Wednesday 8 April 2015

Delta Vector Space Game - Damage System 2.0

For those interested, here are some proposed changes I've made to damage rules for my homebrew space game. Most of rules are "general" rather  than specific as I'm just looking at the feel of the rules, rather than precise balance etc. 

I want only a few types of weapons, in order to make it easier to balance. But I want them to act quite differently.  Most notably, ranges are measured in different ways.  

LASERS.  The benchmark weapon.  The firer measures from the closest its course comes to the target ship. Loses effectiveness at range.  Varieties: pew-pew, and continuous beam

KINETICS.  These are measured from the closest the firer comes to the target’s vector marker (future location.)   Easily dodged by agile ships. Varieties:  pew-pew, continuous fire (minigun-style), and shotgun

MISSILES.  These are launched from the firer’s vector marker (future location) and attack enemy ships within/moving though a certain radius.  This means missiles act a bit like hostile terrain that should be avoided.  Varieties: multirole, swarm, torpedo, mine

Click on the photo to enlarge.  It shows how kinetic and laser weapons measure range differently. 

This shows how missiles work. Ships (a) and (b) can be attacked as they either start within or pass through the missile attack radius. Missiles will work this way (or similar fashion) to provide area "terrain"  and also emphasize the important of vector movement. 

Damage System 2.0
To hit:  A dice is compared against a target number.  If it exceeds the target number (ship size/agility), it does that many hits. (Capped at a maximum of 3 or so)    Example:  A laser battery fires.  It rolls a dice (d10) against a target number (let’s say 4).  A 6 is rolled, resulting in 2 hits.  

To damage:  A dice is compared to a target number. If it exceeds the target number (defence), it does that much damage.   Example:  The two laser hits are rolled.  Perhaps they are small lasers and use a d6.  Anyway, the TN to beat is 4 again.   The dice come up 3, and 6.  The 3 has no effect.  The 6 results in 2 damage rolls.
Damage Chart (“Systems Only Damage”)
I’m not sure if I’ll use this, or a d8 or d10 to allow more locations.  Basically each ship data card will have one and it describes the location and effect of a hit. 
Example: We roll two d6 rolls for our laser hit and consult the chart.  A ‘2’ and a ‘5’ is rolled. The boxes are ticked off.  The next turn the ship must choose to halve shields or thrust, and halves its turreted weapons.    If the roll was two ‘2’s – both hits on the same location - the second hit would mean the ship could not use its turrets at all. 

First hit
Second hit
Thrusters hit – halve thrust
No thrust
Turrets hit – halve firepower
No shooting from turrets – also roll d6 – ‘6’ ship explodes from capacitor hit
Weapon Bay hit – halve missile firepower
No missiles – also roll d6 – ‘6’ ship explodes from magazine hit
Hull Breach – penalty to all crew rolls
Hull breaks up – ship destroyed – also roll d6 – ‘6’ ship explodes from reactor breach
Hull (Power Grid) – halve thrust or shields
No shields, thrust reduced to 1
Sensors – halve detection/command range
No offensive reactions; penalty to command rolls – any special systems are knocked out
This is just an example chart and is by no means my final decision.  I quite like the “systems damage only” because each hit is meaningful. 

This is a bit more complex than my original idea.  This had only two possible locations, and didn’t need an extra “hit location” roll (I just looked to see if the original to hit roll was odds or evens).
First hit
Second hit
Weapons halved
Weapons out
Thrusters halved
Thrusters out
A third hit to any location destroyed the ship.
Since I’ve decided to halve the amount of ships, I think I might go the “grittier” approach, as it isn’t really more to remember (effects are explained as you tick it off on the card) and it’s still less recording than Full Thrust and about as complex as Warmachine (which was my design goal). 

I don't like more complication, but with less ships, I'd like to make them more individually interesting.


  1. You could expand the more complex table a little bit more actually I'd think by adding hit boxes to each entry on the table.

    Say 1 hit box per entry for ultra-light scouts, 2 for your typical frigate/destroy, and up to 4-6 for the heaviest capital ships.

    After one half of the hit boxes had been ticked off you have the first column results as above, and after all are ticked off the second column. This keeps your average ships as durable as you suggested, but makes other ships more or less durable easily.

