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SW D6 Dogfights: Chase-Catch-Kill

Started by contracycle, September 15, 2007, 04:59:01 PM

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SW D6 Dogfights: Chase-Catch-Kill

This is a system designed to resolve small group dogfights in the original D6 version of the Star Wars RPG.  I have never liked the existing system, indeed, have yet to find any system for resolving vehicular combat that was not excruciatingly slow and dis-engaging.  Breaking out the hex-grids is just not an option IMO - it's too distanced from the character experience, and from the usual modes of play.  And yet almost all vehicle combat systems in RPG work like this, all tokens and facing angles.  However "realistic" these may or may not be, I have never found them fun.  It is all antiseptic and remote, not at all like the movies or like playing a simulator.  I have borrowed a lot from computer gaming experiences for this, not least because of most of them are a lot like Star Wars anyway, that is, roughly like the Battle of Britain in space.  One of the aspects that I think is poorly represented in map systems is relative speeds; it usually just determines an anodyne modifier and seldom makes any difference to whether you can be attacked or anything; there is no sense of speed.  I have tried to address this by requiring that attackers make successful comparative speed tests before they get to make an attack; this should help prevent Tie interceptors and A-wings getting totally chopped up, as they used to.  I have also always thought that representing speed as a die code was an interesting idea but they never did anything in particular with it, and eventually ditched it.  This I think is a way it could have been utilized.

This is a rewrite of what is in essence the action ordering system in D6 in order to resolve dogfight combats faster and more intuitively.  I have not altered the standard die-reading conventions or diced resolution system as such, just the "when" and the "if" of making an attack.

I've borrowed a bit of conflict resolution, a bit of FITM, and am proposing a "literalist" view of action description.  Conflict resolution arises because tasks have to be made in a chain before an effect is reached, FITM is employed to abstract maneuvering, and the literalist description takes every play statement straight into the SIS.  That is, every roll of the dice is a description of an action in the SIS, and corresponds directly to a camera shot as it would appear on screen.  Ships that are not busy right now, which are not on screen, are still engaged but their status does not change.  Thus game time and real time are 1:1.

This can't handle scaling yet, and so is restricted to what would be Starfighter scale vehicles in the original rules. But with those caveats:

Basic Outline:
X fighters on Red side and Y fighters on Blue side.  Each fighter will roll Initiative at the beginning of a turn, and then all fighters make an attack in order from highest to lowest.  Each attack requires a number of rolls be made succesfully in sequence.  However the overall effect, if achieved, is more decisive than in the original system.  Once all (surviving ) fighters have attacked the turn ends.

Every fighter rolls Sensors + Scan and they act in order from highest to lowest.  Ties are diced again and resolved before play continues to subsequent phases.

When a fighter moves, it nominates a Target.  It then makes a sequence of tests to see if it can effectively attack that target.  The four steps in sequence are Chase, Catch and Kill and finally Damage.  Subsequent steps are only rolled if prior steps succeed.  If any step fails, the sequence aborts and the attackers action comes to an end.

Opposed roll of Piloting + Speed.  If the attacker wins, they make make a Catch roll.  The attacking player then narrates the attack.  If the defender wins, the attack fails and aborts; the defending player narrates the ecape.  Note: this uses original SW D6 rules using die codes for speed, not subsequent versions which had an integer.

Opposed roll of Piloting + Maneuver.  If the attacker wins, they make make a Kill roll; the attacking player narrates the firing run.  If the defender wins, the attack fails and aborts; the defending player narrates the evasion.

Normal attack roll of Gunnery + Fire Control versus Piloting (or Vehicle Dodge) + Maneuver.  If the attack succeeds, the attacker may roll for Damage. If the defender wins, the attack fails and aborts and the defending player narrates the dodge.

This is a normal attack roll of weapon Damage versus Hull.  If the attacker wins, the target is Destroyed and the attacker narrates the attack.  If the defender wins, the target is Damaged and the attacker narrates the attack.

Once the Chase-Catch-Kill sequence is completed, either by coming to an abort or by resolving damage, the next fighter in sequence may make an attack of its own.

Terrain and Interruptions:
There are a number of special considerations which need to be taken into account and which may INTERRUPT the sequence above.  If an interrupt allows an attack by a turret or similar, the turret in effect starts a new sequence which must be  resolved before returning to the original sequence.

- Terrain: If the terrain is hazardous, the GM may nominate a Hazard Threshold.  During the Chase and Catch phases, any roll which totals less than the Hazard Threshold results in the ship colliding with a terrain hazard.

- Missiles: Missile attacks interrupt the phase sequence and are made immediately after a successful CHASE roll.  A successful chase is considered sufficient to achieve a missile lock.  The attacker immediately makes a Kill, and if successful, a DAMAGE roll.  Once these are resolved, the sequence aborts if the target was destroyed, or resumes at the CATCH phase if the target survived.

- Turrets: Turrets may fire in defence of an attacked ship and do so by interrupting the phase sequence. Turrets fire on the attacking ship immediately after a successful CATCH roll by the attacker, and before the attacker makes their KILL roll.  The attack is a KILL roll using the turrets attack values; if it succeeds it makes a DAMAGE roll.  If a ship has more than one turret, all turrets have the option of firing on any attacker. Each turret may fire only once per TURN.  Keep track of how many turrets have fired in one turn. The defender must announce how many turrets will engage the attacker before they are diced.

- Mines: Ships with mines may interrupt the phase sequence after a successful CHASE roll by an attacker by announcing that they are dropping mines.  Mines essentially work like turrets.  The number of mines to be dropped must be announced before they are diced.

