Silhouette Tactical Combat Primer and Houserules

Placeholder that will eventually house how combat works, including references for specific shit when needed. Tables of FUN, any rules hacks for the game, and so-on will follow.

Basic Dice Mechanics

All die rolls (unless we decide hit tables or similar things need them) will be using a plain old d6. When multiple dice are rolled, don't add the results, but instead take the single highest number. If the roll contains multiple sixes, the result is a 6, plus one for each additional six. If every die rolled comes up a 1, the result is a botch, and the total is treated as a zero (before modifiers). There's a specific set of things botches do in the tactical game we're mostly using, but additional hardships are also available at the whim of the GM, possibly for free Luck Points. Generally, rolls will have other modifiers which add or subtract to the die result.

Most rolls will be skill rolls, in which a character rolls a number of dice equal to her rating in the relevant skill, then adds her relevant attribute and any additional modifiers to the roll. If a character has a skill rating of 0, she instead rolls two dice and takes the lowest, and if either die comes up a 1, she botches the roll.

Sometimes one might need to make an attribute test, particularly for Luck or Processing, in which case, roll two dice and add the relevant attribute.

Botching rolls in Tactical

  • Attack roll - The attack automatically misses.
  • Defense roll - The attack automatically hits; treat the roll result as a 0 (before modifiers) for damage purposes.
  • Initiative - Automatically go last.
  • Active sensors - automatically fail to achieve Line of Sight.

Margin of Success or Failure

Often, how well or poorly one does will matter. In these cases, the Margin of Success (MoS) or Failure (MoF) are calculated. In either case, the margin is the difference between the roll result and the difficulty threshold. In the case of opposed rolls, such as most rolls in combat, the difference between the rolls is used.

Firing arcs

Insert images for firing arcs here, when you can actually make them effectively.
Front, Left, Right, and Rear arcs are 180 degrees in the specified direction. Turret arcs are full 360 degrees around a vehicle (although larger ships must instead choose one of the side facing arcs each round, due to slower turret traverse time). Fixed Forward is 120 degrees ahead of the vehicle starting with the hex directly in front of it.

Combat Rounds

Note that the way we'll be handling combat rounds isn't quite the way Silhouette proper does.


Initiative is rolled once at the beginning of a fight, rather than each round. Saves time in the long run. All combat participants roll Combat Sense and add their Electronics to the result. Margin of success doesn't matter to the roll, characters simply move and act based on initiative order, with all actions on the same initiative value resolved simultaneously.

Movement Phase

Each unit moves in order going from lowest initiative to highest initiative. This gives those who rolled well a better tactical advantage. Keep track of how far you moved, as it affects attack and defense rolls later on. Each turn, a unit gains a number of movement points (MP) equal to its current speed (either Combat or Top). Movement points are spent to move, usually at 1 point per 1 hex moved, with some unusual terrain types costing additional points per hex moved.

There's a really involved system for space movement involving vectors and accelerations, but fuck that noise, we're going cinematic surface navy IN SPACE style because it's far less of a chore than adding vectors to figure out where one's going. Ships are limited in their ability to turn, depending on their Maneuver Value. Each ship must move forward one hex per negative maneuver point before changing facing by one hex side (so, by default, a destroyer may change facing by one for every hex it moves, a cruiser must move forward one more hex before turning, and a battleship must move forward two additional hexes). A ship may also spend 1 movement point to turn through 2 or more hex facings in a single turn, although they must still move forward at least one hex (or a number of hexes equal to her negative maneuver points).

Units moving at up to half Combat Speed can opt to move backward instead of forward. Reverse movement is not possible at higher speeds.

Top Speed

If a unit has expended a number of MP equal to its combat speed in a round, that player may immediately declare that they are shifting to top speed. Use the modifiers for top speed for attack and defense for the rest of the round. In subsequent rounds, the unit receives a number of MP equal to its Top Speed rating, and must expend a number of movement points greater than the unit's Combat Speed while moving at top speed. Units moving at Top Speed may shift back down to Combat Speed at any time, and must declare the shift immediately after moving.

Action Phase

Each unit acts in descending initiative order, as usual, so those who moved last act first. Each unit has multiple actions determined either by total crew or Processing. In the case of Nebula units, they may take a number of actions equal to their Processing score, or those provided by a crew, but not both. Actions can be spent to attack with a single weapon (or linked weapon system), activate or deactivate an auxiliary system or module, deploy or dock a single unit of strike craft, block attacks with shields, or engage defensive fire against missiles. It is advised not to spend all actions on attacking. Any actions not used on a unit's turn may instead be used later on in the round (particularly for defense; units with unused actions may instead act again after all units have had a chance to act, again in initiative order).

