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Capital Ship Warfare

Discussion of various rule systems and possible home rules

Capital Ship Warfare

Postby Quicksilver » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:18 pm

So, I'm putting here my thoughts on the creation of the capital ship system, so it isn't just a black box release.  I decided to start with goals & intent.  This, hopefully, will allow us to keep these in mind as we build the subsystem and not loose focus or go off and design something unusable.
When in doubt, stay close to the existing system.

It's so easy with these kinds of things to go overboard in making something totally customized, but for playability and integration, it's always best if it doesn't stray to far.  In this particular case, that means trying to stick with hull, strain, armor, maneuver, action etc as written unless we really need to change something.
Keep the focus on the Heroes/villains

There are hundreds of people on each ship, but the ones we care about are our characters, and the notable antagonists - for capital ships, that means our senior officers.  So the decisions, effects and rolls should be based on our senior officers when possible.
Keep the game moving

The trick here is not to get caught up in such a way it takes forever to complete a battle scene.  The big thing here is minimizing rolls.  In addition to keeping the number of rolls down, however, is reducing wait time, particularly for a PbP.  This means trying to make multiple rolls occur at once, and otherwise try and minimize back and forth.  It also means minimizing roll-effecting-rolls when possible.
Ship and crew matter

This is basically the balance point we're going for.  A ship with a PC or Nemesis captain or crew should be able to punch above their weight, but no so much that the quality or strength of the ship doesn't matter.  PCs should win against 'rival' ships of the same class, but not without some damage, and Nemesis ships should be close to equal.  Likewise, PCs should be seriously challenged by 'rival' ships of a slightly larger class, but able to win with high skills or good tactics.  We want to avoid creating a situation where the presence of the PCs or the size of the ship are the only things that matter.
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby Quicksilver » Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:20 pm

Alright, so with focus points out of the way these are the kind of ideas I've been considering for how to go about making a capital ship system:

Fully staffed: Build the system that assumes someone is performing all of the actions listed under normal 'starship actions' - Someone is scanning, someone is spoofing incoming missiles, someone is firing the cannons.  Therefore, we'll really need both a way to apply these without rolling, as well as a new set of PC 'command' actions.  Things that can either push the ship/crew's capabilities or allow for special or better result.  Some of these could even be 'gambits' that could go worse, but could go a lot better.

Similarly, I'd love to figure out a way to get weapons fire down to a single roll, perhaps modified by command actions like "Intensify Forward Fire Power"  I have no idea how to accomplish this without going way-away from the base system though.  Linked or autofire rules maybe?

Cog in the Machine: Crew quality is something that came up earlier.  I wanted to find some way to represent better or worse crews, but want to keep the rolls to the PCs, at least in combat.  The solution I'm thinking is to treat crew similarly to equipment.  A 'regular' crew would be neutral.  A poor or understaffed crew would apply 1-2 setback dice, while an veteran or expert crew would add 1-2 boost dice.  Non-combat rolls might have the crew use a static roll based on quality, with YG or YGG being 'regular'

Incidental Orders Actions and Maneuvers that would just be ordered by command become incidentals, things like changing location or angling shields.  At this point its really no different than a speaking incidental.
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby ShadoWarrior » Sun Apr 19, 2015 6:32 pm

Quicksilver wrote:A poor or understaffed crew would apply 1-2 setback dice

Converting WEG's rules for skeleton crews to FFG translates into 1-2 difficulty upgrades to all shipboard skill checks for ships operating with a seriously low crew count (equivalent to +5 at less than 80% full, to +10 difficulty at 36-50% full, in WEG's d6 system). A ship with 80% or more of a full crew suffers 1 setback (+3 difficulty in the d6 system) until fully staffed.

And I just realized that I forgot to apply the 1 diff upgrade to all of the search checks that were made in the Far Orbit game. {sigh} :oops: :roll:
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby What » Mon Apr 20, 2015 4:16 pm

My current thoughts:

Round overview
Spoiler:
Step 1: Initiative
Each 'section' of a capital ship rolls initiative separately to represent the different crews' varying states of readiness. Each section selects one player/npc to make the roll.
-Bridge
-Weapons
-Engineering
-Each wing of fighters

Step 2: Assign Initiative Slots
As normal.

Step 3: Participants take turns
Beginning at the top of the Initiative Order, the players and GM fill each initiative slot one at a time with a section turn. Every player within a section may act during its assigned slot. The sections may go in whatever ordered desired.

