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Armada Combat

Starfinder Starship Operations Manual p.58

When multibillion-credit organizations or nations go to war, standard starship combat quickly becomes too crowded. In armada combat, the PCs control an entire navy and make decisions that affect hundreds or even thousands of lives. PCs can use armadas to handle challenges with extraordinary stakes, from settling a dispute over a moon to defending an entire star system. This section presents rules for these massive combats, with players controlling smaller units within engagements to defeat enemy combatants, protect targets, disable the enemy flagship, or more.

Armada combat borrows many familiar elements from smaller-scale starship combat, such as navigating a hex grid, movement speed, and PC checks, but also incorporates unique elements to account for this grander scale of starship combat.

Building an Armada

Each armada is created using the same process. An armada’s tier typically matches the PCs’ average party level, and the armada gains a number of Build Points (BP) based on its tier, with which it acquires fleets and special abilities for those fleets. Each fleet costs a number of BP based on its tier, size, and special abilities, all of which contribute to the fleet’s power level. Except at the GM’s discretion, the maximum tier of any fleet in an armada is the armada’s tier + 1. Appoint one of these fleets as the armada’s flagship (page 60), which provides the armada additional benefits.

Table 2–14: Armada Build Points
TIER ARMADA BUILD POINTS TIER ARMADA BUILD POINTS
1 36 11 264
2 48 12 288
3 72 13 312
4 96 14 336
5 120 15 360
6 144 16 384
7 168 17 408
8 192 18 432
9 216 19 456
10 240 20 480

Challenges

Most armada encounters should be against armadas of lower tiers, as evenly matched armadas are likely to both suffer catastrophic damage. Use the following table as a guideline.

Table 2–15: Calculating Armada Challenge
DIFFICULTY OPPOSITION ARMADA TIER
Easy Allied armada tier — 3
Average Allied armada tier — 2
Challenging Allied armada tier — 1
Hard Allied armada tier
Epic Allied armada tier + 1

XP Awards: PCs should earn experience points for defeating enemy armadas, following the same rules as for earning XP for starship combat (Core Rulebook 390).

Building a Fleet

Table 2–16: Fleet Costs
TIER SMALL BP COST MEDIUM BP COST LARGE BP COST
1 5 6 8
2 6 8 10
3 9 12 15
4 12 16 20
5 15 20 25
6 18 24 30
7 21 28 35
8 24 32 40
9 27 36 45
10 30 40 50
11 33 44 55
12 36 48 60
13 39 52 65
14 42 56 70
15 45 60 75
16 48 64 80
17 51 68 85
18 54 72 90
19 58 77 95
20 60 80 100
Table 2–17: Fleet Damage
TIER SMALL DAMAGE MEDIUM DAMAGE LARGE DAMAGE
1 1d4 1d6 1d8
2 1d6 1d8 1d10
3 1d8 1d10 1d12
4 2d6 2d8 2d10
5 2d6 2d8 2d10
6 3d6 3d8 3d10
7 3d6 3d8 3d10
8 4d6 4d8 4d10
9 4d6 4d8 4d10
10 5d6 5d8 5d10
11 5d6 5d8 5d10
12 6d6 6d8 6d10
13 6d6 6d8 6d10
14 7d6 7d8 7d10
15 7d6 7d8 7d10
16 8d6 8d8 8d10
17 8d6 8d8 8d10
18 9d6 9d8 9d10
19 9d6 9d8 9d10
20 10d6 10d8 10d10

