Space combat expansion part 2: narrating space combat.

This expansion requires more careful planning on the GM, spontaneous creativity of both players and GM or perhaps some of those wonderful environmental set piece developed on the d20radio forum. Or all of the aforementioned.

The basic idea here is simple. Let pilots, and gunners and other crew, affect the battlefield, use it similarly to character scale combat. This means using terrain as cover, players describing actions that could give more tangible results and effects than what has already been suggested in the corebook’s various triumph/advantages tables. While those tables are great, and the idea of advantages and triumphs adding coolness to combat, and every other skill check, why not let players attempt actions or manoeuvres for those specific effects?

While evasive manoeuvres is a great manoeuvre, how about it in an asteroid field? In a squadron of allied starfighters, or enemy starfighters, couldn’t that one upgrade be increased if there was a pilot check? Or perhaps increase defence by +1? Shouldn’t there be a Pilot check for performing an evasive manoeuvre in an asteroid field? I’d think so! Even if its “only” a manoeuvre.

Now. Another thing I think is important, and that seems to be left out of most discussions concerning space combat – or at least I haven’t seen it anywhere – is how the interpretation of fire arcs being pointless on ships of Silhouette 4 or lower could easily be remedied.

Now, I understand the interpretation, but what if the Pilot was in control (as she or he actually is) of facing and things like that. Why would a gunner in a turret, or firing a fixed position cannon decide whether or not she or he can hit the enemy vessel? It doesn’t really make sense, well it could, but the idea is here to make these things count, without counting squares and stuff like that. Let the pilot narrate how he flies on his initiative slot, how the ship moves, how he lines up his own shots or that of his gunners. This would of course be modified by actions such as Gain the Advantage, but as is explicitly written in the rules – although many disagree with this “interpretation” – the GtA action’s effects applies to the pilot. Not every gunner on the ship. Of course it is a common interpretation/house-rule to allow it to apply to gunners as well. I’ve done the exact same thing. But in the spirit of making it more narrative, to weigh the various options against each other, I’d suggest to apply the GtA effects apply only to the pilot. That way he has to also narrate movement of the ship, but also consider how to attack the ship, and which of his fire arcs should be able to hit it, even as he attempts a Gain the Advantage action. This in turn will affect how his gunners and crew can act.

While a lot of starships have turrets, sometimes you need to flee, at this point the decisions of the Pilot affects the fire arcs that can attack. How he narrates he escape attempt, is it the ventral or dorsal turret that is allowed to fire? Considering this, I think it is sometimes up to the GM, and players, to let the narrative decide which defensive zone is hit, regardless of actions and mechanics of what silhouette gets to pick what defensive zone is hit. It is much more fun to let the narrative steer this, than to use (or abuse) the rules to make those hits count – particularly from a GMs perspective I’d say.

If my players where fleeing down a chasm, or through a tunnel of some sort, I’d never allow a successful Gain the Advantage check to result in hitting an unhittable defensive zone to hit. That wouldn’t make sense. I’d ignore any evasive manoeuvres certainly, but the defensive zone hit would be the one that made narrative sense. Same with players. While I’d say a pilot attacking an enemy ship after successfully Gained the Advantage could pick a defensive zone of his liking, the narration of his attack and manoeuvring would determine what defensive zone the other gunners on his ship could attack, whether the same one or a better defended one would depend on his narration, the environment and the number of threats or advantages he rolled on his pilot and/or attack check. So in short, let chases and mechanics be support structures, not determining rails on which the game is run.

These thoughts can easily be used with the actions presented in part 1, but it might not be necessary to make use of those actions if taking full advantage of the narrative creativity of the players and losing the dependency on mechanics and rules as a controller.

A good example of how one can run space combat is presented here, first posted here. Thanks to Grimmshade/D. Thomas for this, he did a lot of work for me without knowing.

Space combat expanded part 1: new actions

The space combat rules as presented in the Edge of the Empire core rulebook, and the expansions added during the Age of Rebellion beta, serves as a solid basis for space combat in the Star Wars universe. Its narrative and open to customization, perhaps too open to some people’s liking.