Capital Ships can have many hundreds or even thousands of crew members. As such, each capital ship (A ship of silhouette 5+) has a number of "NPC actions" equal to half its silhouette, rounded up. It's assumed that ships of any size can call upon crewmen with an attribute 3 for a given task - on top of that, the GM can assign a "skill" level for each ship: Poorly Trained, Average, Well Trained, representing the number of upgrades (1,2,3 respectively.)

For example, this is how a combat turn for a capital ship might look:
Slot 1 - Bridge Crew
Player 1 uses the "Coordinated Fire" action.
Player 2 uses "Plot course"
Player 3 moves the ship to short range.
Slot 2 - Engineering
Player 4 boosts the port shields.
1 NPC slot is used to redirect aft shields to port.
Slot 3 - Weapons
Player 5 uses "Fire Discipline"
Player 6 uses "Blanket Barrage" to target enemy fighters.
The remaining 2 NPC slots use "Concentrated Barrage" on the enemy capital ship
Slot 4
Fighter Wing 1 goes
Slot 5
Fighter Wing 2 goes

Step 4 - Round Ends
As normal.


Capital Ship Maneuvers and Actions
Spoiler:
Bridge
-Accelerate / Decelerate (Maneuver)
-Fly (Maneuver)
-Plot Course (Action)
-Copilot (Action)
-Jamming (Action)
-Scan (Action)
-Slice (Action)
-Spoof Missiles (Action)

Weapons
-Blanket Barrage* (Anti-fighter attack) (Action)
-Concentrated Barrage* (Anti-capital ship attack)(Action)
-Overwhelming Barrage* (Area of effect attack)(Action)
-Fire Discipline (Action)

Engineering
-Damage Control (Action)
-Angle Deflector Shields (Maneuver)
-Boost Shields (Action)

Fighter Wings
Fighter wings use the squadron rules from the AoR GM screen - chiefly, PC pilots are in charge of a wing/squadron of NPC pilots in a minion group. By default, they gain a Boost to all actions, and incoming damage is applied to the minion group's health pool first. If the PC rolls a triumph on any check, they may spend it to have the minion group perform one action. Each wing/squadron of fighters, or individual sil 4 ship, acts on its own initiative pass**.

*In the interest of saving time, it is assumed that all weapons of the same type on the same facing will be involved in the same check. For instance:

The Far Orbit is firing at an enemy DP-20.
It chooses to fire its port medium turbolasers in a Concentrated Barrage.
The check (either at the NPC's skill rating or directed by a PC) results in a hit and four advantage.
This results in 17 damage total, plus a critical. (10 base damage, +1 success, +6 # weapons in battery by spending 1 advantage. 3 remaining advantage on a critical.)
Soak is only applied once, after taking into account breach.

**PC vessels under Sil 5 continue to use the normal published rules for ships of their size. NPC vessels are limited to a number of actions equal to 1/2 their silhouette or their crew capacity, whichever is least.... provided a capital ship is involved in the scene.


This is 95% RAW, with some minor reworkings... mostly to initiative, and forcing capital ships to use the 3 "Barrage" actions instead of firing weapons individually.

This also assumes only 2-3 vessels plus their fighters. For anything larger I would recommend the "Mass Combat Rules" from Arda 1 for the majority of the fighting, and limiting what the players encounter directly to that 2-3 vessel range.
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby ShadoWarrior » Wed May 06, 2015 11:18 am

Any progress to report, Quick?
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby Quicksilver » Wed May 06, 2015 12:35 pm

Not really, at least not yet. Unfortunately, my free time got suddenly filled up. Hopefully I'll be able to dive into this again this weekend.

I do like What's idea of doing capital ship initiative by 'section', though I'm still bouncing around on a way to do that and still allowing people to benefit from their high cool/vigilance. For the rest, well, I'm still kinda working on it.
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby Quicksilver » Sat Nov 07, 2015 11:12 am

So this is what I have so far. (2 posts)

Terminology

Character: Characters, in this rule, refers to Player Characters, as well as Nemesis NPCs. Rivals may count as characters only if they are acting in isolation from any PCs or Nemesis NPCs.

Capital Ship: A vessel with a silhouette at or above five.

Small Craft: A vessel with a silhouette under five.

New Traits & Statistics

Crew Quality

In addition to their normal listed stats, all capital ships now have a stat known as "Crew Quality". Crew Quality ranges from -2 to +2 (except in exceptional circumstances) and provides boost or setback dice in the same way as handling, except these dice apply to all actions the ship undertakes.

