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HappyDaze

Changing the Pilot Skill Groups (and Shipwise)

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I've decided that I'm going to redefine the Pilot Skill Groups for my game.  Here's what I intend to use:

Pilot (Personal): Use with jetpacks.

Pilot (Small Craft): Use with fighters, bombers, shuttles, guncutters, etc.

Pilot (Starship): Use with starships.

In Character Creation and Advancement, all cases of Pilot (Flyer) should be replaced with Pilot (Small Craft) and all cases of Pilot (Space Craft) should be replaced with Pilot (Starship).  For actions using the Pilot skill, substitue the Skill Group appropriate to the vehicle used.

I have also altered the Shipwise feature of the Void Born Home World a bit:

Shipwise: Birthed in the depths of a voidfaring craft, the void born have a natural affinity for such vehicles.  As a result, Navigation (Stellar) (Int), Pilot (Small Craft) (Ag), Pilot (Starship) (Ag), and Trade (Voidfarer) (Ag) are untrained Basic Skills (instead of Advanced Skills) for void born characters.

I added the Trade (Voidfarer) (Ag) to the package after reading the description of the skill and thinking, "Almost every void born should know a bit about this skill."

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If you want to break Starships out from fighter/bombers then do so.  I wouldn't lump space bound fighters/bombers in the same category as atmospheric craft.

So you should keep Pilot(Flyers) and just add a Pilot(Starships), and leave Pilot(Space craft) as anything smaller than a freighter/raider hull (or say anything crewed by 3 or fewer people, etc)

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From what I've seen, there are few atmospheric craft in WH40Kthat are unable to transition to exoatmospheric operation, thus the Small Craft division covering both aircraft and spacecraft.  There may be a few examples, but they are certainly in the minority - much like examples from the Primitive weapon groups.

Note too that many (perhaps most) models described as Flyers in WH40K are capable of operating in the Void.  Does this make them Flyers or Space Craft under the rules in the book?  My system really just renames them as Small Craft and Starship to avoid some of the fuzzyness of the current terms.

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Depending on the technology level of the planet, there could very well be lots of aircraft that cannot leave the atmosphere.  Think of a mid-technological society like we have today.  It also requires a lot more time, effort, and money to build aircraft capable of operating in both.  So, I'm sure on many worlds, even higher tech worlds, there are quite a few atmosphere-only transports and pleasure craft (and work craft like helicopters, lifters, etc).  I think you need to retain a class of atmosphere-only vehicles.

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The Imperium doesn't generally work on what's sensible to us - if they can build something that flies, chances are it can go into space too.  Even if a particular craft is limited to one environment or the other, it's controls are likely very close to the Imperial standards that are used in both atmospheric and exoatmospheric craft.  Craft built upon primitive worlds not uising Imperial Standards are an exception and a Pilot (Primitive Flyer) wouldn't be out of line for craft built on such tech.

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Well, do what you want, of course.  There was a reason that the rules separate out atmospheric craft from space craft, because they handle differently and there are worlds where very few pilots get to go into space or pilot spacefaring craft (since the majority are atmospheric).  If your 40k universe doesn't do those, then your changes fit right in with how you play I guess. I guess every local crop duster knows how to pilot a space-borne fighter or bomber.  <shrug>

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You mean like Luke Skywalker? happy.gif

If so, I'd like to point out that I consider the WH40K world much closer to Star Wars than to anything like our reality.

Using the divisions they give in the book, what skill would be used to operate a fighter/bomber/shuttle that is capable of operating both in atmosphere and in space?  Would you use Pilot (Flyer) or Pilot (Spacecraft)?  Would you need both, or would you need either depending on which medium you're operating in?

To avoid these issues, I want the skill to be hardwired to the craft you're operating rather than the medium.  If a craft requires the Pilot (Flyer) skill then that is all that it will ever use.  Likewise for Pilot (Spacecraft).  However, if we do that with the given divisions, the guy that operates a cruiser in the void can also fly a starfighter down in the atmosphere and that's why I seperate Small Craft and Starships - I see operating an atmospheric figher and a void-capable fighter as being far more similar to one another than operating a void-capable fighter and a Lunar-class cruiser.

