Playstorming a “Stars without Number” Space Combat - Take 2

Playstorming a “Stars without Number” Space Combat - Take 2 is a game session report for Stars without Number: Revised Edition. We played at my desk on .

Christof Grobelski’s “Starwreck”, from the Stars without Number Art Pack (Take 2)

For those interested in following along, I’m using the Ship Combat from Stars without Number: Revised Edition 🔍. Check out . You may also be interested in my , in particular, .

The Engagement

A skill rank of 3 amongst the Player Characters (PCs 🔍) assumes all characters are at least 6th level; These are not your first level characters.

Once again the finds itself chased by . The Waukeen would love to blast out of this system but frankly tires of the Roscoe’s antics. Per orders, the Roscoe wants nothing more than to board the Waukeen and inspect it for contraband.

This time, the Roscoe gets the initiative.

The Roscoe Seeks to Take Out the Spike Drive

Table 150: Patrol Boat - Roscoe’s First Round (Take 2)
Start Command Point (CP 🔍)StationActionResultEnd CP
5CommsDefeat Electronic Counter Measures (ECM 🔍)Success: +4 to hit3
3GunneryTarget SystemsSuccess: aiming for spike drive2
2GunneryFire one WeaponRolled a 12. Hit, because of defeat ECM.0
CP - Command Points
‡ - As an Non-Player Character (NPC 🔍) ship, the Roscoe started with 5 command points, and no way to earn more.

Not wanting the Waukeen to escape, the captain of the Roscoe orders their crew to disable the Waukeen’s spike-drive. Roscoe’s Comm station defeats the Waukeen’s electronic countermeasures (ECM). And the Gunnery station threatens the spike-drive, but the Waukeen instead accepts a crisis.

End Result: Instead of taking a hit to the Spike Drive, the Waukeen accepts a Crisis: System Damage, disabling the Sand Thrower.

The Waukeen Tired of Running, Strikes Back

Table 151: Free Merchant - Waukeen’s First Round (Take 2)
Start CPStationActionResultEnd CP
0BridgeAbove and BeyondFailure-1
-1CommsAbove and BeyondSuccess: +4 CP3
3CaptainSupport Department: Engineering 3
3CaptainInto the FireSuccess: +4 CP7
7EngineeringEmergency RepairsSuccess: Restore Sand Thrower6
6GunneryTarget System 5
5GunneryFire One WeaponRolled a 12. Miss, but used Warrior ability. Aiming for Plasma Beam. Roscoe takes crisis "Armor Loss".3
3GunneryTarget System 2
2GunneryFire One WeaponRolled a 10. Miss.0

Having sustained damage, the captain orders the bridge and comms to get things in order. The captain orders up emergency repairs on the Sand Thrower and requests the Gunnery knock out the Plasma Beam. The repairs on the Sand Thrower succeeded but released a harmful gas that imperiled the crew. The Gunnery scores a substantive hit, melt part of the Roscoe’s armor.

Result: The Sand Thrower repaired. The Waukeen halved the Roscoe’s Armor rating (down to 2, making the Sand Thrower a far more dangerous weapon). But the captain imposed a “Crew Lost” crisis.

Roscoe Returns Fire

Table 152: Free Merchant - Roscoe’s Second Round (Take 2)
Start CPStationActionResultEnd CP
5CommsDefeat ECMSuccess: +4 to hit3
3GunneryTarget SystemsAiming for spike drive2
2GunneryFire one WeaponRolled a 7. Miss.0

The Roscoe’s captain, perhaps a bit brazen, insists that the Gunnery disable the spike-drive of the Waukeen. The comm officer again delivers a brilliant attack on the Waukeen’s ECM, but Gunnery cannot connect. At this point, with the Waukeen firing back, the Roscoe perhaps should have fired without intention. With a roll of 7, the Roscoe would have still missed.

Result: No change.

The Waukeen Blasts Away at the Roscoe

Table 153: Free Merchant - Waukeen’s Second Round (Take 2)
Start CPStationActionResultEnd CP
0BridgeDeal with a CrisisSuccess. Resolved "Crew Lost Crisis"0
0EngineeringAbove and BeyondSuccess: +4 CP4
4CaptainSupport Department: Comms 4
4CaptainInto the FireSuccess: +4 CP8
8CommsDefeat ECMSuccess: +6 to hit8
8GunneryTarget System 7
7GunneryFire One WeaponRolled a 1. Miss.5
5GunneryTarget System 4
4GunneryFire One WeaponRolled a 10. Hits. Disables plasma cannon.2
2GunneryFire One WeaponHit. 2 Hit Point (HP 🔍) damage.2

The Waukeen’s captain, demands that the crew muster all they have to take out the Roscoe’s plasma cannon. In perfect order, they rally and disable the plasma cannon. The Gunnery tacks on a few points of damage to highlight that they mean business.

