Problem with Piracy.


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RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

How is Space Piracy accomplished in Starfinder?

We know that there are space pirates, but without some kind of tractor beam or grapnel how is this accomplished below the Capital Ship level?

Currently, it is necessary to completely disable the target ship to board it, making capturing vessels for the pirates to be impractical. Even the battle against the Rusty Rivet ("Splintered Worlds" p. 4) seems kind of high risk for the Pirates.


Targeting engines so they can't run away?

Disabling is different from destroying it, so pirates could disable it, board, and then loot/pillage. There'd be some expense repairing the ship if they elected to take it.

Space Pirates also operate in the Diaspora around asterays don't they? Pirates could probably loot wreckage from mislead ships

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

SirShua wrote:
Targeting engines so they can't run away?

Would that also depower the defending ships weapons and shields?

Scarab Sages Starfinder Design Lead

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Same way it was in the Golden Age of Piracy.
You prove you can blow a merchant ship away, then tell them to pull to and prepare to be boarded.
If they can't outrun you or outfight you, they don't have a lot of options.


I figure piracy works on two levels: low damage and high damage.

Low damage relies on implied threat, where the crew of the damaged ship draws the conclusion (supported by the pirates surrounding them) that further resistance will result in badness so they surrender. In this case even if their ship is fully working, the crew is under the impression things will go worse if they try to run/etc.

High damage is where the crew already knows bad things are inevitable and trying until the last effort is mandatory because the fate is worse (Maybe its the Corpse Fleet or that pirate has a rep of spacing any survivors anyway). So they'll fight until their ship is below 0 hull points, potentially up until it hits 2x below its hull points.

Rules wise, even a wrecked everything ship can still shoot and move, just with massive check penalties. It notes that even with everything wrecked, you can still potentially limp home. At high damage its probably also at a point where you've gotten a few crew hits potentially taking it down below minimum crew or something. Even a wrecked weapon system and power core can presumably let you take a snap shot at penalties.

Narrative wise, a high damaged wrecked ship would be probably to the point that even the pirates wouldn't want to salvage the hulk itself, just the cargo. Low damage wise it might be worth taking as a prize ship.

From a GM perspective, i would play a wrecked/destroyed ship as functionally inert/disabled, even if technically they could still do some stuff. I probably wouldn't be doing such high damage to a PC ship intentionally, unless there's some established narrative reason why the NPCs attacking want to hull the thing and leave them floating in a tomb.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Same way it was in the Golden Age of Piracy.

You prove you can blow a merchant ship away, then tell them to pull to and prepare to be boarded.
If they can't outrun you or outfight you, they don't have a lot of options.

So it works at "higher levels," since most prize ships (i.e., cargo or passenger) would be Level 5 or less.

Losobal wrote:
High damage is where the crew already knows bad things are inevitable and trying until the last effort is mandatory because the fate is worse (Maybe its the Corpse Fleet or that pirate has a rep of spacing any survivors anyway). So they'll fight until their ship is below 0 hull points, potentially up until it hits 2x below its hull points.

Which is why smart pirates wanted to avoid the reputation.

Logically then, one of the duties of the Church of Besmara (and the reason why it would be tolerated by the Pact Words) is repatriation the crews and passengers of captured ships.


You can get similar results with a large number of small organized fighters that you can get with one big ship.

Ship combat being what it is Multiple smaller ships can be quite dangerous if they focused their firepower on a single point.

Said vessels would also be easier to hide, store, and maintain in favorite pirate spaces such as the Diaspora.

Also keep in mind corporate privateers can totally be a thing.


Yeah I figure that the Free Pirate Captains generally try to NOT come across as reavers as a whole, so their existence is unwelcome but tolerated. Individually they might be reavers, but within the group I imagine they also try to rein their own stuff in so the rest of their org doesn't kill them, or the pull black moves in areas with no witnesses/survivors/etc.

