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Fixing V20's Alpha Strike combat problem...

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Chris24601 View Post
    Honestly, V5 had the seed of the right idea in stripping down combat to simple opposed rolls (and making ranged combat not key off Dex) but I think went a little too far in that you could resist gunfire with gunfire of your own and do damage with a win making any sort of defensive approach a loser’s game (you can a high shooting ability to defend against attacks and do damage if you roll well or you can have a high dodge and still take damage if you lose, but gain nothing if you win).
    I don't wanna dog on V5 too much (I do but, y'know, rulers) but I really like going gritty simulation and V5 really doesn't have much from the tactical perspective; in V5 you simply want one good dice pool and you'll go through every fight fine. V5 combat is great if you want to skip over combat or you're really happy to rule-of-cool narrate stuff, but not if you want to get actual enjoyment from strategic planning or the mechanics of an actual fight.

    (though, too it's credit, defending from gunfire with more gunfire is kinda how a lot of real gunfights go. Supressing fire and all. If your enemy is too afraid to put himself out there into the storm and shoot back you've done a good job defending yourself.)


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    • #32
      We play tested this last night and it was a huge success to fixing the Alpha Strike problem, and also makes Elders the terrifying bogeymen they should be, instead of some paper tigers that are KO'd by a couple ghouls with assault rifles:

      >Fortitude automatically soaks all primarily physical damage, at the Soak phase. Fire, Sunlight, primarily magic attacks, you still roll for.
      >You have a Defense stat that is equal to the lower of your Dexterity and Wits. This subtracts dice from attacks against you that you are aware of on a 1:1 basis.
      >Celerity costs 1bp per extra action, and is not subject to per turn spending limits. Any unused dots in Celerity in a turn add to your Defense, and to your attack rolls in that turn.
      >Auspex automatically sees through Obfuscate, instead of needing to activate Auspex 1 to see through Obfuscate

      We play tested this for about three hours last night and found:
      >Vamps heavily invested in combat would be nigh untouchable and be walking tanks and combat machines
      >Celerity and Active Defense was actually viable, and a strat involving goading an opponent into burning all their blood up front was quite viable
      >Ambushes from weaker opponents were far less lethal, and a fighting chance was given against opponents on equal footing, though it wasn't as big a chance as in a D20 system (I'm fine with this: ambushes are deadly!)
      >Auspex was the prime tool for negating ambushes with Obfuscate; an opponent heavily invested in combat disciplines and Auspex was eventually killed by a sniper with a Thaumaturgical bullet
      >Non combat methods of killing vampires (fire, explosions, etc) remained deadly, though Elders with enough Fortitude withstood the attacks long enough to theoretically save themselves sometimes

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      • #33
        Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
        Real war is entirely dependent on whether you can get the first hit in... but I get what you mean.


        You can and should split the dice pool. That's the natural approach to combat; If I'm an armed human with "five dice" in fighting and I'm in an even fight, I'm likely going to spend 2 on attacking and 3 on defending, because my life is more important than hurting the other guy. In another scenario, I could go 4 attack, 1 defence if I have an advantage, I am unarmed, and want to end things quickly but I'm still not 100% on my target's ability to fight back after I get my hit in. Humans are naturally cautious because nobody wants to get injured.

        I recommend you ignore the "use the lowest dicepool if you're splitting die" rule.
        I also don't count carry-over after 4. Five successes is the best you hit you can get, otherwise you can explode people with a .22 pistol if you have high enough dexterity, it's silly. This encourages splitting dice pools because getting 6+ successes isn't good for anything but mitigating the effects of a dodge/block roll.
        Use pre-revised soak rules: vampires can soak bites,claws, burning blade, and other non-fire,non-sunlight, non-faith sources of aggravated damage, they just struggle to heal it. This stops all-in Protean builds from being king.

        For more realism, you can remove the armour dexterity penalty and double the protection dice if the armour is well made for the threat it's been hit with.


        exploding someone with a .22 is called hitting them through the eye or temple, or at the base of the skull into the brain stem. Their is a reason 22 and similar calibres turn up in secret service use is this capability, combined with small size of the weapon and ease of suppression. (for example the 5,45 x 18mm PSM pistol of the KGB, or the Beretta m71 used by Mossad in .22 LR)
        Last edited by Taggie; 04-29-2022, 09:12 AM.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Taggie View Post



          exploding someone with a .22 is called hitting them through the eye or temple, or at the base of the skull into the brain stem. Their is a reason 22 and similar calibres turn up in assassinations is this capability, combined with small size of the weapon and ease of suppression. (for example the 5,45 x 18mm PSM pistol of the KGB)
          https://youtu.be/txOqq5D-oIk

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Hades View Post


            hadn't realised Garand Thumb had done a vid, was going off Nine Hole reviews comments.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Taggie View Post



              exploding someone with a .22 is called hitting them through the eye or temple, or at the base of the skull into the brain stem. Their is a reason 22 and similar calibres turn up in secret service use is this capability, combined with small size of the weapon and ease of suppression. (for example the 5,45 x 18mm PSM pistol of the KGB, or the Beretta m71 used by Mossad in .22 LR)

              I'd imagine the secret service compensate for low power by shooting A Bunch Of Times rather than with unreal aim, but this doesn't really matter when we deal with vampires, who don't need their brains to function and are really more concerned with massive structural damage, which just can't be done with a .22. It's also a poor idea when you consider all the resistances of supernaturals be it tough flesh, tough hides, Caine/luna's armour-style force fields, force negating Fortitude and so on and so forth.

