My current set of Traveller [CT] adventures provided a few needs that help inform what kind of ship acts as the home ship for the characters. I knew that the ship probably had to be jump-2 or jump-3 capable ship, because of where in the sub-sector our adventures would start: right out on the frontier using routes that needed at least jumps of this length to be feasible. I knew that cargo space was useful, but not the most important thing for the ship; I also knew that money was, in practical terms, not really a problem. The mercantile concern acting as patrons for the characters had significant resources, and the characters themselves would not be holding the paper on the ship that would be ferrying them around -- rather, the characters would act as members of their patron's personal retinue.

So, starting from these premises, I arrived at the notion that The Distant Star would be one of the merchant family's flag ships in their merchant fleet. The kind of vessel that would be both practical, and to some extent, impressive and comfortable, and used for trade missions at the strategic level and not necessary tactical level. Looking at the standard ship-build list in Book 2, I thought, why not start with a Liner and strip out all the "luxury passengers" tonnage, replacing it with more practical things that a highly-placed merchant prince delegate might want? That gets me jump-3, and a fair amount of extra space to play around with.

Starting with a stock 600 ton full, the Vargas SL company makes several significant alterations for the custom flag ships in their fleet. Perhaps they have three or four of these custom ship builds:

Streamlining. Adding streamlining to the basic design ensures the ships may enter atmosphere and land on planet surfaces; additionally, the ships are fitted with fuel scoops and equipment to take on board fuel from nearby bodies of water.

Fuel processing. Vargas has managed to secure a small number of TL12 fuel purification plants based on Commonwealth Naval design. The plants are smaller than typically used in Commonwealth Naval ships, specifically designed for ships in the 600 ton range and smaller. The fitting of these plants permit it to process fuel for the ship, as well as the ship's launch. Processing a full tank of unrefined fuel takes several hours. I borrowed the purification plant, and the tonnage required, directly from Traveller Book 5 (High Guard) [HG2].

Armaments. As flagships, Vargas SL judges that they must be capable of defending themselves. The Distant Star in particular is kitted with a single turret sandcaster, and a double-turret hosting beam lasers (judging that accuracy is more important to the ship's survival than impact).

Improved manoeuvrability. Sacrificing space typically set aside for passengers in the 600-ton liner design lets Vargas dedicate space to improved engine capacity. Still using the stock power plant and jump drives, this enhanced flagship design boosts the manoeuvre drive fitted to allow for speeds in-system of up to 3G without significant increase in fuel requirements.

Reassignment of accommodation space. All the space normally set aside for passenger capacity is not needed in this modified design; the reclaimed space is typically re-dedicated on these ships to 170 tons of cargo, additional ships vehicles (a launch, ATV, and speeder), and a suite of emergency low berths in case of unforeseen circumstances.

The final plan for the Distant Star thus looks like this:

The Distant Star (Type M) 600 tons
Manoeuvre drive (J, 3G) Model/3
Jump drive (J, jump-1) CPU 2
Power plant (J, 3) Storage 4
Fuel (210 tons -- one jump)  
Hold (170 tons) Fuel purification plant
Hardpoints (three)  
> Single turret sandcaster  
> Double turret beam laser  
Crew and accommodations Vehicles
Pilot Launch (20 tons)
Navigator ATV (10 tons)
Engineers (2) Speeder (6 tons)
1 double stateroom (owner)  
7 crew staterooms  
3 guest staterooms  
2 emergency low berths  

Fuel consumption. The Distant Star burns 180 tons of fuel for a single jump-3; it can parcel out fuel for jumps of less distance accordingly, but life-support costs for the extra time in jump space put constraints on normal space operation. The ship expends 30 tons per month of operation in normal space.

[CT]Traveller (Classic),
[HG2]Book 5: High Guard,