Silver Crusade

And, of course, in real life the problem pirates ran into was that they had no place to execute repairs- in Starfinder, with the cost of ship repairs being so high, they run into the same issues potentially. They'll be less interested in stealing a disabled ship and more interested in looting it for all it's worth.

Could lead to abandoned, badly damaged ships just floating out in the black with very little loot...
but maybe with some valuable records... If such a ship became infested with some flavor of space bug it could make for an adventure...!


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May I suggest piracy as a spectacle for the rich, such as in Bodacious Space Pirates?


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:

Same way it was in the Golden Age of Piracy.

You prove you can blow a merchant ship away, then tell them to pull to and prepare to be boarded.
If they can't outrun you or outfight you, they don't have a lot of options.

So it works at "higher levels," since most prize ships (i.e., cargo or passenger) would be Level 5 or less.

Losobal wrote:
High damage is where the crew already knows bad things are inevitable and trying until the last effort is mandatory because the fate is worse (Maybe its the Corpse Fleet or that pirate has a rep of spacing any survivors anyway). So they'll fight until their ship is below 0 hull points, potentially up until it hits 2x below its hull points.

Which is why smart pirates wanted to avoid the reputation.

Logically then, one of the duties of the Church of Besmara (and the reason why it would be tolerated by the Pact Words) is repatriation the crews and passengers of captured ships.

I hadn't thought of that before, but yeah, it makes sense. I can easily see the Church of Besmara serving as a relatively fair and honest handler of ransoms, for the pragmatic reason of "If crew and passengers don't constantly die unnecessarily, governments are less likely to send out naval fleets to wipe out piracy." So, the Besmarans can either act as a neutral-ish broker for ransom, or they can just outright "buy" surrendered prisoners to be repatriated later. The latter might especially be the case if the local powers that be basically have a standing contract with the Church for their services. X million credits per year, in exchange for general repatriation of surrendered crews ( and probably some other side issues related to pirates who get too monstrous ).


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Ragi wrote:
May I suggest piracy as a spectacle for the rich, such as in Bodacious Space Pirates?

You mean piracy whose *surface* function is 'spectacle for the rich'. ;)

Its a neat idea, but I have a hard time imagining a spot in the setting where it would fit. There's just too much actual starfaring danger.


What about Drift escapes?
It seems that piracy would be quite difficult when targets can shift into the Drift so quickly. They lose days, but that cost should offset whatever cargo is worth carrying via ship & the ship itself.

Space pirates might have to resort to more nefarious tactics (losing honor & making space a zero-trust zone) or strategic timing (requiring spies, betrayals, hackers, or precogs). This level of sophistication seems beyond a pirate's reach, that is if they're just pirates...


Your thrusters have to be turned off and it takes a minute or two to escape into the drift.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

TarkXT wrote:
Your thrusters have to be turned off and it takes a minute or two to escape into the drift.

Yes, an eternity in combat.

Oh, and this is true even if you have enough PCU to run both systems. (Though it does still make the shift faster and your engineer isn't required to do anything.)


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
The Ragi wrote:
May I suggest piracy as a spectacle for the rich, such as in Bodacious Space Pirates?

Or maybe take the other way around like here :D


hm. Thinking a bit more about piracy, pirates in Starfinder have something of a disadvantage compared to the Pirate Kingdom of former Golarion.

Starfinder pirates have a benefit of being 'kinda hard to find' in the asteroids, but they no longer really have the protection that the big old hurricane gave the Golarian pirates. Barring the adventure hook which had the Chels do some pretty significant sacrifices/bargains to get their fleet able to pass through it, the hurricane provided access limitation and thus early warning, and it made the normal travel to the region a pain in the butt that other nations didn't just sortie their forces to crush the pirates.

In real life, the most recent example we have are the Somali pirates. Born of weakened national security local piracy popped up, harassing the international community traveling through the area. Lack of coordination by international forces, inconsistencies in law/precedent led to early piracy success.

