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Looking for starship design and combat rules you can adapt to BRP?


The Tweaker

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I've always thought that the ship rules from Sailing on the Seas of Fate could easily be adapted to spaceship rules.

(I've also thought that they could be adapted for mecha and for mass combat rules.)

Edit: There are a lot of links there. Anything that jumps out at you?

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There are a lot of links there. Anything that jumps out at you?

Well, it really depends on the flavour of space combat you are after.

If, for instance, you are looking for something like Traveller, you may visit the British Isles Traveller Support Group (www.bits.org.uk) and download a full set of starship building and combat rules from the Archive/Rules section of their website.

For something more 'hard'-ish (think 2300AD, by GDW) - including vector-based movement - there is another complete ruleset here.

Here, you can find the complete 2nd ed. Interceptor rules for starfighter combat, originally published by FASA.

And finally, you can also download the Full Thrust rulesets from the Ground Zero Games website.

It is not in the list, but I just remembered that you can find a summary of the Space Opera Combat System (SOCS) for GURPS in this link. It is a very streamlined and abstract combat system originally published in GURPS Lensman. I think it should be easy to adapt to BRP.

Happy owner of number 226 of 420

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I've always thought that the ship rules from Sailing on the Seas of Fate could easily be adapted to spaceship rules.

(I've also thought that they could be adapted for mecha and for mass combat rules.)

Edit: There are a lot of links there. Anything that jumps out at you?

That's the best idea I've read all week. It's so simple, it makes me wonder why no one brought it up before. :thumb:

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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That's the best idea I've read all week. It's so simple, it makes me wonder why no one brought it up before. :thumb:

I've noodled away at something on that basis, actually based of the stuff in the RQIII GM's book, which also formed the basis of the stuff in Sailor on the Seas of Fate and IIRC I believe Jason has also done the same briefly at some point.

The problem comes when you try and apply the rules to multiple settings. How do you generalise from those rules in such away that they are useful for most SF settings? Even ignoring setting with no ships, or where ships are irrelevant in immediate play (there's no starship combat in Dune for example...), how do you generalise a set a rules to cover Babylon 5, Star Wars, Farscape and Alastair Reynold's The Prefect?

The answer is you don't, because you can't. Any combination of Starship design and combat system has to make assumptions about ship and weapon performance, irrespective of the techno-babble used to justify how the ships behave. Small ships in the B5 need to use Jump gates to enter and exit Jump space; in the Revelation Space setting no human faction in the main timeline has FTL (well, Skade's Conjoiners try to experiment with it with disastrous results).

I think a far better approach to trying to come up with generic systems that are inevitably NOT generic is to design some example systems: spell out some criteria (both from a setting point of view and from a a game play point of view) and then provided a BRP compatible system that meets those criteria: that's always been BRP's strength in the past, that it has concrete solutions that are easily adapted or rebuilt for different situations...

Cheers,

Nick Middleton

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I think a far better approach to trying to come up with generic systems that are inevitably NOT generic is to design some example systems: spell out some criteria (both from a setting point of view and from a a game play point of view) and then provided a BRP compatible system that meets those criteria: that's always been BRP's strength in the past, that it has concrete solutions that are easily adapted or rebuilt for different situations...

Cheers,

Nick Middleton

This is a fair cop, I think; you run into this problem with pretty much any "counterfactual" subsystem; its why games with embedded magic systems always make assumptions too.

That said, often the specifics of space combat aren't that important to a setting, or at least are within broad parameters. That doesn't mean the combat and ships themselves aren't important, but that the details can be fit into a number of worlds without otherwise impacting the world, unless the system is extremely quirky (a Star Trek-like ship construction and combat system will be able to be fitted into more settings than a system where all FTL travel is dependent on psionic pilots and peculiarities of mindspace, for example).

This also parallels magic systems where some are more portable than others; its why I always thought D&D's fire and forget magic system could be problematic, not only because it was specific, but because it was quirky.

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I've always wanted to treat Starship Combat very simply.

Having played and loathed Traveller and played Ringworld, I am not that experienced in Sci Fi games, but ...

