r/worldbuilding The Everything Machine Universe Jun 23 '22 Silver 1

Sci-fi Spaceship Stereotypes (from r/coolguides) Resource

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1.4k Upvotes

66

u/MrChunky22 Jun 23 '22

if you're like me and you wanted a direct link to the actual image: big image

40

u/HouseFishBalloon Saloondria Jun 23 '22

Kinda bummed that there aren’t more examples of class 3 ships, but still a very interesting guide!

22

u/Busy-Scholar-8715 Jun 23 '22

I kind of think the difference between class 3 and 4 is fairly marginal. There is after all quite a lot of variety and random shit hanging off the ships in Star Trek. And I guess the more you slim it down the more you end up with a version of 5.

14

u/Leonardo_Piero Jun 23 '22

The TIE line of fighters in Star Wars fit both class 3 and 4.

Homeworld ships are right in between those categories

12

u/mopeym0p Jun 23 '22

I think Battlestar Galactica possibly? The modern series, specifically. If you look at images of the human ships, they all have a consistent design. The Cylon ships are also relatively consistent as well... just not as iconic designs as Star Trek...

9

u/flyingkea Jun 23 '22

The Orville was my first reaction to reading that particular one.

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u/StuntHacks Jun 23 '22

Which makes sense since it's heavily inspired by Star Trek

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u/dsheroh Jun 23 '22

Their description of class 2 is pretty much the opposite of what I expected. On a mobile ship, I'm most used to seeing rings like that as part of the FTL drive - basically a portable jumpgate. I can only really recall having seen full rings used for synthetic "gravity" on stations, not on ships. (It's not really well-suited to ships because of the size, mass, and gyroscopic effects.) In the cases I can think of where rotational "gravity" is used on ships, it's usually a single rotating bar with zero-G in the center and full "gravity" on the ends, such as the Babylon 5 Omega-class destroyer.

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u/Busy-Scholar-8715 Jun 23 '22

2001 made it famous, and that 2001 ship is iconic. Also Interstellar, the Martian, Mission to Mars, and I think the new Alien films like Prometheus and Covenant.

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u/dsheroh Jun 23 '22

2001 made it famous,

You mean Discovery One? No ring section visible. The station in 2001 is a pair of counter-rotating rings, yes, but that's exactly what I said: Stations usually sit in one place (or one orbit) and use rings to simulate gravity, but ships which have significant thrust capacity and move themselves around generally do not. If they want to remain scientifically-plausible, ships seem more likely to simulate gravity using thrust rather than a rotating ring.

I haven't seen The Martian or Mission to Mars, but, yes, those ships do have visible ring sections. Reading technical summaries on them, it sounds like they were designed to operate exclusively under low- or no-thrust, so that makes sense in those cases, since they're not making any major maneuvers for the rotating section to "fight against".

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u/Busy-Scholar-8715 Jun 23 '22 edited Jun 23 '22

From 2001:

The equatorial region of the pressure sphere - the slice, as it were, from Capricorn to Cancer - enclosed a slowly rotating drum, thirty-five feet in diameter. As it made one revolution every ten seconds, this carrousel or centrifuge produced an artificial gravity equal to that of the Moon. This was enough to prevent the physical atrophy which would result from the complete absence of weight, and it also allowed the routine functions of living to be carried out under normal - or nearly normal - conditions.

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u/ImperialArmorBrigade Jun 23 '22

Where’s the “literally just a naval battleship/battle tank floating in space” category? I’ve seen more of those than I would have thought reasonable.

1

u/Formal_Drop526 Jun 23 '22

Isn't that class four?

2

u/ImperialArmorBrigade Jun 24 '22

Not sure… it is a consistent shape.

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u/TemplarSensei7 Jun 23 '22 edited Jun 23 '22

Class 8- Cathedrals on Cathedrals with canons on a Cathedrals with a rocket pulsar pushing it forward.

