Epic Ground Battles on Alien Worlds
The Element Roster and Troop Attributes
Experience Points (A Fair Fight)
Killing or Capture
Victory or Death?
LandFleet Force Organization
KnightHawks brought you the thrill of battle among the stars. But as any cadet at Gollwin Academy can tell you (at least those good enough to enter the Marine program), flying over a piece of real estate doesn't mean you own it. For that, you need ground troops. That's where the LandFleet comes in!
This is my attempt to bring wargaming to the Star Frontiers universe. Later, I hope to add your fave characters as individual choices so that you can have your PCs leading great units into historic battles. Until then, bear with me.
The Legion, The Rangers and any other Elite units will likely be interested in checking out this kind of action.
Some quick admin notes:
Minis - I know most folks don’t have a lot of SF minis. Consider using counters from the old boxed sets (if you’ve got ‘em) or make your own out of paper or even plastic army men (the standard green kind). With a little Play-Doh, you can easily approximate Drals and the other races are just a Fun Factory (it was a Play-Doh toy) away.
The guys at HarvestMoon (yeah, it’s an Alternity site) have come up with fold-up paper minis. Check out the address below for some standard human civilian deals for their Dark*Matter setting. Since these will likely not be what you’re looking for in battle hardened troops bristling with blaster rifles and such, simply download the file and paste in the pics you want (Vrusk, Yazirian, etc.)
A final idea is using models from other settings. I kept this for last because it’s the least imaginative and probably the most costly. Still, if you’ve already got some WarHammer40K space marines or aliens they will do the job nicely. Otherwise, making your own is so much more fun.
This Smacks of Alpha Dawn- I have attempted to use the rules provided in Alpha Dawn as they 1) are familiar to a majority of SF players and 2) are surprisingly adaptable to this purpose.
I thought you said "Simple"? - I have tried to keep stuff simple. Still, let me know if you think things could be changed to improve the player's comprehension. Unlike KH, I'm not overly concerned about the muzzle velocity of every piece of artillery.
The idea here is mass combat (yes, I know 8 dudes ain't exactly epic in scale) that has quick, easy resolution. As long as you can run a fairly organized and enjoyable game with these rules, I'm elated.
Dice - Have as many d10s around as you can. When you're dealing out 8 or more shots per element for multiple units, you're gonna need 'em.
All rolls are done on a d10 (no percentiles this time). This means you initially have to divide by 10 and round down to determine modifiers, ability scores, etc. I did this in the interest of time as it’s easier to read a handful of d10s thrown on the table than it is to roll percentile dice for each separate action.
At any rate, most of the dividing and rounding should be completed before the game begins and recorded on your sheet (you’ve done it before with your IM so this shouldn’t be that much heartburn).
Rounding Numbers - Numbers are ALWAYS rounded down in LandFleet, regardless of what operation is taking place. This makes it easy to remember and gives you an incentive to improve your ability scores as 59 (rounded down to 50) gives you the same result as 52.
Where are the Skills? - Don't get torqued about there being no skills in place at the moment. I plan on implementing those as bonuses for various combat tactics later on, but for now see how this system works.
The game will begin small (squad level) as we playtest different concepts. This will help keep rules simple and will also help us identify problems before enterprising folks start moving entire battalions around on the field!
The Element Roster and Troop Attributes
For your basic grunt troops (we'll add tank crews, pilots and all that other cool stuff in good time), use the average NPC stats for a race from Alpha Dawn (use Zeb's for the Rim races only) to begin with.
Since the Frontier is about getting along with others different than yourself, whenever you have a mixed unit, take the average of all scores in an attribute and record this as the element's score (remembering to round down). Movement rate is always determined by the slowest member of the squad.
You could conceivably raise your squad's STA score by throwing in some Drals. But ooops! You'd take down their collective DEX score by doing that, wouldn't you? A unit is only as strong as its weakest link. Cliche, but true.
