Challenges, Contests, and Conflicts
The pilot of a star freighter tries to outrun a squadron of enemy fighters. The droid tries to slice into the computer system before the guards arrive. The Wookiee tries to bluster his way past the bouncer. The Jedi tries to deflect the bounty hunter’s blaster bolt with her lightsaber. All of these actions use similar game mechanics.
- Social Encounters
- These can be represented purely through roleplaying whenever that’s fun. If there is a significant social encounter in which one or more characters are trying to “win,” and roleplaying isn’t going to resolve that, Fate has rules to resolve that via social challenges, contests, and conflicts.
- Battles between individuals are a staple of Stars Wars and will certainly come up in play. There might also be space battles or other combat situations. In learning to work with the Fate Core system, it’s important to note that the Create An Advantage action is often more important than the Attack action.
- We’re changing the initiative system for conflicts (using a system originally from Marvel Heroic Roleplaying). The group decides the first character to go, based on what makes sense as the scene starts. For example, in conflict that begins with a chase, the quarry might go first because pursuers must react to them. The first character picks the next to go. That character picks the next. And so on. The last character to go in a round picks the first to go in the next round. A player (or the GM on behalf of an NPC) can offer a compel to interrupt the sequence and act immediately at the cost of a fate point; as with any other compel, it can be refused by paying a fate point. Such an interrupt can happen only before a character’s action has been announced.
- When it makes sense, chases will be adjudicated as described in the Fate System Toolkit.
- Mass Combat
- There might be large battles in space or on a planet (there certainly are in each of the Star Wars movies). Generally, these will happen in the background as we zoom in on the PCs.
- If you win a round, you get one victory point. If you succeed with style, you can choose between gaining two victory points or gaining one victory point and a boost.
- If your opponent wins a round, you can choose to reduce his victory point gain for that round by one level if you take a mild consequence or by two levels if you take a moderate or severe consequence.
- Any equipment stunt that the GM considers applicable is a situation aspect with a free invocation.
- Victory is obtained after scoring three victory points. The opponent is then Taken Out.
We will use a slightly modified version of boosts, described in this article: How Fate Boosts Should Work.
Star Wars is full of thrilling space battles, speeder chases, and other action involving vehicles, so we need some systems for simulating that. The basic vehicle creation rules are on the Vehicles page. The rules for vehicle action are presented below.
Jumping to Lightspeed: One common form of vehicle chase is when a spacecraft is attempting to jump to lightspeed while one or more other craft are attempting to damage it or otherwise prevent the jump. Making the calculations for the jump is treated as a Challenge which occurs concurrently with the chase or conflict. After three exchanges, if the navigation roll is successful and the ship is still capable of lightspeed, it can exit the scene into hyperspace.
The GM will sketch out a zone map for the battle area, such as the example given below for a space combat.
Each turn, characters take their turns as in regular combat. Vehicles move when their pilots get their turns, they shoot when their gunners get their turns, and so on.
Characters operating vehicle equipment can take actions using their skills that directly affect vehicle combat. These include:
- Command: Use Rapport to create aspects or boosts that can be passed to other crew members.
- Movement: Use Pilot skill to move the vehicle to a different zone. Make an Overcome roll to move an extra zone.
- Maneuver: Use Pilot skill to make Create Advantage rolls to establish helpful positional aspects relative to other vehicles.
- Sensors: use Notice or Investigate to detect or analyze enemy ships or other objects.
- Weapons: A character at one of the vehicle’s weapons stations may use Shoot skill to attack other vehicles. In other circumstances, such as in an open speeder, a character might use her personal weapon to make attacks.
- Repair: Use Engineering to create advantages related to optimized ship performance, such as running engines over their rated maximum output or angling the deflector shields. If the vehicle takes a consequence, make an Overcome action using Engineering skill to ignore it for the remainder of the scene, with a base difficulty equal to the number of shifts absorbed by that consequence.
