Each turn, a conquered world with some sort of garrison on it has a 20% chance of being pacified and becoming a normal colony world for the conqueror. A conquered planet with no garrison automatically rebels the first turn it is without a garrison.
If the colony has a standard garrison, defined as one garrison battalion per 20 RP's of colonial production, the chance for pacification is 40% per turn. Every doubling of the full garrison will add 20% to that chance. In the first turn following conquest, if there are surviving defenders from the initial invasion, there is no chance of pacification unless there is a standard garrison or larger.
A garrison battalion is defined as any unit of battalion size designated as a garrisoning unit.
Until a colony is pacified, it produces only 75% of what it would otherwise. It does, however, serve as a colony of the conquering player for purposes of detection, supply, and communications.
A colony that is not yet pacified has a chance of guerrilla or terrorist activity, or of plain uprising. The chance of such activity is 40%, or 20% with a standard garrison, with the percentage halved for each doubling of garrison strength. If the colony does make the check for resistance activity, the GM may select or determine randomly the effect, from these possibilities:
(a) Uprising: no RP production for the conqueror this turn. All the colony’s RP's go into the production of militia units fighting for the freedom of their colony. Such militia units have their breakoff ratings set at d100 %, with a minimum of 50%. They fight the garrison force until one side or the other breaks off and flees or is captured. If the rebels win, the colony is no longer in the hands of the conqueror and may or may not rejoin its previous empire. Surviving rebels that break off vanish back into the population and have no later effect, subject to GM discretion. (The GM may or may not rule that they make later rebel units more experienced.)
(b) Sabotage: no RP production this turn. Any single ground or orbital installation of the conquerors worth the colony's RP production or less is destroyed. If there are no such installations, treat this as another event.
(c) Intrigue: the conqueror receives the usual 75% colonial production. However, an amount of RP's equal to the base production of the colony goes into an espionage attempt hostile to the conqueror, and generally favorable to the rebels. These may include attempts to subvert the garrison troops, feed the colony's previous empire sensitive information, capture orbital resources (including particularly ones to fire on occupying troops), or whatever else the GM can connive for them. Note that the player will not ordinarily know the difference between this result and a no-resistance result.
(d) Mass Vandalism: no RP production this turn. The colony's RP value is reduced by d100%, and would need to be recolonized at whatever the appropriate rate is to restore production.
One consequence of these rules is that a single ground unit is capable of capturing and occupying a colony that possesses no defending units. Thus, the minimal effort to capture a colony can be very cheap. However, if you don't have a standard garrison, the chance of pacification is low and the chance of serious resistance activity is obnoxiously high. Cheap militia units get an appropriate role: making up the minimum garrison numbers to increase pacification chances and to reduce resistance activity chances.
All players must set break off levels for their starships, fleets, ground units, and full ground forces. Break off levels are the percentage of damage, determined by total hull points, which the fleet will absorb before attempting to retreat or, if retreat is not available, at which point the ship or fleet will surrender to attacking enemy forces. A break-off level assigned to a specific unit determines when it will retreat or surrender based on damage to the fleet.
Break off levels may be set as low as 0% (which means the ship or fleet will run immediately after 1 round of combat no matter what damage it has taken) or as high as 100% (which means that the ship or fleet will stand and die to the last hull plate and will not retreat no matter what) depending upon the situation. If no break off level is provided, the GM will assign one at random.
Break off levels of 0% have, historically, been extremely popular, especially when one side or another has a first-strike advantage over the enemy force upon which the hit & run tactic is being executed. However, this compromises the combat system. Thus, fleets which hit & run will not have a battle report issued for them. Rather, the GM will make a judgment call based upon the firepower of the attacking fleet, as to the damage done to the enemy, but will not issue a report to the player conducting the hit & run attack. The player simply has not been in combat long enough to gather battle damage assessments on his effectiveness against the enemy.
Starships, fleets, and ground forces defending the home world automatically possess break off levels of 90%. Break off levels of 100% are not highly recommended (what if you lose?).
Example: BREAK OFF 30
Any fleet or vessel with this tag will accept 30% losses or 30% damage before attempting to flee, respectively.
