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Old 03-23-2011, 01:02 PM   #1
Onkl
 
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Default A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

Hi

One of the groups I play with recently decided that they are interested in playing a high TL space campaign. Their idea is to play a group of space-faring adventurers, each commanding his own ship, making a buck by any means available. The kind of guy you play in the computer games series Elite, or more recent: Privateer.

We are still in the brainstorming phase, still I already have a major problem, that of spaceship size and the corresponding cost. It makes a lot of sense that modules on larger ships cost more than modules on smaller ships. I now have a problem with balancing that.

Say one of my players wants to play a freighter (SM+10) Captain, the next wants to command a science vessel (SM+8) and the third wants to play a deep-strike fighter (SM+6) pilot.

If I got the rules correctly, the freighter costs a multitude of a fighter, as it should. My question now is IF/HOW can I incorporate these different ships into a fun game. It's not just the starting money to buy a ship with that's worrying me, but also rewards... as a module for a SM+10 ship has a lot more worth than for a ship with a smaller size, so if I give them money, the fighter will have the best systems in no time while the freighter wasn't able to buy a single new system.

Does anybody have any experience with such a mixed group of player controlled ships?

Of course I thought about just telling them that they all must pick a ship of a certain SM and give them an appropriate amount of credits to buy a ship that fits their needs. But if it is avoidable I would like to give them as much freedom as possible when designing their starting ship.

Thanks for your suggestions and tips!

Onkl
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:11 PM   #2
johndallman
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

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Originally Posted by Onkl View Post
Their idea is to play a group of space-faring adventurers, each commanding his own ship, making a buck by any means available. The kind of guy you play in the computer games series Elite, or more recent: Privateer.
Are they going to be competing or cooperating? If competing, you have a problem in that they will naturally separate and spread out through space. So you'll be dealing with them individually, and they'll be getting a rather small proportion of the action relevant to them - not to mention being hard on the GM that has to run different stuff for each of them.

If they are cooperating, then they need a coherent set of ships that can be used together to take advantage of opportunities. But it doesn't sound as if that's the plan.
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

One thing is that refitting ships isn't that attractive a thing under the usual Spaceships system. There's not much of the steady spectrum of interchangeable parts like you typically see in the games you're modeling this on. If you leave that as it is, the fighter pilot's riches will...buy him the best fighter on the market, probably new rather than by upgrading his starter bit-by-bit, and plenty of fuel and AM warheads if he wants them, but it just won't take him all that far without moving up to a larger hull.

If they're working independently, their pay is going to be substantially affected by the size of their ship, in line with the costs. You should be earning your appropriate return on capital, so if the freighter costs an order of magnitude more, it'll earn about an order of magnitude more for similar time and risk. Of course, if the freighter and science vessel do low-risk work and the fighter pilot runs risks and succeeds, the latter may reap greater riches, especially after expenses. A freighter running safe, well-trafficked routes can expect to make basically no profit beyond interest.

Similarly, if they're working together, they probably shouldn't be dividing the take evenly. The fighter pilot isn't bringing an equivalent resource contribution, he shouldn't get an equal cut of the revenues. You could make this the PC's (or players') problem.
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:47 PM   #4
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Are they going to be competing or cooperating? If competing, you have a problem in that they will naturally separate and spread out through space. So you'll be dealing with them individually, and they'll be getting a rather small proportion of the action relevant to them - not to mention being hard on the GM that has to run different stuff for each of them.

If they are cooperating, then they need a coherent set of ships that can be used together to take advantage of opportunities. But it doesn't sound as if that's the plan.
The plan for them is to cooperate, our idea was that the ships should be different as in characters are different. I would not gm a competing game like that... way too much hassle!

Of course you can make a freighter with an SM+6 ship, but you're not going to transport a lot...
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
One thing is that refitting ships isn't that attractive a thing under the usual Spaceships system. There's not much of the steady spectrum of interchangeable parts like you typically see in the games you're modeling this on. If you leave that as it is, the fighter pilot's riches will...buy him the best fighter on the market, probably new rather than by upgrading his starter bit-by-bit, and plenty of fuel and AM warheads if he wants them, but it just won't take him all that far without moving up to a larger hull.
Good point, I'm not sure how to model that... Laser Mk1 < Laser Mk2, but there is only one Laser in the book.. Any ideas?

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
Similarly, if they're working together, they probably shouldn't be dividing the take evenly. The fighter pilot isn't bringing an equivalent resource contribution, he shouldn't get an equal cut of the revenues. You could make this the PC's (or players') problem.
That's a start... I'll have to make calculations to see how this would play out... there should probably be a max delta allowed between the smallest and the biggest ship...

So far I'm not thrilled by what you told me :) Seems to be more difficult than I thought!
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:11 PM   #6
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

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Good point, I'm not sure how to model that... Laser Mk1 < Laser Mk2, but there is only one Laser in the book.. Any ideas?
It wouldn't be too hard to whip up a series of cheap-quality beam weapons that punch below their weight. And you could offer a cut rate on lower-than-campaign-TL beam types or missiles. You could do similar things with other systems.

If you want player ships to go up from the setting TL rather than up to it (I think the latter is more realistic, but players might prefer the former), you could let them get 'prototype' or otherwise cutting-edge gear that performs up to, say, a TL better than normal, for extortionate prices.

(In particular, it's established that the best available armor materials at a given TL are substantially better than the Spaceships listing, because power armor and ground vehicles couldn't have the stats they do otherwise.)

If you want lots of part-swapping on a single hull, as seen in Elite type games, make the player ships with at least some modular systems (SS4:6) so that it's relatively cheap and easy to change them out.
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That's a start... I'll have to make calculations to see how this would play out... there should probably be a max delta allowed between the smallest and the biggest ship...
Depends how flexible you and the players feel, and what sort of thing you're planning to do. You probably don't want the fighter pilot player to be just one of a flock of NPC fighters flying out of another player's carrier...unless they'd be happy leading the group's 'air cover'.
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So far I'm not thrilled by what you told me :) Seems to be more difficult than I thought!
Spaceships often seems that way in general.
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Old 03-23-2011, 04:54 PM   #7
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

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The plan for them is to cooperate, our idea was that the ships should be different as in characters are different. I would not gm a competing game like that... way too much hassle!
Well, in that case you might like to consider that having a more expensive ship does not necessarily imply getting more attention from the GM and other players, being able to outclass a cheaper vessel at its own speciality, or having more fun. So you can probably work on "spotlight time" and "niche protection" directly, and not worry about character point or dollar equality.
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Old 03-23-2011, 05:15 PM   #8
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

The freighter is probably the cheapest, in terms of ISK per kg, since cargo holds are rather cheap. Whether the science vessel is the most relatively expensive I cannot say. If the fighter is too cheap, you might consider change to a fighter squadron, giving the pilot some leadership tasks too.
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Old 03-23-2011, 05:17 PM   #9
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

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The freighter is probably the cheapest, in terms of ISK per kg
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Old 03-23-2011, 05:30 PM   #10
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Default Re: A Campaign in Space / Balancing of Spaceships with different SM

Your problem has nothing to do with SM. Your problem is that the kinds of adventures a freighter captain, a scientist, and a fighter pilot want to go on have little or nothing in common.
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