JP_JP

Space combat : what can a pilot do ?

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I was playing a pilot in our last game and I realized that there isn't much to do when your the pilot of a speed 3 freighter.

Flyby/move, Accelerate, Stay on target, Evasive Maneuvers are all maneuvers and don't require a roll. Gain advantage needs to be at speed 4. So my character was boosting shields, trying to hack enemy systems and stuff, the same things our co-pilot was doing. I think the co-pilot has way more fun things to do and more meaningful rolls to make.

After the space combat scene, I looked at the attachment to improve our ship speed to 4 so I could make GtA rolls and be somewhat useful.

I was thinking that at least in a chase, the pilot gets to roll his piloting skill and maybe pass on a few boosts or setbacks to friends and foes. That way, he could show off his skills and have a semblance of influence on the combat. But that got me thinking that if I had a Silhouette 4 transport with Speed 4, the difficulty to move at top speed during a chase would be RRPP plus setbacks from the terrain. That's really hard and most starting characters (we have reached 100xp last night) couldn't pull it off. And going under speed 4 means that you can't do the GtA action on your turn. So you're kinda screwed as the pilot.

So my main question his ? What can pilots do to be fun to play ? (except using the guns since we have more crew then guns)

 

 

On a side note, I was wondering if everyone was using RAW for chases.

I feel the difficulty is way too much and that it doesn't feel right. A slower vessel has more chances of succeeding the roll then a fast ship and so win the chase. So how do you guys handle it ? We passed a house rule in our group. We decided that if you failed your roll in a chase, you could either have your ship slow down (affecting the distance traveled on that round) or take Hull Trauma (equal to remaining fails +1) to reflect some collisions with the terrain ; despair results in a minor collision RAW, so you roll a crit against the ship. With that new rule, chases can now look like the Truck chase in the beginning of Beverly Hills Cop where the truck just hits everything in sight but keeps ahead of the cop cars.

I went mountain biking the other day on one hard trail, I was afraid for my life the whole time. Compared to some flat land where I can go full speed, I felt that the difficulty of the terrain had more of an impact on my perception of how hard that ride was (of course, if I had gone full speed on that trail, I would have died right there on the spot). So I'm kinda rethinking the way you calculate difficulty to move in a ship. Base difficulty should be terrain difficulty, updated a number of times equal to half speed rounded up. Setbacks should be from your ship handling (size of ships are usually integrated in the Handling stat to represent bulkiness, so you don't double count bulkiness when calculating difficulty to move) and from some precise random events such as a solar flare, a ship explosion, rain, etc.

Using this method, the difficulty to ride through a dangerous asteroid field (terrain difficulty of 4) at full speed (4) in a rundown YT-1300 (handling -1) would be RRPPB compared to RAW which would be RRPPBBBBB.
Using this method, the difficulty to ride through an evenly spaced ships convoy (terrain difficulty of 1) at full speed (4) in a rundown YT-1300 (handling -1) would be RPB compared to RAW which would be RRPPBB.
I feel RAW makes both places feel about the same difficulty, but in reality, the asteroid field is way more deadlier. And you don't count bulkiness twice.

What do you guys think ?

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Without a dogfighting ship, your GM  should have you flying , somewhere that is less of a vacuum, meaning that your speed and silhouette come into play each thrn as you fly through and around the narrative terrain. if you look at the films very few are in empty space, even if the terrain was capital ships.

There was an order 66 podcast episode that covered this exact problem.

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Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, JP_JP said:

That's really hard and most starting characters (we have reached 100xp last night) couldn't pull it off. And going under speed 4 means that you can't do the GtA action on your turn. So you're kinda screwed as the pilot.

Well in general most of the gm's I've played with (including myself) say that the piloting check is your action during a chase, so you wouldn't be able to gain the advantage in that case.

1 hour ago, JP_JP said:

So my main question his ? What can pilots do to be fun to play ? (except using the guns since we have more crew then guns)

The pilot has a lot of options that the crew can't do, assuming that your not just flying the ship but have one of the pilot related specializations. You have the full throttle action, among a selection of passive talents that help a lot in the pilot spec (Skilled Jocky, Tricky Target, etc). If you don't have one of those specs, then yeah it's harder to do something cool while your the pilot.

 

1 hour ago, JP_JP said:

On a side note, I was wondering if everyone was using RAW for chases.

