The Starship Ops Manual just dropped into my downloads.
The gave us nine new FTL technologies, ERG will specifically be using something like the Fold Gates in our house setting.
Electronic Countermeasures, the Science Officer now has weapons to blind the enemy’s sensors.
Spinal Mounts get the hardback treatment, for folks who didn’t know about them from Dead Suns, they are the Wave Motion guns of Starfinder.
Anchoring – like Jet’s harpoon and tow truck from Cowboy Bebop and anything else with a grappling hook and chain weapon.
Automated – they shoot nearest enemy every phase
Buster – this anti-shield weapon is the reverse of a shredder weapon, it’s tough on shields and bad against real armor. It also makes the engineer’s life harder if all he wants to do is spam shields all day. Maybe this weapon will be the prophecy that brings balance back to shields.
Deployed – drones you launch at enemies and then attack them like tiny starships
Force Field – weapons use the ship’s shields to attack, but then deplete the ships shields, I don’t know how I feel about this one, it is another way to keep the engineer spamming shields.
Gravity Well – like the old star wars Interdictors that kept you from jumping to light speed, these slow you down when active and require a lot of power from the engineer just to use them. I feel like this adds depth to the gameplay, gives you a reason to divert power to guns and makes combat a team sport again.
Hacking – science officers hack enemy ships and give them penalties to things. This brings the ship’s computers into focus and anti-hacking modules on the ship are more meaningful than somebody just stealing your ship in the starport or sneaking onboard.
Intimidating – gives the captain a second taunt or an extra phase affected by their taunt, again shining some spotlight on folks beside the pilot and the gunner.
Mine – can only be mounted in the aft, you launch mines behind your ship, this might be interesting combined with a turn and burn from the pilot.
Mystical – gun that uses Mysticism to shoot instead of gunnery.
Nav-Scram – you fill the space around the enemy ship with tiny navigation hazard particles, not Minovski particles oddly enough, and the other pilot rolls with disadvantage to see who goes first. Bigger weapons effects can last longer.
Numbing – you try to stun the enemy crew and they have to make a Fort save or take penalties to all checks for a few rounds. You must connect and do hull points.
Orbital – long range weapons that tear up large stationary targets. They take penalties to shoot mobile targets like starships.
Pod – externally mounted and self powered limited fire weapons (this might make my jet fighters with rockets and missiles easier to explain) they also take damage when the ship gets hit and might explode.
Rail – armor piercing spike that gets more damage for every 5 by which you exceed the target DC.
Ramming – pilot attacks with a ramming prow and damages the enemy ship, this might even force the enemy into another hex.
Restricted – faction only gear.
Smart – mines that drift toward the target after you deploy them.
Teleportation – you move the enemy starship or switch places with them.
Transposition – you teleport your ship to the location of a previously placed beacon.
You can add the following properties to existing weapons subject to the properties normal limitations. I’m thinking Automated Gyrolasers at the low end, but I’m certain other popular combinations will come up.
Honestly it would take forever and the properties tell you most of what you need to know. The Anchoring melee weapons might be the thing the Outlaw Star fans have been looking for.
New Crew Actions
Gunner: Deploy Drone, Lay Mines
Science Officer: Activate ECM module, Rapid Jam (I’m imagining the back seater in a 2 person jet fighter hitting flares and chaff), Recall Beacon (teleport the ship), Insidious Electronics (lets you use your ECM and get normal science officer stuff at the same time)
Pilot: Ramming speed
Ablative Armor – temporary hull points that lower TL and maneuverability
Deflector Shields – raise you AC and TL as well as absorb some damage like DR, they are better against melee, ramming and ripoper weapons.
Fortified Hull – raises Critical Threshold.
Reinforced Bulkheads – its Fortification from Pathfinder there is a percentage chance you don’t take the critical effect of a critical hit.
Abysium – radioactive power cores and weapons mounts that grant the irradiate property.
Adamantine Alloy – raises the ship’s damage threshold, makes weapons more destructive.
