Issue: 30
System: Full Thrust
Publisher: Ground Zero Games

Target Engines Only!
by David Manley

'Forward tube, Fire!' The frigate RNS Avenger shuddered as the pulse torpedo launcher burst into life. Kovacs gave his Master Gunner a triumphant grin as the 'Scrambler' torpedo hit the fleeing PAU courier. Giant sparks flew around the target's hull, and as it began to tumble out of control Kovacs knew the massive ion discharge had fragged the ship's flight controls and probably her weapon systems, not that they were significant anyway.

The NS Drive hummed as the Avenger matched vectors with the now helpless courier and the boarding party gathered on the boat deck. Kovacs took a sip from his ever-present cup of Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee as he reflected on the luck of the spy on the courier, how she had evaded the rest of the ships of the Avenger's squadron whilst trying to reach neutral space with the package that the Intel guys had wanted so badly. Such a good chase, but now it was ended only a few minutes from the last Jump Point.

So near and yet so far, he thought. Now it was time for a little chat...

Less than Lethal Weaponry

Full Thrust games usually develop into a duel to the death, with eager players splashing their opponents ships to the four winds (if such a thing is possible in the airless vacuum of space - four solar winds? Who knows - anyway, on with the plot). This is fine if the target happens to be a warship, but supposing you are on a commerce raiding mission - wouldn't it be nice to capture that freighter full of lovely refined fuel? Or supposing your opponent is fielding a new design of ship in a campaign - the Intel guys would pay a year's budget to get their hands on an enemy ship fairly intact. Well, now you can, with Less Than Lethal Weaponry, and in so doing you can open up a whole new range of scenarios. This short article presents a few devices for disabling an enemy's vessels rather than destroying them outright so that you can get your hands on the goodies inside (whether they be gold, guns or girlies, secrets, stores or slaves), or perhaps for disabling an opponent to allow your own escape.

"C" Batteries as Needle Beams

Needle beams are described in the main rules already. One option to explore is the use of 'C' Class batteries as inferior Needle batteries. When used as such they will function exactly as if they were a needle beam, and will have the same requirements vis a vis FireCons. Their disadvantage is that when used in this role they have a maximum range of six inches instead of nine inches for a normal Needle Beam. Obviously there is a requirement for a more refined fire control system for such a battery - any 'C' class battery capable of being used in this manner costs one additional point.

"Spike" Batteries

If a needle beam cuts out systems with finesse, the 'Spike' is a little rougher. This system allows the use of 'A and 'B' batteries against specified parts of a target (gunner - target engines only) In this case the bring player rolls for damage to the target as normal, but also rolls a separate d6 for the 'spike' effect against a chosen system on the target ship - a 6 means the system has been destroyed Note that the beam may cause no actual damage, but could knock out a system. Beam batteries with 'Spike' capability cost an additional two points per battery.

Example: The Byron, a Light Cruiser with no screens, is hit by a 'B' class battery at nine inches. The firing player selects the NSD as a specified target location. Two dice are rolled to determine normal damage, for a score of 4 and 6, inflicting 3 points of damage. The 'spike' roll is 5, meaning the NSD has been missed.

Ion Beams

These are modified beam weapons firing high energy particles designed to disrupt screens and to knock Out systems rather than doing structural damage. Ion Beams come in the same varieties as normal beam weapons (A, B, C), and roll the same number of dice that a normal beam weapon of the same class would do at a particular range (e.g. a 'B' class Ion Beam rolls 2d6 at twelve to twenty-four inches). However, the damage inflicted by an Ion Beam is different. For each 6 rolled the target must make one roll for 'Threshold' damage against each system as if the first Threshold Point had been lost (i.e. a 6 means the system is lost). For ships protected by Screens these rolls are not made - instead each hit automatically destroys one screen.

Example: The Cazyia, a cruiser with Level 1 screens, is hit by an 'A' class Ion Beam at a range of eighteen inches. Three dice are rolled, scoring 1, 6 and 6. The first 6 rolled knocks out the screen. The second 6 means that the on~owning player must make a Threshold roll against each operational system.

