Quick & Dirty – Cinematic Warfare

Art used with permission from Einon-Y. http://einon-y.deviantart.com/

Art used with permission from Einon-Y.
http://einon-y.deviantart.com/

Warfare is nearly a constant in the Star Wars Universe.  Eventually your players are going to get embroiled in some sort of skirmish, battle, or prolonged military exercise between two factions determined to blow the other side into tiny asteroids.  While this may be part of a larger Rebel Alliance versus Imperial Military chronicle, in the Edge of the Empire game the group may very well simply be trying to make a credit or two on the side.  If you need to know how a certain conflict is proceeding, and how it may affect the player group, continue reading to find out Quick & Dirty!

This article differs from many of the Quick & Dirty series in that it provides a Quick & Dirty sub-system for the Fantasy Flight Edge of the Empire Star Wars RPG instead of the normal single Quick & Dirty dice roll.  This sub-system is intended to scale to whatever size or form of warfare is required: from squad battles to intergalactic conflict.  This article is not intended to be a detailed war game or miniature combat for Edge of the Empire.  It is intended as a game aid to keep the battles that surround your players cinematic and fun!

Determine the Scope of the Conflict

All battles and wars have a scope that will help the Game Master determine the numbers of troops on both sides, the expected time to conclude hostilities, and the composition of the soldiers or war machines involved.  This is a very important step, as these questions will be used to build the dice pool used for the rest of the battle.  This is likely to be self evident based upon the story that you are telling.  If you are unsure as to the extent of the battle, feel free to default to an average level.

The first aspect of the scope of the conflict is the size of the two opposing forces.  These forces are usually relatively balanced based upon the numbers that can fight within the locale and terrain.  If the combatants are not relatively equal in size, then note the size of both groups separately.  All of the listed force group titles came from the Imperial Army & Navy.  Smaller battles may also wish to default to an average level for army squads and starfighter squadrons.

◊                       Small                             Company                           Line of Battle     
◊◊                    Average                         Battalion                            Squadron (not fighters)     
◊◊◊                  Large                             Regiment                           System Force       
◊◊◊◊                Huge                             Battle Group                     Sector Fleet      
◊◊◊◊◊             Massive                         Corp                                    Sector Group      
 

The number of dice used is also called the Size of the faction.  This number will be important later as it determines the Casualty Threshold.  The Casualty Threshold is the total number of losses the army can sustain before it drops to the next lower Size rating.  The Casualty Threshold is equal to the faction’s Size rating multiplied by three.

The second aspect of a battle’s scope is the expected time frame of the conflict.  While some battles may be over in a few hours, many can last for days, weeks, months, or even years.  Consider how long you desire the conflict to rage and determine the frequency of the dice rolls.  All of the previously mentioned time scales are intended for time passed in-game.  Allow the players to continue their story as normal, only pausing to roll as appropriate for each interval.

The third and final scope of the conflict is the composition of the soldiers and mechanized vehicles used.  Are both sides evenly matched?  Is one faction using rocks and spears while the other is fielding blasters and laminate armor?  Does one side use fast moving attack vehicles while the other is completely an infantry based army?  These answers will be important later in creating the dice pool, but will not single-handily determine the fate of the battle.

Assembling the Dice Pool

The die roll used for this series of checks will be an Opposed die roll as explained on Page 24 of the Star Wars Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook.  Unlike most Opposed checks, this will not use a Skill or a Characteristic to determine the dice pool.  Instead, use the previously determined size of the factions to determine the number of Skill dice the players should receive.  If the players do not favor either side, simply assign on of the factions to roll and apply their size as Skill dice.  Add a number of Difficulty dice equal to the size of the opposing faction.  This will form the core of the dice pool.

Boost dice should be added to the dice pool for small benefits such as slightly better equipment, slightly better training, and favorable environmental conditions.  They may also be added later for Triumphs to reflect the tide of war changing towards the faction’s favor.  Short term positive events like sudden reinforcements or a favorable ion-storm may be reflected with boost dice.

