Planet

Proposed Hero System Vehicle Rules v1.3, 03/30/92

This system requires the use of the 4th edition Hero system rules, copyright © 1990 by Hero Games, and portions of this text are copyright © 1990 by Hero Games; its use is not intended in any way to diminish the rights of the original authors. The remainder of this text is copyright © 1992 by Don McKinney, who acknowledges great assistance from Jud Kenney, Chris Gray, John Pedigo, and Susan McKinney, all of whom argued with or about significant portions of the several drafts.

Permission is granted to upload this text in electronic format to public and private bulletin boards and networks, as long as this copyright statement remains attached and is not altered in any way.

[Formatter's Note: The original (non-HTML) copy of this text can be found on the Red October site.]

Introduction

The original version of these rules was posted to Red October, and version 1.1 was in CLOCKWORK HERO #9. Unfortunately, before that issue was published, several problems with that version were pointed out to me, spawning more changes.

The intent of these rules is to make vehicle building in the HERO system a practical device, from starships to tanks.

What Has Changed From V1.2

  • Mass, Space and Crew requirements are now all limitation based; limits on what powers these limitations are applicable to have been removed.

  • Sections have been slightly reorganized, so that all the various mass or crew requirements are in their own sections.

  • There is no inertia-based, thruster movement. Vehicles operate much like characters in the normal game. Playability over realism.

  • Scale Modifiers added for ranged attacks, senses and movement.

  • Example added to show how the system works, based roughly on Classic Traveller's Scout ship.

    Scout Ship

Vehicle Characteristics

Size

The size of a vehicle is very important; as size increases, so too does the vehicle's BODY and STR. Also, since passengers take up internal space, a larger vehicle will be able to carry more passengers than a smaller one.

The size of a vehicle is determined in the same fashion as the size of characters; however, vehicles are horizontal rather than vertical. Thus, the base vehicle size is 1 hex long and one-half hex wide. This size can be increased according to the Vehicle Size:

Each increment of size costs 5 points; -2 DCV worth of size thus costs 15 points, and is equal to a level of Growth that has been bought Persistent and Always On.

The lengths and widths presented are not absolute; the builder can alter them somewhat so long as the number of total hexes remains the same. The interior size of a vehicle is equal to half the external size, with a minimum of one-half hex.

Example: We are designing a small private vessel for a science-fiction campaign. We want it to carry the entire party (7 characters), plus some room for cargo, have FTL capability, an okay engine, a radio, a computer, and a laser for defense (it-s dangerous in space). We estimate that with 7 passengers, we will need plenty of room. So, we build a 16x8 ship (60 pts.).

VEHICLE SIZE TABLE

CostCrewLengthWidthAreaDCVKBBODYSTR
0-10.50.5-0-01010
5-1.250.640.8-0-11115
10-1.60.81.3-1-21220
15-212.0-2-31325
20-2.51.253.1-2-41430
25-3.21.65.1-3-51535
30-428.0-4-61640
35-52.512.5-4-7 1745
40-6.43.220.5-5-81850
45-8432-6-91955
50110550-6-102060
55212.56.480-7-112165
603168128-8-122270
6552010200-8-132375
7082512.5312-9-142480
75123216512-10-152585
80204020800-10-162690
853250251250-11-172795
905064322048-12-1828100
958080403200-12-1929105
100125100505000-13-2030110
105200125648000-14-2131115
1103201608012800-14-2232120
11550020010020000-15-2333125
12080025012531250-16-2434130
125128032016051200-16-2535135
130200040020080000-17-2636140
1353125500250125000-18-2737145
1405120640320204800-18-2838150
1458000800400320000-19-2939155
15012500 1000500500000-20-3040160

STR

This is the lifting STR of the vehicle, and thus determines how much mass the vehicle can carry and still move. Vehicle STR can lift exactly as much as character STR. The base STR for a vehicle is 10; this increases as the SIZE increases. STR can also be bought separately, to reflect an especially robust or powerful but small vehicle. STR bought independently costs 1 point per point of STR.

The mass shown on the table is the total mass that can be lifted for the STR of the vehicle at that size. That STR could be bought up or down. It is not the base mass of the vehicle, or the vehicle could not carry anything else on it. A vehicle may be overloaded; this means that more mass is being lifted by the vehicle than its STR allows, and control and movement are adversely affected:

STR required to liftaffect on vehicle movement/control
normal STRno effect
STR + 5#turns/phase halved
accel/decel time x2
STR + 10#turns/phase quartered
accel/decel time x4
above STR + 10vehicle cannot move
(stalls or stops)

Example: Our vessel should only be about 100 tons, but comes with a 70 STR. So, we sell back 9 pts. of STR, leaving us with 61 STR. This gives us a maximum mass of 120 tons.

BODY

BODY indicates the structural integrity of the vehicle, and how much damage it can take before it falls apart. The base BODY for a vehicle is 10; this will increase as the vehicle's size increases. The vehicle's BODY can also be bought up independently; in this case, the cost is 1 point per point of BODY.

