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Chapter 2: Starship Combat

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 38

Boarding

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 40
Although most starship combat involves lasers and torpedoes fired across vast distances, some starship crews—from Besmaran pirates to hardened vesk marines—relish boarding enemy vessels to finish the fight hand‑to‑hand. Of course, starships rarely draw close enough to each other to facilitate boarding, so moving troops from one ship to another typically occurs in one of four ways: a starship latching onto an enemy ship with an anchoring weapon, one starship ramming another, striking a starship with a breaching pod, or a giant space creature injecting pathogens into its prey.
When a starship launches a boarding party, the party’s maximum size equals 20% of the attacking starship’s complement or 4 combatants, whichever is higher. Some options, such as breaching pods, are exceptions that provide a different maximum size.

Anchoring Weapons

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 40
If a starship uses a weapon with the anchoring special property and begins the gunnery phase adjacent to the ensnared target, the gunner can use the shoot crew action to secure the target. If successful, the attack deals no damage, but the gunner’s ship can send one boarding party aboard the enemy starship.

Breaching Pods

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 40
Breaching pods fly teams of combatants toward a target, much like a tracking weapon. Upon impact, a breaching pod’s prow pierces a hole in the target, allowing the combatants to pour into the starship. Due to their size and composition, breaching pods can’t pierce any quadrant with Shield Points.

Injected Pathogen

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 40
Some creatures can inject dangerous biological agents into a starship. When calculating its boarding statistics, the pathogen’s tier equals the creature’s tier, and the pathogen’s complement modifier is +0. In addition to fending the pathogen off as though it were a boarding party, a defending officer can use environmental controls to weaken the pathogen as an open crew action with a Life Science check (DC = 10 + 1-1/2 × the creature’s tier). If successful, all pathogen boarding parties take a –4 penalty to their next boarding attack before the end of the next round.

Ramming

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 40
When a starship successfully rams and deals damage to another starship’s Hull Points, an officer can direct a boarding party to invade the targeted starship as an open crew action during the gunnery phase that round.

Resolving a Boarding Party

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 40
Once a boarding party has invaded an enemy vessel, the defenders can react in one of two ways: repel the invaders through starship actions or confront them in tactical combat. Starship actions best represent the PCs relying on their starship’s crew and other defenses to repel attackers, whereas tactical combat is best if two or more PCs want to pursue the attackers directly.

New Open Crew Actions

An officer can directly influence a boarding party’s success or repulsion.

Lead Boarding Party (Engineering Phase)

You accompany a boarding party, granting it a major advantage. Add an insight bonus equal to your key ability score’s modifier to the boarding party’s boarding attack modifier. If the boarding attack succeeds, you can choose which system takes critical damage.

Subdue Boarding Party (Engineering Phase)

You personally lead your starship’s crew in thwarting a boarding party. Either add an insight bonus equal to your key ability score modifier to your starship’s BR against one boarding attack attempted this round, or add half that bonus (rounded down) to the BR against all such boarding attacks this round.

Resolving with Starship Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 40
Rather than making individual attack rolls or tracking their exact location on a starship, a boarding crew’s success and health is resolved with a special boarding attack roll at the start of the Engineering phase. This check includes several modifiers that are explained on page 41.

Boarding Attack = 1d20 + the boarding party’s tier (rounded down) + the boarding party’s complement modifier + the boarding party’s training modifier

Compare the result of the boarding attack to the target starship’s Boarding Resistance (BR), which represents the starship crew’s ability to repel invaders.

BR = the starship’s tier (rounded down) + the starship’s security modifier + the starship’s training modifier

If the boarding attack is successful, the boarding party locates and sabotages part of the starship, and the starship takes a critical damage effect to a random system. If the attack exceeds the BR by 5 or more, the boarding party also deals major damage to the defenders and incapacitates 10% of the boarded starship’s complement. If the attack fails by 5 or more, the boarding party instead sustains major damage, with one-third of the boarding party’s original members incapacitated in combat. If the attack fails by 10 or more, the boarding party experiences a catastrophic setback that incapacitates the entire team.
Incapacitated crew and boarding party members might be dead, seriously injured, unconscious, captured, or otherwise neutralized, but regardless of their condition, they are unable to contribute for the duration of the starship combat. When determining which creatures are incapacitated, a starship’s non‑officer crew members are incapacitated first. If a PC would be incapacitated while resolving a boarding event, it’s often best to have them captured; however, if a group refuses to yield, reduce that PC to 0 Hit Points, and the PC must spend enough Resolve Points to stabilize. If that PC does not have enough Resolve Points, they die.
As a guideline, half of the combatants incapacitated during a boarding event survive to recover after starship combat ends. This increases to 75% of the incapacitated defenders if their starship has a medical bay.

Complement Modifier

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 41
The boarding party’s relative size plays a significant role in how quickly they can overcome defenders and inflict damage, represented by a modifier to the boarding attack. To calculate this modifier, compare the number of combatants in the boarding party to the defending ship’s complement, using the following table.
Boarding Party Size Complement Modifier
Less than 10% of the target’s complement –8
10–20% of the target’s complement –4
20–50% of the target’s complement +0
50–80% of the target’s complement +2
80–100% of the target’s complement +4
Larger than the target’s complement +8

Security Modifier

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 41
Starships often incorporate security features that stymie invaders. A starship’s BR has a base security modifier of +0, modified by the following security features (rounded up). Antipersonnel weapons provide their BR modifier only against the first boarding attack attempted against the starship, after which the weapon exhausts its ammunition and must be reloaded as an open crew action.
Security Security Bonus
Antipersonnel weapon 1/3 × weapon level
Antipersonnel weapon, heavy 2 + 1/3 × weapon level
Biometric locks 1
Computer countermeasures 1/3 × number of countermeasures

Training Modifier

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 41
A typical starship’s crew members have basic combat skills that help them fend off attackers, represented by the starship’s tier. However, well-trained combatants can quickly overpower unskilled foes. A starship that has a basic, specialized, or elite combat training facility as an expansion bay increases the crew’s military capabilities to skilled, specialized, or elite, respectively, each of which increases the starship’s BR. A starship benefits only from the most advanced combat training facility it has. For military starships published prior to this book, consider granting their crews the skilled or specialized benefits as appropriate.
Crew Skill Training Modifier
Skilled +2
Specialized +4
Elite +6

Multiple Boarding Parties

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 41
If two or more allied boarding parties board the same starship, they can choose either to operate independently or combine forces. When operating independently, resolve each boarding party’s boarding attack separately.
When boarding parties combine forces, add their number of combatants together to calculate their complement bonus, and use the average of their training modifiers (rounded down). Combine the boarding parties’ combatants to determine how many combatants are incapacitated during the boarding event.

Tactical Boarding Resolution

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 41
When multiple PCs participate directly in a boarding event, it’s best to put the starship combat on hold at the end of the current round. Record the starships’ positions and statuses (their HP, SP in each quadrant, etc.). Resolve the boarding action as a tactical encounter using a 5-foot-square grid.
Calculating CR: In general, a boarding party encounter’s CR is 1 less than the tier of the enemy starship (e.g. boarding or repelling invaders from a tier 9 starship is a CR 8 encounter). Increase the CR by 1 if the boarded ship’s BR is at most 5 higher than the boarding attack modifier. Conversely, decrease the CR by 1 if the boarding attack modifier is at least 15 lower than the boarded ship’s BR.
These values assume that only some of the PCs are participating in the encounter, with the rest remaining at their posts. If the entire party participates, consider increasing the CR by 1 or more to provide the appropriate challenge.
PCs Attacking: If the PCs successfully overcome the combat challenge, they deal damage to the enemy starship as if they had succeeded at their boarding attack. If they succeed within 3 rounds (or otherwise achieve an extraordinary victory, at the GM’s discretion), the PCs also incapacitate a fraction of the enemy ship’s complement as though the boarding attack exceeded the BR by 5.
PCs Defending: If the PCs successfully overcome the combat challenge, they treat the boarders as if they had failed the boarding attack by 5. If they succeed within 3 rounds (or otherwise achieve an extraordinary victory, at the GM’s discretion), the PCs also incapacitate a fraction of the enemy’s boarding party as though the boarding attack failed the BR by 10.
After resolving the encounter, resume the starship combat for one round, and if the PCs continue to engage in or defend against boarding actions, begin another tactical encounter to represent the next boarding attack, repeating as necessary.

Critical Effects

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 42
Just as a gunner’s lucky shot can disable key enemy systems, the rest of the crew can also achieve heroic feats in the heat of battle. Whether it’s a captain’s demands striking just the right nerve, an engineer performing the perfect patch to keep a damaged ship together, or a pilot surpassing their starship’s design specs with an impossible maneuver, the following rules provide critical effects for any crew member who rolls a natural 20 during starship combat. More information on the chief mate, magic officer, and open crew actions can be found on page 146 of the Starfinder Character Operations Manual.

Rolling a Natural 20

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 42
The following system for critical effects is an optional way to give any crew member the potential to achieve extraordinary results when that officer attempts a starship crew action, rolls a natural 20, and succeeds at the check. Except for minor crew actions, each of the starship crew actions benefits from this critical success in a specific way, either adding a bonus effect to the action’s typical effects or increasing the benefits provided by the successful action. Actions marked with an asterisk appear in this book.

Captain Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 42
Demand: Your demand echoes throughout the starship. You can attempt the demand crew action with the targeted character one additional time during the current starship combat.
Encourage: You’re able to select just the right motivation for your crew, increasing the bonus you grant to your crew members’ actions to +4.
Moving Speech: The crew is so motivated by your speech that they also gain a +2 bonus to all checks that phase, as if you had successfully used the encourage action to aid them.
Orders: You orders flow so naturally that you can take one additional captain crew action this turn.
Taunt: Your strong words push just the right buttons. The penalty your taunt action applies to an enemy ship continues through all three phases of combat instead of just one.

Chief Mate Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 42
Hard Turn: You’re able to keep up with the pilot’s needs, applying changes with perfect precision. You improve the maneuverability of the ship by one step until the start of the next round.
Maintenance Panel Access: Your assistance gives the engineer more time to perform their action. The next time an engineer attempts an Engineering check to divert power, they can roll twice and take the better result.
Manual Realignment: Your assistance makes the science officer’s scan easier to perform. The next time a science officer attempts a Computers check to scan, they can roll twice and take the better result.
Maximize Speed: You’re able to maintain the engines for longer. The speed of your starship increases by 2 until the end of the next round.
Targeting Aid: You’re able to provide targeting information to all gunners about one specific ship. Choose an enemy starship; all gunners on your starship gain the benefits of the targeting aid crew action for attacks targeting that starship.

