I’m working on the spaceship combat section now. Ships are, pretty much, big characters/monsters (there’s a scaling rule but it’s pretty simple). The crew determine what the ship can do, beyond the basics.
Often when you’re dealing with things like this the pilot (or the netrunner or the other specialist) completely steals the show and the other characters on board don’t get to do much of anything. If you watch a film or TV show the other people on board are generally running around, kibitzing or otherwise getting involved in the action in some way.
I wanted to do things in a way that wouldn’t completely take the spotlight off the pilots and gunners, but also wouldn’t make the other players feel like useless bastards.
So, picture the scene from The Empire Strikes Back where the damaged Millennium Falcon is trying to flee the Imperial blockade of Hoth.
Han and Chewie are desperately trying to fix the buggered hyperdrive when the ship is rocked.
Han makes a Logic Save and figures out that that wasn’t from a laser blast. Fearing the worst and spurred on by Leia’s bossiness over the comm he and Chewie run to the bridge.
Leia’s been trying to steer them through the asteroid field but while she’s good in a scrap she can’t – at this point – pilot for shit. Han’s the best pilot they’ve got (Skill 5) and its his ship so he takes the controls and starts making the Pilot Skill rolls. Every time he fails he has to make a Reflex Save for the ship or get dinged by an asteroid and take damage.
Han hits upon the BRILLIANT plan of flying deeper into the asteroid field. On a metagame level he knows that the Star Destroyers are big, slow bastards that can’t dodge for shit and that the TIE fighter pilots are only going to have a pilot skill of 2-3 even if the ship’s Reflex Saves are better. With his skill and the Millennium Falcon being a medium-sized ship that belongs to a band of adventuring heroes, he figures they have a pretty good chance.
It’s not ALL down to him though. The others pitch in and ‘help’.
Chewie – Angles the deflector (makes a Tech Skill Roll) and tries to ward off the rocks as best he can. The Games Master decides this gives the Falcon +1 armour against damage from the asteroids.
Leia – “You don’t have to do this to impress me.” Which means, of course, that Han absolutely does. She rolls a Charm or Looks Save to motivate him into trying harder because he fancies her. The GM decides this increases his Piloting Skill to an effective 6 for the duration of the pursuit.
C3PO – Calculates the odds with a Science Skill Roll While Han doesn’t like to know the odds the mathematical impossibility of what he’s doing may help him to be a bit more cautious. The GM rules that this increases the Reflex Save of the ship by +1.
Han wants to shake off these TIE fighters so he opts for some tricky maneuvers through the field, deliberately crippling his own Piloting roll by -2. If the TIEs want to follow him they’ll have to do the same.
Cue lots of explosions and shiny piloting moves as people succeed – or screw up – on their Pilot rolls and Reflex Saves.