This is a tactical mini-game that can also be used as an add-on for any table-top RPG that needs a light-weight space ships expansion.
If you want to staple space combat onto any RPG but you don’t want the space ships to overpower all the rest of the game, use these rules!
How to Play
- Six-sided dice (about ten of them)
- Coins representing “heat tokens” (about ten)
- Different coins representing “crew tokens” (about ten)
Each player builds a ship and uses that ship to destroy other players' ships. You can fight in a nasty mosh pit until only one ship remains or you can have teams established and fight until all enemy ships are destroyed.
If you’re using this as a supplement for a role-playing game, your GM may also give you missions or establish certain conditions for the space ship encounter.
Building a Ship
Your ship’s “roster” is like a character sheet for your ship. There is very little data to record so you could use any paper or you could download and print out one of the roster sheets on the web site.
First, choose a class. Each class has an associated “size modifier” that makes your ship more massive.
Once you have a class, mount systems on your ship. Each system increases the mass of your ship by an amount equal to your ship’s size mod. You can never mount more than ten systems on your ship.
Systems you can mount include:
|Dissipator||Helps manage heat|
|Engine||Helps your ship move|
|Habitat||Keeps crew alive|
|Laser||Cooks enemy ships|
|Missile||Blasts enemy ships|
In addition to these, you may choose a special ship system that is available only to certain classes of ship.
|Fighter||Afterburner||Makes engines more effective|
|Cruiser||Railgun||Shoots magnetically propelled bullets|
|Capital||Hangar||Holds small fighter drones|
Write the name of the system down in one of your ten system slots.
When you’re done adding systems to your ship, calculate the following:
- Mass: Total ship mass is size mod times the number of filled system slots on your ship.
- Crew: Each habitat system increases the amount of crew you have on your ship. The amount of crew compliment granted by your habitats depends on your ship’s class.
Crew compliment by ship size:
|Fighter||1 Crew per Habitat|
|Cruiser||2 Crew per Habitat|
|Capital||3 Crew per Habitat|
Your ship will always start with its maximum crew compliment.
All crew tokens start in the “heads” position to denote that they are ready. If crew are hurt, flip them over to the “tails” position to represent that they are unable to work.
It doesn’t matter which side of the coin you use to represent the crew’s state as long as you’re consistent.
In space, precision is life but chaos is king! Correct calculations are the difference between life and death. Die values represent variance in your calculations and you want that to be low. Low numbers are better, 1 (the lowest number) is best!
When you roll, toss a fist-full of dice (one to eight of them), identify which ones are effective, and discard the rest. Having more dice remain is better. The number of dice you may roll depends on the number of systems or crew you’re using to perform the action.
- Chuck evens. Even numbers are natural inefficiencies that trouble all space ship operations. Discard all even-numbered dice as you roll them. They’re just energy lost to heat, human error, or random happenstance haunting your efforts.
- Ones cascade. Ultimate precision has a chance to yield even greater effect. For each die that turns up 1, immediately roll an extra die, treating it as if it were part of the original roll (discard it if it’s even). Extra dice turning up 1 also cascade in this way, allowing you to pull in dice ad infinitum.
After rolling and chucking, any (odd-numbered) dice that remain are called effective dice. Effective dice are what you have to work with in creating a game effect (such as shooting an enemy ship or repairing a damaged system).
Rolling to Shoot
In space combat, you’ll be operating at distances so great that special relativity will be working against you. Your enemies will exploit the fact that you are always operating on information that could be a whole second old. You will be doing the same.
Rolling to shoot is the same as the standard rolling defined above but there is one extra step to determine your shot’s accuracy. When shooting, remember the following rules:
- Ones are awesome. Any dice with a value of 1 always count as hitting the enemy ship, regardless of that ship’s mass.
- Mass counts. Smaller ships are harder to hit. The total values on all other dice you keep (dice with values of 3 and 5) can not exceed the mass of the ship you’re shooting.
Thus if you are shooting at a ship with a mass of 7, and you roll two dice with values of 3 and 5, only one of those dice remains (because they sum up to 8 which exceeds the target ship’s mass of 7) and you discard the other.
After discarding dice whose values don’t fit inside target’s mass, dice that remain are your effective dice.
When combat begins, every ship has a starting speed equal to the number of Engine systems mounted and starts with a number of heat tokens equal to that same amount minus the number of Dissipator systems mounted.
If your ship has an afterburner mounted, increase your starting speed by +5 (there is no benefit to having more than one Afterburner).
Each ship’s speed determines when that ship can act in a combat round. Highest speed takes the first turn, second-highest speed takes the second turn, etc..
When two or more ships tie for speed, they roll as many dice as the number of Engine systems they have mounted. Each effective die increases speed by 0.01. Continue until all ships have a unique speed number.
If your ship has an afterburner mounted, roll two dice for every engine you have mounted.
Because ship speeds can change in the course of combat, you may need to repeat this process during rounds.
Combat is divided into rounds. Each round has two phases. After each round ends, if all combatants agree to cease hostilities, the fight is over.
