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Prime Directive/SFB or FC mashup?

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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 23 Dec 2010
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:07 pm    Post subject: Prime Directive/SFB or FC mashup? Reply with quote

So many years ago I was part of a Battletech/ Mechwarrior tabletop miniatures/rpg mashup game. Anybody doing this sort of thing with PD and SFB (or FC for some lighter play)?

It has been many years since that game so I dont remember much as far as how we went about it only that we played a single game using 2 rules systems. Seems like PD and SFB/FC would be perfect for a game like this. Or is that a given?


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Joined: 19 Jun 2009
Posts: 741

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Traveller (an old JTAS issue), I believe it was Leroy Gautney that once said that he avoided space combat unless he really wanted to spend a lot of time on character generation.

After running a 25 game CAR WARS campaign... what I noticed there was that it was extremely satisfying to have a battle history for a character. ("This is the guy that pulled my character out his burning vehicle even though I'd just killed that dude's car!") Once a character had five or six sessions under his belt... it became really hard to put him back into the meat grinder of deadly arena combat where he might have a one-in-six chance of getting permanently killed. At that point... this huge pressure developed to leave the arena and start role-playing more... where the narrative thrust protects the character from random and pointless death.

Another issue is that what is interesting to the wargamer is going to affect the characters that enter rotation. Troup play really worked for this in CAR WARS. Give each player a new bridge crew to play with for each faction you are interested in as you play whatever interests you. Promote the captain from Frigate to Cruiser if he does something awesome, otherwise... maybe graduate him when he completes 5-6 missions. The XO takes over the frigate... some of the key personnell will go with the captain-- maybe the people who have been marked as doing something particularly awesome get moved on.

Each player will have a few crews in play. I'd suggest being fairly liberal with survival rules-- maybe escape pods and medical technology make for pretty good chances. But take the loser crew out of rotation for a few games while the other more successful ships do cool missions. If other ships die... you can kill off or retire lots of the crews of those ships and then bring 'em back onto a destroyer or police ship and have 'em do a really lame mission or something.

If you play a lot... you'll get several ships going... they could combine for fleet battles. When you want to do role playing... generate Prime Directive characters for the dramatis personnae... and you'll have a ship and crew with "real" histories. (This is far superior to the faux history generated in Classic Traveller's life path char gen system.) The characters will affect your tactics in the wargames, too. ("The captain watches as the enemy dreadnought opens fire on his former XO's ship... all hands lost when the warp coils breach. Orders: Overload torpedoes. Close to point blank range.")

The only hitch is that tracking the crews and ships is time consuming and you don't really get to just sit down and play whatever scenario you want. Every scenario you play has to fit in with an overarching campaign story... and each game you play will add to your campaign's setting history. This is work... but is really is a lot of fun to play that way.
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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 23 Dec 2010
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Mon Dec 27, 2010 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand the character death thing. In my WEG Star Wars game many years ago death via ship destruction was a problem when playing "by the book". Had to invent some fudge rules that allowed characters to survive. We did the same with our Battletech/Mechwarrior game. While in tabletop mode you had to be pretty reckless and really push it for the actual character to die. Death was more likely in RPG mode. Usually a pilot would survive unless they were just really asking for it.

I would think the same thing would be true (even more so) in SFB. The objective usually isn't total destruction of the opposing forces but rather to force withdrawals or to capture ships and personnel.

I think given this ethos it actually makes SFB more suited to this sort of play. The idea of being captured and having players RP themeselves out of a situation (think Undiscovered Country) makes for endless possibilities.
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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 25 Jun 2010
Posts: 54
Location: Alameda, CA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SJ Games has the GURPS Spaceships line which in the first book their is a simple space combat game. It gets more detail in book 3...

Most players I know aren't interested in playing a detailed wargame to resolve battles, but if you're group doesn't mind, I say go for it.
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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 23 Dec 2010
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 12:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well my intention was something like I was involved in with Battletech in that the tactical wargame was the bigger focus and the RPG part was added for flavor.
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Joined: 16 Jan 2007
Posts: 797
Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roleplaying a wargame helps cut back on players just grabbing the best weapon and go charging in without regard to the consequences --
It makes people fight more realistically, as they will have to repair and use the ship/mech etc later instead of just picking another out of the box ---

Like SFC, if you lose a ship, it downgrades you to a smaller ship and your basically starting over in the middle of the game ---
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 31, 2010 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Resources you'll want to look at:

1) Check out the naval character generation system in Classic Traveller books 1 and 5. It's just plain neat. If you could somehow use this system to inspire scenarios and GURPS stats and have the games feed back into the results (or at least result in die shifts....)

2) Check out my blog for a similar campaign run in CAR WARS: http://jeffro.wordpress.com/

3) Read the *entire* Honor Harrington series.

It think it works to plan out a series of five games that are more-or-less interesting in and of themselves. Doing it all with frigate crews at first will probably be a lot different than the Heavy Cruiser games you normally do. Think up some sort of story to let it all hang together... and decide *in advance* of the games how the outcome of each scenario can affect the later ones.

