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A ship-building system?


Surgo
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I've been working on a complete ruleset for running a Star Wars game in the Hero system. The way I see it there are two difficult problems to solve which each hit one of the key points of the setting: a good system for the Force (done), and a good system for spaceships (my current issue).

 

You might wonder what's the problem, the rules for building out vehicles are pretty clear so just use them. While true, I find them insufficient. People aren't going to be buying their ships with character points, they're going to be doing it with in-game cash. Furthermore there are a number of different scales of vehicle that need to be supported (snubfighter, light freighter, capital ship) and things on the smaller scale should really only be able to damage things on the larger scale in certain, well-defined ways -- so smaller ships should only be able to "mount" certain types of weaponry. This could probably be handled by Active Point limitations on weapons and the power sources, but this is still a bit dissatisfying. A HUGE trope of the setting is people buying these ships that are essentially blank canvases and empty hulls, and then kitting them out. That makes a lot more sense with some form of ship-building system that's maybe a bit less free-form and is built on things like space constraints instead of point constraints.

 

Has anyone attempted this sort of system before me? It would be much easier if I could build on someone else's work, rather than come up with something whole-cloth.

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Me and a co-GM have been working on making the Starship building/fighting system work for us for a while. The first thing is that you do have to limit people with what they can get not based on points, but by what is available to their character. Yes, characters do kit out their YT-1300 into aluminum falcons, but they are taking out the factory standard weapons and engines, and putting in high-end fighter-grade weapons, not capital ship weapons. The next thing we determined was that, while fighter class armaments are not going to penetrate warship armor, they can make called shots to try to damage things like sensor cameras, field emitters, and weapons apertures. Some stuff can be hardened and ruggedized, but can only be armored so much, or they defeat the purpose of their own existence (like a tank, you can armor the tank all you want, but you can't make the main gun's barrel not need a smooth lining. If Sniper McRidiculous can shoot into the barrel of the main gun, he'll start damaging the ability to shoot straight). This emulates the fighters slowly taking down the main bridge shields on the star destroyer in RotJ.

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I have a starship design system I created for Master of Orion.  As such, it's pretty dependent on its own breakdown of technologies.

 

However, two major points of it that might help you.  Cap the Active Points of weapons and other devices equal to the Active Points in Growth used to determine the size of the craft:  A snub fighter built on 45 AP of growth can have a maximum 3d6 RKA laser.  Limit the number of weapons, shields and other Powers to one per five points of Growth: That snub fighter can have only 9 abilites: FTL, 4 lasers, a torpedo, life support, etcetera.

 

Chris.

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Don't worry about active point limitations or anything like that.  Players won't be building their ships that way.  They'll be buying parts that you have already made available.  In other words, points aren't an issue any more.  If I buy a light freighter (with money), and it comes with a Type IV blaster pod (or whatever you want to call it, I'm not super familiar with Star Wars technical details), then whether I can upgrade it to carry a Type V or Type VI blaster pod depends totally upon in-game criteria.  I need to worry about having the right power couplings, refitting the weapon mounting collar to handle the heavier weight, and all kinds of things that don't have one bit to do with whether it's a 4D6 RKA or a 5D6 RKA.

 

However, I've never thought that buying a blank ship and then tricking it out was an important part of Star Wars.  That would never even occur to me.

 

I think what you should do is just get a general idea as far as what stats each level of ship would have.  If people want to tweak their vehicles, there are loads of Star Wars resources out there that give very specific technical details for what each ship carries.

 

http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/The_Essential_Guide_to_Vehicles_and_Vessels

 

You just need a rough idea of what Hero stats they have.  So you might say something like:

 

TIE Fighter -- Dex 25, Spd 5, Def 8, Body 12 -- Blaster Cannons 3D6+1 Autofire x5

X-Wing -- Dex 25, Spd 5, Def 12, Body 14 -- Blaster Cannons 3D6+1 Autofire x5, Proton Torpedo 6D6 Explosion (4 charges)

Star Destroyer -- Dex 5, Spd 2, Def 20, Body 40 -- Turbolasers 5D6 Autofire x5

 

And you just use the stats you come up with as general guidelines until your players are actually in the process of buying new equipment.  Then you come up with specific stats for that piece of equipment only.

