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Advice on running space combat?


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#1 Ferretz

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Posted 09 December 2012 - 03:25 AM

Hi,

First time posting on the Rogue Trader forums, so hello all. :)

I haven't always been very fond of the Warhammer 40k setting, but I agreed to run a Rogue Trader campaign some months ago, which turned out to be a blast. We're running published adventures, and so far we've done the one in the core book, and the one in the GM Screen.

The group consists of a Rogue Trader, a Missionary, an Explorator and a Seneschal. Currently we have no Void Master, and the players themselves doesn't seem very interested in running space combat in any detailed manner, although they like to tinker with their poorly designed cruiser-ish scrap heap.

What I wanted to ask is if anyone's got advice on running space combat without maps, but with a bit more detail than rolling a few Pilot checks and narrate the result? What methods are being used?

And if running space combat with a map, what kind of miniatures, counters etc are used? :)

 

-Eirik



#2 lurkeroutthere

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Posted 10 December 2012 - 10:22 AM

Honestly I strongly dislike futzing about with minatures and battle mats, in some cases because of the scale involved in a good space combat. I've taken to using www.roll20.net for setting up battles, I make some simple ship designators in paint or something else and go with things from there.

The key to making space combat work in RT, or any kind of combat system is to have both you and your palyers have a rough idea of the system. Everything beyond that comes down to your ability to tell the story around the actions as they are going on in space combat. If it's just bits moving on the baord they won't be bought in as heavily as if yoru describing boarding actions and other items..



#3 Zoombie

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 01:46 PM

Actually, I have to disagree with my esteemed fellow poster: Maps and minis are ESSENTIAL to capture the true spirit of a RT space battle.

 

The three elements that make RT space battles really pop for me and my group are: Continual movement, firing arcs and formation. Because ships constantly move forward, the players find themselves charting out their courses, debating how best to bring their best guns to bear and how to manipulate the enviroment with piloting checks and the local hazards. Nothing is more satisfying than putting two broadsides between some light frigates and then crushing them with a thunderus broadside.

You don't need to use models. We use coins with arrows drawn on them so that you can determine which direction something is going.

Oh, and as a side note, using a map is vital as well for torpedoes. Torpedoes REQUIRE you to know where everything is, so that you can use them to hound enemy starships into the proper position.

One of the best sessions I've run was a three way scrum between 6 Chaos ships, 4 ork ships and the 2 ships of the PCs. The only reason the PCs survived was because of an insanely good long ranged broadside into the keel of the Herald of the Faceless Lord (a thirty decked, 150 gun grand-crusier) that didn't just blow the shields down but slammed the ship into a warp core collapse and VOIP!

The entire middle of the map was gone, with nearly every single enemy ship sucked into a ravening vortex of roiling warp energy, with Chaos ships and ork ships locked in a continual death embrace…lost, forevermore to the Sea of Souls.

Space combat = funnest with maps.

Of course, our group is spoiled…we have one of those huge tables where you can slide the top off and reveal a huge grid that you can draw on with dry-erase markers. That helps, because I can just draw up asteroid fields and planets and everything.



#4 Ryath

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 03:41 PM

I would also have to agree that a map of some kind really helps space comat, and if you are using torpedoes or fighter/bomber squads then you really do need one.

In my group we have always found a it very helpful to have the map with some kind of grid printed on it, square or hex based ones both work well.  These does give the players a real chance to plan out each turn so they maximize thier fire power well trying to minimize what the enemy can do.  For players that do like to tacticaly plan out thier fights it really helps.   We have a few large paper maps, some brought from other games, that can range from 4'x2' to 6'x'4' and they really do allow for a mix of small or large space battles.  I do find that if the ships you are using have a higher speed a bigger map is more useful as the players can easly cost off the map on a smaller board.

If you don't have access to a map one trick we have used its to use a standard page of grid paper then place a piece of acetate sheet over it.  You can now use a quick errase marker to drawn in each ship and its movements, then just errase the old info when its done its turn.  It works as a good quick solution if you don't have a large map or lots of space to set one up.



#5 lurkeroutthere

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 07:43 PM

This thread keeps eating my post. Suffice to say I actually agree with you Zoombie. Doing Rogue Trader space combat abstract without any kind of visual representation is essentially pointless. In order for it to have proper impact you really need to plot things out.

Now my group mostly meets in someones living room which puts a serious crimp on our ability to use battlemats due to table space being at a premium. Between that and my desire to have things set up ahead of time and the fact we all have laptops means I usually just use www.roll20.net for our battlespace needs.

Lastly I created a doc to help summarize some of the space combat rules. I hope it helps people and would welcome comments on it.

https://docs.google....nPTpzfy-Zc/edit



#6 susanbrindle

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:21 AM

Ship Combat definitely demands representation. Precisely how far away you are, which side your enemy is on (The difference between Port, Fore, and Aft can be huge), the relative location of astral phenomena… these all play a big role. It's very important to know where everything is and how it all interacts based on distance.

 

It'd be like running chess without a board.


That said, there are an abundance of ways to represent boards. My current group discovered and purchased six rolls of wallpaper that had a grid pattern, so now we have an effectively endless supply of disposable battlemap (Sometimes we draw on the map.) Enemies are always represented by coins (I've been waiting for us to encounter Tzeentch cultists so I can make a joke about the Change jar) while the players are some combination of the six army men and five D&D minis that we managed to find after we all dug through our childhoods for suitable figurines.

 

Coins are particularly nice since they're incredibly inexpensive (You can get 100 pennies for a dollar!) and visually distinct from one another- if you have five little brown pennies around one big silver nickel, it's immediately obvious which of them are the cultists and which is the chaos space marine.



#7 Kasatka

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Posted 18 December 2012 - 11:19 PM

To join the Team "Combat Maps" it is very essential to have a system of accurately doing space combat. As my group has many ship models from both BFG and other starship combat sysems we just use tabeltops and say that each inch is a VU. counters for torps and strike craft are easy enough, and jagged scraps of paper for celestial phenomena. Some of the best moments of our combats have been simply pulling off a fancy manouver to slingshot around a celestial body and bring our fore guns to bear on the rear of an enemy vessel - something that has almost no wow factor when done abstractly.


Only the insane have strength enough to prosper.

Only those that prosper may truly judge what is sane.


#8 Ferretz

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Posted 19 December 2012 - 09:36 AM

I'm wondering, is it still possible to get Battlefleet Gothic minis somewhere? Can't seem to find them online. :/

-Eirik



#9 Radwraith

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Posted 20 December 2012 - 03:54 PM

Ferretz said:

I'm wondering, is it still possible to get Battlefleet Gothic minis somewhere? Can't seem to find them online. :/

-Eirik

Battlefleet Gothic Mini's are still available on the GW website under "specialist games" as are all the BFG rules in PDF format for free!

Try here:

http://www.games-wor...pecialist-games

Good luck!



#10 Kasatka

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 09:53 PM

Ferretz said:

I'm wondering, is it still possible to get Battlefleet Gothic minis somewhere? Can't seem to find them online. :/

-Eirik

eBay! I got a tonne of chaos cruiser sprues unboxed for a massive discount.


Only the insane have strength enough to prosper.

Only those that prosper may truly judge what is sane.





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