The Vigilance-Class Picket

A New Ship for GURPS Traveller

by Fred Wolke

Art by andi jones

The first command of any naval officer to make Captain was probably one of these ships. The small, quick, and eminently expendable type-SF Vigilance-class picket is arguably the most common jump-capable ship in the fleet. Their role is to form the outermost shell of ships surrounding a task force, and to detect the presence of hostile forces before they themselves are detected. While armed, they are not intended for full-scale battle, but rather for the cat-and-mouse of the initial contact with the enemy. Whenever the task force is moving, they range out from the main body to the limit of communication range, so that if hostiles are detected, the fleet can get the maximum possible warning.

The ship is equipped with a small jump drive, not for interstellar travel but to allow it to escape from difficult situations. When the task force moves from one star to another, the pickets usually travel either scattered among the individual fleet elements, or on specialized picket tenders than can bring many pickets through a long jump. Sometimes, the fleet tender will be hidden away in a gas giant atmosphere in a nearby star system, so that pickets will have a safe place to jump to if there is serious trouble.

The Vigilance-Class Picket The ship is a flattened ovoid shape, designed to present a minmum cross-section forward and to the sides. The drives and power plant take up most of the center and aft sections of the ship, with fuel and staterooms to port and starboard, and the bridge and missile tubes to fore.

Crew: Captain (Leadership and Tactics), Navigator (Astrogation), two Sensor Operators (Electronics Operation [Sensors]), Communications Operator (Electronics Operation [Communication]), two Engineers (Engineering and Mechanic) and Gunner (Gunnery [Missile]). Very often the Captain, Navigator, and Communications Operator will also have Electronics Operation [Sensors] skill, to allow more rotation on the grueling work of watching the sensors in tense situations.

200-ton USL hull, DR 4,210, Command Bridge, Engineering, 120 Maneuver, 4 Jump, 40 Fuel, 5 Staterooms, Utility, Fuel Processor, 6 Missile Racks (in hull body, no turrets), 2 Hold.

Statistics: TL12, Emass: 1992.4, LMass 2002.4, Cost MCr 110.9076, HP 22,500. Hull Size Modifier: +8.

Performance: Accel 5.99 Gs, Jump 1, Air Speed 600.

Using the Vigilance-Class Picket

A game could be run around the crew of one of these pickets, especially if they misjumped deep behind enemy lines and needed to sneak their way back to friendly territory. Another possibility is to use a Vigilance-class as a kind of "super scout," penetrating behind enemy lines to accomplish some mission for the Navy.

There is more potential here, than that, however. The Vigilance-class picket is nearly invisible to TL10 basic sensors; one needs to get within 15 hexes to even have a chance of detecting it, and that at -10 to skill. The picket is therefore a terrific ship to use if someone wants to "shadow" a jump-1 ship like a Free Trader or Subsidized Merchant. Looking at "Detection of Jump" on GURPS Traveller, p.121, we see that the energy pulse emitted when a ship enters jump gives away the direction that the ship jumped, but not the distance; with a jump-1 ship, however, the distance should be easy to guess.

Article publication date: November 12, 1999

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