This post is not about drastically changing or tweaking the system, but rather discuss how to expand upon it within its framework, in the spirit of the rules and the game. Its the first part of two. The second will cover less structured options, based more on narration and creativity during play.

I have to thank a few people from the FFG forums, particularly Aservan and Aramis, both commented and made their opinions clearly understood, I have to respect that, regardless of our difference of opinions.

This first expansion serves as an easy addition. Using existing mechanics and conventions I’ve come up with a series of new Starship Actions for the pilot to use during combat, these will be presented in Cartol’s Emporium, but I will cover the basic idea behind them here and post the current version of them. Again, I have not come up with these completely on my own, the aforementioned – and others  – have inspired me.

The intention of these Actions is to be used to add flavour to combat, they’re not all powerful boosts that will ensure or shorten space combat – they would probably prolong it slightly, they are alternatives to Gain the Advantage, Stay on Target and Evasive Maneuvres. Which are the three basic, and arguably only, combat oriented manoeuvres and action in the EotE corebook. AoR introduces some new actions, but mainly for capital ships.

The first new Action I will cover is the one I’ve called Suicidal Mynock. This action is actually based on a suggestion made by Aservan, and I’ve kept it very close to his original idea. The basic idea behind this is to become the only possible target of an enemy ship, for instance to cover a friendly ship’s escape. It is limited to one fire arc of the enemy ship, but with some good tactics, narration and roleplaying, this should work pretty well. Starships can also alternate between who’s going to be the target, while another can attack within that fire arc/defensive zone. Of course sound reasoning should prevail, this would be hard for one starship to do against a whole fire arc of different weapons on a Stardestroyer or any Silhouette 6+ capital ship, so keep in mind the balance between rules, fun and whatever dosage of reason and “reality” you want part of in your game.

Where the Suicidal Mynock is the crazy pilot’s wish for lethal attention, the Defensive Screen is another protective Action a pilot can perform. Flying interference, overlapping shields and the like, this Action allows one starship to increase the Defence of one allied starship – alternately it could just add a Setback die to the opponent’s attack checks on the allied ship. Larger capital ships cannot really benefit from this Action from too small ships, unless one is talking about a whole lot of squadrons of course, but Silhouette 4 to 5 should be able to gain the beneift from silhouette 3 and 4 starships, a series of starfighters or transports, flying this kind of defensive interference against enemy starfighters and capital ships. Silhouette 6 capital ships would require silhouette 5 starships to gain these benefits. Where the Suicidal Mynock forces the enemy to attack you, the Defensive Screen increases the ally’s defence, and if you roll well upgrades combat checks against the allied ship – and this upgrade cannot be ignored by Gain the Advantage.

These two Actions would be typical wingman or escort type actions used to protect a weaker or more important allied ships. The pilot is basically making himself a target, but this an acceptable course of action when fighting the Empire, protecting civilians from pirates and stuff like that.

 Of the next two actions I present the outlines for here, one is directly related to Suicidal Mynock, and is intended as a way to break that action’s “hold” on the target ship. It is called Run the Blockade and will break the temporary hold that a Suicidal Mynock gains for one or more rounds.

The last action is a variant of Evasive Maneuvres, except its an action and can be performed by slower and larger ships than Evasive Maneuvres. This one is simply called Evasive Action. Instead of adding upgrades to the combat check difficulty of enemy ships, this action adds defence, and on Triumphs can turn these defence bonuses into upgrades instead. It can be used in conjunction with Evasive Maneuvres is the ship is fast and small enough.

That some of these actions provide defence bonus might be considered powerful and unbalancing, but considering the limitations that the core rules put in place for number of defence dice per defensive zone I figured that it wouldn’t be that bad, and also the upgrades can become a real nuisance in the long run for both side when multiple Despairs are rolled. Although, as mentioned above, these defence bonuses can be changed into adding environmental setback dice to the enemies’ combat checks, thereby bypassing any potential defence cap.

This option is of course only a small addition in my mind, but it does help to add flair to the story telling as a fellow pilot attempts to defend his allies, or getting a clear shot at an important target while a bunch of TIEs run interference, suicidal or otherwise. While the actions will appear in the catalogue, I present them below in all their “glory” for you to consider and criticise.

