Jump to content
alextroy

Casualties in Space Combat

Recommended Posts

One thing I've always found a little annoying in FSA is the idea that ships go from mostly function (Look, I still have Hull Points) to wreckage in short order. The rules literally state "If a model's Hull Points reach zero, it is destroyed". I find it a little hard to believe that there is no state of Casualty other than space junk and space debris (should you happen to explode).

In military parlance, a Casualty is any soldier no longer available for use on the battlefield. He could be injured beyond his ability to act, sick, diseased, dead, or just missing. I know it doesn't matter for a one off game of FSA, but shouldn't most ships actually survive the battle unless the opponent puts excess amounts of firepower into them? I'm not saying make rules for hulks floating around the battlefield, but simply calling ships with Zero Hull Points Casualties instead of destroyed give a different concept to it's eventual fate. Would be nice for Campaigns with fixed ship resources.

Thought?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good point.   Defining "casualty" is important, it's a unit that can no longer function usefully.   In space battles, ships may get to this point long before they are obliterated into debris.    

Many wargames are massively bloody and it's not uncommon that even the victor has lost 50-80%+ of their forces, but we can see in various historical battles this level of carnage is uncommon.

That said, space is as unforgiving an environment as we could possibly imagine fighting a battle in.  Casualties may very well exceed any prior norms.  It really depends on the fluff I think - do we want FSA's battles to be so deadly and the stakes so high that any lucky soul who survives just one battle is called a 'veteran' ?   Or are space battles a grand chivalrous tournament, where losers suffer a few % losses and withdraw saying "good show"?  Either scene is compelling, I suppose, it just depends on taste.

Back to the OP:

 * if it just said "If a Model's Hull Points reach zero, it is so heavily damaged it can no longer contribute to the battle and is removed from play as a casualty." that could sets a different mental image doesn't it?

* also, if models could more easily or quickly FSD you might find this tactic used more often, fewer ships being lost, making for very interesting "hit and run" gameplay and objectives

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To take a sci-fi example - in the Honorverse, it is noted that not all ships that end up hors de combat end up as wrecks or rapid expanding clouds of gas. Mostly, especially for Ships of the Wall, once they've taken enough damage, they'll roll to impsose their wedges (effectively an impenetrable shield), and then try to disengage. This is aided by fairly sophisticated stealth systems and running silent - but the ship is still out of the battle. Other ships will simply become gutted wrecks from overwhelming fires, the crew incapacitated by casualties and thus unable to function, or, in extreme cases, the containment on one of their fusion reactors fails, with predictable results.

In game terms, each of these really is the same effect - the ship is no longer able to function or provide firepower, and so is removed to prevent confusion and clutter.  In campaign terms, I would agree that most "dead" ships do manage to escape (either doing an emergency shunt out, going silent or just boosting for all they're worth), and will eventually make it back to base - although they'll require massive refits afterwards. The only exception would probably be Catastropic damage rolls like reactor explosions or FSD implosions, where there isn't much of the ship left afterwards. And also add a roll where a ship that dies from 0 HP has a chance to die pernamently - either the crew is unable to stabilize the damage and the ship is either abandoned or blows up off-board, or the repair crews decide it's just cheaper to build a new ship rather than repair the damaged one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, draco84oz said:

dd a roll where a ship that dies from 0 HP has a chance to die permanently

This is a cool idea for a 'campaign' and would be akin to Necromunda or Shadow War campaign where a squaddie who is 'out of the fight' may survive and may not, or may develop a disfigurement or quirk and never be quite the same.    It's a few words in the rules that will be tweaked based on whatever fluff WC comes out with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Glad to see I’m not alone. Honorverse even had an equivalent to raising a white flag allowing a ship to surrender, assuming a volley of already launched torpedoes did Hull it first.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We really do need some kind of a campaign system.  Something 'official' and sanctioned.  I recognize this is pretty big thinking for now, but hopefully it'll happen someday.

