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Commanding a Capital Ship in Combat
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:52 pm    Post subject: Commanding a Capital Ship in Combat Reply with quote

So, I've been playing around with the idea of more concrete rules for using the Command skill in combat situations. The short version is that the ship's captain will use his Command skill to enhance the effectiveness of his crew's skill rolls. Here are the rough guidelines that I am looking to fill out:

-Each ship has a base Command Difficulty which is equal to the ship's Hull dice when converted into pips. For example, an Imperial Star Destroyer with a Hull of 7D would have a Command Difficulty of 21, while an MC80 Cruiser with a Hull of 6D would have a Difficulty of 18.

-Some example modifiers to a ship's base difficulty would be:
    +5 if Captain is Untried (No Combat Experience)
    +5 if Captain has been in command of the ship for less than 1 month (negated if Captain has a successful combat victory within that month)
    -5 if Captain is trusted by the crew (up to three sequential combat victories)
    -10 if Captain is revered by the crew (more than three sequential combat victories)
    +5 if Captain is low ranking for position (a Commander in a Captain or Commodore's position)
    -5 if Captain is high ranking for position (a Commodore in a Captain or Commander's position)
    +5 if crew is inexperienced
    -5 if crew is veteran
    +5 if ship is under fire
    +5 if ship is outnumbered or outgunned
    +5 if ship is Lightly Damaged
    +10 if ship is Heavily Damaged
    +15 if ship is Severely Damaged


-A ship's captain, when issuing an order, rolls his Command skill against the base difficulty, then applies the result to a result chart representing bonuses and penalties, something like:
    Command Roll > Difficulty by
    0-2 = +1
    3-5 = +2
    6-8 = +1D
    9-11 = +1D+1
    12-14 = +1D+2
    Add 1 pip to bonus for every additional three points of roll success.

    Command Roll < Difficulty by
    1-3 = -1
    4-6 = -2
    7-9 = -1D
    10-12 = -1D+1
    13-15 = -1D+2
    Add 1 pip to penalty for every additional three points of roll failure.

    The resulting bonus is then added to the skill level of the crew skill applicable to the given command.


-In addition, captains may use the same chart to provide Knowledge skill bonuses to their Command skill. For example, a captain may roll his Planetary Systems skill to provide a bonus when giving a navigation command (where his Command skill would be augmenting Capital Ship Piloting), or his Tactics skill to provide a bonus when giving a firing command (where his Command skill would be augmenting Capital Ship Gunnery).

-In order to properly command a vessel, the captain must meet the following prerogatives:

    1) He must be an official member of the organization whose vessel he is commanding (or must own the vessel outright).
    2) His Command skill must be at least 2D higher than the ship's Hull dice.
    3) He must have skill dice in all of his vessel's requisite Crew Skills, either at or above the level posted in the ship's stats.
    3) Preferably, he must have skill dice in at least two applicable Knowledge skills that can be used to augment his Command skill as described above.


-The captain will still be subject to MAPs if issuing multiple commands in a round, as well as any applicable Knowledge rolls made that round.

-In order to put multiple PCs into command positions aboard a capital ship, the captain may delegate authority to subordinate officers (Gunnery Officer, Navigation Officer, Shields Officer, etc). In this case, the captain's Command bonus is conferred upon the subordinate officer who then makes his own Command roll using the applied bonus. This delegation of authority allows the Captain to defer some of the MAP burden by sharing out tasks between himself and his officers. To qualify as a subordinate officer, a character must have the requisite skill at at least the minimum number for that skill as provided in ship's stats, and must have a Command skill equal to the ship's Hull dice.


I pretty much wrote this up on the fly, but the idea has been simmering for a while. I would appreciate some input.
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Last edited by CRMcNeill on Sat Sep 05, 2015 5:28 pm; edited 2 times in total
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jmanski
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

On the first section (adding bonuses to crew): how long does the effect last?
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmanski wrote:
On the first section (adding bonuses to crew): how long does the effect last?


Probably just that one round or action, as things tend to change rapidly in a fluid combat situation. This could be waived in the case of a target that isn't maneuvering, or navigation orders that aren't going to change over the course of a round or two.
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jmanski
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm down with that. I'm not crazy about adding to knowledge rolls, though. That may take some convincing.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 9:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmanski wrote:
I'm down with that. I'm not crazy about adding to knowledge rolls, though. That may take some convincing.


Yeah, I've proposed it before and run into some pretty vociferous opposition. My justification is that we, the players, are not starship captains or master tacticians, so we ourselves can't duplicate the kinds of advantages, techniques or general knowledge that our characters can. Therefore, since we can't give sound tactical advice, if our characters want to apply said advice in combat, the only way it can be quantified is in dice bonuses.
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lurker
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 23, 2012 11:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Command in Combat Reply with quote

crmcneill wrote:


...
-In order to properly command a vessel, the captain must meet the following prerogatives:

    1) He must be an official member of the organization whose vessel he is commanding (or must own the vessel outright).
    2) His Command skill must be at least 2D higher than the ship's Hull dice.
    3) He must have skill dice in all of his vessel's requisite Crew Skills, either at or above the level posted in the ship's stats.
    3) Preferably, he must have skill dice in at least two applicable Knowledge skills that can be used to augment his Command skill as described above.

