Wolf's Air Combat

HALT!
UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

Relevant Stats

  • Central Skills:
    • Alertness: Used to determine initiative.
    • Guns: Used in most situations of firing or inflicting damage on another aircraft.
    • Pilot: Used to evade and defend against attacks.
  • Stunts: Alertness and Pilot ones unmodified. Guns stunts handled specifically below.
  • Aircraft Statistics:
    • Maneuverability (MAN): This statistic marks how maneuverable an airplane is and limits how easily it can evade enemy fire and terrain obstacles. A plane cannot generate more Pilot shifts than its Maneuverability stat unless the effect of a stunt or an aspect is in play.
    • Speed (SPD): This statistic marks how fast an aircraft is, and helps determine the results of aerial chases.
    • Armament (ARM): This statistic marks how heavily armed an aircraft is and limits the amount of damage it can generate. A plane cannot normally generate more Guns shifts (damage) than its Armament stat unless the effect of a stunt or an aspect is in play.
    • Stress: This statistic marks how robust an aircraft is and limits how much damage it can take.
    • Air-to-Air/Air-to-Ground (ATA/ATG): Some aircraft are more or less able than others at certain missions. These numbers do not raise Armament limitations; they simply make it more likely that a craft will perform well. These numbers only apply to attack rolls, not to Maneuverability checks.
  • Aircraft Improvements: As per improvement.

Aircraft Listing: A list of approved and ready to use 'stock' aircraft, ranging from biplanes to heavy bombers.

  • Craftsmanship: This improvement provides a +1 bonus to either the Guns or Pilot skill (determined upon taking the improvement) when flying an improved aircraft. However, it does not raise the plane's statistics: it only modifies the character's roll. It simply makes it more likely the plane will perform to its maximum potential.

Encounter Aspects

Every scene has aspects that any player in the scene can invoke or compel for various effects. These can involve dangerous obstacles, weather conditions or anything else that could be of issue. They are not required, but they can be interesting.

Sample Aspects
Bright Sun Darkness Foggy Thunderstorm
Mountain Peaks Tall Buildings Canyon Country High Clouds
Civilian Traffic Strong Winds Lightning Strikes Flak!
Extreme Cold Unexpected Updrafts Rain Thick Forests/Jungles
Snow Blizzard Icebergs Magnetic Anomalies
Extreme Heat Sandstorm

Stunts

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Alertness and Pilot stunts work as usual, but not all Guns stunts work the same way (or at all, if unlisted) when in an airplane:

Fast Reload: Normally, ammo is considered a part of the normal ebb and flow of air combat and doesn’t become an issue until something happens to make it relevant. A lack of ammunition can show up one of two ways. First, “out of ammunition” can often show up as a minor consequence for an armed aircraft. With this stunt, the character may spend a fate point in order to remove this consequence immediately, at the end of any exchange. The character is still considered to have taken a minor consequence for purposes of determining whether his next consequence is moderate – the minor consequence simply won’t be there. Second, “out of ammunition” can show up as a temporary aspect resulting from a maneuver (to try to get someone to use up his shots). Whenever this character is the target of such a maneuver, he may defend at +2.

One Shot Left: That last bullet has a kind of magic to it. A character with this stunt may declare that he is on his last shot, and may make any single Guns attack at +3. This is the character’s last shot – its use means that there’s no more ammo left in the plane's magazine. The only way the character is going to be able to use his Guns skill in the scene is if he takes an action acquiring ammunition, which may not always be possible. Even the Fast Reload stunt cannot be used to remedy this situation; you really are out of ammunition.

Rain of Lead: Your character is skilled at laying down a scathing hail of suppressive fire. When using Guns to perform a block, the character can ignore up to two points of penalties imposed by the GM due to the complexity of the block.

Snap Shot: Once per exchange, between or before other characters’ actions, the character may spend a fate point to preempt the usual turn order and act next. The action taken must involve a roll with his Guns skill – usually an attack. This may be done in addition to the character’s normal action, but each time it’s done in the same scene, the fate point cost increases by one.

Stay on Target: Keeping your target in your sights can be done as a maneuver. You may roll your Guns at +1 against your opponent's Pilot to place an aspect (such as “In My Sights”) on them. If playing The Hard Way, this stunt provides a +1 bonus to the preliminary, opposed Pilot acquisition roll instead.

Trick Shot: Your character gains +2 on the roll for any Guns action that involves shooting an inanimate object. While this cannot be used to actually attack another airplane, it can be very useful for indirect effects.


Resolving Dogfights

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Taking the Initiative

Initiative is determined by adding a player's Alertness skill to their aircraft's Maneuverability statistic. The player with the highest result acts first, and the rest act in descending order. Ties in initiative are decided in favour of characters with higher Resolve. Any remaining ties are settled by opposed Resolve rolls.

