Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Savage Worlds: Ascended Miniatures Tactics

As I've delved into Savage Worlds and the benefits and issues therein, while simultaneously reading more on Warhammer 40k rules, it has solidified an inkling I had.

Savage Worlds developed in part as a miniatures tactics ruleset almost exactly like WH40k.

Where GURPS began as an exceptionally in-depth combat system that grew into an incredibly comprehensive, simulationist tabletop RPG, Savage Worlds seems to have gone the other direction, starting as a Fast Dice system with minimal bookkeeping to track character's vital details and adding options for elevating a simple tactics character to Roleplaying Character status. While I know the system evolved in part from previous games made by Pinnacle that work similarly, the incredible lack of alteration required to use Savage Worlds as a minis combat system is unlikely to be accidental.

In both WH40k and SW, typical characters (Extras in SW parlance) have 1 wound before being removed.

Most Named Characters (Wildcards in SW) have 3 wounds.

Both systems mitigate low "hit points" with a roll to wound based on the unit's toughness.

Both systems use a flat "to hit" roll based on skill for ranged attacks vs a fixed target modified by cover. Both systems utilize a simple comparison of melee skill to determine who can hit what in melee. Both systems effectively lock you into melee until one side retreats, AND consider pistols as a melee weapon in close combat. (WH40k locks you in combat, and a side failing the Leadership test to continue fighting is hunted and destroyed as they try to flee. SW grants the party not retreating a free bonus attack on retreating enemies).

Both follow the roll to hit, then to wound. Savage Worlds differs by adding a sub-wound level of Shaken that stuns a character if the to wound roll is only barely successful. WH40k has an extra roll for armor save, this is rolled into the To Wound in SW

Both systems permit a 6" move action and a single action on a turn. That run action is handled via a d6 roll for extra distance in both, barring special rules to increase die size. In WH40k, there's an alternative option to charge into melee which usually grants first-round bonuses for the fight, while SW permits you to run but incurs a -2 multi-action penalty to any further actions.

Both have morale/leadership rules to resist the urge to abandon the fight upon taking set numbers of casualties.

Both systems assign ranged weapon's reach based on kinematics (modified by accuracy or effective range, if relevant), rather than actual projectile reach. In WH40k, pistols and shotguns get 12" reach, rifles get 24", stuff like LMGs get 36". In SW, pistols and shotguns (non sawn off) get 12", rifles get 24", and LMGs get 30". In WH40k that's all the range you get, in SW you get two additional range bands (doubling each time) with a -2 and -4 range penalty.

Both systems modify odds similarly. WH40k uses differing success numbers on a d6 (2+, 3+, 4+, etc. 1 always fails), savage worlds instead keeps the target number (mostly) the same and uses progressively larger die type (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12).

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Tech Tuesday: VR Accessories

Something came across my Facebook feed that reminded me of all the VR accessories that came and went way ahead of their time (Lookin' at you, Novint, with your sweet haptic feedback sleeves) and are now becoming Actually Relevant.

The Hardlight VR suit. In GURPS UltraTech, this is a Basic VR suit. The current gloves/controllers and mask setup that's popular is Glove VR. Adds torso tracking, and a bit of vibratory haptic feedback to let you know what's happening beyond things that touch your hands. and of course the inevitable kickstarter.

Combined with the Virtuix Omni 360 treadmill (It's actually a person-sized touchpad with slippy shoes, essentially, rather than an actual treadmill), you're pretty well set for VR adventures.

That set me searching.
The Axon VR suit. Full VR, it provides haptic feedback and even resistance to motion if there's a virtual object in the way.

Meanwhile, the future continues to arrive with the Multimedia Wall. Sorry, the LG OLED Wallpaper TV. For providing the external view without being large enough to be in the way and get smacked while you're off in a digital world.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Music Monday: 2fer

Have two songs that link together with a sweet video from The Offspring. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

LEGO for Gaming: Near Official Support

So, Lego has a thing where you can propose sets. If you can garner support for your idea, it may become an official set.

Someone proposed a Dungeon Master pack, with all the stuff for a D&D style fantasy dungeon crawl. Skeletons, goblins, witches, and wights, with a few valiant heroes to face them, it's a set designed to give all the props and pieces you'd want for high fantasy.

It already has a fair amount of support. Like most LEGO set lines, if it does well it will likely expand. This is one of the few predominantly scenery sets that isn't a castle or a city, and therefore appeals to me super hard for the possibilities

I hope that it gets support, and they do expansions and variations, such as a cyberpunk business sprawl, navigable spaceship interiors, Victorian streets, or prohibition speakeasy.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Crisis of faith

I've got a bunch of stuff to say on The Trumpening, Hillary's loss, assorted protests, and a great many other things. I just need to feel the desire to pound the keyboard into something resembling a post.

This, however is not that post.

This post is about GURPS (4e?), and Savage Worlds.

