Hull damage and breaches

Abub's picture
November 21, 2013 - 1:27pm
So I'm thinking about how I'm gonna run my big ship battle and I'm considering having hull damage handled ever so slightly differently. 

The rules have you take hull damage and just subtract from you hull points as a big pool

I'm thinking of asking the players (likely the chief engineer) to record each hit by deducting the main hull points but also keeping a list of hits and their damagages and I'll have to give each a location somehow. I would then let each "wound" be able to be treated with repairs via damage control or engineering skill meaning they might get to repair multiple d10s worth of hull damage if they split up the effort. 

Also I was thinking I could use this to inject hull breach situations when any wound is over some number. I've not decided that number yet maybe over 10 hull points?  Also this would allow for them to use potitioning to present the undamaged side of the ship toward the attacker or maybe let the pilot roll to cause additional hits from adding to prior damaged locations. 

Part of this is concerned with creating action for the non-gunners/pilots. 

I'm also intending to work out something to let me engineer players have something to do each round instead of them saying what they are fixing and having to wait three rounds to get to roll any dice or be able to feel their impact. Still working on this... Early ideas is to let them spend the damage control points each round and their skill bonus but require three successes to fix any one thing?  I'm interested in other ideas

I really want to get to a point where each player is engaged and feels they help to pull the boat toward success. Even the ship doctor somehow. 

Abub's picture
November 22, 2013 - 11:47am
I'm honing in on this as my method to handle ship damage.... any opinions on how this will work would be appreciated.  I'm looking for ways to engage more players on a ship during a fight but let me know if you think this is too complicated.

Each round spend all the DCR and Engineering Skill Bonus but each repair project requires 3 successes to be completed.  Each section or “hit location” can be repaired as a separate project and a fully completed repair project to any section fixes 1d10 worth of hull damage.  This means that it might be possible to repair more than 1d10 to the whole ship if it is wearing multiple damaged sections.  These three successes do not need to be consecutive so prior successes on a project are not lost on a failed roll or if the crew has to be temporarily redirected to other prioirties.

Record each amount of damage against the main hull points and also record damage to specific hit locations (alternately you could record just the hit locations if you can manage the mental addition)

There are nine Hit locations or Sections are combinations of : Port (left), Starboard (right), Topside (top) or Bottomside (bottom) combined with Aft(back  or rear), Bow (front) or Amidships (middle).  So for example the right of the bridge deck would most likely be the Bow Port, the bottom of the ship by the bridge would be Bow Bottomside.  Orientation of the ship’s Bottomside is considered the facing where it would dock at a space station.   

Damage to a certain location indicate a hull breach if in that section of the ship for each whole 15 hull points.  This has to be whole damages amounts of 15 not fractions thereof.  So 14 hull points of damage to the Aft Port section of the ship indicates no breach but a single addition point causes a breach.  Similarly 31 hull points of damage would open two decks to space.  Based on the decks in that section of the ship during a breach pick or randomly roll which decks are exposed to space.  Additional breaches beyond the first should start exposing decks adjacent to the already exposed level.  If only on deck occupies that section of the ship (such as a large cargo bay  or decks on a smaller ship) then the existing breach just gets bigger with little addition impact besides of course the additional hull damage.


Jaxon's picture
November 22, 2013 - 7:15pm
Yes, but, small ships would not have breaches - an Assault Scout only has 15 HP. What about a smaller number or a percentage. Ex: if 5, 8 or 10 HP of damage (pick one) was inflicted, an explosive decompression has resulted. 

Ex: an Assault Scout gets hit in the bow, topside (bridge) for 6 points of damage (resulting in a weapon hit - LB) and aft, bottomside (cargo hold) for 5 points (normal hit). 

The bridge was just vented and the laser battery taken out. The crew needs to make a DEX check to see if they were ejected into space if they were on the bridge. Were the crewmen were suits? Yes, then they survive. No....well this is up to the GM. What happens to the controls? Communication, piloting, navigation? With a hit like this the crew would scramble to regain control as it would drift on its last heading until control was regained.

The cargo hold has lost any cargo not tied down. This would not be important...unless you just threw your spare toolkit in the hold or the Captain's extra spacesuit. 

The holes may be small - say 2'x2'. Do the DCR teams have a peace of hull that 3'x3'? The suction would hold it and they could weld it into place. This would be a temporary patch. If the hole is really large 10'x10' +, the ship may need to wait until it gets back to a SCC for repairs.

Abub's picture
November 22, 2013 - 8:34pm
Yea originally I was thinking of using 10HPs but moved it up to 15 in this most recent version. I liked the idea of it being a constant for simplicity. 