You'll also note that Pilot (Personal) doesn't care if your rocket pack is used in an atmosphere or not - only the conveyance itself is considered in this category.  I can claim it as a precedent since I don't really feel a need to seperate aerospace vehicle skills by air/space divisions.  Sure, one fighter my be atmospher-bound and another may be incapable of atmospheric operations, but they still require the same general skills to operate in the WH40K world where skills are usually fairly generalized - Drive (Ground Vehicle) being a prime example in that it covers tracked and wheeled combat and non-combat vehicles as well as bikes and presumably anything else that makes contact with the ground via anything other than legs.

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Using the divisions they give in the book, what skill would be used to operate a fighter/bomber/shuttle that is capable of operating both in atmosphere and in space? Would you use Pilot (Flyer) or Pilot (Spacecraft)? Would you need both, or would you need either depending on which medium you're operating in?

The latter. Oh so definitely the latter.

Just think about how much gravity and aerodynamics define aerial combat.

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Did I miss it or is there a skill (or skill group) necessary for firing Starship weapons?

I can't believe that just because I have a Ballistic Skill and am a crack shot with a Laspistol that it directly translates into Macro Cannons...yet I can't fire a Heavy Bolter without extreme penalty.

Did I miss that skill?  I'm hoping it's just me...

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HappyDaze said:

You didn't miss it.  I'm not sure why they did it the way they did, but it appears that anyone can just use pure BS to direct starship weaponry with no penalties.  And that's just pure BS.

Wow.  That's a load of pure BS.  Hey, Ma! Lookit!  I kin shewt a Marco Cannun!  I can't shewt a Bolt Pistol fer a few levuls but....

I won't be letting my players off the hook like that.  Time for some "new skillz"....

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I expect the reason is so that starship gunnery:

a) always has someone that can do it

b) characters that don't have anything they can help with during starship actions can at least shoot the guns

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Maxim C. Gatling said:

HappyDaze said:

 

You didn't miss it.  I'm not sure why they did it the way they did, but it appears that anyone can just use pure BS to direct starship weaponry with no penalties.  And that's just pure BS.

 

 

 

Macrobatteries fill an area the size of a small country and its attendant airspace with energy/projectiles, over distances so great that you can't physically see your target and are reliant on your ship's Augurs to aim for you, in the hopes of landing a few shots on target. Lances are aimed by sophisticated augury systems, once again against targets so distant that there's likely to be a 1-2 second delay between firing and hitting, even with speed-of-light directed energy weapons, whom you still cannot see with your own two eyes. In either case, I can't honestly see how proficiency or lack thereof significantly impacts accuracy as it does with personal firearms.

The choice of Ballistic Skill (as opposed to, say, Intelligence), seems more a concession towards the broad idea that Ballistic Skill simply represents your ability to shoot things and thus lets the gun-toting maniacs amongst a group still enjoy their favourite hobby while aboard a starship.

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I'm inclined to agree, but I don't think it unreasonable to make the player who is the "Gunnery Officer" spend 100-300 EXP on a skill that allows him to fire the big guns without penalty.

Indeed what you described is akin to telling a MLRS operator that firing a MLRS salvo uses the same skill set as firing an M16.  I'm sure he would beg to differ.  I have no problem with the Gun-Toting Maniac (my group has one...) being the gunner...as long as he's trained on the equipment.  This is the Dark Age of Technology, after all and it goes against the grain and spirit of the entire genre saying that anyone can fire Starship weapons.  If just anyone can push the "Big Red Button", that again begs the question of "What does BS have to do with it then?!?"

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Maxim C. Gatling said:

I have no problem with the Gun-Toting Maniac (my group has one...) being the gunner...as long as he's trained on the equipment.