STR - Your soldier's ability in melee/bare-handed fights
DO NOT USE DEX FOR MELEE FIGHTS
STA - A measure of how much damage your soldier can take
DEX - Your soldier's ability to use ranged weapons
RS - Your soldier's IM is this number divided by 10,
INT - This ability pair determines how easily a soldier
is surprised on the battlefield.
LDR - This ability pair determines how well a leader can
keep her element together in the thick of battle.
Record all attributes this way: STR - 5(2) for 52. In other words, divide by 10 and round down. In the dual attribute cases (LOG/INT and PER/LDR) take the average and divide by 10 (e.g. LOG/INT=45/45 45+45 = 90/2 =45).
This shorthand allows you to keep track of your soldier's actual STR and other attributes while it simplifies dice rolls. To score a melee hit, the above-mentioned trooper would have to score a 1-5 on a d10. The process is the same for ranged weapons except DEX is used.
The leader of an element is expected to be above the norm (even when starting out) and will typically have one or more elevated stats (add 5 to any attribute category).
Dealing weapons damage works this way. If you roll exactly the number needed, you do full damage. If you are one away, you do 3/4 damage, two away 1/2 damage, and three or more from the 'to hit' number 1/4 damage. All partial damage is rounded down.
Let's say the soldier above was in melee, using his rifle butt to explain Frontier values to a Sathar. He needs a 5 or less to hit and rolls a 2 on d10.
Had he rolled a 5, the rifle butt would have done max damage, a 4 would have yielded 3/4 of the hurt and a 3 would have given a walloping half of the maximum damage for a rifle butt. Since the roll was a 2 though, only 1/4 of the damage is inflicted (the hit was solid, but the slimy Sathar unfortunately dodged most of the brunt).
Note: An element must declare its energy setting before rolling to hit and all troopers in that unit will set identically.
"Everyone, set your rifles to 3 SEU. Do it, Troopers!"
Punching scores are never rounded down. Simply assume that max damage occurs for each punch that lands, regardless of the circumstances.
Taking damage works this way: Pool your element's STA points together (see roster above) and take damage out of this pool every time the enemy gets hits in on you (that aren't sucked up by applicable screens or suits). Every time you lose a trooper's worth of STA points from this pool, you lose a trooper.
The losing player decides which troop goes down and is perfectly justified in keeping his higher powered leader alive at the sacrifice of a lowly troop. You can imagine PVT Goota jumped in front of Sarge at the last second, saving her from a laser blast.
Keeping track of this can be a big pain and a hold up to fast-paced play. However, the screens and suits are there for your use so if you gotta have 'em (and would it really be SF if ya didn't have them?), please use them.
On your element roster, note how many SEU or STA points a suit or screen that your element has as a group. Every time your element takes an applicable type of damage (e.g. energy for albedo screens/suits), subtract it from this 'pool'.
Keep things on a one-for-one basis such as one SEU for damage pt absorbed from an energy weapon (not 1/5 as AD advocates); assume that everyone has protection from that weapon type until the last point goes away. However, once these pooled points are gone, you have to start taking damage out of the STA pool directly.
Until I figure out how much to charge in XP for suits and screens later (they will be worth at least double the damage points they prevent I'm thinking) allow standard ground pounders to have only skeinsuits. PGS weapons tend to be the main concern on planets as bullets are typically cheap to produce on groundside. New troops are sometimes cheaper than powerpacks.
Experience Points (A Fair Fight)
A soldier is worth the sum of his experience points. Since there are no skills to speak of as everything is covered by ability checks, a soldier attributes equal his experience.
Sum all of trooper's scores (only the tens place) to determine his XP value. Thus, a single Dral trooper from above is worth 26 points, while his squad leader is worth 27 points. This is how much it costs to field that trooper in your element at the beginning of gameplay.
My squad above costs 209 points to deploy, my opponent should deploy an equal XP amount of troops (and later equipment). Differences between sides XP values should not exceed 100 pts.
Half of a soldier's XP value is how much your troop is worth to the enemy if he is put out of commission (dead or captured).
