Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Crewing a Ship

Most ships require a minimum crew of three (pilot, engineer, and navigator) plus a number of gunners equal to the ship class; fighters are an exception to this having a maximum crew number of two. Capital ships (Class 3+) will often carry more crew than the minimum, doubling or tripling up on essential positions, plus carrying sundry positions like medical crew, ship’s cooks, deck officers and security, etc. Non-military vessels will have pursers and servants (both human and borg) to oversee guests, and cargo masters in charge of goods in the ship’s hull. Larger capital ships  (Class 5+) outfitted for war will generally carry one or more fighter squadrons (a squadron consisting of 12 fighters organized into four “wings” of three), plus their corresponding personnel (pilots and technicians), and even smaller military vessels will carry armed troops for use in both boarding actions and repelling boarders.

The cost to fully outfit such ships for a single mission (i.e. game session) is fairly close to the cost of the vessel itself: generally, one credit code less than the cost of the ship. The crew hired will have a skill rating equivalent to a character one levels below the class of the ship (minimum 1st level); hiring a “good crew” carries the same credit code as the ship itself with a skill level equal to the ship class, while hiring “elite crew” carries a cost one code higher, though elites have a skill level to the ship class plus one. After 10 missions (game sessions) an average ship crew becomes “good;” after 25 missions a “good” crew becomes “elite.” Even if the crew purchased consists of tireless mechanicals, the same price must be paid for their routine maintenance and regular upgrades.

For example: Ben Starjammer has acquired a sleek corvette and needs to hire a crew. He really can’t afford more than the average crew type (credit code D), required a pooling of resources from the other party members to even for that (see “Buying a Ship” above). The credit check is successful and Ben has an “average” skilled crew; all skill checks made by NPC crewmembers are the equivalent of a 2nd level character (one levels below the corvette’s Ship Class 3). If the crew stays together for 10 missions (game sessions) they will advance to “good” status and make checks as 3rd level characters.

Crew cost is paid at the beginning of a game session; even if a crew has been upgraded through experience (i.e. multiple missions), the cost remains the same as the original purchase price. 

It should be understood that the crewmembers do not have actual “levels,” but rather have a skill roll equivalent to a character of the indicated level. Their ability to operate at a given level is in part due to the class of the ship, their training, their ability to work in coordination with each other, etc. A good ship with a well-trained crew, experienced in working together, can be a formidable.


Because of the “space war” nature of the KWN setting, space combat is an important part of the game. Most of the space combat rules (including the order of events in a combat engagement) remain the same as the X-Plorers rulebook, but there are some important adjustments and clarifications based on the game setting.

Preparing for Battle

When a combat engagement begins (whether or not a shot is fired), the crew of a star ship goes into a readiness mode called “Battle Stations.” Crewmembers are assigned roles based on the four phases of combat operations…Navigation, Engineer, Pilot, or Gunner…unless designated for a non-operations role (like ship medic or boarding party). Capital ships with fighter complements may have an additional operations role of flight coordinator, described below. Although multiple crew members may be assigned to each of the main operations mode, with the exception of gunnery, only one character is designated “lead” for the role; this person will be the one who makes the choice of action for the round and make any skill checks required.

In addition, one crewmember is designated for the role of “Captain’s Chair.” This individual (usually the ship’s captain) has the role of coordinator in any combat engagement. The person designated as Captain’s Chair can act as a lead for either one or two of the standard operations roles; however, if acting as lead for two roles, then checks made for both role are done with a -2 penalty.

Other than the Captain’s Chair, no crewmember may be assigned more than one role during an engagement; it is up to the Referee whether or not a crewmember can switch roles mid-engagement. If a role remains unassigned (due to a lack of crew) no action can be taken in that particular phase of a combat round.

Military vessels have a number of gun batteries equal to their ship class. Each battery requires a lead gunner to operate. So long as they’re staffed by ready gunners, all gun batteries may fire once per round and may target independent of each other (when engaged with multiple ships).

Star Fighters: Fighters (Ship Class 1) are special exceptions. Because of their small size, they can never have more than two crewmembers (pilot and copilot); however, they are specifically designed for combat situations, with simplified controls and instrumentation. To reflect this, the Captain’s Chair (lead pilot) suffers no penalty for operating in two roles, so long as those two roles are pilot and gunner. The copilot (often a borg) may act in a single additional role as usual. Short-range fighters have the same stats as star fighter but are less expensive, have no jump capability, and have a maximum crew of one OR, if they have a copilot, the Captain’s Chair suffers the normal penalty when operating in two roles. Short-range fighters are generally only used by planetary defense forces or as part of a capital ship’s complement and are less expensive to purchase (usually credit code C).

Gunnery Phase Changes

As stated above, the number of gun batteries that can be fired in a single round is equal to the ship class of a combat vessel (for example, a fully staffed frigate of Ship Class 4 can fire up to four gun batteries during the gunnery phase). Because of the spacing of batteries and the relative sizes of ships, no ship may bring more guns to bear on a single opponent than the opponent’s ship class; big ships are capable of tremendous firepower, but they are more effective in engagements with multiple vessels or other large vessels.

For example: a Kloane Empire star cruiser (Ship Class 6) is chasing a Republican frigate (Ship Class 4); both ships are exchanging shots even as the frigate attempts to outrun the Kloanes. The frigate, with a full complement of gunners, can fire four times per round at the pursuing cruiser, while the cruiser can only target the frigate with four guns in return, despite having six batteries. If the cruiser was engages with TWO frigates it could target one with four guns and the second with two, or split its guns evenly (three and three) between the two ships.

Large capital ships (Ship Class 5+) are made for engagements with other capital ships and have a hard time targeting ships smaller than a corvette. To reflect this, their gunners receive a -2 penalty to hit Class 1 and Class 2 ships.

[to be continued]

[Kloane War Knights is copyright 2013 by Jonathan Becker and Running Beagle Games. The X-Plorers rpg is copyright 2009, Dave Bezio & Grey Area Games. The X-Plorers trademark is used under the X-Plorers Trademark License]

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