Shuttle vs. shuttle combat

KRingway's picture
August 21, 2015 - 6:07am
I'm toying with the idea of this being possible in the adventure I'm running at the moment. I'm guessing that it could be role-played, but could also be played out via tabletop and hexes. I don't see them as being particularly manoeuvrable without some penalty, especially to the crew inside.

A shuttle could perhaps be armed with a single heavy laser/Ke-5000 in a small turret. This allows shooting both in space and in atmospheres, and could draw power from a parabattery.

I've not figured out the rules set too deeply just yet Wink It just popped into my head as an idea.

Malcadon's picture
August 22, 2015 - 12:33am
Have you thought about arming work pods? Wink

KRingway's picture
August 22, 2015 - 3:08am
They can't go through atmospheres Wink

KRingway's picture
August 22, 2015 - 3:47am
That said, for workpods this option might be fun - if you give the guy in front a laser rifle instead of a wrench Laughing

jedion357's picture
August 22, 2015 - 6:02pm
Malcadon wrote:
Have you thought about arming work pods? Wink

Combat Pods for repulsing boarders crawling around on the skin of the ship.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
August 23, 2015 - 7:28am
As for rules.  Ascent wrote two articles on fighters and different scales of combat for issues 5 and 6 of the Star Frontiersman (Online versions are: Starflight: Starfighters for Alpha Dawn and Shades of Motion. These versions are more up to date than the printed ones as he edited and updated the wiki versions).  You might check that out for ideas.
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KRingway's picture
August 23, 2015 - 7:54am
I thought about using elements from those articles, but they don't really work for me in this instance. I may just rustle up something quick for the game I'm running. As we get closer to the point in the adventure where these events happen, I'll see if it can be role-played out or will need squares/hexes. I say this as sometime when we've had vehicles feature in an adventure we've just role-played instead of tabletopping it Wink

I don't imagine at the moment that it'll be anything more than a chase - one shuttle chasing another towards a planet (in this case, Outer Reach), but we'll see. The deciding factors will be whether the chaser (the baddies) can stop the chased (my players); the latter will have a slight distance advantage over the former, as they will have escaped from a spacestation first. They'll have to shoot at each other in order to slow down their target. Manouevres by either side affect the chance for a successful hit. Receiving a hit also detracts from the chance to hit by either party when they try to return fire.

KRingway's picture
September 24, 2015 - 2:23am
The shuttle vs shuttle fight took place last week. In the end, we role-played it (i.e. via description and task resolution) rather than tabletop it. It went well, although as the referee I had to juggle in my mind and on paper the various distances involved as the fight was taking place, but that was okay. As both shuttles were armed with a single turreted Ke-5000, their attack range was somewhat limited but they could each deal the other quite a lot of damage. We also used the damage per SEU from Alpha Dawn, rather than Zeb's Guide, so lots of dice rolling (which my players like when dealing out damage). Skills used were Pilot, Engineer, and Beam Weapons.

The players had a head start but baddy shuttle did manage to close to about 600m at one point, when the player's engine temporarily stopped, but their engineer saved the day and restarted it just in time. The players managed to dish out quite a lot more damage than they took (my NPC gunner in the chasing shuttle kept rolling really badly) and so the NPCs gave up the pursuit (as I'd decided in advance that they would after taking a certain amount of total damage). The players' shuttle has some damage but nothing that compromises its functionality. They even managed to defend themselves from some ground units with the Ke-5000 once they'd landed.

So, all in all, good fun!

Malcadon's picture
September 24, 2015 - 12:19pm
Space combat is a bit of a blind-spot in my games. If the PCs are caught in combat in space, I would rather focus on having the PCs handle the situation as crewmen within the ship (Damage Control Teams, Medics, Bridge Staff, etc.) than as an armada. I also cannot rationalize putting people in a fighter craft, when it is safer, and more practical to use drone fighters or torpedoes.

On the other hand, its not too unreasonable for two people in shuttles, launches or work-pods to hate each other so much, they would try to kill each other in space. Mind you, such craft are not typically armed, so they are limited to bumping each other, hoping to damage the thrusters or causing a crack in the hull. An aggressor's best bet is to bump a shuttle while its trying to land — in the atmosphere, a bummed ship could burn-up, or on an airless moon or planetoid, hit the ground hard. In any case, I would have both pilots make a piloting roll. Work pods can also grapple and punch each other, and that too would require a piloting roll, but with penalties and can only only do superficial damage (claw arms are not built for combat). In most systems, there are safety rules for maintaining distance, and trying to harm anyone with reckless actions as above is highly illegal in most cases.

Mounting weapons on small craft would be done in rare and extreme cases. Asteroid miners might do this if they feel threatened and terrorists in space stations might build an attack craft with whats at-hand. They would be helpless to any warship or real fighter, but they can do a lot of damage to other small craft, civilian ships and unprotected facilities. I have no rules for dealing with armed spacecraft in my games, but if a player out of the blue says "I'm going to mount guns and bombs on this old work pod and attack the enemy base!", I might get abstract and have the player fight in character-to-character combat, with the craft and ship-mounted weapons as an extension of the character and the stats for pistols, rifles and armor used as placeholders for the ship-mounted weapons and defenses — the character would not take direct hits form ship-mounted weapons, but their normal HP would reflect their ability to stay in a fight with whatever craft they happen to be fighting in.

I hope that was in someways helpful?

KRingway's picture
September 25, 2015 - 5:38am
The main reason the shuttles were armed was because of their being based at Outer Reach - in this case both were operating out of Darkworld Station. A series of events led to the players using a shuttle to escape, the shuttle itself being owned by an NPC. This NPC is a CDC undercover agent, and the players are working for the CDC and various leads and events had led them to Darkworld Station. They were escaping because they'd managed to break out from being incarcerated by the Malthar, and they also knew that they needed to go to the planet below as it seems to be the location of a facility that the Malthar is using for some sort of paramilitary industrial purpose.

The rules, such that they were, worked along these lines:

- Each shuttle moves 400m per turn, with the players having a head start of 500m. A successful hit on either shuttle will cause it to lose 100m in that turn from it's maximum of 400.

- At the start of the next turn a shuttle will be back at 400m per turn.

- Each shuttle has 1000 STA, to all intents and purposes. Each Ke-5000 shot that hits is at the highest SEU setting, using damage per SEU as given in Alpha Dawn.

- If a shuttle is hit, the pilot has to make a skill check to stay in control. Failure means the loss of 100m that turn from the 400. Fumbles meant that the ship would lose all power, and so the engineer would have to make a successful roll to get things working again. The shuttle would still be moving, of course.

- if the baddy shuttle takes more than 700 damage, it will retreat.

That's pretty much it in a nutshell. As it turned out, my baddies kept failing both their pilot rolls and beam weapons roll on several occasions - more than the PCs did - and so didn't manage to get close enough to use grapples. They eventually retreated. The player's shuttle took about 300 damage, so it was pretty much okay. They only missed the baddie shuttle once.