Vehicle Critical Hits 2022 Update

Bense

Mongoose
I noticed a few significant changes in the vehicle combat rules. The biggest change is that the severity of Critical Hits is now dependent on the Effect of the attack roll rather than the damage of the attack. Originally more damaging weapons caused more severe hits. Now it's the attacker's skill and luck that determines how severe the critical hit is. The Light Weapons and Large Vehicles rules also can make for big differences in the results.

An Example: A Traveller with an auto pistol is attacking a parked TL8 ground car holding four crooks (Average Combatants, 8 Strength, 7 in all of their other characteristics, and level 1 skill in each of Drive, Gun Combat, and Melee) who are staking out an apartment the Traveller is trying to protect. He is trying to disable the car so that the local police who he's already alerted can come catch the crooks before they can get away. The Traveller's a pretty good shot, with DEX 9, for a +1, Gun Combat (Slug) 2 for another +2, and he has a laser sight mounted on the pistol, for another +1 on any attack within 50 meters if he aims first. The auto pistol does 3D-3 damage.

He uses the first round to close to 10m from the left side of the car (the auto pistol's effective range), readies his weapon, and aims at the car (three minor actions). The crooks are focused on the apartment and don't notice him yet, so they don't act on their action. In the next round he takes another minor action to aim and then fires (a significant action). His base target is 8+ (Average) and the modifiers to his attack roll are +1 for DEX, +2 for Gun Combat (Slug) 2, +1 for using a laser sight, and +2 for two actions spent aiming, a total of +6 under the original rules. Under the revised rules the Large Vehicles rule gives him an additional +1 to hit the car (+1 DM for being a vehicle. The Shipping score of 3 tons does not add any further modifier) for a total bonus of +7.
In both examples he gets very lucky and rolls a 12 on the dice for his attack roll.

Under original rules: A 12 on the dice gives him a modified roll of 18 against a target of 8 for an Effect of 10. This is more than 6, so he has scored a critical hit, if his weapon does enough damage to get through the car's armor. He rolls damage and rolls very poorly, a 4 on the dice. That gives him 4-3 or 1 base damage, but the Effect of his attack roll boosts that back up to 11.
Ground cars have 2 points of armor on all facings and 12 hull points, so 9 points penetrate and the hull takes 9 points of damage, leaving it with 3 hull points left. That's a pretty serious hit.
The severity of the critical hit is 1 (9 penetrating points divided by 10, rounded up to 1). The Traveller rolls a 9 on the location table, for an Occupants Critical Hit.
A Severity 1 Occupant Critical Hit means that one random occupant takes 1D damage. The Referee determines it's the driver who is hit, and rolls 4 damage. Since the driver has 7 Endurance he is mostly just annoyed at getting shot.

The Traveller has done serious damage to the car, but either they will drive away on the driver's next action or the thugs will all get out of the car to attack and he'll be outnumbered 4-to-1.

Under the revised rules: As with the original example, he rolls a 12 on the dice, giving him a total of 19 against a target of 8 for an Effect of 11. This is more than 6, so he has scored a Critical Hit, if his shot penetrates the car's armor. He rolls damage and as above rolls a 4 on the dice. That gives him 4-3 or 1 base damage, but his Effect boosts that back up to 12.
Ground cars under the revision still have 2 points of armor on all facings and 12 hull points, but the auto pistol also counts as a Light Weapon because it does less than 4D damage (another new rule), so the ground car gets an extra amount of armor equal to its TL: 8. The damage of the hit is reduced by total armor of 10, to 2 points. The hull takes 2 points of damage, leaving it 10 hull points. The car has been hardly scratched, but since 2 points did penetrate the armor and the Effect of the attack roll was 6 or higher it still counts as a Critical Hit.
The severity of the Critical Hit, however, is now the Effect of the attack roll-5, or Severity 6 , the maximum. As above the Traveller rolls a 9 on the location table, for an Occupants hit. A Severity 6 Occupant Critical Hit means "All occupants take 4D damage." The Referee rolls fairly average damage rolls on 4D for each occupant: 15, 16, 13, and another 15. As all of the crooks have 7 Endurance, 8 Strength, and 7 Dexterity, all of them are knocked unconscious by having two of their stats reduced to 0 except for one guy in the back seat, who still has 2 points of Strength left.

