So I have been looking around for a good system for a Sci-Fi RPG and I think I may have found a home in Cortex. That said, I have yet to find a rule set that satisfies me when it comes to Starship Combat.
A lot of games seem to like to treat a starship like its own character: with its own stats, skills, etc. that every player is expected to play at once.
I don't really care for this approach. Each character should be doing something, with choices, rather than the Pilot rolling Pilot, and the other players each taking a gun and firing on the enemy ship. That doesn't have very much finesse, and not much is going on. It seems like most GMs avoid this sort of combat for this reason.
So, scouring about I found two systems I liked: 7th Sea, and Alternity. Both are similar enough to Cortex that I believe I can take each of their ideas and apply them seamlessly into Cortex.
These rules are still a WIP, so bear with me.
Much like characters, Starships have attributes. They are as follows:
Agility: Represents the Starship's speed and maneuverability. Thrusters and Engines.
Strength: Represents the power behind the Starship's offensive systems. Beam weapons and Missiles.
Vitality: Represents how well-put together the ship is, physically. This translates into how thick the hull is, and how well the physical components of the ship react to stress.
Alertness: Represents the quality and scope of how well the ship's sensors and targeting programs work, both inside and outside the ship.
Intelligence: Represents the quality of the ship's virtual intelligence and computational power. A high intelligence does not necessarily equate to having a true AI.
Willpower: Represent's the fortitude of the ship's power grid, and how well it moves from one system to the next. Also represents the power of the ship's shields.
Starships do not actually have skills. On it's own, without a crew, a starship is simply a collection of attributes, not capable of doing anything without a crew.
It is the crew that provides the skills. They do this by being in certain locations on the ship called stations. Each station allows a crew member to lend his skill die to the rolls of the ship.
These stations are usually manned by the player characters. Sometimes, however, the stations can be manned by NPC crew, or the ship's VI. In this context, the NPC Crew is a collection of nameless NPCs who work aboard the ship, but have few notable skills. The ship's NPC Crew and VI are usually rated around d2 or d4, or rarely D6 for exceptional examples.
The GM may introduce named NPC's on the ship with their own skills to bring to bear, but these NPC's are not what is referred to as the NPC Crew.
The stations are:
The command station is the central hub of the entire ship. From the command station, a character can coordinate and issue commands to the entire ship.
-A discipline roll can be used to provide a 1 step bonus, or more, to one station, or more on their next roll. (I don't have the difficulties worked out yet.)
-In combat, the Commander can attempt to out strategize his opponent. Make an opposed roll against an enemy commander's discipline skill. If the roll is successful, he may give one enemy station a 1 step penalty to it's next roll.
-The Command station can also be used to take control of another of the ship's stations, while possibly locking out whoever may be there.
-In an emergency, the Command station can even lock down all stations, or perform drastic measures such as initiating a self-destruct sequence.
Note: Without a PC or a significant NPC to take the role of Commander, this station cannot be used. VI's are completely incapable of commanding a ship, and the NPC Crew that some ships are equipped with are typically not command material.
Title: Helmsman, Pilot
The Pilot's station provides all of the ships navigational information, and provides controls for the ships sublight drives. This is also the station which activates and directs the star drive.
-The Helm provides movement to the ship. Without a Helmsman, the ship will simply drift in space. VI's can function as the ship's autopilot, but it is rarely capable of more than routine maneuvers, such as liftoff, landing, or maintaining orbit.
-Dodging in a ship works much like it does normally. Without spending special effort to dodge, a ship gets it's innate defense, which is it's agility. Otherwise the helmsman can dodge as a reaction, and roll the ship's agility + pilot.
-The pilot can also move to make offensive maneuvers as well, rolling his pilot skill to provide a bonus to the Weapons station. (much like the commander. Again, I don't have the difficulties for these actions worked out.)
Title: Communications Specialist, Comm Spec
The Communications station (also known as "The Comm") monitors the traffic sent on all known communication frequencies. This station also is equipped with the capability to interfere with those frequencies, and even insinuate itself into those frequencies.
-The Comm provides means for the ship to communicate with the outside world.
-The Comm can jam enemy communications with an opposed roll.
-The Comm can reflexively be used to defend against having their communications jammed.
-The Comm can also decode encrypted data.
-In Combat, the Comm can be used to interfere with the enemy ship's computer systems. By making opposed rolls, The Comm can levy step penalties against enemy ships, or even shut down enemy stations.
Title: Sensors Specialist
The sensors form the eyes, ears, skin, nose and tongue of the ship.
-Having someone stationed at the Sensors station enables the ship to make Perception checks to notice things. Without someone stationed here, the ship can still see, but small details may go unnoticed.
-The Sensors station can also provide valuable targeting information in combat to the Weapons station. A high enough Perception check can provide a step bonus to the Weapons station.
The Engineering station is the lifeblood of the ship; it is the Engineer that keeps the ship together while it is under stress.
-The Engineer can recover damage to the ship's shields (stun damage).
-The Engineer can also attempt to recover damage to the ship's hull (wound damage) but this is much more difficult.
Skill: Heavy Weapons
Title: Weapons Specialist
In times of conflict, the Weapons Specialist takes the fight to their foes.
-Lasers do stun damage, as these weapons are best used to disable the ship's shields. Against the hull they are nearly useless.
-Missiles do wound damage, but will explode uselessly against activated shields.
-Plasma cannons do basic damage, and for this reason are much feared.
The Science station is rarely used in combat. Some starships do not have a science station at all. Most warships, and very few trade vessels have these capabilities. However, most ships dedicated toward exploration of the galaxy have one of these.
-The Science station performs miscellaneous functions on the ship. It has no predetermined function in combat.
-The science station is typically used when analyzing strange data from anomalies that the Sensors have picked up.
-By working with the GM, the Scientist may be able to design and use prototype technology with limited application. The Science station could be used to escape dangerous anomalies, weaken otherwise invulnerable space creatures, or other threats, given enough time.