...

I pretty much wrote this up on the fly, but the idea has been simmering for a while. I would appreciate some input.


I like the idea of this, but what about Captains that are political appointees or have the rank/command because of family ties?

I know that falls more into 'role' playing, but ....
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:27 am    Post subject: Re: Command in Combat Reply with quote

lurker wrote:
I like the idea of this, but what about Captains that are political appointees or have the rank/command because of family ties?

I know that falls more into 'role' playing, but ....


The way I wrote the rules, a Command failure in this situation does not automatically mean that the roll fails; it simply means that the skill is rolled with a penalty. Therefore, a captain who has his position as a result of politics or nepotism must still meet the minimum requirements; he just won't be as good as a captain who has earned his position by merit. A meritorious captain might have a Command skill that is 1D-2D above the required minimum, as well as relatively high ratings in Tactics, Planetary Systems, Alien Species, etc.

Also, a sub-standard Captain may have a subordinate executive officer whose skills make up for the failings of his superior. To use the above rules, an executive officer would be a buffer between a poor commander and the crew; the captain's Command roll failures would result in penalties being passed on to the XO, who could then make his own penalized Command rolls to pass more appropriate orders on to the rest of the ship, with the penalty being the rule representation of a good officer being forced to creatively interpret a superior's orders to insure that the tasks are still completed properly. Such an officer can also be ready to step up to the captain's position if the captain makes a grievous error and gets summarily executed or something.

I'm open to suggestions for alternate methods to calculate the Command Difficulty level, as well, as the method I have suggested may be a bit too high.
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lurker
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 12:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Command in Combat Reply with quote

crmcneill wrote:


...

Also, a sub-standard Captain may have a subordinate executive officer whose skills make up for the failings of his superior. To use the above rules, an executive officer would be a buffer between a poor commander and the crew; the captain's Command roll failures would result in penalties being passed on to the XO, who could then make his own penalized Command rolls to pass more appropriate orders on to the rest of the ship, with the penalty being the rule representation of a good officer being forced to creatively interpret a superior's orders to insure that the tasks are still completed properly. Such an officer can also be ready to step up to the captain's position if the captain makes a grievous error and gets summarily executed or something.

I'm open to suggestions for alternate methods to calculate the Command Difficulty level, as well, as the method I have suggested may be a bit too high.


I like that inclusion of the XO in the process for a sub standard CO ... I can easily picture it, the CC gives an idiotic order, the crew nervously roll their eyes, and the XO steps up clarifies the order so that it is closer to what the crews needs to do, without actually stepping on the CC's toes. It slows down the command & control process and is less than effective, but .... when dealt a poor hand (as a crew) you keep your head down and hope for the best. If you are lucky, the CO takes the credit, get promoted and ships out, and the XO gets a good ship, and you all get a new and better leadership.

I've seen that (at a small team level) with a very poor team lead (she was an academy grad, and a hottie, but NO knowledge on leading a jump team working with the scouts). She would say something or make a decision that was waaaay of base. The team SNCO would look at us give us way to foll her orders that didn't risk our lives. Because she was good eye candy, she was quickly moved up to the head shed after only 1 year's worth of work on the line, the SNCO got the Sq Ops SUp, and he made sure our nest OIC and NCOIC were both squared away (he also helped me get my first actual element lead so it was a win win.
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garhkal
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not sure i like it. Since te book already has rules for commanding in combat, (ground or squadron level) this is going a little out of the way for me.. especially basing a ship's command diff on its hull.
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jmanski
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that's what's bothering me as well.

How about just adding a bonus for going over the command difficulty? I like the modifiers, how about nailing down base difficulties for common activities?
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

garhkal wrote:
Not sure i like it. Since te book already has rules for commanding in combat, (ground or squadron level) this is going a little out of the way for me..


The problem I have always had with using the Command and Coordination rules in combat is that the descriptions of how to generate Difficulty numbers are so vague and subjective. Roleplaying combat should be as fast paced and fun as possible, but computing an accurate Diff number for a Command roll can bring everything to a screeching halt. I'm a big believer in advanced preparation, but more often than not, players will throw a curve ball that leaves you wondering what to do next. IMO, every capital ship, troop unit and starfighter squadron / wing should have a set Command Difficulty so that, should a character find himself in command of a unit, he has a framework to work within. This wasn't such an issue early on, but with the addition of Pirates and Privateers and the option of commanding a capital ship, things need to be more clear cut. As I said, this idea has been brewing for a long time, and I have brought it to the forum to see if I can refine it.