An alternative to setting a break off level for the entire fleet is to set individual damage levels for individual ships in the fleet. This is done using the DAMAGE tag.
The DAMAGE tag is used in a roughly inverse manner to the break off level. For example, a unit with a DAMAGE 30 tag will attempt to flee when it has 30% or less of its Hl value remaining. When a ship attempts to flee, it will receive a FLEE tag and will automatically gain a DEFENSE 50 tag. Any enemy unit firing on the fleeing unit will do so at a –50% modifier to its targeting percentage. Ships that have fled will be listed in the fled.att or fled. Def files generated during the battle by the BE. DAMAGE values may range up to 200; in that case, the unit would flee with 100% of Hl and 100% of Sh remaining.
Damage levels of 200 should not be set as this would mean that the ship would attempt to flee the battle instantly. By the same token, damage levels of 0 should also not be set as this would mean that the ship would not flee the battle until it had been destroyed.
Untrained ground forces may not have a DAMAGE level set lower than 65%. All other ground forces have a DAMAGE level predetermined for them according to their training level (see Ground Force Construction, above).
Example: DAMAGE 70
Any ship with this tag will accept 100% Sh damage and 30% Hl damage before attempting to flee.
9.8.0 Destroying Colonies & Devastating Planets
The weaponry carried by starships in Fire On The Suns is fully capable of destroying any planet, given time and ammunition. Any ship firing on a planet may target civilian populations, production facilities, or any other target on the surface including the planet itself. Destroying a colony requires the application of the colony's total output (in RPs, plus any SRP’s or SSRP’s, each counting as one more RP for this purpose), in points of damage to the colony. For example, a colony on a Class M planet that produces 250 RPs would require 250 points of damage to destroy. A ship with a single 1 point beam would require 250 combat rounds, or 125 minutes – just over two hours, a negligible period on the scale of FOTS interstellar travel – to destroy this colony. Fleets with single round firepower in this quantity are not at all uncommon.
Devastating a planet (which destroys all life on the planet and renders it useless for at least 50 game years (300+ turns)) requires the application of 10 times the world's total RP potential in points of damage to the planet. Continuing the example, a Class M world with an RP potential of 250 would require 2500 points of damage to devastate it. It would be a little less than a day’s work for the example ship above.
Destroying a planet (a process which leaves only asteroids and floating debris behind, from which a planet can never recover) requires the application of 100 times the world's total RP potential in points of damage applied to the planet. Thus, a Class M world with an RP potential of 250 would require 25,000 points of damage to destroy it - a typical heavy cruiser would require 1,667 combat rounds (about 14 hours) to accomplish this task.
No planet may be destroyed without the express intent to do so by the attacking player.
Destroying a colony does not have any significant effect on the planet itself. In particular, the planet is available for normal re-colonization by any party thereafter.
The complete destruction of a planet is usually frowned upon by friend and foe alike.
9.9.0 Damage Control & Repairs
Ships and other units will require repair when damaged. The repairs needed may include damage to Hl, damage to Sh, and various critical hits. (These are enduring critical hits; some critical hits are of limited duration and are thus “repaired” without significant amounts of time, repair resources, or RP expenditure.)
A ship will require a repair facility or shipyard with sufficient capacity to hold it in order to be repaired in the case of Hl damage and critical hit repair. Thus, repair facilities adequate to the repair of larger ships are going to be larger themselves. Gunboats and fighters may be repaired in their hangars. Ground troops may be repaired/healed in the barracks and cargo bays that normally house them. Shield repairs do not require any special facilities.
The base repair time required for critical hits is 10% of the time it would take to rebuild the ship. The cost for such repairs is 10% of the RP building cost of the ship.
The base repair time for Hl damage is equal to the amount of time it would take the empire repairing the vessel to build that much Hl of ship. For example, an empire with a build rate of 6 hull per turn would require a base time of 2.5 turns to repair 15 points of Hl damage. The cost of Hl damage repair is equal to one half the cost of the Hl repaired, with any Hl provided by armor being assumed to be the first damaged. For example, a ship with 8 pts of hull and 3 pts of ablative armor has suffered 6 pts of damage. This would require 6x1.67 RPs or 10.02 (10) RPs to repair. Three points of armor are repaired first and then the final 3 pts of hull are repaired.