Some specific actions may use Crew Quality in a different way, this will be clearly stated in the description of the action.

Low Crew

Skill rolls are based on the assumption of a fully crewed vessel. If a vessel has only between 50% and 90% of its listed crew requirement, it upgrades the check of all tasks by 1. If the number of personnel on the vessel falls below 50%, this penalty increases to 2 upgrades. At the GMs discretion, some actions may become unavailable at particularly low crew levels ( < 25%)

Departments

Sections of these rules frequently refer to Departments. All Capital Ship operations are divided into five different departments, each which can be considered to be operating independently from the others. These departments are detailed below.

Command

Command is a unique department consisting of the Captain and other senior officers (if present, depending on the structure and size of the vessel). Command never acts as its own department, but rather it's personnel may consider themselves a member of any other department. Each member may only be in one department per round.

Helm

Helm covers all personnel responsible for determining and controlling where and how the vessel moves in space. Typically, the department includes navigators, pilots and copilots.

Weapons

Weapons covers the operation of weaponry mounted on the vessel. Launching of craft in hanger bays would also fall under this department.

Operations

Operations is something of a catch-all category of all the personnel required to operate all of the other systems that keep starships operational.

Engineering

Engineering includes all the personnel tasked with keeping the ship in working order.
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby Quicksilver » Sat Nov 07, 2015 11:18 am

Initiative

During large scale starship combat, initiative is always rolled for groups. Each grouping will have its own initiative count, within that group, however all actions are considered to occur at the same time. Note that there are two different types of grouping that can occur with many capital ships and there is a large crossover area where either might be acceptable. In this range, the GM should choose an initiative type depending on the needs of the encounter.

Individual Capital Ship

The entirety of a capital ship may act at a single initiative pass. To calculate the ship's initiative, all characters roll a cool or vigilance check (as appropriate) against an average difficulty. Only one character is required to roll initiative, all others may choose to pass, but must choose before any dice are cast. The net results from all the checks are added together to determine the ship's final initiative score.

This initiative type should almost always be used for vessels with only one or two characters onboard, and should not be used for ships with more than four characters onboard.

Capital Ship by Department

Each department of a particular capital ship may act on a different initiative pass. To calculate the department's initiative, all characters roll a cool or vigilance check (as appropriate) against an average difficulty. Only one character is required to roll initiative, all others may choose to pass, but must choose before any dice are cast. The net results from all the checks are added together to determine the department's final initiative score. If no characters are available to roll initiative for a particular department, the crew makes a roll using only their boost or setback dice against a simple (-) difficulty.

This initiative type should almost always be used if all the PCs are on a single vessel, or if more than four characters are onboard a single vessel. This type of imitative should not be used for ships with only one or two characters on board.

Small Craft Squadrons/flights

The squadron or flight leader pilot makes a Cool or Vigilance check (as appropriate) against a simple (-) difficulty. The entire squadron acts at the same time as their squadron leader.

Individual Small Craft

The pilot makes a Cool or Vigilance check (as appropriate) against a simple (-) difficulty.


So, you can see with this system that a particular capital ship will only have at most 5 initiative passes (1 per department) and then only if there are numerous characters on the vessel. Once the characters start splitting up (or when dealing with most rivals) the capital ships will only get one initiative pass each, which should help speed up play.

You'll also notice that capital ships are rolling their initiative against a difficulty, while small craft don't. This both helps sell the idea that small craft are more reactive then the massive behemoths they support, but also helps null out untrained officers, as rolling 2 Green vs. 2 Purple is almost as likely to hurt as it is to help, particularly with a poor crew.

Next up, an Action list...
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Re: Capital Ship Warfare

Postby Quicksilver » Fri Jul 01, 2016 4:28 pm

Capital Ship Actions

Nearly all capital ship actions are divided into the different departments, and only characters in that particular department may perform one of those actions. Depending on the ship, this may be a matter of physical location, where on others it's more a result of focus and authority.
Because of the complexity of operating a capital ship, all characters must spend one maneuver performing the essential functions of their position in order to be in a position to perform actions. Characters may spend strain to gain an additional maneuver as normal.

Each of the actions listed below have both an active and passive effect listed. The active section is used when a character takes that action. The passive effect is used when no character takes that option, and the action is left up to the basic crew. Note that on any given turn the ship can benefit from only the active or the passive; inept leadership can hamper an otherwise effective crew.

