TW-SF-5 “Thunderbird” Light Fighter (Modified SF-5 Starling):

As one might expect from the name of the fighter, the “Thunderbird’s” enchantment are based on storms, thunder, and lightning. The enchantment creates multiple balls of lightning which orbit the fighter. These create a lightning field which helps to protect the fighter against most attacks. As long as at least three balls continue orbiting the fighter, the fighter is protected. Balls can be launched as short range weapons and destroyed. However, they will be restored within fifteen seconds and are tiny targets to hit. The enchantment is fed through a tiny rift to elemental plane of air.

The field acts to detonate or destroy incoming missiles before they can ever strike the light fighter. It is also effective protection against most projectile weapons, including rail guns. Most will be shredded into little more than atoms before they can reach the fighter. While the field is active, it gives protection against electrical attacks including ion weaponry and even magical lightning.

The Human Alliance SF-5 Starling is among the oldest space fighters still in operational service in the Three Galaxies. Of course, it has long been retired from Human Alliance service. As time has gone on, the number of these fighters has dwindled and t is only operated in extremely limited numbers. Considered to be of limited combat ability, the old light fighter is normally only operated in limited combat roles and some civilian owners have these old fighters as well.

Techno-Wizards often like older designs and a group decided to create a techno-wizard version of the Human Alliance SF-Starling.  The first set of fighters which were converted were originally purchased for the fighter compliment of the converted Dwarven Iron Ship named “Thunderstroke.” They were later fully rebuilt. Several groups showed an interest in the rebuilt fighters and they began selling upgraded versions of the old light fighter along with an upgraded version of the Tiger IV medium fighter. Nominally, the techno-wizards are usually listed as being in the United Worlds Warlock but are more or less independent. These rebuilt fighters are not operated by the United Worlds Warlock navy however they are operated in limited numbers by some self defense forces within Warlock space.

With more than some merit, it has been argued that these fighters are really an all new fighter which uses some limited components from the original fighter. In fact, the Starling is basically stripped down to its frame and, as suggested, few original components are used. The replacement components are instead a combination of modern civilian and military systems. Many of the light fighters which are upgraded have often already been stripped and are not operational. As a result, the fighters are able to often be purchased cheaply.

With the light fighter stripped completely, it is easy to reinforce the frame in several key areas to make the fighter stronger than it was originally. The original armor skin of the fighter is replaced by a modern combination of advanced composites and alloys. With the reinforcements to the frame and the modern armor, the Thunderbird is far better protected than the original Starling. However, it is not as strong as many modern such as the Consortium SF-69 Scorpion. There was an attempt made to get the same materials used for the Shadow Bolt fighter and be impervious to all non-magical energy weapons. However, that would have simply made the Thunderbird too expensive.

The engines on the Starling were completely outdated with many larger warships ships rivaling the old light fighter with regards to acceleration. There is a fairly robust industry supporting the Vixen fighter with large numbers still in service. It was decided to replace the original engines on the light fighter with engines mounted on the Vixen. These engines were original developed for a extremely long range cruise missile which never entered service. The missile would have been far larger than modern cruise missiles, in fact almost the size of a light fighter itself. Due to Thunderbird massing slightly more than the Vixen, the techno-wizard fighter has slightly less acceleration.

A new fusion plant is fitted to fighter to provide power. Trying to maintain the old reactors is extremely difficult. Unlike the engines, the new power plant is a civilian design. It does however provide far greater power than the original reactor while being more compact. In addition, the fusion plant requires very little maintenance. The fusion plant is designed to go up to six years between needing to be refueled.

As the engines are slightly larger than the original engines, the fuel for the auxiliary thrusters had to be virtually deleted. The thruster is actually original equipment unlike the vast majority of the systems on the Thunderbird. Wanting to keep the thrusters for additional acceleration, the techno-wizards had an inventive solution. The fuel kept in a series of dimensional pockets. It was found however that the fighter’s thruster would overheat after thirty minutes of thrust requiring a ten minute cool down. There was consideration given towards limiting fuel to thirty minutes as a result. In then end however it was decided that the fighter would carry a full hour of fuel but a safety would engage after thirty minutes to allow the thruster to cool down.

If the fighter had retained the rail guns, they could not effectively be fired through the lightning field which usually protects the fighter. As a result, it was decided to replace these with enchanted weapon systems. The fighter mounts a pair of heavy telekinetic machine guns in the nose replacing the original rail guns although they stick out slightly further. In addition, the fighter mounts a pair of sub-particle acceleration cannons in the wing roots. While the enchantments on the machine guns have to be renewed each month, the sub-particle acceleration cannons are fed from the elemental rift and does not need recharging.