Shield repairs do not take a significant amount of time to be repaired. In general, shields may be assumed to be repaired before a second battle, assuming the RP’s for the repairs are in the same place as the ship in need of repair. The GM may in some circumstances rule that sufficient time for shield repairs has not occurred. For instance, in the case of attacks in quick succession on bases around one planet in a system and then against bases over another planet in the system, time for shield repairs may not necessarily have elapsed. The cost for Sh repairs is ¼ the cost of new shields or 0.833 RPs per point (3.33 divided by 4).
Repair bays function at twice the base build rate for ship repairs. Hangars function as repair bays for their fighters and gunboats. Repair facilities do not affect repair costs.
Damage control and a player's ability to repair damaged ships may be increased through R&D efforts.
9.10.0 Repair Ships & Fleet Repair Docks
Repair ships and fleet repair docks are special craft that can repair damaged ships. Repair ships and fleet repair docks are basically large mobile shipyards that have the ability to handle repairs, but not new construction. Repair ships and fleet repair docks may be constructed to any size hull that a player may construct other ships. See Construction of Freighters, above for the rules covering repair ships and fleet repair docks.
Repair ships and fleet repair docks may not build new ships. They can only repair existing vessels.
Although organizations and battle tactics are discussed more fully in the Battle Manual, it is appropriate to address these issues here as well.
The organization of a fleet or ground force is essential to a player's success in Fire On The Suns (among other things). A well-organized fleet is an efficient fleet. Players who allow their fleets or ground forces to become disorganized over the course of several turns will forget where certain ships or ground units are, what the strengths and weaknesses of the various ship or ground force types are, and what damage needs to be repaired before the unit(s) enter the next battle.
Fire On The Suns players should use standard American naval nomenclature for the organization of their ships and fleets. They should use standard American army nomenclature for the organization of their ground forces.
Fleets are organized by ship, division, squadron, task group, task force, and fleet.
A division is a grouping of 2-3 individual ships.
A squadron is a grouping of 2-3 divisions.
A task group is a grouping of 2-3 squadrons.
A task force is a grouping of 2-3 task groups.
A fleet is a grouping of 2-3 task forces.
These are general guidelines, not hard and fast rules, for the organization of a player's ships and fleets. Players may also explore groupings based on grade officer’s spans of commands, if they intend to make regular use of such officers.
Ground forces are organized by platoon, company, battalion, regiment, brigade, division, corps, and army. Some of these may see less common use in FOTS than others.
Platoons generally range to 30-50 personnel. Boarding parties typically consist of platoons.
A company is typically 2-4 platoons. This may represent a small corps of boarding parties, perhaps for ship security.
A battalion is typically 2-4 companies. A ship used for serious boarding attacks may have a battalion or two of boarding parties.
A regiment is typically 2-4 battalions. Each hull point of a mechanized ground combat unit constitutes roughly one regiment of around 150 vehicles, or 900 in the case of powered armor. Some large ships may contain an entire regiment of boarding parties.
A brigade is typically 2-3 regiments. Each hull point of a non-mechanized ground combat unit constitutes roughly one brigade.
A division is typically 2-3 brigades. Medium or large mechanized ground combat units are brigades, as are small non-mechanized ground units.
A corps is typically 2-3 divisions. Some planetary garrisons or invasion forces may be comprised of one or more corps.
An army is typically 2-3 corps. Ground forces together of any single tactical purpose are unlikely to be larger than a single army.
Players should note that is perfectly correct to vary ship types within fleet organizations or to mix-and-match various types of ground forces within organizations above battalion level. Both fleets and ground forces will often be reinforced by specialized units.
9.14.0 Fleet Formations & Intra-Turn Combat (Optional)
(Note: These rules provide an alternative to the standard detection rules for locating and engaging an enemy force. Players may still use the formations as a guide for organizing their own fleet screens and counter-screens under the standard detection rules, for the sake of learning more and learning before their enemy of the composition and capabilities of hostile forces nearby.)
