Saturday, February 20, 2016

Space Escape Rules

I picked up Tales of the Space Princess a few years ago.

While I have never run it straight as written, it has influenced much of my sci-fi gaming. One aspect of the rules that I have found inspirational is the "space battles" section. Now these are not large-scale epic battles with dozens of ships. Instead, they are simpler affairs where the heroes are trying to escape from the dark lord's lair while pursued by a few elements of his fleet, much like the Millennium Falcon's escape from the Death Star. This seemed like such as neat feature that I have incorporated it into my RPG rules, and now my skirmish rules as well.

Last week, I described the beginning of a skirmish adventure with my heroes Kate and Kip. They are trying to escape from a space station rife with Imperial troopers. Today I finished their adventure (report over at Tales of the Templars). Today's episode featured a space battle akin to those outlined in Space Princess. Here's a sample (I used my virtual board again).

Kate and Kip in trouble.
Notice the status display in the upper right
The turn sequence works like this:

  1. Navigation check - The heroes try to prepare their jump. They need 4 successes (over multiple turns if needed) to jump.
  2. Engineering check - Heroes make repairs or try to provide extra power to systems.
  3. Pilot check - The heroes' pilot tries to outrun or outmaneuver the pursuers. The enemy will also roll pilot checks. If the heroes get more successes they can increase their lead over the enemy; if the enemy is more successful it will draw closer.
  4. Gunnery phase - the opponents shoot at each other.
I track damage for the heroes using the status display. Hits can damage the hull, engines, or weapons (with resulting penalties). I don't bother with such details for the enemies. I just track hits with each hit causing an across the board penalty to all systems (yes, I'm unfair to the enemy).

Overall, the rules worked well. I definitely felt suspense as it looked bleak for Kate and Kip early on. I changed the pilot rules on the fly. Initially, I rolled a pilot check. A success would give a bonus to the movement roll. I then combined the pilot and movement rolls together. It streamlined the game but I may still tinker with the rules. Initially, a successful pilot check allowed the heroes to "escape" (add to their movement roll) or evade (add to their defense roll). When I combined them, I allowed the player to allocate dice to escaping or evading. It turns out that I always threw my full dice allocation into escaping. Their does not seem to be any motivation to evade. I'll have to think about it.

Nevertheless, it was a quick and enjoyable scenario. What a great way to end a mission!

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