Friday, December 30, 2016

Savage Worlds Deluxe: Explorers Edition First Impressions

I've long had a fondness for generic systems for as long as I've known of their existence. GURPS 3eRevised was my first, and then on to 4e. I've heard about Savage Worlds on and off, but never done anything, so I looked into a Test Drive demo-lite edition and was mostly impressed. I received the full deluxe explorer's edition for Christmas, and have been eagerly reading it. I figured it'd be nice to have something a bit less terrifying to new players than GURPS to run with.

First Impressions: It's fast and simple, and pretty cinematic. It is well suited to the task I envisioned for it, using it as a sub-system for my game's Ultra-Tech characters to jump in and represent the VR games they'll play on occasion for some variety from being space dickheads across the milkdromeda galaxy. It's quick and easy enough that I can let other people jump in as GM if I want to get in on the action (as one of their many crewmates).

Basics of the system are d4 through d12 for human stats, almost all things have a target number of 4+ to succeed. Every 4+ gets you a raise. d4 is below average, d6 is average, d12+ is ridiculously good.
D4 gives 25% chance of success, failing on 1-3, succeeding on 4 before modifiers
D6 gives 50% chance of success, failing on 1-3, succeeding on 4-6 before modifiers
D8 gives 63% chance of success, failing on 1-3, succeeding on 4-8 before modifiers
D10 gives 70% chance of success, failing on 1-3, succeeding on 4-10 before mods
D12 gives 75% chance of success, failing on 1-3, succeeding on 4-12 before mods
Beyond this you get a flat bonus of +1 through +15 depending on how ludicrous the stat is (Dragons and tanks get pretty beefy, for example).

Opposed rolls are direct, your stat vs the opponent's, whoever gets highest wins. Important Characters (known as Wildcards) get a free d6 roll on all stat checks, because They're Important.

Fighting doesn't have an opposed roll, instead you go vs. a Target Number (TN) of 2+half of their fighting skill. Fighting, unless using special rules that require more specialization by type, covers ALL melee, though there are penalties for unfamiliarity. Shields, cover, and maneuvers can modify this TN. Everyone gets a free shot at you if you try to leave melee, with no rules for breaking off safely. Having trained, this isn't quite accurate (D&D does it better, letting you take your 5 foot step out of reach and then running)

Shooting is just vs. a TN of 4, modified by cover. Some edges for being dodgy can give enemies a penalty to enemy rolls against you, but there's nothing you can actively do against a ranged attack on a successful roll, no agility bonus or anything. You want to keep your bits unshot, you keep behind cover. This is kind of similar to GURPS 4e Harsh Realism rules for guns, in that you can take no active defense against them outside of special circumstances. Still, it drives home the benefits of good armor and better cover, and keeps things moving. Much like GURPS, shooting more than a single round per turn tends to assume you miss a lot.

Damage is weird but minimizes bookkeeping. If you hit but don't get a raise on your damage (targeting their toughness+armor), the target is Shaken, and can't do anything until they manage to get their wits about them again. If you can hit someone for two Shaken results before they shrug it off, it turns into a wound or a fatigue level. Beating their toughness with a raise gives a wound. Anything that fails to shake/wound, is just lost. You connected but were deflected, managed to glance off armor, or whatever.

There's a lot of nice rules for handling chases of all sorts, Dramatic Situations (hacking, disarming bombs, etc), and even pretty quick-and-accessible rules for mass combat. There's something I've tried before that usually works decently for allies, where they're given to the players to keep them engaged (particularly if someone's character isn't present, or has been disabled).

Now, the downsides:
First off, the biggest disappointment is equipment. I know I'm jaded by the glory that is GURPS High-Tech 4e, but still. Deadlands, the precursor system to Savage Worlds, had REALLY GOOD weapon tables. Savage Worlds simplifies everything too much for my tastes. Basic Pistol is still 2d6, but it doesn't scale with actual power. A large man with a big sword (greatsword+d10 strength die) does 2d10, as does a flamethrower/firebreath, as does a goddamn .50 BMG. One of these things shouldn't be in the same neighborhood of damage as the others, even with the decent stack of Armor Piercing. Similarly wrong, .308 is given the same damage/range as 5.56 with just a hint more AP. On one hand, I know why: Melee brawls are cinematic and cool, and not having guns as brokenly overpowered as they actually are keeps close combat relevant. Still, guns are statted simply enough that it wouldn't be hard to whip up a "realism" table.

