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Ionman

Space Combat - Speed Issues

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I ran into a situation last night in which my PC's were escorting an Action VI Bulk Transport as part of a "legitimate" financial endeavour. They were ambushed by Pirates and combat ensued. My PC's engaged the main pirate vessel in a dog fight, while the Bulk Transport (unarmed) was targeted by a minion group of Cloakshape Fighters.

The PC's decided that the Transport should try to "out run" the Cloakshapes until they could deal with their main pirate problem, then sweep in and assist them. The Transport is Speed 2, and the Cloaks are Speed 4. The Transport began it's "run" at medium range from the pursuing Cloakshapes.

Then the rules broke down and the Transport, despite being the much slower vessel, became mechanically indistinct from it's pursuers. The Transport moves two range bands, and then the Cloakshapes do. The Transport retains it's distance at Medium range. Rinse, repeat.

RAW, in open space, the Transport gets away, every time. 

Now, as the GM, I said, "Ok, then this becomes a chase scene, in which the use of opposed piloting checks come into play." as is suggested in the Rule Book. Except, now my PC's argue that I've removed a valid tactic from their strategy and that the "Chase Scene" is the GM's way of taking away their control of the situation. They also argue that a chase scene only works in a cinematic sequence, and has no place in turn by turn combat (which I'm inclined to agree with).

 

Has anyone else encountered this kind of mechanics manipulation? 
 

 

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"A starship or vehicle with silhouette 5 or higher can only benefit from one Piolot Only maneuver in a round." EotE. page 232.

 

Essentially, it can only do one Fly maneuver to the two being done by the fighters. Assuming it's trying to get away, they gain on it by one maneuver per round.

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It's assumed that in space combat, ships aren't moving in perfectly straight lines. They are diving and weaving around trying not to get shot. You are right to switch to a Chase when you did.

 

Also, this game isn't like SAGA in that there is a robust rule system that is universally applicable for everything. This one is designed around a GM who makes common sense rulings rather than tightly adhering to a rule-book.

 

If doing the thing that makes sense causes a problem with a group, I'd be more apt to blame the group.

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How was that a valid tactic for players? It made absolutely no sense... The transport can barely lumber away while the cloakshapes would close in a round or two. The chase mechanics are the official rules for it and the players trying to rules lawyer their way out of it is terrible!

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I don't see how a chase seen would be bad.  There tactic didn't take into account that the transport was half the speed of the fighters.  It shouldn't be able to stay out of range for more then a round or two depending on starting distance.  When you combine that with the slower speed of the large ship.  Well, their tactics were flawed.

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How was that a valid tactic for players? It made absolutely no sense... The transport can barely lumber away while the cloakshapes would close in a round or two. The chase mechanics are the official rules for it and the players trying to rules lawyer their way out of it is terrible!

It's a valid tactic for delaying the engagement by 1 or 2 rounds, but beyond that it's fairly useless. Since the OP said that the transport was just trying to survive while the PCs dealt with something else, this may have given them the time they needed.

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"A starship or vehicle with silhouette 5 or higher can only benefit from one Piolot Only maneuver in a round." EotE. page 232.

 

Well, that solves that in the case of my actual example. Now, in the case that the ships were both say, SIL 4? The problem still exists. 

Invoking chase rules, while other ships are still in a rigid turn by turn combat, starts to break the immersion for the players. it also divides the game play into two, independent systems, one based on using maneuvers to navigate range bands per turn, and another which allows piloting checks to gain movement advantage, despite possibly being in a slower ship. 

It would almost always be beneficial for A PC (with training in Space Pilot) to invoke chase rules if trying to pursue a faster ship, or escape one - rather than be locked into turn by turn "fly" mechanic. Does the GM rule that it's only a chase if they say so? In which case my PC's would be right to say that I was denying them use of a beneficial game mechanic for the sake of forcing a narrative situation upon them. 

It just seems that in any situation that involves closing the distance on an enemy ship, the PC's would want it to be a chase. In turn, if the PC's are being chased, the RAW would be in there favour to treat it as a standard combat, using range bands and "fly" to guarantee avoiding their pursuer. 

