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Classic Traveller Discussion on the granddaddy of them all, Classic Traveller!

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Old May 15th, 2008, 04:55 AM
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Default Rub-a-dub-dub, more realism for your combat tub.

CT uses a somewhat abstract combat system. Just because a successful to-hit roll is made doesn't mean the target was shot. The damage doesn't justify it. Instead, a hit point system is used--one that is not that much different from the hit point used used in d20 games. In fact, CT characters hit in combat will, more often than not, just be rendered unconscious (or damaged less severely) and completely healed in half an hour (requies a Medic) than suffer dire wounds as you would expect a gunshot to be.

People making the 'realism' agrument often cite the SMG in CT. Take a look at its modifiers against an unarmored target at Short or Medium Range. It's an automatic hit (actually, two hits, using the roll-twice autofire rule) and damage. And, this is before the attacker's weapon skill is added to the mix.

Considering that specific weapon alone shows how a hit in CT is not necessarily representative of a gunshot wound. Take a target with average stats of 777777. If not armored, and no unusual DMs apply, the SMG will automatically hit the target, twice because of autofire, if the target is at either Short or medium Range.

The SMG does 3D damage: 3, 1, 2.

The first blood rule is used, and randomly, this damage is removed from STR. Now, our target's stats are 177777.

But, with autofire, the SMG gets two attacks. And, that second attack will also hit automatically because of Range and Armor DMs. So, the SMG does a second set of 3D damage: 5, 5, 1.

Now that the first blood rule has been used, the defender can now take the damage dice at his option for his best defence. He does so, and not the target's stats are: 121777.

So, what happened here? Did this SMG really plow a burst full of bullets into the target because the attacker scored two automatic hits?

Nope. It can't be. Why? The damage doesn't justify it.

As with any hit point system, successful to-hit throws do not necessarily represent successful hits with the weapon. In D&D, when a character lands a successful hit with his two-handed battle axe, doing 6 points of damage, lowering his target's hit points from 20 to 14 points, are we talking about the character being swatted, hard, with a deadly weapon like a two-handed battle axe?

No.

Hit points are an abstract method to keep the game "fun". First off, they allow Player Characters to be hit without always suffering the repercussions of a hit if it was modeled on real life. PCs sustain a lot of damage before succumbing (in Traveller, this means, as with the SMG example above, a PC could withstand a burst of SMG fire and not be damaged as if the character was shot).

Another way that hit points lend themselves to "fun" in an rpg is that they allow the attacker to be successful more often on attack throws. So, attackers can throw attack throws and hit (fun), and defenders can withstand some of that damage and keep on playing (fun).

It would be, really, no fun, if, eveytime an attacker rolled a successful to hit, that the target went down on the ground with a gunshot wound.

Given this, its easy to understand why Marc & Co. made the choices they did with Traveller combat. A character gets "hit" in CT, then most likely he will withstand the blow without any long term effects (as would happen with a gunshot wound).





But...what about CT player who want more realism? What would have to be done to the CT combat system so that it delivers more realistic results?

Really, there are three items that should be addressed, if added realism is the goal.



Item 1 - Harder To-Hit Throws: First off, something would have to be done to make it less likely (a lot less likely) that To-Hit throws are successful. Because, if we're going to be more realistic, then damage must be increased.

Plus, remember the stats on the OK Corral gunfight (which was performed at close quarters). Most of the shots missed (something over 90%), and Wyatt Earp came out of it without a scratch. Modern day police statistics reveal the same type thing occuring with modern handguns. Typically, 90%+ shots fired in a gunfight miss their target.

In CT, this would be extremely easy to adjust using the CT combat system. My suggestion would be to have a blanket Range DM for all weapons--a DM that penalizes a weapon harshly the larger the Range category. I'd start with something like this:

Code:
Close     -2  DM
Short     -4 DM
Medium   -6 DM
Long       -8 DM
You might even want to make the DMs more harsh, because the idea is to create a situation where To-Hit throws fail the wide majority of the time. You'll want To-Hit throws to fail 90%+ of the time, and this is when the weapon is in the hands of a trained professional.

The blanket range DM will, of course, be adjusted by specific weapons using the DMs on the Range chart. This will keep CT's flavor of differentation between weapons. A carbine will still be a better weapon at Short Range than it is at Medium Range. A rifle will be a better weapon choice when targets are at Long Range, etc.

Experiment, and do stat analysis, on your Range Penalty DMs. As I say above, the range DMs should be extremely harsh. And, because of this, you might want to institute a policy where a natural 12 on the attack throw results in damage regardless of the required To-Hit.

The idea is to create situation where there are a lot of To-Hit throws (as many times as the weapon's trigger is pulled), but hits remain rare so that NPCs won't easily incapacitate the PCs. And PCs won't become so powerful that the game is no fun in the face of the munchkins.



Item 2 -- More Damaging Damage: When a hit is successful, it will represent an acutal hit. This means, if the To-Hit was a success for an autopistol attack, then the target is shot. Damage needs to reflect this.

Each hit should have a small chance of grazing the target, a large chance of incapcitating the target, and a small chance of flat out killing the target.

The obvious way to do this is to add more damage dice to weapons (maybe a blanket set of damage for all weapons plus its normal damage).

A weapon doing 2D damage has a good chance of rendering the target unconscious.

A weapon doing 4D damage has a good chance of inflicting a gunshot wound on the victim.

A weapon doing 6D damage has a good chance of flat out killing the target.

So, on top of the Range DM that makes To-Hit throws very hard to make, some amount of damage must be added to weapons so that successful to-hit throws result in gunshot wounds, typically (damage likely to render two stats at zero--which would be serious damage--a gunshot wound).



Item 3 - Don't forget "fun": We can make the CT combat system extremely realistic, but we need to be mindful that the "fun" isn't sucked out of the game.

By making combat more realistic, we're also making a situation where players will not wan to engage in combat. And, let's fact it, combat, is fun.

Plus, a PC who is shot will suffer the effects of a real life gunshot victim. This may mean the player playing the character may need to roll up a new character or just be prepared to have his character out of commission for a long while.



I'll put this up for discussion now, but that's my recommendation on making CT more "realistic".

1. Impose harsh Range penalties that makes it hard to hit.

2. Increase damage done by weapons so that successful hits result in significant damage

3. Never lose sight of the fact that this is a role playing game, and as a game, it should be fun to play. Too much realism can bog a game down.
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