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"Starship rules help needed" Topic

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559 hits since 8 Nov 2017
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tshryock Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Nov 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

I'm working on some starship rules and need some guidance. I've made a list of weapons that I want to be in the game along with some general descriptions of range (long, medium, short) and damage potential (heavy, medium, light) along with any special limitations (only good against fighters, inaccurate at long range etc.)
But now I'm trying to figure out how to translate that into game terms. I have hull sizes for various ships (heavy cruiser, frigate etc) but am not sure how to proceed with integrating my weapon ideas and potential damage to the hulls. I'm leaning toward having higher hull values (when you hit zero, the ship is destroyed) with wider damage ranges for each weapon type. I was looking at using multiple D6s as the mechanism for damage, but what should I do next?
Should I map out the damage ranges for each weapon and see how that compares to my ideas for how much damage a ship should be able to take? Is playtesting the only way to figure it out?
I know this is a ramble and not really a question, but any guidance on what you think I should do next to get everything to mesh together would be helpful.

Personal logo Dervel Supporting Member of TMP Fezian08 Nov 2017 9:39 a.m. PST

Are you familiar with Full Thrust?

Very good frame work for starship battles, easily modified to accommodate different genres and styles. You might find some ideas there.

PaddySinclair08 Nov 2017 9:47 a.m. PST

It all depends.

Do you see a single hull value for the ship, or do you want sections to hang together with their own hull values and directional damage tables.

Do systems have a number of hit boxes alone, or do they have a resistance to damage (armour rating, AR for the sake of brevity)? In your multiple D6 system for instance, each pip of AR could reduce the weapon damage against that hull or system by one d6. You could also assign an armour piercing rating (AP) to certain weapons which would allow you to ignore that many pips of AR.

Is this a generic or specific set of rules? If you want to be able to model a particular type of engagement (say Enterprise vs Reliant) then use that as a base line, and try to work out how to get the observed effect.

Stryderg08 Nov 2017 9:55 a.m. PST

Make a list of hull values (how much damage each size can take).
Make a list of weapon values (how much each one can dish out).
Do some simple math to answer some questions: How many hits can a heavy cruiser take from a heavy laser before it's destroyed? For example:
Heavy Cruiser = 50 hit points
Destroyer = 10 hit points
Heavy Laser does 3d6 damage (average of 10)
So: 1 hit from a heavy laser will take out a Destroyer, and 5 will take out a Heavy Cruiser (give or take a few hits).

Does that seem "realistic" to you? How much motion will the ships have? If the laser can shoot once then the target zips out of range, you are going to have a pretty long game. If it's a stand up slug-fest, then it'll be much shorter.

Now start asking, "How much damage does a tiny laser do compared to a heavy laser?" And do the math there. How many ships per side, how many weapons will each be armed with? How many chances will each get to fire per turn?

Hope this helps (especially since I asked more questions than I answered), and good luck.

Oberlindes Sol LIC08 Nov 2017 11:07 a.m. PST

You also have to think about how the weapons cause damage. Are there weapons that cause internal explosions (like the Traveller meson gun)? Are their weapons that interact with the target ship's power source or fuel in interesting ways? Are there weapons that can drop a ship out of our universe (like the MegaTraveller jump inducer, or whatever they called it)?

Are there defenses other than armor (like the Traveller black globe and MegaTraveller white globe, or Star Trek shields)?

RudyNelson08 Nov 2017 11:08 a.m. PST

It is easier for players to understand classes or groups of weapons. When you get to crunching the numbers you will see that several weapons will have similar effects. Species characteristics can differentiate weapons such as limited range or cascading affect without having numerous weapons type.
The oldvSFB or Battletech hit boxes are always effective for tracking damage.
The cascading Effect should be considered. For example, every time you roll a 10 on a d10; you not only hit but you get to re-roll for a chance at another hit.
Many ways to get unique capabilities rather than having a lot of different weapon types.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2017 11:48 a.m. PST

I have an alternative suggestion: start with an existing and well-playtested set of rules, then modify or replace the weapons, defenses, hull characteristics, etc. as desired until the dynamics of combat are about where you want them.

There are already a zillion starship combat games that are very easy to modify, and many have decades of playtesting and house rules to take advantage of. Unless you're trying out some novel new gaming mechanics, there is no sense whatsoever reinventing the wheel just to get your personal preferences for weapon/defense combinations onto a table. The key is to start with the basic rules mechanics that best represent the style of combat you're aiming for, considering things like turn sequence, the ratio of movement and shooting distances, the amount and type of detail in the damage system, and extraneous considerations like the effects of crews or commander personalities on the gaming experience.

