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DeckOfManyThings

So I had a problem with Space Combat yesterday...

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6 PC game, one player wanted to be the "bad ass pilot" so she built heavy into piloting, knowing that when space combat happened, she'd be a huge asset.


 


She wasn't. She felt completely useless.


 


Here's the problem we faced: Maneuvers that are "Pilot only" are vast, but none of them involve rolling ANY dice. The PC with a 1 Agility and no Piloting skill can do these just as good as the 4 Agility, 3 Piloting character.


 


Next problem with Maneuvers: For "combat" it boiled down to two choices: "Evasive Maneuvers" (Increase Difficulty to be hit, and for your gunners to hit, by 1) and "Stay on Target" (Upgrade the attack dice of your gunners, and your enemies who are shooting at you, by 1). Since these both affected the ships' gunners, it was generally a consensus of "the best thing to do is..." which took control out of the pilot's hand. Maneuvering the ship became a "what's best for the group" situation, meaning the pilot's actions became a group decision.


 


But let's get to the heart of the matter: Actions. For point of reference, 2 of the "Starter Ships" have a Speed of 3 (The Firespray, the smallest, is a 4) This group has a Speed 3 ship. This preventing the pilot from doing the ONE useful "Pilot Only" Action: Gain the Advantage (removes the penalty from Evasive Maneuvers for your gunners). You need to be going "4+" to use Gain the Advantage.


 


So our Bad Ass Pilot was reduced to converting an Action into a Maneuver and doing two Maneuvers, which ANY character could pull off, no rolls required. (Yes, there is a whole list of other things characters can do in combat, but the only one of THOSE that requires a Piloting check is "Copilot" which helps out a Piloting check made by the Pilot, so... yeah, that was useless too).


 


Had she been able to roll her awesome piloting she could have been getting Advantage and Triumphs to help out the group in interesting and narrative ways. In the end it became a puzzle like exercise that was playing out with Fly/Drive maneuvers forcing the enemy to use his actions just to get into gun range.


 


Improving the ship's speed to 4 is a top priority now, just so she had dice to roll in combat, but I fear that the "you can only really do this one thing" is going to grate on her quickly.


 


Is there something I missed? All the other characters had a blast boosting shields, slicing enemy computers, repairing the ship, etc. Pilots seem to have been forgotten about.


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Run more chase scenes rather than combat. Make the enemy chase the ship and give your pilot the chance to use her skills to get away from the enemy (there are rules for this)

Then during the chase introduce hazardous terrain that needs extra pilot checks have the enemy ships collide with each other or smash into walls etc.

Then to keep the others interested if/when the enemy catches up (due to poor rolls of the pilot or enemy having a faster ship) have them just do a quick one round of combat actions while the enemy remains at close range.

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If your pilot is doing two maneuvers at a time, the ship is taking stress. Unlike with people, ships take stress if two maneuvers are made in a turn, regardless of how the second maneuver is made (pilot takes stress or downgrades their action).

 

With that in mind, the pilot could maneuver and "recover stress" as their action. Sure, it's not a piloting roll, but it's something to do.

 

Otherwise, do something that requires piloting skill, not gunnery skill. Chases are best, but even a race could be fun. Heck, they did a Stargate: SG-1 episode about a space race, so why not a Star Wars adventure?

 

-EF

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Unless the combat is taking place in empty space, piloting a speed-less-than-4 vehicle is a bit boring. But you can try to clutter the battlefield a bit - asteroids, old space junk, satellites, other spacecraft - and then encourage the pilot to try to crash the enemies into the obstacles. Film example: Han diving into the trench on the big asteroid. 

Most battles take place near planets (at least in my experience), so there should be a lot of stuff floating around!

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As Nashable mentioned, introduce environmental hazards that require piloting checks. It may be more work for you, but if you want that player to feel useful and able to to contribute to the scenes, then it is necessary. I know nothing ruins a scene more then when one PC starts griping because they realize the choices they made don't have the necessary impact on the game that they thought it would.

 

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Part of the issue is that having a hotshot pilot lies in talents, not in the skill. Most of the awesome piloting are special bonuses and actions found in the Pilot specialization (boosting speed, adding defense), and unless you are navigating an asteroid field then the skill itself isn't rolled as often.

