Space Combat in Fate
Fate is one of those game systems that brings out my urge to tinker. Hence, despite the fact I can, off the top of my head, think of five different Fate-based RPGs involving spacecraft and space battles, I’ve come up with yet another system for battles and chases between spacecraft. It owes something to the system in Diaspora, but it’s simpler.
So rather than have this system languishing on my hard drive (though I intend to bring it out to play at the Seven Hills science fiction RPG convention), I thought I’d share. It’s raw, and lacks examples, and I may or may not polish it up into something more refined, but it’s been a while since a new blog entry.
Spacecraft are described by one or two Aspects, and the following quantities, rated from 0 to +5:
A spacecraft can have more than one Weapon System. This enables multiple attacks. Weapons Systems should be named things like “X-Ray Laser”, “Particle Beam”, “Antimatter Torpedoes”, “High Capacity Railgun”. This has no mechanical effect, but sounds more interesting.
Spacecraft also have stress tracks in:
These stress tracks start off at 2 each. A Spacecraft can also have stunts which increase the length of one stress track by 1, give a spacecraft a shuttle or lander, or give a +2 bonus to a quantity when used for defensive purposes.
Building a Spacecraft is points-based. A Spacecraft has a level, from 1 to 5, representing how expensive and advanced it is. It is created using a number of build points equal to five times its level.
All quantities start at zero. Each point in a quantity costs one build point up to the spacecraft’s level. Raising a quantity above a spacecraft’s level is allowed, but each increase costs two build points.
Stunts cost one build point each.
If a spacecraft has a quantity at zero, it can’t use that quantity. For example, with Thrust 0, a spacecraft is a static space station.
A Spacecraft needs a crewmember as a Pilot, Communications officer (if involved in electronic warfare), and a Gunner for each weapon system. An engineer is also convenient. The skill of a crewmember modifies a spacecraft’s quantity.
- If the crew member’s skill is higher than that quantity, add 1 to it.
- If a a crew member’s skill is lower than that quantity, take 1 away from it.
|Weapons System||Ranged Combat|
A spacecraft does not have any Fate Points of its own, but can use those of its crew on manoeuvres they perform.
Rounds in space combat vary in length, and could represent minutes or even hours of game time. Each round is divided into phases with different activities.
Each pilot decides whether they are seeking to flee, perform evasive action, or attack manoeuvres. The pilot of the vessel with the lowest sensors quantity acts first here.
Evasive action or attack manoeuvres means making a skill test using the Thrust quantity at difficulty 1, as per the usual Fate rules. Success means you can Create an Advantage, which lasts the rest of the round, and can be used once at no Fate Point cost. Success with style means the Aspect placed lasts two rounds, and can be used twice at no Fate Point cost.
If instead, a spacecraft decides to flee, they need to make an opposed Thrust test with another vessel, with the level of success applied as stress to the losing vessel’s Heat stress track.
A vessel taken out through Heat stress can no longer act in the manoeuvre phase of combat, and can certainly no longer Create Advantages, pursue, or flee. Taking another vessel out by deciding to flee means you’ve got away.
- Electronic Warfare
In this phase, the vessel with the highest sensors quantity acts first. If you want to engage in electronic warfare, pick another vessel and make an opposed Electronic Warfare test. The loser of the test takes stress to their Data stress track equal to the degree of success. This damage applies regardless of who initiated Electronic Warfare.
In a combat with multiple vessels, you can’t initiate Electronic Warfare if it’s already been used against you this round.
A vessel taken out through Data stress is disabled.
In this phase, the vessel with the highest sensors quantity acts first. An attack is a Weapon System skill test, opposed by a Thrust skill test used for defence. The Advantages created in the Manoeuvres phase can be used here.
If the attack succeeds, it does damage to the Hull stress track equal to the degree of success. A vessel taken out through Hull stress is disabled permanently or even destroyed.
An engineer can make a skill test (their own, rather than the spacecraft’s) to repair damage to one stress track. The difficulty is the amount of damage that track has taken. The degree of success is the number of points of stress repaired.
Spacecraft can take Consequences the same as characters, but these take longer to fix.