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wimpy Vehicle Combat?

Hi all

I just got my T20 book from ebay, and spent that last few days reading up all the rules. Most of them are great (And some that arent can be easily fixed)

But I have a problem with vehicle combat. Damage and armour, to be specific. (Note that im talking about vehicles, not starships). Battles between them seem to take forever, unless on crits, in whcih case its pretty much over.

Example: Take the two grav tanks with armour 12 and medium fusion guns (6D20 damage). They do slightly more then D20-7 damage (a bit higher because of the way armor works). This works for personel combat, where stanima damage isnt effected by armor, and lifeblood is 8-18 points. But tanks have SI 70-100, no stanima, and therefore it takes 10-20 rounds of direct hits to disable a vehicle. Except on a critical, of course. I feel this is fairly un-realistic and makes vehicle combat pretty boring. In RL, a shot bounces off or penetrates and does internal damage.

Does anyone else see this problem? I was thinking of making even a single point of SI damage force internal damage like in starship combat, but that might be fiddly.

Possibly because a medium Fusion weapon isn't that scary against tanks?

A dedicated tank destroyer at TL12 or so isn't a fusion weapon, its many multiple missile/rocket launchers with AP.

Heavy MRL 6d8, Can fire in clusters up to 100 (+10 dice) and be AP6. This does 16d8 dropping the 6 low dice. This is ~60 SI per system, where you can have 6 in the same space as the fusion weapon you were using.

Now the fusion weapon does have many advantages, its awesome against light/medium vehicles, unarmored spacecraft, heavy infantry, it doesn't need extremely expensive and fiddly ammo. But it ain't a tank killing weapon. You need the AP for that.

The modern equivalent would be something like a 60mm cannon. A good weapon, but not something to take on an MBT with.
Quick question:

The book (and you in your post) talk about SI per system, but I cant find the ruled for the SI values for individual systems, just the ones that say if a system is hit AT ALL its destroyed.

Actually, reading that description, fusion guns arent that bad, since they always force an internal damage check, along with MRLs and MDCs (which are better because of AP ammo).

Am I reading the rules correctly here?
Agree that AP ammo is the way to go with T20 rules. However, this doesn't have much of a "Trav" feel to it. In all previous versions of Trav a high power fusion gun is the ultimate vehicle weapon once you reach approx TL 12. All of the canon for Imperial grav tanks etc use fusion guns.

Even in T20: Against Gravity, all the high tech grav tanks use fusion guns. Having TL14 tanks using Mass Drivers or MRLs just seems wrong. They should be the weapon of choice at TL9-11 or so, but not at 12+.

What is the answer? Maybe give plasma and fusion guns an AP rating? As it stands, in "Against Gravity" a TL15 "Heavy MBT" (9d20 damage) versus a TL10 "Light Tank" (AR:10, SI:54) typically takes 4-6 hits in order to knock it out unless you get a lucky crit.

This just seems wrong. IMHO, a TL15 heavy tank ought to be able to pretty much guarantee to take out a TL10 light tank with a single shot. And it should be able to use a fusion gun to do it. Meanwhile the TL10 tank should pose very little threat to the TL15 one...
It's your universe.

Thinking on it, an automatic AP rating does feel a little better.I was thinking TL related, in that case it would be 5,6 or 7.

TL8 tank (Abrams equivalent) with AR 8, with heavy artillery cannon (8d12) loaded with AP4 rounds.


TL14 MBT AR14 Heavy Fusion (9d20) (AP7?)

The Abrams does 9 SI /shot against the TL14 tank

The TL14 tank does 90 SI/shot against the abrams

The Abrams does 38 SI/Shot on itself

The TL14 tank does 36 SI/Shot on itself

Without AP the TL14 tanks does 18 SI on the Abrams, and 13 SI on itself.

90 SI is a 75,000 vl vehicle.

All this is ignoring criticals. If fusion guns critical even a tiny bit more often, they shouldn't need any AP.

That's odd. What is the crit range of fusion weapons? If it's inline with personal scale weapons it should be 18, if it matches starships it should be 18 for plasma and 16 for fusion. This is what I thought evened up the weapon.
The Ap per Tl is a good idea for energy weapons in general, not just plasma and fusion. Right now, I don't know why anyone would buy a vehicle laser for anything but range.

Does anyone use AP in starship combat? I limited armour for smaller ships (1/4, 1/2, 3/4 and full) because small military gunships like the SDB couldt hurt eachother except on a crit.
Unlimited ammo aboard (as long as the power is there) and zero supply chain worries are the biggest advantage of energy weapons over kinetic.

I'd be very careful of unintended consequences in "fixing" the weapons through an AP rating for energy weapons. On the face of it I like the idea, more as in "conventional armor is not (as) effective against energy beams" like the old CT personal laser vs personal armor vs reflec. Just note that it should also apply to the larger energy weaposn too which is going to change ship combat. So by all means add an AP rating to model it, or simply say that (standard) armor is ignored for energy weapons, but don't forget to then allow anti-beam defenses like reflec and prismatic smoke and such.