For the question at hand, what if a ship with 0 HP is out of commission, but is left to drift on the board?  Capturing it scores points, and so does doing additional damage past 0.  You knocked the dreadnought out of the battle, but it'll be back.   Get it to -5 HP and it really is destroyed.   So do you go after a dead ship for the points/salvage value/revenge, or for the ships still firing at you?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let’s imagine this: if an enemy 0HP ship is out of the fight, adrift, FSD offline, and all crew are dealing with hazards.  So long as there are active enemy ships on the board still firing at you there is little reason to keep shoot at one who isn’t.  You may very well be blasting valuable salvage.  Even if your nemesis Capt Badguy is on the wrecked vessel, he might leave in one of 9 dozen escape pods if you keep blasting it, and then you’ll never find him.  

So for campaigns it’s more about what happens to 0HP ships after the battle is won and the victor holds the field, and is sorting through the mess (theirs and his alike) ships may find one of these fates:

1. The ship is able to make a emergency FSD repairs and escapes/returns on its own

2. The ship is overcome by hazards and is practically destroyed by the time recovery teams arrive  

3. The hulk is powerless but valuable and is captured for loot, ransom or salvage 

4. The ship is “lost in space” and this fuels a rescue mission (cue dramatic music) 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I strongly disagree with the idea that ships arent destroyed outright at 0hp. Plasma leaks, fsd ruptures, ammunition explosions, decompression and other onboard hazards can absolutely destroy a ship. Hell, a kilometer long dindrenzi railgun might tear a ship in half if its coils are heavily damaged!

 

We absolutely need a formal campaign system, id be interested to know how people have homebrewed their own

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

I strongly disagree with the idea that ships arent destroyed outright at 0hp. Plasma leaks, fsd ruptures, ammunition explosions, decompression and other onboard hazards can absolutely destroy a ship. Hell, a kilometer long dindrenzi railgun might tear a ship in half if its coils are heavily damaged!

 

We absolutely need a formal campaign system, id be interested to know how people have homebrewed their own

"Destroyed" can mean a variety of things.  Someone mentioned the "Honorverse", and while there were ships that were converted to something other than a ship shape, the first two books focused more on the protaganist's ships that were so pounded in the fight that they would be useless for any significant action beyond that.  Then there's the protagonist's return from the field of dishonor (quite literally in this case) in which her ship was rendered only useful as a life support boat as it had more room than the other ship that was equally pounded.  A lot of ships were "stackpoled" in between (Battletech term in which the fusion plant spectacularly explodes), but having a starship's power plants completely shut down "destroys" the ship just as effectively as having them go nova.  In addition, considering the biohazard beams that the Directorate employs, reducing the crew to below operable levels would also classify.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For certain, and definitely how your ship was attacked has some sway on exactly how its destroyed. My only argument is that between torpedoes, beams and kinetic weapons one of my ships is absolutely capable of rubbling yours, and vice versa. Especially as critical hits get easier to achieve once a ship has taken a beating, I'd say we could achieve some very catastrophic deaths that would leave your ship a smoking hulk.

The one thing that seems rare in firestorm is a reactor containment explosion large enough to hit adjacent ships, so the argument for bleeding a ship out rather than blowing it up definitely holds ground, I just want to make sure also that ships remain vulnerable to glorious destruction

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It feels like discussion about wording. In game terms, a ship with 0HP is out of action.  To you, as a commander, it doesn't matter if it turned into gas or just blew a tire. In either case, it's state is so bad it cannot move under it's own power. After the battle the victor can roll to see if his ships are recoverable (probably not tho...at some point, the cost of repairs is higher than cost of building a new ship) if you want to play a campaign, but it should have no impact on the actual battle. It's destroyed until proven otherwise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
59 minutes ago, Pok said:

It feels like discussion about wording. In game terms, a ship with 0HP is out of action.  To you, as a commander, it doesn't matter if it turned into gas or just blew a tire. In either case, it's state is so bad it cannot move under it's own power. After the battle the victor can roll to see if his ships are recoverable (probably not tho...at some point, the cost of repairs is higher than cost of building a new ship) if you want to play a campaign, but it should have no impact on the actual battle. It's destroyed until proven otherwise.

