Thursday, February 2, 2017

Patron Post: Rethinking Dreadnoughts

As I work and write, I often find that I need bits and pieces that don't really fit in the flow of my blogging.  None the less, these are often very broadly useful topics that I certainly return to again and again, and they do end up in my final material. Recently, I've also started a Patreon, at the request of some of my readers.  That seems like a natural place to put my "design notes," and today, I have the first set of design notes. All of this material make it into my final iteration 5 documentation (Available now to my $3-a-month patrons!), but if you want to see the material now, or see the thought process behind it, all $1+ Patrons will be able to see it right now on my Patreon.

A Matter of Command

The first issue that led to the creation of this post was the creation of the Officer and the need to have more nuanced command styles.  I expect many players who choose to play as the Officer will want, very much, to run their own capital ship or dreadnought.  And why not?  The image of an imperial officer in a snappy uniform standing aboard the bridge of his warship with his hands clasped behind his back crisply ordering the destruction of his enemies certainly appeals to a certain class of player (myself included!), and as the smuggler is to the corvette and the fighter ace to the starfighter, so is the officer to the dreadnought and capital ship.  Seems legit!

However, this poses several problems.  In a fighter, the character performs all actions.  On a corvette, a small team of players can get together to perform all actions. On a capital ship or a dreadnought, a huge crew gets together to perform all actions.  Moff Tarkin doesn't fire the main cannon of the Death Star, he just orders it and small armies of technicians leap into action.  We're also not dealing with Capital-Ship crews: We're not going to have an Engineer player and a Sensor Officer player and a Gunner player.  We're going to have a single Officer, aboard his ship, acting as support for his Fighter Ace and Commando allies, who are off doing Cool Action Things.

What I need here is a way of treating the capital ship and dreadnought as an extension of the ship.  For that purpose, I need to make Command tasks central to how the dreadnought fights.

The first part of the post looks into this, and then expands into 3 new "command styles":

  • Juggernaut Command which focuses mainly on Shiphandling and on using everything in your power to ruthlessly destroy your opponent.
  • Strategic Oversight which focuses on Tactics and Strategy and uses the dreadnought as a piece in a larger puzzle and using patience to defeat your foe when the time is exactly right
  • Heroic Leadership, which focuses on Leadership, keeping your crew and ship alive, and thriving under difficult circumstances.

And finally works them into a new Power-Up for officers called Master and Commander.

Overwhelming Odds

If you're going to deal with a dreadnought, you need to handle crews in the thousands and fighter escorts that number in three figures.  How can you possibly deal with that without diving into Mass Combat?  Well, I've already shown how to handle droves of minor "spear carrier" NPCs in an action fight.  Can't I do the same with starfighters and crews?  Yes, I can!

Thus, I get into the idea of wings and squadrons, and how to handle them.

Fully Armed and Operational

But is it fully tested?  I've done a lot of playtesting, but with more of an eye towards making the starfighter fun.  This time, I looked at how fun and playable a dreadnought is, and give a report on what popped out.

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