Spacefighting is what High-Space is all about! From crowded, bustling systems with plenty of objects and planets to exploit for tactical maneuvers, to games of cat-and-mouse with sensors, running silent, and cloaking in the depths of space! High-Space is set in a technologically advanced age, but that has simply expanded the arena for conflict, and not mitigated it. We recommend using a map of each encounter locations, as well as the ‘Tactical Sphere’ which is a way of tracking every starship and planet in the combat relative to the heroes, making Spacefighting a hero-centric activity and keeping the spotlight firmly where it should be.
To keep things fast and furious, we use cinematic distances for combat, instead of real distances.
Just like character based combat, Spacefighting combat rounds consist of the following elements:
In fact, Spacefighting combat rounds occur in the same time as character based actions, and use the same Initiative tracker!
Initiative occurs exactly as per the Core Rules, except that each starship is also dealt a single card from the initiative deck.
Using a starship system is a single action, both for characters and for starships. Each system can be used once per round.
As per the Savage Worlds rules, the players will control all starships allied with their characters, not the GM. The Countdown, Surprise, Holding, and Standoffs are all treated as if they were character actions according to the Savage Worlds rules.
Multiple Action penalties for Starships
Starship computers differ from characters in that they do not incur any multi-action penalty, no matter how many systems they use in a round.
Spaceship combat takes place across great distances, but also at unimaginable
speeds, and in an almost infinite configuration across three-dimensions.
The Drive score of a starship determines how far it can move each round, as shown on the Cinematic Movement and Distance table. Distance and Movement use exactly the same scale, and Movement can be equally described as Distance travelled in a round.
Cinematic Movement and Distance
Drive Cinematic movement/distance
n/a Passive Sensor Range (PSR)
In High-Space the system maps are scaled to ensure that ALL of the typical planets of a typical system (and certainly all golden planets and all gas giants) are relatively easily traversed by both slow and fast starships during encounter scenes, and that the relative distances (Close, Short, Medium, etc.) can be tracked easily.
Because a planet or starship within a system can be approached from 360 degrees in all directions, 2-dimensional maps do not make sense.
The relative distance between a moving object (usually the heroes starship) and all other objects is tracked individually for each significant object.
The hero’s starship can adjust the distance between itself and one other object equal to the Cinematic distance that its Drive can cover. As a simple example, a starship has a Drive of d6, and is at Long range from planet Alpha. It can reduce the distance to planet Alpha by two relative values, from Long, to Medium, to Short. Alternatively it can increase the distance by 2 relative values, from Long, to Passive Sensor Range, to Disengaged.
In the case of relative distances to multiple objects the starship can increase or decrease this by the same relative distance that its Drive affords, less one relative value for each extra object move towards/away from. For example, a starship has a Drive of d6, and is at Long range from planet Alpha, and Medium range from planet Beta. It can reduce the distance to both planet Alpha and planet Beta by one (2-1=1) relative distance, to Medium and Short respectively. Alternatively it can increase the relative distance to Extreme and Long respectively. Note that the starship could have elected to move towards/away from only Alpha or Beta using full movement, because it could approach from a 3-dimensional direction that effectively allows this to happen.
There is only one restriction: the relative distance towards/away from any objects that are in Close range to each other must change equally.
Faster Than Light
When engaged in FTL combat, starships move the Cinematic distance as determined by their Drive. FTL flight is not possible when navigating any distance which is smaller than 150km. Starship computers cannot compute FTL paths with such minute margins of error, and the starships themselves cannot handle the stresses of maneuvering in such relatively tight confines.
Related to this, the gravitational distortion caused by either another operational FTL Core, or anything as large (or larger) than a small asteroid will cause FTL Cores to destabilize and automatically turn off when within 150km. The quantum disturbance these objects create destabilizes FTL Cores, forcing starships to drop out of FTL.
Starships leave FTL flight with the same normal-space velocity with which they entered FTL – momentum is conserved indefinitely while a starship is in FTL. This is a side-effect of the phenomenon that FTL flight is inertia-less, and starships and their occupants are unaffected by Newtonian laws concerning the conservation of momentum.