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For those of you who made your own rulesets and systems, would you mind posting or uploading them? It's not so difficult to file the serial numbers off, and anything helps.

 

 

 

They'll be buying parts that you have already made available.

Yeah, exactly. The thing is coming up with a big mega list of these parts and pieces. I doubt I could cover all the bases so coming up with a first list, and then rules to expand the list, is what makes sense to me. I'm not doing this for a specific game, but rather creating rules for running a game in the setting -- so it's not a matter of doing it on-demand, but rather coming up with an enormous list that can be used.

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For those of you who made your own rulesets and systems, would you mind posting or uploading them? It's not so difficult to file the serial numbers off, and anything helps.

 

 

 

Yeah, exactly. The thing is coming up with a big mega list of these parts and pieces. I doubt I could cover all the bases so coming up with a first list, and then rules to expand the list, is what makes sense to me. I'm not doing this for a specific game, but rather creating rules for running a game in the setting -- so it's not a matter of doing it on-demand, but rather coming up with an enormous list that can be used.

 

They aren't ordering from the Sears catalog of starship parts.  Make them hunt those parts down.  They travel to a world, they haggle over the price, they make skill rolls to try and properly integrate the part into their ship, then you decide what it does.  Don't give them access to the every part in the universe at once.

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The old D6 Star wars system had caps on the throws.

4d6 from a Walker where on a whole nother scale from character weapons. But a AT-ST was a light scout compared to the AT-AT super heavy tank

However that scale cut both ways:

You could not hit as well and not doge as well, but in turn thier resistance was lower and yours higher. In the end that resulted in the bigger ships having the defense advantage, offense disadvantage (especially against skilled opponents).

 

The sequence of scales was approximately:

Humanoid

Speeder

Walker (or any non-floating tank); this was a break from the usual pattern, it was halfway between Speeder and Figher, rather then being a proper level

Fighter

Starship

Deathstar (yes, they had a scale for deathstar. The cap was 1 of 6 towards Starships).

 

Human, Speeder and Walker could affect one another.

So could Speeder, Walker and Fighter

 

 

How to translate this too hero:

How about adding/substracting resistant PD/ED/other defense for each scale level of difference*, while also giving a top hit penality or bonus?

 

*Can result in a vehicle effectively gainng a new defense or totally loosing a defense. Speeder Grade Anti-Ion shielding won't work against Starship scale weaponry. Handheld Ion weapons have a hard time shorting out a walker.

Of course weapons could be manfactured "above scale". i.e. a man portable Rocketlauncher that did damage/targetting and the like in the Speeder or walker scale, to fight those targets.

Bigger vehciles also often carried lower scale weapons, like a Anti-Fighter starship (Lancer Cruisers) having fighter level weapons or a walker Personal Scale weapons.

 

 

Regarding a system: How about the Resource Pools from APG I?

I always thought it would be exceptionally fitting for Star Wars settings.

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Surgo,

 

You arent going to like what im about to tell you.

 

Give up your dream. Its not tennable.

 

Trying to create such a system that is compatible with the freeform Hero construction system, while not impossible, is highly improbable and the cause of more therapy bills than the catholic priesthood.

 

Your best bet would be to borrow an already existing system from a other RPG and build your ships that way, then convert them to Hero stats.

 

If you want to see what such a system would look like, download a .pdf of GURPS Vehicles. Then make a SAN check.

 

As far as "scale" is concerned, this is an easy one.

 

Create different categories of ships. Small (personal scale) Medium (fighter scale) Large (Freighter scale) and Collassal (Millitary scale).

 

Buy the weapons as per normal. When a vehicle is attacking a vehicle out of its scale, Damage Reduction is applied based on the scale difference.

