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Vandegraffe

This brought me hell.

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Today's game session included a serious miscalculation by me.  Since I'm the GM, this has long-term implications...

Here's the situation:  The PC's are on reasonably good terms with the Imperial Navy, and agreed to do a "small favour" for the Navy in exchange for help in getting their ship fixed.  So, they go to Vaporius to find what has been preying on the Ecclesiarchy Mission there, and find two of Karrad Vall's ships in orbit.  One was a Soulcage transport - obviously not a significant threat.  The other was the Subjugator Lux, a Hellbringer class light cruiser.  (Battlefleet Koronus, p. 104 - 105.) 

Problem #1.  I thought this would be a challenging encounter.  The PC's are 4th level (except for the RT, who just hit 5th) and have a reasonably well equipped Firestorm frigate.  I thought 1 on 1 with a light cruiser would be a challenge (the transport, unsurprisingly, fled) and gave the Subjugator Lux a command staff similar to a RT vessel, so it was needing a 60 - 70 to succeed on most of its rolls.  The battle wasn't even close.  The PC's cut through them like a chainsword through fresh meat, crippling the light cruiser in 2 turns and losing only 4 hull integrity in return.  Then, they won the ensuing boarding action by 7 degrees of success.  The transport was unable to escape the Navigator's sight, and they captured both ships without any trouble. 

The arch-militant has a good MIU.  With that, the Bridge of Antiquity (their 1 archaeotech component) and assistance from the other players with "Put your backs into it", "lock on", and the like, he was needing to roll 95 or less to hit at long range.  It got worse as they closed.  Since their ship has dual sunsear batteries, they opened by putting six hits into the Subjugator Lux at 17 VU's and knocked out its sensors.  Return fire was, predictably, ineffective.  Their second volley hit with all eight, crippled it and inflicted two more criticals (one from the die rolls, one from crippling) which destroyed both weapon systems.  Game over.  One bomber squadron from the Lux got in a token hit, but that's it...  And, this was with average rolls.  They're just that good.   

Problem #2.  The players seem to have no desire to add more ships to their fleet.  They don't want either the transport or the light cruiser (!) and are planning to just sell the hulls for cash.  Admittedly, the chaos cruiser is a bit tainted, but its still considerably more powerful than their current ship... and just as fast.  They weren't tempted at all.  And, the transport is a former Imperial ship that could be reconsecrated and put to good use hauling plunder.  They've got the profit factor and the connections to do this.  What is wrong with them???

So, any suggestions on balancing ship combat out a bit, or on inspiring suitable avarice in my players?

Cheers,

- V.

 

 

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On Ship combat, I have no idea.

On Avarice, well maybe they just love their current ship. Maybe you have been successful in making them consider their ship as another crew. IMO do not force them at all; plus they're good enough in battle, they can even beat the Light Cruiser. So just let it flow, there are people who ignores ships and prefer cash. There are even people who ignore profits and prefer glory. Or ignore all of them or simply piously eliminating enemies of god-Emperor.

Just my opinions though.

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long range weaponry with a Void Master with high ballistic skill is a pretty powerful, and hard to beat.

That being said, the following things should help bridge the gap a bit:

Any enemy approaching that is still outside of effective fire range is probably running "Evasive Maneuvres" which depending on success can make a ship very hard to hit (-10 per success stacks up fast). Any enemy that has not yet been spotted will probably use "Silent Running" and attempt to sneak up on his target too.

The "Defensive Countermeasures" ship component from Battlefleet Koronus is hugely powerful in defense, as it grants a single shot 1d5+1 turns of -20 BS against a ship.

Remember that the total bonus of a test never goes above +60. I also have a high level group, and I'm considering implementing the House rule of "bonuses half above +30 (So a +60 turns into a +45, and a +60 is the new maximum)

"Prepare to Repel Boarders" is very powerful in a boarding situation.

 

 

 

 

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Throw more enemy ships at them, and make it harder for them to abuse the long range of the sunsears.

A single ship is always a liability, and celestial phenomenon are too much fun to ignore.

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Ork Brute Rams will put the fear of the Emperor into them. ONE managed to nearly bring my players' Firestorm down to critical hull, let alone the pair of Raiders that it was escorting...

 

That said, yeah. Ship combat just stops working after Rank 2 or so; the players will so regularly get the maximum hits on their guns, proceed to disable the void shields with a crit, then set fire to everything with their murder servitors.