Engineer Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 42
Divert: For a crucial moment, you far surpass the power core’s potential output. The results of a critical divert action depend on where you decided to send the extra power.
Engines: You also divert power to the maneuvering thrusters, lowering the turn value of your starship by 1 this round.
Science Equipment: You’re able to divert power in an efficient and balanced way. Science officers can roll their checks twice this round and use the better result.
Shields: You’re able to efficiently route energy to the shields, doubling the number of Shield Points restored to 10% of the PCU rating of the starship’s power core. If this would restore the shields over their maximum value, these excess Shield Points remain until the beginning of the next engineering phase, at which point any excess Shield Points are lost.
Starship Weapons: The augmented weapons run at maximum safe power. For your starship’s weapons, treat each damage die roll that results in a 1 this round as having rolled the die’s maximum result instead.
Hold It Together: Thanks to your inspired repairs, the system you worked on is treated as if its critical damage condition were two steps less severe (wrecked becomes glitching, whereas malfunctioning or glitching become undamaged) for 1d4 rounds.
Overpower: Choose one of the three systems to which you diverted extra power. One of those systems also receives the critical effect benefit of the divert action.
Patch: Your patch was especially robust. If the system takes critical damage again, it removes the patch but doesn’t also apply additional critical damage.
Quick Fix: Your inspired engineering results in a lasting repair, removing the critical damage condition from the system for 1 day instead of for 1 hour.

Magic Officer Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 43
Eldritch Shot: Your magical energy also augments the damage of your selected weapon’s next attack. On that attack roll, the gunner can treat each damage die roll that results in a 1 this round as having rolled a 2 instead.
Mystic Haze: Your conjured haze is especially powerful. The granted enhancement bonus to AC increases to +2 and also affects your starship’s TL.
Precognition: Your precise senses give you detailed information about your opponents’ next move. Increase the circumstance bonus to the Piloting check to +4.
Psychic Currents: You manipulate the currents to push your starship along, increasing its speed by 2 until the start of the next turn.
Scrying: Your divination reveals a weakness in a random quadrant of the targeted starship. The next time one of your starship’s weapons deals damage to the targeted starship’s Hull Points, it has a 25% chance to also deal critical damage to a random system.

Pilot Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 43
Audacious Gambit: Your incredible maneuvering leaves enemy gunners confounded. You gain a +4 circumstance bonus to your ship’s AC and TL until the start of the next round.
Full Power: You maintain steady control over your starship during its movement and add only 1 to your starship’s distance between turns.
Maneuver: Fancy flying keeps you safe through incoming fire. You gain the effects of a successful evade stunt until the start of the next round.
Stunt: The results of a critical stunt action depend on the stunt being attempted.
Back Off: Your starship can move up to its full speed and make turns as normal for its maneuverability rating.
Barrel Roll: The sudden roll makes it difficult to target your starship. You also gain the effects of a successful evade stunt until the start of the next round.
Evade: You successfully anticipate your enemy’s firing patterns. The stunt’s circumstance bonus to your starship’s AC and TL increases to +4.
Flip and Burn: With a flawlessly executed stunt, your starship can move up to its full speed (without turning) and rotate 180 degrees to face the aft edge at the end of the movement.
Flyby: You line up the shot perfectly. The gunner gains a +2 circumstance bonus to the gunnery check affected by this stunt.
Ramming Speed: You fly your ship fast and true. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus to the gunnery check to ram the target, and if you succeed, you deal additional damage to the target equal to your starship’s tier.
Slide: You slide and rotate your starship simultaneously. At the end of the stunt’s movement, your starship can turn once.

Science Officer Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 43
Activate ECM or Rapid Jam: Your powerful ECM module disrupts enemy targeting computers. Gunners aboard the target starship also take a –2 penalty to gunnery checks during this round.
Balance: While rebalancing the shields, you discover latent power in the shield systems. Before redistributing the Shield Points, you increase the total Shield Points by 5% of the starship’s PCU rating, up to the shields’ maximum value.
Improve Countermeasures: Your powerful countermeasures send false signals to the enemy targeting systems. Gunners aboard the target starship also take a –2 penalty to gunnery checks during this round.
Insidious Electronics: Your electronic attack triggers devastating side effects on the target starship. You also gain the critical effect of either the activate ECM, scan, or target system science officer action (your choice).
Lock On: Your weapon lock greatly improves your gunners’ accuracy. Until the start of the next round, any attacks by your starship score a critical hit on a natural roll of 19 or 20.
Recall Beacon: You coordinate your starship’s teleportation flawlessly. Upon moving to the warp puck’s hex, your starship can turn to face any direction before starting to move.
Scan: Your insightful scans reveal a weakness in a random quadrant of the targeted starship. The next time one of your starship’s weapons deals damage to the targeted starship’s Hull Points, it has a 25% chance to also deal critical damage to a random system.
Target System: Your sensors keep a continuous lock on the enemy starship. The effects of target system last until the start of the next round.

Open Crew Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 43
Lead Boarding Party: Your assault team inflicts devastating damage to a nearby system. You inflict critical damage to an additional starship system, determined randomly.

Starship Chases

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
Sometimes, when danger threatens a starship crew, their best bet is to turn tail and flee rather than stay and hope that pure firepower can win the day. Other times, the PCs’ ship might be the predator in pursuit of prey. Whether you’re being hunted by a gargantuan space beast, pursuing an alien starship, or racing rivals to the score of the century, sometimes you’ll want an alternative to starship combat to capture the tension and grandeur of a thrilling chase.
This section introduces a narrative-focused system for running starship chases. Rather than using a combat grid, these starship chase rules place more emphasis on dynamic interactions among the involved ships and their environment. Above all, a starship chase should focus on the cinematic elements of a tense, high-stakes contest between speeding starships.

Starship Chase Overview

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
Below is a brief summary of how starship chases work.
  • A starship chase takes place over a series of 6 rounds, during which PCs are attempting to flee, pursue, or race an opposing ship or ships. (The GM can adjust the exact number of rounds, per Designing a Starship Chase on page 47.)
  • Each round, the GM presents an obstacle the PCs must overcome, and then the PCs select a single chase action for their starship and attempt any associated skill check.
  • After 6 rounds, the starship chase ends in success or failure, depending on the number of successful chase actions the PCs take. Other effects, such as damage to Shield Points and Hull Points, also depend on this outcome. A chase can also end in failure early if a ship takes a number of hits dependent on its size category (see Ending a Starship Chase on page 46).

Chase Rounds

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
At the beginning of each round of a starship chase, each character can switch to a different starship role (or assume a role if they didn’t already have one). A character can switch to the captain or pilot role only if that role would otherwise be vacant (or if the character currently in that role is unable to take actions).
Once every character has chosen a starship role, the GM can present an obstacle. The PCs then decide together which chase action the starship will take this round and which characters will attempt the skill checks associated with both the obstacle (if present) and the chase action, in that order. Chase actions are presented starting on page 45.

Obstacles

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
Each round, the GM can present one of the obstacles below. GMs can also create their own obstacles tailored to a particular setting or chase, selecting crew roles appropriate for those actions.
Each obstacle lists the crew members who can attempt a skill check to overcome it. Those crew members can use one of the skills listed in Table 2–1: Starship Chase Skills (page 46) to attempt to overcome the obstacle. Succeeding at skill checks to overcome obstacles doesn’t count toward the PCs’ total number of successes when determining the success or failure of the starship chase. To determine chase CR and skill check DCs, see page 47.

Arcane Warp (Magic Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
Space-time anomalies can cause all sorts of problems during a chase unless an apt magic user can bend reality back into shape.
Failure: The crew’s next chase action check takes a –2 penalty.

Debris Cloud (Gunner, Pilot)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
A cloud of debris—whether from a defeated opposing ship, the environment, or some other source—obfuscates the path forward and presents immediate danger.
Failure: Take 1 hit.

Electromagnetic Interference (Engineer, Science Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
A field of electromagnetic energy interferes with the ship’s sensitive equipment at a critical moment.
Failure: The next engineer or science officer check (whichever comes first) takes a –2 penalty.

Emplacement (Engineer, Gunner, Pilot, Science Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
Whether in the form of a turret or ground-based anti‑air forces, threats from outside the chase can interfere with its progress.
Failure: Take 1 hit.

Energy Spike (Chief Mate, Engineer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
Too much of a good thing can be destructive—and energy surges are a prime example.
Failure: Take 1 hit.

False Alarm (Captain, Chief Mate)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
A failing sensor or damaged system sounds a distracting alarm or even impedes the normal function of other systems, requiring someone to turn it off—or possibly even destroy it.
Failure: The crew’s next chase action check takes a –1 penalty.

Geyser (Pilot, Science Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 44
A geyser might be natural (scalding water or liquid metal) or a deliberate venting of superheated plasma. Either way, dodging or predicting it is the only way to avoid taking damage.
Failure: Take 1 hit.

Hangers On (Chief Mate, Engineer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
Whether grappling hooks with cables or the vines of some massive flora, having detritus attached to the hull increases drag and can interfere with weapon functionality.
Failure: The next Piloting check takes a –2 penalty.

Local Intervention (Captain)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
Law enforcement, gutsy locals, or other meddlesome third parties sometimes interject themselves into a chase and might be talked down from interfering.
Failure: The crew’s next chase action check takes a –2 penalty.

Magical Anomaly (Magic Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
A sudden pocket of abnormal magical energy can interfere with a magic officer’s best-laid plans.
Failure: The next magic officer check takes a –2 penalty

Misdirection (Captain)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
Open comms or a loud broadcast speaker might allow an enemy to taunt or intimidate a starship’s crew during a chase, but a clever retort or inspiring speech from the crew’s captain can mitigate such distractions.
Failure: The crew’s next chase action takes a –2 penalty.

Narrow Pass (Gunner, Pilot)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
A sudden reduction of available flight space presents a choice: blast a way through or find a way to fit.
Failure: Take 1 hit.

Offensive Spell (Magic Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
Powerful spellcasters might throw up convincing illusions or dangerous effects to impede their pursuers or prey, but a magic officer on their toes might be able to counter such magic.
Failure: The crew’s next chase action check takes a –2 penalty.

Rogue Meteoroid (Gunner, Magic Officer, Pilot)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
While the smallest meteoroids offer no real threat to modern spacecrafts, a ship might still encounter the occasional space rock large enough to pose a significant threat.
Failure: Take 1 hit.

Stall (Chief Mate, Engineer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
An engine stall can happen at any time during a frantic chase, putting a starship in dire straits—even if only momentarily.
Failure: The next Piloting check takes a –2 penalty.

Turbulence (Pilot)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
While no chase is exactly a smooth ride, particularly rough atmosphere or fancy maneuvering during a chase can make it difficult for the chief mate to get exactly where they need to be, for a magic officer to properly focus, or for a gunner to lock on to their target.
Failure: The next chief mate, gunner, or magic officer check (whichever comes first) takes a –2 penalty.

Chase Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 45
These are the actions available to a starship’s crew during each round of a starship chase, after the GM has presented an obstacle. No chase action can be taken two rounds in a row. Characters also can’t attempt an obstacle check and take a chase action in the same round.
Each action notes the crew members that can attempt the action; those crew members use one of the skills listed in Table 2–1: Starship Chase Skills to attempt a skill check. Each action includes any consequences for success or failure. GMs can also create their own chase actions tailored to a particular setting or chase, selecting crew roles appropriate for those actions.

Table 2–1: Starship Chase Skills

Starship Roles Skills
Captain Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate
Chief Mate Acrobatics, Athletics
Engineer Engineering
Gunner Piloting
Magic Officer Mysticism
Pilot Piloting
Science Officer Computers
A gunner can substitute their base attack bonus for their ranks in Piloting when attempting a Piloting check.