Well...at least until the Russians decided 'yknow, if things remain unclear, we'll just revert to age old responses to pirates (f#&# em up!).

In the long run, better management and security by outside forces resulted in a pretty big reduction in piracy in the region.

So with the Starfinder stuff...the 'pirate kingdom' (not yet developed) is kinda localized, and anyone could probably figure out where pirate attacks happen over time. In a sense, the biggest thing the pirates have going is that they haven't done enough to really trigger a response. The smuggling stuff probably pays for the piracy cover, the illegal trade stuff providing enough cash to non-pirates, but the corrupt dudes outside the pirate zones that are the market that corruption/influence gets used to keep things on the down low a bit. But if you end up getting more hijackings and murders and the like, that'd probably go beyond what can be protected easily.

But if Pirates in starfinder try to pull the "Lets be Pirate KINGS!" that might just be the push needed for the smackdown, and unless they get support equal to Pact World level stuff, I don't see how they can pull off successful long term defense of their stuff.


Lord Fyre wrote:
TarkXT wrote:
Your thrusters have to be turned off and it takes a minute or two to escape into the drift.

Yes, an eternity in combat.

Oh, and this is true even if you have enough PCU to run both systems. (Though it does still make the shift faster and your engineer isn't required to do anything.)

How does one determine what an eternity is in space combat when the length of a starship combat turn hasn't been clarified?

They are loosely tied to regular combat rounds (where the CRB talks about taking other actions), but if one imagines along the lines of Star Trek you get a different sense of time than doing so along the lines of Star Wars. Funnily enough, the latter setting does have much more successful pirate organizations!

It's easy to imagine that a Captain goading her foes gives a good minute of haranguing, at least if she wants them to make errors. Or is talking still a free action? :P
And I doubt Engineers could make six-second patches...every six seconds.
So what's a minute? Results would vary by GM.

Now, I accept that space piracy is required in this genre. Absolutely, and moreso given Besmara. But I do like some verisimilitude too, showing how genre norms work within the mechanics. It seems that if a minute is what's needed, all precious cargo would have scouts a minute out. Piracy would be lose some glory picking at the rabble.


But there are "tractor" beam weapons. Just load your ship with a few of them. Target the ship move it so its directional weapons can't target you and use the other tractor beams to trap or force their turreted weapons again in a way they can't shoot you and force your way aboard.
And a broadside worth of linked guns to keep the target in line. Its basically ship to ship grappling with attempts to get the other persons guns out of target reticle. Then get enough people over to stop the rift/slip/warp drive from fireing via forced boarding, traversing Hull breaches or using some sort of Dragon's Teeth [drop pods] sort of approach. You could also "parlay" thier safety for their cargo while holding them at gun point.


Starfinder Superscriber
TarkXT wrote:
Your thrusters have to be turned off and it takes a minute or two to escape into the drift.

It (potentially) takes a lot longer than that, assuming you don't want to be lost in the drift.

First you have to calculate your course per the Astrogation/Navigation rules on page 145. That takes 10 minutes and your pilot (or at least, someone with the pilot skill) isn't doing anything else. If you don't do this first, you're off course and it ups the DC on getting anywhere by 5 or 10 (or more) completely at the whim of the GM.

Once you have a course calculated and set you have to 'remain stationary' and shut off your thrusters and that's at least a minute per page 291. Personally, I think they meant something like 'cease accelerating' rather than 'remain stationary' but a vindictive DM can argue that anytime you get hit by an enemy attack, you're no longer 'stationary' and have to start over, using your thrusters to stop. Newtonian physics isn't included in the rules, but it isn't explicitly excluded, either.

