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Poindexter421

Get to the Choppa! (Problems with PC ship obsession)

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My PCs love ships. LOVE them, for one big reason: They like to hop into ships and shoot everything, mainly NPCs. Let me set the scene:

 

A ship is docked next to an old temple, stormtroopers are loading equipment onto the ship and PC's goal is to stop them for obtaining the equipment and investigate the temple. Of course, they want to steal the shuttle and shoot all the poor troopers with the guns. This is basically the standard operating procedure of my PCs. There's a NPC threat, they look for the nearest ship to hop in it and rain the pain onto NPCs. They've wiped out squads of minions, rival bounty hunters, etc. 

 

I got wise to their game, and in the instance above, i had them trying to splice the computer via a Nemesis opposed roll and leveraged dark side points to keep them from using the ship too much. It ended up being the hardest session in 10-session campaign so far. The PCs got their a***s handed to them by the assassin droid who owned the ship. 

 

How do you deal with PCs stealing ships? And, more importantly, how do you nerf the strategy of hopping in any available ship and taking out the planned opposition without being too heavy handed?

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All good suggestions - i did use a remote shutdown last game. Locked one of the PCs in the cockpit while the Nemesis took potshots at him (almost killed him). 

 

I guess this also speaks to the fact that sometimes as the GM, i feel overwhelmed by the players and can't quite get the balance right. What i think will be challenging they blow through and what i think isn't, they have trouble with. Often times, i feel "outplayed" by four players working together. Not that i'm a confrontational GM, just the opposite, but my group has evolved from never playing an RPG to knowing how it works and how to leverage their skills and talents. They expect to succeed everytime, and picking and choosing what they don't succeed at generates a little tension. Nothing table-breaking, but i've just never actually campaigned this long and the ship aspect of the game is one that they are starting to latch on to as a universal solution. 

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Most ships are simply not going to have remote shutdown that can override the onboard controls because slicing can happen. The rules give us a remote starter, but I seriously doubt that it cant be overridden by an onboard pilot.

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For instance, with the troopers loading cargo, a despair equals the cargo being hit and destroyed. If the ship being loaded has turbolasers, have them shoot back. With a destroyed cargo and shots being fired back the party will lose money in repairs.

Don't let the party repair hull anyplace but the proper facilities.

As to the temple, a despair sets of an alarm sealing the temple. If two or three despairs are rolled, a star destroyer jumps in system.

As for stealing ships, tracking and boobytraps set by bounty hunters. Or imperials.

Throw in fighters, which if you have the squad rules can aid the survivability of a adversary or nemesis pilot.

If the party is known for stealing ships, go for it. Have them steal from the wrong people. A bounty on their head will limit what they can do.

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Let the players encounter a fanatic and really bored imperial officer with a small fleet when they leave the planets orbit. The Imperials scan their ship, finds out it's stolen, and skips procedure to hail them and board them for "questioning" and instead lock weapons and blast them into oblivion.

 

Or have their enemies steal their ships. Or use the same tactic against them, let the enemies have a few starfighters to come to the rescue. If this is their standard tactic, surely their enemies have heard about this procedure and are now using decoys and countermeasures of their own.

Or stand by waiting with Surface-to-Air-missiles hidden when they next expect the PCs and their ship.

 

 

Also, as kaosoe said, I'm also surprised that you still use a lot of encounters in open air. 

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How do you deal with PCs stealing ships? And, more importantly, how do you nerf the strategy of hopping in any available ship and taking out the planned opposition without being too heavy handed?

 

Oooh, how about their personal nemesis getting wise to this strategy and setting a trap for them. "Oh look, here's a shuttle with a whole bunch of troopers standing around, just waiting to be stolen!"

 

Pity that the ship was rigged with autopilot controls to return to the Star Destroyer in orbit once the ship was powered up again. . . .

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A smart ship thief isn't stealing from their personal nemesis. In fact, if they're smart they do their best not to have a personal nemesis.

 

A thief should always be trying to stay under the radar. It may not seem heroic, but it can be a fun way to play on occasin.

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I guess this also speaks to the fact that sometimes as the GM, i feel overwhelmed by the players and can't quite get the balance right. What i think will be challenging they blow through and what i think isn't, they have trouble with. Often times, i feel "outplayed" by four players working together. Not that i'm a confrontational GM, just the opposite, but my group has evolved from never playing an RPG to knowing how it works and how to leverage their skills and talents. They expect to succeed everytime, and picking and choosing what they don't succeed at generates a little tension. Nothing table-breaking, but i've just never actually campaigned this long and the ship aspect of the game is one that they are starting to latch on to as a universal solution. 

