Sunday, 31 May 2015

Preparing a Space Opera Game...

Something I've learned over the years is that no campaign succeeds without adequate preparation, in particular the kind of sandbox setting prep that gives the PCs freedom of action - because linear campaigns, in my experience, fundamentally suck. >:) So over the coming months I plan to expand this post with setting notes and ideas as the mood takes me, until I have something ready to use...

Backgrounds - I'm thinking a Background lets you add your Level to relevant attribute checks. Stars Without Number has the following:

Adventurer - but see below.
Comms Officer
Con Artist
Deck Crew
Security Crew
Transport Specialist

Other Backgrounds not listed would include Asteroid Miner, Bounty Hunter, Command Crew, Pirate, Scavenger Star Knight. It can be anything a player can imagine - IME there is no need to restrict PCs or limit skills. The only thing that matters is that when play starts, everyone is an 'adventurer'.

Gamma World or Mutant Future? Or 5e D&D?
Mutant Future has the charts and tables. It has some legacy issues - without mutations, some MF levels literally are 'dead levels'. 4e D&D Gamma World is great for tabletop & minis, but lacks MF's procedural structures. For online a tweaked version of MF seems a no-brainer, perhaps combined with 5e. For offline either MF+5e+bits of GW, or GW+MF... hmm...

If we use 5e as the base, the following classes are useable in that they are not inherently magical:

Fighter (with Eldritch Knight perhaps for the Jedi types)

Do we need any more? Maybe not. The 5e DMG has high-tech equipment on page 268.

5e DMG has ships on page 119. In any edition of D&D, the basic combat rules ought to work just fine, for the simple reason that D&D's combat system was adapted by Gary Gygax from a naval warfare combat system in the first place! Replace "hp" with "Hull Points"; in Classic D&D these had a 5:1 ratio. 100:1 looks right for a science-fiction game.

Ship initiative: Single-crew ships roll DEX for init as normal. With multi-crew ships the Captain rolls a CHA check to set init.

Ships have the following stats:

Armour Class - How hard the ship is to hit. A factor of maneuverability as well as chaff, screens, and deflective armour. If a ship is evading, typically the Pilot rolls a DEX or INT check and adds (AC-10) to roll to set the enemy's target DC.
Weapons - with range and damage. Military ships typically have fire-linked weapons under the control of the Gunnery Officer, who rolls a DEX or INT check to hit a single target. Against mutiple targets the junior gunnery officers may man individual fire systems. Combat starts at long range (disad on attacks), if both sides are closing it moves to short range in rnd 2.
Tech Level: All rolls (Oppposed Checks, Attacks etc) vs Lower-Tech ships have Advantage. All rolls vs Higher Tech ships have Disadvantage. Simples.
Damage Control: Normally 1 per 20 hull points. As Hit Dice in 5e, but one may be spent every hour. The Chief Engineer must roll a successful WIS check, the DC rolled is the number of Hull Points repaired.
'Damaged': A ship at half hp has lost 1d4x10% of its crew disabled or dead (typically half of each, or roll 2d4x10 for the % of fatalities), and 25% of its systems.
'Disabled': A ship at 0 hp is dead in space, has lost another 1d4x10% of crew disabled or dead, and systems are non-functioning other than emergency life support.
'Destroyed': A ship at negative max hp is completely destroyed, with the death of all crew.

Secondary stats:
Cost - in gold or 'credits'.
Speed - in sf this will be acceleration in Gs.
Crew - standard crew to man ship at full efficiency.
Passengers - standard passenger complement, including marines.
Cargo - in tons, non-living, or crysosleeped.

Ship Base Stats
As per MM NPCs, eg:

Assassin-class Stealth Destroyer AC 15 HP 78 advtg on 1st turn, crits vs surprised foes, sneak attack 1/turn +13 dmg, 2 photon cannon ATT +7 dmg 18/27.

Bandit-class fighter AC 12 HP 11, laser cannon ATT +3 dmg 5/7.

BC-class mothership AC 15 HP 65, 2 photon cannon ATT +5 dmg 6/9, 1 laser ATT +5 dmg 5/7.

Berserker-class assault ship AC 13 HP 67, Reckless Attack - can gain & grant advtg, Heavy Photon Cannon ATT +5 dmg 9/13

Commoner-class light freighter AC 10 HP 4, unarmed or 1 light laser ATT +2 dmg 2/3

Gladiator-class Cruiser AC 16 HP 112, 3 heavy photon cannon ATT +7 dmg 11/16

Guard-class System Defence fighter AC 16 HP 11, laser cannon ATT +3 dmg 4/6

Knight-class Command Frigate AC 18 HP 52, 2 photon cannon ATT +5 dmg 10/15
Command Comms: On a DC 20 CHA check by the Admiral, all allies within short range may add +2 to all attacks & evasion checks on their next turn.

Noble-class yacht AC 15 HP 9, unarmed or laser cannon ATT +3 dmg 5/7

Priest-class hospital ship AC 13 HP 27, normally unarmed

Scout-class scoutship AC 13 HP 16, 2 laser cannon ATT +4 dmg 6/9

Spy-class covert survey ship AC 12 HP 27, 2 light photon cannon ATT +4 dmg 5/7
Sneak attack 1/turn +7 dmg when has advtg or target engaged with ally

Thug-class heavy raider AC 11 HP 32, 2 laser cannon ATT +4 dmg 5/7
Pack Tactics: Advtg vs foes engaged by ally at short range.

Tribal-class fighter AC 12 HP 11, laser cannon ATT +3 dmg 4/6
Pack Tactics: Advtg vs foes engaged by ally at short range.

Veteran-class Frigate AC 17 HP 58, 2 photon cannon ATT +5 dmg 7/10, 1 laser cannon ATT+5 dmg 6/9

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