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Funk Thompson

Theorycrafting: Ship to Ship combat and simplified maneuvers...

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Note:  I use "simplified" perhaps incorrectly here....

 

This was brought up in / by the "Balanced Starships" thread.

 

For my Star HERO campaign, I was trying to make somewhat simplified rules for doing ship-to-ship combat with minimal use of minis or maps, since weapon and engagement ranges in my setting can range from a few hundred meters out to several light-seconds (or, more, using guided missiles or munitions - if you don't mind waiting a few days for results :D)

 

I had the idea to adapt the very simplified Air-to-air chase / follow rules, from the 6E APG page 190-ish, but replacing "chase" with "advantage."  

 

Basically, all pilots / helmsmen make Combat Piloting rolls as Skill vs. Skill contests.  Faster ships (whether by acceleration or current actual velocity) have a bonus to this roll, I hadn't exactly finalized this but was thinking +1 per 10m of difference in base flight speed.

 

Winners of the roll have "advantage" over the opposing craft, and get to fire first on their next phase regardless of comparative SPD or DEX values - like the block / counterstrike mechanics.  Advantage also means you can increase / decrease range between the craft by the difference in their velocity.

 

But even this simplified setup gets REALLY complicated and time-consuming at realistic velocities and ranges.  Assuming you start just outside of weapons range, 1.2m KM or so, 10m difference in flight speed means you are increasing / decreasing range by a few thousand meters per action phase.  Dozens of per-phase rolls to whittle down that range.

 

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Example:  Rogue Trader (SPD 2, DEX 8, Flight 20m x512) is trying to escape from two Federation Interdictors (SPD 2, DEX 12, Flight 30m x256)

 

The interdictors get +1 to their Combat Piloting roll due to higher base flight speed (higher base meters of flight = higher acceleration), up until the Trader reaches a velocity the interdictors cannot (it has a higher cumulative flight total.)  If the trader were moving at more than 30x256m velocity, it would get the bonus, instead.  (+1 per doubling of velocity?)

 

At the start of combat, it is assumed / determined that both ships are on similar vectors (both "in orbit") and similar velocities (10m x 128), but outside of weapons range.  1.2m KM.  

 

Trader rolls 10 on 16-, interdictors roll 8 and 11 on 15-.  One interdictor has "advantage" on the trader, and chooses to do a non-combat burn to catch up, reducing range by 60x128m.  The other loses the contest, and the Trader opts to increase range to that interdictor.

-----

 

Eventually, ships get in weapons range.

 

At this point, you start actually doing combat maneuvers, and I set up the following:

 

  • Broadside: -0 to CP Roll.  +2 OCV, 1/2 DCV.
         This maneuver sets your ship up for a broadside attack, but makes your own craft a large target.  Can fire all weapons on one side ship facing, unless multiple targets exist on multiple facings.
  • Evasive Maneuvers ("Dodge") (Abort, vs. all attacks):  -2 to CP Roll.  -1 OCV, +3 DCV.
  • Interpose:  (Block, Abort) -2 to CP Roll.  +0 OCV, +0 DCV.  Only to block fire aimed at
         other ships.  This maneuver places your ship into the path of an attack aimed at another ship; you take the damage rather than the target ship.
  • Minimum Aspect Ratio (Abort):  -2 to CP Roll.  +0 OCV, +5 DCV (vs. one attacker.)
         A maneuver designed to make your craft as small a target as possible.  If not aborted to, can be used in conjunction with forward-firing weapon attacks.
  • Overrun:  -2 to CP Roll, +2 to next CP Roll; Full Phase Action. +2 OCV, -1 DCV.
         Increase / Decrease distance on a single target by current velocity difference.  Can fire forward weapons during maneuver if chasing; rear-firing if being chased.
  • Strafe Run: -0 to CP Roll; Full Phase Action.  +1 OCV, +2 DCV.
         Unless multiple targets exist on multiple vectors, ship can only fire weapons from forward facing and one side-facing of ship; so long as initially facing target ship and making a turn during the       maneuver, or turning to face a target ship.
  • Stabilize and Fire for Effect:  -0 to CP Roll, Full Phase Action; +2 OCV, 1/2 DCV.  +2 to offset range penalty. 
         This is "Set + Brace" for spacecraft, basically.  Can only fire weapons from one ship facing, unless multiple targets available on multiple vectors.
  • Underrun:  -2 to CP Roll, +2 to next CP Roll; Full Phase Action.  -1 OCV, +2 DCV.
         Decrease / increase distance between your craft and target craft by target craft's current velocity.  Can fire forward weapons during maneuver if chasing; rear-firing if being chased.