Next is some environmental stuff; Hunger and Thirst can both kill in a day if you have shitty luck with rolls. This is moderately OK with water, but pretty much inexcusable with hunger.

Final disappointment is the apparent power level. IRL I'm above average across the board because I farm character points like a tryhard. The average character is assumed to be trained-but-green. I'm not sure if I'd qualify for anything beyond Seasoned rank (the first rank above Novice, where characters start), but I can just barely approximate myself in my current out-of-shape-and-practice condition without further EXP. I'm not sure if this is a measure of them making some things worth way more points than they should be (Ambidexterity is a common offender: weapons-only ambidexterity isn't all that impressive, but most systems treat it as a Pretty Big Deal), me being overpowered because I train and study as a passtime, or the system being balanced weak.

At any rate; if you're interested, they have a test drive demo, and a free version modified into a Miniatures Tactical Battle game. The V6 test drive is the one I read, I'm not sure how it compares to the 2015

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas

Been out and about all day, enjoying time with family and eating altogether far too much food. traded some gifts.

Have a Merry Christmas, I'll try to have some actual content some other time.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

GURPSplosions, Shotguns, and Specialty Loadings: Filling in the gaps

GURPS high tech has fairly extensive lists of specialty grenade and shotgun ammo, and different shotgun shell chamberings listed on rare occasion (the 3" magnum is listed only for the Banelli M1 Super 90, despite the fact that about half the guns on the list are now available in 3" magnum. That might not be their fault due to changes after the book was written, though).

On top of that, Ultra-Tech has a great many specialty warheads and loadings, and some of the numbers seem to work right and others.... not so much, at least not by comparison to the round they would scale from in High Tech. In some cases, optional warheads aren't available for things where they were in High Tech, or neither book features specialty rounds in calibers where they exist already

On top of that, lots of options are only given at one tech level or another, not showing anything for higher TL version (the HE Shotgrenade is listed only at TL7).

Still other options should probably exist but don't.

Anything that would be loaded with filler is going to be modified according to the following data.
Most TL7 explosive fillers are REF 1.4
Most TL8 explosive fillers are REF 2.25 (1.61x  the power of TL7 filler)
The listed TL9 explosive filler is REF 4, (1.78x the power of TL8 filler)

First off, some comparisons, using stuff as listed, then according to Adjusting Damage rules to double check the numbers.
40mm High Explosive. 
TL7 HE 40mm: 4d-1 [2d] cr ex
TL8 HE 40mm: 6d+2 [2d] cr ex
TL9 HE 40mm: 8d [2d] cr ex

Using Adjusting Damage rules to check
TL8 HE 40mm turns into 6d [2d] cr ex
TL9 HE 40mm turns into 12d-1 [2d] cr ex if starting with 6d+2 or 11d-1 [2] if starting with 6d

40mm Shaped Charge
TL7 40mm HEDP: 4d(10) cr ex + 4d+2 [2d] cr ex linked
TL8 40mm HEDP: 7d(10) cr ex + 6d [2d] cr ex linked
TL9 40mm HEDP*: 6dx4(10) cr einc + 4d [2d] cr ex linked
 TL9 lists Shaped Charge as an dual purpose round, rather than pure shaped charge, but much heavier on the shaped charge as you'd expect the 4d [2d] fragmentation effect to be closer to 8d, per HE.

This one's harder to convert using Adjusting Damage because there's more at play in the power of the shaped charge than raw explosive power, but lets just see what we get,shall we?
TL8 40mm HEDP turns into 6d+2(10) cr ex + 7d+1 [2d] cr ex linked
TL9 40mm HEDP turns into 6d2(10) cr ex + 11d-1 [2d] cr ex linked
As you can see, if you treat Shaped Charge as the next evolution of HEDP, things go screwy, with you getting half the listed shaped charge power, and nearly triple the HE blast. There's a High Explosive MultiPurpose warhead (HEMP), but it doesn't come until TL10 for reasons unexplained.