Then you activate the drift drive, which may or may not take you out of real space. Because, depending on how your DM interprets the word "jump" and the following rules text "While traveling through the Drift, a starship uses its conventional thrusters." You may also have to spool up your thrusters again before entering the drift, which is 1 minute per size category of your ship. There's no real description of drift entering or what the word 'jump' means in context, and I've heard some DM's talk about it like planeshift (think Battlestar Gallactica) while others talk about it like you're opening a gate in front of your ship (think Babylon 5) that you have to then enter and both seem valid based on what I'm reading.

The rules on this are all, unfortunately, pretty dang vague and open to a lot of GM interpretation. Because starship combat rounds aren't tied to a specific time, one GM could say that all takes place in a single round of combat, or even a single Piloting phase, while a different GM could say it takes 10 rounds or 2 or 5 and all of them would be correct.

This is the problem with intentionally giving vague rules and expecting GM's to be game designers.

Shadow Lodge

From what I've gathered, being in the drift also doesn't make you immune to piracy. Yes it's in another dimension where travel times are shorter, but you're still traveling in relatively predictable paths. One of the scenarios so far you're close enough to another ship to chat for a few days before your paths diverge. So pirates can still lay-in-wait IN the drift for passerbys. Indeed, it's likely the ONLY way they'd catch prey. Because unless you're doing a short hop of a couple planets, the drift is faster, so you'll never travel through normal space more than maneuvering a bit near your source and destination.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Depends on where the source and destination are. If one or both are not heavily fortified, a lot of profitable piracy could consist of "pounce, grab, depart".


Castilliano wrote:

What about Drift escapes?

It seems that piracy would be quite difficult when targets can shift into the Drift so quickly. They lose days, but that cost should offset whatever cargo is worth carrying via ship & the ship itself.

Space pirates might have to resort to more nefarious tactics (losing honor & making space a zero-trust zone) or strategic timing (requiring spies, betrayals, hackers, or precogs). This level of sophistication seems beyond a pirate's reach, that is if they're just pirates...

This is what would make piracy really hard to pull off unless you are going after settlements or stations or people docked to a station. Given the way the drift appears to work from the most recent AP there basically is zero chance once they get into drift of following them. The only way to really do it would be if you were grappled or locked onto them and matched drives.

So if the target has time to spin up their drives before you can reach them catching them is basically a non starter. Given also the way drift works there is no good way to lay in wait around a jump point exit so you would have to be staking out either a space station or settlement or some place that your targets would go to and then find away to get close enough to them you can make a credible threat about blowing them away if they don't heave to before they can run away.


thistledown wrote:
From what I've gathered, being in the drift also doesn't make you immune to piracy. Yes it's in another dimension where travel times are shorter, but you're still traveling in relatively predictable paths. One of the scenarios so far you're close enough to another ship to chat for a few days before your paths diverge. So pirates can still lay-in-wait IN the drift for passerbys. Indeed, it's likely the ONLY way they'd catch prey. Because unless you're doing a short hop of a couple planets, the drift is faster, so you'll never travel through normal space more than maneuvering a bit near your source and destination.

From the drift info in the latest AP that kind of thing can happen but it would be utter happenstance and not something you could plan for. It describes every bit of the prime plane corresponds to a place in the drift but those places even an inch apart in the prime plane could be on opposite sides of the drift.

So setting up piracy in the drift seems like a pretty pointless thing to attempt unless you were guarding some specific known drift location that people intentionally travel to.

The way the drift seems to work makes a lot of normal type piracy tactics really problematic to implement although it also works in the pirates favor for hit and run raids on settlements/space stations get in get stuff and then if you can get back into the drift the chance of authorities being able to follow you appears to be close to nil.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

kaid wrote:
thistledown wrote:
From what I've gathered, being in the drift also doesn't make you immune to piracy. Yes it's in another dimension where travel times are shorter, but you're still traveling in relatively predictable paths. One of the scenarios so far you're close enough to another ship to chat for a few days before your paths diverge. So pirates can still lay-in-wait IN the drift for passerbys. Indeed, it's likely the ONLY way they'd catch prey. Because unless you're doing a short hop of a couple planets, the drift is faster, so you'll never travel through normal space more than maneuvering a bit near your source and destination.