 

Would it stand to reason that every "fly" manuever should be an opposed piloting check against the "Flyer" they are trying to engage with? It just seems an odd thing for it to matter in a chase, but not in combat. 

 

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You'll note that while the fighters are chasing it, the transport cannot exceed Medium range (a restriction on Speed 2-4. This means that the fighters can close on it by giving up actions to take another maneuver (minions can't opt to take Strain for extra maneuvers). The transport will counter, going to Short, but then the concussion missiles smash the transport on the next turn if it doesn't surrender.

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It is important to keep in mind that for the sake of space combat, Speeds 2, 3, and 4 are identical when it comes to pursuit situations. The Pc's knew that, and thus used a game mechanic to their advantage.

It is as simple as the PC's saying "we fly away." As a GM I say, "Well, they catch you. They are faster and eventually will engage you. Lets say 2 turns." and the player opens the book to the FLY manuever section and says, "It clearly says here that you can't. I'm speed 2, and you are speed 4, which is the same thing -You use two manuevers, I use two manuevers. I fly away."  And that was it. Nothing to be done, except say - it's a chase - and then begin playing with two different engagement mechanics at the same time. 

What would you do? 
 

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As my own rule of thumb, I tend to switch to chase rules when it looks like the pursued is "kiting" the pursuer, since, as you've pointed out, the turn-by-turn tactic favors the pursued with little downside.

 

With the chase mechanic, the players can say, "we fly away," and I can lay the dice on the table and tell them to "prove it." Then it's not just raw speed, but also pilot skill that determines the outcome.

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"A starship or vehicle with silhouette 5 or higher can only benefit from one Piolot Only maneuver in a round." EotE. page 232.

 

Well, that solves that in the case of my actual example. Now, in the case that the ships were both say, SIL 4? The problem still exists. 

Invoking chase rules, while other ships are still in a rigid turn by turn combat, starts to break the immersion for the players. it also divides the game play into two, independent systems, one based on using maneuvers to navigate range bands per turn, and another which allows piloting checks to gain movement advantage, despite possibly being in a slower ship. 

It would almost always be beneficial for A PC (with training in Space Pilot) to invoke chase rules if trying to pursue a faster ship, or escape one - rather than be locked into turn by turn "fly" mechanic. Does the GM rule that it's only a chase if they say so? In which case my PC's would be right to say that I was denying them use of a beneficial game mechanic for the sake of forcing a narrative situation upon them. 

It just seems that in any situation that involves closing the distance on an enemy ship, the PC's would want it to be a chase. In turn, if the PC's are being chased, the RAW would be in there favour to treat it as a standard combat, using range bands and "fly" to guarantee avoiding their pursuer. 

 

Would it stand to reason that every "fly" manuever should be an opposed piloting check against the "Flyer" they are trying to engage with? It just seems an odd thing for it to matter in a chase, but not in combat. 

 

 

 

 

I would suggest that a chase only applies when someone is racing to get out of combat and someone else wishes to stop them.  Simply changing range bands shouldn't begin a chase.

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It would seem to me that any time a pilot wants to widen the space between two ships, when one wants to close, would have to be an opposed piloting check - for the sake of fairness across the board.

 

Maybe something as simple as the pilot declaring that they are trying to maintain distance between their ship, and one other, as a Piloting manuever. This marked ship then has to make opposed piloting checks to close the distance. 

I like Spjork's "prove it" dice. It just seems that it should either be all the time, or none of the time, not just when I think the PC's are trying to abuse the game mechanics. 

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If one pilot is trying to get away while another is trying to catch up, it's a chase. That's pretty much the definition of the word "chase", so I don't see how anyone can reasonably argue against it.

 

Now, if both parties are spoiling for a fight there's no need for the chase mechanic; just use initiative slots and maneuvers as needed to see when the ships come into firing range of each other and who gets to fire first.

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Invoking chase rules, while other ships are still in a rigid turn by turn combat, starts to break the immersion for the players.

 

 

If your players are gaming the system to allow slower ships to outrun faster ones, then there isn't any immersion to break.

