LANCER: BATTLEGROUP - To Kill the Worthy King


I have a number of earlier space battle rule systems. I suppose I can always use another! The setting is intriguing as well. I am definitely enjoying your battle report / story hour!
ūüėĀ The rules also give notes about integrating a regular LANCER game with the fleet rules - have players control their parent fleet in the Battlegroup system, but when a boarding action affects the ship their pilot party is on, have a corridor-to-corridor fight using the regular LANCER rules instead of rolling for the success of the boarding action!

Alternately, if the LANCER player characters are represented by an Ace Squadron (as is suggested), instead of rolling for the Ace Squadron's boarding attempt on the enemy flagship, have a LANCER fight instead! Fun times.

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The Sword, Part 5

"You gloat too early, Captain. A shattered sword can still slay." Caspian allows a smile to crack across his face as he says that. Then he turns to his crew.

"Engines engage full thrust - keep us moving forward. Richards, bring the Sandstorm in closer around us. Bryant, prepare to launch all our remaining asteroids. van Ghent... have the crew prepare to abandon ship. I want all nonessential personnel in the lifeboats and making their way to the We Demand Hazard Pay as soon as we pass them."

"Lutjens - stand by to cover recover all lifeboats. We know what these scum are like so you'll have to snatch as many people up as possible before the massacres start. Inform Colonel Milch of our intentions." He turns grimly at the Arminius' sensor trace and snarls.

"Full speed ahead!"

The Wagner begins to accelerate, her battered hull barely holding together as white-knuckled crewmen make preparations for her final charge.

Next: Old friends

Battlegroup Splinter:
Maneuver - All Ahead Full!
Moves into range 2, launches Dorsal Razorback Missiles. Roll of 1 for Sensor Flares, so add 1 to the Payload's flight time. It won't be hitting so soon.

Tactic: Lithoscreen: +5 Overshield to the Wagner

Old Friends

The imposing bulk of the Hannibal still stands in the center of the gyre of battle, its batteries continuing to shell the Union fleet, only pausing for the time it takes to cool off when they overheat. Several shots land on target, blasting away hangar boxes on the outer hull of the Mirrorsmoke carrier. Others rip away at the Wagner's asteroid shield with terrifying swiftness. One hit penetrates into a generator bank on the starboard side, wrecking it - but then, the Wagner's starboard SPK won't fire again, anyway.

Within the bowels of the Hannibal, the Mirrorsmoke marines continue to move from one deck to another, stopping only to hack into the local Omninet, launching new tech attacks on the dreadnought's systems. The incursion has kept the ship jammed up for the better part of a day. It's a virtual ankle weight, dragging the foot of the fleet.

The lieutenant leading this platoon stops to read an encrypted message from Aegis. Then he looks around. "All right, let's get moving again. The Facefirst's boarding pods are coming in!"

Battlegroup Hannibal:

1) Maneuver: Heavy Kinetic Battery Fire, against both Richard Wagner and We Demand Hazard Pay, with Accuracy. Roll 10+6 against Richard Wagner, which hits for 6 and destroys the Overshield and deals 1 damage to the Wagner. The destruction of the asteroid Overshield deals 3 damage to the Hannibal. Roll 12+6 against We Demand Hazard Pay for 6 danage.

Roll to repel boarders from Fool's Gold: 7, failed.

Thermonuclear fireballs light up the black sky ahead of the Bukharin. "Again with this," sighs Meade.

"Captain, you have an incoming blink-transmission from the PCV-DN James I," reports Aegis. "Not live - they are still en route via nearlight."

The recorded message pops up on Tabitha's screen. Captain Lowell Petrie has a bit of grey in his black hair, but otherwise his boyish good looks have not changed at all. He sits at his ready room desk, hands on the desktop.

"Tabitha. I know you don't want to do this any more than I do. Everything happening now in the Dawnline Shore, there has to be a better way to negotiate an end to this. We always talked about this, at the late night coffee chats, remember?"

"I'm not getting live updates but I can see from reports that your battlegroup has fallen back. You have chosen restraint, and I'm thankful. You've shown me the way. Let's agree to both detour around this fight and save some lives, shall we? I know in my heart you'll say yes."

Transmission ends.

"That is bold of him to suggest," says Aegis. "It could cost him his career and his life."

Meade is baffled. "Does he not know we were teleported? He thinks we retreated..."

