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Starcraft
D6

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Basics

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Psionics

Actions &
Combat

Space Travel

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  Terrans
   Protoss
   Zerg

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VI.  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.

Introduction
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.
 



SUBLIGHT TRAVEL
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):

  • 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 next round.
  • 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 next round.
  • 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).
Acceleration:  Starships may increase or decrease their speed levels by 1 level per round.

Some general guidelines for sublight space speeds may be:

  • 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.
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.

HYPERSPACE TRAVEL
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 the journey.

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 sometimes questionable).

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.

Astrogation Mishaps
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).


USING SENSORS
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 greater detail.
    • 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 technology. 

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.

STARSHIP COMMUNICATIONS
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 when necessary.

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.

STARSHIP COMBAT
Combat between ships is handled much as it is between characters (see Actions & Combat).  Each round, whichever pilot has the highest Instincts wins iniative. 

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 check.

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!
Starship Damage
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 Points:

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 undamaged.

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:

  • 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 by 1.
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 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 also down.
  • 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 by 2.
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 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 rolls.
  • 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 by 3.


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:

  • 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 hyperspace again.
  • 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.
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 see fit.