From the drift info in the latest AP that kind of thing can happen but it would be utter happenstance and not something you could plan for. It describes every bit of the prime plane corresponds to a place in the drift but those places even an inch apart in the prime plane could be on opposite sides of the drift.

So setting up piracy in the drift seems like a pretty pointless thing to attempt unless you were guarding some specific known drift location that people intentionally travel to.

The way the drift seems to work makes a lot of normal type piracy tactics really problematic to implement although it also works in the pirates favor for hit and run raids on settlements/space stations get in get stuff and then if you can get back into the drift the chance of authorities being able to follow you appears to be close to nil.

The problem there though is that there are no real rules for boarding a space station.

Liberty's Edge

Lord Fyre wrote:
kaid wrote:
thistledown wrote:
From what I've gathered, being in the drift also doesn't make you immune to piracy. Yes it's in another dimension where travel times are shorter, but you're still traveling in relatively predictable paths. One of the scenarios so far you're close enough to another ship to chat for a few days before your paths diverge. So pirates can still lay-in-wait IN the drift for passerbys. Indeed, it's likely the ONLY way they'd catch prey. Because unless you're doing a short hop of a couple planets, the drift is faster, so you'll never travel through normal space more than maneuvering a bit near your source and destination.

From the drift info in the latest AP that kind of thing can happen but it would be utter happenstance and not something you could plan for. It describes every bit of the prime plane corresponds to a place in the drift but those places even an inch apart in the prime plane could be on opposite sides of the drift.

So setting up piracy in the drift seems like a pretty pointless thing to attempt unless you were guarding some specific known drift location that people intentionally travel to.

The way the drift seems to work makes a lot of normal type piracy tactics really problematic to implement although it also works in the pirates favor for hit and run raids on settlements/space stations get in get stuff and then if you can get back into the drift the chance of authorities being able to follow you appears to be close to nil.

The problem there though is that there are no real rules for boarding a space station.

The same way you board a ship?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Noven wrote:
Lord Fyre wrote:
kaid wrote:
thistledown wrote:
From what I've gathered, being in the drift also doesn't make you immune to piracy. Yes it's in another dimension where travel times are shorter, but you're still traveling in relatively predictable paths. One of the scenarios so far you're close enough to another ship to chat for a few days before your paths diverge. So pirates can still lay-in-wait IN the drift for passerbys. Indeed, it's likely the ONLY way they'd catch prey. Because unless you're doing a short hop of a couple planets, the drift is faster, so you'll never travel through normal space more than maneuvering a bit near your source and destination.

From the drift info in the latest AP that kind of thing can happen but it would be utter happenstance and not something you could plan for. It describes every bit of the prime plane corresponds to a place in the drift but those places even an inch apart in the prime plane could be on opposite sides of the drift.

So setting up piracy in the drift seems like a pretty pointless thing to attempt unless you were guarding some specific known drift location that people intentionally travel to.

The way the drift seems to work makes a lot of normal type piracy tactics really problematic to implement although it also works in the pirates favor for hit and run raids on settlements/space stations get in get stuff and then if you can get back into the drift the chance of authorities being able to follow you appears to be close to nil.

The problem there though is that there are no real rules for boarding a space station.

The same way you board a ship?

Which is How?

Liberty's Edge

You dock with it and hack the doors. I believe Dead Suns 4 has stuff with that with the:

Spoiler:

Azlanti Ship


Starfinder Superscriber

It doesn't really have rules in that example. It just sort of happens.

Dead Suns 4:
BOARDING ACTION (CR 9)
The Fearful Symmetry pulls alongside the PCs’ starship and
connects a short umbilicus between the two vessels’ airlocks,
and the crew members use an autohacking device to force
their way into the PCs’ ship. This is neither quiet nor subtle,
giving the PCs 1d4+1 rounds to prepare and determine which
airlock the Aeon Guards plan to enter through. This fight can
take place anywhere aboard the PCs’ starship where the PCs
are preparing for an ambush, but it most likely occurs in and
around the airlock.