The statistics and definitions below define a fleet’s capabilities.
Name and Tier: This is the fleet’s name and power level. Fleets of the same tier are roughly comparable in strength but can vary based on their size and specializations. A fleet’s tier can at most be 1 higher than its armada’s tier.
Size: This is a relative measure of how many starships make up the fleet or the relative size of the primary starship in the fleet. A fleet’s size impacts its Hull Points, Shield Points, damage, and Base Cost.
Speed: This is the number of hexes a fleet can move each turn.
Maneuverability: This entry determines how quickly a fleet can turn. The maneuverability ratings and their turn distances are the same as those in starship combat (Core Rulebook 318).
Armor Class (AC): This value is used when determining whether an attack hits a fleet. It is based primarily on the fleet’s tier. A fleet with 1 or more Shield Points also gains a +1 bonus to AC against gunnery checks originating from its front arc.
Hull Points (HP): This is the total amount of damage a fleet can take before being defeated. Each fleet has 1 HP plus an additional number of HP multiplied by its tier: 3 HP per tier for Small fleets, 4 per tier for Medium fleets, and 5 per tier for Large fleets.
Critical Threshold (CT): When a fleet’s HP are reduced to this value, the fleet takes critical damage, reducing its effectiveness, per Table 2–20 on page 63. This value is always one-half the fleet’s HP (rounded down).
Shield Points (SP): This is the total amount of damage a fleet can take before losing Hull Points. Shield Points regenerate over time, per Table 2–19 on page 62. Each fleet has a number of SP equal to its HP divided by 3, rounded down.
Strong and Weak: Many fleets are especially strong against or vulnerable to other types of fleets. Against a fleet to which it is weak, a fleet takes +1 damage per damage die. Against a fleet against which it is strong, a fleet takes –1 damage per damage die.
Check Modifier: This is the modifier the fleet applies to d20 rolls when attacking, performing complex feats, or checking morale, similar to how a starship crew would use Computers, gunnery, and Piloting modifiers. A fleet’s base modifier is +1, and it increases by 1 at every odd tier above tier 1. An armada’s officers can grant a fleet a bonus to certain checks (see Officers on page 60).
Damage: This is the amount of damage a fleet deals when it hits a target.
Range: This is the range at which a fleet can fire its weapons, measured in hexes. A fleet’s range is broken into three distances: short range, long range, and extreme range. Attacks made against a target within short range take no range penalty; attacks beyond short range but within long range take a –2 penalty; and attacks beyond long range but shorter than extreme range take a –4 penalty. A starship can’t attack targets beyond its extreme range.
BP Cost: This is the fleet’s cost in Build Points (BP). BP are an abstract resource used for creating and upgrading fleets.
Special Abilities: These are the fleet’s additional properties that modify its statistics or provide additional options in combat. Most special abilities cost additional BP and can be applied only to particular fleet types, as shown in Table 2–18 on page 60.

Base Fleet Classes

A fleet’s class establishes what types of starships comprise it, as well as its base statistics.

Capital-Class Fleet

Consisting of a single immense starship, a capital fleet boasts heavy armor and utterly devastating weapons. However, these ponderous starships are slow to maneuver, and they struggle to fend off tiny attackers.

CAPITAL FLEET

Speed 4 hexes; Maneuverability average (+0 Piloting, turn 2)
Strong destroyer; Weak fighter
Range 5 hexes
Special Ability Access: array, damage threshold, EMP, flagship, point defense, self-destruct, superweapon

Destroyer-Class Fleet

Consisting of a handful of Large or larger starships, a destroyer-class fleet balances raw firepower and armor with maneuverability and versatility. Destroyer fleets often boast an array of mid-sized weapons well-suited for eliminating numerous, smaller targets.

DESTROYER FLEET

Speed 5 hexes; Maneuverability good (+1 Piloting, turn 1)
Strong fighter; Weak capital
Range 4 hexes
Special Ability Access: array, boarders, EMP, flagship, gravity mines, point defense, self-destruct

Fighter-Class Fleet

Consisting of a dozen or more Medium or smaller starships, a fighter squadron is unparalleled in speed and agility. The fighters’ numbers can quickly overwhelm larger targets.

FIGHTER FLEET

Speed 6 hexes; Maneuverability perfect (+2 Piloting, turn 0)
Strong capital; Weak destroyer
Range 3 hexes
Special Ability Access: agile, boarders, bombers, EMP, flagship, interceptors, self-destruct

Special Abilities

When creating or upgrading an armada, you can enhance one or more fleets with special abilities to expand their abilities or shore up their weaknesses. Each special ability increases a fleet’s BP cost by the amount listed, and a fleet can add only those special abilities allowed by its fleet type.