What do Starships do in combat?

They move.

They shoot.

They get shot at.

They damage other Starships.

They take damage themselves.

One bugs out or one gets destroyed/disabled/boarded/whatever.

Now, what do people do in combat?

They move.

They shoot.

They get shot at.

They damage other people.

They get damaged themselves.

One runs away or gets wounded/disabled/killed/captured.

Can anyone see the similarity?

I'd treat Starship combat the same as normal combat.

Starships have locations, AP and HP. They have weapons that do damage. They have forcefields that absorb damage.

Sure, there are extra things to think about. You might be able to do Precise Attacks and target particular subsystems (Drives/Weapons/Life Support) you might even have to have rules for what happens if the hull in penetrated, with air leaks and so on. You'd certainly have rules on the number of charges a weapon has, recharge rates, batteries, how much power a ship has and how much can be fed into shields/weapons.

But, when it comes down to it, you have someone with 60% Pilot Starship, someone with 55% Starship Blaster, a Blaster doing 1D10 damage and a Starship with 6 point Hull and 10 HP in every location. The opponent can't dodge a Blaster but can dodge a Quantum Torpedo using his Pilot Starship. Some Starships might have modifiers, one might be Manouverable and give +20% to Pilot Starship for dodges, another might be Tough and have extra APs, another might have resealable skin or whatever.

Anything a lot more complicated than that is going way too far, in my opinion.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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It is about time that we had a BRP game with starship design and combat rules in it. This has been a major failing of BRP SF games such as Ringworld or Future World. Cthulhu Rising starts to get to grips with the problem, but fails to give us a set of starship design rules.:(

Edited by Conrad
http://www.basicrps.com/core/BRP_quick_start.pdf A sense of humour and an imagination go a long way in roleplaying. ;)
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I've always wanted to treat Starship Combat very simply.

Having played and loathed Traveller and played Ringworld, I am not that experienced in Sci Fi games, but ...

What do Starships do in combat?

They move.

They shoot.

They get shot at.

They damage other Starships.

They take damage themselves.

One bugs out or one gets destroyed/disabled/boarded/whatever.

Now, what do people do in combat?

They move.

They shoot.

They get shot at.

They damage other people.

They get damaged themselves.

One runs away or gets wounded/disabled/killed/captured.

Can anyone see the similarity?

I'd treat Starship combat the same as normal combat.

Starships have locations, AP and HP. They have weapons that do damage. They have forcefields that absorb damage.

Sure, there are extra things to think about. You might be able to do Precise Attacks and target particular subsystems (Drives/Weapons/Life Support) you might even have to have rules for what happens if the hull in penetrated, with air leaks and so on. You'd certainly have rules on the number of charges a weapon has, recharge rates, batteries, how much power a ship has and how much can be fed into shields/weapons.

But, when it comes down to it, you have someone with 60% Pilot Starship, someone with 55% Starship Blaster, a Blaster doing 1D10 damage and a Starship with 6 point Hull and 10 HP in every location. The opponent can't dodge a Blaster but can dodge a Quantum Torpedo using his Pilot Starship. Some Starships might have modifiers, one might be Manouverable and give +20% to Pilot Starship for dodges, another might be Tough and have extra APs, another might have resealable skin or whatever.

Anything a lot more complicated than that is going way too far, in my opinion.

I think you are right. But one thing you forgot IMO: sensors. To "see" another ship or not is a matter of life and death in some space opera settings. This could be modelled like spot hidden skill or on the resistance table. (eg. sensor power 23 vs. ECM 20 or so)

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I've always wanted to treat Starship Combat very simply.

(...)

I'd treat Starship combat the same as normal combat.

Starships have locations, AP and HP. They have weapons that do damage. They have forcefields that absorb damage.

(...)

But, when it comes down to it, you have someone with 60% Pilot Starship, someone with 55% Starship Blaster, a Blaster doing 1D10 damage and a Starship with 6 point Hull and 10 HP in every location. The opponent can't dodge a Blaster but can dodge a Quantum Torpedo using his Pilot Starship. Some Starships might have modifiers, one might be Manouverable and give +20% to Pilot Starship for dodges, another might be Tough and have extra APs, another might have resealable skin or whatever.

