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Nemesis starfighter ace

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As I'm running a Starfighter-based campaign, I feel obligated to, sooner or later, throw a Red Baron-level imperial ace at them. The thing is, Nemeses already have the minor issue that they crumble quite quickly when facing off against an entire group of PCs (luckily, I only have three players), and if you limit them to the durability of a starfighter the problem is exacerbated. Doubly so if it's a TIE (which I want it to be).

For the ship, I don't want it to be anything to special and fancy, like the Defender (which I've never loved anyway) or some of the fancy TIE prototypes. There's of course the Starwing, but that's not an agile dogfighter as much as flying schoolbus with missiles. I'll most likely go for an Interceptor, but a bog standard TIE/ln or even a TIE bomber could be fun (and possibly borderline trolling if I stack too many of the options above... ;) ).

So, if I don't want my ace to fly something big and heavy with a high Hull Threshold, and not hide behind a big squadron of minions, how do you make a fighter ace survivable?

The ideas I've had so far:

* The obvious, ranks in Adversary, and since TIEs tend lack shields, I could technically go hog wild with ranks in Defensive Driving as well. Still, a lucky hit would end it quickly.

* We're already using DarthGM's snap roll rules. An ace with a pilot skill of 4 or 5 in a TIE with a handling of +3 could more or less flat out cancel a hit a lot of the time, but the strain would start building up fast, so...

* A few ranks in High-G Training and Nemesis level Strain Threshold would let a fighter do a lot of more Snap Rolls. The downside is it might drive the players slightly mad.

* While it does sidestep the concept of a using a fairly stock TIE fighter, picking up a few talents from the Rigger tree could mitigate it's weaknesses (or just push the handling through the roof) in an inobvious way.

* Brilliant Evasion - I don't really like this, since it would pretty much sideline a player through most, if not all of the fight. Also, it feels less like being outmaneuvered and more like being in a the penalty box where you can go stomp some minions or whatever while your friends get to have all the fun. Players doing this to NPCs is fine, but I'm a bit iffy the other way around, especially if the point is it to be a showdown with a lone ace.

* Maybe not strictly "lone" ace. While I don't think it would be much fun for him to simply hide behind a full squadron and use it as a meat shield, even Vader brought some wingmen to the battle of Yavin. Having one or two minions to soak up a hit could still be pretty cool. Maybe a single Rival wingman with a starfighter version of the Bodyguard talent to make it less meatshieldy?

* It's been suggested to Nemeses could get an extra action per turn, which always rubbed me the wrong way as it essentially just lets them "break the rules" just 'cause. For some reason however, I'd be fine with throwing in a version of the Driver's Master Driver talent that works with starfighters. Call it "Ace of aces" or something. Two actions in the same turn is very powerful, but would also cost a lot of strain. Doesn't really help with survivability though, except by killing the **** out the PCs first. The players may object to that. :P

 

And, that's about the ideas I've had so far. Did I miss anything obvious? Do any of these things sound like really good/bad ideas?

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As far as stats go, Defensive Driving is a must. It's a way to get those TIEs an approximation of shields. Three ranks would make a standard TIE a much more fearsome opponent. Adversary could help, too, but Tricky Target might help more, especially if the TIE has another modification, like a jammer, that drops the combat silhouette. Silhouette 1 TIEs with 2-3 setback are hard to hit. 

The squadron rules are probably the best way to mimic Vader in Ep IV. I've done this and it works very well - and tends to really invest the PCs in the combat. The minions work like a shield, with the NPC able to direct a full hit into one minion, so they're more effective that way than pooling them into a minion group. Two or three are enough, and also allow other minion groups of fighters also being involved in the combat. 

A G-suit gives -1 Strain for a second pilot-only maneuver, and the Empire would likely provide one to a higher ranking Ace. A biofeedback system on the pilot's armor would also increase strain threshold by 4. You could easily have a great pilot in a standard TIE field testing better flight gear for the fleet. 

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19 minutes ago, JRRP said:

As far as stats go, Defensive Driving is a must. It's a way to get those TIEs an approximation of shields. Three ranks would make a standard TIE a much more fearsome opponent. Adversary could help, too, but Tricky Target might help more, especially if the TIE has another modification, like a jammer, that drops the combat silhouette. Silhouette 1 TIEs with 2-3 setback are hard to hit. 

I like it, but the TIEs tend to have zero hardpoints, and I don't want to stray to much into custom prototype territory. I want the pilot to be special, not his ship.

43 minutes ago, JRRP said:

The squadron rules are probably the best way to mimic Vader in Ep IV. I've done this and it works very well - and tends to really invest the PCs in the combat. The minions work like a shield, with the NPC able to direct a full hit into one minion, so they're more effective that way than pooling them into a minion group. Two or three are enough, and also allow other minion groups of fighters also being involved in the combat. 

Yup, probably going for that.

44 minutes ago, JRRP said:

A G-suit gives -1 Strain for a second pilot-only maneuver, and the Empire would likely provide one to a higher ranking Ace. A biofeedback system on the pilot's armor would also increase strain threshold by 4. You could easily have a great pilot in a standard TIE field testing better flight gear for the fleet. 

I'd like to keep it somewhat free of experimental gear, but a suit is a lot less "special" than a ship. Biofeedback system is a nice idea, but since it's an NPC, I can pretty much set the Strain Threshold to whatever want it to be, but hey, If I want to go nuts with it, a biofeedback system is a good excuse. ;)

I also noticed that, according to how GM Phil worded the Snap Roll rules, a G-Suit would reduce to personal strain cost to 1, leaving much more room for High-G Training shenanigans. 

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  • Give your nemesis the Rigger talent Not Today (flip a point, ship survives to fight another day).
  • Ace Signature: This One is Mine (force a one-on-one duel).
  • Ace Signature: Unmatched Survivability (flip points to continue flying crippled ship).

If you want a recurring villain, give him talents and abilities to force an individual dogfight, and escape at the end.

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