Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Psi Wars: Spaceships: Revising the Revision

A tester is just a developer with a bad attitude;
instead of trying to make things work, he looks for
how he can make things break.
-Charles Granier

The moral here is: If you want to get all
the bugs out of a game, playtest the dumb strategies
-Steve Jackson, the Ogre Book.

So, that was a great playtest! I walked away quite satisfied with it, because it worked far better than the standard rules. Then, I got to thinking about missiles again. Weren't they a little complicated? And exactly how did engagement work? When exactly was it lost? And I only showed combat between fighters, and between fighters and a dreadnought? What about between dreadnoughts? And what about corvettes? Was I sure that my ideas were actually structurally sound after just one playtest?

I prefer to design robust systems where the tactics within the system can stand up to a "munchkin's eye." Most people complain about munchkins, and I do believe you can push so deep into mechanics that you lose sight of the narrative fluff that also drives an RPG, but I find them similar to testers: Able to show the flaws in your system. And sometimes, completely well-intentioned players will fall into the same traps. I want to look at the game from multiple angles and make sure it works the way I intend it to, especially given how far afield I've gone.

And so I raced down a mathematical rabbit-hole, as I often do. What will follow are a summary of my thoughts and my notes on what works and what doesn't. I go deep into math, because that's just how I roll (nothing more complicated than percentages and basic algebra. If you can follow most RPG math discussions, you'll be fine here), so if you're averse to that sort of thing, just wait a day, and I'll show you the next refinement of my ruleset.

All Torpedoes All the Time

So, our heroes had one torpedo each, hence why they waited to fire, because they couldn't take a second shot.  But what if they could?  What if it didn't matter?  What if they had a belly full of torpedoes (I believe they could reasonably have 3 each).  If they average about 100 damage a shot, 9 hits would deal 900 damage, which isn't enough to kill the Arc of Dominion, but it sure wouldn't be happy.  While torpedoes are far less destructive than RAW nuclear missiles, you could still send a couple of squadrons to obliterate a dreadnought.  That's hardly the way the game should be played.

And what about firing them from far away?  Why have the torpedo run if you can just shoot them from Short range?  A skill 14 character has an effective skill of (+9 SM -0 ECM +2 tactical array) 25 to hit.  So why wait?  The enemy has a chance to shoot down the torpedoes, that's true, but he'll have that chance at Close and Point-Blank too.  It only worked for Arrow Squardon because the Dreadnought happens to have no batteries on its rear, and they could hug.  And the shields would slow the missiles down, that's also true, but they only strip off about 14 points off the missiles damage, so they'll only slow them a bit.  Hit the dreadnought with 10 starhawks all firing torpedoes, and it dies pretty fast.  The same isn't true of lasers or missiles.

Speaking of missiles, what purpose do they serve?  Killing other fighters, of course... but are they actually better at that than torpedoes? A typhoon fighter with a skill 12 character at the helm has pilot skill 22. A light torpedo has a 23. It'll close in for sure. On the other hand, the torpedo (and any missile) is at -4 to target the Typhoon. It seems any torpedo or missile would do a pretty good job of killing a typhoon... so what's the point?

Torpedoes, even with all of my downgrades, are still just too damn good.

Missile vs Torpedo: Speed

I think I've made the mistake of seeing missiles and torpedoes as the same.  They are not. A real torpedo travels through water, and is thus slower than a missile.  A torpedo in a video game is a slow-moving, barely-guided bomb.  A missile, on the other hand, races swiftly, following maddening corkscrews, towards its target.  One is far faster than the other.

GURPS Spaceships already has rules for the difference: One is a "missile," and the other is a "super-missile."  A normal, 1 mile-per-second missile is at +0 to hit (though typically has +3 accuracy), and applies -0 to point defense rolls.  A super-missile is going fast enough to apply a -12 to point defense rolls... and a -12 to hit (but enjoys a +3 accuracy, three higher than a standard missile).  Faster missiles are harder to hit, but they offset some of that with a bonus to accuracy.

If we want to follow a similar parallel with the Missile/Torpedo split, a missile either enjoys a +3 to hit better than a torpedo, or it applies a -3 to point defense rolls, or some compromise in between.  We also have different sizes: 20 cm, 40 cm and 80 cm.  These each reflect a +2 jump in SM, so we could note that a medium missile is +2 to hit, and a heavy missile is +4 to hit.