Anything a lot more complicated than that is going way too far, in my opinion.

I know most gamers like to have specialized systems for doing this kind of things, but - more or less - that's how I was planning doing it. Call it parallel thinking. ;)

I'd probably steal some critical hit tables from other games, but that's about it.

Happy owner of number 226 of 420

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I think you are right. But one thing you forgot IMO: sensors. To "see" another ship or not is a matter of life and death in some space opera settings. This could be modelled like spot hidden skill or on the resistance table. (eg. sensor power 23 vs. ECM 20 or so)

Sure, there are a lot of things I didn't include. Sensors are one of them.

It's easily covered by having a Sensors skill and resolving against a Stealth skill using whatever method is best.

Crew Quality could gives a boost/penalty to certain activities, individual crew members could have skills to use (The Communications Officer uses Sensors, the Weapons Officer uses Blaster, the Engineer controls Manouver, the Medical Officer controls Life Support and so on), High-Tech equipment could give boosts to certain skills as would the presence of AIs, Alien technology could give boosts as well.

You can make it as complicated as you want, to cover many eventualities, but it basically boils down to "Shoot, Dodge, Absorb Hit".

Ship design is more complicated. I'd treat ships as PCs, whether they are alive/intelligent or not. So, give ships SIZ, CON, INT (?), DEX, POW (?). I'm not sure if they need STR or CHA, but they might be useful, STR might indicate how much cargo a ship can carry. You could have a series of templates showing typical ships of certain classes and base your ship design on one of those or make up a new one. AP/HP might be called Hull Quality/Spaceworthiness, but you'd need something like this. Weapons, propulsion systems, power sources, battery stores, cargo holds, shuttlecraft and so on need to be included as well, so you'd need some way of limiting the number of things you can include in a ship, possibly based on SIZ. You'd need rules or guidelines on how to incorporate extra systems, alien technology, system upgrades and so on. But, it is easy enough to do and keeps well within the BRP ethos.

I'd hope to see something similar in any BRP SciFi/Space System.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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You can make it as complicated as you want, to cover many eventualities, but it basically boils down to "Shoot, Dodge, Absorb Hit"...

Only at such an abstract level that you lose any setting specific colour from including starship combat in the first place: in which case, why bother?

Star Trek space battles involve large damage control crews rushing about the ship, and critical command decisions about angling deflectors (or shields) in particular directions, energy allocation and involve primarily beam weapons: it feels rather like naval warfare of the late nineteenth century. Babylon 5 space combat on the other hand has predominantly projectile based weaponry (with preposterously short ranges, but that's a separate topic), and no forcefields / shields (on earthforce ships at least), plus small fighter craft providing screens for the larger capital ships: it feels like WWII mixed naval and air engagements (BSG goes even further and explicitly models Naval aircraft carriers directly).

If it's worth the effort of including Starship design and Combat in the game with rules, then those rule sshould surely capture the distinctive features of the Starships in the setting that make them interesting? One of (few) things they got right in the Serenity RPG was the extent to which Ships have personalities. But the same rules would be entirely inappropriate for say a B5 game, where ships are treated as technological tools. And rules that would work for B5 or Serenity would struggle to represent starships from Blake's 7 or Dune.

Starships need a bespoke solution, tied to the setting IMO: a BRP Space book would need, as the core book does with "powers", to provide several different but easily adaptable example systems that all build on the core BRP systems but address some of the different archetypes of Starships from SF. A Star wars/Babylon 5/BSG "small fighters, dog fighting combat" type setting, a Star Trek / Honour Harrington "navies of sail in Space" feel, a CJ Cherryh-esque "Jump-riders and FTL distortion universe", a Niven / Reynold's style NOT FTL universe and maybe a Dune style "starships never fight" set up should cover it...

So, who wants to write it then? :D

Cheers,

Nick Middleton

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Absolutely.

One setting's mile-long-starship is not the same as another's.

