So, I’m thinking about space battles – and perhaps more broadly vehicle battles – in Machinations of the Space Princess and there’s a tension between wanting to keep rules simple an wanting to make them fit and be fun.
The most obvious route is to treat a spaceship like a monster. Give it hit points and statistics and so forth, but that doesn’t reflect the participation of the crew, the ace pilot and so on – much as it works well for enemy ships.
I want a system that remains simple but also allows crew – and passengers – to make a difference, so that everyone on the ship can feel that they’re doing something to help out in a battle.
One idea is to modify a concept from the game Full Thrust. In Full Thrust (which is an excellent space-battle wargame) ships have rows of damage and when a row of damage is taken there’s a chance of losing systems from being able to operate.
So, what I’m thinking, perhaps, is that ships will have hit point ratings – along with defence etc – and also have system ratings.
- Life Support
So, say you have a snub fighter with 5hp (Starship scale) and it takes 10 damage from a vesta beam, it’s going to take two lots of system damage.
It has systems rated at:
- Systems O
- Life Support O
- Weapons OO
- Engines O
- Cargo O
- Hull O
It takes two damage at locations two and six. Life support is out (crew take damage) and the hull is destroyed, the ship goes boom! Damage would flow down, so if you hit systems and it was already clobbered, it would flow down to life support and so on.
The people on the ship can lend their skills and abilities to piloting it and avoiding harm, firing the weapons (using their ranged attack skills) and doing other actions to boost shields, restore broken systems, patch up the hull and even offer encouragement.
So I’d make a laundry list of options for things people can do to help out, as examples. EG: ‘Never tell me he odds’, rotate shield frequencies, manually adjust the warp field, etc, etc, etc. All of which means everyone can be valuable on board ship and much like adventurers versus monsters, player ships will have more options and punch above their weight.
Hit dice, systems picks and, perhaps, templates. Somewhat similar to the racial design.
A 1HD attack fighter might have one set of stats while a 2HD light hauler might be very different!
What are your thoughts and ideas?
Sounds like a sound approach to me. Elegant, simple, but also providing a mechanical means by which PC crew can influence things. Definitely go with the “ship as monster” route for NPC vessels, however, as otherwise you end up having to account for various NPC crew skills, and that’s more trouble than it’s worth.
Looks simple, elegant, and with enough room for PC involvement to me, mate. Definitely keep NPC ships as “monsters” though, as tracking various skill levels for various NPC crewmen would be more of a chore than it’s worth.
Sounds epic. Would the ships have options for improvements, such that you can play to the strengths of your crew? I’m thinking some players will go for tactical maneuverability… others will try to make it a slow moving tank… and you can then utilize your crew in a way that makes the most sense for what you’ve built your ship to be.
Yes they will. Playtesting at Indiecon has given me a few ideas even though we didn’t do ship stuff in that.