Normal-space travel is mainly used for docking with other starships and with space stations, making planetfall, and navigating hazardous areas.
Travel through normal-space is determined by the Pace of a starship, and often limited by the Vigor of the crew and passengers. For each point of Pace a starship can travel 1km per round. For example, a large luxury cruise liner with Maneuver d4 and Quality d6 has a Pace of 10, and can travel 10km per round.
Normal-space travel is, unlike FTL flight, subject to the laws of inertia and momentum. So long as the active Pace of a starship is less than or equal to 2 x the Vigor die-type of the occupant, then that occupant remains safe from harm. For each point of Pace higher than 2 x the Vigor die-type of the occupant, the occupant suffers 1 point of damage each round that the starship uses its Maneuvering system. For example, if the liner described above were to maneuver at its full Pace, all the passengers with d4 Vigor (including those in Cryo-sleep) would take 2 damage each, incapacitating them. If the starship were to maneuver much faster it would actually kill them! The Failsafe and Security Suite Edges are both designed to prevent both incapacitating and lethal injuries to the crew, and would first need to be overcome before the starship would maneuver at such speeds. A starship may be outfitted with Shockpods and Gill Fluid to increase the amount of Pace that the occupants can withstand while maneuvering.
Starship and individual character actions all occur at timings based on the standard Initiative draw. The potential for action and drama here is limited only by your imagination. You could have boarding parties fighting their way towards the ship’s bridge, while the starship’s crew are busy trying to blow another starship out of space! An attacking starship could be bearing down on the heroes while one of them is in the engine room desperately trying to take down the spy who is sabotaging the engines! Social interaction is likewise unlimited, and crews are free to engage in hurling abuse at other starships, whether pleading for mercy, or changing the conditions of surrender as a combat progresses!
Any time a starship acts on its Initiative the starship’s computer can take an action using any number of the starship’s systems, without a multi-action penalty. When a starship system is used this way we refer to it as an ‘Automatic’.
Player characters and NPCs act within the same window of Initiative as starship computers.
As well as a starship computer using a system in ‘Automatic’ mode, a crew member can also use the starship systems, and when they do so this is called an ‘Override’.
Starships created by sentient species are designed so that the crew members can always ‘Override’ the starship computer’s use of any system. Subsequently a crew member can prevent the starship’s computer from using a system on its Initiative, leaving that system(s) available for either themselves or some other crew member to use as their Initiative allows.
This does not change the rule that any system can only be used once in a round.
If characters acting on the same Initiative (even if one or both of them have a Held action) compete for control of an Override, they roll against each other using the requisite Skill and the highest roll wins and controls the system to do as they want. For example, Executive Officer Brey of the Pan-Dominion Armada is trying to activate the starship’s distress beacon, but a saboteur on board the starship is trying to stop her. They both have access to a relevant control panel and there are no security countermeasures in place. In this example, the saboteur has been holding their action in anticipation of having to stop Brey. Brey has Spacewise of d8 (this is a Communications system, so we use Spacewise) and she rolls a 7 only (she is not a Wildcard.) The saboteur has Spacewise of d4 and rolls a 4, which explodes with a 1, for a total of 5. Brey wins with her result of 7 which is a success but not a raise. The distress beacon activates!
Everything that a starship can do is described as a ‘system’.
When used as an Automatic the die-type rolled for the starship’s computer to use the system is equal to its relevant Attribute die-type, for that system. For example, a starship with a Maneuver die-type of d6, will roll a d6 when using the Maneuvering system.
When a crew member uses a system as an Override, instead they use the appropriate Skill, and a skilled operator can often finesse a system to a higher degree of success than the starship computer could manage.
