For the second part of  starship design, we’ll be focusing on filling out the living, eating and washing facilities on deck 2. This is the largest deck of the ship and once it’s finished, the rest of it should fall into place with relative ease. The “Big Three” locations all ships need for their crew and passengers are: a place to sleep, a place to eat, and a place to,… clean up, after oneself. To begin, we’ll start with the overall look of deck 2, then move into sleeping, eating and restroom areas.

All Aboard

The one thing I noticed right away about my rough sketch from part 1, was its similarity to a boned fish; while this was unintentional, it illustrates how fluid  designing a starship can be, and because of that,  I decided to change the shape a little.

Deck 2 is the largest and most physically active section of the ship; the focal points on this deck being, the primary ship’s access area and troop living spaces.

I began by selecting the Hull, Sleek Silver mirrored polygon after right clicking on the Draw Hull button, a custom Snap setting of 5 foot, 1 snap square grid was created. Instead of the original, half moon shape, I decided to create a hull that was somewhat triangular in shape,  suggesting forward movement.  The deck was drawn next, by selecting the Deck, Lattice  mirrored polygon. The Snap for it was changed to a custom 5 foot, 5 snap square grid  so there would be a one foot gap between the edge of the hull and the deck. The   Bulkhead, Default 0.5′ was selected for the exterior and interior bulkheads and it followed the same Snap setting as the deck. In the picture to the right, the Deck Sheet has been hidden, as I found it visually easier to place bulkheads and symbols at this scale.

The custom snap settings were created by right- clicking the Grid button in the lower right part CC3s drawing window and selecting New…, then selecting 2d Rectangular and applying the settings needed.

The first render of the carrier was ridiculously over scaled (it was nearly 700 feet/210 meters long), and the drop ship place holders were the size of a small building (they should be closer to a city bus). Once the ship was rescaled to a more manageable size (pictured above, about 300 feet/91 meters long), it was time to decide on a starting point. Since all crew/troop entry happens at the “nose” on deck 2, I decided to start there, and branch off to the troop living spaces; the main corridor needs to accommodate 150+ people coming and going with the ship docked and the width was set  to 10 feet/3 meters.

 You want me to sleep where?

The main corridor and living areas on deck 2  on the working render (above) show a large, dormitory style, bay for troops  to sleep in, and the design of the ship called for marginal crew comfort, since they’d be living on board for weeks or months. This meant a modification was needed. I decided to separate the room with a wall; from a narrative standpoint this also adds to passenger safety: If a portion of the hull is breached the loss of life will be lessened. With the basic room layout complete furniture placement was the next step.

The rooms  numbered 1-4  show the progression of furniture placement:

Room 1 (left). This room had 7 single bunks, each with a gear locker, and 2 small chairs along the wall with a large table for a common area. This was a messy, cramped effort with little efficiency and a poor design.

Room 2 (left). 8 single bunks were placed toe to toe and the large table and two chairs were removed, in their place, 2 desks (for writing home) were added and the lockers were set along one wall. Less cramped, but room to improve.

The first two rooms also had the door exiting to the main hall; during an emergency or troop deployments, the hall would fill  quickly and confusion would run rampant. The doors for rooms 3 and 4 were moved to the side hall that accesses the drop ship dock area.

Room 3 (right).  The single bunks were moved to the outer walls, the lockers split the room and one table and chair for writing home was removed. Getting closer, but still a lot of wasted space.

Room 4 (right). Moved the single bunks to one end  of the room and the lockers to the other. A couch for lounging and 8 small chairs for dressing were added.  Better yet, the chairs suggest a wall that separates the sleeping/dressing areas. I also placed Deck, Plastic Irreg  for a little visual distinction.

The final room design was broken up into three spaces (below).  The sleeping area is separated from the common and dressing area by a wall (inspired by the chairs from room 4) . The single bunks were replaced with double bunks, increasing the occupant count from 8 to 12,  and scaled down to 95% of their original size.  While this room layout is cramped, it is a military ship after all, I feel that it is much improved from the poorly designed first layout. Once I was satisfied with the room layout I simply used the Mirrored Copies command (accessed by right clicking the Copy button) to quickly duplicate the rooms (Mirrored Copies is a great solution if you have symmetrical ships or buildings with rooms that need to be duplicated across a central point).

Using the method described above: creating a room, placing symbols and rearranging them for best use of space I then created:

The dining hall, details include (clockwise from tables and chairs) seating for 129 people, steam tables for serving food, a dishwasher, sinks, stove tops and ovens, a walk-in refrigerator and an elevator to travel to the storage area on deck 4 and the crew mess on deck 1.

Shower and toilet facilities for officers and enlisted personnel. The enlisted shower facility details include (clockwise from upper left) 8 showers, sinks and toilets, lockers and benches (created by stretching the rectangular table) The smaller officer’s bathroom and lounge were combined to conserve space. Drawing bathrooms is about as much fun as cleaning them for me, there’s no way to make showers and toilets interesting!



