STARSHIP FLIGHT & OPERATIONS
This section of Starcraft is adapted from the Space Travel & Combat
section of the Star Wars Role-Playing Game (3rd) by West
End Games. Their new Metabarons likely contains the same materials
with some improvements. Most likely it will provide you with a much
more comprehensive rule system for space travel. Lists of each starship
type can be found under the descriptions for each species.
The three main species in Starcraft have very different methods of
travelling through the stars. Terrans have developed faster-than-light
engines that can warp space and travel through a space-time “slipstream”
known as “hyperspace.” The Zerg have managed to assimilate giant
space-dwelling creatures capable of organically warping space-time and
entering hyperspace. The Protoss use their prodigious mental powers
to actually bend reality slip into hyperspace; they can also establish
stargates that permit teleportation from one point in space to another.
Regardless of the method, each species has developed the ability to
travel hundreds of light-years in relatively short periods. This
is essential for travel even between planets in the same solar system,
since at sublight speeds such journeys would take weeks at the least.
All starships are equipped with engines that permit rapid, but slow-than-lightspeed
travel in space. The Base Difficulty to pilot a starship in open space
is Easy (10). In the game, this speed is listed under a starship’s
“Space” rating and estimated in “Space Units.” This is not measure
of real velocity, but a relative measure between different starship speeds.
GM’s should feel free to make the Space rating equal to whatever real velocity
they feel is appropriate. Most ships will also have an Atmosphere
Speed rating given in kilometers.
The Space rating given for any ship is its Standard or Cruising Speed
(no difficulty modifier to piloting attempts). It may be cut in half
(round up) to decrease piloting difficulty by 5. Ships may also be
moved at High Speed which is equal to double the Standard Speed and adds
+5 to the piloting Difficulty. Finally, a pilot may push his ship
to go All-out, which is equal to 4 times its Space rating and increases
the pilot’s Difficulty by 15.
Example: Coburn is flying a Wraith with a Space
of 8. If he decides to only move 4 units in a round, his piloting
Difficulty will be Very Easy (5). If he decides to accelerate to
High Speed, he will fly up to 16 units and have a piloting difficulty of
Moderate (15). Finally, after one round of traveling at High Speed
he may attempt to go All-Out, with a speed of 32 units! But his Difficulty
will be Very Difficulty (25).
Piloting difficulties should also increase if the fly-zone is littered
with debris, amidst a battle, affected by cosmic events, the ship is damaged
(+5 for each damage level), etc.
Sublight Piloting Errors
When a pilot fails to make a Starship Piloting roll successfully, he
temporarily loses control of his vessel and unpleasant results ensue.
GM’s may craft their own devious consequences or consult the table below
(decided by the number of points by which the attempt failed):
Acceleration: Starships may increase or decrease their speed
levels by 1 level per round.
1-3 Slip: The ship slides and slips, like a car fish-tailing
on a wet road. The pilot completes the attempted movement, but he
is -1D to all other actions this round and the next.
4-6 Sloshing: The ship rocks sharply side to side (anyone
standing must make a Dexterity check or be hurled to the deck and take
2D damage). The ship only completes half its Space move this round
and the pilot suffers -3D to all other actions this round and -1D to actions
7-10 Spinning: The ship begins a rapid spin, completing
only one fourth of its attempt Space movement and is veering sharply off
course. The pilot cannot take any other actions this round and can
only make a Moderate piloting attempt to get the ship back under control
11-15 Minor Overload/Collision: The ship either scrapes
against something or the engines overload and the ship suffers systems
damage (equal to 10D damage if there is a collision (consider armor and
shields), or 3D damage internally (ignore armor and shields, passengers
takes 2D damage). The pilot cannot act this round and the ship is
sent into a Spin (see Spinning above).
16-20 Serious Overload/Collision: The ship either crashes
into something or suffers serious engine and internal damage (blow-outs,
sparks, smoke, etc.). If the ship strikes something, it takes 20D
damage (consider armor and shields) or suffers 10D internal damage (ignore
armor and shields, passengers take 3D damage). The pilot cannot act
this round and the ship is sent into a Spin (see Spinning above).
