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Maxim C. Gatling

Fighters and Bombers

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I'm extrapolating from the BFG rules, fluff, WD articles,etc.  It's a work in progress, so feel free to add/suggest etc.

There are 3 basic types of Attack Craft:  Fighters, Bombers and Assault Boats.

New Ship Components: 

Hangar Bay: Can launch 1 Squadron per Strategic Turn, can store 6 Squadrons.  I have to look it up, but the Space will be the same as a Macro Cannon Battery as they would replace them.  Will Edit tonight.

Basic Stats:

Fighter              Speed:16, Range 1, Strength *, Damage 1, Maneuverability +30, SP 1 (per Squadron)

Bomber            Speed: 12, Range 0, Strength *, Damage 1d10, Crit Rating 2, Maneuverability +20, SP 1 (per Squadron)

Assault Boat     Speed: 16, Range 0, Strength N/A, Damage Special, Maneuverability +15, SP 1 (per Squadron)

* A Squadron represents 4 individual Attack Craft.  Each craft is 1 Strength but the Squadron attacks as one unit, so a Squadron on a bombing run which has lost two Bombers would be Strength 2.

Squadrons may make 180 degree turns and are subject to all the piloting rolls normal ships are.  Bombers and Assault Boats may make 1 attack, Fighters may make 3, after which they must return to their mothership for refuelling/rearming.  Landing is a Routine (+10) Piloting Test.  Failing the test is...bad.  We'll figure out an entertaining chart for that later.

Combat

Damage: For most purposes, Attack Craft have 1 Hull Point, meaning any successful hit will take them out.  If you wish (I do) we can make an entertaining chart with more detailed damage results.  For most encounters the pilots will be NPC's and whether the ship is destroyed or has to limp back to base is inconsequential, but for salvage purposes roll a d10 for each "destroyed" Craft.  1-6 the Craft is destroyed, 7-10, the ship is damaged and can be salvaged.

Fighters Vs. Attack Craft: 

At any time a Fighter Squadron comes within 1 VU of an enemy Squadron, the attacker may either make an attack and veer off, or commence a dogfight.  Dogfighting places the attacking squadron within base contact of the enemy and it will move with the enemy until it makes 3 attacks, runs out of munitions and disengages, or one of the squadrons is destroyed.  An opposed role is made for each Squadron, (Piloting + BS) vs. (Piloting + Dodge).  The attacker destroys one enemy per level of success.   Alternatively, separate rolls can be made if one or more of the pilots is a PC or important NPC with higher skills than the standard pilot.

Fighters Vs. Ships:

Fighters, due to their miniscule damage, cannot penetrate Void Shields, and can only substantially damage the smallest and weakest armored ships.  They can, however make a run versus a ships Turrets. Usually, this is done in waves to prepare for a successful run by Bomber Squadrons. For every level of success, reduce the Turret's BS by 2 temporarily for the remainder of this and the next strategic turn.

Bombers and Assault Boats Vs. Attack Craft:

Similar to Fighters, but due to their weaker armament they suffer -15 to their Gunner's BS.  Truly, Bombers and Assault Boats rely on their own Fighters for protection.

Bombers Vs. Ships:

Bomber Squadrons leave their Motherships with orders to target a specific known component.  Once inside the enemy's Void Shields they drop their payloads of Melta and Plasma bombs to devastating effect.  Resolve hits against the target as normal.

Assault Boats Vs. Ships:

I haven't quite worked this one out, but each Assault Boat that makes base-to-base contact with an enemy ship carries out an immediate Hit-and-Run attack.  In BFG, there is no provision for getting back on the thing and making it home again...

Ships Vs. Assault Craft:

Ships may fire at Squadrons with their main armament provided the Squadron is over 2 VU away.  The Craft are small, fast and hard to hit, so the Ballistics test is Difficult (-20) with each level of success knocking out 1 Assault Craft.  For example, a Macro Cannon battery would have to score 4 levels of success to wipe out an entire squadron in one shot.

Turrets:  Turrets get one attack at each Squadron that comes within range (1 VU) per Strategic Turn.  It's a straight-up Ballistics test and each level of success knocks out 1 Assault Craft.  So, if 3 Squadrons of Bombers rake a Lunar Class Cruiser, the Cruiser gets 2 shots at each Squadron, since it has a Turret Rating of 2.  A lesser craft with no Turrets, could possibly suffer up to 12 1d10 hits with a very low crit rating...ouch.  Craft piloted by a PC are allowed a Piloting+Dodge test (+0) to avoid damage.