 

The bonus / penalty to the CP roll applies to the roll made to make the maneuver, and this roll is a skill vs. skill roll (success = you complete the maneuver and gain the CV and other benefits, but can still lose the contest.)

 

Just looking for input and/or dire warnings on this.  The one scene I did on RPOL worked well enough, but I didn't really get much player feedback, and it was a very small encounter (them running from a larger fleet) and thus limited testing.

 

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For an example, here is one of the ship builds that would be using the above rules / idea.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gg2ikvkml5agqsr/Terran Liberty Class Cruiser.HTML?dl=0

 

The "problems" are mostly due to trying to use realistic velocities and a simplified way to adjudicate intercepts, escapes, etc.

 

Like the one scene we did, it was their one faster, more-advanced ship against one of the above monsters and its escorts.  Had described it as them in a prograde orbit of the star, with the opposing fleet coming in retrograde and trying to intercept them.  The Cruiser and escorts tried to set up a blockade ahead of the players' ship trajectory, but the player(s) won the contests and were thus able to take some passing shots and escape while opening themselves up to minimal return fire (it helped that their weapons outranged the opfor.)

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"What am I looking to do here?"

1.  Less die rolls and mucking with movement or physics or velocities and such, especially for the pre-weapons-range interception / rendezvous / escape.

2.  Map-less or map-minimal ship-to-ship combat.  

3.  Advice / help on the "math" so far as making this also more-or-less accurate to real-world space-flight velocities and realities, while not getting bogged down in such.  Less dog-fighting, more naval maneuvering.

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On 6/4/2018 at 11:33 AM, Funk Thompson said:

But even this simplified setup gets REALLY complicated and time-consuming at realistic velocities and ranges.  Assuming you start just outside of weapons range, 1.2m KM or so, 10m difference in flight speed means you are increasing / decreasing range by a few thousand meters per action phase.  Dozens of per-phase rolls to whittle down that range.

 

As I tell my students from time to time, I think you're trying to work too hard.

 

If your weapon ranges are on the order of a kilometer ... are you jousting in space?  Even atmospheric air-to-air combat nowadays has longer ranges than that.  Mach 3 at 20,000 feet is about 1100 km/hr, which is about 0.3 km/second.  Compare low earth orbit velocities of about 7 km/second.  Things in similar orbits will have differences in velocity (relative velocities) of only a fraction of that, but to get down to "only" that 0.3 km/s takes nearly coplanar, very similar orbits.  In other words, matching velocities that closely requires cooperation by both combatants.

 

With known physics, getting something like Earthbound dogfighting air combat needs stupendous power.  To accelerate an old Space Shuttle (as loaded after reaching orbit)  at 1 gee with a photon rocket (which uses power but doesn't necessarily consume fuel) consumes about as much power as all of Earth's present electrical generation capacity.

 

So if you want dogfights in anything like foreseeable tech, you won't be using known physics.  But this is your game, so you can do what you want.  My point is that: since you have to abandon known physics for your combat vehicles, real orbital mechanics is kind of irrelevant.  Sure, you want the moons and space stations in proper orbits with the right distances and orbital periods and so on, but that is setting and not game mechanics and you can get that set up right once and never worry about it again.  But if that's the flavor you want to play, then just steal a dogfight system and use it and get on with your game.  Otherwise you'll be working on it forever and you'll never get it to work the way you want.

 

What will "real" spaceship combat look like?  I don;t think anyone knows right now.  So you are free to make up what you want.

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Weapon ranges are on the order of light-seconds.

 

Anywhere from a few hundred meters (boarding actions) to 1,000,000 or so KM.  A bit more on some weapons, in theory a railgun has infinite range if you have the time, but they are unwieldy past a few hundred thousand KM (even those with semi-guided munitions.)

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I even have the weapons set up with delayed effect for range; railgun at 5km/s = 10 seconds / segments to go 50k km.  Beams are at about 1 seconds per 300k km.  (Rough estimates, natch.)  See the ship build link above.