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Invoking chase rules, while other ships are still in a rigid turn by turn combat, starts to break the immersion for the players.

 

If your players are gaming the system to allow slower ships to outrun faster ones, then there isn't any immersion to break.

Additionally to this the chase mechanics provide a reasonable way to run it in turn by turn combat. Roll at the beginning to see distance moved then do your actions in the normal initiative order. I think the mechanics are very forgiving and make sense.

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If one pilot is trying to get away while another is trying to catch up, it's a chase. That's pretty much the definition of the word "chase", so I don't see how anyone can reasonably argue against it.

 

Now, if both parties are spoiling for a fight there's no need for the chase mechanic; just use initiative slots and maneuvers as needed to see when the ships come into firing range of each other and who gets to fire first.

Hypothetical situation. Open Space. Pc's have a ship armed with a Heavy Laser cannon with short range. They decide that they want to maintain short range on a target, but move away when said enemy closes to close. The enemy ship is SIL 4, Speed 4 and the PC's are SIL 4, Speed 3. 

Challenge - As a GM, stop the PC's from kiting the enemy ship to death with their short range weapon - without invoking the chase rules (because clearly both intend to fight, so no chase). Go.

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If one pilot is trying to get away while another is trying to catch up, it's a chase. That's pretty much the definition of the word "chase", so I don't see how anyone can reasonably argue against it.

 

Now, if both parties are spoiling for a fight there's no need for the chase mechanic; just use initiative slots and maneuvers as needed to see when the ships come into firing range of each other and who gets to fire first.

Hypothetical situation. Open Space. Pc's have a ship armed with a Heavy Laser cannon with short range. They decide that they want to maintain short range on a target, but move away when said enemy closes to close. The enemy ship is SIL 4, Speed 4 and the PC's are SIL 4, Speed 3. 

Challenge - As a GM, stop the PC's from kiting the enemy ship to death with their short range weapon - without invoking the chase rules (because clearly both intend to fight, so no chase). Go.

 

Easy. The moment they start trying to move away while the other ship is trying to close - chase. That's it. The very second they no longer want to close but want to increase or maintain a set distance while the other ship wants to close, it's a chase.

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Invoking chase rules, while other ships are still in a rigid turn by turn combat, starts to break the immersion for the players.

 

If your players are gaming the system to allow slower ships to outrun faster ones, then there isn't any immersion to break.

Additionally to this the chase mechanics provide a reasonable way to run it in turn by turn combat. Roll at the beginning to see distance moved then do your actions in the normal initiative order. I think the mechanics are very forgiving and make sense.

 

So, my question becomes; why aren't we always using the opposed piloting checks for range band changes in combat?  They make narrative sense, they reward your pilot for being a good pilot, and they allow variance in an otherwise easily gamed static (speed 2 3 4) combat manuever system. 

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So, my question becomes; why aren't we always using the opposed piloting checks for range band changes in combat?  They make narrative sense, they reward your pilot for being a good pilot, and they allow variance in an otherwise easily gamed static (speed 2 3 4) combat manuever system. 

 

Well, sometimes it makes sense, other times it won't, or you can't - for whatever reason. I usually only use it if they are escaping law enforcement, when they are set on leaving, but sometimes chase movement and "actual" movement in an area are not equal, and in those circumstances movement towards a friendly or enemy ship not partaking in the chase matters, for instance leading you pursuers within range of an allied capital ship...

 I

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Thanks, Jegergryte. Great points. 

I think I'm going to start using opposed pilot checks as the norm, leaving out the "friendly ships" examples and when it goes against narrative sense. 

I think that the GM shouldn't always be asking, do I use special rules here? It leaves your PC's (mine especially, as they love a good rules romp) guessing at what to expect as the standard rule. Nothing pulls a game apart faster than pulling out the rule book. It is one thing to keep space combat simple and cinematic, but without engaging core mechanics - like simple movement - in predictable ways, the PC's are going to become disenfranchised with he system. I can speak from experience.  

