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Author Topic: Sletch pontificates on gun combat in SC3  (Read 11826 times)
Sletchman
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« on: March 27, 2012, 04:39:32 AM »

Just considering guns today (as you do...) and I was thinking that some of the rules don't quite work for me.

Consider Autofire: You spend 6 seconds to fire between 3 and 30 rounds from your weapon.  If we look at an AK-47 (a fairly ubiquitious AR), with it's 600RPM firing rate, you can accomplish that in 3 seconds max - and no one ever burns an entire mag (unless they're rollplaying someone with no real firearms training).  That's before we talk about weapons with either a higher rate of fire (proper machine guns) or modifications that can up the firing rate substantially (I've seen a 750RPM AK-47 on discovery channel and a micro Uzi @1000 ).  The penalties are also pretty huge (representing recoil and muzzle climb) - but what about weapons that are bolted onto 5-6 tonnes of truck?  I've seen guys firing full auto mounted weapons and getting groups the size of a rockmelon (canteloupe to some?) - so the -10 to hit anything at all seems a little off there.

I'm not sure what the best solution for that one is - GURPS has RoF rules, which for a cinematic game are probably a little too much to bother with, so I'm not sure that's the solution.  Dropping Autofire to a half action would work for 99% of application (I can't think of any weapon you can Autofire that has such a low RoF that a half action becomes a problem - not off hand anyway).

Strafe has the same issues as Autofire really.  Again, I think the penalties (increasing Defence in this case) are a little too harsh - especially with weapons that are designed to mitigate the cause (mounted weapons, emplaced weapons etc).

I think a big part of what I'm pondering here comes down to - is it possible to have recoil rules that are quick, easy and work properly?  The SC2 recoil rules basically got thrown out for anything that wasn't insane by my group (burst firing a .50 Desert Eagle for instance would be "insane").  But if something that works could be figured out I think it'd be a great benefit to the game - you could put precision small caliber, low recoil, fire onto a target rapidly, but it would be far harder to do it with a large caliber weapon (MP5 vs Thompson / AR-15 vs AK-47).  

My off the cuff thought about that was build it into the guns stat line - M-16: Mode: Single, Burst (3), Auto (30/3).  To break it down - the weapon can fire in single shot, a 3 round burst, or autofire up to 30 rounds as a half action with a recoil value of 3.  The recoil value means that each successive shot from an autofire hits for each multiple of 3 you exceed the targets defence.  Higher recoiling weapons will have higher values.

I think cover fire and supressing fire could be combined into one action - they serve the same overall function, especially in tactical/joint actions.  One guy runs to an objective / downed ally while the other one lays down supressive fire on some hostiles that are attacking the team.  The hostiles make their morale check to avoid the penalties, and if any of them leave cover they might cop a bullet.  Easy.  I'm ok with this being a full round action, taking multiple bursts of fire from the user (in fact I'd up it's ammo cost too) - it fits what the person is doing with their time thematically.

Thoughts?

(Sorry for the long post, I had a short discussion with a mate at uni and well here we are...)
« Last Edit: March 28, 2012, 02:16:04 PM by Crafty_Alex » Logged
MilitiaJim
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« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2012, 09:49:47 AM »

Thoughts?
It's a bit early for thinking, but I'll dig into my five years as a machine gunner.

They're reasonable reflections of reality.  Not perfect simulations, not rejections of physics, but a good balance of simulation and ease.

Dumping 30 rounds into a cantaloupe is hard.  There are folks who can do it, but it takes a Lot of practice.

Strafe is pretty much the same, it gets more difficult to keep the rounds going where you want as the burst gets longer.

Mounting a machine gun on a vehicle doesn't change the need to brace.  HMMWV pintle or tripod in the dirt, you need to brace to make a decent shot.

Suppressive Fire and Cover Fire are mechanically different enough to stay separate.  It wouldn't hurt to change their names.

Keep up the thinking and asking, and good hunting!
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« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2012, 10:22:20 AM »

They're reasonable reflections of reality.  Not perfect simulations, not rejections of physics, but a good balance of simulation and ease.

Ok, I've literally fired a fully automatic weapon once in my life - so not a heap of experience.  But I really can't understand why it takes 6 seconds do do what takes a 1 second trigger squeeze.  If it's about aiming or bracing then surely you start to dance pretty close to the idea that you need to aim/brace to avoid penalties with any attack.  If it was a half action that requires bracing, that's a different thing - but someone who is braced already shouldn't be forced to do it again.  So, honestly, why does it?

Quote
Mounting a machine gun on a vehicle doesn't change the need to brace.  HMMWV pintle or tripod in the dirt, you need to brace to make a decent shot.

Surely it must have an effect though?  I wasn't talking about negating the need to brace, but it being physically unable to lift the way a shoulder fired weapon can must do something about keeping a weapon more on target?

Quote
Suppressive Fire and Cover Fire are mechanically different enough to stay separate.  It wouldn't hurt to change their names.

Ignoring mechanics and just thinking about real world here - what's the real difference between these actions?  In both cases aren't you putting lead around a target to keep them pinned down?  All I could find was Covering Fire and Supressive Fire - which really suggests the same goals.  Keep the enemy from firing back accurately.  They also both suggets far more then 5 rounds of ammo being used (which makes a lot of sense).
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« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2012, 12:14:55 PM »

I was going to argue that I'm ok with the difference between cover fire and suppressing fire, but looking at it again in a critical light, I changed my mind.  They do nearly the same thing, except one targets people and the other targets space.  Replacing the words 'opponent' or 'space' with 'opponent or space' makes them identical in every meaningful way.  I also agree that they should use more ammo than they do.  I think the reason they only use 5 bullets is so that if you're playing a cop drama, Murtaugh can cover Riggs with his revolver and still have 1 bullet left to dramatically shoot the guy that was trying to sneak up behind Riggs.

As far as autofire goes, that's a difficult problem.  I don't think even a very strong and well trained shooter is likely to be more effective spending 3-4 seconds emptying his magazine at a target than he is spending the same 3-4 seconds firing 3-4 short controlled bursts at a target.  What do you think about this: When you use the burst action with a weapon with a burst or auto mode, you can make a single follow up burst at the same target with a penalty to the attack, say -5 or so.  This might also increase the error range or reduce your initiative.  Maybe have "Follow Up Burst" be it's own trick that you have to take separately?  At this point I'm really just thinking out loud.

Back in the day, D20 modern handled autofire as an area effect, and I always liked that better.  A trained shooter doesn't just unload his weapon at a single target, but he might do it at a group of targets, or a big target like a vehicle.  Under that interpretation of autofire, strafe would then just be a different shape of autofire.  And of course, when an untrained shooter just unloads their weapon at a target, they're not especially likely to hit anything they wanted to hit.
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« Reply #4 on: March 27, 2012, 12:40:55 PM »

As far as autofire goes, that's a difficult problem.  I don't think even a very strong and well trained shooter is likely to be more effective spending 3-4 seconds emptying his magazine at a target than he is spending the same 3-4 seconds firing 3-4 short controlled bursts at a target.  What do you think about this: When you use the burst action with a weapon with a burst or auto mode, you can make a single follow up burst at the same target with a penalty to the attack, say -5 or so.  This might also increase the error range or reduce your initiative.  Maybe have "Follow Up Burst" be it's own trick that you have to take separately?  At this point I'm really just thinking out loud.

That's a really interesting point, and one that really gets the wheels turning.  Mechanically (and only mechanically) what's the difference between shooting 12 shots in 3 seconds "at once" and shooting 12 shots in 3 seconds as 3 quick bursts?  A trained shooter will be doing the latter of course but since we're using a 3 second half action you can't break actions down quite as much as you can with a 1 second round (where the person will be taking several seperate bursts).