 

This is probably the bigger issue.

 

Sit them down and chat with them.  Yes, they want to participate in a great story that highlights their characters.  They may not also realize that losing on occasion helps build dramatic tension.  Manage their expectations.  If not, they may eventually grow bored.

 

Then try and hit them with both barrels in a fun and exciting manner.  Keep in mind that this system is less lethal than most.  Have the villains looking to have other goals in fights other than killing all the PCs and you should be fine.  Just don't be vindictive or vengeful about past issues.  Keep the greater story in mind.

 

Make sure they win in the end and have a blast and they may eventually come around.  This may take an entire chronicle, story arc, or chapter but make sure they feel that they were truly victorious.

 

This may cause friction at first.  Talk it out.

 

You can tweak a lot of game instances on the fly if you need to.  Have reasons why a vessel would be a bad move or less than optimal, but if this attitude is never tempered with a bit of understanding on their part you may become burnt out or stop enjoying yourself.  Everyone at the table needs to have fun, and that includes the GM.

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If there's a transport with cargo being loaded, chances are there're also some TIE fighters nearby to protect it.  If the PCs start strafing your helpless stormtroopers as they load the transport, have a squadron or two of TIEs suddenly show up on their sensors :)

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Your doing well mate, PC's are always out to do something you wouldnt expect. How bout the imperials start catching on to what you players aredoing, so now as a safety precaution all imperial ships that are docked, have some form of security measurements. For the more tech savvy planets, fingerprint scanners and ID tag stuff, but for other planets like tattoine or Kashyyk maybe Imperial Snipers and patrols to make sure no strange events are about to take place.

 

Also I had the same problem once, in my beginner box game for edge of the empire, whilst near the later stage of the game, the Pc's witnessed a lambda shuttle landing in one of the landing docks and offloading a couple of stormtroopers.So what did they do? Well nothing more than stealth through tattoine,make their way tothe shuttle and stumble across an imperial lieutenant in the lambda with his stormtrooper pilot, they threw stun grenades at them both, took the lieutenant hostage and tried to take the lambda shuttle, instead of following the adventure and stealing a smuggler yt 1300. I got creative and as they were about to lift off, they broke the ship, because they forgot to disable the docks maglocks on the landing gear. Now of course for my first time running the game, this was all a little bit much for me to handle, and I had to take a small break to think of what I should do, but all went well and the players eventually ended up stealing the smugglers ship and throwing the owner out through the boarding doors whilst flying through the planets atmosphere.

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Maybe, give them what they want.  It sounds like you have a set of no good ship rustlers on the loose.  Have their benefactor notice they have a tendency to take nearby ships.  Make acquiring the ship part of the job.  Now you have a reason to throw more challenges at them in the acquisition of the ship because you are now planing for it.

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The controls are locked with "the Club". The ship's owners are cheap SOBs and the fuel gage is on empty. There's someone else (shipjacker, repo man) already onboard stealing the ship when they slip onboard. The ship's computer says "I'm sorry Dave I can't do that" and floods the cockpit with gas. There's a mynock that just ate through the last power coupling. The starter motor or whatever is missing and there's a note reading "dear Quark I borrowed the starter to fix the fresher. Hope you don't mind. Rom". Or there a small plaque on the command console that reads "property of Boba Fett". Is it your fault they didn't notice it before they boosted the ship?

Edited by GrimmSqueeker

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First I love the title of this thread LMAO!

 

Regarding stealing ships, maybe some creative/lethal security systems are in order. Security lockouts with pass codes, linked to ship traps, poison gas, hidden turrets, mines and explosives and such. Some old school D&D knowledge may come in handy here. Some un-obvious latent traps might work. Lets say your group steals an Imperial ship you could have a silent alarm trigger a program in the nav-computer, everything seems fine when the group jumps to hyperspace the ship takes them to closest imperial facility instead. This may make the old lets grab a ship quick option a lot less appealing.

 

Edited by cyberknightsteve

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A smart ship thief isn't stealing from their personal nemesis. In fact, if they're smart they do their best not to have a personal nemesis.

