Saturday, April 12, 2014

Every Starship You'll Ever Need

This post is taking a break from The Only Sci Fi Cliches You'll Ever Need to present starships (I suppose you can use these ideas for other vehicles.)

There are three main missions for starships: scientific, economic, and offense/defense. Decide which operation is the primary mission, which is the secondary. Anything left over is tertiary. GMs feel free to stick other types of missions in there to suit your setting. A game of subterfuge may require stealth as a mission.

Choose your cliche to reflect the mission priority. For example a Long Range Battleship might be Primary= Offense Defense (O/D), Secondary= Science (Sci), and Tertiary= Economics (Econ). No need to list every tertiary mission. Ships add a die to their primary mission rolls and subtract a die from their tertiary mission rolls when rolling combat or SAC. Science involves using sensors, conducting research and launching probes. Economic involves making a buck, hauling people or cargo, for example. Offense/Defense means shooting at stuff till it blows up and avoiding the same.

When you're making up target numbers apply the following modifiers: Primary 0 to +5, Secondary +5 to +10, and Tertiary +15 to +20. There's some wiggle room there. the  Long Range Battle Ship might have the same priorities as a Ground Attack Cruiser. However the Long Range Battleship receives a +5 to its TN for hitting ground targets while the Ground Attack Cruiser receives a +5 to its TN for hitting ships in space.

Make sure your players know stuff like this if their characters read the ship manuals. As another example a freighter and a yacht may both have economic for a primary mission. However, they have somewhat different missions. The freighter hauls livestock while the yacht ships jaded VIPs around (okay a small difference.) Pushing the yacht into service to haul cargo can impose a +5 to any TNs for that mission. In extreme cases the GM might rule the ship does not have the proper supplies for a mission and halve its cliche. If the freighter wanted to haul a VIP gourmet along and didn't stock up on fine wines and cold cuts good luck. If the Long Range Battleship wasn't armed with dogfighting missiles it might be halved going up against a grunt squad of fighters. Add/subtract dice for the primary and tertiary missions before halving.

So a Dreadnought of Awesomeness (5) with O/D as its primary mission would roll 6 dice normally when obliterating stuff. Faced with a Huge Wave of Star Fighters (3) the GM rules that due to a lack of dogfighting missiles and small quick traverse cannons the dreadnought does not have the proper tools and has its cliche halved to (3) when fighting them. The Armored Battlecruiser (4) fighting alongside them is not as lucky and bears the full brunt of the dreadnought's 6 dice cliche.

Travel speeds are not directly addressed in this system. Either time doesn't matter (you can make a run or patrol easily or you're already late) or we're talking pushing the ship for some dramatic reason (rushing to the rescue, evading the patrol etc.) In this case look at the obstacles faced in the trip. If it's a straight plain vanilla straight run it's covered by economics (warships have lots of fueling stations and tankers to increase their range and long term speed, commercial ships have room for fuel and big engines.) A trip through a turbulent atmosphere or a dangerous field of debris would fall under O/D. A tricky FTL jump into a nebula or near a black hole would be science.

I have a love hate relationship with fighters and shuttles. Space fighters should be flash fried by larger ships for so many reasons (more and better fire control systems, longer range sensors, more techs to man the sensors and guns etc.) and honestly if a loan fighter stood even a 1% chance against a capital ship no one would build capital ships. They'd build a few hundred fighters.

But fighters are cool and this is Risus. I have the following suggestions:

A shuttle has one primary stat and anything else is considered tertiary. Its cliches run from 1 to 3. A shuttle with a primary mission of O/D is termed a fighter.

When you're resolving actions with ships and want to take crew into account (players are fond of this as their characters are usually the crew) do a team up. With fighters and shuttles the pilot is the team leader. He rolls dice for his appropriate cliche and then rolls the shuttle or fighter's cliche adding any sixes rolled. With large ships reverse the procedure. Roll the ship's cliche and then roll for the crew (a single cliche for crew quality is fine Drab, Grey, Efficient Drones (3), Rowdy Pirates [2] etc.) adding any sixes rolled.

If a large ship is firing at a fighter it may have its cliche halved if it doesn't have the right weaponry or cliche. If we're talking a grunt squad of fighters then the big ship rolls to hit normally. If we're talking a loan crazed fighter jock making a suicide run then the fighter must close for 1d6 rounds while under fire. It can't hurt the larger craft until the rolled number of rounds pass. After closing both craft roll their full cliche dice. The winner inflicts three damage on the loser.

Where any character's ships fit into this is up to the GM and how big he wants ships to run in his setting. A small free trader could be considered a shuttle for purposes of combat in which case larger craft will find it hard to blast or it could be considered a large ship and run a gauntlet of fighters but be blasted by warships almost immediately. The GM should decide just how big a fish they should be in advance.

Next we'll continue The Only Sci Fi Cliches You'll Ever Need Pt. 2