A is for Astrogation

tumblr_ll91dcpD8e1qdbyqso1_500The top letter in the Edge of the Empire Alphabet is the headliner in describing the mechanics and method to playing a Star Wars sandbox-style campaign that are part of the core experience of playing in that style.

Using the Astrogation skill in new ways is central to this type of gameplay; as are the Knowledge (core worlds, outer rim, underworld) skills, which will be expounded upon in a later post, K is for Knowledge. These additional rules aim to provide an impetus to the Crew to explore the galaxy, finding new hyperspace routes, and stirring up local trouble in backwater star system; all while under the constant pressure to earn more credits, finance their travels, pay off their debts, and upgrade their sweet new starship.

Galactic Map

At the start of the campaign, print out or draw a large (28 in. x 28 in.) sheet of paper or posterboard representing the Star Wars galaxy, referred to as the Galactic Map. A circular area 6″ in diameter at the center of the galaxy represents the core worlds, and the surrounding area represents the outer rim. Draw a thick boundary on the paper to represent this galactic core. Throughout the course of the campaign, the players will discover new worlds, plot out hyperspace routes, and unravel the mysteries of their Destinies; all by drawing directly on this Galactic Map. Draw an axis of 3 to 30 on each edge of the Galactic Map. When new star systems are found, they are placed on the map randomly by rolling two sets of 3d10 and using those results as the star system’s galactic coordinates.

Each player character introduced into the campaign may pick one star system to have a deep connection with. Often this will be the star system of that character’s birth, but need not always be. The player may place that star system anywhere on the galactic map.

Each day of hyperspace travel is represented by 1 inch of physical distance between two star systems on the 28″x28″ paper Galactic Map. Finding new star systems will be covered later in K is for Knowledge.

Upon entering a star system, roll a Force Die. A result if oo indicates a random E is for rogue Event.

Each day of hyperspace travel takes up 1 day of in-game time and 100 credits in supplies and fuel per Hyperdrive Class of the starship. The minimum travel time between two systems is 1 day (100 credits in supplies and fuel).

Astrogation

When making a jump through hyperspace, a starship’s pilot or astrogator must make an Easy (d) Difficulty Astrogation check with the following modifiers.

Quick calculations or entry into hyperspace under duress. Upgrade Difficulty

Damaged or missing astromech droid or navicomputer. +ddd

Ship heavily damaged. +dd

Ship lightly damaged. +d

Outdated, corrupt, or counterfeit navigation charts or data. +d

Success: The ship travels through hyperspace to its intended destination, using the calculated in-game time and resources.

Failure: A technical goof wastes 1 day and 100 credits worth of supplies and fuel. Make a new Astrogation check.

Advantage: The journey doesn’t take as long as expected, using 10% less time and resources per Advantage.

Threat: The journey takes longer than expected, using 10% more time and resources per Threat.

Triumph: The journey takes only half as long as expected. In addition, the starship emerges from hyperspace in a hidden location, such as within the shadow of an overlooked moon.

Despair: Critical hyperdrive malfunction. The crew may fly at sublight speeds to a shipyard in the system and pay 500 credits for repairs, or spend 1 day and 50 credits in supplies adrift in space and attempt to repair the hyperdrive themselves with a successful Hard (ddd) Mechanics check.

About C. Steven Ross

C. Steven Ross is the founder of Triumph & Despair. View all posts by C. Steven Ross

8 responses to “A is for Astrogation

  • Darian Ocana

    Great Idea! I really like this. One question – You speak of 100cr of supplies and fuel… What are your thoughts on fuel limitations for starships? I have been thinking about using silhouette as a base. Any ideas?

    • C. Steven Ross

      I see starship fuel in the same way as blaster ammo: no need to track unless you get hit by some really awful Threat or Despair. From a practical standpoint, any real limitation put on the fuel capacity of a light freighter (and we really only care about the light freighters) just forces the Crew to go through more mundane bookkeeping.

      Though, depending on campaign, this could end up being a fun option to play with if the scenario involved a resource harvesting type game like in Star Control (if you’re familiar). There, I might decree that starship can travel a number of inches on the galaxy map equal to twice their Silhouette on a full tank of fuel. I’d also add in a vehicle customization to be able to increase that a few additional inches.

