One Page Rules: Faster Than Light

Star Noir operates under the fiction that an FTL drive works. To be specific, Sonny White’s implementation of the Alcubierre Drive works. In Starships, it makes very little impact, except to limit the places from which a ship may escape. I assume that stellar objects are not all known, so there’s a strong risk that a ship jumping into warp might run into one of those objects. Combat is therefore fought at “normal” speeds where Newtonian physics applies.

But what happens if all the objects are charted?

The rules for FTL are so different that this is not really a Starships scenario, but what I refer to as “one page rules” — a game stripped down to just the key mechanics. As a result, this scenario can be played without referring to the Starships rules at all.

(I expect that any One Page Rules will be a simple novelty. The usual “beta” warning also applies, of course.)

1.0 Components

One table, at least four feet to a side.

At least one tape measure. The distances given in these rules are inches; if your measure uses centimeters, doubling the numbers in the rules should give you enough space.

Each player needs a starship model of similar size. One to two inches long is best.

Each player needs some number of missile tokens (probably around ten).

Each player needs some way to record their intended move. Old school gamers can use paper and pencil.

Some way to indicate on the table that a ship or missile has acted this turn. Two distinct kinds of counters are a plus, to differentiate between normal-space actions (launches and rotations) and FTL actions (sprints). Chits, counters, and large glass beads are traditional options.

Between friendly players, no protractor is necessary. Eyeballing angles is probably good enough, as long as you stick to 15° increments.

2.0 Objective

The objective is to destroy your opponent’s starship or drive it off of the playing surface. A starship is destroyed if it takes three missile hits.

If starships collide, both are destroyed and the game ends in a draw.

3.0 Scale

The scale of Faster Than Light is such that straight-line FTL movement dominates, but combatants are close enough together that they can be seen while turning at Newtonian speeds. Distances are approximately one light-second an inch, and turns are two minutes.

4.0 The Turn

A turn consists of three phases: the plot phase, the resolution phase and the end phase. Players record their intended moves during the plot phase, then resolve their opponent’s plot in the resolution phase. Victory is determined in the end phase.

Repeat.

5.0 Plot

A player can order a ship or missile to either rotate or sprint. A ship may alternately be ordered to launch a missile.

A rotation is recorded as an R followed by the angle (from –180° to +180°) that the ship or missile is rotating. A positive angle is clockwise, and negative is counter-clockwise. Angles recorded should be divisible by 15. Examples: R–45; R+15; R75 (the same as R+75).

A sprint is recorded as an S followed by the distance the ship or missile is going to sprint (from 1 to 8 inches). Players can record half inches, but no smaller fraction. Examples: S3; S2.5. (Note that S0.5 is not a legal sprint; a ship or missile must sprint at least one inch.)

A launch is simply recorded with an L. Only ships may launch a missile.

If a player does not plot an order for a ship or missile, the ship or missile does nothing this turn.

If a player plots multiple orders for the same ship or missile in a turn, ignore the second order.

6.0 Resolution

Players exchange plots, then resolve their opponent’s orders in the following sequence: all missile launches, followed by all rotations, and ending with all sprints. Resolve all orders of one type (for both players) before proceeding to the next type.

To resolve a launch, place a new missile onto the table just forward of the ship. Mark both the ship and the missile with a normal-space indicator.

To resolve a rotation, rotate the ship or missile about its post through the recorded angle. Mark the ship or missile with a normal-space indicator.

To resolve a sprint, line the tape measure along the ship or missile’s center line. If the tape crosses any ship or missile (enemy or not) that is marked with a normal-space indicator, it is hit.

  • If you are moving a missile and hit a missile, remove both missiles from the table.
  • If you are moving a missile and hit a ship, or if moving a ship and hit a missile; remove the missile and score a hit against the ship. If that’s the ship’s third hit, remove the ship.
  • If you are moving a ship and hit a ship, remove both ships.

If the tape measure crosses multiple ships and/or missiles, resolve the impacts from near to far. If the moving ship or missile is removed, stop.

If a ship or missile sprints off of the table, it is removed from the game.

7.0 End Phase

If either ship has been removed from the table, the game is over. If one player still has a ship on the table, that player wins. If no player has a ship on the table, the game is a draw.

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