Taking a Breath, Composing a Letter

Tabitha taps her chin thoughtfully. "Not really. Our orders are to prevent additional belligerents from entering the Shore. Allowing him to bypass the battle means that the Purview still gains reinforcements, even if diminished. Additionally, we cannot take the Bukharin and the rest of Eland out of line - at this point we're the only force still combat capable. The Wagner won't last much longer, there's still a heavy Turtleback that's basically untouched, a carrier that's about to eat a battlecruiser to the face and another carrier that might well drop in even if the James I does not. The Sour Brains have taken a lot of damage as well. I don't give much for their chances alone against two capital ships."

She looks at the chart, now flashing red as damage reports and lifeboat beacons from the Wagner come floating in. The first set of evacuees from the stricken battlecruiser are being packed aboard the Björn even as she accompanies her crippled flagship in its death ride towards the Arminius.

"We cannot back down from this fight unless he can get his fellow Captains to stand down. Ike - while we're waiting for the pulse storm to clear, gather up the marines and arrest those boarders. Tell them to clear up anything else that might have gotten aboard while they're at it. Meade, get CSO Jordan to do the same for the Shamokin."

"I'll send off a message to Lowell while you're at it."

Battlegroup Eland:
Maneuver : Clear all boarders. No other actions.

"Lowell. You know that I desire nothing more than to prevent unnecessary bloodshed. Unfortunately the situation as it stands makes it impossible for me to extricate my battlegroup from this conflict. You may not be aware, but we have evidence of war crimes being committed by Purview ships against unresisting civilians. Even as I speak, Union crew are taking to the lifeboats and I cannot in good faith abandon them with this kind of threat hanging over us.

"You are taking a great personal risk proposing this, and for that you have my undying respect but I must decline any sort of quid pro quo between us while active active hostilities remain between Purview and Union forces and the Bukharin and her escorts are the final card to play. I can, however, offer you a truce to recover the survivors of your fleet and allow you to extricate your forces from the conflict zone.

"It is likely that by the time this message reaches you, the Wagner will be gone along with the Arminius. Your fleet has already lost the Shaka Zulu and the Titania. Whatever mission you and your fellow Captains were on will only be further weakened by additional conflict that even if the Purview should emerge victorious, it will be a pyrrhic one at best, having succeeded in losing the majority of its force for the sake of weakening a Union presence that might otherwise be used to prevent Karrakin units from entering the field."

Tabitha pauses as the sound of gunfire echoes dimly through the ship's vast bulk. Clearly there is some fight left in the Roughneck's marines.

"If it is within your power, please have your fellow Captains stand down. There is no military advantage for them to gain through further conflict. Whatever chance they had in running the Union blockade with any semblance of a battleworthy force is gone and further resistance will only serve to weaken your position regardless of outcome and throw away lives for nothing more than pride."

"Do you think he'll bite?" Captain Ki looks dubiously as Tabitha signs off.

"I hope so. There's been enough blood today," Tabitha says watching the death ride of the Richard Wagner with a mixture of anger and sadness, "In any case, Ki - once the Wagner hits, you're up. You've always wanted to bag a Cap Ship, so you'll have your chance unless Lowell can talk sense into his fellow commanders."

"Somehow I doubt that smug bastard on the Arminius is going to go down without being shot," Ki replies casually.

Next: Never surrender!

Defiant in Defeat

The Bukharin's security troops advance cautiously across the bullet-scarred deck of Sector 40, shields held before them. Scores of hardsuited Harrison Armory marines stand in the open, under the bright hangar lamps, their hardsuits scuffed and scratched and scorched, their weapons lowered and powered down. Surrender has been negotiated.

But not for all. One makes a break for it. Running for a ragged hole in the hull, where shells from the Hannibal had penetrated before...

A few Union troopers track the fugitive with their assault shotguns. "Sir, do we shoot?" "Hold, hold..."

The other Armory marines watch silently. He makes it to the rent in the side of the hangar. Black sky beyond. He leaps. He won't be taken.

The onlookers lower their weapons as the escapee drifts out away from the Bukharin. Such willpower, to be willing to lose yourself to the void, a truly awful death. Then the Flyswatter launchers lock on.

The missiles streak out and blast the drifting marine into vapour.

Fool's Gold Marines on the Hannibal attempt Deploy Ontological Payload, roll 16, success.

Facefirst Marines on the Hannibal attempt Sabotage Fire Control, roll 9, success.

Next: Ladder

Musical Chairs

Strike Captain Bannon has been on the Hannibal for 30 minutes and she still hasn't managed to take back command of her fleet. Struggling in her emergency vacsuit, she claws her way up a maintenance ladder-shaft. Above her is E3 Nilsson, a deckhand who met her in the damaged mech bay where she landed. Below her are two more deckhands, bringing up the rear with the precious NHP casket from the Shaka Zulu.