"Scrambler" Packs, Torpedoes and Mines

These are an encapsulated version of the Ion Beam and allow ships with torpedo tubes, submunition packs and minelaying facilities to join in the fun. Torpedoes and mines function in the same way. Rolls to hit for torpedoes are the same as in the current Full Thrust rules, whist mines still detonate if a target passes within three inches. If a hit is scored the target immediately rolls 6d6. Each '6' scored has the effect of one hit from an Ion Beam as in section 3 above. Submunition Packs roll the same number of dice as in the normal rules (e.g. at six to twelve inches two dice are rolled), again with each '6' having the same effect as an Ion Beam hit.

Due to their specialised nature, stocks of 'Scrambler' weapons should be limited, and costs of Scrambler equipped systems increased by one point for Submunition packs, three points for Pulse Torpedo launchers and minelaying systems.

Liberty or Death - a short scenario

To give these new additions to your arsenal a run-out, try this simple scenario. It is simple enough to convert it your own particular campaign, available ships etc if necessary.


In an outrageous coup by the enemy, one of your senior weapon techs has been kidnapped, along with several memory crystals which would, if decoded, reveal more about the FSE's defence capability than you believe would be healthy for your goverment. The tech is in custody onboard a SemFed light cruiser which is heading for one of the enemy's core wOrldS, but which has stopped off in a small backwater system to refuel. Your intelligence division has learnt of this from an enemy sympathiser, and hence your small task group, augmented by a hastily converted escort carrier, has been sent on a desperate mission deep into enemy territory with orders to rescue the tech - or ensure her information is lost forever...

Semetic Federation

The freighter is close to a small asteroid in the system, and is awaiting the arrival of the light cruiser (which should set up about thirty-six away).

Reinforcements: Each turn after the first of the FSE 5 ships have been detected, roll a d6. On a score of 6 a reinforcement group of three destroyers enters the table, no closer than 48" form the nearest FSE vessel. As an option, allow two David class destroyers plus a Ben-Avis class escort carrier (converted transport) with one group of six Dagger class fighters.

Orders: The light cruiser must close to within two inches of the freighter and remain there for two turns to refuel (this will not be a full load, just enough to energise the FTL drive and get the ship to safety). Having refuelled the ship must move to a point at least twenty-four inches from the asteroid to make the jump. The reinforcement group must facilitate the escape of the cruiser, or prevent the enemy from rescuing their captured scientist.

Federal Stats Europa

These ships enter under FTL at any point on the table, but at least twenty-four inches from the asteroid and the nearest enemy ship They need not all arrive on the same turn.

Orders: The FSE's objective is to disable the light cruiser, rescue the tech and depart. In order to disable the SemFed light cruiser the NSD and all screens must be knocked out. One of the FSE destroyers must close to within two inches and remain there for two turns (all destroyers are carrying assault teams - if they can be get close enough to the light cruiser they can board and effect a rescue, but are not heavily armed enough to take control of the entire ship). Having rescued the tech the destroyer must move to a point at least twenty-four inches from the asteroid and exit using FTL. If there is no way the tech can be evacuated from the table under FTL then the FSE must ensure that she does not leave at all...

Victory Conditions

Semetic Federation: tech remains in custody at the end of the scenario.

Federal Stats Europa: tech rescued and evacuated by FTL.

Draw: tech is killed.

Ed Note: Full Thrust is a simple, flexible and highly popular game of starship combat which must rate as one of the all time Classic games. Full Thrust has won the Best SF Rules category every time the SFSFW Awards have been held. For further details regarding price and availability, send an SSAE to Ground Zero Games PO Box 337, Needham Market, Suffolk, IPA 8LN.

The Semetic Federation ships are based on the SFSFW Exclusive Models line produced by Brigade Miniatures 38 Cobdown Close, Ditton, Aylesford, Kent, ME20 65Z. A complete background detailing the SemFeds and intergrating then into the Full Thrust Universe can be found in Ragnarok 20.