After some discussion in the comments on the previous post on Space Opera Dogfighting
, and some discussion on the S7S Yahoogroup
, I am in the middle of rethinkery on SpOp Dogfighting.
Your comments desired; genre/media analysis and game design
behind the cut...
Space Opera Space Combat
This post is mostly to help me go back to square one on rethinking SpOp combat. It's me thinking out loud, which I choose to do on this LJ rather than junk up the S7S yahoogroup any further.
From my reading and especially viewing (since PDQ#
is a cinematic game), space combat in the Space Opera breaks down into common categories across three scales.
The three scales are: Fighter, Corvette, and Capital Ship.
The obvious common categories are:
1. Fighter vs. Fighter
: *-wings vs. TIEs (SW), Starfuries vs. Raiders/*-Fighters (B5), Vipers vs. Cylon Raiders (BG). (Capital Ships are mostly background.)
2. Capital Ship vs. Capital Ship
: Constellation/Galaxy Class vs. other Ships of the Line (ST), Ships of the Line vs. Shadow Battlecrabs (B5), Battlestar vs. Basestar (BG). (Fighters are mostly background.)
3. Fighters vs. Capital Ship
: The snarl around the second Death Star in RotJ (SW), Vipers vs. Basestar and Raiders vs. Battlestar (BG), several examples (B5).
The obvious but more uncommon categories:
A. Corvette vs. Fighters
: Millenium Falcon vs. TIEs (SW), possibly War Rocket Ajax vs. Hawkmen (FG).
B. Corvette vs. Capital Ship
: Possibly the Defiant from DS9 (BG), White Stars vs. Battlecrabs (B5).
C. Corvette vs. Corvette
: I'm lacking an example here. Possibly something from B5?
D. Major Battle (All Scales at Once)
: B5 is the exemplar here, I think.
I think that surrounds most of the popular match-ups. In general, I think it's safe to say that in the majority of SpOp combat, ships stay within their scale -- it's either Fighter vs. Fighter (FvF; SW model) or Capital Ship vs. Capital Ship (CSvCS; ST model). Some thought, however, will have to be paid to the FvCS option -- but that's down the road. (Ideas below on how to mechanize these two basic interactions under PDQ#
.)Outstanding Questions to Ponder
Again, your thoughts are welcome in the comments -- I'm especially looking for illustrations of resolutions for the below questions in SF&F media, if you can think of any.
* Combat between different scales (especially FvCS).
* Combat involving all 3 scales at once.
* How to integrate Corvettes? (How do they work in interacting with the higher and lower scales? Are they more big Fighters, small Capital Ships, or something else? This question is especially problematic, since Corvettes are mostly likely to be the right size for a bunch of PCs to work together in.)
* Examples of CVvCV combat in the source genre? (All I'm coming up with is White Star vs. Drakh ships from B5.)
PDQ# SpOp Space Combat Rules Thots
Determining the "basic" scale (F, CV, CS) for a PDQ# SpOp game should absolutely
be part of Setting the Dials. Once that's done, many of the other tributary concerns should be easy to resolve, since the majority of space combat will happen in that basic scale.
I think that common cases #1 and #2, from above, are pretty clear-cut under PDQ#
-- #1 is a slightly modified Duel  and #2 is a slightly reskinned-to-fit-the-genre version of Vehicle Combat from S7S
. (#3 will require thought on combat across scales before anything can be done on that; once #3 is figured out, the CV question can be broached.)
 In the discussions thus far on SpOp Dogfighting, I have been reminded of the importance of position/advantage (p/a). So, I went back and looked at GURPS Lensmen
for its Space Opera Combat System (SOCS) simply for inspiration -- because even it (light by GURPS standards) is way too complicated for the abstraction of PDQ#
. However, this review did bear fruit.
The slight modification of the Duel rules for Dogfighting is this: before every Turn, the opposing Pilots have a Flashy Challenge, which represents gaining p/a over their foe. Per the FC rules, the loser takes a Failure Rank and the winner gains a Style Die -- but here's the modification: the winner also gains initiative for the Turn
. Duels play out as usual (including the Volte-Face).
I think that this helps give the flavor of the value of p/a without making the benefits of winning or the penalties for losing it overwhelming, or making the system overly complex.
Here are two further ideas to beef up the benefits of p/a, but they might be too
crippling, and do not look like they can be used together:
* No Volte-Face
: The defender does not get any chance to attack during the Turn. This means that a defender will essentially always be All-Out Defending (3d), and has a good chance at evading damage... but even given that, the Failure Ranks accrued from the FCs for p/a at the top of each Turn will grind down on both fighters.
* Limited Combat Options
: After position/advantage is determined, attackers can only All-Out Attack or Strongly Attack; defenders can only Strongly Defend or All-Out Defend.
Thoughts, questions, comments, examples?
Tags: asmp, evilhat, game design, gaming, mad rpg theory, pdq, s7s, sf&f, spop