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Space Combat...worries, hints, suggestions, speculations...etc. Chime in!


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#1 Maxim C. Gatling

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:29 AM

What we're talking about here is the next evolution of the 40k Space Combat game.

Space Fleet.  Horrible, horrible game.  Anyone disagree?

BFG.

Now BFG has a loyal following, but I was never thrilled with the rules.  In a nutshell, they were too abstract for me and deviated too far from the fluff.  I dunno, I expected more.  See, to have a really satisfying game of BFG where you can ignore the abstractness you need ...ta daaaa!!!  A LOT of miniatures.  Little things like treating fighters and bombers as expendable ordinance...I won' t go into it.  BFG fans, I'm not dissin' you.  I've got every rules version, every fan-generated pdf and a bucket of BFG minis....   I write this post hoping for a little bit more in this next incarnation.

I want a Space Combat system...

1. You can ignore.  Lot of people just aren't interested.  For those players, you need a very abstract yet extremely colorful system not reliant on minis, maps or anything.  I'm not one of these people, but I respect the players who just want to "roll a few dice and tell me what happens" so they can get on with RPG'ing.

For those that like Space Combat:

2. More detail than BFG in keeping with the fluff.  For instance, do away with abstract firepower ratings and have actual batteries of Plasma Cannons, Lances, Point Defense turrets, Macro Cannons, each with pros/cons and different purposes.  Have more types of torpedos, in keeping with the original Rogue Trader.  If I have a Pilot character and want to fly a Fighter, then it should be in there.  Don't go overboard on the detail, as that would be easy to do, but more detail=more RPG flavor.

3. Easy Bookkeeping.  Hey, some bookkeeping has to be involved.  Can we have a system where all vital info and a big silohette of the ship is pre-printed on one page?  I'm not saying copy SFB, but they did that part right.

4. A consistent rules system that's easy to remember after a couple beers.  All the pertinant charts/tables on no more than 2-3 double sided sheets for reference.

5. A battle involving 2-3 Capital ships (and a few smaller ships, fighters, escorts, etc.) should be playable in about an hour, plus setup time.

6. There should be a role for as many types of characters as possible, even if on the same (especially if on the same...) ship.  Some sort of RPG element and/or turn by turn decision making that keeps all players interested and that they are somehow affecting the outcome of the battle. 

I'm worried about "Starship Construction".  Ok, I'm all for "Starship Modification.." but it had better be easy to extrapolate from BFG stats to make traditionally existing ships.

Somebody else noted that one of the keys is to make a system where the Ship is a character in and of itself.  I highly agree.

I had a bit more to say, but Fred is yelling "Yabba Dabba Do!", so I gotta go.  I'll finish tomorrow.  Chime in and let me (and more importantly FFG) know what you think.

 



#2 Xathess Wolfe

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:46 AM

I guess my first take on all of this, is that it shouldn't require tabletop anything to do, but that can be used with tabletop.  Its an RPG, not a space combat game, so everything needs to be simple and easy to do for those who don't like tabletop miniature fighting, but can be easily expanded upon by those who do.

In fact, that sounds like FFGs next great board game...  Rogue Trader: Space Fleets



#3 Dezmond

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 11:50 AM

Ideally it should use exactly the same system as character scale.

You make the same attack roles, track damage the same way, roll initiative the same way.

The more different it is, the less it will get used.

Actually, ships shouldn't have their own stats, but act as modifiers for characters.

So a battlewagon gives +10 constitution but -10 agility, while a light crusier is -10 consitution but +10 agility.



#4 Peacekeeper_b

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Posted 03 March 2009 - 04:30 PM

Dez, I agree 100% more or less. A variation of the scale rules that WEG used in Star Wars D6 and you are set to go.



#5 macd21

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 03:31 AM

While I believe that ships should definately have their own stats, I agree that the system should be as abstract and simple as possible. This is an RPG, not a wargame. One thing that worries me: The players are going to have one ship. How do you make space combat interesting for all of the players? Having one person control piloting, another control the weapons... is boring. You need to give everyone something meaningful to do, or else it'll turn into a combat played by the GM vs the ship's captain, while the rest of the players watch (or get bored and go home/start watching tv/making out in the corner).



#6 Dezmond

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 04:36 AM

We can give everyone their own ship.

So you get Tank ships, Nuker ships, Healer ships etc.



#7 Peacekeeper_b

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 02:16 AM

You can rotate actions between the characters, with one acting as caller/captain. Course I never had a problem with shields guy, pilot guy, gunnery guy in D6 games.

I figure looking at Vehicles Apocrypha is a good start for what we will see.



#8 Xathess Wolfe

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 12:12 PM

Peacekeeper_b said:

You can rotate actions between the characters, with one acting as caller/captain. Course I never had a problem with shields guy, pilot guy, gunnery guy in D6 games.

I figure looking at Vehicles Apocrypha is a good start for what we will see.

Agreed.  With the number of weapons your average Rogue Trader Ship has on them,  one is the pilot (the captain) while the others control a bank of weapons.  They're not really in control, but are in command of the gunners.