Specifically, I'm a big fan of generic systems. I'm also a fan of both systems that are fast and fun while offering depth, and systems that have the near infinite gritty crunch. This is GURPS appeal, in some ways it's actually a pretty simple system (when in doubt, roll 3d6 unless damage says otherwise), but it's got layers and layers of complexity to use or ignore as desired.

But it's still horrifyingly complex to the average player, and has a few things that could be tightened up, as I outlined a few of here.

Savage worlds fixes some of them, and maintains others at about the same level of broken. The weapon tables are balanced weird and a couple environmental hazards are wonky, but I've tried to run a game using Ultra-Tech, so...

Plus, the possibility of themed decks and dice and things, plus the freeform tabletop tactics nature of the system (similar to things like WH40k, made particularly apparent by how easily the system converts into a Miniatures Tactics game!) all have a certain allure.

I'm being tempted away from GURPS.

I'll still use it, probably. But GURPS 4e has been my go-to Favorite System for a while. And now it has competition. Some of it can be houseruled to bring up to ways I like doing things more. Some things require a pretty substantial mechanics change.

I can explain Savage Worlds to a potential player in 10ish minutes, start to stop. I can do similar with GURPS 4e. Except Savage Worlds doesn't cause them to run screaming away when they look at the actual rules.

If they ever make a GURPS 5e, I've no doubt it will bring me crawling back. But for now, it looks like I'm multiclassing with my systems.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The folly of technology

I celebrated surviving another swing around the sun recently. As part of it, I just acquired a Samsung Gear Fit2 today.

I connected it to my phone with the manager, and attempted to update.

It got stuck in the update.

Then it shut down.

Now it won't restart.

Welp, time to bother the Samsung specialists at Best Buy to fix it, and potentially have the housemate who formerly worked as one show them how it's done.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

GURPS Sci-Fi Sunday: Armor of The Future

In designing a near future military, it becomes vital to determine what is currently used, to gauge where the future is (presumably better, one would hope!). TL9 guns are generally assumed to be similar to TL8 weapons, differing with slightly increased damage due to improved powders, and lighter caseless ammunition (which has its own host of problems, but reduces the odds of FTE jams by having nothing to eject).

In the 1990s, a soldier or marine might wear the following
Fragmentation Vest w/ Plates. DR 5/2*, 9lbs, $3500 plus DR 25, 16 lbs, $350. Total DR 30/27, 25lbs $700
Frag Helmet DR5, 3 lbs $125
Boots, Jungle DR 3/2, 3lbs, $75

In 2010, a soldier or marine might wear the following
Assault Vest w/ Plates. DR 12/5*, 8 lbs, $900, plus DR 23, $600 OR DR 25, 8lb, $1000, Total DR
Ballistic Helmet, DR 12, 3lbs $250
Tactical Goggles, Nictitating Membrane 5 (DR 5 to the eyes) $100, Negligible Weight.
(OPTIONAL) DAP, DR 8/2*, 4 lbs, $100, protects shoulder and upper arm
Boots DR 2*, 3lbs $80, stealth +1 due to similarities in the modern tactical boot to running shoes.

The Trauma Plates listed in the box are SAPI plates, 4 lb ceramic plates rated to NIJ III protection (will stop up to 7.62x51 NATO ball ammo, 7d pi, 24.5 damage average). Modern plates may use ESAPI plates (rated to stop 30-06 AP, 7d+1 (2) pi-, 25.5 damage average for armor pen, 12 damage average to flesh), but aren't listed in GURPS. As the damage doesn't really change, a better way to treat them would be to add the Hardened modifier. Using stats available online, ESAPI plates are 5.5lbs, and are able to absorb the impact of basic armor piercing ammo (Hardened 1).

Not listed in GURPS are lightweight Plate Carriers with no inherent DR (but also nearly no inherent weight). Using stats available for plate carriers on the market, a plate carrier like the Scaleable Plate Carrier might be
1.5 lbs, possibly DR 1 (they're usually pretty sturdy fabric, but usually nothing bullet resistant).

From this, we get that the modern established military equips their troops with DR12 to the skull (pistol/frag rated), DR 23-35 to the torso depending on mission, and a nice set of sturdy boots. Gloves, deltoid and axiliary protection, and eye protection may be optional. Ballistic limb protection exists, but is very rarely used outside of guards and exposed turret gunners due to weight and cost.

So where do we go from here?

The first, most obvious place is Reflex clothing (DR 12/4*, weight 3lb, $450 for jacket (torso+arms) and 2.8 lbs, $280 for pants (legs+groin). This protects the vast majority of the soldier from non armor piercing pistol fire and fragmentation. Reflex gloves add 6/2*, neg weight, and $30 to the hands.
Total weight of giving the body some measure of damage resistance from the neck down is $760, 5.8 lbs with the gloves. This option may not always be taken.

