Ship Mechanics

Information on ship systems and mechanics for the budding engineer.

Also required reading:

Ship Components

Please note that this material was originally posted by ghoostroo on the now-defuct forum Waves in the Black. A kind soul preserved the information and passed it on to me and now it is here for everyone to use. It may be possible the information survives on the second home of WitB, the Cortex System forum. It was then posted to The RPG Net wiki by Maer.

Algae Beds

Shallow water tanks containing algae, scrubbed atmo is bubbled into the bottom and the 02 rich atmo is vacuumed off the top of the tanks. The tanks are 1 meter deep and arranged in racks of two tanks high x two tanks across.

Atmo Converter

Atmosphere recycling and scrubbing system for the ship. Using a closed-loop recycling system, ship’s atmo can be recycled as long as there is power.

A-line (Atmo Line)

Power feed to the pumps that suck in air and run it through the scrubbers.

Attitude Hydraulics

Hydraulic system that controls what direction the Pod is pointing.


Term for shutting down all ships systems and relying on Battery power only. Greatly reduces a ships thermal and electromagnetic signature, helpful for avoiding scans.

Buffer Panel

Divided into Main and Secondary Panels, these are the emitters for the Screen Converter. The Buffer Panels ensure the Screening Field is evenly distributed about the ship and creates the inertialess effect that the ship relies upon for travel.

C-Line (Capacitance Line)

Power circuit that keeps the Power Cells charged using a flow-through system. The Power Cells are actually the source of power for the ships electrical systems and are constantly being recharged by the Capacitance Line. In this fashion charge level memory is avoided. The Capacitance Line feeds power to the Primary Power Cells as well as the FireCell.


Part of the Compression Coil that generates power and makes the engine turn. The Catalyzer converts thermal energy to motive force, spinning the Trace Compression Block Engine. Receiving pressurized Plasma from the Compression Coil, the Plasma is distributed to the Turbine Collectors that drive the Trace Compression Block Engine.

Compression Coil

Necessary to run Trace Compression Block Engine, the Compression Coil contains the Catalyzer as a component.. The Compression Coil is the collector of Tapped Plasma, placing it under pressure and firing it into the Catalyzer for conversion.

Electro-magnetic bottle

An electromagnetic field used to contain the fusion reaction of a Fire Plant.

Fire Cell

The separate Power Cell used to start a Fire Plant from cold. It is a standard Power Cell save it has a specialized function. A Fire Cell can be used four times before it requires an hours worth of recharging with the engine running. (15 minutes recharging per charge)

Fire Plant

Colloquial term for the Fusion power plant, a fusion reaction within an electromagnetic bottle. The Fire Plant has its own Power Cell, sometimes called the Fire Cell, used to create the Electro-magnetic bottle within which the fusion reaction is then initiated. Fusion plants are rarely shut down, unless going to Blackout.

Fuel Cells

Hydrogen-Oxygen tanks that are used to provide fuel to the Fire Drive and to the Pods. Fuel Cells are modular and quickly removable on many military craft, enabling rapid refueling. Transports have Static Fuel Cells that are refilled from Spaceport refueling systems.

Grav Boot

Artificial gravity generator portion of the Trace Compression Block engine.

Grav Dampener Circuit

Portion of the engine that controls inertial dampening, part of the larger Screening field system. Without it working correctly, the ship’s vector cannot be altered without killing the crew. The Nav fail-safes will disable course alteration until the Grav Dampner is fixed or velocity is dropped to nil. More info on Grav Dampners w/ photos

Gravity Line (aka G-Line)

The power line from the engine to the Grav Boot, the artificial gravity generator.

Hydraulic Lock

Circuit that co-ordinates the attitude of the pods to ensure the ship maintains a flyable attitude. This circuit must be disabled for non-standard manoeuvres such as a Crazy Ivan.

H- Line (Hydrogen)

Conduit for Hydrogen from tanks to Mixing Chamber in Reaction Drive.

Induction Fan

Atmospheric element of a Reaction Drive, aspirating atmosphere to add additional oxygen to a Reaction drive rocket.


By emitting an opposite wave emission, the effects of the Grav Damper Circuit are nullified and the affected ship cannot lift off. To achieve this effect, you need access to the planet’s gravity generators. Authority for use of this is usually only available to the planet or moon’s Magistrate and is actuated by the Spaceport control. More info on Grav Dampners w/ photos

Mixing Chamber

Actual rocketry chamber for a reaction drive, where superheated plasma, combined with Hydrogen and atmosphere (if present) creates a reaction drive effect.

Plasma Conduit

Conduit for superheated Plasma tapped off Electro-Magnetic Bottle and directed to Mixing Chamber in Reaction Drive.


Encompassing term for Reaction drive rocket motor. Contains the H-Line (Hydrogen), Plasma Conduit, Mixing Chamber, Induction Fan, Attitude Hydraulics

Power Cell

Loops of high temperature super conducting wire store surplus ships power for emergency use should the Trace Compression Block Engine have to be shut down. The Power cells are kept at full charge via the Capacitance Line.

Pulse Drive

The added ducting and circuits that enable the Screen Converter and the Grav Boot to create the Inertial Wave effect that enables much faster travel in the Black. The Pulse drive also includes a high-impulse rocket motor for the initial kick.

Screen Converter

The whole system that creates and maintains the Screening Field; the Grave Dampener Circuit is a component. Spaceships do not travel well without a Screening Field as their mass to power ratio depends on it.


The passive filters used to filter CO2 and particulates out of the atmosphere. O2 from the Algae Beds is skimmed off with induction fans and the fresh atmo is pumped back into the ship.

Sensors, Cold

Colloquial expression for the passive sensors. Picking up the ambient energy in the Black, these sensors do not alert other shipping to their use.

Sensors, Hot

Active sensors that scan targets for specific types of information. Passive sensors can detect active scans.


Rod-like device that forms part of the Pulse Drive. It forms a crucial part of the circuits that synchronise (hence its name) the interface of the Grave Boot and Grave Dampener Circuit that enables a Pulse Drive to function.

Thermo Coupling

Conduit for plasma from the Electro-magnetic Bottles to the Compression Coil.

Trace Compression Block Engine

Simplified Grav drive designed specifically for the Firefly Class transport ship. This refers to the entire engine and indicates the interdependency of all systems. The spinning of the Trace Compression Block Engine functions as a multipurpose turbine, generating electric power and driving the myriad pumps and hydraulic systems required to run a spaceship.

Turbine Collectors

Four turbines within the Trace Compression Block Engine, are motivated by high-pressure plasma to spin, thus spinning the entire drive and providing the motive force for the machinery.

Ship Mechanics

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