Table 2–18: Special Abilities
SPECIAL ABILITY BP COST FLEET TYPE
Array 3 Capital, destroyer
Boarders 2 Destroyer, fighter
Bombers 2 Fighter
Damage Threshold 3 Capital
EMP 3 Any
Flagship 0 Any
Gravity mines 3 Destroyer
Interceptors 0 Fighter
Point defense 2 Capital, destroyer
Self-destruct 1 Any
Superweapon 3 Capital

Array: The fleet’s weapons can damage multiple targets. During the gunnery phase, the fleet can attack up to three fleets in a single firing arc. The fleet takes a –2 penalty or –4 penalty to gunnery checks when attacking two or three fleets, respectively.
Boarders: When the fleet succeeds at a flyby stunt, a portion of its crew boards and begins damaging the enemy fleet. During the gunnery phase, the fleet attempts a bonus gunnery check to resolve the boarding party’s attack. If it succeeds, the boarders deal half the fleet’s damage and continue attacking on subsequent gunnery phases. If the gunnery check fails, the boarders are captured, and the effect ends.
Bombers: The fleet fires heavy ordinance that grants it a +1 bonus to gunnery against capital fleets, and the fleet’s attacks ignore the damage threshold ability.
Damage Threshold: The fleet’s thick armor reduces incoming damage by 1 per damage die rolled.
EMP: During the next round, when the fleet’s gunnery check exceeds its target’s AC by 5 or more, the fleet’s disruptive weaponry inflicts a random critical damage condition on its target.
Flagship: The fleet contains the armada’s flagship and serves as a command center; only one fleet per armada can have this ability. Officers assigned to this fleet can affect targets within the fleet’s extreme range with their actions, and the fleet gains additional HP equal to its tier. A fleet’s flagship ability can’t be disabled by critical damage.
Gravity Mines: Once per combat, at the end of the helm phase, this fleet can disperse gravity mines in 2 hexes, with a range of 2 hexes from the fleet. These mines activate at the beginning of the next round. While active, gravity mines slow fleets moving through the mines’ hexes and any adjacent hexes; the first time that any fleet enters an affected hex each round, the fleet must expend 2 hexes of movement. Gravity mines remain active for 3 rounds, and they can be destroyed by attacks (AC 5, HP equal to half the fleet’s tier).
Interceptors: The fleet is designed to chase and disable smaller starships. The fleet is no longer strong against capital fleets but becomes strong against fighter fleets.
Point Defense: The fleet’s close-range weapons grant it a +1 bonus to gunnery checks against fleets within 2 hexes, and its free attacks deal full damage against fleets that fail flyby stunts.
Self-Destruct: When this fleet would be disabled, it can instead be destroyed and make a free attack against one fleet in an adjacent hex.
Superweapon: When attacking, this fleet can activate a superweapon that takes a –2 penalty to its gunnery check but, if it hits, deals additional damage equal to the fleet’s tier and critical damage. Once activated, a superweapon can’t be fired again until the end of the next round.

Officers

In armada combat, the PCs are officers who direct their fleets, and they can fill major roles to influence the encounters in special ways. Each officer must be assigned to a specific fleet in the armada. A fleet can support any number of officers (though never more than one of any role at a time), and a fleet does not need an officer to function. An officer grants their assigned fleet a passive benefit based on their officer bonus (see below), and each officer can also perform one special action per round to affect a fleet or the battlefield. Officers who perform the direct, scan, target, or taunt actions during the helm phase do so immediately before or after moving the fleet to which they’re assigned.
Officer Bonuses: Many abilities refer to an officer bonus, which represents an officer’s ability to lead their subordinates, rather than the officer doing all the work themselves. An officer’s bonus applies to the officer’s fleet and equals 2 + 1 for every 6 ranks the officer has in one of their role’s associated skills; a commander can instead use their base attack bonus to calculate their officer bonus in place of their skill ranks. Officer bonuses don’t stack with other officer bonuses.
For armada combat checks that an officer must attempt to perform special actions, their modifier equals their officer bonus plus their fleet’s check modifier. Before an officer’s assigned fleet attempts a check, that officer can spend 1 Resolve Point to roll the check twice and use the better result.
Range: Officer actions have a maximum range equal to their fleet’s long range, and the actions don’t take range penalties when affecting targets. Officers assigned to the armada’s flagship can affect targets within that fleet’s extreme range.
Changing Roles: At the beginning of each round, any officers can change their roles, though an armada can have only one admiral, and a fleet can have only one of any given officer role. An officer can move to an adjacent fleet by expending their action at the beginning of the engineering phase.

