The Expanse: Space Combat

The Expanse Roleplaying Game takes the popular science fiction universe of The Expanse fiction series by James S.A. Corey (starting with the novel Leviathan Wakes) and brings it to tabletop gaming using the Adventure Game Engine or AGE System. You may well have heard about The Expanse RPG during our wonderfully successful Kickstarter, and may have even backed it then. In that case you have our thanks and the opportunity to check out a lot of existing previews. There’s also The Expanse Quickstart available to download for free. As the game will also be going into pre-orders soon, we’re going to preview a few more things to give you a look at what you can expect from it.

Space Combat Stunts

Combat between ships in The Expanse is similar in some regards to combat between characters, but on a much larger (and often slower) scale and more simultaneous in execution than character-scale combat.

A round of space combat tends to be a bit longer than a round of character-scale combat, upward of a minute or so, although the exact time is flexible, as with character-scale combat. It’s long enough for all of the ships involved to execute all of the steps listed previously.

At the start of each round of combat, the character in command of the ship makes a TN 11 Communication (Leadership) test. If successful, the commander generates 1 Stunt Point, plus additional SP equal to the value of the Drama Die, if the roll contains doubles, much like a Stunt Attack action.

The commander may spend SP generated from the command test on other ship combat actions that round. This is an exception to the general rule that SP must be spent immediately—they can apply to any test by the ship’s crew that round. However, other tests by the crew during that round do not generate SP, only the commander’s initial test. Once a new round of ship combat begins, any unspent command SP from the prior round are lost, and the commander makes a new command test.

Command Stunt Points may be spend on the following stunts:


Space Combat Stunts

These stunts are used by ships in space combat.

SP Cost                Stunt

1+                           (Core) Guidance: You grant a +1 bonus to a chosen ship combat test this round for each 1 SP you spend. Choose one of the following: maneuver test, electronic warfare test, evasion test, point defense test, or damage control test.

1+                           Blinding Maneuver: You maneuver your ship in such a way as to blind or limit an opponent’s Sensors. Each SP you spend reduces an opposing ship’s Sensors score by 1 (to a minimum score of –2) until the start of the next round.

2                             Multi-Targeting: Your ship’s point defense cannons (if any) can both attack and defend this round without any penalty.

2+                          On-Target: Every 2 SP you spend increases the TN of tests to evade your ship’s weapon attacks that round by +1.

2+                          Tactics: Every 2 SP you spend increase the TN of an opposing ship commander’s next command test by +1.

3+                          Evasive Action: Every 3 SP you spend grants a +1d6 Hull bonus to your ship that round for resisting damage from successful weapon attacks.

3                             Perceived Weakness: You increase the damage of one successful weapon attack by 1d6. This stunt is a risk, as it has to come in Step 5 of the round, and requires a successful hit.

4                             Precise Hit: One of your successful weapon attacks results in an additional Loss, even if the target’s Hull completely eliminated the damage.

4+                          Set-Up: You maneuver an opposing ship into a hazard, such as a normally shorter range weapon, a field of debris, or even a floating rock. This stunt is considered a weapon attack inflicting damage dice equal to half the SP spent (round down). The Set-Up can be evaded; the TN is 10 + your Intelligence + Leadership focus (if any) + half the SP spent. So if a character with Intelligence 2 and Leadership spends 5 SP on this stunt, the TN to evade the Set-Up is (10 + 2 + 2 + 2.5, rounded down to 2) or 16, and a failure on the evasion test results in 2d6 damage to the target ship.

Steve Kenson has been an RPG author and designer since 1995 and has worked on numerous book and games, including Mutants & Masterminds, Freedom City, and Blue Rose for Green Ronin Publishing. He has written nine RPG tie-in novels and also runs his own imprint, Ad Infinitum Adventures, which publishes material for Icons Superpowered Roleplaying. Steve maintains a website and blog at