 

So, yeah, if weapon ranges were short I could map it easier.  :D

 

I do use a map, just for where things are in relation to each other, but ranges are more notated each phase than depicted accurately on any map.

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OK, the Earth-Moon distance is about 1 1/4 light-seconds, which gives you one scale; the Sun is about 1.4 million km in diameter, a bit less than 5 light-seconds.  The Earth-Sun distance is 500 light-seconds.  Earth's orbital speed around the Sun is about 30 km/s.

 

Railgun projectiles are still subject to gravity, and run up against the relativistic limits; and railgun operation does give off a distinctive electromagnetic signature which will be detectable brfore the projectile arrives.

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17 hours ago, Cancer said:

OK, the Earth-Moon distance is about 1 1/4 light-seconds, which gives you one scale; the Sun is about 1.4 million km in diameter, a bit less than 5 light-seconds.  The Earth-Sun distance is 500 light-seconds.  Earth's orbital speed around the Sun is about 30 km/s.

 

Railgun projectiles are still subject to gravity, and run up against the relativistic limits; and railgun operation does give off a distinctive electromagnetic signature which will be detectable brfore the projectile arrives.

 

Yes, and hence ships have automated point-defense vs. missiles and most projectiles. 

 

Beam and particle weapons are the "new shiny" but electromagnetic screens are actually effective against such where they are not, or are less, effective against projectiles.

 

I am envisioning most combat being within orbit of a stellar body, or in the vicinity of the JumpGates and their defending stations.  With the occasional fight being one ship / fleet intercepting another in-route to said location.

 

"Chases" will be rare, since, generally, the faster ship wins, period.  But intercepting a ship with other assets in system would be a function of the skill vs. skill roll setup I am trying to work out.

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With mechanics being so easy, I think a combatant has to be under active thrust at all times, with quasi-random changes in magnitude and direction of thrust to avoid predictability and having the opponent putting ordnance at a place and moment coincident with their target.  I would guess the skill lies in doing that while closing on the enemy enough to put lethal firepower on the enemy in spite of evasive manuvers.

 

If there's a deep gravity well handy, putting your ship into a tight hyperbolic slingshot behind that planet, and burn all thrusters while in the shadow of the planet to effect a large trajectory change, and use the slingshot as a multiplier for that change, can give surprise to the slingshotting ship.

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So, "Slingshot" as a Maneuver; Dodge + change vector / facing?  

 

I suppose that would get into "How long is a Turn" but with the AP penalty on weapons, I think the idea is that you will be spending several minutes plotting a firing solution (as spending extra time will offset the AP penalty.)

 

I need to think of a way, as well, to kind of group and time attacks made vs. when they hit and such.

 

And time scale will change between the chase / intercept roll(s), and actual combat time, but probably still won't go turn-by-turn, phase-by-phase.  All ships are SPD 2; DEX and movement speed varies by ship size / class, etc.

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Big ships are slower because:

 

since they are bigger they are easier to hit, making high maneuvering a but less affective

since they are easier to hit, they must invest in more defences

more defenses are usually massive and/or highly energy consuming (which required massive generators)

thus making them denser than smaller craft

making them harder to accelerate which makes it harder for them to maneuver

which makes investing in defenses even more important

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Some stuff about gravitational slingshot can be gleaned from "Basics of Space Flight", a PDF I grabbed long ago from a NASA site.  This has been turned into a (imo less helpful) "Basics of Space Flight" complex within nasa.gov, which feeds you not quite one page at a time of that back to you in a "prettier" format.  :idjit:  

 

If I find something better I'll post/link it.

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14 hours ago, dmjalund said:

Big ships are slower because:

 

since they are bigger they are easier to hit, making high maneuvering a but less affective

since they are easier to hit, they must invest in more defences

more defenses are usually massive and/or highly energy consuming (which required massive generators)

thus making them denser than smaller craft

making them harder to accelerate which makes it harder for them to maneuver

which makes investing in defenses even more important

 

Thanks but yes, accounted for and not part of the question here.

 

Small ships in my setup have more meters of base flight (they accelerate faster), bigger ships have higher cumulative totals using cumulative advantage on flight.  (Big ships carry more fuel and can thus burn much longer for higher top speed.)

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It depends on circumstances.  In a dogfight or in close pursuit, almost certainly not.  In the early/distant meeting stage of an engagement it might change the nature of the battle drastically.  Especially if either combatant is limited by fuel or finite energy reserve.

