MSRD:Starship Movement and Combat

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STARSHIPS

The rules for starship combat are based on the rules for character combat. Like character-scale combat, starship battles unfold on a square grid, with each starship occupying one or more squares on the grid. As with character-scale combat, starship battles play out in rounds.

The starship combat system presented here strikes a balance between realism and ease of play. The system can be made more realistic by adapting bits and pieces of the vehicle movement and combat rules to the 500-feet-per-square starship scale.

These basic starship combat rules also assume that all starships involved in the battle are crewed by nonheroic characters. What happens when heroes take the controls is discussed later.

STARSHIP TYPES AND SUBTYPES

Every starship has a type and a subtype. A starship’s type represents its relative mass and determines its fighting space (how many 500-foot squares it occupies) on the battle grid. There are five types of starships: ultralight, light, mediumweight, heavy, and superheavy.

A starship’s subtype identifies the ship’s basic purpose or configuration. Starship subtypes include the following: fighter, corvette, destroyer, strike cruiser, battleship, and freighter.

STARSHIP FIGHTING SPACE

Each square in starship scale measures 500 feet along a side (instead of 5 feet, as in character-scale combat). All starships, regardless of size, have a square fighting space. Some starships occupy a single 500-foot square, while others have a larger fighting space, as noted below.

An ultralight starship can be up to 250 feet long. It occupies a 250-foot-by-250-foot fighting space, and up to four ultralight starships can occupy a single 500-foot square.

A light starship measures 251–500 feet in length. It has a 500-foot-by-500-foot fighting space and occupies a single 500-foot square.

A mediumweight starship measures 501–1,000 feet in length. It occupies a 1,000-foot-by-1,000-foot fighting space (4 500-foot squares).

A heavy starship measures 1,001–1,500 feet long. It has a 1,500-foot-by-1,500-foot fighting space (9 500-foot squares).

A superheavy starship is 1,501 feet long or longer. The smallest superheavy starships (measuring 1,501–2,000 feet long) have a 2,000-foot-by-2,000-foot fighting space (16 500-foot squares), although larger fighting spaces are possible.

STARSHIP COMBAT SEQUENCE

Starship combat is played out in rounds. Each round, each starship acts in turn in a regular cycle. Generally, starship combat runs as follows.

Step 1: Every starship starts the battle flat-footed. Once a starship acts, it is no longer flat-footed.
Step 2: The GM determines which starships are aware of each other at the start of the battle. (Cloaking devices and other devices might hide a ship from another ship’s sensors.) If some but not all of the starships are aware of their enemies, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. Starships that are aware of the enemies can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), starships that started the battle aware of their enemies each take one move or attack action. Starships that were unaware don’t get to act in the surprise round. If no starship or every starship begins the battle aware, there is no surprise round.
Step 3: Starships that have not yet rolled initiative do so. All starships are now ready to begin their first regular round.
Step 4: Starships act in initiative order. All crew aboard a starship act on the starship’s turn.
Step 5. When each starship has had a turn, the starship with the highest initiative acts again, and steps 4 and 5 repeat until combat ends.

COMBAT STATISTICS

Several fundamental statistics determine how well a starship performs in combat. This section summarizes these vital statistics, and the following sections detail how to use them.

ATTACK ROLL

An attack roll represents one starship’s attempt to strike another on its turn in a round. Most starships are armed with ranged weapons aimed by gunners.

When a starship makes an attack roll, roll 1d20 and add the appropriate modifiers (described below). If the result equals or beats the target’s Defense, the attack hits and deals damage. A starship’s attack roll is:

1d20 + gunner’s ranged attack bonus + range penalty + starship’s size modifier + targeting system’s equipment bonus

Gunner’s Ranged Attack Bonus: Unless noted otherwise, all starship gunners are assumed to have the Starship Gunnery feat. Without this feat, a starship gunner takes a –4 nonproficient penalty on attack rolls with starship weapons.

For simplicity, all gunners aboard a starship have identical ranged attack bonuses.

Range Penalty: The range penalty for a ranged weapon depends on what weapon the starship is using and the distance to the target. All ranged weapons have a range increment, as noted in Table: Starship Weapons.

As with character weapons, any attack from a distance of less than one range increment is not penalized for range. However, each full range increment causes a cumulative –2 penalty on the attack roll.

A beam weapon has a maximum range of 10 increments. A projectile weapon has an unlimited range, since projectiles don’t lose inertia in space.

Starship’s Size Modifier: Starships are Huge, Gargantuan, or Colossal in size. Table: Starship Sizes notes the size modifiers for ships of different sizes.

Targeting System’s Equipment Bonus: Most starships have computerized targeting systems to help gunners train weapons on targets. A standard targeting system provides an equipment bonus on the gunner’s attack roll depending on the ship’s size: Huge +1, Gargantuan +2, Colossal +3. Improved targeting systems (see Starship Sensors) grant higher bonuses. Table: Starship Sizes summarizes the targeting system equipment bonuses for ships of different sizes.

