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Thulis

Stern Chase Rules... am I missing something?

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Hi all,

Recently had a bit of a debate with my players and I'd like your opinion on something. 

The issue was with the stern chase rules in the main RT book.  Though these rules seem good for one ship chasing another through rough terrain (i.e. nebula or asteroid belt) they make absolutely no sense in the void (extremely long distances in a straight line).   The degrees of success seem to be based primarily around the type of ship you're chasing with only a relatively small modifier for the speeds of the ships.  Shouldn't it be the other way around? 

For instance:  The PCs have an orion class star clipper - speed 10, transport hull.  They're chasing a havoc-class merchant raider - speed 9, raider hull.  They need 7 degrees of success for chasing a raider, but -2 for being faster, for a grand total of 5 degrees of success.  If they're in rough terrain, as mentioned above, I can totally see this making sense.  But say they're in void space, heading towards the edge of the system, trying to catch the ship before it jumps to the warp... shouldn't they automatically catch it? 

In a different scenario, let's try something different:  The PCs are in a jericho class pilgrim vessel - speed 3, transport.  They're trying to catch a Hazeroth class privateer - speed 10, raider.  They need 7 DoS for raider, +2 DoS as its faster than them.  Wait, what?  Its not just faster than them, its over three times as fast!  Only +2 DoS?  Shouldn't the hazeroth automatically be able to outrun them? 

The thing is, people say "Well, you need 9 degrees of success - that's pretty hard and not too likely".  As we all know, players can make pretty **** powerful characters if they put their minds to it.  9 DoS is not that tough with a couple good rolls and a good navigator or voidmaster.  I understand the system, but scenarios like this tend to resemble chasing a formula one racer, on an open track, with a horse, and CATCHING it. 

So, my questions are: 

Has anyone had similar experiences with the stern chase rules?  How have you dealt with them or explained them? 

Are there any alternate rules for starship chases that make a bit more sense? 

Any information would be greatly appreciated! 

-Thulis

 

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I also found these rules to be broken, for the reasons stated above. The system itself is good enough, but the way the number of successes needed is calculated makes no sense.

As a quick fix, I modify the number of successes needed by +/- 2 for each point of speed difference. So a Jericho-class with Speed 3 trying to catch a Hazeroth-Class with Speed 10 in the example above would need an extra 14 degrees of success.

It's not perfect, and I've often thought about coming up with a different way to work out the successes needed that takes factors like Manoever/Detection bonuses, if the ship can make 90 or 45 degree turns, etc. But I never actually got around to it.

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I only use the rules in Asteroid fields or what have you. If one ship is chasing another in open void with no obstacles, then whichever ship has the highest speed wins. If you want to get super tactical about it you can work out if the ship can move far enough away to jump to warp with an equation if you happen to know how far from a planetary body in VU a voidship has to be to jump to warp, but that's getting too complex for my taste.

I could be wrong, but I don't really think the rules were intended for straight up open-void races.

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I agree with neuromonster.

 

No obstacle, no need for rules, faster ship wins. If the player are on the slow ship, it is time to take out the "Scotty" of the group and have him supercharge the engine or something like that, increase speed, they escape, but the engine burn out and when they get out of the void they are in collision course with a ork space hulk without maneuvering thrusters. Aaaaaah good times.

 

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The rules are pretty weird.

 

Having said that though, I asked a question a little while back about how people use various skills and abilities to track through the void. The answers seemed to come down to that it wasnt possible without a special power or extraordinary ability.

So, I have to ask, once the ships are outside of auspex range how are you tracking them? They could go in a fairly large amount of directions and we are talking about pretty large distances here. If you know exactly where they are going and they go in a straight line then sure, you can catch them if you are fast enough, but what about any other situation?

I'm guessing that is at least part of the why behind doing what they did. The rules do feel really weird though when using them. Our group has used them a few times both for and against and it never really feels like it makes sense but it does seem like some sort of checks should be needed.

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One thing to keep in mind is that ship speeds are rarely "as written" in combat. Both sides can do extended actions to gain speed, sometimes by quite a bit. Stern Chase is supposed to be somewhat abstract as I see it. This means its factoring in everything from raw speed, to gunning the engines harder, to simply trying to get outside of auger range.

If you dislike it, then you could instead just have ships work to get far enough away to go on Silent Running, then slowly move away and jump to the warp.

Basically, there has to be a way for ships to get away. Otherwise space combat is a little boring and predictable if you have a speed 11 ship or something; since you will almost always catch them. Also Eldar will always get away, etc. "Always" is no fun in a game based on random dice rolling.

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