Table 2–2: Skill Check DCs

CR Average DC DC Hard DC
1 11 16
2 13 18
3 14 19
4 16 21
5 17 22
6 19 24
7 20 25
8 22 27
9 23 28
10 25 30
11 26 31
12 28 33
13 29 34
14 31 36
15 32 37
16 34 39
17 35 40
18 37 42
19 38 43
20 40 45

Covering Fire (Gunner)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
Peppering an enemy ship with bullets or laser fire can force its pilot to take suboptimal evasive maneuvers, giving the firing ship a chance to catch up or bug out.
Success: The crew gains 1 success.

Create Obstacle (Chief Mate, Engineer, Magic Officer, Science Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
Whether by jettisoning junk, igniting a pocket of volatile gas, or summoning a cloud of technomagical nanites, a crew can put a dangerous hazard in the path of their opponent.
Success: The crew gains 1 success.

Environmental Cover (Pilot)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
A daring pilot might choose to fly much too low to the ground, enter a twisting canyon, or even brave an asteroid field in order to gain an advantage.
Success: The crew gains 1 success.
Failure by 5 or More: The starship takes 1 hit.

Evaluate Weakness (Captain, Science Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
Even in the heat of a tense chase, a canny crew can use intuition or equipment to zero in on a target’s vulnerabilities, giving them a leg up on their next move.
Success: The crew’s next chase action gains a +2 bonus, and if it would result in 1 success, it results in 2 successes instead.
This action can’t be used again during this chase.

Negotiate Obstruction (Gunner, Science Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
Whether a force field or a civilian starship convoy, unexpected obstructions can be a bane or a blessing. A crew might blast or hack their way through a closing hangar bay door at the last minute or weave their way through the docking bays of a busy spaceport.
Success: The crew gains 1 success.
Failure by 5 or More: The starship takes 1 hit.

Outmaneuver (Pilot)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
A good pilot has a bevy of tricks up their sleeve, from a nosedive to a hard turn to a trusty barrel roll. Of course, getting too fancy runs the risk of pushing a ship beyond its breaking point.
Success: If the crew’s next chase action would result in 1 success, it results in 2 successes instead.
Failure by 5 or More: The starship takes 1 hit.

Outspeed (Chief Mate, Engineer, Magic Officer)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
A motivated crew can give the engines all they’ve got, either by pouring in extra fuel or magically boosting them, and gain just enough distance to outpace—or close in on—their opponent.
Success: The crew gains 1 success.
Failure by 5 or More: This action can’t be selected again during this chase.

Ending A Starship Chase

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 46
A starship chase ends after 6 rounds or after a ship has taken a number of hits dependent on its size category (4 for a Tiny ship, 5 for a Small ship, or 6 for a Medium or larger ship), whichever comes first. If the chase ends due to the PCs’ ship taking too many hits, the chase is a failure. The GM determines what happens at the end of the starship chase, based upon the number of successful chase actions taken by the PCs. Table 2–3: Chase Outcomes provides the typical results for a starship chase. These are expressed in general success or failure, the percentage of Shield Points and Hull Points that the ship loses, and how many systems (determined randomly) that gain the wrecked critical damage condition. The GM can adjust these outcomes as needed for their adventure; failure need not mean destruction. For example, if the PCs are fleeing a squad of Azlanti fighter ships but manage only 2 successes, they might still escape—just barely—but their failure might mean they are powerless to stop the Azlanti ships from going on to capture an important ally or location.

Table 2–3: Chase Outcomes

Successful Chase Actions Outcome SP Lost HP Lost Wrecked Systems
5 or more Success 0% 0 0
4 Success 10% 10% 1
3 Failure 50% 50% 2
2 or fewer Failure 100% 100% 5

Designing a Starship Chase

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
When designing a starship chase, use the following guidelines to help you build a balanced encounter. The following instructions are provided for chases with 6 checks. If you want to have a shorter chase, remove checks and adjust the outcome (see Table 2–3 above) accordingly by subtracting the required number of successes for each outcome; if you want a longer chase, add to the number of checks and required successes instead.
Determine Challenge Rating: Most starship chases should have a Challenge Rating equal to the PCs’ average party level and award XP as a combat encounter of that CR (Core Rulebook 390).
Determine Skill Check DCs: Reference Table 2–2: Skill Check DCs, using the starship chase’s CR.
Environmental Effects and Obstacles: Decide whether to include any environmental effects (see below) or custom obstacles based on the circumstances of the chase, and take note of their details.

Starship Chase Summary

Each round of a starship chase proceeds as described below.

GM Sets Obstacle
The GM picks an obstacle (either from pages 44-45 or one of their own creation), and one of the PCs attempts a check to overcome it. If the PC fails the check, the consequences are noted.

PCs Pick a Chase Action
The PCs decide on a single chase action (either from page 46 or one of their own invention, at the GM’s discretion) and one PC attempts the skill check associated with that action. Any relevant failure or success is noted and takes effect.

Chase Continues
If it isn’t the 6th round and the PCs’ ship has not taken the maximum number of hits, the chase continues with the GM setting a new obstacle.

Environmental Effects

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Some chases might take place in unusual environments or under specific circumstances that alter available chase actions or provide different results for the duration of the chase. The following are example environmental effects GMs can add to a chase to make it more variable; GMs should feel free to use these examples whole cloth in their games, create their own, or mix and match as needed to create compelling starship chases for their group.

Amateur Opponent

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Chases don’t always involve the best and brightest—a fact that a canny crew can use to their advantage.
Effect: A successful evaluate weakness action causes the crew’s next chase action to result in 3 successes instead of 2.

Cloud Cover

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Sometimes simply obscuring a visual is just what’s needed for a hasty escape—all the better when there’s little risk of taking damage from the surrounding environment.
Effect: Failing an environmental cover action does not cause the ship to take a hit.

Incorporeal Opponent

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Some particularly aberrant or ghostly enemies can ignore at least some of the laws of physics, giving them a distinct advantage against foes.
Effect: Increase the DC of the create obstacle and environmental cover actions by 5.

Innocent Bystanders

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Even those trying to get out of the way of a dangerous chase can prove a significant impediment in a high-speed situation.
Effect: Increase the DC of the negotiate obstruction action by 5.

Magic-Dampening Field

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Whether through a deliberate hindrance or an accidental anomaly, magic‑dampening fields can complicate a magic officer’s job.
Effect: Increase the DC of magic officer skill checks by 5.

Post-Combat Chase

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Starting a starship chase directly after a harrowing combat might raise the stakes and make a ship more fragile to begin with.
Effect: The PCs’ starship begins the chase with half the number of hits needed to end the chase based on its size (rounded down).

Sabotaged Engine

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
A saboteur can cause failures at the most inconvenient moments.
Effect: Failing an outspeed action results in 1 hit.

Seasoned Bounty Hunter

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
In some circumstances, a crew might find itself the target of one (or more) experienced trackers, who are used to staying on the tail of fleeing ships—or getting out of their own scrapes.
Effect: Increase the DC of the outmaneuver action by 5.

Swarming Ships

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
A crew involved with a chase that features several small craft might have a more difficult time hindering any one particular starship.
Effect: Increase the DC of the covering fire action by 5.

Volatile Atmosphere

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 47
Firing a ship’s weapons with abandon isn’t always the wisest choice, depending on the reactivity of the surrounding atmosphere.
Effect: Taking the covering fire action causes the firing ship to take 1 hit.

Additional Starship Options

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 48
Starship encounters can take many forms, and telling stories with starships can lead to exciting situations that transform or even transcend combat. The following section presents optional systems, equipment, and advice for enhancing your starship adventures. Track your crew’s locations in case of unexpected danger like a mutiny or ambush, descend upon planets in daring dives, or even amplify the dangers of starship combat by expanding on the perils inflicted by critical damage.

Crew Locations

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 48
While the exact location of each of a starship’s crew members typically has little bearing on starship combat, you still might want to know where on your ship various characters are in case of an on-board threat like a mutiny or when using other subsystems presented in this book, such as boarding (page 40) or hull ruptures (page 50).
A starship’s bridge is the most common location for the officers on a ship. With small crews, the officers often switch positions, trading off as needed. This practice is called flexing, and it allows a small crew to double up on positions when they need to do so before returning to their original roles. In addition to the combat stations on the bridge, there are also stations scattered throughout the ship, sometimes even within crew quarters. Proximity alarms usually offer sufficient warning for officers to make it to a combat station, no matter where they are on a ship.
Common locations during starship combat are described below, organized by officer role.
Captain: Captains generally monitor combat from the ship’s bridge, where they can taunt the enemy or coordinate actions with allied starships via the ship’s communications, listen to updates, and decide where their help is most needed. Good captains often take the time to know their ships inside and out, so outside of combat, they may help secure items in the hold, perform safety inspections of major equipment, or just get to know their ship and crew.
Chief Mate: Chief mates travel all over the ship, hauling heavy loads, ripping open access panels to recalibrate machinery, and assisting other crew in getting the job done. If someone has to get to a specific location on the ship fast, it’s usually the chief mate who rushes to do what needs doing. They might not know all the science behind what they’re doing, but they know the equipment and how to operate it. They are equally at home in the engine room or the bowels of a ship’s maintenance tunnels, as well as on the bridge.
Engineer: Engineers work with the power core, the Drift engines, tech labs, gunnery stations, robotic maintenance bays, and more. Like the chief mate, they might travel anywhere and everywhere on the ship. Although it’s common for them to monitor the ship’s status from an engineering room, they are also frequently on the bridge. During ship combats, they track multiple ship systems for signs of damage. Depending on what needs attention and how badly, the engineer may send automated repair bots or physically travel to a site for delicate repair work on a touchy mechanism.
Gunner: Gunners are usually found on the bridge, where they can most easily coordinate with other crew members or ask the pilot to arrange prime facing for a tricky shot. Gunnery can be done from any station on the ship, however, even within a holographic amusement chamber or the privacy of crew quarters. Most stations can provide access to all of the ship’s weapons, no matter the facing, so gunners can switch weapons easily without running from station to station.
Magic Officer: If an arcane laboratory is available, a magic officer usually operates from there, as the mystical boost provided by the laboratory greatly facilitates the officer’s work. On ships without a dedicated arcane laboratory, a magic officer likely joins the rest of the crew on the bridge. If space is limited and resources are tight, the magic officer makes do; they may use a cargo bay or even the galley, ship’s mess, or crew quarters.
Pilot: Pilots usually work from the ship’s bridge. Although it’s technically possible to pilot from any station on the ship, pilots feel most comfortable with the full set of controls and expansive view screens offered by the bridge. When off-duty, they may use simulators in a holographic amusement chamber.
Science Officer: Although science officers primarily serve on the bridge, where they can offer a stream of data and assistance to other crew members, many science officers are also backup engineers, flexing between the roles as needed. As such, they can also be found anywhere an engineer can. Out of combat, they may also be found working with dedicated systems such as science labs, mobile information networks, surveying sensors, or high-capacity comm arrays.

Orbital Drops

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 48
An orbital drop is a method of sending troops or equipment to a planet’s surface from low orbit without piloting them in a shuttle or flight vehicle. There are a number of advantages to this method: speed, relative stealth, and mitigation of the risk of enemy fire taking out significant personnel or equipment with a single lucky shot.
You can use a drop pod (page 25) to land a whole squad with equipment or vehicles and provide a structure at the landing site. You can also use smaller drop pods that are just for equipment or a single occupant. Single-occupant pods are much less expensive and don’t require dedicated expansion bays. Specially trained forces can also drop without a pod, relying on fire- and crash-resistant gear to survive their journey to the surface.