Ok.  Hope you liked those rules.  I purposely left out Torpedos as I'm waiting to see how Hellebore's rules come out.  But that should get us started.  Things I hope to add (or you to add/suggest) are perhaps some charts that are entertaining/more detailed for use when a PC is involved.  I don't like putting PC's in a "no way out" situation, but applying it to EVERY Assault Craft that gets shot up would bog the game down.

 

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I'm making a list of known types of Fighters/Bombers and assigning small bonuses/penalties to make them interesting and different from each other.  I don't have any of the Forge World books on the subject, so if I get the "feel" wrong on a ship, feel free to correct me.

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On Movement:

If you're using visual representations, there are 3 good ways to do this.  The important thing is space is a big place and each Squadron should be considered to occupy the same VU.

Mini's:  If you have Assault Craft minis, it looks more impressive to move four of them per Squadron, but they have to be in base contact and because most bases are about 1 VU wide, you should consider them all to actually occupy the space under the "Lead Ship".  It does make it easy to keep track of Squadron Damage as you simply remove a model as it is destroyed.

Abstract Minis:  Alternatively, you could use 1 model to represent the entire Squadron and use a d4 to keep track of Squadron losses.

Counters: There are counters representing Squadrons in the BFG material over at GW's Specialist site.  They work just fine and it's a free download.

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Ugg, how do I edit the OP?

Anyway, if we go by BFG, the speeds should be:

Fighters: 30

Bombers: 20

Assault Boats: 30

But RT uses inches, and BFG uses cm.  They'd be flying off the table left and right.  What is the theoretical maximum speed of the fastest ship in RT?

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There's also: pods; gunships; mining scows; cargo shuttles and landing craft. All of which should/could have modifications to use in combat, especially for a Rogue Trader (even if it's just for when s/he gets caught with her pants down).

Good stuff.

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Fighters

Fury (Imperial)         +3 BS, +3 Maneuverability

Barracuda (Tau)      +5 BS,

Swiftdeath (Chaos)   +1 Move, +3 Maneuverability

Darkstar (Eldar)  5 attacks available instead of 3

Ork Fighta-Bommas 2 attacks total, d10, Crit Rate: 3, no "Bomber penalty" for dogfighting.

 

Bombers

Starhawks (Imperial)  +3 Maneuverability

Avenger Torpedo Bombers (Imperial) Hmmm.....I'll have to think about this one....

Manta (Tau) +3 BS

Doomfire (Chaos) +1 Move

Eagle (Eldar)     Holofield, -10 to all Ballistics tests to hit an Eagle

 

Assault Boats

Shark (Imperial)  +2 Move

Dreadclaw (Chaos)  +5 Maneuverability

Thunderhawk (Space Marine)  Heavily Armored. When hit, roll a d10.  On a 10 the Craft is undamaged.

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MDMann said:

There's also: pods; gunships; mining scows; cargo shuttles and landing craft. All of which should/could have modifications to use in combat, especially for a Rogue Trader (even if it's just for when s/he gets caught with her pants down).

Good stuff.

Yes, of course!  I'm starting with the basics.  Basically the basics that have miniatures available for and are named somewhere in the Rules or old WD articles etc.

As you can see, if you like the basic rules here, it's really easy to include any interplanetary capable ship.  For instance, the "guncutter" which is described as a generic type of vessel could be a really small ship with 2-5 Hull points, 2 attacks  etc.  As long as you keep the damage under 2 or 3, you won't break the "Little craft can't hurt real ships" convention, cuz you'll never poke through their armor...but they can shoot down each other, bombers and torpedos...so they're dead useful.

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After reviewing the ship speeds in RT, I think the following default speeds for Attack Craft are most appropriate.  They should be able to catch all but the fastest, most modified small ships.

Fighters and Assault Boats: 16"

Bombers: 13"

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Maxim C. Gatling said:

Ugg, how do I edit the OP?