After this series of games... hash out how you'd handle promotions. In fact... you may want to handle this with a prestige system. In CAR WARS we competed for sponsorships... but naval characters will compete for promotions to cool ships.

"Real" role play games tend to last for five sessions. GURPS combat is sufficiently interesting to merit their own game sessions. I'd consider throwing some of those into the mix. (Ie, if this frigate squadron succeeds in taking the Rigel system, the marines will have to deal with some sort of uprising in scenario #8.)

And yeah... as Bolo says... it is really cool when the story takes over and you end up playing games that you would never have set up otherwise. Campaign systems go a long way towards making actions less munchkinny... but playing with real characters... the game takes on even more of a life of its own.
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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 12 Nov 2010
Posts: 65
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...and of course this is exactly why things like The Captain's Game in SFB/FC interest me far more than one-off scenarios!

It does make you consider the "human" element a bit more than the typical wargamer.
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Dal Downing

Joined: 06 May 2008
Posts: 556
Location: Western Wisconsin

PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the Gurps PD game I got roped into running I am using Fed Com for the starship combat. The ship I am giving the Players is a modified Tramp Freighter I stuck a General Skid and a Ducktail on. Fudging things abit by giving them 10 Box Shiled and Military Grade Engines (2 4 point Engines) only because I do not want to take years of game time moving form on side of space to the other. If they managed to loose thier ship I have already planned that the Ship will initiate a emergence procedure and beam the PC out and along with a couple of the Major NPC into a Unpowerd "lifeboat" where i decide who will pick them up be it Star Fleet another Freighter or maybe a bunch of Pirates.

The other thing I am looking into doing is a simple legendary Officer sysytem. The Enginner will add a free point of Power, The Ops/Weapon Officer will subtract one from the die rolls that sort of thing.

This stuff may sound like it is Munchkinning the system but a Plasma G fired by a Snipe at a Freight is nothing to laugh at...

As far as Baording Party Actions go I have the Ships Floor plans from the old PD1 "Prime Adventures Book."

"Which one of you is the Biggest, Baddest, Bootlicker of the bunch?"
"I am."

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Joined: 07 Mar 2010
Posts: 428
Location: Danville, PA

PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dal, that sounds like a good idea... and don't forget about the "Free Trader" or "Prime Traders" are pretty standard all throughout, so they're my usual standby for character transportation...
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Lieutenant SG

Joined: 30 May 2010
Posts: 150
Location: Geneva CH / Manila RP

PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about Starmada as the mashup rules system ?
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Lieutenant JG

Joined: 25 Jul 2011
Posts: 60

PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've mashed up several trek RPG's to SFB in the past.

Generally, I took my cues from FASA Trek.

Captain gives orders for turn - no game mechanics.

Chief Engineer makes skill test to function as a legendary engineer that turn. Then divides power into several piles (Poker Chips really help here): Helm, Weapons, Commo/EW, Flight Deck(s), Systems (Trans, Labs, Probe, Trac), Shields.

Helm officer can roll to adjust Turn Mode. divides helm power between movement functions. Need not use all of it, but unused may be lost. I used also the turn gages and counters with arcs mounted...

Nav controls shields and reinforcement.

Weapons Officer allocates weapon power to weapon systems. Rolls to hit with weapons. (I used adaptations to the tricode PD1 system. See below)

Science Officer does TacInt, allocates systems power. Uses labs.
Comm Off handles EW power and assignment. Also drone control channels.
Flight Deck Director allocates flight deck power (including arming of weapons racks, charging Suicides and SWAC's) and Deck Crews.

Marine Major uses the advanced boarding party map to allocate the ship's marines. Has to get the Sci Off to beam his troops, tho... If with, may play out 5 turns of combat with "standard marines" (STR 5, ACC 5, SPD 5 Dis 5, Wpn 4/4 SDC=10 LDC=10 AV 2/2/2) for rest of squad.

Pilots fly their fighter.

Worked rather well. Felt different from SFB,but played fine as a group RP of combat. The CEngr really has to be on the ball.

Weapon Adaptations to PD:
Method 1: Use PD Tricode damage rules
P1: D#=2/4/8, R 1-5/8/16/25
P3: D# 1/3/4 R 0-2/3/8/15
Phot D# 4/6/8 2-4/8/12/25
Disr D#-2/3/5 R=1-2/8/15/25

Method 2 - 1d weapons: SS Weapons vs 4/6/8
Botch: SFB Roll = 6
Fail: SFB Roll = 5
Min: SFB Roll = 4
Mod: SFB Roll = 3
Comp: SFB Roll = 2
Crit: SFB roll = 1

Method two provides a more SFB feel.

A bridge hit was 2d6 Stun + 1d6+1 Lethal to everyone in there. For a multibox bridge, divide the positions; the other half took 1d6 S and 1d3 L.
(1d6+1 Lethal won't kill many marines, but lots of PC Navals will be badly hurt.)
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