21+ Major Meltdown/Collision: The ship either rams into
something or suffers a complete engine meltdown. If the ship strikes
something, it takes 30D damage (consider armor and shields) or suffers
20D internal damage (ignore armor and shields, passengers take 5D damage).
Some general guidelines for sublight space speeds may be:
Sometimes skilled astrogators will make micro-jumps into hyperspace while
still in a solar system. This requires precise calculations and adds
+10 to the Astrogration difficulty because of various gravitational interferences.
Approximately 3-5 minutes to fly from a high orbit to a safe distance to
make a hyperspace jump.
Half an hour to fly from a planet to one of its moons.
2-6 hours to fly between adjacent planets in a system.
10-48 hours to fly from a planet to the edge of its solar system.
While hyperspace is essentially a warping of real space-time, it still
has physical distance and actual time. Thus, the greater the distance
between two points, the more time one must spend in hyperspace to make
Travel distances are estimated in hours (or days) of travel at Class
1 (x1) speeds. Different hyperdrive engines will have different speed
Classes that act as “hyperspace multiplier.” The Hyperdrive Class
is multiplied against the standard travel time to estimate the total number
of hours required to make a given journey (GM’s should feel free to vary
this estimate a bit).
Example: Coburn and Red are both flying ships
from Tarsonis to Korhal, which would be a journey of 1 day (24 hours) in
a Class 1 ship. Coburn is in a Confederate Wraith, which has a Class
3 hyperdrive, so the trip will take 72 hours. Red is in an old cargo
freighter with a Class 5 hyperdrive. It will be 120 hours (5 days)
to reach Korhal.
Navigating in Space
When hurtling through space at lightspeeds, a pilot must be careful
to not collide with planets, stray comets, suns, or anything else that
might make life unpleasant. He must use starcharts to plot a course
using the Astrogration skill and plug directions into his ship’s navigational
computer before making the jump to hyperspace.
The standard attempt to plot a course takes about one minute and is
of Moderate (15) Difficulty . Many well-travelled routes will have
pre-calculated coordinates that ships can access upon request to a planet’s
star-traffic control system (sometimes for a price, and the quality is
The Difficulty is increased if the pilot rushes the calculations (+5
for every round / 6 seconds cut off), does not have a computer to assist
in the calculations (+15), or has never been to that region of space (+10).
GM’s should add other Difficulties depending on the situation (damaged
ship, unexplained steller phenomena, drunk pilot, etc.).
For each damage level the ship has endured, increase the Astrogation
Difficulty by +5.
If the astrogater fails in his attempt to plot a course, various unpleasant
circumstances may ensue. Roll 2D6 to find out consequences:
2 Hyperdrive Cut-out and Damaged: the ship’s engines begin
to overload and automatically shut down (if the “hyperdrive” is organic,
the animal is exhausted and wounded). A Moderate (15) Mechanics-Starship
(or First Aid for animals) roll is required to get the engines back online.
3-4 Radiation Fluctuations: Passengers and the ship take 5D
of radiation damage (ignore the ship’s armor, but flight suits and power
armor will protect characters). The hyperdrive will function below
optimum levels and be 1D6 hours slower for each point by which the astrogater’s
attempt missed the Difficulty.
5-6 Hyperdrive Cut-out: the hyperdrive’s sensors have picked
up a large mass nearby and cut-out to avoid a collision. The pilot
must recalculate the course before they can jump to hyperspace again.
7-8 The ship is off course and lost. A new jump must be calculated.
Add the difference between the astrogator’s missed roll and the Difficulty
of the first attempt to the new roll.
9 Systems Blow-out. The ship suffers significant electrical
overload and damage. The ship drops out of hyperspace and goes into
dark mode (low-power). A Moderate (15) Electronics-Starship Systems
repair roll must be made to bring the system back online. Add 2D
x the Hyperdrive Class hours to the journey.