After a battle, the winning side tallies up the XP of her opponents dead or captured troopers. As above she takes the total XP value of all enemy troops she has taken out of commission and halves this number. This is the spoils of war for the battle.
If she has a number of XP equal to or greater than the number of troops in all her elements, she may spend those points to improve them. Otherwise, she must bank them until she has equal to or greater than the number of troops in her elements.
For example, the Sathar player took out my Dral sergeant, worth 27 points total. Half of that is 13 (remember to always round down). Since his squad of 8 Sathar is equal to or less than the number of XP, his Sathar may use 8 of those points to raise attributes. The remaining 5 go into storage until the next battle.
1. Choose which forces will be played ensuring that XP
are roughly even on both sides (within 100 points).
2. Decide what kind of scenario to play (raid, patrol,
3. Determine how long the battle will last, usually set out in the scenario description. Standard game length is determined by rolling 1d5+5 for 6-10 turns.
4. Roll for Array Initiative; the losing side (Side B)
must set up their units first to simulate better intel on Side A’s part.
5. Both sides array their forces with Side B going first as explained above.
6. Once all forces are set up, begin using turns.
Sequence of Events During a Turn
1. Check for Surprise. The process is just like initiative except you use Surprise Modifiers (SMs) for both sides, not IMs.
If either side is surprised, the surprising element may either 1) move, 2) take ranged weapon action, OR 3) initiate melee if within range without opposition from the surpised party for this turn.
Once surprise actions have been settled, determine Initiative for the Turn.
2. Roll Initiative (Winner is designated Side A)
3. Side B moves (followed in sequence by other
sides not winning initiative according to
Note that only Side A may initiate melee even if
other sides move their troops into position this
turn. Side A may target any in-range enemy troops
at this time.
4. Side A moves. Other sides may target Side A
forces in-range of them in order of initiative
(best initiative roll--other than Side A--goes
first and so on).
5. Side A may initiate melee, if within range.
Other sides may initiate melee in order of
initiative (best initiative roll--other than
Side A--goes first and so on).
6. Defending side(s) resolve melee combat.
Each force will have a general, admiral or other similar character (maybe only a lance-corporal) serving as the leader of that force. Use this individual’s initiative modifier (even if it’s lower than other characters’ IMs in the group).
The player with the highest initiative (modified) wins
initiative (Side A). Where three or more players are involved, initiative will be sorted out by order of initiative rolls with the lowest score being the first to go, the next lowest going next and so on. Reroll all ties.
Dismounted characters may move up to a number of inches
equal to their kilometers per hour rate. Thus, a Dralasite could move 3 inches in the movement phase of the turn.
A mixed party must move no faster than the slowest member. Unlike long range movement with mixed parties,
as covered in the Expanded Rules, Dralasites may not
'tough it out' in order to keep as they may for long distances. This reflects less of an endurance activity and more a collection of speed bursts as characters move from cover to cover and so forth.
Characters mounted on animals may move twice their
dismounted distance. This does not change, regardless
of the creature ridden. A Dral riding a loper could move 6 inches in the movement phase. Again, mixed parties move as quickly as the slowest moving creature. Vrusk and Osakar typically cannot serve as mounted personnel.
An element must also maintain an interval between models of no more than 3 inches (regardless of race) in order to remain a cohesive unit. That is, no character may be more than 3 inches away from at least one other character. This includes mounted characters and vehicles.
Ground vehicles (including skimmers and hovercycles) may move 10 inches per turn. This is to simulate terrain difficulties and performance problems generally associated with vehicular movement on a battlefield.
Flying vehicles (e.g. aircars, jetcopters, characters
with jetpacks) may move 20 inches per turn.
*Note: All of these distances are arbitrary and designed to simulate various movement rates. They will not stand up to rigorous mathematical scaling efforts, nor are they intended to do so. They are a game convention only.
To simplify matters, all long ranged weapons may be used up to 30 inches away from the firing character. Rifles of all sorts as well as bows and muskets are considered to long ranged weapons for combat purposes.