I tried to introduce a "time to target" element with my "roll for closing," which I found a little overly complicated.  In fact, what I want is this: If I'm right on a target's tail, he should have a harder time evading the missile, or shooting it down, than if I shoot as soon I get a lock from across the battlefield.

Thus, to compensate for this, we can apply a bonus to point defense based on how far the shot was taken.  We already have range penalties: -4 for close, -8 for long.  We could apply those as bonuses!  +4 to shoot a missile fired at close, and +8 to shoot one fired at long. That's a bit high, though, so we could halve them: +2 for close, and +4 for short.  That gives us another reason to pull in close to a target for our torpedo run.

To keep missiles from being too easy to shoot down, though, we can give them a flat -4 to hit (meaning, all things equal, a ballistic attack from short it -0 to shoot down).  This is somewhat reasonable, a sort of a compromise on a collection of traits like speed, accuracy, range, size, range, whatever.  It gives us some nice numbers to play with.  If we bundle them all together in a "point defense penalty,"  a light missile might be -7 (-4, -3 from speed), and a heavy torpedo might be -0 (-4, -0 from speed, +4 from size), with a bonus depending on how close they are fired.

Missile vs Torpedo: Damage

The other problem with torpedoes is that they're a great equalizer: They basically ignore all DR (for all practical purposes) which removes most of your interesting tactical scenarios.  Our fighters don't actually need to get behind the dreadnought, because -60 or -30 damage doesn't actually matter that much when you deal 160 damage and you have a belly full of torpedoes.  Instead, we want to encourage characters to look for a weakpoint.  That is, a missile should be better when someone's DR is high, but a torpedo should be better when someone's DR is low (especially if you're hitting a weakpoint).  

If we run the numbers and look for a pattern, we find the following:
  • A Starhawk Laser deals ~14 damage and ~70 armor penetration
  • A Starhawk Missile deals ~20 damage and ~200 armor penetration
  • A Starhawk Torpedo should deal ~400 damage and ~200 armor penetration
Follow my logic: A torpedo is slower and less effective in general than a torpedo.  If it goes up against someone with loads of DR, then a missile should deal as much damage (and becomes superior thanks to its other advantages).  But if you face someone with low DR or you're attacking a weakpoint, then you should deal more damage than a missile.  It should have the absolute highest damage.  The numbers come to: About 20x the damage of a missile, but with an armor divisor of (0.5). This returns it closer to its nuclear roots, as a weapon that deals "loads of absolute damage," though far less than an actual nuke, of course.

However, personal opinion, I don't think Force Screens should be particularly effective at stopping them.  I want to encourage people to go beneath the screens, but I see no reason to make them punishingly effective.  Let's say that torpedoes do ~400 damage (20x that of a missile) but get the 0.5 armor divisor against hardened DR.  This also makes them terrifying against civilian vessels!

Missile vs Torpedo: Accuracy

So missiles are harder to shoot down than torpedoes, do less absolute damage, but are roughly as good against armor.  How are they for accuracy?  Are we better off shooting a fighter with a torpedo or a missile?  And what about lasers?  Are missiles way better or way worse, or do they roughly measure up?

Using the Starhawk as a standard, let's break out some numbers here:

Starhawk Laser:
  • Unique to Hit Modifiers: Range (-0 to -8), Fixed (+2). 
  • Easy skill assisted by Hotshot Pilot 
  • Damage: 14(5) or 70 penetration (42 vs hardened armor)
Starhawk Missile:
  • Unique to Hit modifiers: Tactical Array (+2), ECM (-0 to -6). 
  • Average skill. 
  • Unique Defense modifiers: Can be shot with point defense (-7 to -3, and +0 to +4), ECM (+0 to +3 to dodge) 
  • Damage: 20(10) or 200 penetration (100 vs hardened armor)
Starhawk Torpedo
  • Unique to Hit Modifiers: Tactical Array (+2), ECM (-0 to -6), 
  • Average skill 
  • Unique defense modifiers: Can be shot with point defense (-4 to -0, and +0 to +4), ECM (+0 to +3 to dodge). 
  • Damage: 400. (200 vs hardened armor).
At a glance, this looks alright.  But how do they compare in a moment-by-moment fight?  At any particular moment (say, close in during a dog fight) what weapon should you choose?

Between Rookies

Assume two pilots of skill 12.