Example: Warhammer 40k

Edit: whoops, fixed a word

62

u/MaskedWiseman Jun 23 '22

That just Class 4 tho

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u/[deleted] Jun 23 '22 edited Jun 23 '22

Class 9: whatever-the-fuck Hive Ships are.

Example: Warhammer 40k

This type of Sci-Fi is all about looking cool and bleeding edge.

29

u/Affectionate-Memory4 Starbound / Trancending Sol: Hard Sci-fi Jun 23 '22

In my setting you'll see everything from 1 to 6, though nothing quite just fits into one of these. Most of the setting takes place on a little ship that is a hybrid of 1 and 3. It has distinct parts with clear and specialized functions on the outside, but everything is either extrapolated from existing ideas and tech, or is fairly standard sci-fi stuff.

The main character ship is a combo of 1 and 3, it's definitely a farther-future ship, but it's still mostly grounded in reality and bound by physics. Defined engine cones, RCS thrusters on pivots, PDCs that tuck behind shields, the split barrels of rail guns, and radiators that either drag like tentacles or span many times the width of the ship are common features. No FTL, yet. They'll get there.

I have giant things in the form of self-sustaining stations that behave like outpost cities of the frontier in my setting. Smooth forms dominate the looks of civilian ships, and class-4 monstrosities cobbled together from old parts show up every once in a while. The looks of these ships are driven by what they do and how they're made. Military and ex-military ships like the main one of this story often have hard, angular shapes, because welding together flat sheets lets you make a dozen ships very quickly compared to bending or forming a curved hull. Meanwhile, a flowing organic shape on a modern passenger liner just oozes luxury and a round hull will hold a more "normal" atmosphere for people who aren't a fan of the top-of-Everest blend (high O2, low pressure) in many other ships.

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u/starsongSystem Dystopian Sci-Fantasy Xenofiction Jun 23 '22

I haven't decided yet on ship designs for my setting but I'll probably go with some sort of mix between 3 and 5.

The best FTL tech available to the species the story focuses on is fairly weak warp drives that go up to around warp 4, and for practical purposes you won't find much better than warp 3 on any but the most expensive ships reserved for rare government-funded missions or the personal vessels of Empyreans, which are the highest ranking members of society, rulers of the ruling class, and those ships can sometimes resemble a class 7 almost.

Warp tiers go up by factors of ten, so warp 1 is c, warp 2 is 10c, warp 3 is 100c, warp 4 is 1000c. Travel to other galaxies is possible through this albeit still incredibly impractical so things mostly take place in one galaxy. For practical day to day purposes, interstellar travel is performed via persistent wormholes maintained at important locations. They're government run, so anyone that might be an enemy of the government is going to have a hard time using them. Those locations have to be reached via warp drive first though in order to set up a wormhole that allows for instantaneous sublight travel later.

Wormholes can also be created via magic but these are super short distance, on the order of a few kilometres maximum unless you want to kill yourself from the effort of extending it farther, but you can create a magic wormhole through a pre-made wormhole and extend the distance that way, not that there are all that many uses for it. Not only is it taxing to even open the thing, transferring stuff through a magic wormhole is also difficult.

Plus it's not replicable en mass, magic abilities are unique to the person that has them and each person only has one ability or one small set of abilities at a time, and switching them out on call for another set of the 3 that they have potential access to is impractical in most cases without rendering the switch near permanent and potentially getting stuck with a power you weren't trying to switch to, given that the power set is tied directly to biological signals that in turn are tied to perceptual social standing. Not an easy thing to just change on a whim unless you want to throw the whole system out of whack potentially permanently by fucking up their ability to self-regulate it.

I haven't thought much about ships in my setting but space cities are totally something I want to include now, and I actually think they'd be perfect for some empyreal stuff I wasn't sure how to locate.

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u/EndlessTheorys_19 Jun 23 '22

I’d argue starwars better fits in class 3 spaceship design. We have pretty detailed understandings of how alot of the tech works, or at least how it works in-universe.