All short range weapons to include pistols, spears,
slings and grenades may be used up to 10 inches away from the character in combat. Use the standard scatter diagram for determining grenade bounces.
All penalties and bonuses listed in Alpha Dawn Expanded
Rules Ranged Weapons Combat are applicable, if desired.
Application of these modifiers will make your game more
realistic as each side can attempt to take advantage of
terrain, cover and concealment, avenues of approach, etc.
Unlike some wargames, LandFleet allows one element to fire ranged weapons into a melee containing friendly troops. However, missed shots have a 50% chance of hitting friendlies (double that of AD) due to the high tempo encountered in combat.
Modifiers as listed in AD are divided by 10 and, as always, rounded down. Thus a Yazirian’s bonus to hit in melee during Battle Rage is +2 on the d10 roll, not +20.
Some players may wish to sacrifice a bit of realism for
speed and ease of turn resolution. For example, players may agree that firing a burst does not confer any sort of bonus to hit as outlined in the rules.
Modifiers may be dropped (or even invented) if all parties agree to this before play. This does not negate racial or unit specific permanent bonuses/ penalties, only situational modifiers such as terrain, target size, wounds, etc.
Characters within 3 inches of each other (at the beginning of the movement phase) may enter melee. Move all opposing characters within 3 inches of each other into base to base contact, if desired, to initiate melee.
Only Side A may initiate melee, even if Side B moves her models into contact with Side A elements during the movement phase; having initiative, Side A has seen the oncoming horde and is waiting for them to make their move toward them.
No more than 3 characters may attack another single enemy character in melee (though close ranged shots by comrades with pistols and the like are allowed--with the commensurate penalties (50% chance of hitting the ‘good guy’).
Per AD rules, soldiers get one bare-hand attack for each arm leg pair; osakar get only two attacks for unarmed melee combat. Characters using melee weapons are only allowed one attack during the melee phase.
Once all sides have had their action during the melee phase, it’s almost time to start another turn. First, all elements that have lost half of their units must check their morale to determine their action in the following turn.
For elements containing odd numbers of troops, add one to the original size before battle; if less than half of this number remains in the element at the end of a turn, a check must be made.
Once an element is required to make a morale check, it will continue to make morale checks for the remainder of the game as the effects of attrition wear on its members (even if they are reinforced by other elements the troops have quite a bit of laser-blastitis from seeing so many of their comrades going down).
Killing or Capture
It may be preferable to capture an enemy rather than killing him (XP points are the same regardless) and some missions may require capture of an enemy. The force wishing to capture simply states this before attacking a model (counter). Any damage from melee attackers will not result in the death of the potential captive, only unconsciousness.
A perfect to-hit roll (e.g. a STR of 6(5) would require a hit of exactly 6 in order to knock the captive out) results in the potential captive being knocked unconscious. He or she is entitled to a STA check, which if passed will negate any damage from that attack. If the check fails, the model is considered to be captured.
Only Sathar have demonstrated consistent willingness (inability to do otherwise seems possible as well) to suicide on the battlefield. Sathar wishing to suicide do so automatically, but must declare suicide before the movement phase of the turn. Suiciding characters forfeit any movement or attacks they would make and are worth double XP to the opposing side(s).
Victory or Death?
If a mission requires that an objective be achieved, then the action that achieves that objective ends the game. For example, one side may be required to destroy a power generator while the other side defends.
The only way the defender can win is by destroying the attacking force completely (as only one troop could conceivably sabotage the objective) or by holding them off until the game turns end; you can imagine that the attackers realize that it is hopeless at this point and withdraw to fight another day.
Destruction of the generator immediately results in victory (even if that side has only one troop remaining).
The winner of an objective based mission gains 30 XP on top of any XP he may have accumulated due to enemy casualties (including captives). The defeated side still gets XP based on enemy casualties, but no extra XP.
Purge Missions have only one objective: Destruction of the enemy. No terrain or equipment is especially valuable and the sole purpose of the fight is the elimination of the enemy.