Starhawk Laser
Assuming Skill 12 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 10 or less (12 -4 range +2 fixed). The enemy Starhawk will dodge on a 8 or less (6+2 handling), or ~25% of the time. The laser will connect 25% of the time.
  • It will deal an average of 14 damage/42 penetration 
  • Average damage per shot: 3.5 damage, 10.5 penetration 

Starhawk Missile
Assuming Skill 12 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 10 or less (12 +2 tactical -4 ECM). The other Starhawk will shoot it down with a 7 or less (12 +2 close, -7 point defense), or ~15% of the time, and will dodge on an 10 or less (6 +2 handling +2 ecm) (around 50% of the time). A missile will connect in this case 21% of the time if it is shot at, or 25% of the time if not shot at.
  • Average damage is 20 damage or 100 penetration. 
  • Average damage per shot: 4.2 or 21 penetration (5 and 25 if not shot at) 

Starhawk Torpedo
Assuming Skill 12 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 10 or less. The other Starhawk will shoot it down with a 10 or less (12, +2 close, -4 point defense), or 50% of the time, and will dodge on an 10 or less (50% of the time). A torpedo will connect about 12.5% of the time, or 25% of the time if not shot at.
  • Average damage is 400 or 200 penetration 
  • Average damage per shot is 50 or 25 penetration (100 and 50 if not shot at) 

Between Aces

Assume two characters of skill 18.
Starhawk Laser
Assuming Skill 18 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 16 or less (98%). The enemy Starhawk will dodge on a 12 or less, or ~74% of the time. The laser will connect 24% of the time.
  • Average damage per shot: 3.5 damage, 17.5 penetration (Neat that) 

Starhawk Missile
Assuming Skill 18 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 16 or less. The other Starhawk will shoot it down with a 13 or less, or ~85% of the time, and will dodge on an 14 or less (around 90% of the time). A missile will connect in this case 1.5% of the time (or 10% of the time if not shot at)
  • Average damage per shot: 0.3 damage and 1.5 penetration (or 2 and 10 if not shot at) 
Starhawk Torpedo
Assuming Skill 18 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 10 or less. The other Starhawk will shoot it down with a 16 or less, or 98% of the time, and will dodge on an 14 or less (90% of the time). A torpedo will connect about 0.2% of the time (or 10% of the time if not)
  • Average damage per shot is 0.8 or 0.4 penetration (or 40 damage of 20 penetration if not shot at)
Here's those values again, all together where you can see them:
  • Laser: ~3.5 and 10.5 damage
  • Missile: ~3.5 and 17.5 damage or 2.25 and 11.25 if shot at
  • Torpedo: ~70 and 35 damage or 25.4 and 12.7 if shot at
The torpedo definitely hits less, but only if it's shot at.  Otherwise, it's identical to the missile (which is hardly surprising), but it typically does more damage. This is because I've made a bit of a mistake, I think, but only applying the armor divisor against hardened armor: The intent of the torpedo was to have the same armor penetration as the missile, but the missile has an armor divisor of 5 vs hardened armor, which means that the values we have gives the torpedo twice the armor penetration that the missile has.  On the other hand, I've made torpedoes mass twice what a missile does, so you have half as much ordinance if you carry torpedoes. So that doesn't matter to me so much.  The missile should be focused on lighter targets, and on connecting.  But it's not any more accurate than a torpedo, and it doesn't even compare well with the laser.

Consider that a missile requires a harder skill than a laser, has a limited capacity, and can be shot down, while you effectively have infinite lasers (though lasers require power and missiles do not, which does make a difference), and once you get close in, they're pretty good, and Hotshot Pilot benefits lasers, so most characters who excel at piloting will excel at shooting people with lasers.