Also, we still don't know if its a single Rogue Trader ship, or a fleet of ships.



#9 Kage2020

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 01:42 PM

One would imagine that both possibilities are, erm, well, possibilities.  So lots of ships or just a few, or even just one.

Kage



#10 Pneumonica

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 06:33 PM

Well, you've got Pilot and Gunners, plus whatever the Tech Priest variant is for damage control.  Sensing is handled by the Navigator.  Shields tend to be passive static walls in 40K, so I don't think there'll be a shield officer.  You might get a dedicated ship's machine spirit officer.  The end result would be a similar system to StarCluster, which itself plays out much like submarine combat.



#11 Peacekeeper_b

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Posted 07 March 2009 - 10:55 PM

I seem to recall the ships in Rogue Star, Star of Damocles and Relentless having shields, not to mention Geller Fields.

You have sensors (not always Navigator, he just navigates the warp, pretty useless in combat)

Weapons

Comms

Damage control

Flight control

 



#12 Xisor

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 03:37 PM

For my part, I hope the space combat in RT is fantastically long and not abstract in the slightest. If you want to fight using an army...you don't play DH. If you want to fight using a spaceship, you don't play RT. Similarly, pilots would only be 'necessary' for 'taking part in' a battle. I don't think you'd actually roleplay the entire sortie.

40k's space combat is, if anything, huge. Like two flying towns going to war, at least. A small dogfight is handled easily. A one-on-one dogfight easily doable by assembling opposed rolls against characters skills (with mods and bods and whatever). 

 

(Interstellar) Starships are hundreds, more often thousands, of metres long. Hundreds, usually thousands, of crew members. People in command of the guns aren't expert marksmen, they're not even expert gun crewers, they're leaders. They're skilled in directing and training their teams/crews/slave-gangs/servitors.

The abstraction of BFG was a necessary part of what massive space battles are in 40k. Of couse, I doubt folks are looking for massive space battles in RT, so that's not an issue. The trouble is, from a human-eye perspective on the game, you can be having the space battles take hours, even days, to begin/complete/get underway/whatever.

Accurately representing 'details' of larger RT vessels would be an exercise in creating a small city. How many Mk XXXIV Plasma Cannons. What about the railguns, gravitic projectors, lascannons, plasma projectors, quake cannons etc? One need only look at the image of the Divine Right in the BFG rulebook (free to download in the SG section of the GW website) to see the utter oodles of guns on the damn thing. Fair enough, it's a sector flagship, but that's hardly the point. Even relatively tiny interstellar ships will have all manner of things bolted to them!

If I were to 'demand' anything about the RT space combat system, it'd be in hoping that it's a system which well represents the "In between" times. The bits between seeing an IG Drop Trooper army in 40kTT, or a Space Marine planetary assault in Epic Armageddon. The scouting sorties, the games of cat'n'mouse playing hide and seek throughout a star system before playing a game of Battlefleet Gothic. Making a daring escape in the midst of a battle where the battle itself is merely a 'setting', not something that's really actively changed or influenced by the players.

Actually, I like that. 'Battles' ought to be a setting, not something really 'enccapsulated' in the rules themselves. Small-scale combats [dogfights, escapes, bit-parts in boarding parties, orbit-planetary insertions etc] ought to be well represented, but I'd steer clear from proving 'handy statlines for starships'. Starships ought (IMO) to be more like cities than vehicles.

But then that might just be me...



#13 Maxim C. Gatling

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 10:29 AM

I think we can all agree the system needs to be very flexible and expandable.  That's the only way to satisfy both those who don't want to emphasize starship combat and those who are eagerly painting their BFG minis looking forward to it.

This IS Rogue Trader, so I don't think I'm too far off the mark when I suggest that a big part of the game will be wealth accumulation.  And what do you do with that wealth?  Upgrade your ship!  Buy more ships!  Upgrade them and have a big fleet....so you can kick more ass for the Emperor.  That's what Rogue Traders do primarily.

I can't really imagine a campaign (individual scenarios, sure...) but a campaign where starship combat isn't a ongoing concern.  Rogue Trader is going to take place primarily aboard a Starship.  Usually an ancient starship handed down from Captain to Captain and having a long history...so it makes every bit of sense that FFG should put some real time and effort into steering toward the Starship being the "most important" NPC of the game.

And again, I'm rather worried how all the players are going to be entertained if there's only one PC ship involved.



#14 Maxim C. Gatling

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Posted 11 March 2009 - 10:38 AM

Ok, I just read the Designer Diary and I'm a lot less concerned now.

Being an old-skool gamer, there's never been a game system written we didn't tweak the rules to our liking anyway.  It's just that the better it is to start with, the less work (tweaking) we have to do.



#15 Cynical Cat

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 10:32 AM

BFG is great, but it's a game of squadrons and fleets smashing against each other, not individual ships.  While the fluff elements of BFG will be present (lances, void shields, torpedoes, giant gun banks, immense ranges) the scale will be greatly reduced down to just handling a handful of ships in much greater detail.  That will reduce the level of abstraction and increase the level of detail, which is both fun and practical when you're dealing with one ship on each side instead of a twelve ship squadron engagement.



