Length of a Starship Combat Turn


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It has been brought up in various other threads but bringing it up here to get a consensus or perhaps some developer insight.

There is no mention of just how long a Starship combat turn is. A PC combat turn is 6 seconds. I have seen various people put forward that it is left vague on purpose which would be fine except that it interacts with several items that do have defined and finite times.

First there is the Drift drive. This takes a full minute to fire up. just how many Starship combat turns does this take? Seems like a fairly important piece of info to have

Another that seems to lend support to a 6 second Starship combat turn is that it takes 1 minute per size category to warm up a ships engines and ready it for flight. If your PC's are fighting there way off the station that seems pretty definitive that they are going to have to hold off the opposition for 10 turns unless they radioed ahead and had a pilot hanging out as the getaway driver.

Regardless the need for a definable time for a Ship Combat turn remains once the chase is on and for sure once the ship combat turn interacts with a normal PC combat turn which will inevitably come up.

Ive seen people put forward that well you can just make it whatever you want but what real benefit does this provide the system with this being left ambiguous? It seems like a oversight and was hoping for some clarification on whether or not leaving it ambiguous was the intention and if so why.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

On P. 317 "Unlike rounds in combat between characters, a round of starship combat doesn't correlate to a specific amount of time." So it is intentionally ambiguous.


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Robert Little wrote:
On P. 317 "Unlike rounds in combat between characters, a round of starship combat doesn't correlate to a specific amount of time." So it is intentionally ambiguous.

Which I still contend makes no sense what so ever when several items that will interact with that turn have a defined time and will require that the Length of the Ship Combat turn sequence also have a defined time.

Why force us to guess? There is no benefit to the system what so ever so I was hoping, if that is actually the official stance, to get some insight in why and what possible reason it was left this way when we as GM's will have to Adjudicate this on a fairly regular basis.

So in short seeing as we will HAVE to define the length on a regular basis leaving it undefined was pointless and frustrating.


Vexies wrote:
what real benefit does this provide the system with this being left ambiguous?

I suppose it allows GMs to use a timeframe that works for their adventure? So if your ship is being boarded mid-battle, or you're trying to escape under fire, the GM can choose to make ship combat quick or slow as needed to make a fair challenge for the players.


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Vexies wrote:
First there is the Drift drive. This takes a full minute to fire up. just how many Starship combat turns does this take? Seems like a fairly important piece of info to have.

This seems particularly odd to me. Punching to the drift in order to escape from a fight sounds like it could be a common tactic. It seems that the developers have specifically discouraged this by specifying that your thrusters must be off during that minute (i.e., you must be a sitting duck). It makes more sense (to me, at least) to write activation of the Drift engine as a Piloting action that takes a certain number of helm phases based on starship size and Drift engine rating.

Vexies wrote:
If your PC's are fighting there way off the station that seems pretty definitive that they are going to have to hold off the opposition for 10 turns unless they radioed ahead and had a pilot hanging out as the getaway driver.

That is entirely PC combat. No need for a starship to be taking actions in this situation.

Vexies wrote:
Regardless the need for a definable time for a Ship Combat turn remains once the chase is on and for sure once the ship combat turn interacts with a normal PC combat turn which will inevitably come up.

I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.

I understand switching directly from PC combat to ship combat (like a fast getaway) or from ship combat to PC combat (boarding a crippled vessel) but trying to do both at the same time sounds like a massive headache.


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Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.

But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

Exactly! this guy gets it.. there has to be a definable turn structure length and this is only one of the myriad of situations where PC combat and Starship combat are going to intersect and you need to track whats happening in both.

Jimbles - In regards to my hanger example the need to know stems from the fact that they have defined just how long it takes to spin up those engines (1 minute per size catagory) which is usually a starship action kind of thing but in my example its interacting with PC actions. How long does it take them to get that ship ready and roll out?

In cases where Ship Turn structure and PC turn structure intersect it seems to only make sense to call them both 6 second turns if not then its pretty darn important for the various reasons listed to know just how long it is and stick with it for continuity reasons in your campaign.

Your players are going to get pretty frustrated if one adventure the Ship combat turn takes 6 seconds and in another its a minute or longer.

