Starship Combat

In starship combat, each starship is treated as its own character, using its System Ratings as skills. Unless otherwise specified, all System Rating rolls are enhanced by the associated skills of its staff.

Starship Combat Cheat Sheet

Detection: Contested Augury check to place ships on board.
Maneuver: Declare Maneuver: Change Heading, Present Broadside (-1 Engine each).
Positioning: Contested Engine check. Highest gets to move 1 ship.
Command: One action: boarding action, advantages through augury, psychic action
Opening Tactics: Fire a weapon, Aim, or Maneuver (Maneuver check vs own Engine rating)
Followup Tactics: Fire another weapon at -1.
Damage Control: Repair one stress track. Target number = highest marked stress box. Clear stress boxes up to shifts.

Aspects and Fate Point Usage

Starships operate on a scale immensely beyond that of individual characters. Only through making starship Rating checks can aspects be created on other starships. Typically, the crew and staff of one starship cannot directly affect those on another starship.

Fate Points may be used according to the normal scope rules. Only one aspect may be invoked to give a +2 bonus to a particular System Rating roll (this includes free tags and boosts), but there is no limit to aspects invoked for rerolls.

Strategic Compels

In each phase, a ship with an appropriate Aspect may be compelled to fail to act. This typically results in a failed check or general inaction. For example, a starship with the Aspect “Unreliable macrocannon crews” may be compelled to prevent them from firing.

A compel may be refused by spending a Fate Point from the captain, or a character crewing an affected System.

Power Expenditure

The Power stress track may be exerted to boost performance of various systems. Generally, you may draw X points of power from the Power track by taking X points of Strikethrough Damage to it.

The Strategic Chart

Positioning in starship combat is abstractly represented in Fate 40k, using the system presented in Diapsora . Combat occurs on the strategic chart represented below, with each line representing a zone, with movement between zones requiring an amount of shifts from a positioning roll. Distances on the chart represent not only physical distances in space, but also differences in relative and angular velocities. Successful movement off the edge of the chart on either end means a ship has escaped from combat.

During combat, each ship occupies a zone on the chart and also has a particular orientation. Orientation is important only in determining fire arcs for ships, and does not restrict movement.

The Strategic Round

Even the smallest starships are slow, lumbering giants drifting through the void, and starship battles are slow, majestic dances of positioning and firepower. Starship combat operates in strategic rounds, during which entire ground firefights can erupt, playout, and conclude. As a rule of thumb, an entire planetside scene can proceed during a strategic round. If an exact measure of time must be taken, each round is approximated on the order of about 30 Imperial minutes.

0. Detection Phase

Combat begins with the detection phase, which governs the initial positioning of the various vessel. Each ship makes an Augury check, with ties broken by the associated skill of the Augur operator. Each ship captain takes turns placing one vessel anywhere on the strategic chart, in any orientation. The captain with the highest check places two ships instead of one, and the captain with the lowest check places no ships at all.

Combat then proceeds through Phases 1 through 6, which constitutes the strategic round. Repeat the strategic round until combat is resolved.

Strategic Compel: A ship may be compelled to fail its detection check, which means it acts after every ship not compelled in this manner.

Power cannot be used in this phase

1. Maneuvering Phase

During the maneuvering phase, ships will commit to a complex set of maneuvers that change the orientation of the ship. A ship’s orientation is represented by two components: its heading, and whether it is preparing for a broadside. Indicate the former by physically pointing the ship in one direction. If the ship is conducting a broadside maneuver, angle it 45 degrees off the axis.

Changing a ship’s heading imposes a -1 penalty to Engine for the upcoming Positioning Phase. Maintaining its course is free. The heading determines which targets can be hit by the vessel’s prow and stern weapons.

Presenting a ship’s broadside imposes a -1 penalty to Engine and allows the ship to hit any target with its broadside weapons. A ship that is not presenting its broadside cannot fire broadside weapons this round.

Strategic Compel: A ship may be compelled to prevent it from maneuvering in this phase: it cannot change its heading or present broadside.

Power cannot be used in this phase.