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So you are using the Smuggler pilot talent tree, and the Player thinks he is going to be some hot shot fighter pilot Ace.  THis is like asking the Pilot of a B-24 to engage the enemy FW-190s en route to the target.

 

I would wait for the Next core book when they come out with some sort of "Bush Pilot" specialization and your player can get into an X-wing and fly cover for the transport.  and they have some better space combat rules.

 

Or like other suggest, Have more obstacles, Enviroment effects, or do more chase scenes. 

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Now, we had our first proper space battle during last nights session. I had hopes for one, but they escaped the first one, the pilot is heavily invested in the talent tree. So I never caught up with them as he initiated a chase sequence.

 

The second opportunity was a short lived affair with lots going on and everyone taking part. First I should point out two things: their YT-1300 has been modified with increased speed, and I ruled that Gain the Advantage applies to the gunners too, as long as they act after the pilot gains the advantage. I know this goes against RAW, but I realised it was more fun since no one in the group are any good at gunnery. I will change that in time though, as they get used to how space/vehicle combat works.

 

First, full throttle gave him a benefit over their opponent for three rounds. He used Evasive Manoeuvres each round and Gain the advantage - except for the one round he attacked. One player acted as co-pilot and downgraded the Pilots checks, when he succeeded on those checks that is. Another was a gunner, she was mostly bored except when she got to shoot. A third was mechanic and repaired and boosted shields, while another lowered enemies defence and used leadership to boost allied attacks. It was hectic, and most players didn't know what, when and how, but having two corebooks: one in my hands and one in the pilots hands helped a lot. He said what he needed the others to do, which worked very well and became an in-character scene of him screaming for extra power, the gunners yelling for fire solutions. It was good fun. He also informed his fellow players about how to do it mechanically, what checks and whatnot.

 

Now, when it comes to the Pilot checks, and I figure speed 3 (or lower) starships, there wouldn't have been many rolls made by the pilot, except for an attack roll, most of the rolling would have been the crew mates. Now this battle took place in deep space, a space station was close by, but not a huge risk. So I guess more obstacles and moving around a station to "gain cover" or "hide" is also a strategy, could increase defence I guess, based on how successful the Pilot check to keep cover between him and his opponent. Kind of like a chase mechanism. There are also many talents on the Pilot talent tree that requires checks and that improve stuff for the Ship/vehicle the pilot controls.

Edited by Jegergryte

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So you are using the Smuggler pilot talent tree, and the Player thinks he is going to be some hot shot fighter pilot Ace.  THis is like asking the Pilot of a B-24 to engage the enemy FW-190s en route to the target.

 

I would wait for the Next core book when they come out with some sort of "Bush Pilot" specialization and your player can get into an X-wing and fly cover for the transport.  and they have some better space combat rules.

 

Or like other suggest, Have more obstacles, Enviroment effects, or do more chase scenes. 

 

I'm hoping that AoR comes up with some better things for the Pilots to do without screwing with the basic rules. This pilot issue has come up before and has merit.

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I agree with the overall thrust of the posts here.  If you want an interesting scene for the pilot, you have to be sure to give the pilot something interesting to deal with.  Piloting through a wide-open expanse of empty space isn't particularly stressful for a pilot, and is, indeed, something that *anyone* with even a basic knowledge of a flight stick can do without much of an issue.

 

Setting up a space combat scenario where the pilot has nothing interesting to do is no different than setting up a slicing encounter where the only job the combat monkeys have is to bash down a door.  Not particularly interesting for them.

 

Think of the scenes in Star Wars where the pilot(s) were doing something more interesting than the gunner(s).  They were actively dealing with avoiding things, ranging from Star Destroyers (at close range), to asteroids, to massive amounts of incoming fire (at that volume, incoming fire is a collision hazard, just like asteroids).

 

The talents from the Pilot tree open up additional possibilities, even in the 'big empty expanse of space' scenes, but if you have a Pilot character, and you want to give them a chance to shine, combat on a big empty 'map' isn't the way to go about it.