Formation – a fleet or other group of ships assigned an overall mission
Element – a distinct portion of a formation assigned a particular position in the formation
Position – a place in a formation that can be occupied by an element; a position in a formation may or may not have an occupying element
Far Left Left Flank Central Force Right Flank Far Right
The Central Force position is variously called the main force, main body, or just central, at least. In the case of a non-mobile formation, north, south, west, and east might substitute for forward, rear, left, and right.
Advantage points – Advantage points represent an operational edge one force may have over another. Advantage points are spent in order to increase chances at contact, get a favorable set of friendly or enemy forces engaged in a battle, and/or to conduct battles under surprise conditions. Advantages are generated primarily through stealth and counter-stealth effects, scanners of appropriate range, and the abilities of flag officers, but this is not intended to be an exhaustive listing. GM discretion and random factors also apply.
Order – An order consists of an arrangement of a formation into elements with specifications of how advantage points are to be spent.
Any forces involved in a theater are organized into formations. Each force moving together with identical orders constitute a formation. In addition, every non-mobile unit and forces arrayed around it constitute a distinct formation; a group of such non-mobile units in the same section generally constitute one formation together. Colonies are non-mobile units for this purpose. A force that is designated as defending a non-mobile unit (or one that happens not to be moving, such as a group of freighters serving as a supply depot for instance) will form a formation including the non-mobile unit(s) in the central force or reserve, if it is to remain with the non-mobile unit. If it is to hunt down potential aggressors or pursue them after attacks, it should be considered a mobile formation and be treated as such.
Each formation assigns elements to various positions. Each must have at least a central force; if it has an element in a far forward place, it needs to have at least one vessel in that forward place, likewise for right, left, and rear positions. The reserve place is considered as far inward as the central force and can be left empty without any sort of penalty; the point of it is to provide an element with a certain additional protection from being drawn into combat involuntarily.
Each element is assigned advantage points.
Possessing at least one unit with an LRS provides advantage points equal to the range of the LRS plus 1; 1 advantage point for a range 0 LRS, 2 for a range 1 LRS, and so on. VLRS are treated as LRS with whatever range VLRS’s have at current tech standards. Colonies provide any elements assigned to their position advantage points according to VLRS range.
If the enemy has stealth technology that prevents them being seen, then an element receives no advantage points due to LRS or VLRS. These are subtracted from the Situational Factor of the friendly elements if and when they make contact with the stealthed enemy.
An element receives an advantage point for every element further “out” than it along the longest line outward; e.g., a main element would receive 2 advantage points if it has a forward element and a far forward element. It wouldn’t receive additional advantage points for having far right and right elements in addition, though there are other reasons to have them.
An element with a commanding officer of skill levels 1-3 loses one advantage point; with one of level 4-7, there is no loss or benefit; with a commanding officer of skill level 8-10, the element gains one advantage point.
Each element is assigned an advantage point bonus or penalty randomly in each phase of a turn:
1-2: -2 advantage points
3-4: -1 advantage point
5-6: no penalty or bonus
7-8: +1 advantage point
9-10: +2 advantage points
Mobile formations generate contacts with enemy mobile or non-mobile formations. A mobile formation has a chance to generate a contact with an eligible enemy formation for each element it has deployed without another element further out in that direction. For example, a force with nothing but a main element and a reserve has one chance to generate a contact; a reserve is considered no further out than the main force. It would have four chances with forward, right flank, left flank, and rear guard elements. The base chance of a contact is 10%; an additional 10% may be “bought” with the sacrifice of an advantage point from that element. Naturally, since contacts are generated only by the elements on the edges of a formation, inner elements do not spend any advantage points this way.
An entire formation may be designated as hiding. A hiding formation is not contacted at any chance higher than the base 10%, however many advantage points enemy elements sacrifice for contact generation. The elements of such a formation cannot spend advantage points to generate more contacts; they’re hiding, after all.