With regard to missiles, there was only so much reinforcements which could be done with regards to the fighter. However, the two outer hard points were slightly strengthened allowing them to carry long range missiles. However, the only two hard points stressed for capital missiles are the two fuselage hard points. As an independent design, it was decided to not adapt the fighter for bottle demon missiles. A common tactic by the pilot is to launch missiles and then activated the lightning field in order to protect the fighter from missiles fired in return.

The light fighter is fitted with a number of additional techno-wizard enchantments. Unlike the lightning field, these enchantments require mystical or psychic energy from the pilot in order to be activated. While it is not absolutely necessary, it is best that the pilot is a spell caster or a powerful psychic.

As the lightning field does not protect against energy weapons, except for those which are electrical based, it was decided to have the common enchantment making the fighter impervious to energy weapons. Initially the idea of fitting a force field was discussed and discarded due to the fact that the fighter is well protected against both energy weapons and most physical attacks. In the end however, there were concerns with regard to telekinetic weapons. As a result, a light “Invincible Armor” force field was fitted.

With the lightning field active, the light fighter is surrounded by a halo which makes the fighter impossible to cloak with most enchantments. The fighter will actually be invisible but the sphere of lightning will still be easily detected and tracked. Of course, the pilot does not have to run with the lightning active. To give the light fighter a measure of stealth, the Thunderbird has the enchantments of “Invisibility Superior” and “Shadow Meld.”

Sensor equipment and control system have advanced greatly since the Starling entered service. As a result, the Thunderbird mounts basically all new electronics. They are not always the absolute most modern systems but they are far better than those which they replace. The more advanced controls do reduce pilot management tasks to a large extend and greatly improve situation awareness. The cockpit itself has been modified as well to increase pilot comforts.

This starfighter design uses modified starship speed and weapon range rules. See Revised Starship Rules for Phase World / Three Galaxies for more details.

Model Type: TW-SF-5.

Vehicle Type: Techno-Wizard Light Space Fighter.

Crew:   One.

M.D.C. By Location:


[1] “Ball Lightning” Balls (5 total): 

20 each.


Sub Particle Acceleration Cannons (2, Wing Roots):

100 each.


Heavy Telekinetic Machine Gun Mounts (2, Nose):

100 each.


Missile Hard Points (5, on the Underside):

10 each.


[2] Wings (2):

180 each.


[3] Auxiliary Engine:



[4] Main Body:



Cockpit / Reinforced Pilot’s Compartment:



[5] Magical “Invincible Armor” Force Field:



[1] These are small and difficult targets to strike, requiring the attacker to make a “called shot,” but even then the attacker is -4 to strike.

[2] Destroying a wing will cause the fighter to crash if it is flying within an atmosphere. Destruction of a wing has no effect on flight / propulsion in space.

[3] If the auxiliary engine is destroyed, the ship’s acceleration is reduced to 1.45 percent of light per turn.

[4] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will put the starfighter out of commission. All internal systems will shut down, including life support and internal gravity. The fighter itself will be an unsalvageable floating wreck.

[5] This is not a variable force field, but a magical shield that must be completely depleted. Regenerates at the rate of 2D6 M.D.C. per melee round. Furthermore, all energy attacks, magic or mundane, inflict only half their usual damage to the “Invincible Armor.” Once the shield has been knocked down, it will cost 30 P.P.E. and require fifteen seconds (1 melee round) of spell casting to restore the force field. When knocked down, no additional damage beyond which destroyed the shield will be transferred to the fighter.


Driving on the Ground: Not Possible.

Sublight: Has a special sublight engine that allows the ship to travel up to 40 percent of the speed of light. Fighter can accelerate/decelerate at the rate of 1.45 percent of light per melee maximum. Fighter has auxiliary thrusters which can be used a maximum of 30 minutes before the thruster overheats. It then requires a 10 minute cooling period engaged by an automatic safety system. The fighter does carry enough fuel in dimensional pockets for 60 minutes of thrusters total before fuel is exhausted. On auxiliary thrusters, the fighter has a maximum acceleration of 1.8 percent of light per melee maximum.

Atmospheric Propulsion: Maximum normal speed is Mach 6.25 (4,758.1 mph / 7,656.8 kph), can enter and leave atmosphere because flight system is using contra grav. Missiles on hard points reduces performance to Mach 4.5 (3,425.8 mph / 5,512.9 kph) in an atmosphere.