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1 hour ago, Cancer said:

It depends on circumstances.  In a dogfight or in close pursuit, almost certainly not.  In the early/distant meeting stage of an engagement it might change the nature of the battle drastically.  Especially if either combatant is limited by fuel or finite energy reserve.

 

Right, that is what I was thinking (insofar as how long it took; hadn't really considered the fuel part but that should very rarely come into play.  "My Lord, we lost them.  Well, it seems...  ah...  we didn't bring enough unobtainium fuel for a chase scene, sir..."  *hurk* *thud*)

 

The maneuvers table in OP is (mostly?) for the combat part; pre-combat maneuvers will depend on the pre-combat setup so far as where all participants are and such.  Underrun/overtake are the only maneuvers listed that would or could really apply before weapons range, but, again, I want that pre-combat part to be as quick as possible (while also capturing some level of fun and tactical options.)  The combat maneuvers will all need to be things the ship can do in moment-to-moment timeframes.

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The fuel/energy limit thing is a campaign flavor element, but an important one.  It has always been true that supply limits dictate the endurance of any combat mission; the problems the Japanese had over Guadalcanal came partly from it being at the very limit of the Zero's effective range set by fuel capacity.  Ditto the U-Boat/ASW campaigns in WW1 and WW2.  But, that's an annoying detail that many would feel isn't something they want in their RPG campaign.  Your call.

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7 hours ago, Cancer said:

The fuel/energy limit thing is a campaign flavor element, but an important one.  It has always been true that supply limits dictate the endurance of any combat mission; the problems the Japanese had over Guadalcanal came partly from it being at the very limit of the Zero's effective range set by fuel capacity.  Ditto the U-Boat/ASW campaigns in WW1 and WW2.  But, that's an annoying detail that many would feel isn't something they want in their RPG campaign.  Your call.

 

Well, it's more for the NPC craft - and smaller ones, drones, fighters, shuttles - than the player's ship.  Range for any "capital ship" is effectively unlimited in-system, and then limited by the JumpGates for interstellar travel.  There are interstellar ships that don't use the JumpGates  - or, use them where they exist then just slowboat to non-gated systems, which takes months / years depending on said system - most are distant binaries to gated systems, or at most a LY or two off the network.  There are also kind-of-FTL ships but even those can take months to years to get where they are going.  Again, player ship doesn't really have this limitation.  But, it still takes days / weeks to travel in-system from planet to planet, as do other ships.  Most ships burn around at 1 G of thrust, capable of more in short burns (a few hours, due to limits of the crew - no "inertial dampeners" or at least none that are 100%.)

 

So, the "setup" would / could be days of maneuvering until someone gets in weapons range.  Then timescale goes to combat time.

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Well, a human being can withstand one gee of acceleration forever, unless s/he has to stand on their head for the duration. ;)

 

The other implication is that battles are only going to happen when both sides think they have a good chance of winning, or they are meeting engagements, where the fleets arrive at the same place more or less at the same time, so the weaker side hangs around in hope that their heavy units will arrive soon enough to eliminate the other side.

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This thread makes my head hurt.

 

You can't have "simple mechanics" and "realistic space combat" in the same game.  It just doesn't work at all.  If you want it to be playable and fun, you need to divorce the game mechanics from anything approaching realism or actual physics.  Unless you and all of your players are a bunch of NASA scientists who love this stuff, you're just over-complicating things.  Instead I would focus on making it fast and easy to understand.

 

Here's what I would do:

 

1)  All spaceships are going to purchase a custom Megascale variant on their weapons.  This is an inherent part of space combat.  Everybody buys it automatically.  In fact, it's so inherent to the setting that I would consider not requiring points for it.  Effectively, you are just treating normal hexes for movement and combat as a larger space.  A traditional hex in Hero is 2 meters across.  But in space combat, you could treat a hex as 100 kilometers.  Or 1,000.  Or 10,000.  The differences are purely descriptive.  The game mechanics remain the same, you are simply describing the ranges as being greater.

 

2)  Movement can likewise increase.  However, it does not have to increase at the same level.  A hex could be 100 km across for shooting, but only 1 km across for movement.  You have to decide what kind of combat you want.  Do you want slow moving ships blasting at each other across tremendous ranges?  Then make their guns shoot at huge range relative to ship speed.  Do you want dramatic, close-in dogfighting?  Then keep the scales similar.  A slow-paced "submarine combat" game will have different assumptions than a more Star Wars-ey game.

