Matters of Size

NOTE: The alternate rules on Scale (Bulldogs! pg. 151) are in effect for this game with an addition. Dreadnoughts and Carriers are much larger than most ships and therefore belong in a larger category called Capital Ships while fighter craft should have a hard time effecting cruisers without special weapons. This means the scale categories are Person, Vehicle, Fighter, Ship and Capital Ship. All rules for dealing with different scales are in effect. In addition to those rules I am adding that each step up the ladder adds +2 to the final cost of vehicles. This will make larger vessels cost much more than their smaller counterparts.


Vehicle mantis

A-61 Mantis Gunship

Average +1 Good +3 5 Aspect: ECM Suite, Heavy Hull Plating x1, Shield +1 Fantastic +6


Damage: 2 (3 vs. Shields), Accuracy: 0, Range: 2 Autofire. Cost: Superb +5


Damage: 4 Accuracy: 2 Range: 2 Cost: Great +4 (requires a Fate Point)

The Gunship is driven by vectored-thrust engines. First rolled off the assembly lines in 2170, the Mantis remains in service in dozens of armies across the galaxy. Its modular construction means that the versatile Mantis can be reconfigured as a low-altitude gunship, a fighter, a high-altitude bomber, or even a single-stage-to-orbit spaceplane that can engage enemy craft around a planet or a space station. The only role the Mantis cannot perform is that of a true deep-space fighter, as it has no FTL drive.

The Mantis houses an element zero core which lightens the engines with a mass effect field, allowing it to take off vertically and hover in place using minimum fuel. This also gives it far greater range and speed than the helicopters and jump-jet aircraft that once filled its niche.

Standard defenses include heavy armor plating and kinetic barriers, though the latter are often removed by mercenary groups. It also houses a thermal decay system and an electronic countermeasures suite which help it to nullify surface-to-air attacks.

Vehicle mako

M35 Mako Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Mediocre 0 Good +3 6 Heavy Hull Plating x2, Power Boost Superb +5

Co-Axial Machinegun:

Damage: 2 (3 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 0 Range: 1 Autofire. Cost: Great +4

155mm Mass Accelerator Cannon:

Damage: 3 (4 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 0 Range: 2 Cost: Superb +5

The M35 Mako infantry fighting vehicle was designed for the Systems Alliance’s frigates. It is designed to fulfill the role of rapid deployment that its predecessor, the M29 Grizzly, fell short of accomplishing. Though the interior is cramped, an M35 is small enough to be carried in the cargo bay and easily deployed on virtually any world.

With its turreted 155mm mass accelerator cannon and coaxial-mounted machine gun, the Mako can provide a fire team with weapon support as well as mobility. Since Alliance marines may be required to fight on any world in a variety of planetary environments, the Mako is environmentally sealed and powered by a hydrogen-oxygen fuel cell.

The vehicle’s armor is tough enough to withstand high drops, extreme heat and cold and rough terrain. The Mako’s suspension and propulsion system allow the vehicle to adapt to various terrain, as well as enabling the vehicle to change direction quickly via independently reversible wheels (similar to a tank).

For deployment on low-gravity planetoids, it is equipped with micro-thrusters and a small element zero core, which can be used to increase mass and provide greater traction. While not large enough to nullify the vehicle’s mass, the core can reduce it enough to be safely air-dropped (a maneuver normally requiring a minimum of 100m of open terrain). This allows frigates to deploy their shore parties while limiting the ship’s exposure to defensive anti-aircraft artillery. When used in conjunction with thrusters, it also allows the Mako to extricate itself from difficult terrain.

The Mako’s hull is covered with laser detection arrays, which forewarn the crew of enemy laser-guided ordnance. Ground-penetrating radar allows detection of anti-vehicle mines and other subsurface anomalies. These will be brought to the attention of the crew by the vehicle’s micro-frame computer system.

Several combat support vehicles using the Mako’s basic chassis are manufactured for Alliance surface garrisons. These include a recon drone controller, a mobile air defense platform, and the M38 military ambulance nicknamed “Moby” because it is painted white during peacekeeping operations. Shipboard Marines exclusively use the tactically flexible and heavily armed base model.

