I’m a big fan of the anime series, Outlaw Star. I can’t really tell you what drew me to it in the first place, but I can tell you one of the things that really kept my attention after I started watching it: Grappler ships.
Well, it didn’t take me long upon looking at the starship stat blocks in the Star Wars Saga Edition roleplaying game to realize that vehicles had grapple modifiers that were virtually useless unless the enemy happened to be focusing tractor beams on you. So I began to think, how could I involve grapple modifiers into starship combat more often? And then it hit me, grappler arms. So, with fluff befitting the current campaign I’m running, I present the rules to grappler arms.
Grappler arms are a unique weapons system designed by the engineers in the Mandalorian Navy in an effort to allow their pilots to obtain more glory in starship combat. Grappler arms are very short range weapons that when used effectively, turn the starfighter into a very dangerous opponent, however, also making them very dangerous to the pilot using them.
Grappler arms are equipped wtih a gravitic scrambler that helps them to punch through an enemies deflector shields and latch onto the hull. Then, through use of either the razor sharp claws on the “fingers” or gravitic pulses, allow the grappler ship to tear their opponent to pieces.
Grappler arms allow a pilot involved in a dogfight to make a grapple check as a full round action, and if successful, deal damage to his target. As a bonus, the target only applies half of his SR to the attack thanks to gravitic scramblers installed on the arms and the target doesn’t get to apply his DR to the attack. The arms can either be used to deal 4d10x2 points of damage using gravitic pulses to break apart the ship’s superstructure, or use the clawed “fingers” to tear the enemy apart, dealing 3d10x2 damage, plus the starfighter’s Strength bonus (added after the multiplier). The grapple can be maintained every round, just like a grapple at character scale, simply requiring a new opposed grapple check to be made. The target, on his turn can attempt to escape, either by making an opposed grapple check of his own, or a Pilot check opposed by the Grappler Ship’s grapple check. Failure to escape causes the target to move -1 step down the condition track as it strains the ship’s engines and superstructure.
Grappler arms are an Illegal weapons emplacement that take 2 emplacement points. The cost is dependent on the equipment bonus to grapple check the arms provide. If you want a +2 bonus, it’s going to cost you 5,000 credits base. It’ll be 10,000 credits base for a +5 bonus, and a hefty 50,000 credits base for a +10 bonus.
Adding grappler arms toa ship does weaken the overall structural integrity and reroutes a lot of the power circuits, causing the shield generators to lose efficiency, cutting the ship’s DR and SR in half (rounded down to the nearest multiple of 5). However, most of the pilots using them find the benefits of being able to dispatch your opponent more quickly far outweigh the risks of the weapon system.