Systems Table of Automatics and Overrides
System* Starship Attribute (Automatics) Crew Skill (Overrides)
Passive Sensors Quality Notice
Active Sensors Quality Investigation
Cloaking Device Quality Security
Direct fire Maneuver Shooting
Firing Solutions Computer Programming
Indirect fire Computer Notice
Point Defence Computer Shooting
Shields Quality Repair
FTL Computational Array Computer Piloting
Maneuvering Maneuver Piloting(starship)
Mining Rig Computer Repair
Nano/Medbay Quality Healing
Secoms Computer Knowledge(Mathematics)
Communications Computer Spacewise
Damage Control Computer Spacewise
Automated Repair Quality Repair
*Assuming the starship has the required Edges
System: Passive Sensors
When using the cinematic ranges and distances, beyond Extreme range there is another range bracket called ‘Passive Sensor Range’ or PSR. At this range the Passive Sensors of a starship can be tested to pick up other starships, and planetoids (stars are always detectable).
Passive Sensor scans are omnidirectional, unless subject to the Limited-Arc Hindrance.
For objects at Extreme range or closer the Passive Sensors receive a +4 bonus.
For objects using Active Sensors in the round before, the Passive Sensors receive a +4 bonus.
The information that passive sensors can provide regarding starships depends on the success of the Passive Sensor system use test. Passive Sensors are assumed to be ‘always on’, and if not monitored by a crew member they will be monitored by the starship computer.
Success: Location, Drive
Raise: Displacement, Design
System: Active Sensors
Active Sensors can only detect objects at Long range or closer. They do not work on objects at PSR or Extreme range.
Active Sensor scans are omnidirectional, unless subject to the Limited-Arc Hindrance.
Objects detected must be in line of sight. To be occluded required an object to be closer than 150km, effectively adjacent, to a larger object, and thus positioned where the hiding objects FTL Core will not allow FTL flight.
Active Sensors are also the system that is used to ‘scan’ the surface of a planet. When done in FTL and within Close range this is assumed to cover the entire planet in a single round, highlighting structures, natural landmarks, population centres, and clusters of the same flora/fauna.
The starship-related information that active sensors can provide also depends on the success of the Active Sensor system test. Active Sensors are only active when explicitly mentioned.
Success: Location, Displacement, Drive, Design
Raise: Quality, any Starship Combat Edges
System: Direct Fire
Any Starship Combat Edge that uses Direct targeting can be activated once per round. The effects are as per the Edge. Direct weapons systems require line-of-sight to the target, and for the target to be acquired on one of the starship sensor systems.
System: Firing Solutions
One weapons system can be prevented from firing that round, while an improve firing solution is calculated. Weapons systems fired on the next round with an improved firing solutions gain a +2 bonus for a success, but no additional bonus for any raise.
System: Indirect Fire
Any Starship Combat Edge that uses Indirect targeting can be activated once per round. The effects are as per the Edge. Indirect weapons systems do not require line-of-sight to the target, and only require that the target to be acquired on one of the starship sensor systems, which most often is the Passive Sensors.
System: Point Defence
Any Starship Combat Edge that uses Direct targeting, and which has not been activated that round, can used for Point Defense against any Indirect weapon that has already achieved a successful roll to hit. Before the incoming weapon rolls for damage, the Point Defense system can be used either by the starship computer, or a hero with a Held action, to shoot it down! A hit by the weapon used for Point Defense automatically destroys the incoming Indirect weapon. Any weapon used in Point Defense cannot also be used to attack that Round. If it is used to attack first, then it cannot be used for Point Defense, and vice versa.
The Maneuvering system allows the starship to move up to its full distance, and also perform one or more Tactical Maneuvers at the same time. Each additional Tactical Maneuver is treated as an additional action, and imposes the standard cumulative +2 TN penalty on all actions.
Medbays can be run by the starship computer, or a live doctor. Either way they provide bonuses to the standard character healing. A Medbay or better is required in order to provide the Natural Healing +2 bonus for “Medical attention (2010 and beyond)” in the core rules.
If you wish to initiate a Test-of-wills against the crew of another starship, you need to open communications with them. However, if you initiate a social Skill test you cannot sever a comms link in the same action! Be warned - everyone gets a reply if they wish!
System: Damage Control
Damage Control is for starships what getting ‘unshaken’ is for heroes!
Damage Control requires a test to use the system.
When used to try and removed the Compromised condition, a success can remove the condition of Compromised from the starship.
The system operator must substract the starship’s Breach penalty from the system test.
System: Automated Repair
Automated Repair is the equivalent of ‘healing’ for heroes.