Single-Occupant Drop Pods

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 49
Although drop pods (page 25) allow a squad to arrive on the surface together, single-occupant drop pods have their own advantages. The first is cost. Since they aren’t designed to survive impact, they are fairly inexpensive. They also deal less damage to the surface when they fall, and so are most appropriate for use in areas where military forces wish to secure valuable facilities without risking their destruction. Because they are also smaller, dropping many troops at once in single-occupant drop pods helps ensure that at least some of the invading force will evade surface-based weapon fire, since they’re smaller, more dispersed targets. The most common single-occupant drop pods are armor upgrades.

Personal Drop Pods

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 49
These are single-use armor upgrades that provide protection for one orbital drop. When activated, the pod forms a transparent cocoon that provides full protection from the fire damage caused by atmospheric reentry and from the bludgeoning damage of the final impact. The pods also come with thrusters that allow their users to make small maneuvers toward a chosen landing site. This allows those dropping to avoid trees or other ground-based hazards. After the drop, the burnt-out pod automatically detaches, leaving the armor upgrade slot free once more. Stealth drop pods allow users to use their Stealth skill to oppose the Perception checks of ground-based observers and sensors. Invisibility drop pods use advanced light-refraction and heat-dissipation technology to provide full invisibility during the drop.

Orbital Drops without a Pod

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 49
The dangers of an orbital drop include fire damage caused by atmospheric reentry and 20d6 bludgeoning damage from the impact at the end of the drop. This bludgeoning damage is halved in low gravity, doubled in high gravity, and tripled in extreme gravity.

Table 2–4: Atmospheric Reentry Damage

Environmental Conditions Fire Damage pre Round
Thick atmosphere 3d6
Normal atmosphere 2d6
Thin atmosphere 1d6
No atmosphere
High momentum +2d6
Average momentum +1d6
Slow momentum –1d6


Table 2–5: Personal Armor Upgrades

Upgrade Level Price Slots Armor Type Bulk
Basic drop pod 2 200 1 Any 1
Stealth drop pod 5 500 2 Any 1
Invisibility drop pod 10 3,000 2 Any 1

Starship Damage and Repair

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 50
The following are optional rules you can use to make starship combat more exciting and emphasize the role of engineers. Not every combat needs to employ power core breaches or explosive decompression, but including them occasionally in a tough fight can keep starship combat engaging and fresh for your players.

Hull Ruptures

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 50
Hull ruptures occur when enemy fire or breaching weapons break through a section of hull, exposing the interior of a ship to the void of space. In game terms, this could occur anytime a starship takes critical damage to its life support system. A hull could also rupture as a result of an environmental hazard (page 134) that damages the ship enough to trigger a critical threshold.
To determine where the hull breach occurs, roll randomly among the rooms that border the side of the ship that was hit. The hull is breached in that room, with its space-facing side exposed to a vacuum. If characters are in the room, they suffer the effect of atmospheric decompression (see below). If no characters are in the room, roll randomly for potential loss of cargo or anything that isn’t bolted down.

Atmospheric Decompression

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 50
The first effects of a ruptured hull are dropping room pressure and massive winds that buffet the characters. All characters in a room with a ruptured hull, regardless of whether they have personal environmental protections, immediately take 3d6 bludgeoning damage as the air in the room pours into the void of space. Next, each creature must prevent itself from being swept out into space. They must attempt a DC 15 Reflex save to either engage the magnetic locks on their armor’s boots or grab on to a bolted piece of furniture. Jump jets, jet packs, flight, or anything else that enables characters to maneuver in zero gravity provide a +1 circumstance bonus to this save.
The dropping room pressure causes immediate exposure to the environmental hazards of being in a vacuum (Starfinder Core Rulebook 394). Characters with armor, void adaptation, or any other ability that enables them to survive in a vacuum are unaffected. Instances of crew being trapped unarmored during a hull breach are relatively rare. Proximity alarms warn of incoming ships, asteroids, and other environmental hazards, so most crew get the opportunity to engage armor seals long before hull ruptures happen.
A bigger problem for some characters is dealing with their ship’s safety protocols that trap them in harm’s way. Automated systems on many starships immediately seal off rooms that have a hull breach in order to protect the environment of the rest of the ship. Seals can usually be overridden with a successful DC 10 Computers or Engineering check at the doors or from the bridge, but this often requires first sealing off rooms deeper within the ship to create a makeshift airlock into which the trapped crew members can escape.

Repairing Hull Ruptures

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 50
Some ships have automated repair drones that can repair bulkheads or other systems. Repairing or reallocating shields in a quadrant that has suffered a hull breach stops the loss of cabin pressure and exposure to vacuum long enough for repair drones to provide a temporary fix.

Loss of Cargo

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 50
Most ship crews stow the majority of their items and cargo securely, and furnishings tend to be bolted or built into the ship. Still, anything that causes a hull rupture can also cause those precautions to be undone. To see if cargo or items are lost, roll on the following table. If items are lost to decompression, a starship’s crew can perform a normal scan to find them again so long as the ship stays near where the breach occurred. The DC for such a check is 15, though it may be higher or lower at the GM’s discretion to account for mitigating factors or complications. If the ship moved after the breach, scans to find lost items take a –5 penalty; if the pilot performed stunts like a barrel roll or a flip and burn, the penalty increases to –10. Most recovered cargo is still safe in its container. GMs can rule that certain types of cargo (fragile items, live plants, and the like) are irreparably damaged.

Table 2–6: Cargo Loss Table

D% Extent of Cargo Loss
1–25 No effect
26–50 1d4 items of an item level lower than 5 are broken.
51–75 One item of item level 5 or higher is broken.
76–100 Complete loss of one container of cargo.

Power Core Breaches

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 51
Power core breaches occur when a catastrophic failure of one key system causes numerous cascading failures elsewhere. The exact nature of the failure can vary, depending on the power core. Reactors can overheat, antimatter can leak, and mystical elements can escape containment and start wreaking havoc elsewhere in the ship. The cascading reactions caused by the key system failure can range from deadly levels of radiation being released into the ship to an explosion of energy that might utterly destroy the vessel.
Because of the safety features built into most ships, breached power cores are rare. Simply reaching the wrecked condition in starship combat does not generally cause a power core to be breached. The most common cause for core breaches is sabotage. Saboteurs might infiltrate a spaceport crew and undermine a ship undergoing repairs or upgrades. Spies might stow away on a large ship, destabilize the core, and flee in one of the ship’s shuttles. Or sometimes, a ship runs afoul of gremlins or other malefactors intent on destruction. The second-most common cause for breach stems from self-destruct systems (Core Rulebook 300), some of which trigger catastrophic reactions in a ship’s power core in order to completely destroy the vessel.
It is also possible that the crew of a ship without a self-destruct system might attempt to destroy their own vessel in order to eradicate a monster or contagion that has invaded their ship. Such actions usually require an entire bridge crew to simultaneously and successfully perform intricate procedures in order to disable safety features and destroy their own vessel.

Aborting the Sequence

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 51
Fixing a power core breach in progress and interrupting cascading failures is never an easy task, and it’s not a situation that can be fixed with a single skill check. But once the power breach is detected, the bridge crew can work together to prevent a complete meltdown of their core.
Minor Meltdowns: For a minor meltdown, where the core breach is a side note to a larger story, the efforts to contain the breach should take 3 rounds, starting when the breach is first detected by the crew. Emphasize that the clock is ticking and that PCs can each attempt only three skill checks to save the system. If they are successful, the crew prevents the core breach from going critical and has time to fully repair it. If they fail, the crew has just enough time to eject the power core and save the ship. The crew is then stuck in that location on minimal life support until rescued.
The DC of each skill check is equal to 15 + 1-1/12 × the ship’s tier. Set the number of successes that the party needs to stop the meltdown at 2 × the number of party members. Relevant skills can include any or all of the following, as well as related Profession skills.
  • A character using Computers or Mysticism can scan for failing systems.
  • A character using Engineering can fix failing systems or prevent a system failure in one location from cascading into the next.
  • A character using Athletics or Acrobatics can reach systems by exceptional means, such as those outlined in the chief mate role (Character Operations Manual 146).
Crew members can aid each other or roll their own checks, and the Captain can encourage as normal with Diplomacy or Intimidate. Class abilities like quick patch can allow a character to achieve two successes with a single check. In addition, any character who casts a spell of 1st level or higher that repairs tech, such as make whole, automatically earns one success.
Major Meltdowns: In cases where the core breach is the main plot point, you might require a more involved team effort to save the ship. One way to do this is to add enemies (such as enemy boarders) who are trying to prevent the party from succeeding in saving their ship. For a group that loves combat, you can have the party fight off waves of enemies between each successive skill check, building the tension as the clock ticks down. You might instead require one or two additional successful skill checks to represent the increased danger.

Starship Combat Scale

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 51
Starships range from tiny single-pilot fighters to colossal vessels employing hundreds of crew. A Small ship can easily fit within the hangar bay of a Gargantuan or larger vessel. How, then, do you adjust for different ship sizes within a starship combat?
One of the best ways to set the scale of your combat is to determine what sort of terrain you want on the map. In fights with no appreciable terrain, the scaling hardly matters. There’s enough space in a starship hex for each ship (even ultranoughts). However, when there is an object of known size desired as terrain, you may wish to scale accordingly. For example, in a dogfight between fighters over an ultranought, the Supercolossal ship becomes terrain instead of a separate vessel.
Close Combat—1,000 Feet per Hex: This scale is most appropriate for Medium and smaller ships. When using this scale, the action is focused on these ships’ maneuvers around larger obstacles. This scaling allows the GM to position asteroids, space stations, and derelict bits of space debris as terrain to add interest and challenge to a ship combat. At this scale, a Large ship would just barely fit in a single hex, while bigger vessels might fill a significant portion of the map and become abstract terrain or an environmental hazard of their own.
Standard Scale—10 Miles per Hex: This is a default scaling used in most combats. It allows even Gargantuan ships to fit within a single hex. Absalom Station or the Idari would fill a single hex, but there could be larger stations that encompass multiple hexes. At this scale, most planets would completely fill the map and could be depicted only if placed at an edge.
Fleet Actions—100 Miles per Hex: This scaling allows for massive multi-ship battles on a truly epic scale, with enough space for a small planet like Aballon or Apostae to fit on the map. A planet the size of Castrovel would fill most of the map but still leave room for some starship action from an invading force around the edges.
Feel free to adapt your own scaling to fit the requirements of your game, but note that weapon ranges, starship speeds, and other hex-based statistics shouldn’t change with the scale, in order to maintain the balance of the starship combat system.

Starships in Atmosphere

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 52
Whether the steamy air of Castrovel or the breathtaking clouds of Bretheda, all atmospheres consist of gases that generate large amounts of heat when objects—such as starships—pass through them at incredible speeds. While a starship’s shields can often protect it from everyday amounts of friction, it is nevertheless unwise for starships to accelerate to the point where this protection is insufficient. Beyond this common threat to a starship’s integrity, other types of atmospheric hazards require a deft crew to negotiate without the ship suffering dangerous conditions and effects.