Anyway, if we go by BFG, the speeds should be:

Fighters: 30

Bombers: 20

Assault Boats: 30

But RT uses inches, and BFG uses cm.  They'd be flying off the table left and right.  What is the theoretical maximum speed of the fastest ship in RT?

For scale purposes, I've always found that 1cm = 1,000km works as a good approximate board scale (completely separate from the model scale) for Battlefleet Gothic. Rogue Trader's Void Units are listed as approximately 10,000km, which would equate to about 10cm on a BFG board.

Of course, the listed ranges in the book don't quite match up with their equivalent values in BFG, and a Rogue Trader turn on starship scale is about twice as long as a single turn of Battlefleet Gothic, but it's a neat little baseline figure to start with...

Now, with the difference in turn length, and the rough scales listed... ordnance moves twice per game turn in BFG (once in your Ordnance Phase, once in your opponent's), so 4 times every half hour... 30cm BFG board scale is about 3VU...

Torpedoes: Speed 12

Tau Missiles: Speed 8-16

Fighters: Speed 12

Bombers: Speed 8

Assault Boats: Speed 12

Beyond that, a speed 15cm attack craft from BFG (like some of the Tyranid ones) would be speed 6 in RT, and a speed 25cm attack craft (Tau Barracudas, Ork Fighta-Bombers) would be Speed 10 in RT, at least by these extremely rough calculations.

Those calculations, however, are fairly close, if a little low, when compared to the ship speeds (20cm speed for a Lunar-class cruiser in BFG, 2 moves per half hour, works out at Speed 4 in RT, the one in the rulebook has Speed 5; 25cm for a Dauntless or Sword in BFG, works out as 5VU by my calculations, is 7 and 8 respectively in the rulebook). Increase them by about 20%... Torpedoes, Fighters and Assault Boats end up with Speed 14, while Bombers end up at Speed 10.

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That's close to what I got 2 posts up.  While 14/10 might be more technically accurate, Bombers would have a hard time catching...almost anything.  That's why I went with 16/12.

In the "Spirit of the Law" (i.e. BFG) Bombers are supposed to deliver a long-range attack, which would be hard to do when most ships under Cruiser size can outrun them.

I'm going to try a couple playtests with both speeds and I'll let you know which one I think works best.

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The only thing i'd add is that the actual number of ships seems very low.  In BFG we were talking about 100s or 1000s of craft from cruiser-carriers and battleships.

I'd also make launch bays the same size as macrobattery broadsides, after all, in BFG many of the ships either have broadside *2, Hanger  *2 or broadside *1 and hanger *1.

 

I'll have to have a few mock runs with these rules but i like them so far.

 

I love the image of a huge battleship launching thousands of small attack craft, reminds of the Cylon basestars in the new BSG.  Hordes and hordes of fighters.

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Gribble_the_Munchkin said:

The only thing i'd add is that the actual number of ships seems very low.  In BFG we were talking about 100s or 1000s of craft from cruiser-carriers and battleships.

I'd be curious to know where you are getting your figures from. The only source I know of that gives an exact number of craft is the novel Execution Hour: the captain of a Dictator class cruiser comments on the 104 craft that it carries. That includes the bomber and fighter squadrons plus a smattering of specialised atmospheric attack craft.

DW

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Traveller61 said:

 

Gribble_the_Munchkin said:

 

The only thing i'd add is that the actual number of ships seems very low.  In BFG we were talking about 100s or 1000s of craft from cruiser-carriers and battleships.

 

 

I'd be curious to know where you are getting your figures from. The only source I know of that gives an exact number of craft is the novel Execution Hour: the captain of a Dictator class cruiser comments on the 104 craft that it carries. That includes the bomber and fighter squadrons plus a smattering of specialised atmospheric attack craft.

DW

 

 

Ok, Good point.  According to BFG, a Dictator Class has 4 Hangar Bays.  With the figure of 104 total craft, that equates to 6 Squadrons of 4 per Hangar Bay.

I like the idea of changing the Hangar/Launch bay Space to match Macro Cannon Batteries too.  That's the way the miniatures are set up.

As for BFG, they tend to make it sound grandiose without giving specifics.  After all, Attack Craft are treated like Ordinance and BFG design isn't intended to make you keep track of "Ammunition".

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Now you've asked me for a source i'm damned if i can find it. Just gone through my BFG books and as Maxim C. Gatling says they tend to avoid specifics while making it sound grand.