Automated Repair requires a test to use the system.
When used to repair Breaches, a success removes one Breach, and one (or more) raises also remove one additional Breach.
The system operator must substract the starship’s Breach penalty from the system test.
The system test can take place any time after the Breach(es).
Only one system test can be made for all existing Breaches.
If a starship has three Breaches and is Inoperable, the system operator must first make a Automated Repair test to remove that Inoperable state, before they may attempt further Automated Repair tests to remove actual Breach(es).
The starship’s computer, or a pilot using Piloting (starship), can perform a single maneuver each round that can provide a benefit to a starship in combat, with some degree of risk if the maneuver fails. There are more maneuvers than described here, but these are common ones:
Align For Impact
By keeping the sturdiest parts of the starship facing towards the enemies weapons while in combat, you are likely to suffer less damage when hit.
Bonus: +2 Toughness versus damage incurred.
Raise: No improvement in Toughness.
Failure: The starship veers off course, and incurs a -4 penalty to attempts to target anything else.
Angle for Attack
Angle for Attack is an attempt to bring the starship weapons systems to bear in an advantageous way based on the tactical situation, against a single pre-specified target.
Note that a successful Angle for Attack can be shared amongst allied starship using Indirect
weapons, assuming secure and clear communications.
Note that systems with the Limited-Arc Hindrance gain no benefit from this maneouver.
Bonus: The starship weapons systems gain +2 against the pre-specified target.
Raise: The bonus is increased to +4.
Failure: The starship has maneouvered the weapons to sub-optimal positions, and they are incur a -2 penalty until the end of the round, against all targets.
By maneouvering the starship through rapid turns and twists, Sensor coverage can be maximised at the cost of movement. The starship attempting this maneouver cannot cover more than Close distances during movement.
Bonus: The starship gains +2 to all Active Sensor and Passive Sensor tests
Raise: The starship gains +2 to all Active Sensor and Passive Sensor tests
Failure: Out of control maneouvers actually impede sensor coverage, and impose a -2 roll to all Sensor tests. Also, the sensor noise that the the starship creates gives all other starships a +2 bonus to detect it.
This maneouver momentarily places the starship between all other starships within Close range, and a local massive-energy source (typically a sun, but it could also be a black hole, or a large, recent explosion.) This uses the energy signature of the large energy source to hide the starship from energy sensor, effectively hiding it in plain sight! The maneouver gains a +2 bonus when using a binary-sun, and a +4 bonus when using a trinary-sun.
Bonus: Imposes -2 penalty to all rolls that involve targeting the starship with sensors.
Raise: The penalty is increased to +4.
Failure: The mis-aligned energy signature actually illuminates the starship! Provides a +2 bonus to all rolls that involves targeting the starship with sensors.
Mask Engine Signature
By flipping the starship at a critical time it can alter the drive signatures on the enemies tracking devices, making it harder for them to gain a lock-on.
Bonus: -1 penalty to any roll that involves targeting the starship, including sensors and weapons.
Raise: The penalty to rolls that target the starship is increased to -2.
Failure: The starship veers wildly to no effect, and suffers a -2 penalty to making Direct system attacks.
Flying at very low Nape-Of-Earth (NOE) altitudes - or extremely close to large spacebourne structures - is one way of avoiding attack. The starship performing this maneuver sets their own TN for their Piloting test, which reflects how low they will risk flying. Because of the extreme proximity required, this maneouver can only be performed using normal-space speeds.
Bonus: The TN for the maneouver becomes the new TN for any attacks against the starship until its next action.
Raise: No additional benefit.
Failure: The starship has pushed it too close! It must roll on the Inoperable Quality Test table (and, if appropriate, so must the object it was flying too close to!)
Sometimes the best way to avoid being hit by a weapon is to be undetectable, and the best way to do this is to turn off the engines! The starship cannot move or fire any kind of weapons, although they can use internal systems such as Medbays and internal communications, and they can also use their Passive Sensor array.
Bonus: The starship engines no longer provide propulsion (and this the starship will drop out of FTL flight) and the starship imposes a -4 penalty on any Sensor tests that might detect it.