25mm HEDP vs. 25mm Shaped Charge nets similar results
TL8 25mm HEDP: 4d+2(10) cr ex + 3d-1 [1d+1] cr ex linked
TL9 25mm HEDP*: 5dx3(10) cr inc + 2d [1d+1] cr ex linked
Again, between TL8 and TL9, the fragmentation explosion drops, with a substantially higher power shaped charge.

Using Adjusting Damage rules from the TL8 25mm yields the following
25mm HEDP: 8d(10) cr ex + 5d-1 [1d+1] cr ex linked.

In both cases, the ultratech Shaped Charge is approximately 2x the shaped charge damage and 1/2 the fragmentation/dual purpose blast (but no less fragmentation effect). Given the easily acquired nature of DR at TL9+, this makes a lot of sense.

One thing Ultra-Tech DOESN'T have that High Tech does? A shotgun HEAT shell. High Tech has various HE and HEAT shells, but some are only one TL or another, and they vary in size
Based on my research, 3" magnum shotshells tend to have 1.5x to 1.67x the projectile load of a 2.75" shell, and 3.5" supermagnum shells have a full 2x (potentially even more, if you sacrifice some powder charge to drive it). Because the projectiles are approximately cylinders, and the diameter doesn't change, this makes it real easy to scale things up. Interestingly, 3" magnum has the same listed max chamber pressure as a 2.75" shell, but a heavier projectile or going beyond SAAMI spec can both boost power a bit.

Items marked with ^ are custom, made using Adjusting Damage rules.

18.5mm/12g HE
TL7 HE 2.75" shotgrenade: 4d(0.5) pi++ + 1d-1 [1d] cr ex follow-up.
TL8 HE 2.75" shotgrenade^: 4d(0.5) pi++ + 1d+1 [1d] cr ex follow-up
TL8 HE 3.00" shotgrenade^: 4d(0.5) pi++ + 2d [1d] cr ex follow-up
TL8 HE 3.50" shotgrenade^: 4d(0.5) pi++ + 2d+2 [1d] cr ex follow-up
TL9 HE 2.75" shotgrenade: 5d(0.5) pi++ + 2d+2 [1d] cr ex follow-up
TL9 HE 3.00" shotgrenade^: 5d(0.5) pi++ + 4d+1 [1d] cr ex follow-up
TL9 HE 3.50" shotgrenade^: 5d(0.5) pi++ +5d [1d] cr ex follow-up

TL9 3.00" shotgrenades have as much raw explosive power as a TL7 HE 40mm grenade, though less fragmentation effect.

18.5mm/12g HEAT
TL8 HEAT 3.00" shotgrenade: 1d(10) cr ex + 1d-1 cr ex linked
TL8 HEAT 3.50" shotgrenade^: 1d+1(10) cr ex + 1d-1 cr ex linked
TL9 HEAT 3.00" shotgrenade^: 2d-1(10) cr ex +1d+1 cr ex linked
TL9 HEAT 3.50" shotgrenade^: 2d+1(10) cr ex + 1d+1 cr ex linked

HEAT shotgrenades are simultaneously lackluster yet potent. They also don't maintain the effectiveness of other things in Ultra-Tech of being a little over half the effective power of 25mm warheads when customed up to TL9 versions. Still, they might warrant a single shot underbarrel shotgrenade launcher for a primary weapon, and offer enough power to potentially damage the joints and other weakspots of even a heavy combat walker, or power armor of all sorts.

18.5mm/12g Buckshot, all TLs
2.75" Shotshell: 1d+1 per pellet, 9 pellets per shotshell
3.00" Shotshell^: 1d+1 per pellet, 15 pellets per shotshell
3.00" Shotshell: 1d+2 per pellet, 12 pellets per shotshell
3.50" Shotshell^: 2d-1 per pellet, 9 pellets per shotshell
3.50" Shotshell^: 1d+2 per pellet, 15 pellets per shotshell
3.50" Shotshell^: 1d+1 per pellet, 18 pellets per shotshell

Additionally, buckshot rounds for 40mm are listed but lackluster in High Tech, and nothing is given for 25mm buckshot. Given stronger barrels able to withstand full pressure, TL9 buckshot grenades might look as follows. 25mm buckshot is based on the russian 23mm shotgun.