Automatic Misses and Hits: As in character combat, a natural 1 on the attack roll is always a miss. A natural 20 is always a hit. A natural 20 also always threatens a critical hit (see Critical Hits, below).

Table: Starship Sizes
Starship Size Starship’s Size Modifier1 Targeting System’s Equipment Bonus2 Autopilot System’s Equipment Bonus3 Starship’s Length Starship’s Weight
Colossal –8 +3 +3 64 ft. or more 250,000 lb. or more
Gargantuan –4 +2 +2 32–64 ft. 32,000–250,000 lb.
Huge –2 +1 +1 Less than 32 ft. 4 ,000–32,000 lb.
  1. A starship applies its size modifier on all attack rolls and to its Defense.
  2. A starship applies its targeting system’s equipment bonus on all attack rolls.
  3. A starship on autopilot applies its autopilot system’s equipment bonus to its Defense.

DEFENSE

A starship’s Defense represents how difficult it is to hit in combat. It’s the attack roll result that an enemy ship needs to achieve a hit. In general, starships are easy to hit, which is why they rely on armor to absorb damage (see Starship Armor, below).

A starship’s Defense is partly determined by the skill of the pilot or the quality of its automatic pilot system.

PILOTED SHIPS

A starship with a living pilot has a Defense equal to:

10 + starship’s size modifier + pilot’s class bonus to Defense + pilot’s Dexterity modifier

Starship’s Size Modifier: The bigger a starship is, the easier it is to hit in combat. The smaller it is, the harder it is to hit. Size modifiers are shown on Table: Starship Sizes.

Pilot’s Class Bonus to Defense: The pilot imparts her class bonus to Defense to the ship’s Defense. This bonus applies even if the starship is flat-footed or otherwise denied the pilot’s Dexterity bonus to its Defense.

All starship pilots are assumed to have the appropriate Starship Operation feat. Consequently, they apply their full class bonus to Defense (instead of one-half the modifier) to a starship’s Defense.

Pilot’s Dexterity Modifier: In any given round, a pilot may choose to transfer her full Dexterity bonus to the starship’s Defense. However, doing so forces the pilot to focus entirely on flying the ship, and consequently the pilot loses the Dexterity bonus to her own Defense for the round.

A pilot cannot apply her Dexterity bonus to a starship’s Defense if she or the starship is flat-footed.

AUTOPILOTED SHIPS

Every starship comes equipped with a basic autopilot system that enables it to dodge enemy fire without need for a pilot. A starship on autopilot has a Defense equal to:

10 + starship’s size modifier + autopilot system’s equipment bonus

Starship’s Size Modifier: Size modifiers are shown on Table: Starship Sizes.

Autopilot System’s Equipment Bonus: An autopilot system provides an equipment bonus to Defense depending on the ship’s size: Huge +1, Gargantuan +2, Colossal +3. A ship equipped with an improved autopilot system (see Starship Defense Systems) gains a higher bonus.

CREW

The quality of the crew determines how well a starship performs in and out of combat. Unless otherwise noted, every starship has a trained crew of nonheroic characters. However, situations could arise where a starship must rely on an untrained crew. Conversely, expert crews and ace crews are also available—for the right price. Table: Crew Quality compares four different qualities of crew: untrained, trained, expert, and ace.

Skill Check Modifier: Apply this modifier to all skill checks made by crew.

Pilot’s Dexterity Modifier: A pilot’s Dexterity modifier applies to the starship’s initiative rolls and the starship’s Defense.

Pilot’s Class Bonus to Defense: A pilot’s class bonus to Defense applies to the starship’s Defense and to opposed grapple checks.

Gunner’s Attack Bonus: A gunner’s attack bonus applies to all ranged attacks made by the ship.

Modifier to Starship’s Base Purchase DC: The amount by which the crew increases the base purchase DC of the ship. (This modifier is already factored in to the base purchase DCs of the ships presented below.)

Table: Crew Quality
Crew Quality Skill Check Modifier1 Pilot’s Class Bonus to Defense Pilot’s Dexterity Modifier Gunner’s Modifier to Attack Bonus Starship’s Base Purchase DC
Untrained +0 +1 +0 –4 –4
Trained +4 +3 +2 +2 0
Expert +8 +5 +4 +4 +4
Ace +12 +7 +6 +8/+3 +8
  1. This includes Pilot checks.

CREW IMPROVEMENT

To improve in quality, a starship’s crew of nonheroic characters must “put in the hours” and gain combat experience. Table: Crew Improvement shows the length of the crew’s tour of duty and the number of ship-to-ship battles the crew must survive to be considered of a particular quality. A crew cannot be elevated to a higher quality until it meets the minimum required time spent serving aboard the ship and the minimum amount of ship-to-ship combat experience.

