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  #1  
Old May 15th, 2008, 03:55 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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Old May 15th, 2008, 08:48 AM
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Agree with your premise. I seem to remember that 90% thing in other contexts too.

I think there was some study years ago when the current generation of assault rifles were being designed, that showed that very few shots were aimed, and it was the volume of fire that would determine outcomes. Hence the emergence of smaller calibres.

What about hit locations and so forth? Too much detail?
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Old May 15th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Thunderbolt View Post
Agree with your premise. I seem to remember that 90% thing in other contexts too.
The risk that is run (and why the hit point system lends itself well to role playing) is that the game is "no fun". The grand majority of the time, dice are thrown...and yet again, no friggin' hit. Some players may feel, "Why bother?"

A mechanic such as "Natural box cars on a throw equals automatic hit regardless of target number" might be helpful, too. The Range penalties should be so tough (to get that ratio of hits down to less than 10% when a to-hit throw is made) that some weapons may end up having target numbers raise from the standard 8+ to a number that is above 12+. In this situation, the attacker would still have a hope of hitting--he'd do it only on a natural roll of 12.

Since a "12" occurs only 2.7% of the time on a 2D throw, that's well within our target range of success.

Or, a natural roll of 12 could represent more extreme damage (maybe it indicates that the first blood rule is used).

Quote:
What about hit locations and so forth? Too much detail?
I don't see why not. There are a couple of simple systems for indicating hit location.

The trick would be to integrate this into the attack roll, so that another hit location roll is not necessary. I've got some ideas on that too.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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I recall reading in a book on the American Civil War that it had been calculated that on average, a man's weight in powder and shot had to be expended for each soldier hit on the battlefield. Now we all accept that accuracy was less with lower tech weapons, but it still correlates to your point about 8+ (41% hit rate) being unrealistically high.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 12:00 PM
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The difficulty with specific hit locations on the body is that it requires an additional mechanic to represent the severity of injury to certain vital parts of the body. An example of this sort of thing badly done was the first edition of Mechwarrior for the BattleTech universe. The character had hit point values for each of several body parts but no overall health score. It was therefore possible to have one's right arm blown off (all hit points gone) with no penalties to the character's continued action, or mention of unconciousness or bleeding to death. A case of not enough realism and a badly handled mechanic.
Instead of more rules, what about a chart of descriptive wound effects that can become a factor in role-playing? Like a PC getting a leg wound that leaves them unable to walk or temporary blindness from a head shot, deafness from a concussion wave? That gives the referee additional on-the-spot challenges to add to the adventure.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 01:50 PM
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If the chances of hitting are going to be much lower, the extra hit location and damage assessment (with the usual multipliers for sensitive locations) tasks are probably acceptable, since they are now much rarer events.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 05:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Weaver View Post
The difficulty with specific hit locations on the body is that it requires an additional mechanic to represent the severity of injury to certain vital parts of the body.
A separate mechanic is not necessarily needed. Hit location can be determined by the To-Hit roll without requiring an additional throw. For example, one of the 2D could be considered a "hit location die" for 6 random hit locations. Other methods could be used, too. Like using the "ones" digit of the To-Hit throw sum, with the higher numbers being vulnerabale hit location areas (so higher To-Hit throws correlate to more damaging damage).

Plus, severity of injury, as you mention above, could be determined by the damage throw--as it is already done in CT. (RE: A hit that doesn't result in damage equivalent to a gunshot wound is obviously not a "real" hit.)





I should note, because I didn't mention it in the OP, that we should also have a goal of minimal changes to the official Classic Traveller mechanics. Any change made should be the choice that affects CT rules the least.

So, one could bring in other game systems, of course, but that's not what we're going for. We're trying to make CT more realistic, and, thus, we need stick with the CT methodology. Minimal changes to achieve the desired result.

This is why I suggested a penalty DM added to Range to lower the success chance of to-hit throws. The Range table will still be used (each weapon having different Range characteristics), so my idea was to implement a blanket Range DM that is added to those DMs on the Range Table. Minimal change.

We need to do the same thing when looking at increasing damage. We've got to increase damage so that it's likely that a successful hit will knock out two of a target's physical stats (an average of 4D).

At first, I thought I'd suggest a blanket addition to damage, as I did with Range--something like a +1D to the listed damage for the weapon.

That would work.

But, a better thought might be to tie some damage into the character's skill--the thinking being that a more skilled shot will hit more vulnerable areas more often than a non-skilled character. So, damage is more.

Skill level could be added to damage on a successful hit: For example, the AutoPistol in the hands of a character with Pistol-2 expertise would do 3D+2 damage.

Another idea would be to add skill level to each damage die. So the Pistol-2 character would do 3D +6 damage with his AutoPistol when he hits.

Remember, we're trying to make damage very deadly. There needs to be a small chance of a graze, a very likely chance of a gunshot wound, and a small chance of an outright kill (all three stats at zero).

Yet, a more deadly idea would be to add damage dice for each level of skill. This might be too deadly, especially with the Skill-3+ characters killing almost every time they hit.







Let's take that last idea one step further. When damage is rolled, a number of dice is throw equal to the base damage of the weapon plus one die per skill level.

So, a Pistol-2 character would do 5D damage when hitting with his AutoPistol.

The catch here, though, is that the weapon cannot do more damage than its listed base damage. If we throw 5D damage for the AutoPistol, we'd pick the best (highest) 3D from the five dice we threw.

I'll give you an example:

Character has Pistol-2. AutoPistol does 3D damage.

A hit is achieved, so the damage is throw. Damage is the base 3D for the weapon plus 2D for the character's skill. That's 5D.

Attacker throws 5D, taking the highest 3D from the throw: 5, 6, 1, 1, 3.

So, the damage from the weapon is 14 points. We took the 5, 6, and 3 dies as damage.

I think this is a pretty good little damage idea.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 05:45 PM
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Quote:
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Instead of more rules, what about a chart of descriptive wound effects that can become a factor in role-playing?
That's not a bad idea, either. It definitely has some merit and should probably be explored.
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Old May 15th, 2008, 11:50 PM
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S4: a less "drastic" solution than the simple "Nat-12 always hits" is "If all dice show 6's and you still haven't hit, roll and add another die" open-ending.

Which lowers the chances, keeps the penalties valid, but also provides a slim chance. (note that it also creates a flat-spot at 12 and 13 of success.)
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Old May 16th, 2008, 01:15 AM
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S4: a less "drastic" solution than the simple "Nat-12 always hits" is "If all dice show 6's and you still haven't hit, roll and add another die" open-ending.

Which lowers the chances, keeps the penalties valid, but also provides a slim chance. (note that it also creates a flat-spot at 12 and 13 of success.)
Yes, a very valid, very good idea as well.
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