Vehicle cerberus atlas


Poor -1 Average +1 5 Heavy Hull Plating, Shield +1 Fair +2

Mass Canon:

Damage: 2 (3 vs. Shields), Accuracy: 0, Range: 2 Cost: Great +4


Damage: 4 Accuracy: 2 Range: 2 Cost: Great +4 (requires a Fate Point)

With the Atlas, Cerberus’s research arm has combined the deadly armor and firepower of a YMIR mech with the tactical superiority of a trained human pilot. An element zero core allows the Atlas to be air-dropped onto a battlefield with minimal impact damage. Its thick armor includes a robust transparent canopy made from a polycrystalline composite proprietary to Cerberus. Alliance engineers hypothesize that the material is some kind of synthetic sapphire composed with interlayers to resist cracking and thermal damage.

Although the Atlas is somewhat unwieldy in the field, its antipersonnel machine guns and ability to shrug off damage from anything short of a heavy weapon makes it a fearsome opponent. Heavy loss of life is to be expected in any unprepared encounter with this unit.

X3M Aircar

Vehicle x3 m

Average +1 Good +3 4 none Good +3

Referred to colloquially as a “shuttle”, “skycar”, or “aircar”, the X3M is a contragravity speeder designed for transporting individuals in metropolises and space stations. Shuttles are compartmentalized into a pilot/passenger compartment and a propulsive drive compartment. In the pilot/passenger compartment, there are four seats with one of them reserved for the pilot. From either the forward left or right seat, a pilot controls the shuttle’s movements through the use of a haptic adaptive interface. The canopy of the shuttle is divided into two sections – a central section which lifts up, and a clamshell door. The windows of the vehicle can be darkened for the privacy of the passengers. Due to the limited storage space, passengers are limited to what they can carry or store on their bodies. Rear of this compartment, there is the propulsive drive powered by a mass effect field.

A shuttle can travel over 7 kilometers every 10 minutes. The relative slowness and short length of these vehicles permits a pilot to navigate or park in a confined space. X3Ms have shown the capacity to move forward, ascend or descend, or make turns. These shuttles require a small landing zone.


Vehicle kodiak

UT-47 Kodiak “Drop-Shuttle”

Average +1 Average +1 6 Heavy Hull Plating x2, Shields +1, Sensor Jammer Superb +7

Originally created to covertly insert Alliance marines into hostile environments, the UT-47 shuttle has since been sold to allies, recovered by enemies, and had its specifications stolen by spies. In one form or another, this durable transport is now used in all corners of the galaxy.

Nicknamed the “Combat Cockroach” by Alliance marines due to its durability and looks, the Kodiak drop shuttle is an interplanetary vehicle operated by a pilot and a co-pilot. It can carry up to 14 people, including the pilots, with a total of 12 in a cramped cargo space with full complement, as well as a VI. A true contragravitic vehicle, the Kodiak’s substantial element zero core allows flight by entirely countering the vehicle’s mass. Its small thrusters are for directional control only, so if the mass effect field fails, the vehicle becomes a proverbial “three-million-credit coffin”. The unarmed shuttle forgoes weaponry-space for active masking, electronic countermeasures, and a robust kinetic barrier system.

The Kodiak was extensively tested in the sulfuric acid and extreme temperatures of Venus, and can land in hard vacuum, high pressure, and temperatures from near-absolute zero to over 900 degrees Celsius.

A-model Kodiaks feature a front-mounted mass-accelerator cannon that can be used in an antivehicular role (Damage: 2/3 vs. shields; Range:2; Cost: Great +4). This is bought separately from the Kodiak Shuttle. Since the shuttle lacks proper gun ports, soldiers often open the side hatch to fire on enemies. This is discouraged in Alliance manuals, since it exposes the interior to return fire.

UT-47A Kodiak Mass-Accelerator Cannon:

Damage: 2 (3 vs. Shields), Accuracy: 0, Range: 2. Cost: Great +4

Flying the 47A during atmospheric combat requires considerable skill. The pilot must reduce the vehicle’s mass for speed and handling, while maintaining enough mass to resist recoil, incoming fire, and inclement weather. More than one pilot had overstressed the Kodiak’s field generator and ended up on the battlefield instead of above it.

