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Manticore
27 August 2002, 07:33 AM
I could use a lil' feedback from you avid gamers out there: I have placed my PCs in a situation which is pretty suicidal, but I think will be a huge pay off cinematically if they pull it off. A darkside tracker has caught up with them and the Mon Cal cruiser which they have hooked up with. The cruiser has between 20 and 30 various starfighters (X, Y, A, Bs and 2 of the 2 man heavy bombers from Strikeforce Shantipole). The imperial strike fleet has 2 ISDs and a VSD, and what... 168 TIEs? It gets worse, a traitor has sabotaged the hyperdrive and backup, they are in a sytem that is being swallowed by a black hole and a raging ion storm rims the lip of this dark maw. The Mon Cals plan is to dive into the storm, hoping their shields will survive the storm long enough to repair the backup hyperdrive and then book out. The fighters only task is to keep the ISDs and VSD from closing with the Mon Cal as it flees into the storm. I am allowing the PCs (both minor Jedi) to take any fighter they want.

The imperial tactics are: Stand back, launch a couple squadrons of regular TIEs to defend, and then jockey for position, and launch a couple bomber TIE squadrons with TIE escort to engage the MCC. The ISDs will use quick hyperjumps to cut off the MCC before it reaches the storm. The VSD is jet black, called ONYX and ran by a dark sider tracker named Shi-E Kar who weilds a flaming neuro-whip.

What would you do? what ship would you take? how do I make this possible, while keeping the supense and building to a huge cinematic pay off at the end of the evening? This is my first 100+ starfighter battle and I'm a little nervous about slaughtering my PCs... any suggestions on (resonably) evening the odds is also aprechiated.

scottyboy
27 August 2002, 07:45 AM
Well, if you want your PC's to live, I would tell them that they should jump in a couple X-wings, and jump out of the system themselves! Other than that, I don't really know for sure. They seem like they're pretty outnumbered and out gunned if they stay. You could try and let them survive until the MCC can get a distress signal to another MCC. Let them "survive" (ie. fudge any good rolls that the imps get), until the backup MCC gets there, and that should even the odds a little bit. Or maybe even 2 MCC's. If they stay in that situation for long, without reinforcements, there's no possible way they could hope to win. Not outgunned like that. Or you could say that the black hole had a reverse effect on the MCC's shield, meaning it supercharged them instead of depleting them. I don't really know what to tell you other than that. Well, I hope that I was at least some sort of help.

Ravager_of_worlds
27 August 2002, 07:53 AM
if you are afraid of slaughtering your PCs... then run small gambits between each of the jedi's wing and the incoming assaults. In most sqaudrons, you and your wingman pick a target and that one is yours unless an ally zaps the enemy by chance or the allies vastly outnumber the remaining enemies.

however, if your jedi are smart, they'll pick up an X-Wing for it's hyperdrive capability (x1) to get the heck out of there when the fan sinks into the sludge pond.

And besides- doesn't the MCC have a backup? Hop skip and jump away... keep skipping away for short bursts and get out of the area when possible- the pursuers don't have an Interdictor cruiser so making multiple hyperjumps one after the other in different directions will eventually lose the imperials long enough that they can't find your last known vector- one can cut out of hyperspace anytime one wants on a 'clean path'.

Darklighter
27 August 2002, 09:14 AM
Wow, Manticore, you really threw the whole doo-doo pile at them, didn't you? :)

OK, the first thing I'd deny the Empire is Interceptors. They don't have any. I also wouldn't have them launch everything - perhaps two-thirds. That would take time, and their tactical situation doesn't demand it. The next thing I'd take into account is that the primary goal of the bombers and fighters is the MCC. This means that the PCs are unlikely to face more than 2:1 odds among fighters willing to disengage the flight path to the MCC. That helps, but it's still really bad. I'd let the MCC make it to the storm, and just prior to entry, the Captain would issue an order to starfighters to retreat and obtain reinforcements, if possible.

Here's an option to consider. With the ISDs making hyperspace jumps, the VSD is alone - and in my experience, these are vulnerable to starfighter assault. Turn defense into offense (maybe the captain orders this, putting the PCs into an assault/cover role). The PCs punch straight through the starfighter screen at top speed, and catch the TIEs accelerating in the wrong direction. They burst the bubble. (If the PCs don't think of this plan, the captain or his/her tactical officer originates it.) One of the ISDs may be forced to retreat to give aid (easing pressure on the MCC), and a sizeable portion of the starfighters would have to leave their assault flight path to cover the VSD. Heck, if the players are lucky, they take out the bad guy and hyper out of there. As for choice ships, I'd definitely go with an X-wing. You can even do a couple of miraculous repairs through the R2 unit, if you have to.

