making deadly weapons fun

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
steve98052
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making deadly weapons fun

Postby steve98052 » Wed Jun 27, 2018 6:45 pm

A lot of powerful weapons have the property that they have only two reasonably probable combat results:
  • They miss,
    or
  • You're dead, a messy corpse, scattered body parts, pink mist, burnt remains, a cloud of vaporized atoms, etc.
Those two possible results aren't much fun. But with the exception of some story games, there aren't a lot of other ways to resolve combat with big weapons.

In the process of writing this quoted text (part of a comment in a really old discussion of an edition of Prime Directive), I came up with a possible solution.
steve98052 wrote:
Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:49 pm
. . .
About the best way I can think of to model phaser combat is to give each character a number of "miss points". When someone shoots a phaser, they roll to hit. If the dice say hit, the player can say, "I spend a miss point", and the phaser misses.

If the player chooses not to spend a miss point, the game master reveals whether the phaser was set to stun, kill, or disintegrate. If it's set to stun, the character falls unconscious. If kill or disintegrate, the player gets another chance to spend the miss point unless the character is a red-shirt.

Such a solution isn't very true to GURPS, except for the general rule in all role-playing games that any rule can be overridden for the sake of fun. But it's a lot like the way a lot of modern story games work.
. . .
A character's allocation of miss points is something to tune to the style of game one wants. Enemy hordes don't get miss points, minor enemy henchmen get a few, and major enemies gets as many as a player character.

Miss points are restored at the end of a scene, and partially restored between minor scenes. Player characters get bonus miss points if they do something because it's in character but not necessarily a good idea, like a barbarian charging with his broadsword into single combat against the enemy in combat armor.

If a weapon has an area effect, miss points may turn a lethal hit into a harmful result. For example, applying one to a heavy artillery shell avoids being blown to bits, but you might still take a shrapnel hit, or concussion damage. A plasma rifle doesn't vaporize your torso, but you might take some damage from the heat radiated from the wall behind you (and you better get out of the building before it collapses). A land mine might detonate a moment late, cracking your armor instead of blowing off a leg. A trebuchet might not squash you, but the radioisotope thermal generator in your unlimited range all-terrain vehicle is leaking radiation. And so forth.

The point of miss points isn't to give a free pass until they're used up, it's to turn lethal into dramatic.
Condottiere
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Condottiere » Wed Jun 27, 2018 9:33 pm

Meson Gun: Schrodinger's Catapult.

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Darkmoon
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Darkmoon » Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:52 am

Good points all, I would just worry that it would make players think that combat is something that can breeze into just because they have some of these points left over. Take away the total deadliness and silly ideas like "a charge across the minefield into the heavy guns, at noon" might start to sneak in.

Keeping it deadly is the ultimate in bad decision penalties for Travellers.

(I do however like the idea and can see how some groups would make it work in a sensible way)
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:50 am

Make more use of Effects during task checks.

Use minions.
Reynard
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Reynard » Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:13 am

Players want the baddest weapons and armor. When the other side also has comparable equipment and gets the armor ripping, pink spray result, suddenly the game is too deadly. Fun deadly weapons are Star Wars.
Linwood
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Linwood » Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:35 am

Maybe allow a player to use a “miss point” to assign a Bane to the attack? The decision would have to be made prior to the attack itself and wouldn’t automatically save their butt(s).

But I’d rather the player take a real action (minor?) that gives them a dramatic chance - diving for cover, throwing something in the way, etc.
steve98052
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby steve98052 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 4:54 am

One way that miss points can be used to encourage engagement with the setting would be to require that a player narrate an interesting escape from disaster to use a miss point.

"I tripped and fell into a ditch just before the artillery shell would have blown me to pieces." Good.

"I spend a miss point." Not good.
Sigtrygg
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Sigtrygg » Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:40 am

What you are proposing is:
vs mooks PCs can't be hit and can mow down masses
vs minor NPCs just cut to the round where the NPC runs out of meta game currency while the player has some to spend and thus gets an autowin
vs major NPCs just cut to the round where both sides run out of meta game currency and see who gets lucky - oh wait suddenly the PCS can do some narative role play, earn some extra points and autowin.

No thanks.
If a PC gets into a fight they run a risk, no mooks, no minor/major NPCs just skill and experience vs skill and experience - and luck.

If you like your games to be a party of invincible combat moster gun bunnies mowing down all oposition then there is nothing wrong with that, it can be fun. I very rarely run any game that way.
Last edited by Sigtrygg on Sat Jun 30, 2018 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Condottiere
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Condottiere » Sat Jun 30, 2018 11:13 am

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steve98052
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby steve98052 » Sat Jun 30, 2018 7:41 pm

Sigtrygg wrote:
Sat Jun 30, 2018 6:40 am
What you are proposing is:
. . .
If you like your games to be a party of invincible combat moster gun bunnies mowing down all oposition then there is nothing wrong with that, it can be fun. I very rarely run any game that way.
. . .
That's a potential adverse outcome of that sort of rule. But that's not at all my intent.

My idea is to find a way to allow player characters to survive situations like a mercenary battle where a real leader might escape sudden death through battlefield instincts, and fictional leaders would survive because the story needs them to survive.

But in general, I want the occasional dangerous situation that player characters get into through a player blunder that their characters would not make -- not a dangerous situation they get into through hubris induced by exploitable rules.
Sigtrygg
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Sigtrygg » Sun Jul 01, 2018 6:51 am

If the players know their characters will survive because you need them to tell the story why bother with dice rolls at all?

If a group of PCs sign up to a merc unit they should be aware of the risk of character death.

I would do it one of two ways - just narrate the battle and move on, assigning whatever wounds and penalties I make up

or roll on a table like this for every battle, you can make up boon/bane and other DMs as you see fit

2-4 dead

5-9 wounded - wound severity roll 2-4 serious, 5-9 light, 10-12 minor

10-12 uninjured
Condottiere
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Re: making deadly weapons fun

Postby Condottiere » Sun Jul 01, 2018 1:39 pm

This is moving into the heroic campaign.

For large battles, you could easily use look out sir! to have someone jump in front of you, or on the grenade.

But if you want to alter fate if that bullet has been named for you, than you probably have to adopt karma points.

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