How do I stop my players from running away from starship combat?


General Discussion


Hey everyone.
My players have pointed out that, yes, their ship is significantly faster and more maneuverable than the enemy ships they've encountered so far. So they want to just book it, assuming it's not an enemy they have intentions to disable/destroy.
It's not that starship combat isn't *fun*, but it is clunky, and the enemies tend to have a lot more hp and guns, which scares my players.
Specifically I'm running society adventures, if that makes any difference in the math?

Grand Lodge

Give them a reason not to run. In the SFS stuff I've seen there are specific reasons why running isn't an option in most fights. You also could always fall back in that explanation that the SFS would be disappointed and potentially withhold rewards since you left dangerous threats out in the wild to continue disrupting SFS operations or innocents.


You can always remind them that it's virtually impossible for PCs to die as a result of their ship getting wrecked. Worst case, they'll just float around in its shell until either the enemy moves in to finish them off (giving them an opportunity to grab a boarding craft and run) or some salvagers show up later (similar opportunity). And best case scenario, they get a new ship with new guns!

The other solution is to make their objective stationary and force them to engage an enemy to reach it. To be fair to them, you may want to design the encounter such that if they can survive enough enemy fire they can reach their objective without actually shooting back, but it would force them to do more than book it.

Frankly, an unarmed PC vessel should probably be a viable choice. How many situations does the Millennium Falcon shoot its way out of, really? Sure, it swats some TIE fighters at some point, but I bet it could've outrun them if it were trying hard.


Peat wrote:
Give them a reason not to run. In the SFS stuff I've seen there are specific reasons why running isn't an option in most fights. You also could always fall back in that explanation that the SFS would be disappointed and potentially withhold rewards since you left dangerous threats out in the wild to continue disrupting SFS operations or innocents.

I'm all in favor of making them engage with the challenges the GM's whipping up, but saddling conflict-averse players with an assumption like "and destroy everyone we would classify as a threat" seems... punitive.


Like, some of the fights have good reasons to engage.

But

spoiler:
the one at the end of Into the Unknown is just big scary pirates coming out of nowhere, and other than "removing a threat from the galaxy" there's no real reason to fight them?

Grand Lodge

Symar wrote:

Like, some of the fights have good reasons to engage.

But ** spoiler omitted **

Well you would miss out on the full reward and boon

Liberty's Edge

If the players run from that fight they would lose credits and a boon on the chronicle.

For SFS there are specific reductions for running from an encounter.

For home games, GMs can do the same. Withhold rewards.

As the GM it is our job to provide the background for playing the adventure. Sometimes players go a different direction and we have to adjust.

The space combat is fun I think. Once they get the hang of it it will go fast.


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Why should they be required to get into a fight they have no interest in and that is not tied to an objective? Players avoid fights all the time if they want to in games, why should SF be different?

Other issues that might apply:

They might not trust their GM to deal with them fairly and not want to risk getting an expensive starship damaged/destroyed. Do they have the means to immediately replace their ship?

They might be pursuing a goal and not want to deal with a sideshow.

They might not like the ship to ship rules.

Forcing the players to do things they don't want to do is a good way to lose players.


Wait spaceship combat does not kill PCs? Can you point out where it says that?


ghostunderasheet wrote:
Wait spaceship combat does not kill PCs? Can you point out where it says that?

Well, not immediately. Page 320-312:

CRB, 320-321 wrote:


If a ship is reduced to 0 or fewer Hull Points, it is disabled
and it floats in its current direction of travel at a rate of half its
speed until it is repaired, rescued, or destroyed. Crew members
aboard such ships are not in immediate danger unless their lifesupport
system is wrecked, but they might eventually die from
starvation and thirst if they have no way to repair the ship.

If a ship ever takes damage that exceeds twice its Hull Points,
it is destroyed and can’t be repaired. All systems stop functioning,
and the hull is compromised. The crew might initially survive, but without protection, they won’t live very long.