With the “big three” completed for deck 2 (pictured below), Deck, Plastic Irreg was added for all sleeping/common areas, by right clicking the Deck Plan button, to create visual interest and  to assist viewers with identifying different areas easily. Next time, we’ll be completing the remainder of deck 2’s amenities, including enlisted lounges, armory and firing range, officer quarters and ships operating systems, creating deck1, reviewing how to mirror copies, and the creative mixing of Cosmographer 3s symbols.

When I was 7-ish I walked into the living room where dad was watching a show about space ships, guys in primary colors and aliens, “What’s this?” “Star Trek, it’s about space.” he said, between the dialog. I  sat down next to him quietly, completely transfixed, I remember, at the time, feeling really special that he’d share this with me. I’ve been pretty lucky with my parents: Mom gave me my love of all things Fantasy and from dad, Science Fiction. Because of him I’ve always loved drawing starships; exteriors, interiors, odd angles, you name it I’ve put it on paper somewhere. I’d like to share with all of you my process of creating a starship deck plan and elevation cross section, from the initial idea of the pen and ink sketch to the final completed render. I’ll be documenting the good and the bad (and the design dead-ends) with the hope that it inspires others to share their designs as well.

A science fiction cornerstone for any grand space opera, is a well-designed and believable vehicle for your PCs. A good ship design should get an emotional reaction from everyone who sees it. If some minor planning takes place during the early stages of the design, your players will treat it like another character they encounter in their game: love it, hate it, mourn it when it’s gone. If you ignore a setting where your characters will spend a good portion of their campaign you risk the worst reaction of all: indifference.

Like every NPC, a well designed ship should (figuratively and literally) propel the plot forward while serving as a hub and safe haven; a place your players can catch their breaths and decide what action to take next. But, it should also fit into the story as well: Do you have a galaxy spanning mystery and need the best and brightest to solve it? A ship that encompasses human knowledge and understanding and aids its crew in accomplishing the mission at hand, like the Enterprise, fits the need nicely. What if your players discovered some unspeakable evil and a vehicle is needed to intensify the isolation and paranoia as they try and survive? The Ishimura (Dead Space) or Nostromo (Alien) are great examples of a design that works against the goals of its passengers. In the end, creating a good back story for your starship is as equally important as deciding where the engine and bridge belong.

What’s the need?

When it comes to designing a starship there are 3 basic roles that can describe any ship type you’ll need in your campaign:

1.       Ships that carry stuff/people/aliens

2.       Ships that look for stuff/people/aliens

3.       Ships that want to blow-up stuff/people/aliens

That’s not to say you can’t have a ship that does more than one role (like a spaceship that looks for stuff and blows up stuff) but, by focusing on a single role in the beginning your boat design will be easier to flesh-out. If you look at any modern naval ship, for a contemporary example, you’ll find that these three roles are often mixed; the United States’ Navy’s Wasp class amphibious assault ship performs each of these roles very well:

Move a lot of Marines into battle, quickly (carry people)

It’s a small(ish) aircraft carrier (blow up people/stuff)

Support search and rescue/humanitarian missions (look for stuff)

The original design goal, get Marines on the beach quickly and once there support them so they don’t get killed, defines the need; the secondary roles it.

The first question you should ask yourself is: What will I need this ship to do? I’ve posted some small ships on the forum that already cover the look for stuff / blow up stuff roles and now, for this post I want to try a smaller carry people role troop transport…

What’s the story?

The next step is filling in the back-story of your ship, and this can be as detailed or as sparse as you need and want. Since I know I’ll be designing and building a troop transport, I now have to ask: How will it do that?

The idea of a large box packed full of soldiers slowly de-orbiting and dodging anti-aircraft fire seems to me, representative of a WWI mindset (Just keep charging that trench, boys! Eventually their trigger fingers will cramp, then we got ‘em!). Once again, this is not a bad idea; it’s just not how I want to design this ship. I want a ship that’s more nimble, marginally concerned with passenger comfort and safety, and if some damage is taken, not doom everyone.

I’ll also need to consider how many troops will be carried on board, once I decide this, filling out the remaining ship’s crew will be easier. Since I’ve decided to make this a smaller, company sized, troop carrier (about 140 soldiers) I’ll need to determine how to get them to the battle field.

The final piece of this initial puzzle and the ship I’ll be designing is one that will get the drop ships to where they need to be. The (very rough) sketch to the left shows all the major details of the troop carrier, plus a few detail notes.  This drawing shows a four level transport with six drop ships that attach to it along a central corridor.

I like the image of fast entry orbital drop ships leaving trails of super-heated plasma as they tear through the sky, when they get to their LZ, anti-gravity engines kick in slowing their descent, the troops rushing out to meet their fates when they touch down.

I want to avoid the look of a modern aircraft carrier or the BSG, where ships are parked in an enormous internal hanger. If things get bad during an insertion and the hull is breached,… well, all hands lost. Part 2 will have us transfer the drawing into Cosmographer 3 and start to place points of interest like command and control, engineering, and living and work spaces.



Keep Calm


Map On