I do, in open space is the only place that I think it doesn't make sense (when the check is simple). But it is a bad idea to go full speed in a Star Wars asteroid field (as shown in episode V) or another location that is filled with debris. The faster you go the greater chance you have of getting away if you succeed, but things can get much worse if you fail at that speed, and if you fail badly there's a very wide range of bad things that can happen.

 

Also, when your making a piloting check with a ship you always include its handling, its just that during chases you have a chance of more setback dice coming into play.

Edited by Imperial Stormtrooper

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The only problem if you choose to have the terrain the base difficulty, most of the time you won't find any side effects on top of that in order to add setback dices. And the setback dices are a must in every check if you don't want your smuggler wondering every turn why he invested xp in the skilled jockey talent.

In the other side I must admit that one more time the RAW rules are too evasive and stupid, and your exemple is exactly what problem everyone will have. We should try to find something between the 2

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3 hours ago, JP_JP said:

On a side note, I was wondering if everyone was using RAW for chases.

I feel the difficulty is way too much and that it doesn't feel right. A slower vessel has more chances of succeeding the roll then a fast ship and so win the chase. So how do you guys handle it ? We passed a house rule in our group. We decided that if you failed your roll in a chase, you could either have your ship slow down (affecting the distance traveled on that round) or take Hull Trauma (equal to remaining fails +1) to reflect some collisions with the terrain ; despair results in a minor collision RAW, so you roll a crit against the ship. With that new rule, chases can now look like the Truck chase in the beginning of Beverly Hills Cop where the truck just hits everything in sight but keeps ahead of the cop cars.

I went mountain biking the other day on one hard trail, I was afraid for my life the whole time. Compared to some flat land where I can go full speed, I felt that the difficulty of the terrain had more of an impact on my perception of how hard that ride was (of course, if I had gone full speed on that trail, I would have died right there on the spot). So I'm kinda rethinking the way you calculate difficulty to move in a ship. Base difficulty should be terrain difficulty, updated a number of times equal to half speed rounded up. Setbacks should be from your ship handling (size of ships are usually integrated in the Handling stat to represent bulkiness, so you don't double count bulkiness when calculating difficulty to move) and from some precise random events such as a solar flare, a ship explosion, rain, etc.

Using this method, the difficulty to ride through a dangerous asteroid field (terrain difficulty of 4) at full speed (4) in a rundown YT-1300 (handling -1) would be RRPPB compared to RAW which would be RRPPBBBBB.
Using this method, the difficulty to ride through an evenly spaced ships convoy (terrain difficulty of 1) at full speed (4) in a rundown YT-1300 (handling -1) would be RPB compared to RAW which would be RRPPBB.
I feel RAW makes both places feel about the same difficulty, but in reality, the asteroid field is way more deadlier. And you don't count bulkiness twice.

What do you guys think ?

First I'd like to say that as a few have mentioned in other posts, I treat all vehicle/space fights as Chases (ie no drive/fly maneuver) so that the pilot is always rolling a piloting check.

 

I do like your idea and was toying around with basically this same idea after I read over the Piloting mechanics and then tried to reconcile their use in practice.  You hit upon two things in the RAW that I could never reconcile.

1. Silouette(handling) is already built into any piloting roll, so why is it being double added to the piloting difficulty? (I guess its that lack of maneuverability is amplified with more speed? but it seems clunky)

2. Why does the terrain not determine the difficulty? I understand that in normal situations the "environment" is what determines setbacks such as rain/fog give setbacks, while the lock is a set difficulty of Hard regardless. But in the case of piloting, the environment literally IS the difficulty. Flying through an asteroid field should be daunting for everyone regardless of speed, it should be the speed and maneuverability of the ship that further modifies that difficulty.

Using your method makes very logical sense. The terrain sets the difficulty, and the speed upgrades the difficulty. That is what upgrading difficulty does in all other aspects of this game, it increases the threat of failure (despairs). In general I think your method utilizes the general idea of difficulty, upgrading, and setbacks more closely to how it is used in other situations in the game. 

 

I will need to play around with it a bit and see how it balances out. Other ideas to consider: 1. upgrading the difficulty by your speed instead of half speed  2. Add a number of setbacks equal to half your speed  to represent the maneuverability being harder at higher speeds.

 

To those who would argue that this method makes skilled jockey or similar talents useless, just change the talent to add boosts instead, or downgrade difficulty. Problem solved.  