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It seems to me the movement and range rules, especially in space combat are the toughest things for many veteran roleplayers to grasp in this ruleset. It may be that we have RPG elements that have statistics, much as any other RPG, yet one is expected to use those stats in a cinematic, relative and narrative fashion - NOT in a strict Stat A is better then Stat B comparison. The stats are there to support or inform the narrative.

 

Look at the design of the system. All the stats are meant to support the narrative function of the dice. They're not written-in-stone, player-argument fodder to foil the GM with. That goes against the spirit of the design. How many times throughout the rulebook do we see phrases such "up to the GM" or "these are just examples" or "narrative", "cinematic" and "relative"?

 

From many discussions and posts I see on this forum, those who are having a tough time or simply just dislike it tend to turn to the familiar, "old" way of doing things - rule lawyering, grids, hexes, and house rules. That's simply NOT this design. It certainly takes some getting used to - but I for one think once it's second nature to myself and my players, space combat WILL be incredibly cinematic and narrative, not slowed down by those old familar, RPG crutches. We play Battletech and X-wing to get our technical rule and miniatures-on-a-grid thing on, we play EotE for cinematic, FAST, RPG stories.

Edited by mrvander

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It seems to me the movement and range rules, especially in space combat are the toughest things for many veteran roleplayers to grasp in this ruleset. It may be that we have RPG elements that have statistics, much as any other RPG, yet one is expected to use those stats in a cinematic, relative and narrative fashion - NOT in a strict Stat A is better then Stat B comparison. The stats are there to support or inform the narrative.

 

Look at the design of the system. All the stats are meant to support the narrative function of the dice. They're not written-in-stone, player-argument fodder to foil the GM with. That goes against the spirit of the design. How many times throughout the rulebook do we see phrases such "up to the GM" or "these are just examples" or "narrative", "cinematic" and "relative"?

 

From many discussions and posts I see on this forum, those who are having a tough time or simply just dislike it tend to turn to the familiar, "old" way of doing things - rule lawyering, grids, hexes, and house rules. That's simply NOT this design. It certainly takes some getting used to - but I for one think once it's second nature to myself and my players, space combat WILL be incredibly cinematic and narrative, not slowed down by those old familar, RPG crutches. We play Battletech and X-wing to get our technical rule and miniatures-on-a-grid thing on, we play EotE for cinematic, FAST, RPG stories.

Great point, it is hard to break 20+ year gaming habits.

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Hypothetical situation. Open Space. Pc's have a ship armed with a Heavy Laser cannon with short range. They decide that they want to maintain short range on a target, but move away when said enemy closes to close. The enemy ship is SIL 4, Speed 4 and the PC's are SIL 4, Speed 3. 

Challenge - As a GM, stop the PC's from kiting the enemy ship to death with their short range weapon - without invoking the chase rules (because clearly both intend to fight, so no chase). Go.

 

 

Honestly, I'm not sold on making Piloting checks in open terrain for chases. If everyone is moving in a straight line, the faster vehicle wins. I'd take the difference in speed and check that value as speed to determine how long (so 3 vs 4 has a difference of 1, and 1 speed vehicles take 2 maneuvers to change 1 range).

 

Of course, in those situations savvy pilots look for hazardous areas to lose their pursuers ("they'd be crazy to follow us"). 

 

 

 

From many discussions and posts I see on this forum, those who are having a tough time or simply just dislike it tend to turn to the familiar, "old" way of doing things - rule lawyering, grids, hexes, and house rules. That's simply NOT this design. It certainly takes some getting used to - but I for one think once it's second nature to myself and my players, space combat WILL be incredibly cinematic and narrative, not slowed down by those old familar, RPG crutches. We play Battletech and X-wing to get our technical rule and miniatures-on-a-grid thing on, we play EotE for cinematic, FAST, RPG stories.

 

It's funny, because those "old" ways of doing things are fairly new as far as the hobby is concerned. The real old ways (like 70's, early 80's) fall right in line with this: Loose rules, and the GM fills in the gaps. d20 really shifted a whole generation of gamers towards having specific rules for all occasions rather than just making something work at the table. 

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