Monday, 3 December 2012

SW: EotE - Range Bands and Minis

I really enjoy my Star Wars minis, and I've been trying to figure out a way to still make use of them in the cinematic-style game Star Wars: Edge of the Empire. My first attempt using them was for place holders for PCs and NPCs on the dynamic initiative track, but that didn't turn out so well since I didn't explain the non-static nature of initiative in combat that well and some players thought the track was set like most games, and to complicate it further I tried to use the minis as a rudimentary way to show distances between the PCs and the NPCs they were fighting. Plus it ended up looking dumb. I've decided to keep these two ideas separate: I'm going to use cards for initiative next time.

As for the range bands, I've thought about it a bit and after seeing all the range bands laid-out in a hex grid in one of gribble's reference sheets, I had the idea to turn over our battle-mat and use the hex side of it to map out a range-band-target for minis. I designated the mats' centre hex and the six that surrounded it as the general area where the PCs would be in a basic encounter. Using the range-ruler from X-Wing that just happened to be on hand, I marked out the range bands Short, Medium, and Long from the bullseye, each band came to four hexes in length. Any hexes beyond the Long range band are considered Extreme range.

After drawing the range areas, I marked down in each band a letter for the distance, the number of diamonds to represent the Ranged Attack Difficulty from the centre or vice-versa, and the cost in maneuvers to transverse between range bands. Figures in hexes adjacent to each other are considered to be Engaged with each other. If one wanted to be more exact about multiple minis and their exact distance in relation to each other, one could simply say every 4 hexes represents a range band.

Here's an example encounter.

Our heroes are clustered together in a battle with two Tusken Raiders, one a Short range from the group, and the other at Long range.
  • The Twi'lek scout, Ryz'al, is Engaged with the Tusken Raider in front of him in melee combat. The difficulty to attack an engaged target with a melee attack is always 2 challenge dice. The rest of the party considers that Tusken at Short range. 
  • The bodyguard Droid, KG-222, is Engaged with Ryz'al to protect him, but is not considered Engaged with the close Tusken and would have to spend a maneuver to Engage the enemy threatening the Twi'lek.
  • Lowwack the Wookiee politico is aiming to shoot at the far Tusken, who is Long range away, and thus be would facing 3 difficulty dice to his ranged attack roll. That Tusken would also be rolling 3 difficulty dice on a ranged attack against any of the heroes.
  • Finally the Gand levels his blaster on the closer Tusken at Short range who his Engaged with his Twi'lek comrade. The base difficulty for the attack is 1 but since he's shooting into an engagement that difficulty die is upgraded to a more dangerous challenge die. He better hope his aim is true or he may end up shooting his partner in the back on a despair dice result!

What I really like about Edge of the Empire is that the Range band rules carry over into Vehicle or Starship combat, the only major differences being Engaged is replaced with Close Range, your current speed is relative to how much it costs in Maneuvers to move between Range bands (the faster your speed the more Range bands you can move through with a single maneuver), and distance doesn't affect the difficulty of your attack rolls; your ships' silhouette (relative size) vs their silhouette sets the difficulty, though certain weapons can only be used to attack targets within certain Range bands.

Here's a small example of space combat.

The heroes' YT-1300, the Nerf Herder, (which has a silhouette of 4) has thrown itself into an attack position against a Cloakshape Starfighter (silhouette 3) at Short range. The Nerf Herder's turrets cannot attack until within Close range, so the pilot closes the distance, and the gunners open fire. The silhouette difference between the two ships is only 1, so they roll their attack at 2 difficulty dice.

The Imperial Star Destroyer looming off at Extreme range can't attack The Nerf Herder at that distance, as it's Turbolasers only have a range of Long. But if either the Star Destoryer or the YT-1300 manage to close the distance between them, the ISD could open fire and The Nerf Herder would be unable to retaliate. The silhouette difference between the capital ship and the freighter would be ~3; 7* for the ISD, 4 for the YT. The gunners aboard the ISD would be rolling a Daunting difficulty of 4 on their attacks against the The Nerf Herder, and they'd still be rolling that difficulty even if the freighter reached Close range with the Star Destroyer, whereas the hero gunners would be able to attack at an Easy difficulty of 1 against the ISD because its size is so massive compared to it. But good luck getting through its shields and armour. :p

*[7 is a guessed number given there are currently no stats for an ISD in the EotE Beta. I took the silhouette rating from the largest capital ship available: a EF76 Nebulon-B Frigate with a silhouette of 6 and increased it by 1 given the size difference between the Frigate and an ISD. It could possibly be larger than that but for the purposes of this example it wouldn't matter given that the amount of difficulty dice rolled by the gunners on both ships would not be changed.]

I'm hoping this hex-based range band system helps assist everyone with relative positioning of combatants in EotE, given it can be difficult to keep track of the ranges of multiple PCs/NPCs spread out over a wide area.

We didn't really get to make use of it much during yesterday's session as there wasn't much combat, but it was nice to try out the non-combat aspects of the Beta. The reference sheets made the session run much smoother, and we all had a great time roleplaying. I look forward to our next session and putting this hex-range-band concept to the test!

Questions/Comments appreciated!

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