Admiral

You direct the overall flow of battle, delivering key orders, timing fleet movements, and providing motivation at opportune moments. The role of admiral does not necessarily mean that you outrank the other officers or control their actions, but as the armada’s leader, you are in a position to influence your forces in unique ways. An armada can only have a single admiral.
Associated Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate
Officer Bonus: morale checks
Encourage (Any Phase): You can encourage a fleet or officer to grant them a bonus to their action. Before that fleet or officer attempts the check, you attempt a DC 10 flat check. If you succeed, you either grant your officer bonus to the triggering check, or you grant a +1 untyped bonus to the check.
Rally (Engineering Phase): You order a fleet to regroup, granting it your officer bonus to morale checks until the end of the round. If the fleet is routed (see Morale on page 63), it attempts a new morale check against the same DC that caused it to rout. If it succeeds, it is no longer routed.
Taunt (Helm Phase): You harangue or mislead an enemy fleet. Attempt a check against an enemy fleet’s AC. If you succeed, that fleet takes a penalty equal to 1 + half your officer bonus to all checks until the beginning of the next helm phase. Whether or not you succeed, you can’t successfully taunt that fleet again for the rest of the combat.

Chief Caster

You and your crew oversee the mystical rites of your fleet.
Associated Skill: Mysticism
Officer Bonus: AC against enemy gunnery checks
Conjure (Engineering Phase): Choose 1 hex and attempt a DC 10 flat check. If you succeed, your mystical crew conjures cosmic debris in that hex and all adjacent hexes that lasts until the end of the round. Any fleet that ends its turn in that area takes an amount of damage equal to your officer bonus, and any fleet attacks that pass through the affected area take a –1 penalty to gunnery checks.
Enchant (Engineering Phase): You lead your mystics in enchanting a fleet’s weapons. Choose a fleet and attempt a check against that fleet’s AC. If you succeed, that fleet’s range increases by 2, and its gunnery checks can deal critical damage on a 19 or 20. These effects last until the end of the round.
Precognition (Engineering Phase): You and your crew predict enemy movements. Attempt a DC 10 flat check. If you succeed, your admiral rolls 1d4 and adds the result to their next check to determine the order in which fleets move during the helm phase.

Chief Engineer

You command your fleet’s engineering corps, oversee repairs, and make crucial calls on when to exceed starships’ recommended performance limits.
Associated Skill: Engineering
Officer Bonus: starting and maximum Shield Points.
Boost (Engineering Phase): Choose a fleet and attempt a check against its AC. You direct the engineers aboard that fleet to augment a key system. If you succeed, you either increase the fleet’s speed by 1d2 until the end of the round, decrease the fleet’s turn distance by 1 (minimum 0) until the end of the round, add your officer bonus to the SP that fleet recovers during this phase, or add your officer bonus to the fleet’s damage rolls until the end of the turn.
Repair (Engineering Phase): Choose a fleet and attempt a check against the fleet’s AC. If you succeed, choose one of the fleet’s critical damage conditions; you direct the onboard engineers’ repairs, and the fleet ignores that critical damage condition for 1 round, plus 1 additional round for every 5 by which your check exceeded the fleet’s AC.

