With Hostile Intent - Rules Overview
With Hostile Intent is a game of intermediate level of detail and complexity. It is a squadron level game where a player's force will generally consist of six to twelve ships. Each ship is an independent fighting unit with its own ship control sheet (SCS) and multiple weapon systems that are free to fire at any available targets. Many of the base mechanisms in the game are commonly encountered in other game systems and so many of the rules are fairly intuitive to new players.
A battle is divided into turns, and each turn is divided into three phases. This is mainly done as an organizational tool to help split up events that happen at various times, but it also provides a form of impulse movement that helps mitigate the "teleportation effect" that commonly occurs in starship combat games. This is an effect where fast moving ships can pass through firing arcs of their opponent without the opponent getting an opportunity to fire at optimum range.
During each phase ships move and fire and do all of the various actions that take a short amount of time to accomplish. At the beginning and ending of turns, the actions that take place over longer lengths of time occurs such as fighting fires, changing the settings of a ship's hyperfield drive, reorganizing the command structure within the fleet, and performing damage control.
WHI's initiative system is neither random, nor static. Each ship has an initiative value which tells players when it moves and when it fires, but these values can be changed based on the command structure of a player's fleet. Maximizing command points, and spending them wisely to increase the initiative of key ships is every bit as tactical of a decision as moving and firing.
Movement in WHI is done in inches, though any consistent unit of measurement will work equally well. WHI uses a simple inertia system, meaning once a ship is traveling in a given direction, it keeps going in that direction until the player does something to change it. The game is designed to be played as a 3d system, though it is a simple matter to ignore that aspect and play it in 2d if preferred.
A ship has three directions of speed - North / South, West / East, and Up / Down. The combination of these speeds tell the player how to move their ship in a very simple linear fashion (despite the game being in 3d) and ships may be moved on a grid for added simplicity.
Speed changes and pivots are accomplished by spending thrust points out of different thrusters.
Facing is completely independent of the direction of travel in WHI. Ships can travel backwards, sideways, or any other orientation - it is space after all. Logically, facing does affect where thrusters and weapons are pointing so if a ship has a thruster blown off, a player may need to pivot his ship to bring another thruster around to bear for maneuvering.
Faster Than Light (FTL)
Ships in WHI have two forms of FTL travel; Hyperfield Drives and Hypergate Torpedoes - both of which are based upon the peculiarities of the scientific discoveries in the WHI universe.
Hyperfield Drives distort the fabric of space-time around ships enabling them to travel faster than they would in normal space. The trade-off for faster travel is higher fuel usage. If a ship runs out of fuel it will be unable to maneuver so it becomes a tactical decision whether or not to crank up the drive setting.
Hypergate Torpedoes are effectively a fusion bomb pumped hyperfield drive used to rip holes in the fabric of space-time. This can only be done at certain "Nexus Points" within a star system. The universe quickly repairs itself and the hole will collapse, but for a short time it forms a kind of wormhole, or space fold, where ships that pass into the hole will emerge instantly in another nearby star system. The in-game effect of this is players can set two maps on the table and jump from one map to another by using their hypergate torpedoes. This of course can lead to a variety of interesting scenarios and objectives.
Ships have "Profiles" based on the direction incoming fire is coming from. These profiles represent how easy it is to hit the ship from those different angles and take into account many aspects of the ship design including emissions, defensive electronic warfare, automated decoy defensive systems, and so on. This number represents the base to-hit value when shooting at the ship.
Ships also have sensors which help targeting computers cut through the defensive systems of their targets and they provide a bonus to hit.
Lastly, ships weapons become less accurate at longer ranges due to hypercavitation and time smear effects (since in the WHI universe ships travel constantly near to or faster than light speeds) and so ranges outside of point blank adds penalties to the to hit. So, like many games, the firing calculation is simple profile + sensors - range = to-hit value or less on a d20.
When a target is hit, damage is determined and the defending player rolls armor saving throws versus some or all of the damage depending on the weapon type. Whatever damage gets through is rolled on a hit location chart and applied using a typical damage-box system. Since individual systems are represented on the SCS, ships will degrade over time as they become more and more damaged. Damage and number of boxes however is kept fairly low so the process moves quickly.
Torpedoes, Missiles and other "Ballistic" Weapons
Ballistic weapons, a general term for weapons which have their own thrust and guidance, are represented on the tabletop in WHI. They have a greatly simplified form of movement and can be shot down by point defense weapons. When launched they move toward their target until they either run out of endurance, or they get close enough to perform their attack. These weapons can take the form of a cloud of small rockets that barrage an area of space, huge ICBM-sized missiles with fusion warheads, to any size and shape in-between. The advantage of these types of weapons is they never suffer range penalties. The downside is they are almost always supply dependent, they still need to roll to hit, and they can be shot down before they even get close to their target.
Ships in WHI have crew represented on the SCS, and that crew is vital to the ship's operation. Each turn they have an opportunity to perform damage control. It's not a lot, but it may be enough to bring a weapon back online, put out a fire caused by a weapon hit, or remove the effects of a hit to a critical system.
Ships in WHI can engage in computer attacks; spoofing sensors, hacking security protocols, uploading viruses by tricking sub-systems, and a variety of other hacks that can worm their way into enemy computer systems. Once infected, players can shut down weapon systems, take control of thrusters, make an opponent's ship fire on one of their own, or even turn off the reactor safeties and set it to overload. The only recourse for a ship that is infected is by either removing the virus through the slow process of damage control, or by doing a reboot of the entire ship which will make the ship a sitting duck and unable to do anything for an entire turn.
...And So Much More
From the ground up, WHI is designed to be extremely flexible. Weapons and systems are based on a modular collection of attributes where virtually any kind of weapon, shield, or other system can be modeled without having to shoe-horn in special house-rules. A lot of aspects may be abstracted but exist to provide hooks into campaign systems, role-playing scenarios, and allow players to create any kind of scenario imaginable.
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