Alternate idea was to rewrite the damage control table to add hull damage with breach into the space the two hull point results are at. Even if I did that I would still want to track each ship section seperately. 


So you are thinking it should be based on a % of the ships hull.  My game's UFPSF frigate has the normal 40 HPs and I was originally thinking ten would indicate a breach so maybe 25% the ship's hull points?  On bigger ships that might make them nearly immune to getting breaches. Maybe that is fine but I guess I just like the idea of a destroyer still fighting with a few smoking holes in it.  Perhaps it doesn't need to be flying Swiss cheese though, so maybe you % based approach would work. Assault scouts would breach from a scratch though (3-4 HPs).

Hmm. Maybe a flat ten HPs is the right number but I'm concerned with real big ships getting Swiss-cheesed. 


Abub's picture
November 22, 2013 - 8:43pm
I can't multiply appearently. There are 12 hit locations or sections of a ship not nine as I have written. 

Jaxon's picture
November 22, 2013 - 9:20pm
You can make a hull breach when a hit results in nothing; ex: 75-77 Defense Hit: PS, ES, SS, MS, ICM.
If this hits a freighter that has only a RH then it could be a breach.

Abub's picture
November 22, 2013 - 9:30pm
Interesting idea. 

I wonder how frequent that would make them?

TerlObar's picture
November 23, 2013 - 8:19am
It would make hull breaches much more common on the smaller ships as they have fewer of the other systems to get hit. 

Another option would be to base it on the hull size of the ship.  Say 5 points or the hull size in damage which ever is larger.  Although I don't really like that much.

I think your idea of a constant value is good.  I'd probably go with 10 points.  On a HS 1 or 2 ship, you don't get breaches, you just destroy the ship.  As the ship gets bigger, there are more places to hit and expose to space without destroying the ship.

I'd also rule that the damage has to all occur in a single hit.  And maybe even downgrade the number of points needed to 7 or 8.  So a laser battery, electron battery, or proton battery that only does a d10 typically doesn't result in major hull breaches but the larger energy weapons and all the rocket weapons typically do punch a hole in the ship.  Which kind of makes sense if you think about it.

Technically, every hit results is a breach unless you're mounting all your systems outside the hull but you could argue that hits that damage equipment don't penetrate to the crew sections so only the hull hits result in the kind of breaches you're trying to simulate.
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Jaxon's picture
November 23, 2013 - 8:48am
75 - 84 are defensive hits and 61 - 70 are weapon like 20% of the time.

Sargonarhes's picture
November 23, 2013 - 2:30pm
I thought the rule book already established it was common sense for every one onboard to put on a space suit when a ship goes into battle. Also could have sworn the hull was depresurized to prevent the explosive decompression and crew being blown into space in the first place.

Thinking of it, every Gundam series I've seen when going into battle every one puts on a space suit.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

Jaxon's picture
November 23, 2013 - 6:54pm
The article states:

Precautionary Decompression
Most starships require all passengers to don spacesuits before a fight, and then depressurize the interior of the ship. This prevents violent decompression due to battle damage or boarding attempts. //KHE, pg 36//

The key is most ships - not all. So this is to resolve the other 10% that do not follow this procedure; example ~ a spaceliner (HS:10) with 250 passengers is going to have 250+ spacesuits? Other vessels, freighters, mining ships, militia ships etc; it makes sense to have a spacesuit for each person onboard but, at a cost 1,000 -1,500 cr. each suit, it may be expensive for a spaceliner.

Jaxon's picture
November 23, 2013 - 10:19pm
Abub - FYI. I find this in an old article...

In the STAR FRONTIERS® game, starship

combat is played out using the Knight

Hawks board-game system. Players in

campaigns centered around a starship, like

those concerning exploration missions,

often find that starship combat is a time

when they hang up their characters and

concentrate solely on the dice. Here are

some suggestions to liven up combat and

bring characters out of the background.

In the Knight Hawks game, starship combat has two phases, movement and

combat, with each side taking turns in a

fixed order to perform its actions. Instead,

a more flexible initiative system is in order.

Initiative should be dependent on several

factors: the maneuver ratings (MR) of the

ships, the pilots. initiative modifiers, and

the gunners. initiative modifiers. To determine

the starship initiative modifier, find

the ship on each side with the highest MR.

Add the initiative modifier of either the

pilot or the gunner (whichever score is

higher) to the ship.s MR. The total is the

starship.s initiative modifier. Repeat this

for as many combatants as needed. Then

each side rolls 1d10 and adds the initiative

modifier. The highest resulting number

becomes side A, the first side to move, and

the sequence of play in the Knight Hawk.s

Tactical Operations Manual, page 3, is

followed thereafter.