The GM lists all the enemy formations which an element may make contact. The base target of a contact is determined randomly from a list of available targets. Advantage points may be spent by the peripheral elements that would be making the contact to adjust the roll up or down by one per advantage point used this way, to get contact with an enemy formation that meets target criteria given in the formation’s orders for the phase.
Advantage points may be spent by the peripheral elements to skip unwanted contacts. This must be specified in the formation’s orders for the phase; one advantage point would allow for one contact to be skipped in favor of no contact for that phase. The orders would also have to specify what sorts of targets would be skipped – for example, allocating a small scouting element’s advantage points so as to allow it to skip contact with an enemy force with 40 times its total BSTH value might be a good idea, if such are around.
Elements’ advantage points can be spent to provide a chance to ambush an enemy. The Ambush factor costs one advantage point per point and determines chances of getting a surprise bonus in combats that do occur; each Ambush point generates a 10% chance to gain tactical surprise on a contacted enemy formation. If surprise occurs, the Situational Factor (SF) is assumed to be 3 at a minimum.
The Situational Factor (SF) represents the degree of control of terms of combat an element enjoys in its contact. The base value of an element’s SF is equal to the number of advantage points spent on it.
The forces that get involved in combat when contacts occur depend on the way elements are assigned to positions in the formations, on GM discretion, the aggressiveness orders for the formation making contact, and on the friendly element’s General Factor.
0 - Friendly forces: friendly element only; Enemy forces: facing element plus up to 2 elements inward at enemy’s discretion
Situation: the friendly element has blundered into pretty much whatever the enemy has in the neighborhood, generally with poor results.
1 - Friendly forces: friendly element only; Enemy forces: facing element plus up to 1 element inward at enemy’s discretion
Situation: the friendly element has blundered into a bit more than it might have wanted to handle.
2 - Friendly force: friendly element only; Enemy force: facing element only
Situation: a pretty normal contact between screening elements
3 - Friendly force: friendly element plus up to one inward element at player’s discretion; Enemy force: facing element only
Situation: a jump on enemy screening elements
4 - Friendly force: friendly element plus up to two inward elements at player’s discretion; Enemy force: facing element plus up to one inward enemy element at player’s discretion
Situation: getting in amongst the enemy with a great degree of control over the contact
5 - Friendly force: up to every element in the friendly formation; Enemy force: facing element plus up to one inward enemy element at player’s discretion
Situation: massive concentration of force on the enemy fleet
6+: Friendly force: up to every element in the friendly formation; Enemy force: up to every element in the enemy formation, at player’s discretion
Situation: essentially as much contact as the bloodthirstiest admiral might like
Note that all these situation descriptions are general ones only. A formation operating with nothing but a main body and all advantage points plowed into making contacts might well find itself at SF 0, and yet be quite happy to take on whatever it finds, despite a gross lack of operational finesse.
A reserve is considered as far inward as the central force, and is involved only by the discretion of the player (at SF 3 or more) or the enemy (at SF 1 or less).
The base chance to gain surprise in a contact is 0%. It is increased by 10% for each point of friendly Ambush factor, and it is increased by 10% for each position along the line of contact which is empty of any element in the enemy formation. Thus, an enemy formation attacked on the right with neither a far right or right flank position holding an element will have its main element hit by any such attacks and it will be surprised 20% of the time before any hostile Ambush factors are figured in.
Inward elements of a formation may spend advantage points defensively. Each advantage point so spent reduces the base SF of any element making contact with any part of that formation by 1. A main body element may spend advantage points this way even without a rear element.
Inward elements can “lend” their SF values to elements immediately outward from them. The outward element gets to use the inward element’s SF as its own when it makes contact; this represents the planning of the inward elements commander(s) to be at the scene of contacts its screening unit makes. . A main body element may spend advantage points this way even without a rear element.
Formations may be rearranged between phases of a turn, and between turns.
If formations make contact in a given phase and do not have any orders to avoid contact with one another between phases, any contacts in subsequent phases will be with that other formation at least 50% of the time, and the chances of such contact are increased by 10% per contact in the previous phase.
