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Chapter 9: Starships / Starship Combat


Source Starfinder Core Rulebook pg. 320
Combat in space can be highly dangerous to the vessel and its crew. Once a starship has been damaged, critical systems might malfunction or shut down altogether, leaving its passengers without electricity, gravity, or even air. Such damage might also cause a starship to lose its sensors, propulsion, or weapons systems, which could spell defeat during an active engagement.

When a gunner hits with an attack, she rolls the damage dealt by the weapon she is using and determines which quadrant of the targeted starship she hits. A starship’s shield quadrants are the same as its firing arcs (see the diagram on page 318). Damage is first applied to any shields the target starship has in the quadrant hit by the attack, depleting a number of Shield Points equal to the amount of damage dealt. If that quadrant’s Shield Points reach 0, that shield is entirely depleted and any excess damage is applied to the target starship’s Hull Points. If the ship doesn’t have shields or if its shields in that quadrant have already been depleted, apply all damage directly to the target’s Hull Points.

If a starship has a Damage Threshold (see page 292), any attack that would deal damage to its Hull Points equal to or less than this Damage Threshold fails to damage the ship’s Hull Points. If the damage is greater than the Damage Threshold, the full amount of damage is dealt to the ship’s Hull Points.

If a ship is reduced to 0 or fewer Hull Points, it is disabled and it floats in its current direction of travel at a rate of half its speed until it is repaired, rescued, or destroyed. Crew members aboard such ships are not in immediate danger unless their life-support system is wrecked, but they might eventually die from starvation and thirst if they have no way to repair the ship.

If a ship ever takes damage that exceeds twice its Hull Points, it is destroyed and can’t be repaired. All systems stop functioning, and the hull is compromised. The crew might initially survive, but without protection, they won’t live very long.

Critical Damage

Starship systems can take critical damage, causing them to become less functional and eventually stop working altogether.

Critical damage is scored whenever a gunnery check results in a natural 20 on the die and damage is dealt to the target ship’s hull. The critical range is expanded to a natural 19 or 20 on the die if the target starship was the subject of a successful target system science officer action (see page 325).

Critical damage is also scored whenever the target starship’s hull takes damage that causes its total amount of damage to exceed its Critical Threshold (see page 292) or a multiple of that threshold. For example, a starship with 100 Hull Points and a Critical Threshold of 20 takes critical damage each time its total amount of Hull Point damage exceeds 20, 40, 60, 80, and 100 points (and so on). An individual attack does not need to deal more than 20 damage to score critical damage against this starship; it just needs to be the attack that pushes the starship’s total damage above a multiple of its Critical Threshold.

A starship can take critical damage even when its total Hull Points are below 0.


A starship takes critical damage from an attack only if that attack deals damage to the ship’s Hull Points, even if the result of the gunnery check is a natural 20. If the attack’s damage only reduces a starship’s Shield Points, no critical damage occurs.

Critical Damage Effect

When critical damage is scored, the attacking PC should roll on the table below to randomly determine which of the target starship’s key systems is hit; that system gains a critical damage condition (see below), with the effect listed on the table. If the system isn’t currently critically damaged, it gains the glitching condition. If it is critically damaged again, its critical condition changes by one step of severity (glitching becomes malfunctioning; malfunctioning becomes wrecked). These conditions and their effects on crew actions are explained in Critical Damage Conditions.

To determine which system is affected, roll d% and consult the table below. If a system already has the wrecked condition (or in the case of the weapons array, if all weapon arcs have the wrecked condition), apply its critical damage to the next system down on the chart. If you reach the bottom of the chart, instead deal damage to one of the crew (as described below).

1–10Life supportCondition applies to all captain actions
11–30SensorsCondition applies to all science officer actions
31–60Weapons arrayRandomly determine one arc containing weapons; condition applies to all gunner actions using weapons in that arc (a turret counts as being in all arcs)
61–80EnginesCondition applies to all pilot actions
81–100Power coreCondition applies to all engineer actions except hold it together and patch; a malfunctioning or wrecked power core affects other crew members’ actions (see Critical Damage Conditions below)

Crew Damage

If the starship’s core has the wrecked condition and further critical damage is dealt to the core, no critical damage conditions are applied to the ship. Instead, one of the crew (determined randomly) is injured, taking an amount of Hit Point damage equal to the Hull Point damage dealt by the attack (without the increase for starship weapons against humanoid targets; see Shooting Starships on page 292). That crew member can attempt a DC 20 Reflex save to take only half damage.

Critical Damage Conditions

The following are the critical damage conditions and their effects, ordered by severity. These effects apply primarily to starship combat and rarely impact noncombat play (wrecked engines can still be used to get a starship to a safe place to repair, for example— though the GM might rule that it takes longer than normal).


A glitching system isn’t operating at peak performance. Crew actions involving the system (except the hold it together and patch engineer actions; see page 323) take a –2 penalty.


A malfunctioning system is difficult to control. Crew actions involving the system (except the hold it together and patch engineer actions) take a –4 penalty. Also, crew members can’t take push actions (see page 322) using that system. If the power core is malfunctioning, all actions aboard the starship not involving the power core take a –2 penalty; this penalty stacks with penalties from critical damage conditions affecting other systems.


A wrecked system is minimally functional. Crew actions involving the system (except the hold it together and patch engineer actions and minor crew actions; see page 326) automatically fail. If the power core is wrecked, all crew actions aboard the starship not involving the power core take a –4 penalty; this penalty stacks with penalties from critical damage conditions affecting other systems.

Restoring Shields And Repairing Damage

When a starship combat encounter is over, the crew members can repair damage done to their starship, provided it hasn’t been destroyed and they haven’t been captured! Shields regenerate Shield Points at a set rate (depending on the type of shield; see page 302) as long as the starship’s power core isn’t wrecked. You can double this recharge rate for 10 minutes by taking 1 minute and succeeding at an Engineering check (DC = 15 + 1-1/2 times the starship’s tier). Any penalties from critical damage conditions apply to this check.

You can remove the critical damage condition from a system by taking 10 minutes and succeeding at an Engineering check. The DC depends on the severity of the condition (DC 15 for glitching, DC 20 for malfunctioning, and DC 25 for wrecked). The system is no longer critically damaged (it has no critical damage conditions) and can function as normal.

Repairing damage to the hull (restoring lost Hull Points) is more difficult. You must first stop the starship completely, usually at a safe location (for instance, a world with a nonhostile atmosphere or a dock on a space station), and the repairing character or characters must have access to the outside of the hull. On most of the Pact Worlds, the crew can pay mechanics to repair the starship; the cost and time needed are up to the GM. If the crew is on its own in uncharted territory, it can still repair the starship’s hull. Doing so costs 10 UPBs (see page 233) per point of damage to be repaired and requires 5 hours of work regardless of the number of points repaired. A character who succeeds at an Engineering check (DC = 15 + 1-1/2 times the starship’s tier) can cut either the cost or the time in half. For every 10 points by which she exceeds the DC, she can reduce one of these factors by half (or by half again), to a minimum of 1 UPB per point of damage and 1 hour. Any number of allies can use the aid another action (see page 133) to assist with this Engineering check. Failing the check to reduce the time or cost instead increases the cost by 5 UPBs per point of damage.