200t vs 300t Ship dogfight


So, my group while dining at a spaceport restaurant at Oghma, came across a semi-comatose well dressed drunken lady under the table in the restaurant. She had slept there from the previous night, and hadn't been seen due to the long tablecovers. Once the group got her coherent, they find out she was a member of a music band. She'd missed her touring ship which had set off to Thebus for a week's break from playing/touring to hunt the Thebus lion.

The player group, decided to escort her to Thebus (for a decent fee) the following day so she can get back to her ship to continue the tour.

After a week in jump plus time to reach Thebus, they find the ship they are looking for, but it has been shot down by a 300t Glorious Empire ship. The Glorious Empire ship amounts to a mere crew of 5 and a tamed lion. They have been targetting groups coming to the planet hunting lions.

The Glorious Empire ship is landed near a lake. The ship with the remaining band members has crash landed in the lake following the attack. The ship is damaged with some sections full of water, but the crew are alive - all be it 30m under the water. The Aslan crew are outside of the ship, admiring their handywork and relaxing.

The player's (who seem to love a good mickey mouse plan) decide to fly down through the atmosphere in their 200t modified Free Trader and shoot the Glorious Empire ship while it's on the ground hoping to damage it badly enough to ground it.

We've been playing for a few months in this campaign, but have yet to have any space combat.
We had one round of combat while I allowed the players to have a surprise round of shooting on the Glorious Empire ship (A 300t Aoa’iw-Class Light Trader). They flew down to less than 1km above the ship, and fired their single pulse laser, getting a critical hit, which in the end just did more hull damage. A total of about 16 hull damage. Quite low for the 120HP it has.
The players ship levelled out and planned on turning round to shoot it again, hopefully before the Aslan crew get it operational, or at least man the two double turrets.

That was when we hit the time to get our kids to bed and pack in playing for the night.

Now, having read through the Space Coombat rules again, at the ranges we're dealing with here - under 1km - it will be a dogfight style combat. It's in an atmosphere and the range bands aren't really relevant.
However, the section on Dog Fighting, has "In addition, spacecraft of 100 tons or more are not designed for this kind of ‘knife-fight’ and will suffer DM-6 on all attack rolls they attempt."
This would affect both ships.

Next week is our next session, but is it going to be a long drawn out gaming session where we slug it out with pairs of two dice and a -6 modifier, hoping eventually to roll a hit? With the Hull Points they have, this could be a rather dull drawn out battle. I was hoping for an atmospheric battle where the slightly better NPC ship, but badly damaged chases the PC ship in a scene reminiscent of the planetary chase through canyons in one of the Firefly episodes (or the Serenity film, I forget which)

Should I just ignore the -6 modifier for this and have a dogfight. I want the first ship combat we have to be 'fun' without too much GM rigging of the dice.

Any thoughts people have are gladly welcome.
I’d leave it in. Making the attack roll that difficult rewards the better fighter - the one that can stack the most positive DMs: gunner skill, dex modifier, pilot aid, sensor lock, winning the dogfight round, etc.

Besides, assuming the Harrier has more thrust than its opponent, it can separate out of dog fight range whenever it wants and just blast away.
My read is that the DM-6 for 100+dton ships in a dogfight is only used versus small craft (ie, highly maneuverable fighters). Since both ships are roughly the same size I would personally drop the DM-6 for this encounter.

I would however give each pilot DM-2 for atmospheric maneuvers, unless they have the Flyer skill, which I would make take precedence.

Lastly, I’d use the difference in Thrust ratings as a +/-DM. So the faster ship gets a +DM for anything involving movement, dodging, changing range, etc, while the slower ship would receive an equal -DM.

Hope that helps and please let us know how it goes!
Old School said:
Besides, assuming the Harrier has more thrust than its opponent, it can separate out of dog fight range whenever it wants and just blast away.

Side note, not a Harrier.
Lastly, I’d use the difference in Thrust ratings as a +/-DM. So the faster ship gets a +DM for anything involving movement, dodging, changing range, etc, while the slower ship would receive an equal -DM.

This is already covered in the dog fight rules. You get a +1DM to the dogfight roll for every point of thrust you dedicate to dogfighting. But that means that point of thrust can't be used to evade, maneuver out of dogfight range, assist gunners, etc. The winner of the dogfight roll gets +2DM to attacks. The loser gets -2DM to attacks, and can't attack at all with fixed mount weapons.
I agree with baithammer - the PCs have the edge until the aslan can get off the ground. That should take at least one more round.
Old School said:
Lastly, I’d use the difference in Thrust ratings as a +/-DM...

This is already covered in the dog fight rules...

Ah, I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing that out, I had forgotten. Never use the dogfight rules, or haven’t yet anyway.
I like the dogfight rules. They are pretty good, other than the ridiculous 6 second round part. Too many issues with that. I understand Marc Milller insisted on that being included.

Only other problem with dogfight rules is that a heavily armored fighter with pulse lasers will shred a larger ship by winning the dogfight roll every round, and is too hard to hit with anything other than lasers, which the armor shrugs off. This gets back the issue that armor being a percentage of tonnage is a huge advantage for small craft. Have thought about house rules to try to fix it, but never needed any. That might change soon, as my players want to invest in a few 40 ton fighters in our campaign.
Dogfight turns are 6 seconds. Can they wake up, put their spacepants on, get airborne, and start maneuvering in 6 seconds?

I would probably give them a coup-de-gras roll to just win before all of that.

But we've past that point now as you've done the first turn.

Let's assume they somehow magically got their pants on, and got up in the air in 6 seconds. Where are their turrets located? Maybe give a dogfight modifier for stupid turret placement, depending on how badly they're setup.

I don't really want to start this whole "do spacecraft have antigrav/how do they take off" debate again, but it's very relevant here, in how they take off. I'm assuming a ship that is designed for wilderness operation doesn't need a runway, it just antigravs onto its tail then fires the main drive straight up, then maneuvers like an aircraft - but what if it can actually fly on anti-grav like a hovertank?

In atmosphere dogfight, this type of anti-grav will give a huge advantage.

However I'm not really sure what dogfight means when everyone has a turret or maybe one side can anti-grav spin in place :)
Regarding small craft armor I’ve never let go of the three-tiered damage scale from the 2e playtest, but I’ve modified it to suit my table. We do Personal x1, Vehicle/Smallcraft x5, Ships x25.

So fighters take 5x normal damage from ships, mitigates that armor issue a bit.

Not to everyone’s tastes clearly, but it works for us.
If they're immobile, take called shots to cripple them, engines usually being rather large targets.

For a cinematic chase sequence, what counts would be aerodynamics, size, speed, and pilot familiarity with craft and testicular fortitude.