- Communications: Use Provoke, Rapport, or other social skills in interactions with crew members of other vessels. Use Security (with appropriate stunts) to affect enemy computer systems or jam enemy communications.
Stress and consequences: Vehicles have a number of stress boxes equal to their Size rating. An unnamed vehicle with unimportant NPCs is taken out as soon as it can absorb no more stress. A named vehicle, or one crewed by PCs or named NPCs, can also take Minor, Moderate, and Severe consequences.
Space and Atmospheric Combat
Here are the standard parameters for space combat. These rules assume craft designed for action and combat; a space tug won’t be able to perform according to these standards. Stunts allow modifiers and exceptions to these rules.
Spacecraft movement: The pilot of a spacecraft in combat can elect to move 0 or 1 zones per turn without penalty. Note that moving 0 zones doesn’t indicate no movement; it could represent high speed evasive maneuvers, for example, within one zone. An Overcome action using Pilot skill can be made to move an extra zone in a turn, with a base difficulty equal to the vehicle’s Size rating.
Atmospheric movement: A battle in atmosphere occurs at a much smaller scale than space combat. The zone map could by a simple 10 x 10 grid representing open sky, or it could include terrain such as clouds, mountaintops, flak barrages, or sky cities. Small vehicles can move much faster in atmosphere than large vehicles, although it should again be noted that staying in the same zone does not imply no movement. Maximum speed (without making an Overcome roll) is 3 zones for vehicles size 1-2, 2 zones for vehicles size 3-4, and 1 zone for vehicles size 5+. These numbers could be modified by the GM for a particularly thin or dense atmosphere. An Overcome action using Pilot skill can be made to move an extra zone in a turn, with a base difficulty equal to the vehicle’s size rating.
Detection: The base range in zones for detection is the size of the detecting vehicle (larger vehicles are assumed to have stronger sensors) plus the size of the vessel being detected (larger vehicles can be detected at greater ranges). So a Size 1 vehicle will be able to begin using its sensors to attempt to detect a Size 4 vehicle at a range of 5 zones. Detection range is halved (round down) if either ship sets sensors to passive mode. Detection requires a skill roll using Notice (for simple detection of the presence of other ships) or Investigate (for more detailed information) vs. passive or active resistance.
Spacecraft weapon range: Star Wars space combat invariably happens at pretty close range on a map scale that can represent a planet and its atmosphere as just a few zones. Spacecraft equipped for combat have a maximum range based on their Size rating (larger vehicles carry bigger weapons with greater range capacity). This range is equal to (Size rating ÷ 2) -1. Round down, minimum zero. Thus, spacecraft Size 1-3 have a range of 0 zones, spacecraft Size 4-5 have a range of 1 zone, spacecraft Size 6-7 have a range of 2 zones, and spacecraft Size 8-9 have a range of 3 zones. There are no defense bonuses based on range, although terrain such as asteroid fields or planets can block fire or increase passive defense. If the zone scale is smaller, then ranges may be increased to reflect this.
Spacecraft attacks: Vehicles equipped for combat typically have a number of weapon stations equal to their Size (for larger vehicles many physical weapons may be represented by one weapon station). Each weapon station can be operated by a PC or named NPC to make an attack each turn. Weapon stations on larger craft operated by nameless NPCs will typically be grouped by the GM, so that each group makes one roll with a +1 to the attack for each extra weapon station. For example, a cruiser (Size 4) crewed by nameless NPCs would have four weapon stations, which might be arranged into two groups of two, so the ship makes two attack rolls per turn, each at +1.
Spacecraft defense: In general, vehicles of a given size find it easiest to engage in combat with vehicles of similar size. It’s hard to hit smaller vehicles and hard to do significant damage to larger vehicles. Large capital ships typically carry squadrons of fighters for dealing with small craft.
- Base defense value: Maneuverable vehicles up to Size 2 get an active resistance roll using Pilot. Vehicles of Size 3 and larger have a passive defense with a base value of 0.