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I'm just glad I'm not the only one noticing the probably most boring approach to starship combat. The rules governing space combat need an overhaul. I would look at discarding the standard maneuvers and look to blow it wide open leaving an open skill check to begin with set against the type of maneuver your pilot wished to do. Barrel roll, bootleg turn, spinning is good (RotS) full stall etc. Be creative, test both pilot and ship in how to get the bead on not just one tie but a multitude of them. I would use much as terrain i could, another member posted that as well:) From asteroids to planets, surface of other ships, space stations, a heavy trafficked space lane, someone else s space battle (whoops) a bustling space cargo port. Plenty of fodder for great scenes. Always the pilot should feel hands on, this is where they shine. I've already seen posts of people where the pilot quits the game cause the lack of feeling useful. Many of the great scenes of SW are space combat. Gotta big it up for the players big turn in the spotlight.

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Posted (edited)

If you want to go this way maybe consider a threshold of speed at wich the terrain sets the difficulty. Flying above this speed would upgrade difficulty. This asteroid field sets the difficulty to 4 dice. We consider the max speed at 2 without upgrading, each point of speed above this threshold upgrade the difficulty. Your freighter running speed 4 in the field would roll 4 purples upgraded 2 times for RRPP.

As said above I myself not consider this approach as it makes setback dice rarer, and would make the skilled jockey talent less usefull as soon as you have a ship with handling of zero or above

Edit: remember that a failed check doesn't mean the ship crash (except on despair), just the ship was unsuccessfull at maneuvering through the asteroid field, it drops its speed by one and doesn't actually move any range band. So even with daunting upgraded difficulty the worst case scenario is a drop on speed, a major collision and that's almost everything :P

Edited by Rosco74

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, Imperial Stormtrooper said:

Well in general most of the gm's I've played with (including myself) say that the piloting check is your action during a chase, so you wouldn't be able to gain the advantage in that case.

Devs suggested iirc that you roll those chase maneuvers before the regular round (same with piloting checks when entering difficulty terrain as out of turn incidentals) and even if that would not be that case, decent pilots have master pilot anyway and still can do  GtA. 

Furthermore, winning a chase with solid extra speed over your opponent is a big deal, because you can so much more distance with a single win, while losing potentially not much when failing your check. On top is the difficulty increase in ships which have a big silhouette anyway not that big, even when you might risk a few collisions along the way. A sil 5 ship is just upgrading the check in difficult terrain up to speed 3. Sure, a few collisions along the way become more likely, but the overall challenge becomes not much harder when upgrading purples to reds. 

Either way, if you are confident in winning the competitive check, going as fast as possible is the way to go, because adding a purple dice adds less than 1 failure on average to your dice roll, while you gain one extra dice band per speed you have over your opponent. If you are confident in losing the competitive check anyway, going fast is the way to go as well. Outsmarting your opponent is the way to go if everything is super close anyway, so winning a check with reduced dice might indeed the way to go, a classic low speed move into an asteroid cave would be an good example of that. Another one would be the classic to turn sharp and slow into an alley to force your opponents to overshoot you. Plenty of narrative potential for those moves. But in the long, when both have the same skill level and the same ship, the guy who flies faster should win the race, while losing most of the competitive checks. 

If I would change one thing about the RAW chase, it would be that you need just one advantage per range band, beyond medium range. I would apply the same 2 maneuver costs from medium to long and long to extreme to keep the chase a bit longer. Though in most cases once you reach extreme range you are out of sensor range anyway. Now the sensor system could really need a little overhaul. 

Edited by SEApocalypse

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Posted (edited)

Currently as with close range sensor fitted on most fighters, when you reach short range of a TIE (just out of dogfight range actually), he can't see you anymore, even less he can shoot you :-)

If you want to be realist, as he can't see you anymore the chase should be over as soon as you manage to get the TIE out of his sensor range, so at short range...

Edited by Rosco74

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1 hour ago, Rosco74 said:

Currently as with close range sensor fitted on most fighters, when you reach short range of a TIE (just out of dogfight range actually), he can't see you anymore, even less he can shoot you :-)

If you want to be realist, as he can't see you anymore the chase should be over as soon as you manage to get the TIE out of his sensor range, so at short range...

Sure, you can play it this way, but you'll find it gets really stupid really fast.

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Sure it gets really stupid really fast, but I didn't write the rules. So we all agree the rules are stupid 

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I'm saying that it's best to not play it strictlyby the rules. The rules for this game have lots of weak areas, and knowingly stressing those areas once you've found them only leads to frustration. 

