Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Ridiculously Huge Action Vehicular Playtest Part II - The Battle

This is part two of an epic playtest for my GURPS Action Vehicular System for Psi-Wars (though you can borrow it for anything Action-inspired).  See yesterday's post for additional context!



Turn 1

Status:

  • The Alliance Fleet and the Imperial Fleet are Remote from one another.

  • The Alliance Carrier (The Blind Justice) is undamaged.

  • Tobin is undamaged and 8 missiles

  • Starlet is undamaged and 8 missiles

  • Shiana is undamaged

  • Dun’s Lancer is undamaged

  • 5 Lancers remain

  • The Valorian Edict is undamaged

  • The Reign of Fire is undamaged

  • The Final Judgment is undamaged

  • Harkin Grave is undamaged

Dun Beltain rested in the crash harness in the nose section of the Lancer. He breathed slowly in the breather of his helmet, focusing on maintaining his calm focus. However, his thoughts continuously darted to the fact that he had never boarded a ship like this before, and that only a thin layer of carbide armor stood between himself and the void beyond.

Suddenly, the ship rocked. His armored fingers tightened in the harness and he turned to the ostentatiously armored Regular that sat beside him. The soldier pointed out the viewport. Blaster fire speared like crimson fire through the void. Imperial fighters zipped by so close, he felt like he could reach out and touch them.

“Imperial strike fighters.” His comms crackled.

Outside, in the void of space, Tobin’s hands tightened on his control yoke as his robot’s voice chirped in his comm system. Starlet’s voice repeated the same warning.

“I see them.” Tobin growled back, his eyes on his sensors which revealed a swarm imperial fighters racing towards the Lancers. “We need to fend them off. See if you can take out a few. We need to keep those Lancers alive!”

When it comes to handling large battles, I find it best to break it down into the pieces that matter.

First, at what range should we start? We could start at Remote, but that doesn’t matter. Obviously, the Lancers are going to Move towards the Final Judgment until they can board with it; being dead in the water, all it can do is shoot at them. Thus, they will eventually reach it. As no player character is in control of them, we won’t worry about their rolls (we would be rolling to roll; we can instead arbitrate). For Dun, there’s nothing he can do; he’s a sitting duck in his own ship. Thus, with nothing to do, he needs no mechanical focus. All Dun can do is wait in his ship until he boards. Were I genuinely running this game, I would not seriously threaten his Lancer. If any Lancer makes it, it will be his, so he can have the agency to decide his own fate. It’s dirty pool to say “Well, the NPCs flying your ship suck, so now you’re dead.” Thus, the pilot will make whatever rolls necessary to keep the ship alive, while the nameless NPCs in the attack craft will fail to do any serious, lasting harm to the ship.

However, for the sake of examining mechanics, let’s look at what the rolls might be. The Lancer has a Chase roll of +12, and a pilot typically has skill 12. The Final Judgment is Stopped, and thus provides a +5 to anyone chasing them. The result is that they’ll get the best possible result every time and can close 2 range bands per turn. If we go from Remote to Distant in one round, then Distant to Long in the next, and “Long” is collision range, given the Lancer’s move of 250. Therefore, it takes two turns to board the Final Judgment. Once there, the boarding equipment can cut through the side armor in 10 seconds, and so once they board, they really board.

More realistically, covering 100 miles would take Lancers about 10 minutes, which is sufficient time for the much faster Imperial fighters to get in range. Thus the real question is not “how long does it take the Lancers to reach the Final Judgment” but “How long until the Peltast’s can put torpedos on the lancer?”

This is the real meat of the fight: the Peltasts want to destroy the Lancers, the fighters need to stop them. We can take our “2 turns” number and say that the escorts must fend off the Peltasts for 2 turns. It’s several squadrons vs several squadrons, so we must again focus on just the player characters; instead of worrying about all the lancers and all the peltasts, we’ll worry about a few peltasts that are attacking a single lancer, the one our heroes have been assigned to protect. It won’t be Dun’s, because we want the real possibility of failure here, but it might be nice to give the people on it a sense of identity to give the players some urgency, but that falls beyond the scope of this playtest. Let’s say that a single squadron is attacking all five lancers, which means about 5 peltasts per lancer. If the players can fend off 5 peltasts, then they can protect “their” lancer; their success and failure will be a microcosm for their squadrons’ successes and failures.

Thus our real fight begins with the Peltasts, and we must determine our range for them. As is often the case in multi-chase fights, we’ll focus on the bit that matters to us, and in this bit, the Peltasts would start Beyond Visual, as a swarm of blips descending on the Lancers.

Tobin punched in some commands that shifted his wings in a back-swept position, then pushed the throttle as far forward as it would go and then thumbed the afterburners on. The pressure pushed him against his seat as he raced for the swarm of Peltasts that loomed in his screen. The other Valiants joined him, screaming forward, with the one exception of the dangerously beautiful Valkyrie that pressed ahead of them and opened fire on the Peltast swarm first. With a thump, two of his missiles launch, and he sees more missiles fired from the Valiants around him. As the Peltasts just become visible, fireballs bloom in view, and Tobin notes with some satisfaction that one of his has been hit and is careening out of control in a shower of sparks.

The dagger-shape of Shiana’s Valkyrie races ahead of them, lancing blaster fire at the distant Peltasts but her fire goes wide.

“Where’s Starlet?” Tobin mutters to himself, scanning the black skies.

Tobin, Starlet and Shiana make a Move and Attack. Tobin has a piloting of 18 and his Valiant has a Chase bonus of +17, giving him a 33 (35-2 because of Move and Attack). Starlet has a skill of 15 and the same Chase Bonus, giving her a 30. Shiana has a Piloting of 17 and her Valkyrie has a Chase bonus of +20, giving her a 35 (again, -2 from Move and Attack). The Peltasts have modest pilots with Skill 12, and they have a Chase Bonus of +18, giving them a total of 28. The Peltasts make a Move, as they’re trying to get into torpedo range with the Lancers.

Tobin rolls a 10. The Peltasts that he chases rolls an 11. Tobin wins by 6, which means he can close one range band to Distant. He fires his missile. Because he has Ace Pilot, he can gain Accuracy on a Move and Attack, and so fires a second missile. He’ll fire at two different targets (-3 for rapid strike). These are plasma burst missiles with +3 accuracy, +4 for burst, and -4 for Peltast ECM. They’re are SM +4 and they’re fast enough to apply a -6 to the attack, for a total of -2, or 14. He rolls twice and hits both times with a 5 (one shy of critical success!) and a 14. The Peltasts can dodge. Assuming Skill 12 and no combat reflexes, they have a dodge of 6 + 4 (handling) + 2 (ECM) -3 (Missiles) or 9 or less. One dodges with an 8. The other is hit.

Given that it’s a mook fighter, I wouldn’t even bother with its rolls, but for completeness, let’s check! A 160mm plasma burst missile deals 6d×15 damage. I rolled 16, so it’s 320 damage. The Peltast has 15 DR, dropping it to 305. It has 85 HP, which means its taken a bit more than 3× its HP in damage. According to our rules, this means that we’ve destroyed one system and the vehicle needs to roll HT to survive and if it survives, it must roll HT to remain functional. It has an HT of 10 and passes both rolls with a 10 and a 7. For the destroyed system, we roll a 16, which is “power systems.” The Peltast needs power to fire its weapons, but not its missiles or its engines, so in principle, if this was a “hero ship,” it would still be flying… barely. But it’s not, it’s a mook ship, so it’s dead.