Vehicle f61 triden fighter

Alliance F-61 Trident Fighter

Fair +2 Good +3 4 Agility 2, Shields +1 Epic +9


Damage: 2 (3 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 0 Range: 1 Autofire. Cost: Great +4

Disruptor Torpedo (Ship Scale)

Damage: 6 Accuracy: 2 Range: 2 Cost: Fantastic +6 (requires a Fate Point)

Fighters are single-pilot combat small craft. They are lightweight enough that they can be economically fitted with powerful element zero cores, making them capable of greater acceleration and sharper maneuvers than starships.

Kinetic barrier shields changed starship battles from short, vicious bloodbaths to extended, indecisive slugging matches. Only the main gun of a dreadnought could punch a mass accelerator slug through the barriers of an opposing dreadnought. This changed with the development of the fighter-launched mass disruptor torpedo, a short-ranged weapon that can penetrate kinetic barriers to destroy their projector assemblies.

Starship GARDIAN defenses must be overwhelmed through swarm tactics. Fighter groups can take heavy casualties pressing their torpedo attacks home. Once fighter-launched torpedoes have crippled an enemy’s barriers, the mass accelerators on frigates and cruisers can make short work of them.

Vehicle sx3 interceptor

SX3 Systems Alliance Interceptor

Good +3 Good +3 4 Agility 2 Epic +9


Damage: 2 (3 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 0 Range: 1 Autofire. Cost: Great +4

Interceptors like the Systems Alliance SX3 are a type of fighter optimized to attack other fighters, with no ability to damage starships. Interceptors are used to screen friendly units from incoming fighter attack.



Frigates are light escort and scouting vessels. They often have extensive GARDIAN systems to provide anti-fighter screening for capital ships, and carry a squad of marines for security and groundside duty. Unlike larger vessels, frigates are able to land on planets.

Vehicle alamo frigate

Alliance Alamo-class Frigate

Fair +2 Fair +2 6 Agility 2, Kinetic Shields 2 Legendary +12

Guardian Point Defense Lasers (Fighter Scale):

Damage: 2 (1 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 2 Range: 3 Autofire. Cost: Fantastic +6

Spinal Mass Accelerator Cannon:

Damage: 4 (5 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 0 Range: 3 Cost: Epic +7

Disruptor Torpedo Launchers

Damage: 6 Accuracy: 2 Range: 2 Cost: Fantastic +6 (requires a Fate Point)

The most important role filled by frigates is reconnaissance. Sensors, unlike ships and communications employing the mass effect, are limited to the speed of light. Subsequently, a stationary observer can only detect a vessel one light-year away when its light arrives at the observer’s location, one year after leaving said vessel.

Because faster-than-light attackers always arrive before defenders can detect them with luminal sensors, attackers can always surprise defenders. For defense, fleets surround themselves with spheres of scouting frigates scanning for enemy ships and transmitting warnings to the main body.

Frigates achieve high FTL cruise speeds because of their high-performance drives. They also have proportionally larger thrusters and lighter design mass, allowing them greater maneuverability. In combat, speed and maneuverability make frigates immune to long-range fire of larger vessels.

In fleet combat, frigates are organized into “wolf pack” flotillas of four to six. Wolf packs speed through enemy formations, hunting enemy vessels whose kinetic barriers have been taken down by fighter-launched disruptor torpedoes. The wolf pack circle-strafes vulnerable targets, using their superior speed and maneuverability to evade return fire.

Vehicle normandy

Alliance SR1 Normandy-class Frigate

Good +3 Fair +2 6 Agility 2, Kinetic Shields 2, Sensor Jammer Legendary +14

Guardian Point Defense Lasers (Fighter Scale):

Damage: 2 (1 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 2 Range: 3 Autofire. Cost: Fantastic +6

Spinal Mass Accelerator Cannon:

Damage: 4 (5 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 0 Range: 3 Cost: Epic +7

Disruptor Torpedo Launchers

Damage: 6 Accuracy: 2 Range: 2 Cost: Fantastic +6 (requires a Fate Point)


2 Bridge crew
5 CIC Officers
8 Command Deck Technicians
4 Marines
3 Engineers
1 Requisitions Officer

The SSV Normandy SR-1 (Systems Alliance Space Vehicle Normandy Stealth Reconnaissance-1) was a Systems Alliance starship. She is a prototype “deep scout” frigate, first of the eponymous Normandy class, co-developed by the Alliance and the Turian Hierarchy with the sponsorship of the Citadel Council. She is optimized for solo reconnaissance missions deep within unstable regions, using state-of-the-art stealth technology powered by an experimental drive core.