      Speaking of mundane bookkeeping: I’ve included the mundane 100 credits per day costs of running the ship in this post to cater to the sandbox style. Firstly, the added cost of doing business and just staying around always puts pressure on the Crew to earn more profit. Secondly, it puts some of the randomly located star systems at the other end of the galaxy as too costly to visit right away, this adding an element of foreshadowing and anticipation as the Crew work their way through the galaxy and explore worlds that they’ve gotten the hyperspace route to long ago.

  • mdl780

    Despite having the Star Wars Essential Atlas, I think this is a really good idea. Most people really don’t know where planet x is in relation to planet y anyways and it allows the players to feel like they are contributing to the creation of the galaxy.

    I do have a few questions though:

    1. My thoughts were to use this process with known planets the Crew ventures to as well. With obvious movie cannon being held (Hoth is not a core planet, etc.). But without the need to purchase a star map. If the planet is common, it doesn’t make sense to me that they need to purchase a star map to find it. Pick a player to roll its location. Go. Current astrogation co-ordinates however, should still be required to make a safe jump to those known planets. What are your thoughts on this?

    2. In my head I imagine a map similar to the one used in Mass Effect. A number of solar systems and within those systems groupings of planets. However, multiple maps could become complicated and a 28″x28″ map should be large enough to allow natural solar systems to develop over time. Or just assume that these are the planets worth going to. I could be trying to make things more complicated than they need to be however.

    Have you done any mock versions of your galactic map idea? Or will your pbp group be the first to try the model out?

    3. Do you feel that this might become old if you and your players begin a new game. They spent all that time charting the galaxy, and now they need to do the same, even though the planets should still be where they were in the last campaign?

    4. Random events occur on the double white force die. I like those odds! I suppose this isn’t a question so much as approval.

    5. On the subject of random encounters. I like them.

    6. I also like the simple housekeeping rules. It doesn’t result in too much book keeping, but does put pressure on the crew.

    Thanks for all of your hard work!

    • C. Steven Ross

      Hey hey!

      Glad to hear you enjoy this so much. I hope it goes towards helping you make a better game for your Crew!

      1). This is a subject I wrestled with back and forth for awhile as to how I wanted to present it. I understand what you’re saying from a simulationist standpoint, but I feel like this way is going to end up much more fun. I’ve sort of done similar with a cobbled together game I ran using the mechanics of Battlestations.info and based on the story and gameplay of Star-Control 2. Anyway, I rationalize this method in the Star Wars universe and Astrogating efficient or hidden hyperspace lanes. The Crew can get to any planet, really, but to do so would be either too costly or too dangerous to be worth discussing.

      2). Same as above, in the SC2 game we had a map about that size, though with slightly different mechanics for travelling the stars and WAYYY different means of acquiring more fuel and money, and it worked out great. The PbP group will be the first to experience this version of the idea, though.

      3). Maybe? But with 2000+ names of stars, we can at least be able to count on designing a galaxy with new names every time. Plus, the real focus of the campaign will be on developing the Crews’ story arcs, as in D is for Destiny. The exploration part is almost a mini-game to the main RPG.

      4-6). Yes, thanks!

  • mdl780

    I just took a look at your other map. It was a very interesting concept (that looked pretty enjoyable). It has a hex crawl feel to it, which I am all over. Also…that Kraken illustration is epic.

    Of course then I started reading up on that blog, which then led me to g+, man….there went my afternoon. Good thing I already made supper and got some painting in.

  • 9littlebees

    Sorry to comment on this old post, but I’m just starting a new Edge of the Empire game and I absolutely love this idea. Being in Europe, I could only find 56cm / 22in paper, but this makes a perfect 3-30 grid using 2cm squares – I even took a photo!

    http://goo.gl/hAKWGA

    Anyway, curious as to how you handle rolls in one of the ~32 Core grid squares? Reroll or map out a “Core” system?

    • C. Steven Ross

      I certainly don’t mind you commenting on an older post. I’m just glad you found it in the backlog!

      Your galaxy map looks like it’s off to a great start! I can’t wait to see how your Crew fills it up with newly found star systems.

      The central core needs no special attention. The probabilities behind the dice math make the core the most densely populated area, which is what you might expect, and the size of the map is such that you would have to play for years and years before the core got too crowded to draw on.

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