I am not sure how much specific rules there need to be for boarding a station. The station would work basically like a big stationary space ship with normal air locks. It can't really manuver and may or may not be armed. If you can match up to an airlock either hack it or blow it and boarding ensues.


In thinking about this one thing I do notice is that scanner range in starfinder seems kind of limited. Places like the diaspora could be pretty ripe targets for pirates to infest lots of things to hide behind to try to jump people if they are passing through. The trick is basically finding a target to stake out that you have a good chance of tasty merchants/miners passing by/through that has enough stuff around to allow you to get close enough they can't effectively just jump to drift.


There are no rules for forceful boarding of a space station. However, there are no rules for peaceful boarding a space station, which means that if you follow the rules to the letter, and are guided by the principle of "if it's not stated in the rules, can't happen", then once players leave Absalom Station they can't go back, ever. Making stations pretty useless and the game a bit dissapointing.

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

pithica42 wrote:

It doesn't really have rules in that example. It just sort of happens.

** spoiler omitted **

Why can't the PCs stop them from connecting the two ships?


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gustavo iglesias wrote:
There are no rules for forceful boarding of a space station. However, there are no rules for peaceful boarding a space station, which means that if you follow the rules to the letter, and are guided by the principle of "if it's not stated in the rules, can't happen", then once players leave Absalom Station they can't go back, ever. Making stations pretty useless and the game a bit dissapointing.

While what you say is true, the way most groups run (from personal experience) I would be surprised if any adventurers felt they could ever go back to a previously visited station anyways.


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Torbyne wrote:


While what you say is true, the way most groups run (from personal experience) I would be surprised if any adventurers felt they could ever go back to a previously visited station anyways.

It wasn't my FAULT! And his head had those particle-beam holes in it when I found him!


Oh boy I do love the purchase of stations where the previous lifeforms have been rendered into non-living matter at such cheap prices!!!


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Starfinder Superscriber
Lord Fyre wrote:
pithica42 wrote:
Why can't the PCs stop them from connecting the two ships?

trying not to spoil DS4:
That whole section of the AP reads like a railroad map. It's one of a couple places in the AP (total) that I'm not looking forward to running because it assumes a lot about how the encounter (and the previous one) goes.

It assumes that the PCs lose the initial starship encounter (which isn't a given) or somehow magically know they're out gunned (which they shouldn't be, it's potentially an even tier ship) and 'play dead' to get them the Azlanti to try to board them. It then assumes that whatever equipment the Azlanti have can easily connect to theirs and easily hack their vessel. It goes on to assume that the Azlanti agents (once they board) will be able to off themselves or get away if the fight goes bad so the players can't learn any of the 'secrets' of the Star Empire.

It seems to be a whole lot of, "We want you to make the players afraid of the Azlanti Star Empire, so force them to lose and then force them to lose and then force them to lose again, just so they learn." It feels like I'm being encouraged to cheat to preserve Paizo's upcoming Azlanti AP.


Lord Fyre wrote:
pithica42 wrote:

It doesn't really have rules in that example. It just sort of happens.

** spoiler omitted **

Why can't the PCs stop them from connecting the two ships?

Because that part of the AP is too railroady, in my opinion. But that's a whole other story.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
gustavo iglesias wrote:
There are no rules for forceful boarding of a space station. However, there are no rules for peaceful boarding a space station, which means that if you follow the rules to the letter, and are guided by the principle of "if it's not stated in the rules, can't happen", then once players leave Absalom Station they can't go back, ever. Making stations pretty useless and the game a bit dissapointing.

Well, yes.

This is why this proves that "if its not stated in the rules, it can't happen" is absolute nonsense, and anyone who proposes it seriously should be laughed out of the room.


