Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Firearms Rules & Deadly Character Builds

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Firearms Rules & Deadly Character Builds

    Mage needs a lot of storyteller ad-hoc rulings (if only due to the widespread inconsistencies & errata) but there are a few mechanics which are much more broken than others which skew certain character builds into death-dealing murder machines, intentionally or accidentally, and mostly to do with guns. This thread is intended to identify the most egregious problems and hopefully find solutions that allow a balanced game without penalising cool character concepts too badly (also to check I'm understanding the rules adequately).

    Example #1 one of my players is a Euthanatos who favours a sniper rifle.
    Before entering combat she usually blesses her rifle, she commonly aims for a turn and she has a laser sight. The blessing reduces the difficulty for the shot by the successes (often -2/-3 as the difficulty is low) the turn aiming adds three dice (+1 for the aim +2 for the scope) and reduces the difficulty by -1 (laser sight) so from a difficulty of 6 she's going down to 3 and getting +3 dice. Her Dex + Firearms is usually 8 (Better Body) so she's rolling eleven dice at a difficulty of 3 and adding those successes to the 8 dice of damage the rifle does anyway...

    Example #2 an NPC is a Cult of Ecstasy Time/Life mage with a Glock.
    He prepares for combat by boosting his Dex with better body, and speeding himself up with time dilation. Because of his better body his dex+firearms is 8, because of his extra actions he does not need to split his dice pool. The Glock rate of fire is 4, so he can easily be firing off 4 shots per turn with a pool of 4 each (difficulty 6) while normal folk can only dodge once. Each shot is doing minimum 4 dice lethal damage (or more due to the extra attack successes), so he can easily kill or incapacitate a character every turn, even if he saves an action for dodging. Time dilation is every two successes allow the character to take one additional action so with arete 4 he's potentially getting three actions a turn.

    Example #3 a trigger-happy NPC guard has a high Wits+Alertness and an AK47 on full auto.
    He goes before the players (high initiative) and unloads on the first person he sees (+10 dice, +2 diff). With a dex+firearms pool of 6, plus 10 for full auto, he's rolling 16 dice at diff 8. He easily gets three or four successes, so unless the character is lucky when they dive for cover they'll be taking 7+ dice of lethal damage. Most of the time, that character goes down Wounded, sometimes they die. If there's ever any point-blank full auto the character always dies.

    Now, you could argue that these are all fine and realistic- the Euthanatos has a deadly first shot but has to take time to aim, the Cultist is deadly because extra actions are totally overpowered in the World of Darkness (and he'll take paradox) and the guard example is fine because fully automatic weapons are deadly and cover is very important. But to me it feels like M20 suffers from all the same problems as earlier editions regarding firearms- the system is rudimentary compared to the close combat rules and guns easily outweigh magic. Even for Technocrats, the restrictive Wonder rules mean a shotgun is often more effective than a plasma rifle.
    Last edited by Barbelith; 02-08-2016, 12:45 PM.

  • #2
    I think you're probably a bit too worried about things.

    In pretty much every example there's two big issues:

    1) The targets are doing nothing about defending themselves. No cover, no lethal soak via magic/armor, no protective spells, etc. Guns are good at killing people, but the system gives you tons of ways to help mitigate that for a mage

    2) You seem to be doing damage in some fashion that is generating far higher outputs than should be expected. Your sniper in your first example? She averages 6 lethal damage done with a shot against an unarmored target with no other protection. She doesn't usually kill a target on the first hit. You need 16+ damage dice to average an incapacitating (not immediately dead mind you) hit of lethal. If 7 or 8 dice of damage are annihilating people... something is wrong.

    Comment


    • #3
      According to How Do You Do That?, using Time to give yourself extra actions isn't vulgar, so long as you aren't doing more than three actions per turn. So if the Ecstatic took one fewer actions, he'd be free to shoot his gun without Paradox intruding. After all, some people are just that fast.

      As for guns outweighing magick, this is also true, but with caveats. Once upon a time, in the Sorcerer's Crusade times, Guns were Wonders, and shooting small pellets of metal at lethal speeds was magick. They've worked their way into the Consensus, but they are still miraculous...and effective. Moreover, I'm reminded of the Revised Guide to the Traditions, which had an entire chapter devoted to Paradox and how to avoid it. And one of the biggest things this chapter advocated was not using magick all the time. "Do you actually need magick to accomplish what you want to do?" And in the modern day, it really is far more efficient to employ the common weapons of the realm - firearms - than it is to throw fireballs or wither a person's body or turn the air into acid. If you want someone dead, you don't need to use mystical powers to do it.

