Posted in Rules Design

They Rode the Flying Saucers

Saucer-Jockeys Brave Extreme G-Forces in Deadly Sky-Fights!

It’s time for another look at one of the key components of Saucer War One.

You’ll remember last time, we met the Saucer Data Disc and learned that it connects to a series of smaller Discs that provide information about Weapons, Equipment, and, most importantly, the Saucer’s Crew.  Let’s start our examination of these discs with the Crew Disc, and see how it interacts with the Data Disc. 

I wonder what ANTIC’s Crew Familiarisation Course teach about these things…?


From the ANTIC Lenticular Vehicle Handbook (TD-34.1)

As mysterious and even ethereal as flying saucers may seem to Earthbound witnesses who gape at their impossible maneuvers, these marvels of super-science are nothing without their most essential components: The flesh and blood beings at their controls. 

Being the Crew of a Saucer is no easy job. Regardless of their affiliation, all ‘Saucernauts’ share a common bond formed through their courage, skill, and willingness to risk death in the skies. 

To the Noordicans they are Charioteers; chosen Priests of Technology entrusted with the most valued artefacts left by the gods. In Mondreich society, the Untertasseflieger is a hero, the ideal of Mondmenschen Perfektion and defender of Lunar Nationalism.

But the pilots of ANTIC are the cast-offs of Earth’s airforces; The misfits, the non-conservatives, the people whose politics, race or gender ostracises them in the narrow minds of generals and politicians. However, most ANTIC pilots have few professional regrets; they may never get to fly fast in their nations’ jets, but as Saucer Crew these mavericks fly a helluva lot faster. 

Unfortunately, the faster one goes, the greater the G-force one is subjected to when you suddenly change direction. Anyone who has swerved in a fast moving car knows this G-force, and how it can feel as if one has been suddenly shoved aside by a huge, invisible hand. In a Saucer flying at several thousands of miles per hour, such a ‘shove’ is colossal, and can be as lethal as colliding with an express train. 

So how do Saucer Crews survive these immense forces? With their Gravitic propulsion systems keeping them aloft, all Saucers generate their own gravitational field. Without going into the physics in detail, it is sufficient to say that this field insulates a Saucer’s Crew from the G-forces generated by the maneuvers of their amazing machines. In fact without this field, such maneuvers would kill anyone in a Saucer in a heartbeat, crushed and broken by the tremendous physical stresses. 

As long as a Saucer keeps within the limits of its gravity field it can neutralise most of the effects of extreme G-force. ANTIC Crews call this ‘pointing it in the green’ or just ‘staying green’ after the triangular, green G-Stress Indicator on their instrument panels.
If a maneuver pushes the ‘pip’ on this indicator outside its triangle, then the G-forces upon the Saucer have exceeded the field’s capacity, and the Crew might feel the full power of the G-force on their bodies. If that force becomes strong enough, unconsciousness — or even death — is certain. 

Of course, pilots will be pilots, and cannot be prevented from dancing on the edge, chancing death. The very nature of combat flying requires the acceptance of terrible risk, and victory sometimes requires ferocious maneuvers, subjecting Saucer Crews to dreadful G-stress. To help guard against this, every G-Stress Indicator has a G-Stress Ring that is specifically calibrated to its Crew. As G-Stress rises, so the Ring rotates, giving the Crew a visual guide to the danger they are in. If the Ring stays at ‘0’ then there is no danger. As the value rises between ‘1’ and ‘4’, the Crew will experience sluggish reactions and impaired vision. If it reaches ‘G-LOC’ the Crew have reached their consciousness threshold, and will pass out. Should it reach ‘G-FIN’ then it is likely they will be killed by the crushing force they endure.


So, that’s the background to the Crew Disc; In short, G-Forces are scary, but the super-science of a Saucer’s propulsion enables its Crew to get away with crazy moves.

Now let’s describe it in game terms. We’ll start with a break-down of the icons and what they mean:

Crew Check Target Number

Central to a Crew’s role in a Saucer is the Crew Check. This is the number you’re trying to beat when you want to Hit a Target, pull off a Stunt, attempt a Repair, and other tasks.


Gunsight Bonus

As you can probably guess, this bonus improves your chance of beating the Crew Check whenever you perform an Attack with a Weapon. 


Abilities 

These characterful additions provide some flavour to their game, and maybe give a little edge to the better, more experienced Crews like Herr Nowotny here. There are also negative Abilities, so watch out! More about Abilities in a future article.


Points Value and Allegiance

Exactly what they say. A Crew’s Points Value is added to that of its Saucer, along with any Weapons and Equipment to determine its Full Points Value. Allegiance is simply the symbol of the nation that can use this Crew in the game. Hauptmann Nowotny is a Mondreich Crew. 


G-Stress Ring

Arguably the most important part of a Crew Disc, this ring records a Crew’s current G-Stress Penalty. This penalty reduces your chance of beating the Crew Check.

Here’s how the G-Stress Ring interacts with a Saucer’s Data Disc:  At the start of a game, a Crew Disc is usually aligned to its Connector Point at the lowest number (0) on its G-Stress Ring. 

A Crew Disc rotates with the amount of G-Stress that a Saucer generates: Clockwise when G-Stress increases…

and Anti-clockwise when it decreases…

A Crew’s G-Stress rises by +1 for each extreme Maneuver.

Usually, an extreme Maneuver is a Pivot that exceeds a Saucer’s Safe Zone, as described in this earlier article about the Maneuver Disc. (There are also Stunt Maneuvers intended to give a feel of 3D air combat, but we’ll discuss these another time.) 

So, performing an extreme Maneuver requires a trade: It might give you a bead on an enemy Saucer, but your Crew take a penalty to their chance of scoring a Hit. Too many extreme Maneuvers, and you risk the Crew blacking out, or even being killed!

But its not all bad; a safe Pivot (Inside the Green) causes no increase to G-Stress. 

Finishing a Maneuver with no Pivot at all (following the Exit Disc’s Centerline), reduces G-Stress by -1. (A very good thing.)

As ANTIC’s Handbook warns us: If G-Stress rises too high, the Crew can be imperilled as they reach G-LOC (Loss of Consciousness) and G-FIN (Final). (A very bad thing!)


Mix ‘n Match

Many Crew Discs are interchangeable with their nation’s saucers. This means you can switch them between Saucers to achieve certain outcomes, such as putting a hot-shot Beta Saucer’s Crew into a big Alpha Type to see what they do. (Rather akin to giving a B-29 bomber to a Mustang fighter pilot and telling them “Have fun!”)

Likewise, Weapons and Equipment are interchangeable, allowing a huge variety of configurations, each with its benefits and disadvantages. I’m hoping players of Saucer War One will enjoy experimenting with various combinations, and pitting their favourite ‘combos’ against those of their opponents. 

We’ll be looking at Weapon and Equipment Discs in a new article soon, but what’s coming up before that? Put away your dice, folks, you won’t be needing them when I reveal the Fate Deck for Saucer War One


Author:

The man who is Miniature Martin. A maker of games, models and other things to please lovers of sci-fi, alternate worlds, and the strange beings and machines that you find there. Join me at miniaturemartin.com for adventures into the realms beyond the Alternoscope!

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