Missiles need an edge.  I toyed with quite a few options.  What I want, obviously, is a corkscrewing missile that whips around and slams into an opponent.  We want crazy tricks, or missiles coming around for a second pass, or what have you.  That's one reason I designed the "closing missile" system I had, because it could miss and come back over and over until it ran out of fuel (which is how the tactical system worked).  I tinkered with a "second attack" after a dodge or a miss, all sorts of options, but the simplest option may well be this: Just increase the accuracy, and allow deceptive attacks. I tinkered with a few values, but simply adding deceptive attacks already does a lot.  If we also give them +1 accuracy, then they look like this:
Assuming Skill 12 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 11 or less (12 +2 tactical -4 ECM +1 accuracy) that hits 63% of the time. The other Starhawk will shoot it down with a 7 or less (12 +2 close, -7 point defense), or ~15% of the time, and will dodge on an 10 or less (6 +2 handling +2 ecm) (around 50% of the time). A missile will connect in this case 27% of the time if it is shot at, or 32% of the time if not shot at.
  • Average damage per shot: 5.4 or 27 penetration (6,4 and 32 if not shot at) 
Assuming Skill 18 and Close range, a Starhawk will hit another Starhawk fighter with a 13 or less (18+2 tactical -4 ECM +1 tactical, -4 Deceptive attack) or 83% of the time. The other Starhawk will shoot it down with a 10 or less (if we apply deceptive attack to it), or ~50% of the time, and will dodge on a 12 or less (around 75% of the time). A missile will connect in this case 10% of the time (or 21% of the time if not shot at)
  • Average damage per shot: 2 damage and 10 penetration (or 4.2 and 21 if not shot at)

Let's see that three weapon spread again:
  • Laser: ~3.5 and 10.5 damage
  • Missile: ~5.3 and 26.5 damage or 3.7 and 18.5 if shot at
  • Torpedo: ~70 and 35 damage or 25.4 and 12.7 if shot at
+1 accuracy and daring deceptive attacks makes a missile very slightly superior to a laser even when point defense is possible, and definitely superior to a torpedo in the same circumstances.  It's close to a torpedo for armor penetration when nobody is shooting at it (but given that it's twice the weight, I think that will even out).  So, if your enemy can shoot back, lasers are probably safest, but missiles can work, but torpedos are a waste. If your enemy cannot shoot back, a missile or a torpedo is better, but a missile is very close in damage against someone with some serious armor and "costs" less, so is better there too unless you've found a weak spot, at which point the torpedo becomes superior.

Missile Type
Point Defense
Light Missile (20 cm)
Light Torpedo (20 cm)
Medium Missile (40 cm)
Medium Torpedo(40 cm)
Heavy Missile (80 cm)
Heavy Torpedo (80 cm)

Wait, what about ECM?

So, I liked the idea of ECM being primarily a defense against missiles.  I had two reasons for this approach.  First, I like the idea of laser fire being more visual.  You focus on your target in the center of your sights and then when it looks right, you fire.  Second, I like the idea of ECM representing things like flares and sudden jamming pulses, meant to throw tracking missiles off.  You see both of these things in the movies and in games.  Finally, it creates a scenario where different designs work better for different situations: ECM or turret fire beats missiles/torpedoes, while armor beats lasers (and torpedoes, to an extent).

The purpose of a tactical array is primarily to defeat ECM, at least in the original rules.  If your opponent had no ECM, a tactical array did nothing.  So I removed the slightly more complex tactical array rules in favor of a flat +2 accuracy for missiles, representing superior targeting, contrasted with the flat -2 for an ECM system.

But what about the Typhoon?  It has no missiles, so what purpose does its tactical array serve?  It's true that tactical arrays can jam communications, but I doubt a typhoon pilot will say "Yipee! I can jam communications!"  He'll complain about the added expense of gaining a bonus to missiles he can't fire.

And both Star Wars and space fighter video games feature targeting systems for blaster fire.  I rarely saw systems that defeated blaster fire, but they might jam your ability to use the targeting system and force you to fire by eye.  So how about this compromise: A tactical array provides a +2 to all weapons.  An ECM erodes your tactical array system for lasers by -1 per level, to a minimum of +0.

A Matter of Scale

The observant among you will note that I skipped a step in my previous simplified rules: Size Modifier.  Specifically, I replaced it with relative size, since we needed to check that anyway for the Relative Size rules.  Normally, two fighters would be at +4 or +5 to hit, but now we're +0.  On the other hand, with our speed, we should really be at Short (-8) and Long (-12), and we're at Close (-4) and Short (-8), so in effect everyone gets a free +4 to hit.  So that's fine.

But what about when two Dreadnoughts fight each other?  A dreadnought with skill 12 fires at another dreadnought at Close range: Relative Size +0, Range -4, so 8.  That's... alright, it's about what fighters have, but this means we need dreadnoughts swooping close to each other and that makes no sense.  In particular, even if we used the original distance of Short and Long in place of Close and Short, then Short is -8 and SM is +14 for a total of +7, meaning that a skill-12 gunner on a dreadnought has a 19 to hit a dreadnought!  Which, given the size of the dreadnought, makes sense.  We can reasonably attack from Long, at skill 15.  We can't do that in our simplified system.

