Thursday, March 31, 2016

Psi Wars: Spaceships -- Simplified Space Combat 1.2

Simplified Space Opera Combat 1.2

Turns are 20 seconds long.
There are four categories of ship worth paying attention to:
Fighter (+0) SM+4 to SM+6
Corvette (+3) SM +7 to SM +9
Capital (+6) SM +1o to SM +12
Dreadnought (+9) SM +13 or larger

Action During Combat

Use the Cockpit Multitasking rules (SS4 33).
Command applies to squadron leaders and applies to everyone in their formation. Ignore it for minor NPC formations or NPC warships that are commanded by non-named NPCs.  Motivate Crewman can be done with Leadership or Shiphandling, but the former applies to members under your command in a fighter squadron.
Engineering applies to fighters only if they have a robot in an engineering room. Ignore it for NPC ships
Navigation: Ignore it (unless you're jumping to Hyperspace)
Sensor Tasks: Ignore it.
Piloting: See Piloting below.
Gunnery: As normal.
Communications: Ignore it. It never costs anything to communicate, unless someone is jamming you.

Space Movement

Use the Airplane-Style dogfighting rules. Every 25gs of acceleration give +1 to your acceleration bonus. Ignore MPS unless you're worried about long-term endurance for some reason. Assume ships have enough fuel to keep accelerating throughout the battle.
If you lack sufficient thrust to gain an acceleration point, you may not dodge, and you may participate in any Contested roll that requires acceleration at a -5 to your Pilot skill if you have at least half the necessary thrust, and -10 if you have a quarter of the necessary thrust.
Neutral Range is Short (-8). Engaged range is Close (-4). Hugging range is Point-Blank (-0).
Fights begin at Neutral Range.


Close: Brings you into Close range with a target (Engagement is automatic). If you succeed in the contest by 10+, you may also become Advantaged or go straight into a collision (not hugging). If you are already Engaged and you succeed at the pilot contest, you may move closer (for a ram) or hugging (if at least two size categories larger than you), or you may become advantaged. All other rules apply as normal. Use Airplane-Style Dogfighting (SS4 p33): You may not close one someone who closed on you and is sufficiently advantaged that they have your rear facing them. If you choose to close with a target other than the one you closed with previously, you lose your engagement status with that target (unless they have previously Closed with you; That is, you can only be “engaged with” one opponent at a time, but multiple opponents can choose you as their single target to be “engaged wih” and remain close to you).
  • Dedicated: As normal
  • Ambush: As normal
  • Stunt: As per Action 2 p33: You may elect to make a second Pilot roll at a penalty of between -2 to -10. If you succeed, gain +1 to your closing roll per -2 you applied. If you fail, you go into an uncontrolled drift if you failed by less than your stability, or your engines you crash if you fail by more.

Evasive Action: If you engage in evasive action, you automatically give up any advantaged status and you can longer be engaged with any target (but other targets may remain engaged with you). If other targets are engaged with you, you must roll a contest of Pilot, similar to closing, but you get to double your acceleration bonus. Success breaks engagement with that target. Success is automatic if your opponent was in an Uncontrolled drift. Apply the +1 to dodge as normal.
  • Hiding: You may attempt to “hide” as part of an evasive move if you're in a nebula or an asteroid field or have a lucky break. As Action 2 p 32, except “Close” is -10, and “Short” is -5. Hiding is impossible at point-blank.
  • Stunt Evasion: As Stunt Escape Action 2 p34: Use a Lucky Break or Scenery to stunt (using the same rules as the Closing Stunt). If your opponent does not make an equivalent stunt, you Escape back to Short Range automatically.

Hold Course: Unchanged

Retreat: To retreat, you must have nobody Engaged with you. Otherwise, make the contest normally.
  • Stunt Escape: As Action 2 p34: Use a Lucky Break or Scenery to stunt (using the same rules as the Closing Stunt). If your opponent does not make an equivalent stunt, you Escape back to Short Range automatically.

Uncontrolled Drift: Unchanged.  You cannot maintain your own engaged status while in an Uncontrolled Drift (but others might remain engaged with you).

Advantaged Status: If you are Engaged, further successful Closed contests give you advantaged status. You may follow the standard rules for Advantage or, if you already face their rear, you may gain a cumulative +1 to hit with all shots, to a maximum of +4.