The BODY of a vehicle is also used to determine the interior wall values. For example, any door hatches leading to the outside of the vehicle will have the same BODY and DEF as the vehicle. Interior walls will have DEF equal to half the vehicle's BODY, with BODY equal to half the vehicle's BODY. Interior doors will have values equal to half again of the interior wall.

DEF

This is the defense of the vehicle, functioning as both PD and ED, and is fully resistant. A vehicle begins with 2 DEF; this can be increased by +1 DEF for 3 points. DEF normally protects all parts of the vehicle but it is possible to buy armor that only protects the vehicle from attacks from a certain direction. See Defenses (under POWERS, below).

       Recommended minimums:          5 for normal vehicles
                                     10 for heavy vehicles
                                     15 for normal space vehicles
                                     20 for combat space vehicles

Example: Our ship is a normal space vehicle, so we buy 15 DEF. That DEF is bought with the normal mass limitation, so it is 39 active, 19 real points.

DEX

This represents the intrinsic handling ability of the vehicle; the higher the DEX, the more difficult the vehicle will be to hit in combat. Thus a fighter plane will have a higher DEX than a bulldozer. When in combat, a vehicle will have the DCV based on its own DEX or the DEX of its driver, whichever is lower.

Recommended minimums:         5 for slow/unwieldy vehicles
                             10 for normal vehicles
                             15 for maneuverable vehicles
                             20 for very maneuverable vehicles
                             25 for extremely maneuverable vehicles

Example: Our ship is a normal vehicle, so we buy no extra DEX (or SPD).

SPD
Vehicles have a SPD, like characters. The vehicle's SPD controls how often the vehicle moves (not how fast), and how often the driver can adjust the vehicle's direction. Responsive vehicles, like sports cars, have a higher SPD than station wagons. It is possible for a vehicle to have a SPD higher than the driver; in this case, the vehicle is "too responsive", and the driver will not be able to use it to its fullest potential.
       Recommended minimums:         1 for slow vehicles
                                     2 for normal vehicles
                                     3 for fast vehicles
                                     4 for very fast vehicles
                                     5 for extremely fast vehicles

Vehicle Powers

A base or vehicle can have Powers or Talents that are intended to affect all of it. For these all-inclusive abilities, the builder should simply buy the Power with the appropriate Advantages and Limitations.

Any equipment must be self-powered; that is, it must be bought to 0 END, run off charges, or have an END Reserve. It is possible to have a single large END Reserve for an entire base or vehicle; this would simulate the large power plant and batteries possessed by many bases and vehicles.

Scale Modifiers: This advantage is only allowed for vehicle powers, and then usually is applicable only to movement powers, weapons and sensors. The scale modifier takes the place of increased range, ranged levels, non-combat multiples for movement, and the like. The basic effect is simple: instead of each game hex being equal to 2 meters across, the game hex is treated as being much larger, and powers with this advantage work normally otherwise. Range and PER modifiers for distance are applied at the normal number of hexes, but those hexes are far larger than normal.

Scale Modifier (Hex Size)Advantage Level
tactical scale (2 meters/hex)+0
non-combat scale (1 km/hex)+1
planetary scale (1,000 km/hex)+2
inter-planetary scale (1,000,000 km/hex)+3
system scale (1 LY/hex)+4
stellar scale (1 parsec/hex)+5

Focus Limitations: Vehicle equipment is usually bought with a Focus limitation, unless it is intrinsically a part of the vehicle. It is possible to destroy vehicle foci without destroying the vehicle (any vehicle power which can be destroyed without destroying the vehicle should be bought as a focus). An Accessible Focus (OAF/IAF) is outside the DEF of the vehicle, and gets the amount of DEF indicated in the focus rules. Inaccessible Foci get their own DEF plus that of the vehicle. Obvious Foci are recognizable for what they are and the function they preform. Inobvious Foci are hidden as part of the vehicle.

Space Limitations: Only vehicle equipment bought as foci normally take this limitation. Equipment bought with this limitation require internal space on the vehicle derived from the table below, based on the real points in the power:

            Item Space                         Limitation Bonus
             No Space                                -0
 Half Space (1 hex/15 real points)                  -1/4
Normal Space (1 hex/10 real points)                 -1/2
 Double Space (1 hex/5 real points)                  -1

With this limitation, fractional hexes should be accounted if the real cost of the equipment allows for 1/2 or 1/4 hex spaces.

Mass Limitations: Similar to the space limitations, an limitation based on the mass of the equipment is available. For every hex of space occupied by the equipment, apply this limitation. Further, this limitation may be taken on DEF, at the option of the GM, and can be used to simulate various types of technological armors.

          Item Mass                          Limitation Bonus
           No Mass                                  -0
    Quarter Mass (25 kg/hex)                       -1/4
     Half Mass (50 kg/hex)                         -1/2
    Normal Mass (100 kg/hex)                        -1
    Double Mass (200 kg/hex)                      -1 1/2

Crew Limitations: Finally, the crew requirement for equipment will vary depending on the size of the crew limitation taken. The crew requirement is based on the real cost of the equipment before this limitation is considered.

     First Crewman Req. at                  Limitation Bonus
            No Crew                                -0
  Small Crew (45 real points)                     -1/4
  Normal Crew (30 real points)                    -1/2
  Large Crew (15 real points)                      -1
   Full Crew (0 real points)                     -1 1/2

    Add. Crewmen for every                  Additional Bonus
  Normal Crew (15 real points)                     -0
   Heavy Crew (10 real points)                    -1/4
  Double Crew (5 real points)                     -1/2

The first part of the limitation indicates the base size of equipment that one man can handle; for each limitation, the power must have at least the real points listed. Taking the "0 real points" limitation means that the device needs at least one dedicated crewman, no matter what its size, while the "no crew" limitation means that the device requires no dedicated personnel at all. The second part of the limitation indicates how many additional crewmen will be required above the initial crewman, depending on how large the item is, and may only be taken if the power exceeds the base limitation by the additional amount or more.

Duplicate Equipment: It is cheaper to buy the same piece of equipment several times. For +5 points, the builder can double the number of pieces of equipment; this number can be bought more than once. However, these additional pieces of equipment still have space and mass requirements, and crew as well, unless they are intended to replace damaged or destroyed equipment from battle.

Movement

This is the actual ability of the vehicle to move. All vehicles begin with 6" Running and a x2 non-combat multiplier. Vehicles can buy additional movement according to the standard rules.

Movement TypeCost per 1" Base MoveMinimum Cost
Running2 pts6"----
Flying2 pts0"10 points
Swimming1 pt0"----
Gliding1 pt0"5 points
Superleap1 pt0"5 points
Swinging1 pt0"5 points
Teleportation2 pt0"20 points
Tunneling5 pt0"10 points
Extra-Dimensional
  Movement
--------20 points
FTL Travel--------10 points
Clinging--------10 points

All movement powers have a x2 non-combat multiplier for free, and the non-combat multiple can be doubled for +5 points. Vehicles do not have to pay END for the movement that they use.

A vehicle can accelerate or decelerate faster than 5-/phase by buying Acceleration/Deceleration Multipliers for 5 points each, for a movement power. Each multiple doubles the acceleration and deceleration rate, and may be purchased more than once.

A vehicle can increase its turn mode (number of times per phase the vehicle may turn) by purchasing 5 point levels with turn mode. Vehicles with the Limited Maneuverability disadvantage may not purchase these levels, however.

Vehicles can also be built with special modes of movement like Extra-Dimensional Movement, Faster-than-Light Travel and Clinging. These Powers are bought for a vehicle just as they would be bought for a character.

Stalling: Flying vehicles normally have no stall velocity; that is, they can hover in place or fly straight upward -- the flight is effectively momentum-less. A vehicle with a Stall limitation on its movement will have problems if it is not flying quickly enough to exceed its stall velocity.

A vehicle which has stalled is considered to be non-combat (half DCV), and will begin to fall normally. A skilled pilot (Combat Pilot skill) can attempt to pull out of a stall by making a skill roll.

If the Stall Velocity is half the vehicle's combat velocity, this is a -1/4 limitation. If the Stall Velocity is the same as the vehicle's combat velocity, then this is a -1/2 limitation. Such a vehicle could only stay airborne at non-combat velocities. Space vehicles may not take this limitation unless designed to fly in atmosphere, and then the value is halved.

Limited Maneuverability: All vehicles, even those on the ground, must use a turn mode when turning, like fliers in personal combat. However, some vehicles are so unwieldy that they cannot turn around in a Phase. Vehicles with this limitation can only make 2 equally spaced turns (instead of 5) over the course of a Phase while moving at combat velocity. When moving non-combat, such a vehicle can only make 1 turn over the course of the phase. Limited Maneuverability is a -1/4 limitation.

Example: Our ship should have decent engines, so we buy 35" of flight, 1000 km scale modifier, OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew. 210 active, 70 real. We sell back the 6" of running, since if the main engine goes, it should be stopped. We want FTL capability, so we build our "jump drive": 1 LY/day FTL, OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew, limit 7 LY per use (-1/2), requires 1 week of time per use (-1/2), 28 active, 7 real.

Communications/Sensors

External sensors may be bought as Clairsentience with the appropriate Enhanced Senses. External sensors may be bought with an Activation Roll to reflect imperfect coverage. Sensors for the interior are bought similarly, although the Partial Coverage limitation might be applied if not all of the vehicle is under surveillance. Sensors can function as Security Systems, and may be disabled with a successful Security Systems roll.

FTL sensors are purchased in the same way, but with the advantage indirect (same location firing away) and one of two Transdimensional options:

Option 1: FTL moving point to stationary point or stationary point to stationary point, both at FTL speeds. This uses the "single dimension" advantage of Transdimensional.

Option 2: FTL moving point to FTL moving point, communication at FTL speed. This uses the "related dimensions" advantage of Transdimensional.

Further, FTL non-instantaneous communication would have a limitation which describes moving the delay down the time chart, probably best done with variable limitation. "Variable: delay increases with distance between speakers", probably with a -1 limitation (if average delay is 5 minutes).

Example: Our ship needs a radio for communication; one high range radio hearing, OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew, 10 active, 3 real, and clairsentience with it and normal sight, 1000000 km scale modifier, OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew, 100 active, 33 real. We decide that FTL communications are a higher technology than we want the players to have.

Computers

The use of computers on a vehicle is an important one; computers allow the use of fewer crew than a vehicle requires, by reserving a task for the purpose of improving the function of the crew with the vehicle. That then, translates into every significant vehicle function requiring some computer interaction.

A computer can perform a number of tasks in each of its phases equal to its INT/5. So, a 0 point 10 INT, 10 DEX, 2 SPD computer can handle two tasks in each of two phases per turn. If one of its tasks is required to handle crew interfacing, then it can only do one other thing each phase. Some examples of skill uses: Combat Pilot (allows computer to pilot vehicle in combat) Navigation (allows computer to plot FTL courses) Security Systems (an anti-theft program for the vehicle) System Operations (allows computer to operate sensors/comm) Trading (assists crew in selling/buying cargoes) Traveler (library information database) TF: Space Vehicles (generally required?) AK: (generates library, trade and navigation info)

The relevant "programs" for each of these allow non-computer programmers to use the computer skill packages. Each such program would cost 1 point, and would require an additional task from the computer (the program and the skill it is accessing).

Note that automatons with built-in computers may serve as vehicular computers (for example, R2-D2(tm) from Star Wars(tm), in Luke's X-wing(tm) fighter, trademarks used without permission).

Example: Our ship computer needs to give enough power to the pilot to allow him to handle everything himself (even firing the laser). So, we dedicate two computer tasks to crew functions, and buy a 20 INT for the computer. Since we still have two tasks remaining, we buy some skills for our computer: Navigation, System Operations, TF: Space Vehicles, Familiarity with Combat Pilot; and three programs: Plot FTL course, Autopilot, and Sensor Scan/Alert. Total cost: 22 active, 7 real (OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew).

Defenses

Special defenses may also be purchased for the vehicle, such as Lack of Weakness, Power Defense, Mental Defense and Hardened Defenses. The vehicle could also purchase Force Field, Force Wall, Invisibility, etc. A vehicle could even buy Desolidification, although this would only be bought in special cases.

Limited Coverage: It is possible to buy defenses that protect the vehicle only from attacks from a certain direction. The limitation is determined according to the size of the arc, with the hex sides protected being connected: Coverage Protects Limitation 60 degrees (one hex side) -1 120 degrees (two hex sides) -3/4 180 degrees (three hex sides) -1/2 240 degrees (four hex sides) -1/4 Further Modifiers: only on same horizontal level -1/4 coverage does not protect passengers -1/2 (motorcycles/skateboards)

Labs and Skills

Vehicles can have laboratories. Labs help characters do research, analyze data about strange events, encounters and discoveries. Labs needn't be limited to sciences; a vehicle could have a lab stocked with Disguise equipment, or lockpicking tools. All of these would use the same rules as laboratories.

To build a lab, the builder should simply buy the appropriate skill. This skill could be a Familiarity for poor labs, or could be bought up for better ones. When a character wants to use the lab, he uses the lab's roll as a complementary roll to his own roll. The base roll for a lab is always 11-, since labs have no characteristics. Of course, the lab only helps if the character has the skill in the first place.

A computer could control the laboratory, although it must have the skill to use it. The computer would also need Extra Limbs, a robot or a person in the lab to help the computer use the facility.

Life Support

Life Support is one of the more common Powers bought for a base or vehicle. It is often bought with the Limitation Costs END. This means that he Life Support must be turned on and that it must be hooked up to an END Reserve (or have some other power source). Note that the various life supports are for the whole ship, and not specific individuals. The special effect of that is that if radiation and disease penetrate the armor somehow, the life support no longer protects against it.

This is fairly simple; most vehicles will have self-contained breathing, no need to eat/excrete/sleep (the vehicle's bathroom, dining and sleeping facilities), SF: intense heat/cold, SF: vacuum/high-pressure, immunity to radiation and disease (27 points). Some vehicles will not have all or some of these, as the functions are dealt with by having crew in survival suits, etc.

Example: Our ship needs life support, so we give it self-contained breathing, SF: intense heat/cold, SF: vacuum/high pressure, immunity to radiation and disease and no need to eat/sleep/excrete, OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew; 27 active points, 9 real.

Power Plants

If a vehicle requires a power plant, there is no cost for normal lighting, etc. It is assumed to have internal generators for such. If the vehicle has equipment and weapons, then an END Reserve should be purchased for the vehicle.

Example: To power our laser, we install an END Reserve (+9 REC, +10 END), OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew; 10 active, 3 real.