Defensive Screen

Pilot Only: Yes
Silhouette: 1-5
Speed: 3+
Make a Pilot check using difficulties outlined in Table 7-3 (EotE core book page: 234) against an opponent attacking or attempting Gain the Advantage against one allied ship. Success increases defence of allied starship by +1 until the end of acting ship’s next turn. Additional three successes or advantages can be spent to upgrade combat checks against defended allied ship by one. Any pilot or combat checks made by defending ship adds one Setback die.
Notes: Silhouette 3 and 4 starships/vehicles cannot gain this benefit more than two allied ships. Silhouette 5 and 6 can only receive the benefits if 2 or more ships execute the Action to a maximum of four allied ships, halve defence bonuses and upgrades. Larger ships cannot benefit from this Action.

Evasive Action

Pilot Only: Yes
Silhouette: 1-6
Speed: 2+
Pick an enemy ship and make an opposed Pilot check, success gives evading ship +1 defence to one defensive zone. Three advantages can be spent to gain another +1 defence to same or another defensive zone (to a total maximum of +2), limited as per defensive zone maximum outlined on page 226 in the EotE core book. Triumph can turn a defence increase into an upgrade instead. Any attacks originating from Evasive vehicle receives an equal amount of setback dice (or upgrades) to combat checks against opponents.
Note: This Action can be used in combination with Evasive Manoeuvres, if starship is small and fast enough to perform this Manoeuvre.

Run the Blockade

Pilot Only: Yes
Silhouette: 1-6
Speed: Any
Make a Pilot check using difficulties outlined in Table 7-3 (EotE page 234) against an opponent who has successfully used Suicidal Mynock against acting ship.  Success lets acting starship attack any other target on the following turn. Failure prevents acting ship from attacking any other target for another turn.

Suicidal Mynock

Pilot Only: Yes
Silhouette: 1-5
Speed: Any
Make a Hard [♦♦♦] Pilot check and pick one enemy ship. Success results in target ship not being able attack any other target than the starship performing this action on its next turn. Additional two advantages may increase the duration for another round up to a total of three rounds.  The enemy’s weapons not able to target the ship may attack other targets as normal. Any other ships that take the Suicidal Mynock action against the same target in the same fire arc becomes the only ship the target may attack. A pilot may cancel this manoeuvre on his or her turn as an Incidental.

Converting: Encumbrance – Passenger capacity and quarters

Another little preview, a discussion on customising your starship without attachments.

Some starship captains wish to change business: why ship cargo and be alone on those long voyages, when you can ship people instead and get the company as an added bonus!

Converting cargo space to passenger space doesn’t require much work if it’s only seating that is required. Each passenger takes up about 10 encumbrance worth of cargo space. This includes the extra air filters, food and fuel storage. The cost is low, at only 250 credits per passenger seat added.

Converting space to quarters, shared bunks and facilities still only requires 10 encumbrance per passenger, but must be converted into a section, consisting of no less than groups of 4 passenger slots, either 4 bunks or two proper beds. Each passenger slot costs 500 credits for a total of 2,000 credits for a passenger section.

More expensive, separate and comfortable passenger conversions can also be done. Here the price and required encumbrance increases many times depending upon level of luxury and comfort desired. For instance a single-person quarter with about average standard would easily consume 15 encumbrance of cargo space, and have a starting price around 2,500 credits per room. A more stately single-person quarter would consume perhaps 20 encumbrance and have a starting price of about 10,000 credits.

The price in credits can of course become obscenely high due to luxurious material, foodstuffs, design and so on, even if the room does not consume more than 15, 20, 25 or 30 encumbrance.

Converting: Encumbrance – Customisation Hard Points

Another little preview, and discussion about a house rule for converting Encumbrance to Customisation Hard Points.

While some ships have a lot of customisation hard points (CHPs), like the YT-1300, others don’t. In order to gain more CHPs a good argument could be made for sacrificing encumbrance (Enc) capacity, replacing this with more or larger power supplies and the like. A costly procedure and certainly frowned upon by the Empire and other law enforcement, this route has been used by many Rebel engineers and crafty mechanics to further customise their starships. The amount of cargo space needed to be sacrificed depends on the size and type of starship. Below is a set of suggested conversion guidelines.