Here is another example that throws a wrench in this and highlights why its pointless to not be defined. What if there is a hull breach and a PC gets sucked out into space? rules say he has three minutes for the PCs to get to him or her before they suffocate and die. but the other PCs are locked into a space battle.. so just how many Space Combat turns is that anyway? You see there can and will be a lot of situations this comes up making it pointless to be ambiguous.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

I'm 100% on board with you there. I can see tons of narrative opportunities for simultaneous PC & ship combat, but the disparity of the two systems mechanically precludes it.

In the chapter on starships, the CRB mentions that, if trying to direct an attack from a starship at players, it may be best to simulate a starships attacks as deadly hazards. When playing PC combat on a ship engaged in ship combat, I would extend the same concept. In the bowels of a destroyer, the PCs have no idea what maneuvers the ship is taking, or who they're fighting (or possibly if they're fighting). The actions of ships are largely not going to impact combatants on a ship. If you, as the GM, are simulating ship combat, it's entirely behind the screen. At that point, there's no difference between hand-waving the ship actions and playing them out precisely. Your players only know what affects them directly.


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Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

I'm 100% on board with you there. I can see tons of narrative opportunities for simultaneous PC & ship combat, but the disparity of the two systems mechanically precludes it.

In the chapter on starships, the CRB mentions that, if trying to direct an attack from a starship at players, it may be best to simulate a starships attacks as deadly hazards. When playing PC combat on a ship engaged in ship combat, I would extend the same concept. In the bowels of a destroyer, the PCs have no idea what maneuvers the ship is taking, or who they're fighting (or possibly if they're fighting). The actions of ships are largely not going to impact combatants on a ship. If you, as the GM, are simulating ship combat, it's entirely behind the screen. At that point, there's no difference between hand-waving the ship actions and playing them out precisely. Your players only know what affects them directly.

I would be ok with that but.. what if that happens to be ON the PC's ship while they are fighting a space battle? its quite possible and well within the scope that their own ship is boarded during a space battle and at that point we have both PC battles and Ship battles happening during the same turn and knowing when thing can happen when become very important.

Again this seems like a glaring oversight. You simply can't gloss over it and say well.. just try to avoid it. Its a huge part of sci-fi tropes and if your going to include Spaceship combat you have to assume that those two worlds are going to collide often.


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Vexies wrote:
Jimbles - In regards to my hanger example the need to know stems from the fact that they have defined just how long it takes to spin up those engines (1 minute per size catagory) which is usually a starship action kind of thing but in my example its interacting with PC actions. How long does it take them to get that ship ready and roll out?

Starting the engines on a starship is not a starship action (bear with me, I know that sounds dumb). It doesn't show up under any of the roles in starship combat. It's a PC action.

If I'm understanding you correctly, you're trying to put together an encounter where
(1) PCs are pursued in combat to a starship
(2) PCs must defend themselves until it's ready to take off
(3) Starship takes off, may defend itself from other starships

In this situation, just run PC combat until the ship lifts off the ground. At that point, have people declare roles and switch to starship combat.

Starships attacking the PCs before it takes off? Deadly hazards, as specified in the CRB.

Enemy NPCs attacking the starship? Either (a) they attack the doors directly, which are handled as objects, or (b) they are grossly ineffective against the ship hull.

Vexies wrote:
Here is another example that throws a wrench in this and highlights why its pointless to not be defined. What if there is a hull breach and a PC gets sucked out into space? rules say he has three minutes for the PCs to get to him or her before they suffocate and die.

Since a hull breach isn't something defined in the CRB, that's a bit of a moot point. You can add it if you want, but there are many more questions you need to answer besides how long a round of startship combat takes.


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Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
In the bowels of a destroyer, the PCs have no idea what maneuvers the ship is taking, or who they're fighting (or possibly if they're fighting). The actions of ships are largely not going to impact combatants on a ship. If you, as the GM, are simulating ship combat, it's entirely behind the screen.

If I, as the GM, was doing that, I might alternate between playing out rounds of ship combat where the players control an allied spaceship crewed by friendly NPCs, and rounds of normal combat where the PCs fought face to face, with random environmental effects triggered by damage.


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Vexies wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

I'm 100% on board with you there. I can see tons of narrative opportunities for simultaneous PC & ship combat, but the disparity of the two systems mechanically precludes it.

