Advance Ruling

Advance Ruling

Vehicles and Vehicle Combat

It's largely an issue in Sirian, but still occasionally happens in Vaxia: having to handle combat when vehicles are involved. It's important to note that "vehicle" here means anything that propels one or more characters around the battlefield, so a horse can be a vehicle as easily as a tank or a thruster backpack.

Understanding Vehicle Stats
Vehicles have four stats:

  • LIF is the HP of the vehicle. At zero, it’s disabled. At negative its LIF, it's beyond repair.
  • END is its armor and helps defend against outside attacks. It replaces the END might for passengers and pilot alike for any damage coming from outside the vehicle.
  • STR is the power of its weapons or its ramming speed for attacking. This replaces the pilot's stat, just like the fixed STR of a handheld gun would.
  • DEX is the maneuverability of the vehicle. This is the maximum might that a pilot driving/flying it can use. If the pilot's might (DEX + skill) is less than the vehicle's DEX, use the pilot's might. Else, use the vehicle's DEX. It serves as a cap.

You can see a list of standard vehicle numbers on the Sirian Vehicle Numbers or Vaxian Ships and Vehicles pages.

Vehicle Combat
When it comes to taking or dealing damage from the outside, these Stats will overlap the pilot or passengers most of the time. If the vehicle is rammed by another vehicle, it's the vehicle's END stat and pilot's DEX might (assuming it's not higher than the ship's DEX stat) that determines damage or dodge results. The passengers inside don't get to roll to dodge unless they're leaping out of the vehicle.

The pilot still uses their piloting skill and their own DEX might, capped by the vehicle's DEX - its maximum maneuverability. In combat, a pilot attacking uses the STR of the vehicle rather than her own for determining the STR might of any attacks (whether it's ramming or firing fixed-position weaponry, like the guns on a fighter jet). The piloting skill serves as a combat skill while flying, so it's:

  • Pilot DEX + Pilot Skill
  • Vehicle STR + Pilot Skill
  • Vehicle END + Pilot Skill

There is no need to roll to fly the ship and also roll to attack - it's just one roll, and it uses DEX and STR instead of DEX and INT for non-combat piloting. All the maneuvers and skillful flying are just part of the attack or dodge.

Except in special circumstances, the only combat actions available to vehicles are Attack and Dodge. A vehicle that specifically has shield capabilities can attempt to Block, and targeting an enemy's guns should be ruled like a Parry.

Open Vehicles
Vehicles which don't contain the pilot/rider/driver, like motorcycles, thruster packs or horses, don't lend their END stat to the pilot or passengers for defensive purposes. In those cases, use the END of the pilot/passenger instead, unless the attacker is specifically targeting the vehicle (in which case, use its stats).

A passenger or pilot may attempt to dodge if they flee the vehicle (jumping off a bike or out of a shuttle, for instance), in which case they use all their own stats for the dodge attempt. Similarly, vehicles like shuttles or APCs that come with gun ports can allow passengers to use their own stats (plus whatever weapon they're firing) for combat in addition to the pilot's actions.

Non-combat piloting
Outside of combat, pilots use far more care and far less instinct for flying, represented by the fact that it becomes a Tech roll (DEX & INT) instead of a combat roll (DEX/STR/END). The same piloting skill is used, with the same vehicle cap on the DEX might.

"Non-combat" piloting just means the pilot isn't taking a combat action (attack, dodge, etc). A pipe fighter landing in the middle of a shoot-out uses DEX & INT to land, even though they're technically in combat.

Vehicle Death
When a vehicle reaches 0 LIF, it should become immobile or inoperable. Onboard systems like communications or life support may remain intact, but the ship can no longer fight, dodge, maneuver, etc. At best, it may be able to limp along at a very slow pace.

Vehicles can be repaired just like people can be healed. Someone with an appropriate vehicle repair skill repairs one point of LIF per PP on their repair roll. The moment a ship crosses back into positive LIF, it becomes operational again.

A vehicle that reaches negative it's LIF total is completely destroyed. Ships may explode or else lose all systems (comms, life support, etc), which may have dire consequences for those inside. A ship which reaches this point can no longer be repaired, though some key parts may be salvaged to help in the building of a new vehicle later.

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Staying Conscious

When characters take enough damage to hit zero LIF, but not enough to hit negative their LIF score, they fall unconscious but are still alive.

If a character wishes to try and stay conscious despite crossing the zero-LIF mark, they must make a roll using against 25 + the damage they've taken past zero LIF.
For example, if a character with LIF 30 takes 45 damage and wishes to stay conscious, they will need to roll again a difficulty of 40:

25 base + 15 damage taken past LIF 0 = 40

Several characters have a skill for exactly this situation, commonly called a "hardcore" skill. The skill is added to their chosen stat might to assist with the attempt at Staying Conscious

Which stat to use can vary, however End is the most common stat to be used, however Str, Spir or Cha could also be used pending on the character's theme.