- Winger: A fighter can choose not to make an Initiative roll of its own, and instead to act as a Winger.  A Winger does not initiate attacks, but instead acts as a single turret on the vessel it is supporting.  Wingers do not need to roll CHASE or CATCH against a hostile that has succeeded in those rolls against the ship the winger is defending; they only make KILL and DAMAGE rolls, just like a turret.

- Shields: If a ship has Shields, it can interrupt the phase sequence by announcing that they are angling deflectors immediately after a KILL attempt succeeds.  The defending ship makes an Easy Shields roll; if successful its Shield dice are added to its Hull roll during the DAMAGE phase.  For each subsequent Shield action in a turn, raise the difficulty of the roll one level.


Thus the full phase sequence looks like this:


1) Chase
   - Missiles
2) Catch
   - Turrets, Mines, Wingers
3) Kill
   - Shields
4) Damage


So, the way it works out is each player makes a number of rolls, usually describing each one if they win, and dropping out of the action temporarily if they fail.  This means that every roll is meaningful, and there are no rolls made for the sake of completeness.  There are no multiple action penalties because each roll is a moment in the SIS in its own right; everything happens exactly as and when it is described to have happen by whoever is narrating.  If someone makes four shield rolls, then the camera cuts to them four times.

I have diced a few games out and it seems to work well.  Tie fighters tend to survive by outrunning X-wings; X-wings tend to survive by out maneuvering Tie fighters.  The balance is pretty much as it was intended in the existing materials.  Ships with turrets are quite dangerous to attack, giving the ol' stock freighter a bit of survivability.

I have some niggles regarding fighter pilots multiple shield actions, and I wonder if missiles will be a bit harsh, but I hope to give it a proper test fairly soon.

Any comments appreciated.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci


If you go bust in a sequence do you have to start over in your next sequence?  Seems to me that against relatively equal opponents, no one will ever get shot down as you have to win 4 rolls in a row which should mathematically be pretty hard against equal opponents.  I haven't played d6 in years so maybe you've weighted the rolls in favor of the attacker?

What if losing a roll merely delayed the sequence until the attackers next initiative.  Once I've chased a target, I never have to chase them again.  Once I've caught them I never have to catch them again.  "Stay on Target..."  If I fail a Kill roll it means I missed, but on my next turn I can go straight to Kill again without having to Chase or Catch.

That way once I'm on somebody that tight, its just a matter of time before I shoot them down "He's on my tail, I can't shake him".  So some other enemy is going to have Chase Catch and Kill me to save him.  But if I roll to defend against someone Killing me, I have to give up my position on my target.  That would give the swoop-in-and-rescue feel.  Can they Catch Chase and try to Kill me before I can get a clear Kill on my target.  Similarly if one of my buddies is being tailed, do I give up my Kill position on my target to go save him...


Yes maybe, that looks like a good idea.  It would also solve a bit of a niggle, which was about what freighter pilots roll for if they have no guns to fire. I was originally trying to keep away from status changes that persisted from turn to turn, but maybe they are necessary.  It's also going to raise the lethality I think, which isn't necessarily a good idea if I want to put PC's in these ships.  Part of the idea here was that making more rolls favours the higher skilled, which is usually the PC's.  The way it works at the moment, you would realise that you had Vader on your tail by the fact that he succeeds so often.  Every turn the GM narrates his relentless pursuit, twice.  I will have a think about it.

You only REALLY have to win 3 of the phases, you can afford to lose the Damage roll because you would still inflict damage even if it failed.  I have not worked out damage mechanics yet but canonically the Millennium Falcon can only sustain 3 or 4 hits, shields and all, so its going to be serious.

I remember D6 being fairly static too, hard to achieve a decisive result without significant skill differentials.  However IMO that was because of the fact that you had to exceed the target number by certain amounts.  You need +16 on damage to kill outright, which is more than half of the maximum roll of 5D.  It was all very A-team, lots of incapacitation and very few fatalities.  So by making directly opposed rolls instead of margin-based rolls things move a bit quicker, but requiring multiple rolls in sequence buffers against bad luck.  Even if Vader rolls a fistful of 1's, he will probably save himself on the roll for the next step. 

I don't mind that it is a bit indecisive in the case of equally matched opponents.  This is partly because they would have to be equally matched in at least two and maybe three aspects, speed and maneuver certainly and maybe attack, for it to become problematic.  Secondly the source material is already biased towards the good guys, and PC's usually have higher skills than NPC's, so balanced encounters only arise from the special leetness of leet villains.  Using the handy average crew skill values, an X-wing rolls 9D for speed and a TIE rolls 9D+1, but the X-wing has superiority of about 1D+1 in maneuver and 1d+2 in attack.  In this case the Chase phase will feel flaky but the Catch and Kill phases will favour the X-wings noticeably.  If we then introduced a veteran flight of TIE's with about +2D in appropriate skills, the X-wings will feel outmatched in Chase and about even in Catch and Kill.

This again is one of the reasons I am wary of short-cutting the phase sequence; it would effectively remove the influence of speed from the decision.  At the moment each phase of the sequence is used to represent an aspect of the vehicles effectiveness.  But thats not necessarily terrible, and there might be other ways to represent pursuing a particular target across more than one turn.

Anyway thanks for the suggestions you have given me some more to think about.  Any other thoughts welcome.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci


Hmm, the presumption that once you have caught someone you should retain that status appears strong and recurrent, too intuitive to resist.  It may be something you can get used to but I shall have to think about it again.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci