So the last post resulted in some rather interesting discussion (both on this post as well as at TMP) over the differences and virtues of different damage systems.
I think I've identified the main 'types' of systems, and I've also noticed that most are actually rather similar (so yes, I do think a specific, inherent preference for one over another is somewhat silly, but its still legitimate).
1) Damage Level systems, where all ships essentially have an equal number of HP, but they are given names instead of numbers (Fine, Damaged, Destroyed, for example). Ships have different defenses by their ability to avoid changing damage levels. (Traditional THW, more or less)
2) Special Damage systems- usually combined with other systems, but sometimes IS the system, so that the way to 'kill' another ship is to knock out all of its systems (though there is usually a way to Overkill and just blow the dang thing up). (Starfire)
3) Hit Points- like damage levels, but another thing that distinguishes ships is that bigger ships have MORE damage levels than smaller ships. Number instead of names. (BFG)
4) Threshold systems, where the damage is compared to a chart, and if it gets past a certain threshold, it has certain effects (these either being Damage Levels or Special Damage). (GOPS)
Anyway, what I think I'm settling on is the following rule:
Every hitting shot has its Impact subtracted by the Armor of the ship being hit. A D6 is added to this number.
(this next bit will likely be tweaked on the specific numbers)
Every shot that is below zero causes a "Been Shot" test. (cinematically: the ship is hit, but the weapon painlessly glances off, or causes a surface blast mark, causing the crew to return fire and evade)
Shots that are zero to 3 cause a "Shaken" test. (cinematically: the crew are thrown around the deck. Perhaps a few computers explode on the bridge. Small external bits- parts of wings, tips of rockets, etc, are blown off. It is possible that more damage is caused if the Fixers onboard don't prevent that small fire from blowing a hole in the ship...)
4-6 results in Light Damage (as well as a test that can worsen the damage to Heavy if failed). Cinematically: An explosion rocks the ship! Outer hull is totally gone in the area directly hit by enemy fire. There is a breach! Fires are inside, and there are probably a few casualties. Functionally the ship is still well within the area where it can operate, however, as most crew remain alive (possibly in space suits, however), the damage is repairable (though the results may not look as pretty as the shiny white exterior previously did), and the small breach doesn't prevent the engines from pushing the cockpit and guns to where they need to go, so... fight on!
7-8 results in Heavy Damage (with a test for going to Severe). Cinematically: The ship is starting to look pretty bad. Large chunks of the ship are gone, there are either several small breaches or a single large one, multiple fires on board, multiple dead. Without the optional Special Damage rules, the ship is still functioning, however.
9-10 is Severe Damage. (with a test for going Kaboom!) The ship is effectively dead, except that it can still shoot some types of weapons and can still repair. Cinematically, the ship is a Drifting Dead. What essentially makes it different form a Kaboom! ship is that there are a few survivors on board, and possibly (depending on if you are using optional special damage rules and whether or not those have affected your weapons) a few working, smaller, low power weapons. The survivors, no doubt floating through the exposed interior of the wrecked ship, do have a chance, however; good Fixers can get power running again, and slowly fix the ship so that it may once again fly.
11+ KABOOM! Self explanatory.
Adding Damage: example: if a ship is Light Damaged, then an additional Light Damage will send them into Heavy Damage. Here are all of them:
Light + Light = Heavy
Light + Heavy = Severe
Light + Severe = Roll again for chance of Kaboom and add Special Damage Effects, if in use.
Heavy + Heavy = Kaboom
Heavy + Severe = Kaboom
Repairing Damage: it is possible to reduce your current damage level with successful repairs (based on current damage type). Pretty self explanatory. In theory this means a ship that is pretty much dead can become a working ship again, but this takes awhile, requires some luck, and is unlikely to happen, especially if you are using special damage effects.
In addition, there will be optional special damage effects, which add a random chance for special damage from ANY attack (including shots that do not penetrate, though it will be rarer for them) as well as mandatory (though the actual effect would be random, you'd definitely get one if using these rules) special damage effects for different damage levels.
These do, in effect, make damage levels WORSE than they were before, so if you are using them, you have to use them for all ships within the game.
When repairing with special damage, you must repair all special damage (not including crew damage, which cannot be repaired, or loss of fuel, which is gone for good) down to the amount that you get mandatorily for the damage level below your current damage level before repairing a damage level.
Example: I am Heavily Damaged, with 2 special damage effects. To reduce to Light Damage (which causes 1 Special Damage Effect) I would need to first repair 1 special damage effect, and then repair the Heavy Damage down to Light Damage.
This basically makes it impossible to repair out of Severe Damage, as you are probably going to be severely damaged by being hit more than once, meaning you'll have something like 5 or 6 special damage effects in addition to the severe damage... so you'll be able to repair bits and pieces (get a gun working again, get some more armor working again, get the computers working, whatever) but it'll take longer than a lot of games last to really get back to a fully working condition.
So wait, I here the masses cry, it is as easy to kill a battleship as to kill a fighter, if they have the same armor?
But as Hull is still an attribute used in ship design, that situation will be rare. Hull will be used to determine how many Weapons, Armor, Cargo, Engines, even Speed (though base speed is smaller as you get bigger, if you devote enough of that space to powerful engines, you can get that ship to move faster), and to a certain extent, maneuverability (similar story to Speed), as well as 'maneuver thrusters' which can help your ship move around without turning.
In effect, very, very rarely will you see a big ship that has less armor than a little ship. Similar to how its hard to fit many guns on a little ship, while a big ship has lots. The advantages of less Hull is that you have higher starting values (which are modified by the design) for things like speed and maneuverability.
Little ships also have the advantage of usually needing less fuel (they can refuel at the carrier), not needing cargo (well, they could, but only a little... most ships of this size are just the cargo of a bigger ship, anyway), dogfighting abilities, being harder to hit, all of which free up space (in one way or another) to let them have the things they need- nice guns, maneuver thrusters, and a bit of armor.
I'm actually really liking the implications of this system... thoughts?