Age of Star Wars: Narrative Ship Combat

There could not be Star Wars without ships and likewise, combat between ships. This has been something I have been putting off for a while, mostly because I feel as though roleplaying games generally do not handle this concept nearly as well as tactical miniature games, like Fantasy Flight Game’s X-Wing or Armada. Both are excellent games and could be easily worked into Fantasy AGE or other systems to handle ship combat on a more mechanical level.

This uses a different approach that is more theatre of the mind. It attempts to soften the edges by providing guidelines as opposed to hard rules and numbers in order to achieve a more narrative style. As such, the GM and the players should feel free to work together on forming and unfolding the events of the battle, using this as a foundation and not the ultimate arbiter of what happens at the table.

RUNNING A SHIP COMBAT

  • Decide on the type of encounter, Most ship combat encounters fall into either chases or dogfights. The goal of chases is often evading hazards and attacking ships long enough to make the jump to lightspeed. Dogfights focus on removing enemy ships, whether by forcing a retreat or destroying the opposition. These distinctions may seem like common sense, but they are important to keep in mind as you run through the encounter and decide how events develop, and also because there can be multiple variations on these two themes. For example, a dogfight may involve destroying a particular ship or structure, or a chase may center on keep another ship safe until they make the jump to lightspeed.
  • Keep the number of ships involved to a minimum. No more than five ships should participate in any ship combat encounter as a general rule, player ships included. Even during larger battles, ships and their pilots do not have perfect situational awareness and typically break-off into smaller conflicts.
  • Consider the environment. Whether over a snowy tundra, drifting asteroids, or the bowels of a massive space station, the environment has an equal role to play as any opponent.
  • Avoid using visual aids, if you can. It can be tempting to put minis out on the table to represent where everyone is and how they are moving. However, it is a slippery slope from doing this and a tactical miniatures game with its own set of rules, that frankly, does this kind of thing a lot better. Theatre of the mind is very difficult to achieve and maintain but it is tremendously rewarding.

ROUND ORDER IN 5 PHASES

Phase 1: Determine number of combatants. Even if it is part of a larger battle, the GM decides who is actively involved in the combat encounter. If a ship is involved in the combat encounter, it is assumed that they are within range of at least one other ship’s weapons, although this is ultimately decided by the GM.

Phase 2: Determine ship positioning. Resolve where each ship involved in the combat encounter is in relation to each other. This is also where it is determined if a ship is in range to attack another. Positioning determines which side of a ship is vulnerable (attacks against this side gain +3 bonus to the attack roll and +1d6 damage on a hit) and which side is effectively blocked from attack. A pilot can change which side is exposed by performing a maneuver (see Roles).

swx01_preview
TIE Fighters in Flanking Position

Ahead

  • Blocked: Your front
  • Vulnerable: Your back

Behind or Head-to-Head

  • Blocked: Your back
  • Vulnerable: Your front

Flanking

  • Blocked: Your opposite flank
  • Vulnerable: Your flank

Phase 3: Choose a role. Each ship’s crew determines what roles they will fill on their turn. A player can only occupy one role at a time.

For example, Dax is a human operative flying an X-Wing in a ship combat with two TIE Fighters behind her. As Dax is at a disadvantage, she chooses the pilot role during the first round to see if she can make herself a little less vulnerable. She successfully performs a barrel roll maneuver against one of the TIE Fighters on her turn.

Both TIE Fighters panic. The two ships each choose the pilot role on their turns. One TIE Fighter uses evasive maneuvers while the other one (that Dax is directly behind) attempts a wingover maneuver in the hopes of turning the tables, but fails his ability test and is now vulnerable.

Now that things are looking up for her, Dax decides on the gunner role on her next turn. She aims and attacks the vulnerable TIE Fighter with her X-Wing’s quad-cannon. Scratch one, one more to go…

Phase 4: Ships take their turns in descending initiative order and in descending role order for each ship. Combat begins, with each ship’s pilot having rolled and acting out their turns.