Starlet rolls a 15 vs a 7. She actually loses the contest. She is unable to fire on the Peltasts. Perhaps she’s surprised?

Shiana rolls an 11 vs a 13. She succeeds by 24 vs their 15, which is almost a success by 10. She closes range to Distant and opens fire with her blasters (she has no missiles). She has skill 18, thanks to her Soul of the Machine, she has a target lock for +5, she cannot apply her accuracy (she’s not actually an Ace Pilot), her target is +4 SM, she has an ROF of 6 (+1) and the range penalty is -19. She needs a 9 or less to hit. She rolls an 11 and misses.

Dun hears the reports of the Lancers joining the fray with their corvette cannons, opening fire on the incoming Peltasts. Helpless and waiting, he grips his harness more tightly. With a glance outside of the porthole, he can see the swarm of approaching fighters in the distance as well as the streaks of blaster fire and the fireballs of explosions.

This is a classic three way chase. The Alliance fighters pursue the Imperial Strikecraft, and the Strikecraft pursue the Lancers. Again, I wouldn’t bother with this in the actual game, and would instead focus on the fighters, but we’re also here to see if things work, and players could be in Peltasts going after Lancers!

The Peltasts have a chase total of 28 or less. The Lancers, assuming a pilot skill of 12, the Lancers have a chase total of 24 or less. The Peltasts roll a 9 and succeed by 19, while the Lancers roll a 10 and succeed by 14. The Peltasts close to Distant.

The Lancers may fire back. They’re too big to easily hit fighters, thus suffer a -5 to attack. The fighters are at Distant (-19) and are SM +4. The Lancers are moving, so no accuracy bonus for the gunners, but they do have a target lock for +5. The total is -15, which means they cannot possibly hit.

Aboard his silvery Tempest-Class fighter, Harkin Grave adjusts his sensors as his craft rushes alongside the strikecraft. His sensors detect a familiar signature and his deep chuckle resonates within his dark flight helmet. He signals for the Javelins to break and give pursuit to the Valiants, to offer the Peltasts some cover.

Blaster fire erupts from the squadron as they rush down on the Valiants, who scatter before them. Harkin’s attention focuses on Starlet’s fighter as she struggles to evade. He acquires lock and fires, and then angles slightly and fires a second missile in anticipation of her dodge. Her Valiant agilely spin away from the missile after the tell-tale flash of light of a flare, and would have flown right into the second missile if she hadn’t suddenly extended her wings to slow, allowing it to overshoot. Harkin tilts his head.

“Uncanny.”

It’s never just one thing, is it? Obviously the Empire sent escort craft. Can they take down any of the Alliance fighters? Once again, let’s focus on the heroes and treat what happens to them as indicative of what happens to the rest of the Valiants.

Assuming a Javelin pilot has skill 12, their chase bonus of 20 gives them a skill of 32 (30 on a move and attack). A typical Valiant pilot, by the way, will have about a 29 or 30. Both sides roll a 7 (success by 23 for the Javelins), which means the Javelins can open fire on the Valiants in general. Tobin rolls an 11, which is success by 22, which means he has a Javelin attacking him; Starlet rolls a 9, which is success by 21, which means she has a Javelin attacking her; Shiana rolls a 12, which is success by 23, which means she barely has a Javelin pursuing her. Given that the fighters are in formation with the Peltasts, it’s fair to say that they’re all Distant without needing to close range.

The Javelins attack. With a skill of 12, targeting of +5, no accuracy, their targets are SM +5, and they have an ROF of 6 (+1). Their range penalty is -19. They need a 4 or less to hit. None do.

Harkin focuses on Starlet. He has a skill of 16 and his Tempest has a chase bonus of 22, giving him a 38 or less vs Starlet’s 32 or less. He rolls a 12 vs her 14, or success by 26 vs success by 18. He chooses to be Advantaged. He fires 2 missiles directly at her. With his skill of 18, her speed penalty of -7, her ECM penalty of -4, and his accuracy of 3, he needs a 10 or less to hit her. He rolls an 8, which is enough to hit with both missiles. Her ESM warns her and grants her a +2 to dodge, vs the -3 the missiles apply. She has a pilot skill of 15, combat reflexes and combat sense (on a 10 or less; she rolls a 6), and her handling is +3. She dodges on an 11 or less. She pops a flare and dodges both missiles with a 7. Whew!

“Battle is joined.” On the bridge of the Valorian Edict, Sub-Admiral Sin strokes his chin as he watches the flare of distant explosions.

He then turns to his sensor officers “Do we have a lock on their carrier?”

“Yes sir!” the man snaps a salute “We’re calculating a firing solution now.”

Again, not strictly necessary in this fight, I nonetheless want to see how well it handles capital-v-capital fights. One of the things I implemented was very remote bombardment, and the Imperator-Class Dreadnoughts have super-heavy turrets capable of remote combat. Let’s see what they can do to the carrier in the midst of all this. Of course, they have to take an Aim maneuver to have a hope of hitting.

Turn 2

Status:

  • The Alliance Fleet and the Imperial Fleet are Remote from one another.

  • The Alliance Carrier is undamaged.

  • Tobin is undamaged and has 6 missiles left

  • Starlet is undamaged and has 8 missiles left

  • Shiana is undamaged

  • Dun’s Lancer is undamaged

  • 5 Lancers remain

  • Our heroes must destroy 4 more Peltasts to avert the attack.

  • The Valorian Edict is undamaged and has Aimed at the Alliance Carrier

  • The Reign of Fire is undamaged and has Aimed at the Alliance Carrier

  • The Final Judgment is undamaged

  • Harkin Grave is undamaged and has 4 missiles left.

Tobin’s comms buzz with pilot chatter and his Tech-bot warns him with frantic warbles: Incoming Javelins. Blaster fire spears the darkness around him, but comes nowhere close.

“Stay on target.” He growls back into his comms. “Those Peltasts will destroy the Lancers if we’re not careful!”

Then Starlet’s voice chills her. “He’s here, Tobin, and he’s on my tail.”

Tobin shoots a glance out of his canopy in her direction, and sees the flash of the silvery fighter. Dammit. He grits his teeth, glacing between the Lancers racing towards the Final Judgment and the Silver Reaper, Harkin Grave, pulling closer and closer towards a frantically evading Starlet.

“You have to hold him off just a little longer, Starlet. Just a little longer.”

Tobin pulls his wings forward for greater agility and dives towards the Peltast-class strike fighters through the rain of blaster fire. With a flick of his wings, he suddenly dives out of the path of the Javelin pursuing him, who overshoots at far too high a speed and is forced to make a long, agonizingly slow turn to return.

The Javelins pursue the Valiants who pursue the Peltasts who pursue the Lancers.

The Javelins have their chase total of 32, vs Tobin’s 35, Starlet’s 32 and Lady Grimshaw’s 37. The Javelins roll a paltry 16 (success by 16) vs Tobin’s 13 (success by 25), Starlet’s 13 (success by 19) and Shiana’s 8 (success by 29). Tobin and Shiana pull out of range of their respective fighters.