Djezet – more efficient power cores and longer range sensors
Horacalcum – slows down incoming missiles, speeds up the ship and aids piloting.
Inubrix – less damage from hazards and may double crits.
Noqual – defense against the dark arts armor and sensors that can scramble the enemy’s sensors.
Siccatite – reduces friction from reentry, and confuse enemy computer scans.
Arcane mortuary – necromancer’s lab
Boosters – extra limited use thrusters
Breaching Pod – can carry two huge creatures or 4 large creatures (lookout for Katar boarding marines in Power Armor) and acts like a missile, escape pod and shuttle all in one.
Combat Training Facility – on at least some of my ships this is going to replace the gyms.
Corpse Recycler – grind down your enemies into necrograft UPBs.
Cryo-Chamber – for all our Traveller fans you can now have a low passage berth.
Dedicated Computer Housing – a space for a single dedicated mononode computer.
Drop Pod – you drop four huge or eight large creatures from orbit, who needs shuttles.
External Expansion Bay – small or larger ships can add external bays that hamper their maneuvering, up to as many bays outside as the ship has inside.
Ghost Drive – make your ship incorporeal.
Healing Pods – biomechanical pods can concentrate their self repair abilities to double natural healing of up to six medium sized creatures.
Quantum Defender – forces enemy ships to roll gunnery at disadvantage when its active.
Survey Sensors – double the computer bonus for doing science, and double the range planetside, no effect on starship combat. Some of our long rance science ships might want one of these.
Thrusters Primer – reduces warm up time for thrusters.
Emergency Accelerator – turbo boost to get you away from combat and leave the map.
Holographic Mantle – hologram makes your ship look like a different ship, broadcasts a fake transponder signal and sensor scan information.
Reconfiguration System – the ship physically changes shape to look like a different ship.
Algal Shielding – radiation shielding and hydroponics for biomechanical ships.
Autodestruct System – self destruct that the crew can’t stop.
Colony Ship Framework – carry ten times the normal max crew onboard and three times the expansion bays, mount one orbital weapon.
Consciousness Uplink Drive – you’re a rigger now, you ply the starways. Might be especially interesting for pilots of single seat fighters.
Powersap – drain enemy ship’s energy.
Robotic Appendage – they give us robot arms, but say they can’t be used in starship combat, don’t they know the Outlaw Star fans want grappler ships.
Root System – self repair supplies for a biomechanical ship.
Space Station Framework – for building space stations with five times the max crew in residents and three times the normal expansion bays and an orbital weapon.
Training Interface Module – lets you use class features or feats in starship combat. People might just start putting these in ships without selecting which class features or feats knowing somebody is going to want to use something.
Virtual Intelligence – an artificial intelligence that can access the ship’s systems.
Holographic Projector – allows the VI to walk and talk with the crew.
Skill Expander – skill mods for the VI
Same as the rules from Dead Suns as far as I can tell.
Boarding is either resolved through starship actions OR tactical combat, I really want to try the tactical combat boarding actions with our Frigate VTT map.
New crew actions: Lead Boarding Party or Subdue Boarding Party
So without seeing the new Paizo ships in the book I am thinking that I’ll need to include some boarding stats for my ships now, the values can be derived from the Tier of the ship and how hard the GM needs the fight to be, but in the setting Katar boarding marines in power armor are supposed to be the best at assaulting enemy ships.
Add critical successes to the crew actions.
Like other chase rules that came before it, you have obstacles and crew actions to overcome them. I think the obstacles might make for decent complications to starship combat too.
Additional Starships Options
Crew locations, Scotty down in Engineering, Captain and Helmon the bridge, Mystic in their wizard lab. Orbital drops and skydiving, I like them all and have some stuff in this area that hasn’t seen publication yet like orbital paratrooper robots.
Starships in Atmosphere
I have an adventure that will use at least two things from this section. I was hoping for some atmosphere only stunts, what I got were hazards, storms, toxic gases, which are all fine, like I said I’m stealing two of them already.
