Wednesday, April 3, 2013

[Expanding the Game] FTL #1: Characters

FTL: Faster than Light is a space exploration and combat game of the roguelike persuasion for PCs by Subset Games. It is a personal favorite of mine; I was actually a beta level backer during their Kickstarter, and it was the first KS I ever contributed to.

FTL puts players in control of a lone vessel, fleeing the oncoming rebel fleet as it makes haste to prepare itself for a coming battle and notify its superiors of the impending threat. It also happens to make a riproaring concept for a Hulks and Horrors game.

And so, in the first of a new blog series at BWP, I'll be presenting a series of posts detailing some house rules for running FTL on the tabletop. Each week I'll release a new chunk covering the salient details needed to modify H&H to fit FTL, and thus also in the process provide new systems and add-ons that you can even use in your regular H&H games. Once the series is completed, the posts will be compiled into a PDF and posted in the Downloads section. We'll begin with some important character rules.

Combat Pilots

The Pilot class in H&H includes a pretty important key ability that defines its skill at piloting, Daredevil, which allows him to optionally take the better of two die rolls at the risk of automatically failing future rolls should the stunt fail to pay off.

Normally, this feature only applies to non-combat rolls, intended to cover stunts during chases or when flying in tricky situations, rather than combat maneuvers. However, FTL is a game where ship-to-ship combat is featured far more prominently than in the dungeon hunting of vanilla FTL.

As a result, a variant of the standard class is recommended for those groups wishing to give the PC party an edge over the rebel threat, the Combat Pilot. Combat pilots follow the same rules as the standard class, with the exception that Daredevil is replaced with Combat Ace, which is described as follows.

Combat Ace: The combat pilot is an expert at dodging and maneuvering a ship through heavy enemy fire, able to thread his vessel through the fray with precision unrivaled. When called upon to make any piloting roll in combat, the combat pilot may choose to roll 2D20, and keep the highest result. If he succeeds, the maneuver is successful as usual but the ship gains a further -1AC until the next round. If he fails, however, he has lost control of the ship, and no maneuvering rolls can be attempted until control is regained, leaving the ship at +2AC until a DEX check is passed (combat ace cannot be used on this check.)


FTL contains a wider variety of alien species than core H&H does, but those species have less overall variation in ability than that of the species in H&H. As such, rather than defining unique classes for each, it is preferable instead to move away from the race-as-class approach, and instead borrow the racial conceit used in the advanced fantasy rules. When creating an FTL character, one may choose from Pilot (or Combat Pilot), Scientist, Soldier, or the new Engineer class in the following section, and instead selects a particular species from the list below and applies any relevant bonuses and abilities to the character. 

Human: Humans are the most adaptable race in the galaxy, and the baseline against which all other races are judged. They receive no special bonuses at level 1, but they learn more quickly, gaining stat points every 2 levels instead of every 3rd, and requiring 1,000 XP fewer to level.

Engi: Engi are cybernetic humanoids with an expert focus on engineering skill, but lesser physical strength in combat. Their STR is at -2, but they have +2 INT when making any type of repair roll, and they require 1,000 XP fewer to level when playing as an Engineer.

Mantis: Mantises are a dangerous species of insectoid creatures with a vicious skill in melee combat. They gain +2 to STR and deal 1d8 damage unarmed in combat, but they are at -2 to INT in any repair roll and require 1,000 more XP per level to advance as an Engineer or Scientist.

Rockman: Massive aliens of living rock, Rockmen are resilient, but slow to move. They gain +2 CON, but are at -2 DEX, and they are completely immune to fire. 

Zoltan: These strange green humanoids are living batteries, able to channel their innate energy stores to boost the power of the system they are presently operating. Zoltan may add +2 to the damage, or +1 to the skill rolls needed to operate any system they are working on at the moment, however they are at -2 CON. Zoltan make excellent scientists, and require 1,000 XP fewer to level as a Scientist, and may apply their power bonus to Science! abilities.

Slug: Just as they sound, this is a species of enormous slug with natural telepathic abilities. The Slugs' innate telepathic senses give them a +2 WIS and allow them to detect lifeforms within a 30m radius, even through walls, and they may optionally be allowed to take the Psyker class at the DM's discretion.

Crystals: Ancient ancestors to the Rockmen, Crystals are a very rare species if durable crystalline structure. They gain +2 CON, -2 DEX, and they can avoid suffocation for twice as long. They can also extrude crystals around a room, blocking access to the room by anyone outside of it without making a STR check to overcome it.