Atmospheric Friction

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 52
Atmospheric friction can quickly tear apart starships of even the highest tier, and it is as dangerous to small, lightly armored starships as it is to massive warships. The amount of friction generated by a starship is determined by the friction level of the layer of atmosphere that the starship is traveling through. An atmosphere’s friction level is an abstraction of the atmosphere’s density and the amount of debris in the air.
For the purposes of this system, atmospheres have five distinct layers, classified by similarities in temperature and density. While the names and exact properties of these layers vary on different worlds, an atmosphere’s layers generally become denser the closer one gets to a planetoid’s surface. The greater an atmosphere’s density, the slower a starship must move through it in order to avoid taking damage from friction between the starship’s hull and the atmosphere’s molecules. Table 2–7: Atmospheric Friction summarizes the effects of atmospheres based on the thickness of each of the atmosphere’s layers; “highest” refers to the layer furthest from a planetoid’s surface while “lowest” refers to the layer closest to a planetoid’s surface.
When a starship moves faster than its maximum safe speed in an atmosphere layer, it takes Hull Point damage equal to the starship’s tier × the atmosphere’s friction multiplier for every hex moved that round beyond the starship’s maximum safe speed (see the below table for these calculations). This damage is dealt to the starship’s forward quadrant.

Table 2–7: Atmospheric Friction

Atmosphere Layer Maximum Safe Speed Friction Multiplier
No Atmosphere Thin Normal Thick
Highest 7 1-1/2 1-1/2
Second-highest 5 1-1/2 1-1/2 2
Third-highest 3 1-1/2 2 2
Fourth-highest 2 2 2 3
Lowest 1 1-1/2 2 3 4

Additional Hazards

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 52
In addition to friction, some atmospheres have unique properties that present additional challenges. The GM determines which hazards, if any, are present in a given hex. These conditions can permeate the entirety of a planetoid’s atmosphere, or they might be limited to specific regions. The GM should determine the prevalence of each hazard based upon the unique properties of each planet and its weather patterns, if it has any. Hazards should be played out in starship combat mode.

Hazard Tier and XP

When present during starship combat, a significant hazard might shape the outcome of the battle. As a result, the GM might decide to award PCs additional XP for surviving such a starship combat, granting the PCs XP as if they had beaten an encounter one step more difficult than represented by the challenge level (Core Rulebook 326).

Damaging Atmospheres

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 52
Particularly alien atmospheres sometimes have properties that cause them to eat away at a starship’s hull, bypassing any shields that the starship might have. Examples include corrosive atmospheres, atmospheres with extreme heat or pressure, or even atmospheres that precipitate jagged shards of silicon at velocities sufficient to slice through a starship’s hull.
Each time a starship moves through a hex containing a damaging atmosphere, it takes Hull Point damage equal to its tier. This is in addition to any damage the starship takes due to friction.

Electric Storms

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 52
Oftentimes atmospheres become charged with electricity as the atoms that make up atmospheric gases transfer electric charges between one another, resulting in deadly bursts of lightning. At the end of each helm phase, the GM rolls d% for each starship to determine whether lightning strikes that starship. The chance that lightning strikes a starship is determined by the hazard’s severity (see Table 2–8: Electric Storms). If a lightning strike occurs, the starship’s pilot must attempt a Piloting check to avoid the hazard (the DC is determined by the hazard’s severity; see Table 2–8). If the pilot fails the check, the starship takes damage equal to 1d6 × the starship’s tier. This damage is dealt to a random quadrant of the starship (roll 1d4: 1—forward; 2—port; 3—starboard; 4—aft).

Table 2–8: Electric Storms

SEVERITY STRIKE CHANCE DC
Light 25% 18
Moderate 50% 23
Severe 75% 28

Ice Storms

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 52
Frigid atmospheres can generate ice crystals when water droplets in the atmosphere contact a solid object, such as a starship. In sufficient quantities, this results in key systems of the starship rapidly freezing over. At the end of the helm phase, a starship’s pilot and science officer must each attempt a skill check (Piloting for the pilot, Computers for the science officer). The DC for this check is determined by the hazard’s severity (see Table 2–9: Ice Storms).
If the pilot fails their check, the starship’s engines are glitched until the end of the next helm phase. This increases to malfunctioning if the pilot failed their check by 5 or more, or wrecked if they failed by 10 or more.
If the science officer fails their check, the starship’s sensors are glitched until the end of the next helm phase. This increases to malfunctioning if the science officer failed their check by 5 or more, or wrecked if they failed by 10 or more.

Table 2–9: Ice Storms

SEVERITY DC
Light 15
Moderate 20
Severe 25

Obfuscating Atmospheres

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 53
Atmospheres often interfere with a starship crew’s ability to perceive the area they’re flying through, usually due to cloud coverage, precipitation, atmospheric density, or unusual weather patterns. An atmosphere with the obfuscation hazard imposes a penalty on gunnery and Piloting checks, as well as on Computers checks that use the starship’s sensors. This penalty is determined by the severity of the obfuscation (see Table 2–10: Obfuscation).

Table 2–10: Obfuscation

SEVERITY CHECK PENALTY
Light —1
Moderate —2
Severe —4

Toxic Atmospheres

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 53
Atmospheres that are inherently toxic normally pose little danger to a starship’s crew, as a starship’s life support systems include pressure-sealed interiors that keep atmospheric toxins at bay. But a compromised system increases the chance that a toxic atmosphere will affect a starship’s crew. At the end of starship combat, if a starship is flying in a toxic atmosphere and its life support systems have a critical damage condition, roll d% to determine whether the toxic atmosphere affects the starship’s crew. The chance that this occurs depends on the severity of the critical damage condition, as follows: glitching—25%, malfunctioning—50%, wrecked—90%. All breathing creatures within the starship are affected by the atmosphere’s toxicity as normal (unless they have protection, such as from environmental protections from armor or the benefits of life bubble).

Windstorms

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 53
Atmospheres are ever-changing, ever-moving environments in their own right, capable of wreaking havoc upon the plans of even the best starship pilots. When piloting in a windstorm, a starship’s pilot attempts a Piloting check at the beginning of the helm phase to navigate the treacherous currents. The DC of this check is based on the storm’s severity (see Table 2–11: Windstorms). If the pilot fails this check, the starship’s speed is reduced by half and the distance it must move before turning increases by an amount based upon the severity of the windstorm (see Table 2–11); both effects last until the end of the round. In addition, regardless of the result of the check, at the end of the starship’s movement, the GM rolls 1d6 and compares it to the starship’s current facing (roll 1d6: 1—forward; 2—forward-starboard; 3—aft-starboard; 4—aft; 5—port-aft; 6—forward-port). The GM then moves the starship 1 hex in the resulting direction.

Table 2–11: Windstorms

SEVERITY DC TURN INCREASE
Light 20 1
Moderate 25 2
Severe 30 3

Squadron Combat

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 54
Rather than unite as the bridge crew of a single vessel, starfarers may elect to field multiple starships in pitched battle. Such squadrons lack the firepower of a larger starship, yet they allow for greater independence, complex teamwork, and unparalleled strategy. This section presents additional rules and options for squadrons in starship combat. These squadron rules are intended primarily for PC use, though NPC-operated starships can also use the new actions, stunts, and upgrades that appear in this section.

Squadron combat is an alternative to the PCs all crewing a single, larger starship. Each PC (or small set of PCs) designs their own starship of a lower tier; these ships’ combined power should be comparable to that of a single starship. With some exceptions, squadron design and combat work the same as normal starship design and combat (Core Rulebook 290–305, 316–327).

Losing a Ship

Bullets, missles and plasma fly fast and free when starship squadrons engage. Due to their smaller size and crew, squadron starships often have lesser defenses than a single vessel, meaning one or more of the PCs’ starships might be disabled or even destroyed during combat. PCs aboard disabled starships typically take no damage, and so long as their comrades are victorious, the PCs and their disabled starships can be recovered and repaired (Core Rulebook 321–322).

Destroyed Starships: If a starship is destroyed, each crew member takes 1d20 damage per tier of the enemy that destroyed the starship or CR of the hazard (e.g. 4d20 damage for a tier 4 starship). If the effect has no tier or CR, default to the squadron tier. Any crew reduced to 0 HP as a result can use Resolve Points to stabilize (Core Rulebook 250–251), and these survivors can be recovered after the battle. Additional damage to the destroyed starship damages the crew again, as above.

Depending on the campaign, a destroyed starship might be replaced free of charge—though the PCs might earn less XP from the encounter. A destroyed starship might instead have to be replaced through a quest or by capturing an enemy vessel (which the player should redesign to fit the squadron’s tier). As a last resort, consider letting a PC replace their starship upon gaining a level and expending a number of credits equal to the typical wealth granted by an encounter of their new level (see Table 11–4 on page 391 of the Core Rulebook).

Building A Squadron

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 54
Use these guidelines to design a squadron. Except where noted, building squadron ships is identical to building a single starship.

Conceptualize: Start by deciding how many starships are in the party’s squadron and who is most likely to operate them. Usually, the number of starships shouldn’t exceed the number of PCs, though the PCs could recruit NPC pilots to expand their squadron.

Determine Squadron Tier and Assign Starship Tiers: The squadron’s tier is equal to the PCs’ average party level (APL), which is determined by totaling the PCs’ levels and dividing by the number of PCs. The number of starships and the squadron’s tier determine the individual starships’ tiers, per Table 2–12.

Table 2–12: Squadron Starship Tier

NUMBER OF STARSHIPS STARSHIP TIER
2 APL – 1
3 APL – 2
4 APL – 3
5 APL – 4
6 APL – 5


Build Starships: The PCs design their squadron starships following the design rules on pages 293–305 of the Core Rulebook. Because of the minimum crew requirements for larger starships, squadron starships are almost always Medium or smaller. A Tiny squadron starship always has capacity for an escape pod expansion bay, even though the starship would otherwise lack expansion bay space.

The GM may elect to build one, some, or all of the starships in advance if the campaign requires that PCs operate standard-issue ships or premade vessels (such as in a military campaign with standardized starships).

Design the HQ (Optional): Many squadrons consist of starships too small or claustrophobic for long-term use. Instead, these starships regularly dock within a larger flagship that serves as the team’s headquarters (HQ). The HQ is primarily a utility vessel built with the heavy freighter or carrier base frame. The HQ’s effective tier equals the squadron tier, and it gains only 25% the number of starship Build Points normally granted to a starship of its tier. However, the cost of its base frame and any hanger bay or shuttle bay expansion bays is only 10% the normal cost (minimum 1 each). The HQ must be outfitted with enough hanger bays or expansion bays to accommodate the entire squadron. The HQ can combine three shuttle bays to accommodate a single Medium starship. In addition, the HQ’s minimum crew is reduced to four, and it loses all weapon mounts except a single turret with a mount for a light weapon.

An HQ is a good fit for a squadron piloted by independent adventurers, giving them a place to retire between encounters and interact face-to-face. It increases the squadron’s number of Build Points available by accommodating some of the expansion bay facilities (like a medical bay or tech lab) that the smaller starships might otherwise have installed. However, it’s also an added complication. If an HQ isn’t a good fit for your group or campaign, it’s entirely possible to do without one. Alternatively, in a game where the PCs are part of a larger organization like a military or commercial expedition, there could be a much larger ship nearby that serves as their HQ but is run by NPCs.

Details: After performing the earlier steps, the PCs should devise unifying details for the squadron, such as a visual design common to the starships or a squadron name.