Table: Crew Improvement
Crew Quality Length of Tour of Duty Starship Battles Survived
Untrained 0–5 months 0
Trained 6–11 months 0–3
Expert 12–35 months 4–11
Ace 3 years or more 12+

DAMAGE

When a starship hits with a weapon, it deals damage according to the type of weapon (see Table: Starship Weapons). Damage is deducted from the target’s current hit points. If a starship’s hit points are reduced to 0 or fewer, the ship is in bad shape (see Hit Points, below).

MULTIPLYING DAMAGE

Sometimes a starship weapon multiplies damage by some factor, such as when it scores a critical hit. Just as in character combat, you can either roll the damage (with all modifiers) multiple times and total the results, or roll the damage once and multiply the result by the given multiplier.

Bonus damage represented as extra dice, such as from the Engineer’s weapon upgrade class ability, is an exception. Do not multiply bonus damage dice when a starship scores a critical hit.

CRITICAL HITS

Critical hits by starships work just like critical hits by characters. When a starship makes an attack roll and gets a natural 20, the starship hits regardless of the target’s Defense, and it has scored a threat of a critical hit. To find out whether it is actually a critical hit, the starship immediately makes another attack roll with all the same modifiers as the attack roll that scored the threat. If the second roll also results in a hit against the target’s Defense, the starship’s attack is a critical hit.

For a more colorful application of the critical hit system, see Optional Critical Hit Results, below.

OPTIONAL CRITICAL HIT RESULTS

A critical hit with a starship weapon normally multiplies the weapon’s damage. The GM may opt to use a randomized critical hit resolution system instead: Whenever a critical hit is scored, the attacker rolls percentile dice and consults Table: Optional Critical Hit Results to determine the effects of the critical hit on the target.

Table: Optional Critical Hit Results
d% Roll Effect(s)
01–35 Normal critical hit
36–50 Normal critical hit, crew casualties
51–55 Severe critical hit, artificial gravity disabled
56–60 Severe critical hit, crew casualties
61–65 Damaged system: comm system
66–70 Damaged system: defense system
71–75 Damaged system: engines
76–80 Damaged system: sensors
81–85 Damaged system: targeting system
86–90 Damaged system: weapon
91–95 Destroyed defensive system
96–100 Destroyed weapon

Normal Critical Hit: Roll critical hit damage normally.

Crew Casualties: A number of crewmembers and passengers are killed (this effect applies only if the ship isn’t destroyed). Roll 1d10 to determine the number of crew fatalities and, if the ship carries passengers, 1d10 to determine the number of passenger casualties. Only supporting GM characters are affected.

  • A starship with less than one-half of its normal crew complement takes a –2 penalty on all attack rolls and checks.
  • A starship with less than one-quarter of its normal crew complement takes a –4 penalty on all attack rolls and checks.
  • A starship with no crew flies on autopilot and cannot attack. If a crewless ship doesn’t have a functional autopilot system, it is immobile. If this result is rolled again and the ship has no living crew or passengers, ignore this result and reroll.

Severe Critical Hit: Roll critical hit damage using a ×10 multiplier instead of the weapon’s normal multiplier. In addition, the ship and its crew are shaken for 1 round.

Artificial Gravity Disabled: The starship’s artificial gravity is disabled for 1d10 rounds. During this time, an untrained crew takes a –4 penalty on all attack rolls and skill checks while coping with the zero-gravity conditions. Trained, expert, or ace crews take no penalties, as they are assumed to have the Zero-G Training feat. Ignore this result if it comes up again while the artificial gravity system is disabled.

Damaged System: A damaged system remains inoperable until it is repaired, which requires 10 hours of work and a successful Repair check (DC 30). A starship’s engineer (or engineering team) can perform jury-rig repairs on the system as a full-round action with a successful Repair check (DC 25), but the repairs last only until the end of the battle (or until the system is disabled again). During that round of jury-rigged repairs, the starship can continue to take actions.

Comm System: One communications system of the attacker’s choice is disabled. If this result is rolled again and the ship has no undamaged comm systems, ignore this result and reroll.

Defense System: One defense system of the attacker’s choice is disabled. If this result is rolled again and the ship has no undamaged defense systems, ignore this result and reroll.

Engines: The starship’s tactical speed decreases by 1,000 feet until the engines are repaired. If this result is rolled again, the effect is cumulative. If the ship’s tactical speed has already been reduced to 0 feet due to engine damage, ignore this result and reroll.

Sensors: The starship is blinded until repaired. All the ship’s targets gain the equivalent of total concealment (50% miss chance). If this result is rolled again, ignore the result and reroll.

Targeting System: The starship’s targeting system ceases to function. The starship loses the targeting system’s equipment bonus on attack rolls until the system is repaired. Reroll if this result comes up again.

Weapon: One of the starship’s beam weapons, projectile weapons, or missile launchers (attacker’s choice) ceases to function. The weapon remains inoperable until it is repaired. If this result is rolled again and the ship has no functional weapons, ignore this result and reroll.

Destroyed Defensive System: One of the starship’s defensive systems (determined by the attacker) is destroyed. It cannot be repaired and must be replaced. If this result is rolled again and the ship has no defensive systems, ignore this result and reroll.