In the chapter on starships, the CRB mentions that, if trying to direct an attack from a starship at players, it may be best to simulate a starships attacks as deadly hazards. When playing PC combat on a ship engaged in ship combat, I would extend the same concept. In the bowels of a destroyer, the PCs have no idea what maneuvers the ship is taking, or who they're fighting (or possibly if they're fighting). The actions of ships are largely not going to impact combatants on a ship. If you, as the GM, are simulating ship combat, it's entirely behind the screen. At that point, there's no difference between hand-waving the ship actions and playing them out precisely. Your players only know what affects them directly.

I would be ok with that but.. what if that happens to be ON the PC's ship while they are fighting a space battle? its quite possible and well within the scope that their own ship is boarded during a space battle and at that point we have both PC battles and Ship battles happening during the same turn and knowing when thing can happen when become very important.

Again this seems like a glaring oversight. You simply can't gloss over it...

Again, there's no mechanism for boarding an active vessel during combat. You're right - it's a bit of an omission, thematically, and I hope we see rules for it in the future, but there are many more problematic questions than how PC combat rounds line up with starship combat rounds. Simply saying "a starship round takes 6 seconds" is not going to make this situation playable as is.


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Boarding an enemy starship during or immediately before a starship combat is not practical and is probably one of the reasons that Paizo decided not to make provisions for setting up starship and standard combat to take place concurrently.

However, I could see a group of PCs already imprisoned on an enemy ship breaking out as starship combat begins and attempting to take over that ship before it can do something nasty to people that they care about.


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well there area all kinds of things not technically covered by the core rule book. Thats not a reason they wont come up. My players always surprise me and make my life hard lol. It's just something we will have to house rule but it was a pointless omission. There will be always be situations where this will be required. I and everyone else will have to define it at some point and it will require some play testing to see what feels right and meshes well with PC turn length.

understand overall I really think the system is solid and really enjoy it I just feel that for such a handwavey system, in regards to hard science, (which im totally fine with btw), it seems odd that they just didnt feel this was necessary. We are already making all kinds of concessions in the interest of a fun system. Im just puzzled why turn length fell by the way side and didnt seem important to them.

It would have been far better to define Drift engine timing and engine warm up then in terms of x many engineering phases or helm phases but the problem would still exist.


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To complicate things further, even before the 1 minute drift engine warm up time you need to spend 10 minutes plotting a course(p145) and once you're in "drift space" you need to take the 1min/size category to warm up your conventional thrusters to actually move. There's no support for a "Just jump, it doesn't matter where we end up!" style maneuver.

There are a bunch of unanswered questions about starship travel/combat unfortunately, like:

  • Are the drift "tunnels" specific to each ship or is it possible to share/intercept another ships drift space?
  • How much damage does a ship do when ramming another?
  • What exactly does "linking weapons"(p301) do?
  • Does a ship being held by a tractor beam take any penalties to it's AC and TL?

EDIT: I found something interesting in the sidebar on p322 that seems to imply that a starship round is the same or shorter than normal combat round:

  • While your role determines what actions you can take during a
    starship combat encounter, on occasion you might want to perform
    some other kind of action, such as casting a spell or using a class
    feature. The GM has the final say on what kind of regular actions
    you can take, but generally, you can take only a move or standard
    action in a single round, and you can take only a minor crew action
    (see page 326) during that round.


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sunderedhero wrote:

To complicate things further, even before the 1 minute drift engine warm up time you need to spend 10 minutes plotting a course(p145) and once you're in "drift space" you need to take the 1min/size category to warm up your conventional thrusters to actually move. There's no support for a "Just jump, it doesn't matter where we end up!" style maneuver.

There are a bunch of unanswered questions about starship travel/combat unfortunately, like:

  • Are the drift "tunnels" specific to each ship or is it possible to share/intercept another ships drift space?
  • How much damage does a ship do when ramming another?
  • What exactly does "linking weapons"(p301) do?
  • Does a ship being held by a tractor beam take any penalties to it's AC and TL?

EDIT: I found something interesting in the sidebar on p322 that seems to imply that a starship round is the same or shorter than normal combat round:

  • While your role determines what actions you can take during a
    starship combat encounter, on occasion you might want to perform
    some other kind of action, such as casting a spell or using a class
    feature. The GM has the final say on what kind of regular actions
    you can take, but generally, you can take only a move or standard
    action in a single round, and you can take only a minor crew action
    (see page 326) during that round.

