Tuesday, July 12, 2016

More on Skills - Ship Tactics and Fleet Tactics

I've no idea if the story is any good, but that starship is FANTASTIC. I want one.
Book Five, High Guard, introduces a number of new skills. Some are not really useful (like Communications) but some are. In particular there are the sibling skills of fleet tactics and ship tactics.  Their effects are as follows, quoting from Book 5, the combat rules section:
Fleet Tactics: The skill level of the fleet commander is a modifier to the initiative
die roll. See the initiative determination step.

Ship Tactics: The skill level of a ship's (or small craft's) captain affects its
performance. Subtract one from the skill level of the captain and divide it by two,
dropping fractions. The resulting number is used as a + modifier to the ship's
effective computer level (a computer model15 is treated as a modell6). The computer must be working at at least level 1 for the modifier to apply.
Now, using the simpler Bk2 rules, the skill description here just doesn't work. Computers are central to Bk2 combat, where in Bk5 they are handled more abstractly. So, to make the tactics skills apply to Bk2, let us work them back into the Bk1 Naval character generation tables.
Move J-o-T from Advanced Education 1 to Service Skills, replacing Blade Cbt. Insert Tactics into that slot in Advanced Education 1, and replace Admin with Tactics on Advanced Education 2. If the character is Ranks 1-3 when Tactics is rolled, then note it as Ship Tactics. Characters of rank 4-6 get Fleet Tactics instead. Marines already have Tactics as a skill, and the Bk1 description refers to "training and experience in small unit tactics (including  . . . individual starships)". That sounds like Ship Tactics to me. So a Marine could serve as Tac Officer.

Fleet Tactics allows a squadron commander to lend his Tactics skill to the CO of any ship in his squadron, one per combat turn. If the ship CO already has Ship Tactics, the higher of the two skills is used.

Ship Tactics allows a ship commander (or designated Tactical officer) to apply his skill level to improve the effect of some of the ship's programs. The programs are: Predict (all), Select (all), Maneuver/Evade (all) and ECM. The referee may decide to allow Tactics-2 or better to serve in place of a program, which frees computer slots for other programs.

Example: a patrol cruiser has a model/3 computer and is running Predict-1 (+1 to hit), and Maneuver/Evade-2 (-1/2 Pilot [2]: -1). The master and commander has Ship Tactics-2. He can improve the Predict DM to +2, and improve the M/E DM to -2. Or he could leave the programs as they are and apply it to ECM, so that missiles are now defeated on a 5+ instead of 7+.
(n.b. I read the ECM program description as saying each missile is affected by ECM separately, not as a group)

The beauty of Bk2 combat is in it's very PC-scale. Their skills directly affect the combat; they matter. Bringing this skill pair into play adds to the variables already present in the rules without adding any new steps or layers. Plus it can give the PCs an advantage, which always makes the players happy.

Is this a reasonable way to import new skills?  How else could Ship or Fleet Tactics affect Bk2 combat?  Does one-for-one skill-for-DM give the PCs too much power? Should it be skill/2= DM? Comments?


  1. A bit afield, but your post gave me an optional for idea how to do task resolution using CT.
    Instead of sliding the difficulty target (e.g. simple>3, routine>7, etc.) Slide the bonus of the skill level.
    If this task is common, and everyone who knows it can do it in their sleep, you get double or triple your skill level to add to the roll. (This could be for base 8 or base 7, YMMV/IMTU).
    If this is somewhat challenging, then simple 1:1 for the skill points.
    For very challenging problems, half-skill (rounded down).
    So a skill of 1 would be effectively +2 (or more) for an easy attempt; +1 for a routine challenge; and +0, but still a skilled roll, for greater challenges.

    1. Forgot to mention, please look at Vacc Suit skill use in CT Book 1 for how the designers thought about how skills stacked.