Individual units may take extra actions beyond those provided by crew or processing, but take a -1 to all actions taken in the round for each such additional action. Additional actions of this type must be declared before the unit acts.

Line of Sight and Obscurement

A unit must have line of sight to its target in order to actually target and attack it. Line of Sight generally exists, unless certain conditions are met. While sensor ranges are usually "yes," if something is outside a unit's sensor range, then the unit does not have line of sight to it. Similarly, any large terrain features (in space, that tends to mean things like asteroids, space stations, and so-on) blocks line of sight. The last way to break line of sight is if the total Concealment rating between the vehicle and its target is greater than the target's detection value.

Generally, not much provides obscurement in space, with the exception of dust particles such as those found in planetary rings, or denser fields of debris. Dust provides and obscurement of 1 per hex, debris provides obscurement 2 per hex. Smoke created by smoke generators or smoke rounds provides an obscurement of 2 per hex, and ships in subspace also have obscurement 2 per hex, although anything with subspace sensors ignores the subspace obscurement. Shadows of planets and other large objects are extremely dark, providing a base obscurement of 4 to anything located within them.

A vehicle's Electronic Warfare skill is added to its sensor rating and Electronics attribute to determine its Detection rating, or passive sensors. All units also get a default Detection rating of 4, for visual detection and so-on. Use whichever is higher.

Active Sensors

An Active Sensor ping may be used when obtaining line of sight by passive sensors or visual scanning is impossible. Make a Perception skill test and add the vehicle's sensor rating. The threshold is equal to the target's concealment value, minus detection threshold modifiers. On a success, line of sight has been established; in the case of a tie, failure, or botch, nothing happens. Active Sensor pings require an action.

Concealment Threshold Modifiers
All of these modifiers are applied to the concealment threshold of a unit trying to hide, before comparing to passive or active sensors.

  • Stealth rating: Default of zero, usually adds to Concealment.
  • -1 per hex moved.
  • -1 per weapon fired.

Spotting: A unit may act as a forward spotter and relay target positions to allied units. Doing so requires an action, and may also require a communications roll, if enemy ECM is active.


ECM and ECCM systems more or less work the same way. The vehicle spends an action to activate the system and makes a Electronic Warfare roll. The result is the ECM (or ECCM) Threshold. The roll is made immediately after the action is spent, but the effects are not felt until the next round.

If a round begins with active ECM, all enemy vehicles within the area of effect must beat the ECM threshold with any Sensor or Communications rolls they make, or the attempt automatically fails. If ECCM is active at the start of a round, all active ECM systems must compare their thresholds to the ECCM threshold, if the ECCM threshold is equal to or higher than the ECM threshold, the ECM has no effect that round. Friendly ECM units are not affected by their own side's ECCM.

ECM and ECCM units may spend actions on subsequent rounds to try and increase their thresholds, by making another roll. The new result stands, even if it is lower than the original threshold.

Combat Actions


The actual attack roll is pretty straightforward. Decide what sort of weapon you're using and how much autofire and so-on you're using (more on that later), roll the relevant skill, generate a result. Defender rolls Pilot (plus Agility and Maneuver value) to not get hit. If the attacker wins, the attack is a success, and the damage of the attack is equal to the weapon's damage multiplier multiplied by the attacker's MoS. If the defender wins or there is a tie, the attack misses (or does absolutely nothing but bounce off armor, in the case of a tie, because MoS 0 still…does no damage).

There's a shit-ton of stuff that modifies attack rolls though, so here we go.
Attack Roll Modifiers

  • Fire Control rating of the vehicle
  • Weapon Accuracy rating
  • Range: +1 if in the same hex, -1 per range band past short (a range band is equal to the weapon's base range).
  • Attacker Speed modifier: If the attacker is stationary, they get a +2 to hit. moving at up to half combat speed gets a +1 to hit, over half to combat speed is +0, and moving at top speed is a -3 to hit.
  • Obscurement penalty: subtract the target's concealment value from the attacker's roll.

Defense roll modifiers

  • Defender's Maneuver Value
  • Defender movement modifier: Based on hexes moved. See the chart below.
  • Arc the attack comes from: 0 if from the front, -1 if from a right or left rear flank, -2 of from the rear. See image, once I cut it out of a shot of the page in the manual.
Defender Movement Modifiers
Hexes Moved Defense Modifier
0 -3
1-2 -2
3-4 -1
5-6 0
7-9 +1
10-19 +2
20-99 +3
100+ +4


Probably the only sort of melee/physical attack a ship will have, until someone demands grappler arms with ship-scale beam sabers. Ramming is a standard opposed skill roll using Piloting instead of Gunnery, and inflicts damage to both parties. First, determine impact speed based on the direction of the attack. Head-on collisions add speeds, side collisions use the attacker's speed, and rear-end collisions use the difference between the two speeds.

