Today’s Daily D4 features something that has held a firm grip on my tiny little mind ever since I saw Star Wars with my dad for the first time, starship combat. Over the years I’ve picked up a number of games that employ a wide variety of mechanics for battles in space, with varying degrees of success. Some games like Star Wars X-Wing Fighter, and Star Trek Attack Wing employ a very strategic setup and recognizable ships the put players in control of some of the most iconic vehicles in all of science fiction. Whether you’re at the helm of your very own X-Wing battling it out with the forces of the Empire, or you’ve been put in command of Romulan warbird and you’ve been dispatched to drive a Klingon force out of the Neutral Zone you’l have to have a sound grasp of tactics to emerge victoriously.
Playing out a starship battle in an RPG can present some more challenges, namely that members of your party may end up twiddling their thumbs with nothing to do. Which stinks of course. For the purposes of this discussion I’d like to examine one of the systems that I am most familiar with, namely Star Wars Saga Edition. Let’s say you have a pilot, co-pilot, and someone manning the guns aboard your rickety old starship while the fourth character a Wookie scout whose player didn’t choose any skills or feats to allow them to contribute to to the parties efforts to evade an Imperial patrol. While three players are piloting, shooting, and anxiously waiting to see how the dice will fall all the poor Wookie can do is hold on for dear life. A good GM can ensure that things don’t go stale, perhaps a party of Trandoshans working in collusion with the Empire manage to board the player’s ship and only their scout can hold them off in a shootout in the corridors. Exciting no? Maybe I’m the only one who enjoys that sort of thing, and if that is the case I apologize.
I feel as though I’ve gone off on a tangent here, so let me get back to the point. Starship combat tends to give everyone who chooses the right blend of skills/feats small tasks, or lots of tactics and strategy. Either way there’s a lot of fun to be had, but neither one has ever made me wince as I imagine the wing of my ship scraping alongside the bottom of a dreadnought pursued by a squadron of fighters, as the massive ship powers up it’s most powerful weapon preparing to fire on the planet we’re trying to defend. These encounters can feel a bit prolonged and I think you really need something the feels fast paced, hectic, and scary to convey the right emotions.
So there you haven’t it, my tumbling terrifying thoughts for today. I’ll have something a bit more structure for everyone tomorrow.