At the end of the number of turns specified before the battle commenced (1d5 +5), XP gathered from enemy forces are tallied. Ensure that all players have finished their actions for the final turn before counting up XP.
All forces are awarded the number of XP earned, but the side with the highest amount wins the battle and gains +25 bonus XP. In case of a tie, no bonus is awarded and the battle is considered a draw.
Standard missions are fought on a surface measuring at least 3’ x 6’ (for every foot of width, double the length). Opposing elements should begin the game no closer than 15 inches apart but may be farther away if the mission so dictates. Use 15” distance between opposing forces as the standard set-up for a mission unless otherwise specified.
Per Array Initiative rules, Side B deploys all of its forces first to simulate intel advantage on the part of Side A. Once both sides are set up, roll for the first turn’s initiative and commence the game.
Sample Scenario - More scenarios are on the way.
Attack - One force attacks a defending force, causing as much damage as possible before withdrawing.
Troop XP size: Each side should field between 200-250 XP points.
Duration: 1d5 + 5 turns
Type Mission: Objective-Based
Objective: Attacker must inflict 50% casualties before Game’s end or lose the battle.
The winner of Array Initiative must be the Attacker for this mission.
Side B will set up his forces in a stationary setting. This can be a temporary overnight arrangement for troops on the move or it can be a firebase arrangement, if desired. No defender elements may be more than 10” away from other defender forces (they are consolidated for potential trouble).
Side A sets up his elements anywhere he wishes, but no closer than 15” away from Side B’s troops.
Combat Modifiers: Side A has -10 to all ranged weapons hits due to covered positions used by Side B.
Bonus XP Situations:
Attacker: Capture of the Enemy Leader (+5)
Death of the Enemy Leader (+2)
Defender: Capture/Death of 50% of the Enemy (+5)
LandFleet Force Organization
I'm working on this concept right now, and would appreciate any simplifying help that anyone could chuck my way. This section is open to comment (who came up with that cool LandFleet organization stuff again?) and much change. I'm basing this on a melding of my Army infantry experience and the few dealings I've had with the Marines.
(3-5) Battalions (4 line companies (400) + Support Co)
(5) Companies (100 beings incl NCOs, CO, XO, 3 PCs)
(3) Platoons (30 troops incl NCOs + LT)
(3) Squad (7 troops +1 NCO)
Ranks Typical Element Commanded
General Army (Militia)
Lieutenant Colonel Battalion or Regiment XO
Major Battalion XO or Battalion
Sergeant Major Senior NCO for Bn or larger
Sergeant Platoon Sgt
Lance Corporal Team
Giant Bears Can Lick My Cold Liver (mnemonic for officer ranks).
Divisions are the largest of these elements and
most armies have at least three of these massive
troop gatherings in order to accomplish any missions
that may arise.
Regiments are the next lower echelon. They are comprised of three to five battalions. Battalions are the smallest element that are self-sufficient. They are capable of feeding and equipping themselves and contain a number of
support specialties to provide logistical and other
Battalions, in turn, are generally formed by five companies, one of which is a support company responsible for providing not only logistical support, but heavy firepower, commo to higher echelons, and organic air transport, if needed. Battalions are grouped in three general categories: armor, infantry, artillery.
Companies are the lifeblood of LandFleet elements. Headed by captains, these elements typically number 100 beings strong. Three platoons of thirty troops each comprise a company. The remaining ten beings are the company’s XO, first sergeant, cook, supply sergeant, commo and maintenance specialists.
Platoons form the backbone of LandFleet. Thirty beings
including a lieutenant platoon commander, a platoon
sergeant and three squad leaders, one heavy weapons
fire coordinator (artillery, airstrikes, orbital bombardment requests, etc.) form the platoon.
Each squad is composed of eight troops headed by a
corporal or a sergeant. The squad may be broken down into two four-being fire teams, but typically remains together as its size limits its firepower if it is lessened any more.