Maximum Range: Effectively unlimited by internal fuel (6 year duration) although auxiliary thruster range is limited to approximately 30 minutes before overheating and has enough fuel for 60 minutes total in dimensional pockets. Fighter uses a fusion cell system for power systems. The fighter carries eight days of consumables for fighter’s crew.

Statistical Data:

Length:                36.42 feet (11.1 meters).

Height:                13.78 feet (4.2 meters).

Width:                 26.90 feet (8.2 meters) wings folded and 34.45 feet (10.5 meter) wings unfolded.

Mass/Weight:      7.50 tons (6.8 metric tons) unloaded and 11.13 tons (10.1 metric tons) fully loaded.

Power System: Advanced Fusion with 6 year life span. Also uses a magical rift to elemental dimension of air to generate additional electricity (Indefinite duration).

Cargo: Minimal Storage Space, place for a rifle, handgun, small survival kit, signal flares, and food rations.

Market Cost: As rebuilt, the light fighter costs approximately 65 million credit. Much of this cost is believed to be the cost of the enchantments. The SF-5 Starling is no longer produced.


  1. Two (2) Sub Particle Acceleration Cannons: Mounted in the wing roots of the fighter and fire forward. Both are normally linked when fired. Can be linked with telekinetic machine guns for greater damage. Uses the spell of the same name from page 143 of World Book 16: Federation of Magic (although has far greater range.) The weapon pulls its energy from the elemental rift and does not need to be recharged. Weapon can be fired through the lightning field.

    Maximum Effective Range: 200 miles (320 km) in space. 2 miles (3.2 km) in an atmosphere.

    Mega Damage: 1D6x10+10 for one cannon or 2D6x10+20 for both cannons (Can be combined with telekinetic machine guns for a maximum of 3D6x10+25.)

    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the pilot (usually 4 or 5).

    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.

  2. Two (2) Telekinetic Heavy Machine Guns: Mounted in the nose and replacing the original rail guns, these are heavier machine guns than are carried in the standard Shadow Bolt Starfighter Because the cannons do damage by impact, they do full damage to targets that are using the spell impervious to energy. The spells must be renewed every two months (costs 400 P.P.E. and 20,000 credits per machine gun) but during the period the weapon can fire unlimited blasts. Weapons can be fired through the lightning field.

    Maximum Effective Range: 200 miles (320 km) in space and 2 miles (3.2 km) in an atmosphere.

    Mega Damage: 12D6 per burst for both heavy machine guns. One heavy machine gun inflicts 6D6. (Can be combined with Sub Particle Acceleration Cannons for a maximum of 3D6x10+25.)

    Rate of Fire: Equal to the combined hand to hand attacks of the pilot (usually 4 or 5).

    Payload: Unlimited, although the spells must be renewed every two months whether the cannons have been used or not.

  3. Five (5) Hard Points: The fighter has a total of five hard points which can mount missiles or mini-missile pods. The fighter has one hard point in the center of the fuselage, one on each wing in a inner wing position, and a single one on the outer wing position of each wing. Individual hard points must carry all the same type ordnance but each hard points may carry different types of ordnance.

    Centerline Hard Point (1): One cruise missile, two long range missile, or four medium range missile each.

    Inner Wing Hard Points (2): One “Light” mini-missile pod, one long range missile, or two medium range missile each.

    Outer Wing Hard Points (2): One “Light” mini-missile pod, one long range missile, or two medium range missile each.

    1. Missiles: Cruise missile are normally carried when on an anti-capital ship role and long and medium range missiles when fighting other starfighters. Cruise Missiles have a top speed of Mach 25 in an atmosphere and have an acceleration of 10% of light per turn (far faster than any starship) in space. Long Range Missiles have a top speed of Mach 20 in an atmosphere and and have an acceleration of 8% of light per turn (faster than any starship) in space. Medium Range Missiles have a top speed of Mach 15 in an atmosphere and have an acceleration of 6% of light per turn in space. Whether missiles can be shot down is calculated from the speed of target, launching starship, and missiles. When drive goes dead, missiles will continue to travel in a straight line unless set to self destruct or receives a destruct code, but have very low odds of hitting star ships (Great for hitting bases and planets because target does not move and missiles, when unpowered, are at -25% to be detected.) Cruise missiles have penalties to hit small targets with virtually all missiles carried being smart missiles. Missiles can be launched on multiple targets simultaneously.