Enemies have to really, really want your ship destroyed to destroy it (given the number of hit points involved with getting to totally destroyed. Even then the crew don't die instantly. Given even 1st level armor can keep you alive for 24 hours in hard vacuum, its quite possible to have rescuers come by a day or two later, investigating a distress signal or what have you.

The GM has quite a bit of leeway.

Dark Archive

Because running away in space is hard? Unless you can jump away You have any where from 50 to 200 hexs till your are out of gun range (in open space) even at a bonus of 5 hexs over your foe that's a lot of time where he is only shooting at your aft (unless you turn some)

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

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Can I flip the question?

Why are you insisting that they stand a fight?
If the heroes don't have a compelling reason to fight, why should they do it?

In the scenario you quote, the characters are not Stewards, Knights of Golarion, or other military responsible to protecting the space lanes.

I don't see where they are actually compelled to fight the Lawblight.


Hiruma Kai wrote:
ghostunderasheet wrote:
Wait spaceship combat does not kill PCs? Can you point out where it says that?

Well, not immediately. Page 320-312:

CRB, 320-321 wrote:


If a ship is reduced to 0 or fewer Hull Points, it is disabled
and it floats in its current direction of travel at a rate of half its
speed until it is repaired, rescued, or destroyed. Crew members
aboard such ships are not in immediate danger unless their lifesupport
system is wrecked, but they might eventually die from
starvation and thirst if they have no way to repair the ship.

If a ship ever takes damage that exceeds twice its Hull Points,
it is destroyed and can’t be repaired. All systems stop functioning,
and the hull is compromised. The crew might initially survive, but without protection, they won’t live very long.

Enemies have to really, really want your ship destroyed to destroy it (given the number of hit points involved with getting to totally destroyed. Even then the crew don't die instantly. Given even 1st level armor can keep you alive for 24 hours in hard vacuum, its quite possible to have rescuers come by a day or two later, investigating a distress signal or what have you.

The GM has quite a bit of leeway.

>.>..... thats good to know.

Scarab Sages

In the rulebook, it says it actually takes 1 minute of remaining completely stationary to initiate the Drift drive. That means you're a sitting duck while preparing to "run away".

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

MARCIA SCHOONOVER wrote:
In the rulebook, it says it actually takes 1 minute of remaining completely stationary to initiate the Drift drive. That means you're a sitting duck while preparing to "run away".

Or you are using normal thrusters to put a LOT of distance between you and the adversary.


Well, does initiating the drift engine turn off other systems?
during that minute you can at least beef up shields or guns to protect yourself at the bare minimum


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I'm not sure how you compel your players not to run away from NORMAL combat, other than by artificial constraints (you're trapped in this room) or their own objectives (the treasure is in this room). Other than the mechanisms of avoiding combat ("we keep moving until he gives up" vs. "We aren't going into the scary dungeon"), it seems like the same problem/non-problem either way.

So, you may want to avoid scenarios where simply fleeing is both tactically and strategically viable (where they both CAN and would want to run away). Beyond avoiding those scenarios, you may want to discuss the expectations of the game. Do they not enjoy starship combat? Are you enjoying the combats yourself but not offering sufficient reward/reason for them to risk them?


MARCIA SCHOONOVER wrote:
In the rulebook, it says it actually takes 1 minute of remaining completely stationary to initiate the Drift drive. That means you're a sitting duck while preparing to "run away".

It's up to the GM to decide how many combat rounds that is, though. One wouldn't be absurd.

What is a little silly, though, is the "starship combat rounds have no defined time" combined with a very defined time for drift drive engagement and recharging shields, things that very much interact with combat.


Xenocrat wrote:
MARCIA SCHOONOVER wrote:
In the rulebook, it says it actually takes 1 minute of remaining completely stationary to initiate the Drift drive. That means you're a sitting duck while preparing to "run away".

It's up to the GM to decide how many combat rounds that is, though. One wouldn't be absurd.

What is a little silly, though, is the "starship combat rounds have no defined time" combined with a very defined time for drift drive engagement and recharging shields, things that very much interact with combat.

