Knight Hawks skills

samlangdon's picture
samlangdon
December 22, 2012 - 2:07pm
Maybe I'm not reading something right, but KH seems to say that you can't get any of the starship skills until your character reaches tech level 6.  Although, I see some sample characters and even some NPC s in modules at have skills from knight hawks and less that technician 6.  Am I missing something?  What is the rule, and how does everyone handle it?
Thanks
These two yazarians and this vrusk walk into a bar...

Comments:

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
December 22, 2012 - 2:35pm
You need Tech 6 (and computer 2) to get Pilot, Computer 6 to get Astrogation, and Tech 4, Robotics 2 to get Engineer based on the canon rules.  Those are for the tech skills.  For the weapon skills you need Beam 6 to get Energy Weapons and Projectile 4, Gyrojet 2 to get Rocket Weapons.

Some people like to use the "Space Skills Revisited" article rules from the Star Frontiersman issue 10 (wiki version here) to allow them at lower levels.
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rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
December 22, 2012 - 3:42pm

I usually ignore the KH rules on skills and allow players to take star ship skills if that is what their character is about. Of course it does limit them greatly on any mission off of the ship.

Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 22, 2012 - 4:05pm
I pretty much consider "Spacer skills Revisited" (SFman 10), though fan cannon, to be the last word on KHs skills these days.

See this link to avoid having to open the magazine:
http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/5733
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

samlangdon's picture
samlangdon
December 22, 2012 - 7:08pm
THANKS GUYS.  I'm still going through the SF mags, hadn't got to 10 yet, but they are a wealth of info.  I'll be using that take on skills

These two yazarians and this vrusk walk into a bar...


jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 22, 2012 - 9:09pm
samlangdon wrote:
THANKS GUYS.  I'm still going through the SF mags, hadn't got to 10 yet, but they are a wealth of info.  I'll be using that take on skills



For me the two most significant articles, for playing the game, are "Spacer skills Revisited" and "A Skilled Frontier" issues #10 & #9.

Eighteen issues can be a lot to digest but you can ignore most of the equipment and such. though I'd recommend reviewing the entry level pistols from the equipment in issue #1 (particularly since you are planning to run the old modules- slotting some semi-automatic pistols and blast pistols into the hands of the pirates on Volturnus gives a good one-two step for the PCs to first aquire entry level weapons then upgrade latter to regular stuff off the AD equipment list, then again latter to something from one of the zines or from Zebs. There was an equipment article with shot guns and the entry level weapon there might be something to consider as well.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

OnceFarOff's picture
OnceFarOff
December 22, 2012 - 10:03pm
jedion357 wrote:
For me the two most significant articles, for playing the game, are "Spacer skills Revisited" and "A Skilled Frontier" issues #10 & #9.


Agreed - both of these are great resources. I personally never liked the original KH mechanic for space skills, so I went with the SFMAN #9 "A skilled frontier" rule set. It basically allows the characters to pick a space skill just as though it were any other skill (subject to PSA). It never made sense to me that someone needed to be good with a laser pistol in order to push a button on a console to fire a ship's laser battery. That's one of the nice things about KH - the system is pretty simple and therefore easy to HACK...

Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
December 22, 2012 - 10:35pm
I know one blogger who really likes the high skill requirements needed to run and operate a spaceship.


jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 22, 2012 - 11:31pm
Malcadon wrote:
I know one blogger who really likes the high skill requirements needed to run and operate a spaceship.



His arguements are true for NASA where space travel is rare and space craft are pretty pitiful by KHs standards. However, in a setting where space travel is more common and even private individuals own their own ships like the Gullwind and said ships could destroy all of the space assets of all the countries of earth in little more than an hour in a stand up battle, then I'm suspecting that spacers are as common as the ships in the setting and not the best of the best of the best- those guys are the officers in Space Fleet (though according to the book the enlisted crews of Space Fleet leave something to be desired).

EDIT: I think it works like this: when the activity is so rare and down right dangerous you have to have the best of the best of the best but when its common place and the danger level drops and you can admit the less then best of the best because the reliability of the equipment has go up an it makes up for the skill deficit.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
December 23, 2012 - 1:50am
jedion357 wrote:
I'm suspecting that spacers are as common as the ships in the setting and not the best of the best of the best- those guys are the officers in Space Fleet (though according to the book the enlisted crews of Space Fleet leave something to be desired).