Raise: The same as a sucess, except the starship imposes a -6 penalty on any Sensor tests that might detect it.
Failure: The energy configuration of the starship becomes highly visible. The starship provides a +2 bonus on any Sensor tests that might detect it.
By using the gravitational attraction of a planet-sized object in Close range, the pilot can coax a little extra speed from the starship.
Bonus: If the starship’s moves while within Close range of any planet or moon sized object then half of the starship’s movement (whether FTL or normal-space) is returned to the starship to
spend again immediately at the end of its movement.
Raise: The full amount of movement is returned.
Failure: The starship has come perilously close to the planet. It does not receive any bonus to movement. The starship takes 1d6 damage per factor of distance travelled.
Every starship weapon that hits rolls its Damage, versus the Toughness of the target starship, in the same way that character based damage is managed.
On a success only result (no raises) on the damage roll, the target starship is Compromised (shields down, loosing air, etc.) and all rolls performed using the starship systems are at -2. This is the equivalent of a character that has been ‘shaken’. The Compromised status can be removed by a successful use of the Damage Control system.
On a raise on the damage roll the starships suffers a Breach, plus one additional Breach for each extra raise. Breaches are starship approximations of character Wounds.
When a starship is under the command, control, or operation of a Wild Card character or itself has the Wild Card Starship Edge then it can usually, just like a player character, take a few hits before it is disabled. Such starships have a ’Breach tracker’ that works the same way as a ‘Wound tracker’. For example, one Breach imposes a -1 penalty to all actions, etc. After three Breaches a starship is rendered Inoperable.
When a starship is under the control of an ‘Extra’ then a single Breach removes it from play.
Breaches are repaired using the Automated Repair system of the starship. Anything that can’t be repaired by this system requires a drydock to effect repairs, and costs significant sums of Cpubits and raises potentially complicated questions!
Starship attacks can be declared as Called Shots. Sensors are considered as ‘Tiny’ (-6). Engines and the life support systems are considered as Heads/Vitals’ (-4). All other systems are considered as Limbs (-2). Each called shot that hits its target will cause a maximum of 1 Breach of Damage, and if the damage starship fails a Quality roll that system is disabled - what is required to repair the system is up to the GM, but it should require some form of manual intervention/repair.
A character using a starship system that is hit by a called shot must be specifically working outside or near the outside of the starship’s hull in order to take damage. If they are, then roll damage seperately for the starship weapon, but treat this as character damage, not starship damage. This reduced degree of damage assumes that the character was trying to use whatever was available on the starship to protect themselves while they worked, and not directly expose themselves to harm. However, if for any reason they specifically were not… adios amigo!
A starship that suffers more than three Breaches (cumulatively or all at once) is rendered Inoperable. Inoperable starships aren’t necessarily destroyed, but are generally too ruptured and malfunctioning, or blasted to do anything useful.
Inoperable starships are ‘dead in space’ and all weapons and targeting systems gain a +4 bonus to hit them.
Inoperable starships may not perform actions, and their systems cannot be used, and they are dealt Action Cards only for the purpose of tracking residual normal-space movement.
The Inoperable state may only be removed by a character performing manual repairs on the starship, with a successful Repair roll. This is required to bring all the systems back online and move the starship to the -3 level of the Breach Tracker.
Whenever a starship becomes Inoperable, make an immediate Quality roll for the starship:
Inoperable Quality Test
Total of 1 or Less All previously functioning systems are restored, but the starship remains Compromised until it can be properly repaired at a drydock
Failure One randomly determined previously functioning system cannot be recovered and is not useable until the starship can be repaired at a drydock. The starship is Compromised.
Success The starship is Compromised, but otherwise all previously functioning systems are restored
Raise All previously functioning starship systems are restored. The starship is not Compromised.
Drydock repairs to a system cost half as much as a new system itself.
Drydock repairs to a Breach cost 10CBT x Displacement of the starship to repair.
All repairs can usually be completed within 24 standard hours, unless the drydock does not stock a particular system or sub-component and this must be delivered.
In any law-abiding drydock, repairs of weapons damage will be reported to the local authorities who may/may not be persuaded to overlook them.