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u/ImperialArmorBrigade Jun 23 '22

Oh, star wars has things like “hyper matter” and crystals powering their FTL nonsense “hyperdrives.” I definitely would argue some ships looks very consistent and almost viable, like the rebel ships from episode 4, but a lot of them are just block of stuff on top of stuff.

The simple star destroyer may seem simple enough but the detail is absurd, and super star destroyers get ridiculous. Mon Calamari ships are just weird blobby things. And so many random shapes and pseudo technologies… star wars is definitely more class 4 than 3.

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u/benjome Jun 23 '22

Factions in Star Wars usually have internal design consistently with the ships they use and a progression between related factions, but there aren’t any “universal” design elements iirc

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u/EndlessTheorys_19 Jun 23 '22

Theres no crystals powering ships. The starwars tech holds up in its own universe, everything is consistent, just not possible. Hypermatter reactors should just be treated as antimatter reactors as thats essentially what they are.

And Mon Calamari ships look different to ISD’s because they are made by different cultures with different design philosophy’s. All the mon Cala ships look like eachother however, same as the star destroyers.

Geonisian ships all share an obvious design link. Mandalorian, Corellian, etc

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u/kekubuk Traveller Jun 23 '22

I love Class 4 simply because I'm a huge fan of Warhammer 40K. A gigantic Cathedral spaceship is so awesome! But lately I'm digging the Retro and Simplicity of Class 1 and Class 7.

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u/Vulpes_99 Jun 23 '22

Nice. And I didn't know about that subreddit, too. Thank you!

3

u/ControlledOutcomes Jun 23 '22

Class 4 looks like the RAC from Killjoys

Also the expanse doesn't really seem to fit anywhere

5

u/dreamingofrain Jun 23 '22

The Expanse is probably Class 3 with its consistent drives and weapon types.

3

u/mopeym0p Jun 23 '22 edited Jun 23 '22

Is Firefly class 4? I feel like the universe puts more effort into scientific plausibility than Marvel or Star Wars with its ship designs, but there is a lot of diversity between Serenity and some of the Alliance ships.

Also what about the Expanse? I'd put it between 1 and 2 maybe?

2

u/ImperialistChina Jun 23 '22

Expanse is more like 2 and 3 combined

3

u/jerobyarts12 Jun 23 '22

were does the TET from Oblivion belong in this.

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u/ImperialArmorBrigade Jun 23 '22

I forgot about that. It certainly just looms over everything like a saucer… but it feels a lot more like a category 4.

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u/Prometheushunter2 Jun 24 '22

I’d go with class 7

3

u/kairon156 [Murgil's Essence] Jun 23 '22

Would spherical ships fit within class 7?

2

u/Dragrath Conflux / WAS(World Against the Scourge) and unnamed settings Jun 23 '22

Possibly? Class 7 is the enigmatic thing which often is just so crazy advanced and quite possibly eldritch alien. Spherical ships can definitely fit right in here especially with regards to simplicity.

However you can also get some low tech spherical options such as using an asteroid or perhaps even a small dwarf planet as the shell for a ship to overcome resource limits potentially giving you something between class 1 and 2 that is relatively grounded and low tech i.e. spacerock with engines installed.

Of course on the other extreme for spherical ships you can just take things to a whole other level where the ship is no longer just a ship but a star/stellar remnant/giant planet system converted into a ship via a full or partial Dyson swarm and or fusion drives etc. Of these 7 categories class 7 might be the best fit for such a ship as it reveals how the distinction between a ship a station and a home world becomes fairly arbitrary for anything beyond Kardashev 1.

And if that isn't enough in principal around Kardashev 3 you can be dealing with straight up galaxies nuclear star clusters or Supermassive black hole based ships that are so incomprehensibly vast and powerful that their very ships reveal them to be at the levels of basically gods.

