JP_JP

Space combat : what can a pilot do ?

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I finally got to grips with vehicle rules whilst playing the race in Jewel of Yavin, one of the most complicated vehicle set peices I have ever run.  It really helped to just treat the piloting roll as the fly/drive manuvre, leaving the pilot with either a 2nd manuvre or an action.  Flying faster allowed the pilot to pull ahead but increased the chances of messing things up for that round, which makes sense.  Co-pilots had a choice of either helping out the pilot, doing damage control or firing the guns.  The co-pilot action really is a boon to the pilot and helped to downgrade the piloting difficulty of most piloting rolls, making it easier for the pilot to fly faster  and better.

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Chase scenes with a set difficulty have always been the most successful for me, the Difficult Terrain rules really turn it into a snails race of going speed 2 in a Tie.

As far as any vehicle encounter in this system it's very important to have a reason for the encounter:

Are the PC's trying to escape?

Are they trying to prevent an escape?

Are the trying to navigate through an area?

Are they searching for something?

Is this a large battle and the PC's have a small part in that (the battle is the environment, not mass combat) such as bombing, taking out the Ace, defending an objective, capturing some intelligence etc.

 

Once the actual reason for the encounter is set down you're able to decide much quicker the correct method to play out the scenario, Chase, Dogfight, Skill Challenge, Narrative

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1 hour ago, Richardbuxton said:

Chase scenes with a set difficulty have always been the most successful for me, the Difficult Terrain rules really turn it into a snails race of going speed 2 in a Tie.

Why? You are better off increasing your difficulty and gaining a whole range band on a success instead of playing it safe. Even if you lose a few checks because of that, on average you gain more from the extra speed than you lose, unless your chance to win the the check goes beyond something like 25%. But in that case you have a low chance of winning the chase in the first place, adding a few extra difficulty dice is afterall not a huge change in your chances for success, usually less than 10% per extra dice, even less when the speed increase just upgrades dice. Extra speed increases chance for tread more significantly, but that is exactly the stuff you want for such a race with adding some rough rides, stress to the pilot or strain to the ship. 

Each speed you are over your opponent adds or reduce the distance to your opponent by one range band. If the YT-1200 is going speed 2, while the chasing ties goes speed 5, they need basically just one win with a single success to close the distance, even when the falcon is already in extreme range; extreme > long (1) > medium (2) > short (3) - close (4).

Let's say the YT pilot is rolling flat two success to illustrate the point.
Split a 12 fighter TIE-Squadron into 4 flights with an TIE-Ace as flight leader and you get a ~75% chance each round that at least one of them is rolling 3 or more success. Meanwhile  at speed 2 they would have ~95 chance to roll 3 are more successes, but needing 2 to 3 times as many concussive wins and thus reducing their chances to catch up, while the 75% chance instead increases which each additional round because all they need is a single success over their target. In 3 rounds those speed 5 TIEs reach a chance of 99% to catch up and end the chase, while in 3 rounds the slow going TIEs have a chance of less than 75% to have catched up with even one flight. 

Speed really helps to resolve a chase decisive, often in a single roll, if you just happen to be in the faster ship.

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I wasn't saying it's not fun or possible to go speed 5 or more in Difficult terrain, but the Formidable difficulty with 2 upgrades has a nasty habit of lots of Triumph or Despair. I just find the flat difficulty is more predictable and tends to favour the better pilot over the luckier pilot.

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4 hours ago, kkuja said:

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.

By fixating your scan in a single direction you gain a range band, at a cost of risking some nefarious third party sneaking up behind you.

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21 minutes ago, Richardbuxton said:

I wasn't saying it's not fun or possible to go speed 5 or more in Difficult terrain, but the Formidable difficulty with 2 upgrades has a nasty habit of lots of Triumph or Despair. I just find the flat difficulty is more predictable and tends to favour the better pilot over the luckier pilot.

But with a good co-pilot (and the flat co-pilot action difficulty) you can downgrade the difficulty considerably, allowing a freighter to out manuvre the pursuing tie fighters.

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You are right it is passive scan range, with a 360 degrees angle. If your pilot switch to active scan, then your sensors increase their range by one but they can scan only one arc. 

That way we can admit a TIE can use this and his sensors will track you up to short range... not really impressive...

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How would you set the difficulty to pass trought some kind of gauntlet ? American Ninja Warrior style or Whipe-out...