An alternative full-body armor is available in:
Reflex TacSuit, 20/10* DR, 15 lbs, C/12hr power, $3000. Covers the entire body from the neck down, and provides climate control if you put on a sealed helmet or mask.
Reflex Vacc Suit, 20/10* DR, 30 lbs, 2C/24 hr power, $12,000. As above, but vacc rated. Gives climate control, pressure support (10 atm), radiation protection PF 2, and vacuum support (with proper helmet), plus biomed sensors

Skinsuits may be issued by militaries facing hostile environments such as other planets or the void of space, as they give DR 2* and provide vacuum support and significant climate control. Skintight space undies.

On top of this might go a
Reflex Tactical Vest (18/7* DR, 9lbs, $900, plus 34 DR, 9lbs, $600 plates), total of 52/41 DR, 18lbs,
Light Clamshell, 30 DR, 12lbs, $600
Heavy Clamshell, 45 DR, 18 lbs, $900.

The reflex tac vest might be worn as standalone primary armor, with no armored BDUs. Light or heavy clamshell atop reflex BDUs gives troops good survivability, and still pretty cheap and light.

Limb armor is taken care of by reflex BDUs, but heavier armor might be desired. Based on the Light and Heavy Clamshell, Ultralight would offer 15 DR, 6lbs, and $300 for the torso. Using the armor creation rules from Ultra-Tech or Low-Tech you can make other armors from the torso armor.
To adapt torso armors into a full suit for use with the Ultratech rules, multiply cost and weight by 4.

DAP, 20% cost and weight of torso armor
Arms, 50% cost and weight of torso armor
Legs, 100% cost and weight of torso armor
Full Suit (neck down, not including hands and feet), 255% cost and weight of torso armor

An average troop might add Ultralight or even Light clamshell DAP to their kit, or just have whole body coverage of clamshell armor, while special operations might layer it over a tacsuit for extreme damage resistance.

Special cases may even warrant the following
Combat Hardsuit, 50/30 DR (torso/everywhere else), 30 lbs, $10,000. Worn with a space rated helmet, gives radiation PF 2, biomed sensors, waste relief system, and climate control. Not vacuum/pressure rated, but can operate in other kinds of harsh environments
Space Armor, 50/30 DR (torso/everywhere else), 45 lb, $20,000. Worn with a space rated helmet, gives radiation PF 10, Pressure support (10 atm), climate control, and biomed sensors

There are several options when selecting helmets, depending on environment.
Troops expecting to fight only in planetary environments may use the following.
Light Infantry Helmet, 18 DR, 3 lbs, $250 protects skull
Visor, 15 DR, 3 lbs, $100 (Protects eyes/face)
Armored Shades, 10 DR, 0.1 lb, $100
Air Mask, 10 DR, 1 lb, protects eyes/face, $100. Requires air tank
Filter Mask, 10 DR, 3 lb, protects eyes/face, $100. Filters breathable but contaminated environment.
All may add $50 for a HUD, or integrate any passive visual sensors
Combat Infantry Helmet, 18/12 DR (18 skull, 12 eyes/face), 5 lb, $2000, B/12 hr. Provides Sealed when worn with a combat hardsuit or tacsuit. Includes GPS, Hearing protection, small radio, infrared visor w/ HUD, and filter masks.

Troops that may be exposed to vacuum may use the following
Visored Space Helmet, 20/15 DR (20 skull, 15 eyes/face), $2000, 4 lbs. Incorporates small radio, IR visor, and hearing protection. Seals and provides vacuum support.
Space Combat Helmet, 40/30 DR (40 Skull, 30 eyes/face), $3000, 7 lbs. Incorporates small radio, IR visor, and hearing protection. Seals and provides vacuum support.

Any suits without integrated boots receive TL9 combat boots
Assault Boots, 12/6 DR (underside/sides), 3lb, $150. Add +4 to hiking skill.

What do we get from all this?
Future combatants have more variation in armor for different applications. Heavy gunners, turret gunners, special forces, and so forth.

On average, a typical frontline combat troop will have 40+ torso DR, between 0 and 30 limb DR, 18+ skull DR, and at least heavy armored eye protection with a HUD to run assorted tactical programs. Armor weight, kept to a minimum, is lower than that of a modern TL8 combat load. However, taking advantage of the substantially more extensive protection possible may push the weight above that of a current fighter. However, ultratech suits like the skinsuit, tacsuit, combat armor, and space armor allow substantial amounts of gear to be done without, such as warm/cold weather gear and sleeping bags, and lighter/more compact foodstuffs, weapons, and ammunition. Due to easy accessibility, combat in differing environments and conditions.

Future combat is likely to involve major injuries to limbs, death of a thousand cuts with penetrating damage doing a few points of blunt trauma at a time through torso armor (or, knockout), or a showstopper with a lucky/skilled headshot. Armor piercing ammunition is all but mandatory between major armor issuing powers. The listed ultratech weapons do 6d or 7d for the average infantry small arms (21 and 24.5 damage, respectively), meaning 40-50 DR can soak an armor piercing shot without being Hardened.