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Throw the PC's own abilities back in thier face. Giving NPC ships decent bridge staff is a good start, but be prepared to be merciless with NPC Extended Actions, too

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Possibly throw something at them that us just as skilled as they are,  I personally like traitor marines.  Have them go up against a strike cruiser with a command crew of astartes.  Take a minute to put a basic set of stats together for few chaos marines and see if that gets there attention.

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The players are a heck of a force multiplier in a ship. Vs. NPC ships they have a massive plus. I've had my Dauntless-toting players chomp through cruisers though they generally work very hard to get the upper hand in positioning long before the battle starts. Now that they have to defend Damaris they are having more problems because they have the planet at their back and lack their normally superior positioning options.

Putting your players in averse conditions such as asteroids, nebulae or warp instabilities can bring more of a challenge for them, too.

You could consider giving the NPC ships a 'crew', too, allowing it to have more actions per round. Smarter enemies generally do it for my players. They are pretty scared of the Promise of Sedition, a named Chaos Cruiser from Karrad Vall's flotilla which seems to have it out for them...

 

 

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Be ruthless. Thats the core.

If the enemy have an armoured prow, have them ram.

Use NPC extended actions.

Give the NPCs lances (even if macro batteries can out damage them, lances provide more guaranteed damage at low rolls. A squadron of 3 raiders with baisc lances and macro cannons can do a surprising amount of damage.

Think up beardy combinations of components for enemy ships. If your players can use a teleporter and barracks, why can't that chaos cruiser?

Orks. One of my players rare defeats featured Ork roks arriving on the scene, a couple of vessels every couple of turns. My PCs were blasting them down but one got close enough to board and they nearly lost their ship. Scared the hell out of them.

I see you've already upped the command skill of NPCs, thats virtually obligatory i found.

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Sabotage never hurts either. If a someone knows they are going to be facing the players in ship to ship combat ahead of time, they can start at the port. Put a couple of infiltrators on their ship and disable different systems at key times during the battle. Or even go to the point where the gunner has a chance to open fire all batteries or dodge weapons being aimed at him on the bridge from a squad of infiltrators dedicated to taking out command at the outset of an engagement.

Or...the useage of a Fireship isn't bad either. A transport with juiced up engines and shields being loaded up with some mighty explosives and being sent by servitors (or zealots) straight at the players on a suicide course. Space being three dimensional, they can come at them from above or below so that the players have to move into position before desperately trying to destroy the ship before it collides with them. Even then, the resulting explosion would be pretty mighty in weakening the players' ship before the main event appears.

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Much thanks for all the feedback.  I'm definitely going to steal some of these ideas.  And, for the record, the Subjugator Lux was on evasive maneuvers when the players tore it several new openings.  Even with the -20 from evasive, the arch-militant still hit for 6 of 8 plus a crit at 17 VU's.  I guess I have to beef up the opposition a bit more.  Then again, I suspect Karrad Vall's minions will be taking notice of the players, and may deal with the problem.  Chaos ships can match them at range, and that negates one of their big advantages.

The one time I have seriously hurt them ship to ship was, ironically, with two scruffy little Iconoclasts and an Infidel in an asteroid field.  One of the Iconoclasts got lucky and scored maximum hits (40 points through the void shields) and the Infidel connected with a spread of torpedoes.  That worked, once.  Somehow, I think they'll be wanting to stay further away next time.

Incidentally, they have now got a captured Hellbringer.  The ship is, obviously, tainted, but they might try to purify it.  That's not one of the "allowed" hulls in the book, so I'm not sure what the full stats are (space, ship points, and the like).  I haven't decided if its irredeemably tainted or if they might, maybe, be able to clean it up.  Hmmm, maybe fill in the missing stats with those from a Secutor class, and declare the launch bays can't be removed?

Cheers,

- V.

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I know your pain, my players cut through enemy ships like a hot knife through butter.

Alot of these ideas sound good but just be wary that you dont go overboard and take the pc's out very quickly as all it takes is some gm luck and BOOM!!!

Im thinking about combining a carrier, torpedo escorts and a stand up ship to see if that can challenge the players.

Ive also used the classic 'looking after an npc ship' to keep the pc's on a limited leash.