    You could even make it so that you could by 1-2 extra hit boxes per subsystem during ship creation.

    1. Actually you could expand it so that each ship size used a different die:
      d4 for tiny little patrol boats/scouts to d12 for the biggest capital ships.

      If you wanted to got that way you'd need three standard or required components (I'd suggest engines, C&C/Sensors, and either Power or Hull), and then to design the ship you fill up the remaining 1-9 slots with weapons, special equipment, or redundant copies of the required components. (duplicate engines might be needed to allow the larger ships to achieve the same thrust as the smaller, and spares are always useful)

      And then when you are adding a component I'd allow the ship designer to choose between Fragile [1 hit box], Std [2 hit boxes], or Reinforced [3/4 hit boxes], with point cost differences.

      This would allow you to express almost all the stats for a ship in the table alone (you might want some derived stats also listed), and it seems like it would allow a fair bit of granularity without making the game too complex. You can take out individual weapons for example.

    2. The different dice for different ship sizes did occur to me. At the moment I'm trying to decide the "essential" systems as you say.

      However, I'm concerned allowing a big ship to have d12 systems vs a smaller ship with d4 systems - it makes big ships too versatile and hurts my "little ships are useful" underpinning theory. It also, kinda gives a ship 24 hit locations which potentially could mean recording 12+ hits (I'd like to minimise record keeping).

      I'm avoiding individual weapons in favour of batteries (less dice chugging) but I'm using a similar system to what you describe with a VSF/Aeronef game I'm experimenting with.

    3. One idea to minimize that - larger ship modules take up more systems slots. A "heavy" module (Like from EVE Online) could take up 3, and a medium module 2, and light modules 1. Also that might be a way to allow a dedicated "point defense" ship, a large ship only equipped with a bunch of light weapons (less range & damage, but better tracking) instead of heavy weapons (more range & damage, but worse tracking). Also an idea an idea I had as well, you could make it so that the velocity=evasion bonus works differently for different size weapons. IE d6=up to d6 evasion bonus for target vs d12=up to 12 evasion bonus for target.

    4. Perhaps to minimize that you could create a module system like EVE online. IE Heavy module = 3 system slots, Medium = 2 system slots, and light = 1 system slot? And then a module could either have multiple damage points (IE, take 1 damage on light = destroyed, medium = damage, heavy = light damage, and when two are checked off heavy damage?) or simply have 1 hit take out the entire system for minimal record keeping. In addition to that, hopefully big ships should take heavy modules, meaning a d4 light ship with 4 light modules is about the same as a d12 heavy ship with 4 heavy modules. You would just need to make sure that light is not completely worse then heavy, but heavy is still worth the premium you pay for it. Also it might run into the problem of put a heavy gun on a light ship, which isn't ideal. But heavy guns should have worse tracking then light, meaning that they would only be effective against medium-heavy ships. Also it would allow for a point defense type ship - a capitol ship with a bunch of light weapons (less range and damage, but better tracking) to defend other ships in a fleet again multiple small vessels. Anyway, just some thoughts.

    5. Sorry - my old comment didn't show up until I typed the new one...I swore I posted here before, yet it didn't show up until after I published the new comment.

  2. Not usually a fan of vector based movement (usually they're a pain in the @ss) but I'm loving your kinetics vs laser ranges.

    1. I'd like weapons that are fundamentally different in nature to ACT different. Not just a +1 or -1 at a particular range. So you'd actually go "OK, I'll use lasers for this situation as kinetics aren't optimal"

      Vector movement in this case is very easy to do, but I simply find the counters a bit messy - the vector counters littering the table are the #1 issue - it's pretty simply (I adapted the idea from the old board game Triplanetary which IMO has the simplest & best ector system ever)

  3. This became much larger than originally intended. Please bear with me.

    Instead of having one person make two rolls (hit and damage), why not have the attacker and defender each roll, and make the damage the difference? Express attack and defense as a die step (the author of Earthdawn has an excellent series of articles about the step system at, so not only do you get variable dice, but you also get die combinations that will change the bell curve. Subtract the defender's result from the attacker and apply the result to the damage chart. Both players become involved and everyone gets to roll dice, which is a win-win.