Squadron Options

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 54
Individual starships in squadron combat function in much the same way as in standard starship combat, though with their small crews, they’re far more reliant on minor actions like glide and snap shot (Core Rulebook 326). The small crews also encourage regularly swapping between roles based on an individual starship’s needs.

Squadron combat introduces additional options for starship captains, more pilot stunts, and starship upgrades that emphasize teamwork.

Roles

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 54
At the start of each round during a starship combat, each character declares which role they assume for their starship. The roles and their respective actions function exactly as they would on a standard starship, except each starship in the fleet can have a character in each starship role. The exception to this rule is the captain role—only one character throughout the squadron can assume the captain role, as this character counts not only as the captain of their starship, but of the entire squadron (see below). Because starships in a squadron have a limited crew size, it’s virtually impossible for every role on every starship to be occupied simultaneously, though each starship in the squadron can purchase a virtual intelligence system (page 34) to secure an additional crew member and starship actions.

Squad Captain: Thanks to the coordinated maneuvers of and close communication between squadron starships, a squadron can have only a single captain at a time, referred to as the squad captain. A squad captain can affect any of their squadron’s crew with captain actions, such as using encourage to assist another starship’s pilot.

Instead of having their own starship, a squad captain can opt to remain in the HQ during combat, taking their captain actions to coordinate the rest of the squad’s actions from afar. However, due to the HQ’s relative distance from most encounters, this limits the squad captain’s ability to take other roles during combat. On the other hand, a PC who enjoys being a full-time squad captain doesn’t necessarily need their own starship—and having a smaller squadron increases the tier of each other starship.

Stunts

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 55
In addition to the stunts on pages 319–320 of the Core Rulebook, squadron pilots can attempt the following three stunts when performing the stunt action.

Escort

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 55
Choose an allied starship. Your starship moves up to its speed and can turn as normal. If your starship occupies a hex that is adjacent to the chosen starship at the end of the helm phase, that allied starship gains a +2 circumstance bonus to its AC and TL until the start of the next round. To perform this stunt, you must succeed at a Piloting check (DC = 10 + 1-1/2 × the chosen starship’s tier). On a failed check, your starship moves as normal. If you fail the check by 5 or more, your starship moves as normal but interferes with the chosen starship’s movement; that starship takes a –2 penalty to its AC and TL until the start of the next round.

Flank

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 55
Choose an enemy starship. Your starship moves up to its speed and can turn as normal. If your starship ends the helm phase within 5 hexes of the chosen starship, the next attack against the chosen starship, made during that round and originating from an arc not occupied by your ship, gains a +2 bonus to its gunnery check. To perform this stunt, you must succeed at a Piloting check (DC = 10 + 1-1/2 × the enemy starship’s tier). If you fail this check, your starship moves as normal but does not grant the bonus to the gunnery check.

Run Interference

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 55
Choose one active tracking projectile that is moving toward (but has not yet reached) its target. Your starship moves up to its speed and can turn as normal. If it moves through a hex occupied by the projectile, the starship attempts to interfere with the projectile’s tracking system, causing it to veer off course and take a –4 penalty to its next gunnery check to continue moving toward its target. To perform this stunt, you must succeed at a Piloting check (DC = 5 + the tracking weapon’s speed + 1-1/2 × the attacking starship’s tier) with a circumstance bonus to your check equal to the bonus to TL granted by your starship’s defensive countermeasures. If you succeed by 5 or more, you cause the projectile to detonate harmlessly, destroying it. If you fail, your starship moves as normal but does not penalize the tracking weapon’s gunnery check. If you fail the check by 5 or more, the tracking projectile immediately attacks you instead; it makes a new gunnery check against your starship’s TL, dealing damage if it succeeds and veering off course to explode harmlessly if it fails.

Squadron Minor Crew Actions

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 56
The minor crew actions below are well-suited to squadron combat.

Harrying Shot (Gunnery Phase, Minor)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 56
You fire at an opponent to apply pressure and create an opening for one of your allies. If you succeed at a gunnery check (DC = 10 + the enemy pilot’s ranks in Piloting), your next ally who fires a starship weapon at that foe before the end of the round rolls their gunnery check twice and uses the better result. If the target starship has no one acting in the pilot role and didn’t take the glide minor crew action during its last turn, the DC for this gunnery check is 10.

At 6th level, you can spend 1 Resolve Point before attempting a harrying shot. If your gunnery check exceeds the target’s AC (for direct fire weapons) or TL (for tracking weapons) by 4 or more, you also hit and deal damage to the target with the weapon.

Swift Kick (Engineering Phase, Minor)

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 56
With swift, physical encouragement, you can force a failing system to ignore its recent damage. If you succeed at an Engineering check (DC = 15 + 1-1/2 × your starship’s tier), you can select one system; that system is treated as if its critical damage condition were one step less severe for the rest of the round (wrecked becomes malfunctioning, malfunctioning becomes glitching, and a glitching system functions as if it had taken no critical damage). This check isn’t modified by penalties from critical damage to the power core; however, you can’t affect a particular system with the swift kick action more than once per combat.

Squadron Systems

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 56
The following new systems function only if the PCs spend the BP to acquire the systems for two or more of squadron ships, per Table 2–13 below.

Auto-Flight Module

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 56
An auto-flight module leverages a squadron’s data link (see below) to keep multiple starships in formation with minimal effort, with subordinate starships mimicking the maneuvers of a primary pilot. Each participating squadron starship must have its own auto-flight module and a data link system. Whenever two or more squadron starships with auto-flight modules begin a round adjacent to at least one other participating starship and facing the same direction, they are considered to be in formation, and one of the starships is designated the primary starship (the others are referred to as secondary starships).

When starships would attempt Piloting checks to determine the order in which starships move during the helm phase, starships in formation can choose to have the primary pilot attempt a Piloting check with a cumulative –2 penalty for each participating secondary starship; each starship in the formation uses that result to determine the order in which they move. When the primary pilot takes an action to move (such as fly or stunt), they can temporarily reduce their maneuverability and speed to match the worst maneuverability and speed of ships in the formation. If they do so, each secondary starship can use the glide minor crew action to mirror the primary starship’s exact movement and turns, including any special movement as a result of the primary starship’s successful stunts. However, secondary starships don’t also perform any stunts that apply to a specific enemy starship, such as flyby. Secondary starships gain only half the normal bonus to AC and TL when mirroring the evade stunt.

An auto-flight module’s cost depends on the starship’s size. For the purpose of this calculation, Tiny = 1, Small = 2, etc.

Data Link

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 56
A data link enables the rapid exchange of data between squadron ships. When two or more starships in the same squadron have this system and are within 20 hexes of each other, those starships’ computers automatically sync. Any starship in this network can calculate its sensors’ distance to a target using the distance of the starship in the network closest to the target.

In addition, if a crew member aboard a starship in the network successfully takes the scan action against an enemy vessel, all vessels in the network automatically receive the information. Any crew member that takes the target system or lock on science officer actions can choose to apply the action’s effects to a networked starship’s attacks, rather than its own. A science officer can also apply the effects of these actions to one or more additional starships by increasing the DC of the Computers check by 2 per additional starship (e.g. increase the DC by 6 to grant the bonus to four starships in the network).

Focus-Fire Algorithm

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 56
A focus-fire algorithm coordinates a squadron’s attacks, helping the ships amplify their weapons’ destructive potential. A starship can purchase and install this system only if it also has a data link.

At the start of the gunnery phase, the squadron designates one squadron starship as the primary attacker (any other starships with focus-fire algorithms are secondary starships), as well as an enemy starship as the target. If the primary gunner hits the selected target with a starship weapon that round, they grant the first secondary gunner who hits the same target before the end of the round a bonus to damage equal to the minimum damage of the primary gunner’s weapon (e.g. a primary gunner who hits with a particle beam and deals 8d6 damage grants a secondary gunner a +8 bonus to damage).

Unification Matrix

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 57
A unification matrix enables several (component) starships with this matrix to combine into a larger, more powerful (composite) starship. Starships with a unification matrix can combine and split apart only once each per combat and typically begin combat in either their component or composite forms.

Design the composite starship, whose tier equals that of a squadron starship plus 1 for each additional component ship. If at least two of the largest component starships are the same size, the composite ship must be one size category larger than those ships. Otherwise, the composite starship is the same size as the largest component starship or one size category larger, as desired.

During the engineering phase, if all of the component starships are adjacent to at least one other component starship and no more than 2 hexes away from each other, a crew member on each starship can expend a minor crew action, causing the starships to fuse and form the composite starship. Remove the component starships from the encounter. Place the composite starship in any one hex that a component starship previously occupied, facing in any direction. Add together the total Hull Point damage each of the component starships has taken, and apply that damage to the composite starship (applying critical damage as appropriate). If this would reduce its Hull Points to 0, the transformation automatically fails, returning the component starships to their original positions. Likewise, if some of the component starships don’t participate in the fusion, the process automatically fails.

Add together the component starship’s Shield Points and distribute these evenly among its four quadrants, up to the starship’s maximum SP value. The officers of the component starships can immediately reassign their roles aboard the composite starship. Finally, if any of the component starships had ongoing effects (such as the effects of taunt) or incoming tracking weapon attacks, those effects and attacks redirect and apply to the composite starship and its crew. Then proceed with the engineering phase, including the actions of the composite starship’s engineer.

At the beginning of the engineering phase, the composite starship’s engineer can use their crew action to decouple the vessel, breaking it into the component starships. One of these appears in the composite starship’s hex, and the other component starships appear in adjacent unoccupied hexes, with each starship facing the same direction as the composite starship. Apply any HP damage that the composite starship has taken evenly to the component starships (with a minimum of 1 HP remaining per starship) and split the composite starship’s Shield Points evenly between them. If the composite starship is reduced to 0 Hull Points, it automatically splits into component starships at the end of the current phase; if the composite starship would be destroyed, split the total damage evenly between the component starships, ignoring the HP minimum above.

Table 2–13: Squadron Systems

SYSTEM BP COST
Auto-flight module 3 × size category
Data link 2
Focus-fire algorithm 3
Unification matrix 10% of composite starship’s total BP

Armada Combat

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 58
When multibillion-credit organizations or nations go to war, standard starship combat quickly becomes too crowded. In armada combat, the PCs control an entire navy and make decisions that affect hundreds or even thousands of lives. PCs can use armadas to handle challenges with extraordinary stakes, from settling a dispute over a moon to defending an entire star system. This section presents rules for these massive combats, with players controlling smaller units within engagements to defeat enemy combatants, protect targets, disable the enemy flagship, or more.

Armada combat borrows many familiar elements from smaller-scale starship combat, such as navigating a hex grid, movement speed, and PC checks, but also incorporates unique elements to account for this grander scale of starship combat.

Building An Armada

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 58
Each armada is created using the same process. An armada’s tier typically matches the PCs’ average party level, and the armada gains a number of Build Points (BP) based on its tier, with which it acquires fleets and special abilities for those fleets. Each fleet costs a number of BP based on its tier, size, and special abilities, all of which contribute to the fleet’s power level. Except at the GM’s discretion, the maximum tier of any fleet in an armada is the armada’s tier + 1. Appoint one of these fleets as the armada’s flagship (page 60), which provides the armada additional benefits.

