Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Now that I know how combat and wounding works, adding weapons into the mix is almost taken care of for me. Since I want the quality of the attack roll to factor into damage, and I want to keep die rolling to an minimum in combat, giving weapons a static damage code makes a lot of sense. Add your yang dice to the weapon damage and that's how much you do. Seems simple enough.

In fact, this is more or less what Shadowrun does, and that's very appealing. While I don't want to refer to the game mechanics too much for inspiration, making a system that can easily port over the gear from Shadowrun has tremendous appeal. That means less hand crafting the gear catalog later. Given the size of said catalogs, yes plural, that's a very good thing. In fact, if I weren't so concerned with utilizing Shadowrun's gear catalog, I'd be tempted to revamp the wound and weapon system into something simpler such as the variants discussed on the Evil Hat Productions Wiki. However, my guys are gun nuts and I think they'll only tolerate so much abstraction before there's a revolt. So, for the moment I'm going to try something that makes a detailed conversion of the firearm catalog possible.

Taking a gander at the weapon listings in SR4, I see they all have a few stats: damage, rate of fire, penetration, recoil compensation, and ammo capacity. Melee weapons might have reach. So let's see...

SR4 introduces the idea of variable damage tracks, meaning that the number of boxes in your health meter varies from character to character based on stats; prior versions put everyone at 10. Period. Still, in all the time we played this edition, most people hovered somewhere close to 10, so Shadowrun's health meter isn't too far off mine. That means its weapon damage codes aren't too far off either. So to start off, I'm going to import the weapons with their damage codes unchanged.

Now, I want to shade combat in favor of offense. In general I want a combat system in which you take damage if you get hit. Maybe you can mitigate it a little, but a hit hurts. This prevents grinding combats. The last thing I want is people blazing away at each other with no one in danger of dropping. That said, I've got some thoughts about armor (which I'll discuss later) that make penetration as a base attribute for a weapon a little bit much. I'll keep it for the special ammunition though. In fact, having a glance at ammo rules, they tend to modify either damage or penetration or both, and I think I can keep all those modifiers in place too.

Rate of fire needs to change though. Again, if speed of resolution is the goal here, I need to change rates of fire. For example, the advantage of a semiautomatic weapon over a single shot one is that you can fire twice in one round. Makes sense, but I don't want my players rolling that much. But since I'm representing speed in terms of how much it advances you on the battle wheel, I think tying the shot cost for firing a gun to the weapon's rate of fire is a simple way of fixing that. Now both a single shot and semiautomatic weapon fire once per action, but the semiauto takes less time and lets you act again sooner.

Moving on to burst and autofire, these are a little trickier. Both add to damage, which seems completely appropriate, but I don't want to base the damage increase on a formula derived from the number of bullets you spray. Again, calculations slow things down. In this case, I'm tempted to handwave things a bit and go general. Even my gun enthusiast player isn't in love with autofire rules that require you to track lost bullets for walking fire among targets. At the same time, I don't want to jack the damage up too much. Though the system should favor offense, one shot kills, especially against players, should be rare.

So why not have burst and autofire backfill some of the damage? Bursts do damage as normal, except that they also fill in the damage box below their hit. Autofire's more powerful, so it can backfill two boxes. And to cover autofire's walking fire aspect, let's say you can choose to forgo backfilling the damage and instead apply your attack to everyone in an area. Seems simple enough. It basically does the same thing with a little less detail and a lot less calculations.

As for recoil, this is a monster of a mechanic. I've had players who base their entire character over countering the effects of recoil. The thing is, why? Usually so they could fire bursts without suffering penalties. I've already made bursts cost more time than single shots, so do I really need additional negative factors? Sure, it would be more realistic to include rules for it, but I've long ago lost any interest in using realism as a game design metric. RPGs are storytelling games modeled after certain genres. No, I think I'm just going to pitch recoil entirely.

Ammo... does anyone out there track bullets? I used to require it, just to be fair to the mages in my parties. After all, if the mage had to roll drain for every 6M mana bolt he threw, the sam should have some kind of downside to firing his 6M heavy pistol, shouldn't he? The thing is, no one ever did.

I came up with a solution to that once. I made weapon cards for everyone. It showed range, damage, die pool, all that stuff. At the bottom they'd make a stack of poker chips as high as the gun's magazine capacity. Every action, they'd strip off a number of chips equal to the number of rounds they shot. When the stack was gone, underneath were the rules used for reloading the gun (Shadowrun required different actions depending on how you loaded the gun). People thought it was pretty neat, and people did track their ammo under that system, but that seems like a lot of work for a minor detail. I'll have to think about that some more. For the meantime I'm ignoring it.

Now melee weapons, not that they'll see much use in my game. In the current group I'm playing with, several own knives, but none of them know how to use them. At all. They just like to draw them slowly to intimidate people they're interrogating. Seriously, they make the shhhhhhk sound effect and everything. It's clearly not the kind of thing that calls for a robust melee weapon catalog, but hey, better to have it done than get caught unprepared. Besides, guns ported over pretty easily.

I once designed a system that gave blunt weapons a higher damage code than bladed ones, but that let any bladed damage that penetrated armor do double. Seemed like a nice touch. For this, though, I'm thinking straight port from SR is again in order. Damage code is dependent on the Strength attribute, which I don't have, so the base value needs to be bumped up a little, let's say 2, since that puts the base damage on par with a lot of guns. Sure, melee weapons can't burst fire, but I have this idea that guns can't produce yin dice (you can't block with a gun), while melee combat does. So to dodge in a firefight, you'll need to combine Firearms with Dodge (which costs extra shots), while Armed Combat will give you both yin and yang dice. That seems like a good tradeoff.

Anyway, back to converting the weapons. Drop the penetration for the same reason as the guns, and reach... on the fly I'll say that reach gives you the rating in bonus dice but adds to your shot cost when using the weapon. Basically I'll add the reach rating to the weapon's speed when figuring out its shot cost. Forget relative reach. Theoretically if two guys are facing each other with reach weapons, giving them both a bonus should even things out.

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