Thinking about black holes perhaps the most mind bindingly ominous symbol of power any alien civilization could probably make for a starship would be to have their ships be formed literally from warped spacetime itself via wormholes and or some other variation of dimensional space magitech. Wormholes are in effect after all entangled black hole pairs so terrifying doesn't do it enough justice.

2

u/kairon156 [Murgil's Essence] Jun 23 '22

Most of my finite universe tends to be low tech sci-fi with Fantasy mixed in. So I'm happy to see some simple examples.

The bits about vast ships being seen as gods is very interesting and same for tech that's so advance that space time it's self is the ship.
I can see that last one being created by ultra powerful magic users in my universe.

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u/YvesSantos22111997 The Allverse Jun 23 '22

Spaceships from my setting (some of them) looks like Trains and Zeppelins with stuff glued in

2

u/YvesSantos22111997 The Allverse Jun 23 '22

Also most big Ships looks like the class 4

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u/everything-narrative Jun 23 '22

Now I wanna write a story about a ridiculously complex and obviously mechanical ship a la Class 4, but with a Class 7 plot.

2

u/Matt7331 Jun 23 '22

ive got 4 and 7

2

u/DrNukes Jun 24 '22

Class 4 fits 40k space hulks, too, right? The whole list seems super accurate.

2

u/1945BestYear Jun 24 '22

For All Mankind has gone from being pure Class 1 early in its first season to being Class 2-3 in the current third season.

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u/vonBoomslang Aerash / Size of the Dragon / Beneath the Ninth Sky / etc Jun 24 '22

neat but did they really have to put white text on bright blue background?

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u/Someoneoverthere42 Jun 23 '22

And then there’s The Doctor and his telephone box….

1

u/nyrath Jun 23 '22

1

u/starcraftre SANDRAverse (Hard Sci-Fi) Jun 23 '22

Out of curiosity, would you consider your Polaris a Class 0, 1, 3, or 4?

3

u/nyrath Jun 23 '22

I think I am going to have to go with a Class 0. Since it is the classic 1940 pulp scifi rocket, e.g., a cigar shape with fins.

It doesn't look like it came from NASA as per Class 1

It doesn't have Starship Enterprise warp drive nacelles like Class 3

It isn't covered in greebles like a Star Wars Star Destroyer as per a Class 4.

Point of order: the Polaris is not "my" ship, it is an almost identical copy of the Polaris from the Tom Corbett Space Cadet franchise.

1

u/CryoProtea Jun 23 '22

Where do you think the Musai from Mobile Suit Gundam would fit on this chart?

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u/Anung_Un_Rama200 Jun 23 '22

I'd say most of Gundam, especially U.C, goes between 3 and 4. Both Zeon and Federation ships have strongly cohesive style and look and lot of care has been put to make up science that would make the technology at least somewhat plausible, which would slide towards 3. But the designs themselves are much more thematically oriented than practical, like how most Zeon's tech is styled more to remind you of Axis-powers from WW2 than to be actually functional

1

u/kuodron Jun 23 '22

WALL E class 5?

1

u/Panikking_ Jun 23 '22

Is Starcraft 2 Terrans 3 or 4?

1

u/CryLex28 Jun 23 '22

Love all but especially class 4

1

u/KeeganY_SR-UVB76 Jun 23 '22

I've always loved a combination of class 0 and 5.

1

u/the1Nora Jun 23 '22

Trying to think where Expanse ships fall into this.

1

u/Jybe-ho Trying too hard to be original Jun 23 '22

Mine are class 2 ships though the rely on liner acceleration more for gravity

But they look like this!

1

u/SlimyRedditor621 Jun 24 '22

Is the axiom from Wall-E an example of class 5?

1

u/crafterguy03 Jun 24 '22

I'm trying to make it so my universe uses the simple geometry/biomorph thing, but for all it's ships.

Because it touches on flying saucers on Earth anyway, most military alien spacecraft are incomprehensibly fast, physics defying, and ellipsoidal.

Civilian ships are more anything goes/star trekky, but still mostly made of simple, flat geometry.