 

Example: when a personal scale vehicle, say a Snow Speeder, is attacking a Large scale vehicle, lets say a Correllian Freighter, the larger vehicle gets, for free, 50% Damage Reduction against the smaller vehicles attacks.

 

When a larger vehicle attacks a smaller vehicle, there is no damage adjustment. The larger damage dice of the bigger weapon vs the lesser defense of the smaller vehicle should represent the issue quite handily (10d6k blaster cannons vs the measly 12 defense of the Snow Speeder) however, there ahould be a DCV adjustment for the smaller vehicle making it more difficult for the larger vehicle to hit. For this reason, larger vehicles can have smaller scale weapons mounted on them to engage smaller tsrgets at no penalty.

 

As fasr as weapon scale is concerned,merely limit the damage range of weapons mountable depending on the scale of the vehicle. Do the same with armor and shields and you are good to go.

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Just have larger ships buy levels of damage negation that are limited by the scale of weapon being used.

 

A speedster buys no negation and has only a 2d6Rka light.

 

An imperial cruiser has 5 or 6 levels of negation only usable against 'large class or lower' weapons. It also packs a 7d6Rka heavy.

 

With five or six levels of Damage Negation the speedster can never damage an imperial cruiser. But since an imperial cruiser packs a heavy class weapon it can punch holes in other imperial cruisers much more easily.

 

Then you can decide the in game credit value of moving a weapon up a class (without editing damage output) on a case by case basis.

 

Also adjust the negation levels a bit to help account for normal armor. Afterall, you don't need to negate all damage if the armor is already able to shrug one or two dice of Rka. That should also help keep you from always needing to buy capital ship weapons up to extremes because you know their weapons ignore all negation effects.

 

La Rose.

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Buy the weapons as per normal. When a vehicle is attacking a vehicle out of its scale, Damage Reduction is applied based on the scale difference.

Damage reduction might be a bit tricky and clunky for this.

 

I realised a much easier system, based on an exsiting power: Growth.

Growth gives you a baseline of to hit bonuses towars larger targets and extra defense that larger target has towards smaller weapons.

Also at a certain point larger scale stuff has it easier to hit the enemy, but also has harder time avoinding friends (both due to AoE).

The baseline for adding damage appears to be +3DC per level.

 

Just asume they that different scale vehicles had different inate and free levels of growth.

Doesn't the vehicle system already do something like that?

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A ships system/component needs to actually do something game-wise before you can make it.

 

Also I would try to avoid the 15 different blaster batteries that all do the same thing game mechanics-wise. 

 

Before we can try to create things we would need to know how you are going to portray/run ship combat in your game.  Hero the toolkit gives you many many options.  Understanding the options that apply will not only suggest equipment, but define if they actually contribute or are just window dressing.

 

:)

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Growth is built into the vehicle construction rules. Damage reduction will prevent the smaller vessels from being able to destroy the laarger vessles with just a few well placedd shots.

 

I'd use Damage Negation, not Damage Reduction because you get finer control. Weapons are scaled for the class their in (say, 15 DC for starfighter weapons), but each level of scale gets you N levels of DR (-6 DC for fighters in my example). So the hypothetical TIE fighter does 9 DC to an X-Wing, but only 6 DC to a freighter. However, it would do 12 DC to a speeder. This scale DR only applies to attacks that target the entire vehicle. This lets Luke slice open the hatch on an AT-AT so he can toss a grenade inside, but he can't cut the whole thing in half with a Force-boosted chop.

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I'd use Damage Negation, not Damage Reduction because you get finer control. Weapons are scaled for the class their in (say, 15 DC for starfighter weapons), but each level of scale gets you N levels of DR (-6 DC for fighters in my example). So the hypothetical TIE fighter does 9 DC to an X-Wing, but only 6 DC to a freighter. However, it would do 12 DC to a speeder. This scale DR only applies to attacks that target the entire vehicle. This lets Luke slice open the hatch on an AT-AT so he can toss a grenade inside, but he can't cut the whole thing in half with a Force-boosted chop.

