Star fighter combat in Age of Rebellion

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Captain Fluffy
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Star fighter combat in Age of Rebellion

Post by Captain Fluffy » Mon Feb 09, 2015 11:37 pm

In Age of Rebellion I recently had an issue with the speed and overall feel of the space combat (which was a fairly busy one involving 5 PC craft versus 6 opponents). I have had a re-read of the rules and, whilst I did make some mistakes in the session, there are several possible issues that jump out.

Problems that I perceive at the moment.

A) The current system largely ignores pilot skill unless you are flying through a debris field or other set of obstacles.

B) The ‘gain the advantage’ action prevents the pilot shooting and can be easily overturned by the opposing pilot using Gain the advantage on their own turn. The skill check for this action only takes into account the relative speed to the ships and not pilot skill.

C) A ship with a single pilot can’t easily shoot.

D) The system also largely ignores the relative speeds of the ships.

These problem have only been encountered in snub fighter combat. Previous combats involving freighters that I have run in Edge of the Empire have always gone reasonably well.

The proposal I have for resolving this is pretty limited. I was thinking of introducing an additional pilot only action call Dogfight to compliment the available actions and manoeuvers available to pilots. However to make life easier I will summarize the whole process and available options and also highlight my own interpretation.

Option 1

I am looking at pilot only actions and manoeuvers as I think the RAW work perfectly well for non pilots.

Manoeuvre options For pilots.
Basically their are 4 but one of those is normally only used once. In general I am happy with these and they are summarized below.

1. Fly – get where you want to go. Increase or reduce speed by 1 up to ships maximum.

2. Punch it- increase speed to maximum and take strain equal to difference between final speed and starting speed.

3. Stay on Target. Positive is that you upgrade attacks maybe by you. Negative is that you upgrade attacks made against you

4. Evasive Manoeuvres – Positive is that you upgrade difficulty of attacks made against you. Negative is that you upgrade difficult of attacks you make.

It should be noted that only the 'Fly' action guarantees that you get where you want to go. The other choices could mean you follow your target / or try and avoid being a target and end up anywhere. If your target if fixed then the ‘stay on target’ option would mean that you are moving towards it but otherwise it is out of your hands. You can do more than one manoeuver and take 2 system strain and 2 pilot strain (unless you have 2 pilots in one ship doing the two manoeuvres).

For example Imagine you are flying an x-wing down a trench towards a target. The enemy knows what you are trying to do and concentrates fire accordingly. Doing an ‘evasive manoeuver’ only is the equivalent of leaving the trench to get away from the turbolasers. Doing both an evasive manoeuvers and a stay on target costs you strain but keeps you going in the right direction. Similarly if you are in a dogfight and want to move toward as safe hyperspace jump point you would need to be doing a fly manoeuver every round to get there. The upshot of this is that good pilots need to be good at taking and removing strain (which suits the talent trees because that is where a lot of their talents lie). In previous games I have very rarely found strain to be used to the extent that I think the game designers intended.

Action options for Pilots.

This is where is changes need to be made.

1. Attack with ship weapon. Make an attack roll with any weapon you wish.

2. Gain the advantage – try and negate the evasive manoeuvers of another pilot. Easy check but can’t attack (but good if you are lining up a gunner).

3. NEW: Dogfight – Make an opposed piloting roll vs ship. This is modified by handling and also by differential speed – faster ship gets boost dice, slower ships get setback dice. If successful the pilot can make a free attack with a piloting primary weapon but must take 2 strain. If failed can still make attack but it is now upgraded 1 once and must still take the strain.

So if, for example, the opponent is using Evasive Manoeuvers the attacker has three options.

1. Just attack and except the penalty – which could be modified by your own choice of manoeuver

2. Use gain the advantage. Easier check which cancels out penalties related to evasive manoeuvers until the end of the pilots next turn but can be easily overturned by the rival pilot using the same manoeuver. However it is a good choice if you have a gunner.

3. Use the new action Dogfight. If you succeed you make an attack ignoring the opponents manoeuver. If you fail you can still make an attack but it is upgraded (which could lead to three upgrades - once for opponents evasive manoeuver, once for your own evasive manoeuvers and once for a failed dogfight check).

Option 2

When fighting fighter to fighter we could replace both ‘stay on Target’ and ‘evasive manoeuvers’ with Dogfight. Win the check in your initiative and get a upgrade to attack, win it defensively and get a upgrade to defence.

If this was done then Stay on Target and Evasive Manoeuvers would only be used if you are attacking a larger ship.

Any thoughts?

On a separate note the basic assumption for NPC astromech droid is as follows:-

Manoeuvre – NPC assumed to be using the assist action (+1 boost dice to pilots checks)

Action. The only action a NPC droid will typically do is damage control. As a pilot you can ask them to try and boost shields and the like but by default they will be trying to remove system strain.
Give me more fluff and less rules

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Re: Star fighter combat in Age of Rebellion

Post by AndrewMcLeish » Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:32 pm

I'm a little rusty on the Space Master rules for space combat since unfortunately the story came to a close before they had saved up enough to get off planet. However... the issues that you mention are common to most games. The way that Space Master gets around the one man fighter issues (they are called SMACs in SM - Single Man Attack Conveyance) is essentially to fluff over them. Which seems a bit counter-intuitive for a game which has a rule for almost everything.

The way they get around it is to separate maneuver skills and combat skills. Your maneuver skill in this instance is likely to be N-space Piloting which is the one that lets you get to where you are going (difficulty would be increased depending on maneuver - so being Mr Skywalker on the Death Star where the 'canyon' he was flying down at high speed had a lot of sticking out bits, would upgrade that to a Hard or Very Hard maneuver). Your combat skill would be Combat Pilot, which allows you to assign your Combat Pilot skill bonus to either the ship offensive bonus or the ship defensive bonus (or any split that you want).

A shot may be taken but if the pilot is shooting then it is at a penalty - normally a SM ship requires a number of crew, and each weapon requires its own gunner. However... due to their size, SMACs tend to have fixed weapons, which according to the rules means that accuracy is more dependent on piloting skill than gunnery, so SMACs and their slightly larger counterparts TMACs (basically any ship with an enclosed cockpit rather than a bridge) do not get that penalty.

Things get into Space Master complexity by having other rules like the size of the weapon affecting what you can shoot (the bigger the weapon the more damage it can do, but a SMAC simply cannot be tracked quickly enough by a large weapon) and how good the reactor and power grid is in the ship affecting how often you can fire.

However, the bottom line is that the design of a fighter craft is different to a regular space ship by necessity as it is flown in a completely different way, so there are slightly variant rules. In this instance I would be tempted to bend the rules to allow an element of space-heroism - while Star Wars didn't create the concept of the single man fighter, it certainly popularised it, it seems only fair!
"If you don't want the players to ruin the plot, don't let them roll the dice. Because if you give them a 3% chance to do something, they will roll 3% or less at least one third of the time."

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Re: Star fighter combat in Age of Rebellion

Post by Hex » Mon Jun 05, 2017 9:25 am

Based on our experiences in the AoR Empire game I think there needs to be some sort of (for want of a better term) arc dodge action. The TIE/ln is unbelievably fragile when you have a player character sat in it.
Into the mercy seat I climb
My head is shaved, my head is wired
And like a moth that tries
To enter the bright eye
So I go shuffling out of life
Just to hide in death awhile
And anyway I never lied.

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