Good luck! Boy, they need it... :D

Zanus
27 August 2002, 09:15 AM
As Manticore mentioned, the MCC is trying to repair their backup, so they can't just jump out. And they can choose any of those fighters because they all have Hyperdrives (well, I don't know about those bombers, and D20 may be different but I doubt it).

I think which fighters the players take is up to them. You shouldn't have to tell them. Just give them an idea of each fighters capabilities. X-wing, fairly good all around, B-wing a good sturdy anti-shipping fighter, Y-wing a decent sturdy fighter (if they choose this I would be surprised), and A-wing good for taking on those TIE's in dogfights. Personally I think having one player take a B-wing and leading the B and Y wings on an assualt on the imperial ships while the other player takes an A or X wing and deals with the imperial fighters and covers the assault group. CAlled shots are the players best friend in this instance. Take out the shield generators then blow the snot out of the bridge and hope you just bought enough time for the MCC to escape and do its repairs before the backup bridge is brought online, if at all.

Having another MCC called in would be a bit of a stretch as the Rebel fleet tried to conserve those, without throughing them into hopeless battles. Heck, even the Mon Cal system was forfeit if it came to it (as stated in the Rebel sourcebook by WEG). A couple smaller ships and supporting smugglers, privateers, mercs, or whathaveyou might be a better 'realistic' response to a distress call by the MCC.

Remember, the Rebel alliance was very good at fighter strikes and knew how to use their fighters better then the Empire did, in many respects. The NPC pilots for those other rebel fighters may have just enough skill and training to pull off the idea I mentioned above, or at the very least to keep a holding action against 'endless' waves of enemy fighters. But also remember that all pilots know when a skirmesh or battle is lost, and that imperial pilots will not stick around in one of the wave assaults if it is obvious they lost that small battle (fifty percent casualties would be a good indication, especially if there was little return on those losses). Just some thoughts :)

Jim Williams
27 August 2002, 12:24 PM
I'd just like to second the idea that someone (PC, NPC) see an advantage to launching a surprise attack on one of the Imp ships. This is where the heroes could turn something risky into very possible with a high payoff. Each of them leading a vital effort (anti-ship/anti-fighter) is great! Have the Imps react badly and the Mon Cals take advantage of that by escaping or getting a free broadside on the ISD's stern as it comes out of hyperspace to help the overly pissed darksider---

"Get your Destroyer here NOW cpatain...spare me your prattle about tactics! If you're not here in ten seconds, I'll be sure to have you executed!"
Captain <sigh> "Very well, order the jump, helsman."
"But Captain, we'll be..."
"Now, lieutenant."
<sigh> "Yes, sir."

Then the Imps could back away from this now deadly Mon Cal captain (just be sure the PCs were vital in pulling this off).

How good are the Jedi at piloting?

Wedge in Red2
27 August 2002, 12:39 PM
Okay, I'll make a couple of points - more directed at how I would GM the situation than how I (as a player) would deal with it.

First, man, that space battle is going to be massive :D. I don't envy you! Even with ships in wings, there's going to be a lot to deal with.

With that in mind, I would (in your place) use a very narrative style of play. Perhaps a lot of the maneuvering takes place outside long range, there is significant "non-combat round" time when the players (in their fighters) must decide when and where they make their stand. A nice diagram of the system would help decide if they want to lure the TIE's to Moon X, or if they want to maneuver close to the black hole in hopes that some of the TIE's will fall in, or something like that.

The other benefit of the narrative style is that this is a pretty tough situation, and it could go really bad if the players luck is crap on their rolls. Using a narrative style, you can focus more on them making smart decisions and less on having to make tough rolls.

You might want to think about what the desired outcome (from your perspective as a GM) is. Do you want the MCC to escape? Or do you want the PC's to get captured? That will help you decide how to go about running the adventure.