Actually, we are told you can take one standard action during ship combat. Meaning 1 ship combat round is equal to 1 or less normal combat round.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
HWalsh wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
MARCIA SCHOONOVER wrote:
In the rulebook, it says it actually takes 1 minute of remaining completely stationary to initiate the Drift drive. That means you're a sitting duck while preparing to "run away".

It's up to the GM to decide how many combat rounds that is, though. One wouldn't be absurd.

What is a little silly, though, is the "starship combat rounds have no defined time" combined with a very defined time for drift drive engagement and recharging shields, things that very much interact with combat.

Actually, we are told you can take one standard action during ship combat. Meaning 1 ship combat round is equal to 1 or less normal combat round.

We were told this in a very optional-sounding sidebar, providing a way to deal with players doing something not normally supported in ship combat. I wouldn't take it as anything close to definitive.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Xenocrat wrote:


What is a little silly, though, is the "starship combat rounds have no defined time" combined with a very defined time for drift drive engagement and recharging shields, things that very much interact with combat.

Except they don't, the intention seems to be that you can't engage drift drives during combat.

As far as shields are concerned, there are ways of repairing them in combat, but they regenerate only outside of combat timing.


You can't really make them fight.

In Society play there are rewards not earned if you run

In Any game you will get chewed up if you turn tail and run given the range of weapons.

In SFS scenarios I've played which is all but 1-04, there has been little real issue with winning the fights. Typically we either outgun the opponents, or have the speed and maneuverability to stay in their aft, avoiding serious damage and pounding one quadrant.

Symar wrote:

Hey everyone.

My players have pointed out that, yes, their ship is significantly faster and more maneuverable than the enemy ships they've encountered so far. So they want to just book it, assuming it's not an enemy they have intentions to disable/destroy.
It's not that starship combat isn't *fun*, but it is clunky, and the enemies tend to have a lot more hp and guns, which scares my players.
Specifically I'm running society adventures, if that makes any difference in the math?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Let them run?

If going with the specified enemy from the Society Questpack you're looking at two longrange weapon (20 hexes) with a +8 gunnery against an AC 14.

The speed difference between the two ships is 2 hexes.
Say they start at max encounter distance, they'll get shot at for 8 rounds with two guns at a +6 modifier (8+ to hit), after which they'll get shot at for 10 rounds at a +4 modifier (10+ to hit), the next 10 rounds at +2 and so on.

That's a really long time to get shot at your aft with 2x 4d4.

Liberty's Edge

Damanta wrote:

Let them run?

If going with the specified enemy from the Society Questpack you're looking at two longrange weapon (20 hexes) with a +8 gunnery against an AC 14.

The speed difference between the two ships is 2 hexes.
Say they start at max encounter distance, they'll get shot at for 8 rounds with two guns at a +6 modifier (8+ to hit), after which they'll get shot at for 10 rounds at a +4 modifier (10+ to hit), the next 10 rounds at +2 and so on.

That's a really long time to get shot at your aft with 2x 4d4.

That assumes there are no engineers diverting power to engines or pilots using evasive maneuvers. Also, there are modifiers to coilguns that the PCs might have available to them to make it harder to be hit.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Gary Bush wrote:
Damanta wrote:

Let them run?

If going with the specified enemy from the Society Questpack you're looking at two longrange weapon (20 hexes) with a +8 gunnery against an AC 14.

The speed difference between the two ships is 2 hexes.
Say they start at max encounter distance, they'll get shot at for 8 rounds with two guns at a +6 modifier (8+ to hit), after which they'll get shot at for 10 rounds at a +4 modifier (10+ to hit), the next 10 rounds at +2 and so on.

That's a really long time to get shot at your aft with 2x 4d4.

That assumes there are no engineers diverting power to engines or pilots using evasive maneuvers. Also, there are modifiers to coilguns that the PCs might have available to them to make it harder to be hit.

So, engineers on both ships divert power to engines, nullifying that.