I've been thinking a lot about all of this lately and this is way I figured out this morning :
- Base difficulty = difficulty based on predictable adverse conditions (how steep the climb his ; how narrow the path is ; how far the target is)
- Setbacks = unpredictable events that might make success harder (rain ; smoke ; disturbance in the Force ; ice ; falling debris)
- Upgrades = action that has the potential to lead to catastrophic outcome (bottomless pit ; thermal explosion ; starting a riot)

Let's take a look at a Whipe-out course where you have to hop from pole to pole with some logs rolling down towards you, with soap and foam sprayed on the obstacles and some badass wind. Unfortunately, you are behind on your opponent and need to catch up, so you try to go faster and don't take time to watch everything that is going on. Now you could set the base difficulty to medium since the poles are narrow and you've got logs rolling down on you in a predictable way. You could also add 3 setbacks for the soap and foam making the obstacles slippery and for the wind knocking you off balance from time to time.  Since you can't take your time and have to go faster, you could upgrade the check once. Final difficulty could be RPPBBB.

I think that's a good RAW interpretation of the situation and would be accepted by all the players attending.

Now, if your players had to pass through a small hole in the wall to go somewhere, but you have one player that is a tiny Chadra-Fan and another player is a huge Herglic, you'd probably give both players different difficulty. For the tiny Chadra-Fan, you could set the difficulty to easy while the Herglic would have is difficulty set to medium. The determining factor is the size of the 2 characters because the opening to go through is narrow.

...

Now here is my interpretation of the Falcon chase in the asteroid field in ESB.

- Falcon : The Millenium falcon is silhouette 4, the asteroids are rather big and spaced, I'll set the base difficulty to 3. Unfortunately, you're going full speed (4), so I'll upgrade the check 4 times. Also, there are lesser asteroids that are flying in every random directions hitting the Falcon, they are doing any damage, but they are making the flying a lot harder, so I'll give 2 setbacks. The total difficulty would be RRRPBB.

- TIE Fighter : The starfighter is rather small and nimble, the asteroids are rather big and spaced, I'll set the base difficulty to 2. Unfortunately, you're going full speed (5), so I'll upgrade the check 5 times. Also, there are lesser asteroids flying in random directions hitting the TIE, they are making the flying a very hard to do, so i'll give 3 setbacks. The total difficulty would be RRRRBBB.

- Star Destroyer : The Star Destroyer is HUGE, the asteroids are way to close to each other to safely navigate, I'll set the base difficulty to 5. Since the captain is afraid of being Force Choked by Darth Vader, he's going full speed (2) in the hopes of catching the Falcon, so I'll upgrade the check 2 times. Also, there are lesser asteroids that are flying in every random directions hitting the SD, fortunately, they can't really knock it off course, so no setbacks are added. The total difficulty would be RRPPP.

Since every craft is flying between asteroids, I'd give each somekind of cover, increase defense by 1. Also, since there are many smaller asteroids that could easily fly into the line of sight and take the hit instead of the craft, I add 2 setbacks from environmental effects. So all shots receive 3 setbacks due to environment.

Now that makes sense to me...

...

Base difficulty should be based on the silhouette of the craft in relation to the available space to move in the environment (much like our Chadra-Fan and Herglic scenario). Since it's not a flat mindless application of the rules, the GM can use is personal jugement to make a fair ruling.

Upgrades should be based on speed of the craft because it makes reaction times much shorter and increases the chances of a catastrophic event, aka major collision.

Setbacks should be added based on unpredictable environmental conditions that affect your skill check, like rain, smoke, solar interference (visual scanning only), etc.
 

It's almost RAW, but it makes more sense to me.

What do you guys think ?

 

( My suggestion feels more or less like what Rosco74 noted earlier. Thanks for the suggestion. )

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Now, unless the GM sets the fight in complete empty space, the pilot should be doing piloting checks every round just to move around in the battle (chase or no chase). The problem I have with this kind of ruling is that it adds dice rolls and makes fights longer. To motivate pilots to just make that Piloting check, I'd add this simple house rule :

If the pilot doesn't take an action on his turn, add a Boost die to this piloting check.

This would mean that the pilot is concentrating on his task (piloting) and not doing anything else. It does allow the pilot to make other maneuvers like Accelerate, Evasive maneuvers, Stay on target, Punch it or Angle deflector shields. Since those maneuvers don't need a skill check, it wouldn't add dice rolls and not make fights longer.