Silhouette

Enc per CHP

Cost

3

4

10,000cr

4

25

22,000cr

5

75

35,000cr

6

300

100,000cr

Bear in mind that some starships have very little cargo space for its size, and others have a lot more than what one should expect. Therefore it should also be reasonable to cap conversions at something like 4-5 CHPs acquired through cargo conversion, halving the cargo capacity, or placing a cap equal to the starship’s silhouette, i.e. no silhouette 4 can receive more than 4 CHPs this way, and a silhouette 5 can receive up to 5. Whichever solution fits the individual gaming group best. With no cap in place, the most sought after starship will quickly become the Action VI with its 10,000 encumbrance worth of cargo capacity, as long as dogfighting is not an important factor in the game.

Another issue concerns starships of Silhouette 4 through 6 with very low encumbrance capacity, for whatever reason. By very low one could argue that a silhouette 4 with less than 50 encumbrance capacity, or a Silhouette 5 with less than 150. In these cases perhaps a solution could be for a low-encumbrance capacity Silhouette 5 starship to look at the Silhouette 4 encumbrance to CHP cost, but still paying the Silhouette 5 cost in credits. With the cap in place, a low-encumbrance capacity silhouette 4 can still not really exploit the silhouette 3 conversion rate.

Still, this brings us to the ultimate problem of using absolute values with a more relative and abstract value. Perhaps a percentage of total original encumbrance capacity would be a better solution, rounding fractions up. I present the follow suggestion.

Silhouette

% of Total Enc per CHP

Cost

3

50%

10,000cr

4

10%

22,000cr

5

15%

35,000cr

6

20%

100,000cr

This is of course not a perfect solution and it requires somewhat more math. This method favours Silhouette 4, although even Silhouette 5 gets away easy, at least considering the various starting ship in EotE available to the players. Some easy addition shows that a Silhouette 3 cannot receive more than 2 CHPs this way, but that seems fair considering their size, design and purpose. Silhouette 4s can almost halve their encumbrance capacity, using a cap of 4 converted CHPs, and will still be able to carry some cargo. The Silhouette 5s on the other hand will more than halve their encumbrance capacity, but in most cases that hardly matters considering some of the Silhouette 5 starships’ enormous cargo holds. The Silhouette 6 capital ships stands to loose the most encumbrance capacity. So, again, not a perfect solution, as the Action VI freighter now stands to loose more cargo space per CHP than almost any other starship, silhouette 5 or 6.

Personally I’m probably going to use the absolute numbers version presented in the beginning. If you were going to consider a house-rule like this, what would you do? Make a cost based on total encumbrance cross-referenced with silhouette perhaps? Pick one of the above or present your own in a comment!

Update progress

I have received the core rule book ahead of amazon’s plans, which means that last night I started the slow updating progress.

So far I have:

  • Tweaked some of the qualities, which includes:
    • Renaming Serrated to Barbed, so that it is not confused with the melee weapon attachment in the core book, this has also had its price changed as play-testing on my end left a lot to be wanted. Current price is 1 advantage for +1 damage.
    • Blinding has been changed to require a Vigilance check or be blinded for rounds equal to uncancelled failures.
    • Limited range and auto-fire friendly have both had their drawbacks changed to setback dice rather than upgrades.
    • I have removed Reach – as there was only one weapon with the quality and it proved troublesome to make work properly.
  • I have adjusted a lot of the weapon attachments to reflect the new attachments in the core rule book. Some has been renamed, but most remain the same.
  • I have adjusted cost and benefits from some armours; this also goes for the armour attachments:
    • Since the laminate/heavy battle armours body glove is not stated out like in the beta, I have made a 1.000 credit attachment that basically covers that, plus an advanced version.
    • The vacuum attachment in my catalogue has been tweaked.
  • I have removed starships that now appear in the core book.
    • Although I have not removed the entry for the Wayfarer medium transport, this entry now shows the statistics of the wayfarer with a Hangar module instead, so the entry only contains encumbrance capacity and vehicle complement information, everything else is as per core book. This entry also has suggestions for other modules mentioned in the original write up of the Wayfarer; transportation and sensor module. Also I have suggestions for changes to the statistics without the module.
  • I will look at the speeder entries eventually, but this is at the moment not a vital part of the document; but if you have suggestions, stats or whatever, please feel free to send them to me. Any and all contributions are credited – if you feel forgotten drop me a note, I’m not perfect.

