Running a space battle

Ok, you guys need to stop. I am just being a player in my group right now you two are geeking me up to run Star Wars

I presume then you are doing a Firefly/Star Wars Rebels type of game (group on a small ship, dealing with the oppression of the Empire, other fun stuff). I would build that into my game. Star Wars is action and pulp at its core, and chase scenes are a staple of such fare. There are two things in Star Wars movies – running space battles and people losing a hand to a light saber. And its the former Disney is putting in their trailers for Eps 7

As GM, you just need to outline the roles and let the players know this will be a staple of the game. Then the players can decide how to fill those roles. I see up to 4-5 roles, some of which can be combined depending on group size. Plus, this will keep them from rolling up 5 bounty hunters (murderhobos in space!).

Pilot – Ace and high Piloting a must
Gunner – you will have a couple of Jayne’s in your crew – they are naturals for this. Backup skill: Repair – if the guns get hit, you can have them do multi-action to Repair/Shoot in a round (squeeze a couple of more shots out of the gun, but it will need a real repair/replace after the battle)
Navigator. Key skill Knowledge (Navigation). Secondary: Piloting/Knowledge (Engineering)/Repair. See below on this key role
Engineer – keeps the ship running. Knowledge (Engineering) & Repair. Secondary would be Navigation and Piloting. The player that likes to support other players/PCs is ideal for this role.

Lets take the original Falcon vs. Tie Fighters chase in Episode 4. Here is how I would run it.

Tell the players they have 5 Chase rounds to get out of there. After the 5th round, the Ties will have shepherd their ship back to the ISD, which will blow out their engines and tractor beam them in. The ISD is treated as an Obstacle, not a combatant.

Pilot’s role is obviously. Get high cards to keep the ties off of them and put the gunners in a good position to shoot. Obstacles in this case would be fire from the ISD, or running into the ISD! So the damage is from batteries of the ship or physical damage. Otherwise, the fire from the ISD inflicts a general -2 to piloting roles to avoid
Gunners role is obvious
Navigator is the key to the scenario. They are doing a dramatic task to get the Hyperspace coordinates in. Normally that would just be a single roll, but here there is pressure and just making an obvious route will have the Empire on them (tracking the jump). I am never sure of the rule on this, but I never let multiple raises work in a DT (so the most you can get is 2 successes in a round, and the fastest you can win is 3 rounds). This determines how long the chase lasts! So if the DT is done in 3 rounds, the PCs escape then. If the Nav blows it or does not get 5 successes in 5 rounds (“oops, I just shut down the Hyperdrive”) the GM needs alternatives (hide in the cargo, captured, convenient asteroid field, etc). Finally, I would reward excess Raises with difficulty in the Empire figuring out where they went. If they just get the 5 successes, then the party can expect the Empire will be on their trail pretty soon. If they got 8 successes (3 extra Raises), then they have created quite a false trail for the Empire to scurry down.
The Engineer has a couple of roles. The primary is Shields. I would use TAG’s Tales of the Space Lane’s Rules for shields and use Know(Eng) to run them. I like them because they are akin to Bennies (vs. the hit point approach that SFC did) and it gives the player choices (basically use them as Deflection/Armor/Soak). That keeps the player engaged. I would also allow them to keep things running just for the fight. Maybe do their own DT to keep something running for the scene (the ship still needs repair, but the Engines stay on line ) or just a repair role each round to nullify one Wound penalty for the pilot’s rolls.

Over time, you can also do what TAG does in their chases – assign specific effects to drawing a Club. If the Navigator draws a 2 of clubs, the Hyperdrive malfunctioned and the Engineer has to make Repair at -4 to get it working again. You can build up a library of these over time. The Engineer can Assist the pilot or the Navigator in rounds they are not needed, or even they can do the Repair on a bad gun to keep it firing. In battles without Hyperspace, the Navigator helps others – assist with piloting roles or shields, etc.

To address your one other point – there is no reason for a TPK if the PCs lose. It should be the skip is disabled. You should always have a back up plan. Star Wars is pulp, and it is a pulp tradition that the PCs will get capture and make an escape. Sometimes in Pulp you plan the capture, but its even better if it happens naturally.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. I hope you have a blast with the game!

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