So the answer is clear: Either restore the SM/Range (Short/Long), or use our "simplified ship-size" system, but always apply it: Dreadnoughts are always worth +9, Cap Ships +6, Corvettes +3, and Fighters +0.  This means that a skill 12 dreadnought shooting at another dreadnought from Close is at 17 or less, and from short on a 13 or less.


But what about corvettes?  I had noted before that a fighter's inability to go point blank with a corvette would hamper their ability to attack them, making corvette fighter-killers.  But is that so?  Let's take a look using a Tiger-Class frigate (SS3 page 18) called the Resilient.

The Resilient has three major batteries, one on each facing. the rear one with RoF 200 (so +8). Using our new speed rules and the fact that it has a hyperdrive, it's reactionless engines provide it with a total of 75gs, or +3 acceleration bonus.  It is a corvette, so +3 to hit, and suffers a -3 to hit a fighter (with a secondary or tertiary batter) or a -6 to hit them with its major batteries, which are all it has.

In a maneuver contest, the Resilient loses every time: a skill 12 fighter has a total of 22 for its acceleration, while a skill 12 pilot of the Resilient only has a 16: Far more maneuverable than an Empire-Class Dreadnought, but not nearly maneuverable enough to chase a fighter.  Thus, the fighter chooses the distance of encounter.  At Close, the Resilient, assuming skill 12, will hit a fighter with a 2, unless it attacks with its high RoF weapon, in which case it'll hit on a 10 or less.  If the fighter remains out at Short, the Resilient needs a 6 or less with its high RoF battery, and no chance of hitting with anything else.  Hmmm.

For the fighter, a starhawk's lasers won't penetrate the shields.  On the weaker parts of the armor, without shields, it'll score a few points of damage.  Missiles will barely penetrate the shields, and against a bare hull, will deal between 8 and 14 damage, which isn't too bad (the Resilient has 100 HP).  If it shoots a torpedo, the torpedo will deal an average of 80 damage to the hardest part of the armor, and 140 damage to the weakest part of the armor.  That's pretty substantial.  The Resilient has a good chance of shooting the torpedo down, of course (Skill 12 -4 point defense +2 close, and +8 from high RoF = 18), but this just means that the fighter has a hard time killing the corvette and the corvette find its impossible to kill the fighter.

It's all Relative

Relative Size imposes too heavy a penalty.  We went from a dreadnought posing a considerable risk to a fighter to one posing no risk at all, even if the fighter is point blank.  Consider that a skill-12 dreadnought gunner, who wants to shoot a fighter skating over his hull, has a skill of (+0 size, -9 relative size, +0 range, -2 hugging if using a secondary battery), 1 (for secondary batteries) or 3 (for tertiary batteries).  Now, I understand skill-12 is low, but I would expect better than "You cannot hit except in the most ideal conditions possible."  Even skill 18 would have only a 9 to hit with a tertiary battery, and a 7 with a secondary battery.  This problem also makes the Resilient an untenable opponent.  Ships larger than you are targets that are helpless to stop you.

What if we simply lower the penalty?  We want the Resilient to have no more than about a -3 penalty: That would give a skill-12 gunner a roll of 5 or less to hit a fighter, which isn't great, but it's more doable (a skill 14 would have a 7 or less, for example, and a skill 18 would have a respectable 11).  As for the dreadnought, half the penalty strikes me as enough: A -5 would mean that our skill 12 gunner would have between a 5 and a 7, which isn't great, but again he's low skill, and we don't want our ships to present too much threat.

So, that seems clear: halve the penalties for relative size.

Making Headway with Movement

So, we had a few problems that jumped out at me.  The first is that I've adjusted movement, but I don't want to redesign ships.  So what happens when you knock one of a dreadnought's engines out and it has a move of 12.5g?  The second problem is that I don't entirely understand how engagement is meant to work.

"Forward half-impulse."