Indeed you are right on the money with this and I agree with the implication that its the same length as a standard PC turn. That is one of the biggies that point to the original intention to make it so. I can understand that they didnt want to get locked into a Ship mod but defining the turn time (while opening it up to all kinds of math) hardly pens them down to anything. Even with that left undefined there are all kinds of other examples of things in the Starfinder ship rules that require saying well it just works that way because it makes a fun system and lets not apply actual physics or science to closely.

Again I think this was the right direction (in regards to fun first and real science later anyway) as any time you introduce magic you have the perfect out. Hey it works that way because we found this great material mageonium! and boy does it solve that weight problem! However this is a fairly important part of any any encounter that just can't be left ambiguous for a huge variety of reasons. Im just looking for some insight into if this indeed was intentional. (sure seems that way) and if so what is the rational behind it. As we will all be forced to define the length I am leaning toward 6 second turns personally but it will require some play test to feel out.


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sunderedhero wrote:
Are the drift "tunnels" specific to each ship or is it possible to share/intercept another ships drift space?

The Dead Suns AP has some oblique hints as to the nature of the Drift, and while this thread isn't the place to spoil an AP, I think it's safe to say that it appears to be a plane of existence that is gently non-euclidean. I believe it is possible to encounter ships and other objects within the Drift, but the rules for Drift travel seem to indicate that your entry point is dependent on your planned exit point, so deliberately encountering a specific ship would be... challenging.


Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
sunderedhero wrote:
Are the drift "tunnels" specific to each ship or is it possible to share/intercept another ships drift space?
The Dead Suns AP has some oblique hints as to the nature of the Drift, and while this thread isn't the place to spoil an AP, I think it's safe to say that it appears to be a plane of existence that is gently non-euclidean. I believe it is possible to encounter ships and other objects within the Drift, but the rules for Drift travel seem to indicate that your entry point is dependent on your planned exit point, so deliberately encountering a specific ship would be... challenging.

Interesting, thanks for sharing.


Ship shields regenerate per minute. That might be important.


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Umbral Reaver wrote:
Ship shields regenerate per minute. That might be important.

Indeed, its just one of the many things that have a defined length of time but how many Ship combat turns that is, at least at the moment, is anyones guess.


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Vexies wrote:
Umbral Reaver wrote:
Ship shields regenerate per minute. That might be important.
Indeed, its just one of the many things that have a defined length of time but how many Ship combat turns that is, at least at the moment, is anyones guess.

Though note that shields only regenerate when a ship is not in combat (p302). So there aren't any worries regarding, say, how fast your shields regenerate during combat (since they don't).


I can take some of the ambiguity out of this by pointing out a few problems with ship and PC rounds interacting.

1) It take 10 rounds of combat to warm up the engine per size category once someone gets to the bridge. If I were your PCs I'd close the airlock after the last one is aboard. Problem solved.

2) If your PCs are on the enemy ship, they aren't on their own ship fighting. And unless they used a shuttle to board, their ship is currently attached to the enemy ship. (No teleportation between moving ships.

In either of these cases you should have the turns follow the PCs. If they are being PCs it's a 6 sec turn. If they are ship crew the rounds are a lot longer.

Vexies wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

Exactly! this guy gets it.. there has to be a definable turn structure length and this is only one of the myriad of situations where PC combat and Starship combat are going to intersect and you need to track whats happening in both.

Jimbles - In regards to my hanger example the need to know stems from the fact that they have defined just how long it takes to spin up those engines (1 minute per size catagory) which is usually a starship action kind of thing but in my example its interacting with PC actions. How long does it take them to get that ship ready and roll out?

In cases where Ship Turn structure and PC turn structure intersect it seems to only make sense to call them both 6 second turns if not then its pretty darn important for the various reasons listed to know just how long it is and stick with it for continuity reasons in your campaign.

Your players are going to get pretty frustrated if one adventure the Ship combat turn takes 6 seconds and in another its a minute or longer.

Here is another example that throws a wrench in this and highlights why its pointless to not be defined. What if there is a hull breach and a PC gets sucked out into space? rules say he has three minutes for the PCs to get to him or her before they suffocate and die. but the other PCs are locked into a space battle.. so just how many Space Combat turns is that anyway? You see...


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EC Gamer Guy wrote:

I can take some of the ambiguity out of this by pointing out a few problems with ship and PC rounds interacting.