The Engineer

Part technical wizard and part handyman, engineers are masters of maintenance, experts at engines, and triumphant troubleshooters. Absolutely indispensable to keeping a good ship running, and always handy planet-side when it comes time to quickly repairing broken equipment, puzzling out some piece of alien tech, or just keeping everyone's guns and other implements of destruction fully functioning at their peak efficiency. A good engineer should have a high INT, the better to perform his repairs, and usually possesses a pretty high DEX as well, and often decent STR, both handy attributes to have on the job, as both dexterity and even raw strength come in handy in the line of work for a ship's engineer.


Chief Engineer

Hit Die: d8
Saving Throws: +1 to DEX
Stat Requirement: INT 7+
Weapons: Pistol, Shotgun, Rifle, Dagger
Armor: Light, Medium
Favored Environment: Oxygen, Zero-to-Medium Gravity

Special Abilities
Gimme More Power: The engineer's role on the ship is to keep it working, and also to regulate the flow of power to vital systems. While the engines, provided they're functioning at full capacity, will generally give enough juice to keep things running unless they've been damaged, sometimes a little extra juice can charge a system enough to give it an edge in a fight. Each round of ship combat, the engineer can declare he's transferring power to one and only one of the ship's systems, with varying results depending on the system (listed below). He makes an INT check, and on a success, the system gains the described bonus, but on a roll of 20, the system is overloaded, and takes the opposite effect until emergency repairs can be applied to the affected system. He may attempt to further boost a powered up system a second time and double the bonus, however this time the system will overload on a simple failure, and the penalty for failure is similarly doubled. Only one system can be boosted on any given round, and boosting another system cancels the effect of the previous boost.

Power may also be transferred to overcome damage to certain systems, temporarily, but at greater risk of overload and further damage. A damaged system can be restored to normal function for as long as the boost remains in place, but overloads on a simple failure of the INT check needed to transfer the power, and becomes disabled instead.

The effect of boosting the individual systems is listed below:

  • Weapons: Power is channeled to the weapons systems, boosting damage of beam weapons or mass drivers by +2. Missile damage cannot be boosted, but a double boost can be used to force a faster reload, allowing an additional missile to be fired every other turn for as long as the boost holds.
  • Main Engines: Reserves are pushed into the engine for an extra boost of speed, giving a +2 to DEX checks to Approach, Withdraw, or Flee, or +2 hexes/inches of movement if using miniatures.
  • Thrusters: The maneuver thrusters are supercharged, making the ship more deft. -1 to AC, and +1 to DEX checks for Defensive Maneuvers
  • Sensors: The engineer boosts the clock on the CPU that handles target processing, giving a +2 bonus to WIS for the purposes of sensor lock.
  • Shields: The engineer jams power into the shield emitters, giving -1 to AC, and boosting shield recharge by +2 Kills per round while the boost is active.
  • Engineering: Power is diverted to the repair subsystems themselves, giving the engineer and his crew extra help in holding the ship together. +2 to INT checks for emergency repairs.
Jury-Rig: Sometimes you just don't have time to give something a proper repair, but you need it to work right this damn minute. That's when a good engineer shines, knowing how to bench-thump a machine into working for now, at the cost of more careful repairs later. By making a successful INT check, he can make any damaged or even broken machine or system work for the next 1d6 rounds per level, at the cost of an extra 10 minutes per round rolled of repair time needed later. This jury-rigging can be continued, however there is a cumulative -1 INT penalty to the check for every attempt beyond the first, and on a failure the device is permanently broken and will not be repairable in the field at all. 

What's This Button Do: Engineers are whizzes at reverse-engineering technology. Give any engineer enough time and he'll figure out what a machine does, though if he's not careful he might hurt himself in the process. An engineer may guarantee success on an identification roll by spending 1d6 minutes per -1 penalty to the INT check. He makes a standard INT check instead, and on a failure, the device is damaged and must be repaired (but its function is still known), and on a 20, he injures himself in the process of testing it, taking 1d6 damage (or weapon damage in the case of a weapon).

Weaponsmith: The engineer's talent for tinkering extends to his gift for weapon maintenance. He gains a +1 to INT when repairing any weapon, and for a cost of 100 credits per die of damage dealt by a weapon, he can improve the weapon by +1 damage or +1 ammo capacity permanently. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm going to enjoy any expansion that you write for H&H. I don't play computer games, but I still like the direction this is going. It would be fun to have the idea of a few playsets for different sci fi settings, with races to fit, while keeping the basic classes and even adding new classes for really weird aliens, while the simpler rubber suits get a species and class.