Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Considering using the Mass Battles rules for Starship Combat

Starship combat is almost as bad as Hacking. One character gets a chance to shine while everyone else sits back. Sure some games and ships let one person pilot while another character mans a gun turret, but it still means that only two skills can come into play. And worse, it tends to be baked into the rules that only these skills are useful in this situation.

How about a change? How about we let the players figure out how they might use their individual skills to help in a starship combat situation? Hackers might try to hack the enemy ship, shutting down its weapons or creating ghost targets for it to fire at? Engineers could overdrive the engines, academics could convey an enemy ships's weaknesses, non-coms could assist in damage control... the point is that if a player wants to be involved then they only have to figure out how they can help.

And in Savage Worlds, the Mass Battles rules can cover this with little modification. I just need to rate each ship in Tokens. And for every Token lost, the vehicle takes a Critical Hit.

Granted it's a thought in progress, but I think it has merit.


  1. I have thought about this a little. Space battles should be done in the abstract unless and until you have boarding procedures. This goes for Air Ship or Sea Ship battles as well. This is due to the distance involved. In Savage Worlds, I would create crew stations to be manned in each ship, depending on the size. Your Tokens can go toward different ship systems. General Crew can be NPCs, specific stations like: Pilot, Gunner, Communications, Engineering, Sick Bay, and the like should be manned by the players. Each station has a specific skill that can use it, substitutions can apply but should a player get "knocked out" another one can take up the station. Maybe not as well but if you don't have anybody gunning, then you don't get to shoot back. I find that a modification of the chase rules could work for one on one ships.

    1. My idea was Tokens based on Ship capabilities: weapons, shields, hull size, and speed. The reason I don't want to specify "roles" in space combat is because I want the players to be free to come up with their own creative ideas on how to help based on their character's strengths.

  2. I agree with keeping space battles abstract, I think when you get down to maneuver level it is very easy for the RPG to become a skirmish wargame (which is fine if that's what you want) and lose focus on the characters. I prefer to focus on what the characters are doing and how their skills/abilities can affect the outcome of the overall conflict.


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