Starship combat

Rules Questions

I currently have three players. The concern is not filling out all the roles aboard ship. They refuse to use npc's. So the question is how can I run starship combat without a full crew compliment. As I read RAW a PC that assumes that role can only perform that role during combat. Am I missing something here? Not having a full complement seems like it would put them at a severe disadvantage.

Not all roles are super essential in my opinion. It seems like the science officer and captain aren't required IMO. You need a pilot, a gunner, and an engineer really. Captain and science officer mostly just provide bonuses it seems like, but aren't really necessary IMO.

Just adjust the CR of encounters down, so that your PCs can win if you're really worried about it.

The Exchange

See also Minor crew actions on page 326 of the core rule book.

Did a playtest at PaizoCon UK with just 3 of us. As Claxon said, you need a pilot gunner & engineer, but you can manage without a captain or science officer

Liberty's Edge

They do need to add some sort of a minor crew action to re-balance shields...otherwise, it's really hard to justify them on fighters, low crew ships

Andy Brown wrote:
Did a playtest at PaizoCon UK with just 3 of us. As Claxon said, you need a pilot gunner & engineer, but you can manage without a captain or science officer

yep those are most important. You can also change roles before the engineer phase. So if you really need to re-balance the shields more than shoot the gunner could switch to science or even to captain tho help the pilot or eng make a critical maneuver or repair role. They will need the right skills of course.

Curious if anyone has more to share regarding this topic. My group will have four players and we plan to cover pilot, gunner, captain, and engineer with the engineer hopping in science role if needed.

Anyone playing with less than 5 people have experience on how this has gone in your campaigns?

Is there anywhere in the book that details hiring NPC crew members? I didn't see much mechanically in the starship section regarding it other than saying large teams would support the officer (but they don't even add anything to skill checks as far as I can tell).

Hiring NPC services is covered on pages 234 and 235, though any sort of long-term investment could become fairly expensive if not accounted for in what you provide the party.

As for the original question, yes, having a smaller crew will put the party at a disadvantage compared to a larger group. This doesn't need to be a problem, so much as an additional challenge if you account for their weaker action economy. Can they cover pilot and gunner? Then they have the most basic capabilities necessary for starship combat. Can one of them act as engineer? Then they can squeeze out a little more durability and tend to their injuries. Can one of them act as a science officer? Then they can rebalance their shields if needed, or support the gunner or pilot. If one of them is a good face, or just has decent modifiers for any combination of piloting, computers, and engineering, they can spend a little time as Captain to give someone else a +2 when it really matters. And most importantly, they can shuffle through these roles as needed at the start of every round.

It's entirely possible to run a starship with a smaller than normal crew like this. It's harder, yes, and you as the GM cannot throw normal challenges at them and expect them to handle it as well as a larger party would. But it's perfectly doable if you account for that. Assuming, of course, that you don't have something like three would-be captains with no piloting or technical abilities between them.

That would be a little bit more of a problem.

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