Oolite Ship Roles

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This page describes the standard Oolite ship roles from 1.79 onwards. For 1.78 and earlier, see Role.

Shipdata roles are used to add ships to the game to carry out particular in-game tasks. For example, the role "asteroid" is used for ships which are expected to drift around like a rock, releasing smaller rocks when mined, while the role "trader" is used to describe ships which travel from system to system making money by trading commodities. The roles can be weighted, with '1' being the standard level. A ship with a role weight of 0.5 is only half as likely to be added to that role than a ship with a role weight of 1. Role weights greater than 1 are allowed but should be used with caution. For a breakdown of the role weights of the core ships, see Oolite Ship Role Weights.

Many of the roles have light, medium and heavy variants. In general a ship should only be added to one of those roles (though if auto_weapons is set in the ship data, it may be that it can be added to two of them)


The "assassin" roles are used for ships which hang around looking for couriers whose passengers or parcels are somewhat more controversial than average, paid by enemies of the courier's client to completely destroy them. Their ships are fast, including fuel injectors and relatively well-armed for their size.


A relatively small and light ship, no faster than 300 maximum speed, and with few energy banks.


A bigger ship like a Cobra III or Fer-de-lance, between 300 and 350 maximum speed.


This role is used by the very fastest assassin ships which couriers are unlikely to be able to outrun. They should all have maximum speeds over 350, injectors, witchdrives, and significant armament. Only the Asp, of the core ships, fulfils this role.


Escorts have the job of protecting a larger ship, often a freighter, and follow it in formation when not in combat.


These are relatively lightly-armed ships without a witchdrive or missile pylons, such as a Sidewinder or Mamba. For compatibility with previous Oolite versions, this role is called "escort", not "escort-light".


In the more dangerous systems the bigger freighters will need tougher escorts. These ships are more heavily armed than the usual escorts, with beam lasers, missiles, and perhaps independent witchdrives. Cobra Is and Geckos are core examples.


Occasionally the cargo is so valuable and the opposition so tough that the freighter captain will need a strong escort, and pay for a very tough ship, armed with lasers, missiles and often other upgrades. Asps, Cobra IIIs and Fer-de-Lances can all perform this role. Any heavy fighter might reasonably have this role, though perhaps at a low weight.

Bounty Hunters

Bounty hunters operate in small packs, looking for pirates and other criminals who can be killed for a bounty.


This role describes the lightest hunter ships, similar to the "escort" role in strength. Ships with witchdrives should generally not be placed in this role. For compatibility with previous Oolite versions, this role is called "hunter", not "hunter-light".


Where a safe system is close to a dangerous system, bounty hunters may use the safe system as a base to launch strikes on the pirates of the dangerous system. The "hunter-medium" role leads a pack of lighter ships through witchspace, and gets them back home again afterwards. These ships always have witchdrives, and are generally otherwise a little better armed than a normal "hunter", but need not be particularly tough - a Moray or a Cobra I is likely.


Like the "hunter-medium", but with even more weapons and shields. These ships are usually very well equipped and are often accompanied by a substantial group of "hunter" followers. Cobra IIIs, Asps and Fer-de-lances are examples.

Miners and Scavengers


Miners break apart asteroids for valuable minerals. They need a fuel scoop, a cargo hold, and a forward mining laser, and are generally relatively small ships like a Transporter or a Cobra I operating from a nearby station.


Scavengers are small ships launched by stations to scoop up nearby debris. They need a fuel scoop and a cargo hold, but little else. They are rarely armed.


Pirates operate in a number of fashions:

  1. independent local pirate groups using the "pirate" role
  2. coordinated packs which may operate locally or raid a nearby safer system, lead by a pirate leader in some sort of freighter, accompanied by a large number of fighters. These use the "pirate-*-freighter" and "pirate-*-fighter" roles.
  3. raiders who look to destroy bounty hunters and police ships to distract the authorities from other pirate activity. These use the "pirate-interceptor" and "pirate-aegis-raider" roles.


