Tyr felt the sudden tug of acceleration transmitted through his seat as the last of his torpedoes catapulted free. He pulled the fighter’s controls sharply, centring the targeting marks squarely on his opponent’s wing. A smile broke his stoic expression as he spoke over the open channel,
"A foolish evasion Robert, we have met too many times for me to fall for such an obvious tactic. You have become far too predictable"
"My mistake. I will miss you Tyr. Salute!"
Tyr pressed the twin trigger beneath his finger, globules of energy splattered across the target’s defensive screen and ripped into the wing. Robert’s colourful fighter shuddered and began to tumble as the torpedo explosions scattered fiery debris in all directions. Tyr watched the dying blossom of light for a moment and held his palm against the overhead canopy, whispering, "Salute."
Skirting the edge of the former Imperial Core, a solitary planetary system has existed in a state of elaborate war since the Brood invasions. Isolated from regular external contact, encircled by Brood clutch worlds, noble descendants of the Academies of Modestinus wage personal war in the cold vacuum of space. What makes this conflict unique is that all combat has become an elaborate ritual, a battle among the officers, a game to pilots, and a "gentleman’s" war.
The following material requires the basic rules of Silent Death: The Next Millennium and is a campaign base for players who wish to engage in singular, or smaller multiple-fighter combat. The basic background of the campaign, codes of warrior combat, the rituals of fighter combat, and new initiative "dog fighting" rues are contained below. Players can add the stylized combat system into their own campaigns to produce pilots, or the system can be used in place of the all-too-familiar quick game of Silent Death.
The former Imperial system of Modestinus served as a military training Academy for the Emperor’s Millennium Warriors. The Imperial sanction of Modestinus I, Emperor (Imp 123) created the Academies Of Modestinus - an entire planetary system converted to a school, training centre, dormitories, and repository for nearly all Millennium Warriors. The Millennium Warriors served as the Emperor’s personal elite force of fighters, and were reputed to be the most fearsome and loyal pilots in the former Imperium. Service in a Millennium Warrior regiment was for 1000 years, kept in cryogenic storage until required by the Emperor, and returned there once the enemies were utterly destroyed.
During the invasion of the Grubs, nearly all Millennium Warriors were called into service, and entirely wiped out. The Academies of Modestinus were left completely undefended as the Brood overrun the Imperial Core. Since the Academies bore no threat to the invaders, the system was spared from total destruction. Surviving undergraduates, officers, instructors, and support staff managed to reconstruct a society and flourish and the Academies were rebuilt from the rubble. However, the entire Imperial Core was completely infested by Brood clutch worlds, and the Academies were isolated from the rest of the galactic arm.
The entire surviving population of Modestinus were remnants of Millennium Warriors, scholars, students, instructors, and support staff. Millennium Warriors were hand chosen from the cream of the provincial houses. As such, they represented a disproportionate amount of upper nobility and were the pinnacle of the social/ political status. The entire society became parallel to that of an Ivy League Campus. After the survivors rebuilt the necessary support structure to sustain life, the "nobility" of the society became fractured and aggressive. Alliances around prominent individuals quickly ensued, and division of power became commonplace around dynamic former upperclassmen. The Academies continued to function, churning out new students of Millennium Warriors whose learned aggression and militaristic tendencies needed an outlet. To this day, "students" of the Academies ally themselves to a faction immediately after "graduation". Former classmates and friends become bitter enemies when these allegiances conflict along personal preferences and followings.
However, the strong sense of noblesse oblige prevails among the former classmates, creating the highly artificial conflicts existing today. The population of Modestinus is foremost one of Nobility, whose strong moral code dictates the code of conduct of nearly every inhabitant. Honour, nobility, and fierce loyalty are foremost the highest qualities expressed by combatants.