      That said, guns are really only good for violence. Which puts the situation into perspective: if you're defaulting to killing to solve all your problems, haven't you failed? Making yourself a bullet firing death machine has limited utility in other situation. A dead person can't render services or provide information, and living people are reluctant to do so with a gun to their heads. Guns can cause problems of their own. They're loud, unsubtle, alarming, and have a habit of stamping their "fingerprints" on every bullet they fire. Moreover, breaking out the guns tends to prompt others - law enforcement, bystanders, criminal elements, etc. - to break out their guns. Suddenly, you've escalated the conflict, bringing more people into the fray, who are even more heavily armed.

      Even if you get out of the situation, no one likes to deal with gun-toting maniacs.


      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
        2) You seem to be doing damage in some fashion that is generating far higher outputs than should be expected. Your sniper in your first example? She averages 6 lethal damage done with a shot against an unarmored target with no other protection. She doesn't usually kill a target on the first hit. You need 16+ damage dice to average an incapacitating (not immediately dead mind you) hit of lethal. If 7 or 8 dice of damage are annihilating people... something is wrong.
        I'm not sure how you get that 6 damage- she's rolling avg. 17 damage dice (8 for the rifle + avg.9 from 11@diff3) at difficulty 6, which I calculate to be avg. 8 or 9 lethal damage, which will kill a normal human (or mage...) outright. A kevlar vest will soak one or two of those, which is still a one-shot kill most of the time and incap the rest. Frankly if someone is wearing kevlar she'll go for a headshot which will negate the armour and add a couple of damage dice without hampering the difficulty much.

        Comment


        • #5
          Looking at your numbers, I'd say the big problem is that you're not subtracting 1s from successes. If you're not accounting for that, then 11 dice with a TN of 3 would average 8.8 successes, if you account for the rule of 1, then the average is 7.7 successes. You've also calculated damage incorrectly. You only add extra successes to damage. So if you roll 9 successes on the attack, you add 8 dice to damage.

          So:

          11 dice, diff 3, averages 7.7 successes. I rounded that up to 8. That adds 7 damage to the 8 base damage for 15 dice of damage. 15 dice, at the standard damage difficulty of 6, averages 6 successes, so 6 lethal damage.

          Also, frankly, she's a magically enhanced sniper and she's barely hitting enough numbers to one shot a target ~50% of the time. She's get kicked out of a sniper unit with numbers like that (the difficulty for the head shot, and the damage bonus for the head shot essentially even out at her numbers). There's so much stronger she could be at this.

          Comment


          • #6
            Just food for thought...Effects are vulgar when applicable. Mind, these are bare minimum Effects, individual player taste and creativity notwithstanding.

            Forces 2 can stop a bullet dead in its tracks. Every success on the Arete roll kills two successes' worth of damage (don't forget, Forces adds an auto-success to the Arete roll). Or, it can "curve" the bullet away from the target, most easily adding difficulty to the attack roll.

            Forces 3 can outright redirect the bullet, and either deal the player's own damage to themselves, or alternatively Forces damage instead.

            Forces 4 can not only redirect the bullet, but deal damage through it in kinetic force to an AE.

            Entropy 2 (usually with Forces) can cause the gun to misfire, or Entropy 3 can cause the gun to catastrophically backfire. There's a rote in the Euthanatos Revised book that does precisely that.

            Correspondence 3 (with Matter to lock the Pattern) can redirect the bullet straight back into the gunman's head. Oops. Correspondence 4 (if I remember right) can do not just that, but co-locate the bullet into any number of the gunman's best buds in the process.

            LIfe 3 can, of course, grant extra bashing and health levels. Prime 3 can do the same, by using Quintessence as an ablative shield as per HDYDT?.

            Matter 2 can convert a bullet into a harmless, or less-lethal, solid. Matter 3 could convert that bullet into a benign puff of air.

            Mind 3 can trick the person into firing at an illusion.

            Prime 4 can simply convert the bullet (or, more tastily, the bullet's Forces Pattern) into Quintessence.

            Time 3 can slow the bullet, making it easier to dodge and/or automatically miss. Time 2 can speed the target's perception of time to make for easier dodging.