Engaged: When a ship becomes “Engaged”, it becomes engaged with a specific ship. Both sides may be “engaged” with one another. Engagement does not end until both sides have lost engagement, either by giving it up with an Evasive Action, or by forcing their opponent relinquish engagement with an Evasive Action. Thus, if ship A closes with Ship B, ship A is engaged with ship B. If ship A evades, engagement is lost. However, if ship A closes on ship B, and ship B closes on ship A, then both ships are engaged with each other. For ship A to escape, it needs to evade and to win at its evasion action. If a ship is engaged with a ship in formation, it is engaged to all ships within that formation. If the formation breaks, the ship must choose one ship to remain engaged with.

Weapons Fire

Simplified Beam Weapon Fire:
  • SM: +3 per size category, and -1.5 (round up) per size category smaller than you (for secondary or tertiary batteries) or -3 per size category (for spinal weapons, or major medium batteries from Corvette-class ships and larger). This does not apply to missiles. Use the point defense modifiers below.
  • Space Range: -8 for neutral, -4 for engaged, -0 for hugging.
  • ECM: +2 for targeting. This +2 bonus can be reduced by 1 to a maximum of 0 for each Defensive ECM system on the target.
  • Spinal or Fixed: +2
  • Target: -1 for streamlined front or rear. -5 for specific location. -10 for armor weakpoint or armor gap (against partially exposed systems).
  • Multitasking: As normal (use cockpit multitasking for fighters)
  • Point Defense: Apply the point defense penalty appropriate to the missile, and apply a bonus equal to half of the range penalty that the missile was fired at.
  • Rate of Fire: As normal

Point Defense: When making a point defense attack, note the range that the weapon was fired from. Apply half the associated range penalty as a bonus to point defense (A torpedo fired at Short range is +4 to hit, and a torpedo fires at Close range is +2 to hit). This reflects the fact that the additional travel time makes point defense easier to calculate.
All other rules are the same.

Missile fire
Make a single Artillery (Guided Missile) roll to attack with a missile or torpedo with the following modifiers
  • SM: +3 per size modifier difference
  • Accuracy: +1 if firing a missile, +0 if firing a torpedo.
  • ECM: -2 per defense ECM system possessed by enemy. +2 if you have a functioning Tactical Array.
  • Target: -1 for streamlined front or rear. -5 for specific location. -10 for armor weakpoint or armor gap (against partially exposed systems).
  • Multitasking: As normal (use cockpit multitasking for fighters)
  • Rate of Fire: As normal (Torpedoes always halve their ROF due to their heavier size)

Missile Type Cost Mass Point Defense Damage
Light Missile (20 cm) $125k 1/8 -7 6d(10)
Light Torpedo (20 cm) $200k 1/4 -4 6dx20
Medium Missile (40 cm) $2M 2 -5 6dx2(10)
Medium Torpedo(40 cm) $3M 4 -2 6dx40
Heavy Missile (80 cm) $30M 15 -3 6dx4(10)
Heavy Torpedo (80 cm) $40M 30 -0 6dx80

Use the normal rules, but apply the following optional rule for named NPCs and PCs: A collision cannot destroy your ship. Apply damage normally to the system struck, but at most, destroy it. Additional damage is lost. Furthermore, if damage would have been enough to destroy your ship, your engines are automatically disabled. You are in an uncontrolled drift.

Apply all normal rules, but apply ECM for missiles only.


Torpedoes: Torpedo damage is halved against hardened armor (treat them as having a 0.5 armor divisor against hardened DR).

Armor Gaps: Certain systems have armor gaps rather than armor weakpoints. Attacks to armor gaps require half the necessary damage to disable or destroy. Damage achieved via an armor gap cannot exceed the amount of damage necessary to destroy a system. Excess damage is lost. Systems with armor gaps include:
  • Defensive ECM
  • All Enhanced Arrays
  • Jet Engines
  • Ram Scoops
  • All Reaction and Reactionless Engines
  • Robot Arms
  • All Weapon Systems.

