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Peace Through Superior Firepower:

The Marines, Patrol and Rangers in GURPS® Space™

Copyright 1995, 2002 by Brandon Cope

Note: This article was written well before Space 3/e was released. All page references, and starship designs, are for Space 2/e. I may some day update the article for the latest edition.

Whether the party is running from them or fighting at their side, the Marines, Patrol and Rangers will play more than a passing role in most GURPS Space campaigns. This article expands on the information given in GURPS Space and GURPS Ultra-Tech™. Included are character templates for each service and two ships, used by the Patrol and Marines repectively.

The point cost for each template is the total of listed skills, required advantages and disadvantages, and minimum stats over 10. Beam Weapon skill levels do not include the character's IQ bonus. The templates represent well-trained and moderately experienced characters. Characters fresh from training will have several skills at a level lower, while veterans will have higher level and additional skills.

Equipment was assigned and starships built for a generic TL 10 universe; if your campaign differs, make any appropriate changes. Any equipment listed comes from GURPS Space or GURPS Ultra-Tech.

Send in the Marines!

As noted in GURPS Space, the Marines are the ground arm of the Navy and also serve as security on warships. They differ from regular ground forces in that they are trained to fight in space and on the ground; the Army just uses the Navy as transportation. Marines are also better equipped and trained. Unlike other military branches, Marines are generally given a fair amount of leeway in their conduct. Since most real trouble-makers are bounced out during basic training, leaving only dedicated soldiers, Marine conduct rarely gets too far out of hand. However, a Marine that steps over the line can expect a quick and severe punishment.

The smallest unit in the Marines is the squad, eleven men lead by a Sergeant (Rank 1). A section consists of three squads led by a Sergeant First Class (Rank 2). A platoon consists of three sections and a Lieutenant (Rank 3), and forms the basic unit used by the Marines. A company consists of four platoons and a Captain (Rank 4). Larger units can be created if needed, but is rarely done except in emergencies or a major war. Marine ranks follow those given on p.B22.

While Marines are well-armored when going into combat (see below), those serving as security will normally wear lighter armor, such as reflex (or reflec over monocrys), since normal battlefield armor is quite bulky for wear on a starship.

The weapons listed below are for a typical Marine. In each squad one member carries an M-LAWS and two spare clips (dropping the IML), with an X-ray laser pistol sidearm, and two or three Marines per platoon will carry X-ray gatling lasers, usually mounted on articulated weapon harnesses. Other weapons may be used as the situation demands, including military X-ray dino lasers and flamers. Marines serving as security will carry heavy X-ray laser pistols rather than any sort of rifle. In cases where a boarded ship is to be taken more-or-less intact, lighter weaponry will be used.

The Marines can be divided into three general branches:

Combat: This is the primary branch, with the Marine usually having some form of transportation, ranging from tracked APCs to hover tanks to personal grav belts. Marines that are serving as ship's troops do not have transport other than the ship itself. There are no separate Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery and Armor branches, due to the elite and specialized nature of the Marines. While there is no elite force (commandoes) within the Marines, many troops receive specialized training for guerilla and urban warfare, as well as other areas. A typical Marine platoon functions as a mixed Mechanized Cavalry and Armor unit.

Support: Marines in this branch are trained in the use and repair of various types of equipment. It also includes various services such as cooks, clerks, doctors, military police, etc. Most Marines in this branch don't see much combat and are issued lighter weapons and armor.

Flight: This branch may or may not exist, depending on the campaign. Usually, the Marines will operate a small number of their own spacecraft, including fighters, scouts, shuttles and light troop ships for close support of Marines. Heavier ships will be operated by the Navy.

Marine Template
Base Point Cost: 83
Minimum Stats: ST, DX and HT of 12, IQ 10
Required Advantages: none
Suggested Advantages: Military Rank, Combat Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, Reputation, Toughness, Alertness, G-Experience
Required Disadvantages: Extremely Hazardous Duty to Marines, all the time (-20 points)
Suggested Disadvantages: Bad Temper, Overconfident, Code of Honor, Odious Personal Habits of all sorts
Required Skills:

Plus ten points in a Marine's branch (suggested skills):


Support: Flight: Armor: Powered Combat Armor or Infantry Combat Armor with chameleon option, laser sensors, and full TL 10 helmet accessories: sensor visor, short-range communicator, holographic HUD, interface jack, no-faceplate
Weapons: X-ray military laser rifle, large vibroknife (bayonet), four concussion grenades, two blackout gas grenades and an Infantry Missile Launcher. Officers (Rank 3 and up) will also carry a sonic blade.
Medical: emergency medkit with five doses Quickheal, one dose Antirad, one each DX, ST and HT Adder, one dose Rage
Other: two weeks concentrated rations, inertial compass, personal kit, envirobag, chronometer, belt flashlight, utility belt

Here Comes the Cops!

