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PD ships and other ADB product questions
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boneguard
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 6:40 pm    Post subject: PD ships and other ADB product questions Reply with quote

With the GURP system aside from the Klingon (and the Hydran in the Module Prime Alpha) there's no stats for the ships, just descriptions...and I was wondering 2 things:

1) For space combat which of the ADB product would work best as a complement for PD?? I do have some SFB stuff, but I was wondering if one of the others wouldn't be better.

If anyone else has experince with this feedback would be appreciated.

2) I understand that the current focus would be on PD Traveller version and probably to bring it up to par with the 2 other versions (so Base book, and Klingon, Romulan and Federation sourcebook). So in the Grand scheme of thing where would a 'Ship' supplement fit in? Could we expect it in a few years or is it further down the road after other 'Race' books??

No, rush just curious.


Last edited by boneguard on Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Jeffr0
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking as a game master... injecting real space combat into an ongoing campaign is a good way to instigate a pointless and unnecessary total party kill. While there are scads of space combat systems out there for all kinds of role playing systems... I'm not sure how often any of these are actually getting played in the context they are supposedly designed for.

In the source material... space combat is almost entirely character driven anyway. It is won as much with social interaction is it is with anything else. Some crazy scheme jury rigged by the chief engineer and the science officer based off some gadget or information picked up by a successful sex appeal roll is the typical solution to any serious space combat challenge. The navigator and the weapons officer might have to pitch in somehow, but the stuff that they do is not the focus of the challenge.

Another aspect that the space combat system traditionally provides is *indirect* information about the game universe. Ships are more often part of the setting and not part of an actual board game when it comes to rpgs. This is where ADB products are invaluable. If you play a couple of games of F&E and maybe a dozen games of SFB, you will have all kinds of information about how things work in the Star Fleet Universe. When your players are peppering you with questions about what is going on and why... experience with the original war games can be invaluable to GM's looking to give a consistent, coherent answer to battle-related background questions.

Any rpg space combat system will be (as a war game) inferior to SFB and F&E. At best, they will only be a rough approximation of the real thing. So play the real thing to educate yourself... then... look at your characters... and see if you can use what you know about the unvierse to craft role playing challenges that are consistent with the setting. Any role playing game worth its salt should be able to handle this sort of thing.

Note that at Origins, I opened my sessions with a space combat situation that was handled entirely with role playing rules. This worked out really well [in my obviously biased opinion, of course] because it got some pulse pounding action right away... gave a player the chance to sit in the captain's chair... and gave the players a chance to use skills that wouldn't really come up after they beamed down to the planet surface later on. Also... it showed me how confident, aggressive, and/or foolhardy the players were. Basically... the players would describe what they wanted to do, they made skill rolls if there was something like that on their sheets... and then... I described what happened based on both their rolls and on my experiences as an SFB player. So... when the players detected a D6 Battlecruiser coming right at them and not answering hails... and the Naviagtor asked for information on the D6's course... I could (depending on the roll) describe the D6 as coming in on a classic oblique approach.

Little details like that add very specific flavor and a sense of realism-- and when the players ask you to explain... you can go into as much detail as they care for. Typical players won't-- the story is much more important than the individual details. However... suspension of disbelief is pretty much a GM's primary goal in an rpg-- so these little bits can be extremely valuable. Mainly, your complete confidence in your own understanding of the setting is the most essential thing, really. It means that no matter what the players try to do... you can immediately improvise a reasonable consequence.

Normally role playing games develop the combat system *after* the setting is developed. With Star Fleet Universe, this is reversed. SFB and F&E have a significantly different level of canonicity when compared to games like High Guard and Brilliant Lances. With Traveller games... if results/tactics in the games contradicted the setting blah blah... then the games were "wrong". Even worse, most of those sorts of games never got more than a second edition revision-- if it got any revision at all! SFB and F&E have been continually revised and developed for 25 years and more. Great pains have been taken to make sure that not only are they fun games, but also that they define a setting to a degree that has not been matched anywhere else. Seriously... if you care about the strategic, tactical, and operational level of a big war in whatever rpg you want to run... most of the time you are going to have to do some serious hand waving. With Star Fleet Universe... you don't have to do that. Not that you have to play the games... but they are there for you if you want a level of setting detail that only a "real" war game can provide.