The figure i recall and now can't find a reference for is 2000 ships total and i'm thinking it was an Emperor class battleship. It was certainly supposed to be the uppermost limit for imperial ships.

If a Dictator has 104 craft and BFG states it has 4 launch bays total, then an Emperor with 8 bays should have around 200 craft. Which is somewhat off from my figure.

 

What i would more compare it to is a Gerald Ford class supercarrier that the US navy is building. These hold about 75 aircraft and are 333 metres in length. 

Given the size of a average cruiser (about 5000 metres) i'd imagine at the very least we'd be looking at maybe the equivalent of 2 Gerald Ford Classes per side. For about 300 small craft.  That would still only occupy 700 odd metres of the ships length. On something like an Emperor class battleship we'd expect double that or about 600 craft. Still shy of my 2000, but also now reaching the heights of epic awesomeness.

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Gribble_the_Munchkin said:

 

What i would more compare it to is a Gerald Ford class supercarrier that the US navy is building. These hold about 75 aircraft and are 333 metres in length. 

Given the size of a average cruiser (about 5000 metres) i'd imagine at the very least we'd be looking at maybe the equivalent of 2 Gerald Ford Classes per side. For about 300 small craft.  That would still only occupy 700 odd metres of the ships length. On something like an Emperor class battleship we'd expect double that or about 600 craft. Still shy of my 2000, but also now reaching the heights of epic awesomeness.

Remember that we're not dealing with atmospheric fighters of comparable size to those used today (though Imperial Navy cruisers with launch bays do carry such craft), but rather with anti-starship bombers and extra-atmospheric voidfighters, suggested to be approximately the size of a Boeing 747 (the Fury Interceptors apparently mount "several banks of forward-firing lascannons and missile bays" and are supposed to have several crew, including servitors slaved to the guns). The difference in mass (and thus the difference in internal volume needed to support such craft) is significant enough to drastically reduce the number of attack craft that the vessel can carry.

Further to a point touched upon above, the Fury Interceptors, Starhawk Bombers, and Shark Assault Boats the Imperial Navy use are far from the only craft aboard. Atmospheric craft are carried as well (Thunderbolts, Lightnings and Marauders all have the ability to operate in the void, but aren't dedicated void-craft), beyond the scores of non-combat craft, all of which will take up space (both in the sense of their mass, and in the sense of the extra room given over to their maintenance and deployment)

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I've been reading a lot from BFG and elsewhere for a consensus, as sources vary.

Fighters, while bigger than modern fighters, still aren't "huge".  Usually a crew of 1-3.  Bombers, are quite large with crews from the 5-10 range.  Like modern day, you have fighters like the F-22, bombers like the B-42 but only the Orks have Fighter-Bombers.

Going through various sources, for example the Forge World BFG models, it seems most races have both atmospheric and non-atmospheric versions of the same vehicle. The Tau, and Eldar for example.  So you KNOW by the size of the models exactly how big the craft is, and comparatively how big similar craft fulfilling  the same roles for different races would be.   

Also, several have different configurations such as the Thunderhawk.  One configuration could be considered an Assault Boat, another could be considered a Guncutter.

This is all great feedback and I'm taking it into consideration this weekend as I revise and refine my homebrew Assault Craft rules.

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Gribble_the_Munchkin said:

Now you've asked me for a source i'm damned if i can find it. Just gone through my BFG books and as Maxim C. Gatling says they tend to avoid specifics while making it sound grand.

The figure i recall and now can't find a reference for is 2000 ships total and i'm thinking it was an Emperor class battleship. It was certainly supposed to be the uppermost limit for imperial ships.

If a Dictator has 104 craft and BFG states it has 4 launch bays total, then an Emperor with 8 bays should have around 200 craft. Which is somewhat off from my figure.

 

What i would more compare it to is a Gerald Ford class supercarrier that the US navy is building. These hold about 75 aircraft and are 333 metres in length. 

Given the size of a average cruiser (about 5000 metres) i'd imagine at the very least we'd be looking at maybe the equivalent of 2 Gerald Ford Classes per side. For about 300 small craft.  That would still only occupy 700 odd metres of the ships length. On something like an Emperor class battleship we'd expect double that or about 600 craft. Still shy of my 2000, but also now reaching the heights of epic awesomeness.

