Tonnage: 160 tons (medium cruiser)
The Sandcasters are thought to function as both an anti-laser and anti-missile defence. Essentially a large sand-"cannon", they disperse a cloud of "sand" (a particulate fog, at any rate) to reduce visibilty, confound sensors, and improve defenses against both missiles and lasers. (Kinetic missiles, such as K-cannon, Light Accel and Heavy Accel guns are not affected by the damage reduction described.)
If the tactical officer in charge succeeds in a Battle Tactics skill check (difficulty determined by the GM - the more agile a ship is, the more difficult it is to defend against in this way) and the Kukri goes first in this round, he has successfully deployed a Sandcaster screen between the attacking vessel and the Kukri when the attacker fires his weapons. Only one attacking ship can be defended against in this manner, or possibly one "facing" of the ship (GM's discretion).
The Sandcaster screen confuses sensors, giving the gunners on the attacking ship a +3 to-hit penalty. Furthermore, any missile and explosive shell passing through the Sandcaster screen has a 40% chance of exploding prematurely, inflicting no damage on the Kukri. And finally, the Sandcaster screen disperses laser beams, halving the damage of any laser weaponry that hits.
Of course, the Sandcaster works against the Erlir as well, by hindering the Kukri's weapons in the same manner as any attacker's weapons.
A Sandcaster cloud disperses in one round.
Otherwise, the armament of the Erlir class is pretty standard. To give the Erlir a heftier punch, the laser batteries are bundled into fives. Thus, for every +1 that the gunner beats the to-hit roll with, an additional laser will hit the target, doing an additional 10 points of damage. On a natural 20, the gunner has hit bang on with all five lasers, doing 50 points of damage.
Description: The Erlir class medium cruiser is a valuable addition to the Venusian Space Navy. As it is very well armed, it is capable of holding its own to a certain degree against even heavy cruisers. That, coupled with the new Sandcaster defensive measure, the Erlir should prove fairly adept in space combat. Its only drawback is its reduced cargo space, which decreases its versatility, thus decreasing the mission profiles it can solve successfully. However, this is a minor drawback.
The Erlir class medium cruiser does not usually carry support craft, parasitic or otherwise.
Design notes: I've found that "bundling" together lasers in batteries makes a lot more sense to me than just waving single laser mounts around, using heaps of gunners to hit anything. To better utilize gunners, massing weapons in batteries seemed like a good idea - at least allowing a ship better firepower without necessarily resorting to missiles. I've also given the Erlir a break on the weapon space requirements of the laser mounts massed in batteries - if you add together the weapon spaces of the armament, you'll come up with a number somewhat larger than 19. The remainder is considered to be the space savings in bundling the mounts together - having just one targeting system, one set of power couplings, and so on.