Destroyed Weapon: One of the starship’s weapons (determined by the attacker) is destroyed. It cannot be repaired and must be replaced. If this result is rolled again and the ship has no weapons, ignore this result and reroll.

If the destroyed weapon was fire-linked, the other weapons to which it was linked continue to function normally. If the destroyed weapon was part of a weapon battery, the remaining weapons in the battery continue to function normally.

STARSHIP ARMOR

Starship armor is designed to absorb damage rather than make a starship harder to hit. Consequently, a starship’s armor plating provides hardness instead of an equipment bonus to Defense.

Subtract a starship’s hardness from the damage each time it takes a hit. If a ship’s hardness is greater than the amount of damage dealt by the attack, the starship takes no damage.

See Starship Armor for the various types of armor available at different Progress Levels, as well as the hardness of each type.

DAMAGE CONTROL

A starship equipped with a damage control system can perform damage control as a move action. With a successful Repair check (DC 15), the ship regains a number of hit points depending on its type, as shown on Table: Damage Control Systems. A ship with an improved or advanced damage control system regains even more hit points (see Starship Defense Systems).

Damage control cannot be performed if the ship has been reduced to negative hit points.

HIT POINTS

A starship’s hit points represent how much punishment it can take before being disabled or destroyed. A starship’s hit points are based on its type and subtype.

A ship’s hit points decrease when it takes damage. Damage doesn’t have any impact on a ship’s combat ability until its current hit points reach 0 or lower.

At 0 hit points, a ship is disabled.

At negative hit points, a ship begins breaking apart.

When its hit points drop to a certain negative hit point total, the ship is destroyed. The point at which a ship is destroyed varies depending on its type, as shown in Table: Destruction Threshold.

Table: Destruction Threshold
Ship Type Destroyed At
Ultralight –20 hp
Light –40 hp
Mediumweight –60 hp
Heavy –80 hp
Superheavy –100 hp

DISABLED (0 HIT POINTS)

When a starship’s current hit points drop to exactly 0, it’s disabled. The ship can only take a single move or attack action each turn (not both); it cannot jump to cruising speed or take any other full-round actions. If it attacks, attempts to escape at cruising speed, or performs any other action that would strain its systems, it takes 1 point of damage after the completing the act. Unless the activity increases the starship’s current hit points, it drops to –1 hit point and begins breaking apart (see Breaking Apart, below).

A disabled starship is considered helpless. It has a Defense of 5 + its size modifier.

Repairs that raise a starship above 0 hit points make it fully functional again, just as if it had never been reduced to 0 or lower.

BREAKING APART (NEGATIVE HIT POINTS)

When a starship’s current hit points drop below 0, the starship begins to break apart. At this point, the ship is immobile, helpless, and beyond repair. Any attempt to repair it automatically fails. As a ship breaks apart, its crew can evacuate (see Starship Evacuation, below).

A ship that is breaking apart can take no actions and loses 1 hit point every round. This continues until the ship is destroyed.

DESTROYED

When a starship’s current hit points reaches its destruction threshold (as shown above), it explodes. Any crewmembers still aboard the ship at this time take 20d6 points of damage (no save) and are jettisoned into the void of space.

STARSHIP EVACUATION

Most ultralight starships are equipped with evacuation pods or fully enclosed, detachable cockpits that jettison the crew to safety in the event of a shipwide catastrophe. In fact, unless noted otherwise, every starship has sufficient evacuation pods or launches to accommodate its normal crew complement and passenger manifest.

A ship’s crew and passengers can evacuate any time before the ship is destroyed (see above). Table: Evacuation Times shows the time required for crews to evacuate, based on the ship’s type. While the crew is evacuating, the starship either flies on autopilot (if it has 1 hp or more remaining) or is stopped dead in space (if it has been disabled or is breaking apart).

Use the statistics for a launch (see below) to represent a typical evacuation pod.

Table: Evacuation Times
Ship Type Untrained Crew Evacuation Time Trained Crew Evacuation Time1
Ultralight 1d3 rounds Move action
Light 1d6 rounds Full-round action
Mediumweight 2d6 rounds 1d4 rounds
Heavy 3d6 rounds 2d4 rounds
Superheavy 4d6 rounds 3d4 rounds
  1. Includes expert and ace crews.

STARSHIP CONDITION SUMMARY

A number of adverse conditions can affect the way a starship or its crew operates, as defined here. If more than one condition affects a starship, apply both if possible. If not possible, apply only the most severe condition.

Blinded: The starship’s sensors are inoperable. All targets have the equivalent of total concealment (50% miss chance).

Breaking Apart: The starship is at negative hit points. It can take no actions, cannot be repaired, and loses 1 hit point each round until it is destroyed.

Dazed: The starship, its crew, and its passengers can take no actions, but they take no penalty to Defense. A dazed condition usually lasts 1 round.