Impact speed provides a modifier (see table below) which is added to the Size of each vehicle to determine the damage multiplier used against the other vehicle. Each vehicle takes an amount of damage equal to the MoS times its opponents damage multiplier.

Impact Speed Modifiers
Impact Speed (MPs) Damage modifier
1-2 0
3-4 +1
5-6 +2
7-9 +3
10-19 +4
20-99 +5
100+ +6

Evasive Maneuvers

Evasive maneuvers allow a vehicle to better avoid incoming fire. An evasive maneuver must be declared at the beginning of the combat round, and takes an action for the round. Performing evasive actions provides a +3 bonus to all defense checks that round, but prevents the vehicle from attacking that round. Multiple evasive actions cannot be delcared for a greater bonus.

Called Shots

A vehicle may elect to perform a called shot against a specific part of a vehicle. Possible targets are Fire Control, Structure, Crew Compartments, Movement Systems, and Auxiliary systems. Called shots take a -1 modifier on the attack, and if the attack hits, have increased odds of damaging the targeted system.

Alternatively, the called shot may be to a specific ship section. The called shot incurs the same -1 penalty, but if the attack hits, it hits the section specified, rather than rolling on the hit location chart.

Burst Fire

Any weapon with an RoF of 1 or greater may be used for burst fire. The RoF bonus acts as a bonus added to the weapon's DM when calculating the damage from the attack when used against vehicles. A successful burst fire attack versus fighters adds the RoF bonus to the Margin of Success instead. For every point of RoF bonus used, five rounds of ammunition are expended, not that we're counting. A player may elect to not use a weapon's full RoF bonus.

Missile RoF

Missiles use a different rate of fire calculation than guns do. The number of missiles fired doubles for every point of RoF used. RoF 1 is 2 missiles, RoF 2 is 4, RoF 3 is 8, and RoF 4 is 16, and so-on. This applies to torpedoes, interception missiles, mines, ASROCs, subspace charges, and similar weapons.

Walking Fire

Weapons capable of burst fire may attack multiple adjacent targets in the same action by "walking" the burst across them. A player must declare they are using walking fire before making the attack, then chooses the targets of his attack. A number of targets equal to the weapon's RoF+1 may be chosen, and must be in adjacent hexes, with empty hexes counting as additional targets, if needed. For each extra target, the weapon's RoF is reduced by one for damage purposes. Each attack is rolled separately, and each individual target may be attacked only once by the same weapon.

Saturation Fire

A burst fire weapon can be used to saturate a map hex. Every unit that is in that hex, or enters that hex in the next movement phase is attacked. The attacker chooses a hex to saturate. The attack roll is rolled normally, except the weapon's RoF is added to the total. The RoF does not otherwise increase the weapon's DM or MoS of the attack. After rolling, the attacker records the total. Any unit in the hex or that later enters the hex must defend against this number or be damaged by the saturation fire. The Margin of Failure of the defender is treated as the MoS for the attack.

The saturation zone cannot be further than the medium range of the weapon, and the weapon uses 10 shots or 4 missiles per RoF point used in the attack. If it does not have this much ammunition left, the result stands, but all remaining ammunition is expended. At least 10 rounds or 4 rockets are needed to saturate a hex.

Anti-Missile Fire

Any weapon capable of burst fire may be used for anti-missile fire, although weapons which are not anti-missile weapons take a -6 penalty to the roll. The difficulty of the roll is equal to the initial attack roll. Weapons with rapid fire capability can use points of RoF to reduce this penalty on a 1:1 basis. At least five shots or 2 missiles are required to make an anti-missile attack.

When successfully used against a single missile attack, the weapon completely destroys the missile. When used to defend against multiple missiles (i.e. an attack with RoF), burst fire must be used. Each point of MoS reduces the incoming missile cluster's effective RoF by 1, and if the RoF bonus drops to 0, all missiles have been destroyed. Anti-missile fire does not use an action and may be rolled against every incoming missile cluster. The player can also make additional anti-missile attacks against a single cluster by spending actions.

Area Effect Weapons

Area effect weapons damage everything in their radius. These weapons are rated in Area Effect (AE) with their radius in hexes. AE 0 affects a single hex. A single attack roll is made, with everything in the area defending against it individually. Even if the blast is defended against completely (MoS of 0 or lower), the vehicle still takes half of the explosion's DM as concussive damage. The same goes for wave motion guns.


A weapon's damage increases with the margin of success of the attack. Total Damage = Damage multiplier x Margin of Success.

The final damage is compared to the general armor of the target. The following are the possible outcomes. Only the most severe effect applies.

