Starship Combat

Starship combat is similar to ground combat. Attacks are made using dice pools based on attributes and skills, and ships move in an attempt to gain advantageous positions from which to fire upon their enemies.  The action economy is slightly different, however. Instead of two actions per turn like in a ground-based encounter, a starship has one movement action and a number of other actions equal to its class. These actions can be performed by PCs or by the ship's crew.

Distances in starship encounter are measured in kilometers.  If a hex grid is used, one hex equals 1km.

Play Sequence

The play sequence is similar to that of a regular ground-based encounter.

  1. Make attribute checks to access the ambush turn, if appropriate. These will be opposed by ship sensors.

  2. Roll INITIATIVE for each ship. The pilot rolls, and can use the starship tactics skill in the dice pool. Larger ships have INITIATIVE penalties.

  3. Each ship takes a turn in INITIATIVE order, starting with whichever rolled the highest. The ship takes one move, and a number of actions equal to its class. Actions are taken in any order.

  4. At the end of the round, move on to the next round and repeat, re-rolling INITIATIVE every round.


MOVEMENT

A vessel moves a number of hexes up to its SPEED. Turning one hex side costs on point of movement. Also, see Newtonian Movement, below.

ACTIONS

In addition to movement, each ship takes a number of actions in its turn. The number of actions available to it is equal to the ship's class - a Class V vessel will move and take 5 actions. Actions consist of attacks, special exploits, repairs, scans, and more. A large vessel can accomplish a lot of simultaneous actions in one turn, although large ships tend to have low INITIATIVE and act last.

Note that PC controlled ships (not GM controlled ships) have a minimum number of actions equal to the number of PCs. All PCs get to take an action.

Actions are performed just like they are in ground-based encounters. Attribute checks, bolstered by skills, are made to attack, scan, and so on. Attacks are made using attributes vs. the target's DEFENSE, just like on the ground. Scans with starship sensors work just like scans with handheld scanners, albeit with range increments measured in kilometers rather than feet – roll a check vs the target's DEFENSE and ask a question.

Actions are taken in any order. These actions can be performed by PCs, or by the crew. PCs may only perform one action each, so if the number of available actions exceeds the number of PCs, the crew will perform the remaining actions.

Every ship has a crew rating which indicates the dice pool the crew makes when performing an action, whether that be an attack, a repair, or something else. The crew uses this set dice pool for all actions. A typical (standard) crew rolls 4d6.

Just like in ground combat, there is no fixed list of available actions. A character can do anything; the GM will assign the appropriate attribute check if necessary. However, the following list provides some examples.

  • Attack with a shipboard weapon using a LOG or INT vs. a target's DEFENSE. The gunnery skill helps with this.

  • Repair 2 points of SS or 2 CPU cycles with a Difficult [16] LOG check. Engineering helps with SS, while computers helps with CPU cycles.

  • Scan a target by making a LOG check vs. the target's DEFENSE and ask a single question about that target. You can use the computers skill to use ship sensors, or specific skills if they information you seek is related to a specific subject (engineering if you're scanning their engines, medicine if you're looking for life-forms, and so on).

  • Perform medical actions to either heal a PC, or restore a crewmember to duty. The ship's sick bay tells you its capacity per day for restoring casualties to duty. The medicine skill is useful here. This is a Challenging [13] LOG check.

  • Make an electronic attack using LOG vs. the target's E-DEFENSE. Success causes 1d6 damage to the target's current CPU cycles, possibly causing systems to shut down.

  • Launch a shuttle or a fighter squadron.

  • Perform an exploit.

  • Use transporters, tractor beams, or other special equipment.


FIRING WEAPONS

A character fires a shipboard weapon using his LOGIC for missiles and torpedoes (it's a complex, mathematical process plotting trajectories) or INTUITION for energy and ballistic weapons vs. the target ship's DEFENSE. The gunnery skill applies to ship weaponry. The target ship must be in the weapon's arc of fire; there are four arcs marked forward, aft, port, and starboard; some weapons are mounted in turrets, which give it access to more than one firing arc.

If a weapon hits, roll the damage noted on its stat-block entry. If the ship has a SOAK value from shields or armor, deduct that amount. The final total is applied to the target's SUPERSTRUCTURE.

Banks. Some weapons are mounted in banks or arrays. These are noted in the stat block. Banks and arrays require just one attack roll to hit with multiple weapons, and can be operated simultaneously by a single gunner.

Missiles. Missile weapons often have long ranges and high damage potential compared to energy weapons. However, they are more easily defended against with point defenses, and take two rounds to reach their target beyond 10 hexes (if you are using miniatures, they move at 10 hexes per round). If the target moves outside the missile's range in that time, the missile will fail to engage.

Energy weapons. Lasers, phasers, ion weapons, blasters, disruptors, and other energy weapons lose 1d6 damage per range increment.

The following modifiers apply to attacks.

Stationary target

+1d6

Rear attack

+1d6

Forward-mounted weapons

+1d6

Per range increment

-1d6

Aft-mounted weapons

-1d6

SHIELDS

Shields reduce incoming damage by an amount equal to their SOAK score. Each time a shield is penetrated, its SOAK value is reduced by 1 point. A character can repair one point of shield SOAK with a Difficult [16] LOG check.

CASUALTIES

Ordinarily, ship damage merely reduces the vessel's SUPERSTRUCTURE until it reaches 0. However, whenever the ship takes 5 or more damage (after the SOAK from shields and armor have been deducted), casualties may occur.

Each player-character should roll 1d6. On a roll of 6, the character takes 2d6 damage.

