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Savage Worlds mass combat in space

Combat goes on

This writing was made to demonstrate how Savage Worlds Mass Combat rules can be used to simulate conflict between two capital starships. In this example, a Rebel Mon Calamari cruiser comes out of hyperspace, along with an YT-1300 freighter (Millenium Falcon -model) and a troop transport. They are about to drive away or destroy the Imperial Star Destroyer blockading the planet.

Miniatures: If you have starship miniatures or tokens, you probably want to use them even with mass combat. Just use them as tokens in mass combat! You can use them to help describe and visualize the battle, and remove miniatures when tokens would be removed. 

For cool effects, you can do some twists - in the battle described below, GM decides that both capital ships are worth 2 tokens, and a fire counter can be placed on one if one of the tokens represented by it would be removed. In larger battles, you can use just capital ships for tokens and fighters are just for decoration. If you are ready break the rules a bit, you can add more miniatures on the table so that the weaker party has 10 tokens - it depends on situation if opponent's tokens should be added by the equal amount or one more; this lengthens the battle and puts player characters in bigger risk. Note that it will also affect morale rules.

Using miniatures this way is mainly a visual effect, and to give players feel of control of the battle. There are a few small rules changes which are represented few paragraphs under.

Step 1: Setup.

Combat starts, Mon Calamari cruiser encounters Imperial Star destroyer.

"Alert! Alert! Imperial Destroyer closing in! All pilots in fighters, launch when ready!"

GM decides that ISD is stronger than the arriving ships, and gives Rebels 9 tokens. Imperials get +1 bonus to their battle rolls and Rebel heroes -1 to their combat rolls. (Note: 8 token might have been more 'realistic', freighter and YT don't give much firepower against ISD)


Piloting -based rolls and toughness:

Instead of fighting/shooting/spellcasting/etc, rolls are made with Piloting skill, and as each unit is supposed to engage units of it's own caliber (or be targeted by related amount of fire), their toughness is half their Piloting -skill +2.

If there is more than one PC in one ship, only one may make a combat roll; others may only aid the ship's controller using a fitting skill - Shooting to add to the combat roll, Repair or Knowledge (ship operations) to improve ship's toughness by focusing shields etc. Each success and raise gives +1 bonus to the pilot's combat roll.

Apply damage from character combat rolls to their vehicles, and:
-Gritty option: When a ship takes damage, characters in it take 2d6 damage. When the ship is wrecked, characters in it take 3d6 damage. 
-Cinematic option: If the ship takes 2 or more damage from single combat roll, characters in the damaged ship take 2d6 damage. Characters don't take damage when the ship is hit; they take 2d6 damage only if the ship is wrecked.

Supposedly the characters can land the wreck on the nearby planet or get out in escape pods and continue their adventures, why the damage is kept moderately low by default.

Capital ship captain's combat roll risks always losing a token
A capital ship can also be controlled by a PC and therefore make a character combat roll. However, if due to that roll the ship is wrecked, token(s) representing it are lost even on won battle roll. In the example combat, the capital ships represent 2 tokens, so each of those tokens represents 2 wounds, and therefore taking 2 wounds would already remove one token from the play.

Characters in a ship that isn't making character combat roll can aid the roll with shooting, repair etc. skills at -2 but with won't take damage from the rolls. The main ship often doesn't make character combat rolls as making knowledge (battle) AND character combat roll is a multi-action. 

While normally shaken in mass combat doesn't have effect, Clint suggested a fitting optional rule for being Shaken in Mass combat. It wasn't mentioned, but this perhaps should not apply when the combatant gets wounds. Shaken results on characters should still be ignored.

Burning wreck or explosion?
Capital ship aftermath rolls should be made immediately to see if the ship is salvageable after the battle or if it explodes. On roll of 6 (always succes) the ship retreats to hyperspace immediately, on roll of 1-3 (always failure) it explodes, otherwise it's destiny remains unsure until end of battle. 

Step 2: Modifiers

Launch fighters!

The Imperator launches Tie fighters as fast as it can, an Rebel warship is trying to scramble them even faster. Alerts ring inside ships, pilots that weren't already waiting in their fighters run to mount them. Soon, two swarms of fighters close each other, and tension is high. Squadron leaders issue commands to their squadrons.

It's time for player characters to decide their actions. They all want to act.

Admiral: "The cruiser tries to move right to attack the destroyer from it's left flank, while trying to keep it's forward shields towards the enemy. It is firing all the time towards the destroyer and incoming fighters. X-wings will engage the main fighter assault."
Scoundrel: "I'll take my Wild Goose (YT-1300) to the left flank and lead an assault against TIE's with 1 squadron of X-wings.
Wookie: "Gworl! That means' I'll boost the Goose's shields";
Ace: "I'll lead Y-wings to an assault from the left flank so the fighters will get in the crossfire from all of our units"; 

GM decides that this is a good tactic, and worth +1 bonus to the knowledge (battle) roll. Surprisingly, all the heroes want to be involved! In this case, the Star Destroyer is just a normal extra, so it isn't actively trying to affect the combat, and it's captain isn't trying to use any special tactics.

All heroes must substract 1 from their rolls due to more powerful enemy.

Admiral rolls his D10 piloting and gets 6, a success. The warship takes some damage though, and gets a wound.
Wookie rolls his mechanics D8 and gets 5, a success - this gives the scoundre's ship  +1 toughness. 
Scoundrell rolls 14 after acing, that's two raises! No damage for scoundrel's ship.
Ace  rolls 8 and gets a raise. His fighter isn't damaged, but is shaken (using optional ruling mentioned above)

Heroes have been doing well, granting +6 bonus to the Knowledge (Battle) roll! The admiral and Imperial captain make their rolls, and while the captain rolls well too, 3 TIE squadrons go down.

The battle continues next round, and the imperial captain manages to raise, and heroes aren't that successful this time; some rebel fighters are lost. The battle goes on until Imperial destroyer takes severe damage and it's captain decides to retreat.

Combat goes on

Destroyer hit! Evacuate, evacuate!




Average: 3.3 (76 votes)


Did you use the fixed damage

Submitted by Ardiana (not verified) on

Did you use the fixed damage in Mass Battles? I thin those are intended for land battles with normal toughnesses, not spaceship battles with toughness 20. I disagree with characters not taking damage if a ship is hit. When a vehicle is hit, every person on it suffers the same damage as the vehicle (the rules say every person should roll separetely but I think that's stupid), only those INSIDE the vehicle subtract the vehicle's toughness. So people wouldn't actually get damage unless the hit is strong enough to "shaken" the vehicle. The rules say when a vehicle gets damage equal to its toughness, it's driver or pilot must make a driving/piloting roll or the vehicle goes "out of Control". Which is what would have happened in Ace's case. If Ace had failed the roll, the ship might have "rolled" or "flipped" which in starships case mean a "blast". I assume that means the blast spell, which deals 2d6 area effect damage.

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