Formations assigned to attack a specific immobile unit (colony, base, ships that happen not to be moving even if attacking ships are in the vicinity, etc.) or a set of such units do not need to make rolls to generate contact(s) with their target(s). Formations hitting several such targets in a turn are treated the same way. However, such formations do not make any other contacts on their own and cannot be given “hide” orders. Also, this assumes that the formation knows where to hit; formations that have to go looking for even immobile targets use the standard rules.
The issue of battle tactics is often more a matter of the individual player’s situation or the level of how desperate he is or how determined he is to win, but a short discussion is appropriate here as well.
The first battle tactic for all organizations that a player should address is the Break off Level. The setting of break off levels is something of an art in Fire On The Suns and there are few other things as important as this.
The break off level a player sets for his force reflects how much damage he is willing for that force to endure in order to secure a win in any particular battle. This is not how much damage the force does to the enemy, but how much damage the force will take before it retreats or surrenders to the enemy. Players will not know the enemy's break off level until after the battle is over.
Break off levels are thus reflective of a player's stance and strategic position in the game. A high break off level (particularly a break off level higher than 70%) indicates that a player is willing to risk virtually this entire fleet or ground force in any particular battle. A lower break off level (particularly one of 30% or less) indicates that the player is willing to let this one go and live to fight another day. A break off level of 0% indicates a hit-and-run style of attack where a fleet or ground force would get in, do as much damage as possible, and then get out again as quickly as possible.
The designers always caution players against setting extremely high break off levels for several reasons. First, it is unrealistic to order your admirals to order their crews to suicidal actions along with several hundreds of billions of credits of hardware. That's the kind of thing that results in mutinies. Second, we always ask the question "What if you lose?" All the hardware and heroism in the universe can't prevent an outnumbered and outgunned fleet from getting butchered by a more powerful enemy. In Fire On The Suns the trend appears to be that any fleet outweighing yours by more than 30% is probably going to win and win dramatically. Remember, fleets are not balanced in the game nor are battles. If your fleet runs into the enemy you cannot count on the enemy having fewer ships than you do. Strategically, and historically, the winning admirals have almost always assumed the opposite, that their fleet was weaker than the enemy's.
In addition to the break off level, a player can also or instead set individual ship damage levels using the DAMAGE tag.
The preservation of the fleet in being has always been a strategic consideration for admirals in our world. It should also be a consideration for the admirals in this game.
Battle tactics are usually formulated around some knowledge of the enemy. Players will not possess this knowledge until after they have contacted the enemy in battle. The designers consider it an important point that a player analyze the first battle reports carefully to see what he's up against in the enemy ships. This is called knowing the enemy. Does he possess cloaking devices? Does he have long-range weapons? Are his ships heavier, hull-for-hull, than yours? Do they have greater or lesser throw-weights (firepower)? How can you defeat your opponent's advantages?
One tactic that is available in the game, but which is extremely difficult to obtain, is the advantage of surprise. This tactic is one of the greatest tactical assets that a player can obtain, but also one of the most difficult to achieve.
Another tactic that can be used to a player's advantage is the tactic of establishing a reserve force. Do you have to keep those carriers safe? Place them in the reserve (but make sure you protect the reserve too). Do you need to safeguard this fleet? Set its break off level intentionally low or give it orders to evade combat (sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't).
The list of secret weapons, technological advantages, special weapons, wildcard technologies, and other things that give a player an advantage over an opponent in combat is nearly as infinite as the player's imagination. The designer’s own list runs to over a hundred and fifty different weapons, some of which have never been seen in the game before. New weapons and technologies are not always a guarantee of victory, but they can go a long way towards establishing a balance against a superior enemy.
Battle tactics become something of a guessing game between the players. A good player will study the tactics used by admirals in real-world situations and then find ways to apply them to the game situations. A poor player will ignore history (and be forced to relive it). The list of tactics that might be used is far too extensive to be gone into here. We recommend the books Fleet Tactics: Theory & Practice, Capt. Wayne P. Hughes (USN, Ret), and How Navies Fight: The US Navy & Its Allies, Frank Uhlig, Jr., both of which should be available through your local library or bookstore.
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