House Rule - Exploration Variant

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wadewan
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House Rule - Exploration Variant

Postby wadewan » Fri Jul 15, 2016 5:22 am

A House-Rule I am readying for my exploration-based campaign is to add some unknown to unexplored systems by delaying the system encounter roll.

Instead of having a Scout(s) jump into a system and immediately rolling the encounter, delay the roll until the end of the turn the Scout jumps back into communications. When the ship is supposed to return, roll on a sub-table that either resolves the encounter or delays for another turn.

Depending on the encounter die roll for NPE, system information, peril, or 'delay', apply the appropriate rules retroactively. This subtle delay should introduce an element of unknown which requires you give ships specific instructions such as jump to system xyz and return back by next month to report or spend two months exploring and then return back.

Some considerations, do I send multiple ships and have one return with the information? Should I have military ships ready if my Scout(s) ran into a xenophobic NPE last month and they are not so happy about the recent intrusion into their space and have a one turn jump on preparations? If I rolled 'Delayed' do I wait another turn or send another ship.

Maybe there is a negative morale hit or even exploration suspension pending an investigation for "callously sending out multiple ship crews to their potential death without safeguards". Governments generally want accountability on what happen to ships or at least the economic expenditures. If using Political Control rules from 'Stars Divided' maybe this becomes a campaign issue against the party in power.

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Re: House Rule - Exploration Variant

Postby PaulB » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:07 am

I thought of having a similar rule for my exploration campaign but didn't see a good way to resolve it. Could just be that you don't create the system until the ships return but, then for example if there's a battle and your ships are destroyed they couldn't really return so how do you model that? You'd need a separate system where the ships might be lost by chance and then one of those chances is a hostile encounter.

I've also dreamed of creating a 4X computer game with a similar situation, where all of your information is delayed ala Age of Sail ships. Or in other words a universe where FTL drives exist but not FTL communications. So all communication is done by courier, or dispatch vessels. Don't know how fun it would be in practice but the idea is intriguing.

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Tyrel Lohr
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Re: House Rule - Exploration Variant

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Jul 15, 2016 12:18 pm

I have a set of fleet communication optional rules that I've been fiddling with for awhile. I'll pull those out and post them tonight. But the gist is that we assume that ships are using courier drones or comm buoys to keep in communication with each other, and these messages are (IIRC) traveling at roughly the same speed as a Fast ship (2 lanes per turn) but have troubles crossing restricted lanes.

I played with something similar to this in one campaign and how I handled it was just to make a note in my campaign diary of what information the empire did or did not know yet. So I would generate new systems and the like as I went, but if a fleet was destroyed in a single round of combat or if something else happened that caused a fleet to be lost I would rule that I didn't know what had happened.

Similarly, the outcome of other battles would not be known to the empire until word reached one of their colonies. I may have even been requiring it to reach a supply point to represent that it had to get to a military C&C point so that they could act on it and send out additional orders.
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wadewan
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Re: House Rule - Exploration Variant

Postby wadewan » Fri Jul 15, 2016 8:17 pm

Look forward to reading your optional rules. I remember Starfire Empires had communication networks and probes that would be sent off to report information which required rules that created system communication arrays and ships with transmitters operating like the Pony Express.

I am going to use the Companion 3.3 Sector Rules where each hex represents a 3D volume of space containing many stars with only zero to two systems(?) offering any form of habitable planets. This will take some amount of time for exploration teams to evaluate with nothing more than a minimally documented dangerous navigational pathway (Jump Path) existing between stars until developed into at least a Restricted Jump Network. Conceptually I am thinking in terms of a hex containing a network of jump lanes between multiple stars representing a Jump Lane Network requiring development and maintenance cost close to what is in the Companion Rules. Think of it as NAVAIDs that need repair, replacement and navigational software upgrades and like freeway and bridges cause problems without upkeep.

I like the idea of having some potential degree of risk either by scattering (Lost in Space) or destruction every time the Jump Path is traversed due to missed navigational hazards or distortion effects which drives the demand for building Jump Lanes and also explains the difficulty or lack of communications even using probes.

My reason for entertaining exploration rule variants are to take some element of knowing everything away from me in a solo or non-CM type campaign. Adding morale, political and racial traits to exploration operations can add options to frustrate or reward my plans. For instance I just lost a Lewis Class Scout and the Imperial Senate is demanding that an armed reconnaissance squadron be deployed to that system hex to investigate. While to me the player it was just an unlucky dice roll that cost me a cheap ship and one month where I would just reload and try again; however within the game having to stand-down all exploration attempts and pull perhaps critical assets from another system to fulfill the Senates wishes is bloody inconvenient just as my Fleet Admiral was all set to invade the system of Grand Fenwik Majoris.

I realize adding a lot of optional rules can bog a game down so finding that elegant mix of simplicity, fun and effective representation of the concept is a challenge. So it may take me a while to get this right but that can be half the fun too.