The Traveller has knocked out nearly all of the car's occupants with one very lucky shot that barely penetrated the car's armor and did next to no damage to the car. In fact, he did a lot more damage to the occupants than he could have done to them if they hadn't been sitting in a vehicle.
 

tempest13

Mongoose
Several problems with your example.
1. In your first example the car would automatically receive 7 additional criticals of severity level 1 because of the damage it received.
2. In your 2nd example the car would also receive 1 more critical due to the damage received.
3. Your example should include some sort of roll to sneak up to within 10 meters which could be thwarted by the occupants of the car. People tend to be uncomfortable when they notice people aiming at their car for several seconds on a street. The attack does not exist in a vacuum.

Point number 1 alone could cause the same result if you rolled occupants for several criticals. Though unlikely. Either way a single shot from a autopistol would have caused several components to fail.
Point number 3 could thwart the damage altogether or allow for greater effect if you chain the skill checks together.
 

Bense

Mongoose
1. In your first example the car would automatically receive 7 additional criticals of severity level 1 because of the damage it received.
2. In your 2nd example the car would also receive 1 more critical due to the damage received.
The "Sustain Damage" rule, where a spaceship receives a critical hit for every 10% of its hull damage it takes applies only to space combat, not to vehicle combat.

3. Your example should include some sort of roll to sneak up to within 10 meters which could be thwarted by the occupants of the car. People tend to be uncomfortable when they notice people aiming at their car for several seconds on a street. The attack does not exist in a vacuum.
Yes, I glossed over that a bit to get to the damage example.

The Traveller also has Stealth-1. The attack is taking place during the afternoon. The area is a somewhat narrow city street with moderate traffic and the Traveller is approaching from an alleyway with some cover.

The crooks, as Average Combatants, have Recon 1 but no INT modifier. Using the Encounters rules, the Referee rules that the crooks get a -2 to their Recon roll because it is a "crowded" area, and that only one crook, the guy in the back seat on the left side, has been assigned to be on the look out in the right direction to spot the Traveller, so he'll only make one Recon roll for the four crooks. That crook will get a bonus equal to his Recon skill (1, effectively he gets to double his skill) because he's been assigned to actively look for danger from that direction.

The Traveller's player asks if the crooks have reason to suspect that someone might be attacking them right now, and if they might not have all gotten a little bored on their stake-out. The Referee realizes that the player is fishing for a modifier, but he already decided that these crooks aren't really tempermentally suited to sitting in a car with each other for hours with nothing to do, so he gives the crook on the lookout a Bane for being bored out of his mind. For the last 10 minutes he's been trying to convince the other crooks that tipping waitresses is a scam more than he's been watching his assigned area.

The Traveller's player rolls an 7 for his Stealth check. Modified by +1 for DEX and +1 for Stealth-1 he has a 9, an Effect of 1.

The Referee rolls a 3, 4, and 5 on 3D for the crook. Because this is a Bane roll he discards the 5 for a 7. Modified by the crook's Recon--1 and +1 for having been assigned to watch the alley that's a 9, but with the -2 for the congested area he gets only 7, an Effect of -1. The Traveller wins the contested roll.

The Referee decides the crook did spot the Traveller approaching and had started to think he was suspiscious while he aimed, but didn't realize the Traveller was a threat before he fired.
The rest of the example proceeds as above.
 

Tupper

Banded Mongoose
The "Sustain Damage" rule, where a spaceship receives a critical hit for every 10% of its hull damage it takes applies only to space combat, not to vehicle combat.

Actually, it is a rule in the new version of the core rulebook. Vehicles do take sustained damage (see page 140).

One thing that I'm not so sure about is whether you should add effect to damage for attacks on vehicles. This is mentioned in regular combat, and reiterated in space combat, but not mentioned in vehicle combat. To be honest, I'd be tempted to not add it, because it makes it more likely that small arms attacks will "bounce off" vehicles, even if they roll good effects. This avoids the problem of someone with a well-aimed rifle shot sinking a ship. The explanation behind the new armour rule is given in the Traveller Companion, where it's supposed to stop travellers tearing vehicles apart with their bare hands, which could still happen if you add effect to the damage (1D punch + 6 effect could do damage to a vehicle with 8 or so armour).[Maybe you could rule that the base weapon damage has to penetrate in order to also get the effect?] Note that we're clearly not supposed to use the rule (from regular combat) that effect 6+ guarantees a point of damage, since that nullifies the rule that shots that "bounce off" don't cause criticals.

Personally I quite like the new system. It results in a shoot-out with vehicles potentially having more criticals and less damage (the extra armour for small arms fire). That means that shooting at vehicles will more often result in passengers/crew getting hurt and performance degradation, which overall makes for exciting vehicle chases.
 