Chief Technician

oversee your fleet’s computers and scientists as they direct scanners and hack enemy systems.
Associated Skill: Computers
Officer Bonus: gunnery checks
Scan (Helm Phase): You direct the fleet’s sensors to scan another fleet. Attempt a check with a +5 untyped bonus against the fleet’s AC. If you succeed, you learn the first unknown category of information from the following list. For every 5 by which you exceed the check, you learn an additional unknown category of information.
1. Basic Statistics: Fleet type, size, speed, maneuverability, tier, damage, total and current HP and SP.
2. Special Abilities: Special abilities, as well as the fleets against which the target fleet is strong or weak.
3. Officers: The names and roles of the fleet’s officers.
Scramble (Gunnery Phase): You scramble communications within a fleet. Select an enemy fleet, optionally selecting one of that fleet’s officers, and then attempt a check against the fleet’s AC. During the next round, the fleet’s chosen officer grants no passive benefit to their fleet and can’t perform any officer actions. In addition, any other fleets’ officer actions can’t affect the targeted fleet. If you don’t select an officer, scramble affects one of the fleet’s officers, selected at random.
Target (Helm Phase): Choose an allied fleet and an enemy fleet within range, then attempt a check against the enemy fleet’s AC. If you succeed, until the end of the round, the allied fleet gains a +1 untyped bonus to gunnery checks against the enemy fleet, and the allied fleet’s gunnery checks against the target deal critical damage on a 19 or 20.

Commander

You oversee a fleet directly, ensuring optimal performance. Associated Skills: Diplomacy, Intimidation, or Piloting
Officer Bonus: Piloting checks
Direct (Helm Phase): Either by issuing precise commands or by piloting a key starship yourself, you set an example that the rest of your fleet follows. Attempt a DC 15 flat check. If you succeed, you grant your officer bonus to either your fleet’s gunnery checks or its AC until the end of the round. If you fail the check by less than 5, your officer bonus is reduced to 1 for this action.
Duel (Gunnery Phase): You direct your starship to engage with an enemy officer’s starship within 3 hexes—or if your target is a capital fleet, you lead your starship in a daring attack on the enemy vessel’s bridge. Attempt a check against the enemy fleet’s AC + 5. You gain a +5 untyped bonus to this check if your armada has identified the fleet’s officers, and you gain an additional +5 untyped bonus if the targeted fleet also uses the duel action against your fleet. If you succeed and your fleet’s attack that round deals damage to the enemy fleet, the target gains the communications critical damage condition (see Table 2–20 until the end of the next round. If your attack would deal critical damage to the fleet, one of the fleet’s officers is incapacitated and provides no benefits for the remainder of the combat.

Running Armada Combat

As armada combat begins, the GM decides how far apart the armadas are from each other (3d6+5 hexes is a good default), and typically each armada can determine how its fleets are arranged so long as they maintain this distance from the enemy forces.

Rounds and Phases

As in starship combat, each round of armada combat is divided into three phases that don’t correspond to an exact amount of time: engineering, helm, and gunnery. Fleets perform specific actions in each phase, and officers can contribute only during certain phases based on their roles.
1. Engineering: During this phase, fleets prepare for their next maneuvers by repairing damage, restoring shields, and priming weapons. At the end of this phase, each fleet also automatically regains a limited number of SP based on their maximum SP values (see the table below).

Table 2–19: Shield Point Regeneration
MAXIMUM SP SP REGAINED
1–5 1d4
5–10 1d6
11–15 1d8
16–20 1d10
20+ 1d12

2. Helm: During this phase, admirals match wits, and fleets maneuver across the battlefield. At the beginning of the phase, each admiral attempts a check. The armada whose admiral’s result was the lowest must choose tactics for and move half of their active fleets (rounded up) first, followed by the next lowest, until all armadas have moved half of their fleets (or waived those fleets’ movement). The process then repeats in that order, with each armada moving the remaining half of its fleets. If an armada has no admiral, it rolls only 1d6 for its check to determine the order in which it moves. If there is a tie, the admirals in question roll another check and compare the results, with the one who rolls lowest moving first.
3. Gunnery: During this phase, fleets fire their weapons. Except for free attacks or bonus attacks from the array special ability, each fleet can attack only once per round. Fleets attack in any order, but the effects of gunnery actions are all applied simultaneously at the end of the round, meaning all fleets can fire, even if they take enough damage to be disabled during the phase. After damage is applied, if there are still combatants engaged in the combat, the next round begins, starting with a new engineering phase.