Table 2–14: Armada Build Points

TIER ARMADA BUILD POINTS TIER ARMADA BUILD POINTS
1 36 11 264
2 48 12 288
3 72 13 312
4 96 14 336
5 120 15 360
6 144 16 384
7 168 17 408
8 192 18 432
9 216 19 456
10 240 20 480

Challenges

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 58
Most armada encounters should be against armadas of lower tiers, as evenly matched armadas are likely to both suffer catastrophic damage. Use the following table as a guideline.

Table 2–15: Calculating Armada Challenge

DIFFICULTY OPPOSITION ARMADA TIER
Easy Allied armada tier — 3
Average Allied armada tier — 2
Challenging Allied armada tier — 1
Hard Allied armada tier
Epic Allied armada tier + 1


XP Awards: PCs should earn experience points for defeating enemy armadas, following the same rules as for earning XP for starship combat (Core Rulebook 390).

Building a Fleet

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 58
The statistics and definitions below define a fleet’s capabilities.

Name and Tier: This is the fleet’s name and power level. Fleets of the same tier are roughly comparable in strength but can vary based on their size and specializations. A fleet’s tier can at most be 1 higher than its armada’s tier.

Size: This is a relative measure of how many starships make up the fleet or the relative size of the primary starship in the fleet. A fleet’s size impacts its Hull Points, Shield Points, damage, and Base Cost.

Speed: This is the number of hexes a fleet can move each turn.

Maneuverability: This entry determines how quickly a fleet can turn. The maneuverability ratings and their turn distances are the same as those in starship combat (Core Rulebook 318).

Armor Class (AC): This value is used when determining whether an attack hits a fleet. It is based primarily on the fleet’s tier. A fleet with 1 or more Shield Points also gains a +1 bonus to AC against gunnery checks originating from its front arc.

Hull Points (HP): This is the total amount of damage a fleet can take before being defeated. Each fleet has 1 HP plus an additional number of HP multiplied by its tier: 3 HP per tier for Small fleets, 4 per tier for Medium fleets, and 5 per tier for Large fleets.

Critical Threshold (CT): When a fleet’s HP are reduced to this value, the fleet takes critical damage, reducing its effectiveness, per Table 2–20 on page 63. This value is always one-half the fleet’s HP (rounded down).

Shield Points (SP): This is the total amount of damage a fleet can take before losing Hull Points. Shield Points regenerate over time, per Table 2–19 on page 62. Each fleet has a number of SP equal to its HP divided by 3, rounded down.

Strong and Weak: Many fleets are especially strong against or vulnerable to other types of fleets. Against a fleet to which it is weak, a fleet takes +1 damage per damage die. Against a fleet against which it is strong, a fleet takes –1 damage per damage die.

Check Modifier: This is the modifier the fleet applies to d20 rolls when attacking, performing complex feats, or checking morale, similar to how a starship crew would use Computers, gunnery, and Piloting modifiers. A fleet’s base modifier is +1, and it increases by 1 at every odd tier above tier 1. An armada’s officers can grant a fleet a bonus to certain checks (see Officers on page 60).

Damage: This is the amount of damage a fleet deals when it hits a target.

Range: This is the range at which a fleet can fire its weapons, measured in hexes. A fleet’s range is broken into three distances: short range, long range, and extreme range. Attacks made against a target within short range take no range penalty; attacks beyond short range but within long range take a –2 penalty; and attacks beyond long range but shorter than extreme range take a –4 penalty. A starship can’t attack targets beyond its extreme range.

BP Cost: This is the fleet’s cost in Build Points (BP). BP are an abstract resource used for creating and upgrading fleets.

Special Abilities: These are the fleet’s additional properties that modify its statistics or provide additional options in combat. Most special abilities cost additional BP and can be applied only to particular fleet types, as shown in Table 2–18 on page 60.

Table 2–16: Fleet Costs

TIER SMALL BP COST MEDIUM BP COST LARGE BP COST
1 5 6 8
2 6 8 10
3 9 12 15
4 12 16 20
5 15 20 25
6 18 24 30
7 21 28 35
8 24 32 40
9 27 36 45
10 30 40 50
11 33 44 55
12 36 48 60
13 39 52 65
14 42 56 70
15 45 60 75
16 48 64 80
17 51 68 85
18 54 72 90
19 58 77 95
20 60 80 100

Table 2–17: Fleet Damage

TIER SMALL DAMAGE MEDIUM DAMAGE LARGE DAMAGE
1 1d4 1d6 1d8
2 1d6 1d8 1d10
3 1d8 1d10 1d12
4 2d6 2d8 2d10
5 2d6 2d8 2d10
6 3d6 3d8 3d10
7 3d6 3d8 3d10
8 4d6 4d8 4d10
9 4d6 4d8 4d10
10 5d6 5d8 5d10
11 5d6 5d8 5d10
12 6d6 6d8 6d10
13 6d6 6d8 6d10
14 7d6 7d8 7d10
15 7d6 7d8 7d10
16 8d6 8d8 8d10
17 8d6 8d8 8d10
18 9d6 9d8 9d10
19 9d6 9d8 9d10
20 10d6 10d8 10d10

Base Fleet Classes

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 59
A fleet’s class establishes what types of starships comprise it, as well as its base statistics.

Capital-Class Fleet

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 59
Consisting of a single immense starship, a capital fleet boasts heavy armor and utterly devastating weapons. However, these ponderous starships are slow to maneuver, and they struggle to fend off tiny attackers.

CAPITAL FLEET

Speed 4 hexes; Maneuverability average (+0 Piloting, turn 2)
Strong destroyer; Weak fighter
Range 5 hexes
Special Ability Access: array, damage threshold, EMP, flagship, point defense, self-destruct, superweapon

Destroyer-Class Fleet

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 59
Consisting of a handful of Large or larger starships, a destroyer-class fleet balances raw firepower and armor with maneuverability and versatility. Destroyer fleets often boast an array of mid-sized weapons well-suited for eliminating numerous, smaller targets.

DESTROYER FLEET

Speed 5 hexes; Maneuverability good (+1 Piloting, turn 1)
Strong fighter; Weak capital
Range 4 hexes
Special Ability Access: array, boarders, EMP, flagship, gravity mines, point defense, self-destruct

Fighter-Class Fleet

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 59
Consisting of a dozen or more Medium or smaller starships, a fighter squadron is unparalleled in speed and agility. The fighters’ numbers can quickly overwhelm larger targets.

FIGHTER FLEET

Speed 6 hexes; Maneuverability perfect (+2 Piloting, turn 0)
Strong capital; Weak destroyer
Range 3 hexes
Special Ability Access: agile, boarders, bombers, EMP, flagship, interceptors, self-destruct

Special Abilities

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 59
When creating or upgrading an armada, you can enhance one or more fleets with special abilities to expand their abilities or shore up their weaknesses. Each special ability increases a fleet’s BP cost by the amount listed, and a fleet can add only those special abilities allowed by its fleet type.

Table 2–18: Special Abilities

SPECIAL ABILITY BP COST FLEET TYPE
Array 3 Capital, destroyer
Boarders 2 Destroyer, fighter
Bombers 2 Fighter
Damage Threshold 3 Capital
EMP 3 Any
Flagship 0 Any
Gravity mines 3 Destroyer
Interceptors 0 Fighter
Point defense 2 Capital, destroyer
Self-destruct 1 Any
Superweapon 3 Capital


Array: The fleet’s weapons can damage multiple targets. During the gunnery phase, the fleet can attack up to three fleets in a single firing arc. The fleet takes a –2 penalty or –4 penalty to gunnery checks when attacking two or three fleets, respectively.

Boarders: When the fleet succeeds at a flyby stunt, a portion of its crew boards and begins damaging the enemy fleet. During the gunnery phase, the fleet attempts a bonus gunnery check to resolve the boarding party’s attack. If it succeeds, the boarders deal half the fleet’s damage and continue attacking on subsequent gunnery phases. If the gunnery check fails, the boarders are captured, and the effect ends.

Bombers: The fleet fires heavy ordinance that grants it a +1 bonus to gunnery against capital fleets, and the fleet’s attacks ignore the damage threshold ability.

Damage Threshold: The fleet’s thick armor reduces incoming damage by 1 per damage die rolled.

EMP: During the next round, when the fleet’s gunnery check exceeds its target’s AC by 5 or more, the fleet’s disruptive weaponry inflicts a random critical damage condition on its target.

Flagship: The fleet contains the armada’s flagship and serves as a command center; only one fleet per armada can have this ability. Officers assigned to this fleet can affect targets within the fleet’s extreme range with their actions, and the fleet gains additional HP equal to its tier. A fleet’s flagship ability can’t be disabled by critical damage.

Gravity Mines: Once per combat, at the end of the helm phase, this fleet can disperse gravity mines in 2 hexes, with a range of 2 hexes from the fleet. These mines activate at the beginning of the next round. While active, gravity mines slow fleets moving through the mines’ hexes and any adjacent hexes; the first time that any fleet enters an affected hex each round, the fleet must expend 2 hexes of movement. Gravity mines remain active for 3 rounds, and they can be destroyed by attacks (AC 5, HP equal to half the fleet’s tier).

Interceptors: The fleet is designed to chase and disable smaller starships. The fleet is no longer strong against capital fleets but becomes strong against fighter fleets.

Point Defense: The fleet’s close-range weapons grant it a +1 bonus to gunnery checks against fleets within 2 hexes, and its free attacks deal full damage against fleets that fail flyby stunts.

Self-Destruct: When this fleet would be disabled, it can instead be destroyed and make a free attack against one fleet in an adjacent hex.

Superweapon: When attacking, this fleet can activate a superweapon that takes a –2 penalty to its gunnery check but, if it hits, deals additional damage equal to the fleet’s tier and critical damage. Once activated, a superweapon can’t be fired again until the end of the next round.

Officers

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 60
In armada combat, the PCs are officers who direct their fleets, and they can fill major roles to influence the encounters in special ways. Each officer must be assigned to a specific fleet in the armada. A fleet can support any number of officers (though never more than one of any role at a time), and a fleet does not need an officer to function. An officer grants their assigned fleet a passive benefit based on their officer bonus (see below), and each officer can also perform one special action per round to affect a fleet or the battlefield. Officers who perform the direct, scan, target, or taunt actions during the helm phase do so immediately before or after moving the fleet to which they’re assigned.

Officer Bonuses: Many abilities refer to an officer bonus, which represents an officer’s ability to lead their subordinates, rather than the officer doing all the work themselves. An officer’s bonus applies to the officer’s fleet and equals 2 + 1 for every 6 ranks the officer has in one of their role’s associated skills; a commander can instead use their base attack bonus to calculate their officer bonus in place of their skill ranks. Officer bonuses don’t stack with other officer bonuses.

For armada combat checks that an officer must attempt to perform special actions, their modifier equals their officer bonus plus their fleet’s check modifier. Before an officer’s assigned fleet attempts a check, that officer can spend 1 Resolve Point to roll the check twice and use the better result.

Range: Officer actions have a maximum range equal to their fleet’s long range, and the actions don’t take range penalties when affecting targets. Officers assigned to the armada’s flagship can affect targets within that fleet’s extreme range.

Changing Roles: At the beginning of each round, any officers can change their roles, though an armada can have only one admiral, and a fleet can have only one of any given officer role. An officer can move to an adjacent fleet by expending their action at the beginning of the engineering phase.

