Flight adds a different and dynamic element to combat, though, at its heart the mechanics are the same – skills are used to make attack, defend, and move actions during a combat turn. The big difference is that during flighted combat, characters are continuously in motion, and this movement must be accounted for during each round. Tactics and actions taken will vary greatly depending on whether the combat is Flight-to-Ground or Flight-to-Flight, and this section deals with the latter.
Regardless of whether characters have wings, a jet-pack, or they are piloting a mech, aircraft, or spacecraft, when flighted individuals enter combat with one another it is referred to as an engagement. While the goal to defeat the opponent is the same, engagements have an additional tactical quality that occurs between attacking and/or defending. Maneuvers (including Gambits and Stunts) are used to put characters in a position to attack, with opponents relying on a combination of skill and tactics to get the best opportunity to strike.
In practice, engagements work like a standard combat round, with initiative determining order and the same number of available actions in a round. There is no reason that an engagement could not run concurrently with a standard combat round on the ground.
Being outnumbered in flight is often more deadly than being outnumbered on the ground. Accounting for movement and getting in a position to attack can make things even more complicated, especially when fire arcs become a concern. For this reason, attackers typically prefer to go after targets one at a time to gain an offensive position, attack, and then disengage to seek another target.
Engagements begin whenever combatants get in range on one another, the circumstances of which typically define their starting Position. In most engagements, pilots in the offensive position will take attack actions as often as possible, while pilots in defensive positions take defend actions and use maneuvers in an attempt to flip the positions.
Most often in flighted combat, the trailing combatant has the attack advantage. This is more true with vehicles than characters as fire arcs can limit attack opportunities. Anytime an engagement begins, combatants will occupy one of three positions depending on the circumstances of the battle.
Neutral – this is a Ready status in which no one has yet engaged or an offensive position has been disengaged or broken, thus there is no advantage.
Offensive – this is an Attack status in which the engaged combatant holds the trailing advantage, giving them a +2 modifier to hit.
Defensive – this is a Defend status wherein the engaged combatant is being pursued, making them vulnerable to attack, with a -2 modifier to defend.
Once the initial positions are determined, skill and maneuvers are used to maintain or change positions.
Because all combatants are continuously in motion, they move at up to their flight move rate with every action, and all move actions are made with the skills. Whenever a maneuver is used, others involved in the engagement get an immediate counter-move – assuming they have available actions. If both combatant skill checks succeed or fail in the maneuver, the positioning remains the same, but if one fails, the one who succeeds maintains their position or moves a position by one step, i.e. neutral to offensive, etc.
While speed is a factor and can be used to get out of weapons range to break an engagement altogether, in combat those in a defensive position attempt maneuvers to try to move to a neutral position and then take an offensive position. By contrast, those in the offensive position have to match the maneuvers.
The combatant who goes first in initiative dictates the pace of the combat with attacks and/or maneuvers, while any who follow react. Part of the combat is managing how actions are spent and using maneuvers effectively to gain the advantage. With this in mind, holding actions can be a handy tactic in an engagement, especially when multiple combatants are involved. It is possible for all four actions to be spent on maneuvers during a round, as pilots vie for or try to maintain the offensive position.
Used with the Mobile Combat Combat Maneuvers skill, these movements are universal regardless of scale. Consisting of turns, rolls, and other actions they are used by combatants who are jockeying for or attempting to maintain a tactical position.
Used with the Mobile Combat Combat Gambits skill, these Advanced strategic moves consist of physically and mentally demanding turns, rolls, and other actions. Focusing on attack and positioning, they rely on the character’s ability to recognize and react to various different aspects of the engagement.
Perilous feats of aerial acrobatics performed to gain a positional advantage over an opponent, only the most talented pilots can pull off these moves. Used with the Mobile Combat Combat Stunts skill, they can be used to gain an angular advantage relative to the opponent for making attacks, as counter-moves to hold, maintain, or break a positional advantage, or to disengage and make an escape.
As mentioned previously, engagements can be run concurrently with standard combat – they are similarly turn based and reactive. The key is understanding how and when the combatants take their turns, as well as some of the terminology, all of which is covered in this section.
These are the standard actions to resolving a combat round in an engagement.
This occurs when passing an enemy, and immediately changes the positioning from offensive to defensive. While speed is factor in overshooting, it most often occurs as a result of either a failed maneuver or a failed counter-maneuver. The other combatants in the engagement are allowed a counter-move or move after an overshoot, assuming available actions in the round.
Resulting from a failed maneuver, the character must make an immediate Reaction save or Piloting skill check (if in a vehicle) at a very difficult (-8) modifier to regain control, which does not cost an action. If the skill check fails, an action may be spent to make a subsequent Reaction save or Piloting skill check at a difficult (-4) modifier to regain control.
A loss of control may result in a collision or crash.
When flighted combatants hit one another or something else, there is damage, the degree of which is determined by speed and collision scenario. There are three types of collision, accidental, unintentional, and intentional that will result in a degree of vehicle damage.
Accidental Collisions do equal damage to all involved.
Unintentional Collisions (crashing) does damage + 1 level to the attacker
Intentional Collisions (ramming) does damage +1 level to the defender.
Collisions between flighted combatants may result in a loss of control.
Resulting from failed maneuver, it provides an enemy with the ability to take an action or make a maneuver without the ability to take an counter-move. Any existing modifiers in the engagement still apply.