TL7 40mm birdshot: 1d-1(0.5) pi-, acc 2, 20 pellets per shot
TL8 40mm birdshot: 1d-1(0.5) pi-, acc 2, 50 pellets per shot
TL9 40mm buckshot: 1d+1 pi, 40 pellets per shot
TL9 40mm heavy buckshot: 2d-1 pi, 30 pellets per shell

Grenade Launcher Buckshot
25mm Heavy Buckshot: 2d+1, 12 pellets per shell
25mm Heavier Buckshot: 3d-1, 8 pellets per shell
40mm Heavy Buckshot: 2d+1, 20 pellets per shell
40mm Heavier Buckshot: 3d-1, 16 pellets per shell

Given the nature and easy availability of armor in the future, and even at TL8, buckshot loses effectiveness rapidly. A way around this is to use heavy flechettes, maintaining the number of projectiles but turning them into fin stabilized armor piercing darts.
Turn damage from pi to pi-, add (2) armor divisor, no other changes.

Depleted Uranium adds +1 per dart at this level, and optionally increases the armor divisor up to (3) if using my other homebrew rules.

Custom Depleted Uranium, based on Depleted Uranium from High-Tech and Armor Piercing Enhanced Penetrator from Ultra-Tech
Add Armor divisor of (3), +10% dmg, +30% range. Reduce damage type by one step if below 20mm. On penetrating hard armor with DR10+, add an incendiary [1d(2)] attack with fragments cycling every 10 seconds for 30 seconds. DX roll can brush fragments away if they're accessible.

18.5mm/12g Slugs, all TLs
2.75" Slug: 4d+4 pi++ (combines to 5d pi++)
3.00" Slug^: 4d+8 pi++ (combines to 6d pi++)
3.50" Slug^: 8d-4 pi++ (combines to 7d pi++)

I was going to add more to this, but I think that's enough for one post.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

GURPS 5e hypothetical wishlist

Preface: GURPS 4e does a lot of things decently well, and Steve Jackson games seems to have kind of stopped caring about the system, so a 5e probably won't happen. Maybe these will develop into homebrew rules, or maybe I'll inspire someone to go "oh hey yeah that'd work" (unlikely).

First and foremost, is rapid fire rules. By my estimation, a trained gunman (Skill 13) at close range (2 yards, no range penalty) against an average size target that isn't dodging (ex, All Out Attacked, or just facing away), not aiming but with an all out attack and MAYBE mechanical assistance (for +1 from each), should have a reasonable chance of getting all rounds on target, at least from a RCL 2 weapon. All totaled, these conditions lead to an effective skill of 13+1+1+RoF bonus (+1 through +4 likely)

With RoF 5-8 (+1 bonus)
Skill 16, RCL2 gun. Against a stationary, non-dodging but threatening (no "quiet range" bonus) SM 0 target. An average roll of 10 will get 4 rounds on target. With RoF 5, a roll of 8 is required for 100% rounds on target. With RoF 6, a roll of 6 gets 100%, and a roll of 4 gets 100% with RoF 7. With RoF 8, rules as written you cannot get 100% on target without additional bonuses.

With RoF 9-12 (+2 bonus)
Skill 17, RCL2 gun. Same target as above, average roll of 10 still gets you 4 rounds, a slightly better roll of 9 gets you 5 rounds on target. On a roll of 3, you can get 8 rounds on target. Without additional bonuses, you cannot achieve 100% rounds on target.

With RoF 13-16 (+3 bonus)
Skill 18, RCL2 gun. Same target as first option, same average roll of 10 now gets you 5 rounds on target. On a roll of 4, you can still achieve 8 rounds on target. 100% continues to be impossible.

Make no mistake, 4-5 rounds on target is no slouch, and against bigger targets getting an extra round or two when you need that damage is easier. But it still seems off that it's literally impossible to get all shots on target.