Bense

Mongoose
Actually, it is a rule in the new version of the core rulebook. Vehicles do take sustained damage (see page 140)
Well what do you know? I missed that, even with my careful read through when I wrote that example. Now I'll have to rewrite the whole thing.
It looks like the original rules do not have the sustain damage rule in the vehicle section, unless I just have a blind spot for that rule and am missing it again.

I would have to agree that Effect being added to damage seems to make vehicles too vulnerable to small firearms and melee weapons. Ground cars only have 10 armor and 12 hull points vs. Small arms and melee attacks. Going kung fu on a car shouldn't be easy to do.

The rules read like Effect is only added against living targets, since the same rules also say damage is applied to the target's Endurance score first in the next bullet point, and vehicles obviously don't have an Endurance score.

A related question would be "do you get to add your Strength DM to damage when you make a melee attack against a vehicle?" It seems connected to Effect, so if you don't add Effect you probably don't add Strength either.
 

Heartwarder

Mongoose
I have not tried the revised rules, in fact I have not yet read them, but I am a bit familiar with the previous iteration regarding vehicle combat.
From that experience I can conclude there are in fact three very distinct kinds of vehicles:
1. "Light" vehicles - things from a scooter to city car to an armored jeep with a turret - something that can be reasonably engaged with non-destructive handheld weapons;
2. "Heavy" vehicles - things like a (g/)tank or (g/)IFV or a combat walker or proper wet ship - something so big that a personal combat against it makes no sense, it would be a suicide or an exercise in futility;
3. "Fast" vehicles - things like planes, jets and g/fighters, but also land vehicles that are so fast that a person on foot would have no chance to engage them, outside of very special circumstances of ambush.

Between the three types, combat and how it is "optimally" handled differs very much - like you cant do fast vehicles on any sort of "tactical" map - they need a "strategic" map or a pure ToM approach. Personal weapons have ranges, even when you consider extreme, so tiny compared to distances covered by the vehicle in round and negative DMs for speed difference so harsh, that any kind of combat between "infantry" travelers and fast vehicles would be so one-sided that you might as well just narrate the results. Unless its specific circumstances of a "cinematic" ambush, but that is very specific and happens when "infantry" travellers have specific weapons designed to counter the odds. In such case referee can allow a few hit rolls to determine how well the ambush performed, but it is not a proper "combat".
TL/DR: In such ambush specific weapons are used, usually with Smart and Tracking* traits, and Effect to damage is not extremely relevant - hitting is more of a problem.
*Tracking is used on a few guns, but was not defined in the books, wonder if its explained in revision? There were a few explanations here on the forum - either you ignore "Evasion" DM or speed difference DM - I always went with the latter, makes more practical sense - attacking a jet fighter with some kind of stinger thingie, DM-8 for speed difference would be impossible otherwise.

Heavy vehicles were a problem - even with disposable plasma launchers my players had trouble picking apart a simple TL6 tank because of ample armor and almost a hundred hit-points the thing had. I did apply sustained criticals for vehicles at the time too. Also, the thing had a heavy autocannon, so players were really struggling to stay alive at this point, even against "green" combatant crew. Long story short, players (and I) decided heavy vehicles are best engaged with other heavy vehicles. At a later point I ran such a combat with a custom combat walker against a tank. It so happened that both had plasma guns as their main armament and on a tactical map we struggled to score any significant damage through armor on both sides. The system lacks rules for how fast vehicles can turn or how to determine which armor facing is open to attacks at a given point, so until we got really close it was hits to best armor location... once we got into 1 km range we resolved it with dogfight rules - even then it took many more turns than it should have - protection scores are big compared to firepower and hit points are ample as well.
TL/DR: Either way in such combat guns are sure to be "Destructive" meaning Effect doesn't apply either way.