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I think your pilot discovered one of the things about piloting a freighter... they're not the same as a starfighter. However, there are lots of other opportunities and ways that they can turn that sluggish beast into a screaming porcupine of death. :)

 

Gain the Advantage works when a ship is going at a speed of 4+ --reflecting that it's more the domain of a starfighter. However, one of the first talents a pilot can get is "Full Throttle" which they can increase the vehicle's top speed by 1 by performing a Hard Piloting check as an action... It lasts for as many rounds as the pilot has cunning... and at the end of it, the pilot can make another check to keep it going. During that time, a YT-1300 can then use Gain the Advantage during all those rounds.

 

I'm hoping your hotshot pilot spent the 5xp it takes to get the "Full Throttle" talent. Or if she hasn't, she has it for next time. :)

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Gain the Advantage works when a ship is going at a speed of 4+ --reflecting that it's more the domain of a starfighter. However, one of the first talents a pilot can get is "Full Throttle" which they can increase the vehicle's top speed by 1 by performing a Hard Piloting check as an action... It lasts for as many rounds as the pilot has cunning... and at the end of it, the pilot can make another check to keep it going. During that time, a YT-1300 can then use Gain the Advantage during all those rounds.

 

I'm hoping your hotshot pilot spent the 5xp it takes to get the "Full Throttle" talent. Or if she hasn't, she has it for next time. :)

Full Throttle does not let a ship perform any actions or maneuver that it cannot normally perform at its baseline speed. If your ship doesn't have a Speed 4+ without using Full Throttle, you're still not going to be able to use Gain the Advantage.

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I see that now. I stand corrected. :wacko: Hm... Another alternative is to have the ship's engines modified for increased speed, which it would then meet the requirements... and would need an great pilot to counteract the reduced strain that the ship can take.

 

As others have mentioned, turn it into a chase with space junk debris... and perhaps if they have leadership or discipline, take a Fire Discipline action to help the gunners.

 

The other thing that a pilot can do, is take one or two maneuvers after the gunner fire with their initiative slot, to then move the ship out of the firing range of the attacking vessels. It will force the attacking vessels to spend a fly maneuver to close the range rather than to spend it on a "gain the advantage" roll.

 

Lastly, there's nothing in these rules saying that these maneuvers don't involve some sort of dice rolling. Gain the Advantage is a specific Action, but you could really make combat more interesting by having your hotshot pilot apply piloting rolls to all maneuvers to reflect the stresses of combat. The dice come into play, and show how well (or not) the pilot is maneuvering. The pilot can then generate successes and advantages listed in table 7-5 that can then be used to add free maneuvers or provide boost dice to anybody else aboard the ship for further actions.

 

Normally pilots don't need to roll for routine stuff, but starship combat isn't routine...

Edited by Agatheron

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Gain the Advantage works when a ship is going at a speed of 4+ --reflecting that it's more the domain of a starfighter. However, one of the first talents a pilot can get is "Full Throttle" which they can increase the vehicle's top speed by 1 by performing a Hard Piloting check as an action... It lasts for as many rounds as the pilot has cunning... and at the end of it, the pilot can make another check to keep it going. During that time, a YT-1300 can then use Gain the Advantage during all those rounds.

 

I'm hoping your hotshot pilot spent the 5xp it takes to get the "Full Throttle" talent. Or if she hasn't, she has it for next time. :)

Full Throttle does not let a ship perform any actions or maneuver that it cannot normally perform at its baseline speed. If your ship doesn't have a Speed 4+ without using Full Throttle, you're still not going to be able to use Gain the Advantage.

 

Without reading the Talent I would think maybe a good way to use Triumph here would to be allow those manuevers in this case. Even with the maneuver draw back this is still a good talent for 5 xp to get away or catch up in any ship.

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I see that now. I stand corrected. :wacko: Hm... Another alternative is to have the ship's engines modified for increased speed, which it would then meet the requirements... and would need an great pilot to counteract the reduced strain that the ship can take.

 

As others have mentioned, turn it into a chase with space junk debris... and perhaps if they have leadership or discipline, take a Fire Discipline action to help the gunners.

 

The other thing that a pilot can do, is take one or two maneuvers after the gunner fire with their initiative slot, to then move the ship out of the firing range of the attacking vessels. It will force the attacking vessels to spend a fly maneuver to close the range rather than to spend it on a "gain the advantage" roll.

