• Welcome to the new COTI server. We've moved the Citizens to a new server. Please let us know in the COTI Website issue forum if you find any problems.

Fire, Fusion & Steel


Super Moderator
OK. I have heard FFS (in several editions) batted around here as a great way to design ships, vehicles, etc. Looking around DriveThruRPG, I see two: Fire, Fusion and Steel Technical Architecture, and Fire, Fusion and Steel Revised. Revised actually says it is for T4, but Technical Architecture doesn't specify.

Which is for what, and can I convert to another Traveller edition from either?

Any preferences on which is better? Or, should I look at eBay for some other edition?
FF&S Technical Architecture is the original, for TNE. It is THE tech design book for any scifi game. Nothing else even comes close IMO.

FF&S 'revised' is for T4. From what I've heard, it's riddled with errors, and the equations aren't even written out properly.

I'd say definitely go for the TNE version. You can get it on DTRPG too.
If you can only get one, the FFS1 (TNE) is definitely easier to read. FSS2 (T4 with errata) includes a lot of further development from the fan community. Both include setting-specific techs (HEPLAR, Fusion+), but for the most part are pretty tech compatible with CT -- some tech assumptions do vary, however.

I keep a copy of both for reference. The original T4 FFS text is the most damaged of the two, but as Chris stated, there is comprehesive errata for both editions. The big problem with T4's FFS wasn't the design, so much as the actual assembly of the book, editing, etc. DTRPG has given away free watermark versions of both products before.

For starship design, you might want to look for the QSDS (Quick Ship Design System), which is still floating about the web (and is free!). The last version of this document I have found is version 1.5. This was a greatly simplified version of the T4 FSS ship design sequence, with the most common ship configurations pre-calculated for ease of use. QSDS was very popular for many years among the gearhead competition crowd. (See THUDDD - TML Highly Unofficial Democratic Design Derby.) The full design rules in T4 were often called SSDS (Standard Starship Design System), in case you see that term pop up as well.

There are a bunch a great but increasingly hard to find docs from the late 90's that are still very nice to have today (QSDS, Definitive Sensor Rules, FFS1&2 errata, RP Space Combat, etc.). Lots of broken links out there, but elementary googling and persistance will turn up many fan-written gems on the net. /ponders CotI's fLib

Speaking of which, the original THUDDD site is long gone, anyone know of an archive site containing the submitted designs? Doing T20 conversions of older version ships seems to be pretty popular in these parts -- converting the winning THUDDD designs into T20 versions might be a fun gearhead project...
Does anyone know whether the errata for either edition is available online, and if so, where? And where can the QSDS be found?
Get both. FF&S1 is better produced and has better explanatory text, but T4 is closer to "real" Traveller, so FF&S2 produces more useful results (unless you're playing TNE, obviously).

I'll dig out the links to errata etc later.
Errata seems to be available on the Traveller Downport.

I just grabbed the QSDS from here. It's only about 20 pages.

So, if I have to only get one, I should get both? :rolleyes: FFS1 is better written, but FFS2 is better for converting (say, to CT or MT?). Some help... ;)
Fritz, FF&S is a GREAT resource. I never played TNE, being a CT fanatic, but I bought that and the World Tamer's handbook as references.

I particuarly liked the section on Stargates. having them IMTU as alien artifacts, I intended to five a partial explanation to the players, but couldn't really get th facts straight in my head. FF&S explained everything in clearcut TRAVELLER terms so my version made sense.

Such is the beauty of TRAVELLER. Despite 5 official version and who knows how many house rules, you can always pick out a gem from the ore no matter where you look. Buy and enjoy!
Fritz, first off, you have to be a confirmed, institutionalized gearhead to get your money's worth out of FFS2. I don't know if that's also true of FFS1.

In other words, you have to like using spreadsheets for starship design (by the way, you do know about Andy Akin's FFS2 spreadsheet, don't you? If you have that, you might not need FFS2 "the book".)

If you are not a gearhead, then FFS2 is fine if you're a collector. Otherwise don't worry about it or its relatives (QSDS, RPSCS, BMac's Definitive Sensor Rules) -- although the Sensor Rules can enlighten you about how difficult it can be to detect things.
"Institutionalized"?! They let you guys have computers in there?

Actually, I grabbed Andrew's spreadsheet. The problem with that one is that it assumes you know the rules (like you know what # corresponds to what hull material). And (as you should know) I love spreadsheets. (It just shouldn't be the only way to do things if you want a decent following...)
Yeah, they give us computers in here. Don't you know I only work in nuthouses?
Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that it's possible to to design a fairly large (~2000 dTon) ship from FF&S1 without the need for a spreadsheet. It's somewhat of a pain, but you can do it. If you do, take a free bit of advice: unless you're planning to play with Brilliant Lances, don't bother with the latter part of the design sequence where you assign components to areas and compute how many hits they have. It's annoying, it takes a long time, and unless you're playing BL with the design it's unnecessary.

FF&S1 also has plenty of alternate tech entries in it, including one labelled "Thruster plates" that I think is fairly close to CT and MT M-drive, although I could be wrong.

I've never used FF&S2, but from what I've heard it has good and bad points. Good: it apparently has a lot more options for ship spaces than FF&S1, which has machine shops, electronics shops, sickbays, and "stateroom space" which is assumed to include common areas, galley and mess space, and so on. By contrast, FF&S2 lets you decide how many galleys and the like your ship will have. Bad: All of that apparently increases bookkeeping a lot, and the book itself isn't very well laid out- it has pages and pages of tables, with explanatory text at the end, so you'll constantly be flipping back and forth.

My call: get FF&S1 and use the alternate tech listings.
OK. I have now acquired FF&S - both versions - and am looking at the errata. The FF&S1 errata says it is for the "Mk 1, Md1" version, and that the first edition can be identified by the absence of "Mk 1, Md 1" on the credits page. Well, guess what? The version available on DTRPG is evidently that first edition, as I don't see that note anywhere on the credits page (the page before the ToC). Help?! :confused: :(