Your OP seems to indicate you're aiming sort of at WWI or WWII naval combat in space. For that, I recommend starting with an old classic like Full Thrust (sic Dervel) or Starfire or Galactic Knights. If you want a more abstract approach you could try the *really* old classic WarpWar, for a more Age-of-Sail stately-mob-of-ships feel you could try Battlefleet Gothic or Space Fleet, or for a Star-Trek-ish feel you could just pirate one of the many Star Trek themed games for something along those lines (like Star Fleet Battles, Federation Commander). There are plenty of others too, some of which come highly recommended (like Attack Vector: Tactical).

- Ix

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP08 Nov 2017 12:21 p.m. PST

Keep in mind that the more detail you include in the tracking of damage, the greater the record keeping involved. This lengthens the time the game will take to play and consequently reduces the number of ships a player can reasonably field and expect to manage during the game. There's nothing wrong with either a high record keeping approach or a low record keeping approach; Starfleet Battles is the former, an Ogre/GEV type game is the latter (ship is either fully functional, disabled, or destroyed).
In my own design, GOBS, I take a minimal record keeping approach not too far from the original Starfire game, with a ships stats simply being a single line of text representing size, speed and maneuver, and the type and existence of armor and armament and special components (jammers, flight bays, hyperdrive). For example: The BS Gemeyabrayk SC-1 T4 M2 S J HD 5L 2PC Ft4 Pt3 SWJHMTBOOM translates to Battleship (name) Size Class -1 (smaller numbers are actually larger ships in GOBS), Thrust 4, Maneuver 2, Shields, Jammer, Hyperdrive, 5 lasers, 2 plasma cannons, 4 fusion torpedoes, 3 photon torpedoes and the damage tracking line for these systems: Shields Weapons Jammer, Hyperdrive, Maneuver, Thrust, with BOOM being obvious, one expects. wink
There are no hit points, but rather varying threshold levels based on ship size as to the total amount of damage sustainable in any turn to affect the systems, starting from right to left. (So if damage is high enough to affect the Maneuver system it also affects the shields, weapons (all of them), jamming system and hyperdrive.) Each system is either damaged (and thus less functional) or destroyed (and thus unusable), but the ship itself remains until the BOOM level is reached (which might never happen).
The result is a system that's very easy to track ship-by-ship, and allows ships to remain in a battle at various levels of effectiveness without getting overly fiddly on anything. No boxes to tick: just put a pencil mark through a system's letter when it's damaged (and erase the mark if it's repaired). If two marks go through a letter (an X), the system is destroyed. Easy-peasy.

That may be something like what you want, or you may want greater detail on the status of various systems. It's really up to you and the type of game you're creating. If you want the classic Star Trek style "captain's duel," use extensive detail for your ship's systems, but expect a player to field only one or two ships in a battle. If you want the full on Star Wars RotJ fleet fight, use minimal detail so your players can handle a large array of ships. The question of which dice, etc., is really a matter of probabilities than anything else. A d6 has a more limited possible results spread making any given result more probable than a d10 where the spread is greater, or a d20, where it's even greater still. So, how likely do you want an event to be? 17%? (That's roughly a single number on a d6). 10%? (A single number on a d10). 5%? (Roll a d20). Greater die result ranges increases the percentage; adding more dice places the odds towards the center of the spread and makes the ends rarer and more significant. You just have to decide how likely or unlikely you want the results of an action to be; that determines your dice approach.

Best of luck!

Howard Shirley, creator of Generic Outlandishly Big Spacefleets!

tshryock Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Nov 2017 8:43 p.m. PST

Thank you -- great ideas all around. I had already stolen the hull sizes and general weapon sizes from Full Thrust, so I'm not entirely reinventing the wheel. Maybe I'll fiddle more within that system.
Again, thanks for all the ideas and recommendations. (And Yellow Admiral, you are right, I'm basically creating WWI naval combat in space, with smaller ships used to screen larger ones; big ships get big guns with longer ranges and more damage, but torpedoes are the great equalizer if you can get close enough to use them.)

Personal logo Dervel Supporting Member of TMP Fezian08 Nov 2017 10:53 p.m. PST

We did Star Wars (WWII Carrier style) with both GOBS and then Full Thrust.

GOBS is great for a large battle with minimal record keeping.

Full thrust for a little more detail.

Both are easily adapted.

Our Full Thrust Version:
PDF link

Queen Catherine27 Nov 2017 8:19 p.m. PST

I think the answer to your question is that you will have to learn to do game mechanics math, which are easy or hard depending on how you are using the dice.

I think Starfire has some interesting approaches to what you are talking about. There are some posts here:

Hope that helps.

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