1) It take 10 rounds of combat to warm up the engine per size category once someone gets to the bridge. If I were your PCs I'd close the airlock after the last one is aboard. Problem solved.

2) If your PCs are on the enemy ship, they aren't on their own ship fighting. And unless they used a shuttle to board, their ship is currently attached to the enemy ship. (No teleportation between moving ships.

In either of these cases you should have the turns follow the PCs. If they are being PCs it's a 6 sec turn. If they are ship crew the rounds are a lot longer.

Vexies wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

Exactly! this guy gets it.. there has to be a definable turn structure length and this is only one of the myriad of situations where PC combat and Starship combat are going to intersect and you need to track whats happening in both.

Jimbles - In regards to my hanger example the need to know stems from the fact that they have defined just how long it takes to spin up those engines (1 minute per size catagory) which is usually a starship action kind of thing but in my example its interacting with PC actions. How long does it take them to get that ship ready and roll out?

In cases where Ship Turn structure and PC turn structure intersect it seems to only make

...

I see where you are going with that but its not always that clear cut. Even without PC and Ship combat turns interacting..which they will a defined ship combat turn time becomes necessary for many reasons. Its just sloppy design. I am 100% on board for hand waving hard science in the interest of a good game and story but there is no real benefit to neglecting to give some definition to ship turn length.

Grand Lodge

Vexies wrote:
EC Gamer Guy wrote:

I can take some of the ambiguity out of this by pointing out a few problems with ship and PC rounds interacting.

1) It take 10 rounds of combat to warm up the engine per size category once someone gets to the bridge. If I were your PCs I'd close the airlock after the last one is aboard. Problem solved.

2) If your PCs are on the enemy ship, they aren't on their own ship fighting. And unless they used a shuttle to board, their ship is currently attached to the enemy ship. (No teleportation between moving ships.

In either of these cases you should have the turns follow the PCs. If they are being PCs it's a 6 sec turn. If they are ship crew the rounds are a lot longer.

Vexies wrote:
Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

Exactly! this guy gets it.. there has to be a definable turn structure length and this is only one of the myriad of situations where PC combat and Starship combat are going to intersect and you need to track whats happening in both.

Jimbles - In regards to my hanger example the need to know stems from the fact that they have defined just how long it takes to spin up those engines (1 minute per size catagory) which is usually a starship action kind of thing but in my example its interacting with PC actions. How long does it take them to get that ship ready and roll out?

In cases where Ship Turn structure and PC turn structure

...

A round in combat is probably like a minute or so. Ship weapons cycle relatively slowly - even the fastest-firing ship weapon of World War II, the United States 5"/38 dual purpose gun, only fired one round every four to five seconds and that was blisteringly rapid fire for a warship's gun (interestingly the second-fastest ROF in World War II belonged to the 8"/55 rapid fire on the Des Moines class cruiser at the unheard-of rate for a major-calibre weapon of ten rounds per minute).

Shadow Lodge

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I get the sneaking suspicion that they were more inspired by TIE Fighters, photon torpedoes, and wave motion guns when they made this game, rather than World War 2 era technology.

Grand Lodge

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The Morphling wrote:
I get the sneaking suspicion that they were more inspired by TIE Fighters, photon torpedoes, and wave motion guns when they made this game, rather than World War 2 era technology.

Which all were inspired by World War II technology. ;)

TIE Fighters = Zeros
X-Wings and Y-Wings = Spitfires and Mosquitos
Phasers = 5" and 6" guns
Photon torpedoes = Torpedoes*
Wave Motion Gun = Nuclear bomb

(Photon torpedoes were originally flak bursts and then in The Wrath of Khan they were changed by the development of the photon torpedo room set into a literal physical torpedo)


How long does it take a Captain to make an inspirational speech?

How long for a pilot to make evasive maneuvers?

Gunners to lock on to a target?

Engineers to repair critically damaged systems? 5 minutes to 1 month (5 years military aviation electrician experience)

This is why it's undefined.

It's so the GM to make it whatever suits the story.


Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
sunderedhero wrote:
Are the drift "tunnels" specific to each ship or is it possible to share/intercept another ships drift space?
The Dead Suns AP has some oblique hints as to the nature of the Drift, and while this thread isn't the place to spoil an AP, I think it's safe to say that it appears to be a plane of existence that is gently non-euclidean. I believe it is possible to encounter ships and other objects within the Drift, but the rules for Drift travel seem to indicate that your entry point is dependent on your planned exit point, so deliberately encountering a specific ship would be... challenging.

