Nighthawks Rules

A brief summary of Nighthawks rules. You don’t need to learn any of this in advance, what you need to know is printed on your character cards, and we’ll explain everything in play as well.



Combat Missions

Missions are short and fast, and played a bit like a board game. The important bit is how they affect your characters, and their goals – not the details of what happened. It all happens too fast to remember it all

Expect to be placing tokens to show what you’re doing with only 10 seconds to decide. We’ll relax the timing a little on the first mission while you learn.

Your character has skills in Navigation, Marine and Piloting. The basic idea is “if you have enough, you succeed”. 2 is a competent professional skill level, 3 is difficult expert things – higher than 3 is “are you nuts?”
You can gain Wounds when your ship is hit with you inside, or by pushing your luck (see below). Each Wound you have reduces all your skills by 1.
Pushing Your Luck
If you want to do something you don’t have enough skill for, you can Push Your Luck. The GM will draw from a deck of cards – each draw can add  0, 1 or 2, but may have consequences based on what you were doing. E.g. you might get wounded, damage the ship, become stressed, etc. You can Push Your Luck multiple times on the same challenge if you like – but consequences accumulate. Pushing Your Luck CAN kill you if you’re wounded enough – it’s designed to be the only way to die in game.

If you don’t like a Push Your Luck draw, you can discard a Luck card to ignore it and re-draw. You get Luck back by personal goals – you have a card listing these.


Guts cards represent your ability to keep going under fire. You must discard a Guts card when the group comes under fire – if you can’t, you take a Crack or do nothing. Extra Guts cards are required to take heroic actions. GM decides what those are.

Command Crew

The Command Crew don’t go on the missions – instead they will receive the new starchart, list of distress calls, and plan how to manage the ships fuel, engineering, sickbay and supplies.

The Acts

Most of the time in the game is during the Acts, in between the missions.

This is social roleplay – some characters have special abilities during the Acts, the results of these are roleplayed and have a fair bit of scope for interpretation by whoever is targeted.

No/minimal physical contact is needed. Characters may conflict physically, but it should be roleplayed without contact.


The GM is playing Petty Officer Jones. Don’t call them Sir, they work for a living! Any time you want to check something with the GM, you can just ask Jones “Mr Jones, can I check something with you?” or similar. This is to allow you to ask OOC questions without breaking game flow too much. You can also ask Jones IC questions if you like, they have been on the ship for a long time.

End of Act

Five minutes before the end of the Act,  Jones will announce that the Charys is reaching launch point for the next mission. At the end of Act, the GM will say “Cut!”, and roleplay should stop while we get ready to transition into the next mission segment.

Combat missions are horribly stressful, and most of you have had hard lives even before you got to the Charys. Having support from those around you is important. So at the end of the Act, we’ll check in how your character is feeling about that.

Did your character feel supported, among friends, helped, listened to? Was someone there for you? If so – you can give a Thumbs Up at the end of Act.

Did your character feel alienated, attacked, questioned, isolated, an outsider? If so, you can give a Thumbs down at the end of Act.

  • Those who give Thumbs Up will gain a Guts card.
  • Those who give Thumbs Down will gain an Act Up card. Some people start with Act Up cards.
  • Some people have powers that trigger during the End of Act Transition. This happens before Mission Start triggers if you have those

Act Up

While you can try to convince, persuade, and coerce others through roleplay, those who have been feeling alienated, or just have a talent for it, are able to “Act Up” and attempt to put someone else in their place. This forces them to take an action you choose, or take a consequence. You can Act Up socially (threatens the target with losing Guts), or physically (threatens the target with taking a Wound)

To Act Up, you have to have an Act Up card, and its discarded after use.

Make it clear through roleplay what you want them to do, and whether you are threatening stress or injury. Then they get to decide. They can do what they think you want (relent) – in which case they do not take the consequence or they can refuse (resist), and take the consequence.

Two people within touching range can say “Restraining you”, and you cannot play an Act Up  card as long as they remain near you. Captain Fisk controls the crew and is assumed to always have someone else near – as such, Fisk can Restrain you by themselves.
Special Cards

If you see someone show a card with the Special back to the GM or another player, you can later quietly ask them “what did I see when you did …. ?” – and they’ll tell you. The italic text on the card gives them a hint what you might see.