Quick Ship Combat

Posted: 14 January 2017 in Rules

For Savage Worlds…

Ship combat is a major feature of many SF RPGs, and when I convert those to Savage Worlds, it’s one feature that doesn’t convert well. It’s also not a major part of my games, because my groups don’t enjoy it any more than they enjoy interstellar trade.

Historically I’ve addressed this by either not having space combat in my games, or by writing clunky, complex rules interfaces. But now there is a better way; the Savage Worlds Quick Combat rules.

All you need to know about the two opposing ships to use them is this: Is one side outclassed, or even massively outclassed? Follow the link and read the rules, you’ll see.

The only tweak I’d make is that the PC’s ship takes a Wound every time one of the PCs does, meaning that the ship ablates away faster than the characters, as is proper for a pulp story.

If there are more than one or two ships per side, you should really be using the Mass Battle rules anyway.

Have I missed anything, or is it really that simple?

  1. Daveb says:

    Nice find there. How many wounds do ships typically have?

    • andyslack says:

      Same as any vehicle, or indeed character – three. See Savage Worlds Deluxe Explorer’s Edition p. 116. Actually, it looks like those rules already allow for what I was trying to achieve within the Critical Hit table on p. 117, so I should use those as written instead. That’s what happens when I don’t check the rulebook before posting. 🙂

      • Daveb says:

        I was thinking that you’d end up with an undesired effect: the more PC’s involved on a single ship, the more likely it is to go poof. Maybe damage the ship at the maximum damage of the worst performing PC in a round?

      • andyslack says:

        Good point – hadn’t thought of that. How the Rules As Written deal with it is that attacks target the ship, and each wound the ship sufffers has a chance of injuring a PC. That is probably what I will adopt.

  2. steelbrok says:

    I still like the idea of Quick combat and each PC wound causes a ship wound. It’s logical – the damage has to do something to the ship in order to hurt a PC therefore a hurt PC means a damaged ship. Quick combat puts the emphasis on the PCs rather than ship systems and extras.

    Daveb brings up a good point that a larger group of PCs means the ship is more likely to b damaged.

    How about this?

    Each raise rolled by a PC removes one of the wounds suffered by the ship.

  3. […] week, I posted about using Savage Worlds’ Quick Combat for dogfights between starships. Let’s run an […]

  4. Charles F. Blakely says:

    This brings to mind a Classic Traveller adventure I played in where our ship was shot out from under us and we had to survive in space until someone came to rescue us. You have read The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, haven’t you? Well that’s what we did as players. We holed up in one airtight room, making a weekly run for ice, O2 tanks, and food from the wreck of our ship, then back to the airtight room and repressurizing it, repeating this each week until we were rescued. Had the referee and the players not read the book, the ref would have just killed all of us! There are all sorts of ways of enlivening the starship adventures from film and books.

    • andyslack says:

      I have indeed read The Stars My Destination, one of Bester’s better works I think; he is unjustly forgotten these days. Similar thing happened to my PCs in the late 1970s, but they had a large stock of Fast Drug in the sick bay, so they took the easy way out. Although as they weren’t sure how long they had to make it last, the captain tried to hide a lot of it for his own use, which led to a protracted vendetta between him and one of the other PCs.

      • Charles F. Blakely says:

        Fast Drug is definitely an option if you have a stock of it, can get to it after your ship’s structure is destroyed, and trust the last person taking the dose. Nothing like selfishness in the Captain to bring out mutinous thoughts in the crew! Similarly, one group salvaged a starship and one player hot-footed it to the claims department ahead of the rest of them and cut them out of the deal. They promptly set him up for murder. That game got way out of hand.

        I agree that The Stars My Destination is one of Bester’s best. I also would add The Demolished Man to that list.

      • andyslack says:

        Yeah, The Demolished Man would be my other pick too.

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