Another possibility with the T20 rules for ROF bonuses is to allow energy weapons to adjust their ROF up as long as the energy is there to do it. Personally I don't care for the rule that lets you do it by running the powerplant hotter and prefer that the power level is there to do it. There should be some limit where the gun begins to overheat and melt though, perhaps as a check.
I suppose the easy thing to do would be just to pay more for an DEW with a integral AP rating. But how much to charge? You cant pay by the ammo box
'Unlimited ammo' is not quite right. The vehicle's powerplant needs fuel in order to function. The powerplant already powers the drive train in order to get the thing to move anyway. There are no doubt other systems (such as sensors, comms, and computers) that would draw power albeit minutely. Energy weapons have limited ammo because the power plant fuel is their ammo. The difference being if you run out of bullets you have to withdraw but if you run out of power to fire your plasma guns your drive train has also run out of power and you're stuck wherever you are.

Although that scenario may not be entirely likely. But this whole 'energy weapons' have unlimited ammo and the further argument, that they have zero supply chain worries is not really correct. It could be that energy weapons make the logistics supply issue less worrisome, but I can't see them eliminating it entirely.
But how much to charge?
IMTU melee weapons and energy weapons can have AP. Multiply the cost as you would ammo, but for the entire weapon.

IE an AP7 laser would cost 70 times more then a standard laser. Ditto for a sabre, a high quality diamond edged vibro blade is expensive, but quite good for going through armor.

Personally I think a better fix is changing the critical range for vehicle class fusion weapons to 17 or 18 instead. This brings them more in line with personel and starship fusion weapons, and means that you don't have the conundrum that a personel scale fusion gun is more effective against vehicles then the same weapon 50 times larger.
But doesnt that really make tank combat "shoot at each other until someone crits", since every hit is down only a handful of SI. For ship combat larger then smallcraft, it makes sense, sort of. But modern tank combat is very one hit one kill with equivilent weaponry. Or a mission kill, same thing.

I like the energy weapon AP thing, but at the same time, I dont know if I want it in ship combat, since I've limited ship armour already.

I'll probably say that DEWs have 1/2 TL AP, or something like that, and increase criticals. Granted, this makes vehicle combat more dangerous, but I dont plan on my players running around in battle tanks.
Starships wont use AP except for KK missiles.
But modern tank combat is very one hit one kill with equivilent weaponry. Or a mission kill, same thing.
It is?

You might want to look up some of the combat statistics for modern tank combat.

Abrams vs T55 (ala Gulf War 1) was very much one shot one kill. But that is a AP4 (DU saboted dart) TL8 cannon against a medium armored TL6 tank. Hardly equivalent.

There are reports that an Abrams has a hard time scuttling another Abrams in the feild. Close range, armor piercing rounds, non-moving target, and the shells were bouncing off (well, not quite bouncing off, just doing a lot less damage then needed).

Medium and light tanks with full sized weapons does end up with a rapid kills in the feild, but you would expect that.

We haven't seen equivalent modern tanks go hell for leather in the feild. The outcome of Abrams vs Leopard2, or Type99 vs T-90 would be interesting to watch.
In the front, yes, an M1A2 can survive a 120mm APFSDS hit. But the sides and rear can and were penetrated by both friendly hellfire missiles (blue on blue) and T-72 KK rounds. Not penetrated enough to kill the crew, but enough for a mission kill.

Now, in T20, there IS no side armor, no acounting for penetrations and glancing hits, external damage...its not a tactical wargame. So, IMO, I might as well make armoured combat more lethal. Besides. It looks cooler to have tanks blowing up everywhere rather then hearing "Bang!" "plink", "Bang" "plink" resonate around the field as SI is slowly chipped away.
It looks cooler to have tanks blowing up everywhere
Sure. In that case just save on weight and don't have any armor. Rely on vehicle scaling to protect from small arms.

This also makes your opponenets AP useless. You can have a lot of lightly/unarmoured vehicles compared to a couple of tanks mounting (expensive!) AP weapons.

At that point however, you've given up on some small ammount of realism in favour of a more cinematic feel. Not always a bad thing depending on the story you are telling.
If there's one thing I dislike about Vehicle Combat, is that from the list of weapons we're given, there aren't that many which might be classed as man-portable anti-vehicle weapons. In order for there to be, you'd have to do more than 5 dice of damage (to account for the upscaling), and then do enough damage that the armour's DR doesn't wittle down anything that's left.

The problem is the vehicle combat rules don't seem to make a distinction between armoured vehicles (armoured fighting vehicles no less) and any vehicle. In real life, a ground car turns into swiss cheese through concentrated fire from some handweapons, the myth of hiding behind a car door to take cover being dispelled by Jamie and Adam. This is obviously because TL6-8 ground cars would be made up of lightweight material that no doubt keeps cost down. But according to Traveller, the first five dice are thrown out regardless, so what happens if you have an autopistol and you're shooting at someone in another groundcar (whether pursuing or being pursued?), I mean ⌧ all. Your bullet doesn't even hit. If it does hit, it can't do any damage.

Take a M1A1 tank, would it's thick hide be penetrated by a handgun? Hell no. Could it be hurt by a MANPAD or whatever the bloody military acronym is - a bazooka, or rocket fired by some guy?
Extract from Janes Defense Weekly
"Details of the M1 losses were given, including one where 25mm armour-piercing depleted uranium (AP-DU) rounds from an unidentified weapon disabled a US tank near Najaf after penetrating the engine compartment. Another Abrams was disabled near Karbala after a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) penetrated the rear engine compartment and one was lost in Baghdad after its external auxiliary power unit was set on fire by medium-calibre fire."
RPG'sand other manpats are capable of knocking out tanks.
The only MANPAD in the book is the RAM launcher firing HEAP rounds. Except that with scaling, a HEAP round does D6-2 damage, and even with AP 5, wont even scratch an MBT past TL 9.