            Spirit can allow a mage to step sideways rendering the bullet's damage meaningless altogether. Or, shunt the bullet into the Umbra. Whichever works.

            That's not even getting into multi-sphere Effects, like a Forces 3/Life 2 Effect that allows the mage to absorb kinetic energy Patterns coming towards them, and transmute that energy into healing. Or a Forces 3/Life 3 Effect that, hilariously enough, would transmute those same Forces Patterns into attribute dots or "natural" armor. Or, a Correspondence 3/Matter 1/Forces 3 rote that portals the bullet into the gunman's head, and transmutes all that kinetic energy into area-effect fire (WP grenade bullets!).

            Hell, one of my current Akashic PC's planned rotes is a Forces 2/Time 2 rote that allows her to use jo chuan against gunmen by intentionally placing herself in a crossfire, opposed to using "arrow catching" with bullets. That fucker would be completely coincidental as per HDYDT?. She already has Forces 3 and Life 2, which allows her to convert basically any incoming Forces Pattern straight into healing.

            I'm just amazed you didn't bring up the fact just about any mage could use an automatic weapon on "suppressive fire" as the instrument for a Forces 3 area-effect kinetic energy attack, via "violence as focus".

            I could continue.

            Point is, firearms aren't that big a deal. Just about any mage, when prepared and in possession of the right know-how, can negate a firearms attack just as easily as a mage could make one. Something in Mage is only "broken" so long as another person hasn't figured out an effective counter.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              Also, frankly, she's a magically enhanced sniper and she's barely hitting enough numbers to one shot a target ~50% of the time. She's get kicked out of a sniper unit with numbers like that
              The irony is, a mortal sniper would be much worse at this because they lack the difficulty reduction, only getting the additional dice from the aiming/laser scope. And this would be with them at 4 dex/4 firearms, which is top notch.
              Last edited by Ambrosia; 02-09-2016, 05:01 AM.


              cWoD Dice Probability Chart ||| cWoD Dice Statistics Calculator ||| cWoD Alternative Armor System
              cWoD Alternative Damage Roll System ||| My explanation of cWoD Damage Levels ||| 'Interesting' Strength Attribute Stuff
              EXPLOSIVE cWoD STUFF! ||| How Technocrats don't think they are Mages

              Comment


              • #8
                Okay, I did some calculations and what-ifs.

                Let's presume the 8-damage Remington rifle from the book, a scope (+2 dice after aiming), and three rounds of aiming:

                Damn Good Mortal Sniper:
                Attack: 4 dex +4 firearms +3 (aiming) +2 (scope) -> 13 vs 6 = 5 successes average
                Damage: 8 (rifle) + 4 (succs) -> 12 vs 6 = 5 damage average

                Yay, I guess.

                Barbelith's Euthie with proper aiming:
                Attack: 8 dex +3 firearms +3 (aiming) +2 (scope) -> 16 vs 3 (blessing) = 11 successes average
                Damage: 8 (rifle) + 10 (succs) -> 18 vs 6 = 7 damage average


                Now, let's turn this around. -instead- of blessing the rifle to improve the to-hit, let's magically improve the to-damage difficulty instead:
                Attack: 8 dex +3 firearms +3 (aiming) +2 (scope) -> 16 vs 6 = 7
                Damage: 8 (rifle) + 6 (succs) -> 14 vs 3 (blessing) = 10 average damage.

                What did we learn, kids?
                Reducing the difficulty of the damage roll is way more effective than reducing to-hit difficulties, and a boost to Dex increases your damage less than you might expect...
                Last edited by Ambrosia; 02-09-2016, 05:35 AM.


                cWoD Dice Probability Chart ||| cWoD Dice Statistics Calculator ||| cWoD Alternative Armor System
                cWoD Alternative Damage Roll System ||| My explanation of cWoD Damage Levels ||| 'Interesting' Strength Attribute Stuff
                EXPLOSIVE cWoD STUFF! ||| How Technocrats don't think they are Mages

                Comment


                • #9
                  Well, there's a few things off with the numbers (a fully trained sniper would have a Specialty, Barbelith's Euthie has Dex + Firearms of 8 after Better Body, not Dex 8). There's also a reason why real-world snipers work in pairs. The boosts from a spotter will easily put the mortal sniper into the highly lethal zone without magic (teamwork... it kicks ass).