Destroyed: The ship is destroyed and cannot be repaired. Crewmembers aboard the destroyed ship take 20d6 points of damage and are ejected into space.

Entangled: An entangled starship takes a –2 penalty on attack rolls in addition to a –2 penalty to Defense. If the ship is physically anchored to a larger object (such as an asteroid), the entangled ship can’t move. Otherwise, it can move at half tactical speed, but can’t surge forward.

Flat-Footed: A starship that has not yet acted during a combat is flat-footed. A flat-footed starship cannot apply its pilot’s Dexterity bonus to its Defense.

Grappled: When grappled, a starship can’t move. It can attack, attempt to break free from its opponent, or perform other actions. It can’t apply the pilot’s Dexterity bonus to its Defense.

Helpless: A starship that is reduced to negative hit points is helpless. A helpless starship has an effective Defense of 5 + its size modifier.

Immobilized: An immobilized starship is held immobile (but is not helpless), usually in a grapple. It takes a –4 penalty to its Defense and can’t apply the pilot’s Dexterity bonus to its Defense.

Shaken: All passengers and crewmembers (pilots and gunners included) take a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, and skill checks.

Stunned: All passengers and crewmembers lose their Dexterity bonus, drop what they are holding, and can take no attack or move actions. In addition, they take a –2 penalty to Defense. The starship’s autopilot system kicks in until the pilot regains her senses.

SPEED

Starships have two basic speeds: tactical speed and cruising speed.

TACTICAL SPEED

Tactical speed only comes into play when two or more starships engage in battle or otherwise interact with each other. A ship’s tactical speed is measured in 500-foot squares and tells how far a starship can move in a move action. A starship’s tactical speed depends on the type of ship and the type of engines (see Starship Engines). Certain types of armor can reduce a starship’s tactical speed (see Starship Armor).

A starship normally moves as a move action, leaving an attack action to attack. It can, however, use its attack action as a second move action (see Starship Actions, below). This could let the ship move again, for a total movement of up to double its normal tactical speed. Another option is to surge forward (a full-round action). This lets the ship move up to four times its normal speed, but it can only surge forward in a straight line, and doing so affects its Defense (see Surge Forward).

CRUISING SPEED

Cruising speed determines how quickly a ship moves across vast distances, such as between planets or star systems. A ship’s cruising speed depends on the type of ship and its engines (see Starship Engines).

A ship can enter or leave a battle at cruising speed, but once it enters battle, it automatically drops to tactical speed. Cruising speed does not come into play during starship battles or in any other situation where two or more starships interact.

INITIATIVE

Every round, each starship gets to do something. The starships’ initiative checks, from highest to lowest, determine the order in which they act.

INITIATIVE CHECKS

At the start of a battle, each starship makes a single initiative check. An initiative check is a Dexterity check that uses the starship pilot’s Dexterity modifier. (A ship without a pilot has an initiative check modifier of +0.) A pilot with the Improved Initiative feat gets a +4 bonus on the check.

The GM determines what order starships are acting in, counting down from highest initiative result to lowest, and each starship acts in turn. On all following rounds, the starships act in the same order (unless a starship takes an action that changes its initiative; see Special Initiative Actions). If two or more starships have the same initiative check result, the starships that are tied go in order of total initiative modifier (including Dexterity modifier and Improved Initiative feat bonus, if applicable). If there is still a tie, roll a die.

Flat-Footed Starships: At the start of a battle, before a starship has had a chance to act (specifically, before its first turn in the initiative order), it is flat-footed. It can’t apply the pilot’s Dexterity bonus to Defense while flat-footed.

JOINING A BATTLE

If starships enter a battle after it has begun, they roll initiative at that time and act whenever their turn comes up in the existing order.

SURPRISE

At the start of combat, a starship is surprised if it was not aware of its enemies and they were aware of it. Likewise, a starship can surprise its enemies if it knows about them before they’re aware of it.

DETERMINING AWARENESS

The GM determines which starships are aware of which others at the start of any battle. The GM may call for Computer Use checks to operate shipboard sensors (see the expanded Computer Use skill description), Spot checks, or other checks to determine whether one ship detects another.

A starship makes only one roll or check against surprise, regardless of its crew complement.

THE SURPRISE ROUND

If some but not all of the starships are aware of their enemies, a surprise round happens before regular rounds begin. Starships that are aware of their enemies can act in the surprise round, so they roll for initiative. In initiative order (highest to lowest), starships that started the battle aware of their opponents each take either an attack action or move action during the surprise round (see Action Types, below). If no starship or all starships are surprised, a surprise round does not occur.

UNAWARE STARSHIPS

Starships that are unaware at the start of battle do not get to act in the surprise round. Unaware combatants are flat-footed because they have not acted yet. A flat-footed starship loses its pilot’s Dexterity bonus to Defense.

STARSHIP ACTIONS

The fundamental actions of moving and attacking cover most of what a starship wants to do in a battle. They’re described here. Other, more specialized options are touched on in Table: Starship Actions, and covered later in Special Initiative Actions.

