What is the mechanic behind tachyons

Review: Tachyon Squadron - Space Dogfights with Fate Core

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

Tachyon Squadron: A squadronfearless space pilot in a distant future, a daring fight against tyrannical oppression, tension and action from the cockpit; all that promises Tachyon Squadron. Can it be Fate-Adjust mechanics to it? Is it possible to implement the genre conventions accordingly? And what does the background world promise us?

After quite a few other science fiction RPGs like FraggedEmpires or Starfinder want us too Evil Hat Productions lead to the stars with a game. In an increasingly crowded market segment, must TachyonSquadron find their own niche. Let's see what Clark Valentine made of it.

Table of Contents

Why is?

TachyonSquadron is a very focused game. Instead of focusing on the setting in which you can play everything imaginable, you concentrate on Tachyon Squadron on a single plot frame, a single core story: All SC are fighter pilots in space. This is reflected in the setting, in the rule changes opposite FateCore, in character creation. Everything else was subordinated to this purpose or aligned with it. TachyonSquadron does not want to be a science fiction role-playing game, it wants to be a space pilot role-playing game. Daily routines of the pilots, missions and mission types, activities during off duty on the base, conflicts with pilots of rival squadrons such as the Graviton Squadron. The actions of the corresponding magazine or television series on the Second World War are a clear model here, Pacific Squadron 214 could have been the godfather - oh what, could: the original book Baa Baa Black Sheep and the television series (in English Black Sheep Squadron) are even explicitly mentioned.

In terms of content, this means: dogfights in space, laser cannons and roaring machines, supply problems and bar fights with the pilots of the Axion Squadron.

The game world

A few hundred years ago, mankind set off into space, and several star systems around the earth were settled at faster than light speeds. In addition to superluminal speed drives, there is artificial gravity at the push of a button, laser beams, shield generators, etc. The physics is cinematically bent in some places, space fighters behave more like fighters from the Second World War. Based on this, there is no realistic space combat as it should actually take place, but as we know it from a large number of film and television productions: An SF-46 D “Blackfish” Multirole Starfighter behaves like an X-Wing Starwars. Alien life is present, but so far humanity has not encountered any other intelligent life in space.

So much for the scope, but every military sci-fi game needs a war. In this case, the Great Galactic War has actually been over for ten years: the Earth-based Stellar Republic, a democratic state based on the American model, but free from racism, sexism and the like, was at war with the Dominion of Unity for years , a dictatorial surveillance state that has built up an almost religious personality cult around its ruling family - these are obviously the bad guys. After eleven years, Republic and Dominion signed a peace treaty that has now lasted ten years.

Then the little Draconis system declared its independence from the Dominion, which the Dominion does not want to accept. The Stellar Republic supports the independence of the Draconis system and has decided to help unofficially: Three squadrons of retired Blackfish fighters have been made available to the Draconis system. Volunteer pilots have been recruited in the Republic and in independent systems to give the Draconis system time to build its own space fleet before it is recaptured from the Dominion.

Here, too, a quite conventional setting emerges: there is a large, evil, dictatorial empire that faces a small, clearly inferior faction of good guys. We know something like that, with some cutbacks, from the rebel alliance in the fight against the empire Starwars, from the space station, which will be independent from the third season Babylon 5 against the Earth Alliance.

The Draconis system as an essential place of action - after all, space fighters are not capable of jumping - is described in more detail:

Draconis as the main world is an earth-like garden world with several hundred million inhabitants. With a lot of agriculture and a thriving tech sector, picturesque beaches and ski areas, this is a lovely planet worth defending against evil.

Two gas giants, a mercury-like rocky planet and a frosty mining planet as well as an asteroid belt with plenty of space to hide and for ambushes complete the picture. A number of very different space stations are also briefly described.

Besides the for Fate typical aspects for each place the section “Things to do on ...”: Here the role-play and action-related function of the place is specifically dealt with for players and game masters. If you as SL don't know what you could use a place for, you can find useful information here.

Overall, the background doesn't look like anything special at first glance. At first you might think that the makers didn't bother with this setting.

But you can also see a specific design intention in it: Fate as a system is designed precisely to create the world in which you play together as a group. Against this background, the setting makes perfect sense: It is a working placeholder! With the exchange of the Dominion by any other evil star realm in a different setting, you can still keep the essentials. If you exchange the Dominion for the Empire Starwars out, Draconis has renounced the Empire. The rebel alliance replaces the Republic, instead of the SF-46 D "Blackfish", Z-95 headhunters were delivered. The setting of Tachyon Squadron does not have badly worked out places, but deliberate spaces with connection sockets for other settings.

Nevertheless, this setting can easily be played on, as it contains everything you need. What is missing is just the unique selling point.

But this also shows that the creators were not interested in this specific setting, but in playing fighter pilots in space, and thus ...