Evasive maneuvers adds a +2 to their AC, so my numbers go up a little bit. Still a long time.


Keep in mind it's not clear at what range active sensors lose track of other ships. You can only actively scan to five increments, but it's unclear if ships vanish or just remain as a track you can't enhance beyond that.


MARCIA SCHOONOVER wrote:
In the rulebook, it says it actually takes 1 minute of remaining completely stationary to initiate the Drift drive. That means you're a sitting duck while preparing to "run away".

This was what struck me as the most likely reason to have to fight. Unless you are fast enough you can outpace your enemies by a very large margin it may be hard to get a solid minute with your thrusters off prepping your drift drive to take off.

Still if your ship is fast enough and the team wants to run that is a totally valid choice. It should have some consequences but really if they want to scamper off and have the ability to do so in random 1v1 encounters it is not unreasonable.

It is the han solo way to play you fight when you have to but run when you can.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I suppose what the rules could use is guidelines for disengagement. How far do you have to get from an enemy ship before you are no longer "in combat"?


Shaudius wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:


What is a little silly, though, is the "starship combat rounds have no defined time" combined with a very defined time for drift drive engagement and recharging shields, things that very much interact with combat.
Except they don't, the intention seems to be that you can't engage drift drives during combat.

Why do you say that? As long as you don't move for one minute (however many rounds your GM says that is in combat time) you can just sit there, take hits, and fire back with weapons in a useable arc until the drift drive is ready.

Liberty's Edge

Damanta wrote:
Gary Bush wrote:
Damanta wrote:

Let them run?

If going with the specified enemy from the Society Questpack you're looking at two longrange weapon (20 hexes) with a +8 gunnery against an AC 14.

The speed difference between the two ships is 2 hexes.
Say they start at max encounter distance, they'll get shot at for 8 rounds with two guns at a +6 modifier (8+ to hit), after which they'll get shot at for 10 rounds at a +4 modifier (10+ to hit), the next 10 rounds at +2 and so on.

That's a really long time to get shot at your aft with 2x 4d4.

That assumes there are no engineers diverting power to engines or pilots using evasive maneuvers. Also, there are modifiers to coilguns that the PCs might have available to them to make it harder to be hit.

So, engineers on both ships divert power to engines, nullifying that.

Evasive maneuvers adds a +2 to their AC, so my numbers go up a little bit. Still a long time.

Looking at the pregens vs the NPC stats, it is more likely that the PCs will succeed at the rolls than it is for the NPCs.

But yes, it would take a while to get away. But managed correctly, the PCs rear shield would not fail and the PCs will be able to get far enough away to escape without fighting.

So call it a day, the party escapes, does not complete the final quest, if Society game, loss out on credits, fame, reputation and a boon.

Honestly, the space combat in general is not as dangerous or clunky as people think. Once everyone understands what is happening, each "round" of space combat runs as fast, if not faster, than a normal encounter.

And for the specific being mentioned here.. well, running is silly. The fight is not fair. Not even close.

Silver Crusade

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If there is no reason to fight, I say let them run. It makes good sense.

If you want your players to stay and fight give them an objective.

For example:
There is a ship to salvage, and someone else wants it too. You can't dock your ship to salvage it while pirates are shooting at you.

Goblins in speedy junkships faster than your ship are chasing after you stole a relic they worship. You can't jump into drift space until they're destroyed or flee because it takes a full minute powered down to do that.

Your heroes need to land on the planet, but a bounty hunter ship stands between them and atmo. Sure they could outrun him, but if he finds their ship on the surface they might be left stranded on an alien world.

In general, fights with no stakes shouldn't be a part of starship combat. Don't bother with them. This applies to normal combat, roleplaying situations, skill challenges, and all encounters in RPGs.


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If you're not running a pre-published scenario, don't force them into a bunch of ship fights if they don't like the ship combat rules.
"The PLAYERS will miss out on rewards" is a poor way to force CHARACTERS that are just thinking smart into doing something, too.

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