A starship gets two move actions and one attack action each round. It can take two move actions followed by an attack action, an attack action followed by two move actions, or an attack action sandwiched between two move actions. A ship may choose to not take an attack action on its turn, but it gets only two move actions regardless. It can also forgo all of the above combinations and take a single full-round action. All of these options are discussed below, under Action Types.

A starship’s choices of actions can be summarized as follows.

  • Attack action → move action → move action, or
  • Move action → attack action → move action, or
  • Move action → move action → attack action, or
  • Full-round action

THE COMBAT ROUND

As with character-scale combat, each round of starship combat represents about 6 seconds in the game world.

Each round’s activity begins with the starship with the highest initiative result and then proceeds, in order, from there.

Each round of a combat uses the same initiative order. When a starship’s turn comes up in the initiative sequence, that ship performs its entire round’s worth of actions. (For exceptions, see Attacks of Opportunity and Special Initiative Actions.)

ACTION TYPES

As in character combat, starships may make attack actions, full-round actions, move actions, and free actions. In a normal round, a starship can perform an attack action and two move actions (in any order), two move actions, or a single full-round action. It can also perform as many free actions as the GM allows.

In some situations (such as in the surprise round), a starship may be limited to taking only a single attack or move action.

ATTACK ACTION

An attack action allows a starship to make an attack or perform other similar actions.

MOVE ACTION

A move action allows a starship to move its tactical speed or perform some other action that takes a similar amount of time.

If a starship moves no actual distance in a round, it can take one 500-foot shift before, during, or after the action. The ship cannot take a 500-foot shift if it used one or both of its move actions to move.

FULL-ROUND ACTION

A full-round action consumes all of a starship’s time during a round. The only movement it can take during a full-round action is a 500-foot shift before, during, or after the action. Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a 500-foot shift. A starship can also perform free actions (see below).

FREE ACTION

Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort, and over the span of the round, their impact is so minor that they are considered free. However, the GM puts reasonable limits on what a ship can really do for free.

Table: Starship Actions
Attack Actions Attack of Opportunity?2
Aid another No
Attack (ranged) No
Attack an object No
Escape a grappling ship No
Feint (see Bluff skill) No
Grapple another ship1 Yes
Total defense No
Move Actions Attack of Opportunity?2
Damage control No
Move at tactical speed No
Operate sensors No
Ram3 Yes
Sending/jamming a transmission No
Start/complete a full-round action Varies
Full-Round Actions Attack of Opportunity?2
Jump to cruising speed Yes
Surge forward Yes
Withdraw No
Free Actions Attack of Opportunity?2
Communicate via comm system No
Turn No
Special Initiative Actions Attack of Opportunity?2
Delay No
Ready No
No Action Attack of Opportunity?2
500-foot shift No
Avoid hazard No
  1. Technically, a grapple constitutes a single melee attack, not an action. A grapple can be made once in an attack action or as an attack of opportunity.
  2. Only starships armed with point-defense systems can make attacks of opportunity.
  3. Ramming is considered part of a move action.

ATTACK ACTIONS

Most common attack actions are described below.

ATTACK (RANGED)

As a single attack action, a starship can fire one or more of its ranged weapons at any target or targets within range and within line of sight. A target is in line of sight if there are no solid obstructions between the attacking starship and the target. The maximum range for a beam weapon is 10 range increments. Weapons that fire projectiles have an unlimited range in space.

If firing several weapons, a starship does not need to specify the targets of all of its attacks ahead of time. It can see how the earlier attacks turn out before assigning the later ones.

If a starship fires a ranged weapon at a target that occupies a square adjacent to an ally, it takes a –4 penalty on its attack roll because the gunner must aim carefully to avoid hitting the ally.

Attacks of Opportunity: A starship can fire its ranged weapons without provoking attacks of opportunity from enemy ships.

ATTACK AN OBJECT

Attacking objects follows the same rules for starships as for characters. Table: Space Objects lists the Defense, hardness, and hit points of objects commonly encountered in space and on the cosmic battlefield. Colossal objects occupy four 500-foot squares (a 1,000-footby- 1,000-foot fighting space). All other objects occupy a single 500-foot square.

Table: Space Objects
Object Defense Hardness Hit Points
Asteroid, Colossal –3 8 36,000
Asteroid, Gargantuan 1 8 9,000
Asteroid, Huge 3 8 4,500
Asteroid, Large 4 8 1,125
Debris cloud, Colossal –3 0 1,600
Debris cloud, Gargantuan 1 0 400
Iceball, Colossal –3 0 7,200
Iceball, Gargantuan 1 0 1,800
Iceball, Huge 3 0 900
Iceball, Large 4 0 225
Mine (Medium-size) 5 10 50
Space hulk, Colossal –3 10 3,600
Space hulk, Gargantuan 1 10 900
Space hulk, Huge 3 10 450

GRAPPLE ANOTHER SHIP

For rules on using grapplers and tractor beams to hold and immobilize starships, see Grappling Systems.

