Here’s a first pass at a combat system.
Initiative Bonus/Penalty (Maneuverability)
Weapons and Weapon Arcs
Forward Shield Boxes
Aft Shield Boxes
Combat takes place on an eight-space, one-dimensional map made of range bands. Tokens on this range band face either forward or backward along the band.
Start of the turn
Each ship starts with two Maneuvers.
Players roll the helmsman’s Helm Control Skill plus the captain’s Leadership Skill, plus any ship Initiative bonus. This is their ship’s Initiative. Before the Initiative roll, the players can trade any number of dice for extra Maneuvers in the Movement or Action phases.
Ships move from lowest initiative to highest.
On a ship’s movement turn, the helmsman may choose to spend a Maneuver to:
- Move their ship one range band.
- Change their ship’s facing. (Backwards or forwards.)
- Move an opposing ship one range band.
- Change an opposing ship’s facing.
Ships move from lowest initiative to highest. Ships may take two actions.
The tactical officer may choose to spend a Maneuver to:
- Fire a weapon. (See Weapons.)
- Make a Speech. (See Speech.)
- Repair a shield without the two-box limit.
- Make a Speech.
Weapons have different ideal ranges. They suffer penalties based on being fired at targets outside ideal range. Some ideal ranges are close in, like the disruptors on a Klingon Bird of Prey. Others are further out, like Federation phasers.
Weapons are fired with an Intelligence + Tactics roll.
Phasers and other beam weapons give a bonus to the attack roll. All successes on the attack roll which are damage.
Photon torpedoes and other missile weapons do not provide a bonus to attack. They deal a flat amount of damage on a successful impact. Missile weapons come in limited quantities. The quantity of missiles available to the player represents the total number of salvos the launchers can fire without need for ammunition resupply or launcher repair.
Firing Arcs, Shields
All weapons and shields are marked fore or aft. A ship may only fire weapons on the arc that directly faces the opposing ship, and may only hit the arc facing it.
Shields block damage. When a ship is hit, and it has shields remaining on that arc, check a number of shield boxes equal to the damage taken. Any leftover damage is applied to the ship’s system the attacker was targeting..
A player may trade one Speech die (see Speech) to recharge one shield box. You may do this as many times as you like. Alternatively, a repair roll (see Repair) can be made.
If a ship suffers three points of damage or more, and the shields don’t soak up all of it, the ship is Rocked. Each important crew member must make a Dexterity + Athletics check or be knocked prone. A prone character cannot take any action (moves, attacks, repairs, Speeches) on their next turn.
A character may make a Speech related to their job for bonus dice on the next turn. For each salient point in the Speech (up to five), they receive a bonus die to be allocated to a future, relevant action.
The player whose character made the Speech gets to distribute the dice. Speeches can help players who otherwise have a limited role during combat to get their due spotlight time.
A Speech does not cost a Maneuver, but only one player may make one per turn.
“You’re fine officers. / Every day I’ve served with you has been an honor. / Let’s make sure there are many more to come.” (3 dice)
“I’ve rerouted power to the secondary junctions. / That should free up the main batteries to give you more power to the impulse engine.” (2 dice)
Ships’ crews can make remarkable repairs in the heat of battle. Once per round (without necessarily spending a Maneuver), a player may pick a damaged system and roll his character’s Wits + Engineering.
If repairing the ship against Conditions, the repair roll counts as an escape roll against one current Condition.
If repairing the ship’s Structure, the ship recovers one box per success on the roll. However, unless a Maneuver is spent, no more than two boxes can be repaired at a time in this fashion.
If repairing the shields, the shields recover one box of protection per success on the roll. However, unless a Maneuver is spent, no more than two boxes can be recharged at a time in this fashion.
Doing Other Things
During a single ship’s Action phase, up to three normal character actions can be taken by the crew, and three by any opponents. These can include arguments (such as social checks), repair attempts (if the character is qualified), making escape rolls for Conditions, and engaging in personal combat.
If a ship takes two or more damage boxes while unprotected by shields on the appropriate arc, the ship receives a Condition.
|Venting Warp Plasma||The ship begins each turn with one less Maneuver, and cannot spend Maneuvers to move.||Wits + Engineering|
|Unstable||The ship’s inertial dampers are malfunctioning, rocking the ship back and forth and causing every hit to Rock the ship.||Wits + Engineering|
|Weapons Down||The weapons in one firing arc have been disabled.||Wits + Engineering|
|Crew Panic||The crew are panicked and demoralized. -3 dice to every dice pool associated with a Maneuver or Repair.||Presence + Leadership|
|Sensors Malfunctioning||The sensors are malfunctioning. Weapons are harder to aim, at a -2 penalty.||Wits + Engineering to fix, Intelligence + Tactics to ignore for one turn|
|Listing||The ship’s drive systems are out of control. On each attempt to move, roll one die. On an even number, the ship moves as intended. On an odd number, the opponent makes up to two moves for the ship.||Wits + Engineering|
|Casualties||Key ship personnel are injured. All rolls for ship-level actions or repairs take -1.This condition may be taken multiple times, with cumulative penalties.||Wits + Medicine|
4 thoughts on “Storytelling Star Trek: Space Combat”
I attempted something like this a year or two ago, so I am following your posts with great interest. As I read your system, I cannot help wonder why there is an initiative-phase in the system. It seems to me, that one might just skip this part and have the players to choose their maneuvers, much in the manner you choose your actions in games like Burning Wheel and Mouse Guard.
I really like the idea of having a speech to improve the results of a given action. Nice touch. You might also want to have computers exploding (as we all know, computers and monitors are quite explosive in these kinds of shows) and small fires occuring as a condition, that needs to be dealt with by crewmembers (again offering important actions to characters, who might otherwise have nothing to do).
I did toy with adapting Mouse Guard‘s conflict system, and posted the notes on RPGnet a while back.
The purpose of initiative in this system is so that crews with better initiative rolls can make their moves after those with poorer rolls, granting them a maneuvering advantage. They then get to fire weapons earlier.
I’m glad you liked the Speech.
As for exploding consoles, I’m currently modeling that with the ship Rocked rule, adapted from Ashen Stars. I suppose I could put in an additional rule for console explosions/fire though.
Thanks for clarifying things.
I guess my arguing against initiative is that in my view of Trek, combats seem more to be based on maneuvers and strategems rather than on gaining initiative – hence it did not feel very much like a Trek-space combat having one side win the initiative.
Well, Star Trek isn’t just about being faster. That’s why the main components of the “initiative” roll are the skill of the helm operator and the captain’s leadership. It’s more about talented helmsmanship and clever tactics than it is the brute speed of your ship. Of course, some highly agile ships (maybe a Klingon Bird of Prey) would get a bonus based on speed.