Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dealing in Absolutes

"Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes."

Well, that's what they say, anyway. But this post isn't actually about any of the moral or philosophical issues regarding this statement. Rather, it is about gaming within the Star Wars galaxy and my own theories regarding 'absolutes' within a campaign.

When I first started playing Star Wars, there wasn't anything CLOSE to a map of the Galaxy. About the closest you got in the original edition was a hyperspace time chart, showing how long it took to get from one planet to another. And even that was kind of vague. Though I am a huge lover of maps, I quickly 'got over it' in regards to Star Wars. In fact, it gave me a sense of freedom to not have anything really 'official' to go by. And honestly? It didn't matter where most things were in relation to each other as long as I had a vague notion of "It is a long way to such and such from such and such." Without an 'absolute' like a map, you could easily move things along at the speed of plot.

Eventually, though, some places did get mapped out—I did a map of the Minos Cluster when I found my people would be spending some time there. Then smaller sector maps began to appear in other gaming material. I think the first real 'official' map of the Galaxy came out with the novel Vector Prime. And to me? That map was a piece of crap. But...it was out there, and it eventually 'forced' me to do some revamping of my own, if only to have a sense of where things are in relation to other things. While part of me likes to have such things 'nailed down', another part kind of 'mourns' the freedom of not having to worry about it. It also seems to make the Galaxy seem somehow 'less huge'. And I think that, more than anything, is the reason I strive NOT to quantify certain things about the Star Wars galaxy.

But that isn't a battle I always win.

Such is the case with my recent obsession over the approximate fleet sizes of the various navies in the Star Wars galaxy in my current campaign. If it is difficult to grasp the hugeness of the Star Wars galaxy as a whole, it is likewise difficult to imagine just how many ships are out there. In settings like Star Trek, you're talking hundreds, maybe thousands of different 'named' ships per navy. In Star Wars, you're talking hundreds of thousands—at least. And yet, with my 'galactic war' scenario in full-swing, I find myself wanting to have at least a general idea of the numbers. But where do I even begin?

The only mention of actual number of ships in the RPG was regarding the Imperial Star Destroyer. The total number of ships of this class was stated as being 25,000. Wow. And to think that for each one of those, there are dozens or even hundreds of smaller vessels. That seemed to be a suitably 'huge' enough number for me, so I used that as the basis to kind of figure out the rest (using the Imperial Sourcebook to get an idea of the ratio of smaller ships to Imperial Star Destroyers). Considering my own campaign is many years PAST the original trilogy, and through several devastating wars (Thrawn campaign, Dark Empire, Nagai Invasion, etc.), I had to figure in both attrition and new construction into my numbers...and.. here is what I came up with:

I divide ships into seven main classes.

Fighters — Fighters, bombers and gunships (and possibly assault-shuttles)
Corvettes — Corellian Corvettes & Gunships, Light Customs Corvettes, IPVs, etc.
Frigates — Nebulon-B, Lancer, Galleon, etc.
Light Cruisers — Carrack, Strike, Escort-Carriers, etc.
Heavy Cruisers — Dreadnaught, Bulk, Acclamator, etc.
Battle Cruisers — Imperial, Venator, Mon-Cal, etc.
Flagships — Super Star Destroyers, etc.

So, of those various types, I came up with the following numbers to represent the total fleet strength found in the Galaxy. Of this strength, figure that 50% Are Republic aligned, 25% are Imperial aligned and the remaining 25% are scattered amongst various neutral powers (Corporate sector, Hutts, Pirates, etc.)

1,250,000 Fighters
100,000 Corvettes
100,000 Frigates
50,000 Light Cruisers
50,000 Heavy Cruisers
25,000 Battle Cruisers
25 Flagships

Note that many of these ships, especially of the Battle-Cruiser class, are ex-Imperial craft. Even with the Mon-Calamari shipyards and the new designs coming out after the fall of the Empire, the Imperial-class Star Destroyer and the older Venator-class (from the Episode III) would still form the bulk of the various navies—Republic, Imperial or Neutral. Likewise, TIE fighters would still make up a great number of the fighters in service, just because there were so many of them produced.

Though the numbers seem sufficiently huge, I still look at them with a bit of skepticism. It is difficult for me to imagine the scale of a Galactic civilization like the one in Star Wars. I worry if I am doing it an injustice with these 'paltry' numbers or not. But, for now at least, it works as a rough idea.

Oh, and as a parting thought...wow, it must be very difficult naming that many ships. Especially for the Empire. I mean, how many "Avenger, Desvastator, Eviscerator, Decapitator" type names ARE there. Eventually, you may have to delve into other, less imposing names like: "Annoyer" or "Irascible" or "Exasperator". Yeah, they just don't have the same ring to t hem...

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