Independent pirates generally have relatively small and poorly armed ships, from Kraits to Cobra Is. Larger and more powerful ships can be given the "pirate" role too, but should have a much reduced role weight.


A light fighter with little armament and no missiles. Comparable to a "hunter" or "escort".


A tougher fighter comparable to a "hunter-medium" or "escort-medium"


A heavy fighter craft comparable to a "hunter-heavy" or "escort-heavy"


A relatively small cargo carrying ship, like a Cobra III (though smaller and larger ships are possible). Pirate freighters are generally very well armed for their size, including aft lasers. These will be accompanied by a few fighters, mostly light ones. Visually there is often little difference between these ships and a small group of independent pirates.


Unlike the light freighters, these are generally of a size which could be used as a peaceful trade freighter too. Pythons are the most common core game example. They have a much larger fighter group, which may even include heavy fighters on occasion. These are much rarer than the light freighters.


Leading the toughest pirate packs, these are large and armed to the teeth - Boas, or rarely even bigger ships. Their fighter group is often large enough to intimidate even the strongest traders to an immediate surrender and to convince most bounty hunters to look elsewhere.


These ships hunt down bounty hunters and police ships to distract them from nearby freighter groups. They are fast tough ships, and to make surviving the encounters likely, they are usually equipped with injectors and witchdrives.


In the roughest systems, the pirates may occasionally take the fight to the authorities, destroying police and bounty hunters as they launch from the station. These ships are always extremely well armed and equipped, with fuel injectors to escape afterwards being the key item.


The Cooperative police ships use the following roles.


Light fighter craft without a witchdrive or particularly heavy weapons.


A heavy fighter with a range of powerful equipment, only used in the highest TL systems.


This role is used to add escorts to other police ships.


The trader roles cover various sorts of generally peaceful ships which fly from place to place carrying some sort of cargo.


Shuttles are small ships designed for in-system journeys. They do not have a witchdrive, and are generally slow and unarmed.


The "trader" role is for ships which carry cargo from one system to another, hoping to make a profit when it is sold. They should all have at least some cargo space, and will also need a witchdrive. They generally fall into two categories - light lone traders from the Adder to the Cobra III, which have relatively little cargo space but are capable of defending themselves against small attacks - or freighters from the Python to the Anaconda with large holds, usually escorted by several other ships for defence.

The "sunskim-trader" role from previous versions of Oolite is no longer used.


Commodities are not the only thing that can be transported between systems for money - passengers and parcels are also an option. These ships are usually fast, with fuel scoops for sunskimming, and of course a witchdrive. The larger ones carry passengers, the smaller ones mostly parcels.


Not every good is legal, and smugglers can make a big profit travelling between systems with holds full of contraband. These ships are generally quite small (a Cobra III or Python is possible, but usually something smaller is preferred), and almost always have fuel injectors for a quick escape. As with traders, they need a witchdrive and a cargo hold. Armaments are generally light, with running away being the preferred tactic.


The following roles are used for the standard stations in Oolite:

  • coriolis
  • dodecahedron
  • icosahedron
  • rockhermit

All stations should also have the role "station" in their role list for compatibility purposes, but this role is never itself used for adding ships to the game.


The role "thargoid" is used for thargoid warships, and "EQ_THARGON" for their drone fighters.

The drone fighters require a ship with the role "thargoid-mothership" in its role list to continue fighting, but that ship does not have to be added with that primary role.


The following miscellaneous roles are used.

  • asteroid (a big rock which breaks into boulders)
  • boulder (a medium-sized rock which breaks into splinters)
  • splinter (a small rock which can be scooped as Minerals)
  • cinder (like an asteroid, but capable of surviving ridiculously high temperatures)
  • cargopod and 1t-cargopod (cargo canisters)
  • alloy (a small element of wreckage from a destroyed ship, may be scooped as Alloys)
  • escape-capsule (a small powered cargo pod carrying escaping pilots)
  • buoy (the navigation buoy in front of the station)
  • buoy-witchpoint (the navigation buoy at the witchpoint)
  • wreckage (short-lived explosion debris, not scoopable)