This way, if the pilots make a roll on each combat round, those truly good pilots can use their extra advantages to pass on some boost die to their crew or give setbacks to their enemies. This way, the pilots gets to shine a little more then usual but doesn't come close to the true piloting talents like Tricky Target, Defensive Driving or Brilliant Evasion.

What do you guys think about this ?

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You could call it concentration.  Shooters get to aim (concentrate) so why not allow it for other checks?  Spend your maneuver concentrating on doing your action= +1 blue.

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Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, Richardbuxton said:

I wasn't saying it's not fun or possible to go speed 5 or more in Difficult terrain, but the Formidable difficulty with 2 upgrades has a nasty habit of lots of Triumph or Despair. I just find the flat difficulty is more predictable and tends to favour the better pilot over the luckier pilot.

If you want to half the chance for despair, you need to go speed 1. Speed 2 or speed 5 are equal in fighters. Now in freighters you are right, it becomes much more dangerous and likely to  get extra collisions from despairs. 
Speed 1 at the other hand is so slow that a single lucky roll from your opponent will end the case.

As long as you chance to win the competitive check is still reasonable high, it is fine to increase the difficulty. In case of several people chasing the same target, the combined chance to have a single success is enough as the chase ends once the opposition reaches you.  High speed should be here the better option for the chasing ships. And with less rolls to end the chase, you have less chance for despair overall too. 

But again, if your ship is rather large, your attitude might change if you are scared off despair. Though despairs are nothing to frown about, major collisions and other nasty things are not the end, you can take a despairs if you are desperate enough to catch your target or get away from pursuer. It fits the theme of the moment in that case. 

And btw, don't forget about the co-pilot action. That one is worth gold in larger ships. A great co-pilot can downgrade the difficulty by 2 or 3 without much trouble, especially if the guy who plotted the course had some advantages or maybe even a triumph to upgrade his co-piloting check or the piloting check itself ... a downgrade by 5 is actually not uncommon with my astromech unit. :D 

Edited by SEApocalypse
mentioned the co-pilot and plot course actions
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9 hours ago, JP_JP said:

Now, unless the GM sets the fight in complete empty space, the pilot should be doing piloting checks every round just to move around in the battle (chase or no chase). The problem I have with this kind of ruling is that it adds dice rolls and makes fights longer. To motivate pilots to just make that Piloting check, I'd add this simple house rule :

If the pilot doesn't take an action on his turn, add a Boost die to this piloting check.

This would mean that the pilot is concentrating on his task (piloting) and not doing anything else. It does allow the pilot to make other maneuvers like Accelerate, Evasive maneuvers, Stay on target, Punch it or Angle deflector shields. Since those maneuvers don't need a skill check, it wouldn't add dice rolls and not make fights longer.

This way, if the pilots make a roll on each combat round, those truly good pilots can use their extra advantages to pass on some boost die to their crew or give setbacks to their enemies. This way, the pilots gets to shine a little more then usual but doesn't come close to the true piloting talents like Tricky Target, Defensive Driving or Brilliant Evasion.

What do you guys think about this ?

If you want this than your pilot would be better of doing a co-pilot action, downgrade his own piloting check AND assign is advantages as further upgrades or boost dice to his next check. Means even the same thing. And keep in mind, pilots have access to Master Pilot which allows to perform an action as a maneuver for 2 strain. Pilots are masters of multitasking. 

BTW, was the dev suggestion not to only do those extra piloting checks occasion, like when entering or leaving an asteroid field and count for the rest of the scene? Doing it very round gets not only boring, but it is as well fishing for a bad roll. Once a challenge is mastered with a skill check, the success should stay usually in effect unless there is some other force opposing to that or a new challenge arises. 
As you said, rolling one extra check every round makes just everything longer. 

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25 minutes ago, SEApocalypse said:

If you want this than your pilot would be better of doing a co-pilot action, downgrade his own piloting check

I am not sure if it is possible to be the co-pilot of yourself actually :)

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30 minutes ago, Rosco74 said:

I am not sure if it is possible to be the co-pilot of yourself actually :)

"Master Pilot" and  "Let's Ride" make anything possible, including switching cockpit stations on the fly as incidentals. Strain intensive but possible even when you don't get oot Piloting check ;-)
Though the action itself is basically doing system management to downgrade the pilot checks, etc so it is exactly what was reinvented. And it consumes an action. 

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