Starship Combat 2 – Weaponry

Taskarr on an abstract sensor plot background

Tim continues from his previous article with an outline of the weapons used by the spaceships of each Antares faction in the planned game. This is intended to give some guidance as to how the ships might fight and, for future articles, their relative strengths and weaknesses.

Before we start, it’s worth noting that all distances are in inches, as with Antares, though smaller-scale games had been played using centimeters. Combat and skills resolution uses a D10, like Antares, with 1s and 10s being especially good and bad respectively.

After much experimentation, we found the most fun was gained from a fairly gritty game, so we split off some of the rules into ‘Advanced’ sections, effectively giving a fast play version for larger battles (though not fleet scale as that got boring) and a game with more involved damaage for smaller scale actions ( a few ships a side).

Stats/Shooting BAsics

A successful shot from a weapon is a hit; a hit that penetrates defences is an impact that causes damage; a successful roll by a damage party is a repair; and a Morale Test is a test of whether the crew is capable of continuing the conflict.

Antares Flotilla v0.20

In general ships have the following weaponry:

  • direct-fire ,such as mag-weapons and directed energy weaponry;
  • salvos launched from mag rails or simply dropped overboard, such as X-ordnance such as explosive missiles/torpedoes, spikes (effectively kinetic missiles), mines or even drones (perhaps best thought of as loitering munitions or stand-off weapons with a high Acc);
  • concentrated nanosphere packages or effects.

Against these are:

  • X-ordnance countermeasures (XCM) consisting of electronic or nanosphere capabilities meant to neutralise X-ordnance);
  • area defense weaponry for use primarily against launched munitions which is summed into a single, degradable, damage reduction (AD DR) capability, rather than roll for the dozens of area defense weapons a frigate might have;
  • a mix of hyperlight (or similar) armour fields and the protection afforded a ship from its gravitic annihilation (GA) drive field which is merged into a single armour value.
  • the ability for a ships to take damage, typically from internal construction techniques, abstracted into a Minor Damage Track (this acts as a threshold: once the minor damage limit is reached, then field integrity is reduced and the ship drops in armour values and, potentially, movement).

Area defence ships have extensive AD DR at the cost of main armament or other capabilities.

Direct fire weapons rely on the current Acc of a ships fire control system (FCS), whilst x-ordnance has its own guidance system so it’s own Acc. Missile Acc varies from 5 for Ghar up to 8 for the IMTel nations. A ship’s FCS capability can deteriote during a turn.

Stats affecting weapons are shots, including rapid fire (RF) weapons, damage or strike value (SV), range – effective, long and extreme – and arc of fire. Arc of fire is forward (F), used for spinal systems, port (P), starboard (S) and aft (A), though mostly the F arc is used as ships can easily shift their facing until their drives are ruined.

On an impact, a weapon’s SV is taken off greater than the target’s current minor impact damage and may cause drive/armour field reduction; on a penetrating impact (a ‘1’ and SV greater than a ship’s current armour) a damage chart check is made: a roll of D10 + defender’s armour – weapon’s SV.

Some weapons always cause penetrating impacts. Nanoswarm pods explode and disperse a dense nanopage swarm that engulfs enemy ships and uses their own mass to construct more nanophages: a slow, growing attack.

In keeping with A2’s philosophy, the range of results on a damage chart is quite wide, ranging from an increase in minor damage to targeting system degradation, bridge damage, crew or marine or passenger hits, transmat counter measure damage or even a weapon system out of action.

Weapons by faction

Following the preferred Antarean battlefield technology, there are a limited number of weapon types used by each faction. A key aspect of all the weapons is the range at which they are effective: a burst of small, kinetic shots is deadly at close range but the projectiles will be too spread out to cause much focused damage at longer ranges.

Note that by ‘fast’ or ‘slow’ we refer to a ship’s thrust and ability to change direction, not their maximum speed (which can be ridiculously high).

Algoryn ships often have a spinal mag weapon which can launch a salvo of mass-sensitive disruption warheads (MSDs) in rapid succession or missiles. The MSDs automatically cause a penetratig impact if they hit. Other weapons include ship-scale mag cannon of all types, mag AD weapons and solid construction that makes up for weaker fields than Concord or Senatex weapons. Their heavier ships are often accompanied by area defence frigates to cope with IMTel drones and Ghar ‘quantum gravity’ (QG) weapons, and also carry well-trained AI marines who can act in damage-repair parties. In general, their ships are slightly larger than IMTel ships of nominally the same class. Acc is normally 5.

Boromite ships are rare, though their ground installations and heavier mining vessels may have frag disintegrators that can destroy ships as well as asteroids. They tend to rely on mag systems and mag rails launchers firing barely-guided ‘spikes’, but sometimes aalso use powerful, short-range asteroid/fragment manipulator fields to redirect incoming ordnance or even ships!

The PanHuman Concord tend towards directed energy/plasma weapons, their larger ships having sp[inal lances – heavy directed energy weapons that place a huge demand on even an IMTel’s power generators. They use launch rails to launch nanoswarm pods, light missiles and drones and otherwise plasma weaponry for anti-ship batteries and area defence. Concord ships are fast and have Acc 6.

The thuggish ships of the Ghar do not conform to the panhuman Scout-Frigate-Cruiser-HC design approach but are based on heavy, slow and solid ships that can take a lot of punishment. They use ship scourers in an area defence mode or as relatively short-range anti-ship weapons. Their most feared weapons are their spinal QG bomb launchers and their disruptor bombs launched from rail systems. Almost all carry Ghar marines (in suits) who can help with repairs and most Ghar crew will fight. Acc is generally 5.

The Freeborn use whatever they consider most cost-effective in the role they wish it to take, and even that decision varies by House. The most common class of vessel is the trading frigate with ample holds and storage facilities, most of which have a spinal weapon of some type, typically lances or spinal x-rails throwing Algoryn MSD, heavy missiles or spikes. Secondary weapons are often mag weaponry as they can fabricate replacement ammunition readily from whatever they pick up. Domari passengers can double as crew when casualities are taken, can assist with repairs and can also act as defensive militia when fighting in boarding actions. Freeborn ships are fairly fast and Acc varies between 5 or 6.

The Isorian Senatex use spinal ‘lances’, plasma weaponry, nanoswarm launchers, light missiles and drones. For area defence, they have adapted their phaseshift technology to phase incoming missiles out of our normal frame of reference: a highly effective defence system. Senatex ships are also fast, with good armour fields, and have Acc 6.

Hope this helps in shaping your own thoughts on Antares’ space battles!

The next article in the series establishes some stat outlines and looks at the Algoryn.

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