Wade

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Tyrel Lohr
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Re: House Rule - Exploration Variant

Postby Tyrel Lohr » Fri Jul 15, 2016 9:28 pm

That sounds neat, Wade! How much risk are you thinking for each time that a jump lane is crossed? You'd probably need to make jump lane upgrades cheap enough that a player wouldn't be spending too much having to "repair" the jump lanes when a new navigational hazard comes into play.

Or, reading the second part again, I think I see the direction that you're headed here with the sector rules. Movement between sectors/systems would be treacherous until you built the "warp lanes" between them, but then have those lanes be improved like jump lanes. Each time you cross then there would be a chance of it regressing and a fleet taking damage. Something like

Jump Lane Hazard: Roll 2d6 when a jump lane is used this turn and modify the roll as follows: -2 restricted, -1 minor. On a 2 or less one of the fleets that crossed the lane encountered a navigational hazard and has been delayed. All ships in this fleet immediately earn 1d6 out of supply levels, and the jump lane class is degraded by one level (major to minor, minor to restricted, and restricted to unexplored).

Is that kind of what you're looking for?

Another thing to consider, and something I'm exploring in a future book, is taking the objective mission framework Jay established in With a Purpose and applying that as exploration events. Each time you explore a system (or maybe even when a scout force is in peril?) you would then roll to generate a new objective. That would seem to dovetail into the direction you're headed where you might have to deal with shifting political situations back home as the game evolves.

Here's the scattered notes on Fleet Communications that I had when they were still part of the Companion. I need to go back in and finish them, but this gives you an idea of the direction I was headed the last time that I worked on them.

FleetCommunications.pdf
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wadewan
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Re: House Rule - Exploration Variant

Postby wadewan » Sat Jul 16, 2016 6:11 am

Firstly thanks for sending the communication rules. I like the direction you were going and will play around with them for a while.

In regards to the exploration rules you are close to what I am thinking and hope to have it better fleshed out this weekend. I kind of have two threads going here (1) exploration delay/communications and (2) Jump Lane Network infrastructure.

I haven't fully meshed all my thoughts regarding the Jump Lane Network but the attachment is a preliminary for risks associated with different lanes and ship types. It is my intent in my campaign to treat the Scout ship trait as more of a EW/ECM/Sensor system that is less than optimal for system exploration versus the Explorer trait that is customized for that purpose with lower scatter risk.

The scatter percentage is just a starting point so far but I wanted to give an empire an option to make the jump in less than optimal conditions due to enemy interdiction operations along other jump lanes (hexes). By the attached table as long as you have an explorer or scout class ship along side you can take the risk. If you need to push a fleet into an unexplored hex without a scout then prepare for the worst.

Below is my definition of Unexplored and Jump Path Networks:

Unexplored Jump Lanes/Networks represent newly discovered or never transited wormholes/jump lanes with unknown navigational reference points and hazards. Without the benefit of navigational information, risks of Hyperspace Scatter are quite high and usually left to the space exploration arm of an empire to conduct first transit missions. Ships equipped with Scout and/or Explorer ability can map the Jump Lane Network. Once the ship(s) have mapped the newly explored Jump Lane and successfully return to a linked system (Supply Point) to file its report the Jump Lane will be upgraded to a Jump Path Network.

Jump Path Networks are those Jump Lanes that have only the most basic of navigational mapping and little if any ATON (Aid to Navigation) also known has HYSNA (Hyperspace Nav Aid) to aid safe consistent transit. Typically Jump Path Networks are quickly upgraded to Restricted Jump Lane Networks to reduce Hyperspace Scatter risks to explorer and military ships until further exploration and resources are considered.

Thanks for providing the idea of a Supply Point being the required point of information transfer, that works well. In regards to cost of the Jump Network Infrastructure I agree the cost to build should be modified and the annual maintenance should be in line with so many hexes of network of a given type costing an amount equal to a certain ship size or base maintenance cost. For example 1EP per 5 hexes of Minor Jump Lane Networks. Maybe these maintenance cost can be deferred for a while but eventually the network degrades per your example (major to minor, minor to restricted).

It may be that this will be too fiddly to play but a lot of military success is the ability to coordinate and supply forces throughout a campaign and having things go wrong is pretty common.
Attachments
Hyperspace Scatter V1.pdf
Beta Rules for Hyperspace Scatter
(323.78 KiB) Downloaded 38 times

wadewan
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Re: House Rule - Exploration Variant

Postby wadewan » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:48 am

I did a lot of back and forth on how I wanted to replicate the unknown in solitaire play and went with a more streamlined version that put some kinks in my perfect plan without trying to back-track discovery results.

(1) Deleted the Jump Path Concept and defaulting to the standard sector movement rules.
(2) Roll for Jump Lane failure only when moving between sub-sectors (hexes) without Jump Lanes or a Restricted Jump Lanes.
(3) Simplified the results tables. Mostly you lose control of your ships through Delay results and Out of Supply situations.
(4) Deleted Jump Lane Maintenance because I am too lazy to count how many of what type of lanes each Empire has. Just assume it gets done!

Thanks Tyrel and Paul for the input.

Cheers.
Attachments
Hostiles Inbound - Jump Lane and Exploration.pdf
Updated File
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