The Battles of Modestinus
When the Academies were rebuilt, dynamic leaders created strong encampments of aggressive, warlike students who quickly rallied behind the banner of one of several former Upperclassmen. These highly motivated individuals sought to release the Academy training of every student in singular Fighter combat. All conflicts are fought in the only method for which they were trained, pilot-to-pilot, warrior-to-warrior, and noble-to-noble.
Every combatant, or Void Warrior as they refer to themselves, is convinced of their noble invulnerability, and seeks enemies whom they deem to be of equal ability and honour. The battles are fought in space over the fourth moon of Modestinus, a place known to the inhabitants as "The Stars of Honour." Victories raise the status of the victor’s encampment over the others; the entire conflict has been waged as if it were a never-ending sport between the former students.
Pilots battle each other according to a very rigid code of honour which has evolved over the years of the conflict. This "Noble Warriors Code" is gleaned from the freshman pledge of the Academy, and is wholly pervasive in all facets of every student’s upbringing. Every battle between pilots is structured around the "Noble Warriors Code". Only by strict following of the code can a victory bring prominence to each warrior’s camp. While the loss of life to newly graduated combatants is staggering, the participants do not seem to notice, nor care; the end advancement of each camp is paramount, and the contributions of the pilots revered highly. Warriors who gain the status of "Ace" become legendary to the entire society, and often become the new leaders of each camp. It is the fervent wish of every graduate to become a noble Ace of honour, and gain the respect, and fear of the rest of the warriors.
The devastation of the Millennium Warriors left an astounding amount of older Fighters scattered within the Academies. Fighters are chosen by the graduates and often become highly personal expressions of their personality and temperament. Most fighters are painted in bright colours, and adorned with personal trophies and mementoes of previous battles; the allegiance symbols of each camp often form a part of the completed regalia.
The Twelve have often ventured into the infested system of Modestinus to send representatives, arms, and new fighter designs to the warriors. In exchange, the Twelve have managed to secure a supply of supremely trained pilots to instruct their own pilots back home. Agendas of the Twelve have never managed to supplant the inherent conflict that exists at the Academies today. The system of Modestinus is far too entrenched in the Brood clutch worlds to allow any particular faction to build enough force to wrest control of the entire system. The Twelve are understandably leery of encroaching into such a Brood populated area so the Academies are virtually untouched still today.
A Noble Warriors Code:
- A pilot must be a gentleman, a noble person of proper character.
- A fighter is an extension of a pilot's character and it must proudly represent a first and last impression.
- A pilot battles only with his equal, inferior opponents offer little honour, but destroy them if they seek your head.
- Seek opponents only in the stars of honour.
- Challenge your prey properly by calling them in the stars of honour.
- Challenging an injured or damaged opponent carries no honour, and is unworthy. Better to let them heal and meet again.
- When a challenge has been accepted, salute your foe warmly, speak kindly, and be hospitable to a dear departed friend: For you both shall not meet in this life again.
- Fight with bravery, courage, and respect. Die valiantly, with noble dignity, and in silence; for space abhors noise.
- When gazing at the blossom that was your opponent’s craft, salute him for increasing your honour.
- Only villains would fire at unarmed, or helpless targets. Beware, for a villain cannot ever win in honourable meeting.
- Remember your fallen foes as you would your fallen comrades, for both have left an ingredient in your soul. Toast them at every opportunity.
Meeting At The Stars Of Honour
Use the Standard Map Set-up found on page 103 in the Silent Death rulebook. The map edges are "fixed", any fighter that leaves the map is to be considered as disengaged, and the game is over. The actual game will be played as each player sees fit, however, the following are meant as a guideline:
- Both pilots will announce themselves as each opponent arrives.
- Both craft will approach at full speed, without delay, directly at each other.
- When the fighters approach "normal" firing range, they slow to half speed, each sideslips one space apart as they pass each other.
- Due to this extremely close pass, star craft display secrecy basically is tossed out the window. Note: It is assumed that SPAC battles of this type are between pilots in a continuing campaign type system. Pilots of any experience in such an arena are very notorious, and as such their abilities are fairly well known.
