This week we’re going to compare a lot of sci-fi RPG how they build and fight their starships.
Please ignore the extraneous 1s, the tables are easier to work with if they have something in the cells.
|Name||D20 Future||D20 Star Wars||Starfinder||Spaceships & Starwyrms||Dark Matter||Esper Genesis||Stars Without Number||Hyperlanes||Starfleet Tactical Simulator||Star Wars Saga Edition||Coriolis|
|Chassis||26 Frames||Size + Class||16 Frames||13 Frames||1||1||1||1||12 Frames||15 Frames|
|Hull Points||Frame||14 Super-structures||Frame + Tier||Frame Only||1||1||1||1||Frame + Defenses||By Class + Features|
|Power Core||1||No||22 Sizes||Types not Size||1||1||1||1||No||By Class|
|Power Budget||1||No||Design Only||No||1||1||1||Per Round||No||Per Round|
|Speed||9 Engines||3 Speeds|
|3-5 Thruster Speeds||By Chassis||1||1||1||1||Frame + 6 Speeds||By Class + Features|
|Maneuvering||1||3 Levels||Chassis, Armor||By Chassis||1||1||1||1||1||By Class + Features|
|Piloting||1||Size + Armor||Chassis, Speed||By Chassis||1||1||1||1||1||–|
|Armor||8 Armors||Size + Extra Armor||15 Levels AC||Per Defenses||1||1||1||1||Frame + 4 Levels||By Class|
|Defenses||19 Systems||1||15 Levels TL||10 Levels||1||1||1||1||Frame + Systems||1|
|Computer||1||1||10 Levels||2 Levels||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|Hyperdrive||1||11 Levels||5 Levels||Type not Size||1||1||1||1||14 Levels||1|
|Sensors||12 Systems||1||10 Levels||Default||1||1||1||1||3 Levels||Default + Features|
|Weapons||39 Systems||43 Weapons||47 Weapons||18 Weapons||11||1||1||1||1||43 Weapons||19 Weapons|
|Weapon Arcs||1||4 Arcs||4 Arcs||No Facing||1||1||1||1||1||1|
|Shields||1||14 Levels||22 Levels||Per Defenses||1||1||1||1||19 Levels||None|
|Shield Arcs||1||4 Arcs||4 Arcs||No Facing||1||1||1||1||No Facing||None|
|Expansions||1||1||18 Systems||32 Systems||16 Systems|
|1||1||1||1||31 Systems||17 Modules|
|Scaling||1||Yes, above Small||Yes, at Super Colossal||Yes, above Small||1||1||1||1||Yes, above Small||By Class|
|Stealth?||1||Yes||No||Yes||Cloak||1||1||1||Klingons + Romulans||Yes||Yes|
|Cost||Wealth Check||1||Level Benefit||Credits||Gold Pieces||1||1||1||1||Credits by Ship Type||Credits by Class|
Crew Roles and Actions
|Crew Role or Action||D20 Future||D20 Star Wars||Starfinder||Spaceships & Starwyrms||Dark Matter||Esper Genesis||Stars Without Number||Hyperlanes||Starfleet Tactical Simulator||Star Wars Saga Edition||Coriolis|
|Initiative||1||Vehicle or Character||Reverse by Piloting||Ship and Character||Ship and Character||1||1||1||1||Vehicle or Character||Initiative|
|Phases||1||1||3 Phases||Turn Order||Turn Order||1||1||1||1||1||5 Phases|
|Science Officer||1||Sensor Operator||Science Officer||Science Officer||None||1||1||1||Per Round||System Operator||Sensor Operator|
|Shield Operator||1||Shield Operator||1||1||Engineer||1||1||1||1||1||1|
Right off the bat, I’m going to say some of the Coriolis Captain Actions could be “gives a bonus to crew role” and not 1 command per role, except the Pilot, gets 2-3 of the 4 Captain’s commands, the Engineer gets 1, the Gunner shares one with the Pilot, and the Sensor Operator literally gets nothing. There are no Taunting the Enemy, no Desperate Gambles or Feints to fool the enemy. Repair, Evade, Retreat, Attack, that’s not a lot. The attack is the only action a Starfinder Captain’s Encourage can’t beat because it simultaneously affects the Pilot and Gunner. Coriolis bonuses are based on # of successes that can scale but might blow up the tight math of Starfinder.
Engineering phase starts with power distribution, which is just allocating, no rolls.
Overloading the Reactor, more like pushing it beyond safety limits, is not rigging it to blow up, just make extra power based on # of successes. Since Starfinder doesn’t do power distribution this is kind of similar to Diverting Power except Coriolis doesn’t have ship scale shields.
Repair Hull Damage (In Combat?)
Repair System Damage, these never get damaged in Starfinder or are synonymous with the Repair Critical below.
Repair Critical Damage,
Repair Module, these never get damaged in Starfinder
Position, improves Initiative by # of successes
Advance Retreat by one segments + # of successes
Evasive Maneuver, adds bonus to defense equal to # of successes.
Ramming, doesn’t exist in Starfinder for Starships
Boarding, doesn’t exist in Starfinder as a standard maneuver in combat, just after a ship is disabled.
Break Target Lock
Pulse and Meme attacks? Meme attacks? I like that Pulse weapons do Energy Point damage, that deepens the gameplay.
Disappear, cloak the ship.
Fire defensive weapon
Star Wars Saga Edition (SWSE)
Attack Run, Space Charge
Dogfighting, Space Grapple
Fight Defensively (Fly Defensively in D20)
All Out Movement, Space Run
Aim, swift to Aim ahead of an attack.