Speed is the simpler problem: How does a ship "too slow" for the resolution of the space combat system maneuver?  Well, it doesn't, according to GURPS spaceships.  
Spacecraft with the reference acceleration or less can’t significantly alter course during
the fight – tactics will be dominated by gunnery and damage control, not maneuver.
Well, fair enough.  Most of our "slow" ships will be dreadnoughts and capital ships, which serve as gun-platforms, which our fighters will buzz.  But I find it conceivable that they'd want to maneuver against one another.  We could shift our encounter scale to Close 20-second, which means a ship with 12gs maneuver has +2 acceleration, and our fighters with 200gs of acceleration have a +20, but that means rewriting a few things, and I find that amount of acceleration just ridiculous.  It's bad enough as it is!

Instead, I propose this: A ship can have marginal acceleration.  If a ship has half the required acceleration for a +1 acceleration bonus may still not dodge, but it may participate in contests that require acceleration at -5.  A ship with a quarter of the required acceleration may do the same at -10.

I don't know if these will create "the right numbers," but by and large, it should at least allow such ships to attempt to move around a little.

Getting Engaged

Our system forces us to look more closely at engagement.  What does it mean?  In the standard system, it simply means that you remain close to your opponent turn to turn, but that any Evasive action automatically ends it.  This simplification serves that system well, but we want "stickier" ships.

So, if Ship A engages Ship B and Ship B engages Ship C, is Ship A engaged with Ship C?  I think I'll leave that as a value call to the GM, but I would argue that you could picture them daisy-chained: Ship B is between Ship A and C, rather than them forming a cluster of three.

What if ship A engages with ship B, and ship A then evades, what happens?  Ship A loses engagement and ship B is in the clear.

What if ship A engages and ship B also closes, and then ship A evades.  What happens?  Ship A must contest ship B to escape.

Think of engagement as a grip that you have on your opponent: If person A grapples person B, and then runs away, obviously he's lost his grip on person B (in this scenario, we can't drag people around).  If person A grapples person B and person B grapples person A, person A cannot simply relinquish is grip and escape.

Thus, you are engaged with someone, and you can give up your status of engaging with someone, and you do so automatically if you Evade or Escape, as well as giving up your advantaged status, but you must contest someone to force them to give up their "Engaged with you" status.

Final Thoughts

I think that covers it.  Naturally, we have more edge cases to think about.  What about tractor beams?  How will antiparticle weapons work in conditions with everyone so close?  Don't they have an advantage?  Will this work equally well for all ships?

I've designed this system around TL 11^ ships found in Spaceships, and my system, despite appearances, doesn't actually track that far from the generic Spaceships combat rules.  Mostly, it just adjusts missiles and then abstracts SM out a bit, because "An Empire-Class Dreadnought" is easier to remember than "An Empire-Class dreadnought is SM +14."  The rest are simply implementation details on existing optional rules.

Not everyone will agree with me, though, so we need to consider those people.  Boost Movement remains the same as it did before, and if you want to reverse engineer this back to standard SM and ranges, I would suggest you go with Standard 20-second (though you can definitely make the case for Close 20-second, despite fighters being ridiculous there), and that you apply half the Relative Size rules, you should be alright.

Wait!  What About Cool Stuff?

Oh!  Hmmm.  I suppose now would be a good time to look at some possible perks.  We've removed the clever missile rules from the last incarnation, but that doesn't mean we want to get rid of all possible options.  That begins to sound like Perks to me.  What are some perk ideas we could have:
  • Deceptive Attacks: Using the crazy, unpredictable motions of your missiles to make it hard to defend against you.
  • Reverse Missile: You can use your Electronics Operation (Warfare) to turn a missile you just dodged into an attack against an opponent engaged with you.
  • Feint: Using your laser fire to push you into the firing arc of the rest of your squadron, or into your own missiles.
  • Obviously we need some kind of equipment bond for ships.
  • We could intuitively know the state of our own ship, without getting out and checking for damage
  • Standard Operating procedures are always nice.  We could have a neat trick that lets your ship take off at an instant's notice. We could do another where your ship is always perfectly maintained.
  • Increasing your stability rating for dealing with crashes might be useful.  It'd make stunts less risky.
  • What about Cinematic Knockback as an optional rule?  We could have blasts that force people to make a piloting check when hit or go into an uncontrolled drift.  That might be better as a weapon option.
  • What about TV Action Violence as an optional rule?  Your ship gets hit and you skid out of control for awhile and your systems flicker dangerously, but then you're fine.
  • What about bundling all of this into a Trained by a Master (Pilot)?  True cinematic pilot heroes can do things nobody else can.

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