Quote:
especially basing a ship's command diff on its hull.


That is the part of the original idea that I am the least comfortable with. I pretty much just picked it as an arbitrary generation method because it sounded good at the moment I was writing up the post. I am more than willing to accept alternative suggestions. Perhaps based on crew size? Modifiers for whether the ship is military or civilian? Ship age (newer ships will have more capable internal communications, which better facilitate coordination)? Scale? Give me some ideas, and I will throw out the Difficulty based on Hull Dice idea at the first available opportunity.
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmanski wrote:
How about just adding a bonus for going over the command difficulty?


The reason I went with a bonus/penalty table was that, if I am reading the Command skill correctly, a failed roll means that the order in question is not carried out. I do not see how a captain in combat would order his gun crews to open fire, flub the Command roll, and have his gunners not open fire at all because of a bad order. Instead, I went with the idea that, if the Command is given, the order is still carried out, but how well the order is carried out is influenced by the Command roll. This allows the Command and Tactics skill to play a direct roll in increasing a ship's potency in combat, rather than the more vague method described in the RAW.


Quote:
I like the modifiers, how about nailing down base difficulties for common activities?


Well, the base difficulties are already listed in the RAW under all the appropriate skills and rules. Gunners still have to beat the difficulty listed by range, pilots still have to beat the appropriate terrain modifiers, navigators still have to make the appropriate Astrogation rolls, and so on and so forth. Are you thinking of common activities that fall outside of these skills?
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jmanski
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm thinking of having a difficulty to command an action, such as "fire the cannons at X".

I'd like the difficulty based on crew size, myself.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 1:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sparks group has a nice chart for what diff/bonus is given based on the average score of the people bein commanded compared to the # being coordinated.

Since i don't know how to do tables its a bit wonky.. but here it is.

Average Skill Level
# Coordinated 1D 2D 3D 4D 5D 6D 7D 8D+ Bonus

2 M M E E E VE VE VE +1D

4 D M M M E E VE VE +2D

6 D D M M M M E E +3D

10 D D D M M M E E +4D

15 VD D D D M M M E +5D

25 VD VD D D D M M M +6D

40 VD VD VD D D D M M +7D

60 H VD VD VD D D D M +8D

100 H H VD VD VD D D D +9D

150 H H H VD VD VD D D 10D

250 H H H H VD VD VD D 11D

400 H H H H H VD VD VD 12D

600 H H H H H H VD VD 13D

1000 H H H H H H H VD 14D

1500 H H H H H H H H +15D
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CRMcNeill
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jmanski wrote:
I'm thinking of having a difficulty to command an action, such as "fire the cannons at X".


My problem here is that telling someone to perform an act does not have the same difficulty as actually performing the act. If the captain gives the order "Target. Contact H185, bearing 327 mark 40. Fire as you bear", it is still the gunners who must roll Capital Ship Gunnery, not the captain. The captain must make a tactical decision as to what target to engage, and with which weapons (Tactics), and issue the appropriate command to his subordinates (Command), but I don't see how that would translate into the captain facing the same difficulty. IMO (and based on the proposed system), the captain's real challenges come into play when he has to give multiple Commands in a round, thereby racking up MAPs for every command he gives. If he is ordering the shields to be properly angled, the helmsman to steer an intercept course on a corvette, his turbolaser gunners to open fire on the corvette, his ion cannon gunners to open fire on a bulk freighter, and his laser cannon gunners to engage and drive off enemy starfighters, he's looking at a -4D MAP for performing 5 actions in the same round (-5D for six actions if he makes a Tactics roll). That's where I see the difficulties of Command coming into play.


Quote:
I'd like the difficulty based on crew size, myself.


That's as good a measure as any, but the question then becomes how to allocate the Difficulty levels based on crew size. Maybe by order of magnitude, so that a ship with crew measured in double digits or less has a Command Difficulty of Very Easy, triple digits would be Easy, and so on. For example:
    Crew Size (including gunners) = Command Difficulty
    1-99 = Very Easy
    100-999 = Easy
    1,000-9,999 = Moderate
    10,000-99,999 = Difficult
    100,000-999,999 = Very Difficult
    1,000,000+ = Heroic

Using this list, some example difficulties would be:
    Super Star Destroyer (280,734) = Very Difficult
    Imperial I Star Destroyer (37,085) = Difficult
    MC80 Cruiser (5,402) = Moderate
    Victory I Star Destroyer (5,200) = Moderate
    Nebulon B Frigate (920) = Easy

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"No set of rules can cover every situation. It's expected that you will make up new rules to suit the needs of your game." - The Star Wars Roleplaying Game, 2R&E, pg. 69, WEG, 1996.

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Last edited by CRMcNeill on Tue Dec 25, 2012 6:52 pm; edited 1 time in total
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