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Cenematic Starship Combat in PD d20
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Joined: 16 Apr 2009
Posts: 702
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA, Sol, Gould Belt, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Universe Beta

PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 6:14 pm    Post subject: Another thought... Reply with quote

I know this thread is a little old, but it interested me.

I don't think it is unreal in an RPG to let a small group of characters command and control a ship of 400+ people. On TV shows and movies we often see that the heroes make the difference. If the characters represent the department heads in a section, then their skills make the difference (otherwise there would be no skill roll to affect the combat, because the "crew" is average).

I played a lot of GURPS, and it was there I became enamored of abstract combat for space encounters and mass combat. In GURPS Space (3rd Edition, missing from the 4e book) is an excellent combat system that lets you pit small vessels up to capital ship (or bigger) against each other. There is no maneuvering or game board, but all the characters can influence the outcome with their specialties (engineer, pilot, etc). For an RPG, it gives the information needed: who won, what was damaged, and who was hurt. Plus, it was fast, which gets to the RPG part again. The new Traveller from Mongoose also has such a system, though it is slightly more tactical with its abstract range system.

As for how the players could affect FC/SFB? Well, the model is already in SFB, in G22 (Advance Captain's Missions). Legendary officers! They are a "heroic" crew member that affects the battle. I would adapt this and have the player get their abilities, and make skill rolls to see if they succeed in the attempt, and have a bad failure possible make the attempt worse. For instance, if the player is acting as Weapons Officer, he may attempt to roll his Gunner roll for the ships Phasers. If he succeeds, the is a -1 modifier to the phaser fire. If he fails badly, it becomes +1. Basically, he is barking commands to the crew, and as he calls the shots, it affects the situation. If he does not try, the crew just does average (no modifier).

(I'd assume the Captain would order the ships direction.)

Of course, by having so many players able to affect a ship during combat tilts the combat in favor of the player crew. This is OK; they are the heroes and should survive better than most, otherwise the campaign would be over too easy. Otherwise, up the value of the enemy ships to balance.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 797
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Mon May 03, 2010 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

During Origins 1991, participated in the RPG for SFB test --
The players were the bridge crew --
Was a limited recon mission scenario with some ship combat, seemed to work well to me ---
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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 27 Apr 2010
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Tue May 04, 2010 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are two tricks to making this kind of combat work; the first which FASA did admirably in their 1st generation of their RPG, was each player has enough to do and can contribute to the "combat" with appropriate skills from their character impacting the outcome.

The second thing is to provide a simplified system that enables the GM to play the OPFOR with enough tempo that the players don't get bored waiting for a response... this is less easy to do, even in Federation Commander the workload on the 5-6 Division/Department Heads/Bridge Officers is the same as it is on the GM, and they are only running one ship.

The other aspect is less easy to define with rules, but this type of starship combat needs to be directly relevant to the role play scenario... good GM'ing and role-playing required...

Done well this can be a great enhancement to a playing session, done poorly, it can be a crushing bore that interferes with the story.
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