Damage Negation works just as well as Damage Reduction. Remember my suggestions are fully rooted in pre 6th..

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As a campaign rule, you could use an amount of Damage Negation based on the difference in Size Class.

 

A size class 0 human with a blaster, shooting at a size class 3 Speeder has to deal with 3 levels of Damage Negation.

 

The size class 3 Speeder going against the Size Class 10 freighter has to deal with (10 - 3) 7 levels of Damage Negation. The Size Class 10 freighter going against the Size Class 25 Star Destroyer has to deal with 15 levels of Damage Negation!

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you might want to look at the ship construction systems used in the various Traveller versions, the big problem I have always had with ship and vehicle construction in Hero, is that unless you go back to Champions 2., there hasnt really been a way of figuring out how much space something takes. I use Traveller Hero for that, and if something that doesnt fit Traveller Hero, I still use the rules in Champions 2. and hopefully SOON on the re-issue of Traveller Hero

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how complex of a ship building system do you want?

I have all the traveller variants, spacemaster, space opera, star hero, shatterzone, star wars, wyrmship technical manual, Star Fleet Battles, Full Thrust, A Call To Arms, and Battlefleet Gothic on the shelf, so if you want help bashing something together. oops forgot GURPS Space

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how complex of a ship building system do you want?

 

 

Or better yet. 

 

How will you be portraying space combat in your world?  Which rule/options will you be using?  Do your ships swoop like Star Wars and Star Trek, or do they use reaction mass and thrust like EarthForce in B5?  Artificial gravity and inertial dampers, or not?   Can't really design a ship building system unless you know what kind of ships they are. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Way late to the party but here's my two cents.

 

Along with some of the other suggestions you can also create the weapons with the "real world" limitation.

 

This means that that hand gun, regardless of the amount of damage it can do in game, just can't damage that tank.

 

The characters may not like that but that's one of the things that limitation is designed to do.

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  • 5 years later...
On 4/2/2015 at 11:47 PM, Surgo said:

You might wonder what's the problem, the rules for building out vehicles are pretty clear so just use them. While true, I find them insufficient.

 

I agree completely.

Per "The Ultimate Vehicle" p.118: 
"For example, perhaps you decide that weapons, defenses, propulsion systems and power systems all have a mass of 2 kg per AP and a volume of 0.5 cubic hexes per 5 AP."  There are similar formulae on p. 119, 135, and 158.  They vary a little bit, but they're all pretty insane.

On the surface, that formula sounds fine.  But when you actually try to use it, it is total crap.  Allow me to explain.
 

The volume of half a hexagon (2m across = 1.15m sides x 1m tall) is 3.43 cubic meters. (3/2 * sqrt3 * s^2 * h = 1.5 * 1.73 * 1.32 * 1 = 3.43 ). That much space per 5 AP. 


Mass of 2 kg per AP means 5 AP weighs 10 kg.


10 kg, for 3.43 cubic meters.  Or about 2.9kg/cubic meter.

 

2.9kg, or 6.4 lbs, per cubic meter?

Let's compare that to something really light, such as feather pillows.

Per https://im.kendallhunt.com/HS/students/2/5/17/index.html, the feathers in a pillow have a total mass of 59 grams. The pillow is in the shape of a rectangular prism measuring 51 cm by 66 cm by 7 cm. That's 23,652 cubic centimeters.  A cubic meter is 1,000,000 cubic centimeters.

1,000,000 / 23,652 = 42.44 feather pillows in a cubic meter, while a cubic meter of our drive system weighs as much as 2 feather pillows.

Not the engine room that houses the drive systems, but the drive systems themselves.  Ditto for weapons and other systems.

TL;DR: feathers are 21 times more dense than vehicle engines, weapons, etc.

It's not that I think such calculations are important for the game.  But the people who are going to use such numbers are the uber-geeks like me who are curious about a bit more realism and detail in the game.  So if they're going to give specific numbers, could they please make sure that the numbers they're giving aren't completely destructive to the goal of adding some realism?

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