Also, FWIW, the free Starfinder Society adventure "Into the Unknown" has the PCs seek out a starship they know to be in the Drift.


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My own suspicion is that the "you can do a round of personal action" is a sidebar kludge to provide an easy way to handle when the PCs *really* want to take non-ship actions. Its not intended as an indicator of ship timescale. Ship timescale is, intentionally, supposed to be broad and flexible, just like ship hexscale is. The ambiguity is not a flaw, its a feature.

There probably will be more detailed rules for ship combat later, that would handle stuff like boarding fights. As for now? The priority is on "Functional for purpose", not precise.


ok so when you use you drift drive you travel vast amounts of space by traveling threw other planes of exestence. when arriving at your destination you exit that plane of exestence and reinter the drift. when this happens you pull a piece of the plane you left into the drift. this is reletive to the amount of time you spent in the other plane or the distance you traveled.

now when you turn off you drift drive you have to warm up your impulse engines and this takes 1 min per size catagory. when you pull a piece of that other plane there very well could be combat taking place when you are trying to warm up your impulse engines.

so yes i would like to know how long is this going to take. being stationary in space while being fired at is not a good thing for pc's or there ship.


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Matthew Downie wrote:
Jimbles the Mediocre wrote:
I've picked up from a few different places that the developers really, really don't want you mixing starship and PC combat, and I understand why. PCs on the ground have such a minimal chance of affecting a starship, and starships are massive hazards to PCs.
But fighting a battle on board a spaceship that's locked in combat sounds like the sort of exciting thing that should be allowed. You've boarded the enemy destroyer! They're attacking the rebel flagship! Explosions are going off all around you! Can you capture the enemy commander before the flagship is destroyed?

I love the idea of PCs fighting their way off a ship or coducting a boarding action to take one out/over. I would not run ship combat simultaneously though, instead have a table of random events to occur every round, a few spots of "make no more rolls on this table for D4 rounds" but also, things like "artificial gravity fluctuates, increase/decrease/no gravity for this round" or "What's a fuse? electrical explosions from bulkheads damage all combatants (REF negates)" thinking about it now and i want to build a full table, with hull breaches or even Drift seepage as the worst possible outcomes...

Running that sort of thing on the PCs ship would be a lot more difficult, i like the idea of half the party having to deal with the void zombies that just broke in but it leaves a split party running a combat encounter and a split party running a ship combat encounter... i would probably run them sequentially, first they get out of the frying pan of ship combat and then they investigate the alarms going off about an intruder or fuel leak that started after the shooting stopped. I dont think the current rules would support the PCs splitting their attention even if the timescale was locked down as both systems are built under the idea of having a full team of PCs.


sunderedhero wrote:

To complicate things further, even before the 1 minute drift engine warm up time you need to spend 10 minutes plotting a course(p145) and once you're in "drift space" you need to take the 1min/size category to warm up your conventional thrusters to actually move. There's no support for a "Just jump, it doesn't matter where we end up!" style maneuver.

There are a bunch of unanswered questions about starship travel/combat unfortunately, like:

  • Are the drift "tunnels" specific to each ship or is it possible to share/intercept another ships drift space?
  • How much damage does a ship do when ramming another?
  • What exactly does "linking weapons"(p301) do?
  • Does a ship being held by a tractor beam take any penalties to it's AC and TL?

EDIT: I found something interesting in the sidebar on p322 that seems to imply that a starship round is the same or shorter than normal combat round:

  • While your role determines what actions you can take during a
    starship combat encounter, on occasion you might want to perform
    some other kind of action, such as casting a spell or using a class
    feature. The GM has the final say on what kind of regular actions
    you can take, but generally, you can take only a move or standard
    action in a single round, and you can take only a minor crew action
    (see page 326) during that round.

Oh, so my mechanic can stop a warp core breach in under 3 seconds? That's almost as good as Jordy!


Kittyburger wrote:
A round in combat is probably like a minute or so. Ship weapons cycle relatively slowly - even the fastest-firing ship weapon of World War II, the United States 5"/38 dual purpose gun, only fired one round every four to five seconds and that was blisteringly rapid fire for a warship's gun (interestingly the second-fastest ROF in World War II belonged to the 8"/55 rapid fire on the Des Moines class cruiser at the unheard-of rate for a major-calibre weapon of ten rounds per minute).

