Changing Commanders (Midstream)

So we had our first firefight last game (Burning Nautilus Prima).

Battlemap; Check
Forces and Dispostion: Check
Bonuses: Check
Stakes and Objectives: Check

The battle begins… Wait, the cat and mouse chase begins!

Four Atmospheric Fighters vs a Cargo Shuttle.

As the ensuing engagement progressed it came to my PCs attention (I already new) that our Pilot, while a very good pilot, was not so good as tactics or commanding his men in a combat situation (no skill). It was also apparent that this was going to get us into trouble. very very quickly.

Is there a way to change commanders in the midst of a Firefight? Or is the only way to name me second in command and then “accidentally” shoot our pilot?

Do we have to give then start a follow up with different goals? (I think this is what we should have done).


Welcome to Firefight!ing. You’ll stumble into all kinds of surprises like this. :rolleyes:

Do you have a different character who can serve as a field commander for your space battles? Probably your pilot should just be providing help dice to your Advance/Flank/Withdraw type moves – any of the ones that specify you can receive help from drive/pilot/helm.

You can even put a 2iC in command of your unit with your PCFoN simply tossing in help dice where appropriate.

In all cases, the unit commander should be the guy with the most Command and/or Tactics. They’re the most heavily used in the system.


First what the hell is a 2iC it comes up all the time… what does it mean?!

Anyways… I know who should be the commander, my character is all about Tactics and Command. That is why I am asking if you can change commanders mid-firefight. but it is also the other character’s ship. he is a Pilot, that is all that he wanted to be, and thus did not develop a commander type character. I think it was a shock to him (I know It was to me!) that as greta a pilot as he is that does not make it easy for him to pilot in a battle.

I pushed for him to give me command, but was not sure if he was even allowed to hand over control. and I don’t think you can call for a duel of wits right in the middle of a firefight.

Now that we are out of the fight (I had to talk him into a series of close combat -> flame 'em rolls (we had no freakin weapons!)) I think we will discuss the next outcome. I think that we will arm-up, repair, and have a new working relationship.

It was fun to play a character who knew he could win the fight, but was barred from command by a hot-shot pilot and his crew. Frustrating too.

No changing commanders midstream – unless your commander is killed/shits himself and you have a Second in Command. Otherwise, FF would be all about using the best skill available at every turn. Might as well just make it a 10D vs 10D versus test at that point.

As for the poor soul who made a pilot in this game, I apologize. But without practical military training, the Pilot can’t win a military engagement. If the scene was just a chase/escape, it should have been a versus test between the two pilots and not a Firefight. In that case, he would have pwned, but in a real fight, he’s just a jock who needs orders.


And in case it wasn’t clear from Luke’s post: 2ic = Second in Command.

And hey, even if you can’t switch commanders, it was an opportunity for the character to log tests toward learning Command and Tactics. And since your character had the skills, you could Help.

As the GM, I think this was a great scene for a lot of reasons. I’m glad we didn’t run it as a simple versus test because the escape was a ‘big deal’ and the tension from running it as a Firefight made it quite dramatic. Plus it was a good learning experience. But for a chase of less consequence, next time we probably will make it a versus test. The tension between Danny, the pilot, and Janus, the passenger was great! It’s Danny’s ship–no one tells him what to do on his ship (we may have to nominate that for him as a trait). And Janus’ internal soulsearching over whether or not to seize command or force the issue of command was also cool–an artha earning moment! I would have been happy to see a PC-v-PC Duel of Wits at the start of the Firefight–pre Firefight, let’s say–if the players wanted to pursue it. But Jason didn’t push it and I don’t know if Billy would have been willing.
A short summary of the scene:
Aboard Danny’s ship, initially landed at Cristobal’s Diplomatic Enclave, and already knowing that the hunt is on for them, Janus and Danny are informed that high performance, air-breathing aircraft are en route. Cristobal declines accompanying them, so they take to the air. We laid out various positions for the Firefight: the Diplomatic island, a second, volcanic island spewing ash, high level cloud cover, commercial air routes, and the sun. ‘Cover’ for each of these was described in a way that made sense: metallic ash interfering with sensors in the volcanic ash cloud, infrared/vision interference from the sun, coincidental appearance of commercial air traffic in the airlanes, etc.
The PCs goal was to reach space; the jet fighters goal was to force the space-ship to land.
We had multiple rounds of the Firefight. The jet fighters generally scripted strafing fire, observe, direct fire…the PCs initially scripted Advance, Cover(?)[I don’t have the book with me so I forget exactly] Advance…or something like that, basically seeking to advance into the clouds or the sun and avoid contact. The first couple rounds saw the PCs take damage from the strafing, but then the jets would fail to Observe and be unable to fire in the third volley. It was a stalemate. Then, the PCs got a lucky break and made a smart decision. The jets failed an ammunition check and the PCs decided to use close combat and use the ship’s engine blast to destroy the jets. I had unwisely called two jets ‘destroyed’ by minor disposition losses in the first couple rounds, so the PCs were able to destroy the remaining two in a couple of rounds. I really enjoyed the Firefight. At the ‘metagame’ level, I think it was a deal-maker for Billy, the player. This is the kind of game he is looking for. A more efficient ‘in-game’ decision may not have been the best choice for the overall game. It’s cool that Burning Empires can adjust to different player desires–it’s just a matter of ‘setting the dial’.

Very cool, Mel!

Who is this “luke” guy? How’d he get so many posts so quickly?

Abzu! Abzu, someone’s pretending to…oh.


I agree! I think we’re making a great story. I’m so pleased with how this game is progressing. I’m as surprised by what happens each night as any of the other players. Our next session is tomorrow; Jason and I will see if we can’t get the others to join the Forum.