Apologies for writing a de facto rpg column here. Without Jean in Texas, we don't have a place to publish this sort of information, yet. Wink
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boneguard
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jeffr0 wrote:
Speaking as a game master... injecting real space combat into an ongoing campaign is a good way to instigate a pointless and unnecessary total party kill. While there are scads of space combat systems out there for all kinds of role playing systems... I'm not sure how often any of these are actually getting played in the context they are supposedly designed for.


I understand and fully agree with this...a few unlucky roll and you have a TPK as their PC's ship blows up.

I was initially considering using one of the other product (say SFB because I have some of those books) to 'role-play' some of the biggest battle in which the PCs would be (most of my firends are also miniaturiste or boardgame players) where the players would be in charge of a capital ship (or several smaller ones) fight it out and if the ships are destroyed the PCs would either be rescued later from escape pod or becasue POW -a nice roleplay opportunity there.

Form time ot time it would give a different change of paste for the players, and as you mention, give me as the GM a lot of background information for consistant decision and calls.
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Jeffr0
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah... if I had a group like that... I would run key battles as wargaming scenarios with the sorts of players that were into that... then have Olivette Roche cover the results as if they were a news event.... (Think Traveller TNS entries....) I already put together character skill point awards and significant game events in a one page write up between sessions so that everyone can keep up with things as it is-- I'd add the sensationalized battle reports and add them to these character/situation updates. (This allows players to get back up to speed whenever they have a stray moment in the session.)

This stuff goes on in the background... and maybe affects the overall trade movement, force positions, and distress calls in whatever region the players are. As this news gets more and more grim, you at some point introduce the patron from Star Fleet Command that has a special mission for the PC's.

Note that this is how Traveller was intended to be played back in the day for the brave referees that *really* enjoyed monster games like 5th Frontier War. (Also in my roleplaying CAR WARS campaign, any combat scenario we care to play, we have characters around that would be suitable for it... and we can always figure out a way to get some bonus story elements to add to and develop the overall story.) Finally... I'm pretty sure Gary Gygax intended even D&D to have a campaign and wargame element like this-- hence the rules for upper level characters establishing strongholds and clearing entire hexes of monsters...!
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Dal Downing
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The couple of times I wanted the characters to fight a combat I used Fed Com Fleet scale cards with the plays adding perks to their side. Things like extra damage repair. Bonus to one type of weapon and the ability to double battery reinforcement for no power cost. It works really well and I have my emergency evacuation plan planned out in case they lose the ship. Lately I have been drifting to a similar approach using Star Fleet Battle Forces cards game. It gets people thinking more when they play based on the cards they draw.
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Scoutdad
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only times ship-to-ship combat has come up in any of our RPG sessions, it was as an aside to the primary RPG action.

Once, we used Fed Comm and fleet scale ships to resolve the run-in over an enemy held, but lightly defended planet.
The ship dropped a shield, beamed in the specialist who were there to extract the info from the computer, and beam them out again. The run-in took all of two or three turns and was over very quickly. Durignt he RPG acution, the occasional nearby blast of energy weapons reminded the PCs that the ship was still about and still making runs to keep the pressure off them as it were.The PCs had a set time limit to "do the deed" planet side before they were beamed out, and then the somewhat damaged vessel fled with our intrepid heroes aboard... barely outdistancing the arriving reinforcements.

Time #2 was a group of PCs beaming aboard an enemy ship to rescue a captured dignitary. Again, the ship-to-ship combat was going on, but it wasn't the focus of the session.

