Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hammering Out the Details

In organizing my Star Wars Rules compendium (yes, I do start all posts this way- at least, recently...)...

I have found that putting things down 'on paper' has made me rather paranoid. No. Not paranoid—anal retentive. Considering all the inconsistencies I have found in various source materials, I am now skeptical of just about every source there is, from West End Games to Wookieepedia to the various Guides and Cross-Sections books about Star Wars. There are often conflicting stats and specifics given for things (as I've discussed before). So what I'm doing now is trying to filter all of this down into something that 1) Goes along with what we see in the movies (this is almost always #1), and 2) Works for me logically (since this is MY take on the Star Wars universe).

Right now, all of my paranoid-retentiveness is focused upon scale. Just how different vehicles and critters relate to each other size-wise. And THIS all stemmed from revamping the scale system for the Star Wars game. I had never really thought about it before, but in that system, the Millennium Falcon (30m x 26m) is on the same Scale as an X-Wing (12.5m x 11m). While I realize that the larger things get, the less the difference in scale really matters (is it that much harder to shoot a 1000m long ship vs. a 1600m long ship?), it is a matter of 'relativity', especially in smaller-scale vehicles that could easily be entering direct conflict with player characters during the game. When you bring it down to THAT level, it IS a lot more easy to hit a Freighter like the Falcon than it would be to hit an X-Wing.

And so, geek that I am, I embarked on making a spreadsheet of the various vehicle sizes, trying to get at least an idea of what is bigger than what and what things are kind of the same size. From there, I could group them into more coherent categories that work for me. Of course I couldn't just base things on length, width and height—'bulk' had to play into it as well. Not really liking math, the system I used was crude, but...seems to be effective enough. In the process, I discovered some pretty interesting things (well, interesting to me at least).

Apart from the size discrepancies I mentioned in my last post (of which there are a LOT), I found many vehicles and critters just aren't the size I thought they were. One thing that surprised me was the overall size of a TIE fighter as compared to an X-Wing. I had always though the TIE was quite a bit smaller than an X-Wing in terms of total mass. This is not the case. They're actually pretty much equal in size. And the AT-AT Walker, which I had always thought was the largest of vehicles, is actually a good bit smaller than your average YT-1300 transport in terms of overall bulk.

And so, armed with this new information, I think I've come up with a pretty good scaling system for vehicles, divided into 5 main sizes (just as there are 5 main difficulty numbers in the game—neat, huh?).

Very Small Vehicles — These are things like Speeder-Bikes, STAPs and your smaller swoops.

Small Vehicles — This includes things like small, civilian landspeeders (like Luke's) and airspeeders (like the ones in the Coruscant chase scene in Episode II), as well as your more exotic things like "vulture" droid fighters, small podracers (like Anakin's) and AT-RTs (those small, 'ridable' walkers).

Medium Vehicles — This is the broadest category, ranging from the compact Snowspeeders and Jedi Starfighters through AT-STs, X-Wings and TIEs all the way up to the heavy-hitters like repulsortanks, the ARC-170, B-Wing and TIE Bombers.

Large Vehicles — This category includes most of the big combat vehicles—AT-TE and AT-AT walkers, Juggernaut Tanks, the LAAT combat gunship airspeeders (introduced in Episode II). It also includes smaller starships, like Boba Fett's Slave-I and Lambda-Class shuttles. Gunships like the Skipray and Starwing fall into this category as well—significantly larger than the fighters they often duke it out with. I was also surprised to find Jabba's sail barge fit in this category. But the given dimensions seem accurate, making it actually smaller than the Falcon and other 'light' transports (I'm still looking into this as we speak).

Very Large Vehicles — For the most part, this category includes only freighter starships. The YT-1300 (like the Falcon) is at the lower end of the category, with bigger Ghtroc and Barloz ships in the middle and the Luxury-3000 yacht at the top. The Sandcrawler is the only ground vehicle to make it into this section, being a LOT larger than I thought it was. Yeah, it's about as tall as an AT-AT, but it is SOLID all the way to the ground, meaning a lot more bulk.

Now, I won't go into a lot of detail (yet) about the exact mechanics of scale, and how they work in the game system I am writing up, but suffice it to say that size WILL matter. Ahem. At least in terms of combat. Yeah, your big old YT-1300 may be souped up with all kinds of guns, but it AINT a fighter. It presents a much bigger target. In a way, this is kind of a relief to me, as in my own gaming experience, freighter 'gunships' seemed always to make more 'sense' than your typical fighter. They were just as fast, more durable, had a lot more firepower, etc. Now? Well, they're going to be 2D more easy to hit than a fighter. Oops. That's mechanics. More on that later.

Oh, and in case you're wondering where critters fall in this scale? Well, I have to use different terminology to describe their sizes, but below is an example of how they fit in if they were measured against 'vehicle scales':

Very-Small — Womp Rats and other 'human sized' critters

Small — Kaadu (Gungan mounts), Eopies, Wampas, Tauntauns and even the Dewback

Medium — Banthas, Rontos, Rancors and the Gungan's big 'Fambaa' pack beasts

Large — The Opee Sea Killer (Crustacean-lookin fish from Episode I) and Krayt Dragons

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