EDIT: I think it works like this: when the activity is so rare and down right dangerous you have to have the best of the best of the best but when its common place and the danger level drops and you can admit the less then best of the best because the reliability of the equipment has go up an it makes up for the skill deficit.

You forget that, save for sub-space radios, SF is your classic "Age of Sails in Space." Much like in the Age of Sails, it had lots of sailors, but only a few with the skills need to run a ship.

Plus, the difference between officers and crewmen in the (UPF, militia, corporate) space fleets -- besides authority -- is that officers have the skills needed to run the ship (with KH skills), while crewmen are only skilled with the ship's systems (with AD skills of military or Technical PSA). You also don't need to know how a ship is run to own a spaceship -- you just need a crew with the right a skills to run it.

Although, I can see your point with making spaceship skills as common as a pilot's license, or even a commercial driver's license in today's world.

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
December 23, 2012 - 5:38am
Crewman vs Officer skills seem to be based on the old navies where navigation was a very difficult skill and taught only to officers who were probably the only ones with enough math education to perform this skill.

Later when the ships started to have boilers to turn wheels and screws the engineers were another group that required a very specialized skill set that was not found just anywhere.

Also during the age of sail and beginning of the steam era regular crewmen were considered rather special. If you were an experienced seaman you could expect a certain level of desrie for your skills. This is evidenced by the British Navy often keeping ships at sea for long periods of time to keep the sailors from deserting often because they couldn't pay them. Also the constant allowing of captured ship's crews to change side with little explanation and remember the War of 1812 and the impressment of sailors as one of the causes. Lastly during the Civil War while the US Army had to be convinced to allow "Negro Regiments" and paid them less than other regiments but the US Navy almost always had mixed race crews and everyone recieved equal pay. Again because the skill set was needed.

But even after all this I still think the base required skill for KH space skills is WAY to high and an additional complication to the game that I can live without.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 23, 2012 - 5:53am
I dont disagree that the designers of KHs were thinking age of sail. In the age of sail there is no assumption that the average bloke knows any math and this is a reflection on the school system in place.

I think we should be thinking more on the level of WW2 where the US military took 18-19 year old farm boys from places like Iowa and trained them in a rather short time to operate systems on naval ships like the guns and none of these boys neccessarily knew how to fire a rifle well but learned their job and did it well.

I think we need to assume there is some kind of school system in place in the Frontier that confers some math and science ability of some sort that supports the learning of star ship skills. Flush the prerequs and move on.

One exception might be that learning starship skill is fine but to land a star ship on planet also requires the skill for flying atmospheric craft. This could set up a situation where "harbor pilots" land a craft  or a planet requires "harbor pilots" be abaord for landing maneuvers but otherwise just learn the skill and go. If you've taken the piloting PSA its not like this one requirement to do this one action is going to mess you up and I think its a reasonable requirement to require this skill just for landing- a lot of pilots wont bother with learning it because they pilot ships too big to land anyway.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
December 23, 2012 - 7:06am
The harbor pilots makes sense but we have the problem that most ships can not land on a planet and must dock at a station or remain in orbit. Now these harbor pilots would primarily be shuttle pilots transporting cargo and passengers around.

The school system of the Frontier is a whole other topic. UPF would not control it and that means each planet has their own system. Depending on whether the planet is a long established one or a recent colony things would be different.

Try to imagine the differences between the Family of One controlled Hentz and the Free Thinkers of Inner Reach.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
December 23, 2012 - 4:59pm
From the looks of it, the UFP trains above-ordinary cadets to become skilled officers, before they are assigned to a ship -- even boosting basic skills to the required levels (see Knight Hawks Campaign Book). But with crewmen, they learn on the job. Militia fleets tries to attract skilled personnel (with instant commission and promotion to former UPF officers) but crewmen and offices can expect on the job training (see Clarion Royal Marines).

I have no doubt that there are schools for spaceship operations, for those who can afford them. But in most cases, I would assume that experienced (technician or marine) spacers would enter an apprenticeship for a career as an Astrogator, Engineer, Gunner or Pilot. I can see this method of training and promotion as an insensitive to stick with civilian ships, then with the UPF fleets.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
December 29, 2012 - 5:33am
Space ships in the Frontier aren't quite common but at the same time they aren't rare either. Case in point, by the second Sathar War there are ten militias and three UPF fleets to defend 27 worlds (going by AD/KH rules). Depending on the wherabouts of the roving Strike Force NOVA, that leaves 14 or 15 of those worlds left hanging out to dry in the absence of warships. Put into perspective, there weren't enough craft to defend even half of the Frontier's populated worlds.

Unlike Star Wars where ships are as common as water in an ocean --- where passage aboard a tramp freighter can afford you a ship and civilians from a remote desert world can be ace star fighter pilots  --- ships in SF are still somewhat difficult to acquire. Your basic ground car costs what it did here in the 1960s, but something like the Gullwind would easily run seven figures (rather low considering what NASA's space truck costs, but still not an easy price to pay in SF).

As such, I felt the need to get ship skills should have been more feasible than the canon rules suggest, and shortly after acquiring KH I made some house rules accordingly. Nothing cut and dry like Skilled Frontier, but I made the skills customizable in that the characters could become specialists in their field by devoting XP at lower rates toward subskills and only certain subskills are needed for the ship skills. After all you don't need to be a master of security systems and repairs to be a pilot...rather you merely need a decent foundation in operating machinery and vehicles (along with two or three of the Computer subskills at novice levels).
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Mother's picture
Mother
December 28, 2012 - 9:10pm

I think that guy nailed it perfectly in his blog as to what the game's designers were thinking when they set up the pre-requisites for KH skills. Don't get sidetracked by his NASA astronaut comments. His point was the game is based on classic sci-fi literature from the 1950s which itself was written from the point of view of the  "Right Stuff" era. In classic sci-fi, Bradburry, Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke etc., civilization is scattered throughout the galaxy yet starships (and their pilots) are relatively rare. It feels as if humanity traveled to the stars aboard giant noah's ark type starships to make a multi-generational colonization trip to distant stars. Now communication is conducted by hot shot pilots traveling between the distant stars, kind of like pony express riders. At least that is my recollection of classic sci fi. My favorite being a short story called the Cold Equation.

To carry that logic to Earth's past, the best analogy would be the Age of Exploration during the time of Columbus from the 1400s to the 1600s.  Back then European seafaring nations developed colonies around the globe that were loosely connected to the mother country by ships that might appear every few months. To the colonists it would seem like they were on an alien world, being surrounded by natives with different skin color, culture and traditions. The colony would be an odd mix of the local culture and the mother culture.  Travel by ship was much like traveling through the void, you would point your ship in the right direction and hope you reached your destination. While the the sailors were very skilled they were still at the mercy of the elements and their technology. They could easily end up in an uncharted region which would be a mis-jump in KH terms.  

I don't necessarily agree with the designer's choice in making KH skills so difficult to obtain, but I understand their reasoning.  Ships in SF are relatively rare and the technology primitive by the standards of later sci-fi like Star Wars et al. If everyone had a pilot license then the frontier would naturally be a lot bigger. Our technology today is probably within 50 years of developing most things in SF and in some things like computers we are more advanced than the canon material. My point is not to debate that but more that technology in SF is not that advanced and starships are relatively rare. That is why the frontier is relatively small compared to other sci-fi franchises. 

Another reason for downplaying the KH skills is flying starships around doesn't really make for good gaming. While the occaisional starfleet battle is fun, flying around in a starship is not as exciting in the game as it is to watch on the big screen or to read about.  I would hate to be the player stuck with a character operating a laser battery during a fleet battle. The pilot might have fun but the rest of the crew will be bored.

Just my rambling thoughts.


samlangdon's picture
samlangdon
December 28, 2012 - 9:35pm
Agree with all that, mother
These two yazarians and this vrusk walk into a bar...


rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
December 29, 2012 - 4:00am
Like to think that however once again the game proves it didn't think things through very well.

From the hideous time line we have:

19-8PF The area beyond the Greater Morass claims hundreds of exploration vessels. Though it is believed that most Frontier races came from beyond the Greater Moras, all information about their origins have been lost. Exploration of the area ceases and it is named the Vast Expanse.

That is alot of vessels in a 12 year period and this is before the UPF got together and organized things. This is also only one kind of vessel.