Commissioned in 2183, the Normandy was initially commanded by an Alliance officer named Elli Zander. After Zander came into conflict with turian chief engineer Octavio Tatum over the limits of the ship’s drive core, Zander was removed and David Anderson placed in command. Shortly thereafter, the Normandy was handed over to Commander Shepard when the Commander became the first human Spectre, and served as Shepard’s main source of transportation and base of operations.

The Normandy’s IES (internal emission sink) stealth system is her most notable feature. For centuries, it was assumed that starship stealth was impossible. The heat generated by routine shipboard operations is easily detectable against the near absolute zero background temperature of space. The Normandy, however, is able to temporarily “store” this heat in lithium heat sinks deep within the hull.

The IES stealth system has a few limitations. The system doesn’t work during FTL flight because this blue-shifts the Normandy’s emissions beyond the sinks’ ability to store, and even while out of FTL, any visual scan (i.e. looking out of a window) will reveal her. However, this is rare since most ships rely on scanners rather than visual contact and spotting another ship in space is difficult. The Normandy can go to ‘silent running’ for around 2-3 hours, or drift passively through a system for days before having to vent and give away her position. The stored heat must eventually be radiated, or it will build up to levels capable of cooking the crew alive.

The stealth system is powered by an experimental piece of equipment called the Tantalus Drive Core which is, proportionally, about twice the size of any other ship’s core – Tali’Zorah nar Rayya is fascinated at how the Alliance managed to fit it into such a compact vessel. Joker mentions the oversized drive core affects the Normandy’s balance, but it’s nothing he can’t handle. The Tantalus drive generates mass concentrations that the Normandy “falls into”, allowing her to move without the use of heat-emitting thrusters. The core not only makes the Normandy quiet and fast, but means she can run at FTL speeds for much longer before having to discharge the drive.

Should the Normandy’s design prove useful in field tests, it is expected that a follow-up class incorporating “lessons learned” will be produced.

Like all frigates, the Normandy Class is equipped with GARDIAN point defense lasers, kinetic barriers, and a spinal mass accelerator cannon. It may also be equipped with advanced Javelin dual disruptor torpedoes.

NOTE: This is the SR1 model that the Systems Alliance has used as a basis for production. The SR2 that Commander Shepherd captained was a substantial upgrade and while it was a superior vessel much of its technology was too experimental for the Navy shipyards to mass produce.


Cruisers are middle-weight combatants, faster than dreadnoughts, and more heavily-armed than frigates. Cruisers are the standard patrol unit, and often lead frigate flotillas. Cruisers cannot land on medium or high-gravity worlds, but do possess the ability to land on low-gravity planets.

Cruiser-weight starships are the standard combat unit encountered away from large naval bases, the “poor bloody infantry” of most fleets. Nimble scouting frigates have neither the punch nor the stamina to stand up to serious combat, and the mighty dreadnoughts are a strategic resource, carefully hoarded and committed to the most critical battles.

Cruisers perform routine independent “show the flag” patrols in settled systems and lead flotillas of frigates in small engagements, such as pirate suppression campaigns. In major fleet engagements, cruiser squadrons support the dreadnought battle line by screening their flanks against enemies attempting to maneuver for a main gun “bow shot” from their vulnerable broadsides.