Admiral

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 60
You direct the overall flow of battle, delivering key orders, timing fleet movements, and providing motivation at opportune moments. The role of admiral does not necessarily mean that you outrank the other officers or control their actions, but as the armada’s leader, you are in a position to influence your forces in unique ways. An armada can only have a single admiral.

Associated Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate

Officer Bonus: morale checks

Encourage (Any Phase): You can encourage a fleet or officer to grant them a bonus to their action. Before that fleet or officer attempts the check, you attempt a DC 10 flat check. If you succeed, you either grant your officer bonus to the triggering check, or you grant a +1 untyped bonus to the check.

Rally (Engineering Phase): You order a fleet to regroup, granting it your officer bonus to morale checks until the end of the round. If the fleet is routed (see Morale on page 63), it attempts a new morale check against the same DC that caused it to rout. If it succeeds, it is no longer routed.

Taunt (Helm Phase): You harangue or mislead an enemy fleet. Attempt a check against an enemy fleet’s AC. If you succeed, that fleet takes a penalty equal to 1 + half your officer bonus to all checks until the beginning of the next helm phase. Whether or not you succeed, you can’t successfully taunt that fleet again for the rest of the combat.

Chief Caster

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 61
You and your crew oversee the mystical rites of your fleet.

Associated Skill: Mysticism

Officer Bonus: AC against enemy gunnery checks

Conjure (Engineering Phase): Choose 1 hex and attempt a DC 10 flat check. If you succeed, your mystical crew conjures cosmic debris in that hex and all adjacent hexes that lasts until the end of the round. Any fleet that ends its turn in that area takes an amount of damage equal to your officer bonus, and any fleet attacks that pass through the affected area take a –1 penalty to gunnery checks.

Enchant (Engineering Phase): You lead your mystics in enchanting a fleet’s weapons. Choose a fleet and attempt a check against that fleet’s AC. If you succeed, that fleet’s range increases by 2, and its gunnery checks can deal critical damage on a 19 or 20. These effects last until the end of the round.

Precognition (Engineering Phase): You and your crew predict enemy movements. Attempt a DC 10 flat check. If you succeed, your admiral rolls 1d4 and adds the result to their next check to determine the order in which fleets move during the helm phase.

Chief Engineer

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 61
You command your fleet’s engineering corps, oversee repairs, and make crucial calls on when to exceed starships’ recommended performance limits.

Associated Skill: Engineering

Officer Bonus: starting and maximum Shield Points.

Boost (Engineering Phase): Choose a fleet and attempt a check against its AC. You direct the engineers aboard that fleet to augment a key system. If you succeed, you either increase the fleet’s speed by 1d2 until the end of the round, decrease the fleet’s turn distance by 1 (minimum 0) until the end of the round, add your officer bonus to the SP that fleet recovers during this phase, or add your officer bonus to the fleet’s damage rolls until the end of the turn.

Repair (Engineering Phase): Choose a fleet and attempt a check against the fleet’s AC. If you succeed, choose one of the fleet’s critical damage conditions; you direct the onboard engineers’ repairs, and the fleet ignores that critical damage condition for 1 round, plus 1 additional round for every 5 by which your check exceeded the fleet’s AC.

Chief Technician

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 61
You oversee your fleet’s computers and scientists as they direct scanners and hack enemy systems.

Associated Skill: Computers

Officer Bonus: gunnery checks

Scan (Helm Phase): You direct the fleet’s sensors to scan another fleet. Attempt a check with a +5 untyped bonus against the fleet’s AC. If you succeed, you learn the first unknown category of information from the following list. For every 5 by which you exceed the check, you learn an additional unknown category of information.

1. Basic Statistics: Fleet type, size, speed, maneuverability, tier, damage, total and current HP and SP.

2. Special Abilities: Special abilities, as well as the fleets against which the target fleet is strong or weak.

3. Officers: The names and roles of the fleet’s officers.

Scramble (Gunnery Phase): You scramble communications within a fleet. Select an enemy fleet, optionally selecting one of that fleet’s officers, and then attempt a check against the fleet’s AC. During the next round, the fleet’s chosen officer grants no passive benefit to their fleet and can’t perform any officer actions. In addition, any other fleets’ officer actions can’t affect the targeted fleet. If you don’t select an officer, scramble affects one of the fleet’s officers, selected at random.

Target (Helm Phase): Choose an allied fleet and an enemy fleet within range, then attempt a check against the enemy fleet’s AC. If you succeed, until the end of the round, the allied fleet gains a +1 untyped bonus to gunnery checks against the enemy fleet, and the allied fleet’s gunnery checks against the target deal critical damage on a 19 or 20.

Commander

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 62
You oversee a fleet directly, ensuring optimal performance. Associated Skills: Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Piloting

Officer Bonus: Piloting checks

Direct (Helm Phase): Either by issuing precise commands or by piloting a key starship yourself, you set an example that the rest of your fleet follows. Attempt a DC 15 flat check. If you succeed, you grant your officer bonus to either your fleet’s gunnery checks or its AC until the end of the round. If you fail the check by less than 5, your officer bonus is reduced to 1 for this action.

Duel (Gunnery Phase): You direct your starship to engage with an enemy officer’s starship within 3 hexes—or if your target is a capital fleet, you lead your starship in a daring attack on the enemy vessel’s bridge. Attempt a check against the enemy fleet’s AC + 5. You gain a +5 untyped bonus to this check if your armada has identified the fleet’s officers, and you gain an additional +5 untyped bonus if the targeted fleet also uses the duel action against your fleet. If you succeed and your fleet’s attack that round deals damage to the enemy fleet, the target gains the communications critical damage condition (see Table 2–20 until the end of the next round. If your attack would deal critical damage to the fleet, one of the fleet’s officers is incapacitated and provides no benefits for the remainder of the combat.

Running Armada Combat

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 62
As armada combat begins, the GM decides how far apart the armadas are from each other (3d6+5 hexes is a good default), and typically each armada can determine how its fleets are arranged so long as they maintain this distance from the enemy forces.

Rounds and Phases

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 62
As in starship combat, each round of armada combat is divided into three phases that don’t correspond to an exact amount of time: engineering, helm, and gunnery. Fleets perform specific actions in each phase, and officers can contribute only during certain phases based on their roles.

1. Engineering: During this phase, fleets prepare for their next maneuvers by repairing damage, restoring shields, and priming weapons. At the end of this phase, each fleet also automatically regains a limited number of SP based on their maximum SP values (see the table below).

Table 2–19: Shield Point Regeneration

MAXIMUM SP SP REGAINED
1–5 1d4
5–10 1d6
11–15 1d8
16–20 1d10
20+ 1d12


2. Helm: During this phase, admirals match wits, and fleets maneuver across the battlefield. At the beginning of the phase, each admiral attempts a check. The armada whose admiral’s result was the lowest must choose tactics for and move half of their active fleets (rounded up) first, followed by the next lowest, until all armadas have moved half of their fleets (or waived those fleets’ movement). The process then repeats in that order, with each armada moving the remaining half of its fleets. If an armada has no admiral, it rolls only 1d6 for its check to determine the order in which it moves. If there is a tie, the admirals in question roll another check and compare the results, with the one who rolls lowest moving first.

3. Gunnery: During this phase, fleets fire their weapons. Except for free attacks or bonus attacks from the array special ability, each fleet can attack only once per round. Fleets attack in any order, but the effects of gunnery actions are all applied simultaneously at the end of the round, meaning all fleets can fire, even if they take enough damage to be disabled during the phase. After damage is applied, if there are still combatants engaged in the combat, the next round begins, starting with a new engineering phase.

Moving

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 62
Fleets move and maneuver in much the same way as starships do in standard starship combat (Core Rulebook 317), including the rules for making turns, moving through other fleets (as though they were starships), and measuring firing arcs. Speed functions in the same way but does not provide a modifier to Piloting checks. A fleet can freely attempt one of the following stunts at the listed Piloting DCs as part of its movement: back off (DC = 10 + 1/4 × the fleet’s tier), flip and burn (DC = 15 + 1/4 × the fleet’s tier), flyby (DC = the enemy fleet’s AC), slide (DC = 10 + 1/4 × the fleet’s tier), or turn in place (no check). Any free attack performed during a flyby stunt deals half damage.

Attacking

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 62
When a fleet attacks another fleet, that action is resolved with a gunnery check during the gunnery phase. You make a fleet attack using the following procedure.

1. Range: Determine the range between the two fleets (counted in hexes). Attacks made against a target within a fleet’s short range take no penalty, whereas attacks beyond short range but within long range take a –2 penalty, and attacks beyond long range but shorter than extreme range take a –4 penalty. A starship can’t attack targets beyond its extreme range.

2. Gunnery Check: The fleet rolls a gunnery check and compares the result to the target’s AC. If the result equals or exceeds the target’s AC, the fleet hits and deals its listed damage. Otherwise, the attack misses or deals negligible damage.

Gunnery Check = 1d20 + fleet’s check modifier + officer bonus + range penalty
AC = 10 + fleet’s check modifier + officer bonus + shield bonus (front quadrant only)

3. Deal Damage: Apply damage from an attack to a fleet’s SP first, and any remaining damage to its HP. A fleet takes more or less damage from enemy fleets against which it’s weak or strong, respectively (page 58). If a fleet is reduced to 0 or fewer HP, it is disabled and floats in the direction it’s facing at half speed until repaired (after combat) or destroyed. If a fleet’s total HP damage exceeds twice its HP, it is destroyed.

Morale and Critical Damage

Source Starship Operations Manual pg. 63
Incoming damage can devastate fleets’ group cohesion and equipment, represented by morale and critical damage, respectively.

Morale: When a fleet is reduced to half its maximum HP, it must attempt a morale check (DC = 10 + 1/2 × the opposing armada’s tier). If the fleet succeeds by 4 or less, it is unaffected. If it exceeds the DC by 5 or more, the fleet is emboldened and gains a +1 bonus to all checks until the end of the next round. If it fails by 4 or less, the fleet is shaken and takes a –1 penalty to all checks until the end of the next round. If it fails by 5 or more, the fleet is routed and attempts to flee combat by the safest route possible. A routed fleet can make attacks at a –2 penalty and continues to flee either until successfully rallied by an admiral or until it has fled for 3 rounds, at which point the fleet is disabled.

When a fleet is routed, any allied fleets within 2 hexes that have half of their HP or fewer remaining must also attempt a morale check with a DC equal to the routed fleet’s AC. A fleet that succeeds at its morale check does not need to attempt further morale checks until the end of the round.

Critical Damage: A fleet takes critical damage whenever a gunnery check results in a natural 20 on the die and the attack deals at least 1 damage to the fleet’s HP. It also takes critical damage when it’s reduced to half its maximum HP. When critical damage is scored, the attacking fleet should roll 1d6 on the table below to determine which system is disrupted.

Table 2–20: Critical Damage

D6 SYSTEM EFFECT
1 Auxiliary System One of the fleet’s special abilities (selected at random) provides no benefits.
2 Communications The fleet gains no benefits from officers, and the fleet’s officers can’t affect other fleets.
3 Engines The fleet takes a –1 penalty to AC and speed.
4 Shields The fleet can’t regain SP.
5 Weapons Reduce all damage dealt by 1 per damage die.
6 Roll twice and apply both results, ignoring 6s and duplicate results.