Lightspeed is a pen-and-paper RPG that imitates the computer game FTL: Faster Than Light without having giant spiders eat your crew when you're not looking.
When Earth was invaded, they made no demands, no attempt at communication, just a slow descent upon the cities of humanity. In the aftermath of their defeat, their technology was salvaged from the thousands of wrecks scattered across the planet, and the secrets of interstellar travel were unlocked.
As the nations and corporations of Earth spread through the cosmos, they found other species, each of whom had been attacked by the Invaders, and who had likewise plundered their technology. With a common basis for their spaceships, partnership and alliances were formed easily, and trade flourished across the stars in this mysterious galaxy, where the existence and motives of the Invaders remain a puzzle unsolved.
When drafting a new crew, each ship starts with 6 crew members of any species. Each crew member has 10 hit points (designating their vitality), 10 skill points, which can be assigned to any number of skills, and 1 perk.
The longer a crew member stays aboard the ship, the more experienced they become. They will gain 1 new skill point every galactic cycle. Perks are gained as rewards for successful missions.
- Arachnid: A species of natural engineers, thanks to their biosteel webbing that acts as the perfect conductor.
- Move Speed 8
- Repairs +4 additional points per turn.
- Glypton: A wholly synthetic species from creators unknown, capable of surviving and thriving in hostile environments.
- Move Speed 6
- Immune to environmental damage (fire, vacuum).
- Human: A generally amiable and charismatic species that comes in many different varieties.
- Move Speed 6
- Regains +4 additional hit points per turn in the Medical Bay.
- Nemeton: A species of mobile carnivorous plants with aggressive tendencies, still engaging in a militaristic society.
- Move Speed 6
- Deals +2 additional combat damage.
- Quarg: A large but gentle silicon-based species with a hard rocky exterior and crystalline organs.
- Move Speed 5
- Reduces all damage received by 2.
- Zeta: Technologically advanced but physically weak bipeds with dual brains, who propagate through cloning techniques.
- Move Speed 5
- Has a maximum skill rank of 15 (instead of 10) for Science and Engineering.
These are the eight skills that any crew member can train in. The maximum rank any crew member can have in a skill is 10. However, perks and species abilities can raise skills above their maximum rank.
- Combat: Used when engaging in enemy crew members, often during boarding scenarios, or when sabotaging shipboard systems. When attacking, the crew member takes a penalty to their skill rank equal to half their opponent's Combat skill rank (rounded down).
- Engineering: Used for maintaining the vital core systems of a ship. The operating crew member reduces cooldown for shield regeneration and engine overdrive by 1 turn per skill rank.
- Piloting: Used for piloting the ship, and its drone contingent (if any). The operating crew member increases ship agility by 1 per skill rank.
- Repair: Used for repairing damage done to systems. When a crew member is repairing, the room regains hit points equal to their skill rank every turn.
- Science: Used for operating the medical bay and scientific lab. Crew members healing in the medical bay regain extra health points equal to the staff's skill rank per turn.
- Targeting: Used for working the weapons systems of a ship. The operating crew member reduces weapon recharge by 1 turn per skill rank.
Perks are small bonuses that differentiate crew members from one another. Some are restricted by species.
- Away Team: Gain +2 to Combat skill rank when in the same room as at least one other friendly crew member with this perk.
- Bot Wrangler: Gain +2 to Piloting skill rank when staffing Drone Control.
- Medical Training: Gain +2 to Science skill rank when staffing the Medical Bay.
- Power Coupling (Glypton): Provides an additional power unit to the room this crew member is staffing.
- Probe Mastery (Zeta): Gain +2 to Science skill rank when staffing the Scientific Lab.
- Regenerative Sap (Nemeton): Regain 1 hit point per turn while hit points are 6 or more.
- Riker Bloodline (Human): Other friendly crew members in the same room gain +2 on all skill ranks, provided this crew member is not staffing the room.
- Rock Block (Quarg): Enemy crew members cannot move through the square this crew member is occupying.
- Venomous Bite (Arachnid): Opponents hit by this crew member in combat cannot regain hit points outside a Medical Bay.
Bridge. Required skill, Piloting.
The shipboard AIs descended from the salvaged technology left behind by the invaders are only capable for cold, clinical movements. While this makes lightspeed jumps possible, movement at sublight speeds is clunky at best. It is for this reason the invaders failed, and for this reason that modern ships are piloted by a crewmember.
When a crewmember is at the helm, the Evasion of the ship is increased by their Piloting skill rank, allowing the ship to better dodge incoming fire, asteroids, and other hazards. See the Combat section below for more on Evasion.
Engines. Required skill, Engineering.
A ship's engines provide what is called pan-directional thrust, without the need for primitive rockets, allowing for effective, if not exactly graceful, changes in direction while at speed. All shipboard power is derived from the engines, and can be reallocated with ease to any necessary systems. Each engine room provides a number of Power Cards (see below), which represent the amount of power a ship produces. Each system on a ship (besides Engines themselves) requires power in order to function.