Vehicle geneva cruiser

Alliance Geneva-class Cruiser

Average +1 Average +1 10 Heavy Hull Plating x2, Kinetic Shields 2 Legendary +15

Guardian Point Defense Lasers (Fighter Scale):

Damage: 2 (1 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 2 Range: 3 Autofire. Cost: Fantastic +6

Mass Effect Guns:

Damage: 3 (2 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 2 Range: 2 Cost: Epic +7

Spinal Mass Accelerator Cannon:

Damage: 6 Accuracy: 2 Range: 3 Cost: Epic +7 (requires a Fate Point)



Carriers are dreadnought-sized vessels that carry a large amount of fighters. All races provide their fleets with organic fighter support. Cruisers fit a handful in the space between the interior pressure hulls and exterior armor. Dreadnoughts have a hangar deck within the hull. Humans – who had only recently “graduated” from surface to space combat – were the first to build ships wielding fighters as the main armament.

In fleet combat, carriers stay clear of battle, launching fighters bearing disruptor torpedoes. Fighters are the primary striking power of the ship; if a carrier enters mass accelerator range of the enemy, things have gone very wrong.

It is possible to recover and rearm fighters during combat, though most carriers seal the flight deck and try to stay out of the way. The flight deck is essentially a corridor through the armor and into the heart of the vessel. A single well-placed torpedo is enough to gut a carrier.

Vehicle carrier

Alliance Hawking Class Carrier

Mediocre +0 Average +1 8 Kinetic Shields 2, Hangars for 4 Squadrons of Fighters Fantastic +18

Guardian Point Defense Lasers (Fighter Scale):

Damage: 2 (1 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 2 Range: 3 Autofire. Cost: Fantastic +6

Mass Effect Guns (Ship Scale):

Damage: 2 (3 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 0 Range: 2 Cost: Great +4


Dreadnoughts are kilometer-long capital ships mounting heavy, long-range firepower. They are only deployed for the most vital missions. A dreadnought’s power lies in the length of its main gun. Dreadnoughts range from 800 meters to one kilometer long, with a main gun of commensurate length. An 800-meter mass accelerator is capable of accelerating one twenty-kilogram slug to a velocity of 4025 km/s (1.3% the speed of light) every two seconds. Each slug has the kinetic energy of about 38 kilotons of TNT, about two and a half times the energy released by the fission weapon that destroyed Hiroshima.

The Treaty of Farixen stipulates the amount of dreadnoughts a navy may own, with the turian peacekeeping fleet being allowed the most. As of 2183, the turians had 37 dreadnoughts, the asari had 21, the salarians had 16, and the Alliance had 6 with another under construction. As of 2185, the dreadnought count was 39 turian, 20 asari, 16 salarian, and 8 human. By 2186, humans construct a ninth dreadnought, and the volus have built a single dreadnought of their own. The geth, unbound by the treaty, possess almost as many dreadnoughts as the turians. In preparation for the retaking of their homeworld, the quarians fitted their Liveships with dreadnought cannons, effectively making them dreadnought-class vessels. The batarians are stated to possess dreadnoughts, but the exact number is unknown.

Dreadnoughts are so large that it is impossible to safely land them on a planet, and must discharge their drive cores into the magnetic field of a planet while in orbit. The decks of large vessels are arranged perpendicular to the ship’s axis of thrust, so that the “top” decks are towards the front of the ship and the “bottom” decks are towards the rear of the ship.

Vehicle ak dreadnought

Alliance Kilimanjaro-class Dreadnought

Mediocre +0 Poor -1 12 Heavy Hull Plating x2, Kinetic Shields 2 Legendary +16

Guardian Point Defense Lasers (Fighter Scale):

Damage: 2 (1 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 2 Range: 3 Autofire. Cost: Fantastic +6

Broadside Mass Accelerator Cannons x2 (Ship Scale):

Damage: 4 (3 vs. Shields) Accuracy: 2 Range: 2 Cost: Legendary +8

Mass Accelerator Main Spinal Gun:

Damage: 7 Accuracy: 2 Range: 4 Cost: Legendary +9 (requires a Fate Point)

The Alliance has two dreadnought classes currently in service, the older Everest class and the newer Kilimanjaro class. The Everest class is an 888-meter dreadnought with a main gun capable of accelerating a 20 kilogram slug to 1.3% the speed of light (4025 km/s) for a kinetic energy yield equivalent to 38 kilotons of TNT. The Kilimanjaro class is armed with 156 broadside mass accelerator cannons, 78 on each side. The broadside guns are each as long as 40% of the ship’s width.