Space combat – what can my character do?

I received a Facebook message this morning from one of the players in my Rogue Trader game; he’d been reading my recent blog posts about space combat in my Rogue Trader FATE hack and wanted to ask the question:

“I take it each of us would be able to do some thing in each turn?”
This started me thinking; one of the initial problems that we had with the standard FFG rules for Rogue Trader was that, although the rules covered hundreds and hundreds of pages in numerous different books, the actual options for keeping all of the players involved in a space combat were fairly limited, this had lessened somewhat once the group acquired a second ship, however it was still very challenging giving everyone something to do in a space combat. Resisting the urge to dive straight back into my hack and start throwing out new rules like they were going out of fashion, I thought i’d take a quite skim through the core rules first and see what they were capable of delivering.
I suppose that, given how flexible the FATE system is, it shouldn’t have come as any surprise to me that what I wanted was pretty much already covered by the systems Aspect rules; as well as being one of the coolest things about the FATE system and having been adapted to all manner of circumstances and different functions in numerous hacks that are being published and made available over the net, the Aspects would do a great job for me in representing how the different characters could influence what was occurring in the main battle, even if they were not directly manning one of the ships stations themselves.
So how will this work?
Well, as discussed in my previous post on the subject of Ship Construction, each ship would have four skills:

  • Engine – used for maneuvres and initiative
  • Hull – used for defence rolls and affects the ship stress tracker
  • Trade – used for trading, maintenance and ship-to-ship diplomacy
  • Weapons – used to make attack rolls

A character manning one of these stations could substitute the following skill to make ship based rolls:

  • Engine – drive(spacecraft) 
  • Hull – crafts(tech use)
  • Trade – resources
  • Weapons – shooting

However a character who was not manning one of the stations could still get involved if they had an appropriate Aspect.
For example: If our Confessor Cornelius has an Aspect “Hate the Alien” and the vessel that he is onboard is firing upon a xenos vessel, Cornelius could use one of his fate points to invoke his Aspect, firing up the gunners with prayers and speeches of hatred for their foe, granted them either a +2 bonus or allowing them to re-roll their attack. Also if this was the case and Cornelius was the only character contributing the shooting then I would have him make the roll on the crews behalf.
This sums up one of the most enjoyable aspects of the FATE rules system for me is that the rules are detailed enough to provide a framework for the group storytelling necessary to create a good RP experience, but they are also flexible and broad enough so that often they will easily cover circumstances in ways that you hadn’t originally foreseen and, on the rare occasions when they do not they can easily be bent into a shape that does.

2 thoughts on “Space combat – what can my character do?”

    1. I think the main problem with this idea (having seen it in play last session) was that just adding a +2 each turn wasn't terribly exciting for the Aspect Invoking player, as opposed to those actually piloting the ship, firing the guns, etc.

      As discussed in Idea 5 of the following post:

      I'm currently looking at abstracting out the combat into a quicker narrative form that focuses more on a speedy combat resolution or encounters that involve the majority of the characters. Hopefully this will create less 'deadtime' for the players who aren't directly involved with space combat.

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