Suggestions to fix: You get RoF/X shots on target per success. I'm unsure of where the best number for that is, but 5-10 seems accurate. Faster firing guns leave less room between shots, meaning it's easier to hit with more of them if you're on target

Decaying accuracy. When aiming at a specific hit location, if you fail to make the attack you miss, even if you were aiming at a location inside of another (such as the eye or vitals). If you miss by 1, you hit the torso, even if you're aiming for something in another body part, for example the eye (success by 9 over skill before hit location modifier), if just barely missed, should instead hit the face (success by 5) or skull (success by 7), but current rules say if you missed by more than 1, the shot sails past even if the shot was good enough to hit the face. Similarly, if you succeed by enough, ALL targeted attacks hit the same spot (ex, managing an eye shot with 3 successes hits the eye 3 times, rather than eye, skull, face, or somesuch due to recoil)

Suggestion to fix: Tables are bad, every table that must be referenced for regular play slows things down, so a scatter table isn't the answer. That also potentially leads to needing either several tables to avoid shooting someone in the face and having round #2 hit them in the foot. My idea is to have hit location decay by RCL. RCL 2 shot to the eye will hit eye, skull, head if you exactly make the shot for the eye and fired 3 shots. A shot to the hand will go Hand, Arm, Torso (or to the gun, it goes gun, hand, arm).

This would also likely serve to change how the Targeted Attack technique worked, as skill at shooting particular small targets is different from just base guns skill, but I'm not quite sure how to fix it. Easiest way would be to make Targeted Attack a Hard technique, that just buys off part of the hit location penalties for everything. Alternatively, it might need to be priced as a Wildcard technique for balance. Each hit location is still subject to the restriction on TA that you can never go below half penalty.
For example: 2 points (first level) in TA: Guns (possibly a specialization here), means you're at -1 to shoot limbs, a -2 for the vitals, -4 for face, -6 for skull, -8 for eyes, -7 or -9 for chinks in armor. another point means you're still at that same -1 and -2 for limbs and vitals, down to -3 for the face, -5 for the skull, -7 for the eyes, etc. You get very swiftly diminishing returns.

Next up is a minor tweak. Swords are assumed to be Parry 0, as are the vast majority of melee weapons. However, according to Low Tech Companion, everything else can have a guard added to it for a +1 to parry, which swords are exempt from. If swords are default, everything else (axes/etc) should be parry -1. Alternatively, parry 0 is the norm, and most swords with full guards should be +1. Mostly a minor tweak for internal consistency, and it makes swords actually worth their relatively extreme cost. Having trained with Parry 0 Tomahawk and Parry 0 Cutlass, the cutlass is FAR easier to parry with.

Weapon Skills: Having trained extensively with melee weaponry, martial arts, and a number of weapons both true and recreational (air guns, firearms, recreational laser weapons, nerf guns, and water guns, to name a few). GURPS has very little overlap between melee skills, despite all the old training manuals often recommending training in seemingly vastly disparate skills (Ex, learning epee as a precursor to everything from broadsword to quarterstaff). There's also only so many possible cuts using a one handed weapon, no matter the balance. Similarly, there are no defaults between any unarmed combat skills. The finest judo practitioner in the world, of masterful body control, is at no particular superior position to learn brawling than anyone off the street (assuming they aren't incompetent and unable to learn unarmed combat). Similarly, most guns use approximately the same skill. This is handled currently by very gentle defaults between them, but leads to oddities with weapons that do not fall cleanly into a category (Ex, does a glock 18 run on pistol skill when in semi-auto, and SMG in full? What happens if you add a stock, does it still use pistol or is it now rifle?).

Suggestion to fix: My suggestion is to treat them as overall categories with familiarities. One Handed Melee Weapon, Two Handed Melee Weapon, Unarmed, And Guns, or something to that effect. Balanced vs. unbalanced, vastly different lengths, things of that nature would all justify being different familiarities. Now you don't need learn a different skill, or have strange mismatches, when you switch a fire selector, or add a stock, or a grip, or anything else, to guns. Martial arts now default to one another, and even to other melee combat skills, meaning experience makes further learning more readily feasible (sort of clumsily handled using perks to adapt techniques for use with another skill. Skill at unarmed combat translates to both one and two handed swords, for example, albeit with a penalty initially).

Armor/Gear is slightly odd in how it's handled taking damage. Armor in particular. Shields tend to have moderate DR, and enormous pools of HP to soak up incoming damage that penetrates, allowing them to do things like absorb rifle fire but be gradually destroyed in the process. While certain armor is best handled as flat DR with no HP soak, such as thin leather, other armors (ex, kevlar vest) seem to lend themselves to a shield style, providing a bit of DR and a lot of bonus HP to the wearer. DR as written works well enough, and there are optional rules for armor damage elsewhere so this is idle musing on dealing with the problem of a great many hits either doing nothing to armor, or punching through and potentially absolutely ruining the wearer. It adds complexity to track gear HP, which would require a different character/gear sheet that I still need to take a crack at.