Harkin has a 38 vs Starlet’s 32. He rolls a 10 (28) and she rolls a 12 (20). He succeeds and pulls to Extreme and opens fire. She’s at -16 range, he has accuracy as an Ace Pilot (+9), RoF 6 (+1), he has a target lock on her (+5) and she’s SM +5. With his skill of 18, he needs a 23 or less to hit. He rolls an 8, which means he hits with a margin of 15, which is enough to hit with all 6 shots.

Starlet succeeds at her Combat Sense roll of 10 or less, giving her a total defense of 11. She shifts to “Wings Forward” for extra agility, getting a 12 or less. She rolls a 10, which means she dodges 3 of the 6 shots. Assuming a standard roll of 100 damage per shot, her force screen can take the first two hits, and the last hit strikes her craft for Moderate damage. He rolls a 14, which is Cargo/Hangar Bay with no cascade. She technically has a cargo compartment, but it’s fundamentally part of her cockpit, so we can either declare no disabled system or roll again. We roll a 7, which is “equipment,” disabling one of her comms, ultrascanner or force screen. We choose force screen.

Harkin’s attention focuses on the defensive Starlet. Her wings shift forward, slowing her speed but granting her greater agility. Harkin presses the throttle closer and makes a quick pass, blaster fire raking across her force screens. She managed to slip past half of his fire, but a lucky shot burst through her screens and left an important part of her ship glowing red hot.

“Her force screens are down,” he mused, checking his scanners to be sure.

The Peltasts have their chase total of 30, vs Tobin’s 35 and Lady Grimshaw’s 37. The Peltats roll a nice 9 (success by 21) vs Tobin’s 8 (success by 27) and Shiana’s 10 (success by 27). Tobin and Shiana still have the Peltast’s in their sights and can close to Extreme.

Tobin opens fire on two Peltasts (Rapid Strike -3), spreading his ROF of 12 (+2) between the two of them (6 shots each). They’re Extreme (-15), he has targeting systems (+5), they’re SM +4, and he has skill 16 and he has his accuracy bonus of +9. He needs a 17 or less to hit. He rolls a 13 and a 12, hitting with 3 and 4 shots respectively. The two Peltasts have a dodge of 10; both fail with a 14 and an 11. Assuming the average of 100 damage, each is hit for crippling wound per attack (100 damage -3 DR after armor divisors vs 85 HP). If we use the simplified accumulated wounds, then the first must roll HT-3 (7 or less) while the second must roll HT-4 (6 or less) or suffer a Mortal wound. The simpler way to handle this is to declare both dead, which seems fair, as they’re mooks.

Lady Grimshaw opens fire on one Peltast, with ROF of 6 (+1). They’re Extreme (-15), she has targeting systems (+5), they’re SM +4, and he has skill 18. She needs a 13 or less. She rolls a 9 and hits with 3 of her 6 shots; the Peltast fails to dodge with an 11. Her results will be similar to Tobin’s: another dead Peltast.

Tobin lets his frustration loose on the Peltasts before him, which loom closer and closer to the Lancers even as the Valiant’s whittle their numbers down. He opens fire first on one and then another, his gatling blaster whirring beneath him as it rips through one and then another, while Lady Grimshaw’s slim fighter destroys a third and blasts through the wreckage.

Only a handful of Peltasts remain, and Tobin’s eyes widen as he sees one racing past the rest, straight for the Lancers.

The Peltasts have a chase total of 30 or less. The Lancers, assuming a pilot skill of 12, the Lancers have a chase total of 24 or less. The Peltasts roll an 11 and succeed by 19, while the Lancers roll a 12 and succeed by 12. The Peltasts close to Extreme. This is close enough to launch torpedoes!

Torpedoes use Gunnery rules rather than Missile rules. They’re at Extreme (-15) range, their target is SM +9, they have a +5 from targeting, and each has only 1 torpedo. We said that if our heroes defeated 5, the attack would be defeated, but they only defeated 4, so let’s handle one Peltast per turn until the heroes defeat the last one. We can treat that as a total, mass fire of RoF 5, or +1 to hit. Assuming skill 12, that’s a 12 or less. They roll a 6, which is enough to hit. The Lancers can dodge, and because Torpedoes are slow at this range, they gain a +1. Lancers have +0 handling and skill 12, so we’re looking at a dodge of 7, which they fail with a 10. The Isomeric Torpedo does an average of 10,000 damage, which is enough to instantly destroy a lancer.

The Lancers may fire back. They’re too big to easily hit fighters, thus suffer a -5 to attack. The fighters are at Distant (-19) and are SM +4. The Lancers are moving, so no accuracy bonus for the gunners, but they do have a target lock for +5. The total is -15, which means they cannot possibly hit.

Dun’s visor instantly reacts to bright, nuclear flash of a Lancer’s obliteration, darkening to protect his eyes. How many people just died in that flash? The wreckage of the vehicle slowly spreads outward in a cloud of debris and spinning fragments. Suddenly, the Lancer begins to rock. Dun glances at the Regular, who shakes his head.

“Not a blast wave. We’re close to our target. That’s flak fire we’re taking.”

The sky explodes with the brilliant fire of capital ships that rock the Lancers, and two suddenly cease communication, going dead and floating in absolute silence. Dun’s Lancer’s force screens flare brilliantly a direct hit, and then die, and the ship itself rocks with another powerful hit from the blasters of the Imperial Dreadnoughts, but it remains intact.

“Sturdy thing.” Dun mutters as he pats the hull.

The Lancers are close enough to the Capital Ships to start taking fire. We can assume they’re at Long range and will hit their target next turn. They can also open fire themselves, and as they are the “pursuers,” they get to go first.

They have spinal-mounted heavy EM disruptor cannons. Their target, the Final Judgment, is SM +13, their targeting system gives them a +5, their range penalty is -11, and the pilot’s skill is 12. They don’t benefit from Accuracy as they’re Moving and Attacking. They will hit on a 19 or less. All 4 fire (treat it as ROF 4, so +0). They roll an 8 so easily hit with all four shots. These “deal” 1500 damage each, which would each be a minor wound to the Executioner. However, it has 7500 DR in force screens first, so it soaks all four hits from the disruptor cannons. Shame.

The Capital ships open fire; the Flak cannons lack the damage to penetrate the armor of the Lancers, so we’ll ignore them for now. The Executioner has only Super-Heavy cannons aimed at the Alliance Carrier, so they don’t fire. The two Imperator-class Dreadnoughts, however, each have 10 capital-scale turrets with two cannons each. Altogether, that’s an ROF of 40! They fire at the Lancers (SM +9) which are at Long range (-11) with their highly accurate weapons (+9; this is an Attack; they don’t get an additional +4 because they weren’t Precision Aiming at the Lancers last turn), and an effective ROF of 20 for each ship (+4); the Reign of Fire will split their RoF up into 10 on each ship (-6 for multiple targets, +2 per ship for RoF), while Yamato focuses fire on a single target (+4). The Lancers are Corvettes (Albeit as big as a corvette can reasonably get) so the capital ships suffer an additional -5. Sub-Admiral Yamato Sin makes a Command and Coordination action, which allows him to replace his gunner’s skill with the lower of his Leadership or Gunnery, and this improves their Gunnery to 15. The Reign of Fire has only skill 12. Therefore the Valorian Edict has as a 21 or less, while the Reign of Fire has a 10 or less. The Valorian Edict rolls a 7, which means they succeed by 14, which is 8 hits on a single Lancer. The Reign of Fire hits with a 7 and misses with an 11. The 7 will hit with 2 shots.

The Lancers have a skill of 12, so dodge with a 6 or less. Both fail. The one hit by the Reign of Fire needs to survive two shots that deal an average 1500 damage each. Its has 1000 DR force screens, which absorb all but 500 of the first shot, and has a DR of 2500 on the front. This means it takes no damage from the first shot. The second shot deals 1000 damage, which is a crippling wound. All “Equipment” (Force screens, radar, comms, etc) are destroyed and the ship rolls HT to see if it can remain operation and succeeds with an 11. The one hit by the Valorian Edict needs to survive 8 hits. The screen and armor absorb the first one and the all the rest hit it for Crippling wounds, which accumulate. Its weaponry is destroyed, but it remains operational with a 10. Then we need to check to see if the wounds accumulate with an HT-8 roll. We fail with a 7, and rise to Mortal wounded level, which destroys another system (Power this time, which leaves it effectively dead in the water) and dies in a brilliant flash, failing it survival roll (barely) with a 13.

The Sub-Admiral’s eyes turn from the Lancers approaching the Executioner: three out of five remain, which speaks the quality of the Lancer escorts and the weakness of the Reign of Fire’s command. He makes a mental note to file that in his report to the Grand Admiral.

His tactical officer pips up. “We have a firing solution.”

The Sub-Admiral flicks his finger. “Transmit it to the other two vessels. Upon acknowledgment, you may fire when ready.”

The Dreadnoughts collectively have 16 super-heavy turrets capable of hitting the Alliance Carrier from this distance for a total ROF of 48! They’re attacking an SM +13 craft at Remote (-27) range. They have their targeting systems (+5) and their Accuracy of 9, plus they Precision Aimed. Their ROF of 48 grants a +5. They’ll fire together and use their skill of 12, giving them a total of 17 or less to hit. They roll an 11, success by 6, which means they hit with 4 shots.

The Alliance Carrier can dodge with a 5 or less and fails, of course. Each shot deals an average of 2500 damage. The Carrier has force screens with DR 10,000, which means it manages to successfully absorb all 4 shots. If one had hit, it would have dealt 2000 damage, which is a Minor wound: enough to rock the ship, but not enough to destroy it. They need to be closer, or more accurate, to really make an impact on the ship, and given enough time, they would. The Final Judgment's main cannon would make a major difference, were it operational.

Tobin watches the Lancers fighting their way through the flak fire of the capital ships, and then watches the explosive fire of the primary batteries arc towards the Alliance Carrier.

“Damn!” He burst, “They’re in range!”

Turn 3

Status:

  • The Alliance Fleet and the Imperial Fleet are Remote from one another.

  • The Alliance Carrier is undamaged.

  • Tobin is undamaged and has 6 missiles left

  • Starlet is has moderate damage and has lost her force screen; she 8 missiles left

  • Shiana is undamaged.

  • Dun’s Lancer is cripplingly damaged, but remains operational despite its lack of electronics.

  • 3 Lancers remain; they are in range of the Final Judgment this turn.

  • Our heroes must destroy 1 more Peltast to avert the attack.

  • The Valorian Edict is undamaged

  • The Reign of Fire is undamaged

  • The Final Judgment is undamaged

  • Harkin Grave is undamaged and has 4 missiles left.

The Lancer stops with a creaking thud, jostling all of the soldiers and Dun in their harnesses. A second later, a hum and a metallic thud resonate throughout the whole of the ship. The Regulars begin to unbuckle their harnesses as quickly as they can.

“We’re attached.”

A few moments later, Dun finds himself standing in an enormous air-lock large enough to hit him and a full squad of regulars. Before him, the buzz of a force lock obscures the armor of the ship that flares and sparks as plasma torches carve through the armor of the Final Judgment. Dun breathes heavily into his rebreather as tension mounts in the group. They adjust their weapons, and Dun flexes his fingers around his force sword. Suddenly, the armor falls forward, into the ship, and the force lock drops with a hiss as the pressure between the two ships equalize. Dun cannot afford to stand around marveling at the uniqueness. He races forward, blindly, into the darkness of the crippled imperial ship.

Blaster fire and his own visor provide him with what light he needs to see. Blaster fire arcs off of his force buckler as he continues to bullrush into the ship and slams his shield against the first imperial trooper he encounters, bouncing the poor soul off of a bulkhead. His psychic senses scream at him of impending attacks, and the world seems to slow around him as he bats away more blaster fire with his force sword. His eyes narrow and focus and his blade slashes through one, two, three soldiers.

Alliance Regulars, hiding in the lee of his assault, pour into the ship, their long blaster rifles laying down fire as they enter, and one, armed with a staff-like plasma pike, roasts the enemy with concentrated sunfire.

“Breach secure.” Dun finally pants into his comm system. He hears acknowledgments from the other Lancer crews, and one adds:

“Good to hear from you, Sir Beltain. We feared the worst when your comms went dead.”

Boarding the ship simply requires a control roll to hit the other this, like ramming, and then the time necessary to cut through the armor, which is ten seconds in this case. Given that the Final Judgement cannot move, we can simply move forward to the next piece. If we had wanted to role, it would have been a 12 vs a 6, which would have averaged Advantage, which means the Lancers could afford to reach the less armored parts of the ship.

In principle, we could handle this as an actual battle scene. We have a good minute of combat, which is plenty of time for a dramatic bit of combat. I’m not going to bother, though, because our focus is on the chase scene; we don’t need to playtest the combat rules here.

It will take 2 turns to move from the breach to the bridge to properly seize control.

Sub-Admiral Yamato Sin’s gloves creak as his fist tightens at the incompetence of the Reign of Fire’s gunnery crew and their failure to destroy anything at all. The Final Judgment was lost, it was only a matter of time.

Suddenly, a hologram sprung to life behind the Sub-Admiral, bearing an unwelcome and arrogant visage. “Sub-Admiral Sin.” The voice crackled “These were not your orders.”

Sin turned his chair to face the hologram. Admiral Talian Rand’s long cape disappeared off the hologram, and his chest gleamed with medals. The Sub-Admiral replied “We risk the Alliance capturing one of my… our Execution-Class Cruisers, complete with some of the new modifications.”

“I need you to reinforce Cabala Scan, Sub-Admiral.” His voice hissed. “Make your jump. The Final Judgment will need to fend for itself. If you want to prevent it from falling into enemy hands, then destroy it.”

Admiral Rand’s hologram flickered out. The Sub-Admiral’s eyes narrowed over his interlaced fingers. He hated the idea of bloodying his hands with imperial casualties and noted, internally, that he’d made a political mistake: either he leaves the Final Judgment behind, which Rand could then blame him for, or Sin destroyed the Final Judgment, which opened him up to accusations of friendly fire from Rand. If he was to be damned either way, better to save imperial lives than take them.

“19, should we kill it?” He asks, leaning forward in his command seat.

She shrugged and whispered. “Its capture makes no difference.”

“So be it.” He had no stomach for killing imperials.