You wouldn't want the same things on every starship in every game. Each would have different systems, different technology and so on.

But, the core rules should be the same for everything.

So, you'd have a rule for Hull Quality (AP) and another rule for Shields. Shields could be by location or cover the whole ship. They'd have energy costs and would absorb damage. Shields in Star Trek are not the same as Shields in other systems (can't think of one, off-hand, but I've seen one film/series where shields work until they break and another where shields protect a bit and let a bit through). You'd reflect this with rules for different types of shields.

Similarly, a good well-equipped crew will increase your damage control chance, this would apply in most settings. Star Trek uses big Starships with large crews, but other settings have much smaller crews but other ways of handling damage control. Look at Starship Troopers - space combat is deadly in that with chunks getting blown off spaceships left, right and centre, so damage control wouldn't be as important.

So, yes, rules would be added for certain eventualities and there will be a lot of them. But, people will still say "What about the so-and-so spaceships in such-and-such file/series? The rules don't cover Black-Hole_Imploder-Missiles." or whatever.

I'd like to see good BRP Spaceship rules.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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...I'd like to see good BRP Spaceship rules.

I think everybody posting in the thread would - at one point in one of the BRP yahoo groups we kicked several ideas around for a while as well IIRC.

I must dig out my notes on adapting the RQIII ship rules - they weren't particularly brilliant but they'd be a start...

Nick Middleton

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I think you could create adequate space combat rules if you have first a look at the vehicle combat rules of CoC. Instead of cars, use some smaller space ship designs instead. Throw in space weapon systems, shields, sensors and additional crew skills. (every member of a crew - PCs - should be occupied in space combat with some tasks).

Just an idea...

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I think you could create adequate space combat rules if you have first a look at the vehicle combat rules of CoC. Instead of cars, use some smaller space ship designs instead. Throw in space weapon systems, shields, sensors and additional crew skills. (every member of a crew - PCs - should be occupied in space combat with some tasks).

Just an idea...

It would be a start - but bear in mind that Call of Cthulhu doesn't actually have vehicle combat rules, it has car chase rules. IIRC Jason's included a more generic version in the new book for "vehicle" based pursuits. I'll have a look in my copy of the playtest files when I get a chance...

Cheers,

Nick Middleton.

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It would be a start - but bear in mind that Call of Cthulhu doesn't actually have vehicle combat rules, it has car chase rules. IIRC Jason's included a more generic version in the new book for "vehicle" based pursuits. I'll have a look in my copy of the playtest files when I get a chance...

Cheers,

Nick Middleton.

Car chase or star chase? :)

I dont think it matters that much. Just tweaking the rules a little bit. The cars do have HP and APs, (so should the starships too) and instead of investigators firing at fleeing cultistomobiles, you have gunners firing futuristic weapons firing at each others vessel or at space monsters or so.

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Only at such an abstract level that you lose any setting specific colour from including starship combat in the first place: in which case, why bother?

Because you can do a llot at the abstract level without loosing setting color if you do it right. One RPG that I'm fond of is FATE. While a very abstract system, it can handle many things and is easiliy adaptable becuase it is so abstract. Yet the game keeps color and flavor with a few tweaks.

soltakss is right, for the most part vechile combat can be handled like PC combat. Just cut & paste the "flavor enhancers" you need to fit the setting.

BRP actually does that through Superworld. Many superowlrd powers, are built in a manner similar to Chanpions. While a laser blast, Ki Strike, Disintergrator beam, and magentic rail gun are all differernt, the most important game effect are the range, skill% and damage. Much like a RQ hatchet and shortsword are fairly similar in a fucntional aspect in BRP.

Certainly, fine-tuning the system to better fit the setting makes sense for a space combat rule system, but that is desireable for other RPG settings too. As other have pointed out, Chaosium has done this in the past to RQ to apapt it so that it would be suitable for Strombringer, ElfQuest, CoC, etc.

I think the reason why we don't have any rules for statships is just that Chaosium has never released a successful Sci-Fi RPG. Ringworld and FutureWorld were barely blips on the RPG radar. It isn't that Spaceships are tougher to work out than Magic or Superpowers. The old Battle Magic system, while easy, certainly doesn't fit 90%+ of the fantasy settings, but we stil have it.