Beyond this I haven’t added much new stuff to the catalogue. I am looking for some stats I know is around somewhere to add. If you have suggestions, comments, criticism, desires or want to contribute please feel free to comment here or message me on the various forums I frequent. Any and all contributions and comments are appreciated and welcome; as long as its starships, gear and fringe related.

The Old Republic – Part 3: Starships – BT-7 Thunderclap

Assault ship for high risk missions.

 

BT-7 Thunderclap
Hull Type: Assault ship
Ship Class: BT-7
Manufacturer: Rendili Hyperworks
Hyperdrive: Class 1, Backup: Class 15
Navicomputer: Yes
Crew Complement: 1-5 (1 pilot, co-pilot, etc)
Passengers: 6 (passengers/troops)
Encumbrance Capacity: 120 Enc (80 metric tons)
Consumables: 2 months
Cost: Not readily available for sale (300,000 (new), 180,000 (used))
Silhouette: 4 (length: 96 metres; width: 61 metres; height: 80 metres)
Sensor Range: Medium
Speed: 3
Handling: -1
Defence: 2/2
Armour: 5
Hull Integrity: 28
System Strain: 18
Customisation Hard Points: 4
Weapons:
Tripled heavy laser cannon
Fire arc: Forward
Range: Short
Damage: 6
Critical: 3
Qualities: Linked 2

Concussion missiles launcher
Fire arc: Forward
Range: Short
Damage: 6
Critical: 3
Qualities: Blast 4, Breach 4, Guided 3, Limited ammo 8, Slow-firing 1

Notes: As with the D5 this ship can mount heavier weapons (silhouette 5), at the additional cost of 1 HP.

Design notes: The heavy defence on this ship comes from the modular shields and the hull designed to deflect hits.

The Old Republic – Part 3: Starships – D5-Mantis patrol craft

UPDATED!

And here’s your favourite SWTOR bounty hunter starship.

D5-Mantis patrol craft
Hull Type: Patrol craft
Ship Class: Mantis
Manufacturer: Kuat Drive Yards
Hyperdrive: Class 2, Backup: Class 15
Navicomputer: Yes
Crew Complement: 1-5 (1 pilot, co-pilot, etc)
Passengers: 6 (passengers/prisoners)
Encumbrance Capacity: 75 Enc (50 metric tons)
Consumables: 2 months
Cost: 290,000 (new), 160,000 (used)
Silhouette: 4 (length: 68 metres; width: 74 metres; height: 58 metres)
Sensor Range: Short
Speed: 3
Handling: 0
Defence: 1/1
Armour: 5
Hull Integrity: 24
System Strain: 17
Customisation Hard Points: 6
Weapons:
Heavy laser cannon
Fire arc: Forward
Range: Short
Damage: 6
Critical: 3

Double medium ion cannon
Fire arc: Front
Range: Short
Damage:
6
Critical:
4
Qualities:
Linked 1, Ion

Concussion missiles launcher
Fire arc: Forward
Range: Short
Damage: 6
Critical: 3
Qualities: Blast 4, Breach 4, Guided 3, Limited ammo 12, Slow-firing 1

Notes: This ship can mount silhouette 5 attachments like light turbolaser cannon and medium tractor beam, and even more medium ion cannons, due to its design to carry larger ordnance. Attaching heavier weapons costs 1 additional HP. The passenger/prisoner distribution depends on owner.

Design notes: Due to the spare info on wookiepedia – and the uniformity of the starship in the computer game (to my knowledge at least) – I decided to go a slightly different route this time. First off this ship is supposed to be able to mount larger weapons (or ammo for larger ships), therefore I let it have medium ion cannons  – and as noted above this ship is allowed to add the silhouette 5 attachments mentioned. I also gave it double the ammo for its concussion missile launcher. Due to its retractable weapon foils I decided to give it a double linked ion cannon in addition to a heavy laser cannon and the usual concussion missile launcher. The foils and the described spaces on the ship is also partly the reason for its large number customisation hard points.