He taps the comm on the arm rest of his chair, “Gunnery crews, cease fire on the Lancers. Maintain fire on the Alliance Carrier and prepare to advance. Engineering crews, begin preparation for a hyperspace jump to the Cabala Scan system.” Then he swiveled his chair to the holoprojector behind him. Harkin Grave’s silver-faced piloting helmet bloomed in the flickering blue of the hologram.

“Orders?”

“We’re leaving. You have five minutes to finish up and then you need to be back in the Valorian Edict. They’ll be bringing in their strike craft, hoping to take one of our dreadnoughts out. I’ll be coordinating our response. Focus all fire on the Alliance Raptor squadrons.”

“Acknowledged.” Grave’s voice had a tinge of regret, the sound of a cat giving up on its mouse.

Yamato leaned close to the holographic display which showed his collection of capital ships circled by a cloud of red and blue dots, his own fighters and the enemy. He steepled his fingers, pondering his next move. There may yet be a way to deal some damage to the Alliance in the last, precious few moments he had here.

I don’t want this fight running for too long, so we need an excuse to wrap this up. If we can capture the Final Judgment, that strikes me as enough of a finale, but I’d still like to see what some bombers can do to a dreadnought, hence why we have the Reign of Fire. But whether we kill them or not, we now have a time limit of 5 additional turns and then we can wrap this up.

Yamato Sin will focus on Tactical Coordination. The Raptor squadron has no PCs in it, so we won’t worry about their tactics skill, but if it mattered, we could roll a Contest of Tactics, with Yamato gaining a +4 from “19’s” Prognostication. He has an effective Tactics of 22, and so handily succeeds. This grants his attack squadrons a +2 to hit the Raptors.

Tobin let out a breath when the remaining three Lancers board the Final Judgment.

“Raptor Squadron Alpha, focus fire on those Imperial Dreadnoughts. We have to keep them off of our carrier.”

Shiana’s voice came on the comm. “My squadron will guard their approach, Mr. Starlaw. You may attend to your friend.” She articulated.

“Thanks,” he sighed, relieved. He turned his fighter towards his old nemesis, swung his wings to their high speed position, and launched forward.

How far are the Raptors from the Dreadnoughts? I think it’s fair to say “Distant.” They can see them, but they need to move a bit to hit them. They’re NPCs so their actions are back-drops We’re mostly worried about how well the PCs protect them. But for the sake of playtesting, we can roll for their collective chase roll against the dreadnoughts.

Assuming a skill 12 Raptor pilot, with his afterburners, has a chase bonus of +16 for a total of 28. The Reign of Fire has skill 12 with a +5 to their total chase rolls, for a total of 17. The Raptors roll a completely unnecessary 4 and thus critically succeed while the Reign of Fire rolled a 10. It doesn’t matter: the Raptors get Victory by 10+, and thus are able to be Advantaged and close range by one degree to Extreme, which is not unexpected and a good firing range for torpedoes.

Meanwhile, we expect the imperial Javelins to make their run on the Raptors, once again giving us a three-way chase. The Javelins have a skill 12 and a total chase roll of +20, giving them a 32, and they roll an 11 vs the Raptor’s 10, so they have a margin of 3. The Javelins cannot close or be advantaged, but they can certainly attack.

None of this actually matters, though. What really matters is how well Shiana can fend off the Javelins, because she’s our focus not the overall fight, but it does give us a sense of how this might play out.

The Raptor squadrons scream towards the Reign of Fire, and explosions of flak begin to bloom in the void, rocking the fighters with shockwaves. Shiana listens to the chatter through her mental link with her Valkyrie, as though someone spoke to her directly.

“Stay on target.”

“Force screens holding.”

“They’re all over me!”

Her eyes snapped open and she out cockpit: lancing fire from dozens of Javelins speared through the night. Her eyes narrowed and she broke from her squadron without a word, bearing down on the Javelins in an attempt to divert as many as possible.

Her sliver of a fighter slices through the darkness of the void, but despite her skills, talents and close connection to her nimble vehicle, the cloud of fighters dodges and evades, like a school of silvery fish. Her blasters flash again and again, and maneuver by maneuver, she manages to fight her way closer to one when, suddenly, everything lines up, and she focuses all of her firepower on the single target, who slips and dodges and spins, but one shot manages to land, ripping its engine apart. Its spirals away and then explodes satisfyingly.

But three more seem to take its place, firing on the Raptors.

There are many Javelins. I would expect she needs to defeat at least three to make a reasonable dent in the attackers.

Shiana has, between skill and chase bonuses, a total of 37, vs the 32 of the Javelins. Both roll a very effective 7, which means she beats them by 5+. She can either advance or gain Advantage. She chooses to advance to Extreme range.

Lady Grimshaw opens fire on one Javelin, with ROF of 6 (+1). They’re Extreme (-15), she has targeting systems (+5), they’re SM +4, and she has skill 18. She needs a 13 or less. She rolls a 7 and hits with 4 of her 6 shots; the Javelin successfully dodges 3 with a dodge of 9. The last remaining hit deals 95 damage against an effective DR of 3, for 92 damage, which is more than the 80 HP of the craft. As a mook, we’ll call it destroyed.

But killing one Javelin just isn’t enough!

The Raptors rock under the flack of the Reign of Fire, whose main cannons have turned on the Blind Justice. Javelins dart in and out of the swift and dangerous attack craft, their blaster fire glancing off of the force screens of the Raptors, though one manages to damage the wing of a Raptor. Then, several Raptors unleash their payloads directly at the Dreadnought and several score direct hits. Fires visibly rage on the ship, and a secondary explosion creates plumes of smoke as hyperium erupts within the dreadnought.

And yet, the Reign of Fire continues, its engines burning hot as it forces its way closer to the retreating Blind Justice. A wave of Peltasts erupts from the Reign of Fire, rushing at the Alliance Carrier.

The Javelins remain at Distant range from the Raptors. A given Javelin has skill 12, have a total rof of 6 (+1), have locks on their targets (+5), a Raptor is SM +6, and their targets are Distant (-19); they have an additional +2 from tactical coordination. They have a 7 or less to hit. This means the vast majority will miss until they get closer (which will raise it to an 11 or less). If they had hit, they deal an average of 100 damage vs 300 ablative force screen DR, and 100 frontal DR (reduced to 20 after the armor penetration of the blasters). If the blasters can get through the force screens, they could really do some damage to the Raptors, but you’ll need several Javelins per raptor to get through those screens, though a good missile or flak fire could wipe out the screens pretty quickly, and the Raptors currently suffer from being hit by flak and we could include a couple of Tempests to really even things out.

The Reign of Fire can open fire with its flak cannons and, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what sort of rules I had in place for these. I’ve double checked a blog post and done some of my own calculations, and they’ll get hit on a 7 or less at this range and need to roll a handling roll to get through the attack at -2. Most would avoid getting hit, and their roll to get through the flak is (skill 12 +2 handling -2 from the flak) would succeed most of the time. Targets that did get hit would take an average of 200 damage; they have 300 points of Ablative Force Screen DR, and their frontal armor is effectively 200 DR, so they can probably just tough out the flak fire.