After three turns in the advanced Knight

Hawks game, there is a repair turn. This

does not mean that the starships have

disengaged and decided to start repairs,

but it instead shows the culmination of

efforts over the past three turns. For a

more realistic approach, let repair rolls be

made at the end of each combat turn. Of

course, if the engineer starts work on one

project, then another problem requires

more attention a few turns later, the character

will be faced with some interesting

dilemmas. To have the engineer use his

DCR rating, he must maintain work on a

damaged system for three turns. If he

tem difficulties, ending in a quick death

for the PCs and the loss of their expensive

starship. The modified damage table with

this article was developed to take into

account other systems that could be damaged

in combat. Some of this damage may

not be immediately threatening, but it

could cause trouble later on. The new

results in the modified table are explained


Ship.s boats: This hit disables one of the

following, selected by 1d10 roll: 1-2, life

boat; 3-4, launch; 5-6, workpod; 7, shuttle

(if an assault carrier is hit, score the hit

against a fighter); 8, fighter; 9-10, escape


Crew casualties: Casualties depend on

hull size and, to some extent, ship type. In

any case, a single hit cannot reduce the

crew to less than half of the last turn.s

total (to save PCs). Below is a table of hull

sizes and the number of crewmen and

passengers that can be lost.


HS          Crew lost


1-2:         1

3-4:         1-5

5-7:         1-10

8-10:       2-20 (if an assault transport or passenger

liner is hit, 20-200 are lost

11-14:    3-30

15-18:    5-50 (if an assault carrier is hit, 10-

100 are lost

19-20:    10-100


Cargo hit: One hull unit of random cargo

is lost.

Drive hit, fuel loss: The fuel storage has

been damaged. On atomic-drive ships, one

engine has lost 1-5 fuel pellets. Ion-drive

ships lose one-quarter of their stored

hydrogen. Chemical-drive ships lose half

their fuel.

Internal systems hit: This hit could affect

combat performance but will more likely

be a nuisance after the battle. The internal

systems that can be hit are (roll 1d10):

1-2. Elevator: The emergency ladders

will have to be used, so travel time

between decks is doubled.

3-4. Food service: No food can be served

from the galley as the food dispensers

have been disabled.

5-6. Cameras: Internal cameras have


7-8. Robots: Computer robot links are

down, so robots will not respond to computer

commands. This hit may not show

itself for quite a while, until someone

breaks into the ship and the security

robots fail to investigate.

9-10. Intercoms: Internal ship communication

is down.

Life support hit: This hit gradually incapacitates

the life support system. On the

first hit, the main life support.s capacity is

reduced by half. The second hit knocks it

out completely. The same progression is

followed for the backup units.

Computer hit: This hit can be a real

menace. First, determine at random which

mainframe was hit. Good starship designers

have a network of mainframes to

prevent the destruction of all the computer

programs at once. After determining

the mainframe hit, randomly destroy one

of the programs in that mainframe.

Modified Advanced Game Damage Table



die roll                    Type of damage


.20-05                    Hull hit: Double normal damage by weapon type

06-10                     Ship.s boats *

11-20                     Crew casualties *

21-25                     Cargo hit*

26-45                     Hull hit: Normal damage by weapon type

46-48                     Drive hit: Lose 1 ADF

49-51                     Drive hit: Lose half of the total ADF (round up)

52                           Drive hit: Lose entire ADF

53                           Drive hit: Fuel loss*

54-57                     Steering hit: Lose 1 MR point

58-59                     Steering hit: Lose entire MR

60                           Steering hit: Continue current course indefinitely

61-62                     Weapon hit: LC; LB; PB; EB; AR; RB; LP* *

63-64                     Weapon hit: PB; EB; LB; RB; T; AR; MM* *

65-66                     Weapon hit: DC; LC; AR; T; LB; FB* *; SM* *

67-68                     Weapon hit: T; AR; EB; PB; LB; RB; TB* *

69-70                     Weapon hit: LB; RB; T; AR; PB; EB; LC

71-72                     Internal systems hit *

73                           Soda machine* * *

74                           Power short circuit: Lose all screens and ICMs

75-77                     Defense hit: PS; ES; SS; MS; ICM; ENS* *

78-81                     Defense hit: MS; ICM; SS; PS; ES; MF* *

82-84                     Defense hit: ICM; SS; PS; ES; MS; ENS* *

85-87                     Combat control system hit: - 10% on all attacks

88-90                     Life support hit*

91                           Computer hit *

92-96                     Navigation hit: Lose all maneuvering control, moving at random

97                           Holo games * * *

98-105                   Electrical fire: Roll additional damage at +20 each turn

106-115                                 Damage control hit: DCR cut in half

116                         Steam baths * * *

117-120                                 Disastrous fire: DCR cut in half; lose entire ADF and MR; - 10% on all

attacks; roll damage at +20 each turn


Any hit that cannot be applied is treated as a normal hull hit.