It sounds like a blast, but we do have to think about Game Balance here! 

2000 does sound grandiose and 40k-ish, but it would be unwieldy in an RPG for a couple reasons.  I see why they discribe them thus, as they're shooting for epic awesomeness and they don't want BFG players to have to keep track of how many Small Craft are aboard any specific ship, but it's not too realistic.  BFG has limits as to how many Squadrons each ship can have out at a time, but if you had a swarm of 2000 fighters and bombers you could take out Capital Ships quite easy, which goes against the grain and spirit of the game.  They should be useful multipurpose weapons, but not the not the equivalent or replacement for a solid broadside of MacroCannon or Lance batteries.

We, on the other hand, are dealing with Players, who should be keeping track of how many assault craft they have, what types and should be worried about how much it costs to replace them.  If your characters are rich enough to have a Dictator Class Battlecruiser with 104 Assault Craft aboard, and your players complain about how they should be able to fit more, then perhaps their spoiled whining should fall upon deaf GM ears!

I'm devising a scheme where a Hangar Bay will hold "X" points worth of Small Craft, and each type of Small Craft would occupy "X" points.  For example, a Fighter might occupy 1 point whereas a Bomber might occupy 3 and Guncutters could occupy 4-5 because they're bigger.  Like I said, I'm revising the rules here, but the example of the Dictator having just over 100 craft is turning out to be very good in respect to game balance even when scaled down to smaller Ships, so I'm leaning heavily toward it.

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Maxim C. Gatling said:

We, on the other hand, are dealing with Players, who should be keeping track of how many assault craft they have, what types and should be worried about how much it costs to replace them.

Ye gods, no.  Fiddly accounting is nothing I want in my game.  Small craft strength ought to be tracked with a nice abstract system akin to the way crew population and morale is handled, and replacements/repair handled via acquisition tests and the long-term repair rules (for rebuilds).  If the players really want to know how many individual craft are represented by a point of "flight strength" that should be a DM call tailored to suit his own game. 

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Argoden said:

Maxim C. Gatling said:

We, on the other hand, are dealing with Players, who should be keeping track of how many assault craft they have, what types and should be worried about how much it costs to replace them.

 

Ye gods, no.  Fiddly accounting is nothing I want in my game.  Small craft strength ought to be tracked with a nice abstract system akin to the way crew population and morale is handled, and replacements/repair handled via acquisition tests and the long-term repair rules (for rebuilds).  If the players really want to know how many individual craft are represented by a point of "flight strength" that should be a DM call tailored to suit his own game. 

Quite right too. The macrocannon batteries already introduce plentiful abstraction to the accounting, for instance. One battery could account for dozens of individual 'anti starship' weapons, alternatively it could be a lone Ordinatus-esque weapon or hundreds of much smaller things (or a combination of the above as one might expect of Orky guns).

Similarly with Attack Craft squadrons, I'd be much happier seeing a suitable degree of abstraction kept, wherein the mechanics for dealing with damage to squadrons isn't completely linked to their minutiae details. Important variable aspects of ordnance should be characteristics, so things like:
- Squadron skill
- Speed
- Vulnerability & Manoeuverability (a combined rating? Torpedoes, one might expect to be very low, Fighters very high)
- Damage capacity/sustained
- Critical threshold(s) for when damage impacts effectiveness or ressurectability
- Strength of weapons (Attack: Anti-starship, Attack: Anti-ordnance, Defence, Boarding, 'Special')

That sort of thing. Then you could tinker with the details, but the basic effects and variability of them should be fairly-well standardised.

Boarding, for instance, would reflect the capacity of Assault Boats and Boarding Torpedoes to conduct a H&R attacl.

A final suggestion is to keep things close to starship mechanics where possible, not to simply go the BFG route and 'Marker' everything. We're at a level of detail (IMO) where 'Markering' things like fighters shouldn't be done.

 

With regards to size? Given that FFG have already exagerrated the scale beyond BFG/BLP trends (Execution Hour: Imperial cruisers are 3.5km, Cadian Blood: 4km), I'm very content to see the numbers of individual vehicles in a squadron being bumped up (to the order of tens, at least) and/or the size of the vehicles being rammed up too (much bigger than 747s).

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