Setback dice should be added to the dice pool for small problems, concerns, and setbacks during the conflict.  If the opposing faction has slightly better equipment, better training, or favorable conditions then the Game Master should instead apply Setback dice to the dice pool.  Despair may also add setback dice during the conflict to represent casualties.

Proficiency dice should be used for significant improvements between opposing forces.  Upgrade a Skill die to a Proficiency die whenever there is a sizable and recognizable difference in force composition.  Perhaps the opposing faction is heavily outnumbered, heavily outgunned, or heavily outclassed.  Perhaps the player’s faction is heavily defended and under siege in a town or outpost.  Perhaps one of the leaders is a famous or legendary hero known for his strategy.  Perhaps this faction has air support while their opponents are simply land bound.  Each of these factors would be a potential for upgrading a single Skill die to a Proficiency die.

Challenge dice should be used in the same way as Proficiency dice, but they should be applied when the opposing force has some sort of significant advantage.  Every significant drawback for the rolling faction should be reflected in a Difficulty die upgraded into a Challenge die.  No element should provide both an upgraded Challenge and Proficiency die.  In these cases simply cancel out both upgrades as the factions are obviously well balanced in that regard.

Adjudicating the Dice Rolls

Once the scope of the conflict is determined, and the dice pool is assembled, the conflict can begin in earnest.  The first roll  should always be the intial skirmishes as both factions try the mettle of the other.  After that, wait until the appropriate amount of in-game time has passed and then roll for the next time period.

Events and results that are determined by these rolls should occur before the next dice roll.  Allow the players to interact with the conflict as it develops and even alter the next dice roll with their actions: both positively and negatively.  Remember, the game is all about them!

Successes and Failures represent the ebb and flow of warfare.  Too many of either will end the conflict and determine the winner.  Keep track of the total accumulated successes every dice roll until the end of the conflict.

Advantages should be used to bring benefical events into the conflict.  These events may be used to apply temporary Boost dice to the conflict dice pool on the next roll.  Assuming that the player characters have sided with the rolling faction, they may be able to enjoy the benefits during the intervening game play.  Advantages may also be used to refresh Strain as the battle has given them some respite.

Every set of three Advantages should be used as a Victory.  A Victory will inflict one Casualty to the opposing faction.  In addition, the players may choose to add a Boost die or remove a Setback die from the pool.  This modification to the dice pool will remain for the rest of the conflict, unless modified by a later Defeat.

Threats can bring additional threats, dangers, and complications into the battle.  Game Masters are suggested to use them to hamper the efforts of the player characters and the faction that accumulates them.  They may apply Setback dice to the next conflict roll, or they may be used for any appropriate player roll in the intervening period.

Every set of three Threats should be used as a Defeat.  A Defeat will inflict one Casualty to the active faction.  In addition, the Game Master may choose to either add a Setback die or remove a Boost die from the dice pool.  This modification to the conflict dice pool will remain for the rest of the conflict, unless modified by a later Victory.

Triumphs and Despair should always be used to trigger a Victory or a Defeat as applicable.  This keeps the battle rolling and avoids an instant end to the conflict.  If the Game Master desires, they could set a certain number of Triumph/Despair in one round as a victory condition.

Determining the Outcome

The conflict will end when the rolling faction accumulates either 10 accumulated net successes, 10 accumulated net failures, or one of the factions loses enough Casualty Threshold to drop two sizes.  The Game Master may also predetermine a secret goal for either side that will denote victory or loss, as well as have events occur at a specific number of dice rolls.

Keep in mind that not every battle needs to be a slug-fest, so be creative with your victory conditions.  Player assistance in the conflict will make it seem much more exciting and personal if their activities trigger a victory condition.  Use the movies as inspiration, and don’t hesitate to steal from various movies set in the two World Wars.  Just keep in mind, whenever you run into a situation that needs creativity to keep it Quick & Dirty!

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2 Responses to Quick & Dirty – Cinematic Warfare

  1. jkubli says:

    Very nice! Have you considered adding a Strain Threshold, to act as a morale mechanic?

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