In return, the Raptors can open fire. They have a skill of 12, are at Extreme (-15) range vs an SM +14 craft, with locks (+5) and ROF 3 for all three torpedoes (+0). They have skill 11 to hit at this range, and thus would hit on average with 2 torpedos. The Reign of Fire gets +1 to dodge, which means it would dodge on a 3 or less… so that’s not happening. Each torpedo does an average of 10,000 damage, and the Reign has 3000 DR behind its frontal armor, thus it takes 7000 damage while having a wound threshold of 9,000, thus it takes a major wound. I rolled and found that it lost half of its fuel, which really hurts its ability to shunt out of the system. We could say it could not. In principle, we could hit it with a total of about 50 torpedoes, but we’re being abstract here, so we can say it increases in wound level to crippling, rolls 9 vs HT to remain functional and its armor has been Destroyed, leaving a huge gap in the armor.

Again, this is all for a sense of how well the system works. I wouldn’t do this sort of thing unless a player was actually working out whether HIS Raptor damaged a target.

The Reign of Fire is able to Move against the Alliance Carrier. They have a Total Chase roll of 17 vs the Blind Justices 15. The Reign of Fire rolls a 10 vs the Blind Justice’s 13, for a total margin of +5, allowing it to close from Remote to Beyond Visual. We could do a Move and Attack, but that applies a -2 to chase rolls that I keep forgetting (and isn’t all that relevant to dogfights anyway, because everyone is moving and attacking) and we’re not likely to hit at this range anyway.

Incidentally, we should consider launching another wave of Peltasts vs the Carrier. I’m not going to do any rolling for it, other than to note that it’s realistic, and at this range, the Peltasts should be able to reach the Carrier and attack and return before the Reign of Fire manages to retreat, and if its disabled or destroyed in the fighting and it just left its bombers in the hangar bay, that would be a waste.

The Valorian Edict performs a Precision Aiming manveuver.

Starlet grits her teeth, her Combat Sense screaming her mortal peril at her. Then she spots an opportunity: the expanding cloud of debris of the destroyed Lancer. Extending her wings for greater agility, she dives into the cloud. She ducks past a spinning plate of armor and tries to ignore the body of a dead soldier as she tries to lose Harkin in the cloud. The Imperial Ace ramps up his acceleration and takes a blinding, headache-inducing turn around the cloud of debris, hoping to cut her off as he spins his craft mid flight. He grits his teeth and finds when he reaches his point of attack that he stares down not Starlet’s engines, but Tobin’s blasters.

With a quick bob and weave and a burst of afterburner, Harkin’s agile Tempest evades Tobin’s spray of blaster fire and, sensing the day is lost, turns his ship back toward the Valorian Edict.

Harkin chases Starlet; he’s Advantaged and at Extreme Range. He has to roll under a 38 vs her 32, as usual. She’s going to try for a Stunt Escape, and applies a -6 to her roll, meaning she needs a 13 or less. She passes with an 11, adding +3 to her roll. Harkin will follow her, apply a -6 to his roll, and make it High-G in addition for an additional +1 to his roll to catch up to her. He has an effective skill of 15 (16 + handling 5 – stunt 5) and succeeds with an 11. He needs to roll HT (assume 12) +3 (from his chair and suit) and passes with a 13. It’s now 39 vs 32. She rolls a 5 vs his 12, which means she succeeds by 27 and he succeeded by 27. I’ll give it to her, as that’s technically a critical success. He’s not able to fire on her, though she could fire on him if she wasn’t making a Stunt Escape.

Tobin chases Harkin as well, and will need to make the same degree of stunt, and also chooses for a High-G maneuver, and goes one better with a total of -8 rather than -6. In high agility formation, he has a +4 to handling, which means he’ll succeed on a 14 or less, and he’ll succeed at resisting Gs on a 13 or less. He succeeds at both with an 8 and a 12. So, now it’s Tobin’s 40 vs Harkin’s 42. Tobin rolls a 6 (critical success and success by 34) vs Harkin’s 14 (success by 28). That’s enough for Tobin to claim advantage or to close to, say, Extreme. He chooses the latter.

Only Tobin is able to open fire and does so with his blasters. He cannot claim an accuracy bonus, however (he made a Stunt maneuver, not a Move and Attack maneuver). His opponent is Extreme (-15), SM +4, Tobin has a Lock (+5) and RoF 12 (+2) and skill 16. He hits on a 12 or less, while Harkin, skill 16, dodges on a 14 or less. Tobin misses with a 12, but doubtless spooks Harkin.

Turn 4

Status:

  • The Alliance Fleet and the Valorian are Remote from one another. The Reign of Fire is Beyond Visual.

  • The Alliance Carrier is undamaged.

  • Tobin is undamaged and has 6 missiles left

  • Starlet is has major damage and has lost her force screen; she 8 missiles left

  • Shiana is undamaged.

  • Dun has boarded the Final Judgment and needs 1 more turn, after this one, to reach the bridge.

  • The Valorian Edict is undamaged

  • The Reign of Fire is Crippled and has lost its Armor and half of its fuel.

  • The Final Judgment is undamaged

  • The Imperial Dreadnoughts depart in 4 turns.

  • Harkin Grave is undamaged and has 4 missiles left. He is retreating to the Valorian Edict.

The Baroness staggers on her heels as another wave of fire rocks the Blind Justice. The super-heavy fire from the Final Judgment and the Valorian Edict strike home, and rip through its screens, rocking the ship with mostly superficial damage.

“All systems green.” One of the crewmen report. Then another wave of damage rocks the ship once more and the lights dim to the red of emergency back-ups with numerous blinking screens and a few sub-systems exploding dramatically.

“Turrets one through five no longer responding.” The High Captain shouts at the baroness after personally joining one of the lieutenants to look at her screens. “And we’re showing a wave of strike craft incoming. Launch another squadron of Valiants.”

He looks soulfully at her Ladyship. “Should we retreat.”

She closes her eyes, trying to search through her own psychic senses. None of this was supposed to happen. The Imperials had access to superior foresight and had managed to outmaneuver them psychically as well as strategically.

“Yes.” She replied.

“Prime the hyperdrive.” The High Captain commanded, “Chart a course for Caliban. Transmit all coordinates to the remaining squadrons. They should be able to follow us. Signal the boarding parties to retreat.”

“Wait! The Lancers can jump after us as well. Let’s be prepared to leave, but let’s see how the rest of the battle plays out. A lot can happen in 5 minutes.”

The Valorian Edict and the Final Judgment collectively have 12 super-heavy turrets for a total RoF of 36. They’re attacking an SM +13 craft at Remote (-27) range. They have their targeting systems (+5) and their Accuracy of 9, plus they Precision Aimed (+4). Their ROF of 36 grants a +5. They’ll fire together and use Sin’s skill of 15, giving them a total of 20 or less to hit. They roll a 9, success by 11, which means they hit with 6 shots.

The Alliance Carrier can dodge with a 5 or less and fails, of course. Each shot deals an average of 2500 damage. The Carrier has force screens with DR 10,000, which means it manages to successfully absorb 4 shots. The remaining two hits inflict 2000 damage each, which means the ship has a Minor wound and must roll HT once to see if the wound accumulates. She rolls a 13 and lucks out.