10 Engine Strain. The hyperdrive engine suffers serious damage.
The ship will be able to finish the journey, but its hyperdrive engines
will not be able to be used again until replaced or a Very Difficult (25)
repair roll is made.
11-12 Collision / Heavy Damage: The ship collides with an
object. The ship takes damage depending on its size (15Dx10 for Starship
scale, 20D x 10 points of damage from Capital scale). Shields
will be knocked out, life support will be minimal or blacked out, and parts
of the hull will be ruptured. Serious repairs will have to be made
before the ship can jump to hyperspace again (Very Difficult (25) repairs).
Nearly ever starship is equipped with at least rudimentary sensors--flying
blind would be certain suicide! Most sensor systems have four distinct
sensor modes explained below:
Passive sensors are continually running, giving very basic information
about what surrounds the ships.
Examples: the ship is passing a planet to port; a large vessel
is off to starboard, etc.
Scan mode must be purposely used and interpreted by the sensor operator.
The sensor array emits pulses in all directions from the ship and collects
more detailed information.
Examples: the planet is a gas giant; the vessel is a starship
closing in on the ship’s location.
Search mode narrows the sensor array to a single arc (forward, starboard,
port, or aft) and will extend the distance of the sensor range and provide
Examples: there is a small vessel in low orbit of the planet;
the incoming starship is a Terran battlecruiser moving at 6 units per round.
Focus mode only provides information about a single object or an
extremely limited area.
Examples: the planet’s atmosphere is composed mainly of nitrogen,
oxygen, hydrogen, and helium; the battlecruiser has a Yamato cannon
and reinforced hull plating.
Limitations on Sensors
Sensors must be used by a skilled operator (Knowledge:
Sensors) in order to be effective. Furthermore, sensors are “line-of-sight”,
meaning a target hoping to avoid detection may attempt to hide behind another
ship, planet, or other sensor-blocking phenomena.
Cloaked Ships: Standard sensors cannot detect cloaked individuals
or vessels. Only delicate and advanced sensor arrays may pierce cloaking
Running Silent: A ship may attempt to confound the sensors
of an opponant by “running silent,” or shutting down all systems except
a minimal life support. The ship will drift until power is restored
(but since there’s no friction in space, it will travel at the same velocity
it was traveling at when the systems were shut down). Shutting down
power may be attempted in 2 rounds with a Moderate Starship Piloting roll.
Restarting engines takes at least one minute. Ships can rarely provide
life support for more than 5 minutes while running silent, unless they
have been specially modified.
Jamming: Finally, one ship may attempt to use its sensors
to jam another. This will flood the area with static. The opposing
ship will know a ship is emitting the jamming signal, but will have a Very
Difficult (25) time narrowing its scans to locate it. A sensor operator
may attempt to clear the static by making an opposing Sensors check.
Terrans: the humans' interstellar communications are relatively
crude compared to those of other. Thus, communications are often
delayed between the Terran planets, sometimes for days. Relay buoys
may increase the speed somewhat.
Protoss: telepathic relays and amplifiers can send messages at
the speed of a single thought. The Protoss also use their warp gate
technology to transfer messages over thousands of light years with the
same speed as if the two communicants were standing right next to each
other. Protoss units also use electronic communicators as back-ups
The Zerg: the Swarm stays in continual contact with the
Overmind through a tele-empathic link. While “words” are not necessarily
transferred at the speed-of-thought, “ideas” and “orders” are. The
Swarm instantantly relay information back to the Overmind, and it delivers
its commands with equal speed. However, since the Zerg Swarm mainly
stays in the same system, the Zerg have yet to develop hyperspace communication.