I know from my own range time (and the 3 mags I got to go through with the automatic - wish I was allowed more time to play around) that I can put 3 bursts in 3 seconds into a fist sized group, but when I just rock 'n' rolled I put about 2 rounds total on the target (just from 50 metres, circular paper targets).
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MilitiaJim
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« Reply #5 on: March 27, 2012, 03:00:20 PM »

But I really can't understand why it takes 6 seconds do do what takes a 1 second trigger squeeze.  ...  So, honestly, why does it?
Tfwfh has the right of it.  You don't rip of a thirty round burst, not if you want most of those rounds to even scare your target.  Four to seven bursts, weapon dependent:  SAW down a hallway, probably six; M-240 in the woods across a field, three or four; Ma Deuce on a HMMWV, four comes to mind.  Bracing and Aiming are -ing useful.  One reason Marksmanship Basics is great even if your character isn't a dedicated combatant is the "Brace as Free Action" that it allows.

Surely it must have an effect though?  I wasn't talking about negating the need to brace, but it being physically unable to lift the way a shoulder fired weapon can must do something about keeping a weapon more on target?
It will keep you from shooting nearby birds, but won't keep the weapon near enough to on target avoid missing clean.

All I could find was Covering Fire and Supressive Fire - which really suggests the same goals.  Keep the enemy from firing back accurately.  They also both suggets far more then 5 rounds of ammo being used (which makes a lot of sense).
[/quote]Which is why they need new names.  The "Suppressive Fire" action is a lot more like overwatch by fire than either of those two links, sort of like a Ready action, but not quite. 
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« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2012, 12:46:45 AM »

But I really can't understand why it takes 6 seconds do do what takes a 1 second trigger squeeze.  ...  So, honestly, why does it?
Tfwfh has the right of it.  You don't rip of a thirty round burst, not if you want most of those rounds to even scare your target.  Four to seven bursts, weapon dependent:  SAW down a hallway, probably six; M-240 in the woods across a field, three or four; Ma Deuce on a HMMWV, four comes to mind.  Bracing and Aiming are -ing useful.  One reason Marksmanship Basics is great even if your character isn't a dedicated combatant is the "Brace as Free Action" that it allows.

I meant mechanically - not real world.  The physical time it takes to do the action is 1-2 seconds.  I'm asking why in game it should take 6 seconds for an action that takes 1-2.

EDIT: For Pat / Alex - If you guys wanna seperate this stuff out into a thread titled like "Wherein Dave pontificates on firearms and gaming" or something, that's cool.
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2012, 08:07:32 AM »

I meant mechanically - not real world.  The physical time it takes to do the action is 1-2 seconds.  I'm asking why in game it should take 6 seconds for an action that takes 1-2.
Because they are simulating the difference between "fling thirty hunks of lead" and "put lead into target."  The real world action is 5-9 seconds, why should the game action not be six second?
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"Quemadmodum gladius neminem occidit, occidentis telum est."  ("A sword is never a killer, it's a tool  in the killer's hands.")
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2012, 10:44:43 AM »

I meant mechanically - not real world.  The physical time it takes to do the action is 1-2 seconds.  I'm asking why in game it should take 6 seconds for an action that takes 1-2.
Because they are simulating the difference between "fling thirty hunks of lead" and "put lead into target."  The real world action is 5-9 seconds, why should the game action not be six second?

