APAGear II Archives Volume 3, Number 2 March, 2001



Part One: Civilian Vessels

Mika Peltola

"The metal behemoths called landships roam badlands, Terra Novas sandy analogue of an ocean, but what kind of ships are they?"


There is surprisingly little material about landships available, a brief description in Rule book & Technical Manual, and the The New Breed: Battle Before the storm (HG1 computer game tie-in) which provides some material on two military landships. This articles purpose is to look bit further in landship concept as a civilian vessel. What kind of landships roam the seas of sand, who uses them and why landship. Authors warning: This material may not be compatible with official material about landships, existing or upcoming...

Why landship?

Landship allows cheap transportation of bulk goods over vast distances. It can go to places where there are no highways, railroads or maglev lines. Transportation is quit cheap, associated costs of landship transportation are roughly one-tenth of cost of an equivalent air transport, but only about 80% of the overland caravan transport cost with bulk goods like grain or ore, assuming that you have a full load. The major downside about landshipping is that ships move on preplanned schedule and because of it they are more akin train than truck convoy as form of transportation.

Then there is the strategic reasons, if and when the war comes even the civilian landships play significant role in the logistics chain of modern army, this is the main reason why goverments support landshipping even thought it is unprofitable from time to time. And then there is the landships virtual immunity to the rovers, as landships are next to impossible to stop without a boarding action (or heavy artillery), which due the exhausts of the lift fans (& dust) and -Danger Zone- effect caused by the repulsor coil assembly, which makes ground assaults very hazardous against a landship. And of course during war only landships have capability to haul supplies, ammunition personel across the badlands to other hemisphere, as Terra Novan TransRail refuses to carry military supplies during the war (thus has avoided becoming viable military target during war) and also landships become nice supply bases even middle of the badlands.

History of the landship technology

The technology of the landship dates back to the early days of Terra Novas colonization, when Human Concordat scientists were delving into peculiar magnetic properties of the new planet, Althought it was not until the early TN900's when first true landships entered the service. After the Concordats withdrawal from Terra Nova in TN1455 the original fifteen land barges of colonial engineering corps were recycled after they broke down and the whole concept of landship was buried until the birth polar federations. To the surprise of newly formed CNCS the in TN1693 it Southern Republic (with help of Humanist Alliance) which fielded first true modern military landship in TN1695. Which gave in turn birth to the northern landship fleet and landship yards at city states Rapid City and Zagazig. Due the enormous expense and constant maintenance requirements of these vessels the size of the polar fleets has remained quite constant, ever since the St Vincents war in early 18th century. Ironically enough the first military landship "Southern Cross" was not destroyed by Northern Guard, like they claimed. But due the catastrophic failure of it repulsor coils, caused by monitoring NNets crash...

Technology of a modern landship

The modern landship is basically held aloft by massive superconducting magnetic(sub-atomic)repulsion coil assembly, which is capable to lift landship some two to fifteen meters above the ground. The repulsor system only holds vehicle aloft, it does not provide any motive power. All the landships motive power is supplied by large lift-fans (or sand blasters as landship boarding teams tend to refer them) not unlike ones found in hoppers (VTOLs).

Also modern landship is highly modular, if we peel of the outer skin (and armor) of a landship. It can be noted that beyond basic frame they made of standardized modules (of course north and south have their own differing standards), so for example, a cargo ship can be converted into gas-tanker quite easily, or a missile launch platform in case of the war, this modularity can be traced back to the landship yards and corporations that design them. As little closer look into landship manufacturers reveals that every single one of them is also a military contractor, so it can be said that there are no civilian landship yards on Terra Nova. The landships interior in shielded against adverse effects caused by the mag-repulsion arrays, which although have been calibrated to avoid the more lethal forms of radiation, and are constantly monitored to keep the emissions within acceptable limits, this is roughly about one-third of the total maintenance required to keep landship operational and safe. Only real unsolved problem with repulsor arrays currently is the buildup of static charge along hull, which manifests in occasional static disharges between hull and nearby conductive material (like a unfortunate gear...for example) and this is also a reason why the landship docks and their equipment are extensively grounded.