All a "boarding" action means is a hostile ship docks with a target and begins a boarding operation. If it is a space station or a crippled ship there is no chance to maneuver to avoid somebody from docking with you. If they want to pull up along side and dock it would be the same basic check as doing so with a non hostile target. Then it is just a matter of making an opening either cutting through the hull/hacking/blowing an airlock open. There are plenty of existing rules for all of those things no need to make a specific boarding action rule set unless you are using some techs like boarding pods or transporter or some feature that does not involve just pulling up to mostly stationary target.


Starfinder Superscriber

The rules I can find for stuff like hardness/hitpoints of ships hulls makes cutting in to a door a process that's going to take a while with anything but 20th level weapons. They have hardness of 35 and 2400hp. The strength break DC is 55, which I don't think is possible for a PC and I'm not even sure is possible for any NPCs.

I haven't seen any rules for hacking the door. I'm pretty sure there is a way you can infer them from the tier of the ship computer, or something. But I'm also not sure if hacking the door would be a thing on a lot of ships. I mean, you want to be able to get back in your own ship quickly if you're trapped outside it. Is there a rule I missed?

I'm not a person that thinks that no rule=can't happen. But I am someone that thinks that without consistent rules I can't guarantee consistent outcomes. I think it's generally important to be able to do that.


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Metaphysician wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
There are no rules for forceful boarding of a space station. However, there are no rules for peaceful boarding a space station, which means that if you follow the rules to the letter, and are guided by the principle of "if it's not stated in the rules, can't happen", then once players leave Absalom Station they can't go back, ever. Making stations pretty useless and the game a bit dissapointing.

Well, yes.

This is why this proves that "if its not stated in the rules, it can't happen" is absolute nonsense, and anyone who proposes it seriously should be laughed out of the room.

While I agree with the sentiment of what your saying, I think most of us would appreciate SOME guidelines. Not looking for a entire chapter on boarding & docking procedures but something would be nice.


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pithica42 wrote:

The rules I can find for stuff like hardness/hitpoints of ships hulls makes cutting in to a door a process that's going to take a while with anything but 20th level weapons. They have hardness of 35 and 2400hp. The strength break DC is 55, which I don't think is possible for a PC and I'm not even sure is possible for any NPCs.

I haven't seen any rules for hacking the door. I'm pretty sure there is a way you can infer them from the tier of the ship computer, or something. But I'm also not sure if hacking the door would be a thing on a lot of ships. I mean, you want to be able to get back in your own ship quickly if you're trapped outside it. Is there a rule I missed?

I'm not a person that thinks that no rule=can't happen. But I am someone that thinks that without consistent rules I can't guarantee consistent outcomes. I think it's generally important to be able to do that.

And this gets to the first crux of the issue. Player level resources have negligible effects on starships, so what the hell are these NPCs using? Why aren't they using it in combat? Why would they spend so much on that level of limited use tech to waylay the party? With those funds they could have bought off the party!

And why can't the PCs (of comparable level) use the same trick?
So plot overshadows verisimilitude.
I find this disheartening because that means the system didn't allow for this story to occur and the writer lacked the ability to overcome that inherent flaw.

The second crux is that if players could do this trick, it'd become a default tactic for many parties. Space piracy would have such huge payoffs that'd it'd be worth the social risk. I can imagine other scenarios too where it'd just be easier to board.
So game balance overshadows plot.

Or did I miss something here? Was the ship already disabled?
Or what about fleeing? It seems that if the ship can move, boarding would be impossible.
"They're right alongside us and have attached the magnetic clamps!"
"Okay, brake."
"Oh, oh yeah."
(SNAP!)

I think the players should be afraid of any enemies that can break the rules like this!


I can't believe I'm referencing Bodacious Space Pirates twice in the same topic, but that series does integrate "eletronic warfare" in spaceship battles - something to be considered in the inevitable Starfinder Spaceship book.