The Reign of Fire is closer and Attacks. It has 6 super-heavy turrets (total ROF of 18) and 14 heavy turrets (RoF of 28). It’s Attacking an SM +13 craft at Beyond Visual range (-23) with a target lock (+5) and accuracy +9 and an RoF of +3 and +5 respectively. They have a skill of 12 and must roll a 19 and a 21 to hit. They roll a 13 (success by 6, or 4 hits) and a 9 (success by 12, or 7 hits). With the force screens gone, all these hits count as minor hits, thus the Blind Justice needs to roll at -11 to avoid increasing its wound threshold. It fails, obvious, and has a Major wound, and disables half of the Carrier’s weapons for retaliating.

Realistically, the Peltasts would not yet reach the carrier, though they likely will next turn. Similar, we can expect another increase in wounding threshold or two for the Reign of Fire as the Raptors continue to swarm it. We also expect that the Javelins might get closer and start taking a few Raptors out, though it would be a race to see if the Javelins could take out the Raptors before the Raptors took out the Dreadnought. If we increase the threshold again, we need to check if it survives (it does with an 8), if it’s still operational (It is, with a 12), what is destroyed (Propulsion).

Tobin’s blood boiled as he watched Harkin attempt to flee back to the Valorian Edict, but Starlet’s grateful voice pulled him back into the real world.

“Thanks.” She said.

He opened the comm channel to respond when his tech-bot began to warble in panic: the Blind Justice was transmitting secured coordinates for a retreat. He swiveled his gaze in time to see another wave of huge blasts pummeling the armor of the carrier. He checked his sensors and noticed a wave of Peltasts descending on the Blind Justice.

“Shiana,” he said after punching her channel. “I need you to...”

“Afraid I can’t help you. I have my hands full keeping these Javelins away from my Raptors.” She chirped back.

“Listen, lady.” He growled back “If we don’t move, there will be no carrier to return to.”

“Oh,” she said, and after a moment “Oh yes, I see that. Shame about these Raptors, though.”

“They’ll handle it.”

He turned his Valiant towards the Blind Justice, swept his wings back, and punched into full throttle, racing to the rescue again. Starlet and his own Valiant wing joined him and, after a moment, the dagger shape of Shiana’s Valkyrie and her own Valiant support, joined in as well.

Together, they rush at the Peltasts, but the Imperial strike-fighter’s engines flare with afterburner, as they fight to eat the distance between themselves and the carrier. The Valiants, even with their wings swept back, struggle to even keep up, never mind make up the distance. Shiana’s Valkyrie noses closer and closer, firing in a narrowing cone around her target, who weaves and dodges with consummate agility through her fire, whilst she bites back an unladylike curse. Tobin manages to burn closer and wipe out two with a whoop, bursting through their exploding debris to try and defeat a few more.

Once again, we’re on the hunt. Tobin has a 35 or less on his chase roll, Starlet has 32 or less, and Lady Grimshaw has 38. They’re going to move and attack (-2 to their Chase roll). The Peltasts they chase have a skill total of 30. We’re going to treat Tobin and Shiana’s roll as independent, and Starlet’s as representative of the Valiants in their wing. Once again, we’re going to treat this little fight as representative of the larger whole: our heroes need to defeat five peltasts to blunt the attack.

How far away do they start? Well, this is tricky. The Peltasts launched at Beyond Visual, so we’ll just say it’ll take them two turns to hit Extreme range with the Blind Justice. Shiana was at the Reign of Fire, though, so it’s reasonable that they’re pretty close. Let’s say Distant, because Extreme would be a touch too generous.

Tobin rolls 9 vs their 11, so beats them by 5. That’s enough for Advantage and closing to Extreme. Shiana rolls a 9 vs their 8, and beats them by 5, so she also gains Advantage and closes to Extreme. Starlet (terrible luck with her, lately) rolls a 15 vs their 10, and cannot open fire.

Tobin can attack with full accuracy (as he’s an Ace Pilot), so he has RoF 12 (+2) against a locked (+5) SM +4 target at Extreme (-15) range with his accuracy of +9. He chooses to split his RoF into 6 and 6 (+1 each, and -3 for a rapid attack). He’ll hit both on a 16 or less and hits with an 8 (5 hits) and an 11 (3 hits). The Peltasts have a dodge of 10; one dodges 3 shots with an 8 (and is hit twice) and the other fails outright to dodge with a 15. Both take an average of ~100 damage per shot, and they only have 85 HP, so that’s a crippling injury per shot. As mooks, they’re both dead.

Shiana has to make do with a mundane attack. She focuses all ROF 6 (+1) vs locked (+5) SM +4 targets at Extreme (-15) range, with her effective skill of 18. She hits on a 13 or less, and does so, barely, with a 13. However, the Peltast also just dodges with a 10.

Starlet and her Valiants cannot attack.

With a slash of blue energy, Dun Beltain rends the last imperial trooper, who crumples at his feet, and the room goes dark except for the glow of his blade and the pulsing red of emergency lights. The locked doors at the far end suddenly flare as the soldiers begin to torch through them.

Panting, Dun crouches by the his favorite regular, who rests his long rifle on the ground, waiting for the next fight.

“How many soldiers do we still have to go through?”

The Regular tilts his helmeted head. “Oh, an imperial cruiser isn’t as bad as a dreadnought. They probably don’t have more than 150 soldiers. Probably.”

Dun cursed under his breath. “This is taking too long. They’ve got security locked down tight. Though...”

He paused, lifting a finger. “We used to render down older models like this. There’s usually an engineering section that runs along the spinal cannon, which might get us from here to the bridge and bypass a lot of security, if my memory serves.”

“I’ll take that over CBQ through the entire length of this craft.” The regular agreed.

Dun continues his long trek to the bridge of the ship. The GM is free to throw whatever obstacles his way that he likes, and we’ve been avoiding additional detail, but as an example of something a player might do, Dun asks to roll Engineering (Starships) to see if he can figure out a “quicker” route. The GM won’t allow him to bypass time, but will let him bypass a lot of security or combat tasks, and asks for a roll at -4. He passes, and the GM allows them to get to the bridge with no additional challenges on the next turn.

Turn 5

Status:

  • The Alliance Fleet and the Valorian are Remote from one another. The Reign of Fire is Beyond Visual.

  • The Alliance Carrier (Blind Justice) has Major Damage and has lost half of her cannons..

  • The Blind Justice can depart in 4 turns (-8 on time modifiers).

  • Tobin is undamaged and has 6 missiles left

  • Starlet is has major damage and has lost her force screen; she 8 missiles left

  • Shiana is undamaged.

  • Dun has boarded the Final Judgment reaches the bridge this turn.

  • The Valorian Edict is undamaged

  • The Reign of Fire is Mortally Wounded and has lost its Armor, propulsion and half of its fuel.

  • The Final Judgment is undamaged

  • The Valorian Edict departs in 3 turns (-6 on time modified rolls).

  • Harkin Grave has retreated to the Valorian Edict.

Yamato Sin watches the holoprojections of the battle between the Reign of Fire and the Blind Justice. Raptors swarm around the Blind Justice, explosions ripping its hull to pieces. Even so, its cannons continue to fire, destroying the Blind Justice’s force screen as quickly as they attempt to regenerate. The super-heavy cannons land a devastating blow, and hyperium begins to visibly gush from the stricken carrier, who begins to slew sideways. At the same time, the Reign of Fire’s lights flicker and die. It gives up at last.

“A queen for a queen.” He murmurs, satisfied at the exchange.

“Sir?” Nineteen asks him.