The nature of Terra Nova places some unique requirements on landships navigational systems, as the magnetic comapasses are next thing from useless on Terra Nova. Most commonly landships use combined multiply redundant Strato-Inertial / Hermes72-GPS and/or simple beacon based radionavigation system. Civilian landships sensor system include most commonly only the basic sensors required for navigational use.

-Danger Zone- and other hazards for crews health

The -Danger Zone- is term used refer into position in immediate vicinity of the repulsor array, usually underneath the ship. The name comes fact that its hazardous area to work within without specialized protective garmet made of non-conductive materials and coated with anti-magnetic coating, in order to reduce risk of a static discharge and fields effect on human body as the forces that lift landship off the ground are not fully understood. Also the vehicles designed to work near the landships repulsor arrays are usually are equipped with a variant of EMP shielding and grounding equipment (ie. haywire resistant perk). Other effects of the magnetic flux to the human body are for example increased risks of certain kinds of cancer. And loss of iron & minerals (kalium, magnesium, selenium, kalsium, zinc, copper, manganese and chrome just to name few) from body as magnetic flux and sub-atomic effects change their ionic charges, turning them into unusable compounds. The amount of environmental impact and the health risks associated with landship technology are matter of serious debate among medical and academic circles all-over Terra Nova, but thus far the polar goverments have managed to suppress any bad press about the landships. But have given into limiting their operational area into badlands.

In game terms the risk of static discharge is as follows: every time as unit enters a tactical scale hex occupied by the landship, the crew (of vehicle) must roll a chance test versus half of the vehicles size (Infantry rolls vs. zero and PCs may apply their PSY stat as modifier into roll, so infantry are affected only with a fumble.) to avoid static discharge. Static discharge is a vehicle scale electric attack with intensity equal to size of a landship divided by ten (size/10) plus margin of failure.

Size of a Landship

The average non-military landship is about hundred to two hundred meters long with dry weight of 6000 to 48000 tons(size 60 to 120). About third of the landships dry mass is taken by powerplant, repulsor coil assembly and their shielding (which includes hull grounding equipment). Another 20% to 25% of the dry mass is dedicated to basic frame and supporting structures. The propulsion system that inludes lift and maneuvering fans take usually up to 16 to 20% of the dry mass. Miscellaneous structures like cargo loading and handling equipment (or service structures in passanger ships) take usually another from 16 to 20%. External systems which includes armor, point-defense weaponry, environmental protection, sensor and communications arrays etc. most commonly accounts for some 2% to 45% depending on ships design (the latter will most likely to a military landship or highly specialized system).

Crew of a landship

The number of crew on average landship may look large at first glance, but closer look will reveal that about half of the landships crew is maintenance oriented personel. This is mostly due the constant maintenance required by the repulsor arrays and nuclear powersystem etc. As a rule of thumb, it would be safe to say that average landship has one crew member per per hundred tons of dry mass (this may vary a lot, depeding on technological sophistication and reliance on automation of the given ship), and this does not even include crew members required to take care and (possibly) entertain the passagers and crew... Of course cruise liners are known to carry all kinds crew, from full philharmonic orchestra aboard Princess Lir to worlds longest cabaret stage with complement of some two hundred cabaret dancers aboard the Shangri-La. This might look kind of wierd if we compare this Isthar TNs largest landtanker owned by Erech & Niniveh Petroleum Co-operative, which is about twice as big the Shangri-La or Princess Kir (which are two largest passager ships in service) and has crew of thirtyone, from which maintenance crew accounts for 22 (out of 31). Althought it has to be noted that Isthar is highly automated. And its maintenance crew even includes one full-time systems administator / AI specialist, which wise when we take account fact that ship has some forty NNets linked up to central mainframe.

Types of landships

landships can be divided into three broad categories. Each category can be divided into several sub-categories, based on their configuration and use. And to make things into even bit more complex there are the hybrid vessels, which have characteristics two or three ship classes (for example passenger-cargo ship). For instance passenger ships, which are divided in two broad categories. Namely cruise liners carrying up to eight hundred passangers and yatches which can accomodate some hundred passenger and crew at max. And then there are cargo ships, which include container ships, Roll-On/Roll-Offs, bulk carriers (land barges) and land tankers, for both gaseous and liquid medium.