The sensor rules are not alone in this.  Vehicle encumbrance is another area that fails hilariously if you want to play a Taveller-esque tramp freighter game, and the ineffectiveness  of man-portable anti-vehicle weaponry to take down targets with any significant armor are others.

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Posted (edited)

25 minutes ago, Rosco74 said:

Sure it gets really stupid really fast, but I didn't write the rules. So we all agree the rules are stupid 

Hey guess what the star wars D6 space combat rule work just fine lol. Actually I started a similar post a day a go. On top of the bad mechanics I don't liked the force narrative either. It's like someone trying to be too clever and end up with a complication that just doesn't work. It's too early for an EoE 2nd edition cause people will give ffg the screw face for the hefty lay out for their pricey collection. I call this 'bad rules parenting' from bad layout and structure to maybe lack of play testing and oversight. The thing is I want to love ffg star wars but like a red headed step child it makes to many mistakes and fails to live up to older better fore bearers. And I will say it again I love their campaign material. I think this analogy works this ffg star wars is to weg star wars as is episode 1 is to episode 5 which is so sad messa thinking

Edited by splad

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A slow Freighter requires a Captain not a Pilot, your much better using a Social character with high Agility if that's the kind of ship you're group is using. Field Commander and Inspiring Rhetoric are excellent options for the character flying those big slow ships. 

Pilots are best suited to smaller craft, ask your GM to get a small Head Hunter or something into the game. Your little ship flies escort and docks to an external docking ring when not needed. Leave the flying of the big ship to the Co-Pilot and Face of the group.

Get the book Lead By Example for some good ideas on things a Captain can do.

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35 minutes ago, Richardbuxton said:

A slow Freighter requires a Captain not a Pilot, your much better using a Social character with high Agility if that's the kind of ship you're group is using. Field Commander and Inspiring Rhetoric are excellent options for the character flying those big slow ships. 

Pilots are best suited to smaller craft, ask your GM to get a small Head Hunter or something into the game. Your little ship flies escort and docks to an external docking ring when not needed. Leave the flying of the big ship to the Co-Pilot and Face of the group.

Get the book Lead By Example for some good ideas on things a Captain can do.

So by bending the universe to the mechanics you will achieve a better game. What kind of logic is that. Don't you suppose to be emulating the star wars experience?

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What I'm saying is that in the Star Wars universe the people flying the slow Freighters are not the top gun pilots. The captains can certainly fly, but they are more than a stick jockey. 

Han is definitely not flying a slow Freighter, so we are not talking about emulating him here. This kind of pilot is rarely seen in the films in this kind of ship, they are usually on bigger ships because for a movie that's more interesting.

What can a good pilot do in a slow ship? Not much compared to how much they can do in a fast ship.

This is a really complex issue that needs to be gone over in an extended format rather than a forum post, there are a lot of elements that come into it. 

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41 minutes ago, Richardbuxton said:

Han is definitely not flying a slow Freighter, so we are not talking about emulating him here. 

He was at the beginning of TFA... :ph34r:

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1 hour ago, splad said:

Hey guess what the star wars D6 space combat rule work just fine lol. Actually I started a similar post a day a go. On top of the bad mechanics I don't liked the force narrative either. It's like someone trying to be too clever and end up with a complication that just doesn't work. It's too early for an EoE 2nd edition cause people will give ffg the screw face for the hefty lay out for their pricey collection. I call this 'bad rules parenting' from bad layout and structure to maybe lack of play testing and oversight. The thing is I want to love ffg star wars but like a red headed step child it makes to many mistakes and fails to live up to older better fore bearers. And I will say it again I love their campaign material. I think this analogy works this ffg star wars is to weg star wars as is episode 1 is to episode 5 which is so sad messa thinking

If you build it make a better game, they will come

I mean better not different too. I am hoping that the new generic system they are developing will lead to an effective second edition

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Posted (edited)

40 minutes ago, korjik said:

If you build it make a better game, they will come

I mean better not different too. I am hoping that the new generic system they are developing will lead to an effective second edition

Again we have a problem of laying out cash again for oversight that should have never reached the shop floor just saying

Edited by splad

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In A New Hope, when they flee the Death Star, Chewie does basically nothing while Han and Luke shoot down the Tie fighters pursuing the Falcon. With that in mind, Richardbuxton does have a point that a freighter needs a good captain and not a pilot. The best pilot of the Resistance does fly a StarFighter.