* This effect is described in the text.

* * All of these abbreviations are based on the weapons and defenses given in Gus

Monter.s article, .An Interstellar Armory," in DRAGON® issue #115. The abbreviations

are as follow: LP = laser piston; MM = maxi-missile; FB = fusion bomb; SM

= screen mine; TB = tractor beam; ENS = energy shield; MF = masking field. If

this article is not available, ignore these results.

* * * These areas can be hit only once. Subsequent hits here are treated as normal

hull hits.

Abub's picture
November 24, 2013 - 8:31am
interesting... I had not considered having crew or internal systems being able to to be immedient cassualties 

In Star Trek they use plasma from the warp core as the power source for everything that travels through basically duct work that runs everywhere on the ship.  I guess this is supposed to be much more powerful than electricty but it has the morbidly comical side effect of making every console a potential death trap when the ship gets damaged.  I'd hate to have to involk something like that to explain crew injuries or deaths... but crew injuries would be a good thing for the medical staff (as in to give them involvement in the battle).  I could use that to say those crew were knocked around and NPCs getting hurt are always hurt bad enough to have to require medical attention while PCs just take damage but can still stay in the fight.

Was this table in a SFman or FE?  I'm trying to keep the "House Rules" to a minimum but this table might be something I wanna use.

Would you think fuel pellets can explode if even minorly?  How big is a pellet do you think?  I'd imagine that chemical drives have solid fuel.  I'm wondering if after a battle some effort might be able to be taken to recollect some of the lost fuel via work pods?  I guess that would require the ship not having been moving due to the scale of hexes.


Sargonarhes's picture
November 24, 2013 - 11:44am
Jaxon wrote:

73                           Soda machine* * *

Oh God no! Not the soad machine! That's no way to fight a war.

Ok a starliner would likely not have space suits for all it's passengers, but I'll bet first class passengers would get them. The rest of you lot take refuge in any available life boat or pod, which the first class passengers have already occupied with their space suits.

Actually I just find it strange in SF a space suit costs only 200 credits more than a laser rifle. In basic terms when your life is concerned they are cheap. In our real world a space suit costs more than your average car.
In every age, in every place, the deeds of men remain the same.

iggy's picture
November 24, 2013 - 3:39pm
Sargonarhes wrote:
Actually I just find it strange in SF a space suit costs only 200 credits more than a laser rifle. In basic terms when your life is concerned they are cheap. In our real world a space suit costs more than your average car.

Space suits cost so much now because we make so few of them.  They are pretty much all custom made.  We can assume that in SF they are vastly more common and thus mass produced and cheaper.

Referencing the cost of a laser rifle is good.  Space suits should be more available to starliner passengers.

Abub's picture
November 24, 2013 - 3:53pm
Sargonarhes wrote:
Jaxon wrote:

73                           Soda machine* * *

Oh God no! Not the soad machine! That's no way to fight a war.


I thought that was odd to have on there also... on my military ship they will not have a soda machine but maybe that result should be triple hull damge with an automatic breach and also primary or seconardary life support system is knocked offline... you know, to make it equal to the soda machine loss.


Jaxon's picture
November 24, 2013 - 8:09pm
ok, Dragon - August 1988 page 64-65 by Richard M. Hinds. I know, I know - soda machine - but I didn't wirte the article! LOL :)

Jaxon's picture
November 24, 2013 - 8:14pm
Would you think fuel pellets can explode if even minorly?  
Being that it is radioactive - I hope not! I don't explode them. They either are burned out, tainted or lost in space.
How big is a pellet do you think?  
Don't know. 
I'd imagine that chemical drives have solid fuel.  I'm wondering if after a battle some effort might be able to be taken to recollect some of the lost fuel via work pods?  I guess that would require the ship not having been moving due to the scale of hexes.
It is possible but, with one hex equaling a 10,000 km area - it would be difficult. The amount you recover would be very small ~ 1-5%. For an ion craft it is easier to crunch up an asteroid.