- Execution Phase
- Aftermath Phase
Each ship gets one turn in speed ranking order. On your turn, you can take two actions. Turn actions include:
- Burn Engines
- Conserve Energy
- Drone Strafe
- Fire Weapons
- Heal Crew
- Precision Fire
- Repair Systems
Choose to burn any number of the engines on your ship. Each engine burned adds 1 heat token and adds +1 or -1 (your choice) to your ship’s speed.
If your ship has an afterburner mounted, you may also roll a die for every engine used. Each effective die allows an additional +1 or -1 modification to your ship’s speed.
For this action, you do nothing. This idle time avoids generating new heat and gives your Dissipators time to catch up. Remove one heat token from your roster.
Roll as many dice as you have un-damaged Hangar systems mounted. Each effective die forces an enemy to apply damage. You can only do this action once per turn.
Decide if you are going to fire lasers, missiles, or a rail gun. You may choose to fire as many un-damaged systems of the chosen type for this action. For each weapon fired, you will roll a certain number of dice as described in the Rolling to Shoot section.
Once you fire weapons, you can’t do so again for the rest of the turn.
|Lasers||2||Add 1 heat token to your ship for each fired|
|Missiles||4||Once fired, the system is "empty" and can't be fired again|
|Railgun||2||The ship you shoot must have lower speed than you|
Thus, if you have two ready lasers fired, you can chose to fire both of them, rolling 4 dice (two for each laser) to shoot an enemy ship, and doing so generates extra heat.
Missiles have cameras, and computer controlled gyroscopes that allow them to home in on a target. This allows you to roll 4 dice for every missile system fired; firing two missile systems is 8, etc., but once you fire missiles, that missile rack is dead weight on your ship.
Railguns are tubes made of electromagnets running along the keel of your vessel. These magnets propell a massive slug at high speed. Maneuvering into a clear shot can be a bit tricky but the impact can turn ship systems into shrapnel.
Roll a die. Each effective die allows you to flip one hurt crew token over to the ready position.
You can only take this action if you take the very first turn in the round and this is the only action you take this turn.
Decide how many lasers you’re going to fire. Place one heat token on your ship and roll one die for every laser fired. Select a single system on the target ship. Each effective die damages that system and that system only. If you happen to roll more damage than the system can take, excess damage is ignored.
If the target ship has any armor systems that aren’t destroyed, this action must target an armor system.
Roll as many dice as you have ready crew. Each effective die lets you remove one damage mark from a system on your ship.
When the aftermath phase begins, remove one heat token for every undamaged Dissipator system mounted on your ship.
Roll as many dice as the number of heat tokens that remain on your ship’s roster. Each effective die hurts a crew in one of the following ways:
- A ready crew token is flipped to the hurt position
- A hurt crew member dies and its token is removed from the roster
If you have no crew tokens on your roster, you’re eliminated from the game.
As your ship takes damage, you are responsible for distributing that damage among your ship’s various systems. How you spread that damage is a strategic decision on your part.
When applying damage to your ship, you may select any system on your ship that hasn’t been destroyed and mark it with an “X” or a check mark to denote the damage has been applied to that system.
Systems that have suffered any damage can not be used for actions until they are repaired (e.g.: damaged lasers can’t shoot, damaged Dissipators can’t vent off heat).
If a system that isn’t armor takes damage twice, that system is destroyed. Cross out the entire system to denote that it can no longer be used and can not be repaired.
Additionally, whenever you take damage to certain systems, the following special rules apply:
- Armor: An armor system is not destroyed unless it is damaged more times than your ship’s size mod.
- Missiles: If an unfired missile system is destroyed, two other systems on your ship also take damage from the exploding ordinance.
- Habitats: If habitats are destroyed, you must immediately recalculate your crew compliment. If the amount of living crew exceeds the new crew max, you must kill crew (remove tokens from the roster) until the surviving crew fit inside the new limit.
- Engines: If all of your engine systems are damaged, you can not control your ship until they are repaired. Momentum may carry you through debris or into stray ordinance or laser beams. Roll one die for every whole point of speed your ship has. Each effective die forces you to take damage. Repeat this roll at the start of every turn until you have at least one working engine.
If all your ship’s systems are damaged, you’re eliminated from the game.
Incorporating Your RPG Characters
If you’re using this as a supplement for an existing RPG system, you probably want your character to be part of the crew. Your character will count against the crew max as set by the ship’s habitats and can be used as crew in all the normal ways – with the some exceptions.
When using your character as part of a Repair Systems action, you can use your system’s native dice mechanics for your character’s contribution to the roll. Instead of tossing the six-sided die as regular crew do, your character will roll according to GM fiat (selecting the system’s native stats and dice mechanics) to determine success. Your character’s success counts as one effective die – more if your system has some kind of “critical success” mechanic and the GM rules that it’s appropriate.
When performing the Heal Crew action, your character can use whatever healing mechanics exist in your main RPG system. GM fiat should help determine the effect of the heal but it should flip at least one hurt crew token to the ready position.
When Cosmoforce rules hurt a character, use your system’s native damage system to record that. Space ship combat is a huge deal so the damage should be pretty devastating. e.g. If your system has a hit point system, being hurt by Cosmoforce mechanics should take 50% of your max health.
Since your character is going to be more important than faceless crew, your character still counts as ready for Cosmoforce purposes unless your character is considered unconscious or incapacitated by your system’s native rules. This makes it possible for characters to take more of a beating than regular crew.