Most relevant to your discussion is combat with "light" vehicles. First off, should note that doing such a thing without Companion rule for extra protection vs. small arms produces fun, comical results - civilian vehicles during my first city chase scene exploded from a wet fart... they just have very few hit-points and rarely any meaningful armor. At a later point I ran a few fights involving armed jeeps and bandit technicals - players and enemies were mounted at first, and machineguns with standard ammo didn't obliterate anything too fast - as per old rules, only inhabitants sticking out of the vehicles to shoot or critical hits to crew affected the crew - in either case a few enemy gunners were injured, player gunner lucked out long enough, vehicles were losing hit-points at a reasonable pace, was fun. Then evil referee lured the players into an ambush - they though they were winning :twisted: - their jeep got TOWed, at which point we rolled a few improvised checks to see if players managed to jump out in time (I know, i know, such tenderness is unbefitting of a referee). Not everyone made it though. Proper destructive weapon vs. light vehicle is realistically effective. At this point remaining players are hugging the ground and shooting handhelds at remaining bandit technical and two bikes - they get -DMs for speed difference and miss a lot, but manage to blow up one of the bikes with a lucky shot - Effect was 2 or 3, not super high, coupled with good damage roll it managed to overcome the protection and deplete the few hit points that the bike had. Don't ask me why they didn't attack the biker - we were caught up in the moment and players saw the tiny hit pool on the bike, you know how it goes. Anyway, at this point bandits decided that they have had enough and disengaged, ultimately failing the mission for the players, but at no point during this encounter someone was bored. Everything felt fast, dynamic, every decision mattered. I did, do and will add effect to damage of non-destructive weapons - it seems reasonable interpretation of the rules - and with how players struggled with scoring damage to vehicles with Companion rule, I stand by it being the right choice. If that changes after I get to read/use revised rules remains to be seen.
TL/DR: In OP's example negative DMs for speed are not applied and vehicle's driver does not use Evasion action, while the attacker uses two rounds to aim - implying its an ambush. For example a hit in a city while the mark is stuck in a traffic jam. The critical application does seem overpowered, I will have to look into the wording of it or just stick to using the old system. I would still add effect to damage and track sustained crits for vehicles. Just because its fun. And I no longer have much qualms about homebrewing MgT2 system because it falls flat at times.

Wish I could offer more insight, but I just don't have time to thoroughly read the new core book. Hope that helps though
 

Bense

Mongoose
First off, should note that doing such a thing without Companion rule for extra protection vs. small arms produces fun, comical results - civilian vehicles during my first city chase scene exploded from a wet fart... they just have very few hit-points and rarely any meaningful armor.
That rule has graduated to a standard rule in the 2022 Update.

Thanks for the insight. I've run a few one - shots with the 2nd ed and am greasing up to a full campaign now, and I haven't really used the vehicle rules much yet.

On reflection, it would be strange to have the Effect of an attack roll added to everything except vehicles. I think my vehicle example is so extreme because I took one of the more flimsy vehicles and wrote an example with a very high Effect on the attack roll.

I do wonder, though: if you're being attacked by a guy on a motorcycle, is the better target for your auto pistol the guy or the motorcycle? The dirt bike in the Vehicle Guide only has 4 hull points, probably much less than what you need to knock out the rider.
 

Heartwarder

Mongoose
Bense said:
I do wonder, though: if you're being attacked by a guy on a motorcycle, is the better target for your auto pistol the guy or the motorcycle? The dirt bike in the Vehicle Guide only has 4 hull points, probably much less than what you need to knock out the rider.

That depends on the situation - how well armed and armored is the driver versus the bike itself. Mechanically attacking the driver and the vehicle would be the same - before revisions that is - now you get DM+1 to hit the bike as far as I understood. At the table though, players can and often do act irrationally, so you never know what they will do. I had a bunch of greedy milks that would 100% guaranteed attack the driver, even if they were clad in armor head to toe, hoping to salvage the bike to sell it later...
I am not aware of any specific rules to resolve what happens to the driver if the vehicle is destroyed from under them, in this case of a bike I would guess it should be resolved like a crash at the speed band that the bike has traveled at, potentially causing armor ignoring lethal damage to the driver.
Just the same I am not aware of any rules to help determine what happens to the bike if the driver is incapacitated - I would guess it would crash into something causing collateral damage, but that is 100% on a referee to work out.

Now I want to run some mock combat to see these scenarios play out :roll:
 

Heartwarder

Mongoose
I finally got the new edition of the Core Rulebook so I could read on this subject in more detail...

I must say, this new critical handling for vehicles is consistent with that of ships on the first glance, but once you dig in and look at interactions with other rules and item statistics you see that it is problematic.
On its own, this kind of Effect based severity works up to a certain size - for a car, an APC, even a small tank, but once you get to a wet ship or passenger plane it makes for silly outcomes. Ships have similar situation, but they get critical immunity thresholds, but lets leave ships for now.
Of particular interest is the rule on page 140 - "LARGE VEHICLES" - granting DM +1 per 10 ton of shipping volume of the vehicle. This is a silly rule indeed, though I understand what they tried to achieve, the implementation is insane - how it got through playtest!? Shipping volume is a poor key selection for such a thing, just look at Airships - VHB, p.24 - they get tiny Shipping per space. Think about it! Should have being from Spaces at least. Or just go with DM +2 like ships get - regardless of size, mind you, and tonnage of space ships is much more consistent.
But I digress. Should get back to interaction of this rule with new criticals:

Imagine a cruise wet ship. A huge 1000+ ton TL7 bucket with thousands of hit points and people onboard, almost no armor - maybe a few points that are granted for free under current vehicle building rules - that is 2/2/2 for TL7. So a dude (lets say Trained without any bonuses or penalties to hit) with a pistol (3D-3) can get damage through Protection of 2+7 (7 from "LIGHT WEAPONS" rule, page 140), considering they get DM +6 from size modifier (and potentially another +6 from aiming) with average of 12.5 points of damage. The Effect is 6+ roughly 4 out 10 times (without aiming for barely proficient dude) - that means half the time it would cause a critical effect for the whole huge ship.