Weapons

Vehicle weapons will vary from campaign to campaign, using various technological designs derived from the campaign setting. A list of these could be as varied as listing possible CHAMPIONS characters for character generation.

Slow Missile: Slow missile attacks do not reach their target until the end of the last segment of the phase in which the attack is fired; this allows them to be fired on before they strike their target. Firing at a Slow Missile counts as a defensive Action, so someone could abort their next phase to fire at the Slow Missile.

The DCV of the Slow Missile is equal to the OCV with which it was fired (using velocity-based DCV is not recommended). Attacks against the missile are made at the most advantageous hex for the attacker, in a straight-line path between where the attack started the segment and where the attack will end the segment. Any attack which does at least half as many dice of damage as the Slow Missile does will destroy the Slow Missile; lesser attacks will have no effect.

A Slow Missile moves every segment, at a rate determined by the value of the limitation placed on the Slow Missile. The base -1/2 limitation gives a movement rate equal to the range of the attack (active points x 5) divided by the total time required to travel that distance (one full phase for a SPD 2 character, or six segments). That base movement rate may be then modified by moving the time required to move its full range down the time chart, with an additional -1/4 limitation for every level. The base movement rate may be increased by increasing the maximum range of the attack (use the Increased Maximum Range advantage).

Limited Arc of Fire: Vehicle weaponry can also be bought with a special limitation, Arc of Fire. A weapon with this limitation cannot fire in all directions; instead, it can only fire in certain zones. The limitation bonus is based on the size of the arc.

Vehicle weapons can also receive a limitation if it can only fire at targets at the same horizontal level. For example, a vehicle weapon with this limitation would not be able to fire at a flying target if the vehicle were on the ground.

   
         Arc of Fire Covers                     Limitation
           single hex row                          -3/4 
       60 degrees (one hex side)                   -1/2
       180 degrees (three hex sides)               -1/4

       Further Modifiers:
       only on same horizontal level               -1/4

Example: Since space travel can be hazardous, we want our players to have a fighting chance. We install a laser turret (3d6 RKA, AP, autofire(5), 1000 km scale modifier, OIF, normal space, normal mass, no crew) that can fire in a 360 arc; 180 active, 60 real. Total cost of the vehicle: 260 real points.

Vehicle Crew Requirements

The basic crew requirements are shown in the Vehicle Size Table above. In addition to this figure, additional personnel are necessary based on whether any vehicle equipment has a crew limitation. For every computer task dedicated to crew functions, the base crew requirement (from the Vehicle Size Table) drops to the next lowest level.

On small vehicles, the entire crew does not have to be carried on the vehicle. At least half the number required must be carried on the vehicle; the other half can be considered a "maintenance crew". The base or mother vehicle carries the other half on it all the time. However, if the full crew is not carried in normal operations, the vehicle may not repair itself (the repair and maintenance facilities are elsewhere).

The personnel associated with the vehicle should be built with the normal rules; once a builder has paid for a certain type of individual, he can double the number of that type of personnel for +5 points. This can be purchased more than once.

Example: Our ship normally requires a crew of 3, but two dedicated computer tasks lowers that to 1. We have no equipment with a crew limitation, so only one crewman is needed for the ship.

Vehicle Space Requirements

Vehicles have a number of internal hexes equal to half their external hexes. All foci require a number of hexes based on their space limitation, if any. In addition, the following items may require space:

Basic Controls

Unless the vehicle is small enough to have no crew size requirement (either from the Vehicle Size Table or reduced by a computer), Basic Controls for a vehicle require a half-hex of internal space for every three levels of additional size the vehicles has.

Crew Space

Each crew member requires one-half hex of internal space, assuming that eating, sleeping and waste facilities are provided in a personal suit or elsewhere (another vehicle or base). If the vehicle has the "no need to eat, sleep or excrete" life support power, each crew member requires three hexes of internal space.

Don't assume that every crew member gets three hexes of living space; most will not. The excess is used for command and officer space, dining and communal living areas, and the like.

Passengers should be allotted six hexes of internal space each in a vehicle that has the "no need to eat, sleep or excrete" life support power; this provides for one hex of cargo per passenger, a two or three hex room, and passenger areas in the vehicle (although some may be combined with crew living areas). In a vehicle without that life support power, passengers require only one-half hex of internal space, and cargo must be allotted separately.

Labs and Skills

Laboratories always require at least two hexes of internal space, and require more if more than one person can use the laboratory at the same time; roughly two hexes for each person who can use the laboratory simultaneously.

Carried Vehicles

Often, vehicles will carry other vehicles. If this is done as cargo, and the vehicles are not capable of functioning while being carried, then they require an amount of internal space equal to their external area x 1.25. If they can be used while being carried, the vehicle requires double its external space. If more than one of the same vehicle are being carried and are usable, the additional vehicles only require 1.5 x their external area.

Further, the main vehicle will have to provide internal space for the crew of the carried vehicles, unless those vehicles have the "no need to eat/excrete/sleep" life support AND provide the proper amount of internal space for their crew.