I think the best way to handle it, and along the lines of how BRP is being organized, would be to work out a basic Hull/HP, MOVE, weapons, skill based system along sotakss idea (and workable along with the old sailing ship rules), and the work up some SPOT RULES for types fo SF settings. Stuff like different methods of FTL propulsion and all that could be in the SPOT RULES.

Come to think of it, the superpower rules could probably handle spaceships. Just limit the powers availably by the setting. For instance, Star Trek gets teleportation, energy weapons, and forcie fields.

Star Trek space battles involve large damage control crews rushing about the ship, and critical command decisions about angling deflectors (or shields) in particular directions, energy allocation and involve primarily beam weapons: it feels rather like naval warfare of the late nineteenth century. Babylon 5 space combat on the other hand has predominantly projectile based weaponry (with preposterously short ranges, but that's a separate topic), and no forcefields / shields (on earthforce ships at least), plus small fighter craft providing screens for the larger capital ships: it feels like WWII mixed naval and air engagements (BSG goes even further and explicitly models Naval aircraft carriers directly).

Nope. Star Trek battles involve a handful of people sitting at consoles, making skill rolls, and saying how large damage control crews are rushing about the ship. On TV the Damage control crews generally boil down to one engineer or scientist character having to make a skill roll. It is really just a half dozen people who are handling the ship, and the other thousand NPCs are just there for color. That matches up well with a RPG group.

As for Bablyon 5 (or any other setting) I again bring up the idea of SPOT RULES.

So, who wants to write it then? :D

Cheers,

Nick Middleton

THat's a good question. A BRPG spaceship's book? IMO I think that one weakness of generic RPG books is that it is impossible to cover all the bases. WE have an infinite capacity to envision settings, but a finite number of pages to cover it. So we prioritize. Personally, I think some Sci-Fi rules for BRP are more important than Superpowers, but since Supers was already written decades ago I can see why it is in the book. BRP does need some decent SCi-Fi stuff it is is going to attempt to cover the genre, and definitely needs some sort of spaceship rules to do so (hey, they put a spaceship on the cover, right?).

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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I think the reason why we don't have any rules for statships is just that Chaosium has never released a successful Sci-Fi RPG. Ringworld and FutureWorld were barely blips on the RPG radar. It isn't that Spaceships are tougher to work out than Magic or Superpowers. The old Battle Magic system, while easy, certainly doesn't fit 90%+ of the fantasy settings, but we stil have it.

And note that both those games were heavily non-spacecraft oriented; the default assumpion in the first was that it'd take place on the Ringworld, and the second was designed for a setting that used stargates for travel.

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And note that both those games were heavily non-spacecraft oriented; the default assumpion in the first was that it'd take place on the Ringworld, and the second was designed for a setting that used stargates for travel.

Yeah. It is a "take the easy way out" approach to Sci-Fi. Sensible for a company who'se bread and butter lied elsewhere (Fantasy with Rq, and latter Horror with CoC). Had either of those two settings became as popluar as CoC, I have no doubt that Chaosiu would have written detailed Starship rules back in the 80s. But the bulk of BRP products have leaned towards fantasy and the supernatural raqther than Sci-Fi. Plus, Sci-Fi has generally been the least successful or profitable genre is the never very healty RPG field. Traveller is the closest thing to a successful Sci-Fi RPG, and it is now with it fourth company or so. So I'm not too surpsed that ships haven't been a major driving focus for BRP.

Chaos stalks my world, but she's a big girl and can take of herself.

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Ship design is more complicated. I'd treat ships as PCs, whether they are alive/intelligent or not. So, give ships SIZ, CON, INT (?), DEX, POW (?). I'm not sure if they need STR or CHA, but they might be useful, STR might indicate how much cargo a ship can carry.

STR is engines. High STR and low SIZ makes for an agile ship that has a good chance to dodge incoming missiles or feint enemy artillerists, the reverse - less so.

Cargo is just part of the overall SIZ.

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