I don't want to change the narrative aspect of the game to get a tactical simulator with hex tiles. My first idea would have been to change Range/Speed relation to a Hex Tile conversion. But it would move away too much from the narrative style and would make space fights last longer, especially for chases. WEG D6 space combat looked a lot like a tactical combat sim with all the maneuvers and all. I don't really want that in FFG. I want to keep it clean and simple. That's why I fear that my first idea about Terrain difficulty being tied to the base difficulty to move isn't a good one anymore.

Why ??

Because in ground combat, environmental effect adds setback to combat checks. So if it's raining, you add 1 setback to all your actions... to climb a mountain or to shoot at a dude. If you're fighting several TIE fighters in an light asteroid field, you add 2 setbacks to move and to shoot at those TIE fighters. It keeps the combat system streamlined and keeps the talents like Skilled Jockey useful. I don't really like it, but changing it would be too much of a problem.

...

My head is hurting... I've been thinking about this subject the whole day...

I just realized that we are raising Skilled Jockey beyond useful to must have in our design philosophy. Take other talents that remove setbacks, notably the BRACE talent. Brace talent is the Skilled Jockey for ranged combat. Brace removes setback dices on ranged checks by 1 for each rank of Brace. Are all gun fights in a tornado or a rainstorm ? No. So this talent can be useful at times, but it is not always useful for every fights. With Skilled Jockey, if every space battle should be in an asteroid field or in a crowded space station vicinity or in a starship junkyard, then every space battle would generate setbacks (in addition to those negative handling ships) and Skilled Jockey would be useful all the time.

With that in mind, should you move the Terrain difficulty from setbacks to base difficulty ??? I still don't know...

...

There are good arguments to change the system, there are other equally good arguments to keep the system. Right now, I've got the feeling that the usefulness of my character will depend on the quality of the encounter tailored by the GM. In that case, I fear that the usefulness of my character isn't in my hands anymore.

...

Syrath :
How does that work when your GM asks the group to make a piloting check every turn just to move around ? Does he rolls every enemy there is ? I'm afraid doing Piloting checks every turn for every ship would make Space Fights way longer and broke the pace. In our last game, each round was fairly fast, especially for our pilot (me) since I had mostly maneuvers to do (I go there and do evasive maneuvers ; I speed up and go there ; I angle the deflector shields and do evasive maneuvers ; etc.). It wasn't the most fun, but it was fast.

...

Side note to Imperial Stormtrooper :
RAW, the Piloting roll at the start of a round during a chase is not the character's action for that turn. Once that roll is made and position has been established for the round, the characters take their turn normally, but can't use maneuvers to move. Since the chase is actually a move maneuver, in our group, we count that move maneuver has their free maneuver for the turn. So if they want to draw a blaster, they have to spend their action or spend 2 strain to get another maneuver for the turn.

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There's a nice little segment near the start of The Order 66 podcast that recorded today about movement in space, check it out if you get a chance it's only 10min Long, I'll share a time stamp when the actual episode is released.

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5 hours ago, splad said:

Hey guess what the star wars D6 space combat rule work just fine lol.

Wait - no it didn't. It was as kludgy and clunky as the NarDS system is - I patched the **** out of the D6 vehicle combat system so much that it worked well enough, but as-written? No way.

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3 hours ago, splad said:

Again we have a problem of laying out cash again for oversight that should have never reached the shop floor just saying

People lay out the cash again for a new iteration all the time. **** Apple makes all their money doing that. Calling it a lack of oversight isnt really fair tho. 

Besides, if a second edition is actually a better game, most of the people here who have no problem buying yet another class book will have no problem buying a better game.

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1 hour ago, Desslok said:

Wait - no it didn't. It was as kludgy and clunky as the NarDS system is - I patched the **** out of the D6 vehicle combat system so much that it worked well enough, but as-written? No way.

By 2e, the "as-is" vehicle rules were already well patched, and at least the scaling rules of 2e and beyond made fights between differently scaled opponents far better than what FFG has given us.

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8 hours ago, Rosco74 said:

Currently as with close range sensor fitted on most fighters, when you reach short range of a TIE (just out of dogfight range actually), he can't see you anymore, even less he can shoot you :-)

If you want to be realist, as he can't see you anymore the chase should be over as soon as you manage to get the TIE out of his sensor range, so at short range...

Wasn't the given range for passive scans, and active scans have longer range? I don't have the books with me, so I cannot check it right now, and honestly, I don't remember so well. We have always used sensors highly narratively.

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