Either as another action for Science Officers, or, *gasp*, another role in starship combat.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Personally id rule that the ship in quesiton needs to be disabled before it can be boarded so in the case of the Aztlanti boarding party I read that part as if this happens then they board.. otherwise the party gave the Aslanti what for and flew on their merry way. I think the encounter serves the same purpose either way ( to reinforce how oppressive and xenophobic the empire is ). Granted it is a cool scene to have them board and fit it out with the PC's but far to railroady to say yes its goint to happen no matte what. I't been a bit since I ready it and my party isnt there yet. Was it written as a this happens for sure thing?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Vexies wrote:
Metaphysician wrote:
gustavo iglesias wrote:
There are no rules for forceful boarding of a space station. However, there are no rules for peaceful boarding a space station, which means that if you follow the rules to the letter, and are guided by the principle of "if it's not stated in the rules, can't happen", then once players leave Absalom Station they can't go back, ever. Making stations pretty useless and the game a bit dissapointing.

Well, yes.

This is why this proves that "if its not stated in the rules, it can't happen" is absolute nonsense, and anyone who proposes it seriously should be laughed out of the room.

While I agree with the sentiment of what your saying, I think most of us would appreciate SOME guidelines. Not looking for a entire chapter on boarding & docking procedures but something would be nice.

Exactly why I started this thread! :)

Castilliano wrote:

And why can't the PCs (of comparable level) use the same trick?

So plot overshadows verisimilitude.
I find this disheartening because that means the system didn't allow for this story to occur and the writer lacked the ability to overcome that inherent flaw.

Thank You for neatly explaining the core problem.


Vexies wrote:
Personally id rule that the ship in quesiton needs to be disabled before it can be boarded so in the case of the Aztlanti boarding party I read that part as if this happens then they board.. otherwise the party gave the Aslanti what for and flew on their merry way. I think the encounter serves the same purpose either way ( to reinforce how oppressive and xenophobic the empire is ). Granted it is a cool scene to have them board and fit it out with the PC's but far to railroady to say yes its goint to happen no matte what. I't been a bit since I ready it and my party isnt there yet. Was it written as a this happens for sure thing?

Just have an azlanti spy sabotage the players ship before they leave wherever they are, or have him planted inside the ship, spilling coffee all over the engines, tripping up on power lines and such.

The later one makes for an even more interesting encounter, with enemies coming from inside and outside - not to mention, having someone inside to sabotage the hatches works better than the excuse summarized above.


pithica42 wrote:

The rules I can find for stuff like hardness/hitpoints of ships hulls makes cutting in to a door a process that's going to take a while with anything but 20th level weapons. They have hardness of 35 and 2400hp. The strength break DC is 55, which I don't think is possible for a PC and I'm not even sure is possible for any NPCs.

I haven't seen any rules for hacking the door. I'm pretty sure there is a way you can infer them from the tier of the ship computer, or something. But I'm also not sure if hacking the door would be a thing on a lot of ships. I mean, you want to be able to get back in your own ship quickly if you're trapped outside it. Is there a rule I missed?

I'm not a person that thinks that no rule=can't happen. But I am someone that thinks that without consistent rules I can't guarantee consistent outcomes. I think it's generally important to be able to do that.

The doors just have a handle out there. You use it, and that's it. It's used to do space walks and stuff. Don't even need a key. It's a regular door knob.


Starfinder Superscriber

That's kind of how I assumed most exterior ship hatches would look, at least for the ones that spend the majority of their lives in space. I could see putting a keypad or other lock on the door for when you land and don't want just anyone on the docks to be able to walk into your ship willy-nilly.


I suppose a keypad can be a possibility for those ships that can actually land in a planet. For most part, I suppose it works under the same assumption than, say, a submarine. Most the time, when someone is trying to open the hatch from outside, is something like a rescue mission. There's not a lot of fear that enemy scubadivers will swim to the submarine and open it to board it.

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