Combat between ships is handled much as it is between characters (see
& Combat). Each round, whichever pilot has the highest Instincts
Movement in Combat
A pilot need not take an action to fly his ship in a straight line
and at the same speed as the previous round. However, if he attempts
maneuvers, dodges or acceleration, he must attempt a Starship Piloting
When attacked, the pilot may “dodge” with the starship just as he might
use the Dodge skill in personal combat. The pilot may roll his Starship
Piloting check and set the total as the new Difficulty for attackers.
Example: Coburn is in his Wraith fighter and
fails to see a Protoss Scout waiting up ahead in ambush. As Coburn
flies by, he spots the enemy just as it unleashes missiles and Coburn decides
to attempt a Dodge. He rolls his Starship Pilot of 4D and adds the
Wraith’s Manueverability of 2D, getting a total of 20. The Protoss
attacker needs at least a 20 to hit Coburn’s ship.
A pilot may start the round intending to perform evasive manuevers.
He can take no other actions that round (this acts as a Full Dodge does
in personal combat). The total of the pilot’s Starship Piloting check
is added to the Base Difficulty for the attacker.
Example: Three more Protoss Scouts show up
and Coburn decides to spend his next round doing nothing but evasive manuevers.
He rolls his 6D again, this time getting a total of 22. The Scout
are at Close Range for their missiles, so they only needed a 10 to hit
Coburn before his manuevers. Now they will need 32 (Base Difficulty
10 + Coburn’s 22) to hit!
Starships have Body Points just as individual characters have Hit Points.
Each time the ship takes damage, its armor and performance will also decline.
The Damage Level of a Ship is estimated by a percentage decrease in Body
A Few Scrapes and Burns (0-10%): Most ships can endure
about a 10% reduction in Body Points before suffer debilitating effects.
Each time a ship takes damage within this 10%, the pilot loses the ship’s
Manueveribility Dice and is also -2D to additional actions that round (time
is spent controlling the ship) and the next round. Manueveribility
Dice are regained in the second round. Other ship systems remain
Lightly Damaged (11-25%): In this range, the ship has lost
some of its outer plating, engines are beginning to heat up, a few sparks
might fly. When a ship takes damage in this range, the crew lose
the benefits of the Manueveribilty Rating for 2 rounds, cannot act that
round (controls short out) and suffers a -1D to all operations checks until
the damage is repaired. Manueveribility Dice return the next round.
Each time a ship takes damage in this category, roll on the table below:
Heavily Damaged (26-50%): Now you’ve got to start worrying.
The ship is venting plasma, you’ve lost your comm antenna and you can’t
find the off switch for that annoying buzzing alarm. The Manueveribility
Dice are lost for 3 rounds. The crew also suffers -2D to ship’s operations
attempts until the damage is repaired. The second time a ship takes
damage in this range, roll below for additional damage:
1 Thruster Misfire: Ship loses -1D to Manueveribility until
repairs are made. If Manueveribility already equals 0D, its Space
Movement rating is reduced by 1
2 One on-board weapons system was hit and has taken damage.
All Fire Control Dice are lost. If the system is hit again, it will
be unavailable until repaired (Moderate Weapons Tech roll).
3 Power Surge: the Sensors and Communications are temporarily
blown out. It will take Moderate Sensors and Communications
rolls to get the systems back online. If another Power Surge occurs
before the systems are brought back online, increase the Difficulty for
both attempts by 5.
4 Hyperdrive Damage: each time the drive is so damaged, it
adds +10 to Astrogation attempts until repaired (this is a cumulative effect).
If the ship lacks a Hyperdrive, reroll.
5 Shield / Armor Buckling: If the ship has operating Shields,
they buckle and go down (but will begin recharging immediately).
If the ship only has Armor, it loses an additional D6 points.
6 Sublight Engine Damage: Ship has its Space rating reduced
Severely Damage (51-75%): Multiple hull breaches, loss of
sensors and communications, life support is failing, thrust control is
sporadic....and that’s the good news. Where’s that escape pod again?
The Manueveribility Dice are lost for good (until the ship is repaired)
and the crew suffers a -3D to all operations attempts. The second
time a ship takes damage in this range, roll for additional damage below:
1 Thruster Damage: Ship loses 2D to Manueveribility.
If the ship has 0D Manueveribility, reduce is Space rating by 2.