I'm not sure how well one could work a ship combat session in as the prime focus of the PCs activities. Seems like not everyone would get a chance to participate equally. It's very hard to run a ship by committee... especially during combat.
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boneguard
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scoutdad wrote:
I'm not sure how well one could work a ship combat session in as the prime focus of the PCs activities. Seems like not everyone would get a chance to participate equally. It's very hard to run a ship by committee... especially during combat.


That is true, and I was considering -as much as possible- to use several ships -1 per player- this way everyone has something to do.

Here is one idea I had as an for exemple: A small fleet versus a station done with SFB (or another product), the station shield collapse, so the players and others beamed down on it to capture it (so RPG session) and then maybe another SFB session to hold off the counter-attack.

If they failed well they will probably end up being POW thus other RP possibility to escape.

THe SFB could also become an option if some players cannot make it for the session...we could do a wargame session tied in with the story.
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fed Comm fleet scale is probably your best bet, BUT....

RPGs are usually six-ten people and starships have crews that start at 400 and go up.

FC, SFB, or even Starmada are geared toward cruisers. Space combat between the kind of ships that RPG groups would use is at the extreme lower end of what those systems will do. A typical phaser-1 will do five or six points of damage, while a skiff may have about ten points of internal damage (and a phaser-1).
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aramis
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 25, 2011 8:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've done it; I took my cues from FASA Trek 1E's method... Worked pretty well. But I strnuously disagree with Jeffr0 on it being a bad idea. It's great fun, and very much a trek feel... tho it breaks the SFB feel. Still, my player group were mostly SFB grogs when I did it... the captain wasn't. And they had GREAT fun with it. Chris wasn't allowed within 4' of the table with the ships, and was disallowed from using rules terms, so the other, more SFB capable, players had to interpret his orders. More Details in the mashup thread.
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boneguard
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

aramis wrote:
I've done it; I took my cues from FASA Trek 1E's method... Worked pretty well. But I strnuously disagree with Jeffr0 on it being a bad idea. It's great fun, and very much a trek feel... tho it breaks the SFB feel. Still, my player group were mostly SFB grogs when I did it... the captain wasn't. And they had GREAT fun with it. Chris wasn't allowed within 4' of the table with the ships, and was disallowed from using rules terms, so the other, more SFB capable, players had to interpret his orders. More Details in the mashup thread.


Looking up at your other post, not exactly what I had in mind -since I was considering more of a: 1 player; 1 ship scenario. However it does give me an option where all player could take care of one ship.

Taking over the roles of the Command deck and go from there.

I'll look into it.
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ericphillips
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Cole wrote:
...RPGs are usually six-ten people and starships have crews that start at 400 and go up.


I would handle this in a GURPS kind of way: the characters are the bridge crew. The rest of the ship, no matter how large, are taking there cues from the bridge crew. You could handle it like a turn in GURPS 3rd Edition Generic Space Combat, each turn each bridge crew gets to roll against a skill and then applies a modifier to something in the combat. Each character can do one thing per turn. Tactics could be used to gain priority.

I could come up with a list but I don't have time. but an example would be allowing a character to use gunner to hep fire PHOTS. He rolls gunner, if he succeeds it is a +1 shift that turn.

I guess a good example of how to make it work would be to look at Legendary Officers in the SFB rules. Essentially, characters would be the legendary officers.

However, if you are trying to Battlestations it SVC is so right, the ships are way to big to use those tiles with. Somethng more abstract is needed. You might be able to adopt some of SFB's Module M for such a layout.

I mean, it is important that the charatcer's ship has an advantage over other ships. If you have an equal battle, basically it is a 50% chance your ship will be crippled or worse. That is not conducive for role playing.
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Steve Cole
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The fundametal issue here is that a ship is not a group of people. It's a vehicle, and it goes where the captain says it goes.

In a group of five people, or a brigade of five thousand people, if the commander says "go over there" then some will get ahead of the group, others will lag behind, still others will hide and not go at all, and some will get lost along the way.