Phase 5: Changes in the environment. After every ship has taken a turn, something should be different in the environment. For example, an asteroid could drift into the players’ flight path or a ship not involved in the encounter explodes and sends out debris that must be avoided, requiring a Dexterity (Piloting) ability test from the pilot if the GM decides to do so.

SWR02_3702_BaseofOps_JacobMurray
Captain is King

ROLES

Characters can take any action they can normally take. In addition, they can take other actions depending on which role they are performing for the round.

Role 1: Captain

Command (Major Action): You provide direction and coordinate the actions of your allies to ensure success. This is a TN 11 Communication (Leadership) test. If you are successful, one of your allies gains a +2 bonus on their next ability test.

Role 2: Pilot/Co-Pilot

Attack Maneuver (Major Action): You alter your flight path to optimize your next attack. You must succeed on opposed Dexterity (Piloting) tests to gain +1 attack on your or a crewmember’s next attack roll. You cannot use this maneuver against a ship that is behind you.

x_wing___board_game_art___tallonroll_by_pixelherder-d7p6ygx
Barrel Roll Maneuver

Barrel Roll Maneuver (Major Action): You change positions with one of your attackers so that you are now behind them. You must succeed on opposed Dexterity (Piloting) tests to switch positions so that you are behind and he or she is in front of you.

Dive (Major Action): You turn the ship downward, focusing on gaining speed. Doing so increases the speed category by one but also makes you vulnerable from one other position for one round.

Evasive Maneuver (Major Action): You spiral and pitch the ship to avoid danger. You must make a successful TN 15 Dexterity (Piloting) with this maneuver to negate vulnerability on attack rolls against you. When avoiding obstacles, if you fail a Dexterity (Piloting) test, you can re-roll it, but you must keep the results of the second roll.

Wingover Maneuver (Major Action): You change directions so that you now move in the opposite direction. You must make a successful TN 15 Dexterity (Piloting) with this maneuver or become vulnerable.

Role 3: Mechanic

Repair (Major Action): You make quick repairs to the ship. You must have a ship repair kit ready and is a TN 13 Intelligence (Engineering) test. If you are successful, the ship gets back an amount of Health equal to the Stunt Die + your Intelligence. The ship cannot benefit from another Repair action until additional damage is taken. This also allows you to remove a ship failure (see below).

Shield Boost (Major Action): You divert power to the ship’s deflector shields. This is a TN 11 Intelligence (Engineering) test. If you are successful, the ship gets back an amount of Shields equal to the Stunt Die.

Speed Boost (Major Action): You get as much speed from the ship’s main drive as you can. Doing so increases the speed category by one until your next turn.

Role 4: Navigator

Astrogation (Major Action): You engage the navigation computer for the jump to lightspeed. Doing so requires an advanced test with Intelligence (Astrogation) with the GM determining the task difficulty and success threshold.

Role 5: Gunner

Lock On (Major Action): You use the targeting computer to line up your next shot. You make an opposed Intelligence (Computers) vs. Dexterity (Piloting) test and if successful, if you miss an attack roll against the target, you can re-roll it, but you must keep the results of the second roll.

Switch Weapons (Major Action): You swap one of the ship’s weapons for another.

SHIP COMBAT STUNTS

swx36_preview1

Ship Combat Stunts
SP Cost Stunt
1-3 Don’t Get Cocky: You gain +1 to your next ability test for every 1 SP you spend.
2 Mighty Shot: If you do damage, the target takes an extra d6 damage.
2 Defensive Positioning: The ship gains a +2 bonus to Defense until the beginning of your next turn.
3 Set Up: Pick an ally. On their next turn, the ally receives a +2 bonus on their next ability test.
3 Wrong Vector: Choose one enemy. That opponent cannot attack you until your next turn.
4 Fast Act: You can perform one additional ship action on your turn.
4 Shields Up: A power surge regenerates the deflector shields. The ship regains 3d6 shields.
4 Quick Calculations: You lower the success threshold needed to jump to lightspeed by 3.
5 Seize the Initiative: You move to the top of the initiative order. This means you and your allies may get to take another turn before some of the combatants get to act again. You remain at the top of the order until someone else seizes the initiative.
5 Lethal Shot: If you do damage, the target takes an extra 2d6 damage.

