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Old March 22nd, 2014, 02:49 PM
MongooseMatt MongooseMatt is offline
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Default To SMG or Not - Comments Needed

Right from the start of this edition of Traveller, there have been calls to bring back the SMG category of weapons from Classic Traveller. Right now, they are in there, but are being lumped under Gun Combat (slug rifles). We know some people are not happy with this and, with Mercenary second edition being written, we have an opportunity to revisit it.

So, I am willing to be convinced. A few things to consider first though...

1. I know nothing about guns and, frankly, cannot stand the things anyway (in Real Life, that is).

2. My closest experience to guns (and this will cause some mirth, I am sure) is with Airsoft. From what I have seen, from what are effectively toy guns, I am seeing a lot of crossover (in use and skill) between SMGs and assault rifles.

3. I am not entirely certain that shotguns deserve their own Gun Combat skill. But that is another argument for another edition.

4. I find the term SMG somewhat limiting and _if_ a new skill division for Gun Combat was introduced, I think it would have to have another name anyway. After all, if SMGs have a useful function in the far future, a laser-based equivalent would quickly follow.

5. And, on that note, I am not sure I am convinced Gun Combat needs splitting between energy and slug. In a high technology society, might it not be assumed that if you can shoot with an assault rifle, you will be just as capable with a laser rifle?

Anyway, I am looking for people to tell me why any of those assumptions above are flat wrong. Or, indeed, if any of them are right.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 02:59 PM
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While I'm not a gun expert, slug guns have a kick while laser rifles don't.

From watching military channel on tv, now called American Heroes Channel (AHCH), some advances have been made in dealing with slug thrower recoil.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 03:03 PM
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While I'm not a gun expert, slug guns have a kick while laser rifles don't.
Not saying there are not differences - but if we are already lumping bolt action and assault rifles together, are those differences enough to justify another skill?
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 03:06 PM
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5. And, on that note, I am not sure I am convinced Gun Combat needs splitting between energy and slug. In a high technology society, might it not be assumed that if you can shoot with an assault rifle, you will be just as capable with a laser rifle?
My knowledge is about the same as yours except my Traveller knowledge is limited to T20.. My 2 cents:

A slug weapon produces some kick back and the slug follows an arc shaped trajectory. A laser would produce no kick back and shoots in a straight line. As for fusion/plasma weapons, I don't know. Gauss weapons, little to no kick back and an arc trajectory. So .... I would split the weapons into categories and allow training in one category to be used to fire another category of weapons with a negative DM (maybe -2?).

As for SMG, it seems like it and shotguns are weapons that you point in a general area, you don't line them up with your eyes and fire. Where as other weapons, pistols, assault guns, rifles, you can take careful aim before firing.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 03:20 PM
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Originally Posted by MongooseMatt View Post
5. And, on that note, I am not sure I am convinced Gun Combat needs splitting between energy and slug. In a high technology society, might it not be assumed that if you can shoot with an assault rifle, you will be just as capable with a laser rifle?
I think that the added SF ambience of having beam weapons be different from slug-throwers is worth it. Apart from that, I've never considered the possibility that the two skills weren't different, but I'm not really qualified to provide any sort of actual evidence for that (is anyone?).


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Old March 22nd, 2014, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by MongooseMatt View Post
3. I am not entirely certain that shotguns deserve their own Gun Combat skill. But that is another argument for another edition.
The difference with a shotgun is that you are usually firing shot rather than a slug. Shot spreads out after leaving the muzzle. If shotguns have a separate skill its there to reflect the understanding and skill of aiming and operating the shotgun to deliver the maximum weight of shot on the target. there's also the fact that shotguns are generally breech loaders or more usually for combat pump-action although automatic shotguns are currently making an appearance in the military. Loading and firing breech loaders and pump-action is quite different from a bolt action or automatic weapon.

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4. I find the term SMG somewhat limiting and _if_ a new skill division for Gun Combat was introduced, I think it would have to have another name anyway. After all, if SMGs have a useful function in the far future, a laser-based equivalent would quickly follow.
The SMG is usually short barreled, high rate of fire weapon, firing a pistol caliber ammunition. Over the past twenty years or so the niche occupied by the SMG has been invaded and spread to cover PDWs and a new range of carbines. [Edit] Between pistols and rifles there is a whole fuzzy universe of weapons each meant to fill a particular niche.

If SMGs have a useful function... ask what is that function. Who are you fighting in what environment and how far away. Do you need to drop them quickly and are they wearing any armour? One of the many reasons for using a SMG is its high rate of fire can keep an opponent's head down.

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5. And, on that note, I am not sure I am convinced Gun Combat needs splitting between energy and slug. In a high technology society, might it not be assumed that if you can shoot with an assault rifle, you will be just as capable with a laser rifle?
Shooting something with a bullet that follows a ballistic arc and that is affected by gravity, wind and lots of other stuff is very different to hitting something with a beam of coherent radiation. Don't get me wrong they have are lots of things in common but just as many unique details to take into account. Does gun combat include the ability to maintain and service your weapon?
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 04:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MongooseMatt View Post
Right from the start of this edition of Traveller, there have been calls to bring back the SMG category of weapons from Classic Traveller. Right now, they are in there, but are being lumped under Gun Combat (slug rifles). We know some people are not happy with this and, with Mercenary second edition being written, we have an opportunity to revisit it.

So, I am willing to be convinced. A few things to consider first though...

1. I know nothing about guns and, frankly, cannot stand the things anyway (in Real Life, that is).

2. My closest experience to guns (and this will cause some mirth, I am sure) is with Airsoft. From what I have seen, from what are effectively toy guns, I am seeing a lot of crossover (in use and skill) between SMGs and assault rifles.
Whatever differences we have, and at the moment there are a few, if your going to do this I'd rather you got it right. My comments following are in the vien of helping get it right.