ESCAPE A GRAPPLING SHIP

Grappler arms and tractor beams allow starships to hold and immobilize one other. See Grappling Systems for rules on escaping grapplers and tractor beams.

AID ANOTHER

A starship can help an ally attack or defend by distracting or interfering with an enemy in weapon range. The aiding starship makes an attack roll against Defense 10. If the attack roll succeeds, the starship doesn’t actually damage the enemy ship—but its ally gains either a +2 circumstance bonus on attack rolls against that opponent or a +2 circumstance bonus to Defense against that opponent (your choice) on its next turn.

FEINT

See the expanded Bluff skill description for details.

TOTAL DEFENSE

Instead of attacking, a ship can use its attack action to defend itself by performing complex evasive maneuvers. This is called a total defense action. A ship that uses the total defense action doesn’t get to attack, but it gains a +4 dodge bonus to its Defense for 1 round. The ship’s Defense improves at the start of this action, so it helps against any attacks of opportunity the ship is subject to during its move action.

Fighting Defensively: Instead of diverting all of its attention to defending itself, a starship can choose to fight defensively while taking a regular attack action. If it does so, it takes a –4 penalty on its attacks in a round to gain a +2 dodge bonus to Defense during the same round.

MOVE ACTIONS

Unless otherwise noted, move actions don’t require a Pilot check to perform.

MOVE AT TACTICAL SPEED

A starship can move its tactical speed as a move action. If it takes this kind of move action during its turn, it cannot also take a 500- foot shift.

Attacks of Opportunity: Moving through a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity if the enemy ship has a point defense system (see Starship Defense Systems).

DAMAGE CONTROL

A starship equipped with a damage control system can perform damage control as a move action (see Starship Defense Systems).

Damage control cannot be performed if the ship has been reduced to negative hit points.

OPERATE SENSORS

See the expanded Computer Use skill description and Starship Sensors for details.

RAM

Ramming is considered part of a move action. A pilot can use her starship to ram an object, including another starship. First, the pilot must enter the target’s square or fighting space and declare her attempt to ram the target. If the target has point-defense systems, it can make an attack of opportunity against the ramming starship. Second, the pilot must make a Pilot check (DC = 5 + the target’s Defense). If the Pilot check fails, the ship misses the target and may finish its move. If the check succeeds, the starship collides with the intended target, dealing damage both to itself and the target (reduced by hardness, if applicable).

A pilot cannot ram the same ship or object more than once during a given round. However, a pilot that fails to ram a target may attempt to ram a different target if her starship has sufficient movement left to reach the new target.

Table: Collision Damage shows the amount of damage dealt to both colliding forces, based on the size of the smaller of the two colliding objects.

Table: Collision Damage
Size of Smaller Ship or Object Collision Damage1
Colossal 12d6×10
Gargantuan 6d6×10
Huge 3d6×10
Large 1d6×10
Medium-size or smaller
  1. Damage is applied to the ramming starship and its target.

SENDING/JAMMING A TRANSMISSION

See the expanded Computer Use skill description for details.

START/COMPLETE FULL-ROUND ACTION

The “start/complete full-round action” move action lets a starship begin undertaking a full-round action (such as those listed on Table: Starship Actions) at the end of its turn, or complete a full-round action by using a move action at the beginning of its turn in the round following the round when it started the full-round action. If a starship starts a full-round action at the end of its turn, the next action it takes must be to complete the full-round action—it can’t take another type of action before finishing what it started.

FULL-ROUND ACTIONS

A full-round action requires an entire round to complete. If it doesn’t involve moving any distance, a starship can combine it with a 500-foot shift.

JUMP TO CRUISING SPEED

As a full-round action, a starship can leave the battlefield by jumping to cruising speed. Doing so effectively takes the ship out of the fight, although enemy ships can pursue the fleeing ship if they wish.

A starship cannot jump to cruising speed if it has 0 or fewer hit points.

Attacks of Opportunity: A starship that jumps to cruising speed provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening enemy ships armed with point-defense systems (see Starship Defense Systems).

SURGE FORWARD

A starship can use its afterburners to surge forward as a full-round action. When a starship surges forward, it can move up to four times its tactical speed in a straight line. (It does not get a 500-foot shift.) It loses its pilot’s Dexterity bonus to Defense and any dodge bonuses to Defense since it can’t avoid attacks.

A starship can surge forward for as many rounds as the pilot likes.

Attacks of Opportunity: A starship that surges forward provokes attacks of opportunity from threatening enemy ships armed with point-defense systems (see Starship Defense Systems).

WITHDRAW

Withdrawing from combat is a full-round action. When a starship withdraws, it can move up to twice its tactical speed. (It doesn’t also get a 500-foot shift.) The square it starts from is not considered threatened for purposes of withdrawing, and therefore enemies with point-defense systems do not get attacks of opportunity against it when it moves from that square.

If, during the process of withdrawing, the starship moves through another threatened square (other than the one it started in) without stopping, enemies get attacks of opportunity as normal.

