clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Expanse RPG is getting a big book of ships — here’s an exclusive look

Ships of the Expanse was created with the help of the original authors

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Image: Green Ronin Publishing
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Green Ronin Publishing, the team behind The Expanse tabletop role-playing game, has an exciting new book on the way. Titled The Ships of the Expanse, it’s basically a Monster Manual but for starships. Pre-orders of the 144-page sourcebook are now live, and the digital version will be ready as soon as this November. Polygon has an exclusive preview of the the entire list of ships included, and your first look at the franchise’s most popular vessel — the Rocinante.

The Expanse, a wildly popular series of science fiction books and a beloved television series, was adapted into a role-playing game thanks to a crowdfunding campaign in 2018. But even before that, authors Ty Franck and Daniel Abraham who write under the pen name S. A. Corey) explored the setting in their own homebrew RPG. Co-writer Will Sobel says that makes them uniquely suited to help Green Ronin bring these maps to life.

A deck plan for the Rocinante shows 10 decks in total, plus the fusion engine itself. Image: Green Ronin Publishing

“They kind of gave us free rein,” Sobel told Polygon in an interview. “They give us feedback and tweaks here and there, to make sure that we’re being true to their vision, while also giving us enough room to breathe.”

Originally commissioned as the Martian Congressional Republic Navy (MCRN) light-frigate Tachi, the ship was renamed Rocinante at the end of the first book in the series, titled Leviathan Wakes. It would go on to become the primary setting for the next several novels, and also play a huge role in the television series. Fans will notice that Green Ronin has been true to the series’ roots as hard science fiction, including stacking the decks of the ship perpendicular to its axis of thrust. The result is a tall, narrow structure that looks like an office building or a wizards tower.

Cover art for Ships of the Expanse shows a heavy ship passing over the surface of Mars. Image: Green Ronin Publishing

Sobel said that the book, which is available for pre-order starting today, will include nearly 30 ships pulled from the lore of The Expanse. Rules will allow players to use the vessels for ship-to-ship combat and as the settings for their own adventures and encounters.

“What deck plans allowed us to do is basically say, ‘Here are also a bunch of maps,’” Sobel said. “If you doing a heist and you’re breaking into a ship, or if you’ve stowed away, or whatever, here are maps that you can use for the inside of the ship. But also, now you know what your ship looks like, so that if you’re doing the ship-to-ship combat or space combat, you’ve got an idea of how that fits into your tactical plan.”

But will the Rocinante depicted in Ships of the Expanse have the secret sauce that made it so pivotal in saving Earth from destruction? Sobel says that there’s no protomolecule on board the Roci as depicted in this book. If fans are interested in slapping some blue goo behind the bulkheads in the cargo bay, they should check out Abzu’s Bounty — six scenarios designed for a new crew of characters. You can get it straight from the publisher (hardcover and PDF), digitally via DriveThruRPG, on Amazon, and at local game stores. You can also find a quickstart guide for the core game, which is available for free online.

Ships of the Expanse is available as a hardcover book for $39.95 (with an estimated shipping date of the first quarter of 2021) and a PDF for $19.95. Digital copies are also available via DriveThruRPG.

Here’s a full list of the ships that will be included in the final product:

Civilian Ships

  • Gleason-type Repair Skiff
  • Tereshkova-type Shuttle
  • Schmitt-type Rockhopper
  • Vāyu Racing Pinnace
  • Grendel-class Light Freighter
  • Narlikar-class Research Vessel
  • Peseshet-class Medical Support Ship
  • Cornucopia-class Supply Ship
  • Tsai Shen-class Luxury Yacht
  • Chaucer-class Water Hauler
  • Anne-Bonny-class Pirate Ship

MCRN Ships

  • Asp-class fast attack craft
  • Troika-class Dropship
  • Corvette-class Light Frigate
  • Morgaina-class Patrol Destroyer
  • Banshee-class Destroyer
  • Raptor-class Fast-Attack Cruiser
  • Scirocco-class Assault Cruiser
  • Donnager-class Destroyer

United Nations Navy (UNN) Ships

  • Mulan-class gunship
  • UNN Dropship Skiffs (Insertion-type and Marauder-type)
  • Phantom-class escort
  • Murphy-class light destroyer
  • Andronicus-class destroyer
  • Munroe-class light destroyer
  • Truman-class dreadnought
  • Xerxes-class battleship