Space Physical / Metaphysical Law in Star Wars: Shards | World Anvil


Adapted from The Star Wars Roleplaying Game Second Edition, pages 123-129, published by West End Games.
While people, droids, and creatures have Move Attributes, anything capable of travel between star systems has a Space Attribute instead. Whether in "normal space" or "hyperspace", this number serves as a convenient proportional measurement of how far the starcraft travels within a given five standard seconds -- and will only matter in comparison to other objects within the same local area. The other objects could be so many possibilities:
  • other starcraft,
  • stellar or planetary bodies,
  • space stations,
  • the expanding front of a gravitic or energy wave,
  • navigational buoys,
  • missiles,
  • sensor range extremities,
  • proximity mines,
  • unexpected kinks in a formerly clear hyperlane,
  • Captain Kolene's tolerance
On those occasions where a pilot limits their starcraft to atmospheric travel, the Space Attribute has an associated Atmosphere listing. Starships with no Atmosphere listing are not capable of entering atmospheric environments except as part of a crash.

So what is Space supposed to mean?

Space is the distance in meters that could hypothetically be covered in cruising speed travel, in a straight line, over a single combat phase of 5 seconds.
A ship can move once per initiative round, all at once.
It may be possible to move faster by rolling a starcraft's category-based piloting skill (starfighter piloting, space transports, capital ship piloting) -- but that counts as the character's Dice Action for that round of initiative. It might even remove the options to dodge or parry for that round!

Cautious Movement: half Space Attribute or less

The ship proceeds at a very slow rate. Perhaps the co-pilot is running constant scans for obstacles or hidden targets. Perhaps the pilot wishes to reduce the ship's chances of being detected by long-range passive scanners.
Unless the terrain is Difficult (or worse), this is a free action -- just like normal conversation. If the terrain does come with severe complications, the related piloting skill roll faces a difficulty which the GM reduces by one level.

Cruising Movement: full Move Attribute or less

I don't know -- fly casual!
Han Solo to Chewbacca
Starcraft travel at their standard operating speed. They may be conducting business as usual along a well-marked hyperlane or crossing the intervening vacuum between the jump from lightspeed and the edges of BoSS Planetary Traffic Control.
Cruising speed counts as an action in an initiative phaseW, but no actual roll is necessary unless the terrain is Difficult or worse.

High Speed: race at speeds up to twice Space Attribute

No better way to test your skills
than to fly fast and push the limits of your machine.
You need to know every single bolt of your machine
because your life does depend on it.
OH! And make nice with your astromech!
Just trust me on this one.
— Captain Aerena Kolene
There's plot in progress; if this ship does not make good time, they might miss it!
High Speed Movement requires a roll on a relevant piloting skill. Defaulting to Attribute (probably Mechanical) is possible, but trained skills are less likely to face increases to Difficulty levels.
Terrain difficulties of "Difficult" or higher will increase one difficulty level for the skill roll even when attempted by a trained athlete! The character has less spare attention to notice unstable footing or similar obstacles before they are already atop them.

All-Out: sprint up to four times Space Attribute

You feel that? The thrum of the engines pushed past maximum.
The scream of the angels, they are jealous because I have faster wings.
All-out travel is for true emergencies. It absolutely requires a roll on the related piloting skill, and the commitment to top speed increases the difficulty at least one level for any terrain.
It also removes the possibility of doing anything else in that phase. Pilots moving all-out cannot make Perception checks, they cannot communicate with team or bystanders or opponents, they cannot fire weapons, they cannot even dodge or parry. If this starcraft has crew stations for additional personnel, those other functions are still available (albeit at increased levels of difficulty) -- a navigator or co-pilot could attempt astrogation checks or make a sensors roll for a shorter range than normal, perhaps adjust shields settings. Gunners at designated gunnery stations might be able to fire. All of these additional crew functions do carry a potential risk of overstraining the engines.

Typical Space Attributes

House Rule: Nah!
In the Shards campaign, we do not count full Space transit as an action in a combat phase (requiring that the pilot's player withhold a die from all other rolls that phase) unless 1) the terrain is Difficult or worse; 2) the starcraft is taking an unfamiliar and extremely complicated route; 3) the pilot character is pushing their ship's Space to its maximum, which would be "High Speed" or "All-Out".

Starship Movement Failures

When the piloting check falls short of its target number, the starcraft immediately is in trouble. It may suffer partial engine or hyperdrive failure, which will at least slow it down and might abruptly shut the entire ship down to emergency life support only. The ship might bobble off-course slightly, forfeiting half its intended movement; it might spin completely out of control, floundering off in a random direction for at least ten seconds.
Or it might suffer a collision.