Every box of stress a plane suffers lowers its initiative by one. This reflects that damaged planes are less responsive. There's no limit to these penalties.

Engaging the Enemy

An airplane is considered to be locked in combat once it attacks or has been attacked during the current round or the previous one, and remains entangled with its adversaries until the dogfight's over, for better or worse, or it manages to disengage. There are two methods of combat resolution, and their level of detail varies slightly. The GM and the players should agree on the method according to the scene's needs and their personal preferences. Only one form can be chosen per scene, and applies to everyone involved.

The Simple Way: This method is the closest to the standard combat rules. Players piloting fighters may freely attack each other, the shooter rolling Guns against the target's opposing Pilot roll. Aircraft withstand stress and spins are produced as normal, though the shifts generated by either party will generally be limited (see below).

The Hard Way: If this approach is chosen, aviators have to beat their rivals in a Pilot vs. Pilot roll first before being allowed to actually fire at their opponent that turn. This represents the nerve-wracking waltz planes must go through to get on their target's tail or otherwise a good firing position.

  • If the attacker succeeds, they have managed to gain a window of opportunity, and may roll their Guns against the defender's Pilot as usual, in the same turn. In the event of a spin (3+ shifts) in the opposed Pilot roll, the attacked gets a +1 bonus to his immediately subsequent Guns roll against this target. This advantage symbolizes the fact the aggressor has achieved a particularly good position from which to open up on their adversary.
  • If the attacker fails, their turn concludes as the defender has managed to evade them for the time being. The aircraft are still considered entangled, and the aggressor may try again the following round.

Bombers generally don't have the capability to keep up with fighters in a dogfight, so they're forced to engage them with their relatively short-ranged turrets. Therefore, these large airplanes may only attack targets that have been deemed to be close to them (i.e. planes that have attacked them, or have tried to, in The Hard Way's case) during the current turn or the last one, unless said target has broken off. They may strike ground targets normally, however, as they're presumably their primary objectives. If playing The Hard Way, provided the aforementioned condition is met, bombers can attack nearby hostile fighters without the need of a prior Pilot vs. Pilot roll.

Unless under the effect of a particular aspect or stunt, a player cannot score more shifts on a Pilot or Guns roll than their plane's Maneuverability or Armament stat, respectively. For instance: A plane with Fair (+2) Armament cannot score more than 2 shifts on a Guns roll.

Example: (Insert example here)

Dealing Damage

Airplanes take stress just like people do. When a plane takes more stress than it has capacity for, it takes a Consequence. Consequences are persistent aspects that can be invoked by other players or the GM. If a plane takes 3 consequences (first mild, then moderate and finally severe), it's considered shot down (taken out). Concessions can be made beforehand as normal. Nobody wants to lose their treasured legendary aircraft to a meaningless dogfight!

  • The maximum damage a successful attack can inflict is equal to the firer's Armament stat plus the potential effect of aspects and/or stunts.
  • The minimum damage a successful attack can inflict is 1.
  • Every point of stress a plane suffers will lower its initiative by one.

Example: (Insert example here)

Wingmen

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In air combat, minions are called wingmen, and function much like in standard physical conflicts. Their quality (Average, Fair or Good) determines the Guns and Pilot skills of the faceless, expendable aviators. The airplanes they fly are decided on by the GM (or an agreement between them and the owner of the wingmen), establish their stress resistance and restrict their roll results just as if they were main characters.

The Minions stunt works normally. Each instance gets the player three Average wingmen, who come into play at his discretion, and 3 upgrade points. Each point can be used to either boost the quality of three wingmen one level (up to Good) or summon another Average trio.

Just like in ground-based combat, wingmen work in groups as single entities (normally one group per opposing character), and gain bonuses according to the size of said groups. When there are two or three wingmen in a group, the group receives a +1 bonus to act and react. If there are four to six wingmen in a group, the bonus is +2; seven to nine wingmen get a +3 bonus, and any single group with ten or more members gets +4. Note that these bonuses do not allow the group to exceed their planes' stats, and only make it more likely to take full advantage of them. Damage and overflow works just like in standard minion rules, allowing characters to shoot down several wingmen with a single solid roll.

As per standard rules, any group of wingmen may be attached to a player (generally their owner) through a free action and act as a shield against enemy attacks perpetrated against them. In addition, this player also gains the wingmen's group bonus. Again, this bonus may not exceed the player's plane's statistics.