      Maximum Effective Range: Cruise Missile range is 8,000 miles (12,875 km) in an atmosphere and 4,000,000 miles (6,437,376 km/ 21.5 light seconds) in space, Long Range Missile range is 3,400 miles (5,470 km) in an atmosphere and 1,800,000 miles (2,897,000 km/9.7 light seconds) in space, and Medium Range Missile range is 160 miles (257.5 km) in an atmosphere and 80,000 miles (128,750 km/0.43 light seconds) in space.

      Mega-Damage & Properties: See revised Phase World / Three Galaxies missile tables for details (Cruise Anti-Matter multi-warheads inflict 5D6x100 M.D.C. each and Long Range Fusion warheads inflict 2D4x100 M.D.C. each.)

      Rate of Fire: Can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2) missiles.

      Payload: Varies by hard point.

    2. “Light” Mini-Missile Pod: In place of long range missiles, two or four pods of mini missiles can be mounted on the “wings” of the starfighter that can be used against ground targets, infantry, and against starships. Missiles have a top speed of Mach 10 in an atmosphere and have an acceleration of 2% of light per turn in space. This is slightly faster than any starship except if it is exceeding it maximum safe acceleration. Launchers can launch on multiple targets each at the same time. Mini-Missiles in the Phase World / Three Galaxies setting are normally smart missiles.

      Maximum Effective Range: Mini-Missile range is 2 miles (3.2 km) in an atmosphere and 100 miles (161 km) in space.

      Mega Damage: Varies with mini-missile types (See revised Phase World / Three Galaxies missile tables for details.)

      Rate of Fire: Each pod can fire mini-missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), or four (4), and can be linked with other mini missile pods for greater number of mini-missiles (Counts as one attack no matter how many mini-missiles in a volley.)

      Payload: Each pod carries 8 mini-missiles (32 mini-missiles maximum.)

  4. Magical “Ball Lightning” Bolts: The fighter can generate up to five ball lightning bolts. They normally orbit around the fighter and create an electrical field around the fighter. While this field is active, the fighter glows a bright blue and cannot be concealed using the spells of Chameleon, Invisibility, or Shadow Meld. While the field is active, the fighter is immune to all forms of electrical attack including ion weapons and magical lightning. As well, any missile or projectile must pass through the electrical field before striking the fighter. Assume an object will make it about half way through the energy field before detonating to calculate to see if the blast radius will still affect the fighter (reduce damage by half in that case.) The electrical field may be used as a weapon to attack targets by edging close to a target but piloting rolls are at -30% and is considered stunt flying. The ball lightning may be fired at a greater range than the electrical field but reduces the power of the electrical field for each ball lightning that is fired. If more than two ball lightning are fired in a melee (less than three remaining around the aircraft) then the electrical field will drop. As well, if more than two balls are destroyed (each ball has 20 M.D.C.), the electrical field is also lost. In either case, the balls will come back at the beginning of the next melee round and the field will be restored.

    Maximum Effective Range: Electrical Field: In an atmosphere, 30 to 50 feet (9.1 to 15.2 meters) globe around fighter. In space, field is in a globe 240 to 400 foot (73.2 to 91.4 meter) globe around fighter. Reduce field by 10 feet (3 meters) / 80 feet (24.4 meters) from 50 feet (15.2 meters) / 300 feet (91.4 meters) for every ball lightning fired / destroyed. Ball Lightning Bolt: In an atmosphere, 300 feet (91.4 meters). In space, 2,400 feet (731.5 meters.)

    Mega Damage: Electrical Field: 1D6x10+20 M.D.C. to anything within the electrical field (not including the aircraft.) Reduce field damage by 10 M.D.C. for each ball lower than five (Must maintain at least three.) Ball Lightning Bolt: 3D6+6 each.

    Rate of Fire: Electrical Field: Active as long as three or more ball lightning are around fighter. Ball Lightning Bolt: One per melee attack of the pilot (Usually 4 or 5).

    Payload: Five “Ball Lightning” Balls per melee. Balls are renewed at the start of each melee round.

  5. Techno-Wizard Modifications: The “Thunderbird” light fighter has the following techno-wizard modifications built into the fighter. These require P.P.E. or I.S.P. from the pilot.

    Special Features:

      Impervious to Energy (6th Level) - 20 P.P.E. or 40 I.S.P.

      Invisibility-Superior (6th Level) - 20 P.P.E. or 40 I.S.P.

      Shadow Meld (6th Level) - 10 P.P.E. or 20 I.S.P.

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2016, Kitsune. All rights reserved.