Additionally, any crew beyond the player-characters take 1d6 casualties.

A ship below its minimum crew complement suffers -1d6 to all actions. A ship below half its minimum crew complement suffers -2d6. A ship below one-tenth of its crew complement cannot function.

POINT DEFENSES

Point defenses grant an “aura”. Unlike shields, which provide a passive defense, point defenses are an active measure. Point defenses are usually too weak to do serious damage to a large vessel, but can cut swathes through squadrons of fighters or smaller ships which get too close.

An aura is assigned a range. Vessels within the aura's range automatically take 1d6 damage. The damage is inflicted whenever a ship enters the aura or begins its turn in the aura.

Point defenses also grant a continuous DEFENSE bonus vs. missiles and fighters.

FIGHTERS

Launching a fighter squadron takes one action. A squadron has these statistics:

SPEED 10, 1 action, attack rolls and INITITIATVE equal to the host ship's crew, HEALTH equal to the number of fighters, attack range increment 3.

Damage is 1d6 (to a maximum equal to the number of fighters) to other squadrons, or a flat amount equal to the number of fighters to other targets.

Squadrons take 1d6 casualties when entering or beginning their turn within a point defense aura. All other weapons do 1 damage to a squadron, regardless of the weapon's damage value.

ELECTRONIC WARFARE

Make a LOG vs. E-DEFENSE attack. A hit does 1d6 CPU damage. When CPU reaches zero, the computer shuts down and the ship goes offline.

CPU is restored with a Difficult [16] LOG check, which recovers 2 CPU points.

CPU can be reduced below zero, making it take longer to bring systems back online.

ION WEAPONS

Shields only gain half SOAK vs. an ion weapon, and damage is applied to CPU rather than SS.

EXPLODING SHIPS

A ship reduced to 0 SUPERSTRUCTURE starts to roll a fast countdown from a pool equal to its class, after which it explodes, killing everybody on board. The time taken by the countdown period can be used to evacuate the ship. The explosion can also cause damage to those nearby. The damage is equal to the ship's total power (all engines), reduced by 50% for each hex (each kilometer) of distance from the explosion.

COLLISIONS

Collisions (either through accident or deliberate ramming) do damage to both parties. The damage each vessel or object inflicts on the other is equal to its class multiplied by its velocity. Stellar objects, such as asteroids, have classes just like starships do. Asteroids range from Class I all the way up to Class 30, and typically have a velocity of 1d6.


Newtonian Movement

Newtonian movement is an optional way to deal with ship movement on a hex grid. Instead of simply moving a ship any number of hexes up to its SPEED, a ship must move a number of hexes equal to its current velocity.

The ship's SPEED score tells you how much it can increase or decrease its velocity by each turn.

A ship at zero velocity may rotate one hex side per turn for free.

Using Newtonian movement, turning does not cost any movement. It takes place for free, but there are limits on how fast you can turn based on your ship's overall agility and current velocity. A fast moving carrier has a very wide turning circle, while a tiny fighter can change direction much more easily.

A ship's turning circle is equal to its speed multiplied by its class, divided by 10 (round down to a minimum of 1). A class XI ship moving at a velocity of 6 has a turning circle of 11 x 6 / 10 = 6. A smaller Class V scout moving at the same velocity has a turning circle of 3.

The turning circle value simply represents the number of hexes in a straight line that a ship can move before turning one hex side. An easy way to track this is to leave a marker where the ship last turned a hex-side. It can turn again when it is a number of hexes from that marker equal to its turning circle, at which point you rotate the ship one hex side and reposition the marker.

Note that tactical combat speeds do not use the same scale as navigational combat speeds for SUB-L travel, although both are based on the same SPEED score. For this reason, time dilation is not a factor in combat, and a ship is not limited to a velocity of 25.

THE NEWTONIAN ROUND

The round structure for Newtonian movement differs slightly to that of regular movement. All movement takes place simultaneously, followed by all actions. The Newtonian round looks like this:

  1. All ships make INITIATIVE checks.

  2. All ships move in reverse INITIATIVE order (starting with the ship which lost).

  3. All ships then take actions in forward INITIATIVE order.

  4. Return to Step 1.

This sequence creates more realistic movement, but allows ships which win INITIATIVE to make tactical movement decisions based on what they see their opponents doing. The movement takes place simultaneously, but is resolved in reverse order to give an informational advantage to faster ships.

If you are considering running chase sequences, the Newtonian movement round is a very useful tool – especially if ships are racing through an asteroid field and trading speed for the ability to turn quickly!

COMBAT PHASES

For a more dynamic space battle, divide the round into three phases and distribute actions and movement equally across those phases. Where the number is not divisible by 3, increase or decrease the second phase. Roll INITIATIVE once per round as normal, and maintain that score through all three phases.

Phase
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
1
0
1
1
1
2
2
2
3
3
3
4
4
4
5
5
5
6
6
6
7
2
1
0
1
2
1
2
3
2
3
4
3
4
5
4
5
6
5
6
7
6
3
0
1
1
1
2
2
2
3
3
3
4
4
4
5
5
5
6
6
6
7

Combat phases work well with a smaller number of ships, but can slow things down for larger numbers.


CREWS

A ship's crew has a dice pool based on its rating:

  • Poor crews roll 3d6
  • Standard crews roll 4d6
  • Experienced crews roll 5d6
  • Elite crews roll 6d6

Crews can take actions when the ship has actions available and all PCs have taken actions. Fighter squadrons use the host ship's crew rating.