  • Damage less than base armor: Nothing happens.
  • Damage larger than base armor but less than twice base armor: Light Damage; roll on light damage chart. Reduce base armor by 1.
  • Damage larger than twice base armor but less than thrice base armor: Heavy damage; roll on heavy damage chart. Reduce base armor by 2.
  • Damage greater than thrice base armor: Overkill; vehicle destroyed.

Systems Damage

The attacker rolls 1d6 on the hit location table, and 1d6 on the systems damage table. (And another d6 in case the systems damage table hits one of its sub-tables.)
When multiple possibilities exist for what is hit, such as for turrets hit location, weapons, auxiliary systems, and so-on, another single die is rolled. An even result on this die lets the defender choose which system is damaged; an odd result lets the attacker choose. Any system with an overall penalty from damage equal to -5 is destroyed.

Each section of a large vehicle like a starship is considered its own independent vehicle for the purposes of damage, hence why a roll is needed to determine hit location. Any results that affect a system the section does not have are ignored (so, for example, anything that isn't the drive section generally ignores all movement system hits). If a section is overkilled, any remaining damage over the overkill threshold continues on to affect the primary hull. Back-Up systems absorb one damage result and are then unusable. Most ships have multiple redundant back-ups that must be eliminated before they suffer any real damage, because they aren't built by idiots.

Auxiliary systems include Sensors, Communications, life support, ejection systems, and any perks or modules designated as Auxiliary systems. Crewmembers that become casualties are useless until the end of the battle, but not necessarily dead. Alternatively, for Nebula ships, treat any reductions in crew as reductions to their Processing (which can be a decimal number, round up for number of actions).

If a vehicle's Fire Control of Sensors are utterly destroyed, the vehicle may still perform actions that require those systems, but at a -5 penalty. Alternatively, if an individual turret or other module has a functioning system, it may use its own value if it's better (and vice-versa, if the turret's FCS is destroyed, but the vehicle's core FCS is still functional). If a vehicle's Communications are destroyed, it cannot be used as a forward observer and may not use Command points (if those are even a thing; Luck points largely replace them).

Systems Damage Table
Die roll Damaged System Light Damage Heavy Damage
1 Fire Control Roll on subtable A Roll on subtable A, add +1
2 Structure Roll on subtable B Roll on subtable B, add +1
3 Crew Crew stunned (-1 action for 1 round) 10% casualties, minimum 1
4 Movement -1 MP (one movement type) 1/2 remaining MP, -2 Maneuver
5 Auxiliary Systems -1 to 1d6 Auxiliary systems 1d6 Auxiliary systems destroyed
6 Extra Fun Roll twice on this table Roll twice on this table
Subtable A Fire Control Damage
Die Roll Effect
1 -1 to a single weapon.
2 -2 to a single weapon
3 -1 to all weapons
4 Single Weapon destroyed
5 Fire Control destroyed (-5 to all attacks))
6 Roll twice on this table
7 Ammunition/Fuel hit (roll 1 die)
- 1-3: Ammo storage and fuel tank ruptured (vehicle cannot move or fire weapons)
- 4-6: Magazine detonation: Vehicle destroyed.
Subtable B Structural Damage
Die Roll Effect
1 -1 MP (single movement type)
2 1/2 remaining MP (round down)
3 -1 to Maneuver
4 -2 to Maneuver
5 Power transfer failure, no movement
6 Catastrophic crew compartment failure, 75% casualties, min. 1
7 Complete structural failure. Vehicle destroyed, crew survives

Luck Points

At the start of each combat, each PC makes a Luck check. The result generates a number of Luck Points which may be spent in a few ways.
Spend one Luck Point to…

  • Add one die to a roll. The points should be spent before the roll is made.
  • Reroll a result on a damage chart.
  • Gain an extra action in a round.
  • Gain a +2 bonus on a Defense test.

The Flagship

Each session, one player will be designated flagship, and this role will be on rotation, so no always piling it on the same person. Primarily, this is more to manage OOC snags than anything else, as the flagship has final say in all group decisions among players, and can otherwise act as something of a party spokesperson to the GM. Whether or not the role leaks into the in-character narrative somehow is wholly up to the players.

Hit locations

Charts for hit location rolls, because we do kind of need this step, due to modules. As usual, for things like weapon hits with multiple options, a die is rolled, and even means defender chooses, odd means attacker chooses. If a ship is fired upon from behind, add one to the result on the location chart. Called shots can be made at a -2 penalty to pick which location to hit. If the rolled location isn't valid move up on the chart to the next relevant location (usually, the primary hull).

Hit Locations
1 Turrets
2 Modules
3 Primary Hull
4 Primary Hull
5 Primary Hull
6+ Drive Section
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License