Action Aboard


Special Rules

Formation: As per the usual rules, but with the following additions: Advantaged status (and bonus to attack) apply to all ships in the same formation. Stunts performed by the squadron leader must be matched by the stunts of the other characters in formation, or they break formation. Use the sacrificial dodge rules on SS 4 p31. For simplicity, treat all massed fire against a formation as an attack against everyone in the formation and the GM may apply hits to whatever target he sees fit (favoring unnamed NPCs and Unlucky/Cursed characters first). If you are engaged with a ship in formation, you are engaged with all ships in formation. If the formation breaks up (or a ship leaves), all ships engaged in the formation may choose a ship to become engaged with automatically.
For other special rules, see Large Space Battles and Environmental Effects, both in SS 4.

Flesh Wound: The “Flesh Wound” rule can apply to ships! Spend a character point to reduce damage to your ship to 10% of your HP. That means that one system was disabled, but you suffered no further damage. Whew!

TV Action Violence: You can apply TV Action Violence if you take sufficient damage that your ship would be forced to take a survival check, or the damaged system put you in danger (life support, or a volatile system). Your ship loses one HT, you lose a turn as your systems blink and flicker, and you spend that turn in an uncontrolled drift, but otherwise you take no damage.

Designing Ships

We have a limited selection of ships available to us from the SS series, and we may need to expand that. Some design guidelines:
  • Hyperdrives: Hyperdrives cast a hyperspace shadow. This halves the acceleration a capital ship is capable of, and halves the reaction-based acceleration a corvette-class ship is capable of making. Hyperdrives on fighter-class vessels are too small to cast a shadow, but are also less efficient, and have 1/10th the speed/range as larger hyperdrives.
  • Reactionless Engines: Reactionless Engines are a function of interacting with your hyperspace shadow. Fighters cannot cast a hyperspace shadow, thus may not mount reactionless drives. Larger vessels may, but halve the speeds of all reactionless engines (and halve them again for capital-class ships, because hyperdrives halve their speed).
  • Force Screens: All force screens may be adjustable for free. Treat adjusting the force screens as an engineering action (possible without having an engine room, for fighters) that requires no roll.
  • Tactical Arrays: Remain useful for jamming transmissions, but they are less useful for ships without missile capability.
All ships can have armor (typically Light Alloy, Nanocomposite, or Diamondoid), cargo holds, contragravity lifters, control rooms, defensive ecm, Engine Rooms, Enhanced Arrays (often tactical), External Clamps, Force Screens, Fuel Tanks, Habitats (but never total: Ships carry supplies and need to make stops), Hangar Bays, Open Space, Passenger Seating, Super Fusion Power Plants, Super Fusion Torch engines, Super Reactionless, Engines, Star Drives (Hyperdrive), and Improved UV, Improved Plasma, Anti-particle, X-ray, Tractor and improved EM disruptors (SS 7 p19). For missiles, use those noted below.


Fighters should typically have between 150 and 250 Gs of acceleration from Super Fusion Torch engines. They need at least 450 mps of fuel, but don't bother to track more than this except for “long range” fighters, which are more of a setting/background concern. Fighters have shorter (1/10th) range with Hyperdrives, so they should be rare.
Fighters typically armor themselves with Nanocomposite or Diamondoid armor, hardened. A fighter typically deals 4d(5) damage with its lasers, so should not have more than about 35 DR or it will be invulnerable to other fighters. For ships with a single missile system: A light fighter with a missile bay can carry 3 light missiles or one light torpedo. A medium fighter can carry 7 light missiles or three medium torpedoes. A heavy fighter can carry 20 light missiles or 10 light torpedos. Don't worry about whether or not a ship can actually fire 20cm missiles: All fighters with Major batteries can load light missiles.
Fighters typically have between 1-3 defensive ECM systems.


Corvettes should typically have between 50 and 100 Gs of acceleration from Super Reactionless engines.
Corvettes typically armor themselves with Nanocomposite or Diamondoid armor, hardened. A Corvette typically deals 3dx5d(5) damage with its lasers, so should not have more than about 150 DR or it will be invulnerable to other Corvettes. Corvettes can mount Medium missiles and torpedoes in Major batteries, or Light missiles or Torpedoes in Secondary batteries. Numbers of missiles aren't important.
Corvettes typically have 0-1 defensive ECM systems.