Cargo

Large, bulky items will require an amount of internal space equal to their external area x 1.25. Cargo can be declared, but if passengers are on board and the vehicle has the "eat/sleep/excrete" life support, 1 hex of internal space per passenger (allotted under Crew Space) will be cargo area.

Example: Our ship requires 18 hexes for powers and 42 hexes of living space for the pilot and six other people (including 1 hex of cargo per person), leaving 4 hexes of space for additional cargo, or perhaps (eventually) a small carried vehicle.

Vehicle Mass Requirements

There are two factors in calculating the total mass of a vehicle; the mass of the vehicle hull (external area minus internal area), and the mass of its contents (internal area).

Hull Mass: The hull will have mass only if a mass limitation is bought on the vehicle-s DEF. If that is the case, determine the number of hexes of the ship contained within the hull (external area minus internal area, remembering that the internal area is half the external area, or a minimum of 0.5 hexes in size). Multiply that area in hexes by the mass limitation (if any) and then by the DEF of the vehicle (this is important if such defenses are hardened or somesuch). If the DEF is bought with the Limited Coverage limitation, divide the number of hexes of hull area (external minus internal) by the number of hexes each limited DEF covers, and add the mass of those areas together.

Internal Mass: Multiply the number of internal hexes each power requires (from its space limitation) by the power-s mass limitation, and multiply the hexes taken up by any carried vehicles, crew spaces or labs by 100 kg each (normal mass).

Add the values for Hull and Internal mass together to get the total mass of the vehicle. If the total mass is less than the mass the vehicle STR can support, the remainder is allotted for potential cargo mass.

Example: The hull mass (100 x (128 - 64 for external area) x 15 DEF = 96000 kg) and the internal mass (100 x 18 hexes for powers + 100 x 42 for living area = 1800 + 4200 = 6000 kg) together add up to 102 tons. So, 61 STR gives us 8 tons left for potential cargo mass (and from above, 4 hexes of area to put that cargo).

Special Vehicle Disadvantages

Can't Land

This disadvantage is used for a vehicle with a hull which is designed to withstand engine thrust, but not to support itself on the ground or take the heat and stress of entering atmosphere. Although the vehicle can't land on planets, it may dock at space stations. Characters aboard the vehicle who wish to get to a planet's surface must use carried vehicles or teleporters.

     Circumstances                             Disadvantage Value 
Landing destroys 1/2 the vehicle's BODY                5 pts.
Landing destroys vehicle, but contents are safe       10 pts.
Landing destroys vehicle and its contents             15 pts.

Distinctive Features

A vehicle that is particularly distinctive can have the Distinctive Features Disadvantage.

Limited Fuel

Normally, vehicles have unlimited fuel. Vehicles which need refueling frequently should take the Limited Fuel disadvantage. The position on the time chart determines the bonus, as shown below. If a vehicle exercises fuel conservation measures such as using less engine thrust and coasting more, shutting down all nonessential systems and so forth, the fuel will last twice as long as the time listed. Conversely, if a vehicle is frequently in combat, overloaded or damaged, it may use fuel at twice the normal rate or even faster, at the GM's option.

Time before Refueling                           Disadvantage Value
     One Month                                         5 pts.
     One Week                                         10 pts.
     One Day                                          15 pts.
If fuel is hard to obtain, the bonus increases:
  Very Common Fuel                                    +0 pts.
  Common Fuel                                         +5 pts.
  Uncommon Fuel                                      +10 pts.
  Rare Fuel                                          +15 pts. 

Very common fuels are easily obtained on many planets, such as water or hydrogen. Common fuels, such as plutonium or rocket fuel, are easily bought on any planet with space travel. Uncommon fuels are expensive or hard to obtain, such as antimatter or neutronium. Rare fuels are extremely expensive, or have perhaps just a few sources over a great distance, like dilithium crystals.

Mystery Disadvantage

Something is wrong with the vehicle, and the builder doesn't know about it. This is a way for a GM to add suspense to a vehicle; once the characters find out what the disadvantage is, it may become a normal disadvantage, or it may change. Some old "lemon" vehicles have so many problems that as soon as one problem is fixed, another appears.

Slow Starter

Vehicles with this disadvantage have engines which must warm up before they are usable. Until the start-up time has elapsed, the vehicle's movement cannot be used, and the vehicle's END Reserve(s), if any, are unusable.

 Start-up Time                                   Disadvantage Value
     1 turn                                              5 pts.
  per additional move down time chart                   +5 pts.

Unluck

The vehicle is a nexus for unfortunate events. Equipment malfunctions, computer problems, weapons fire by accident, etc.

Vulnerability

The vehicle is particularly vulnerable to certain types of attacks.

Watched

Many vehicles are watched by some organization or group. This can even be part of the deal that enables the vehicle to be built in the first place. Traveller's Scout Service often issues former members vehicles with this disadvantage.