Yes and no... modern 3-inch naval guns range from 120-200 rounds per minute. 5 inch guns can get upwards of 70. If we wanted to say that a ship round was a full minute than i would hope that every attack role was an abstract of multiple shots or lots of burst firing. Star Wars is a poor example of ship combat because the ships themselves were just set pieces to fill up space for the heroes to fly around. The prequels tried to show capital ships duking it out and they really made a mess of it by showing random rapid blasts from everywhere on the ships and then cutting to ship batteries being manned by crew and manually loaded with... capacitors or something? Its like they wanted both the ponderous behemoths of turn of the century battleships but also the frantic blasting of fighter duels.

the idea of slow weapons is more of "its only 10 per minute but each of those 10 shots is the biggest punch we can manage!" more comparable would be anti-ship missiles which only feel slow since its fire a salvo, wait to see if more are needed and then fire another salvo. Even then the idea is make the first salvo big enough to get the job done and launch them all as fast as possible.

As is, dont single pilot interceptors fire their weapons just as often in a round as a full sized battleship would anyways? there has to be a lot of hand wavium going on with these rounds...


Torbyne wrote:

Oh, so my mechanic can stop a warp core breach in under 3 seconds? That's almost as good as Jordy!

The windows paper clip pops up

Would you like to not die in a radiactive ball of fire? Yes. No. You click yes .


A Starship combat turn is exactly one GM plot in length.


Not related to the length of starship combat rounds, but related to a comment made earlier.

Spacecraft crews: Engage your suit’s environmental protection systems, and then vent the atmosphere out of your ship before combat whenever you can. Now you can’t be blown out of the ship by escaping atmosphere, and you can’t be suddenly engulfed in flames. Everyone wins.


Pantshandshake wrote:

Not related to the length of starship combat rounds, but related to a comment made earlier.

Spacecraft crews: Engage your suit’s environmental protection systems, and then vent the atmosphere out of your ship before combat whenever you can. Now you can’t be blown out of the ship by escaping atmosphere, and you can’t be suddenly engulfed in flames. Everyone wins.

And then after combat you have a time limit in which to find breathable atmosphere since you ejected the stuff before. And woe is you if your ship is huge and incapable of breaking atmosphere.


AtlasSniperman wrote:
Pantshandshake wrote:

Not related to the length of starship combat rounds, but related to a comment made earlier.

Spacecraft crews: Engage your suit’s environmental protection systems, and then vent the atmosphere out of your ship before combat whenever you can. Now you can’t be blown out of the ship by escaping atmosphere, and you can’t be suddenly engulfed in flames. Everyone wins.

And then after combat you have a time limit in which to find breathable atmosphere since you ejected the stuff before. And woe is you if your ship is huge and incapable of breaking atmosphere.

You pump the atmosphere into storage bottles, and you have backup bottles in case you do have to blow it all out the airlocks in a hurry.


Presumable, given a power supply, your spaceship should be able to regenerate whatever kind of breathe-gas used to be in there. I mean, if your armor can do that for days/level, a comparatively giant ship should have no issue. (I believe we have a method of doing this on a limited basis already, using electrolysis? I didn’t look that up, I might be wrong.)

In any case, the minor annoyance of being buttoned up in your space armor for some time is well worth not worrying about being blown out of a hole in your hull, or a fire breaking out where you’d have to eject the atmosphere anyway.


AtlasSniperman wrote:
Pantshandshake wrote:

Not related to the length of starship combat rounds, but related to a comment made earlier.

Spacecraft crews: Engage your suit’s environmental protection systems, and then vent the atmosphere out of your ship before combat whenever you can. Now you can’t be blown out of the ship by escaping atmosphere, and you can’t be suddenly engulfed in flames. Everyone wins.

And then after combat you have a time limit in which to find breathable atmosphere since you ejected the stuff before. And woe is you if your ship is huge and incapable of breaking atmosphere.

The pressure in vessels is nominally going to be 1 atm.

I can't find the analysis right now, but XKCD did a good "what if" your spaceship had a hole ripped it in. The basic result is that there's not going to be enough force lasting long enough to throw you out of the spaceship.

But you do have to contend with exposure to vacuum.


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Of course the typical Eoxian doesn't care about atmosphere...as long as it's gloomy.