TerlObar's picture
November 24, 2013 - 8:40pm
As to size:
"KH Campaign Book, p13" wrote:
A pellet of atomic fuel is a 10 cm diameter piece of radioactive material, either plutonium or uranium.

And that is the fuel consumed to make one jump, at the rate of one pellet per engine.
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Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
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Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
November 25, 2013 - 6:09am
Abub wrote:
Would you think fuel pellets can explode if even minorly?  How big is a pellet do you think? 

Here's some quick readng that might shed some light on it.

I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Tchklinxa's picture
November 25, 2013 - 8:14am

73                           Soda machine* * *

LOL as funny as it sounds that would make a lot of people upset in RL (often the only way to get a break is "a smoke and coke", even non-smokers will have cigs to get break time in RL)... other humor based on real life... damaged duct area was secret hiding place for all the hot sauce, which has now spread through the ship's life support system...  on real ships food is often hidden in ducts and other nooks common item is various brands of hot sauce, peanut butter & jelly (anyone who has helped with the containers of meat being loaded that are clearly stamped with "not fit for human consumption" sneaks as much peanut butter and jelly on board they can... and finds places to store it), various trade food (Oreo cookies, m&m's for example) and trade items like cigs and lighters... so think about what would be "minor" but upsetting if destroyed or even problematic if leaked around future wise products... other damage control ideas imagine if the water supply became radioactive on a ship, no baths & can only drink what ever they have in bottled water or sodas: if the ship is big the ship's store is gone: food Kitchen/Mess hall damaged, possibly no food supply: Forget the food, No Coffee! The Still the Doc or Engineer made is ruined... no cocktails, all could be a problem.

I wonder what would happen if a ship accidentally ran into fuel pellets or other leaked fuel, old battle sites could be dangerous? Maybe the older the more dirty the site is, less efficient engines... Not sure if I really want to worry about this, but it could be useful to create a random situation, which is a survival storyline.

 "Never fire a laser at a mirror."

jedion357's picture
November 25, 2013 - 8:16am
I think you could go for reactor melt down like that Russian sub movie K something or China syndrom. There is also the "hyper-ignite" from KHs but I think that is limited to just lift off.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Abub's picture
November 25, 2013 - 9:32am
Well, hopefully I don't overmatch them to the point they actually lose the ship... but SF combat seems to be a harsh teacher including KH's.  I don't want to make it a cake walk as the bad guys are very well funded due to the operation the PCs will discover so I don't think they will be flying around in paper tigers.

My plan is to have the enemy ships come at them in two waves so I can gauge the damage/matchup from wave one before hitting them with wave two.


Jaxon's picture
November 25, 2013 - 10:37am
Just remember - you as the GM, you have the magic wand!

"Yes, I know your ship blew up but, the 6 of you crammed yourselves into 3 escap pods and they landed 20 minutes later on the planet below."

You can ...bend things to insure the story continues and is fun. If it is not fun or interesting, the players loose interest.

Abub's picture
November 25, 2013 - 11:22am
Hey I found this table minus the soda machine entry on 73 and with different wording on a few items in SFman 19 pg 45.  

Jaxon's picture
November 25, 2013 - 6:16pm

Jaxon's picture
November 25, 2013 - 6:17pm
You could use a crew hit or cargo hit for a decompression...Money mouth

jedion357's picture
November 26, 2013 - 5:40am
I think almost any hit in combat is likely to decompress part of the ship.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 26, 2013 - 1:56pm
Yes unless it hits something specific - life boat, laser battery, etc.

jedion357's picture
November 26, 2013 - 3:22pm
jedion357 wrote:
I think almost any hit in combat is likely to decompress part of the ship.
Ooops I was thinking in terms of real world space craft which are really fragile. KHs craft would be or should be much more durable especially since you can use mag boots on the hull. However anything that breaches the hull and causes damage is still very likely to ruin the integrity of the hull in that area and require patching and testing for leaks after a battle. In fact this is likely to prove a major chore for any ship after a battle to repressurize with all air lock doors shut and see which sections hold air. The a large portion of the crew spends their time running down and sealing the myriad of leaks till all deck hold air pressure.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Jaxon's picture
November 27, 2013 - 10:56pm
True but, there is a lot of equipment on the outside, LB, MS (maybe a ruptured water tank) or an engine that is damaged (-1 or 1.2 ADF). So it is possible for a ship to not have a leak, granted any hull hit - most likey would be a leak. But, I like Abub's point - the Engineer tracks where and how much. One hit from a LC on deck 3 of an Assault Scout would hit the Crew Deck (break area). It would not affect operations or a crewman going to sleep. It may be rations and a wet washcloth for a bath for a few days.