 

A thief should always be trying to stay under the radar. It may not seem heroic, but it can be a fun way to play on occasion.

 

 

And don't steal from anyone famous or bounty hunters unless you have someone good at finding and removing tracking devices handy. I remember one time where the party got warped to an alternate timeline where R2 and 3P0 never reached Tatooine so the Empire eventually found and destroyed Yavin IV while Alliance HQ was still there.

 

To escape that timeline's Tatooine we decided to steal a few Imperial ships from a small spaceport. Boba Fett was in the area and for reasons we never discovered using Slave II, a Pursuer enforcement ship at this time. One of our PCs owned a Pursuer in the campaign's main timeline so he decided to add Slave II to the ships to steal list, over my character's objections IIRC. We steal the ships fly to Dagobah and start working out how to organize a new Rebel Alliance. We were planning to use Dagobah as a base but no one checked Slave II for trackers, or missed any it had until Fett led a merc and Imperial strike fleet to us, which we barely got away from losing Slave II in the process.

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The ship's owners are cheap SOBs and the fuel gage is on empty.

 

Even better - the fuel gage is 7/8th full - juuuuuust enough to get them into orbit and strand them there (if you're feeling generous) or slightly more - enough to get them into hyperspace for 30 seconds, dropping them out and well away from any civilized port to die a slow and agonizing death. . . . well, until the ship owner (and his well armed friends) come looking for their stolen ride.

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"No campaign survives first contact with the players."

 

I haven't run any of the new Star Wars game, but I have run a lot of others, and have found the above to be the universal truth.  The more 'high tech' the setting, the more ways the players have to think around the bad guys.  I have no quick-n-easy fix for it; you just have to toss in a few more troublesome details to make life interesting.  The PC's are heroes after all; if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

 

This thread is loaded with neat ideas.  I'll add a few more, but cation that you want to make life interesting for the heroes, not kill them:

  • Its been said: why leave a ship unguarded and empty when you can have a very loyal droid on board locking it down?
  • Trap the ship.  It will be a blast when the pilot discovers the controls are nothing more than switches with blinking lights that aren't attached to anything in the ship; the autopilot/remote control, however, works just fine.
  • Have a mission where they player have to accomplish something with a bunch of civilians around.  Freeing a prisoner being paraded around town, with the local population is forced to watch in the streets sound good.  Sure, the players can blast the crap out of the imperials, but every missed shot will lay waste to the civilians, and if that doesn't rack up dark side tokens for the GM, I don't know what will.
  • Combat should have a reason, but removal of the bad guys doesn't have to be the sole reason.  The players have to rescue some one from the middle of a war zone, with a never-ending supply of bad guys swarming in while the heroes slice the door to the man's cage.  Warn the heroes that heavy (such as mounted on a ship) weapons will alert the enemy head quarters, who will send a TIE squadron to strafe the whole place.  I would give them a number of rounds, so they can use ships if they want, just with a time limit

Hope these help

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The ship's owners are cheap SOBs and the fuel gage is on empty.

 

Even better - the fuel gage is 7/8th full - juuuuuust enough to get them into orbit and strand them there (if you're feeling generous) or slightly more - enough to get them into hyperspace for 30 seconds, dropping them out and well away from any civilized port to die a slow and agonizing death. . . . well, until the ship owner (and his well armed friends) come looking for their stolen ride.

 

 

Unless the designer of the ship model in question is the village idiot of the Village of Shipwrights a hyperdrive equipped ship with a fuel tank 7/8ths full should have plenty of fuel to reach any reasonable destination. Even a fuel tank 1/8th full should be plenty to reach another inhabited system. And of course anyone stealing a ship would almost certainly check the fuel gauge before takeoff if they have half a brain.

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I'd say that if the PC (ship-jacker) has the skills, let him steal the ship. Having said that in my Star Wars ships, especially starships are code-protected. It means that if you don't have the codes you need to hack the ship's computers to steal it. Perhaps you've read Stephen R.Donaldson's Gap Cycle (the first 3 books are excellent) you'll see when I got it from. And like in those books cracking the ship codes is a difficult, time-consuming process. Depending on the owner and the ship I'd say at least hours long, making it almost impossible to do during a firefight, without any preparation.

 

Naturally, entering the codes also requires time (but minutes/rounds) - that's why you can't immediately take off. Remember 'R2, prep the ship for take off, I'll be right there!'.

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