Helm Actions:

Adjust Speed:
Active: The ship changes speed by 1. The pilot may utilize related talents.
Passive: The ship changes speed by 1.

Fly/Drive or "Come to New Heading":
Active: Using the Fly/Drive chart, the ship makes a 2 maneuver reposition of its relative location.
Passive: Using the Fly/Drive chart, the ship makes a 1 maneuver reposition of its relative location.

Stay on Target or "Lock On Target":
Active: Until the Helm's next turn, the ship's weapons receive one upgrade to hit other Capital Ships, but all capital ship attacks on the ship also gain an upgrade. Mutually exclusive with Evasive Action.
Passive: Until the Helm's next turn, the ship's weapons receive one upgrade to hit other Capital Ships, but all capital ship attacks on the ship also gain an upgrade. This can only be used if no other helm actions are selected. Mutually exclusive with Evasive Action.

Evasive Action:
Active: Until the Helm's next turn, all capital ship weapons targeting this ship suffer an upgraded difficulty, but all weapon the evading ship suffer an upgraded difficulty. Mutually exclusive with Lock on Target.
Passive: Until the Helm's next turn, all capital ship weapons targeting this ship suffer an upgraded difficulty, but all weapon the evading ship suffer an upgraded difficulty. This can only be used if no other helm actions are selected. Mutually exclusive with Lock on Target.

Navigate Terrain:
Active: Roll a piloting or astrogation check against ½ the ship's silhouette and its speed, using the larger as the difficulty and the smaller as the number of upgrades. Setbacks are based on the terrain.
Passive: The ship automatically suffers a number of hull points and strain equal to the size of the ship, reduced by the crew's quality score. Ships with poor quality crews (-1, -2) also reduce their speed by that value.


Weapon Actions:

Blanket Barrage:
Active: As per Age of Rebellion Core Rule Book.
Passive: No roll is made. Instead of upgrading, affected craft add 1 setback. Results of disadvantage & despair are the same.

Concentrated Barrage:
Active: As per Age of Rebellion Core Rule Book.
Passive: No roll is made. Half of the weapon's damage is dealt to the target, plus the half the number of weapons fired, plus crew rating

Overwhelming Barrage:
Active: As per Age of Rebellion Core Rule Book.
Passive: No roll is made. Half the weapons base damage + crew rating is dealt to two adjacent targets.



Operations Actions:

Manage Deflector Shields:
Active: Suffer 1 system strain. Make a hard mechanics check. On success, boost 1 sector of shields by 1 point for 1 turn. Additional successes increase number of turns. Alternately, if a previous round's boost is still in effect, you may change the boosted sector with no check. In addition, you may reduce regular shield strength in one quadrant by one, and increase it in a different arc by one.
Passive: May reduce shield regular strength in one quadrant by one, and increase it in a different arc by one.

Jam Communications:
Active: As per Age of Rebellion
Passive: Select two targets, plus crew quality. These targets must pass an (easy) computers check to use their comms.

Scan the Enemy:
Active: As per Age of Rebellion. In addition, two Advantage may be spent to gain information about an additional vessel in the combat.
Passive: Identify two plus crew quality pieces of the following items of information: Weapons, Standard Systems, Modifications, Hull Threshold, Strain Threshold, Current Hull, Current Strain.

"Spoof" Missiles:
Active: As per Age of Rebellion.
Passive: Weapons with the "Guided" quality suffer 1 setback die.



Engineering Actions:

Regulate Power:
Active: Make a mechanics or computers check with a difficulty based on the current strain threshold. The ship regains 2 points of strain per advantage. In addition, for every two advantage, you may add a Boost die to another check aboard the same ship.
Passive: If the system strain is below half the threshold, reduce it by 4 plus the crew quality. If it he system strain is above half, reduce by 2 plus the crew quality.

Damage Control:
Active: Make a mechanics or leadership check with a difficulty based on the current hull threshold. The ship regains 1 point of hull for every success, up to the amount of damage taken during the previous turn.
Passive: If the hull is below half the threshold, reduce it by two plus the crew quality. If it the hull is above half, reduce by zero plus the crew quality (minimum zero).

Emergency Repairs:
Active: Make a mechanics check with a difficulty based on the critical being repaired. Note that Emergency repairs only stop the effect – the critical adds ten to further critical hits.
Passive: It takes the crew two turns per level of critical hit to repair it, modified by crew quality (minimum 1 turn). The crew will always work on the most dangerous (highest number) critical.
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