                  Also, generally, magic doesn't change the damage difficulty. Most effects that usually provide difficulty modifiers that affect damage or soak are stated to convert to dice modifiers instead (ex: Locate Weakness and Disorder). Of course, direct magic boosts to the damage pool are still better uses of magic for a sniper than boosting Dex (you're a sniper... you're going to hit).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                    Well, there's a few things off with the numbers (a fully trained sniper would have a Specialty
                    Yuh, I agree there. Wouldn't change -too- much though, but...

                    There's also a reason why real-world snipers work in pairs. The boosts from a spotter will easily put the mortal sniper into the highly lethal zone without magic (teamwork... it kicks ass).
                    This definitely is worth either extra dice or difficulty decrease.


                    cWoD Dice Probability Chart ||| cWoD Dice Statistics Calculator ||| cWoD Alternative Armor System
                    cWoD Alternative Damage Roll System ||| My explanation of cWoD Damage Levels ||| 'Interesting' Strength Attribute Stuff
                    EXPLOSIVE cWoD STUFF! ||| How Technocrats don't think they are Mages

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Regarding the sniper- she has specialty:sniping, so the extra successes from the 2-from-10 rule will balance out the botches. The example there is a single turn aiming, she could ramp up to higher damage, most obviously by enchanting the bullet to do extra damage (she has Life 3) but also by extra aiming time etc. really my point is she's easily doing 7+ lethal damage to an unsuspecting target- since mortals can't soak bullets and most mages don't habitually keep their bulletproof skin charms on all the time, she's deadly without trying.

                      [crunchy mechanics sniping sidebar>>> Sniper scope reduces the difficulty by 2 and adds 2 dice to the pool for the first shot. If she aims for 3 turns, it allows for a targeted shot at your eyeball (+3 damage dice, +3 diff) which works out as -
                      Attack: Dex 5 + firearms 4=starting pool of 9, +3 (aiming) +2 (scope) -> 14 dice vs diff 3 (targeting +3, blessing -3, aiming -3, scope -2) = 11 successes average (assuming 10 gives 2 successes and 1 takes only one away and minimum diff=3)
                      Damage: 8 (rifle) + 10 (successes) +3 (eyeball shot) -> 21 vs 6 = 10 damage average
                      edited to add: in fact she doesn't need magic, if she had 5 dex naturally and no blessing the shot diff is still only 4 which still means 10 avg. damage]

                      While there are obviously lots of ways to mitigate gun damage, other combat characters are not nearly as deadly. The Sniper's cabal mate is a cage fighter with Life 3 Forces 3, a similarly typical starting character, and does nowhere near the same sort of damage (mostly because people are trying to doge his attacks). See also the Cultist with a glock, as Bluecho points out his effect is coincidental. Gun builds are much deadlier than others.

                      Thankfully my campaign is set in the UK so it's easy to restrict how many people are spraying bullets around.
                      Last edited by Barbelith; 02-09-2016, 10:02 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Your point seems to be that these very focused and moderately powerful mages have an easy time killing non-supernaturally-protected humans. I think you're right, and I don't see why that's a problem.

                        Say the Euthanatos determines the city's mayor is in need of the Good Death, and she snipes him at a speech. She'll probably kill him, which is fine. What will she do when the Technocrats send a HIT Mark to her house to resolve the apparent Reality Deviant problem? No time to aim or set up a fancy rifle, probably not even time to enhance her pattern or bless a weapon. In other words, she still has meaningful combat challenges even if she is ludicrously good at sniping. Plus I'm sure she has meaningful non-combat challenges in the game too, like "how do I get this sniper rifle past security?" or "am I getting soaked in Jhor over here?"

                        If you want a game where blasting foes with magic is a mechanically better way to deal with them than using mundane tools like guns, you will have to make some changes. First would be softening paradox and/or making sure fights don't have mortal witnesses. Second would be offering the same sort of dice pool modifiers and difficulty breaks to those magical attacks - say, offering a Fire specialty on a Hermetic's Forces sphere so he gets -1 diff, or allowing a ritual purification beforehand to grant a couple extra dice.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ambrosia View Post
                          ...5 damage average

                          Yay, I guess.
                          Don't forget, "mook" opponents have four health levels , and that's still lethal which unless the ST uses cinematic damage cannot be soaked. Also, characters are going to bleed out, suffer from shock, and the like from big hits like that.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ambrosia View Post
                            Okay, I did some calculations and what-ifs.