On a starship (or a wet navy warship for the matter), the "bridge crew" are just functionaries. They do't make decisions, they just apply their skill to whtever the captain said to do. Gunners don't pick targets; they target what the captain wants killed. Really, RPG for a bridge crew has got to be the most boring form of gaming imaginable. You aren't playing the game at all, you're just a die rolling machine for the captain.

I'm just saying, that's how it is.
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ericphillips
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 5:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Cole wrote:
On a starship (or a wet navy warship for the matter), the "bridge crew" are just functionaries. They do't make decisions, they just apply their skill to whtever the captain said to do. Gunners don't pick targets; they target what the captain wants killed. Really, RPG for a bridge crew has got to be the most boring form of gaming imaginable. You aren't playing the game at all, you're just a die rolling machine for the captain.

I'm just saying, that's how it is.


But, this isn't real life. It is a game. If role-playing was like real life, I'd go play video games. Real life would be horrible to play. No RPG would exists if you had to fill out reports, and take orders from superiors without question (oh wait, that is Paranoia, and that is fun. The Computer says so).

Much like TV shows or movies you make certain unreal adjustments to make it fun. Even if one of us is the captain in my group, everyone gets to suggest ideas of what to do (its not real time so discussion is not going to waste time). Not real, but everyone gets to have fun.

Its like when we do big FC battles, splitting the sides among players. We decide together our plans, we don't have a force commander giving orders.

Besides, space combat in RPGs should be fast. I don't recommend playing it out in FC anyway... just figure out who one, who got hurt, and move on to the meat of the game.
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Jeffr0
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's a premise of the genre that the bridge crew are the "stars" of the show. They are the dudes the make the decisions; they are the dudes that beam down to planets. Whether they are marines or officers or whatever, the red shirt dudes are the first to die if there's any trouble. Hot babes from outer space appear on the bridge occasionally and steal people's brains, too.

Whatever is going on... it just so happens that the players are the ones that are in a position to save the day. In fact, things will go down the tubes until they do something about it.

SFB is a tactical combat game that is derived from some TV episodes. A lot of stuff had to be changed or generalized in order to make something that (a) made sense and (b) worked as a game. It is a thing of beauty, no doubt. It is, literally, a simulation of what you saw on the TV screen.

However... the TV screen just showed the special cases... the exceptional situations. There was always a trick, a bluff... a cutsey dramatic solution. Rpg space combat systems are almost uniformly horrible. However... some rpg systems are fully capable of modelling the unique, one-off nature of cutsey one-of-a-kind dramatic character-driven space battles you actually see in the source material.

Tempo is everything in an rpg. If players are engaged and seem to be suspending disbelief... the last thing I'd ever want to do is stop it to play some kind of war game. War games are fun and all... but we're talking rpg's here. It's pretend with rules. And when you're actually playing, the rules get ignored fast.

Your mileage my vary, every group is different, every GM ultimately brews his own style and approach... but this is my take.... (I'm probably repeating myself here... but it just occured to me that while SFB works out what the implied universe is from the old TOS shows... rpg's embrace everything that SFB was required to "fix.")
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Jean
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Please remember that ADB doesn't police your game table and whatever you choose to do there is fine. Smile

What SVC is saying is that for the characters, the starship is more like a horse -- it gets you from adventure to adventure (think how often the adventures in TOS take place on some planet). In most battles, if there is a fair fight, your characters stand an even chance of being in a damaged ship/destroyed ship and sitting around waiting for reassignment on various ships isn't going to be "fun." If it's an uneven fight, then you are either the blower upper (in which case the adventure continues) or the blown up (in which case you start chargen again).

If you want it realistic, then there are games to let you simulate that fairly quickly, but are a huge interruption in the flow. For the most part, I would guess that most GMs need the ship to do what is needed for the adventure to advance. I believe Traveller has ways to handle this and we'll be examining those.
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