Fate Space Toolkit
This section provides a number of options for handling play when the shooting starts. To begin, we will look at a standard approach to space combat.
If all the PCs are crew and passengers aboard the same ship, space combat needn’t be too different from any other Fate conflict. The presence of an enemy ship, squadron, or flotilla can add urgency to PC efforts to complete their own repairs, conclude negotiations, or perform some other vital task. Ideally, while some crew members are taking action to deal with enemy forces, others will be performing other important actions—even if only trying to hold it together in the face of the prospect of imminent death by vacuum exposure (that is, defending with Will to avoid taking mental stress).
The crew of the freelance exploration vessel Ganymede with a Laser Beam is returning from a rescue mission in deep space, headed for the wormhole station that connects to Earth, in orbit around planet Terranova. The crew consists of three characters: the ship’s pilot, its gunner, and its engineer.
The GM draws a zone map with Terranova, its orbital space and the portal within it, a zone of space near the planet, and a deep space zone. She places a marker for the Ganymede in the deep space zone.
The GM tells the players that they have detected a burst of gravity waves from the direction of Terranova, consistent with wormhole egress, and she places a marker for the bogey in the Terranova orbit zone. She knows that this is a mercenary corvette hired by a foreign government that wants the scientist’s secrets for itself, crewed by a steely nerved captain, a jaunty pilot, a pair of crack gunners, and a team of space marines.
The corvette is equipped with high-speed atomic missiles that can attack targets in the same or an adjacent zone with Gunnery versus Pilot, and gets +2 to attack targets in the same zone. It also has close-range plasma guns for point defense—they can only attack targets that have an aspect indicating their very close range to the corvette—that attack with Gunnery versus Engineering, reflecting that the target is defending with its structural resilience. The Ganymede, in contrast, only has a repurposed mining laser, capable of attacking targets in the same zone, using Gunnery versus Pilot.
The Ganymede is trying to make its way toward the portal and return to Earth with their rescued scientist, who apparently knows the location of an alien wormhole station! The bogey’s intentions are unknown. The GM tells the players to roll Spacehand to determine turn order.
The crew of the Ganymede decides to zoom straight for the portal. The GM tells the pilot that she needs a Great (+4) result with Pilot to cross the zones between deep space and the portal, and then another Great (+4) result to avoid plowing into the portal at high speed while decelerating for portal insertion, which will require a Fair (+2) result with Pilot. At that point, they will have escaped. During their turns, the other PCs aboard the ship could take action to scan, target, or analyze the corvette; shoot at the enemy; or do whatever else seems appropriate. However, the crew of the corvette will try to intercept the Ganymede, its gunners firing their missiles as the pilot pours on the speed to close to plasma-gun range. The captain has orders to disable the PCs’ ship, send the space marines to board it, and capture the scientist. Each ship has zero or more stress boxes and a set of consequences. When a ship is taken out, the opponent gets to say what happens to it.