Collision Damage

High Speed

Damage Code Variables

Minor Collision
Major Collision
Head-on crash
Rear-ender / sideswipe


Space vs Atmosphere

Some starcraft only have the ability to travel through near-vacuum in "normal space" when they are not using their hyperdrive to move through hyperspace. The bigger the starcraft is, the less likely it was meant to shrug off the complex stresses of pressure vectors on its hull if it dips into a planet's atmosphere.
Others, however, are meant to be able to land on a planet's surface, or dip below its oceans, or maybe deploy a scoop to gather some sort of fluid material from a planetary body to refuel the starcraft's power cells. Most starfighters and space transports are capable of travel within a standard atmosphere, from the tiniest supply pod to the very large Bulk Freighters. These starcraft have an Atmosphere Attribute listed in their summaries, either under "Speed" after the Maneuverability or else just after the hyperdrive multiplier and Space Attributes.

The mathematics of starcraft in an atmosphere

Each rating level of the Space Attribute always converts directly to a distinct Atmosphere Attribute rating, which can be directly translated as a "Move but for starships".
Any functional vehicle can probably maintain a stationary position at a Move or Atmosphere of "0", whether that is a starcraft or a repulsorlift or a sandcrawler or a Gungan Lifepod. It is difficult, however, for most starcraft pilots to maintain a steady speed between "stationary" and any increment below an Atmosphere of 210 -- equivalent to a little over 150 kilometers per hour. Combat gets nerve-twitchingly difficult if Move-based combatants have to keep track of opposing Atmosphere-based combatants!
  Space conversion directly to Atmosphere, then to All-Out speeds in kilometers per hour

Ship Movement Rates in an Atmosphere

What follows is a close adaptation of the original West End Games rules for ship movement within an atmosphere environment. It appears on page 129 of The Star Wars Roleplaying Game Second Edition, published by West End Games in August 1996.

The Shards setting almost never uses this ruleset nowadays; in fact, many of our Starships articles and related rules do not list the number from the middle column at all. Races are resolved by roleplay descriptions, supported with piloting rolls (combining the relevant skill with the ship's maneuverability code).

Every once in a while, however, a crew might need to know exactly how far their ship can travel from Planetary Reference Point A to Planetary Reference Point B within a finite time period. The clock is ticking down!

All hyperdrive-capable ships have a Space Attribute. Only ships that also list an Atmosphere can travel within the complex pressure environment of an atmosphere.

The fastest way to use this chart would be to look up the starcraft's Space Attribute. Presume the chart is needed because the urgency of the scene has the starcraft traveling at its All-Out maximum speed within atmosphere. The total distance that a fully functional ship can traverse in a single combat phase (five seconds) is the number in the third column, which is four times the number in the second column.

By far, however, this table will see use when the GM wants to emphasize how fast an enemy starfighter is approaching on its strafing run.



Maximum Move
per phase
per Hour
(All-Out Speed)

Difficult terrain??
Well, I have raced through Coruscant
and fought space battles with lasers, ships, and bodies going in all directions.
The absolute worst terrain was this little desert area on Chalcedon -- rocky spires and flying animals as well as young yahoos that THINK they know how to pilot - that's difficult terrain.

— Captain Aerena Kolene
to racing reporter Hal Lorhan
from The WAVE Pirate Radio

Terrain Difficulties in Space!

Adapted from page 125 of
The Star Wars Roleplaying Game Second Edition
by WEG

Many contributing factors help the GM determine the difficulty number of a space roll: how fancy is the described action, how long has the movement been going on, how recently has the GM had a good laugh or a rest break, how much attention are the forces of Evil paying to this moment, is the pilot or starship damaged in some way.
They all start with what kind of physical environment the starship's pilot plans to traverse!
Players may find it helpful to have benchmarks as to how difficult their circumstances are known to be at the outset. That leaves room in the plan for unknown detriments.

Text of the table below is quoted directly from the sourcebook. The only changes were reformatting it for ease of use.

Terrain Difficulty
Descriptive Examples
Very Easy:
Flying a starship in clear space with no navigational hazards.
Flying a starship in the vicinity of other starships, suchas orbiting a space station.
Flying around minor obstacles in space, such as a small, dispersed asteroid belt.
Flying a starship in crowded space== a busy spacedock staging area.
Flying in an area littered with a moderate amount of debris or down theDeath Star's artificial canyon.
Starfighter combat with many ships in the immediate area.
Flying through an area clogged with debris or asteroids.
Very Difficult:
Flying a starship in an area of space densely packed with other starships or debris.
Flying through Heroic terrain is almost impossible. Flying the Millennium Falcon inside the Death Star to reach its reactor core.
Flying through Hoth system's asteroid field.


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