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Aircraft Spacecraft Dogfighting Rules

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Has anyone done anything to add more of a dogfighting element to the vehicle combat rules? Specifically, I'm interested in rules for stunts, trying to get on your targets tail, and the advantages of altitude as they could be applied to fighter aircraft. I've got a few ideas in mind (nothing too tactical or complex), but I was wondering if anyone else has tried this in the past.


I'd also be interested in any input on the idea; if you'd think it would be an interesting addition to a campaign with extensive vehicular combat or if it just seems like rules bloat in your opinion.


EDIT: Forgive the subject please, it appears that some punctuation was consumed in posting. Assume it says "Aircraft/Spacecraft Dogfighting Rules".

Edited by marsuniversity
Explained subject line issue.

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Honestly, the best space/aerial dogfights I've ever run have been the ones where I didn't attempt to stick directly to the rules. Explaining that a fighter was a 11 o'clock high and 3 o'clock low and having the players explain how they were maneuvering, asking for a piloting roll + maneuver, making a couple rolls for the enemy pilots, and then explaining how the player's ship "pulled a sharp right pitch and kicked the vertical thrusters at full to flip the nose of the craft around to track the enemy fighter on the right as it darted low to avoid your sudden maneuver, leaving you an easy burn of the engines to end up right on its tail."


It kept things moving without having to worry about what certain difficulty would be for a particular maneuver, or what maneuver could or could not be done in a particular craft.


So I'd suggest being careful with the amount of rules that you include. You may not want to be too specific with special maneuvers, but instead present helpful examples of how a GM could handle the fluidity of space combat (space combat akin to Star Wars space combat, though, or Babylon 5 space combat, not "actual" space combat...unless that's what you're going for.) If you ARE going for down and dirty realistic space combat, you may want to look into the Black Desert, specifically the "The Pumpkin Suit's Manual: Easy Rules for Hard Science Fiction" by Blue Max Studios.

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I definitely have cinematic combat in mind as my end goal here, and I definitely don't want to ruin the elegance of the system with excessive rules. That said, I want to have something quick and simple to reflect the advantages of getting behind your target and being able to dive to gain an advantage (I'm looking at aerial combat for what I'm working on now). Stunts can probably best be handled by a list of guidelines, I was just curious if anyone had done anything special with them in the past.


This is what I'm initially considering:


To get on someone's tail (behind another plane) requires an opposed Piloting test against the pilot of he vehicle you're attempting to tail. While behind them, you get a +5 bonus (I considered +10, but that might be too much) to Marksmanship tests to fire on the target, due to the advantage in position. (Alternatively, this could be a matching penalty to the defender using Pilot to dodge attacks from their pursuer.)


For tracking altitude/diving, each plane would track its current Elevation Units - an abstract number representing its altitude. EUs range from 1 (skimming the ground) to 10 (the maximum altitude of current aircraft technology in the setting) - 0 would be ground level (going to zero would cause a crash landing to occur). A plane can climb a certain amount each round; this could be a vehicle characteristic or based on its Move or Maneuverability (haven't decided, leaning towards a new characteristic), which could be exceeded with a Pilot test (say difficulty 10 +5 per every extra EU - 15 for 1, 20 for 2, etc.). A plane can dive, losing any amount of EUs in exchange for a matching bonus on a single Piloting test against an opponent. So, you could drop from 9 EUs (very high up) to 3 (getting close to mountains or larger skyscrapers), a loss of 6 elevation, to gain a +6 bonus on a Pilot test if you needed to avoid an attack, get behind your opponent, and so on. An alternative tactic could be to keep your elevation purposefully low (between 1-3) in the right environment (urban, mountainous, canyons) to force any opponents trying to tail you (as well as yourself) to make Pilot tests regularly to avoid crashing into obstacles.


What does everyone think? It seems like a simple way to push the players toward common air combat tropes to me, but I've been working in more rules-intensive systems the past few years, and I could be overthinking this.

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