I'd like for Basic Set to include stuff for gear of different sizes, partially included in the various Tech books, but expanded on the most in Low Tech Companion 1, at least to a limited extent. It's not really a universal system if you can only find gear for SM 0 yet the options are there to be +/- 1 SM right at the start. I'd also like to see the various Power Ups books updated with stuff from books published later (ex, Gun Fu has a number of realistic perks that are greatly desirable for a trained gunman), and consolidated into a Basic Set book #3, for gritty details.

Similarly, I'd like a book for Making Things. Mostly it would be Low Tech Companion 1 rules, extended forwards to allowing high tech and ultra tech armors and such. 4e used player stats to build robots, but there were no rules for making a robot and pricing it beyond things listed. A Points-to-Money conversion ratio, possibly with modifiers (size, complexity, etc) seems like a pretty decent way to allow you to build anything as stats, and then convert into an approximate market value. While I have some qualms with Spaceships, its rules allow for fairly quick but still in-depth building of a great many things, and I believe could be expanded for general vehicles to some extent.

Speaking of money, money is incredibly powerful. I've heard it repeatedly mentioned that the single most effective superpower is Money and High TL (McThag first raised this problem/loophole/etc to my attention). At any level where you can conceivably buy something with money instead of points, you should ALWAYS do so unless you have a very good reason. Ex, 32 points for the implant 9mm SMG in basic set, vs. 3 (2 for extra arm (weapon mount, -80%) and 1 for Payload so it's not just bolted to the side of your arm) and $500ish bucks, a small fraction of starting wealth at that stage. The idea behind having money completely separate is because of the love for infinite worlds style campaigns, with gunslingers out of time, dimension hoppers blending in, and so on and so forth. This unfortunately doesn't quite work as well as it seems at first glance. For example, past about TL6, nearly everyone without a good reason has access to "Immunity (Polio)", and so on. Accounting for all the vaccines and things adds up to a not insignificant amount of points for free to the average high tech character. At ultra-tech, buying augmentations and implants gets confusing because sometimes they cost money, points, or both depending on when or how you get them.

Proposed fix: This one is actually a fairly simple one for something with so much complexity, and ties into the starting wealth available.  My proposal is that there be a conversion factor between points and money, with points specifically allotted to "wealth" use. Probably based on TL, this would for example make a TL9 SMG purchased with points or money equally balanced, or DR from armor vs. DR from points). To make it fair, a given campaign would come with however many points are assumed to be the baseline TL, with characters starting at TL0 and purchasing up to campaign TL (or having bonus points to justify being equally badass with less from lower TLs). Mutants and Masterminds does something similar, with everything costing points based on effect (for example, Batman/Ironman and Superman/Hulk are both top tier characters, with the same amount of points. In GURPS, Batman/Ironman would probably be 500ish with some wealth and high TL, and Supes/Hulk would just be a bajillionty points because he apparently has approximately infinite ST/DR/HP/Laser eyes/etc). Essentially this would remove the Wealth advantage/disadvantage, and instead turn it into a per-point-invested thing. It also helps with inventing, bodymods/surgery, and so forth, having money interchangeable. Robots are incredibly hard to deal with on sale price for ones outside of the listed examples, but if points and money have an easy conversion factor, it's a lot more doable.

Also needed are just a few rebalances; Magic has some powerful applicability at higher TLs in making/breaking things (glitch and repair are both mighty powerful, used inventively), but it's essentially worthless to use magic for anything directly offensive. Meanwhile the reflect missiles spell is utterly ruinously broken at high TLs as written. Just including a couple of basic bits of magitech in the base book could substantially solve this problem. At TL5, a magic gun/gauntlet/whatever boosts effective magery by however much, adding Charge Powerstone and making it an entry level spell rather than one requiring massive Magery to reach to the base book to make it more readily apparent that a bunch of small cheap powerstones can be used like ammunition to fire off spells, and so on.