 

Lastly, there's nothing in these rules saying that these maneuvers don't involve some sort of dice rolling. Gain the Advantage is a specific Action, but you could really make combat more interesting by having your hotshot pilot apply piloting rolls to all maneuvers to reflect the stresses of combat. The dice come into play, and show how well (or not) the pilot is maneuvering. The pilot can then generate successes and advantages listed in table 7-5 that can then be used to add free maneuvers or provide boost dice to anybody else aboard the ship for further actions.

 

Normally pilots don't need to roll for routine stuff, but starship combat isn't routine...

There certainly is something saying that these Maneuvers don't require rolls: the fact that they're Maneuvers not Actions.

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There certainly is something saying that these Maneuvers don't require rolls: the fact that they're Maneuvers not Actions.

I agree that they don't require rolls, but I am trying to come up with ideas to help the OP. Piloting is one of those odd skills where the primary action for the pilot is precisely to perform maneuvers. Gain the advantage is a specific action that uses piloting skill, but as noted, not usable in a base model YT-1300. Of course, piloting checks come far more into play in a difficult environment, but in clear space a good pilot will have a few tricks up her sleeve.

The maneuvers don't require rolls, but for interest sake, put the dice on the table and let the pilot roll them and see what narrative emerges from rolling the dice!

Edited by Agatheron

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This has all been fantastic. I sat down with the player (happens to be my wife) and explained what you guys pointed out. I made sure the party has enough money to modify the ship (we only play once a month, so I have been lavish with XP and Credits so they can see some progression over the course of a year).

 

She's also investing heavily into the Piloting tree. I explained that the game is tailored to what the players want to do. If she wanted to rewrite her character and write out the piloting stuff, I'd stress space combat less so, unless the players looked to initiate it. She said she really wanted to "be the pilot" so I'll likely have far more varied and interesting piloting scenarios in the future.

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The maneuvers don't require rolls, but for interest sake, put the dice on the table and let the pilot roll them and see what narrative emerges from rolling the dice!

 

It seems to me a better solution to breaking the game is to boost the ship specs through mods, or let the pilot acquire a Z-95 or something and fly escort.  It's unfortunate that the player invested all that XP into one tree without researching the ship, and felt useless for one session, but soon enough they'll get their day.

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Point taken. Then again, usually if a freighter is involved in space combat, it is far more likely to be a chase-type situation rather than a straight up combat mission. The pilot is trying to put as much distance between her ship and the opposing ships as possible in order to get to safety, be it friendly space or jumping to hyperspace. Most freighter pilots know that they're going to be outclassed by any fighter craft they come across. As such, using the chase mechanic can make the pilot's skills far more useful.

The Millenium Falcon is a huge exception, it was so heavily modified as to be capable of a combat mission. Of its many upgrades, it certainly would be a speed 4 ship...

Even so, in EpIV, Solo took the gunnery chair, rather than the pilot's seat... Having Chewie keep it level while making the caculations for the jump. In EpV he took the pilot's controls when confronted with a seriously dense asteroid belt.

I think tailoring your encounters to your party's strengths is certainly wise.

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To make things interesting for t

I make the pilot roll for piloting maneuvers. This allows the better pilots to be better and adds ATTD into the mix.

Let me explain this a little more. To make things interesting for the pilot during combat I have required that the pilot maneuvers for silhouette 4 ships require an action and a successful piloting check. Silhouette 3 and below ships will be run btb.

It has made combat more exciting for the pilot. Not sure if I will keep this in the long run but it is working for now.

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To make things interesting for t

I make the pilot roll for piloting maneuvers. This allows the better pilots to be better and adds ATTD into the mix.

Let me explain this a little more. To make things interesting for the pilot during combat I have required that the pilot maneuvers for silhouette 4 ships require an action and a successful piloting check. Silhouette 3 and below ships will be run btb.

It has made combat more exciting for the pilot. Not sure if I will keep this in the long run but it is working for now.

Adding a check to accelerating and flying straight in a freighter makes it more exciting? I don't think we would enjoy the same things.

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Your pilot can always use his or her action to fire a weapon, if you have one free to use. In our campaign, we've got a good gunner, a good mechanic and a good pilot. If the ship needs repairs, the mechanic could do that while the pilot could fire the ship's second turret (it's a YT-1300).

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