Campaign of the Month: December 2013
Fate: Warhammer 40,000
Starships are the lifeblood of the Imperium, diving through the terrifying realm of the Warp to ferry vital supplies, luxury products and vast war materiel between her innumerable worlds. Starships are immense constructs. Even the smallest vessels, cargo skimmers and military destroyers, are over a kilometer in length, and have a crew of over 10,000 souls. Each starship is a self-contained city of its own, with its own community and culture that comes from braving the perils of Warp travel on a regular basis.
Starships in Fate 40k are treated as their own characters, with their own Aspects, Stress Tracks, and Weapons. Starships have two types of stunts: Hull Stunts that are intrinsic to their design, and Components representing sections of the ship devoted to special purposes. Ships may also benefit from Crew Stunts which represent specialist staff; these are typically associated with a player character.
Starships also have Systems Ratings in lieu of Skills representing the quality of various systems onboard the ship. Each system must be staffed by a crew member, using an associated skill. If the crew member is a player character, the rating is enhanced by the associated skill: if the associated skill is higher than the System Rating, increase the Rating by 1.
Associated Skills: Logis or Perception
A ship’s augur array is its eyes, and its primary method for perceiving the outside world. The ship’s Master of Etherics is responsible for operating the augur array to detect interesting anomalies, profitable resources and any myriad of dangers lurking in the shadows.
Augury is used in a detection test that determines the initial positions of ships in naval combat. It is also used during a battle to reveal and target internal systems, and to attain target lock for torpedoes. An Augury check is typically opposed by a Machine Spirit check.
Explorator vessels have high Augury ratings to investigate anomalies and detect resource caches. Light transports and small raiders also compete in an Augury arms race, so as to better detect each other for favorable tactical positions.
Associated Skills: Machine Handling or Tech
The engine is a starship’s throbbing heart, and the means by which it travels through void space. Naval battles are ultimately a battle of positioning, and it is the starship’s engines that are tested in these battles.
Engine contributes to naval battles in two ways. A starship’s Speed represents the maximum amount of distance she can travel in one round. Speed is not enhanced by a skill, but can be increased by successful Tech roll (against the Engine rating). A starship’s positioning check is an Engine check enhanced by the helmsman’s Machine Handling. The positioning check determines which ship is best able to adjust the tactical landscape of battle.
Despite the larger void engines mounted on heavier vessels, the Engine rating typically is inversely proportional to a vessel’s size.
Associated Skill: Logis
The complex network of cogitators and machine systems onboard a starship is only manageable through the installation of an integrated and rudimentary machine intelligence. Through repeated interaction with its human crew, or as a result of more advanced technologies than strictly permitted, a ship’s machine spirit may develop its own quirks and personalities. A machine spirit never achieves true sentience or shows genuine innovation or initiative; instead it must be coaxed and directed by a skilled Tech-Priest.
The formidable will of the machine spirit is frequently enough to deter unwelcome advances made against the ship. Machine Spirit may be rolled automatically to defend against Augury checks. During battle, with the guidance of a Tech-Priest, Machine Spirit may be used to overpower the weaker will of lesser automata such as torpedoes and light crafts.
Advanced warships and vessels favored by the Adeptus Mechanicus typically have higher Machine Spirit ratings. Be warned however, that those same machine spirits invariably develop unsettling quirks.
Associated Skill: Machine Handling
Starships are immense constructions, kilometers long. As a result, rogue traders frequently find themselves taking their vessels through spaces too cramped for their liking. Maneuverability accounts for the “handling” of the starship, and its ability to navigate difficult and dangerous void courses. Maneuverability is also used to defend against certain attacks such as lances and ramming maneuvers.
Lighter starships such as raiders and frigates typically have high Maneuverability.
Associated Skills: Tech, Commerce and various others
In the right hands, a starship can be an invaluable resource in any endeavor, beyond its martial prowess and utility as conveyance. Operations is the physical counterpart to the Machine Spirit skill. It represents the resources and equipment at the captain’s disposal, the versatility of the ship’s machinery and crew, and the speed and efficacy by which the ship can leverage those resources.
Operations can be used to create helpful aspects when supporting planetside operations, using it fabricatorum for building structures and shelter or linking its generatorum to that of an ailing void facility. Operations is also used to determine the efficacy of trade and commerce operations. Its applications in stellar combat is limited, however, and primarily confined to supporting shipboard defenses against boarding, and aiding other components of the starship.
Special: Operations can never be used for Attack or Defense actions.
Merchant and explorator vessels typically have the highest Operations rating, while small specialized military vessels have the lowest.
Associated Skill: Logis
Void shields are defensive barriers projected by sacred and archaic generators designed to absorb and dissipate sources of high energy. While properly maintained, the field protects the ship against most forms of weapons fire, be they physical or energy in nature. However, the nature of void shields is such that they offer little resistant to slower moving targets, such as torpedoes or assault craft.
Associated Skill: Tech
A skillful enginseer can redirect excess power produced by a ship’s reactor into other systems, to coax more effect from them during times of need.
During a starship battle, power can be siphoned off (by marking off stress boxes along the Power track) to boost the results of Ratings checks.
Associated Skills: Medicae, Presence, Rapport
The Crew track is an abstract record of the population and morale of the ship’s crew.
During warp travel, ships submerge themselves into the immaterium, the realm of daemons and madness. The Gellar Field is the sole barrier that keeps the nightmares of the warp from manifesting within the confines of the ship and devouring the souls of its crew whole sale. The Gellar Field is considered to be part of the Void Shield system, and at least one stress box remains unfilled, it continues to function at full efficiency. During battle, the presence of the Gellar Field also blocks psionic attacks and teleportation, amongst other things.
Weapons: 1 broadside, 1 stern
Hull Stunt: Cargo Holds
Unused components can be quickly and easily converted to Cargo Holds. Each filled Cargo Hold adds +1 bonus to Operations when determining profits from a mission. Cargo Holds can also be converted to specialized storage units on short notice.
Favored by pirates raiders are light, fast vessels designed for hit-and-run combat. Their speed also makes them ideal for closing in or pursuing targets.
Weapons: 2 prow
Hull Stunt: Thrust Vectoring
Spend 2 Power at the end of the Positioning phase to adjust your orientation or present broadside.
Frigate are maneuverable gunships originally designed for escorting high value assets. Their firepower makes them dangerous when hunting for larger ships in “wolf packs”. Frigates also frequently see service in budget planetary defense or armed reconnaissance forces.
Weapons: Prow, Dorsal
Hull Stunt: Hard Burn
Adds +1 benefit to Speed if you used at least 1 Power to boost its Engine performance during the Positioning phase.