Attack, the I swing my sword of starship combat.
Full Attack, full round action that allows multiple attacks.
Reroute Power, improves vehicle on the condition track, so it’s a repair action.
Raise or Lower Shields, swift action to turn on and off (Shields took time to charge in D20)
Recharge Shields, increase shields by 5 up to normal max
Coordinate crew, analyzes battle, spot the enemy weakness. None of this has an action associated with it.
Starships of the Galaxy added Maneuvers that added something to Starship Combat.
Slash, redirect enemy fire into another enemy. Starfinder has a character feat for this, but not enough starfighter or fleet combat to make this viable.
Afterburn, Space Tumble past other starfighters to avoid being brought into a dogfight. Starfinder does not have enough starfighter or fleet combat to make this necessary.
Slip, charge an enemy head on hoping to destroy them before you collide with them.
Spin, attack multiple targets with an autofire weapon.
I have you now, piloting check to grant attack bonus on adjacent target.
You pay a Feat Tax to get these Maneuvers that are only useful in the Starship Combat minigame and the Pilot Check DCs to gain these benefits are static DCs that never increase and have nothing to do with the Enemy’s Challenge Rating. I really appreciate that some of these are Degree of Success mechanics before it was cool, they just shouldn’t be based off static DCs. They also shouldn’t charge a Feat Tax to get to do something in Starship Combat that only ever applies to that niche.
Intercept, like taking a normal AoO to start a dogfight, except the target can be 2 squares away.
Loop, run away from your opponent and then surprise them with an attack.
Skim the Surface, Minbari skindancing, flying below the radar, you ignore a ship’s shields by flying under them.
Snap Roll, basically a dodge reaction
Target Sense, add CHA bonus instead of INT bonus on attacks.
Weave, is a corkscrew or barrel roll designed to make you harder to hit, lose half your speed, but gain a defense bonus based on degree of success.
Attack Pattern (Space Teamwork Feats)
Angle Deflector Shields, double shields vs one opponent, half shields vs everyone else. While anyone can take the Starship Tactics Feat, you must be the pilot of the ship to take this action. Seems like this would be a perfect thing to give the System Operator who previously only had 2 actions (both shield related) instead of the Pilot who already had 8 choices not counting attacks.
Attack Formation, Space Shield Wall, lose some offensive power for extra defense.
Attack Pattern, Space Elusive Target, you and your allies clump up to make shooting individuals harder.
Howlrunner Formation, Space Flanking.
Overwhelming Assault, Space Power Attack, take a player chosen negative to attack rolls and add double that number to damage rolls. I don’t think I’d mind this in Starfinder if it was scaled to level like Power Attack in Starfinder and not an arbitrary modifier.
Strike Formation, Space Charge, trade defense for extra damage.
Counter, Space Riposte, allows actions when attacked while dogfighting.
Evasive Action, Space Escape Artist.
Roll, Space Step Up, they try to disengage from the dogfight and you stay with them.
Skywalker Loop, Space Opportunist, make an AoO against a dogfight opponent that just failed their opposed pilot check to attack you.
Target Lock, Space Hunter’s Mark, you get bonuses for one dogfight opponent.
Devastating Hit, add extra damage to a single attack. In Starfinder this would give somebody reason to use a single attack instead of fishing for 20s with multiple attacks but might overpower linked weapons which have emerged as the preferred weapon strategy. Also betting everything on one attack and then not hitting on drags out combat.
Engine Hit, if your attack exceeds the target’s damage threshold you can choose to slow them down. Starfinder has the Critical threshold, but you need to be targeting the Engines first.
Explosive Shot, if you just destroyed a vehicle, cause it to violently explode damaging anything near it.
Shield Hit, unlike the Engine/Explosive Hits you choose this effect before you attack.
Thruster Hit, if you exceed the damage threshold you can choose to damage the thrusters which affect maneuvering (Reflex, Initiative, Piloting) and may limit them to straight-line movement.
Has fairly normal initiative, fewer starship roles than other systems, and fewer actions available to those roles. Some action types (sensors/computers) are eliminated altogether.
Captain, boarding party, brace for impact, deep scan, fire at will, full speed ahead. Deep Scan replaces the Science Officer or Sensor Operator of other systems with the Captain’s action that lets the Captain make an Insight check; since the Captain role is optional, I don’t know how single-seat fighters and smaller ships are supposed to find out things. Brace for Impact gives a Captain an action better than Engineer’s redirecting power to shields, which is all the more useful because, in Dark Matter, your shields are only facing one direction at a time. My only complaint might be that it doesn’t take a roll (none of the Captain actions do) and doesn’t scale with level. 1d6 off 7-12 points at the low end is a lot; 1d6 off 30-32 at the high end isn’t anything.
Dogfighter, gets to dip both the Pilot and Gunner actions, plus gets targeted attack to target a ship’s systems (another science officer action gone).
Engineer, direct power, overcharge, repair, void jump (charge the engines). Can spread shields to 2 sides and gain full shields using direct power. Overcharge takes a spell slot and buffs everything shields, speed, extra shots for the gunners.
Gunner, open fire, readied attack, extra attacks and broadsides.
Pilot, starship Dodge (gives enemies Disadvantage). dogfighting contested piloting check maneuver that reverses the order of two ships locked in a dogfight, hard turn, match speed, ram.
Shields, you get half your max shields points back every round on the Engineer’s turn, or the start of initiative if you have no Engineer.
Destruction, ships in Dark Matter start making explosion saves at zero hit points. Repairs are either Free if you do them yourself but time-consuming or stupidly cheap and instantaneous in port.