Innate Attack also seems to be something in desperate need of some balancing, as implanted weaponry purchased via the advantage instead of Extra Arm (weapon mount)+Payload is vastly more expensive. Adding Strength Based (from GURPS Powers, allows you to have an innate attack include the user's strength similar to Claws) helps somewhat, but it's still expensive. This may be fixed with the above wealth modification.

Fear Checks. GURPS fear checks have always been kind of weird, because they're only for the super bad things, except not. Any failure, because of the second 3d6 roll+degree of failure, leads to generally moderately severe results. The fix, other than minor rebalancing of the table (giving the option of acquiring a quirk OR some minor negative effect, as with changing/removing/optioning away the fear-barf), is actually quite simple.

Suggestion to fix: Degrees of fright check. Creep, Spook, Fright, and Fear. Creep checks just use Degree of Failure on the table, for stuff like empty abandoned houses, eerie stuff, and minor things where only the most cowardly of characters are likely to do more than hesitate. Spook checks are minor fright checks, and you roll 1d6 on the table, plus DoF. This is for things deliberately unnerving or frightening, enough that the GM might want to see who hesitates or reacts, a bit more strongly than a creep check. Fright checks are for jump scares, and actual frightening things, at 2d6+DoF. Fear checks and beyond work as normal, and are for the major scares, at 3d6+DoF or more (Terror checks, or whatever they get named, could be 4d6, or so on, to handle mindbendingly horrific things)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Saturday musing: There's no tanking in D&D

Proof that I'm actually not dead! Had this half done for ages, now it's as done as I care about.

Or, RPGs in general. This post rises from a chat a while ago, and the relative benefits.

To those unfamiliar, the term tank in games is primarily associated with MMOs, and refers to a character with tons of health, armor, or dodge chance who often includes some manner of aggro mechanic to make enemies pay attention to them despite not necessarily being the largest threat.

D&D 4e and 5e add in tank mechanics, allowing such things as granting disadvantage on attacks against other party members, getting free punish attacks if they target anyone else, or such things. Still, the builds that allow such things are often rather specialized, so you MUST build for the tank. You can't have a big generally beefy dude do it, he must use specific weapons and shields and such.

D&D particularly needs such mechanics because every turn allows a full movement and an attack. In theory, attacks of opportunity are supposed to discourage enemies from simply walking around the pointman of the party to conveniently go straight for the squishiest, most not-obviously dangerous party members, but in practice it's darn simple to avoid this, hence why at least some semblance of aggro mechanic options were added.

It got me thinking; What about other systems?

GURPS makes repositioning for attack a lot harder in melee, you have to either spend FP, move and attack as an all-out, or do a wild swing and probably miss. It also features sacrificial parries, and after all out attacks if made to get a proper attack in, the punish that comes after is a massive threat unless the aggressor is very heavily armored. Further, there's rules for blocking enemies from moving past. Defenders can also hold action to get a swing at anyone trying to get past. There's no aggro mechanic in GURPS, but due to the system it's not super necessary.

Shadowrun allows move and attack as well, though they're substantially more restrictive than in D&D. Still, most shadowrun combat happens with boomsticks and cover, rather than melee brawls. Melee fights have the Intercept action, allowing a fighter to prevent someone from moving nearby or pulling back out of melee. Given that the biggest, tankiest people (trolls) have bonus reach in which they can stop people, this makes tanking reasonably doable. There's also a decently large penalty for attacking on the run to try to get around bodyblocking allies.

Deadlands is similar to Shadowrun, but the time period means combat goes to melee a lot more readily. When the highest magazine capacity around save for crazy steampunk portable gatling guns is around 10, they run dry quick vs. hordes of undead and the like. Still, gunfights mean you take cover, and unlike many other systems, Deadlands has extensive rules for staredowns, intimidation, and the like during battle. Running to try to close distance imposes a BIG disadvantage, similar to GURPS and Shadowrun. Other than that, there's not much to stop the badguys from just going around the tanky folks, though.

Savage Worlds, the evolution from the Deadlands system into a simpler, more generically applicable system. In the quickstart, everyone trying to pull back from a melee gets hit by an attack of opportunity, just like D&D. I've currently only got the quickstart rules, but the full book is promised to have a bunch of extra modifiers and special attack types that are no doubt similar to those in Deadlands.