Claxon wrote:

The pressure in vessels is nominally going to be 1 atm.

I can't find the analysis right now, but XKCD did a good "what if" your spaceship had a hole ripped it in. The basic result is that there's not going to be enough force lasting long enough to throw you out of the spaceship.

But you do have to contend with exposure to vacuum.

Well, I happen to love XKCD, so nice reference. If you haven't picked up a copy of the Thing Explainer book, you should.

At any rate, I keep seeing things like 'sucked out into space' show up, and rather than educate people in the forums in the hopes that they’ll educate their GM about how vacuum and spaceships actually interact, I figured I’d just skip it and tell everyone how to avoid the dangers of a rapidly decompressing spaceship while you’re wearing your space pants, but not your space suit.

Take a page from space-dogfights in the excellent show The Expanse, people. During space shooty time, strap in, button up, depressurize your ship. The more you know.


I do agree with the general sentiment that during space combat, you'll be a lot happier if you go ahead and turn on your armor's environmental protections. And I agree with venting or storing atmosphere to avoid fires or poisonous gas or anything of that nature.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Why would you have to vent atmo into space? Have your ship reclaim/recycle it.

Why waste good atmo?


If you don't have your armor's environmental protections on you're going to be really unhappy when you get hit by a nuke or graser.


Ravingdork wrote:

Why would you have to vent atmo into space? Have your ship reclaim/recycle it.

Why waste good atmo?

I guess if there was a container of some kind where you could store all the gasses in your ship, that would work too.

The two main reasons are basically:
1. Equalize the pressure inside your ship with the pressure outside your ship. As Claxon stated, punching a hole through the hull probably wouldn’t result in an explosive decompression situation, but it is a sci fi trope that a big hole in the wall makes everything in that room blow out into space. I know my GM would love to do that to us, but he can’t, because there’s no pressure in my spaaaace boat.
2. Fires, man. Fire in a spaceship means you’re blowing all your air, and the fire, out of the airlock. So to prevent that, make sure fire can’t breathe in your ship in the first place. A routine, non-emergency venting of the craft surely beats ‘Oh god oh god oh god what’s going to kill me first, the enemy ship, the fire, or the non-breathe gas released by things in here burning?’


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Another reason to pre-vent or pre-store your atmosphere, depending on how hard your sci-fi is: thrust. Even if decompression doesn't risk flinging people or objects outside the ship, if it vents, it still pushes your ship. When engaged in combat, you likely don't want uncontrolled thrust pushing your ship in random directions. It may not be a lot of thrust, but if you are shooting at an enemy a couple light seconds away, even a few feet could really screw up your targeting calculations. Especially if the thrust isn't just pushing your ship, but rotating it.

Similarly, your sensors and weapons are likely designed to operate in vacuum. If your ship is venting atmosphere, they now have to look through what is effectively a random cloud. Not good.

Now, these are both "hard sci-fi" issues. If your ships use Star Wars physics, they likely don't matter. However, the softer your sci-fi rules, the more likely you now do have to worry about explosive decompression. *cough*


Plus, there needs to be some means to replenish the atmosphere on board the ship.

The rules don't really explicitly cover it, but I assume future tech can basically make atmosphere from nothing given enough time.

Hell, we can do it via electrolysis with water. Although we get pure O2 that way...which isn't great either (more explosions!).

But yeah, a system to store your atmosphere during combat is probably pretty logical for any ship that would expect to frequently see combat and would want to mitigate the risks to personal from doing so.


I mean, if your ship can freely manufacture missiles given a bit of downtime, then atmosphere should be no problem at all.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Samantha DeWinter wrote:
I mean, if your ship can freely manufacture missiles given a bit of downtime, then atmosphere should be no problem at all.

Indeed. I tend to envision that Starfinder life support systems use a combination of sufficiently advanced technology and flat-out-magic to function as matter creators/transformers. Pump energy in, and it will either create air ex nihilo ( probably energy intensive ), or transmute the component gases back into a breathable form ( much less energy intensive ). So, as long as the system is intact and powered, you can generate atmosphere indefinitely.

Of course, like any technology, there are limits. Running the life support at maximum capacity for extended periods almost certainly increases the wear and tear, and the likelihood of a mechanical failure. This might be easily fixable, or not. Better hope a major system failure doesn't happen while you are a month away from the nearest space port.

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