Thursday, January 12, 2017

Campaign Rules - Part Three: Vehicles and Ships

Abstract Vehicle and Ship Combat
The vehicle rules went through a significant change between first (SW1E) and second edition (SW2R) from being rather abstract to a little more concrete. SW1E assigned each ship and vehicle a "Speed Code" - basically a dice pool representing how fast they could possibly go. Conversely, SW2R changed this to "Space" and "Speed" scores in line with the movement rules for characters. While SW2R's vehicle movement rules certainly work from a mapboard and counter perspective, we won't always have the luxury of space for those elements in the shop. Overall, if we don't have the space for a mapboard and counters or if I should forget to bring them, we'll use the SW1E rules with SW2R's scaling rules.

It should be noted that the first edition Rules Companion introduced a system for abstract/cinematic capital ship combat. It was more on par with the "command and control" rules for FASA's Star Trek RPG. Should the heroes manage to somehow find themselves on the bridge of a capital ship during a battle, we might give them a try.

Traveling at the Speed of Plot
As I've noted before, we're dispensing with the old timeframes for hyperspace travel. The multipliers still apply, but we'll be using the hyperspace rules cribbed from FFG's Age of Rebellion RPG (AOR). Additionally, I've folded the sublight travel guidelines provided on p.116 of SW2R into the sublight guidelines provided in AOR.
Sublight Travel Times
Flying from a planet's orbit to a safe hyperspace jump distance: 5-15 minutes
Flying from a planet's surface to one of its moons: 30-90 minutes
Flying from one planet to another within the same star system: 2-12 hours*
Flying from the center of a star system to its furthest limits: 10-72 hours*
* - This time varies depending on the relative position of the planets in question and any stellar phenomena between them.

Hyperspace Travel Times
Within a sector: Ten to 24 hours
Within a region: Ten to 72 hours
Between regions: Three days to one week
Across the galaxy: One to three weeks
Tabletop Starship Combat
SW1E had rules for ship combat both in the RPG and in the form of Star Warriors. Unfortunately, Star Warriors was a bit hard to incorporate into the RPG as it used a different system. Still, it seems a pity to let those counters and the mapboard go to waste simply because of a difference in systems.

The prime difference between tabletop starship and character combat is going to be the fact that ship combat is hex-based and character combat is on a square grid. Star Warriors favored wargaming's hex grid over a square grid, which I find is much better. Unfortunately, all of my character combat maps are square grids. Oh well.

Firing arcs for starfighter-scale ships are shown per the Star Warriors rules at right (we'll cover capital ships in their own section below). A vessel can move a number of hexes forward equal to its Move score. Turning is very simple; a vessel must move at least one hex space forward (counting as one (1) point of its Move score) before turning one hex face (again, counting as one (1) point of its Move score). Some ships can “turn tighter” than others. A ship’s maneuverability is determined by the number of dice in its Maneuverability rating. For example, an A-wing (Maneuverability of 4D) is far more maneuverable than a TIE/ln fighter (Maneuverability of 2D), but is on almost even terms with a TIE interceptor (Maneuverability of 3D+2). The number of hex faces a ship can turn is based on this maneuverability as shown in the table below.

"Pushing The Envelope"
A pilot can push the limits of his fighter if things get rough, but there’s only so much stress a ship - and its pilot - can take. A tighter turn or more speed is limited by the ship’s Hull dice. For every die the ship has in its Hull rating, it may move one hex or turn one hex face beyond its standard ratings. The GM may require Starship Piloting rolls to see if the pilot maintains control of their ship or collides with any obstacles (including other ships).

Overaccelerating: A ship can be pushed beyond its maximum speed, but at the cost of maneuverability. For every extra hex the ship moves forward beyond its standard Move rating, it may turn one less hex face. Additionally, the ship takes 1D of damage against its Hull rating; deflector shields do not protect against this damage.

Tighter Turns: A ship may make a tighter turn than its Maneuverability rating allows, but stress is placed on both the pilot and the ship. For every extra hex face turned, the ship takes 1D of damage against its Hull rating; deflector shields do not protect against this damage. Keep in mind, this is in addition to the information provided above.

When either such a maneuver is made, the pilot and passengers take damage as per the passenger damage rules on pg. 112 of the SW2R rulebook. A ship may not make a tighter turn and overaccelerate in the same turn.

For example, a Y-wing pilot is trying to evade a pursuing TIE interceptor. The Y-wing has a Maneuverability of 2D and can turn a total of two hex faces, while the interceptor is twice as agile with a Maneuverability of 3D+2 and can turn three hex faces total. The pilot attempts a to turn tighter than normal, changing three (3) hex faces instead of the regular two (2). The GM rules that since it's in open space, there's no concern of hitting another ship or object, and so the difficulty is Easy (5). The pilot makes the roll, maintaining control, but he and his fighter take 1D damage per the SW2R rules.

Star Warriors did have some rules with regard to certain maneuvers (1/2 loops, slips, double-slips, etc), and I know the RSB also had some diagrams of dogfighting maneuvers and tactics. I don't have rules worked out for such things yet, but I'll post them here once I've got the notes together.

Capital Ships
Capital ships follow the same rules with regard to movement and pushing their limits as above. The only difference is that capital ships can rotate – turn without moving one hex face forward. A capital ship can change a number of hex faces in one turn as it has points in its Move score; most capital ships listed in the SW2R rulebook can rotate a full 360 degrees in one turn.

The diagrams from Star Warriors and the Rebel Alliance Sourcebook (RSB) below show how capital ships turn and how their firing arcs are arranged.


Those of you familiar with the RSB will note I left out the diagram of the dorsal/ventral firing arcs. That's because the arcs for the Imperial star destroyer are incorrect. The RSB diagram showed no firing arcs for the star destroyer's belly, essentially leaving the docking/launch bay vulnerable. However, when you watch the chase at the beginning of Episode IV, you can clearly see turbolaser blasts coming from the belly of the star destroyer.

Mixing Scales
With regard to battles involving both starfighter and capital-scale ships, figure that capital ships move twice as fast as starfighters. Nothing puts the fear of the Dark Side in a character (and his player) than having an Imperial star destroyer breathing down his neck as he tries to make a getaway in his X-wing fighter. Turning, however should be handled on a 2:1 ratio. For every two hex faces a fighter can turn in one game turn, a capital ship can turn one hex face.

Range and Line of Sight
Line of sight is determined by either eyeballing the situation or by using a ruler. Range is figured in hexes when in space. In an atmosphere, range is figured at a ratio of 1 hex = 100 meters for starfighter scale ships, and 1 hex = 2 km for capital scale vessels. Elevation is also factored into combat situations and its effects are determined by the GM.

Vehicle Movement and Maneuvering Using Miniatures
The movement rules in SW2R are pretty much in force here. The exception is if we're using a hex grid for a wider area. In that case, vehicles move and maneuver as shown above for starfighters.

That's pretty much the nuts and bolts of vehicles and ships in this game. My next entry will be on the energy field that binds everything together - namely, the Force.

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