That is more than sufficient for scenario play.  How "destroyed" a model is (aside from crits specifically stating things like 'it blowed up real good into another ship') only matters for campaign play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In campaign terms, the destruction of a ship determines the prospect of salvage in a big way. I could even see scuttling, if you knew you werent going to escape via FSD and your opponent would win control over this space (and thus all wrecks left in it). This thread might as well be called Campaign Rules, because to give agency to destruction theyre going to have to go hand in hand

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If we are talking about campaign rules I think you could have an SRS that represented the escape pods from a destroyed ship. If the side that launch the escape pods collects them before the end of the game they could gain some battle log or retain the experience of the destroyed ship. Just a thought.

The whole bit about how "Destroyed" a ship is only really matters in a campaign.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll have to disagree with "Destroyed only matter in campaigns". It also matters in world building.

  • Is FSA a setting where ships and crew are routinely lost in high amounts in every naval engagement? Or is it a setting where ships routinely limp home from battle for repair/refit after getting hammered?
  • Are skilled crew members hard to find because they are constantly dying and on ships destroyed during battle? Or do they come back on the damaged ships or via prisoner exchanges to recover and be reassigned to a different ship to carry on the war?

These matter because we need to know are we playing in a life and ships are cheep galaxy or one where you want to husband your resources for the long term? That informs how players should react to the game and how the rules should be designed for play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, alextroy said:

I'll have to disagree with "Destroyed only matter in campaigns". It also matters in world building.

  • Is FSA a setting where ships and crew are routinely lost in high amounts in every naval engagement? Or is it a setting where ships routinely limp home from battle for repair/refit after getting hammered?
  • Are skilled crew members hard to find because they are constantly dying and on ships destroyed during battle? Or do they come back on the damaged ships or via prisoner exchanges to recover and be reassigned to a different ship to carry on the war?

These matter because we need to know are we playing in a life and ships are cheep galaxy or one where you want to husband your resources for the long term? That informs how players should react to the game and how the rules should be designed for play.

While this is true, I think we were discussing game mechanics, to which, the "how a ship is destroyed" only matters in either campaigns or it has a detonation which can carry to other vessels.

And let's face it, campaigns are world building.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whilst considering that Warcradle is completely within their rights to change things, my I point you in the direction of the Firestorm Invasion rulebook? The intro fluff gives you an idea of some of the numbers involved in the war, and the preparations for one of the early major battles. 

To answer alextroy’s question in short - the available numbers are massive (you’ve got multiple planets of multi-billion populations to draw from). But, that said, the FSA rulebook mentions that even a corvette is a significant investment for a stellar nation, which is why FSD escape is a possibility. Make of that what you will. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/7/2018 at 1:01 PM, Charistoph said:

That is more than sufficient for scenario play.  How "destroyed" a model is (aside from crits specifically stating things like 'it blowed up real good into another ship') only matters for campaign play.

Knowing the damage effects also come into play when we start talking about making repairs and removing critical effects.  Which also gets in to the question of how long does a battle last.  If the damage scale goes from fully functioning to cloud of debris, then it's unlikely that a critical effect marker can be repaired.  If the scale measures the ability to of a ship to contribute to the battle, then maybe the marker could be repaired in time to matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Campaign talk? well now you have my attention.  I've written part of a campaign system based off what my old group use to play, in that each player is given a certain number of points to buy their starting force and each campaign turn they get a certain number of points to buy more forces depending on what territory they control - using BFG as an example, a Hive or Forge world would offer a lot of points compared to a barren world, but there are more barren worlds than hive worlds to fight over.  The campaign play was completely open ended so it would involve players coming up with their own objectives, creating alliances, back stabbing friends, frenzied fights to the death and hasty retreats, and importantly no force organisation (so in FSA, a 1000pts of Frigates would be perfect acceptable).  I'm also trying to incorporate build times into the rules as I wouldn't want to see a dozen battleships being built in a single turn!