The rules

The rules of Tachyon Squadron are basically Fate Core. About the usefulness or functionality of the Fate-Rules per se can apply when reviewing a specific Fate-Settings do not go. Given these rules, I will now deal with the main deviations:

Since it is about playing fighter pilots, there is above all a large expansion of rules for space combat. The temptation to set up a tabletop or some other form of conflict simulation is resisted.

There are many attempts to depict space battles in role play, and in my experience this can only succeed if the battle rules either represent a really good tabletop or if they abstract the place and position of the combatants. Another problem is often that of getting all players to participate in the fight in a meaningful way. With the usual mixed group of heroes in a small spaceship modeled on the Millennium Falcon, there isn't always something for all characters to do. How to go at Tachyon Squadron deal with these problems?

JEvery character is initially a fighter pilot. The Blackfish fighters to be controlled are one-person space fighters, so no one is simply the co-pilot or on-board mechanic. Everyone sits at the wheel of their own hunter, everyone can meaningfully intervene in the fight in almost every round. With that, some of the difficulties would already be eliminated by the core story.

Furthermore, the decision was made to use a high degree of abstraction for the fighting positions, and still be able to depict typical dogfight actions.

The playing field is the "Maneuver Chart", a map with 15 fields sorted one below the other with numbers from +9 to -3, framed by the "Undetected" field at the top and the "Special" field at the bottom. This represents the tactical position of a hunter in relation to the rest of the combatants. Everyone can take action against anyone on the chart, but you can only attack someone who is at least on the same level or below. So everyone can always do something useful, but it still plays a crucial role where you are on the chart.

Through a few samples from a. at the beginning of the fight the position on the maneuver chart is determined.

Then comes the action phase. From top to bottom on the maneuver chart, the players perform the actions, two in number. There is a clear list of actions that can be taken on a single page, which can also be found conveniently as a handout at the end of the book. It is also shown here which of the actions can only be carried out as the first or only as the second action, which is an attacking act that does not work against opponents above, and which can be carried out against anyone.

The play test showed that you can cooperate very well. If someone cannot attack, he can at least push an opponent away with the push action so that another can attack him. At any time, anyone could do something useful that would affect the opposing markers on the Maneuver Chart. The attack maneuver On their tail works very well, with which you sit behind an enemy hunter in terms of content, on the maneuver chart you are exactly one space above the opponent and stay there as long as he does not get rid of you with the shake of a tail or you has another goal. Even if the opponent uses tactical refocus to bring his position on the chart to +7, you stay behind him and land at +8. The missing exact position very successfully represents the confused mess of a dogfight. Rot3 is sitting on Goblin4's neck, when he is suddenly pushed away by Goblin2 and gets into the field of fire of Goblin6.

At the end of the round, each marker moves down one space as long as no tactical refocus action has been taken.

In the case of the damage system, there was a change from freely formulable consequences to fixed states, which can also be selected from a limited list (with a Fate-Cube). As in many systems, this means that the principle of damage is passed on, which then increases through individual penalties to the explosion of the ship.

Character creation

At the beginning of the character creation, there is once again a clear reference to what it is about. It goes with Tachyon Squadron specifically not to play a maintenance technician, squadron chaplain, or ordinary people. It's about fighter pilots!

This is then in the usual Fate-Pattern implemented: As a group, you think about the concepts together, determine aspects, distribute the skill points in the Fate- Skills pyramid and selects free stunts. The dilemma aspect is different from FateCore replaced by the decompression aspect: How does the pilot let off steam? This is always phrased in two directions, has a decent, civilized version and a very problematic one that is used when the civilized version is not available. The example character Jiaohua "Nok" Kristensen z. B. has as decompression "I run, therefore I am! / I can't get past a card game!": Actually, he runs the stress off his mind during a marathon. But if that's not possible on a cramped space station, he'll get into trouble playing a card game.

The list of skills is reduced due to the clearly defined core story. It is divided into three blocks, first the four spacefaring skills (Gunnery, Pilot, Tactics and Technology), which all dominate the rehearsals in the cockpit, and second, the five action skills (Athletics, Fight, Notice, Shoot and Sneak), which are action-packed Scenes outside the hunting machines dominate, and thirdly, the five social skills (Discipline, Empathy, Investigate, Provoke and Rapport) that will dominate the non-combat scenes. Also on the lack of deceive / deception FateCore is explicitly entered into. This shortening of the skill list focuses the game on the essentials: You don't play diplomats, thieves, villains, but fighter pilots. Instead, what would otherwise be attached to this game as ballast has been removed.

The example stunts all relate to spacefaring skills. Since anyway FateCore referenced, which is available in German as a free download from Uhrwerk Verlag and in English as Pay what you want at Evil Hat Productions is available, the stunts that are part of the skills available there do not necessarily have to be repeated Tachyon Squadron be enumerated.

Further content

The book is rounded off with two ready-made scenarios, one of which passed a test game in my round, sample characters and rules for creating space fighters. The latter are very short, as hunter values ​​are very general and the ships are kept very modular.