About Me

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Seattle, Washington, United States
I'm an old time roleplayer who became a soldier who became a veteran who became a developer who became a dba who became a manager who never gave up his dream of a better world. Even if I have to create it myself.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stellar Space Fighter Construction

I decided that I needed to start letting players in my playtests make some creation choices. Since all I have in Stellar so far is the space fighter combat, it made sense to start with space fighter construction.

photo credit: Louis K. via photopin cc

Other systems vary widely in their approaches, but appear to fall into two general approaches:

  • Buffet: "Pick from a series of menus"
  • Scientific: "Get a fancy calculator"

AeroTech, for example, was scientific. It started with tonnage and ends with equations like 10 (2AF + 1.5SI) - 20Cn - 10Cy - 5(HP - HC) .... well you get the idea. Some of us have fond memories of making spreadsheets or even custom apps to make our AeroTech or BattleTech pieces. Pretty much only crazy people did it by hand. Some of those crazy people may have gone on to make LARPs.

Since that violates the more abstracted spirit of Stellar, I'm heading more down the Buffet route. However, it is still a roleplaying game, and to me that fundamentally must include killing stuff and upgrading stuff.

EQ (Equipment)

Part of a ship's form factor is how much equipment it can mount. This will be represented by an EQ rating.

EQ isn't used in combat; it is used when configuring a space fighter. Maybe the players will have a bay full of weapons at some point, but only be able to mount 2 or 3 for a specific mission. That approach starts to bring out the RPG a bit more.

Starting Space Fighter

A starting space fighter has a basic form factor that includes:
  • Space & Life Support for the Pilot
  • HP 5
  • Basic Fusion Drive: MV 4/7, SH 1/1, PP 1, EQ 4

And then can choose one of the following secondary bays:
  • Small Cargo Bay: Carry a small amount of cargo
  • Co-Pilot (space/life support): May access all systems unless Primary Pilot overrides them

Then they can choose a single power systems modification from the following basics (a power system can only have 1 mod, but they become more powerful and/or interesting at higher levels):
  • Basic Shield Capacitor: SH +1/+0
  • Basic Thrust Enhancer: MV +1/+1
  • Basic Equipment Reserve: EQ +1
  • Basic Secondary Generator: PP +1

Then, EQ can be spent on the starting weaponry choices:
  • EQ 1: Mk-1 Particle Cannon: WP 1F5
  • EQ 2: Mk-1 Laser Cannon; WP 2F5
  • EQ 2: Mk-1 Phase Cannon; WP 3sF5
  • EQ 2: Mk-1 Rail Gun; WP 2hF8
  • EQ 2: Mk-1 Energizing Beam Array; WP 2+sF3
  • EQ 4: Mk-1 Large Laser Cannon; WP 4F6

For now, turret weapons cost 50% more EQ (rounded down), and changing to a rear arc reduces range to 50% (round down).
Recall that WP 1F5 means that the weapon does 1 die of damage, Forward Arc, and Range 5. The new nomenclature (s, h, and +s) represents another detail of the weapon.
  • s: The weapon only damages shields, and is ineffective against ships without shields (or whose shields are already down).
  • h: The weapon only damages hulls, and is ineffective against ships with shields up.
  • +s: The weapon is designed to charge a target's shield capacitors, basically "healing" the shields by an amount equal to the hits rolled in the attack.

Character Sheet

The character sheet now has all of this on it:
  • Name: Jan Duo
  • Space Fighter Combat Skill +2
  • Fighter, "The Centurion Hawk":
    • Basic Form Factor: 1 pilot, 1 cargo
    • HP 5
    • Basic Fusion Engine
      • Mod: Basic Shield Capacitor
      • EQ 4
      • MV 4/7
      • SH 2/1
      • PP 1
    • WP
      • 1F5 Mk-1 Particle Cannon (EQ 1)
      • 2hT8 Mk-1 Rail Gun (EQ 3)

And, of course, I had another playtest, this one a 3-player test, and it is coming along nicely. One of the players was new to the game and picked it up right away, playing in the first 5 minutes. However, I can tell that learning the ins and outs of tactics in this ruleset will take some time. Controlling several enemy fighters as the GM, and trying to gang up on individual player targets, proved challenging.

I like that.

Sometimes I would dare the players to get closer so that my turreted shield ship could have more impact. Sometimes I would scatter in different directions to make them choose who to go after. It's a form of emergent complexity, and I consider it a good sign of things to come.


  1. I resemble that remark! I did Traveller by hand too!

    1. Oh, I was totally thinking about that other LARPer I know.

    2. Haha just kidding.

      I probably couldn't handle knowing more than one.

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