Breakdown stats:
To hit check - 2d6+6 vs. 8
Damage roll - 3d6-3-2-7+{2d6+6-8} > 0

P.S.
Unrelated to criticals, this LARGE VEHICLES is pure disaster - it is equally easier (DM +2) to hit G/Carrier IFV (page 148) and a 200 ton rated Far Trader (page 196), both not moving, while a Brutus heavy truck (page 145) gets DM +5 while able to go inside that Far Trader as cargo 1.5x times.
 

MongooseMatt

Administrator
Staff member
Hey everyone,

Just a quickie - consider the criticals and attack roll DMs to be an interim step, and one we are very much looking for feedback on. As one quick example cited here, we make the presumption that most things firing at a 200 ton trader will be other ships, most things firing at a Brutus will be people with hand held or vehicle mounted guns (and we kinda bake that into the rules). However, there is a _big_ argument that something like a wet ship should not be used as a vehicle (with regards to rules) in the first place. In terms of rules interactions, it could be easily viewed as a building that moves on water...). We have a similar issue in High Guard where small traders and massive warships use the same rules... but in terms of interaction they really are separate objects. We never really intended for you to use (say) a Tigress in combat - really, the deck plans are more important than its stats as you are more likely to get Travellers wandering around inside it than on the bridge giving orders.

There will always be exceptions to that :)

So, there are a fair few things that we want to tweak with vehicles. We will be revisiting them in a Vehicle Handbook Update (likely Update 2023 with current projects as they are).
 

Heartwarder

Mongoose
I understand making rules consistent and efficient across such vast scale from a dude trying to smash a mouse with a sabre to doom star shooting planet killing lasers at a battlecruiser is difficult, but I believe in you guys! You can do better. Or at least make a footnote describing assumptions and boundaries for each set of rules - like so and so, this set of rules is designed for this kind of situation...

As for that particular assumption of person shooting at a vehicle - it is placed in "vehicle combat" section of the book. One reading it would assume it applies to vehicles shooting at each other as well. Should have mentioned that this DM+ to hit only applies for a person attaching a vehicle. I can work with that kind of implementation. Would also mean it is easier to hit the tank, than the officer sticking out from the top hatch to fire the machinegun - player choices!

Interaction with critical is still there though. As a stopgap I would use a threshold size from which only Destructive weapons can cause a critical. Somewhere around 15 tons?

Still, balloons and dirigibles have very small shipping score under current rules - presumably cause they are easily packable. Same goes for planes and helicopters with "Folding Wings" - they get less shipping volume, but being easier to hit than their non-folding counterparts makes no sense from the "simulation" perspective. Obviously we can roll with it, I also don't see trouble with putting my criticism here. Hope you don't take it as an attack on the solid product that is MgT2.
 

Heartwarder

Mongoose
MongooseMatt said:
So, there are a fair few things that we want to tweak with vehicles. We will be revisiting them in a Vehicle Handbook Update (likely Update 2023 with current projects as they are).
How big changes are we talking? I was thinking about rewriting the vehicle "builder" spreadsheet from scratch in Excel 2021 using the fancy new LET and LAMBDA functions, but if its gonna get obsolete I would rather save my efforts for later.
 

NOLATrav

Banded Mongoose
I gotta say, I still use the vehicle scale rules from the early 2e play test…. X5 multipliers for each tier. So personal weapons divide damage by 5 against vehicles and small craft, by 25 against starships and such. We keep all armor values as listed, and Destructive weapons too. We’re not a combat heavy table but with a few tweaks it’s been working great for us.
 

Josh77

Mongoose
I've got a quick question about vehicle critical hits. Is sustained damage cumulative on a single location? For example, if I inflict damage to a vehicle equal to 30% of its starting hull points with a single attack, does this:

A. inflict a single level 1 critical hit to a single random location
B. inflict 3 level 1 critical hits to 3 random locations
C. inflict a single level 3 critical hit to a single random location

Thanks in adavance!

Edit: From Tempest13's reply above it looks like answer B is correct. Is this true?
 
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