Lapwing Salvage Vessel (SM+10, TL11^)

Continuing my ship design and combat experiments, I decided to pit the player ship against a very similar ship, so I designed this deep-space salvage vessel at the same SM using the GURPS Spaceships rules. It has identical armament and armor to the player ship, but is slower. It also has a lighter force screen.

Lapwing Long-Range Salvage Vessel

The Lapwing-class interstellar salvage vessel is an unusual ship, as most salvage efforts operate in-system and require no FTL drive. Most things that break down and can be easily found will do so in a populated star system and it is much more profitable to haul salvage to the nearest planet using a maneuver drive. In contrast, long-range, deep space salvage is a much more challenging occupation: there just isn’t as much to salvage and there tend to be very long distances in between anything of interest. Crews that specialize in interstellar salvage vary widely. They could be the equivalent of a long-range corporate towing truck, or they might be a gang of risk-taking, treasure-hunting roughnecks who intentionally skirt the edges of minor wars and other hazards in order to pull out anything of value and abscond with it.

The latter kind of crew is likely to be flying a Lapwing-class. It’s exceptional armor, force screens, and weapons set in apart from a typical merchantman of equivalent size, and make it well-suited to dangerous sectors. However, the standard maneuver drive is quite weak, and a profitable salvage operation will likely upgrade this component first. It might also be worthwhile to upgrade the jump drive to FTL-2 in order to get off the well-traveled space lanes, but this would sacrifice 500 tons of cargo capacity.

Crew and Passenger Occupancy

The Lapwing comes standard with an automed, allowing the ship to proceed without dedicated medical personnel, a potentially significant cost savings on long voyages where salaries are a notable expense.

Minimum crew (as specified on stat block below):

  • Captain
  • Pilot/Navigator
  • Co-Pilot/Navigator
  • Gunner
  • Salvage Master (or Cargo Master)
  • Comm/Sensor Operator
  • Chief Engineer
  • Engineering Technician
  • Engineering Technician
  • Purser / Passenger Care (if passengers are carried)

It is typical for a salvage vessel to carry no passengers (as it may have no fixed course). Instead, passenger cabins are often used to haul additional engineering technicians who handle the knotty problems of free fall demolition and occasionally deep space repair and jury-rigging.

A complement of specialists that might be carried in the passenger cabins on a ship that did not know what kind of trouble it would encounter could include:

  • Salvage (Engineering) Technician
  • Salvage (Engineering) Technician
  • Salvage (Engineering) Technician
  • Shipbreaker (specializes in deconstructing giant armored hulls)
  • Demolition Specialist (trained specifically for zero-gravity work)
  • Hazardous Materials Specialist
  • Xeno-Relations Officer (if alien salvage is expected)
  • Chief of Security (in the case of valuable cargo)
  • Security Officer
  • Security Officer

Interstellar salvage vessels are also likely to carry very specialized and unusual vehicles, equipment, and shuttlecraft in the hangar bay, including exo-loading suits, miniature space tugs, one-person zero-G work sleds, and so on.

Salvage ships are usually not interested in rescuing any survivors. By the time the laws of space allow salvage, everyone concerned with the ship to be salvaged should be already dead. However, if they did need to help survivors (or anyone) they would likely just stick them in hibernation in one of the lifeboats. Of course, a very unscrupulous salvage gang would be sure (wink, wink) there were no survivors in order to make the salvage legal.

Stat Block

(Image coda: This ship concept and stat block reminds me of this amazing concept art for a cargo ship I found on — the picture even shows a cargo arm! Amazing stuff, I love the picture so much. It’s called Cargo Ship [2014] by Stoupa on



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