Capital and Larger

Capital ships should typically have between 25 and 75 Gs of acceleration from Super Reactionless engines.
Capital ships typically armor themselves with Nanocomposite or Diamondoid armor, hardened. There's no upper limit to armor or damage from Capital class ships. A capital class ship can mount heavy torpedoes or missiles in a major battery (and Dreadnoughts can mount them in Medium batteries). A capital class ship can mount medium missiles and torpedos in a medium battery (a dreadnought can mount them in a secondary battery). A capital class ship can mount light missiles in a tertriary battery. Numbers of missiles aren't important.
Capital ships rarely have Defensive ECM systems.

Simplified Missile Table

Missile Type Cost Mass Damage
Light Missile (20 cm) $125k
Light Torpedo (20 cm) $200k
Medium Missile (40 cm) $2M
Medium Torpedo(40 cm) $3M
Heavy Missile (80 cm) $30M
Heavy Torpedo (80 cm) $40M

Character Concerns

We've got our combat system.  Let's compile all the traits we need to make it work.


  • Corvette Switchboard: You may use the Cockpit Multitasking rules while piloting a corvette, provided the GM agrees that such tasks are reasonably done from the cockpit.
    Duct Tape Savant: You may always attempt to jury-rig repairs to a starship during a 20-second turn, and you may ignore up to -2 points worth of penalties while doing so.
  • Equipment Bond (Ship)
  • Feel of the Ship: You can judge the state of a ship just by feeling how it flies.  You always know its state (its HP, what system is damaged and how) even if no computer system can tell you that information.  The GM may require you to roll Pilot(Starship) at some penalty to uncover truly unusual things, such as detecting the presence of a hyperspace tracer by the fact that the ship is just a touch heavier on one side.
  • Fishbed Flier: If the "Heavy" optional rule is in effect, you may ignore it.  SM +6 fighters, SM +9 corvettes, etc, do not get the -1 Handling when you fly them.
  • Intuitive Pilot: You may ignore the multi-task penalties for Pilot and Gunner(Beams), provided you are using Cockpit Multitasking.
  • Reacquire Target: If you have just dodged a missile, on your next turn, you may make a ballistic attack using Electronics Operation (EW) in place of Artillery (Guided Missile) on an opponent currently Engaged with you.  This attack doesn't use up one of your missiles (You're using the existing missile to attack your opponent).
  • Mark of the Ace: Whenever you defeat an enemy ship using Gunner (Beams), you may make a free Intimidation roll against all survivors.
  • Maverick: Increase your stability by 2 for the purposes of determining whether a failed Pilot roll resulted in a mere Uncontrolled Drift or a Crash.
  • Sidewinder: You may make deceptive attacks with your missiles.  Apply the same penalty to point defense attacks on your missile that you apply to dodge.
  • Soar like a Leaf: You may use the "Light" optional rule even if it isn't standard to your campaign. SM +4 fighters, SM+7 corvettes, etc, gain +1 handling.
  • Standard Operating Procedure: Calibrations: You always maintain your ship.  The GM never needs to ask if you did, or see you do so in game, nor can he penalize you for lack of maintenance unless you have been unable to access your ship for a long time (such as being in prison), and even then should be lenient ("Hey, those back-up power-convertors are still working!")
  • Standard Operating Procedure: Primed to Go: You always keep your ship primed and ready to move at an instant's notice.  Unless the GM has a very explicit reason for doing so (your ship has been heavily damaged, or the port authorities impounded it due to unpaid docking fees), you can always start your ship at an instant's notice.
  • Wing Commander: You may ignore the multi-task penalties for command tasks using Leadership and Tactics, provided you are using the Cockpit multitask rules.


  • Artillery (Guided Missile): All missiles and torpedos.
  • Electronics Operation:
    • Communication: Penetrating signal jamming
    • Electronic Warfare: Jamming communication, the Reacquire Target perk
    • Sensors: Detecting details (life signs, that a space station is no moon)
  • Engineer (Starship): For understanding how a starship works, or making sense of its plans.
  • Gunnery (Beams): All beam weapons
  • Leadership: Command tasks
  • Mechanic (Starship): All repair tasks associated with starships
  • Navigation (Hyperspace): To get your ship through hyperspace
  • Pilot (Starship): Piloting a starship
  • Shiphandling: For commanding vessels larger than a fighter.
  • Spacer: Repairing a ship, rescue, securing yourself during evasive maneuvers, general maintenance
  • Tactics: Command tasks
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