Example: (Insert example here)

  • Command: Characters with a higher Leadership skill than the quality of his wingmen may lead them, if they're in position to, granting them a +1 bonus (cumulative with their group bonus) to their actions and reactions for the duration of the turn. This takes the leader's action, but the wingmen can temporarily act alone to make use of the bonus.

Example: (Insert example here)

Breaking Off

Sometimes it's better to live today and fight tomorrow. To prematurely escape from the entanglement of air combat, players can roll their Pilot against the Pilot of their closest attacker (i.e. the one that attacked them last), modified by -1 per additional aggressor. The Maneuverability stat caps as normal. If the escaping airplane succeeds, it's no longer considered entangled with hostile aircraft, and automatically retreats from the area once the following round concludes. That is, unless its former attackers decide to give chase (see below). If the fleeing player had generated spin, they can apply the +1 bonus to their first Pilot roll of the air pursuit.

Note: While bombers can technically try to disengage, the considerable difference of statistics with fighters might make the decision unadvisable. For the same reason, successfully participating in an aerial chase may prove exceedingly difficult. But ultimately, it's up to the player.

Aerial Chases

Aircraft may attempt to lose their opponents in two occasions: before engaging a previously spotted plane(s) or after breaking off from a dogfight. The situation becomes an aerial chase provided all the following requirements are met:

  • Hostile airplanes decide to pursue the fleeing one immediately after it succeeds in disengaging.
  • The environment has enough obstacles to present a challenging chase scenario (i.e. scene aspects like Tall Buildings and Canyon Country, among others).
  • The difference of Speed between the fastest and slowest participant isn't greater than two levels.

Speed isn't too important in an intricate aerial chase with lots of terrain hazards, as Maneuverability is the stat responsible for helping aircraft evade them. However, in a straight, unobstructed pursuit, the Speed advantage of either party will invariably resolve the conflict in their favour. This means that, under these circumstances, planes will be unable to disengage if their enemies are faster. Conversely, if the fleeing plane is speedier than the opposition, successfully breaking off will effectively take it out of the picture.

A proper aerial chase unfolds as follows:

  • In the beginning of every round, regardless of initiative, the pilot of the lead airplane (the one being pursued) calls out an action and declares the difficulty of their choice before describing the accordingly hazardous, convoluted maneuver they're trying to pull off.
  • The lead aviator then rolls his (MAN-capped) Pilot against the difficulty they just set. If successful, the maneuver is carried out as expected. If not, their plane takes stress according to the resulting negative shifts. This represents it getting nicked (or worse) by the deadly obstacles.
  • Next, and in order, the chasing aircraft similarly roll their Pilot against the same difficulty. If they fail, they take stress in the same fashion. If they succeed, however, not only their plane's undamaged, but they also get to roll their Guns against the result of the lead airplane's initial Pilot roll, treated as a fixed difficulty. Having generated spin in the maneuvering roll grants a +1 bonus to the subsequent attack.
  • Once all pilots have finished their respective turns, the round ends. The chase can only come to a close when either the fleeing aircraft or its pursuers have been taken out of action.

Example: (Insert example here)

Experimental Rules

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Airplane Stats as Bonuses

Instead of acting as strict limiters, aircraft statistics are added to Pilot or Guns rolls accordingly. As opposed to a restriction, planes are but a springboard for the players' skills. This allows them to potentially perform better when there's a marked technological difference between opposing aircraft, while still limiting them to some degree (the more advanced planes will still have better bonuses overall).

Roll results will tend to be much higher than usual on both ends, generally keeping things balanced but also allowing more spectacular successes and failures, given the occasionally great disparity between figures.

Theoretically, this modification boosts the lethality (and therefore brevity) of air combat, though not as much as Fast n' Furious Combat (see below).

Fast n' Furious Combat

Stress management is altered so that all planes take damage just like wingmen. The difference is that those flown by players have their stress boxes doubled so to make them more resilient. Consequences are still in use as per standard rules, preventing the instant elimination of players due to particularly lethal rolls. This modification, also theoretically, makes combat shorter and deadlier instead of a potentially crawling slug-fest when multiple skilled opposing players are involved.

Combine this with Airplane Stats as Bonuses at your own risk.


Advanced Rules

Alternative Initiative

Still Alertness plus the plane's Maneuverability, but the twist is that those with higher results can choose to place their turn before or after those below them, instead of just going first. Initiative is decided in the following order: second-lowest result, higher results in order, highest result. The turn order is then carried out as agreed.

Example:

  • Franz gets 6
  • John gets 5
  • Carlo gets 4
  • Pierre gets 2

Pierre's turn is at the whim of his opponents. Then Carlo can decide whether to take his turn before or after Pierre. John can squeeze in his turn around those of Carlo and Pierre. And finally, Franz can take his turn whenever he wants.

Predator and Prey

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