- Should any pilot veer off before the above pass, it is assumed that a challenge has been declined. 'Green' pilots would possibly fire at the veering star craft, and (probably) pay for it with their life. A pilot who turns around again after veering away, is obviously a villain, and will (probably) pay for it with their life.
- After the close pass, an accepted challenge is declared. Star craft are accelerated once again to the full velocity capable on the ship display in a straight line until both ships are completely out of weapon range. (And completing the turn)
- Star craft will then turn rapidly, and the battle will commence. Use any optional rules that both players agree upon, prior to the beginning of the second turn. Note: It is highly recommended that the optional Dog fighting initiative system be used in place of standard Silent Death initiative.
- Combat will continue until one of the following conditions exists:
- One pilot is killed
- One craft is destroyed
- Other combatants arrive so that the sides would be uneven. In such cases, the conflict would end by both pilots disengaging.
- One craft is disabled in such a way that the conflict would end prematurely, and is essentially helpless. (Example would be a really disabling early crit during the first shots fired. The craft would be about 90% perfect, save that it is inoperable to fight fairly.) The 'victor' would then circle the disabled fighter, veer off and disengage.
- Once a craft, or pilot, is gone, the victor would slow to half speed and pay a tribute fly-pass then disengage.
- A combatant would probably finish off a crippled fighter (Save for example above) but would never fire on an escape pod, nor destroy a craft rendered lifeless. In both instances, the 'victor' would drop a locator buoy, and then disengage.
Optional Rule: Dog Fighting
Dog fighting is an adjusted initiative system to reflect a more balanced ship-to–ship style of combat. Dog fighting still heavily favours the Pilot skill levels, however player tactics, fighter selection, and position are rewarded with increasing levels of the initiative roll. A pilot who finds themselves with an enemy closing on their tail will find it rather difficult to completely evade the opponent; Pilots in the heat of battle can become easily overwhelmed by a new invader, and pilots can maintain an enemy within their sights much more easily. However, high skill levels still regulate dog-fighter initiative, good positioning cannot easily replace an "Ace" Void Warrior.
Dog fighting does not affect the turn sequence of combat in any way, save for completely replacing the previous initiative roll sequence. Discard the Silent Death 1D10 + Pilot rating initiative roll and replace it with the following optional rule:
At the beginning of each turn, each player determines their own dog-fighting status for every ship, according to their map position and facing, in relation to their opponent’s map position and facing. Forward arc describes the forward arc of the ship not the forward arc of any weapons. Extended firing arcs (such as 360o, F/LF/RF, etc.) do not affect the dog fighting status, nor do any available torpedoes. Players, on their own ships, according to the following criteria, determine dog-fighting status:
- Neutral Position: Both combatants are outside of the forward arc (F) of each other, regardless of range. Or, both combatants are in the forward arc (F) of each other, but completely outside the firing range of each other’s weapons. Ignore any torpedoes, and extended weapon firing arcs.
- Engaged Position:Both combatants are in the forward arc (F) of each other, and (F) weapons are in range of each other. Ignore torpedoes, and extended weapon firing arcs.
- Inferior Position:Target is outside your forward arc, but your ship is located within target ship’s forward arc. Target ship cannot be located in your forward (F) arc, or may be in your (F) arc, but completely out of possible range. Ignore any torpedoes and extended weapon firing arcs. (Destroyed weapons do not count as "destroyed" for the purpose of determining status, as the ships’ automated systems are designed to compensate for the lost weapon.)
- Superior Position:Target is within your forward (F) arc, and you are completely out of the target’s (F) arc. Or, players may be located within each other’s (F) arc, but your weapons are within range, and your target’s are not. Ignore torpedoes, and extended weapon firing arcs. (Destroyed weapons do not count as "destroyed" for the purpose of determining status, as the ships’ automated systems are designed to compensate for the lost weapon.)