I think, then, that it might be wise to assume that anyone who actually engages in firing such weapons (on a ship with an NPC crew in the tens of thousands, or amongst a group of player characters who all seem entirely at home on starships) is already proficient in their use - because they wouldn't be firing the weapons otherwise.

Personally, I'm more than willing to accept this. One problem with a lot of RPGs with space combat is that it can very easily exclude players because they've chosen to focus their efforts in places other than the use of starships, and thus when a space battle comes along, those players end up just sitting and watching while the pilot characters get to have all the fun. I'd rather see a concession made to allow everyone to contribute effectively in a space battle, than to sideline players for the sake of 'realism'.

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N0-1_H3r3 said:

One problem with a lot of RPGs with space combat is that it can very easily exclude players because they've chosen to focus their efforts in places other than the use of starships, and thus when a space battle comes along, those players end up just sitting and watching while the pilot characters get to have all the fun. I'd rather see a concession made to allow everyone to contribute effectively in a space battle, than to sideline players for the sake of 'realism'.

I think this really is the crux of it. They wanted to make sure characters like the Arch Militant or even the lowly Astropath, who had not taken any ship action oriented skills could still participate in ship actions. Thus, gunnery became a catch-all, since everyone has a BS (even a generally reasonable BS with 25+2d10 to start).  I'm fine with it.  If you wanted to add a skill for ship gunnery, I'd give a +10 or something similar instead of only allowing gunnery with the skill.

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Maxim C. Gatling said:

HappyDaze said:

 

You didn't miss it.  I'm not sure why they did it the way they did, but it appears that anyone can just use pure BS to direct starship weaponry with no penalties.  And that's just pure BS.

 

 

Wow.  That's a load of pure BS.  Hey, Ma! Lookit!  I kin shewt a Marco Cannun!  I can't shewt a Bolt Pistol fer a few levuls but....

I won't be letting my players off the hook like that.  Time for some "new skillz"....

Sure you can shoot a macrocannon, you're not 'shooting' it per se but using your knowledge of ballistics and ranged combat to direct its fire. You might have a high BS and know where to shoot a bolt pistol but not be familiar with the grip, weighting, kickback and so on so you're ineffective with it, but in ship combat all you have to do is advise directions and tactics whilst the dozens of ordnance-adepts and hundreds of ratings spend the next half-hour turning your directions into reality.

 

Admittedly there are still going to be differences in how you apply your ballistics and tactical knowledge to giant ships, but you're rogue traders- you /probably/ know, and it's better to make everybody have the ability to than have two or three people elect not to take it to spend more points on ground-level war and sit on their hands when it moves to space.

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To everyone that is making the argument that playability demands that starship gunnery not require a buy-in Skill or Talent:

Why?  Why does piloting the ship require a buy-in?  Why does reading the sensors require a buy-in?  Why does reading/writing require a buy-in?  Everything in the game except gunnery requires a buy-in, but what makes shooting/directing the fire of the ship's guns so much more inherent that it shouldn't require a buy-in?

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HappyDaze said:

To everyone that is making the argument that playability demands that starship gunnery not require a buy-in Skill or Talent:

Why?  Why does piloting the ship require a buy-in?  Why does reading the sensors require a buy-in?  Why does reading/writing require a buy-in?  Everything in the game except gunnery requires a buy-in, but what makes shooting/directing the fire of the ship's guns so much more inherent that it shouldn't require a buy-in?

I think people are explaining why, not saying that 'playability demands'.  It's because it is an action that can be performed by multiple people in the same round (each firing a different weapon system), and is similar enough (in a broad sense) to normal combat to use a simple BS skill check, which is something every character has and most have at a reasonable level (with 25+2d10 starting stats).  Thus, gunnery makes an excellent "catch-all" starship action that anyone can attempt.  So, that astropath doesn't have to sit around twiddling his thumbs during starship combat because he has no useful skills, instead he can roll a gunnery so he remains involved in the action.

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