2 Weapons Destroyed: one of the ship’s weapons is destroyed.
On larger ships, all the weapons in a given arc go down.
3 Systems Overload: the sensors and communications arrays take heavy
damage. They blow out, causing 3D damage to their operators.
They will take 3D6 hours to fix with Moderate Starship Engineering or Difficulty
Sensors and Communications attempts. Shipboard communications are
4 Hyperdrive Damage: the hyperdrive has gone down and can
only be brought back online with an Easy Starship Engineering roll.
It will then require recalibration for about 1 hour. Until then,
+10 is added to all Astrogation rolls.
5 Defensive System Damage: If the ship has shields, their
generators are blown out and cannot be rebooted until a Moderate Starship
Engineering roll is successful. If the ship does not have Shields,
it suffers an additional 2D6 damage to its armor.
6 Sublight Engines Damage: the ship’s Space rating is reduced
1 Thrusters Offline: The ship loses any Manueveribility it
has left. The pilot suffers an additional -1D to all Piloting actions.
If the ship has 0D Manueveribility, reduce is Space rating by 3.
2 Weapons Backfire: one of the ship’s weapons is destroyed
and blows up. Starfighters and freighters take an additional 5D damage
internally (ignore armor). Capital ships suffer an additional 10D
damage internally (ignore armor).
3 Systems Blowback: the sensors and communications arrays
explode. Internally, this causes 5D damage to their operators and
5D damage to starfighters or 10D to capital ships). They must be
replaced, which will take 4D6 hours if parts are available. Shipboard
communications are also down.
4 Hyperdrive Redline: the hyperdrive has taken damage and
is venting coolant. It will overheat and be destroyed in 1D rounds
if not repaired (Moderate Starship Engineering attempt). Once shut
down, it will take 1D hours to bring back online. It will then require
recalibration for about 1 hour. Until then, +10 is added to all Astrogation
5 Defensive Systems Degraded: If the ship has shields, their
generators are blown out and cannot used until replaced. If the ship
does not have Shields, it suffers an additional 5D6 damage to its armor.
6 Sublight Engines Damage: the ship’s Space rating is reduced
Critically Damage (67-100%): Things are now very grim.
Say your goodbyes and just hope you manage to seal your vac-suit before
everything blows up. The ship has lost all Manueverability, Sensors
and Communications. The pilot is -3D to all piloting rolls as well.
Each time after the first the ship takes damage in this category, roll
on the table below:
Passengers may take damage during the course of combat. Electronics
may blow out, engines can spring coolant leaks that freeze, hulls can develop
micro-fissures to open space...a ship in combat is a dangerous place to
be. GM’s should use their discretion and assign damage when they
1 Dead in Space: all drives are destroyed. The ship
is adrift in space.
2 Overloaded engines: the ship’s engines is overloading.
Unless it’s completely shut down, it will blow up in 1D rounds and completely
destroy the ship. It will take 2D6 hours and a Moderate Starship
Engineering attempt to get them back online.
3 Hyperdrive is down: the hyperdrive engine has been overheated
and wrecked. It will have to be replaced before the ship can go to
4 Weapons down: all of the ship’s weapons lose power.
Roll D6 again: on 1-4, the weapons lose power but can be restored with
a Difficult (20) Starship Engineering roll; 5-6 the weapons “blow out”
and are useless until replaced.
5 Structural Damage: Hull breaches erupt all over the ship
and the ship begins to fall apart. The crew approximately 2D6 rounds
to evacuate before the ship is completely destroyed.
6 Destroyed: The ship explodes in a ball of flames.
Optional Rule: Player characters aboard the ship may prevent
the Destroyed result by each spending 1 Chi point (which will not be regained
at the adventure’s end). The ship will instead have Structural Damage
and the crew will have 2D6 rounds to evaculate.