Moving

Fleets move and maneuver in much the same way as starships do in standard starship combat (Core Rulebook 317), including the rules for making turns, moving through other fleets (as though they were starships), and measuring firing arcs. Speed functions in the same way but does not provide a modifier to Piloting checks. A fleet can freely attempt one of the following stunts at the listed Piloting DCs as part of its movement: back off (DC = 10 + 1/4 × the fleet’s tier), flip and burn (DC = 15 + 1/4 × the fleet’s tier), flyby (DC = the enemy fleet’s AC), slide (DC = 10 + 1/4 × the fleet’s tier), or turn in place (no check). Any free attack performed during a flyby stunt deals half damage.

Attacking

When a fleet attacks another fleet, that action is resolved with a gunnery check during the gunnery phase. You make a fleet attack using the following procedure.
1. Range: Determine the range between the two fleets (counted in hexes). Attacks made against a target within a fleet’s short range take no penalty, whereas attacks beyond short range but within long range take a –2 penalty, and attacks beyond long range but shorter than extreme range take a –4 penalty. A starship can’t attack targets beyond its extreme range.
2. Gunnery Check: The fleet rolls a gunnery check and compares the result to the target’s AC. If the result equals or exceeds the target’s AC, the fleet hits and deals its listed damage. Otherwise, the attack misses or deals negligible damage.

Gunnery Check = 1d20 + fleet’s check modifier + officer bonus + range penalty
AC = 10 + fleet’s check modifier + officer bonus + shield bonus (front quadrant only)

3. Deal Damage: Apply damage from an attack to a fleet’s SP first, and any remaining damage to its HP. A fleet takes more or less damage from enemy fleets against which it’s weak or strong, respectively (page 58). If a fleet is reduced to 0 or fewer HP, it is disabled and floats in the direction it’s facing at half speed until repaired (after combat) or destroyed. If a fleet’s total HP damage exceeds twice its HP, it is destroyed.

Morale and Critical Damage

Incoming damage can devastate fleets’ group cohesion and equipment, represented by morale and critical damage, respectively.
Morale: When a fleet is reduced to half its maximum HP, it must attempt a morale check (DC = 10 + 1/2 × the opposing armada’s tier). If the fleet succeeds by 4 or less, it is unaffected. If it exceeds the DC by 5 or more, the fleet is emboldened and gains a +1 bonus to all checks until the end of the next round. If it fails by 4 or less, the fleet is shaken and takes a –1 penalty to all checks until the end of the next round. If it fails by 5 or more, the fleet is routed and attempts to flee combat by the safest route possible. A routed fleet can make attacks at a –2 penalty and continues to flee either until successfully rallied by an admiral or until it has fled for 3 rounds, at which point the fleet is disabled.
When a fleet is routed, any allied fleets within 2 hexes that have half of their HP or fewer remaining must also attempt a morale check with a DC equal to the routed fleet’s AC. A fleet that succeeds at its morale check does not need to attempt further morale checks until the end of the round.
Critical Damage: A fleet takes critical damage whenever a gunnery check results in a natural 20 on the die and the attack deals at least 1 damage to the fleet’s HP. It also takes critical damage when it’s reduced to half its maximum HP. When critical damage is scored, the attacking fleet should roll 1d6 on the table below to determine which system is disrupted.

Table 2–20: Critical Damage
D6 SYSTEM EFFECT
1 Auxiliary System One of the fleet’s special abilities (selected at random) provides no benefits.
2 Communications The fleet gains no benefits from officers, and the fleet’s officers can’t affect other fleets.
3 Engines The fleet takes a –1 penalty to AC and speed.
4 Shields The fleet can’t regain SP.
5 Weapons Reduce all damage dealt by 1 per damage die.
6 Roll twice and apply both results, ignoring 6s and duplicate results.

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