Also, I would recommend X-Wings to the players, and not only because they can go to hyperspace and get the hell out of there. My reason is that from a GM's perspective, it gives you a character on board (the R2 unit) that you can use to give advice to the PC's. Sure, they could receive advice from their commanding officer, but then it seems more like an order and is more obviously "heavy handing" from the GM. R2 units are a bit more excentric, and might suddenly decide not to do the hyperspace calculation because they don't think the PC's should run away ;). Remember the R2 unit gets actions in combat too, and (as far as I'm aware - I haven't really played much starfighter combat) they are useful for angling shields / repairing shields / re-allocating allocating power, allowing your pilots to focus on flying and shooting!

Anyway, that's just a few thoughts that might help you out.

Jon

Darklighter
27 August 2002, 05:08 PM
Wedge in Red2, I think your points are excellent, and they bring us back to the point of the forum: solving the GM's problems - something I digressed from in my post.

Manticore, Wedge is right. The adoption of a narrative style gives you and your players a lot of flexibility: you, to script solutions and fudge or minimize rolls; the players, to try creative solutions in a cinematic structure.

This could be the stuff hereos are made of... :)

Zanus
27 August 2002, 09:11 PM
I know this is from a different system, but it kinda pertains. Rifts Mercenaries discribed a way of running big baddles without having to roll for every NPC in the battle. Basically come into the game with an idea of who would win in a knock out drag out fight, without PC involvement, or what would happen.

SD's catch up to and attack the MCC, fighters overwhelm the 'Wings, and the MCC and crew is lost. MCC captain just tried to fight a defensive battle and get out.

Now you look at what the PC's could do. You will never cover every option. In fact, more then likely, the PC's will do something you (or we) didn't think of, so it is best to keep options generalized. When the PC's come up with their plan, look at how it might affect things and come up with a what would happen with that plan, again without PC involvement, so that you know what would happen. Then as the game progresses, you see what the players do and figure out how that affects things. This method can be used to cut the amount of rolls you have to make down drastically to just those NPCs around the PC's, and on significant factors like the capital ships and if the MCC or Imps call in any support and when they show up.

Example, using the One PC on assault, One PC leading fighter cover idea above. With this, more then likely the two PC's will be seperate. Best option is to wait after the Imps have scent a wave or two to attack the MCC, that way you whittle the SD"s defensive cover down alittle. The assault group goes out, with fighter cover near by. Imp fighter groups go out to meat half way or so to stop the assault group well short of their target. This is where the cover group is likely to break from the assault group in order to entertain the interceptors. A smart imp commander kept some fighters as close in defense, just in case. The assault group comes under the cap ships guns (mostly capital scale, so very few losses likely from that) and whatever fighter cover is left, and that might have come trailed in from the intercept group.

Whatever is left of the assault group would likely launch fire linked whatevers in one co-ordinated volley, ripping the target apart (hopefully, this you would want to roll for, just in case) and then things break down into a sort of dog fight around the main ship. If the close in defense cover is strong enough, they can easily disrupt the combined salvo so that it isn't as succesful. But, if those bombers have independant gun turrets controled by the co-pilot, and the Y-wings have a co-pilot, then they will not be AS affected as they can provide a measure of supporting fire for group mates.

If the Assault group gets totally wasted, hopefully the cover group still has some power left to it and might be able to attempt something similar. Being more maneuverable X and A wings (with D6 having concussion missiles in A-wings, dunno about D20) they could still cause some significant damage.

The player factor is the key though. If in the first pass they call both groups to totally annihilate the intercept force, then the cover group can go in advance of the assault group and draw off the close in defense while the assault group does its job. Plus players are more likely to order 'called shots' on the ship, further increasing the effectiveness of the salvo.

Sorry for rambling, it is late and I just got back from work. Hopefully this helps with the rolling and GMing aspect. I am sure someone can futher expand on this, bringing in factors I proly missed.

Let us know how the game turns out :)

Manticore
28 August 2002, 05:31 AM
thanks for the input, gentlemen (I assume, perhaps incorrectly). This is fast becoming one of my favorite 'work' websites :) I have read each and every post, and found the majority of your suggestions to be helpfull.

As an addendum, I have two questions which I need further input on:
1) if one of the Jedis were to 'control mind' or 'dim senses' on the astrogater of one of the ships before making the quick lightspeed jump (the move that one of the ISDs is invariably going to make in order to cut off the MCCs escape route) and the entire ISD is, let's say, swallowed up by the black hole? do you think this is a particularly evil act, or can I let them get away with it, in the circumstances (ends justifying the means and all that...)