A ship's engines can be pushed into Overdrive, giving a massive boost in output for a very short period of time. A ship with multiple engines cannot "stagger" Overdrives, due to the power linkings. There are several things an engine in Overdrive can do:
- +10 Evasion
- Flip all power cards back to active.
- Flip all shield cards back to active.
Once Overdrive has been used, the engines must maintain standard output for 50 turns, often making this a once-per-battle maneuver.
Quite possibly the only system on a ship that requires power constantly, Life Support ensures that the air is breathable and the temperature does not stray into extremes. By curious galactic coincidence, almost all sentient life can subsist on (or at least tolerate) the Earth-standard mixture of gases, with some minor alterations.
Each room has a percentage, called an Atmospheric Rating, that measures the survivability of that room. If life support is inactive, the atmospheric rating of all rooms drops by 5% per turn. When a room is suffering a hull breach, the rating drops by 10% per turn. When the room has an open airlock, the rating drops by 25% per turn. If a room is adjacent to a room that is suffering from vacuum, and does not have blast doors, its atmospheric rating drops by 5% per turn.
If a room has an atmospheric rating of 50% or below, any crew member inside takes 1 damage per turn. If a room has an atmospheric rating of 25% or below, any crew member inside takes 2 damage per turn. If a room has an atmospheric rating of 0%, any crew member inside takes 4 damage per turn.
Mobile Weapons Platform: Also known simply as an "attack drone", the mobile weapons platform can be mounted with one beam or cannon weapon, allowing multiple attack vectors during combat. Its small size makes it impractical for missile weapons. Its basic AI will, once given a target, repeatedly attack that target while working to avoid both friendly and enemy fire. Switching targets requires a command issued from drone control. Unlike the other drones, this one is launched, and cannot function while aboard ship. An active MWP can be targeted in combat.
- Hit Points 20
- Can hold 1 weapons system at a time. Must be recalled aboard ship for refit. If destroyed, both drone and weapons system are reduced to scrap.
Anti-Personnel: The first and last word in automated defenses, anti-personnel drones can patrol ships and spacestations tirelessly, armed with cutting-edge weaponry that enables the swift and decisive termination of intruders with minimal structural damage. Because of their heavy armor, and the dedication of much of their processing power to targeting systems, they require basic direction from drone control.
- Hit Points 15
- Move Speed 5
- Combat skill 10.
System Repair: Lightweight, swift, but rather fragile, system repair drones are effective at maintaining vital circuitry with a host on built-in tools and resources. With limited AI, they need to be directed by drone control, but once in a damaged area they will work diligently to bring it back to operational status.
- Hit Points 5
- Move Speed 7
- Repair skill 10.
Beam: Best used against unshielded targets, beams are capable of doing swathes of damage. In addition to their weapon Damage, which determines the damage they do, a beam also has Range, which determines the duration of their attack.
In this example, the beam has Range 7 Damage 3, meaning it can hit 7 grid squares of the enemy ship. Each square must be adjacent (ie, within 1 square) of the previous square, and the beam cannot target the same square twice. Each grid square hit takes the specified Damage, in this case 3 per square for a total of 21 damage spread over four rooms: 6 for 1+2, 6 for 3+4, 6 for 5+6, and 3 for 7.
Once a beam has been fired, it needs time to recharge: one turn for every point of Range, so 7 turns for this particular beam. This recharge time can be reduced (to an absolute minimum of one turn) by staffing Weapons with a crewmember skilled in Targeting.
A beam's Range and Damage are both reduced by 1 for every shield it has to pass through, meaning that significant shielding can severely reduce the effectiveness of the beam, sometimes making it worthless.
Cannon: The basic weapon of all interstellar ships, and capable of using a wide variety of electromagnetic ammunition, the cannon does small but significant amounts of damage, and best fired in large volleys of several cannons at once.
In this example, the cannon has Damage 5 and has targeted one of the enemy ship's rooms. It will deal its full Damage to the entire room at once, causing 5 damage to that room.
Once a cannon has been fired, it needs time to recharge: one turn for every point of Damage, so 5 turns for this particular cannon. This recharge time can be reduced (to an absolute minimum of one turn) by staffing Weapons with a crewmember skilled in Targeting.
If the cannon shot is blocked by a shield, that level of shield is depleted. Repetitive cannon shots are the quickest and most cost-efficient way to deplete an enemy's shields.
Missile: Missiles are conventional explosives that can punch through shielding, but run the risk of being intercepted by ECM and rendered inert. If successful, a missile hit deals significant damage, but each time a missile is fired, it depletes the ship's missile stocks.
In this example, the missile has Damage 10 and has been fired at one of the enemy ship's grid squares. The target square receives 100% Damage, and every adjacent square receives 50% Damage. The room that has been hit receives 25 damage (10+5+5+5) and the two adjacent rooms take 5 damage each.
Once a missile has been fired, it needs time to reload: one turn for every point of Damage, so 10 turns for this particular missile. This reload time can be reduced (to an absolute minimum of one turn) by staffing Weapons with a crewmember skilled in Targeting.
A missile cannot be fired if the ship's missile stock has been reduced to zero. A launched missile will always take up one missile, even if it does not hit the target.