Passenger ships

Cruise liners are large passanger ships making round trips on set routes. Currently the most famous cruise line is the Overland Cruise Lines based on Zagazig NLC, which serves affordable vacations and forms of entertainment normally unavailable in morally strict CNCS (except in Dispensation District in Sesshu), and addition the tax-free shopping, legalized gambling continue to keep the Overland Cruise Lines popular, in CNCS. This work-around of the strict northern morality laws is possible mostly because the routes of OLC landships go mostly in Badlands (and thus ships are outside CNCS jurisdiction). But also this means that gambling rooms, cabaret etc. are not open until the ship has cleared the CNCS territory... Currently the most popular trip on OCLs catalogue is the Zagazig-Massada-Peace River round trip. Due this and few other reasons OCL gets a lions share of scandals and public outrages. OCLs chief of security once said after one of the tabloid headlines screaming about immorality of the several highy placed members of the revisionist church (article was illustrated with excellent quality photography, which was too much for a curch and for the tabloid which was shutdown afterward by goverment censors...) that it was next thing from impossible to keep the tabloids reporter out of the OCLs ships.

Then there is tax free shopping. A constant thorn in butt of Norlight Treasury department and loophole eagarly exploited by landshipping industry. As the landship moves in badlands, they may sell almost anything aboard without paying taxes. Which means for the customer about twentyfive to thirty percent discount when compared to price of same item at CNCS citystate. Most commonly sold itmes aboard passanger ships include tobacco, alcohol, toys, cosmetics, software and brand clothing. The current head of Norlight Treasury department Milliano Gradi, is the most vocal opponent of the tax free sales aboard the passager landship, and has publicly accused the landshipping companies, most notably Overland Cruiselines about exploitation of loophole in tax laws. And the rumor goes that Treasure department is preparing an initiative, to put an end to the tax free shopping aboard the landships. Legal experts say that Treasury Department will be looking at a long dirty legal battle, if the initiative passes the chambers of Valeria... The landshipping industry will not let go so easily of their prime source of their money.

The yatches are most commonly seen in northern emirates of ESE, as a pleasure vessels of some of the richest Emirs in the are, in general layout they are smaller than commercial vessels and can accomodate some hundred passenger and crew at max. These ships are mostly used as a retreats during the wars of assassination and during safaris. Althought some of the richest corporations in NorthCo.(UMF),ICP(MD) and Peace River field small yatches as retreats for company executives. Of course, it goes without saying that recieving an invitation aboard one of these vessels is considered an honor, which has to be earned. To acquire such invitation otherwise, is considered hard , if not impossible.

Cargo ships

There are three basic types of cargo ships. By far the Container ships are the most common on Terra Nova followed by the RO/ROs. As third and the least common are the conventional cargo ships with holds, which fallen mostly out of use. In favor of the container ships.

A container ship are low hulled landships with container holding brackets on deck instead of a cargo hold, which is used to move various bulk cargo from place to place, advantage of the containers ship is that same ship can carry for example a ship could carry, twelve containers of frozen herding springer meat, two containers of various consumers electronics and so on... The containers are standardized (has been ever since the Human Concordat). This came as a useful thing for the CEF during the invasion as they managed to approriate couple container landships and turned them into mobile field bases.

RO/RO ship(Roll-On/Roll-Off) is a ship that is designed to carry trucks and/or train cars. Plus to have a limited passager and recreational capacity, for the truckers. RO/RO is closest thing to a hybrid ship among older landship models. RO/RO also double as small passanger ship.

Conventional cargo ship (with hold) these are quite rare and are mostly used to transport bulk goods like ore or grain. Currently (TN1935) only two mining companies field more than five hold equipped landships (Paxton Arms mining branch and and Westridge Minerals Co.)

Land tankers

Land tankers are specialized cargo ships designed to either carry either gaseous or liquid medium cargo. The land tankers are mostly used to carry oil and gas from badlands oil-fields to refineries in polar confederations. Currently (TN1935) only Erech & Niniveh and Lance Point (along with the UMF and MD merchant fleets) actively field land tankers, mostly because building an oil-pipe through badlands would be too expensive and maintenance costs would be extra-orbitant (and in case of a war protecting several hundred kilometer of an oil-pipe would be very hard.) Erech and Niniveh likes it this way, because they do not need to align themselves with either polar league.