SHIP FAILURE (OPTIONAL RULE)

Ships often do not remain at their optimum level of functioning up to the point they are destroyed. When a ship is reduced to half its health (rounded down) or less and is hit by an attack, one crewmember rolls a 1d6 and one of the following effects immediately takes place.

Ship Failures
Roll 1d6 Failure
1 Critical Failure: Damage to vital ship functions put it in danger of exploding. The critical failure must be repaired with a repair kit and a TN 13 Intelligence (Engineering) ability test within 3 rounds or the ship will be destroyed.
2 Injury: One crewmember randomly determined by the GM is dealt 2d6+2 penetrating damage.
3-4 System Failure: One role randomly determined by the GM cannot act during the ship’s next turn.
5 Disabled Engine: The ship’s speed is reduced by one category.
6 Off Course: The success threshold needed to jump to lightspeed is increased by 2.

SHIPS AND SHIP QUALITIES

Crewmembers: The first number given is the number of people required to fly the ship, with the number behind the “/” indicated the number of crewmembers that the ship can support.

Maneuverability: A pilot adds this value to all Dexterity (Initiative and Piloting) ability tests.

Speed: These are broad categories for relative speed from slowest to fastest. This mostly determines if a ship can escape another’s weapon range.

Defense: The first number given is for NPC pilots, with the number behind the “/” indicating the value for player character pilots.

Deflector Shields: Ships do not have an Armor Rating, but instead have a separate pool of Health in the form of Deflector Shields. There are multiple ways in which Deflector Shields can recover in combat and regenerate 1d6 Health per minute out of combat.

Health: A ships health can only be recovered by making repairs.

Armaments: Describes the types of weapons that are installed on the ship. Ship weapons are in the Accuracy (Heavy Weapons) weapon group.

Imperial-Counterattack
X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter

X-Wing
Features
Crewmembers: 1 (plus astro mech)/1
Astromech: An X-Wing has a port for an astromech. An installed astromech can only perform the mechanic and navigator roles.
Flight
Maneuverability: +2
Speed: Faster
Hull
Defense: 13/10 + Dexterity (Piloting)
Deflector Shields: 30
Health: 70
Weapons
Quad-Cannons: 4d6+4
Proton Torpedo (2): 5d6+3

TIE Fighter
Features
Crewmembers: 1/1
Fragile: If the Mighty Shot or Lethal Shot stunt is performed on a TIE Fighter, the GM immediately rolls a for a ship failure.
Flight
Maneuverability: +4
Speed: Fast
Hull
Defense: 14/ 12 + Dexterity (Piloting)
Deflector Shields: 20
Health: 50
Weapons
Twin Cannon: 3d6+3

TIE Interceptor
Features
Crewmembers: 1/1
Stunt Bonus: A TIE Interceptor can perform the Defensive Positioning stunt for 1 SP.
Flight
Maneuverability: +4
Speed: Faster
Hull
Defense: 14/ 13 + Dexterity (Piloting)
Deflector Shields: 30
Health: 60
Weapons
Twin Cannon: 3d6+3
Proton Torpedo (1): 5d6+3

YT-1300
Features
Crewmembers: 1 (plus co-pilot)/6
Cargo Capacity: The ship can support 5 tons of cargo, along with one land-based vehicle. It also includes numerous hidden compartments where illicit cargo can be stored.
Co-Pilot: The ship can have two crewmembers perform the pilot role. However, only one of them can perform a maneuver during a round.
Flight
Maneuverability: +1
Speed: Fast
Hull
Defense: 11/10 + Dexterity (Piloting)
Deflector Shields: 40
Health: 90
Weapons
2 Quad-Cannons: 4d6+4

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