Example: David and Lee are fighting a dogfight and have started turn 3 of the combat. David’s ship completed a tight turn at the end of last turn, and is now 6 hexes away, and immediately behind Lee’s Kosmos. Dave determines that his dog fighting status is Superior as the Kosmos is completely within his (F) arc, but he is located in Lee’s rear (R) arc. Lee determines that his unenviable position is Inferior for the same criteria as Dave’s
Each player notes his dog fighter position and rolls for initiative simultaneously during the Initiative phase of the turn sequence. Dog fighting initiative is rolled for each pilot rather than for each side, and the result of the roll should be recorded on the ship display so that it can be referred to later during the movement phase of the turn sequence. Rolling your Position Die and adding you pilot’s Plt skill level determine dog-fighting initiative.
Pilots who are in Neutral Position add their Plt skill to 1D10 (1D10 + Plt)
Pilots who are in Engaged Position add their Plt skill to 1D8 (1D8 + Plt)
Pilots who are in Superior Position add their Plt skill to 1D6 (1D6 + Plt)
Pilots who are in Inferior Position add their Plt skill to 1D4 (1D4 + Plt)
The end result is each Pilot’s Dog-fighting initiative and will determine their movement order in the movement phase of the turn sequence. Ship movement is performed exactly as typical Silent Death movement, however each pilot moves in ascending order according to their dog-fighting initiative roll for the turn.
Example: Still in turn 3, David rolls his dog-fighting initiative (1D6) and comes up with a 4, which he adds to his pilot skill of 6. David’s dog-fighting initiative for turn 3 is (4 + 6 = 10). Lee rolls his initiative (1D4) returns a 2, and adds his Plt skill also 6. Lee’s dog-fighting initiative for turn 3 is (2 + 6 = 8). Consequently, Lee must move his Kosmos first before David.
Example: On turn 3, Stuart enters the map along the far edge, away from David and Lee. Stuart’s dog-fighting initiative would be 1D10 (He is in Neutral position to David and Lee and rolls a 7) + his Plt skill of 4. Stuarts dog-fighting initiative of turn 3 is (7 + 4 = 11) the turn sequence of turn 3 would be Lee (8), then David (10), and finally Stuart (11).
It may be possible, in multiple fighter conflicts, to have a star craft within two or more dog-fighting positions. When a fighter lies in two positions, the lowest result is always used. In the case of multiple positions, dog-fighting status is determined by whatever position is duplicated more than others. In the event of a tie, the dog-fighting status will be the lowest of the tied results. In a way, dog-fighting status is like a game of paper-rock-scissors. Players should use caution when using optional dog-fighter rules in very large battles, as the turn sequence will be slowed down considerably.
Example: David, Stuart, Nicole, and Lee are squaring off in a battle after 2 turns. David is inferior to Lee, and neutral to both Nicole and Stuart. Lee is superior to David, but inferior to Nicole and Stuart (he’s being teamed against). Nicole and Stuart are both superior to Lee, neutral to each other, and neutral to David. Dog fighting status is determined to be the following: David, Neutral (Nicole/Stuart); Lee, inferior (Nicole/ Stuart); Nicole, neutral (Stuart/David); and Stuart, neutral (Nicole/David). If Stuart were targeting Nicole instead, and had her in his forward arc, positions would then become: David, neutral (Nicole/Stuart); Lee, inferior (lowest result of David/Nicole/Stuart); Nicole, inferior (lowest result of David/Stuart/Lee); Lee, neutral (David/Lee).
Players may wish to use the optional rule, Luck, to force a re-roll of an opponent’s dog-fighting initiative die for the turn by expending 1 luck point. Only one dog-fighter initiative roll may be forced to re-roll per turn, per player. The optional rule of Deflection does not affect initiative in any way. Torpedoes still move immediately after target movement in the movement phase, and are not affected by dog fighting in any way. Initiative rolls from previous turns do not affect later rolls. As an additional option, players may wish to add a modifier of +1 to the dog-fighting initiative roll for every Gunner. (To reflect additional spotters, and tactical advice.).