A burst of static, and then the voice of Aelita echoes in her helmet: "Strike Captain, you should not be moving around inside the maintenance shaft."

"Well, it's about time you replied! The lift was out! We need to get up to the bridge as fast as possible. No, wait - get me a fleet legion linkup with the other captains!"

"I'm afraid that will be challenging," replies the diminished fleet legion. "This ship is under a severe ontological attack. Escort command network is down, and we are experiencing infrastructural crashes."

"Just patch me to the bridge! This is a fleet command override order!"

A limited mini-display pops up, showing the brutal dance of carriers and dreadnoughts, all pivoting around the Hannibal. The painful sight of the debris fields marked "Shaka Zulu" and "Titania" burns her soul.

"Give me Fleet Comms."

"Yes, sir."

"This is Strike Captain Bannon, I am safely aboard the Hannibal and I will be raising my flag as fleet commander here."

A condescending chuckle. It's Strike Captain Gopalakrishnan. "With all due respect, Strike Captain, we have the matter in hand."

"I don't care what you think, Strike Captain," she hisses back at him. "The Directorate put me in charge here -"

Aelita puts up a warning pop-up. Another Armory carrier is entering from nearlight. The PCV-GC Ching Shih is here now, its launch ports catapulting squadrons of mounted Sherman chassis into the battlespace.

"There! Now we have the forces to finish this fight!"

Captain Ashanti breaks in on the channel, sounding distressed. "Strike Captain Bannon, sir, you have to get back to the mech bay! We have enemy boarding parties crawling all over your sector!"

Seconds later, a burst of gunfire shreds E3 Nilsson, spraying his blood all over Bannon.

An armoured marine lurks in the shaft above - and the outlines of more behind her.

"Good morning, y'all," chirps the marine. "I am Lieutenant Park of the 120th Mirrorsmoke Detachment, and you are now my prisoners!"

Bannon freezes, uncomprehending. How has it come to this?

Over the fleet legion channel, Gopalakrishnan can be heard telling Ashanti that he is taking command once more.

If Aelita could throw her hands up in frustration, she would. "For Ra's sake, we might as well be playing musical chairs."

Next: Last lifeboat

Last Lifeboat

Round 4.

State of the fleets:

2nd Crisis Response Group (Union Navy)

Battlegroup Eland (Range 4)
Interdiction 1d6+2
UNS-BB Nikolai Bukharin (25 HP), 2 volley tokens on 3x3 Block Short-Spool Cannons, 3 greywash tokens.
UNS-CV Shamokin Rising (16 HP)

  • 2x Fighter Wing (5 HP, 5 HP)
  • Destroyer Unicorn (6 HP)
  • Destroyer Undine (8 HP)

Battlegroup Splinter (Range 2),
Interdiction: 1d6+2
UNS-BB Richard Wagner (2 HP), 3 charge tokens on Spinal Petajoule Kinetic.
UNS-LS Bj√∂rn J√°rnsińĎa (11 HP).

Battlegroup Sour Brains (Range 2)
Interdiction: 1d6+2
MSMCS We Demand Hazard Pay (15 HP)

  • 2x Mounted Chassis Wing (2 HP, 3 HP)
  • MSMCS Facefirst (8 HP)
  • MSMCS Fool's Gold (6 HP)

2nd Expeditionary Fleet (Harrison Armory Colonial Legionate)

Battlegroup Hannibal (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6
PCV-DN Hannibal (Turtleback) (32 HP), Boarded by 2x Tenacity 10 Marines. Deploy Ontological Payload: All Wings and Escorts are disabled until end of next turn. Sabotage Fire Control: The boarded ship makes all attacks with +2 Difficulty until the end of their next turn. Inbound Razorback Missiles, 3 flight tokens.

  • 1x Brothers in Arms (8 HP), 1 charge token on Short-Spool Spinal Guns (1/2 strength)
  • Ace: Albedo Cavalier (8 HP), 2 heat tokens on 1 Beam.