              But, another thing you can do to spice up combat and reward successes is actually treat combat successes like regular successes and grant worse effects for marginal successes and special bonuses for exceptional successes. Like avoiding armour, hitting a sensitive spot, knocking the opponent off their feet and so on.


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              • #37
                Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post


                I'd imagine the secret service compensate for low power by shooting A Bunch Of Times rather than with unreal aim, but this doesn't really matter when we deal with vampires, who don't need their brains to function and are really more concerned with massive structural damage, which just can't be done with a .22. It's also a poor idea when you consider all the resistances of supernaturals be it tough flesh, tough hides, Caine/luna's armour-style force fields, force negating Fortitude and so on and so forth.

                But, another thing you can do to spice up combat and reward successes is actually treat combat successes like regular successes and grant worse effects for marginal successes and special bonuses for exceptional successes. Like avoiding armour, hitting a sensitive spot, knocking the opponent off their feet and so on.


                Depends, but in every case they are point blank range and go for the head/heart weapons 20ft is about it. The Vampires soak/fort/wards etc already make them insanely tough, if someone gets enough damage past that defence, then they did the internal decapitation shot, or scrambled the brain/heart so badly that it forces torpor, takes an immense amount of luck to do, but should be possible, firearms are basically the most successful personal weapon ever for a reason.

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                • #38
                  >Vampires don't need their brains
                  My lifetime 300 or so decapitation rolls seem to suggest otherwise. Additionally, I'm not sure if its RAW but I've always played that headshots with firearms were Lethal damage.

                  I'm pretty sure most US government agencies use 9mm as the standard pistol caliber, but this has to do with their expected engagement distance and desired effect. The .22lr is great for a hitman because hitmen are most probably close ambush predators shooting people's faces at point blank range, which is great for the .22lr. Law Enforcement is expected to engage live and moving targets out to 25 yards and are expected to incapacitate them. The .22lr fails miserably at this, as it does not do enough structural damage to incapacitate. As an allegory, a cop friend of mine once pursued a suspect who had been shot 17 times with a .22lr and found him three hours later in a local bar drinking beer. When he was taken out of the bar, under his own power, his shoes were sloshing in his blood.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Hades View Post
                    >Vampires don't need their brains
                    My lifetime 300 or so decapitation rolls seem to suggest otherwise. Additionally, I'm not sure if its RAW but I've always played that headshots with firearms were Lethal damage.

                    I'm pretty sure most US government agencies use 9mm as the standard pistol caliber, but this has to do with their expected engagement distance and desired effect. The .22lr is great for a hitman because hitmen are most probably close ambush predators shooting people's faces at point blank range, which is great for the .22lr. Law Enforcement is expected to engage live and moving targets out to 25 yards and are expected to incapacitate them. The .22lr fails miserably at this, as it does not do enough structural damage to incapacitate. As an allegory, a cop friend of mine once pursued a suspect who had been shot 17 times with a .22lr and found him three hours later in a local bar drinking beer. When he was taken out of the bar, under his own power, his shoes were sloshing in his blood.


                    Headshots with firearms do Lethal, (can't remember which edition, or if it changed, but have used that rule since the bruising/lethal split came in)

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                    • #40
                      Lethal damage and headshots varies a bit by edition. But usually it's a bit more situational that lets the ST draw the line on a more case-by-case consideration. Basically the books encourage this to be reserved for high caliber weapons, or situations where the vampire is relatively helpless to avoid being shot (even incidentally like running around in a fight).

                      So two vampires having a "wild west show down" with .22 guns isn't going to do lethal even with called head shots, but successfully sneaking up on a vampire with a suppressed .22 and plugging them in the back of the head would be lethal.

                      Meanwhile any successful headshot with a 12 gauge shotgun might be lethal to some STs.

                      A lot of STs just rule all headshots are lethal damage so they don't have to get into this consideration every time (and also the don't want to have debates about it, esp. if they have a gun enthusiast player and they don't know jack about real guns).

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                        Lethal damage and headshots varies a bit by edition. But usually it's a bit more situational that lets the ST draw the line on a more case-by-case consideration. Basically the books encourage this to be reserved for high caliber weapons, or situations where the vampire is relatively helpless to avoid being shot (even incidentally like running around in a fight).

                        So two vampires having a "wild west show down" with .22 guns isn't going to do lethal even with called head shots, but successfully sneaking up on a vampire with a suppressed .22 and plugging them in the back of the head would be lethal.

                        Meanwhile any successful headshot with a 12 gauge shotgun might be lethal to some STs.