As an additional ruling, you can base how long the character can remain conscious on the PP they generate with the stay-conscious roll, often giving them PP/7 rounds of consciousness before they must roll again. If a character produces 15 PP on their initial roll, they get two rounds of consciousness before they have to roll again. Any damage they've taken in those two rounds is added to the new roll's difficulty, so it can be trickier to stay conscious the longer they keep fighting.

NOTE: Hardcore skills are deceptively dangerous. A lone combatant against a villainous foe obviously has to worry about passing out in the middle of a fight, as it leaves them defenseless. However, when fighting in a group, many combatants will ignore someone who falls unconscious in favor of others still slinging spells or throwing punches.

What that means is that falling unconscious is a bit of a safety net in more dangerous situations, since most sessions involve a group who can come to the add of a party member who drops or otherwise draw off attackers simply by still being an active combatant.

By contrast, staying in the fight when you're already past zero LIF keeps enemies engaged and makes the character a target. Allies may not even realize how close to death they are, since they're still up and fighting as if they're relatively unharmed. Be wary of characters staying conscious despite grievous injury, as it becomes much, much easier for them to reach negative their LIF score and be gone for good. Staying conscious is a gamble, and should be used with caution.

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Environmental Damage

"Environmental damage" is any time a character takes damage that wasn't caused by a direct, intentional force. When a mage casts a spell at you, that's direct and intentional. If the mage's spell misses you but knocks out a load-bearing beam that drops the ceiling on you both, the falling ceiling is environmental. The same thing is true if someone falls to jump across a chasm and hits the ground below, hard. Or if someone is caught in an avalanche, or breathing the toxic air in a sealed crypt.

But what Stats do you give a falling ceiling or an avalanche to determine the damage it deals, and how do you determine what stat the PCs use to resist getting crushed, buried or suffocated?

Resisting Environmental Damage
The simplest way to calculate Environmental Damage (if you don't want to try to figure out the relative Strength stat for gravity) is to instead pick a base damage for the affected characters to roll against.

Let's take our falling ceiling example. Let's say we set the base damage for a falling ceiling at 15 PP. That's the damage a PC standing under that roof would take unless they can dodge or resist the damage.

Then, have the PC roll the appropriate stat(s) against a difficulty of 1. Any PP they produce are subtracted from the base damage, and if anything remains, that's the damage the PC takes. If they produce as many or more PP as the base damage, they avoided or resisted taking any damage at all.

This formula works with either single-trait rulings (someone rolling CON to resist the effects of toxic air in a sealed crypt, or rolling END to sump a fall from a high height) or two-trait rulings (rolling DEX and END to avoid and resist damage from our falling ceiling). In both cases, the difficulty is 1, and any PP generated subtracts from the base damage you set.

Determining Base Damage
All that remains is to set the appropriate base damage for the environmental effect.

It's important to keep in mind that, most of the time, a character will be resisting with a stat only. Most combat and magic skills aren't directly applicable to resisting environmental damage (although many mages could chose to try and conjure a shield instead rather than simply rolling END). So understand the scale you're working from.

If your average PC is bringing a stat of 25 to the situation, then 80% of the time they'll only sump 4-5 damage from an environmental effect. Even someone with a high stat and skill who brings an 80 might to the situation is only sumping 15 damage 80% of the time. Use that to gauge the best base damage to set based on the situation, so you know what to expect.

Base damage most of the time for environmental effects should be 10. Anything above 10, assume that most of your PCs will be taking the difference. In our falling ceiling example, at 15 PP, you can expect most of the characters to take 5-10 damage. Some exceptional effects (being caught in a lava avalanche, teleporting to the bottom of the ocean by mistake, etc) will go beyond that, but the majority should fall within the 5-15 range.

For specific examples, refer to our Environmental Damage Base Damage Chart

Special Cases - Falling and Space
Falling damage follows the same rules, with one exception - it scales based on how far the character is falling. Set your base damage to how many feet the character has fallen when they land (a 20-foot fall has 20 PP of base damage). That may seem extreme, but in the real world, a fall of over 30 feet is rarely survivable. In IC terms, that would only knock out most characters, if that (and if they absorbed none of the damage at all), so we're actually allowing for falls from higher heights, because it's a game :)

Additionally, we currently have exactly one environmental situation that follows separate rules than these - space. They're listed at the bottom of the Monkeys in Space wiki page.

Normally applicable only to Sirian, the space rules handle round-by-round rulings for anyone suddenly finding themselves in a vacuum. If you feel inclined, you can use similar rules for handling situations like drowning or deep ocean environments (extreme pressure, extreme cold, lack of air) or toxic environments (holding breath, dealing with corrosive effects, etc).

Armor and Environmental Damage
The damage reduction from Armor and Shields does NOT protect or absorb Environmental Damage from sources like natural fire, extreme cold, noxious gas, etc.

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