Battlegroup Shaka Zulu (Gyre Center)
PCV-DN Shaka Zulu (Paladin) (-6 HP)

Battlegroup Titania (Gyre Center)
PCV-DN Titania (UNKNOWN Man O'War) (-15 HP)

Battlegroup Arminius (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6+4
PCV-GC Arminius (Mastermind Breakwater) (21 HP)

  • 4x Fighter-Bomber Wing (5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP), 2 reloading tokens on Bombing Run
  • Diluvia (15 HP)
  • 1x Daggerflight (1 HP)

Battlegroup Ching Shih (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6
PCV-GC Chang Shih (Corsair) (25 HP)
- 4x Mounted Chassis Wing (5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP)

- 2x Stalwarts (10 HP, 10 HP)

Logistics Step: The Wagner's Razorbacks remove one payload token. 2 turns to impact. The Hannibal's Brother In Arms removes 1 charge token, so its spinal gun is ready to fire, but it is going to forgo firing this round because of Ontological Payload.

The lights are almost completely out on the bridge of the Wagner, the only illumination being provided being the glow of the crew's screens, many of them flashing dire warnings of systems failures throughout the ship. In his seat, CSO Richards is still managing the evacuation of the last few crew that can be spared out the overloaded lifeboats. At this point he's simply shoving them in as quickly as he can and watching them jettison as they sweep past the We Demand Hazard Pay. From now on, anyone who survives the coming storm will have to take their chances with the Björn - even assuming the frigate itself survives.

The bridge crew itself is down to the absolute minimum to manage the ship, and all of them have their survival suits on, emergency life support packs plugged in and each strapped securely in their seats with crash straps on and deceleration padding fully charged. Caspian is seated next to van Ghent, behind CGO Bryant whose strained face is glued to her screen. No one says anything.

Around them, the ship creaks and groans as she accelerates at ever increasing speed towards the Arminius. A warning flashes on the bridge screen, alerting the crew that the Wagner is close to the do not exceed speed for its trajectory. No one budges. There are thumps and bangs as purview shells slam into the dying battlecruiser, destroying vital internals and venting large portions of the ship to space. But the ship is almost empty anyway.

200km. Battlegroup Splinter is right on top of the Purview fleet now. Guns flash, flak bursts tear at them as they storm past the Hannibal and straight at the looming bulk of the Arminius. At last, CSO Richards announces "Last lifeboat away."

Battlegroup Splinter: Tactic - Emergency Maneuver

100km. The Arminius is no longer just a sensor dot, not a glint of light. It's now clearly visible with the naked eye. CGO Bryant makes last minutes adjustments to her targeting trajectory. Caspian grunts in approval.

50km. The Arminius is now visibly maneuvering. The glow of her exhaust brightens as she seems to belatedly realize the danger she's in. Around them, diminutive fighters swerve wildly to avoid slamming into their suddenly maneuvering carrier or being crushed by the arrival of the Wagner in their midst.

20km. The Purview Carrier's point defense systems open up in a final desperate attempt to stop the Wagner as the Arminius slams itself into reverse in a last ditch maneuver to avoid getting hit. Bryant sees this and simply updates her targeting vectors and hits the release button. On command hundreds of massive asteroids once held in position around the Wagner by her directed tractor beams are cut loose like pellets from a gigantic shotgun arcing straight for the Purview carrier.

5km. The Wagner won't make the turn. The Arminius' helmsmen have managed to turn the ship beneath the Wagner's trajectory.

For an instant, there's a tense silence.

Then, Bryant ejects one last apartment-sized asteroid right into the path of the Arminius.

Battlegroup Splinter: Maneuver - Slingshot

Is ramming an option? That's a little surprising, but they are massive ships.

Picked up Lancer- quite interesting and adds a bit of context to your narrative. Enjoying the battle!
Ramming is quite a costly Maneuver. You have to be extremely close (Range 0) and your capital ship and the enemy target both automatically take the same damage (a 2d6 roll).

What Caspian did here was to unleash the Sandstorm Vanguard's Slingshot attack.

SLINGSHOT Maneuver, Limited 1
Your battlegroup may advance one range band forward, after which you lob a group of asteroids at a hostile CAPITAL SHIP. This counts as an attack using the following profile:

Superheavy, Single/Area-Target, Payload Range 3‚Äď0, 10 single-target damage + 4 area-target damage

INTERDICTION against this attack is applied to its area-target damage first. This attack ignores hostile effects and abilities that add or remove FLIGHT COUNTERS or destroy PAYLOAD attacks. On hit, this attack erupts into a dangerous cloud of debris that lasts until the start of the next Logistics Phase. For this duration, the next time the target battlegroup would use an ability or effect that forces you or an allied battlegroup to move, it takes 2d6 area-target damage and all of its single-target attack rolls receive +1 DIFFICULTY until the end of its next turn.

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