                            Let's presume the 8-damage Remington rifle from the book, a scope (+2 dice after aiming), and three rounds of aiming:

                            Damn Good Mortal Sniper:
                            Attack: 4 dex +4 firearms +3 (aiming) +2 (scope) -> 13 vs 6 = 5 successes average
                            Damage: 8 (rifle) + 4 (succs) -> 12 vs 6 = 5 damage average

                            Yay, I guess.

                            Barbelith's Euthie with proper aiming:
                            Attack: 8 dex +3 firearms +3 (aiming) +2 (scope) -> 16 vs 3 (blessing) = 11 successes average
                            Damage: 8 (rifle) + 10 (succs) -> 18 vs 6 = 7 damage average


                            Now, let's turn this around. -instead- of blessing the rifle to improve the to-hit, let's magically improve the to-damage difficulty instead:
                            Attack: 8 dex +3 firearms +3 (aiming) +2 (scope) -> 16 vs 6 = 7
                            Damage: 8 (rifle) + 6 (succs) -> 14 vs 3 (blessing) = 10 average damage.

                            What did we learn, kids?
                            Reducing the difficulty of the damage roll is way more effective than reducing to-hit difficulties, and a boost to Dex increases your damage less than you might expect...

                            Nice. I love those mathematical analysis of RPG mechanics =).

                            But can the mage reduce/increase damage/soak dice difficulty? I thought it was only possible with attack rolls and soak/damage could only increase its dice pool. How would be that in-game? What would differentiate it from increasing dice pool? Just the player wanting it?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

                              Don't forget, "mook" opponents have four health levels , and that's still lethal which unless the ST uses cinematic damage cannot be soaked. Also, characters are going to bleed out, suffer from shock, and the like from big hits like that.
                              Yeah, I quite agree. When somebody gets hit for 5 lethal damage, technically the rules only say that they should break down on the ground for one round (stun) and deal with the according dice penalties in the next rounds, but...jeez, if you want to properly RP it, you do not just get up after that unless you are supernatural. Either pain, shock, panic or a mixture of all of that should be RPed accordingly.


                              ‚Äč
                              Originally posted by Lord Revan View Post
                              But can the mage reduce/increase damage/soak dice difficulty?
                              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                              Also, generally, magic doesn't change the damage difficulty.
                              This is actually something I've been thinking about every since Heavy Arms mentioned this, and it's actually intriguing me..in the way that it made me think about what the actual damage roll represents, in-world and RP-wise.

                              The to-hit roll is easy...it determines how well an attack hits. "is it a graze, is it a goddamn bullseye?"
                              The potential Parry/Dodge roll modifies the result of, of course. "How well does the target manage to evade/lessen the attack by parrying or moving out of the way."
                              The Soak roll, also, is easily explainable. "How well does the target and/or armor and/or mystic shield resist the damage."

                              But what does the damage roll represent, in cases when it is not strength based, but a firearm?
                              It's not how well you hit - that's done by the attack roll.
                              A low damage roll does not represent only grazing the target - That's a bad attack roll or a good counter in the form of a dodge or parry.
                              It's not the target resisting the damage - That's done by soak.
                              Yet the damage roll is very random in its results, easily spanning a rollable range that goes from 'hardly a scratch' to 'You dead now' in a single weapon, -separate- from how good the hit was.

                              The damage roll does not seem to represent any actual in-world mechanics when shooting modern guns - It is an arbitrary randomness that does not seem to reflect any actual in-world event or circumstance or property, especially given how hard it can change the results, but is not explained by good/bad aim or soaking.
                              And I think the best proof of that -is- the fact that there is hardly any (if at all) description of magick that actually modifies this roll..when we have countless examples of magick modifying in-world reality all over. For all intents and purposes, if a sniper round hits a target square and center with an insane attack roll result, I fail to think of any IC circumstance that would cause hardly any damage to apply because the damage roll sucked hard. It seems almost..a pure OOC mechanic in the case of firearms.

                              An interesting observation, yet so obvious. Hrm.


                              cWoD Dice Probability Chart ||| cWoD Dice Statistics Calculator ||| cWoD Alternative Armor System
                              cWoD Alternative Damage Roll System ||| My explanation of cWoD Damage Levels ||| 'Interesting' Strength Attribute Stuff
                              EXPLOSIVE cWoD STUFF! ||| How Technocrats don't think they are Mages

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X