The Patrol, as described on pp.17-18 of GURPS Space, is primarily an intergalactic police agency intended to combat piracy and smuggling. Their power and jurisdiction largely depend on the interstellar society (see GURPS Space, pp.8-15). In some instances the Navy and Patrol is one entity, and ranges from benevolent (the Church Peaceforcers in GURPS Humanx®) to malevolent (the Imperial Navy in Star Wars). For the purposes of this article, it will be assumed that the Patrol only has jurisdiction in deep space, or in-system with local permission.

Status within the Patrol is bought as Military Rank, patterned after the Navy: Patrolman (Rank 0), Senior Patrolman (Rank 1), Warrant Officer (Rank 2), Ensign (Rank 3), Lieutenant (Rank 4), Commander (Rank 5), Captain (Rank 6), Sector Admiral (Rank 7) and Fleet Admiral (Rank 8). Despite the military titles, the Patrol is a civilian agency.

Patrolmen may sometimes be issued heavier armor, usually Medium Combat Armor or an Armored Vacc Suit, for special missions such as a raid on a pirate base. However, Patrolmen need special permission to use personal items of Legality Class 0-1; if a Patrolman must be equipped that heavily, the Marines should probably be sent instead! Patrol ships, however, tend to be heavily armed and armored, but are not as large as Navy vessels. Common alternative weapons include launch pistols, blaster rifles, stunners and paralysis guns.

Like the Marines, the Patrol also has several branches:

Support: This functions like the Technical branch of the Marines, and also includes guards at penal facilities and administrative positions. The names of ranks differ, depending on the patrolman's particular sub-branch (technician, clerk, etc.)

Covert Operations: While similar to the Marine Commando, this branch is principally used to combat organized crime, though in repressive societies it serves as the secret police. This is the smallest Patrol branch.

Field: Most Patrolmen belong to this branch, whether they are stationed on the ground or aboard ship. The template below is based on service in this branch.

Patrolman Template
Base Point Cost: 51
Minimum Stats: DX and IQ 11, ST 9, HT 10
Required Advantages: +1 Reputation (5 points), Legal Enforcement Powers (5 points minimum)
Suggested Advantages: Alertness, Combat Reflexes, Common Sense, Contacts, Military Rank
Required Disadvantages: Duty to Patrol (12 or less, -10 points)
Suggested Disadvantages: Code of Honor, Sense of Duty, Honesty
Required Skills:

Plus two of: Armor: reflex armor or reflec over medium monocrys
Weapons: heavy laser pistol (with variable beam and recognition pad), small vibro-knife
Medical: as Marines, but replace Adders and Rage with Superstim, add smart bandage
Other: short range communicator, chronometer, utility belt, flashlight, neuronic handcuffs, weapon transponder

High Mountains and Open Plains

The Rangers are an unusual service, encompassing the roles of police, paramedics, survivalists and guerrilla soldiers. They are frequently attached to the Navy and Patrol for special duty. Otherwise, they are keeping order on frontier planets, taking part in rescue operations, organizing resistance against rebel forces or protecting Survey missions. No one said the life of a Ranger was boring!

While the number of skills in the template below may seem large, remember that a Ranger must be prepared to deal with countless problems under unusual circumstances. Rangers have a largely deserved reputation for ignoring laws and regulations when it suits them, with judges tending to look the other way unless the abridgement was flagrant. However, Rangers despise corrupt Rangers more than anything else and actively police their own ranks. Still, if anyone can be rowdier than a Marine, it's a Ranger.

Rangers rarely carry heavy weapons, preferring to rely on  civilian arms like laser rifles and pistols. Likewise, if any armor is worn, it tends to be light, though exploration suits are commonly worn due to their non-combat uses. In a military  situation, however, a Ranger is often better armed and armored than a Marine. Other gear sometimes carried includes survival modules, multiscanners, vacc suits and other survival gear. In situations where heavier equipment is needed, it is (usually) provided based on the preferences and at the request of each Ranger.

As expected for a paramilitary organization, Rangers use military-style ranks: Recruit (Rank 0), Ranger (Rank 1), Veteran Ranger (Rank 2), Ranger Leader (Rank 3), Senior Ranger Leader (Rank 4) and Ranger Commander (Rank 5). There are no higher ranks in the Rangers, but they will answer to higher ranking officers in whatever service they are attached to (or the Patrol). Except for special missions, Rangers tend to work alone, though calls for aid from other Rangers (rarely made) are almost always acknowledged.

Unlike most other services, Rangers have no branches. They are usually considered part of the Patrol, but may be attached to any service as required. As noted above, a Ranger may be assigned to a variety of missions, which have interstellar security as a thin thread connecting them. Because of the diversity of skills and assignments, a Ranger is a good choice for a solo player character.