 

3a)  If you desire slow ships and extreme ranges, I'd probably give weapons a delay before impact.  Rail guns and missiles might take until the end of the turn before they hit.  A "turn" also could be more than 12 seconds.  Simply define it as taking a minute, or 5 minutes, or however long you want.  For these ships, maybe you detect that your enemy has fired, and then there's tension as time passes before you found out if they hit or not.  Exact movement or measurement on the battle map isn't necessary, because the weapons are homing (or rail guns fire at multiple locations where you are projected to be).  Defensive actions would involve skill vs skill rolls , whether piloting skill (to perform difficult evasive maneuvers) or ECM rolls (to jam the missiles) to add to your ship's DCV.

 

Quote

Example combat:

Two ships detect each other at 5 light seconds distance.  That's 1.5 million kilometers.  For shooting purposes, that's 60 hexes (we'll say 25,000 km per "hex").  For movement, it's 1,500 hexes (1,000 km per hex).  Laser weapons will hit in the same "phase" that they're fired -- because 1 turn is considered to take roughly 1 minute in space scale.  The slight gap between firing a laser and it hitting the target isn't worth calculating -- range penalties will work well enough to represent that.  Each ship has an OCV of 4.  Each ship has a DCV of 1 (while their normal DCV is much lower, for space combat purposes they're just normal sized targets).  At 60 "space" hexes away, the range penalty is -8.  Each ship has a targeting computer that gives them +4 vs range penalties.  They will also make skill vs skill rolls to gain either a bonus to hit, or a bonus to DCV.  Both ships are presumed to have a Speed of 4 (the Speed of the captain, and the rest of the crew operating as a team).

Before combat -- The helmsman on Ship A makes his Systems Operations roll.  He has a 12- skill roll, and he rolls a 9.  This is enough for him to realize that Ship B is a hostile enemy vessel.  The captain looks at the data and makes his own skill roll.  KS: Glomulan Military Ships, 11-.  He rolls a 10, and recognizes the readings as coming from a Glomulan Warbird.  He orders the chief engineer to ramp up power production, and to prepare the ship's weapons.  He is hoping the Glomulans have not detected him yet.

Meanwhile, on the Glomulan vessel, their helmsman has failed his Systems Operations roll.  He rolled a 14.  He is playing Galaga instead of carefully monitoring his instruments.

Phase 12 -- The captain of Ship A orders his rail guns to fire.  They will not impact until Segment 6 of next turn, but the captain knows that they won't be as easy to detect as missiles, and it won't immediately give away their position like lasers.  Rail guns fire, the to-hit roll will be made when they arrive on Segment 6.  Description-wise, the guns shoot at like 20 different targets, each of them where the enemy ship is projected to be on Segment 6, depending on what evasive maneuvers they might take.  So one shot at where they would be if they're asleep at the wheel and don't see it at all.  One shot at where they will be if they see it and slam on the brakes.  One shot at where they will be if they hit the gas and go straight ahead.  One shot if they try to turn hard right, etc, etc.  Game mechanics-wise, it's just one attack and will be one to-hit roll.

Meanwhile on Phase 12, the Glomulan helmsman notices an EM spike 5 light seconds away.  Technically this happens 5 seconds after the guns fired, but Phases in space combat are longer than normal, so we don't worry about it.  He makes his Systems Operation roll (with a +1 bonus this time thanks to the EM surge) and tells his captain that something is out there.  They spend the rest of their Phase 12 trying to ID the ship.  The captain makes his KS: Federated Earth Ships roll and recognizes it as a Constitutional class ship.  Uh oh.

The seconds tick by as crew members rush around, doing things.  There's a flurry of activity, but nothing that actually translates into an action by either ship.  Switches are being flicked, and people are pressing buttons.  Red alert sirens go off.  Orders are shouted.  And we wait until...

Phase 3 -- The two ships have the same Dex (both have a 10), and so they roll off to see who goes first.  Except the Constitutional class is holding action.  At this point they don't know if they've been detected.  Ideally the Glomulan ship just cruises along blindly and gets obliterated by one of the rail gun rounds.  So they are holding action "until I see what they do".  The Glomulan ship thus wins the roll-off.  The Glomulan captain orders evasive maneuvers.  He knows that they're under attack by rail guns, because they saw the EM surge and haven't detected any missiles (and haven't been hit by lasers yet).  So he orders evasive maneuvers, full reverse.  This is a dangerous maneuver because it can cause structural damage, but if successful it gives a good DCV bonus.  This basically counts as a Dodge, and will raise the ship's DCV by +3.