Result: The bridge resolved their crisis, only to be thrown right back into a “Crew Lost Crisis.” The Waukeen disabled the Roscoe’s plasma cannon. And inflicted 2 HP.

The Roscoe Backpedals

Table 154: Free Merchant - Waukeen’s Third Round (Take 2)
Start CPStationActionResultEnd CP
5EngineeringEmergency RepairsFailure2
2BridgeEvasive ManeuversSuccess, +2 Armor Class (AC 🔍) until next turn.0

Without its plasma cannon, the Roscoe cannot achieve its goal. The captain orders repairs from engineering and for the bridge to take evasive maneuvers.

Result: +2 AC, still disabled plasma cannon, and continued weakened Armor rating.

I Have You Now

Table 155: Free Merchant - Waukeen’s Third Round (Take 2)
Start CPStationActionResultEnd CP
0BridgeDeal with a CrisisSuccess. Resolved "Crew Lost Crisis"0
0EngineeringAbove and BeyondFailure. Using Expert ability, convert to success.4
4CaptainSupport Department: Comms 4
4CaptainInto the FireSuccess: +4 CP8
8CommsDefeat ECMSuccess: +6 to hit8
8GunneryTarget System 7
7GunneryFire One WeaponRolled an 8. Miss.5
5GunneryTarget System 4
4GunneryFire One WeaponRolled an 18. Hit. Plasma cannon destoryed.2
2GunneryFire One WeaponRolled a 4. Miss because of evasive maneuvers.0

Seeing the Roscoe struggling to bring its cannon online, the captain orders that the Gunnery station destroys the cannon. Through the aid of the defeated ECM, the multifocal laser connects and destroys the plasma cannon.

Result: Again spamming the “Crew Lost” crisis. Destroyed the Roscoe’s plasma cannon.


With the Roscoe’s plasma cannon disabled, the Waukeen beat a hasty retreat. Perhaps they picked away at the Roscoe. Regardless, they popped the space champagne and celebrated a comfortable victory.


I have since played through two-ship combat scenarios. I have not run the Space Combat subsystem at an actual game table. I mentally compare Diaspora’s space combat mini-game to Stars without Number’s space combat; More on that in a future post.

For this scenario, with an assumed Lead skill of 3, it seems logical for the captain to always take the “Into the Fire” action. I cannot deny the allure of gaining 4 command points (CP) at a future cost of one or two actions.

With a Warrior at the Gunnery station, the opposing crew will face a crisis. Warrior’s have the following ability: “Warriors are lucky in combat. Once per scene, as an Instant ability, you can either choose to negate a successful attack roll against you or turn a missed attack roll you made into a successful hit. You can use this ability after the dice are rolled, but it cannot be used against environmental damage, effects without an attack roll, or hits on a vehicle you’re occupying. The PC abilities ensure that their ship poses far more of a threat than an NPC counterpart.

Defeat ECMshines with Programming-3. Converting two command points for a +6 to hit makes tremendous sense when you can reliably bank eight command points. With 8 CPs you can get a +6 to two targeted shots.

I have played under Stars without Number’s recommendation that an NPC ship may use one crisis per combat. A patrol boat presents an easy target for a skilled crew. With its single, yet hard-hitting weapon, it appears that a patrol boat is under matched for a PCs bulk freighter.

With a crew of Experts expect that ship to build a hefty stockpile of command points. Their ability to re-roll a failed check fuels the generation of command points.

A single patrol will likely not challenge a crew of sixth level characters. With so many options to generate command points and re-rolls, the PCs can press hard for their desired outcome.

You need multiple weapons for your ship to be a threat. It took quite a bit of effort to disable a single plasma cannon. During that time, the Waukeen did not appear to be under any immediate danger.

I find myself thinking about Diaspora’s space combat. In particular the simple yet varied elements to track: position on the map, hull stress, data stress, and heat stress. Position, hull, and data are resolved via versus tests. Heat is a resource that you can use to boost your speed or beam weapons (which can serve as offense and defensive capabilities). Within those asymetrical options, emerges what feels to be very meaningful strategies.