2) in the movies, if your starfighter is wrecked so are you. In the novels by Timothy Zahn (excellent books, BTW, that guy has a firm handle on Imperial tactics) it seems that they have ejector seats and some kind of vacum suit, which I find hard to visualise, and therfore describe to my PCs. This might become important, for obvious reasons.

Zanus
28 August 2002, 08:26 AM
My quick, hunger induced, thoughts:

1) I would have to say it is an evil act. If the Jedi knows that the ISD will end up in the Black Hole, then he is conciously murdering thousands of people. Jedi don't follow the normal rules of war, their code is alot more stringent. They can act in defense, but sending a ship into a black hole is a bit over that grey line. If they where to send the ship off in the other direction, then it is a different matter. Don't those powers require line of site though?

2) this is really what you make of it, but you have to be careful. You do it once, you will have to continue to do it. Basically, in my view, it is like in normal fighters today. The ejection seat has to be activated by the pilot when he knows he is in trouble. If he doesn't realize he is in trouble (Porkins) then he won't realize to eject. Vac suits are very common in the SW universe, they just didn't receive alot of screen time in the movies. The odd thing is that 'Wing pilots don't seem to have face masks, so it is one more step they proly have to go through to get ready for ejection, which proly further accounts for the lack of ejections in the movies. I am not sure if TIE's have ejection seats, but the TIE fighter game would lead you to believe there is. You can go the other route and say there are no ejection seats to further the dramatic feal. Your fighter dies, you die. Stockpoles X-wing books where also a good series to read for Rebel/NR tactics.

Wedge in Red2
28 August 2002, 03:28 PM
A couple of quick answers:

1) I beleive Zanus is correct, and from memory most Jedi Powers have a range of 10m (I will have to look this up and post later to confirm). I'm not sure what Dim Senses is (is it from PotJ?).

2) The ghastly orange flight suits worn by the rebel pilots are indeed vac suits, although, as Zanus again correctly points out, they have no face mask.

In terms of game mechanics, I would impose the same rules you use for space transports and capital ships, as in a Survival roll difficulty 15 (I believe) to get your vac suit sorted in time (in a bigger ship it reflects getting the suit on, in this case it reflects getting the face mask on, which would normally be less difficult, but due to working in a confined space retains the same difficulty).

I seem to remember there were some rules somewhere for ejecting from starfighters, but I can't remember what they are or where I saw them, sorry :(! I will try to remember/find them and post later.

Jon

Jim Williams
29 August 2002, 03:03 AM
Stackpole asserted in his X-wing series that the real vacc suit worn by Rebel pilots was a magnetic containment field that surrounded the pilot upon going EVA. Lasted for a few hours I think.

As for the Dim Senses from D6...assuming the power could be used, etc., I see no difference between the Jedi causing the ISD to misjump and go into a blackhole and Luke destroying the Death Star. I don't remember if Dim Senses gives an automatic dark side point or if it affects a Mech-based skill, but we can assume not (it seems like it should work for something like this...)

Sending the ISD off in the wrong direction might be outside the "fooling" capabilities of the power. A slight deviation to disaster is one thing, a radical direction change in the jump may be too much for the power's ability.

Zanus
29 August 2002, 09:16 AM
I have to disagree on comparing Luke destroying the DS and a Jedi sending an ISD to its doom. Luke wasn't a jedi yet. He barely even understood the force. But, that is my opinion, and it is not the topic of this post.

Maybe the Jedi could simply cause the ISD to jump behind the MCC, or maybe still ahead, but far enough ahead to allow the MCC space to jump to light speed? An opponent doesn't have to be destroyed to be defeated, after all.

Thanks for reminding me about the magnetic containment field, I had completely forgotten about that. Although I think it is kinda out there, it is still a good way and does seem to match other technology that has been show in the SW universe.

Manticore
29 August 2002, 12:23 PM
Palmuk’s fist- MC90 Mon Cal Cruiser
Red Group (9 X wings, 3 A-Wings)
Blue Group (6 Y-wings, 6 Wild Weasel Ywings)
Green Group (8 Bwings)

Dominator ISD II
3 squads TIE/IN
1 squad TIE Interceptors
1 bomber squadron
1 recon
Relentless ISD
4 squadrons TIE/IN
1 bomber
1 recon
Onyx VSD
1 squad Interceptors
1 squad TIE/IN

VSD shows up in system at the edge of sensory range, jet black and menacing.. Kasaan Manticore a Jedi Master performs battle meditation upon the small rebel flight groups, calling upon the power of the force to help them in their hour of need. The fighters launch and head for the VSD just as the 2 ISDs show up, in perfect formation about half way between the VSD and the MC90. MC90 proceeds at flank speed towards the black hole and surrounding ion storm which is about half a solar system away.