On Ship A, the helmsman makes a Systems Operations roll and notices the Glomulan ship has changed velocity rapidly.  The captain deduces that they have been detected.  He orders laser fire.  Ship A attacks with OCV 5 (base 4 and the lasers give a +1 bonus).  It is shooting at DCV 4 (base 1 + 3 for Dodge).  He needs a 12-, but the range penalties are -8.  The ship has a +4 bonus vs range, so now they need an 8- to hit.  The captain orders the helmsman to attempt a target lock, a skill vs skill Systems Ops roll against the other ship.  Ensign Ruskie has a 12-, and rolls a 10.  The Glomulan helmsman has an 11-, and rolls a 12.  He is unable to counter the... umm, computer... stuff... that Ensign Ruskie did.  The GM rules this is enough for a +1 OCV bonus.  Ship A now needs a 9- to hit.

Ship A rolls an 11, missing the Glomulan Warbird at these extreme ranges.  "Veapons have missed, sir" reports Ensign Ruskie.  The Warbird is dodging, and cannot shoot back.

Phase 6 -- The cat and mouse between the two ships continues as the rail gun shots arrive.  The Constitutional vessel had taken some Extra Time to aim (whatever those maneuvers are called -- Set?  Brace?  something like that) and so the rail gun rounds have a +1 OCV, and 1 less range penalty.  Ensign Ruskie is trying to jam their sensors and so the skill vs skill competition continues.  The rail gun doesn't have the same bonus the lasers do, but when all is said and done, and all the skill rolls are made, it turns out there's a 10- chance for the rail guns to hit.  The Glomulan Warbird is still "dodging", and so has retained its higher DCV.  Both captains hold their breath as Ensign Ruskie picks up the dice and rolls to hit...
 

 

 

3b)  If you desire dogfights, your combat will be more focused on positioning.  Opposed Combat Piloting rolls will allow you to simulate this without worrying about maps or anything like that.  I'd come up with a list of maybe a dozen different cinematic maneuvers, each with a certain piloting skill roll penalty, and a benefit for success as well as a consequence for failure.  So a fighter pilot might have "Skim surface of enemy capital ship" (you've seen the Millennium Falcon do this in Star Wars).  It requires a piloting skill roll of -3, because it's tricky.  If you succeed, the capital ship weapons can't target you.  If you fail, you didn't get close enough and you're 1/2 DCV.  If you fail by a lot, you smash into the ship.  That's bad.  Or you could use the classic "Trick move to get behind the other fighter"  -- Opposed Combat Piloting roll with -2 penalty.  Bonus is enemy is at 1/2 DCV and cannot shoot forward guns at you.  Failure means you are at 1/2 DCV for the next two phases as you expose your "belly" to them.  You've also got "Wiggle the ship back and forth so guy behind you can't get a target lock".  Straight up opposed Combat Piloting roll to keep your full DCV.

 

You know, that kind of thing.  Make it cinematic and keep it simple.  Have a list of maybe 10 or 12 different maneuvers, where your players can easily visualize what it is you're describing.  Not all of them have to be applicable to all situations.  You can attempt one "maneuver" per phase.  Success means you do something cool.  Failure means you're the guy performing the "TIE Fighter slowly flies across the screen directly in front of your guns" maneuver.

 

--

 

There.  That's just what I would try to do.  Try to get the "theme" and the "feel" of it correct, don't worry so much about orbital mechanics or the physics of space travel or anything like that.  All the rules for your space combat should fit on a single page, in large print.  It should be clear to players what various maneuvers do, what bonuses they give, what penalties they carry.  Keep it exciting and fast paced, with maybe one (or two at most) extra skill rolls per phase.

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That is more or less what I am wanting.  Again I want to simulate naval style, long range combat, with the whole intercept/escape pre-combat part done by skill contests, where the actual math and numbers are largely ignored beyond the time it takes for things to happen being back-of-a-napkin correct.  

 

Days to weeks for an intercept, then minutes of fighting once in weapons range.

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