With regards to the Chaos ship, I would allow it but throw in lots of complications such as convincing the ecclesiarchy to conduct a mass exorcism, getting hold of enough holy water blessed by saint big hands to cover the whole ship, have the priests etc pray for the ship for 100 days straight and then finally have the crew tormented by nightmares and spirits of the previously damned crew. My players decided to destroy the chaos ships they defeated gran_risa.gif

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Rogue Traders are known for their rather weird tastes, so the cruiser would be a nice catch. I'd indeed couple it with getting both the Ecclesiarchy and the Adeptus Mechanicus insisting on purifying and reconsecrating the vessel - which could take a while. You could either reverse engineer the stats by being creative with the components, or indeed proxy it with a different light cruiser stats. Remember that many Chaos components are simply Imperial components that are from the Dark Age of Technology, so they might be hard to keep in proper order, necessitating some underhand deals with ex-Admech. Haunted and Blasphemous Tendencies are great, offc ;-)

Finding crew for it could be an Endeavor itself, except if they perhaps get one of the players for do this whole 'We took this ship from them, this is just the start, lets kick some more ass' speech.

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Ramming. Throw ramming vessels at them. Especially orks. My players thought they owned the void until they watched Jeremiah Blitz' ship go down as a blazing hulk due to 2 Ork Onslaughts ramming actions. Nothing says ouch like 22 damage AFTER armour.

Also, in straight up, clear void combat, the players will almost always have the advantage. Once you start adding celestial phenomena, or give them a planet to defend, they lose some of that tactical flexibility. My players are also defending Damaris at the moment, and the planet defense limits their effectiveness.

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Sounds like they won because there current ship is tricked out.  I mean this is a fast frigate with duel sunsear batteries, in the right hands that can do some damage.  So they'd rather have an extra point of PF than deal with a chaos tainted ship.  I think they're being nice to you and not spoiling your plot, I would have kept hitting the Chaos cruiser until it went bang.

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It is a tricked out frigate... as for capturing the cruiser, the Chaos captain initiated the boarding action, and lost.  (I rolled a 92 for his command check, whereas the group's Rogue Trader rolled in the teens for his command check.)  Yeah, the PC's won that fight, hard and fast.  And, the players didn't even bother with a trial or with sorting the wheat from the chaff;  no, they spaced the entire crew of the chaos ship on the spot.  Probably wise, considering.

Currently, they are dancing with a group of 4 Rak'Gol ships in a dense asteroid field.  Since the PC's are stuck on a nearby planet, I'm ruling that their ship is simply hiding/evading.  I expect a big space battle when the PC's finally do get back to their ship.  gran_risa.gif

Cheers,

- V.

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Also take in mind that sometimes the dice DO go weird. Sometimes your Ork kill kroozer will roll a 95 on the command check for boarding while your players raider rolls a 01. Thats just the nature of games like this.

 

I sometimes use a GM screen and this can be a real game saver as it allows me to modify my dice rolls to make sure the game doesn't get the "single dice roll of death" that would ruin a session. Its fun for a player owned frigate to get battered and have to run and hide while affecting repairs. Far less fun when the eldar frigate gets full successes on all its prow guns on the first round and hulks it.

 

 

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Gribble, I do use a GM screen.  That said, I don't fudge the rolls unless I feel it's absolutely necessary.  It feels like cheating, and sometimes the players just do get lucky.  The fight with the light cruiser, the players rolled extremely well...  there wasn't much I could do about that.

Then again, last session, the players just got unlucky and I nearly killed them with a relatively mild encounter.  The dice do balance out in the long run.  Oh, and the rogue trader crashed a gun-cutter.  Again.  happy.gif   

Cheers,

- V.

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Vandegraffe said:

 

Gribble, I do use a GM screen.  That said, I don't fudge the rolls unless I feel it's absolutely necessary.  It feels like cheating, and sometimes the players just do get lucky.  The fight with the light cruiser, the players rolled extremely well...  there wasn't much I could do about that.

Then again, last session, the players just got unlucky and I nearly killed them with a relatively mild encounter.  The dice do balance out in the long run.  Oh, and the rogue trader crashed a gun-cutter.  Again.  happy.gif   

Cheers,

- V.

 

 

 

Yeah if you do it too often fudging rolls does become strange (read cheating).

OTOH saving everybody the TPK and moving on with a slightly less disastrous result is perfectly ok. Rolling up new chars is only fun the first few times ^^.

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