Knight Hawks is still very playable

Putraack's picture
February 13, 2015 - 9:49pm
... not that I needed to tell anyone here that, of course. Wink

I had been running a Traveller campaign when the players and I decided to bring things to a conclusion with a massive space battle-- a Pearl Harbor-style preemptive assault on an Aslan gathering planet. I'd already grown dissatisfied with the Traveller (Mongoose) space combat rules, and didn't want to think about doing something with dozens of ships on a side. I kicked around a few ideas about converting to another system, dragged my feet, and eventually settled on using Knight Hawks. My conversions were simple, lasers = lasers, missiles = missiles, 50 tons of ship = 1 hull size, and off I went.

It wasn't perfect, but it was workable. Each player got a different faction, with as many ships as I could cram onto a sheet of graph paper or two. The critical-hit-heavy style of KH rules sometimes put ships out of action pretty quickly, and that was a plus, since there were so many, and more rising off the planet all the time. We never finished the fight, but got to where the Aslan had lost all their big ships, and the player-pirates had more than enough ships surviving to mop up the rest.  All agreed that it worked, and it was fun .

I thought it was a good way to hang up my GM hat for a while.

jedion357's picture
February 14, 2015 - 6:00pm
I played KHs with the kids at the wargaming club- and got a lot of questions about was it something I wrote? People were curious.

I also talked on line (by email i think) with a guy who played both KHs and Full Thrust from GZG and he said he liked KHs for bigger battles. He also said he and friends recreated a WW2 naval battle with KHs just substituting KHs ships by class carrier=Carrier etc. and that it was a blast.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 18, 2015 - 8:12pm
Few things can get drawn out more than a single ship to ship Traveller encounter. While realistic, I simply would not want to try any sort of fleet action with those rules.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

Abub's picture
February 26, 2015 - 1:57pm
how is traveler different than KH?  I wish KH had more of a character involvement than it does.... is traveler more like that or is it just bogged down with math?

I just finished my turn at the GM seat sunday with my SF game.  My UPFSF characters finally got to go toe to toe with a Sathar frigate and my players grumble at "not being able to shoot first" really in KHs.  I had them roll initiative in the first round which i know isn't in the rules, but them having won they were annoyed that the sathar still get to fire defensive shots first.

Oh well, they will get over that little detail, they had fun anyways.

Putraack's picture
February 26, 2015 - 6:11pm
I was playing with some fan-added elements, but I think SF characters have at least as many, maybe a few more, skill-based things to do with space combat than in Trav, or at least Mongoose Traveller.

Pilots can aid the gunners' shots, and/or evade enemy fire
Gunner's skills can affect to-hit rolls (Traveller, can shoot at incoming missiles)
Sensor operators can try to jam incoming missiles
Traveller: captain can affect initiative and boost other bridge crew actions
engineers can attempt repairs

That's all off the top of my head. Both games use skills at levels 1-6, so that much is easily convertable.

In Traveller, a ship's armor can negate some hit damage, which added to some of the drawn-out nature of combat. I was a bit unhappy that movement is so abstracted, it was a pain to keep track of range between more than 2 ships, relative to each other-- I wanted a hex-map!

Abub: well, if it was that important, they could have ended their move outside enemy range, and waited for the Sathar to come to them!

Jedion: Full Thrust was a very close second in my mass-battle conversion list, but KH was easier to make up ship displays on a sheet of graph paper. Also, since I could photocopy the back cover of KH, with the various combat tables all on the same page, that made it seem easier to teach.

Abub's picture
February 27, 2015 - 5:56am
That reminds me i need to write down my synergy house rules i was using.  I tried to let people come up with anything they can do to help each other get a percent bonus on things.  Like the pilot's aid to gunner shot, i let that be for all guns not just forward fire, but more than that I would let any player do something to aid any other player(s).  As a general rule I did this, 3% if helping multiple people or 6% if helping only one person per each ten percent of success they rolled on whatever relavent skill/attribute.  So if the engineer boosts power to the lazer cannon then they could make it more accurate but rolling on thier engineering skill.  The captain spent most of the battle giving orders and inspiring words using his leadership.  (Basically my rule for leadership was that the person had to actually be in command of what you are doing).  In one session I even had the ship doctor roll to have an effect from prior healthcare... so the bonuses are very meta.

So I was trying to get as much involvement from all the players.  Perhaps my next time at running I will try and write down more of this since it was mostly fudgery GMing fiat at the table.  Perhaps I need to do something where skills give a higher bonus than attribute roles.

Also, I have also let them aid in none percent success ways as GM judgements.

Shadow Shack's picture
Shadow Shack
February 27, 2015 - 2:44pm
Abub wrote:
how is traveler different than KH?  

Based on the boxed set rulebook (IIRC "Book 2: Starships")

Movement is based on vectors, you basically have to draw out a huge map on the floor to track movement. You get to add an inch of vector movement for every G of acceleration that the ship has and you use a protractor to track everything. The combat tables are streamlined but you really can't blow up basically just shoot at each other until one or the other is disabled. And you can shoot all day at a disabled target but it won't expand in that satisfying cloud of its own hot gas. For one-on-one encounters it's decent but like I said I wouldn't want to be the one responsible for tracking a fleet versus fleet encounter.
I'm not overly fond of Zeb's Guide...nor do I have any qualms stating why. Tongue out

My SF website

RanulfC's picture
February 27, 2015 - 5:15pm
KH is very playable still yet I actually wanted to LIKE Traveller combat more but had neither the room nor inclination to do more than try a couple of "actual" games of it. (One took an unused ballroom floor for a 20 ships on each side battle, fun but not something you can "play" during an RPG session easily)

On the other hand Traveller, Star Fleet Battles, and Starfire were the only "starship" combat games I had exeriance with when I first picked up SF. Without starship rules those were my choices if I was going to "intergrate" a spaceship game with the original rules.
1)As noted Traveller didn't have rules for tabletop gaming unless you happened to have a copy of "Triplanetary" available to you so. And the "generic" battel play was geared towards large static encounters of the "Trillion Credit Squadron" variety. Not what I was looking for.
2)SFB was, well, Star Treck not Star Frontiers and didn't lend itself to battles of the ucoming Second Sather war without some major changes I didn't want to do. Beside I LIKED the idea of a semi-vector or realistic type spaceship game.
3)Lastly "Starfire" was NOT a PC/RPG type game. If you don't know it look up David Weber's Starfire books and have fun they are great reads BUT no PC in anything LESS than a Light Cruiser will survive combat! Starfire is a game of FLEET battles and they do NOT kid about that. When I was playing it pretty regularly it was nothing to gen up a 100+ ship fleet per side and be done in an hours or so.

Before KH came out I toyed with the idea of ships NOT being run by PCs at all. Not sure if I got the idea from "Aliens" (though I suspect not) but I came up with the idea of computer controlled ships that the PCs just rode in from star to star. I retconned it later to fit into a somewhat "future history" I was writing for SF that had "self contained" starships a couple of hundered years down the road that allowed a universe like that written by Robert Cham Gilman (Rebel of Rhada, etc) where a collapsed society at a Medieval tech level society has access to starships....

But KH came out and while it initally satisfied my needs the ships weren't "quite" up to what I needed. Then I found "Full Thrust" which much more suited my tastes and I've been converting ever since. Of course converting BACK for others use is a bit more problematical :)

Such as "bioships" of the Suvasku (FT) to Zurraquor ships for KH...