FREE ACTIONS

A starship can perform multiple free actions during its turn, subject to the GM’s approval. In general, if one or more free actions take longer than 6 seconds to complete, they are not free actions. Free actions include communicating via a comm system and turning.

COMMUNICATE VIA COMM SYSTEM

Starships (and their crews) can communicate and coordinate with each other as a free action. A GM may rule that a particularly long or complex message cannot be communicated as a free action.

TURN

Starships—even immensely large ones—are highly maneuverable in space. As a free action, a ship can adjust its orientation on the battle grid by pivoting or turning. The direction a starship is facing has no bearing on combat, since its weapons can be trained to fire in any direction.

COVER AND CONCEALMENT

Starships use the same rules as characters for cover and concealment in combat.

SPECIAL INITIATIVE ACTIONS

Usually a starship acts as soon as it can in combat, but sometimes it may want to act later, at a better time, or in response to the actions of another ship. Starships can delay or ready actions in the same manner as characters.

AVOIDING HAZARDS

A hazard is any unmanned obstacle of Large size or bigger that a starship might hit, either because the starship has entered the hazard’s square or because the hazard has entered the starship’s fighting space. Sample hazards include asteroids, clouds of space debris, and electromagnetic storms (which deal electricity damage). When a starship enters a square occupied by a hazard, or vice versa, the pilot of the starship must make a Pilot check. (Making this check does not count as an action.) The DC of the check depends on the size of the obstacle, as shown in Table: Avoid Hazard DCs. If the Pilot check succeeds, the starship avoids the hazard. If the check fails, a collision occurs (use Table: Collision Damage to determine collision damage to both the starship and the hazard). A new check must be made each round the starship and the hazard occupy the same square.

Table: Avoid Hazard DCs
Hazard Size Pilot Check DC
Colossal 5
Gargantuan 20
Huge 15
Large 10

MOVING THROUGH OCCUPIED SQUARES

A starship can pass through a square occupied by another starship or object.

Ally or Nonopposing Starship: You can safely move through a square occupied by an ally or nonopposing starshi p.

Enemy Starship: Moving through a square occupied by an enemy provokes an attack of opportunity if the enemy has a point-defense system (see Starship Defense Systems). You can move safely through a square occupied by an enemy that doesn’t resist—such as one that is disabled—as if the enemy was nonopposing.

Hazard: Safely moving through a square occupied by a hazard—such as a cloud of space debris or an asteroid— requires a successful Pilot check (see Avoiding Hazards).

Crossfire

If two allied starships are on opposite sides of an enemy and each within 1,000 feet (2 squares) of that opponent, they can catch the enemy ship in their crossfire. Because the enemy is forced to defend itself on two fronts, the allied starships gain a +2 bonus on attack rolls made against the ship caught in their crossfire. The enemy ship must be directly between the two allied ships, however.

ATTACKS OF OPPORTUNITY

Attacks of opportunity work differently with starships than with characters.

A starship can only make an attack of opportunity if it is equipped with a point-defense system (see Starship Defense Systems). A starship can use its point-defense system to make an attack of opportunity against an enemy ship that enters or passes through its fighting space (any square it occupies on the battle grid) or any adjacent square.

THREATENED SQUARES

A starship equipped with a point-defense system threatens the squares it occupies (its fighting space) and all adjacent 500-foot squares. It can therefore make attacks of opportunity against enemy ships that enter or pass through its fighting space or any adjacent square.

A starship without a point-defense system does not threaten ships that enter or pass through its fighting space or adjacent squares.

PROVOKING AN ATTACK OF OPPORTUNITY

Two actions can provoke attacks of opportunity: moving out of a threatened square, and performing an action within a threatened square that distracts the pilot and forces her to do something other than evade incoming fire.

Moving Out of a Threatened Square: When a starship moves out of a threatened square, it generally provokes an attack of opportunity. There are two important exceptions, however. A starship doesn’t provoke an attack of opportunity if it limits its movement to a single 500-foot shift or if it withdraws (see Withdraw).

Thus, if the square a starship occupies at the beginning of its turn is a threatened square, any movement it makes provokes an attack of opportunity (unless it withdraws or limits it move to a single 500-foot shift). If it doesn’t start in a threatened square but moves into one, it must stop there, or else it provokes an attack of opportunity as it leaves that square.

Performing an Action that Distracts the Pilot: Some actions, when performed in a threatened square, provoke attacks of opportunity because they make the pilot divert her attention from the battle at hand. Firing a starship weapon in a threatened square does not provoke attacks of opportunity, but Table: Starship Actions notes actions that do.

MAKING AN ATTACK OF OPPORTUNITY

An attack of opportunity is a single attack made with a ranged starship weapon. A starship can only make one attack of opportunity per round. It doesn’t have to make an attack of opportunity if it doesn’t want to.

An attack of opportunity is made using the starship’s normal attack bonus—even if it’s already attacked in this round.




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