Ranger Template
Base Point Cost: 74
Minimum Stats: DX and IQ 11, ST 10, HT 11
Required Advantages: +1 Reputation (5 points), Legal Enforcement Powers (5 points normally, 10 points if serving as sheriff)
Suggested Advantages: Alertness, Absolute Direction, Combat Reflexes, Common Sense, Contacts, G-Experience, Military Rank
Required Disadvantages: Duty to Rangers (15 or less, -15 points)
Suggested Disadvantages: Code of Honor, Sense of Duty (to Rangers, citizens or both), Honesty, Overconfident
Required Skills:

Plus four of: Armor: exploration suit or medium monocrys
Weapons: laser pistol (with variable beam), laser rifle, small vibro-knife, vibro-machete (treat as shortsword)
Medical: as Patrol
Other: medium range communicator, chronometer, utility belt, flashlight, two weeks concentrated rations, inertial compass, personal kit, envirobag, nightshades

New Professional Skills

Law Enforcement: The character has been trained in basic police procedure. Most police in a nation are covered by the same skill, though some (military police, for example) might be considered different enough to use a separate skill. Law Enforcement is usually learned in a police academy. Roll against Law Enforcement whenever the character makes an arrest; a failure indicates that the arrest may be thrown out on a technicality, the worse the failure the more likely it will occur (GM's call). The skill may also be used in other instances as determined by the gamemaster.

Soldier: The character knows the proper code of conduct, regulations and chains-of-command for a military arm of a specific nation (eg., Alliance Space Marines). This skill is usually learned in boot camp. Use of this skill should be determined by the gamemaster.

New Starships

Pegasus class missile corvette

The standard vessel of the Patrol, and frequently used by the Navy, the Pegasus ships are potent vessels when used in anti-piracy and anti-smuggling roles. They have heavy defenses and pack a solid offensive punch. Like most combat vessels, redundant systems have been installed. Four first-class cabins are included to permit the carrying of VIPs. The ten-man brig has its own (limited) life support, or can use the ship's backup full life system.

The two particle beams are bow mounted and the missile tubes mounted port and starboard amidships. The light lasers are in ten turrets spread around the ship at two per turret and are fired by the computer primarily for point-defense use. All weapons are controlled from the bridge.

Craft: Pegasus class missile corvette
Hull: 5000 cy, 2675.1 tons, 4 g stress, winged hull, total compartmentalization, retractable landing gear, two four-man airlocks, hull integrity=17
Drives: 2500 MW fusion reactor, 1000 MW-h capacitors, 1000 ton thrust reactionless, hyperdrives (100 units)
Performance: 0.374 g acceleration
Weaponry: 2 heavy particle beams, 20 light lasers, 2 heavy missile tubes with 100 HE and 200 atomic missiles
Defenses: DF 5 armor, level 4 miniature stealth (total DF = 8, PF = 100,000)
Electronics: two reliable sensors, artificial gravity
Computer: Optic Microframe for 20 users (software varies)
Crew: 20 crew (commander, helmsman, navigator, 2 gunners, sensor operator, 2 medics, 6 engineers, 6 security), 4 first-class passengers, 10 steerage passengers (brig), two full 24-man life systems, 50 man-day limited life system (brig only)
Other: four automedics, one of each portable shop, cargo: 487.5 cy, $195,565,000

Nagumu class troop ship

The Nagumu ships are quick-reaction vessels, designed to get a useful number of troops from one area to another as fast as possible. The ships have sufficient cargo space to carry any vehicles used by the platoon (a typical APC: 30 cy, 25 tons, 3 man crew plus 11 infantry, PD 6, DR 2000 front, DR 1000 left, right and rear, DR 500 top and underside, top speed 80 mph on tracks, armed with an X-ray gatling laser and an M-LAWS or electromag mortar; for rules on constructing more detailed APCs, see GURPS Vehicles™). Three or four Nagumus are kept in a stand-by orbit around a planet with a Marine or Navy base. The six open crew positions are usually Marine specialists (support branch) or Rangers, varying from ship to ship.

The lasers are for point-defense and arranged in five quadruple batteries. There are two missile tubes bow and stern, each with half the missile load. The atomic missiles are used against ground targets only in emergencies.

Craft: Nagumu class troop ship
Hull: 5000 cy, 1486.25 tons, 6 g stress, winged hull, four large airlocks, four standard airlocks, retractable landing gear, 600 cy ship hangar, total compartmentalization, hull integrity=14
Drives: 650 MW fusion reactor, 600 MW-h capacitors, 330-ton thrust reactionless, hyperdrives (100 units)
Performance: 0.222g acceleration
Weaponry: 20 light lasers, 4 light missile tubes with 200 HE and 100 atomic missiles
Defenses: DF 4 armor, level 2 miniature stealth (total DF = 5, PF = 10,000)
Electronics: two standard sensors, artificial gravity (3g)
Computer: Optic Microframe for 20 users (software varies)
Crew: 50 crew (captain, first officer, four pilots, 2 sensor operators, 8 medics, 6 engineers, 10 technicians, 8 gunners, 1 platoon leader, 6 extra) 102 steerage (one platoon), 152-man full life support
Other: 2 Lancer shuttles (p.S87), 20 automedics, one of each portable shop, 125 cy cargo, $102,049,000