    Since weapons use different attack dice, why not have ships have different defense dice against the three different attack types? It makes each ship type more unique and introduces a nice bit of rock-paper-scissors strategy. A fast, nimble ship may be able to dodge kinetic weapons easily, but lasers (you know, traveling at the speed of light and all) can't be dodged and punch right through flimsy armor. A stealthy ship is hard for missiles to get a lock on. A ship with great close-action weapons (think of the millions of rounds of flak and fast-tracking munitions used by the new Battlestar Galactica) may put out such a huge volume of fire that missiles / bombers can't get close to it without being destroyed. Lots of different explanations for defenses that can make each ship feel unique.

  4. If a ship has shields, they have a number of points that they can use to increase a defense step. This can be allocated at the beginning of each round or at the beginning of a ship's activation, depending on how far ahead you want the players to plan. This also plays into the devolving shields rules that you wanted to incorporate, where different hits on the damage chart reduce the number of shield points available. You can also expand this into an excess power rule, where a ship can choose to push their reactor for excess power, which can be shunted into increased laser attack steps, increased shield steps, or increased thrust. The downside would be that if a ship pushes their reactor, any damage taken is marked off of the 2nd column instead of the first.

    Damage charts can be standardized across ship types, or can be unique to each ship. I would think that larger ships have more spaces (to avoid the Battletech problem where each mech miraculously has the same amount of internal space to jam things into), but each ship will have a minimum based on whatever essential systems you decide, and they get marked off as they're hit. They can even have null results (superficial damage, no effect) and "catastrophic damage" results (with a lucky hit creating a nova-like explosion that can damage nearby ships).

    The damage chart could have one, two, or three columns, depending on the ship's type or how "tough" it is (defense stat prevents damage, the damage chart absorbs it). Sprinkle increasing numbers of catastrophic damage results through the columns and damage gets really interesting after the first couple of hits (hey, this is how you can work Renegade Legion style crits into the game). An F-35 Raptor may be hard to hit, but it blows up if you look at it cross-eyed. An A-10 Warthog, on the other hand, is slow and easy to hit, but can fly home with half a wing, one engine, and a missing rear stabilizer.

    The results on the damage chart don't always have to be in the same order either, so two frigates of the same type may have completely different looking damage charts (even though both have the same exact systems).

    To make little ship's useful, you could let them swarm to attack. A small number of ships using the same laser or kinetic attack (since missiles operate independently, you could layer different missile templates and achieve the same effect) can pool their results into a single attack step. Three frigates could combine their Step-3 (d4) laser attacks into a single Step-9 (d8+d6) laser attack, something that any sane captain would want to stay far away from. There would have to be a practical cap on the number of ships that can combine, and I'm assuming that it wouldn't work for ship's above a certain size (there has to be some cinematic differences between large and small ships, otherwise it becomes the Traveller Eurisko ( problem.

    1. Some of these posts are a little old; if you want to jump in the google group (see right tab of blog) there's more recent stuff.

      I think the latest iteration is each amount over the defence is a hit (i.e. 4 needed, rolls 7 = therefore 3 hits or "margain of success")

      The hits are then rolled against a chart of systems

      1 = engines
      2 = shields/armour
      3 = primary battery
      4 = secondary battery
      5 = sensors
      6 = crew

      etc etc

      Some areas can take more than 1 hit, but usually the 2nd hit knocks out the system....

  5. Hey, I was just re-reading this for inspiration for my own spaceship rules and a thought struck me for the damage system - what if you assigned each class of ship a die type? IE d12 for aircraft carrier equivalent, d10 for cruiser, d8 for destroyer, d6 for frigate, d4 for corvette? Then the system hits could be specific to each ship, with smaller ships having less systems/health. You could even tie systems to health with once every system is damaged, the ship is destroyed. I don't know how good of an idea it really will be once I get around to testing it (or if you're even still working on these rules), but it seems like a neat idea to me.

    1. Nevermind, just realized someone else had the exact same idea...this is what I get for not reading the comment section first. Anyway, props to TimP, I think that seems like a cool idea. I'll have to try it out with my own rules when I get time.