As to the point the OP raised; HPs I think for the most part work well and only frigates could do with a slight buff in the interest of campaign play (2HP to 3HP).  I feel frigates should last a little longer otherwise their use starts becoming trivial in favour of bigger ships, which is not at all how actual navies work.  I do agree that what constitues a "destoryed" ship once it reaches 0HP is open to personal interpretation so here's my take:  Ships, especially space ships, are complicated beasts with many delicate systems needed just to keep the crew alive let alone the ship performing its role.  You can't armour everything otherwise you start getting into the realms of deminishing returns.  So ships tearing themselves apart becuase of explosive decompresion, burst fuel lines, ruptured magazines etc isn't too hard to believe for me (and I never bought into the 1/10000 sacle / 1km long cruisers part of the fluff).  There is already a mechanic for withdrawing a ship when it gets too damaged (granted it needs tweaking) but I conceed that deciding whether a "destoryed" ship is actually destoryed or if it's non-operational needs addressing for campaign play.  In this instance I'd go with a simple D6 roll: 1-2 destoryed, 3-4 dead in space, 5-6 under its own power trying to escape but power is running out.  Anything more starts to get complicated I think.

Regarding how effective a ship is the more HP it loses, again I find it quite within the realms of possibility that a ship continues pounding away at its target as she goes down.  Just because half the HP has been lost doesn't mean that half of all the weapons and other sub-systems are lost as well.  Back-up generators and seperate ammunication magezines would be placed at different locations around the ship so that it can continue the fight whilst other parts of the ship suffer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree in spirit with the OP, but *without a campaign system* it is essentailly just semantics - Casualty, Destroyed, OOP, KO, Awol, Retreated, the terminology doesn't matter.

It's not even like a floating hulk can obscure your other ships (As they could in BFG, if I remember correctly)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Spenetrator said:

I agree in spirit with the OP, but *without a campaign system* it is essentailly just semantics - Casualty, Destroyed, OOP, KO, Awol, Retreated, the terminology doesn't matter.

It's not even like a floating hulk can obscure your other ships (As they could in BFG, if I remember correctly)

They could form a 1D3 diameter debris field after being completely destroyed, a death by Reactor Overload critical effect could extend that range, say 3+1D3 diameter. Just trying to think of ways to give agency to destroyed ships on the table

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 hours ago, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

They could form a 1D3 diameter debris field after being completely destroyed, a death by Reactor Overload critical effect could extend that range, say 3+1D3 diameter. Just trying to think of ways to give agency to destroyed ships on the table

Yeah, I could see that working... But with all the emphasis of streamlining the game on the forums - I just see extending 'destroyed' ships' influence on the table as being a bit counter productive.

If there was a campaign system a quick D6 roll could solve it: my preference would be something like:

1-3 Completely Destroyed,  4 Crippled,  5 Heavily Damaged, 6 Damaged.

  • Crippled - Unavailable. One strategic turn in the shipyard, to 'Heavily Damaged'.
  • Heavily Damaged - Available at 50% HP or one strategic turn in the shipyard to 'Damaged'.
  • Damaged - Available at 75% HP or one strategic turn in the shipyard to Full HP.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, Wolfgang Jannesen said:

They could form a 1D3 diameter debris field after being completely destroyed, a death by Reactor Overload critical effect could extend that range, say 3+1D3 diameter. Just trying to think of ways to give agency to destroyed ships on the table

Interestingly enough, that would be counter-intuitive unless one could ram other ships or "accidentally" collide with other ships.  The amount of debris that a ship leaves that could spread that far would largely be minimal except if the hull remained in significant sized pieces, such as the size of a ship that you could accidentally hit.  Everything that would allow you to miss another ship would fall under the same ability to avoid such debris.  Anything that wouldn't qualify would be too small to be a danger to the ship itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know the thread is about realistic space casualties but I wonder if starting at 'A ship that is shot down to 0 hull blows up like a star trek Battlecruiser' is the way to begin this concept in a streamlined way. If a ship goes down to 0 hull because of corrosive damage or some secondary effect, then it could represent a ship being too damaged to use but not destroyed. If a fire happens with 0 crew pounts, or your interior is depressurized, the ship can no longer be manned by a skeleton crew. 

 

I dont know, just really married to the idea of total ship destruction. I want to see my railguns punch straight through a weakened cruiser and have the ship tear itself in half under its own thrusters. I really feel like a ship being fired on and killed via a broadside should be a mean death. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.