up with not one, but TWO concepts for non-hovering, heavy ground vehicles. These are rough concepts at this point, so I won't go into stat specifics in this post.
So, I think the Explorer is a good start, but I see it belonging to a bigger family of planetary excursion vehicles. Something monstrous, but still dedicated to it's primary purpose: exploring. I call it the Moon Wagon.
The primary mission of a moon wagon is exploration. It may also serve scientific, reconnaissance, and survivalist missions. They provide excellent protection from harsh planetary environments and are considered a cross between a mobile headquarters and the Conestoga wagon of yesteryear. Moon Wagon's are built to endure harsh climes and terrain and come in a variety of configurations employing either axeled drive (two wheels per axel), can be fit with independent wheel drives so each wheel moves independently, or a combination thereof. In addition, MW class vehicles adhere to the following criteria:
- General purpose and complement: exploration, scientific, and engineering purposes; boast scientific instrumentation, cargo/personnel focused
- The fewer the axles, the bigger the tires
- If axel powered, Moon Wagons have a minimum of 2 axles (with a 2-wheel minimum per axel), however 3 axels (with a 6-wheel minimum) are more common
- Moon Wagons must always have some wheels, caterpillar treads are okay, but at least one axle or wheel pair is required to keep classification
- Moon Wagons often employ external accessories like robotic arms, construction implements (buldozer blades, drills, etc.) sensor modules, communications arrays, etc., or combination thereof for general use in many mission types
- Moon Wagons may have some external weaponry, but they may not bristle with weapons as warfare is not their primary function
The other main ground vehicle type is, as you've probably already guessed, the big guns. No reason to be coy here, it's a @#$! Space Tank!
Heavily armored and armed, Space Tanks or "Spanks" as they're called by the grunts who operate them, are ground force artillery vehicles dedicated to offensive/defensive campaigns. Strictly speaking, spanks "bring the pain" on a given battlefield and adhere to the following guidelines:
- UPDATE: Built for heavy combat situations, Space Tanks are always equipped with two pieces of equipment: an obvious, primary weapon and extremely durable--if not outright heavy--armor plating
- Spanks have limited space for cargo and crew, most interior space is dedicated to housing artillery, ordinance, and mission critical personnel
Spanks must always have treads, an axle or use of independently powered wheels are acceptable, but at least one caterpillar is required to keep the classification(BigTrak would seem to break this rule! Also, the Mako from Mass Effect is quite obviously a tank, where it had previously been classified as a Moon Wagon)
- UPDATE: Space Tanks may be wheeled or use treads
- Obvious communications and sensors are kept to a minimum, but a variety of defensive accessories such as bulldozer blades, drills, etc. may be added as long as they serve the vehicle's primary mission
- UPDATE: Both vehicle classes must be able to operate in an absence of atmosphere (vacuum), hence required pressurized/sealed life support systems
- Cross-over designs should be avoided to alleviate any confusion
- Either class may use a variety of chasis sizes and power plants to serve their specific mission types
- Either may have on-board robotic pilots, and may be controlled remotely, but should not act as unmanned vehicles or robotic rovers (these are separate classifications)
- Both Space Tanks and Moon Wagons may act as personnel carriers or increase cargo space, but sacrifice some of their primary components to do so (i.e., a MWs carry lighter, scientific equipment, STs carry less ammunition and possibly fewer weapons).
- All ground vehicles will have 1980s color-coordinated striping, this is non-negotiable
Neither class includes the following vehicle types:
- Urban vehicles or assault craft (often appearing with 3 axels but serve different functions)
- Limbed vehicles
- Robotic drones or rovers