“The Alliance Carrier can no longer jump. She’s stuck in this system until she can repair and refuel. Even if they capture the Final Judgment, they’re vulnerable to counter attack oh, for about a day I’d guess. That said,” he tapped on the screen where a wave of Raptors launched from the Blind Justice, “They still remain dangerous.”

Rather than work out the details for the exchange between the Blind Justice and the Reign of Fire, let’s simplify it to an increase to both of their wound severities. The Blind Justice is Crippled and its Fuel is destroyed (I checked to see if it would explode, and it did not). For its part, the next step after a Mortal Wound is Lethal Wound, so the Reign of Fire expires. Its soldiers might still be captured, and the ship salvaged.

The Valiants continue to pursue the Peltasts.

“They’re almost in firing range.” Tobin said through gritted teeth into the comm channel.

“I have a firing...” Began Shiana, and then suddenly cut off. Tobin glanced over to see her suddenly pulling up. A wave of Raptors had launched from the Blind Justice, and one clipped too close to Lady Grimshaw’s Valkyrie, forcing her to pull away. At her speed, that meant she lost a lot of ground quickly.

“I’m out.”

Tobin growled as he dove and wove through the Peltasts. They dodged and wove, diving through the flak fire. Tobin fired everything he had, but only managed to tag one. It exploded satisfactorily, but two more zipped past. A second exploded, and Starlet let out a whoop.

But it wasn’t enough. The last Peltast dove expertly through the exploding plasma flak and fired its torpedo. It raced towards the hangar bay and detonated, crashing debris onto the landing deck.

Tobin closed his eyes. Could this battle get any worse?

We need to defeat three more Peltasts. This looks doable! If we fail, then the Peltasts get to attack the carrier. Everyone in this case is making a Move and Attack roll, because the Peltasts intend to attack this turn. Tobin has a 35 or less on his chase roll (at Extreme and has Advantage), Starlet has 32 or less (Distant, no advantage), and Lady Grimshaw has 38 (Extreme and Advanatage). They’re going to move and attack (-2 to their Chase roll). The Peltasts they chase have a skill total of 30.

Tobin rolls 11 vs their 13, so beats them by 7. He can close to Long and Match Speed. Shiana rolls a 17 and automatically fails (they rolled a 5, which just rubs salt in the wound). She actually loses ground and returns to Distant. Starlet rolls an 8 vs their 8, and doesn’t close range, but is able to at least open fire.

So it’s pretty much entirely up to Tobin. Tobin can attack with full accuracy+1 (Matched Speed with an Ace Pilot); he’ll split his attack up three ways (RoF 4 each, or +0; with -6 for rapid attack) against a locked (+5) SM +4 target at Long (-11) range with his accuracy+1 of +10. He hits on a 14 or less. He hits the first with a 12 (2 hits), who dodges completely with a 6. He misses (!) the second with a 15, and hits the last with a 9 (3 hits), who fails to dodge with a 13. That last one is certainly dead at an average of three crippling hits.

Shiana cannot make an attack.

Starlet can make an attack. Her opponents are Distant (-19), she has skill 15, a lock (+5), RoF 12 (+2) and her opponent is SM+4. She hits on a 7 or less and, surprisingly, does so with a 5. That’s enough to hit twice, and her opponent dodges one of them with a 10. Alternately, we can call it a critical success and say she hits twice, but a single hit is enough to eliminate one Peltast.

That leaves one lone Peltast. It needs to push through the flak, which will hit it on a 9 or less against a Peltast and misses with a 10. It needs to roll Pilot (12) + handling (4) -2 for rough terrain. It gets through with a 12.

So, rather than roll to see if it hits, will just assume that it does. 10,000 damage vs 7000 hp is a Crippling Wound. It’s already crippled, so we just need to check to see if the wound accumulates! The Blind Justice rolls a 4, so it’s fine. Originally, I had allowed “additional wounds of this level” to destroy additional systems, but with some revisions I’ve made, that seems overly permissive. Instead, I’ll allow up to one additional system to be disabled per turn as an optional rule. If we allow that, the Hangar Bay is disabled (!).

The door clanged to the ground and, into the bridge of the Final Judgment, Alliance Regulars spilled forth. Dun Beltain strode before them, his force buckler gleaming in the dim light. He raised his force sword hilt and pointed it towards the captain, who had half-raised his blaster pistol, and triggered his weapon. The force screen coalesced into a blade pointed directly at the officer.

“You don’t want to die, hey?” He suggested.

The imperial officer let his weapon drop. “The ship is yours.”

The Alliance regulars scurried over the bridge, taking weapons, looking at readouts.

“How goes the battle?” Dun asked, removing his helmet to get a better look.

His favorite Regular pointed to the screen: “It’s bad. Looks like we’ve taken a dreadnought down, but the Blind Justice is venting Hyperium. We might be stuck in this system for awhile. And the other Dreadnought is still fully operational.”

“Say, do we have fire control here?”

“I think so, what are you thinking?”

“Well, we don’t have the main cannon, but we do have some guns, don’t we?” He tapped the Valerian Edict meaningfully.

Dun couldn’t see the Regular’s face through the faceplate, but sensed his gleeful grin.

Two turns later, we’re on the bridge! We could play out a fight, but let’s go for a surrender instead.

Can the players control the Super-heavy turrets of the Final Judgment from the bridge? Who knows. In this case, for the rule of cool, I say yes. I won’t fight you if you disallowed it in your game.

Turn 6

Status:

  • The Alliance Fleet and the Valorian Edict are Remote from one another.

  • The Alliance Carrier (Blind Justice) is Crippled, has no fuel, its hangar has been disabled, and has lost half of her cannons..

  • The Blind Justice can depart in 3 turns (-6 on time modifiers).

  • Tobin is undamaged and has 6 missiles left

  • Starlet is has major damage and has lost her force screen; she 8 missiles left

  • Shiana is undamaged.

  • Dun has control of the Final Judgment.

  • The Valorian Edict is undamaged

  • The Final Judgment is undamaged.

  • The Valorian Edict departs in 2 turns (-4 on time modified rolls).

Yamato Sin watched as the green dots representing the Reign of Fire’s peltasts vanished one by one, but one punched through the flak. He watched the results and grimaced, hoping for something more spectacular. He watched as the red dots, Raptors, raced towards his own dreadnought.

“Sir,” one of the bridge crew said, looking up at him “We’re being targeted.”

“By the carrier?”

“By the Final Judgment.”

He sighed. If the forces aboard the Judgment had fought a little better, if the pilots of the Alliance had been a little worse, they’d have killed an Alliance carrier today and rescued their cruiser. Still, an acceptable exchange: they lost an already lost cruiser and a dreadnought while crippling the primary Alliance carrier in the area, and the Empire could easily afford to replace the Reign of Fire.

“The last of the fighters are aboard?” he asked the officer, who mutely nodded.

“Then engage hyperdrive shunt.”

“The calculations...”

“Will be fine. Engage the hyperdrive.”

And then, the Valorian Edict vanished.

Imperial Dreadnoughts have a +2 to navigation rolls, and reasonably, the commanding officer can assist in anything, such as the mechanics roll for a quick jump, so a -4 isn’t so bad. He might even make it to Cabala Scan in one jump, or he might end up somewhere unexpected. The latter could be worse, as he might not get back to the this system quick enough to follow up on his victory.

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