Example: Our ship is a total of 260 points; we take 60 points of disadvantages, to offset the cost of the ship. We take a Distinctive Feature (a transponder ID that identifies the ship to all around it, but can be concealed if pirates threaten), worth 10 points. This class of ship was designed with a poor ventilation system that causes the ship to smell bad after several days, so another Distinctive Feature worth 10 pts. This class of ship has a reputation, primarily because of the nice weaponry but also because of its government construction, worth 5 points. It takes a minute to get the engines going, because it is a Slow Starter, another 10 points. The ship requires a fairly common fuel and will go for a month before refueling, 10 more points. And, finally, in this case the ship is surplus government material, so while the players don-t have to make regular payments on it, they could be called up in wartime, and have to turn logs over to the Imperial Scout Service. That Watched is worth 15 points (because foreign and planetary governments will also be watching our players), for 60 pts. in disadvantages. That leaves 200 points in vehicle, or 40 character points to be paid from somewhere.

Vehicle Combat

Vehicle movement and combat is handled similarly to character movement and combat. It is possible to have a combat between several characters with vehicles or a mixed group of vehicles and pedestrians without breaking a sweat. These rules apply mainly to heroic-style campaigns.

Vehicle Movement

Vehicles have a base movement in inches. This movement is the number of inches that the vehicle can move at combat velocity in a single phase; a vehicle can move more quickly if the driver or pilot is willing to move noncombat. The phases that a vehicle can move is based on its SPD, just like a character.

A vehicle's effect combat SPD is equal to the vehicle's SPD, or the driver's SPD, whichever is lower. If the vehicle is driven at this SPD or lower, then it has normal turn modes. In addition, the vehicle could receive a DCV bonus if the driver has Combat Piloting or Combat Driving skill, whichever is applicable. In this case, the driver should act at the same time as the vehicle, or hold his action so that he always has an action ready to direct the vehicle.

If the driver wants to move the vehicle at a higher SPD than his own, then the vehicle is considered to be noncombat. This means that it is harder to turn, and may well be easier to hit. The driver can only adjust the vehicle's direction or velocity when he has an action. On segments when only the vehicle has an action, it repeats the driver's last action. A vehicle can never move at a SPD higher than its own (a vehicle can only be so responsive).

Attacking a Vehicle

Vehicles have an effective DEX equal to their DEX or their driver's DEX, whichever is lower. Determine the vehicle's base DCV by using its effective DEX, or optionally, this base DCV can be determined by the vehicle's velocity (see Movement, p.142 of the rules).

If the vehicle's driver has Combat Driving or Combat Piloting (whichever is applicable), then the vehicle receives its full DCV against incoming attacks; if the vehicle's driver does not, then the vehicle's DCV is half normal, regardless of whether the vehicle is traveling at combat or noncombat velocity. The driver for a vehicle does not have to be a character; it could be a computer with proper programs or an artificial intelligence, or even a living animal. In any case, the vehicle's DCV is determined as above. In such cases, the vehicle would control its own movements according to its DEX and SPD; any characters onboard can act on their own phases.

Vehicle Combat

It is not always best to play out vehicular combat on a hex map. This is because vehicles move extremely quickly, and are often "off the map" in only a matter of segments. Similarly, a running chase between two vehicles can be extremely tedious to manage using a map.

GMs who want to simplify combat can keep track of the distance between the two vehicles. An important value for this is the total velocity a vehicle can use in a single turn:

MAX = SPD x movement in hexes x non-combat multiples x scalemodifier

A driver would be able to change the distance between the vehicles or lose a pursuer by making a Skill vs. Skill roll.

Intercept combat should be used when the vehicles involved are at long range, which extends from the total of the combined velocities of the fastest vehicle on each side, to the point at which the vehicles are no longer able to detect each other using their sensors. Dogfight combat occurs when vehicles are within a range of the total of the combined velocities of the fastest vehicle on each side, until one side escapes from the Dogfight. Use Intercept Combat and Dogfight Combat as laid out on pp. 193-195 of the rules.

Damage to Vehicles

Whenever a hit penetrates the defenses of the vehicle, roll on the Vehicle Hit Location Table to see what was affected by the damage:

  1. Basic Controls/Computer
    If there is no computer, the basic controls are automatically affected by the attack. If the vehicle does have a computer, roll randomly to see which of the basic controls or computer is affected. If the basic controls are inoperable due to the activation roll below or destroyed, the vehicle cannot be maneuvered. If the computer is inoperable and was being used to cover crew tasks, raise all computer tasks one level of difficulty (normal, difficult, extremely difficult, sheer folly), as noted on p. 18 of the rules.

  2. Sensors
    Determine one sensory power that is affected, highest active power first. If the vehicle has clairsentience with some of its sensors, the clairsentience will be affected last. If the vehicle has no purchased senses, then the crew/passengers cannot see or hear from outside the vehicle. If this does not agree with the special effect of the vehicle (skateboard, motorcycle, jeep), count as a crew or passenger hit (see below).

  3. Movement/Fuel
    If more than one type of movement is available to the vehicle, the highest active point movement power is damaged first. If the vehicle has the Limited Fuel Disadvantage, move the refueling time requirement down the time chart one level per BODY done.