It is?  I honestly didn't know that - my own shooting experience was the opposite (10 seconds for an entire magazine on target - so a half action averages to 3 bursts).  Differences between range time and actual combat I guess?  Luckily, I've been able to avoid shooting at anything capable of calculus.
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« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2012, 11:55:12 AM »

I think another consideration regarding time:action equivalency is that the combat round, while encompassing 6 seconds of time to a fairly high degree of detail, does NOT model every possible thing that happened in that time. Frex, autofire: you spend a full action to autofire, but is that actually 6 seconds of standing there shooting at a target? Probably not - in that time you are likely also taking a 5 ft step (free action in-game, but takes time and breaks your firing, likely), ducking bullets (getting attacked and missed), getting shot (attacked and hit) and/or doing stuff like pulling the weapon up to shoulder, dropping to firing stance, or whatevs (something that has no in-game consideration at all, beyond taking a specific, involved Brace action). This is all stuff that we gloss over for good reasons - like making the game rounds not take 2 hours each Smiley - but would be a consideration for calculating what a full action really means when translated to real world time.
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« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2012, 12:41:31 PM »

Fair points Alex.  Most of this started when another GM mate of mine at uni and I discussed how in my GURPS game the group extensively used supressive fire, as well as automatic fire, strafing and several other combat options.  In the Spycraft games I've run (and there has been quite a few) it is always Burst (including 2 shot burst from Autofire Basics) or Headshot (Target in the Well).  Even Aim/Brace almost never gets used unless they are actually required for the next action (or for the rare extreme range shot where you need every little bit).

I'm not saying anything as it stands is bad (quite the contrary) - I'd just like to see these options become more attractive for the player (while hopefully still staying in the realms of "cinematic realism").  I love the way Fantasy Craft makes combat so diverse, and I'd love to see modern combat be equally diverse at the table.

Honest question to the general forum: Am I in the minority of Spycraft GMs in that my players consider those alternate options (Autofire, Strafe, Covering Fire) "pretty useless"?  Or have more players come to the same conclusion as mine?
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« Reply #11 on: March 28, 2012, 01:33:40 PM »

When I Spycraft regularly, Autofire was not something that I normally did.  Stiff price, risk of failure and all that, but it comes in handy once in a while.

Aim and Brace I used all the time, together because I had taken Marksmanship Basics.  Half action for a +2 to hit?  Yes please.
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« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2012, 02:07:52 PM »

See - my players never use Aim.  Maybe they just consider +1 to not be worth their time?  I got to admit I really like GURPS varied aim bonus based on the weapons accuracy instead of a flat +1 - and they aim all the time when we play it (though it's range penalties are harsh - so that's likely a factor too).  I would still like to see that come into Spycraft - Aiming a high precision rifle with match grade scope, mechanics, and barrel that you've ranged in should provide more accuracy then, say, a musket.

Also: Alex (if it were you who moved the thread) - I just noticed you misspelt the title!  Lucky you have an editor for the books.  Tongue
(Just a friendly jab - don't take it too serious.)
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« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2012, 02:08:58 PM »

My players avoided gunfights semi-regularly, but when they came up the order of the day was to dive for cover, fire in bursts, and aim and brace when possible. Autofire was used by people who put some effort into it via feats and gear choices. Cover and suppressing fire was used to effect when manuvering for a flank.

The ambush was the number one tactic though. They hated a standup fight.
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« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2012, 02:15:48 PM »

I'm not saying anything as it stands is bad (quite the contrary) - I'd just like to see these options become more attractive for the player (while hopefully still staying in the realms of "cinematic realism").  I love the way Fantasy Craft makes combat so diverse, and I'd love to see modern combat be equally diverse at the table.

Honest question to the general forum: Am I in the minority of Spycraft GMs in that my players consider those alternate options (Autofire, Strafe, Covering Fire) "pretty useless"?  Or have more players come to the same conclusion as mine?

These are both fair concerns, and ones Pat and I share as well. I am one of those folks who have always been a little puzzled at Suppressing Fire vs. Cover Fire - while I understand the mechanical difference, I tended to see Cover Fire as both superior (does a good job at limiting your target - a square is pretty easy to avoid) and inferior (no chance of hitting them). Autofire vs. Burst was a similar situation. Without tipping my hand with the exact mechanic, I will say I'm taking a very careful look at all these fire combat options to try to bring bigger reward to the more costly ones and make others which have a number of drawbacks more attractive.
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"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" - Leonardo da Vinci

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