Both ISDs close with the rebel squadrons, while launching 2 squadrons of TIE/Ins each (4 total) for defence. Red group engages, while Green group avoids engagements and drives towards the sublight engines of the Relentless. Blue group runs cover for Green group. Green group is able to punch through the rear shields, which the Imperial commander arrogantly believes is insignificant, focusing upon the rapidly retreating MC90. Despite being able to punch through the rear shields, the engines themselves prove to be quite resilient to the numerous barrages of proton torpedoes.

Realising the ultimate destination of the MC90, Captain Grendil orders the Dominator to make a short jump forward and assume a blocking position in front of the cruiser. Kasaan Manticore relays this information to the two Jedis who are leading Blue squadron, and one of them is able to call upon the power of the force to calculate a trajectory which will place the ISD along the event horizon of the black hole, without sending it inside. With luck and skill the ISD will be able to avoid complete anihilation. The jedi confuses the mind of the lead astogator, who then punches these co-ordinants in, nullifying one threat.

Eventually, after repeated hammering on the Relentless by Green Group one of the engine flares out. With the MC90 rapidly speeding away, the Onyx jumps forward to engage Palmuk’s Fist. Since the sublight speed of the VSD is little more than half of the MC90, Captain Grendil orders the forward tractor beam projectors to latch onto the MC90 and ride it while unleashing salvos of torpedoes into the rear quadrant of the ship, in an attempt to bring the engines down.

The remains of Blue group, led by the Jedis leap forward punch their way through the screen of TIEs and launch proton torpedoes directly into the tractor beam projectors which are running at full power. The resulting explosions destroy all forward tractor beam emplacements and signal the end of a very satisfying evening of play.

Final Score

Palmuk’s Fist- minor damage to shielding
Red Squad- total loss
Blue Squad- 5 remaining Y-wings
Green Squad- 5 Bwings


Dominator ISD II – trapped, requiring rescue
1 squads TIE/IN
1 squad TIE Interceptors
1 bomber squadron
1 recon
Relentless ISD
1 bomber
1 recon
Onyx VSD
1 squad Interceptors
1/2 squad TIE/IN

Zanus
29 August 2002, 10:00 PM
wow, sounds good. I assume the PC's jumped in the Y-wings? I don't remember what the wild weasel variant was.

Did you roll to see if the astrogator fumbled his role and endedup in the black hole anyway? That would have been a bit more forgivable then having him jump straight in, and if the crew can't pull the ship out of the event horizen (which, if I recall corectly, is right where stuff gets pulled in) then they still would have ended up getting sucked in. But, that isn't really stuff the characters would notice during the coarse of the game, and the crew could still maybe get saved if other ships could get there in time.

well, I forgot what else I was gonna say. looks like the game went well, and was enjoyed by all, and that is all that counts! :)

scottyboy
30 August 2002, 04:44 AM
Sounds as though both you and your players played that situation very well! I commend your ingenuity. Great job man!

Fab
30 August 2002, 08:54 AM
Originally posted by Zanus
. . . if I recall corectly, [the event horizon] is right where stuff gets pulled in) then they still would have ended up getting sucked in.

Actually, I think the event horizon is the sphere of points outside of a black hole at which light is "in orbit" so to speak, it's heading away from the black hole at c and the black hole's gravity is pulling it in at c. That means unless the star destroyer was going to go to light speed as soon as it came out of its jump, in she goes, no questions asked.

For it to remain there motionless under normal sublight engine power it would have to be pointed away from the black hole and at much greater distances than the event horizon. If it wasn't pointing away with full engines on, it would have to be even further out than that. I assume that's what the Imperial skipper would have wanted, so I think that the term event horizon was slightly mis-used here, which would make me think that if the Jedi Master was right in his calculations and provided the captain didn't turn into the black hole in an attempt to avoid it (he'd have to be pretty stupid, even dumber than most Imperials from the movies) then they would have escaped, even if the crew had to be evacuated from the ship. Though I'm sure the captain and especially his astrogator would have gotten their neck ties tightened, courtesy of Mr. Vader.