- When the attacker is larger: When a larger vehicle fires at a smaller vehicle, the target gets a defense bonus equal to the difference in size. This bonus reflects the difficulty of using larger, heavier weapons to hit a small vehicle.
- When the attacker is smaller: When a smaller vehicle fires at a larger vehicle, the target gets a defense bonus equal to twice the difference in size. This bonus reflects the difficulty of using smaller, lighter weapons to damage a larger vehicle.
Example 1: The star destroyer Behemoth (Size 5) is in combat with a squadron of Size 1 starfighters. The Behemoth’s gunners have a skill rating of 2. They attack Zemara Fleck’s fighter. Fleck has a defense bonus of +4 for the size difference between the vessels and can defend actively with her Pilot skill of 2. A group of two weapons stations fires simultaneously at her ship, for a +1 teamwork bonus. Both sides roll 0, so Fleck’s defense of 2 (skill) + 4 (size difference) = 6 beats the Behemoth’s 2 (skill) + 1 (teamwork) = 3 by three shifts. The defense succeeds with style, so Fleck gets a boost. The captain of the star destroyer orders his fighter wing to launch and engage with Fleck’s squadron.
Example 2: Zemara Fleck teams up with five unnamed fighter pilots (all in Size 1 craft) to attack the star destroyer Behemoth (Size 5). Fleck has a Shoot skill of 3 with a +5 for teamwork from her wingmen. Behemoth has a passive defense of 0, with a +1 for it’s Deflector Shields stunt. However, because Behemoth is four size levels larger than the fighters, she gets a defense bonus of 4 × 2 = 8, for a total passive defense of 9. Fleck rolls a 1 for a total of 9 on her attack roll. This would be a tie, but she uses the boost she got from the success with style on the defense roll in Example 1 for an extra +2 and spends a fate point to invoke her ship’s Advanced Starfighter aspect for another +2 to make her total 13, beating the Behemoth’s defense by four shifts.
Dogfighting: A fighter (a maneuverable spacecraft or aircraft of Size 1) in the same zone as another fighter can Create Advantage to place an On Your Six or similar advantage on them. Once placed, this advantage prevents the tailed fighter from making an attack directly on the pursuer. Only one of any pair of fighters can have his advantage at a time; if the tailed fighter succeeds in a Create Advantage roll against the pursuer, the aspect is reversed (a tie removes it from both). Ending the turn in a different zone will also remove this advantage.
Vehicular ground combat occurs on an appropriate zone map with a scale that is generally larger than zone maps for characters who are on foot. Base movement rate is determined by vehicle type. A typical ground car can move 3 zones without penalty, an armored vehicle can move two zones, and a pedestrian can move 1 zone. An extra zone of movement is available upon a successful Pilot roll (or Athletics for pedestrians).
Combat could involve combinations of individual characters, ground vehicles, aircraft, and spacecraft. This gets complex, since a scale that’s appropriate for one kind of combat can be way too big or small for another kind of combat. The GM will make judgment calls in coordination with the players on what makes sense in this case.
Generally, an individual character will be unable to directly damage larger vehicles without appropriate equipment or creating an applicable aspect. On the other hand, very large vehicles may not be equipped to directly affect individual characters. The group will have to decide on what makes sense. In some cases large vehicles will act more as a location for a scene than as direct opposition. For example, a scene might be about entering an enemy battlecruiser, fighting past guards and security, and capturing its commander. That might happen at the same time the vehicle is under attack by other starships.
In a scene with characters on foot or slower moving ground vehicles combined with fast moving aircraft or speeders, the map may be set up with a set of central ground zones surrounded by several abstracted air zones. Aircraft move from one air zone to another, either directly (not affecting the ground scene that exchange) or passing in a straight line through any number of ground zones (taking actions as appropriate during movement) to reach another air zone.