2. Positioning Phase

The positioning phase represent the slow dance of capitol ships as the jockey for tactical position. Each ship makes a positioning roll, which is an Engine check including modifiers from the Maneuvering Phase. Only the ship that gets the highest positioning score on the positioning roll is in a position to influence the battlefield; we refer to this as gaining the Weather Gauge. Ships with tied scores are excluded from consideration, meaning that a vessel with a lower score may gain the Weather Gauge. It is possible that no ship gains the Weather Gauge during a turn, in which case no repositioning occurs.

The ship that has the Weather Gauge may then perform one of the follow actions:

  • Move their own vessel an amount equal to the number of shifts they got over the next highest score. If they are the lowest, treat the result as 2.
  • Move a target vessel an amount equal to the number of shifts they got over the target vessel.

In either case, no token should be moved an amount more than the Weather Gauge vessel’s Speed. A vessel’s Speed is its Engine Rating, modified by its maneuvers, and reduced to a minimum of 1.

Strategic Compel: A ship may be compelled during this phase to prevent it from gaining the Weather Gauge.

Power may be used to increase either a ship’s Speed or its positioning check, or both. However, power is expended separately.

3. Command Phase

As ships commit to their maneuvers, there is a short window of opportunity for each captain to assess and react to the changing battlefield. Each ship may use one of its systems to attempt to create an advantage on a target vessel, or internally in defense. The typical action is to create an advantage using an Augury check (against the target’s Machine Spirit), or use Operations to ready vent and seal internal compartments to befuddle boarders.

The following options are also available as the Command Phase action:

  • Perform a deep Augur scan of a target. This is an Augury check opposed by the target’s Machine Spirit, succeeding with style reveals the ratings and components installed on the target vessel.
  • Perform a Psy check to assist the ship in some way. If a Choir Chamber is installed, this may target another vessel that is within range.

Strategic Compel: A ship may be compelled to prevent it from using a particular skill or Rating during the phase.
Power may be used to boost any System Rating rolls.

4. Opening Tactics Phase

Each ship may fire at one target within the fire arcs of its weapons. A ship that does not take any action during this phase is assumed to be spending its time aiming, granting a +2 bonus to an attack during Followup Tactics Phase.

Alternatively, a ship may use its action to attempt a maneuver from the Maneuvering Phase (changing heading or presenting broadside). To do this, it must succeed at a Maneuver check against a difficulty equal to its (unenhanced) Engine rating.

Strategic Compel: A ship may be compelled to prevent it from firing a particular weapon during this phase and in the next phase.
Power may be used to boost any System Rating rolls.

5. Followup Tactics Phase

Each ship may fire at one target within the fire arcs of its weapons, at a penalty of -1 (or at a net total of +1 if it aimed during the Opening Tactics Phase). A weapon that has fired already cannot be fired again in this phase.

Strategic Compel: A ship may be compelled to prevent it from firing a particular weapon.
Power may be used to boost any System Rating rolls.

6. Damage Control

Each ship may make a damage control check with an associated skill, which attempts to clear stress boxes from the Void Shields (Logis ), Power (Tech ) or Crew (Medicae or various social skills) tracks. Each ship gets only one damage control check, and must pick which track it is attempting to repair. The difficulty of this check is equal to the highest marked stress box. The number of shifts you generate on this roll determines which stress box is cleared; all stress boxes lower than this one as well.

Strategic Compel: A ship may be compelled to prevent it from attempting repairs on one particular track.
Power may only be used to boost rolls to restore Void Shields.

NPC Crewmen

Any System not operated by a player character is assumed to be staffed by an NPC Crewman with a default skill equal to the System Rating. The NPC crewman does not have Fate Points, nor Aspects that can be tagged. For the purpose of these rolls, only the ship’s captain’s Fate Points may be used, tagging Aspects according to the scoping rules.

Shipboard Actions

Each player character that does not make a roll during the standard strategic turn may take shipboard actions instead, which generally involve creating advantages and placing Aspects within the ship and for her crew.

See also:

Starship Combat

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