                        A lot of STs just rule all headshots are lethal damage so they don't have to get into this consideration every time (and also the don't want to have debates about it, esp. if they have a gun enthusiast player and they don't know jack about real guns).

                        Fair, I would argue that an active shoot out is not a situation where called shots are reasonable anyway, but ymmv.

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                        • #42
                          Revised and V20 had 'blunt' attacks aimed at vital organs as lethal damage (V20, p.285). I reckon that covers the brain, and probably shooting, too. Bullets aren't blunt, but it seems silly that a fist can cause lethal where a bullet can't, so I have to assume the RAI was that 'blunt' is supposed to indicate sources of bashing damage rather than being literally only blunt objects.

                          To simplify dice rolling, V20DA has *both* damage and soak as static numbers rather than dice rolls, which I think works nicely and you should consider. So you could still speed things up by not rolling damage and making that a fixed number too. That results in a fixed soak of (Stamina + Fortitude, + armour if worn) versus fixed damage of (weapon damage + extra successes, + Potence if in close combat).

                          It actually makes armour a bit more desirable, too, as otherwise you only have two factors going into your soak (Stamina + Fortitude) versus up to three from damage (when you factor in the extra successes and Potence).

                          I'm also a fan of letting vamps soak non-bane aggravated with Stamina + Fortitude. It means lupine attacks and vampire bites are still devastating (teeth and claws take ages to heal and loads of vitae) but without so many TPKs. It's nice and simple.

                          If Dex is too powerful, you can always make firearms attacks with Perception and base Initiative off Wits + Perception instead of Dexterity. That way, ranged attackers have more of a chance of going first over Brawl and Melee fighters, since shooters will focus on Perception. This is more like V5's manner of handling initiative order and makes guns a bit more appealing.
                          Last edited by adambeyoncelowe; 05-04-2022, 10:57 AM.


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                          • #43
                            I find the whole idea of upgrading damage type on vampires based on hitting "vital organs" silly and missing the point. It is, as I see it, an artifact of the simulationist basis on which the system was initially built. Either bullets do Lethal or they do Bashing, and roll with it. Brain shot shouldn't be a concern for a freaking walking corpse, it isn't really working as an actual brain regardless, the same way no other organ is working at all. Not even the heart, that remains only as a mystical seat for your lifeblood, not a meat pump for a circulatory system you don't have anymore.

                            ​Other than that, I like adambeyoncelowe's changes, but wouldn't go further on this. I take WoD as being purposefully too lethal in combat and just accept that, because to tweak the system too much to really make it work it is better to just drop it and get an actually better system and tweak that into allowing WoD splats and style, it's easier if you pick the right system.

                            Then Requiem is the obvious choice, where all those tweaks are already done, and if you really want something more suitable for combat I still think M&M 2nd E would do better.


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                            • #44
                              Simulationist or not, VtM has had a long standing definition of the vampire condition as one where the brain and heart are the only remaining vital organs. If you chop off a vampire's head, it dies. If you rip out its heart, it dies. That's been true of the way VtM (at least Cainite) vampires work for a long time.

                              A called shot to the neck for decapitation is largely unnecessary (and even detrimental depending on how you model it), because you can just say that decapitations are an appropriate description for a sword/etc. that does enough post-soak damage to still kill a vampire in one hit, or the coup de grace on a torpored vampire, etc.

                              But because guns default to bashing damage against vampires makes the "blowing a vampire's head off with a gun," with one shot in the context of the rest of the mechanics is so unlikely as to be safely assumed to be impossible. Hence using called shots to the head to allow parity with blades.

                              Otherwise you have to change the default physiology of vampires as explained in the books. Which is fine, VtR and V5 both did that, but it's important to acknowledge that's what you're doing.

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                                Otherwise you have to change the default physiology of vampires as explained in the books. Which is fine, VtR and V5 both did that, but it's important to acknowledge that's what you're doing.
                                Fair enough, but rules-wise it is bulky. This kind of Called Shot rule is hardly good even in games where the characters have all normal vital spots. It's always the same, a cool idea on paper but the execution is either too unbalanced, making combat repetitive and boring, too weak, so people rarely use the option, or too complicated and unwieldy in play.

                                This one is no exception, combat bogs down even more when called shots are considered. Not to mention that they should be used for everything, as guns aren't the only attacks that are more dangerous if hitting a proper "weak spot". Not to mention that aiming for heads in the heat of battle isn't how an actual battle usually unfolds.

                                But then I could go on, I find it equally stupid that blades cause Lethal to vampires, except for the Cool factor of having them prefer to settle things with blades. Going too much into this rabbit hole will just end up with scrapping the system.

                                Yet, what really matters here, is that while I don't think that tweaking combat rules in WoD is too much worth it, this kind of change work towards the OP's goal: less lethal combat at the get go, so things aren't overwhelmingly decided by Initiative. Wanna keep called shots with anything? Use the staking rule, 5 successes cause an extra effect instead of a general Called Shot doing the trick by itself.


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