  4. Crew/Passengers
    The damage is spread among the crew and passengers. All characters onboard the vehicle must make a CON roll (or an applicable skill roll, at the GM's option) to avoid taking the number of BODY done as a normal attack of that number of dice.

  5. Cargo/Carried Vehicles
    The penalties below are for the use of the cargo or carried vehicles. If there is no cargo or carried vehicles, then apply as a crew/passenger hit (see above). Otherwise, if both cargo and carried vehicles are available, determine randomly. Apply the damage to the BODY of the cargo; carried vehicles will have their own DEF they may apply the damage to. However, carried vehicles must apply the activation roll shown below to any attempt to launch from the mother vehicle.

  6. Other Vehicle Powers
    Select the power in order of active points, highest first; if there are no other vehicle powers, then reroll on the Vehicle Hit Location Table. Powers in a focus will get their DEF against the BODY.

Keep track of the number of BODY each system takes individually, for impairing or disabling purposes (see below). Powers in a focus are damaged and destroyed as per the normal rules.

Any further uses (course changes, continued use of the computer as crew movement) of the affected system require an activation roll, as under the Ablative limitation. Start at 15-; each failure moves the roll down one level on the table. A character may attempt to fix the problem, with the relevant skills (GM's decision). A successful roll moves the activation roll up one level or repairs the system completely; a failure moves the activation roll down one level. As the activation roll grows worse, the GM should assign penalties for attempts to repair the system; difficult, -1 to -3, extremely difficult, -3 to -5, and sheer folly, -5 or more.

Rather than an activation roll, the GM may opt to lower the effectiveness of the system; sensors/weapons get reduced range, movement decreases, and so on. The activation roll was used because it was, in my opinion, the closest game mechanic to this in the system.

Called Shots: Called shots may be made against any of the six specified locations on the Vehicle Hit Location Table, but such shots have a penalty of -8 to OCV.

Impairing: If a vehicle system takes an amount of BODY damage equal to half the vehicle's BODY, it is impaired. An impaired system is unusable for a period of time as determined on the Impairment Time Table on p.164 of the rules. Characters with relevant skills (GM's decision) may attempt to fix the system, which gives it an activation roll of 15- (damaged but fairly usable). If the vehicle does has a maintenance crew elsewhere (see Vehicle Crew Requirements, above), then once a system is impaired, the vehicle crew may not attempt further repairs.

Disabling: If a vehicle system takes an amount of BODY damage equal to the total BODY of the vehicle, it is disabled. A disabled system is completely unresponsive, but may be repaired to Impaired by a character with the relevant skills (unless the vehicle's maintenance crew is elsewhere; see Vehicle Crew Requirements, above).

System Breakdown

If a vehicle comes under attack and is damaged internally, that internal damage will cause more damage. For every 5 BODY lost, the vehicle will take one attack internally of 1d6 to a system selected above. This damage may be stopped by appropriate character rolls as determined by the GM; once the vehicle has fallen below 0 BODY, breakdown damage cannot be stopped unless the vehicle is no longer under attack. Vehicles without their maintenance crews may not try to prevent system breakdown.

Vehicle Control

When a control roll is required, the vehicle operator must make a Combat Driving/Piloting roll to retain control of the vehicle. Characters who have Transport Familiarity with the vehicle, but no Combat Driving/Piloting skill have an "everyman" roll of 8. Certain conditions will modify this roll:

  Modifiers                                    Condition       
     -1                              per 2 BODY vehicle is below 0
     -2                               per every 5 STR overloaded
     -3                               moving at non-com speeds

Out of Control

There are many things that can occur when a vehicle goes out of control. This is left mainly up to the GM to determine exactly what happens, but some general guidelines are presented. These are presented in ascending order of seriousness.

When a vehicle has gone Out Of Control, the operator may attempt to regain control on his next action phase. The difficulty of this feat depends on several things.

When the operator attempts to regain control of his vehicle, a Driving or Piloting roll must be made (see above). All the normal modifiers to a Control Roll are in force, plus an additional -2 penalty to the roll.

If the operator fails in his attempt to regain control, there is a high probability that he has only made matters worse. When an attempt to regain control of a vehicle fails, roll 1d6: on a result of 3-6, move to the next higher Out Of Control event. The operator may try as many times to regain control of a vehicle as necessary, at least until the vehicle crashes.

GROUND VEHICLES

Fishtail, Major Fishtail, Skid, Slide, Spin, Roll, Vault

HULLED WATER CRAFT

Fishtail, Major Fishtail, Slew, Swamp, Capsize, Sink

AIR/SPACE VEHICLES

Drift, Wobble, Roll, Yaw, Flat Spin, Stall*, Tumble

* Vehicles cannot stall unless in atmosphere


Artwork copyright © 1999 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated January 15th, 1999.
Champions, Star Hero, Hero System and Hero Games are registered trademarks of Hero Games. All rights reserved.

Back to the Empire main page.