I feel like the new actions and stunts ought to be available for normal starship combat. I really like the new Squadron systems especially the Unification Matrix (starship Voltron), but the Data Link, Auto Flight Module and Focus Fire Algorithm all enable team combat in a good way. When reading about Captains leading from the host ship and not the fighters I was thinking more about science officers back at base telling Jagers about the Kaiju’s weak point in Pacific Rim.
I probably need to build some faction fleets for my ships in case anyone wants to run this (mini-game) right away. Most of the Katar and Eldred ships in the ERG house setting Galaxy Pirates are Destroyer fleets by these rules, the Eldred only ever wanted Capital ships after seeing an allied fleet defend their homeworld. The Terran faction have a Battleship that would fit the Capital fleet definition, but the Frigate would be part of a Destroyer fleet. So by these rules the Terran, Eldred and Trogon factions could all field a Capital fleet. The Katar have enough military and resources, but following their modular design principles I don’t know what a capital ship for them would even look like.
ERG certainly has enough fighter designs for people to build fighter fleets out of.
In reading the Officer roles, I see I need to go re-read the Armada rules from Skull and Shackles, we brought 6 squadrons to the fleet battle in S&S, more than half of them fled due to poor morale checks. I’m sure everybody running away from the final climactic fleet battles in Battlestar Galactica, Wing Commander and Star Wars is the cinematic experience that everyone was hoping for.
Manufacturers, I’ll read that later.
Starship Stat Blocks
I feel like I can’t provide too objective a review here and even if I tried, people would probably read too much into it.
They fixed Gunnery: I see one thing that is going to change every published starship in the game. Starship gunnery was always equal to the Good skills of other crew members, even though Gunnery wasn’t a skill and used different formulas they were equal. One ship in core even had Master gunners. Gunnery now has its own column on the Crew skills chart fixing a long standing gap, but it’s now always less than the crew Good skills at every level past 1.
Optional Rule Design Budgets: this should have been in the construction section or something, but design constraints keep you from building a glass cannon and it’s probably a good idea. I don’t know if my own ships are balanced to this rule, but it is worth looking into.
The starship artwork: the early art is hit or miss for me, the Skymedic is nice, the multifold autohauler is a fantastic little boxy ship, the Opulence looks like an airship I want to convince Jim to put in A Broken Sky right down to the coke bottle green glass. The Librama looks like somebody dropped a tree feather token on a Zentraedi ship, the Resolute looks like something a Russian artist I follow on DA would have done. It’s killing me how some of the painted concept art looking ships could have benefitted from a little more detail work. Dmolangari I would love to see a cleaner version, it’s not the Ralph McQuarrie concept art or matte paintings that I grew up with whereas somebody could say the autohauler came from the Star Wars extended universe and I wouldn’t question it. They have managed to provide a variety of different looking ships while keeping to faction or manufacturer based design themes and that’s easy to have as a goal, it’s not as easy to pull off as an Art Director. The Idaran Saga is beautiful and I want one on my desk. There are so many good looking ships they really outweigh the few that are just missed opportunities to me. Pyre Spike Station is wonderful, Driftmaven is very cool and I kind of want to redo the art anyway because I think it could go to eleven.
Running Starship Campaigns
Building Starship Creatures
I look at the creature array for Starship-Creatures and I wonder why we don’t use this to make NPC starships that can be modified up or down on the fly, I’ve mentioned this idea before. The Gunnery, Good and Master skills aren’t the same as the one in the previous chapter. Having expected damage output is a good start to balancing starship combat.
These are going to help you build more robust starship campaign.
Designing Starship Encounters
Cool stuff there with narrative advice and alternate win conditions and non-combat options.
Starship Adventure Seeds
Some good ones in there.
Starship Campaign Arcs
Some good ones in there.
Published Starship lists by CR
Starship rules options index
Starship sheets, fleet sheets, GM sheets
I love the book I have been waiting for it for a long time, conceptually even before it was announced. They answered some problems I had written about and I look forward to see what the community response is to the changes.
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