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Originally Posted by MongooseMatt View Post
3. I am not entirely certain that shotguns deserve their own Gun Combat skill. But that is another argument for another edition.
Shotguns have a very high recoil. Much lower penetration at any real distance. With shot, many more hits all at once. For typical role-play game guns, short barrels, resulting in a spread of shot and lower velocity. At long range it may not even penetrate clothing. Shotguns can fire many different loads including HE, flechette and can easily use rifle grenades with the right "blank" shell!

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4. I find the term SMG somewhat limiting and _if_ a new skill division for Gun Combat was introduced, I think it would have to have another name anyway. After all, if SMGs have a useful function in the far future, a laser-based equivalent would quickly follow.
Try the older designation of "Machine Pistol". Barrels are short, much shorter than even a carbine, and all to often actually pistol length. Recoil is high and rapid resulting in "Barrel Climb". Accuracy is traditionally low over 50 meters, if that. It's a close range weapon for close quarters work. Clearing houses/buildings and trench warfare with uses in thick woods or foliage.

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Originally Posted by MongooseMatt View Post
5. And, on that note, I am not sure I am convinced Gun Combat needs splitting between energy and slug. In a high technology society, might it not be assumed that if you can shoot with an assault rifle, you will be just as capable with a laser rifle?
Aiming, would be the same for either in RANGE shooting. The sights would be adjusted for said range and the sight picture would be the same. However, target ranges aren't combat.

Recoil verses no recoil. Need to "lead" a moving target with a ballistic slug throwing weapon and not with a combat laser. Ballistic arching is engrained into the slug weapon trained soldier. Firing downhill accurately is hard even for trained troops with a slug weapon.

In combat the sight picture for a slug weapon needs experienced "eyeball" adjustment. The laser would not as, for all intents and purposes, it's instantaneous from trigger pull to hit. The slug weapon is not and is worse the longer the range, as is bullet drop.

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Anyway, I am looking for people to tell me why any of those assumptions above are flat wrong. Or, indeed, if any of them are right.
Might I strongly suggest you consult an expert before going to print with the opinions of just board members? Most will have given good advise but better to get it affirmed.

You've admitted your not an expert (admirable of you), and no one here is allowed to be.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 04:18 PM
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Laser weapons being direct sight would make aiming dramatically different. If you aim a laser like a slug rifle, you will shoot over the head of the target. On the other hand, a beam weapon might need to stay aimed at the target for some period of time. Unlike a slug rifle that sets the trajectory the instant a bullet is fired, a laser may require the ability to hold the beam on target for a short time - perhaps a skill similar to firing a flintlock rifle where the delay from the flash in the pan to the ignition of the chamber requires a very steady aim. Along the same lines, firing a laser anywhere might be very similar to firing a slug thrower in zero-G ... no gravity again means no arc which means aim at what you want to hit with no adjustment for drop.

So I see the need for two functional sets of aiming skills ... 1. Adjust for range and drop or 2. hold steady line of sight.

If the weapon skill includes maintenance and repair of the weapon, then there is also a need to split the weapons by basic technology ... maintaining a laser is very different than maintaining a slug thrower and both are different than maintaining a gauss weapon.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 05:05 PM
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I've gotten to fire a rather wide variety of weapons - no lasers, but I've fired 20 different models of pistol; one machine pistol (in .22LR); one SMG (Uzi); two dozen different rifles including 2 battle rifles (M1 and SKS), 3 assault rifles (M16, AK47, and a demilled HK bullpup); 4 shotguns (including an Atchison full auto); and a couple machineguns (M60)...

Pistols use physically different postures for effective aimed fire than rifles.
SMG's use a physically different posture than either, because a proper rifle technique won't fit, and pistol technique isn't terribly effective; the use of fire "from the hip" is a whole different kind of fire, and certainly justifies a different skill.

Shotguns use different techniques as well, because of the recoil, the lack of rifling, the use of shot rather than slug.

Firing the Atchison was unpleasant - it didn't knock me over - but it did physically rotate me. My prior experience with shotguns and rifles was of limited use. Single shot, it would have been much like the Mosberg, but rocking and rolling, it was unlike the

SMG and shorter Assault Rifles, especially bullpuped ones, have a lot more commonalities to each other than to battle rifles and hunting rifles, let alone the really big rifles. The short grip, propensity for fire from the "hip", use of burst fire... all point to a third skill.

Shotguns with stocks fire much as any rifle, except for the ballistics. Shotguns without stocks, however, are a unique set of challenges. (Soaking up a 4" magnum entirely through the arm can be painful if one doesn't know how.)

Firing a bolt action is a little different from firing a semi-auto or autofire rifle - but not such as affects your chances to hit. Only in as much as it affects your volume of fire.

Really, it should be 5 discrete firearms skills:
Pistol
SMG & shorter Assault rifles
Long Rifles
Support Weapons (tripod/pintle MG's)
Shotguns

TL4-5 muzzle loaders probably should be separate skills, as well, for pisol and rifle. I qualed expert on the M16 first try in basic. (I came away with unspent rounds - I hit two targets with one shot twice using the late 80's pop-target range qual at Dix.) But I couldn't hit a haybale reliably at 50m with a blackpowder rifled musket. (I couldn't get the loading even, so my ballistics were funky).
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post

Really, it should be 5 discrete firearms skills:
Pistol
SMG & shorter Assault rifles
Long Rifles
Support Weapons (tripod/pintle MG's)
Shotguns

TL4-5 muzzle loaders probably should be separate skills, as well, for pisol and rifle.

Perhaps "Shorter Assault Rifle" in the third entry above should be called either "Carbine" or "PDW" (Personal Defense Weapon) or "Bullpup" explicitly.
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