Also consider that we are given trade tables and charts for trading and that in the descriptions several planets are dependent on trade for their existence.

Then there are pirates. Maybe they went alittle overboard including them in so many modules but pirates are in a business that requires frequent clients. Age of Sail time we had alot of pirates in the Med. but the ones in the Caribean didn't get going until several colonies were well established. The Mayflower faced alot of problems. Pirates wasn't one of them.

Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
December 29, 2012 - 5:37am
You really can't compare data from Zeb's to AD and KH. Seriously, you can't...and it's pretty obvious the writers of said tome didn't either. Wink
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 29, 2012 - 6:58am
Shadow Shack wrote:
You really can't compare data from Zeb's to AD and KH. Seriously, you can't...and it's pretty obvious the writers of said tome didn't either. Wink
And now we have those interview notes with Eastland where he admits that he didnt like AD & KHs and wanted to take it in a Gama World direction so suddenly all the problems with Zebs kind of makes sence.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

samlangdon's picture
samlangdon
December 30, 2012 - 3:10pm
I think I am only making one small addition to A Skilled Frontier.  Adding the knight hawks skill of Astrogation to the pilot PSA. Since using a skilled frontier, then pilot skills are available out of the gate.
These two yazarians and this vrusk walk into a bar...


jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 30, 2012 - 3:37pm
samlangdon wrote:
I think I am only making one small addition to A Skilled Frontier.  Adding the knight hawks skill of Astrogation to the pilot PSA. Since using a skilled frontier, then pilot skills are available out of the gate.


I thought Astro was a science skill area skill?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

samlangdon's picture
samlangdon
December 30, 2012 - 3:59pm
It is. My bad.  It is in the science PSA and governed by space sciences, which also covers starship engineering.  My bad.  Please disregard.  
These two yazarians and this vrusk walk into a bar...


TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
December 30, 2012 - 7:22pm
Actually, I think Spaceship Engineering should also be available under the Tech PSA, not just Scientist.  I'd almost argue it belongs there instead but since the system allows skills to fall under multiple PSA's it's not really an issue.
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Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

samlangdon's picture
samlangdon
December 30, 2012 - 7:38pm
I agree Terl, that should be another path to get it.  
These two yazarians and this vrusk walk into a bar...


jedion357's picture
jedion357
December 30, 2012 - 8:43pm
I like the idea of star ship engineer skill being accessible from multiple directions- reminds me of my high school physics teacher who had taken a sabatical from teaching at Berkley and spent a year working for the Department of Defense teaching at a high school on base in Europe. Hence I had the pleasure of his class. he had a real axe to grind against engineers who according to him only could crunch formulas and had to come to Physicist to get said formulas. At first his comments were funny but after a while I zoned out after hearing the same comments over and over.

It also is reminds me of mustangs amoung the officer corp who started as enlisted.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
December 31, 2012 - 9:52am
jedion357 wrote:
At first his comments were funny but after a while I zoned out after hearing the same comments over and over.

I think that's a universal trait of all physics teachers. I had two in high school and a third in college and each one had a "signature catch phrase" that you laughed your @$$ off at first but by mid year/semester you really wanted to deck them each day they repeated it.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
January 1, 2013 - 8:28am
I hear you! The men on my father's side are engineers in one way or another. Thankfully, I did not inherit the traits that made them overly-analytical, anti-social malcontents. But that again, I also did not inherit the gene that made them highly talented engineers and musicians. =P

jedion357's picture
jedion357
January 1, 2013 - 12:15pm
Malcadon wrote:
I hear you! The men on my father's side are engineers in one way or another. Thankfully, I did not inherit the traits that made them overly-analytical, anti-social malcontents. But that again, I also did not inherit the gene that made them highly talented engineers and musicians. =P
Maybe you could be a physicist. LOL.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
January 1, 2013 - 7:22pm
jedion357 wrote:
Maybe you could be a physicist. LOL.

I'll leave that field open for those with emotional-baggage, who's primary motivation is to find a way to micromanage their own fragile phyche. Plus, I dont have the right temperament to deal with people's physiological melodrama (even though the field is made-up of mostly glorified pull-pushers).

samlangdon's picture
samlangdon
January 1, 2013 - 7:33pm
Uh, I think he said physicist....not psychiatrist.  Hehe
These two yazarians and this vrusk walk into a bar...