Hybrid ships

Hybrid ships are quite recent development, as a response into cost inefficiency of the single type landships, these ships can have any combination of the above mentioned transport modes. For example RO/RO container ship combination is highly likely, as is land tanker with container holding brackets.

Landship terminals

Most of the Badlands city states have a landship terminal, located couple kilometers outside of the actual city. These facilities usually are connected to the city with rail links and/or good roads also a common feature in terminals are oil/gas storage facility if local industry has a need for petrochemicals. In border cities of polar leagues in addition to the gas/oil storage facility there is a link into national oil/gas pipeline. Two ports for landships worth of mentioning are Peace River and Port Arthur, in Peace River the landship terminal is built within the city state itself which makes the guiding the landship into dock notoriously hard. And in Port Arthur there is no real terminal yet beyond a grounded ferrocrete slab large enough to acccomodate a landship with cranes, warehouses, and a large oil storage facility, this facility is going through series of upgrades as Colonel Arthur has promised to other members of NuCoal to have proper terminal built in next few cycles.

Merchant Fleets on TN

On average it would seem that Terra Nova sports with one civilian landship for every fourhundredthousand inhabitants, which means that there is about sixhundred landships in service currently. As crossing the badlands from northern to southern boundary takes about two Terra Novan weeks (average speed of landship is about 30 to 40 kilometers per hour), this means that most ports on TN recieve on average one to six ships per week, very busy ports like Peace River, Fort Henry, Zagazig, Baja, Westphalia, Erech & Niniveh etc. Will recieve twice to three times as many ships per week.

Adventure Hooks


Someone is murdered. The problem with investigation is that murdered person was found stabbed to death from his/her cabin with door locked and security log does not show any entries or exit into room for sixteen hours. Who did it and how.

Suggested PCs: Ships security personel, Nosy reporter, Armchair detective(retired private investigator)

Somewhat like: Agatha Christies classic locked room murder mystery (Books name manged to escape me)


It's a merry chase and your foe has thousand faces and you know he is aboard and he is going to kill someone. IE. There is an professional assassin aboard. You know several previous faces of his but his current face is not known. As an additional complication you do not know who is his target. Also there is Terra Novan environmental confrence aboard the vessel so target could be anyone...

Suggested PCs: Assassins Nemesis(stereotypically a police investigator) and his subordinates, ships security

Somewhat like: In the line of fire (Clint Eastwood movie), Jackal (book or movie)

Badlands rescue

Players are part of some search and rescue organization, and are faced with an intresting problem. There is a stranded landship in middle of area teeming with rovers. Question is how on Terra Nova PCs are going to rescue two hundred person crew, additional several hundred passagers and on top of that. How are they going stop rovers from looting the wreck and capturing people for ransom or worse fate. And Pray the Prophet that they don't wander out into noon sun...

Suggested PCs: Search & Rescue specialists, medical personel, pilotes, badlands marshalls etc.

Sir, we have a problem

Due some unimaginable SNAFU a civilian landship has been targeted by artillery (planetbound or spacebased), and has been blasted to kingdom come. Now why was that and why someone wants to bury the investigation (which unfortunately PCs are part of). What is hidden in the blasted hulk of a landship, and why the investigation is plagued by mechanical problems, bureacratic hindrance (red tape, rolls of it). Its up to them to find out and to live to tell others about it...

Party with a style

PCs recieve invitation aboard local emirs yatch after some deed which: A)has benefited the aforementioned emir and B) gaught some media attention on PCs. This your (GM) chance awe your players with unimaginable luxury of emirs life (especially if PCs are badlanders), and bit of the dark side of Easterner culture. Of course you could target this emir for an assassination...

Suggested PCs: for instance bunch of mercenary/duelist type PCs

Running Gauntlet

A mutiny aboard AST landcorvette has caused minor state of emergency in HQ. The ship heading towards north, and does not respond into any attempts communicate with. HQ is faced with dilemma whether to destroy ship with satellite artillery and risk a diplomatic conflict or attempt to board a vessel recapture it. When the ship nears the equator HQ decides to send in a special boarding team. Boarding team has ten hours to capture the ship or die trying, because after ten hours if no confirmation of recapture is recieved the satellite artillery will destroy the ship.

Suggested PCs: Landship boarding team members...

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APAGear II Archives Volume 3, Number 2 March, 2001