#16 Sammail

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 02:02 AM

Maxim C. Gatling said:

6. There should be a role for as many types of characters as possible, even if on the same (especially if on the same...) ship.  Some sort of RPG element and/or turn by turn decision making that keeps all players interested and that they are somehow affecting the outcome of the battle. 

 

Someone may already have replied to this, so sorry if I repeat what's already been said, but Star Wars Saga utilizes a fairly fast, space operatic system in which (most importantly) every character has a part to play onboard the fighting spacecraft. Pilots fly the rustbuckets, gunners shoot enemies, the guy at the space radar gives bonuses to others, the commander hands out tasks and adds further bonuses, and so on and so forth.

Something like that would be great to see in RT.



#17 Maxim C. Gatling

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:42 AM

Sammail said:

Maxim C. Gatling said:

 

6. There should be a role for as many types of characters as possible, even if on the same (especially if on the same...) ship.  Some sort of RPG element and/or turn by turn decision making that keeps all players interested and that they are somehow affecting the outcome of the battle. 

 

 

 

Someone may already have replied to this, so sorry if I repeat what's already been said, but Star Wars Saga utilizes a fairly fast, space operatic system in which (most importantly) every character has a part to play onboard the fighting spacecraft. Pilots fly the rustbuckets, gunners shoot enemies, the guy at the space radar gives bonuses to others, the commander hands out tasks and adds further bonuses, and so on and so forth.

Something like that would be great to see in RT.

the thing about 40k Space Combat is it's not "fast paced".  The gameplay might be, but one turn could represent 10-30 minutes of real time...or more.

One thing you would have to figure in, which would be really big in this game as opposed to others, is morale.  For instance, the Captain orders the Gunnery Commander to fire the left broadsides.  They will fire, but will they be accurate?  Fire quickly?  Will they be reloaded in time for the next order?  Morale is a big deal in 40k and it should be a big deal in RT, as well as crew experience.

What I'm getting at, is a Cleric character need not necessarily sit in his stateroom waiting for the battle to be over.  He could be on the Gunnery deck or Engineering cheering the crew on in the name of the Emperor and factoring into the outcome (however slight) of the battle.



#18 Maxim C. Gatling

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Posted 18 March 2009 - 07:54 AM

Cynical Cat said:

BFG is great, but it's a game of squadrons and fleets smashing against each other, not individual ships.  While the fluff elements of BFG will be present (lances, void shields, torpedoes, giant gun banks, immense ranges) the scale will be greatly reduced down to just handling a handful of ships in much greater detail.  That will reduce the level of abstraction and increase the level of detail, which is both fun and practical when you're dealing with one ship on each side instead of a twelve ship squadron engagement.

I quite agree and this is what I'm hoping for.  More even.  BFG dumbed down a lot of the original spaceship-oriented fluff and I'd like to see it make a comeback.

If my Rogue Trader lost his flagship after 3 dice rolls (d6, no less) in a BFG game, I would quickly sour.

I'm imagining a game where 2-3 ships per side, Cruiser or smaller, can bust it out in about an hour.  Or one huge ship per side.  Or one huge ship vs. 2-3 'medium' ships.  I think there should be the huge ships, sure.  But the emphasis should be on the smaller ships so you can have some depth and have as many chances for player interaction as possible.



#19 LeBlanc13

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 09:19 AM

BFG was never intended to be ship to ship combat though. If you take 2-3 cruisers out with some fighters and missles the game will be over too quickly. At the RPG level you have more opportunity for combat with smaller groups of ships like patrols and exploratory groups. This is where they have the opportunity to shine with rules to represent that. This is where you can come up with detailed rules over what's happening with fighters and how to deal with system failures, or weapons batteries being knocked out.

BFG was always intended to be at a MACRO level and not to get into the minutae of what's going on with each individual ship.

Now, I'm hoping with Rogue Trader we get some of the detail. This could be really good stuff. Each fighter counts, each missle fired can make a difference. Tactics could make a big differnce.

People in this game would think twice about ramming another ship when they could end up busting up their ride permanently.

 

 

 



#20 johnnype

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Posted 19 March 2009 - 12:22 PM

There is what I'd like and then there is reality. I agree in large part with the initial post but what he describes is a holy grail that I've yet to see anywhere (and believe me, I've looked). The game I've seen come closest is Lightning Strike (LS) by Dream Pod 9 based on their Jovian Chronicles setting. However, LS is a wargame when you get right down to it and although it's designed for fleet combat of 3 or 4 capital ships per side with supporting fighters and mecha, it is on a slightly different scale and would take some time to convert.

Anyhoo, getting back on topic, I feel like RPG companies have a phobia against space combat rules. I get the sense they don't want to bother with them which is too bad really. They probably think space combat rules have no place in a role playing game. I think they are wrong but that's just me.






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