Equipment: Part 1 – Utility Equipment

This post is the first in a series of four posts about equipment.

Almost by definition, a science-fiction miniatures board game will see the characters using technology. The way I see it, there are three types of equipment in Spaceship 47, weapons, armour and utility devices. I am splitting weapons into two further categories: multi-use weapons (i.e. guns) and one time use weapons (i.e. grenades).

Today’s post is about utility equipment.

Equipment and Phases of a Turn

The turn order mechanism in Spaceship 47 involves a movement phase and an action phase (see  So Whose Turn Is It Anyway? ). The action phase will be where weapons are used. Actions will also involve things that take concentration to achieve like hacking a keypad on a door. It could be easy to limit the utility equipment to just the Movement phase, however, there will be useful pieces of utility equipment that would be used in the action phase, like a computer pad to help hack a door!

The movement phase should make the game feel cinematic: swinging across crevasses, jumping over computer consoles, jet packing into enemies, rolling out of the way of shots etc. Utility equipment should help with that.

Side Note: Armour equipment will always be on except for a few rare instances where the player can switch certain functions on and off.

Converting Equipment From the RPG

In the Spaceship 47 RPG there were three stats that a piece of equipment had:

  • Weight
  • Energy Roll
  • Tech-level

I won’t be including Weight and Energy Roll in the board game version but I will be including tech-level.

Weight

In the RPG, each piece of equipment had an abstract weight score. The player could only carry equipment with a weight total equal to or less than the Heroes’ Physique score. Instead of totaling up the amount of weight that a player is carrying, I am going to put each piece of equipment on a card and the number of slots on the character board is the limit as to how much equipment the Hero can carry. I think this will make the game smoother and hopefully won’t sacrifice balance in the different pieces of equipment.

Energy Roll

In the RPG, the energy roll was a target for the player to roll after each encounter that the piece of equipment was used in. If the player didn’t reach the target number, they couldn’t use the piece of equipment again until they got back to Spaceship 47. As each mission is basically one long encounter and after each mission the Heroes will be back on board Spaceship 47, there doesn’t seem to be any point in including this. The other option was to roll after every use, but that just seems like a recipe to slow the game to a crawl.

Tech-level

The one equipment stat I have included from the RPG is the tech-level. A Hero needs an Intelligence equal to or greater than the tech-level to be able to use it. A Hero can carry a piece of equipment even if they cannot use it as they can carry it for someone else to use.

Sparsely Populated Equipment List

This is a sample of the list of Utility equipment I had in the Spaceship 47 RPG. I need to put some actual rules for some of them. I have tried coming up with some cool tech, and have been stealing ideas from films, books and TV shows that I have been consuming.

INERTIAL ROPE SWING
This is a rope with a solid block of Inertium on the end. When you throw 
the Inertium, you can press the button on the other end of the rope and 
the Inertium will activate and be unaffected by any forces, meaning if 
you time it just right, the block can hang in mid-air and never move until
you press the button again.
Tech-level: 2
MOVEMENT PHASE: Make a Cinematic Movement (Medium) check. You may move 
a number of hexes equal to double the number of successes you got. You 
may move through occupied hexes. You must end your movement in an 
unoccupied hex.
HANDHELD SCANNER
A simple handheld device that scans the surrounding area and highlights 
important things.
Tech-level: 1
ACTION PHASE: You can use Data Interpretation instead of Perception while 
using the handheld scanner.
HACKER'S COMPUTER
This portable computer has ports of every conceivable type that exists 
among all of the various aliens discovered so far.
Tech-level: 3
ACTION PHASE: When making a Hacking check, downgrade the difficulty of the 
check by one.
INSTANT SHELTER
A disc the size of your hand that transforms into a small lodge. Pressing 
the button on the disc makes a rigid structure pop out of it that can house
two people comfortably. The walls are a hard metallic substance and it 
screws itself into whatever it is resting on to anchor it.
Tech-level: 1
ACTION PHASE: As an action, you can activate, the Instant Shelter. It 
occupies two adjacent hexes. Any creature inside the shelter cannot be the 
target of an attack from a creature outside the hex. Any creature inside
the shelter cannot attack a creature outside of the shelter. The shelter
does not block line of sight, but no creature can move through it.
THERMAL FIELD GENERATOR
This thermal generator can be tuned so that heat is only emitted from a 
certain distance to a certain distance, ensuring that thermal waste is 
kept to a minimum
Tech-level: 1
ACTION PHASE: Choose any number of hexes in a burst 5. The temperature of 
these hexes is raised to the temperature of your choice up to 120°C.
MICRO SUN
A fairly standard torch which can be left on for years without running out 
of power.
Tech-Level: 1
MOVEMENT PHASE: Instead of moving, you may activate/deactivate the torch. 
While activated, any Perception check has its difficulty decreased by 1.
NIGHT VISION GOGGLES
These goggles allow you to see in complete darkness by exploiting quantum 
thermal phenomenon.
Tech-level: 2
ACTION PHASE: You automatically succeed Perception (Easy) checks.
FACE CHANGER
This device attaches to your face and changes the shape, colour and 
features to that of anyone or species you can program it to.
Tech-level: 3
ACTION PHASE: Make a Deception check:
#   Effect
0   The target recognises you are trying to deceive them
1   The target requires an Read Body Language (Easy) check to determine 
    you are trying to deceive them
2   The target requires an Read Body Language (Medium) check to determine 
    you are trying to deceive them
3   The target requires an Read Body Language (Hard) check to determine 
    you are trying to deceive them
HOVER BOOTS
These sleek looking boots have little field generators to allow you to 
hover.
Tech-level: 2
MOVEMENT PHASE: Instead of moving, you may activate the Hover Boots 
and jump. To jump, make a Cinematic Movement (Hard) check. You may move 
a number of hexes equal to double the number of successes you got. You 
may move through occupied hexes. You must end your movement in an 
unoccupied hex.
While activated, any falling damage is reduced by 2.
LISTENING DEVICE
Tech-level: 2
You can hear sounds up to 1km away as if they are next to you. You must 
have line of sight to the target.

That is my list of utility devices as it stands. There are a few that won’t be useful for the board game, so I really need to come up with a lot more. I guess I need to watch more films, read more books and watch more TV shows!

When I write the missions, that should spark off ideas about what equipment might exists in this universe and what is useful.

If you have any ideas that you don’t mind sharing, please let me know in the comments below, via Twitter @paulbaalham or use the contact form.

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